The title of the Chapter Two is 'Bengal and North-Eastern India'.
Bengal has been accorded the first place for evaluation. It is as per the blue print described in the first chapter that the region of Bengal has been taken up.
Before, I undertake further discussion, I would like to take up some issues which may not be that important but some questioning on the trends of historiography may bring out a premises which can throw light on the trends in Indian historiography. The first question is that what is the logic of picking Bengal as the first topic of discussion? Can other regions be taken up first? I am of the view that you take up any serious reading of history of India, Bengal dominates. You find more work on Bengal. In case of Imperial historians also, Bengal dominates. Is it a factor, that is, the importance given by Imperial historians to Bengal, that influence the selection? I am collecting digitized books on India. I am observing that works written by missionaries are available in abundance. They have discussed more about South India. Why is it so that Bengal acquires more importance over and above other regions in the history of India?
A similar pattern is observed in case of history of America. You pick a book on history of America and there will be every possibility to find first or second chapter on the European heritage of America and definitely in case of such works which would discuss various religious denominations as a cultural factor in the rise of America.
There must be a reason. The historians should have discussed the reason of choosing Bengal region over and above other regions. I know the arguments in favour of such a selection. But is it fair to do so? Why is the Deccan region not discussed as the Chapter Two in this case? Similarly why is not any other region discussed first?
On the other hand, a case can be presented in favour of the selection. This historian has already pointed out in chapter first that political domination of British was varied. The 'Colonial Milieu' emerged after the political domination and influenced the individual and the section of the society at varied frequencies. The political domination took place in Bengal and culminated with Punjab. The acculturative movement was not sudden. It took time to materialize and it was varied determined by the factor of individual, the culture of the region, the social structure and also the religious affiliation. Therefore, where the political domination started first, the possibility of rise of colonial milieu was earlier.
Even then, the question raised earlier can not be brushed aside or dismantled. The British culture impacted the Indian society. The political domination facilitated the process of impact. It was the vehicle. The social change is natural social phenomena. But, the British culture was there in Surat as well as in Masulipatnam. It was the factory which was the laboratory of impact. It was social class which came in direct contact within the boundary limit of a factory that was at the receiving side and point of contact. The culture could have or rather had percolated through them into the Indian society outside the boundaries of the factories which in itself were small towns. Therefore, to say that political domination was followed by the accultrative movement is not a sustainable thesis. Anyhow, at least for me, it is have given a question.
The chapter has five sections viz. The Setting, A Traditional Movement Among Bengal Muslims, The Creation of the Colonial Milieu, Acculturative Movements Among Bengali Hindus and finally Nineteenth Century Bengal: A Summary.
A new feature is shown here. The section on the transitional movement is preceded by the concept of 'Setting'. The section on acculturative movement is preceded by the concept of 'Colonial Milieu'. In the first chapter, the hint was already there that transitional movement would operate with different premises whereas the acculturative movement was definitely a result of 'Colonial Milieu'.
The first section of the chapter gives the topographic features of Bengal geographical region. However, I am not able to understand the statement that conveys that Bengal remained remained at the edge of the Hindu-Buddhist civilization. Was it so? What was this Hindu-Buddhist civilization?
The second paragraph describes the social structure of Bengal society as developed in historic period. There were five social classes before the arrival of Perso-Arabina culture.
The five social classes were Brahmins - (the vehicle for Sanskrit, Hinduism and caste structure), Kayasthas, Baidyas, Sudras and Untouchables. The Untouchables included the tribals having their own culture and religion. The society had a protest and dissent in form of Buddhism and Jainism. How is it true when this region was on the edge of Hindu-Buddhist civilization as stated in the first paragraph? Anyhow, Kashtriyas and Vaisyas were missing. This is how the paragraph has conveyed to me its contents.
The third paragraph introduces to historic entry of Preso-Arabian civilization in the thirteenth century. It came as a opposition not as a protest or dissent. It came as a political competitor. The Perso-Arabian culture introduced the 'foreign' Islam in Bengal. The political domination destroyed the 'relations between Hinduism and State' and Islam created a new socio-religious composition. The social impact was more effective in East Bengal and raised a population of Muslims. On the west side the population retained their Hindu heritage. Further, the Islam created a horizontal social reordering. There was a class of elite Muslims but smaller in size in Urban areas. There was a class of peasant and Untouchables who became Muslims. The elite Muslims were urbanites along with Hindu Urban population and the peasant Muslims were rural society.
The third paragraph further explains a social change. It was caused by use of language. The Sanskrit was pushed back and Persian and Urdu became the language of administration. The rest of the population adopted Bengali. This process of change as presented by the historian may raise many questions and objections in the mind of the readers and seekers but it defines a period in a manner in which the argument of the historian may continue.
The fourth paragraph tells about the arrival of British as merchants and their gradual growth as a political power. The British administration reordered socio-economic system by creating land ownership and job openings in the British administration.
The setting section is brief and completed hurriedly. He has just fixed the boundaries of the premises in which he had to explain the transitional movement in Bengal. Many questions can be raised but the topic is socio-religious movements. But the design which looks so attractive suffers because of hurried and brief description of the historic milieu. The section ends with in a brief space wherein the historian has taken great liberty. The topics taken up in the section are such that references are required but it does not have even a single reference. They are assertions presented in a take it or leave it style.
A TRANSITIONAL MOVEMENT AMONG THE BENGAL MUSLIMS
The 'SETTING' section is followed by second main heading heading as "A TRANSITIONAL MOVEMENT AMONG THE BENGAL MUSLIMS'. The heading 'SETTING' is also written in capital letters. In this section, after the main heading, in the very next space, there is sub-heading "The Fara izis" written in Italicized font. In the whole section there is no other sub heading.
There is need to emphasize that it is the sub heading and the only sub heading in the section. It thereby suggest that there was only one Transitional movement of social change. The argument can be elaborated further. However, here, I am remaining confined to the contents of the book. I can not debate when someone (The author is no more) is not there to counter me.
The Islamic intellectual framework centred around Delhi and Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina and the Bengali Muslims society were the three components of which socio-religious movements in Bengal composed of. The above set of three components can be regrouped in two components by merging the identity of Delhi and beyond Hindukush cities into one single set. Anyhow, this the main argument of the author in the first paragraph of the sub section. In this arrangements, the historian has used the word Saudi Arabia which is out of historic context. If I am wrong, then I am open to correction.
The historian has traced the dynamism of dissent and conflict from the days of Akbar. He traces the influence of Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi upto Aurangzeb period. In this manner, he defines the role of the state in structuring the social dynamism. However, he also attribute this arrangement as a factor that influenced the social change in nineteenth century by becoming the premises and breeding ground for the next development and the development was to be a movement wherein a colonial milieu would be coming up but in case of Muslims society, this very premises would be active. A heritage and colonial change, one a continuity and other a change went side by side.
It is interesting to observe that presently in Indian Universities a new interpretation is doing rounds. In such interpretation, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi is being shown as a liberal and an egalitarian. The concept of natural boundaries of India is undermined with stress on the paradigm that the nation and nationalism is the product of later nineteenth century and if today anyone tries to see nation before eighteenth century then he/she is transposing present paradigm to past which is unhistorical approach of scientific evaluation. Is Marx dying out? Is the God and Thought of Hegel are being reduced to mere mental constructs of historians?
The second paragraph of the section jump starts with reference to Shah Wali Ullah. Shah Wali Ullah is show as a radical and conservative but in comparison to other Islamic preachers, a liberal and moderate. Shah Wali Ullah worked for social unity among the Muslims of the society. He aimed at achieving this by bringing pure Islamic observance. He however, created a conflict with Hindu social heritage and newly emerging British political identity. He translated Quran in Persian, a language understood in Bengali Muslim society and probably a traditional elite group. For this, he faced opposition from the orthodox group. His son, Shah Abdul Qadir, went a set further and translated Quran in idiomatic Urdu.
On the whole, the historian presents that Bengal Muslim socio-religious reform was a result Shah Wali Ullah, Islamic thought of Delhi and al-Wahhab ideology from Saudi Arabia. With these components, the Faraizis movement emerged in Bengal.
In third paragraph, the historian takes up the rise of Faraizi movement. It was founded by Shariat Ullah. Shariat Ullah received his earlier education at Calcutta and Hoogly. He shifted to Mecca for higher education. He also studied at Cairo. In 1820, he started his religious campaign in East Bengal among the peasants. What was the nature of the religious campaign started by him? The historian has not tried to use any adjective for it. Shariat Ullah stressed upon the observance of faraiz and tawhid. He asked the Bengali peasants to abstain from bidah and shirk. His ideology came in conflict with Sadiqi Muslims and Hindus. Th Hindus and Sadiqi Muslims were landlords. Therefore, his religious movement acquired economic and political dimensions. he was followed by his son Mushin-al-Din Ahmad who became more popular as Dudu Miyan. Dudu Miyan raised an effective organization for his faraizi followers among Muslim peasants. He also came in direct conflict with British administration. He was followed by Naya Miyan. During the leadership of Niya Miyan, on the issue of land tenure concerning Indigo cultivation, Faraizis struggle with landlords increased. However, the followers developed good equation with British administration while fighting with landowners. After that Faraizis remained a religious movement with their base among rural peasants who were Muslims.
The above description, which is a brief sketch, is given by the historian in good detail. He has attributed the details to Muin-ud-din Ahmad Khan's "History of the Faradi Movement in Bengal, 1818-1906' published from Pakistan. He has categorically acknowledged it in footnote. In addition to that he has given references to the work of Blair B. King and Tauriq Ahamd Nizami. Some detailed work has been done by the scholars of Bangladesh but there is no reference to their work.
On page 22, he has given the reference to the work of Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi and Tariqha-i-Muhammadiyah. Barelwi was active in Delhi and a detailed work has given in the next chapter. This aspect supports my contention raised in the beginning of the review of this chapter.
Barelawi was represented in Bengal by Titu Mir and Sayyid Ahmad Inyat Ali.
Another movement was started by Maulana Karamat Ali and his Ta aiynni movement.
Hence, three movements started in the 19th century and they developed conflict with each other on ideological grounds with common base of Islam in which they were rooted. In this manner historian thesis is proved that with the arrival of British, the social reform movements emerged not only in conflict with the new state rulers but also because of internal conflicts.. However, all the three movements were transitional movements and their activities were not modified by British culture. The conflict was there because of ideology, the source of ideology that were grounded in Delhi and Saudi Arbia and the conflict on the purity of Islamic way of life and issue of Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-harb. Thus, a conflict situation was there and British arrival created an effect.
One of the prominent factor highlighted by the historian is the use of language by these religious leader. Their language was Bengali regardless of the level of scholarship they had attained. He has counted four movements by including Ahl-i-Hadith whereas I have found good detail on three of them as mentioned above. In case of all of them, they have established scholarship in Arabic language but while interacting with the Bengali rural masses, they used Bengali.
One of the another feature of the methodology of his historian becomes clear in this section. I have already pointed out that at many places, he has used a single source to provide the details. The second feature is that he has referred to numerous articles included in anthologies which have selective editors. He goes more with his argument and bring in lesser data from varied sources. He uses the references merely to develop, support and strengthen his argument. When he goes for a detailed account, he invariably depends upon a single source. I will continue to emphasis this pint wherever there is a case to highlight my observation and argument. I have not make extra efforts because, the historian himself points out such a feature at many places.
Another feature, which is easily discernible, is the structure of this section. The main heading of the section ' A Transitional Movement Among the Bengali Muslims'. It is followed by one single sub heading and that is 'Fara izis'. I am repeating this feature here again as I have already pointed it above. In the body of the section, the historian has discussed four movements namely 'Faraizis', the activities of the disciples of Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi and his Tariqah-i-Muhammadiyah, Mawlana Karamat Ali and his Taaiyuni Movement and finally Ahl-i-Hadith. They were having separate identities. The overall heading heading beings with 'A Traditional Movement'., which justify only one movement. The heading of the section suggests a single movement. There is only one movement which has been notified by a sub heading in concurrence with the main heading. With this premises, there is no space for finding fault. But, the content of the section gasp for different treatment.
There is need to check the actual manuscript. It seems that the section has been edited. Secondly, it seems to be shortened by the peer editors. Where the historian had discussed the 'Faraizi' movement, there is a flow, quantity, details and unity. In case of 'Ahl-i-Hadith' movement, it remains subdued and escapes hurried reading. You tends to remember Faraizi and Tariq-i-Muhammadiyan movement people. In case of Taaiyuni movement, the detail is incomplete. One the whole, it seems that there was a story behind the framing of this section.
THE CREATION OF THE COLONIAL MILIEU
It is the third main heading written in the capital letters. It is as per the designs and theoretical framework already given in the first chapter with an appropriate heading. It is supposed to be followed by Acculturative Movements and it is done in that order. In present volume, it begins from the page 25 and the actual execution of the theoretical framework get executed from here onwards.
The first two lines of this section are 'a priori'. There are no references. Even the heading begins with 'The' - a definite article. The 'Colonial Milieu' is the construct of the historian, a theoretical concept, a hypothesis and an assumption in its wild and crudest form. It is a concept and a tool. As such, it can not be taken as a phenomena in case of South Asia. Probably, it is for this reason, the historian has acquired the liberty to use a priori statements. He writes that there was a limited 'Cultural Interaction'. Can it explain the whole situation in historic context? This is the shortcoming of imperialist interpretation. The 'White Men Burden' theory is definitely a burden for the historians of the west. Their interpretation remains an exercise of an invading race who had displaced an invading race of equally strong feelings and deafening achievements. The west historians forget that they were not 'Huns'. In one of his book, Charles Raikes had written that history is propelled by forces of commerce, followed by missionaries and finally, the military. Now commerce, was the strongest force which brought English merchants out of their 'secluded island' and rest of the European merchants beyond their continent. Hence, to say that there was 'limited forms' is an understatement in case of India. The 'Yavanas' and 'Mallechas' are ancient concepts which were equally alive in seventeenth and eighteenth century. Many other writers had referred to them somewhere to justify the activities and on the other hand to express their disgust while dealing with South Asia. The terms mentioned were born long back due to forms of cultural interaction which were neither 'limited' nor 'restricted'. Nor they are creation of historian's construct or of nineteenth or twentieth century. Stanley Walport in an introduction to one of his book virtually writes a glowing tribute, a panegyric, on the deep cultural interaction between India an western world since antiquity. In short, 'Colonial Milieu' as a new tool is good for any quantitative interpretation but not for qualitative interpretation and to make it an a priori algorithm is going beyond the nicety of new discoveries. The rest of the observations are historic in elaboration but suffers from preceding handicap.
In the second paragraph of this section, a very important line is written. I quote,
"The English of this period (Warren Hastings administration) did not exhibit the sense of racial and cultural superiority so characteristic of nineteenth century."
The above quoted line is highly significant observation. Again the problem with the books is lack of references. Had there been a reference, the historian would have performed his job as per the craft of history. For me, it is highly significant statement or rather 'conclusion' on the actual nature of English in India. I again refer to Charles Raike. Charles Raike was a judicial officer in Company administration and latter under Crown administration. He had written a book, 'The Englishmen of India'. In that book he had traced the development of racial and imperialistic nature of the English in India. The historian has also tried to convey the same impression. Similarly, if we try to study the development of 'Orientalist' and Bengal Asiatic Society, we are made to observe a gradual change in the attitude of English. A historic evaluation is a tricky affair. Herein, the facts are given. You have to understand the time period in which those facts emerged as such. When a person approach history with his pre conceived notions and views, it becomes difficult to recognize a fact for a given time. I fear that many nationalist historians and scholars may not like the observation of the historians as well the view which I have implied to it. There was a development. It was a development of an approach and attitude. The English merchants came and bent upon their knees to seek favours. They faced the same situation in China. They bent to seek commercial favours. They were mesmerized by what they had seen in South Asia. Thomas Roe had underwent the same experience. The merchants were not the professional diplomats. They did not carry the crown on their head. They carried profit and adventurism in their bosoms and on their mind. Hence, to say that they were racial before they visited Akbar or Jahangir could be true but it was not available to them to practice that notion in reality.
The same observation has been distinctively expressed by the historian in second paragraph of this section. He observed that in the eighteenth century, the administration of English were carried away by the English Classicism and the oriental culture was so enchanting that it rather justified the cause of living the English classicism. The English men themselves did not believe what they managed to have conquered. They had admiration for the wealth of knowledge of the orient and somewhere felt that they were destined to loose it soon as the oriental strength was about to reawaken. But the question arises that how does the actual nature of Colonial Milieu cause the reform when it was preceded by a mindset of perplexed and mesmerized aliens?
I am not apologetic for the word 'alien' used in the preceding paragraph. This is not the place to debate on that issue as the issue at hand is the book about which the details are being discussed.
In the same section from page 26, and the third paragraph of this section, and till the sixth paragraph on the page 28, the historian has given a very bright and commendable exposition of the historic reality which can be debated for long. I will take up some of the lines, which are highly significant and a good exercise in interpretation of past. I again repeat that many historians would strongly oppose that has been written but for me, they are touching some such issues which are not well researched. In such a situation, many myths are being carried along and some lessons are being denied to the present times.
Take up this line on page 26:
"In 1800, the Orientalist dream of an acculturated and linguistically proficient administrator found its concrete expression with the establishment of Ft. William College."
The point to be noted in this line is that the historian has suggested that it was the Englishmen who underwent the process of the acculturization. This is such a significant point that my previous judgements and views are again vindicated. The only thing is that such issues and questions have not been rightly researched. Try to answer a question that why did the debate among Orientalist and Anglicist take place? What was to be decided? These questions can only be answered if it is established that acculturization of Englishmen was the first stage which came into existence. No doubt, acculturization is a two way process. Two cultures come near to each other and get influenced by each other. But, here you are talking about history of two countries. Even if you are not ready to grant status of a country to India in nineteenth century, even then, it was a territorial unit which had its own unity and cohesion and new entry was the English merchants in form of a company.
The second line is on page 27 and it goes as follows:
"Thus the British in India followed a pattern similar to other colonial powers who ruled through their own language."
The above line is a historic statement. But again, the book suffers from the major lacuna of absence of references. This point come clear within these four paragraph. On page 26, the historian has quoted David Kopf and made a major point. It has been remarked that during Hastings tenure, when the English were acquiring more and more territories in India, the administration faced a situation wherein, every new area had its own language. Therefore, they administrative machinery which he had created required such officers who could understand the new languages. I should rather quote the phrase and line and it goes as follows:
"Under Hastings senior appointments were reserved for Englishmen who 'demonstrated linguistic proficiency, a deep understanding of India and a sense of benevolent responsibility in regard to Indian people.'"
The bracketed phrase within the quoted lines had been borrowed form David Kopf. It also justify my objection to lack of references at other places. Here, the impact and interpretation are equally recognised and appreciated.
On the other hand, the thesis in this paragraph is about the process which had taken place to decide the issue of language by the British administration and Indian Civil Service officers. The interpretation is short and incomplete because the conclusion is derived in 'jump to conclusion' manner. It writes that it was decided under 'dramatically different circumstance'. Now this is what I call 'Jump to Conclusion' process adopted here. Now doubt, the historian has given historic explanation in the succeeding lines and paragraph. But, some more effort was required to explain this paradigm shift in the preference for the English language. In the preceding paragraph, the historian has built a case, in which he had shown that how vernacular was being adopted as one of the medium of communication. It has already been pointed out and it is categorically written that acculturization of Englishmen took place. It has been pointed out that Hastings opted for such person who had linguistic proficiency. Ft. William was established with some background to the issue and it was an important decision of Wellesley.
The historian has touched the issue of Christian missionary. He has in his explanation referred to changed circumstance after 1813 charter. I believe that was the 'dramatically different circumstance' to which the historian has referred. But, he has also emphasized that debate had taken place. He has also emphasized that how a major work of translation had took place. Then, what did happen that Thomas Babington Macaulay had the final say. I received a jerk when I read the full name of Macaulay. I believe, by producing the whole name of Macaulay, the historian has tried to say things between the line. On the whole, these six paragraphs spread over three pages from page 26 to page 28, are highly significant. They emphasis the need of further research and debate. Such debate would bring to light the process which can be useful for present government of India and even any administration elsewhere. I find these paragraph as one of the finest acts of the historian. Earlier, in previous chapter, the historian has written a finest essay on religious reform history of India. Herein, the issue of language as decided in nineteenth century is presented in highly appreciable manner regardless of the shortcomings which I have pointed out.
On page 28, the issue of selecting of language by the English administration is presented. It started the process of raising the milieu. The historian has not made any such comment. On the other hand he has used two such phrases, if they are taken up by the rest of the historian world, it may change the debate. I put it like this. The historian has pointed out about the existence of 'an acculturated and linguistically proficient administrator on one hand and Anglican elite of India. Now this was the paradigm shift which took place in first three decades of nineteenth century.
Another thing which he has emphasized, and which I have found mentioned by other historians with scant regard to the significance of the fact and that was the way the Orientalist had promoted the vernacular languages. The British administration or rather the company officers found it more sensible and workable to adopt the vernacular language. I have already pointed out that it was Hastings and Wellesley, who took some important decisions in that direction. However, no body had taken up the question that how did the British administration came to decide totally in favour of English language? They just crash all the responsibility on the head of Macaulay. It was not all that simple. There was the rise of 'a new anglicized elite'. There was Ram Mohan Roy and Gour Mohan Addy. The historian has taken up the initiation of the process of cultural change on this very page. The explanation is too short. There is no detailed and statistical validation of the interpretation. It is just an interpretation without reference to documents or to the researches if they are there. This is what we find in every other work. English language was introduced. There was Charter Act 1813. There were missionaries. There was need of lower level administrators who could act as a channel of communication. It is too simplistic explanation which is popular. Just see here. From Hastings to Wellesley, there was tendency to absorb the vernacular language for the administrative purpose. But some thing happened in 1835. Orientalist were there to resist the change. But, the final say was with Macaulay. How did all that happen? The interpretation is incomplete. No body takes up this issue. On the other hand, the present day India, and present Government of India continue to face this problem. The government listen to the economists, IAS officers and journalists. No body cares to listen to these interpretation. They suffer the problem. Telangana problem is there. So is the Bodo and Ghorkha Land problem in Assam. There is a stand taken by Bal Thackery group in Maharashtra. This is the problem of the Indian administration. But there is no solution. The historians and other scholar continue to debate this issue but these three decades are hiding answers to these issues. The historian has touched it to some extent but again the same shortcoming is there. There is superfluous interpretation. Only argument in favour of the historian is that the title of the book is Social and Religious Reforms. But it is he, who has brought the issue of 'Colonial Milieu'. Therefore, some more grounded and deeper work should have been presented here.
The paragraph seven of this section and the first paragraph on page 28 is highly crucial exposition. The historian has stated that there was a literate social group in India. Now this statement comes in conflict with the theory that in India there was no stress on education. In continuation to that statement, the historian again wrote that it was the literate section of the society and here of the Bengal society, which learned English. Now that is the point. It were the Indians who learned English. In the next paragraphs and in reality also, it was Indians themselves who took to learning of English before the Company government and Macaulay would decide the issue in favour of English. It was the Indian social group which had already responded to the new opportunity and at that time, the English administrative section was motivated by Orientalist mindset and English Classicism. This aspect is not emphasized. As a result, till this day, the general public at large and some exclusive section of Indian political world keep on ruing the day when English and Western model of education was introduced in India. They are not studying the history. The historians in India are also not taking up this issue more aggressively where as the whole country which came into existence in 1947 suffers problem due to this unsettled issue. This is a historic reality of India that the Indians tends to show the tendency of receiving and borrowing. I know at I am writing astonishing thing. But look at the trends since the days of Sakas. Even if we do not take it from the time of antiquity, even then since the days of Turkish invasion, and especially from Akbar onwards, it was the Indians who studies Persian and provided the man power to run the lower rung of the Islamic administration. In between conversion might have taken place, but the crucial factor was the tendency of Indians to respond in a particular manner. The historian has written thus. "In previous generations individuals from these groups mastered Persian to gain employment under the Mughals and post empire Muslims rulers." Now here in this line, only out of the place word is 'individuals'. It should have the social section. On the other hand, the theory as given by the historian is that the new opportunities created by the British arrival influenced the section of the Indian society in a 'varied' manner. He keeps on emphasising that the response of the Indian were related to their place in pre-British society. He has not elaborated on this theory but from the very beginning he has been stating this. I must called it as Indian varied response theory. In order to adopt present way of raising terminologies, the IVR theory.
From the eighth paragraph, the historian talks about the new anglicized elite. He has given the process of rise of this elite group in the seventh paragraph. Now here, he has taken them as historic fact. It is again an unexplained historic process. The process of acculturization had yet to take place. It started somewhere in the nineteenth century. I had pointed out in the first chapter review itself that the social change process as defined by historians are incomplete. I believe that some sociologists like M. N. Srinivas must take up this study. The process of Anglicization did not take place when British Administration acquired the full control. Something else had taken place which was there with Indians and in India. It was something else. The social change was there. The British and with them Western thought and culture directed and operated it. But, the actual material, the Indian themselves are to be studied. In Cambridge School, the tone is always that what the British did. The Nationalist historian reacts to what they write. But no one takes up the documents to study what the Indians themselves did. They learned Persian earlier. They learned English. It was neither any Ulema who told them to do. It was nor any missionary who asked them to do. Ulema wanted them to convert. The Missionary wanted them to convert. But there are other factors also which brings the social change. It has to do with economy. It has to do with the intrinsic nature of the society. The Indians had been responding in a peculiar manner. It can be called Indian way of social change. This involves a particular direction and manner of response. They receive the effect and then incorporate it in their mannerism. But they tends to retain their heritage also. This is the way they had been changing all through. They are a master case of change and continuity. They changed but retain their heritage. They bring computer, break the coconut shell to ward off the bad influence of Rahu and place sandal wood paste swastika on their machine. They are not averse to adopt the computers. But they convert it to be part of their heritage. But alas, they British historians have much stressed on the theory that "Indians are Cheat".
Well, the whole paragraph is a detailed explanation of historic nature. There came Hindu College of Ram Mohan Roy. Then came the Calcutta Book Society, a thing which should be studied more deeply along with Bengal Book Society as promoted by the government. It was followed by Calcutta School Society. Then came the Sanskrit College. Gour Mohan Addy brought Oriental Seminary. Now with this background in operation, the missionaries entered. Alexander Duff also opened his school. Now here also, the historian touches the missionary activity. But, through out this work, he has not tried to elaborate on this aspect. It is another annoying thing. Why did he not find the need to show the play of this factor in the social change? Why did he only emphasized the administrative role in reordering of the society? Why has he not given complete paragraphs? He has referred to them at numerous places. But there is one or two lines clubed with explanation of a different process.
The opening line is a categorical statement which I am debating in my previous paragraphs. Let me quote this line.
"Acceptance of English education lay primarily among a small group of Indians clustered in Calcutta." (29)
That is it. This was the historic reality. Macaulayism came later. I am of the view that there was some section in administration at that time, which was able to recognize this as a fact. They came with Macaulay in opposition to the Orientalist group. Macaulay just gave voice to them. Now that group of Englishmen has not be identified by the historians. The whole weight is given to Macaulayism. If the research is taken up with this perspective, a study can be developed and these hidden operator can be exposed. It may help to learn the actual dynamism which came into play that decided the issue of the day in favour of English and Western education. Then we can talk about the social change and the social reform. No doubt, I am highly critical of Kenneth Jones but I am attracted to this book only because of such fine sparkles of interpretation which has increased my confidence of raising objections and emphasizing the gaps in interpretation of Indian history. I must add before leaving the paragraph, that it was not acceptance of English which is the factor. It is actually the IVR that is Indian Varied Response theory. The Varied aspect is that of Kenneth Jones.
In the ninth and tenth paragraphs, the historian has talked the Indian Hindu conservative group response and Indian Hindu Radical Response. It must be remembered that this exposition is about Bengal. He has identified Radhkanta Deb, Rasamoy dtta and Ramkanal Sen, as the memebrs of Hindu Dharma Sabha as the Hindu Conservative group. According to the historian their response was of 'minimal acceptance in given in tenth paragraph. They "wanted the practical advantages afforded by a command of English, but were willing to make only those changes in customary behaviour need to work with the new rulers." (29) This was the actual intrinsic response which had been there during the Mughal government based on Persian model or to the Perso-Arabic culture. The radical group has been identified by historian with the students of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio of Hindu College. There response was that they "enthusiastically embraced all that was English - language, ideas, and customs such as beef-eating and hair-styles." (29) It was a 'maximal" response.
A question comes up here. Is the historian explaining the rise of Colonial Milieu or describing the effect of the milieu? He has faltered here. The milieu, as far I am able to understand from his writing was the rise of a setup in which British administration became the rulers of the time. They opened new jobs opportunities by ending the older one. They introduced new education system. They brought a new administrative setup. That was the milieu. The responses of Conservative group and Radical group was the result of the milieu not the response. Hence, these two paragraphs should have shifted to later part with an exclusive heading.
Anyhow, the historian ends up this section with the noting that the colonial milieu became the cause of redefining for the Indian society and with that he moves to the acculturative movements among Bengali Hindus. There is need to emphasis here that the 'Setting' gave Transitional Movements among Bengali Muslims and Colonial Milieu gave the Acculturative Movements Among the Bengali Hindus. This is what the historian has written and done throughout the book. This is the core of this book.
ACCULTURATIVE MOVEMENTS AMONG BENGAL HINDUS
Unlike the previous section, this section has three sub headings. These headings are 'The Brahmo Samaj', 'Bijoy Krishan Swami and the Vaishnavite Revival' and 'The Ramakrishana Math and Mission'.
The observation which I am to give at the end of this section is taken here before the comment on the actual content of this section. The whole of this section is based on a limited source and that is the work of Farquhar. The historian has given due references. The second most used source is the work of David Kopf. In case of Brahmo Samaj growth he had used the conclusion of Kopf to a large extent. In addition to that he has also mentioned other authors also but as it has been pointed out earlier, they are all part of some compilation. There are one or two extra sources. But, in ultimate analysis, if one goes through Kopf book then nothing new is to be found. I have not read Farquhar so I can not say much but the historian himself has been quoting him at number of places. He has given special note on the efficacy and the completeness of the contents in his book in the Bibliography essay, the essential and appreciable feature of this publication and project.
Bijoy Krishan Goswami was influenced by Brahmo Samaj. He was a Vaishnavite and returned to that fold at the last stage of his life. If it is permitted then, it can be said that Bijoy Krishan activities were just an offshot of Brahmo Samaj and thus forms a part of it. If this premises is taken, then the section contains only two parts and they can be Brahmo Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission. Even then, the main heading of Acculturative movement has atleast two sub sections whereas the Transitional section has only one sub section. Hence, from this point of view, the framing of chapter is not given much thought. As I have already pointed out, there is a need to check the actual manuscript. Kenneth might have written more on the topic and it seems it had been edited either due to restraint of the pages to be used or some other policy of the project. On the whole, the framing of the chapter and sudden shift in the tone of the contents and disruption in the continuity of historic references are quite apparent. Somewhere, there are some portions which are written deftly and they are complete. On the other hand, your mind gasp for more details when the historian just move on to some other elucidation. Therefore, there are gaps.
The Brahmo Samaj
This is the first sub heading under the main heading of Acculturative Movement. The contents of this subsection or rather the whole section can be well appreciated from the point of view of writing historic work if one reads the very first paragraph of this book in Chapter One and immediately after that this section. One will definitely observe that how an analytical framework is to be redelivered in practice while writing history. The paragraph suggested is the actual frame for interpretation and this section is the contents and demonstrates that how a work of history is made to be written. From this angle, this book turns out be an example in perfection of performing the act of writing of history. History writing is an art. The general students and even many teachers may not understand that how history is to be written. They are immured so much by the point (Headings of paragraphs approach) and elaboration structure of text based work that they forget that the history is a philosophy which requires wider perspective and perception. It requires an extended intellectual frame work. In it, the data, the events, persons and place are to laid in such a progression that an idea is conveyed without specifically writing about it. It is a craft in which exact rules are not laid as such but there are definitely bindings of arrangement of data and progression of evidences to present the argument and thus perform the work of interpretation. Now, here, Kenneth Jones is perfect in his craft. One may be critical about the contents, references, and details about an event or person but from this point onwards, the perfection of historian leaves no space to be used for raising objection about the quality of the work. No doubt, in this very section, there is a first case of grammatical omission/mistake. My present review has a large number of mistakes which I continue to edit in my previous sections. The bias of the historian his identifiable. I continue to debate it and will do so till the end of this book. The limited references are there. The historian is using an 'ideal type' for interpretation and thus using limited references as he is more focused on giving his argument which he has presented in the first paragraph of this book. On the whole, the design as identified by the historian is being displayed in its vital entrails from this section onwards. The issue of 'Settings' and then transitional movements remains an added feature. In first paragraph of the book, the historian stated the actual contents of the social religious reform movement in British India and from here onwards, it demonstrates that how the British India defined and influenced the social religious reform movement.
I understand that I have praised the historian in previous paragraph. I have been criticising him for the last one chapter also. I can argue against his point of view. I can demonstrate a flaw in New Cambridge History writing with additional evidence in work of John F. Richards, one of the editor and author of Mughal Empire under the same series. I can highlight the biases. But, there is need to accept and recognize the perfection of methodology of writing the work of history and the work begins with perfection from this section.
The sub-heading 'The Brahmo Samaj' begins with the biography of Raja Rammohum Roy. If you want a detailed biography, then it is not there. Similarly, the next person taken up is Debendranath Tagore and then followed by Keshav Chandra Sen. There is reference to the activities of Pratop Chandra Majumdar, Bijoy Krishan Goswami, Durga Mohan but no reference to Sivanath Shastri though enough logical references to Sadharan Brahmo Samaj and surprisingly more, a work written by Sivanath Shastri is given in references. If you seek a detailed development of Brahmo Samaj then you may find that major events in the development of Brahmo Samaj upto to Sadharan Brahmo Samaj along with works in printed forms are given but they can not be considered as a well worked out study. The core remains attached to the first paragraph of the book. It has been shown as an acculturative result wherein Trust deeds are signed, registered, rise of dissent and protest, printing activities, meetings, writing of constitutions etc. are identified. As a result, you find that Brahmo Samaj was a result of acculturation process. The elements of Christianity as it influenced Keshav Chandra Sen, the foreign visits of the members of Brahmo Samaj as an act of protest against the myths and dogmas which were to be reformed are there but not in detail. There are no references to the influence of Christianity on Raja Rammouhan Roy and his expertise over English which took him to London as a representative of Nana Sahib and the controversies which came up in England. No doubt, his views on Christianity and its comparative position vis-à-vis Hinduism as presented by Raja Rammouhan Roy is given. It is a form of a conclusion but reference to this conclusion is to J. N. Farquhar as already emphasised elsewhere. There are no references to the activities of Raja Rammouhan Roy about raising of Vedic Schools. Actually, the whole topic is restricted by the pages to be used, a feature which becomes apparent again and again. There is a flow in the argument as it develops but there is sudden snapping of the monologue. It irritates. Kenneth Jones knew his subject. He writes well. He performs the act of historian as a perfect historian but arguments suddenly snaps. May be the topic is to show socio religious reforms as a result of acculturative process and where that is achieved while developing the argument and movement the target is achieved, it is stopped there and then.
While discussing the activities of Raja Rammouhan Roy, a presentation really attracted me. The historian has been able to emphasize the expertise of Raja Rammouhan Roy over Persian. Then, at a later place, he has shown as how the historic persona gave preference to Bengali. It is an important feature which turns up in his presentation. We must try to understand that it was a Persian Administration which was replaced by English Administration. Even before English was taken up as a decided language, there was a big controversy about selection of the language which the government of the time was expected to adopt. The issue has been taken by most of historians as a controversy between Orientalist and Anglicist. There are records wherein you find that how it was being debated even before the arrival of Macaulay. This historian has identified by the contribution of Robert B. Wray in casting Bengali type in 1778. I have found reference to Robert B. Wray only in this book. This is rather a gap in the study of the developments during eighteenth and nineteenth century when Company government was on the course of establishing its government. No doubt that the issue of the day was decided by Macaulay but before that a debate had taken place for a long time. In that debate, the Indians were involved. The rise of Ft. Williams college provides enough proof that the situation had taken a different direction before it was turned to one direction by Macaulay. It was the thing which requires research. By merely coming to sociological terms and then interpret the history is an act of betrayal. It is not Kenneth Jones who is doing it. It is the actual status of Indian history. The history writing has to be rooted to the documents. Somewhere, a different field of knowledge, forces and an interpretative activity have taken over.
Further the historian writes that the issue of Sati concerned Roy for the remainder of his life. It conveys as if that it was the only issue. A whole paragraph is given to this activity. Then later, his other activities are mentioned. I wish, he should have not used the phrase 'that the issue of Sati concerned Roy for the remainder of his life'. No doubt, he worked for it till the end of his life and died in London working for it. But Roy did more than that. His work for education and Hindu College was also an activity which left bigger impact on the future. Derozio came to that college. In case of Christian missionary literature, I have found repeated references to his 'A Conference on Burning of Widows Alive' which is already mentioned by this historian also. If a fresh scholar is asked to undertake research on Roy, and as a source material you provide missionary writings, then he or she may also come to the similar conclusion. Now, that is what I am objecting to. The nineteenth century changes have to be studied from different directions and there is a need to give an adjusted place to those writings. Otherwise, you remain confined to Sati and Raja Rammouhan Roy. In present case, the Sati issue has been discussed in second paragraph and other activities comes later. As a result, you do not get a picture of the actual change taking place. Roy confronted the Sati custom in his personal life. No doubt, he protested before he could have started his social activity. However, apart from that, he also wrote Tohfat al Muwabhiddin. The turmoil in thought had taken place at a different level. The custom of Sati became an object to learn and tell the shortcoming. Even idolatry was also targeted by him. I mean to say that the feature of emphasis on Sati is somewhere guided by missionary literature. They have written so much about it and with such an impact that anyone, even a Hindu would sit and criticise this custom. The social change and reform took place on a wider scale. The Sati Custom turns up as an item which was also targeted. However, it is found that most of the work shows Raja Rammouhan and Sati. All of them are trying work as a text book for a course of history in a school or a university. But there should be some work for the subject of History also. In that, Raja Rammouhan and his Brahmo Samaj should be studied with some more mature manner in which Sati may be discussed in manner that Brahmo Samaj turns up as a Social Reform Movement and not merely as a Sati ending Movement. Raja Rammouhan Roy should turn up as a product of new social change and not as a crusader for only one issue of Sati. No doubt, in the next paragraph, which is the third paragraph of this section, discussing the work of Raja Ramouhan Roy, the historian writes that he 'sketched the basic outline of his reconstructed Hinduism'. Now, this is the thing which he attempted. The Sati custom became the object, not the subject. The Idolatry was an object. The subject was Hinduism. Therefore, the evaluation should be Raja Rammouhan as a social reformer who attacked Sati custom along with other vices of the Indian society. Now, Sati Custom was a social practice which religious backing, it could have taken two lives of Raja Rammouhan Roy. Raja Rammouhan Roy did it in one life. But the way it is generally identified in the works of history, it does not do justice to the period. Kenneth has also not escaped it. It is therefore, that he comes to a different conclusion. He ends the paragraph with the following line. "The other major role of his thinking revolved around the delineation of proper Hindu belief." It is open to evaluation for anyone to see himself that which came first, the existing position of the Hindu belief which caused to him to identify the Sati Custom as as a social vice or was it other way around. No doubt, his personal experience would have directed his attention to this custom. Was it not there for other to see? Why did he take it so strongly towards this very custom? It is because of this, it is pointed out that Roy and Sati emphasise is misplaced and it is pervading the history books. There is need to correct it.
In the third paragraph, with a reference to D. H. Killingley, the historian writes, "Rather like European rationalist, Roy envisioned God as the 'almighty superintendent of the universe'." Now do I have emphasize that it is one side and biased version? The Hindu philosophy already has this version with it. Nirguna and Saguna rupa of God have been emphasised by the Bhakti saints before the arrival. Guru Nanak emphatically spoke, 'Ek Omkar Sat Nam Karta Purakh'. The acculturization was on material level not on spiritual level. This is what all the enthusiastic Western scholar try to commit. The scientific way of administration was perfected by West and Indians learned and absorbed it through Company administration and Crown Administration. There are records to prove that and the study of this learning process can be useful for different field of knowledges and the historians should undertake a deeper study into it. But, when, the historian try to tell that heathen learned to become Godly, then, somewhere, he fails to perform his actual duty. The Rationalism was learned for many more things. In case of spiritualism, the flow of charge was in opposite direction also. I believe that acculturization is a two way process. This what the Orientalist tried to experience. This is what something which attracted Webber from France. Now, here comes validity of my objection to restricted use of references. Kenneth is known for his work on Arya Samaj. He had devoted his life to study of South Asian studies. I have learned many things from his book. But, in case of such items, there is need to emphasize the feature of western scholarship in social sciences which needs to be reviewed by them.
Again in the third paragraph, it stated that the almighty superintendent of universe vision of the god was lost to the Hindus. It had happened under the influence of Brahman priests. It is not that Kenneth is stating it. It is a general statement which can be read in the works of numerous authorities. Along with it, the four fold social division of Hindu society which was rigid and unchanging is another principle or theory which we come across in the intellectual analysis by the western scholars. In case of four fold social division and its unchanging position has been demolished by M. N. Srinivas through his concept of Sanskritization. But in case of Brahman influence, I have found very less counter views. On the other hand, we do not come across the main explanation that how it had taken place. There are theories of priestly class collaborating with ruling class in order to establish state. The historians like Basham had tried to propound that Rajasuya yajna, the Ashvamedha Yajna, Rajanya Yajna and Vajpiya Yajna were having political utility and that brought the two classes together over and up the society. However, the dominance of Brahmans over and above the whole social structure are not convincingly explained. It leaves lot of place for rational evaluation of the actual situation. Now, here, it has taken as an established fact to continue with the explanation of the social change through social reform. Throughout the book, and similar books, the Brahman dominance had been debated and criticized. They had been shown in bad colour. There are many questions which raise doubt about the validity of such propositions. However, in the paragraph, Raja Ram Mouhan had been shown as person who proposed the social utility of the religious literature and use of rationality for maintaining social order with the help of the religious scripture. The explanation carry forward the argument of the historian apart from the objections which have raised. They are not directed against the historian, but directed against the established concepts which are being operated to analyis the social history of India.
The paragraph four mainly emphasize the use of printing and translations in Bengali the traditional literature in Sanskrit by Roy. It has been projected as an act in response to the activity of the Christain missionaries.
The fifth paragaph contains an explanation which has already been commented upon along with the issues concerning the influence of the Christainity on Roy which has not been taken up by the historian. In the paragraph, it has been told that how Roy tried to present the possibility of co-existance of Christianity and Hinduism or any other religious group in the vicinity of Hindus. The main argument, which is now being taken up by other scholars also, is that Roy showed respect to Christainity but did not give superiority to it over Hinduism. He rather conveyed that Hinduism was equally forceful and effective excluding its errors which had actually developed later.
The sixth paragraph tells about the opposition to Roy by Hindu Dharma Sabha. It has been done very briefly. Brief statements are effective but they are bit dictorial in nature. Secondly, in history, the assertions should follow with some references to the actual players and events. Merely saying that there was Hindu Dharma Sabha which came up in 1830 and opposed Roy does not do justice. Roy struggled against them and it was that struggle which created the movement. It was that which was movement.
The paragraphs seven and eight are about the organizational activities of Roy. It justifies the contents of the first paragraph of the book which I have been mentioning again and again. The historian talks about the activity of Atmiya Sabha. I would again stop here to point out another feature of the western scholars. They tend to give English translation for every title. It is a practice which can be acceptable because the language used by the western scholars is English. Hence, they try to communicate to the English audience. However, while giving translations of the titles, they sometime do injustice also. There are words which do not have corresponding words in other language. It fails to convey the right meaning. It rather conveys somewhat corrupted meaning also. How will you translate Sukh Ram - Ram at Peace. Now let Sukh Ram be taken as a proper known. I do not read much of African history. But, a little which I have to read about them, I find many such words which I can not pronounce. Similarly, the words from different culture and histories are such, that it becomes difficult to utter the right sounds. In India itself, the Tamil Language has such tones, that it is difficult for the north Indians to mouth them even. They make fun of themselves. Similarly for the Tamil people also, they face the same issue. The word AM becomes jum. In addition to that, English has been quite liberal in absorbing foreign words and terms. But, in case of colonial places, they tend to find translations to help the English audience. It is quite clear in Buddhist history. Suta Pitaka, Vinay Pitaka, Abhidham Pitaka are given English terms. Pitakas become Books. Now that destroys the whole arrangment of right learning. The terms may be of multi syllabul. But, it is better to carry it to other language in case of Proper Nouns and Titles. Anyhow, the Historian has translated Atimya Sabha as Friendly Association. Then, it is followed by an explanation which describe the term Friendly Association not the Atmiya Sabha. On the other hand, the explanation and description itself shows, that how Roy was articulating the organizational activity. He was mobilizing the people to his view point. But again, the ending of the paragraph bring in another feautre which should have been presented more deftly. It is stated that those who joined in as members were all Brahmans. It gives a different colour to the act of history writing. It becomes as polmic to accuse only one section of the society which was there but not all that prevading every time. No Brahmins were not the cause of every evil. There are many more things which also played its role. The state played its role. The commerce played its role. The demographic changes played its role. Now this thing can be said as Kashtriyas played their role or failed to play their actual role. The Vaishas played their negative role. The Turks played their role. But, to stress that the Indian system and then Hindu system failed because Brahmins did it, it is an overstatement. It do not do justice to the subject of History. Anyhow, Atmiya Sabha act of Roy has been described. With it, the act of brining Bengali translations of the Sanskrit literature was attempted. However, within the single paragraph, the coming of Brahmo Sabha in 1828 is also mentioned.
The eighth paragraph carrys the story further. It tells how Brahmo Sabha worked and the issue of writing the Trust deed took place. But in the same paragraph, the death of Roy has been mentioned.
The nineth paragraph brings in the role of Debendranath Tagore. Now, in this case, even in a single paragraph, the explanation is more effective. It tells how Debendranath enters and revives Brahmo Samaj which is taken up in paragraph ten. In it, an important issue of the work of Alexander Duff has been taken up. It is for my personal enquiry to learn about the actual work of Alexander Duff. During my collection of digital sources, I have collected some works by him and on him. It seems, that he was making waves in Bengal by his missionary work. This aspect is not found mentioned in the history work. If the British Historians, Imperialist Historians and New Cambridge Historians write from Missionary source angle, then Indian historians also suffer from the ghost of missionary activity. Now, the title of the book is Social Reform which actually refers to social change process. In that, Missionaries had played a role. Any work without giving place to their impact, is not a complete work. In this book, you find references to the missionaries on the sideline. But they are not confronted at their face. In this book, this thing becomes quite evident. However, their source material is missionary works. This whole section is using reference to Farquhar again and again along with some other authorities. The Indian historians work to show missionaries from a particular angle. They emphasise the achievements of Indians to show that how they defeated their designs. But history is that they were the catalyst on one hand and a reality also at the same place. Now this bias remains in Indian history. The real history of India will be written only when the actual role of missionaries are also categorised and described. Then only, the achievements of Indians can be detailed. But, there are always two histories going on. The Western scholars history, who learn about India through the writings of missionaries because they feel comfortable to learn from them as they have faith they were the people who reported about India. The Indians suffers from the feeling of being a subjugated nation which suffered an attack on their faith system. They have survived in large number and now they want to show that they survived due to their own vitality. They write with that mindset. But history is what actually had happened. The missionaries undertook conversion. They found India a fertile ground. But there was ancient culture in India which had its own vitality. The missionaries won converts. They reported that Akbar was about to become Christain. They reported in the same manner for different people. They won converts. They accomplished the task. It made an history. But, heathens for them, but Indians for Indians, who had already suffered an onslaught of one foreign culture and religion before the English, suffered another foreign religion but they survived. Guru Teg Bahadur displayed a miracle by giving his neck before the British arrived. The Indians saved their religious rites which were mere superstitions for the English when missionaries opened their schools, orphanage and hospitals. Finally they manage to survive. Now that is the history. That history can be written by undertaking fearless study of the activities of both sides. Now that is not been undertaken in Indian History. The Western scholars do their part of act. The Indian historians react to that and consider it to be part of their justifiable act. The subject of History suffers in between. In short, Kenneth should have described the role of Alexander Duff also in this chapter but Alexander Duff is mentioned only in one single line.
Before, anyone may crticize me for my views in previous paragraph, I would like to emphasize that in order to be a rational one should learn about the facts as they existed. Being rational does not mean that what you think is rational is rational. Being rational means an ability to learn the facts as they existed. They may be in your favour or against you. This is the nature of history. History as such is very cruel because it tends to tell you again and again that what you think is actually your own construct contrary to reality as it existed. You feel comofrtable in identifying only those things which soothes you. That is not being rational. In order to be a rational you have to develop courage to preceive the reality as it is and to look into the eyes of reality as it existed. Do not look at your image in the mirror. It always tells you what you want to see and you do not see what actually the mirror wants to show you. So it is you and not the mirror which is showing you your image.
In paragraph number ten on page number 32, the contribution of Debendranath has been given. Debendranath wrote the Brahma Covenant and Brahma Dharma. He changed the name of Brahmo Sabha to Brahmo Samaj. Now it is not clear to me that what word was actually used by Debendranath for Brahmo Covenant. This is why I have objected to the translation of the non-English terms to English terms. It is pertinent to note that Debendranath changed the term Sabha to Samaj. Now Samaj and Sabhas are crucial words as they are the clues to the vision of the people who were responding to the changes in the new milieu.
Anyhow, in eleventh paragraph, the spread of Debendranath activities is given. It also introduces Keshav Chandra Sen. There are observations about the Bengali people who joined the Samaj. There are observations about the spread of the Samaj towards East. It is pertinent to note here, that it is emphasised again and again in the books that the Muslim population was in the East and Hindu population was in the West. Hence, the observations should have been accompanied by some more elaboration on the ways and causes of such a spread. There are categorical statements about the changes in the value systems of Bengali youth of the time. However, they are such statements which are more elaborated by the missionary writings. Here, only a phrase that is picked that Bengali youth were restless and militant. Was it due to the milieu or that was the intrinsic nature of the Bengali youth? If it was so, then why did they not oppose the Perso-Arabic culture? In case of Keshav Chandra Sen, it has been specifically given that he was Vaishnavite. Any study of the developement of the thought or activity of Sen always shows that he turned to Shaktism. Even, in following paragraph the same trend has been told. The actual explanation is that somewhere Imperialist history and Cambridge history suffers from the fixed notion of eulogising the 'civilizing influence' of British culture and western thought. There is no issue or doubt of the efficacy and impact value of western thought. The question and issue are that on what material they were leaving their impact. While writing history of India, the people who were living in India or the Indian subcontinent, are to be described before telling the influence. Then only, a right type of history can be written. Otherwise, it only perpetuate a debate on the efficiency of one of the cultural aspect. Keshav Chander Sen turned to Shaktism and Brahmos met Ramakrishna is more important aspect in the Brhamo development then the Milieu influencing the Bengalis. Even Ramakrishana is shown to have been influenced by Christain thought. We do not have to discusse the individual because there is aspect of Divinity, about which, I believe, a scientific study in history can not contribute much. We have to discuss the man in his milieu. If there are some mystic forces or metaphysics over and above the material word, for history, there is the limit. It is a record about the man as he has lived as a man. History had been discussing the divinity aspect in its earlier stages. Now, we have to remain confined to the man and his activities. Milieu as a fact was there. But Milieu did not emerge in vaccum or imported and installed here. Milieu emerged here, in which British and western setup contributed through its control over state and market forces. In between, the material, the man in India, carried along his heritage even under the impact of the new foreign force. It had responded to similar situation earlier also when Perso-Arabic culture came overlaid. In with these dynamics and processes, the social and religious reforms took place. By merely using categorical statements, we try to eulogize one culture only. If the Bengali youth was found to be restless and militant, it was not that they had drank western thought and that became the cause of their psycho motor effect. It was some intrinsic trait of the region, which made them to respond in that manner. Keshav Chander was militant for Debendranath. The young members of Brahmo Samaj of India of Sen was militant for Sen. Now that is the equation.
In the twelfth paragraph on page 34, the activities of Sen is described. He had the organizational abilities and thus raised number of Sangat Sabhas. It became the cause of faster growth of the Brahmo Samaj. Sen combined his Hindu and Christain readings to define his activities and turned to social reform activities. He worked for the women upliftment all along. This had brought division in the Samaj.
On the page 35, paragraph thirteen, the intercaste and widow marriage activities of Sen are described. This became the cause of division. As it usually happens in history, that an incidence is showed to be the point of change. So here in, a cyclone is mentioned as a cause of actual schism in the Brahmo Samaj. The cyclone became the cause of the taking the office of Sen to the house of Debendranath. There, when, Sen found that old sacraments were being observed while undertaking prayers, he objected. He objected to it in presence of a stalwart like Debendranath. This became the reason of open division and birth of Brahmo Samaj of India. The older group which was headed by Debendranath remained intact as Adi Brahmo Samaj.
In paragraph 14, page 35, the final demise of Adi Brahmo Samaj is told. After the schism, the Brahmo Marriage Act 1872 ensured that no place of reapproachment could materialize. The Adi Brahmo Samaj contracted to smaller sect and ended with the demise of Debendranath.
The paragraph 15, page 35, tells about the activities of Keshav Chandra Sen in detail. The sixties and seventies were the decades of Keshav Chandra Sen. For me, I studied this paragraph with some amazement. There is an observation that Brahmo Samaj of Sen spread because Sen approached the youth of small town and villages. This is one of the important observation in this book which I did not read earlier. The second observation is that the rising activities of Brahmo Samaj also created internal conflicts. This apsect is one of thesis of the historians. The colonial milieu became of the cause of accultrative movement and along with that the internal conflict within in the Muslim and Hindu movements also imparted them a peculiar dynamism. The historian has already emphasised it when he described the transitional movement among Muslims in the earlier section of this chapter. Now, here he is again telling the same mechanism coming into operation within in Hindu movement. The historian tells that Sri Darbar was formed which was a group of missionaries who worked for Brahmo Samaj. Here, he introduced Bijoy Krishan Goswami, another Vaishnavite, who was restless. He followed a different creed of social activitism than Sen. This became the cause of the division in Brahmo Samaj of India at a later stage. The dynamism of division is explained in a peculiar manner. Sen is shown to be moving towards mere social reform activity. He visited abroad and even met Queen Victoria. Now going abroad is taken as a sign of protest by most of Western Historians writing for India. They tend to show that it was a taboo in India. Ram Mohan went against this social norm. Now Sen adopted the same step. Roy was Brahmin. Sen was a Kyastha. They were both from the elite group. They broke the taboo. It happened because of the influence of the Western culture introduced through British dominance. This is the thesis. Sen returned to become social activist and less of religious reformist.
In paragraph 16th, page 36, continuing the thread from the previous paragraph, Sen is shown to increase his organizational spread with an agenda of social activities only. By 1872, 101 Samajes were spread over north India from Assam to Punjab. However, the paragraph ends with a different observation that the main cause of the spread was the spread of Bengalis to different provinces who were moving there for the search of employment. Now, this statement is totally from a different dimension. This is another feature of Western scholars. They build their argument in a very logical manner and when the thought is fixed and become apparent, they introduce the other dimension even if it is not applicable. The movement of Bengalis to other provinces in search of employment is a different story. Secondly, if a group of people from a social group moves to a new geographical region and there, they perform some activity which is exclusive to them, then how is that the sign of change taking place? Were they moving like a Circus troop? Further, the cause of movement was search for employment. It has nothing to do with cultural requirement or change. If it tells anything about the period, it tells that some changes had taken place in other sphere of life, which was making them to move out to other regions. In this case, these changes were not due only to the market forces, it was because of the British Company's rising political activity. I must emphasize that in 1757, the Jagat Seth and Khawaj were from Gujarat and Amin Chand was from Punjab when scandal of Plassey took place. (Yes, I have intendly written scandal). The movement between the regions by the people of continent was a normal activity which had been taking place even during Mughal period. It was not any modification which was effected by western thought and culture. Only thing which can be attributed to western culture at that time was that cause of movement at that time was result of the increasing political dominance of the British company. But to say, that it was new and result of British administration only, is wrong way of identifying the fact. Anyhow, this paragraph on the whole emphasis the dynamism of Sen.
In paragraph 17, page 36, year 1872 has been identified as a crucial year. This was the year which saw the coming of the Act of Brahmo Marriages. It was during this year that Brahmo Samaj moved out of Bengal and spread over to different parts of India. It was given organizational leadership by Sen.
In paragraph 18, page 36, the historian talks about the second wave of dissent within Brahmo Samaj. Now, the dissent and protest, a feature, which has been identified in case of European Social Change and used actually for Europe, is being tranported to study of changes in India also. This is a debatable proposition. In India, before this period, two such movements had been found earlier also. The nature of those movement was different. The timing was different. But it was a protest and dissent at that time also. The two movements were the Bhakti Movement which is actually described as reform movement by many scholars. The earliest one were Ancient period movement which emerged during Mahajanpada period. There were 63 such movements and out of that two have survived till this day and they are Jainism and Buddhism. Anyhow, the dissent has been identified in this paragraph. It revolved around the Brahmo Marriage Act and role of the women in the Samaj which was taken up by Durga Mohun. This time, the dissent was against Sen. Sen responded to the dissent by shifting to conservatism. This is a feature which has been brought out by the historian but not emphasized as such by him. What was the reason? I believe that the response of Sen was not in accordance with the Acculturative Model wherein the author has tried to show that the practices adopted by the social reformists were somehow of influenced by western model. However, in this case, Sen moved to models which were borrowed from the Indian hieritage and history. He took to the methods which even forced the Historian to write that his models resembled "in fashion of Chaitanya's devotional Vaishnavism" (37). Again, the historian observes that after the emergence of dissent of Durga Mohun, Sen turned to models based on Shaktism. Now, that is the problem of understanding Indian heritage. In India, the women worship as a Durga is very old. However, in the same India, there were many social vices related to women for which the Indian society is criticized. It is an irony as well tricky arrangement in India. Now that is the Indian Milieu which never faded away even if the colonial Milieu came from above. Now, this aspect is not evaluated and considered by the historians from the western world.
Continuing with the debate, the paragraph 19 which falls on page 37, tells that how Sen countered the dissent. He moved to Shaktism as told above. He also met Ramakrishana Paramahansa, another hisotric personality which could not be understood if we just remain confined to Colonial Milieu paradigm. It is surprising that within this very chapter, Ramakrishana Paramahansa has been discussed but it is discussed with reference to the activities of Narendra Datta or Swami Vivekananda. There should be a study to show that how his existance fits in the Colonial Milieu, the main thesis of the book. Anyhow, Sen met him and got influenced by him. As a result, a rift took place within Brahmo Samaj. In such a situation, in 1878, Sen married his adolscent daughter against his own preaching. It resulted in another split and in May 1878, Sadharan Brahmo Samaj emerged as a dissent againt Sen.
In the 20th paragraph on page 37, the historian has given the last four years developement of the life of Keshav Chandra Sen. Sen moved towards the ideology of universal relgion. Now, universal religion was an ideology which was already a vital part of the socio-religious ideology of India. However, the historian explains that Sen adopted a flag with religious signs of Islam, Christianity and Hindu Trident. On one hand he recognizes that the operational aspect included Chaitanya's type procession and on the other hand he emphasised that he introduced Nava Vidhan, a practice similar to Christian Eucharist, a newspaper titled New Dispensation and new code of conduct called Nava Samhita. He died in 1884 and his Brahmo Samaj of India ended due to factionalism. Now only Sadharan Samaj, a purely social service group remained in the field. This is a type of explanation which is one sided and motivated. The social change is not a phenomena which is induced, it is natural. Secondly Colonial Milieu was not a cultural milieu, it was outer covering laid over a Hinduised milieu. Keshav Chandra Sen sought Ramakrishana Paramhansa and guidance from the life of Chaitnaya. He was not the only Brahmo Samaji who sought guidance from the India heritage. In case of succeeding section on Bijoy Krishna Goswami, he is constrained to observe the circular journey of Bijoy Krishna Goswami. Hence, social change was taking place. It had been taking place before the coming of colonial milieu. Colonial Milieu definitely brought in some ingredients that got mixed in the ongoing social change. But it can not be called the cause. Hence, as it is pointed out elsewhere that paradigm of colonial milieu attracts, provide new paradigm to evaluate the historic facts in order to understand the dimensions. However, if it is shown that it was the only cause of change or it was a strong cause of change, then the interpertation is over done. It was a historic fact that colonial arrangement came and took its roots but it added to the plants which were already there. It tried to make its presense felt but it was not the cause of change which is attributed to it. That changes and causes were born and initiated in India. Before that Islam and Perso-Arabic culture had already initiated a change in a particular direction. The direction was decided by factors which were available in India. The colonial regime brought in western theories, literature, culture and philosophy but it coloured the change and not directed it.
In the 21st paragraph on page 38, there is one paragraph history of the working of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj after the stalwarts of Brahmo Samaj like Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Debendranath Tagore and Keshav Chandra Sen had left this world. Protap Chandra Majumdar carried the activities of the Samaj as a social service organization. Was the historian suprised by his own conclusion? He had concluded in the following words.
"In spite of its missionary efforts, the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj remained a relatively small elite organization." (38)
The Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, a social service organization, adopting all the western model, as the historian would like to interpret the accultrative aspect of the change, remained a "SMALL ELITE ORGANIZATION". That is it. Was he attracted to his own conclusion? Is he not telling that the change was merely a ripple on the surface? The actual change had been fed upon the ingredients taken from the Indian heritage and not from the western factors as he desire us to believe. The western thought, culture and literature, made a dent but did not deformed it away from its Indian heritage. The colonial milieu concept is a good construct but it does not tell the actual historic change. The colonial milieu came, this far, it is true. But, acculturization was directed by western culture, is an overstatement. Hence, the concept should be retained but the interpertation has to be revisited and ask for reflection on the actual historic change.
Now comes the conclusion of the historian in the last paragraph of this on page 38. I have already dismantled many of his pillars above. The explanation which he gives about the features brought in by western influences can be approved but the conclusion that it gave birth to 'New Hinduism' is too much to say. As far as colonial milieu paradigm is concerned, I have already located some gaps. A Colonial Milieu, a historic development, came and it can be accepted and approved. There is no doubt about that. But it effected a small elite group. The term small elite group is a term which the historian himself is constrained to use again and again. It created literature and made use of press were two features which has western influence patched on it and quite discernable. But, that there was some genetic change in Indian enviornment is to state out of proportion proposition. Hence, in case of Bengal, the working of acculturative movement and colonial milieu are definitely new and attractive interpertations but it remain short of explaining the historic change. There was something more which needs to be included and it has been left out with vengenance. Why is it so?
Bijoy Krishna Goswami and Vaishnavite revival
This is the second sub heading of the section the Acculturative Movements among Bengali Hindus.
Before saying anything, I accept that I read about Bijoy Krishna Goswami for the first time in this book.
The whole essay in this sub section can be summarized in the following words. Bijoy Krishna Goswami was a Vaishnavite. He turned to Barhmo Samaj and latter he returned to Vaishnavite fold.
Now let me make some observations.
The heading of the section is Acculturative movements. However, the sub section contains a description on a career of an individual.
Read the following two consecutive lines.
"The young Brahman studies a traditional curriculum in the local elementary and high school. Yet there was a restlessness and questioning in the young Brahman." (39)
The thing to note in above two lines is the repitition of the phrase "young Brahman". Do I have to comment on the tone of the writing.
The historian has specifically made a note in footnote that the section is based on an article by Alexander Lipski in Journal of India history. However, the references are from David Kopf and Farquhar.
Now let me raise some point of order issues. What is the need of a biography of an individual in this section? Secondly, is it not a study of social and religious movements? Why is there need to mark out an individual to show an interaction between pre-British world and new world? Is it an attempt to define a colonial milieu effect and failure of the natives to respond to the new situation?
Repitive use of the phrase 'young Brahman' is not a mature approach for an analytical study. It smacks of a bias and a pre conceived notion on the part of the historian.
The historian has stated in the opening line that Bijoy Krishna is a case study of the effect of two cultural worlds. Bijoy gets preturbed by his pre British culture and sought reprive from a fresh culture which he was fortunate to meet during his life time but he reverted back to his parental cultural sphere. The explanation goes in that mode. It is not doing justice to the book. I feel that the historian should have not included in the book. The historian has made an extra effort to present something which he is not stating in clear cut terms. I believe that he wanted to state that there were cases wherein the change had taken place for good but due to strong and crippling hold of the heritage, some individuals were not able to get benefit of the change and unfortunately they fell back in to the older mode which was actually the cause of their misery and malady. The western culture had arrived to redeem them from their miserable lot. It caused the change. But even then, there were cases who failed to get the benefit and turned back to Krishan Bhakti. Well, I may be sounding harsh here but, while reading this chapter again and again, I just found this sub section out of place. There is a message which historian wanted to convey. But he has not stated that in clear words. The message which I have received, I have stated above in the preceding lines.
The rest of the write up is about the career of Bijoy Krishna. He came to Calcutta from eastern Bengal. He came in contact with Debendranath Tagore. Debendranath Tagore financed his Medical Education in Calcutta Medical College. This contact brought him in Brahmo Samaj fold. He was influenced by Keshav Chandra Sen. He was quite motivated and hence worked for the spread of Brahmo Samaj. However, he was not comfortable with the novelty of Brahmo Samaj. This is something which has not been explained and studied. The things are narrated in assertive manner without bringing out the backgrounds and mechanism which was creating the dissent in Bijoy Krishna. They are suggestive references but that are not performing justifiable work. Any how, Bijoy Krishna first clashed with Tagore and then with Sen. At that stage, he sought solace in the life history of Chaitanya, which provided the ideological background as well as the faith system since his childhood from which he had drifted away and entered into Brahmo Samaj. But, he did not left Brahmo Samaj and remained with it. He moved to eastern Bengal with his Brahmo Samaj activities after his conflict with the leaders of Brahmo Samaj. In 1872, he organized Bharat Ashram, which was his work in Brahmo Samaj. He then met with Ramakrishana Paramhansa. The meeting pushed him back to his heritage of Vaishnavism but even at that stage he did not leave Brahmo Samaj. In the meantime, the third division in Brahmo Samaj had taken place which had brought out Sadharna Brahmo Samaj. He shifted his affiliation to the new Sadharan Brahmo Samaj which according to historian was more a social service movement. Bijoy got dissatisfied with it also. He then came across Brahmanada Param, a Punjabi who installed Bijoy as Swami Hariharananda Saraswati. Now as Swami, Bijoy turned to idol worship. Now this time, in it was in year 1886, he left Brahmo Samaj to continue his Bhakti. He undertook the pilgrimage and finally in 1897, he died at Puri, the place of Chaitanya.
The historian in the concluding paragraph made an interesting obersvation. I quote a section of the line. He writes that the career of Bijoy Krishna was a 'Circular Pilgrimage from Orthodox Vaishnavism through the Brahmo Samajes ofTagore, Sen and the Sadharans, returning finally to the devotional Vaishnavism of Chaitanya". Now this is not doing justice to this section. If it is so, then how does the case of Bijoy Krishna was an example of acculturative movement. It is rather suggesting something else. It is showing the varied response. The historian has used varied response theory to suggest that the acculturative movement took place. I have suggested that it is a gap which the western historians are not able to fill because they study the region and period with ideology of showing the success of western thought systems and that is not true. The influences were there, but it did not convert the Indian into western. It did not convert to western because, there was vitality in the Indian heritage. The only thing was that India was politically subjugated and it had been subjugated for long even before the advent of the British. The need is to study India and their social system from below. The skin tanning by western philosophy, culture and literature is not the complete story. Such a story tells only one side of the plot. The other plot, the Indian milieu in colonial phase was also there. Hence, Colonial Milieu as a new concept is welcome but there is need to define it more emphatically and clearly so that balance can be created while evaluating the data from the period.
It is in order of the things to mention the reference to the Bipin Chandra Pal as the disciple of Bijoy Krishna Goswami. The historian has compared the life of Bijoy with that of Sen and showed it as a drift. I have already pointed out above that the historian has tried to convey something but has abstained from stating in a categorical manner. He suggests that drift took place. It is the actual thing which he wanted to say and show it as his interpertation. The western influence was for good. The western influence worked but then again the drift took place among the people in Bengal. That is the core message he wants to give. Is it justified?
Anyhow, let us explore the next sub heading.
There is a need to emphasize the objection raised by me in preceeding paragraph. First of all, let me reproduce the whole line which contains the phrase "drift away".
"This drift way from Brahmo ideals towards a revival of orthodox Vaishana Bhakti paralleled Keshab Chandra Sen's own path as well as the rise of nationalism and the emrgence of another sociao-religious movement that combined defence of Hinduism, social service, and a restructuring of ancient monasticism." (41)
Now, there is need to reflect upon the nature and content of this line. It is an interpretation and conclusion of the historian. In order of things, it is useful to learn before hand that next socio-religious movement taken up and that followed this section is "The Ramakrishana Math and Mission". In that the historian has studied the life of Ramakrishana Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda - personality which requires more deeper study along with the personality and works of Swami Dayanada Saraswati.
Bijoy was a Vaishnav who joined Brahmo Samaj and its social service activities. Brahmo Samaj had been shown as a complete result of acculturative movement. Later Bijoy turned back to Vaishnavism. Similarly, Bipin Chandra, who became his disciple, was disillusioned with West after a visit to United States. Now these two personalities who had grown in India families, got exposed to a milieu which was being transformed by Imperial activity of Britain. The imperial activity or Western influence was definitely changing or rather influencing the Indian setup. Now if we say that that it was changing the Indian milieu, even then, it gives the right picture. But if we adopt the term Indian Milieu, it completely dismantle the very concept of Colonial Milieu. I hope that I have conveyed my argument and the idea. Now, in such an arrangement of social and political arrangement, the people living in India families, turned against their own families under the influence of western philosophy and culture as the historian had alread stated the young Bengalis were rebelling against their own family and moving to cities and joining the Brahmo Samaj, and later, after acquiring some maturity and onhand and ground level experiences in colonial milieu then how can this be called a drift. It is rather other way round. They earlier drfited to from their Indian Milieu and then turned back to their heritage. Now that was the historic change that was taking place. On the other hand, the historian did not find a better word to describe the change and called the reverting back as a drift. It can be easily understood. First, his operation frame of reference or the set of concept against which he is evaluating the data, is his own construct. It is in form of 'Colonial Milieu' and 'Acculturative Movement'. Secondly, he represent the ruling and invading class. It may be an objectionable observation but it is how the things are. Hence, he found in the change a drift. It was not a drift. It was turning back after experiencing a disillusionment as the historian has observed in case of Bipin Chandra Pal. I hope, that I have answered the question, which I have raised above that calling the change that provides a case wherein an Indian born, who got exposed to western ideas, then turned back to his heritage as a drift, is not justifiable.
No doubt, I am also demantling the validity of the concept of Colonial Milieu. I do suggest a historic reality but there is a need to find a better phrase to suggest a historic reality which was there. If there was a Colonial Milieu, then there was Indian Milieu equally strong and vibrant though subdued by invading forces Europe. Similarly, acculturization is a social phenomina and quite natural. I do take place whenever two cultures come into contact. But, the direction which the resulted changes take, has to be identified with great caution. The rise of nationalism paralled such changes is other issue.
One thing fascinated me, that the historian has identified Bijoy and taken his case separately. It is not only incase of Bijoy Goswami. He has taken up specific cases in succeeding chapters. However, I am identifying it as a feature of this book that he has tried to study unique cases under the title of this book which I have generally not found among other books or works of other historians. Such unique cases or individual cases are generally taken up on conferences and seminars.
Anyhow, let us explore the next sub heading.
The Ramakrishana Math and Mission
The Ramakrishana Math and Mission is the third and last sub heading of the main heading "The Acculturative Movements Among Bengali Hindus". It is introduced through the life history of Gadadhar Chatterji. It is declared that the new socio-religious movement started with the birth of Gadadhar. Gadadhar is the earlier name of Ramakrishana Paramhansa.
The tone of the introduction is similar to the one as used in case of Bijoy Krishna. However, there is bit of restrain in using class specific terms. In any case the second paragraph gives me an uncanny feeling.
The historian has used a peculiar material to describe the developments in the life of Ramakrishana Paramahansa. All his teachers and sources of learning had been identified. However, a historian has referred to the description used by mystics. Secondly, the historian identified specifically that while following worship of Radha and Krishna, Ramakrishana dressed and behave as a Hindu woman. Now, this description had made me to remark that the whole of description of Ramakrishana is giving me an uncanny feeling. For a follower of Krishna Bhakti, to act as a consort of Lord Krishna is a peculiar phase of mind of a worshipper which for an un-intiated unlooker may not convey a normal feeling. The western world, which in its study of psychology and its view on sex, gives more importance to the instincts of corporal existance. Presently, the study of Lesbians and Gays has come in vogue and they interpret every human relation from their field of analysis and observations. Now, in case of description about Ramakrishana in this paragraph and in a succeeding paragraph while narrating the relation between Ramakrishana and Narendranath Datta, the historian has used specific phrases which are the cause of concern. As far as the role of Ramakrishana and his follower Narendranath Datta, I have already pointed out that they need further study in the field of history so that their unique contribution to the Indian History can be appreciated. In addition to that I have noted the name of Swami Dayananda Saraswati the founder of Arya Samaj. However, here, in the second paragraph, the historian has used a peculiar way of narrating the developments in the life of Ramakrishana Paramahansa. One thing I would like to add that Ramakrishana did not consumated his married life. Sarada Devi, his wife also lived as a divine consort of Ramakrishana. There are basic instincts which are cause of psycho motor activities in human existance and that can not be denied. But, in Indian way of life, it may not have been practiced at a wider scale, but people like Ramakrishana, Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda, are such, who have demonstrated that the life in which instincts are regulated and disciplined also. The historians have to take the help of psychological analysis but before that psychology have to settle some of unsettled questions in its areas of study. The history of man begins with an effort to settle the economic needs. But this is not the only truth. Even Freud had changed his theories at a later stage of his life. Anyhow, the use of terms for describing the life of Ramakrishana is such, that they could be turned to a different direction also. He may not have any intention but there are too much mystic explanation like that he had visions since his childhood. No doubt, that are the part of folklores but, for a historian, he has to seek the actual nature of the activity. One of the shortcoming is quite glaring here when we do not find any references to other sources while the historian is introducing the new persona.
The third paragraph, the historian introduces Ramakrishana as 'nurturant, non-judgemental teacher'. What does that mean? I am not able to understand.
However, he is shown as a refuge to young educated Bengalis who were undergoing strains of the acculturization. This is an aspect which has been studied by many scholars. The western education weaned away the Indians from their roots but on new grounds they suffered the pangs of separation. Somewhere, there was sense of loss, or realization of being a subjugated race or similar strains. The teachings of Ramakrishana helped them to resolve their conflict. The teachings of Ramakrishana were preserved by one of his disciple named Mahendranath Gupta. The teachings were spread over to other areas by Keshav Chandra Sen of Brahmo Samaj after 1875, the period when Keshav Chandra had also grown in his experience. Here we find the first reference. I have observed that the title of this sub-section is similar to Swami Gambhirananda works given in the reference. But the historian has not given any reference to his 'nurturant non-judgemental teacher' observation.
In the fourth paragraph, Narendranath Datta is introduced. The relation between the teacher and follower is explained in this paragraph. Ramakrishana died without leaving any organizational set up for his disciple. Here, the Ramakrishana Mission does not show any impact of acculturative factors with which the historian has started his book. However, the organizational framework was provided later. The seed work was performed by Mahendranath Gupta who saved the sayings of the master. The rest of the work was performed by Narendranath Datta after becoming Swami Vivekananda. The rest of the two pages upto page 44 is the story of about the emrgence of Swami Vivekananda. The story ends with the observation as follows.
"On 4 July 1902, Vivekananda died at the age of forty, leaving behind him a new type of Hindu religious organization, a blending of traditional monasticism and imported institutional concepts."
The above line is in accordance with the main thesis and argument. However, the way the historian has reached that interpertation, it is not satsifying. Swami Vivekananda travelled to west, won voteries, collected money, came back, raised an organization, returned to west due to health reason but returned back and then taking help of his new learning about organizational arrangment, raised a Trust to run the social reform activities from Belur Math. It is very simplistic explanation. It is an explanation to prove a thesis. The fascinating thing is the extract of teachings which the historian has selected to explain the actual arguments and thinking of Vivekananda which is spread over page 44 to 46.
I would like to take some of the observations of the historian which he has given along with the vision, views and arguments of Swami Vivekananda. On the page 45, the historian writes that Swami Vivekananda had the anxiety that the total population of the Hindus was declining because of the conversion. I do not know that this was ever been the subject of study or concern as such. In the last decade of nineteenth century, the conversion to Christainity was rising - Was it so? Was there concern for that among the social reformers in the Nineteenth century? Did Swami Vivekananda suggest something similar to Shuddhi of Arya Sama? I do not know. If it was there, then it is a new information for me.
As far as, the historian argument that there was an anxiety on the part of Swami Vivekananda that the Indian people and Hindus had remained subjugated for long and now they had developed some effeminate characteristics in their personality and this realization was shared by him with other social reformers, it can be accepted right historic observation. The social reformers definitely showed concern for the value systems with which the Indians and especially the Hindus lived and considered them the cause of their subjgation. Their social reform was directed towards correcting that shortcoming. Now, such an awareness was result of the exposure to the western thought was a result of accultratization or not, it can not be said. The historian keeps on striking at the core of the truth but then suddenly turns back to the conceptual frame work which he has given in the first chapter. The paragraph under reference is the best example. He has shown that there was a person by the name of Swami Vivekananda, who received English Education, who found a religious teacher in Ramakrishana Paramahansa, went abroad to gather some followers, and returned to tell his people with courage that what were their shortcomings were but, how it can be shown that it was the result of the accultrative movement. The Western people gathered around him for his thought from East. As far as the observation that he had this anxiety that the conversion was reducing the size of Hindu community, I am not able to digest it and I accept and I have to learn more about Swami Vivekananda and his activities. But the single paragraph contain two different set of observations about the historic fact. The Indians or Hindus suffered becuase of the weakness which crept into their pysche and character because of prolong subjugation and I hope that apart from Colonial subjugation, the historian has also included the subjugation under Perso-Arabian culture. Secondly, initiated by western thought, there were social reformers who sought strength from their heritage and adopted the new means of organizational arrangements provided by the western model and felt concerned about the dwindling strength of the heritage. These two thoughts in a single paragraph is a paradox.
The first paragraph on page 45 begins with some explantion or rather defence for the paradoxical clubing of two highly different observations. The historian has remarked that the thoughts of Vivekananda was a set of complex ideas. Now, whatsoever is given in this paragraph are the selected views of Vivekananda and the observation of the historian which conveys that the solution provided by Vivekananda was not workable. However, in the same tone, the historian conveys that it was enough to energise the India as a nation. It is again a paradoxical expalnation or rather confusing and ultimately an attempt to underrate the genius of the person. I am constraint to observe that the historian should have stopped this work at the paragraph where he writes about the death of Vivekananda. I do not know that how many readers and scholars will appreciate the conclusions with which the historian ends this section. For me, the very chapter has left too much to be explained. It lacks so many things that the design given in the first chapter is not fully achived in it.
The last section is headed as follows:
Nineteenth Century Bengal : A Summary
The structure and contents of the summary section are such, that observations and points have been debated paragraphwise and many issues and contentions already has been raised at appropriate place. It can be said that I have read the summary before giving the analysis and therefore, I was constructing my argument in that order. It is true. But few things are very clear. The historian begins with the idea of Transitional Movement but he did not say that it was confined only to the Muslims and even that to the rural area. The Acculturative movment was solely related to the Hindu society and Urban population. It is said specifically here but through out the chapter, he has been writing that the Bengali boys were moving from rural area to urban area and joining the Brahmo Movement. Similarly, he has not written but in the chapter he has tried to show that the Transitional movement took place in the east part of Bengal but Bijoy Krishan was effective in East.
Simiarly, he has tried to show a divide and absolve the western intruders from the any complaint or accussation for creating any such divide. The Transitional Movement received their ideological strength from Saudi Arabia. The Acculturative movement got the ideological strength from the Hindu heritage. The Transtitional movement did not adopt the Western model of organization but the Hindus under the influence of the acculturative movement adopted the western model of organization which is well documented in case of Brahmo Samaj and Ramakrishana Mission. With this preview, he writes that communal divide and conflict took place. I have not read anywhere in the chapter that there was communal conflict. It is only in case of the Muslim Rural society that there was some conflict reported and recorded in this chapter. If any reader reads it then kindly help me to locate. However, he is giving a thesis that the ground was ripe for communal conflict along with social and religious movement. How has he reached this conclusion, I am unable to understand.
MY PERSONL SUMMARY AND OBSERVATION
The first chapter impresses. The Second chapter disappoints.
There are limited references to other authorities. References to Fraquhar's work dominates.
Transtional movement has its source in Saudi Arabia and Acculturative movement in the Hindu heritage. This is a historian construct. It requires further authentication.
Western literature, technology, philosophy and education influenced the Indian Milieu and there is no doubt about that. If any scholars does not want to accept it, then nothing much can be said. The Westen world spread over the world and made the changes. In case of India, it came through Britain. The Indians recieved through them the Western influence. It changed their social practices and thinking. This far, it is true. But it is also true that Indians did not totally break from their heritage. The Colonial Milieu concept fails to satisfy. It requires review. If Bijoy goes back to Krishan Bhakti, then it tells about some ground reality which the historian is required to record and register.
The Varied Response theory, which the historian has suggested on side line and emphasised by me, is a workable interperation. In this light, the second paragraph of the Summary section can be easily declared justified. Ram Mohan sought equalance for Hinduism to Christainity. Vivekananda sought superiority of Hinduism over Christainity. This is the varied response. But the common factor is that India had learned to receive. May be that it was her destiny but it has an ability to tenaciously remain hooked and attached to her heritage. The western historian may incorporate this fact in their analysis.
The idea of Hindu-Buddhist Civilization is very startling. Is it a true historic fact? Was not Buddhism a product of India? Did it not developed in Vedic or Brahmanic Melieu? Was it not a protest and dissent? Secondly, Is the Hinduism not a combination or rather a bundle of various religious stream with common base in Indian territory and ideological borrowing or rooting in Vedic religion? The western scholars have done a great service by showing the sections in Indian history. But it is surprising that they fail to see the single geography and climate in which those section germinated and flourished or perished. It may be that the invaders have different perception of vanquished people. In any case, that is one of the dimension and the whole truth.
On the whole, in case of Bengal region, the historian has not been able to interpret as per the conceptual framework given in the first chapter. There is need for more data and better interpretation.
Concluded on May 17, 2011
Concluded on May 17, 2011