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Orientalist view of Indian history: This began principally because the East India Company required that its

officers, in order to administer properly the territories which it had acquired, become familiar with the laws,
habits and history of the people they were governing. This led to the founding of the Asiatic Society in 1784.
For the Orientalists, the most significant discovery was that of the relationship between Sanskrit and certain
European languages, which led to subsequent works on the common Indo-European heritage. The ancient
Indian past was seen almost as a lost wing of early European culture, and the Aryans of India were regarded
as the nearest intellectual relatives of the Europeans. The purity of Sanskrit as a language was emphasised,
and a distinction was made between the speakers of Aryan and non-Aryan languages in the sub-continent.
The Orientalists saw Indian past as an unchanging society where the village community was the idyllic
centre of Indian life and was, in fact, the natural background for the qualities of gentleness, passivity,
truthfulness and otherworldliness qualities. Not the active, combative and acquisitive, but the passive,
meditative and reflective. The reason might have been disillusionment with the Industrial Revolution
sweeping Europe at the time.
There was very little critical, analytical and contextual study of the Sanskrit texts. Many of the contemporary
ideological prejudices of the pandits were incorporated into what was believed to the interpretation of the
ancient tradition.
An effect was that translations of Indian literature and philosophical works became popular with intellectuals
in Europe and America.
Utilitarian conception of Indian history: James Mill wrote The History of British India, dividing Indian
history into three major sections: Hindu civilisation, Muslim civilisation and the British period. Mill was a
utilitarian for whom the principal value of a culture was the degree to which it contributed to the furtherance
of rationalism and individualism. He saw neither of these two values in Hindu civilisation, and therefore
condemned it severely. Indian society was unchanging, and ruled over by despotic and tyrannical rulers. He
thought that legislation could change India into a progressive and dynamic society. Mills work became the
standard text on Indian history.
Imperialist view of Indian history: Studies by British officials into Indian history began after the Revolt of
1857, as they felt they needed to know more about Indian religion, manners, customs and history. The
Western scholars reached two important conclusions about Indian history:
1) That India was a nation of philosophers, and Indian intellect was lacking in political or material speculation
2) That Indians never knew the feeling of nationality.

Other conclusions that were drawn were:

Oriental governance was necessarily despotic and autocratic in nature.
India never attained the idea either of a state or of the fatherland, and that it could not evolve any political
constitution, even in conception.
The dangerous consequences of such beliefs were:
It was harmful for Indian calls for self-government. If Indians were essentially philosophers, absorbed in the
problems of the spiritual world, it followed that their material world should be managed for them by their
imperialist masters.
If Indians were accustomed to autocratic rule, and never had any idea of nationhood, state or selfgovernment, it was in keeping with their tradition that they should be ruled autocratically by the British
Governor-General and Viceroy.
Disraeli The East is a career.
1) Sources are very good but they have completely negated important points in the sources historically
selective show only one perspective e.g. 1857 do not talk about Hindu-Muslim unity Kisan
movement etc.
Nationalist view of Indian history: Such perceptions by the Imperialists led to the formation of a new
school of thought, the nationalist school of historians. By their researches into the manifold aspects of the
past history of their country they tried to build a powerful case for the political and social progress of the

country in their own times. The scope of the work of the nationalist historians was chiefly determined by the
ongoing national movement. Thus, when the Indian nationalists were trying to curtail the powers of the
autocratic Viceroy by introducing a popular element at the Centre and in the Provincial Governments, R.C.
Dutt wrote an article in which he tried to show that in ancient times the king did justice to all. Curzons
Partition of Bengal and attacks on the oriental character prompted research which attempted to show that it
was a mistake to suppose that the Hindus were accustomed to an autocratic form of government, and that the
popular element never existed as a distinct force in the country.
Later, when the Nationalist movement entered its extremist phase, Hindu revivalism came into being.
The Nationalist movement reached its peak in the years between 1916 and 1925. A number or articles and
monographs on ancient Indian polity were written. P.N. Banerjea pointed out that the ancient system of
government was very like a constitutional monarchy. R.C. Majumdar tried to show that religion did not
engross the whole or even an undue proportion of public attention.
A large number of these works were purely in response to the claims of the Imperialist historians. U.N.
Ghoshal refuted Mullers view that because of certain inherent tendencies in their character, Indians could
not conceive of the idea of the state, and that there was no provision for the interest of the state in their
scheme. D.R. Bhandarkar attacked the claim that the Indians were not aware of the concept of nationality.
R.K. Mookerji tried to modify the opinion that in ancient India there was nothing of the nature of a political
institution between the village and the central government.
Talked about the State.
The merits of the nationalist movement can be enumerated as follows:
1) By presenting an encouraging picture of the pat, it filled the people with great self-confidence. The
knowledge of ancient polity gave tongue to those who advocated self-government and independence for
2) This ideology produced splendid research works and certain inferences regarding the prevalence of limited
monarchy, republics, local self-government and international law in ancient India came to be accepted by
nearly all scholars.
3) Research yielded priceless old manuscripts like Kautilyas Arthashastra.
The limitations of the nationalist method can be enumerated as follows:
1) While it served to rouse the educated middle class against alien rule, it hardly appealed to conscious
intellectuals interested in the masses of peasants and workers who were being drawn into the national
struggle from 1920 onwards.
2) By a fulsome adoration of ancient Hindu institutions it tended to antagonise Muslims. Moreover, Mughals
treated as outsiders.
3) It gave us a false sense of past values, glossing over the fact that, whether it was monarchy or republic, the
two upper varnas dominated the lower varnas, who were excluded from political life.
4) It ignored the largely religious aspect of Indian polity, trying too hard to give it a secular appearance.
5) In its craze for proving the superiority of out ancient institutions over those of the ancient West, it hardly tried
to examine them in the light of the evolution of primitive tribes as known from anthropology or in the light
of the early institutions of other Indo-European peoples.
6) Problematic Gupta era as the golden age ignored caste system, subjugation of women etc.
7) Accepted the Aryan invasion of theory South India.
Imperialists and Nationalists primarily but not exclusively textual. Primarily Sanskrit not Pali, oral
literature etc. Nationalists and Imperialists more flowery. Imperialists trying to legitimise there rule refer
to Indians in disparaging terms nationalists will do the exact opposite.
Marxists scientific evidence, weighing of evidence. Pali, Prakrit.
Imperialists primarily to justify British rule determinism. Political and administrative history. Touched
upon lives of people only to show how bad the situation was and how the Brits were needed. Never really
recognised colonialism in India.
Marxists Recognises the overall movement in India against the British. Also accounts for the class
contradictions. Economics. How the war effected the economics. How the economics affected the political
scenario. Different viewpoints. No debates in the Imperialist/Nationalist school.

Criticisms middle class control. E.g. 1857. Look at history from the economic perspective. Dont recognise
something which has an all class unity e.g. Quit India Movement.