Colour of India

Colour of India

Saturday, February 19, 2011



‘Truth will rise above falsehood as oil above water’ - Miguel De Cervantes (1547-1616). ‘
And in the end, through the long ages of our quest for light, it will be found that truth is still mightier than the sword. From out of the welter of human carnage and human sorrow and human weal the indestructible thing that will always live is a sound idea” General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964).

'To all new truths, or renovation of old truths, it must be as in the ark between the destroyed and the about – to – be renovated world. The raven must be sent out before the dove, and ominous controversy must precede peace and the olive wreath’Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834).

Cover page of book by Sri Dharampal (1922 - 2006)

In the second part of my review of the multidisciplinary book titled ‘EDUCATING TO CONFUSE AND DISRUPT: Defiling History and Education System of India’, authored by two brilliant academics, humanists and ardent patriots, Professor Makkhan Lal and Professor Rajendra Dixit, I have already stated that the title of their Second Chapter, ‘The Beautiful Tree’ has been derived from the title of an explosive book on indigenous education in India in the 18th century, written by Sri Dharampal (please see the cover page above) and how the traditional system of learning was destroyed root and branch by the British colonial rulers in the 18th and 19th centuries. Dharampal himself in his preface has said that he has derived the title ofThe Beautiful Treefor his book from the historic speech of Mahatma Gandhi delivered at Chatham House, London on October 20, 1931. Mahatma Gandhi had used this term to refer to the time honoured system of Gurukula education in India from times immemorial and how the British Government in India used its imperial might to destroy this ’Beautiful Tree

Front cover of the book

After explaining how the traditional Indian Gurukula educational system was derived from  Varna-ashrama Dharma, Professor Makkhan Lal and Professor Rajendra Dixit have described in an outline form the four stages of life in ancient India — Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyas. Of these, the first stage i.e, Brahmacharya was concerned with education. The education of the child began with the Upanayana Samskara (sacred-thread ceremony). This Upanayana Samskara did not merely mean the admission of a pupil in the register of a school on the payment of prescribed fees. With Upanayana a new phase was initiated into a child’s life. After this ceremony, the child was handed over to the Guru (the teacher) who accepted him as his pupil. The Guru was expected to keep the pupil in his close proximity and teach him all Shastras. This came to be metaphorically described as the Guru keeping the child in his ‘womb’, impregnating him with his spirit and delivering him in a new birth; a transformed, educated and civilized human being. It was this phenomenon that Satapatha Brahmana describes as becoming Dvija (born a second time), and it was not the reference to the Varna Brahmins, as is popularly misconceived and misunderstood today. The Taittriya Aranyaka lays down that a teacher must teach with all his heart and soul.
A teacher was anxious to ensure the sustenance and continuity of his school of thought, and pupils also travelled from distant places to learn a particular branch of knowledge from a particularly renowned Guru. This was the underlying basis of the Gurukula system of old. In ancient India the important branches of knowledge that attracted pupils in large numbers included different subjects such as literature, grammar, religion, philosophy, logic, polity, economics, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, medicine, surgery, accountancy, commerce, agriculture, music, dance, painting, architecture, sculpture and the like. What is important in this context is the fact that some of the centres of learning were more famous for one branch of learning than the others. For example, Takshashila University was famous as a great seat of learning for Economics, Polity and Military Science; while Kashi was famous for Vedic Studies and Medicine. So, this great idea of one centre of learning specializing in one field and becoming famous everywhere did not come from the West!

Broadly speaking there evolved 4 different types of institutions for the spread of education and learning in ancient India. They were, A – Gurukulas (The Homes Of Teachers As Schools), B – Parishads (Academies), C - Goshthis (Conferences) and D – (University Education). In ancient India there were no regular budgetary provisions for the financial support of education by the government and no funding agencies like the University Grants Commission / Commission for Higher Education / Commission for Primary Education etc. How then did these educational institutions and individual teachers survive? THE ANSWER LIES IN THE FACT THAT THEY RECEIVED HELP FROM KINGS, INDIVIDUALS AND THE SOCIETY. Vidya-daana (giving of education) was pronounced to be the best of gifts, with higher religious sanctity than even Bhoomi-daana (the gift of land). Religion had a great hold on the minds of the people and this spiritual exaltation of Vidya-daana inspired a wide and warm response to the cause of education, both from the public and the government. It therefore became possible to impart free education to all the poor students who were eager to learn.

Governments used to help the cause of education in many indirect ways too. They offered scholarships to students to enable them to complete their education. Often, they sponsored literary debates and offered fabulous rewards to winning scholars. Vikramaditya and Harsha are well known for their patronage to learned men. In making various appointments they used to show preference to men of learning.

Today, a pernicious view seems to have emerged that schools and colleges can never be free from political (party all the time!) control as long as the State exists. All the states at present are anxious to control educational institutions and curriculum as soon as they give grants to them. In totalitarian states, education has become a means of propaganda for the dissemination of government’s views and policies. The states in ancient India, however, never attempted to control education, simply because it was liberally subsidizing it. There were no Directors of Public Instruction, Inspectors/ Deputy Inspectors of Schools to direct and control the educational policy and progress.

According to Dharampal such a decentralized system of indigenous education existed in India from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari and from the Rann of Kutch to the Bay of Bengal, till the end of the 18th century. THEN GRADUALLY IN A MATTER OF LESS THAN 50 YEARS, THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT IN INDIA DESTROYED THIS ANCIENT SYSTEM. Whatever of it that remaned on 15th August 1947, was destroyed by Maulana Jawaharlal Nehru and his pro-Islamic and pro-Christian and patently anti-Hindu Congress Party and Congress Government after our independence.
Dharampal has pointed out that instructions regarding the collection of information about the extent and nature of indigenous Indian education and its contemporary state were largely the consequence of the long debate in the House of Commons in 1813 relating to the promotion of “Religious and Moral improvement” (Induced and forced fraudulent religious conversion to Christianity!!) in India. Before any new policy could be devised, the existing position on ground needed to be known. Thus the information which is available today, whether published or still in manuscript form in government records, about different parts of India largely belongs to the period from 1820s to 1840s.

Sir Thomas Munroe (1761-1827)

Right from 1822 instructions were issued both by the Government of Madras and the Board of Revenue to the 21 District Collectors in Madras Presidency to collect data relating to village schools to be sent to the Board of Revenue for onward transmission to the Government of Madras. All these reports relating to the period from 1822 to 1825 have been carefully studied, analysed and presented by Dharampal in a very incisive manner in his book referred to above. Sir Thomas Munroe (1761-1827), the Governor of Madras and Father of Ryotwari Settlement in Madras Presidency was responsible for ordering this pioneering and extensive survey. Sir.Thomas Munroe reported after doing the survey that every village in Madras Presidency had a school.

13 years after the initiation of the survey in the Madras Presidency a more limited semi-official survey of indigenous education was taken up in the Presidency of Bengal. This came to be known as the celebrated William Adam’s Reports or to give the full title, Reports On The State Of Education In Bengal In 1836 And 1838. WILLIAM ADAMS REPORTED THAT THERE WERE 1,00,000 VILLAGE SCHOOLS IN BENGAL AND BIHAR TILL THE 1830’S.

In 1820, G L Prendergast, a Member of the Governor’s Council in Bombay reviewed the system of indigenous education in his jurisdiction and said:There is hardly a village, great or small, through out our territories, in which there is not at least one school and in larger villages more’.

Dr G W Leitner (1840-1899)

62 years later, Dr G W Leitner, former Principal of Government College, Lahore and Director of Public Instruction in the Punjab prepared an even more voluminous survey of indigenous education there. The survey is very similar to that of the report of William Adams in language and conclusions. His reports showed that at the time of British conquest of the Punjab in 1845, there were more than 3,30,000 pupils in the schools of different denominations in the Punjab. This number had declined to less than 1,90,000 in 1882 – within 37 years of British misrule in that province.

Dr G W Leitner himself wrote that till 1845 in these indigenous Sanskrit and Arabic schools, highest standards of instruction and education were maintained in the fields of Oriental Literature, systems of Oriental Law, Logic, Philosophy and Medicine.

In the light of all this analysis of available data, Dharampal has rightly concluded: The common impression which emerges from the 1822-1825 Madras Presidency Data, the Reports of W Adam on Bengal and Bihar, 1835-1838, and the later Punjab Survey by Dr G.W Leitner is that of a wide-spread neglect and decay in the field of indigenous education within a few decades after the onset of British rule in India. … The 1769 – 70 famine in Bengal when according to official British records, one third of the population actually perished, may be taken as a mere forerunner of what was to come.’

Total socio-economic and cultural destruction of India was deliberately planned by the colonial British Government in India right from 1757. Karl Marx was a bigger political scoundrel than the Marxists / Communists of India today. This will be clear from what he wrote in 1853: ENGLAND HAS TO FULFIL A DOUBLE MISSION IN INDIA: ONE DESTRUCTIVE, THE OTHER REGENERATING — THE ANNIHILATION OF THE OLD ASIATIC SOCIETY, AND THE LAYING OF THE MATERIAL FOUNDATION OF WESTERN SOCIETY IN INDIA’. This is what the Communist Governments in Kerala and West Bengal are attempting to achieve in the shortest possible time today!! Prakash Karats, Brinda Karats, Sitaram Yechurys, Buddhadeb Bhattacharyas are the greatest enemies of Sanatana Dharma, Hindu Society, Hindu culture and Hindu Civilization. For these vicious vermin, Peking is there Varanasi, Moscow is their Prayag, Stalin is their Buddha and Mao-se-Tung their Mahatma Gandhi.

With great sorrow and inner anguish, the dark and tragic story of total destruction of ancient Gurukula system of education in India has to be told in more graphic detail.

Professor Makkhan Lal and Professor Rajendra Dixit have drawn heavily upon the pioneering work of Dharampal relating to the fully documented colonial British destruction of the Indian indigenous Gurukula system of education in the 18th and 19th centuries. We can see from Dharampal’s book that India was far ahead of England in the field of school education up to the end of 18th century and also up to 1825. William Adam in his Report of 1835 had stated that 100,000 village schools existed in Bengal and Bihar in 1830.


We have noted that the population of Madras Presidency in 1823 was 10.28 Million. Exactly 51 years later, the population of Madras Presidency had tripled reaching a level of 31.30 Million. By that time the supercilious and super-incumbent Office of Director of Public Instruction (DPI) and State promoted institutions had replaced all the traditional village schools in Madras Presidency. The DPI Report for the year 1879-1880 stated that the total number of all educational institutions (primary schools, secondary schools, colleges and all special educational institutions) was 10,553. Out of this, primary schools numbered 10,106. The total number of students in the British directed colonial system of education (mainly to produce a few clerks and a large number of half-baked slaves!!!) had been brought down to 2,38,960 students. Even a cursory perusal of these official figures will show how education declined in Madras Presidency during the period from 1823 to 1880.
Dharampal has brought out the fact that the same position prevailed in Bombay Presidency. More than 15,000 traditional village schools went out of existence in Bombay Presidency during the period from 1820 to 1885. G.L Prendergast, a Member of the Governor’s Council in Bombay Presidency, recorded the following Minute in April 1821: I need hardly mention what every member of the Governor’s Council knows as well as I do, that there is hardly a village, great or small, throughout our territories, in which there is not at least one school, and in larger villages, more; many in every town, and in large cities in every division; where young natives are taught reading, writing and arithmetic, upon a system so economical, from a handful or two of grain, to perhaps a Rupee per month to the school master, according to the ability of the parents, and at the same time so simple and effectual, that there is hardly a cultivator or petty dealer who is not competent to keep his own accounts with a degree of accuracy, in my opinion, beyond what we meet with amongst the more splendid dealers and bankers keep their books with a degree of ease, conciseness and clearness I rather think fully equal to those of any British merchants.
Sir Thomas Munroe , the Governor of Madras, gave the same assessment has that of G.L Prendergast in Bombay, in respect of more than 10,000 traditional Village Schools in Madras Presidency in 1825.

Professor Makkhan Lal and Professor Rajendra Dixit have stated in Chapter 2 of their book that the involvement of the British in the Indian education system began with Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of British India from 1773 to 1785. Hastings was sympathetic to the Indian culture and civilization. He extended his full assistance to Sir William Jones who established the Asiatic Society of Bengal at Calcutta in January 1784. Hastings was deeply involved in promoting various scholarly enterprises, including those of translating Sanskrit and Persian literature into English. He was also instrumental in founding the Calcutta Madrasa in 1781 and persuading his London authorities to grant a permanent endowment of the revenue of a few villages to meet it’s expenditure in this regard.

Warren Hastings (1732-1818)

Sir.William Jones (1746-1794)
It was Hastings  who was responsible for directing Charles Wilkins (1749-1836) to translate the Bhagawat Gita into English which was published in London in 1785 under the title ‘Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreeshna and Arjoon (London: Nourse, 1785)’. Warren Hastings wrote a very perceptive and prophetic foreword to this work in which he observed:The writers of the Indian philosophies will survive, when the British dominion in India shall long have ceased to exist, and when the sources which it yielded of wealth and power are lost to remembrances.
In 1792, due to the efforts of Jonathan Duncan, the Benaras Sanskrit College was established during the period of Lord Cornwallis. While making his proposal for the establishment of this college, Duncan cited two vital reasons, A – “The natives will understand that this college will be run by themselves without being participated by British subjects, who are to Rule over them”. B – “By preserving and disseminating a knowledge of the Hindoo Law, and proving a Nursery of future Doctors and Expounders thereof to assist the European Judges in the due regular, and uniform administration to its genuine Letter and Spirit to the Body of the people”.

Thus Warren Hastings’s policy of promotion of Oriental Learning through Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic was also maintained by Lord Wellesley who founded the Fort William College in 1800. Though its students were European boys and its aim was to train the newly recruited East India Company officials, the College was steeped in the traditional Indian perspective that Warren Hastings and others had helped foster. Great Oriental scholars like H. T Colebrooke and H.H Wilson served there, along with Indian scholars of Sanskrit and Persian.

The British policy of promotion of traditional learning received a setback in 1813 when the Charter Act of 1813 was passed. This Act for the first time made it possible for the British Christian missionaries to operate freely in India to pursue their proselytization policies in India. By this time missionaries, traders and utilitarian’s, had started opposing the continuance of traditional system of education in India and were making out a strong case for the spread of English language and Christianity in India.

Charles Grant (1746-1823)                                        James Mill (1773-1836)

The man who had prepared the ground for the Christian conversion of India was a man called Charles Grant who served in the East India Company from 1768 to 1790. He had consistently opposed the pro-Oriental learning policies of Warren Hastings, Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellesley. James Mill who was working in the London Office of the East India Company also played a part along with Charles Grant for bringing about this change of attitude of the East India Company.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1777-1833)

The evangelical pressure from this imperious English Man got further strengthened by people like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1777-1833) in Bengal. He was born in a wealthy Brahmin family. He studied Sanskrit, Persian, Greek and Italian. He came under the influence of Christianity and Islam. He foolishly advocated the introduction of Monotheism in Hinduism and founded the Brahmo Samaj. When Lord Amherst Governor General of India from 1823 to 1828, established the Calcutta Sanskrit College, Raja Ram Mohan Roy strongly opposed it. He wrote to Lord Amherst on 11 July, 1823 that the teaching of Sanskrit was the best way to keep Indian in the dark and in ignorance of real knowledge. He was a firm believer in the proselytization programmes of men like Charles Grant, Wilberforce and James Mill which later came to be articulated and more forcefully expressed in the famous Minutes of THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY (1800-1859) in 1835

Lord Amherst (1773-1857)

Lord Amherst was able to overrule the views of anti-Sanskrit people like James Mill and Raja Ram Mohan Roy because of the dominant role played by two great British Orientalists, like H.H Wilson and James Prinsep in the General Committee for Public Instruction (GCPI). This Committee categorically noted in 1826 that Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s views on Sanskrit learning were not representative of Hindu opinion at that time, but were the thoughtsof one individual alone, whose opinions are well known to be hostile to those entertained by almost all his countrymen”.

Thus what becomes clear from the contemporary documents is that Raja Ram Mohan Roy was not really a reformer of Hindu society as has been propagated mischievously by the British and Marxists historians, but a spokesperson of Charles Grant, James Mill, Wilberforce and Lord Macaulay.

The collapse of Sanskrit-based Oriental learning began with the departure of H.H Wilson to take up Sanskrit professorship at Oxford in 1833 and the appointment of Charles E. Trevelyan (who later became the Brother-in-Law of Lord Macaulay) to the General Committee for Public Instructions (GCPI) in Calcutta. Lord William Bentinck was the Governor General at that time. Lord Macaulay came to join his Council in 1834. These three political ‘evangelists’ conspired together to give a death blow to the Gurukula system of education in India. The cheap, petty and criminally egoistic role played by Lord Macaulay in this conspiracy to destroy the soul of the age-old system of Indian education has to be told in greater detail.

Charles Trevelyan Lord William Bentinck (1774-1839)Lord Macaulay(1800-1859(1807-1886)          Governor General of India (1828-1835)

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