Book Review: The God Delusion

The God DelusionThe God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is certainly a strong influencer of rational thoughts in the human mind. It singularly targets religion and shows the hollowness of several beliefs that are no match to the encompassing reality of the theory of evolution. So much to the point that the author mostly talks about the topic of evolution, a specialty of his as a scientist.

Can this book challenge religion in its entirety and dismiss the notion of God? I think not much! It just misses it by a mile. This book is a great and honest attack on militant Christianity and Islamic beliefs through the busting of the holy books and the inherent superstitions. The author disappointingly sets aside other world religions like Hinduism and Buddhism by calling it as all the same in about three lines of text dedicated in the entire book. This makes sense when the modern version of militant Hinduism or Buddhism is taken into account. So, all is not lost in this attempt at sending God to where ‘he’ belongs- nowhere!

But, does God need to be imagined in a human form, with emotions, with human flaws and masculine domination? The author avoids this confusion early on in the book by defining religion and God in the narrow dimension and broad acceptance of human stupidity. Hence, to that extent this book should be a must read and an eye opener to every pseudo-intellectual who calls out the greatness of God but only if he is white, with a cape, a special hat or if he sells a specific special book that is the only acceptable truth in life.

What if God is that scientific mirror outside the human flesh that gives man the power over every other creature that has also been competing on the same evolutionary plane trying to outwit humanity in vain? Science gives acceptance to our human senses to perceive reality. But, what if our senses are also on an evolutionary journey and need to perceive more to accept more?

For all people blinded by the weakness of today’s religion and a weaker God perception, the God Delusion is a must read. But…but….but, will these deluded beings be ready to read this book with an open mind?

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Book Review: Steve Jobs

Steve JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A well written biography about Steve Jobs that gets a little too judgmental at times, especially when talking about Steve Job’s not so glamorous personal moments in life. The biographer got exclusive access to Jobs and his network of friends and family to write a mostly balanced account of the latter’s story. This book is more bold in terms of stating vulnerable moments of emotional weakness in Steve Jobs life. This is something I’ve seen less in biographical accounts of generally very famous people who have had a cult like following. Usually the uncomfortable details seem to be missed.

The biographer seems to have been caught in his own personal judgment on charitable acts and the pursuit of money, thereby throwing questionable prose on Steve Jobs’s character. The biographer also seemed to portray a soft corner for the co-founder of Apple, the infamous Steve Wozniak while narrating the stories that involved him too. That seemed shallow and biased in my opinion. The book does read like a thriller at times and rarely do you get to put it down between chapters.

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Book Review: Breaking India -Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines

Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit FaultlinesBreaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines by Rajiv Malhotra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very interesting book that does a good job of identifying all the agents and agencies silently and openly involved in bringing down the fabric of a centralized democracy that is India hinging on a majority religion shaped by other religions and cultures over thousands of years. Going back to the colonial past and throwing light on the work of Christian missionaries in dividing the populace and creating an identity crisis based on race theories, the authors show how the script hasn’t changed much to present day India where under the guise of secularism and human rights, the onslaught still continues. It is amazing to see the organized way in which NGOs, Churches and other institutions sitting within India, funded by global entities primarily in the US and Europe, have created chaos to rule the country without direct power in their hands. The fact that the India media and international media houses at large don’t run any “stories” on such practices, combined with the powerful hand-twisting of finicky and easy-to-buy Indian politicians, has made India very vulnerable to a serious humanitarian struggle waiting to happen. The authors stop short of calling it as a civil war in the making, although a very similar methodology employed by Churches and Western agencies had caused the bloody Rwandan civil war between the Hutus and the Tsutsis.

The authors focus more on the histories of the Dravidian ideology and the Dalit nexus in this book. It is fascinating to look at how a fictitious and laughable premise around the concept of ‘dravidian identity’ (even if assumed to be true for those passionate about it!) has been used to create a separate identity that ventured to tear down the country at one point and the political perpetrators of this movement repeatedly joined hands with disruptive Church agents and Islamic fundamentalists for money and power. Tamil Nadu has been pinpointed as the epicenter of this no-barriers grave situation which on looking at the political situation (outside of the book) is easy to relate to and guess the severe impact it has created in this otherwise progressive state. The other situation is the way in which fundamentalist right-wing Christian organizations with massive money-power have taken over the “dalit” cause and have used it effectively to create chaos and a multitude of problems in India. The situation seems grave as there are no solutions offered in the book to tackle them and even more, it requires more than political will and strong leaders to fight this problem over the next several decades. Can India produce such leaders is a very weak proposition at present!

What I liked further about the book is the final analysis of the situation at hand to bring down India – the three very highly powerful global forces that have all chosen India as their target – Islamic fundamentalism sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Iran and other middle-east countries, China and its rising capitalistic aspirations and the Western interventions through the Church and other means. It looks like there is no respite for India from this onslaught that has been going on aggressively over the past several decades since its independence. It certainly made me have a new found respect for the hard work of the politicians and bureaucrat administrators who have still managed to keep India and the religion of Hinduism alive give all the odds against it. Time will tell who will win this one-sided battle at the global stage – the aggressors or the lone underdog!

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Book Review: Orientalism

OrientalismOrientalism by Edward W. Said
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Edward Said Orientalism
A well written book on the subject of Orientalism that the author cuts and slices through in an almost academic fashion. This book is oriented more towards analyzing the work and Europe-centric biases of past Orientalists who helped shape the opinion on nearly everything about the Near East (Middle East and North Africa) and Asia (South Asia in particular). However, the authors primary focus has been on the initial construct of Orientalism being a French and British attempt at analyzing the Near East and its dominant religion – Islam.
The book is not an entertaining read but offers great perspectives to people interested in the history of Orientalism, especially from an analysis of political intent, mindset and European-approach standpoint. However, the book meanders sharply towards just the Middle Eastern affairs towards the end, offering less solutions but putting more questions into the mind of unbiased readers willing to learn from mistakes of the past.
Missing any good commentary on India, the prized British colony, and considering it outside the Orientalism being scrutinized by the author seemed like a big miss. After all, Orientalism and the study of India within its remit was certainly the shift the Europe took after it considered the Near East as a mere passage to its riches by land and sea.
These snippets (in italics) are something I consider as powerful and summarize the intent and message of the book.

“textual attitude towards the Orient” – a common human failure is to prefer the schematic authority of a text to the disorientations of direct encounters with the human…

The fact that many Orientalists didn’t even reach the Orient to live there and see life as it unfolded among the natives is underlines by the above statement. European power and institutions never considered it as a shortcoming. In fact, the book highlights how Napolean built an entire military plan to take over Egypt through the recommendations in a book written by a traveler who chronicled how to win over the natives.

Orientalism is a kind of Western projection on to and will to govern over the Orient

Good Old Karl Marx, the darling of many Communist institutions and insurgents in India, had something not so flattering to say about the country-

England has to fulfill a double mission in India: one destructive, the other regenerative – the annihilation of the Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundations of Western society in Asia

Praising England while attacking her for being the “unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution…”, Marx certainly seemed to have two minds about what he was prophesizing in Communism when it came to people and regions that he didn’t relate to!?

Every European in what he could say about the Orient, was consequently a racist, an imperialist and almost totally ethnocentric

These words of Joseph Conrad was in mockery of European conquests.

The book also lightly touches upon the “Christian-centric” approach to the rest of the World which was also instrumental in the simultaneous demonizing of Islam and its followers.

But, the final summary of the book can be encapsulated in these words that the author mentions – “Orientalism failed to identify with human experience. It failed to also see it as human experience”.

Needless to say, the author has been praised for his work but also attacked for a “biased” view on the Orient while attacking European hard work that went into creating the idea of Orientalism.

While I generally align with the ideas in this book, I feel that Orientalism was a bold attempt at understanding foreign lands and peoples through the biased lens of self-made perspectives that are after all what makes us humans. The only unacceptable fact is that this was sold as the “truth” to the rest of the World and it still continues to subconsciously build opinions and biases that are uprooting this World as we speak. Our minds need to come a long way from the rigid insular uni-dimensional perspectives of Newton to the relativistic multi-dimensional world that Einstein imagined.

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Book Review: The Tao of Physics

The Tao of PhysicsThe Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wisdom in books never age no matter when they were written. This book, written way back in the seventies, does enchant the reader with its treatment of subjects in modern physics as related to the quantum world and relativity. The highlight of the book obviously is the association of this abstract form of new-age physics with what the author found as fascinating – Eastern philosophies and mysticism. Presenting his motivation for writing this book almost as a vision he got about Shiva’s cosmic dance while sitting on a beach in California, the author goes deep into Tao, Zen, Confucianism and Hinduism just enough to bring the so-called “parallels” with modern physics.

This book was fantastic in the effort it spent to show what was missing in the Western concepts of philosophy, science, thought and of course society. Everything seemed just about fine until the edition that I had also included future commentaries from the author fifteen years after the book got published and it became a huge universal hit. This was by far the reason why I am forced to give only three stars for the book. In a possibly unknown attempt at showing that his thinking has evolved, he has basically killed the very essence, meaning and purpose of the original intent of this book. Every book is just an expression of a thought or opinion and it is brave of an author to keep learning and refining his. But, the below thoughts of his go beyond that to almost trash the very idea of a heavily debatable and incomprehensible conceptual connect – Eastern mysticism and Modern Physics – that he so painstakingly put together and gained immense fame from.

In selling another book of his whose credentials I am not so certain about, this is what he said – “…Moreover, I no longer believe that we can adopt Eastern spiritual traditions in the West without changing them in many important ways to adapt to our culture. My belief has been enforced by my encounters with many Eastern spiritual teachers who have been unable to understand some crucial aspects of the new paradigm that is now emerging in the West”.

The above sentences suddenly made me realize the narrow-mindedness of the author in ways that shocked me, especially after reading a book that he wrote which talks about walking away from these very biased and closed world models that was the representation of classical physics vis-a-vis modern versions of quantum-relativistic concepts. While co-authoring a new book with a Christian monk who strongly represents Catholic values (which is not a problem and is not what shocks me), he has suddenly looked at his own work and trashed it mercilessly as nothing but absolute Orientalism nonsense attached to Modern Science to somehow sound serious.

What do these thoughts he shared even mean:
“…We can adopt Eastern spiritual traditions…” – where did he cover this in the Tao of Physics?
“…changing them in many important ways to adapt to our culture…” – change them? to “adapt” to “our” culture?? what happened to the universal whole?
“…My belief has been enforced by my encounters with many Eastern spiritual teachers who have been unable to understand some crucial aspects of the new paradigm…” – so you spoke to some teachers and who were they? your “belief” has been “enforced”? What was your belief? Someone was unable to understand “crucial aspects”? of a new paradigm? emerging in the West? which is nothing but social equality and looking at the ecosystem as a whole!? wow!

This very moral high handedness, Orientalist fascination and falsification is what makes him and unfortunately very many great writers and speakers nothing but closet idiots posing as revolutionary change makers in this World. Fritjof Capra writes about risking his career and his future writing this book. Well, it looks like he had taken care of it ever since. The mind of a physicist still deserves stars and there go the three stars.

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Book Review: Competing for the Future

Competing for the Future
This book is all about “core competence”, a term coined by the authors (Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad) several years before and had become an industry buzz word. I liked the book as it tried to elevate strategy to a different status, a more positive one, in the eyes of companies.

It was however surprising that nothing much has changed the shape and face of what strategy is in companies since the time this book was written. Strategy is still considered a burden in several organizations and consulting firms have taken control and ownership of that function. Strategy in effect has turned out to be a wasteful exercise involving several resources working over time to create nothing for the future.

Hamel and Prahalad come up with a strong viewpoint on how strategy is about what the future could look like from an industry transformation standpoint. This does not take into consideration what you as a company are doing today and how successful or unsuccessful you are today. This foresight is based on core competence and what it can do for a company. 
They then recommend that the company needs to evaluate what it should do today to get to that new World in the future. I think that is the single biggest change in mindset that I believe not may companies are willing to adopt even today. Strategy has definitely been about what we can do in the next 3-5 years, given what we have today as a company. A point that the authors raise in their book and try to change.

This is a good read and has obviously been a top seller since a long time. The point that it hasn’t changed the industry landscape and strategy’s position in general may however make you wonder whether academic dictum really means anything in a corporate world where bureaucracy rules and “change” is always hard to adapt to.
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Book Review: The CIA’s Secret War in Tibet by Kenneth Conboy

The CIA's Secret War in Tibet
There are several books written on secret wars and espionage conducted around the World. Most of the books, I believe, represent some element of truth but could also be just among several books that provide an alternate perspective on what happened at a certain place at a certain time. I am not sure under what category this book falls into, but this book surely seems honest in its approach and the presentation of facts. The book, as the name suggests, talks about a secret campaign conducted by the CIA during the cold war to preempt a potential growth of Communist China by taking up the cause of the Tibetan nation. Tibet was occupied by Communist China when the PLA under the leadership of Chairman Mao laid claim to the vast expanse of mostly barren land for strategic, economic and possibly cultural purposes. The rest of the book tells the story of how the Tibetan’s organized themselves under the Dalai Lama, used India, Nepal and East Pakistan (Bangladesh) as a base and worked with the CIA to launch secret operations of resistance against the Chinese.

Assuming that this book was allowed to be published, it is probably anyone’s guess that these operations were probably not a secret for long and they were probably exposed or identified by the Chinese way back in the 60s or 70s. But, there were still some very insightful perspectives or facts offered that I will summarize in points below for those who are interested in knowing what the book is all about. I found these to be personally educative as it helped me realize how far away we are from the happenings around the World unless we try hard to learn more on our own!

  • The title Dalai Lama was given to a monk in the 16th century by a Mongol chieftain Altan Khan. Subsequent descendants kept that title going forward. The current Dalai Lama is the 14th.
  • Earlier Dalai Lama’s had less of a great legacy and didn’t last beyond a few years. The 4th Dalai Lama was Altan Khan’s great grandson -a shrewd decision made to gain Mongol patronage. The 5th Dalai Lama self declared himself as the Bodhisatva of Compassion- the highest celestial authority.
  • Tibet was divided into at least three distinct regions with different topographies and related ethnicity. The central part of Tibet was where the Tibetan leadership existed in the past. There were class based differences between Tibetans from these different regions with people in the central region considering themselves superior to the rest.
  • Chiang Kai Shek laid claim to Tibet by considering it as part of the Chinese Republic. Following a civil war with the communist party and his subsequent retreat to Taiwan, the PRC pursued the agenda of making Tibet a part of the country.
  • American leaders like the then US ambassador to India, Loy Henderson, were worried about the advancing PLA troops far south into the Himalayan regions.
  • The CIA based in India created and executed several covert operations to check the strength of the PLA in Tibet.
  • President Eisenhower began the first of a series of secret US sponsored activities in foreign soil to push the exiled Tibetans towards causing disruption to the PLA.
  • Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, did not openly support exiled Tibetans from going on an all out war with China as part of his appeasement policy with that nation. India was called as the “Dregs of Humanity” by Beijing in 1949.
  • The CIA conducted several covert operations by working with the Dalai Lama’s brothers to recruit exiled Tibetans who escaped to Nepal and India. India allowed the exiled Tibetans to settle in the country with the condition that they don’t cause any disruption to Indo-China relationships.
  • Several CIA operations were conducted from East Pakistan (Bangladesh) before India officially lent support to these operations after the Chines invasion of India’s NEFA (North East Frontier Agency).
  • Most of the CIA led operations in Tibet were small teams of Tibetan’s air dropped inside Tibet to conduct covert operations. Most of the Tibetan recruits were captured and killed by the PLA before they made any useful impact to their cause.
  • Biju Patnaik, ex chief minister of Orissa, was instrumental in the liberation of Indonesia from the Dutch. He also supported the CIA in partnering at a strategic level with the support of Nehru.
  • Brigadier Uban Singh was instrumental in organizing a strong regiment of Tibetan recruits under the name “Establishment 22”. Nehru and the Dalai Lama had also inspected the operations of these forces during a secret review of the regiment.
  • President John Kennedy was a strong supporter of India and was instrumental in providing support to the country in indirectly allowing the CIA help the Tibetan cause. This support and partnership with India was lost after Kennedy’s death. Subsequent governments were leaning more towards Pakistan thereby alienating a strong partnership with India. India on the other hand, pursued a pro-USSR policy for obtaining arms and other economic support.
  • In the 1962 war with China, the Soviet Union sided with China and dumped India. Indo-US cooperation was much stronger and better at that time, although very few in India knew about it. Anti-US sentiment was politically very active right from the start and continued over the next several decades after India chose to move closer to the Soviets.
  • The US soon adopted a pro-China policy during the Nixon era. US warships arrived dangerously close to India during the Indo-Pak war for Bangladesh’s independence. It was claimed by Henry Kissinger that US would have supported China in case the Chinese attacked India to support Pakistan, following which the Soviets attacked China.
  • Nepal leaned more towards China in fear of being dominated by India. During the closing years of the Tibetan struggle led by the CIA, Nepal, in support of China, was instrumental in destroying the Tibetan operations on the Nepal-Tibet border.
  • CIA funding slowly depleted for the Tibetan cause after a $180,000 yearly stipend to the Dalai Lama charity was shut down. Following that, most of the CIA led operations were winding down.
  • RAW director R.N.Kao later blamed the Americans for the lost Tibetan cause, although Indian support was also not strong enough. He said, “The Tibetans were looking for somebody to hold their finger, and the Americans dropped them like a hot potato.”
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Book Review: The Lightning And The Sun by Savitri Devi

The Lightning and the Sun by Savitri Devi
It is a well admitted fact that the Nazi regime was cruel and led to mass destruction and anarchy until its end with World War II. Even if we have been trained over the years to listen, read and learn one-sided stories on the Nazi saga with well crafted allied vs axis propaganda in books, movies, speeches, documentaries and our daily lives; the ultimate truth is that there was large scale loss of life and property during the years leading to the World War up until its end in 1945.

There also existed a parallel stream of so called “Nazi sympathizers” too. They were largely unheard of until the internet revolution provided an alternate medium for them to propagate their ideas. Their theories either invite the ire of Nazi regime haters or historians who feel they have already done enough justice to present the reality to the public. To others, they create confusion as the alternate “truth” that they present is sometimes mixed with realities and hard hitting facts that makes you think, thereby making you feel uneasy. The real truth is probably hidden somewhere in between, but the very pursual of that may seem insignificant and unnecessary.

In that light, I consider this book as contributing to the confusing yet delightfully challenging perspective on what could have happened before, during and after the Nazi years in World History. The narrative in this book is even more interesting as it delves into certain spiritual and philosophical aspects of Aryan wisdom and draws a logical map for what that means in the divine scheme of things in life. The author’s primary focus in the book is on three types of men who carve themselves out from the rest in the World- Men in time (drawing a parallel with Lightning), Men above time (drawing a parallel with Sun) and Men Against time (a combination of Lightning and Sun). Adolf Hitler is presented as a Man against time, an incarnation of the creator God of ancient mythology. The author also manages to provide examples in Akhnaton (man above time) and Genghis Khan (man in time) to provide glimpses into the other alternatives the World got to see. The Hindu principle espoused in the Bhagavad Gita on detached violence is also taken as the basis for justifying certain unimaginable acts of death and destruction.

While it is hard to just brush aside the not-so straightforward and not-so truthful acts of the allied nations, I do feel the author makes widely accepted assumptions on Aryan legacy based in Nordic, Celtic, Saxon and Germanic roots that I am yet to truly believe in.

The book is worth a read also because it has been written by someone who is not a German and who didn’t truly participate in the Nazi cause actively in Europe, although her husband and she worked on Nazi propaganda in India. The author’s name can also be misleading as it is a Hindu name -Savitri Devi. The author however was a European with French and Greek roots (no Germanic roots at all) and was married to an Indian, a Hindu, and she believes in calling herself an Aryan Hindu woman. Moreover, she does not really belong to the group of “Nazi sympathizers”. She is more of a Nazi fanatic, a passionate believer in an alternate purpose for that movement started by Hitler. Her commentaries however were all authored well after the World War ended, thereby lending voice to a long dead movement.

I would recommend this book only for people who can digest its contents without taking sides and have the capacity to think through things that go against widely hammered down literature on World History over the years.

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Book Review: India, A Short Cultural History by HG Rawlinson

India- a short cultural history by H.G. Rawlinson
Indians do not know their history. European historians who eventually put Indian history on paper did not get over their biased thought process to bring neutrality in their theories, thoughts and information presented.

HG Rawlinson’s book is mostly a compilation of Indian history from other books written in the past. The good thing is that it is presented in a brief, concise manner with mostly a good intent of highlighting the unique cultural history of this nation.

The book presents a historical account that tends to expose a couple of interesting facts about the country’s past and present.
– Indian’s don’t know what their history was as their history books in schools are useless.
– Indian scholars of history largely ape their colonial European masters when it comes to re-rendering India’s history. There is no critical thinking associated with questioning the works of Max Muller or other great European historians and their works.
– India did not and still does not have the resources required to restore the historical accuracy of its past. Nobody knows how to build a consistent chronological account of Indian history as they do not know enough about its past. The author brings this out by highlighting the dark ages of Indian history in different intervals in the past where no one knew what happened in this nation.
– India as a nation never existed in the past. It was a vast compilation of culturally rich, socially divergent and racially diverse groups of nations. Different rulers including the Mughals and the British tried to tie it into a single unified nation with only some success.
– The British and other Europeans passively resided in India centuries before they started taking over the political administration of the country during the fall of the Mughal empire.
– And yes, some of the best accounts of Indian history were documented by the Chinese. We shared a lot more in culture and cooperation in the past than in the present.

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Book Review: India, What Can It Teach Us? by Max Muller

India: What Can it Teach Us? by Max Muller
Max Muller was a Sanskrit scholar and Orientologist who rose to fame with his translation of the Rig Veda and several other Sanskrit literatures from India. He was part of a small group of Historians who sometimes defined and in other times redefined India’s past based on theories that they felt were justified by archaeological or historical evidences. History so well crafted, politically authorized and mass publicized that no other modern historians have been able to break these shackles of preconceived ideas and thoughts to accept anything different about India’s history today.
This book is a series of lectures he gave to Indian Civil Service officers of Colonial Britain at the University of Cambridge, before they were commissioned on administrative assignments in India for 10-20 years. It largely talks about how Britishers’ should not look at India from a biased colonist point of view, but learn from its rich history and heritage dating back to 3000 years or more. Max Muller makes a case for how Sanskrit literature is rich in content and context sometimes surpassing Greek literature that most Europeans are largely appreciative of. He talks about the wisdom espoused in the Rig Veda around concepts such as religion and philosophy thereby attributing cultural richness to the nation.
The author belabors the point that the true India is in the village communities of the country. He talks about how the villages of India have defined the social strata, legal structure and cultural outlook of the nation as compared to its cities and towns that saw years of occupation and plunder from outside nations. The author’s main fascination is however around Sanskrit and Indian philosophy. He talks about Sanskrit as the elder sister of the Indo European languages and urges the civil service officers to learn Sanskrit on their arrival in India. He also laments the bad image created of India by British historians like James Mills and urges these officers to instead seek Indian History from the journals of Colonel William Sleeman, a British officer commissioned to handle thuggery in Indian villages.
Max Muller comes out as a very respectable figure in his brief lectures captured in this book. Whether he made any true impact on the British officers who attended his lecture is doubtful as the intent of British administrators was never meant to shower love on India or Indians. They occupied the nation for economic purposes and maintained their hegemony as long as it mattered for the mother country.
The author generously praises India a lot in this book and probably talks more passionately about the country in some cases when compared with other Indian nationalists of his time. He calls India a “paradise on earth” and a place where the greatest achievement of the human mind under the sky was realized. He however largely talks about these in the context of an India that existed 2000 years before, well before Buddha or Christ, and not the state of the country when it was under British rule.
Max Muller however suffers from using the same convoluted lens that other European historians have used to intuitively capture the history of the East, especially India, primarily based on the Aryan invasion theory. Like other historians of his kind, he comes with a preconceived notion on Aryan history and its origins. He makes glaring assumptions on how Aryans originated somewhere in Europe and their conquests pushed local aborigines (dasyus) further South in the country. This theory based purely on color of the skin of the native inhabitants and misinterpreted lines in the Rig Veda lack any convincing storyline. This mindset in reflected in how his showering of praise for the nation is also intermixed with a call for “sympathy” towards Indians. The other delusion that his work suffers from, like all other European Historians, is to consider “India” as a country in its entirety with a singular cultural or historical identity. This was probably done to provide uniformity in thoughts to its readers and sponsors, mostly rich colonial European administrators. India as a country was a fictitious creation of the Mughal invaders way back, but then even they didn’t consider the Southern part of India as part of the Hindustan that they mapped out. India turned out to be a creation of European invaders and trading companies, who cared less about its cultural diversity, if not the ethnic and linguistic history of its inhabitants. It’s a shame that this theory was well supported by the free India created in 1947 as it helped serve the federal or union building efforts of the then government. A simple way to look at this anomaly is in seeing what the World would have thought if Asian Historians self proclaiming themselves as experts would pool together the entire European nations and call them as a single country called “Europe” occupied by white inhabitants with a single religion tied to the Christian faith! This was how European authorities or historical savants viewed India as and got away with it.
The author also hurriedly tries to explain the antiquity of Indian literature in the context of the Rig Veda by making a case for how writing the Rig Veda onto paper was not the intent of the ancient Indians, but the goal was to have a select group of people memorize them and pass them over the years. But, he struggles to confidently claim that the Rig Veda shows an advanced culture dating back to 1500BC or even earlier. I believe the tendency for European historians and archaeologists to pick an earthen pot and use flawed carbon dating to confidently attach chronological evidence also forced him to still consider literary evidence as those scribbled on paper, wood or rocks as true beacons of dated history.
Overall, this book is a good read for anyone interested in the works of European orientologists and Indian History. At a bare minimum, this book reflects the historical fact that British colonists did organize a series of lectures to outgoing civil service officers by calling in noted European historians for sharing their perspectives on India. Sometimes, it’s the intent that matters rather than the results. The British government had a good intent in teaching its select cadre of talented people something more about the nation they occupied, although that knowledge, to Max Muller’s disappointment, didn’t percolate well enough to the British public in general.
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