Advertisement

“Usable Pasts”: Rammohun Roy’s Occidentalism

  • Makarand R. Paranjape
Chapter
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 2)

Abstract

Rammohun’s life can be read as an exemplary encounter of the East with the West. As one of the progenitors of Indian modernity, Rammohun helps us construct a genealogy for the present besides helping predict a course for the future. His life also provides us the wherewithal to retrieve a trajectory of rationality from our recent history, helping us to reinforce those aspects of India’s past that are imperative to the construction of a modern state and civil society. Reconstituting recent Indian intellectual history thus, we might add our efforts to the project of svaraj or the decolonization of the Indian mind. Examining Rammohun’s encounter with Christian missionaries and his views on the question of the education of Indians, this chapter argues that his was a kind of “right” response to the power of the west. It is “right” because it shows a way for the powerless to cope with the powerful without loss of dignity or self-respect. Rammohun’s response was “right” also because it was framed in terms neither of denial nor capitulation, neither yielding to the West nor rejecting it. Instead, his was the way of the comprehension of the Other and of responding from one’s strength rather than from insecurity. The way of comprehension consists in using knowledge to counter power. Furthermore, Rammohun’s response foreshadows and points to the Indian consensus of how to deal with the West, a consensus which Mahatma Gandhi was instrumental in consolidating. Rammohun’s life proves that within every colonized people is someone who can embody the strength of its indigenous culture and thus resist the coloniser from an alternate centre, a centre that is not itself already co-opted. It proves, moreover, that whoever dismantles the false logic of colonialism belongs not to one nation or people, but to the human race. The chapter is also about disciplinarity and boundaries, questioning the methodological scienticism of a certain kind of historiography and arguing in favour of the heuristic value of stories as not inferior to that of histories.

Keywords

English Education East India Company Middle Path Christian Missionary Final Appeal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Works Cited

  1. Bonnett, Alastair. 2004. The idea of the west: Culture, politics and history. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Buruma, Ian, and Avishai Margalit. 2004. Occidentalism: A short history of anti-westernism. London: Atlantic.Google Scholar
  3. Carey, William. 1792. An enquiry into the obligations of Christians, to use means for the conversion of the heathens. In which the religious state of the different nations of the world, the success of former undertakings, and the practicability of further undertakings, are considered. Leicester: Ann Ireland.Google Scholar
  4. Carpenter, Mary. 1976. In The last days in England of the Rajah Rammohan Roy, ed. Swapna Majumdar. Calcutta: Riddhi.Google Scholar
  5. Chatterjee, Ramananda. [1918] 1972. Rammohan Roy and modern India. Repr. Calcutta: Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.Google Scholar
  6. Chatterjee, Kalyan K. 1976. English education in India: Issues and opinions. Delhi: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Chatterjee, Reena. 1983. Impact of Raja Rammohan Roy on education in India. New Delhi: S. Chand.Google Scholar
  8. Collet, Sophia Dobson. [1900] 1962. The life and letters of Raja Rammohan Roy. Repr., eds. Dilip Kumar Biswas and Prabhat Chundra Ganguly. Calcutta: Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.Google Scholar
  9. Crawford, Cromwell S. 1984. Ram Mohan Roy: His era and ethics. New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  10. Das, Sisir Kumar, ed. 1996. The English writings of Rabindranath Tagore. Vol II. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi.Google Scholar
  11. Dharmpal. 1983. The beautiful tree. New Delhi: Bibla Impex.Google Scholar
  12. Drew, John. 1986. India and the romantic imagination. Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Edwards, Thomas. 1884. Henry Derozio, the Eurasian, poet, teacher and journalist. Calcutta: W. Newman and Co.Google Scholar
  14. Eliot, T.S. 1968. Four quartets. New York: Mariner Books.Google Scholar
  15. Fanon, Franz. 1976. The wretched of the earth. Harmonsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  16. Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand. 1999. The collected works of Mahatma Gandhi. Electronic book. 98 vols. New Delhi: Publications Division Government of India.Google Scholar
  17. Jayakar, Paul. 1987. J. Krishnamurti: A biography. New Delhi: Penguin.Google Scholar
  18. Joshi, V.C., ed. 1975. Rammohan Roy and the process of modernisation in India. Delhi: Vikas.Google Scholar
  19. Kearns, Cleo Mcnelly. 1987. T.S. Eliot and Indic traditions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. King, Thomas. 2003. The truth about stories: A native narrative. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kopf, David. 1969. British orientalism and the Bengal renaissance: The dynamics of Indian modernization, 1773–1835. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kotnala, M.C. 1975. Raja Rammohan Roy and the Indian awakening. New Delhi: Gitanjali Prakashan.Google Scholar
  23. Lal, Vinay. 2003. The history of history: Politics and scholarship in modern India. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Majumdar, J.K., ed. [1941] 1983. Raja Rammohan Roy and progressive movements in India. Vol. I, Repr. Calcutta: Brahmo Mission Press.Google Scholar
  25. Martin, Wallace. 1986. Recent theories of narrative. Ithaca/New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Nag, Mamuna. 1972. Raja Rammohan Roy. Delhi: Orient Paperbacks.Google Scholar
  27. Paranjape, Makarand. 1993. Decolonization and development: Hind svaraj revisioned. New Delhi: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  28. Paranjape, Makarand. 2009. Altered destinations: Self, society, and nation in India. London: Anthem Press.Google Scholar
  29. Poddar, Arabinda. 1970. The renaissance in Bengal: Quests and confrontations 1800–1860. Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study.Google Scholar
  30. Ranade, Ramabai. 1963. Ranade: His Wife’s Reminiscences. Trans. Kusumvati Deshpande. Delhi: Publications Divisions.Google Scholar
  31. Roy, Raja Rammohan. 1977. Selected works. New Delhi: Publications Division.Google Scholar
  32. Roy, Raja Rammohan. [1906] 1982. The English works of Raja Rammohan Roy, 4 vols, ed. J. C. Ghose. Delhi: Cosmo Publications.Google Scholar
  33. Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  34. Salmond, Noel A. 2004. Hindu iconoclasts: Rammohun Roy, Dayananda Sarasvati and nineteenth-century polemics against idolatry. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sarkar, Sushobhan. 1970. Bengal renaissance and other essay. New Delhi: People’s Publishing House.Google Scholar
  36. Schwab, Raymond. [1950] 1984. The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East 1600–1880. Trans. Vicor Reinking and Gene Patterson-Black. New York: Columbia UP.Google Scholar
  37. Sen, S.P., ed. 1979. Social and religious reform movements in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Calcutta: Institute of Historical Studies.Google Scholar
  38. Sharp, H., ed. [1920] 1965. Selections from educational records. Part I 1781–1839. Repr. Delhi: National Archives of India.Google Scholar
  39. Tagore, Saumyendranath. 1983. Raja Rammohan Roy. New Delhi: Sahitya Academy.Google Scholar
  40. Urmson, J.O., ed. [1960] 1975. The concise encyclopedia of western philosophy and philosophers. Repr. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
  41. Viswanathan, Gauri. 1989. Masks of conquest: Literary study and British rule in India. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  42. White, Hayden. 1978. Tropics of discourse. Essays in cultural criticism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Zastoupil, Lynn. 2010. Rammohun Roy and the making of Victorian Britain. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Makarand R. Paranjape 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Makarand R. Paranjape
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for English Studies School of Language, Literature, and Culture StudiesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations