The essays in Orienting India explore the ways in which Europeans – British colonialists and German philosophers and scholars – appropriated Indian history, religious scholarship, and ritual practice to assert their own relationship to India and Indians.
Even more so, the author explores their relationship to their own past and sense of present duty, right, and mission. In these European attempts to orient India to their own designs, justifications, and senses of moral worth, or ‘enlightened thinking,’
Dalmia reveals the complex negotiations between Indian and British forms of knowledge and practice. In her study of the German thinkers, we see how cultural knowledge is not static but becomes a transaction between philosophers whose ideas of India form the basis of their own cultural values. In her evaluation of the British colonial project in India we see how the transactions between the British and high-caste Indians create new forms of power and realign social structures in the process.
Friedrich Max Mueller:
Appropriation of the Vedic Past
Sanskrit Scholars and Pandits of the Old School:
The Benares Sanskrit College and the Constitution of Authority in the Late Nineteenth Century
Sati in the Mirror of Post-Enlightenment Discourse:
Parliamentary Papers on Widow Immolation, 1821-30
Vasudha Dalmia is Professor of Hindi and Chair of the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of California at Berkeley. She has researched and published widely on Hinduism, colonial and post-colonial Hindi literature, medieval Indian religiosity, and modern Indian theatre. Her book, The Nationalization of Hindu Traditions: Bharatendu Harischandra and Nineteenth Century Banaras, examines the life and writings of a major Hindi writer of the nineteenth century as the focal point for an examination of the intricate links between politics, language, culture, religion and nationality.
Three Essays Collective