Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cultural clones - change in narrative

In the previous post we saw how India was viewed and recorded in the pre-Christian times. Innuendo and agenda were completely missing from such records. However when we turn to read records from the AD era, especially by the early jesuits who landed on India's shores in the 1500s, the narrative changes.

The early European "traders" set off from their shores towards India on hearing of the riches that could be made. The heavy Christian influence of the time meant there were a large number of Church going Chrisists in the crew. And almost every good Chrisist felt obliged to write back to his Church of what he saw in far off lands that still hadn't bowed to Christ. It is these records that form the bulk of western records on India from the 1500 onwards. Where early Greek ambassadors were color blind, Jesuits saw "black" people in India. Where Megasthenes recorded Indian culture with interest, Jesuits saw the "wrong" religion.

Being the good soldiers of Christ, the Jesuits couldn't run away from their duty of bringing the word of the one true lord to heathens of India. One such committed soldier was Roberto de Nobili of Italy. Nobili wrote extensively during his stay in India. He soon realized that all India knowledge was captured into Sanskrit, an ancient language no longer spoken by Indians. He also realized that the custody of this knowledge was the exclusive domain of the Bramhins and worst of all, this knowledge was not written, but was handed down verbally. A smart Jesuit, Nobili realized he had to befriend the Bramhins if he wanted to gain access to that knowledge. But he had little luck. He did see the status Bramhins enjoyed because they preserved ancient Indian knowledge.

He soon struck upon an idea to sell himself as a Bramhin to hoodwink the locals into thinking he too was a Bramhin so he could sell them Christianity. He began to dress like one, tried to get himself in Bramhin circles, he claimed to be a "sanyasi from Rome". He even wrote a book and tried to sell it as the "Azur Veda", one of the lost Vedas.

So having landed in India as "traders", the Jesuits soon got to their real work, selling Christianity. They employed every trick they could think of. "Traders" soon began snatching land from locals beginning with Goa and south Indian ports. Chruch building ensued, inquistion followed.

European accounts of India on the AD era were recorded by Jesuits whose eyes and minds were colored by their religion. Next, we will see the plan to engineer cultural clones.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A much detailed account is given here