Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron

French orientalist

Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron (7 December 1731 – 17 January 1805) was the first professional French Indologist. He conceived the institutional framework for the new profession. He inspired the founding of the École française d'Extrême-Orient a century after his death. The library of the Institut français de Pondichéry is named after him.

Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron

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  • Peaceloving Indians, ancient owners of a fertile land, you harvest in tranquility the fruits that it provides for your needs. Content with little, only the skies, by stopping the rain, could render you unhappy. Your internecine squabbling, and which nation does not have them? your disputes settled, or at least suspended by the arrival of the monsoon, do not leave in your countryside those signs of devastation with which the activity of the conqueror stamps, that is what the dominating character of a people is capable of.
    The Muslims annexed a part of your land, the most beautiful provinces of Hindustan, and left you your manners, customs, should I say? your laws. These were the most fanatical followers of the Arab Prophet, whose banners announced submission to the Koran or death; conquered as much by your gentleness as by the climate, one saw them setting aside this pride, this roughness which was the original character of their sect; they chose their ministers among your Brahmins, your Banias are their bankers; your Rajputs, their best soldiers: such that an observer has difficulty in distinguishing, by their habits, by the religion, between the province which obeys the Rajas [Hindus], and that which submits to the Nababs [Muslims].
    Was it necessary for the rumours of your riches to penetrate through to the climate where artificial needs have no limits? Soon new foreigners approached your frontiers; inconvenient guests, everything that they touched belonged to them: your squabbles maintained, and aggravated, by Agents who are powerful, and what is more, motivated by self-interest, so that your disputes become eternal: it is no matter that they have invaded your market, have tripled the price of basic foodstuffs, and as to merchandise, have altered its quality; manufacturing industry almost annihilated, the workers fleeing to the mountains, the dying son asking his father what he had done to these foreigners who take away rice from his mouth: nothing touches them, or softens their hearts: your gold, one said to the Peruvians, to the Mexicans: here, the revenue of Hindustan, that is what we demand, even at the cost of rivers of blood.
    At least, unhappy Indians, perhaps you will learn that in two hundred years, a European who has seen you, who has lived among you, has dared to ask on your behalf, and present to the Tribunal of the Universe, for your wounded rights, denied by a humanity tainted by a vile interest."'
    • As translated and attributed in Ibn, W. (2009). Defending the West: A critique of Edward Said's Orientalism. Amherst, N.Y: Prometheus Books.
  • Peaceful Indians, did the rumor of your riches have to penetrate a clime in which artificial needs know no bounds? Soon, new foreigners reached your shores; inconvenient guests, everything they touched belonged to them... "If the British ... neglect any longer to enrich Europe's scholars with the Sanskrit scriptures ... they will bear the shame of having sacrificed honor, probity, and humanity to the vile love for gold and money, without human knowledge having derived the least lustre, the least growth from their conquests.

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