Alexander Dow

British orientalist and writer

Alexander Dow (1735/6, Perthshire, Scotland – 31 July 1779, Bhagalpur) was an Orientalist, writer, playwright and army officer in the East India Company.

Portrait painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1771


  • “The Brahmins,” he declared, “contrary to the ideas formed of them in the west, invariably believe in the unity, eternity, omniscience and omnipotence of God: that the polytheism of which they have been accused, is no more than a symbolical worship of the divine attributes…” Further, “The system of religion which they profess is only perfectly known in the effect which it has upon the manners of the people. Mild, humane, obedient, and industrious, they are of all nations on earth the most easily conquered… Revolution and change are things unknown; and assassinations and conspiracies never exists. Penal laws are scarce known among the Hindoos; for their motives to bad actions are few… it is to the ingenuity of the Hindoos, we owe all the fine manufactures in the East.”
    • quoted in Jain, S., & Jain, M. (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. vol 4. Introduction

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