study of Indian history, literature, philosophy, and culture

Indology is the academic study of the history and cultures, languages, and literature of India and as such is a subset of Asian studies.


  • Mill’s contempt for ancient India extends to the other Asian civilizations as well and . . . much of Mill’s framework has survived in the colonial and post-colonial Indology. For instance, his idea that the history of ancient India, like the history of other barbarous nations, has been the history of mutually warring small states, only occasionally relieved by some larger political entities established by the will of some particularly ambitious and competent individuals has remained with us in various forms till today.
    • Chakrabarti, D. K., 1997. Colonial Indology: Sociopolitics of the Ancient Indian Past. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  • In 1825, the Frenchman, Joseph Guigniaut stated that he depended more on German than English works for information on Hindu religion. “These latter are very important,” he said, “despite being written, for the most part, from a narrow point of view and a rather unphilosophical spirit. The route mapped by Jones, Robertson, and the learned Thomas Maurice was soon abandoned in England, and the Christian missionaries contributed, through their often tainted picture of the moral and religious state of these people, a great deal to the diffusion of a host of false ideas about the ancient religion of the Hindus.”
    • Joseph-Daniel Guigniaut, quoted in Jain, S., & Jain, M. (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. vol 4. Introduction
  • The same thing is true of the Western Indology departments, where many professors share the positions of anti-Brahminism to a greater or lesser extent. In my student days in Leuven University’s Asian Studies department, I saw students of Chinese develop into zealous defenders of the Chinese occupation of Tibet, and students of Islam become apologists of Islam. The Indology students, by contrast, never developed such feelings for Hinduism, and this was in large measure due to the negative light cast on Hinduism by its original sin of the Aryan invasion and the “racist imposition of caste”. Of course it is legitimate to criticize caste; but it is perverse to do so on the basis of false history. ... When it comes to controversial issues, most Western India-watchers are incredibly gullible parrots of whatever their privileged Indian contacts tell them
  • The second problem is that many India-watchers who have ordinary notions of objectivity (...) have none the less published books and papers on the present topic which suffer serious lapses from the normal scholarly standards. The exacting standards of objectivity are obviously a permanent challenge to scholars in any field, but this field, or at least its present-day state of the art, presents some peculiar problems. In some cases, the bias may be in the mind of the India-watcher, but the overriding problem is that even scholars and journalist who do try to be objective are handicapped in this endeavour by their reliance on Indian sources which have considerable standing but are none the less far from objective.
    • Elst K, Decolonizing the Hindu Mind (2001)
  • Ronald Inden notes that such scholars have turned themselves into neocolonialists by their subconscious use of colonial assumptions in conceiving of the dharma traditions. He claims that such Indian intellectuals
    have a tendency to recuperate the older colonialist imaginings of India. Representations of the systematic mistreatment of women (patriarchy), the exploitation of the young (child labor), domination by a parasitic Brahman caste of Aryan descent, discrimination by castes (untouchability), and the triumphalism of an atavistic Hinduism reiterate the earlier images of India as an inherently and uniquely divided and oppressive place.
    • R. Inden, Imagining India , 1990: xii). quoted in Malhotra, R., & Infinity Foundation (Princeton, N.J.). (2018). Being different: An Indian challenge to western universalism.
  • Since the Renaissance there has been no event of such world-wide significance in the history of culture as the discovery of Sanskrit literature in the latter part of the 18th century.
    • Arthur A. Macdonell, A History of Sanskrit Literature Chapter 1
  • One might think this position (that the English colonialist should convert their Indian "brethren" to the Gospel) would have endeared Max Muller to missionaries, but in fact it did not. Rather, they found him entirely too sympathetic to the "heathen" and suspected him of being insufficiently committed to the faith. Accordingly, in 1860 he was passed over for Oxford's Boden chair in Sanskrit, which carried responsibility for preparing the Sanskrit-English dictionary, both of which were intended, under the terms of Lt-Col Boden's will, to advance the conversion of Indians to Christianity, not to foster English understanding or respect for India.
    • Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship by Bruce Lincoln, 1999. p. 68.
  • If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life... again I should point to India.
    • Max Müller, India, What Can It Teach Us (1882) Lecture IV
  • [High-profile India-watching academics] “need to indulge America’s saviour complex if they need a share of the shrinking funding. The objective of the research needs to alleviate the misery of some victim and challenge a villain. And so, Doniger will provide evidence of how Puranic tales reinforce Brahmin hegemony, while Pollock will begin his essays on Ramayana with reference to Babri Masjid demolition, reminding readers that his paper has a political, not merely a theoretical, purpose. .. European and American academicians have been on the defensive to ensure they do not ‘other’ the East. So now, there is a need to universalise the ‘othering’ process – and show that it happens even in the East, and is not just a Western disease. And so their writings are at pains to constantly point how privileged Hindus have been ‘othering’ the Dalits, Muslims and women, using Sanskrit, Ramayana, Mimamsa, Dharmashastras, and Manusmriti... After having been at the receiving end of Orientalist and Marxist criticism since the 19th century, privileged Hindus have not developed requisite skills in the field of humanities to launch a worthwhile defence.... Being placed on a high pedestal is central to both strategies. Criticism also evokes a similar reaction in both sides – they quickly declare themselves as misunderstood heroes and martyrs, and stir up their legion of followers. Doniger and Pollock have inspired an army of activist-academicians who sign petitions to keep ‘dangerous’ Indian leaders and intellectuals out of American universities and even American soil... No dissent is tolerated. If you agree with either side, you become rational scientists for them. If you disagree with them, you become fascists – or racists.
    • Devdutt Pattanaik, quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.

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