How Much Did The British Really Influence India

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by Silverbackman, Aug 23, 2005.

  1. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    I have read that many of the conservative culture of India was basicly passed down by the British. For example Hinduism is not against sex nor against homosexuals but many say that the reason why Hindu Indians seem like they are is because of the British used to think this back when the nation was Christian.

    Is this true and what other big influences did Britian have on India's culture?

    BTW, I'm glad though that they did not have the power to convert all hindus to christian. If you look at Africa and China, all the parts that were colonized had religions that could not stand up to Christianity. I think Hinduism surviving the Christian imperialism is a big achievement and not just another "false" religion as they think (in fact Hinduism seems more true).
     
  2. satay

    satay New Member

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    Namaste Silver,

    First of all, to say that Hinduism is something something...
    doesn't make sense. Since there is no one "official" hindu view. The basic points that all hindus will tell you are:
    1. There is life after death i.e. soul incarnates; imlied in that is that such an entity called soul exists.
    2. There is such a thing called Karmic law and we are in this karmic cycle.

    Aside from these two basic principles, everything else is on a spectrum and the answers depend on who you ask. But to get the best answers one must find a guru who has studied vedas for years and years.

    For example about sex, Hinduism has the kama sutra. Hinduism if you study it deeply, has explored anything and everything from astrology, astrononmy, atomic science, realivity theory, math, philosophy to sex. There is no area that hasn't been touched and studied to the fullest extent by the Dharma adherents of the east.

    satay
     
  3. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    So in other words hinduism is a religion that more explains things more than actually enforcing a doctrine if I'm correct. So a hindu can differ in points of views on morality but still be different? All they have to do is believe the spiritual concepts, right? There are no doctrines to follow?

    Also, isn't hinduism generally open toward most things such as sex? Doesn't that mean then the British may have had influence on there way of belief? For example hindus follow a religion that does not promote a doctrine, it is more of spiritual and nature beliefs of everything and how the universe works, not so much as a religion that says "you must do this to go to heaven". Meaning the Christian dogma was comvined with hindu religious concepts?
     
  4. satay

    satay New Member

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    One can not compare the closed system of religion like christianity and islam to the open systems of eastern philosophies especially sanatana dharma. Religions like christianity and islam believe that there is no knowledge outside of the revealed scripture. Sanatana Dharma says something very radical about this. It says that yes, there are scriptures but one can go beyond the scriptures! The scriptures only tell us so much and there is a point in one's spiritual journey where the scripture becomes useless so to speak because the 'self' or consiouness gets developed beyond our normal gross senses.

    Don't get me wrong. Hinduism is not saying that anything and everything is good. No. It's saying that whatever actions take you closer to God are good actions. To do 'good' actions one need not even be religious. E.g. if you see a man bleeding to death on the street...does one need a book telling him that it's a right thing to do to help this man? No, of course not.

    All eastern philosophies as far as I understand teach this: Morality comes from within! You can not be 'moral' by reading a book. True morality comes from within...then your whole being is moral, then your whole existence demands you to be moral...there is no other way once morality from within is awaken.

    There are obviously doctrines to follow but there is no such thing as shoving it down your throat. E.g. You could be living the 'hindu' way and not know it! Hinduism does not support any dogma. It is not a closed system. It's open.

    I don't understand what you are asking abut sex and hinduism.

    satay
     
  5. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Are there any comandments in hinduism? Such as;

    1. You Shall Not Kill
    2. You Shall Not Steal
    3. You Shall Not Lie
    4. You Shall Not Cheat
    5. and so on ect. ect.

    Of course as you said it should be common sense to know these things but when enforced in a religion (at least these fundemental concepts) it can effect how peaceful a societ is.

    Also what I mean about hinduism and sex is that isn't sex more open in Hindu society, but for some reason it is strictly taboo to show even kissing in films. Also showing a sexual behavior in public is conosidered wrong in India, and yet hinduism I read does not teach this. So didn't the British and their Christianity create the strict laws toward sex, or has India always been private when it comes to sex?
     
  6. satay

    satay New Member

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    Namaste Silver,
    There are shastras called Dharmashastras. These are set of shastras that outline the Vedic commandments. These shastras deal with questions of materialis, social conduct, sources of law, Laws concerning women, Laws concerning inheritance etc. The most famous of these are Manusmiriti which lays down rules for human conduct.

    One of the most important doctrines of Sanatana Dharma and any dharma philosophy for that matter is the tradition of Ahimsa (non-injury). Ahimsa means that one should not hurn anyone by one's actions, thoughts or words.

    Of course, like I said earlier, Hinduism is not so much about orthodoxy or dogmas. It degree of your belief in Hinduism hardly matters. What matters the most is the degree of your practice of Hinduism.


    Hmm...This I am not sure about. I have wondered about it too. I think it could be a culture thing but yes it could also be british thing. Any references on why 'you' think that it could be British influence as far as sex is concerned?

    One think that British did was that they didn't only rape india and its people of their wealth and culture but they also planted all kinds of inferiority complex seeds. So now the new generations are growing up with almost no desire to learn about their own culture, tradition and philosophical system. I was like that for the most part of my life. It's only recently that I have taken up interest in my own heritage, culture and Dharma. What a shame to have wasted all those 30 years.

    satay
     
  7. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    As you mention Satay, there are no commandments as such in Hinduism. However, there are many texts which give a code for leading a dharmic life. There are 10 yamas (vedic restraints) and 10 niyamas (vedic observations).


    YAMAS (restraints):

    1. Ahimsa (non-injury)

    2. Satya (truthfulness)

    3. Asteya (non-stealing)

    4. Brahmacharya (divine conduct)

    5. Kshama (patience)

    6. Dhriti (steadfastness)

    7. Daya (compassion)

    8. Arjava (honesty)

    9. Mitahara (moderate appetite)

    10. Saucha (purity)



    NIYAMAS (observations):

    1. Hri (remorse)

    2. Santosha (contentment)

    3. Dana (giving/donating)

    4. Astikya (faith)

    5. Ishvarapujana (worship)

    6. Siddhanta Shravana (learning the scriptures)

    7. Mati (cognition)

    8. Vrata (sacred vows)

    9. Japa (reciting mantras)

    10. Tapas (austerities/meditation)



    Depending on the text, the list may include only 5 of each, or all ten. There are particularly emphasized in yoga.

    I also heard from a friend that there is a list of 21 instructions given to the outgoing vedic student by the preceptor. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to find the list and post it on this group.


    Aum Namah Sivaya,

    Agnideva.




     
  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I've only read a little on British India - generally before 1850 - in which case the British are pretty much an accidental governing class who were primarily present to protect trading interests against other European powers, not least the French, and that things got a little out of hand - with India lacking in natural internal borders, once the British gained influence in one region, they felt a need to protect that influence by extending it...

    I've still not finished reading on the subject, but overall, I'm not given to a perception of the British in India looking for cultural conquest, and that matters of the Indians were necessarily their own. It's worth considering that as the British influence grew strongest in the late 1800's, there was conversely a growing interest in general Eastern philosophies.

    I don't yet detect any sign that the British had any over or official policy of dictating conversion to Christianity - I'm not sure I can find an official policy on that in the British Empire (though it is a weak area of history for me).

    Overall, it seems that in India people were mostly left to make their own decisions, with the governing British class stepping into Indian affairs only on issues they regarded as moral issues to be addressed, such as immolation and the lowest tiers of the caste system.

    2c.

    EDIT: And welcome to CR, Agnideva. :)
     
  9. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    Hi Silverbackman,

    The British first came to India in 1613 and stayed in India only for about 300 years. India always had a long line of invaders which included Alexander the Great, the muslim invaders like Mahmud of Ghazni and the Mughals. The Mughals set up a very vast and powerful empire in India. Islamic traditions and culture have had a very strong influence on India. I am sure that Hindu culture also would have been influenced strongly.

    Manu-smriti which gives the laws for code of conduct for Hindus has some very "strict" injunctions. It was probably written before Christ.

    I feel Indian society had become coy long before the British arrived. Infact evils such as caste system and sati were very prevalent. The British infact introduced laws and reforms to eradicate Sati.
     
  10. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    to answer the original question -

    positively ? - hardly
    negetively ? - hugely and for good most likely
     
  11. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    ram mohon roy.
     
  12. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    You are right Prajapati, Raja Ram Mohan Roy did play a very important role in campaigning relentlessly against the evil practice of Sati.

    But the role of the British is no less. It was the British under Lord William Bentick which passed the law in 1829 abolishing Sati. Their role was not just limited to enacting the law. They also made sure that the law was implemented strictly.
     
  13. prajapati

    prajapati Cosmic Otter

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    er the brits had the reins of india.

    if ram mohon roy wanted to make sati cumpulsory instead of abolishing it, he would still have to approach the same brits to pass the law.

    so aside of "signing on the line" they did precious little - nor could they care less if it was abolished or continued. they did spread the canard in the west though that sati is very rampant in india and all women have to suffer the fate - had that been so, there would not be very many femals left in india. they also went around spreading the myth that it was they who abolished it. well thats poms for you !!
     
  14. New World

    New World New World

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    How Much Did The British Really Influence India?

    - well, how about the fact that 'Hinduism' as a discrete 'religion', or rather the conception that it is one, derives from the British and was taken on by - er - I suppose today we call them Hindus!! But they didn't call themselves that or have any conception that they belonged to a religion or to the same faith before the British arrival. India used to be, well spiritually not so different to how it is now in its diversity, but politically it wasn't 'one' and there was no concept of being a 'Hindu'.

    Just 250 years ago absolutely no-one would have thought of themselves as a 'Hindu' or used the word.

    If you trace that word back, it begins with the Muslim invaders who settled and called the people already in the subcontinent after the 'Indus' valley. The name then somewhat lapsed. The first-ever appearance of the word 'Hindoo' in print is in a pamphlet in support of 'Hindoos' written by an Englishman in the 1820s.

    Basically the British, being themselves Christian, saw other peoples in the light of belonging to either theirs or another 'world religion' - even though there was no one unified religion in India at the time. Nor, arguably, now.

    For some decades only the British really spoke and talked of 'Hindoos' or Hindus. But the practice caught on among Indians, as they were taught in Western schools, and especially in the late 1800s when non-Muslim Indians were beginning to collect together in movements such as the Brahmo Samaj in order to assert their own identity as opposed to Western identity.

    If you are going to say you are NOT something (British and Christian, for example) you tend to end up saying what you are. You need a self-label. And so by the 1880s some Indians were calling themselves 'Hindu' and things have gone on from there.

    Western scholars e.g. Robert Jackson, now accept and agree that the West reified (recreated to their own conceptions) the Indian religious nature, thinking of it as a 'world religion'. They called it - the British to begin - 'Hindooism'. The word is Brit-created. After that it became convenient politically for Indians to also use the word as an assertion of oneness together.

    So did the British influence India? Since they formed the idea of Hinduism as being one faith, created the word, and Hindus took that up to a degree - I'd say certainly!

    As a P.S. I've posted the above simply to reply to the thread question and as an item of interest. I love Hinduism and respect it greatly. No 'agenda' in other words.
     
  15. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Hi New World,

    Welcome to CR :), and thanks for the post.

    You’re absolutely right, the term Hindu and Hinduism are relatively new. The word is no where found in ancient texts. Just a few hundred years ago, people we call Hindus today did not identify themselves as such. Although the term Hindu and Hinduism may be new, there has been historically some unity between the various Hindu groups such as Shaivites, Vaishnavities, Shaktas, Smartas, etc. For one, many beliefs and practices between these groups are very similar. Second, all these groups derive their theology and philosophy from the Vedas and Agamas. All the groups have also historically considered themselves Astikas (believers in the Vedas), as opposed to Nastikas (followers of non-Vedic religions of India). Finally, since the 9th century Vedic reform movement and the emergence of the Smarta tradition of liberal Sanatana Dharma, there has been unity between various groups. The Smarta tradition has historically maintained that all groups following the Vedas are seeing God in different forms. In fact, the Smarta tradition is the very reason for the emergence of the term Hinduism under western scholars. Many of the first English-speaking Hindu scholars were Smartas. Smartism and its defining philosophy known as Advaita Vedanta are still, in many ways, what many people consider as Hinduism.

    Don’t get me wrong. Personally I think the greater identity for all the followers of Vedas and Agamas as Hindus is one of the best things to have ever happened. But I think a sense of peripheral unity coalesced into a central unity under the word Hinduism, which came to be synonymous with the ancient term Sanatana Dharma.
    Yes. The word Hindu is derived from Sindhu, which is the Sanskrit name of the river Indus. So, people living east of the Indus were called Hindus and the land was called Hindustan. The word India is also derived from the word Indus. The name for India in ancient texts is Bharatavarsha. The name is derived from the name of the legendary unifier, Emperor Bharata. According to the Puranas, the boundaries of Bharatavarsha were the Himalayas in the north, the ocean to the south, river Sindhu to the west, and river Brahmaputra to the east. The modern Indian name for India, Bharat, and the epic Mahabharata, also take their names from Emperor Bharata.
     
  16. redindica

    redindica New Member

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    Well as an Idian decent living in Britain I'd never heard of Ram Mohon Roy.
    The fact that he never gets mentioned is an indication that the British have an agenda in stating that they "civilised" India by (as an example) abolishing sati. When, as mentioned before, it was a very limited number of Brahmins(?) that did this ritual.

    I've come to the conclusion that the more I learn about India off my own back the more I have to forget what I was taught in school about it.
     
  17. Samuel Linton Boot

    Samuel Linton Boot Subdued Member

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    The British learnt about personal hygiene from the Indians then years later came to believe they imparted this along with civilisation, generally, to the peoples they colonised. What Stinkers! Queen victoria for example is known to have bathed only once a year and she was the Queen, whereas everyday Indians have long understood and practised the maxim 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' some of them bathing three times a day. Evidence of this can be seen in Indian words that have become English words such as 'shampoo' and 'pyjamas' - The Brits. didn't wash their hair and slept in their clothes apparently. Those stinking British!
    Britains national dish is now rice, naan bread and curry,and 15% or Britons are now vegetarian whereas you don't get much meat and two veg or fish and chips in India. And look at the Beatles, Britains folk heroes, and their spiritual awakening reflecting a widespread shift in awareness and culture and turning towards Buddhism and Hinduism not just overtly but also within Christianity and popular culture.
    The truth is Indians may have influenced the British, especially in the long term, more than the British have infuenced the Indians, just like the sea at first breaks on the rock but ultimately wears it away Indian culture has always survived invaders and ultimately absorbed them into herself.

    The conclusion that the British are responcible for Indians attitude toward sex doesn't stand up because now-a-days British attitudes are very liberal. Britain has swung from one extreme to another from austerity to indulgence from shame to pride whereas India has remained more steady in her attitudes. Certainly the British did undermine Indians belief in the validity of their own culture by promoting the presumed superiority of Christianity and inferiority of other religions, this was neccessary for them to justify their presence along the lines of 'the white mans burden'. The British did build railways although these did tend to lead only from the resources to the ports.
    I think that Britains class system being akin to the caste system and the fact that they were more interested in economic imperialism rather than cultural imperialism and their at least theoretical respect for the rule of law and democracy suited them to the role they played, after all the steps along the way to the re-emergence of India as the Guru of nations is all part of the Divine master plan.
    Heres an analogy if Nelson Mandela hadn't been locked up and humiliated for thirty years would he have emerged as such a wise, strong, well - balanced, self - assured and organised leader. Or a better one without the demonic Ravana and Kamsa would Rama and Krishna have incarnated.

    On behalf of Britain and European Christianity I would like to take this opportunity to apologise wholeheartedly for all the theft, murder, lies, torture, rape, subjugation and slavery perpetrated against persons from other continents by my forbears, by which we have grown rich, and since largely forgotten. If its any consolation we were to some extent only exporting our treatment of each other.

    First we robbed you of your earthly treasures now Brits like me are helping ourselves to your spiritual treasures! :)
     
  18. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Namaste Samuel,

    I’m not well-versed in Indian history, but it is my understanding that the British Raj contributed both negatively and positively to the Indian nation. The Indian railway system is one positive contribution. Also, today Indians are benefiting tremendously because they are educated in English. Personally I think that India would not have been a nation if it were not colonized. We would have had several small countries in South Asia.

    This is a very positive way of thinking about it, Samuel. If there was no Indian independence movement, there would have been no Mahatma Gandhi, and no non-violent struggle. Gandhi inspired so many other great individuals including Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr.

    IMHO, the spiritual treasures of Hinduism do not belong to the Indian people alone. In fact, Sanatana Dharma does not tell us (its adherents) that we are in any way special, chosen, or have a different fate than people who follow other religions. The spiritual tradition of the Vedas and Agamas belongs to everyone, and anyone can learn from them. One of my favorite quotes is the Rigvedic edict you see in my sig: "Only base minds reckon who be kin and stranger, for those of noble character, the whole world is but one family."

    OM Shanti,
    A.
     
  19. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I'd certainly agree with that - and it's also worth mentioning that Britain itself was distilled through colonisation from overseas powers.
     
  20. Samuel Linton Boot

    Samuel Linton Boot Subdued Member

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    Namaste Agnideva and I Brian, I agree.
     

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