Renaissance literally ‘rebirth’ a period in European civilization characterized by surge of interest in classical learning and values.
Renaissance also witnessed the discovery and exploration of new continents, the substitution of the Copernican for the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, decline of feudal system, and the growth of commerce, inventions like paper, printing, the mariner compass and gunpowder.
It is primarily a time of the revival of classical learning and wisdom after a long period fo cultural decline and stagnation.
The spirit of humanism was mainly behind renaissance.
East India Company was at work in India from 1600. In 1600 Queen Elizabeth I granted charter to the London based East India Company to trade with East Indies.
Came only for trade
British through EIC began to assert itself only with the battle of Plassey in 1757.
In 1857 after the Mutiny India was brought directly under the British rule.
The purpose was to provide a settled and just government to make commerce possible.
Prior to 1857 there was no reform in India. India was in a pitiable condition.
Muslims subjugated India in 1200.
The Muslim rulers from 12th century or the previous Hindu rulers could not provide peace or unity.
Intellectual awakening began in India about 1800.
Old religions of India are soil from which modern movements sprang. The seed in the main has been sown by missions.
Two major sects- Saivism and Vaishnavism besides many minor sects. Both major sects claimed to be vedantic.
There was worship of gurus. Idols – idolatry with cruel and immoral rites.
Orthodox followed ancient dharma
Spiritual Religion was in the quietest places
Buddhism- diminished in India, Mugal rule, and other reasons
Jainism was leaning towards Hinduism
Social Condition: Caste
Four castes, there were outcastes, Hindu law was in use.
Learning had almost ceased
Ordinary education scarcely existed
In general the Hindus were in a backward condition.
Conquered by Marathas and the British
The bulk of their learning was Muhammadan in character
Mostly people studied Persian and Urdu.
The community was declining. There was no movement.
Very backward although many worked with British and Urdu was in use.
Caste , untouchability
Prohibition of foreign travel
Low status of women
Human and animal sacrifices
1 East India Company
No desire to rule to India
No direct social and religious reform
Took raw materials from India and sold the finished goods in India for higher price
Gradually, conscience of Britain awoke and began to demand that India should be governed for the good of the people.
Thus the trading company was hammered into something like a government.
Administrative duty- settled government for regular financial arrangements.
The civil –servant traders became administrators.
Gradually the government gained knowledge of the people.
2 The British Government
Government vehemently opposed mission- although both were responsible for awakening.
Their objective was trade
To safeguard trade interfered with politics.
Won the Indian territory with the help of an Indian army composed mainly of High caste Hindus.
By 1800 large part of India was under British Rule
Government was impressed by the hold of Hinduism on the people.
For the benefit of trade they began to support and patronize Hinduism.
Prevented the soldiers from becoming Christians
They adopted three policies:
1 Took under their management and patronage a large number of Hindu temples.
Advanced money for rebuilding, repairing and paid salaries to the temple officials including the courtesans.
Granted large sum for festivals, sacrifices and feeding of Brahmins.
Salvoes of cannon were fired on the occasion of great festivals.
Government officials ordered to be present and to show interest
Even cruel and immoral rites (hook-swinging), burning of widows were carried out under British supervision.
To meet the expenses (and increase government fund) a pilgrim tax was imposed.
Reformers in India and England toiled long to put an end to this patronage.
2 absolutely refused to allow any missionary to settle in their territory.
Carey got footing in Bengal by becoming an Indigo-planter.
He could not devote for mission until settled in Serampore under Danish Flag
Many enthusiastic English and American missions came to be deported immediately.
This policy was reversed by an Act of Parliament in 1813.
3 They refused to employ native Christians in any capacity, and they enforced all the rigours of Hindu law against them.
In Bengal, army people were prevented from becoming Christians.
If happened to be Baptized , expelled from the service.
The services of thousands of Indian Christians were refused by the Government
Elaboration of famine code: provision is made from year to ear for th possible arrival of serious famines. Guidelines to maintain.
Lord Ripon’s government passed Local Self Government Bill, to educate the people in self government.
In 1891 Age of Consent Act was passed – it prohibits husbands from living with his wofe before she reaches the age of twelve.
Lord William Bentinck- Governor General: three group of reform policies
1 cruel practices:Sathi
thagi: the strangling an robbery of travelers
female infanticide and human sacrifice
2 Recognizing human equality
No discrimination on basis of religious opinion. All are equal before the law
3 English language:
Whether oriental or western education?
The success of Alexander Duff and Macaulay convinced of modern education.
Duff: Highest form of education is Christian. i.e. based on moral and religious principles of Christ.
Modern education should be in English because of lack of vernacular books
Dr. John Wilson did similar work in Bombay
John Anderson in Madras
Many educated woman missionaries to meet -Zenanas
English became official and instruction in higher education
Government schools and colleges increased
Medical education was introduced
Universities were established in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras
Vernacular education was not completely neglected
In 1843 Act passed to render slavery illegal.
3 Protestant Mission
Started with the Danish Mission in the Tamil Country in 18th century
But it was the work of Carey and others that aroused Britain and America to non christen people of the world.
Carey:-schools, journalism, newspaper, literatures infiltrated Christian thoughts on Indian spirit.
Printing press, medical work-lepers, training native missionaries-Serampore College.
Their study of Hinduism , Hindu community convinced the need for reforms in:
Caste widow burning, child marriage, human sacrifice, etc.
In 1813 the Charter of East India Company renewed: parliament granted full freedom to missionaries to settle and work in India.
1876- 1879 South India suffered severe famine. Missionaries threw themselves in service. Thus from 1880 onward great mass of the outcastes of South India passed into the church of Christ.
Cooperation between Mission and Government
Of course there was some cooperation between them
Carey taught Bengali and Sanskrit in “College of Fort William” in Calcutta founded by Lord Wellesley in 1800
Government took advantage of the Mission printing press at Serampore where for the first time Indian languages were printed in their own script.
Later education brought both together.
This religious neutrality was not reached until 1857.
Until the end of eighteenth century there was no systematic effort to understand India and its civilization.
Warren Hastings took steps that led to Europeans becoming acquainted with Sanskrit and Hinduism.
He ordered a simple code of Hindu law to be put together and translated into English.
1785 Charles Wilkins (influenced by Hastings study of Sanskrit) published a translation of BG.
1789 Sir William Jones published a translation of Sakuntala, the finest of all Indian dramas.
1846 Roth published the literature and history of the veda.
1849-1875 Max Muller’s text on RV.
Discovery of Sanskrit led to revolution in the science of language,
Colebrooke – Sanskrit and Hindu study
H.H. Wilson – Many useful works published
Tod- Rajasthan- study of Rajputs