Vedanta and the Bengal Renaissance

by Niranjan Dahr

CHAPTER X

Secular English Education and Learning

THE CONCEPT of secularism had its origin in the later Middle Ages in Western Europe. Secular education was but an attempt to demarcate an autonomous sphere of knowledge, purged of all supernatural presuppositions. It did a lot towards spreading the secular attitude and strengthening the spirit of the Renaissance. Conceptually, of course, secularism did not necessarily mean hostility towards religion. The relation of the one with the other was of mutual exclusiveness only. Historically, however, secularism had almost always been intertwined with atheism because religion sought to embrace both secular and spiritual concerns alike.

India was the first Asian country to receive the benefit of a strictly secular English education. It worked wonders in the 19th‑century Bengal. But to attribute the awakening of Bengal solely to the secular British impact was to take a superficial view of things. Secular English education was introduced in some other parts of India also almost simultaneously with Bengal. No comparable phenomena, however, occurred in those, parts. As matter of fact, the people of other provinces, unlike those of Bengal, were not at all found eager to get English education. Thus in 1842 the schools of Chaprah and Arrah, the two towns of Bihar, each having not less than 50,000 inhabitants, had to be closed "for want of pupils", and in Delhi, a town "not much inferior to Calcutta in population", the average daily attendance at the English educational institutions had fallen below sixty. We come to know all these, intriguing facts from an enquiry report submitted in 1842 by F. Boutros of Serampore who, then asked the poignant question—"What is the reason of this great difference between the feelings of the native inhabitants of Calcutta and of other Indian cities with regard to Education?" Speaking of the Bombay Presidency no less a person than Drinkwater Bethune in one of his minutes dated 23rd January, 1851, mentioned that in the college classes there were only 56 students and in the upper schools only 164 students who could understand English even if central English schools were established not merely in Bombay but also in important towns like Poona, Surat, Ahmedabad, etc. He then observed: "It is scarcely necessary to say what a very different state of cultivation of English this account discloses from that which we witness in Bengal . . . It is also significant fact that the fee in the Elphinstone Institution is only one rupee monthly and in the other English schools eight annas, whereas in the Hindu College of Calcutta the monthly fees is eight rupees and two rupees are paid even in the lower classes of the collegiate branch schools". [2]

This unhappy state of English education in the provinces other than Bengal was, however, not due to any lack of urge in the minds of the people there to learn English. In Bengal the willing students far out‑numbered the English schools, and in 'Calcutta whenever David Hare came out, his palanquin was literally mobbed by students demanding admission. But even in the important towns outside Bengal the far greater number of seats available in the English colleges and schools remained vacant for want of students. This recalls to mind the famous parable of Jesus Christ in which he reminded his audience that all seeds sown did not fructify and only those which fell "on good ground'' sprang up. From the very outset the new education became so fruitful in Bengal because she, unlike other provinces, was particularly receptive to it. The initial different reactions of Bengal and other parts of India to the British cultural impact seem to have had important historical reasons behind them.

It has been seen before that Buddhism played a key role in the socio‑intellectual life of India and that it continued to make its influence felt in Bengal even after it had faded away from other parts of the country.  As a result, the Hindus living in the rest of India had lost the very mental habit of rational thinking. Alberuni, the famous Arab scholar made a study of Hindu thought some thousand years ago, observed a tendency of its being fossilised and a reluctance on the part of the contemporary Hindus to learn from other nations even though in the past they had the alertness of mind to learn from all peoples, including the Greeks. So when the British impact came, there could be no immediate response from within. The British impact had to be of longer duration to make its influence felt. But in the case of Bengal the impact from without came to be combined with a rationalist urge from within which worked wonders. Bengal had this urge because, as we have seen, her intellectual stagnation was not so prolonged like the other parts of India. So its response to the British impact was almost. immediate.

Here we may pertinently point out that the nature of the Navya Nyaya movement which continued to nurse the Bengali mind in the post‑Buddhist period was largely akin to that of Sophism of the ancient Greece. The Sophists gave Europe grammar and logic and taught her the right use of words as a prelude to the precision of thought and the accurate transmission of knowledge. Above all, they rejected the very concept of a transcendental reality reason and accepted perception and reasoning as the sole tests of truth. They were all skeptics.

The Navya Nyaya movement, however, could not have the same possibilities as Sophism. Although the Sophists had hardly any scientific achievement to their credit, they at least provided a stimulus which made reasoning almost a passion, with the Greeks and gave rise to a rationalist movement which, along with some other factors, ended the age of faith in Greece. Eventually the Sophistic process of reasoning was utilised by the Ionians to unveil the secrets of nature.

The fate of the Navya Nyaya movement was, however, quite different. Even if the process of reasoning involved in the Navya Nyaya was conceived in relation to the objective reality, it was never systematically applied to extract the secrets of nature, which alone could lay the foundation for material progress. Its exponents were interested far less in things than in thought. In this respect they were handicapped by the limited range of study which kept them quite ignorant about the progress made by the different branches of Indian science. With the pundits this heretic logic served no better purpose than carrying on verbal discourses cleverly. They have therefore been compared to a company of soldiers who constantly sharpened their weapons but failed to turn up in times of need. There was then also no enterprising class in Bengali society like the Ionians of the ancient Greece to bother themselves about investigating the secrets of nature on the basis of the Navya Nyaya methodology. [11] Its practical achievements were thus nil. Then the Chaitanya movement, as we have observed, dealt great blow to it.

What Bengal failed to achieve then was now imported from Europe. It was her secular‑rationalist learning. So it is, hardly any wonder that English education would find an exceedingly receptive ground in the Bengali mind, nursed, how ever feebly, by the heresy for the last few centuries. We find that even in the 19th century the tradition of Navya Nyaya had not completely disappeared from the soil of Bengal, and there was still a network of tols for teaching it throughout the province, as is evident from Dinesh Bhattacharya's Bange Navya Nyayacharcha. [12] Pundits deeply absorbed in argumentation were even then seen at the bathing ghats of the Ganges in Bengal, and they had to be dragged away by their wives "for being late for meals". The new logic had so much attraction for the pundits that one of the  reportedly used to say that he did not want salvation but would like to be born again and again to study the Navya Nyaya. [13] An edition of the Tattva­chintamoni was published with critical notes in course of this century. At the later stage, however, efforts were almost wholly concentrated on teaching the logic than writing books on it.

It is obvious that for acquiring the new knowledge imported from Europe the people concerned must possess at least some amount of sophistication and aptitude for the requisite intellectual enquiry even if their knowledge had not the same amount of growth. So it is not without significance that English education in Bengal was mostly welcome by the upper‑caste people, viz., Brahmins, Kayasthas and Vaidyas, the descendents of the forefathers who cultivated the Navya Nyaya. The response to the secular English education became immediate in Bengal because she could approach the temple of modem learning not as an utter alien but as a co‑pilgrim who had simply fallen behind. It may also be mentioned that the Brahmins in particular were attracted towards English education because by that time the priestly profession had become rather unrewarding.

In this connection we may point out that what happened in Bengal vis‑a‑vis other parts of India was the  case with the European Renaissance as well. There also we find that for the initial occurrence of a Renaissance in Italy the impact of Arab. scholarship did not explain everything. The Arabs invaded Europe through Spain and Italy. In fact, Spain became incorporated in the Arabic empire and had also some magnificent seats of learning. The impact on, Western Europe came through Spain in the 12th century, i.e., some two centuries earlier than that through Italy. It produced some outstanding Individuals like Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon and Gerbert of Rheins. But on the whole it fell flat on Western Europe. The University of Paris and other centres of learning remained pre‑occupied with theological. speculations as before. The so‑called Renaissance the 12th century did not then find a ready response in the minds of the European people on any significant scale since native tradition of Western Europe was largely alien to the new rationalistic spirit.

As against this, Italy had a native tradition of pagan antiquity. Cicero and Lucretius gave her the Epicurean vision of a godless universe and of pleasure derived from virtue. Dante has described how the Epicurean view of life influenced tremendously the cultural life of Italy in course of the 12th and 13th centuries, and his Inferno was inhabited by two categories of people—the heretics and the Epicureans. As a matter of fact, Epicureanism was condemned in Italy as a heresy in the 12th century. When, therefore, the Greco‑Roman culture reached Italy under Arab leadership by the middle of the 14th century, the ground was already prepared for it and the seed readily fructified. The Italian Renaissance was its direct outcome.

Bengal was indebted to Scotland in the matter of the introduction of secular English education. David Hare, who was born in Scotland in 1775 and came to Calcutta in 1800 was the main architect of it. Before him Christian missionary enterprises, of course, played a pioneering role in spreading English education in this country. But the emphasis of the missionaries was far more on the Judo‑Christian component of European learning as against its Greco‑Roman counterpart. Hare organised new schools exclusively devoted to the latter aspect of European learning. In this connection we would like to point out that the Humanists of the European Renaissance started a parallel set of schools to those run by the churches, and the humanities were taught there as against the divinities of the church schools. In fact, the secular subjects of human interest in the new school came to be known as humanities from the fact of their association with the Humanists of Europe. At a later stage Jesuit teachers deliberately distorted the content of the humanities by sacrificing matter in favour of form with an eye to discrediting Humanism.

Scotland was then a centre of hectic intellectual activity and she sent many a cultural emissary to Bengal. One group of these emissaries was the Christian Calvinist missionaries headed the militant Duff, and to the other group belonged Hare who was anti‑Christian and anti‑God and whose cultural mission was fundamentally different from that of Duff. Alexander Duff  and David Hare were indeed the two typical representatives of the two rival camps operating in their mother country—Scotland. When in the 16th century Calvinism was first introduced there by John Knox, it became pitted against a monarchy owing alle­giance to Roman Catholicism. It thus acquired a militant character, and Duff came to India as a worthy representative of it. The other was the rationalist camp drawing inspiration from Hume, a confirmed atheist, and also from the realistic school of Scottish Philosophers at the Edinburgh University.  In fact, the part played by this University in spreading enlightenment in Great Britain was much greater than Oxford and Cambridge. A large number of philosophers, scientists and inventors like David Hume, Reid, Campbell, Beathic, Adam Smith and James Watt came from Scotland. Evidently Hare was much influenced by the rationalist ideas of his home country.

An anecdote throws a flood of light on the difference of' basic attitude between Duff and Hare. Lal Behari De, who was to make a name later as an author, was a student of the General Assembly's Institution founded by Duff. He became eager to take a transfer to Hare's school, which was known to be a better one and met Hare with that end in view. The latter, however, refused to take him on the ground that the students of Duff's school used to read the New Testament and were "half‑Christians." [6] Even repeated requests failed to move the kind‑hearted Hare. Hare's attitude towards the fundamental problems of the country would also be evident from the fact that he posed the idea of a higher institute of secular English education against that of Rammohun's Vedanta College for improving the quality of the people of this country. For his anti‑religious attitude Hare incurred the displeasure of the Christian missionaries and was abused by them regularly.

Hare himself was, of course, not a man of letters although be was not so uneducated a person as he is generally assumed to be, perhaps because of his humble profession. It is not exactly known how far he read before he sailed for Calcutta. But it is clear that he then came under the influence of the rationalist ideas of his home country and his profession of watch‑making might have also inclined his mind towards a mechanical explanation of the universe. In this country he was found attending regularly the learned discussions held at the Academic Association and the Society for the Acquisition of General Knowledge, and he became the President of the latter body after the death of Derozio and often discussed subjects with its members after the termination of its meetings. All this shows that he was not at all an uneducated person. From the Samachar Chandrika of 25th February, 1832 we again find that Hare was appointed an Examiner at the annual examination of the Oriental Seminary, an institution of higher English learning only next in importance to the Hindu College. There he was referred to as a learned European. Besides, if Hare had been an uneducated person, he would never have been appointed a Visitor and a Manager of the Hindu College, and a Secretary to the Calcutta Medical College. He was also appointed a Judge of the Court of Requests. [7]

But David Hare, even though not an uneducated man, was not a professional teacher, and was not in a position to teach subjects. His chief contribution to the cause of enlightenment in this country was that he organised several institutions of modern secular education at higher and elementary stages with the help of some philanthropically inclined Europeans and some influential "orthodox" Hindus and assisted in the work of many other such institutions which he himself did not organise. Hare spared neither himself nor his property, in the cause of education in his land of adoption. He came here as a watchmaker but he gave up his business to become a whole‑timer in the field of education. At one time he became heavily indebted and had even, to depend upon the financial assistance of one of his brothers doing business in Canton. An atheist necessarily believed in education because he believed in mental emancipation. [8]

We may take Derozio to be another secular product of Scotland although only in an indirect sense. He was born in Calcutta of Portuguese and Indian parents on 10th April, 1809. 'They had five children of whom Henry Derozio was the second. His family­environment does not seem to have had much influence in the making of his intellectual life. It is his school which moulded him. He received his education at Drummond's Academy, one of the foremost English Schools of Calcutta. It was situated on Dharamatala Street at the corner of Hospital Lane.

David Drumond was an extraordinary man of his time. He was a Scotchman and was a disciple of David Hume, a Scottish  philosopher who was known for his onslaught on religion. Following Hume, Drummond became an atheist and began to take much interest in metaphysics, literature and politics. He pub­lished a periodical called Weekly Examiner, for propagating his radical views. Because of his unorthodox views on religion he was eventually hounded out of his native land, and he came to Calcutta in the year 1813. Drummond then established his Academy for earning a living as well as for infusing the current revolutionary ideas into the minds of his young pupils. On his tomb it has been inscribed that he was "a successful teacher of youth". But the guardians were then often afraid of sending their wards to his Academy lest they should turn atheists. Henry Derozio entered Drummond's school, at the impressionable age of fourteen, and came to be saturated with radical thoughts from his teacher. His student life extended from 1815 to 1823 and he had a brilliant academic career. His indeed was an extremely fertile mind on which the seed of radicalism soon sprouted forth. In this connection it may also be mentioned that Claude, another brother of Derozio, went to Scotland for education where he died in, 1836 at the age of 22.

Initiated into the rationalist thought of Europe by his teacher, Derozio never failed to develop his ideas. He was a voracious reader and burnt midnight oil to go through the major works of the rationalist philosophers of all ages. Thus his mind became completely free, and he became the first philosopher of the Bengal Renaissance.

Derozio joined the Hindu College in 1826 as a teacher [9] and taught there till 1831. The brilliant boys of Bengal were then flocking to the College to receive the new education. Derozio, an exceptional teacher, worked on their minds, and poured forth the ideas of rationalism and freedom there like a lava‑stream.

It appears that Derozio introduced his students to Hume and the Scottish School of philosophers, thoughts of the French Enlightenment and the philosophy of British Empiricism. But of all these philosophers of these schools Hume was his most fav­ourite author. He wrote a critique of Kant and defended Hume. Derozio might have imbibed his love for Hume from Drummond. It was Hume, more than any other author, which led the Derozians directly to camp of atheism, although Derozio never kept before them any ready‑made conclusions and always wanted them to think for themselves and to live and die for truth.[10]

Derozio's teachings revolutionised the ideas and standards of life of his disciples. Indeed they were the first modern rationalists of the country and became the first great exponents of an Indian Enlightenment, the central idea of which was the idea of self‑liberation through knowledge and at the same time they sought to impart a new meaning to their lives through their conduct and attitude towards their fellow‑men. A veracity in thought and action and a high sense of social responsibility characterized their moral conscience.

The group has come to be known as Young Bengal because by 1830 when the intellectual movement represented by it was coming into prominence almost all its members were still in their teens. It was the first fruit of the secular English education provided at the Hindu College. [11]

For all practical purposes the Young Bengal movement came, however, to be dissipated by the forties of the 19th century. Rationalism not only forbids man to assume any transcendental reality beyond the visible order of nature, it should further lead him to proclaim the sovereignty of man. If intuition is the basis of a religious life, rationalism is that of a Huma­nist view of life. In other words, rationalism, to fulfil itself, must culminate in Humanism. The European Renaissance had also a Humanist content. The Young Bengal group, however, could not develop any such Humanist ideology. In fact, it had no ideology at all and did not go beyond registering a protest against the domination of thought by religion. The Young Bengal movement was thus more or less a negative movement. Because of this lack of ideology the group had no sustained feeling of role‑playing and, as we shall see later on, could be easily led astray by the associates of Rammohun. [12] During the latter half of the century the atmosphere of the country therefore came to be too much surcharged with devotional religious fervour. The urge for a secular philosophy of life then appeared at least partly as a reaction against it. The urge led a section of highly educated people to the philosophy of Auguste Comte.

The writings of Comte made immediately a world‑wide impact and claimed among his admirers many celebrities of the age. The history of English Positivism dates from 1848, when Congreve, a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, visited France and came under the influence of Comte. From England Comte migrated to Bengal. The impact of Comte began to be felt here after the publication of Harriet Martineau's Positive Philosophy in 1853. Comte wrote in French, and the Indian educated section was generally cut off from the cultural trends outside the Anglo‑Saxon sphere. So it could not acquire an acquaintance with the works of Comte unless they were translated into English. In Bengal and, for the matter of that, in India, we come across the first reference to Comte in 1856.  Karl Marx and Auguste Comte were the two almost contemporary disciples of Saint Simon. But Comte travelled to India far ahead of Marx, he finding no mention here before the year 1903. [13]

There was great relevance of Comte's philosophy for modern India. Central to this philosophy was the law of three stages. The first was the theological stage which was characterised by man's tendency to assume that divine beings governed the world. The next was the metaphysical stage when he began to explain natural phenomena as governed by impersonal transcendental forces, and the last was the positive or scientific stage. Europe had already reached the Positive stage in the 19th century, I while India was still languishing in the polytheistic stage, a sub‑division of the theological stage. Comte, however, thought that polytheistic nations could now avoid the metaphysical stage and advance directly to the Positivist one through the imbibe­ment of the modern scientific knowledge. The importance of Comte's thought for the prospect of Indian rationalism cannot therefore be overemphasised.

In a sense, however, the Comtists were more thorough going rationalists than the Derozians. The Derozians were committed to rationalism only on the philosophical plane. It means that they became sceptic in different degrees in their world‑view and their rationalism did not go far beyond mere abstract philosophical discussions. Human society came within their purview only to the extent that they wanted to remove some of the glaring social abuses of the Hindus. They showed no concern whatsoever for social sciences as such which demonstrated that social phenomena, like natural phenomena, were governed by laws and might be studied in the same way.

Derozio introduced his disciples to the rationalist thought of the Scottish School of Philosophers and the French Enlightenment. But so far as the latter was concerned, he gave them only a partial idea of it. The French Enlightenment has been characterised as the Second Renaissance in which the First Renaissance found fulfillment. The First Renaissance saw the ascendancy of rationalism in philosophy which incidentally paved the way for physical and biological sciences. But it left the socio‑political sphere of man untouched, and even in philosophy its triumph was not complete. With the French Enlightenment the reign of rationalism became more pervasive and thoroughgoing. Philosophy became now more materialistic and atheistic. Human society was also brought within the purview of rationalism which gave birth to various social sciences. The discovery of the laws of social phenomena would make possible the rational reconstruction of society and the production of socially desirable results. Reason thus ceased to be a subject of mere philosophical speculations and was to become the regulating factors of practical life. That is why the 18th century in France has been called the Age of Reason. Saint Simon (1760‑1825) was the first thinker to envision a fully rounded society.

Derozio was a student of literature and philosophy, and therefore the philosophical aspect of the French Enlightenment attracted him most. He had no fascination for social sciences. The young Bengal boys imbibed this spirit from their talented teacher. Thus, when they were running the Academic Association, they were far more interested in iconoclastic abstract philosophical ideas than in any other things. But gradually they realised the importance of a more broad‑based Organisation and replaced the Academic Association by the Society for the Acquisition of General Knowledge. Educated youths from different parts of the province became its members. In this Society the Derozians, however, began to evince a greater interest than before in social‑science subjects, particularly in history. But even then they did not probe deeper into it. They did not try to examine the fact that while many of the evils from which the country was suffering might be immediately due to British domination, how could a few handful of foreigners hailing from distant lands subjugate a vast country like India, not once, but repeatedly. Basically therefore the body politic must be diseased. The real disease was the spiritual slavery of the Indian people of which their political slavery was only a symptom. Unless therefore the disease was tackled at the root, they would not .be able to get out of the woods. This pinpointed the necessity of examining the old ideas and ideals responsible for the stunted growth of Indian society. The Derozians, however, mostly derived rationalist ideas from Western source and failed to establish a meaningful contact with India's. They thus remained rootless intellectuals. [14] The Positivists took up this much‑needed task of examining India's spiritual heritage. In fact, the Positivists of Bengal for the first time made a search for discovering the roots of rationalism and materialism in the Hindu philosophical tradition—a task formerly neglected by the Derozians. Incidentally, it may also be mentioned here that while trying to discover the laws governing Hindu society they laid the basis of Indian sociology.

The movement inspired by the ideas of Comte was also more mature than that of Derozio in the sense that, unlike the latter, the former was committed to the cult of man. Positivism, in denying the divine side of man and a divine order in nature, quite consistently made humanity its highest ideal.

But even this mature rationalist movement, as we shall see subsequently, had to face opposition of the Vedantic camp almost from its inception and met no better fate than the Derozian movement.

Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and his lieutenant Akshoy Ku­mar Dutt came constitute the hyphen which joined the Derozian camp of the first half of the 19th century with the Positivist camp of the second half. In fact, Iswar Chandra was a movement by  himself during this intermediate period.

Vidyasagar appears to have derived his rationalism and anti‑Vedantic bias from his grounding in the Navya Nayaya. His family belonged to the pundit samaj of Khanakul‑Krishnagar which was widely known for the cultivation of this new logic. Besides, Vidyasagar himself was a student of Navya Nyaya at the Sanskrit College, and according to Havell, Principal of the Col­lege, he mastered it with great care. Jainarain Tarkapanchanan, his teacher of logic there, exercised also a tremendous influence upon him.

But Iswar Chandra reinforced his rationalism from this in indigenous source with Western knowledge. He was a student of the Sanskrit College from 1829 to 1841. These twelve years also constituted the heyday of the Derozian movement. The Hindu College and the Sanskrit College were then accommodated in the same building but a barbed fence separated them so that the students of one College could not come in contact with those of the other. Ideas had, however, wings, and barbed wires certainly could not stop their movement. Across the barbed fence the students of two Colleges sometimes came to blows. It symbolised the clash of ideas represented by the two institutions. This clash of ideas came in the life of Iswar Chandra with great potentialities. Prominent Derozians like Ramgopal Ghose, Dukshinaranjan Mukhopadhyaya, Russick Krishna Mullick and Radhanath Sikdar were among his most intimate friends. Vidyasagar became an enthusiastic member of the Society for the Acquisition of General Knowledge and regularly attended all its meetings. Then when the Young Bengal movement became dissipated during the early forties, he kept aloft its high standard.

Iswar Chandra had close contacts with the Positivists as well. Krishnakamal Bhattacharya and his elder brother, Ramkamal, were two prominent Positivists of the day. They belonged to a Brahmin pundit family and were the students of the Sanskrit College. Krishnakamal testified that the religious faith of both the brothers rapidly disintegrated under the influence of Vidyasagar, and they became attracted towards the contemporary Positivist movement. Dmarakanath Mitra, another leading figure of the Bengal Positivists, came of his own accord to meet Vidyasagar to get inspiration from him. Mitra was indeed so close to Iswar Chandra intellectually as well as socially that he was called Vidyasagar the Second. Iswar Chandra in his turn was also influenced by Comte as he is seen to have attended the Festival of Humanity organised by the Bengal Positivists in 1887.

But even this highly respected man could not escape the wrath of the Brahmo leaders for his undaunted rationalism. He and Akshoy Kumar, who soon lost his Brahmo faith after coming in intimate contact with the former, became their targets, of attack in the fifties of the century.

Notes

1. Selections from Educational Records edited by J. A. Richey, p. 7.

2. Ibid., p. 30.

3. Kanada (4th century B.C.) and Democritus (5th century B.C.) visualised an atomic structure of matter. Similarly Aristarchus (3rd century B.C.) and Aryabhatta (5th century B.C.) conceived the movement of the earth on its axis round the sun. But still that did not give birth to science. It is only when Galileo used his telescope to show "with the certainty of sense‑perception" what hitherto remained mere inspired hypotheses that science rose. This shows that truth does not reveal itself to mere observation or contemplation but has to be wrested out by grappling with the reality.

4. Ward also wrote in 1822 that "almost every town in Bengal contains some Naiyayika schools"—See his View of the History, Literature and Religion of the Hindoos, Part II, p. 236.

According to the Sadharani dated 17.9.1289, every important village, particularly those from Murshidabad to Sibpore, had one chatuspathi of Navya Nyaya. It then comments that "nowhere else in Northern Bengal such a phenomenon is to be found".

Even in 1791 "the College of Nuddea alone" had about 11,000 students and 150 professors. These again fell far short of those in former days. In its heydays Nadia had 4,000 students and 550, professors. Calcutta Monthly Register for January, 1791 reprinted in Calcutta Review, Vol.. XXV, July 1885, p. 114.

5. Vide Education Gazette, dated 23rd Asharh,1284 B.S.

6. Here we may note what Bernard Shaw has to say about the Christian education: "It is hopelessly pre‑evolutionary, its astronomy is terra‑centric, its notions of the starry universe are childish". Shaw therefore concludes that "people whose education is derived from the Bible are so absurdly misinformed as to be unfit for public employment, parental responsibility or the franchise."

7. About David Hare's education, James Kerr, Principal of the Hindu College, said in his Review of Public Instruction in the Bengal Presidency from 1815 to 1851: "He might have passed for a well‑educated man, but for his simplicity and sincerity which was natural to him and which raised him above the pedantry of learning."

8. For Hare's role see the author's article "Morning Star" in Radical Humanist of 15th June, 1969 and 22nd June 1969.

9. H. H. Wilson, the famous Indologist who was connected with Drummond's Academy, gave the appointment to Derozio, a famous student of the Academy, when he became visitor to the College. Bangadoot, dated 30th May, 1829.

10. For Derozio's role see the author's article "Light versus Darkness" in Radical Humanist dated 22nd June, 1969.

11. For the activities of Young Bengal see the author's article "A Father versus Truth" in Radical Humanist dated 6th April, 1969.

12. For a comparative study of the two movements see the author's article "First Indian Humanists" in the Radical Humanist for January, 1975.

13. The mention was made in the Amrita Bazar Patrika.

14. See the author's article "Political Movement and its Cultural Basis" in the Radical Humanist of 8th June, 1969.


SOURCE: Dahr, Niranjan. Vedanta and the Bengal Renaissance. Calcutta: Minerva Associates, 1977. Chapter 10, 'Secular English Education and Learning', pp. 152-165.

Note: Footnotes are misnumbered (apparently) in the original text. A few textual corrections have been made.


Vedanta and the Bengal Renaissance: Contents by Niranjan Dahr

Chapter 11: Triumph of Vedanta


Science and Philosophy in Ancient India by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya

Lokayata by Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya

Some Loud Thinking About the Bhagavadgita by G. Ramakrishna

Occultism, Eastern Mysticism, Fascism, & Countercultures: Selected Bibliography

Holistic Thought, New Age Obscurantism, Occultism, the Sciences, & Fascism

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

Development of Philosophical Thought and Scientific Method in Ancient India


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