The Beautiful Tree- Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century

The Beautiful Tree- Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century

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Book Specification

Item Code: UAJ046
Author: Dharampal
Publisher: Rashtrotthana Sahitya, Bangalore
Language: English
Edition: 2021
ISBN: 8175310952
Pages: 456
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 640 gm

Book Description

About the Author
DHARAMPAL (1922-2006) authored several books that sought to present different aspects of the Indian society and polity from an Indian perspective. These rigorously documented books disrupted the scholarly consensus about the backwardness and dis-functionality of pre-British India and presented the picture of a society that in fact was highly sophisticated and advanced in its political ideas and arrangements and in its sciences, technologies and education systems. These works are of abiding interest and importance.

In the Dharampal Classics Series, we present his major works in their original authentic version and in an aesthetically rich format. The Series is being brought out by the Centre for Policy Studies, a research institute with which Sri Dharampal was associated for several years, and Rashtrotthana Parishat, an organization that had the good fortune to host Dharampalji at Bangalore on several occasions and to introduce him and his work to the Kannada readers.

The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteenth Century (1983) is the best known of Dharampalji's books based on the materials collected in the course of his extensive study in the British archives. It compiles documents of a survey of indigenous education ordered by Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras, in 1822. The details of the indigenous schools and institutions of higher learning sent by the Collectors of 21 districts of the extensive Madras Presidency offer a fascinating picture of the extent, inclusiveness and sophistication of the then prevailing system of education in India. It also includes extracts from the reports of W. Adam (1835-38) and G. W. Leitner (1882) about indigenous education in Bengal and Punjab, respectively.

A GREAT DEAL of scholarly work has been published on the history of education in India, especially during the 1930s, and 1940s. In fact, writings on the subject, initially by British officials-cum-scholars, started to appear as early as the mid-nineteenth century. Most of these histories, however, relate to the ancient period, sometimes going as far as the tenth or twelfth century A.D., others deal with the history of education during British rule, and thereafter. Besides detailed scholarly works on specific ancient educational institutions like that at Nalanda or Taxila, there are more general works like that of A. S. Altekar' on the ancient period; for the later period, there have been several publications: besides the two volumes of Selections from Educational Records, published and recently reprinted by the Government of India itself, the work of S. Nurullah and J. P. Naik may be mentioned here.' The latter work is interestingly described by the two authors (thus indicating its time and mood) as an attempt at a "well-documented and comprehensive account of Indian educational history during the last one hundred and sixty years and to interpret it from the Indian point of view".' Though perhaps less academic, but reaching a far wider audience is the voluminous work of Pandit Sundarlal, first published in 1938.5 The 36th chapter of this celebrated work entitled, "The Destruction of Indian Indigenous Education", runs into 40 pages, and extensively quotes from various British authorities. These span over about a century, from the Dispatch from England of 3rd June 1814 to the Governor General in India to the observations of Max Mueller, and the 1909 remarks of the British labor leader, Keir Hardie. However, given the period in which the book was written and the inaccessibility of the detailed manuscript records, it was inevitable that the author had to base his work entirely on existing printed sources. Nevertheless, as an introduction, this chapter of Bharat mein Angreji Raj is a landmark on the subject of indigenous. Indian education in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Very little, however, has been written on the history, or state of education during the thirteenth to the early nineteenth century. Undoubtedly there are a few works like that of S. M. Jaffar' pertaining to Muslim education, and a chapter or two, or some cursory references in most educational histories pertaining to the period of British rule and to the decayed state of indigenous Indian education in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Nurullah and Naik in their book? devote the first 43 pages (out of 643 pages) to discussing the state of indigenous education in the early nineteenth century, and in challenging certain later British views about the nature and extent of it.

MUCH OF Indian historical knowledge has been derived, at least until recent decades, from the writings of foreigners. This applies to o~ knowledge about Indian education as well as to that relating to most other spheres. Unless the Indian source material is of an epigraphically or archaeological nature, the oral traditions, belief , or even contemporary Indian writings, if taken into account at all, do not, in themselves, seem to be relied upon by those who write history. The . universities of Taxila and Nalanda, and a few others until recently have . been more known and written about, primarily because they had been described centuries ago by some Greek or Chinese traveler, who happened to keep a journal which had survived, or communicated such information to his compatriots who passed it down to modern times.

As it happens, there seem to be relatively few foreign accounts of India between about the 10th and 16th centuries AD. Further, those which are known are more concerned with the exploits of those men to whom the writers or chroniclers were attached. Moreover, as such chroniclers happened to be mostly from West Asia (which had a different style of narration), and not from Europe, or China, and further, were closely connected with the extension of Islam into parts of India, they have, consequently, received much less notice and celebrity unless, of course, what they said suited the 19th century writers of Indian history. It is also probable that so much had already been written by the 8th or 10th century AD. about the wealth, learning, and philosophies of India (and, furthermore, the organization of its society, being basically not too different from contemporary society in its neighboring areas) that the foreign travelers and chroniclers of this period had no special reason to write about such matters. It may also possibly be true, as is generally held by many scholars, that from the 8th or 10th century AD. onwards India was on a visible, or imperceptible declining course, and that what the foreign visitor saw did not really catch his attention.

However, from about 1500 A.D. and more so from about the close of the 16th century, travelers and adventurers of a new kind began to wander around parts of India. Since for centuries the areas they came from had had no direct links with India, and as they had come from wholly different climates and societies, to them most aspect of India-its manners, religions, philosophies, ancient and contemporary architecture, wealth, learning, and even its educational methods were something quite different from their own European backgrounds, as- sumptions and experience. It is not that the areas they came from, that is southern and western Europe did not have wealth, philosophies, religions, or great historical architecture. As regards wealth itself, by then there were thousands of families possessing long-accumulated wealth not only amongst the nobility but also in the mercantile and banking classes in different parts of Europe. Moreover, from 1500 onward vast amounts of gold and silver had begun to pour into Europe from the Americas. I Europe also had a 1500 years old religion, and the concepts, philosophies and world-view it gave birth to. However, to the European elite, the world of India had long appeared as something from quite another planet. Furthermore, by about 1500, a tradition of writing, of narration, of description, and even more importantly of printing had begun to spread through Europe. It is not surprising, therefore, that many such travelers, and adventurers, or plenipotentiaries of the various kingdoms of Europe belonging to the European religious or secular elite (as distinct from the sailors or soldiers who, though they made such travel possible, were mere hewers of wood and drawers of water) began to write about their observations and about what interested them to the extent and in the manner they comprehended what they saw, or also in line with what suited their varying audiences.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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