Western Indologists – A Study in Motives: Part 3

(This is part 3 of the monograph “Western Indologists – A Study in Motives” – by Pandit Bhagvad Datt, which is being presented as a 4 part series. Read earlier parts here – Part 1, Part 2)

Prejudiced Sanskrit Professor


At the time when Max Muller was busy besmirching the glory of Bharatiya literature and religion in England, Albert Weber was devoting himself to the same ignominious task in Germany. We have already referred to the unstinting praise of the Bhagavad-Gita by Humboldt. Weber could not tolerate this. He had the temerity to postulate that the Mahabharata and Gita were influenced by Christian thought.

Mark what he wrote :

“The peculiar colouring of the Krishna Sect, which pervades the whole book, is noteworthy; Christian legendary matter and other Western influences are unmistakably present……”1

The view of Weber was strongly supported by two other Western scholars, Lorinser2 and E. Washburn Hopkins3 Yet the view was so blatantly absurd that most of the professors in European Universities did not accept it in spite of their Christian leanings. But the propagation of this wrong view played its mischief and was mainly responsible for the hesitation of the Western scholars (including the antagonists) to assign to the Mahabharata a date, earlier than the Christian era.

Weber And Bankim Chandra

I am not alone in holding this view. This is what Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya, the well known Bengali scholar, has to say about Weber in his Krishna Charita :

“The celebrated Weber was no doubt a scholar but I am inclined to think that it was an unfortunate moment for India when he began the study of Sanskrit. The descendants of the German savages of yesterday could not reconcile themselves to the ancient glory of India. It was therefore, their earnest effort to prove that the civilization of India was comparatively of recent origin. They could not persuade themselves to believe that the Mahabharata was composed centuries before Christ was born.”!4

Weber And Goldstucker

Weber and Boehtlingk prepared a Dictionary of the Sanskrit Language called the ‘Sanskrit Worterbuch’. Prof. Kuhn was also one of their assistants. Being mainly based on the wrong and imaginary principles of philology, the work is full of wrong meanings in many places and is, therefore, unreliable and misleading. It is a pity that so much labour was wasted on account of sheer prejudice. The dictionary was a subject of severe criticism by Prof. Goldstucker which annoyed the two editors. Weber was so much upset that he stooped to use abusive language of the coarsest kind5 against Prof. Goldstucker. He said that the views of Prof. Goldstucker about the Worterbuch showed “a perfect derangement of his mental faculties,”6 since he did not reject the authority of the greatest Hindu scholars freely and easily. Replying to their undignified attacks Prof. Goldstucker exposed the conspiracy of Professors Roth, Boehtlingk, Weber and Kuhn which they had formed to undermine the greatness of ancient Bharatvarsha. He wrote:

“It will, of course, be my duty to show, at the earliest opportunity, that Dr. Boehtlingk is incapable of understanding even easy rules of Panini, much less those of Katyayana and still less is he capable of making use of them in the understanding of classical texts. The errors in his department of the Dictionary are so numerous that it will fill every serious Sanskritist with dismay, when he calculates the mischievous influence which they must exercise on the study of Sanskrit philology”.7

He further remarks “that questions which ought to have been decided with the very utmost circumspection and which could not be decided without very laborious research have been trifled with in the Worterbuch in the most unwarranted manner.”8

Godlstucker was called upon by one of Boehtlingk’s men not only to have respect for “the editor of Panini…”(i.e. Boehtlingk), but even for “the hidden reasons for foisting on the public his blunders of every kind.”9

We know that there were no other ‘hidden reasons’ than their Christian and Jewish bias which impelled them to suppress the correct information of the Hindu grammarians and underrate and vilify Hindu civilization and culture, and at the same time to serve as tools of the British government towards the same end.            .

Professor Kuhn, who ‘gave his opinion on the Worterbuch’ was “an individual whose sole connection with Sanskrit studies consisted in handling Sanskrit books to those who could read them, a literary naught, wholly unknown, but assuming the airs of a quantity, because it had figures before it that prompted it on, a personage who, according to his own friends, was perfectly ignorant of Sanskrit.”10

Provoked by the unwarranted flouting of the authentic Hindu tradition, Professor Goldstucker was compelled to raise his ‘feeble but solitary voice’ against the coterie of mischievous propagandists masquerading under the garb of ‘scientific’ scholars. He concludes his laborious work with the following significant remarks:

“When I see that the most distinguished and the most learned Hindu scholars and divines-the most valuable and sometimes the only, source of all our knowledge of ancient India-are scorned in theory, mutilated in print, and, as consequence, set aside in the interpretation of Vedic texts; when a clique of Sanskritists of this description vapours about giving us the sense of the Veda as it existed at the commencement of Hindu antiquity; when I consider that this method of studying Sanskrit philology is pursued by those whose words apparently derive weight and influence from the professional position they hold; then I hold that it would be a want of courage and a dereliction of duty, if I did not make a stand against these Saturnalia of Sanskrit Philology.”11


Monier Williams, who revealed the real object of the purpose of the establishment of the Boden chair, thus delivers himself:

“Brahmanism, therefore, must die out. In point of fact, false ideas on the most ordinary scientific subjects are so mixed up with its doctrines that the commonest education-the simplest lessons in geography-without the aid of Christianity must inevitably in the end sap its foundations.”12

“When the walls of the mighty fortress of Brahmanism are encircled, undermined, and finally stormed by the soldiers of the cross, the victory of Christianity must be signal and complete”·13

Therefore, we are justified in drawing the conclusion that his book, ‘The Study 0f Sanskrit In Relation to Missionary Work In India’ (1861 CE, London) was written with the sole object of promoting Christianity and ousting Hindu Dharma. In spite of this some of our Bharatiya Sanskrit scholars call these European scholars, unbiased students of Sanskrit Literature, whose sole aim has been to acquire knowledge for its own sake.

Again, expressing his deep rooted veneration for the Bible, Monier Williams writes : “the Bible, though a true revelation.14


Rudolf Hoernle was the Principal of Queen’s College, Banaras, in Samvat 1926. At that time Swami Dayananda Saraswati, who later on founded the Arya Samaja, happened to reach Banaras for the first time for the propagation of his mission. Dr. Hoernle met Swami Dayananda on several occasions. He wrote an article15 on Swami ji from which the following extract is noteworthy, because it reveals the real intention of many European scholars who take to the study of Sanskrit and ancient scriptures of Bharatvarsha. Hoernle says:

” …….. He (Dayananda) may possibly convince the Hindus that their modem Hinduism is altogether in opposition to the Vedas …….. If once they become thoroughly convinced of this radical error, they will no doubt abandon Hinduism at once…… they cannot go back to the Vedic state; that is dead and gone, and will never revive; something more or less new must follow. We hope it may be Christianity..”16


Richard Garbe was a German Sanskritist, who edited many Sanskrit works. Besides these, he wrote in 1914 CE a Book for the missionaries, entitled ‘Indlen und das Christen tum.’ His religious bias is quite evident in this book.


The pride of the superiority of their own philosophy, religion and of the infallibility of their own conclusions has become so ingrained in the above mentioned type of Western Sanskrit scholars that they feel no hesitation in giving expression to it, brazen-­facedly before the public. Reverent admiration of the philosophy Of the Upanishads by Schopenhauer, often quoted by Bharatiya writers, rankled in the heart of the Europeans, and as late as 1925 CE, Prof. Winternitz thought it incumbent on him to denounce the sincere and heartfelt views of Schopenhauer in the following words :

“Yet I believe, it is a wild exaggeration when Schopenhauer says that the teaching of the Upanishads represents ‘the fruit of the highest human knowledge and wisdom’ and contains ‘almost superhuman conceptions the originators of which can hardly be regarded as mere mortals’ ………”17

Not content with his invective against the Upanishads he had the audacity to deprecate even the greatness of the Vedas by saying :

“It is true, the authors of these hymns rise but extremely seldom to the exalted flights and the deep fervour for, say, the religious poetry of the Hebrews.”18

This vilification did not remain confined to Sanskrit scholars alone, but through them it percolated into the field of science. Not knowing a word of the exact and multifarious scientific knowledge19 of the ancient Hindus, Sir William Cecil Dampier writes:

“Perhaps the paucity of Indian contribution to other sciences (than Philosophy and Medicine) may in part be due to the Hindu religion.”20

The climax of hatred against Hindu Dharma is seen in the highly mischievous and provoking remarks like the following even in popular literature :

(a) “The curse of India is the Hindu religion. More than two hundred million people believe a monkey mixture of mythology that is strangling the nation.” “He who yearns for God in India soon loses his head as well as his heart.”21

(b) Prof. McKenzie of Bombay finds the ethics of Bharat defective, illogical and anti-social, lacking any philosophical foundation, nullified by abhorrent ideas of asceticism and ritual and altogether inferior to the “higher spirituality” of Europe. He devotes most of his book ‘Hindu Ethics’ to upholding this thesis and comes to the triumphant conclusions that Hindu philosophical ideas, “when logically applied leave no room for ethics; and that they prevent “the development of a strenuous moral life.”22

It is a matter of serious mistake on the part of a Government which is anxious to win the friendship and sympathy of Bharat to allow such heinous type of literature as Ripley’s to be published. And again, it is a matter of regret at such books, whether published in Bharat or abroad, are not taken notice of by our politicians and have not been banned by our National Government. Not only is our Government indifferent to the interdiction of such slanderous literature, but even our universities not only prescribe but recommend for higher study books on Bharatiya history and culture written by foreign scholars who lose no opportunity of maligning our civilization openly or in a very subtle way.

Remarks like those of McKenzie on the ethics of a country from whose Brahmanas the whole wor1d learnt its morality and rules of conduct, are nothing short of blasphemy and national insult. The irony of the situation is that, instead of being condemned, such persons receive recognition and honour from our educationists and political leaders.


  1. “The History of Sanskrit Literature”, Popular ed. 1914, p. 189, footnote: cf also p. 300, foot-note.
  2. He wrote an article “Die Bhagavad-Gita” in samvat 1926.
  3. “India, Old and New”, New York, 1902, p. 146, Also Cf. his ‘Religions of India’, p. 429, Boston, 1895.
  4. Krishna charita, Third Chapter – The above is an English translation from the Hindi version.
  5. “Panini His Place in Sanskrit Literature”, Allahabad Edition, p. 200, 1914.
  6. Ibid. 200.
  7. Ibid.p.195.
  8. Ibid.p. 197.
  9. Ibid.p. 203.
  10. Ibid.p. 203.
  11. Ibid.pp. 204-205.
  12. Modern India and the Indians, by M. Williams, third ed. 1879, 261.
  13. Ibid.p. 262.
  14. Indian Wisdom, p. 143.
  15. The Christian Intelligencer, Calcutta, March 1870, p.79.
  16. A.F.R.H quoted in “The Arya Samaj” by Lajpat Rai, 1932, p. 42.
  17. Some Problems of Indian Literature, Calcutta, p. 61, 1925.
  18. History of Indian Literature, page 79, 1927.
  19. Our book “Scientific Observations of the Ancient Aryans” Which reveals their achievements in the various fields of science would be published very shortly.
  20. A history of Science, 4th edition, p. 8, Cambridge University Press, 1948.
  21. Ripley’s “Believe it or Not,” Part I, p. 14,26th edition, Pocket-Books Inc., New York.
  22. Vide “Ethics of India” by E.W. Hopkins, Preface, pp. x and xi, New Haven, 1924.