Indian Thought

A Critical Survey

K. Damodaran

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A systematic study of Indian philosophy and culture began only as late as the last years of the eighteen century. The establishment of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784 at the initiative of a few professors of Oxford University marked a turning point in this direction. This was, perhaps, due to the thirst for knowledge impelled by the rise of capitalism and the development of science and culture accompanying it. Perhaps, it was also necessitated by the interests of the British rulers themselves who, in the order to consolidate their power, wanted to acquaint themselves with the traditions and history of India. Whatever the motives, eminent scholars like Sir William Jones, Colebrook, Wilson and others began a serious study of the material and spiritual culture of this ancient land. These pioneers were followed by A.E. Gough, Max Muller, Deussen, Davids, Jacobi, Richard Garbe and many others. By the beginning of the nineteenth century a number of ancient works on philosophy and religion had been translated from Sanskrit into English and other European languages. Subsequently, some significant original works on the history of Indian philosophy and religion and on the different philosophical system of ancient India also came to be written. These works stimulated the interest of many Indian intellectuals in the history of their country, and in the first half of the of the twentieth century a large number of books on Indian philosophy were written by Indian scholars. In this endeavours, however, they relied heavily on their European counterparts who were looked upon at almost infallible authorities on the subject.