Language Politics Under Colonialism: Caste, Class and Language Pedagogy in Western India 1443842508, 9781443842501, 9781443865821

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Language Politics under Colonialism

Language Politics under Colonialism: Caste, Class and Language Pedagogy in Western India


Dilip Chavan

Language Politics under Colonialism: Caste, Class and Language Pedagogy in Western India, by Dilip Chavan This book first published 2013 Cambridge Scholars Publishing 12 Back Chapman Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2XX, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2013 by Dilip Chavan All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-4250-8, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-4250-1

This book is dedicated with gratitude to all those who have worked for the survival and enrichment of the languages of the subaltern.


Acknowledgements .................................................................................. viii Introduction ................................................................................................. x Chapter One ................................................................................................. 1 Theoretical Preliminaries Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 54 Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 71 Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent Chapter Four ............................................................................................ 136 The Standardisation of Marathi: Grammar and Lexicography Chapter Five ............................................................................................ 187 Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 231 Curriculum, Ideology and Pedagogy: Moral Textbooks and Domestication of the Neo-literate Chapter Seven.......................................................................................... 252 Conclusion Bibliography ............................................................................................ 259 Glossary ................................................................................................... 275 Appendix ................................................................................................. 277 Address to the Nobility and Gentry of Maharashtra Index ........................................................................................................ 283


This book has been long in the making. A number of people have contributed significantly to my efforts of thinking through this book and refining it. Intellectual in-puts and critical comments on this work came from many quarters. In the initial phase, discussion with Vidyadhar Auti (Ahmednagar), Sharad Patil (Dhule), Umesh Bagade (Aurangabad), Vinaydeep Rathi (Pune), Sharmila Rege (Pune) and Ranjit Pardeshi (Dhule) provided incisive insights. Stimulating discussions with B R Bapuji (Hyderabad), Ashok Kelkar (Pune), Probal Dasgupta (Kolkata), Maya Pandit (Hyderabad), Alok Bhalla (Hyderabad), Wandana Sonalkar (Aurangabad), K Rajyashree (Mysore), Bhalchandra Nemade (Shimla), Gail Omvedt (Shimla) and Anil Sadgopal (Bhopal) proved extremely useful in sharpening my understanding of the ideas. I am also thankful to Bajrang Bihari (New Delhi), B R Bapuji, Mahashweta Sengupta (Hyderabad), Narayan Bhosale (Jalgaon), K C Karhadkar (Ahmednagar), Devendra Ingle (Jalgaon), Kishor Gaikwad (Mumbai) and B A Kambale (Pune) for providing their personal books and sending the necessary materials. Research for this work was carried out at the Institute of Advanced Studies in English, Pune. I am grateful to the staff of the institute for the help received and rendered during the period of my fellowship. I am also thankful to the University Grants Commission of India for granting fellowship for this study. I am grateful to several institutes for enabling me to avail of the much-needed space for research and discussion during the creation of this book. Among them are New Arts, Commerce and Science College (Ahmednagar), Ahmednagar College (Ahmednagar), Central Institute of Indian Languages (Mysore), Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune), Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad (Pune), Deccan Vernacular Translation Society (Pune), Rajarshi Shahu Mandir Mahavidyalaya (Pune), Fergusson College (Pune), Alochana (Pune), Pune University (Pune), Bharat Itihas Sanshodhak Mandal (Pune), Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute (Pune), Maharashtara State Archives (Mumbai), Mumbai University (Mumbai), Mumbai Marathi Granthasangrahalaya (Mumbai), Elphinstone College (Mumbai), The English and Foreign Languages University (Hyderabad), Hyderabad University (Hyderabad),

Language Politics under Colonialism


Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (Bangalore), Kerala University (Thiruanantpuram), Maharaja Sayajirao Gaikwad College (Malegaon), Shivaji University (Kolhapur), Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University (Aurangabad), K S Vani Pragat Adhyayan Sanstha (Dhule), Sarvajanik Vachanalaya (Nasik), Liladhar Bhojraj Chandak Vidyalaya (Malkapur), Indian Institute of Advanced Study (Shimla), Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and Shreeram Vachan Mandir (Sawantwadi). This book is primarily based on the archival resources available in Maharashtra State Archives (Mumbai), Archives of the Director of Education (Pune) and Archives of the American Marathi Mission (Ahmednagar). I am grateful to Simon Barnabas, under whose constant encouragement and enquiring eye, this study was carried out. His invaluable guidance helped me clarify many basic concepts and formulate the basic framework of this book. I am also grateful to Ashok Thorat for the assistance I received since the beginning of this work. I am thankful to S B Nimse for encouraging me while the work was in progress. It gives me pleasure to thank many friends, who offered sustenance and warm hospitality while I was away from home– in Mumbai, Sunita Nimbalkar, Bhagwan Kesbhat, Kavita Shinde and Eknath Dhokale; in Pune, Nirmala Jadhav, Deepak Kasale, Sangita Thosar, Raju Jadhav, Varsha Badhe, Dinkar Murkute and Sunita Bhosale; in Dhule, Siddhartha Jagdeo; in Hyderabad, B R Bapuji; in New Delhi, Santosh Suradkar; in Ahmednagar, Rajendra Gonarkar and in Mysore, K Rajyashree. The students of the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies have helped me tremendously in understanding the world around us. I am particularly indebted to Dhammanand Sonkambale, Balu Budhvant, Rajesh Dhanpalwar, Nandlal Lokde and Mohamad Juber for their incessant comradeship during the adversities. Finally, my family has been an integral part of the making of this book. I must profoundly thank Laxmi Gaikwad, Vishakha, Arti, Sarika, Sumedh, Sham More and Sanjay Salve for their love and compassion during a yearlong hospitalisation of our son. I thank my mother, father, Varsha, Bharat, Vrushal, Prakruti and, most importantly, Supriya, for their constant support. I have no words to describe the negligence that they suffered while I was working on this book.


This book was conceived over the past decade as I reflected upon the linguistic politics that had accompanied the first few decades of the nineteenth century in Western India. The roots of this book stretch back to when I started writing a tract in 2003 on Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and caste struggle in Indian education for Krantisinh Nana Patil Academy, an organisation of intellectuals and activists that I have been privileged to be part of for long. Much water has flowed since histories of colonised societies were contrived as mere economic drain. Also, much has changed since the historians of education adopted a somewhat reductionist view of the nationalist ideology of education. Now, it is needless to say that any attempt to understand how unequal power is produced, reproduced, institutionalised and also contested must deal with language and education. Exploration of the relationship between language and politics in India has been long overdue. This book tries to capture the reconfiguration of pre-modern power structure within colonialism in the specific context of education and linguistic policies implemented by the colonial administration. The interrelationship existing between caste power and dominance and also between colonialism and its cultural implications in terms of caste have been rather ignored subject in the postcolonial theory; analysis of the interplay between primordial power structure like caste and colonial modernity has only currently reflected in some post-colonial writings. Against this backdrop, the book offers a nuanced understanding of collusive role that the indigenous elites played in working out new ways to preserve their privileges and dominance which also strengthened the hold of colonial regime without fully altering and disturbing the existing modes of dominance. The attempt is to dispel the thesis that a thorough going eradication of pre-capitalist relation is a pre-requisite to the growth and advancement of modern capitalism. The Indian case points to the contrary. The colonial state could engender its capitalist motives without substantially altering the existing feudal, hierarchical socio-economic and political arrangements. Drawing upon the theoretical framework of Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci, Louis Althusser and Jotirao Phule, the text attempts to delineate the relationship between language and power. Keeping at the backdrop the recent upsurge in critical thinking about power and dominance, the book

Language Politics under Colonialism


explicates the rather easy and unproblematic acceptance of hegemonic ideologies and power by the colonial subjects through an analysis of linguistic and educational policies prescribed and implemented in Western India. It is necessary to usefully draw attention to ‘the relative isolation of linguistics’ in the postcolonial scholarship from the controversies that have rocked the foundation of other fields including anthropology, history and literary theory. The role of caste in colonial India is another issue that has remained unattended to in the postcolonial scholarship. This relative isolation of caste can be attributed to the stereotyped notion of the East and the West, which was so foundational and integral to Edward Said’s book, Orientalism. Said’s approach grants absolute power to the dominant systems of representation and minimises or erases the agency of the colonised. While reflecting upon the collusive role that the indigenous elites played in India in the construction of a dominant ideology and colonial rule, many scholars have now begun to criticise the scholarship, which has developed under the Saidian influence. Many postcolonial critics have treated Orientalism as a Western construct only. Contrary to the Saidian perspective, the present study explores the active participation of indigenous social groups in the formation of contemporary cultural discourses. It is an attempt to analyse the colonial policy on language in Western India and the way the traditional elites influenced and shaped it. The book features three apparently contradictory discourses of Orientalism, Anglicism and Vernacularism. This discussion goes on to show how all these discourses shared certain common tenets of imperialism in the sense that all three found European language (English) as panacea for India’s backwardness. Europeanising the Indians was thought as the only solution to the Indian backwardness and lack. The differential language policy of the British vis-a-vis different social groupings went into perpetuating existing social hierarchies, despite apparent modifications. Following this, the book demonstrates how the British officialdom showed the inclination and tolerance towards indigenous elites. The book also argues against the popular understanding that English was a colonial imposition; it outlines the aspirations of traditional elites towards acquiring English education much before when Macaulay argued for Anglicism. The exclusivity of elite education was informed by the theory of ‘downward filtration’ which ignored elementary education through vernacular and instead advocated the education of selected group who would be conduits for diffusion of western learning among the people.



Historians of Indian education have not escaped the prolonged obsession with T. B. Macaulay, who has emerged since 1835 as a towering figure, continuously haunting the collective psyche of the Indian nationalists for long. Quite surprisingly, this has obscured the crucial role played by the albeit less known colonial administrators like Thomas Munro, Mountstuart Elphinstone and John Malcolm, who out of their experiential expediency through long stay in India had devised a policy of appeasement of the traditional caste-elite. Contrary to Macaulay’s expectation and will, Sanskrit has continued to dominate the Indian linguistic scenario. In the post-colonial era, Sanskrit was seen the conduit of India’s culture and the saviour of the values and life and national consciousness. For example, eclipsing his own socialist credentials, Nehru eulogised the role that Sanskrit played in the past. Continued patronage to and institutionalisation of Sanskrit in post-independent India validate that it was not Macaulay but Munro, Elphinstone and Malcolm who stole the limelight. Study of Indian languages has been camouflaged under the metanarratives of Sanskrit and also of English. The scholars of Marathi grammar like K. S. Arjunwadkar obstructed the scholarship on Marathi grammar by suggesting that only the one, who is proficient in Sanskrit and well-versed with Sanskrit grammar, is eligible for writing the grammar of Marathi or other Indian language. What reclines at the root of such a position is an assumption that Sanskrit is the mother of all Indian languages. However, a few scholars have ventured beyond technical and historical issues to examine the sociological, cultural and ideological contexts of grammar. The book also deals with the problem of standardisation of Marathi, which was evidently tilted towards certain socio-political and cultural needs of dominant classes. During the early phase of colonial rule, which also happened to be the formative phase of modern Marathi, many varieties of Marathi existed alongside the Pune-based brahminical version of Marathi; however, many early grammarians of Marathi gave no consideration to them. The diversity and plurality of Marathi words, for example, evident in terms of different regions and social groups, were first labelled by the early lexicographers of Marathi as obscene and then systematically erased from the vocabulary. This book is an attempt to show how the early nineteenth-century attempts of writing the grammars of Marathi, which were rooted in predominantly brahminical-colonial culture that was essentially elitist in orientation, can be seen as a prime ideological expression of puritanism. Inequality was intrinsic in educational distribution and the material benefit that education could potentially promise. Educational institutions

Language Politics under Colonialism


provide distinct mechanism through which power is maintained and contested. The book envisages how the study of Sanskrit Pathashala and Elphinstone Institution gives us an opportunity to problematise the EastWest encounter. Selective distribution of Sanskrit and English education contributed to exacerbate the pre-modern institutions and practices. The book also takes a comparative perspective in order to map the differential language policy aimed at perpetuating socio-cultural hierarchies through prescribing different linguistic practices in colonial Maharashtra. A comparison of two educational institutes—Sanskrit Pathshala in Pune and Elphinstone Institute in Mumbai—established in the early phase of colonial rule—is offered as illustration to this exclusivism whereby maintenance of privileges of certain classes and strata among the natives was made possible. English education in Mumbai was a deliberately cultivated policy. The Sanskrit education in Pune was intended to placate the affected upper castes, which suffered severely by the change of government upon the overthrow of the last Peshwa by the British in 1818. English education served the double purpose of consolidation of British power and maintaining existing hierarchies, as it offered specific privileged opportunities to certain segments of Indian population. The correlation between ideology and curriculum and between ideology and educational argumentation has important implications for the theory of pedagogy. The book also investigates the process of creation of moral textbook in Marathi. Education becomes a disciplinary project with the intent purpose of domesticating the colonised subject. It also tries to trace the colonial legacies in contemporary educational packages in India. Despite apparent official rhetoric to strengthen democracy through education, elitism and hierarchies are barely disturbed. The present study explores active participation of various indigenous social groups in the formation of contemporary cultural discourses. It attempts social history of Sanskrit and Persian. It discusses how the Orientalism, Anglicism and Vernacularism shared certain tenets of imperialism and differentiated language policy which was to perpetuate social hierarchy. It argues how the caste- origin of the standard Marathi in the nineteenth century explains the ideological difficulties it encountered. It states how the creation of moral textbooks in Marathi for school children was loaded with the ideological function of domestication. The book also deals with the repercussions of the colonial language policy in the postcolonial era. The book works with the assumption that study of colonialism becomes essential, as colonialism has continued to influence the choices, methods and strategies of development followed in the postcolonial societies. The contemporary issues of various types need to



be understood only with reference to colonialism as the constant historical backdrop. The present study hopes to help the scholars rationalise the present impoverishment of Indian languages. The process of standardisation of the regional languages has continued in the postcolonial era. This has resulted in the negligence of the regional and social variants of these languages, further stigmatising the use of standard language in the official situations like education. The official policy of using standard language gives way to the predominance of the upper caste-class writers in the language textbooks and marginal incorporation of the lower caste-class writers. This strongly contributes to the growing rate of dropouts at the school level, high rate of failure in the vernaculars in the board examinations and the consequent exclusion of the marginalised groups from the echelons of power.


Shall we resort to the power we possess to destroy their distinctions of castes, and to demolish their idols? Assuredly not. Force, instead of convincing them of their error, would fortify them in the persuasion of their being right; and the use of it, even if it promised happier consequences, would still be altogether unjust.1 —Charles Grant

Recasting Caste in a Colonial Society The mode of production prevailing in the pre-colonial Indian society has been a much debated issue among the social scientists. Was the pre-colonial Indian society a caste-based one characterised by endogamy, rigid and closed hierarchical structure and patriarchy; or was it a class-based society, wherein caste was just incidental and functioned only as a garb to class? Many of the social scientists have failed to distinguish between the sociologically distinct categories, caste and class–and have continued to use them interchangeably.2 Karl Marx had prophesised that with the 1

B. K. Boman-Behram, Educational Controversies in India: The Cultural Conquest of India under British Imperialism (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons and Co. 1943) 4. 2 Sharad Patil traces the history of the confusion that surrounds the compound category, caste-class: They [the terms ‘caste’ and ‘class’] are used meaningfully for the first time by S. V. Ketkar who remarks in 1901 that “classes are converted into castes by becoming endogamous.” This Brahminical hypothesis was later developed into a thesis by B. R. Ambedkar in 1916, which has become an inviolable dogma with the Ambedkarites in India. It assumes, without praising it, that in ancient Indian class formation preceded caste formulation. Traditional Indian Marxists inherited this dogma directly from their cocaste preceptors. E M S Namboodiripad puts it in Marxist terminology thus: “Caste is the main form in which class manifests itself.” —Sharad Patil. “Should ‘Class’ Be the Basis for Recognising Backwardness.” Economic and Political Weekly 25.50 (1990): 2733.


Chapter One

introduction of modern industry in India, hereditary caste distinctions would disappear. Following Marx, many Indian Marxist thinkers held the dogmatic view about the changes that colonialism ushered in in India. However, S. G. Sardesai had to admit in 1979 the futility of this “scientific prophesy” after a quarter of Indian independence and half a century of Indian communist movement. He admitted that the notion of modern bourgeois national state was introduced in India for the first time in its history by the British imperialists; but due to their colonial interests, instead of abolishing the pre-capitalist caste system, they continued its authority: Without going into other reason, it can be said as a point of fact that the bourgeois state in India due to its colonial nature did not perform its historical function of abolishing the feudal elements as it did in other western societies. What is relevant for us is the continued role of political authority in the caste system even in the British period…3

Gita Ramaswamy’s study of manual scavenging in Andhra Pradesh reveals that both the Moghul rule and the British rule perpetuated the practice of manual scavenging instead of abolishing it.4 What is noteworthy is that the British rule, in spite of its avowedly civilisational mission, legitimised and systematised scavenging. They officially created posts of manual scavengers and employed them in army cantonments and municipalities. She writes that the British “intervened specifically to institutionalise” scavenging. They did not use technology “to remove social prejudice.” Instead, the technology of sanitation was “structured to deepen social prejudice in India.”5 The mercantile entrepreneurial bourgeoisie of the East India Company, under the auspices of the Company rule and the colonial state, entered into formal protective relationships and political alliances with local feudal groups, such as the extractive high caste, landowning rural gentry and the princely régimes. The colonial power also attempted harnessing the class interests of the indigenous élites to those of the colonial state. Kumkum Sangari has argued quite pertinently that the colonial power was not interested in bringing about in the colony the kind of fundamental change, which Europe had witnessed. Unlike the transformation, which took place in the European society in the wake of the industrial society, 3

Sardesai quoted in Patil 2733. Gita Ramaswamy, India Stinking: Manual Scavengers in Andhra Pradesh and Their Work (Pondicherry: Navayan Publishing, 2005) 5-13. 5 Ramaswamy 6. 4

Theoretical Preliminaries


the mercantile entrepreneurial bourgeoisie of the East India Company and the colonial state disowned the responsibility of replicating the transformation of mercantile industrial capital in the colony.6 Abhay Shukla also has convincingly argued that, historically, there has hardly been any society characterised by “pure capitalism”. A thorough going eradication of pre-capitalist socio-cultural relations by emergent capitalism is an exception not a rule in capitalist development. In reality, capitalism has often compromised and collaborated with “pre-capitalist” social forms.7 It is evident from the histories of various colonised societies that the colonisers, instead of dismantling the earlier feudal structure, fostered the process of formation of new classes, which were to co-exist alongside the feudal structure and be the mediators between themselves and the ruled. Colonialism could not have survived without making use of the precolonial hierarchical social structures and further creating ruptures in the colonised societies. One of the imperial strategies of the British was the idea of divide et empera. The colonial state saw the fragmentation of the Hindu society into thousands of castes as an explanation for why India could never be united as one nation, or be an effective challenge to foreign rule. In the view of Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), who introduced modern English education in Western India, hierarchical system was essential to maintain good relations between the British in India and the indigenous society. His idea was that a mixture of castes would alienate the higher castes from English education. Hence, the way out was to deprive the poor students of English education.8 Francis Warden, who was opposed to Elphinstone’s views on the medium of education, enthusiastically agreed with Elphinstone on the issue of caste. In his Minute on education, Warden wrote that the government should not be “too forward in taking the education of the natives on itself, nor interfere too much in the institutions that exist in the country, imperfect as they may be.”9 James Kerr, the Principal of Presidency College of Calcutta, captured the significance and relevance of caste to the British Empire in 1865 thus: 6

Kumkum Sangari, Politics of the Possible: Essays on Gender, History, Narratives, Colonial English (New Delhi: Tulika, 1999) 9. 7 Abhay Shukla. Imperialist Globalisation and Communalism. An unpublished paper presented in the “Samyunkta Khoj” in Nagpur on 8-4-2007. 8 For more details of Elphinstone’s discriminatory language policy, refer to chapter 2. 9 Francis Warden. “Minute dated 29 December 1823.” Indian Education in Parliamentary Papers Part – I. A. N. Basu. Ed. (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1952) 213.


Chapter One It may be doubted if the existence of caste is on the whole unfavourable to the permanence of our rule. It may even be considered favourable to it, provided we act with prudence and forbearance. Its spirit is opposed to national union.10

The above British opinions clearly indicate that the pre-colonial hierarchy in the Indian society became a site of manipulation for the colonial rulers. The colonial state, far from being neutral to the pre-colonial hierarchy in the Indian society, was indeed one of its vital constitutive elements. It was colonialism that facilitated incorporation India into world capitalism. The colonialists wanted to restructure the Indian society so as to make it suitable to colonial exploitation. Even, the pre-colonial state had attempted a partial restructuring of the society. For example, Murshid Quli Khan had reorganised the fiscal system of Bengal to substitute it with a solvent and relatively vigorous set of landlords for a bankrupt and effete landed aristocracy.11 Ranajit Guha has shown how the British manipulated the pre-colonial structures in India by infusing new blood for old in the proprietary body by the Permanent Settlement in the east, ryotwƗri in the south and some permutations of the two in most other parts of the county. He writes: The outcome of all this was to revitalize a quasi-feudal structure by transferring resources from the older and less effective members of the landlord class to younger and for the régime politically and financially, more dependable ones... the crude medieval type of oppression in the countryside emanating from the arbitrary will of local despots under the previous system was replaced now by the more regulated will of a foreign power...12

Distinguishing between the categories, “caste” and “class”, Sharad Patil has convincingly argued that class-relations had not existed in precolonial India. According to him, class relations were implanted upon the caste society in the course of colonial encounter when capitalist mode of production was also introduced in India. Thus, Cornwallis’s Act of Permanent Settlement in 1793, which made the zamindƗrs the owners of 10 Melita Waligora. “What Is Your Caste? The Classification of Indian Society as Part of the British Civilizing Mission.” Colonialism as Civilizing Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India. Harold Fischer-Tiné and Michael Mann. Eds. (London: Wimbledon Publishing Company, 2004) 143. 11 Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India. (1983; New Delhi: Oxford U P [henceforth, Oxford U P], 1994) 7. 12 Guha 7.

Theoretical Preliminaries


their rayat’s land, was an attempt to implant class relationship on the earlier caste relationship. Patil further states that this imposition could not change the jƗtƯ relationship into class relationship. Gail Omvedt has also argued that colonialism aimed at restructuring local production processes to facilitate accumulation of surplus. The colonial invasion of India only ensured the continuation of the power of the former feudal lords, brahmins and the increased subordination of the village community to the English-educated bureaucracy. In this process, the traditional structures of caste were used, transformed and in some ways even strengthened.13 Karl Marx had hoped that the British rule would have a deep impact on the Asiatic mode of production, which was characterised by a “subsistence economy” of self-sufficient village communities. In his famous article, “The Future Results of the British Rule in India” (1853), Marx referred to the double mission in India: destructive, the other regenerating–the annihilation of old Asiatic society, and the laying of the material foundations of Western society in Asia.14

However, the situation in India was much more complex than Marx and Frederick Engels had imagined. As Bharat Patankar and Gail Omvedt point out, the recruitment of the proletarian class in new factories, plantations and mines was more structured and caste feudalism dictated “which groups could have access to certain jobs or which would be willing to take the most arduous employment.”15 The colonial contact resulted in the formation of a new class order; however, this new order was certainly influenced by the earlier caste order. The working class was stratified along caste lines. The most exploited and lowest paid labour required for the factories, plantation, the railways, etc. was provided by the lowest ranks of the caste order, the dalits and the ƗdivƗsƯs. The educated élites were exclusively the upper castes.

13 Gail Omvedt, Dalits and the Democratic Revolution: Dr. Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in Colonial India (1994, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2005) 80-8. 14 Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, The First Indian War of Independence 18571859, (1959; Moscow: Progress Publications, 1978) 29. 15 Bharat Patankar and Gail Omvedt, The Dalit Liberation Movement in Colonial Period (New Delhi: Critical Quest, 2004) 10.


Chapter One

Nevertheless, the British attempted to legislate against some of the vilest practices like sati and untouchability and grant equal access to law, irrespective of caste. However, the colonial policy of non-interference in “social and religious customs” helped the upper castes, particularly the brahmins, to continue their dominance on religion and culture. For example, the exclusion of the low castes from temples and the traditional rights of conservative caste elders to discipline rebellious upper-caste “reformers” were generally upheld by the courts on the ground that these were private religious matters.16 Dumont also has noted that the British Government, by “not meddling in the domain of religion and the traditional social order, while introducing the minimum of reforms and novelties on the politico-economic place”, significantly reduced the extent of change and conflict under colonial rule.17 There is a general consensus among scholars on the fact that “the colonial system generates new classes.” However, there are disagreements on some crucial issues involved in the complexities created in the traditional feudal societies by the introduction of the relatively advanced capitalist mode of production. The issues are: a) Did colonialism replace the earlier feudal structure with new classes? b) Did the earlier mode of production, i.e., caste, continue to prevail? c) What kind of relationship did exist between the new colonial ruling class and the traditional structures of caste and class? I. P. Desai has argued that the ascriptive caste or Indian feudal relations of production in the caste-class social set-up have already given way to contractual class or capitalist relations of production. This means that India society is predominantly a class capitalist society. According to him, unlike in the caste system characterised by “jajmani”, in which a person had no “free will” to give up his caste occupation, a person in the new capitalist system has the choice to give up his profession. Even if he continues to be in the same profession, his relationship with the employer is based on class rather than caste.18 16

Patankar et al. 9. Nicholas B. Dirks. “Castes of Mind.” Representations No. 37, 1992, 57. 18 I. P. Desai writes: However, it can be asked how far it is right in assuming that some occupations in preindustrial conditions are the same individuals of the same caste.... though the occupational activity remains the same the person 17

Theoretical Preliminaries


Indian Marxists, in order to legitimise the applicability of Marxian class-methodology to Indian society, consider the relations of production more important than the inevitability of various castes that are tied to their own traditional professions. The introduction of the bourgeois production relations in the traditional caste system has failed to destroy caste. This enforced inability to accept the profession other than their caste-profession explodes the myth concerning the right to exercise “free will”. Gita Ramaswamy has shown how, in the process of urbanisation, scavenging has entrenched itself into the life of a community over the last two hundred years.19 Another important issue is the relationship of the modern class categories to the traditional categories like “caste” or “tribe” or race. Caste was the prime basis of social organisation in pre-colonial India. The introduction of the new capitalist economy in the garb of colonialism into the traditional and hitherto unchanged caste system brought in certain changes in the caste-based occupations. However, colonialism was not intended to replace the old hierarchical structure with the new bourgeois economy. Instead, it contrived to employ the earlier structure to assist and aggregate the process of exploitation. Kumari Jayawardena has established that colonial powers deftly made use of traditional caste distinctions for administrative purposes, although they did not publicly approve of caste system. Further, caste hierarchies determined official appointments. This raises important questions: ….does capitalism, as commonly believed, cut across ‘primordial’ identities and create new pluralist classes that act in their class interests leading to a decline of earlier ties and loyalties? Or does capitalism lead to the recasting and restructuring not only of these caste identities, but also of ethnic and religious identities which coexist with class? 20

The colonialists had understood the utility of the upper castes in establishing their rule. The Moghal Empire had not succeeded in dismantling the cultural dominance of the upper castes in Indian society. In Western India, Elphinstone was one of the early administrators to

engaged in the activity is a new person. He is a barber by occupation not by caste. —Patil 2733. 19 Ramaswami 7. 20 Kumari Jayawardena, Nobodies to Somebodies: The Rise of the Colonial Bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka (2000; New Delhi: Leftword, 2001) 161.


Chapter One

understand the potential use of the upper castes in the perpetuation of the colonial rule and framed his policies accordingly. The British had realised early that they could not stabilise their rule without practising the measures of conciliation. Thus, for instance, the Governor of Bombay had issued his instruction in 1781 to the newly appointed Resident at Kalyan: You are to conciliate, by every proper means, the minds of the inhabitants to the English Government and to take special care that they are not in any degree injured.21

The élites of the old régime were bound to react ambivalently to the new order. The upper castes were very quick to adapt themselves to new conditions and exhibited great enthusiasm to avail themselves of the advantages of the colonial rule. A section of the Pune-based brahmins frankly communicated to the Collector of Pune as early as April 1818 that their support to Bajirao II did not mean that they had any aversion for the British. The brahmins in Pune had started negotiating with the British even before the fall of the Peshwa rule.22 After the fall of the Peshwa rule, a section of the society in Pune was strongly against the British. However, as soon as this section realised that Bajirao II was most unlikely to come back, they began to show their willingness to collaborate with the new government: “some of the most respectable members of the community visited [the British] in the day time instead of as formerly during the night.”23 The colonialists were looking for the indigenous allies, which would function as a mediating class between themselves and their Indian subjects. The classes that the British considered to be influential were: 1st. – The land-owners and jaghirdars, the representatives of the former feudatories and persons in authority under Native powers, and who may be termed the Soldier class. 2nd. – Those who have acquired wealth in trade or commerce, or the commercial class. 21 Arun Joshi. Renaissance in Western India: Lokhitwadi (1823-1892) Part- I. Diss. U of Bombay, Bombay. 1976. 4. 22 H. V. Mote, Ed. ViĞrabdha ĝƗrdƗ Vol.-I 1817-1947. (Mumbai: H. V. Mote, 1972) 2-4; D. V. Apte and R. V. Oturkar, MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬rƗcƗ Patrarup ItihƗs (Pune: V. G. Ketkar, 1941). 23 Kenneth Ballhatchet, Social Policy and Social Change in Western India 1817-1830 (1957; London: Oxford U P, 1961) 13.

Theoretical Preliminaries


3rd. – The higher employees of Government. 4th. – Brahmins, with whom may be associated, though at long interval, those of the higher caste of writers who live by the pen, such as Parbhus and Shenvis in Bombay, Kayasts in Bengal, provided they acquire a position either in learning or station.24

The superior position of the brahmins in the Indian society and their hold on the rest of the castes seemed useful in establishing colonial domination. The British cleverly exploited the upper caste brahmins’ yearning for power.25 Eugine F. Irschick states: the Brahmins were employed by the British in the subordinate positions, because they had lost their commanding influence and a certain discontent and longing for a return to power naturally remained.26

G. Aloysius has established that the interaction between the British and Indian cultures was not monolithic in form on either side.27 The interaction was deeply uneven in many ways. The colonial policy in India was influenced by the motives and interests of the indigenous, dominant castes, which were to function as the indigenous class of quasi-rulers. For example, the different forms of land settlement—zamindƗri, ryotvƗri and mahƗlvƗri—were dictated by the local realities of land control and power relations rather than by any ideological considerations.28 24 Report of the Board of Education from Jan 1, 1850 to April 30 1851. Vol.-IX (Bombay: Bombay Education Society’s Press, 1851) 10. 25 Sumathi Ramaswamy has discussed the case of Tamil brahmins under colonialism: While Brahmans all across India generally prospered under colonial rule, Tamil speaking Brahmans had especially reaped rich rewards. Barely 3 per cent of the population, they disproportionately dominated the bureaucracy start in English and university education. —Sumathi Ramaswamy, Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1070 (Berkeley: U of California Press, 1997) 27. 26 Engine F. Irschick quoted in Kashinath Karlekar, Non-Brahmin Movement in Southern India: 1873-1949 (Kolhapur: Shivaji U P, 1979) 23. 27 Aloysius writes: ...on the side of the British, there were several streams of influence–not always acting in unison–the official, the missionary and the civilian; the Indian side, multi-cellular and hierarchical, and responded differentially to the different aspects of external influence. —G. Aloysius, Nationalism without a Nation in India (1997; New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2005) 33. 28 Aloysius 20-51.


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While commenting on the collusive role that the indigenous élites played in India in the construction of a dominant ideology and colonial rule, Braj Ranjan Mani points out that new scholarship, which has developed under Edward Said’s influence, treats Orientalism as a Western construct only. He has argued that the Saidean hard-hitting critique may be true in the case of the Islamic world, where Orientalism had become confrontationist: But in case of India, Orientalism was seductive and collaborative as it took the form of Indo-Europeanism. In the Indian context Said’s reading of Orientalism grossly overlooks the collusive role played by the native privileged groups. His theory does not take into account the complicity and culpability of native notables in India who played a crucial role in the making of the Oriental stereotype of Indian culture and civilisation.29

The colonial rule was a joint endeavour of the British and the Indian rulers. Sumit Sarkar has also correctly pointed out that colonial knowledge was not just a Western superimposition. Such an interpretation, he argues, gravely underestimates the extent and significance of the inputs from relatively privileged Indian groups with autonomous interests and inclinations.30 In Western India, Elphinstone had to devise a policy of containment for the upper castes, lest they feel that they were neglected in the new régime. He showed perceptive pragmatism in his decision of reinstating the Maratha King of Satara and continuing the traditional privileges of the brahmins after the Peshwa in Pune was dethroned. This differentiated policy was aimed at satiating the maratha and the brahmin élites in Satara and Pune respectively. Elphinstone announced the Proclamation of Satara and assured the upper castes that the new régime would not interfere with the social order or the tenets of any religious sect. It was declared that all “watun”, “enam” lands, established pensions, and annual allowances should be continued.31 He had liberally distributed largesse among the brahmins at Nasik, Wai, Satara, Pune immediately after the fall of the Peshwa régime. The fall of the Peshwa rule was not followed by any kind of rebellion in Pune. Instead, the upper castes quickly recognised their importance as 29 Braj Ranjan Mani, Debrahmanising History: Dominance and Resistance in Indian Society (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2005) 195. 30 Sarkar quoted in Mani 195-6. 31 R. S. Walimbe, YekonƗvisƗvyƗ ĝatakƗtƯl MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬racƯ SƗmƗjik Punargha‫ܒ‬anƗ (Pune: R. S. Walimbe, 1962) 84.

Theoretical Preliminaries


co-rulers of the British and began to respond to the colonial policies favourably and positively. Particularly, the citpƗvans, who had occupied feudatory positions during the Peshwa rule, made tremendous efforts to regain their lost ascendancy. They swarmed in every government office and occupied important positions as they had done under the Peshwa rule. Many of them showed an overwhelming and unquestioning loyalty to the British Raj. A complex interface of caste (indigenous ruling groups) and class (colonial bourgeoisie) was so deeply penetrated that a queer antagonism developed between the indigenous exploited masses, predominantly coming from lower rungs of caste structure and the newly formed cluster of indigenous and colonial élites. The lower castes, which were doubly oppressed by caste and colonialism, began to give vent to their classhatred through violent acts and insurgencies. Ranajit Guha has established that the Kol insurrection of 1832 in Chota Nagpur was primarily against the suds, which ultimately turned out to be a war against the Company’s government itself.32 SarkƗr, sƗhukƗr and zamindƗr were the first to bear the initial brunt of the peasant revolt in any particular instance. This shows that colonialism had penetrated deep into the Indian society and the subaltern masses were keenly aware of its deep contradictions. However, the new cluster of a ruling group, consisting of the upper castes and the colonial ruling class, was bound to influence the educational and language policy in the nineteenth century.

Caste as a Colonial Construct Caste, which has been the very fundamental issue of and central symbol for India, remained outside the discourse on colonialism and Orientalism for long. The interrelationship between caste and colonialism and its repercussion in the cultural realm have been a poorly attended area. One of the important reasons for the conspicuous absence of caste in the postcolonial discourse is that the postcolonial scholars consider the Oriental societies quasi-homogeneous. Edward Said hardly refers to caste in Orientalism. Many postcolonial scholars believe that colonialism did not affect the colonised disproportionately and it was not collusive with the indigenous structures in the colonies. Recent scholarship on postcolonialism shows that the institution of caste, as we know it today, is largely a modern and specifically colonial invention. Arjun Appadurai and David Ludden have pointed out how the 32

Guha 26.


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fluid pre-colonial boundaries of caste and community were fixed and made rigid in certain ways during the colonial period.33 They argue that the colonial state employed diverse strategies like the census, enumeration, classification, codification and documentation to reinvent and substantiate caste. In Satish Deshpande’s words, The colonial power ‘essentialised’ caste - thought of it as an essence that defined Indians and Indian culture - and it set out to measure and document this essence. These efforts at measurement brought into existence precisely that which was sought to be measured. From being a fluid, contextdependent variable, caste turned into a fixed, immutable essence. The nexus between colonial power and colonialist forms of knowledge (like anthropology) thus constructed the very version of caste that colonialism needed to cement its own world view.34

Nicholas Dirks’s Castes of Mind is a seminal work in this regard. He argues that caste, as we know it today, is relatively a modern phenomenon and a product of the encounter between India and the colonial rule: It is increasingly clear that colonialism in India produced new forms of society that have been taken to be traditional, and that caste itself as we now know it is not a residual survival of ancient India but a specifically colonial form of civil society. As such it justifies and maintains the colonial vision of an India where religion transcends politics, society resists change, and the state awaits its virgin birth in the postcolonial era.35

Dirks disregards the fact that caste had been a very material system of production in pre-colonial India. Numerous scholarly attempts have been made to prove that castes were the building blocks of social structure in the pre-colonial Indian subcontinent. What colonialism did was not to invent caste but, by collaborating with the upper sections of the Indian society, it conveniently used the pre-colonial caste structure by means of negotiation. Sudipta Kaviraj has best summarised the composition of the Indian social structure as characterised by “late, backward, post-colonial 33

Arjun Appadurai. “Number in the Colonial Imagination.” and David Ludden. “Orientalist Empericism: Transformations of Colonial Knowledge.” Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer. Eds. (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1994) 314-39 and 250-78 respectively. 34 Satish Deshpande. “Caste Inequality in India Today.” The OBCs and the Ruling Classes in India. H. S. Verma. Ed. (Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 2005) 272. 35 Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, (2002; Delhi: Permanent Black, 2006) 59.

Theoretical Preliminaries


capitalism”, which functionally uses various enclaves of pre-capitalist productive forms. This, according to Kaviraj, is contrary to the traditional linear belief that pre-capitalist social structure is in general dysfunctional to capitalist growth and would be liquidated historically.36 Similarly, unlike Said’s proposition, Peter van der Veer has pointed out that Orientalism did not create out of the blue a reality in which the oriental had to live. Orientalism fed on an existing dominant discourse carried out by the brahminical élite. Peter van der Veer further argues that groups of brahmins all over India have, for a very long period, had a major role in Hinduism as intermediaries between the supernatural and the world that is based on their monopoly of certain ritual discourses.37 Postcolonial theorists have attributed to colonialism “every possible sin” that has continued to haunt postcolonial India. The “renascent Rajput consciousness of urban male”, the revitalised caste-conflict on the Mandal Commission and the communal tension that erupted after the demolition of the BƗbari Mosque are seen as the “obscure” doings of colonialism. It cannot be denied that colonialism had a role in perpetuating caste by implementing certain conciliatory and exclusivist policies. However, in Mahesh Gavaskar’s words, the argument aimed to emphasise the colonial authorities ascribing rigidity to caste identities, while overlooking the denial of basic civil rights in pre-colonial times on the basis of those very identities, is lopsided.38

Arguing along the similar line, Dipankar Gupta also views that though it is true that identities, including caste identities, change over time, it would be incorrect to go to the extreme of asserting that caste itself is a colonial creation.39 This colonial-origin-thesis of caste also proves futile in the wake of increasing caste conflict, caste atrocities and the opposition to caste reservation in postcolonial India where castewise census was abandoned long before independence. Another danger in the colonialorigin-thesis is the veneration of everything that was pre-colonial, which, 36

Sudipta Kaviraj. “A Critique of the Passive Revolution.” State and Politics in India. Partha Chatterjee. Ed. (New Delhi: Oxford U P 1997) 41. 37 Peter van der Veer, “The Foreign Hand: Orientalist Discourse in Sociology and Communalism,” in Breckenridge et al. 26. 38 Mahesh Gavaskar. “Colonialism within Colonialism: Phule’s Critique of Brahmin Power.” Dalits in Modern India: Vision and Values. S. M. Michael. Ed. (New Delhi: Vistar Publications, 1999) 83. 39 Dipankar Gupta. “Introduction: The certitudes of caste: When identity trumps hierarchy.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 38.1 & 2 (2004): vii.


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in turn, falls back upon the nationalist lines and can potentially strengthen the present-day nationalism. Finally, knowing that caste is constructed rather than primordial does not help much in understanding its deeper strategies and connotations that are historically rooted.

Marx on Colonialism and the Postcolonial Predicament According to one estimate, more than three quarters of the people living in the world today have had their lives shaped by the experience of colonialism. According to Edward Said, from 185 to 1914 European direct colonial dominion expanded from 35 percent of the earth’s surface to about 85 percent of it.40 Ania Loomba precisely states that by the 1930s, colonies and ex-colonies covered 84.6 per cent of the land surface of the globe.41 Until recently, the study of colonialism was confined to its consequences in the political and economic spheres. However, after the rise of postcolonialism, many scholars have begun to assume that the sociopolitical scenario in the postcolonial societies continued to have considerable influence of the colonial period. The study of colonialism becomes essential, as colonialism has continued to influence the choices, methods and strategies of development followed in the postcolonial societies. The contemporary issues of various types need to be understood “only with reference to colonialism as the constant historical backdrop.” Bipan Chandra persuasively writes that development strategies and policies are crucially determined by the historical roots and causes of backwardness, the inherited pattern of development, and the consequent obstacles to development. Colonialism needs to be studied as a distinct phase in the human history and a distinct social structure.42 Was colonialism achieving a clear demarcation from the earlier feudal structures in the colonies or was it maintaining status quo? In other words, was it achieving a metamorphosis by converting the pre-capitalist societies into capitalist societies or was it retaining old modes of production, without altering much of the prevailing structure? These are some of the questions being debated today. Marx treated colonialism as a painful and exploitative but necessary phase in the development of the colonies. Colonialism had become an 40

Edward W. Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978; Middlesex: Penguin books, 1995) 41. 41 Ania Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism (1998; London: Routledge, 1999) 19. 42 Bipan Chandra, Essays on Colonialism (New Delhi: Orient Longman Ltd. 1999) v.

Theoretical Preliminaries


integral part of imperialism and in its early phase it had to, according to Marx, fuel European capitalism. He regarded colonialism as a brutal condition for liberating the colonies from the hold of feudalism. Colonialism does not simply preserve the pre-colonial social structure. Colonial rule could not have existed without altering and remodelling the feudal structures of the colonies in the new capitalist mould. However, it is a truism that colonialism did not achieve total transformation in the colony. It tried to make use of the traditional structures of hierarchy by implementing differentiated policies for the subjects. The colonialists looked upon the traditional dominant groups in the colonies as their allies. They were quite aware that it was not possible to appropriate the manifold resources of India without ensuring the involvement of the upper castes. The early phase of colonial period has remained, perhaps, the most significant period in the development of the colonies. It has attracted the attention of a lot of scholars from a wide range of disciplines from linguistics to cultural anthropology. However, it received a boost from Edward Said’s groundbreaking book—Orientalism. Until the publication of Orientalism, colonialism was seen as essentially a system of economic exploitation through the forceful domination of one country over the other. However, contemporary thinkers do not disregard the cultural-ideological aspects and consequences of colonialism. They believe that colonialism involved multiple discursive cultural practices and employed diverse strategies of accommodation and manipulation. By the time Marx started his political career, colonialism had brought under its sway a major portion of the world. Himself a product of the liberal, anti-colonial milieu of the mid-nineteenth century, Marx was one of the early commentators on colonialism. While dealing with Ireland under British dominion, he and Engels were the first to see the impact of colonialism on the colonised. He emphasised the capitalist nature of colonialism in creating conditions of underdevelopment and making the Irish economy dependent on the British. He was perhaps unique among the European social scientists, who perceived in the imperialist trade and plunder the primary source of “primitive accumulation” that enabled capitalist development to begin.43 Colonialism helped capitalist societies to have a violent contact with the pre-capitalist societies. Marx saw colonialism as a reproductive 43

Gail Omvedt, Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non Brahman Movement in Western India: 1873 to 1930 (Bombay: Scientific Socialist Education Trust, 1976) 16.


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requirement of the European or American industrial economies in the early phase of industrialisation. He wrote: The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilization lies unveiled before our eyes, turning, from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked.44

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels discuss the significant role colonialism played in the development of modern capitalism: The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.45

According to Robert C. Young, Marx and Engels saw European global expansion as both the cause and effect of the development of capitalism. For them, colonial trade operated as part of the same general conditions for capitalism at home, namely, the need for markets, for raw materials, and for investment. Marx held that it was through colonialism that the bourgeoisie accumulated the initial surplus that enabled revolutionisation of the capital. While in crisis, any production system revolutionises itself in order to sustain the crisis. Marx argued that it was through colonialism that the European bourgeoisie was achieving a cataclysmic movement, “a disruptive upheaval throughout the world that bursts old feudal relations asunder and turns traditional stasis into a process of transformation.”46 Marx and Engels wrote: The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society....Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and 44 Robert C. Young, Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2001). 45 Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels. Communist Manifesto: Socialist Landmark. Harold J. Laski. Ed. (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1954) 121. 46 Young 102.

Theoretical Preliminaries


venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify….The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, [and] establish connections everywhere.47

Marx’s writing on colonialism and its relation to capitalism exhibits his ambivalent position as he saw a dichotomy in the role played by colonialism in India. He saw colonialism as a precondition for the historical transformation of Indian society from feudalism to capitalism. On the other hand, he also demonstrated that the colonial plunder in India fuelled the rise and growth of capitalism and the ruling oligarchy in Britain. In his view, colonialism operated through colonial expansion to accumulate primitive capital to revolutionise the whole economic and social system on a global scale.48 Marx’s writing on colonialism with respect to India has been “notoriously problematic”. His views on colonialism were badly attacked by Edward Said, who condemned Marx for being Eurocentric and seeing the destruction of the pre-capitalist Asian societies as progressive and tragically necessary for the development of capitalism.49 Said points out: In article after article he [Karl Marx] returned with increasing conviction to the idea that even in destroying Asia, Britain was making possible there a real social revolution. Marx’s style pushes us right up against the difficulty of reconciling our natural repugnance as fellow creatures to the sufferings of Orientals while their society is being violently transformed with the historical necessity of these transformations.50

Marx further assumed that the colonial rule was causing great revolution in India by dissolving the “stereotype forms of social organism” and “semi-barbarian, semi-civilised, communities, by blowing up their economical basis”.51 Just as Hegel had said that Africa had no history, in the article entitled The Future Results of the British Rule in India, Marx went to the extent of saying that “Indian society has no history at all, at least no known history.” He made a distinction between England, which 47

Marx et al. Communist Manifesto: Socialist Landmark 123-4. Young 102. 49 Pranav Jani. “Karl Marx, Eurocentrism, and the 1857 Revolt in British India.” Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial Studies. Crystal Bartolovian. Ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 2002) 82. 50 Said 153. 51 Marx and Engels The First Indian War 17. 48


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had to cause revolution in India, and the other great players of colonialism like the Turks and the Persians: The question, therefore, is not whether England had a right to conquer India but whether we are to prefer India conquered by the Turk, by the Persian, by the Russian, to India conquered by the Briton.52

Marx hoped that the colonialists would achieve revolutionary change in India by means of irrigation, internal communication and railroads. He saw colonialism as a necessary step for the Asian countries to move towards capitalism. Aijaz Ahmad has intervened in this debate and efficiently defended the anticolonial stance of Marx in the India articles.53 He pointed out the errors and theoretical weaknesses in them. Attributing these errors to the undeveloped nature of colonialism and the lack of information about the Asian societies, he points out that the opinions expressed in the journalistic writings of Marx need to be read alongside the more serious views about colonial exploitation expressed in Das Capital. He has refuted the Saidean charge that Marx’s “human sympathy dissolves” in “the Romantic Orientalist vision.” He has cited the following quotation from Marx in support of his position: I share not the opinion of those who believe in a golden age of Hindustan, without recurring, however, Sir Charles Wood, for the confirmation of my view, to the authority of Kuli Khan. But take, for example, the times of Aurungzeb; or the epoch, when the Mogul appeared in the North, and the Portuguese in the South; of the age of Mohammedan invasion, and of the Heptarchy in Southern India; or, if you will, go still more back to antiquity, take the mythological chronology of the Brahmin himself who places the commencement of Indian misery in an epoch even more remote than the Christian creation of the world. 54

Pranav Jani has also defended Marx’s anti-colonial position in a convincing manner.55 Jani and Ahmad have argued that Said and other critics of Marx have cited Marx selectively and conveniently. Jani has demonstrated the dichotomy in Marx’s opinions in the New York Daily


Marx and Engels The First Indian War 29. (Emphasis added.) Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes Nations Literatures (New Delhi: Oxford U P 1999) 221-42. 54 Marx and Engels The First Indian War 14. 55 Jani 81-97. 53

Theoretical Preliminaries


Tribune article56 and his personal correspondence with Fredrick Engels in which he described the colonizers as “swinish.”57 In his view, Marx has developed a widespread critique of British hypocrisy, Indian victimization and the political immaturity of the Revolt all at the same time. It would be inordinate to brand Marx as a total racist for his attempt to valorise colonialism. Indeed, he argued that colonialism was essential for ushering in capitalism in India. Part of his writing on India appears fanciful and unacceptable as his understanding of the East was conditioned by the colonial epistemology. Ahmad has pointed out that Marx had not studied “the whole complexity of the colonial enterprise” while drafting The Communist Manifesto.58 Marx had to depend upon the nineteenth century European epistemology, which was deeply biased towards the non-European societies. Moreover, no systematic study of colonialism was available to him then. Ahmad has shown how Marx and Engels started paying much greater attention to the actual events of colonial history as it unfolded over the next three or four decades and the older Marx had begun to get disillusioned with the “progressive” results that he had expected of colonialism earlier in his youth.59 Marx glorified the positive role of colonialism not because he cherished the idea of vindicating the exploitative role of colonialism, but because he saw in colonialism and its exploitative, but necessary, mechanism a possibility of breaking down the archaic “barbarian” systems of “Oriental despotism.” In Robert Young’s view, colonialism, for Marx, was fiercely dialectical: both a ruthless system of economic exploitation and a significant positive move towards a Utopian future.60 Colonialism has been a continuous process in human history. Marxist thinking makes a distinction between the pre-colonial capitalist rule and the new colonialism with the development of West European capitalism. 56

Marx and Engels wrote: England, it is true, in causing a social revolution in Hindustan, was actuated only by the vilest interests, and was stupid in her manner of enforcing them. But that is not the question. The question is, can mankind fulfil its destiny without a fundamental revolution in the social state of Asia? If not, whatever may have been the crimes of England she was the unconscious tool of history in bringing about that revolution. —Marx and Engels The First Indian War 18. 57 Jani 83. 58 Aijaz Ahmad. “The Communist Manifesto: In its Own Time, and in Ours.” A World to Win. Prakash Karat. Ed. (1999; New Delhi: Leftword, 2001) 40. 59 Ahmad 40. 60 Young 109.


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The object of pre-capitalist colonialism was direct extraction of surplus from the subjugated and its essential mechanisms were coercive. Finally, though Marx seemed to qualify some of the racist notions of European capitalism as “modernisation” and “civilisational” mission, he could suggest the inevitability of the colonial intervention in breaking up the stagnating, feudal social structures to pave the way for the bourgeois revolution. However, in the later part of his life, he also admitted that colonialism had no such revolution to usher in in the East.

Jotirao Phule on Colonialism Jotirao Phule (1827-90) presupposed Antonio Gramsci’s (1891-1937) notion of hegemony nearly a century in advance. Phule had understood that the upper-castes in India had established their dominance, using both coercion and consent. More than force, he thought, the upper castes used the ideological weapon more subtly in order to indoctrinate the lower castes and, thus, achieve their enslavement. Therefore, his programme for emancipation encompassed both the kinds of struggle—political-economic and cultural-ideological. Phule was located in a phase in which the colonialists had replaced the tyrannical Peshwa régime. The British had promised some kind reformism, the rule of law and stability of rule in order to pacify their unsettled subjects. Though colonialism was an outcome of capitalism, the latter was not bound to follow the norms of a civil society in its colonies like India. Phule located himself in the space of a civil society to develop a critique of brahminical colonialism, which apparently was devoid of the notion of a civil society.61 His historic diplomacy lay in locating his discursive space in the colonial situation for the liberation of the lower castes from the bondage of caste, which was “internal colonialism”. He astutely understood the possibility of such a war in the colonial situation. He was quite aware of the limitation of colonial liberalism of the nineteenth century India. His allegedly pro-British stance62 was, in fact, a very pragmatic move to impel the British to stand to what they promised, i.e. the much-avowed role of colonialism in liberating the colonies from their pre-colonial modes of exploitation and march them to a new bourgeois mode of development.


Mahesh Gavaskar in Michael 84. Ashok Chousalkar, MahƗtmƗ Phule Ɩni ĝetkarƯ Chaۜvaۜ (Mumbai: Lokvangmaya Grih, 1990) 40. 62

Theoretical Preliminaries


His few laudatory references to the British rule are also interspersed with severe criticisms of colonialism. He provided in his writings a trenchant critique of colonialism as a system of exploitation. Like Marx, he was quite aware of the regenerative and degenerative roles of colonialism. As he was conscious of the economic consequences of the colonial rule, he was equally alive to the fact that the upper castes were the largest beneficiaries of the new régime. Acutely conscious of the collusive and conniving relationship between internal colonialism, i.e. caste, and external colonialism, i.e. the British, he made a virulent attack on the British for succumbing to the upper caste desires. He criticised the British for viewing the Indian situation through the eyes of the treacherous brahmins and for adopting their anti-poor and prorich policies. He believed that feudalism and capitalism in India were fused into a caste-class mode of brahminism. He argued that brahaminism and colonialism fed on and fattened each other and that without fighting brahminism, the so-called anti-imperialist nationalism would only strengthen the oppressive forces in Indian society.63 Conforming to Frantz Fanon’s notion of intellectual as the “common opportunist”64, Phule describes how the upper-caste intelligentsia cunningly took advantage of the British Rule. In order to reap all the fruits of the British rule, it created a rift between the British and the illiterate ĞudrƗs, exploited every opportunity to prejudice the ĞudrƗs against the government. One of the objectives of writing Slavery was to “open the eyes of Government” and advise the British to keep the brahmin at bay: The Government should stop all grants to the Education Department as they do not serve any useful purpose and divert them instead to the collectorate and compel each European collector, unlike George Jervis, to impartially select intelligent students from all castes, open schools for them near the collector’s bunglow, provide them with simple food and clothing....65

His interpretation of hegemony was different from that of Gramsci in one important way. Gramsci’s notion of hegemony is largely based on the 63

Mani 289. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1963; Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1974) 38. 65 Jotirao Phule. Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule. G. P. Deshpande. Ed. (New Delhi: Leftword Books, 2002) 81. 64


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study of European society and Phule pointed out that the pre-modern state in India used conciliatory measures through cultural-ideological maneuvering in order to maintain caste system. His interpretation of the exploitative nature of caste system and its continued existence in the colonial era helps us understand the cultural connotations of the prolonged existence of caste in contemporary India.

Antonio Gramsci on Hegemony In Marxism, the structure of human society is considered to be consisting of a “base” and a corresponding “superstructure”. The base is the totality of social relations of production into which individuals enter through their direct/indirect participation or non-participation in the production of social existence. Corresponding to the structure of production relations, i.e. base, there arises a “superstructure” which articulates the interests and struggles of social classes in various spheres of life, viz. politics, literature, law, art, philosophy, linguistics, etc.66 In this building-like metaphor of base and superstructure, used by Marx and Engels, the former is the economic structure of society and the latter consists of the state and social consciousness. Marx had said in the preface of A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy that for understanding the nature of human endeavour in history, one should find it useful to accord primacy to the economic base, a change in which alone assures radical transformation. Antonio Gramsci questioned the predominance of the base over the superstructure and the relegation of the superstructure to the level of mere consciousness and dependent entity. He questioned the primacy of the economic over the ideological as he was trying to understand the failure of the revolution in Western Europe, despite the economic conditions being ripe for the same.67 Without disregarding the role of the economic base completely but also rejecting economic reductionism of many of the Marxists of his time, he wanted to illustrate the complex nature of power that the ruling class achieves. He writes: ...the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways as “domination” and as “intellectual and moral leadership”. A social group dominates antagonistic groups which it tends to “liquidate”, or to subjugate perhaps even by armed force; it leads kindered and allied groups. A social 66

B. R. Bapuji, Society, State and Education: Essays in the Political Sociology of Language Education, (Madras: T. R. Publications, 1993) 22. 67 Loomba 28.

Theoretical Preliminaries


group can, and indeed must already exercise “leadership” before winning governmental power (and indeed is one of the principal conditions for the winning of such power); it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its group, it must continue to lead as well.68

Here, Gramsci discusses the relationship between direction and dominance. Anne Sassoon has commented on this relationship. According to her, these two concepts suggest three things. First, dominance is exerted over the enemy and direction over the allies. The first group asserts its direction over the second group. The latter group can be considered an ally rather than an enemy. Secondly, direction is a precondition for the conquest of the state apparatus in the narrow sense of government power. And thirdly, once state power has been achieved, the two aspects of the supremacy of a class, both direction and dominance, are continued. In order to understand the functioning of the ruling class, Gramsci formulated the concept of “hegemony”. Hegemony is power achieved through a combination of coercion and consent. Playing upon Machiavelli’s suggestion that power can be achieved through both force and fraud, he argued that the ruling classes achieve domination not by force or coercion alone, but also by creating subjects who “willingly” accept the rule.69 These two forms of political control refer to domination and hegemony, which mean direct physical coercion by police and armed forces and ideological control and consent. Any kind of régime, regardless of how authoritarian it might be, can sustain through organised state power and armed forces. However, gaining consent by the exploited to its rule is more convenient to any régime than using force. In the long run, popular support and legitimacy to the rule prove to be more useful in order to maintain stability. The traditional Marxist theory of power was based on force and coercion and Lenin had reinforced the same after the Russian Revolution in 1917. Gramsci made a distinction between the pre-industrial society like Russia and the industrialised Western Europe. The advanced capitalist state in the latter has developed the subtle but pervasive forms of


Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci: Prison Notebooks. Trans. Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. (1971, Hyderabad: Orient Longman Limited, 1996) 57-8; Walter L. Adamson, Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Gramsci’s Political and Cultural Theory. (London: U of California Press, 1980). 69 Loomba 29.


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ideological control and manipulation that serve to perpetuate all repressive structures.70 According to Gramsci, the ruling class maintains its power through both force and consent. His dual perspective of power is: ...two fundamental levels, corresponding to the dual nature of Machiavelli’s centaur-half animal and half human. They are the levels of force and of consent, authority and hegemony, violence and civilization, and of individual moment and of the universal moment (‘church’) and state of agitation and of propaganda, of tactics and of strategy, etc.71

Gramsci’s notion of hegemony is particularly useful in understanding cultural politics in India as the élites in India have been using language and pedagogy to maintain their dominance.

Louis Althusser on Ideology Louis Althusser’s essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” makes an important theoretical statement about the function of ideology. He has explored the dialectical relationship between materialism and ideology. He wonders how the vast majority of people are persuaded to act against their own best interests even when they have to work long hours at laborious tasks and live in poverty, while a very small number of people make enormous amounts of money from their labour and enjoyed lives of luxury. In order to explain why the impoverished majority did not just refuse to work in this system and overthrow the rich minority, he reasoned that the poor had “been persuaded that this state of affairs was “natural”, and nothing could be done to change it.” The essay has opened up certain important and new areas of inquiry such as how the ideology gets produced and evolved through the state apparatuses; how ideologies are internalised, how the individuals make dominant ideas their own and how ideology interpellates individuals as subjects. According to David Hawkes, Althusser’s essay pursues Gramsci’s reference to capitalism’s need to elaborate “a new type of man suited to the new type of work and productive process.” The first task of any economic system, according to Althusser, is to reproduce its own


Barry Burke, Antonio Gramsci and Informal Education. Downloaded on 28 August 2006. no. pag. 71 Linda Thomas and Wareing Shan, Language, Society and Power: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1999) 34.

Theoretical Preliminaries


conditions of production. This involves the reproduction of the kind of people who will be able to participate in the process of production.72 Althusser worked upon Gramsci’s suggestion that ideas are transmitted via certain social institutions. He develops Gramsci’s theory of state by formulating the notion of ideological state apparatuses. He distinguishes between two kinds of state apparatus — the repressive and the ideological. He writes: the infrastructure, which itself contains two “levels” or “instances”: the politico-legal (law and the state) and ideology (the different ideologies — religious, ethical, legal, political, etc.).73 The Repressive State Apparatus (RSA) refers to the political, crudely repressive organs of the state such as the police, the army, law courts and the Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) refer to the organs of the state such as family, religion, education, culture, etc. The function of the latter is to ensure that the subjects are ideologically conditioned and they accept the dominant worldview as natural and maintain the status quo. The state, which, according to Althusser, is a repressive machinery, can assume different forms, “visible and invisible, violent-physical and persuasive-psychological.”74 He distinguishes between the RSA (singular) and the ISAs (plural).75 He makes a distinction between the individual and the subject. The latter is made out of the former by ideology.76 Ideology performs this function with the help of interpellation.


David Hawkes, Ideology (1996; London: Routledge, 2003)122. Louis Althusser. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.” Approaches in Literary Theory: Marxism. Anand Prakash. Ed. (Delhi: Worldview, 2002) 5. 74 Prakash 154. 75 Althusser writes: As a first moment, it is clear that while there is one (Repressive) State Apparatus, there is a plurality of Ideological State Apparatuses. Even presupposing that it exists, the unity that constitutes this plurality of ISAs as a body is not immediately visible. As a second moment, it is clear that whereas the–unified–(Repressive) State Apparatuses belongs entirely to the public domain, much the larger part of the Ideological State Apparatus (in their apparent dispersion) are part, on the contrary, of the private domain. —Prakash 172-3. 76 Althusser writes: As a first formulation I shall say: all ideology hails or interpellates concrete individuals as concrete subjects, by the functioning of the category of the subject….I shall then suggest that ideology ‘acts’ or ‘functions’ in such a way that it ‘recruits’ subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all), or ‘transforms’ the individuals into subjects (it 73


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Marx and Vološinov on Language Marx did not formulate a comprehensive theory of language. However, there are fragmentary references to language in his Economical and Philosophical Writings of 1844 and in The German Ideology. Though some critics like Newmeyer have claimed that Marx’s remarks on language are self-contradictory and the subject was of little importance to him, Marnie Holborow has argued that, even from the fragments left by Marx, a coherent view of the nature of language can be formulated.77 Holborow’s argument about Marx’s view on language is discussed below. According to Holborow, Marx’s theory of language needs to be understood in the broader context of consciousness, ideology and superstructure. The question of the origin of language is important in determining the nature of language and its role in society. Marx identified the origins of language with the emergence of consciousness: Language is as old as consciousness, language is practical consciousness that exists for other men, and for that reason alone it really exists for me personally as well; language, like consciousness, only arises from the need, the necessity, of intercourse with other men. Where there exists a relationship, it exists for me: the animal does not enter into “relations” with anything, it does not enter into any relation at all. For the animal its relation to others does not exist as a relation. Consciousness is therefore from the very beginning a social product and remains so as long as men exist at all.78

For Marx, language and consciousness are intertwined because of the social basis of the origins of both. He looks at them historically to see how the specifically human attributes of consciousness and language came into being, and evolved in specific conditions. He wrote in the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859): The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life processes in general. It is not the consciousness of men that

transforms them all) by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace, everyday police (or other) hailing : “Hey you there!” —Prakash 197. 77 Marnie Holborow, The Politics of English: A Marxist View of Language, (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1999) 15. 78 Holborow 16.

Theoretical Preliminaries


determines their social being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.79

Marx thought language and consciousness were linked because both evolved while the human beings were coping with the material world. Valentin N. Vološinov’s Marxism and the Philosophy of Language was the first serious attempt to contribute to Marxist linguistics. Expanding considerably on Marx’s view of language and ideology considerably, he argues that though Marxist thinking about language was virtually non-existent, it succeeded in locating the study of the whole problem of language within a general leftist orientation.80 Vološinov goes on to emphasise the interconnectedness of language and society. Vološinov further argues that meaning is necessarily a social action, dependent on social relationships. He starts his argument by making a theoretical statement about the ideological nature of all signs, including language. He cautions linguists against mere descriptive cataloging of forms and patterns, against mechanistic systematization and, in general, against the temptations of a superficial empiricism, which, he asserts, are very powerful in linguistic science. He complains: The study of the sound aspect of language occupies a disproportionately large place in linguistics, often setting the tone for the field, and in most cases carried on outside any connection with the real essence of language as a meaningful sign.81

He thinks of sign in relation to ideology. He defines sign as that which “represents, depicts, or stands for something lying outside itself”. To him, there is no ideology without signs. This is the essential feature of all signs. For instance, according to Vološinov, hammer and sickle insignia of the (then) Soviet Union and bread and wine in Christianity possess a purely ideological meaning. Sign system exists as part of the material world and not independent of it: A sign does not simply exist as a part of a reality - it reflects and refracts another reality. Therefore, it may distort that reality or be true to it, or may 79

Holborow 17. Vološinov had been associated with M. M. Bakhtin. His Marxism and the Philosophy of Language appeared in two editions, in 1929 and 1930. The book was not translated into English until 1973. 81 V. N. Vološinov. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language. Trans. Ladislav Matekja and I. R. Titunik. (1930; New York and London: Seminar Press Limited, 1973) 2. 80


Chapter One perceive it from a special point of view, and so forth. Every sign is subject to the criteria of ideological evaluation….The domain of ideology coincides with the domain of signs. They equate with one another. Wherever a sign is present, ideology is present, too. Everything ideological possesses semiotic value.82

According to Vološinov, consciousness takes shape through the signing process. He attacks the idealist philosophy of culture and psychologistic cultural studies, which locate ideology in consciousness. He dismisses their view that ideology “is a fact of consciousness; the external body of the sign is merely a coating, merely a technical means for the realization of the inner effect, which is understanding.”83 Idealism and psychologism alike overlook the fact that consciousness itself can arise and become a viable fact only in the material embodiment of signs. A sign needs to be understood only with reference to other signs. Signs emerge only in the process of an interaction between one individual consciousness and another. The individual consciousness, according to him, itself is filled with signs and consciousness becomes consciousness only once it has been filled with ideological (semiotic) content, consequently, only in the process of social interaction. Thus, signs are socially constructed and the individual consciousness is a socialideological fact. Vološinov adds that consciousness cannot be derived directly from nature as has been and is still being done by “naïve mechanistic materialism and contemporary objective psychology”. Instead, consciousness takes shape in the process of social interaction. He argues that “the study of ideology does not depend on psychology to any extent and need not be grounded in it….” it is rather the reverse: “objective psychology must be grounded in the study of ideologies.”84 As every sign is a construct between socially organised persons in the process of their interactions, the forms of signs are conditioned above all by the social organisation of the participants involved and also by the immediate conditions of their interaction. While commenting on the relationship of sign with class, Vološinov writes: Class does not coincide with the sign community, i.e., with the community, which is the totality of users of the same set of signs for ideological communication. Thus various different classes will use one and the same 82

Vološinov 10. Vološinov 11. 84 Vološinov 13. (Emphasis in original.) 83

Theoretical Preliminaries


language. As a result, differently oriented accents intersect in every ideological sign. Sign becomes an arena of the class struggle.85

He sharply distinguishes his view of language from those of the earlier Humboldt; and trends in linguistics—individualistic subjectivism and abstract objectivism. Humboldt had professed an essentially romantic, subjective view of language and considered the basis of language to be the individual creative act of speech. The fundamental outlook on language of the first trend amounts, according to Vološinov, to these four basic principles: 1. Language is activity, unceasing process of creation (energeia) realized in individual speech acts; 2. The laws of language creativity are the laws of individual psychology; 3. Creativity of language is meaningful creativity, analogous to creative art; 4. Language as ready-made product (ergon), as a stable system (lexicon, grammar, phonetics), is, so to speak, the inert crust, the hardened lava of language creativity, of which linguistics makes an abstract construct in the interests of the practical teaching of language as a ready-made instrument.86

Humboldt’s thought exercised an influence on Vossler, the German linguist and Croce, the Italian literary scholar, who took language to be primarily a question of individual style. Another dominant trend in linguistics, which came under Vološinov’s attack, was represented by Ferdinand de Saussure. In Saussure, the social nature of language is expressed as a system (langue)—language as a system of forms—which is at once stable and autonomous and founded in normatively identical forms; its utterances (parole) – the individual speech act. By prioritizing the synchronic dimension (language at a fixed point in time) over the diachronic (language in a historical perspective), he effectively converts language into “an inviolable, incontestable norm which the individual can only accept”. This view robs language of its creative dynamism; it becomes like a “stationery rainbow” arched over living language. Holborow has discussed the two counts on which Vološinov has uncovered the weaknesses of Saussurean linguistics: First, he points to the arbitrariness of a methodology that sets up selfcontained categories of language system (langue) from utterance (parole), 85 86

Vološinov 23. (Emphasis added.) Vološinov 48. (Emphasis in original.)


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and which then casts aside the latter as being too randomly individual to merit scientific study. Language is socially distinctive because each speaker brings his or her social experience to it. The langue/parole distinction artificially breaks up the linguistic whole and fails to capture the interaction of both aspects in the actual practice of language. Secondly, echoing what Marx had noted earlier, Vološinov declares that Saussure’s abstract objectivism has ideological overtones. Abstract objectivism places language on a pedestal removed from its users. It displaces actual speakers, specific situations, the contexts of language relegating these to insignificance outside the perfectly tuned linguistic system. It makes the subjects of language into their objects. On a larger scale, it writes history out of language. History is seen as an intrusive, untidy, irrational force upsetting the logical purity of the language system. Abstract objectivism is thus an historical view of language and one, which Vološinov points out, leads to a focus on dead languages and an “over concern with the cadavers of written languages”.87 Finally, Vološinov’s contribution has been significant in understanding the limitations of the importance of the Saussurean linguistics as well as of sociolinguistics.

Language as Symbolic Power: Pierre Bourdieu’s Contribution Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist and sociolinguist, was a useful complement to Gramsci’s theorisation on culture and civil society. Bourdieu has interrogated certain naïve presuppositions in sociolinguistics. The general assumption in sociolinguistics that language and social life are inextricably linked is very much naïve and tends to be oversimplification and overgeneralisation. There is a tendency to think of the social character of language in a rather abstract way, as if it amounted to little more than the fact that languages, as Saussure once put it, are a collective “treasure” shared by all members of a community. What is missing from such perspectives is an account of the concrete, complicated ways in which linguistic practices and products are caught up in, and moulded by, the forms of power and inequality which are inherent features of societies as they exist.88


Holborow 26-7. Pierre Bourdieu. Language and Symbolic Power. Trans. Ginto Raymond and Matthew Adamson. (1992; Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994) 1-2. 88

Theoretical Preliminaries


One of the merits of Bourdieu’s work is that it avoids to a large extent the shortcomings of some of the sociological and socio-theoretical writings on language. He offered an original sociological perspective on linguistic phenomenon, which has nothing to do with abstract conceptions of life. Opposing himself to formal linguistics and the conventional Saussurean distinction between langue and parole, he demonstrates the production and reception of language as inseparable moments in a unified social process.89 He developed a trenchant critique of formal and structural linguistics, arguing that these disciplinary frameworks take for granted, but fail to grasp, the specific social and political conditions of language formation and use. The misadventures of structuralism alerted him at an early stage both to the inherent limitations of Saussurean linguistics and of the dangers of a certain kind of intellectual imperialism, whereby a particular model of language could assume a paradigmatic status in the social sciences as a whole.90 Bourdieu was critical of the presuppositions of Chomskyan linguistics also. Though Chomsky’s approach is more dynamic than that of Saussure, according to Bourdieu, both the approaches are based on a fundamental distinction, which enables language to be constituted as an autonomous and homogeneous object amenable to proper linguistic analysis. In the case of Saussure, the distinction is between langue and parole, that is, between language as a self-sufficient system of signs and “speech” as the situated realisation of the system by particular speakers. Chomsky draws a somewhat similar distinction between “competence” which is the knowledge of a language possessed by an ideal speaker-hearer in a completely homogeneous speech community, and “performance”, which is the actual use of language in concrete situations.91 Bourdieu criticises such a distinction because it leads the linguist to presuppose “an object domain” which is in fact the product of a complex set of social, historical and political conditions of formations. His theory helps us to understand the notion of “social domain”. According to him, a field is always the site of struggles in which individuals seek to maintain or alter the distribution of the forms of capital specific to it. According to him, a completely homogeneous language or speech society does not exist and any attempt to think otherwise is only an idealisation of a particular set of linguistic practices, which have emerged historically and have certain social conditions of existence. This idealisation is the source of 89

Richard Jenkins. “Language, Culture and Sociology: Pierre Bourdieu in Context.” History of the Human Sciences 7.4 (1994): 96. 90 Bourdieu 3-4. 91 Bourdieu 4-5.


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what he calls provocatively, and somewhat satirically, “the illusion of linguistic communism.” Bourdieu, in his criticism of Austin’s work on speech acts, has questioned the relative independence of language as an embodiment of power. He has argued that the efficacy of performative utterances is inseparable from the existence of an institution which defines the conditions (such as the place, the time, the agent) that must be fulfilled in order for the utterance to be effective.92 The assumption here is that linguistic exchanges express relations of power. Words are loaded with unequal weights, depending on who utters them and how they are said; some words uttered in certain circumstances have a force and conviction they would not have elsewhere. By the term institution, he means any relatively durable set of social relations, which endows individuals with power, status and resources of any kind. It is the authority to carry out the act which his or her utterance claims to perform. In order to make speech act produce the desirable result, the speaker must be authorised to do so.93 While criticising the Saussurean idea of language as an autonomous object, Bourdieu argued that words are loaded with power and the social conditions in which words are employed are more important. Any attempt to looking within words for the power of words will be in vain and power does not reside within the words. Authority comes to language from outside. In order to make any speech act a performative” speech act, it needs to be pronounced by an appropriate person. In other words, performative utterance is destined to fail each time if it is not pronounced by a person who has the “power” to pronounce it. Therefore, language itself does not contain authority. Language itself is not power. It, at the most, represents authority, manifests and symbolises it. Bourdieu has worked upon the notion of capital and talked of “cultural capital” and “symbolic power”94 besides “material capital”. Conceiving 92

Bourdieu 8. Bourdieu 8. 94 Cultural capital refers to a range of goods, titles and forms of behaviour that tend to confer distinction in social situation. This includes academic qualifications (institutionalised cultural capital), a person’s demeanour, speech and manners (embodied cultural capital), and material possessions (objectified cultural capital). —Craig Jefferey, Patricia Jeffery and Roger Jeffery. “When schooling fails: Young men, education and low-caste politics in rural north India.” Contributions to Indian Sociology. 39.1, (2005): 3. For further analysis of Bourdieu’s views on symbolic capital, refer to Alok K. Mukherjee, This Gift of English: English Education and the Formation of Alternative Hegemonies in English (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan Private Limited 2009) 72-81. 93

Theoretical Preliminaries


capital as multiform, he argued that the non-economic forms of capital can be converted into economic capital. His position is an important corrective to Marxism in which material capital occupies a central position and it is considered to be the only driving force. One of the significant contributions of Bourdieu to the sociology of education is his inclusion of …not only “economic capital” in the strict sense (i.e. material wealth in the form of money, stocks and shares, property, etc.), but also “cultural capital” (knowledge, skills and other cultural acquisitions as exemplified by educational or technical qualifications), “symbolic capital” (i.e. accumulated prestige or honour), and so on.95

One of the most important properties of field is the way in which one form of capital is converted into another in the way, for example, that certain educational qualifications or access to standard language can be utilised to achieve vertical upward mobility. Bourdieu, by elaborating upon the notion of capital, has argued that just as human beings can deploy material capital to enhance their situation economically, so too they may deploy non-material symbolic capital. Symbolic capital refers to socio-cultural attributes – both acquired and achieved. Such socio-cultural attributes can be converted into material capital. His chief example of symbolic power is language. Some forms of language are more highly valued than others. Those who can speak the standard dialect of their national language are more likely to get the higher-paying jobs than those who do not speak it. Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital helps us understand the way power was distributed in India. The dvija castes in India had an upper hand in the society not because they always owned the means of production or material power. Their cultural superiority played an important role in maintaining the social order as well as their hegemonic position.

Ideology and Politics of Language Terry Eagleton’s scholarly book on ideology begins with this remark: “Nobody has yet come up with a single adequate definition of ideology and this book will be no exception.”96 Susie Tharu has provided a working

95 96

Bourdieu 14. Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction (London: Verso, 1991) 1.


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definition of ideology, “…an ideology is a belief or a way of thinking we consciously commit ourselves to.”97 In the literature of the social sciences of the last two centuries, there have been heated discussions on the concept of ideology. In the eighteenth century, Destutt de Tracy in France proposed a “science of ideas”, as opposed to metaphysics, to be called ideology, a science which incidentally never made it.98 There have been many approaches to the concept of ideology. Attempts have been made to depoliticize the concept and strip it off its negative sense. This has led to mistake the concept of ideology as “systems of thought”, “systems of belief”, “the production of meanings, signs and values in social life”, “symbolic systems”, etc. The concept of ideology gained currency during the period of the vigorous assertion of the Marxist values and Marxist interpretation of social relationships. Moreover, the concept continues to occupy an important position in the socio-political discourse even after the collapse of the then USSR, which, as some critics believe, marks the end of socialism. It was Marx who gave the concept of ideology the wide currency it enjoys now. Marxism is inextricably linked with materialism. Many Marxists think that Marx himself believed that ideas are mechanically determined by the material environment.99 Marx and Engels were two early thinkers to define ideologies as the prevailing ideas of an age. According to them, the prevailing ideologies in many epochs have been the ideologies of the ruling class. Initially, Marx was interested in unmasking certain religious conceptions of the world. He held that ideology is part of the “superstructure” and, hence, determined by the economic or material base. Since the ruling class defines and controls the means of production and the reproduction of the superstructure, it also produces and regulates the ideology and makes the ruled accept it. Marx wrote that in ideology “men and their circumstances appear upside down as in a camera obscura…” The Marxist critique of society has suffered from economic determinism. The organization of society, metaphorically conceived as base and superstructure was dialectical. Engels tried to correct their position in Correspondence, Vol.-2, 1887-90: 97

Susie Tharu. “The Nineteenth Century British India and the Ideology of Colonialism.” Indian Writing in English. (Hyderabad: Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages ) u. d. 26. 98 Dijk Van, Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach (London: Sage Publications, 1998) 1. 99 David Hawkes, Ideology (1996; London: Routledge, 2004) 89.

Theoretical Preliminaries


According to the materialistic conception of history, the ultimately determining element in history is the production and reproduction of real life. More than this, neither Marx nor I have ever asserted: “Hence, if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract, senseless phrase.100

However, it is a truism that the Marxian idea of social structure is infused with the idea of the base that is dominant and determining. Further, the practising Marxists followed ideas of the base and the superstructure more mechanically. They allied materialism with an emphasis on the historical process. This led them to assert that both the objective circumstances and the subjective ideas inevitably change and develop through history, and that this process is driven by the material engine of the economy.101

Marxists generally use the term ideology to describe the means whereby the oppressed accept the views of the world, which are not accurate and which are not in their interests. Ideology, for them, is the imaginary representation of the way things are in a society and this fictive version of the world serves the interests of those who are dominant in society. Lenin thought of ideology in terms of class struggle. He ascribed ideologies to all the classes, including the proletariat. In his pamphlet What Is To Be Done? Lenin declared: …the only choice is – either bourgeois or socialist ideology. There is no middle course (for mankind has not created a “third” ideology, and, moreover, in a society torn by class antagonism there can never be a nonclass or above-class ideology). Hence, to belittle the socialist ideology, in any way, is to strengthen bourgeois ideology.102

The Marxian emphasis on the economic aspect of social reality and the negligence of the cultural-ideological apparatuses used by the ruling classes in keeping their subjects underfoot have been criticised by the neoMarxian ideologues. Gramsci paid attention to the ideological control, of the capitalist state over its inhabitants. He was convinced that Leninist 100

Dale Spender and Sarah Elizabeth, Eds., Learning to Lose: Sexism and Education (London: The Women’s Press, 1988) 37; Holborow 22. 101 Hawkes 88. 102 David McLennan, Ideology (New Delhi: Worldview, 1998) 22.


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strategy of neglecting the ideological hegemony of the bourgeoisie would not work in the advanced industrialised countries of the West. He established a close connection between ideology and hegemony. He formulated the concept of hegemony to elucidate how such as the ideology of the ruling class comes to be believed in by the subjects. He emphasised how the bourgeoisie obtained the consent of virtually the whole of society to its governance. He believed that domination is achieved through a combination of coercion and consent. The ruling class achieves domination by making the subjects submit to the rulers willingly. Their consent to the rule is achieved through the unobtrusive role played by ideology. The traditional Marxist-Leninist idea that the ruling class has its own dominant ideology and its greatest interest lies in imposing it on the proletariat is done away with in Gramsci’s writing. For Gramsci, without the imposition of the dominant ideologies by dominant class, hegemony more subtly works through the management of the minds of the citizens. As it has been argued before, Louis Althusser, in his essay “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses”, makes a theoretical statement about the function of ideology, life and the way ideology gets produced and evolved through state apparatuses. The first task of any economic system, according to him, is to reproduce its own conditions of production. This involves reproducing the kinds of people who will be able to participate in the process of production. The power of the modern capitalist state to do this is dependent on two types of institutions: the “Repressive State Apparatus” and the “Ideological State Apparatuses”, which include the church, the family, political parties, the media and, most importantly, the education system. Gramsci did not reject the basic premises of Marxism. He accepted the Marxian analysis of capitalism and class struggle. What was unacceptable to him was the traditional Marxian view that the ruling class ruled the exploited and succeeded in maintaining the status-quo. He investigated into the actual structures, institutions and formations that operated or came up in a society and moulded it in a particular way.103 It is this new concept of ideology that he mainly contributed to modern thought.104 As mentioned earlier, Gramsci’s thinking went much beyond any Marxist theory to provide an understanding of why the European working class failed to develop the revolutionary consciousness and had instead


Prakash 28. Archana S. Burde. “A Sociolinguistic History of English in India: A Profile of the Written Mode Vol. I.” Diss. Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. 1992. 201.


Theoretical Preliminaries


moved towards reformism, i.e. tinkering with the system rather than working towards overthrowing it.105 Gramsci broke fresh grounds by analysing the concept of ideology in an unorthodox manner. He questioned the so-called dominant ideology thesis which suggests that the class which is economically dominant will try to impose its own peculiar way of seeing the world on society as a whole.106 He sees a three-fold error in Marxist “economistic superstition”: i) ideology is identified as distinct from the structure, and it is asserted that it is not ideology that changes the structure but vice versa; ii) it is asserted that a given political solution is ‘ideological’ - i.e. that it is not sufficient to change the structure, although it thinks that it can do so; it is asserted that it is useless, stupid, etc.; iii) one then passes to the assertion one then passes to the assertion that every ideology is ‘pure’ appearance,useless, stupid, etc.107

Refusing to see the distinction between matter and idea mechanically, he thought of matter and idea as mutually constitutive and not as mutually exclusive, nor as one dependent on another: The analysis of these propositions tends, I think, to reinforce the conception of historical bloc in which precisely material forces are the content and ideologies are the form, though this distinction between form and content has purely didactic value, since the material forces would be inconceivable historically without form and the ideologies would be individual fancies without the material forces.108

He incorporates in the notion of ideology both formal ideas and “common sense.” He makes a crucial distinction between “philosophy” and “common sense”, two levels on which ideology operates: Philosophy is intellectual order, which neither religion nor common sense can be....Philosophy is criticism and the superseding of religion and “common sense”. In this sense it coincides with “good” as opposed to “common” sense.109

Philosophy is a systematic elaboration of a particular position. Common sense, on the other hand, is the practical, everyday, popular 105

Burke no pag. David Hawkes, Ideology (1996, London: Routledge, 2003) 113. 107 Gramsci 376. 108 Gramsci 377. 109 Gramsci 325-6. 106


Chapter One

consciousness of human beings.110 It operates at a level of habitual and unexamined attitudes. It is only a fragmentary collection of ideas and opinions. It is a highly contradictory body of beliefs that combines elements from the Stone Age and principles of a more advanced science, prejudices from all past phases of history at the local level and the intuitions of a future philosophy which will be that of the human race united the world over.111 In other words, it enables a majority of the populace accept what is happening in the society as the only way of running society.” The political function of “common sense” is to naturalise the existing social structure and the ideology of the ruling class. The traditional Marxist-Leninist idea that the ruling class has its own dominant ideology and its greatest interest lies in imposing it on the proletariat is done away with in Gramsci. For him, instead of the imposition of the dominant ideologies by dominant class, hegemony more subtly works through the management of minds of the citizens. He disagreed to the view that revolutions can be achieved by dismantling the economic structures alone. To him, dismantling of the economic structure should be coincided with the war at the ideological levels also. Since the hegemony of the ruling class resulted from the ideological bond between the ruler and the ruled, the ideological struggle assumes a lot of importance.

Language, Power and Ideology The process of thought and the production of ideas are realised through language. It is through words and a combination of words (sentences) that a given reality is reproduced in thought. Language is, as Marx has said, “practical consciousness”. The origin of language and consciousness cannot be separated from each other as they both emerge out of the material need of the human beings to interact with each other. Language is a coding system, which classifies and organizes the external objective world in a meaningful way. Ideology cannot be reduced to, nor thought of as identical with, language.112 Ideology is a matter of “discourse” rather than language. Ideology is less a matter of the inherent linguistic properties of a pronouncement than a question of who is saying what to whom for what purposes. Terry Eagleton argues that there are 110

Loomba 29. Loomba 29. 112 Rachel Sharp, Knowledge, Ideology and the Politics of Schooling: Towards a Marxist Analysis of Education (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1850) 98. 111

Theoretical Preliminaries


particular ideological “idioms” like the language of fascism, for example. Fascism tends to have its own peculiar lexicon (Lebensaum, sacrifice, blood and soil), but what is primarily ideological about these terms is the power interests they serve and political effects they generate.113 The relationship between language and politics has been relatively a less explored area of research. Such a relationship has often been subsumed under the studies of sociolinguistics, sociology of language, political science, anthropology, jurisprudence and economic development. There are no important theories about how language is different from other political issues, about how politicolinguistics, differs from sociolinguistics, or how language factors intervene in sociolinguistics or affect the outcome of political processes.114 To sum up, the assumption that language is an autonomous construct and simply a system has been central to linguistics. However, sociolinguistics is premised on the assumption that language needs to be studied in its social context. However, these assumptions are quite inadequate to study the interrelationship between language and politics.

Michael Foucault’s Concept of Power In contemporary critical theory, the old definition of the term “politics”, which comprised of only the formal institutions of power like the parliament, the legislature, etc. is done away with. Social scientists have now begun to look at politics as an all-pervasive phenomenon. George Orwell claimed that there is nothing keeping out of politics in the contemporary context. All issues are political issues.115 Political analysts also now view politics in a wider context of power and they differentiate between the formal governmental institutions and non-institutional power relationships. It is necessary to differentiate between politics and power. In common usage, the concepts of power and politics are so closely linked that they are sometimes used synonymously. Politics often implies power persuasion and influence; it may also connote its earlier more restricted etymological association with the state or government. Power is all-pervasive and it exists independent of the government. Cheris Kramarae, Michael Schulz and William M. O’Barr chose the title Language and Power for their book and they preferred the 113

Eagleton 9. William M. O’Barr and Jean F. O’Barr, Language and Politics (The Hague: Mouton and Publishers, 1976) 2. 115 Linda Thomas and Wareing Shan, Language, Society and Power: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1999) 32. 114


Chapter One

term “power” to “politics” because not all expressions of influence and control are governmental. Of course, this does not minimise the mammoth significance of the potential power that any government has to influence language. Power is a widely used concept and it concerns the dominant groups in any society. Dennis Wrong has offered a basic definition of power “as the capacity of some persons to produce intended and foreseen effects on others.”116 He differentiates between intentional and unintentional influence. Intentional influence may be achieved through authority (a conceptual acceptance of another as competent to wield power), manipulation (concealed power), persuasion (argumentation) and force (physical or a psychic). He further notes that it is possible to realize most of these effects—except for physical force—through language. 117 Bourdieu loosely conceptualises power as the capacity of an agent or agents to secure specific outcomes through their intervention (or non-intervention) in the course of events.118 The most influential theorisation of power in contemporary theory comes from the French philosopher, Michael Foucault. Foucault’s work is largely concerned with the relation between social structures, institutions and the individuals. The notion of power occupies centrestage in his analysis of culture and society. His work is critical of the notion that power is something which a group of people or an institution possesses and that power is only concerned with oppressing and constraining. What his work tries to do is to shift the thinking about power beyond this view of it (as a repression of the powerless by the powerful) to an examination of the way power operates within everyday relations between people and institutions.119 His view of power is directly counter to the conventional Marxist or early feminist concept of power, which sees power simply as a form of oppression or repression, which he terms the “repressive hypothesis”. In Power/Knowledge, he analyses power dispassionately.120 He further 116

Norman Fairclough, Language and Power (USA: Longman Inc. 1989) 1. Fairclough 1. 118 Venkat K. Reddy. Language, Power and Ideology: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Advertisements. Diss. Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, 2003. 119 Sara Mills, Michael Foucault (London: Routledge, 2003) 33. 120 Foucault writes: The notion of repression is more insidious one, or at all events I myself have had much trouble in freeing myself of it, in so far as it dies indeed appear to correspond so well with a whole range of phenomena which 117

Theoretical Preliminaries


observes that power is situated in knowledge. Knowledge is not innocent but intricately associated with the operations of power. In Knowledge/Power, he describes knowledge as being a conjunction of power relations and information-seeking, which he terms power/knowledge. He refuses to accept the traditional view that once someone gains power, s/he ceases to know. In Prison Talk, he reveals the interrelationship between power and knowledge: The existence of power perpetually creates knowledge, and, conversely, knowledge constantly induces effects of power…. Knowledge and power are integrated with one another, and there is no point in dreaming of a time when knowledge will cease to depend on power…it is possible for power to be exercised without knowledge, it is impossible for knowledge not to engender power.121

Power is often conceptualised as the dominance of the privileged over the will of the powerless people, and as the ability to force them to do things, which they do not wish to do. Power is also often seen as a possession of something which is held onto by those in power and which the powerless try to wrest from their control.122 Most classic dictionary definitions of power treat it as static rather than processual. For Foucault, it is impossible that one group is all the powerful and the rest are absolutely devoid of power and with no bargaining ability. He conceived power as interactive and internal to all relationships, not “held” or excercised by one group on another but developed through interaction in a multiplicity of relationships.123 belong among the effects of power. When I wrote Madness and Civilisation, I made at least an implicit use of this notion of repression…. But it seems to me now that notion of repression is quite inadequate for capturing what is precisely the productive aspect of power. In defining the effects of power as repression, one adopts a purely juridical conception of such power, one identifies power with a law which says no, power is taken above all as carrying the force of a prohibition. Now, I believe that this is a wholly negative, narrow skeletal conception of power, one which has been curiously widespread. If power were never anything but repressive, if it never did anything but to say no, do you really think one would be brought to obey it? —Michael Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980) 118-9. 121 Foucault 52. 122 Mills 34-5. 123 Kramarae et al. 10.

Chapter One


Cheris Kramarae, Michael Schulz and William M. O’Barr have pointed out the relative importance that various disciplines have given to the relationship between language and power.124 Roy Harris has questioned the premises (myths, as he calls them) of modern linguistics which isolates language from human experience.125 The complete isolation of linguistic experience from human experience in modern linguistics leaves no space to study the relationship between language and society or language and power. Romain contends that sociolinguistics has failed to come up with an adequate social theory which could serve as a basis for the study of language.126 While pointing out the inherent limitations of sociolinguistics, Cameron also has pointed out that the basic assumption in sociolinguistics that language reflects society separates society and language.127 Cheris Kramarae and others argue that sociolinguistics—by considering language and society—deals with power least implicitly. The political scientists who consider language at all represent a small fraction of the discipline, and most of them deal with governmental politics and language. While drawing attention to the relationship between language and power, Norman Fairclough asserts that the exercise of power in modern society is increasingly achieved through ideology and, more particularly, through the ideological workings of language. Pierre Bourdieu, Michael Foucault and Jürgen Habermas have recognised this and it is evident in the increasing importance they have given to language in their theories. Fairclough further points out that the growing importance of language in social theory is referred to as the linguistic turn in social theory. More recently, writers on “postmodernism” also have claimed that “visual images are ousting language, and have referred to postmodernist culture as “post-linguistic”. The relationship between language and society is dialectic: they shape each other. Language is the means whereby the ideology and the relations of power are negotiated. Kress observes: For any theory of language that is serious about its social functions and effects, the consideration of the categories, ideology and power, are indispensable. Such a language theory has to be accepted, as it has to focus


Kramarae et al. 1-14. Burde 198-9. 126 Burde 119-20. 127 Burde 201-3. 125

Theoretical Preliminaries


quite deliberately in the relations of language to the material condition of its users.128

To sum up, the notion of power allows us to take into consideration non-state actors in the arena of language policy. These actors, who operate in the civil society, are at times more influential than the state in the making of language policy. An attempt is made in this book to show how the indigenous élites worked as non-state actors in the shaping of language policy.

Sociolinguistics and the Language Problem in India Though there has been a long tradition of studying and interpreting language, most of these studies are in descriptive, technical or structural mode. For long, language has been seen as a non-political or apolitical phenomenon and its study has remained restricted to its structure. India also has a long tradition in the study of language. However, the linguistic tradition in ancient India was exclusively concerned with what is called descriptive or synchronic linguistics.129 It refused to see that language is not just a self-referential object and its study assumes the organic relationship it has with the society and power. R. K. Agnihotri argues that “the primary preoccupation of linguistics has been the analysis of the structural properties of language” and the “process of segmentation and classification eventually lead to postulating roots and stems that nobody uses”. Even when some efforts were made from time to time to locate language in its social context, structuralist considerations continued to dominate the enterprise.130 For example, American linguistics in the first half of the twentieth century remained primarily a “formal discipline”, almost along the line of abstract mathematics. Concentrating on the analysis of language structure and focusing on a corpus of sounds and smaller and larger units of meaning, the linguists studied the properties of language, as if it existed above and beyond its users. Recently, it has been well argued by the scholars of language that there exist interrelationships between language and society. Interest in the study of language in its social contexts can be traced back quite far, to the eighteenth and nineteenth century sociology 128

Burde 201-3. Robert D. King, Nehru and the Language Politics of India (1997; New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1998) 7. 130 R. K. Agnihotri, Half the Battle and a Quarter (Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages, 2002) 1. 129


Chapter One

and social philology. However, the stronger and clearer interest has come from linguists, both as a result of its more sophisticated synchronic (i.e. non-historical) concerns as well as a result of its growing response to applied demands. Though the realisation is widespread that the study of a language without reference to its “social context” leads inevitably to “the loss of opportunities for further theoretical progress,” the term “sociolinguistics” is very often understood either as the “sociology of language” or as just one of the branches in the study of linguistics.131 B. R. Bapuji has pointed out that in the former approach, it is meant to be one of the approaches borrowed from the discipline of sociology or, more precisely, from the functional or behaviourist technique. In the latter, it is an attempt to emphasise on the social and cultural content of a given language behavior. In both the cases, one discerns a failure to formulate an integrated theory that explains the social process of which the language behaviour is an inextricable element.132 In the recent years, sociolinguistics has shifted its emphasis from an abstract study of the rules of language to a concrete use of language. It now assumes that the study of language has to consider the fact that language usage is essentially and predominantly a social phenomenon. The term “sociolinguistics” is constituted of two components—socio and linguistics. In sociolinguistics—as the name indicates—the focus is very much upon the relation between social groupings (classes) and—contexts and variable ways in which languages are used in the society.133 Joshua Fishman has argued that, with the rise of sociolinguistics, many linguists came to be concerned with variations in language that were formerly set aside as purportedly unsystematic and of little scientific account. Deborah Cameron has criticised Fishman for the overplaying of the “sociological” aspect. William Labov’s work on the relationship between language use and social class is supported by a substantial body of empirical research and has become so influential that it has caused a shift in the orientation of sociolinguistic studies.134 However, in Cameron’s view, “what underpins Labovian quantitative paradigm is the notion that language reflects society”. She argues that the notion that language reflects society is a naïve belief and that what sociolinguistics needs is a social theory and not a naïve belief. This notion 131

B. R. Bapuji, Essays in Sociology of Language (Madras: T. R. Publications, 1994) 1-2. 132 Bapuji Essays 2. 133 Guy Cook, Applied Linguistics (Oxford: Oxford U P, 2003) 3. 134 Burde 201.

Theoretical Preliminaries


not only separates languages and society but also misses “the fact that features like class, gender, age, occupation, etc.” are social forces. Questioning the basic premises of linguistics and sociolinguistics, Cameron has argued that the features of a society should not be confused with dynamic social forces. Her point is that language as a social institution is deeply rooted in culture, society and political relations. Sociolinguistics, therefore, must base itself on a social theory which will provide the necessary orientation to study language as a linguistic practice in which members of a community unceasingly participate.135 Pointing out the inherent limitations of sociolinguistics, R. K. Agnihotri argues that the “so-called sociolinguistic and ethnographic analysis remained confined to either co-relational analysis of social and linguistic variables or to the treatment of variable communicative practices across different societies.”136 The language issue in India has always been a problem for many a reasons. It has been studied, analysed and commented upon to excess. However, many of these studies have failed to address the intricacies inherent in the relationship between language and society. Failure of the traditional linguistics or sociolinguistics in this regard can be attributed to the following reasons: 1) These studies were made without assuming the inevitable politicocultural contexts in which the linguistic issues are organically rooted. Many of the scholars who undertook such studies failed to understand that the language problems in a given society are not merely the problems of language alone and that do they do not reflect the socio-economic condition of the society. In fact, the language problem is deeply entrenched in the social structure, which is marked by inequality and replete with the power relations. While studying the linguistic problem in a multilingual and highly stratified country like India, the intricate mechanisms and dynamics of caste remained poorly, and sometimes wrongly, attended to. 2) Such studies were not based on a sound theory having explanatory adequacy. The conceptual frameworks in which these studies were undertaken were not suited to address the deep crisis and structures of power relationships involved therein. The theoretically dislocated frameworks, consequently, fail to suggest the resolution of the issue. Language has often been defined as a means of expression and of communication. However, such a definition focuses on a communicative 135 136

Burde 203. Agnihotri 1.


Chapter One

aspect of language and neglects its political function. Moreover, the term “communication” is not apolitical or value-neutral. It is deeply marked and obstinately governed by the hierarchical relationship that the communicators hold. In describing the way language functions, scholars have variously described it as a rule governed, a container, a transmitter, a symbolic system or a social leveller.137 Similarly, traditional linguists failed to understand that language is not an autonomous construct, simply a system of sentences. They also failed to “concern themselves with the relation of language to its spatial, temporal and social contexts.” Even in most of the sociolinguistic analyses, “speech community remained a rather vaguely defined cultural construct and enjoyed some kind of political neutrality.”138 According to Agnihotri, the traditionalists certainly noticed that there was generally a significant correlation between socio-economic hierarchies on the one hand and celebration or stigmatization of linguistic features on the other; yet, they refused to see that this differential distribution of prestige and power—be it social, economic or linguistic—was actually historically constituted and that it was a manifestation of the sociopolitical manipulation of a select few. What is generally subsumed under the colourful rubric of sociolinguistic variability, Annihotri argues, is essentially the result of the carefully structured power relations in society.139 For the scholars who are critical of the relationship between language and power, the discourse on language policy is merely a political discourse. Language is now seen as discourse and is being studied not in relation to society in general but power in particular. Similarly, society is considered not as a mosaic of individual existences or as a stratified structure but a dynamic formation of relationships and practices constituted in large measure by struggles for power. Language is also seen not as a phenomenon external to society but as a discursive social practice. It may be assumed that language and linguistic policies may be used as a means of achieving dominance of one class over the other. Access to a particular variety of language provides to the user additional power and makes her or him part of socially advantageous class in the society. It is discussed in chapter four that the construction of standard Marathi [MarƗ৬hƯ] and access to it in the nineteenth century MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ remained dominated by the upper-caste élite. 137

Cheris Kramarae, Schulz Muriel and William M. O’Barr, Language and Power (London: Sage Publications, 1984) 9. 138 Agnihotri 1. 139 Agnihotri 2.

Theoretical Preliminaries


Language and Politics in India The language scenario in India is supposedly marked by pluralism. India has a very rich and rare heritage of 400-odd languages and 3,000odd dialects. Many sociolinguists have extolled the multilingual and multidialectal nature of India. However, linguistic diversity in India is more complex than it appears to be. The glorification of the multilinguality and multidialectality of India is achieved at the neglect of the exploitative hierarchical structure of the Indian society to which the multilinguality or multidialectality corresponds. This glorification presupposes that multilinguality is an added feature of the so-called great heritage of India and has no reference to or correlationship with the hierarchical structure of Indian society. The rise of multilingualism has given a boost to the uncritical glorification of the other culture. Its emergence is seen as a response to the multi-ethnic nature of contemporary western societies. Its claim on tolerance and a respect for difference has been criticised by the critics. They argue that this policy disguises an assumption of the centrality of the predominantly white ethnic group or of the dominant culture. The underlying values of multiculuralism and the idea of pluralism result in practice in “containment and domestication.”140 Multiculturalism has shrouded the non-cognizance of the antagonistic relationship between cultures and their constitutive elements like languages. Such an approach belittles the strong relationship of language with power. The extraordinary growth of sociolinguistics has convinced us that language is organically linked with the society and the study of any language needs to be essentially situated in its social context. Any attempts of artificially isolating it for study will ignore its complex and intricate relation with society. Linguistic studies, which are largely based on the elicitation from the users of the standard language, end in the skewed results. William O’Barr and Jean F. O’Barr have argued that the studies of language that largely draw upon only one or a few informants are recognised as leaving unanswered many significant questions about the relation between language and the social context in which it is always embedded.141 The emergence of sociolinguistics has enabled us to study language in its social context and amplified our understanding of the concepts of language and communication within speech communities. This has also 140 141

Peter Brooker, A Glossary of Literary Theory (London: Arnold, 2003). O’Barr et al. 2.


Chapter One

helped us understand that language is not a monolithic or static entity and patterns of variation in communication and linguistic change that are extant in groups of interacting speakers cannot be ignored. The sociology of language examines the interaction between the two aspects of human behvaiour: use of the spoken, written and printed language and the social organization of behaviour. It focuses upon the entire gamut of topics related to the social organisation of language behaviour, including not only language usage per se but also language attitudes, overt behaviour toward language and toward language users.142 However, neither sociolinguistics nor the sociology of language has adequately analysed the interrelation between language and politics. The study of language and politics is of potential interest to most of the social scientists, development planners and to those whose primary interests centre on politics and linguistics. William M. O’Barr and Jean F. O’Barr have expressed their deep dissatisfaction over the failure of various disciplines like sociolinguistics, sociology of language, political science, anthropology, jurisprudence, and economic development to engage with the relationship between language and politics. They complained in 1976 that there were no important theories about how language is/was different from political issues; about how what might be called politico-linguistics differes from sociolinguistics, or about how language factors intervened in and thus affected the outcome of political processes.143 O’Barr and O’Barr argue that there are three important categories of relations between language and politics: i) those situations in which governments intervene in and attempt to control the communication system itself; ii) those in which language factors intervene in and thus affect the processes of the government and politics and iii) those in which language and politics are in mutual interaction, feeding back upon one another.144 Though O’Barr and O’Barr’s book, entitled Language and Politics, broke fresh grounds with regard to the interrelationship between language and politics, many of the articles in the book deem politics to be the formal, institutionalised politics, leaving apart the wider field of informal politics and power.


Joshua A. Fishman. “The Sociology of Language” Sociolinguistics: A Reader and Coursebook. N. Coupland and A. Jaworski. Eds. (New York: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1997) 25. 143 O’Barr et al. 1. 144 O’Barr et al. 5.

Theoretical Preliminaries


Language and Caste Caste possesses some features of nationality. True, it has not, as a rule, its own territory and a separate language, but it has its own customs, symbols, mythology, a sort of common culture, and, what is basic, the feeling of close affinity. —L. B. Alayev145

Language was used in India as a means of exclusion and thereby dichotomous and, often, conflicting relationship between castes was maintained. Language also preserved the relative isolation and the distinct nature of many castes. Consequently, it contributed to the reinforcement of the differentiation and divisiveness, which are the inherent characteristics of caste system. Various sociolinguists have amply demonstrated the relationship between language and caste. Susan Bean in her article “Linguistic Variation and the Caste System in South Asia” has given an elaborate overview of the literature on this issue and finally concluded that “class, education and friendship groups appear to be significantly inter-dependent with caste.” According to Upadhyay, “caste distinction is still a dominant force.” To Karunakaran, “it is only caste which is the major factor of distinction.”146 It is instructive to turn to Ranajit Guha in this connection. He has cited many historians and scholars to prove the interrelationship between caste and language. The tradition of using language as a register of caste status was very much alive till the late nineteenth century. When William Logan went to Malabar, he found that a man’s difference with those ranked higher than himself was evident in the explicit verbal acknowledgement of his own verbal inferiority. Conversationally, the lower ranked man had to debase himself by stigmatising whatever he possessed. Thus, he had to refer to his own food not simply as rice but as “stonny or gritty rice”, his money as nothing more than “copper cash”, his house as a “dungheap”.147 The indigenous perception of the structural cleavages in Malabar society of a century ago was recorded by Logan in a list of words for house. He wrote: The house itself is called by different names according to the occupant’s caste. The house of a Pariah is a cheri, while the agrestic slave - the Cheraman - lives in a chala. The blacksmith, the goldsmith, the carpenter, 145

Boris I. Kluyev, India: National and Language Problem (New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1981) 298. (Emphasis added.) 146 B. R. Bapuji Essays 30-1. 147 Guha 42.


Chapter One the weaver, etc., and the toddy-drawer (Tiyan) inhabit houses styled pura or kudi; the temple servant resides in a variyan or pisharam or pumatham, the ordinary player in a vidu or bhavanam while the man in authority of his cable dwell in an idam; the Raju lives in a Kovilakam or Kottaram. The indigenous Brahman (Nambuturi) in an illam, while his fellow of higher ranks calls his house a mana or manakkal.148

Ranajit Guha has discussed the caste-generated linguistic hierarchy by using Charles Fergusson’s notion of the “high” and “low” varieties of dialect. We owe the initial use of the term diaglossia to Fergusson. The imprint of hierarchical divisions within a speech community is perhaps most clearly visible in diaglossia. Fergusson has noticed this phenomenon in the coexistence of the “high” and “low” varieties of dialects. The “high” variety of dialects, the more prestigious of the two, is used for the religious sermons, academic or political lectures, personal correspondence, newspaper editorials, etc. and the “low” variety is used for conversation among friends, colleagues and members of one’s family, for use in folk literature and so on. Diaglossia of this kind has been a traditional feature of many of the linguistic communities in India. For instance, Guha argues that the deep caste division between brahmin and non-brahmin in parts of Southern India has been found to correspond to dialectical differences between brahmin and non-brahmin. Such division with regard to vocabulary and to salient aspects of phonology and morphology existed in Tamil and Kannada both.149 Social variation (differences in speech in terms of socio-economic class, caste, occupation, sex, age, etc., within the same geographic region) has been widely documented in India.150 Franklin Southworth argues that remnants of the earlier situation can still possibly be seen in south India. Citing A. K. Ramanujan’s study, he states that the speech of both the highest (brahmin) and the lowest (untouchable) caste is still sharply distinct from that of the intermediate castes, which tend to be more like each other because of frequent interaction.151 The Tamil spoken in the brahmin homes, for example, is different in its phonology and verbal


Guha 42-3. Guha 43. 150 Franklin Southworth, “The Social Context of Language Standardisation in India” S. Imtiaz Hasnain Ed., Standardisation and Modernisation: Dynamics of Language Planning (New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 1995) 47. 151 Southworth 47-8. 149

Theoretical Preliminaries


morphology from that of the other castes, and also tends to use many Sanskrit-derived terms.152 Ramanujan studied the structure of variation in brahmin and nonbrahmin caste-dialects and concluded that both the caste-dialects have different social functions to perform. These social functions correspond to social positions of these caste groups in the social hierarchy.153 William Bright’s study also shows that distinct caste dialects had existed in India for a long period. By citing McCormack’s study of the dialects in the Dharwad District of the then Mysore State, Bright argued that “there appear to be three styles of conversational Kannada which correspond to the three main cleavages on the social system…the brahmin, the non-brahmin, and the Harijan (“untouchable”).”154 Traditional study of the interrelationship between caste and language limits caste to simply as a linguistic variable, neglecting deeper connotations of caste as a system. Whether English language had to suffer the prejudices that the earlier classical languages were infested with was the issue debated extensively by the scholars. The fact that English was hypothetically accessible to all and there were no “scriptural injunctions” against learning of English made some of the scholars think that English would have no social stigma attached to it and would accelerate democratisation of knowledge. Braj Kachru’s essay “Standards, Codification and Sociolinguistic Realism”, in which he admired English for being free from the traditional prejudices, made an important beginning. He argues that “the use of English certainly has fewer political, cultural and religious connotations than does the use of any other language of wider communication.155 He goes on to say that “English does have one clear” advantage over other languages: It has acquired a neutrality in a context where native languages, dialects and styles sometimes have acquired undesirable connotations. Whereas native codes are functionally marked in terms of caste, religion, region and so forth; English has no such “markers”, at least in the non-native context. It was originally the foreign (alien) ruler’s language, but that drawback is often overshadowed by what it can do for its users. True, English is 152

Southworth 48. A. K. Ramanujan. “The Structure of Variation: A Study in Caste Dialect” Structure and Change in Indian Society. Singer Milton and S. Cohn Bernard. Eds. (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1968) 461-74. 154 William Bright. “Social Dialect and Language History.” Current Anthropology 1.5/6 Sep.-Nov. (1960): 424-5. 155 Alastair Pennycook. “Turning English Inside Out.” Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics 28.2 (2002): 30. 153

Chapter One


associated with a small and elite group; but it is in their role that the “neutrality” of language becomes vital….156

Kachru’s relative understanding of English in India is true at a hypothetical level. His considered opinions have been responded to by those scholars, who prefer to see language in terms of power and politics. They assume that language is prone to be used for the establishment of hegemony of a certain class. They argue that this supposed neutrality of English does not exist. Though English is hypothetically more secular, egalitarian and accessible to all, in a country like India, it has become a tool of domination. In India, the upper castes have a long experience of monopolising the classical languages. Joshua Fishman, who has highlighted the intimate relationship between language and ethnicity in his writing, has also realised the error of judgement in claiming English to be “ethically and ideologically unencumbered”. He pointed out that the “degree of involvement or interpretation in connection with the actual or possible spread of English” should be viewed as a variable rather than a constant. He remarks: The relative unrelatedness of English to ideological issues in much of the Third World today must not be viewed as a phenomenon that requires no further qualification. Westernisation, modernisation, the spread of internalisation, the spread of international youth culture, popular technology and consumerism are all ideologically encumgered and have ideological as well as behavioural and econo-technical consequences.157

Hans R. Dua has criticised the self-legitimising neutrality-claim of English to argue that English continues to be used to hegemonise language discourse. He argued that a number of arguments, assumptions, notions and beliefs make it difficult to assess the role of English without bias and obliquity for evolving a suitable language policy. They create perceptions blind-spots and prevent the perception of the ideological underpinnings and hegemonic structure that camouflage the pernicious effect on English on educational planning. To him, the neutrality of English is untenable on theoretical grounds. It is questionable to assume that a language can be considered entirely a tool-like medium without being shaped and determined by the dynamics of social relations. S. Anand, in his critique of Probal Dasgupta’s The Otherness of English: India’s Auntie Tongue Syndrome, has argued that though theoretically 156 157

Pennycook 30. Dua 8.

Theoretical Preliminaries


English is as accessible to dalits and women as it is to the dvijas, the brahminical classes have monopolised the use of English along with other symbols of modernity, depriving others of the same.158 Anand criticised the postcolonial interpretation of English as a coloniser’s tongue and the coloniser’s intention in imposing English were never a noble one and, hence, English need not be extended to the dalits. Critics of English overlook the social and religious injunctions deciding the discourse of language and supporters of English disregard the subtle connotations of English as an imperialist language. There is abundant evidence to show that caste differences in India have long been associated with linguistic differences. However, the traditional sociolinguistic studies in caste and language restrict the role of caste to only of the linguistic variable, neglecting the wider connotations of caste as a system. As caste is the central faultline of India, it has remained the most significant determinant of language. In the colonial era, new avenues of language development were opened up by the colonial state. However, new opportunities of language use had to operate within the confines of the new configuration of caste-class. The newly emerged élite responded to colonial policy on education with a great air of responsibility and caution. In the course of time, it succeeded in negotiating with the state and gathered considerable clout in the power structure to influence and shape policy on language.


S. Anand. “Sanskrit, English and Dalits.” Economic and Political Weekly 34.30 (July 24-30, 1999): 2053-6. For debates on caste and English, refer to Probal Dasgupta, The Otherness of English: India’s Auntie Tongue Syndrome (New Delhi: Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd., 1993) 65-85; Mukherjee 286-312.


Sanskrit and its Conformity with the Varna-Caste System Exploration of the relationship between language and politics in India has been a long felt need. There is a need of a political history of language in India; in which language, culture, history and politics should be discussed dispassionately and a linguistically sophisticated point of view must evolve from it. According to Robert D. King, descriptive linguistics says nothing about the social uses of language and public effects of language and about “language politics” or “language planning.”1 It is a truism that in all the societies in the world, language has been used by a dominant section of the societies to establish and perpetuate its hegemonic position. Gail Omvedt has explicated the difference between the Sanskrit language of the dvija varnas and the language of the Chinese mandarins. In India, by forbidding the lower castes from using Sanskrit, the brahmins maintained monopoly on sacred learning. In China, in contrast, the élite language was difficult, but open to everyone, even those from the lower social strata and they could find the resources to learn it. In Omvedt’s view, the exclusive nature of language policy contributed to the formation of exclusive and closed élites.2 1

He argues: Nothing in the Indian tradition recognised language as a social or political force; indeed as a “force” of any kind. Language was; it simply was. The Indian grammatical tradition made language important. It did not make of language political catalyst or a means of unifying a country or for carving up a country into state units. —Robert D. King, Nehru and the Language Politics of India (1997; New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1998) 9. 2 Gail Omvedt, Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2003) 88.

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


Much of the traditional scholarship on language and language-related issues is seriously flawed as language is considered devoid of its sociopolitical contexts. Language is not an innocent phenomenon. However, the sociolinguists’ undue sentimentality towards language results in glorification of the exploitative tradition in language. Lamenting the gross negligence that Sanskrit has been suffering in modern India, S. K. Chatterjee argues: The Nazi even in his Nordic pride used the Sanskrit word Swastika to denote the symbol of his Nordic exclusiveness - a word which has been ours for generations from OIA [Old Indo-Aryan]….he was also proud to think of himself as an Ɩrya (Arier, arisch) condemning the Jew as an nonƖryan (nichtarisch)....Truly a prophet is never honoured in his own country. Sanskrit is not dead, when it continues to infuse life-sap into the Modern Indian languages.3

S. K. Chatterjee’s uncritical approach assumed that all the Indian languages were derived from Sanskrit and “Sanskrit is the Symbol of Indian Culture.” Exclusionary practices pertaining to Sanskrit have remained more stringent as they had scriptural sanction in ancient India. Access to Sanskrit was limited to the twice-born (the Ɩryans) only. They glorified their language as being divine and created by the gods themselves. They also treated it as superior to that of the non-Ɩryans. The Ɩryans generally looked at the mass of non-Ɩryans as substandard human beings, godless non-sacrificers whose language was obscure, unintelligible and, hence, ritually inferior.4 NƗ‫ܒ‬ya ĝƗstra, one of the oldest texts on drama, lays down rules for language in an already fractured society, denying the Ğnjdras access to Sanskrit.5 In Sanskrit plays, the king speaks 3

S. K. Chatterji, Indo-Ɩryan and Hindi (Calcutta: Firma KL Mukhopadhyay, 1960) 81. 4 Madhav M. Deshpande, Sanskrit and Prakrit: Sociolinguistic Issues (Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass Publishers Private Limited, 1993) 2. 5 Sumi Krishna writes: case of the self-contained heroes of the vehement, the light hearted, the exalted and the calm types, the recitation shluild be in Sanskrit, Heroes of all these classes are to use Prakrit when the occasion demands that. In case of even a superior person intoxicated with kingship or over-whelmed with poverty, no Sanskrit should be used. To persons in disguise, Jain monks, ascetics, religious mendicants and jugglers should be assigned the Prakrit recitation. Similarly[,] Prakrit should be assigned to children, persons possessed with no spirits of lower order, women in feminine character, persons of low birth, lunatics and phallus worshippers. —Sumi Krishna, India’s Living Languages: The Critical Issues (New Delhi: Allied Publishers Ltd., 1991) 45.


Chapter Two

Sanskrit and the thieves and rogues are given MƗgadhƯ as their speech.6 Many ancient texts mentioned that the lower varnas, who were variously called as the CƗndƗlas, the VrƗtyƗs, the MlecchƗs and the Ni‫܈‬ƗdƗs, used “different culture and language.”7 Though PƗ৆ini, called Sanskrit simply bhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ, it actually referred to the “upper-class language” in relation to non-Ɩryan languages, which were viewed as substandard since people who themselves were placed low in the social hierarchy.8 Sanskrit in India was predominantly the link language of the Ɩryans. In a country as large as India it was necessary to have one language to function, however imperfectly, as a lingua franca. According to Robert D. King, Sanskrit was more than merely a language facilitating communication over the diverse regions of the country. Sanskrit was more than a language. It was assigned the political function of achieving cohesion among the upper-caste élites. VedƗntism was the ideology that unified the brahmins and Sanskrit became the carrier of that ideology: Suffice it to say here that the great unifier of India has always been ‘Brahminical ideology’; not only the familiar structures of Hinduism such as caste, cow worship, religious ceremonies, cremation and so on, but the intellectual authorities of the great classical texts, the Vedas, the Upanishadas, the Bhagvadagita. The instrument of penetration of Brahminised ideology into the Deccan and the south was the Sanskrit language and the sacred texts written in Sanskrit.9

S. D. Joshi argues that the word Saۨsk‫܀‬ta means the refined. Since the correct use of the Sanskrit language presupposed the knowledge of that language, which the Ği‫܈‬tas (the learned ones) used, the non-Ği‫ܒ܈‬as and women were excluded from it.10 Since brahmin girls were denied access to Sanskrit, it is doubtful if the mother in a brahmin family was able to transmit Sanskrit as her spoken language to her children. Joshi further 6

Deshpande Sanskrit and Prakrit 16. V. I. Subramoniam. Language Multiplicity and Ancient Races in India (Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages, 1995) 6. 8 Deshpande Sanskrit and Prakrit 2. 9 King 11. 10 There is enough evidence in the writings of Katyayana and Patanjali of increasingly lower respect for women and Patanjali seems to imply that girls and women were prone to speak the degenerate form of the language. Madhav M. Deshpande “Sanksrit Grammarians of Diglossia” in Bh. Krishnamurthy Ed., South Asian Languages: Structures, Convergence and Diaglossia (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1986). 7

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


asserts that she spoke a Prakrit language and it might have been the language used in a brahmin’s house for daily life purposes.11 Franklin Southworth has also argued that no one seemed to have learned Sanskrit from his / her mother at the time of Patanjali.12 On the contrary, Prakrit remained operational in the non-Ɩryan sphere. Just as Sanskrit was the lingua franca for the brahmins, Prakrit was so for the non-brahmins and women. According to D. D. Kosambi, AĞokan, KuĞƗna and SƗtavƗhana inscriptions make it clear that lingua franca of the country (Prakrit) differed very much from the ornate language that the very name Saۨsk‫܀‬ta implies.13 The users of Prakrit were always looked down upon. The Ɩryans generally looked at the mass of non-Ɩryans as substandard human beings and their language as obscure and unintelligible. The non-Ɩryan languages could not have pleased the Ɩryan gods, and hence were held ritually inferior.14 Gail Omvedt argues that the Indian brahmanical élites, who were similar to the Chinese mandarins, cultivated Sanskrit as a “pure” and elevated language, and disdained the Prakrits. These were considered as low languages of the people who could not properly pronounce or understand the high language. Indian élitism, which was more exclusive than any kind of élitism in the world, took more conservative form basically because the lower castes were forbidden to learn Sanskrit and the brahmins continued to monopolise it.15 The linguistic hierarchy in ancient India corresponded to the social hierarchy marked by varna. The dominance of Sanskrit received first serious challenge by the Buddha. In order to dehegemonise Sanskrit, and reach the wider community, the Buddha preferred to deliver his sermons through Prakrit. Moreover, he was insistent on the use of Prakrit and advised his monks that they should teach the doctrine in their own language.16 The Buddhist monks’ opposition to the use of Sanskrit for 11

S. D. Joshi. “Sanskrit, A spoken language.” Suniti Kumar Chatterji: A Centenary Tribute. Udaya Narayan Singh and Shivarama Padikkal. Eds. (New Delhi: Sahitya Akadami, 1997) 153-4. 12 Deshpande Sanskrit and Prakrit 30. 13 Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, An Introduction to the Study of Indian History (1956; Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1994) 278. 14 Deshpande Sanskrit and Prakrit 2. 15 Omvedt 88. 16 Buddhism envisioned an alternative vision of life and social philosophy. It also, while entering into confrontation with the socio-religious practices for which Sanskrit was the main vehicle, had to promote an alternative code with a view of


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teaching the Buddha’s doctrine seemed to have originated in the fear of brhaminical intention to subvert the Buddhist faith from within.17 The brahminical contempt for Prakrits was very much evident in the brahmin monks of the MahƗyƗna sect of Buddhism. The notion of purity was so deeply rooted in the minds of the brahmins that the brahmin monks continued to cherish the brahmanical sociolinguistic attitudes. Though converted to Buddhism, they were worried that the non-brahmin monks would make mistakes in genders, numbers and tenses and in pronunciation, and, thus, corrupt the words of the Buddha. The Buddha is said to have rejected such pleas and have ordained that everyone should use his own particular dialect in reciting the sacred text.18 Most of the Buddhist literature is available in Pali, which was the language of the then populace. There must have been a huge body of literature comprising of stories, songs, fables that was produced in Pali during the Buddhist period. The Buddhist monks travelled throughout Asia and propagated the word of the Buddha in the languages of the people and, thus, contributed to the development of these languages into national languages. Citing Rhys Davis’s study, Omvedt argues that the Prakrits (local languages which include the so-called “Dravidian” as well as Indo-European languages) began their development as regional-national languages of India during the period of Buddhism.19

wider dissemination of its ideology. The Buddha himself was very much vigilent on the issue of choice of language and it is very much evident when the Budha insisted on the use of dialect: Two monks, Brahmans by birth, were troubled that other monks of various clans, tribes, and families, were corrupting the Buddha’s words by repeating them each in his own dialect (sakƗya niruttiyƗ). They asked the Buddha: Let us put the Buddha’s words into [Vedic-Sanskrit] verse (chandaso Ɨropema).” But the Blessed One, the Buddha, rebuked them saying, “Deluded men! This will not lead to the conversion of the unconverted...” And he commanded (all) the monks: “You are not to put the Buddha’s words into [Vedic-Sanskrit] verse. To do this would be to commit an infraction. I authorize you, monks, to learn the Buddha’s words each in his own dialiect. —Sheldon Pollock, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskirt, Culture and Power in Premodern India (2006; Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2009) 54. 17 Deshpande Sanskrit and Prakrit 5. 18 Deshpande Sanskrit and Prakrit 17. 19 Omvedt 189.

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


Basant Kumar Mallik has established that Oriya language and literature received acceptance of the élites only slowly.20 Dinesh Chandra Sen’s study of the history of Bengali language also shows how Bengali was nurtured during the Buddhist era and how it suffered negligence and callousness at the hands of the brahminical élites. Ɩnand Tîrtha, the famous commentator of Ɩitereya Aara۬yaka, declared Bengal to be inhabited by RƗkĞasas and PicƗchas. Krisna pun‫ڲ‬it, a twelfth century grammarian, had called Prakrit as PaicƗchi Prakrit or, meaning Prakrit spoken by the evil spirit.21 In the pre-colonial era, speech mattered so much in demarcating caste relationship in India. Manu prescribed a series of syntactic variations on a string of words to make beggars identify themselves by their respective castes while calling for alms: An initiated BrƗhmana should beg, beginning (his request with the word) lady (bhavati); a Kshatriya, placing (the word) lady in the middle but a VaiĞya, placing it at the end (of the formula).22

Among acquaintances, phatic statement about each other’s health had to include the word kusala if addressed to a Brahman, anamaya to a Kshatriyak, Kshema to a Vaishya and anarogya to a Sudra (Manu II, 127).23 It is a truism that the brahmins succeeded in continuing with their hegemonic position even during the Mughal period. While establishing alliance with the Mughal power, they had taken every care to keep their own cultural-religious realm influenced by the Mughal. Besides the Sanskrit language, the cow had been the symbol of the brahminical social order that was held in much reverence and worshipped.24 The successful continuation of the use of Sanskrit as the language of pan-Indian élite in the realm of religion and culture validates this argument. R. C. Muzumdar 20 Basant Kumar Mallik. “Cultural and Social Radicalism in Medieval Orissa.” Economic and Political Weekly XLVI.17, (2011): 52-9. 21 Dinesh Chandra Sen, History of Bengali Language and Literature (Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1986) 4. 22 Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India. (1983). (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1994) 42. 23 Guha 42. 24 The upper castes had succeeded in compelling the Muslim rulers to prohibit cow-slaughtering. Cow slaughter was prohibited by Emperor Akbar at least in Punjab, and this prohibition was continued by Jahangir. It appears that even Babar appreciated the fact that the cow was a symbol of cultural resistance and he is supposed to issue a farmƗn, forbidding cow slaughter.


Chapter Two

has accepted that political conditions did not materially affect Sanskrit literature, and despite growing Muslim domination in parts of the country, literary works continued to be produced in Sanskrit.25 Though Sanskrit had to lose its vitality and originality in the wake of the rise of the vernaculars and Persian as the languages of popular thought, Sanskrit continued to hold its centrality in the realm of culture and religion due to the patronage accorded to it by the Muslim rulers. H. K. Sherwani has proved with enough evidence that Mohammad Ghori, Mahmud Begarha, Akbar and Jahangir provided heavy patronage to Sanskrit.26 During this period, poet-laureates in Sanskrit were kept in the courts, many works were written and translated, and dictionaries were compiled.27 The continued influence of the hegemonic role of Sanskrit even in the Mughal Period needs to be viewed as a strategy of the Mughal rulers to create, basis for hegemonic, as opposed to dominant, cultural power. The continued hegemonic position of Sanskrit also needs to be viewed in the context of, what Shashi Joshi and Bhagwan Josh call, “the evolution of cultural symbols and their significance in cultural contests as a process that results from cultural encounters and conflicts.”28 Though earlier contacts between Muslims and Hindus were limited in extent and peaceful in nature, military conquests commencing with Mahmud of Ghazni and the establishment of Muslim political control, symbolised the victory of Islam. Therefore, the policy of containment, at least, in the cultural sphere, became imperative on the part of the Muslim rulers. The loss caused by political aggression was to be compensated by practising the policy of preserving cultural symbolism. The preservation of Sanskrit as high language came to be reified into a symbol of pre-existing non-Muslim culture of the upper castes, whose influence on the rest of society was by no means insignificant. Joseph Bara has remarked that the Muslim rulers’ interest in Sanskrit grew out of the need to know better the “subject race.” Their encouragement to Sanskrit and attempts of translations and productions of educational books gave a new jolt to the brahmins’ grip over knowledge. 25

R. C. Muzumdar, The History and Culture of the Indian People (1960; Bombay: Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, 1967) 644. 26 H. K. Sherwani, Cultural Trends in Medieval India: Architecture, Painting, Literature and Language (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1968). 27 Shashi Joshi and Bhagwan Josh, Struggle for Hegemony in India 1920-47: Culture, Community and Power Vol. III, 1941-47 (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1994) 64. 28 Joshi et al. 65.

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


Even after establishment of the British empire and though Urdu and English were slowly dislodging Persian as the official language, Sanskrit continued to hold hegemonic position in the upper-caste cultural sphere. Many élite British and Indians continued to regard Sanskrit in the early nineteenth century as the lingua franca of the Hindu intelligentsia of the subcontinent. The rediscovery of Sanskrit as a source of “refined tastes in competition” and a vehicle “strengthened the intellect of youth” by which both the British philologists, ethnographers and the Indian upper caste intelligentsia perpetuated their existences in the nineteenth century. A comparison between Sanskrit and Latin was sought very frequently and Sanskrit was endowed with high function of the diffusion of new ideas through native literary societies.29 Sanskrit was continued to be used by the pun‫ڲ‬its and teachers who found their interest in Sanskrit renewed in the wake of British conquest. Many Indian kings also had continued to patronise Sanskrit; for example, Raja Serfojee of Tanjore had initiated Sanskrit debates in his court to which brahmins from major centres of learning were invited.30 In parallel, the first generation of cultural nationalists argued that the government should actively patronise Sanskrit as even the Muslim rulers, “though tyrants”, had done.31 Even during the colonial phase, Sanskrit continued to be safeguarded by brahminical patriarchy. Even though the British had officially opened their educational institutions to all the castes, learning Sanskrit was not so easy to come by for the non-brahmins and women. A serious crisis arose when Major T. Candy (1806-1877) undertook the task of teaching Sanskrit to the non-brahmin students (belonging to sonƗr and prabhu, which were two of most brahminised castes) in Pune. The brahmins had refused to teach Sanskrit to the non-brahmin students which, according to their scriptures, the non-brahmin students had no right to learn Sanskrit.32 The non-brahmin students also continued to exhibit apathy towards Sanskrit even after it was made officially accessible to them. In Deccan College, as late as 1867-68, the non-brahmin students used to offer Latin instead of Sanskrit as the classical language.33 Similar conflict took place in Solapur during the 1870s when Appasaheb Warad, a lingƗyat merchant, made an attempt to open a 29 C. A. Bayle, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870. (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 1999) 293. 30 Bayle 293. 31 Bayle 293. 32 Dhananjay Keer, Mahatma Jotirao Phooley: Father of Indian Social Revolution (1964; Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1997) 48. 33 Poona College 1966-67, Vol.-XII. Director of Education Archives, Pune.


Chapter Two

Sanskrit PƗ‫ܒ‬haĞƗlƗ. This pƗ‫ܒ‬haĞƗlƗ used to be run for the creation of the jangams, who used to function as the priests in the lingƗyat community. The brahmins opposed this move and refused to teach Sanskrit to the lingƗyat students. They also refused to teach Sanskrit to them in the schools managed by the government and the municipality. The colonial state ventured to satisfy both the lingƗyat as well as the brahmins. The Bombay High Court expressed a view in one of the judgements that the lingƗyats were Ğudras and the government ordered that Sanskrit should be taught to all the castes. Defying the government’s order, the brahmins had continued arguing that the lingƗyat had no right to learn Sanskrit.34 There are at least two instances of brahmin women who had to wage unprecedented struggle in order to learn Sanskrit. Anant Shastri, Pandita Ramabai’s father and a CitpƗvan brahmin, succeeded in teaching Sanskrit to his second wife Laxmibai and later on his daughter Ramabai. Anant Shastri had to face the wrath of his fellow caste men for violating the religious law. Interestingly, Ramabai’s scholarship in Sanskrit was honoured in Bengal and condemned in Pune. This indicates that the Pune-based brahmins were more conservative than their counterparts in Calcutta. Her learning of Sanskrit brought division in the Prarthana Samaj, one of the progressive organisations of the English-educated intellectuals in the Bombay Presidency.35

Persian: New Strategies of Manipulation and Dominance Though the establishment of the Mughal Empire brought about a major shift in the political structures, many spheres of the Hindu community had continued to remain unaffected by the Mughal empire. Continuation of the practices of sati and untouchability all through the medieval period validates this claim. This phase witnessed the emergence of Arabic and Persian as the two important prestigious languages. Arabic, being the language of the Holy Quran, and Persian, being the language of court and political discourse, gathered considerable clout with them. Akbar had made deliberate attempts to let Persian emerge as a pan-Indian language of political communication. He was the first among the Indo-Islamic kings of northern


Dhanaji Baburao Masal. History of Education in Solapur City (1885-1964). Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur. 2002. 130. 35 Meera Kosambi, Ed. Pandita Ramabai Through Her Own Words (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2000) 4.

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


India formally to declare Persian to be the language of administration at all levels.36 Unlike Sanskrit, Persian was a secular language and, hypothetically, it was accessible to all the castes and communities. This relative openness of the Persian language allowed the upper caste Hindus to acquire it. Unlike Sanskrit, which remained confined to the brahmins, Persian had hypothetically much wider distribution in respect of different communities. It was undoubtedly a language of élites; however, it was claimed and shared by both Hindu and Muslim élites. Persian could not rescue itself from the eliticism that Sanskrit had suffered from. Though Persian and Arabic were hypothetically accessible to all, access to these languages in India largely remained restricted to the élites. By the end of the eighteenth century, Persian had become an inseparable part of élite life in India. The Mughal literary culture has been noted for its notable achievement in poetry and a wide range of prose writings in Persian.37 A large number of poetic forms and themes had been successfully grafted in various languages of India and translation from Persian into various Indian languages was a continuous activity throughout the nineteenth century.38 The dawn of the medieval period of Indian history was marked by two characteristics: i) Sanskrit had begun to lose its strength and ii) various vernaculars, though were beginning to show the signs of arrival, were not strong to be linguistically effective.39 It was at this juncture, Persian emerged on the political scene, posing difficulties to both – Sanskrit and the vernaculars. However, the upper castes, which had monopolised Sanskrit, having realised the significance of Persian in the changed political scenario, had begun to come forward zealously to learn Persian. They showed great enthusiasm to be assimilated in the Mughal bureaucracy. The Hindus began to learn Persian in Sikandar Lodi’s time. From the middle of the seventeenth century, the departments of accountancy (siyaq), draftsmanship (insha) and the offices of the revenue minister (diwan) were mostly filled by the kƗyastha and khatri munshis and muhƗrrirs. Many upper caste Hindus such as Madho-Ram, Suraj Rai, Malikzadah, Anand Ram, Bindraban made so splendid a contribution to Persian language and


Muzaffar Alam. “The Pursuit of Persian Language in Mughal Politics.” Modern Asian Studies 32.2 (1998): 325. 37 Alam 317. 38 Sisir Kumar Das, A History of Indian Literature 1800-1910 Western Impact, Indian Response (New Delhi: Sahitya Akadami, 1991) 26. 39 Sherwani 86.


Chapter Two

literate that their writings formed part of the syllabi of Persian studies at MadrasƗs.40 Akbar’s policy of religious tolerance made the upper caste Hindus feel that they were partners. His rule proved very much congenial to the growth of Persian. His proclamation of Persian as the language of court was accompanied by the reorganisation of the revenue. As substantial part of revenue was carried out by the indigenous Hindu communities, many of them joined the Mughals as clerks, scribes and secretaries.41 While commenting on the appropriation of Persian by the casteHindus, Christopher King has stated that three Hindu communities had particularly strong ties with Urdu and Persian, namely kƗyasthas, Kashmiri brahmins and khatris.42 These castes were quick to recognise the positions of power that Persian could potentially promise. For example, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who had come from the brahmin background, had schooling in Persian and had written his first essay on monotheism in Persian with a preface in Arabic and edited a newspaper the Mirat-UpAkbar in Persian. Jawaharlal Nehru’s confession is more telling in this regard: Persian, as a language, unhappily, I do not even know. But it is true that my father had grown up in an Indo-Persian cultural atmosphere....Kashmiri Brahmans had a remarkable capacity for adaptation, and coming down to the Indian plains and finding that this Indo-Persian culture was predominant at the time, they took to it, and produced a number of fine scholars in Persian or Urdu. Later they adopted themselves with equal rapidity to the changing order, when knowledge of English and the elements of European culture became necessary.43

When the College of Fort William was established to train the servants of the East India Company, the proposed curriculum of the college included, among English and other subjects, Persian. The college also employed the largest number of teachers for Persian, which attracted the largest number of students.


Alam 326. Alam 325-6. 42 Christopher R King, One Language Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India (1994; New Delhi: Oxford U P. 1999) 10. 43 Jawaharlal Nehru, An Autobiography (1936; New Delhi: Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial, 1980) 169. 41

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


Adam found that there were more Hindu students than Muslim students in Persian schools.44 It was reported in Adam’s report on education in Bengal that of the 899 students studying in the Muslim schools in the district of Burdwan, half were non-Muslim and nearly a third of these were brahmins.45 Yusuf Hussain has recorded that while high-caste Hindus, particularly brahmins, looked down upon Persian education, the kƗyasthas, traditionally a caste of writers, readily adopted it.46 While tracing the background of British Orientalism, David Kopf also found in Bengal a section of “Persianised Hindu” among the high castes who shared a common culture with the Muslim élites. Ulrike Stark’s study of the Newal Kishore Press, a publication house in the nineteenth century Lucknow, also reveals a lamenting story of the failure in preserving the mutually beneficial and congenial interrelationship between Hindi / Sanskrit and Persian / Urdu. The Newel Kishore Press is known for the outstanding role played in the preservation of Islamic and Indo-Persian literature in the first half of the nineteenth century. The effort of this press in propagating the traditional composite culture of north India by publishing in Urdu, Persian remained futile. Along with the Muslim students, many kƗyastha and khatri boys entered open educational institutions in the great Indo-Muslim cities to learn Persian.47 Muslim rule had facilitated the emergence of Persian of the official language and the chief vehicle of culture in Muslim courts. In spite of the rapid decline of the Mughal Empire in the eighteenth century, the prestige of Persian had continued unabated.48 The British could not afford to resort to the immediate replacement of Persian with English. Therefore, though the East India Company rose to power, Persian remained the official language of administration well into the nineteenth century. It was argued that most respectable Muslims understood Persian, as did many among the higher classes of Hindus. When five hundred residents of Dacca district in Eastern Bengal (of whom nearly two hundred were Hindus and most of the rest Muslims) petitioned the government in


Aparna Basu, The Growth of Educational and Political Development in India: 1898-1920 (New Delhi: Oxford U P. 1974) 128. 45 Sheldon Pollock, “The Death of Sanskrit” Comparative Studies in Society and History. 43:2, April 2001, 412. 46 Joseph Bara. “Colonialism and Educational Fragmentation in India.” The Contested Terrain: Perspectives on Education in India. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya Ed. (Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1998) 133. 47 Bayle 75. 48 King 53.


Chapter Two

favour of Persian and against Bengali it became clear that the Bengali script varied from place to place. King has summarised their argument: …the Bengali script varies from place to place, one line of Persian could do the work of ten lines of Bengali, the awkward written style of Bengali read more slowly than that of Persian, people from one district could not understand the dialect of those from another, no previous government had even kept records in Bengali, Persian had spread over a wide area and did not vary much from place to place, people from all classes could understand Persian when read to them, and both Hindus and Muslims wanted to keep Persian.49

While responding to this petition, the Biharis (mostly Muslims) noted that both Hindus and Muslims opposed the change and went on to add that the generality of Hindus, especially landholders and those concerned with the courts, understood Persian and Arabic expressions connected with their business far better than any Sanskrit phrases.50 Charles Grant’s (1746-1823) imperial language policy also owed to the pre-colonial language policy wherein Persian had emerged as the language of law and administration; and it was still in use. The Moghuls first brought Persian language and culture to the political scene of India. However, its popularity as the preferred medium of political communication and information gathering outlasted the empire; moreover, Persian had become the language of the educated élites who occupied the upper ranks of the Indian administration. Persian also drew Hindu and other nonMuslim groups to its study for the “literary and social, as well as political, benefits that accrued to those conversant with the language of refinement and power.”51 Grant took into consideration the significant position Persian had occupied and urged the British to follow their Mughal predecessors and replace Persian with English. To introduce the language of the conquerors seems to be an obvious mean of assimilating the conquered people to them. The Mahomedans, from the beginning of their power, employed the Persian language in the affairs of government, and in the public departments:


King 58. King 59. 51 Lynn Zastoupil and Moir Martin, The Great Indian Education Debate: Documents Relating to the Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy 1781-1843 (Surrey: Curzon, 1999) 6. 50

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


This practice aided them in maintaining their superiority, and enabled them, instead of depending blindly on native agents, to look into the conduct and details of public business, as well as to keep intelligible registers of the income and expenditure of the state.52

According to Zastoupil and Moir, Grant was no less indebted than Warren Hastings, the first Governor General of British India, to lesson learned from the Indian acumen for a key part of his imperial vision. The conclusions that Grant drew from the history of Persian in South Asia were not without merit. Later reformers proved to be no less inspired than he by the manner in which Indians took to learning foreign languages.53 Though the growing influence of Anglicism subsequently resulted in the increased use of English in the domains of power like judiciary, the British administrators took cautious steps towards the replacement of Persian with English. When asked to respond to this issue, a parliamentary committee suggested that the continuation of Persian was born of “administrative convenience, convenience for the Indians themselves, and, 54 above all; political expediency.” Mackenzie also had warned that any step towards the replacement of Persian with English would deprive “many people” of their livelihood as consequence, and there would be discontent. Such warnings impelled the Court of Directors of continue with Persian in the higher offices of governance. When the British were attempting to consolidate their rule through the East India Company in the late eighteenth century, they found Persian as an already established language of political communication. They also found that a widely spread network of Hindu-Muslim bureaucrats used Persian for keeping the records. However, while resorting to Persian in order to continue with their cultural hegemony the brahmins were very careful regarding not losing their superiority by submerging their identify. C. A. Bayle has argued that the British patronised Persian and used it to train their officials. It was through this Persian-educated class of bureaucrats that the East India Company “made tenuous and ambivalent contact with the traditions of statesmanship and knowledge which informed the great kingdoms of the subcontinent.” Paradoxically, many British also clung to Persian. Although Urdu replaced Persian as the court language after 1837, Urdu had to draw its nouns largely from Persian.


Grant in Zastoupil et al. 85. Tariq Rahman, Language and Politics in Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford U P, 1996) 36. 54 Rahman 36. 53


Chapter Two

Though Urdu was used more widely than Persian or Arabic by the people, it suffered deliberate negligence at the hands of the pre-British rulers. Investigations undertaken by Colonel George Jervis (1794-1832) and Adam indicate that Urdu (Hindustani) had a rich literary tradition. Jervis’s plea for the publication of this literature was grossly neglected. He recommended: They [the Mohammedans] have few books in Persian and fewer still in Arabic, but they have a great variety of tales and poetry, translated from the Persian into the Hindoostanee, or originally composed in Hindoostanee, after the model of celebrated Persian works. Of these, there are many that might be collected and printed with great facility and advantage; and I see no reason why we should altogether set aside books ready made to our hands provided they do not inculcate principles subversive of morality.55

Adam had observed that Urdu was not employed even in those regions inhabited predominantly by the Urdu-speaking, lower caste Bengali Muslims, who disliked the Bengali language. Adam’s observation was indicative of this fact: Although Urdu is more copious and expressive, more cultivated and refined than either [Hindi or Bengali], and possesses a richer and more comprehensive literature, Urdu school-books are wholly unknown. It is the language of conversation in the daily intercourse of life and in the business world, and it is the language also of oral instruction for the explanation of Persian or Arabic, but is never taught or learned for its own sake or for what it contains.56

However, as the British Empire was slowly entrenching itself, the diminution of the Persian language became political expediency. Administrators found it too complex to be transcribed all their documents from vernacular languages through Persian to English and Evangelicals began to see Persian and Arabic education as supports of Islam and preferred English and the vernaculars to Persian.57 Though Thomas B. Macaulay did not make any significant reference to Persian in his Minute

55 R. V. Parulekar, Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay (1820-1830) (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1951) 12. 56 Bayly 286 57 A. H. Benton, Indian Moral Instruction and Caste Problems (New Delhi: Classical Publications, 1978, reprint) 38-41.

Warring Languages: The Rise and Fall of Sanskrit and Persian


of 1835, in some of his minutes for the Committee of Public Instruction, he expressed a hearty wish that it might die out of the country.58 However, more important reason for the erosion of the Persian language was the political suspicion that the British sensed in it. In the minds of some of the officials, Persian was the language of dissidence and its suppression was discrable on political grounds. By the mid-nineteenth century, the British had crystallised the anti-Persian policy very carefully and systematically so as to achieve the complete erosion of Persian. Carefully devised Anglicist policy of the British was intended at the elimination of Persian, which had been prevalent in all the courts under Muslim rule. James Mill, when asked whether English could replace Persian, replied: There is no doubt, that might be done, but I should consider it nearly as great an impropriety as the other. It appears to me, that not only ought the proceedings themselves to be in the language of the parties and their witnesses, but that the record ought to be in that language.59

The possibility of the vernaculars replacing Persian was considered inappropriate by stamping the vernacular as “unstandardised” and they were weeded out in the name of the unintelligibility, owing to the great variety of dialects, differing from district to district and sometimes even within a single district. The Anglicists, at least many ardent among them, preferred English to the vernaculars. Trevelyan notes that the Governor General wanted English “eventually to be the language of public business throughout the country.” In his letter of 9 April, 1834 to William Bentric, he clearly relates the abolition of Persian with the triumph of British imperialism: The abolition of the exclusive privileges which the Persian language in the courts and affairs of court will form the crowning stroke which will shake Hinduism amd Mohammadinism to their centre and firmly establish our language, our learning and ultimately our religion in India.60

Marginalisation of the popular language like Urdu through educational policy had deep impact on the socio-cultural development of the lowercaste Muslims. Under the Mughal Empire, Muslims had occupied substantial share of bureaucratic positions. However, slow erosion of 58

Rahman 36 Rahman 36. 60 Rahman 36. 59


Chapter Two

Persian through the colonial language policy slashed the Muslims’ desire for employment.61 By reformulating the old structure of administration in Bengal, Cornwallis and his successors had edged Muslims out of the revenue collecting system. Muslims continued to hold the posts in judiciary as long as the traditional educational system, which was built around Persian and Urdu continued to prevail.62 As both Persian and Urdu had to give way to English in the mid-nineteenth century, the Muslims had to suffer. As English was made imperative in the public services and the high courts, it became easier for the British to squeeze out the Muslims. Anil Seal’s study shows that after the 1860s, the Muslims began to be forced out of the imperial employment. Their small share in higher education consequently resulted their marginalisation in lucrative employment – both covenanted and uncovenanted. In Punjab, the Hindus were rather quicker in recognising the significance of English and began to enrol their children to English language schools, which became a key reason for growing Hindu dominance in the bureaucracy. The colonial policy of disfavouring Persian and Urdu in Punjab also helped Hindus, who slowly outnumbered Muslims in employment.63 Finally, as Gail Omvedt has argued the closed nature of Sanskrit and Persian resulted in the formation of more closed élite groups in ancient and medieval India. This closed nature of élite was to have deep impact on the language policy in colonial as well as postcolonial India.


In 1837, the Government of Bengal decided to conduct its business either in English or in the local vernaculars. In 1844, the Council of Education began examining candidates for official employment. From 1859, a quarter of the posts of deputy magistrate and deputy collector in the Lower Provinces were reserved for those who knew English. —L. Khatoon quoted in Anil Seal, The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboaration in the Later Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1968) 302. 62 Seal 300-8. 63 Vickie Langohr. “Educational “subcontracting” and the Spread of Religious Nationalism: Hindu and Muslim Nationalist Schools in Colonial India.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 21:1-2 (2001): 42-9.


Orientalism: Strategies of Dominance and Manipulation While attempting to understand Orientalism, it is pertinent to return to Edward Said’s influential book Orientalism. In this scholarly work, Said defines Orientalism as a discovery of the East by the West. Orientalism was a project aimed at the production of the knowledge of the East, which, consequently, was to contribute to expand and strengthen the empire. Said describes Orientalism as ...the corporate institute for dealing about the orient, dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views about it, describing it, settling it, ruling over it, in short, Orientalism as a Western style for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the orient.1

Greatly informed by Foucault’s thesis of Knowledge/Power, Said argues that the construction of knowledge of the other must be seen as a crucial site for the operation of colonial governance: Without examining Orientalism as a understand the enormously systematic culture was able to manage - and even sociologically, militarily, ideologically, during the post-enlightenment period.2

discourse, one cannot possibly discipline by which European produce - the Orient politically, scientifically, and imaginatively

Recently, the Saidian thesis has increasingly come under scrutiny in studies that argue that orientalist understandings were as much shaped by the Westerners as by the indigenous élites. Though Said’s interpretation of Orientalism helps us understand how the study of Indian languages by the 1

Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (1978; Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1995) 3. 2 Said 3.


Chapter Three

Europeans occupied centrality in the colonial enterprise, it hardly helps us understand how the colonial rulers used the pre-colonial structure to establish their rule and how the indigenous élites exhibited willingness to work as the local allies of the British. One of the serious shortcomings of the debate on Orientalism and education is the assumption that educational policy in the early colonial period emerged out of the sole interests of the colonialists and the colonised were its mere victims. It is more useful to draw upon the recent scholarship in the postcolonial discourse, which denies that the entire colonised society consisted of passive victims of colonialism. Recent views project the colonised as the collaborators of the colonisers. A section in the colonised society participated in “the construction of the imperial policies and attitudes.” Thomas Trautmann, for instance, has pointed out one of the serious shortcomings of the Saidian thesis. He has argued that the Saidian thesis is problematic as he has failed to examine the value of Orientalist scholarship, dismissing it not as an open question, but as prejudice. For Said, Orientalism is, more or less, the whole of Western authoritative pronouncements on Asian societies. Trautmann has established the need of expanding the scope of Orientalism. He distinguishes between two kinds of Orientalism on the basis of true knowledge of language that two important types of Orientalists possess. The first is, Orientalism1 (i.e. knowledge produced by Orientalists, scholars who knew Asian languages) and Orientalism2 (European representations of the Orient whether by Orientalists or others).3 Trautmann has shown that though the Orientalists constituted the distinct policy group and had been dominant since the time of Warren Hastings, the British Orientalists by no means were a unitary group: This group constituted a faction promoting education in the vernacular languages; these “Orientalists” were in opposition to the “Anglicists,” Evangelicals, and others who promoted English as a medium of instruction. The Anglicists were also involved in the production of knowledge of a kind Said calls Orientalism. In this case Orientalism1 was one party to a dispute within Orientalism2, and the Saidian expansion of Orientalism, applied in this context, tends to sow confusion where there once was clarity.4


Thomas R Trautmann, Aryans and British India (New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2004) 17. 4 Trautmann 23.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


Trautmann’s thesis helps us understand that colonialism was not essentially an ideological imposition and Orientalism was also not a project initiated and carried out solely by the British. On the contrary, Indians also contributed to the construction of what Said has called Orientalism. Orientalism was essentially a collaborationist project and it rested upon the collaboration, “of a colonial and unequal kind, between European Orientalists and their Indian teachers”. It was based on a direct interchange with the Indian pun‫ڲ‬its who were teachers of language as well as scholarly interlocutors to Orientalists. Rosane Rochar has also pointed out the limitations of the applicability of the Saidian thesis to India. She calls Saidian scholarship a “sweeping” and “passionate” indictment which created a single discourse, undifferentiated in space and time and across political, social, and intellectual identities. Written primarily with the Middle East and Islam in view, it includes India and Hinduism dittoing procedure founded on sparse documentation.5

Orientalism comprised at least four different positions on language policies that have been summarised by Pennycook as follows: First, was what we might call the purist Orientalist, who favoured education in the Asian classics and little else (this was also suggested for both colonised and colonizers). This view on the one hand revered some distant ancient past and on the other saw India in the present in disarray and decline. The way to return to a golden (and, of course, as it turned out, Arean) past was via the classics. Second, two slightly different versions of this position argued that the end goal must nevertheless be to spread Western knowledge, which could be, as a common phrase put it, ‘grafted on’ to the Eastern knowledge already gained; or, more simply, Western knowledge should be spread via the classical languages of Asia. A third position saw the spread of Western knowledge as the key aim of education but considered the best route to be the vernacular languages. Finally, a fourth position was most concerned with education as moral discipline, and was content to use local forms of moral education taught through a vernacular as the best means of achieving this. It is these last two more


Rosane Rochar, “British Orientalism in the Eighteenth Century: The Dialectics of Knowledge and Government” Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer. Eds. (1993; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, [henceforth, Oxford U P] 1994) 215.


Chapter Three pragmatic versions of Orientalism that gained sway in nineteenth-century India.6

Thus, viewing Orientalism as a singularly Western construction (i.e. without any reference to the native collaborators) is highly problematic. The colonial rulers’ dependence on the native collaborators / informants was inevitable though doubts about the efficiency and reliability of the indigenous collaborators / informants were recorded occassionally.7 Nicholas Dirks’s thesis clearly exemplifies how the native informants were instrumental in the construction of the Orientalist knowledge. His study of Colin Mackenzie (1754-1815), who was the first surveyor general of India, shows how the colonial administrators had to depend on the local brahmins. Mackenzie did not know any Indian languages and had to rely on native assistants in his project of “collecting” information about caste and India. Many of the assistants he had employed were brahmin. A brahmin named Kavelli Venkata Boria was his chief assistant and Dirks mentions that Boria was more than an interpreter for Mackenzie and that Boria’s ubiquitous presence is evident in the pages of the Mysore survey.8 Colonialism cannot be seen crudely as rule by force in which the indigenous languages were annihilated and replaced by English. In fact, the colonialists implemented seemingly conflicting language policies including fostering the study of classical languages, like Persian and Sanskrit in the early phase of colonialism and promoting English in the later phase. What was underlying these seemingly contradictory language policies was a degree of consistency, as these varying policies were contrived for and loaded with the function of catering to the needs of the colonial rule and its indigenous allies in India in different phases. Bernard Cohn has shown how the belated discovery of India’s languages was bound up with the acquisition and exercise of territorial domination. Initially, the British had to depend upon Persian for official correspondence and various vernacular languages for trade. Only after taking up direct political authority, did the British begin the study of Indian classical languages. Cohn explains how the study of Indian 6

Alstair Pennycook, English and the Discourses of Colonialism (London: Routledge, 1998) 78. 7 Sir William Jones had pointed out in 1784 to Warren Hastings that “I can no longer bear to be at the mercy of our Punঌits, who deal out Hindu law as they please…” Breckenridge et al. 255. 8 Nicholas Dirks, Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India (2002; Delhi: Permanent Black, 2006) 100-1.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


classical languages had become imperative on the part of the colonial rulers. According to him, British studies of Indian languages, literature, science and thought developed into three major projects: The first involved the objectification and use of Indian languages as instruments of rule to better understand the ‘peculiar’ manners, customs and prejudices of Indians, and to carry out enquiries together information necessary to conciliate and control the peoples of India. The second project entailed what the Europeans defined as ‘discoveries’ of the wisdom of the ancients, the analogy being to the restoration of Greek and Roman thought and knowledge in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This was a European project, the end being to construct a history of the relationship between India and the West, to classify and order and locate their civilizations on an evaluative scale of progress and decay. The third project involved the patronage of institutions and religious and literary specialists who maintained and transmitted - through texts, writing, recitations, painting and sculptures, rituals and performances – that which the British conquerors defined as the traditions of the conquered. To appear legitimate in eyes of the Indians, the British thought they had to demonstrate respect and interest in those Indians and institutions that were the carriers of the traditions.9

All these three projects indicate that Orientalist scholarship was intertwined with the British imperial rule. While commenting on the politics of Orientalism, Gauri Viswanathan argues: Orientalism was adopted as an official policy partly out of expediency and caution and partly out of an emergent political sense that an efficient Indian administration rested on an understanding of “Indian culture”.... Underlying Orientalism was a tacit policy of what one may call reverse acculturation, whose goal was to train British administrators and civil servants to fit into the culture of the ruled and to assimilate them thoroughly into the native way of life.10

The socio-cultural chasm caused by linguistic barrier was always perceived to be so great an impediment to evoke the sentiment that

9 Bernard Cohn. “The Command of Language and the Language of Command.” Subaltern Studies IV: Writing on South Asian History and Society. Ranajit Guha Ed. (Delhi: Oxford U P,1985) 283. 10 Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (1989; New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2000) 28.


Chapter Three we rule over them and traffic with them, but they do not understand our character, and we do not penetrate theirs. The consequence is that we have no hold on their sympathies, no seat in their affections.11

In 1773, Warren Hastings, realising the significance of the Persian language, drafted a proposal for the creation of a professorship in the Persian language at Oxford University. He urged that British civil servants should study Persian and possibly Hindustani (Urdu) before coming to India. Persian was to be the language of diplomacy, administration and the courts of law. In the 1770s and 1780s, he had patronised the study of Persian and the written record of the Mughal Empire as a means of understanding the Indian “constitution”. Cohn has demonstrated that the British recognised the importance of the Persian language once they went to the Mughal Court. Until 1790, the Company had not authorised official action toward providing linguistic training. In 1790, Cornwallis provided each man holding the title of writer (the lowest rank in the Company service) with an extra 30 rupees a month to engage a munshi (tutor) to teach him Persian.12 The British encountered munshis as “language masters”, that is, people who taught them to read and write the Persian script. Though many officials knew some Persian and Hindustani and a small number could write sentences, the British were largely dependent on their clerks to read and interpret the letters they received.13 More particularly, after the battle of Plassey, knowledge of Persian became more pertinent “to develop a system of alliances and treaties with independent princes.” According to Cohn, with the development of grammars, dictionaries and translations from Indian languages, there “began the establishment of discursive formation, [which] defined the epistemological space, created a discourse (Orientalism) and had the effect of converting Indian forms of knowledge into European objects.” During the period 1770-85, which he calls the formative period of colonial rule, the British successfully began the programme of appropriating Indian languages with a view of constructing their own system of rule. David Kopf, among other historians, has established that there were selfish motives behind Orientalism’s exhaustive enquiries, its immense scholarly achievements and discoveries. The Orientalist project was 11

Adam quoted in Viswanathan 28. David Kopf, British Orientalism and Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization 1773-1835 (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1969) 18. 13 C. A. Bayle, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870 (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 1999) 74. 12

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


essentially a political project intended to accumulate more information about the religion, culture and customs prevailing in India. This was to be done by mastering both the classical languages (Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic) and the “vulgar” languages of India. These languages were to be the mediums for the British to “issue commands and collect everincreasing amounts of information.” The project, Cohn argues, was aimed at keeping the British officers well-informed of the Indian affairs and institutions and win over indigenous allies for the raj: This information was needed to create or locate cheap and effective means to assess and collect taxes, maintain law and order, and it served as a way to identify and classify groups within Indian society. Élites had to be found within Indian society who could be made to see that they had an interest in the maintenance of British rule. Political strategies and tactics had to be created and codified into diplomacy through which the country powers could be converted into allied dependencies. The vast social world that was India had to be classified, categorized and bounded before it could be hierarchized.14

Despite the fact that Charles Grant, Wilberforce, other missionaries and Anglicists were arguing in favour of English, Anglicism remained a minor concern for the East India Company until 1823. The political development in India under the East India Company in the early nineteenth century forced the Company to favour the Orientalist policy with regard to language and education. In the early phase of its rule, the East India Company had to negotiate formally with a pre-existing political and social order. The company had established its power in the confines of a well-established political and social order. Lynn Zastoupil and Martin Moir argue that if other empires have had their origins in outright conquest that resulted in the imposition of new institutions and traditions, the British Raj was characterised in its founding period by shrewd adaptation to and skilful manipulation of existing political institutions, social customs and cultural symbols.15 This argument is historically untenable as the earlier rulers, particularly, the Mughals had neither attempted nor succeeded in, what Zastoupil and Moir call, “the imposition of new institutions and traditions.” It is argued in Chapter 2 that the domoinance of the Hindu élites in the medieval period had continued unabated. 14

Cohn 283-4. Lynn Zastoupil and Martin Moir, The Great Indian Education Debate: Documents Relating to the Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy, 1781–1843 (Surrey: Curzon, 1999) 4. 15


Chapter Three

The British were determined to make maximum use of the Indian resources and social institutions to substantiate their position. The Muslim and the Hindu élites including the brahmins, that the British had to confront with, were of great concern to the British. Some scholars have also shown how the British, for their own interest, made English education a matter of upper caste-class affair among the Hindus and Muslims and relegated the lower castes to the margin. Hence, in the early phase of its rule the Company had to seek the indigenous élites’ help. The early officers of the Company had realised that it was not possible for them to succumb to the conciliatory practices and assure these élites that the new rule was not to pose any threat to their position in the hierarchy. In the realm of education, consequently, it was imperative for the Company to frame the policies to conciliate the élites. This also was the period when Europe had come under the influence of the enthusiastic vogue for Oriental languages and classics. At the same time, some missionaries and government officials had supported the cause of English. However, Zastoupil and Moir believe that most of these Anglicists were London-based and hardly had any first hand experience of the political situation in India. Formulating policy in London was different from implementing it in India and the British administrators were reluctant to implement the Anglicist policy in India. However, it may be argued that the London-based policy-makers had not been supportive only of English. The evidence to argue so is that they had sent a dispatch in 1830 urging the use of vernaculars in teaching “useful knowledge”. The authorities in London had suggested that if Persian were to be displaced as the language of public business, it would be sensible to replace it by vernaculars rather than by English. What is important is not which language they insisted on, but the unanimity among the Anglicists and the vernacularists over the utility of European knowledge as “useful knowledge.”16 Ballhatchet had expressed the view in 1951 that both the Anglicists as well as the vernacularists agreed on the need to teach Western knowledge but such a hard-line Utilitarian as James Mill at the East-India House thought vernacular languages rather than English could be used.17 The vernacularists did not seriously challenge the utility or relevance of the classical languages in modern education.18 16

Kenneth Ballhatchet, “The Importance of Macaulay” Royal Asiatic Society of Great of Britain and Ireland. No. 1, (1990) 92. 17 Ballhatchet 1990 91-2. 18 The position of the Sarvajanik Sabha, an organisation of the liberal upper-caste intellectuals in Pune fighting for the inclusion of the vernacular languages in the curricular framework of the Bombay University during the 1880s, had an

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


As part of pronounced commitment to the improvement of the intellectual and moral condition of the Indian people, the British officers directed their attention to the revival and encouragement of the brahminical literature in the name of Orientalism, keeping aside the recommendations of the Anglicists. Thus, the experiment of the education of the people of India commenced under the Company’s auspices. The purpose of the education was not to introduce the “superior lights” of the West, as Charles Grant envisaged it to be, but to raise Oriental learning from its projected state of decline at that time.19 Thus, dependence of the colonial rulers on the indigenous élites for redeeming Oriental wisdom created a possibility of alignment between the two groups. Indeed the indigenous élites were not politically as powerful and influential as the colonial rulers. However, assuming that their presence was insignificant, many postcolonial scholars refuse to acknowledge their existence. Consequently, their studies remain lopsided and, at times, flawed.

Rationalisation of Orientalism The British had to remain dependent on the indigenous learned castes and other literate members during the early phase of colonialism. As the British gained more political power in India, education system was increasingly brought under the control of the Company. Politically, the Company had succeeded the Hindu and Muslim rulers, who had encouraged learning in classical languages by i) establishing madrasƗs and pƗthƗĞƗlƗs ii) giving marks of honour or pecuniary grants to learned

ambivalent position of the role of Sanskrit. In of the petitions submitted by the Sabha to the government, the case was pleaded in these terms: A knowledge of both these languages [English and Sankrit] is undoubtedly of great value to the University graduate. By his acquaintance with English, he is in a position to know how Europe thinks, feels, and acts; by his knowledge of a classical, he is able to read the thoughts and feelings of a remote past by which those of the present are directly or indirectly moulded and colored. —“Indian Vernaculars and University Reforms.” The Quarterly Journal of the Sarvajanik Sabha IV:2 (Oct. 1881) 10. 19 B. K. Boman-Behram, Educational Controversies in India: The Cultural Conquest of India under British Imperialism (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons and Co. 1943) 15.


Chapter Three

pun‫ڲ‬its and maulavis, or by iii) endowing educational institutions for higher religious studies.20 The Company’s administration needed a class of administrators, which led to the institution of seminaries for the promotion of Oriental learning. The upper caste Hindus had served the earlier rulers like the Mughals by learning the then languages of political administration. Warren Hastings was one of the early administrators who laid the foundation of Orientalism in India towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was a formative phase of modern Indian education. He favoured indigenisation as a means of governance. He thought that inasmuch as the British servant was expected to work alongside his Asian counterpart in the administrative hierarchy, the Englishman would have to think and act like an Asian. Otherwise, he feared, the British would be treated as aliens, rapport between the ruler and the ruled would break down and the empire would ultimately collapse.21 Hastings understood that the Company’s rule required detailed information about Indian culture, religion, etc. for further substantiation of power. In Gauri Viswanathan’s words, Hastings had clearly understood the driving force of Orientalism.22 In 1778, Hastings was approached by a delegation of Muslims, who appealed him to found a madrassa for the study of Islamic law and other traditional subjects. Himself proficient in Persian, Hastings wholeheartedly patronised Islamic learning by responding positively to the petition submitted by “a considerable Number of Mussulman of Credit and Learning” to open a MadrasƗ in Calcutta. Realising many benefits thereof, a “Muhammadan MadrasƗ” was opened at Calcutta in 1781 and endowned with lands that brought it an annual income of Rupees 29,000. Its aim was to “qualify the sons of Muhammadan gentlemen for responsible and lucrative offices in the state”.23 He had foreseen the government’s need in future of an “adequate supply of trained jurists for the local court.” The 20

Syed Nurullah and J. P. Naik. A Students’ History of Education in India (18001965) (1945; Calcutta: The Macmillan Company of India Private Ltd., 1971) 31-2. 21 Kopf 18. 22 Hastings wrote: [...]every accumulation of knowledge, and especially such as is obtained by social communication with people over whom we exercise a dominion founded on the right of conquest, is useful to the state: it is the gain of humanity. —Viswanathan 28. 23 For more information about the madrasƗ, refer to Warren Hastings’s Minute in Zastoupil et al. 73-6.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


need of such a college was felt more by the Muslim élites than by the Company. But Hastings was instrumental in establishing the Madrassa. The idea of Madrassa originally had not been his. The initiative taken by the Muslim élites with regard to the college makes it clear that colonialism was not a brutal force that was imposed on the colonised coercively only; however, there was a section in the colonised society that viewed the colonial rule as an opportunity to retain its hegemonic position. Hence, this section accepted the new rule positively and began to negotiate with the new rulers strategically. Hastings’s decision to establish MadrasƗ or Mohammedan College was a well-calculated move intended to achieve several goals at once. The British could win the Indians’ confidence and favourable opinion by continuing the tradition of patronage. Peter Marshal has argued persuasively that Hastings’s imperial vision was informed by a profound concern for reconciliation. Linking both his practical concerns for conciliating Indians and his personal scholarly activities was a systematic attempt to reconcile the people of both South Asia and Britain to the newly emerging British rule: “Indians were to be reconciled to British rule by finding that Englishmen respected and admired their laws, their religion and their institutions.”24 Another function that the MadrasƗ had to serve was to recruit the Persian-educated Muslim juries to run the judicial machinery. The British needed well-trained individuals to assist in the judicial administration of Bengal. Accordingly, Hastings sent for the learned scholar referred to by the petitioners “to accept the Office designed for him.”25 Around 1780, the East India Company ceased to apply English law to Indian cases. In 1780, the Parliament ordered that in cases relating to social and religious matters, the Hindu law was to be applied to a Hindu, and the Mohammedan law to a Mohammedan. This required a new class of jury proficient in the classical languages and well informed in the religious matters. In the words of Howell, the MadrasƗ was designed “to conciliate the Mohamedan gentleman for responsible and lucrative offices in the state, and to produce competent officers for the Courts of Justice to which students of the MadrasƗ on the production of certificates of qualification were to be drafted as vacancies occurred.26 24

Zastoupil et al. 4. Warren Hastings, “Minute by Warren Hastings, Governor General of Fort William (Calcutta) in Bengal, recorded in the Public Department, 17 April, 1781.” in Zastoupil et al. 74. 26 K. S. Vakil and S. Natrajan, Education in India (1948; Calcutta: Allied Publishers, 1966) 84. 25


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Acutely conscious of the precariousness of British power and personally sympathetic to the Oriental studies, Hastings was responsible for establishing in some circles Orientalism as the official policy and for forging an imperial vision that lasted well into the middle of nineteenth century.27 Hastings wanted the British rulers to secure and consolidate their power by reasoning to act like the Indians and accommodating to Indian laws, opinions, customs and attitudes. He thought that understanding the needs of the colonial state as well as the Indian situation was politically necessary both because it would be impossible to impose British laws and institutions upon India and because their Indian subjects seemed to expect the British to act like the South Asian rulers.28

The policy of Indianisation of the British rule indirectly helped the élites both in the Hindu and the Muslim communities to retain their cultural dominance. The educational institutions established in this phase and the language policies pertaining to them had become the actual sites wherein the colonial rulers and the indigenous élites mutually negotiated. In this alliance, the colonial rulers had assured autonomy of the cultural spheres of both the communities. The so-called guardians of precolonial culture found some satisfaction and security under the new rule. The other institution which was established in pursuance of the Orientalist policy was the Hindu College in Banaras.29 In 1791, Jonathan Duncan (1756-1811), the Resident at Banaras, following the example set by Hastings, proposed to the Government the appropriation of a portion of the surplus revenue of the province to the establishment and maintenance of a Hindu college. The political purpose of Duncan’s proposition was to substantiate the imperial rule. Like Hastings, Duncan had astutely perceived the political necessity of cultivating traditional Hindu learning at a place, which had had a long tradition of patronising the brahminical seminaries. Duncan


Zastoupil et al. 2. Zastoupil et al. 2-3. 29 Banaras had emerged as a seat of learning after the Aryans had advanced eastwards from the Indus basin to the Ganges basin and settled there. It was so significant a place of ancient learning that every religious leader who desired to propagate his doctrine felt compelled to preach it first to its renowned pun‫ڲ‬its and shastris. It is noteworthy here that the Buddha and Kabir, though they were opposed to the brahminical order, had to go to Banaras to defeat the pun‫ڲ‬its. 28

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


specifically mentioned two advantages this proposed institution could generate: Two important advantages seemed derivable from such an Establishment, the first to the British name and nation, in its tendency towards endearing our Government to the native Hindoos, by exceeding in our attention towards them and their systems….30

Duncan’s far-sightedness is evident in his plan of establishing a reference library of Hindu religion, laws, arts or sciences. His imperial diplomacy is more explicit in the second advantage: The 2nd principal advantage that may be derived from this Institution will be felt in its effects, more immediately, by the natives, tho’ not without being participated in by the British Subjects, who are to Rule over them, by preserving and disseminating a knowledge of the Hindoo Law, and proving a nursery of future Doctors and Expounders thereof to assist the European Judges in the due regular, and uniform administration of its genuine Letter and Spirit to the body of the people.31

Thus, if Hastings’s MadrasƗ was a means to appease the influential Muslims of the times, Duncan’s Hindu College was to appease the upper caste Hindus. Duncan argues for the College in terms of the political benefits to be gained from demonstrating the British Government’s positive support for Hindu scholarly élites, and partly by pointing to the practical advantage of securing a future body of reliable Hindu legal experts to assist in the administration of justice.32 Both the advantages foreseen by Duncan were political in nature. Zastoupil and Moir have argued that Duncan went one step further than Hastings: while Hastings had responded to an appeal to uphold a tradition among rulers throughout the Islamic world, Duncan argued that the British should outdo their predecessors by founding the first public institution of Sanscritic learning in Banaras. The courses designed for the two institutions were purely Oriental and conformed to the classical learning in Arabic and Sanskrit. In the case of the Banaras College, it was expressly laid down as a rule that the

30 Jonathan Duncan, “Part of a letter from Jonathan Duncan, resident at Benaras, to Earl Cornwallis, governor-general in council of Fort William in Bengal, dated 1 January 1792.” in Zastoupil 78. 31 Zastoupil et al. 78. 32 Zastoupil et al. 77.

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discipline of the college was “to be conformable in all respects to the Dharma Sastra in the chapter on education.”33 Realising the political gains of this institution, Lord Cornwallis not only approved of Duncan’s proposal immediately but also assured that, in case of no surplus revenue accrued, the expenditure of the college would be charged to the government. The MadrasƗ and the Hindu College marked the beginning of higher education in colonial India. Both of them were the peculiar products of the alliance of the colonial rulers and the indigenous élites. These institutions fostered the educational policy, which was aimed at the revival of brahminical learning through the medium of Sanskrit and Mohammedan learning through the medium of Arabic or Persian. These institutions were to become the prototypes of the other colleges to be established according to the Orientalist policy. The kind of education and language policy evolved from these institutions were considered by the government “prudent and expedient” for about the next forty years.

Orientalism in Western India The final Maratha war, which culminated in the defeat of the Peshwa, had indirect but lasting impact on the educational policy and the structure of languages in Western India. With this war ended the Peshwa régime, which was tyrannical and oppressive to an unprecedented extent. However, the new rule was not diametrically opposed to the earlier rule. The new colonial rulers could not afford to have a complete breakaway from the pre-colonial cultures and religious practices, which were aimed at appeasing the upper crusts of the society. Zastoupil and Moir have formulated the phrase “empire-of-opinion” to describe the strategy employed by the administrators in the early nineteenth century. According to the strategy, a favourable impression had to be cultivated among Indians’ if the raj was to last. The empire-ofopinion group took strong aversion to the reformers and the missionaries in India as they were considered a potential threat to both the Company and its subjects. The group encouraged respect for Indians and their culture arguing that the British should build their rule upon the solid foundation of South Asian traditions and institutions. However, what they understood by Indian culture was the élite / high culture. Zastoupil and Moir have further argued that this group was not outrightly opposed to reformation; however, they were of the view that reforms should be 33

Boman-Behram 20-1.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


introduced slowly and cautiously and only after the British had familiarised themselves with what was good and useful in established customs and institutions. They thought the British mission was to “reinvigorate and not to replace.” Zastoupil and Moir’s interpretation of the establishment and perpetuation of the early British rule is very different from the traditional postcolonial interpretations. Unlike the postcolonial critics, these authors consider colonialism a collaborative project in which the active participation of the colonised and their sanction to the rule were considered indispensable. However, the point that is overlooked in both— postcolonial school’s understanding of Indian society and that of these authors—is that Indian society was not essentially homogeneous. Any vague reference to or use of the notion “Indian Society” makes it an imagined community. Such an approach tends to undermine the fact that not the whole of Indian society but the upper caste groups were the real beneficiaries of the colonial rule. During and after the war, a new school of British administrators, who shared an imperial ideology, rose to prominence. Key members of this group included Thomas Munro, Mountstuart Elphinstone34 and Sir John Malcolm, who occupied high offices and played major roles in the administration of India in the 1820s. The ideology they shared was in many respects an extension of Hastings’s views and policies. Like Hestings, they paid much attention to conciliating disaffected Indian elites, respecting local customs and institutions, promoting preferably friendly relations with Indians of all classes and generally rejuvenating what was believed to be an ancient civilisation gone temporarily bad in modern times.35 Having become more confident of their political and military domination, the British, after the 1820s, had begun to deploy altogether new cultural strategies to negotiate with their Indian subjects. The earlier 34

Elphinstone wrote in 1823: ...the dangers to which we are exposed from the sensitive character of the religion of the natives, and the slippery foundation of our Government, owing to the total separation between us and our subjects, require the adoption of some measures to counteract them, and the only one is, to remove their prejudice, and to communicate our own principles and opinions by the diffusion of rational education. —Mountstuart Elphinstone. Selections from the Minutes and Other Official Writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone. George W. Forrest. Ed. (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1884) 101-2. 35 Zastoupil et al. 9-10.


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régimes had concentrated on trade, commerce and administrative regulations that could not break the feudal matrix of the society. The new rulers initiated new cultural politics and established different structures of relationship with the Indian subjects. Quite conscious of their domination, the British spoke with the self-assurance of victors. They designed a very comprehensive and all-pervasive plan, which was to be implemented very carefully and skillfully in order to perpetuate their rule. Mountstuart Elphinstone’s Minute (on Education), dated March 1824, covers a variety of forms and a range of topics pertinent to the colonial rule.36 In his famous Minute of 1835, Macaulay found only barbarism in India and abused Indian literature as worthless. Like Charles Grant and James Mill, he saw European knowledge as a panacea to Indian despotism. Elphinstone’s Minute predates Macaulay’s. Unlike Macaulay, Elphinstone did not summarily dismiss Indian system of knowledge. Instead, he devised his strategy more shrewdly and created space for the indigenous élites. Conscious of the adversity that the colonial intervention in the traditional education system might cause, Elphinstone warned against any kind of alteration in the existing order. He crestalised the policy whereby the choice before the British was not whether “to encourage Brahmin learning or European learning, but…to encourage the brahmin learning or none at all.” He was extremely careful about the privileges of the brahmins and thought that the slightest breach in them would result in “the dissolution of our empire”. As the British were conscious of the stability of their rule, they were also keenly aware of the fragile nature of their power. This consciousness compelled Elphinstone to follow the policy of conciliation, which was first propounded by Hastings half a century before. Elphinstone had to play a direct role in the development of educational policy after 1823. One of the serious challenges posed to the British rule in the aftermath of the Maratha war was that of pacifying the brahmins of Pune, who were the greatest beneficiary of the Peshwa régime. He was very much conscious of the dangers involved in rapid reforms and preferred “some gradual and cautious changes”; his primary emphasis was on conciliation. Elphinstone was extremely conscious of the caste cleavage that existed in the Indian society. He kept this reality in mind while framing the 36 J. Masselos, “The Discourse from the Other Side: Perceptions of Science and Technology in Western India in the Nineteenth Century,” N. K. Wagle Ed., Writers, Editors and Reformers: Social and Political Transformations of Maharashtra: 1830-1930, (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1999) 114.

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education policy. He did not stamp the Hindu learning as an utter lie and refused to abandon it totally. He argued that it would be preposterous to begin by the destruction of the indigenous literature. He wrote: There are already many schools in all towns and in many villages; but reading is confined to Brahmins and Banias and such of the agricultural classes as have to do with accounts. I am not sure that our establishing free schools would alter this state of things and it might create a suspicion of some concealed design on our part.37

In this phase of colonial rule, the British could not substantiate their rule without befriending the upper castes. Elphinstone had understood very well that the Mughals were quite unsuccessful in replacing these sections of the Hindu society. Though educational policy in this phase owes a lot to Elphinstone, several of the main contents in it may be traced back to the educational beginnings that were made before and independently of it. He had to frame his policies, considering the precolonial language situation and structures of power in India. Elphinstone’s Minute reflects a very shrewd design of strategies intended at pacifying the old élites in Western India. He established the necessity of the education of the natives and noted that the promotion of native education required considerable assistance from the Government. More help was required in Western India than on the eastern side as “the number of Europeans here [was] so small and…connection with the natives so recent.”38 He was careful not to continue the earlier policy of education, which had produced learned people in abundance: The great body of the people are quite illiterate; yet there is a certain class in which men capable of reading, writing and instructing exist in much greater numbers than are required, or can find employment. This is a state of things which cannot long continue. The present abundance of people of education is owing to the demand there was under the Mahratha Government. That cause has now ceased, the effect will soon follow, and unless some exertion is made by the Government, the country will certainly be in a worse state under our rule than it was under the Peshwa’s.39

37 A. L. Covernton. “The Educational Policy of Mountstuart Elphinstone.” Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series) Vol.-II (1926): 55-6. 38 Elphinstone 80. 39 Elphinstone 83.


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The Minute appears to be a carefully drafted document, which reflects a conglomeration of interests and differentiated language policy for predominantly three caste-class groups, viz. the brahmins, the “lower order” and the newly emerging trading caste-class. First, he proposed that the “native (vernacular) school” should be encouraged to secure very general improvement in the education of the lower order and the “schoolmoney” should be taken from the gross income of the village. Secondly, he very cautiously talked about the introduction of European knowledge in Pune College (Sanskrit College), which was established in 1821 in order to satiate the brahmins of Pune. He decided to continue running Pune College though he was very well aware of the vulnerability of the kind of education being imparted there. He definitely insisted that Indian education must be founded on India’s previous knowledge. Thirdly, he foresaw the establishment of a college of European sciences in Bombay.

Vernacularism and the Colonial Bureaucracy It is neither our aim nor desire to substitute the English language for the vernacular dialects of the country. We have always been most sensible of the importance of the use of the languages which alone are understood by the great mass of the population. These languages, and not English, have been put by us in the place of Persian in the administration of justice, and in the intercourse between the officers of the Government and the people.40 —Dispatch from the Court of Directors to the Governor General of India in Council, dated July 19th, 1854.

The vernacularists supported the cause of vernaculars not because the vernaculars were endangered under colonialism; vernaculars were seen as better media for disseminating Western ideology. They were considered more effective carriers of the colonial ideology as they could reach wider masses. Some scholars argue that the language of the colonisers was a potential threat to the vernaculars. Such an understanding grossly overlooks the complexity involved in the colonial language policy. Many scholars have argued for long that the highest priority of the colonisers was to impose their own language on the colonised and the suppression of the


Copy of Dispatch from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor General of India in Council, dated July 19th, 1854 No. 49, 4.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


vernaculars.41 The superimposition of the colonial language over the language(s) of the subject people has often been seen as a tool of conquest without which the insidious webs of coercion and domination could not have been knitted. Ngugi Wa Thiong’O points out: “The domination of a people’s language by the languages of the colonizing nations was crucial to the domination of the mental universe of the colonised.”42

P. Sudhir argues that colonialism demonstrated significant proclivity to appropriate the languages of the conquered people, and to impose upon them an alien and alienating language, thus to control and transform not merely their modes of communications, but through such control, the very modes of thought and perception that determine the daily lives of people. Such an approach to colonialism and its engagement with the indigenous culture is severely flawed. It sees colonialism as rule by coercion and refuses to see it as cultural conquest. Recent postcolonial scholarship has made it crystal clear that, apart from force, the colonial rulers followed discursive cultural practices in order to establish and perpetuate their rule. Instead of suppressing the languages of the colonised, the colonisers harnessed these languages to their imperial mission. The British could not have established and consolidated their rule without grafting it on, what Cohn calls, “Indian principles.” The colonisers could win culturally over the colonised by studying their languages. The study of the languages of the colonised was necessitated because the ever-growing empire required “increased” and “authentic” knowledge of local conditions. Many agents of the East India Company in the early phase of colonial rule were not conversant with the vernaculars of India. According to Percival Spear, most Company agents were “frequently ignorant of the country languages and the debased Portuguese,….the lingua franca of the coast, was all they acquired.”43 Hastings astutely understood the significance of learning the vernaculars of India and overcoming the crosscultural barriers. Himself proficient in South Asian languages, he saw a direct correlation between an acculturated civil servant and an efficient


P. Sudhir, “Colonialism and the Vocabularies of Dominance,” in Tejaswini Niranjana Ed., Interrogating Modernity (Calcutta: Seagull Books, 1993) 334-7. 42 Sudhir 334. 43 Kopf 14.


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one. As has been pointed out earlier, he sought “to understand Indian culture as a basis for sound Indian administration.” For most of the English officers sent out to the districts, “it was a journey into the unknown in more than one sense.” They knew little about the intricate laws of property or about the quasi-feudal rights and obligations that were determined by local traditions. Therefore, it was of expedient for the Company servants to learn vernaculars of India in order to carry out the work of assessing and collecting revenues and adjudicating land disputes.44 In order to bridge the cultural gap between the ruler and the ruled, Hastings had designed a new cultural policy in which he aimed at creating an orientalised service élite competent in Indian languages and responsive to Indian traditions. Hastings, who attempted the Indianisation of Englishmen knew that the quickest route to the heart of a people is through the language of the country and had accordingly proficiency in Bengali and Urdu, besides a fair acquaintance with Persian, the language of the Muslim court. Sitting in a remote Bengali town, with ample leisure for reflection, Hastings wondered at the vastness of the country, its richness and variety, and above all the antiquity and splendour of its civilization. 45

However, while doing so, care was taken to assert the hegemonic claims of the British. Cohn argues that the development of grammars, dictionaries, treatises and translations from Indian languages had the effect of “converting Indian forms of knowledge into European objects”. English Grammar of Bengal (1778) by Nathaniel B. Halhed (1750-1831), according to Cohn, was “part of a large project that would stabilize and perpetuate the British rule in Bengal.” After having faced a lot of difficulties with regard to translation of the matters in Indian languages, the British began to device the modalities whereby the job of collecting information could be done. This information was needed to facilitate the colonial need of collecting taxes, rejuvenating tax pattern, maintaining law and order, knowing customs and traditions and identifying and classifying groups within Indian society. Cohn argues that a class of élites had to be formed within Indian society who could be made to see that they had an interest in the maintenance of the British rule.


Modhumita Roy ““Englishing” India: Reinstituting Class and Social Privilege” Social Text 39 (1994) 86. 45 Kopf 15.

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In the initial phase of colonialism, the British employed Indians (Akhund, Banyan, Dalal, Dubhashi, Gomasthah, Munshi, Pun‫ڲ‬it, Shroff and Vakil) on whom they were dependent for the information and knowledge to carry out their commercial ventures. When the British succeeded in taking charge of the islands of Bombay, they had to use Marathi for the correspondence with the Maratha rulers and the traders. The record on King Shivaji (1630-80) shows that the British had employed many Hindus such as the one named Ram Shenavi to do this job.46 However, in the wake of the ever-expanding empire, the British realised that this project was neither viable nor sustainable. Moreover, the Indians’ ability to transmit and translate information was always doubted. The colonial authority could not afford to be so helplessly dependent on these translators. Sir William Jones (1746-1794) had expressed his contempt for the brahmin translators in the 1790s. Jones describes his sense of helpless dependence on the unreliable pun‫ڲ‬its: I am proceeding slowly, but the study of Sanscrit; for I can no longer bear to be at the mercy of our punঌits, who deal out Hindu law as they please, and make it at reasonable rates, when they cannot find it at ready made.47

Therefore, simultaneously, the British had begun training their administrators in the vernaculars of India. Jones had expressed, as early as 1777, in his Grammar of Persian Language, the need for East India Company officials to learn the languages of Asia. Keeping in tune with the policy of Hastings, Wellesley founded Fort William College in 1800 for the sole purpose of training young recruits from Britain in Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic and other Indian languages. The college boasted excellent departments of Indian classical and vernacular languages and employed thirty-three munshis who worked in conjunction with noted Orientalists such as H. T. Colebrook, John Gilchrist, Francis Gladwin and William Carey.48 P. Sudhir’s study also demonstrates that Telugu language was made a necessary adjunct of the economic and political conquest. The early need of accumulating information was met, to a large extent, by the dubhƗ‫܈‬Ɨs, 46

A. K. Priyolkar, “MumbaicƗ MarƗ৬hƯcƗ VƗrasƗ.” HindusthƗnce Don DarvƗje. A. K. Priyolkar. Ed. (Mumbai: The Goa Hindu Association, 1974) 19. 47 Teltscher Kate, India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600-1800 (1995; Delhi: Oxford U P, 1997) 196. 48 Modhumita Roy. “The Englishing of India: Class Formation and Social Privilege.” Social Scientist 21.240-241 (May-June 1993): 40.


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the bilinguals. However, when the dubhƗ‫܈‬Ɨs were becoming in the Company’s eyes increasingly disreputable and untrustworthy, the officers of the Company were forced to study Telugu. To ensure this, acquisition of language skills was made a precondition for career advancement.49 Rosane Rochar’s study shows that until the end of the eighteenth century, the British were not prepared to play the role that they did in the nineteenth century, i.e., that of the rulers. The East India Company had not been eager to assume the direct administration. Therefore, until the end of the eighteenth century, the Company did not feel compelled to train its servants in the duties of colonial administrators. The eighteenth century administrators were not compelled to study the regional languages. However, the nineteenth century administrators had to undergo courses in the regional languages. The administrators in Bombay Presidency were very much keen on training the European employees in the vernaculars. Elphinstone himself used to spend four hours a week to learn Marathi.50 In 1820, he made achieving proficiency in the vernaculars mandetory to the European servants. Stringent steps were initiated to examine their proficiency in the native languages. The Junior Civil servants had to pass the test of translating from English into Hindoostanee a dialogue and two stories. The examiners were to pay strict attention to the “Gentleman’s acquaintance with the general rules of Hindoostanee Grammar.” The entire scheme was aimed at i) enabling them to transact any public business without the assistance of a native; ii) protecting the state from the expressed possibility of the officers being misled by the native and iii) help them develop the conversational skills with which they could converse with the natives on ordinary subjects without the intervention of a third person.51 A desire was also expressed that the civil servants should be able to translate readily and intelligibly from “English into the language he is examined and vice versa letters and petitions on business and extracts.” The officers were also expected to acquire the competence of translating “all the technical terms of law and revenue required for the transaction of business.” The conquest of new territories in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries demanded far better training of the servants. Until the 49

Sudhir 336. T. E. Colebrook, The Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Vol. - I. (London: John Murray ,1884) 77. 51 Maharashtra State Archives, General Department, [henceforth, MSA, GD] Vol. - 9/10, 1821-22, 316. 50

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end of the eighteenth century, British lads as young as fifteen years old were sent to India to become “writer” in the East India Company. In the College of Fort William at Calcutta, which was the “University of the East” and founded by Marquess Wellesley, the writers had to undergo a three-year course before proceeding to their posts in Bengal, Madras and Bombay. The course included the study of three classical languages (Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit), six modern languages (Hindustani, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil and Kannada) and Indian law.52 Apart from creating the English-educated class of bureaucrats, English education had a more important political function to perform. The indigenous colonised society would have considered the British less alien, if both the rulers and the ruled had shared the same language, English. The Anglicists had expressed their fear about the formidable distance, which was placed between the indigenous society and their foreign rulers by differences of language, customs, manners, culture and religion. This distance was always present in the minds of British administrators and statesmen as a source of danger and insecurity to British dominion.53 It was thought that the most practicable way of abolishing the differences of culture and civilisation was the cultural assimilation of the ruled by the ruler. Trevelyan said, “The Indians will, I hope, soon stand in the same position towards us in which we once stood towards the Romans.”54 T. B. Macaulay’s Minute expressed, unambiguously the desire of creating a class of Indians that could be culturally assimilated and could work as interpreters between the rulers and the ruled: I feel....that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern - a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions in words and in intellect.55

The vernacularists had not taken any ideological departure from the Orientalists or the Anglicists. They shared the Orientalist positions. All three looked at European knowledge as a panacea to Indian backwardness. They all aimed at Europeanizing Indian mind.


Trautmann 113-4. Boman-Behram 238. 54 Boman-Behram 239. 55 Boman-Behram 240. 53

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Vernacularism in Western India Drawing inspiration from Elphinstone, the Bombay Native Education Society was established in Bombay to spread modern education among the people. The Society was implementing a two-tier education system. Though it was thought that English was of secondary importance in effecting mental and “moral improvement” of the Indian people, the Society also conducted a few English schools in order to “render those few scholars, who evince an inclination and have leisure to continue their studies in English language, capable of all kinds of marks on literature and science.”

Elphinstone had a long-lasting influence on the educational policy in Western India. Being part of the empire-of-opinion group, crucial was his profound conviction that favourable impression among Indians had to be cultivated, if the raj was to last. He was distrustful of the reformers and missionaries of India since he believed both were likely to offend the Company’s subjects. The empire-of-opinion group encouraged respect for Indians and their culture.56 Elphinstone was not in favour of destabilising the foundation on which the Indian social structure was based. Instead of deconstructing the fabric of Indian society, he wanted to recast it conveniently and make it suitable for colonial exploitation. The hierarchical structure was not to be replaced but to be reinvigorated. Zastoupil and Moir assert that the empire-ofopinion group strengthened the tendency to emphasise the revival of traditional Indian culture, a tendency that had largely characterised the East India Company’s educational policy since Hastings. Their views gave firm support to the notion of slow and careful engraftment of Western ideas and practices. Elphinstone’s language policy was very much consistent with his orthodox view of society. Though Elphinstone was acutely conscious of the importance of English and conceived of a college at Bombay to promote European knowledge through English, he did not override the role of vernaculars in educating the masses. Deeply influenced by the orthodox ideology of the eighteenth century England, he relegated English schooling to a subordinate place in his educational policy and tried to bolster up the


Zastoupil et al. 10.

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landed aristocracy through the revival of indigenous learning in places like Pune.57 He proposed the revival of the native schools, which were in mess and deeply entrenched in the caste-feudal structure of Indian society. The revival aimed at creating the discursive space for the diffusion of the colonial ideology and subsuming the lower orders of the society into the lower rungs of the colonised social structure: The encouragement to be afforded to native schools is a point of greater difficulty, but is one of utmost importance, and one which, if properly made use of, would be sufficient to secure very general improvement in the education of the lower order.58

He also revised a plan of granting prizes in the form of books, medals and certificates to the scholars who showed most proficiency in the examinations. Another traditional and “acceptable” form of prize was chosen to be awarded to the schoolmasters who would produce the greatest number of well-qualified scholars. These prizes included printed books or tables and a shelƗ and turban.

George Jervis: Empire by Opinion We have gained our empire, as much by public opinion, as by conquest.59 —Colonel Jervis

In Bengal Presidency, the British had consolidated their rule much earlier than in the rest of the presidencies. Relatively, English education was more deeply rooted in this presidency. In some of the other regions like Agra, various local factors had led the local officers to focus on vernacular elementary education instead of English education. However, in Bombay Presidency, owing to the predominance of the citpƗvan brahmins in the Pune region, Elphinstone was compelled to devise language policy very diplomatically. While giving due importance to English, he succeeded in giving the impression that neither Sanskrit nor Marathi suffered negligence.

57 Bruce Tiebout McCully, English Education and the Origins of Indian Nationalism (1940; Peter Smith: Gloucester, Mass, 1966); Boman-Behram 499-500. 58 Elphinstone 88. 59 R. V. Parulekar, Survey of Indigenous Education in the Province of Bombay (1820-1830) (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1951) 13.


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In Bombay Presidency, officials struck with Elphinstone’s plans for both improving vernacular education at the district level and introducing advanced English instruction at various central schools. The language policy devised by Elphinstone was bound to breed hierarchical relationship between languages. Colonel George Risto Jervis60 was one of those administrators who vehemently supported the cause of vernacularism. However, his support for vernacularism was motivated by the exigencies of colonial power. He submitted a lengthy and detailed Minute in support of the use of vernacular as a medium of instruction. He opened this controversy on Anglicism versus Vernacularism in Bombay Presidency in this strategically authored Minute. Initially, Jervis’s attempt of translating the scientific texts from English into Marathi was applauded in the governmental circles. He exhibited a professional acumen in translation and a tremendous zeal for the cause of education in general. He translated books on mathematics, drawing, architecture and building. It was argued that, in spite of hard efforts, only a few natives attained a sufficient knowledge of English. Therefore, the books translated by him were in great demand: The estimation which they are held, is evinced by the great demand there is for them; they are useful and interesting to all ranks and castes from the mechanic to the merchant and the man of science and it is in vain attempting to disseminate knowledge to any great extent, in any language but that of the country, for very few natives are capable of attaining without years of study, a sufficient knowledge of English to understand any work of science in that language.61


Jervis came to India on 6 September 1811. Though he started his career in the military service, he is known for his contributin to education in Western India. He was appointed honorary secretary to the Native School Book and School Society in 1823. Elphinstone entrusted him with the task of organizing the Engineer Institution to train the personnel required. Known as the “Ganit Shilpa Vidyalaya”, this institution was the first of its kind in India. As a member of the Board of Education, he vehemently supported the cause of vernacularism. He is also known for the translation of many scientific works into Marathi and Gujarati. This note is drawn from J. V. Naik’s “Captain G. R. Jervis and the First Ganeet Shilpa Vidyalaya in Maharashtra, 1823-1832” in Mariam Dossal and Ruby Maloni. Eds. State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century. (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1999) 1-20. 61 MSA, GD, Vol. - 24/394, 1837, 58.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


Jervis’s translations arrived at a time when the colonial state had to embark on a new education policy and there was nobody to understand the language of the colonisers. His attempt carried tremendous importance for the colonial state, as there was not a single native who could understand a book on higher technical subjects in English. This is evident in this paragraph of the Chief Engineer’s Report: I cannot call to mind that I ever met with one native during my residence in this country (a period nerely of 30 years) who could read or write English with any degree of correctness or who was capable of perfectly understanding any English book of a higher class than those calculated for children, altho it has been the aim of many of them (probably ever since we had possession of the country) and the means they have had for some years past has been great.62

Jervis’s attempt to introduce technical courses of a higher kind seemed to have borne fruits as the students in the vernacular class superseded the students in the English class. This result justified the Vernacularists’ position of providing even higher education through vernaculars. It was reported to Charles Norris, the Secretary to Government: The acquirement of the boys in the English are, I think somewhat inferior to those who passed last year, but those of the Maratha and Goojratee boys are certainly superior.63

This is also evident in the Report of the Board of Education for 1844-45, in which it was mentioned that throughout the examination, when a question was put to a class in the English language, the scholars were unable to give an answer - but when it was put to a class in their vernacular language, the answer was quickly and satisfactorily given.64

Despite the fact that the students in the vernacular medium class superseded the students in the English medium class, the colonial officers were very keen on tapping the students who were proficient in English. Such students were given preference over others while offering jobs in the government departments. The colonial administrators conveniently avoided making any theoretical statement on Jervis’s experiment and, 62

MSA, GD, Vol. - 24/394, 1837, 58. MSA, GD, Vol. - 24/394, 1837, 58. 64 Report of the Board of Education for the Years 1847 and 1848 No. VII. [henceforth, RBE] (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1850) 150. 63


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finally, attributed the failure of the English medium class to the irregularity of the teacher.65 Professor Orlebar and Bal Shastree Jambhekar (1812-46) state: From what they had observed in superintending the arithmetical classes, that the greater part of the Arithmetic which the pupils knew, had been learned in the Vernacular schools and that whatever they learned subsequently was this, - the explanation given indeed in the English classes, but through the medium of the Vernacular language.66

In 1844, an engineering class was opened in connection with the Elphinstone Institution under a professor specially sent by the Court of Directors. The new professor, being unacquainted with the vernaculars of the students, was asked to impart instruction through English and a class was formed from the advanced students of the English Department of the Elphinstone Institution. Colonel Jervis, a member of the Board of Education, recorded his discontent against this decision and favoured vernacularism. In defence of vernacularism, he argued that the general institution could not be afforded through the language with which the mind was not familiar.67 In the use of English in education, Jervis saw a scheme deliberately conspired to “withhold all education from the native population of this country.” He was cautious: 65

The Chief Engineer held the teacher of the English class who was quite irregular through the year responsible for the ill performance of the students: The inferiority of the English class may be accounted for by the frequent indispositin of Mr. Brady, the English Master, which lately has prevented his attendance altogether…. —MSA. GD. Vol. - 24/394, 1837, 572. 66 RBE for the Years 1847- 48. 150. 67 Jervis argued: Surely, it must be admitted that, the general instruction cannot be afforded, with which the mind is familiar; and, therefore, the consistent result of the views above-mentioned, which would constitute English the essential medium for the intellectual improvement of the Natives of intellectual improvement of Motives of India, startling though it must appear to the commonest sense, is to withhold all education from the native population of this country, until the English is so familiar to them, that each individual can think and reason in that tongue, to the supersession necessarily of his own dialect and moreover, strange to say, the idea of making English the sole language of our Indian subjects, has been seriously entertained and propounded. —MSA, GD, Vol. - 29, 1850. 12-3.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the chimerical nature, to say the least, of such extreme views; but the conclusion appears incontrovertible, that in proportion as we confine Education to the channel of the English language, so will the fruits be restricted to a number of scribes and inferior agents for public and private offices and a few enlightened individuals, - isolated, by their very superiority, from their fellow countrymen.68

Jervis justified his position further by arguing that the endeavours to make the knowledge of English among the natives so prominent and essential a qualification, the Board neglected the benefit of three hundred years’ experience in Europe. He reminded the Board of the fact that when Latin was the sole language of literature, knowledge—spiritual and temporal—was confined to “a few monks—a few Divines—a few Men of Letters.” Until the supremacy of Latin was put an end to the modern tongues were emancipated, “the people could never learn or know for themselves.” While favouring the use of vernaculars with respect to the spread of knowledge, Jervis reasoned that the acquisition of knowledge was made accessible to all in Europe only on the abrogation of the Latin language and the inauguration of the language of the people. The Board, Jervis wished hopefully, should endeavor to raise “a new world of Morality and Literature” abounded the whole mass of native society, and not contract their advancement solely within the bounds, which the tutelage of the English Government, and medium of English language would impose.69 Jervis’s view on language had very subtle colonial connotations. He shared the colonial ideology of enlightenment and argued that the vernaculars should be used in order to ensure wider and deeper penetration of modern knowledge. The assumption was that the use of vernacular would ensure the formation of more moral and enlightened subjects. He quoted Horace Wilson, who had argued in favour of vernacular with a view to ensuring enlightenment.70 However, even Horace’s rationale for the use of vernaculars was not apolitical. He candidly acknowledged the importance of vernaculars for the dissemination of European ideas. He desired that if the masses were to 68

MSA, GD, Vol. - 29, 1850, 13. MSA, GD, Vol. - 29, 1850, 15. 70 It is not by the English language that we can enlighten the people of India. It can be effected through the forms of speech which they already understand and use. These must be applied to the purpose either by direct translation, or which is preferable, by the representation of European facts, opinions and sentiments in our regional native garb. —Horace Wilson quoted by Jervis in MSA, GD, Vol. - 29, 1850, 15. 69


Chapter Three

have literature, it must be freely interwoven with homespun materials, and the fashion must be Asiatic.71 The project of translation undertaken by Captain Jervis had to serve a function other than pedagogical. The works that he translated had direct utility in the various departments dealing with buildings and revenue. The Enquiry Chief Engineer recommended the distribution among the people in the Engineers’ Department and Revenue Surveys of the works on arithmatic, instrumentation, etc. translated into the native languages. Francis Warden, who was Elphinstone’s chief opponent, in his provocative Minute of 1828, vehemently attacked the Engineering Institution, in which subjects were taught in the vernaculars, as an unnecessary extravagance. However, Sir John Malcolm, who succeeded Elphinstone as the Governor of Bombay in 1827, realising the importance of training the Indians to take a larger part of government, emphasised the necessity of the Engineering Institution on the grounds “of economy, of improvement, of security.” He was pleased to see that all the students in the Institution were brahmin, who were supposed to have suffered most by the establishment of the British rule. The Engineering Institution was not to sustain on its own virtue but it also, like the Sanskrit College in Pune, had become a political expediency. Malcolm frankly acknowledged the political necessity of the Institution: “I prize every opportunity, however slight, that presents itself of conciliating this class.” The supposedly schemy nature of the brahmins was seen as a threat to the colonial power and the new educational institutions were to be used to save the colonial power from such a possible threat. The study of mathematics and science, Malcolm hoped, would wean the brahmins from their “habits of intrigue”, “superstitious prejudices” and “to instill the love of truth insensibly.”72 Moreover, the use of vernacular was not to be promoted at the neglect of English. Jervis made it clear that the vernaculars were to be used to prepare the students for higher studies at the collegiate level. He maintained: The schools of the Native Education Society were intended for the purpose of teaching the Native youth the vernacular dialects and English, and thus preparing …[them] to attend the lectures on European literature of the Professors of the Elphinstone institution.73


MSA, GD, Vol. - 29, 1850, 16. Kenneth Ballhatchet, Social Policy and Social Change in Western India 18171830 (1957; London: Oxford U P, 1961) 293-4. 73 Jervis’s “Minute” in The Board of Education Report 150. 72

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


Jervis did not interrogate the very notion of knowledge, which was to be deployed to make the civilisational mission successful. His argument in favour of vernacularism was ultimately aimed at the “general diffusion of education”. He pointed out that the Anglicist policy, which was aimed at benefiting the select few, would not help in achieving the real objective of the colonial rule, i.e. interpellating more number of people by diffusing general education among them. His vernacularist standpoint meant to perpetuate the colonial rule. He found the vernaculars as the most convenient means of conveying to the natives of India “the literary, scientific, and moral duties of Europe”. What prompted Jervis to argue against Anglicism was not its élitist nature but its inability to indoctrinate a large number of people: But this English Education to the few is not of itself, a direct advance which we may therefore devote all our means to attain; reckoning, that, when attained, it will be time enough to consider further steps. No.–The most difficult task is to preserve the connection between the highly educated few and the rest of their countrymen, through which the beneficial influence which is the ultimate object of the superior Education, may be extended.74

Jervis thought that the idea of educating Indian children in any language other than the language of their first experience of life was absurd. His support to the cause of vernacularism in education was widely applauded by many scholars like Matthew Lederle75 and K. S. Vakil and S. Natrajan76, Tulsi Ram77 and J. V. Naik.78 However, it may be argued that Jervis’s plan exhibits very clearly the imperialist vision of language education. He looked upon education as a means of achieving the indigenous allies and, thus, consolidating the British rule:

“Minute” by Colonel Jervis dated 13th May, 1847 in RBE for the Years 1847 and 1848 64. 75 Matthew R. Lederle, Philosophical Trends in Modern Maharastra (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1976) 46. 76 K. S. Vakil and S. Natrajan, Education in India (1949; Bombay: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1966) 71. 77 Tulsi Ram, Trading in Language: The Story of English in India (Delhi: GDK Publications, 1983) 158-61. 78 J. V. Naik. “Captain G. R. Jervis and the First Ganeet Shilpa Vidyalaya in Maharashtra, 1823-1832.” State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century. Mariam Dossal and Ruby Maloni. Eds. (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1999) 1-20. 74


Chapter Three is inferred that a prudent interference for the general improvement and extension of instruction on the part of Government, would be not only the wisest plan of securing the affection of the people, but in the highest degree instrumental to the permanency of our authority, and the interests of every class of the community.79

Neglecting the baneful effects of caste system on education, Jervis glorified the education at a more remote period as “equal, if not in many respects superior, to that of European societies, we have the testimony of laws, institutions, writings and works of science and art, to establish beyond dispute.” He held the medieval Muslim régimes responsible for the pernicious degradation of education. He delineated the Mohammedan literature adversely. Presupposing Macaulay, Jervis held the view that there had never been any great learning in the Persian and Arabic languages and the books in these languages did not inculcate “principles submersive of morality.” This attempt to devalorize the Mohammedan and Hindu traditions was to legitimise the colonisers’ much celebrated role of civilising and moralising the subjects. Jervis’s position on vernacularism was also driven by the empire’s need of bringing the wider community within the purview of colonial education. Many administrators had begun to see the ignorance of the subjects as a hindrance in the rule. Jervis anticipated Gramsci, though in a different sense, by about a century as he distinguished between rule by consent and rule by force and considered the former more convenient than the latter: ...without discovering the amazing importance of providing for the security of our own Government and the interests and happiness of the people, by some more powerful and intimate restraint than the force of arms….We have hitherto kept our ground by the same magical charm, but as it is daily becoming less powerful, since the extension of territories serves but to show better the true nature of our resources; and every act of authority to develop the minutest principles of our Government, it is by the maintenance of this public opinion alone that we must look to a continuation of obedience and respect.80

Jervis had more astutely understood the importance of education in constructing the consciousness of the subjects, making them accept and fortify the “social order” and cultivating servility in them towards the authority. Education through vernaculars could promise the circulation of 79 80

MSA, GD, Vol. - 63, 1824, 437. Parulekar Survey 13.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


ideology in the wider community and, thus, could in turn assuredly contribute to the maintenance of status quo. He wrote: For the general well being of society there is no greater blessing than a good education, for by means of it, the poor are enabled to ascertain their just rights; the middling classes are led to pursuits of industry, economy and contentment; the rich to the acquirement of influence and respectability; and the community generally to a strict observance of that social order and that ready obedience to the prevailing authorities which is the most valuable test of public opinion.81

The purpose of vernacular medium was not, even for the vernacularists like George Jervis, to invigorate vernacular literature or strengthen vernacular languages. Vernaculars were seen more as a facilitating media for the diffusion of the “positive information of Europe.” Both the Anglicists and the Vernacularists agreed upon the view that only European knowledge was a panacea to the Oriental despotism; they only differed on the ways to be used to achieve them. As the conflict between the Anglicists and the Vernacularists reached climax around 1845, the latter argued hard to establish that a vernacular language had more advantages over English with regard to the view of the diffusion of European knowledge. Assuming the utility of European knowledge in the perpetuation of Empire, the Vernacularists verbalised serious concern about it. They were dubious about the availability of sufficient teachers of English. They argued that a competent teacher of vernacular will more effectively “indoctrinate his [a competent teacher’s] class with the elements of any branch of science through the medium of their mother tongue, in an infinitely shorter period than if he is compelled to address them in a very difficult foreign language.”82 Challenging the very potential or ability of English to indoctrinate, the vernacularists cautioned that English education had been to produce a set of Purvoes or copying clerks, with little but parrot-like information. This view of the Vernacularists not only suggested the practicability of vernacular tongue but also challenged the claim which the Anglicists had been making so vigorously since the late eighteenth century. Eliciting consent to the utility and relevance of European knowledge, which was allegedly stored in the canonical texts, they recommended the production of translations of the “standard works of Europe” into the languages of 81 82

Parulekar Survey 13. RBE for the Years 1847 and 1848 3.


Chapter Three

India. According to this scheme, these translations were to be used to achieve the growth of Indian literature. The difference between the positions of the Anglicists and the Vernacularists symbolically stood for the ideologically differentiated motives. The Vernacularists had in their purview the whole Indian populace which they estimated at 120 millions and the Anglicists, since the beginning, had been arguing in favour of the creation of a minuscule class through which the colonial state could achieve ideological initiation. Though the British showed limited liberalism with regard to the education of the peasants, the objective of education for various caste-groups differed. When the peasants were considered to be worthy of modern education, they were not supposed to learn what the brahmins were to learn. The peasants were to be educated not to hold high or low positions in administration. Elphinstone wanted “superstition” in the peasants to be eradicated by the spread of Western education. Another purpose of education for the peasants was to make them understand the declaration of the Government, decipher their own revenue certificates (pattas) and work out their own accounts. Apart from the Sanskrit College, other institutions were also established with political purpose. Teaching through vernacular aimed at training the students to fulfil the necessity of discharging subordinate duties and save the expenses of the government. Jervis writes: The primary object....of these institutions was the instruction of native and half-caste youths, so as to render them competent to discharge subordinate duties in the Engineer and Quarter Master General’s Departments, in an economical and efficient manner; thereby avoiding the necessity of having those duties performed by officers of the line, to the detriments of the Regiments to which they belonged, and at a very serious expense to the Govt. They are subsequently enlarged by the admission of a member of native youths from the Deccan-sons of respectable parents deprived of employment on the subversion of the Peshwa’s authority; and this measure was adopted on the one hand as a means of conciliation towards the conquered people, and on the other with a view to obtaining natives properly qualified for the branches of the service.83

Jervis’s letter clearly manifests the imperial agenda of Indian education in the early phase of colonisation. He clearly states the conciliatory function that education had to fulfil and the necessity of recruiting the subordinate personnel from the Indian upper castes with a view to curb the expenses. 83

MSA, GD, Vol. – 6/183, 1829, 14-5.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


Thus, Jervis’s position of language was not free from colonial overtones. There is a danger in assuming that Jervis had deep concern for the education of the people. Such naïve suppositions fail the scholars like J. V. Naik to understand how vernacularism was also essentially a part of the colonial design.

Jagannath Shankarshet: Vernacularism in the Service of Anglicism Jervis’s vernacularist position had an Indian follower, Jugannath Shankarshet. Neither Jervis nor Jagannath Shankarshet had ever challenged the basic tenets of British colonialism, the knowledge in English and the hierarchical linguistic structure that was emerging out of the unequal relationship between English and Marathi. Shankarshet supported the cause of vernaculars not because they were capable of disseminating modern knowledge and could be a better media for effective dissemination. He argued that it was impossible to teach the great mass of people a language such as English which was so widely different from their own.84 He also clarified that it was not possible to change “the language of a whole country”; and in spite of the fact that people showed tremendous interest in education and had started removing their sons from vernacular schools and enrolling them to English schools. The portion of the population acquainted with English, according to him, was insignificant. He argued: If our object is to diffuse knowledge and improve the minds of the Natives of India as a people, it is my opinion that it must be done by imparting that knowledge to them in their own language.85

Shankarshet further argued that vernacular was more fit even for the females and it was argued that English could hardly assure a wider reach. Vernacular languages possess advantages over English, as they are understood by many. When the Board of Education was divided between two groups— Anglicists led by Sir Erskine Perry (1806-82) and Vernacularists led by George Jervis—Shankarshet drafted his Minute in order to uphold 84

MSA, GD, Vol. - 29, 1850, 55. J. A. Richey. Ed. Selections from Educational Records, Part II, 1840-1859. (Calcutta: n.p. 1822) 17; Alstair Pennycook, English and the Discourses of Colonialism (London: Routledge, 1998) 85.



Chapter Three

the cause of vernacularism. However, he neither advocated the use of vernaculars at a higher level nor questioned the hegemony of European knowledge. While supporting the use of vernaculars, he argued that if a learner was proficient in his mother tongue, he would be able to communicate through English better. In other words, a learner has to learn his vernacular only to be more efficient in the uses of English: When a native is inclined to prosecute the study of English, his progress is more rapid and his usefulness doubled provided he be first well grounded in his own language. I say his usefulness will be increased, because it is only by this preparation that only knowledge he may have acquired can be imparted by him to his countrymen through the medium of the vernacular languages.86

Shankarshet further pointed out that it was nearly impossible to teach the wider mass of people English, which was so drastically different from the language of the people. Despite this, Shankarshet insisted that it was hopeless to entertain the idea that the language of the whole country could be changed. He legitimised the colonilasts’ civilisational claim by arguing that vernaculars were to be employed if the object was “to diffuse knowledge and improve the minds of the Natives of India.”87 Shankarseth’s position on English and vernacular education typifies typical urban middle class response to the colonial policy. Without losing sight of the benefit of English education, the vernacularists, in conformity with the Anglicist position, wanted to harness the vernaculars with the lower functions. Such a position was neither to empower the vernaculars nor to challenge the Anglicist hegemony.

Anglicism: Towards Hegemony The English language is our inheritance, and we expect to transmit it to our posterity. This inheritance, enriched as it is with the science and literature of the English nation for many centuries, we have reason to value very highly; and we naturally feel an interest in its extension in the world.88 —David O. Allen D. D. (1854) Missionary of the American Board of India, 26 October 1853 86

P. P. Shirodkar, Hon. Jagannath Shankarshet: Prophet of India’s Resurgence and Maker of Modern Bombay Part - I (Goa: Pradnya Darshan Prakashan, 2005) 293. 87 Shirodkar 294. 88 David O Allen. “The State and Prospects of the English Language in India.” Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 4. (1854): 265.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


As has been argued in the first chapter, colonialism was not operating in the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries in a uniform manner. The mercantile enterpreneurial bourgeiose of the East India Company, under the auspices of the Company rule and the colonial state, entered into formal protective and extractive relationships and political alliances with local feudal groups such as the high caste land-owning rural gentry and the princely régimes. The colonial power also attempted harnessing the class interests of the indigenous élites to those of the colonial state. Eric Stokes has pointed out in The English Utilitarians and India that the transition from mercantilism to industrial capitalism in Britain induced a major shift in colonial policy.89 Probal Dasgupta also argues that this shift, which unfolded through the nineteenth century in British India, was from a hands-off attitude towards the indigenous culture to deliberate intervention with the purpose of introducing Western attitudes and practices in the colonised societies.90 Dasgupta argues: Mercantile colonialism had been satisfied with appropriating a surplus produced by the native society, and had wanted the culture of this society, whatever it was, to continue along traditional lines so that it kept producing this set of commodities, under conditions set by the increasing political ascendancy of the Western traders.91

He further adds that industrial colonialism was predicated on a different commercial assumption. As the British industry was becoming an exporting system and expanding its captive markets, it needed more Westernised subjects, who would unhesitantly buy the goods made in England. Such economic changes entailed changes in educational as well as linguistic spheres. In the educational sphere, as Stokes argues, the success of the Westernizers over the Orientalists had become inevitable. In the sphere of linguistics, it was no longer enough to just take the data from each language in an obvious form. The Orientalist policy was not to last long as the British were to make headway for Anglicism soon. In the second decade of the nineteenth century, there began the experiment of modernisation of the traditional institutes of education that were opened towards the end of the eighteenth century. The Government expressed its desire to introduce “European 89

Eric Stokes The English Utilitarians and India (1959; Delhi: Oxford U P, 1989). Probal Dasgupta, Projective Syntax: Theory and Applications (Pune: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, 1989) 117-8. 91 Dasgupta 118. 90

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Science” in the Sanskrit College of Calcutta, and pecuniary assistance was provided to this college. This decision, however, was to benefit both the colonial rulers as well as the indigenous élites. Realising the limitations of the traditional institutions with regard to the dissemination of European knowledge, the colonialists took a paradigmatic move in introducing new courses in such institutes. The idea of translating English books on scientific instruction was dismissed as translation had limitations. The Rev. Mr. Thomson, an Anglicist, pointed out the main reason for the limited progress of the students in science and that was the lack of direct access to a higher knowledge of it through the medium of the English language. He wrote: A great point therefore would be gained, if instead of translating Books into the Eastern languages, scientific instructions were conveyed in English. A multitude of Books would be at command, admirably fitted for every kind and degree of mathematical learning, from things elementary, to the most profound treatises. We seem to have arrived fully at the period when it would be at once easy popular to treat the English language as a language of science at the Hindu and Musalman Colleges. A sufficient acquaintance with our language might be soon obtained, considering the facilities for acquiring it which now exist, and[,] thus, not only would encouragement be afforded to the study of our language, but much time and labour will be spared, which must otherwise be consumed in the preparation of useful books.92

As mentioned earlier, the new changes made in the educational system were to be beneficial to the upper castes. The Central Committee said: The diffusion of sound practical knowledge, “amongst the able and respectable individuals of whom its members will consist; if men, who by their Brahminical birth, as well as by their learning, exercise a powerful influence on the minds of every order of the community, cannot fail to be attended with beneficial effects.”93

Though the Anglicists supported English to be made the medium of instruction, they did not ever expect a large chunk of Indian population to be brought within the purview of English. The spread of English became necessarily restricted to the upper caste city dwellers. John Stuart Mill, who was largely responsible for drafting many dispatches for the court of Directors, opposed the move to spread 92 93

Boman-Behram 71-2. Boman-Behram 88.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


vernacular education. He argued that real educational progress could be achieved not so much through village schools, as through providing more advanced education - especially in English, western literature and science to the higher classes: The improvements in education, however, which most effectually contribute to elevate the moral and intellectual condition of a people are those which concern the education of the higher classes; of the persons processing leisure, and natural influence over the minds of their countrymen. By raising the standard of instruction among these classes, you would eventually produce a much greater and beneficial change in the ideas and feelings of the community than you can hope to produce by acting directly on the more numerous class.94

Mill openly acknowledged that the Supreme Government had adopted measures for placing instruction in English language, literature and European science within the reach of the higher classes of Natives in Bengal Presidency. These measures were successful in a short time in “spreading useful knowledge among the Natives of India and diffusing among them the ideas and sentiments prevalent in civilized Europe.”95 Instead of concentrating on elementary education through vernaculars, the Anglicists tended to reiterate the doctrine of downward filtration, arguing that it was best to concentrate on the education of select groups, who serve as the conduits for the diffusion of Western learning among the people.96 The Board of Education also endorsed the view that higher education should be imparted through English.97 Elphinstone had devised a very pragmatic language policy whereby different mediums and types of education were suggested to various casteclass groups. His idea of establishing Sanskrit, English and vernacular medium schools for the upper castes, city dwellers and the lower castes respectively was challenged in 1824 by Francis Warden, who was a member of the Governor’s Council at Bombay. The view of Sir George Clerk, the Governor of Bombay, had coincided with Elphinstone’s opinion. Clerk had suggested that all who wished and had capacity to learn 94

Zastoupil et al. 126. Zastoupil et al. 126. 96 Zastoupil et al. 31. 97 ….on the other hand we were very clear in our convictions that the higher branches of Education could only be taught effectively (by the English Government) through the medium of the English language. —RBE for the Years 1847 and 1848, No. VII. (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1850) 2. 95


Chapter Three

English be educated in the English language and useful education be extended to the rest by means of the vernaculars. Francis Warden was a staunch Anglicist and was virtually opposed to Elphinstone’s scheme. He vehemently opposed Elphinstone’s plan by strongly favouring English as the medium of instruction. He went to the extent of demanding English education among the natives. Elphinstone had argued that there existed little desire among the natives for the knowledge of English. Warden recorded a dissentient Minute, in which he bluntly stated the imperial mission of educating only a select few: I would establish it as a rule, that no person be entertained in any office under the Government, even down to a peon, without the production of a certificate of his qualification in reading and writing, either in the English or his own language.98

He understood that Elphinstone’s plan attempted too much, and he deemed it necessary and expedient that the government should restrict its endeavours to promote education through the medium of English. He believed that without interfering in the native village schools, seminaries should be established in each district for instructing the children of the higher and middle classes in the English language, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, jurisprudence, political economy and medicine. While Captain Candy found that the tillers of the soil were not interested in sending their children to the English Schools, Warden reported from personal experience: As far as I have conversed with the natives, they are anxious that their children be thoroughly grounded in the English language; some of the wealthiest would be glad to send their children to England for education, were it not for the clamourous objection of their mothers; nothing can be more favourable for commencing, or for the establishment of a good system of education, than such a disposition.99

The Anglicists were opposed to the idea of education to many. According to Warden’s plan, the native schools had to be left “untouched and unnoticed.” He had realised that the wealthier natives were eager to avail themselves of any facilities that came up for the acquisition of the English language and “there was nothing chimerical in laying the foundation stone of a good edifice for teaching what the higher classes of 98

Warden’s Francis, “Minute,” in A. N. Basu Ed. Indian Education in Parliamentary Papers Part – I (1832). (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1952) 215. 99 Basu Indian Education 217.

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natives are eager to acquire – a knowledge of English.” In his Minute, dated 24 March 1828, Warden mentioned: Under these impressions, I subscribe entirely to the opinion expressed by the author of the Political History of India, that it is better and safer to commence by giving a good deal of knowledge to a few than a little to many, to be satisfied with laying the foundation stone of a good edifice, and not desire to accomplish in a day what must be the work of a century.100

The early consolidation of the British rule in the Bengal Presidency had led to an early demand for education in general and English education in particular by the élites. The language policy in the Bengal as well as the Madras Presidencies had taken the élitist mode much before the language policy was framed in the Bombay Presidency by the British. The Court of Directors had suggested, in their letter of September 1830 to the Madras Government, to raise the standard of instruction among the higher classes than the more numerous class to produce a much greater and more beneficial effect. The Bengal Presidency was advised in similar terms: We fully concur in thinking it highly advisable to enable and encourage a large number of the natives to acquire a thorough knowledge of English being convinced that the higher tone and better spirit of European literature can produce their full effect only on those who become familiar with them in the original languages.101

These Dispatches were important for the language policy in Western India as they provided the guiding principles to the Board of Education in Bombay. These documents were frequently quoted in the annual reports of the Board to argue in favour of the restricted spread of English. The Board finally decided to restrict English education to the élites and vernacular education was considered to be fit for the masses. Strong élitist bias is evident in Bombay presidency as well as Bengal and Madras Presidencies. Access to English education was also restricted through stringent fee structure.102 It is evident in many reports of the Board that, in spite of the


Basu Indian Education 221. “Dispatch of the Court of Directors to Bengal” dated 20 September 1830 in RBE for the Year 1845, 20. 102 With respect to English schools the fee we consider should be such as should make the school be sought by those only whose means enable them to devote a longer period of life to learning than the mere acquirement of the art of reading 101


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increase in the fees for English education, the parents were ready to send their children to English schools. “Panwell English School”, for example, was established as early as 1821 at Panvel, an upper-caste dominated town. Major Candy also made a special mention in one of his reports that there was a “great desire” to learning English in the citpƗvan dominated Ratnagiri district.103 Though Candy was one of the prominent advocates of vernacularism, his pronouncement on vernacularism could not escape the imperial overtone. His language policy was marked by dualism – vernacular education at a village level, i.e., for the masses who largely comprised of lower castes and English education at a district level, i.e., for the classes, bureaucrats who largely comprised of upper castes. His vernacularism assured minimum education for the masses which was necessary for the sustenance of colonialism and a kind of support system for English education.104 Though Candy acknowledged the importance of English, he made it clear that the role of English should be limited. Assorting vernacular and English education in an uneven manner and distributing English according to the social class are evident in his Report on Sanskrit College: It seems to me that too much encouregement cannot be given to the study of English, nor too much value put upon it, in its proper place and connection, in a plan for the intellectual and moral improvement of India. This place I conceive to be that of supplying ideas and the matter of instruction, not that of being the medium of instruction. The medium through which the mass of the population must be instructed, I humbly conceive must be their Vernacular Tongues, and neither English nor Sanskrit….In a word, knowledge must be drawn from the....the English language, the Vernaculars must be employed as the medium of

and writing demands, and whose lot is not cast among the severer and more manual occupations of life. —Report of the Bombay Education Society for the Year 1845 (Bombay: Government Printing Office.1846) 24. 103 There is a great desire on the part of Native young men to study English. I would not at all intimate that this desire springs from a love of knowledge for its own sake. Its source is doubtless the conviction which is daily increasing in the Native mind, that, are long, a knowledge of English will be the chief, if not the sole road, to situations of honour and emolument. —RBE 1840-41 (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1842) 17. 104 Board of Education 1840-41 16.

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communicating it, and Sanscrit must be largely used to improve the Vernaculars and make them suitable for the purpose.105

Candy’s view that English is the “storehouse of knowledge, rationality and morality” and his desire to employ English and, particularly, Sanskrit to refine Marathi is indicative of the new shape that modern Marathi was to take in its formative years. Without spreading English widely, both Sanskrit and English were to provide inputs to Marathi, which were bound to be alien. Under his leadership, Marathi was made to mould itself under the influence of these two languages.

Growing Demand for English in the 1830s Along with the consolidation of the British Empire, pan-Indian élite was slowly rising to prominence across the Indian subcontinent. This new class of élites was quick to recognise the significance of English in the changed circumstances. Though the Orientalists were striving hard to argue for the Oriental languages, and condemning most the policy of disbursing government funds for the study of English exclusively, their feeling was not shared by the upper-caste Indians always. The instrumental motives of the Bengali brahmins, seeking the “English language over the literature of England” has been documented by Gauri Viswanathan.106 Towards the end of the eighteenth century when the question of introducing English began to be raised with increasing momentum, there had been rapidly growing native élites learning English. By virtue of their knowledge of English, they had started working in the offices, factories, and warehouses of the East India Company. The 1830s witnessed several important changes that culminated in a new education policy for India, which was to last for long. It was in this decade that Macaulay’s famous Minute was presented. He came to India in December 1834 as a member of the Governor General’s Council and was appointed, “by virtue of his intellectual stature”, the President of the General Committee of Public Instruction. He is commonly regarded as the one responsible for the introduction of English education in India. As English was the language of the ever-expanding empire across the world and the ruling class in India, it was bound to dominate the indigenous languages in India. However powerful was the disparaging comment of the Orientalists and the vernacularists on English, its effect 105 106

Report 1847 and 1848 180; Pennycook 1998 85. Viswanathan 43.


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was not to stay for long. It was as early as 1800 that the natives in Bengal had started demanding for English education. When Mr. and Mrs. Marshman opened two boarding schools in 1800 for the support of the mission, they received an overwhelming response from the natives. Even when a vernacular school was opened, the natives manifested “a greater desire to acquire a smattering of the English language than to obtain knowledge through their tongue.”107 The criticism of English, raised by the upper-caste Orientalists, was challenged by their own upper-caste countrymen. The indigenous contenders for English already had their own experience of using language for establishing hegemony in the past. They were quick to realise that the immediate future offered wealth and elevated social status for those who were literate in English. Indians’ desire for English had definite links with the prestigious government jobs that the language could potentially offer. This is evidenced in Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s plea in 1833 for equality in the civil service, and by the tremendous increase in Indians—especially upper-caste Hindus—attending English colleges during the next twenty years. Bentink’s English Education Act of 1835 had made English a necessary part of education and, further, the yoking of English education with jobs had made English education more popular among the élite. The genesis, establishment and development of English education in the first half of the 19th century in Bombay city were very much due to Indian initiative and support.108 Robert E. Frykenberg has challenged the long-established view that English education was an imposition by an alien rule on the colonised Indians. Calling it “the Myth of Macaulay’s Minute”, he has argued that it is wrong to consider English a “colonialist imposition.” He refuses to accept fully that …attitudes of lofty condescension towards India’s peoples and their inferior cultures, combined with practical needs for a cheap labour force to supply the manpower requirements of an enormous bureaucratic machine, prompted alien rulers to impose an English language educational system upon the subcontinent and, thereby, neglect and stifle the natural growth of indigenous educational institutions.109


John Clark, The Story of Carey Marshman and Ward Marshman (London: Alexander Strahan and Co., 1864) 60. 108 Mridula Ramanna. “Profiles of English Educated Indians: Early Nineteenth Century Bombay City.” Economic and Political Weekly 27.14 (1992) 716-24. 109 Robert E. Frykenberg, “The Myth of English as a ‘Colonialist’ Imposition upon India: A Reappraisal with Special Reference to South India” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of England and Ireland, No. 2, (1988) 305.

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His study of nineteenth century South India shows that there had always been a strong nativist element underlying the establishment of the Company’s rule in South India. He has cited the example of a DeĞastha (Maratha) brahmin of Ongole who was born there in 1784. The brahmin was trained in English and further became the Chief Marathi Translator in the Madras High Court. Frykenberg asserts that Macaulay’s advocacy of English education was recognition of the views of the “forward looking gentry in India”. Macaulay precisely pointed out in his Minute the contradictory situation prevailing in the realm of language learning. He argued that the British had to pay the Arabic and Sanskrit students whereas those who wished to learn English were willing to pay for that. In the vast empire, there was not a single student who would let the British teach him those dialects (the classical languages) unless they would pay him. The greatest desire for English education was in Bengal, especially among the brahmins and the kƗyasthas. According to Gauri Viswanathan, the most striking example of differences between the Orientalists’ objectives and Indian needs is that of the founding in 1816 of the Hindu College, which sprang up entirely from the demands of a group of Calcutta citizens who wanted instruction not only in their languages and sciences but also in the language and literature of England.110 Raja Rammohan Roy who spearheaded the movement for English in Calcutta represented the newly emerged upper-caste élites who longed for English. In the 1830s, the British devised a policy of introducing English in most of the institution of Oriental learning. In 1829, Captain Thoresby, the Superintendent of Hindu College at Banaras, thought the time was ripe to introduce instruction in English as a means of lessening the barriers between some of the better classes of natives and resident Europeans. In 1828, English was introduced in Delhi College and stipends were offered for it. So great was the counter-attraction of the rulers’ language that half of the students expressed desire for it.111 In Bengal, the Hindus seemed on the whole more eager for English than the Muslims. A less flattering explanation was that the Hindus were fonder of gain and other lucrative employments that required a knowledge of English.112 When John Marshman and his wife, who were two of the earliest missionary settlers in Bengal, started boarding schools to secure the mission from pecuniary destitution, they found, to their great surprise, that “the schools rose in public estimation, and soon became the most 110

Viswanathan 43. McCully 26. 112 Viswanathan 43. 111


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flourishing and remunerative in the country.” When a vernacular school was opened for the native youth in Calcutta, it had only forty students. But, even in that early period, the natives manifested a greater desire to acquire a smattering of the English language than to obtain knowledge through their own language. It is evident here that a section in the Indian community could clearly foresee the importance that English had to gain in India soon. Realising this, they preferred education in English to education in their own language. Marshman wrote: Commerce has raised new thoughts and awakened new energies, so that hundreds, if we could skillfully teach them gratis, would crowd to learn the English language. We hope this may be in our power some time, and may be a happy means of diffusing the knowledge of the gospel.113

Among the Hindus, the percentage of the upper castes, which had mastered English, was disproportionately high. The newly arisen intelligentsia was mainly drawn from the upper castes. Aparna Basu has commented on the instrumental role of caste in the spread of English education among the Bengali brahmins: In 1921, there was 18 per cent literacy in Bengal and the percentage of the population literate in English was 3.4. One of the reasons for this comparatively advanced stage of English education was the caste system which divided the population between a section whose tradition required in them a knowledge of letters and whose hereditary occupations were clerical and the great mass of the population who were illiterate.114

It would be inadvertent to assert that Macaulay forced English education on the Indians. By the 1830s, there was already a steadily increasing demand for English education. Demand for English education had begun some 10 years before Macaulay came to India. So strong did this demand become in later years that many schools, run purely for profit, were able to survive without any form of government assistance.115 The Marathi speaking brahmins in Gujarat had requested the government to open an English school in Gujarat. Having realised the lucrative profession the English could potentially promise, even the grown-ups, who were


Clark 60. Aparna Basu, The Growth of Education and Political Development in India: 1898-1920 (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1974) 116. 115 Clive Whitehead, “The Historiography of British Imperial Education Policy, Part-I India” History of Education (May 2005) 34:3, 321. 114

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trained in classical Sanskrit in western India, also started learning the alphabet in English.116 When Captain Sutherland suggested the formation of an institution in Bombay for training the students for the subordinate posts in the engineering department, it was feared that the orthodox brahmins in and around Pune would be reluctant to move to Bombay which was seen as an abode of impurity. Chaplin observed: I think it likely that few Brahmin boys of respectability will be found willing to proceed as students to Bombay [where] there is such a mixture of classes and inhabitants of various nations that all distinctions of castes are in a great degree confounded.117

Assuming this possibility, William Chaplin, the Commissioner of the Deccan, published a proclamation inviting “candidates, whether students or others, of the brahmin and other respectable Hindoo castes or Mussalmans” for instruction at Bombay. He also promised them that the Government would provide them with servants of their caste.118 As compared to Pune, more avenues like trade and finance were opened for the native intelligentsia in Bombay. The gap between Pune and Bombay used to be seen as the gap between the traditional caste-based culture and the impure Anglicised culture. The intelligentsia in Pune showed ambivalent response to the arrival of the English language in the city in the third decade of the nineteenth century. Though the conservative brahmins of Pune looked upon English as a potential threat to their culture, there certainly had arisen a new class of intelligentsia who could foresee the material gain that English could promise. The brahmins in Pune had started to submit petitions begging for English education. One such petition was submitted by a Pune-based man named Janardhan Appa who appealed to the British to add English branch to the Poona College as “there would be”, he thought, “many desirous of learning the English language.” He petitioned: A knowledge of the English language would I humbly conceive tend greatly to the improvement of the Native generally, the higher walks of literature and science would naturally soon follow and field would be open to many which otherwise for a length of time must remain closed; I should also say that a knowledge of the English language would become a link 116

R. S. Jog, MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VƗngamayƗca ItihƗs (Pune: Marathi Sahitya Parishad, 1965)


117 118

Chaplin quoted in Ballhatchet 1961 268. Ballhatchet 1961 268.


Chapter Three between the natives and their rulers, it is decidedly a gift, which would scarcely be forgotten in consideration of the valuable works in it. 119

When an English School was established in Pune in 1832, it was reported in The Bombay Durpun, the first bilingual periodical in Western India, that the School would have great success: ...but considering the respectability of the inhabitants of Poona, and increasing desire for learning the English language among the native community, we have no doubt that, the wishes of Government would be attended with success.120

Recognising the growing importance of and demand for English in the wake of widening imperialism, the Collector of Pune, suggested reduction of the number of “professors for Hindu literature” in the Sanskrit College and the appointment of some for English and Persian. However, those who learnt English had to face severe criticism from the orthodox Sanskritists. English education was held responsible for the “social evils” like drinking. B. P. Majumdar complains that the newly educated young men considered drinking as a concomitant result of Western education. Majumdar writes about the English-educated Bengalees like Ramanarain Basu and Ramtanu Lahiri boastfully wrote about their drinking habits. Krishnashastri Chiplunkar (1824-1878) and Baba Gokhale were among the early learners of English in Pune. Both were very much accustomed to spending nights at the brothels and this behaviour of theirs was attributed to English education. Their examples were cited to warn the parents against the growing desire of educating their children in English.121 However, to the great surprise of the administrators in Bombay, it was observed that two hundred students entered their names as candidates for instruction in the school. Francis Warden was one of the early administrators who could realise the growing demand for English and supported the Anglicist policy strongly. This nativist insistence on English education is indicative of the eagerness of the upper-caste élites to serve the British Empire in the lower ranks. This alarming increase in the aspirants of English education further facilitated the process of recruiting Indian labour force in the Company offices and those appointed thus became the subordinate allies of the 119

Boman-Behram 544. G. G. Jambhekar, Ed. Memoirs and Writings of ƖcƗrya BƗl ĝƗstrƯ JƗۨbhekar (1812-1846) Vol. – II (Poona: G. G. Jambhekar, 1950) 32. 121 T. R. Deogirikar, VƗsukƗkƗ JoĞƯ Va TyƗncƗ KƗۜ (Pune: D. T. Joshi, 1948) 30. 120

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colonial rule. However, Indians’ entry into administration was not without trouble and suspicion. The British supported their activism for English, as it had become the financial necessity. The Directors of the Company believed that, by recruiting Indians, the cost of administration could be drastically reduced. During the 1830s, the East India Company was running in debt due to the Burmese wars and increases in the Indian civil and military expenses.122 The clause in the Charter of 1833, that natives “should be equally admissible to every office in India, irrespective of religion, birth, descent or colour”, quickly aroused Indians’ interest in education. This was one way for the Company to overcome the debts. Having learnt the possibility of achieving a vertical upward mobility promised by English, the upper-castes became eager to learn it. This “orgiastic effervescence” to learn English hardly had its origin in any quest for Western knowledge. Though English education was a potential source of Western knowledge and modernity, the learners of English scarcely showed any interest in epistemology. In Western India, the native young men exhibited a great desire for studying English. However, this desire, according to Captain Candy, had not sprung from ...a love of knowledge for its own sake. Its source is doubtless the conviction which is daily increasing in the Native mind, that…a knowledge of English will be the chief, if not the sole road, to situations of honour and emolument.123

In his Minute of 1839, Lord Auckland had desired to be furnished by the Bombay government, with a report of the mofussil vernacular schools. At the same time, he had particularly requested the government to consider the measures contemplated by him “for raising and adapting to native wants the instruction conveyed in the most advanced of our English Colleges.”124 Captain Candy had recognised the growing demand for English by the natives. In response to Lord Auckland’s Minute, he submitted an interesting report in which he dealt with the state of the Government Marathi schools under his superintendence and the question relating to the


Nancy L. Adams and M. Adams Dennis. “An Examination of Some Forces Affecting English Educational Policies in India: 1780-1850.” History of Education II.2 (1971): 166. 123 RBE for the Years 1840-41 17. 124 Boman-Behram 551.


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promotion of English education referred to him by Government.125 He suggested the immeditate establishment of an English school in each of the collectorate of the Deccan and Konka৆. This response compelled the government to promote English education for a select few at the district level.

English and Ideological Politics Some scholars look upon English as an ideologically neutral language. Even, sociologists have failed to understand and, consequently, demonstrate the cultural and ideological politics language is enmeshed with. Joshua Fishman claims that English is “ethnically and ideologically unencumbered.”126 Similarly, Wardaugh points out that English is not tied to my “particular social, political, economic or religious system, nor to a specific racial or cultural group”. While commenting on the unprejudiced nature of English, Wardaugh remarks that English is tied neither to any “particular social, political, economic or religious system, nor to a specific racial or cultural group.” He further notes that English belongs to everyone or no one; or it at least is quite often regarded as having this property.127 The proposition that English is ideologically neutral and, like the indigenous languages, it has no markers at least in the non-native contexts, is further supported by Braj Kachru. Kachru points out that the native codes are functionally marked in terms of caste, religion, region and so forth; he accepts the term “social neutrality” as used by Moad and considers it applicable to almost all the countries where English is used. The “neutrality” perspective overlooks the fact that language is deeply rooted in the social structures that are hierarchical and is also imbued with ideological function. This perspective also presupposes that language is a self-referential or autonomous category and it can be detached from the socio-cultural milieu from which it originated and developed. It would be too naïve to believe that a foreign language, when it enters in a non-native context, remains unaffected by the inherent inequalities and power-relations that characterise that society. Any language in a nonnative context does not function in a socio-cultural vacuum. Instead, it remains subject to the social forces and gets subsumed in the social structure. More precisely, it is subject to manipulation at the hands of the traditional élites in the society. Such a manipulation is very stringent but 125

MSA, GD, 13/530, 1840, 198. Hans R. Dua, Hegemony of English (Mysore: Yashoda Publications, 1994) 6. 127 Dua 6. 126

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subtle in a country like India where the traditional élites had devised unique strategies of linguistic exclusion and appropriation in order to establish their hegemony. According to Dua, the notion of “neutrality” “can be questioned on both theoretical as well as empirical grounds.” On theoretical grounds, it is “questionable to assume that a language can be considered entirely as a tool-like medium without being shaped and determined by the dynamics of social relations”

and it would be “unrealistic” to assume that (English) is expected to function in a cultural void of the non-native contexts of (English) make it “highly an ideological language.” This supposedly neutral nature of English, according to Dua, is intended to enhance its value and promote its spread vis-à-vis indigenous languages and is a politically motivated notion when it is considered from the point of view of its learners and promoters.128 He held English responsible for the maintenance and development of “a great deal of linguistic inequality.” To him, English cannot be a “neutral issue either for the speakers or the indigenous languages”.129 The ideological encumbrance of English is beginning to be recognised by many scholars. Fishman, who has highlighted intimate relationship between language and ethnicity in his writings, seems to have realized his error of judgement in claiming English to be “ethically and ideologically unencumbered.”130 While correcting his earlier position, he pointed out that “degree of involvement or interpretation in connection with the actual or possible spread of English” should be viewed as a variable rather than a constant. He remarked: The relative unrelatedness of English to ideological issues in much of the Third World today must not be viewed as a phenomenon that requires no further qualification. Westernization, modernization, the spread of international youth culture, popular technology and consumerism are all ideologically encumbered and have ideological as well as behavioural and econo-technical consequences.131

Gauri Viswanathan’s Masks of Conquest is one of the significant attempts to situate the history of English education in its appropriate 128

Dua 8-9. Dua 9. 130 Dua 8. 131 Dua 8. 129


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political context. Drawing upon Gramsci’s writing on culture and power, she establishes “the adaptation of the context of English literary education to the administrative and political imperatives of British rule.”132 Demonstrating the relationship between the Indian Civil Service examinations and the expansion of English literature in schools and universities, she has argued that “English literature appeared as a subject in the curriculum of the colonies long before it was institutionalized in the home country.” She has tried to capture the relationship between the educational histories of England and India which is best understood as structured on the principle of complementarity. In her view, because of a well-entrenched learned class in India that was recognised by the British themselves continued to exert power and influence over the people and the policy of religious neutrality in education which prevented the British from using education for promoting moral discipline, English literature was called into “to perform the functions of those social institutions (such as the church) that, in England, served as the chief disseminators of value, tradition, and authority”.133 She points out that the predominance of English literature in the syllabus was a political move aimed to satisfy certain colonial needs and was essentially a strategy of containment.

Elphinstone’s Pragmatism: Differentiated Language Policy Elphinstone knew that it was hard to bring about any change in the social life of the conquered society, which was so deeply suffused with an institutionalised caste system. Instead of favouring any radical changes, he employed, what George W. Forrest called, “wise and conciliatory measures” in order to reconcile “the several classes of Mahratta society to the foreign rule.”134 Ballhatchet’s investigations into the staffing of district headquarter establishment in the coastal districts immediately after the fall of the Peshwa show that the British, at first, consciously attempted to appoint their staffs from their former servants under the Peshwa.135 Elphinstone held the view that reforms could be introduced in the Indian society without dismantling the basic fabric of the society. Thinking that the political institutions and social usages which had lasted 132

Viswanathan 3. Viswanathan 7. 134 Elphinstone 56. 135 Ellen E. McDonald. “The Modernisation of Communication: Vernacular Publishing in Nineteenth Century Maharashtra.” Asian Survey 8.7 (1968): 595. 133

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for centuries could not be entirely devoid of merit”, he decided to preserve the long-lasting institutions by maintaining the hereditary rights, giving the jahƗgirs back to their owners, establishing pensions, charitable and religious assignments and restoring the endowments. According to George W. Forrest, Elphinstone, unlike the Mohammedan government, had understood that the nobles of the Deccan were foreigners to the people; but they were of the same nation and religion. He also saw that the Mohammedans in their most powerful days never attained complete success in taking the place of the local princes, and in substituting their own for native law and organisation and he tried to avoid, as far as possible, attempting what the Mohammedans failed to do.136 Like the authorities in Bengal, the Government of Bombay showed little interest in the promotion of English education in the early nineteenth century. Beyond providing some financial aid to a few charity schools run by the Company’s chaplains as well as to a number of schools administered by the Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor, the authorities largely ignored the educational needs of the natives well until the third decade of the nineteenth century.137 The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor encouraged both native and European boys to attend the schools. After establishing the Sanskrit School in Pune, Elphinstone played a role in the formation of the Native School and School Book Society. This step was taken so that the work of the parent society in giving Christian education to Europeans and Anglo-Indians might not be confounded with the work of native education, and bring against the latter the religious hostility of the Indians.138 The object of this society was “primarily to promote useful knowledge in the languages of the country, both by procuring and circulating publications and by establishing and assisting native schools.”139 The role of the missionaries in colonial India has remained unattended to by the postcolonial researchers. There is a difference of opinion among the scholars over the issue of the missionary contribution to the growth of egalitarianism in India and the spread of education among the masses. Many postcolonial critics see the missionary enterprise in the colonial India as part of the grand imperial design. Some other historians have 136

Elphinstone 56. McCully 27. 138 McCully 28. 139 K. S. Vakil and S. Natrajan, Education in India (1948; Bombay: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1966) 61. 137


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shown the dichotomous relationship between the missionaries and the imperial power.140 Hayden J. A. Bellenoit has demonstrated that missionary understandings and interactions with India, rather than being party to imperial ideologies, often diverged from metropolitan and imperial norms.141 Jana Tschurenev has also shown how the missionary educationists were conscious of the consequences of “too much civilising” and how they wanted people to be educated according to the social position they were to occupy after they left school.142 The relationship between the missionaries and the colonial state was not always uniform and untroubled. The East India Company continued to support the missionaries until it was a mercantile company. After the battle of Plassy, the Company assumed power. Thereafter, the missionary enterprise was positively discouraged. The proposals in the Charter of 1793, which had encouraged the missionaries, were expunged as “positively dangerous and absurd”; nor was the response of the Indian intelligentsia to the missionaries uniform. The conservative reformers like M. G. Ranade143 and Swami Vivekanand144 criticised the missionaries and the Europeans for they were providing education to the lower castes, which was seen as threat to the religious as well as social order. On the contrary, Jotirao Phule and B. R. Ambedkar admired the role that the 140

S. R. Dongerkery, University Education in India (Bombay: C. Manaktak and Sons Pvt. Ltd., 1967) 15-20. 141 Hayden J. A. Ballenoit, Missionary Education and Empire in Late Colonial India, 1860-1920 (London: Pickering and Chatto Publishers) 2007. 142 Jana Tschurenev. Imperial Experiments in Education: Monitorial Schooling in India, 1789-1835. Diss. Humboldt University, Berlin. u.d. 143 Ranade wrote: Under no conceivable circumstances can the education of a great nation like the Hindus be solely or chiefly entrusted to persons, who have come to this country to destroy the national faiths, and to convert the nation to Christianity, and whose work is supported by the charitable contributions of pious people from foreign countries. —Ramabai Ranade, Ed., Miscellaneous Writings of the Late Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. G. Ranade (1915; New Delhi: Sahitya Akadami, 1992) 286. 144 Vivekanand wrote: …And the Europeans are now educating those ignorant, illiterate low caste people, who toil fields in their loin cloth, are of non-Aryan race. They are none of us. This is going to weaken us and give benefit to both these Europeans and the low caste people. —Braj Ranjan Mani. Debrahmanising History: Dominance and Resistance in Indian Society. (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2005) 226.

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missionaries played with regard to education of the lower castes. Realising the potential cleavage to be caused by the missionary intervention in Indian society social system, Elphinstone preferred to cautiously abstained from any encouragement or support to the missionary activity. His disfavour to the missionaries was rooted in the fact that the missionaries used to work among the untouchables. Elphinstone remained perhaps the most influential civil servant of the East India Company in Western India. As a diplomat and administrator, he played a decisive role at the historic juncture of the transfer of power from the Peshwa to the British. He used his entire experience as a resident during the Peshwa régime in Pune, especially while dealing with the Peshwa in the last Maratha war and in his post-war negotiations with the brahmins in Pune. He believed that social institutions and moral values were deeply rooted in the traditions of a society, and he also believed that any attempt to change them overnight could only lead to disaster.145 In August 1818, he took a cautious step on the matter of sati and refused to prohibit the practice: “I cannot sanction the slightest interposition of authority in a case so closely connected with the religious prejudices of the Hindoos.” Being a conservative, he feared radical reforms and popular power. He hoped to modify Indian institutions without breaking traditional élites and their institutions. He was convinced that reforms could safely be introduced in a society by achieving a fine balance between change and stability and development and tradition. He argued that reform ought to reconcile the conflicting principles of conservation and correction, for the reformer assumed that some of the attributes of his society were worthy of being preserved.146 To him, true reform presupposed the modification of the traditional order by shearing of “obsolete forms and stultifying excrescences” and the preservation of the traditional institutions of a society by “modifying them to reinforce their spirit and to reinvigorate their style.” He was not in favour of the education of the lower castes. If the lower castes were to be educated at all, he thought, it should not cause any disharmony in the society. He was surprised by the overwhelming percentage of the educated people among the brahmins, whereas a great body of the people was quite illiterate and hence he established the need of restructuring the education system. He presumed that if the matter of education were left to the 145 146

Kumar 45. Kumar 47.


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brahmins, it would decline among the brahmins themselves without increasing among the other castes. He was also convinced that the Indian society suffered from deeper flaws like child-marriage and money lending and “one remedy to all this” was education. While Elphinstone regarded elementary vernacular education as of fundamental importance, he also suggested the foundation of a school in Bombay for the teaching of the English language, history, geography and the popular branches of science through the medium of English. He envisioned this to be a school for the children of the upper classes: “ boy should be admitted until he was approved by the Committee, and a preference should be given to the sons of wealthy natives and to boys that show particular promise of talent.” This arrangement was to be there for a few years. However, “when the School became more extended”, he added, “a separate class should be instituted for the lower castes”.147 For him, English education was to civilise the indigenous culture marked by the horrors “of self-immolation and of infanticide.” Elphinstone distinguished the British from the other colonial powers which were interested in proselitization and whose greatest interest lay in keeping their subjects ignorant. Entrusting the British rule with the high responsiblity of civilising the Indians, he thought that the British should foster education though it might be their own “high road back to Europe.” Replying to one of his friends, John Lock, who was involved in the educational activities at home, he wrote: We are educating the native from the same feeling but not with the same enthusiasm as you describe at home. Here it is a more importantand more hazardous experiment than in Europe, but it is I think our very first duty and it will be better for us to love the country by the effects of our liberality than to keep it like Dutchmen or Spaniards; not that I think the immediate danger of our losing the country increased by education, on the contrary, the immediate danger is much diminished, but there can be no doubt that when the natives get more extended notions, they-will first ask for a share of their own for Government and whole.148

Elphinstone regarded English education as a means that could achieve moral shift in the behavioural structures of the indigenous society. He even was hopeful that education would alter the patriarchal structures that had been in existence in the form of sati and infanticide. However, his 147

Ballhatchet 1961 262. Sulochana Krishnamoorty. “English Education and Its Impact on Society in Bombay (1854-1905). Diss. Bombay U, Bombay. 1987. 55.


Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


rhetoric of educating the masses, whereby he intended to bring them in the purview of civilisation, remained only a lip service. His view of restricting the spread of education up to those men who have more zeal and more time to devote to the object of education was to be self-contradictory. His liberalism collapsed when he authored the exclusionary policy by forfeiting the lowest caste students from education: It is observed that the missionaries find the lowest castes the best pupils. But we must be careful how we offer any special encouragement to men of that description. They are not only the most deprived, but among the least numerous of the great divisions of society; and it is to be feared that if our system of education first root among them, it would never spread further, and that we might find ourselves at the head of a new class superior to the rest in useful knowledge, but hated and despised by the castes to whom these new attainments would always induce us to prefer them. Such a state of things would be desirable, of we were contended to rest our power on our army or on the attachment of a part of the population, but is inconsistent with every attempt to found it on a more extended basis.149

Elphinstone’s Minute clearly illustrates that he was acutely conscious of caste system and the potential threat that liberal English education could cause to it and its resultant rampage. The British could not afford the brahmins’ wrath at that juncture. Therefore, though he was desirous of modernisation of Pune College, he refused to do so and continued to conciliate the brahmins. Bruce points out that Elphinstone’s scheme of education was designed principally for the upper castes. His assumption was that “the widespread education of the lower castes would only create a new class superior in accomplishment to the higher, and therefore preferred to office, but hated and despised by them.”150 Conforming to the traditional division of caste, he recommended a dual education system. The native vernacular schools were to be maintained to “secure (sufficiently) very general improvement in the education of the lower order.”151 However, his entire project of modernising traditional education was to be centred around the Sanskrit College and the brahmins were to be made significant agents of modernisation. This modernisation was aimed at the emergence of English as a high language, slowly substituting Sanskrit. Warren Hastings’s “pragmatic concern” to conciliate the Indian élite continued to be evident in the post-Hastings education policy. Elphinstone’s 149

Elphinstone 105. McCully 29. 151 Elphinstone 88. 150


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educational ideology shared in many respects Hastings’s views on language policy. In the words of Zastoupil and Moir, Elphinstone, along with Thomas Munro and John Malcolm, formed the empire-of-opinion group. They shared the view that “the British empire was one of opinion, meaning that it would stand only so long as British power was unchallenged and the British could secure the good opinion of their Indian subjects.” They encouraged respect for Indian culture, arguing always that the British should always build their rule upon the solid foundation of the indigenous traditions.152 This understanding of the empire-of-opinion group was born of the organic relationship with the Indian society and remained a guiding principle for the colonial state for long. Elphinstone’s strategy to promote education involved close cooperation with the élites. Although he distinguished “European knowledge” from “Hindu learning”, he did not make the separation complete. European and Hindu were not polarised entities to him.153 Unlike the utilitarians, he was reluctant to abandon the brahminical tradition of learning. Though he was aware of the fact that many branches of Hindu divinity and mythology were “worse than useless”, any negligence of them would cause a threat to their rule: It cannot be denied that this is an unprofitable part of the establishment, and it is to these branches of learning that Mr. Chaplin alludes when he says that some are worse than useless; but we must not forget that we are founding...a seminary among a most bigoted people, where knowledge has always been in the hands of the priesthood, and where science itself is considered as a branch of religion....I do not think we could possibly have excluded the usual theological professorships without showing hostility to the Hindu faith which it was our object to avoid and irritating those prejudices of the people which it was the professed design of the institution to soothe or to remove.154

Elphinston’s Minute clearly demonstrates the colonial rulers’ ability to frame an educational policy that would serve the colonial interests . His policy of promoting literacy and civilisation among the natives was in a way a well-planned strategy which involved close co-operation with the native élites, conservation as well as modernisation of the traditional education system, production of textbooks, foundation of education societies, well-elaborated scheme of raising fund locally, translating from 152

Zastoupil 10. J. Masselos, “The Discourse from the Other Side : Perceptions of Science and Technology in Western India in the Nineteenth century” in Wagle N. K. 115. 154 Elphinstone 108. (Emphasis added.) 153

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


English into Marathi and provision of awarding prizes, caution against the missionary intervention and the Peshwa’s largesses to the brahminical learning. Though he was conscious of the usefulness of Western education, he showed a keener perception of the political significance of traditional education. He had an acute understanding of the brahmins’ power of influencing the people and, therefore, showed deep concern for the material deterioration of the brahmins after the fall of the Peshwa Raj. His request to the Court of Directors for “the partial continuance of the Dakshina” was one way of “preventing popular discontent.” He justified the British strategy of patronising brahminical learning though he was well aware of the seamy side of this alliance. He contended that though the learning cultivated by “a class of men” in the Peshwa régime was obscure and degenerate, it bore real affinity to real science.155 As compared to the London-based bureaucrats or Anglicists, he was very much alive to the fact that the British had to operate in a society in which knowledge occupied a key position and a certain group had traditionally monopolised it.156 This position carries importance as it contradicts with Elphinstone’s own understanding that the Indian doctors’ knowledge of medical science was dubious. Elphinstone did not favour English at the neglect of Sanskrit or Marathi altogether.157 When the social life in Western India was still very slow and unaffected by the socio-cultural onslaught of colonialism, he took the strategic decision of not imposing English or allowing it to replace Sanskrit or Marathi so quickly. He saw “little immediate hope of diffusing knowledge of the English language and European literature.”158 155

Elphinstone 110. Elphinstone 108. 157 The continued dominance of the upper classes and the differentiated language policy is also evident in Wheeler’s account of the educational scenario: During the last thirty years education in India has made an extraordinary advance under the national system introduced by the British government. Every school of any pretensions receives a grant-in-aid according to the yearly results of its teaching, and is brought under government revision; and furor for English education has been setting in, which promises to convert the wealthier classes into English-speaking people. At the same time the Native languages are by no means neglected, but Sanskrit is taught to the better classes, whilst much is being done to promote a better knowledge of the vernaculars amongst the masses. —J. Talboys Wheeler, Tales From Indian History (1881; Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co., 1890)198. 158 McCully 104. 156

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However, such a state was not to last for long. He very successfully articulated the language policy whereby English had to emerge as a high language, though at a later date. He argued: If English could be at all diffused among persons who have the least time for reflections, the progress of knowledge by means of it would be accelerated in a tenfold ratio, since every man who made himself acquainted with a science through the English would be able to communicate it in his own language to his countrymen. At present, however, there is but little desire to learn English with any such view.159

This can be considered as another contradiction in Elphinstone’s Minute. Viewed carefully and closely, these contradictions do not exhibit any flaw in his thinking. Instead, they represent the contradictory exigencies that the colonial rulers’ alliance with the dominant castes had created. The strong urge that the dominant castes had displayed in order to continue their hegemonic position was one of the early predicaments that the colonial rulers had to engage with. Elphinstone’s Minute exhibits the exceptional brilliance and uncommon acumen that the colonial rulers possessed to deal with such predicaments.

Anglicism as Élitism: From Elphinstone to Perry Elphinstone always saw the diffusion of English education to be of immense use for the study of European sciences. Being aware that the brahmins would not tolerate any kind of state interference in their religion and social matters, he practised the laissez-faire policy. Such a scenario in Pune compelled him to schematise differentiated language policy for Pune, which was still a conservative town, and Bombay, which was an upcoming industrial centre. Though aware of the urgency of such an intervention in the college, he showed political wisdom by abstaining from such a move. In his report, which he drew up on leaving the Deccan, he had suggested that the dakshina gifts might be awarded for proficiency in “more useful branches of learning” than “Hindoo Divinity” and some professors might be appointed to teach such subjects.160 Even in the city of Bombay, the class division caused a further fissure in language policy. Though English education was decided upon, it was not to be disseminated liberally and equally. When an English school, in which instruction was given in English in history, geography and the 159 160

Elphinstone 95. Ballhatchet 252.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


popular branches of science, was established in Bombay, it was to be meant for the “sons of wealthy natives” and to the boys with a promise to talent. When well established, a separate class was started for the students of the lower orders.161 Elphinstone thought that English education could be used as a modernising force. For him the Indian society was highly superstitious and uncivilised and hence he advocated English education. When cholera broke out in Northern Konka৆, several unfortunate persons, who were believed to have magical powers, were murdered. Elphinstone was convinced that such superstitions could be removed only by the promotion of education among the masses. He was by no means blind to the value of providing Indians with opportunities of acquiring knowledge of European science through the English language. In his view, wherever was a desire for English education, it should be fostered. The thought about the potential spread of English education in the hierarchical society continued to return to his mind even after he left India. In 1832, he wrote: I conceive it is more important to impart a higher degree of education to the upper classes than to diffuse a much lower sort of it among the common people. That is also highly important: but it is not the point in which there is most deficiency at present. It will besides be much easier to make the lower orders desirous of learning to read, after a spirit of enquiry, and improvement shall have been introduced among their superiors. The most important branch of education in my opinion is that designed to prepare natives for public employment. It is important, not only from its contributing so directly to the general improvement, but also from the stimulus it affords to education among the better class of natives by connecting it with their interest. I conceive that the study of English ought to be encouraged by all means and that few things will be so effectual in enlightening the natives and bringing them nearer to us: but I have no hope that even it will be more than a learned language, or at best a language spoken among people of education, as Persian is now in some parts of India.162


R. D. Choksey, Mountstuart Elphinstone: The Indian Years 1796-1827 (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1971) 383. 162 A. L. Covernton. “The Educational Policy of Mountstuart Elphinstone.” Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series) Vol. II (1926): 67-8.


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Elphinstone had expressed his Anglicist position, which was to strengthen social hierarchy through discriminated distribution of English, three years before the Macaulay Project was launched. Elphinstone’s stance was more discriminatory as he openly supported the selective distribution of English and the consequent perpetuation of caste-class hierarchy. Both Elphinstone and John Malcolm discriminated against the lower castes and favoured the brahmins in their plans for English education. For Malcolm, the brahmins were the most suffered and displaced class. In his view, selective distribution of English education was necessary in order to ensure the conciliation of this class and strengthen the British rule in Western India. He published a proclamation inviting candidates, from the brahmin or other respectable Hindoo castes or Musalmaans, for instruction at Bombay in “land surveying, accounts and the arts of fiscal administration, as well as the duties required of public servants in the judicial department”. He also promised the students with servants of their own caste. The course had to last two or three years, after which each student would receive a certificate of his qualification entitling him to immediate employment in a subordinate post under a Collector or Judge.163 Elphinstone had defended the growth of English education on the grounds that it contributed to general improvement and that it appealed to the better classes by uniting their interests with those of the government. However, this shift did not mark a very fundamental change in his policy documented in his famous Minute. Hampton rightly argues that this indicates a change of emphasis only, for Elphinstone never intended that English education should develop to such an extent that its growth would retard the growth of elementary schools. As early as 1824, he had expressed a cautious opinion that English will never be so generally known as to be the instrument of diffusing knowledge through all ranks, may be wished, but certainly should never be calculated on.164 The peasants were to be educated not to ensure their participation in the bureaucratic mode but to make them better subjects. The educated peasants were to understand the declaration of the Government, decipher their revenue certificates and work out their own accounts. In the Bombay Presidency, the settlement of revenue by the British compelled them to educate the peasants. “The lamentable state of ignorance” into which the peasants were sunk often posed difficulties to the British in the administration of the land revenue records. Therefore, the peasants were to 163

Ballahatchet 268. H. V. Hampton, Biographical Studies in Modern Indian Education (Madras: Oxford U P, 1947) 177.


Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


be educated to the extent of enabling them reading and writing the simple rules of arithmetic and land measurement. This was to enable them to check the returns of the village accountants.165 Elphinstone’s élitism with regard to English was to become a guiding principle for the Anglicists in the later period. While delivering a speech at the annual examination of the Elphinstone Institution in April 1848, Sir Erskine Perry, the President of the Board of Education for nine years and a staunch Anglicist, made an elaborate statement on the colonial state’s deliberate choice of selective distribution of English education. His speech appeared at a juncture when the controversy over the medium of education was being seriously debated among the colonial administrators. The Anglicists as well as the Vernacularists had agreed upon the idea that English should be used to nurture a select few and vernacular should be taught to the vast majority. His argument was premised on the colonial assumption that in order to make government education a large scale success, it was essential to environ it with the sympathies and interests of the influential classes in the community.166 Finally, as Anil Seal argued, Elphinstone’s policies might have possibly saved British dominion in Western India; however, they certainly postponed the decline of brahminical preeminence in the Bombay Province.167 The Orientalists, the Vernacularists and the Anglicists did not have distinctly different ideological positions. As their proponents were operating in the same social structure and as many of them belonged to what was called a class of pan-Indian élites, they shared much of each others’ ideologies. For example, as Susie Tharu has observed, the Orientalists, the Vernacularists and the Anglicists broadly agreed that Indians urgently needed to study English literature and European sciences. Their only differences on this count concerned strategy and constituency. The Orientalists were not fundamentally opposed to the Anglicists. Their only insistence was that Anglicism should not uproot their own language, literature and culture. The Vernacularists had also commonly agreed that the vernaculars were incapable of transmitting the modern discourse and, hence, required to be restructured by taking assistance from both Sanskrit and English. The Anglicists assumed that English was 165

Copy of Dispatch from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor General of India in Council, dated July 19TH, 1854 No. 49, 27-8. 166 Sir Erskine Perry. “Speech at the Annual Examination of the Elphinstone Institution at Bombay on 25 April 1848.” Oriental Christian Spectator. Vol.-19 (June, 1848): 198. 167 Anil Seal, The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboaration in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1968) 78.


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indispensable if the colonial rule and colonial knowledge system were to survive. Both the Orientalists and the Anglicists also shared, as Tharu argues, the primarily utilitarian notion that education was a disciplinary project.168 They seemed to accept that the differentiated educational policy had to serve the political function of maintaining the fractures in the social structure. This mutual consent to the political implications of the other ideologies allowed the simultaneous existence of all the three language ideologies in Western India for long. Raf Gelders and Willem Derde have also argued that the differences between Orientalists and Anglicists have been superficial when it comes to the assessment of the fundamental structure of the Indian society.169 In his recent work Cultural Politics of English as an International Language, Alstair Pennycook has gone beyond the traditional dichotomies and stereotypes that characterise the historiography of English and the vernacular and has argued that English was promoted and its role strengthened in the dual discourses of Orientalism and Anglicism. Pennycook has explored how the complex ways in which both the policies existed side-by-side to serve the agenda of the colonial rule. He theorises the complementary relation of Orientalism and Anglicism thus: First, both Anglicism and Orientalism operated alongside each other; second, Orientalism was as much a part of colonialism as was Anglicism; third, English was withheld as much as it was promoted; fourth, colonised people demanded access to English; and finally, the power of English was not so much in its widespread imposition but in its operating as the eye of the colonial panopticon.170


…they [the Orientalists, the vernacularists and the Anglicists] conceived of education as a means of shaping Indian subjects, who, equipped with disciplined minds and bodies, would not only be in a better apposition to understand Imperial laws, but also have the necessary ethical discrimination and mental cultivation to desire and appreciate the rational, humane and impartial government that the new rulers were trying to set up. —Susie Tharu, Ed. Subject to Change: Teaching Literature in the Nineties (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1998) 5. 169 Raf Gelders and Willem Derde. “Mantras of Anti-Brahmanism: Colonial Experience of Indian Intellectuals.” Economic and Political Weekly 38:43 (2003) 4611-7. 170 Pennycook quoted in A. Suresh Canagrajah, Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. (1999) (Oxford: Oxford U P 2000) 58.

Language Politics: Translation of Coercion into Consent


Though the Orientalists and the vernacularists had lost their ground to the Anglicists, Sanskrit had continued to retain its importance and its existence was perpetuated and legitimised through its institutionalisation. The government had continued its grant to the schools in which Sanskrit was taught. Sumathy Ramaswamy has shown that Sanskrit became increasingly available to all those who were interested in studying it as it was introduced into the curricula of numerous high schools, colleges and universities, sometimes even as a compulsory requirement.171 M. G. Ranade supported the government grants to rural schools in which the traditional Sanskrit curriculum was taught on the grounds that rigorous study of Sanskrit would elevate the moral character of students.172 At a higher level, Sanskrit also continued to be one of the major subjects to be studied, for example, in Mumbai University.173 It was made a mandatory second language in the guise of classical language; and in other institutions, it was allowed to be studied in lieu of mother tongue.174 Finally, to assume that the Orientalists, the Anglicists and the Vernacularists had interests contradictory to one another would mean that the varying interest groups within the ruling classes had contradictions within themselves, which is an unsustainable belief.


Sumathy Ramaswamy. “Sanskrit for the Nation.” Modern Asian Studies 33.2 (1999): 351. 172 Richard P Tucker, Ranade and the Roots of Indian Nationalism (1972; Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1977) 76. 173 Maya Narkar, “A Linguistic Study of the Nineteenth Century Marathi Translations” Diss., Shivaji University, Kolhapur, 1990, 119. 174 Sumathy Ramaswamy has complained that there are no detailed studies of the spread of Sanskrit education in the various provinces of colonial India. She cited the opinion of the Sanskrit Commission in this regard: …these Universities threw the portals of Sanskrit learning wide open to all pupils. In a sense, these Universities were primarily responsible for popularising the study of Sanskrit. —Ramaswamy 351.


Sanskrit I conceive to be the grand storehouse, from which strength and beauty may be drawn for the Vernacular languages and it is therefore highly deserving of cultivation; but it cannot furnish from its stores the matter of instruction, nor can it ever be the medium of instruction to more than a few.1 —Major Candy

Standardisation of various regional languages is relatively a more recent phenomenon. Capitalism has an inherent tendency to homogenise and standardise various processes - cultural as well as material. Calling standard language a “normalised” product, Pierre Bourdieu has shown that standardisation of language is a modern phenomenon, which has emerged along with modern industry.2 Standardisation of some of the languages is traced back to the 10th century.3 Standard languages also developed in some countries in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In Italy, Spain, France and Romania, there were a variety of dialects of the vernacular languages. From these dialects, there gradually emerged a standard, generally based on the dialects used in a centre of the country. However, many languages—both European and non-European—began to be standardised


Report of Board of Education [henceforth, RBE] for the Years 1847 and 1848 No. VII (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1850) 180. 2 Bourdieu writes: Like the different crafts and trades which, before the advent of a largescale industry, constituted, in Marx’s phrase, so many separate “enclosures”, local variants of the langue d”oil differed from one parish to another until the eighteenth century. —Bourdieu, Pierre. Language and Symbolic Power. Trans. Ginto Raymond and Matthew Adamson (1992; Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994) 46. 3 Richard Hogg and David Denison, A History of the English Language (New York: Cambridge U P, 2006) 271.

The Standardisation of Marathi


in the nineteenth century. In a country like India, colonialism played a decisive role in the standardisation of many languages.4 Standardisation of language has been looked at from both the instrumentalist and the sociolinguistic perspectives. The instrumentalist perspective valorizes the process of standardisation. It sees standardisation “as a tool and defines it in terms of efficiency, rationality and commonality.” That standardisation is necessary for a wider circulation of ideology continues to be a dominant argument. Standardisation is motivated by various socio-political and cultural needs of the dominant class in a given society. Some linguists have defined the characteristics of standard language as efficiency, economy, rationality, adequacy, clarity, commonality, acceptability and aesthetics.5 Some scholars also have equated linguistic homogeneity with economic development. Jonathan Pool has argued that a country that is linguistically highly heterogeneous is always underdeveloped, and a country that is developed always has considerable linguistic uniformity.6

Heterogeneity is perceived as a hindrance to progress as it generates conflict. The term “language standardisation” designates the process of change in status, function and form by which a dialect becomes “standard”. The sociolinguistic perspective delegitimises the notion of a standard and indicates that standardisation is a deliberate and conscious attempt of a certain group. James Milroy and Lesley Milroy have distinguished between two kinds of mechanism that tend to encourage stability in the use of a language or dialect. Both may apply at any level of society but one or the other may be dominant at some levels. The first mechanism is covert and informal pressure for language maintenance, which is exerted by members of one’s peer-group or social group. The second is overt and involves institutional


Janet Holmes, An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (1992; Edinburgh Gate: Pearson Education Limited, 2001) 77. 5 Bhalchandra Nemade, The Influence of English on Marathi: A Sociolinguistic and Stylistic Study (Panaji: Prabhakar Bhide, 1990) 98. 6 Aditi Mukharji. “The Standard Problem.” Directions in Indian Sociolinguistics. R. S. Gupta. Ed. (Shimla: Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2000) 86.


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enforcement of norms through public channels such as the educational and broadcasting systems.7 For Gramsci, language is a crucial element of politics. He does not define language in a technical sense. According to him, usage of language is affected by state action and non-state activities in civil society. He explicitly relates the study of language to hegemony. While relating so, Gramsci writes: Every time the question of language surfaces, in one way or another, it means that series of other problems are coming to the fore: the formation and enlargement of the governing class, the need to more intimate and secure relationships between the governing groups and the nationalpopular mass, in other words to recognize the cultural hegemony.8

Thus, for him, language is an important constituent of hegemony. He has developed two concepts, which are helpful in understanding hegemony: “normative grammar” and “spontaneous grammar” or “immanent grammar”. Peter Ives has summarised Gramsci’s views on grammar and hegemony.9 By “spontaneous grammar”, Gramsci means those patterns we follow while speaking that are unconscious and seem natural. He writes: “There is the grammar “immanent” in language itself, by which one speaks “according to grammar” without knowing it…” He rejects the idea that we can speak without grammar. Unlike Croce’s more narrow definition of grammar—“the rules with which grammarians analyse language and impose proper ways of speaking”—for Gramsci, the order and pattern of language even when unconscious are significant and labeled as “spontaneous grammar”. Normative grammar refers to “a pedagogical tool aimed at making it easier to learn a language by explaining its structure”. It is close to the common-sense understanding of “grammar” as meaning the conscious rules that we follow in order to speak correctly. This is similar to what linguists call “prescriptive grammar”. Ives has discussed two attributes of normative grammar. The first is Gramsci’s expansion of normative grammar to include how we use grammatical correctness or what is appropriate to make social distinction,


James Milroy and Lesley Milroy, Authority in Language: Investigating Language Prescription and Standardsation (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985) 56. 8 Peter Ives, Language and Hegemony in Gramsci (London: Pluto Press, 2004) 82. 9 Ives 89-101.

The Standardisation of Marathi


and power differentials among different speakers. The second is his relation of it to history. Gramsci broadens the usual notion of grammar: Besides the ‘immanent [spontaneous] grammar’ in every language, there is also in reality (i.e. even if not written) a ‘normative’ grammar (or more than one). This is made up of the reciprocal monitoring, reciprocal teaching, reciprocal ‘censorship’ expressed in such questions as ‘What did you mean to say?’, ‘What do you mean?’, ‘Make yourself clearer’, etc., and in mimicry and teasing. This whole complex of actions and reactions come together to create a grammatical conformism, to establish ‘norms’ or judgements of correctness and incorrectness.10

Thus, Ives sums up, Gramsci includes within the very concept of normative grammar the social processes of how such grammars are formed. Where most linguists limit normative grammar to the rules that constitute it, Gramsci includes more informal processes and by extension the less codified rules and how they are enforced in everyday speech.11

Standard Language and Social Status Linguists have not successfully explained why spoken language changes perpetually. Some approaches emphasise internal characteristics of the language system itself and do not consider the social factors the primary causes of change. However, languages, Milroy and Milroy argue, do not exist independently of their speakers, and if changes take place in them, such changes must be the reflexes of speaker innovations, established as new norms by speaker acceptance. It has been consistently demonstrated and observed that linguistic changes often correlate with social factors. The studies undertaken by Labov and Trudgill, for example, have demonstrated the correlationship between variation in language use and social structure. Recent sociolinguistic research has stressed the change in progress at the present day, and it has been largely concerned with changes in pronunciation. B. R. Bapuji’s study of the use of aspiration shows that the brahmin Telugu speakers, irrespective of their other social characteristics, viz., social class, age, sex, etc., showed the highest percentage of aspirated stops in their speech.12 In Tamil, inflections engendered by caste status 10

Ives 93. Ives 93. 12 B. R. Bapuji, Essays in the Sociology of Language (Madras: T. R. Publications, 1994) 41. 11


Chapter Four

went beyond mere conventions of dialect to encompass differences in vocabulary and syntax. A. K. Ramanujan’s study of Tamil speech shows that the “Tamil spoken by Brahmins and that spoken by ‘untouchables’ even in the same village…was variegated in the extreme.”13 As far back as 1933, Leonard Bloomfield suggested a relationship between language and social status and implied that the acquisition of the latter could be assisted by manipulation of the former: Children who are born into homes of privilege, in the way of wealth, tradition, or education, become negative speakers of what is popularly known as ‘good’ English; the linguist prefers to give it the non-committal name of standard English. Less fortunate children become native speakers of ‘bad’ or ‘vulgar’ or, as the linguist prefers to call it non-standard English.14

Bloomfield elaborated upon the relationship between language and social status and suggested that there is a strong desire among the lower classes to imitate the “desirable variant” of the “socially more privileged groups.” According to him, even in the smaller and less stratified speechcommunities, which have segregated no standard speech-forms, the speaker usually knows which variants will do him/her better service. Bloomfield further argued that the acquisition of social status is manipulated through the aspiration for standard language: The background of our popular ideas about language is the fanciful doctrine of the eighteenth century ‘grammarians’.... It would not have been possible for ‘grammarians’ to bluff a large part of our speech community and they would not have undertaken to do so.... It is no accident that the ‘grammarians’ arose when they did. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries our society went through great changes; many persons and families rose into relatively privileged positions and had to change from non-standard to standard speech.15

The social prestige attached to standard language and the social sanction it is awarded to even by the lower classes legitimise its role. Users of both standard and non-standard language look upon standard 13

David Washbrook. “To Each a Language of His Own: Language, Culture and Society in Colonial India.” Language, History and Class. Penelope T. Corfield. Ed. (1984, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991) 181. 14 Leonard Bloomfield, Language (1935; Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Pvt. Pvt. Ltd., 2005) 48. 15 Bloomfield 496-7.

The Standardisation of Marathi


language as “good”, “pure”, “correct”, etc. and non-standard as “bad”, “incorrect”, “vulgar” or “uncivilised”. Standard language enjoys a wider recognition and legitimacy as it is used in schools, judiciary, media, etc. and is promoted through deliberate government efforts. Some scholars admire the notion of standard language with an assumption that a dialect is “ephemeral” while standard language is permanent. Standard language is considered to be a prestigious language variety in the society and prestigious status is awarded to it by the élites. The non-élites pursue standard language, as they are partly conscious of this. Recent scholarship on the issue of language standardisation is more critical about the socio-cultural repercussions of standardisation. The chief linguistic characterisation of standardisation is the suppression of optional variability at all levels of language – in pronunciation (phonology), spelling, grammar (morphology and syntax) and lexicon.16 Milroy and Milroy define standardisation as the suppression of optional variability in language, observing that the various stages that are usually involved in the development of standard language may be described as the consequence of a need for uniformity that is felt by influential portions of a society at a given time.17 Milroy and Milroy cited the study of Boyd and Boyd to argue that standard varieties have advantages over non-standard varieties. However, non-standard dialects also have a potential linguistic variability, which mostly lacks in the standard language. Such variability is sacrificed for the sake of the standard. For example, the language system of Standard English has no grammatical resource for differentiating between the singular and plural in the second person pronoun (you). There are dialects, which have a categorical distinction between you (singular) and yous (plural). In such dialects (e.g. Northern Irish), a comment like I’ll see you tomorrow will be understood to be directed to only one person in a given group: I’ll see yous tomorrow will be preferred when two or more persons are addressed. Milroy and Milroy complain that the so-called guardians of language do not generally recommend the “superior” systems of non-standard dialects. Their real concerns are not wholly linguistic but largely social.18 The suppression of language variability at the hands of the advocates of standard language adversely affects the students coming from the 16

Milroy et al. 36. Milroy and Milroy quoted in Richard Hogg and David Denison, A History of the English Language. (New York: Cambridge U P, 2006) 273. 18 Milroy et al. 14-5. 17


Chapter Four

communities that speak non-standard language. The less learning received by the lower class children is usually attributed to their verbal deprivation. In other words, this mistaken understanding of these children presupposes that they receive less education because of their verbal deprivation. Basil Bernstein considered two different codes to characterise working class and middle class discourses - “restricted” and “elaborated” codes respectively. The restricted code is context-bound, local and particularistic; it does not provide adequate linguistic resources for the production of discourses capable of general or universal commentary. The elaborated code, on the other hand, is characterised precisely by its ability to facilitate forms of self-reflexive engagement with the world and universal concept formation. Though Bernstein did not posit a simple match, he argued that working class children are disempowered by educational system. By citing the experiment undertaken by Peter Hawking, Bernstein argues that two speech codes are specific to defferent social classes. The elaborated code is specific to the middle class, whereas the restricted code is characteristic of the working class. This correlation between a given social class and a particular speech code has the effect of severely restricting the range of choice of the speech codes open to speakers belonging to different social events.20 In Bernstein’s theory, class relations are fundamental to the distribution of power. He argues that the working class families tend to use only the public langauage whereas middle-class families tend to use both public and formal languages. Language mediated the modes of perception. William Labov has challenged the belief of the educational psychologists that the educational problems of children in ghetto schools are to be accounted for the disadvantage or deficit in the form of, for example, verbal deprivation. He argues that the black children in the urban ghettos in New York receive a great deal of verbal stimulation, hear well-formed sentences than middle-class children, and participate fully in a highly verbal culture. His study also proves that in many ways working-class speakers are more effective narrators, reasoners and debaters than many middle-class wspeakers who temporise quality and lose their argument in a mass of irrelevant details. There is a distinction between the “formal structure” of language and the actual use of language on particular occasions. Milroy and Milroy 19



Lucy Burke, Tony Crowley and Alen Gervin, Eds. The Routledge Language and Cultural Theory Reader (2000; London: Routledge, 2001) 455. 20 K. M. Tiwari, Language Deprivation and the Socially Disadvantaged (Patna: Janaki Prakashan, 1994) 34. 21 Lucy Burke et al. 456-66.

The Standardisation of Marathi


argue that there is a distinction between Ferdinend de Saussure’s langue (approximately “language system”) and parole (approximately “langauge use”). Chomsky, similarly, has substituted this distinction by competence (the underlying rules of language that native speakers know) and performance (actual “use”). Milroy and Milroy complain that langue or competence or language system is relatively abstract: in practice, many of the most influential thinkers in linguistics have been concerned with this abstract “language system”. As R. B. Gunjikar (1843-1901) had pointed out early in the 1870s, grammarians should not subscribe to prescriptivism. It is argued that linguists are more interested in trying to explain the universal ability of the human beings to acquire language and master it than making in value-judgements about particular usages. The public statements about language almost never show recognition between langue and parole, i.e., between ‘system” and “use” and seldom acknowledge another important fact about language, viz., language is in a continual state of flux.22 It is difficult to prove the “superiority claim” of a particular language. At the level of language system, the argument such as one language or dialect is superior to another is generally very difficult to sustain. The number and complexity of grammatical rules in any language or dialect cannot easily be shown to be significantly more or less than in some other language or dialect, and greater number or complexity of rules would not in any case prove superiority.23 A certain language emerges as a superior language for social reasons; however, the grammatical structures of the so-called superior and inferior languages are equally subtle and complex. A standard language has no particular linguistic merits, whether in vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation. It receives sanction and prestige for extra-linguistic reasons. It is simply a dialect of the politically powerful and socially prestigious. Once it begins to serve as a norm or standard for a wider group, however, it is likely to develop a wider vocabulary needed to express the new functions it is required to serve.24 Though general linguists, usually, do not hold the superiority claim of a certain language valid, there is a strong tendency among them to base their grammar on the variety of language used by the élites. The early grammarians of Marathi disregarded the linguistic variability prevailing in Marathi and considered only one of the varieties of Marathi used in Pune the model for constructing their grammar. Neither caste-dialects non 22

Milroy et al. 13. Milroy et al. 15. 24 Holmes 77. 23

Chapter Four


regional dialects were considered appropriate for writing the grammar of Marathi. Pierre Bourdieu’s study of the French language shows that standardisation of French was a conscious attempt driven by the political motivation. Bourdieu argues that, under the guise of drawing a methodological distinction, the linguist surreptitiously makes a series of substantive assumptions. A completely homogeneous language or speech community does not exist in reality; it is an idealisation of a particular set of linguistic practices, which have emerged historically and have certain social condition of existence. Through a complex historical process, a particular language or set of linguistic practices emerges as the dominant and legitimate language and other languages or dialects are eliminated or subordinated to it. This dominant and legitimate language is pre-constructed by a set of socio-historical conditions, endowing it with the status of the sole legitimate or official language of a particular community. Linguists remain unmindful of the socio-historical conditions. It is the dominant language that linguists take for granted.25 He draws on Brunot’s work to show how, until the French Revolution, the process of linguistic unification was bound up with the construction of a monarchial state: Until the French Revolution, the process of linguistic unification went hand in hand with the process of constructing the monarchical state....The members of these local bourgeoisies of priests, doctors or teachers, who owed their position to their mastery of the instruments of expression, had everything to gain from the Revolutionary policy of linguistic unification. Promotion of the official language to the status of national language gave them that de facto monopoly of politics, and more generally of communication with the central government and its representatives, that 26 has defined local notables under all the French republics.

Bourdieu has shown that, in conjunction with the formation of modern nation states, particular languages emerged historically as dominant in particular geographical locales. During this period, regional and purely oral dialects were relegated, defined negatively and pejoratively by opposition to the official language.

25 26

Bourdieu 5. Bourdieu 46-7.

The Standardisation of Marathi


Writing, Speech and Variation in Langauge The fact that all languages are primarily spoken and only secondarily written down, and that a real life of language is in the mouth and ear and not in the pen and eye, was overlooked, to the detriment of the real understanding of the essence of language and linguistic development; very often where the spoken form of a language was accessible, scholars contended themselves with a reading knowledge.27 —Otto Jasperson

It is a significant and probably crucial requirement for a standard language that it be written. The power of writing is such that in some societies the written standard has been influential in shaping new standards of speech. Bansal and Harrison’s definition of written language as an attempt of representing spoken language through visual symbols is quite inadequate to describe the way written language is formed and the way it is different from speech. Leonard Bloomfield has described how written language comes into existence: Now, as civilization progresses, the population grows denser, means of communication improve and petty political boundaries lose their importance. More and more often people from different parts of the country, speaking dialects have occasion to converse with each other. They soon learn, on these occasions, avoid forms of speech that are misleading and unintelligible to the other fellow. Usually, there is some city, which serves as a center for the larger activities of the nation. The contact of persons from different regions occurs more in this city than elsewhere; the provincial has more occasion to speak with natives of this city than elsewhere; the provincial has more occasion to speak with natives of this city than with speakers of any other dialect.28

His description of the formation of a standard language presupposes that very naïve processes are involved in standardisation. It does not address the role that the social class plays in characterising a particular version of language as standard language. Bloomfield’s uncritical consideration of London as the site of the formation of standard language to the neglect of the existence of privileged social class is problematic. 27

Otto Jasperson, Language (Woking and London: George Allen and Unwin, 1954) 23. 28 Leonard Bloomfield. “Literate and Illiterate Speech.” Language in Culture and Society: A Reader in Linguistics and Anthropology. Dell Hymes. Ed. (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1964) 393.


Chapter Four

Suhasini Laddu, who was the first to write on the standardisation of Marathi language, assumed that standard language is a better means of communication, as it is understood by all the members of a society.29 Bhalchandra Nemade’s thesis discusses how English remained a powerfully influential force in moulding the style of Marathi prose. Rooted in the nativist tradition, he presupposes India as a homogeneous community and does not address adequately the role social class plays in the making of standard language. Holborow has argued that though speech is older than writing, it is writing that has stolen the “linguistic limelight”. Relating writing to the social division in the society, he argues that being able to write became an important manifestation of the division of labour in society. It became more associated with all that was powerful and prestigious – trade, religion, learning, affairs of state, etc. The ideology of standardisation is achieved through writing system and literacy becomes the main influence in promoting the consciousness of the standard ideology. The norms of written and formal language are codified through grammars, dictionaries, prose and the state initiative towards educating the masses. Speech is basic in language learning. It is acquired by nearly all its users without the mediation of any institution. It has been found that a child who is trained in his / her native tongue, which is different from standard language, does not speak the standard language as its mother tongue.30 The speech habits, which are reinforced through the innumerable instances of oral communication, can hardly be overturned after childhood and they are virtually immovable after puberty. As Saussure has argued, no spoken language can ever be fully standardised in the strict sense in which it is used. By using a famous analogy, he has argued that language can be compared with the game of chess in which different people may occasionally play it by different rules. In comparison with writing, speech has more variability, which is suppressed in the process of standardisation. It is evident from the studies undertaken by many scholars that speech exhibits much greater variability than writing. Tony Crowley in his book Standard English and the Politics of Language has presented an invaluable analysis of the evolution of Standard English in Britain. Crucial to Crowley’s argument is the distinction between the written (or literary) standard and Standard English as a spoken norm: 29

Suhasini Laddu, MarƗ৬hƯcya PramƗ۬ BhƗ‫܈‬ece Swarup (Pune: Continental Prakashan, 1982) 20. 30 Bloomfield, 1964, 393.

The Standardisation of Marathi


There appeared...from within the ‘history of the language’ and the texts it enabled a concept of a standard literary language and a standard spoken language. The standard literary language was traced as an historical phenomenon by the linguistic historians as it emerged into its role as the national, uniform, written language. The standard spoken language, however, was not the same type of phenomenon.31

A need for standard written language was felt in England in the fifteenth century. It was argued that English was too variable and that people from different places could hardly understand one another. William Caxton, one of the earliest printers in England, clearly implied that standardisation in the strict sense (lack of variation in form) was needed.32 Caxton solved the problem of standard language by using the literary standard, a variety based on the South-East Midland area. However, his choice was not made on strictly linguistic grounds. The variety he had decided to use had already achieved some prominence but not necessarily because it was the most expressive or the most beautiful. Milroy and Milroy affirm that it was the obvious choice because the area concerned was the most prominent politically, commercially and academically. The standard dialect is the prestigious form of a language, which is accepted through time by the linguistic community. Though only a section of the community, usually the cultural élites, uses standard language, standard language enjoys recognition from the entire community. Though standard language is not easily accessible to all and the users of standard language never bother themselves to study non-standard language, the non-users of standard language make untiring efforts to acquire standard language. David Crystal writes: [A standard language] is a term used in sociolinguistics to refer to a prestige variety of language used within a speech community. ‘standard languages / dialects / varieties’ cut across regional differences, providing a 31 Tony Crowley quoted in Arjun Parakrama, De-Hegemonizing Language Standards: Learning from (Post)Colonial Englishes about ‘English’ (New York: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1995) 8. 32 And certaynly our langage now vsed varyeth ferre from that whiche was vsed and spoken than I was borne. For we englysshe men ben borne vnder the domyancyon of the mone, whiche is neuer stedfaste, but euer wauerynge, wexynge one season, and waneth & dyceraseth another season. And that comyn englysshe that is spoken in one shyre varyeth from a nother...certaynly it is harde to playse euery man by cause of dyuersite & chaunge of langage. —Bolton quoted in Milroy et al. 32-3.


Chapter Four unified means of communication, and thus an institutionalised norm which can be used in the mass media, in teaching the language to foreigners, and so on. Linguistic forms or dialects which do not conform to this norm are then referred to as sub-standard or (with a less pejorative prefix) nonstandard – though neither term is intended to suggest that other dialect forms ‘lack standards’ in any linguistic sense.33

There is a contrary view expressed by Milroy and Milroy. They have cited the studies of Labov, Trudgill, O’Kane and J. Milroy to argue that there is a strong tendency among the people to claim to have used standard language, whereas, they do not actually use standard language. Some people make dishonest reports by claiming to use standard variants.34 This makes it clear that though people do not use standard language, they believe that that is the right way of using language. This belief legitimises the universalistic claim of a standard language. Sociolinguists tend to believe that the use of standard language is region-specific. There is a serious flaw in identification of the standard variety with the language used in a particular region as such an assumption presupposes existence of homogeneous society and indiscriminate use of language in a given region. Arjun Parakrama has pointed out that such an assumption is misleading as this dialect is determined more by education and class than by locality per se.35 The standardisation of English36, French37, German38 and Russian39 exemplifies that the dialects used by the socially advantageous people became standard languages. 33

David Crystal quoted in Parakrama 6. Milroy et al. 26-7. 35 Parakrama 8. 36 The precise dialect which is now the cultivated language or ‘standard English’ is not the deiscendant of that dialect which was the cultivated language of “Englisc” of Alfred, but of a sister dialect then sunk in comparative obscurity...Causes, which linguistically consider, are external and accidental have shifted the political and intellectuals centre of England and along with it transferred literary and official patronage from one form of English to another; if centre of influence had happened to be fixed at York or on the banks of the Forth, both would probably have been neglected for a third. —A. K. Priyolkar, GrƗnthik MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ BhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ and Konkani Boli (Pune: Pune University, 1966) 33. 37 The history of this common or mean French, its formation and its geographical extension, is strictly bound up with the political, economic, and social history of the country; it is impossible to understand the one without a knowledge of the other. It was in the capital, however, that French originated and from a certain class within this capital–“the bourgeoisie”. The common language, as it became fixed in the seventeenth century, is the language of the Parisian 34

The Standardisation of Marathi


The principle of a standard for English was centred on the English spoken in London, where the merchant class was particularly strong, and the southern side of a triangle that included the centres of learning – Oxford and Cambridge.40 The East Midland dialect, spoken in a triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge, had become the lingua franca of an increasingly powerful self-conscious merchant class. The role of a rising dominant class in the process in which a standard comes to be recognised and accepted is vital. The class structure of England was decisively changing at the beginning of a period, which can be summed up as the effort of the rising middle class to establish its own common speech.41 Holborow argues that it is important not to read the ideological positions of the present debate about standard language mechanically back into history. The call for Standard English from conservative sources today does not mean that it has always been a reactionary call. Situating the debate on standardisation in the Gramscian theoretical context, Holborow argues: Views about language are deeply embedded in history and any appraisal of these ideological questions necessarily involves a full ‘consciousness of bourgeoisie–of the “town”. The court accepted it, then the provinces; and great writers, by using it, gave to it the power of establishing itself once for all. —Priyolkar 1966 33. 38 The present standardised German of the schools arose comparatively late in the history of German speech as a result of the fixing of one of the upper Saxon dialects as the recognised medium of official communication within the German-speaking dominions. Luther’s Bible helped considerably in the diffusion of this form of German as the recognised standard. It has taken a long time, however, for Hochdentsch to take on a recognised phonetic form and to be looked upon as a well standardised form of oral communication, and to this day a large proportion of Germans, including the educated ranks, are bilingual in the sense that they use the standardised German for formal purposed, but employ the local dialect for more familiar uses. —Priyolkar 1966 35. 39 Literary Russian as spoken by educated people throughout the empire is the Moscow dialect. The Moscow dialect really covers a very small area, not even the whole of the Government of Moscow, but political causes have made it the language of the governing classes and hence of literature. —Priyolkar 1966 35. 40 Marnie Holborow, The Politics of English: A Marxist View of Language (London: Sage Publications Ltd, 1999) 158. 41 Williams quoted in Holborow 159.


Chapter Four their historicity’, in Gramsci’s phrase. By seeing the present in terms of the past, the traditionalist comes to resemble what Gramsci aptly termed ‘a walking anachronism, a fossil not living in the modern world’. However, from another perspective to characterize standardisation as always having been a conservative project imposed from above would be to suffer from an equal disregard of the forces of history.42

He further argues that Standard English evolved from a number of different impetuses: from the development of trade and industry and the consolidation of the nation state and later from mass industrialisation and education. In the period from 1600 to 1830s, the drive for Standard English represented the social changes of the times. According to him, standard language was devised by the ruling class as part of its increasing economic and social wealth. It was devised out of many spoken varieties, which then became downgraded to dialects. The rise of Protestantism as a crucial social movement and the technological advance of print capitalism, argues Benedict Anderson, fulfilled the conditionality of the new nationhood in Europe. He pointed out that print nationalism challenged the feudal system and religion in the West, which were premised upon the privileged script-languages and created a space for the development of the erstwhile neglected vernaculars.43 This change remained vital in the development of the vernaculars and recognising the vernaculars as the prestigious varieties. Speech is difficult to be standardised, as it is tremendously variable. Absolute standardisation of spoken English, for example, has never been achieved. As compared to speech, writing is standardised more easily. While arguing about the impossibility of complete standardisation, Milroy and Milroy have said that the only fully standardised language is a dead language. They deem it appropriate to speak more abstractly of standardisation as an ideology, and a standard language as an idea in the mind rather than a reality – a set of abstract norms to which actual usage may conform to a greater or lesser extent.44 Though it is nearly impossible to standardise language in general and spoken language in particular, the modern state is untiringly involved in propagating a certain version of language as the standard language. This is 42

Holborow 157. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso,1983); For the analysis of print capitalism in the Indian context, refer to N. Krishnaswamy and Archana S. Burde, The Politics of Indians’ English: Linguistic Colonialism and the Expanding English Empire (1998; New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2004) 64-74. 44 Milroy et al. 22-3. 43

The Standardisation of Marathi


achieved through education, media (print as well as electronic in contemporary context), the state machinery, etc. Milroy and Milroy refuse to accept the idea that the mass media in recent times has considerably reduced the diversity of English and brought about uniformity. This is not a proven fact; it is merely a belief: In favour of this view, it can be reasonably argued that remote rural dialects have been dying out quite rapidly. Against it, we can point out that although the Received Pronunciation of Standard English has been heard constantly on radio and television over 60 years, only 3 to 5 % of the population of Britain actually speak RP.45

The time, in which the Orientalists like Sir William Jones, H. T. Colebrook, H. H. Prinsep, James Prinsep, Mountstuart Elphinstone, etc. were authoritatively theorising on Indian languages, an intense debate on the structure of English was going on in England. Eric Stokes has convincingly argued that the colonial administrators in India in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were influenced by various theories that were being formulated in England. Late eighteenth century witnessed remarkable preoccupation with the formation of standardised language and a clear separation of the “vulgar” and “polite” terms. The ideas of language in the second half of the eighteenth century became increasingly élitist. Olivia Smith has shown that theorisation of language was systematised rigorously when the élitist notions of language began to be challenged by the democratic movements. In this period, the concepts encoded in theories of language, dictionaries and grammars were brought energetically to the fore when non-classically educated writers attempted to gain a place in “civilization.”46 Citing Smith and others, Anindita Ghosh argues that the dominant contemporary ideas of language were rooted in the politicisation of the English language and surrounded the debate over the enfranchisement of the non-propertied and non-classically educated masses. Language had a crucial role to play in orchestrating political and social hierarchies. Several books on language and grammar, including Dr. Samuel Johnson’s (170984) Dictionary of the English Language (1755), James Harris’s Herms or a Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Language and Universal Grammar (1755) and Robert Lowth’s A Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762) were published from London between 1751 and 1762. These linguists held classical languages as the models for the cultivation of 45 46

Milroy et al. 29. Olivia Smith, The Politics of Language 1791-1819 (Oxford: Oxford U P, 1984) vii.


Chapter Four

English. Ghosh argues that the complex grammatical rules of English obstrcucted entry of the masses into the privileged world of “correct” English.47 The nineteenth century theories and politics of language in England were centrally and explicitly concerned with class division and they cannot be fully understood without considering their political component. As Smith describes, contemporary dominant ideas of language were marked by emerging class hierarchy in England and amounted to a “deliberate attempt to destroy the linguistic worlds of the “lower orders.”48 According to Holborow, the ruling class, as part of its increasing economic and social wealth, wanted to devise a standard language out of many spoken idioms. Local dialects have little prestige. The upper-class speaker does not bother to learn it. The native speaker also, in an attempt to achieve upward mobility, tries his / her best to cast it off. To sum up, while arguing in favour of the spoken language, many linguists show that spoken language can unite people rather than divide. For example, Tony Crowley argues that even if a vigorous project of language planning had been undertaken, what was meant by the standard spoken language by linguists in the nineteenth century could not have served such a purpose. The standard spoken language was defined primarily by the social characteristics of its speakers. In a modern society, linguistic variation performs many important social functions. Linguistic variation is also a vital measure of distinctness among different social groups. The emergence of a standard language as the dominant version is relatively a more recent phenomenon. Standardisation of a language in a given society is a corollary to the process of modernization. During the process, standardisation was increasingly being brought under the control of the state. Controlling and manipulating linguistic variation, the standard language becomes standard literary language, which is universally accepted as the sole medium of literary, technical and administrative discourse. The standard language possesses a set of rules, defining acceptable and intelligible mode of writing. Compilation of dictionaries and encyclopedias becomes indispensable to standardise the language use. Modern state harnesses education system to this function. The use of standard language is reinforced by making it easily accessible through textbooks. The modern ruling class comes from societies in which the written word has 47

Anindita Ghosh, Power in Print: Popular Publishing and the Politics of Language and Culture in a Colonial Society 1778-1905 (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2006) 6. 48 Smith 13.

The Standardisation of Marathi


long established a cultural hegemony over the spoken and in which, through the printing press, literate élites have sought to disseminate their ideas and remould the beliefs of the populace at large.

Marathi Prose before 1800 Histories of modern Marathi have suffered from caste prejudice. It is commonly believed that Marathi had to suffer in the medieval period at the hands of the Muslim rulers. Many researchers also subscribe to this view uncritically. For instance, Rajyashree Subbayya, who has worked on the standardisation of Marathi, argues: The fertile period of Marathi language, with the downfall of Yadava dynasty, was followed by the period of domination of Muslims and prominence of sufism. Marathi language had to suffer a major set-back.49

However, such a view is deeply biased against the Muslim rulers and it also grossly neglects the fact that the provincial / indigenous régimes were more prejudiced against Marathi. Marathi suffered gross negligence during these régimes. Interestingly, Bhaskarrao Jadhav, a leader of the non-brahmin movement in Western India in the first half of the twentieth century, argues that Marathi flourished during the Muslim rulers’ régime. The Bahamani régime and subsequent five “Muslim” régimes encouraged the use of Marathi in their states.50 Sumit Guha has pointed out that the cores of three long-lived sultanates were centered in the sixteenth century in different language zones—the Adil Shahi in the Kannada-speaking area, the Nizam Shahi in west MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ and the Qutb Shahi in the Andhra—and they contributed to the development of the regional languages like Marathi and Telugu.51 Bhalchandra Nemade has challenged the commonly held view that there was no tradition of prose writing in Marathi prior to its contact with the English prose tradition. He has argued that there was a considerably rich tradition of prose writing in Marathi before Marathi came into contact with English. Likewise, some scholars of Bengali have suggested that in


Rajyashree Subbayya. The Standardisation of Language: Case Study of Marathi. Diss. U of Mysore, Mysore. 1980. 66. 50 Bhaskarrao Jadhav, MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ BhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ (Pune: Ramchandra Jadhav, 1932) 25. 51 Sumit Guha. “Transitions and Translations: Regional Power and Vernacular Identity in the Dekhan, 1500-1800.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. 24:2 (2004) 23-31.


Chapter Four

that language there was a tradition of prose before 1800.52 The British educationists, who were involved in language planning in Western India and the practitioners of Marathi prose in the nineteenth century, were quite unaware of this tradition. He has discussed four autonomous cycles developing independently and simultaneously, named the folk style, the pun‫ڲ‬it style, the MahƗnubhƗv style and the Bakhar style.53 However, Nemade admits that the script used for writing was clumsy and often posed difficulties in understanding. Ellen E. McDonald has rightly argued that prose as a literary form was poorly developed. The pre1800 Marathi prose predominantly contained the famous bakhars, (chronicles celebrating Maratha military victories), moral maxims (niti), and traditional stories borrowed from Sanskrit, such as Vetaশa’s tales. Traditional Marathi literature was largely poetic. McDonald argues that much of this literature developed in close association with the bhaktƯ movement and characteristically relied on the Sanskrit sources for the subject matter. This literature also displays diction and grammatical complications far removed from the spoken vernacular. deĞastha and karhƗde brahmins dominated the writers in this phase.54 Marathi was not seen as the language worth learning, teaching or for expression even during the Maratha period. Marathi did not receive as much respect as Sanskrit did during the maratha period.55 Nemade has convincingly argued that Marathi could not be standardised in the precolonial period because of the “Brahminical adherence to Sanskrit lore and the Vedic tradition”, which despised Marathi most. Many regional languages in India, which are enjoying considerable social status now, were most despised by the bhahmins in the precolonial era. The Prakrit, which was used by the Buddhist priests in the tenth century Bengal, was called by the grammarian Krisna Pandit as “a form of Paicachi Prakrit or the Prakrit spoken by the evil spirit.”56 Many saint-poets belonging to the vƗrkarƯ sect had to suffer because they used Marathi for poetic expression. For long, Marathi was not used in the court for political communication. The Peshwa used Persian and not Marathi as the court language and the 52

Sisir Kumar Das, Early Bengali Prose: Carey to Vidyasagar (Calcutta: Bookland Private Ltd., 1966) 13. 53 Nemade 24-44. 54 Ellen E McDonald. “The Modernizing of Communication: Vernacular Publishing in Nineteenth Century Maharashtra.” Social Survey 8:7 (1968): 592. 55 G. T. Madkholkar quoted in B. L. Bhole, Yeko۬isƗvyƗ ĝatakƗtƯl MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Gadya (Mumbai: Sahitya Akadami, 2006) XIV. 56 Dinesh Chandra Sen, History of Bengali Language and Literature (New Delhi: Gian Publishing House, 1986) 4.

The Standardisation of Marathi


workings of the Pune Municipal Corporation in its early phase were done through Persian and not Marathi.57 The upper caste Marathi literati in the eighteenth century had nurtured Sanskritised Marathi. The poetry of Moropant (1729-94), who was patronised by the Peshwa rule, exemplifies the sanskritisation of Marathi. Veena Naregal has concluded that the partial vernacularisation of the literary style of Marathi in the precolonial era could not challenge the normative status of Sanskrit and its high aesthetic and philosophical discourses.58

Standardisation and Grammar According to Suhasini Laddu, the selection of a particular veriety upon the purpose of writing the grammar. She writes that grammars are written for the use of school departments, foreign learners and teaching (showing) the standard language to users of the same language and, consequently, such grammars are prescriptive. By means of such grammars, the language users are trained in the pure-impure, wrong-right, acceptable-unacceptable, standard-non-standard uses of language. V. B. Kolte’s presidential address at the 47th Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (All India Marathi Literary Meet), which was held in 1967, triggered off a debate on the existing grammars of Marathi. In the 1970s, the emergence of dalit literature and rural literature posed a challenge to the then prevailing norms pertaining to the form as well as the content of literature. Kolte criticised the traditional upper-caste élites for taking no cognizance of the language/s of the lower castes and for being non-committal to recognising and preserving linguistic variation in the Marathi-speaking region. Kolte raised many important issues, which can be summed up thus59: 1) The existing grammars of Marathi are based on the language of the educated class, which is just one of the dialects of Marathi. The other dialects are stamped as vulgar, uncivilised, etc. 2) The grammars of Marathi have perpetuated the notion of purity of language. 57

Personal communication with Kalyan Kale, Pune. Veena Naregal, Language Politics,Elites and the Public Sphere: Western India under Colonialism (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001) 38. 59 V. B. Kolte. “AdhyakĞiya BhƗৢan” Akhil BhƗrtƯya MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ SƗhitya SammelanƗtƯl BhƗ‫܈‬a۬e Va TyƗnci CikitsƗ. Ramesh Dhongade. Ed. (Pune: Dilipraj Prakashan, 2002) 607-34. 58


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3) The linguistic thought in Marathi is based on writing and not on speech, which is primary. 4) The grammars of Marathi are predominantly historical and non-descriptive. These grammars were written by those who were influenced by Sanskrit. 5) The vocabulary of the educated is limited and closed. The non-incorporation of the rich vocabulary of the regional and caste variants of Marathi has contributed to the general deprivation of Marathi. There is a deliberate attempt to let Sanskrit dominate Marathi. 6) The orthography of Marathi is not original and is largely based on Sanskrit orthography. In response to Kolte’s position, Ashok Kelkar has argued in favour of standardisation of language. Kelkar accepts that standard language originates in the course of time out of a need of a certain region or class. However, the bond between language and such a class slows, breaks or, at least, weakens and it no longer remains the sole “property” of that class.60 Such an understanding presupposes that standard language has an inherent tendency of democratisation. It is too naïve and apolitical and, hence, grossly erroneous. Kelkar overlooks the fact that standard language does never lose its association with a dominant class in a given society and its spread is governed by the opportunities of social mobility in that society. Though it does not remain the prerogative of the traditional élites, it is not so easily accepted by all the members of the speech community alike. As the newly risen élites are incorporated into the traditional structure of class-caste, these élites imbibe the standard language. Such marginal incorporation of a section of the lower class-caste into the rising middle-class and the desire of this newly incorporated caste-class to use standard language legitimises the standard language. However, it is equally true that a standard language continues to be the marker of caste-class status of the speaker. Kelkar also overlooks the fact that despite deliberate and planned efforts are initiated by the modern state to impose a standard language through language policy, mass education, 60

Ashok Kelkar wrote this essay to respond to the speech delivered in 1967 by V. B. Kolte, a renowned scholar and President of the Forty Seventh Marathi Literary Meet (Marathi Sahitya Sammelan) held in Bhopal in 1967. Kolte was a scholar of the MahƗnubhƗv cult and criticised the politics of standardisation of Marathi for it was too elitist. Ashok Kelkar. “BhƗৢece Niyaman” MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra SƗhitya PatrikƗ 41:161, 40-54.

The Standardisation of Marathi


media, etc., only a certain section of the society succeeds in using it. Holborow argues that after a century and a half of standardisation, not only is the standard ever more elusive but regional and other dialects, local ways of speaking and varieties of English have not faded away.61 Trudgill has also pointed out that just hearing Standard English on the TV or radio does not appear to influence people’s production of speech.62 The traditional scholars of Marathi now accept that a dialect of a certain language is as respectable and worthy of study as a standard form is.63 Under the influence of descriptive linguistics, which was developing in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, R. B. Gunjikar also had recognised the respectability of a dialect as back as late nineteenth century. However, the assumption that language and dialect are equal and none of them is superior to the other has been challenged. Such an approach restores the legitimate status of a dialect. However, in assuming so, the so-called dialect is bereft of its richness, vivacity and flexibility, which it abounds in so profusely. William Labov’s study of non-standard English proves that the speech of the black inner city children reflects a great deal of verbal stimulation, that they hear more well-formed sentences than middle-class children and that they participate fully in a highly verbal culture. He has highlighted the expressive powers of non-standard varieties and showed that by comparison standard American English could be verbose and imprecise.64 David Washbrook has rightly argued that at the turn of the nineteenth century, as the officials of the English East India Company first came to explore their recent South Asian conquests, they were dimly aware of “how differently from themselves their new subjects looked on the social relations of language”.65 To their great astonishment, they found that the Indian society, Washbrook has rightly argued, unlike the European national communities, was linguistically heterogeneous. They wondered whether they were dealing in India with one society, or even one culture, or with a series of self-contained and separate para-communities. Caste system had fragmented the Indian society to a great extent. Language in India was functioning as a divisive force, virtually stigmatising many caste-communities as distinct monolingual communities and further making communication with other communities (castes) 61

Holborow 154. Trudgill quoted in Holborow 154. 63 K. S. Arjunwadkar. “RƗjvƗঌe Ɨni PƗ৆iniya VyƗkara৆a.” BhƗrat ItihƗs SanĞodhan Mandal TraimƗsik. 916 ( July 2004 to August 2006): 47. 64 Holborow 179. 65 Washbrook 179. 62


Chapter Four

difficult and at times impossible. Dramatic works were constructed with different characters speaking to a single audience in different languages, depending on their regional origins and social status. Religious inscriptions were carved into the same stone or copper plate simultaneously in several different scripts. In the medieval period, political correspondence of different types was done through different languages.66 Washbrook argues that, despite linguistic pluralism and inequality, there emerged in India a disjointed channel of communication through which ideas were transmitted. The new colonial rulers of this era, inspired by the European Romantic movement and the philological “science”, which it had given rise to, felt it necessary to standardise certain varieties of Indian languages, enabling them to carry the colonial discourse. For example, realising the need of standardisation of Bengali as early as late eighteenth century, Nathaniel B. Halhed wrote very explicitly that “the pure Bengal dialect” could not be “expected to convey a thorough idea of the modern jargon of the kingdom”.67 While contributing to standardisation of the Bengali language, Halhed also recommended in his Grammar of the Bengal Language that Bengali be cleansed of the foreign accretions that marred its purity and “Sanskrit be made the fountainhead for any needed innovation”.68 Leonard Bloomfield has simplistically and naïvely assumed a relationship between language and social status and implied that the acquisition of the latter can be assumed by the manipulation of the former: The background of our popular ideas about language is the fanciful doctrine of the eighteenth-century “grammarians.” This doctrine still prevalent in our schools, brands all manner of forms as “incorrect” standard speech.69

Placing Bloomfield’s argument in the context of political economy, Southworth argues that until the mid-eighteenth century or so, such an idea would have been meaningless, since the class structure was quite 66

C. J. Abhang. A “Rare and Valuable Trilingual Sanad of Suryanarayan Samvedi Brahan from Mathura.” Western India: History, Society and Culture. Shrikant Paranjape, Raja Dixit and C. R. Das. Eds. (Pune: Itihas Shikshak Mahamandal, 1997) 15-21. 67 N. B. Halhed, A Grammar of the Bengal Language (Hoogly: n. p. 1778) xx. 68 Rosane Rocher. “British Orientalism in the Eighteenth Century: The Dialectics of Knowledge and Government” Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer. Eds. (1993; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, [henceforth, Oxford U P] 1994) 229. 69 Bloomfield 496-7.

The Standardisation of Marathi


rigid, the speech habits of different social classes were often sharply different, and there was in general no reason to expect a member of one class to learn the speech of another.70 Southworth has corrected Bloomfield by situating standardisation of language in a theoretically more realistic context. He argues that the changes, which Bloomfield discusses, had not come about merely as the result of changes in the mode of production in Europe. Southworth has pointed out some of the deeper connotations of these changes. These changes in language, he argues, caused as the Western Europe moved from a feudal to a capitalist stage, which brought greater economic and ultimately political power to the emerging bourgeoisie. During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, there was a partial lessening of the rigidity of class barriers in England, as the rising business class attempted to gain social prestige, which had long been denied to them. In this context, the new democratic ideology, fuelled by the revolutions of the late eighteenth century, justified the members of the mercantile class in aspiring to have membership in a class to which they had not been born. The reorganisation of the power structure and the drastic changes in social relations that resulted from “the hill-fledged development of capitalism and the emergence of democratic ideals” must have played a major part in the growth of the idea of a single “standard”, which could be adopted by all members of the society.71 Olivia Smith has extensively discussed how the ideas about language in the second half of the eighteenth century were predominantly élitist. The concepts encoded in theories of language, dictionaries and grammars were brought energetically to the fore when non-classically educated writers attempted to assert their claims. In this period, “civilisation” was largely a linguistic concept, establishing a terrain in which vocabulary and syntax distinguished the refined and the civilised from the vulgar and the savage.72 The teaching of grammar in England during this period was no more a democratic enterprise. The division between those who knew grammar and those who did not was one of primary means of class manipulation. The knowledge of grammar was monopolised by the “Boroughmongers,” or rather the knowing ones amongst them, who confined its study to the

70 Franklin Southworth. “The Social Context of Language Standardisation in India.” Standardisation and Modernisation: Dynamics of Language Planning. S. Imtiaz Hasnain. Ed. (New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 1995) 46. 71 Southworth 46. 72 Smith vii.

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grammar schools and the universities while excluding it from the education given to the poor.73 Smith has discussed how radical thinkers like Thomas Paine, William Cobbett and others recognised the centrality of language to their political discourse. She writes: The idea of language became important when ideas about language and ideas about suffrage shared the central concern of establishing which groups of people merited participation in public life.74

When suffrage was challenged in 1790s, the radical thinkers had to face the difficult task of re-theorising language and writing grammar to teach the self-educated to enable them to participate in public life.75 Cobbett wrote in 1817 that the knowledge of grammar was imparted only to the wealthy or, what Cobbett called, the “supple dependents” of the wealthy. Moreover, grammar school students were so extensively drilled that they could hardly conceive of an original idea. By writing a grammar for the self-educated, Cobbett intended to forestall the intellectual intimidation deriving from the assumption that only those who knew the learned languages could write English accurately. He stressed the idea that ignorance of grammar interferes with the ability to think boldly and clearly: “It creates a dependence, a diffidence; it cripples; it benumbs.”76 Thus, the history of modern English shows that the construction of grammar was not a naïve project aimed at the development of English. The development of grammar and dictionary coincides with the development of a new class structure.

The Beginning of Modern Marathi Grammar It is generally agreed that the grammarians in ancient India had one goal above all others, which was to preserve down to the minutest detail the ancient Sanskrit language. Patanjali, for example, has discussed the purpose of studying Sanskrit grammar. He points out that there are five reasons for studying Sanskrit grammar. These are the preservation of the Vedas, linguistic recontextualisation of Vedic ritual formulas, religious


Smith 1-2. Smith vii. 75 Smith vii. 76 Corbett quoted in Smith 2. 74

The Standardisation of Marathi


commitment based on scriptural injunctions, economy of effort in attaining mastery of the language and removal of interpretational doubts. Madhav Deshpande argues that many features of Sanskrit at the time of Patanjali, such as accents, prolated vowels and the meaningfulness of archaic words, were already problematic. Grammarians had argued that these features could be achieved only through the study of grammar. Language was one of the significant variables, which indicated and further reinforced the social status of its users in ancient India. In his grammar, PƗ৆ini made a distinction between bhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ, “the colloquial language” and chandas, “the language of the Vedic texts”. PƗ৆ini’s Ash‫ܒ‬ƗdhyƗyi is an attempt to describe the Ɩryan language. For him, bhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ stands for “language”; in fact it refers to the upper-class language, in relation to which other forms of Indo-Ɩryan and non-Ɩryan languages were viewed as being substandard, as those peoples themselves were placed lower in the social hierarchy.77 In linguistic matters, nineteenth century in India was largely a century of authoritarianism and prescription. During this century, much of the necessary work of codifying Standard Marathi was carried out through a spate of grammar books, dictionaries, prose writing, textbooks and literary journals. The tone of most of this work was prescriptive, setting out how the language ought to be used, not necessarily how it actually was used by the common people. The need of defining systematically the grammar of Marathi in the early nineteenth century was felt first by the colonial rulers and not by the indigenous élites. The English-educated indigenous élites in the early nineteenth century were relatively unmindful of modern Marathi, which was in the making. However, the colonial state could not afford to have the non-standardised vernaculars, as these vernaculars were to become the vehicles for the dissemination of colonial ideology. Therefore, the initiative in this direction was formally taken by the British by offering patronage to such attempts. The growing importance of the grammar of Marathi, in the wake of an increasing demand for English, was clearly stated in the second report of the Bombay Native School Book and School Society: It is worthy of particular remark also, that most natives who pretend to have a knowledge of the English language neglect to a lamentable degree the study of their mother tongue; and it is a fact well attested that in suffering the continuance of the imperfect method hitherto pursued of 77 Madhav M. Deshpande, Sanskrit and Prakrit: Sociolinguistic Issues (New Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Private Limited, 1993) 2.


Chapter Four teaching the first, and disregarding so totally the other, a jargon is introduced among the class of persons alluded to, neither English nor Maratha, nor Goojratee, nor Hindoostanee, so that the natives become unable to comprehend the books written in these languages or even the subject of conversation carried on in a pure and idiomatic style. It is an object therefore of the Society to convey a knowledge of English to the natives on the best principles; and to enable them to acquire, thro” the aid of the books now prepared and in preparation, a more grammatical and thorough acquaintance with Maratha and Goojratee.78

In 1778, Nathaniel B. Halhed, who compiled Bengali grammar at the encouragement of Warren Hastings, had remarked in the introduction that the content of Arabic, Persian and Hindustani words characterised the language by “the lowly people”. He contrasted it with the refined Sanskritised language of the educated.79 The first grammar of Marathi was written by William Carey. He was assisted in this venture by a brahmin named Pandit Vaijnath Sharma.80 One of the early treatises on the grammar of Marathi was written by Venkat Madhav in the early nineteenth century in Madras under the colonial patronage. Not surprisingly, this text was written in Sanskrit. It was obvious to happen 78 A. K. Priyolkar, Ed., MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra BhƗ‫܈‬ece VyƗkara۬a (Mumbai: Marathi Sanshodhan Mandal, 1954) 6. 79 Halhed xxi-xxii; Ghosh 1. 80 William Brown, who published Grammar of the Gentoo Language, was assisted by Mamidi Venkaiah and Goondamulla Purushotnam. Another grammarian of Telugu named A. D. Campbell, who had published the first version of Telugu grammar, was assisted by Pandit Rama Sastry, Head Sanskrit and Telugu Master at the Fort St. George College. P. Sudhir. “Colonialism and the Vocabularies of Dominance.” Interrogating Modernity. Tejaswini Niranjana. Ed. (Calcutta: Seagull Books, 1993) 339. Charles Philip Brown, one of the early grammarians of Telugu, complained that the Telugu grammarians neglected the colloquial dialects and taught only the poetical peculiarities. He writes: They are willing to aid our studies either in Telugu poetry or in Sanscrit; they are reluctant to teach us the language of common business: but unless we first surmount this, the lowest step…how can we climb to the highest?….Instead of ordinary dialogues, tales, trials, letters, and histories, Telugu assistants counsel us to read the venerated Sri Bhagwadgita (as a pious act), and the prose Telugu Ramayana, one or two books of the Mahabharat, the Sanscrit vocabulary of Amara, the versified set of Telugu synonyms called Andhra-Bhasha-Bhushanam or the treatises on grammar written by Nannai Bhatta and Appa Cavi. —Charles Philip Brown. The Grammar of the Telugu Language, n. p. u. d. n. pag.

The Standardisation of Marathi


because, as it has already been argued, Marathi was not considered as a subject of serious academic interest by the pre-colonial pun‫ڲ‬its of Marathi. Many grammars of the Dravidian languages like Kannada and Malayalam were constructed in Sanskrit in the pre-colonial period.81 While constructing the grammars of Telugu, the grammarians in the service of the East India William Carey (A Grammar of Telinga Language, 1820), William Brown (A Grammar of Telugoo Language, 1816), A. D. Campbell (A Grammar of Gintoo Language, 1817) and C. P. Brown (A Grammar of Telugu Language, 1840) used the language of the educated upper-caste native functionaries in administrative services. There was another reason for this to happen. There was no grammar of Marathi written in Marathi on which Venkat Madhav could model his grammar. Moreover, there was hardly anyone in Madras Presidency who could understand Marathi. VividhadnyƗnavistƗr was the first Marathi literary journal started in 1868. R. B. Gunjikar, who was one of the prominent scholars of Marathi language and literature, was the editor of VividhadnyƗnavistƗr. He (?) undertook a systematic review of Marathi grammar in the essay on Marathi grammar, which was published in the very first issue of VividhadnyƗnavistƗr. Though this journal was devoted to the literary issues, considerable space was reserved for the debate on Marathi grammar. It is difficult to identify the author of this essay as it was published anonymously. While admiring language as an independent variable, as against grammar and linguistic variability in general, Gunjikar unhesitatingly pointed out that the variety of Marathi used in Pune was the purest variety. Such an understanding presupposes that the society in a given region is homogeneous. It also disregards the fact that the élites living in various regions do share certain linguistic code. Gunjikar then corrects himself and argues that there are people in Pune, who speak impure Marathi, and there are people in Mumbai, Satara, Ratnagiri or Nasik, who speak pure Marathi. He obliquely suggests the élites living across the region share certain tenets of language. These tenets prove to be very useful in standardising language. Such a standard language further becomes the lingua franca for the élites. Thus, Gunjikar takes cognizance of the role of the social class, which is crucial in determining the standard in a given language.

81 K. S. Arjunwadkar, Venka‫ܒ‬mƗdhavkrut MahƗrƗ‫܈‬traprayogcandrikƗ (Pune: Deshmukh and Company. 1970) 6-7.


Chapter Four

Gunjikar criticised Bal Gangadhar Shastri for eulogising the notion of language purity. Shastri had defined the objective of grammar in terms of the purity of language. However, Gunjikar’s critique of Shastri was selfdefeating as the former could not help considering the language used by the respectable gentry of the community as a model for writing grammar: Bal Gangadhar Shastri has defined grammar: “Grammar is science by means of which one learns pure language”....However, language has remarkably changed since then. There are only a few grey areas in language now; and as the number and knowledge of the educated are increasing it will be insufficient to inform the students of grammar and define it grammar it in terms of “How to speak pure and how to write pure; and grammar helps us to distinguish between the pure and the impure”.... Thereby it is difficult to assert that the language which is approved by all is the pure language.... In brief, a grammarian has no right to decide whether a certain language is pure or impure. His job is limited to unfailingly note down the rules of the language spoken and written by the respectable people. has no right to decide whether a certain language is pure or impure. His job is limited to unfailingly note down the rules of the language spoken 82 and written by the respectable people.

Many Orientalist scholars of Indian languages in the eighteenth century saw a connection between Indian languages and Sanskrit. For example, Halhed, who was the first European to learn Bengali, categorically mentioned the relationship between Bengali and Sanskrit. He writes: “The following work presents the Bengal language merely as derived from its parent Sanscrit.”83 Under the influence of the Orientalist linguists, many European grammarians had assumed that the Indian vernaculars were the offspring of Sanskrit. During this period, which was a formative period for many of the Indian languages, Sanskrit became the paragon for the Indian languges. Like many other grammarians and linguists, Gunjikar (?) assumed that Marathi was an offshoot of Sanskrit. He condemned those grammarians of Marathi who based their grammar of Marathi on English. The choice of the DevnƗgari script by William Carey for the printing of the first book was not very deliberate. Being a missionary, it was obvious that he must have thought of writing the grammar in Mo‫ڲ‬i, the language used by the commoners. Owing to the unavailability of the characters in Mo‫ڲ‬i, Carey had to use the DevnƗgari characters: 82

“VyƗkara৆vivecan.” VividhadnyƗnvistƗr 1.1 (1868): 5-6. Halhed xx; P. J. Marshall, The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century. (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1970) 9-10. 83

The Standardisation of Marathi


Books in the Mahratta language are generally written in the Devunaguri character, but the character commonly used in business is the Moorh. The system of that alphabet and the Devunaguri is the same. Types of the Moorh character not having yet been cast in Bengal, the Devunagari will be used in this work.84

The utility of the first print of Carey’s grammar was in doubt, as it was hardly understood by the Marathi-speaking people. One writer has expressed this doubt: The Marahatta Grammar by Reverend Dr. Carey is in very few hands here, and in fact only a small proportion of that nation can read the Balbodh or Nagree character in which its parts are illustrated.85

When the Mo‫ڲ‬i characters became available, Carey saw that the subsequent editions of his grammar occurred in the Mo‫ڲ‬i script. Carey’s stance of using the Mo‫ڲ‬i script was in consistence with the missionary cause of proselytizaton.

The Purpose of Grammar The purpose of Sanskrit grammar was decided to retain the purity of language. Revathi Krishnaswamy argues that ancient Indian grammarians regarded Sanskrit, which she terms as the Ɩryan language, as an important means of accomplishing religious sacrifices. Ritualistically, non-Ɩryan languages were considered inferior. To ensure religious merit, it was absolutely necessary in ritual contexts to employ the right word in the right place and to pronounce it correctly. PƗ৆ini wrote the grammar of Sanskrit because the hegemony of Sanskrit was seriously challenged by the Buddhist tradition, which had upheld the cause of the Prakrits. The Prakrit languages were slowly becoming more respectable. These languages were markedly different from the Sanskrit used in the Vedas and other scriptures. G. B. Gramopadhye argues that the purpose of Sanskrit grammar was to safeguard Sanskrit against the challenges posed by the Prakrit languages and retain its purity by constructing its grammar. The writing of grammar


Gangadhar Morje, Ed. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ DolƗmudrite (Panaji: Gomantak Marathi Akadami, 1995) 30. 85 Morje 29.


Chapter Four

was a means whereby Sanskrit was to be made accessible to the upper-varna users.86 The Marathi grammarians wrote the grammars of Marathi with varied purposes. Some grammars were written for the European learners of Marathi. Some grammarians claimed that their grammar would help the learners learn Sanskrit. Many early grammarians of Marathi made the purpose of their grammar clear. Nearly all of them were Sanskrit-educated and none of them had disowned the lineage of Sanskrit grammar. Sanskrit grammar written by the Sanskrit grammarians was not secular or academic in its intention. There was no tradition of writing grammar in or of Marathi before the colonial contact, except a few rudimentary attempts made by the MahƗnubhƗvi scholars. The early grammarians of Marathi explicitly stated the purpose of their grammar(s). Dadoba Pandurang Tarkhadkar (1814-1882) wrote that grammar was required to teach people to speak and write pure Marathi and to teach them to distinguish between pure and impure usages of language. Bal Shastri Jambhekar also defined grammar as the science of speaking and writing in a pure way.87 The early grammarians of Marathi also included the Portuguese and British missionaries. The missionaries felt it imperative to acquire the indigenous languages, which entailed learning their grammars. However, such grammars, though written by the Europeans, were not free from caste prejudice. The oldest grammar of modern Marathi was written by Father Stephen in 1640. Shrinivas Madhusudan Pinge tells us that this grammar may help us understand the variety of language used by the contemporary brahmins in Konka৆.88 Gangadhar Shastri Phadake wrote that his grammar entitled MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra Bha‫܈‬ece VyƗkara۬ (1838) would help the learner to enter the world of Sanskrit.89 Consequently, his grammar was partly based on Sanskrit. On the contrary, Dadoba’s grammar had a different purpose. His


G. B. Gramopadhye. “BhƗৢece VyƗkara৆a Ɨni ĝuddhaĞuddhavivek.” MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra SƗhitya PatrikƗ. 33:129 (1959) 31. 87 Bal Shastri, Outline of Grammar (1860) 1-2. This book was written for the school children. Bal Shastri wrote in the introduction of the book that the purpose of the book was to draw the attention of the students, both rich and poor, to education, and the welfare of the nation depended on the spread of education. 88 Srinivas Madhusudan Pinge, YuropiyanƗncƗ MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯcƗ AbhyƗs Va SevƗ (Mumbai: Marathi Sanshodhan Mandal, 1960) 17. 89 Phadake quoted in K. B. Kulkarni, Ɩdhunik MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ GadyƗcƯ UtkrƗntƯ (Mumbai: K. B. Kulkarni, 1956) 86.

The Standardisation of Marathi


grammar was partly aimed at facilitating the learning of a foreign language, particularly, English.90 Thus, another motivation for the writing of grammar in olden days, as has just been mentioned, was the assumption that grammatical knowledge of the vernacular would facilitate the learning of English. Dadoba made this clear in the introduction to his grammar: For the last two to three years, there has been increasing liking for grammar among the [native] boys....This [knowledge of the grammar of Marathi] helps in learning foreign language....Knowledge of vocabulary of the language that we learn is essential. With the help of this, a foreign language can be learned quickly and in a pure way. For this, the boys must have the knowledge of their language.91

Writing the grammar of a language is always seen as an essential prerequisite for its standardisation. Another use of grammar, as pointed out by Dadoba, was born of the necessity of standardisation. Dadoba stated very explicitly that one of the great advantages of constructing the grammar of language was the achievement of standardisation. The idea that all the users of language should use one standard language for speech and one script for writing gave impetus to the early attempts of the construction of Marathi grammar. He exemplifies this by showing the variation in the use of inflections in the various parts of MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ . He writes that the karhƗde brahmins in Rajapur in Konka৆, many people living in the hilly regions and many castes in Mumbai use inflection in many different ways. However, he advises the students who learn grammar must give up this variation and start imitating the use of language by the famous, highborn and scholarly people.92 Krishnashastri Chiplunkar drew attention to the utility of learning the grammar of one’s own mother tongue. But while making this argument, he made a distinction between the layman, who does not require the knowledge of grammar, and the one, who wishes to become a writer for whom the knowledge of grammar becomes indispensable. Thus, for him, proficiency in grammar becomes an essential means to distinguish between the illiterate populace and the literate intellectuals. He took it for granted that those who did not learn grammar did not face any difficulty, 90

Dadoba quoted in Kulkarni 87. Priyolkar 1954 5-6. 92 Dadoba Pandurang Tarkhadkar, MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra BhƗ‫܈‬ece VyƗkara۬a (A Grammar of the Marathi Language for the Use of Students) (1836; Bombay: American Mission Press, 1850) 123. 91


Chapter Four

as the day-to-day discourse did not require any knowledge of or proficiency in grammar as such.93 As discussed earlier, the demand for English was ever increasing during this period. The colonial administrators also shared the assumption that the knowledge of mother tongue facilitates learning a foreign language. Therefore, they promoted the writing of grammar by purchasing the copies existing grammars. Major Candy had favourably commented on Dadoba’s grammar and recommended it to the government in 1838 in the following terms: I beg to report very favourably of the work upon the whole. I think that it does the author great credit, and that it is deserving of the patronage of Government.94

Arrangement for awarding prizes for writing new ones was also made.95 It is pertinent to note here that the grammars of many European languages came to be patterned on the Latin model. Jesperson has pointed out that Latin systems of tenses and moods in the verbs were deliberately forced on many languages, which, he called, linguistic violence, which meant a distortion and misrepresentation of their natural forms. As discussed, achieving proficiency in the vernaculars of India was made obligatory to the British civil servants in India.96 Elphinstone, himself proficient in Marathi, had devised regulations, regarding examinations in vernacular languages, which were stringently enforced. Many vacancies could be filled only by those who acquired a knowledge of one of the native languages and by those who had shown these qualifications by examinations before committees appointed for this purpose.97 The East India Company had established a college at 93 R. B. Joshi, Ed., Chiplunkar Krishnashastri. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkara۬ƗvarƯl Nibandh. (1893; Pune: Continental Prakashan, 1971) 3. 94 K. S. Arjunwadkar, MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkaranƗcƗ ItihƗs (Mumbai: Mumbai Vishwavidyalaya and Pune: Dnyanmudra, 1992) 45. 95 In 1863, the Dakshina Prize Committee published an advertisement in Pune PƗthĞƗlƗpatrak in which a scholarship of one thousand rupees was promised to the one who would write a good book on Marathi grammar. It was expected that the writer should write in the style in which modern European grammars were written and show that the Prakrit languages had descended from Sanskrit. Marathi School Paper. 3-6 (Oct. 1863) 141-2. 96 For more information, refer to the chapter entitled “Yuropiyan Lokanci MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Bhaৢeci ParƯkৢƗ” in Pinge 110-8. 97 David O. Allen, ‘State and Prospects of the English Language in India” American Oriental Society Vol. 4 (1854) 267.

The Standardisation of Marathi


Hayleybury to train the civil servants to be posted in India. Such a policy required a book on grammar, specially designed for the learners in this college. James Ballentyne fulfilled this need by writing a grammar of Marathi. In the preface to the book, he explains the purpose of and sources used for writing the grammar: This sketch of the Mahratta Grammar has been drawn out for the use of the East India College at Hayleybury, where a Mahratta class has been recently formed....In forming these outlines, use has been made....of a collection of manuscript notes by a native Brahmin, prepared for the use of a lamented relative, the early instructor of the compiler, and the loss of whose advice and assistance in the present compilation he has had frequent occasion to deplore.98

In writing the grammar, Ballentyne had to seek the help of a brahmin. Like most other European grammarians, he also relied on Sanskrit and recommended Charles Wilkins’s Sanskrit Grammar to the learners. The Rev. J. Stevenson published The Principles of Murathee Grammar in 1833. By the time he published his grammar, a very few books were published in Marathi. Though Stevenson was a very good scholar of Marathi, he had to consult two brahmins, named Purshurampant Godbole and Dajee Shastree Shookla. He also invited four brahmins from various directions and employed them to teach him more about Marathi grammar. While writing his grammar, he had to borrow his terminology from Sanskrit grammar.99 He preferred to rely on the desh veriety of Marathi to the konkunee version.100 The purpose of grammar in the Sanskrit tradition was to protect the purity of language. Grammar was taught to the students to prevent the corruption of their pronunciation.101 This ideology of purity embedded with Sanskrit langauge was bound to influence early Marathi grammars. Gunjikar showed a pragmatic understanding of the importance of Marathi grammar and lexicon in Marathi in the wake of the making of modern Marathi. He felt it imperative to have a grammar and lexicon in Marathi for its elevation. He severely criticised the nineteenth century 98 James R. Ballentyne, A Grammar of Mahratta Language Edinburgh: J. Hall, 1839 no pag. 99 Arjunwadkar 1992 35. 100 K. B. Kulkarni, “MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkara৆aci KuশkathƗ” in Damle Moro Keshav ĝƗstrƯya MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkara۬a (1910; Pune: Yande Raghunath Damodhar, 1965) 95. 101 “Boy, you must learn grammar if not much. [If you are ignorant of grammar] you may mispronounce.” For more analysis, refer to Deshpande Sanskrit.


Chapter Four

English-educated intelligentsia for being unmindful of its historic responsibility towards Marathi. He complains that the rulers were neglecting Marathi and, likewise, the indigenous intelligentsia disowned its responsibility. He complained that the Marathi intelligentsia, unlike their counterparts in the European countries, had developed a strong aversion to their own mother tongue.102 Gunjikar set the guiding principles for the writing of Marathi grammar. He subscribed to the élitist view that the new grammarians should pay special attention to the nature of the variety of language used by the learned. He went on to warn that the grammarians must not subscribe to prescriptivism. However, for him, the critique of prescriptivism does not seem to presuppose or support descriptivism either. He insisted that the grammarians should base their grammar on the language of the élites. Thus, the grammar of Marathi was endowed with multiple functions. It is not that each grammarian was writing his grammar with the same purpose. We find a complex interplay of functions in the making of each grammar. Barring these differences, this entire exercise was carried out under the powerful influence of Sanskrit, English and the variety of Marathi used by the upper-caste élites. Other caste-specific and region-specific varieties of Marathi did not have any place in this exercise.

Marathi Grammar and Covert Prescriptivism Revathi Krishnaswamy, in her scholarly article, has pointed out the limitation of studying language ideologies in the framework of SaidianFoucauldian discourse-centred approach. She argues that such an approach implicitly inscribes “the West as the privileged site of linguistic theory / science and also minimises or erases the agency of the colonised”.103 PƗ৆ini’s grammar (c. 500 BC) appeared at a historical moment when the Ɩryan language of the early Vedic text was fast becoming archaic and new forms had begun to develop. Forcing the Ɩryan to look at their own language more carefully104, attempts were made to describe and define various aspects of the Ɩryan language and utmost care was taken while pronouncing the words so as to preserve the purity of words. The attempt 102

R. B. Gunjikar, RƗmcandra BhikƗji Gunjikar YƗnce Sankalit Lekh (Mumbai: R. K. Tatnis, 1942) 7-8. 103 Revathi Krishnaswamy, “Nineteenth-Century Language Ideology: A Postcolonial Perspective” Interventions 7: 1 (2005) 43-71. 104 Krishnaswamy 50.

The Standardisation of Marathi


was to document and thus preserve the Ɩryan language as it was currently spoken. With the gradual rise of the non-brahminical varna-groups and nonVedic or anti-Vedic (Buddhist and Jain) groups, their languages (the Prakrits) gained popularity and prestige. Gautam Buddha had insisted that his disciples should use the Prakrit languages while delivering sermons to the people. In this period, as a matter of containment, the brahminical élites subscribed to the policy of extending the sacred authority previously accorded only to the Vedic Sanskrit to non-Vedic Sanskrit as well. Though the Prakrits existed alongside Sanskrit when PƗ৆ini wrote his treatise, he, like many other Sanskrit grammarians, gave no importance to them. Patanjali (c. 100 BC) made an attempt, when the traditionally suppressed varnas began to ascend, to arrest the rising tide of nonbrahminical languages. He quoted an ancient ritual text, which said that only the use of Sanskrit led to religious merit or dharma while the “subnormal” languages produced only demerit or adharma. He also quoted an ancient ritual text, which said that, if a sacrificer used a nonSanskritic expression during a sacrifice, he must perform penance to expiate the sin.105 During this phase, the grammar of Sanskrit, which was shaped by PƗ৆ini, underwent qualitative change. The question of “correctness” became the most dominant factor, and it was directly connected with the notions of religious merit and legality in the minds of later grammarians. The hieratic attitude of these grammarians is evident in the derogatory terms they use, like “apaĞabda” and “apabhraۨĞa” (incorrect or substandard speeches) used to designate the Prakrit-languages.106 Krishnaswami argues that just as the colonial power was instrumental in the construction of linguistic discourse in nineteenth century India, linguistic thought in the nineteenth century Europe was influenced by the Sanskritist tradition of PƗ৆ini, which was transmitted to Europeans by the Indian pun‫ڲ‬its. The Sanskrit-centric comparative philology was a collaborative project of the colonialists and the indigenous brahminical élites. Sanskrit grammar had a significant role to play in the construction of the nineteenth century European linguistic tradition. Many scholars of comparative philology could not venture to transcend the technical issues to examine the sociolinguistic, cultural and ideological contexts of Sanskrit grammar. Probal Dasgupta’s study also shows that in the Western 105 106

Krishnaswamy 56. Krishnaswamy 50.


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encounter, in the colonial context, Sanskrit, which was made available to Western inquirers by “the language managing profession in the Hindu communities, played a crucial role in shaping the project of a scientific 107 study of language.” Dasgupta also discusses the ideological and cultural forces that made Sanskrit so crucial in the shaping of the European thought of language. He believes that thinking of Sanskrit as a straightforward object which Western inquiry encountered is an oversimplication; it is necessary to ask what forces and practices constituted it as an object.108 Ferdinand de Saussure had learnt the PƗ৆inian system from his teacher Delbrueck to the point of being able to use some pieces of it in his research.109 The teaching of grammar was integral to the colonial design. Robert Phillipson, who has unearthed many documents of the US and British English language agencies, has shown that the teaching of grammar in the colonial period, which had been presented as a period of impartial academic concern, was in fact driven by policies favoured by the British government. The teaching of grammar was clearly a concern of colonialism. Grammatical knowledge of English was, according to the colonial office in 1847, “the most important agent of civilisation for the coloured people of the colonies.”110 This shows that the teaching of grammar was not an ideologically neutral or a humanising enterprise aimed at the welfare of the learners; on the contrary, it was motivated by a desire of constructing more docile subject. The teaching of grammar and thereby the teaching of rules through prescriptivism was aimed at creating a domesticated and malleable labour force. It is well known that prescriptivism has remained a dominant ideology in linguistics. However, in the “mainstream” linguistics of recent times, scholars have generally claimed that prescriptivism is not a central part of, but irrelevant, to their discipline.111 All standard introductory textbooks affirm that linguistics is essentially descriptive and not prescriptive: First, and most important, linguistics is descriptive, not prescriptive. A linguist is interested in what is said, not what he thinks ought to be said. He


Probal Dasgupta, Projective Syntax: Theory and Applications (Pune: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, 1989) 99-144. 108 Dasgupta 100. 109 Dasgupta 103. 110 Holborow 74. 111 Milroy et al. 5.

The Standardisation of Marathi


describes language in all its aspects, but does not prescribe rules of ‘correctness’.112

However, such a widespread recognition of the importance of descriptivism has led the linguists to assume that the “prescriptive phenomena” play no part in language. Many professional language scholars appear to feel that whereas it is respectable to write formal grammars, it is not quite respectable to study prescription.113 Krishnaswami has argued that the binary opposition between description and prescription frequently used by the historians of linguistics is problematic. Descriptivism and prescriptivism overlap each other. The descriptivists’ claim for impartiality has hardly been genuine and reliable. PƗ৆ini claimed to be descriptivist in his Ash‫ܒ‬Ɨdyayi. However, what PƗ৆ini called bhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ or simply “language” actually referred to the Sanskrit spoken by the brahmins.114 Krishnaswamy further argues that though PƗ৆ini’s grammar is generally considered to be “descriptive” rather than “prescriptive”, such an authoritative and comprehensive description in itself could not but have commanded a considerable prescriptive authority. In the brahminical linguistic tradition of ancient India, the ideology of prescriptivism was upheld. The grammarians of the time were advised to take heed of the changed standard usage and revise the grammar accordingly. Such revisions were made either in terms of reinterpretations of PƗ৆ini’s rules or in terms of an explicit agenda. Patanjali advises a grammarian not to be a praptijna, “one who knows what the rules of grammar will generate,” but to be an is‫ܒ‬ijna “one who knows the actual desired standard usage of the élites.”115 The Sanskritic notion of prescriptivism was bound to influence Marathi. Those who claimed to be desriptivists could not rid themselves of the prescriptivist bias. For instance, Gunjikar criticised Bal Shastri Jambhekar for being prescriptivist. However, finally, Gunjikar himself took the prescriptivist stance covertly. In another article entitled MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬rƗ BhƗ‫܈‬emadhye VyƗkara۬ Ɨni KoĞ Yanci ƖvaĞyakatƗ, he made a strong case for prescriptivism. Laying emphasis on the language used by the intelligentsia, he argued that the grammarians should not invent their rules and pass value-judgements.116


Milroy et al. 5. Milroy et al. 6. 114 Krishnaswamy 50. 115 Krishnaswamy 50. 116 Deshpande 29. 113


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Dadoba Pandurang, on the other hand, subscribed to prescriptivism in an overt manner. He was quite aware of the regional and other variants of language and disqualified certain versions of Marathi as impure: [The Kohandeshi and Gomantaki versions of Marathi] are different from the pure Maharashtri language. Apart from these versions, there are two chief types of Marathi - Deshastha and Kokanastha; in this grammar, I followed the language used by the political elites and scholars in the central part of MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ - Pune. As my father and I were born in Konka৆, my language might have Konka۬i dominance and I apologise for that.117

This apologetic stance of Dadoba Pandurang indicates how this mofussil-originated non-brahmin grammarian was influenced by the upper-caste notions of standard language. Dadoba and Major Candy had serious disagreement over the use of myan (I) and tyan (you).118 Dadoba preferred the usage prevalent in Pune. He wrote: “But, in Pune, which is the centre of the linguistic region, no different forms of the pronouns mi (I), tu (you) are used. This is why I used mi and tu in my grammar.” Major Candy always insisted on the use of the variety of Marathi used in Pune. He was appointed as “Marathi Translator” by the Board of Education around 1847. He had already earned the reputation of being a scholar of Marathi. He appointed “Translation Exhibitioners” to translate useful English books into Marathi. He used to examine carefully the books written/translated by the Marathi writers. No book was published without his approval. While examining the books, he used to be very keen on discarding the words and syntactical structures prevalent in the Konka৆i veriety of Marathi. While examining Captain Gaisford’s BƗlmitra Part II, Candy replaced the Konka৆i words with the words used in Pune: The chief alterations which have been made in this edition of Captain Gaisford’s excellent work, consist in a substitution of easy words for some hard ones, in a simplification of here and there, and in replacing Concunee forms by pure Desh ones. The title of the last piece has been changed. 119

Dadoba passed a significant judgement in his grammar on the issue of inflection. In his discussion of this issue he favoured the use of the language in Pune and Konka৆, though this use contradicted the rules of grammar. The inflection used by the “vulgar” section of the society was in accordance with the grammar of Marathi. However, Dadoba supported the 117

Tarkhadkar 1850 no pag. (Emphasis added.) MSA, GD, Vol. 540, 1840, 137; Kulkarni 93. 119 Pinge 202. 118

The Standardisation of Marathi


inflection of the élite, which was different from that of the common people.120 While promoting this version of Marathi, Dadoba’s concern was not really linguistic but covertly social. Gunjikar also criticised Bal Gangadhar Shastri for defining grammar in terms of the purity of language. Bal Shastri Jambhekar had defined grammar as the “science of speaking and writing pure language.” He had further argued that the purpose of grammar was to teach the learners how to distinguish between the pure and impure uses of language. He stamped such a view as descriptive. But Gunjikar argued that the grammarian had no right to recommend a certain language use as pure language. However, Gunjikar’s claim on descriptivism withered away as he took the prescriptivist stance by suggesting that grammarians should model their grammar on the language used by the respectable community in the society. Dadoba had made it clear that grammar is a science by which language is standardised. In the preface to the second edition of his grammar, Dadoba complained that the structure of Marathi had become very loose as no grammarian had ever “combed” it to systematize it. Finally, his normative emphasis on certain usage of language did not bear fruit as the users of Marathi had devised their own ways of using the language. In his autobiography, Dadoba complained that even forty-five years after the publication of his grammar, nobody had ever attempted to use Marathi according to the rules he had prescribed. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the grammarians of Marathi had begun to admit that linguistic diversity is inevitable in every society. For example, Krishnashastri Chiplunkar acknowledged that though language was a generic or unified term, it was never so in a given society.121 He conceded that Marathi was not used in the entire region uniformly and that, even the language used in the same city is not free from variations. He accepted that there was a gap between the languages used by the illiterate ku۬bƯs (peasants), ĞimpƯs (tailors), sutƗrs (carpenters), etc. and the brahmins. Chiplunkar complained that the grammarians did not base their grammar on all the varieties of language. The grammars are based on the language spoken and, particularly, written by the people who are educated, powerful and respected in the society.122 He also agreed to the view that no language was inherently greater than another. A certain language does not


Tarkhadkar 1850 122. R. B. Joshi, VyƗkara۬ƗvarƯl Nibandha. (Pune: Chitrashala, 1893) 23. 122 Joshi 25. 121

Chapter Four


become greater than the other because of its virtue; it receives greatness because of the social status of its users. However, despite his criticism of the prescriptive stance taken by the grammarians, Chiplunkar’s object of study, while writing his essays on Marathi grammar, was the variety of Marathi used by the brahmins in Pune. He also stressed that the grammar of Marathi should be modelled on the usages in the old Marathi grammar. The study of grammar should benefit its learners in understanding the old books in Marathi. Such a self-contradictory stance of Chiplunkar on Marathi grammar proves that his position on Marathi language in general and Marathi grammar in particular was not drastically different from that of the prescriptivists. Many contemporary scholars like K. B. Kulkarni and K. S. Arjunwadkar have failed to understand prescriptivism which was latent in the descriptivists’ position. For example, quoting Krishnashastri Chiplunkar and Nanashastri Apte uncritically, K. B. Kulkarni wrongly argues that Chiplunkar and Apte were descriptivists. Chiplunkar and Apte argued: We again beg to observe that those, who attach supreme authority to usage in grammar do not mean usage in general, but the usage which is prevalent among classical writers. But it may be asked here why in framing the rules of the language, preference should be given to the expressions of the educated and superior minds before those of the uneducated and common ones? In other words[,] why should we sanction and perpetuate the former and condemn and supress the latter? Answer that can be given to these questions is, that the former, for obvious reasons, are more consonant with the principles of logic than the latter. From this, it will be perceived that it is not only usage, but usage supported by logical considerations which ought to guide us in discussions similar to the one under notice.123

Gunjikar extolled Sanskrit in his essay on Marathi language.124 Though this essay is entitled as Marathi BhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ (Marathi language), a major part of it is devoted to glorify the role supposedly played by Sanskrit. Assuming that Marathi and many other Indian languages were the offshoots of Sanskrit, he argued that Sanskrit was an ever-lasting treasure of words from which much can be drawn to strengthen Marathi. He also admired the classical Marathi poets Waman and Moropant for using archaic Marathi which was dominated by Sanskrit vocabulary.In another article entitled Bha‫܈‬emadhye VyƗkara۬a Ɨ۬i KoĞ YƗnci ƖvaĞyakatƗ (The Necessity of Grammar and Dictionary in Marathi Language), Gunjikar writes that the grammarian should never think that a certain usage in 123 124

Kulkarni 349. Gunjikar 1-7.

The Standardisation of Marathi


langauge is impure because it is ungrammatical. However, he unfailingly instructs the grammarians that they should “describe” language as it is used by the educated.125

Dadoba and the Influence of Sanskrit The traditional Sanskritists were prejudiced against Marathi and had not paid any attention to the development of Marathi. The vernaculars in India had to suffer severely at the hands of the traditional élites as they preferred adherence to Sanskrit rather than the cultivation of the vernaculars. As mentioned earlier, Bhalchandra Nemade attributed this preference to the brahminical tradition, which had been contemptuous of Marathi. Bal Shastri Jambhekar frankly acknowledged this: This is absolutely necessary in the present state of the feelings of Natives on this subject, who in their veneration of the classical Sanscrit, treat the Marathee Grammar as too trivial and puerile.126

Dadoba himself complained in 1836 that many people in this country and, particularly, those who were born in the high families and who were learned in the PurƗnƗs did not make any efforts to learn Marathi.127 Dadoba’s grammar remained in wide circulation as it received patronage from the colonial state for about half a century.128 However, Dadoba was criticised by the classicists for many reasons. Though there was enough evidence to argue that it was his own grammar, he was seriously charged with plagiarism. He took a long time to refute these charges, i.e. until the publication of the seventh edition of his grammar in 1885. One of the charges was that he might have seen the unpublished papers of the late Bal Shastri Jambhekar. Perhaps, what lay at the root of this accusation was the assumption that Dadoba could not compose grammar since he was not trained in Sanskrit. Non-brahmin origin of Dadoba provided fertile ground to rumours and canards to spread. In self-defence, Dadoba quoted Jambhekar, who had recognised Dadoba as the real author and admired him:


Gunjikar 7-13. Kulkarni 90. 127 Dadoba Pandurang Tarkhadkar, MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra BhƗ‫܈‬ece VyƗkara۬a (1836, Mumbai: Majgaon Printing, 1885) 6. 128 Matthew R. Lederle, Philosophical Trends in Modern Maharashtra (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1976) 46. 126


Chapter Four I have known Dadoba Pandurang for many years. In the knowledge of the English language, general literature and science, I consider him equal to the best educated natives of Bombay. While no one among them that I know of, is so well-acquainted with the grammatical structure of the Marathi language. He is the author of the grammar of that language, which is deservedly esteemed as the best work on the subject. His writing is correct and idiomatic, and is such as has not been acquired by any translator of English works perhaps with one or two exceptions.129

Paradoxically, when the nineteenth century grammarians of Marathi started constructing the grammar of Marathi, they could not escape the influence of Sanskrit.130 Dadoba, though not so proficient in Sanskrit, could not escape the influence of Sanskrit on his grammar. The editor of the DnyƗnakoĞa called Dadoba’s grammar a “vague analysis” and attributed his failure to his being ignorant of Sanskrit.131 Being a non-brahmin, Dadoba might not have had access to Sanskrit. His teacher, Bapu Shastri Maydeo Shukla, used to tell his non-brahmin students: “You, Prabhus and Goldsmiths, will never master the pronunciation of Sanskrit words. You, fish-eaters!”132 While writing his grammar, Dadoba was in his early twenties and was working as Assistant Teacher in Elphinstone Institution. His was the first grammar, which was written by the one who had no acquaintance with Sanskrit. This is why his grammar was least influenced by Sanskrit. However, Dadoba took his ignorance of Sanskrit not as a virtue but as a serious handicap, which was to be mended soon by learning it. Thereafter, he made conscious efforts to learn Sanskrit grammar.133 However, Major Candy condemned Dadoba’s use of Sanskritised language. In his review of Dadoba’s grammar, he said: 129

Priyolkar 1954 5. Many grammarians have openly acknowledged that Marathi grammar exhibits the influence of Sanskrit. For example, the grammarians of the American Marathi Mission also assumed that: The Marathi, though undoubtedly an original language, has received large accessions from other languages. Specially has it been affected by the Sanskrit. Probably not less than one fourth of its vocables are from that language, and some of its most important grammatical principles and idioms are evidently from Sanskrit origin. —Grammar of the Marathi Language. Bombay: American Marathi Mission, 1854, iv. 131 Arjunwadkar 1992 81. 132 K. S. Arjunwadkar, MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗnkara۬ƗcƗ ItihƗs (Mumbai: Mumbai University and Pune: Dnyanmudra, 1991) 44. 133 Kulkarni 96. 130

The Standardisation of Marathi


The style though occasionally obscure is in general clear and good. The terms of Maratha grammar are necessarily borrowed from Sanskrit and must therefore be difficult to the unlearned reader; but the explanation of terms should always be given in plain and simple Murathee. The author has not sufficiently attended to this point. He has here and there used high Sanskrit words and compounds without necessity.134

DnyƗnodaya also criticised Dadoba for the unnecessary use of hard, high, Sanskrit words. One of the reasons that led Dadoba to learn Sanskrit so consciously was that he was from the non-brahmin background and he knew it well that he could not have settled the issues in grammar without achieving proficiency in Sanskrit. Dadoba, who had no training in Sanskrit, could have written a grammar of Marathi, which was uninfluenced by Sanskrit. However, he turned out to be a traditionalist rather than a radical. In the absence of an alternative to the brahminical ideological tradition, he had to succumb to the brahminical ideology. It has already been argued that although Dadoba was ignorant of Sanskrit, his language could not evade the influence of Sanskrit. He had to invite the wrath of Major Candy for doing so: Another great fault of Dadoba’s style in this grammar is his unnecessary use of high Sanskrit words. I do not here refer mere to technical terms of grammar, which when they do not exist in Murathee must be borrowed from Sanscrit, but to his explanations, which ought to be as simple as can be. It is very creditable to Dadoba that he has made himself acquainted with many Sanscrit terms and phrases that are not commonly known by his countrymen, but he should be cautious in his use of them. Sometimes he shows that he does not himself understand the words he uses. I have pointed out one or two instances of this in my remarks. I fear that his books, as it now is, will be above the comprehension of 19/20 of the masters of Vernacular Schools. To their scholars of course it will be still more difficult.135

Though Dadoba made the first serious attempt to write Marathi grammar, he could not contribute to historical grammar. Arjunwadkar argues that it was Krishnashastri Chiplunkar who laid the foundation of the historical method in grammar. R. B. Joshi, who edited Chiplunkar’s essays on Marathi grammar, passed a comment on the two contemporary grammarians of Marathi – Dadoba and Krishnashastri Godbole. Joshi 134 135

MSA, GD, Vol. - 540, 1840, 136. Kulkarni 1956 (Appendix) 35.


Chapter Four

compared Dadoba with Godbole with respect to their contribution to the historical method of enquiry in grammar. He attributed the shortcomings of Dadoba’s grammar to his inability to write the historical grammar of Marathi.136 Godbole was admired for showing that Marathi was essentially an offspring of Sanskrit. Dadoba complained in his book on Marathi grammar that many people in this country were unaware of the term “grammar” and those who were born of “great parentage” as well as teachers strongly tended to ignore the importance of grammar. However, Dadoba ignored the pre-colonial attempts of constructing the grammar of Marathi. Though these attempts remained stray and rudimentary, they are important because these grammars were based neither on Sanskrit nor on English. The Portuguese missionaries were the early writers of Marathi grammar. Father Thomas Stephen wrote a grammar of the Konka৆i language. This grammar was not based on the variety of Marathi used in Pune. It was based on the language popular in Konka৆. The new élite in the colonial era was trained in the system of English education and it developed a prejudiced view about Indian languages. Gunjikar had criticised this class of intellectuals for having lost the power to translate into Marathi what they had acquired.137 V. K. Rajwade also discussed this issue in his speech delivered as the president of the first Sharodapasaka Sammelan. He presented a list of 102 leading intellectuals in MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ who used English for writing books, articles and personal correspondence.138 Datto Vaman. Potdar also complained that the English educated had to learn Sanskrit through English and that too before they could have enough grounding in Marathi. These English-educated intellectuals, Potdar argues, roared at Marathi instead of patronising it.139 Thus, it becomes clear that the evolution that modern Marathi had been very eventful. The trajectory that modern Marathi grammar had to travel was not so easy. Particularly, the adverse response that modern Marathi received from the newly-arisen English-educated intelligentsia and the negligence it suffered at the hands of the state posed it many difficulties.


Joshi 1893 3. V. K. Rajwade, Marathi BhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ MumurĞu Ɩhe KƗy? (Pune: Sharada-Vihar, 1926) 10-7. 138 Viththal Krishna Nerurkar, MarathicƗ SansƗr (Pune (?) : Sadashiv Vishnu Choudhari, 1928) no pag. 139 Gunjikar 24. 137

The Standardisation of Marathi


Lexicography and the Standardisation of Marathi Like grammar, dictionary is one of the necessary requirements of language standardisation. It exemplifies codification and normalization. Selection of words out of a huge corpus of oral and written forms of language is very crucial in the making of a dictionary. The process of selection is important in legitimising the standards. Bourdieu writes: It [dictionary] assembles, by scholarly recording, the totality of the linguistic resources accumulated in the course of time and, in particular, all the possible uses of the same word (or all the possible expressions of the same sense), juxtaposing uses that are socially at odds, and even mutually exclusive (to the point of marking those which exceed the bounds of acceptability with a sign of exclusion such as Obs., Coll. or Sl.).140

Many European lexicographers based their dictionaries on the vocabulary used by the literate class. The lexicographers of Marathi in the mid-nineteenth century, like Major Kennedy and Thomas Candy, shared the idea that the vernaculars in India were uncivilised and abundant with “tax phraseology” and “licentious use”. Dr. Samuel Johnson’s dictionary played an important role in achieving standardisation of English. The son of a bookseller, he had attended Oxford becoming a schoolmaster. He was part of a new social layer of learned people. His aim was to present an idealised representation of the language, to show how it should be, rather than how it actually was. He drew examples from the recognised canon of national literature and from usage in his own intellectual and upper class London circle, giving English speakers and would-be speakers an élite model on which to base their choices.141 Holborow argues that Johnson, who was born outside the landed class, was making his claim to be part of the cultivated eighteenth century society. Having himself received a classical education, outside the ranks of the landowning class, Johnson wanted a model of language that could also be a means of class distinction. He was extraordinarily dismissive of ordinary people’s speech and words used in the dialects. He put it thus: Of the laborious and mercantile part of the people, the diction is in a great measure casual and mutable....This fugitive cant, which is always in a state of increase or decay, cannot be regarded as any part of the durable


Bourdieu 48. Wright Sue, Language Policy and Language Planning: From Nationalism to Globalisation (New York: Palgrave, 2004) 56.



Chapter Four materials of a language and therefore must be suffered to perish with other things unworthy of preservation.142

Though standardisation of English had been in progress for many centuries, this process gathered momentum in the eighteenth century. In the eighteenth century, a new class configuration was taking shape in England. According to Milroy and Milroy, eighteenth century was a century of authoritarianism and prescription. During that century much of the necessary work of codifying the standard language was carried out notably in Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary (1755).143 According to Milroy and Milroy, the eighteenth century legislators did not achieve any desirable success in suppressing the variations in language. The process of standardisation had been institutionalised long before the eighteenth century by establishing various academies across Europe. For example, The Academic Francaise (Académie Française) was established to fix a standard for French in the seventeenth century.144 The Italians also had their Accademiaa della Crusca in Florence since 1582, much before there was a nation called Italy. These academies were charged with the task of promoting, the “purity, strength and sublimity” of language, prescribe the use of language and prevent languages’ ruin. In the wake of nationalism, “regimentation and control of language use” had become essential for the élites. These academies were established for the conscious planning of standardisation and for the interaction between cultural and political élites. However, these institutions could not succeed in preventing language change. Dr. Johnson expressed their failure thus: with...justice may the lexicographers be derided, who…shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language… With this hope, however, academies have been instituted, to guard the avenues of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; sounds are too volatile and subtle for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its strength.145

Milroy and Milroy argue that, despite the legislatures of that century, language continued to change. However, it is equally true that these 142

Holborow 162. Milroy et al. 34-5; Simon Winchester, The Meaning of Everything: The Oxford English Dictionary Oxford: Oxford U P, 2003, 27. 144 Milroy et al. 34. 145 Bolton quoted in Milroy et al. 35. 143

The Standardisation of Marathi


attempts succeeded in establishing a widespread consciousness about a relatively uniform “correct” English. Subsequent advances in literacy and mass education continued to ensure that people looked to the relatively standardised written channel as the model of correctness. Milroy and Milroy described this phenomenon as “ideology of standardisation”. The Marathi-English Dictionary, compiled by James Thomas Molsworth (1795-1872), was a landmark in the history of Marathi. It was a more ambitious attempt. The making of this dictionary involved British scholars like Thomas Candy and George Candy and a host of local brahmins. Molsworth had succeeded in collecting over 50,000 words in Marathi.146 As discussed earlier, the first dictionary of Marathi words was compiled by William Carey in 1810 with the assistance of Vaidyanath Sharma. This dictionary was to fulfil the need of the Europeans to get acquainted with “the manners and customs of different Indian nations.”147 The first indigenous attempt towards the making of a monolingual dictionary was initiated at the behest of the Bombay School Book Society. A few pun‫ڲ‬its of the Society were deputed to do this work. This dictionary, entitled as Marathi-Marathi KoĞ, was published in 1829. Moreover, these pun‫ڲ‬its-cum-lexicographers refused to incorporate the Persian, Urdu and Arabic words into it. These pun‫ڲ‬its included Jagannathshastri Kramwant, Bal Shastri Ghagave, Gangadhar Shastri Phadake, Ramchandrashastri Janhavekar, Sakharamshastri Joshi, Dajishastri Shukla and Parshurampant Godbole. These lexicographers were trained in Sanskrit and hardly had any experience in writing in Marathi. They were aware of the fact that there was a lot of variation in Marathi in the forms of idiolect, dialect, etc. This posed many challenges to them. They solved this problem by treating Pune as the centre of MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ. They assumed that the variety of Marathi used in Pune was also popular and in vogue in the rest of MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ.148 The emergence of one of the Pune-Marathis as the standard language was not an accident. There was nothing inherently superior about this dialect used in Pune. Holborow argues that dialects are equal; it is their histories that are different. It was not just a matter of coincidence that Pune became so crucial in determining the standards in Marathi. It was the growing importance of brahmins as the newly risen intelligentsia which proved to be crucial in determining the standards in Marathi. In London, it was the growing trading class, which allowed the East Midland dialect to 146

Pinge 159. Kulkarni 115. 148 Kulkarni 120. 147


Chapter Four

gain dominance. However, in the case of Marathi, it was not the growing trading class in Bombay but the traditional braminical élites in Pune that set the standards in Marathi. The pun‫ڲ‬its also took it for granted that the MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ language (Marathi) was the language used by the deĞastha brahmins and the dictionary of this language should contain the vocabulary used by this caste. K. B. Kulkarni has criticised the pun‫ڲ‬its for using sanskritised Marathi and making the dictionary incomprehensible. Molsworth’s seeking the help of brahmins had a lot of bearing on the content of his dictionary. He had collected a lot of words, phrases and idioms through his consultation with the brahmins. He acknowledged this while explaining the scheme of his dictionary: “By arranging alphabetically all the words, they use - all, of whatever origin, of whatever application, - all of which the Brahmins of Poona acknowledge the fitness and currency in Marhata.”149

Molsworth’s dictionary was a gigantic project and was to be very crucial in standardising Marathi. He exhibited the pragmatism of a purist while selecting the words. He omitted the vocabulary used by the lower classes by calling it obscene.150 His longing for purism is evident in one of his letters: The boundless chaos of a living speech is to be reduced in order: words are to be collected from every book, from every writing, and from every tongue: choice is to be made without an established or generally satisfactory principle of selection; - corruptions are to be detected and branded though there is no test of purity; significations are to be ascertained from the mouth of the people;….151

Though Molsworth sought the help of brahmins, he found it difficult to cope with them. The brahmins he had employed were prejudiced against certain words and favoured only Sanskrit words: For so backward are the Brahmins in adopting the principle I have prescribed, that to this moment, they would reject words expressive of ideas and corresponding to terms, which though abstract and learned, are to 149

Molsworth quoted in Pinge 157; A. K. Priyolkar “Major Molsworth Va TyƗncƗ Marathi IngrajƯ KoĞ” in HindustƗnce Don DarvƗje. (Mumbai: The Goa Hindu Association, 1974) 159. 150 Pinge 159. 151 Pinge 159.

The Standardisation of Marathi


us familiar and of which the occurrence will be constant in translations from English; whilst they would receive readily high Sanskrit names for sun and moon, wood, water and stone....152

Molsworth minutely described the procedure involved in the making of his dictionary. The stupendous work of its compilation was carried out at three levels simultaneously. At every level, brahmins were employed to assist him. He writes: We employed Brahmuns, in several quarters of the Muratha territory to collect words, phrases and proverbs. We collected, after all rejections under the heads repetition, corruption, unsuitableness (from being too learned, too low, of too obvious signification, of too recent or too confined adoption & c. & c.) above 25,000 words. With a paper of these words in his hands, one of us sat daily among eight, seven or six Brahmuns....In another, a private and quiet room, another of us, together with a Brahmun, sat to cull out of books, and letters, and petitions, and dictionaries every useful word, every new meaning, every fresh idiom, every remarkable application, every requisite authority. This was another department of our work. In the most retired part of the house sat the third of the three with the most learned Brahmun :- to weigh, condense, arrange and write off the materials prepared and delivered by the assembly.153

Major Kennedy, one of the early lexicographers, mentioned three distinct styles of Marathi which were considerably different from each other: The first or Pracrit is employed in books only, and abounds in Sanskrit words. The second is the language spoken by all well educated natives, and particularly by such as are employed in any situation Civil or Military under Government. It admits less frequently of Sanskrit words but adopts freely such as belong to Arabic, Persian, or Hindi. The third style is peculiar to the cultivators and lower classes. In this foreign words are introduced more sparingly, and though it perhaps possesses few common terms unknown to the second style, yet there must be in it many colloquial and technical terms which scarcely ever occur in general intercourse with those who do not belong to the same class or trade.154

Kennedy chose the second style of these three styles of Marathi with the assumption that the second style is generally understood. This was 152

Pinge 160. J. T. Molsworth, A Dictionary of Marathi and English Compiled by J. T. Molsworth. (1831; Poona: Shubhada-Saraswat, 1986) xxi. 154 MSA, GD, Vol. - 50/55, 1823, 129-30. 153


Chapter Four

done at was done at the neglect of the third style. The groundwork of his dictionary rested on the translation of the Amarkosh made into Marathi by “an intelligent Brahman.”155 In the preparation of this dictionary, apart from Amarkosh, Kennedy sought the help of various manuscript dictionaries, which were prepared for various administrative and military purposes with the help of the munshis. He understood it well that the assistance of the natives was both imperative and useful because they understood the meaning of words more correctly than the Europeans, to whom the objects and acts represented by many terms could be rendered intelligible merely by explanation. Kennedy admitted that his dictionary would appear extremely defective, for it contained only about 8,000 Marathi words. His choice of vocabulary was restricted only to the literate castes. He wrongly attributed this to the absence of cultivated literature in Marathi: But it must be observed that the Maratha is merely a spoken language, and that it has never been cultivated or refined by authors either in prose or in verse. Its formation took place amongst a people engaged in agriculture and as all terms relating to law and religion were adopted from another language and as the vernacular tongue was not employed in composition, it will be obvious that under such circumstances a language could never become copious.156

Traditionally, linguists used to distinguish civilised languages such as those in Europe, from primitive languages, such as those in the erstwhile colonies. They assumed that these so-called primitive languages are incapable of achieving standardisation as they lacked the “inherent potential for the development of attributes required for standardisation.”157 Kennedy called Marathi a dialect and argued that it exhibited only one stage of development as compared to the other languages that had attained “so great a perfection.” He also complained that Marathi lacked expressions for the operations of the mind – for example “to think, to reflect, to fancy.” Thus, the grammarians and the lexicographers in Western India in the early phase of colonial rule played a crucial role in the cultivation of modern Marathi. Their compilations were based on the Sanskritic lines under the combined tutelage of the colonial rule and Marathi élites. 155

MSA, GD, Vol. - 50/55, 1823, 131. MSA, GD, Vol. - 50/55, 1823, 133. 157 Paul Garvin. “A Conceptual Framework for the Study of Language Standardisation.” Standardisation and Modernization: Dynamics of Language Planning. S. Imtiaz Hasnain. Ed. (New Delhi: Bahri Publications, 1995) 10. 156


There is no dearth of studies on the history of modern education in general1 and the development of educational institutions in particular2 in colonial India. However, as Veena Naregal has argued, many of such studies only trace the events chronologically and outline “the contributions of modern education to the emergence of nationalist consciousness”3 More recently, Naregal argues, scholars trained in English have taken a critical note of colonial literacy and its ideological underpinnings.4 1

Syed Mahmood, A History of English Education in India: Its Rise, Development, Progress, Present Condition and Prospects (1781 to 1893) (Delhi: Idarah-I Adabiyat-I Delli, 1895); Bruce Tiebout McCully, English Education and the Origins of Indian Nationalism (1940; Peter Smith: Gloucester, Mass, 1966); B. K. Boman-Behram, Educational Controversies in India: The Cultural Conquest of India under British Imperialism (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons and Co., 1943); Syed Nurullah, and J. P. Naik, A Students’ History of Education of India (1800-1965) (1945; Calcutta: The Macmillan Company of India (P) Limited, 1971); K. S. Vakil, and S. Natarajan, Education in India. (1948; Calcutta: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1966). 2 Nelson J. Frazer, Deccan College: A Retrospect (1851-1901) n .p., u. d.; S. R. Dongerkery, A History of the University of Bombay 1857-1957. (Bombay: University of Bombay, 1957); V. N. Narain, Jonathan Duncan and Varanasi. (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1959); R. D. Dickinson, The Christian College. (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1968); Aroon Tikekar, The Cloister’s Pale: A Biography of the University of Mumbai (1984; Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 2006); Mushirul Hasan Ed. Knowledge, Power and Politics: Educational Institutions in India. (New Delhi: Roli Books Pvt Ltd, 1998). 3 Veena Naregal, Language Politics, Élites and the Public Sphere: Western India under Colonialism (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001) 57. 4 Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (1989. New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2000); Svati Joshi, Rethinking English: Essays in Literature, Language, History (New Delhi: Trianka, 1991); B. R. Bapuji, Society,


Chapter Five

There are many studies devoted to the history of individual institutions. Such studies remain lopsided as they concentrate only on one institution. The historical scholarship on modern India, however, has paid little attention to the development of the educational institutions and language policy pertaining to them in a comparative mode. The colonial state implemented differentiated language policy with regard to different institutions. This differentiated language policy can be understood, if such institutions are studied comparatively. Such a comparison has the advantage of highlighting the extent to which the transmitted knowledge is shaped by specific institutionalised context, organisational structures, social locale of the institutions, and the state policy on language, etc. In Western India, the Sanskrit pƗ৬hĞƗশƗ (also called as Poona College) and Elphinstone Institution were established in Pune and Bombay soon after consolidation of the colonial rule in the nineteenth century with apparently different and contradictory objectives.5 Cultivation of Sanskrit was the primary preoccupation in Pune and the dissemination of English education was the aim professed in Bombay. Both of these institutions were of tremendous prestige and distinction and were very much instrumental in the cultivation of the literary culture, intellectual trends and language policy of the colonial times. This chapter aims to study the differentiation in language policy and shifts in the patronage offered by the British to these institutions in Western India. A wide range of scholars coming from different nationalities of Europe had begun to explore Oriental studies after the 15th century.6 The British State and Education: Essays in the Political Sociology of Language Education (Madras: T. R. Publications, 1993);Tejaswini Niranjana, Siting Translation (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1995); Alstair Pennycook, English and the Discourses of Colonialism (London: Routledge, 1998). 5 These two institutions played an important role in the formation of the organic intellectuals for the colonial state as well as the indigenous élite. These institutions attracted huge funds from the colonial state, plunging primary education bereft of its equally legitimate claim on state support. According to the Report of the Board of Education, these two institutions cost 90,000 rupees a year and 240 vernacular schools, which were attended by about 19,000 scholars, represented a cost of only 54,000 rupees a year. —M. G. Ranade. Miscellaneous Writings of the Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. G. Ranade. Ramabai Ranade (Ed.) (1915, New Delhi: Sahitya Akadami 1992) 257. 6 For more details, refer to Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East 1680-1880 Trans. Paterson-Black and Victor Reinking (1950) English Edition 1984, (New York: Columbia U P) 21-33.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


Orientalists’ discovery of Indian culture remained very vital to the revival and institutionalisation of Sanskrit, the skewed development of education and institutionalisation of hierarchical language policy. Romila Thapar has rightly argued that the search for or discovery of the Indian past resulted in a number of interpretations of the past. Thus, for example, William Jones7 in the late eighteenth century and Fredrich Max Müller8 (1823-1900) in the nineteenth century had delineated a glorious picture of the ancient past. Unprecedented enthusiasm about discovering Indian past and culture through Europe by the late eighteenth century and early decades of the nineteenth century, has also been characterised as an “Oriental renaissance.”9 Warren Hastings’s ambition to reconcile the British rule


William Jones came to India in the late eighteenth century with an ambitious aim to “know India better than any other European ever knew it.” Already a polyglot linguist and a scholar Persian, which was a rare achievement for his time, Jones made many linguistic discoveries. His forceful presentation of the common origin of Sanskrit and European languages fired the imagination of the European scholars who popularised the notion of common origin of the European and Eastern races and biologised linguistic theory. For the critical analysis of his contribution to linguistics and its repercussion on the linguistic thought in India, refer to O. P. Kejariwal, The Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Discovery of India’s Past 1784-1838. (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1988); Viswanathan; Niranjana; Thomas R. Trautmann, Ɩryans and British India (New Delhi: Yoda Press, 2004) 28-61; Braj Ranjan Mani, Debrahmanising History: Dominance and Resistance in Indian Society (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2005) 191-2. 8 Max Müller was a German philologist and Orientalist, who virtually created the discipline–Comparative Indology. A pioneering and painstaking edition of the ‫ۿ‬igveda and the Sacred Books of the East, a massive 50-volume set of English translations prepared under his direction, earned great reputation for him in India as well as in Europe. He was greatly impressed by Ramkrishna Paramhansa, his contemporary and proponent of VedƗntic philosophy, and authored several essays and books on him and, in turn, influenced the revivalists like B. G. Tilak. For the critical analysis of his contribution to Comparative Philology, refer to Vasudha Dalmiya-Luderitz. “Fredrich Max Müller: Appropriation of the Vedic Past.” Journal of ARTS & IDEAS, 17.18, June 1889, 43-58; Trautmann 2004. 9 Rosane Rochar. “British Orientalism in the Eighteenth Century: The Dialectics of Knowledge and Government.” Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer. Eds. (1993; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, [henceforth, Oxford U P] 1994); Sanjay Seth, Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2007); Raymond Schwab; Teltscher Kate, India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600-1800 (1995; Delhi: Oxford U P, 1997).


Chapter Five

with the Indian institutions paved the way for patronising Oriental learning towards the end of the eighteenth century. Accumulation of information about Indian culture, religions, race, literatures, etc. had become a politically expedient task. Gauri Viswanathan rightly observes that behind Orientalism’s exhaustive enquiries lay interests that were far from scholarly. It has frequently been observed that Orientalist research often furthered the pursuit of power in projects that represented themselves as the pursuit of truth. For Hastings, Orientalist knowledge was a specific aspect of “state power” which could reduce the weight of “subjection” for Indians, produce “the sense and obligation of benevolence” in Englishmen and more generally be “a gain for humanity”.10 Kumkum Sangari argues that the Orientalists, who either held or rose to important positions in the government, were committed to preserving British power.11 Quite aware of the utility and futility of the Orientalist knowledge, Hastings, spelled out his position on Orientalism.12 According to Sangari, the need for intermediary groups and the desire to replace existing structures of patronage resulted in the establishment of Sanskrit.13 Sanskrit, along with Persian and Arabic, was one of the first recipients of state patronage. MadrasƗ in Calcutta was formed by Hastings on local demand to train Muslim men through religious instruction for gaining subordinate position in civil and criminal courts. Duncan’s long stay in India is significant with regard to the development of Orientalism and the early institutions of higher education. He recognised the special position of the brahmins and gave them encouragement.14 His respect and regard for their customs and institutions


Schwarz Henry. “Laissez-Faire Linguistics: Grammar and the Codes of Empire.” Critical Inquiry 23.3 (Spring, 1997): 509-35; Bernard Cohn. “The Command of Language and the Language of Command.” Subaltern Studies IV: Writing on South Asian History and Society. Ranajit Guha. Ed. (Delhi: Oxford U P, 1985). 11 Kumkum Sangari, Politics of the Possible: Essays on Gender, History, Narratives, Colonial English (1999; New Delhi: Tulika, 2001) 107. I draw upon this essay for its material as well as some of its analyses. 12 Sangari 107. 13 Sangari 109. 14 The dissemination of knowledge is in all cultivated societies the worthy occupation of talent and power. Even where the knowledge may not be of generally practical application, its possession may be endowed with specific value, and much that is little essential to the necessities of life, is of high value to intellectual ambition. —Hastings quoted in Sangari 107.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


and his partiality towards the brahmins led people to declare that he was brahminised by his long stay in India.15 The college was to be established, out of the surplus revenue of the Province of Banaras, “for the preservation and cultivation of the laws, literature and Religion of that Nation, at this centre of their faith, and the common resort of their tribes.”16 Duncan also framed rules for the administration of the college. These rules were in conformity with the DharamĞƗstra (theology). He favoured the brahmins and wanted to be popular with them. According to the rules, all the teachers except those of medicine were to be brahmins: 6. The professor of medicine must be a Vaidya and so may the teacher of grammar but as he could not teach PƗ৆ini it would be better that all except the physician should be brahmins. 7. The Brahmin Teachers to have a preference over strangers in succeeding to the headship and the students in succeeding to professorships, if they shall on examinations be found qualified.17

One of the objectives of establishing the Hindu College in a town having numerous private seminaries was “endearing our Government to the Native Hindus, by exceeding in our attention towards them and their systems.”18 However, behind the foundation of the Hindu College there was an imperial motive too. The College aimed at producing native personnel, which would assist the European judges in administering Hindu law.19 While introducing William Carey, who was researching at the College of Fort William, at the annual disputation of the college in 1804, Marquess Wellesley went all in praise for the brahminical learning: Sanskrit Learning, say the Brahmans, is like an extensive forest, abounding with a great variety of a beautiful foliage splendid blossoms and delicious fruits; but surrounded by a strong and thorny fence, which prevents those who are desirous of plucking its fruits, or flowers, from entering in.20 15

Narain 170. Narain 2. 17 Narain 170. 18 H. Sharp. Ed. Selections from Educational Records Part I 1781-1839. (Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing India, 1920) 10. 19 Narain 171. 20 David Kopf, British Orientalism and Bengal Renaissance: The Dynamics of Indian Modernization 1773-1835 (Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1969) 89-90. 16


Chapter Five

The Charter Act of 1913 marked an important stage in the later history of the East India Company in India. The Act had two goals: 1) “the revival and improvement of literature, and the encouragement of the learned natives of India” and 2) “the introduction and promotion of a knowledge of the sciences.”21 Some scholars have rightly noted that the 1813 Act fostered two seemingly different goals at once: the revival of traditional learning as well as the introduction of western science.22 The foundation of the Hindu College and the MadrasƗ in the late eighteenth century in Bengal exemplifies the collaborative mode in which the colonial state chose to operate in the early phase of colonialism. Such collaboration entailed heavy patronage to the traditional institutions of the upper caste Hindu and Muslim élites. Unlike Bengal, which was ruled by the Muslim rulers before it was conquered by the British, the Pune region in Western India was being ruled by the indigenous upper caste. As compared to Gujarat, where brahmins were divided into eighty different local divisions or sub-castes, the brahmins in the Pune-Bombay regions were less fragmented.23 Again in contrast with Bengal, where brahmins shared predominance with kƗyasthas and baidyas, the brahmins in the Pune-Bombay region had solitary pre-eminence.24 Different structures of patronage were operative in these regions. Deeply institutionalised structure of patronage to Sanskrit learning in Pune during the Peshwa régime entailed a stringent policy of conciliation through patronage during the early period of colonial rule.

Sanskrit College: Continuity in Change During the Peshwa régime, the fate of a large number of brahmins rested largely on the patronage granted to them by the Peshwas. Unprecedented patronage to cultural and political élite and also brahminical learning during the Peshwa rule made it more conservative. Thousands of rupees used to be distributed among the brahmins in the

21 Lynn Zastoupil and Martin Moir, The Great Indian Education Debate: Documents Relating to the Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy, 1781-1843 (Surrey: Curzon, 1999) 90. (Emphasis added.) 22 Zastoupil et al. 7. 23 Anil Seal, The Emergence of Indian Nationalism: Competition and Collaboaration in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 1968) 78. 24 Seal 75.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


month of ĝrƗva۬a.25 The Peshwa régime, which was one of the most tyrannical régimes in India, was not based on any kind of wider legitimacy. The régime could gain legitimacy only by the brahmins themselves. The Peshwas had to win legitimacy by bestowing lavishly a huge amount of donation on the brahmins. When Mountstuart Elphinstone became Commissioner of the Deccan, the peculiar structure of power and patronage, existing there for a long time, posed many difficulties to him. However, Elphinstone’s long stay in the Deccan, his intimate knowledge of the social life under the Peshwa régime and his firm belief in “morality rather than expediency as the basis of politics”26 helped him tremendously in dealing with the new problems. Though Elphinstone was influenced by the French Republicans in his early life, he remained all his life a Whig of the old school, who saw statesmanship of the highest quality in the politics of moderation rather than in hasty reforms.27 He was not a blind opponent of change. He believed that innovation and reform were essential parts of social process. However, his progressivism regarding the social structure did not presuppose any break with tradition.28 According to him, reform should not presuppose a total upheaval in the social structure. Instead, reform should reconcile and synthesise the conflicting principles and should have a soothing effect on the society. After the defeat of Bajirao II in 1818, Elphinstone had decided to retain the earlier structure of the revenue administration. His policy of constrained and cautious reform was best evident in the continued prevalence of the institutionalised practice of dakshina even after the fall of the Peshwa régime. He was quick to realise the significance of dakshina as a means of satisfying the brahmins, who were affected most by the collapse of Peshwa régime. He had no illusions about the utility of the knowledge that the brahmins had possessed. He took the decision of continuing dakshina out of political exigency rather than any 25

ĝrƗvana is the fifth month of lunar calendar. For the details of the practice of dakshina, refer to PeĞwe DaptarƗtun Niwa‫ڲ‬lele KƗgad Vols.- 42 (1942) and 43 (1943) (Mumbai : Government Central Press); Sudha Desai, Social Life in Maharashtra under the Peshwas (Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1980) 90-94; Ravindra Kumar, Western India in the Nineteenth Century: A Study in the Social History of Maharashtra . (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968); A. R. Kulkani. “The Shastri Tradition of Pune in the Nineteenth Century” Maharashtra: Society and Culture, A. R. Kulkani (New Delhi: Books and Books, 2000). 26 Kumar 44. 27 Kumar 45. 28 Kumar 47.


Chapter Five

sentimental concerns. Many of these existing donations were almost indiscriminate and were regulated more by caprice and interest than by any principle.29 He desisted from abolishing the practice of dakshina, even though the institution held no “moral” significance for the political system which was introduced in the “Poona-territories under the aegis of the British.”30 One of the chief defects of Elphinstone’s policy on education was the limited scope it had for the universalisation of primary education. W. Meston’s view that “Elphinstone was keenly interested in higher education, his thought constantly turned to the education of the Great masses of the people”31 should be accepted very cautiously. In fact, Elphinstone had made it quite clear that he intended to provide elementary education principally to the sons of the better classes and that “a mixture of ranks” would prevent high-caste Hindus from sending their children to school. He detested the missionary intervention and refused to seek their help for they found the lowest castes their best pupils and he feared that, if the Government were to encourage men “of that description”, schools would be boycotted by upper and middle castes-classes, whom he wished to conciliate.32 Occasionally, Elphinstone mentioned the necessity of educating the peasantry. However, it was not more than paying lip service. He seemed to believe that education for the peasants was not endowed with high function and the colonial state disowned the responsibility of financing the village schools as the expenses for this was to be met from the Gram Kharch (village expenses).33 The cultural and intellectual hegemony which the citpƗvan brahmins exercised by virtue of their caste under the Peshwa rule had no parallel in the rest of India. This hegemony was expressed in the institution of dakshina. Dakshina represented, according to Ravindra Kumar, an informal alliance between the CitpƗvans and the state.34 The recipients of


Maharashtra State Archives [henceforth, MSA], Political Department Diary, 482. 30 Kumar 49. 31 Hampton 172. 32 Hampton H. V., Biographical Studies in Modern Indian Education. (Madras: Oxford U P, 1947) 172. 33 Mountstuart Elphinstone. Selections from the Minutes and Other Official Writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone. George W. Forrest. Ed. (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1884) 83. 34 Kumar, 39.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


dakshina looked at it as an important institution which they could not afford to lose. The brahmins of MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ also looked at dakshina as an instrument sustaining a moral order in society. Besides distributing dakshina among the brahmins, the Peshwas had to practise a few more conciliatory measures like supporting the Sanskrit pƗ‫ܒ‬hĞƗlƗs, which were open exclusively to the upper castes. Sudha V. Desai has elaborated upon the educational system prevailing during the Peshwa régime: Higher education, on the other hand, was subject to limitations in scope as well as extent. As noticed earlier, it was mainly confined to the study of Sanskrit and religious literature. The highest purpose served by this kind of higher learning was that of conservation of old literary traditions and scriptures. Secondly, it was open only to the Brahmins; non-Brahmins were totally excluded from the field.35

In his Minute of 1839, Lord Auckland had asked the Bombay Government for a report of the mofussil vernacular schools. At the same time, he had particularly requested the Government to consider the measures contemplated by him “for raising and adapting to native wants the instruction conveyed in the most advanced of our English Colleges.”36 Captain Candy had recognised the growing demand for English made by the natives. He submitted an interesting report, in which he dealt with the state of the Government Marathi schools under his superintendence and the question relating to promoting English education by Government. He wrote: With respect to….The Expediency of holding out inducements to the best Scholars of the Vernacular Schools to study English, and of furnishing them with the means of study by the Establishment of English Schools, I beg to say that I think the measure exceedingly desirable. The National Education of India cannot be said to be on a suitable basis till there is a Vernacular School in every Village and an English School in every Zillah. After these shall have been in operation a few years I doubt not there will be added to them a College for every province....37

35 Desai 192-3; For more analysis on pre-colonial education system, refer to Aparna Basu, Essays in the History of Indian Education (1981; New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 1982). 36 Boman-Behram 551. 37 MSA, GD, 13/530, 1840, 198.


Chapter Five

This shows that the early phase of colonial rule in Western India was marked by hierarchisation of language policy. Barring ideological differences, various administrators promoted localisation and trivialisation of vernacular education and nationalisation of English education. Predominance of the brahminical caste groups in the precolonial Pune region and their continued prevalence in the colonial era through new patterns of negotiation with the colonial rulers entailed differentiated patterns of patronage.

Dakshina: Institutionalisation of Discrimination Pune flourished as a seat of brahminical education during the Peshwa régime. The Peshwas had supported pƗ‫ܒ‬hĞƗlƗs, which were run exclusively for the high caste children, and they imparted religious education to the students. There were 164 pƗ‫ܒ‬hĞƗlƗs in Pune which imparted instruction in Sanskrit.38 The brahmins were considered to be the most eligible persons, in some cases the only eligible persons, to receive donations. The occasions on which the brahmins were to be given charities were numerous and varied. The types of donation which were offered to the brahmins include tuۜƗdƗn,39 bhumidƗn40, etc. Dakshina means a present or a gift to the brahmins. It was through dakshina that the Peshwas extended support to the brahmins in preserving and propagating the values of brahminism. The most notable instance of this lavish distribution of charity was that of shrƗvanmƗsa. Senapati Khanderao Dabhade instituted it in the first instance. When resources were curtailed on the death of Senapati Dabhade, the charity was taken over by the state into its own hands. Nana Phadnis started distributing 60,000 rupees as dakshina annually. The highest amount distributed as dakshina, which was 18,00,000 rupees, was recorded in 1758.41 The distribution of dakshina increased during the régime of Bajirao II not because there was more learning being pursued by the brahmins but he required more legitimacy to his rule from the brahmins as he was losing it 38

A. M. Sutar. Christianity in Western Maharashtra in the Nineteenth Century. Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur. 1980. 300. 39 TuۜƗdƗn refers to weighing one person against various articles such as gold, silver, coconuts, etc., and distrusting them to brahmins. 40 BhumidƗn refers to gift of land to brahmins which was regarded as a highly meritorious act. 41 Veena Naregal, Language Politics, Elites and the Public Sphere: Western India under Colonialism (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2001) 24.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


in the wake of many tyrannical practices. Bajirao II began to distribute the largesse to the brahmins in an indiscriminate manner.42 He distributed four lakhs rupees annually. The proficient brahmins were examined at Shaniwar Wada, and those who did not submit themselves to examination were given dakshina in an enclosure called Ramana at the foot of the Parvati Hill.43 The Peshwa régime was not obviously enjoying common consent. Only the brahmins considered it legitimate. Each Peshwa had to win this legitimacy by bestowing huge amounts of donation on the brahmins.44 As has already been argued in chapter 2, the Orientalist phase had started much before the formal establishment of the colonial rule in India. Warren Hastings established a MadrasƗ for the Muslims in Calcutta and a Sanskrit College for the Hindus in Banaras. Though one of the avowed objectives of these colleges was the cultivation of the classical languages, they were also aimed at conciliating the Muslim élites in Bengal, who had ruled Bengal for a fairly long time, and the upper caste Hindus in Banaras, whose prerogatives had remained unchallenged even during the medieval rule. It was mentioned repeatedly in defence of these colleges that the objective of their establishment was to win the loyalty of the Muslim maulavis and Hindu pun‫ڲ‬its.45 This defence was a case of political expediency. The colonial rulers could not afford any kind of threat to the “precarious” balance of power. Indeed, the rebellion in Vellore in 1806 was blamed by conservative Orientalists as undue interference with Indian culture in the “pamphlet war”.46 Despite mounting Anglicist pressure for change at home, the directors of the Company kept political expediency in mind when they agreed with the Orientalists. In a policy letter of 3 June 1814, they said:

42 Dhananjay Keer writes that during the reign of Bajirao II, the practice [of dakshina] degenerated into indiscriminate donations conforming to the notion that a gift to a brahmin was an act of merit or piety. The use of the word degenerate suggests that the practice of dakshina in the pre-Bajirao II period was worth admiring! 43 Dhananjay Keer, Mahatma Jotirao Phooley: Father of Indian Social Revolution (1964; Mumbai: Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd., 1997) 33-4. 44 For the details of the practice of dakshina, refer to Kulkarni 90-4; Kumar; Peshwe DaptarƗtun Niwa‫ڲ‬lele KƗgad. 45 Tariq Rahman, Language and Politics in Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford U P, 1996) 26-7. 46 Rahman 27.


Chapter Five We have kept in view the peculiar circumstances of our political relation with India which, having necessarily transferred all power and pre-eminence from native to European agency, have rendered it incumbent upon us, from motives of policy as well as from a principle of justice, to consult the feelings, and even to yield to the prejudices, of the natives.47

Elphinstone could foresee the danger in encouraging the missionaries. So even in Western India, he discouraged the missionaries. The missionaries were to be discouraged also because they were working among the lower castes and similar sections of the society. As part of the conciliatory measures, he had planned to establish two colleges at Nasik and Wai, which were the traditional seats of brahminical learning. However, he had to abandon this idea in order to utilise the resources more systematically for the distribution of dakshina. He was doubtful about the possibility of a widespread demand for English in the country at large. He was the first officer to introduce Western education in Bombay Presidency. He had little hope of diffusing knowledge of the English language and European literature.48 Realising the volatile basis on which the British Empire had rested, he gave less importance to English and tried his best to strengthen the landed aristocracy and brahminical castes.49 Foundation of the Sanskrit College (PƗ‫ܒ‬hĞƗlƗ) was a logical outcome of the policies that Elphinstone had been implementing. The College was established shortly after his accession to governorship. The idea and plan of the College was submitted to the government by Mr. William Chaplin, the Commissioner of the Deccan. The immediate political motive behind the College founded was more political than educational – namely to conciliate the learned brahmins who had suffered severely by the change of government on the overthrow of the Peshwa by the British in 1818.50 The foundation of the Sanskrit College was not merely an Orientalist design. His dual function was, first, to encourage and improve the useful part of Hindoo learning and, second, to introduce as far as possible the means of communicating European knowledge to the new subjects.51 47

Rahman 27. McCully 104. 49 McCully 104. 50 Boman-Behram 498-9. 51 It having been the intention of the Hon’ble the late Commissioner to establish a College for the encouragement and improvement of the useful parts of Hindoo learning and also to introduce as far as possible the means of communications to our new subjects such branches of European knowledge as they may be able and willing to receive.... 48

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


The idea of the College originated out of the combined interests of the indigenous élites and the colonial rulers. In his plan, Chaplin said: direct the attention of the College principally such parts of their own Shasters as are not only most useful in themselves but will best prepare their minds for the gradual reception of more valuable instruction at a future time. When we have once secured their confidence, but not only then will be the time to attempt the cautious and judicious introduction of those improvements in the education of those Hindoo subjects by which alone joined with good Government, we can hope to ameliorate their moral condition.52

It was also argued that the College would contribute very much to preserve the attachment to the state of the learned brahmins, a class of people who had suffered most “severely by the change of Government”, to the colonial state.53 A fear was always expressed that the educated youth from the Sanskrit college might develop disaffection to the government. However, every care was taken to see that pacify this group make to congenial to the colonial rule. In one of the reports it was written: “They [the students of the Sanskrit College] are, perhaps, not as much AntiBritish as others BrƗhmans are.”54 In order to make the College popular among “the Hindoo community”, the appointment of teachers in all the branches of learning was proposed. The initiative towards the foundation of the College was taken despite the founders’ awareness that many of the branches of learning were “worse than useless”. It was also hoped that the establishment of the College would attract the “Hindoo subjects” to the colonial empire and would facilitate the amelioration of their moral conditions. With a view to preserving the ancient literature of the Hindoos, the British Government Independent of its general benefit to the country, this measure...I am satisfied, be received with the utmost gratitude and satisfaction at Poona, and would contribute very much to preserve the attachment of the learned Brahmins, a class of people who have suffered most severely by the change of Government and whose influence has a very considerable effect over the feelings and conduct of the people at large. —MSA, GD, Vol.-9/10, 1821-22, 1. 52 Kenneth Ballhatchet, Social Policy and Social Change in Western India 18171830 (1957; London: Oxford U P, 1961) 252. Also see G. T. Bapat, ViĞrƗmbƗgvƗdyacƗ ItihƗs (Pune: N. V. Sardeshpande, 1950) 12. 53 MSA, GD, Vol. 9/10, 1821-22, 1. 54 J. W. “On the Use of Sankrit Language and Literature in Native Education.” Oriental Christian Spectator Vol. 20,(Nov. and Dec. 1849) 410.


Chapter Five

had resolved on establishing a Hindu College in Pune on the brahminical principles.55 This certainly had a favourable result for the British.

Defence of the Sanskrit College and Claims over Dakshina The officials of the East India Company, who were manipulating the affairs by being in their home-country, i.e., England, could not recognise precisely the political expediency of the establishment of the educational institution like Sanskrit College. The flawed understanding of the London-based officials was perhaps because of the lack of the first-hand experience with the colony. The authorities in England, as has been mentioned in chapter 3, did not have primary and first-hand experience of the situation in the colony. Their understanding of the social structure of the Indian society and the appropriate measures of conciliation required was very weak and sometimes erroneous. Therefore, many England-based authorities were critical about the educational institutions which were opened to conciliate the upper castes / classes in the Hindu and the Muslim societies. They deemed such attempts, initiated by the administrators of the East India Company in India, as waste of resources. The Bombay government had suspended the plan of Bombay College pending a reference home and had gone forward with the establishment of Poona Hindu College (Sanskrit College) on the ground that the Supreme Government had sanctioned expenditure of 2 lakhs of rupees a year “for 55

It is peculiarly the object of Government that whatever is taught and learnt in this College shall be fully understood and not merely repeated by rote without any knowledge of its meaning. To ensure this object no scholar will be admitted who has not already made some progress in the study of the Sanskrit language so as to enable to commence the easier parts of some of the Shastras as the Vyakaran and Alunkar. The study of the Veds will be provided for and duly encouraged but being held secondary to that of the shastras, no scholar will be permitted to devote his exclusive attention to the Veds only. Everyone who may choose to study any of the Veds must also study some of the Shasters which latter will be held his primary qualifications. Shastrics will be appointed to teach the following shastras:Vyakaran (Grammar) Alunkar (Belles Letters) Nyaya (Logic, Law) Dharma Shaster (Religion, Justice) Jyotish (Mathematics and Astronomy) Vedanta (Philisophy-Divinity) Vydyic (Medicine)

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


the support of native literature in the Deccan” and on the assumption that “the faith of the Government” seemed to have been pledged to the learned classes of our own subjects in the Deccan”.56 Elphinstone’s proposal, though appreciated by William Chaplin, the Commissioner of Deccan, was unwelcomed by the Court of Directors of this kind and rebuked the founders of the College in their Dispatch dated 11 June 1823. They rebuked Elphinstone and Chaplin for not waiting until their permission. The Dispatch stated: Thus far you have left to us the power of determining what it is or is not expedient to perform. In regard to the other important part of the subject you have acted in a different manner and have proceeded to execute the measure of establishing a College for the Hindoo learning at Poona without 57 waiting for the communication of our sentiments.”

The authorities in England, however, rebuked the Bombay Government and expressed their resentment over the foundation of Sanskrit College in Pune and not pursuing the utilitarian policy. The utilitarians representing the East India Company in England were equally critical about the colleges which were started in Banaras (Banaras Hindu College) and Calcutta (Calcutta MadrasƗ). They quoted their dispatch to the Supreme Government in which they criticised the policy of pursuing Oriental learning. They condemned the plans of such colleges as “originally and fundamentally erroneous”. In this dispatch, they scorned the traditional Oriental learning: With respect to the sciences, it is worse than a waste of time to employ persons either to teach or learn them, in the state in which they are found in the Oriental books. As far as any historical documents may be found in the Oriental languages, what is desirable is that they should be translated, and this, it is evident, will be best accomplished by Europeans who have acquired the requisite knowledge. Beyond these branches, what remains in Oriental literature is poetry, but it has never been thought necessary to 58 establish Colleges for cultivation of poetry....

The Court of Directors cited the examples of the colleges at Calcutta and Banaras and pointed out that the establishment of these colleges produced no “favourable effect” or “beneficial impression”. They argued that their aim should not have been “to teach Hindoo learning or Mahomedan 56

Parulekar Part - I 193. Paddayya 54. 58 Ballahatchet 256. 57


Chapter Five

learning but useful learning”. What was important for them was not the language of instruction but its content. With regard to the college in Pune, the Governor-in-Council defended his position: In the case of the College at Poona the fact can scarcely be contested. One of the principal objects of the Paishwa’s Government was the maintenance of the Brahmins. It is known to your Honorable Court that he annually distributed five lacs of Rupees among that order, under the name of the Dukshna, but it must be observed that the Dukshna formed but a small portion of his largesses to Brahmins; and the number of persons devoted to Hindoo learning, and religion who were supported by him exceeded what would readily be supposed.59

Elphinstone further argued that the college would be especially useful in view of the enemies of the British who were inculcating the opinion that the British were changing the religion and manners of the Hindus. In self-defence, he also argued that the whole expense of the college had been saved out of dakshina, and not one rupee had been expended for the encouragement of learning that was not already required to prevent popular discontent. The Court applied the same criticism to the Sanskrit College in Pune and its tone was harsher as the Bombay Government had not only established the College but also laid down its syllabus - “wherein we see nothing to which we can attach almost any expectation of utility”. The Court of Directors objected to both the content of education provided at the Sanskrit College and also to its purpose or lack of purpose. Elphinstone himself was quite aware of the need of superintendence in the College. In 1823, he had felt that “the want of superintendence” was the greatest difficulty which he had to face – greater even than the want of money.60 However, the College was not without a purpose. As discussed in Chapter 2, the educational policy in the early nineteenth century was a logical derivative of an astute understanding of the need of conciliatory measures adopted by the pre-British state towards the brahmins. With the growing importance of utilitarians among the policy makers, newer challenges were posed before the Sanskrit College. J. H. Baber, the Principal Collector of Poona, found that the College had moved far away from the ideals set by Elphinstone and had become “a refuge for idlers and drones.” 59

R. V. Parulekar. Ed. Selections from Educational Records Part-I. (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, u. d.) 107-8. 60 Ballhatschet 264.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


However, Robert Grant, the Governor of Bombay, refused to take a stiff action such as abolition of the Sanskrit College as he thought that, though the institution “preserves and cherishes the old brahminical interest, which is anti-British in all its tendencies”, abolishing the College would be highly offensive to the brahmin community.61 He thought that an immediate abolition would be a breach of faith on the part of the Government, as regards to the present students and therefore a measure inexpedient to be adopted.62 As political considerations ruled out the idea of the abolition of the College, he thought that the only solution open to the government was to modify the courses offered in the College.63 Baber had already warned that the distribution of dakshina hardly promoted any of the objectives envisaged by Elphinstone. Finally, the arbitrary practices about dakshina were dismissed and rules for admission to dakshina were made more rigorous than before.64 Such a move by the British was bound to be responded to by the brahmins aggressively. Ravindra Kumar rightly argues that the brahmins did so because dakshina not only provided the means of subsistence to impecunious but scholarly brahmins but also represented the predominance of brahminical values over the community, and the acquiescence by the state in this predominance.65 The brahmins considered this decision a challenge to their hegemonic position and submitted a petition signed by 800 “shastris, Pandits and Puraniks”. One of the rules stated that no “new candidate to be hereafter admitted” to dakshina. The petitioners pointed out the pernicious consequences that were to emanate from the discontinuation of dakshina. The petitioners argued that the decision was a source of much grief to both old and young brahmins and would tend to the diminution of that learning which was essential to mercantile concerns.66 The practice of dakshina, the petition pointed out, had been the means of making the brahmins apply themselves industriously to the cultivation of sciences. They further argued that this practice, though the amount of dakshina was small for the government, had benefited “a great multitude of people” and also protected the interest of the rulers as the beneficiary brahmins offered “prayers for the welfare and prospering of the Kingdom.” The petitioners further pointed out that the safety of the government lay in refraining from


Kumar 266. MSA, GD, Vol. - 17/349, 1836, 8. 63 Kumar 266. 64 Kumar 268. 65 Kumar 268. 66 MSA, GD, Vol. – 15/385, 1837, 139-50. 62


Chapter Five

the decision of discontinuation as it would cause anarchy and political disintegration: We therefore entreat that the Sircar will take the whole of these circumstances into serious conisiderations, and make such arrangements as to cause all such balances as will have remained in hands after the distribution to the ensuing Dakshina on account of the absent Brahmins to be distributed to all new candidates who may be admitted after passing the usual examination. This will be the means of disseminating the learning and the people moreover be happy and it will greatly tend to honour of the Government but should be otherwise both science and Religion will be lost and ruined and people will not act uprightly in their dealings and every one will suffer extremely….By the present arrangement both the Brahmins and the Sircar will not be exposed to much trouble.67

However, the state did not concede to the pressure of the brahmins and pointed out that “the whole of that allowance should continue to be made available to the general purpose of promoting education and rewarding those who “distinguish themselves on the acquisition of science” and “the preservation of useful knowledge.”68 As the government refused to retreat from its decision, the dissidence among the brahmins in Pune “persisted with unabated vigour” and even spread among their caste-men of “Waee, Sattara, Pundurpoor, Kurad, Maholee, Carnatie, Konka৆ and Khandesh.” This petition was submitted a year after the petition of the Pune-based brahmins and it also exhibits well-articulated pragmatism. This long document begins with a detailed history and advantages of dakshina. The petitioners complained against the decision of the establishment of the “Hindoo College” and diversion of some amount of funds reserved for dakshina to the maintenance of the College. After the establishment of the Hindu College, the provision for the dakshina was reduced to 30,000 rupees only. Thereafter, a committee of the pun‫ڲ‬its was established to deal with the matter pertaining to the distribution amount. However, the functionaries of the committee disputed among themselves continuously. Thereupon, a committee of the European officers was established with a view to restore “peace and harmony.” The pun‫ڲ‬its complained against the recommendation of the committee not to admit any new candidates whereupon the whole of the brahmins jointly petitioned the committee of management against this clause. Then the committee obtained an order from the Governor in Council “that the surplus funds which shall remain after the distribution of 67 68

MSA, GD, Vol. – 15/385, 1837, 139-43. MSA, GD, Vol. – 15/385, 1837, 151.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


the dakshina to the old incumbents should be distributed among the new candidates.”69 The state refused to acquiesce in the demands of the conservative brahmins because there was already a class in the offing which was asking for and being provided with English education in Pune. The state was quite awake to the cleavage in the brahmin caste. As a section of the brahmins was aware of the fact that their arrival in the portal of the colonial employment was possible only through English education, the colonial state was also equally conscious of the fact that the mere Orientalist language policy could not have ensured the creation of personnel having acumen required for colonial bureaucracy. By the mid-nineteenth century, the state had started employing the native English educated.70 By 1850, a new class of English educated had arisen in Pune and this class claimed an equally legitimate right on dakhsina fund. They argued that Sanskrit students could no longer “claim a monopoly to official patronage.” In a petition submitted to the government, the students of English School presented their rationale for dakshina. They distanced themselves from the Sanskrit-educated brahmins without breaking the lineage of their “common Brahminical background”. This petition was submitted at the time when the Agents of Sirdars in Deccan were about to allot life and sinecure premiums from the 3,000 rupees of the dakshina fund lately sanctioned by the government to the students of the Sanskrit and that each premium was to be 25 rupees so that the whole of sinecure life grants might be expended. The petitioners, in order to legitimise their claim, reminded the government that when rules of dakshina were changed in 1837 with a view to making it available to the more useful branch of knowledge, there were “few or no English students to compete” with the traditional Sanskrit-educated brahmins. These circumstances, however, changed and now there were many brahmins who would write vernacular books on the most useful subjects such as the natives most urgently wanted. The petitioners requested the government to allot some of the premiums from the dakshina fund. They insisted that the Sanskrit students, who were taught at the public expense, should have the same condition of 69 70

MSA, GD, 9/526, 1840, 132. Many early English educated natives like Bal Shastri Jambhekar, Dadoba Pandurang, Dadabhai Nauroji were employed in the Education Department. One of the three Native Inspectors of the district school was Mahadeo Govind Shastri. —Copy of Despatch 1854 28.


Chapter Five

promoting useful learning and moral and liberal ideas as they would be having. They further argued that the fund reserved for dakshina should not be used for promoting idleness, pride and the most baneful prejudices.”71 In order to distance themselves from the traditional brahmins, the English-educated brahmins had to come to terms with the colonial notion of education. As the controversy over dakshina reached climax around 1850, Major Candy, who was working as the Superintendent of the Sanskrit College and whose opinion on the issue was sought by the government, wrote several minutes, which exhibit his shrewd understanding of the new structure of Sanskrit and English: In 1848, Candy had reported to the government that though cultivation and preservation of Sanskrit was the only good to be achieved through Sanskrit College, this was a good not to be esteemed lightly.72

Unlike Chaplin, who had seen the College as merely a political expediency and stamped the Sanskrit knowledge as “worse than useless”, Candy realised the importance of Sanskrit in the improvement of the vernaculars. He wrote that Latin was not more useful in the improvement of English than Sanskrit might be made in improving Marathi. In pursuing his efforts to increase the efficiency of the College, Candy had already suggested the introduction of the study of the vernacular, the establishment of the lithographic press department and the introduction of the study of English combined with the study of Sanskrit and Marathi. Candy’s policy caused linguistic shift in the College, turning it into a modern institution having a Sanskrit, a vernacular, an English-vernacular department, a lithographic press and a depository department. Candy then submitted several suggestions for increasing the efficiency of the College and making it extensively useful as a seminary for translators and an institution for training masters for the vernacular schools. The proposed changes unfold a plan of modernising the College and making it more useful. His suggestions included: ….1st, the appointment of a European gentleman to the College, who should study the vernacular and Sanskrit languages to qualify himself for eventually becoming Superintendent and we should in the meanwhile discharge the duty of Professor of English literature and science; and 2nd, the appointment in the English department of a Professor of the vernacular, 71

MSA, GD, Vol. - 26, 1850, 17. Report of the Board of Education for the Year 1849 Vol.-VIII [henceforth, RBE]. (Bombay: Bombay Education Society’s Press, 1851) 36.


Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


who should be able to give to the students a critical knowledge of their own language in connexion with the study of Sanskrit and English; 3rdly, the establishment of two or three translation scholarships or exhibitions, the holders of which should be required to produce periodically a translation or an original composition, 4thly the formation of a schoolmaster class.73

However, this shift in the language policy with regard to Sanskrit College was not to cause any harm to Sanskrit. Candy advised the government to assure the petitioners that the government entertained no views injurious to the College and their “desirability of preserving and encouraging the study of Sanskrit” would be acknowledged and the Sanskrit Department of the College be kept up efficient.74 The new English-educated élites’ avowed progressivism and their readiness to become bearers of “useful” skills to promote “general enlightenment” was to transcend the caste boundary. They were also to be a minuscule group which would work as a mediating class and prove its worth by disseminating new knowledge and true science “among all classes of the Hindoo nation”. Though Sanskrit College was thrown open to the non-brahmin students in 1850, every care was taken to ensure the enrolment of the upper-caste students. Before it was opened to the non-brahmin students, Major Candy had delivered a speech to the “Nobility and Gentry of Maharashtra ”. He delivered this speech with a view to informing the sons of the noble families of the liberal policies of the government which could potentially benefit the lower castes and thereby challenge the authority of the upper castes. The speech shows acute realisation on the part of the colonial rulers of the importance of this group in running the state machinery.75


RBE for the Year 1849 36-7. MSA, GD, Vol.-26, 1850, 225. 75 Similar fear was expressed in England in the early nineteenth century when sections of the working class started to master science and technology. Baden Powel, Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford, sounded the warning thus: Scientific knowledge is rapidly spreading among all classes EXCEPT THE HIGHER and the consequences must be, that that class will not long remain THE HIGHER. If its members would ocntinue to retain their superiority, they must preserve a real pre-eminence in knowledge, and must make advances at least in proportion to the classes who have hitherto been below them. —Brian Simon, Studies in the History of Education 1780-1870 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1960) 92. 74


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Candy touched a raw nerve by referring to their enemies and also ensured them that he would side with them in this conflict: “But you have enemies which seek to rob you of your high station, your wealth and dignity. I need not specify who these enemies are, but I beg of you to be on your guard against them.”76

Candy informed them that the government had made provision of the Sanskrit College for instructing the children of, particularly, the nobility and gentry in the English, vernacular and Sanskrit languages and several had already joined the classes. By citing the example of the nobility of the European ancient times, who slighted study and thought only of the pursuit of arms and of sensual pleasure and then considered it reproach to be without education, Candy advised them to take benefit of the facilities that the state was ready to shower on them. He also warned them against the rise of the lower castes: Surely I need not labour to show that learning which enriches and ennobles even the poor and mean must be beneficial to you! I will illustrate the benefit of learning by the case of a peon’s son whom his father sent to school. He first attended a vernacular school, where he became proficient in reading, writing and accounts; he then went to the English school and studied for some years. The learning which he thus acquired procured him a situation in the service of Government….Government has notified its intention of employing in the public service those who qualify themselves for it by a good education; so that qualified persons of whatever cast[e] they be will get situations. How will it grieve you to see persons of low origin provided for, while your children remain as they are.77

Candy’s speech clearly reveals that the state policy of liberalism towards the lower castes was to be only a symbolic gesture. The state did not intend to extend this liberalism to the extent of breaking the caste structure. The loss of the upper castes as the indigenous allies of the raj and the consequent threat that the shift in education policy could potentially cause had to be mended by encouraging the “nobility and gentry” to monopolise English education. This elucidates that the early educational institutions had become the sites wherein the class interests of the élites of India were to be generated, promoted and safeguarded. 76

Director of Education Archives, Pune, [henceforth, DEAP], Poona Sanskrit College, Vol.-17, 1847-48 no pag. 77 DEAP, Poona Sanskrit College, Vol.-17, 1847-48 n. pag.

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George Thompson, who worked as agent of The Landlords’ Society of Bengal in the British Indian Society in London, had delivered a similar speech in Hindu College in Calcutta, on “the art of agitation” and called for a new political association. Care was also taken through fee hike to restrain the flow of the undesirable students to the College. W. Wordsworth, the Principal of the College, openly acknowledged this in the Report of the College for the year 1866-67: At the beginning of the present year the fee for attendance at the College was raised from two to five rupees. The effect of this has not been to check admissions which have been more numerous this year than last. There were 29 admissions in January 1866 of whom 22 are now paying students and 7 free students or scholars.78

English education in India followed the uneven trajectory of the formation of an urban upper-caste middle class and the reconstitution and rise of an élite. As Asok Sen’s comment indicates, the introduction of English was primarily for the benefit and consolidation of British power but it also afforded distinct opportunities for certain sections of Indian population.79 The élitist policy ultimately resulted in the rise of a new Englisheducated intelligentsia having a very narrow caste base in Western India. In the Sanskrit College, which later became Deccan College, more than 97 per cent of the students were brahmins, whereas this caste constituted only 4 per cent of the total population of the region.80

The Sanskrit College: Modernisation of Tradition The British Orientalists’ rediscovery of Indian culture was the ideological counterpart of Warren Hastings’s project of rule after 1772. Hastings’s ambition to reconcile British rule with Indian institutions was partly modelled on the Roman empire.81 Romila Thapar points out that the ancient Indian past was virtually perceived as “a lost-wing” of early


DEAP, Poona College Report 1866-67. Vol. - XII, 426. Modhumita Roy. “The Englishing of India: Class Formation and Social Privilege.” Social Scientist 21:5-6 (1993) 37. 80 Kumar 283. 81 Sangari 105. 79


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European culture, as for instance, in William Jones’s discovery of the affinity between Sanskrit and Greek and Latin.82 The Orientalist field, at least initially, could only be established with local collaboration. Accumulation of the knowledge about India was a politically and ideologically motivated programme aimed at the subjugation of the colony. The foundation of the religious seminaries and colleges towards the end of the eighteenth century in Banaras and Calcutta and early nineteenth century in Western India was aimed at structuring the modalities through which the colonial state could accumulate knowledge about the Orient83, translate the religious texts84, reduce the weight of “subjection” for Indians85 and conciliate a class.86 These institutions provided an ad-hoc field which was further enlarged, shaped and systematised to yoke them to the imperial interests. Redefinition of tradition by the Orientalists also presupposed the creation of an altered field of new social formation, new alignments and new structures of patronage. The foundation of new institutes created such sites where these new alignments could materialise. Sangari argues that the power of Orientalism lay in the methodological field itself, which, among other things, offered a relationship with the “West”. These institutes became potentially hegemonic only when they became a mode of self-identification for members of the Indian middle class.87 Sangari rightly argues that the need for intermediary groups and the desire to slide into or replace existing structures of patronage resulted in Sanskrit, along with Persian and Arabic, becoming one of the first recipients of state patronage. Hastings’s Calcutta MadrasƗ was formed on local demand to train Muslim men through religious instruction for subordinate position in the courts. Jonathan Duncan had argued in 1791 on the same line for Hindu College.


Thapar quoted in Sangari 428. For more details, refer to C. A. Bayle, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870 (New Delhi: Foundation Books, 1999). 84 Tejaswini Niranjana, Siting Translation (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1995); Simon Sherry and Paul St-Pierre, Changing the Terms: Translating in the Postcolonial Era (Hyderabad: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2000); Maya Narkar. “A Linguistic Study of the Nineteenth Century Marathi Translations.” Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur. 1990. 85 Sangari 107. 86 Boman-Behram 498-9. 87 Sangari 108. 83

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The recurring official emphasis on patronage was replete with Orientalist assumptions – the decline of science and literature caused by the absence of aristocratic patronage partly explained the present condition of India.88 Such a flawed but politically correct understanding of the Orientalists authored the policy whereby Sanskrit was to be revived, reinvigorated, cultivated, preserved and reintroduced through the curricula. The Orientalists lamented over the potential threat to and loss of rich treasure of Sanskrit because of the apathy the colonial state was showing. Lord Minto lamented that Britain (“distinguished for its love and successful cultivation of letters”) had failed “to extend its fostering care to the literature of the Hindus, and to aid its opening to the learned in Europe the repositories of that literature.”89 When the parliament accepted in principle government responsibility for Indian education in 1813, The Charter Act set aside an annual sum for “the revival and improvement of literature and the encouragement of the learned natives of India.”90 Minto, in his Minute in 1811, contemplated “much higher” objects for observing the decay of science and literature among the natives, and attributed the loss of it to the British rule, and proposed that the government should “interpose with a fostering hand to aid in the revival of letters.”91 As one of the avowed objectives of the Sanskrit College was to establish a channel through which the colonial state could mediate, it became imperative to do away with some of the traditional methods of learning which were prevalent in the pre-colonial brahminical education system. As creation of rational individual was never an objective of the brahminical education system, rote-learning, which is devoid of comprehension, was the method followed.92 Formation of a class of intelligentsia, which was to be capable of carrying the modern knowledge and function as mediators between the colonial state and the colonised state, could not have been possible, had the traditional method of teaching been continued. The idea of Sanskrit College, right since its inception, was infested European knowledge was not its main motif. It was not so easy to introduce European knowledge in the syllabus in Sanskrit College. When 88

Sangari 109. Sangari 110. 90 Sangari 110 (Emphasis added.). 91 DEAP, “RBE for the Year 1845.” Board of Education 1846 Vol. – I, 351; Sangari 110. 92 For further analysis, refer to Dilip Chavan, Dr. Aۨbe‫ڲ‬kar Ɩ۬i BhƗrtƯya ĝik‫܈‬a۬ƗtƯl JƗtisanghar‫( ܈‬Yeole: Krantisinh Nana Patil Akadami, 2003). 89


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Elphinstone asked Chaplin of the possibility of the appointment of European professors at the Sanskrit College, Chaplin expressed doubt whether it was possible or politic to mix the European with characters so heterogeneous as Indian Ğastris. Such a move, Chaplin cautioned should be “taken with a delicate hand” The Ğastris were, said Chaplin: a most impracticable set–jealous to an extreme degree of any interference with their more of discipline, tenacious of their privileges and extremely averse to their being extended beyond the pole of their humanity. They would take alarm at the introduction of any interlopers, in which light they would infallibly regard any European Professor as a part of the present institution.93

Though vernacular education was rationalised in the name of its potentiality of wider circulation of ideology and diffusion of knowledge, vernacular education was never to be a democratic enterprise. The dichotomy between English education and vernacular education as representing the élitist agenda and mass programme respectively was not true to its core. The Company officials were very keen on nurturing a few than many. The Board of Education clearly acknowledged that the idea of national education was in its infancy even in Europe and its implementation in India posed newer challenges: The subject of national education, even in Europe is as yet so new,....But when European ideas on any subject come to be applied in the East, a thousand difficulties present themselves, which never occurred in the country in which they had previously arisen; it is not therefore to be wondered at, that upon almost every point respecting the application of educational treatment to the people of India, conflicting theories should have sprung up.94

A similar argument about vernacular education was also made in the 1843 Report of Board of Education: The tendency of our proceeding in regard to Vernacular Education, has evinced our conviction that the primary instruction of the people should be conducted exclusively in the vernacular language of the respective Provinces, and that it is essential to permanent and real success, that exertions of Government should be responded to by that degree for 93

R. D. Choksey, Mountstuart Elphinstone: The Indian Years 1796-1827 (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1971) 388. 94 Report of the Bombay Education Society for the Year, 1845. (Bombay: Government Printing Office, 1846) 6.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


cooperation on the part of people, which will suffice to give evidence of a sincere desire on their part, to avail themselves of the benefits of education – it is with this better view, that we have attached so much to the constitution of Local School Committees consisting of representatives of the different classes of the community….95

Elphinstone had proposed that a college should be established in Bombay on the model of the College at Fort William. However, this College was to aim at the training of young Indians who were considered suitable for employment in the higher ranks of Government service and not solely for the training of junior civil servants from England.

Linguistic Modernisation of the Sanskrit College The attempt of introducing Western courses in the traditional institutes stimulated violent responses in MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ and Bengal. In the Sanskrit College in Pune, the orthodox brahmins reacted violently when new courses and language were to be introduced. Unlike the Maharashtrian élites, who had hailed largely from only one caste, the Bengali élites had come from the relatively wider social base of the community. They were quicker to recognise the fruits that the new education could potentially promise. Therefore, they were more prepared to accept the European knowledge. In 1851, it was decided that Sanskrit should be taught to the non-brahmins in the Sanskrit College. This created a wave of shock in the city. Two shastris named Narayan Shastri Abhyankar and Gopal Shastri Gokhale agreed to teach Sanskrit in the College to youths of all castes without distinction. Their act of teaching Sanskrit to sonƗrs, Ğimpis, prabhus, pƗrĞis and various other Ğudra castes created indictment among the brahmins. Even while achieving linguistic modernisation of the Sanskrit College, the idea of the continuation of Sanskrit was not lost sight of. Moreover, it was argued that Sanskrit should continue to be deployed to cultivate Marathi. Though Candy was inspired to achieve modernisation of the College and committed to achieving qualitative overhaul in the College, he could not stake favour of the Pune brahmins by diminishing the importance of Sanskrit. This could have been even dangerous given that the colonial


MSA, GD, Vol. - 24-A / 749-A, 1843, 77.


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authority had initiated substantial abatement in dakshina fund. Candy wrote in the Report of Poona Sanskrit College: I showed, that so long as it was a merely Sanskrit institution, the only good that it was calculated to effect was the cultivation and preservation of that language; this was a good not to be esteemed lightly; for Latin was not more useful in the improvement of English, than Sanskrit may be made in improving Mahrahta; but still it was a good far below what the college might be made to effect. I then traced the various measures which had been adopted to increase the efficiency of the institution, and to make it tell upon improvement of Native literature, such as the introduction of the study of the vernacular, the establishment of the lithographic press department, and, lastly[,] the introduction of the study of English combined with the study of Sanskrit and Mahrahta. This last measure brought the College to its present state. It has now a Sanskrit, a Vernacular, an English-vernacular, and a lithographic press and depository department.96

Such a position perpetuated further rationalisation of the differentiated principle of patronage and also suggested an outline of the development of Marathi. The brahmins in Pune also dealt with the change in policy with regard to the College. They were not opposed to English; however, they did not want the importance of Sanskrit to be diminished. Pointing out the similarity between the roles played by Latin in Europe and Sanskrit in India, they argued in the petition that the vernaculars of India could be cultivated and improved only with the help of Sanskrit.97 The petition exhibits a shrewd understanding of the significance of Sanskrit and English, the former being traditional apparatus of hegemony and the latter being new mode of dominance for the traditional élites. The petitioners wrote:


RBE for the Year 1849 36. The Orientalist scholars trained in the classics legitimised Sanskrit by voicing the opinion that Sanskrit was a paragon language. Seeing Sanskrit as an object proof of superiority of ancient over modern, Halhed, for example, looked at Sanskrit as “equally refined with either the Arabic or the Greek” and “more copious than either [Latin or Greek]”. Rosane Rochar, “British Orientalism in the Eighteenth Century: The Dialectics of Knowledge and Government” Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia. Carol A. Breckenridge and Peter van der Veer. Eds. (1993; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, [henceforth, Oxford U P] 1994) 229.


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While then in the present circumstances of the country, the English is necessary to furnish ideas to the native mind, the Sanskrit is equally necessary....The question before us, however, is how far does the College at Poonah, tend to promote the object in view, the promotion of Sanskrit Literature.98

Linguistic modernisation of the College entailed many shifts in the teaching of language. The changed situation demanded anglicisation as well as vernacularisation of the college and enhancing its utility and efficiency. The expansion and further infiltration of the colonial state demanded more informed and linguistically modernised class of intelligentsia. This class was endowed with a function of mediating between the colonial state and the colonised subjects. Moreover, this class also had to retain its hegemonic position in the caste-society, which had demanded far more opportunities of employment in the spreading network of bureaucracy. The traditional intelligentsia had also begun to realise the importance and necessity of learning English. While it was difficult to introduce English education in Pune, it was observed in and around Bombay that there was a great demand for English. In Pune, the state had to take initiative for introducing English; in Bombay, the native intelligentsia pined for it. Having realised the growing demand for English education among the native, the British began to press upon them to raise fund for English schools. A letter expressing this sentiment of the state was attached to the Report of Board of Education.99 It was stated very clearly in the Report of Board of Education that the state would shoulder the responsibility of introducing English to the brahmins and, thus, ensure their smooth entry as English-educated intelligentsia in the mould of colonial machinery: Subsequently, the whole subject of the College has been under our consideration with a view to remodel it. The object of our plan is to combine the Sanskrit College with the English school so as to enable the Brahmin youths who have hitherto devoted to many laborious years to the 98 99

MSA, GD, Vol. - 39/409, 1837, 3. His Lordship approves of the Board’s proceedings in connection with the English school at Tanna. The inhabitants of that town, I am desired to state, should be distinctly made to understand in the event of any future application, that no English School will again be reestablished there, until they have given satisfactory evidence that they are prepared to support it, both by contributing towards the Master’s salary, and by providing for the regular attendance of their children. —RBE for the Year 1849 105.


Chapter Five study of Sanskrit literature to enter the field of competition with their young countrymen, whom we are endeavouring to impregnate with the results of European knowledge.100

Mr. Francis Warden mentioned in his Minute of 24 March 1828 “the eagerness the natives had displayed to obtain knowledge of the English language” and “the proposition having been made to the colleges at Poona and Surat to open a branch for teaching the English language.” The initiative displayed by the natives regarding English provided Warden an opportunity to debate the language issue in the Bombay Council. In this Minute, he mentioned that the objective of that policy should be “diffusion of a knowledge of English language as best calculated to facilitate the intellectual and moral improvement of India.” He had advocated the expediency of making the study of English a primary object and had contended that it was better and safer to commence by giving a good deal of knowledge to a few than a little to many. However, he felt that such a selective distribution of English at the higher level also required wide distribution of English at the elementary level.101 He hoped English to become “the lasting monument of our dominion” and thereby the Indians could rival the rest of the civilised world. He considered that “there was nothing chimerical in laying the foundation of a good edifice for teaching what the higher classes of natives are anxious to learn, a knowledge of English.”102 A clear indictment with regard to the élitist nature English education is evident in the Report of the Board of Education: We have before intimated our deliberate opinion of the necessity of imparting a higher education than vernacular schools can supply, to all those who are in a position of life to demand it….With these views we have carefully examined the means of our disposal for promoting a zeal and supplying a demand for English Education. We should have desired, if the funds at our command would allow it, to locate a good English School


RBE for the Year 1849 37. (Emphasis added.) Warden put his argument: ...a good deal of knowledge to a few can only be promoted by a better system of education; and the surest mode of diffusing a better system is by making the study of the English language the primary, and not merely secondary object of attention in the education of the natives. A. N. Basu, Indian Education in Parliamentary Papers Part – I (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1952) 221. 102 RBE for the Year 1845. (Bombay: Government Printing Office, 1846) 10. 101

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at every Zilla town in the Presidency and at such large towns also as would be likely to present a demand for superior education.103

Warden saw such an élitist view of English education and determined an asymmetrical fee structure for vernacular and English education. Access to English education was controlled through a stringent fee structure whereas moderate fee structure was designed for vernacular education.104 It is not that the Court of Directors was opposed to the idea of patronising indigenous education in India. In the early decades of the nineteenth century, they admired Sanskrit literature, and the precolonial régimes which patronised them: The mode of encouraging in India prevailed for many years, and the theory on which it is based is clearly traceable in the views promulgated by Mr. Chaplin, the Commissioner in the Deccan, on his founding the Hindu College in Poona. The Court of Directors indeed in the first instance gave it express encouragement. In their public dispatch to Lord Minto of June 1814, they observe, “We are informed that there are in the Sanscrit language many excellent systems of ethics, with codes of laws and compendiums of the duties relating to every class of the people, the study of which might be useful to those natives who may be destined for the Judicial Department of Government.”105

Therefore, introduction of English in the traditional institutes of education cannot be equated with democratisation of education. English was introduced in such institutes out of political exigency. However, while doing so, care was taken to ensure that the new language did not cause vertical alteration in the existing social structure. Thus, like Sanskrit, English also became an arena of exclusion, negotiation and manipulation.

English in the Sanskrit College The Anglicists had astutely tapped that there was a small but visible class of élites who were demanding for English to the neglect of vernacular schools. The Board of Education ratified the Anglicist claim that it was impossible to undertake a gigantic scheme as the education of the masses of India, and even if the necessary funds were made available, the “national mind” was not ripe. Disqualifying the possibility of 103

Report of the Bombay Education Society, 1845, 26. (Emphasis added.) Report of the Bombay Education Society,1845, 24. 105 Report of the Bombay Education Society, 1845, 7. 104


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educating the whole of population, they pointed at the inadequacy of the machinery at hand, in terms of either literature or teachers for the introduction of systems which would embrace all orders of the community. 106

A school was established in Pune in 1823 to teach English to the natives. However, owing to the absence of students aspiring to learn English, the school was dissolved.107 Elphinstone’s proposal came under minute scrutiny of the provincial government in Bombay. Some members of the committee, appointed to study the proposal, had felt that the eventual aim of spreading European knowledge to the natives, will have a higher rate of success, if the college would be located not in Pune but in Bombay, which was emerging as an industrial site. However, Elphinstone, in favour of Pune, pointed out that the most eminent Hindu Ğastris would never leave Pune and yet the government was obliged to provide some compensation to them for the dakshina, which they used to receive previously.108 It was difficult to arouse interest for English in Pune even after the fall of the Peshwa régime, which had patronised the cultivation of Sanskrit so liberally, as the city had continued to be predominantly orthodox. The continued prevalence of orthodoxy in the post-Peshwa régime can partly be attributed to the differentiated educational policy initiated by Elphinstone for Bombay and Pune. In 1825, the Sanskrit College witnessed a major shift with regard to language policy. Francis Warden planned to introduce English in the Sanskrit College.109 The amount of 15,250 rupees, which was spent on the College, was increased by 960 rupees in order to provide a class for the study of English. As the circumstances changed tremendously and rapidly, a demand for English increased further around 1832. The colonial state was waiting for this to happen. This provided the state an opportunity to 106

Report of the Bombay Education Society, 1845, 4. MSA, GD, Vol. - 10/255, 1832, 58. 108 K. Paddayya , “On Some Aspects of the Early History of the Deccan College,” Bulletin of the Deccan College 60-61 (2000-2001) 52. 109 Surendra Prasad Sinha writes: At the instance of Mr. Warden, a reference was made to this college in 1825, desiring education added to this institution, and holding out the prospect of supplied with a library of the most useful works – elementary and practical – in all departments of literature, art and sciences. The proposal was acceded to with readiness. —Surendra Prasad Sinha, English in India: A Historical Study with Particular Reference to English Education in India (Patna: Janaki Prakashan, 1978) 45. 107

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intervene in the affairs of the Poona College and introduce English in it. The Jr. Principal Collector unmistakably tapped this opportunity and wrote to the Secretary to the Government of Bombay, recommending the introduction of English in Poona Sanskrit College. He persuasively wrote: I have no doubt that at present there would be many desirous of learning the English language, and I should certainly recommend this branch to be added to the College studies, a knowledge of the English language would I humbly conceive tend greatly to the improvement of the Natives generally the higher walks of literature and science would naturally soon follow and a field would be open to many which otherwise for a length of time must remain closed. I should also say that the knowledge of the English language would become a link between the natives and their rulers, it is decidedly a gift which would scarcely be forgotten in consideration of the valuable works in it.110

The Jr. Principal Collector recommended reduction in the number of professors for Hindu literature and addition of some for English and Persian. Questioning the very utility of the courses taught in the College, he hoped that introduction of English would increase its utility. The brahmin professors in the College were bound to respond fiercely to such a move. The British officials could also anticipate this. The real cause of dissent among the brahmins was the potential threat that English could cause to their existence and the consequent displacement. The arrival of English was seen as a threat to their prerogative to dominate the positions in the College. The Jr. Principal Collector presupposed this: I think it probably the introduction of a professor in the former language [English] into the College would give offence, if he were to displace any of the present incumbents - more particularly if he were not a high caste Brahmin.111

The introduction of English in the Sanskrit College was not to achieve any democratising effect. In fact, it added a new dimension to hierarchisation of language education, which was slowly emerging in Pune.

The Sanskrit College and the Vernacular Department Major Candy was appointed as the Superintendent of the Sanskrit College. His appointment was a pragmatic move and was intended at 110 111

MSA, GD, Vol.-10/255, 1832, 58-9. MSA, GD, Vol.-10/255, 1832, 71.


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achieving a desirable change in the College. Major Candy’s attempt of achieving changes in the functioning of the College remained constrained due to his ignorance of Sanskrit. He frankly confessed in his report that the efficiency of his superintendence was necessarily limited by his little knowledge of Sanskrit.112 He felt it necessary to read the books that were taught in the College. However, he had to depend on the principal and the pun‫ڲ‬it who were appointed to assist him. Realising his limitation with regard to reforming Sanskrit education in Sanskrit College, Candy began to pay more attention to the Vernacular Department. He was doing this with “a conviction of its [Marathi’s] very great importance”. He had assumed that it was necessary to teach English liberally to the more number of people. Then, obviously, it became imperative to train the students in their language and make them more eligible arbitrators. He recognised the importance of training the teachers to teach Marathi. As there was no tradition of studying or teaching Marathi, the state of Marathi in general was very much precarious. The students, who were so eager to learn Sanskrit and later on English, were least interested in learning Marathi. He took the practical and sensible decision of using the College to train the teachers of Marathi: The present Acting teacher [of Marathi] will, I hope, prove a good one. I am more and more convinced of the importance of this [Vernacular] of the College. Without it the major part of the students would leave the College unable even to read or write a letter in the common written character of their, mother tongue, and destitute of qualifications for any offices, except those few which belong exclusively to Punঌits.113

One of the reasons for choosing Sanskrit College for training the teachers for Marathi lay in the assumption that achieving proficiency in Marathi was inextricably linked with achieving proficiency in Sanskrit. Rather, being proficient in Sanskrit was considered indispensable for becoming eligible to teach Marathi. Candy assumed that the present vernacular schoolmasters, for their “want of acquaintance with Sanskrit” were ignorant of the exact power and meaning of many words that were in use in Marathi and hoped that the students of Marathi from Sanskrit College would be free from this defect. The appointment in the college of the teacher of the vernacular language, which was attributed to Candy, was seen as the most useful 112 113

RBE for the Years 1840, 1841. (Bombay: American Mission Press, 1842) 28. RBE for the Years 1840, 1841 24.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


measure. The Report of the College clearly acknowledged that the students, who were being educated at the Sanskrit College, used to leave the College with contempt for their mother tongue and without developing ability to write in it with propriety. Such a kind of disability also used to make them ineligible for colonial bureaucracy. This disability bereft them of the opportunity to enter any department of public service. The colonial state could not afford the creation of such handicapped intelligentsia. The Sanskrit College had already become an object of criticism and its utility was seriously doubted by the utilitarians. The introduction of Marathi also entailed an ideological function of the creation of the literati, which was one of the important objectives of colonial education. This class of literati was to function as a mediating agency between the colonial state and the indigenous subjects. Candy expressed this thus: ....Karkoons make no pretensions to learning, and Punঌits are useless as men of business. But now we may look forward to many leaving the College whose learning will entitle them to respect among literati, and whose attainments in the ordinary branches of education, will fit them discharge with credit the duties of situation, which they may obtain.114

Thus, the Vernacularists and the Anglicists differed on the issue of means of instruction and extent of spread of education; however, they shared the view that both language and education were to be used to strengthen the empire. The seemingly contradictory views of the Vernacularists and Anglicists were different expressions of the ideology of the empire.

Elphinstone College: Differentiated Language policy When Mountstuart Elphinstone left Bombay, some of the leading Indian citizens like Jamshetji and Framji Kawasji formed themselves into a committee with the aim of raising funds to endow in his memory professorships under the Native Education Society. They explained to the Society in December 1827 that they hoped to secure at least three professors from England to teach English language and also, “the arts, sciences and literature of Europe.” The growing interests of the natives in English education found expression in the desire they expressed at the time of farewell to Elphinstone. At the same time, they were careful to emphasise that they had no intention of superseding the vernaculars by 114

Report 1842 27.

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English in the education of the people but only of teaching English as a classical language to the few who would, in turn, diffuse European arts and science by translation.115 Nevertheless, Francis Warden was soon asserting that the scheme only confirmed him in his opinion of the dire need of directing their chief effort to one object, to diffusion of knowledge of the English language as best calculated to facilitate the intellectual and moral improvement of India. Fundamentally, Elphinstone regarded education as a duty of government because it was to achieve moral influence. In the report, which he wrote on leaving the Deccan in 1819, he declared that there was no way to improve the morals of the people except by improving their education. He elaborated upon this theme in Benthamite terms in the course in his Minute in 1824, which is a lengthy minute upon educational policy. He wrote: It is now well understood that in all countries the happiness of the poor depends in a great measure on their education. It is by means of it alone that they can acquire those habits of prudence and self-respect from which all other good qualities spring; and if ever there was a country where such habits are required, it is this….If there be a wish to contribute to the abolition of the horrors of self-immolation, and of infanticide, and ultimately to the destruction of superstition in India, it is scarcely necessary now to prove that the only means of success lie in the diffusion of knowledge.116

However, the prevalence of caste prejudice restrained on Elphinstone’s Benthamite liberalism. He thought that education, besides inculcating these virtues of prudence and self-reliance, would also lead to the disappearance of sati, infanticide, and “superstition” and that nothing else would. Conscious of the “slippery foundation” of the colonial rule, Elphinstone was thus concerned with the education both of the learned classes and also of the peasantry. The peasants, it might be thought, would have little opportunity to read even if they had once learned how to do so. He was, however, anxious not only to eradicate “superstition” by the spread of Western knowledge, but also to teach the peasants to read so that they might understand the declarations of the government, decipher their own revenue certificates (pattas) and work out their own accounts. Under the 115 116

Ballhatschet 293. Elphinstone 101.

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


rayatwari system, each peasant would have at least this much of immediate personal concern to read. Elphinstone’s policy on education was not merely a product of a certain ideology in the West. Instead, it was deeply informed by local expediency. With the increased familiarity with the situation in Western India, he was unhesitant in changing his views on education.117 The East India Company had decided to establish a college in Bombay to train the administrators in the native languages. This college was to be modelled on the Fort William College in Calcutta. What distinguished the notion of this college from the Sanskrit College in Pune was that the proposed college expected to have more utility and it was infested with relatively more secular notion of education. In a letter to Francis Warden, the Agent writes about courses to be taught at the college: “Of the sciences to be taught at the College, the most useful would certainly be the Regulations of Government and the portions of the Hindoo and Mohamedan Law that are actually in force in our dominions.”118

One of the recommendations of the subcommittee of the Bombay Education Society had been the establishment in the Presidency of an English School where English may be taught classically. This proposal was supported by Warden and Elphinstone equally, barring their differences. Elphinstone realised that the establishment of such a school would help conciliate advanced public opinion. Without waiting for the approval of the Court, he sanctioned on his own responsibility, the opening of the Society’s Central School.119 As discussed earlier, on the retirement of Elphinstone from the Governorship of Bombay in 1827, a committee of Indian gentlemen from 117

Elphinstone wrote: While I was in Deckan I was led by an erroneous impression of the flourishing state of native schools to think that Colleges at Poona and Nassuck, with the printing of the number of books translated under the superintendence of the Persian Secretary, would be sufficient to every purpose. Further information and experience of the ill success of that plan led me to look to the School Society [i.e. the Bombay Education Society] for assistance and to suggest the formation of a new branch for Native School and School Books. —A. L. Covernton, “The Educational Policy of Mountstuart Elphinstone,” Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series) Vol. II (1926) 57. 118 MSA, GD, Vol. - 9/10, 1821-22, 104. 119 Hampton 174.


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Bombay was formed. It was formed of the influential personalities from the world of business and its objective was to pay respect to the departing Governor by establishing an institution in his name. It was decided to raise subscription amongst the Native Princes, and gentlemen allies and subjects of the British Government under the Presidency of Bombay for the purpose of endowing one or more Professorships under the Native Education Society with the denomination of Elphinstone Professorships.120 This attempt was a spontaneous one and the business magnets, who had contributed towards the donation, had no clear idea of the purposes of the Elphinstone Professorship.121 In the farewell address to Mountstuart Elephantine, the wealthy natives of Bombay spoke of the necessity of the [Elephantine] Professors teaching the English language and the Arts and Sciences and Literature of Europe. However, as Nahid Ahmad points out, “the Shetia subscribers expressed the desire for professorship more as a personal genuflection to Elphinstone than an actual commitment to English education on their part.” This respectful approach of the trading community in Bombay towards Elphinstone shows the ties the shetias had developed with the colonial state. Though the contributors towards the fund were predominantly from Bombay, a sizable number of contributors came from the rajas and jagirdars of the Maratha country and the brahmins of Pune, where Elphinstone had been as the Commissioner.122 Unlike in Calcutta, which was the hub of the East India Company’s rapidly expanding administrative machinery, Bombay continued to be the traditionally commercial town. The class of employers in Bombay did not insist on knowledge of English. Resultantly, there were no students for English in the early years of Elphinstone College.123 When Professor Orlebar and Harkness arrived in Bombay in 1835, they remained unoccupied for a long time for want of the students desirous to learn English. Pune had remained an orthodox town even in the early phase of colonial rule because of the status quo orientation of the Company’s rule under Elphinstone. Though Bombay had come under the colonial rule much before the fall of the Peshwa rule and it was predominantly a commercial town, it was not free of caste prejudices. Umesh Bagade has 120

Boman-Behram 531. Naheed F. Ahmad. “The Elphinstone College, Bombay, 1827-1890: A Case Study in 19th-Century English Education.” Knowledge, Power and Politics: Educational Institutions in India. Mushirul Hasan. Ed. (New Delhi: Roli Books Pvt Ltd, 1998) 392-3. 122 Ahmad 393. 123 Ahmad 394. 121

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shown that various upper caste groups in Bombay, in the wake of upward mobility, were becoming more conservative in the mid-nineteenth century.124 The education policy could not remain uninfluenced by caste prejudice. In Bombay, both Elphinstone and Sir John Malcolm favoured the brahmins for English education: While I can quite understand the facility with which sons of Europeans brought up at the national school, and similar charitable establishments, can pursue their studies by the aid of English books and English masters, I am convinced that limiting this course of instruction to that language would be to exclude almost all the natives from advancement in a line it is most desirable they should pursue, and for which some classes of them, particularly the Brahmins, are singularly well prepared by previous education.125

Malcolm, like Elphinstone, believed that the brahmins were the most displaced caste and, hence, they required to be co-opted into the new structure of power. Malcolm wrote in his Minute: I value this [the rise of the educated natives to respectable employment], as it relates this to every class of our subjects, but particularly the Brahmins, who I am pleased to see from the greatest proportion of the students, amongst all the natives of this class, who have suffered most from the establishment of our dominion. 126

Both of them felt that education should fulfil two needs of the empire – first, it should man the colonial bureaucracy with technical acumen and secondly, it was to substantiate the colonial empire by collaborating with brahmins. Malcolm frankly acknowledges this objective of the empire: One of the chief objects I expect from diffusing education among the natives of India is our increased power of associating them in every part of our administration.127

The diffusion of English could be of immense use for the study of European sciences. The first step was an English school in Bombay where 124

Umesh Bagade, MahƗrƗ‫܈‬trƗtƯl Prabodhan Ɩ۬i VargjƗtiprabhutva (Pune: Sugawa Prakashan, 2006) 113-6. 125 MSA, GD, 10/163, 1828, 41-2; Basu 224. 126 MSA, GD, 10/163, 1828, 46-7. 127 H. Sharp. Ed. Selections from Educational Records 1781-1839, Part – I. (India: Superintendent, Government Printing, 1920) 144; Basu 223.


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English was to be taught classically. This type of education was to be given to the sons of wealthy natives and to the boys with a promise of talent. When well established, a separate class for the lower orders was to be instituted.128 In the early phase of its history, admission to Elphinstone College was denied to the lower caste students. Elphinstone College was a natural outcome of the demand for English education in Bombay, though this demand was lately articulated. Elphinstone himself was not opposed to English education, provided that there was a genuine demand for it. He said: If English could be at all diffused among the persons who have the least time for reflection, the progress of knowledge, by means of it, would be accelerated in a ten-fold ratio.129

He readily admitted that there was a growing demand for English in Bombay though it was limited to a small number of people who hoped that proficiency in English as a language of opportunities would help them either in their business pursuits or qualify them for government employment.130 Francis Warden recorded in his dissentient Minute of 29 December 1823, the rapidly increasing desire for English education.131 Elphinstone realised that there was much force in Warden’s argument that the wealthy natives of Bombay would like their children to be educated thoroughly in English. He also remained unhesitant in approving of the establishment of an English school at the Presidency where English may be taught classically. One of the reasons why Elphinstone felt the need of English education was his desire to “man the public services with


Choksey 383. Hampton 167-8. 130 Hampton 168. 131 No doubt the progress of knowledge can be most effectively and economically promoted by a study of the English language, wherein, in every branch of science, we have, ready compiled, the most useful works, which cannot be compressed in tracts and translated in the native languages without great expense and the labour of years. A classical knowledge of English ought to constitute the chief object of the Bombay seminary. As far as I have conversed with the natives, they are anxious that their children should be thoroughly grounded in the English language; some of the wealthiest would be glad to send their children to England for education, were it not for the clamorous objection of their mothers; nothing can be more favourable for commencing, or for the establishment of a good system of education, than such a disposition. —Basu 217. 129

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


highly educated recruits.”132 The Indian members of the Bombay Native Education Society, all of them commercial magnets, suggested the study of English language as a branch of classical education to be esteemed and cultivated in this country as the classical languages of Greece and Rome are in the Universities of Europe.133

They also proposed that the sphere of one professor should be Languages and General Literature; of the other Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, including Astronomy, Elementary and Physical; of the third (Professor) Chemistry, including Geology and Botany. The English members, in 1832, proposed a more pragmatic syllabus with an emphasis on Mathematics, Architecture, Hydraulics and Mechanics.134 As Naheed Ahmad has pointed out, there was a marked discrepancy between the expectations of the British officials and the actual support given to English education by the poor but high caste youths. The Court of Directors had already urged, in their letter of September 1830 to Madras Government, that the improvements in education, which most effectively contribute to elevate the moral and intellectual condition of people, are those which concern the education of the higher classes; of the persons possessing leisure and moral influence over the minds of their countrymen. By raising the standard of instruction among these classes, a much greater and more beneficial change in the ideas and feelings of the community can be produced than by acting directly on the more numerous classes.135 Despite that the British deliberately oriented their education policy towards a minuscule class of Brahmins, the brahmins hardly showed any interest in Western education in the early years of Elphinstone College. A list of the students, who left the higher classes of the Elphinstone Institution between 1827-42, affirms the dominance of not the brahmins but the pƗ‫ܒ‬hƗre prabhus among those seeking education. There were 71 prabhus out of a total of `161 students for the period, followed by 28 pƗrĞis, 16 brahmins and 12 sƗraswat brahmins. Contrary to the expectation of the British, the prabhus rather than the brahmins gave


Hampton 68. Ahmad 395. 134 Ahmad 395. 135 RBE for the Year 1845. (Bombay: Government Printing Office, 1846) 20. 133

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greater recognition to English education.136 Prabhus had a long lineage of writing as they worked as scribes and copyists in the courts of the Maratha sardƗrs, Muslim rulers and the Portuguese courts. The absence of brahmins in the Elphinstone Institution was seen as a major cause of the “poorer performance” of the Elphinstone College at the examinations. In 1884, the Principal of the Elphinstone College expressed the concern that the proportion of failures in the first year B. A. course was “nearly twice as high in this college as in the Deccan College.” The Principal reasoned: The Brahmanee element in the Deccan College constitutes, I understand, more than ninety per cent of the total; in this college the same element constitutes scarcely 40 per cent….The brahmins who fill the lecture room at Poona have generally more developed intellectual tastes, and much more application.137

The success of the Deccan College in the examination was attributed to the predominance of brahmin students. Such understanding led the administrators to formulate the policy whereby the number of brahmin students was to be increased systematically. In 1851, the government had stated that the most promising and influential pupils, to whose education the principal efforts of the Board should be directed, are the children of the indigent brahmins. This is evident in the following governmental correspondence: II In the 18 para it is argued with much ingenuity that the most promising and influential pupils of the higher classes and therefore the pupils to whose education the principal efforts of the Board should be directed are the children of indigent brahmins. III In the 23 para it is contended that for the reasons assigned, the classes of the lowest castes–the Mhars and Dhers to participate the blessings of education should be for the present disregarded.138

This policy began to bear fruit after 1860. The brahmins became the single largest Hindu caste at the College from 1867. They had effectively replaced the pƗ‫ܒ‬hare prabhus who dominated English education in the 1840s. The brahmins averaged 43 per cent of all college students before 1885 and traditional scribal caste in this region—prabhus—constituted


Ahmad 397. Ahmad 400. 138 MSA, GD, Vol.-12, 1851, 72. 137

Politics of Patronage and Institutionalisation of Language Hierarchy


only 4 per cent. In 1890, out of a total number of 218 students, there were only 12 prabhus and 65 brahmins. Medical education also could not escape the influence of language debate. The colonial administrators had always expressed suspicion about the reliability of the indigenous medical practitioners. Elphinstone had shown his unwillingness to let the British soldiers to be examined by the Indian doctors.139 The colonial state deemed it part of the civilisational mission to undertake the achieving of the improvement of medical and surgical science and practice among the Native practitioners in those Departments. The Bombay Medical society was formed on two important principles: “that medical education can only be conducted, by approximating as nearly as possible, to the systems of instruction followed in the schools of Europe,” and secondly that the English language must be the medium of medical instruction.140 The vernacular languages of the East were considered incompetent and “absolutely barren of all literature.” The committee of Bombay Medical Society recommended English as the medium of medical instruction. The grounds advanced by the committee for this decision were, among others, that the English language was “rich in stores of Medical knowledge,” that “the Vernacular languages of the East” were “absolutely barren at all literature,” that English was “the language of those who must be the teachers,” and that the difficulty of translating scientific works of vernaculars rendered it possible to impart only the rudiments of medical science through their medium. The hierarchised dichotomy of the medium of instruction is evident in the letter written by Ball Gangadhur Shastree, the Indian secretary of the Bombay Native Education Society, to Dr. Morehead, Secretary of the Bombay Medical Society:


For the details of how the medical field and education had become the site of contestation in the early colonial period, refer to Desai 14; Mridula Ramanna. “Perceptions of Sanitation and Medicine in Bombay 1900-1914.” Colonialism as Civilizing Mission: Cultural Ideology in British India Harold Fischer Tiné and Michael Mann. Ed. (London: Anthem Press, 2004) 204-25; Mridula Ramanna. “Indian Doctors, Western Medicine and Social Change.” State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century. Mariam Dossal and Ruby Maloni. Eds. (Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1999) 43; K. N. Pannikar, Culture, Ideology, Hegemony : Intellectuals and Social Consciousness in Colonial India (New Delhi: Tulika, 1995). 140 Boman-Behram 547-8.

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I think it [medical instruction] should be communicated through the medium of the Native language if the object be to educate the adult practitioners in the elements of the Science, and to make the benefits of the European Systems generally known immediately throughout the Country. But if the end proposed be to give superior education in all branches of Medical Science to a select number of young men, the English is the only medium which can possibly be adopted, as from the difficulty of translating works on Science no more than the rudiment can be taught through the medium of the Native languages. 141

Thus, from the studies of these educational institutions, it can be inferred that the language policy was predetermined to be selective. This differentiated language policy resulted in the uneven distribution of English education. Consequently, the students in English colleges in the Pune-Bombay region consequently remained socially preselected.


Boman-Behram 54.


The notion of social hierarchy may seem anathema to democracy and social equity and, thus, inherently at odds with morality. But some degree of social stratification and hierarchy is needed for social organizations to function.1 —Larry P. Nucci

With the emergence of the neo-Marxian critique of education, we are beginning to see a profound shift in our notion of culture. At the same time, we witness a break with mechanistic theories of people and their consciousness. These shifts themselves mark alteration in the relationship between education and consciousness.2 Contrary to the liberal view of education held by many educationists, Antonio Gramsci in Italy, Pierre Bourdieu and Louis Althussar in France, Michael Young, Geoff Whitty and Paul Willis in England, Kallos and Lundgren in Sweden, Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis and Michael Apple in America, Paulo Freire in Brazil and Krishna Kumar in India have been arguing that the educational and cultural systems have been exceptionally important in maintaining the hierarchical structure of the society. The 1970s witnessed a radical shift in the left-wing thinking on education. One of the most striking features of the post-1970 scholarship on education has been the unorthodox Marxian critique of education. During the 1970s, many of the neo-Marxian theorists began to see education more critically and doubtfully. They made a distinction between education and schooling. The latter is embedded more with the ideology of 1

Nucci P. Larry, Education in the Moral Domain (Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the U C, 2001) 97. 2 David Hogan. “Education and Class Formation: The Peculiarities of the Americans.” Cultural and Economic Reproduction in Education. Michael Apple. Ed. (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982) 33.


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the modern state. The widely spread assumption that schooling is good and can help the masses liberate themselves from bondage began to be challenged. For ex., Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed argued “schools do not liberate; at best they domesticate” and “the educated man is the most adapted man, because he is more fit for the world.” Freire has popularised education as domestication. According to Frank Musgrove, the vast body of neo-Marxist literature on schooling and social control advances simple and contradictory propositions. The first is that schooling teaches subordinate classes servility; the second is that it does not. Defiance brings retribution and thus the subordinate classes, “ensure the continuity of their own underprivilege.” Both the propositions find apparent support in the “correspondences” between conditions in schools or servility or defiance at the sight of capitalist production. In the first case, social control is achieved because the school succeeds; the second because it fails. Ever since the introduction of the Education Act in England in 1870, the left-wing theorists have felt that compulsory schooling for all children may not be a “good thing” and, indeed, might be “counter-productive for the realization of their political ideals.” Musgrove stated that inter-war Marxist historians attacked capitalists for withholding education from the workers; today’s neo-Marxists attack them for providing it. It is through the provision of mass schooling that great inequalities have been perpetrated, capitalist power sustained, and individuals enabled to move smoothly into an alienated and class-stratified society. The neo-Marxists now argue that mass schooling was an ideological assault on the working class and that it was a massive act of cultural aggression by the capitalist bourgeoisie. Popular education in the nineteenth century was a means to prevent the reproduction of traditional working-class culture, which was at best inconvenient and at worst hostile and threatening to the new industrial order. Sanjay Seth argues that the elementary education given to the poorer classes, for which the English state undertook responsibility in 1870, was intended to “inculcate the virtues of industry, thrift, and self-discipline in the lower classes.” On the contrary, the public school was thought to cultivate in the upper classes the 3 ideas of independence and leadership. In the early nineteenth century England, the right-wing intellectuals were very much careful about providing education to many. The idea was that “too much knowledge might breed revolution”. Conservatives in 3 Sanjay Seth, Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India (New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2007) 47.

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England had already opposed working-class education as it tended to give children ideas above their station.4 For example, a future president of the Royal Society said in a famous speech in the House of Commons in 1807 that educating the poor would “teach them to despise their lot in life” and “render them insolent to their superiors”.5 Even Tory opposition to the spread of education among the masses was of long standing.6 However, producing a sustained and critical analysis of the role of schooling, Michael Young and Geoff Whitty point out that many of the doubts of the right-wing were soon allayed by the recognition of the role schooling could play in “gentling the masses”. The Right were rather quicker than the Left in understanding that the “so-called education could be as much a process of domestication as of liberation.”7 The notion of schooling was most vigorously propagated in the 1970s by two American scholars – Herbert Gintis and Samuel Bowles. Their work is an important contribution to the resurgence of Marxist interpretation of schooling. According to Musgrove, the basic point that Bowles and Gintis are making is quite simply this: mass schooling has arisen since the mid-nineteenth century not to provide skills and train intelligence for industrial employment but to ensure a suitably docile labour force. If factories have mass characteristics and if schools have developed mass characteristics, then the latter arose to fit the former. Schooling has contributed to the reproduction of the social relations of production largely through the correspondence between school and the 4

David Rubinstein, Education and Equality (Middlesex: Penguine Books Ltd, 1979) 21. 5 Rubinstein 21. 6 Davies Giddy argued in 1807: However specious in theory the project might be of giving education to the labouring classes of the poor, it would, in effect, be found to be prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to despise their lot in life, instead of making them good servants in agriculture, and other laborious employments to which their rank in society had destined them; instead of teaching them subordination, it would render them factious and refractory, as was evident in the manufacturing countries; it would enable them to read seditious pamphlets, vicious books, and publications against Christianity; it would render them insolent to their superiors; and, in a few years, the result would be, that the legislature would find it necessary to direct the strong arm of power towards them. —Brian Simon, Studies in the History of Education 1780-1870 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1960) 132. 7 Michael Young and Geoff Whitty, Society, State and Schooling: Readings and the Possibilities for Radical Education (Sussex: The Falmer Press, 1977) 1.

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class structure. According to Bowles and Gintis, the school and the work place are alike in three crucial respects: they are hierarchical in their organization; they exact “alienated” labours for extrinsic rewards; and the work in which pupils and workmen alike are engaged is fragmented. Bourdieu has also argued that schooling has been very much instrumental in reproducing class structure in modern France. The neo-Marxists have argued that Marx and Engels are of a little help in understanding the working of education and ideology in the mainstream society. According to them, Marx and Engels’s notion of ideology obscures rather than clarifies. In a Famous aphorism in The German Ideology, they state that the ideas of the ruling class in every epoch are the ruling ideas; the ruling material force is the ruling intellectual force. But elsewhere they have argued that each class has its own distinctive ideology because of its peculiar economic circumstances. As argued in chapter 2, Lenin, while thinking of ideology in terms of class struggle, ascribed ideologies to all the classes, including the proletariat. Here, Lenin assumes that the proletariat class necessarily and inherently has its own distinct ideology and, thus, disqualifies the necessity of ideological strategy for revolution. Antonio Gramsci, E. P. Thompson and other neo-Marxists have undertaken major reformulations of the theory of class and class formation and objected to the economistic and reductionist accounts of class formation. Unlike Lenin, Gramsci does not presuppose the existence of class. For Gramsci, class comes into existence only when that class sees its role in terms of establishing its hegemony in the society. For Thompson, class is not a category already formed or available. For him, it is not a “category” or a “structure” but an event, “something which in fact happens” (and can be shown to have happened), in human relationships.” Elsewhere he wrote: When we speak of a class, we are thinking of a very loosely defined body of people who share the same congeries of interests, social experiences, tradition, and value system, who have a consciousness in relation to other groups of people in class ways...8

Thompson’s argument, unlike that of other orthodox Marxists, is that “class does not precede but arises out of struggle.” Classes are not continual effects of struggles, political, ideological as well as economic. For class to come into existence, he thinks, some men have to share common experience and articulate the identity of their interests as between 8

Apple 64.

Curriculum, Ideology and Pedagogy


themselves and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs.9 In short, the formation of class is determined by the location of that class in the economic structure and it is difficult to assume the process of class formation as “ineluctable” or “automatic”. The neo-Marxists have started analysing the education system more critically. They help us see how the newly arisen capitalist class in England manipulated education to prevent the working class from revolution. The political history of education in England in the wake of the Industrial Revolution reveals that, even after the Reformation, the ruling classes continued to deploy religion to depoliticise or neutralise the effect that modern education could potentially produce. The newly emerged bourgeoisie in England continued to make education more and more entangled with religion in the late eighteenth century. The credit for making education universal goes to the German religious reformer Martin Luther, who believed that every human being should be able to read The Bible by herself / himself.10 The Sunday School movement was initiated by Gloucester in 1780 and its basic purpose was to teach the children to read the Bible. It was thought that an educated populace would become aware of the wiles of the Pope. Such circumstances also compelled the then rulers to make education compulsory. The post-Industrial Revolution state increasingly brought education under its control by financing it and by determining its nature, content and structure. The pre-Industrial Revolution education system hardly bore any resemblance with the contemporary education in terms of structure, content and scope. Bowles and Gintis argue that prior to the nineteenth century, the main job of training young people was done by the family, occasionally supplanted by apprenticeship or the church. The role of the school was marginal in the process of child-rearing. 9

And class happens when some men as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs. The class experience is largely determined by the productive relations into which men are born – or enter involuntarily. Class-consciousness is the way in which these experiences are handled in cultural terms: embodied in traditions, value-systems, ideas, and institutional forms. —E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1965) 9-10. 10 Jayakumar Anagol Compulsory Primary Education: Opportunities and Challenges Pune: Indian School of Political Economy ND, p. 1.; Myron, Weiner. The Child and the State in India New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991, 79.


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Ideology and Colonial Education in India Ellen E. McDonald has rightly argued that one of the functions of education system everywhere has been the recruitment of an élite. Until the mass-education experiments of the twentieth century, highly educated members of major historical societies have been the chosen few. Modern education in colonial India also had to fulfill the need of providing personnel to the lower tiers of a rapidly sprawling-out colonial bureaucracy. McDonald also hints at the political function of higher education, which, according to him, was to set the highly educated apart from the common gentry.11 Challenging the old notion of education as the process of transmission of knowledge, the new theorists argue that education was not simply about the transmission of knowledge, but also shaping of character.12 Therefore, in the early nineteenth century, the problem of moral education received “immense importance” and “world-wide concern”. Gauri Viswanathan has shown how the formation of character in nineteenth century England was traditionally carried out through the medium of church-controlled educational institutions. She argues that a dual education system existed in England in the eighteenth century in order to support and perpetuate social stratification. The alliance of church and culture gave birth to the Sunday School movement and the Charity School movement. The dual educational system is explained thus: …the classical curriculum served to confirm the upper orders in their superior social status, religious instruction was given to the lower orders to

11 Ellen E. McDonald, “English Education and Social Reform in Nineteenth Century Bombay: A Case Study in the Transmission of a Cultural Ideal” The Journal of Asian Studies 25:3 (May, 1966) 543. 12 Apple; Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972; Middlerox: Penguine Books Ltd, 1974); Frank Musgrove, School and the Social Order, (Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 1979); Michael Young, and Geoff Whitty; Krishna Kumar, Political Agenda of Education: A Study of Colonialist and Nationalist Ideas (New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1991); Seth; Parmala V. Rao. “Women’s Education and the Nationalist Response in Western India: Part I—Basic Education.” Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 14.2 (2007): 307–16; Meera Kosambi, “A Window in the Prison-house: Women’s Education and Politics of Social Reform in Nineteenth Century Western India” History of Education (2000): 29:5, 429-42; Chandra Shefali. The Social Life of English: Language and Gender in Western India, 18501940. Diss. University of Pennsylvania. 2003.

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fit them for the various duties of life and to secure them I their appropriate station.13

Such structured and dual education system which inherently embodied support for the status quo continued to prevail in England till the beginning of the twentieth century. As late as in 1906, a Board of Education report in England, contrasting higher elementary with secondary schools, said: The two types of school prepare for different walks of life – the one for the lower ranks of industry and commerce, the other for the higher ranks and for the liberal professions.14

These secondary schools were soon to become “exclusive” elementary schools for the masses. In England, since the eighteenth century, classical humanist education had deliberately been given as an appropriate training for the vocation of ruling.15 Ellen E. McDonald has demonstrated that when England acquired India in the third decade of the nineteenth century, the existing education proved to be incapable of training the new élites, which could discharge their new roles. The curriculum in schools and colleges was changed to “weld effectively the spirit of the traditional humanism with the complex demands of business and politics and administration”.16 Terry Eagleton has shown that in the mid-nineteenth century religion, which was an extremely effective form of ideological control on the masses, began to lose its power. This “failure of religion”, which made the Victorian ruling class worried, was mended by introducing English literature in the curriculum. Domestication of the masses, the function that was hitherto entrusted to religion, was now entrusted to literature.17 By the mid-nineteenth century, the use of the religious texts to justify the existence of rich and poor was supplanted by the books which could advocate the same. The studies of McDonald and Eagleton, which were made much before the study undertaken by Gauri Viswanathan, show that the literary 13

Gauri Viswanathan, Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (1989; New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2000) 69. 14 Report quoted in Rubinstein 23. 15 McDonald 455. 16 McDonald 455. 17 Terry Eagleton, Literary Theory: An Introduction (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983) 23-4.


Chapter Six

curriculum in England had been undergoing change much before English literature was introduced in the Indian universities. Following McDonald and Eagleton, Viswanathan also concludes that the social control that English literature as moral study had on the Indian mind collapsed in the later phase of the colonial rule. She has cited John Murdoch, who had surveyed the effects of English education on Indian youth: Educated young men of the present day betray a want of gentleman-like bearing in their social intercourse with their superiors and elders, whether European and Native and that evil is growing one, and seems coincident with the general spread of education throughout the country.18

Bowles and Gintis have demonstrated that the ideology of the common school system in America, in which the same curriculum was offered to all children, was changed when large numbers of working class and immigrant children began attending high schools. The educational philosophers began to suggest a system of stratification within secondary education. Special curricula were developed for the children of working families. The academic curriculum was preserved for those who might later have the opportunity to make use of book learning either in college or in white-collar employment.19 The purpose of the Sunday School movement was not to teach the Christian doctrine as basis for a life of piety and morality. But, as Trygve R. Tholfsen exposes, the movement “was also a social institution, concerned with the education of working-class children in a period of rapid industrialization.”20 One of the objectives of this movement was to divert the children’s attention from the profane world to the spiritual world. The movement proclaimed Christian truth in opposition to the false values of “the world”. Biblical texts were invoked in support of the recurring theme: “Be not conformed to this world”, and “Love not the world.”21 The Schools taught the virtues that had long been integral to moral education including honesty, obedience, humility, diligence, purity of heart, gentleness, meekness, discipline, humbleness, servitude, etc. They also instructed the children against the vices like selfishness, theft, grovelling pleasure, debauchery, wantonness, etc. The monitorial system of education was also deployed as an effective and efficient means to 18

Viswanathan 163. Young and Whitty 213-4. 20 Tholfsen R. Trygve. “Moral Education in the Victorian Sunday School.” History of Education Society. 20:1, (Spring 1980): 78. 21 Tholfsen 78. 19

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spread moral and religious principles as well as “habits of diligence, industry… and most balances”22. M. A. Laird has made an elaborate statement about the dual education system, which prevailed in England in the late eighteenth century. Laird argues that the Charity School movement, like all organised schemes for education in England before the nineteenth century, had a strong religious basis: religious instruction held the most prominent place in the syllabus and the children were expected to attend church services regularly. The Charity Schools were designed for the lowest class of society and the curriculum in these schools was very limited and was appropriate for the needs and duties of that class. The Charity School was a political design to safeguard the interests of the middle and upper classes which had begun to feel themselves threatened by a revolutionary outbreak of urban education. Thompson’s analysis of the Methodist Sunday Schools shows that they destroyed the “ancient working-class culture” and imposed “an essentially middle-class morality”.23 The working class was subjected through schooling to an intense and effective ideological bombardment to which it had to succumb so abjectly. Michael Mann also has argued about the role of various educational movements in England in the similar fashion. According to him, the Methodists attracted England’s lower classes by promoting an emotional Christianity. They achieved domestication of the working class by projecting discipline as a means of achieving salvation and personally experienced Christianity. The political agenda of Evangelicism was to oppose French enlightened atheism and deism. Their moral attitudes had strong political implications. They drew many of their motifs from the antagonism to “Jacobinism” and the French Revolution and sought to prevent similar widespread unrest in England through a religions campaign to keep the lower classes in obedience and subordination. The underlying assumption was that an educational programme should support the social fabric of the state. People’s attachment to state institutions ensured the state’s security. Mann has shown that the educational policy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century India was deeply influenced by the Evangelicals’ ideology. Charles Grant and Wilberforce were Evangelical hardliners and they insisted on an overt civilizing programme for the religious and moral improvement of India.


Jana Tschurenev. Imperial Experiments in Education: Monitorial Schooling in India, 1789-1835. Diss. Berlin: Humboldt University, u.d., 64. 23 Musgrove 78.


Chapter Six

Critical Curriculum Theory / Critical Pedagogy Official curriculum documents in the form of syllabus and textbooks, among other materials, define the objectives and goals of education. They provide the basis or a major part of cultural knowledge and information for teaching and learning in schools. Basil Bernstein suggests how a society, selects, classifies, distributes, transmits and evaluates the educational knowledge it considers to be public, reflects both the distribution of power and the principles of social control. Since the school curriculum is a result of deliberate selection and organization of the cultural knowledge in the syllabus, textbook has been the significant issue in educational research. School curriculum is a means through which cultural knowledge is transmitted. Suresh Canagrajah has complained that though the critical curriculum theory (critical pedagogy) has become fashionable in many fields, in English Language Teaching (ELT) and language-teaching circles it has generally evoked much hostility. There are many reasons why ideological concerns are often ignored or suppressed in language teaching. Phillipson and Pennycook have argued that the formative discourses and practices are influenced by its roots in the colonial period. Colonial period suited ELT to define language and teaching as a value-free cognitive activity, since in that way its material and ideological interests in spreading English globally could be conveniently ignored. Canagrajah further points out that the dominant Enlightenment tradition in the west has also helped by providing a scientist and positivistic cast to ELT, and in encouraging its perception as an apolitical, technocratic and utilitarian enterprise. It is difficult to believe that selection or organisation of knowledge is objective and neutral and does not favour a particular group in society. A textbook happens to be the actual site of the construction, manipulation and reproduction of power and ideology. Textbooks are usually written with a view to transmitting the syllabi that are designed to cater to the needs of the contemporary dominant groups. Textbooks as teaching material are legitimised in the business of education on the assumption of political neutrality. Subjected to close scrutiny, however, this ideological neutrality and apolitical essence are easily stripped away. After the Industrial Revolution, education was brought under the strict vigilance of the state. Krishna Kumar says that most of the systems of education are vulnerable to becoming ideological tools. The ideological use of education as a means of disseminating information about styles of perceiving reality, which serves to cover up class interest, is a modern phenomenon. The

Curriculum, Ideology and Pedagogy


critical curriculum theory has exploded the myth that textbooks are valuefree. The colonial state realised the importance of textbook as a means of disseminating ideology among the subjects. Krishna Kumar asserts that the textbook was effectively used by the colonial rulers in India when the Indian response to the colonial rule developed its contradictions. Critical pedagogy as a discourse emerged as a response to the orthodox, economistic interpretation of school in the Marxist tradition. Paulo Friere, who was “the inaugural philosopher of critical pedagogy”, tried to develop the students’ ability to think critically. He argued that the banking concept of education, in which “a set of cognitive skills or a decontextualised body of knowledge divorced from learners’ lives” and the hidden curriculum perpetuate social hierarchy.

Moral Education under Colonialism in India The idea and need of providing moral education to the colonised was part of an imperial civilising mission. The issues of “moral decline” and “indiscipline” formed core concern in governmental discussions. Both the British administrative élite and missionaries like Lord Minto, Viceroy Curzon, Alexander Duff, the Reverend M. A. Sherring and their Indian counterpart like Justice Telang, Keshab Chander Sen and Madan Mohan Malviya were equally receptive to the “claim that the educated Indian was undergoing a moral crisis, and that some form or another of moral education was the required antidote”.24 As Krishna Kumar argues, the relationship between the colonialists and the Indian subjects was a kind of adult-child relationship. The coloniser took the role of the adult, and the native became the child. Education was used by the colonisers to regulate the “ways of acting and thinking”. Education played an important role in the creation of a “civil society”, which was, Kumar argues, a complex idea, constituting elements of several different kinds–“liberal economic and political doctrine, paternalism and evangelicism”. Ignorance of the natives in the different classes of society was seen as a threat to the colonial rule. Branding the natives as uncivilised and involved in the “crimes of perjury and forgery”, Lord Minto, Governor General from 1807 to 1812, wrote in 1811: It has been suggested, and apparently not without foundation, that to this uncultivated state of the minds of the natives is to be ascribed the prevalence of those crimes which were recently so great a scourge of the country. The later offences against the peace and happiness of society have 24

Seth 47-8.


Chapter Six indeed for the present been materially checked by the vigilance and energy of the police, but it is probably only by the more general diffusion of knowledge among the great body of the people that the seeds these evils can be effectively destroyed.25

What is interesting in this Minute is the moral role of education in facilitating colonial administration. A century later, Minto’s view echoed in the speech of Butler, who delivered a speech at the Imperial Legislative Assembly in 1911: “the ignorance of the people was subversive to good government and conducive to crime.”26 This view was expressed explicitly in Wood’s Educational Dispatch of 1854. Wood stressed that English language was to be employed to achieve “probity” among the native subordinate servants to whom the Company could then “with increased confidence commit offices of trust.” Krishna Kumar has shown that the notion of order was central to all areas of administration, including education. Eighteenth century England was preoccupied with the notion of “order” and “private property”. Considerable extent of poverty in the eighteenth century English society made the aristocrat treat the poor as a “dangerous mass”. Many studies show that the curriculum in Indian universities in the colonial era was dominated by the moral and social sciences.27 Students were forced to turn for alternatives not to natural or physical sciences but to moral sciences. David Newsome’s study shows Thomas Arnold’s influence on the educational thought of Victorian England. Arnold was largely responsible for giving religious orientation to education in England at a time when education was undergoing a process of secularisation. According to Arnold, education and religion were really two aspects of the same thing – a system of instruction towards moral perfection.28 The education policy in nineteenth century India was deeply influenced by debates, which were taking place in contemporary England. In Western India, Mountstuart Elphinstone, George Jervis, John Malcolm and Sir Erskine Perry were the important administrators who shaped the policy on language and education. Though these administrators differed on issues like medium of instruction, they shared the utilitarian notion of education. Education was essentially a disciplinary project for them.


Kumar 27. Kumar 28. 27 Ellen; Viswanathan; Seth. 28 David Newsome, Godliness and Good Learning: Four Studies on a Victorian Ideal (London: John Murray, 1961) 2. 26

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Some of the missionaries as well as Anglicists shared the notion that their responsibility of civilizing Indians could be fulfilled by providing them with religious education. Charles Grant, the Rev. Alexander Duff 29 and T. B. Macaulay 30 shared the notion that English education was to be used to civilise the Indians. Duff has affirmed that all those who received the Government education would become “infidels and anarchists”31 Assuming that the lower castes were devoid of morality, Elphinstone even thought of producing a few tracts containing “prudential maxims” which, he thought, were “most important to the poor, and which… [were] least known in India”. This recommendation of Elphinstone conforms to the domestication of the subjects, one of the political functions that modern education was entrusted with. Just as the ruling class in England and colonisers in India realised the importance of the moral role of education in bringing the poor under control, the native élite in India also recognised its importance. As new social configuration was emerging as an inevitable consequence of the colonial contact with India, it became essential for the upper caste élite to control the lower castes. 29

If in that land you do give people knowledge without religion, rest assured it is the gravest blunder, politically speaking, that ever was committed. Having free unrestricted access to the whole range of English literature and science, they will despise and reject their own system, they will undoubtedly become infidels in religion. And shaken out of the mechanical routine of their own religious observances, without moral principle to balance their thoughts or guide their movements, they will as certainly become discontented, restless agitators, ambitious of power and official distinction, and possessed of the most disloyal sentiments towards that Government, which in their eyes has usurped all the authority that rightfully belonged to themselves. —Benton, A. H. Indian Moral Instruction and Caste Problems (New Delhi: Classical Publications, 1978) reprint 46-7. 30 Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. We find it difficult–indeed in some places impossible–to provide instruction for all who want it. At the single town of Hoogly, fourteen hundred boys are learning English. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an English education, ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. Some continue to profess it as a matter of policy; but many profess themselves pure Deists and some imbrace Christianity. It is my firm belief that, if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolater among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be affected without any effort to proselytise; merely by the natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the prospect. —Benton 45. 31 Benton 47.


Chapter Six

The educational campaign initiated by an Indian like Keshav Chandra Sen in Bengal also was in accordance with the conventional practices in caste system. He devised the differentiated notion of education for the lower and the upper castes-classes. Sen’s organisation worked with the idea to educate labouring classes in industrial arts. Hence, a working men’s institution and an industrial school were established in 1870. The workers were given scope to develop creative hobbies and stay away from intoxication, idleness and undesirable company. The Industrial School consisted of six departments: carpentry, tailoring, clock and watch repairing, printing lithography and engraving.32 According to this scheme, more laborious and less intellectual work/training was to be given to the lower castes and the training in craft was to be given to the upper castes so as to enable the latter to become artisans, traders and industrialists. This discriminating notion of education was to facilitate the conversion of castes into classes without losing their hierarchical nature. Such a kind of division was to perpetuate the discriminatory practice in the changed situation.

Moral Education and Vernacular Textbooks in Western India Regular instruction in moral and religious precepts is necessary in all schools, but at present it can be safely left to the numerous Hardasses, Puraniks, Samajists, Bhajanis, and other professional religious teachers among the Hindus, as also among the Musalmans, and other sects. When the people themselves are able to take care of their own education, they will, no doubt, establish regular religious classes in their schools.33 —Justice M. G. Ranade

The Anglicists had declared their agenda of civilisational mission in the late eighteenth century. The Anglicists like Charles Grant wanted the moral and social regeneration of India through assimilation of European ideas and knowledge. Many Anglicists, under the influence of Utilitarianism, had assumed that England represented a higher civilisation and had a moral mission to perform. The vernacularists did not differ from the Anglicists on this issue. In the early phase of the nineteenth century, the colonial educational planners 32

Jamuna Nag, Social Reform Movement in Nineteenth Century India (Jaipur: RBSA Publishers, 1988) 44-5. 33 M. G. Ranade. Miscellaneous Writings of the Late Hon’ble Mr. Justice M. G. Ranade. Ramabai Ranade. Ed. (1915; New Delhi: Sahitya Akadami, 1992) 288.

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based education on moral footing. The educational tracts published in this phase included many moralising texts – mostly translated from English and Sanskrit. According to Ellen McDonald, niti literature probably had a relatively wide circulation, since it supplied the educational texts of the day. Proposals for moral textbooks in various languages flourished during this period. Many English textbooks on moral issues were already in use, such as Todd’s Student’s Manual, Murdoch’s Indian Student’s Manual and My Duties, Roper Lethbridge’s A Moral Reader from English and Oriental Sources and Waldergraves’s Handbook of Moral Lessons.34 The trajectory that the printed Marathi book had to travel was not so simple. The early Marathi books were first printed by the missionaries in Bengal. The newly educated élite in MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ had been sceptical about the printed books.35 The editor of the DigdarĞan, one of the leading and pioneering journals of that time, had to declare in 1840 that they used vegetable oil and not cow fat in the ink. It shows how the coming of the printed book, which was one of the harbingers of modernity, was unwelcomed by the élite. Assuming this, Elphinstone had to author a new policy with certain tactics like circulating printed books free in order to bring them into use. The foreignness of the books could be reduced by presenting moral issues in them. This insistence on moral literature was actualised by producing books like HitopadeĞ, PancopƗkhyƗn, Vidurniti, etc. G. B. Sardar documented twenty four books, which were published up to 1874 to propagate morality.36 M. G. Ranade mentioned 33 books on morality listed in the catalogue of books published up to 1864. He failed to realise how the production of moral literature was an important exercise for the colonial rule. He wrote: “None of these possess any great merit, except, of course, the old system of morality respectively styled Vidurniti and NƗradniti.”37 Gangadhar Morje has documented in Marathi DolƗmudrite forty nine books on the issues relating to morality, ethics,


Seth 54. The English educated élite was reluctant to read the printed Marathi books as they thought that cow fat was used in the ink used for printing. Raosahed Mandlik used to prefer handwritten pothi (religious scripture) to the printed version of the same. G. R. Havaldar, RƗvsƗheb Man‫ڲ‬lik YƗnce Caritra – Part I (Bombay: Havaldar, 1927) 277. 36 G. B. Sardar, Marathi GadyƗcƯ Purvapi‫ܒ‬hƯkƗ (1937; Pune: Kamalabai Bhide, 1971) 55-6. 37 Ranade 3. 35


Chapter Six

etc.38 It is needless to say that many of these books were produced for the children in the government schools. According to Elphinstone’s policy, no religious instruction was to be given in schools and, consequently, the teaching of morals received special attention.39 He regarded education as the duty of the government though it was not to be universalised. What lay at the root of this position was the assumption that the Indians were uncivilised and only modern education could civilise them. He supported the cause of education because it was to achieve moral influence. In his report, which he wrote on leaving the Deccan in 1819, he declared that there was no way “to improve the morals of the people, except by improving their education.”40 The texts were to be taken as far as possible from the rich literature of India. The first publication of this type was an adaptation of the famous Vidurniti. M. G. Ranade was all praise for the books which were aimed at teaching moral lessons: “They represent the highest moral and economic notions of the people on these subjects, and take the shape of their systematic works.”41 As the colonial state was opposed to imparting religious education through schools, Elphinstone had deliberately kept the missionaries at bay and had not encouraged them to intervene in education. He also emphasised that the Bombay Education Society should take every care so that “neither any religion nor any topic [in the syllabus / textbook] likely to arouse discontent among the natives”. Their exclusion was to be compensated by introducing moral education. Thus, the responsibility of indoctrination through education was entrusted to moral education. The need of textbook was felt in the early nineteenth century in order to achieve “mental improvement”. Assuming that the populace required moral training, the vernacular textbooks to be printed were supposed to be “containing those prudential maxims which are most important to the poor


Gangadhar Morje, Ed. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ DolƗmudrite. (Panaji: Gomantak Marathi Akadami, 1995) 356-8. 39 The issue of moral education and religious education continue to strike the educational commissions and committees till the mid-twentieth century. Some members argued that moral education should be enmeshed into religious education; whereas, others argued that “moral education should be divorced from religious sanctions. —Benton 5-6. 40 Kenneth Ballhatchet, Social Policy and Social Change in Western India 18171830. (1957, London: Oxford U P, 1961) 250. 41 Ranade 3.

Curriculum, Ideology and Pedagogy


and which are least known in India”.42 Elphinstone had warned that criticism of customs like infant marriage and expensive caste ceremonies should be introduced as delicately as possible. As the function of civilising the natives was to be fulfilled through education, the educational administrators were very much conscious of the moral training of the children. Therefore, moral literature occupied a significant place in the early curricular textbooks in Marathi. Vidurniti, printed in 1828, was one of the early printed texts devoted to morality. The Vidurniti stresses the practical side of morality. In Vidurniti, Vidura delivers a discourse on moral principles. Moral virtue and purity of heart are of greater value than wealth of pleasure. A good life earns reward in this life and in the life hereafter. Those who do good work, avoid bad deeds, abhor atheism, have faith in a future life and the divine authority of the Vedas and Puranas were considered to be wise in Vidurniti. Vidurniti was followed by a variety of similar books. The moral teaching was often given in story form or in question-answer form. Some of the books were translations. Conclusions were drawn from man’s rational nature; the importance of the conscience was stressed, and the universal testimony of mankind was alluded to. All these books were prepared for schools and adapted to the capacity of the pupils. The translation project undertaken by the colonial state was not an apolitical or amoral enterprise. The scientific books, which were so diligently translated by Hari Keshavji (1804-1858) and others, did not sell well.43 Translations of moral tales fared better than scientific tales. Kashinath Sadashiv Chhatre (1788-1830) translated Croxall’s Aesop’s Fables, which was published in 1828. Chhatre’s translation was rewarded by the government with two thousand rupees. Chhatre had made necessary changes like altering the names of characters and ancient Greek Gods into their Hindu counterparts. This was done perhaps with a view to facilitating the Indianisation of Western morality. Major Candy objected to these changes and edited the text. Candy justified his position thus: I have struck out a few of the fables which are in the edition of 1847, as coming under the rules given for my guidance by the Board..., I have modified a few more, I have amended tatparya or moral of several, and I have carefully corrected all with respect to idiom and grammar....Where Esop had given the names of ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses, the translator had substituted those of Hindoo Gods and Goddesses. As Esop 42

Ballahatchet 262. Sunil Sawant. The American Novel in Marathi: A Study in Translation Culture. Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur, 2001, 42. 43

Chapter Six


knew nothing of the latter and the insertion of their names in fables ascribed to him is an absurdity, I have resorted the ancient names.44

It is interesting to note that many other texts which were altered to make them more adaptable to the Indian situation were not challenged.45 Hari Keshavaji translated Mrs. Marcet’s Conversations in Natural Philosophy as SiddhapadƗrthavidnyƗnĞastravi‫܈‬ayak SaۨvƗd. For example, Hari Keshavaji translated Mrs. Marcet’s Conversations in Natural Philosophy as SiddhapadƗrthavidnyƗnĞƗstraviĞayak SaۨvƗd. Keshavaji changed many sentences in order to Indianise them. This book also was viewed to be useful to “improve the native mind and free it from error and prejudice in many subjects connected with physical science.”46 However, the changes, which Candy suggested in the Marathi books so frequently, were not accepted by the native intelligentsia always. Occasionally, they registered their discontent against Candy’s intervention and, occasionally, succeeded in forcing Candy to recede from his position. One such instance of this kind of negotiation is seen in case of S. K. Chhatre’s BƗlmitra. Balaji Pandurang Bhalerao had complained against Candy’s meddling in Chhatre’s text and argued that the readers detested the changes made by Candy and demanded that the original be continued: When I say that all the lovers of the Murathee language prefer the old editions of BƗlmitra and EsƗpniti to the new ones revised by Major Candy, I am stating the fact. 47

In 1848, Candy published a translation of another treatise on morality entitled Principles of Morality written by T. Z. Eizdale. In this book Eizdale has discussed the duties of man towards God: To sum up these stories, there should be firm belief in God. We should fear Him. We should love Him. We should pray him. We should trust Him. We should pursue him. We should respect His name. We should spend our life in worshipping Him. These are duties we owe to God.48

44 Candy quoted in K. B. Kulkarni, Ɩdhunik Marathi GadyƗcƯ UtkrƗntƯ (Mumbai: K. B. Kulkarni) 151. 45 Sawant 42. 46 Kulkarni, 243. 47 Srinivas Madhusudan Pinge, YuropiyanƗncƗ MarathicƗ AbhyƗs Va SevƗ (Mumbai: Marathi Sanshodhan Mandal, 1960) 202. 48 Pinge 188.

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In this book, Eizdale wrote about the duties of the human beings towards God. Some of the other statements made in the book are: Pride is sin. It is an abode of foolishness and fear.49 For the proper management of feeling and perspective on spirit, the virtue one requires is poverty.50 One should remain contented with one’s own lot, which is given by God. Desire and greed for the higher degree are the vices.51 The duties and responsibilities that the servants to their masters and that of the husbands to their wives should not be disregarded.52 The servants should obey the commands of their masters. They should be truthful to their masters. They should work hard. They should tolerate the wrath of their master and mend their mistakes.53 Husband’s duty is to provide food and cloth to wife and wife’s duty is to be obedient to him.54

At the behest of the Board of Education, Candy published in 1850 a book entitled VƗcanpƗ‫ܒ‬hmƗlƗ, which contained stories translated from English.55 Candy translated in 1856 another book entitled Niti BodhkathƗ. In this book, the writer attempted to inculcate the virtues like obedience, love for knowledge, fruits of knowledge, labour, truthfulness, etc. All the three books – Principles of Morality, VƗchanpƗ‫ܒ‬hmƗlƗ and NitibodhkathƗ, exhibit the writers’ preoccupation with the principle of truthfulness.56 While commenting on the purpose of moral literature in England, David Newsome writes that the Evangelicals in England had instilled in the students “fierce regard for truth”. The rampant prevalence of falsehood in the students was seen as a most dangerous sign. Arnold thought that falsehood was the disease, which would spoil the boys.57 Though the curriculum in Elphinstone College was relatively more advanced and inclined more towards natural science and Western philosophy, it could not escape the compulsion of moral education. Moral 49

Eizdale 16. Eizdale 17. 51 Eizdale 18. 52 Eizdale 37. 53 Eizdale 41-2. 54 Eizdale 42-3. 55 Candy, Major. VƗcanpƗ‫ܒ‬hmƗlƗ (Pune: Naroramchandra Thakar, 1850). 56 VƗcanpƗ‫ܒ‬hmƗlƗ contains a story entiled “Khote Bol৆ƗrƗ MulagƗ Ɩni Khare Bol৆ƗrƗ MulagƗ TyƗnca Bhed” (Difference Between a Truthful Boy and Untruthful Boy”). NitibodhkathƗ contains a story entitled “Kharepa৆Ɨ Ani PrƗmƗ৆ikpa৆Ɨ” (Truthfulness and Sincerity). 57 Newsome 46. 50


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instruction was one of the courses, among which included Writing and Grammar, Geography, History, English Composition, Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry and Book Keeping. The contents of the course include: 1. Two or three books of moral stories, in easy language for junior scholars. 2. A compilation of moral precepts to be learnt by heart. 3. A catechism of moral duties. 4. A treatise on the duties of man, in the various relations of life, as child, parent, brother, husband, master, servant, subject and neighbor. It should not be written in a dry and scholastic style, but familiarly, and illustrated with examples and anecdotes.58

British policy makers had not envisaged a role of political leadership for the educated Indians. Therefore, the curriculum planned for the Indians was bound to be in conformity with the colonial exigency. The Bombay University curriculum had heavy stress laid upon classical languages and literature, classical history and mathematics. McDonald rightly argues that the paucity of science course in the Bombay University curriculum resembles markedly “the curriculum associated with the same name of that remarkable Victorian educator, Thomas Arnold.” When an enquiry was carried out to ascertain whether the indigenous schools were carrying out the function of cultivating moral and intellectual culture, which the people were supposed to possess, it was found that the state of moral teaching was very “depressed and limited.”59 Such a finding established a need for undertaking a programme of designing a new syllabus for the vernacular classes. Syllabus became a mediating site through which the civilisational mission was to be pursued. The agenda of primary education through the vernacular languages became a political programme charged with the ideological function of imparting certain moral and intellectual message to the students. The Sanskrit College was endowed with an important function of the production of a series of vernacular textbooks which were to be aimed at imparting “a degree of moral and intellectual training” to the body of the people and to lay a foundation of vernacular literature to be made. This literature was to become “ultimately an improved vernacular literature”.60 To sum up, the colonial state decided to educate the Indians when education to all was not high on agenda in England. As the new bourgeois 58

Regulations of the Elphinstone Native Education Institution. (Bombay: The Imperial Press, u.d.), 5. 59 MSA, GD, Vol. - 24-A/749-A, 1843, 76. 60 MSA, GD, Vol. - 24-A/749-A, 1843, 77.

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state in England manipulated the working class consciousness by manufacturing consent through moral education, the colonial state in India also, by harnessing education system, tried to domesticate and, thereby, disarm the neo-literate by disseminating a certain kind of morality in them. The neo-literate had to be dissociated from the masses and, at the same time, they also had to be made amicable to the colonial state. This could have been achieved more effectively by manipulating not the curriculum of the universities but that of the school, which could potentially indoctrinate a wider section of the society. More than the university, the school was deeply involved in the reproduction of the contested casteclass relations and the reproduction of gender61, making the creation of counter hegemonic apparatuses difficult.


Dilip Chavan, “Teach Her to Tame Her: Gender in Indian Curriculum” StrƯ AdhyanƗtil SadyakalƯn Drush‫ܒ‬ikon (Aurangabad: Stri Abhyas Kendra, 2006) 88101.


The small minority of English-knowing is back again and firmly in the saddle and nothing except a revolution can remove it.1 —Rammanohar Lohia

During the last three or four decades, a great deal of discussion has taken place about the underdevelopment of the third world countries. Scholars also broadly agree to the view that the present underdevelopment of the erstwhile colonies is largely a consequence of colonial exploitation. There is also a consensus among the scholars on the view that every aspect of a postcolonial society—economic, social political, historical and ideological—should be studied in terms of the historical background of colonialism. One of the limitations of the earlier discourses on colonialism is that they treat colonialism essentially as a type of economic drain and neglect the cultural-ideological apparatuses used in the establishment and perpetuation of the colonial rule. Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Partha Chattarjee and the subaltern studies group have discussed the cultural aspects of colonialism. Many intellectual debates today begin with a critique of Orientalism. Many disciplines from history to women’s studies have been considerably benefited from the debates generated by the postcolonial school. The Saidian thesis has recently come under scrutiny and such critical studies see the Orientalist discourses shaping out of local considerations as well. Said’s line of thought has been subjected to criticism by the critics like Thomas Trautmann and Aijaz Ahmad. As Orientlalism essentialised and homogenised the “Oriental” other, these critics also hold Said guilty of the essentialism and homogenisation. However, both Marxist and postcolonial scholarship refuses to see how colonialism was essentially collaborative. It is argued in this book that the language and educational policies in the colonial era were essentially a product of the combined interests of the colonial rulers 1

Badri Raina “A Note on Language and the Politics of English in India” Ed. Svati Joshi, Rethinking English: Essays in Literature, Language, History (New Delhi: Trianka, 1991) 294.



and their indigenous allies. Both the postcolonial and Marxist scholars have failed to understand how colonialism gave a new lease of life to caste. By using the Gramscian notion of hegemony and Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital, it has been argued here that the upper castes attempted hard to occupy the liberal space created by the colonial rule. Manipulating the discourse on language and education was necessary for this class to hegemonise its position in the changed situation. Since its introduction, English education in India has been synonymous with power, status, privilege, and the means to upward mobility. The persistence of the importance of English in contemporary India can only be explained through the story of its early rooting in the very fabric of colonised life. An attempt has been made in the third chapter of this book to chart some of the pressures within the historical process that consolidated the formation of English education in colonial Western India. It has been argued that English education in colonial India was not an imposition as there already was a demand for English during the 1830s, that is, even before Macaulay’s Minute was introduced. In his analysis of the cultural processes behind the formation of the standardised languages and literature in colonial India, Bernard Cohn argues that the British in India conquered not only territorial but epistemological space through their scholarship. The command of language became the language of command. Anindita Ghosh rightly critiques Cohn that this process involved a method of textual and linguistic reconstruction by the application of Western standards. Cohn’s argument that cultural-linguistic strategies of the colonial power were inevitably linked with power, inadequately describes the cultural-linguistic processes involved in the establishment of the colonial rule. While commenting on the role of the indigenous agency in the “British mastering Indian languages”, Anindita Ghosh has argued that the linguists and bilingual intelligentsia in Calcutta played an important role in moulding “European perception of Indian linguistic tradition and tastes.”2 Modhumita Roy has challenged some of the basic presuppositions of Gauri Viswanathan’s thesis. Vishwanathan’s argument that “consent” was created before political control and English literary studies had become an “instrument of discipline and management” to counteract the possibility of “imminent rebellion and resistance” has been contested.3 2

Anindita Ghosh. Power in Print: Popular Publishing and the Politics of Language and Culture in a Colonial Society. New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2006, 47. 3 Modhumita Roy writes: First, English as the official language of British India was introduced after much of the territory that came under British suzerainty had already been


Chapter Seven

Roy argues that in a subcontinent marked by massive illiteracy, the idea of social control through education is a puzzling proposition.4 Chandra Shefali has also criticised Viswanathan, for the latter does not discuss the manner in which the colonial categories were adapted by the “very social classes created by this specific history.”5 In the nineteenth century, Marathi had become the site of contestation for a group with wider political aspirations and the group consisted of colonial and indigenous members. Both the parties—the colonial administrators of language and the indigenous grammarians—assumed Marathi to be a derivative of Sanskrit.6 It is argued in this book that the attempts of both the colonial administrators like Major Candy and Colonel Jervis and the indigenous grammarians like Dadoba achieved further standardisation of Marathi, reducing the possibility of the subaltern groups’ access to it and confiscating their authority. Dadoba condemned the use of the language in the Sashti region or by the illiterate as “dirty” and, basing his grammar on the “language as spoken by scholars and politicians of the Poona District”, admired the use of language by the

consolidated via military conquest, and by a network of treaties and alliances between the East India Company and various ruling régimes (including the caste zamindari element). Second, the importance of English (and not an English literary syllabus) among certain sections of the Indian population, who were less concerned with British culture and more with simply seeking employment, predates the institution of any specific literary curriculum. Third, the educated classes remained bitterly divided over the efficacy of “Western” ideas. While a few surely began to emulate the British in dress, speech, and social customs, and some welcomed the language as a “window on the world” and therefore advocated the teaching of English, many remained obdurately opposed to it, often colluding with conservatism and revivalism of the most destructive sort. —Modhumita Roy ““Englishing” India: Reinstituting Class and Social Privilege” Social Text 39 (1994) 84-5. 4 Roy 85. 5 Chandra Shefali, The Social Life of English: Language and Gender in Western India, 1850-1940. Diss. U of Pennsylvania, 2003, 12. Downloaded from 3095867 on 4-11-2008. 6 K. S. Arjunwadkar, Marathi VyƗkara۬ƗcƗ ItihƗs (Mumbai: Mumbai Vishwavidyalaya and Pune: Dyanmudra, 1992). For example, Krishnashastri Godbole and Gangadhar Shastri Phadake, two of the nineteenth century grammarians of Matathi held that Marathi, along with other languages, descended from Sanskrit. Krishnashastri Godbole, Marathi Bha‫܈‬ece NavƯn VyƗkara۬ (1867, Mumbai: Ganpat Krishnaji 1874) I; Gangadhar Shastri Phadake, MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra Bha‫܈‬ece Vyakaran (Mumbai: Education Society) 1836.



educated as “pure”.7 Dadoba’s grammar and Molsworth’s dictionary, after frequent revisions, remained in use in government schools officially for more than half a century and, thereby, contributed substantially to linguistic tools to standardise written prose. An attempt has been made in this book to map the cultural-linguistic processes initiated by colonial rule and the way the indigenous élite reacted to them to create an identity and space for themselves in the society, the hierarchical structure of which had begun to change under colonial compulsion. Though postcolonialism influenced many disciplines, linguistics remained largely uninfluenced by the postcolonial scholarship. This relative isolation of linguistics from the postcolonial scholarship can be attributed to the dominance of the Western linguists in the domain of linguistics. The predominance of descriptive linguistics also contributed to the development of this apolitical view. Situating language politics in the context of social hierarchy enmeshed in caste, this work argues that the upper-caste élite moulded the dominant discourse on language. Probal Dasgupta argues that the grammarian as a language manager helps “safeguard the careful elite tradition by transmitting codified standards through the educational system and reproducing the hegemony of the old standards effectively.”8 The development of modern Marathi is also marked by certain hegemonic practices. Scholars like Bhalchandra Nemade9 and K. S. Arjunwadkar10 have discussed the Western influences on Marathi language and Marathi grammar respectively. However, it has been argued here that Sanskrit, along with English, remained a dominant force, which influenced as well as shaped modern Marathi. There was a deliberate effort on the part of the grammarians of Marathi to model Marathi grammar and usage on their Sanskrit counterparts. Many of them assumed that Marathi was essentially a derivative of Sanskrit. Around mid-nineteenth century, a new generation of élite, manipulating literary production in the vernacular, had surfaced the cultural scene in the Pune-Bombay region. The biographical data on nineteenth century Marathi authors compiled by Govind Chimanaji Bhate shows that these 7

Arjunwadkar, K. S., Marathi VyƗkara۬a: VƗd Ɨni PravƗd (Pune: Sulekha Prakashan, 1986) 47. 8 Probal Dasgupta, Projective Syntax: Theory and Applications (Pune: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, 1989) 137. 9 Bhalchandra Nemade, The Influence of English on Marathi: A Sociolinguistic and Stylistic Study (Panaji: Prabhakar Bhide, 1990). 10 K. S. Arjunwadkar, Marathi VyƗkara۬ƗcƗ ItihƗs (Mumbai: Mumbai Vishwavidyalaya and Pune: Dyanmudra, 1992).


Chapter Seven

authors came predominantly from the traditional high Hindu scribal castes. Of some 128 nineteenth century vernacular authors listed by Bhate indicate that 114 were Brahmins, 10 were from the scribal Prabhu castes, and 4 represented castes outside the traditionally literate groups. Out of the brahmins, some 74 were CitpƗvans and 9 were deĞasthas, with lesser numbers from the non-brahmin castes. Such a kind of dominance in the cultural sphere made possible by standardised language diminished the possibility of democratisation of knowledge through the printed word. Another argument in this book is that the assumption that education through mother tongue can help eradicate discrimination in language and education is very naïve and unmindful of the inherent plurality / hierarchy enmeshed in the regional languages. Since different groups in a society are unequal in terms of the possession of the linguistic and symbolic capital, it is unwise to believe that they are benefited equally from the educational system. Hans R. Dua rightly argues that the more the language of a group is different from the school language and the more the group is culturally alien from the culture transmitted by the school, the more it is deprived of the benefits of education.11 The overemphasis on the standard forms of language in the school curricula proves to be debilitating to the students coming from the non-standard language speaking background. As Bernstein has argued, schooling rewards the formal language and, therefore, middle-class children tend to perform better than working class children in school.12 The existing language textbooks are prepared with a view to providing more drilling in the correct forms of standard language. Lacchman Khubchandani observes that the acquisition of literacy in languages like Marathi for such students has become more like learning a second language. Khubchandani pertinently observes that, during the struggle for independence, the politicisation of the language issue in India dominated the medium controversy, pushing into the background the ideological issue concerning the content of education. The issue of the content of education was used by both the revivalists like Dayanand Saraswati and the liberals like M. K. Gandhi to absorb the ideological intervention that the British education could potentially achieve in the caste-feudal structure of the Indian society. However, it cannot be denied that colonial education was geared to the pursuit of colonial interests. It was aimed at a creation of the subservient 11

Hans R. Dua, Hegemony of English (Mysore: Yashoda Publications, 1994) 52. Freances Christie. “Introduction.” Pedagogy and the Shaping of the Consciousness: Linguistic and Social Processes. Frances Christie. Ed. (London: Continuum, 2000) 3.




citizenry by consisting of individuals socialised into colonial values. However, given that a minuscule class of élites was taking higher education, it can be doubted whether canonical literary texts, which were prescribed in the university syllabi, could achieve the function of wider socialisation. The teaching of the English language as a means of civilisational mission and translation of moral texts for the children, which the colonial rulers found serviceable to fortify the fragile nature of their rule, predate the introduction of European canonical texts in the university syllabi. Moreover, moral textbooks were written for the school children, who were greater in number than the university students. These books were accessible even to the wider literate society and, therefore, impinged on the lives of a larger section of population. Language textbooks in general and English language textbooks in particular in post-independent India have continued to perform the function of indoctrination. Textbook, which is the “single most defining resource available to the teacher or the student”, has been increasingly brought under the control of the modern state. In the absence of other support structures “textbook becomes the sole arbiter of what is worth knowing.”13 Thus, the textbook becomes a vehicle that transmits cultural values, beliefs and moral maxims. Many proponents of critical pedagogy, like Canagrajah,14 Pennycook,15 Cameron16 and Holborow have criticised the traditional view of English Language Teaching (ELT) and have accused it of “helping to maintain unequal core-periphery relations in the capitalist world-economy, and of suppressing diversity of language and thought in the world.” According to Shalini Advani, ELT textbooks focus more on “the moral purpose than the specifics of language acquisition.” Considering the complex sociocultural and political aspects of the ELT textbooks, critical pedagogy becomes the vital essence of teaching. 17

13 Shalini Advani. “Pedagogy and Politics: The Case of English Textbooks.” Education and Democracy in India. Anne Vaugier-Chatterjee Ed. (New Delhi: Manohar) 103. 14 A. Suresh Canagrajah. Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. (1999; Oxford: Oxford U P, 2000). 15 Alstair Pennycook, English and the Discourses of Colonialism (London: Routledge, 1998). 16 Deborah Cameron “Globalization and the Teaching of Communication Skills” in David Block and Deborah Cameron Eds. Globalization and Language Teaching (London: Routledge, 2002). 17 Marnie Holborow, The Politics of English: A Marxist View of Language (London: Sage Publications Ltd., 1999).


Chapter Seven

This validates that English has remained with India as a part of postcolonial heritage. Despite the attempt on the part of the state to popularise English through stringent measures, English has remained the prerogative of a select few. One of the inevitable consequences of the middle class people for whom learning English has remained a distant dream. According to the 1991 census, only 9 per cent of the Indians—which translate into 90 million people—know English as a first, second or third language. The spread of English in post-independent India was the result of a deliberate attempt on the part of the indigenous ruling class and the imperialist forces. Robert Phillipson has explained the role of the US agencies in the promotion of ELT. By presenting less known documents for wider scrutiny, he argues, the Ford Foundation had projects from 1950s onwards in thirty-eight countries. The Foundation funded Applied Linguistics research centres and its Fulbright programme also contributed substantially to the spread of English. The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad (previously, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad),though officially it was under the Central Government, used to receive huge funds from both the Ford Foundation (US) and the British Council (UK). The Ford Foundation, for example, spent $10,42,000 on the English and Foreign Languages University during 1958-69. While restricting the spread of English education and standardising various vernaculars, the political élite in post-independent India patronised Sanskrit education. The revival of cultural hegemony necessitated the revival of the traditional symbols such as Sanskrit. The first national language commission (1956) established amid the intense linguistic strife in the early postindependent India was for the study of Sanskrit. Supporters of Sanskrit wanted Sanskrit to be revived. Cherishing such an idea indicates the upper-caste aspiration of acquiring a hegemonic role in modern India. The revival of Sanskrit was a symbolic act which had to guarantee and legitimise the continuation of the hegemony of the upper caste-class in the changed socio-cultural spheres.


A) Manuscript Sources I) MahƗrƗৢ৬ra State Archives, Mumbai MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra State Archives, General Department, [henceforth MSA, GD] Vol.- 9/10, 1821-22. MSA, GD, Vol.-50/55, 1823. MSA, GD, Vol.-63, 1824. MSA, GD, Vol.-10/163, 1828. MSA, GD, Vol.-6/183, 1829. MSA, GD, Vol.-10/255, 1832. MSA, GD, Vol.-17/349, 1836. MSA, GD, Vol.-15/385, 1837. MSA, GD, Vol.-24/394, 1837. MSA, GD, Vol.-39/409, 1837. MSA. GD. Vol.-24/394, 1837. MSA, GD, Vol.-13/530, 1840. MSA, GD, Vol.-540, 1840. MSA, GD, Vol.-24-A / 749-A, 1843. MSA, GD, Vol.-26, 1850. MSA, GD, Vol.-29, 1850. MSA, GD, Vol.-12, 1851. MSA, Political Department Diary, 482. II) Director of Education Archives, Pune (DEAP) Copy of Dispatch from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor General of India in Council, dated July 19th, 1854. Poona Sanskrit College, Vol.-17, 1847-48. Poona College 1966-67, Vol.-XII. Poona College Report 1866-67. Vol.-XII. Board of Education 1846 Vol.-I.

B) Reports Report of the Board of Education (henceforth RBE)1840-41, Bombay: American Mission Press, 1842. RBE for the Year 1845. Bombay: Government Printing Office, 1846.



Report of the Bombay Education Society for the Year 1845. Bombay: Government Printing Office.1846. RBE for the Years 1847 and 1848. Bombay: American Marathi Mission, 1850. RBE for the Year 1849 Vol.-VIII. Bombay: Bombay Education Society’s Press, 1851. RBE for the Year 1849, Vol.-VIII. Bombay: Bombay Education Society’s Press, 1851. RBE from January 1, 1850 to April 30 1851. Vol.-IX Bombay: Bombay Education Society’s Press, 1851.

C) Periodicals I) English Adams, Nancy L. and Dennis M. Adams. “An Examination of Some Forces Affecting English Educational Policies in India: 1780-1850.” History of Education II.2 1971. Alam, Muzaffar. “The Pursuit of Persian Language in Mughal Politics.” Modern Asian Studies 32.2 1998. Allen, David O. “State and Prospects of the English Language in India.” Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol.-4 1854. Anand, S. “Sanskrit, English and Dalits.” Economic and Political Weekly 34:30 July 24-30, 1999. Ballhatchet, Kenneth. “The Importance of Macaulay.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great of Britain and Ireland No. 1, 1990. Bright, William. “Social Dialect and Language History.” Current Anthropology 1:5/6 Sep.-Nov. 1960. Copy of Dispatch from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor General of India in Council, dated July 19TH, 1854 No. 49. Covernton, A. L. “The Educational Policy of Mountstuart Elphinstone.” Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (New Series) Vol.-II 1926. Craig, Jefferey. Patricia Jeffery and Roger Jeffery. “When schooling fails: Young men, education and low-caste politics in rural north India.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 39:1 2005. Dirks, Nicholas B. “Castes of Mind.” Representations No. 37 1992. Frykenberg, Robert E. “The Myth of English as a ‘Colonialist’ Imposition upon India: A Reappraisal with Special Reference to South India.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of England and Ireland No. 2 1988.

Language Politics under Colonialism


Gelders, Raf and Willem Derde. “Mantras of Anti-Brahmanism: Colonial Experience of Indian Intellectuals.” Economic and Political Weekly 38.43 2003. Guha, Sumit. “Transitions and Translations: Regional Power and Vernacular Identity in the Dekhan, 1500-1800.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24:2 2004. Gupta, Dipankar. “Introduction: The certitudes of caste: When identity trumps hierarchy.” Contributions to Indian Sociology 38:1 & 2 2004. Henry, Schwarz. “Laissez-Faire Linguistics: Grammar and the Codes of Empire.” Critical Inquiry 23:3 Spring 1997. “Indian Vernaculars and University Reforms” The Quarterly Journal of the Sarvajanik Sabha. IV:2 Oct. 1881. Jenkins, Richard. “Language, Culture and Sociology: Pierre Bourdieu in Context.” History of the Human Sciences 7:4 1994. Krishnaswamy, Revathi. “Nineteenth-Century Language Ideology: A Postcolonial Perspective.” Interventions 7:1 2005. Langohar, Vickie. “Educational ‘subcontracting’ and the Spread of Religious Nationalism: Hindu and Muslim Nationalist Schools in Colonial India.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 21:1-2 2001. Mallik, Basant Kumar. “Cultural and Social Radicalism in Medieval Orissa.” Economic and Political Weekly XLVI:17 2011. Marathi School Paper 3-6 Oct. 1863. McDonald, Ellen E. “The Modernisation of Communication: Vernacular Publishing in Nineteenth Century MahƗrƗৢtra.” Asian Survey 8.7 1968. Paddayya, K. “On Some Aspects of the Early History of the Deccan College.” Bulletin of the Deccan College 61-61 2000-2001. Patil, Sharad. “Should ‘Class’ Be the Basis for Recognising Backwardness.” Economic Political Weekly 25:50 Dec.15, 1990. Perry, Sir Erskine. “Speech at the Annual Examination of the Elphinstone Institution at Bombay on 25 April 1848.” Oriental Christian Spectator. Vol.-19 June, 1848. Pollock, Sheldon. “The Death of Sanskrit.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 43:2 April 2001. Ramanna, Mridula “Profiles of English Educated Indians: Early Nineteenth Century Bombay City.” Economic and Political Weekly 27:14 1992. Ramaswamy, Sumathy. “Sanskrit for the Nation.” Modern Asian Studies 33:2 1999.



Rao, Parmala V. “Women’s Education and the Nationalist Response in Western India: Part I—Basic Education.” Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 14.2 2007. Roy, Modhumita. ““Englishing” India: Reinstituting Class and Social Privilege” Social Text 39 1994. Roy, Modhumita. “The Englishing of India: Class Formation and Social Privilege.” Social Scientist 21:5-6 1993. Vasudha Dalmiya-Luderitz. “Fredrich Max Müller: Appropriation of the Vedic Past.” Journal of ARTS & IDEAS 17:18 June 1889. W., J. “On the Use of Sankrit Language and Literature in Native Education.” Oriental Christian Spectator Vol. 20, Nov. and Dec. 1849. Whitehead, Clive. “The Historiography of British Imperial Education Policy, Part-I India.” History of Education 34:3 May 2005. Windhausen, John D. “The Vernaculars, 1835-1839: A Third Medium for Indian Education.” Sociology of Education 37:3 1964. II) Marathi Arjunwadkar, K. S., “RƗjvƗঌe Ɨ৆i PƗ৆iniya VyƗkara৆a.” BhƗrat ItihƗs SanĞodhan Mandal TraimƗsik. 916 (July 2004 to August 2006). Gramopadhye, G. B. “BhƗৢece VyƗkara৆a Ɨ৆i ĝuddhƗĞuddhivivek.” MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra SƗhitya PatrikƗ. 33.129, 1959. Kelkar, Ashok. “BhƗৢece Niyaman.” MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra SƗhitya PatrikƗ. 41.161. VividhadnyƗnvistƗr 1:1, 1868.

D) Contemporary Printed Books I) English Agnihotri, R. K. Half the Battle and a Quarter. Mysore: Central Institute of Indian Languages, 2002. Ahmad, Aijaz. In Theory: Classes Nations Literatures. (1992) New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1999. Aloysius, G. Nationalism without a Nation in India. (1997) New Delhi: Oxford U P, 2005. Anagol, Jayakumar. Compulsory Primary Education: Opportunities and Challenges Pune: Indian School of Political Economy ND. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, 1983. Ballenoit, Hayden J. A. Missionary Education and Empire in Late Colonial India 1860-1920. London : Pickering and Chatto Publishers 2007.

Language Politics under Colonialism


Ballhatchet, Kenneth. Social Policy and Social Change in Western India 1817-1830. (1957) London: Oxford U P, 1961. Bapuji, B. R. Essays in the Sociology of Language. Madras: T. R. Publications, 1994. —. Society, State and Education: Essays in the Political Sociology of Language Education. Madras: T. R. Publications, 1993. Bartolovian, Crystal. Ed. Marxism, Modernity and Postcolonial Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge U P, 2002. Basu, A. N. Indian Education in Parliamentary papers part – I. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1952. Basu, Aparna. Essays in the History of Indian Education (1981) New Delhi: Concept Publishing Company, 1982. —. The Growth of Educational and Political Development in India : 1898-1920. New Delhi: Oxford U P. 1974. Bayle, C. A. Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social communication in India, 1780-1870. New Delhi: Foundation Books, 1999. Benton, A. H. Indian Moral Instruction and Caste Problems. New Delhi: Classical Publications, 1978 (reprint). Bhattacharya, Sabyasachi. Ed. The Contested Terrain: Perspectives on Education in India. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1998. Block, David and Deborah Cameron. Eds. Globalization and Language Teaching. London: Routledge, 2002. Bloomfield, Leonard. Language. (1935) Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2005. Boman-Behram, B. K. Educational Controversies in India: The Cultural Conquest of India under British Imperialism. Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons and Co. 1943. Bourdieu, Pierre. Language and Symbolic Power. Trans. Ginto Raymond and Matthew Adamson. (1992) Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994. Breckenridge, Carol A. and Peter van der Veer Eds. Orientalism and the Postcolonial Predicament: Perspectives on South Asia. New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1994. Brooker, Peter. A Glossary of Literary Theory. London: Arnold, 2003. Brown, Charles Philip. The Grammar of the Telugu Language. No pag. u.d. Burke, Lucy, Tony Crowley and Alen Gervin. Eds. The Routledge Language and Cultural Theory Reader. (2000) London: Routledge, 2001. Canagrajah, Suresh A. Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Teaching. (1999) Oxford: Oxford U P, 2000.



Chandra, Bipan. Essays on Colonialism. New Delhi: Orient Longman Ltd. 1999. Chatterjee, Partha. Ed. State and Politics in India. New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1997. Chatterji, S. K. Indo-Ɩryan and Hindi. Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1960. Choksey, R. D. Mountstuart Elphinstone: The Indian Years 1796-1827. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1971. Christie, Freances. Ed. Pedagogy and the Shaping of the Consciousness: Linguistic and Social Processes London: Continuum, 2000. Clark, John. The Story of Carey Marshmoan and Ward Marshman. London: Alexander Strahan and Co., 1864. Colebrook, T. E. The Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Vol.- I. London: John Murray, 1884. Cook, Guy. Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford U P, 2003. Corfield, Penelope J. Ed. Language, History and Class. (1984) Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991. Coupland, N. and A. Jaworski Eds. Sociolinguistics: A Reader and Coursebook New York: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1997. Das, Sisir Kumar. A History of Indian Literature 1800-1910 Western Impact, Indian Response. New Delhi: Sahitya Akadamai, 1991. —. Early Bengali Prose: Carey to Vidyasagar. Calcutta: Bookland Private Ltd., 1966. Dasgupta, Probal. Projective Syntax: Theory and Applications. Pune: Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, 1989. Desai, Sudha. Social Life in MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra under the Peshwas. Mumbai: Popular Prakashan, 1980. Deshpande, Madhav M. Sanskrit and Prakrit: Sociolinguistic Issues. Delhi: Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Private Limited, 1993. Dickinson, R. D. The Christian College. New Delhi: Oxford U P, 1968. Dijk, Tuen A. van. Ideology: A Multidisciplinary Approach. London: Sage Publications, 1998. Dirks, Nicholas. Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. (2002). Delhi: Permanent Black, 2006. Dongerkery, S. R. A History of the University of Bombay 1857-1957. Bombay: U of Bombay, 1957. —. University Education in India. Bombay: C. Manaktak and Sons Pvt. Ltd., 1967. Dossal, Mariam and Ruby Maloni. Ed. State Intervention and Popular Response: Western India in the Nineteenth Century. Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1999.

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Wagle, N. K. Ed. Writers, Editors and Reformers: Social and Political Transformations of MahƗrƗ‫܈‬tra: 1830-1930. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 1999. Weiner, Myron. The Child and the State in India. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991. Wheeler, J. Talboys. Tales from Indian History. (1881) Calcutta: Thacker, Spink & Co., 1890. Winchester, Simon. The Meaning of Everything: The Oxford English Dictionary Oxford: OUP, 2003. Young, Michael and Geoff Whitty. Society, State and Schooling: Readings and the Possibilities for Radical Education. Sussex: The Falmer Press, 1977. Young, Robert C. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2001. Zastoupil, Lynn and Martin Moir. The Great Indian Education Debate: Documents Relating to the Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy, 1781-1843. Surrey: Curzon, 1999. II) Marathi Apte, D. V. and R. V. Oturkar. MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬rƗcƗ Patrarup ItihƗs. Pune: V. G. Ketkar, 1941. Arjunwadkar, K. S. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ: VƗd Ɩ۬i PravƗd. Pune: Sulekha Prakashan, 1986. —. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkara۬Ɨca ItihƗs. Mumbai: Mumbai Vishwavidyalaya and Pune: Dyanmudra, 1992. —. VenkatmƗdhavkrut MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬rƗprayogcandrikƗ. Pune: Deshmukh and Company. 1970. Bagade, Umesh. MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬rƗtƯl Prabodhan Ɩ۬i VargjƗtiprabhutva. Pune: Usha Wagh, 2006. Bapat, G. T. ViĞrƗmbƗgvƗ‫ڲ‬yƗcƗ ItihƗs. Pune: N. V. Sardeshpande, 1950. Bhole, B. L. Yeko۬isƗvyƗ ĝatakƗtƯl MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Gadya. Mumbai: Sahitya Akadami, 2006. Chavan, Dilip. Dr. Aۨbe‫ڲ‬kar Ɩni BhƗrtƯya ĝik‫܈‬a۬ƗtƯl JƗtisanghar‫܈‬. Yeole: Krantisinh Nana Patil Akadami, 2003. Chiplunkar, Krishnashastri. Chiplunkar Krishnashastri: MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkara۬ƗvarƯl Nibandh. (1893) Joshi R. B. Ed. Pune: Continental Prakashan, 1971. Chousalkar, Ashok. MahƗtma Phule Ɩ۬i ĝetkarƯ Chaۜvaۜ. Mumbai: Lokvangmaya Grih, 1990. Damle, Moro Keshav. ĝƗstriya MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VyƗkara۬ (1910) Pune: Yande Raghunath Damodhar, 1965.

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Deogirikar, T. R. VƗsukƗkƗ JoĞƯ Va TyƗncƗ KƗۜ. Pune: D. T. Joshi, 1948. Dhongade, Ramesh. Ed., Akhil BhƗrtƯya MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ SƗhitya SammelanƗtƯl BhƗ‫܈‬a۬e Va TyƗncƯ CikitsƗ. Pune: Dilipraj Prakashan, 2002. Godbole, Krishnashastri. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ BhƗ‫܈‬ece NavƯn VyƗkara۬. (1867) Mumbai: Ganpat Krishnaji, 1874. Gunjikar, R. B. RƗmcandra BhikƗji Gunjikar YƗnce Sankalit Lekh. Mumbai: R. K. Tatnis. Havaldar, G. R. RƗvsƗheb Man‫ڲ‬lik YƗnce Caritra – Part I. Bombay: Havaldar, 1927. Jadhav, Bhaskarrao. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ BhƗ‫܈‬a. Pune: Ramchandra Jadhav, 1932. Jog, R. S. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ VƗngamayƗca ItihƗs. Pune: MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Sahitya Parishad, 1965. Joshi, R. B. VyƗkara۬ƗvarƯl Nibandha. Pune: Chitrashala, 1893. Kulkarni, K. B. Ɩdhunik MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ GadyƗcƯ UtkrƗntƯ. Mumbai: Mumbai MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Granthasangrahalaya, 1956. Laddu, Suhasini. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯcya PramƗ۬ BhƗ‫܈‬ece Swarup. Pune: Continental Prakashan, 1982. Morje, Gangadhar. Ed. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ DolƗmudrite. Panaji: Gomantak MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Akadami, 1995. Nerurkar, Viththal Krishna. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯcƗ SansƗr. Pune (?): Sadashiv Vishnu Choudhari, 1928. PeĞwa DaptarƗtun Niwa‫ڲ‬alele KƗgad Vols. 42. (1942) and 43 (1942). Mumbai: Government Central Press. Phadake, Gangadhar Shastri. MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra BhaĞece VyƗkara۬. Mumbai: Education Society, 1836. Pinge, Srinivas Madhusudan. YuropiyanƗncƗ MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯca AbhyƗs Va SevƗ. Mumbai: MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Sanshodhan Mandal, 1960. Priyolkar, A. K. Ed. MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra BhaĞece VyƗkara۬. Mumbai: MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Sanshodhan Mandal, 1954. —. GrƗnthik MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ BhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ Ɨ۬i Konka۬i Boli. Pune: Pune University, 1966. —. HindustƗnce Don DarvƗje. Mumbai: The Goa Hindu Association, 1974. Rajwade, V. K. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ BhƗ‫܈‬Ɨ Mumur‫܈‬u Ɩhe KƗy? Pune: Sharada-Vihar, 1926. Sardar, G. B. MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ GadyƗcƯ Purvapi‫ܒ‬hƯkƗ (1937) Pune: Kamalabai Bhide, 1971. Tarkhadkar, Dadoba Pandurang. MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra BhƗ‫܈‬ece VyƗkara۬ (1836) Mumbai: Majgaon Printing, 1885.



—. MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬ra BhƗ‫܈‬ece VyƗkara۬ (A Grammar of the MarƗ‫ܒ‬hƯ Language for the Use of Students) (1836) Bombay: American Mission Press, 1850. Walimbe, R. S. YekonƗvisƗvyƗ ĝatakƗtƯl MahƗrƗ‫ܒ܈‬rƗcƯ SƗmƗjik Punargha‫ܒ‬anƗ. Pune: R. S. Walimbe, 1962.

E) Dissertations Burde, Archana S. “A Sociolinguistic History of English in India: A profile of the Written Mode Vol.-I.” Diss. Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, 1992. Joshi, Arun. “Renaissance in Western India: Lokhitwadi (1823-1892) Part-I.” Diss. U of Bombay, 1976, Krishnamoorty, Sulochana. “English Education and Its Impact on Society in Bombay (1854-1905).” Diss. Mumbai U, 1987. Masal, Dhanaji Baburao. “History of Education in Solapur City (1885-1964).” Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur, 2002. Narkar, Maya. “A Linguistic Study of the Nineteenth Century Marathi Translations.” Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur, 1990. Reddy, Ve\nkat K. “Language, Power and Ideology: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Advertisements.” Diss. Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. 2003. Sawant, Sunil. “The American Novel in Marathi: A Study in Translation Culture.” Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur, 2001 Shefali, Chandra. “The Social Life of English: Language and Gender in Western India, 1850-1940.” Diss. U of Pennsylvania, 2003. Downloaded from 3095867 on 04-11-2008. Subbayya, Rajyashree. “The Standardisation of Language: Case Study of Marathi.” Ph. D. Diss. Mysore U, Mysore 1980, 66. Sutar, A. M. “Christianity in Western Maharashtra in the Nineteenth Century.” Diss. Shivaji U, Kolhapur, 1980. Tschurenev, Jana. “Imperial Experiments in Education: Monitorial Schooling in India, 1789-1835.” Diss. Humboldt U, Berlin. u. d.

F) Unpublished Paper Shukla, Abhay. “Imperialist Globalisation and Communalism.” An unpublished paper presented in the Saۨyunkta Khoj. Nagpur on 8.4.07.


ƗdivƗsƯ – tribals, considered to be the aboriginals in India. bakhar – medieval historical records, usually kept by the kings. bhaktƯ – a medieval cult meaning devotion. citpƗvan – a sub-caste of brahmins, supposed to have originated from the Konka৆, which gathered cultural and political clout after the ascendancy of the Peshwa to power. dalit – the oppressed / untouchables. deĞastha – a sub-caste among the MahƗrƗৢ৬rian brahmins, who were traditionally supposed to be native brahmins, who enjoyed higher ritual status and big land-holding and used to keep records in the villages. Their supremacy was challenged by the coming of the citpƗvan brahmins during the Peshwa regime. dvija – the twice-born, mostly the brahmin males, who are supposed to gain the status of brahmin. enƗm – gift, particularly from the feudal lord in the form of land or right to collect tax. farmƗn – official order. jahƗgir – a particular region marked for the collection of tax. jƗtƯ - caste, hierarchical social system based on patriarchy and endogamy. karhƗ‫ڲ‬e – a sub-caste of Maharashtrian Brahmin. koka۬astha – a sub-caste of Mahrashtrian Brahmin which became dominant with the rise of the Peshwa. lingƗyat – a caste traditionally engaged in trade. mahƗlvƗri – a kind of revenue system in revenue was assessed on the basis of group / community residing in a region. MahƗnubhƗv – a medieval anti-caste bhaktƯ cult established by Cakradhar. MahƗyƗna – a sect of Buddhism. modi – a script popular before the development of print culture in MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ. pƗ‫ܒ‬haĞƗlƗ – a traditional school meant for the Vaidic learning. Peshwa – originated from the Persian language, the term denotes prime minister to the Maratha kings after Shivaji and who, after ascending to power, heavily patronised Sanskrit education and brahminical customs. prabhu – ‘writer’ caste, similar to the kayashas of northern India and Bengal. pun‫ڲ‬it – traditional brahmin scholar of the Vedic studies.



rayat – people, commonly used during the colonial period to refer to the colonised. ryotvƗri – a kind of revenue system prevalent in the Deccan in which individual peasant holding was made a parameter for revenue assessment. sahukƗr – moneylenders. sarkƗr – government. Ği‫ܒ܈‬a – varna / caste élites. sonƗr – goldsmith. sultanate – a wide-spread regime or a kind of empire. vƗrkari – a medieval bhaktƯ cult in MahƗrƗৢ৬rƗ. watun – land traditionally allotted to the village watchmen. zamindƗr – landlord.

APPENDIX I ADDRESS TO THE NOBILITY AND GENTRY OF MAHARASHTRA I desire to address you, O ye[o]men of high station and wealth, on the subject of your own welfare, and I feel a good confidence that what I speak with respect you will receive with favour. You are in the enjoyment of greatness which has come down to you from your ancestors and not only do the Public acknowledge your dignity, but Govt has endowed you with Jahagirs, Sarunjams, annuities and pensions to keep it up. You also receive in the Durbar that honorable treatment which your station requires. But you have enemies which seek to rob you of your high station, your wealth and dignity. I need not specify who these enemies are, but I beg of you to be on your guard against them. Consider I beseech you that the dignity which has come down hereditarily to you was not obtained by your ancestors but by the performance of great actions. Look to it that you do not lose it; for greatness once lost can not be recovered without great pain and trouble. Every one wishes to be thought well of, and to be treated with respect in society; but this wish can be attained only through a suitable course of conduct; mere wishes will not bring esteem and honor. Let him therefore who would obtain them give himself to the acquisition of knowledge and the practice of virtue. The foundation and support of greatness is virtue. There is no true and perfect greatness without virtue. A man may possess superior intellect, great wealth, and high station, but if he lack[s] virtue[,] he is not truly great. His greatness is like a body which wants its main member as virtue is the foundation and support of greatness so is learning its chief ornament. The Sanskrit poet says “Learning is the chief excellence of man. Learning gives happiness and fame. Learning is the best companion in travel Learning is indeed divine. It is the learned & Not the rich man who is honored by Kings He who has no learning is but a brute.”


Appendix I

Thus is it that high station & great wealth are useless without learning, and that they bring not to their possessor the renown which is enjoyed by the mean man who possesses neither of them but who has learning.... Poor people may with some reason file their poverty & the necessity under which they lie of devoting all their time to laboring for a maintenance, as an excuse for their neglect of study; but you who are rich have no such plea. Pinching poverty does not distract your thoughts; it is no burden on your means to remunerate your Teacher; nor can you complain that you can not provide books. The acquisition of Knowledge is open to you: you have but to study. The Great and the Rich are usually a prey to idleness or other vices. Some are ruined by indolence, some by a love of pleasure, while others give themselves up to low habits and pursuits. These vices are great enemies to learning and virtue. The Poet says[,] How can they who are captivated by sensual pleasures, or the idle, or the careless, or those who indulge in low habits, acquire either learning or wealth?

You must conquer these enemies if you would acquire learning; & you must acquire learning[,] if you would attain to wealth. The Poet says again[,] “There are hundreds of things to the habitual pursuit of which men give themselves; but the Great indulge in but two habits; - the habits of study and devotion.”

Let the great men whom I address forsake all bad habits and follow these two. You would find it to be greatly to your advantage to be well educated. Your clerks and servants would not be able to cheat you; your tenants would be delivered from oppression; you would be able to understand the amount of your income, and to regulate your expenditure by it. There are many men of high station whose liberality of mind naturally leads them into expense; & being ignorant of accounts, and unable therefore to manage their estates, they involve themselves in debt & difficulties, & perhaps bring discredit on their good name. Debt is like a dunghill; when once commenced it rapidly accumulates. Then comes the class of creditors, under which a man can scarce hold up his head, & may be is lead into prevarication and falsehood. Should the creditor institute a suit, then even the great must be content to look little. At last, estate &

Address to the Nobility and Gentry of Maharashtra


patrimony, goods & chattels, all must be resigned & given up to the creditor.... Some noble men borrow money from some low persons or others, & then put the management of their affairs into his hands, thus giving up their own independence, and rendering themselves subservient to him. Many illiterate noblemen ruin themselves by placing entire confidence in their factors, who exhibit accounts & submit papers which they silently sign & pass from not being able to examine them. I urge you therefore not to let your authority & property go into the hands of others. Preserve them by learning and virtue. If you will consult your own profit and pleasure[,] you will certainly feel constrained to acquire learning and to practise virtue. For the poet says, “There is no kinsmen like learning, no enemy like idleness; there is no friend like charity (or religion), nor any strength like that derived from virtue.”

If to the advantages of high station & wealth which you possess by birth, you will add the inestimable ornaments of virtue & sound learning, they will adorn you more than the richest brocade or the most brilliant gems. There is a proverb purporting that “if to gold be added gems (or good setting) it becomes a dress worthy the noble”. The poet says again[,] “Though there be beauty, youth, & family, yet if there be not learning these are no better than the....

Surely I need not labor to show that learning which enriches and ennobles even the poor and mean must be beneficial to you! I will illustrate the benefit of learning by the case of a Peon’s son whom his father sent to school. He first attended a vernacular school, where he became proficient in reading, writing and accounts; he then went to the English school and studied for some years. The learning which he thus acquired procured him a situation in the service of Govt….But this is a mode of spending time which is without beneficial result to themselves, to the public, or to Govt. The virtuous and learned man, on the other hand, studies so to employ his time as to profit all. If he be not called out to war or some other service of the state, he engages his thoughts at home with the public welfare. He reads the histories of countries both ancient and modern, and studies their customs, arts, & sciences that he may introduce among his own people what he finds good in them.


Appendix I

The exercises of riding, fencing and hunting are by means forbidden; on the contrary they are suitable and should be engaged in, but only so far as they are conducive to the preservation of a healthful state of mind & body. In the same way, music and song are useful for recreation; but as they enjoyment of these things is not the great object of life[,] they should not be allowed to engross too much time. The great object of life is to fulfil the duties which we owe to our Creator, neighbours and ourselves. A great man should reflect on the responsibility which accompanies the possession of high station & dignity; for all men look up to him to follow his example. If then he deviate[s] from the path of rectitude, he causes others to stray, and he thus becomes an occasion of public evil. The recollection of this causes a truly great & wise man to be most careful in his conduct, & to be most solicitous to set a good example. The Nobility of Europe in ancient times were usually illiterate; they slighted study and thought only of the pursuit of arms & of sensual pleasures. But this time of ignorance is past. The Nobility of Europe now consider it a reproach to be without education. Some study with assiduity, some are satisfied with a moderate degree of knowledge; but all, even the greatest, would be ashamed to remain in ignorance. I would urge you to secure to your children the benefits of education, and for this object to send them early to school. Let them falsify the popular saying that “the children of the great are fools”....“....Better is one son talented & virtuous than a hundred that are fools. It is the one moon that dispels darkness, not the host of stars. As one fragrant shrub scents a whole grove so does a worthy son a whole family”. Govt has notified its intention of employing in the Public service those who qualify themselves for it by a good education; so that qualified persons of whatever cast[e] they be well get situations. How will it grieve you to see persons of low origin provided for, while your children remain as they are. I have already mentioned to you the case of the peon’s son. Provision has recently been made in the Poona College for instructing the children of the Nobility & Gentry in the English, Vernacular and the Sanskrit languages; and several have already joined the class. Such of your number as are resident at Poona should take advantage of it. The Professors of the College will take delight in teaching your children; and there can be no doubt that Govt will feel it a grateful duty to advance the interests of such of them as qualify themselves. Suffer me here to enumerate the points to which you should attend. You should have a good knowledge of reading, writing & arithmetic; you should understand book keeping and how to conduct correspondence; you should possess an aptness both for speaking and acting; you should have a

Address to the Nobility and Gentry of Maharashtra


knowledge of the Regulations of Govt; you should acquire some knowledge of the terrestrial & celestial globes; you should make yourselves acquainted with the histories of ancient kings; you should attain to some knowledge of the Sanskrit language, which you would find very useful, & you should study the grammar both of it and of the Murathee [Marathi]: you should pay much attention to correctness both in speaking and writing; you should have moral treatises in daily reading; you should study the language of the people under whose government you live; if we know the language of those we have to deal with we can mutually understand each other… You will perhaps say that you are under no necessity to acquire learning with the view of obtaining employment by it; that you are content to spend your time pleasantly in the enjoyment of the jahagiris & annuities & which Govt has given you, or of the wealth which your fathers left you; & that you have no desire to throw away labor on study. Granting that you are under no necessity to study for the sake of getting employment, I would remind you that employment is the road to advancement. It was by performing good service that your ancestors were able to transmit nobility to their descendants. You are at liberty to decline service, but do not think that labor bestowed on study can ever be thrown away. It will not fail to give a rich return. The poet says[,] “The pen says I am a sovereign. He who serves me will prosper. He may have been a poor unfortunate, yet sometime or other I will give him prosperity”.

Occasions sometimes occur when you labor hard & yet reap no fruit; but it is not so with study. Nor is it necessary that you should study day and night in order to acquire knowledge. Five or six hours daily will suffice. Nor will you have to study thus throughout life. The years of youth well applied will attain the object. Education is necessary to enable you to preserve the provision which Govt has given you & the wealth which you have inherited from your fathers, even if you have no other object in view. If you are without education you will be at the mercy of your factors & managers, & then how can you hope to lead a happy life? I urge you therefore not to waste your time, but to study & taste the sweets of learning: they will make all other pleasure insipid to you. Finally, I beg you to consider & meditate on the address I have at this length made to you. See whether what I have said be right or wrong and seek glory through the practice of virtue & acquisition of


Appendix I

sound learning. Thus will you promote your own happiness, render service to the Public, & give pleasure to the Govt. —A well wisher to the Nobility & Gentry (Source – Director of Education Archives, Pune, Poona Sanskrit College Vol.-17, 1847-48 No pag.) (Manuscript of this address, hitherto unpublished, is anonymous. However, it was most possible written by Major Candy, who was the Superintendent of the Sanskrit School at the time this address was delivered. For analysis of this address, refer to chapter 5, pp 208-10)


A Agnihotri, R. K. 43, 45-6 Ahmad, Aijaz 18-9, 252 Akbar 60, 62, 64 Aloysius, G. 9 Althusser, Louis 24-5, 36, 231 Ambedkar, B. R. 1, 124 Anand, S. 52-3 Anderson, Benedict 150 Anglicism and Orientalism 77 and Persian 67, 69 and vernacularism 96, 101, 103, 105-6 hegemonic 106-13 in Western India 130-5 Arjunwadkar, K. S. 176, 179, 255 Arnold, Thomas 242, 249-50 Auckland, Lord 119, 195 B Ballhatchet, Kenneth 78, 122 Bapuji, B. R. 44, 139 Bara, Joseph 60 Bengali 66, 68 and Buddhism 59 and Persian 65-6 and Sanskrit 164 and the low-caste Muslims 68 grammar 90, 162 standardisation of 158 Bengali elite / brahmins and English language 95, 113, 115, 116 Bernstein, Basil 142, 240, 256 bhadralok Bloomfield, Leonard 140, 145, 1589 Bourdieu, Pierre 30-3, 40, 136, 253 study of French 144, 181 views on education 231, 234

Bowles, Samuel 231, 233-5 Buddha / Buddhism and Prakrit 57-9, 154, 165 and Bengali language 59, 192 Buddha, the 57-8, 82, 171 C Cameron 44, 45, 257 Canagrajah, Suresh 240, 257 Candy, Major Thomas 61, 110, 112, 119, 136, 181, 195, 254 against education of the low caste 208 and grammar 164, 168, 174, 178, 179 and importance of Sanskrit 2067 and lexicography 183 and moral textbooks 247-9 and Sanskrit 206 and Sanskrit school 203, 213, 219-21 capitalism 3, 7, 13, 15-20, 24, 36, 107, 136, 150, 159 Carey, William 91, 162-5, 183, 191 caste and capitalism 7, 14-15, 21 and colonialism 1-14, 21, see also Phule and education 3, 21, 49, 53, 601, 65, 78, 84, 101-2, 104, 108-9, 111-2, 126-7, 130, 131-2, 196-9, 207-10, 222, 225-9, 244-5, 257 and English 3, 108, 111-2, 113, 115-19, 131-2, 207, 215, 219, 225, 229 and language 49-53, 140, 144, 153, 155-8, 170, 174, 184, 256

284 and Sanskrit 54-62, 63, 208-10, 214, 259 as a colonial construct 11-14 Marx on 1-2 Caxton 147 Chandra, Bipan 14 Chaplin, Mr. William 117, 128, 198, 199, 201, 206, 212, 217 Chatterjee, S. K. 55 Chhatre, Kashinath 247-8 Chinese 54, 57 Chiplunkar, Krishnashastri 118, 175-6, 179 citpƗvan 11, 62, 95, 112, 194, 256, civilisational mission 20, 100, 229, 244, 257 Cohn, Bernard 74, 76-7, 89-90, 253 colonialism and brahmins / brahminism 8-9, 74, 86, 196-200 and capitalism 14-20, 106-7 and caste 1-14, 107 see also Phule and education 11, 77, 93, 94 Marx on 5, 7, 14-20 Phule on 20-2 Cornwallis 4, 70, 76, 84 Crowley 146, 152 Curzon, Viceroy 241 D dakshina and Elphinstone 129, 193, 194, 198, 203, 218, and the citpƗvans 194, and the Sanskrit college 200-9, 214 history 195, 196-200 Dasgupta, Probal 52, 107, 171, 172 Deccan College compared with Elphinstone College 228 dominance of the brahmin students in 209 history 61 non-brahmin students in 61 patronage to 192-6

Index Deshpande, Madhav 161 diaglossia 50 Dirks, Nicholas 12, 74 domestication 47, 232, 233, 237, 239, 243 Dua, Hans R. 252, 256 dubhƗĞƗ 91, Duff, Alexander 241, 243 Duncan, Jonathan 82-4, 190-1, 210 E Eagleton, Terry 33, 38 237, 238 education and the missionary 115, 123-4, 194, 246 as moral indoctrination colonial policy on 53, 72, 73, 77-80, 86-88, 94, 244 Muslim 65, 68, 69 postcolonial theory of 72 Eizdale, T. Z. 248-9 Elphinstone, Mountstuart and caste 7-8, 86-7 and differentiated language policy 109, 122-30 and English education 3, 110, 130-5 and Peshwa 10, 86-7, 104, 122, 125, 128, 129, 193, 224 and Sanskrit 129 and vernacularism 93-5 on education 86-8, 94, 194, 198 English and colonialist politics 74, and ideological politics 51-2, 120-2 and the Muslims 70, 78 as colonial imposition for the élite 108-13, 209, 228-9, in Bengal 109, 113, 115, 123, indigenous demand for 113-9 Eizdale, T. Z. 248-9 Elphinstone institution 98, 100, 133, 178, 188, 227, 228 Engels, Frederick 5, 15-6, 19, 22, 34, 234

Language Politics under Colonialism English education and the Bengali brahmins 113, 116 and the brahmins in Pune 95, 117, 214-5, 218, and the colonial interest 78, 93 and vernacularism 95-104 demand for 113-9, 168 restricted access to 111-2 Sanskrit school 213-19 F Fanon, Frantz 21, 252 Fergusson, Charles 50 Fishman, Joshua 44, 52, 120, 121 Foucault, Michael 39-43, 71 Freire, Paulo 231, 232 G Ghagave, Bal Shastri 183 Godbole, Parshurampant 169, 183 Gramsci, Antonio and language standardisation 149-50 on grammar 138-9 on hegemony 21, 22-24, 25 on ideology 30, 35-38 the theory of class 234 Grant, Charles 1, 66, 67, 77, 79, 86, 239, 243, 244 Guha, Ranajit 4, 11, 49, 50 Gunjikar, R. B. 143, 157, 163-4, 169-70, 173, 175-6, 180 H Halhed, Nathaniel B. 90, 158, 162, 164 Hastings, Warren 67, 72, 76, 80-83, 86, 89-91, 94, 127, 162, 189, 190, 209, 210 Hegemony see Gramsci I Ideology Althusser on 24-5 and politics of language 33-8 definition 33-4 J Jadhav, Bhaskarrao 153


Jambhekar, Bal Shastree 98, 166, 173, 175, 177 Janhavekar, Ramchandrashastri 183 Jervis, George 21, 68, 95-104, 105, 242, 254 Johnson, Dr. Samuel 151, 181-2 Jones, Sir William 91, 151, 189, 210 Joshi, Sakharamshastri 183 K Kachru, Braj 51-2, 120 Kelkar, Ashok 156 Kennedy, Major 181, 185, 186 Keshavaji, Hari 247 Khubchandani, Lacchman 256 King, Robert D. 54, 56 knowledge colonial 10, 12, 71-5, 78, 86, 93, 101, 103, 108, 134, 191, 211 and power 39-43, 241 Kolte, V. B. 155-6 Kopf, David 65, 76 Kramwant, Jagannathshastri 183 Krishnaswamy, Revathi 165, 170 Kumar, Krishna 231, 240-2 Kumar, Ravindra 194, 203 L Labov, William 44, 139, 142, 148, 157 Laddu, Suhasini 146, 155 Laird, M. A. 239 language and caste see caste and class 44, 45, 46, 49-50, 139, 140, 142, 145, 146, 148-50, 153, 155, 156, 159, 163, 181, 196, 198, 200 as autonomous object / construct 31, 32, 39, 46, 120 as symbolic power 30-3 definition of 45-6 structural properties of 43 linguistics 15, 22 Chomskyan 31 descriptive 54, 157, 255 structural 31 Lenin 23, 35, 36, 38, 234,

286 lexicography Lodi, Sikandar 63 Lowth Robert 152 M Macaulay, T. B. 68, 86, 93, 102, 113-116, 131, 243, 253 Madhav, Venkat 162-3 Malcolm, John 85, 100, 128, 132, 132, 225, 242 Malviya, Madan Mohan 241 Marathi and Sanskrit 111-2, 113, 154-5, 156 Marathi grammar and Sanskrit 156, 162-3, 164, 166, 169, 173 see also Tarkhadkar beginning of 160-5 purpose of 165-70 Marx, Karl on colonialism 14-20 on India 1-2, 5 McDonald, Ellen E. 154, 234, 238, 245, 250 Mill, James 69, 78, 86, Mill, John Stuart 108-9 Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy 137, 139, 141, 143, 147, 148, 150 15, 182, 183 see also standard English Minto, Lord 211, 241 Molsworth, James Thomas 183-5, 255 multilinuality in India 47 Muzumdar, R. C. 59 N Naregal, Veena 155, 187 Nehru, Jawaharlal 64 Nemade, Bhalchandra 146, 153, 154, 177, 255 Newsome, David 242, 249 O Omvedt, Gail 5, 54, 57, 58, 70 Orientalism as dominance 72-9 definition 71 in Western India 84-8

Index rationalisation of Said on 10, 11, 15, 65 O’Barr, and O’Barr 32, 42, 47-8 P PƗ৆ini 56, 161, 170-3, 191 Patanjali 57, 161, 171, 173 Patil, Sharad 4-5 Perry, Sir Erskine 105, 130, 133, 142 Persian and the colonial interest 76-8, 84, 91-3 history in medieval India 60, 6166 monopoly of the upper-caste Hindu 63-5 replacement by English 61, 66, 67-9 Peshwa 8, 10, 11, 20, 84, 86, 87, 104, 122, 125, 128, 129, 155, 192-8, 218, 224 Phadake, Gangadhar Shastri 166, 183 Phule, Jotirao 20-1, 124 Pinge, M. S. 166 Potdar, D. V. 180 power see Foucault prakrit 57-9, 154, 165, 171 prose 146, 153-5, 161, 255 R Rajwade, V. K. 180 Rajyashree, Subbayya 153 Ramabai, Pandita 62 Ramanujan, A. K. 50-1, 141 Ranade, M. G. 124, 135, 244, 245, 246 Rochar, Rosane 73, 92 Roy, Modhumita 254 Roy, Raja Rammohan 64, 114, 115 S Said, Edward 10, 11, 14, 15, 17 18, 71-3, 170, 252 see also Orientalism and Anglicism Sangari, Kumkum 2, 190, 210

Language Politics under Colonialism Sanskrit and Latin 61 and varna-caste 54-61, 116, 213 and vernaculars 63, 136, 214 and women 56-7, 61, 62 grammar 160-1, 164-6, 169-71, 173, 178 patronage to 60, 190, 192, 210, 217, 218, 258 under the Mughal rule 60 Sen, Dinesh Chandra 59 Sen, Keshab Chander 241 Shankarshet, Jagannath 105-6 Sherring, the Reverend M. A. 241 Sherwani, H. K. 60 Shukla, Dajishastri 183 Smith, Olivia 151-2, 159-60 sociolinguistics in India 43-6 limitations of 30-1, 39, 48 Nature 39, 47 Southworth, Franklin 50, 57 speech community 31, 46, 50, 140, 144, 156, standardisation and capitalism 136 and grammar and social status 139-44 and writing 146, 150 definition 137 instrumentalist and sociolinguistic 137, 141 of English 147, 148, 149-50, 151 of French 144


of German 148 of Russian 148 standard English 140, 141, 146 14951, 157 Stokes, Eric 107, 151 Subbayya, Rajyashree 153 T Tarkhadkar, Dadoba Pandurang 166-67, 254-5 and prescriptivism 174-5 and Sanskrit 177-80 Telang, Justice 241 Telugu 91, 93, 139, 153, 163 Thiong’O, Ngugi Wa 89 Thompson, E. P. 234, 239 Trautmann, Thomas 72-3, 252 Trudgill 139, 147, 157 U Urdu 61, 64, 65, 67-70, 76, 90, 183 V vernacularism and English 69, 78 and Orientalism 88 and the colonial bureaucracy 8893 in Western India 93-5, see also Jervis Viswanathan, Gauri 75, 80 113, 115, 121, 190, 236-8, 253-4 Vološinov, V. N. 26-30 W Warden, Francis 3, 99, 109-10, 18 Z Zastoupil and Moir 67, 77, 78, 83-5, 94, 128