The Foundations of New India

The Foundations of New India

The Foundations of New India

The Foundations of New India

Excerpt

The emergence of India as an independent nation is, it will be conceded by all, a fact of more than ordinary significance. For over one hundred and fifty years Britain had dominated the subcontinent. Even in areas where it did not directly rule, Britain's authority was supreme. Thus, it came face to face with another civilization over every aspect of which it exercised a dominant influence for a very considerable period.

The encounter between India and Britain is something which is without parallel in history. The impact of Islam, starting with the invasions of Mohammed Ghori, lasted for a longer period and in a measure is a continuing fact. But it has not had the same fundamental significance as the contact that India had with England. The dominance that Islam exercised in many parts of India was mainly political and military. Except for sporadic efforts at conversion, there was no attempt to challenge the religion, philosophy or social life of the Hindus. Their laws were left untouched. The Islamic state did not enforce an educational system. In fact Hindus and Muslims lived as parallel societies. This does not mean that they did not influence each other; but that the institutions, beliefs and social structure of Hinduism were not interfered with and their assumptions challenged by the Muslims who for a time formed the dominant community.

Nowhere in the world, in fact, was there ever the kind of encounter which Hinduism and the West had in India. Such major encounters elsewhere had led either to the displacement of civilizations or of peoples. The most outstanding instances in the old world are those of Persia and Egypt. Both were ancient and historic civilizations but, faced with the power of Islam, they . . .

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