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i Point to India

i Point to India

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Published by: Satyendra Nath Dwivedi on May 25, 2014
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I Point To India
Selected Writings of Max Muller (1823-1900)
Book: Max Muller Edited: Nanda Mookerjee Review: Satyendra Nath Dwivedi Introduction
Unless one is alive to one‟s own roots, life becomes a void and looses sweetness and light.
 
“India was the „cradle of mankind‟ and had the „golden age‟, the traces of which have been  preserved from mankind‟s infancy till today. The Indian puts his blissfulness in an undisturbed
enjoyment of serenity, he breathes joy, he swims in the sea of sweet dreams and delightful
fragrances.” 
 
-
Johann Gottfried Heeder [Ideas on the Philosophy on the History of Mankind]
 After
Fredrich Schiegel 
‟, the first German to learn Sanskrit, there is a long lis
t of illustrious moments of
German Sanskrit scholars. Foremost among them was „
Max Muller 
‟, who earned the honorary title of a
German Pandit 
‟ for his first edition of the „
Rig Veda 
‟ in Sanskrit.
 
“Max Muller lived and moved in the world of Indian thought 
 for fifty years or more, and watched the sharp interchange of light and shade in the interminable forest of Sanskrit literature with deep
interest and heartfelt love, till they have all sunk into his very soul and colored his whole being.” 
 
-
Swami Vivekananda
 Attracted by the fame of „
Professor Eugene Burnou
‟, eminent not only as a Sanskrit scholar but also as
the first
Zend
 
scholar of his day, Max Muller went to Paris to attend Burnouf‟s lecture at „College de France‟. It was primarily at Burnouf‟s sug
gestion that the young Max Muller set about collecting materials
for editing the „
Rig Veda 
‟, with commentary of „
Sayana 
‟; however, there were two more reasons that
prompted Max Muller to take up this commendable venture. Firstly, he had a desire to know a work which, to quote Max Muller,
“has been for so many centuries the foundation on which millions and millions of
human beings have built up their religious convictions
”. And secondly, to prove that Schopenhauer was
wrong when, in a discussion at Frankfurt, he told Max Muller that the Upanishads were the only important part the Veda that deserved to be studied, the rest was nothing but priestly rubbish.
Prof. H. H. Wilson
‟, the first „
Boden Professor of Sanskrit’ 
 at Oxford, recommended Max Muller to the East India Company which was fighting against take-over of the Company by the British Crown under the
pressure of public opinion. The Directors of East India Company found, in Max Muller‟s proposal to edit „Rig Veda‟, a golden opportunity to prove to the world that they were not bent upon exploiting India and that they were patrons of learning and culture. They sanctioned the money for the complete edition of „Rig Veda‟ with Sayana‟s commentary, as proposed by Max M
uller. As the Rig Veda was being printed at the University Press, Max Muller migrated to Oxford in 1848 and spent the rest of his life there.
“India has never had full justice done to it, and when I say this I think not only of ancient, but of
modern India also. Though my chief interest lies with ancient India, it should be remembered that in no other country is the past still so visibly present as in the southernmost home of the ancient family of Aryans. In India, the religion of the Veda is by no means
entirely extinct…..The Vedic
Rishis of India have revealed to me a whole world of thought of which no traces exist anywhere
 
else, and they helped me to throw the first faint rays of light and reason on perhaps the darkest [almost invisible] period in the h 
istory of religion, philosophy and mythology.” 
 - Max Muller
“ 
In the whole of world there is no study, except that of the original (Upanishads), so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my
death.” 
 - Schopenhauer
“Max Muller is a Vedantist of Vedantists. He has indeed caught the real soul of the comedy of
Vedanta in the midst of all its settings of harmonies and discords
 –
 the one light that lightens the sects and creeds of the world, the Vedanta, the one principle of which all religions are only
applications.” 
 
-
Swami Vivekananda
 After meeting Max Muller, Swami Vivekananda said:
 
It was neither the philologist nor the scholar that I saw, but a soul that is everyday realizing its oneness with the universal; where others lose themselves in the desert of dry details, ha has struck the well-spring of life. Indeed his heartbeats have caught the rhythm of the Upanishads
 –
 know this Atman alone, and leave off all other talk.
 
“If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the
wealth, power and beauty that nature can bestow
 –
 in some parts a very paradise on earth
 –
 I should point to India. If I were asked under what sky the human mind has fully developed some of its chicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention of those who have studied Plato and Kant
 –
 I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life, more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not for this life only, but for a transfigured and eternal life
 –
 
again I should point to India.” 
 
-
Max Muller [„India What Can It Teach Us‟] 
 
Max Muller did advocate modern education for Indian people, but at the same time maintained:
India can never be anglicized, but it can be invigorated. By encouraging a study of their own ancient literature, as part of their education, a national feeling of pride and self-respect will be reawakened
among those who influence large masses of people. A new „National literature‟ may spring up, yet
retaining its native spirit and character. A new national literature will bring with it a new national life and a moral vigor 
.”
 
Max Muller did not agree with Macaulay‟s view that English should be the language, the sole language of future India. He did not agree with some of the Englishmen who declared that „
Sanskrit 
‟ was a dead language. He gave example of „
The Pandit 
‟, published
 at Banaras, which contained not only editions of ancient texts, but also treatises on modern subjects, reviews of books published in England, and
controversial articles, all in „Sanskrit‟.
 
“We have before us a stream of literary activity extending over
three thousand years. With the exception of China there is nothing like this in the whole world. It is difficult to give an idea of the enormous extent and variety of that literature. We are only gradually becoming acquainted with the untold treasures, which still exist in manuscripts. The number of separate works in Sanskrit, of which MSS are still in existence, amounts to about ten thousand. This is more, I believe, than
the whole classical literature of Greece and Italy put together.” 
 
-
Max Muller [„Human Interest of Sanskrit Literature‟] 
 The true history of the world must always be the history of the few; and as we measure the Himalayas by the height of Mount Everest, we must take the true measure of India from the poets
 
of Veda, the sages of the Upanishads, the founders of the
„ 
Vedanta 
‟ 
 and
„ 
Sankhya 
‟ 
 philosophies, and the authors of the oldest law books, and not from the millions who are born and die in their villages, and who have never for a moment been roused out of their drowsy dream of life.
Max Muller made India his spiritual home. The dream of his life to see India face to face remained unrealized. He rendered an inestimable service to India by showing her greatness to the west.
Great men, depend upon it, do not come down from sky like shooting stars. They come in the fullness of time, and if we want to understand that fullness of time, we must try to understand that fullness of time, that is, the time that lay behind and the time that lay before them.
The „
Science of Language 
‟, and, in fact,
 every true science, is like a hardy Alpine guide that leads us from the narrow, though it may be more peaceful and charming valleys of our pre-conceived opinions, to higher points, apparently less attractive, nay often disappointing for a time, till, after hours of patient and silent climbing, we look around, and see a new world around us. A new horizon has opened, our eyes see far and wide, and as the world beneath us grows wider and wider, and we embrace the far and distant and all that before seemed strange and indifferent, with a warmer recognition and a deeper human sympathy. We form wider concepts, we perceive higher truths.  And yet we have only to ascend again to a higher elevation, as we did before, under the guidance of the
„Science of Language‟,
 
and we shall meet with a new guide, the „
Science of Religion 
‟, which will lead us
to a still higher standpoint, and will open before our eyes a wide panorama, where the past history of the religions of the world seems almost present again, and where we can see the ancestors of that so-called heathen, worshipping the same gods and the same God whom our own ancestors worshipped in their sacred groves more than ten centuries ago.
There was a time when the fathers of the Aryan race, that noble race to which we ourselves belong, which has since been divided into Greeks and Romans, Celts and Slavs on one side, and Indians and Persians on the other, invoked with the same names the gods of the sky, and the air, and the earth, the gods whose real presence was felt in the thunder and the storm and the rain, whose abode was looked for in the clouds or on the inaccessible crests of the mountains
 –
 but chiefly the God, who was seen and yet not seen in the sun, who was revealed every morning in the brightness of the dawn, and who himself revealed, far away in the golden East, that Infinite Beyond, for which human language has no name, human thought no form, by which the eye of faith perceives, and after fashioning it into endless ideal shapes, and endowing it with all that is most beautiful in poetry, most choice in art, most sublime in philosophy, calls
 –
 God.
[The Upanishads say:
“That from which speech, along with thought, recoils (unable to comprehend), knowing or
experiencing that bliss of Brahman, one never
experiences fear from any quarter.” [Taittiriya
Upanishad 2.4.1] 
]
 If history is to teach us anything, it must teach us that there is a continuity which binds together the present and the past, the East and the West. And no branch of history teaches that lesson
more powerfully than the „history of language‟ and the „history of religion‟.
 

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