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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF COLONIALISM : SEX, AGE AND IDEOLOGY IN BRITISH INDIA

From The Intimate Enemy by Ashis Nandy

Presented By : Om Prasad Patri K. Sanmukh Rao

LAYOUT
I. II.

Introduction Homology between Sexual and Political Dominance III. Ideologies of Childhood and Age IV. Reactions of Indians V. Reactions of Britishers VI. Gandhis Solution to II. VII. Gandhis Solution to III. VIII.Conclusion

I. INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION

Colonialism as a state of mind in the colonizers and the colonized The political economy of colonization is of course important, but the crudity and inanity of colonialism are principally expressed in the sphere of psychology Example used is that of India, where a colonial political economy began to operate 75 years before the full-blown ideology of British imperialism became dominant, and where 35 years after the formal ending of the Raj, the ideology of colonialism is still triumphant in many sectors of life Sources of colonialism lie deep in the minds of the rulers and the ruled.

TWO MAJOR PROCESSES

First

Both the colonizers and the colonized share some codes. These codes alter the original cultural priorities on both sides and bring subcultures (which were previously subordinate) to the primary focus or centre of the colonial culture.

Second
Psychological changes due to outer incentives and disincentives imposed by the rulers. Inner resistance/dissent among the colonized people to the psychological limits set by the rulers.

II. HOMOLOGY BETWEEN SEXUAL AND POLITICAL DOMINANCE

HOMOLOGY B/W SEXUAL & POLITICAL DOMINANCE


In early British rule (1757-1830), British rulers came mainly from feudal background homology b/w sexual and political dominance not significant. Most Britons assimilated well into Indian customs and traditions

Wore Indian dress, observed Indian customs and religious practices, married Indian women, offered puja to Indian gods and goddesses, lived in fear of the Brahmans

Traditional Indian lifestyles dominated British culture, missionary activities were banned and Indian laws and education system prevailed

HOMOLOGY B/W SEXUAL AND POLITICAL DOMINANCE

After 1830, British middle classes were dominant in the ruling culture start of proper colonialism Western colonialism : Sexual Dominance ~ Political Dominance

Why did Indians accept this ?

HOMOLOGY B/W SEXUAL AND POLITICAL DOMINANCE


Identification with the aggressor From the point of view of the British

Indians were semi-barbarians who needed to civilize themselves British rule was an agent of progress in India

From the point of view of Indians


They saw their salvation in becoming more like the British, in friendship or enmity Many reforms and movements tried to project Ksatriyahood as authentic Indianness

CONCEPT OF SEXUALITY

3 Concepts

Purusatva (the essence of masculinity) Naritva (the essence of femininity) Klibatva (the essence of hermaphroditism)

CONCEPTS OF SEXUALITY

Precolonial Era : Purusatva v/s Naritva Colonial Era : Purusatva v/s Klibatva

Purusatva > Naritva > Klibatva

Femininity in masculinity now perceived as more dangerous than femininity itself R.N. Tagores Car Adhyay captures this change

TAGORES CHAR ADHYAY (1934)

The novel is based on the life of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay (1861-1907) who was a Catholic theologian as well as a Vedantist

His formal education was western where he was stirred by English sentiments of machoism and valour as opposed to the effeminate Bengali persona and he was swept by the desire to rescue the emasculated Indian spirit. This mixture of Brahminic/English upbringing made him a warrior ascetic, a volatile combination and a cultural encounter that determined the course of his life. Bramhabandhab Upadhyay The Life and Thought of a Revolutionary by Julius J. Lipner

Apart from his socio-religious profile as a Hindu-Catholic, he was also seen as a militant nationalist Foremost among his companions was Narendranath Datta, who eventually left the Samaj after meeting Ramakrishna Parmahansa, renounced the world and became better known as Swami Vivekananda.

TAGORES CHAR ADHYAY (1934)

Ashis Nandy in his Illegitimacy of Nationalism has shown that Tagore was so troubled by Brahmabandhab that he modelled his heroes on his character in at least three of his political novels, Ghare Baire, Car Adhyay and Gora.

The novel depicts the inner conflicts of the hero and how he had to move away from his own ideas to fight for his people

Brahmabandhab established a Hindu-Catholic monastery in Madhya Pradesh by the name of Kasthalic Math

He got disillusioned with the church and towards the end of his life got deeply involved in national politics

In this story of two lovers trapped in the murk of revolutionary violence, Tagore gathered his maturest reflections on imperial terror and the politics of armed resistance. It was the only novel that he did not publish in serial form, possibly to trump nationalist protests and government moves for a pre-emptive ban. The Hindu (Sept 01, 2002)

HOMOLOGY B/W SEXUAL AND POLITICAL DOMINANCE


Many violent pre-Gandhian protest movements Sought to redeem the Indian masculinity by defeating the British, often against hopeless odds Gave legitimacy to the characteristics of masculinity

Aggression Achievement Control Competition Power

Indian concept of manliness


Brahman : Cerebral, selfdenying asceticism Ksatriya : More violent, active, virile

Victorian ideas of masculinity


Lower Class : demonstrate sexual prowess Upper Class : abstinence, sexual distance, self-control

COLONIALISM NOT AN ABSOLUTE EVIL


A new dimension to colonialism : For the subjects

Loss of masculinity and legitimate power politics Had to preserve their self-esteem and masculinity in a situation of unavoidable injustice

For the rulers


Colonial exploitation is a regrettable by-product of a philosophy of life Felt guilty for violence against Indians Justified by future development of life of Indians

A POSSIBLE THREAT
As a byproduct of this consensus, there was a threat for the rulers : Instead of trying to regain their masculinity, the subjects will find an alternative frame of reference In this frame of reference

The oppressed do not seem weak, degraded men trying to break the monopoly of rulers Colonizers become morally and culturally inferior

Colonialism without a civilizational mission is no colonialism at all. It handicaps the ruler more than the ruled.

III. HOMOLOGY BETWEEN CHILDHOOD, AGE AND STATE OF BEING COLONIZED

HOMOLOGY B/W CHILDHOOD & STATE OF BEING COLONIZED


Indians : childlike, innocent, primitive Karl Marx (The British Rule in India, 1853)

India is a country of small semi-barbarian semicivilized communities which restricted the human mind within the smallest possible compass living an undignified, stagnant and vegetative life nature worship, fell down on his knees in the adoration of Hanuman, the monkey, and Sabbala, the cow Whatever may have been the crime of England, she was the unconscious tool of history

HOMOLOGY B/W CHILDHOOD & STATE OF BEING COLONIZED


Consensus among sensitive European intellectuals - Colonialism considered to be a necessary evil Aim was upliftment of the underprivileged One day, this cultural mission would be complete, and the barbarians would be civilized

Radical critics in Western society thought the same but they didnt expect the colonized to be grateful to their rulers

CONCEPT OF CHILDHOOD IN EUROPE

Pre-colonial Era
Child was a smaller version of adult Child was a happy, blissful prototype of angels

Now (Colonial Era)


Child was an inferior version of adult Child was a blank slate on which adults must write their moral codes inferior version of maturity, less productive and ethical Responsibility of adult to save the child from a state of unremorseful, degenerate sinfulness

Exploitation of children in the name of putting them to productive work in the early days of the Industrial Revolution in Britain

A NEW CONCEPT OF CHILDHOOD

New parallel b/w primitivism and childhood Childlikeness of child = Lovable savagery of primitives (willing to learn) Childishness of immature adult = Unlovable savagery of primitives (unwilling to learn)

THE NEW THEORY OF PROGRESS

The childlike Indian


Innocent, ignorant but willing to learn, masculine, loyal and, thus 'corrigible'

The childish Indian


Ignorant but unwilling to learn, ungrateful, sinful, savage, unpredictably violent, disloyal and, thus, 'incorrigible

Reform the childlike through Westernization, modernization or Christianization

Repress the childish by controlling rebellion, ensuring internal peace and tough administration and rule of law

CONCEPT OF AGE IN MODERN EUROPE


Saw aging as a natural unfolding of mans essential sinfulness Aging of human body was an indicator of evil Elderly increasingly seen as socially irrelevant because of low physical power, social productivity and cultural role

Emerging principles of productive work and performance were all that mattered

EFFECTS ON COLONIALISM

NEED
Africa could be treated as savage but not India and China Indians had traditions of four thousand years of civic living A well developed literati tradition, and alternative traditions of philosophy, art and science which often attracted the best minds of Europe Some explanation had to be given for this political and cultural degradation

EFFECTS ON COLONIALISM
SOLUTION (Two mutually inconsistent ways) : Clear disjunction between Indias past & present

The civilized India was in the bygone past Now it was dead and museumized The present India was nominally related to its history Max Mueller, in spite of his pioneering work in Indology and love for India, forbade his students to visit India. For him, the India that was living was not the true India and the India that was true had to be dead

EFFECTS ON COLONIALISM

Indias later degradation was not due to colonial rule but due to aspects of traditional Indian culture
Like a sinful man, Indian culture was living through a particularly debilitating senility Colonial rule had only improved the conditions Connotations in the definition of papa Hindu v/s Christian concept of sin

CONNOTATIONS OF SIN (PAPA)

in Hinduism, there are no such concepts of inherent or mortal sin, according to some theologies, which are defined as sins so grave that they can never be expiated and which cause the soul to be condemned to suffer eternally in hell (Wikipedia) "sin is an intentional transgression of divine law and is not viewed in Hinduism as a crime against God as in Judaeo-Christian religions, but rather as 1) an act against dharma, or moral order and 2) one's own self." (Dancing with Siva by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami)

IV. INDIAN CULTURAL RESPONSE TO COLONIALISM

MEGHNADVADH
Bengali epic Meghnadvadh Kavya by Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-73) Reinterpretation of the Ramayana

Traditionally sacred figures of Rama and Lakshmana portrayed as weak, feminine villians Demonic Ravana and his son Meghnad shown as majestic, modern, masculine heroes Interprets encounter b/w Rama and Ravana as a political battle with morality on the side of Ravana The epic ends tragically with the weak Rama defeating the courageous, sporting & technologically superior demons symbolized by Meghnad

MEGHNADVADH

Madhusudan was Westernized in his lifestyle and ideology and had embraced the Church of Englands version of Christianity and said that he cared only a pins head for Hinduism

Meghnadvadh had a political implication

Despised Rama and his group: weak, effeminate, antitechnologist, banished pastoral prince, austere not by choice but by compulsion Admired Ravana: strong, masculine vigour, technologically superior, accomplished warrior Freed Ravana from the traditional constraints of his Raksasa self and gave him a new stature as a scientific, learned, modern Ksatriya king The defeat of Ravana was a tragedy (ref. tragedy in Mahabharat)

BANKIM CHANDRA
Projected the qualities of Christianity (which gave Christians their strength) into the lost golden age of Hinduism Anandamath was a direct attempt to work out the implications of such a concept of religion Became the Bible of the first Indian nationalists, particularly Bengali terrorists His portayal of Krishna.

BANKIM CHANDRA

Tried to build a virtuous Krisna


Self-consistent, self-conscious and moral according to modern norms Argued against historical references to Krisna as a soft, childlike, self-contradictory, sometimes immoral character which were unacceptable by modern norms Rejected every trait of Krisna that didnt meet the requirement for a modern Christian and Islamic god Goal was to make Krisna a normal, righteous, respectable, non-pagan male hard God who would not humiliate his devotees in front of the progressive Westerners

SWAMI DAYANAND & SWAMI VIVEKANANDA


Tried to Christianize Hinduism Hindus had been great in ancient times but they had lost contact with textual Brahminism and true Ksatriyahood (Ksatratej or martial valour as criteria) Loss of masculinity and cultural regression of Hindus was due to the loss of the original Aryan qualities which they shared with the Westerners (Arya Samaj) Did not accept Hinduism as it was Tried to list the differences between the West and India and attributed the formers superiority to these differences Attempted to turn Hinduism into an organized religion, with an organized priesthood

ISHWARCHANDRA VIDYASAGAR

His diagnosis of Hinduism


Hinduism was not culturally inferior Refused to Semiticize Hinduism Fought institutionalized violence against Indian women, social reform over politics Refused to accept the theory of the golden age of Hinduism and the present dilapidated state Rejected the ideologies of masculinity and adulthood Refused to counter the West by creating a nation of super-Hindus or by defending Hinduism as an allperfect antidote to the Western cultural encroachment He failed to fully politicize this dissent

V. REACTIONS FROM BRITISHERS

REPURCUSSIONS ON BRITISH SOCIETY


India a country of millions of people. Culturally fragmented and politically heterogenous. British relatively more homogenous.

Conclusion: The long term cultural damage was greater in British society.

REPURCUSSIONS ON BRITISH SOCIETY

Brought to prominence those parts of British culture which were least tender and humane. A false sense of cultural homogeneity. A sense of moral responsibility, to civilise the uncivilised Indians. Magical feeling of omnipotence and permanence.

REPURCUSSIONS ON BRITISH SOCIETY

Four

parallel streams of responses represented by:

1)Rudyard

Kipling. 2)George Orwell. 3)Oscar Wilde. 4)Charles Freer Andrews.

RUDYARD KIPLING

Born in Bombay Sent to England at the age of 5 years. In England, was a victim of bullying, torture. This led to the foundation of his literary views.

RUDYARD KIPLING AND COLONIALISM


He was a tragic figure seeking to disown in self-hatred an aspect of his self identified with Indianess.

Considered as the prophet of British Imperialism.

The White Man's Burden gives an idea of his views on Colonislism.

WHITE MAN'S BURDEN

Emblem of European Racism and Colonialism. Eurocentric view of the world where non-Europeans seen as childlike. Western people have an obligation to civilise these child like people. Believed in the "beneficient role" which the introduction of Western ideas could play in lifting non-Western people out of poverty and ignorance.

WHITE MAN'S BURDEN


This 1890s advertisement for soap uses the theme of the White Man's Burden, encouraging white people to teach cleanliness to members of other races.

The first step towards lightening The White Man's Burden is through teaching the virtues of cleanliness. Pear's Soap is a potent factor in brightening the dark corners of the earth as civilisation advances, while amongst the cultured of all nations, it holds the highest place- it is the ideal soap.

THE WHITE MANS BURDEN

GEORGE ORWELL

Born in Bihar in British India. Sent to Britain at the age of 2. Lived in a family which was essentially a women's world. Sensitive, seclusive boy and subject to bullying. But reacted in a completely different way to colonialism.

GEORGE ORWELL AND COLONIALISM

Worked with the creative myths which colonialism forced one to disown. Believed that colonialism alienated the colonizers not only from the subjects but also from one's self. Subjugation of the ruled involved the subjugation of the rulers. His work 'Shooting an Elephant' gives an insight on his views on colonialism.

SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT

Narrator(British Police Officer) is called upon to shoot an elephant which was creating havoc in the local villages of Burma. Though guilty and reluctant to kill the elephant, narrator abandons his morals and kills the elephant to garner the approval of the Burmese. Presents the pathetic quality of life of every Britisher sent to the east.

OSCAR WILDE

Completely led his life in the European Society away from the British-India Politics. Homosexual. So protected the more feminine aspects of colonialism.

OSCAR WILDE

Wilde's sexuality was a cultural phenomenon and a statement of protest Richard Ellmann's. Wilde had a horror of conventionality which contributed to his destruction by the society Vyvyan Holland(Wilde's younger son). By defying the conventionality(sexual norms) he threatened the basic postulate of colonial attitude of British

OSCAR WILDE

By using his homosexuality as cultural ideology, he tried to sabotage his community's dominant self-image. The characters he created for his plays were parentless, who were not burdened with close authority. He spent a year in the US in 1882 lecturing about the decorative arts; he edited a high-profile woman's magazine for two years.

CHARLES FREER ANDREWS

Born and brought up in England. Suffered financial problems due to duplicity of a friend. Gandhi's associate, Named Deenbandhu 'friend of poor'.

CHARLES F ANDREWS

Totally against colonialism, instead fought as an Indian freedom fighter. Increasingly dismayed by the racist behavior and treatment of Indians by British officials and civilians, he supported Indian political aspiration Widely commemorated and respected in India

COMPARISON OF THESE FOUR RESPONSES

Early Life.

Rudyard Kipling: 5 yrs in India. George Orwell: 2 years in India. Oscar Wilde: 0 years in India. C. F. Andrews: 0 years in India.

Treatment by the society.

Each one of them bullied by the society, different reactions was due to their perception of this bullying.

VI. AND VII.

GANDHI

GANDHI V/S COLONIALISM


Although an authentic Indian, Gandhi always tried to be a living symbol of the other west. Gandhi's spirited search for the other culture of Britain was an essential part of his theory of salvation for India. He not only had the sophisticated ethical sensitivity but also political and psychological shrewdness. Redefined the concept of sexuality. Redefined the concept of progress.

GANDHI'S INDIANNESS

Non-violence as essence of true Hinduism. It was not a matter of humane Hindus versus inhuman Britons. He knew well that he would have to fight hard to establish his concept of Hinduism. He wanted to liberate the British as much as he wanted to liberate Indians.

GANDHI'S VIEWS ON SEXUALITY

Colonial ordering of sexual identities: Purusatva > Naritva > Klibatva

Gandhi used two orderings, each of which could be evoked as needed by the situation.

FIRST ORDERING

Borrowed from the great tradition of saintliness in India. Androgyny > Purusatva, Naritva Manliness and womanliness are equal, but the ability to transcend the dichotomy is superior to both. The principle of non-violence gives men access to the protective maternity and so to the godlike state of Ardhanarisvara.

SECOND ORDERING
It was invoked as a methodological justification for the anti-imperialist movement. Naritva>Purusatva>Kapurusatva The essence of femininity is superior to that of masculinity which in turn in better than cowardice. Female principle is more powerful, dangerous and uncontrollable than male principles. Woman as an object of sexuality inferior to woman as a source of motherliness.

SECOND ORDERING

Courage allows one to rise above cowardice and become a man then eventually to both the sexes. Courage is not defined by violence, but under unavoidable circumstances violence may involve. Willing victimhood and acceptance of the secondary gains of victimhood all seen as worse than violence.

GANDHI'S VIEWS ON SEXUALITY

Conclusion:
Activism

and courage could be liberated from aggressiveness and could be recognised compatible with womanlihood, particularly maternity.

GANDHI'S ANSWER TO HOMOLOGY B/W


CHILDHOOD AND POLITICAL SUBJUGATION

Rejected history and affirmed the primacy of myths over historical chronicles. Circumvented the unilinear path of history, theory of progress.

WESTERN VIEWS ON HISTORY

Theory of Progress: Mankind is progressing from primitivism to modernism. Will ultimately lead to the utopian classless society. Capitalism with all its flaws is better than feudalism which is better than savage societies. The present is a special case of unfolding history. Irreversibility of events.

GANDHI'S VIEWS ON HISTORY

The diachronic relationships of history are mirrored in the synchronic relationship of myths and are fully reproducible from the latter if the rules of transformation are known. Diachronic: Something happening over a time. Synchronic: Two mutually exclusive events happening at the same time for some purpose.

GANDHI'S VIEWS ON HISTORY

History was a special case of present waiting to be interpreted and re-interpreted. Man is obliged to not only remember the mythical history but also to re-enact a large part of it periodically.

EXAMPLE

The epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata treated as a source for the code of moral conduct rather than just books of history.

History books detailing about the kingdoms of our past are aimed at providing facts rather than any moral values to be followed.

GANDHI'S CHALLENGE TO ADULT-CHILD


RELATIONSHIP

Reaffirming the language of continuity. Re-emphasizing the language of self.

REAFFIRMING THE LANGUAGE OF CONTINUITY

Took advantage of the ambivalence towards disjunction in the ideology of modernity. Modernity seeks to locate clear cut breaks in the past. Undervalues anything insufficiently disjunctive with the past.

REAFFIRMING THE LANGUAGE OF CONTINUITY

The under-emphasis of disjunction in the Indian society was re-legitimised.

Indian culture emphasized continuity so much that even major breaks with the past passed as minor reforms.

RE-EMPHASIZING THE LANGUAGE OF SELF

Modernity: Understanding the material world leads to a greater understanding of self.

Gandhi: Understanding the inner self leads to a greater understanding of the world outside.

GANDHI'S CONCEPT OF SWARAJ

Self-governance through individuals and community building. The overall impact of the state on the people is harmful. Urged Indians to discard the dominating British Raj as it was against self-governance. But after Independence, the idea of swaraj collapsed totally with the Indian Government adopting western like policies.

VIII. CONCLUSION

In examining parts of the mindscape of British colonialism in India I have gone back into time. Has that time travel observed the rules of history or is it also a matter of myth? Did Gandhi really construct human nature and society the way I have described? Or is mine a second-order construction a secondary elaboration, as a psychoanalyst may prefer to call it which imputes to a man a new structure in the manner of Indias traditional commentators on persons and texts? Perhaps the question is irrelevant. As Gandhi so effortlessly demonstrated, for those seeking liberation, history can be made to follow from myths.