Social Scientist. v 16, no. 158 (July 1986) p. 72.


Graphics file for this page
1^ SOCIAL SCIENTIST

As a method, historiography surveys the field and identifies specific questions which need to be raised and discussed, particularly where the character of source materials relies too much on supposition and hypothesis. It also stresses not only the accumulation of ideas in such a survey, but also the/struggle of ideas which is a part of the cultural life of any country. Historiographic research ranges over philosophy and politics, literature and art, the general spiritual climate of the age and the specific "national spirit" of the area under study. In contrast to this, the economic and political penetration of the leading West European countries into Asia, led to the ideology of colonialism having an unfavourable influence on scientific research in the field of Oriental studies. As a result, British Indology exhibits scornful opinions of the people and culture of the East as well as the idea of the superiority of European civilization. This was as much a distortion, as the earlier Romantic view current in Germany, of overestimating the ancient age of Indian culture and considering it to be the source of world civilization.

The Russian school is not widely know in our country because of language difficulties and the general prejudice against Russian scholarship. The Image of India brings to our notice the wealth of literature that has been translated for research in the USSR on the subject of Indian culture and history, and reveals a deep respect for the Indian people and a desire to understand developments that link India with the rest of the world. It covers the pre-18th century period and subsequently, the development of Soviet Indology, in the best Russian Oriental studies tradition. The Russian tradition differs from the European in that that it was based on the 18th century Enlighteners, who were opposed to Tsarist policies and ideology. The 19th century brought in liberal and democratic thoughts, which were anti-colonial and placed the Russians on the side of the enslaved people of the East who were struggling for liberation from the yoke of colonial exploitation. After the October Revolution, Lenin played an important role in bringing about many fundamental changes in Oriental Studies as a part of the programme of socialist construction and stressed the need for spreading knowledge about India among the broad strata of the Russian masses.

Such a historical perspective establishes the fact that Russian science did not concentrate almost exclusively on the people of Europe whilst ignoring the great thousand year old history of the other people of the world. The Russians held that there could be no world history that did not include the East, hi contrast to historians like von Ranke who provided a theoretical basis for excluding India from the general process of world history. The absence of Eurocentrism is a distinguishing feature of Soviet Indology. The Russians considered the aim of science to be the study of mankind, whose unity was more important than the barriers of the natural or socio-cultural environment. Vasilyev wrote: "The remote East is populated by our brothers......They have their



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Wednesday 12 July 2017 at 18:02 by dsal@uchicago.edu
The URL of this page is: https://dsal.uchicago.edu/books/socialscientist/text.html