Interesting excerpts from Monier Williams account of India

Monier-William’s 1879 book “Modern India and the Indians” ( On sanskrit fluency:

इनलाइन चित्र 1

On the vitality of sanskrit: http://i.imgur.com/05TVh3O.png

  • Above all, let those who are preparing for an Indian career bear in mind that Sanskrit is the only source of life, health and vigour to all the spoken languages of the Hindus, the only repository of Hindu religious creeds, customs and observances.

Sanskrit and Vedanga education

  • I made a point of visiting the well-known Sanskrit Tols at Nuddea, and found them frequented by students from all parts of India, some learning grammar, which may occupy from seven to twelve years ; some law, which may require a ten years’ course ; and a large number studying the Nyaya system of logic, which may necessitate from thirteen to twenty-two years’ curriculum. Both teachers and stu dents in these schools of learning are of course Brahmans. from seven to twelve years ; some law, which may require a ten years’ course ; and a large number studying the Nyaya system of logic, which may necessitate from thirteen to twenty-two years’ curriculum. Both teachers and stu dents in these schools of learning are of course Brahmans. …
  • I also visited schools of native learning in other parts of India, and arrived at the conclusion that the old type of Pandit, trained to repeat whole departments of Sanskrit literature by heart, is dying out. On the other hand, it seemed to me that Sanskrit learning, as encouraged by us and learnt on principles of European philology, is decidedly on the increase.

The effect of English education:

  • “On the contrary, English has scarcely made its way at all among the masses of the people. Nevertheless, the cultivation of the language of the ruling race is becoming increasingly common at all the principal towns. It is taught at all Government and Missionary Schools and Colleges, and even at all larger native schools. Everywhere I found it both cultivated and spoken fluently by most educated Indians — to the neglect, I am sorry to say, of their own vernacular languages.”

A significant remark on castes:

इनलाइन चित्र 1

  • On the untouchables/ sweeper castes
  • The money lender – http://i.imgur.com/SUAPakC.png
  • The village purohita and the barber – http://i.imgur.com/P2E8osF.png
  • On Khoja businessmen – http://i.imgur.com/vlaUegE.png
  • On voyages and concerns of caste-purity: http://i.imgur.com/KVVMHcC.png
  • Religious observance – http://i.imgur.com/MdjNSjn.png
  • Female infanticide – http://i.imgur.com/fl05U6a.png
  • Suicides
  • State of some widows
    • Such a widow belongs for ever to her dead husband. A widower may marry again, but a widow never. She is made a household drudge. She is expected to get up at four a.m. before the servants of the family. No one will supply her with water. She must go to the well and fetch water for herself. It is unlucky to meet her. She is supposed to be in eternal mourning for her deceased lord, though she may never have seen him except at her child-wedding. She must practise a perpetual fast, and only eat one meal a day. If her young husband had acquired property of his own before his death and the household is still undivided, all such pro perty is taken by her brothers-in-law. She retains nothing but her ornaments, which she must on no account wear. She is told that she cannot have food given to her till she has ‘ eaten her jewels.’ In other words, she is expected to sell her ornaments to prevent herself from starving. In short, she suffers a living death, and would often cheerfully give herself up to be burnt, if the law would allow her.
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