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Statement of Mr Macaulay

Thursday, 16 August 2007 / Published in Articles, Madhavananda Das / 9,087 views

By Madhavananda Das

Statement of Mr Macaulay

The Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800 -1859), is infamous as one of the leaders of a British endeavor to minimize Vedic culture and promote Western Christian culture as being superior. Amongst other things, he is accredited as being one of the founders of English education in India, which replaced Sanskrit as the current medium of instruction in higher education.

For several years a statement from Mr McCauley has been widely quoted on Hindu websites. Some ISKCON devotees have also picked it up and have been citing it in their preaching. On the 2nd of February 1835 in a speech before the British Parliament, Mr McCauley is quoted as saying:

“I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation”.

A very nice statement glorifying India and revealing the ulterior motives of early 19th century British colonialism!

Only one problem: It seems it was never spoken by Mr McCauley.

If one does a little Googling on the topic you will find that it was likely manufactured by some enthusiastic Hindu with the agenda of making the British look bad.

I would humbly suggest that the devotees not cite this in public and especially not in scholarly forums. It could make ISKCON look a little foolish. The “quote” has a bad reputation amongst scholars of Indology who generally ridicule it and consider it to be false.

One person pointed out:

“It is a general misconception that this is a part of Lord McCauley’s speech to British Parliament because Lord McCauley arrived in India on 10th June 1834 and returned to England in early 1838. If in 1835 he
was in India then how could he have delivered a speech in the British Parliament? Let me also add that he arrived in India by a 3 month long journey by ship so there is no chance that the Lord made a quick visit to England (British Airways did not exist at that time) for delivering this speech.”

For more about this “quote” see the following URL:

http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/articles/dutch/macaulay.html

Vaishnava kripa prarthi, Madhavananda Das

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2 Responses to “Statement of Mr Macaulay”

  1. Thank you for pointing out that we should not use this false quote!

    Here’s the truth, which is not so pleasant….

    Lord Macauley, who went to India in the early 19th century, was responsible for the British remaking Indian education in the English medium, and based on the culture of Western Europe. He is famous for an essay he wrote about how he desired the crown to finance and organize education in India. He wrote,

    “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect…. I have never found one among them [Indians] who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is, indeed, fully admitted…. It may be safely said, that the literature now extant in that language [English] is of far greater value than all the literature which three hundred years ago was extant in all the languages of the world together.”

    (Macauley, T.B. (1958). Minute on education, in: A. T. Embree, S. Hay, S. N. Hay, & W. T. Bary (Eds.) Sources of Indian Tradition (p. 601). New York: Columbia University Press. (Original work published 1835)

    Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

  2. dayananda says :

    Good point Madhavananda Prabhu.
    Devotees should check sources and not cite unsupported Hindu sentiment. However, some may have trouble discriminating between such sentiment and Vaishnava varnasrama. Well-versed devotees may attack materialistic culture, but alliances with Hindus are probably not a good idea. Intelligent devotees know that the goal of such attacks is to establish Vaishnavism or Vaishnava varnasrama, the culture of sacrifice (yajna).

    In the context of British culture, one of Prabhupada’s statements about England is powerful, “Exploitation was their policy. A small country, and bring money from the whole world—this is their bad policy.” (Durban, Oct 6, ’75). As an extension of that exploitative culture, devotees would do well to see that America has inherited this policy of greed from Britain. For the last hundred years, England and the U.S. have established and maintained oil suzerainty throughout the world. Nevertheless, anti-Bush liberalism is a horrible solution to such greed. Vaishnava varnasrama applied as a culture of sacrifice is the only proper solution.

    Such a solution transforms American culture into one of sacrifice. For example, SB 4.21 says that although the Lord is transcendental, he accepts various forms of sacrifice by materialistic people, and this helps to foster bhakti. In “Light of Bhagavata”, Prabhupada explains that the duty of the brahmanas is to encourage the ksatriyas and vaishyas to organize and execute sacrifices. In this way, the culture of sacrifice (yajna) is the true expression of varnasrama.

    Back to Macaulay, yes, devotees should indeed attack modern culture. However, the goal is not to support Hindu sentiment, but to usher in a culture of Vaishnava supervised sacrifice as Krishna indicates in the Gita. Krishna, after describing various sacrifices, says in 4.34 that you (Arjuna) must understand these sacrifices (tad viddhi) by approaching those who have seen the truth (tattva-darsinah). This reinforces Prabhupada’s statement that the duty of initiated brahmanas is to encourage and supervise sacrifice, particularly the sankirtana sacrifice.

    Ys, d

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