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“The particular components of the cultures concerned at the time of encounter and circumstances of the encounter determine what one admires and emulates as well as what one detests and rejects.”

- Tapan Ray Chaudhuri

We think it necessary to write this article to respond to Prasenjit Duara’s initiative in re-understanding the historical evolution of India and China. In his refreshing book, Rescuing History From The Nation, Duara writes:

“The history of China can no longer be innocently a history of the West or the history of the true China. It must attend to the politics of narratives....” (p. 26)

Duara has warned us against narrativizing Chinese History “in the Enlightenment mode”., He also draws our attention to “the heterophony of the Chinese past” and “a Chineseness that is simultaneously Western and Chinese”. He thinks the existing history, i.e. discourses of history are quite contaminated by attempts both to romanticize the Enlightenment on the one hand, and to eulogize the Chineseness.

After Edward W. Said, whose Orientalism raised the objection against “orientalizing” the Asian cultures, Duara is launching another movement to cleanse historical discourses, particularly pertaining to China. We think that this should hot be a one-man show, and all like-minded Indian scholars should join in. This essay is essentially such an appeal. As the Chinese saying goes: “Jiaowang guozheng” i.e. when you right the wrong you tend to overdo. When Said raises his campaign against “Orientalism”, he also becomes suspect of indulging in Occident-baiting. When many other scholars participate in the movement initiated by Duara the movement will become cacophonic and heterophonic and its sum-total will come closer to a holistic perspective. This is the starting point and motivation of our essay.


We agree not to romanticize Enlightenment. Nevertheless we need to examine the Enlightenment and what it has brought along lo Asia, ~specifically to India and China. As honest historians, we should see enlightenment in an objective manner –avoiding the either pro- or anti- extremes. Confucius said: ” Don’t do to others what you don’t like others to do to you.” Even if History (value added historical discourse) and Enlightenment (abusing its name to stigmatize non-western civilizations) have wallowed in unjust excesses, this should not make them naked targets of tit for tat. Moreover, what we are concerned with, what we wish to re-understand in modem discourse, started with the discourse of the enlightenment. So must we start with it too.

Enlightenment is primarily a cultural historian’s broad definition of a particular historical period (roughly 16th century onwards)1 during which intellectual, cultural and artistic endeavours in Europe (and consequently in other pads of the world) was guided by a specific world-view. Two major themes in philosophical thought played the dominant role. First, in political philosophy, the development of the social contract theory from Hobbes to Locke to Rousseau, became a part of everyday talk, leading in turn to the theory of the “Rights of man”. Here, of course, both the French Revolution and American Independence became examples. The second most important theme was the increasing prestige of “Science” and consequently “knowledge based on empirical observation” rather than holy texts. Hence Darwin’s philosophy of Evolution is discursively the most important. These two major themes, of course, had their offshoots in literature and art, but it is in the questioning of religious dogma and tradition that these philosophical currents found a place in unfamiliar and entirely different cultures.

Kant’s much quoted work, What is Enlightenment, says: “Sapre Nude”2 Dare to know! Be guided by your own understanding This is the watchword of Enlightenment. (Schwartz, p. 1) Appealing to reason and through it to knowledge was one of the most powerful ideas of the 19th century that found many sympathetic ears in India and China. By the end of the 19th century, most of the authors and philosophers associated with the project of Enlightenment such as Kant, Darwin, Hume, Paine, Voltaire, Rousseau, Mill, Bentham, Adam Smith etc. had been translated into Chinese and were accessible to Indians in English versions.

The Enlightenment project worked in two ways simultaneously when it came in contact with non-western countries. At one level it constructed the non-western world as the “other” of Enlightenment. At another level, because colonialism was also the product of Enlightement, it worked as a new “enchanted” world view. The reality of colonialism was to shape the relationship the intellectuals of India and China were to develop with the project of Enlightenment. A comparable process can be identified in India and China which, to use Adorn& words, is at once an enchantment and a disenchantment.3

To regard Enlightenment as the mother of colonialism is over-simplification. Enlightenment, after all, had its human dimension, and stood on the side of the oppressed against the oppressors. However, one finds it difficult to ignore the analytical framework of dialectical materialism that a superstructure must spring up from the base, that Enlightenment was the mindset of the bourgeoisie who, after transforming themselves from the oppressed into masters of their own destiny, tended to become greatest oppressors humankind had ever seen. The bourgeoisie loved Enlightenment when opportunities shied away from them After a fundamental turn in their favour they saw super-profit, Enlightenment began to suffer schizophrenia. On the one hand. it continued  to engineer progress and enlightenment at home. On the other hand, it could not tolerate any equal, let alone superior, abroad. Britain which was far ahead of others in championing modernization and Enlightenment at home, had a very contrary attitude, in seeing socio-economic modernization in her colonies. This had a greater impact in India and China.

China and India came in contact with western ideas of enlightenment not simultaneously (China many deades later than India), but contemporaneous with their respective degradation of national sovereignty and self-respect (India many decades earlier than China). However, there was a qualitative difference in the two degradations of India and China. In the case of India, it was the irresponsibility. of the East India Company which handed over India to the British Crown like a bankrupt gamble mortgaging his ill-gotten asset to the money lender. The East India Company was both landlord (of India) and merchant rolled into one. The post-1857 revolutionary scene saw India being turned over from one landlord to another. This Scenario was described by Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) in these words:

“The feudal landlords and their kind who came from England to rule over India had the landlord’s view of the world. To them India was a vast estate belonging to the East India Company, and the landlord was the best and the natural representative of his estate and his tenants.” (Nehru, p. 308).

The Chinese scene, however, from the British angle again, was not the handover of tenants from a company to the sovereign government, but the progression of an act of forcing opium into China’s throat by the likes of Jardine and Matheson (and, of course, the East India Company) onto the followup action by waging the Opium War against China on the part the British government. After that, Sino-British relations were conducted by the British “Gun-boat Diplomacy” and the Unequal Treaty System. Britain adopted a policy of “after gaining an inch, then demand a foot” (de cun jin chi) in her aggression against China. This scenario differed greatly from what was painted by Nehru apropos of India’s becoming a stable British colony. Here, one should not ignore India’s position as a periphery-cum-sub-centre in Britain’s controlling-periphery-by-periphery global strategy, and India’s being used as a spring board in Britain’s expansion in the Eastern Hemisphere. For instance, all British wars against China were fought by Indian troops. This put China’s semi-colonial state saveral degrees lower than India’s colonial status.

Another glaring difference in the Sino-Indian comparison lies in India’s being under the umbrella of one colonial power In contrast with China’s being aggressed by almost every power on earth, from Great Britain to tiny Austria. Japan which had always been an obscure neighbour, suddenly behaved as a lord with growing ambitions to enslave China. As Sun Yat-sen declared in 1894 at the founding of “Xing-Zhong Hui” (Association for China’s Resurgence):

“A magnificent China is today treated as dirt by neighbours, and her dignified culture falls into contempt in the eyes of foreigners. … Today, we are encircled by great powers, under the close watch of the tigers and eagles who have long been covetous for our rich minerals and affluent products, and who vie with one another in nibbling and swallowing, in cutting us like a melon or a bean.“4

In both countries, this search for tools with which to understand the plight of their countries was facilitated by the new class of urban intelligentsia who had access to the world-view of the Europeans. Pannikar points out that several categorizations have been used for describing the people who were at the forefront of intellectual history in this period. In both India and China, they have been variously described as social reformers, marginal men, cultural brokers, westernizers, and compradores. (Pannikar, p, 63). In the case of China, Chow Tse-tsung points out that the major force behind the dissemination of western ideas was the increasing number of students who went on to study in Europe and America by the end of the 19th century (p, 12). The early formation of the intellectual community was in the growth of national organizations and societies and magazines brought out by these societies. This process is also common to both India and China.

British colonialism in India must be viewed from a holistic perspective. India was brought under a universal context although she could see the good things of modern civilization only through the glass windows. Through moral humiliation and economic exploitation Indian intellectuals still had enormous curiosity towards the extended horizon brought by the country’s new conquerors. They had their first flush of romance with western ideas, and saw the positive in British rule over India. As Pannikar points out, “The notion of divine dispensation - enabled the intellectuals to welcome and legitimize the colonial presence. That British rule could be an instrument not so much of exploitation and oppression, but of socio-political transformation, was an articulation of this consciousness.” (p. 32) This perspective led first of all to an attack against ‘tradition”.

Apart from the initial romaticization, the Indian intellectual response to Enlightenment continued to grow from the fellow-feeling as long as India was a part (not quite degraded) of the British Empire - even long after her Independence. The ‘Brown Englishman” scenario is a historical reality which should be assessed both positively and negatively. When Nehru referred to the early Hindu reformers, Ram Mohun Roy, Dayananda, and Vivekananda, he described them drinking from the rich streams of English literature”. (p. 363) The Indian “educated class”, said Nehru, had “admiration and acceptance of almost everything western”. (pp. 354-55).

Tapan Raychaudhuri in his study of Bengali intellegentsia points out that, ‘Implicitly the Bengali intellectuals examined afresh the two components of their own culture - the indigenous and the acquired.” (p. 22). Pannikar points out that 19th century Indian intellectuals were firm believers in the efficacy of Enlightenment as a panacea. Like Chinese intellectuals, they traced the sources of all ills in Indian society to the ignorance of the masses and the weight of traditional thought and learning.

In India, we see Liberalism replacing pre-colonial sensibilites and ideas, Mill, Spencer, Rousseau and Paine were popular amongst Indian intellectuals. The idea of liberty was first absorbed in Bengal through the work of Derozio. (Raychaudhuri, p. 13) The journals published at this time by the students of Hindu College in Calcutta between 1626-43 were influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution. More importantly, as Pannikar points out, Britain was viewed as the champion of these principles. As Rammohun Roy (1772-1663) one of the most famous of the early Indian reformers put it thus:

“A nation of people not only blessed with the enjoyment of civil and political liberty but also interested in promoting liberty and social happiness, as well as free enquiry into literary and religious subjects among those nations to which their influence extends.”

The age of Ram Mohun Roy is sometimes described as the ‘Indian Renaissance”, and later Indian intellectuals, like M.N. Roy (1667.1954), admired the courage of the “fathers of Indian Renaissance” to attack the time-honoured but enslaving social customs and prejudices” perpetuated in India. MN. Roy argued, further that India might have a great civilization but it would be ridiculous to think that the Theory of Relativity was already announced in the Vedas, and that the world should learn its science from ancient India.” Ancient Indian cultural achievement should not blind modern Indians from the reality that “the world has gone ahead.” Meanwhile, “Indian history was stagnant” hence her “cultural superstructure” failed to develop.5

Here again, one notices the enchantment with the self-defined project of Enlightenment which is felt by Indian intellectuals. They see Britain as the saviour of their country and hope that the popularization in western thought in India wilt free the country from its superstitious and irrational past, Above all, modern British institutions such as the Parliament and the legal system were praised by most Indians of this period. This admiration is what led them to accept British rule.

We must point out that just like there was a schizophrenia in Enlightenment, it was also there in the Man response to Enlightenment. In other words, enchantment and disenchantment may not be a fixed sequential order. They occurred in simultaneity, or in chicken-and-egg interrelationship, Vivekananda (1662-1902) the Mencius to spiritual leader, Ramakrishna (1636-1886), found it necessary to attack Disenchantment before he propounded Enchantment. He said:

“We talk foolishly against a material civilization. The grapes are sour. Material civilization, nay even luxury, is necessary to create work for the poor, Bread! Bread! I do not believe Inca god who cannot give me bread,”

(Ravinder Kumar, pp. 137-38).

Jawaharlal Nehru could synthesize enchantment and disenchantment as if to effect a mental healing of schizophrenia. He-wanted India “to function in line with the highest ideals of the age we live in, though we may add to them or seek to mould them in accordance with our national genius.” (p. 593) And he defined the highest ideas as “Humanism” and “Scientific Spirit’. In Nehru’s agenda of “modernization”, he saw both advantages and disadvantages of modern science to an old civilization. The advantage lies in the enlargement of “man’s understanding and control of many things”, thus de-mystifying Nature and preventing the exploitation of religious priests. The disadvantage lies in the want of holistic perspective in western science. This is dangerous to a human: “The very forces science has released overwhelm him and carry him forward relentlessly, and often an unwilling victim, to unknown shores.” (p. 594) It was this danger that made Nehru conscious about the importance of synthesizing spiritualism with materialism, “to find a harmony between the world of fact and the world of spirit”. (p. 593)

Nehru’s discourse on tradition versus modernity quickly travels from the stage of enchantment to that of disenchantment He wrote in The Discovery of India:

“Today, in the world of politics and economics there is a search for power and yet when power is attained much else of value has gone. Political trickery and intrigue take the place of idealism, and cowardice and selfishness the place of disinterested courage. Form prevails over substance, and power, so eagerly sought after, some how fails to achieve what it aimed at.” (p. 595)

Here we notice Nehru’s lament about the disappearance of “idealism” which, as we have cited a little while ago, he though was the aspiration of the modern age. In other words, he had seen “high idealism” in Enlightenment, but also discovered the dangerous trend of Enlightenment in generating materialism Saris spiritual nobleness, in leading the human being astray, in creating a world madly in quest for power.

Nehhru’s disenchantment was echoed by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-194) (or the other way round) in much stronger language. Tagore’s “last birthday address” was on “crisis of civilization”. In this address, Tagore almost summarized the entire process of metamorphosis of an Indian intellectual mind from enchantment to disenchentment journeying through western civilization. He thought so “firmly rooted in the sentiments” of Indian leaders fighting for Independence was the Indian “faith in the generosity of the English race”. Tagore admitted: “I was impressed by this evidence of liberal humanity in the character of the English and thus I was led to set them on the pedestal of my highest respect.” He, then, narrated what he saw in Japan and USSR their rapid industrialization which, then led him to resent British imperialists’ sacrificing “the welfare of the subject races to their own national greed”. He lamented that while many other countries were “marching ahead”, India alone “smothered under the dead weight of British administration, lay static in her utter helplessness.” This was “the tragic tale of the gradual loss of my faith in the claims of the European nations to civilization.“(Ghose, p. 186)

Tagore said all this in 1941 when the mad, mad world was caught by the World War II, and he squarely blamed the western civilization for it:

“.... the demon of barbarity has given up all pretence and has emerged with unconcealed fangs, ready to tear up humanity in an orgy of devastation, From one end of the world to the other the poisonous fumes of hatred darken the atmosphere. The spirit of violence which perhaps lay dorment in the psychology of the West, has at last roused itself and desecrates the spirit of Man.“(ibid, p-188)

In the above, we have sweepingly surveyed the progression of the Enlightenment discourse in India and see even a man like Tagore who had so much absorbed the western civilization into his “Visva-bharati” (the universal commonwealth) thus integrating his intellectual being into the western Brave New World, uttering such harsh words against the western civilization. Even while doing that, he still had faith in the Englishmen. He remarked : “if I had not known them, my despair at the prospect of western civilization would be unrelieved.“(ibid, p.168) A westerner may easily exhibit his bias against other civilizations and cultures, but we cannot accuse either Tagore, or Nehru, or other Indian intellectuals for incurable prejudice against the west while they censured western civilization. Nor can anyone say that Tagore and Nehru were bearers of the Brown Man’s Burden in the same manner did the bearers of the White Man’s Burden. In fact, we should go a step further to say that though of  Indian descent, Tagore and Nehru were, by and large, a part of the modern age, a part of the western civilization, cherishing the ‘highest ideals” of the west. They themselves had recognized this, and had no regret for being so. Therefore, in Tagore and Nehru we do have the romanticization of the Enlightenment, of the western civilization, of the good guys among the Englishmen, Their critique of the western civilization does not pose as a dichotomy to their romanticization of it. On the other hand, neither Tagore nor Nehru had the pretension of discoursing in ‘pure” Indian history, because their romanticization of the Indian tradition gets along very well with their romanticizing the western civilization. We have to adopt a holistic perspective to understand this phenomenon.



Although China was brought under the ambience of western civilization in a quite different manner as did India, there was undoubted enchantment of the West to the Chinese intellectuals from the initial stage a century ago uptill today. Duara has pointed out the important phenomenon of Liang Qichao (1873-1929) who, for the first time in Chinese intellectual history, wrote “the history of China in the narrative of the Enlightenment” - a “History in the linear mode”. (p. 33) Duara is also insightful1y sensitive to Liang’s basic conviction that “a people without a linear History will soon be forced off the stage of History because they have no means of forming groups and writing against others who will aggress upon them.” (p. 35) This, we feel, is quit refreshing from the Indian viewpoint. Liang Qichao’s discourse has a strong dosage of social Darwinism which is, by and large absent from Tagore’s and Nehru’s. This is easily understood. While Tagore and Nehru, were born a part and parcel of the elite of the western world, no patriot in China in modern history had such a mental setting. Duara has noted Liang’s departure in the discourse of History from his mentor and leader of the Reform Movement, Kang Youwei (1858-1927). This was because of Kang Youwei’s identifying himself as one of the last mohicans of the Confucian scholars and a part of the ruling elite of Chinese Socio-politico-cultural tradition. On the other hand, Liang Qichao, though also a Confucian scholar like Kang Youwei who had already passed the second stage of the Imperial Examination and was separated from imperial appointment by only the last exam, had opted out of the exalted company of the Chinese mandarins. Such an option enabled him to identify himself with the peril faced by China in the natural selection of social Darwinism.

We have already alluded to the two different historical backgrounds leading to India and China’s respective intercourse with Enlightenment. It can, perhaps, be said that India was firmly brought onto the lap of Enlightenment by her colonial master while China had no such good fortune. Sensible Chinese intellectuals, beginning from the anti-opium hero Commissioner Lin Zexu (l785-1850), started to peep into Enlightenment through the impressive show of British gun-boat diplomacy. As Mao Zedong humorously observed in his “On the people’s democratic dictatorship” that inspite of Chinese eagerness to enlist themselves as pupils of the West (he mentioned even the Taiping rebellion leader, Hong Xiuquan, 1813-1864), it “was very odd” that “the teachers always committed aggression against their [Chinese] pupils”6. Such an oddity persisted from Hong Xiuquan to Sun Yat- sen’s time, making the Sine-Western intercourse basically an equation between the rapacious teacher and the pitiable student. Such an equation naturally could not be stably maintained. Ram Mohun Roy could insightfully grasp this in his satire, “three Chinese converts”.7 Like their Indian counterparts, Chinese patriotic intellectuals in the late 19th and early 20th century, too, were in disarray, caught between enchantment and disenchantment. But, on the whole, the western observers gained an impression of China’s less submissive response to Enlightenment than India. The massive anti-Christian riots in China towards the end of the 19th century were often cited as convincing evidence. Scholars, led by John King Fairbank, interpreted this Chinese defiance in terms of “Sinocentrism”a proposition which has been contested amongst Indian scholars.8

Duara has joined Levenson and others to delve into the depth of Chinese concept of race, nation in terms of the subtle difference between “nationalism” and “culturalism”. But, one thing worth remembering is the peculiar circumstances in which patriotic Chinese intellectuals of the 19th and 20th centuries found themselves. In the past, a Chinese intellectual (particularly an ambitious one) could choose between three alternative life styles. First, in a lawful native mood, he tried to either become distinguished (as a Mandarin), or become rich, or become both if the going was good; otherwise he retired to his village to read and rhyme while carving out a livelihood by ancestral inheritance or by selling his intellectual property. The second alternative was to join and even lead a mass rebellion, playing the time-honoured Chinese game of “cun ze wei Wang, bai ze wei kou”, i.e if you win, you become King; and if you lose, you are branded as a bandit. The third alternative was to flee from his native place in times of natural or human calamities. Some, by their special gift and extra-hard working, could also succeed in life even abroad. As livelihood was held much more important than any other aspect of a typical Chinese human being, culture only came as a convenient supplement rather than an incurable obsession.

Levenson and others have wondered why the Chinese never exhibited strong nationalist feelings in history like the Europeans, and arbitrarily filled the Chinese vacuum with an imaginary “culturalism”. Over-playing Chinese ‘culturalism” given the impression that the Chinese are abnormal human beings with an extra cultural gene inside them. If this was really the case, we shall not be able to explain why in the Chinese reactions to western culture they went much further than other Asian nations to attack their own cultural traditions. Therefore, one must see that they are a down-to-earth practical people primarily guided by the interest of their personal and family survival and career advancement. Culture became their secondary considerations only. And it is absolutely arbitrary and distorting to put Chinese people in the extra cultural gene family. The formulation of “culturalism”, which should not have been conceived by any scholar who has an indepth understanding of the Chinese psyche, may, perhaps, serve a purpose to turn China into a whipping boy in chastening imperialist aggression.

When ambitious Chinese intellectuals like Liang Qichao, Sun Yat-sen(l866-1925) began to exercise their options among the three alternatives we have alluded to a little while ago, they found a shocking perspective that not only was there no paradise on earth because of the presence of conquerors everywhere, but the Chinese race was placed in a precarious situation of degradation to the lowest extent possible. In other words, China was being driven to the state of total extinction, and Chinese were being led to the destination of the Jews or even the black African slaves. It was this crisis that made Liang Qichao, Sun Yat sen etc. embrace social Darwinism and used the fear of natural selection to instil a mental urgency among the Chinese. Of course, they did so not to turn the yellow race into a world conqueror but to save the Chinese nation from degradation. Such a strong thrust survived in Sun Yat sen, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and is manifest in the Chinese ethos in the mainland, in Taiwan, in Hong Kong, in Southeast Asia, in North America - wherever Chinese may settle. If the non-Chinese community develop a feeling of unease today, they should trace the genesis of this fervour and see that much as some Chinese may like to be on top of the world, a new community of Yellow Man’s Burden carriers have not emerged. Some have already noticed the behaviour of the Chinese nouveaux riches, particularly those on the Mainland. The majority of them do not show ambition of their western counterparts to expand wealth endlessly without saturation. Conversely, the new emergent consumerist appetite in China shows far greater voracity than that prevails in North America and elsewhere in proportion to people’s income and production capacity. Such a phenomenon precludes a Chinese emulation of the 19th century type of European super-profit-chasing and global conquest.

Our discussion seems to have gone a little beyond what we originally intended, but it is important to see how strongly the Chinese have reacted to the “sub-colonial” scenario of Sun Yat-sen’s coinage. (Sub colonial position is worse than the colonial position.) History, of course, cannot be written by ifs and buts. But, if China were in the same position as India during the 19th and early 20th century, i.e. as a stable colony under one master who practised a kind of “responsible colonialism”9, the Chinese response to the Enlightenment would have, perhaps, been exactly the same as the Indian response.

When we compare China’s response to the western challenge with what India did, we see the exposure of two Chinese traits. First, Chinese surpass Indians in more-royal-than-the-king style of internalizing foreign influences. Second, the Chinese readiness in modifying traditions, adapting traditions to changing times is greater than that of their Indian counterparts.

In the past, we have the Chinese enthusiasm in embracing Buddhism and be its flag-bearer long after Buddhism had gone out of fashion in its own motherland - India. Today, we see the younger generations in China much more westernized than their counterparts in India although few of the Chinese understand western languages equally well as the westernized and non-westernized Indians. Lu Xun, in his Ah Q zhengzhuan (the True Story of Ah Q), created a category called Jiayang guizi (the pseudo-foreign-devil). This reminds us of the Chinese Christian converts’ being branded as Ermaozi (the secondary foreigner) during the anti-Christian riots in the end of the 19th century. Much of the popular hatred against the “Secondary Foreigners” was because of the latters’ more-royal-than-the-king behaviour, using the deterrent image of the foreign conquerors to bully the natives. Lu Xun’s Pseudo-Foreign-Devil is a caricature for such a behaviour. But, on closer examination we find an autobiographic note in presenting this notorious role by the author.10 Lu Xun, in this way, was an unrepentent Pseudo-Foreign-Devil who advised Chinese youth to read only foreign language books. A typical reflex of Lu Xun’s Pseudo-Foreign-Devil trait is his essay Moluo shill shuo (A Treatise on Mars/Demoniac Poetry Power). After praising Byron, Shelley, Pushkin etc., Lu Xun concluded: “Now, let us take up a search among Chinese writers, can we find any spiritual fighter? Can we find any sincere voice which can make our compatriots perfect and strong? Can we find any warm voice to render assistance to get us out of cold and barrenness?” Finally, he lamented that there was no voice of any sage to break the depression of China.11

We have, earlier quoted M.N. Roy’s praise for Ram Mohun Roy who had many more courageous Chinese counterparts like Liang Qichao and fellow-campaigners of the 1898 “Hundred Days’ Reform” (some of whom were executed). M.N. Roy, on the other hand, was a greater radical than Lu Xun. But, Lu Xun’s writings on the whole are not as charitable to the reformers/ revolutionaries of his own country as M.N. Roy to his Indian seniors. In Lu Xun, his generosity to foreign progressive trends and his stinginess towards native progressive trends were two sides of the same coin. To view him in totality, Lu Xun was consciously playing the destructive role not because he wanted to destroy everything Chinese, but he was targeting at the young radical readership - trying to create a disillusionment among them for “Chineseness” so that a better China might emerge. Such an approach reached its maddening height during the Cultural Revolution (1966-69) which was, as Mao Zedong reiterated, guided by Laozi’s philosophy of Bupo buli (no destruction, no construction). Paradoxically, it is the Hindu holistic perspective to project the God of Creation (Brahma), God of Destruction (Siva), and God of Preservation (Vishnu) as a three-in-one deity. It was Lu Xun and Mao Zedong who unwittingly employed this destruction-construction dialectics to the pursuit of socio-political reinvigoration.

Lu Xun’s greatest enemy (both ideologically and practically) was the “guocui” (national *quintessence) school. In his campaign against the exponents of National Quintessence (those who thought Chinese civilization was great even during the time of China’s national crisis), he was joined by a close friend Chen Duxu (1880-1942), founder of the Communist Party of China and founder-editor of Xin Qibgnjan (New Youth). In an editorial of the magazine, Chen wrote:

“Speaking of conservatism, we indeed do not know which of our traditional institutions may be fit for survival in the modern world. I would rather see the ruin of our traditional national quintessence’ than have our race of the present and future extinguished because of its unfitness for survival... The world continually progresses and will not stop.” (Chow Tse-tsung, p. 46)

Here, again, the key words of the Enlightenment discourse are easy to find - progress and survival. It is in order that China should progress that Chen wants to do away with tradition which is, in turn, identified as unfit for progress. This dichotomy between an unfit old world and a dynamic new world is common to most of the contributors to New Youth such as Hu Shi. Li Dazhao, Cai Yuanpei, the then President/Vice-Chancellor of Beijing University.

Along with a plea to do away with out-moded tradition, Chen Duxiu and Hu Shi (1891-1962) tried to cultivate the spirit of individualism in China. Hu Shi stimulated the spread of individualism by introducing Ibsen to China. Hu Shi asserted that: “society destroyed individualism”. This criticism was extended to the Chinese family system and its strict moral codes of conduct. Chen Duxiu published Samuel F. Smith’s America a hymn to freedom. (Chow Tse-tsung, p. 295). The current of liberalism prevalent in China was on the whole influenced by Rousseau’s concept of general will. Rousseau was popularized in China by Liang Qichao at the beginning of the 20th century. Other popular Western authors and their works introduced were John Stuart Mill and his On Liberty, Adam Smith and his The Wealth of Nations, Montesquieu’s L’esprit des Lois and several other works all of which emphasise reason and rule of law. Along with this was the attitude of scientism, which was described by Duara a, “the view which places all reality within the national order and deems it knowable by the method of science.” (p. 87). This was the call which led China to rebellion against all things old including classical language. In fact, the Baihua (colloquial/plain) language movement was one of the major reforms initiated during this period. (In fact, the May Fourth Movement which was supposed to be the foster-mother of the Communist Movement in China, ended as a strong drive for colloquial language and literature.) Intellectuals and students started talking and writing in modern Chinese as against the stilted formality of the classical style. This brought about not just a vernacularization of language but also of values. (Schwartz, p. 73)

India and China’s different reactions to the Enlightenment finally crystallized in their respective attitudes towards “tradition”. While concentrating on her struggle for Independence, all social forces had to unite which gave India no opportunity to wage the kind of communist revolution that saw victory in China in 1949. The result was that, as Nehru put it: “India has to struggle with traditionalism in the shape of some aspects of Hinduism, caste, etc....“12 Nehru often talked about India’s road modernization as that of China minus an “R” letter - China’s being “revolution”, and India’s, “evolution”. We think such a fundamental difference in approach deserves an intensive study if we wish to have an idepth understanding of India and China’s modernization courses. Much has been said about India’s “non-violent” tradition against China’s pursuit of a violent revolution. There must be deeper socio-political factors than the presence or absence of force, belief or non-belief of “non-violence”. After all, violence was not totally absent in the long course of India’s Independence movement, and her post-Independence socio- economic advancement.

The social status of the two countries’ respective modernization engineers could be a factor. However, social science studies have graduated from the Marxist formulation of China’s having a proletariat-peasants movement in contrast to India’s bourgeois and petty-bourgeois reform. Prof. Ravinder Kumar thinks of a broad-based “social vision” being the dynamic force in India, and practically all the Indian strata wished to correct the anomaly created by British colonialism “whereby the Indian economy was drawn into a subordinate relationship with the economy of Great Britain” - developing a cash-crop and food-grain rural economy while allowing only commerce to grow in urban India, subjecting Indian industries under bondage. It was such ‘a situation that created the Bengali intellectual awakening. (p. 140) Judging by this analysis, China, before 1949, had experienced an entire century of rural stagnancy and near bankruptcy. It was pauperization and destitution that had driven China national awakening onto the warpath - destroying the rural share-cropping system.


Lu Xun, in the same essay on “Mara Poets”, made a derogatory observation on Indian, lamenting that the great Indian civilization which had created the Vedas, the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the poems of Kalidasa, declined in race and human power, literary achievement was ruined. This dawn of civilization was transformed into a “shadowy state” (ying gou).13 Indeed, when Chinese intellectuals felt threatened about national survival in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they were fond of quoting the Indian example - an example of “wangguo nu” (slaves without their own country). This was rather harsh, but it was meant as a shock treatment for the sick Chinese mentality rather than an attempt to malign a neighbour for whom Chinese had had greatest affinity and admiration. Lu Xun had another occasion to comment negatively on India when he recommended the youths to read less Chinese books. He commented: “When I read Chinese books I feel quiescent and distanced from the real human life. When I read foreign books - with the exception of India - I feel in touch with human life, and want to do some work.”14

Liang Qichao, in his loud advocacy for Reforms in 1898 also cited the example of India, and attributed her becoming a British colony to her conservative tradition and changelessness since she was the most ancient civilization.15 Both Lu Xun and Liang Qichao referred to India because of the close-neighbour effect. Such a close-neighbour effect is also reflected in the responses on civilization by Tagore, Nehru and others. We have already alluded to Lu Xun’s habit of not being charitable to his compatriots who should have deserved a compliment or two for their endeavour to modernize China. Now, it seems that he was equally uncharitable to the contemporary Indian modernizers, but, we were told by Prof. Wang Shijing, famous biographer of Lu Xun (who was so gracious to have come to New Delhi all the way from Beijing to attend the Seminar we organized at the Jawaharlal Nehru University to commemorate Lu Xun’s birth centenary in 1981), that Lu Xun had a great admiration for Tagore. When Lu Xun lectured at the Hong Kong YMCA on February 16,1927, he said: “Let us think about what are the nations that don’t have their voices. Do we hear the voice of Egypt? Do we hear the voice of Annam, of Korea? Apart from Tagore, do we hear other voice of India?”16 So, here we find a rare occasion of Lu Xun’s praising Tagore while painting a dismal picture of Asia.

Tagore, on the other hand, adopted a very China-friendly attitude from his youth. Dr. Kalidas Nag, Tagore’s long-time secretary, wrote:

“The earliest so-far-traced reference to Tagore’s interest in Asian affairs is to be found in his Bengali article on Death Traffic in China protesting vigorously against the inhuman Opium trade of the European mer-chants. The article was published in 1881 before the foundation of the Indian National Congress.... when he read that brilliant vindication of Eastern idealism by Professor Lowes Dickinson in his Letters of John Chinaman, Tagore was the first to popularize the book in Bengali through his essay, Chinamaner Chithi (1905-06)”17

To Tagore, and here the holistic perspective dominates, the fate of India and the fate of China were interconnected. felt indignant when China was aggressed upon. The same was the mindset of Nehru. Nehru’s innumerable statements gave away his admirations for the bravery of Chinese people in fighting the Japanese aggression, Nehru’s condemnation of the Japanese aggression was only outstripped by Tagore’s correspondence with the Japanese poet Yone Noguchi in 1938. Noguchi initiated the correspondence in the hope of neutralizing Tagore and, through Tagore, the high-ups of the Indian public, but what he received was the outright condemnation of Japan and whole-hearted sympathy towards China from the Nobel laureate Tagore explained that when he protested against Westernization” during his lectures in Japan, he hoped the “land of Bushido” (Japan) would do nothing to imitate the Western “moral cannibalism”; now that Japan, too, was ruined “by their own war-lords run amok”, destroying “the inner spirit of chivalry of Japan”. Tagore said candidly rejecting an invitation to visit a Fascist Japan:

“You know I have a genuine love for the Japanese people and it is sure to hurt me too painfully to go and watch crowds of them being transported by their rulers to a neigbouring land to perpetuate acts of inhumanity which will brand their name with a lasting stain in the history of Man.”18

Tagore had admired Japan for her modern awakening and capacity to stand up before the western conquerors of the world as equals. But, Japans’ being converted into the 8th or 9th imperialist aggressors of the world (being the only non-western new comer) pained Tagore, albeit his hope for a genuine Asian resurgence in true humanist spirit was not diminished. When Tagore condemned English irresponsibility towards India in his ‘crisis in civilization”, he also criticized them in failing their “responsibility towards China in the Far Easy. When he expressed hope for the future he said: “Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the sun rises”(Ghose, p.188, 189), obviously having China in mind also. Nehru, in his discourse on modern civilization in The Discovery of India, referred to China as “static”, and wished both India and China learnt from the west, much as Liang Qichao mentioned India and China in the same breath. When Nehru stressed on the importance of spiritual value, he quoted the sayings of Confucius and Laozi (or Lao Tzu) to strengthen his argument. (p. 595-96)

As defeated nations by western imperialism, both India and China lost their independent initiatives to unite the two peoples together. Indian and Chinese modernizers could watch the social changes taking place in each other’s countries through half open windows before Independence and Liberation. However, after more than a century of reacting to the challenge and beneficial influence of Englightenment, both India and China have advanced on the road of modernization in a similar manner, One significant change in the two ancient civilizations is the pro-active role of the youths who, for many thousand years, had been suppressed by a patriarchal tradition that dominated both India and China. In India, the organization of young Bengal”, formed in the early 1830s, was dominated by youths. Members of this organization published journals (in Bengali) such as Bigyan Sar Sangraha and Gyan-anvershan. In China, there was the New Youth magazine which, like its senior Indian counterparts, was devoted to the propagation of Enlightenment and criticism of tradition. There was also the “Young Turk” movement in India which was to mobilize help and moral support for Turkey during the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913. The movement was not wide spread. But it, once again, highlighted the pro-active role of the youth in a cultural tradition that used to subject the young firmly under the guidance of the seniors.

In China, the assertion of the younger generation has been even greater than India. For one thing, all the pioneers in the socio-political movements were young in age. Liang Qichao became a prominent leader behind Emperor Guangxu’s “Hundred Day” reform edicts (1898) at the age of 25. When Sun Yat-sen started revolutionary activities in Hawaii in 1894, he was only 28, and those who supported him were almost all in their twenties and thirties. Huang Xing (1874-1916), the Commander-in-chief of the 1911 Revolution started organizing armed rebellion at the age of 30. Another fellow-revolutionary, Cai E (1882-1916), was a young man of 33 when he aborted Warlord Yuan Shikai’s dream of becoming the emperor in 1915. Mao Zedon (1893-l 976) was one of China’s earliest conscious Marxist in his thirties, and became the world-famous “red star over Chin4 at 42. Thousands of communist martyrs perished in their twenties and thirties which laid the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Lu Xun used to describe China as a “stern-eyed society” (deng yaniingde shehu,) in which the son was forbidden to take any initiative under the stern-eyes of the father. When the son became a father, he did the same to his sons, forgetting how much he had resented at the receiving end of the stern-eyes. Lu Xun did not analyse why the sons could not break away the vicious “stern-eyed” circle. But it was Enlightenment which has freed China from such a strong patriarchal tradition. Similarly, Tagore, Gandhi, Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose etc. all represented the assertion of Indian youths when they came to the limelight. Both India and China are countries full of youthful dynamism and vigour thanks to their interaction with western culture.

There has also been a sea change in both the countries about the status of women. This change has arrived through a long course of advocacy, struggle and reform. While in China, Yan Fu (1853-1931), Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao advocated education for women and an end to foot-binding, in India one of the first campaigns launched by the Bengali intelligentsia of this period was the demand to ban Sati (widow burning) and allow widow remarriage. In China, the campaign to improve the lot of women was part of a general reform of the family system. At the turn of the century, Yan Fu and other reformers, followed later by Chen Duxiu and other revolutionaries, argued that the old family system was inappropriate for China’s needs in the modern times. In 1916, Chen Duxiu. suggested that a new family system with freedom to each individual member be put in place. Writers such as Lu Xun, Hu Shi, Zhou Zuoren (1885-1968) and others called for the right of female education and the need to bring women out of confines of their houses. They even attacked the system of one-sided chastity. After the May Fourth Movement of 1919, girls started participating in the reform movement and the women’s movement started in right earnest.19

The campaign against Sati in India was started by Ram Mohun Roy in 1818. In advocating the abolition of sati, Ram Mohun based his arguments on scriptural authority as well as on humanitarian grounds. (Pannikar, p. 89). Pannikar points out that, “In a sense the debate over sati was the beginning not only of a regional, but also of a ‘national’ intellectual community It raised two questions: first, the relevance of scriptural sanction as a precondition for changing the social norms in vogue; secondly, the desirability of state intervention in socio-cultural matters.” (p. 90)

Similarly, the debate about widow remarriage started as early as1835 and was already a much discussed issue when its most famous advocate, Vidyasagar published his treatise Marriage of Hindu widows in 1856. In all public discussions that occurred on this subject, the main question remained whether scriptural sanction was possible for these issues. Along with anti-sati and widow-remarriage, there was the even more important aspect of gender equality, recognizing women’s potential to be equal to that of men.

Traditionally, India was less male-chauvinistic than China. This is proved by the existence of numerous goddesses in Indian legends in contrast to the paucity of them in early Chinese mythology. There was the interesting phenomenon of a woman, Wu Zetian, becoming a “Son of Heaven” (emperor) in Chinese history in the 8th century. She could do so only with the invocation of Buddhist sanctity. Another interesting phenomenon was the emergence of Guanyin who was supposed to be the Chinese version of Indian Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, but turned out to be the most influential Goddess of Mercy in the East upto this day This sequence of first a female replacing the male of China’s “Son of Heaven”, and then, an Indian male deity underwent sex metamorphosis in China all connected with Buddhism augured well for the women’s liberation in this otherwise extremely male-chauvinist civilization. However, the evil institution of foot binding might have implicated Buddhism because the bound feet of high-class women were to match with those of the Boddhisattvas, whose footsteps on the ground looked like just a lotus petal Today, China has stolen the thunder of even many western countries by projecting a phenomenon popularly know as yinsheng yangshuai, i.e. the thriving of women in contrast to the decline of men. In the field of sports in particular, it is the female athletes and sportspersons who have bagged most of the international honours for China. In comparison, the facelift of women’s physical and mental potential and achievements in various fields are much greater in China than in India. Conversely, women from Communist China in North America and other countries are less stable in character and in marital faithfulness, and more vulnerable to bad influences and immorality than their counterparts from India, and from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Asian countries also. Westernization has worked more fiercely in China than in India in both the benign and malignent directions so far as women are concerned.

What Duara has placed in the same category of Gandhi’s Ramarajya is the Datong idealism by a modern Chinese scholar Liang Shuming (or Liang Souming). Liang discoursed on “Eastern and Western Civilizations and their philosophies” from 1921 onwards till he died recently. His work is appropriate here because he was a student of both Indian philosophy and Neo-Confucianism. Liang classified world civilization into three(which Duara has also alluded to). He used Schopenhauer’s concept of “the will” as the basis of his division. The first was western civilization since the Renaissance. This civilization was based on what he called “the Will” going forward to seek satisfaction. It emphasized rationality, knowledge and the conquest of nature. The second was the Chinese way where the will did not go forward or backward but sideways. This way led to adjustment with circumstances rather than change. In Indian civilization Liang saw a case of atrophied will. The Indian did not go forward or adjust, he just became spiritual. This was the third way in which, spiritual life and religion were fully developed but material conditions remained abject. (Chow Tse-tsung, p. 329) However, Liang went on to criticize western civilization as a dead end because here man had become a slave to machines. He advocated a combination of eastern and western civilizational ethos as the way forward. Liang’s analysis of Indian civilization seems to hold true if we notice that in their encounter with western thought, Indian intellectuals always leave a space for spirituality.

Indian and Chinese intellectual’s fascination with the ideals of Enlightenment did cause a sea change in their world views. The discourse of enlightenment also provided them with powerful and sharp tools of analytical reasoning that the intellectuals first used to question and criticize their own civilizations and later to condemn the continuing exploitation by the West. Here we notice a similarity and divergence in the way Indian and Chinese intellectuals worked. While in India, the growth of modern nationalism led to the demands first for reform under British rule and then for total withdrawal of the British, in China the very same growth of nationalism led to the emergence of the Communist Party as the final arbitrator of the political future of China. Both countries are thus staking a claim for a modern nationhood as different from that of its colonial masters.

Raychaudhuri points out that a distinctive product of Indian nationalism was its analysis of the economic problem, especially poverty (p, 15). Naoroji’s Poverty and Un-British rule in India is the classic statement on this problem. The writer, like the other nationalists of the period, was to use precisely the arguments of Enlightenment to plead for a resurgence of native industry and manufacture. He was also to focus on the exploitative policies of the British in India and point out the drainage of resources systematically taking place. Another writer, Chandemath Basu also questioned the principles of laissez faire and pleaded for policies which would lead to the industrialization of India.

In China too, the admiration for the west turned into anti-western positions as the material conditions of Chinese society deteriorated throughout the 1920s and 1930s culminating in the civil war between the Communists and the Kuomintang factions. Here, too, the criticism of the west’s economic exploitation and imperialism was to be at the forefront of the growing search for a new alternative for the nation.

One of the first intellectuals in China to turn his back on the Western project was the xenophile Liang Qichao. He, as we have noted, had been loud in advocating western ideas. After the first World War, Liang travelled to Europe and got himself disillusioned. Writing home from Europe he noted that:

“The Europeans have dreamed a vast dream of the omnipotence of science; now they decry its bankruptcy.

This is a major turning point in current world thought.” (Chow Tse-tsung, p. 328).

Ultimately, the project of westernization had to contend with another major pull in China, that of nationalism. Like in India, this new nationalism was a product of western thought and yet it was also the basis from which to criticize the West. This is perhaps best exemplified by the Communists who made use of Marxism and combined it with elements of tradition which allowed them a critical overview of both western history and their own history. One of the main critics of the west was Qu Qiubai (1899-1935) a leading communist in the early years. Writing in the early 1930s Qu said:

“There is no cause left over from the May Fourth...China’s cultural movement must now follow the needs of the revolution. Intellectuals and students must now take off the mantle of the May Fourth! What is needed and what ought to be is that they all gather under the banner of anti-imperialism.” (Schwarzc, p. 287).

As the war with Japan escalated in the late 1930s and was followed by the massacres of Chinese people in Nanjing and other places, Qu’s point of view gained many adherents. The disillusionment with the west was further strengthened by the awareness of the racist ideology of the westerners in China. Like in India, there were several places where “dogs and Chinese” were not allowed entry. After this period, those intellectuals who continued to champion European ideas and ways were looked down upon as “slaves to foreigners who had lost their peopleness and Chineseness.” (Schwarzc, p. 288). With the victory of the communists in 1949, this criticism against the Enlightenment project as represented by the May Fourth intelligentsia reached its zenith.

In India too, along with a criticism of British economic policy, the Indian intellectual view of the British, and consequently of Europe was to suffer a jolt with the growth of racism in the latter part of the British rule. Ram Mohun Roy himself had been insulted by certain Englishman for not showing proper deference. The growing number of educated professionals, lawyers, doctors, journalists and other intellectuals, who had imbibed the ideas of the Enlightenment and been through British educational institutions were no longer willing to be second class citizens in their own country. This critique of the West is perhaps best represented- by Gandhi in India and Mao in China, both of whom turned their backs to western, products and western though.

When we mention Mao and Gandhi we virtually step beyond the framework of our discourse on enchantment and disenchantment.  On the part of Mao, he made two significant advances along the direction of modernization. First, he stood the champions of western Liberalism on their heads by embracing the propositions of Karl Marx who was the most ferocious critic of the western civilization. Then, after embracing Marx, he immediately stood him on his head by formulating his ‘Mao Zedong Thought” which was, in a way, the departure from the western modernization trends. Not only theoretically did Mao try to smuggle in the dynamism of “peasantry” to usurp the Marxian proletarian determinism, but in the political activities of the People’s Republic of China to which Mao was the supreme ruler there were a series of outlandish directives and approaches that baffled all the ideologues of historical and dialectical materialism, culminating in the Cultural Revolution and the ‘Gang of Four” agenda of willingly opting “socialist” poverty, ignorance and backwardness by rejecting bourgeois” prosperity, enlightenment and advancement.

Gandhianism in India has some resemblance to Maoism in China albeit there is no consensus among Indian social scientists, even among the Gandhian followers about the true nature of Gandhianism. One commonality between the two is self-reliance, and another is the reiteration of spiritual value. Duara has equated Gandhi’s Ramarajya idealism with the Chinese Datong utopia (p. 233) although Mao seldom championed this utopia which was distinctively Confucian. Tagore, however, christened his university with his utopian idealism of “visva-bharati” and Tan Yun-shan (1898-1983) formulated a Sine-Indian utopia, by writing “Datong” into the aims and objectives of the Sine-Indian Cultural Society of which Tagore was the President of its Indian chapter from 1934 to 1941, which position was taken over by Nehru in an honorary capacity. We should add that “Datong” and “Taiping” are similar ideals and there could be the input of “Mahasamata” in the Taiping utopia.20

We have alluded to Nehru’s reference to the “highest ideals” of the modern age, while Nehru seemed to have distanced himself from Gandhi’s Ramarajya utopia. Being highly suspicious about anything which had a religious overtone, Nehru did commend Albert Einstein’s observation that “the serious scientific workers are the only profoudly religious people.” (p. 593) Nehru also added a footnote: “Fifty years ago, Vivekananda regarded modern science as a manifestation of the real religious spirit, for it sought to understand truth by sincere effort.” (ibid) Thus, both Gandhi and Nehru went along the road of modernization by reiterating spiritualism, although there was a degree of difference in their respective reiteration by reiterating spiritualism, although there was a degree of difference in their respective reiteration.

This brief discourse about some narratives reflecting Chinese and Indian responses to the call of nation building, crisis management, and international cultural interface and synergy can help historians from India and other countries to re-examine History, and join the efforts of Professor Prasenjit Duara and other scholars in arriving at a deeper understanding on the development of Asia, particularly India and China. This has assumed even greater importance as Harvard University professor Samuel P. Huntington has drawn the contours of the ‘clash of civilizations” in the post-Cold War world. First of all, we cannot but agree with Huntington that “Human history is the history of civilizations. It is impossible to think of the development of humanity in any other terms.“21 The popularity of Huntington’s new discourse is bound to draw greater scholarly attention to civilizational behaviours. There is no doubt of the Cold War inheritance and Superpower arrogance in the Huntington But, the threat of a doomsday prospect (which is what Huntingtonism boils down to) is much more civilized than the threat of nuclear armament and that of information-based warfare. Secondly, while world civilization is becoming more democratic table and holistic, Huntingtonism seems to revoke the ghost of White Man’s Burden, and social Darwinism of the worst kind. Incidentally, Huntington has also discussed China’s “response to the West and Modernization” and seems to have picked up from Prof John King Fairbank’s waste-paper basket the following proposition:

“Unlike Japan, China’s rejectionist policy was in large part rooted in the Chinese image of itself as the

Middle Kingdom and the firm belief in superiority of Chinese culture to those of all other peoples,”22


Huntington has a very naive way in looking at the Sine-Indian cultural interface in history, as he observes:


“China’s absorption of Buddhism from India, scholars agree, failed to produce the ‘Indianization’ of China. The Chinese adopted Buddhism to Chinese purposes and needs. Chinese culture remained Chinese…The Chinese have to date consistently defeated intensive Western efforts to Christianize them.“23

The thrust of these observations is not as ridiculous as the anti-China mind behind them which could following outlandish and shocking conclusion:

“The United States, Europe, Russia, and India have thus become engaged in a truly global struggle against China, Japan, and most of lslam.“24

“With the West, Russia, China, and Japan devastated [in the war] . . . the way is open for India, if it escaped such devastation even though it was a participant, to attempt to reshape the world along Hindu lines.”25

We don’t want to turn our essay into a shadow-boxing with Huntington, but just to quote Huntington to highlight the importance of indepth understanding of civilizational intercourse which Pasenjit Duara has piloted. To return to what we have quoted at the very outset, i.e. Duara’s aim to stear clear from romanticizing either the West or China, Huntin has opened another prospect of demonizing both - even India is being implicated. Should we now - the scholars of India and China-join Duara and try to draw the contours of Ramarajya and Datong for the future destiny of humanity, or let Huntington and company push civilizations to a mutually injuring clash - enabling India to build a Hindu temple on the global debris? We look Iorward to answers and more answers!


Chow Tse-tsung (MO), The May fourth Movement: intellectual Revolution in Modern China, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Duara, Prasenjit (1995) Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning narratives of modern China, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Ghose, Sisirkumar (ed.), (1966), Tagore  for you, Calcutta : Visva-Bharati.

Kumar, Ravinder (1983) Essays in the social History of Modem India, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Pannikar, K.N. (1994) Culture, Indeology, Hegemony: lntellectuals and Social Consciousness in Colonial India., New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Raychaudhuri, Tapan (1988) Europe Reconsidered Perceptions of the West in Nineteenth Century Bengal, Delhi: Oxford University of Press.

Schwartz, V. (1986) The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919, University of California Press.

Tan Chung (1986), Triton and Dragon: Studies of Nineteenth Century China and Imperialism, Delhi : Gian Publishing House.

1. On the basic philosophy and critical criteria of the Enlightenment philosophy, see Earnest Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, Princeton, 1951.

2. Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenmenr in Hans Reiss (ed.), Kant’s Political Writings, London, 1970, p. 54.

3 Adomo and Horkheimer essentially developed the notion of disenchantment of the self away from traditional religious moorings as one of the consequences of the Industrial Revolution. We have used the concept here to express the complicated relationship that existed between the Indian and Chinese intellectuals and the project of Enlightenment.

4. Cited in Wu Tsu-hsiang, Sun Yixan Xiansheng Zhuan (Biography of Sun Yat-sen), Hong Kong: Far East Book Company, 1982, Vol. 1, p. 114.

5. M./V. ROJ “Indian Renaissance" in Verinder Grover (ed.), MN. Roy, New Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, I1991, pp. 101-103.

6. Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung Vol. IV, Beijing/Peking: Foreign Language Press 1969, pp. 412-13.

7. See Part II, the first piece quoted in this volume.

9. Tan Chung coined the words of “responsible imperialism” and “irresponsible imperialism” in his discourse on the “unequal treaty system”. (See Tan Chung, pp. 250-58).

10. Tan Chung, “Ah Q or Superman? An appraisal of the appraisals of Lu Xun”, in China Report, Vol. XIII, Nos. 2&3 (March-June), 1982, pp. 25-26.

11.    See Lu Xun Quanji (Collected Works of Lu Xun), Beijing: People’s Publishing House, 1981, Vol. 1, pp. 63-100.

12.    Nehru’s Presidential address at the general body meeting of the Indian Institute of Public Administration in New Delhi on April 6, 1957. See Jawaharlal Nehru’s Speeches, Vol. 3 (1953-1957), New Delhi : Publications Division, 1983, p. 165.

13. Lu Xun Quanji, Vol. 1, p. 63.

14. ibid, Vol. 3, p. 12.

15. Liang Qichao, “Lun bubianfazhi hai “(on the harm of non-reform), in Wuxu bianfa (the 1898 Reforms), reference materials compiled by the China Historical Society, Shanghai: People’s Publishing House, 1957, Vol. 3, p. 12.

16. Lu Xun Ckmji, vd. 4, p.15.

17. Kalidas Nag, Discowy of Asia, Calcutta: The Institute of Asian African Relations, 1957, p. 9.

18. See Poet to Poet, Santiniketan: Sino-Indian Cultural Society, 1938, passim.

19. For details, see Ravni Thakur’s article in this volume.

20. See Tan Chung’s article “Sino-Indian Perspective” in this volume.

21. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations And The Remaking of World Order, paperback, Penguin Books, 1997, p. 40.

22. Ibid, p. 72.

23. Ibid, p. 76.

24. Ibid, p. 315.

25. Ibid, p. 316.


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© 1998 Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi

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