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Convocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras online

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South India too has many Actons. A native gentleman of posi-
tion, at Yizagapatam, devotes himself to astronomy, and, much
to his credit, supports an Observatory. The Maharajah of
Vizianagram, forward in all good works, is, as one who bears
his title well may be, an assiduous student of Sanskrit, but the
great names of the land have not yet begun to take the place
they should do, either in the accumulation, or in the encourage-
ment, of learning. How many of you are seeking to obtain a
large and scholarly knowledge of the vernaculars of South
India ? A distinguished European savant, intimately acquainted
with Northern India, wrote to me lately : " I am going to
the Orientalist Congress at Venice in September. Could you
find me a Dravidian pundit, a man thoroughly individual and
quite unlike an Aryan pundit ? " I have made what enquiry I
could, and I think I could as easily send to Venice a live
Megatherium or a live Pterodactyl. Surely this should not be
so. In the "West, we have hundreds and hundreds of men,
who are producing literature of a high order ; and hundreds
and hundreds more, who are great scholars, pundits of profound
learning, German, French, English and what not, who do not
produce much, but whose powers of acquisition are marvellous.
I want to know whether there are many such, or any such,
amongst you, and if not, whether you do not think it highly
desirable that the class should be called into existence ? This
duty of doing something for your literature is doubly incumbent
upon such of you, as are of pure Dravidian race a race not
nearly so numerously represented amongst our graduates as it
should be, but comprising some twenty-nine millions of the
inhabitants of this Presidency.

It seems probable that you Dravidians had already made
very considerable advances in the arts of life and in govern-
ment at a remote period, by your own strength. Then came
the Aryans of the East. They gave you a great impulse.
After a vast interval of time, these were followed by the Aryans
of the West. These last are beginning to give, both to you
and to the Aryans of the East, an infinitely greater impulse,
but the last thing which any sensible man amongst them desires



208 University of Madras.

is, that you should cease to be yourselves. The fact is we
cannot afford to forego the co-operation of any race, which is
fit to take part in the work of civilized man.

Your remote connections, the aborigines of Australia, showed
themselves incapable of doing so, and are disappearing fast.

You, on the other hand, increase, multiply, and prosper,
in contact with the highest civilization known.

It is now as certain, as anything in the future can be, that,
two hundred years hence, the race and language of Shakespeare,
Burke and Byron will have beaten all other races and languages
in the struggle for existence, but, good things as are our race
and language, I, for one, should be very sorry to lose from the
concert of humanity many other voices, and I should like to see
the millions of Dravidians, who inhabit South India, taking all
the good they can get from us, without ceasing to move on their
old lines.

Like all Scotchmen, I am proud of my little coun-
try, of its history, and of the work it is doing in the world. But
I should as soon wish you to look at the world through Scottish
spectacles, or to desire for yourselves the things which Scotch-
men desire for themselves, as, standing this March morning in
the lovely gardens of Guindy, I should have wished to give
you in exchange for your climate that " hunger of the North
wind" which " bites our peaks into barrenness."

Mr. Fotilkes, the Chaplain of Coimbatore, has drawn up a
very instructive analysis of the Catalogue of books registered in
Madras in 1 884. From this, we learn, amongst other things,
that 744 books were registered during that period. Of these, 374
treated of religion, 189 were educational, and 181 miscellaneous.
It would be interesting, though I fear impossible, to have a fur-
ther analysis with a view to learn how far the higher education
which our University has been promoting, has influenced this
literature. The second field th,en, outside the professions and
callings in which I wish to invite you to labour, is the field of
literature. There are, however, many other fields.

There is for example the field of Art. It would be very

gratifying to see more of you turn your attention

^The field of j n ^^ di rec ti O n. South India is not, and never

has been, pre-eminently artistic. But one cannot

go to the school presided over by Mr. Havell, any more than visit

temples like Chidambaram or Madura, without seeing that there

is a large amount of artistic ability here, which, u nder wise g uid-

ance, and I would add under wise restraint, may produce even



1886. Rt. Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. 209

more beautiful objects than your marvellous " pillared halls. "
In a speech delivered at St. Matthias' Schools last January,
my wife called attention to the endless models for pictures and
statues, which are to be seen in Madras every day, and else-
where she urged the formation of a school for figure-drawing.
The advantages which you have here over us Northerns, whose
ghastly climate so often requires us to go about muffled to the
chin, are very obvious, and I would fain hope that the day may
come, when we shall see such a school arise.

About architecture, I am less hopeful. There was an epoch
when, in India, as in Europe, architecture was
the universal language. That was the time with
us, which " lighted with white lines of cloister the glades of the
Alpine pine, and raised into ordered spires the wild rocks of
the Norman sea." As, however, Victor Hugo has admirably
pointed out, the inoffensive looking art of printing killed all
that.* Architecture has remained, and will, in the nature of
things, ever remain, a useful and, in many of its applica-
tions, an elegant, art, but never again, amidst the complicated
wants of modern life, can so expensive a method of rendering
thought take anything like its old position in the world. Foolish
Englishmen have often railed against their countrymen for not
raising buildings in India like those of some of their
predecessors, but I should like to know what would be said if
any Indian ruler, even with the certainty of producing a building
as beautiful as the Taj, suggested callingjit into existence. Great
works of that kind are amongst the most glorious possessions of
Nations, but they imply, amidst many other things, either
forced labour on the most gigantic scale, or the turning of
almost all human energy towards the expression of thought in
architecture. Shah Jehan was a very small ruler indeed, com-
pared to the Viceroy of India in the year 1886, but just imagine
Lord Bufferings proposing to spend three crores, seventeen lakhs,
forty-eight thousand and twenty-six rupees upon another Taj !

I have very imperfect sympathy with the lamentations
that are sometimes heard, as to the disappearance of some Indian
arts and manufactures. They have often only disappeared
because Manchester, or some other European town, can serve
the Indian customer both cheaper and better, but I would wish
to watch jealously over the preservation of all those Indian arts
and manufactures, which are exceptionally good, and I would
fain see wealthy English and native gentlemen forming them-
selves into societies for the express purpose of keeping alive

* See the brilliant Chapter in Notre Dame de Paris entitled Ceci tuera Cela.
27



210 University of Madras.

every single art, which Sir George Birdwood would say was
thoroughly first-rate, thus fulfilling, and probably fulfilling much
better, the function, which used to be performed more than it is
now, by the various native courts.

A man who pays for the calling into existence of such a
piece of ironwork as that elephant goad, which we have in the
Museum here, does a positively virtuous action. In this field,
as in many other fields, you have much to learn from other parts
of India ; above all from what is in some respects the most
delightful part of a glorious country Rajpootana.

I hope the time will come when there will be a great deal

more migration within India, transfer of population

Transfer of f rom districts where it overflows to too-sparselv

population. . .. PP _ r >

populated regions, transfer or customs and transfer
of thought. These are all things which you should manage for
yourselves without interference from Europeans, for you only
can manage them well. All that the European can do is to
point out where improvements can be made, where, for example,
the graceful usages of one part of India may supersede with
advantage the ungraceful usages of another, and so all advance
by a process of indigenous growth, different from, but by no
means necessarily inferior, nay often distinctly superior, to
European works and ways.

You will have work to do, not only in advancing and regu-
lating progress, but in taking care that you do not lose precious
possessions, which you have received from your ancestors. Xo
intelligent European can study your society without
itfmeritT 16 * 7 ' seein g that you have a great many things which
other, and in some respects, much more advanced,
societies, may well envy. I may instance your simplicity of
life, your charity, your domestic union which dispenses with the
necessary but outrageously clumsy Poor-law of England, the
healthful and charming costume of your women, and, in many
parts of the country, of your men also. These are only a few of
many points in which you are superior, and which may well one day
be menaced by an injudicious following of European models. I
would have you, as to many of these things, be third-thoughted,
rather than second-though ted, to use a happy phrase of Cole-
ridge's ; I would have you " prove all things " in your ancient
traditions, but by all means likewise " hold fast that which is
good."

When History has become really studied amongst you, and
it is, after all, the highest of studies, you will, while rejecting
the exaggerations and dreams of those who claim for the



1886. Rt. Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff. 211

ancestors of the Aryan conquerors, or colonizers of North India,
a thousand virtues which they had not, be led to cling more
and more to what is really good in your own past, and to rest
wherever you do not see a proved necessity for change, "in
the statutes of the land that gave you birth."

There is one argument for beginning to produce something
valuable and distinctive, which the Chancellor of this University
has a special right to urge. It is indeed his bounden duty to
ask you to rescue your University from its critics.

We have a maxim in our sacred books which is in conso-
nance with your own Ethics, a subject to which the Cooral shows
that you gave attention in very remote times : " Freely ye have
received, freely give."

You have been drinking now for a generation at the foun-
tains of European knowledge. It is time you should begin to
give Europe something in return. The very smallest additions
to the stores of the Western men of learning, coming from the
people of Southern India, will be, I am sure, not only thankfully,
but rapturously, received.

At present, they say to us : " You show us your machinery-
your University, your schools, and much else. You are obviously
spending a great deal of money upon what you describe as the
' Higher education/ but where are your results ? If you tell us,
that you get better Government officials, and that you have even
taught some young men to abuse you in very fair English, in the
newspapers, we reply, that is all very well if it assists or amuses
you, but how does it help us, how does it add to the stock of
the world's knowledge ? We freely grant that your English
Orientalists and other men of science have done much, but there
must be something wrong in the turn you have given to your
higher education, if you have not succeeded m creating a desire
on the part of the people of South India to learn, and to tell,
more about themselves, and the country in which they live."

I confess that, when criticisms of that kind are made upon
our work, I know not what to answer, unless it be to plead the
hideousness of the anarchy and misrule, which preceded the firm
establishment of English power in this part of India. With
every year, however, that plea gets less valid. Will you not
begin to help us to meet our critics, by telling Europe something
worth knowing, which it does not already know ?

Is that impossible ? Has South India nothing of interest
to tell ? Surely the European workers have not exhausted all



212 University of Madras.

its material facts. I will not believe for a moment that they
have. It is, indeed, perfectly manifest that they have not.
" The fields are white to the harvest."

I will take only a few subjects, and first there is Ethnology.

Are you Dravidians autochthones ? Very certainly you have
much more reason to call yourselves so, than any Greek ever
had, but are you ? and, if not, how otherwise ? There is a great
amount of knowledge concerning you, collected in Dr. Macleane's
most remarkable Manual of the Administration of the Presidency
a book so valuable, that it is a gratification to me to think
that its composition synchronized with my term of office in this
country, but, again and again, the cables break off short. If
any one can pick up those cables from the bottom of the sea of
oblivion, surely it should be one of yourselves.

The Aryans of the West, by close study of the sacred lan-
guages of the Aryans of the East, have learned, not only a
great deal about their own early history, but have been able to
tell the Aryans of the East almost everything that these last
know about their own history.

Why should not you, Dravidians, after learning the scien-
tific methods of the West, apply them to your own languages ?
Study your own languages comparatively, as Bishop Caldwell
advised you years ago. He was a wise man who said : " There
is perhaps more to be learned from human language than from
anything that has been written in it."

Why again, if we want some one to decipher your own
inscriptions, must we send thousands and thousands of miles
away, and hunt up some scholar in the valley of the Danube ?

Then there is the question of the characters which you use
in writing. Are you sure that you are giving your vernaculars
a fair chance, supposing that is, you intend to retain them, as I
presume you do ? Languages which have a frightfully difficult
character, and one which is exceptionally expensive to print, are
at a great disadvantage in the battle of life.

I suppose there is no insuperable difficulty in simplifying
your characters. The Jesuits used, three hundred years ago, a
form of Roman character for writing Concany, but now-a-days,
these are changes which, if they are made at all, must be made
by the people most concerned.

And if you do not take the lead, who will ?



1886. Rt. Eon. Mountstuart ElpUnstone Grant Duff. 21 3

Then, there are the Religions of Southern India. How
little is known of these ! I do not speak of those
Southern India* religions, which came to India with the races who
dwelt behind the great range, nor of those religions
which have been brought by conquerors or traders, from beyond
the sea. There are numerous gaps in our knowledge, even of
some of the most recently introduced of these, to be filled up,
as, for instance, with regard to the so-called Syrian Christians
of Malabar, and the Jews of Cochin. We have not even yet
recovered the thread, by which they are to be connected with
the great web of human history. Why do not some of our
Christian Graduates, of whom we have so large a number, try to
do this ? Far more dinicult, however, and much larger are the
problems connected with the early religions of this part of India,
which still form an important ingredient in the system of belief,
even of many who have been greatly affected by Vedic, and other
Aryan influences, but which, in many districts, have survived, I
apprehend, with little alteration, for uncounted ages.

To the sciences of Comparative Philology and of Comparative
Religion, one of the most gifted men who ever landed on the
shores of India, I mean Sir Henry Maine, is on the way to add
a third science, for which neither he nor any one else has exactly
found a name, but which may be described as the early history
of institutions as observed chiefly in India. I grudge, however,
a little, though it is inevitable, that Aryan institutions, the
institutions of early conquerors, should engross so much atten-
tion. I want the non-Aryan people of the South to tell us
something about their institutions, which go back to a period,
as compared with which the hoariest Indo- Aryan antiquity is as
the news in Renter's latest telegram.

Has any one studied the Village Life of the South ? Are
there no facts to be collected from a careful examination of it,
which would be useful to some future Sir Henry Maine ? If
there are, surely you should be the people to collect them.

It makes one who has a strong feeling for South India, a
little sad to read such a book as Professor Max Miiller's India,
what can it teach us ? and to see how very little it has to do with
India, south of the Vindhyan range. The Vedas, and all that is
connected with them, belong to a world, not so far outside the
limits of your India as is the literature of the Western Aryans ;
but, still, outside them. I should like to see the pre-Sanskrit
element amongst you asserting itself rather more, and showing
what it could do to help on the general work of humanity.

The constant putting forward of Sanskrit literature., as if it



214 University of Madras.

were pre-eminently Indian, should stir the national pride of
some of you Tamil, Telugu, Canarese. You have less to do
with Sanskrit than we English have. Ruffianly Europeans have
sometimes been known to speak of natives of India as " Niggers,"
but they did not like the proud speakers, or writers, of Sanskrit
speak of the people of the South as legions of monkeys. It was
these Sanskrit speakers, not Europeans, who lumped up the
Southern races as Rakshasas demons. It was they who deli-
berately grounded all social distinctions upon Varna, colour.

Close observation, and Sir Henry Maine's method, may
make your Dravidian institutions tell many a strange story.

Then, there are your old manuscripts. What great facili-
ties you have for collecting these, which the European scholar,
even with all the power of Government behind him, has not got.

But I hear certain of you, who have been drinking deep
from the fountains of Mill, or Bain, or Herbert Spencer, murmur :
" Why should we collect our old books ? Your new books are
better, our old books are trash.."

To that, I reply, first, " Who has a right to say that, till
they have been examined ? " and, secondly, by repeating a ques-
tion which I remember hearing Panizzi, the great Librarian,
ask, long years ago, in the bow window of Brooks's, not a little,
I think, to the surprise of his audience " Trash ;

*" 4 what is trash ? " The idea was new to me then > but x

have learnt since that there is nothing, or next-to-
nothing, in the shape of literature, when it is dealt with by the
chemistry of genius, which may not fill up some gap, and make
light where, a moment before, there was darkness.

Then, there are coins. You will say, that the dynasties of
Southern India have but little to do with the great
drama of history. Well, it seems so, with our
present knowledge, and it may always be so ; but here it is, just
as with your manuscripts, you cannot tell till they have been
examined, and who have such facilities for collecting them, as
you ? There is hardly a bazaar in the country, where you could
not come upon coins, which might be of real interest to the
European student, which a European student himself might
never be allowed to see. Such an one was lately in one of our
towns, and found the greatest possible difficulty, although he
was a man of importance, in seeing anything. At last he pro-
duced a Rama Tunka from his pocket, and it at once acted as a
spell. Each one of you has, in his language and nationality, a
Rama Tunka in his pocket.



1886. Rt. Hon. Mountstuart ElpUnstone Grant Duff. 215

Then, to us who have been trained in that veneration for
the past which we, bold innovators as we are, in our maturer
years are all trained in, cannot understand the extraordinary
ignorance which prevails in every corner of this country about
its own objects of interest, its ancient buildings, ruins, pillars,
and so forth.

Two instances of this have recently much amused me. I
went to the great Jain temples on Mount Abu, and tried to
extract from the people on the spot something about them, other
than the two or three well-known facts. Then, still more
recently, I went to the very remarkable Mahommedan shrine at
Nagore, near Negapatam. The Jain temples were very old, the
Nagore shrine was comparatively modern, but not one answer,
which conveyed any certain idea, could I obtain at either, from
the very courteous gentlemen who took care of them. Is not
this all wrong ? Should not the history and antiquities of your
own country be one of your chief studies ? In these researches,
no reasonable man would wish to employ any one but a native
of India, if only he could find an adequately instructed person
who cared one anna about them.

I dare say, when your researches have been made, the
result will not be very gigantic. There is not recoverable proba-
bly from the Dravidian past, anything as valuable as that which
has been found in the East Aryan past, and the value of the
literary performances which Sanskrit embalms, considered merely
in themselves, and not as the key to much of human history
that was till lately unknown, has perhaps been overrated by
those who went through the toil that was necessary to secure the
prize.

Still, it is your manifest duty to recover for the world all
that is recoverable of your early days. The real golden age for
you, as for others, is not in the past, but in the future. Yet it
will be all the more golden, when it comes, if you exhume, for
use in it, every scrap of buried treasure you can find in your
long Past.

Another branch of Archaeology, the pre-historic, has hardly
excited any attention in this Presidency, and yet the best
authorities consider that there are many important secrets to be
revealed by the surface deposits of your hills and plains.

The Madras Government, tinder the advice of Professor
Huxley, and through the instrumentality of that very distinguished
Geologist, Mr. Bruce Foote, assisted by his highly intelligent
son, have made a commencement of researches in the Kurnool



216 University of Madras.

District,, but I am assured by Mr. Bruce Foote that there are, in
all directions, vestiges of the antique life of the inhabitants of
South India, ready to reward the intelligent explorer.

Why should not some of you take a part in this work ?

It might, amongst other things, lead you to the study of
geology. True it is that a portion, though only a portion, of our
districts has been surveyed by the geological experts of the
Government of India, but there is room for a whole army of
workers to follow in their track, and to glean much that is valu-
able, as well scientifically, as economically.

Then there is mineralogy. We know as yet next-to-nothing
of the mineral resources of South India. Witness
Mineralogy. ^ e craz y rugh there was a few years ago into gold-
mining speculations. Witness the very likely just as foolish
sacrifice of properties, which had been acquired at absurd prices.

You ought to know all about the mineral contents of your
soil, and who is to find this out except yourselves ? All told,
there may be 35,000* persons in this Presidency of all degrees,
more or less of English birth, but the population of the Presi-
dency is about 31,000,000.

We can do nothing but show you the way to begin. With
a view to do this, the Government has just imported a miner-
alogical surveyor. We want, however, in order to get the work
done properly, not units but legions.

Then the Fauna of the Presidency is still far from fully
worked out, even in its higher orders. There are still
discoveries to be made, if not among the mammals,
certainly amongst the birds, the reptiles, and the
fish, while, when you get below these, you pass gradually into



Online LibraryK Subba RauConvocation addresses of the universities of Bombay and Madras → online text (page 54 of 66)