Max Mueller & Correcting History: One Step at a Time
I read this interview of Dr Prodosh Aich a few months back but did not post it as I wanted to get my hands on his book. “Lies on Long Legs” is a painstakingly researched book that goes back to primary sources in an effort to find out more about the “History” of India – as we know about it today. Who were these people who “authored” this “history”? What was the basis of their interpretations? What were their intentions? What was their training? What were the factors that might have coloured their understanding and narrative? Dr Aich has attempted to answer these questions in his work. In the interview (excerpts below), Dr Aich labels Max Mueller a “swindler” and William Jones a “fraud”. Amongst the many startling things I learnt was that Max Mueller apparently had no formal training in Sanskrit.
What Dr Aich has done – going back to the roots – reminds me of the painstaking work of Dr V S Godbole – who has gone back to the “roots” to unearth more information about Taj Mahal – which to the best of my knowledge has not been challenged so far. Sadly, his work has been completely ignored by media. I hope Dr Aich fares better. Below, some excerpts from the interview with Dr Prodosh Aich (I’ll be posting a few excerpts from the book later on). The book is available for purchase online via Samskriti. [UPDATE: You can now read the entire book online on this link]. In the meantime, read on (emphasis mine)…
*** Excerpts begin ***
Question: Your book ‘Lies with long legs’ has recently been published. What is this about?
Answer: Whatever, we know about discoveries, scholars, scientists, are mostly not true. For example, when you get a book today there are references and these references go back 10, 20 or 30 years. They don’t go back beyond that. On every page, one finds quotations but you will never find that a quotation has been challenged. One never checks whether that quotation is correct or not. It is just accepted. What ever is printed is accepted.
Q: So every word is taken as a gospel?
A: No, not as a gospel. It has been accepted in the academic world. And if you have 20 books on one subject, you can be sure that there would be another 20 books on the same subject but with almost same references. They will never go back to roots. What, I have done. I have tried to question. I put , to start with, a simple question. “Well you are telling me this. How do you know that it is true”? Then I look into the bibliography of these books…
Q: So, you have done a research on India?
A: No, that is not correct. As a matter of fact, I have not done any research. I wanted to know, who are these Aryans, Indo-Europeans and Indo-Germans and then tried to find out answers in the reference books and literature…I was very astonished to see that “Indo-Aryan” (the word) is very young. It came in vogue in the 19th century rather was invented in the second half of the19th century.
Q: Max Mueller is a very renowned name in India. We have a Max Mueller Institute here where German language is taught and various other activities are conducted. In my understanding, Max Mueller had a command on Sanskrit language and he translated Vedas and other works of Sanskrit. How did he come to acquire immense knowledge of the ancient language which incidentally was not a spoken language?
A: Max Mueller. It is not his name. His name was Friedrich Maximillan Mueller. He did not publish in German. He did not get a job in Germany. He got a job with the East India Company in England. Most of his writings are in English. He was neither a scholar nor (did) he knew Sanskrit. He was a swindler.
Q: You call him a swindler?
A: I call him a swindler. I can provide proofs in support of my assertion. I can reason it out also. Max Mueller had assumed that he was a scholar. From his own autobiography, from biographies written by his son and wife, from other biographies, from his other writings, and from his letters, we can reconstruct his life from birth to his death. After passing the High School, he never appeared in any examination rather never cleared any examination…Yet he calls himself a Master of Arts (MA). His wife calls him a Doctor of Philosophy. His wife maintains that he was a Ph. D. from the Leipzig University. There is no record at the Leipzig University or any proof that he appeared in any examination there.
…Q: OK, but there are people who without going to school or university acquire knowledge of languages. So what about his knowledge of Sanskrit.
A: That is a different issue but one can’t describe oneself as a scholar or ascribe degrees to oneself without clearing any examination….Max Mueller never came to India…So the question arises that if had not learnt Sanskrit in India then he must have learnt it in Europe. So this is another part of my book ‘Lies with long legs’ as we have tried to find out who was the first person, the pioneer, who taught Sanskrit in Europe.
Q: So who was this person?
A: He was a nobody, He was a simple boy of 18 when he came to India as an ordinary soldier. He completed is term and roamed around in India and then reached France. There he said that he knew Sanskrit. Quality of his knowledge of Sanskrit was that he knew the Devnagri alphabet well but beyond that he could not make a distinction between the language and script.
Q :What was his name?
A: Alexander Hamilton was his name. There is a long story about him in the book because people said that he was a great Sanskrit scholar. So we traced his roots also. The most interesting thing while doing this book was that though all the material is available in the libraries, no one else worked on the available material. If some one claimed that a he was a scholar then nobody questioned that claim. Everyone started saying that the person was a scholar as it is written in printed words. It was presumed that if one taught Sanskrit to others then he knew Sanskrit.
…Q: Sanskrit was never a spoken language so how can this be learnt without a teacher? The language had to be learnt systematically for 6 to 7 years so that one could translate works like the Vedas?
A: It is not your opinion alone Even some European thought the same. Unfortunately those who learnt Sanskrit systematically did not teach the language in Europe. Heinrich Roth was one such person who came to India and landed in Goa and from there was transferred to Agra. There he became the principal of a Jesuit college. He belonged to Jesuit order. In Agra, he learnt Sanskrit for six years, mastered the language so well that he “discussed” with the Brahmins in Sanskrit. Having understood the importance of Sanskrit, he compiled a grammar book with Latin explanatory notes added to it. As a matter of fact, he produced a simplified version of Panini’s grammar…The Sanskrit grammar vanished in the Vatican library. It was traced in 1988 and all Indologists agree that quality of this grammar book was far superior to the ones upon which Sanskrit was being taught in Europe. Others did not learn Sanskrit properly but they stoutly maintained that they knew Sanskrit.
…Europeans who never came to India but learnt Sanskrit alphabets and saw Bhagvat Gita and recognised its alphabets. They could possibly recognise words but they did not understand it. So they would collect more book and apply their Christian mind and say that this is not logical so it has to be this or that. In this process, they were also trying to compile a dictionary. There was never a Sanskrit dictionary as grammar is the key to Sanskrit language. But they were trying to compile a dictionary word by word.
So in this way they have transported a type of Sanskrit to Europe where I have doubts that it is Sanskrit at all. But the tragic part is that this Sanskrit has been imported back to India. This is what we learn in India with the help of the Sanskrit dictionaries. The standard dictionary of Sanskirt here is of Sir Monier Monier who also never came to India before compiling his dictionary in 1854. He collected all materials and prepared a dictionary diligently. But this dictionary was not available to Max Mueller. Max Mueller had only one dictionary written by one Wilson. He also stayed in Calcutta. He was a medical doctor. He served as Director of a mint because he had some knowledge of chemicals. He interacted with Bengali Pundits and he prepared the dictionary with the help of the Pundits of Calcutta in as late as 1819 when the first Sanskrit dictionary came out. At best, Max Mueller could have used this dictionary. Max Mueller was at a place where Wilson taught Sanskrit. Max Mueller observes in his biography that Wilson did not have enough knowledge of Sanskrit.
Q: So you make a dictionary without learning a language?
A: Possibly one could make a dictionary. Definitely not a good one. If you went to China and you met some Chinese and understood what they said and you understood it then make a dictionary.
Q: But with this kind of dictionary, one can’t translate?
A: Definitely not. But did he translate? In order to translate, one has to have a command on both languages. I think he had command on German and English. But whatever you translate from Sanskrit and even if one has command on both languages, it would be reflection of one’s mind. Max Mueller did not understand Sanskrit. He had never read a Sanskrit text. He had read Sanskrit text with the help of translation made by others.
*** Excerpts end ***
Read the full transcript of the interview here.
UPDATE: You can now read the entire book online on this link
P.S. In this context, another interesting excerpt from Founding Fathers of Astronomy:
In these days of pseudo-secular anti-Hindu India, being actively promoted by the Government of India, scholarship only means being at home with what is written by the western scholars, who have during the last 250 years, continuously discredited the ancient part of Indian culture and tried their very best to bring down the dates to suit their colonial, Christian and now political purpose. If we carefully look into the works of the Englishmen and Europeans published during the 167 years of uninterrupted reign from Warren Hastings in 1772 to the beginning of World War II, for example, hundreds of books were published related to the topics of Indian religion, history and culture, we will find that accounts for all of those works were maliciously falsified and manipulated according to a definite plan as desired by the British Government. William Jones laid the foundation in 1784 AD for the Western History of Ancient India. He deliberately created the problem of the two Chandra Guptas and thus reduced by 1200 years the chronology of India.
This pattern of distortion was continued and perfected by Lord Macaulay, who financed Max Muller (1823-1900) to translate the Rig Veda in a way that would destroy the beliefs of the newly English-educated Indians in their ancient literature. Max Muller agreed to that undertaking for the sake of Christianity and not for advancing the cause of sacred Vedic Heritage. Likewise the British Government——very much like the anti-Hindu and anti-National Government of India actively and openly manipulating the pro-Islamic and pro-Christian NCERT Textbooks today—then paid Pundit Taranath, Sanskrit Professor in Calcutta Sanskrit College, to misinterpret certain words of the Vedic Samhita that should reflect the meaning according to Max Muller’s translation of Rig Veda. As part of this mischievous political arrangement, Taranath compiled a huge dictionary called VACHASPATHYAM IN 1863 AD. He artfully corrupted the meaning of certain Vedic words. The pseudo-secular Anti-Hindu fake scholars of today are still using this Dictionary born out of colonial politics as their Bible for reference and political research today!