[INDOLOGY] Re : Re: crossing oceans?
dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk
dermot at grevatt.force9.co.uk
Fri Oct 14 05:34:05 EDT 2016
Sea voyage became an issue in the 19th century, especially in Kolkata, due to a number of
factors. There were increased facilities for travel, and also increased incentives: the wish to
meet people one had corresponded with (e.g. Rammohun Roy), the wish to spread one's
own version of the "spiritual" Hindu tradition in the "materialist" West (e.g. Keshub Chunder
Sen, Vivekananda), employment, and study.
There was also the rise, in early 19th-century Kolkata, of a newly rich class, some of whose
members sought to legitimate its status by appeal to tradition, while at the same time
constructing that tradition through elaborate expenditure on shraddhs (rites for the dead),
pilgrimages, Durga puja, and other rituals, together with elaborate measures to maintain
purity and avoid pollution (brief account, with refs, in my Rammohun Roy in Hindu and
Christian Tradition, pp. 27-29). Other members of the same class (including those known as
"Young Bengal") repudiated Hindu tradition, or those parts of it they considered degenerate,
and became atheists, Christians, Brahmos, or (later in the 19th century) Theosophists. I must
add, though it is often not mentioned, that those who publicly took either of these stances
were predominantly, and for much of the nineteenth century exclusively, male. This class
consisted mainly of three hereditary groups: brahmins, kayasthas and vaidyas; the latter two
claimed dvija status which was disputed by others.
As Catherine Clémentin-Ojha points out, sea travel becomes an issue on return from
overseas. The question arose whether to capitulate to tradition by performing prayascitta
(involving the ingestion of the five products of the cow) or to assert one's independence and
modernity by refusing it.
On 13 Oct 2016 at 15:19, Robert Goldman wrote:
I believe that Clementin is no doubt correct in seeing the issue as connected with taboos on
diet (and alsomingling with outsiders and their custom). Perhaps it originates with the old
notions such as that of Manusmti 2.22 etc. of the Aryavarta bounded east and west by the
oceans as the (only) suitable homeland for the "Aryas." Then too one sees in the 19th
century such issues as Indian troops in the company army, many of whom were brahmans,
being aggrieved at being made to fight in Burma. But this issue also affected non-brahman
higher caste groups as we see from Gandhi's account of the concern of his caste fellows
about his voyage to England and the "´suddhi" he had to undergo on his return.
Dr. R. P. Goldman
Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor in South and Southeast Asian Studies
Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies MC # 2540
The University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-2540
On Oct 13, 2016, at 10:10 AM, Clementin Catherine
<catherine.clementin-ojha at ehess.fr> wrote:
Dear Dr Wujastyk,
The taboo on crossing the ocean was essentially a 19th century social issue, but
it does not mean it was not found earlier. The main problem was not so much
the crossing per se but the fact that on board one could not follow food
regulations. By crossing the sea therefore, one ran the risk of losing one's caste.
But again this was an issue only for those who came back to India, not for
those who stayed abroad and outside Hindu society.
I have attempted to synthetize the main aspects of the question of sea travel for
the Brill Encyclopedia of Hinduism (Catherine Clémentin-Ojha, "Travel
Regulations", in: Brill's Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Edited by: Knut A.
Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted
online on 13 October 2016
published online: 2012). I can also send a pdf of the same.
As for the ocean itself, we might also recall that according to ancient Indian
cosmology the "Indian space" is entirely surrounded by sea.
Catherine Clémentin-Ojha, Paris
----- Mail d'origine -----
De: alakendu das <mailmealakendudas at rediffmail.com>
À: wujastyk at gmail.com
Cc: indology at list.indology.info
Envoyé: Thu, 13 Oct 2016 18:17:53 +0200 (CEST)
Objet: Re: [INDOLOGY] crossing oceans?
Yes, 'Ocean' has often been used in Ancient Indian texts. The probable reason
may be to relate the vastness of our life ,with its myriad of complexities. to the
vastness of an ocean. This perhaps is relevant, since the ultimate aim of our
life,according to our ancient Indian philosophy ,is to attain enlightenment in
life,and thereby bypass all mundane problems ,by way of Realisation of our Self
( i.e.Atmana) .
A quote from Shankaracharya's Vivekchuramani-
Uddharen Atmanam Atmana Magnau Samsar Baridah .
Here the word'Samsar Baridah'implies THIS LIFE-OCEAN depicting the
various shades, Crest-nadir,the tumultous multititude of our life-cycle
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