Michel Danino is an Indologist. And he doesn’t need any more credentials to that effect after this book Indian Culture and India’s Future. Written as a true Indologist, the book introduces or shall I say tries to re-introduce the ancient heritage of this land, which was evolved scientifically, culturally, artistically and philosophically. Somewhere down the line, the land became a favorite with invaders. And then a series of invaders came, plundered, damaged, captured and ruled. When they all left, at least politically, we were too weak. And too much under their influence to look back at the time before they came.
In the first section, the author introduces you to the various aspects of ancient Indian civilizations. And its achievements, lots of which you would have heard or read about but not may be in a single space. He talks extensively about the scientific Indian mind during the ancient times. And their love for large numbers and their connection with Infinity. He talks about their love for nature. And how they lived harmoniously and in sync with the nature around them. He talks about his favorite hypothesis of “No Aryan invasion” after Harappan civilization and about the continuity of the same civilizations to this date. Having his roots in France, he devotes one chapter to the Indo-French connection.
In the next section, he talks about how the Indian mind was taken over by the cultures that invaded it. How invaders came with an agenda of trade and commerce but decided to settle here and rule the natives. He talks about the development of colonial mindset. He then addresses the dilemmas of the current generation. And their alienation with their own culture. He calls this age as the age of confusion for India and especially its youth. He tries to find an answer in Bhagwad Geeta. And says the Indian youth need to understand their Dharma.
He very critically talks about the spread of Christianity and Islam in the country today. And how the Hindus are being totally ignored and sidelined in the name of the majority. This analysis is very courageous. If a Hindu (I am not sure if Danino has converted to a Hindu) had said these things, I am sure the book would have been banned by now. Thankfully that has not happened. I would urge all our frontline leaders to answer the pointed questions that have been raised by the author. They are very legitimate questions.
The author is deeply influenced by Swami Aurobindo and his companion, popularly known as Mother. He quotes him throughout the book. And is somewhere hurt by the fact that he did not get his due, neither during the freedom movement and nor after the freedom through his thoughts.
The book does not offer anything new; most of what it says is pretty well known to most Indians. Maybe not in as much detail and maybe not with so many facts. But the way it has been put together and given a perspective is interesting. Michel comes out as a true blue Indologist whose love for India and its ancient culture is visible throughout the book and in his anger on the current state of affairs. I wish more Indians could share his love for India and its roots.
I wish I could make Indian youth read this book Indian Culture and India’s Future.