Tag Archives: Charles Trevelyan

British Education System and De-Hinduization

It is well known that after conducting a thorough survey on the Education system in Bharat ( India), the British decided that the only way to have a long rule in this country, is to destroy the native education system and in its place put up a new system of Education.

Thomas Babbington Macaulay can be called as the man behind laying down the British system of education in India. His famous Minute of Education in 1835, validated by William Bentinck is proof that either he genuinely believed in the concept of the “White Man’s burden” and was ignorant about the great history and knowledge of the Hindus, OR was deliberately maligning Bharat’s history to present his case to the British parliament so that he could get a bigger place of power in the affairs of managing Bharat. In either case, it struck a huge blow on the roots of “The Beautiful Tree” of Indian Education system. His intentions are demonstrated when he writes a letter to his father in 1836 stating ”

“…. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. Some continue to profess it as a matter of policy, but many profess themselves pure Deists and some embrace Christianity. It is my firm belief if our plans of education are followed up there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence.”

Thomas Babington Macaulay, Minute on Indian Education, 2 Feb. 1935:

[34]”In one point I fully agree with the gentlemen to whose general views I am opposed. I feel with them, that it is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population.”

He gross ignorance on Hindu knowledge is clear when he says, 

” It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England. In every branch of physical or moral philosophy, the relative position of the two nations is nearly the same.”

As expected, during the British rule, the Sanskrit scholars were struggling to meet ends meet. The students who studied Sanskrit and Vedas had no place to go. Macaualay twists this to his advantage,


” [22] Other evidence is not wanting, if other evidence were required. A petition was presented last year to the committee by several ex-students of the Sanscrit College. The petitioners stated that they had studied in the college ten or twelve years, that they had made themselves acquainted with Hindoo literature and science, that they had received certificates of proficiency. And what is the fruit of all this? “Notwithstanding such testimonials,” they say, “we have but little prospect of bettering our condition without the kind assistance of your honourable committee, the indifference with which we are generally looked upon by our countrymen leaving no hope of encouragement and assistance from them.” They therefore beg that they may be recommended to the Governor-General for places under the Government– not places of high dignity or emolument, but such as may just enable them to exist. “We want means,” they say, “for a decent living, and for our progressive improvement, which, however, we cannot obtain without the assistance of Government, by whom we have been educated and maintained from childhood.” They conclude by representing very pathetically that they are sure that it was never the intention of Government, after behaving so liberally to them during their education, to abandon them to destitution and neglect.  End of quote.

His contempt for Sanskrit is declared in the following quote

”  [31] But there is yet another argument which seems even more untenable. It is said that the Sanscrit and the Arabic are the languages in which the sacred books of a hundred millions of people are written, and that they are on that account entitled to peculiar encouragement. Assuredly it is the duty of the British Government in India to be not only tolerant but neutral on all religious questions. But to encourage the study of a literature, admitted to be of small intrinsic value, only because that literature inculcated the most serious errors on the most important subjects, is a course hardly reconcilable with reason, with morality, or even with that very neutrality which ought, as we all agree, to be sacredly preserved. It is confined that a language is barren of useful knowledge. We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false medicine, because we find them in company with a false religion. We abstain, and I trust shall always abstain, from giving any public encouragement to those who are engaged in the work of converting the natives to Christianity. And while we act thus, can we reasonably or decently bribe men, out of the revenues of the State, to waste their youth in learning how they are to purify themselves after touching an ass or what texts of the Vedas they are to repeat to expiate the crime of killing a goat? ”

The Minute of Education can be found at 


Macaulay & Charles Trevelyan – The twin destroyers :

Macaulay;s brother-in-law, Charles Trevelyan further took up the task of destruction of  the Indian education sytem. He records the impact of the system of education laid out in 1835. It is important to note that in 18 years, Trevelyan could notice that ” They become more English Than Hindoos”. This demonstrates that the goal with which the British education system was laid out became a reality.

The following extracts from a paper submitted to the Parliamentary Committee of 1853 on Indian territories titled “The Political Tendency of the Different Systems of Education in use in India” speaks volumes about the intentions in introducing the English system of education in India.  He says :

“….. The spirit of English literature, on the other hand, cannot but be favorable to the English connection. Familiarly acquainted with us by means of our literature, the Indian youth almost cease to regard us as foreigners. They speak of great men with the same enthusiasm as we do. Educated in the same way, interested in the same objects engaged in the same pursuits with ourselves, they become more English than Hindoos, just as the Roman provincial became more Romans than Gauls or Italians… Every community has its ideas of securing the universal principal, in some shape or other, is in a state of constant activity; and if it be not enlisted on our side, it must be arrayed against us. As long as the natives are left to brood over their former independence, their sole specific for improving their condition is, the immediate and total expulsion of the English…..’ It is only by the infusion of European ideas, that a new direction can be given to the national views. The young men, brought up at our seminaries, turn with contempt from the barbarous despotism under which their ancestors groaned, to the prospect of improving their national institutions on the English model…… The existing connection between two such distant countries as England and India, cannot, in the nature of things, be permanent; no effort of policy can prevent the natives from ultimately regaining their independence. But there are two ways of arriving at this point. One of these is, through the medium of revolution; the other, through that of reform. In one, the forward movement is sudden and violent, in the other, it is gradual and peaceable. One must end in a complete alienation of mind and separation of interest between ourselves and the natives; the other in a permanent alliance, founded on mutual benefits and goodwill…. The only means at our disposal for preventing the one and securing the other class of result is, to set the natives on a process of European improvement, to which they ate already sufficiently inclined. They will then cease to desire and aim at independence on the old Indian footing. A sudden change will then be impossible and a long continuance of our present connection with India will even be assured to us…. The natives will not rise against us, because we shall stoop to raise them; there will be no reaction, because there will be no pressure; the national activity will be fully and harmlessly employed in acquiring and diffusing European knowledge, and naturalizing European institutions. The educated classes, knowing that the elevation of their country on these principles can only be worked out under protection, will naturally cling to us. They even now do so….. and it will then be necessary to modify the political institutions to suit the increased intelligence of the people, and their capacity for self-government…. In following this course we should be buying no new experiment. The Romans at once civilized the nations of Europe, and attached them to their rule by Romancing them; or, in other words, by educating them in the Roman literature and arts and teaching them to emulate their conquerors instead of opposing them. Acquisitions made by superiority in war, were consolidated by superiority in the arts of peace; and the remembrance of the original violence was lost in that of the benefits which resulted from it. The provincials of Italy, Spain, Africa and Gaul, having no ambition except to imitate the Romans, and to share their privileges with them, remained to the last faithful subjects of the Empire;…… The Indian will, I hope soon stand in the same position towards us in which we once stood towards the Romans. Tacitus informs us, that it was the policy of Julius Agricola to instruct the sons of the leading men among the Britons in the literature and science of Rome and to give them a taste for the refinements of Roman civilization. We all know how well this plan answered. From being obstinate enemies, the Britons soon became attached and confiding friends; and they made more strenuous efforts to retain the Romans, than their ancestors had done to resist their invasion. It will be a shame to us if, with our greatly superior advantages, we also do not make our premature departure be dreaded as a calamity……”

Also, it must be noted that  Charles Trevelyan in his testimony before the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Government of Indian Territories on 23rd June, 1853: “….. the effect of training in European learning is to give an entirely new turn to the native mind. The young men educated in this way cease to strive after independence according to the original Native model, and aim at, improving the institutions of the country according to the English model, with the ultimate result of establishing constitutional self-government. They cease to regard us as enemies and usurpers, and they look upon us as friends and patrons, and powerful beneficent persons, under whose protection  the regeneration of their country will gradually be worked out. …..”

Unfortunately, the education system in post independent India continued this process of De-Hinduisation of India and we are today in a situation where after over 6 decades of Independence, we are yet to evolve a policy in all fields which reflects the true spirit and genius of our land. The reason for this lies in the fact that we have not bothered to develop an indigenous model of education which will unravel the genius of crores of our brethren.