India in the Eyes of Europeans
Conceptualization of Religion in Theology and Oriental Studies
Asian studies, religion
paperback, 244 pp., 1. edition
published: december 2021
recommended price: 350 czk
This book is centered around the claim that although the research in Oriental and religious studies seemingly presents unbiased, objective interpretations of Indian traditions, it really puts forward distorted images which primarily reflect the researchers’ own European culture. A thorough examination demonstrates to what extent Oriental studies as well as other humanities are still influenced by theological preconceptions. English edition.
You can listen to the interview with Martin Fárek here.
With this book, Prof. Martin Farek has produced an extraordinary product of intellectual labour. He has done a systematic, cogent analysis of the European cultural framework, and how it structured the European experience of India. As a part of his analysis, Prof. Farek produces clear, well-reasoned arguments that show how Christian theology provides the foundation for the European cultural framework. The implication of this finding is that the European descriptions of Indian culture are not scientific, veridical descriptions, but rather one culture’s experience of another culture. Farek also produces strong counter evidence to the claims of the European Indologists and Orientalists that have been accepted as truisms by most of the academics as well as the general public. In the process, he also displays his erudition as a scholar as he relies on multiple texts and sources from a variety of different scholars working within a variety of disciplines.
This is an important book not just for scholars of Indology and South Asian studies, but also the general Indian public. The Orientalists’ descriptions of Indian culture become the planks on which the Indian state has devised its policies for the governance of Indian society since independence. In order to effectively challenge those policies, it is important for us to understand the framework that produced those descriptions in the first place. More importantly, the modern Indian has accepted the Western descriptions of his or her society as true, without understanding the framework behind these descriptions. The European descriptions of India become occluding structures, that prevent Indians from accessing their own cultural experience. Hence, it becomes important for Indians to understand the Western cultural framework, and how that framework produced descriptions of Indian culture and society that are accepted as facts today.
Dr. Arvind Kaushik (Indica Today Part I and Part II)
The finest aspect of their writings is that it never descends to abuse, polemic, or rhetoric. Both West and the East stand as equals facing each other with the potential to learn from each other. Only a very superficial reading and a shallow understanding can construct them as ‘anti-Christian’ or even worse, ‘pro-Hindutva.’ Their extremely scholarly output put forth in lucid language, makes sense to laypersons and ordinary concerned citizens as it connects well to their lived experiences and shows some solid solutions which the present narratives fail to provide.
Pingali Gopal (Pragyata)