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Relationship: Rape of Indian Women
In a ‘letter to a Member of the National Assembly,’
written in 1772, Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
British statesman, parliamentary orator and political thinker, played a
prominent part in all major political issues for about 30 years after 1765, and
remained an important figure in the history of political theory, describes the colonial relationship between England and
India as poised between courtship and rape: 1767, he declared, marked the year
when the “administration discovered that the East India Company were guardians
to a very handsome and rich lady in Hindostan.
Accordingly, they set parliament in motion; and
parliament….directly became a suitor, and took the lady into its tender, fond,
grasping arms, pretending all the while that it meant nothing but what was fair
and honorable; that no rape or violence was intended; that its sole aim was to
rescue her and her fortune our of the pilfering hands of a set of rapacious
stewards, who had let her estate run to waste, and had committed various
depredations. By 1787, Burke amplified his criticism of
Warren Hastings, the Governor General of Bengal between 1774 and 1785, charging
him not only with promoting the economic rape of India but also with the literal
rape of Indian women. Moved by his inflammatory rhetoric, Burke’s
colleagues in the House of Commons initiated proceedings to remove Hastings from
the seat he then occupied in the House of Lords.
the trial Burke enumerated his charges against Warren Hastings, proclaiming not
only that he had countenanced the use of sexual violence as a strategy of
control by his colonial subordinates but that he had also personally “undone
women of the first rank” in India, noting especially his humiliation of the
Princesses of Oude in 1772-1773. In one speech, Burke
vividly catalogued the barbaric treatment that Indian women received at the
hands of Hastings and his men:
Virgins, who had never seen the sun, were dragged from the
innocent sanctuaries of their houses, and in the open court of justice…(but
where no judge or lawful magistrate had long sat, but in their place the
ruffians and hangmen of Warren Hastings occupied the bench), these virgins,
vainly invoking heaven and earth, in the presence of their parents…publicly
violated by the lowest and wickedest of the human race. Wives were torn from the
arms of their husbands, and suffered the same flagitious wrongs, which were
indeed hid in the bottoms of the dungeons in which their honor and their liberty
were buried together…But it did not end there. Growing from crime to crime,
ripened by cruelty for cruelty, these fiends….these infernal furies planted
death in the source of life, where that modesty, which more than reason,
distinguished men from beasts, retires from the view, and even shrinks from the
expression, there they exercised and glutted their unnatural, monstrous, and
In short, Burke charged Hastings with implementing policies
that destroyed “the honor of the whole female race” in India.
Burke’s criticism of the
rapaciousness of the British colonial policy in India was minority voice at the
time. Though his powerful descriptions of Hastings’s unspeakable colonial acts
inspired agitation in the large audiences attracted to the trial, Burke failed,
nonetheless, in his efforts to convict Warren Hastings, and, after a trial that
lasted seven years, the latter was acquitted in 1795. Burke
died two years later, so by 1797 his inimitable and inflammatory rhetoric about
the rape of India by the lawless agents of the East India Company was silenced
One of the features
that made Burke’s speeches about colonial policy in India so memorable was
that they skillfully exploited the rhetoric of surprise, since most English
readers, regardless of whether they endorsed or opposed state sponsorship of the
East India Company or the colonial wars in India conducted in its name, were
more likely have read Oriental tales that focused on seduction rather than
reports of the violently transgressive acts of rape that he so vividly
In cataloging the violence suffered
by the colonized during the British retaliatory campaign after the massacre at
Kanpur in 185, Manohar Malgonkar’s
disturbing novel details,
Devil’s Wind: Nana Saheb’s Story, the “orgy of killing, rape, and
vandalism” perpetrated by Colonel James Neill and his soldiers, events that
are censored in nearly all British mutiny novels and, in fact, in many British
nineteenth-century imperial histories as well.
Thus, Malgonkar reveals why “romances” and “boys
adventures” about the mutiny were the preferred form, since in these genres
the moral uprightness of the heroes is an uncontested given, which means, as the
narrator in G. A. Henry’s Times of Peril insists, that British soldiers simply
do not rape.
Malgonkar counters such claims with
numerous graphic representations of the rapes of Indian women by Englishmen that
challenges colonial myths about the purity and righteousness of the British acts
of “revenge.” Malgonkar’s novel thus invokes imperial history to correct
it, by maintaining that British soldiers did, indeed, rape as well as pillage
and burn as they swept through the countryside: “Women were dragged out
screaming and pounced upon in bazaars, so that the word “rape” itself
acquired a plurality, a collective connotation, and people spoke of villages and
townships raped, not a single women.”
Under The Raj: Gender, Race, and Rape in the British Colonial Imagination
1830-1947 - By Nancy L. Paxton).
" Every day ten or a dozen niggers are hanged.
[Their corpses hung] by two's and three's from branch and signpost all over town
... For three months did eight dead-carts go their rounds from sunrise to
sunset, to take down corpses which hung at the cross-roads and the market
places, poisoning the air of the city, and to throw their loathsome burdens into
-- Lieutenant Pearson -
on the punishment of rebels in Allahabad, in a letter to his mother.
Indian woodcut from around 1870 shows a train with separate carriages for
Europeans and for Indians.
Overlords: Time Frame Ad 1850-1900 - Time-Life
Books. The Scramble for Africa ASIN 0809464667 Noon of the Raj. p. 22).
and Rule by the British
The year 1857, therefore, marked the beginning of a new
British policy of exploiting the existing caste and
communal divisions in the country for their imperial ends. Reorganizing
of the British Indian army on caste and communal lines and the initiation of a
policy to win over Muslim upper classes was the result. This policy was clearly
set out by Sir John Stratchey, the Finance
Member of the Government of India in 1874, in the following words:
“The existence side by side of these (Hindu and Muslim)
hostile creeds is one of the strong points in our political position in India.
The better classes of Mohammedans are a source of strength and not weakness.
They constitute a comparatively small but an energetic minority of the
population whose political interests are identical with ours.”
It was in pursuit of this policy that Anglo-Muslim alliance
was forged through the M.A.O College which later became the Aligarh Muslim
University. The command performance of Aga Khan in 1906 which according to the
diary of Lady Minto “cut off sixty million Muslims from the seditious ranks of
the Hindus” and the formation of All-India Muslim League in the same year were
important steps towards reactivization of Muslim separatism and reversal of the
process of Indianization of Islam and Muslims.
Indianization? - By
It is a historical fact that
the imperial British have been very faithful to their colonial policy of 'divide
and rule' and then divide forever. The "serious mistakes", as a part
of their country's colonial past and as recently admitted by British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw, were not mistakes but deliberate
policies towards this end. The most prominent victims of their policy
are India and Pakistan (including Kashmir), Palestine and Israel, Greece and
Turkey (Cyprus) and the skeleton in their own cupboard, Ireland and Northern
Immediately after the War of Independence of 1857, jointly fought by Hindus and
Muslims, when a commission of inquiry on the uprising was formed, Lord
Elphinstone, the then governor of Bombay, sent to the commission a
note that said: "Divide et impera was the old
Roman motto, and it should be ours."
The secretary of state, Sir Charles Wood, in
a letter of March 3, 1862, to Viceroy Lord Elgin,
said: "We have maintained our power by playing off one part against the
other, and we must continue to do so. Do what you can, therefore, to prevent all
having a common feeling."
for revenge (for the Mutiny) ensured that all successes were thoroughly followed
up, and retreating 'niggers', as they were
habitually called, given no respite. Energetic pursuit was a hallmark of
European colonial practice, Sir Colin Callwell was to emphasize. 'Asiatics do
not understand such vigor and are cowed by it.' An
Indian historian writes of Colonel James Neill at Allahabad letting his men
loose to perpetrate all the 'cruelties and barbarities
which human ingenuity could conceive.'
Empires and Armies 1815-1960 - By V.G. Kiernan p. 49-50).
Please refer to chapter on Glimpses
Kala Pani: The Andaman Cellular Jail
is a historic monument that symbolizes British tyranny.
young English 'civilian' of the 1840s submits to being dressed by his Indian
personal servants to face the rigors of the day.
(image source: Bound to Exile - By Michael Edwardes).
in search of the East India Company - By
Nick Robins and
India became poor - indiarealist.com
The British Hated
to Meenakshi Jain:
British were not wrong in their distrust of educated Brahmins in whom they saw a
potential threat to their supremacy in India. For instance, in 1879 the
Collector of Tanjore in a communication to Sir James
Caird, member of the Famine Commission, stated that "there
was no class (except Brahmins ) which was so hostile to the English."
The predominance of the Brahmins in the freedom movement confirmed the worst
British suspicions of the community. Innumerable CID reports of the period
commented on Brahmin participation at all levels of the nationalist movement. In
the words of an observer, "If any community could
claim credit for driving the British out of the country, it was the Brahmin
community. Seventy per cent of those who were felled by British bullets were
video - Brahmins
have become a minority
more on Anti-Brahminism and Anti-Hinduism refer to The
Indian Jews - By Jakob
De Roover - Outlookindia.com
June 20, 2008.
counter what they perceived, a Brahminical challenge, the British launched on
the one hand a major ideological attack on the Brahmins and, on the other
incited non-Brahmin caste Hindus to press for preferential treatment, a ploy
that was to prove equally successful vis-à-vis the Muslims.
In the attempt to rewrite Indian history, Brahmins began to be portrayed as
oppressors and tyrants who willfully kept down the rest of the populace. Their
role in the development of Indian society was deliberately slighted. In ancient
times, for example, Brahmins played a major part in the spread of new methods of
cultivation (especially the use of the plough and manure) in backward and
aboriginal areas. The Krsi-parasara,
compiled during this period, is testimony to their contribution in this field.
Apart from misrepresenting the Indian past, the British actively encouraged
anti-Brahmin sentiments. Apart from misrepresenting the
Indian past, the British actively encouraged anti-Brahmin sentiments.
A number of scholars have commented on their involvement in the anti-Brahmin
movement in South India. As a result of their machinations non-Brahmins turned
on the Brahmins with a ferocity that has few parallels in Indian history. This
was all the more surprising in that for centuries Brahmins and non-Brahmins had
been active partners and collaborators in the task of political and social
The Plight of Brahmins - By Meenakshi Jain - The Indian
Express, Tuesday, September 18, 1990).
For more refer to chapter on First
Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple.
Refer to Jesus
Christ: Artifice for Aggression - By Sita Ram Goel.
verification of Vedic knowledge
The Brahmins were identified as
the ‘clergy’ or the priests of Hinduism. An
explicit hostility towards the heathen priesthood was not helped by the
inability of the messengers of God’s word to convert Brahmins to Christianity.
In Brahmins, they came across a literate group, which was able to read, write,
do arithmetic, conduct ‘theological’ discussions, etc. During the first
hundred years or so, this group was the only source of information about India
as far as the missionaries were concerned. Schooled to perform many
administrative tasks, the Brahmins were mostly the only ones well-versed in the
European languages – enough to communicate with the Europeans. In short, they
appeared both to be the intellectual group and the most influential social layer
in the Indian social organization. Conversion of the
heathens of India, as the missions painfully discovered, did not depend so much
on winning the allegiance of the prince or the king as it did on converting the
Xavier saw the Brahmins:
"If there were no Brahmans in the area, all the Hindus would accept
conversion to our faith."
Brahmins, by and large, were unimpressed by the theological sophistication of
the Christian critique of paganism. This
attack was born out of the inability of Christianity to gain a serious foothold
in the Indian society. The ‘red race’ was
primitive – it could be decimated; the ‘blacks’ were backward – they
could be enslaved; the ‘yellow’ and the ‘brown’ were inferior – they
could be colonized. But how to convert them? One would persecute
resistance and opposition. How to respond to indifference? The
attitude of these heathens towards Christianity, it is this: indifference.
Heathen in His Blindness...: Asia, the West and the Dynamic of Religion - By
S. Balagangadhara p. 82 -149). For more refer to chapter on First
more refer to The
War against Hinduism - By Stephen Knapp). Refer to Jesus
Christ: Artifice for Aggression - By Sita Ram Goel
have deep roots in Christian theology
be against "Brahminism" is part and parcel of the political
correctness of progressive scholars in twenty-first-century India. This
indicates that something is very wrong with the Indian academic debate.
Promotion of animosity towards a religious tradition or its followers is not
acceptable today, but it becomes truly perverse when the intelligentsia endorses
, it took horrendous events to put an end to the propaganda of anti-Semitism,
which had penetrated the media and intelligentsia. It required decades of
incessant campaigning before anti-Semitism was relegated to the realm of
intellectual and political bankruptcy. In
, anti-Brahminism is still the proud slogan of many political parties and the
credential of the radical intellectual.
anti-Semitism and anti-Brahminism have deep roots in Christian theology.
contemporary stereotypes about Brahmins and the story about Brahminism also
originate in Christian theology. They reproduce Protestant images of the priests
of false religion. When European missionaries and merchants began to travel to
in great numbers, they held two certainties that came from Christian theology:
false religion would exist in
; and false religion revolved around evil priests who had fabricated all kinds
of laws, doctrines and rites in order to bully the innocent believers into
submission. In this way, the priests of the devil abused religion for worldly
goals. The European story about Brahminism and the caste system simply
reproduced this Protestant image of false religion. The colonials identified the
Brahmins as the priests and Brahminism as the foundation of false religion in
. This is how the dominant image of "the Hindu religion" came into
being. The theological criticism became part of common sense and was reproduced
as scientific truth. In
, this continues unto this day. Social scientists still talk about "Brahminism"
as the worst thing that ever happened to humanity.
Jews began to believe that they were to blame for what happened during the
Holocaust; many educated Brahmins now feel that they are guilty of historical
atrocities against other groups. In some cases, this has led to a kind of
identity crisis in which they vilify "Brahminism" in English-language
academic debate, but continue their traditions. In twentieth-century
, we have seen how dangerous anti-Semitism was and what consequences it could
have in society. Tragically, unimaginable suffering was needed before it was
relegated to the realm of unacceptable positions. In
, anti-Brahminism was adopted from Protestant missionaries by colonial scholars
who then passed it on to the secularists and Dalit intellectuals. The question
has to raise in the twenty-first century is this: Do we need bloodshed, before
we will realise that the reproduction of anti-Brahminism?
Indian Jews - By Jakob
De Roover - Outlookindia.com
June 20, 2008).
to Guy Sorman,
visiting scholar at Hoover Institution at Stanford and the leader of new
liberalism in France:
British supported Ambedkar, though for wrong reasons, they felt that having
three electoral colleges - Hindu, untouchable and Muslim - would work in their
favor and allow them to rule longer."
"If comparisons have to be made, it may be said that the endurance of the
Brahmins in India has kept her elite intact; whereas in neighboring China the
anti-intellectualism of communist peasants has completely wiped out the
intelligentsia of that country."
Genius of India
- By Guy Sorman ('Le Genie de
Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple
Marx and Western Bias
Karl Marx (1818-1883),
German social philosopher, the chief theorist of modern Communism, and author of Das
Kapital, was not a sympathizer of imperialism or
capitalism. But he could not conceal his western
bias and prejudices against Indian culture, which is evident from
his writings of 1853 and about his expectations of the role the British had to
play in India. He writes :
has to fulfill a double mission in India; one destructive, the other
regenerating - the annihilation of the old Asiatic society, and the laying of
the material foundation of western society in Asia."
According to Marx, Indian life
had always been undignified, stagnatory, vegetative, passive, given to
worshipping nature instead of putting the man on the pedestal as the sovereign
of `Nature'. Karl Marx writes :
"Whatever may have been the crimes of England" in India, "she
was the unconscious tool of history" for the desired changes."
First published in New York Daily Tribune,
August 8, 1853. OrientalThane.com).
wrote that life in India was: "stagnant, vegetative and passive."
Genius of India
- By Guy Sorman ('Le Genie de
Britain judged how “civilized” a colony was by how nearly it conformed to
British politics, religion, and economic system. South Africa was
full of “white perverts” (the Dutch Boers) and “black savages” Africa
was not the only continent or colony judged “uncivilized." Clearly,
although dark skin indicated a lack of civilization, the English held similar
views about other races which were light-skinned, particularly the Irish.
farther away from London, the farther away from the center of
Cut Themselves with Cruel Kimes).
Taking his cues from die-hard
imperialist writers, Marx tells us that India is no nation and it has no
history. She is "the predestined prey of conquest", he says.
"Indian society has no history, is but the history of successive
intruders." To Marx, the British conquest of India
was a blessing. The question, as he puts it, "is not whether we
are to prefer India conquered by the Turk, by the Persian, by the Russian, to
India conquered by the British."
Here we find a
complete convergence of Imperialism and Marxism.
Hinduism Reviews and Reflections - By Ram Swarup p. 42-43).
To Marx, Hinduism "was the
ideology of an oppressive and outworn society, and he shared the distaste of
most Europeans for its more lurid features...he was as skeptical as his Hindu
followers were to be of any notion of a Hindu 'golden age' of the past.
of Marxist Thought - By Tom Bottomore p. 203-206).
Marx upheld the colonial view
that India was not a country properly speaking, merely a stretch of land with a
meek conglomerate of peoples passively waiting for the next conqueror. For him,
the question was not whether it was right to colonize India, merely whether
colonization by Britain was preferable (and in his view, it was) to colonization
by the Turks or the Czar.
The Hindu Mind - Ideological Development of Hindu Revivalism - By Koenraad
Elst p. 40).
Bengal, textbooks show Lenin as the inspiration of the Freedom Struggle.
Today - September 13' 2002).
"With Hindus, whom their religion has made virtuosi in the art of
self-torturing, these tortures inflicted on the enemies of their race and creed
appear quite natural, and must appear still more so to the English, who, only
some years since, still used to draw revenues from the Juggernaut festivals,
protecting and assisting the bloody rites of a religion of cruelty."
the East Ablaze: Lenin's Dream of an Empire in Asia
Hopkirk tells how Lenin and his revolutionary comrades tried, in the period
between the world wars, to set the East ablaze with their heady new
gospel of Marxism. Their "dream" was to liberate the whole
of Asia, and their starting point was British India,
the richest of all imperial possessions. The struggle that ensured,
marked a dramatic twist in the Great Game. Among the players were British
Intelligence officers, the armed revolutionaries of the Communists
International, Muslim visionaries, Chinese war lords......
the East Ablaze: Lenin's Dream of an Empire in Asia - Peter Hopkirk).
"It never occurred to the
English that they should follow the example of so many immigrants and conquerors
before them and become Indians. The possibility was never even considered that
the King-emperor might take up residence in Calcutta or Delhi; he remained a
foreign ruler, which meant that there was always something provisional about the
Anglo-Indian empire: despite all New Delhi's proud monuments, the shrewd English
knew in their hearts that they could only play a limited part in this great
- By Martin Hurlimann p. 24).
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