“India has been conquered once, but India must be conquered again, and that second conquest should be a conquest by education.” – Max Muller
Friedrich Max Muller, one of the founders of the western academic field of Indian studies, died on October 28, 115 years ago. Max Muller believed that it will be Indians’ fault if Christianity doesn’t step in because the ancient religion of India was doomed at that time.
On his 115th death anniversary, let’s look at some very lesser-known facts:
- Muller was named after his mother’s elder brother, Friedrich but later in life, he adopted ‘Max’ as a part of his surname because he thought that Muller was too common
- According to a letter which Muller wrote to his wife, it has been revealed that he was especially employed to translate the Vedas in such a way that the Hindus lose faith in them
- He lived in poverty before he was employed by the British
- He was very qualified in Sanskrit. It was also the time when even Indians did not understand the language. His defeat at 1860 election for the Boden Professorship of Sanskrit was very disappointing for him. According to him, his German birth and lack of practical first-hand knowledge of India went against him.
- Oxford’s Professor of Comparative Philology position was especially created for him. He held this chair until his death
- He translated the Upanishads for Schelling, and researched on Sanskrit language under Franz Bopp who was the first systematic scholar of the Indo-European languages
- Muller translated and published a collection of Indian fables called Hitopadesha
- Muller published the complete Rig Veda in Sanskrit using manuscripts available in England, found in the collection of the East India Company
- He strongly believed in the need for reforms in Hinduism in order to superimpose views of Christianity on former
- He supported Brahmo Samaj movement. He believed that Brahmo Samja will produce an Indian form ‘Christianity’, since he was too desperate to bring Christianity into India so that the religion of the Hindus be doomed
- Under his guidance, British empire funded huge sum of money for education reforms in India.
Here is another one from him: “The Upanishads are the sources of the Vedanta philosophy, a system in which human speculation seems to me to have reached its very acme.”