Indomania or Indophilia refer to the special interest India, Indians and Indian culture have generated in the Western world, more specifically the culture and civilisation of the Indian subcontinent, especially in Germany. The initial British interest in governing their newly conquered territories awoke the interest in India, especially its culture and ancient history. Later the people with interests in Indian aspects came to be known as Indologists and their subject as Indology. Its opposite is Indophobia.
Historically, India has been widely regarded as a country of various cultures. Due to its ancient civilization and contributions, there are accounts of notable people who visited the nation and reviewed it with praises.
In India I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it. Inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything but possessed by nothing.
No Indian ever went outside his own country on a warlike expedition, so righteous were they.
18th and 19th centuries
The perception of Indian history and culture by Europeans was fluctuating between two extremes in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though the 19th century European writers had seen India as a cradle of civilization, their romantic vision of India was gradually replaced by "Indophobia", which marginalized Indian history and culture.[page needed]
I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges, - astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc... It is very important to note that some 2,500 years ago at the least Pythagoras went from Samos to the Ganges to learn geometry...But he would certainly not have undertaken such a strange journey had the reputation of the Brahmins' science not been long established in Europe.
Much of the early enthusiasm for Indian culture can be traced to the influence of Sir William Jones. Jones was only the second known Englishman to master Sanskrit, after Charles Wilkins. His insight that the grammar and vocabulary of Sanskrit bore a resemblance to Greek and Latin marked the discovery of the Indo-European family of languages. In February 1786 Jones declared Sanskrit to be 'more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either.' Jones translated into English the drama The Recognition of Sakuntala of Kalidasa and published it in 1789. The Calcutta edition was an immediate success and two London editions followed within three years. Jones also discovered that chess and algebra were of Indian origin. Every branch of Indian studies owed something to his inspiration.
An important development during the British Raj period was the influence Hindu traditions began to take on western thought and new religious movements. Goethe borrowed from Kalidasa for the "Vorspiel auf dem Theater" in Faust. An early champion of Indian-inspired thought in the west was Arthur Schopenhauer, who in the 1850s advocated ethics based on an "Aryan-Vedic theme of spiritual self-conquest" as opposed to the ignorant drive toward earthly utopianism of the superficially this-worldly "Jewish" spirit. At the end of the introduction to the World as Will and Representation, Arthur Schopenhauer claimed that the rediscovery of the ancient Indian tradition would be one of the great events in the history of the West.
Goethe and Schopenhauer were riding a crest of scholarly discovery, most notably the work done by Sir William Jones. (Goethe likely read Kalidasa's The Recognition of Sakuntala in Jones' translation.) However, the discovery of the world of Sanskrit literature moved beyond German and British scholars and intellectuals — Henry David Thoreau was a sympathetic reader of the Bhagavad Gita — and even beyond the humanities. In the early days of the Periodic Table, scientists referred to as yet undiscovered elements with the use of Sanskrit prefixes (see Mendeleev's predicted elements).
Max Muller delivered a series of lectures regarding the religion and literature of India. In his fourth lecture, he said:
If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life... again I should point to India.
Helena Blavatsky moved to India in 1879, and her Theosophical Society, founded in New York in 1875, evolved into a peculiar mixture of western occultism and Hindu mysticism over the last years of her life. Hinduism-inspired elements in Theosophy were also inherited by the spin-off movements of Ariosophy and Anthroposophy and ultimately contributed to the renewed New Age boom of the 1960s to 1980s, the term New Age itself deriving from Blavatsky's 1888 The Secret Doctrine.
The Hindu reform movements reached Western audiences in the wake of the sojourn of Vivekananda to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission, a Hindu missionary organization still active today.
Influential in spreading Hinduism to a western audience were A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (Hare Krishna movement), Sri Aurobindo, Meher Baba, Osho, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (Transcendental Meditation), Sathya Sai Baba, Mother Meera, among others.
Toynbee predicted that at the close of this century, the world would be dominated by the West, but that in the 21st century, India will conquer her conquerors.
During the 1960s and 1970s, there was a similar phase of Indomania in the Western world, with a rise of interest in Indian culture. This was largely associated with the hippie counterculture movement; the hippie trail, for example, was a journey that many Westerners undertook to India during this period. The Hare Krishna movement gained popularity in the 1960s. Indian filmmakers such as the Bengali auteur Satyajit Ray as well as Bengali musicians such as Ravi Shankar gained increasing exposure in the Western world. Indian musical influence, particularly the use of the sitar, became evident in jazz (see Indo jazz) and rock music, among popular Western artists such as The Beatles (see The Beatles in India), The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, among others, leading to the development of psychedelic music genres such as raga rock and psychedelic rock, which in turn paved the way for heavy metal music.
In the 21st century, a notable amount of Indomania has been recorded due to India's improvement related to economic conditions, political changes, activism, etc.
India is the world's largest democracy. The democratic nature of its politics has led many world leaders to praise Indian politics. George W. Bush commented: India is a great example of democracy. It is very devout, has diverse religious heads, but everyone is comfortable about their religion. The world needs India.
Fareed Zakaria, in his book The Post-American World, described George W. Bush as "being the most pro-Indian president in American history." On November 2012, Israel's President Shimon Peres remarked, "I think India is the greatest show of how so many differences in language, in sects can coexist facing great suffering and keeping full freedom."
Indian languages have been taught in multiple nations, including the United States. On 2012, then prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard talked about Hindi and other prominent Asian languages to be taught in Australia.
Despite anti-Indian sentiment in Pakistan, the Pakistani newspaper The Nation published on 7 November 2013, heading "Don’t hate, appreciate", in which they praised the India's Mars Mission, the report further noted, "Wars were fought, and martyrs were born. But, it’s over. We are not in the race anymore. One of us has been to the moon, and now has their eyes set on Mars to become the first Asian country to reach the milestone."
India shares strong cultural, linguistic and historic bonds with Bangladesh. India supported Bangladesh's independence struggle in 1971, and Bangladeshi opinion is generally favourable to India. In 2014, a Pew Research Center survey found that Bangladeshis had the most pro-Indian sentiments worldwide, with 70% expressing a favourable view of India.
Gallup Poll 2016
As per Gallup's survey for Americans' favorite countries, India was polled as the sixth most favorable nation, with 75% having a positive view and 18% negative.
BBC poll 2014
BBC poll 2007
The international polling firm GlobeScan, which was commissioned by the BBC World Service to conduct the survey.
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- The Spiritual Heritage of India: A Clear Summary of Indian Philosophy and Religion(1979)
- The world needs India: Bush 3 March 2006
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- Israeli President Shimon Peres praises India as greatest 'show of co-existence' (4 December 2012)
- "Multicultural America: An Encyclopedia of the Newest Americans, Volume 2", p. 998, by Ronald H. Bayor
- Hindi to be taught in Australian schools, October 31, 2012
- Indian cyber tutors teach UK classes
- Pakistani daily praises India's Mars mission, admits defeat in Asian tiger race 7 November 2013
- China media: India's Mars mission, 6 November 2013
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