The Worlds of the Babu Rajendralal Mitra and Social and Cultural Change in Nineteenth Century Calcutta

Gunderson, Warren Martin

     This study is concerned with the western-educated community in Bengal in the nineteenth century. . . . This study is built around the life and work of a Bengali scholar, Rajendralal Mitra, whose writings reflect the direction, interests, and ambivalences of the western educated, particularly as they relate to India's past . . . . During Rajendralal's lifetime, educated Bengali culture passed through several phases with regard to the problem of reconciling western value with Indian tradition. These three phases are described and discussed in the course of the dissertation, relating Rajendralal's life and work to each: intellectuals first tried to resolve the tension between tradition and value by asserting that the problem was not one of cultural conflict, but of historical development: the issue was not between India and the west, but between medievalism and modernity. Next, intellectuals acknowledged a problem, but sought to resolve it by showing that tradition and value did not basically conflict. Finally, intellectuals again tried to deny there was a problem: Indian and western values conflicted, but Indian values were superior, and the real issue was not one of value at all, but of power.

Bernard S. Cohn