धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः। Dharmo Raksati Raksitah.

Dharma protects those who protect it.

– Veda Vyas, Mahabharat

What India Taught Max Muller


In my two earlier pieces, I had promised to review Friedrich Max Müller’s anthology of lectures titled India: What Can it Teach Us? which may be accessed for free on Project Gutenberg’s portal.

The anthology consists of seven lectures titled “What can India teach us?”, “On the truthful character of the Hindus”, “The human interest of Sanskrit literature”, “Objections”, “The Lessons of the Veda”, “Vedic Deities” and, finally, “Veda and Vedanta”. It is important to note that although these lectures were specially addressed to British candidates for the Indian Civil Service in the late nineteenth century, the questions Müller asks and the issues he addresses in the first lecture, in particular, are relevant even today.


The good news is, Müller furnishes multiple reasons to justify his exhortation to learn Sanskrit and to study its literature. Sample a few:

“I shall not attempt to prove that Sanskrit literature is as good as Greek literature. Why should we always compare? A study of Greek literature has its own purpose, and a study of Sanskrit literature has its own purpose; but what I feel convinced of, and hope to convince you of, is that Sanskrit literature, if studied only in a right spirit, is full of human interests, full of lessons which even Greek could never teach us, a subject worthy to occupy the leisure, and more than the leisure, of every Indian civil servant; and certainly the best means of making any young man who has to spend five-and-twenty years of his life in India, feel at home among the Indians, as a fellow-worker among fellow-workers, and not as an alien among aliens.”

Read more | By Saideepak