Hinduism, Modernity and Knowledge: India

  • Joseph W. Elder
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 22)

Four thousand years ago on the Indian subcontinent priests (Brahmans) were teaching Hinduism's most ancient texts, the Vedas, to the sons of privileged families. These Vedas, preserved and memorized in a liturgical language, included a curriculum of sacrificial formulas, incantations, and magical spells that assumed a host of deities capable of responding to appropriately framed human petitions. Brahmans specialized in framing those petitions to the deities by performing fire sacrifices accompanied by correctly intoned Vedic recitations.

After 1947 India became a sovereign democratic republic committed, according to its constitution, to social, economic and political justice; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and equality of status and of opportunity. Article 45 of India's constitution declared that “the State shall endeavour (sic.) to provide, within a period of ten years … for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years”. The language used by India's national leaders while drafting their constitution was English — the language of a foreign power that had ruled sections of India since 1757.


Indian Subcontinent Princely State Sanskrit Text Hindu Temple Muslim Ruler 
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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph W. Elder
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonUSA

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