Indology Perspective by G S Ghurye

Indology of G S Ghurye

Indology literally means study of Indian society and culture. The Indological perspective claims to understand Indian Society through the concepts, theories and frameworks that are closely associated with Indian Civilization. Indologists make sense of India through lens of Indian culture. 

It made a claim that Indian Society is unique in structure, function and dynamics and cannot be associated with the European Society. Indology relies on book view and culture and denounces rigorous empirical investigation.

Govind Sadashiv Ghurye has often been acclaimed as the ‘father of Indian Sociology’. He was influenced by western scholar W H Rivers and founded the Indian Sociological Society and the Sociological Bulletin.

The various writings of Ghurye include:

  • Caste and Race in India (1932)
  • Indian Sadhus (1953)
  • Bharatnatyam and it’s costume (1958)
  • Family and Kinship in Indo-European culture (1955)
  • Social tensions in India (1968)

The few broad areas that have been identified in Ghurye’s writings are;

  1. Caste.
  2. Tribe.
  3. Kinship.
  4. Culture and Civilisation.
  5. Religion
  6. Sociology of Conflict and Integration.
  7. Family and Marriage.

According to him, Indian society is a ‘Hindu Society’ and it cannot be understood without understanding Hindu tradition. He also emphasized on understanding of order and change in society. The guiding force in Indian society was the Hindu ideology. Even the Indian secularism was a product of the tolerant spirit of Hinduism. Ghurye was a staunch nationalist in his approach but wasn’t intolerant to different views.

Ghurye on India:

  • India is surviving as a nation because of common value consensus. No central authority.

Ghurye on religious beliefs and practices

  • Religious consciousness in ancient India, Egypt and Babylonia was centered around temples.
  • In his work on the role of Gods in Indian religion, Ghurye traced the rise of major deities such as Shiva, Vishnu and Durga to the need to integrate local or sub-regional beliefs into a macro-level system of worship

Role of sadhus in Indian Tradition:

  • In his work, Indian Sadhus, Ghurye examined paradoxical nature of renunciation in India. Indian renouncers have acted as the arbiters of religious disputes, patronised learning of scriptures and even defended religion against external attacks.

Ghurye on Rural-urbanisation in India

  • He held the view that the urbanisation in India was not a simple function of industrial growth. In India, the process of urbanisation, at least till 1980s, started from within the rural area itself.
  • Hence, in many rural regions, one part of a big village was converted into a market; in turn, this led to a township which developed administrative, judicial and other institutions.
  • With coming up of metropolis type manufacturing the urbanisation has started making inroads into the rural hinterland. But, he believed, village continued to survive in its original form.

Ghurye on caste

Ghurye on kinship:

  • The gotra and charana were kin-categories of Indo-European languages which systematised the rank and status of the people.
  • These categories were derived from names of sages of the past. These sages were the real or eponymous founders of gotra and charana.
  • In India descent has not always been traced to the blood tie; lineages were often based on spiritual descent from sages of the past.
  • Outside kinship we might notice guru-shishya relationship.
  • In contemporary India, he noticed that scramble for privileges was damaging unity of society.

Ghurye on tribes:

  • He saw them divided into three classes:“First, such as the Raj Gonds and others who have successfully fought the battle, and are recognized as members of a fairly high status within Hindu society; second the large mass that has been partially Hinduized and has come into closer contact with Hindus; and third the Hill sections, which “have exhibited the greatest power of resistance to alien cultures that have pressed upon their border.
  • Ghurye calls the tribal populations of India as imperfectly integrated segment of the Hindus.
  • Argued for their assimilation in hindu culture and argued that that’s been the case throughout the history.

Ghurye on art and architecture:

  • According to him, the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist artistic monuments shared common elements.
  • But Muslim art was Persian or Arabic and had no roots in this soil. He did not agree with the view that the Muslim monuments in India represented a synthesis.
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