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Edward Moor (Founders and Guardians of The Asiatic Society of Mumbai)

Edward Moor (Founders and Guardians of The Asiatic Society of Mumbai)
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Edward Moor (Founders and Guardians of The Asiatic Society of Mumbai)

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Item Code: NAP564
Author: Mridula Ramanana
Publisher: Indus Source Books
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788188569564
Pages: 109
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
weight of the book: 140 gms
Back of the Book

This monograph focuses on the India connection of the remarkable British official, Edward Moor. He belonged to the early group of Indologists who saw India in an unbiased manner. His views on India are to be found in four works on which this monograph is based. Moor, a participant in the British detachment which accompanied the Maratha army in their campaign against Tipu Sultan from 1790 to 1792, has not only described the campaign but has left a delightful account of what he saw en route to Srirangapatna and back to Bombay in A Narrative of the Operations of Captain Little's Detachment and of the Mahratta Army Commanded by Purseram Bhow. Moor's comments on India and various aspects of contemporary Indian social life, which he described in his works, Oriental Fragments and Hindu Infanticide, are examined. Moor is best known for The Hindu Pantheon. His collection of pictures and engravings of Hindu deities formed the nucleus of this work which aimed to introduce Hinduism to an English readership. This monograph attempts to bring to light the refreshing perspective of this earnest British Indophile, who reveals curiosity, wit and candour, and who, more often than not, had an unprejudiced view of India.

Mridula Ramanna was formerly Associate Professor and Head, Department of History, South Indian Education Society College, Mumbai. She is also the author of several books.

About the Author

Mridula Ramanna was formerly Associate Professor and Head, Department of History, South Indian Education Society College, Mumbai. She has authored Western Medicine and Public Health in Colonial Bombay, 1845-1895 (New Delhi, 2002) and Health Care in Bombay Presidency, 1896-1930 (New Delhi, 2012) and contributed chapters to a number of edited volumes, notable among them being Medical Encounters in British India, (2013), Science and Modern India: An Institutional History (2011), Science and Society in India: 1750-2000 (2010), History and Gender: Some Explorations (2005), Colonialism as a Civilizing Mission Cultural Ideology in British India, (London, 2004), and The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19, New Perspectives, (London, 2003). Her articles have been published in several journals, including recently the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, (March, 2014). She has presented papers at national and international conferences and at the Indian History Congress. She has delivered the XXVth M.A. Ansari Memorial Lecture, Jamia Milia Islamia, and has been guest speaker at foreign universities. She has been the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller Archive Center, New York, 2003; Wellcome Trust, UK, 1997 & 2001; and the Indian Council of Historical Research.

Introduction

Edward Moor (1771-1848) was an earnest Indophile, who revealed both curiosity and candour in his writings, while evaluating what he saw and experienced in India. He belonged to that early group of British Indologists, who viewed India in an unbiased manner. He served in India from 1783 to 1806. The focus of this monograph is Moor's India connection. The rich source material in his works on India has been used in preparing and organizing the chapters in this monograph.

Chapter I entitled 'Family Background and Indian Career' is a biographical sketch focussing mainly on his career in India from 1783-1806. In chapter II, entitled, 'The "operations" with the Maratha Army Against Tipu Sultan, the march of the British detachment, in which Moor participated with the Marathas, south to Srirangapatna, Tipu Sultan's capital, and back to Bombay, is traced. This chapter also discusses Moor's description of places that he visited or camped at, on the march, from 1790 to 1792. An objective assessment of Tipu's `character, which Moor made, is the concluding section of this chapter. The third chapter comprises Moor's comments on Indian 'Social Life, which includes his favourable and supportive opinion of Indian women, remarks on castes and communities, forms of amusements, food and drinks consumed and medicines used by Indians. The chapter explains his endorsement and description of the successful campaigns against female infanticide, carried out in Benares by Jonathan Duncan, later Governor of Bombay, and carried out in Kathiawar by Alexander Walker, Resident at the court of Baroda. Chapter IV entitled, 'Views on Hindu Deities and Hinduism', focuses on Moor's perspectives of Hindu gods, goddesses, demi-gods, their attributes, the 'allegorical beings, symbols and pilgrim centres. The comparisons that Moor drew with Egyptian and Greek traditions are also examined here. Eight scanned images from Hindu Gods and Goddesses: 300 Illustrations from 'The Hindu Pantheon' are appended to this chapter. The fifth chapter, 'Description of Bombay and Miscellaneous Observations' contains his descriptions of some sights of Bombay city, and its neighbourhood, where he lived. Besides, this chapter has short sub-sections on a variety of subjects, and on information which he collated. These include incidents involving the Marathas, the flora and fauna that attracted his attention, seals and signet rings that he had seen and collected, methods of the manufacture of paper and coins he witnessed, and his opinions on words and language. The last sub-section highlights his unique idea that Sanskrit had extensive influence all over the world, including remote regions like the Tonga and Sandwich Islands in the Pacific, Africa and the Americas, besides Britain and Ireland. An evaluation of Moor's contributions as an Indologist and as a chronicler of contemporary events is made in the conclusion. I am grateful to Dr. Tikekar, former President of the Asiatic Society of Mumbai, for introducing me to the fascinating personality of Edward Moor.

The digitization of Moor's works and other contemporary books on Bombay made my task of collecting source material easy. I wish to express my th anks to the staff of the Houghton Library, Harvard, Cambridge, USA, where I consulted Moor's a Narrative of the Operations of Captain Little's Detachment and of the Mahratta Army Commanded by Purseram Bhow during the Late Confederacy in India against Nawab Tippoo Sultan Bahadur (1794). I am thankful for the permission granted by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai to read the digitized minute books of the Literary Society of Bombay and the assistance of Mr. Victor. I would also like to acknowledge the help rendered by Ms. Varsha Devadhar of the University of Mumbai Fort Library. I thank my husband, Ramanna, who took the photographs and scans that are included in this monograph.

The spellings of place names used in this monograph are mainly as they were referred to by Edward Moor. Bombay has been re-named Mumbai, Thana—Thane, Poona—Pune, Baroda—Vadodara, and Benares—Varanasi. The spellings of other proper nouns used by Moor have been changed to what would be familiar to today's readers.

Contents

  A Note from the General Editor vi
  Introduction viii
I Family Background and Indian Career 1
II The 'Operations' with the Maratha Army against Tipu Sultan 8
III Social Life 24
IV Views on Hindu Deities and Hinduism 39
V Description of Bombay and Miscellaneous Observations 69
VI Evaluation 81
  Notes 85
  Bibliography 93


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