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oswald spengler on indian culture

'Oswald Spengler on Indian Culture' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

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Published in the "New Era, Lodha Press, Egmore, Madras" - March 1929

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'Oswald Spengler on Indian Culture' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

The prime characteristic of modern western thought is the perception of the fact that Western Culture has been tried and found wanting. Mingled with this sense of disappointment can also be found a wistful longing for some great new inspiration to enliven the life of to-day and hold forth a hope for the morrow. This wave of pessimism passed all over Europe as a result of the inability of the conventional standards of spirituality to cope successfully with the new order of things after a most disastrous world war. Oswald Spengler with characteristic thoroughness and erudition has propounded a new theory of Culture-history and predicts the downfall of Western civilization as we know it at present. What distinguishes his work from the usual cry that ours is a degenerate age is the fact that he attempts to formulate certain general laws of cultural history based on what he conceives to be the ultimate basic realities that underlie every phase of cultural development. For this purpose he passes in rapid review all the important cultures of the world,-Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, Indian, Magian and arrives at an organic theory of culture-origins and decays. We are at present concerned not with his general theory but with his views of Indian Cultural development.


His assertion that the Classical and Indian Man had no memory-no constant impression that the individual life is an element in a far wider life course-is not true, at least as far as the Indian soul is concerned. The doctrine of Karma which forms the basis of all forms of Hinduism is but the assertion of the persistence of Memory of previous acts in the Present and the present actions in the Future. As contrasted with the Egyptian, the Indian Man, he asserts, forgot everything as symbolised by burning of the dead and the absence of an art of Portraiture. But it must not be forgotten that ancestor-worship which is enjoined on every Hindu is a more subtle form of expressing the transcendental nature of Consciousness than the crude Egyptian method of mummification and of resorting to granite or basalt for the preservation of mere flesh. The elaborate administrative system and the net of irrigation works which according to Spengler shows not only a care for the past but also a victory over mortality and the mere present, were not exclusively Egyptian.

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