The Making of Western Indology: Henry Thomas Colebrooke and the East India Company, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Making of Western Indology

Henry Thomas Colebrooke and the East India Company, 1st Edition

By Rosane Rocher, Ludo Rocher


16 pages | 5 B/W Illus.

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For thirty years in India at the cusp of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Henry Thomas Colebrooke was an administrator and scholar with the East India Company. The Making of Western Indology explains and evaluates Colebrooke’s role as the founder of modern Indology.

The book discusses how Colebrooke embodies the significant passage from the speculative yearnings attendant on eighteenth-century colonial expansion, to the professional, transnational ethos of nineteenth-century intellectual life and scholarly enquiry. It covers his career with the East India Company, from a young writer to member of the supreme council and theorist of the Bengal government. Highlighting how his unprecedented familiarity with a broad range of literature established him as the leading scholar of Sanskrit and president of the Asiatic Society in Calcutta, it shows how Colebrooke went on to found the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and set standards for western Indology. Written by renowned academics in the field of Indology, and drawing on new sources, this biography is a useful contribution to the reassessment of Oriental studies that is currently taking place.


"Quoting extensively from every available source, including family papers, and weaving a dense network of information, while remaining readable and jargon free, this relatively concise but extremely thorough study captures in judicious detail the way in which knowledge for its own sake grew out of knowledge required to rule Bengal… Obviously,this brief review cannot do justice to such a polymath. Perhaps it is most appropriate to conclude with the opinion of Wilhelm von Humboldt, cited by the Rochers, that while Colebrooke lacked “the soaring mind and spirit of Jones”, he surpassed Jones in his “sober insight and judgement.” - Andrew Robinson; Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (2012).

Table of Contents

1. From Heir to the Crown to Turnspit (London, 1765-1782) 2. Against the Grain (Rural Bengal, 1783-1795) 3. Law and Sanskrit (Mirzapur, 1795-1801) 4. Matter of Duty (Calcutta, 1802-1807) 5. Theorist of the Bengal Government (Calcutta, 1807-1814) 6. Promoting India (London, 1815-1827) 7. Sunset (London, 1827-1837) 8. Legacy

About the Authors

Rosane Rocher is Professor Emerita of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. Her research interests include the history of Indology and of linguistics, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Ludo Rocher is Emeritus W. Norman Brown Professor of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. His research interests include the cultural history of India through the ages, with particular focus on the development of Hindu law and its adaptation in the Anglo-Indian courts.

About the Series

Royal Asiatic Society Books

The Royal Asiatic Society was founded in 1823 ‘for the investigation of subjects connected with, and for the encouragement of science, literature and the arts in relation to, Asia’. Informed by these goals, the policy of the Society’s Editorial Board is to make available in appropriate formats the results of original research in the humanities and social sciences having to do with Asia, defined in the broadest geographical and cultural sense and up to the present day.

Editorial Board:
Professor Francis Robinson, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK (Chair); Professor Tim Barrett, SOAS, University of London, UK; Dr Evrim Binbaş, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; Professor Anna Contadini, SOAS, University of London, UK; Professor Michael Feener, National University of Singapore; Dr Gordon Johnson, University of Cambridge, UK; Professor David Morgan, University of Wisconsin–Madison, US; Dr. BMC Brend; Dr. R. Llewellyn Jones MBE

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Asia / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General