Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was born in Calcutta on 10 April 1809. His father was a Portuguese and his mother was an Indian. Derozio started education at Dharamtallah Academy of David Drummond (1787-1843) in 1815 at the age of six years. His mother diedin the same year near Krishnagar and his father Francis married an English lady Anna Maria Rivers the following year (Williams 80). He started writing poems at an early age. The poems of Derozio are full with the passion of patriotism, love for nation, desire for freedom and liberty. Derozio wrote his poems during Bengal Renaissance. His writing was influenced byit. Social, religious, literary and political changes were taking place. The spirit of patriotism,struggle against the religious fundamentalism and the ideal of humanism are available in his poetry. Derozio himself was a pioneering force, contributed in the rise of Bengal Renaissance and created awareness in the minds of the people. The impact of British rule in India was felt as a sort of socio-cultural movement. Derozio himself was part of this impact. Synthesis of two cultures was taking place and the best example to quote is the marriage of the Derozio ‟sparents. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
It was a part of the change taking place in the society and culture. Indian and European culture combined together in one family representing assimilation of East and West. Two social classes, one representing the colonizers and the second, the colonized, bounded together in the form of marriage between them. This assimilation influenced the field of education also. It produced a class of English educated Indians. Derozio was one of them. This interaction infused new learning into the minds of people “towards society,religion, politics, and culture”.Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
The condition of India in the early nineteenth century was very dismal. There was a decline and degradation in every sphere of life: Political, Economic, Social and Religious. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
Rabindranath Tagore described the condition of India as “Her life was dried up and it shoved all those dead and forgotten customs, superstitions and prejudices, all the ignorance and fear,all feuds, all bitterness and separateness, all unreasonable remoteness from the world. It requires training to be the leaders of national thought. Patriotism should be a legitimate instinct of every human being and “it is the sacred duty of every citizen”. As a man and a citizen, it is moral obligation to manifest patriotism. It should be positive patriotism without a desire to hurt someone else. It should not be barbarous, ill directed as expressed in the infamous classical saying “Our Country right or wrong”. Honest and productive work for the up liftment of society and nation is also patriotism. A good patriot does his appointed work and duty consciously and efficiently. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
It may be in peace or war, in commerce, trade or profession. It may be termed as public service.
“English speakers in India
-whether they were from Britain or were educated in English on the continent- were generally intent on professional and pecuniary advancement.In India, as elsewhere, poetry was seldom a successful commercial enterprise”. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
he middle of the nineteenth century, moreover, there was a lively debate about the legitimacy of writing English poetry rather than poetry in Indian vernaculars. Yet in the same period, English (along with Hindi) came to serve as a lingua franca of political, commercial, and intellectual elites”. “Indian press in the period 1780-1820 and its editors remained content with the London Literary scene, particularly powerful British influences were Burns, Moore, Byron, Keats, and L.E.L. (Letitia London). Discussions of contemporary British poetry (a good bit of it [was] orientalist in nature), mingled with discussions and translations of the Persian poet Haifiz, Firdousi ans with translations of Sanskrit texts”. “Sir William Jones‟ hymes to Indian deities had been taken for translation, and Jones ‟notes and other apparatus made frequent comparisons of Indian gods to the gods of Greece and Rome”. “Indian society was in a state of transition” and there was contradiction about the development of society whether it was to take place along western line or a synthesis of East and West. The second opinion was in favour of modernisation of the society along western lines. Derozio wanted to spread “western, particularly English ideas”. Derozio was influenced by Francis Bacon‟s (1561-1626) philosophy and it influenced him for scientific thinking.
Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum and New Atlantis embodied scientific views. In “Sonnet on the Philosophy of Bacon” Derozio appreciated Bacon‟s scientific and secular idea of truth. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
Indian English poetry has been understood to begin with Henry Louis Vivian Derozio. “English language poetry in India was only the preoccupation of a small set of British and Indian elites. Baconian idea of fresh knowledge as the driving force of human progress is evident in Derozio‟s address to the student‟s “as your knowledge increases, moral principals will be fortified and rectitude of conduct will ensure happiness. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
“He is some times critical of things Indian. Defends Indian Knowledge and intelligence” (Gibson 22).Thomas Paine‟s (1757-1809) Age of Reason (1807) also influenced the thoughts of Derozio and his disciples. This book brought a revolution in France and England in religious thoughts. Everything was sought to justify in terms of reason. It challenged the accepted social systems and orthodox prejudices and questioned the validity of archaic religious ideas. Paine‟s rational spirit inspired Derozio and his students. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
Derozio was also influenced by French thinker M. Pierre Louis Moreau. He translated his moral philosophy De Maupertuis from French into English. It was printed post humously. Derozio was greatly inspired by the English Romantic poets- Thomas Moore (1799-1852), L.E. London (1802-1838), John Keats (1795-1821), Lord Byron (1798-1824), William Words worth (1770-1580), P.B. Shelly (1792-1822) and Sir Walter Scott (1791-1832).Poems of Derozio reflect the English romantic spirit. He imitated Thomas Moore,L.E. London, Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott in his love and romance poems. John Keatsand P.B. Shelly influenced in writing poems on nature. Derozio‟s romantic poems reflect freedom of individual feeling, emotion and passionand love for nature. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
The Fakeer of Jung heera and Eclipse reflects the romantic ideal of freedom and passion, protest against certain customs and traditions. Passionate plea for want of liberty like a bird confined in a cage is available in Tasso. Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
The Fakeer of Jung heera is “altogether upon the strained and extravagant model of Lord Byron‟s poetic romance poetic romance of love and murder” (Oriental Herald 114-115).Humanitarian ideal of the west also influenced the poems of Derozio. Influence of Thomas Campbell is reflected in the lines “And as the slave departs, the man returns” in Freedom to the Slave. Anti-slavery movement also influenced him to write on freedom. Freedom to the Slave Social and Cultural situations in India during Derozio’s time.
was written when Anti-slavery movement was quiet strong in England. The poem expressed degrading and inconsistent feeling of slavery and advocated free thought and movement. Glory of the struggle for freedom from slavery and tyranny was sung. The poem reflected sympathy for the tortured and oppressed slaves. It had an appeal for struggle for the freedom of the slave. Humanitarian consideration with indignation is expressed in the poem On The Abolition of Sat tee. Derozio was influenced by Robert Burns (1757-1796) also. He received this influence from his teacher, David Drummond, who composed a poem named In Memory of Robert Burns. Derozio was against the superstitions prevalent in society. This environment of super stition made Derozio to write against it. He believed the reason of superstition as priestly impositions. He exposed the unholy deeds of holy characters and hollowness of saintly men and priests in The Fakeer of Jung heera. In the poem Eclipse, he contended that the real reason of Eclipse is known to the Brahmins but they plunged people into it’s superstitious notion.