Mumbai Multiplex | Freedom from the ‘guru’
The history of the city's music clubsfrom a chapter in a new book on Hindustani music in colonial Bombay
Divergent colonial ideologies created a Western-educated intellectual class in India. To begin with, the orientalists studied various aspects of Indian society and sought to link them to an ancient exotic civilization. In the process, they supported Indian languages, and published literature to acquaint Indians with Western rationalism and scientific temper. The Evangilicals set up missionary schools to further the cause of Christianity among Indians. But above all, it was the Anglicist viewpoint so vociferously put forth by Lord Macaulay in his famous Minute of 1835 that made English education inevitable in the Indian context. In Bombay, the influence of Western education was widely experienced after Mountstuart Elphinstone, as Governor of Bombay Presidency from 1819 to 1827, laid a firm base for modern learning in the region. Bombay saw the birth of several institutions that gave an impetus to the city’s intellectual life. Among these, the Students Literary and Scientific Society established in 1848 and its vernacular branches known as the Marathi and Gujrati Upayukta Jnyan Prasarak Sabhas (1849) are of particular relevance here. Members of the intellectual elite played a prominent role in these organizations and challenged the position of the shetias, who had until then been the leaders of the Indian community and had supported the spread of education by donating generously to such organizations, but had often been sectarian in serving the interests of their individual castes and communities. Western ideas of liberty and equality inspired intellectuals to question British administrative, political and economic policies. Spurred on by a nationalistic sentiment, they endeavoured to prove that Indian civilization was in no way inferior to the West and that India was a repository of ancient culture.