systemhalted by Palak Mathur

Obermann Once More by Matthew Arnold

"The East bow'd low before the blast
In patient deep disdain;
She let the legions thunder past,
And plunged in thought again."

This is a part of a poem written by Matthew Arnold(24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888), viz. Obermann Once More.

This poem is often used with reference to East by European historians specially when talking about India. The poem's meaning can be understood by the following lines from the book Struggle for Asia by Francis Low:-

"Just over a hundred years ago the people of Asia had either resolutely sealed themselves off from from all contact with the West or were incapable of defending themselves against Western governments which backed the demands of adventurous European and American traders. The great continent slumbered, immersed either in its own culture and civilization or in its own internal quarrels."

Asia for long has been a place of struggle for eminent position among Europeans. France, Great Britain and Russia have always tried to have a control over Asia. What can be the reason for this? I don't know where to start drawing a line. But when I see, Asian countries were far behind their western counterparts when it comes to Industrial Revolution and cross-border trades. These westerners wanted to market their products in Asian market but due to the fear of these 'barbarians' we tried to keep aloof. India was an example for this as East India Company, which entered India as traders soon acquired most of the territories and soon India was a British colony. Most of the Asian coutries had had a rich culture and tradition and they always cherished what they had and any kind of interference from the outside must have been considered as a threat to their culture and tradition.

Talking specifically about India, it would be wrong to say that India bowed in front of the Britishers and of course not before resisting them. Since the known history of India, she has been invaded number of times and has absorbed them all. And all those absorbed by her have changed and adapted to the Indian culture or have helped her shape a new culture. But English were different. They were imperialists in their thoughts and actions. They had not come to rule over her but ruin her. This all may be questioned, however, one thing is sure that they were "Different"; not the one who could get adapted to the culture of the soil. So, the resistance is a natural phenomenon that would have taken place and so saying that India bowed in front of them would be wrong and foolish.