The Beautiful Tree

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Indian historical knowledge, by and large, has been derived, at least until recent decades, from the writings and accounts left by foreigners.

This applies equally to our knowledge about the status of Indian education over the past five centuries.

The universities of Taxila and Nalanda, and a few others until recently have been better known and written about primarily because they had been described centuries ago by some Greek or Chinese traveler, who happened to keep a journal which had survived, or had communicated such information to his compatriots who passed it down to our times.

Travelers and adventurers of a new kind began to wander around parts of India from about 1500 A.D., and more so from about the close of the 16th century.

Since for centuries, the areas they came from had had no direct links with India, and as they had come from wholly different climates and societies to them most aspects of India-its manners, religions, philosophies, ancient and contemporary architecture, wealth, learning, and even its educational methods were something quite different from their own backgrounds, assumptions, and experience.

Prior to 1770, by which Lime they had become actual rulers of large areas), the British, on whose writings and reports this book is primarily based had rather a different set of interests.

These interests, as in the subsequent period too, were largely mercantile, technological, or were concerned with comprehending and evaluating Indian statecraft; and, thereby, extending their influence and dominion in India.

Indian religions, philosophies, scholarship and the extent of education notwithstanding what a few of them may have written on the Parsis, or the Banias of Surat-had scarcely interested them until then.

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