Photos and Videos tagged with #changes
4 ASIA AND EUROPE
January 8, 1931
EVERYTHING #changes continually, I said in my last letter. What is history, indeed, but a record
of change ? And if there had been very few changes in the past, there would have been little of
history to write.
The history we learn in school or college is usually not up to much. I do not know very much
about others, but about myself I know that I learnt very little in school. I learnt a little—very
little—of the history of India, and a little of the history of England. And even the history of India
that I learnt was largely wrong or distorted and written by people who looked down upon our
country. Of the history of other countries I had the vaguest knowledge. It was only after I left
college that I read some real history. Fortunately, my visits to prison have given me a chance of
improving my knowledge.
I have written to you in some of my earlier letters about the ancient civilization of India, about
the Dravidians and the coming of the Aryans. I have not written much about the days before the
Aryans, because I do not know much about them. But it will interest you to know that within the
last few years the remains of a very ancient civilization have been discovered in India. These are
in the north-west of India round about a place called Mohen-jo Daro. People have dug out these
remains of perhaps 6000 years ago and have even discovered mummies, similar to those of old
Egypt. Imagine ! all this was thousands of years ago, long before the Aryans came. Europe must
then have been a wilderness.
To-day Europe is strong and powerful, and its people consider themselves the most civilized and
cultured in the world. They look down upon Asia and her peoples, and come and grab everything
they can get from the countries of Asia. How times have changed ! Let us have a good look at
Europe and Asia. Open an atlas and see little Europe sticking on to the great Asiatic Continent. It
seems to be just a little extension of it. When you read history you will find that for long periods
and stretches of time 10
Asia had been dominant. Her people went in wave after wave and conquered Europe. They
ravaged Europe and they civilized Europe. Aryans, Scythians, Huns, Arabs, Mongols, Turks—
they all came from somewhere in Asia and spread out over Asia and Europe. Asia seemed to
produce them in great numbers like locusts. Indeed, Europe was for long like a colony of Asia,
and many people of modern Europe are descended from these invaders from Asia.
Asia sprawls right across the map like a big, lumbering giant. Europe is small. But, of course,
this does not mean that Asia is great because of her size or that Europe is not worthy of much
attention. Size is the poorest test of a man's or a country's greatness. We know well that Europe,
though the smallest of continents, is to-day great. We know also that many of her countries have
had brilliant periods of history. They have produced great men of science who have, by their
discoveries and inventions, advanced human civilization tremendously and made life easier for
millions of men and women. They have had great writers and thinkers, and artists and musicians
and men of action. It would be foolish not to recognize the greatness of Europe.
But it would be equally foolish to forget the greatness of Asia. We are apt to be taken in a little
by the glitter of Europe and forget the past. Let us remember that it is Asia that has produced
great leaders of thought who have influenced the world perhaps more than any one or anything
elsewhere—the great founders of the principal religions. Hinduism, the oldest of the great
religions existing to-day, is of course the product of India. So also is its great sister-religion
Buddhism, which now spreads all over China and Japan and Burma and Tibet and Ceylon. The
religion of the Jews and Christianity are also Asiatic religions, as their origin was in Palestine on
the west coast of Asia. Zoroastrianism, the religion of the Parsis, began in Persia, and you know
that Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, was born in Mecca in Arabia. Krishna, Buddha,
Zoroaster, Christ, Mohammed, and Confucius and Lao-Tse, the great philosophers of China—
you could fill pages with the names of the great thinkers of Asia. You could also fill pages with
the names of the great men of action of Asia. And in many other ways I could show you how
great and vital was this old continent of ours in the days gone by.
How times have changed ! But they are changing again even before our eyes. History usually
works slowly through the centuries, though sometimes there are periods of rush and burst-ups.
To-day, however, it is moving fast in Asia, and the old continent is waking up after her long
slumber. The eyes of the world are upon her, for everyone knows that Asia is going to play a
great part in the future.
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