Indology by G.S. Ghurye | Sociology IQ

Indology by G.S. Ghurye | UPSE | Sociology IQ

Introducing Indian Society

1)Perspectives on the study of Indian society:

 Before going to subjective knowledge we must know why we need different perspective to study Indian society like Indology by G.S. Ghurye , structural functionalism by M.N. Srinivas and Marxist sociology by A.R. Desai the reason behind that is our Indian society is too complex in form of its feature like caste system, social classes, kinship, religion etc which is not shown anywhere else in the world.


Organizations like Asiatic Society of Bengal led by William Jones who also translated Manusmriti in English, Bethune Society from Madras which was formed in 1859, Society for Acquisition of General Knowledge which was formed in 1838 sown seeds of sociological thought.

Indology (G.S. Ghurye)


G.S. Ghurye (Govind Sadashiv Ghurye) was the father of Indian sociology and Indology as well. He was born in Brahman family in Malavan, Maharashtra and later became a Sanskrit scholar.

Ghurye had interest in Vedas, Saashtras, and poetry of Kalidas and these were the reason for his Indological perspective.

By using historical text, the perspective of studying about Indian society came to be known as Indology.

In general way, Indology means systematic study of Indian society and its culture through historical text. Intention of Indological perspective is to understand Indian society through historical documents (Kautilya’s Arthashastra and other foreign visitor’s writing), archeological evidence, traditional religious texts (Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas) etc.

Ghurye’s Indology has main focus on culture; culture is main element throughout his works. Archeological materials, Sanskrit texts and historical documents help him to understand society.

Method –

Sanskrit +Vernacular – This method of Ghurye is based on large number of texts. His approach is a mix up of historical and descriptive ethnography. Talking about Descriptive ethnography it is very much rooted in empirical reality.

 According to Ghurye, Indian society is unique in nature and it should be understood in terms of concept and theories particular to Indian society.

Diffusionist Method – He uses the method of diffusion to understand the evolution of caste in India and cultural style of Indian society.

Salient features of Indological approach are-

  • Indian society is distinctive and it can be understand by concept and theories related to Indian society.
  • Understanding of the society is developed in face of continuity from the past.
  • Indologist focused more on understanding rather than to suggesting solutions of the problems.

According to Ghurye, Indian society is a Hindu society, without understanding Hindu Tradition, Hindu society cannot be understood.

He stress upon understanding of – Hindu tradition, order and change in society. Here “order” is understood in terms of specific aspects of society like caste, tribe, social classes etc.

He had vital views of Indian society taken from past and understanding level of process of change in society because of British power.

His work can be classified into six areas:

1) Caste – He tried to understand caste from historical texts, merge it with field work and cultural perspective. He gave theory of origin of caste, as reported by him caste originated from Gangetic plains and spread to other areas. He mentioned six feature of caste – division of labour, hierarchy, principle of purity and pollution, civil and religious disabilities, endogamy and hereditary nature.

According to Ghurye, endogamy is most important feature of caste system. He sees formation of caste alliance as spreading of caste awareness and he calls it as “caste patriotism”.

2) Tribe – He also gave his views on tribes, he calls tribal as “Backward Hindu”. He believed that separate identity cannot be made as already most of the tribes have been hinduised after a long period of contact with Hindus.

3) Kinship, Family and Marriage – Ghurye talk about relationship between kinship and caste. Both are very close because endogamy/exogamy is largely based on kinship, either real or imaginary.

4) Culture and civilization – With local needs and situations any community culture grows independently.

According to him, man preserves best of old culture while creating new one.

5) Religion – He sees religion as dynamic as Indian society. He wrote many book on it including “Indian Sadhu, 1952”, “God and Man, 1962” etc.

6) Sociology of conflicts and integration: As a sociologist he had concerned with the concept of integration, the process of national unity in India, and the contemporary challenges to the situation.

There are three books of Ghurye known as “triology” in this field. These are – Social tensions in India (1968), Whither India (1974) and India Recreates Democracy (1978). In these books he has developed a theoretical framework to explain unity at the social or cultural.

Conclusion / Criticism:

Ghurye criticized for his Hinduised views of Indian society. He mostly considered Hindu Culture as culture of India. He fails to realize qualitative changes that occur during colonial rule. He also fails to explore structural implications of many social institutions like caste.

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