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Modern India is really medieval Europe transplanted to an Eastern clime. Religion in both cases plays and played a dominant part. Men turned their intelligence to the creation of theological problems in the Middle Ages, and then spent centuries arguing about them. Those who travelled did so in order to make long pilgrimages to holy shrines. The populace was enslaved by stupid customs and deeply rooted superstitious notions kept alive by a powerful priesthood. The intelligentsia debated whether an angel could stand on the point of a needle, or engaged in splitting metaphysical hairs. Though these amusing things have died out of the present-day West, they have not died out of present-day India. It is pitiful to find her pundits and priests still cherishing notions which were platitudes in medieval Europe, but which the modern world disregards scornfully. Most Indians still believe in charms and spells and witchcraft; so, four centuries ago, did most Englishmen. Most Hindus will believe any barbarous nonsense if only it is told them by a priest; so, four centuries ago, did many Englishmen.


-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 2: India > # 205






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