1. Indology is branch of social sciences dealing with interpretation of ancient texts and linguistic studies to understand Ancient Indian culture.
  2. According to this Perspective Man is India is not an individual who is independent and rationally guided by writs. Rather man India is a person who is having committeemen to his culture.

Characteristics of lndological Approach

  1. The Indological approach rested on the assumption that historically, Indian society and culture are unique. This uniqueness of Indian society could be grasped better through the texts.
  2. Indological approach refers to the historical and comparative method based on Indian texts in the study of Indian society.
  3. Indologists use ancient history, epics, religious manuscripts and texts etc. in the study of Indian social institutions.
  4. The texts which indologists refer basically included the classical ancient literature of ancient Indian society such as Vedas, Puranas, Manu Smriti, Ramayana, Mahabharata and others. Indologists analyse social phenomena by interpreting the classical texts.
  5. Apart from Sanskrit scholars and Indologists, many sociologists have also used extensively traditional text to study Indian society.Therefore, it is called as “textual view” or “textual perspective” of social phenomena as it depends upon texts.

Thus, textual variety of sociology that emerged in the late 1970s marks a noticeable shift from the European to the American tradition of social anthropology. The studies conducted during this period cover a wide range of subjects, such as social structure and relationships, cultural values, kinship, ideology, cultural transactions and symbolism of life and the world Most of these studies are based on textual materials either drawn from epics, legends, myths or from the folk traditions and other symbolic forms of culture. Most of them have been published in ‘Contribution to Indian Sociology’ edited by T.N. Madan. A good number of studies following this method have been done by foreign-based scholars.

An Indological and culturological approach has also been the hallmark of several sociologists. They have hammered against the acceptance of theoretical and methodological orientations of the western countries. These scholars emphasized the role of traditions, groups rather than individual as the basis of social relations and religion, ethics and philosophy as the basis of social organization.

  1. Yogendra Singh has argued that when field studies in many areas of their interest in India became difficult, textual analysis, either of classics or ethics or field notes from an earlier data, represented a fruitful basis for continued analysis of Indian structure and tradition in the1970s and 1980s.
  2. R.N. Saxena agrees which this Indological or scriptural basis of studying Indian society. He stressed on the role of the concepts of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
  3. Mackivm marmot and Milton singer applied Robert Concept of little community in India. Ideological perspective helped them in developing concept of little tradition and great tradition.
  4. Dumont and Pocock emphasize the utility of Indological formulations.Indology is representative of people’s behaviour or that guides people’s behaviour in a significant way.
  5. The use of the Indobgical approach during the early formative years of Indian sociology and social anthropology is seen in the works of G.S Ghurye, Louis Dumont, K.M. Kapadia, P.H. Prabhu and Irawati Karve have tried to explore Hindu social institutions and practices, either with reference to religious texts or through the analysis of contemporary practices.
  6. Initially Sir William Jones established the AsiaticSociety of Bengal in 1787 and also introduced the study of Sanskrit and Indology.

G. S. GHURYE (1893-1983)

Govind Sadashiv Ghurye is remembered for his marked contribution in the field of Indian sociology: He has often been acclaimed as the father of Indian sociology’, ‘the doyen of Indian sociologists’ or ‘the symbol of sociological creativenesses. Ghurye had been engaged in building up; almost single-handedly, the entire first generations of Indian sociologists in post-independence period M.N. Srinivas has rightly said, “Nothing disguises the fact that Ghurye was a giant”. He is justifiably considered the doyen of Indian Sociology. On his return from Cambridge, where he wrote his doctoral dissertation under W.H.R. Rivers and later A.C. Haddon, Ghurye succeeded Sir Patric Geddes as Head of Department of Sociology in the University of Bombay in 1924. He continued to head the Department until his retirement in 1959.After retirement, he was designated the first Emeritus Professor in the University of Bombay.

Ghurye’s contribution to the development of sociology and anthropology in India is enormous and multifaceted. A prolific writer, Ghurye wrote 32 books and scores of papers, which cover such wide-ranging themes as kinship and marriage, urbanization, ascetic traditions, tribal life, demography, architecture and literature.

  1. Ghurye played a key rob in the professionalisation of sociology by founding the Indian Sociological Society and its journal Sociological Bulletin. In addition, he encouraged and trained a large number of talented students who, in turn, advanced the frontiers of sociological and anthropological research in the country.With his own voluminous output and through the researches of his able students Ghurye embarked on an ambitious project of mapping out the ethnographic landscape of India.
  2. G.S Ghurye is considered founder of sociology in India. He wrote on broad range of themes including tribes, kinship, family and marriage, culture and civilization and sociology of conflict and integration. One of the major themes that Ghurye worked on was the tribal or aboriginal culture. It was his writings on this subject and his debate with Verrier Elwin first made him known outside sociology and the academic world.
  3. Many British administrator-anthropologists were especially interested in tribes in India and believed them to be primitive people with a distinctive culture far from mainstream Hinduism.They also believed them to be simple people suffering from exploitation and cultural degradation through contact with Hindu culture and society. Ghurye countered this view by saying that these ill effects were not specific to tribal cultures but were common to all the backward and downtrodden sections of the society.

Theoretical Approach of Ghurye:

Ghurye’s rigour and discipline are now legendary in Indian sociological circles. In the application of theories to empirical exercises or in the use of methodologies for data collection that legendary rigour is not somehow reflected. To put it differently, Ghurye was not dogmatic in the use of theory and methodology. He seems to have believed in practicing and encouraging disciplined ecclecticism in theory and methodology. Despite his training at Cambridge under W.H.R. Rivers and his broad acceptance of the structural-functional approach, Ghurye did not strictly conform to the functionalist tradition when interpreting the complex facets of Indian society and culture, which he chose to, investigate.

The pioneers of Indian sociology were ‘armchair’ or ‘lecture-ism’ sociologists. But Ghurye had conducted village, town and community studies.

Srinivas and Panini are of the view that “Ghurye insisted on fieldwork, though he himself was an armchair scholar”. This was not intended as a pejorative comment, but it reflected the tremendous premium placed on single-handed ‘anthropological fieldwork’. Therefore, it may be said that although trained in the craft of Indology, Ghurye was not averse to the fieldwork traditions of social and cultural anthropology. His field survey of ‘Sex Habits of Middle Class People’ in Bombay and the monograph on the Mahadev Kolis demonstrated Ghurye was far from promoting an armchair textual scholarship. He was an empirical field worker also. Later generations of Indian sociologists and social anthropologists uses Ghurye’s inexhaustible themes for their researches.

Few Marked Characteristics of Ghurye’s Theoretical Approach:

  1. Ghurye was a practitioner of ‘theoretical pluralism’. Basically interested in inductive empirical exercises and depicting Indian social reality using any source material – primarily Indological – his theoretical position bordered on laissez-faire.
  2. Similarly, when Ghurye conducted survey-type research involving primary data collection, he did not conform to accepted methodological canons. He often ventured into generalization on the basis of scanty and unrepresentative evidence, e.g., Social Tensions in India.
  3. Ghurye’s flexible approach to theory and methodology in sociology and social anthropology was born of his faith in intellectual freedom, which is reflected in the diverse theoretical and methodological approaches that his research students pursued in their works.
  4. Ghurye also used historical and comparative methods in his studies which have also been followed by his students.
    • Ghurye Considers that ’Vidya’ is not just knowledge offered to people in search of embayment but it is essential to transform an instinctive human being into culturally sensible person.
    • This knowledge was given by teacher to student and preacher to masses through oral traditions for example. Vedas were source of knowledge up to1st and 2nd century be. From1st to 2nd century AD they were replayed by puranas. In 3rd and 4th century source of knowledge were samhita and Smritis, In 4th 5th century AD, the source of knowledge was jataka (Buddhist literature), from 6th to 9th century AD, It was Vyakarna, Ganit, Mimansa, Tarkashastra and so on,
    • Apter 9th century AD Islamic Invasion broke that continuity Sanskrit was replaced by persion and culture that was unifying India lost
    • Later on, In British rute. Policies of western education, forced conversion led to further degradation of Vidya (knowledge).
    • Ghurye was initially influenced by the reality of diffusionist approach of British social anthropology but subsequently he switched on to the studies of Indian society from indological and anthropological perspectives. He emphasised on Indological approach in the study of social and cultural life in India and elsewhere. This helps in the understanding of society through literature. Ghurye utilized literature in sociological studies with his profound knowledge of Sanskrit literature, extensively quoted from the Vedas, Shastras, epics, and poetry of Kalidas or Bhavabhuti to shed light on the social and cultural life in India. He made use of the literature in vernacular, e.g., Marathi, and cited from the literature of modern writers like Bankimchandra Chatterjee as well.

Brief Assessment of Ghurye:

During his creative period of writing, Indian sociology was engaged in the debate on tradition and modernity: Ghurye neither entered into this controversy, nor he took up the issue of the role of tradition in
Indian society. Critics argued that,

  1. Ghurye stressed that Indian traditions are actually Hindu traditions. One must know the Hindu traditions to understand Indian society. The traditions of India are only Hindu traditions. He did not define traditions.
  2. He also did not discuss the impact of modernity. His main concern was the core of Hindu society. In this sense, the traditions of Indian society have its roots in scripture, which is a very narrow vision about Indian society.
  3. It has been argued that the most of Ghurye’s works are based on textual and scriptural data.
  4. M.N.Srinivas said Ghurye did not studied Indian society in holistic manner and never gave emphasis on empirical studies.
  5. The choice of scripture and the way of writing may have bias towards one section of society to another.
  6. Ghurye further fails to recognize that qualitative change has occurred in modern India. Past is important for present The question is that how much of the past is usefuL Some argue that Ghurye did not have this realization as his knowledge of the India’s past, instead of helping him, stood in his way of analysis.
  7. In opinion of S.C Dubey “One can glorify the past but are cannot get back to past if she is not happy with present.

However, Ghurye was not only concerned with the past evolution of Indian society but also with its present tensions and problems. The task of sociologists, according to him, is to explore the social history of past He says, one cannot understand the present without the reference of the past Ghurye introduced a down-to-earth empiricism in Indian sociology and social anthropology. He was an ethnographer, who studied tribes and castes of India, using historical and Indological data. His knowledge of Sanskrit enabled him to study the religious scriptures in the context of Indian society.


  1. Wide range of Ghurye’s work and his intellectual interests has had a profound influence on the development of sociology in India. Like a discreet butterfly, Ghurye moved from one theme to another with equal interest, erudition and ability. He showed India to an inexhaustible mind where sociologists could conduct endless explorations. He indicated innumerable but unexplored dimensions of Indian society, culture and social institutions, which would occupy social analysis for decades if they had both the desire and the ability to know.
  2. This rare spirit of inquiry and commitment to advancing the frontiers of knowledge was one of Ghurye’s precious gifts to Indian sociology. His diversified interests are also reflected in the great variety of works of his research students produced on themes ranging from family, kinship structures, marriage, religious sects, ethnic groups, castes and aboriginals, their customs and institutions, to social tribes and stratification, caste and class, education and society, the Indian nationalist movement, social structure and social change in specific villages or religious of India, and also urbanization, industrialization and related social problems in India.
  3. The range of Ghurye’s interests is encyclopaedic. His abiding interest is in the course of work civilization, in general and in Hindu civilization, in particular. He has analyzed various aspects like the origin and evolution of caste, the evolution of Indo-Aryan family structures and its connections with the Indo-European family structure, and specific institutions like gotra etc.Analysis of the diverse aspects of the evolution of Indian social history and culture thus constitutes the major preoccupation of Ghurye.
  4. This perspective focus on understanding the ‘ordering’ and ‘patterning’ of the social world. The focus of attention is mainly the ‘problem of order’ at a societal level The theoretical and empirical analyses have generally been based on the assumption that societies can be seen as persistent, cohesive, stable, generally inherited wholes, differentiated by their culture and social structural arrangements.
  5. Regarding this perspective, A.R. Radcliffe-Brown says that the total social structure of a society, together with the totality of social usages, constituted a functional unity, a condition in which all parts work together with a sufficient degree of harmony or internal consistency.
  6. Structural-functionalism is brought into sociology by borrowing concepts from biological sciences. Structure in biology refers to organisms meaning a relatively stable arrangement of relationship between different cells and the consequences of the activity of the various organs in the life process of the organism as their function.
  7. Herbert Spencer goes further and points out that not only analogy exists between the body social and body human but the same definition of life is applied to both.
  8. Durkheim insisted on the importance of structure over elements. He has pointed to the importance of social morphology or structure.
  9. According to Srinivas, “In the recent British social anthropology, the two important concepts-Structure and function – imply that every society is a whole and that its various parts are interrelated. In other words, the various groups and categories which are part of a society are related to each other”.
    • This perspective of society stresses the element of harmony and consistency not those of conflict and contradiction.
    • The functional unity of a system is defined in terms of social order.
    • In defining society in holistic terms, structural-functional implies that as everything within the system is necessarily functional for the whole.
    • They are the believers of the fact that society is a relatively persisting configuration of elements and consensus is a ubiquitous element of the social system.
    • It treats changes as slow, cumulative process of adjustment to new situations.
    • Its explanation consists essentially of pointing out how the different types of activity fit on top of one another, and are consistent with one another, and how conflicts are contained and prevented from changing the structure.

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ramesh n

Tq for sharing optional notes..