One with a fondness for things English would be an Anglophile, one who likes things French, a Francophile. One with a love of good sound quality in recorded music playback and maybe some gullibility about their ability to judge superior sound quality would be an audiophile.
I might be called an Indophile. What’s that?
I’ve a strong bias for things Indian—but not just Indian—anything to do with the Indian subcontinent and nearby regions, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, to name a few.
This bias of mine is an interest that goes back a few years, a drive to learn what I can on matters pertaining to the region; it’s history; it peoples; its many cultures; some its languages, and as of last year, that last has led me to take up the study of three of those; Bengali, Hindi, and of particular interest, Tamil.
That last is in part because of Tamil classical literature and because of a local performance of South Indian classical dance in my home town some years ago. I’ll make no secret of the fact that I consider the subcontinent and the nearby region to be the homeland(s) of many of the most strikingly beautiful women on the planet.
The historical legacies of the subcontinent are many. Great empires and kingdoms now part of history were some of the most extensive of their times, the civilizations originating there among the most ancient known to history and even before.
There’s the prehistoric and advanced Indus Valley civilization with its mysterious script and knowledge of city planning, there are the Dravidian kingdoms of South India, there is the vast Maurya empire before the common era, and in the centuries C.E. there was the Gupta empire of northern and central India, considered by many to be the seat of India’s golden age.
There was the great mathematician and astronomer, Aryabhata I, who wrote his work the Aryabhatiya, at the age of only 23. It was in India that the same base-ten arithmetic, and the concept of the zero, used in Western mathematics ever since Leonardo of Pisa brought them to the West via Islamic scholars, were developed.
Magnificent architecture dots the region, testaments to the power of human engineering know-how, no space-aliens needed. Genius exists in any era, and among all peoples. Never underestimate the capacity of people to dream and accomplish great things without outside help.
There were seminal advances in science; in the arts; again in mathematics; in music and dance; and in a diverse literature of the finest grade.
India is the home of several of the great religions, of great works of poetry—great epics like the Ramayana—and along with the rest of the surrounding region is a place of ceaseless change and sometimes strife and great struggle as well.
To me, it is also a place of beauty.
I cannot offer an airtight, perfectly logical reason for interest in the region, though I do not think that I need to. It is enough that my interest simply is, with no attempt at justifying it required nor desired.
My knowledge is only partial, my grasp of the languages still at a novice’s level, but here and there, there is progress. I don’t like showing off, so until I’m pretty sure of using proper syntax and spelling in the languages, you won’t see much of that on these blogs beyond mnemonics I use for study. But this is an interest that will consume my attention for many years. I’ve extended my language studies to several more years of each one. No room for fudging on this.
As I type this, I’m listening to music on a Tamil internet radio station with my iPod, to help my grasp of that language’s sounds when I study. Glorious stuff, including the instrumentals of the piece I’m listening to.
I’m not Indian myself, but that matters little to me. What matters to me is that I pursue this interest until I can do so no more. That would be enough. I can stop once I’m gone.
…and not until then.