When, some two centuries ago, German Romantics turned their backs on modernity – industrialisation, urbanisation, commerce and secularisation – they turned to ancient India. For them, India exemplified the primordial unity of mankind with this and the afterworld. For sections of the emerging nationalist movement in Germany, found the deployment of India handy to question the cultural hegemony, and eventually break the political dominance, of France. They tried to surpass the French, who claimed the ancient Roman heritage, by claiming an even older heritage for the Germans. Friedrich Schlegel for example suggested that the German language, and not the French, stood in unbroken continuity with ancient Sanskrit. For Romantics such as he, Sanskrit, the oldest surviving Indo-European language, was closest to the language of original divine revelation. This lead Schlegel to romanticise India in a way that stood in marked contrast to the Orientalist clichés current in other parts of Europe at the time. For him, the link between Sanskrit and German made Germany the true oriental self of Europe. The importance of this particular representation of India for the German national movement is underlined by the great number of university chairs that sprang up in the course of the nineteenth century: twenty two in Germany as opposed to only three in the United Kingdom. This paper explores the particular kind of ‘inverse’ Orientalism of the Germans in the context of its recent post-colonial critique.