Trying to decode a society and how things work around in it is the crux of what any sociologist keens on doing. Though the goal may be the same, the approach towards doing it has differences, as would be the case in any field of research and study.
The two major differences in going about the way one studies the Indian society per se, are in the way in which the sociologist derives information about the society. The book view and the field view are such two approaches that make the core difference between how sociologists with these two approaches would perceive and subsequently write about a society.
The book view in Indian sociology is one that would make a sociologist develop a picture of the Indian society which would very much be in line with the way the Hindu scriptures and, partly, the historical records, describe it, which is what the orientalist theorists used to develop an understanding of the Indian society.
The field view, on the other hand, is the view that one would develop after stepping into the society that the sociologist intends on studying and having a first-hand experience. This began as a view that had come to replace or probably modify the book view. This view would also acquaint one with the social realities of the society.
Since the core difference between the two views is the physical presence of the sociologist, it is bound to produce very different results in what a sociologist takes from their research depending on whether they choose to go by the book view or the field view.
One could say that the field view is inherently a better way of going about researching and studying a society since it requires the sociologist to connect and perhaps form some sort of relationship with some of the people of the society they might be studying. However, one could also say that it is important to know the book view of a society as well since it could tell one some important things about how the “outsiders” would see the society, though that wouldn’t be of utmost importance if one’s primary concern is to study the society itself and not how others outside of it see it. If one is making the argument that the book view is also in some ways true about what it says about the society, then another positive point about it could be that it would help a sociologist to understand some of the things that perhaps led to the current shape and norms of the society. Only taking the book view, however, would produce a colorized view of the Indian society.
With all that in mind, it is safe for one to say that the best way of studying a society would be to have an approach that takes both the book view and the field view of the Indian society into account and doesn’t get swayed away by the book view in the process. Of course, the field view may have its own drawbacks, such as the risk of having the sociologist’s biases. Yet, one could fairly easily argue that developing a careful field view would be better than simply going by what the orientalist theorists had described, which, along with being a colonized and stereotypical account, would be a view which may not hold true to the present day realities.