Polo does not spend much time in India before heading to the island of Nicobar. Here, Polo shows some of his imperialistic tendencies, as he looks down upon the natives who live there - "In this island there is no king, and the people live like beasts" (Polo, p. 257). He goes on to elaborate on how people run around naked, as "idolaters"; however, Polo also notes their ability to appreciate beauty, as they equate those who possess beautiful things have the greatest honor. The island of Andaman is described similarly; the natives are described as savages. "You may take it for a fact that all the men of this island have heads like dogs, and teeth and eyes like dogs" (p. 258). The island of Ceylon is also given similar treatment - every one of these different sets of peoples are described as 'idolaters,' and they are often valued by what commodities they have that are of interest to Westerners. The Ceylon inhabitants have brazil, and the kin possesses "the finest ruby that exists in all the world" (p. 259).
Polo, for example, includes the religious customs of the people he encounters, but in a Christian context. For Polo's writing, there is a binary that exists which includes either "Christian" or "idolater" - Polo often makes a point to illustrate the more savage and primitive customs encountered by the people he meets, including their clothes and their abundance of food. Much emphasis is placed on the fine jewels and exotic spices that these native peoples possess, as if Marco Polo is taking an inventory of what these new people have that Westerners can take and exploit.
In the case of Marco Polo, the purposes and interests he carried as he traveled were fairly self-serving, and even slightly sinister. Marco Polo's audience was primarily Christian, and so he appealed to that audience as he wrote. When dealing with the foreign religions of Indian, he is clearly biased against them, claiming that Muslims practice "black arts" and that the primitive island natives he met along the way were "idolaters." He also describes Buddhists as idol-worshippers, noting that they take many wives and are sexually indulgent, judging them negatively for these views. This is far from an objective viewpoint of these religions, and dramatically colors his prose towards a specific audience. One gets the impression that his purpose was also to find material things that would interest Westerners, including exotic spices and jewels. By noting what precious stones people (especially Indian royalty) had, the text seems like it is taking a future inventory of what Westerners hope to take from others.
Larner, John. Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World. Yale University Press, 1999. Print.
Polo, Marco. The Travels of Marco Polo.