Discussion in 'Eastern Philosophy' started by spookz, Jul 12, 2002.
was there another homeland from where the invasion was launched?
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There wasn't another homeland, the Aryans were nomads before the invasion of Dravidia.
Generally it is believed by scholars that the Dravidians maintained a large and wealthy empire 1000 years before the Aryans arrived. However, when the Aryans arrived, they were quickly pushed south to where they live today (Tamil Nadu, other Southern provinces, northern and eastern Sri Lanka)
The Aryans were an Indo-European peoples, and it's generally believed that they made their way from either ANATOLIA or from the BALTIC, whichever was the original Indo-European homeland. If I recall correctly, they were in the 2nd group of migrants from the Indo-European homeland.
Welcome to sciforums, spookz.
thank you kind sir
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I recently saw in TLC channel about pyramids throughout the world - which is supposedly predates modern civilization. One of the video shown was the Madurai temple as pyramid shape and is linked to dravidian civilization. No one has dug deep into the Dravidian culture and the origin - long before the Aryan culture. I wonder if that culture dates way back to the pyramid people....
Another item I wonder is the aborigins in India. Story is that Dravidians pushed them when they invaded/ emigrated to India. Indian aborigins have similar features as Australian aborigins. I wonder where they came from and what time period.
Lots of questions and not much answers....
The Dravidians are today thought to have come to the Indian subcontinent 1000 years before the Aryan arrival.
And Dravidians do still exist, in very large numbers too, and people have dug into their culture (but not so much their origin. some people believe that dravidians and indo-europeans are directly related)
As for aborigines: just curious as to if these people were completely obliterated. I can think of one major group in India that isn't Indo-European or Dravidian, and that would be the Manipuri. (often called Bishnupriya Manipuri)
If I am not mistaken, I think Manipuri people have much lighter skin and are of oriental ancestry with Assam as the major source but spread out between Bangladesh, Orissa (Linkage to Lord Jaggarnath) and West Bengal. The alphabets are Bengali in origin.
No, there are still aborigins in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Central India. Yes, Dravidians are still there and are basically are the south Indians with super long names. But there is a catch. During spice trade with Europe before (Roman and Jesus times), the southern culture was exposed to Europe and middleeast. So there could be those influences including co-mingling of people.
The Proto-Saharan Homeland of the Dravidian, African, Sumerian and Elamite People
Tribes of India
The Myth of Aryan Invasion of India
Update on debate
"There is general agreement among ethnologists that the Dravidian population is a branch of the Mediterranean race, or at least a closely allied one. while the Mediterranean race is White, the Dravidians are much darker, ranging from the dark Greek and Italian complexion to black. There is also a wide range of difference in the shape of the skull, the color and texture of the hair, the color of the eyes, and the shape of the nose. These deviations can be explained with a probable interbreeding between the Dravidians and Mundas, as it is still taking place in the Chotanagpur region between the Dravidian Oraons and the neighboring Mundas.
The Dravidians entered India before the Aryans, before 2000 B.C., after passing through Mesopotamia, Iran, and Baluchistan where the Brahuis, a Dravidian race, still live. On grounds of cultural affinities such as inheritance through women, snake cults, organization of society, and structure of temples, some historians connect the Dravidians with the Elamites and Mesopotamians. The evidence of Indian skulls from the Indus Valley indicates that the Mediter-ranean stock became established in north India before the Harappab Civilisation came into existence around 2000 B.C.
Granted that the Dravidians were,originally Mediterraneans and that they passed through Mesopotamia, Iran, and Baluchistan, exactly from which Mediter-ranean region did they come?
Of particular significance is archeologist B. B. Lal's contention that the Dravidians probably came from Nubia, Upper Egypt. This theory would give them among other things their Mediterranean features and dark complexion. Lal writes: "At Timos the Indian team dug up several megalithic sites of ancient Nubians which bear an uncanny resemblance to the cemeteries of early Dravidians which are found all over Western India from Kathiawar to Cape Comorin. The intriguing similarity extends from the subterranean structure found near them. Even the earthenware ring-stands used by the Dravidians and Nubians to hold pots were identical." According to Lal, the Nubian megaliths date from around 1000 B.C. "
Now that we know where Dravidians came from....we still have the Mundas to contend with....
I guess for the last 50,000 years, people keep going there and settling down.....
Yes, I know about the existance of Dravidians in India (in quite large numbers as well, something like 23% of the population) however I was asking you if you knew of it.
As for Mundas, they are an Austro-asiatic peoples, as are the Khmer of Cambodia (and quite a few others)
"The Munda people belong to the Australoid race and speak a family of languages called the Munda family: Korku, Santali, Mundari, Kharia, Saora, Parengi, Gutob, Bonda, and Didey. Today they live in the Chotanagpur geo-graphical region of Eastern India though once they occupied the whole of India, that is, before the arrival of Dravidians and Aryans."
and on a side note, the keralites
The Aryan/Dravidian Divide by david frawley
The languages of South India are Dravidian, which is a different linguistic group than the Indo-European languages of the North of the subcontinent. The two groups of languages have many different root words (though a number in common we might add), and above all a different grammatical structure, the Dravidian being agglutinative and the Indo-European being inflected. Dravidian languages possess a very old history of their own, which their legends, the Tamil Sangha literature, show a history in South India and Sri Lanka dating back over five thousand years.
Along with the difference of language there is a difference of skin color from north to south of India, with the southerners being darker in skin color (though northerners are hardly light in color by Western standards, with the exception of some people of the far northwest). Though a less pronounced difference than that of language it has been lumped together along with it again assuming that race and language must be the same.
The Aryan invasion theory has been used to explain both the linguistic and racial differences between the peoples of North and South India, and such differences have been put forth as "proof" of the invasion (as if no other explanation were possible). As the Aryans were made into a race, so were the Dravidians and the Aryan/Dravidian divide was turned into a racial war, the Aryan invaders versus the indigenous Dravidians of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. By this view the Vedic people promoted the superiority of their race and language and simply drove away those of different races or languages. We have already discussed how Sanskrit Aryan is never a racial term but a title of respect. Even the Dravidian kings called themselves Aryan. Nor is there anything in Vedic literature that places the Dravidians outside of the greater Vedic culture and ancestry. Hence to place Aryan against Dravidian as terms is itself a misuse of language. Be that as it may, the Aryan and Dravidian divide has also failed to prove itself.
Now it has been determined that there is no such thing scientifically speaking as Aryan and Dravidian races. The so-called Aryans and Dravidian races of India are members of the same Mediterranean branch of the Caucasian race, which prevailed in the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Sumeria and is still the main group in the Mediterranean area, North Africa, and the Middle East. The Caucasian race is not simply white but also contains dark skinned types. Skin color and race is another nineteenth century idea that has been recently discarded.
Darker skin color is commonly found in peoples living in more southern regions and appears as an adjustment mechanism to hotter climates and greater sunshine. For example southern Europeans are darker in skin color than northern Europeans, though they are not a different race because of this. This suggests that the Dravidian branch of the Mediterranean race must have lived in South India for some thousands of years to make this adjustment, and the same thing could be said of the people of North India as well if we would make them originally light-skinned invaders from the north.
The issue of language is similarly more complex. It is now known that Dravidian languages, with their agglutinative patterns, share common traits and are of the same broad linguistic group as such Asian and East European languages as Finnish, Hungarian, old Bulgarian, Turkish, Mongolian and Japanese, the Finno-Ugric and Ural-Altaic branches of languages. As the common point between these groups lies in Central Asia some scholars have recently proposed that the Dravidian peoples originally came from this region.
The same linguistic speculation that led to the Aryan invasion theory has following the same logic required a "Dravidian invasion." Not only are the Dravidians like the Aryans styled invaders into India, they took the same route as the Aryans. The city-state of Elam in southwest Iran, east of Sumeria, which had a high civilization throughout the ancient period, shows an agglutinative structure like the Dravidian, as does possibly the Sumerian itself. This would place Dravidian type languages in Iran as well. Thereby the Dravidians, just like the Aryans, would have migrated (again the reason for which is not clear) from Central Asia and into Iran, with one group moving west to Mesopotamia and the other, apparently larger group, going east into India. Later the invading Aryans are said to have forced the Dravidians to move to the south of the country from their original homeland on the Indus and Sarasvati rivers. (However, we have already noted that there is no evidence of such migrations, nor of any Dravidian references to the Sarasvati like those of the Vedas.)
The Dravidian and Aryan invasion theories turns the migration of particular language/racial groups from Central Asia into a kind of panacea to explain the developments of race and language for much of humanity, particularly for India. However both invasion theories appear far too simplistic given the complex ways in which cultures, languages and races move and interact.
The Dravidian claim to be indigenous to India has, like the Aryan, been discredited by linguistic argument. Yet the argument brings the Aryans and Dravidians back into contact with each other and derives them from the same region, suggesting a long term association between them outside of India. However if we give up the invasion model such association can be better explained by contact within India which we know was an historical fact.
Certainly the present population of India - which even the ancient Greeks and Persians regarded as dark-skinned - was not produced by light-skinned people from Central Asia (whether Aryan or Dravidian). Moreover, there cannot be a Dravidian invasion changing the language but not the population of India just like the Aryan invasion, as the idea is far-fetched to happen once but to happen twice in a row in the same region and by the same route is ridiculous.
If both the Aryan and Dravidian languages of India have affinities with those of Central Asia, and to peoples of different ethnic groups (the Indo-Aryan with the lighter skinned European and the Dravidians with both light-skinned Finns and Hungarians, and Mongolian race Turks) a phenomenon is created that is too complex to be explained by mere migration alone. It takes languages across the racial boundaries that migration theories uphold and places them on par with other cultural affinities (like art or religion), which are not limited by race.
The linguistic divide between Aryan and Dravidian, as that between the Indo-European and other language groups is also now being questioned. A greater Nostratic family of languages has been proposed that includes Indo-European, Dravidian and Semitic languages and looks for a common ancestor for all three. This requires a greater degree of contact between these groups which remote Central Asia cannot afford. Moreover, there are affinities between Sanskrit and the Munda or aboriginal languages of India, as S. Kalyanaraman has noted, that indicate a long and early contact, if not common evolution, which could have only happened in India. Such Vedic scholars as Sri Aurobindo have stated that the Dravidian and Sanskritic languages have much more in common than has yet been admitted and appear to have a common ancestor.
Dravidian history does not contradict Vedic history either. It credits the invention of the Tamil language, the oldest Dravidian tongue, to the rishi Agastya, one of the most prominent sages in the Rig Veda. Dravidian kings historically have called themselves Aryans and trace their descent through Manu (who in the Matsya Purana is regarded as originally a south Indian king). Apart from language, moreover, both north and south India share a common religion and culture. Prior to Vedic Sanskrit there may have been a language that was the basis of both the Dravidian and Sanskritic languages in India.
The idea that the same culture cannot produce two different language systems may itself be questionable. It may have been the very power of Vedic culture and its sages, with their mastery of the word, that they could have produced not only Indo-European like languages but also Dravidian.
In any case the Aryan/Dravidian divide is no longer sufficient to uphold the Aryan invasion theory. It leads to a more difficult to maintain Dravidian invasion theory. The Dravidian invasion theory is just a shadow cast by the Aryan invasion theory and reveals the erroneous nature of the latter.
Other aspects of the Aryan-Dravidian divide are predicated upon the invasion theory. For example the idea that South India represents a pre-Vedic Shaivite culture as opposed to the Brahmanical culture of the north follows only from this. Otherwise we see Shaivism in the North, in Kailas, Benares and Kashmir, and Shiva as Rudra of the Vedas. What have thereby been proposed as radical cultural differences between the North and South of India are merely regional variations in the vast cultural complex of the subcontinent and its interrelated spiritual traditions.
Dravidian pride or nationalism need not depend upon the Aryan invasion theory or denigrating the culture of North India. The Dravidians have long been one of the most important peoples of India and, perhaps ironically, have been the best preservers of Vedic culture itself. The best Vedic Sanskrit, rituals and traditions can be found only in the south of India. That South India was able to do this suggests the importance and antiquity of Vedic culture to this region." david frawley
the battle over history
Vedic literature and the Gulf of Cambay discovery
It is sad to note how intellectuals in India are quick to denigrate the extent and antiquity of their history, even when geological evidence like the Sarasvati River or archaeological evidence like the Harappan and Cambay sites are so clear.
The recent find of a submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay, perhaps as old as 7500 BC, serves to highlight the existence of southern sources for the civilisation of ancient India. The Gulf of Cambay find is only the latest in a series that includes Lothal (S.R. Rao), Dholavira (R.S. Bisht) and others in Gujarat. These discoveries have been pushing the seats of ancient Indian civilisation deeper into the southern peninsula. We should not be surprised if more such sites are discovered in South India, especially the coastal regions, for the south has always played a significant if neglected role in ancient India going back to Vedic times.
I have argued for such a coastal origin for Vedic civilisation in my recent book Rig Veda and the History of India. This is largely because of the oceanic character of Vedic symbolism in which all the main Rig Vedic Gods as well as many of the Vedic rishis have close connections with samudra or the sea. In fact, the image of the ocean pervades the whole of the Rig Veda. Unfortunately many scholars who put forth opinions on ancient India seldom bother to study the Vedas in the original Sanskrit and few know the language well enough to do so. The result is that their interpretation of Vedic literature is often erroneous, trusting out of date and inaccurate interpretations from the Nineteenth century like the idea that the Vedic people never new the sea!
The Rig Veda states that "All the hymns praise Indra who is as expansive as the sea" (RV I.11.1) Agni wears the ocean as his vesture (RV VIII 102.4-6). The Sun is called the ocean (RV V.47.3). Soma is called the first ocean (RV IX.86.29). Varuna specifically is a God of the sea (RV I.161.14). These are just a few examples of out of well over a hundred references to samudra in the Rig Veda alone, including references to oceans as two, four or many (RV VI.50.13). This is obviously the poetry of a people intimately associated with the sea and not of any nomads from land-locked Central Asia or Eurasia.
Vedic seer families like the Bhrigus are descendants of Varuna, the God of the sea as the first Bhrigu is called Bhrigu Varuni — Bhrigu, the son of Varuna. The teachings of Varuna to Bhrigu are found in the Taittiriya Upanishad and Taittiriya tradition of the Yajur Veda, which has long been most popular in South India. The recent find at sea in the Gulf of Cambay is near Baroach or Bhrigu-kachchha, the famous ancient city of the very same Bhrigus.
These oceanic connections extend to other important Vedic rishis as well. In the Rig Veda, Agastya, who became the main rishi of South India, has twenty-five hymns in the first book of the Rig Veda and is mentioned in the other books as well. He is the elder brother of Vasishta who himself has the largest number of hymns in the text (about a hundred), those of the seventh book. Both rishis are said to have been born in a pot or kumbha, which may be a vessel or ship (RV VII.33.10-13). Vasishta is specifically connected to Varuna who was said to travel on a ship in the sea (RV VII.88.4-5). Both Vasishta and Agastya are descendants of Mitra and Varuna, the God of the sea.
Vishvamitra in the Rig Veda (IIII.53.16) mentions the sage Pulasti, who was regarded as the progenitor of Ravana and Kubera and whose city, Pulasti-Pura was located in ancient Sri Lanka. He is mentioned along with Jamadagni, another common Rig Vedic sage and the father of Parshurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, before Rama and Krishna, whose main sphere of activity was in the south of India.
Manu himself, the Vedic primal sage and king, is a flood figure and the Angirasas, the other main seer family apart from the Bhrigus, join him in his ship according to Puranic mythology. Southern peoples like the Yadus and Turvashas were said to have been glorified by Indra (RV X.49.8) and are mentioned a number of times in the Rig Veda as great Vedic peoples. So we have ample ancient literary evidence for the Vedic seer and royal families as connected with the ocean and southern regions.
The Cambay site is in the ancient delta of the now dry Sarasvati River, one branch of which flowed into the Gulf of Cambay, showing that this site was part of the greater Sarasvati region and culture, which was the main location for Harappan cities in the 3300-1900 BCE period. Such an ocean front was important for maritime trade for the inland regions to the north. In this regard, important Vedic kings like Sudas were said to receive tribute from the sea (RV I.47.6).
When the Greeks under Alexander came to India in the Fourth century BCE, the Greek writer Megasthenes in his Indika, fragments of which are recorded in several Greek writings, mentioned that the Indians (Hindus) had a record of 153 kings going back over 6400 years (showing that the Hindus were conscious of the great antiquity of their culture even then). This would yield a date that now amounts to 6700 BCE, a date that might be reflected in the Gulf of Cambay site which has been tentatively dated to 7500 BCE. So the old Vedic-Puranic king lists may not be that far off after all!
A few scholars, like Witzel in the United States — in spite of such massive evidence as the Sarasvati River and its intimate connection to Vedic literature — still try to separate Vedic culture from India and attribute it to a largely illiterate and nomadic culture that migrated into India from the northwest of the country in the post-Harappan period (after 1500 BCE). Ignoring all other evidence that connects the Vedic and Harappan, they point out the importance of the horse in the Rig Veda and argue that not enough evidence of horses has been found in Harappan sites to prove a Vedic connection. They fall back upon this one shot argument to ignore any other evidence to the contrary.
However, one should note that these invasionists or migrationists are even more deficient in horse evidence to prove their own theory. There is no trail of horse bones or horse encampments into ancient India from Afghanistan during the 1500-1000 BCE period that is required for their theory of Aryan intrusion. In fact, there is no solid evidence for such a movement of peoples at all in the form of camps, skeletal remains or anything else.
Those who claim that Vedic culture must have originated outside India because of its lauding of the horse are even more lacking in horse evidence. The real problem is not `no horse at Harappa' but `no horse evidence, in fact no real evidence of any kind, to prove any Aryan migration/invasion'. It has been convincingly shown that what the Rig Veda with its seventeen-ribbed horse (RV I.162.18) describes is a native Indian breed and not any Central Asian or Eurasian horse that has eighteen ribs.
The Rig Veda mentions many Indian animals like the water buffalo (Mahisha), which is said to be the main animal sacred to Soma (RV IX.96.6), which does occur commonly on Harappan seals. The humped Brahma bull (Vrisha, Vrishabha), another common Harappan depiction, is the main animal of Indra, the foremost of the Vedic Gods. Elephants are also mentioned.
Most of the animals depicted on Harappan seals are mythical, not zoological specimens anyway. Most common is a one-horned animal that is reflected in the one-horned boar or Varaha of the Mahabharata and the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Many other Harappan depictions are of animals with multiple heads or half-animal/half-human figures. This is similar to the depictions in Vedic imagery which largely consist of mythical animals of this type. For example, Harappan seals portray a three-headed bull-like animal. Such an animal is described in the Rig Veda (III.56.6).
The horse issue is meant as a smokescreen to avoid facing the facts of the Sarasvati River and the many new archaeological sites in India. These show no such break in the continuity of civilisation in the region as an Aryan invasion/migration requires, including the existence of fire altars and fire worship from the early Harappan period. Vedic and Puranic literature itself records the shift of the centre of culture from the Sarasvati to the Ganga at the end of the Vedic period, referring to the drying up of the river. Scholars like Witzel would have the Vedic people coming into India after the Sarasvati was already gone and yet making the river their ancestral homeland and most sacred region!
Vedic literature is the largest preserved from the ancient world, dwarfing in size anything left by other cultures like Egypt, Greece or Babylonia. The Harappan-Sarasvati urban civilisation of India was by far the largest of its time (3100-1900 BCE) in the ancient world spreading from Punjab to Kachchh. We can no longer separate this great literature and this great civilisation, particularly given that both were based on the Sarasvati River, whose authenticity as a historical river before 1900 BCE has been confirmed by numerous geological studies. This great Vedic literature requires a great urban culture to explain it, just as the great Harappan urban culture requires a literature to explain it. Both come from the same region and cannot be separated.
Finally it is sad to note how intellectuals in India are quick to denigrate the extent and antiquity of their history, even when geological evidence like the Sarasvati River or archaeological evidence like the Harappan and Cambay sites are so clear. However one may interpret these, the truth that civilisation in India was quite ancient and profound cannot be ignored. I don't think there is any other nation on earth that would be so negative if such ancient glories were found in their lands.
Who is DAVID FRAWLEY?
Edited to add this:
Forget the question, I just
figured it out. I should have
checked the links I saved
before I asked.
Give them time. As more and more educated Indians are exposed to western social need for anchoring to old civilizations, they too would be looking for the same and definitely find it. There are tens of thousands of years of burried treasure in India...time would be on our side.
If the civilization do date back say 20,000 years and there was asteroid incidents, then that could introduce variables into the development of groups...
The fact that only in India we found white tigers just recently and not in vedic times, there may be other factors at play that we have not considered.
Spookz, you did a great job on your detail posts. Did you write the book?
I took the liberty of copying your post to http://groups.msn.com/IndiaWin/socialissues.msnw?action=get_message&mview=0&ID_Message=1158
A maritime Rigveda? — How not to read ancient texts
To impute modern/medieval meanings when reading the Rigveda is a dangerous undertaking — as it is with all archaic texts, from Homer to the Bible to Confucius. Even Shakespeare, who wrote a mere 400 years ago, is not always immediately accessible to readers of modern English.
In last week's Open Page, David Frawley or, as he likes to refer to himself, Pandit Vamadeva Shastri, who makes part of his living teaching "Vedic astrology" and providing private "astrological consultations, mainly along medical or spiritual lines" (http://www.vedanet.com/consultations.htm, http://www.vedicsoftware.com/training.htm), once more tried to establish the hoary antiquity and continuity of Indian civilisation from early post-glacial times onwards. He tried to forge a link between the supposed cities at Cambay at 7500 BCE, the Indus Civilisation (2600-1900 BCE) and the Vedic texts. It is unscientific and can easily be falsified on the basis of the available evidence (and with the help of Occam's razor).
Though virtually every other sentence in last week's write-up is demonstrably wrong, not all items can be discussed here in detail, and I will have to restrict myself to the main points.
Frawley complains that "many scholars who put forth opinions on ancient India seldom bother to study the Vedas in the original Sanskrit and few know the language well enough to do so." However, sure as he is of his own understanding of the Rigveda (RV), this is an amateurish, naive reading of the text, to say the least. His interpretations insert later meanings into this highly archaic and highly poetical text. Frawley's `innovative' thesis of a maritime nature of Vedic culture is diametrically opposed to the commonly held opinion of historians and philologists alike, of a landlocked Rigveda, composed in the Greater Panjab.
A key point is Frawley's understanding of the word samudra as `ocean'. This translation may be natural to a modern or medieval reader, but it does not take into account the linguistic, philological and mythological investigations of the term that have been carried out at great length for some 150 years. Frawley is unaware of, or unwilling to access this discussion, from C. Lassen (1847) to H. Lueders (1951-59) and to K. Klaus. Importantly, the last survey and summary by K. Klaus (1985, 1986, 1989) was written when this scholar still was unaware of and not biased by the then intensifying discussion in India about the Sarasvati river. In the Rigveda (and later on, in the Vedic texts at large), we have to distinguish at least three different types of samudra:
1. The "confluence of rivers" from sam `together' + udra, from the old r/n stem seen in English water, Old Norse watn, Greek hudoor, Sanskrit udan-, udr- (cf. udra `water animal, otter'). Such a confluence can be that of the Panjab rivers (as seen in most passages of the RV), a large lake such as the terminal lakes in the desert, and — at least theoretically — also the ocean.
2. Indeed, it is the mythical ocean at the end of the world that is meant a few times. This idea is not unusual as even landlocked people have the idea that the world is surrounded, as in the Puranas, by an ocean. This is also seen in the Iranian hendu (Avesta, Yasna 57.29 = Skt. sindhu!) situated at the two ends of the world (Witzel 1984), on the oldest Mesopotamian map, or in the Greek circular ookeanos of Homer. — The Muni (RV 10.136.5) dwells "on the eastern and western ocean." But the RV also has four oceans (RV 9.33.6, 10.47.2), and the Atharvaveda has a `northern, upper' one (11.2.25). What might it this be in India: G. Tilak's Polar Sea, the home of his Aryans? Rather, it is the `upper', heavenly ocean at night (see below). We also find, just as in Mesopotamia and elsewhere, a mythical (salty) ocean at the time of creation, RV 10.190 1 sqq.
3. The heavenly "ocean" is seen at RV 6.58.3 with `golden boats in the sea, in the Antariksha'; it is also called a heavenly `pond' (saras) in a Yajurveda Samhita Brahmodya. Many stories in the RV take place in the night time sky, notably that of Varuna's ship, or the voyage of Bhujyu (Oettinger 1988). All of this should have been well known since Lueders (1951-59) and Kuiper (summarised in 1983).
If we try to find a real, terrestrial ocean, that is the Arabian Sea or the Bay of Bengal, this may be possible only in a few passages, all discussed by Klaus (1986-9). Importantly, had the Rigvedic poets personally known the ocean and the long range maritime trade that Frawley desperately wants to discover, they should have mentioned, at least in passing, such typical features of the ocean as its salinity or its tides. We do not hear of it.
Further, the Rigvedic poetic diction concerning the samudra is exactly the same as that used for the rivers: swelling, spreading, growing (at snow melt in spring). Even in post-RV texts (Katha 17.17, Maitrayani 2.10.1, Vajasaneyi Samhita 17.4) it is a sweet water plant, Blyxa actandra (avakaa), that is connected with the samudra: "we cover you, Agni, with the avakaa (plant) of the samudra"!
In sum, in the personal experience of the Rigvedic poets we can find only the confluence of the Panjab rivers, the mythical or "night time" ocean, but apparently not the Arabian Sea or the very distant Bay of Bengal.
To impute modern/medieval meanings when reading the RV therefore is a dangerous undertaking — as it is with all archaic texts, from Homer to the Bible to Confucius. Even Shakespeare, who wrote a mere 400 years ago, is not always immediately accessible to readers of modern English.
Frawley's discussion represents a simplistic approach to myth and mythology. Very briefly, god Varuna is not just the lord of the ocean, as he is now, but in the RV he is, much more importantly, the chief (raajan) of the Adityas, the group gods reinforcing Law and Order (Rta, later on called Dharma). Therefore it does not matter at all that the RV sage Bhrigu supposedly is a descendent of the "sea god" Varuna, or that certain rishis like Vasistha have been born from a pot — which is a long way from a ship! Or, Manu's flood myth is widely spread, not just in Mesopotamia and the Bible, but in a large area from the African Sahel belt to Hawaii(!) and the Amazon. There is nothing typically Rigvedic about all of this.
Incidentally, he does not even get his history of Vedic S'aakhaas right: the Taittiriyas may have been South Indian at least since Gupta times, but their Samhita and Brahmana texts clearly point to their homeland in U.P. (Witzel 1987).
There also is obvious misinformation in his Open Page article, e.g. when "kings like Sudas were said to receive tribute from the sea (RV I.47.6)." The hymn does not contain any such thing; instead the Ashvin deities are asked to bring "us" riches from the samudra or heaven(!) Or, that "Harappan seals portray a three-headed bull-like animal. Such an animal is described in the Rig Veda (III.56.6)" Frawley probably meant verse 3, not 6. But, the whole hymn plays on the number `3' and there is nothing special to the bull in verse 3, with 3 heads, 3 udders(!!), and 3 (not 4!) stomachs.
Be that as it may, Frawley's elaborations in the last Open Page are, as is more and more commonly seen now, due to the increasing zeal to prove the hoary age and "continuity" of Indian civilisation ever since the Ice Age. In this kind of antiquity frenzy (see http://www.umass.edu/wsp/methodology/antiquity/index.html), even a little fudging is welcome, for example in the case of the Cambay finds. It has been pointed out by competent scholars and lay persons from the very beginning that a dredged piece of wood carbondated to c. 7500 BCE, amusingly one found in an area with strong currents, does not make for proof of a contemporary "city" whose outlines are supposed to be seen on some sonar pictures. Having secured this unique piece of "evidence," Frawley connects it straightaway with the "Harappan cities in 3300-1900 BCE" — conveniently forgetting that at 3300 BCE Harappa was just a village and that planned settlement with a grid network of streets began only by 2600 BCE.
Similarly shaky is another piece of early "evidence", that of Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the Maurya court (c. 300 BCE). He tells us that 153 Indian kings go back to c. 6700 BCE, thus, with Frawley, right back to a date "reflected in the Gulf of Cambay site." Ancient `kings' of what? Of Neolithic villages? Secondly, all such dynastic schemes are built, in India, on the principle of putting one dynastic list before another, even if these `royal' houses reigned as contemporaries (Witzel 1990). The application of the method could still be seen in process in the Rajatarangini of Kashmir, in M.A. Stein's time, a mere hundred years ago!
Just as his philological expertise, Frawley's historical acumen is seriously lacking. Yet, he has other arrows in his quiver, "material evidence", thus "hard core" natural science. That should convince us! Alas, his use of "material evidence" suffers from the same type of shortcomings, notably, a lack of scientific background reading and from misreporting. For example, I have never advocated "to separate Vedic culture from India" but I have described (also above!) the RV as an already genuine South Asian text of the Greater Panjab, even if its Indo-Iranian antecedents lie outside the subcontinent (but so does the Greek poetry of Homer, that is outside of Greece). I also do not subscribe to a "one shot argument" (note the Wild West terminology!) about missing Indus horses, "that not enough evidence of horses has been found in Harappan sites to prove a Vedic connection..." and I do not "ignore any other evidence to the contrary." There is, instead, a host of other evidence, from the lack in the Rigveda of Harappan style big cities, large buildings, great baths, ocean going ships, long distance trade, to a completely differing spiritual world (deities, myths, rituals).
As for the ever-elusive Harappan horse, Frawley believes that the "Rig Veda with its seventeen-ribbed horse (RV I.162.18) describes ... a native Indian breed and not any Central Asian or Eurasian horse that has eighteen ribs." Again, had he read the literature or even the Open Page this year, he would have seen that the number of ribs and lumbar vertebrae is not a genetic feature but a variable trait in horses, — as duly pointed out by me here between January and April. Incidentally, this is an interesting case. Over the past two years I have watched, with some amusement, how "Vedic Harappan" enthusiasts have convinced themselves on various email lists about this "native Indian horse with 17 ribs" — without any scientific study quoted; by now, it is part and parcel of "Sarasvati folklore" and Harappan "urban myth" — but it is not found in zoological handbooks.
It also is simply not true, as Frawley alleges, that there is "no trail of horse bones or horse encampments ... during the 1500-1000 BCE period," through Afghanistan/E. Iran, of the speakers of Indo-Aryan (Vedic). What about the finds of horses and horse implements exactly on the right track down from the steppes, at Pirak in E. Baluchistan (c. 1800 BCE) and in the Gandhara Grave Culture around 1400 BCE? Even though the area between E. Iran (Khorasan) and the Panjab plains is largely archaeologically unexplored for the mid-second millennium BCE, we already have the clearly intrusive Pirak and Gandhara cultures. (Steppe influence is also seen in the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex). In addition, the study of male genes (Y chromosome) is now beginning to detail the ancient movements of groups and tribes. Further, comparative linguistics is beginning to provide a layer of loan words, found both in Old Iranian and Vedic, that have been taken over from the Bactria Margiana Archaeological Complex (2400-1600 BCE), — that is before their respective movement into Iran and the Greater Panjab (Witzel 1995, 1999).
Therefore, instead of Frawley's supposed "smokescreen" of Indologists and historians denying to accept his supposed "no such break in the continuity" between the Indus and the Vedic cultures, his (pseudo-Vedic) Harappan "fire altars", the "shift of the centre of culture from the Sarasvati to the Ganga at the end of Vedic period," all these developments have their own explanations. This would need further discussion that cannot be given here in detail (but has been supplied already a year ago in EJVS 7-3, see http://users.primushost.com/india/ejvs/issues.html, a criticism that has not been dislodged by Frawley et al.). Frawley further alleges: "Witzel would have the Vedic people coming into India after the Sarasvati was already gone and yet making the river their ancestral homeland and most sacred region!" — This is, of course, not at all what I have written: the Rigvedic homeland of the Indo-Aryans was the Greater Panjab (Witzel 1995), and only post-Rigvedic economic, social and political processes in the emerging Kuru Realm were at the root of the shift of the Vedic "centre" to the Kuruksetra area, on the eastern outskirts of the Rigvedic Panjab (see Witzel 1997, further details in a book forthcoming in India). Frawley has not studied, or indeed read, about the complex forces at work during this foundational period of Indian civilisation that set the framework for most social and religious formations to come, — often until today (Witzel, EJVS 1-4, 1995, EJVS 5-1, 1999)
In the end, Frawley simply repeats his Mantra (mildly contradicting his own current fascination with a southern, oceanic Rigveda) that "We can no longer separate this great literature and this great civilisation, — particularly given that both were based on the Sarasvati River" ... "Vedic literature requires a great urban culture to explain it, just as the great Harappan urban culture requires a literature to explain it." This "vision" is plainly impossible: geographically there may be a degree of overlap, but it is one set apart by centuries of intervening cultural developments; and there is comparatively little overlap as far as the nature of the material and spiritual cultures of both civilisations are involved. (No one denies that certain Indus elements, particularly on the village and folk level, continue during the Vedic period).
However, in spite of some recent creative, but not philologically informed, writing to the contrary (such as seen in G.C. Pande, ed., The Dawn of Indian Civilisation, 1999), nothing in the Vedic texts indicates the Harappan urban culture reflected in archaeology. Just because the Indus Civilisation lacks large written texts (as seen in the Near Eastern, Chinese or the Maya cultures) this does not require this gap be filled by the next best texts, those of the Veda. Instead, the archaeological, literary and linguistic facts have to be accepted, even if they are not pleasant for one's fantasies of great post-glacial cities and the cradle of world civilisation in the Gangetic basin.
Thus, there is no need to lament with D. Frawley/Pt. Vamadeva Sastri: "It is sad to note how intellectuals in India are quick to denigrate the extent and antiquity of their history... I don't think there is any other nation on earth that would be so negative if such ancient glories were found in their lands." He again overlooks another important trait in Indian civilisation, present since the Rigvedic Brahmodya type discussions, that is a consistent spirit of inquiry and debate (vivaada). No one is convinced, as the constant back and forth on this very Open Page shows, by a monolateral and monolithic "vision" of an elusive Golden Age that is now increasingly imposed on schools and universities. (MICHAEL WITZEL Harvard University)
A maritime Rigveda?
MARINE ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINGS IN THE GULF OF CAMBAY, GUJARAT
Harappan-like ruins in Gulf of Cambay
The Lost World
a walk through lothal
Origins Of The Aryan Dravidian Divide by N S Rajaram
"Aryan-Dravidian divide is a modern political creation with no scientific or historical support."
Science on Aryan and Dravidians
Even fifty years after independence, it is unfortunate but true that Indians continue to view themselves and their history through colonial glasses. The education system for the most part continues to be based on the Macaulayite model. This is especially so in subjects like history, which include long discredited theories like the Aryan invasion and the Aryan-Dravidian conflicts. What is the truth? Here is what science has to say.
A recently published study comparing the genetic composition of Western Eurasian and Indian populations shows that the supposed Aryan invasion of India 3000 to 4000 years ago postulated by historians in the nineteenth century, and still found in many textbooks is contradicted by genetics. In articles that appeared in the British journal Current Biology, T.R. Disotell, T. Kivisild and their coworkers observe that the "supposed Aryan invasion of India 3000 - 4000 years ago was much less significant than is generally believed." A key mitochondrial DNA of the Western Eurasian strain accounts for at most 5.2 percent in Indian populations as compared to 70 percent in Europe. This rules out a recent common origin as postulated by the 'Aryan invasion'. Any split that occurred from a common population must have taken place more than 50,000 years ago, according to the study. This is in agreement with other genetic data, showing that there were major migrations out of Africa into Southeast Asia at approximately the same time. It is worth noting that according to a widely accepted theory, humans evolved in Africa and spread into other parts of the world beginning about 100,000 years ago. This was during the last Ice Age, when much of the Northern Hemisphere was uninhabitable due to extreme cold. The Puranas also record that during an extended cold period, people from all parts of the world sought shelter in India in caves and rock shelters. This goes to explain the presence of ancient cave- and rock art at places like Bhimbetka in Central India.
Here is something really interesting. The authors of the genetic study note that this West Eurasian strain is not only insignificant, but also present in roughly the same proportions in North and South India. This means that there is no correlation between the languages of the population and their supposed Eurasian origin. The 'Aryan invasion' theory holds that ancestors of speakers of 'Aryan' languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and others were Eurasian invaders, whereas speakers of 'Dravidian' languages of South India were the original inhabitants of India. The genetic study contradicts this by showing both to have the same insignificant proportion of the West Eurasian DNA strain. So, according to science, there is no Aryan-Dravidian divide.
The recent decipherment of the Indus script shows that these findings are in agreement with findings from archaeology. Jha and I have read more than 2000 Harappan seals and they show that the Vedic literature already existed by 3000 BC. The literary evidence of the Rigveda also contradicts any invasion from Eurasia. Some recent attempts to place the Rigvedic land in Afghanistan are seriously misguided. The Rigveda describes an established maritime society in which references to the ocean, ships and navigation are very common. It is not easy to see how such a society could flourish in land-locked Afghanistan. All in all both science and literature shatter the notion of any Aryan invasion. It is one of the aberrations of scholarship that belongs to what Millikan called 'pathological science'. Let us next look at its history and politics.
Aryans according themselves
The first point to note is that the idea of Aryans and Dravidians as separate, even mutually hostile people is of very recent origin. It is a creation of European scholars of the colonial era, having no basis in Indian history or literature. The Amarakosha, the authoritative lexicon of the Sanskrit language (5th century AD) defines Arya as mahakula kulinarya sabhya sajjana sadhavah. This means that an Arya is one who hails from a distinguished family, and conducts himself with decency and gentleness. According to the Rigveda the "children of Arya follow the light", meaning they seek enlightenment. It has nothing to do with race, language or nationality. (Sanskrit has no word for race.)
This fact - that the Aryan-Dravidian theory was of recent origin - was noted by Dr. Ambedkar also. As he wrote: "All the princes, whether they belonged to the so-called Aryan race or the so-called Dravidian race, were Aryas. Whether a tribe or a family was racially Aryan or Dravidian was a question that never troubled the people of India, until foreign scholars came in and began to draw the line."
This is supported also by the Manusmriti, another ancient authority. It tells us that Dravidians (in the geographic sense) are also Aryans who at one time had fallen from the Aryan fold when they stopped following certain Vedic practices and rituals. (Was this the reason that Sage Agastya went south of the Vindhyas, taking Vedic knowledge with him?) The Manusmriti has been revised many times to reflect changes in society and practices. In one particular place it describes Arya Desha as: "The land bounded by the mountain of Reva (Narmada), the Eastern Sea (Bay of Bengal) and the Western Sea (Arabian Sea) is Arya Desha. This is the land where black-skinned deer roam freely." That is to say, the Manusmriti identifies Arya Desha as none other than Peninsular India, which includes Dravidians. It also tells us that the inhabitants of this country are exemplary Aryans, worthy of emulation by all.
What this means is that the terms 'Arya' and 'Aryadesha' were assigned to people and their habitat depending on their conduct and culture - and not race or language. This also means that the assignment could change depending on whether the people had lapsed from their expected standards of behavior. So at the time when this passage in the Manusmriti was composed, the people of Peninsular India were considered exemplary Aryans. And this was because of their conduct - not language or race.
'Race science': Colonial-missionary politics
The notion of Aryan and Dravidian as separate races, though a colonial European imposition continues to influence intellectual discourse in India. This is unfortunate because it rests on scientifically discredited beliefs. Writing as far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great natural scientists of the century, observed: "In England and America the phrase 'Aryan race' has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature. In Germany, the idea of the 'Aryan' race received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions."
Huxley was referring of course to the rise of Nazism around the notion of the Aryan race. It should make one suspicious of the motives of the English, who, while denouncing racial theories in Europe, continued to classify their Indian subjects along racial lines. It was simply a politically convenient tool in their 'divide and rule' strategy. They appealed to the vanity of one group to make them feel superior to others (but still inferior to the English). They knew well that it had no scientific basis, but found it a convenient tool for use in India!
British were by no means the only colonists to indulge in such propaganda in the name of 'science'. This idea of dividing a conquered people in the name of 'race science' was a standard ploy of colonial officials and Christian missionaries. Much of the bloodletting in ethnic conflicts in Africa today is due to such mischief. Speaking of the recent Hutu-Tutsi conflicts, the French anthropologist Jean-Pierre Langellier wrote: "The idea that the Hutus and the Tutsis were physically different was first aired in the 1860s by the British explorer John Speke… The history of Rwanda [like that of much of Africa] has been distorted by Pere Blancs [White Fathers] missionaries, academics and colonial administrators. They made the Tutsis out to be a superior race, which had conquered the region and enslaved the Hutus. …Missionaries taught the Hutus that historical fallacy, which was the result of racist European concepts being applied to an African reality. At the end of the fifties, the Hutus used that discourse to react against the Tutsis."
Sound familiar? The Aryan-Dravidian conflicts are a carbon copy of the same racist divide, convert and conquer policy. Fortunately that there is enough indigenous scholarship in India to fight and refute such political charlatanism, though it did succeed in dividing the people into mutually hostile camps. This was mainly due to the patronage extended to them by the ruling authorities - first the British and then the Marxist dominated Congress. Better sense is now beginning to prevail. But to their eternal disgrace, the 'Secularist' and Marxist historians of India continue to peddle this racist nonsense. They shall live in infamy.
The basic problem with these race theories is that they are based not on any laws of nature, but man-made classifications that use externally observable features. As one scholar put it: "The race concept has no scientific basis. Given any two individuals one can regard them as belonging to the same race by taking their common genetic characteristics, or, on the contrary, as belonging to different races by emphasizing the genetic characteristic in which they differ." As an illustration, instead of choosing skin- and eye color as defining parameters, if one were to choose height and weight, one would end up with African Zulus and Scandinavians as belonging to the same race. Noting such anomalies, Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, widely regarded as the world's foremost human geneticist, observed that such external features simply indicate changes due to adaptation to the environment. He points out that the rest of the genetic makeup of the human family hardly differs at all.
There are similar misconceptions about Aryan and Dravidan languages. The idea that different languages of a 'family' branched off from a single root language - sometimes called a proto-language - can be traced to the story of the Tower of Babel found in the Bible. Biblical beliefs like the creation of the world on October 23, 4004 BC have had great influence on the interpretation of Indian history and culture by nineteenth century Europeans. The great Max Muller himself admitted this Biblical belief was the reason why he used 1500 BC as the date of the Aryan invasion. W.W. Hunter, another well-known Indologist from the same period was even more candid when he wrote: "... scholarship is warmed with the holy flame of Christian zeal."
To take an example, Murray Emeneau, a prominent Dravidianist, wrote as recently as 1954: "At some time in the second millennium BC, probably comparatively early in the millennium, a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. This is our linguistic doctrine, which has been held now for more than a century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion." This is a statement based on faith that has no place in science.
Culturally the differences that we find between North and South Indian temples can be attributed to the historical experience of the last few centuries. The Islamic onslaught destroyed centers of learning in North India. Alberuni who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni on his campaigns in India wrote: "Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there, wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions. ... Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion of all the Muslims. This is thereason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places, which our hand cannot yet reach."
A historical fact worth noting that the last great school of Indian mathematics flourished in far away Kerala in the 14-15th century, where Madhava and his students worked on problems of Calculus and Infinite Series more than two centuries before Newton and Gregory. India before the coming of Islam had many great centers of learning. Taxila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Sarnath and many more used to attract students from all over the world. Following the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, for the next six hundred years, not a center of learning worth the name was established. (I leave out Islamic theological centers.) It was only in the nineteenth century that universities began to reappear.
As a result, the influence of Islam has been much greater in the North than the South. This resulted in a loss of tradition and skills, which had to be more or less re-acquired beginning in the 18th century. The main influence in the north has been of the Moghul Empire, while in the south it has been that of the Vijayanagar Empire and its successors like the kingdoms of Mysore, Travancore and Tanjavur. It would be a serious error to project this back into early history - something like projecting back the Portuguese influence on Goa into the remote past.
At the same time, the differences should not be exaggerated. For instance, in Kashmir, priests are recruited from Karnataka, while temples in Nepal have priests from Kerala. The very fact that Shakaracharya established centers in all corners of India shows that he was not considered an outsider by North Indians even in those days.
All this brings us back to politics as the main contributor to the Aryan-Dravidian divide including linguistics. The originator of the Dravidian language theory was Bishop Caldwell, the author of the highly influential Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages (1856, 1875). He placed Dravidian languages in what he called the Scythian Language Family. When another linguist (Gover) criticized Caldwell for his unsound theories about the Scythian family and Dravidian languages, it drew the following response: "It would have been well, if Mr. Gover had made himself sure of perfectly apprehending Dr. Caldwell's Scythic theory before regarding its refutation ... as not only of considerable moment from a philological point of view but of vast moral and political importance."
By 'moral and political' he obviously meant Christian missionary and British colonial interests. To the disgrace of Indian education authorities and secularist scholars, this is still the version of history taught in Indian schools.
The Politics of History by N.S. Rajaram (1995), New Delhi: Voice of India. 'The Vedic Dravidians' in A Hindu View of the World by N.S. Rajaram (1998), New Delhi: Voice of India.
spookz: Very interesting stuff imo, thanks for
If you wouldn't mind, could you tell me a little
more about Gover and Bishop Caldwell? I am
not familiar with either of them so any info
would be greatly appreciated. Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
Neo-Colonial Captive Minds
The age of colonialism may be over, but not that of neo-colonial Captive minds in India as elsewhere in the former colonial territories. Nations struggled for and won political liberation from imperialist thralldom. But their tertiary institutions of higher learning hardly ever (with rare indigenous exceptions) displayed any compelling urge to free themselves from the restrictive, eurocentric disciplinary paradigms inherited from western universities, or to delve into their own unique native spiritual, cultural and intellectual resources that, even if not altogether annulled, were rendered more or less otiose. And it was precisely from the corridors of domestic academia that the dangerous and divisive infection of captive minds spreads to all fields of the public life of a once subject nation.
India is a prime example of a once great civilization with an Incredibly rich spiritual, literary, artistic, cultural and intellectual heritage, not to speak of production, manufacturing and medical expertise; a heritage that Indian academic and political leaders honor more in the breach than in the observance. Nationalist rhetoric and ritual genuflection, with an eye on the voting predilections of a volatile electorate, are the best the politicians seem capable of. Most worrisome of all is that the infection has affected the perceptions and self-appraisal of large sections of the Indian national collectivity itself, despite the intuitive pronouncements of great spiritual leaders of the Indian renaissance like Dayananda Saraswati, Vivekananda
and Sri Aurobindo.
In the highly praiseworthy cause of countering and arresting Trends inimical to India's right development as a member of a global Community of nations, I am confident that your work is of crucial importance, not only for Indian and international practitioners of Indian insights (as in Auroville), but also for the Indian social/political/national collectivity itself. I am sure you will agree that our aim should be, not to denounce everything western, as there is much of great value in western achievements, particularly in the vital fields of modern science and technology, which are today inseparably part and parcel of the global heritage of mankind. On the contrary, your goal is to counter the threat to genuine globalization posed by the tendency in certain western academic quarters to denigrate eastern traditions, and to shamelessly appropriate, using different terminology and without due acknowledgement, the work of Indian pioneers in the important field, for instance, of the psychology of consciousness, and to present such clearly dishonest efforts as original western discoveries. That is intellectually dishonest, which deserves to be exposed and dissolved in the blinding glare of broad daylight. A genuinely global community of nations can and should only proceed on the basis of honest scholarship. Unmasking self-serving dishonesty in some areas of western or eastern scholarship is a service towards expediting the irreversible evolutionary process towards a genuinely united humanity.
To give just one illuminating illustration, we might mention the Nearly universal and quite uncritical acceptance by both Indian politicians and the generality of national and international academics, of the 19th Century myth of the "Aryan invasion of Dravidian India" and of the arbitrary classification of the population into Aryan and Dravidian ethnic types. The damage inflicted on the political perceptions of the population poses a threat to the very integrity of India as a unique political and cultural entity. Witness the two most dominant political parties of Tamil Nadu, the DMK and the ANNA DMK (the 'D' standing for 'Dravida'). They swallowed hook, line and sinker the shallow, ill-researched "findings" of 19th Century European Indologists. Even India's present national anthem perpetuates the Aryan/Dravidian divide by referring to 'Dravida'. It was a wrong-headed decision to discard the original national anthem "Vande Mataram" ('Salutation to the Mother' ®¢ for the land of Bharatmata was originally conceived, not as a merely secular/geographical abstraction, but as Mother India Herself). It was the mantric potency of "Vande Mataram" that ignited the fiery beginnings (1905-1910) of the Indian aspiration for complete independence from British rule after Lord Curzon's partition of Bengal. And the man who picked it out from Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's classic Bengali novel 'Anandamath' was no less a leader than Sri Aurobindo himself. To the surprise and consternation of the British Viceroy and his officials, thousand-throated cries of "Vande Mataram" rent the skies of India during the inspiring beginnings in those dramatic years of the national independence struggle.
And what of the real intentions of these 19th Century western Gentlemen still so greatly revered by several leading Indian academics? In a marvelous book "THE INVASION THAT NEVER WAS" by Michael Danino/Sujata Nahar, published by THE MOTHER'S INSTITUTE OF RESEARCH in Delhi (1996), the best known icon of 19th Century Indology Max Muller was effectively demolished in his own words; hoisted on his own petard, as it were. I quote directly from Michael Danino: "Even the celebrated Max Muller (whose research work, interestingly, was commissioned and generously paid for by the East India Company after he had been engaged by Macaulay), wrote to his wife ((ref. Friedrich Max Muller, Life and Letters, Vol.1; London: Longmans, 1902, p328): 'This edition of mine and the translation of the Veda, will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion and to show them what The root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has Sprung from it during the last three thousand years." So? The seemingly "impartial" scholar was in truth a Macaulayite tool for the accomplishment of grandiose imperial aims.
This plan misfired largely due to the great Indian savants (not academics, mind you!). The first to dispute the Aryan myth was Dayananda Saraswati. He rejected out of hand the whole 19th Century European view of the Veda. Here Michael Danino quotes Sri Aurobindo: "Dayananda seized justly on the Veda as India's Rock of Ages. In the matter of Vedic interpretation I am convinced that whatever may be the final complete interpretation, Dayananda will be honored as the first discoverer of the right clues." (ref: Sri Aurobindo, Centenary Edition 1972, Vol. 17, p. 334). Danino continues: "By the same token, Dayananda forcefully opposed the Christian missionaries' vilification of India's ancient culture, and engaged in public debates with some of them (with maulanas too), especially in Punjab where a wave of conversions had taken place."
Danino proceeds to quote: "Dayananda's performance in public debates not only stopped further conversions, but also gave birth to a new movement, 'shuddhi' (purification) of those who had been enticed away from Hindu society ...... It sent a wave of consternation through the missionary circles and restored Hindu confidence. In days to come, the missionaries became more and more reluctant to meet Dayananda in open forums."
Writes Danino: "With Vivekananda's deep knowledge not only of Hindu scriptures but of Western history and religions, he was quick to see the gaps in the Aryan edifice." In a lecture in USA, Vivekananda remarked scornfully: "And what your European Pandits say about the Aryans swooping down from some foreign land snatching away the land of aborigines and settling in India by exterminating them is all pure nonsense, foolish talk. Strange that our Indian scholars too say 'Amen' to them.... And all these monstrous lies are being taught to our boys." (Vivekananda Complete Works, Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1963; Vol. V, p. 534-535).
Danino goes on to write that in another lecture, this time in India, Vivekananda was in a more humorous mood, but mercilessly to the point: "Our [European] archaeologist dreams of India being full of dark-eyed aborigines, and the bright Aryans came from, the Lord knows where. According to some, they came from Central Tibet, others will have it that they came from Central Asia. There are patriotic Englishmen who think that the Aryans were all red-haired ....... If the writer happens to be a black-haired man, the Aryans were all black-haired. Of late, there was an attempt to prove that the Aryans lived on the Swiss lakes.... Some say now that they lived at the North Pole. Lord bless the Aryans and their habitations! As for the truth of these theories, there is not one word in our scriptures, not one, to prove that the Aryan came from anywhere outside India, and in ancient India was included Afghanistan. There it ends. And the theory that the Shudra caste were all non-Aryans ..... is equally illogical and equally irrational..... The whole of India is Aryan, nothing else...... And the more you go on fighting and quarrelling about all trivialities such as 'Dravidian' and 'Aryan,' and the question of Brahmins and non-Brahmins and all that, the further you are from that accumulation of energy and power which is going to make the future India." (Vivekananda Lectures from Colombo to Almora; Calcutta: Advaita Ashram, 1992; p. 222, 230).
Coming to Sri Aurobindo's immense contribution, Danino writes: "A systematic refutation of the Aryan invasion theory had to wait until Sri Aurobindo. In 1910, after he had worked for a decade to awaken the spirit of independence in India, and spent a year in prison, he learned that the British had finally decided to deport him under new draconian laws (they regarded him as 'the most dangerous man we have to deal with at present"); leaving Bengal he sought refuge in Pondicherry, then a French possession. There, soon afterwards, he took up his study of the Veda....While readingthe Sanskrit text, he also came to question the European scholars' view of the Veda which, 'like the majority of educated Indians,' he had so far 'passively accepted without examination.' (ref. Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, Centenary Edition, vol. 10, p. 33-34). He soon realized that 'If the modern interpretation stands, the Vedas are no doubt of high interest to the philologist, the anthropologist and the historian; but poetically and spiritually they are null and worthless. Its reputation for spiritual knowledge and deep religious wealth is the most imposing and baseless hoax that has ever been worked upon the imagination of a whole people throughout many millenniums. Is this, then, the last word about the Veda? Or is it not rather the culmination of a long increasing and ever progressing error?'" (Sri Aurobindo Archives and Research, Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, April 1985, p 27).
Danino: "With his usual keenness of vision, Sri Aurobindo wrote: 'In India we have fallen during the last few centuries into a fixed habit of unquestioning deference to authority....... We are ready to accept all European theories, the theory of an 'Aryan' colonization of a
Dravidian India, the theory of Nature-worship and henotheism of the Vedic Rishis...... as if these hazardous speculations were on a par in authority and certainty with the law of gravitation and the theory of evolution.' (ref: Ibid., p 41). 'So great is the force of attractive generalizations and widely popularized errors that all the world goes on perpetuating the blunder talking of the Indo-Aryan races, claiming or disclaiming Aryan kinship and building on that basis of falsehood the most far-reaching political, social or pseudo-scientific conclusions.'" (Sri Aurobindo, the Origins of Aryan Speech, in The Secret of the Veda, op.cit., p. 193).
"How prophetic', writes Danino, "if we consider that this was written some twenty year before the growth of Nazism with its claims to 'Aryan kinship'! In his Secret of the Veda, which started appearing from 1914, Sri Aurobindo called on his fellow countrymen not to be 'haunted by the unfortunate misconstruction of the Veda which European scholarship has imposed on the modern mind.'" (The Secret of the Veda, op. cit., p 193).
Danino continues: "Taking a straight look at the original text, with no preconception, no a priori theory, Sri Aurobindo observed, 'it did not take long to see that the Vedic indications of a racial division between Aryans and Dasyus and the identification of the latter with the indigenous Indians were of a far flimsier character than I had supposed.'" (ref: Ibid., p 36). 'This division was "a conjecture supported only by other conjectures ...... a myth of the philologists". (ref: Ibid., p 40). "Sri Aurobindo added. 'The indications in the Veda on which this theory of a recent Aryan invasion is built, are very scanty in quantity and uncertain in their significance. There is no actual mention of such an invasion'" (ref: Ibid., p. 24). "Above
all, he wanted the Indians to develop their own independent judgment: 'A time must come when the Indian mind will shake off the darkness that has fallen upon it, cease to think or hold opinions at second and third rank and reassert its right to judge and enquire in a perfect freedom into the meaning of its own Scriptures. When that day comes, we shall ..... question many established philological myths; the legend, for instance, of an Aryan invasion of India from the north, the artificial and inimical distinction of Aryan and Dravidian which an erroneous philology has driven like a wedgeinto the unity of the homogeneous Indo-Afghan race ....(India's Rebirth, Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives, 1993 , p 91-92) '".
Continues Danino: "Some eighty years later, we know that the 'wedge', driven now not only by scholars but also by politicians, has only gone absurdly deeper. Yet Sri Aurobindo's study of Tamil, which he did with the help of Subramania Bharati (the national poet of Tamil Nadu), led him to discover that the 'original connection between the Sanskrit and Tamil tongues' was 'far closer and more extensive than is usually supposed' and that they were 'two divergent families derived from one lost primitive tongue'". (Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, op. cit., p 36). "The division between Indo-European and Dravidian languages had collapsed: 'My first study of Tamil words had brought me to what seemed a clue to the very origins and structure of the ancient Sanskrit tongue.'" (ref: Ibid., p 46).
"Sri Aurobindo's study, however, led him to far more momentous results, for he recovered the long lost symbolism of the Veda, and brought to light the Rishis' extraordinary experience." These results,however, are of far greater value to living practitioners of Indian Yoga, than to academics, and recourse must be had to the major portion of Sri Aurobindo's "Secret of the Veda" for that purpose.
I make no apologies for continuing with quotes from Danina, for The good reason that they cannot be improved upon. He next writes: "The Question we should now ask is: Are our latter day historians, who still swear by Marx or Max Muller, or both, and often have a poor knowledge of Sanskrit and India's traditions, better equipped than a Swami Vivekananda or a Sri Aurobindo, with their depth of understanding and erudition, to tell us what the meaning of the Veda is and the conclusions we are to draw from it?...Yet it is not as if there were no scholars in India to agree with these great seers. We will cite here only two of these striking examples of genuine but ignored Indian scholarship.
"Some ten years after the serialization of the Sri Aurobindo's 'Secret of the Veda', R. Swaminatha Aiyar, a Tamil administrator, linguist and mathematician, carried out extensive research on the so-called Dravidian languages, but not 'without previously disposing of a large number of misconceptions and untenable theories about Dravidian languages and Dravidian culture, which have come into existence since the publication of Bishop Caldwell's 'Dravidian Grammar'. (Ref: R. Swaminatha Aiyar, Dravidian Theories (New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, 1987). "After a thorough scrutiny of the grammar and roots of these languages, his conclusions confirmed Sri Aurobindo's own findings on the deep connection between Tamil and Sanskrit. Swaminatha Aiyar found most Dravidian verb forms of 'Indo-Aryan origin,' and that 'the basic portion of Dravidian vocabularies consists of words of Indo-Aryan origin though ..... these words have been greatly corrupted and are very difficult of recognition.' As N.S. Rajaram, also a mathematician and linguist from South India, remarks in a recent study, 'Dravidian languages are strongly inflected like Sanskrit, and cases and declensions
are also quite similar.... In some ways these so-called Dravidian languages have preserved ancient forms and usages from Sanskrit better than North Indian languages like Hindi.'" (N.S. Rajaram, The Politics of History, op. cit., p 175).
To continue with Danino. "B.R. Ambedkar is our second example. Known in India chiefly for his campaign in support of the lower castes (he himself was a Harijan) and his work on the Indian Constitution, it is often overlooked that in order to find out the truth of the European
Theories about Aryans and non-Aryans, high and low caste, he did precisely what Sri Aurobindo exhorted Indians to do: he went to the source, and studied the Veda for himself, with an open mind. His conclusions are unequivocal, though regrettably they are largely ignored by those who profess to follow his lead and who more often than not make a strident use of the very theories he sought to demolish: 'The theory of invasion is an invention. This invention is necessary because of a gratuitous assumption that the Indo-Germanic people are the purest of the modern representatives of the original Aryan race. The theory is based on nothing but pleasing assumptions, and inferences based on such assumptions. The theory is a perversion of scientific investigation. It is not allowed to evolve out of facts. On the contrary, the theory is preconceived and facts are selected to prove it. It falls to the ground at every point.' (ref: B. R. Ambedkar, quoted by D.B. Thengadi in The Perspective [Sahitya Sindhu Prakashan]).
My conclusions are:
1.The Vedas do not know any such race as the Aryan race.
2.There is no evidence in the Vedas of any invasion of India by the Aryan race and it having conquered the Dasas and Dasyus supposed to be the natives of India.
3.There is no evidence to show that the distinction between Aryans, Dasas and Dasyus was a racial distinction.
4.The Vedas do not support the contention that the Aryans were different in colour from the Dasas and Dasyus.....If anthropometry is a science which can be depended upon to determine the race of a people..... (then its) measurements establish that the Brahmins and the Untouchables belong to the same race. From this it follows that if the Brahmins are Aryans the Untouchables are also Aryans. If the Brahmins are Dravidians, the Untouchables are also Dravidians.....' (B. R. Ambedkar, 'Writings and Speeches' [Bombay: Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, 1986-1990], Vol. 7, p. 85 and 302-303, quoted in Koenraad Elst's Indigneous Indians, Agastya to Ambedkar, op. cit., p.410-411).
Danino completes this particular chapter of his book, thus: "Despite these remarkable protests, none listened; we Indians have long had the inexplicable habit of accepting change only if comes to us from the West. Yet in recent years, some voices have begun to be heard, both in the West and in India, asserting that the time has come to chuck out this worm-eaten theory once and for all. The cumulative evidence from all scientific branches of knowledge, especially archaeology, has become simply too overwhelming to be ignored, except for historians with dubious motives."
Voila! as the French would say. I have done my bit of 'nishkama karma' (desireless action) for your more than worthwhile cause in respect of at least the demolition of the fictitious Aryan/Dravidian divide Indian politicians and a good number of India's leading academics continue to subscribe to. There is no such thing as an "immortal bubble". This bubble too will one day burst for good and be seen no more.
You have other challenges to meet head on, by way of dissemination Of your objectives to opinion in India itself, but also among the Indian diaspora in the West, particularly in the USA. In the psychological field, as in the study of yet another speculative discipline like Indology, Ken Wilber and his undoubted intellect may be safely left to the attention of formidable Indian and non-Indian practitioners of Indian spiritual practices (these, incidentally, are not speculative, but experiential disciplines in which seekers consciously ascend and descend what Sri Aurobindo called the "ladder of consciousness"). Don Salmon, for instance, is himself a master in the same field as Wilber. But he also possesses an additional SOMETHING ELSE of one who devotedly treads the path of the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. Be assured that Mr. Wilber will by no means arrive at the stature of an Avatar. No barefaced plagiarist of ideas and conceptions ever did.
Warm regards and best wishes,
C. V. Devan Nair
Separate names with a comma.