Thoughts in the atmosphere

Things of the world, and out of it.

Erudite but misled – Part II

Posted by desicontrarian on July 12, 2009

Prominect Indologist Koenraad Elst. Here,  here and here.

  1. There are, broadly speaking, three political movements which have taken an interest in the Aryan invasion debate. The first consists of European colonialists and racists, very active before 1945, as in the Nazi schoolbooks where the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) was used as the perfect illustration of white dynamism and military superiority (whites entered the dark-skinned people’s country, not the reverse), white racism (Aryan invaders devised and imposed the caste system to prevent miscegenation), the perennial threat of racial mixing (the upper castes are visibly non-white, proving that their ancestors succumbed to the seduction of dark-skinned beauties), and the destructive results of such racial mixing (Indians have not contributed to scientific progress for centuries, unlike their whiter ancestors, and they were no match for a small number of white British invaders). Likewise, in 1935 Winston Churchill declared that the British had as much right to be in India as anyone else there, except perhaps “the Depressed Classes, who are the native stock”, meaning that most Indians were the progeny of invaders equally foreign in origin as the British.The second group is the anti-Hindu front in India, including Christian missionaries, so-called Ambedkarites, Dravidian separatists, Marxists and, just now joining the AIT bandwagon, militant Muslims. All of these proclaim to be concerned with — or just to be — the natives of India, dispossessed by the Aryan invaders who brought Hinduism from outside. While the political animus of this group entirely stems from Indian conditions, viz. the anti-Hindu struggle, their intellectual source of inspiration, mainly through Christianity and Marxism, is largely Western.The third group is lined up against the first two, in that it opposes the AIT: the Hindu nationalists. Seeing the disruptive and separatist uses to which the AIT has been and is being put, they feel they need to support the refutation of the AIT.
  2. Shrikant Talageri’s survey of the relative chronology of all Ŗgvedic kings and poets, recently made public in several lectures, has been based exclusively on the internal textual evidence (see Talageri: The Ŗgveda, a Historical Analysis, Delhi, forthcoming), and yields a completely consistent chronology. Its main finding is that the geographical gradient of Vedic Aryan culture in its Ŗgvedic stage is from east to west, with the eastern river Ganga appearing a few times in the older passages (written by the oldest poets mentioning the oldest kings), and the western river Indus appearing in later parts of the book (written by descendents of the oldest poets mentioning descendents of the oldest kings).
  3. the Vedic corpus provides no reference to an immigration of the so-called Vedic Aryans from Central Asia.
  4. B.B. Lal (1998:111) mentions finds of true horse in Surkotada, Rupnagar, Kalibangan, Lothal, Mohenjo-Daro, and terracotta images of the horse from Mohenjo-Daro and Nausharo. Many bones of the related onager or half-ass have also been found, and one should not discount the possibility that in some contexts, the term ashva could refer to either species.
  5. One of the earliest estimates of the date of the Vedas was at once among the most scientific. In 1790, the Scottish mathematician John Playfair demonstrated that the starting-date of the astronomical observations recorded in the tables still in use among Hindu astrologers (of which three copies had reached Europe between 1687 and 1787) had to be 4300 BC.3 His proposal was dismissed as absurd by some, but it was not refuted by any scientist.

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