Monday, June 7, 2010
|WHO ARE HINDUS?|
Historians, mostly Europeans, formulated and propagated the fiction that light-skinned nomadic tribes from Central Asia, known as Aryans, invaded India in 1500-1000 BC, and their descendents are known as Hindus!
This fallacy now stands exposed
The Indians, who at a later stage of their history, came to be known as Hindus were the indigenous people of the country. Earlier, either out of bias or non-availability of full facts, historians, mostly Europeans, formulated and propagated the view that, between 1500 BC and 1000 BC, there was an invasion of India by hosts of light-skinned nomadic tribes named the Aryans from Central Asia/Europe and the present-day Hindus are the descendents of these tribes. The credit for creation of the Vedic civilisation was, by implication, given to them. They were named as Indo-Aryans.
But the discovery of the Harappan civilisation, consequent to the archaeological excavations carried out at Mohenjodaro and Harappa in the twenties of the last century, exposed several weaknesses of the above view. It was found that, much before the ‘Aryan invasion’ there existed a mature urban civilisation in India. The Indian-ness of this civilisation was noted by no less an authority than John Marshall. Indisputably, this civilisation attained its mature form by about 2600 BC. In its non-mature, or what is called the early Harappan form, it must have come into being much earlier. Its emergence could be fixed in 3100 BC on the assumption that it would take about 500 years for the Harappan civilisation to move from early stage to mature stage.
In the light of above facts, to determine the origin of Hindus, four crucial and inter-connected questions would have to be considered in depth.
These questions are:
(i) Was there an ‘Aryan invasion’ of India in the period 1500 BC to 1000 BC?
(ii) What was the nature of the Harappan civilisation and how did it appear and, after existing for several centuries, how did it suddenly disappear?
(iii) Was there any river by the name of Saraswati, and were cataclysmic changes in the system of this river and system of Indus river responsible for the speedy decline and death of the Harappan civilisation? and
(iv) Is the ancestry of Hindus traceable to the Harappan or even earlier period, and were some of the early Vedic hymns composed in this period?
Each of the above four questions would be dealt with in separate parts that follow:
The Aryan Invasion
Though the propagators of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory have been adhering to it for a long time, it has really very weak legs to stand on. Swami Vivekanand has rightly underscored: “There is not one word in our scripture, not one, to prove that the Aryans ever came from anywhere outside India.” In the same strain, Dr B.R. Ambedkar has asserted: “The theory of Aryan invasion is an invention. It is based upon nothing but pleasing assumptions. It 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.”
The observations, made by Mount-Stuart Elphinstone, in 1841 in his book,History of India, are no less significant. “Neither in the code of Manu nor the Vedas, nor in any book is there any allusion to a prior residence or to a knowledge of more than the name of any country out of India… to say that it spread from a central point is a gratuitous assumption.”
Nor can the theory of Aryan invasion provide answers to a number of pertinent questions, such as these:
(a) Is it believable that the ‘Aryans’ who otherwise showed strong attachment to lands, mountains, rivers and forests would not carry with them the memories of any landmark of their previous homeland and nurse no nostalgia about their past? Do they not speak of themselves exactly as sons of the soil would speak?
(b) How is it that the invaders brought with them no item of previous use — pottery, utensils, tools, weapons of war and chase, objects of worship, art etc, — and also left no trace of mass killings of the natives or a large-scale destruction of fortifications or habitation which should have resulted from invasions?
(c) Is it conceivable that the people belonging to the Harappan civilisation, who had created an advanced urban society, with a developed writing system, would be without any literature, while the invaders, admittedly unlettered, would leave behind profound literary material in abundance in the form of Vedas and Upanishads etc?
(d) Is it not clear that the Rig-Vedic expressions like sabha, samiti, samrat, rajan, rajaka, which indicate the existence of organised assemblies and rulers of different ranks, are relevant not to the nomadic invaders, but to the advanced urban society of the Vedic Aryans who were indigenous in habitants of Harappan settlements?
(e) Do not the botanical studies of flora and fauna, mentioned in the Rig Veda, show that such a flora and fauna could exist only in the tropical climate of northwest India and not in the cold climate of Central Asia?
(f) Have not the bones of the horse of the domesticated variety been found in the recent excavation at Kalibangan, Ropar, Malvan, etc, and has not the domestic nature of Surkotada horse been confirmed by Sandon Bokonyl, an internationally renowned authority on the paleontology of the horse.
(g) Was not the evolution of chariot more likely in the flat lands of North India rather than in the uneven terrain of Central Asia, particularly when we have now found several examples of terracotta wheels with spokes, painted or in bas relief at sites like Rakhigarhi and Banwali?
In the absence of any credible answers to the above questions, the hollowness of the invasion theory stands thoroughly exposed.
Equally untenable is the theory of migration with which some scholars have tried to replace the invasion theory, having found it difficult to stick to their earlier stand. In fact, the proponents of this theory, driven by bias, have been abandoning old arguments and advancing new ones, whenever fresh evidence cropped up consequent to ongoing excavations and research. Source: Daily Pioneer
RELATED STORIES :
Thursday, May 6, 2010
U. Mahesh Prabhu
The Great Uprising of 1857 unnerved the British, though for a while. Within two or three years of quelling it, and with great ferocity, they set to work putting together a version of the incident that would suit their ends. “The uprising was confined to just a few pockets”, they said, adding, “it erupted as a result of local misunderstandings”, and that “there was no national sentiment behind it for the leaders themselves fought only for their feudal privileges-one because her son was not being recognized, another because his pension was being stopped, and so on.” This version was believed to be the true narration of the incident for so long that it even finds mention in Nehru”s “Discovery of India”!
The British did not stop at rewriting history books. They initiated a series of real politick measures. As Brahmins had provided the ideological leaven for the uprising, the campaign of calumny against them was redoubled.
They started their propaganda against the Brahmins and an era of anti-Brahmanism began which lives on till date.
Though the British just gave a boost to such sentiments, they were not the beginners of the legacy. In the book “Diwan-i-Salman“, Khwaja Masud bin Sa”d bin Salman wrote of the Battle of Jalandhar (Punjab) thus: “The narrative of any battle eclipses the stories of Rustam and Isfandiyar. By morning meal, not one soldier, not one Brahmin remained alive or free. Their heads were levelled to the ground with flaming fire. Thou have secured the victory to the country and to religion, for amongst the Hindus this achievement will be remembered till the day of resurrection.”
In Mughal times, Sheikh Ahmad (Mujaddid) of Sirhind wrote a letter to Mirza Darab excerpts of which read thus: “Hindu Brahmans and Greek philosophers have spent a lot of time on religion. Since their efforts were not according to the Shariat of the prophet, they were all fools. They will remain devoid of salvation.”
According to the Tawarikh Firishta, Firoz Shah Bahmani (circa 1398-99), kidnapped 2,000 Brahman women, who were later freed by Raja Devaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire.
A country is never fully defeated as long as its martial and intellectual leaders exist. A self-conscious imperialism undertakes to reduce them as its first important task.
Muslims coming to India found brave, armed, men and a Brahman class providing cultural and spiritual leadership. Dr. Ambedkar, quoting Muslim historians, says the first act of religious zeal by Mohammad bin Qasim, the first Arab invader, was circumcision of Brahmans. “But, after they objected, he put to death all above the age of seventeen.”
Rev. C. Buchanan said Indians should be baptized because “it attaches the governed to the governors.” They thought that Brahmans came in the way of their dream of a baptized India. They started blackening and discrediting them. A brochure called “The Book of Wisdom” with 279 verses was widely circulated by missionaries under William Carey, touted as the father of the Indian press. It was one of the first he printed and is addressed to the “mean, despicable Brahmans”. The brochure promises hell for heathens and salvation through Christ.
The British administration found Brahmans to be the only “national” caste, held in much respect and capable of providing political leadership. They fomented anti-Brahman movements in different parts of the country which are still very powerful in today”s secular India.
Their fears were well-founded. Brahmins were the intellectual leaders of the Independence struggle. Thus anti-Brahmanism was a construct of the last two centuries. And though learnt under the colonial-missionary aegis, it became an important category of future social thinking and political action.
Brahmans began to be described as “cunning, parasitic, exploiters and authors of the iniquitous caste system”.
A lot of scholarship and intellectual labour was put into this thesis before it acquired its present momentum and currency. Anti-Brahmanism originated in, and still prospers in anti-Hindu circles.
It is particularly welcome among Marxists, missionaries, Muslims, separatists, and casteists, of different hues. When they attack Brahmans, their target is unmistakably Hinduism.
Even in the freedom struggle, the contribution of Brahmans under the leadership of the Mahatma was enormous. A great percentage of his followers were Brahmans and hence, the country owes quiet a lot to them, and they certainly deserved special privileges.
But when freedom was attained, their services were quickly forgotten. In the name of empowering the lower caste, their right to a fair chance in education, service, and so many other things, was snatched away.
There is no credible testimony to the fact that Brahmins ever opposed upliftment of the lower caste, yet the government, for the sake of “strengthening the weak”, in every sense, weakened the strong.
Today, the situation is such that Brahmans have been practically deprived and made to suffer in the same way as the Dalits were “made to suffer”.
There are 50 “sulabh shauchalayas” (public toilets) in Delhi; all of them are cleaned and looked after by Brahmans (this much-needed public institution was started by a Brahman).
A far cry from the elitist image that Brahmans have! There are five to six Brahmans manning each toilet. They came to Delhi eight to ten years ago looking for a source of income, as they were a minority in most of their villages, where Dalits constitute the majority (60 to 65 per cent). In most villages in UP and Bihar, Dalits have a union which helps them secure jobs.
Did you know that you also stumble upon a number of Brahmans working as coolies at Delhi”s railway stations? One of them, Kripa Shankar Sharma, says that though his daughter is doing her graduation in science, he is not sure if she will secure a job. “Dalits often have five to six children, but they are confident of getting them placed easily and well,” he says.
As a result, the Dalit population in villages is increasing. He adds, “Dalits are provided with housing, even their pigs have spaces; whereas there is no provision for “gaushalas” (cowsheds) for the cows of the Brahmans”.
This reverse discrimination is also found in bureaucracy and politics. Most of the intellectual Brahman Tamil class has emigrated outside Tamil Nadu. Only 5 seats from the 600 in the combined UP and Bihar assemblies are held by Brahmans-the rest are in the hands of the Yadavs.
At least 400,000 Brahmans of the Kashmir valley, the once respected Kashmiri Pandits, now live as refugees in their own country, sometimes in refugee camps in Jammu and Delhi in appalling conditions. But who gives a damn about them? This is all simply because their vote bank is negligible.
At Tamil Nadu”s Ranganathaswamy Temple, a priest”s monthly salary is Rs 300 (as per the Census Department findings) and a daily allowance of one measure of rice. The government staff at the same temple receive Rs 2,500 and above every month. But these facts have not modified the priests” reputation as “haves” and as “exploiters”. The destitution of Hindu priests has moved none, not even the parties sympathetic to Hindus.
The Indian government gives Rs 1,000 crores (Rs 10 billion) in salaries for “imams” in mosques and Rs 200 crores (Rs 2 billion) as Haj subsidies. But no such help is available to the Brahmans and the upper castes.
As a result, not only the Brahmans, but also some of the other upper castes are suffering in silence today, seeing the minorities slowly taking control of their majority.
Even after so many years of persecution by invaders and their own countrymen, Brahmans still continue to suffer in silence and yet, contribute in a very positive way to this land. Not a day has ever been recorded in history when Brahmans, anywhere in this land, have resorted to arms.
There are incredible success stories attributed to them. Had there been no Brahmans, the IT sector of India, in which the media and government take pride, would not have even existed. There are so many industrialists, academicians, journalists, engineers, and doctors, who continue to contribute to this land by trying to forget their deprivation.
In light of this, I wish to ask my Muslim brethren as to what they are complaining about. Can they complain of more atrocities than the Brahmans? Everyone has had their share of bad luck. I am a Brahman, but I hold no prejudice against Muslims or Christians for they are my countrymen today. I always say “we have issues to resolve” and not “scores to settle”.
Yet, whenever I try to expose the negations and false concoctions of Muslim and Christian intellectuals I am easily branded a “fanatic”, “fundamentalist” and what not.
The point I wish to wish to make here is simple. If Brahmans, after facing so much opposition from everyone including those of their own faith, can keep up their courage, write stories of passion, and contribute proactively, without brooding over their plight, then it is certainly possible for the Muslims to do so provided they come to terms with modern world dynamics and shun violence in all forms and types.
F. Gautier on Brahmins/Dalits @ http://www.rediff.com/news/2006/may/23franc.htm
Colonial anti-Brahminism @ http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archives/1997/11/1997-11-10.shtml
Anti-Brahminism/Semitism @ http://globeonline.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/anti-semitismbrahminism/
Read : Comments & Articles Below:
Oh, But You Do Get It Wrong! By Aditi Banerjee
WHOSE HISTORY IS IT ANYWAY? By Dr. Aseem Shukla
Wendy Doniger's Vandalism @ http://sookta-sumana.blogspot.com/2010/02/wendy-donigers-cross-cultural-vandalism.html
Friday, October 30, 2009
By Dr NS Rajaram
In this academic and political conundrum it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Aryan myth is a modern European creation. It has little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but it seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community.
Ever since he moved to Harvard from Germany, Witzel has seen the fortunes of his department and his field, gradually sink into irrelevance. Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in the field of Indo-European Studies. As previously noted, several ‘Indology’ departments-as they are sometimes called-are shutting down across Europe.
Max Müller’s career illustrates how Indology and Sanskrit studies in the West have always been associated with politics at all levels. He was by no means the only ‘diplomatist’ scholar gracing colonial Indology, only the most successful. It is remarkable that though his contributions are all but forgotten, his political legacy endures. His successors in Europe and America have been reduced to play politics at a much lower level, but in India, his theories have had unexpected fallout in the rise of Dravidian politics. It is entirely proper that while his scholarly works (save for translations) have been consigned to the dustbin of history, his legacy endures in politics. This may prove to be true of Indology as a whole as an academic discipline.
Post colonial scene: passing of the Aryan gods
The post colonial era may conveniently be dated to 1950. In 1947 India became free and the great Aryan ‘Thousand Year Reich’ lay in ashes. In Europe at least the word Aryan came to acquire an infamy comparable to the word Jehadi today. Europeans, Germans in particular, were anxious to dissociate themselves from it. But there remained a residue of pre-war Indology (and associated race theories) that in various guises succeeded in establishing itself in academic centers mainly in the United States. Its most visible spokesman in recent times has been one Michael Witzel, a German expatriate like Max Müller, teaching in the Sanskrit Department at Harvard University in the United States. In an extraordinary replay of Max Müller’s political flip-flops Witzel too is better known for his political and propaganda activities than any scholarly contributions. Witzel’s recent campaigns, from attempts to introduce Aryan theories in California schools to his ill-fated tour of India where his scholarly deficiencies were exposed in public highlight the dependence of Indology on politics.
While the field of Indo-European Studies has been struggling to survive on the fringes of academia, lately it has become the subject critical analysis by scholars in Europe and America. Unlike Indians who treat the field and its practitioners with a degree of respect, European scholars have not hesitated to call a spade a spade, treating it as a case of pathological scholarship with racist links to Nazi ideology. This may be attributed to the fact that Europeans have seen and experienced its horrors while Indians have only read about it.
In a remarkable article, "Aryan Mythology As Science And Ideology" (Journal of the American Academy of Religion 1999; 67: 327-354) the Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson raises the question: "Today it is disputed whether or not the downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with ‘Aryan’ religions." We may rephrase the question: "Did the end of the Nazi regime put an end to race based theories in academia?"
An examination of several humanities departments in the West suggests otherwise: following the end of Nazism, academic racism may have undergone a mutation but did not entirely disappear. Ideas central to the Aryan myth resurfaced in various guises under labels like Indology and Indo-European Studies. This is clear from recent political, social and academic episodes in places as far apart as Harvard University and the California State Board of Education. But there was an interregnum of sorts before Aryan theories again raised their heads in West.
Two decades after the end of the Nazi regime, racism underwent another mutation as a result of the American Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Americans were made to feel guilty about their racist past and the indefensible treatment of African Americans. U.S. academia also changed accordingly and any discourse based on racial stereotyping became taboo. Soon this taboo came to be extended to Native Americans, Eskimos and other ethnic groups.
In this climate of seeming liberal enlightenment, one race theory continued to flourish as if nothing had changed. Theories based on the Aryan myth that formed the core of Nazi ideology continued in various guises, as previously noted, in Indology and Indo-European Studies. Though given a linguistic and sometimes a cultural veneer, these racially sourced ideas continue to enjoy academic respectability in such prestigious centers as Harvard and Chicago.
Being a European transplant, its historical trajectory was different from the one followed by American racism. Further, unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which had mass support, academic racism remained largely confined to academia. This allowed it to escape public scrutiny for several decades until it clashed with the growing Hindu presence in the United States. Indians, Hindus in particular saw Western Indology and Indo-European Studies as a perversion of their history and religion and a thinly disguised attempt to prejudice the American public, especially the youth, against India and Hinduism to serve their academic interests.
The fact that Americans of Indian origin are among the most educated group ensured that their objections could not be brushed away by ‘haughty dismissals’ as the late historian of science Abraham Seidenberg put it. Nonetheless, scholars tried to use academic prestige as a bludgeon in forestalling debate, by denouncing their adversaries as ignorant chauvinists and bigots unworthy of debate. But increasingly, hard evidence from archaeology, natural history and genetics made it impossible to ignore the objections of their opponents, many of whom (like this writer) were scientists. But in November 2005, there came a dramatic denouement, in, of all places, California schools. Academics suddenly found it necessary to leave their ivory towers and fight it out in the open, in full media glare- and under court scrutiny.
It is unnecessary to go into the details of the now discredited campaign by Michael Witzel and his associates trying to stop the removal of references to the Aryans and their invasion from California school books. What is remarkable is that a senior tenured professor at Harvard of German origin should concern himself with how Hinduism is taught to children in California. Witzel is a linguist, but he presumed to tell California schools how Hinduism should be taught to children. It turned out that Hinduism was only a cover, and his concern was saving the Aryan myth from being erased from books.
Ever since he moved to Harvard from Germany, Witzel has seen the fortunes of his department and his field, gradually sink into irrelevance. Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in the field of Indo-European Studies. As previously noted, several ‘Indology’ departments-as they are sometimes called-are shutting down across Europe. One of the oldest and most prestigious, at Cambridge University in England, has just closed down. This was followed by the closure of the equally prestigious Berlin Institute of Indology founded way back in 1821. Positions like the one Witzel holds (Wales Professor of Sanskrit) were created during the colonial era to serve as interpreters of India. They have lost their relevance and are disappearing from academia. This was the real story, not teaching Hinduism to California children.
Witzel’s California misadventure appears to have been an attempt to somehow save his pet Aryan theories from oblivion by making it part of Indian history and civilization in the school curriculum. Otherwise, it is hard to see why a senior, tenured professor at Harvard should go to all this trouble, lobbying California school officials to have its Grade VI curriculum changed to reflect his views.
To follow this it is necessary to go beyond personalities and understand the importance of the Aryan myth to Indo-European Studies. The Aryan myth is a European creation. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. The campaign against Hinduism was a red herring to divert attention from the real agenda, which was and remains saving the Aryan myth. Collapse of the Aryan myth means the collapse of Indo-European studies. This is what Witzel and his colleagues are trying to avert. For them it is an existential struggle.
Americans and even Indians for the most part are unaware of the enormous influence of the Aryan myth on European history and imagination. Central to Indo-European Studies is the belief-it is no more than a belief-that Indian civilization was created by an invading race of ‘Aryans’ from an original homeland somewhere in Eurasia or Europe. This is the Aryan invasion theory dear to Witzel and his European colleagues, and essential for their survival. According to this theory there was no civilization in India before the Aryan invaders brought it- a view increasingly in conflict with hard evidence from archaeology and natural history.
In this academic and political conundrum it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Aryan myth is a modern European creation. It has little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but it seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community. It later became an honorific and a form of address, something like ‘Gentleman’ in English or ‘Monsieur’ in French. Also, it was nowhere as important in India as it came to be in Europe. In the whole the Rig Veda, in all of its ten books, the word Arya appears only about forty times. In contrast, Hitler’s Mein Kampf uses the term Arya and Aryan many times more. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air- in Europe, not India.
Suggested Readings Below:
19th Century Paradigms @ http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/19th-century-paradigms.html
Invading Sacred @ http://worldmonitor.wordpress.com/2007/08/13/invading-the-sacred/
Monday, July 13, 2009
An Aryan invader from America - I
Professor Dr.Michael Witzel, a racist scholar wedded to the cause of Evangelization of India and the world (if that is feasible) and total distortion of Indian History, divorced from all known principles of classical historiography is now in Chennai city delivering lectures on the languages and cultures revealed by the Rigveda.
Yesterday he delivered his lecture at Madras Sanskrit College in Mylapore. I understand that he is delivering two lectures at the University of Madras and Roja Muthiah Library tomorrow. It is understood that he will be going to New Delhi in the next few days to deliver some more talks.
In my article in these columns in News Today on 20 February 2009, I had commented on the dubious academic credentials of Professor Witzel: ‘There is an organized gang of evangelical anti-Hindu academic gangsters in United States led by one Professor Witzel. Any one can see that he is a man with a closed mind on all things relating to Hindu Religion, Hindu Civilization, and Hindu Culture. He seems to be very upset (not intellectually but religiously and culturally in the evangelical sense or nonsense!) over the great initiative taken by Dr Nalini Rao and Dr Christopher Key Chapple to organize an international conference on Vedic Sarasvati Hindu Civilization at Los Angeles in June 2009. He has said ‘Whenever the Harappan or Indus civilization is relabeled ‘SINDHU-SARASVATI CIVILIZATION’, everyone involved in the field, if not the public, recognizes that he or she has stumbled into extremists HINDUTVA (Hindu nationalist and/or fundamentalist) Territory…. This being said, why—besides all-too-familiar Hindutva apologists including Subhash Kak, Nicholas Kusanas, BB Lal etc.—are a handful of major Western archaeologists including most notably Mark Kenoyer, Maurizio Tosi and Carl Lamberg-Karlovsky, taking path in the Conference? Certainly not because any of them would personally endorse the absurd ‘SINDHU-SARASVATI CIVILIZATION’ label in print—since they wouldn’t. Instead, to put it frankly, it is due to (1) money and (2) in some cases earlier access to Harappan Archaeological sites on the Indian side of the Indian-Pakistan divide. It takes enormous funds to run these conferences, doled out freely for honoraria and expenses (the invitees are flown in at huge expense by the rich NRIs (non-resident Indians) who fund them from Europe, India and the United States’ Evangelical academics like Professor Witzel are known internationally for their simple and Spartan living and tortuously complicated anti-Hindu thinking!”
Michael Witzel was born in 1943 at Schwiebus, Germany, now Poland. He studied Indology under Professors Paul Thieme, H. P. Schmidt, K. Hoffmann and J. Narten in Germany from 1965 to 1971. Later in 1972-73, he also studied under Mîmâmsaka Jununath Pundit in Nepal. From 1972 to 1978, he led the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project and the Nepal Research Centre at Kathamandu. Subsequently, he has taught at Tübingen (1972), Leiden (1978-1986), and at Harvard since 1986. He is Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University (USA).
Many well known Sanskrit scholars and responsible citizens in USA have told me that Witzel is a viciously brazen and brazenly vicious anti-Hindu evangelical racketeer. All this came to open public light in a Court of Law when an important Hindu Civil Rights case was fought in UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA. This case related to the textbook and educational material prepared by California State Board of Education (CBE) to teach Hindu civilization to 8th grade students. The legal complaint of Hindu Groups in California was that the school textbooks indoctrinate children with Abrahamic religions and teach biblical events as actual facts while treating Hinduism in a derogatory manner. It was also pointed out that the CBE failed to provide equal opportunities and equal representation to every religion and culture. CAPEEM (California Parents for the Equalisation of Education Materials) was formed to represent parents in California in a lawsuit against the State Board of Education.
It was clearly presented in the California court with irrefutable documentary evidence that this evangelical Professor Dr Witzel who was engaged as a consultant by CBE had worked with the Church in Colorado and even edited their Wikipedia entry to suppress the evangelical nature of the church. Asian Invasion Theory is Biblical and that is why Witzel and his anti-Hindu hate group cohorts support it. The intervention of Witzel and co. in California textbook content was part of a plan to induct Biblical beliefs into the curriculum. Witzel was a central figure in the motivated evangelical effort!
Harvard Donkey Trial pits Science against Creationism with Hindus on the side of Science and the Harvard professor Witzel, who has been some sort of a volunteer for a fanatical evangelical group in Colorado, on the side of Creationism. Witzel famously claimed that horses in India were donkeys in order to push the Biblical Japhetic Race Theory into textbooks.
CAPEEM (California Parents for the Equalisation of Education Materials) which is fighting the text book case, which I call Harvard Donkey Trial, served a number of subpoenas to various parties including textbook publishers, Hotmail, Dalit Freedom Network, Michael Witzel, Stanley Wolpert, Charles Munger, and Dalit Solidarity Forum operating out of St. Alban’s Church in New Jersey. The CAPEEM also sought documents from the officials of California Department of Education (CDE) and CBE. In the emerging discovery process, Witzel turned over some more documents including an email uncovering the fact that the CDE had conducted a secret meeting that was previously unheard of. This meeting with anti-Hindu groups was in addition to the secret meeting that CDE had conducted with Witzel and others.
CAPEEM also uncovered a link between Michael Witzel and Dalit Freedom Network (DFN), a group that operates out of a Church in Colorado. I have myself carefully scrutinized many of the e-mails sent by Witzel which are available on the internet. He coordinated his campaign with DFN and planned in advance the details of what would be spoken at meetings. Witzel also sent an email alerting DFN to the description of their organization on Wikipedia and stated that whenever he erased the description, it kept coming back. An office bearer of DFN followed up on this email by saying that she did not want to ‘start being identified as a missions organization’ and wanted to know if they could edit it themselves. (Source: http://capeem.org). All this goes to show that Professor Dr.Michael Witzel is an unabashed evangelist who endeavours to be singularly unscrupulous just in order to be magnificently successful in his underground evangelical mission!!
I asked Dr Kalyanaraman as to what he has to say about Professor Witzel’s views on Hindu Culture: ‘Michael Witzel is a controversial person for his association with Christian evangelical churches and his contribution to a journal started by Roger Pearson who is the founder of a Nazi group named Northern League. He is also a believer of the discredited Aryan Invasion Theory which has its origins in the Biblical belief that everyone on earth today is a descendant of one of the three sons of Noah and hence came from Central Asia. The most recent controversy he was embroiled in was at Harvard when he taught the Devanagari alphabet as one of his courses for doctoral candidates. Leading critics have even gone so far as to question his intellectual abilities if he believed that something fit for elementary schools should be part of the instructional material for doctoral candidates.’
Witzel has also attacked those who opposed Biblical indoctrination in California’s history textbooks. For example, the textbooks teach that the ‘Lord made the wheels fall off the chariots’ and this was the reason the Egyptians could not capture the Jews. When several parents opposed such indoctrination, Witzel attacked them and defended the textbooks. He also criticized those who opposed the textbooks for using ‘hard science,’ a stance that did not go well with scientists. A lawsuit followed in which Witzel’s connection to a church was uncovered. After many racist remarks by Witzel surfaced, including one stereotyping all the people of Uttar Pradesh as ‘proud and empty,’ the State of California decided not to fight out the lawsuit and instead paid the group of parents a massive sum of one lakh and seventy five thousand dollars.
I put this question to Dr.Kalyanaraman: What do you think of Dr.Witzel’s controversial and contentious scholarship? He replied:
‘What type of scholarship is this, even if it is said to be from Harvard? Lokahitam is the touchstone which determines true scholarship. Just as Satyam is truth that is pleasing, scholarship is transparent action which is loka-hitaaya ‘for the well-being of the society’. How should such action be performed or such responsibility be discharged? Scholarship should be governed by dharma, that is ethical conduct, a social ethic which respects the responsibilities being discharged by everyone in society. In Witzel, we have evidence of the very antithesis of such scholarship, motivated as he is by a Christian evangelical mission (as exposed during the Harvard Donkey Trial, also called the CAPEEM California textbook case), working for the Colorado church engaged in ‘Dalit Freedom Network’ to denigrate Hindusthan. Engaged in a motivated act of faith in the Japhetic Race theory of the Bible to be pushed into the textbooks, Witzel ends up arguing that horses in ancient Hindusthan were donkeys. India can do without such scholarship or emulation of such pseudo-scholarship by those researchers engaged in civilization studies, because such scholarship is a scourge on the academe, particularly when it is evangelical peddling promoted by self-proclaimed ‘well-known scientists’.
In my view Dr.Witzel today is a true representative of the Colonial, Imperialist, Racist and Evangelical anti-Hindu scholars like James Mill, Lord Macaulay, Max Mueller and many other English administrators of British India in the 19th century. He shamelessly clings to the Imperialist Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), even after it has been overthrown, with assistance from sordid Missionary Agencies like the Colorado Church. The stern, grim and scorching story relating to this lurid drama will have to be told in the larger public interest of the gullible Hindus of India. firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, February 23, 2009
Let not the 19th century paradigms continue to haunt us!
Inaugural Address delivered at the 19th International Conference on South Asian Archaeology,held at University of Bologna, Ravenna, Italy on July 2-6, 2007.
Distinguished fellow delegates and other members of the audience, I am most grateful to the organizers of this conference, in particular to the President, Professor Maurizio Tosi, not only for inviting me to participate in this Conference but also for giving me the additional honour of delivering the Inaugural Address. Indeed, I have no words to thank them adequately for their kindness. Perhaps this is the first occasion when a South Asian is being given this privileged treatment by the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists.
The conference hall is full of scholars from all parts of the world – from the United States of America on the west to the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan, on the east. All these scholars have contributed in a number of ways to our understanding of the past of South Asia, and I salute them with all the humility that I can muster.
However, I hope I will not be misunderstood when I say that some amongst us have not yet been able to shake off the 19th-century biases that have blurred our vision of South Asia’s past.
As is well known, it was the renowned German scholar Max Muller who, in the 19th century, attempted for the first time to date the Vedas. Accepting that the Sutra literature was datable to the 6th century BCE, he gave a block-period of 200 years to the preceding three parts of the Vedic literature, namely the Aranyakas, Brahmanas and Vedas. Thus, he arrived at 1200 BCE as the date of the Vedas.
However, when his contemporaries, like Goldstucker, Whitney and Wilson, objected to his ad-hocism, he toned down, and finally surrendered by saying (Max Muller 1890, reprint 1979): “Whether the Vedic hymns were composed [in] 1000 or 1500 or 2000 or 3000 BC, no power on earth will ever determine.”
But the great pity is that, in spite of such a candid confession by the savant himself, many of his followers continue to swear by his initial dating, viz. 1200 BCE.The ultimate effect of this blind tenacity was that when in the 1920s the great civilization, now known variously as the Harappan, Indus or Indus-Sarasvati Civilization, was discovered in South Asia, and was dated to the 3rd millennium BCE, it was argued that since the Vedas were no earlier than 1200 BCE, the Harappan Civilization could not have been Vedic. Further, since the only other major linguistic group in the region was the Dravidian, it was held that the Harappans were a Dravidian-speaking people.
Then came the master stroke. In 1946, my revered guru Mortimer Wheeler (later knighted) discovered a fortification wall at Harappa and on learning that the Aryan god Indra had been referred to as puramdara (destroyer of forts) he readily pronounced his judgment (Wheeler 1947: 82): “On circumstantial evidence Indra [representing the Aryans] stands accused [of destroying the Harappan Civilization].” In further support of his thesis, he cited certain human skeletons at Mohenjo-daro, saying that these were the people massacred by the Aryan invaders. Thus was reached the peak of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory.And lo and behold! The very first one to fall in the trap of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory was none else but the guru’s disciple himself.
With all the enthusiasm inherited from the guru, I started looking for the remains of some culture that may be post-Harappan but anterior to the early historical times. In my exploration of the sites associated with the Mahabharata story I came across the Painted Grey Ware Culture which fitted the bill. It antedated the Northern Black Polished Ware whose beginning went back to the 6th-7th century BCE, and overlay, with a break in between, the Ochre Colour Ware of the early 2nd millennium BCE. In my report on the excavations at Hastinapura and in a few subsequent papers I expressed the view that the Painted Grey Ware Culture represented the early Aryans in India.
But the honeymoon was soon to be over. Excavations in the middle Ganga valley threw up in the pre-NBP strata a ceramic industry with the same shapes (viz. bowls and dishes) and painted designs as in the case of the PGW, the only difference being that in the former case the ware had a black or black-and-red surface-colour, which, however, was just the result of a particular method of firing. And even the associated cultural equipment was alike in the two cases.
All this similarity opened my eyes and I could no longer sustain the theory of the PGW having been a representative of the early Aryans in India. (The association of this Ware with the Mahabharata story was nevertheless sustainable since that event comes at a later stage in the sequence.) I had no qualms in abandoning my then-favourite theory.
But linguists are far ahead of archaeologists in pushing the poor Aryans through the Khyber / Bolan passes into India. In doing so, they would not mind even distorting the original Sanskrit texts.
A case in point is that of the well known Professor of Sanskrit at the Harvard University, Professor Witzel. He did not hesitate to mistranslate a part of the Baudhayana Srautasutra (Witzel 1995: 320-21). In 2003 I published a paper in the East and West (Vol. 53, Nos. 1-4), exposing his manipulation.
Witzel’s translation of the relevant Sanskrit text was as follows:"Aya went eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-Pancalas and Kasi Videha. This is the Ayava(migration).(His other people)stayed at home in the west. His people are the Gandhari, Parasu and Aratta. This is the Amavasava (group).
Whereas the correct translation is:
Ayu migrated eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-Pancalas and the Kasi-Videhas. This is the Ayava (migration). Amavasu migrated westwards. His (people) are the Ghandhari, Parsu and Aratta. This is the Amavasu (migration).
According to the correct translation, there was no movement of the Aryan people from anywhere in the north-west. On the other hand, the evidence indicates that it was from an intermediary point that some of the Aryan tribes went eastwards and other westwards. This would be clear from the map that follows(Fig. 1).
Professor Witzel and I happened to participate in a seminar organized by UMASS, Dartmouth in June 2006. When I referred, during the course of my presentation, to this wrong translation by the learned Professor, he, instead of providing evidence in support of his own stand, shot at me by saying that I did not know the difference between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit. Should that be the level of an academic debate? (Anyway, he had to be told that I had the privilege of obtaining in 1943 my Master’s Degree in Sanskrit (with the Vedas included), with a First Class First, from a first class university of India, namely Allahabad.)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
By Ratnadeep Banerji
Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science; Stefan Arvidsson; The University of Chicago Press; Pp.354; Price not mentioned.
This book is a historiographic tour-de-force traipsing Indo-European grounds harping on a posteriority analysis of a contentious issue.
For the last two centuries religious historians, archaeologists and philologists have dealt upon the menagerie of Indo-Europeans. One faction of scholars has been upbeat about the uniqueness of the Indo-Europeans while the other faction has mingled them along with the mainstream human race.
The author, Stefan Arvidsson in his book ropes in Jacob Bryant and William Jones with their concepts of ‘Japhelites’ and ‘Hamites’ as precursors of myths and god figures of Greeks, Romans and Indians. Jones forged a linguistic similarity amidst the Indian and the European languages – ‘the cultural-heroic heathens came to be known as Indo-Europeans and Indo-Germans’. Stefan arraigns Frederick Max Müller of cleaving languages and religions into Semitic, Aryan and Turanian categories.
Max Müller and Father Schimdt hold that an ‘original monotheism had survived beneath the surface of the Indo-European mythologies’. Various scholars recreated a rift between the Aryans and Semitic lineage. Shem’s family line was attributed to monotheism, intolerance, irrational rituals coupled with a lack of feeling for art and culture.
The Indo-Europeans were hailed as spiritual, imaginative and philosophical. This dichotomy set anti-Semitic vigour during the second half of the nineteenth century.
The nineteenth century imperialism and its squalor skewed upon the scholars’ depiction of how the Indo-European colonizers in ancient times conquered a dark, primitive original population’.
The Indo-Europeans were portrayed as humanity’s cultural heroes who remained invincible throughout the annals of history ruling over lower people and spreading knowledge and thus should be ‘predestined to remain rulers even in the future’. This exalted solipsism created ‘the Aryan colony’ of India. This was an outcome of the scholars’ racist overture to cite evidences in the Vedic texts about the racial fetish Aryan immigrants and their ingrained apartheid system.
Max Müller was overzealous to ‘Indo-Europeanise’ the Indian society. He espoused to amalgamate Europeans and Indians to reform the Hindu culture and revamp its ‘medieval’ and ‘Turanian’ worship of idols with the old Aryan, Vedic religion.
Thus ‘Müller’s modernistic Protestantism also coloured his notions about Indo-European mythology’ that he held ‘irrational and immoral’. Most scholars have condoned the idea of ‘all people have a common origin….and as such, subject to the same material and cultural circumstances as all other peoples’.
And so the face-off between universalism and pluralism has been about sense-perception and predilection –‘whom one wants to include in “us” and where one chooses to draw the line between relevant and irrelevant ancestors’.
There have been deliberate insinuations to whittle apart the Indo-Europeans, Semites and Jews. The culturalistic and naturalistic attack perpetrated by Aryans upon the Jewish and Semitic religion is highly contentious. Though, one strand of Aryanism throughout the last two centuries ‘had liberal and universalistic overtones, and interpreted the Semitic tradition as the incarnation and antiquated pluralistic chauvinism’.
The flipside of cleaving humanity into ‘families’ and charting their characteristics backfires because then the families are construed upon as ’opposite and complementary parts of the whole human race’. The psychologist Andrew Samuels has exemplified the notoriety of this tradition in Carl Gustav Jung’s theories that tear asunder Jewish and Germanic. And the author is emphatic – ‘In any case, Indo-European scholarship has often been afflicted by the ethos of complementariness’.
If the Aryans are imaginative, then why should Semites lack imagination? Why should the Pelasgians be docile and submissive if the Aryans turn out a marshal race? Can farming by Aryans turn Turanians into nomads? The readers are to pit their jurisprudence against these oddities that intrigued history and misled minds.
Subtle ratiocination can envisage a figment of ‘Platonic idea of cosmos as a totality, of humanity and the world as being shaped by certain definite, almost geometrical ideals’.
Stefan invigorates the veracity of Indo-European genealogy of the Noachian triad. All the hoopla research conducted hitherto upon Indo-European religion and mythology has preconceived notion of a scion that bore the blueprint of ‘Indo-European’.
And thus the imprint it has bore throughout is flawed. History is not an absolute piece of fact. Scholars colour it with their own sense perception and thus vent it out as a relative projection that requires a review in different climes and locations by eggheads spread over a passage of time. Facts have been repudiated and concocted for stashed vendetta to flourish solipsism. History needs to be rewritten in its true colours.
This volume strives to steer clear of all obtrusions and parochialities that have so far occluded the clear stream of history. (The University of Chicago Press; )
Myth of Aryan Invasion @ http://www.gosai.com/chaitanya/saranagati/html/vedic-upanisads/aryan-invasion.html
19 th Century Paradigms @ http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/19th-century-paradigms.htmlDavid Frawley on Aryan Invasion @ http://www.hindubooks.org/david_frawley/myth_aryan_invasion/index.htm
Motivated Indology @ http://indiaview.wordpress.com/2007/12/26/communal-clash-13-arrested/
Invading the Sacred @ http://worldmonitor.wordpress.com/2007/08/13/invading-the-sacred/