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/