some remarks

N. Ganesan GANESANS at CL.UH.EDU
Wed Mar 18 12:20:23 EST 1998


Dominique Thillaud wrote:

>the extension of
>Eurindian languages all over the world shows perfectly they had no
>problems in destroying civilizations. It's true that some of them,
> by a later evolution, attained a wonderful state of spiritual
> development, but just
>few of them (I know only Greece and India in this way).

Like Spanish in Mesoamerica, Indo-Iranians entered India.
Gently ? or with a Stick? - Well, it all depends on one's position.
(elitist or dalitist, I guess.)

Aryans "acculturated/blended" with the pre-existing peoples.
As far as India is concerned, the most likely cause of the
"wonderful state of spiritual development"  of Aryans happened
due to their contact with Dravidians. Just like American Blacks
talking English, Indians speak Aryan tongues today. Even now in India,
the pressure is great to make everyone speak IA language(s).

Indo-Europeans have several times overrun more civilized people and taken
over their culture: the Hittites did it, the Greeks did it, the
Celts did it. The Aryans in India did the same thing.
Aryans were not as advanced as Egypt or Mesopotamia,
definitely not as the Indus civilization. If anything,
IE pitaras were good mercenaries, military schemers -
we find them all over middle east. The spiritual
development came few centuries later, that too for
a small segment of Aryans.

One reason for underestimating the Dravidian component
is the paucity of funds, professorships endowed to the study of
Dravidian or Subaltern or Dalit or non-Sanskrit culture.
This is the situation even in India. As more
and more material becomes available, we will see India
as a complex culture produced due to intermixing of
Aryan and Nonaryan (manily Dravidian) elements.

Another problem is the British colonial rulers with their
monolingual and monoreligious culture were unable to comprehend
the multilingual, multireligious culture of India.
They emphasised too much on Sanskrit. Sanskrit was
chosen by the Europe, They canonized it, put it on a citadel,
Indians just followed their lead.
Another task remained still.
Indians have to find a "Book". Vivekananda and today's Hindus
found/find the "Book" in Gita. Semiticization of Hinduism
leads to Ramakrishna missions, etc.,

(Thanks to USA universities, we hear about Dravidian literatures
atleast a little. Works of Emeneau, Shulman, V. N. Rao, Ramanujan,
Hart, Paula Richman, Indira Peterson, Vasudha Narayanan etc.,
European universities still emphasize Sanskrit only.
Notable exceptions exist, I agree (eg. Zvelebil).
Germany Univ. of Koeln has started/done
tremendous work on the creation of tamil e-texts,
Luckily, Japan funds Inst. of Asian studies, Madras.
According to my opinion, Europe's, especially UK, contribution in
the last few decades to study non-sanskritic Indian cultures seem small.
Just a personal thought.)


Sincerely,
N. Ganesan

Two paragraphs from an article, The case of a wounded literature
that appeared in The Hindu:
(I posted more to Indology on 13 Aug 1997 under the
title: A wounded literature)

              Colonial intervention had in fact been a major blow to
              Indian literatures in that it privileged Sanskrit and
              Perso-Arabic over the modern Indian languages. Earlier a
              poet like Kabir had found Sanskrit ''the stagnant water
              of the Lord`s private well`` while the spoken language
              was ''the rippling water of the running stream.`` This
              perception of the medieval saint poets many of whom were
              the founders of native poetic traditions was subverted
              by the British who drew on a completely invented
              ''tradition`` to legitimate and endorse
              ''modernisation.`` Lord Minto ignored all literatures in
              modern Indian languages to assert that science and
              literature in India were ''in a progressive state of
              decay.`` The General Council of Education in India found
              Indian literatures to be ''profane`` ''immoral`` and
              ''impure``, and Sir Richard Temple found them ''scanty``
              and ''obsolete.`` Thus began the colonial project for
              the creation of a ''national`` literature for India
              through translations of Sanskrit and Arabic classics
              into English and of English ''classics`` into Indian
              languages. Charles Trevelyan had found ''The diversity
              among languages`` to be ''one of the greatest existing
              obstacles to improvement in India.`` The British with
              their monolingual and monoreligious culture were unable
              to comprehend the multi-lingual, multi-religious culture
              of India.

*****************************

              The insurrectionary Dalit writing, most visible in
              languages like Marathi and Gujarati and emerging into
              visibility in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada, for example,
              attempts to define difference in terms of caste. Thirty
              centuries of silent suffering a whole ''culture of
              silence`` lie behind their articulations of indignant
              subalternity. They have succeeded in redrawing the
              literary map in their languages by exploring a whole new
              continent of experience as also by revitalising language
              with styles, tones, timbers, words and phrases so far
              kept out of literary use. They compel critics to
              re-examine their canons, challenge the fixed and stale
              social modes of looking at reality and ordering
              knowledge, beauty and power and subvert the age-old
              aesthetic principles of what they qualify as
              ''Brahminist poetics`` with dhwani, rasa and oucitya at
              the centre. They are ideologically heterogeneous as they
              have ambivalent relationships with Buddha, Gandhi and
              Ambedkar. Their poems and stories are invocations of
              cultural memory while their autobiographies unearth a
              whole buried realm of oppressive experience. The
              achievements of Dalit literature seem most evident in
              poetry as in the poems of Narayan Surve, Namdeo Dhasal,
              Keshav Meshram or Mallika Amar Sheikh of Marathi, Yoseph
              Macwan or Pravin Gadhvi of Gujarati or Siddhalingaiah of
              Kannada to cite only a few writers attempting to form an
              alternative aesthetics of social combat.

*****************************************



More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list