Aryan-non-Aryan Conference Program

Madhav Deshpande mmdesh at
Thu Oct 31 19:02:28 UTC 1996

Dear Indology Members,
	In response to recent queries about the Michigan-Lausanne
International Seminar, I am posting the abstracts of papers presented at
this seminar.
	Madhav Deshpande


October 25-27, 1996
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Coordinated by:
	Johannes Bronkhorst (University of Lausanne)
	Madhav Deshpande (University of Michigan)
	Thomas Trautmann (University of Michigan)

Titles and Abstracts of Papers (in alphabetical order)


Nicholas Allen (Oxford University, UK)

   The study of Sanskrit as one branch of the Indo-European language
family is far better established than the study of the Hindu tradition as
one branch of Indo-European culture, but the second undertaking, already
envisaged by Sir William Jones, has remained an obvious intellectual
challenge.  Any contemporary response to the challenge must refer to the
work of Dumezil, which the author has elsewhere tried to emend and
elaborate (and thereby defend), by exploring the idea of a fourth
 But what political dimensions are there to such an undertaking?  On the
one hand questions can be raised about the presuppositions and motivations
of Dumezil and of those who continue his work.  On the other, one wonders
how the results of the work will be perceived outside academia (if and
when they make the transition).  Two possibilities are discussed. 
Nationalist sentiment might be offended by any claim that what has
previously been thought of as 'Indian' has its roots outside India before
the immigration of the Aryans; and whereas right-wing parties might
welcome evidence for the importance of the Sanskritic tradition, speakers
of non-IE languages might feel that their contribution to the development
of Hinduism was being slighted.  What precautions, if any, should be taken
by the comparativist? 


Johannes Bronkhorst (University of Lausanne)

The question I wish to address in this paper is the following.  Does the
opposition which the early Indian tradition itself introduce by
distinguishing Aryans from non-Aryans help us to understand later
developments of Indian culture?  Put more generally: Do we have to assume
any kind of opposition in order to understand some of the later
developments, whether or not the parties concerned referred to themselves
as Aryans?  I will limit the discussion of this question to a few
examples, representing the views of some chosen scholars.


Edwin Bryant (Columbia University, New York)

        There has been considerable and increasing controversy, of late,
about the origins of the Indo-Aryan speakers.  A significant body of
scholarship has developed, in India, which can be termed the 'Indigenous
Aryan' school, which claims that the Indo-Aryans were autochthonous to
thesubcontinent and not invaders or immigrants as is generally held.  This
group, which consists predominantly of philologists, historians and
archaeologists, draws particular attention to the impossibility of
definitively identifying Aryan speakers with any intrusive element in the
archaeological record.
        The external origin of the Aryans, however, was a theory
predicated on linguistic evidence.  Irrespective of the status of the
archaeological debate surrounding the Aryan presence on the subcontinent,
most detractors of the Indigenous Aryan school ultimately refer to the
linguistic evidence as conclusive in this regard.  The Indigenous Aryan
school has not critiqued the linguistic dimension of this problem with the
same gusto with which it has reconsidered the archaeological and
philological evidence.
        This paper, which is based on a section of my dissertation
examining the whole Aryan 'invasion' debate from the perspective of the
Indigenous Aryan school, examines the most compelling feature of the
linguistic evidence, namely, that of a non-Indo-Aryan linguistic
substratum in Sanskrit texts.  I will first outline the major strands of
scholarship that have dealt with this area.  In assessing them as a group,
I will be forced to conclude that they are not internally consistent,
since the opinions of the principal linguists in this area have differed
quite considerably.  This  problematizes the value of this method as a
significant determinant in the Indo-Aryan debate and raises the question
as to whether the position being advanced by the Indigenous Aryan school
survives this particular linguistic challenge intact.


Sarah Lee Caldwell (University of Michigan)

Abstract: ???


Madhav M. Deshpande (University of Michigan)

The discussion of the terms Arya and non-Arya is normally dominated on the
one hand by the discussions in linguistics and archaeology, and, now more
increasingly in the context of politics of knowledge as reflected in
colonial and post-colonial histories of South Asia.  However, there is a
middle period which is dominated by the discourses of the Hindu
Dharmashastras and epics on the one hand and the contesting traditions of
Buddhism and Jainism, where these terms played an equally significant
role.  When we deal with the vast literature covered by these traditions,
we certainly need to move away both from the archaeological and linguistic
studies of South Asian prehistory, which was too remote and unknown to the
classical authors in these traditions, and from the politics of knowledge
as reflected in the colonial and post-colonial developments which have yet
to come into being in a distant future.  However, in the period we are
concerned with, the religious traditions are indeed not without their own
politics of knowledge, and indeed they have their own conceptions of
linguistic, ethnic, moral and spiritual purity and superiority.  In this
paper, I shall study the use of these terms in these traditions in the
context of the underlying politics between these traditions.


Luis O. Gomez (University of Michigan)

In this paper I consider some Chinese translations and explanations of
Buddhist uses of the term "a-rya."  The sources are primarily sutras,
commentaries and glossaries in which we find the Buddhist terms
"a-rya=s'ra-vaka," "a-rya=satya," and ""  I
discuss the ways in which the Chinese translators on the one hand
continued the task of "spiritualizing" and emptying the terms of their
social connotations, and on the other, found new parallels between
spiritual status and social prestige and power.


Hans Henrich Hock (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Since at least the time of Zimmer (1879), the conflict between arya and
dasa/dasyu portrayed in the earliest Vedic texts has tended to be
interpreted tantamount to conflict between two racially distinct groups,
whose differences are characterized especially in terms of white/light vs. 
black/dark skin color.  (See for instance Macdonnell & Keith 1912: s.vv. 
d7asa and var na; Chatterji 1960: 7 (with the qualification that the
Indo-Europeans were of 'unknown racial characteristic (though it is not
unlikely that they were Nordic originally [!])') and 32; Elizarenkova
1995:  36; Gonda 1975: 129; Hale 1986: 147 (see also 154); Kuiper 1991: 17
(vs.  ibid. 3-4); Kulke & Rothermund 1986: 35; Mansion 1931: 6; Rau 1957:
16;  Parpola 1988: 104-106, 120-121, 125.  This racial interpretation of
the Vedic textual evidence overlaps, and in many cases closely agrees
with, an interpretation of the conflict between arya and dasa as
comparable that between the British and India in (early) modern times. 
The aryas are seen as conquering invaders who subjugate the indigenous
popula tion (often identified as Dravidian) who, in turn, subvert the
language of the conquerors in a way similar to the Indianization of
English.  It has further been assumed that the conflict between
colonialist/imperialist aryas and the indigenous dasas is responsible for
the Indian caste system, especially (but not exclusively) the
establishment of the shudra caste as the social group appropriate for
subjugated and unassimilated dasas. 

It is the purpose of this paper to question the "orthodox" position (or
positions) just outlined, in terms both of a reexamination of textual
evidence and linguistic evidence and of a reconsideration of the basic
assumptions made about the arya/dasa contact specifically and the nature
of such contacts in prehistoric contexts in general. 

As I show in Hock 1996, the textual evidence for interpreting words
meaning 'dark, black' and 'light, white' as referring to skin color is
quite uncertain.  At least equally possible is an "ideolog ical"
interpretation of the terms somewhat along the lines of the black hats of
the 'good guys' and the white hats of the 'bad guys' in Western movies. 
In fact, such an interpretation provides a plausible explana tion of why a
word originally meaning 'light' came to designate the world, loka, if we
assume that it first meant the 'light world' of the aryas.  Moreover,
there is good reason for believing that such notions as "race", defined in
terms of skin color, are an invention of (early) modern European colonial
ism and imperialism (see e.g. Appiah 1987) and thus are inappropriate for
the prehistoric arya/dasa contact. 

Hock 1996 presents similar arguments against identifying prehistoric
conflicts between different ethnic groups with modern
colonialist/indigenous conflicts:  ' both "civilized" empires (such as the
Roman one) and "barbarian" ones (such as that of the Huns) were truly
multiethnic, multilin gual, and mul ticultural.  War-time alliances might
pit members of the same linguistic and ethnic group against each other
(such as the Germanic allies of the Huns and of the Romans).' This view is
supported by such evidence as the fact that the Rig-Vedic 'battle of the
ten kings' arrays aryas and dasas on both sides of the fight.  Further
support that the contact situation was less one-sided than commonly
assumed is found in the thesis of Hock MS that early Dravidian and
Indo-Aryan, and to a lesser degree even Iranian, participated in
convergent changes that presuppose a situation of stable bi- or

Time permitting, I also adress the issue of caste.  While specifics of the
Indian caste system no doubt reflect an uneven relationship in terms of
power (see especially the 'outer groups' of the Sunahsepa story in the
Aitereya-Brahmana), the antecedents of the system can be traced to
Indo-Iranian, even Indo-European origins.  The Dumezilian tripartite
"ideology" of the Indo-Europeans at best reflects the stratification of
the "in-group"; there is ample evidence for at least two "out-groups" that
play an im portant, even if socially marginal, role in society artisans
(see the fourth caste of Avestan) and slaves/prisoners of war.  What
appears to be specifically Indian is the explicit consolidation of these
two out-groups into the fourth, shudra, caste but it is not at all clear
that this consolidation must be attributed to a special relationship
between aryas and dasa, different from the relationship between, say,
early Iranian "in-group" and "out-group" strata. 


Asko Parpola (University of Helsinki)

At the Fourth World Sanskrit Conference held in Weimar in 1979 I
presented a paper on this very same theme, and a one-page abstract was
published in the proceedings. A more extended outline of the argument was
included in a paper that came out four years later with the title "The
pre-Vedic Indian background of the Zrauta rituals" (pp. 41-75 in: Frits
Staal ed., Agni: The Vedic ritual of the fire altar, vol. II, Berkeley:
Asian Humanities Press, 1983). I am returning to this subject for three
reasons. Firstly, the documentation of those earlier outlines is
defective; secondly, my contentions have escaped the notice of scholars
writing on kiMpuruSa / kinnara (cf. M. Mayrhofter, Etymologisches
Woerterbuch des Altindoarischen  I, Heidelberg 1992, p. 348; and A.
Wayman's paper on kinnara read at the meeting of the AOS in 1994); and
thirdly, some striking new material pertinent to this topic has come to
light in the meantime. I have also continued my work on the prehistory of
early Indian religions, which I find necessary for understanding the
mixture of early Indo-Aryan and Dravidian, as represented by these words.
        The structure of the paper is as follows:
1. The meaning of kiMpuruSa and kinnara in classical Sanskrit, Prakrit
and Neo-Indo-Aryan.
2. The meaning of kiMpuruSa in Vedic texts.
3. The ritual context of Vedic kiMpuruSa and its Proto-Aryan background.
4. Etymology of kiMpuruSa and kinnara: Proto-Dravidian *kinnaram and its
occurrence in the Near East (Semitic *kinnAru) since the last quarter of
the third millennium BC --- if accepted, this is by far the earliest
attestation of any Dravidian word.
5.  Hypotheses concerning the contexts of *kinnaram in the Harappan /
Dravidian religion.


Shereen Ratnagar (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)

This paper will investigate the ways in which archaeological data have
been used to support interregional migration and the presence of Aryan
speakers in Central Asia, Iran and northwestern India-Pakistan.  What are
the categories of evidence used, and how does this vary?  What about the
rest of material culture residues?  Considering the nature of that entity
we call 'culture' in archaeology, is the conceptual leap from
artefact-distributions to
migration-of-a-group-speaking-a-particular-language justified?


Jim G. Shaffer (Case Western University, Cleveland)

South Asian archaeology remains significantly influenced by
interpretations proposed by prominent European scholars
(e.g., Marshall and Wheeler) that developed this area's
archaeological record into one of international importance
during the first half of the twentieth century.  However,
seldom is it recognized that these scholarly interpretations
significantly reflect eighteenth and nineteenth century
European perceptions of history, language, ethnicity, and
what is today referred to as orientalism.  These interpretations
continue to influence our understanding of South Asian cultural
history including recent archaeological discoveries.  This
historical background will be critically examined here as
well as how recent developments in the archaeological record
argue for a fundamental restructuring of the region's cultural
history prior to the Early Historic Period.


Pashaura Singh (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)

        This paper will address the issue of how the ancient Vedic term
"Arya" was employed successfully by a late nineteenth-century movement,
the Arya-Samaj, and how it underwent a radical change in its meaning and
application in a new historical context. Although the Arya-Samaj claimed
to restore the pristine ancient glory of Vedic religion following the
Orientalist perspective, it was in fact involved in the process of
redefining Hinduism in the colonial context. In that process, the
Arya-Samaj had to meet the challenges offered by the other competing
religious organizations. We will try to assess the role of this movement
in presenting a model of unified and monolithic Arya Dharam in contrast to
the prevalent diversity of the Hindu tradition. We will also examine the
role of the terms, Arya and Non-Arya, in the growth of the politics of
religious nationalism in South Asia, particularly in India, as a result of
the legacy of the Arya-Samaj movement.


F. C. Southworth (University of Pennsylvania)

In their book _The_Rise_of_Civilization_in_India_and_Pakistan_ (1982),
the Allchins state that there is a substratum of Dravidian place names in
Maharashtra. This statement, based probably on the ideas of H. D.
Sankalia, has never been properly investigated. Fortunately there exist
two lists of Maharashtrian village names which provide the data for such
a study. My investigation of these names turned up a number of candidates
for Dravidian origin among the suffixes of Marathi place names. Among
these suffixes, the most promising is -vali/oli, both because of its high
frequency and because its Dravidian origin is not questioned (< Drav.
paLLi 'hamlet, camp, place to lie down' < paT- 'lie,fall').

A study of the spatial distribution of village names with the suffix
-vali/oli shows 90% or more of them concentrated in the coastal region
known as Konkan. In the remainder of the Marahi-speaking area, the
greatest concentration is in the southern part of the Desh, i.e. in the
districts of Kolhapur and Solapur. A number of other suffixes of probable
Dravidian origin are also found in these areas, though they are of lower
frequency of occurrence. Thus these suffixes of Dravidian origin are in a
continuous distribution with the Dravidian paLLi, as well as with similar
suffixes in the state of Gujarat (discussed in Sankalia's doctoral
thesis, which is based on early inscriptions in Gujarat). Thus there can
be little doubt that these areas were previously inhabited by speakers of
some Dravidian language(s).

The paper will also discuss reflexes of Dravidian paLLi in place names in
Sindh and Pakistani Panjab, where the evidence is somewhat less clear.


Thomas R. Trautmann (University of Michigan)

Accepting that knowledge and politics are mutually entailed, it by no
means follows that the constructions of Orientalism have stable meanings
or unitary politics attaching to them.  The Aryan or Indo-European idea
has at least three different readings belonging to different political
contexts.  (1) The exclusionary sense is the one associated with Nazism
and other modern racial-hate doctrines, while (2) for the orientalists of
British India the Aryan idea had always an inclusionary sense, as a sign
of the kinship of Britons and Indians, related to Orientalist policy
positions; and (3) for Indians, the Aryan idea tends to be equated with
the celebration of Hinduism.  This multiplicity of political tendencies is
a capital fact, showing the historically contigent character of the
conjecture.  The Dravidian idea had its own politics, to do with the
growing assertiveness of Madras vis-a-vis the Calcutta establishment,
different again from political uses made of it in the twentieth century in
South India and Sri Lanka.  In the course of the nineteenth century, the
growing tension between an emergent "race science" and the Sanskritists
was compromised in the racial theory of Indian civilization, that is, the
notion that Indian civilization was formed by conquest and the
intermingling of white, Aryan, Sanskrit-speaking civilized invaders and
dark savages native to India.  The paper closes with a critique of this
theory, which has proved remarkably durable and resistant to the
appearance of new evidence against it.


Gernot Windfuhr (University of Michigan)

Some notes on the functional range of Airyaman in Iranian tradition,
compared with Indian Aryaman, and a possible new etymology that fits the


Michael Witzel (Harvard University)

Our means for reconstructing the prehistory of India are limited: apart
from the testimony of the Vedic texts and of archaeology, including the
Indus inscriptions,  there are only the materials provided by the
languages that have been spoken in South Asia for the past four thousand
years. However, the evidence of them that appears in the early texts
needs to be re-investigated and re-evaluated, especially the loan words
and names of persons, localities and rivers. In this paper attention is
limited to the northern part of South Asia for which the evidence is
earliest and most copious.

A brief overview is presented of the languages known or discernable in
the Vedic texts, with stress on their ancient geographical location, and
can discern various dialects of Indo-Iranian: Old Indo-Aryan (Vedic and
local dialects), some East Iranian dialects close to Young Avestan
(Bactrian, Arachosian Kamboja) and a predecessor of Nuristani (Kafiri).
Secondly, early forms of Dravidian and Munda as loans in the Rgveda. This
is confronted with a study of the personal and place names found in the
post-Rgvedic texts, again establishing traces of Dravidian, Munda, but
also of Tibeto-Burmese.

Further evidence for a wide-spread cultural network of exchange of goods,
products, plants and domesticated animals can be established through the
study of certain loan words, especiallly those designating wheat (from W.
Asia), rice (from S.E. Asia), horse (from Central Asia). -- To this is
added a brief discussion of the layering and the substrates of the
various languages that were successively introduced into South Asia.

This allows to posit mutual linguistic influence in Northern South Asia
of Munda, Dravidian, Indo-Iranian, perhaps also Tibeto-Burmese, since at
least the end of the Indus civilization, c. 1900 B.C.E. Even the hieratic
Rgveda bears witness to acculturation and substrate influence in the form
of loan words, calques or in its syntax.

All of this indicates that the linguistic (and ethnic) situation in S.
Asia was quite varied from early on and further, that S. Asia was not
isolated from developments in other parts of Asia but took part in the
transmission of new techniques and economies along with the words
designating them.

The study of much of these data has been fairly cursory so far.
Especially (northern) place names are in need of (re-) evaluation. The
progress made during the last few decades in Dravidian, Munda and
Tibeto-Burmese linguistics should open the path for a close cooperation
of specialists in these languages and in Indo-Iranian for the study of
the prehistory and early history of S. Asia.

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