Lars Martin Fosse l.m.fosse at
Thu Feb 27 09:44:11 UTC 1997

>I am presently preparing myself for participation in an academic discussion
>of the Aryan migration theory and the controversy over the "Indigenous
>Aryan movement" that views the Punjab as "the cradle of civilization."
>That is, an *Aryan* cradle.  Increasingly, I find that I do not like this
>word "Aryan".
>In my opinion, it is probably wisest to use terms like "Indogermanisch" and
>"Aryan" with *extreme caution* and with a deeply historical perspective. It
>is not enough to profess innocent, "purely scholarly" intentions....

In all sympathy with your dilemma, George, the embarrassing fact remains
that the ancient aryans (sorry) called themselves aryans. The word should, I
think, be specifically used about them, not about other Indo-Europeans. But
even if it is used with caution, I am afraid that damage has already been
done. Outside academic circles, most people have no idea about
Indo-Europeans, and aryans are invariably associated with Nazi ideology. I
once mentioned a few Indological facts to an acquaintance who is a lawyer,
using the word "aryans". He scowled at me and said: "Watch your mouth,
Fosse". I had to give him a small lecture to prove that I was not a Nazi
sympathizer or something. In India the problem is that people do not connect
the "aryan" with fascism. That is after all a European phenomenon. How will
you convince your Indian colleagues to go easy on the term "Aryan"? Their
aryans are, after all, their legitimate forefathers. Somehow, you would be
forcing upon them a moral dilemma for which they are not responsible to
begin with.

Best regards,

Lars Martin

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list