Aryan and Non-Aryan

N. Ganesan naga_ganesan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 3 18:40:41 UTC 1998

Thanks, Prof. Deshpande for telling us the
situation in 19th c. Maharashtra. Please
publish the study: "Clashing Reconstructions of History:
Arya and Non-Arya in 19th century Maharashtra".
Heard that the Sanskrit scholar and Indologist,
R. N. Dandekar interpreted Ramayana as a clash
between Northern Aryas and Southern Rakshasas.
On the opposite side, 'Periyar' E. V. Ramasamy Naicker
was interpreting Ramayana in his own way. See
P. Richman on Periyar's Ramayana in
Many Ramayanas (Unic. California press)

N. Ganesan

Date:         Wed, 2 Dec 1998 10:59:52 -0500
From:         Madhav Deshpande <mmdesh at UMICH.EDU>

The "indigenous Aryan" debate has a tendency to get vicious for a very
simple reason.  For people of Indian origin, this issue has close
connections with their own perceptions of their identiy.  Before the
modern period, there were other "vicious debates" in different parts of
India.  For instance, in Maharashtra, many vicious debates developed in
the 16th and 17th century over whether there were true Kshatriyas around
and whether a particular contemporary caste was or was not to be counted
among Shudras.  The ruling Maratha rulers like Shivaji were denied the
status of Kshatriya by many local Brahmanas, including the later
Peshwahs who became the prime ministers of this dynasty.  This was
prompted in part by the Brahmana claim that in the Kali age there were
only two Varnas to be found: Brahmana and Shudra.  The debate over the
status of Kayasthas was equally vicious.  The Brahmanas of Maharashtra
were among the first to begin using the term Arya as a self-referring
term in the modern era, and this term was understood within the context
of the contemporary Brahmana beliefs about there being only two Varnas
in the Kali age.  The Brahmana and Shudra were often replaced with Arya
and non-Arya in the 19th century writings.  Later, the Aryanism
proliferated to other movements such as  the Arya Samaj, the Hindu Maha
Sabha, the RSS, and BJP/VHP etc.  But one can historically look at
the roots of the ideologies in the 19th century.

                                Madhav Deshpande

Get Your Private, Free Email at

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list