The Aryans (again); 19th century discourse.

Edwin Bryant ebryant at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Dec 21 14:19:06 UTC 1998

On Sun, 20 Dec 1998, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan wrote:

> I would like to know if the Theosophists of Indian origin identified
> themselves as Aryan in the same manner as Europeans. If they and other elite
> Congress leaders did believe in their Aryanhood, such a thinking might have
> played a role in the negative attitude to social reform held by Tilak and
> Congressmen in the early part of the 20th century India.

Thank you for your comments and lengthy quotes from Ambedkar.  Figueira,
in her book 'The Exotic: A Decadent Quest' finds groups such as the
Theosophists forming a kind of bridge between Orientalism and Nazism (they
were officially suppressed during the 3rd Reich, which she suggests
underscores their influence).  In the second volume of 'The Secret
Doctrine', Blavatsky describes seven cycles and seven root races.  One of
these root races was the Aryans which had various underraces one of which
was the Indians, another, the Jews.  Yet another Aryan underrace, the
Teutonic was on the ascendency in her system.

On a related note, the theosophist Olcott, was still partial to an Indian
Aryan homeland at the end of the 19th century (most Europeans had
abandoned such an idea by the middle of the century).  Also of relevance,
Blavatsky held the Vedas to be thousands of years older than the date
contemporary scholars were advocating.  Her grounds for so doing combine
statements taken from Muller (that the Vedas represented the infancy of
humankind), and the claim by geologists of her day that humans could be
traced back to Tertiary times (240, 000 years ago).

I haven't found any Aryan discourse in Tilak (except his two books on
astronomy, of course).  Does anyone know of any?   Best,  Edwin Bryant

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