Early Giithaa sculptures

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at BLR.VSNL.NET.IN
Tue Dec 29 05:14:24 UTC 1998

N. Ganesan wrote:
> <<<
> I believe I have read somewhere, I think it was in introduction to
> Sankara's Gita Bhashya (I am not sure of the translator - Swami
> Panavananda
> ???) that the BG is placed as far back as 3102 BC which was the date for
> the Mahabharata war and the beginning of Kali Yuga. ...
> >>>
>   Just reading Eric Wolf's People without History.
>   When the chronological thinking came to India,
>   first from Muslims, and then Europeans, Hindus
>   have a problem.

I have a book titled "Universal History", written by an American lady
savant in the 1870s. There she writes that although there are some
strange people who claim that the earth is millions of years old, we can
safely dismiss such speculations as deranged and evil, since the Bible
clearly says that the world was created in 6006 BC and there are no
solid reasons why we should think otherwise.

So what we often have to deal with in discussions on the Internet is not
only a Hindu problem. Even though scholars had already accepted
historical thinking, fundamentalist Christians in the US a hundred years
ago used arguments very similar to those which their Hindu counterparts
brandish today.

Even if it is true that traditional India has an unhistorical /
antihistorical tendency (cf. also Hajime Nakamura, _Ways of Thinking of
Eastern Peoples_), the attitude that says we should pick up an old text,
ardently believe in it and construct the whole of history on that text
is not exclusively Hindu. But percentagewise, it seems more a Hindu
problem today than, e.g., a Muslim or Christian one.

Perhaps it would be a nice study to find out relative differences in
historical / chronological consciousness between various Hindu
traditions. E.g., it seems that in Karnataka Maadhvas seem relatively
more historically conscious than Smaartas, which could be due to the
Maadhva belief that the world is real, whereas for Advaitins it is all
maayaa and hence does not really matter.


Dr. Robert J. Zydenbos
Mysore (India)
e-mail zydenbos at bigfoot.com

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