Tamil words in English
jsharma at HERMES.GC.PEACHNET.EDU
Wed Feb 18 13:24:24 UTC 1998
> Mr. Subrahmanya wrote:
> > As the Aryan Invasion/Migration theory chokes,sputters and dies, so will its
> > other face, the artificial Aryan(or the PC indo-european)/Dravidian language
> > divide die under the weight of its own contradictions and distortions.
> Even after revisionist attempts, majority of academics are confidant
> and write that Aryans migrated into India and not the other way around.
> That is., Aryans did not spread out from India.
> N. Ganesan
I my opinion the Aryan Invasion Theory is indeed in its death
throes and the theory to replace it is not entirely clear as yet. It
is interesting to me that one critical assumption behind the AIT is
the identifcation of the Aryans with the 'Teutons' as done by Comte
Gobineau. If this assumption is false, then we do not have the
picture of the' blonde blue-eyed' warriors conquering the South Asian
region and then mixing with the natives to create the modern Indians.
This is the general picture sustained by the AIT; Just pick up any
encylopedia and read up on the section of ancient india.
It is interesting to me that so much effort is put in preserving
Gobineau's assumptions (for which he later admitted there was no
historical basis), even after the mayhem this has wreacked on Europe
in recent history. The fact that millions were killed for a false
assumption will be a bitter pill to swallow, especially for European
nationalists. Since these assumptions are never a part of public
debate and are tied with the horrific past of WW2, they continue to
So how can we be so sure that Aryans came into India and Iran
when we dont even know what they looked liked, and where they came
from ? Is it terribly incorrect to assume that the Aryans were
similar to the Indo-Iranians where there is a clear historical memory
as opposed to Europeans where even word was forgotten till recent
times ? Why are the Vedas/Avesta or proto-forms thereof not
remembered in Europe, and scholars have to look at India/Iran to look
into the Aryan past ?
Most importantly, Karl Popper has emphasized the importance of
falsification in scientific models. One case does not prove a general
point, but one contradiction can destroy a scientific theory. If
indeed we take the 'arrival' of Aryans in India to be around 1500 BC,
how is it that they talk about the 'Sarasvati' river which is very
likely the major 'dried up' river in the Hakkar-Ghagra Basin, which
dried in 2000 BC ? The discovery of this rever bed it seems is a very
exciting discovery with hundreds of settlements along it. The
silence on the discussion of these finds is interesting. All of this
must fit into the 'standard' model and it does not. What the 'new'
picture may be is yet to clarify as yet, but the insistence on AIT
(for whatever reasons- academic, nationalistic etc) preserves
Rajaram discusses many of these issues in his book on "AIT and the
Subversion of Scholarship" . It will be very interesting for me to
see refutations to the points raised in that book; I hope literature
beyond polemic will be generated to settle the matter once and for
all if indeed revision of the 'standard' model is unwarrented.
If the refutation is simply 'this is not good scholarship', then a
few reasons as to why would be more convincing. The comments of the
Mathematician Seidenberg (on Shulba-Shastras) and Astronomer Caille
on Indian Astronomy were dismissed by Whitney (and Keith ?) even
though they did not know much about these subjects. I think that this
has been recently looked at in detail a dissertation out of Columbia.
U. And indeed if the study of the Vedic sky is in its infancy (as
pointed out by M. Witzel in a beautiful article on the 'big dipper'
in IJVS), then this matter needs more than a second look before
historical chronolgies are cited as being absolute.
In conclusion, it is questioning that keeps historical models
healthy and pointed refutations that dispel 'revisionism'. I think
that this is a very exciting time for Indology with the new
archeological discoveries (ie Sarasvati river and the sites along it
) and the emerging evidence must be consistent with historical
chronologies based primarily on philology.
One more thing; Some time ago someone pointed out the 'manifesto' of
this list discouraging folks from 'math and physics' to post on this
list as this does not prepare them for 'humanities'. This points to
an egregiously false notion that Indology is a field of 'humanities'.
Humanities does not purport to construct historical chronologies,
historical science does. And if indeed there is a place for
construction of historical models in Indology based on linguistics,
archeology, geology, physics (radio-carbon dating), astronomy (vedic
sky) etc, there is a legitimate place for scientists to participate
in the discussion. Scientists can comment on the methodologies
historical science and that input is needed for the health of the
Once more, a cursory glance at the historical wastebasket shows many
a discarded paradigms. So AIT is subject to a Toynbeean 'challenge
and response'. The challenge has been there for some time, and sadly
the response has in most part been vilification of the challenger. It
will perhaps take a generation of Indologists to remove this spectre
of competing histories and get a clearer picture of 'what really
happened (most likely).".
I submit this note with great respect for those who have formally
dedicated themselves to the study of India.
Associate Professor of Physics
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