Tamil words in English

Lars Martin Fosse lmfosse at ONLINE.NO
Wed Feb 18 20:53:05 UTC 1998

> 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

The fantasies of Count Gobineau are of no account to AIT today. The Aryans
may have been blond and blue-eyed, or not. They most likely mixed with other
peoples on their way to India. But I believe that there are still blue-eyed
people to be found in the Punjab, so some of them may very well have been
blue-eyed. You may, by the way, want to read "The History and Geography of
Human Genes" by Cavalli-Sforza. He discusses the realities of the AIT from a
genetic point of view.

> 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

Not at all. They most probably were.

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 ?

Comparative cultural studies show that there are ideas common to the Eastern
and Western branch of the Indo-European "ethnic theatre". May I suggest a
book on the subject: Bruce Lincoln, "Indo-European Themes of Creation and
Destruction", Harvard University Press, 1986.

> 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 ?

There may be several explanations. For one thing, there is no reason to
believe that no Indo-Aryans visited India before the "invasion". They may
have come as traders. I suspect that the Aryan "invasion" occurred because
the Indus culture became weakened by the ecological catastrophy that seems
to have hit it and was unable to fend off intruders. Compare the influx of
Germanic tribes in the Western Roman empire in the fifth and sixth centuries
CE. Germans had been present in Rome for centuries before they were able to
ravage the area.

But they may also simply have talked to the locals - after all a mighty
river that simply disappears could easily get stuck in mythology.

> 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.

I don't think it is correct to say that the study of the Vedic sky is in its
infancy. After all, Herman Jacobi wrote several hundred pages on astronomy
and Indology at the turn of the century. But a fresh look at these matters
might be interesting, particularly now that we are able to simulate the sky
as it was millennia ago by means of computer programs.

> 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.

This must be a misunderstanding. History is very much part of the
humanities, and historians deal with chronological problems all the time.
Indologists have been discussing chronological problems for a 150 years. And
I fail to see how knowledge of physics and mathematics alone can sort out
the tangled web of Indian literatures! I have tried to use statistics on the
problem, and reached the conclusion that statistics may be useful, but only
in conjunction with traditional methods.

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.

Provided we know what constellations we are talking about. Part of the
problem is that we do not always know exactly what the Vedic literature
means when it talks about astronomical phenomena. But I agree that the
sciences and their potensiality may have been neglected, and that many
people in the humanities are deplorably lacking in even elementary
scientific knowledge.

> 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).".

There is nothing wrong in challenging the AIT, as long as it is done in a
competent manner. But let me ask you as a physicist: Do you accept a
challenge against physical theory from a person without adequate
mathematical knowledge and no proper qualifications in physics? If you were
a geophysicist, would you spend much time discussing the reality of the
earth's rotundity with a member of the "Flat Earth Society" (there really is
- or at least recently was - such a thing)?

Best regards,

Lars Martin Fosse

Dr.art. Lars Martin Fosse
Haugerudvn. 76, Leil. 114,
0674 Oslo

Tel: +47 22 32 12 19
Fax: +47 22 32 12 19
Email: lmfosse at online.no
Mobile phone: 90 91 91 45

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list