Early excommunications from / inclusions into vedic ...

Sun Jun 28 01:48:14 UTC 1998

At 09:53 AM 6/27/98 -0400, Michael Witzel wrote:

>An apology was completely unnecessary, as nobody feels offended if some
>old religious/political text of another cultural area talks about its
>neighbors in that fashion. If so, we would have to stop reading and
>quoting(!) all of our various classical literatures from Egypt to China...
>The very fact that such an apology was offered thus tells  us something
>significant about the mind-set of the apologizers and about the times we
>live in.

It looks as though that I have committed a faux pas by apologigimg.
Professor Witzel, I apologige to you for apologiging. I hope that
puts the whole thing out of the way.

>A late text such as the Visnu Purana (Gupta period?) certainly can tell us
>little about the Indo-Aryan homeland or immigration which should have
>taken place some 2000 years earlier. Do you take medieval European
>chronicles or religious tractates as serious sources for Near Eastern or
>Greek history?

purANAs contain

1) myths
2) interpolations
3) sectarian propaganda
4) politically slanted accounts
5) fantasies that are sometimes obscure to interpret.

But that is the case with all such chronicles world over. Just as the
tendency of a school of Indian Indologists to treat everything in the
purANAs as infallible is wrong, so is the tendency of other scholars
to dismiss them summarily as source of information and history (some-
times the only source however unreliable it may be). purANAS I believe
were originally intended to be something like encyclopeadias and as such
they carry the body and the state of knowledge in those times.

>To be serious, if the Visnu Purana has a (politically motivated, Y.
>Vassilkov) "excommunication", the *opposite* is seen much earlier, in late
>Brahmana time, when the long dead Rgveda personality (and Vasistha's
>enemy), Visvamitra, literally adopts the PuNDra, Zabara, Pulinda, Muutiba
>(Muuciipa), Andhra, "who live in large numbers beyond the borders."
>(Aitareya Brahmana 7.18). He thus *includes* the non-Indo-Aryan tribes of
>the Eastern of North India . Note that such tribes are still called
>I do not know of a better political strategy in the early period to expand
>one's cultural and political influence.

This shows that information can be extracted even from the motivated
and slanted accounts. By the way, Andhras (that is we) are to the south
not east.

I think that the Europian scholarship should take a more serious and
critical look at purANAs.



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