An appeal to Indologists (Was Re: Indo-Aryan invasion)

S Krishna mahadevasiva at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 7 17:30:15 UTC 1998

On Fri, 6 Mar 1998, Viktor V. Sukliyan wrote:

>>   What I feel here in India, where I live near about 2 years, that
>>  people here are not interested in their own cultural heritage and
>>  especially classical ancient history, arts, languages and folklor.
>>  I mean it still exists in some remote village areas and carried on
>>  basically by  old aged layer of population.But drastically
decreasing and washing out  from contemporary Indian life. Soon we will
hear about Indian cultur only from pulpits some where in Oxford or
Harvard.  Now here everybody is interested only in MBA and computers.

Please don't forget Greencards....the ancient saying "jananI
janmabhUmizca svargAdapi garIyasI" has been transformed into "greencard
americadEzazca svargAdapi garIyasI" by the NRAs( Indians
residing in India whose world revolves around migrating to America
are called NRAs(Non-Resident Americans))

In addition, in Northern India, there has been a long tradition of
glamorizing essentially non-Indian cultures and languages like Farsi
, whose patronage(atleast by the upper middle classes) came about only
at the cost of indigenous tradition. Through out the middle ages,
there was a tradition of strong Farsi learning in the Mughal courts
which certainly did undermine the local tradition. (I realise that the
Mughals did support some Sanskrit learning and poets; jagannAtha
paNDitarAya being one example and Dara Shukhokh, the brother of
Aurangazeb getting the upaniSads translated into Farsi but the
overwhelming support was very much in support of Farsi)..this finds
reflection not simply in the poetry of Amir Khusrao, but also in the
poetry of Persian notables like Jalaluddin Rumi who says(in
the "mathnavI", his magnum opus) "Rumi, whose fame has spread to
Hind and Samarkand")(The reason why I am bringing up Rumi is because he
lived in Persia and subsequently in Turkey but never in India; inspite
of that he knew that his works were respected in India, which only
reflects the extent to which Farsi was patronized in India)...It is not
mere coincidence that there is not much writing in Sanskrit after the
12th century and that the Turko-Mughal rule in India started from this
point onwards...Over a period of 700 years, this culture spread itself
so far and wide that IT became the classical culture/language..this
phenomenon has also found it's way into folklore Hindi/URdu there
is a saying "Padhe Farsi beche tel, dekho ray taqdeer ka khel" (He
studied Farsi but is forced to sell oil for a living; look at the tricks
fate can play)..The key word to be noticed here is Farsi, not
Sanskrit...while patronage of various fields is welcome, I believe that
it is essential to uphold the primacy of indigenous tradition in terms
of allocation of resources which is unfortunately not true of Sanskrit
or any other classical language of India....

<< Japanese Society is very traditional itself, that is why they are
interested to study traditions of other countries, especially
India-oldest still living traditional Society.>>

I agree with Mr Sukliyan in terms of lack of interest in Indian studies,
Classical Indology etc from a fiscal point of view..However,
I believe there is another factor that prevents propagation/study
of ancient India namely the diversity of ancient Indian tradition...
In China for example, there has been one and only one language and
culture, namely Chinese( dynasties changed and the form of the
language may have changed, but the essential character of Chinese
culture does/did have a long tradition of continuity). On the other hand
in India, there was always more than one culture/more than one
language...Depending on the religion,region, time period and interest
one  can define Sanskrit/Pali/Tamil/Ardhamagadhi to be a classical
language(besides others that I do not know). While they are related to
each other, they  are also separate and distinct entities that do
compete with each other for the meagre resources that are allocated to
Indology with the result that none gets patronized or propogated
properly. I believe that this is one instance where the diversity of
Indian culture has been it's own Achiless heel and has substantially
undermined study.

  This feature can always be noticed among those in the younger
generation who are interested in ancient India- the first impression
that one gets of India and Indology is one of bewildering confusion
-Sanskrit,Hinduism,Buddhism....there are a long list of things that
compete for attention. Since there exists no user-friendly method for
guiding people through all this confusion, most people simply give
up and take to *something* that is far simpler to follow, the
*something* invariably being URdu poetry ( it has glamor value as well
as easy to follow since the basic vocabulary overlaps with that of
Hindi) or worse, rock and roll..(Afterall, it doesn't require any
genius to understand and appreciate lyrics like "We don't want no
education, we want greencards":-) or "IF you can't pay your rent, don't
worry, be happy").

  I realise that there are sections of this post that seem very
parochial, provincial and opinionated...but then these are the results
of my own experience and discussions with others who were interested
in Indology but were forced to give up...I believe it is also important
to address these issues in additions to bewailing the lack
of interest in Indology.


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