Indo-Aryan Invasion (proposal for virtual sattra)

Tue Mar 10 22:00:03 UTC 1998

Hey, Hey, don't we forget a few important basic topics in the discussion on the
Indo-Aryan Invasion?

I am first of all thinking of Ritual. Or is it to be categorized under the
topic of linguistic arguments, as "the language of ritual"?
In any case, Vedic ritual seems to have been a powerful factor of cultural and
linguistic standardization and homogenization. Ritual transmits language plus
(at least intra-ritual) meaning (including a network of well-established
linguistic meanings; one should not be misguided by a limited set of
problematic terms). Priest A gives command X, and priest B indeed executes act
X, etc. Though Vedic ritual was confined to certain classes of society, there
was a radiation to other rituals such as Tantric ritual in which more or less
correct Sanskrit was also important.
Moreover, the wish to conserve the ritual gave rise to numerous linguistic
sciences, among them Nirukta and Vyakarana. And the latter dealt not only with
Vedic language, but also with the language of the well-educated. And not only
Brahminical authors wanted to be well-educated, also Buddhist and Jaina ones.
Again we have found a strong standardizing and homogenizing factor. Their
working can be observerd in the post-Christian centuries. To what extent can we
extrapolate to the pre-Christian centuries? Wouldn't this affect the argument
of "less linguistic diversity within the Indian subcontinent"?

Another basic topic is "what early neighbours thought about India". Old Persian
and Avestan testimonies would be of main importance here. An interesting
article by W.Vogelsang which unfortunately will not be published before the
virtual sattra in May is "The Sixteen lands of Videvdat", on a famous passage
in the beginning of this text where sixteen lands are enumerated which were
created by Ahura Mazda. It is to be published in the autumn issue of Persica.
There is no indication that the Zoroastrians projected their origin in the
southeast. They rather thought of the north as an early place of origin.
Earlier discussions of this passage are: A.Christensen, Le premier chapitre du
Vendidad et l'histoire primitive des tribus iraniens, Copenhagen 1943, and G.
Gnoli "Avestan Geography" in the Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. 3.

Any other suggestions for basic topics and basic literature for the virtual
sattra in May?

Greetings, Jan Houben

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