Indo-Aryan migration vs Indigenous origin - scholarly debate

Vaidix Vaidix at AOL.COM
Tue Mar 17 12:04:09 UTC 1998

Dear Mr Zydenbos

I find that the journalistic standards of many news paper reporters in the
west including some leading ones are not very great when it comes to reporting
about India.  These journalists always assume that their readers in the west
can not grasp and remember simple words like "Scheduled castes" of Indian
scoiety, and continue to use the incorrect "untouchables" (a word banished
from official Indian media long ago).  They even assume their readers do not
have memory and repeat known facts again and again wasting valuable newsprint.
When this is the standard of journalists, why talk of other writers?  Let us
take the core of their research discarding the presentation issues.

The term "revisionists" is not acceptable or even not respectable.  "Revision"
can go to any extent, meaning that some people can say Manu created the
universe.  One has to be specific when talking of revision.  Also the word
"revision" implies the "revisionists" are attacking an "established" theory.
Could you enlighten me what is that "established" one?  When was it
established?  AIT was just a proposal of 19th century interpreters.  We dont
have to stick to it 100% at any cost.  We can take the best of it and discard
what is doubtful.  Interpretation is not a mathematical equation.

I am one of the (leading) opponents of AIT but I agree with European/north
asian origin of sanskrit/RGveda and Indian arts despite all my notes on biases
of western scholars (my posturing was just meant to be tactical and temporary
for the purpose of discussion).  As for junk nobody wants this group to look
like the Anthropology news group.  That is what makes this group distinct.

Scholars and intellectuals are opinion leaders in any society.  They can not
afford to leave gaps that can lead to misunderstandings.  To give a recent
example, a science agency published a study of an asteroid possibly getting
too close to the earth in 2028.  Later NASA disproved it, and termed the
release of the news item as unprofessional.  NASA thought the matter must have
been thoroughly discussed before being disclosed to public.

Let me put on my sociology hat for a moment.  I believe "Indology" is a
generic term meant to study ancient and medieval India.  It must not be meant
"literary or linguistic" only.  Vivekananda's linguistic works may be third
rate but he had a great social impact equalling Adi zaGkara.  Terming him
racist shows that you did not really read his works.  I believe I read that
junk work about him which talked about his "third rate english" and even said
"people like him come to west for beef and easy women".  The book was meant
for exposing some Indian gurus.

Vivekananda was less of an original philosopher but more of a social reformer
and an inspiration for youth in popularizing upaniSats among Hindu society.
He was an extremist in some sense and sometimes even revolted against the
religious establishment, ate meat etc.  Historially speaking, he was also
trying to turn the tide against spread of Christianity.  At the universal
level he said all religions are equal and all people are equal, but when it
comes to social level he countered the other religions and societies which had
a low opinion about India (also because his ideas were not reciprocated by
other religious leaders).  By his own self admission he was not a philosopher
who can take adverse criticism of his religion.  Therefore It has to be
expected of him to be critical of other religions.  To criticise him is like
criticising a politician for having played politics.

He praised western societies, especially US as "karma bhoomi" and criticised
Indian society back home for having forgotten the virtue of work.  He wanted
west to take up India's best philosophical works, while India must adopt the
virtues of work and technology from the west.  To miss these points is one-
sided reporting.

For the west, Vivekananda's utility was third rate because the West which
usually looks for a new fad every decade forgot him quickly and went for newer
ones.  The East as always takes up the best of a person's teachings discarding
anything personal that is not upto standard.  The east always remembers the
best of a person forever and ignores the weaknesses while the west makes a
scandal of weaknesses and ignores the best.  Here again, I am not creating an
east-west divide, just talking sociology.

I do agree that eastern scholars routinely blame everything on British, Max
Muellers and Mc Caulays.  This is more of a rhetoric than racism or anti-
colonialism.  Let us also understand that colonialism and anti-colonialism
live together.  It is customery in India that whenever people have a problem
with local municipality in day to day matters like absense of street lights
they blame the British for handing down a red tape bereaucracy. You can not
call the whole society colonialist on that count.

The major weaknesses of AIT/AMT are 1.  The inflexibility of its time frames,
giving an impression of cramming every thing into 4000BC and 2.  Lack of
discussion of alternatives which is a prerequisite to any research work.  3.
Ignoring the latest scientific developments.

I am not the owner of this listsev, but I feel using words like "religous
right' etc is not appropriate in this listserv.  The words like
right/left/revisionists/colonialism being themselves narrow and stereotypic,
and of recent origin (coined at best a century or two ago), can not be used to
describe ancient and medieval societies when these phrases were not in use.  I
hope such phrases will be dropped in future.

If my note is not a part of scholarly debate, here are my apologies.

Bhadraiah Mallampalli

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