Rig Vedic Racism

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at UNICE.FR
Wed Mar 25 07:33:50 UTC 1998

N. Ganesan ask:
>Have heard that Rig Veda has racial references.
>What are the verse numbers?
>Any papers/published references?
>>From hindutva/neohindu/marxist/IE-comparative/
>dravidian/dalit/or_whatever angles.
>In these kind of things, my tendency is to believe what people
>who got PhDs in the study of classical India say.

        Even without the PhD, I believe it's a problem to evoke racial
references in a language which don't had words to design a "race" in the
today's sense.
        anvayaH, kulaM, saMtAnaH, saMtati, vaMzAvalI, gotraM, jAti, vargaH
seem words for family, lineage, categories internal to a society, and I
don't have found Vedic references for any of them.
        Considering the more largest gaNa of the words zatruH, ariH,
vairin, dviS, &c. don't give nothing but hostility. "to hate the enemy"
don't is "to be racist".
        I don't have found any word with the meaning "people inferior
because having a different look"*. Hence this "racial references" are
perhaps nothing but an anachronical interpretation.
        In Greece, the word "barbaros" just means "not Greek-speaker" and
the Hesiod's myth of races lies in the diachrony, not in the synchrony; his
Indian equivalent is the theory of yugAH, the today's "iron race" being the
        Even with the animals, the differences between them are not
considered as "racial" but as "provenance". That's allways true today with
the geographical names of cats, dogs, cows, &c. and I suppose the notion of
"race" don't exist before Mendel.

* see recent debate on this list showing that "dark-skinned" don't is
pejorative nor "racial" in India.

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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