Rajaram's bull

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at UCLINK4.BERKELEY.EDU
Thu Aug 3 23:27:16 UTC 2000

I also must thank Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer for their careful work in
exposing the "problems" (to put it very politely) with Rajaram's alleged
script decipherment and horse seal.
Witzel is right about the need to make it clear, particularly to
non-specialists, that these claims have no serious academic backing even
though they are presented as "scientific" research (as a member of the list
has pointed out).  Books by Rajaram & Co. do have a wide audience even in
the U.S., where there is a large South Asian community.  If I am not
mistaken, the on-line debate on indigenous aryanism originally started on
RISA-L when Linda Hess asked for on-line comments after students at a South
Asia class at Stanford brought up the subject.

The whole phenomenon represented by Rajaram (and his "fellow travellers" as
L. M. Fosse put it) is very interesting, and I would like to make a few
"indological" observations.

Much of the current attack on "Western" Indology seems to be part of a
strategy that aims at defending Brahminical traditions and institutions
against a perceived menacing threat.  This threat, it would appear, is seen
as coming from two main flanks:

1. Foreigners (Muslim and British-colonialist).  Intellectually, however,
this foreign "threat" comes mainly from the discipline of Indology,
inasmuch as it does not align itself with some current nationalist ideas
about indigenous aryanism and the definition of what is or is not "Hindu."
2. Indian Marxists.  In this case, note the negative connotation that the
term "secular" acquires in many statements.

What I'd like to point out is the parallelism between this and the
situation during the last centuries BCE, when upholders of the Brahminical
dharma felt threatened by foreign invasions and by the development of local
non- or anti-Vedic ideas (Buddhism, Jainism, AjIvikas, CArvAkas, etc.).
This concern influenced the emergence of the idea of yugAnta, the end of
the yuga, a time when the varNAzrama dharma was considered to be in danger
and complaints were voiced against the mixture of classes (varNasaMkAra)
and overall moral decay.

The yugAnta explanation laid the blame squarely on mlecchas (foreigners)
and local nAstikas (non-believers/heretics).  Their appearance and
influence signaled the arrival of the terrible end of the (Kali) yuga.  The
MahAbhArata (AraNyakaparvan) concentrates more on the foreigners, while
some PurANas (such as the VAyu) attack the nAstikas.  According to the
texts, the situation will only be resolved with the arrival of Kalkin (a
Brahmin), ViSNu's avatAra, who will destroy mlecchas and nAstikas, and will
perform a Vedic horse sacrifice and preside over the restoration of dharma.

The current situation is not so different: the main offenders are again
considered to be the mlecchas (Western Indologists) and the nAstikas
(Indian Marxists).
Could this be the yugAnta?

Best wishes,

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann
University of California, Berkeley

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