Rajaram's bull

Lakshmi Srinivas lsrinivas at YAHOO.COM
Sat Aug 5 12:35:42 UTC 2000

Although I enjoyed the expose of Rajaram's techno
sleight of hand, I have had some trouble with some
posts in this thread.  I do apologize for this long

--- Luis Gonzalez-Reimann
<reimann at UCLINK4.BERKELEY.EDU> wrote:

> 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:

This strikes me as a somewhat naive statement of the
character of the current Hindutvavadi movement. It is
not clear if it has anything at all to do with
Brahmanical traditions and institutions. In fact I'm
confident that many of the leaders and their followers
wouldn't recognize a Brahmanical tradition if you
served it on a platter with bilvapatra around it.

Indeed the Hindutvavadi movement even in the heyday of
the Congress in the 50's and 60's was strongest among
the shopkeeper class in the northern parts of India.
In fact it still is.  The backbone of the BJP has
always been the bania's of northern India.

I suppose hindutva is more about grabbing power in a
changing political scenario than preserving any aspect
of an  older tradition.

I think the other thing about this post is that it
conflates political Hindutva and Hindutva of the
scholarly (or the would be scholarly) world. The
premises and modus operandi of the two are not
identical and sometimes can be in conflict with each

Political Hindutva rests on the plank that:

1. The last 7-9 centuries before Independence were a
dark age because outsiders came in and denuded the
country economically and intellectually.

Scholarly Hindutva would like to add few more points
to the above

2. The Hindus (and their ancestors, the "Aryans") are
autochthonous to the region.

3. The Hindus (and their ancestors, the "Aryans") were
an ancient and a high culture people.

As a consequence of (2) and (3), the Hindutva folks
are constrained to claim the IVC for themselves as
well as reject the notion that any cultural advances
may have been made in the "dark ages".

> 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."

Indeed British - Colonialist scholarship is a concern
for the Hindutvavadin scholars because of the crass
crudities of the Aryan invasion theory. As examples,
we have V Gordon Childe, a Marxist scholar and
Mortimer Wheeler, an archaeologist who held Indra
responsible for a few skeletons in MohenjoDaro. The
AIT and the uses to which it was put has been analyzed
in detail by T Trautmann, who is not a Hindutvavadin
by any stretch of imagination.

The OIT may be held to be a response to the AIT theory
from nationalist scholars of a particular hue. The
Hindutvavadin's have not yet internalized the AMT
(Aryan Migration) theory which is clear from their
pronouncements since they still get riled up by Max
Mueller etc but not by more modern scholars espousing
the AMT theory. I suppose these things take time.

But to be sure, the AMT theory has not been
internalized in the West either. Learned people still
quote Will Durant (a writer on western philosophy and
a sympathizer of the noble savage variant of the AIT)
approvingly as if he were some kind of an authority on
the subject. My daughter's 6th grade social studies
text (Novi School district, Michigan State) has on its
chapter on India, the AIT theory emblazoned across it
like the bunting of a long forgotten victory.

> 2. Indian Marxists.  In this case, note the negative
> connotation that the
> term "secular" acquires in many statements.

The erstwhile ruling Congress establishment always had
marxists as their ideologues. For example, Nehru's
official biographer belongs to the so called
progressive JNU school. The trouble which the
Hindutvavadi scholars have with the marxists of ICHR
and JNU has perhaps more to do with control of
academic institutions and privileges of government
patronage etc than any hard theories on the Aryans.
The marxist scholars themselves, for example, have had
no distinct theories on the AIT/AMT issues. They have
always been content to repeat the western theories on
these subjects. Perhaps on the ground that your
enemy's enemy is your friend.

On the political plane however, the Hindutvavadin's
have hardly had to bother with the Marxists because
the latter have always been bit players. And now they
are hardly there.

So it is not clear what LGR is trying to say.

Likewise, the following remarks are also not clear

> but the origins of the sAvitR mantra are still vedic
> (not Hindu)

A rather Judeo-Christian set of parentheses :-)

In another context, LGR says

> it is clear that some perceive indological ideas as
>  an attack on brahmins. (See, for instance, the
>  quotes in Palaniappan's message to this list etc

But there are gratuitous attacks on brahmins in the
garb of Indological ideas cf. my post in Indology
dated 7/28/00 on the thread "Jobless Hindu Gods". This
may be a good place to mention that political
Dravidianism, of which there is plenty in evidence on
this list, is the same kind of rabid disease as
Hindutva but more about it another time.

LGR's other remarks on "yugAnta" etc, imho, seem to be
a case of "Cherchez le Brahmin" mindset.

In this context, a quote by J.E.M Houben, in the same
thread, makes interesting reading: "The spread of
Sanskrit knowledge has been "democratized" [JH: at
least within the Hindu nation] instead of being
reserved for a religious elite, as in the past."

Elite, yes. Religious elite, I'm not so sure. At any
rate, the fellow travelers of Hindutvavadin's have
dabbled in nothing more serious than conversational
Sanskrit. You might want to look up the archives for
what this list thought of it.

Also, Buddhist Sanskrit or Jaina Sanskrit literature
were  neither brahminical nor necessarily written by
brahmins. Many kings have been writers incl Mahendra
Pallava etc.. The scholar K Kunjunni Raja speaks of
brahmins learning Sanskrit under non Brahmin teachers
in Kerala to steer clear of pronunciation
peculiarities inherited from the veda chanting

This kind of reminds me of some hilarious theories
floating around the list in recent times on the
supposed non-orality of the vedic transmission. Well,
it at least had the merit of getting the venerable
Staal to make an appearance on the list, even if thru
the mundane medium of a forwarded mail.

In conclusion, I'd agree with LGR that a scientific
background needs to be combined with some training in
the humanities just as every Indologist needs to do
some basic fieldwork.

Thanks and Warm Regards,


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