Aryan Panzers (pt. 2)

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Sun Feb 13 15:07:45 UTC 2000

Here come the amusing attacks:

(f) TAREK WANI: Fri, 11 Feb 2000

> A slavish devotion to philology's 19th century models and a sense of
>has created not only wonders such as Witzel's panzer divisions

The above message contains, of course, an ethnic slur. I have never written
about Vedic "panzer divisions" -- Varus,  give me back my divisions!  Note
the nice shift from my (in speech marks) *"tank"* to *panzer divisions*...

And, 19th cent. models?  Who ? --- Evidence, please...

(g) S. SUBAAHMANYA:  Fri, 11 Feb 2000

>>that is why Indology has had Aryan noses, Aryan languages and
now Witzel has 'managed' to find Aryan chariot panzers <<

So, there are no Aryan languages? Just a primordial Prakrit (which is
supposed to include Dravidian!!) of 4-5000 years ago, as some (in India or
of Indian descent in the US) now  maintain???

Note, again, "tank" > chariot panzers

(h) VISHAL AGARWAL  Fri, 11 Feb 2000

>> Of course, the Max Muellers ... and Witzels are free to conjure images
>>of fair skinned Kashmiri/Irani/Kashmiri looking IE speakers hurtling down
>>the Khyber on the chariots and overwhelming the proto Mundas or the Para
>>Mundas <<

Of course, I never wrote that fair skinned (who is obsessed here??)
Indo-Europeans (!)  crossed the Khyber on their chariots. Very sloppy
reporting. Nor of Indo-Aryans 'overwhelming' the Para-Mundas. See above on
*rather long period of acculturation.*  Misrepresentation, or  wishful
thinking about what I might have written to fit the imagined 19th c.

It seems V.A. was thinking of the sturdy (and historically wrong) Amar
Citra Kala chariots??
Maybe, the Proto-IA used, in addition to pack animals and the *anas* (heavy
wagon), perhaps even the cross-country *vipatha* carts -- if their
trans-humance trail was good enough for passage.


All of the above is a long way from  my  *new technology of the Vedic
"tank", the horse-drawn chariot,* isn't it??

Sloppiness, misrepresentation, rhetorics, emotions, and politics....

Note, after all, my speech marks. Any half-way intelligent or good-willed
reader will recognize that this is a simile!

For  reactions to new weaponry, think, e.g.,  of the not-so-amused reaction
to the first tanks in France in 1917, or of the reaction of the Incas to
the new six-legged, iron-clad Kentauroi, the Spanish,  or think of the
well-documented quick adaptation of chariots in the Near East during the
first half of the second mill. BCE.   Why? For fun?  --  It was useful for
royal status/representation AND for military purposes.

I invite Messrs.  Wani, Subrahmanya, Agarwal, et al.,  to stand still and
hold their position  in front of quickly approaching (modern) horse race
'chariots', or in front of a line of police on horseback (even without
Lathi charge), and then report back to the list ...  if they are able to do
so after this little experiment.

In sum, (intentionally?) sloppy reporting, emotional reactions, and good
revisionist politics, but not even revisionist scholarship, except for Rao
who tried ...  (Incidentally, no insinuation but fact,  V. Agarwal is
indeed closely allied to the BJP, as he *himself* told me. His uncles hold
important positions there).

Apparently, I have stepped, with one little simile, on the raw nerves of
some people following the present fashion of denying any outside influence
on Archaic India/South Asia (-- a century ago, Tilak thought differently).
So be it. I will change my mind if they will be able to show that
(Indo-European --> Indo-Iranian --> )   Proto-Indo-Aryan language *and*
spiritual/material culture developed inside the  subcontinent. Good

They will have to do their homework first.  I expect to see the results ...
a decade or two  from now, and with negative outcome.

In sum:

*Readers of INDOLOGY beware of any of the writings of the above mentioned
on this list!*

End of 'Politics and Rhetorics 101'.

Michael Witzel
Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138

ph. 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:
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