Saraswati: Atomic Scientists reconfirm location

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Mar 10 03:58:01 UTC 2000


> one mainstream Indologists from India complimented this work as
>"one of the best from India in recent years" while a Western Indologist
>heaved a sigh of relief and said that "at least there is one Indian who has
>written something that is not biased" (to paraphrase).And yet another
>mainstream Indologist thinks that Sarawati is in heaven, i.e., neither in
>India/Pakistan, nor in Afghanistan. Whereas some mainstream Indologists
>place the river in Afghanistan.

One track reasoning, comme l'habitude.

Why can a word (sarasvatii 'the female one having ponds/lakes') refer
(a) only to  *one* certain river?
(b) not also to a goddess?  (rivers are female in India....),
(c) and/or to a celestial phenomenon?

In this case to all the three.  See discussion (and drawings, maps) in "Sur
le chemin du ciel",  Bulletin des etudes indiennes, 2, 1984.

(As for the above statement, suddenly afraid to name names?  Looking
forward to another slew of 'panzer corps generals'...)

>The various postings under the thread .... will  publicize them in various
>forums of the laity and >the academia. The readers will then decide who
>amongst the various Indologists are genuine
>scholars ..., mediocre/intelligent academics who hold Eurocentric notions?

One can only hope that your readers will have the, etc. background necessary, and do not just
follow previous or present trendy theories. Otherwise, labour lost.
(And, of course, I will collect these data for future historical study... )

As a footnote, since now I believe that VA wants to classify me, by all
means, as Eurocentric, is it Eurocentric if I maintain that (small) groups
of local "BACTRIANS" or "Afghans" of the Hindukush area, speaking the local
language, behaving like local "Afghans", having the genetic make-up of
Bactria/Margiana/Afghanistan people of the mid-second millennium BCE
crossed over the Khyber/Bolan passes on their transhumance wanderings? And
became the *catalyst* of ensuing changes...(cf. also Ehret, Mallory). This
is not an 'invasion', hardly a migration, and NOT one by EUROPEANS but by
"Afghans'" (before their time) --
to put it facetiously:
some tribals got lost, took the wrong turn, and there you have your 'Aryan

They were not the first and have not been the last (Persians, Greeks,
Yue-ji/Tukhara/Kushana, Saka, 'Pahlava', Abhira?, Hephtalite Huns (huuNa),
Gurjara, to quote only the more prominent ones of the 1000 years we know
more about,  i.e. between c.  550 BCE and c. 600 CE., -- all in their own,
various, and very different ways.

The really interesting question here is:

Why is it that of all of these and the ensuing movements, just one, the
"Aryan"one (=Indo-Aryan, proto-Vedic), is NOT allowed these days?

The answer to *this* question is very revealing, as it is, of course, also
at the bottom of the present thread... Hence, the digression.

> The importance of science
>... I hope of a greater collaboration between
> the various fields of knowledge.



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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