Klostermaier's Vedic civilization

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Oct 27 02:24:36 UTC 2000

> When I see a professor emeritus
>from the University of Manitoba described as not "mainstream", I
>wonder if Prof. Witzel's idea of the main stream is a very narrow
>stream after all.

        The mainstream is always in the eye of the swimmer...

K.Klostermaier (now Cambridge, UK?)  was deliberatedly described as such.
Consider the following quotes from his long, laudatory introduction to:

        NS. Rajaram & D. Frawley [sorry: 'Vamadeva Sastri'], Vedic Aryans
and the Origins of Civilization. 2nd ed., New Delhi 1997:

""It will not be possible to brush aside this book as the wishful thinking
of Hindu-Chauvinists...
Massive evidence available today (from archaeology, geology, satellite
photography, and a more adequate understanding of ancient literary
documents) disproves most of the assumptions ... on which ... the
chronology of early Indian literature was based...
It is a most welcome development to see scientists [i.e. Rajaram?] with a
wide variety of backgrounds entering a field that so far has been worked
over only by philologists [factually wrong!]  ...
... a need to rewrite the early history of civilization...
[and best of all: ]
The facts referred to in this book are incontrovertible. The conclusions
drawn have a  high degree of plausibility. Consequently, the  implications
are nothing less than sensational.....
Rajaram and Frawley are true pioneers blazing new trails. ""

Question: trails whereto?  "Holzwege", more likely.

If one chooses such words (more than page long) to back up a book that
finds the origin of human civilization in "Vedic India" at 8000 BCE,  --
the Vrtra myth describing the end of the Ice age at 8000 BC(!) and with
3100 BCE as the end of the Vedic age  -- where do you stand, float or swim

Read Rajaram & Frawley p. 247:
"on the basis of archaeology, satellite photography, metallurgy and ancient
mathematics it is now clear that there existed a great civiliziation -- a
mainly spiritual civilization perhaps -- before the rise of Egypt, Sumeria
and the Indus Valley, the heartland of this ancient world was the region
from the Indus to the Ganga -- the land of the Vedic Aryans. [They were]
part of a great civilization... before the dawn of civilizations."

Sounds as scientific as Lemuria, Mu, or Atlantis to me:
8000 BC, of course, is just at the beginning of agriculture in the Near
East, and more than 1000 years too early for Baluchistan/S.Asia; and, the
*iron* age, Brahmana texts cannot be dated  (a la Kak) at 2300/2900 BCE
becaue of some astronomical observation; for more on this see EJVS 1999).

In short: a great civilization of "Vedic" hunters and gatherers, indeed!
The book has, of course, all the other trappings of the "Out of India" theory.

Someone, like Klostermaier, who hails all of this -- beyond the hesitant,
often avoided, "I look forward to reading your ... highly interesting,
innovative, thought provoking... book", as :

"highly plausible"  --- where does he place himself?   On the very fringe.
Who *forced* him to write this?    Not the RCMP, I suppose...

He should have taken a lesson from Mahatma Gandhi, and I quote from memory,
who wrote to Chaman Lal about his phantastic (!!) book "Hindu America"
(Maya from India...), in 1944 or so:

"Dear Chaman Lal, thank you for your book. I have not yet found the time to
read it... *If* your conclusions are correct, this would indeed be a the
great contribution to research! "

Let's emulate Gandhiji!

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

ph. 1- 617-496 2990 (also messages)
home page:  http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm

Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:  http://www1.shore.net/~india/ejvs

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