Smear Campaign vs. M. Witzel (III) (fwd)

Walter Slaje slaje at T-ONLINE.DE
Tue Dec 27 16:33:00 UTC 2005

Part III 

There are three Hindu groups involved closely in
the California 
proceedings. We've said a bit about them in
previous posts, so here 
I'll just give the quickest of summaries: 

1. The VEDIC FOUNDATION in Texas. Their proposed
edits to California 
textbooks are the most ridiculous of all of them.
This is no wonder, 
given their views of ancient history, which have
it (in webpages now 
largely removed) that Indian civilization reaches
back 1,972 million 
years -- over 1.7 billion years before the age of

> From Internet Archives for one of their rapidly
disappearing webpages: 

(Don't miss this little gem if you haven't seen

For those of you who don't recognize the
significance of the 
standard Hindutva claim that 'Aryans' are
homegrown in India, please 
pay close attention to the first item on their
You Know" list! 

For the story of how this and other VF pages
disappeared down the 
seemingly bottomless Hindutva 'memory hole':

Valley. This is a much 
more politically oriented group than the VF. It
arose as a "project" of 
the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) (as noted in an
HSS webpage now only 
available to password holders, though as usual a
copy lives on in our 
files). The group was set up specifically for
projects like the 
California campaign. Its "Advisors" include
infamous Hindutva 
propagandists including S. Kalyanaraman and David
Frawley -- the latter 
the American adherent of "Vedic Astrology" and
"Out of India" 
theory who claims in his books that American
Indians came from India. 

Their list of advisors, for as long as this
webpage stays up: 

problematic of the 
groups, as I've repeatedly point, since their
public persona has it 
that they are a "Human Rights Organization"
representing 2 million (!) 
Hindu Americans. Please note that according to US
census figures this 
is far more than the total number of Indians
(Muslims, Dalits, and 
Tamils included) living in the US, let alone
conservative Hindus. 

You won't find a visible trace of Hindutva
anyplace on their webpage, 
but when you dig beneath the surface, you'll soon
find that the   
President of HAF, Mihir Meghani, has a long
history of links with the 
rightwing in India. See, e.g., his famous
manifesto from 1998 -- 
"Hindutva: The Great Nationalist Ideology" --
which is still found (at 
this minute, anyway) on the official BJP website
in India: 

Read this one carefully: it is another gem,
although not very funny. 
See also my discussion of HAF in a post earlier
this week, which cites 
legal threats (actually illegal harassment, under
California law) from 
the group received in the last few weeks:


Finally, for anyone not acquainted with Michael's
writings on Indology, 
see the following bibliography, where you can
download many of his 
works as PDF files:

For his personal homepage: 


-- Besides holding the Wales Chair in Sanskrit at
Harvard University, 
Michael was elected as a Fellow to the American
Academy of Arts and 
Sciences in 2003. 

-- He is the editor-in-chief of the Harvard
Oriental Series, the oldest 
continuous Western publication series in the
field, which first 
appeared in 1891. On HOS, see:

-- Michael is editor-in-chief of _Mother Tongue_,
one of the most 
innovative research journals devoted to
comparative and historical 
linguistics. He is also the editor-in-chief of
_Electronic Journal 
of Vedic Studies_, which has published a long
series of important 
studies in the past decade. 

Michael's own writings in the past several
have fundamentally 
altered the way that all of us, both in Indology
and comparative 
history (my field), have viewed ancient India in
particular and ancient 
history in general. One of the most influential
his studies appeared 
in a ground-breaking book that he edited in 1997,
_Inside and Outside 
the Texts: New Approaches to the Vedas_, which
contains major essays 
not only by Michael but by Joel Brereton, George
Cardona, Tatyana 
Elizarenkova, Harry Falk, Hans Henrich Hock, Asko
Parpola, Wilhelm Rau, 
and many others. Michael's essays in this volume
have fundamentally 
changed the way we picture historical data in
Vedic texts, and they 
have had a long lasting effect on my own
(The two of us are 
now extending part of this work in dimensions
reach far beyond 

Finally, it should be mentioned that the 1989
workshop that gave rise 
to _Inside and Outside the Texts_ grew eventually
into the increasingly 
important yearly Harvard Roundtables on the
Ethnogenisis of South and 
Central Asia, which is now entering its 8th year.
(This year's 
conference was held in Kyoto, Japan, and next
year's will again be held 
in Asia, at a very exciting location still not
publicly announced.) 

The Indo-Eurasian_Research List is an off-shoot
those Roundable 
meetings. Certainly no one who works through our
archives with any 
care, starting at the beginning, will end up
concluding that we are an 
"Internet hate List". 

Let me end on a personal notes: Michael Witzel is
one of the most 
intelligent, most humanistic, and also the very
funniest men I know. He 
is a wonderful collaborator to boot, and it has
been a privilege to 
work with him. 

The smear campaign aimed at him is obscene -- it
is the first word that 
comes to mind thinking about it-- and I hope and
expect that a lot of 
other people will speak out in his public

Steve Farmer 

Prof Dr Walter Slaje
Hermann-Loens-Str. 1
D-99425 Weimar (Germany)
Tel/Fax: +49-(0)3643 501391

Ego ex animi mei sententia spondeo ac polliceor
me studia humanitatis impigro labore culturum et
non sordidi lucri causa nec ad vanam captandam
sed quo magis veritas propagetur et lux eius, qua
humani generis continetur, clarius effulgeat.
Vindobonae, die XXI. mensis Novembris MCMLXXXIII.

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