[INDOLOGY] DNA and caste

Jan E.M. Houben jemhouben at gmail.com
Thu Jan 28 10:48:33 UTC 2016

Another study that can contribute to a more productive approach (which does
not try to replace philological and historical study by "natural science")
*This Fissured Land: An Ecological History of India* (new, revised edition
appeared in 2013), by two Indian authors, Madhav Gadgil et Ramachandra Guha.
For a review of the first edition (1992) see:
We find in this book, inter alia:
- A theory to explain several features of the caste system (which,
according to the authors, has its origins in a large ecological
transformation in India in the period of about BC 700-500 AD; next big
transformation / ecological catastrophe: in the colonial period) (theory
which invokes neither God nor race nor genetics as an explanatory factor);
- An original reading and at the end, I believe, a convincing one, of some
passages in the Mahabharata as reflecting this ancient ecological
- A theory of ecological conditions for the emergence of Buddhism, 500 BC.
AD (relatively "egalitarian" religion, which, after 1500 years, disappeared
from India but continued in SE Asia and elsewhere);
- And (a sketch of an) analysis of the history of the world which should
interest both Marxists and anti-Marxists: more "materialistic" than Marx,
the analysis takes as starting point the *mode of resource use* (rather
than the *mode of economic production*).
Jan Houben

On 28 January 2016 at 11:26, Jan E.M. Houben <jemhouben at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks, Herman (and Chris?), for this reference.
> Both the study and the brief reactions so far confirm me in considering
> "genetics" only a parameter of secondary, derived importance depending on
> social inertia (which became stronger ca. 70 generations ago, i.e. ca. 350
> CE, that is, around the date of the final redaction of what is now known as
> the generalized (sarvaparsada) Manava Dharma Sastra or Manu Smriti).
> The real underlying parameter in the case of, for instance, the
> sufficiently attested spread of Vedic culture *within* the Indian
> subcontinent from 1700 BCE is to be understood in terms of memetics and
> memory culture.
> http://www.rle.ucpel.tche.br/index.php/rle/article/view/1089/783
> (I have a less complete version in English for those who do not read
> Portuguese.)
> Whether the same applies to the transmission of early Dravidian
> literature, I leave to Dravidologists to evaluate.
> Full of questionable attributions of labels, the DNA study of Basu et al.
> and the research of David Reich (cited e.g. here:
> http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/science/dna-deciphers-roots-of-modern-europeans.html?_r=0)
> who must obviously be happy with Basu et al., are conceptually as full of
> holes as Leerdam-cheese (or as a good piece of Emmental).
> It is over and again going through the whole discussion about Louis
> Dumont's Homo Hierarchicus (see for, in my view, a rich and balanced
> criticism: Richard Burghart's *Conditions of Listening*, ed. by C.J.
> Fuller and J. Spencer
> *). *
> Jan Houben
> *Jan E.M. HOUBEN*
> Directeur d’Études
> Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite
> *École Pratique des Hautes Études*
> *Sciences historiques et philologiques *
> 54, rue Saint-Jacques
> CS 20525 – 75005 Paris
> johannes.houben at ephe.sorbonne.fr
> https://ephe-sorbonne.academia.edu/JanEMHouben
> www.ephe.fr
> On 27 January 2016 at 21:45, Tieken, H.J.H. <
> H.J.H.Tieken at hum.leidenuniv.nl> wrote:
>> For those interested in DNA/genomics and castes in India, see the
>> attachment. I got the article from my eldest son, who works in the field of
>> bio-medical science.
>> Herman
>> PNAS-2016-Basu-1513197113.pdf‎ (979 kB‎)
>> <https://webmail.campus.leidenuniv.nl/owa/#>‎[In browser openen
>> <https://webmail.campus.leidenuniv.nl/owa/#>‎]
>> Herman Tieken
>> Stationsweg 58
>> 2515 BP Den Haag
>> The Netherlands
>> 00 31 (0)70 2208127
>> website: hermantieken.com
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