Another study that can contribute to a more productive approach (which does not try to replace philological and historical study by "natural science") is
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 transformation;
- 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 <> 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.
(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: 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



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

On 27 January 2016 at 21:45, Tieken, H.J.H. <> 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 Tieken
Stationsweg 58
2515 BP Den Haag
The Netherlands
00 31 (0)70 2208127

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