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April Fool's prolongued : "Vedic Harappan" Rajaram at MIT, April 10

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  • Michael Witzel
    Happy April Fools Day! ... For Dummies. This year we are treated to a special: the infamous N.S. Harappan horse Rajaram will give a lecture at the
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 1, 2010
      Happy April Fools Day! ... For Dummies.

      This year we are treated to a special: the infamous N.S. "Harappan
      horse" Rajaram will give a "lecture" at the Massachusetts Institute
      of Technology, of all places, on April 10.

      Those of you in the Boston area who want to have some fun (and have
      the stamina) should come down to MIT, room 4-237; April 10, 4-6
      p.m., followed by discussion. See: http://whereis.mit.edu/?go=4

      Two "cultural" organizations at MIT, MIT Samskritam and Samskrita
      Bharati, have invited him. He is spending some time this spring at
      U.Massachusetts, Darthmouth, where we had that infamous Hindutva
      jamboree in the Summer of 2006.

      Summary:
      VEDIC HARAPPANS: AN ENIGMA NO LONGER
      Harappan archaeology represents the material side of the civilization
      that created the Vedic civilization. It came at the end of a long
      maritime phase going back to the end of the Ice Age.

      Sure: Neolithic hunters and gatherers having nothing better to do
      than traveling the swollen postglacial rivers, on their floats, down
      to the sea...

      --------

      This spring, starting with Vasanta Pancami, has seen a flurry of
      Hindutva activities, such as our f(r)iend Vishal Agarwal's agitation
      against W. Doniger's new Penguin book on Hinduism. It has gathered,
      over the past month, some 9200 signatures in the US and India ---
      out of some 1.2 billion Indians... So far only some 15-20 non-Indians
      have signed on. <http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?
      dharma10&1>

      Now the octogenerian B.B. Lal has published another 150 pp. book
      (instead of long outstanding excavation reports!), and so did the
      French journalist & Hindutvavadin Danino:

      B.B. Lal, How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology
      Answers, Dr. . Aryan Books International

      Michel Danino, The Lost River, on the trail of the Sarasvati. Penguin
      India. pp. 368.
      http://www.penguinbooksindia.com/category/Non_Fiction/
      The_Lost_River_9780143068648.aspx

      Penguin apparently wants to be on both sides of the "dispute".

      -------

      Rajaram follows, of course, the track of another (American)
      Hindutvavadin, the Astrologist and "Veda specialist" David Frawley:

      Quote Rajaram's lecture blurb:

      "Ever since archaeologists unearthed the Harappan civilization nearly
      a century ago, scholars have sought to keep it separate from the
      Vedic literature and culture. This has resulted in the paradox of a
      history without literature for the Harappans and a literature without
      history for the Vedic Aryans. Following the collapse of the �Aryan
      invasion� version of history, and recent findings in natural history
      and genetics, it is possible to identify the Harappans as belonging
      to the late Vedic Age. Harappan civilization was the twilight of the
      Vedic Age and broke up due to ecological degradation including the
      drying up of the Sarasvati River.
      Natural history further allows us to trace the origins of the Vedic
      civilization to the maritime world of the end of the last Ice Age.
      Harappan iconography is full of Vedic symbols. The presentation will
      highlight the Harappan symbolism and its connections with the Vedic
      and other ancient literature. The presentation will also indicate
      important areas for research, which, however, requires dropping old
      dogmas and a readiness to use multidisciplinary approaches based on
      science, literature as well as combining ancient and modern metaphysics.


      Dr. Navaratna S. Rajaram is a mathematical scientist who after more
      than twenty years as an academic and industrial researcher turned his
      attention to history and history of science. He has authored several
      acclaimed books on ancient history including Sarasvati River and the
      Vedic Civilization, Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization (w/
      David Frawley); and The Deciphered Indus Script (w/ Natwar Jha). He
      is best known for showing the connections between Vedic Mathematics
      and Indus archaeology and proposing a decipherment of the 5000 year
      old Indus script jointly with the late Natwar Jha. He is currently
      visiting the University of Massachusetts Center for Indic Studies at
      Dartmouth. "


      "acclaimed books" ??

      Happy & prolonged April Fools Days!

      Michael

      ============
      Michael Witzel
      witzel@...
      <www.fas.harvard.edu/~witzel/mwpage.htm>

      Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
      1 Bow Street,
      Cambridge MA 02138, USA

      phone: 1- 617 - 495 3295, 496 8570, fax 617 - 496 8571;
      my direct line: 617- 496 2990






      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • FRITS STAAL
      One thing at least should be made clear: Organizations by people who may be associated with MIT in any capacity - from sweepers to professors - can have their
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 1, 2010
        One thing at least should be made clear:

        Organizations by people who may be associated with MIT in any capacity -
        from sweepers to professors - can have their meetings and rooms are
        generally available there (perhaps especially around easter);

        but those are not meetings organized by a department or laboratory or
        similar unit at MIT, let alone by MIT.

        Frits Staal
        http://philosophy.berkeley.edu/staal
      • Steve Farmer
        ... Story in today s NY Times appropriately subtitled On the Internet, every day is April Fools Day : http://tinyurl.com/ybbpfcs There is a problem that no
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 1, 2010
          Michael wrote:

          > Happy April Fools Day! ... For Dummies.
          >
          > This year we are treated to a special: the infamous N.S. "Harappan
          > horse" Rajaram will give a "lecture" at the Massachusetts Institute
          > of Technology, of all places, on April 10....
          >
          > Summary:
          > VEDIC HARAPPANS: AN ENIGMA NO LONGER
          > Harappan archaeology represents the material side of the civilization
          > that created the Vedic civilization. It came at the end of a long
          > maritime phase going back to the end of the Ice Age....

          Story in today's NY Times appropriately subtitled "On the Internet,
          every day is April Fools' Day":

          http://tinyurl.com/ybbpfcs

          There is a problem that no one anticipated when Internet first began
          -- and one that researchers in cultural modeling are currently struggling
          with.

          Over the last few millennia, each major innovation in communications
          that has affected culture -- movements from oral to written language, from
          writing on durable materials (e.g. clay) to lightweight ones, from
          writing on scrolls or wooden slips or similar materials to
          manuscripts, from manuscripts to printed books, from printed books to
          radio, then television, then cell phones and Internet, etc. -- can be
          correlated with major phase transitions in culture, as changes have
          occurred in the ways that information stores are recorded in
          brain-culture networks and are passed on to later generations.

          The cultural simulations we have been building the last year exploit this
          idea by using rates of information flows as tuning parameters in
          modeling how traditions evolve over time. Those simulations are
          proving useful in studying how competing traditional religious and
          ethical systems have emerged globally over long periods.

          What was unanticipated when Internet first arrived on a large scale in
          the 90s, when people still spoke glowingly of "world wide information
          highways" and future "global mergers of cultures", was that
          cultural data now can move so quickly that our ability to integrate
          those data critically is becoming severely compromised.

          One paradoxical result of this, as competition for readers (and
          watchers) intensifies, is that the ratio of low- to high-quality
          information -- metaphorically, the information chaff/wheat ratio -- is
          rising at an unprecedented rate. The result is that you can't predict
          that all the terrific information now potentially available at our desktops will
          win out in the long run against the misinformation. The
          World Wide Web is becoming a World Wide Sewer, in which the glut of bad
          information makes it increasingly difficult to discriminate good from
          bad data. One result of this is that there is a tendency for large numbers
          of people to instinctively pull back into their parochial comfort zones,
          where they find emotional safety. And instead of emerging shared
          values, anticipated by many people not so long ago, the future may
          instead see new revivals of fundamentalism and political extremism,
          both in developed and so-called undeveloped countries.

          Everyone I know who studies how information flows affect culture is
          currently struggling with this problem, and no one knows how to solve
          it. There are interesting parallels here with Adam Smith's so-called
          "Invisible Hand," at least as interpreted by classical free market
          advocates like Milton Freeman, who claimed that if you just left
          economic markets alone the whole world would automatically benefit [<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_hand>].

          That view proved to be wrong in economics, as the scale of recent
          global booms and busts confirms, and is proving to be wrong in the
          information world as well. The fact is someone is always filtering
          information -- the problems here aren't fundamentally different
          whether the filtering comes from Google (where crass commercial
          interests dominate the filtering, leading to our current glut
          of junk information), or Fox News (the most dominant news source,
          from the far right, in the US), or the Chinese government (where
          similar political interests dominate).

          I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that the idea that
          putative "free flows of information" will lead to a better world are not
          proving so far to be correct, simply because of the rising chaff/wheat
          information ratio, which wasn't a significant factor in previous periods
          of history in which new information channels emerged.

          The end result may not just be an April Fools' joke, given the ease of
          dissemination and increasing miniaturization of globally destructive
          technologies. I think much these days, as I know others working in the
          field of cultural modeling are too, of more dire solutions to Fermi's
          paradox, which claim that, paradoxically, eventually intelligent life
          is doomed to destroy itself when its technological powers reach a
          certain level:

          http://tinyurl.com/yd97ch7

          See the analysis of Nick Bostrom, from Oxford U., who deals with
          some of these problems:

          http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html

          Steve
        • deodolo
          ... Hi Steve, I do not think, that the recents global booms and busts uncredit Adam Smith s Invisible Hand. To remind you, the last bust was organized by
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 2, 2010
            Steve Farmer wrote:

            > ... There are interesting parallels here with Adam Smith's so-called
            > "Invisible Hand," at least as interpreted by classical free market
            > advocates like Milton Freeman, who claimed that if you just left
            > economic markets alone the whole world would automatically benefit [<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_hand>].
            >
            > That view proved to be wrong in economics, as the scale of recent
            > global booms and busts confirms, and is proving to be wrong in the
            > information world as well. The fact is someone is always filtering
            > information -- the problems here aren't fundamentally different
            > whether the filtering comes from Google (where crass commercial
            > interests dominate the filtering, leading to our current glut
            > of junk information), or Fox News (the most dominant news source,
            > from the far right, in the US), or the Chinese government (where
            > similar political interests dominate).
            >
            > I don't know what the solution is, but I do know that the idea that
            > putative "free flows of information" will lead to a better world are not
            > proving so far to be correct, simply because of the rising chaff/wheat
            > information ratio, which wasn't a significant factor in previous periods
            > of history in which new information channels emerged.

            Hi Steve,


            I do not think, that the recents global booms and busts uncredit Adam Smith's Invisible Hand. To remind you, the last bust was organized by politicans and the Fed by cheap money, "quantitive easing" etc esp. in the States, to get everybody who coud not afford it a home. Ben Bernanke, aka "Helicopter Ben", is on record saying, that there is a money printing press and they could actually print as much as they like at essentialy no cost (today it is in fact just the enter key for a booking entry) and dump it from helicopters onto the people. That is what they actually did, starting under the Clinton
            and Greenspann, except for the helicopter thing. Whereever you look into the history of bubbles and bust you find very heavy involvment of regualting authorities. On the ohter hand, I do not believe in the intelligence of a fish swarm, more on his sound instinct.

            So, why should there be a "better world" after the invention of the web, there wasn't any after the invention of the script, printing press, tv etc, but after some time new cultural qualities emerged almost automatically by these new communication technologies.
            And as long I can by-pass any filters on the internet - and this is much easier than bevor with the gate-keepers of newspapers, journals of all kind, tv redactions and so on - it is a tremendous data- and knowledge mine.

            That is interesting enough. For the rest: mundus vult decipi.
            If you think of all the lies and scams and propaganda by public speeches, (holy) books, newpapers, flyers, films etc, what's new? Everyday is a Fool`s Day. Now you can reach to them in millions by one mail. And they most probably would get hurt less,(may be computer disorder may be some change lost) than e.g believing in the Spanish inquisition or war propaganda. In comparison the Harrapan Horse is an amusing animal only to come by through the internet.

            My solution would be: let it flow.

            Cheers Rainer
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