Re: [TheHeathenInHisBlindness] Re: Orientalism and the Origin of the Aryan Invasion Theory
- For Usefulness of dictionaries:
To get rid of confusions about concepts, words and phenomena:
Educated Indians are selling this Indological commonsense that studying a
language of people is same as studying their culture. This is a theoretical
claim, which has received empirical translation by Indologists and those
who study India. For more on this, check "Some theses on colonial
consciousness", which is in this group's file section or that article can
be read here:
Also check "facts are facts of a theory":
For those who are enamored of philology, study this little article by Late
Check this short note by a linguist on philology: philology vs linguistics
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Thank you, gentlemen. You have successfully silenced me and my point about language without even addressing it, but poured a whole mess of irrelevance on me instead (and I'm sure you'll stand by it and prat about how it's relevant).
For the record, I am certainly a fan of the idea of decolonizing the social sciences. But I don't think any approach to it can neglect linguistics.
If your current theories pull you in one direction, linguistics will pull you in the opposite direction. Right now, you have taken the convenient path of neglecting linguistic evidence or making orthogonal observations about them. But linguistics will haunt you directly. I hope your theories survive then.
Thanks, and good bye. You have rendered dialog impossible between us.
--- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, vnr1995 <vnr1995@...> wrote:
> For Usefulness of dictionaries:
> To get rid of confusions about concepts, words and phenomena:
> Educated Indians are selling this Indological commonsense that studying a
> language of people is same as studying their culture. This is a theoretical
> claim, which has received empirical translation by Indologists and those
> who study India. For more on this, check "Some theses on colonial
> consciousness", which is in this group's file section or that article can
> be read here:
> Also check "facts are facts of a theory":
> For those who are enamored of philology, study this little article by Late
> Bill Harris:
> Check this short note by a linguist on philology: philology vs linguistics
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Dear Kiran,
Here is another attempt to engage with your point (with the covert
intention of retaining your presence and your questions in this forum!).
Different languages (and as you mentioned, its higher and lower units like
dialects, language families etc) denote different communities. If this is
true, then, according to you, it should be the case that there are an Aryan
People and a Dravidian People, since the linguistic evidence shows that
there are two distinct language families, Aryan and Dravidian.
This point (about languages and communities) seems like an innocuous
assumption. However, let us try and see if languages invariably denote
communities (of people). (Throughout this post I will stand with you in
believing that the linguistic fact is true and that there is no need to
doubt the existence of these and such language families.)
First, a methodological point: either it is the case that a) a language
'maketh' a people, or it is the case that b) a common language is a good
'clue' to the existence of a community of people.
Assumption (a), you will agree, is a nationalist tenet. For that tenet to
be true, a language has to bind a people into some form of a community by
something that it does: like creating a field of maximal understanding
between human beings. However, there is no *linguistic* evidence to prove
this point. It is at best an assumption about human psychology. Therefore,
in itself, simply the fact of the existence of languages or language
families cannot bring us to the deduction that there are linguistic
communities. This has to be proved by some other independent evidence. To
my limited knowledge, such a proof does not exist yet.
Assumption (b) implies this: If languages are the clue to the existence of
communities, then a community of people are not defined by the existence of
a language. The language only indicates the existence of a community. But
many other things can indicate the existence of a community too: a common
pantheon of Gods (like many �Hindus� and the ancient Greeks and Romans
shared), a common lineage (the jatis, kulas and gotras), a common ethnicity
(the many communities of Europe) etc. What is the incontrovertible evidence
to suggest that languages are the best clue? Here, again, there is none.
Supposing that languages are not the best clue, then, what is the
implication? According to that logic, many things can denote a community,
and in some contexts language denotes a community because that particular
community experiences itself predominantly as a linguistic community. Even
here, the existence of languages and language families in themselves cannot
bring us to say that there are linguistic communities.
It may be the case that some communities experience their �community-hood�
as linguistic and some others as probably �ethnic� and some others as
probably �kinship� and even others in completely different terms. Whatever
be the case with how communities experience themselves, it is the case that
linguistic families and languages in themselves are not proof for the
existence of linguistic communities.
Of course, in some completely formal sense of the term, one can continue to
hold that �a group of people speaking the same language shall be defined as
a linguistic community�. But such a formal definition does not help us see
important facts even within socio-linguistics, let alone in other domains
like culture, religion and spirituality, which, as your mail shows, are
part of your larger concern.
I hope this response will encourage you to continue to develop your
questions in this forum.
With best regards,
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- namo namah
--- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, "kiranbr.rm" <kiranbr@...> wrote:
> Thank you, gentlemen. You have successfully silenced me and my
> point about language without even addressing it, but poured a whole
> mess of irrelevance on me instead (and I'm sure you'll stand by it
> and prat about how it's relevant).
I agree with your emotions.
Have you done puurva paksha of this group? My attempt was to steer you towards that.
> For the record, I am certainly a fan of the idea of decolonizing
> the social sciences. But I don't think any approach to it can
> neglect linguistics.
We are not fanbois here.
> If your current theories pull you in one direction, linguistics
> will pull you in the opposite direction.
Obviously, as, it is certain that science and hence it's child 'linguistics' is relevant, meaningful and firmly embedded within christian theology.
This list is, in my miniscule understanding, discusses a far more encompassing issues like formation, validation and usage of theories, formation, of alternate framework which is beyond the conventional studies of the last few centuries emanating from europe based on a certain thread of the dichotomic thoght stream from the dreary deserts of middle east.
> Right now, you have taken the convenient path of neglecting
> linguistic evidence or making orthogonal observations about them.
Nobody is taking a convenient path of neglect.
Let me give you an analogy (albeit a weak one):
Your claim: Misal has traveled from from north to south. So misal has to be due to immigration as I have found one shop serving misal in Chennai. because the components of misal has immigrated from north to south.
Does that mean that the original mexican culture has migrated to India because chilli and potato, necessary ingrediants of misal, are from that land?
Idli has migrated to all over world. Rice and udad dal has been grown all over the world. Does that mean that South India has conqured the world?
> But linguistics will haunt you directly.
No issues. Nobody loses sleep over it.
> I hope your theories survive then.
Let them die. so be it. that is the essence of science: falsifiability
Please present your theory so that the scholarly members here (except me of course -- I am just a water-boy around here) can have a chance to express their views.
> Thanks, and good bye.
> You have rendered dialog impossible between us.
Your have chosen to run away from conversation.
Nobody on this list have done that. on the contrary, you have had many respondents on this list.
Ah, one point though: remember texas sharpshooter?
And oh again, that is a derivative of European logic.
I am investigating the nyaaya and navya nyaaya shaastra ans suutra to come up with some alternatives. Yes both are very heavy duty compared to the western 'logic'. Can you provide some inputs please?
aa no bhadraaH kratavo yantu vishvataH
- The standard story goes like this. Aryans invaded North or North Western
India. They brought three things: a language, a religion, a social
structure. Language = the parent of Vedic dialect(s); religion = the
ancestor of Vedic religion; social structure = some or another variant of
varna and/or caste system.
No one has denied declensoinal, conjugatoinal similarities between various
languages like Avesta, Old Persian, Latin, Greek, etc. Many generalizations
like Verner's law were born. To explain anomalies of these laws, other laws
came into being: Grimm's law. Even laryngeal hypothesis is like a set of
Philology, as a domain, is more of hermeneutics of texts, stone
inscriptions, etc (for more, check the earlier article by Harris on how
philology was taught in 1940s). This domain uses many background theories
as facts to come up with all stuff. The main ingredient that combines many
background theories this domain uses is historical explanations. Historical
explanations are plain ad hoc; check this article about the nature of
Lets digress a bit here and talk about the history of English language.
When you look at English orthography, esp vowels, it appears unsystematic
especially to foreigners. However, the great vowel shift (GVS) of English
long vowels gives a systematic description at a deeper level. This great
vowel shift has positive instances, but no confirmatory instances. In this
way, it is adhoc. However, GVS gives a better grip to predict modern
pronunciations: in that sense, it has a pragmatic value for second language
Just studying about the history of words does not tell much; that, because
both the sense and reference have shifted over the time. However,
sanskritists (both Indian and western) love hypothesizing about PIE words
for everything: from numbers to religion to caste, etc. Most of these guys
commit elementary mistakes when they want to produce knowledge about people
and culture, because they confuse the tertiary distinction between word
(sign), concept (meanings, category, sense), reference (object,
phenomenon). All those Hindu defenders confuse that distinction as well.
How does this labor of philology and its allied Indian studies affect
Balu's theory of religion, which drives the whole research program? Check
Caste system and native religions do not exist in India; that's the fact
for many members here (the opposite is true for the majority). The other
issue is: can India offer to contemporary world something that does not
exist in other cultures? The books on Indian science, Indian astronomy,
etc just tell us that India had offered something in the past; this past
contributions are irrelevant to the modern world: if you wanna construct a
new telescope, you dont a book on Indian astronomy. If we bring in Aryans,
these past contributions were also indirect contributions of Europeans
(Indo Europeans > Indo Iranians > Indo Aryans). In that sense, the west
does not need anything from India's past or present--in terms of human
However, if we follow the claims of this research group, native religions
don't exist and Indian traditions have contributed to human knowledge. And
this knowledge produced by Indian traditions is RELEVANT to the modern
world: relevant because they are superior to western counterparts. We can
ask this philological question: where are the traces of the knowledge of
Indian traditions being borrowed from Indo Iranians, Indo Europeans, given
that Indo Aryans or their descendants sought unification with brahman (the
All-soul, as Whitney says below).
Whitney from his Sanskrit grammar :"The evolution and historical relation
of the systems of philosophy, and the age of their text-books, are matters
on which much obscurity still rests. There are six systems of primary rank,
and reckoned as orthodox, although really standing in no accordance with
approved religious doctrines. All of them seek the same end, the
emancipation of the soul from the necessity of continuing its existence in
a succession of bodies, and its unification with the All-soul; but they
differ in regard to the means by which they seek to attain this end."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- In the Ramayana, the Ayodhyans, the Vanaras and the Rakshasas all speak the same language, but are different people. If that is too mythological for you, then consider the two nation theory that gave rise to Pakistan. A common language did not make one people of the Punjabis or Bengalis, for example.
India today has many languages, but the people have a unity.
- Dear Kiran,
First of all my sincere apologies for not replying to your post earlier. You raise a question that deserves an answer from our side, which you didn't get so far.
You are right to say that there are two language families in India and that the speakers of the respective languages within these families form linguistic communities. But it is wrong to say that these communities are necessarily isolated from each other, or that speakers of languages that belong the same language family belong or once belonged to the same people with a common religion and culture. It has been made abundantly clear that there is no necessary link between a language and a people and a religion.
But you are right to say that the Indo-Aryan languages are largely spoken by people living in the north of India and the Dravidian languages by people living in the south of India. You are also right to say that Dravidian languages contain linguistic influences of Sanskrit and that the texts of many Indian traditions are written in Sanskrit and have spread all over India. None of this, however, shows that there has been some form of an `upper-caste Aryan Migration' as you call it.
You say that it is very unlikely that language, religion and spirituality could have migrated from the north to the south without people physically migrating along with it. Why do you think this is unlikely? We know, for instance, that Sanskrit not only spread all over India, but also over the whole of Asia and this in a period of only 50 years without any migration of people or conquest taking place. Unfortunately, at this moment, we don't have any theories about the spread of languages that are able to explain this fact. But it does show that it is possible for languages to spread without any migration of people taking place.
Moreover, the theories that do exist about the migration of languages are only about the spread of mother tongues, languages that are spoken for daily communication. So far, I have not found any theories about the spread of languages that are used for certain domains of life, such as literary languages, academic languages, computer languages, etc. The important aspect to take into account in the case of the spread of Sanskrit is that this language has never been a mother tongue of any specific group and that it was developed specifically to transmit the traditions that developed in India at a certain period of time. Sanskrit was never tied to any specific region or people. It is true that this language belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family and hence it is likely that it was developed by people that spoke languages that belonged to this family (different IA languages have been identified as the basis for Sanskrit), but it is as likely that these people lived closely together with people that spoke Dravidian and other non-IA languages and that Sanskrit was not developed by people from a specific language community. Sanskrit contains not only elements of different IA languages, but also of many languages that are not IA.
You also mention the fact that the language of south Indian Brahmins contains more IA elements than the languages of so called lower castes. This could be true, but does not show a Brahminical Aryan migration to the south either. It could show that Sanskrit plays a bigger role in the lives of Brahmins than in the lives of other groups. It does not show that all Brahmins originally belonged to IA language communities.
I hope this answers your questions a little bit. If you are interested in reading more about this topic, I have written a text where I analyse the main arguments in the debate about the Aryan Invasion/Migration Theory. I will upload it in the files section of this board.
--- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, "kiranbr.rm" <kiranbr@...> wrote:
> Dear Marianne & Jakob,
> I was looking for any linguistics work in your group (because I think it is crucial to the social sciences), and I was fortunate to have stumbled upon this well-researched and well-written paper of yours. I will comment on it even though it is somewhat dated - I am not sure if you have written a follow-up.
> To my satisfaction, and despite where you say this paper is leading in response to Arun below, I see that you do not deny the existence of an Indo-Aryan - Dravidian divide in India's languages.
> If you take one more step and accept that divide as real (as the linguistic evidence suggests) and consider it as an important input, I think it is trivial to conclude that the speakers of these language families must have belonged to groups isolated from each other. These groups are called races for better or worse, and it is not at all unlikely for them to have developed cultures and religions or religious practices of their own.
> Linguistic evidence shows, further, that there is a reasonably heavy influence of Sanskrit on the dialects of upper-caste Dravidian speakers, that on the Brahmin dialects (and consequently on writing) being the most. The influence on the dialects of the lower-castes is glaringly less in comparison. Also, there is no significant influence of Dravidian languages on upper-caste Indo-Aryan speakers or on Indo-Aryan (i.e., mostly Sanskrit) writing.
> Therefore, one can say that there is significant 'migration' of linguistic aspects (alphabets, words and even grammar) from the north to the south, and no significant 'migration' from the south to the north.
> Next, a 'migration' of religion and spirituality from the north to the south is more than obvious due to the language used in 'Hindu' religious and spiritual texts: Sanskrit. Even here, there is no significant 'migration' from the south to the north, except that of a few rather recent individual (and admittedly important and exemplary) saints such as Adi Shankara.
> Now, the question is whether language, religion and spirituality could have 'migrated' from the north to the south without people physically migrating from the north to the south. Answer: very unlikely. Therefore, if we give linguistic evidence the respect it deserves, I think we will have to accept some form of upper-caste Aryan Migration (at least into South India) as a fact.
> The question remains as to whether the castes of South India were spawned by this migration. This is a difficult question to answer, but GS Ghurye's 'Caste and Race in India' provides a very strong case for it.
> I am aware that I am not making any claims about an Aryan Migration from outside India into north India, but I don't think I have to. My concern is limited to Karnataka. I think that is a valid constraint to impose on oneself even today, although Indian nationalists would like us to believe otherwise.
> --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, "marianne.keppens" <marianne.keppens@> wrote:
> > Dear Arun,
> > Thank you for your response. You rightly wonder where this research leads to. We are indeed not interested in it as a historical curiosity.
> > I completely agree with you that it does not matter how a theory came into being as long as it is sustained by evidence and clarifies aspects of the world we live in. However, there are serious reasons to doubt whether this is so in the case of the Aryan Invasion or Immigration Theory.
> > The current literature about the Aryans and their migrations shows that the AIT/AMT is not as unproblematic or sustained by evidence as you seem to think. Of course, as I am not a Sanskritist, I am in no position to challenge the scientificity of the linguistic studies Witzel has done and I have no intention of doing so. However, I can say that when it comes to Witzel's and others' claims about the history of the Indian people and culture that there once was an Aryan people, that had a Vedic religion, Sanskrit as its language, an ideology that structured society and imposed all of this on the indigenous population of India when they arrived there these are not supported by the evidence he provides. The problem arises when scholars like Witzel link the linguistic facts about the Indo-Aryan languages to a people with a particular culture and religion.
> > As you yourself say: " the Rg Veda is not the record of an immigrating community,but was composed many centuries after IndoEuropean languages entered India; and secondly it was the record of only one of the many IE peoples in India." If this is true then this seriously challenges the foundation for theses that link the dispersal of the Indo-Aryan languages to the migrations of a people and culture (be it from or to India).
> > If we look at the literature about the Aryans we see that many scholars indeed struggle to link the available facts about India's past to claims about the culture, people and society at that time. This has brought many to conclude that 'the Aryans' only refers to a linguistic group, or to a cultural group which cannot be linked to a specific language, or to the followers of the Vedas but then without linking this to a culture or without making claims about the role these played in society, etc. Yet, at the same time the notion of the Aryans as a the people that had Sanskrit as their language and Vedism as their religion and ideology, remains unchallenged. The existence of such an Aryan people remains the starting point of most descriptions and studies of the development of the Indian culture.
> > So, in order to see whether Witzel's proof or evidence for an Aryan immigration is scientifically valid or not we need to take a closer look at the notion of the Aryans. That is, at the relation between the Vedas and a people with a particular culture, religion and language. We are currently working on an analysis of the contemporary literature on the Aryans to see whether there is any evidence for such a link. If not, then it becomes relevant to look at the development of the idea of the Aryans and their role in the development of the Indian culture. The article we uploaded takes a first step in doing this. We try to show that the fundamental theoretical outlines of the Aryan Invasion theory reflects the European cultural experience of India rather than any scientific or empirical research into the Indian past. We further argue that these theoretical outlines are Christian theological in nature. A lot more research needs to be done on this. Amongst other things about the relation between the notion of an Aryan people and the caste system.
> > With regard to 'problematizing the caste theory' the question should be 'which theory'?. The claim that there exists a caste system in India can hardly be called a theory. At the moment there exists no single theory that shows that there is such a system and how it works. The fieldwork results of the Centre for the Study of Local Cultures moreover show that at least in Karnataka no system exists that hierarchically divides society with the Brahmins on top.
> > I hope this clarifies the aim of the article.
> > Yours
> > Marianne
> > --- In TheHeathenInHisBlindness@yahoogroups.com, "Arun" <macgupta123@> wrote:
> > >
> > > Hi Marianne, Jakob:
> > >
> > > That the Aryan Invasion theory (AIT) preceded any real evidence of any significant incursion of Sanskrit-bearing people into India is very interesting!
> > >
> > > However, a Sanskritist like M. Witzel or his associate S. Farmer would say, so what? What matter is what the evidence today says.
> > >
> > > Since I don't expect that you're interested in this just as a historical curiosity, nor do I think that you want to examine the origin of Indo-European languages or their chronology in India, I have to guess that the purpose of this study is to examine how the idea of an invasion fed into the description of caste in India.
> > >
> > > Again, the objection that will be raised is that it hardly matters how a description or theory was arrived at; what matters is whether the description or theory is valid. Unless you sufficiently problematize the caste theory, examining its origins may not get you very far. Certainly the amount of information available is rather small.
> > >
> > > I'm certainly interested in where this research leads you. In my very unexpert opinion, I think perhaps one possibility that the AIT/Out of India divide tends to overlook is that the Rg Veda is not the record of an immigrating community, but was composed many centuries after IndoEuropean languages entered India; and secondly it was the record of only one of the many IE peoples in India. I do not know how that will play into any reexamination of the origins of the actual social set up that is described as caste.
> > >
> > > Best wishes,
> > > -Arun
> > >
- Here is an interesting news..."Scientists found neatly stacked fossils of 21 mammals, out of which 20 are present in modern-day India. They include the jungle cat, leopard, mongoose, dog, fox, langur, horse, rhinoceros, rabbit, porcupine, wild boar and the hedgehog." http://www.deccanherald.com/content/398785/indian-animal-kingdom-just-same.html"It has often been pointed out that the complete absence of the horse among the animals so prominently featured on the Indus seals is good evidence for the Non-Aryan character of the Indus Civilization." (http://www.harappa.com/script/maha3.html)As a reader notes in his comment (at the bottom of the article), this latest "Findings of horse skeleton makes it very interesting. Some of our Western Vedic Critics here have always argue that the horse came from Central Asia even though..."