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Western Indologists
<!--emo&:beer--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/cheers.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='cheers.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Colonial Indology: Sociopolitics of the Ancient Indian Past

by Dilip K. Chakrabarti

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Deservedly, Rajiv's article has appalled the readers: horror,
indignation, anger and bewilderment at the RISA *lila*. However, after
expressing the initial indignation, one has to get down to the serious
business of initiating a more thorough discussion. E-boards are not
the best places for a focussed discussion, I know: people have a
tendency to respond to fragments of the posts, or to those parts that
incite or interest them the most, so that the `discussion' tends to
lead a life of its own. But with some understanding, some amount of
good will and some patience, I am sure, we can keep the discussion

I want to raise three issues: (a) how to analyse what Rajiv portrays;
(b) depending on that, what an adequate response consists of. Before
we do either (this is one of the things I have discovered through my
own research during the last two decades), we need to be clear about
© how we *should not* analyse the situation that Rajiv has sketched.
Given that all three (in their general form) have been my obsessions,
I have been reflecting on them deeply, seriously and systematically
for some time now. I would like to share some of the results of this
reflection with you. This will be a multi-part post: depending on the
*kind* of responses elicited by the first part of the mail, I will
decide whether to go ahead or desist. In this first part, I will take
a (rather slow) run up to tackling the third issue first. And even
here, I look at RISA *lila* as an exemplification of a more general
issue or as an _expression of a much broader tendency.

Perhaps, it is best to begin in an autobiographical mode. I came to
(continental) Europe some 25 years ago, naively thinking that
`cultural difference' is something that `cosmopolitan' Indians would
not experience: after all, I had studied Natural Sciences in India;
knew English rather well; was more familiar with the British and
European history than I was with that of India (I once had plans to
join the IAS by doing exams on these subjects); felt right at home
with the western philosophy … It took me about 4 years of living in
Europe, without relating to any Indian (or even Asian) community
because I did not want to land up in an emotional and social ghetto,
to realise that I was wrong: `cultural differences' were no fictitious
invention of anthropologists; it involved more than being a vegetarian
or being barefoot at home when the weather was not too cold. This
realisation was instrumental in shaping my research project: what
makes the Indian culture different from that of the West? (I never
felt anything other than an Indian amongst the Europeans.)

I began to research this issue with some vague hunches and intuitions
as my reference points: there was no literature to guide me in my
endeavour. Of course, the first fields I went into were Indology and
Anthropology. Pretty soon I discovered that neither was of any use.
Not only did they fail to provide me with any insights, but they also
succeeded in merely enraging me: the kind of rage you feel when you
read the analyses of Wendy Doniger or Kripal. Indology is full of
`insights' like those you have read in Rajiv's article. What has
varied over time is the intellectual jargon that clothes these
`analyses'. Going deeper into the history of these disciplines (with
respect to India) drove home some lessons very deeply: in both form
and content, there was pretty little to differentiate between the
Christian missionary reports of the 18th to 20th centuries and the
Indological tracts. And that between a Herder and a Goethe on the one
hand (the German Romantics who `praised' India while being derogatory
about it at the same time) and a James Mill and an Abbé Dubois on the
other, there was not much of a space to draw a dividing line.
Researching further, I discovered that these `Indological truths' were
enshrined in the `modern' social sciences: whether you read along with
a Max Weber on ` The Religions of India' or thought along with a Karl
Marx on the `Asiatic mode of production' or even disagreed with the
omnipresent `Oriental Despotism' of a Karl Wittfogel. Modern
psychoanalysis of India, beginning with Carstair's `The Twice Born'
through `The Oceanic Feeling' of Mussaief-Masson (another Indologist
using psychoanalysis to understand Indian religions), had already told
our tale: Indian culture was `narcissistic' (in the sense of
`secondary narcissism') and thus pathological in nature.

My initial reactions to these discoveries parallel the response of
many a post on this e-board: horror, rage and a conviction that
`racism' is inherent in these writings. Pretty soon, this conviction
about `racism' of European authors gave way to doubts: Is it possible
to convict all European authors of racism? Are we to assume that, in
the last 400 years or so, all writers who wrote on India were racists?
If yes, how to understand the powerful impact these writers and their
theories have had on the Indian authors and Indian social sciences? If
no, why did they say pretty similar things? Is one to say that the
`respected' Indian social scientists are no better than brown sahibs?
Is Indian social science merely a disguised variant of Indology? So on
and so forth.

Today, many of us are familiar with Edward Said and his book
`Orientalism'. In his wake, many buzz-words like `essentialism',
`Eurocentrism' (though interesting, Blaut is not theoretically
well-equipped), `Orientalist discourse', the `us-them dichotomy' etc.
whiz around. I would be the last to detract from the merits of Said's
book: he was one of the earliest writers to have drawn attention to
the systematic nature of the western way of talking about the Orient.
Despite this, the concept `Orientalism' is totally inadequate to
analyse the situation underlying RISA lila. Surely, the question is:
*Why is the West Orientalist?* Said's plea ends up denying any
possibility of understanding cultural differences or indeed why
Orientalism came into being, or what sustains it. To say, as the
`post-colonials' do, that the relation between `power/knowledge'
answers this question is to make a mystique of the dyad of Foucault as
though it `explains' anything. If this buzzword does anything at all,
it helps us `explain' why the `post-colonials' earn a good living in
the States: they talk the talk of their employees, and walk the walk
of their patrons. (This is not to deny that there are genuine and
committed people among them, or even to deny that they want to address
themselves to genuine and urgent issues. It is only to draw attention
to the phenomenon of `post-colonialism'.)

What I am saying is that one should not think that Rajiv paints a
`racist', or `orientalist' or a `eurocentric' picture. These words
obfuscate the deeper issue, one which is more insidious than any of
the above three. It might or might not be the case that Wendy and her
children are `racist'; ditto about their `eurocentrism' or
`orientalism'. But when you realise that they are not saying anything
that has not been said in the last three hundred years (despite their
fancy jargon), the question becomes: *why does the western culture
systematically portray India in these terms?* To say that western
culture is, in toto, racist or `eurocentric' is to say pretty little:
even assuming, counterfactually, that the western culture is all these
things (and that all the westerners are `racist', etc), why do these
attitudes persist, reproduce themselves and infect the Indians?

There is a weightier reason not to tread this path. In fact, it has
been a typical characteristic of western writings on other cultures
(including India) to characterise the latter using terms that are only
appropriate to describe individual psychologies: X culture is stupid,
degenerate, and irrational; Y culture is childish, immature,
intuitive, feminine, etc. To simply repeat these mantras after them is
to achieve very little understanding.

Rajiv says repeatedly that these writings `deny agency to the Indian
subjects'. I am familiar with this phrase through `post-colonial'
writings. This too is a mantra; like many of them, without having the
desired effect. And why is that? It might appear to make sense if we
merely restrict ourselves to Wendy and her children's analyses of
Ganesha, Shiva or Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. However, it looses all
plausibility when we realise that, for instance, social sciences use
one and the same `epistemology' to analyse both the west and India and
that despite this, their claims about India reproduce the `Indological
truths.' (Those who do not believe me are invited to dip, for example,
into those multiple theories of `the Indian Caste System': from the
sociobiological theories of a Van den Berghe - a sociologist - through
the social choice theories of an Olson jr. - an
economist-cum-political scientist. Even a book that wants to criticise
the writings that `deny agency' to the Indians, `Castes of Mind' of
Nicholas Dirks, ends up doing nothing else than `deny agency to the
Indians'.) Quite clearly, `the problem' cannot be solved by
`discovering' some or another pet epistemology (like Ronald Inden
does, in appealing to Collingwood).

In a way, you could say, we need to do to the west what it has done to
us, namely, study it anthropologically. But how to go about doing this
and not simply reproduce what generations of thinkers (from the west)
have already said about the West? It is amusing to use Freud to
analyse their Freudian analyses of Indian religions; or use
Patanjali's Chakras to typify their personalities. But at the end of
the day, we are still left with the task of studying and understanding
why the western culture talks about us the way it does.

In other words, it would be a *conceptual blunder* to look either at
Wendy or her children as exponents of racism, eurocentrism or even
Orientalism alone. (They might be any or all the three. But that does
not really matter.) We need to realise that they are doing two things
simultaneously: *drawing upon the existing social sciences and also
contributing to their further `development'.*

I hope to explain the significance of the last sentence in one of my
next mails. For the present, let me just say this: our problems do not
either begin or end in religious studies or Indology. They are deeper.
Much, much deeper. To tackle RISA lila as a separate phenomenon, i.e.,
to focus either on Wendy or her *parampara* alone, would be to
compound tragedy with conceptual blunder. Not only that. It would
prevent us from understanding RISA lila for what it is: *a phenomenon
that is typical of the western culture*.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->(1) You are absolutely right about the observations regarding
spreading awareness and setting strategic goals, and about the way
movements develop. From what little I know of you, which is pretty
little I am afraid, you appear to be a person with enormous
capabilities: apart from the evident intellectual acuity, you seem to
be gifted with strategic insights and abilities, a tremendous
organisational talent and a long-term perspective. Consequently, I can
only applaud you: not from the sidelines though, but from the middle
of the field itself. You are quite clearly someone who can *pull*, if
I may use this metaphor despite its connotations, the *ratha*
(chariot); I am willing to *push* the same from behind. It is,
therefore, an immense personal pleasure for me to respond to your
efforts. As you say, `let the light shine bright and clear'.

(2) A slightly longer comment on what you call `westology', the
reverse of Indology. I will simply pen some thoughts down. We need not
enter into a dialogue about these issues on this thread: it might
*sidetrack* the discussion; besides, you can always write a separate
column on `westology', to which one can respond. Nevertheless, some
observations for you to keep in mind for the column on `westology', if
and when you write it.

2.1. When I started formulating my initial project some 17 years ago,
I too thought along (probably) similar lines. However, as I got my
teeth into the project and started working it out, it became pretty
obvious that it was doomed to *fail*. The inherent logic of such an
enterprise forces one, as it were, to build *alternate* theories to
the existing, `western' theories. Instead of explaining this statement
in the abstract, let me take a concrete example to illustrate what I

2.2. In the University of Chicago, there is a certain Richard Shweder.
He practices `Cultural Psychology', and is (was?) professor of `Human
Development'. He is rather well-known for his `cross-cultural'
studies: he and his students have published many works comparing
psychological developments across the two cultures that India and
America are. (In fact, he received a medal from the American
Association of the Advancement of Science, if I remember properly, for
one of his articles: `Does the concept of the Person vary
cross-culturally?' This was a study about the concept of `self' in the
USA and Orissa, India.) A few years ago, he published a study on the
nature of *moral development* and the growth of moral awareness
cross-culturally: again, India and the USA were the two compared

2.3. To study this, Shweder and his co-workers developed a
questionnaire supposed to test the presence of several moral notions
among their subjects. (This article is called "Culture and Moral
Development', by Richard Shweder, Manamohan Mahapatra and Joan G.
Miller. A convenient reprint is to be found in "Cultural Psychology:
Essays on Comparative Human Development, Eds., James Stigler, Richard
Shweder and Gibert Herdt, Cambridge University Press, 1990,
Pp.130-204. I will cite from this work.) The interviewees are both
children and adults. From the list of the cases that Shweder uses,
here are the first five - in order of *perceived* `seriousness of
breach', as judged by Hindu Brahman eight-to ten-year-olds:

1. The day after his father's death, the eldest son had a haircut and
ate chicken.
2. One of your family members eats beef regularly.
3. One of your family members eats a dog regularly for dinner.
4. A widow in your community eats fish two or three times a week.
5. Six months after the death of her husband, the widow wore jewellery
and bright-colored clothes (Ibid. p.165).
It is important to note that, in India, while there was a consensus
between the children and the adults regarding the first two cases
(p.184), there was a lack of consensus only among children regarding
the last three cases. Keeping in mind that they are ordered in terms
of the `perceived seriousness of the breach', we further come across
(ibid., P.165):
8. After defecation (making a bowel movement) a woman did not change
her clothes before cooking.
13. In a family, a twenty-five-year-old son addresses his father by
his first name.
And, as the fifteenth, "a poor man went to the hospital after being
seriously hurt in an accident. At the hospital they refused to treat
him because he could not afford to pay (ibid)."

2.4. We can, I suppose, grant the truth of these statements. We can
grant too that many Indians (both children and adults) would probably
consider such actions not just as *paap* but as *mahapaap*. If not
`sins', they are at least some kind of `ethical transgressions' and
not mere breaches of social etiquette. As the sequence of questions in
the interview makes it clear, the respondents were asked to motivate
(or clarify) their stance. A fragment from such interviews, applied to
a hypothetical Bra hmin adult should make the point clear.
"1. Is the widow's behavior wrong? (Yes, Widows should not eat fish ¼)
How serious is the violation? (A very serious violation¼)
Is it a sin? (Yes. It's a "great" sin.) ¼ " (p.168)
Let us consider a similar fragment from a hypothetical American adult.
"1. Is the widow's behavior wrong? (No. She can eat fish if she wants
How serious is the violation? (It's not a violation.)
Is it a sin? (No.)" ¼ (ibid.)

2.5. If Shweder is *right* in identifying our *paap* either as `sin'
or as `immoral', one conclusion is inescapable: we Indians must be
absolute cretins really. I mean, we seem to think that what the widow
eats, what she wears, etc. are *ethically* more important than whether
a poor man gets treated in a hospital or not. *However did our culture
manage to survive for a couple of thousand years, when it is governed
by such idiotic `norms'?*
As though to rub salt in the wound, Shweder assures us that the
situation is r eally not all that pathetic. In fact, he says, one
could actually provide `reasoned defence of family life and social
practice', albeit in the form of an "ideal" argument structure. How
does it look? "The body is a temple with a spirit dwelling in it.
Therefore the sanctity of the temple must be preserved. Therefore
impure things must be kept out of and away from the body (p. 198)." It
is important to note that this `reasoned' defence occurs only to
Shweder's mind: no child `argues' the way Shweder does.

3. During the colonial period, we were described as *immoral* people.
This is one end of the spectrum. At the other end, we have `liberals'
like Shweder, who make us into a bunch of moral *cretins*. So, it
appears, we have two choices: either we are immoral or we are moral
idiots. Not much of a choice, is it?

4. Why does this situation come about? This is not a *translation*
problem (`how should we translate *paap* into English?'), but an
empirical and theoretical problem: *what is it about the western
ethical tradition that makes the Indian culture either immoral or
morally senile?*

5. To answer this question, we *need* to develop a theory of ethics,
which does two things *simultaneously*: (a) show how and why there is
an *ethical domain* in the Indian culture and in what ways it differs
from the Western ethical domain; and (b) what are the *constraints* on
the western ethical tradition that it is *forced* to describe us the
way it has.

6. This means, Rajiv, such a theory of ethics will be a direct
*competitor* to the Western thinking on ethics. That is to say, our
`westology' will not remain a mere `westology' but will be forced to
provide an *alternative* and *competing* way of looking at the ethical
phenomenon itself.

7. This is what I discovered when I started working my project out. My
theory of religion *is* an alternate to the current theories of
religion: it shows not merely that the western intellectuals are
*wrong* but also explains why they had to be *necessarily* wrong. Idem
for my current work in ethics.

8. It is here that one experiences the humiliation of *racism*. It is
almost inconceivable to the western intellectuals, at least this has
been my experience, that an Indian could stand up and *prove* that
three hundred years of western scholarship has been wrong. You are
never forgiven for this insult; I mean, it is simply not on. If you
reproduce the `post-colonial' verbiage, you will be rewarded with a
professorship in Columbia, Chicago or California. But, beware, if you
say, let us compete on *equal terms* scientifically; may the best
theory carry the day; and that happens to be your theory!<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->In the previous post, I drew attention to the fact that Wendy and her
children draw from the existing social sciences, while contributing at
the same time to their further `development'. In this post, I will
elaborate what this statement means, what it implies, and what it says
about the `western culture'. Let me see how far I can go in this post
with respect to the objective without being inordinately long.
However, it is only fair that I warn you beforehand: I will only be
able to isolate an important thread; within the confines of this post,
I cannot *prove* my claims. (To those interested in `proofs', I refer
them to my book.)

1. Not many would challenge the claim that Christianity has been
highly influential in the development of the western culture. We need
to take this statement utterly seriously. It means that many things we
`take for granted', whether in the West or in India, come from the
influence that Christianity has exerted.

I claim that Christianity expands in two ways. (This is not just
typical of Christianity but of all religions. I will talk only of
Christianity because I want to talk about the western culture.) Both
of these have been present ever since the inception of Christianity
and have mutually reinforced each other. The first is familiar to all
of us: *direct conversion.* People from other cultures and `religions'
are explicitly converted to Christianity and thus the community of
Christian believers grows. This is the `surface' or explicit expansion
of Christianity. In India, both in the colonial and modern times, this
has been a theme of intense controversy but, according to me, not of
very great consequence *when compared to the second way Christianity
also expands*.

2. Funnily enough, the second way in which Christianity expands is
*also* familiar to us: the process *secularisation*. I claim that
Christianity `secularises' itself in the form of, as it were,
`dechristianised Christainity'. What this word means is: typically
Christian doctrines spread wide and deep (beyond the confines of the
community of Christian believers) in the society dressed up in
`secular' (that is, not in recognisably `Christian') clothes. We need
a very small bit of Western history here in order to understand this
point better.

2.1. Usually, the `enlightenment period', which is identified as `the
Age of Reason', is alleged to be the apotheosis (or the `high point')
of the process of `secularisation'. What people normally mean by
`secularisation' here is the following: the enlightenment thinkers are
supposed to have successfully `fought' against the dominance that
religion (i.e. Christianity) had until then exercised over social,
political, and economic life. From then on, so goes the standard text
book story, human kind began to look to `reason' instead of, say, the
Church in all matters social, civic, political etc. The spirit of
scientific thinking, which dominated that age, has continued to gain
ascendancy. As heirs to this period, which put a definitive end to all
forms of `irrational' subservience, we are proud citizens of the
modern day world. We are against all forms of despotism and we are
believers in democracy; we believe in the role of reason in social
life; we recognise the value of human rights; and we should understand
that `religion' is not a matter for state intervention, but a
`private' and personal affair of the individual in question. This, as
I say, is the standard text book story.

2.2. The problem with this story is simply this: the enlightenment
thinkers have built their formidable reputation (as opponents of `all
organised religion' or even `religion' tout court) by *selling* ideas
from *Protestant Christianity* as though they were `neutral' and
`rational'. Take for example the claim that `religion' is not a matter
for state intervention and that it is a `private' affair of the
individual in question. (Indian `secularists' agitatedly jump and down
to `defend' this idea.) Who thought, do you think, that `religi on'
was *not* a `private' affair? The Catholic Church, of course. Even to
this day, it believes that you *should* believe what the Church says,
and that because the Church mediates between Man and God, what you
believe in (as a Christian) is decided by the Catholic Church. The
Protestants fought a battle with the Catholics on *theological*
grounds: they argued that `being a Christian believer' (or what the
Christian believes in) is matter between the Maker (i.e. God) and the
Individual. It was *God* (i.e. the Christian God), who judged man; and
men *could not* judge each other in matters of Christian faith. The
Church, they argued, could not mediate between Man and God (according
to their interpretation of the Bible); the Catholic Church argued that
men could not, using only their reasoning and interpretative
abilities, interpret the Word of God (i.e. the Bible). To think so is
to be seduced by the Devil, and the only guarantee against the
seduction by the Devil and eternal damnation was the Church itself and
its interpretation of the Bible. (There is a famous doctrine of the
Catholic Church, which says, `Extra ecclesiam nulla salus': there is
no salvation - i.e. being saved from the clutches of the Devil -
outside the Church.) To cut the long story short, the Protestants won
this theological battle. The enlightenment thinkers repeated this
Protestant story, and this has become our `secularism'.

2.3. The same story applies with respect to what is enshrined in the
UN charter. The doctrine of Human Rights (as we know them today) arose
in the Middle Ages, when the Franciscans and the Dominicans fought
each other. (Both are religious orders within the Catholic Church.)
All theories of human rights we know today were elaborated in this
struggle that continued nearly for two hundred years. They were
*theological* debates, to understand which one needs to understand
Christian theology. (Just take my word for it for now.) When John
Locke (a British philosopher) started talking about `Natural Rights'
in the 18th century, he was simply regurgitating a theological debate
within Christianity.

2.4. I am not merely making the point that these ideas had their
origin in religious contexts. My point is much more than that: I claim
that *we cannot accept these theories without, at the same time,
accepting Christian theology as true.* What the western thinkers have
done over the centuries (the Enlightenment period is the best known
for being the `high point' of this process) is to *dress up* Christian
theological ideas (I am blurring the distinction between the divisions
within Christianity) in a secular mantle. Not just this or that
isolated idea, but theological theories themselves.

2.5. I am not in the least suggesting that this is some kind of a
*conspiracy*. I am merely explicating what I mean when I say that
Christianity spreads also through the process of *secularisation*.
What has been secularised are whole sets of ideas about Man and
Society which I call `Biblical themes '. They are Biblical themes
because to accept them is to accept the truth of the Bible. Most of
our so-called `social sciences' *assume* the truth of these Biblical

2.6. I know this sounds *unbelievable*; but I have started to prove
them. I have already shown, for example, that the so-called religious
studies presuppose the truth of Christian theology. That is why, when
they study the so-called `religions' from other cultures, their
results do not fundamentally differ from a theological treatment of
the same religions. In the book I am now writing on ethics, I am able
to show the same: the so-called secular ethics are `secularisations'
of Christian ethics. That is why, according to the modern `secular'
ethics, we are either `immoral' or `moral cretins'. According to the
Christianity, only the `true' religion can provide a foundation for
ethical behaviour: the Heathens and the Pagans, because they worship
the Devil, are either immoral or intellectually weak. Even in
psychology, the notion of the development of `person' (or `self') is a
non-trivial secularisation of the Christian notion of `soul'. So I can
go on, but I will not. Instead of convincing you, such a list might
end up generating disbelief.

3. To begin to appreciate the *plausibility* (if not the truth) of my
claim, ask yourselves the following question: why are the so-called
`social sciences' different from the natural sciences? I mean to say,
why have the social sciences not developed the way natural sciences
have? There must have been many geniuses in the social sciences; the
mathematical and logical sophistication in some of the social sciences
is simply mind-bending; we have computers and we can simulate almost
any thing. Comparatively speaking, it is not as though the social
sciences are starved of funding or personnel. Despite all this, the
social sciences are not progressing. Why is this? (When you have, say,
a problem in a love-relationship, you do not open a text book on
psychology; you look for a wise friend or an understanding uncle.)
There are many answers provided in the history of philosophy and many
of you may have your own `favourite' explanation. Here is my answer:
you cannot build a scientific theory based on theological assumptions.
What you will get then is *not* a scientific theory, but an
embroidering of theology. I put to you that this is what has happened.
Most of our so-called social sciences are not `sciences' in any sense
of the term: they are merely bad Christian theologies.

4. If this is true, it also helps us understand why both `conversion'
and the notion of `secularism' jars Indian sensibilities. Somehow or
the other, Nehruvian `secularism' always connotes a denigration of
Indian traditions; if you look at the debates in the EPW and SEMINAR
and journals like that, one thing is very clear: none of the
participants really understands what `secularism' means. In India,
`secularism' is counter posed to `communalism'; whereas `the secular',
in European languages, has only one contrast: `the sacred'. Now, of
course, I do not want to make much out of this; but I thought that it
would be interesting to draw your attention to this interesting fact.

5. To summarize what I have said so far. Christianity spreads in two
ways: through conversion and through secularisation. The modern day
social sciences embody the assumptions of Christian theology, albeit
in a `secularised' form. That is why when Wendy and her children draw
upon the resources of the existing social sciences, they are drawing
upon Christian theology. In this Christian theology, we are
worshippers of the Devil. Our gods are demons (followers of the
devil). As such, amongst other things, they are perverts: sexually,
morally and intellectually. The worshippers of the Devil (which is
what we are) are also perverts: why otherwise would we follow the
Devil or his minions? Even if Wendy and her children *oppose* a
straightforward Christian understanding openly (because of their
*genuine* conviction), their *conclusions* are no different from the
simplistic story I have just sketched. How can they be driven to
embrace Christian theology, even when they either openly reject it or
when they know nothing of it? This will be one of the questions I will
take up in my future posts, assuming that people remain interested.

6. This is the insidious process I talked about in my previous mail:
the process of secularisation of Christian ideas. I have not been able
to do justice to the richness of this process: an inevitable price one
pays for condensing complex analyses into short posts. Let the
`simplistic' presentation not lead you to think that the ideas I am
proposing are `simplistic'. They are not.

7. Why do we, the Indian intellectuals, not see this secularisation
straight away? Why is the process of secularisation not visible to the
western intellectuals? These are some of the obvious questions I will
tackle in my subsequent posts.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->In order to keep the discussion tightly focussed and to best serve the
interests of this thread, I will not be touching upon (or answering)
several issues raised either in my earlier posts, or by the readers.
*I promise, however, to return to them at the appropriate time*. I had
begun my earlier mail with the intention of tackling three points with
respect to the picture that Rajiv sketches: (a) how *not to* analyse;
(b) how to analyse; © what should we be doing? To briefly
recapitulate what I have so far done. Regarding (a), I suggested that
what Wendy and her children do should not be seen purely as an
orientalist, or a Eurocentric or a racist exercise. In my previous
post, regarding (b) I suggested that there is a deeper process at work
here, which I called `secularisation' of Christian theology. In this
post, I will complete this part of the argument by trying to
(partially) answer one question: why is this process not `visible' to
the Western intellectuals? In my next post, which I hope to compose
before the weekend, I will focus on ©, i.e. what should we be doing?

In a way, the answer can be provided in a single sentence: the
research questions and the research framework of many-a-social science
were set up *explicitly * by Christian theologians using the resources
of Christian theology. (I am using `theology' as a general term here.)
Both the questions and answers have retained their intelligibility,
even though the `explicit' theology has faded *into the background*. A
theological question does not cease to be theological just because the
one who answers it does not know much about theology. The very fact
that such questions *make sense at all* (and do not appear
nonsensical) is the *proof* of the fact that the questioner remains
within the ambit of a religious framework. (If you have no clue about
Physics, the question `when does some stellar object become a quasar?'
will not make much sense. To answer it, if you can answer it at all,
you need to draw upon the resources of theories in Physics.) However,
this single sentence answer fails to capture the complexity and
diversity of the process. Therefore, let me just *illustrate* what
this process really means, or has meant. (I will be taking random
examples, and of different *kinds* just to *indicate* the depth of the
process. If one intends doing more than this, one will have to write
umpteen books!)

1. Consider, to begin with, the very notion `the west' or `the western
culture'. During the first 800 years (after the year 300 C.E. -
`Common Era', which replaces AD that meant the year of the Lord, Anno
Domini), it was `Eastern Christianity' (i.e. the Christianity of the
Byzantine Empire with its centre in Constantinople) that dominated the
Christian communities. The Church in Rome was merely one of the
churches within Christianity. The `evangelization' of Europe really
begins in earnest after 900 C.E. This was a process launched by the
Church in Rome, and it occurred in areas to `the west' of Rome. For
this reason, this Christianity came to be called `Western
Christianity' and the emergence of this Christendom to the west of
Rome is the emergence of `the West'.

2. Consider these two famous research questions about the `transition'
in history (of both the `leftist' and the `rightist' variety): when
and how did transition from `slavery' to `feudalism' occur in Europe?
This issue was discussed by theologians and theological historians for
a long time in the following form: how did Christianity put an end to
the Pagan Rome? The historians discussed precisely this issue, and in
this form, till the end of the eighteenth century as well. The
division they made between `epochs' (a word coined by a French
Christian Priest called Bossuet during the 18th century) was the one
between pre-Christian (pagan) Rome and the post-Christian Rome. The
very same issue, with the *very same* division has now become a
`scient ific' question in the guise of: how did feudalism put paid to
slavery? The same can be said about another transition question that
bothers Marxist historians: how did feudalism (an `epoch' of social
production) give way to Capitalism in `the West'? Do you know what
this question is a complex translation of? `Why did the Protestant
reformation against the Catholic Church gain foothold?'

3. Consider the emergence of the Legal System in the western culture.
Its origin does not lie in the Roman Law but in the Church. The
theologians of the Roman Catholic Church *turned* to the Roman jurists
in their attempts to build a legal structure for the Church. (This is
called the famous `Gregorian reformation' of the Catholic Church.)
Thus a complex system of laws and *their justifications* (including
terms that are fundamental to the modern jurisprudence) arose, called
`The Canon Law'. The `Civil Law' (using this as a general term) was
built by *the theologians* by modelling it after the Canon Law. Till
the 18th century, `the faculty of law' was a part of the `faculty of
theology' in the western universities and taught *only by
theologians.* To this day, in many universities in Europe this
theological heritage is still maintained in the way the law faculties
are called: `Rechtenfaculteit' (`Rechten' is the plural of `Das
Recht'), referring to the two laws - the canon law and civil law.

4. Consider too, for example, one of the notions fundamental to Modern
Jurisprudence: `will'. There have been umpteen discussions about this
notion in Philosophy, Law, Psychology, etc. Clearly, or so we think,
human beings have a will and exercise it as well. What is the origin
of this picture of human beings? Till 300 B.C.E. this notion was
`absent' in what we call the western culture today. Neither the Greek
thinkers (like Plato or Aristotle), nor the Roman jurists (who wrote
their law digests) had such a notion or such a picture of human
beings. The first person to struggle with this notion and write tracts
about it was Saint Augustine, one of the most influential Fathers of
the Christian Church. Why did the Christians find this notion
important? Because, they think, the universe exemplifies the Will of
God and human beings should subordinate themselves to this Will. That
is to say, the human will must subordinate itself to the divine will.
What is human `will' then? What does this subordination consist of?
These and many similar questions arose *within* the ambit of Christian
theology, presupposing a Christian picture of Man. (A picture that was
neither Greek nor Roman, and is definitely not Indian.) Yet, how many
of us do not practice Law, read and write about human will and even
assume *as an empirical fact* that it is in the nature of being human
that we have will? (This is no *fact*, but a Christian theological
picture of man.)

5. Take, as another kind of an example, the issue of `freedom'. This
issue is a central one in Philosophy, in moral theories, in political
theories (about Stat e and society), in legal theories, and
psychological theories, etc. If you were to blandly state this issue
in a single sentence: it is a good thing that people are `free' and
that every one `ought' to be `free'. In ethical theories, for
instance, a moral action is an action of choice, made freely without
coercion. In fact, in the absence of `freedom' morality is not
possible. Let me just draw a contrast between this way of thinking
(which appears to be true on the basis of `universal consent') and our
ideas about `karma' and `rebirth'. (You need not assume the `truth' of
*punarjanma* in order to follow my point.) If the fruits of one's
action do not track (very strictly) the agent across several lives,
the idea of both `Karma' and `rebirth' become senseless. Somehow or
the other, these notions are parts of our (i.e. Indian) understanding
of morality. That means to say, if there was no binding and strict
*determinism*, ethics is impossible. Here, then, the contrast:
according to the western culture , moral action is impossible if it is
not `free'; according to us, without strict determinism, moral action
is impossible. Yet, how many of us do not act as though `freedom' is a
`self-explanatory' concept? Do you know what the origins (it has
multiple theological loci) of this problem are? God created Man and
gave him the `freedom' to choose between God and the Devil. (In
secularised terms, between `good' and `evil'.) The possibility of
`salvation' (i.e. of being `saved' from the clutches of the Devil)
depended on this `free choice'. Therefore, theological issues arose:
What then does `human freedom' mean? Why did God give `freedom' to
man? Are we `condemned' to be `free'? etc. etc. Our *svatantra* does
not mean `freedom' as its contrast term *paratantra* indicates. Our
`gods' are *sarva tantra svatantara*, i.e. beings for whom all
*tantras* are their `own' (sva). What exactly are we doing then, when
we discuss about a `free society', `freedom' of individuals, etc, etc?

6. Instead of carrying on in this vein let me round off in a different
way. Fundamental to Christianity is its belief that there `ought' to
be scriptural sanction for actions in the world. In other words, this
religion makes one seek scriptural foundations for one's actions
(whether for `sacred' ones like `worshipping' or to `secular' ones
like the attitude one should take regarding `strangers' ). The
scripture is one kind of `revelation' of God's will; the Nature also
reveals God's Will. One studies both in order to find out what God
Wills so that one may become a part of God's purposes (for human kind)
on earth. The Church, as a social organism, confronted many social and
political problems during its history. Whether it was a revolt of the
peasants, or a fight with the monarchs about the nature of political
authority, these phenomena were conceptualised as problems within
theology. That is to say, both the way the Church formulated the
problem and its responses were founded on the scriptures (and the
writings of t he church fathers). The problem of state and society,
the limits of political power, etc. were actual issues that the Church
confronted. The way it formulated these issues and the kind of answers
it sought, etc. were theological in nature. These very same questions
and answers (and the underlying framework) have been taken over by the
so-called social sciences. So, when they further go on along this
track, all they are doing is further embroider Christian theology. No
matter what they *think* they are doing, they *are not doing science*.
Even when they speak of things that become totally *nonsensical*, if
and when *explicit theology* is left out, they continue to talk as
though it makes sense.

For an example of this sort, take the notion of `polytheism' that
anthropology of religion, practitioners of `religious studies',
sociologists, etc. use. This notion is *contradictio in teminis*, that
is to say, it is internally contradictory. `Polytheism' refers to a
doctrine that countenances multip le `gods'. What does it mean to
speak of multiple `gods'? It is to say that there is more than one
`God'. (There must be at least two). However, who or what is `God'
that there may be more than one? If, in order to answer this question,
one refers to the meaning of this word, unsurprisingly it turns out,
the dictionary meaning is also the meaning of Christian religion.
Amongst other things, `God' is the creator of the universe. If this is
what God means, there cannot be more than one `God'. (How can one make
sense of the statement that there are multiple `creators', when `God'
refers to that being which created the Universe?) How, then, can one
speak of `polytheism'? Only if one *assumes* that there is one `God'
and some several other creatures who are *other* than this `God' and
yet claim the status of `godhood'. The claim of such creatures *must*
be false: because the very definition of `God' attributes this status
to only one entity. Or, there must be one `true' God, and many `false'
gods, who a re different from and other than the True One. This is
precisely what Christian theology says: there is but one `true' God,
and there are many `false' gods (the Devil and his minions). A
`Polytheist', then, worships these multiple `gods' (and not the True
One). That is to say, a polytheist is a `heathen' who worships the
devil. This is what Christianity said of the Roman religions, the
Greek religions, the Indian `religions', etc. How is it possible that
`scientific' studies take over the word `polytheism' and blithely use
it without *recognising* that it is senseless to do so without
assuming the *truth* of Christian theology?

7. What I am saying, in other words, is that the western intellectuals
are blind to secularised theology, because that is all they know. This
is their tool, and they have no other. Only when we develop
*alternate* manners of theorising about Man and Society will they too
be able to see the theological nature of their thinking. Until such
stage, all they can do is to ridicule the suggestion that they are
merely embroidering theology.

8. The process of secularisation of Christianity is complex, rich and
varied. In each of the domains I have researched, the form of
secularisation of theology has been different. The routes travelled
have been varied: but the results have been the same. But this should
not transform my suggestion into a mantra. We need to plot out the
rich and varied contours of the process of secularising of
Christianity. When we do so, we will truly be initiating a revolution
in human thinking: at last, one can begin to speak in terms of the
*sciences* of the social. Until such stage, all we have are bad
Christian theologies *masquerading* as `social sciences'.

9. I sincerely hope that this post does not sidetrack the discussion.
In my next, and for the time being the last post on these matters, I
will take up the issue of what we should be doing. I want to thank you
all for reading these long posts with patience, taking the troubl e to
reply to them both publicly and privately.

Thus far we have seen that the western representations of India do not
so much express the perfidious intentions (or subconscious desires) of
the writers as much as the secularised Christian theology that guides
research. If this is true, there arise other questions that beg
clarification: what, then, could we say about the *Indian* writings in
Indology, sociology, etc? Are the Indian writers too not influenced,
whether directly or indirectly, by the very same `theories' that
incorporate the secularised Christian theology? If they are, surely,
there will be but a thin dividing line between the Indian
representations of India and the western ones. If they are not, how
could *they* be impervious to and unaffected by secularised Christian
theories, while their western colleagues are? Despite the *enormous*
importance of this theme, I shall leave it aside for now: as indicated
in my previous post, other occasions are going to present themselves
where such reflections will be in their place.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->In explaining the obliviousness of western thinkers to their
acceptance of secularised theology, I suggested that only when we
present *alternate* ways of describing the world could they gain
insight to the theological nature of their endeavour. If this
diagnosis stands up to scrutiny, our task is also clear: start working
towards the goal of building such theories. In the last two decades, I
have come to the realisation that there is far *more* to this task
than is apparent at first sight. My ideas on this matter have evolved
not only by studying histories and sociologies of science (about how
theories grow, get propagated and get accepted) but also by
appreciating the complexity of the task while trying to carry it out.
In this mail, I want to share some of my thoughts on this subject.

1. Let me begin by picking up an obvious question: Why should we be
bothered to carry this task out (and all that it entails) at all? Of
course, no one is or can ever be *compelled* to carry this task out.
Yet, there is a partial answer that can go some way in meeting the
*real concern* behind this problem. *Because of reasons of space*, let
me make talk about Indian culture as an entity and about its
experiments to provide some semblance of an answer.

2. Imagine, if you will, that Indian culture is an entity and that all
Indians are its members. Imagine too that one day, it realised that it
was not sure any more about the nature of the world it inhabited: What
should it be doing? What is its place? How should it adapt? What does
adaptation consist of? The only way it can ever find answers to these
questions is through experimentation: trying out this or that
strategy, growing new things as and when needed. Only its members can
help of help; they are the ones to experiment with. Let us agree not
to ask further questions about how this culture came to this
realisation and that we do not dispute about dating this even t:
India's independence from the British. Thus, this entity, the Indian
culture, takes to *massive experimentation* telescoping, in this
process, events of many decades elsewhere into a single decade (and
sometimes even less) in its history. Let us chronicle these experiments.

First, it takes to `socialism': `Nehruvian' socialism, the socialism
of Lohia, the socialist attempts of the communist parties of India.
Just as these experiments take-off, this culture starts exploring
*their limits* even before a new generation is born: the Naxalites and
the ML movement in Bengal impact India's youth in different parts of
India and both socialisms (of Lohia and of Nehru) begin to crack under
the pressure of events even as, in the late 60's, people elsewhere in
the world begin to discover `student power'. Many activist youth
groups emerge in different parts of India, born outside the existing
left, but already radicalised. Just as these groups appeared to run
out of steam, the Indian culture paused, and as though considering,
plunges into another massive experimentation: `Dalit' movement,
`secessionist' movements, which pits not the bourgeoisies against the
proletariat but groups against each other. Even as these impact the
culture, through `reservation policies' and contraction of the living
space for some of India's children, a new experimentation begins: it
is time for *ratha yatra* and Babri Masjid. This experimentation still
continues and as it does, this entity launches yet another with no
parallels in human history: the Indian culture sends two or more
millions of its members to America. This is no exodus, much less of an
exile, even if these members insist on speaking of the `Diaspora'.

3. What has Indian culture found out through all these experiments?
Some of India's children still continue with these experiments; some
have ceased doing so. This means either some answers are no answers at
all or at best, partial ones. Is India `socialist'? Or is she the
proletariat? Or, perha ps, the landless peasant? Is she the `Dalit',
or merely the `woman'? Has she always been a Sikh, a Tamil or a
Marathi, and never a single entity? Is she a `Hindu', a Muslim or
merely `secular'?

India, it appears, has been interrogating herself through all these
experiments: who is she? This is no third-rate `identity politics' of
the post-colonials taught in Chicago or Columbia, but the strivings of
a culture. We, her children, express this striving as well. Whatever
our individual motives, whatever our individual biographies, today, on
this thread, we too are asking the same question: what is it to be an

4. Much like her, we cannot reject the past: without it, we are not
who we are any more. Nor could we turn our back to the present: that
is where we have to live. Our cultural past must be made to talk in
the language of the present: that, I have discovered, is the task for
the future. At this moment, however, we need to become aware that we
are asking this question and tha t the answer *matters* to each one of
us. That is why we should be bothered about carrying out the task I
spoke of.

What is involved in accomplishing this task? Here too the answer is
simple: *a collective effort*. What does such an effort entail? Not
being a strategist like either Rajiv or Arjun Bhagat, I can only share
the results of my reflections on my experience in pursuing this task
for nearly two decades now.

5. The first step, quite obviously, calls for spreading awareness
about the nature of western representations of India. This entails
that we find (a) *people* willing not only to challenge the western
`scholars', where and when they give talks in public forums about
India etc. but also (b) *speakers* from the Indian community in the
US, who try actively to *supplant* these `scholars'.

This requires that such speakers are continuously fed with literature
of two sorts: (a) a debunking kind; and (b) the sort which provides
new and novel conceptualisations of many as pects of the Indian
culture itself.

This suggests that a serious and systematic research must be
undertaken by many different people on many different themes. My
knowledge of the intellectual scene tells me that there are very few
such people. So, one has to look at *recruiting* younger, gifted
people into doing research.

For this to happen, we need three things: (a) an intellectual
visibility and respectability for this kind of research so that fine,
younger minds are attracted: (b) a reward system that makes it
worthwhile for them to pursue such a research for a decade at least;
© a *training* in not only doing such research, but also help in
publishing them in highly visible journals so that they can then go on
to populate chairs in the academia.

6. Parallel to doing all these, there is also the mammoth task of
planting these seeds in the Indian soil itself. In order to appreciate
the complexity of this task, we need to have some answers I raised in
the first paragraph. Let us, therefore, leave this aspect of the
enterprise out of this post for the moment.

7. If these things are to happen at all, it is obvious that we need an
*organisation*. Only such an entity can formulate such long term
plans, translate them into viable strategies, and pursue them

8. Can this be done? I personally believe so. Even on this thread,
based purely on the evidence of their interventions, we have the kind
of brains we need: people who can strategise; those can build
organisations: those who can raise finances; those who can go straight
to the heart of a problem and represent it in simple terms; based on
little material, those who anticipate and formulate central questions
for enquiry; and, above all, an interested and concerned audience.
(For each of these, I can cite the posts and give reasons why I think
so. For the latter, you need merely see the hits on this web-page. But
that would be overkill, I think.)

9. Should some under you feel the same way I do, I would like to make
a proposal. Let some of us try and meet sometime next year.
(Preferably during either the spring or the summer holidays.) We need
no agency, no organisation to sponsor such an event. Each of us should
be able to meet our travel and accommodation on our own: it can take
place either here in Europe or there in the US. Let us meet for a day
or three for an intense brain-storming session, so that when we leave
each one of us knows our responsibility. An organisation will be
successful only when many, many people with different talents and
interests work on the same thing at many different levels. I am
willing to put time, energy, and effort in participating in such a

10. India, today, is at a cross-road: she has been in many such
cross-roads in the past, and she will be in many more in the future.
Neither is relevant to us, because we can make a *difference* only to
this one. We have the persons. We have the brains. We have the
talents. We have the en ergy. We have the money. We have the
instruments, the knowledge and the abilities. We have the capacity to
create the know-how as we work on the project. What more do we need?

<b>*Satya* said in his post (# 192) that he makes bold to announce the
birth of an Indian renaissance. I believe he is right in more ways
than one. I think our culture is going to see a renaissance. Such a
renaissance will be of importance not just to us, Indians, but to the
entire humankind. Because it is going to lay the real foundations for
the sciences of the social and thus give a surprising answer to the
question, `what is to be an Indian?' This process is going to take
place: sooner, if we can accelerate the pace; later, if we do nothing
about it. In the latter case, that event may not happen in your
lifetime or mine; but happen it shall. Of this, I am utterly
convinced. It is this conviction that has kept me going all these
years; it is the same conviction that has made me want to reach out to
those of you who have followed this discussion.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I have posted some of the posts by Prof Balu on Sulekha in response to Rajiv's RISA Lila. Thats how I came to know about Prof Balu. I urge all IFers to read those posts from the past. A must read for everyone.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>'Edmund Leach on Racism & Indology' </b>
by S Kak

Our narratives about the past are scraps of evidence joined with the glue of imagination. So there can be many narratives and many retellings as the vocabulary changes with time. This is all ancient history can be and we should be satisfied with that. It is sensible to accept that our reconstructions of the past are subjective.

But what does one do if a narrative is at variance with the evidence and yet, because of endless repetition, it has become entrenched in popular imagination as well as scholarly discourse? And what if such a narrative is accepted as the only truth?

Here I am talking of the fabrication of the narrative of Aryan invasions of the 2nd millennium BC. All evidence we have goes against it: There is biological continuity in the skeletal record for 4500-800 BC; the archaeological record has been seen to belong to the same cultural tradition from 7000 BC to historical times; the literary texts know of no other geography but that of India; and so on. Furthermore, the texts remember several astronomical events that took place during 5000 BC to 1000 BC; they also state that the Sarasvati flowed to the sea, which is memory of a period prior to 2000 BC, because we now know that the river dried up around that time. Here it is not my intention to review the evidence for which broad consensus exists amongst archaeologists.

So what should we do if some textbooks continue to repeat this fabrication? There are those who say that history doesn't matter and so let's not worry about what the books say and in due course better books will be published.

Maybe true. But isn't it foolish to let wrong things be taught in schools and colleges? How does it help education if we assault the intelligence of the youth and tell them something to be a fact for which there is no evidence?

<b>Indology and Racism</b>

It is bad enough if a fabrication-- a story-- is palmed off as the truth, but what if the fabrication is driven not just by poor logic but by racism?

Ten years ago, the distinguished British anthropologist, Edmund Leach, wrote a famous essay on this problem titled ``Aryan Invasions Over Four Millennia''. Published in a book called ``Culture Through Time'' (edited by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Stanford University Press, 1990), this essay exposed the racist basis of the 19th century construction of Indian prehistory and, perhaps more important for us, it showed how racism persists in the academic approach to the study of India. The implication of Leach's charge is that many of the assumptions at the basis of the academic study of Indian social organization, language development, and evolution of religion are simply wrong! Here are some excerpts from this essay:

Why do serious scholars persist in believing in the Aryan invasions?... Why is this sort of thing attractive? Who finds it attractive? Why has the development of early Sanskrit come to be so dogmatically associated with an Aryan invasion?...

Where the Indo-European philologists are concerned, the invasion argument is tied in with their assumption that if a particular language is identified as having been used in a particular locality at a particular time, no attention need be paid to what was there before; the slate is wiped clean. Obviously, the easiest way to imagine this happening in real life is to have a military conquest that obliterates the previously existing population!

The details of the theory fit in with this racist framework... Because of their commitment to a unilineal segmentary history of language development that needed to be mapped onto the ground, the philologists took it for granted that proto-Indo-Iranian was a language that had originated outside either India or Iran. Hence it followed that the text of the Rig Veda was in a language that was actually spoken by those who introduced this earliest form of Sanskrit into India. From this we derived the myth of the Aryan invasions. QED.

The origin myth of British colonial imperialism helped the elite administrators in the Indian Civil Service to see themselves as bringing `pure' civilization to a country in which civilization of the most sophisticated (but `morally corrupt') kind was already nearly 6,000 years old. Here I will only remark that the hold of this myth on the British middle-class imagination is so strong that even today, 44 years after the death of Hitler and 43 years after the creation of an independent India and independent Pakistan, the Aryan invasions of the second millennium BC are still treated as if they were an established fact of history.

In editorial comments, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney summarizes Leach's arguments regarding the fabrication: ``Seemingly objective academic endeavors are affected by the mentalite of the culture to which they belong. Leach describes how cherished but erroneous assumptions in linguistics and anthropology wre accepted without question. If the mentalite of the academic culture was in part responsible for the fabrication, geopolitics was even more responsible for upholding the Aryan invasion as history. The theory fit the Western or British vision of their place in the world at the time. The conquest of Asian civilization needed a mythical charter to serve as the moral justification for colonial expansion. Convenient, if not consciously acknowledged, was the Aryan invasion by a fair-skinned people, speaking the so-called Proto-Indo-European language, militarily conquering the dark-skinned, peasant Dasa (Dasyu), who spoke a non-European language and with whom the conquerors lived, as Leach puts it, in a `system of sexual apartheid.' ...A remarkable case of Orientalism indeed.''

<b>The Hegemonic Circle</b>

According to the postmodern theorist Lalita Pandit conventions of history writing are more often than not marked by intellectual bad faith that serves and maintains hegemonic ideologies.She adds, ``it is nearly impossible to alter the premises of hegemonic claims, because hegemonies are founded in such retellings, and passing off of myth for fact and history, non-truth for belief. In part at least, all hegemonies are founded in discourses. Discourse conventions are automatically set to deal with exigencies. When a contrary, anti-hegemonic view comes out strong, historiagraphic conventions, having become habit or mind-sets, are all set to transform the contrary view and absorb into a grand paradigm that ultimately only serves the hegemonic ideology. At the same time, hegemonic institutions are automatically set up to not validate, not give authority to contrary views. After all, what is considered truth is what comes from the horse's mouth, and who decides who this privileged horse, the subject who knows the truth is?''

One example of this phenomenon is the interesting strategy devised by the defenders of the Invasion theory to beat back criticism. They say: The critics are Hindu nationalists motivated by political considerations and besides they are not from academic departments.

This is nonsense. The issue is the message and it shouldn't matter who the messenger is. Anyway, this charge that the Invasion/migration theory has been criticised only by independent scholars and nationalists is false. Edmund Leach was not a Hindu nationalist. Neither are Jim Shaffer and Diane Lichtenstein, perhaps the foremost modern scholars of Indian prehistory, who write in a recent essay:

The South Asian archaeological record reviewed here does not support ... any version of the migration/invasion hypothesis. Rather, the physical distribution of sites and artifacts, stratigraphic data, radiometric dates, and geological data can account form the Vedic oral tradition describing an internal cultural discontinuity of indigenous population movement.

Shaffer and Lichtenstein go to the heart of the matter when they further say about the Invasion/migration theories: ``[These theories] are significantly diminished by Europeam ethnocentrism, colonialism, racism, and antisemitism. Surely, as South Asian studies approaches the twenty-first century, it is time to describe emerging data objectively rather than perpetuate interpretations without regard to the data archaeologists have worked so hard to reveal.''

<b>A Question of Method</b>

Let's for a moment forget the sorry history of the construction of India's past; Edmund Leach has covered that ground very well in his essay. I am prepared to concede that what Leach called racism in Indic studies may not be obvious to the protagonists. Wearing the blinkers of the tradition in their subspeciality, they may believe that they are merely following in the footsteps of their predecessors.

But if a method is wrong the incremental ``advances'' in the framework will only lead one more astray. There are many examples of this such as the research during the Lysenko regime in the Soviet Union or the work done by the believers in cold fusion.

The basic error in the Orientalist enterprise of Indian prehistory is the ``logic'' of apportionment of credit for culture to one ``race'' or another. It is comparable to the search for Aryan and Jewish components in modern science, the absurdity of which is clear to everyone excepting extremist racist groups.

Yet it has become common in Indic studies to write whole volumes on the discovery of the ``Aryan'' and ``Dravidian'' components of Indian culture! Words and cultural ideas that have evolved over all of India are now being examined to find which elements of these are Aryan and Dravidian! These are questions to which no definitive answers can be found. If nothing else this is a colossal waste of academic resources.

There are studies, for example, which trace the caste system to the Indo-European tripartite scheme, and there are still others that trace it to the Dravidian social organization! The Puranas are seen by some to be an organic outgrowth of the Vedic system, and by others to be an expression of the earlier Dravidian Hinduism. This and that of the cultural life are assigned to Aryans and Dravidians with no consistent logic. This list goes on and on.

Edmund Leach ridiculed the method used by Indo-Europeanists. He commended a paper, ``Did the Dravidians of India obtain their culture from Aryan immigrant?'', written by P.T. Srinivas Iyengar in 1914 (Anthropos, vol. 9, pp. 1-15) that clearly shows the propositions of the Invasionsit/migrationsts are ``either fictitious or unproved.'' Iyengar has some fun in the process: ``It was reserved for the philologists of the first half of the 19th century to discover that Arya and Dasyu were names of different races. They diligently searched the Veda for indication of this, and their discoveries remind us of the proverbial mouse begotten of the mountain.'' The philological edifice has been punctured by Swaminathan Aiyar in his remarkable ``Dravidian Theories'' which appeared in 1975.
Discourse as Theatre</b>

Geertz's eloquent argument, in 1980, for a `theatre state' interpretation of the Balinese kingdom provides us with a useful insight for the examination of the Indian prehistory paradigm. In a discipline as a theatre, the continuing `elaborations' of the basic schema are part of a ritual that has nothing to do with the reality of the evidence. Geertz seems to be addressing us when he says, ``The state [..is a] metaphysical theatre: theatre designed to express a view of the ultimate nature of reality and, at the same time, to shape the existing conditions of life to be consistent with that reality: that is, theatre to present an ontology of the world and, by presenting it, to make it happen--make it actual.''

The theatre of Indian prehistory has likewise moulded the current conditions to conform to its reality. It is not physical force but words and ideas (or shall we call them mantras) that bind people.

In the hour of defeat, the theatre state expired with the puputans, the royal parade, with parasols and all, into the fire of the attacking Dutch troops. Is such mass suicide the only end possible for a theatre state? Can there be a peaceful resolution?


Edmund Leach was a great anthropologist, a sober man, who was for many years a professor at Cambridge and later provost at King's College. He used the charge of racism against Indo-Europeanists deliberately. He said, ``[To] bring about a shift in this entrenched paradigm is like trying to cut down a 300-year-old oak tree with a penknife. But the job will have to be done one day.''

Academic study on ancient India will remain ``like a patient etherized upon a table'' unless it finds a proper center and fresh energy. This center will be located only as a result of critiques like that of Leach. But what about energy? Will it be provided by the financial support of Indians in the West, who have made enormous fortunes in the electronic and computer industry? I don't think so, at least not in the near future. The racism at the basis of Indic studies, which Indians have experienced in their own education and of which they continue to hear from their children in college, has made them reluctant to support academic programs.

The Aryan affair is, nevertheless, of great interest to the anthropologist. Paraphrasing Leach, one may raise questions like: Why do serious people spend their lives in the elaboration of a racist paradigm? It seems to be like the scholiasts of the Middle Ages spinning volumes on how many angels can rest on the point of a needle!


<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Aiyar, R. Swaminathan. Dravidian Theories. The Madras Law Journal Office, Madras, 1975.

Geertz, C. Negara: The theatre state in nineteenth-century Bali. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1980, p. 104.

Iyengar, P.T. Srinivas. ``Did the Dravidians of India obtain their culture from Aryan immigrant?'' Anthropos, vol. 9, 1914, pp. 1-15.

Leach, Edmund. ``Aryan invasions over four millennia.'' In Culture through Time, Anthropological Approaches, edited by E. Ohnuki-Tierney, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1990, pp. 227-245.

Pandit, Lalita. "Caste, Race, and Nation:History and Dialectic in Rabindranath Tagore's Gora" . In Literary India: Comparative Studies in Aesthetics, Colonialism, And Culture." Eds. Patrick Colm Hogan and Lalita Pandit. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1995.

Shaffer, Jim and Lichtenstein, Diane. ``Migration, philology and South Asian Archaeology.'' In Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia: Evidence, Interpretation and Ideology, edited by J. Bronkhorst and M. Deshpande, CSSAS, Univ of Michigan, 1999.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

In addition to western Indologists we must add Indian Babujis too. There are many of them like Madhava Deshpande, Homi Baba and the whole SAJA crowd. Anybody with some brain will see that SAJA is a sepoy regiment created to keep real Hindus in check.
On Madhav Deshpande, (came via email):
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->namo namaH,

I am going through shaunakiiyaa caturaadhyaayikaa by Madhav M.
Deshpande, Harvard Oriental Series volume 52, Edited by Michael

I am utterly shocked and disgusted to find a string "[Pseudo]-"
prefixed to saayaNa in some places e.g. p323 in the note to 2.2.17

<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->
One should also note that the commentary of [Pseudo]-Sayana adopts ..
as for as my reading of [Pseudo]-Sayana's commentary goes,....
it is likely that [Pseudo]-Sayana have had no access to this text.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

couple of points for now:
1. As veda recitation has always been an oral tradiiton, the
presumption that saayaNa used written text is prima facia absurd.

2. In the interest of propriety, It should be stated that a great
vedaacaarya saayaNa did live during king bukka's regime and wrote
bhaashhya on almost all of sa.nhitaa, braahmaNa, aaraNyaka.

so the prefix [Pseudo] witha capital 'P' is unwarranted. I had
expected a much higher standard from Harvard.

About the book itself: consists of about 60% recycled Whitney
quotations with ample praises to Whitney (looks like the same idiot
Whitney who was never able to understand a word of tai. pr. and made
lousy mess of it making his book utterly unreadable) and a bit of
suuryakaanta bashing

aa no bhadraaH kratavo yantu vishvataH
What we need is Eastern Eurologists, who trash white history like they do to us.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->What we need is Eastern Eurologists, who trash white history like they do to us.


The condescending paternalists of the West have Orientalists, Egyptologists and Indologists, as if they are studying some animal species. Sort of like the primatologist Jane Goodall who routinely goes to Africa to study Chimpanzees.

These Indologists come to India to observe how the primates there have evolved.

We can establish a Eurology department and lead expeditions of learning and discovery into Europe to see how the de-pigmented Apes there have evolved.

One topic of great interest would be the Aryan Invasion Theory of Europe.
After all the Indo-europeans were late arrivals into Europe.

We need to study how they invaded, mixed with the primitive Finno-ugric savages and imposed Indo-european language and cultural patterns on the native apes.
which are the pre-aryan peoples of europe.

beaker men??
1. France spain - Basques
2. Italy - Etruscans. Rhaetic
3. Greece/Balkans/Crete - "Pelasgians" with interspersed Semetics .
4. Scandinavian countries - the Uralic Saami, Lapps, estonians, finns- originally from asiatic siberia with a cluster around the russian urals - these were a polar people who moved easliy among the ice caps
5. Germany - Nordwestblock
6. HUNgary - Mongolian(uralic?) Huns migrated in historical times - In fact, Europe has been repeatedly invaded and colonized by mongolians. there is no reason to believe this was not also the case in the pre-historic period.
7. Russia - Iranians/mongols – finno-ugric-auralic cluster around the urals
8. Pontic Steppes (ukraine)/Crimea - Sintoi from Sindh
9. Caucasus - there are +3 non-"IE" language families here in addition to significant Altaic Turkic imports
-Kartvelian or South Caucasian, (Georgian)
-Northwest Caucasian or Abkhaz-Adyghe (or Abkhaz-Circassian),
-Northeast Caucasian or Nakh-Daghestanian (includes Chechen and Ingush)

-Ossetian – a dialect of iranian
- Armenian – a northern Kurdish extension falsely described as non-iranian
10. 10% of the Balkan heartland is Gypsi Roma. Gyspsy languaged differentiated from /a/ to a-e-o as they migrated thru the mideast. It also lost the retroflexes. these two facts alone destroy the "PIE" fantasy.
11. Britain - African!!

greek itself is an armenian-kurdish-iranian dialect
A Jewish heresy predominates as the religion of europe. An invasion wasn't even necessary to destroy the culture of the europeans, they did willingly themselves almost in trance-like state.

this is the material that could not be covered up. knowing the albinos, there must be 95% more that has been effectively covered up under false paradigms.
thanks very much.

can you or someone else now tell us which aryan/non-aryan peoples then went on to mix with these originals??

for example the celts ended up in france, ireland, scotland and wales. etc

also who are (Italy -) Etruscans actually???
did they never have any mixing with westward bound aryans??
i heard that rome is actually a corruption of ... raam!! (this comes from a hare krishna site, the types that claim that abraham and sarai are brahma and swaraswati... dunno if they are at all true)

hungary gets its name from huns yes, as does romania from the roma.
the rus are part germanic part slavic.

finally - where did these PRE-aryan types enter europe from??
original migrations from africa or a pre aryan westward march from india or some place between india-africa.

as a slightly tangential question - north africans (algeria, egypt etc) are very fair compared to negritos and also have caucasian features - so whats their story?
Objectively speaking, there is a greater chance of an Aryan Invasion of Europe from India. The primary reason for the White-Indian connection appears to be the Indo-European language. Clearly Sanskrit is the oldest language in this branch, a language not spoken in Europe, so it's a reasonable assumption that Indians taught Euro's civilization. The Hittites (officially whose origin is a mystery) came from India as well.

Maybe some Indian Indiana-Jones can sniff around European ruins.

One topic of great interest would be the Aryan Invasion Theory of Europe.
After all the Indo-europeans were late arrivals into Europe.

We need to study how they invaded, mixed with the primitive Finno-ugric savages and imposed Indo-european language and cultural patterns on the native apes.
<!--QuoteBegin-agnivayu+Jan 28 2006, 12:58 PM-->QUOTE(agnivayu @ Jan 28 2006, 12:58 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->What we need is Eastern Eurologists, who trash white history like they do to us.

Who's going to fund this Eastern Eurologists? Indian Govt? "Think"-tanks in India? Corporate houses in India? These people could care less if the entire dept of history were trashed and flushed down the sewer. Or it's already happening?

Also, you are assuming that these Eastern Eurologists will find their western counterparts who'll will sell their own mother as easily as the likes of our Desh pande, Jha et al.
Maybe the funding may not be around now, but the importance is to start thinking like the other side. Why always be defensive ?
Hindu civilization is growing in power, we need to start thinking bigger.
I also truly believe that there was a strong Indian influence on western civilization, and therefore even some fair minded western historians may eventually want to investigate .

Europeans like any other people will do anything for money, just look at how China is being pumped up by western businessmen even when China will be a known threat to the west's interests in the future.

<!--QuoteBegin-Viren+Jan 29 2006, 09:32 AM-->QUOTE(Viren @ Jan 29 2006, 09:32 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><!--QuoteBegin-agnivayu+Jan 28 2006, 12:58 PM--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(agnivayu @ Jan 28 2006, 12:58 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->What we need is Eastern Eurologists, who trash white history like they do to us.

Who's going to fund this Eastern Eurologists? Indian Govt? "Think"-tanks in India? Corporate houses in India? These people could care less if the entire dept of history were trashed and flushed down the sewer. Or it's already happening?

Also, you are assuming that these Eastern Eurologists will find their western counterparts who'll will sell their own mother as easily as the likes of our Desh pande, Jha et al.
<!--QuoteBegin-ben_ami+Jan 29 2006, 02:05 AM-->QUOTE(ben_ami @ Jan 29 2006, 02:05 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->thanks very much.

can you or someone else now tell us which aryan/non-aryan peoples then went on to mix with these originals??

for example the celts ended up in france, ireland, scotland and wales. etc

also who are (Italy -) Etruscans actually???
did they never have any mixing with westward bound aryans??
i heard that rome is actually a corruption of ... raam!! (this comes from a hare krishna site, the types that claim that abraham and sarai are brahma and swaraswati... dunno if they are at all true)

hungary gets its name from huns yes, as does romania from the roma.
the rus are part germanic part slavic.

finally - where did these PRE-aryan types enter europe from??
original migrations from africa or a pre aryan westward march from india or some place between india-africa.

as a slightly tangential question - north africans (algeria, egypt etc) are very fair compared to negritos and also have caucasian features - so whats their story?

wil someone please answer the above questions and doubts.

most important of them all is the question of italians - cos if they have no indian blood, it means rome was formed all on its own.

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