Romila Thapar’s BS

A million thanks to JK for pointing me to a rather aptly titled piece, Lunch with BS: Romila Thapar. BS stands for Business Standard but from the tone, tenor, and content of the piece and the person it eulogizes, it more than deserves the other pejorative substitute: Bull Shit.

The article’s structure is quite fascinating: an extended review of an exotic Japanese meal interspered with liberal doses of undisguised fawning over Romila Thapar.

Romila Thapar was never really a historian. Post Eminent Historians, she became history. Romila Thapar is one of the reasons why ancient Sanskrit proverbs like Vruddha nari pativrata (An aged woman is always faithful to her husband) still have wide currency. But the secular press loves anybody who doesn’t make it take foolish risks.

The piece begins with a mention of blogs critical of Thapar.

Entire blogs have been devoted to Romila Thapar describing her as, among other things, the “High Priestess of Indian Marxism” and “a flat-earth type” and a “deeply mendacious enemy of the Hindus”.

Now, I’ve never taken a terrible pride in my blog nor do I harbour illusions that I’m doing some great service to a cause through my blog. But to my delight, I notice that this article mentions a term I applied to Romila Thapar five years ago: The High Priestess Speaks Again! Either my blog is that popular (which I seriously doubt) or it is a tribute to the blog-unearthing skills of the Business Standard guys. But lest we be misled, the authors add a quick but mandatory clarification that most of these blogs are “of a saffron shade, about Thapar’s “pinko” views on ancient Indian history..” The saffron shade explains everything. It does more. It shows her in an almost angelic halo–the harsher the Saffron criticism, the greater she must be is the default conclusion.

Business Standard is fully within its rights to slobber over Romila’s greatness as an alleged historian. Yet its readers deserve at least a balanced picture of a historian. This isn’t a gossip magazine where the sole intent is to only elevate a person to Demigodhood. No. History is a serious affair, and if Business Standard means business, it needs to stop reducing itself to the level of Filmfare or Stardust or Savvy or Society. The authors seem to be on a warlike mission to highlight Romila’s “achievements” like getting the Kluge chair, and simultaneously, take the cudgels on her behalf by belittling “communal” historians. In this laughably vain attempt, the authors descend to ridiculous depths like calling the Kluge prize “…a sort of “Nobel” for disciplines such as history, philosophy, politics, anthropology, sociology, religion and so on.” The Business Standard is not alone in this. Most Indian media houses seem to have assigned for themselves a God-given right to assume that their readers are ignorant by default. I challenge Business Standard to show me exactly one evidence that proves that the Kluge prize is a Nobel equivalent. Or perhaps it seems to suggest that it was transformed into a Nobel equivalent after Romila Thapar won the prize.

This piece is further evidence that Romila Thapar is only an alleged historian. A few examples are in order.

Her regret, she says, is that so much emphasis in modern times is put “only on the Valmiki version both in India and outside, that we’ve forgotten the fact that there were and are multiple versions.” What is interesting is not just that the Valmiki version travelled all over but “how people varied the story to express their concerns in their own versions”

I’ve already spoken about the hollowness of the claims of “different versions” of the Ramayana. While it is commonsense that when a popular epic traverses both geography and culture, the latter assimilates it and gives it its own shape. Because there are multiple versions doesn’t mean that the original is no big deal. Would these versions exist without the foundation of Valmiki’s original? But such is the insidious nature of Thapar’s ilk, who want us to believe that the original itself is insignificant.

No Romila Thapar Encomnium is complete without her “expert” view on the Aryan Tourist Migration Theory. Once a fierce proponent of the Aryan “Invasion” Theory, her gigantic ego must’ve been irreparably ruptured after she was forced to acknowledge that it was no longer sustainable. Hence the Aryan “Migration” Theory. But it is also a testimonial to the ignorance of the nitwits who wrote this piece de disgrace when they uncritically quote her

Thapar’s was among the first, for instance, to counter the conventional “oriental despot” view of Indian monarchy and demonstrate that the “Aryan” was a linguistic grouping, not a fair-skinned master race, that migrated to, and did not “invade”, north India and occasionally ate beef (this last point exercising Hindutva votaries the most).

Note again how the H word automatically proves Thapar’s thesis? An eminent linguist, Sanskritist, and scholar par excellence, the late Sediapu Krishna Bhatta conclusively proves how even Thapar’s fanciful linguistic theory actually proves the opposite: i.e. there was no invasion or migration.

Then we arrive at Exhibit 3:

The problem began with the British periodising Indian history into Hindu, Muslim and British and maintaining that Hindus and Muslims were always antagonistic towards each other. “This cannot be sustained historically.

And this another of the favourite Marxist construct, which conveniently blames the British for every real and imaginary communal conflict that existed historically. Also, she interestingly doesn’t give us one evidence to show how “it cannot be sustained historically.” If anything, the peaceful living conditions of Muslims under Hindu kings should be attributed to the tolerance of those Hindu rulers. On the opposite side of the scale, every Muslim king who conquered a Hindu kingdom first broke all its religious institutions, and symbols and enslaved its Hindu population. But we’re talking to a person who advocates that Aurangzeb was the progenitor of secularism. Here’s the deal: I challenge Romila Thapar to prove using the rigors of the scientific method that there was at least one period in Indian history that witnessed the Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai phenomenon.

Exhibit 4 is more fascinating and revealing:

Which raises the issue of her rebuttal of the “Golden Age” theory — another point that rankled with historians of a religious nationalist persuasion. “Golden ages all over world in various histories were a fashion among nineteenth-century historians. Most historians of present times have given up the idea. Nationalist thinking didn’t pay enough attention to the implications of the description nor was any attempt made to define it in detail. They just went on saying ‘it was a marvellous age of harmony and prosperity’. It’s like today when one hears talk about India Shining; few analyse what it means and what the implications are for the Indian citizen.”

This is in reality a tired tactic to dismiss genuine achievements of Hindu history. Look at what we lose when you dismiss the Golden Ages.

  • The Mauryas, a period close to 150 years of unparalled achievement
  • The Guptas, a period of roughly 300 years, perhaps the greatest empire under whom most of India rose to stupendous heights in all fields of human endeavour
  • The Chalukyas, again, about 200 years of accomplishment in art, music, poetry, philosophy, commerce and military
  • The Rashtrakutas–ditto as Chalukyas
  • The Cholas and Pandyas, between them more than a thousand years of development, prosperity, and high culture
  • The Vijayanagar Empire–perhaps the real reason for Romila Thapar’s angst against the “golden age” theory as she calls it. I leave it to your knowledge about the Vijayanagar Empire’s achievements.

In a line, you are asked to discard these because most historians have given up this theory. Yet, she doesn’t name even a single such historian. I suppose we should believe it because she says so. So what does that leave Indian history with? No prizes for guessing the correct answer. But the clue lies in “religious nationalist historian.” This choice of words automatically implies that the non-religious non-nationalist historian is the only “true” historian. In other words, the only historians are the Eminent Historians with Romila Thapar as the head honcho. But she’s too modest to say it in so many words. So, let’s see what a commonsense definition of a historian is. JK nails it in one of his best posts till date:

Any historian who identifies himself with a label – Orientalist, Marxist or Nationalist – has already pigeon-holed himself. They are bound by dogma and cannot accept any evidence which goes contrary to their predefined concepts. At that point they cease to be historians and become politicians. Historians like Upinder Singh now perpetuate such labels, implying that a historian has to belong to one such fraternity… We cannot live without historians and our choice is not between Orientalists, Marxists or Nationalists, but between good historians and bad ones.

Commit these lines to memory. It is evident which light this shows her in. The problem is Romila Thapar’s bullet has to take a circuitous route to hit the target. She can no longer openly call herself a Marxist historian because Marx’s pet “history” has so miserably failed his followers. She can no longer repeat the lies about Babri Masjid and Muslim atrocities and historical evidences. That leaves her with impotent invectives against a faceless beast called Hindutva, which she hasn’t managed to clearly define. But she is a past master of labelling and that’s what she does here.

Since she’s a “controversial” historian in a country that is witnessing a resurgence of muscular patriotism we feel compelled to ask her views on India as a “future superpower” and the rise of Hindutva. On the first, she says, “I think we’ve got a long way to go.” But more to the point, “America has behaved so outrageously in matters concerning the rest of the world that if this is written into being a superpower, one would not wish it for India.”

And yet, she had no qualms accepting the Kluge prize and serving on its chair. Nice. And therein lies a hint at the real problem as we shall see.

It is now time to remind Business Standard that it does its readers tremendous disservice by choosing selective facts about Romila Thapar and omitting the mountain of evidence that shows her in less than flattering light. By dismissing genuine criticism against this alleged historian as the rants of “saffron” bloggers, this paper actually insults the efforts of the really eminent men like Arun Shourie, Sita Ram Goel, and Koenraad Elst. Arun Shourie stands tall in this list because his book more than anything else, exposed the Marxist misdeeds in the ICHR. Does Business Standard have a factually convincing response to this?

This prima donna of Marxist history-writing now speaks about her own victimhood at the hands of the dreaded Hindutva votaries. Yet, in her peak, she and her clique routinely spat fire at everybody who had a different view. Monomaniacal, Communal, Nazi, Neo-colonialist, Laughable, Garbage, Bullheaded, Brawler, are but some of the fine terms her gang applied to those to “dared” to differ.

That this proud, card-carrying Marxist expounded her rehashed tripe over a Rs.3400 meal shows what she really is: neither a historian nor a Marxist but a self-serving fraud academic who made it big by latching on to the political fashion current in her youth.

It’s time Business Standard renamed itself.

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175 comments for “Romila Thapar’s BS

  1. Kishkindhaa
    February 27, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    More surprising is the status of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1, which, unlike mtDNA haplogroup I, is not indigenous to West Eurasia but appears to have originated in South Asia, possibly in the early settlements associated with the southern route dispersal [64]. This appears better substantiated than the alternative suggestion of a Central Asian origin [65].

    The marker which was suppose to indicate AIT turns out to have originated in India.

  2. Kishkindhaa
    November 12, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    Underhill’s latest study clearly shows R1a1 (M17) expansion out of South Asia.

    http://bit.ly/2JkKPI

  3. June 8, 2009 at 6:31 PM

    palahalli & kharaharapriya,

    Fast bowlers hunt in pairs. You seem to be emulating that strategy.
    Question: You’re not fast bowlers. What do you consider yourselves? What’s making you pair up? :-)

  4. kharaharapriya
    June 5, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    Pala,
    Dont accord any importance to Opinionated’s blog. Remember heckler who used opinionated’s blog link to point fingers @ modi and how they made fools out of themselves. :)

  5. June 5, 2009 at 2:21 AM

    Opinionated – I read through your piece on Arun Shourie and found it not distasteful but silly.

    Try harder next time.

  6. larissa
    June 5, 2009 at 12:04 AM

    Just a small note – the Kluge Prize was directly and intentionally set up as an arts & humanities equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and indeed attempts to match it financially. It clearly does not have the cachet or publicity of the Nobel Prize, but it is fair to call it an “equivalent” as that is stated in Kluge Center’s description of the Prize.

    Wow! Then anyone can get the prize such as Thapar? Who is next on line? Sen’s Argumentative Indian? Another piece of leftist hogwash? What about giving it to Andre Wink who does not write trash like Thapar and writes on the same topics with erudition and dedication and not the desire to push an ideology? Did they feel the need to be PC to give it to a historian like Thapar who distorts history without factual basis, makes personal assertions with nothing to back them up? It seems like they have lowered their standards in any case. Which is why such prizes can never be compared to a Nobel in Physics–you will not be able to get a prize for trash in the sciences….

  7. June 4, 2009 at 5:46 PM

    There will always be as many points of view as people.
    Ramchandra Guha says that the Indian middle class loves to judge other people. I’ve seen that this is true. Here is an example of the lofty being judged by the (presumably?) lowly.

    Here’s an opposing point of view. Yes, I mean the lofty judging the lowly. :-)
    http://1conoclast.blogspot.com/2008/06/deconstructing-arun-shourie.html

  8. Keir
    May 13, 2009 at 12:13 AM

    Just a small note – the Kluge Prize was directly and intentionally set up as an arts & humanities equivalent of the Nobel Prize, and indeed attempts to match it financially. It clearly does not have the cachet or publicity of the Nobel Prize, but it is fair to call it an “equivalent” as that is stated in Kluge Center’s description of the Prize.

  9. Kishkindhaa
    April 4, 2009 at 8:52 AM

    But, Johanna Nichols (1997, 1998) presents an alternative model for the epicenter of the Indo-European linguistic spread which addresses this eastern homogeneity in a strikingly different manner. Nichols’ Indo-European homeland thesis, which is the most recent homeland theory at the time of writing, places the origin of the Indo-Europeans well to the east of the Caspian Sea, in the area of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana. Since this is adjacent and partly overlapping the area where the Out-of-India/Indigenist school would place the homeland, her theory merits some attention. Nichols’ theory is partly predicated on the geographical relationship between loan words emanating from Mesopotamia into Indo-European via other language families (see Nichols 1997 for details), and partly for her assertion that the principle that area of greatest homogeneity of a language family is indicative of its locus or origin is demonstrably false for the languages of Central Asia. She cites Iranian, which spread over enormous stretches of Asia in ancient times, and Turkic, which likewise spread over major portions of Asia. as examples of languages whose greatest diversity occurred in refuge areas on the western periphery of their point of origin.

    In Nichols’ Bactrian homeland, PIE -expands- out of its locus eventually forming two basic trajectories. The language range initially radiates westward engulfing the whole area around the Aral sea from the northern Steppe to the Iranian plateau. Upon reaching the Caspian, one trajectory expands around the sea to the North and over the steppes of Central Asia to the Black Sea, while the other flows around the Southern perimeter and into Anatolia. Here we have a model of a continuous distribution of PIE without postulating any migrations whatsoever. By the third or second millennium BCE we have the proto-forms of Italic, Celtic, and perhaps Germanic in the environs of Central Europe and the proto-forms of Greek, Illyrian, Anatolia, and Armenian stretching from northwest Mesopotamia to the southern Balkans (1997: 134). Proto-Indo-Aryan was spreading into the subcontinent proper, while proto-Tocharian remained close to the original homeland in the Northeast.

    As this expansion was progressing into Europe, a new later wave of IE language, Iranian, is spreading behind the first language spread. Sweeping across the steppes of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the deserts of north Iran, the Iranian dialects separated the two preceding trajectories — which up till that time had formed a continuum — into two non-contiguous areas(one in central Europe to the North of the Caspian Sea, the other in Anatolia to its south). In time, the two original trajectories coincided in the Balkans. The Southern trajectory had meanwhile formed a continuous chain of Dacian, Thracian, Illyrian, Greek, and Phrygian spreading from west Anatolia to the Danube plain (ibid.: 136) From the northern trajectory, Italic spread to Italy from Central Europe, and Celtic to its historic destination, followed, in time, by Germanic which was followed, in turn, by Balto-Slavic. All these languages spread by expansion — there are no migrations throughout this whole immense chronological and geographical sequence.

    The corollary of Nichols model is that the assumed variegatedness of the western languages is only due to the fact that the later Iranian languages had spread and severed the contiguity of the northern and southern IE trajectories (which had previously formed an unbroken continuity around the east coast of the Caspian) while leaving behind Indo-Iranian and a stranded Tocharian to the east. The variegatedness of western languages is actually due to their situation on the western periphery of the original locus, or homeland. This model might also address the issue of why PIE did not evolve into more dialects in the putative homeland: the later westward spread of Iranian obliterated all of the eastern parts of the proto-continuum except for Indo-Aryan to its east, and the isolated Tocharian to the Northeast.

    Edwin Bryant

  10. cc
    April 3, 2009 at 7:43 AM

    Hey why am I not allowed to comment? I don’t understand.

  11. April 3, 2009 at 3:40 AM

    Dr. C.K. Raju writes in his blog the following revealing post:

    “Newton was an honest theologian. For fifty years he diligently researched all the manipulations which entirely transformed the Bible. Brought up virtually as an orphan, and living unmarried, he had no confidante to turn to. Afraid of the backlash, he understandably hid his work: an 8-volume history of the church.

    What is inexcusable is the way Newton’s 50-year effort remained hidden even after his death. Suppressed for over 250 years! It is Western historians I accuse of utter dishonesty, not Newton. If they could knowingly hide Newton’s lifework for so long, and continue trying to keep it hidden as Whiteside more recently did, nothing that Western historians say should be trusted or accepted on faith. For several centuries, European historians were mainly priests, writing in times of intense religious fanaticism, so their mindset was that of missionaries, out to glorify themselves and belittle others by any means possible, and without any regard for the facts.

    Of course, Newton did not invent the calculus, but neither does he claim credit for it. (It is Western historians who credit him for it.) Newton acknowledges a whole series of earlier mathematicians, including Cavalieri. Newton claims credit mainly for having made the calculus rigorous .

    Newton’s claim to rigour was wrong, even by Western standards of proof, and his more discerning contemporaries like Berkeley were well aware of it. However, Newton’s attempt at “rigour” socialised the imported calculus, and made it socially acceptable in the West. (Descartes and Galileo had earlier rejected it.)

    It is interesting to see the effect this had on his physics. Hoping to make calculus rigorous, Newton made time metaphysical. (“Absolute, true, and mathematical time” which flows on “without regard to anything external” is obviously a metaphysical notion, in fact, a religious one.) As pointed out in my expository paper (“Time:What is it that it can be Measured?” in Science and Education , 2005) this was a step backward from Newton’s predecessor, Barrow, who had called Augustine a “quack” for evading a clear physical definition of time. Barrow himself tried to supply such a definition, later corrected by Poincaré.

    The failure to define time properly led to the failure of Newtonian physics, and its replacement by Poincaré’s special theory of relativity. (The speed of light is postulated a constant, just to be able to measure time.)

    Newton, in the course of his priority dispute with Leibniz, over calculus, did claim credit for the sine series, and we know that this was factually false, for the sine series was known in India from a couple of centuries earlier.

    However, this claim too has to be put in the context of the prevailing Doctrine of Christian Discovery: according to which only Christians could be regarded as discoverers. The church decreed that ownership of a piece of land must go to the first Christian to spot it. (Hence, the claim that Columbus “discovered” America, or that Vasco da Gama “discovered” India.) The people already living on the land did not matter, and the church encouraged their killing on a mass scale, where possible, as actually happened on three continents. This doctrine was made into a law by the US supreme court, and that is where the current US law on land-ownership vis-a-vis the “Red Indians” stands.

    So, the point is this. Despite the horrendous historical injustice involved, it would be completely incorrect to say that anyone who owns a piece of land in the US today is a thief. It is not a matter of personal dishonesty, at all, but a matter of systematic appropriation.

    The same thing applies to what I have said about Newton. His claim to the sine series was part of a systematic process of intellectual appropriation during the centuries of extreme religious fanaticism in Europe: it was not a matter of personal dishonesty. Copernicus did nothing different, nor did Clavius, Tycho Brahe; in fact, these three directly knew the sources from which they were appropriating.”

    http://ckraju.net/blog/?p=30

  12. larissa
    April 3, 2009 at 2:08 AM

    Infinite series was also developed by Zeno, and does not comprise all of calculus. It takes a Newton to unify everything and put it together, and in the West you see calculus revolutionize Mathematics, which it did not in India. Keeping an open mind about the development of mathematics is different from saying calculus existed in India for thousands of years–you can say that about the Greeks also who developed infinite series…

  13. CC
    April 3, 2009 at 1:44 AM

    She just wants you to agree with her on everything she says. Deluded creature. Or maybe a feminist who thinks women are always right;)

  14. April 3, 2009 at 1:02 AM

    “They all appreciate Ramaanujam, just not your claims that calculus existed in India for thousands of years ago and other such nonsense.”

    Is this lady having some psychological problem? There are actual manuscripts in Cochin dating from the 11th century that have calculus equations written on them. What more proof does she want?

  15. Saurav Basu
    April 3, 2009 at 12:56 AM

    Liberalism and Orientalism are just the western and modern versions of Abrahamic Taquiya or propaganda.

    ->> I think we should be careful while rejecting orientalism. Why do you think guys like Edward Said have made a career out of criticizing orientalists. Many western critics of orientalists are nothing but Wahabi sponsored “Islamic apologists” The counter-critique of Orientalism by Bernard Lewis and Ibn Warraq has exposed Said’s mendacity

    ->> Some early orientalists believed Sanskrit was the IE homeland. At least, they clearly blamed the dark forces of radical Islam for the demise of the “Hindu civilization” until Mill and Charles Grant taught the English to think differently. Modern orientalists are keen to criticize orientalists who exposed the moral vacuity of islamists, but gleefully accept every objection they attributed to Hinduism, ethically, morally and spiritually.

  16. larissa
    April 3, 2009 at 12:28 AM

    I have said what I need to say–for in arguing with foolish people one only harms oneself, so I am going to stop responding.

  17. larissa
    April 3, 2009 at 12:25 AM

    The Aryan homeland question is the single most important historical conundrum faced by experts,

    Which experts? You battle problems which are old and settled already.

    And why should we care for the opinions of your “White” American friends? An average American is not mathematical whizkid, and need Not appreciate Indian contribution to mathematics. They can even ignore Ramanujam?

    Excuse me, I have friends who are mathematicians. They all appreciate Ramaanujam, just not your claims that calculus existed in India for thousands of years ago and other such nonsense.

  18. Kishkindhaa
    April 2, 2009 at 11:54 PM

    As soon as India becomes a very strong nation, people will start to become interested in things Indian, just as everyone is interested in things Japanese, although the culture of Japan is very recent. This is how this works.

    They are already “interested” in India. Crore upon crore of “funds” are pouring into India at the behest of not just missionaries but “secular” western agencies as well. I kindly suggest you to read Rajiv Malhotra’s The Axis of Neocolonialism to see the extent and purpose of their “interest”. The British did not just magically pack up and leave 50 years ago. They left behind their Apparatchiks and passed the baton to their cousins across the Atlantic. This is how things really work. AIT is an imperialist project in India AND it is a false account of India as well.

    Just as the Missionary declares his “love” for the Damned Heathen (as well as little children), the western modernist declares his “interest” in the native; Liberalism and Orientalism are just the western and modern versions of Abrahamic Taquiya or propaganda.

  19. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 11:06 PM

    Larissa does not accept any argument coming from an Indian or pro-Indian source.

    ->> She has a problem (sigh)

  20. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 11:05 PM

    If you want to go back 3000 years, why not go back 30,000 years, and 300,000,000 years, we all came from Africa, now does this result in the fact that Indian culture is just Arfican culture?

    ->> Why don’t u ask this very question to those who framed and perpetuated the hoax of the Aryan Invasion theory? The Aryan homeland question is the single most important historical conundrum faced by experts, and its answer has immense implications; it would actually change completely our perception of the Ancient past

  21. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 11:03 PM

    And why should we care for the opinions of your “White” American friends? An average American is not mathematical whizkid, and need Not appreciate Indian contribution to mathematics. They can even ignore Ramanujam?

    The argument on ‘strength of civilizations’ is akin to brute force survival of the fittest scenarios which is befitting for anglo saxons, not Hindus. America’s military bluff has been called in Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan

  22. larissa
    April 2, 2009 at 10:41 PM

    No. That’s not what I am saying. If you want to go back 3000 years, why not go back 30,000 years, and 300,000,000 years, we all came from Africa, now does this result in the fact that Indian culture is just Arfican culture? No–showing how illogical it is–I don’t understand why Indians are so obsessed–the fact that there might have been migrations into India, does not make the any group less Indian—that is my point. Why not go further back when India smashed as a sub-continent into Asia and created the Himalayas? Your logic is circular and I am going to stop replying to mono-minded peoples who do not think there is anything wrong in India apart from the question of who migrated to India.

  23. Kishkindhaa
    April 2, 2009 at 10:23 PM

    As as for trying to locate a precise homeland, no one engages in that sort of thing, as culture is fluid and changing and you will have to go even further back…and it is like trying to place a stick in quicksand…

    in other words, anywhere but India!!!

  24. larissa
    April 2, 2009 at 8:59 PM

    Someone told me about spelling Max Muller–I don’t know how to use the umlaut on the computer–But it is spelled Mueller as well by some.

  25. larissa
    April 2, 2009 at 8:52 PM

    ave you been anywhere near Western universities, especially their South Asian Studies departments?

    Yes I have. Not all what comes out of there is good. The quality of scholarship has deteriorated generally even in the West, but there is some good that comes out as well.

    It is not a question of not accepting arguments by Indians–I have read some good scholars from India, but most are not interested in Aryan debates–As as for trying to locate a precise homeland, no one engages in that sort of thing, as culture is fluid and changing and you will have to go even further back…and it is like trying to place a stick in quicksand…

    I was telling some American friends about Indian contributions in mathematics. They all laughed and said, such as how Indians discovered calculus and all the other Vedic maths?

    While HIndutva might be a good thing as a political movement, they have certainly caused a lot of damage as far as people taking Indians seriously, by coming up with a lot of voo dooo when it comes to scholarship–
    As soon as India becomes a very strong nation, people will start to become interested in things Indian, just as everyone is interested in things Japanese, although the culture of Japan is very recent. This is how this works.

  26. Harish
    April 2, 2009 at 6:47 PM

    Cant do much about what larissa claims.

    The common assumptions made by folks who accept the aryan theories propagated by people like Romila Thapar and Witzel or even Max Mueller are
    1. These ‘popular people’ are the best available experts on Sanskrit and vedic heritage
    2. That linguistics has come to the level of Mathematics whereby all axioms are listed and anybody can verify the theories based on these axioms
    3. That humanities is a subject whose experts do not have any kind of ideological biases
    4. That there is sufficient evidence available for the current theories and people like witzel make staments based on irrefutable evidences
    For all this-
    1. Firstly, neither was max mueller anywhere close to being the best vedic scholar nor were any of the so called indologists half as good as some of the best Indian Vedic scholars in the past century. Nor are the former as intelligent as the latter. Some of the Indian vedic schoalrs were among the most intelligent people in the 19 th century, whereas the best people in the west were busy with more modern vocations. Moreover these Indian scholars have learnt the traditions and the language ever since the age of five and considering their intelligence, it is hard to believe that a westerner who initially had no idea on vedic culture could understand better than an intelligent native expert. Thus it is but natural for Indians to feel outraged by the ridiculous interpretation of biased western scholars. And when educated Indians see obvious issues with the translations by half baked western scholars there is good reason to be irritated.

    2. lingistics and history as we read today is anything but science. any one who reads a book written by romila thapar will be able to understand why only if they think! Book is full of references and the reference are usually from another literature- but the reliablity of the account in the material is just an unknown factor- things are worse when there are rival accounts which are skipped!

    3. As numerous people have pointed out romila has herself committed to her bias. Mueller has openly admitted his belief in the greatness of his christian faith and so on.

    4. Witzel and his samudra is a classical example of how shaky a so called expert’s opinion can be. Another example is romila’s opinion on aurangazeb. If we go by their methods then I should not consider that my grandfather was really my grand father’s father because he was the only child of his parents and there is no one else I can confirm(based on genes). Any unbiased individual would accept my statement based on indirect evidences and well known family history. If someone tells me that since there is no concrete genetic evidence, I should disown my ancestor, it is ridiculous and the other person has to come up with something concrete to dislodge this view. If all Indians considered that sanskrit and brahmins were native of India and if there was nothing in its literature or in India’s culture to Indicate otherwise, no matter how well read max mueller or witzel may be they will have to come up with something concrete (clinching evidence and until then they should not make much noise ). They should stringly indicate to their readers that their theories are based on assumption x, y, z and that x ,y,z assumptions are yet to be substantatiated though there may be things that could indicate that these assumptions are true. An unbiased scholar is given away by the tone of his language. Moreover if these scholars have really established x, y,z then the logic should be so crystal clear that any one should be able to verify. Its true that only experts can propose a meaningful theory, but if the theory has been substantiated by atleast 10% , then every body will be in a position to accept it.This is currently not the case

  27. Kishkindhaa
    April 2, 2009 at 10:13 AM

    Talageri’s latest book expands upon his “archaism of the fringe” arguments. These arguments are devastating for all scenarios which place the homeland to the west of Afghanistan.

    Hittite, Tocharian and Italic are the dialects which, in any generally accepted schedule of migrations, were the first, second and third, respectively, to migrate from the original homeland; and the fact that they share a few isoglosses almost exclusively with each other (in spite of being found at opposite corners of the earliest attested dialectological arrangement), makes it likely that these isoglosses were formed due to interaction between these three dialects in an area near a common exit point from this original homeland as they moved away from that homeland. [The idea of the existence of a common exit point is also necessitated by the linguistic isolation of Hittite from all other branches. According to all the suggested migration schedules, Hittite was the first branch to separate completely from the rest, and all the other branches together developed certain fundamental features in common which are missing from Hittite. Any isoglosses shared by Hittite with some, but not all, of these other branches, are formed only after this initial separation, and could therefore only have been formed outside this common exit point when those branches were also moving out of the common homeland].

    The homeland, in fact, must therefore be situated in an area either to the north (the Artic Homeland?) or to the south (the Indian Homeland, or the Anatolian Homeland) of the general Indo-European world: the exit point, leading away from the other dialects, led into the Eurasian zone, from where the three dialects migrated or expanded into their earliest attested areas.

    But this cannot be to the north, since the last dialects in the homeland (see earlier), Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Armenian, Greek, and also Albanian as we shall see, are all found in their earliest attested stages, as the southernmost dialects of Indo-European.

    The Anatolian Homeland theory, likewise, fails to explain the isoglosses shared by the last branches in the Homeland: Winn points out that the Anatolian theory fails to explain “the Indo-Iranian problem.

  28. Kishkindhaa
    April 2, 2009 at 3:50 AM

    Sauravji,

    Larissa does not accept any argument coming from an Indian or pro-Indian source. In her case, Talageri and Kazanas would both be suspect. Therefore, it is necessary to quote more “neutral” sources such as Nichols and BBC ( in the hopes that she will momentarily abandon her ‘India is “poor” and “weak”‘ and ‘there is no such thing a colonialism, only pursuit of truth’ rhetoric ). Larissa affects a Meera Nanda-type Modernity and Neutrality facade. IMO, she needs a primer on colonial dynamics and how Christianity, Islam, and “Liberal Modernity” are all part of the same Abrahamic colonial spectrum, rather than a rehashing of Talageri.

    A lot of Indians suffer from this same “Modernism” bug. The truth of OIT or any particular topic is just a side issue for this subset. These fellows are even incapable of seeing the psyops in such western projects as ‘Slumdog’ and ‘Indiana Jones’; forget more advanced topics like western geopolitics in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Northeast, South, and how these relate to constructed Hindu versus tribal -or- Aryan versus Dravidian. Any problems will automatically be blamed on Indian “weakness” “callousness” “corruption” “insecurity” …….

  29. April 2, 2009 at 2:28 AM

    “it does not matter if you are white or not–if you write something compelling people of merit will recognize it.”

    This is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Have you been anywhere near Western universities, especially their South Asian Studies departments?

    You may have suckled on the milk of human kindness, but trust me there is a lot of mischief, racialism and politics in this world. Truth doesn’t matter one bit. All that matters is who is controlling the power and patronage structure. It has taken 150 years by Westerners just to admit that there is no proof for Aryan Invasion Theory.

    The problem is you are again and again making Western recognition the test of any man’s worth. This is nothing but mental slavery.

    What is this fetish with Nobel prize? It is just a Swedish award. Did Gandhi get a Noble Prize for peace? Do you have any idea why not? And here you are gassing about “it does not matter if you are white or not–if you write something compelling people of merit will recognize it.”

  30. April 2, 2009 at 2:21 AM

    “Two British researchers challenged the conventional history of mathematics in June when they reported having evidence that the infinite series, one of the core concepts of calculus, was first developed by Indian mathematicians in the 14th century.”

    Actually, these two british researches plagiarised Dr. C.K. Raju’s research. Dr. Raju complained. Both these dudes were sacked from their jobs. Maybe this can cure Larissa from treating Western professors as demi-gods.

    Here is the link to the news report:

    http://ckraju.net/press/HT25Aug07.jpg

    Larissa, nobody is alleging that Newton lifted calculus from Kerala (even though he said “I could see this far only because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.”)

    Dr. C.K. Raju’s research is that Calculus has existed in India for thousands of years and Jesuits lifted it and took it to Europe. He has given proof for this in terms of Indian manuscripts that still exist and the archived letters of Jesuits. Newtwon may or may have not seen the Indian manuscripts. What exactly is the problem that you are having with understanding this?

  31. larissa
    April 2, 2009 at 2:12 AM

    The fact that they lied about the seals is well known. Has nothing to do with if someone is a white man or not.
    The fact that Raju is not white has nothing to do with the fact that his books are not read out of India–Naipaul is not white, but he won the nobel prize in literature, although literature is not perhaps an apt comparison owing to its subjectivity. What are you trying to prove?
    In science, does not matter if you are white or not, similarly, in linguistics and archaeology, it does not matter if you are white or not–if you write something compelling people of merit will recognize it. If Lal is a great scholar according to you, then I find the implications of that I find rather scary.
    Anyway, I do not wish to discuss further, as this conversation always reverts to not being recognized because one is not white? I find this absurd.

  32. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 2:11 AM

    @kishkindaa

    2-3 yrs back [dont remember exactly], this was put up as a blog although I can now find no such evidence. I retract my words….but i still believe quoting an anonymous BBC article which could have been written by a non-expert does not do justice to our stand when we have a wealth of evidence to now deny both AIT and AMT. [except a few pseudoscholars and authors who dont upgrade their books no one believes in the former]

    Regards,

  33. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    Moreover, how come India produces so few nobel laureates now of of a nation of one billion?

    ->> Between 1901-1950, India produced three nobel prize laureates. In an independent nation, the tally might have touched even double digits [J C Bose, Sarat Chandra, Subramanyam Bharati, Gandhi, etc would have automatically qualified for the nobel prize]

    However between 1951-2010 India produced virtually none. Teresa won because of the Catholic connection, and Amartya Sen is the most un-Indian of all Indian nobel prize winners. [except one Dr Subhas Mukherejee who committed suicide when his colleagues and the government conspired to deny him his due in the making of 'Durga'.] Our ‘secular’ educational system and reservations will only produce imitative minds

  34. Kishkindhaa
    April 2, 2009 at 2:03 AM

    Sauravji,

    The following is the link for the BBC site:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/history/history_4.shtml

  35. larissa
    April 2, 2009 at 1:54 AM

    Well regarding Calculus, there was debate as to whether Newton or Liebnitz came up with it first, and there was a huge quarrel at the time—and the verdict was they developed it independently of each other…and this is entirely likely…
    Moreover, when someone comes up with something they can be influenced by many ideas, but unless they have directly plagiarized those ideas, it would be wrong to say that the influences were the ones which directly lead to the novel work, as in the case of those that claim calculus was invented already before Newton—you would have to show that Newton directly lifted someone’s work and plagiarized which I think would not be likely.
    Moreover, how come India produces so few nobel laureates now of of a nation of one billion? Should we not be concerned with this? Why no Indian institution ranks the top in the world? My interest is why India is backward now….
    I am sure as Indians progress and become a strong country, then people other than Indians will be interested in what they contributed in the past. The growth of China has resulted in an interest in Chinese history–this is what happens when a nation becomes strong–others start to look at it for inspiration–but when a nation is poor–even its past contributions to go dust–So India should be a strong country and the rest follows–but with the current politics in India, one can only be pessimistic. You know people voted for Congress even after bomb blasts in places like Delhi–so Indians can also disappoint.

  36. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 1:46 AM

    @larissa

    I told him not to quote blogs in the name of BBC.

    Nevertheless, a few moments ago, you defamed C K Raju only because he does not belong to a “white man’s” university.

    Similarly, linguistics is no absolute science and can be understood through secondary sources too. Witzel is only an expert in Linguists so how can he counter B B Lal, the doyenne of Indian archaeologists who was the second, after Dales to deny Wheeler’s AIT.

    You never understood the politics which sustained the AIT, which was used by the British to create imaginary 19th century Arya-Dravida divide, myth of white skinned arya, dark coloured dasyu divide and was (is) used by your Islamist friends to justify the Islamic invasions

    Moreover, the entire chronological substructure of Indian History is being rewritten in the light of the OIT. If we place RV at 3000-4000 B.C, it automatically makes the RV posterior to the IVS

  37. larissa
    April 2, 2009 at 1:36 AM

    he AIT is dead but your incompetence of people like you [no offense] more than keeps it alive.

    I have been hammering it into these people that no one takes this seriously so why should they waste time on it and why are they fixated on it?

  38. Kishkindhaa
    April 2, 2009 at 1:35 AM

    Calculus Was Developed in Medieval India
    by Stephen Ornes
    Discover, January 2008

    Two British researchers challenged the conventional history of mathematics in June when they reported having evidence that the infinite series, one of the core concepts of calculus, was first developed by Indian mathematicians in the 14th century. They also believe they can show how the advancement may have been passed along to Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who are credited with independently developing the concept some 250 years later.

    “The notation is quite different, but it’s very easy to recognize the series as we understand it today,” says historian of mathematics George Gheverghese Joseph of the University of Manchester, who conducted the research with Dennis Almeida of the University of Exeter. “It was expressed verbally in the form of instructions for how to construct a mathematical equation.”

    Historians have long known about the work of the Keralese mathematician Madhava and his followers, but Joseph says that no one has yet firmly established how the work of Indian scholars concerning the infinite series might have directly influenced mathematicians like Newton and Leibniz.

    Joseph and Almeida, who spent three years digging through ancient Indian texts and Vatican archives, believe Jesuit priests brought scientific knowledge from southern India to Western Europe. The priests were missionaries in India in the mid-16th century. They learned local languages and scientific practices and sent meticulous reports back to Europe.

  39. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 1:29 AM

    @larissa

    http://rac.sagepub.com/cgi/pdf_extract/45/4/45

    [Eurocentrism in the History of Mathematics: the case of the Kerala school by Dennis Almeida and George Joseph]

  40. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 1:26 AM

    @Kishkindhaa

    Man, you guys should really keep away from quoting BLOGS! [BBC has nothing to do with the BLOG] Yes, the AIT is dead but your incompetence of people like you [no offense] more than keeps it alive.

    And please don’t quote Frawley as he is not as much of an expert like Talageri and Kazansas

    @larissa

    have u read Talageri 1993,2000 and 2008? Or even Nicolas Kazansas? Or Elst? And why does a linguist involve himself denying the authenticity of a horse seal?

  41. Saurav Basu
    April 2, 2009 at 1:21 AM

    The linguistic argument has been convincingly debunked by Talageri in his latest book “Rigveda and Avesta: the final evidence”

    The banker has finally out-punched the Harvard professor

  42. April 2, 2009 at 12:05 AM

    Dear “brown sepoy” Larissa, all I can say is, I pity your intelligence. You are blind to the obvious.

  43. larissa
    April 1, 2009 at 11:51 PM

    everal kinds of evidence for the PIE locus have been presented here. Ancient loanwords point to a locus along the desert trajectory, not particularly close to Mesopotamia and probably far out in the eastern hinterlands. The structure of the family tree, the accumulation of genetic diversity at the western periphery of the range, the location of Tocharian and its implications for early dialect geography, the early attestation of Anatolian in Asia Minor, and the geography of the centum-satem split all point in the same direction: a locus in western central Asia. Evidence presented in Volume II supports the same conclusion: the long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all three trajectories points to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea. The satem shift also spread from a locus to the south-east of the Caspian, with satem languages showing up as later entrants along all three trajectory terminals. (The satem shift is a post-PIE but very early IE development). The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana

    Sanksrit is akin linguistically to the other classical Indo-European languages such as Greek and Latin–. This does not mean that Greeks and others created Indian culture. Indians did. What exactly are you trying to prove? Linguistic similarity says nothing about racial similarities–as people migrate and intermarry their genetic strains also changes and you also have linguistic variation. If you go further back you will end up in Africa. So? Name one country that has not had migrations?

  44. larissa
    April 1, 2009 at 11:46 PM

    everal kinds of evidence for the PIE locus have been presented here. Ancient loanwords point to a locus along the desert trajectory, not particularly close to Mesopotamia and probably far out in the eastern hinterlands. The structure of the family tree, the accumulation of genetic diversity at the western periphery of the range, the location of Tocharian and its implications for early dialect geography, the early attestation of Anatolian in Asia Minor, and the geography of the centum-satem split all point in the same direction: a locus in western central Asia. Evidence presented in Volume II supports the same conclusion: the long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all three trajectories points to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea. The satem shift also spread from a locus to the south-east of the Caspian, with satem languages showing up as later entrants along all three trajectory terminals. (The satem shift is a post-PIE but very early IE development). The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana

    Sanksrit is akin linguistically to the other classical Indo-European languages such as Greek and Latin–. This does not mean that Greeks and others created Indian culture. Indians did. What exactly are you trying to prove? Linguistic similarity says nothing about racial similarities–as people migrate and intermarry their genetic strains also changes and you also have linguistic variation. If you go further back you will end up in Africa. So? Name one country that has not had migrations?

  45. larissa
    April 1, 2009 at 11:32 PM

    And you are a sepoy guarding half-baked theories which are of no importance including the one you claim to protest–there is no need to protest it as scholars do not claim what you state. Believing in migrations into India does not imply India’s culture wholly came from outside…. You seem to battle self created obstacles formed out of our own mind based on misunderstandings of the work of scholars–why do you not battle other real obstacles worth fighting?

  46. larissa
    April 1, 2009 at 11:26 PM

    As I said before, you are just a brown sepoy guarding white man’s fortress.

    HAA! Because I do not believe calculus was invented in India before Newton? What are you going to accuse me of next?

  47. April 1, 2009 at 11:03 PM

    Larissa, you have no idea of the implications of Aryan Migration Theory on today’s India, do you? Indians have always been strategically blind, so it is natural for you not to comprehend the terrible mischief and social destabilisation that can be casued in today’s India by AIT theory. It is a recipe for north-south civil war, and trust me the Goras and their church are leaving no stone unturned to launch it. Rwanda genocide is a recent example of what can happen by these migration theories based on race invented by missionaries. But let not that bother you as migration / tourism of races is normal for you.

    Dr. C.K. Raju is a quite well known academic. He is the one who set up the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) at Pune which is India’s only agency producing super-computers. Even the communists don’t claim that he is a Hindutwa-wadi.

    As I said before, you are just a brown sepoy guarding white man’s fortress.

  48. Kishkindhaa
    April 1, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Enjoy.

    Several kinds of evidence for the PIE locus have been presented here. Ancient loanwords point to a locus along the desert trajectory, not particularly close to Mesopotamia and probably far out in the eastern hinterlands. The structure of the family tree, the accumulation of genetic diversity at the western periphery of the range, the location of Tocharian and its implications for early dialect geography, the early attestation of Anatolian in Asia Minor, and the geography of the centum-satem split all point in the same direction: a locus in western central Asia. Evidence presented in Volume II supports the same conclusion: the long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all three trajectories points to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea. The satem shift also spread from a locus to the south-east of the Caspian, with satem languages showing up as later entrants along all three trajectory terminals. (The satem shift is a post-PIE but very early IE development). The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana

  49. larissa
    April 1, 2009 at 10:09 PM

    Accepting migrations of peoples into India means none of the above quoted by BBC. It is Indians themselves who make an issue out of a non-issue–India has had migrations–does not mean that accepting this makes you accept the above by BBC. Why is everything framed in a colonial context including the works of scholars that non linguists no not properly understand? Is this why subaltern studies and other such nonsense are gaining in popularity?

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