Friday, February 13, 2015

Why did Zoroastrianism fall but Hinduism didnt?


The Zoroastrians had the privilege of a mighty empire of which ruled the entire Middle East along with parts of South Asia in the form on Achaemenid and Sassanid empires.

The latter especially had routinely humiliated the Romans and was an unstoppable force until the Arab invasion.

The question remains as to how this highly centralized empire fall to a few thousand horsemen from Arabia while the fractured kingdoms in Bharatavarsha prone to internecine warring manage to thwart their attempts once for all.

Here we will concentrate on the Arab attempts rather than the later Turkic Muslims who of course far more successful in making inroads into India as that was a different era (300-400 years later) and all the different social, political, economic,military and religious differences it entailed.

Perhaps we need to realize that first and foremost Zoroastrianism like Buddhism places ethics such as non violence on a rather high plane



Firstly Zoroastrianism was thoroughly unoriginal.

Its art and sculpture was lifted from the Assyrians
Its theology (inverted) from Hindus
Its administration and laws from the Elamites
And its clothing from the Central Asians
Its architecture from the Babylonians

Hindutvadis may dislike Rajesh Kocchar but I believe his heart is in the right place, even if his head is often not. But when he is right, he is right. He was especially perceptive in contrasting the warlike Devas such as Indra with the placid As(h)uras of Persia.

Zoroastrianism gained prominence by becoming the chosen religion of the Median,Achaeminid and Sassanian elites and gained recognition and status accordingly. It was never in itself a religion associated with a martial people but that of a priestly and mercantile class.

Not dissimilar to how a seemingly pacific Christianity became the chosen religion of the most powerful empire in the region a 1000 years later(Rome and Byzantine). Or how relatively pacific Buddhism and Jainism became the choice of religion of the Japanese Shoguns, imperial Mauryas and militaristic Rashtrukutas and Kalingas respectively.Why the kings and warrior elites would yield to relatively pacific faiths in contrast to their warlike native deities is an interesting question. I can only speculate that its because these religions are also expansionary and missionary in instinct first and foremost. And they find this inclination helpful as the missionaries can act as very potent agents of state propaganda on ground.

Even today Buddhist priests in Sri Lanka, Burma ,Thailand are not exactly shrinking violets when it comes to waging war against those they see as threats to the states with whom they are intertwined.

The downside to this is in such a centralized fusion of church and state, all a determined invader has to do is liquidate the elites ,political,military and religious and the religion falls due to failure of patrons and support.

This is what transpired with both the Islamic conquest of Sassanid Persia and Byzantine Empire. The bulk of the population turned Muslim almost overnight as due to their historical experience, they associated their religion with the temporal power which lorded over them and now that another religious group(Islam) held that power, it was thought prudent to convert to that religion

Contrast this to India. Not only was it far more difficult for the Muslims to militarily defeat the Hindus.
It also didn't help that the Persian empire was overwhelmingly as land based one as they didn't care too much for the sea. Indeed they believed that the devil resided in salt water. This distaste was naval expeditions was to some extant adopted by Northern Hindus were influenced by Zoroastrians ideas and hence the empires of Mauryas(which consciously based itself on the Persian model) and Guptas were lacking in strong naval forces but those southerners who had less to do with Persians such as Satavahanas, Cholas ,Pallavas and Pandyas had impressive sea based empires in South East Asia where Hinduism thrived even as it faced difficult times in the mother land.
It was therefore very difficult for them to eradicate the faith not just in the mainland but also in places such as Indonesia and Malaysia(though they still try today) as they had done successfully with Christians and Zoroastrians in the Middle East.

Not that they didn't try. They massacred Brahmins , burnt scriptures and destroyed temples en masse. But in all likelihood they killed Brahmins who were associated with the royal elite and not so much the Vedic scholars and family priests. And even so, many of the so called illiterate castes were more than familiar with the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the various stories of Devas and Asuras battling it out in the Puranas and Vedas.
To say nothing of the Rishi, Munis, tantrics and other assorted groups who were not part of society proper and therefore were even difficult to reach.

Furthermore Brahmins were expectedly to mobile and travel to regions where they were needed or in this case provided shelter ,security and livelihoods.
Hence a good number fled to Nepal or the South where they were instrumental in various renaissances of Hindu culture and political revival from Vijayanagar and Vidyranya all the way to Marathas and Thyagaraja.

What is interesting about Vijayanagar is that to some extant it was similar to the Persian and Byzantium state . It was self consciously a Hindu civilization with "the protection of Brahmins,cows and Vedas" practically as its constitution. So when it was centre of that state was attacked by combined Muslim armies, it collapsed just as readily as Byzantium and Persia. It was upto the Marathas who, while looked upto Vijayanagar as a cherished ideal of Hindu samrajya, were a mobile ,more egalitarian and rustic cavalry culture to exploit the decentralized nature of Hindu culture in order to deliver a crushing blow to Muslim power.
Of course they had made serious errors in the process, least of which was a lack of patronization of Hindu arts,court culture, temple construction and sciences. But that is beyond the scope of this essay.

The core of Hinduism resides not in the courts,big temples and its associated fat cat priets  but in the Vedic pathashaalas, sacred groves and the folk culture of  the rural people.
Arts and sciences which were patronized in the cities were often derived from Vedic traditions of shastras,sutras, samhitas which dealt with topics as diverse as metallurgy, logic, astronomy, medicine, surgery, mathematics, sculpture, geometry, architecture, weapons not to mention more arcane topics such as ornithology and taming elephants!

A good deal of this was lost during the Muslim invasions but good news was that the base of Hinduism which was preserved in the rural areas could be invoked in order to create the same again.
And in some ways the success of present day Hindus in the sciences is a legacy not so much of the ballyhooed British educational system(which is frankly a disaster) but the innate curiosity of the average Hindu for the understanding of the universe which the Vedas encourage.
Of course there are caveats to the anti dogmatism of Hindus coupled with lack of the Vedic insistence of the concept of discrimination (much lamented by Vivekandanda)is that they are susceptible to believing in a lot of rubbish which appeals to their sentimental and perverse complex of victimhood rather than their intellect.

Iranians today OTOH while not exactly duffers in scientific pursuits are more into finance and trading. Much like their blood relatives in Gujarat ,Sindh and Rajasthan who were often ruled by Iran or were descended from tribes speaking an Iranian dialect(Gujjars)

However all is not lost for Zoroastrians...

What is interesting is the difference between the pantheons and structure of Zoroastrianism and Vedic Hinduism. This in turn dictated Islam's relationship with each.

Zoroastrianism despite its borrowing of the Vedic pantheon is essentially a dualist religions where the major figures are Ahura Mazda and Ahriman which roughly correspond to Allah and Shaitan in the Quranic scriptures.

Hence it was much easier to subsume Zoroastrian followers into Islam. A product of which is the nearly millennia long evolution of Shiism. Today the appeal of Shiism particularly in Iran is type of anti Arab nationalism

In a somewhat similar manner the Catholic church attempted to gain as many European converts as possible by appropriating the pagan gods as saints or demons as the situation demanded.

Some Padres even went as far as to pose as Hindu sanyassins and elaborate Christian theology in a Vedic garb. Due to severe backlash from Hindu revivalists, this tactic was discarded.

To be sure Arab Muslims did not intend for their religion to become a vehicle of anti Arab Persian imperialism which threatens Sunni Arabs in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Lebanon in contemporary times. It is due to the dynamic culture of the Persians that they managed to appropriate Islam for their own purpose. It is significant that the most observed festival is not Eidh ul Fitr or al Adha but Navroz , the Spring New Year associated with pagan traditions possibly pre dating Zoroaster.
In my trips to Dubai, Persia and Los Angeles I have met Persian Muslims wearing proudly the symbol of Zoroaster on their person as necklaces or windshields of their cars or storefronts.

So it is not to say that Zoroastrianism has been totally wiped out in the home country but it survives in an underground form. It is not an insignificant fact that they thrive in India.

My point I wished to make is that Hinduism didn't need to go underground to survive and thrived in its millennia long battle against Islamic iconoclasm. While Persian Zoroastrians quickly collapsed but pursued their pre Islamic in the Trojan horse of Shiite Islam.

The difference between the two religions dictated how the adherents dealt with Islamic imperialism.






33 comments:

  1. YSV you have touched a diverse set of points in this analysis .I read your essay yesterday,but due to paucity of time I couldn't give my comments.Your essay was very interesting and covers a wide perspective.

    "He was especially perceptive in contrasting the warlike Devas such as Indra with the placid As(h)uras of Persia." - On what point did he contrast?Is it the issue of nonviolence in Zoroastrianism?And I would like to know your views on how Ahuras(Ashura) were assimilated in Persia as symbols of nonviolence.

    "Perhaps we need to realize that first and foremost Zoroastrianism like Buddhism places ethics such as non violence on a rather high plane" - I think that aggressive preaching of Buddhism is inherently contradictory .This contradiction was already started by the emperors soon after the demise of Buddha,and so we really can't blame Shoguns for taking up Buddhism.


    "Not that they didn't try. They massacred Brahmins , burnt scriptures and destroyed temples en masse. " - They attacked the cultural diversity but couldn't destroy our religion.As you have pointed out,Hinduism is not an assimilation,rather it is deep-rooted in India.Attacking Brahmins and burning scriptures can be equated to the trimming of a tree but it wasn't enough to uproot.

    "Some Padres even went as far as to pose as Hindu sanyassins and elaborate Christian theology in a Vedic garb" -YSV does this exist any more? I never knew that Padres even attempted to take up Hindu customs and Vedic cover.

    " It is not an insignificant fact that they thrive in India." -Rather the Persian community of India is among the richest communities and the average level of education is also very high among them.

    YSV what is your view on Jainism?Can it be considered an adaptation of Hindu philosophy?I am asking this because the Hinduism-Jainism interaction might have been similar to the Islam-Zoroastrianism,ie,if Jainism is considered to have come off from ancient Sanatan Dharma.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. We dont know too much about the era between the seperation of Vedic and Persian peoples and the latters belief system and Zoroaster. But suffice to say he was considered a proto Buddha. Some IRanians even go as far as to claim that Buddha borrowed from Zoroaster!

      No religion is truly pacific as the founders resided in a flesh and blood world rife with wars and they had to acknowledge the situation.

      Read the last link by Voice of India about padre's dirty tricks, It is certainly the definitive work.

      I dont know much about Jainism because honestly I havent been interested about it. But I dont agree with your analogy. Mahavir Jain was inspired by Mahkali Ghosala who was very much an extreme ascetic type who stated that a liberated person could kill all the worshippers in the Ganges and incur no sin!

      Delete
  2. I have read all your posts so far and found them to be very informative. However, I do take issue with something you mentioned here- that Zoroastrianism borrowed from Hinduism. It rather sounds like what.. *ahem* someone else would say :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. The peculiar case of 's' and 'h' in Persia and thereby the case of 'What should the original name of the inhabitants of present day India be'?

    The Persians pronounce their Persian language 'Farsi' as 'Farsi' and not 'Farhi'.
    Similarly, Persian words like sabzi should be pronounced as habzi, shikari would be hhikari etc but that is not the case.

    So shouldn't the Persians be able to pronounce Sindhu and Asura?

    from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_River
    The word "Indus" is the romanised form of the ancient Greek word "Indós" (Ἰνδός), borrowed from the old Persian word "Hinduš", which in turn was derived from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu" (सिन्धु pronounced [sɪndʱuː]

    If you think the above is right and I can further elaborate on this?

    BTW can you elaborate more on this guy pilarmiro who is doing rounds on indian news websites and Write your next blog about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj debunking what he is propagating?
    Since he is now attacking Indian Heroes and wants Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj name removed from Father of the present Indian Navy.

    So pilarmiro is from Catalunya who apparently is an agent engaged in Breaking India.(Rajiv Malhotra has mentioned 3 global networds who wants to break India in his book Breaking India)

    this is his disqus account
    https://disqus.com/by/pilarmiro/#

    and these are his comments that caught my eye.
    about banning the documentary India's Daughter, you might firmly request them to issue a worldwide ban on some books banned in India or soon to be: a) The Satanic Verses b) Nine hours to Rama(about Godse) c) Sex Life in the Levant e) Hinduism: An Alternative History, f) Shivaji, The Hydrophobic Mountain Rat. The last named book I am myself writing and will be ready next month.

    this comment is the part of the comment that was removed due to moderation
    Don't remove my post shameful and cowardly Indian readers) Read "The Marathas, Volume 2, 1600--1818" by Steward Gordon, (New Cambridge History of India), Cambridge University Press, 2006, page 90.

    See also Catherine B. Asher, Cynthia Talbot, "India before Europe," Cambridge University Press, 2009, "Their (the forts') function was to protect Shivaji's navy against pirates and predatory European fleets, since the small size of the Maratha ships

    He seems to be avid supporter of bullshit like Hinduism Alternative history from wendy who also is an agent engaged in Breaking India by creating doubts and spreading lies and uncertainty in the minds of the Indians and the next comment he made is what actually caught my eye since he is using biased* British sources and using the suffix hydrophobic.
    * = it seems to be since the british were very critical of him and Shivaji was also the one who saw through the deception of the british very early on.

    So I would like you to debunk his hydrophobic non-sense.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The peculiar case of 's' and 'h' in Persia and thereby the case of 'What should the original name of the inhabitants of present day India be'?

    The Persians pronounce their Persian language 'Farsi' as 'Farsi' and not 'Farhi'.
    Similarly, Persian words like sabzi should be pronounced as habzi, shikari would be hhikari etc but that is not the case.

    So shouldn't the Persians be able to pronounce Sindhu and Asura?

    from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_River
    The word "Indus" is the romanised form of the ancient Greek word "Indós" (??d??), borrowed from the old Persian word "Hinduš", which in turn was derived from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu" (?????? pronounced [s?nd?u?]

    If you think the above is right and I can further elaborate on this?

    BTW can you elaborate more on this guy pilarmiro who is doing rounds on indian news websites and Write your next blog about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj debunking what he is propagating?
    Since he is now attacking Indian Heroes and wants Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj name removed from Father of the present Indian Navy.

    So pilarmiro is from Catalunya who apparently is an agent engaged in Breaking India.(Rajiv Malhotra has mentioned 3 global networks who wants to break India in his book Breaking India)

    this is his disqus account
    https://disqus.com/by/pilarmiro/#

    and these are his comments that caught my eye.
    about banning the documentary India's Daughter, you might firmly request them to issue a worldwide ban on some books banned in India or soon to be: a) The Satanic Verses b) Nine hours to Rama(about Godse) c) Sex Life in the Levant e) Hinduism: An Alternative History, f) Shivaji, The Hydrophobic Mountain Rat. The last named book I am myself writing and will be ready next month.

    this comment is the part of the comment that was removed due to moderation
    Don't remove my post shameful and cowardly Indian readers) Read "The Marathas, Volume 2, 1600--1818" by Steward Gordon, (New Cambridge History of India), Cambridge University Press, 2006, page 90.

    See also Catherine B. Asher, Cynthia Talbot, "India before Europe," Cambridge University Press, 2009, "Their (the forts') function was to protect Shivaji's navy against pirates and predatory European fleets, since the small size of the Maratha ships

    He seems to be avid supporter of bullshit like Hinduism Alternative history from wendy who also is an agent engaged in Breaking India by creating doubts and spreading lies and uncertainty in the minds of the Indians and the next comment he made is what actually caught my eye since he is using biased* British sources and using the suffix hydrophobic.
    * = it seems to be since the british were very critical of him and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was also the one who saw through the trader facade and deceptions of the british very early on.

    So I would like you to debunk him.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The peculiar case of 's' and 'h' in Persia and thereby the case of 'What should the original name of the inhabitants of present day India be'?

    The Persians pronounce their Persian language 'Farsi' as 'Farsi' and not 'Farhi'.
    Similarly, Persian words like sabzi should be pronounced as habzi, shikari would be hhikari etc but that is not the case.

    So shouldn't the Persians be able to pronounce Sindhu and Asura?

    from Wikipedia of Indus_River
    The word "Indus" is the romanised form of the ancient Greek word "Indos" , borrowed from the old Persian word "Hindus", which in turn was derived from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu" pronounced

    If you think the above is right and I can further elaborate on this?

    BTW can you elaborate more on this guy pilarmiro who is doing rounds on indian news websites and Write your next blog about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj debunking what he is propagating?
    Since he is now attacking Indian Heroes and wants Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj name removed from Father of the present Indian Navy.

    So pilarmiro is from Catalunya who apparently is an agent engaged in Breaking India.(Rajiv Malhotra has mentioned 3 global networks who wants to break India in his book Breaking India)

    this is his disqus account
    disqus. (remove space) com/by/pilarmiro/

    and these are his comments that caught my eye.
    about banning the documentary India's Daughter, you might firmly request them to issue a worldwide ban on some books banned in India or soon to be: a) The Satanic Verses b) Nine hours to Rama(about Godse) c) Sex Life in the Levant e) Hinduism: An Alternative History, f) Shivaji, The Hydrophobic Mountain Rat. The last named book I am myself writing and will be ready next month.

    this comment is the part of the comment that was removed due to moderation
    Don't remove my post shameful and cowardly Indian readers) Read "The Marathas, Volume 2, 1600--1818" by Steward Gordon, (New Cambridge History of India), Cambridge University Press, 2006, page 90.

    See also Catherine B. Asher, Cynthia Talbot, "India before Europe," Cambridge University Press, 2009, "Their (the forts') function was to protect Shivaji's navy against pirates and predatory European fleets, since the small size of the Maratha ships

    He seems to be avid supporter of bullshit like Hinduism Alternative history from wendy who also is an agent engaged in Breaking India by creating doubts and spreading lies and uncertainty in the minds of the Indians and the next comment he made is what actually caught my eye since he is using biased* British sources and using the suffix hydrophobic.
    * = it seems to be since the british were very critical of him and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was also the one who saw through the trader facade and deception of the british very early on.

    So I would like you to debunk him.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Replies
    1. checkpost # 4

      ysv_rao, can u open anonymous or remove spam filter since I
      cant post my comment through either OpenID or Livejournal for some unknown reason.

      Delete

    2. Haha! Thank you Prem Chand, but unlike the certain someone I base my assertions on snippets and circumstantial evidence in the Rg Veda and Avesta such as the Battle of Ten Kings. Most scholars are in agreement that the oldest part of the Avesta correspond to the younger parts of the Vedas.

      It is really not that far fetched a claim. But I think the general assumption is that Hinduism and Zoroastrianism sprung from a common source with is now lost. That seems nonsense when there is so much base buildings blocks of Zoroastrianism in Hinduism already

      And there is also the spiritual signficane of the rites and rituals which attained perfection in India , not Iran.

      Delete
  7. Attempt 10th through openID instead of livejournal.

    The peculiar case of 's' and 'h' in Persia and thereby the case of 'What should the original name of the inhabitants of present day India be'?

    The Persians pronounce their Persian language 'Farsi' as 'Farsi' and not 'Farhi'.
    Similarly, Persian words like sabzi should be pronounced as habzi, shikari would be hhikari etc but that is not the case.

    So shouldn't the Persians be able to pronounce Sindhu and Asura?

    from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_River
    The word "Indus" is the romanised form of the ancient Greek word "Indós" (??d??), borrowed from the old Persian word "Hinduš", which in turn was derived from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu" (?????? pronounced [s?nd?u?]

    If you think the above is right and I can further elaborate on this?

    BTW can you elaborate more on this guy pilarmiro who is doing rounds on indian news websites and Write your next blog about Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj debunking what he is propagating?
    Since he is now attacking Indian Heroes and wants Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj name removed from Father of the present Indian Navy.

    So pilarmiro is from Catalunya who apparently is an agent engaged in Breaking India.(Rajiv Malhotra has mentioned 3 global networks who wants to break India in his book Breaking India)

    this is his disqus account
    https://disqus.com/by/pilarmiro/#

    and these are his comments that caught my eye.
    about banning the documentary India's Daughter, you might firmly request them to issue a worldwide ban on some books banned in India or soon to be: a) The Satanic Verses b) Nine hours to Rama(about Godse) c) Sex Life in the Levant e) Hinduism: An Alternative History, f) Shivaji, The Hydrophobic Mountain Rat. The last named book I am myself writing and will be ready next month.

    this comment is the part of the comment that was removed due to moderation
    Don't remove my post shameful and cowardly Indian readers) Read "The Marathas, Volume 2, 1600--1818" by Steward Gordon, (New Cambridge History of India), Cambridge University Press, 2006, page 90.

    See also Catherine B. Asher, Cynthia Talbot, "India before Europe," Cambridge University Press, 2009, "Their (the forts') function was to protect Shivaji's navy against pirates and predatory European fleets, since the small size of the Maratha ships

    He seems to be avid supporter of bullshit like Hinduism Alternative history from wendy who also is an agent engaged in Breaking India by creating doubts and spreading lies and uncertainty in the minds of the Indians and the next comment he made is what actually caught my eye since he is using biased* British sources and using the suffix hydrophobic.
    * = it seems to be since the british were very critical of him and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaji was also the one who saw through the trader facade and deception of the british very early on.

    So I would like you to debunk his hydrophobic non-sense.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The peculiar case of 's' and 'h' in Persia and thereby the case of 'What should the original name of the inhabitants of present day India be'?

    The Persians pronounce their Persian language 'Farsi' as 'Farsi' and not 'Farhi'.

    Similarly by the logic used my many historians and also in the above blog, Persian words like 'sabzi' should be pronounced as 'habzi', 'shikari' would be 'hhikari' etc but that is not the case.

    So shouldn't the Persians be able to pronounce Sindhu and Asura?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Now I am able to post

    from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_River
    The word "Indus" is the romanised form of the ancient Greek word "Indós" (??d??), borrowed from the old Persian word "Hinduš", which in

    turn was derived from the Sanskrit word "Sindhu" (?????? pronounced [s?nd?u?]

    If you think the above is right and I can further elaborate on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had noticed your previous posts in my email though I guess it didn't end up here for some reason or any other. Sorry about that, I don't know what is the default criteria of BlogSpot for blocking/spamming comments

      I think Wikipedia is correct. India/Hinduism/Hindusthan et al are names given to us by foreigners be they Greeks,Muslims or British.

      We referred to our country as Bharatavarsha and our religion simply as Dharma.

      Regarding H and S. Lots of Bengalis and Biharis use b instead of v. For example Vikram becomes Bikram and so on.

      Different people have different ways of pronouncing the same word. Of course Persians had the s letter and sound. As to why they didn't use it in the case of India related terms -who knows? Perhaps they dealt with foreigners differently and the spelling/pronunciation reflected this outlook

      Delete
  10. My comments on the latest Koenraad Elst post

    He reveals interesting facts about the origin and evolving use of Arya but IMO he makes some errors which I point out
    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6138082354348831474&postID=8079752696296473032






    1 – 2 of 2
    Blogger ysv_rao said...
    Intriguing and insightful but a few caveats

    Sakya=Saka reminds me of Pahlava=Pallava.

    Really no basis for a connection besides a similar sounding name

    As for cousin marriage, it could just be a form of clannishness common amongst mountain and desert folk.

    Like snake worship, now mostly restricted to Kerala, Karnatak and Maharashtra but was once prevalent all across India(Takshashila in todays Pakistan was a famous Naga pilgrimage centre) cousin marriage may have been more prominent.

    South Indians follow pretty much the same laws on marriage as North Indians but still often observe them in the breach.
    Uncle and niece marriage is not approved by the scriptures but we have Brahmanical castes such as Kammas and Brahmins engaging in it in Tamil Nadu and Andhra

    According to Greek and Chinese travelers, Gangetic peoples were described as darker, taller and more courageous than Northwestern peoples.
    Even so dark and light are relative terms and does not leave out the possibility of quite a few light skinned Gangetic types

    Today you will find many tall individuals with Iranian complexions in UP. Some of these claim Scythian origin such as Rajputs, others like Jats and Yadav are purely Vedic of Chandravanshi lineaege.

    In Bihar, the original fair skinned stock such as Nandas(the Nanda emperor mocks Chanakya for his dark skin), Mauryas, Guptas etc has largely died out due to frequent wars and emigration and is replaced by darker and shorter aboriginal tribals such as Mundas and Santhals(I think)


    Just curious if you Dravidians are not Arya ,what are their origins since the implication is that they are not related to the tribals.

    My hypothesis is that early Dravidian civilization is an amalgam of Middle Eastern settlers from Mesopotamia via sea and land(thru Indus Valley, another hybrid civilization) and local Vedic stock who had settled inSouth India as early as Mahabharata.

    Hence Chola, Chera and Pandya are mentioned in that Epic. There is no pure Tamil etymology for those dynasties.

    Proto Dravidians may have imposed some aspect of their culture such as language,grand temple building, astronomy, snake worship, devdasis(seen in Babylon),amoral and ruthless warfare and blood and hero cults not to mention marriage between blood relations.

    Hence southern India which was once part of janapadas became Vratya or anarya.

    But ultimately Vedic culture prevailed again with the migration of Brahmins and Kshatriyas in the first millennium BC

    In light of all this, the fact that Manu, the progenitor of all all Vedic peoples including Solar and Lunar races hailed from the region of Dravida makes more sense.

    I would like to know your thoughts on these matters Dr Elst if you don't mind.

    March 17, 2015 at 11:09 PM

    Blogger ysv_rao said...

    Forgot to mention, how is that Persian speakers and Zoroastrians came to wholly appropriate Arya.

    What were our guardians of Hinduism RSS/BJP/VHP doing. Simply twiddling their thumbs?

    The provincialism and short sightedness of these Hindu leaders drives me nuts

    And I cant get over my loathing for the ingrate Parsis, first they play ball with Mughals and the British and now this.

    March 17, 2015 at 11:53 PM

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Hence Chola, Chera and Pandya are mentioned in that Epic."
      Hmmm no. The Mahabharata was last edited during the Gupta Empire in North India, at a time when the three dynasties were small-time kings in the faraway south. It is unlikely that the editors of Mahabharata even knew about these dynasties.
      I believe this piece of fantasy comes from the Sangam literature. Please remember that the Sangam poets had their own agenda- that is to glorify the kings of that era who were their patrons. Hence they fictionally made the kings to participate in the Mahabharata war, so that the kings can feel the thrill in the idea that their ancestors fought alongside Krishna and Arjuna.
      "Hence southern India which was once part of janapadas"
      Again a negative, I am afraid. The janapadas covered only the territories north of the Vindhyas.

      Delete
    2. I dont doubt that the Mahabharata went thru a lot of revisions over the millennia. JAM and I alluded to this in the post on Animal Sacrifices.However let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater!

      If you see those of the side of Kauravas, it is mostly northwestern peoples such as Gandharas,Madras,Sindhus vs the Gangetic ,Godavari and Kaveri peoples such as Yadus,Andhras(on both sides), Vidarbhas , Chola, Chera, Pandya on the Pandava side.
      This dynamic has been repeated later in history with Saka and Huna invasions and Northwestern people as their willing accomplices or absorbing them as Rajputs or Pratiharas.



      Sangam literature has its own fantasies such as a Chera king conquering the Himalayas after defeating a confederacy of Northern kings.
      Whether this was prophetic of Rajendra Chola conquering Bengal and lower end of the Himalayas and collecting water or a later edition and exaggeration with a Chera friendly editor giving a Chera face to a Chola accomplishment-who knows?

      As for the janapadas- it is the Mahajanapadas which were established 600 BC-100 AD which were based in the north.

      The reasons for these are various- possibly memories and knowledge of the south were forgotten(as later Hindus forgot about Ashoka and Afghanistan being a Hindu territory). Also southern kingdoms were later iron age stages and were small fish.
      Janapadas refers to groups of people who were republics and southern with their monarchial culture didn't qualify

      Please janapadas includes the south but MAHAjanapada doesn't. And you have to keep in mind the context and era aforementioned

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    3. "However let us not throw out the baby with the bathwater!" -Yeah YSV I fully agree with you here.Actually a major portion of the Mahabharata has been edited over the last two or three millenia.Only around 30000 shlokas of the original 100000 verses are probably original.The concocted and added shlokas can be predicted by literary analysis of the flow of storyline of Mahabharata.In many cases self-contradictory stories will prop up.For example in one part Krishna is shown to be very weak compared to Shiva while in the very next part Shiva is shown to be begging to Krishna for mercy.The first part where Shiva is glorified is probably a concoction of some Shaivite poet .There are many such contradictory instances in the mahabharata.Another interesting thing is that the poetic style in Mahabharata clearly shows the work of multiple authors behind it.But that does not mean we will have to dump the whole Mahabharata.

      "Also southern kingdoms were later iron age stages and were small fish.' -YSV this is very interesting. Can you elaborate on this more? Actually I didn't know that southern part was still in later iron stage in the 600 bc time.

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    4. From wikipedia:

      "By about the sixth century BCE, many of these Janapadas further evolved into larger political entities by the process of merger and land grabbing which eventually led to the formation of bigger kingdoms known in Buddhist texts as the Mahajanapadas or the great nations (a karmadharaya of maha "great" and janapada "country")."

      It is clear that the difference between Mahajanapadas and janapada is only size, not north vs south.

      The confusion here is which source we take as authority? The classical idea of janapadas comes from buddhist sources and Panini who give only N. Indian places as janapadas. These authors lived in BC, at the same time when the janapadas existed, so their description is reliable. In Mahabharata and Ramayana, only the basic story comes from early times. Other descriptions like which kings fought in which sides, are all clearly medieval corruptions.

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    5. Mahabharata causes great confusion in reading and one needs an able teacher to guide one through all the minefields.

      Ramayana in contrast is very neat and structured and flows rather well. The aranyakandam and later parts are actually quite slickly paced and almost feels like a thriller!

      While smelting was definitely practiced by 1000 BC, it may not have been on a large scale. There seems to be little imperative for weapons application atleast. Seems like the population centers didn't grow large enough yet to compete for resources and therefore leading to war.

      The West coast seemed content with trading with the Middle East. And the proto Tamils and Andhra in overland routes with Magadha.
      At the time, the south eastern lot atleast were backwoods cousins to more sophisticated Magadha empires. Tamil authors longingly referred to the treasures of the Nandas and Sisunagas . In contrast the poets are silent about their own resources and urban life at the time.

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    6. @Premchand I addressed the issue in the earlier post.

      While I believe the southern region was included as janapadas in the original Ramayana and Mahabharata, you disagree.

      That's fine. My stipulation is that the definition of janapadas changed in the Buddha-Panini era and so the knowledge or lack thereof of the southern regions and hence they weren't included.

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    7. You have already stated that the foundation of Indian culture was laid by the Ganga-Yamuna civilization. I am merely extending it to say that this civilization is the same as the Mahajanapadas. Before this culture spread to the south, we cannot include the south as part of the janapadas.
      If you think the original core of the epics attest that South India was part of the janapadas, I'd like to see some kind of evidence to support this theory. I am willing to change my opinion.

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    8. Also, the Cholas etc appear at 300 BC earliest. The Mahabharata war, however happened ca 1000 BC latest.
      It is easy to explain why various S Indian dynasties appear in the edited epics.If a king claimed Suryavanshi descent, for example, it makes sense to join the war on the side of Suryavanshi king Rama.

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    9. @Premchand Pl note in those janapadas Gandhara is included while Cholas and other southerners are not. Gandhara is farther from Ganga Yamuna region than Godavari and Kaveri

      And Gandhara were on their way out of Vedic civilization as the residents were relegated to mleccha status. Though at that time they were not. After Takshashila was established

      I take that map with a grain of salt as it was a snap shot in time.

      Seeing how there is no pure Tamil etymology for Chola, Chera and Pandya, it is likely these were originally like Satavahanas of Prakrit speaking peoples. But after their prestige during Mahabharat era, went into decline, proto Dravidian speakers from the Middle East around the first millennium BC revitalized these dynasties and made them even more powerful and glorious

      Of course the above is from inference and circumstantial evidence, but much of Indian history is really just that.

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    10. In Ramayana, the references to southern India are obvious. Though there are some scholars who claim that Lanka is not the Sri Lanka of today but an island in the Godavari!
      I think Rajesh Kocchar who places Kosala in Afghanistan is of this school

      Of course this is nonsense. There is a great deal of the description of flora and fauna and they correspond strongly to those of modern day Southern India.

      Rama didn't make any contact with the large kingdoms or urbane centers in south India as those the conditions of his exile and hence such references are absent.
      Please note even during his exile in northern India as well he had little contact with any other kingdom besides his native Ayodhya.

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    11. From the fact that there are no Tamil etymologies (yet) for Chola, Chera, Pandya, we cannot make leaps and bounds of assumptions and come to the conclusion that they were Prakrit speaking people who fought in the Mahabharata war. OTOH, there is a clear and simple explanation to why these three dynasties (and few other southerners) were included in the medieval edition of our epics- because the kings wanted their ancestors fighting alongside Krishna and Arjuna to increase their feeling of self-worth and respect among the subjects. The poets had much to gain by placing their patrons on this mighty pedestal. Which explanation would you prefer? Occam's worn razor applies.

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  11. Some Hindus are obsessed with disproving Aryan Invasion Theory. But I these folks do not seems to be obsessed at all with disproving Rajput Invasion Theory, Jat Invasion Theory and Gurjar Invasion Theory. Imperialist British historians have even attempted to provide Iranian genealogy for Pallavas and Greek origin to Chalukyas.

    So what does Brit historians want to prove –

    “””India was ruled by invaders who came in wave after wave, latest of whom are we British, and so you Indians, please don’t feel uncomfortable and complain. It is your destiny to be under ceaseless alien rule and hence kindly cooperate.”””

    Lesson for Indians – Merely disproving Aryan Invasion Theory wont put a full stop to the propaganda that India today is a product of waves after waves of invading conquerors. You have to do that for the same for Rajputs, Jats and Gurjars too.

    Truth is that there is no evidence to prove that Rajputs descended from Huns and that Jats were originally Scythians and Gurjars are actually Khazars.

    And the biggest joke is none of these – historians tend to give Scythian, Hun and
    Khazar origin to martial castes of North India like Rajputs, Jats and Gurjars but anthropologists deem them as best examples of Indo-Aryan type!

    Vedic “Rajanya” and medieval “Rajput” means the same – prince, son of raja, man of royal bloodline and so on.

    Manu-Smriti is a fabricated work written around 100 BC by a chap named Sumati-Bhargava.

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    1. It is a historically recorded fact that Scythians (Sakas) and Huns (Hunas) invaded India. The Aryan migration is a linguistic hypothesis. It is not recorded historically and the archaeological evidence is scant. This doesn't disprove the hypothesis, but it also doesn't prove the competing hypothesis- that IE languages originate from India- an idea which if anything rests on even shakier foundations. But here's the problem- the truth must be either of these two.
      The linking of Jats to Scythians is not firm, but we cannot dismiss it outright.

      The anthropologists you are talking about probably are from the 19th century whose work is mostly pseudoscience. There is no such thing as Indo-Aryan type. Indo-Aryan is the name of a language family. We have no clear idea what the Vedic Aryans looked like.

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    2. I see the parallel you are making and it has some substance. In that the same people who promote the AIT also believe that Rajputs and other martial groups are descended from Huns or Scythians.

      However I don't believe AIT but I have no issue believing SOME Rajputs are descended from Central Asians. Specifically Agnikula

      It is pretty much established that Gurjara are a Hunnic tribe. I don't know if they have anything to do with Khazars. The etymology is far fetched.

      Who is this Sumati Bhargave guy and why would he concoct this text Manu Smriti?

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    3. I think a good deal of the romanticism of Rajputs and their foreign origins owed to Colonel Todd. While it is more than possible for him to have had vested interests in ascribing foreign origins to what seemed to him at the time the mightiest Hindu warriors(see you plains people cant fight and have to recruit steppe warriors into your fold, they cant help you now so might as well submit to our authority). Actually having Scythian lineage in that era was considered a compliment for whatever reason.
      Some Englishmen went as far as to claim that even Saxons were descended from Scythians just on the basis similar sounding words- Saka-Sakson!

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  12. @Prem Chand

    Anthropologists I mentioned are 20th century anthropologists like Haddon and Guha whose work are apolitical and still taught in physical anthropology classes. They used the term INDO-AFGHAN or TRUE MEDITERRANEAN to denote Rajputs, Jats and Gurjars. Some scholars use INDO-ARYAN for this racial type. Popular online sites that discuss about race call this type as NORDINDID or sometimes INDIC or INDID.

    Question here is not whether Rajput, Jat or Gurjar are real Vedic Aryans but the absolutely contradictory claims made by two branches of knowledge. Aryan for one is Hun for another! Hence we should pay no attention to these foreign origin theories that have absolutely no evidence.

    @YSV

    Gurjar of Western India is equivalent to Dhangar of Maharashtra and Kuruba of Andhra and Karnataka. They all are shepherd-soldiers. First Islamic invasion into North India was thwarted by leaders of shepherd caste (Gurjara Pratiharas) and first Islamic invasion into South India too was thwarted by leaders of shepherd castes (Hoysalas and Sangamas of Kuruba caste).

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