Tuesday, May 27, 2008

History battle over historic battles

History battle over historic battles

Fwd the article of Ramaswami in Livemint (22 May 2008). Prehistory of Bharatam and the grand narrative of the peopling of Hindusthana, will continue to be a free-for-all until a clear framework of analysis is worked out after two great desiccations caused by primeval events: supereruption of Mt. Toba (ca. 74k yrs. ago) and desiccation of River Sarasvati (ca. 1900 BCE) controlled by the ongoing plate tectonics and dynamic Himalayas. Gangavatarana – evolutionary history of River Ganga and River Brahmaputra -- also has to be studied afresh. Why doesn’t the author talk of the earlier dasaraajna battle?

See the contra article at http://indiapost.com/article/communitypost/2090/


Posted: Thu, May 22 2008. 11:57 PM IST (Livemint.com)
A battle about history

History reveals that around 2000-1800 BC, all along the Euro-Asian west-east axis, a horde of invaders, from above the 50N latitudes called the horse-people, pushed down
T.R. Ramaswami

When exactly did India’s most famous battle — Kurukshetra — take place? My search uncovered some intriguing details. Historians disagree on the date. It ranges from around 3200 BC to 700 BC — a period of 2,500 years! Curiously, historians unanimously agree that Kurukshetra did not take place between 2500 BC and 1500 BC. This is the period when the Indus Valley civilization “collapsed”.

History reveals that around 2000-1800 BC, all along the Euro-Asian west-east axis, a horde of invaders, from above the 50N latitudes called the horse-people, pushed down. Every civilization — China, India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Greece — was overcome as they had the most powerful weapon known then — the horse chariot. Who were the invaders and who were the displaced?

Think why no one wants to place the Kurukshetra battle in that gap of 1,000 years. It would tantamount to admitting that the Pandavas and/or the Kauravas were the “invaders” or “outsiders” — the Aryans who displaced the then flourishing Indus Valley civilization and pushed it south to become the Dravidian culture. This aspect has assumed political overtones and, hence, the denials and silence over it.

Here’s what happened. There was an Indus Valley civilization which belonged to the Vedic culture. The Aryans, the horse-chariot people, displaced and pushed it south. The horse-people with no culture of their own adapted the Vedic culture and the Vedic Indus Valley civilization had a second innings.

Both the epics, Ramayan and Mahabharat, talk of battles involving horses and chariots. There is no evidence of any horse in present-day India and Pakistan till 2000-1800 BC. The horse came carrying the invaders from the northern latitudes. Next, take a globe. Put your thumb at the point where the 55 degrees east longitude and 55 degrees north latitude intersect. This will be just south of the Urals, above the mid-point between the Caspian and Aral Seas, north of Kazakhstan. With your thumb as the fulcrum and your little finger on Gujarat, draw an arc. It will end in Spain. This entire swathe of land shares the Indo-European group of languages. Of course, there are exceptions — Arabic, Basque, Turkish, etc.

But the most startling exception lies in the Kalat region of Baluchistan, Pakistan, and its border with Afghanistan. Nestled there today are more than two million people who speak Brahui, a Dravidian group language! But they did not “get” there. They were already there and became the typical “pocket” when invasions swept the majority away. That’s why Tamil is the oldest of all present Indian languages and Tamilians were perhaps the first Sindhis! After all they drank jhalam (Tamil for water) from the river that has this name. Will someone explain this paradox — if the Indus Valley civilization is the oldest in India, how is Tamil the oldest language? Unless the Dravidian civilization predates the Indus Valley.

Look below the 55E-55N point and at the routes by which you can reach the extremities of your arc. Every point can be reached by continuing along rivers or shores of lakes, i.e., the invasion-cum-migration had the most important resource necessary to travel such vast distances — water. The most famous rivers in Central Asia are the Syr Darya and Amu Darya! The “oldest” DNA found in an Indian was in Tamil Nadu, near Madurai. How about a DNA survey of those in north/north-west India, the present inhabitants of the steppes and those living between 25 degrees and 45 degrees north latitudes in West Asia and Europe?

The biggest give-away is the “18-day” war. Military historians will tell you man’s ability to sustain a battle proper (sieges are not battles) for more than a day came only when railways made logistics feasible. Waterloo (AD 1815), probably the last big battle before railways, took just one day. The “day” in the Kurukshetra battle is evidently metaphorical. For, it was oral history. It was more likely to have been 18 months or even 18 years — just the time needed for a migration-cum-invasion to displace a culture and a civilization 3,500 years ago.

If the Mahabharat involved the horse-people, then what about the more antiquated Ramayan, which talks not only of horses, but also the famed Asvamedha yagna? Was Ram a Cossack, the most famed of all horse-people? Doesn’t “Valmiki” sound Russian, perhaps a corruption of Vladmikhailovich, who lived in the present Russian town named Sverdlovsk, formerly perhaps Swargalok? If we don’t accept the invasion theory, then the only other explanation is that both Mahabharat and Ramayan took place outside India, on the Russian steppes, and their stories have come down to us as oral histories through the horse-people, which were then refined to suit cultural and later ethnic, social and political agendas.

T.R. Ramaswami is a former commercial and investment banker. Comments are welcome at otherviews@livemint.com



Neville Ramdeholl said...

The Quirky, Engimatic Shifting Historical Data of an 'Aryan Indus' Civilization

With the demise of the theory of an Aryan invasion, scholars have now taken on the idea that the Indus Valley Civilization is aryan in nature and origin. But this quirky idea cannot seem to hold well with the evidence which the archaeological explorations have produced in recent years. On one hand the civilization of the Vedas don’t seem to fit or to use a better word, correlate with the discoveries of the Indus valley excavations. There are several reasons this is so and proponents of an ‘Aryan Indus’ although they may reject the invasion idea, are desperate to paint an ‘Aryan Indus’ which certainly did not exist and are prepared to shift historical data to accommodate its ‘Aryan Indus’. Thus, an ‘Aryan Indus’ would seemingly but impossibly accommodate and comprise of the following:

1) TWO sets of lifestyles, one described as nomadic and steppe like in the Vedas quite in contrast to the settled and urban life of the Harrapans. Here we have the IE or Aryans as you will, riding and warring as all nomads do on the plains of India, whilst the staid citienzry of the Indus are basking in luxurious trade with its neighbors.

2) TWO modes of transport, of which the speed of the horse and chariot used by the nomadic intruders to settle disputes and in sports, whilst in the Indus the rich and contented people travel with the donkey and heavy wooden cart.

3) TWO religions, first we have the Vedic religion dominated by warrior gods and nature gods to a nomadic people always praying for wealth and cattle and animistic in nature. The other religion is the Harrapan religion of the Indus people mostly connected with the animal kingdom and iconic.

4) TWO sets of astronomic literature, the Vedic astronomy having the horse as one of its symbol and which is missing in the Indus one. Then, there is the Harrapan astronomy whose people were well versed in its intracies and very established.

5) TWO languages of which we have the Vedic language well refined and used in ancient India, called Sanskrit. The other is the undecipherable Indus Scripts and its seals, still unbroken and a fascination for linguists. Used by the Indus people for its unparalleled value for its tremendous and burgeoning trading partners.

6) TWO different funerary burial rituals, the Aryans cremated their dead through libations in the hope their loved ones reach the land of the Fathers. The Indus people buried their dead as is evidenced by the cemeteries discovered in their civilization.

7) TWO eminent Indian scholars, Professors Jha and Misra among others have claimed to have deciphered the Indus language and its complicated writings. If this is true and world breaking , how come we don't know what is the true nature of the Indus? All of these concerted attempts, so valiant and persevering seems to come to naught. So I ask, what is it? Vedic or indigenous Indus? One thing is certain though. All these failed attempts are done from the perspective of the Sanskrit language. Wrong, I say. All linguists should know that to decipher a language, there must be a related Rosetta Stone or a related root language. Obviously, the linguists of India are finding out that the Indus Scripts and seals are not related to Sanskrit, thus there is an ominous silence.

This is fantastic , here we have a civilization just emerging from the Stone Age with its brilliance and is credited with ALL of the above, a double of every facet of human life. Is this possible? This quirkiness of an’Aryan Indus’ has western and eastern scholars and historians baffled. To speak of an ‘Aryan Indus’ with such glaring contradictions in its society and lifestyle is probably a minor embarrassment to its proponents, for what can be more embarrassing than to shift historical dates to accommodate a quirky theory? Best of luck to its proponents.


Neville Ramdeholl said...

The Indus Valley Civilization: Its Reality and Maddening Prevarications of Academia.

Ever since the discovery of the IVC, the rush to Aryanize its society and culture has filled books, papers,

media forums and other such articles and such entities has funded and encouraged historians and writers to

let loose their imaginations in order to rewrite the history of India. The fierce debate whether the IVC is

Aryan or not has opened up emotions and a stirring of nationalistic feelings among Indians of different social

and political persuasions and has led to the rewriting of some history books. Even though the undertaking

and exposing of the vast archaeological empire of the Indus still remains buried below the ground, opinions

and speculations still persist that further and more radical change be made to the history of India.

The proven point that the Aryans did not invade India and that horses existed in its society are two areas

juxtaposed between the migrationist theories and those who proposed an "Aryan India" Between this sliver

of Aryan and Indus woodwork, lies the heart of the matter, its linch-pin--- the horse. Whoever can prove that

the horse existed at the Indus empire will cap a belated crowning glory and achieve at the same time a

kind of immortality in Indian history. The playing with historical dates like pushing them back further in time

sounds like Russian roulette in order to achieve the inevitable and if such a hand can be played and the

horse can be accommodated to form Indian history as among other things, thus far are historians are willing

to go. The claims of historians and other writers of horse remains has so far has not been proven or

recognized by some of local and international academia, even though such claims have been taken up by

readers of different sorts of books and articles. The horse have remained evasive to not only archaeologists

who would know one when they have analyzed its bones but to those who advocate its existence at the

Indus. The so called tentative discovery of horse bones in the cities of the Indus, is the one weakness of

those who want to weld Aryan history and Indus history together. This, I think will fail. The Indus civilization

does not have a mythology that speaks of the existence of horse and chariot. First of all, all peoples have

from their beginnings tales of mythology and from this, their civilizations are born, their society evolves, their

beliefs entrenched and their livelihood maintained. Without these a people may not survive as a strong entity

such like the Greeks and the Indian civilizations. Mythology is the fountain of a people, where a kind of fairy

tale comes down to generation after generation, where images of the mythology are graven in the minds of

its citizens and from which stories of daring and derring do are told. Greek mythology is filled with horses

such as Pegasus and Arion, so we know that the Greeks knew about horses, Helios, the Sun god and the

horses and also the Trojan horse. Our Hindu civilization also has a mythology of horses of the Sun, as well

as other places mentioned in the Vedas and the Swat culture is one of the first places that the horse

appeared in India. But can that be said of the Indus civilization? Where is the mythology of the horse and

chariot in its ancient belief system? The belligerent screaming and writing by academia of horse bones in

the Indus does not prove anything. There is not a shred of evidence of a horse culture or part of a

mythologic reference to a horse or chariot in the history of the writing of the Indus nor in its society and the

isolated claims of nationalistic writings has no foundation whatsoever. Claims of horse presence in the

absence of a mythology in comparison with Hindu or Greek is not only a failure, but a historical greed to

fulfill nationalistic grandeur for India which would be penitently false. I am sure Hindus would not like to

incorporate a false version of historical data in their proud history. I personally would abhor such a travesty.