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Home » featured, philosophy

Hinduism and Ecology

Submitted by on July 31, 2017 – 12:33 am186 Comments

By Cristopher Key Chapple

The word “Hindu” derives from a Persian way of characterizing the variety of traditions and cultural practices that can be found on the other side of the Indus River, the great Himalayan cascade that now bisects Pakistan. “Hindu” describes persons practicing Vedic ritual or worshipping Krishna. “Hindu” also describes the shared customs of Jains, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians.

The excavations of early Indian civilization reveal a dynamic, multicultural society in constant trade and contact with Mesopotamia. It flourished over 5,000 years ago and remained largely unchanged for two millennia. The seals, insignia, and ruins from this era indicate a veneration of female energy that has endured in the form of goddess worship, as well as a respect for animals that can be seen throughout India. The iconic heroes and heroines of this ancient culture were often depicted in poses resembling modern-day meditation.

At least 3,500 years ago, collections of songs known as the “Knowledge Hymns” or Vedas circulated first in northwest India, then spread east through the Ganges River plain and then south through the Deccan to the very tip of India. These hymns include praise of the earth goddess, the sky gods, and the great seers and philosophers who originated sacrificial rituals and brought some order to society. In an unbroken oral tradition, these chants passed from generation to generation up to the present.

From the wisdom of the Vedas arose several philosophical schools and traditions of worship. Perhaps the most compelling image can be found in Indra’s attempt to harness the thunder and the rain, necessary for the replenishment of life in India’s critical monsoon season. Gentler images include the description of two birds on the same tree, one always active, the other looking on wisely and dispassionately. India still grapples with its extreme weather and places great value on the aspect of being human that allows one to sit and reflect.

Widely popularized 1,300 years ago, the spiritual philosophy known as Tantra arose as a marriage of these concerns. Tantra speaks of an intimacy between the human body and the cosmos. Meditation reveals that the earth stands in relationship with our sense of smell, located in the human nose. The scent of snow on the distant mountains, the fragrance of flowers bursting forth following the rains, the musky smell of fertile humus remind us of our reliance on Mother Earth.

Meditation also establishes the connection between the water we drink and the saliva that allows us to digest our food. Meditation unveils the power of our eyes to connect with the radiance of the sun and perceive form, beauty, and color. Meditation brings us into a quiet realization of the power of the wind that circulates in our bodies as breath. And meditation on the power of hearing provides an orientation in space. Our five great senses interact with the five great elements, fueling the motion to be interpreted and understood by the mind.

The mind seeks to grasp meaning and purpose. A mind sullied by greed will attempt to gather as much of the material world as possible. However, no matter how much one acquires, it can never be enough. A mind liberated from greed moves with power, always in touch with the deeper spiritual aspect that lies within a human in harmony with the cosmos. When one finds that connection and can reach deep within before moving outward, then the imprint on the earth becomes light, even luminous.

Yoga seeks to enhance and bring out this acknowledgment that regardless of what a human being might accomplish in this lifetime, the world, the earth, will continue. By appreciating the movements of the body and the breath, by culturing oneself through the ethical practices of nonviolence and truthfulness, one moves into the world with ease and grace.

Ritual, quietly observed, perhaps in a salutation to the sun, or the kindling of a flame, or the careful arrangement of flowers, promotes a deep link with the earth goddess, the god of the breath and wind, and the vast expanse of the heavens. Through Yoga, one realizes the connection between oneself, other people, that which is below, and that which is above.

For one attuned to the ritualism and artistry of the Hindu tradition, the practice of religion cannot be separated from an appreciation of the earth. Hindu ecology makes us catch our breath and enter into that special moment where our senses become filled, our mind becomes stilled, and we dwell, even if for just an instant, in a state of perfection and gratitude.

This article was excerpted from Hinduism and Ecology and is reproduced here without the permission of the author, who is not affiliated with this website or its views. Christopher Key Chapple is Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University and author of a dozen books, including Hinduism and Ecology (co-edited with Mary Evelyn Tucker) and Reconciling Yogas.

186 Comments »

  • Sagar

    Beautifully written, but it gets some facts wrong. For example, “At least 3,500 years ago, collections of songs known as the “Knowledge Hymns” or Vedas circulated first in northwest India, then spread east through the Ganges River plain and then south through the Deccan to the very tip of India” – is actually an extension of the Aryan Migration/Invasion theory, according to which Vedic knowledge, and Aryans were not native to India. This is highly disputed – the readers of the article should note it.

  • Ishan das

    Ecology: Webster’s Dictionary: The relationship between organisms and their environment.

    In the 60’s the buzz phrase was “environmental quality”. People were becoming concerned about clean water, air, etc. But that concern was not enough. So today the buzz word is “sustainability”, which simply means that if we continue to relate to our environment the way we have been, through the agency of so-called technological advancement and all the toxic waste that it generates, pollution will reach such proportions that humans may not be able to live on planet earth. In other words, the way that we live today may not be sustainable.

    It only took 150-200 years for us to create such an untenable circumstance, beginning with the industrial revolution. Perhaps, then, science is simply one of the ways in which Kali Yuga expresses itself. Afterall, the Vedas advise us that if mankind lives in harmony with Providence, nature will supply us with everything we require in order to be healthy and happy. But there seems to be this tendancy, most markedly amongst the caucasions, to want to conquer. Conquer and exploit. At first they preyed upon other nations, other races. But why stop there, right? Let’s conquer Nature Herself. “Man Conquers Nature – read all about it!”

    Well, this is about Hinduism and Ecology. So let’s try to tie some of this together. Hinduism implies metaphysics. Ecology – how we relate to everything around us, viz., our planet.

    Like Professor Chapple says: There seems to be something about Vedic culture that brings out a reverance for life, not just human life, and a healthy respect for the earth.

    In the west, over the past say 2000 years, (I’m not much of a historian) religion turned God into a monastic celebate. “Our Father, etc…..”, but no Mother. There were, of course, those creatures that we refer to as Pagans, earth-based people, who were into all these “goddess” ideas. But that didn’t go over well with the Celebate-God faction, and it bacame considered as bad-form. It may have gone underground, but it does seem to be popping up more and more these days. So, let’s get together folks!

    Let’s say that we live in a holographic universe. We’ll skip the long explanation. But in the production of holograms we have the “implicate” and the “explicate”. Fancy words. This simply means that the source from which the hologram is projected has all the attributes that we find in the hologram. Makes sense.

    So life, as we see it on this planet, seems to be a male-female kind of set up. Not just in homo sapiens, but in thousands of species. Ergo – this should tell us something about our Source. Our Father…. with no Mother? Such thinking is not very holographic.

    Then, if we can jump to another department, we have the Oedipus complex. You know, Sigmund. Sigmund Freud. It’s all about the son who wants to straight-arm the Father and make it with the Mother. Not so nice.

    In Vedic literature the Father is called the Purusha, the Enjoyer. And the Mother is His Pleasure Potency, Alladhini Shakti. All the angels and the saints live for the pleasure of the Father. And the Vedas inform us that the well-adjusted souls in the spiritual realm really like the idea of the Father and Mother enjoying together. In fact, we are told that they are even full-time engaged in making wonderful arrangements to this end. And in the process, their happiness knows no bounds.

    But then there’s that old Eudipus thing. That element that is envious of the Father. They don’t want to be secondary enjoyers. They want to be number One. So we need a place for this contingent. We need a holographic portrayal of the spiritual dimension, so that the Eodupal group can work-out, so to speak. And the Holographic universe has to have a holographic aspect of the Mother, so that the Eodapal group can have at Her. And we call Her Mother Nature.

    And here we are raping Mother Nature, and not even bothering to clean up after ourselves. Mother Nature, on the other hand, is slapping us back so hard, that we are beginning to wonder if our ways are sustainable. A new ideology is required.

    We have to take the Father, from the Celebate Father camp and get Him together with Mother Nature (His holographic counterpart)from the Goddess camp, and arrange for a marriage. Actually that relationship exists – but the residents of planet earth have to come to understand this. They have to understand that there is no question of worshipping the Father while we go about raping the Mother. We have to understand that the most direct way of showing our love for the Father is by respecting our Mother, Mother Nature.

    This is a sustainable proposition. Not only sustainable for planet earth. But for long term sustainability. Real sustainability. Eternal life. Now that’s Sustainability with a capital S.

    But as the professor says, India has been holding the concept for quite some time. Mother-Father God. Radha-Krishna, Sita-Ram. Lakshmi-Narayan, Shiva-Parvati. Well, India has been sort of cajoled into persuing the “conquer-nature” approach – but it ain’t going to work. And it’s time for all of us to sober up. We have to work together on this. United Nations under Mother-Father God. Serve the Father by venerating the Mother. Heaven on Earth.

    Oh, just one more thought. Environmental quality begins with sound vibration. The way to get the viruses out of our mental software is to vibrate the sacred sound. Shabda Brahma. Sacred Sound. I.e., the names of God. As the book says: “Our Father-Mother Who art in heaven, Your Names are Sacred. And when we chant them……. low and behold…….Thy kindom come, They will be done…….. right here on earth…….. as it is in heaven.” So if we want heaven on earth – that’s the way to go.

    Hare Krishna! Ishan das

  • Aziz

    Completely in accordance with the comments of Sagar. He took it from my mouth just when I read Cristopher Key Chapple about this. I wanted to reply. They are just no proves of these speculations. We can just take what the scriptures say about it. But the scholars will deny such perspective. They prefer to dismiss the autor of the Vedas and the great seers and poets to rely on their agenda of an humanity which started in Africa. This is where the world has started, tells us the Bible…

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      Out of africa is a strong hypothesis in the scientific community backed by solid proof as evidenced by the paper http://www.pnas.org/content/102/44/15942.short
      Also there is nothing in the theory that helps the literal interpretation of the bible (earth being created 6000 years ago). Certainly the Christian missionaries tampered with the Vedas etc, but out of Africa migration has no Christian agenda to that.

      You are free to reject the claims of modern science. However, within the framework of modern science, the out of africa theory has enough evidence. Anyway, I can send you some more information on this if you are interested, mail at vkaul11@gmail.com

  • Aziz

    I believe that scientists are responsible for most of the micmac and destruction of our planet. I believe that Darwin was much influenced by his friends and ‘respectable’ academicians, mostly Christians. I believe that an open conspiracy was launched by the occidental intellectuals to deny the value of Indian ‘philosophy’ and old history such found in the Puranas. I believe that notorious anthropologues like Georges Dumezil, Claude-Lévi Strauss, Yves Coppens and the like, had wrong conceptions of the past civilizations (on the origin of Aryans, for example). I believe that a personality like Madeleine Biardeau, who is recognized as a great indianist, is telling nonsense concerning the history of the fifth Véda, the Mahbharata. I have studied their works related to that field of knowledge and I concluded that they are not a serious reference to apprehend our origins. Science is not sacred, like most people believe it. Every day signs of their cheating business is revealed to us. Westerners have tried to replace the religious authorities by the scientists and place them on a high pedestal, but there are simple humans with all their faults and vices. Don’t take their words for granted.

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      Ok, Aziz. Without studying the history of evolution (that is actually opposite of a Christian agenda behind evolution), you came to this conclusion. While I agree with you that a lot of misinformation has been communicated about Indian literature by westerns before, there is no conspiracy from scientists to undermine Indian scriptures (science is not done with the view to undermine Indian scriptures). They are not even in the map or the debate. Indians have never engaged in a debate with science, since Sankara. I don’t want to get into it because you can believe whatever you want if it helps you. No body is taking the words of scientists for granted. I just asked you to examine the evidence. If you don’t want to that is fine. You can continue to believe in the Indian scriptures as absolute authority on every single issue like a muslim believes in theirs and a christian in theirs.

      • Ritesh

        While I agree with you that a lot of misinformation has been communicated about Indian literature by westerns before

        This trend continues, if you care to look at the kind of academic stuff that is being written on Hinduism, and the deities that millions of Hindus worship every day. For a detailed summary, please read “Invading the Sacred” and “Breaking India”.

        Indians have never engaged in a debate with science, since Sankara

        I am interested to know how you came to this conclusion. To my knowledge, engagement with science continued in wide range of fields which pertained to the society – ecology, linguistics, art, architecture etc.

        • Gaura-Vijaya

          The debate was not significant with western science to the same extent as Christians.
          David Mumford (a pretty famous mathematician) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Mumford wrote an excellent review for the book on mathematics in India by Kim Plofer. It shows how Indian mathematics was in fact underestimated by the west and even Arabic scholars. http://www.ams.org/notices/201003/rtx100300385p.pdf

          But the article will show that Kerala school of mathematicians and others continued to refine their concepts well into 10th-12th century. Traditional schools of vedanta in fact rejected Surya-Siddhanta on the basis that it was non-Vedic and some traditional Puranic commentaries actually show that their was a belief in the flat-earth.

          Ritesh there maybe a trend to deprecate Hinduism in academia but most evolution researchers or physicists hardly do their research targeted at denouncing Hinduism. It is not even there in the picture. Just because some people do have a propaganda against Hinduism does not mean that in response you create another propaganda. It is a standard thing to find faults with everyone on the other side, while claiming your truth to be Absolute. Nothing new in that. But I guess I have learned that is how most devotees can function in devotional life, just having absolute confidence in their belief, but finding every opportunity to find the slightest of faults in scientific evidence, scientific method and other beliefs(Mayavadi and Buddhism). So if Krsna wants only such kind of followers, who have to blaspheme science to reach him, who I am to object?

          • Ritesh

            Ritesh there maybe a trend to deprecate Hinduism in academia but most evolution researchers or physicists hardly do their research targeted at denouncing Hinduism.

            Agreed. Evolution researchers have a different agenda. I did not talk about it.

            It is a standard thing to find faults with everyone on the other side, while claiming your truth to be Absolute

            I wonder where I indulged in fault finding. I don’t want to get into one, but I think you are actually doing gross generalization here. I am not for finding faults with everyone, and I certainly don’t mean to force everyone with my “version” of absolute truth.

            However, I do find that you treat science and scientific evidence with higher credibility compared with what Puranas say – however, scientific method is based on observations, and observations is what limit science. What Puranas say may or may not make sense to you, but that does not make them false, right? How does what we observe or see limit how the universe looks like? What we say as logic in this world, may be illogical in different realm. How can we ever deduce absolute principles using Science?
            That I question scientific method does not mean that I disagree with it totally. But that does not mean I agree with whatever scientists say, or whatever theory that comes up. Talking of theory of evolution, it seems incredible to me that you believe it, when we have not seen a single verifiable instance of the same. Is this not blind belief? And when somebody attempts to disagree, they are all painted as “fanatics” steeped in dogma.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            Evolution is a theory in process. It does not explain origin of life completely. And there are limitations of the scientific method too. However, if you have to disprove a theory in science, you have to account for all evidence that the current theory explains and explain something more. For example, General relativity does not replace Newtonian mechanics, it subsumes it. It explains things that Newtonian mechanics cannot while still explaining things that Newtonian mechanics can. The Arch Bishop of Canterbury and the previous Pope, the Dalai Lama all believe in the general idea of evolution, especially because evidence is overwhelming. Catholic church did not always believes in evolution and in fact opposed it for a long time. I think the Puranas can be speaking of a reality in a different language and I am open to that possibility. However, when you take everything literally (like size of the universe in yojanas), there will be problems. Ritesh, if you want to understand theory of evolution, you have to do the hard work necessary to see why the Catholic Church had to change their position in this subject. I actually have a challenge for most of the devotees in the KC movement to engage in an open debate with Richard Dawkins for instance. An open public debate, not a debate where only devotees keep on reinforcing their concept of truth. I promise that most devotees will be humbled pretty badly in the debate in the eyes of people who have not decided one way or the other. I think that it would be really good for them. Ritesh I have been in the same shoes as you some time back, so I know where you are coming from. However, the fact is that Gaudiya Vaisnavism is for the most part so much out of sync with the current times and thinking that will be difficult to really engage in meaningful dialogue. Especially because the success in India and Eastern Europe has made one feel that everything is going fine. When I did preach in India, I found how easy it is to do so. I am from IIT and people would accept whatever I saw as absolute authority, especially in smaller town. So become a devotee, put on saffron, accept everything SP said dogmatically and push it through people who have no exposure to modern ideas, but they know that IIT people are intelligent. So yes, they accept everything in India pretty easily.I guess if you are happy in your absolute faith and Krsna wants only people like you to be devotees, what can I say? It is up to him. If I had spoken to you even a year back, I would gone into details of each point and debated it. However, I realized how futile the entire exercise is if someone has already axiomatically accepted a position that can never change through logic. I would like to add in the end that I would have loved all the things in the Puranas to be literally true and evolution to be false. I have no love for evolution, but when evidence presents itself then I have to accommodate that. Good luck Ritesh ji with your spiritual life.

          • Ritesh

            The prestigious Indian Council of Philosophical Research journal has recently published a review of the book “Invading the Sacred” which shows how the study of Hinduism in general is prompted by base and vulgar motivations. The entire review exposes fully the “academic” tools used by the RISA scholars to attack, and depreciate Hinduism. The psycho-analysis done by the so-called scholars is so outrageous that one wonder’s whether there is any reasonable restriction on the extent of academic speculation, and whether the whole range of it can be justified in name of academic freedom.

            I can send a copy of the review to those who are interested to know to the extent speculation can go in name of academic freedom.

      • Aziz

        You have a way of discussing my intervention which is prejudicial to me. Where did I mention that I was not familiar with the evolution theories? Who did not study it, anyway? Kids and students have been gorged with it in school like geese. I gave you two major names, Darwin and Coppens. Still you are writing “Without studying the history of evolution”. By doing so, you leave the impression that I have popped out from my hat views that are incoherent with the development of human history; views that are propagated by determined materialists. In return, you did not precise what period or what school of science you are referring to. In fact, the theories of evolution elaborated during centuries of violent debates are weird, to say the less. What the proponents of these speculations are doing in the field of education are none other that what is called ‘brainwashing’. And who are the recipients to this so cold ‘science’? Children. By who? Who are teaching this godless philosophy? Marxists. Neo-Darwinists are conducting the researches on evolution and are very aggressive. They deny the existence of God and say that life came from the Big Bang. They think that we are on our way for a new mankind. To me, they are just a sect. I am sorry to be harsh with you, Gaura-vijay, but I maintain what I said: most scientists are part of an atheist world which doesn’t care about information found in Vedic scriptures. Their paradigm is Christian and socialist. For them the transmigration of the soul and its immortality are a joke. They just don’t believe in the soul. Only the body has a reality. And the species progress through a biological pattern. When it dies, sometimes in the future, the body will come back to life in front of the supreme judge. And that’s it. No need of the soul. No need of an evolution as lay out by the védic conception of life. No need for science to be global for its recognition as such. To give a metaphor, a scientist is like a blind man conducting other blind men. Still they are thinking to be better than the rest of mankind. Anyone with little brain can talk with a scientist and realize that most often they are dull in fields other than the one they study. I give you just an example since I came up on this website because of Steven Rosen’s book: “The food of the Gods”. It is only recently that scientists are starting to understand the importance of healthy food for the body and mind. Otherwise, they are just ignorant. (Monsento is their guru for the most stupid amongst them.)
        Please, don’t take my reply as an aggressiveness directed to you. I don’t know you and I am simply giving my humble opinion on this matter. I am sorry if it appears like brutal. But I am a gentle and happy person. It is by chance, so to say, I have come here. Respectfully, Aziz

        • Kula-pavana

          Aziz, the theory of evolution is popular because the alternatives proposed by various religions are not only unprovable (their major component is a miraculous event happening time and time again in the past but not in the present – that is creation of various individual species) but are also often contradicted by direct observation (we do observe some species change with time – adaptation to change in environment is very obvious). Vedic literature does not really explain in detail precisely HOW the various species come into being and change over time as evidenced by the fossil record. It merely says they were created initially by the Prajapatis and their wives.
          If you want to badmouth science in the name of religion you should be ready to provide a viable alternative supported by facts and logic. Simply asking people to believe in one religious book or another is not such an alternative for most people, let alone for people well versed in the scientific method.
          Science is basically a reaction to the dogmatic beliefs pushed on people by priests protecting their own livelihood. And if you do know history you also know all the abuse and human misery done in the name of various religions over the ages. Perhaps the pendulum went too far the other way, but we should not forget the reasons why the scientific method was developed.

          • Aziz

            Hello, Kula Pavana, thank you for sharing your ideas. You have read me a little bit already, therefore you will excuse-me if I give you frankly the beginning of an answer. First of all, we should explain in what sense we are using words, in this case ‘science’. I don’t understand science the way you do. This concept can be view from different perspectives. To reassure you, in the muslim countries where I come from, I always object to them when they declare that the Coran is grounded on scientific facts, which is not at all. So don’t mistake me we this kind of believers. Science means to me, that I can see the demonstration of a postulate. I always keep in mind also its classical use; a learned person who knows the art of life. The result of his science is beneficial to everyone, plants, animals and humans. When you get to a place, you leave it upgraded, not polluted.
            What I understand from you is that you are taking side with its modern concept, rationality. You are influenced by what we call in France ‘Les lumières’. Everything which is not rational is not worthy of consideration. And it is dangerous. It is false. Sentimental. Superstition. You are using a concept created by humans, westerners, defined and structured by them, to control matter for their creed, without collaboration with mother earth, animals or even humans, just like thieves. And they are saying it is how it should be understood! Science nowadays is our worst enemy. Not the Chinese, not the terrorists, not the wars, but science. It is becoming a folly. It’s folly all around. Scientists are no more integer than priests, it is a myth. But rationality is just the pick of the iceberg, the really thing, even in our daily life is irrationality. The fault of this modern concept is to deny other ways of realities. By their means, powerful, they eliminate all which is not fitting in their rationality. But overall these strange behaviors -which remind me always the pattern set by the founders of monotheism, Abraham and Moïse; “no other way than our new One”- ignorance is their cherished foundation. Doubts, tabula rasa, …
            I am sorry K. Pavana, there is so much to say. I did not know I will face such arguments on a vaisnava forum. In fact I am just a guest here, I don’t even know your guys. But I saw interesting titles for articles, on G. Bataille for example, and I like to read them. Also my English is quite poor to go on writing. So I don’t want to make a big fuss over this matter, although it pained me to hear these atheist and materialist concepts all over and not hear about those of the Puranas. Because to have a true debate, both side must be heard well. This is not the case. It doesn’t appear to me it is a scientific procedure. Scientific understanding was well known thousand of years before westerners gave a serious look to it. And the conception of universes and creation too were incredibly developed, but in Europe and Arabic countries they never mention them. In America they are just starting. And if you say something they will dismiss your proposition for looking at this knowledge. So I want to stop now. Thank you for the exchange. Aziz (sorry for the grammar and faults…)

          • Kula-pavana

            Aziz, I have been a devotee for over 30 years and I am also a scientist (analytical chemist) by trade.
            I gave you a very specific example and a very specific request: if you want to criticize the origin of species as explained by the theory of evolution you should provide an alternative explanation – one that is rational and based on facts, because this is how the Universe operates (it is purnam, or complete in itself). You are clearly not doing that. You are just explaining your own philosophy, one that I’m also very familiar with and have heard it over the years a thousand times.

            Actually, the modern theistic science embraces key elements of the theory of evolution in their own Intelligent Design theory. I’m surprised you missed it. These are actually people who apply the scientific method and their belief in God in order to explain indisputable FACTS.

            When you are using every day the benefits of modern science, like your computer, the internet, an airplane – and you still call modern science a ‘myth’ or a ‘folly’ – your own credibility and judgment should be called into question.

            If you think that all devotees of Krishna passively and politely accept half-baked dogmas supposedly based on Vedic literature and promoted in the Hare Krishna movement as the absolute truth, you are mistaken.

            Please re-read what I have said in my previous post and come back with something that actually addresses the questions I have raised. Or we can just simply agree to disagree. Hare Krishna!

          • Ritesh

            Perhaps the pendulum went too far the other way, but we should not forget the reasons why the scientific method was developed.

            That does not mean we neglect or forget the destruction which has been witnessed in name of scientific and technological development. And I am not talking about just physical destruction, but subtle as well.

          • Kula-pavana

            Ritesh-ji… yes, there has been a lot of subtle and physical destruction done in the name of ‘progress’. But the solution to this problem is not in going back to the medieval dogmatic faith based system that has been thoroughly discredited in the past centuries. And that system was, and still is, extremely destructive as well. One just needs to look at any religious fundamentalism surviving today to get the taste of how unbearable life can be under the thumb of religious clerics. Even in our movement we had similar problems.
            IMO the real solution is in combining the best of these two worlds (science and religion), not pitting them against one another. It can certainly be done.

          • Kula-pavana

            Aziz-ji, I’m not upset with you. I’m just trying to provide a different perspective on how theism and science can interact.
            With regards to your question regarding ancient masters and whether they were ‘better’ than the scientists today. I think we are trying to compare apples to oranges. Was Pythagoras a ‘better’ scientist than Einstein or Tesla? Very tricky comparison – they were all great, advancing science by a great measure in their own field and time. Was Srila Prabhupada a better acharya than Bhaktivinoda Thakura? The same very tricky comparison.
            You say there is no need to provide a detailed and specific alternative to the theory of evolution, that we should simply accept on faith the process of creation and not ask for specifics – that approach may work for you, but it does not satisfy a great majority of people in the world. So what do you do? Reject them? Why? Simply admit that YOU DO NOT KNOW. That is the truth. And it will leave these people free to accept Krishna Consciousness without such irrelevant preconditions.
            Pointing out defects in someone’s thinking is not limited to devotees pointing fingers and laughing at the science. Scientists have fingers too.

        • Gaura-Vijaya

          Aziz,
          No that is fine you can be harsh on me. http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Remarkable-History-Scientific-Chronicles/dp/0679642889 You can read this book to get a different perspective on the history of evolution theory.
          Anyway, you are free to believe what you want and we both can be confident about our versions. I accept I can be wrong about my assumptions, but from whatever I have read, I came to my conclusions. If I get better evidence, I will change my views. Till then pranams and good luck for your devotional life.
          Vivek

          • Aziz

            Dear Kula Pavana, I appreciate very much your spiritual engagement, sincerely. People like you are much needed to make this planet a better world. Therefore I don’t want to look like mean, stubborn or disrespectful to you. I cannot engage, anyway, in a debate since my English is not appropriate. You are asking for an alternative explanation on evolution, but there is no need for such, absolutely. God and his creation cannot be apprehended by our material mentality. You still can point out the defects of a system of thoughts, even if you don’t have another alternative. It is not because people cannot give you an appropriate answer that yours is automatically right!? It is maybe better but not true necessarily. To be fair with you, since you are asking to better explain myself with an example, here is one. The Bhagavad-gita inspired me this reasoning. There, it is said that memory is a back bone of our constitution. When memory is lacking, then intelligence is lost. So, reflecting on the theory of evolution, I find their speculations not in accordance with objective reality. Scientists are saying that in the beginning of creation, people were like dull and little by little their intelligence started to develop. Of course, memory increased too. Is this the case? No, it is false. An artist, a writer, a philosopher, an architect, a composer, all will recognize that they had great masters, and these masters will tell you without hesitation that some masters in the past were greater. Still, today we are referring to Socrate and Platon as great philosophers. When I talk with students or their teachers, I realize that the quality of understanding is not the same than what was going on in the 20s or 60s. They have already degraded intellectually. So my question to you, since you are backing the theory of evolution is: memory is better now or people had a better memory in the past? I say memory is essential to our progress, our evolution. Without that observation (that memory is increasing) you cannot say that man is progressing in quality. In fact, man is regressing; not only men, but animals, plants and everything else. Therefore I am saying that the evolution théorie is a non-sense. Scientists think that when man learned how to write, it was a great achievement. But Vyasa give us a completely opposite comprehension of this event. He told us it was because people started to lose their memory. I prefer and stick to the version of Vyasa.
            Please, Kula Pavana, don’t be upset with me. You may have doubts about the theory of evolution, which is changing and adjusting every time they make a new discovery, and therefore acknowledging their precedent mistake -that same method they call science… I personally have no doubts about my believes. The Veda are saying that Sri Krishna took birth 5000 thousands year ago, but no acarya, no avatar has come to say it was a mistake, we are adjusting the date now… Aziz

            PS. I acknowledge that some specimen can change slightly during time and because of the environment, this is normal. But they don’t progress from one species to another.

  • Ritesh

    Evolution is a theory in process. It does not explain origin of life completely. And there are limitations of the scientific method too. However, if you have to disprove a theory in science, you have to account for all evidence that the current theory explains and explain something more

    Evolution is a theory in process, for more than 100 years now. Its different from Newton’s theories, or Einstein’s theories, because although we can see verification of these laws – we are yet to see an instance of experimental verification of evolution. Moreover, evolution does not satisfactorily explain will, emotions, sexual reproduction, and death. It cannot explain consciousness, and other phenomenon related to life. And there is lot of evidence that is ignored by the evolutionists – evidence which puts a question mark on the theory of evolution. I am not opposing the theory dogmatically – you are free to draw your own conclusions though.

    Gaura-Vijay, please also look at the worldview it produces generally – atheistic, devoid of purpose, and body – centered. Has it elevated the consciousness of people in general? Shouldn’t it be examined in this perspective as well, especially by devotees? Or is intellectual satisfaction with facts and info the only criteria for acceptance of a theory which has not been proved, and is speculative? Why are these points ignored in this debate?Aziz does have a valid point when he says that modern concept ignores or denies other views of reality. And while we claim to be “rational” and “scientific” – in our day-to-day life we are a irrational lot.

    I do agree though that we need to come up with more satisfying explanation.

    I actually have a challenge for most of the devotees in the KC movement to engage in an open debate with Richard Dawkins for instance. An open public debate, not a debate where only devotees keep on reinforcing their concept of truth. I promise that most devotees will be humbled pretty badly in the debate in the eyes of people who have not decided one way or the other. I think that it would be really good for them

    Why it would be really “good” for them? So that they will get humbled and your views will triumph? What’s the fruit of this exercise, Prabhu? Will Dawkins be “open” – minded to accept what the devotees say? I doubt it.

    When I did preach in India, I found how easy it is to do so. I am from IIT and people would accept whatever I saw as absolute authority, especially in smaller town. So become a devotee, put on saffron, accept everything SP said dogmatically and push it through people who have no exposure to modern ideas, but they know that IIT people are intelligent. So yes, they accept everything in India pretty easily.I guess if you are happy in your absolute faith and Krsna wants only people like you to be devotees, what can I say?

    When I travel in India, sometimes I am simply amazed by the amount of traditional wisdom which still exists, and which,sometimes, is better than “modern” ideas. Its fallacy that you hook onto – whatever is modern is necessarily good. I don’t agree. They are simple, but by no means are they an easy audience to engage with. And I don’t do the job of pushing dogma down people’s throats. Today, people in villages, and many intellectuals understand the futility of modern ideas – by witnessing the social circumstances of the West. I don’t have to do that.

    So yes, they accept everything in India pretty easily

    A gross generalization.

    . If I had spoken to you even a year back, I would gone into details of each point and debated it. However, I realized how futile the entire exercise is if someone has already axiomatically accepted a position that can never change through logic.

    I am ready for a discussion on all these points – I have not accepted the position axiomatically, I have come to this conclusion based on facts, and by subscribing to a worldview which see things in a different, more holistic perspective.

    I am really unhappy about the way you present India – the way you present it seems like all these simple minded people are taken for a ride, because they don’t have modern scientific knowledge. But they do have common sense.

    P.S I am from a “reputed” engineering school as well, and from a consulting firm – but I did not find people taking my words for granted. And I repeat, I have no intention of pushing things down their throats.

    • Kula-pavana

      Ritesh-ji, the theory of evolution is an attempt to explain indisputable facts, such as the gradual emergence of various species over time. If you have a better theory you should present it to the world.
      When we look at the world created by God we see that things take place in it in a very rational and orderly fashion, and that material nature is self regulating and self sufficient. It is indeed purnam, or complete. Why should Prajapatis and their wives be forced to come down to earth to constantly intervene every time a new beetle or shrew species is needed somewhere in the rain forest of Amazon? Does that seem like a smart way to manage the Universe? Many theistic scientists see evolution simply as an efficient and elegant way to manage the Creation. I don’t know if evolution is a fact, and to what extent it is automatic, but I do not see it as a threat to my Krishna conscious view of the world.

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      I mean people accept evangelical Christianity in US in the same way as they accept Krsna consciousness in India. It is a part of their culture, so it is easier to accept. That is what I meant. I am talking about knowledge about evolution here. India is very good in its engineering knowledge base, but studying engineering and science is very different. I am talking from my experience in India, which is obviously not good enough to capture everyone.
      I am saying in India people accept Sai Baba and Kalki Bhagavan with ease too and they have a lot of followers out there. In US, similarly 40% people accept earth is 6000 years old.

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      Ritesh ji,I basically think the world of emotion, feeling and myth is a very powerful way of approaching the Absolute. Only when literal interpretation of myth (like Kula Pavana pointed out above about prajapatis creating the species) is used as a proto-type model to oppose evolution, then I find it problematic. Also my point was that when I was presented the anti-evolution material by ISKCON, I hardly knew anything about evolution and engineering education did not challenge any assumptions at all. It does not mean people are not intelligent in India, just that they do not have exposure to opposing ideas (purvapaksins). So if someone claims that their truth is Absolute objective, then they need to demonstrate that and go in open debates with the opposition. Otherwise, they should be aware that theirs is a subjective opinion (though it is absolute for them). Most simple people are satisfied by doing the basic things right and I learn a lot from them. Just to conclude I would say that you need to consider why the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury accepted evolution though it would have suited them better to not accept it.

  • Aziz

    Someone has argued that evolution is very “popular” and that great religious personalities amongst Christians have aligned themselves with the scientists’ views. Since when did “popular” become a sign of success? Is Christians a reference of truth? I consider all this religions as materialist and plagued with ignorance, they are violent and intolerant. There are amongst the greatest enemies of vaisnava culture. So, I am not impressed or astonished when your guys say that they have accepted the theory of evolution. You are saying therefore that we should follow their example… I think you are under an illusion that truth, like exposed in the Vedas, can simply be presented and people (popular) will realize that vaisnavism is the best knowledge for humankind and themselves. If this is the case, if you are under this illusion, then you are wrong. The truth is that people are not interested in knowing the truth. (The truth is not hidden; anyone can go to a library or on the Web and find tones of infos). One who has studied philosophy seriously will tell you that. In fact, I will drive the nail a little further: the greatest force conducting this world is not knowledge, but lie!
    If I am still allowed to speak here after my opposition to yours, I will latter answer about the Prajapati. I will tell you why I consider the version of the Purana much more intelligible than the foolishness going on the name of science.

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      Sure Aziz, I accept I am deluded. Of that there is no doubt. What you are saying is perhaps true. The entire world’s religious people are not interested in the truth. Only the vaisnavas are interested in truth and they know it. Have a nice devotional life. Pranams!

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        ‘Sure Aziz, I accept I am deluded. Of that there is no doubt. What you are saying is perhaps true. The entire world’s religious people are not interested in the truth. Only the vaisnavas are interested in truth and they know it. Have a nice devotional life. Pranams!’

        😀

    • Narada-kunda dasi

      Dear Aziz,

      If you would like to know the details of why children are being brainwashed with atheistic philosophy etc. in schools, what the role of the Christian church is in counterfeiting history, and so on, I can recommend “The Ringing Cedars of Russia” by Vladimir Megre to be a mine of valuable information and a real eye-opener.

      • Aziz

        Thank you for your advice, Narada-Kunda dasi. They may be many reasons for that, mostly is ignorance and the falsification of historical events. Where I was born, in Nord Africa, they used to teach us that our ancestors where Gaulish :-). So, I never gave credits to their false spéculations derived from their barbarian origins to which they want to hide the horrors perpetrated by their nation.
        I don’t read books in English, or rarely. I love to much my second language and I am much more at ease to write, think or read in French. I have also more than plenty of books I like to read, but it is not so easy for me: I don’t read; I study. What to speak of the many books my friends want me to go through each time they come to see me 🙂 I just can’t do that. But what you could do in return is to write here a resume, which I think everyone will appreciate. Thanks, one more time. Aziz

  • Aziz

    I am sorry Gaura Vijay, I did not want to offend you. I am just expressing myself on philosophical matters. The context of the discussion, a vaisnava forum, made me speak this way. I am not so fine. I never talk with devotees. This is my first time since … 10, 15 years? But I talk like this with everyone. And they all react like you. Please, excuse-me. I don’t have “a devotional life”. I don’t belong to any group or religion. My name, elAziz, was given by my mother, it is a name of God. It means the Independent. I don’t like religions but I like the teachings of AC. Bhativendanta Swami SrilaPrabhupada. I study many great thinkers, but I never got across of a spiritual library like his mind. It is the most precious and essential knowledge ever synthesized in the world. And so artistic. I read all his discussions and heard them on tapes. Still, I listen to them from time to time. I love his way, his personality, his cleanliness of the body and the mind, his sensibility to plants, animals, food, everything. He is the best. He is a vaisnava. Too bad that I could not meet him. I know also the devotees. But it’s not for me. I will never be able to have this kind of talks with them, like about Bataille, Nietzsche, and so many philosophers. Also, since you spoke about me as a “vaisnava” (for which I feel honored to be called thus) I don’t appreciate nether I like theirs political and social views on society. I feel like there are irresponsable. And as I said, I don’t like religions, institutions or groups of any kind. I am kind of the “anarchist” described by Noam Chomsky. I will try from now on not to frustrate you. If you could count me as your friend, despite my temperament, I will feel better. Aziz, humbly

  • Anant

    Aziz: Someone has argued that evolution is very “popular” and that great religious personalities amongst Christians have aligned themselves with the scientists’ views. Since when did “popular” become a sign of success?

    You probably missed the purpose of that reference. It had nothing to do with popularity. It was meant to show that even those who have strong motivations to oppose evolution (like many Christians) have reluctantly been forced to accept it. There aure are fundamentalist Christians as well in great number, but there are also many Christians who have felt forced to acknowledge the evidence in favor of evolution. In many ways, Hindus are lagging behind in their knowledge of science, mostly because science developed in Western Europe and has had a much longer interaction with Christianity. The result is that Christianity has a more sophisticated response to science than what Hindus or Muslims have. Indians confuse what they learn in school level science and engineering institutes to be imparting an education in science. The reality is that very few are exposed to the historical and philosophical aspects of pure science.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      Absolutely, Anant. That was one brief, but finely articulated point indeed. Good stuff.

    • Aziz

      Thank you Anant for your answers. I am quite in accordance with that. I understand well that India has no answer to the science development and its philosophy. Hindus, Christians, muslim, or whatever, it appears that it is kali-yuga. Demons have taken possession of all cultures over the wold. There is no such think as “Pure science” in my book, there is nothing like a pure religion either. There are all -science is the same- contaminated by the mode of ignorance and passionate to the max. (It is impossible to separate consciousness from activity.) Take care, Aziz.

      • Anant

        Dear Aziz, let’s use down-to-earth language here. I’m not sure what Kali yuga or demons or mode of passion/ignorance have to do with this issue. By ‘pure science’, I just mean science that is delinked from its technological applications, and examined for its own sake, with a focus on philosophy and historical development rather than using it to solve engineering problems. Newton did not develop his laws to solve engineering problems. ‘Science’ was a tool to discover reality, and to answer questions in natural philosophy which had an overlap with theology as well. India has progressed in terms of education in engineering, but very few people actually study pure science. This is why the kind of opposition you see to evolution from Hindus (i’m referring to those Hindus who oppose and don’t accept evolution) is much less sophisticated than what you see from the Christian ID movement for example. That is probably why it would make sense to learn from the mistakes of anti-evolution debates in Christianity, which has had a longer history and hence more time to develop a response to science. Otherwise, Hindus will be doomed to repeat the same old faulty arguments that even Christians have given up.

        • Aziz

          Dear Aziz, let’s use down-to-earth language here. I’m not sure what Kali yuga or demons or mode of passion/ignorance have to do with this issue. By ‘pure science’, I just mean science that is delinked from its technological applications, and examined for its own sake, with a focus on philosophy and historical development rather than using it to solve engineering problems.

          Hi,Anant thank you for you answer. The command of these notions is absolutely essential in understanding their influences -times, modes of nature (guna) or the quality of a jiva- on the issue here. Not being familiar on how these realities work on our thoughts and decisions, it is difficult to grasp the Vaisnava philosophy, the key to resolve the mystery on our origin and the reason of our imprisonment in this world (there is no better explanation amongst all the spiritualities and philosophies in the world). If you don’t understand the pertinence of these subtleties of the Vedic paradigm to analyze any actions, like the researches in science, you should therefore approach a Vaisnava so that he explains to you its importance. Then, everything I have tried to discuss here without success (like decrease of memory or plants and virtues loosing their qualities) will be clarified. As I argued already, both side of a debate must be clearly exposed so that a scientific method could be recognized as such and an objective result expected. Otherwise, it is just pure rhetoric, pure science. Pure science as an objective experience is a utopia. I have stressed this point in my discussion on Georges Bataille. You cannot separate the experience from the experimenter, a poem or a literary work from his author and expect a global understanding to make universal truths. Aziz

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Not being familiar on how these realities work on our thoughts and decisions, it is difficult to grasp the Vaisnava philosophy, the key to resolve the mystery on our origin and the reason of our imprisonment in this world (there is no better explanation amongst all the spiritualities and philosophies in the world). If you don’t understand the pertinence of these subtleties of the Vedic paradigm to analyze any actions, like the researches in science, you should therefore approach a Vaisnava so that he explains to you its importance. Then, everything I have tried to discuss here without success (like decrease of memory or plants and virtues loosing their qualities) will be clarified.

    And just what really is behind the presumptuousness and foolhardiness that is leading you to try and preach to others in such a pathetically juvenile fashion? How do you know if Anant isn’t familiar with all the so-called Vaisnava notions you’ve been throwing about, shotgun-style, or whether he has actually thought better of them, and therefore does not espouse these concepts à la you? He may well, like many other people, have examined these themes in some depth before settling on the conclusions he has.

    Other than that, have you conducted a thorough, in-depth study of all competing metaphysical traditions in an earnest, open-minded manner, prior to deducing that the ideas which you have come to subscribe to provide the ‘best’ explanation of reality? That certainly does not seem to be the case, to me anyway. I will say that I’ve studied various Indic philosophies to an appreciable level, and that I do not, for a second, share your views on this count, whilst deeply respecting and appreciating Chaitanya Vaishnavism as a valid spiritual path. That said, I regard it as just one of many genuine contemplative schools. Now, before you dole out any unsolicited suggestions to me, let me make it clear that I began my quest for Truth, with a capital T, with Bengali Vaishnavism, and have in fact dedicated a decade and a half of my sojourn on earth to viewing the world through its lens. So, I am well familiar with all the arguments I’ve read from you on here, given that for years, I myself held such baseless, essentially religious fundamentalist opinions.

    Moreover, what I, and I imagine a few others besides me, find most annoying is your jumping down the throats of thoughtful practitioners of Krsna Consciousness like Gaura Vijaya and Kula-pavana; to their credit, these devotees have not abandoned the use of rational thought and reason, even whilst being totally committed to their chosen brand of spirituality. Quite frankly, Aziz, you’re the one in need of further reading and careful thinking on an entire host of subjects, much more so than those who’ve rightly opposed your fanatical take on Vaishnava-bhakti on this particular forum.

    • Ritesh

      ou cannot separate the experience from the experimenter, a poem or a literary work from his author and expect a global understanding to make universal truths

      This seems a valid point to me. How can we separate the effects a philosophy,a thought, an ideology has on its adherents from the object itself?

      And just what really is behind the presumptuousness and foolhardiness that is leading you to try and preach to others in such a pathetically juvenile fashion?

      Vikram, I am not sure whether such a polemic against anyone would help them get your point – and it might be the same case with Aziz as well. While studying contemporary metaphysical traditions might broaden our understanding, will that itself help neophytes like me to arrive at a path which provides genuine spiritual experience? Isn’t it simply more than theoretical study of different traditions?

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        Isn’t it simply more than theoretical study of different traditions?

        Whilst there certainly is worth to the question raised in this instance, a ‘theoretical study,’ preferably, though not compulsorily, combined with some extent of first-hand practice and experiential engagement, even if tokenistic, is the most helpful tool available, for an individual wishing to gain a grasp on as many as possible of the diverse forms of religion in the world that they may deem necessary. Immersing oneself in a single given tradition is laudable as long as it doesn’t translate into us wearing blinkers and not wanting to give credit to anything else, a frame of mind which, more than often, leads to disrespecting other paths and their adherents, as well as pigeonholing people who are not members of one’s own club. At the far end of the spectrum, things get just as messy since nobody has the time and wherewithal to try them all in an involved, engaged manner. That is not in any way a pragmatic option to envisage.

  • Robotmule

    I think a hierarchy of ideas just needs to be established, because if Vaishnavism becomes “just another path”, then the status of the deity is at risk.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      Robotmule, considering one’s chosen path to be foremost is a natural tendency, and this isn’t something I’m denying. What one needs to bear in mind, however, is that such an attitude or feeling is, by definition, subjective and personal, not an objectively verifiable truism to be shoved down the throats of all and sundry, or about which one ought to be obdurate or dogmatic, especially on a public forum.

      At the end of the day, a person will end up picking the particular kind of metaphysic that most powerfully and intimately resonates with his or her psychology, intellect and emotional make-up – again, subjectivity is key, in regard to what we’re discussing. Needless to say, to be making this statement, I have evidently ceased believing in absolutes since long, at the very least in the manner in which far too many, to my liking, conceive of them – in an exclusivist sense. I, of course, respect your or anyone else’s fundamental right to differ from me on this. However, I will say that, notwithstanding the arsenal of scriptural quotes (predominantly from late Smriti sources, it should be pointed out) Vaishnavas customarily cite in support of the veracity of their theology, the actual fact is that, if one cares to dig into the foundational canonical texts of the wider Vedic tradition, i.e. the Vedas and Upanishads, there IS incontrovertible support for the essential stances of all four basic Hindu lines – Advaita, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. As you may know, ancient South Asia was even home to a peculiar variety of rationalistic atheism that went by the name of Lokayata philosophy, sometimes referred to as the Carvaka school. So we have to understand Vaishnavism in the context in which it arose and was developed by its founders, i.e. as one primarily personalistic philosophy amid a number of competing alternatives.

      In the specific instance of Chaitanyaism, it is even more vital to consider the myriad external influences that have contributed to shaping it to what it resembles today – to that end, careful study of the textual tradition underpinning the Chaitanyaite worldview is eminently helpful, as is knowledge of the exogenous inputs to it in the realms of aesthetics, dramaturgy, ritualistic praxis, orthopraxy etc.

      In other words, had some commenters been adequately informed on the above scores, they would probably have refrained from behaving as though they thought Gaudiya Vaishnavism had existed in its present form, unaltered, from the beginnings of the cosmos.

      And Ritesh, while I can relate to your points, I will temper them with a couple of further arguments.

      ‘How can we separate the effects a philosophy,a thought, an ideology has on its adherents from the object itself?’

      If you apply this standard to much of the contemporary Krsna Conscious world, a great many people would simply turn about and flee at the mere sight of devotees. Please try seeing where I’m coming from on this one.

      ‘While studying contemporary metaphysical traditions might broaden our understanding, will that itself help neophytes like me to arrive at a path which provides genuine spiritual experience? Isn’t it simply more than theoretical study of different traditions?’

      Once more, there is sense to what you write, but that doesn’t negate the thing I said earlier on, namely that we should exercise special caution not to ignorantly denigrate religious ways that may be at variance with what holds sway in our own inner selves but of which we know not a thing, or very little at any rate.

    • Kula-pavana

      Nobody here questions the idea that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Being (Vaishnavism). But within that idea there is plenty of room for the 4 main Vaishnava sampradayas, their sub-branches, and individual Vaishnavas, to interpret the sacred tradition in a way they find most suitable given time, place, and circumstances.

      • Aziz

        Nobody here questions the idea that Lord Vishnu is the Supreme Being (Vaishnavism).

        May be you should revise your opinion about this one. Anyway,it seems that we don’t have the same tools, to analyse history…

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Going by a number of comments posted to certain specific articles on this otherwise fine Vaishnavite-oriented forum of late, it would appear that a few folks are in dire need of performing some form of meditation on the following wisdom-laden words of the remarkable servant of Sri Radha-ramana in Vrindavan, Vaishnavacarya Chandan Goswami:

    ‘The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can’t be organized or regulated. It isn’t true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.’

    This wonderful thought apparently carries so much resonance in the venerated Goswami’s own spiritual life that he has it as a sort of motto or dictum on the home page of his blog. And to think that this is coming from a young man born in an illustrious lineage of sevaites serving in the temple of none other than the charming, world-famous, self-manifested idol that appeared to Gopala Bhatta Goswami, one has to bow in admiration, verily.

    http://www.chandangoswami.com/

  • Rudrani dd

    And just what really is behind the presumptuousness and foolhardiness that is leading you to try and preach to others in such a pathetically juvenile fashion? How do you know if Anant isn’t familiar with all the so-called Vaisnava notions you’ve been throwing about, shotgun-style, or whether he has actually thought better of them, and therefore does not espouse these concepts à la you? He may well, like many other people, have examined these themes in some depth before settling on the conclusions he has.

    Can we seriously think that this kind of language will foment the spirit of dialog?

  • Anant

    Dear Aziz and Ritesh,

    I think you’re still misunderstanding what I meant by ‘pure science’. I’m not denying that science, being a human endeavor, is prone to biases and even its observations may be theory-laden. What I said is that the science we learnt in school and engineering/medical schools is very limited, and is mainly applied in nature. There is essentially no attention given to the history and philosophy of science in our education (so even simple things like Newton’s laws are not understood in their real context), and there is very little such an education provides in terms of understanding those branches of science that have less bearing on technology — examples being evolutionary theory, paleoanthropology, quantum mechanics, cosmology, geology, etc. Unfortunately, it’s these areas that have a bearing on religion, and the result is that traditionalists who try to attack science because of its conflicts with religion have little understanding of what they’re attacking. That is what I meant.

    Science may have its biases, but religion is more prone to biases, because there is no common platform on which people of different religions can debate with one another and show each other wrong, and the subject matter is also not amenable to any decisive conclusions. In science on the other hand, there is incentive for scientists to show existing theories as wrong, because that is what gives the scientist the maximum fame. So I don’t see what comes out by pointing to flaws in the human nature of scientists, as if those flaws are absent in people who follow religion. Human nature is the same everywhere, but the processes underlying science are meant to bring out the best theories on top, whereas there is no self-correcting mechanism inherent in religion to do this.

    • Aziz

      I think you’re still misunderstanding what I meant by ‘pure science’.

      I agree, there is a lack of communication. I am saying that if their theories are pure science, then they should refrain from brainwashing kids at kindergardens, colleges and universities. They should stop telling them that we are coming from monkeys and the like. That is my point. Thank you very much for your tolerance.

  • Anant

    …the actual fact is that, if one cares to dig into the foundational canonical texts of the wider Vedic tradition, i.e. the Vedas and Upanishads, there IS incontrovertible support for the essential stances of all four basic Hindu lines – Advaita, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta.

    That is also admitted in the popular verse from Mahabharata which many quote, but few pay attention to the first half:

    “shrutiH vibhinnAH smR^itayaH cha bhinnAH nAsau R^iShiH yasya matam na bhinnam”

    The shrutis are diverse, so are the smritis, and there is no Rishi whose opinion isn’t different (from others).

    Ultimately, one has to pick and choose a small selection of these diverse texts and build a coherent philosophical system out of them.

    • Aziz

      The shrutis are diverse, so are the smritis, and there is no Rishi whose opinion isn’t different (from others).

      Ultimately, one has to pick and choose a small selection of these diverse texts and build a coherent philosophical system out of them.

      That is too vague. Vyasa has divided the Vedic scriptures according to the modes of material nature. Some were destined to those who are in ignorance, some to those who are in passion, and some for those in goodness. Service for the Gods is different from each category and can be antagonist. For example, vaisnavas don’t offer blood to the deity, even if we find the prescription in the sacred literature. They don’t consider the menstrue of a woman sacred and pure. Goddess Durga or Lord Indra can have some consideration for them, since it is by Indra’s fault that women voluntarily, in their mercy, decided to partake his offence; this way, they tried to relieve him from that burden of committing incest. But vaisnavas don’t allow women in that state of body to touch the deity.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        If you want to be taken seriously when engaging in public discourse, you will have to have recourse to something better than quote mere sectarian categorisations and resort to allusions to mythological, fanciful elements, in order to defend your points. Vagueness has so far characterised your own comments much more than it does the citation above. Are you honestly so naive as to think that we haven’t read all the things you’ve been talking about, and mused upon them at some length prior to marginalising these ideas for good reason? Quite clearly, there is much, much that you need to gen up on, gentleman, insofar as the historiography and hermeneutics that underlie the school of thought you claim to speak on behalf of is concerned. And frankly, that says it all really.

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          Quite clearly, there is much, much that you need to gen up on, gentleman, insofar as the historiography and hermeneutics that underlie the school of thought you claim to speak on behalf of are concerned. – typo correction

      • Anant

        That is too vague. Vyasa has divided the Vedic scriptures according to the modes of material nature. Some were destined to those who are in ignorance, some to those who are in passion, and some for those in goodness.

        Dear Aziz,

        It may be too vague for you, but that was unfortunately the best that Yudhishthira could reply when Yama asked him what is the right path to follow, and the vague reply was good enough to satisfy Yama. The author(s) of Mahabharata (as well as Yudhishthira himself, to the extent the reply has a historical kernel) probably was not aware that at a later point, Vaishnavas would insist on one philosophy as the best and relegate others (non-Vaishnava philosophies) to modes of passion and ignorance. Actually, even Vaishnava philosophies are diverse. Yet everyone considers their own philosophy to the best and the others to be deluded or ignorant or in lower modes for their own reasons. Even Brahma Sutras, which supposedly were written to harmonize the contradictions in the various Upanishads, ended up being interpreted in a variety of ways.

        As Dr. Radhakrishnan put it:

        “The Indian thinkers first arrive at a system of consistent doctrine and then look about for texts of an earlier age to support their position. They either force them into such support or ingeniously explain them away.”

        Another quote, reminiscent of the above Mahabharata verse:

        “So numerous are their suggestions of truth and so varied their guesses at God, that almost anybody may seek in them what he wants and find what he seeks.”

        Yudhishthira saw it, Dr. Radhakrishnan sees it too, yet we don’t because we live so isolated within one particular community’s views!

        • Aziz

          Anant wrote:

          Yudhishthira saw it, Dr. Radhakrishnan sees it too, yet we don’t because we live so isolated within one particular community’s views!

          I am little puzzled for good now! Who is this Doctor Radhakrishnan you are talking about?

          • Anant

            I am little puzzled for good now! Who is this Doctor Radhakrishnan you are talking about?

            Someone who read the texts independent of one particular sect’s interpretations, and saw how every tradition had to do some force-fitting to read in their philosophy into the texts. By no means is he the only one who saw this. It resonates with my own study also, as I’m sure it does with others here – Gaura-Vijaya, Vikram, etc.

          • Aziz

            Someone who read the texts independent of one particular sect’s interpretations.

            And You know that he did not consider Sri Krsna as the supreme God? You know that he considered the Prajapatis, the Pandavas, Draupadi, Ganesh or Krsna invented actors of a myth?
            You know…

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            ‘And You know that he did not consider Sri Krsna as the supreme God?’

            Nor did the three most respected Vedantins India has produced, Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhva. The first considered him the Saguna form of the superior, transcendent Nirguna Brahman, whilst the latter two regarded Krsna as an incarnation of Narayana, and not directly the Godhead.

            Anant, you’re wasting your time with this guy, man. Any idiot can see that he’s only interested in hearing himself talk, and is incapable of adhering to basic, commonsensical principles of argumentation. We all have better, more edifying things to do. He’s simply not worth it.

          • Aziz

            Vikram Ramsoondur wrote :

            Anant, you’re wasting your time with this guy, man (Aziz). Any idiot can see that he’s only interested in hearing himself talk, and is incapable of adhering to basic, commonsensical principles of argumentation.

            You must come on a vaisnave forum to hear someone calling you an “idiot” because you are trying to express the grandeur of the vaisnava cult. We are in the heart of kali-yuga, but just the beginning.

            The conclusion of The Harmonist from page on this site: It “seeks to facilitate and take part in this discussion—the conversation that is the human response to revelation grounded in Vedanta. There are numerous schools of Vedanta, the majority of which are theistic and devotional. Our focus is also devotional Vedanta and the school of Sri Caitanya—Gaudiya Vedanta—in particular. We publish articles illuminating the philosophical conclusions of Gaudiya Vedanta, often by way of interfacing with other spiritual and philosophical traditions in a way that honors these traditions in their own right.”

          • You must come on a vaisnave forum to hear someone calling you an “idiot” because you are trying to express the grandeur of the vaisnava cult. We are in the heart of kali-yuga, but just the beginning.

            The conclusion of The Harmonist from page on this site: It “seeks to facilitate and take part in this discussion—the conversation that is the human response to revelation grounded in Vedanta. There are numerous schools of Vedanta, the majority of which are theistic and devotional. Our focus is also devotional Vedanta and the school of Sri Caitanya—Gaudiya Vedanta—in particular. We publish articles illuminating the philosophical conclusions of Gaudiya Vedanta, often by way of interfacing with other spiritual and philosophical traditions in a way that honors these traditions in their own right.”

            Apparently “The human response to revelation grounded in Vedanta” is variegated. Some take it literally, some take it essentially, some don’t take it at all. Regardless, everyone here seems fascinated with Gaudiya Vedanta.

          • Aziz

            swami bv tripurari says:

            Apparently “The human response to revelation grounded in Vedanta” is variegated. Some take it literally, some take it essentially, some don’t take it at all. Regardless, everyone here seems fascinated with Gaudiya Vedanta.

            Dear Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada explained that as many head you can count in an assembly comprising different faith and believe, as many opinions will arise from them. I think therefore, the best you can get is a compromise by which all the positions have been laminating to accomodate the forces and weakness of everyone. It sounds like “demoncrazy” to me, instead of a field for improving our love for Krsna.

            http://www.harekrsna.com/philosophy/associates/demons/siva/ritual.jpg

            “A mad man can say anything, just like a goat can eat anything.” Srila Prabupada

            I came here by chance. I am noticing now how times are changing. I am quite sad to tell you the truth to hear all the trash going on on the name of social awareness. I am stopping now my interference and am living the place. Hare Krsna and good luck!

          • Kula-pavana

            Aziz-ji… IMO the grandeur of the Vaishnava cult is in the goodness and tolerance of it’s saints and followers – that is something all people in the world can appreciate. I was always deeply touched by how nice the devotees were as human beings. I have met so many truly wonderful people in our movement – I have also met some who were not so nice, but I try not to dwell on those experiences. The grandeur in terms of philosophy or religious doctrine may or may not be appreciated by people in general, but the good qualities of true devotees are admired by all.
            dhiradhira-jana-priyau priya-karau nirmatsarau pujitau

        • Bhushan

          Anant,

          Terror Management Theory(TMT) attempts to explain why humans cling to dogmas. This theory follows from the work of Kierkegaard, Otto Rank and Ernst Becker. Crudely speaking, according to TMT, a particular belief, dogma gives humans a feeling of security and immortality. The more the insecurity the more the clinging. And when it is opposed by some other dogma (immortality project) then there is some friction. Either the differing opinions/beliefs are ignored, attacked, trivialized, or absorbed.

          The wise, who have conquered insecurity, can easily share a bed with uncertainty and hence differing opinions don’t unsettle them.

          -Bhushan

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            The wise, who have conquered insecurity, can easily share a bed with uncertainty and hence differing opinions don’t unsettle them.

            Indeed. Actually, Gaura-Vijaya and I have shared a fair number of private discussions on the tricky question of how to deal with the ever-present (albeit oft-ignored, in lots of cases anyway) spectre of uncertainty. It is this, in fact, more than anything, that ended up motivating in me the recanting of the set of dogma-based values that were mine in my previous avatar (no pun intended) as a Hindu/Vaishnavite-influenced reactionary, and that in effect engendered the gradual but inexorable transformation of my thoughts in the direction of the existential standpoints at which I am located today.

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          I did not call you an idiot, Aziz. Please go though that remark of mine anew and make an attempt at understanding it prior to reacting in such knee-jerk, sentimental fashion. Yes, I have on a number of occasions criticised the way in which you treat evidence that doesn’t conform with your cosy notions of truth and reality, and the strategy you employ in voicing out your objections to such material. Then again, I’m not the only contributor to have called your tactic into question. At least three other persons, that I recall, have done so. And this doesn’t amount to puerile name-calling.

  • Robotmule

    Hypothetically, if one were the creator of a civilization, would Krsna Consciousness be the best philosophy to “impose” or “suggest” to the “masses” for the reason of peace?

    This is what Srila Prabuphada suggests very adamantly. Basically the only “necessary” religion. In the Bhagavad-Gita, this is also firmly suggested : Surrender to the Syamasundara Krsna form as the final step in your personal evolution.

    So, how to harmonize variety within the “limit” of Krsna as the ultimate deity of sacrifice and communication?

    Check out this case for the banning of Bhagavad-Gita in Russia :
    http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/news/10-11/news4007.htm

    Conceptually; Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Atheism, Agonosticism, Disneyland etc…. all fall under the umbrella of Krsna Consciousness in the way that it explains itself. I think it is an issue of “guilt”, in the sense that one can sometimes feel intimidated by its extremely direct focus of attention. Perhaps in our material frames our faith is tested, so that if we keep the faith, Krsna will award us with the Supreme Destination according to his utmost excellent vision for the individual – how does HE want to communicate with YOU.

    People are afraid of losing variegatedness, ie.aesthetic stimulation, which alludes to being bored in eternity – a horrible thought. I suffer from this fear, but it’s a mentally constructed fear. Many people ask this question : “There is so much variety, so why must I surrender to Krsna Consciousness?”

    If “Vaishnavas” don’t protect the primordial faith, then everything will “relapse” into “impersonalism” (at least in their culture), and speaking on a grande cosmological form, those who did not find HIM will just prolong their search for their source, which is claimed to be Krsna. So, if something claims to be the “Supreme Absolute Truth”, how does one approach that which is not?

    I don’t know, I’m asking.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      Pardon the brevity, my friend, but this is all I have time for. There is no primordial faith. Truth is infinitely variegated and is the monopoly of no one. Rather, from the very start of human civilisation, pluralism has been the norm, and will continue being so long after we’ve departed this earth. Since you speak from a Vaishnava perspective, it is useful to bear in mind the broader religious and cultural context that gave rise to it in the first place – the Sanskritic Hindu world. Now, the very books that lie at the fundament of this culture explicitly favour a multifold approach to Transcendence, and this is quite clear, for those who are familiar with these texts and the society which they’ve spawned, classical Hinduism. With this, I rest my case, on here anyway.

      • Robotmule

        *Vikram, only if you have time for this, do you have to answer my question to you:

        From a purely technical/conceptual standpoint, what is your opinion of “Krsna”?

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          Krsna, to me, is an abidingly charming representation of the Divine conceived by the human mind, and around whom a complex, sophisticated, and deep devotional theology has developed. Krsna, Visnu, Narayana, Vasudeva, Rama etc were all originally the God concepts of different Indic tribes; at a certain point in antiquity, they were identified with one another and merged into the Deity of the greater Vaishnava religion that we are accustomed to today. The same basic pattern of amalgamation equally occurred in the case of the different forms of Shiva and Devi. Simply expressed, it can be said that the many different groups inhabiting ancient India thus became lumped with one of the four main Hindu sects, which then kept evolving alongside the non-Vedic Indian philosophies of Buddhism, Jainism and so on.

          To address the specificity of the question you asked, I have already written somewhere else, though not in as many words, that I felt a profound appreciation for the bhakti sects, and consider the dual Godhead of these (varied) traditions, Radha-Krishna, to be beautiful forms upon which to meditate and attain a particular Brahman ideal, or a specified aspect of it. However, as also stated by me, I regard the goals of other religions, Indic, Vedic, or otherwise, to be as lofty and worthy of pursuit by those who do feel so inclined. Obviously, this is but my personal way of reconciling the plethora of metaphysical conceptions I encounter, and not for a second do I posit that anyone else should adopt these means. Nonetheless, it is the method that suits me best and which allows me to make the most sense out of everything. Having said this, it would be remiss on my part not to add that I also accept atheism and agnosticism as sound, intellectually respectable stances from which one can comprehend reality.

          Now, all this may logically lead you to question how I actually view these different notions of truth, from an ontological standpoint. My reply here will be that I do not insist on the ontological reality of this or that God or Goddess. They may or may not exist for real – that isn’t the point, nor am I properly equipped to decisively respond one way or the other on that count. Yet, the psychological facet of their existence is very real, and history is testament to this. In short, I hold that God/Parabrahman/call Him/Her/It what you will, lives in our minds only; in any event, the specifics of our individual, personal visions of the absolute truth factually reside in us solely. It goes without saying that a lot more could be added to the above few points, and time permitting, I shall perhaps research this further and elaborate on it sometime. But for now, I hope that this answers your query, although you will surely, and rightfully, take exception to it.

          • Vikram,

            You have described Radha Krsna as

            beautiful forms upon which to meditate and attain a particular Brahman ideal

            and then gone on to say

            I hold that God/Parabrahman/call Him/Her/It what you will, lives in our minds only

            So the Brahman ideal attained in your idea of spiritual practice is nothing more than a mental state? Is there no causal role and ontological status for even consciousness in your worldview?

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            Pranams Maharaja,

            In reply to your question, let me say that, at this juncture, I am unfortunately in possession of neither sufficient information, nor adequate experientially-derived conviction, that would cause me to positively argue in favour of the ontological reality of God (in the infinity of forms in which people around the world conceive of the concept), or of the soul, and by extension, consciousness that is distinct from matter.

            I am of course familiar with the theoretical philosophical literature, Vedantic and otherwise, on these themes, but since my personal nature is such that it compels me to invariably go where the evidence leads me to, influenced as that direction is, by the slant of my inner yearnings, I cannot, at this point in time, exhibit any sort of certitude as to the existence of the anti-material/spiritual/transcendental. By the same token, I do not deny that God and souls quite possibly indeed exist. For now, however, I simply prefer to keep my mind open vis-à-vis such things, and carry on exploring the specific metaphysical traditions I happen to find intellectually and emotionally appealing.

          • I believe that the observable evidence for and against consciousness being supernatural is at best equal. On the side of it being supernatural and causal, nothing observable contradicts this premise, and the experience of mystics that it is such and more cannot be taken lightly without departing from objectivity. Thus with equal evidence on both sides and common sense sensibilities that are embraced by one (supernaturalism) and rejected by the other (naturalism) and compelling examples of supernaturalism . . .

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            On the side of it being supernatural and causal, nothing observable contradicts this premise, and the experience of mystics that it is such and more cannot be taken lightly without departing from objectivity.

            I more or less concur, Maharaja, and it is this factor, more than anything else, that forms the basis of my enduring interest in philosophy, mysticism and spirituality. It’s just that the route I’ve paved for myself to, hopefully, sooner or later get there is unconventional, to say the least. Please accept my respects.

          • Robotmule

            I wanted to also keep this short, but the debate has gone into another direction. I’m typing this in an amiable and Sattvic mood.

            From a “dogmatic” perspective, the case would be that “you are bewildered by the external energy and trapped on the intellectual plane” ;). But, barring this classification, which I most often place on myself, I would recommend that you seek a direct supernatural experience (only if you are actually desiring affirmation). “Synchronicity” is like a flickering reminder of a-causal “supernatural” reality.

            The electromagnetic spectrum is a perfect scientific model that points out the limits of our organic senses and thus also the mind that receives the information from said senses and ultimately “personal opinion”.

            The Brahman conception is beyond the mind in the sense that when you experience it, your mind ISN’T EVEN THERE to put things into boxes. Thus, it is a state where the seer within you SEES the non-dual reality. It is an actuality. From there, if one is lucky enough, one might REALIZE Paramatma, which means that in this state beyond the function of the mind, one SEES all phenomena as a personalized communication from the background personality or energetic source. The Vedas describes the form of this background personality as Krsna.

            On this plane, “love” is real, because you see the actual state of affairs : Souls trapped in different forms, seeking happiness, but not finding it eternally (beyond the temporary) in sex, sport, drugs, philosophy, friends, pets, money, food etc…. They are seeking it in objects that fade in energetic potency.

            “Hinduism” aims at the actual experience – Brahman REALIZATION, Paramatma REALIZATION, then the ultimate – BHAGAVAN. It is an ACTUAL PURE EXPERIENCE that reminds the indweller of the body that there is purpose to his existence and that life is easier than he imagined it to himself. It is not a speculation.

            No amount of words can convince anyone of the reality of this, thus, one must actively seek the experience for affirmation, almost like the pursuit of attaining a 6-pack abs. I can vouch for this. Do yourself a favour. The way the Vedas is in comparison to Maya is this : http://bababooks.org/SathyaSaiGita/saigita-images/sg-15asvattha.jpg

            I’m sure you’ve seen it. It is the ironic humour of the actual gods. Simultaneous sameness, yet difference. Logic and Illogic at the same time. Reality is dumber than we think, but also smarter…

            Evolution? Devolution? Happens everyday….nothing new. Perhaps the “Aryans” were living like Kings in Bharata, whilst the Neanderthals were putting little flowers on the graves of their dead family members in caves in Europe. Reality is more like “South Park” than “Research Departments”. Has anyone seen He-Man? Very spiritually relevant….

            I apologize for my apologetics.
            Hare Krsna

  • Aziz

    The contention is about the authority of science. How scientists are influencing our life and thoughts, for example on evolution and the origin of civilization. I started to point out, in this article on Hinduism and Écology, the false propaganda about presumed Aryans who came from Mongolian steppes and brought their believes to illuminate the inhabitants of Bharata… I have explained how science is responsible for most of the destruction on the planet, plants, rivers, seas, animals and humans. Doing so, scientists (who practice mostly a specific discipline born from Greco-Judaism) also denied the words of great vaisnava sages, with tremendous knowledge and realization, as mere fantasies or lies. At best, they call them “myths”. I named G. Dumezil and Madeleine Biardeau, both scholars recognized all over the world as such, to be responsible, amongst others, for these misguiding. To support my position I also back it up with vaisnava philosophy (philosophy which seems to have lost his aura while reading from you). I am frankly surprised by your feedback.
    You guys think that the so-called science on evolution is an independent research (from religions) and it is an authentic tabula rasa (starts from zero…). To tell you the truth, I never heard of such neutral science. You must be naïve to think it is possible and to quote thus: “the Arch Bishop of Canterbury and the previous Pope, the Dalai-Lama all believe in the general idea of evolution, especially because evidence is overwhelming.” “Overwhelming”?!? Did someone ever saw a new species arises since thousand of years? No! Not even a flying rat. (Well, that’s happen million of years ago, they will argue. A man came out of a monkey, or its cousin –that sounds better nowadays. Someone here said that, yes, new species have appeared…) But what strikes everyone’s eyes is the undisputed fact that species are disappearing by hundreds, to the point that we had to ring the bell urgently. I may remind you that the same Dalai Lama was enamored with Marxism and communism, if you know what it means. And Buddhists don’t give a fig to the Mahabharata. “The previous Pope”? … The one who thought that Jesus Christ is the Only son of God?! I am supposed to take advice from him on evolution?! He does not even know what a soul means… He believed, in his youth, that the body is the soul; that body and soul are of the same nature. You are advising me to stop believing in the Prajapatis as the ones who gave birth to the species and rejoin the cohort of materialists who think that life come from matter. I am puzzled. If I was, in my misfortune to follow your reasoning, I will soon avoid mentioning the Pandavas, Asvattama, Draupadi, Narada, Vyasa, Ganesh or Krishna in any serious discussion if I don’t want to look foolish. The Pope or the Dalai-lama sound much more respectable than Sridar Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada or any vaisnava on these matters!?! That’s what I am hearing from you.

    • Kula-pavana dasa

      Aziz-ji… you ask about the authority of science. For me personally the authority of science is in practical effects it produces, and in the quality of answers it provides to our essential questions. Thus for me it is not unlike the Vaishnava spirituality that I practice. My expectations of both are thus of practical nature, here and now.
      We – as individuals – are free to weave both science and spirituality into one fluid attempt to understand this world and ourselves.
      Over the years I have witnessed much arrogance and ignorance among the devotees, often combined with a blatant disregard for facts when they did not suit commonly accepted views. These attitudes came from the top and became a standard among the devotees. With time these attitudes produced very tangible bad results for the mission of Mahaprabhu. So many people rejected Krishna consciousness because of them. To me, that means we must seek out the practical truth wherever it may be found and not be close minded and stuck in ancient prejudices.

      It is not science which is responsible for destruction and pollution – it is people and only people who are responsible for these things. There was an inordinate amount of destruction and pollution prior to the Industrial Age all over the world, due to war, disease, famine, and exploitation of people and natural resources. Destruction and pollution are both symptoms of people’s IGNORANCE not science or knowledge.

      • Aziz

        you ask about the authority of science. For me personally the authority of science is in practical effects it produces, and in the quality of answers it provides to our essential questions. Thus for me it is not unlike the Vaishnava spirituality that I practice. My expectations of both are thus of practical nature, here and now.

        Thanks for your reply. Anand has given me a nice answer about “pure science”. It is not what we hear in school, he says, or on popular TV channels. This is true. I call this kind of reasoning “sophism”. It is true in one aspect but the reality is different. You ask someone in the street where we come from: he will give you Darwin’s theory; from monkeys. It is a classic argument amongst religious people to deny the fault. Muslims are using extreme violence and horror in the name of Allah but those who defend Islam, moderate for example, will say it is not Islam, it is a perversion. Islam is a religion of love and peace.
        I don’t have time now but I will answer to you later about your sadhana.
        Since Maharaj gave his thoughts on the Aryan invasions, I want to make this remark: there are different theories on the subject. The one which implies savage coming from the North is still repeated in text books, but it is abandoned by the ‘experts’. More widely spread was that India culture came from Iran; the Vedas were inspired by the Avesta…

        • I don’t think it is sophism to distinguish between science and scientism, the latter constituting a particular interpretation of scientific data that leads to metaphysical naturalism being pushed on humanity as if it were so obviously true as to dismiss religion, feeling and over arching meaning altogether.

          • Aziz

            I don’t think it is sophism to distinguish between science and scientism,

            Neither do I, but I am questioning the fact that scientists are thinking themselves as irresponsible for the demonic realm they discoveries are putting in place. The confusion around that responsibility carried easily or purposely a cover of sophism. Up to now, I didn’t hear from any of you other than eulogies on “Pure science” without a clear perspective of what means sciences from the Vedic point of you. Srila Prabhuapada have talked extensively on the matter and I like his arguments which are my main impulsion and orientation in arguing against their sufficient posture. On an other subject, the Aryans, once I heard Srila Praphupada explaining that Aryans are not a race, but a noble qualification. From there, everything became clear to me.

            PS. I am also very critical about vaishnavism. This is mainly why I don’t get alone with devotees. This said, it is, to me, the best path and the best knowledge I ever found. Aziz, humbly

          • Anant

            Neither do I, but I am questioning the fact that scientists are thinking themselves as irresponsible for the demonic realm they discoveries are putting in place.

            Dear Aziz,

            You are mixing up questions of fact and questions of value again. For argument’s sake, suppose I accept that the scientists’ discoveries are responsible for the “demonic realm” (whatever that means). Would that invalidate the discoveries of science? If you think no, then I hope you see the futility of bringing in matters of value when discussing matters of fact. And if you think yes, then you need to read about the difference between facts and values first.

        • Kula-pavana

          Both religion and science can be abused, and such abuse is mostly the result of ignorance and passion in people. But the abuse can also be written into a religion, for example when the religion tells you it is OK to kill people whose beliefs are different than yours if they chose not to convert.

          As to the issue of where the Aryans came from: It is very difficult for me to think that India is somehow an exception to the periodic mass migrations of people experienced by the rest of the world, especially when we look at the racial and linguistic variety of that country.
          Maybe 5000 years from now Americans will also claim that they have ALWAYS been here.

          • Ritesh

            Its very difficult for me to believe that a migration of Aryans could occur, and yet it is not mentioned in their sacred compositions, and the geography described in the Rig-Veda corresponds more with present-day India.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            and the geography described in the Rig-Veda corresponds more with present-day India.

            You say that, Ritesh, but scholars and historians think differently on this matter, notwithstanding the mounting opposition they’ve had to face over the past one or two decades with the rise of Hindutva.

          • Aziz

            Ritesh wrote:

            Its very difficult for me to believe that a migration of Aryans could occur, and yet it is not mentioned in their sacred compositions, and the geography described in the Rig-Veda corresponds more with present-day India.

            M. Biardeau, while commenting her translation of the Mahabharat says that the authors (sic) have purposely hide the facts that Buddhists were present all over India already when that composition was created. She argue that its main reason to be was to fight back Bouddhism with this epic naration which touched the heart of Indians. M. Biardeau is an authority on the subject. For her, it is important to demonstrate that the Mahabharata is not so old.
            I have photoshoped this funny picture for this occasion.
            <a href="http://www.bladi.net/forum/albums-8813/40581.jpg&quot; rel="nofollow"

            For this I used also the cover of a famous BD from Will Eisner -very good indeed-, who denounces the original, a fake, but widely accepted today in most arabic countries. And it is taught to kids.

          • Aziz

            Madeleine Biardeau, this highly respected scholar, says also that the Ramayana was produced after the Mahabharata!?!
            Personally, when an atheist or a monotheist wants to give me a lesson on history to correct me and try to disturb my faith, I just reject their testimony by the back of my hand. Especially if they are communist or marxist.:-)

        • Anant

          Since Maharaj gave his thoughts on the Aryan invasions, I want to make this remark: there are different theories on the subject. The one which implies savage coming from the North is still repeated in text books, but it is abandoned by the ‘experts’. More widely spread was that India culture came from Iran; the Vedas were inspired by the Avesta…

          Dear Aziz,

          I think the Aryan invasion or immigration or whatever name you want to use is frankly irrelevant from the standpoint of the larger picture, since all populations go back to Africa 50000 yrs ago. What difference does it make if the Vedas go back to 1500 BCE or 3000 BCE or 10000 BCE? Ultimately, everyone’s ancestry goes back to Africa only. Thus, I think this great attention given to when/whether the Aryans came in the last few thousand years is a case of misplaced priorities. It maybe a problem of significance to historians, linguists and archaeologists, and perhaps to those nationalists who want to push back the date of Vedic civilization by a few extra thousand years. Of what significance is it for Vaishnavas? If indefinite antiquity is what you want to establish, then you need to grapple with the Out of Africa theory, a more formidable theory falling squarely in the domain of science, and grounded on much more certain evidence.

          • Aziz

            I think the Aryan invasion or immigration or whatever name you want to use is frankly irrelevant from the standpoint of the larger picture, since all populations go back to Africa 50000 yrs ago.

            Your guys keep coming with this Aryans tribes like if it was a race… Nobody, I mean respectable thinkers, after the Hitler episode, beleave nowadays that such a race ever existed. And this, since at least 30 years.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            For you to come up with this half-baked response that is so egregiously wanting on all counts imaginable, Aziz, either elementary reading comprehension and logical thinking skills are lacking, or else you’re only interested in keeping yourself sheltered in your mental cocoon, and have no time to open up your mind to what the actual evidence suggests. As seems plainly obvious, you are not by any stretch in tune with current research on this and most other topics you’ve touched upon in your litany of tirades up to now.

            For the second time, I’m therefore pasting the link below. It’s from the official website of Nature magazine, one of the best, most respected scientific journals in the world, which practically everybody knows of.
            http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090923/full/news.2009.935.html

            If you wish to truly educate yourself on the subject matter of ancient Indian origins, many more such links and references can be purveyed, anytime. Just say the word.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            Aziz, this is an exposé on standard scholarly methodologies used in history studies of pre-modern India by a noted and ‘respected thinker,’ as you put it –
            http://www.indowindow.com/sad/article.php?child=20&article=14

            Here’s an extract from the interview transcript:

            The juxtaposition of archaeological and literary sources raises another set of questions. There are fanciful descriptions in the Mahabharata and the Ramayana of the life lived by the ruling families in towns such as Hastinapur and Ayodhya and other such places. But the excavated sites associated with these places suggest an ordinary style of life, hardly better than that of a prosperous village. Clearly there is much poetic licence in the epic descriptions. Archaeology in some senses questions what might be called the monopoly of the text.

            Introducing archaeological data into historical studies also forces historians to think along inter-disciplinary lines. The decline of the Indus cities is attributed to a range of causes, of which ecological change is among the major ones. The evolution of towns in the Ganges valley in the mid-first millennium B.C. has to do with techniques of forest clearance, rice cultivation, agricultural technology, the transportation of goods and other such features, to a far greater degree than political events. Technology can be a factor of change in some situations and of stasis in others.

            Data from archaeology makes, as it were, a direct input into history. Evidence from linguistics is less direct but extremely important to the analysis of texts, since it studies, among other things, the history of a language and language-change. Vedic Sanskrit, which was once thought to be a pure Indo-Aryan language, is now revealed as a mix of Indo-Aryan and non-Aryan languages. This puts it into a different perspective for the social historian who has to assess, on the basis of the linguistic evidence, the degree to which various social groups speaking other languages participated in the society reflected in the Vedic corpus. This naturally raises the question of an admixture not just of languages but of rituals, customs and institutions, and the need to explain how and why certain languages or certain institutions, became prevalent.

            And below is another must-read essay, by a no-less-acclaimed academic on the fascinating subject matter of Indian history:
            http://www.indowindow.com/sad/article.php?child=17&article=10

            An excerpt from the article follows.

            It is argued that the Aryans went from India to western Asia. But where is the evidence for the presence of the Aryans in India around 2300 B.C. when the earliest specimens of their language appear in Mesopotamia! If the Aryans used the Harappan script, why did they not take it to western Asia! When Buddhists went to Central Asia they carried the Brahmi script, and under the Kushans Prakrit inscriptions appear in Brahmi and Kharosthi in Bactria. Buddhist manuscripts appear in Turfan and Khotan. Since the Aryans did not have their writing, examples of their language appear in cuneiform script and the Hittite hieroglyphs. The Proto-Elamite script became extinct in about 2800 B.C., and the Harappan in about 1900 B.C. Hence, because of the time factor they could not use any of these. Although the Proto Indo-Aryans and the Proto Indo-Iranians lived in north and south Central Asia from circa 2500 B.C. onwards, because of the absence of writing even in the second millennium B.C. we do not get any specimen of their language. It is a misfortune for the champions of the theory of the Indian origin of the Aryans that there is no inscriptional evidence of Aryan presence in India. But in discussing this problem we cannot ignore such evidence from western Asia. We cannot study the Rg Veda in complete isolation from the general cultural development of the ancient world. All told, the attempt to impose a Vedic identity on the Harappan culture resembles similar attempts to exploit archaeology for political purposes in Spain, Portugal, Germany, Russia, China, Japan and several other countries.

          • Anant

            Your guys keep coming with this Aryans tribes like if it was a race… Nobody, I mean respectable thinkers, after the Hitler episode, beleave nowadays that such a race ever existed. And this, since at least 30 years.

            Dear Aziz,

            I explicitly said that the Aryan question is not relevant, in the light of the Out of Africa theory, which is quite well-established.

          • Aziz

            Anant wrote:

            “I explicitly said that the Aryan question is not relevant, in the light of the Out of Africa theory, which is quite well-established”.

            You mean that your ancestors are monkeys from Africa!?

          • Anant

            You mean that your ancestors are monkeys from Africa!?

            Independent of whether or not humans descend from earlier primates, the ancestral human population of all people today lived in Africa 50-100K years ago. This is quite well-established, and unlike the Aryan immigration issue, there is no controversy about it among scholars. Your deep ancestry is written into your genome, and can be decoded easily. You can send your saliva sample anonymously to the Genographic Project and they can figure out the broad path your ancestors took out of Africa.

        • Anant

          You ask someone in the street where we come from: he will give you Darwin’s theory; from monkeys.

          Dear Aziz,

          And what is your argument against Darwin’s theory? Let me guess – Darwin’s theory is making people behave like monkeys, because after all everyone is descended from them. So we don’t need to be human, we can just behave like monkeys, advise the scientists. Just look at this demoniac philosophy spreading in Kali yuga. Look at how it is making people behave like animals. Therefore, Darwin’s theory is wrong. Scientists are so biased — if I take the above flawless argument to them, they kick me out of their forums. This confirms what I say even more.

          Let me know if the above is not your argument.

          • Aziz

            Let me know if the above is not your argument.

            Yes, that was my argument, people are conducting themselves like monkeys. I should say -worst than monkeys. Because I’ll insult them if I said that. Are you doubting of the fact that most people are less than monkeys? You want me to draw you a picture? Just ask and I will demonstrate to you what means a demon (not like me, real ones who are sending animals, like mother Cow and its calves to slaughterhouses).

            What you are saying is that you are coming from monkeys? Did I understood well?

          • Anant

            Yes, that was my argument, people are conducting themselves like monkeys. I should say -worst than monkeys.

            Thank you for confirming that you don’t understand the difference between facts and values, which is why you use value-based arguments to negate claims about facts.

        • Aziz

          Anant wrote:

          “You are mixing up questions of fact and questions of value again. For argument’s sake, suppose I accept that the scientists’ discoveries are responsible for the “demonic realm” (whatever that means). Would that invalidate the discoveries of science?

          I think I have already ask you to be more precise. Give me something to shew on. You keep talking of your deity with a majuscule S and saying -it’s “pure”. Well, if I have nothing to confront, you can keep going like that for ever, accusing me of “mixing”.
          First of al, let me clarify something, are you a vaisnava? I mean, are you acquainted with the argument of the scriptures and the acaryas?

          • Anant

            I think I have already ask you to be more precise. Give me something to shew on. Well, if I have nothing to confront, you can keep going like that for ever, accusing me of “mixing”.

            I already did in a post to which you did not even respond. I’m copying it again here –

            You’re going on criticizing the bad effects that science-driven technology has had on the environment, etc, but what does any of this have to do with the truth of scientific facts? Just because a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki and killed many innocent people, you are going to deny that there is such a thing as nuclear fission? Because Hitler exploited the idea of an “Aryan race”, you are going to say Aryan immigration is false? Because satellites are in danger of falling on earth, you are going to deny what those satellites reveal about the universe? What is your point in going on and on about the problems created by technology or individuals? What bearing does it have on scientific truths? This is what I meant when I said that traditionalists often have to idea about what it is they’re criticizing and they confuse science with the engineering and technological applications, instead of looking at the implications on philosophy. You can imagine a monster scientist who does all the evil things in your dictionary, but as long as he accurately follows the methods of science, his evil nature has no bearing on the truth of his findings. To dispute the truth of his findings, you need arguments against the method he used, not vilification of his evil nature. As long as you go on confusing facts and values, and pragmatic applications from theoretical findings, you’re not even raising any proper arguments against the findings.

            First of al, let me clarify something, are you a vaisnava? I mean, are you acquainted with the argument of the scriptures and the acaryas?

            Yes, I am reasonably familiar with the arguments in at least two of the Vaishnava traditions, and I have done a first hand study of many Sanskrit commentaries on Bhagavad Gita and some of the Upanishads, and have heard over many years pravachanas on Bhagavatam, Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as some other miscellaneous works written within two of the traditions. I have also studied some advaita works.

          • Aziz

            Anant wrote:

            I already did in a post to which you did not even respond. I’m copying it again here –

            Please I am asking you to be more precise. In the text you send there is nothing on science and the so-called wonderful achievements you believe in…

            You still have a Reply to this comment » by which I will be more aware of you understanding of the whole thing.

      • Aziz

        Aziz-ji… you ask about the authority of science. For me personally the authority of science is in practical effects it produces, and in the quality of answers it provides to our essential questions.

        But a part from “authority”, what are “the practical effects it produces” that you like from science? And what are your “essential questions”, the ones which provide answers to you? I am curious.

        Thus for me it is not unlike the Vaishnava spirituality that I practice. My expectations of both are thus of practical nature, …

        My English is too poor to understand for sure what you mean by that.

        It is not science which is responsible for destruction and pollution – it is people and only people who are responsible for these things.

        There is no Science working by Itself… People are always behind the scene, behind the microscope, and inventing. It is always someone. I don’t understand what you mean, although I always refute these same arguments used by religious people, Muslims mainly, when they pretend that it is not Islam who is conducting their adepts to be intolerant and violent, but bad people who are acting in a garb of Muslims. Islam is a religion of love, of peace, they say.
        I would like to add that science is not such an extraordinary matter that it is “all pure”. What I said in the beginning has to be also applied to the concept of science, namely the three gunas. Then you will agree that there is three kind of sciences, if I can say it this way, ignorance, passion and goodness. By now you understand that I am not against science, I hope. Was Srila Prabhupada against science? Against low-class science, yes! What is a use of going on the Moon? You said that it is not the scientists who are polluting the environment, but ignorant people… Don’t tell me that those who go in space are not scientists but ignorant people. For this one, I will take their side; it not them who are polluting space to the point that a gentleman will not go there anymore for a ride: it is very dangerous. It is full of metal garbage. Plus, it is not their fault if the last month a huge mass of metals, a satellite…, fall down on earth, without killing anybody. Scientists, who are doing all these foolish things, didn’t know where he was going to end up, exactly. Statistically they figure out that since the surface of the earth was a lot of water, unless a bad luck, it will fall down in the sea. You say they didn’t pollute mother Earth. I said they are doing it and they are polluting outer space; it is already a mess. Now you are putting the blame on the people! Just like farmers. They are using pesticides or modified seeds, and when the consumers are suffering from the bad effects, we say it is the poor farmer because he did not applied his discrimination. It is wrong. The farmers love their land. They want to give it to their kids. It is those in laboratories who are forcing them. Scientists are working for them, for les magnats de la finance. This is the hardcore of science. Medicine, drugs, vaccine, this huge industry, helped by the other greedy one, who controls the farmers and all the seeds of the world, out of space programs, are going on because they are men and women doing the work (woman are playing more and more a great role), they are greedy, the dream of these demons is to realize things by using humanity as a giant laboratory and make their experiences. Amongst the community of scientists this had happened in the past and it is going on now. And you are telling me that scientists are not the main responsibles for all these foolishness?

        • Kula-pavana

          Let me ask you a question: What science had to do with 2000 years of inter-religious wars, religious persecution, and religion sponsored conquests all over the world? Should we abolish religion because of that? You can look at science in the same way if you desire to be objective.

        • Anant

          You say they didn’t pollute mother Earth. I said they are doing it and they are polluting outer space; it is already a mess.

          Dear Aziz,

          I don’t understand the nature of your argument. You’re going on criticizing the bad effects that science-driven technology has had on the environment, etc, but what does any of this have to do with the truth of scientific facts? Just because a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki and killed many innocent people, you are going to deny that there is such a thing as nuclear fission? Because Hitler exploited the idea of an “Aryan race”, you are going to say Aryan immigration is false? Because satellites are in danger of falling on earth, you are going to deny what those satellites reveal about the universe? What is your point in going on and on about the problems created by technology or individuals? What bearing does it have on scientific truths? This is what I meant when I said that traditionalists often have to idea about what it is they’re criticizing and they confuse science with the engineering and technological applications, instead of looking at the implications on philosophy. You can imagine a monster scientist who does all the evil things in your dictionary, but as long as he accurately follows the methods of science, his evil nature has no bearing on the truth of his findings. To dispute the truth of his findings, you need arguments against the method he used, not vilification of his evil nature. As long as you go on confusing facts and values, and pragmatic applications from theoretical findings, you’re not even raising any proper arguments against the findings.

    • Narada-kunda dasi

      Hare Krishna. I would like to express my support to the faithful and courageous devotees. As well as sadness and astonishment at the way they are being ridiculed and dismissed…

      The real essence, like somebody did mention, is the result of the scientific regime: a society robbed of any higher purpose or meaning than gross bodily exploitation.

      There are many highly conscious souls on this planet who are aware of the agenda behind all kinds of misleading information, which entraps the mind and intelligence in extremely narrow parameters — blinding them to common sense and most importantly, FEELINGS.

      I am not interested in any kind of debate with proponents of modern science. I hope the time will come when they will notice a different dimension than the one they currently believe in… The world of real life, spiritual inspiration, culture, meaning, and lack of egoism, where the intellect is not a burdensome master but a servant. Congratulations to those who are already there!

      hari om

      • Kula-pavana

        If there is anything that blinds people to common sense in this world it is a simplistic dogmatic religion. And religious fanaticism is also a feeling, responsible for more crimes against humanity than any other single factor I can think of.

        Yes, it is OK for devotees to ridicule and dismiss the scientific method and science while using computers, internet, and everything else created by the scientists. But it is not OK to ridicule and dismiss hypocrisy, ignorance, disregard for facts, and lack of logic among the devotees. That is called ‘extreme bias’.

        • Naturalism, in as much as it is flawed by preformative contradiction, blinds one from common sense as much or more than religion does! A preformative contradiction is an instance when a claim is at odds with the presuppositions or implications of the act of claiming it. Such is the denial of a causal role to consciousness, for the very act of denying requires consciousness. David Ray Griffin makes the following observation:

          Three of our (hard-core) commonsense beliefs are our presuppositions (1) that we have conscious experience, (2) that this conscious experience, while influenced by our bodies, is not wholly determined thereby but involves an element of self-determining freedom, and (3) that this partially free experience exerts efficacy upon our bodily behavior, giving us a degree of responsibility for our bodily actions.

          Griffin distinguishes hard core beliefs from soft-core beliefs. Hard-core convictions cannot be denied without self contradiction. Such hard-core beliefs are universal in human society and are differentiated from soft-core common sense beliefs in that soft-core sensibilities “are not common to all peoples and can be denied without self-contradiction.” Any number of superstitions once held by however many people are soft-core beliefs, a kind of common sense that observation later demonstrates to be false.

          Griffin further defines hardcore beliefs thus.

          “[Hard-core beliefs are those that] we all presuppose in practice, even if we deny them verbally. Denying them verbally involves self-contradiction, because we are implicitly affirming something that we are explicitly denying.”

          The above three hard core beliefs are common to everyone, be they spiritual or materialistic in their worldview. A worldview that denies them is illogical and contradictory. They are beliefs that we all presuppose in practice, and thus to verbally deny their validity is self contradictory. One cannot implicity affirm something that one explicitly denies. These three beliefs are as old as humanity, but unlike other beliefs of old they are not superstitious. No form of today’s naturalism embraces all three of the above common sense sensibilities.

          Of course one could argue that naturalism is itself a religion, to which I would not object.

          Note that here I define naturalism as the belief thought to be based on observable evidence that the natural universe is a closed system and that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate within it.

          • Kula-pavana

            Maharaja, is there anybody here who seems to promote naturalism as defined by you?
            In the general sense naturalism is the same quest for truth and understanding that has led us to embrace Vaishnavism.
            The reason most naturalists reject religion is because religions tend to be dogmatic, close minded, and opposing rationality. These are also the reasons I rejected Catholicism, religion in which I was brought up.
            I would say that naturalism can be made to evolve higher – all we need to do is provide these people with a genuine experience of their own spirituality. That is so much better than dry philosophical arguments.

          • I think that Aziz and Ritesh may have identified naturalism with science, as indeed many people today do. This interpretation of scientific data has caused havoc on earth, the likes of which they have referred to. I agree with you that many embrace naturalism for the reasons you mention, but this misses the heart of religion altogether. And we as Vaisnavas reject dogmatism, etc. as well while embracing the supernatural. I would also argue that the examples set by mystics is the most compelling evidence for supernaturalism.

          • Anant

            Note that here I define naturalism as the belief thought to be based on observable evidence that the natural universe is a closed system and that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural ones) operate within it.

            The natural-supernatural distinction itself is not so easy to make. When the idea of action at a distance was proposed (e.g, via gravitational forces), that sounded like supernaturalism to many, because the idea then was that forces can only be exerted via contact. Maybe something that sounds supernatural today won’t be considered supernatural tomorrow.

            Having said that, naturalism can be methodological or philosophical. Science uses methodological naturalism, but many people carry it to philosophical naturalism. The other problem is that even methodological naturalism leads to conclusions about matters of fact that contradict statements found in the scriptures (e.g, on the evolutionary history of life on earth) which raises questions about the fallibility of scriptures.

          • The natural-supernatural distinction itself is not so easy to make. When the idea of action at a distance was proposed (e.g, via gravitational forces), that sounded like supernaturalism to many, because the idea then was that forces can only be exerted via contact. Maybe something that sounds supernatural today won’t be considered supernatural tomorrow.

            That seems very doubtful with regard to metaphysical naturalism’s position on consciousness vs the argument for consciousness being supernatural. And to be fair, it is hard for most people to distinguish between metaphysical naturalism and methodological naturalism given the propaganda. Indeed, in some institutions it may be hard to keep a job if one makes the distinction. But there are some scientists engaged in methodological naturalism that reach supernatural conclusions about the nature of the world.

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          Amen to that, Kula-pavanaji. I wrote these very same things to another poster, but unsurprisingly, he has ignored my arguments and not addressed them in any measure whatsoever.

        • Aziz

          Yes, it is OK for devotees to ridicule and dismiss the scientific method and science while using computers, internet, and everything else created by the scientists. But it is not OK to ridicule and dismiss hypocrisy, ignorance, disregard for facts, and lack of logic among the devotees. That is called ‘extreme bias’

          What a strange reaction, to say the less. Since when scientists agree to listen criticisms of their plans or theories? Go to a forum and try to tell them, for example, that it is ridiculous to bombard the surface of the moon to see if there is water there!?! You don’t think that the one’s who are mocked on (not criticized, which would be a honor for them) since 2000 years!!! Now, devotees, on the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada, are denouncing this infernal materialism and you are telling them to shut off their mouth in a kind of intimidation! Your argument sounds like Gandhi telling his folks that they should not use violence against demons, because violence is not good. He even wrote a letter to Hitler in that purpose. Romain Rolland and the like, in France, have created a movement based on pacifism against Germany who was showing very aggressive signs of war. You know what’s followed. We are using computer not to chat with the opposite sex (or the same), neither to play games, or whaterver. But your mind has difficulties to realise why we are using computers… Your argument is quite poor. I heard it already a few times here, but it is frankly unworthy of a person who is supposed to be familiar with SP’s Books. There, many times, he has explain why he was using modern technologies.

          • Aziz

            Sorry, I wanted to say: You don’t think that we are the one’s who are mocked on (not criticized, which would be a honor for them) since 2000 years!!!

          • Kula-pavana

            Aziz, how familiar are you really with science? You say: “Since when scientists agree to listen criticisms of their plans or theories?” What on earth are you talking about? The criticism and critical review in science happens ALL THE TIME! That is how science advances. But such criticism has to based on facts (evidence), reason and logic. Otherwise it is nothing but an emotional outburst of personal likes and dislikes.
            Oh, I understand very well WHY you are using the BENEFITS of science. What I don’t understand is how can you claim with a straight face that people who gave you all this stuff are idiots. People like you are all talk: you denounce science but grab it’s benefits, you denounce current society but are unable to come up with a practical alternative even for the members of your own church, you denounce materialism but the so called spirituality you propose is nothing more than dogmatic religious fundamentalism which has nothing to do with real spirituality. And that is why so few people these days are interested in the type of religion you promote.
            You are eager to criticize others but you refuse to see the faults with your own approach. Yes, that is extreme bias.

      • Anant

        The real essence, like somebody did mention, is the result of the scientific regime: a society robbed of any higher purpose or meaning than gross bodily exploitation.

        I’m not sure why science has to be blamed for ‘gross bodily exploitation’. Science deals with facts, not with values, and the loss of values is a problem with the educational system, not with science. People have to be educated in both questions of fact and questions of value. Science does not offer normative advice on how society should behave.

  • Aziz

    I forgot to answer this important question: if memory, a person argued,is decreasing, therefore, Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, was not as great as Bhakitivinod Thakur… Although it is a very sensitive subject to talk here, I will answer without hesitation, yes; there is a huge difference between them. And the proof, the demonstration lies in the result. Don’t we say that a tree is judged by the fruits he gives?

    • Gaura-Vijaya

      So memory is declining, so we should be accepting BVT’s Krsna Samhita more than Prabhupada’s books. What do you think?

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    There is much evidence, Aziz, that testifies in favour of the introduction of Sanskrit to the subcontinent by Europoid migrants (if you don’t want to refer to them as invaders). More importantly, genetic studies conducted over the past decade or so have in large measure corroborated the notion that Vedism was originally brought to South Asia by non-autochthons hailing from further West and North. In a nutshell, these studies show that, in Indian populations, the higher castes such as the Brahmins and Rajputs are genetically, and in many cases, phenotypically, more closely related to Central Asians and Eastern Europeans than they are to the very lowest castes. If that interests you, try going through the following abstract (I’m not sure if the full paper is already available, and even if it were, it would surely not be free):

    http://www.harappadna.org/2011/09/aniasi-admixture-dating/

    ‘Estimating a date of mixture of ancestral South Asian populations.

    Linguistic and genetic studies have shown that most Indian groups have ancestry from two genetically divergent populations, Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI). However, the date of mixture still remains unknown. We analyze genome-wide data from about 60 South Asian groups using a newly developed method that utilizes information related to admixture linkage disequilibrium to estimate mixture dates. Our analyses suggest that major ANI-ASI mixture occurred in the ancestors of both northern and southern Indians 1,200-3,500 years ago, overlapping the time when Indo-European languages first began to be spoken in the subcontinent. These results suggest that this formative period of Indian history was accompanied by mixtures between two highly diverged populations, although our results do not rule other, older ANI-ASI admixture events. A cultural shift subsequently led to widespread endogamy, which decreased the rate of additional population mixtures.’

    This is of course just one such study, and it basically blasts to smithereens much of the putative quasi-historical stuff contained in the Puranas and Itihasas.

    One last point I’d like to make, prior to bowing out of this exchange, concerns your overarching gripe with the modern scientific method, and let me make it known that my intention in responding to your post is not in any way an attempt to change your mind. That is not why I’m here for. According to you, science is not worth the time and effort because its practitioners are either non-theists or else influenced, in some aberrant mode, by the Abrahamic religions, which to you, are a complete no-no. Funnily, you have no qualms using the technology created by these same ‘demons’ to air your views on Harmonist, and you also do not mind driving cars or boarding trains and aircrafts constructed by them in order to move around, locally and otherwise. Likewise, I’d bet my all that if, God forbid, you were to experience some health problem someday, the first person you’d be running to would be a physician! Therefore, despite the undoubted nefarious impact on our world of some of the technological fruits of science, I believe that the above examples demonstrate in crystal clear terms the immense value of scientific research, in and of itself, including that of the numerous applications of it.

    • I do not believe that the Arayan Invasion theory is accepted as conclusive in academia. As I recall, there are problems with it. See Edwin Bryant’s work on this. But I have not followed it closely.

      • Gaura-Vijaya

        I don’t think many people accept that there was an invasion anymore. The question is whether the original homeland was actual in present day India or in other place and that is not known as of now and evidence for the original homeland being in India is not that strong. http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~edbryant/works/kaznas_sanm.pdf This is Bryant’s article on this topic where he points out the deficiencies with the traditional Indian nationalist view-point and the uncertainties involved.

        • Gaura-Vijaya

          Edwin Bryant, an associate professor of religion at Rutgers University and the author of two books on the Aryan invasion, went to the heart of either argument in his presentation of the “Intellectual History of the Debate.”
          The issue was one of the most hotly contested debates throughout the 1990s. “The debate has died down in Western academic circles somewhat recently, not because it has necessarily been resolved decisively in the minds of everyone, but in part because scholars became exhausted with the polemical and emotional tenor of the discussion and the missionary zeal which the opposing views were pursued,” he stated. Obviously, if we start with pre-decided axioms and we defend them at any cost, polemical debates will arise. I think there are much more uncertainties involved in this debate than the basic theories of physics (obviously they also break down as we keep on expanding our view).

          Read more: http://news.iskcon.com/node/2066#ixzz1abrB6D87

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    A final word, dear Aziz – academics do not hold that Aryans entered India from the Mongolian steppes, but they argue, on the basis of available evidence, that the forefathers of the authors of the Vedas originated from somewhere in southern Russia, very possibly in the environs of the Caspian Sea.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    True, AIT in its older configuration, as theorised by Max Muller and other early Indologists, is, to all intents and purposes, dead. However, most current luminaries accept that there have been at least a few waves of migration to and from the subcontinent. The linguistic hegemony of Indo-European languages over such a vast portion of Eurasia – from India to Iceland, suggests that Indo-European tribes had to have originated from somewhere in that large region and gone on to people the rest of it. The known historical population movements from the Indian subcontinent westwards, such as those of the ancestors of the modern Gypsies, simply do not suffice to account for the wide predominance of this specific language family. Hence, there is not much evidence to argue for an Out-of-India hypothesis, and more such evidence, direct and not so direct, for the ancient Aryans having arrived, in India and elsewhere, from a point of origin not far-removed from the Caucasus region.

    As also mentioned, this remains the most parsimonious explanation for the ethnic and cultural diversity observed in present-day Indians with, for example, a good number of caste Hindus evincing unmistakable phenotypic similarities with Western Eurasians, whilst evidently diverging, racially speaking, from the compatriots of theirs that one encounters as one moves southwards geographically, and downwards, relative to the caste system. The academic work afore-linked in my previous comment, and others of its kind, show that this is supported on a genetic level.

    • Ritesh

      This migration theory is nothing but the old invasion theory in a new garb. There is no clinching evidence for any migration/invasion theory, and it is astonishing that this point continues to be considered even in the face of the fact that Rig Veda, which has been used for analysis in realm of Aryan origin theories, does not mention a migration or a invasion! The landscape which is described in the Vedas, corresponds much with what we term as Indus Valley civilization.

      Apart from this, there are many other genetic studies done which establish the indigenous origins of Aryans, and point to no-genetic differences between the “high”-caste and “low”-caste inhabitants – I will post the details later here. Most of these studies are covered in Rajiv Malhotra’s Breaking India – it should suffice to say that a European or a Central Asia origin model for Aryans is highly contested. Apart from this, Michel Danino’s master book “The Lost River” establishes many similarities between the Indus Valley Harappa Civilization and the Vedic civilization based in the Ganges Valley.

      Archeologically, there is really scanty evidence for migration – what we have instead a myriad of explanations, which are really speculations – so no one should go out and pronounce a verdict that “Aryans” originated somewhere in “Central Asia”.

      Please check this link by Elst questioning the current Aryan invasion/migration models – http://voiceofdharma.org/books/ait/

    • Ritesh

      True, AIT in its older configuration, as theorised by Max Muller and other early Indologists, is, to all intents and purposes, dead

      Max Muller’s dating of Rig-Veda to 1200 BC is still used in academic circles – inspire of the fact that Max himself admitted that it was pure speculation – and irrespective of other discoveries the date assigned to Rig Veda compositions remains unchanged – even in face of a earlier dating proposed by Tilak(based on Nakshatras) and the Sulbhasutra texts. Those who talk about bias being missing in science, or more so in the Aryan studies are highly mistaken – because even in face of mounting evidence against their irreconcilable claims – they refuse to give their own positions up.

      The reason? Scholars cannot accommodate a 5,000 year old or even 10,000 year old Rig – Veda, subtly they still cling and try to place all civilization after the “Biblical Floods” of 40004 BC. The quote above is extremely uninformed.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        You clearly haven’t grasped what I meant by that. Anyway, I’ve responded to you in another post. Have a look there.

      • Aziz

        The reason? Scholars cannot accommodate a 5,000 year old or even 10,000 year old Rig – Veda, subtly they still cling and try to place all civilization after the “Biblical Floods” of 40004 BC. The quote above is extremely uninformed.

        Exact! And from that all the teaching about this part of the world was reduced to an inferior status. Few months ago, I visited India and met with university students; they were intoxicated with western views. For them, Vedic science was just keeping India in old age. Brahmo samaj has done a good work on their mind. I think that was the last time i will visit this country which brought me so much happiness in the past. Now, pollution, filthiness, modernism and tourism de luxe has taken over my cherish places I used to frequent from during the 70s. Times are changing, was singing Bob Dylan.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    All the people you cite, Ritesh, barring Elst, are well-known Hindu nationalists, not especially known for their objectivity. I am also well aware of the other studies that supposedly demonstrate little or no genetic divergence between high and low castes. Other than blatantly contradicting the factual reality of modern India that simple observational skills readily present to everybody, many/most of these papers have been critiqued for being rather poorly sampled, with the statistical methodologies utilised therein rated as less than satisfactorily foolproof. For my part, I’d rather trust what someone like David Reich wrote in Nature than accord undue weight to the finds of surveys that find mention in publications like the Times of India more than they do in international scientific journals.

    Whilst the work of Koenraad Elst is to be admired on a number of levels, it is not unadulteratedly blemishless. He too, has had to contend with his fair share of founded criticisms. Besides, whereas he no doubt castigates those scholars who hold on to anachronisms in the evidence used to propound AIT/AMT, he has, on a number of occasions, similarly slammed native Indian researchers for not being as impartial and unbiased as would ideally have been warranted by their academic positions. So things are far from being as obvious as you want to make them out to be.

    I could give many more references, but for a start, I reckon that these are good articles to begin with:

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2009/09/560k-snp-study-reveals-dual-rigin-of.html
    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/05/beware-of-sample-sizes-why-ancestral.html

    For your benefit, let me reproduce a part of what can be read at one of the URLs, just in case you’re short on time.

    The paper does demolish some theories that have been popular in some circles:

    There is no evidence of caste as simply social division of labor. This thesis is inconsistent with differential ANI admixture (and distance from Western Eurasians) across the caste hierarchy.

    There is no evidence that Indo-Aryan and Dravidian speakers differ only in language. It is now clear that they are different from each other genetically as well, and this difference is not an “internal affair” of India, but is related to populations outside it. Indo-Aryan speakers differ precisely in having a larger ANI component.

    There is no evidence that Indo-European languages originated in India. Let us consider what this would entail:
    Suppose postulated ancient Indian PIE speakers had a similar genetic makeup as modern Indians (i.e., a mix of ANI and ASI). Then, the absence of the ASI component outside South Asia cannot be explained.
    If ancient Indian PIE speakers had a purely ANI makeup, then the absence of the ASI component outside South Asia -as in (1)- can be explained. However, this would entail that sharply differentiated populations (ANI and ASI) co-existed in India without mixing for thousands of years; ANI-like PIEs spread from India with their languages; ANI and ASI admixed afterwards. To say that this scenario is not parsimonious would be charitable.
    The only way in which PIE languages may have originated in India would be if they spread without the spread of people. However, before the advent of writing and modern means of transportation and communication, the only way to spread languages was by migration of people.
    From a related Nature story:
    The researchers also found that Indian populations were much more highly subdivided than European populations. But whereas European ancestry is mostly carved up by geography, Indian segregation was driven largely by caste. “There are populations that have lived in the same town and same village for thousands of years without exchanging genes,” says Reich.

    Also see the following article: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090923/full/news.2009.935.html

    It merits some serious pondering over, in my view anyway.

    • Robotmule

      If you want to derive actual benefit from what the Vedas claims to offer, then you should maybe humbly investigate its prime ontology. Read the Srimad Bhagavatam and experience its depth of knowledge. Read Srila Prabuphada’s purports. That’s the point.

      The different language (Sanskrit) denotes a different logic system, therefore it is ultra-important to understand key concepts such as :

      1.Prakriti/Purusa
      2.Maya
      3.Brahman
      4.Atman/Paramatma
      5.Jiva
      6.The Yugas
      5.The 3 Gunas
      6.Karma
      7.Jnana etc…….

      As an intellectual, if you don’t go to the root implication of the word and recognize its “omni-presence” in your own reality, then you will remain in infinite regress as to the entire purpose of the culture. With these building blocks of understanding, you can build a tower that might take you up to the understanding of why Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead for real, and why “we” have a specific view towards how material knowledge is always subject to change and only scratching the surface.

      Even if people “evolved” from apish men, it still doesn’t change the transcendental vocabulary. Even if “we” were algae living on a young volcanic earth – No Change to Prakriti/Purusa, Gunas, Jiva, Paramatma etc…… Just change on a material planet as itself grows. The final point is that your body comes from the Earth, not your “seer”. You are only here for a short time, so who cares what goes on here with people who are under the impression that this is all they ever have. Its a mis-take, on the grander spiritual scale.

      Everyone is shooting arrows into deep dark lakes, trying to hit a little fish on the forehead. Focus on the present implications of the knowledge. Past is Maya, and so is Future. Its a mist.

      Thanks (for not reading)

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        Read the Srimad Bhagavatam and experience its depth of knowledge. Read Srila Prabuphada’s purports.

        Been there, done that, and not once.

        • Robotmule

          – Been there, done that and not once could I comprehend it. –

          Sorry, I just had to finish your sentence for you there.

          Hugs
          Robotmule

    • Ritesh

      All the people you cite, Ritesh, barring Elst, are well-known Hindu nationalists, not especially known for their objectivity.

      The quote you make here itself demonstrates that you haven’t bothered to even look at the people whose arguments I have utilized here. Michel Danino’s book is not short on facts, and neither is Rajiv Malhotra’s Breaking India. And for all that I know, they are ardent champions of India’s culture, they are not “Hindu nationalists” as you have mentioned. And I have not seen their enthusiasm for culture,biasing their arguments towards a pre-determined conclusion(unlike you). Before you judge someone’s objectivity, it would be better to go through the material they have written, rather than the invoke the opinions of “biased” experts.

      I am also well aware of the other studies that supposedly demonstrate little or no genetic divergence between high and low castes.

      The readers of Harmonist may not be aware,so I will take the pain of presenting them here.
      In 2006, a major genetic study of the Indian population was taken up by a team of twelve scientists, among them, National DNA Analysus Centre, Central Forensic Science Laboratory, India and National Institute of Biologicals. This study produced results which contradicted Bamshad study of 2001(which supposedly gave scientific proof for racial division of caste), but for some reasons did not receive much publicity. The results consistently suggested a largely south Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India.
      This was followed by yet another research paper published in The American Journal of Human Genetics. Among the institutions participating in this project were Department of Genetics, Stanford University and Human Genetics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, India. This study was also not charitable towards the much publicized Bamshad studies and similar works. It refuted the Aryan invasion/migration model and also exposed as a falsehood the idea that Dravidians were pushed from the Indus Valley by invading Aryans into peninsular India.
      Referring to the Bamshad study of 2001, it said that study had been “framed” in the context of the contemporary social hierarchy and/or linguistic fabric of various groups. It alleged that the Bamshad study suffered from 2 major errors – ethnically ill-defined population, limited geographic sampling, inadequate molecular resolution, and inappropriate statistical methods.

      Other than blatantly contradicting the factual reality of modern India that simple observational skills readily present to everybody,

      Genetic diversity of Indian population is one thing, but it quite another thing to divide in into different races, which is what implicitly being suggested here. And “simple” observation skills suggest that there is lot of speculation and biased interpretation clouding this issue. How can a conclusion be drawn, a conclusion which contradicts common sense?

      I could give many more references, but for a start, I reckon that these are good articles to begin with:

      I have gone through the references you have provided, and as you can see too, the results are not easily accepted as you would want them to be.
      In fact, one of the authors of the paper you mentioned above, categorically rejected linking caste to genetic diversity. Thangaraj Kumaraswamy said that “while the study no doubt shows the the populations are genetically structured, which suggest that they practice endogamy for thousands of years. Every population is genetically unique, but we cannot assign genetic information to differentiate whether he/she belongs to higher/lower caste. As one is aware, Jati/caste has been introduced very recently”.
      So genetic diversity is not automatically equal to caste differentiation as you make it out to be. And definitely not caste based discrimination, as the authors implicitly suggest it out to be.
      This Aryan migration/invasion theory is a potent weapon of division since it identified Brahmanas and other castes as “foreigner” and reduces Vedic culture to an imported one.And despite evidences against it, it is still taught in school textbooks(without discussing any other alternative model) as the gospel truth – based on text books written by historians following Marxist historiography, of which Romilla Thapar is an esteemed members,whom you liberally quote below. I will also respond to it later.
      Another consequence of this theory is the myth of separate Dravidian identity and culture. South Indian is a land imbued with Vedic and Puranic elements, and now where in Sangam literature do we find a hint of cultural clash with the North or with Vedic culture. Quite the contrary, we find the Vedas and the recitation of the Vedic mantras praised from the earliest layers of this literature;Vedic gods and all major gods of the Classical Hindu pantheon figure in Tamil poems and epics, along with many concepts and legends drawn from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Numismatic evidence supports this integration as well. Now-where can we spot a separate “Dravidian” culture, much less “civilization”. However, Christian missionaries, and aggressive evangelists use the results of such studies, twist them and claim that Hinduism was “imposed” upon India’s tribes. In fact, most of the research and evidence in this area of Aryan migration/invasion was done by colonial scholars and aggressive evangelists – while the former loathed against any attempt to place a Aryan homeland in India – the latter whipped up and assigned a separate identity to different tribes in India, ostensibly to aid in their evangelism. This is being done even now, and the end result is that people are being forced to part with their cultural traditions, in the name of embracing their “original identity”.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        The quote you make here itself demonstrates that you haven’t bothered to even look at the people whose arguments I have utilized here. Michel Danino’s book is not short on facts, and neither is Rajiv Malhotra’s Breaking India. And for all that I know, they are ardent champions of India’s culture, they are not “Hindu nationalists” as you have mentioned. And I have not seen their enthusiasm for culture,biasing their arguments towards a pre-determined conclusion(unlike you). Before you judge someone’s objectivity, it would be better to go through the material they have written, rather than the invoke the opinions of “biased” experts.

        How about this? I am as familiar as you are with the works of these people, as a few years ago, my views were nearly identical to your present ones (and to my dear friend Robotmule’s for that matter); not just that, I myself used to quote them all ad nauseam. But things change, and I’ve become far more conservative and cautious, from an intellectual point of view, since. At any rate, I try to adopt as rational-minded a view as possible on this and other issues I bother to concern myself with. As per the standards I now make use of, the terming of these writers as ‘Hindu nationalists’ stands good. Rajiv Malhotra, by the way, was a more objective thinker a decade ago than he is today. As time goes by, I can see his position on nearly everything he comments about tilting towards to more traditionalist and simultaneously, chauvinistic, stance. You may disagree, but that is how I see things, and when I comment, I’m speaking for myself alone, it goes without saying.

        The readers of Harmonist may not be aware,so I will take the pain of presenting them here.
        In 2006, a major genetic study of the Indian population was taken up by a team of twelve scientists, among them, National DNA Analysus Centre, Central Forensic Science Laboratory, India and National Institute of Biologicals. This study produced results which contradicted Bamshad study of 2001(which supposedly gave scientific proof for racial division of caste), but for some reasons did not receive much publicity. The results consistently suggested a largely south Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India.
        This was followed by yet another research paper published in The American Journal of Human Genetics. Among the institutions participating in this project were Department of Genetics, Stanford University and Human Genetics Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, India. This study was also not charitable towards the much publicized Bamshad studies and similar works. It refuted the Aryan invasion/migration model and also exposed as a falsehood the idea that Dravidians were pushed from the Indus Valley by invading Aryans into peninsular India.
        Referring to the Bamshad study of 2001, it said that study had been “framed” in the context of the contemporary social hierarchy and/or linguistic fabric of various groups. It alleged that the Bamshad study suffered from 2 major errors – ethnically ill-defined population, limited geographic sampling, inadequate molecular resolution, and inappropriate statistical methods.

        I’ve just presented to you a 2009 study on which an expert of the stature of David Reich commented, that was featured in Nature, and which supported the idea of substantial influxes in the Indian population from West and Central Asia, but to that, you had not a thing to say. More recent surveys show in quite unambiguous terms that present-day Indians are a hybridisation of what scientists now call Ancestral North Indians (ANI) and Ancestral South Indians (ASI). The former were closely related to West Asians and Europeans, whereas the latter group were most akin to the Onge tribals of the Andaman Islands. Of all peoples speaking an Indo-European tongue, Indians are the only ones to have an ASI component. Re-read Dienekes’ thoughtful cogitations on the implications of this fact, as I reproduced in one of my previous posts. His logical conclusions cannot be dismissed out-of-hand, unless one is labouring under a set of preconceptions that have a greater bearing on the visceral than on the cerebral, as looks to be the case here. More tellingly, the latest study to have come out on this, i.e. in 2011, reveals ‘that major ANI-ASI mixture occurred in the ancestors of both northern and southern Indians 1,200-3,500 years ago, overlapping the time when Indo-European languages first began to be spoken in the subcontinent.’

        If you want to disagree with this, then I’ll throw at you the same gauntlet which Kula-pavana had thrown at Aziz in regard to evolutionary theory – come up with a better, more parsimonious account, in this instance of how IE languages came to dominate an area as immense as the stretch of land that ranges from northern India to Iceland, on the one hand, and from Portugal to Russia, on the other.

        As one is aware, Jati/caste has been introduced very recently”

        Lemme guess, an invention of the Brits, right? Are you even aware of the episode from Adi Sankara’s time in Varanasi when he came face to face with a low-caste man, and would not budge until the latter had stepped aside, and made way for him to pass, the high-caste Brahmana that he was? Do you know that the Dharma Shastras and even some Puranas in many places discriminate between people on the basis of caste? Ok, the Puranas are relatively recent, but not ‘very recent,’ as you put it. At least, they antedate, for the major part, the Raj, as they do the two most ruthlessly perduring Muslim periods in India’s history, the Delhi Sultanate and the reign of the Mughals.

        This Aryan migration/invasion theory is a potent weapon of division since it identified Brahmanas and other castes as “foreigner” and reduces Vedic culture to an imported one.And despite evidences against it, it is still taught in school textbooks(without discussing any other alternative model) as the gospel truth – based on text books written by historians following Marxist historiography, of which Romilla Thapar is an esteemed members,whom you liberally quote below. I will also respond to it later.
        Another consequence of this theory is the myth of separate Dravidian identity and culture. South Indian is a land imbued with Vedic and Puranic elements, and now where in Sangam literature do we find a hint of cultural clash with the North or with Vedic culture. Quite the contrary, we find the Vedas and the recitation of the Vedic mantras praised from the earliest layers of this literature;Vedic gods and all major gods of the Classical Hindu pantheon figure in Tamil poems and epics, along with many concepts and legends drawn from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Numismatic evidence supports this integration as well. Now-where can we spot a separate “Dravidian” culture, much less “civilization”. However, Christian missionaries, and aggressive evangelists use the results of such studies, twist them and claim that Hinduism was “imposed” upon India’s tribes. In fact, most of the research and evidence in this area of Aryan migration/invasion was done by colonial scholars and aggressive evangelists – while the former loathed against any attempt to place a Aryan homeland in India – the latter whipped up and assigned a separate identity to different tribes in India, ostensibly to aid in their evangelism. This is being done even now, and the end result is that people are being forced to part with their cultural traditions, in the name of embracing their “original identity”.

        You truly remind me of myself some years back, boy. No, Ritesh, my love for India, its culture and its many and varied spiritual schools of thought are not in any way less than your obviously strong feelings for things Indian. Just so you know, I do not rule out the possibility that the ideas I currently have may be liable to rectifications at some point. In fact, that is constantly what tends to happen, as I do not think alike on some matters at this moment as I did yesterday or last week, for knowledge is ever-evolving. But the evidence I have come in contact with has compelled me to take the indigenous Aryans proposed alternative not with a pinch, but a spade of salt. Just tell me, on the majority of conceivable scores, what is common between Punjab and Tamil Nadu, between Kerala and Bihar, or between Gujarat and Manipur? Do the noted ethno-cultural and other divergences automatically entail an Aryan invasion? No. But they do clearly show that the Indians are not a genetically, culturally and linguistically homogeneous people. They equally suggest that elements and factors from varying sources and origins have contributed to building the modern Indian identity, as well as the various Hindu religious paths as we know them today.

        For your information, I also do not subscribe to the old story of Dravidians being subjugated and forced to move in a general southerly direction by Dolph Lundgren-looking invaders riding horse-drawn chariots. So, for you to keep harping on this is pointless really, and does not help your cause as it is emphatically not the horse I’m flogging. Nor is it a theory most contemporary luminaries in academia, Michael Witzel and Romila Thapar (the pet hates of Hindu extremists) included, swear by. However, that India has seen not-insignificant population movements from both the West and East cannot be gainsaid. No invasion as such is needed for that. This is why, broadly speaking, as one moves eastwards, the people begin to look more Mongoloid, whereas in the North Western states, one sees primarily Europid-looking Indians, except in the case of those situated near the bottom-most rung of the social ladder. In the South, save for the Brahmins and Kshatriyas, the indigenes are quite Australoid in appearance. You can conduct a simple web search on South Indian Brahmins like the Iyengars and Iyers to know that, for the major part, these people regard themselves as migrants to the South from the north-western parts of the subcontinent. I have personally encountered Tamil Brahmins who viewed themselves as such. Academics think alike on the question, that I know of. Now, are you going to ridicule that as well and go by the fantastic Puranic account of Agastya Rsi starting the Tamil language single-handedly?

        Also, there is the abundant linguistic and philological evidence which cannot be relegated to the backseat lightly. Lastly, I doubt that such a fundamental issue can be resolved satisfactorily by a couple of non-specialist dilettantes like ourselves on a platform as this one. Still, if you wish to continue this debating exercise, I shall not desist from carrying it on.

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          Corrigendum:

          As time goes by, I can see his position on nearly everything he comments about tilting towards a more traditionalist and simultaneously, chauvinistic, stance.

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          I reckon that some additional light can be shed on the material above-cited with the finds of the very latest works carried out on Indian genetics. In the 2009 study that appeared in Nature, the analysis conducted by the researchers makes Reich write: “It is tempting to assume that the population ancestral to ANI [Ancestral North Indian] and CEU spoke ‘Proto-Indo-European’, which has been reconstructed as ancestral to both Sanskrit and European languages, although we cannot be certain without a date for ANI–ASI [Ancestral South Indian] mixture.”

          Following in sequence we have the 2011 paper authored by Moorjani et al, which apparently resolves the burning issue of dating the ANI-ASI admixture by placing it within a time frame of 1,200 to 3,500 years before present, coinciding with the introduction and gradual diffusion of Indo-European language and culture in India.

          http://www.ichg2011.org/abstracts/fulltext/index.shtml
          http://www.harappadna.org/2011/09/aniasi-admixture-dating/

          Now, yet another 2011 work, this time by the Russian researcher Stepanov and his colleagues, in a bid to map Y-DNA Haplogroup R1a1a (M17), especially the route via which it was originally diffused, postulates a probable Eastern European origin for R1a1. As Stepanov has it: “The age of the cluster admittedly brought to Hindustan from Central Asia / Southern Siberia is 3,9 +/- 1,3 ky. Probably, the primary center of the generation of diversity and expansion of R1a1a was the territory of the Eastern European Steppe. With the spread of of R1a1 carriers, secondary centers of genetic diversity and population expansions were formed in the Southern Siberia and Hindustan.”

          What is specifically of note here is the very similar timelines referenced in the two 2011 studies, i.e. 3,500 to 1,200 ago in the Moorjani paper and 3,900 to 1,300 years before now in Stepanov’s research. The logical inference would be that they are on to something here, as looks likely.

          • Ritesh

            More tellingly, the latest study to have come out on this, i.e. in 2011, reveals ‘that major ANI-ASI mixture occurred in the ancestors of both northern and southern Indians 1,200-3,500 years ago, overlapping the time when Indo-European languages first began to be spoken in the subcontinent.’

            A single genetic study cannot be taken to discount entire host of archaeological, literary and other evidence which favor Indigenous Aryan origins. Many major rival models of the origin of the Aryans co-exist despite extensive studies, each with associated genetic evidences.Michel Danino gives a good overview of them(till 2009) in here – http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/genetics-aryan-debate.html.

            To quote

            “Since the 1990s, there have been numerous genetic studies of Indian populations, often reaching apparently divergent conclusions. There are three reasons for this: (1) the Indian region happens to be one of the most diverse and complex in the world, which makes it difficult to interpret the data; (2) early studies relied on too limited samples, of the order of a few dozens, when hundreds or ideally thousands of samples are required for some statistical reliability; (3) some of the early studies fell into the old trap of trying to equate linguistic groups with distinct ethnic entities — a relic of the nineteenth-century erroneous identification between language and race; as a result, a genetic connection between North Indians and Central Asians was automatically taken to confirm an Aryan invasion in the second millennium BCE, disregarding a number of alternative explanations.7 ”

            “It is, of course, still possible to find genetic studies trying to interpret differences between North and South Indians or higher and lower castes within the invasionist framework, but that is simply because they take it for granted in the first place. None of the nine major studies quoted above lends any support to it, and none proposes to define a demarcation line between tribe and caste. The overall picture emerging from these studies is, first, an unequivocal rejection of a 3500-BP arrival of a “Caucasoid” or Central Asian gene pool. Just as the imaginary Aryan invasion / migration left no trace in Indian literature, in the archaeological and the anthropological record, it is invisible at the genetic level.”

            The luminaries you quote below have also voiced concern over the genetic studies being done.Even Romila Thapar(along with Shireen Ratnagar) who otherwise support versions of the Aryan migration theory, have voiced concern at the use of genetic studies in searching Aryans. Witzel himself has stated that genetic studies do not take into account the time-span of intermingling of populations. Yet you seem to accept it without qualms. Tell me,how can we draw a inference from genetic studies about migrations when we know in the last thousand years of Indian history,the Shakas, Hunas, Kushanas and so many other peoples from have invaded India and have settled down in this land?

            If you want to disagree with this, then I’ll throw at you the same gauntlet which Kula-pavana had thrown at Aziz in regard to evolutionary theory – come up with a better, more parsimonious account, in this instance of how IE languages came to dominate an area as immense as the stretch of land that ranges from northern India to Iceland, on the one hand, and from Portugal to Russia, on the other.

            Better, more parsimonious accounts exists, and I simply cannot believe why the Aryans would not have a reminiscence at least of a migration from a Central Asian region, nor are there any legends associated with the same. Compare it with Sarasvati. Apart from the numerous references to the river in the Rig-Veda, there are songs around the river, although the river itself doesn’t flow any more. Why is such a legend missing in case of a “migration”?

            Lemme guess, an invention of the Brits, right? Are you even aware of the episode from Adi Sankara’s time in Varanasi when he came face to face with a low-caste man, and would not budge until the latter had stepped aside, and made way for him to pass, the high-caste Brahmana that he was?

            Your posts and replies tend to place a disproportionate emphasis on caste, caste and caste again, and to make your point, you bring into focus this particular instance – related to the acharya, as if to diminish his greatness.
            I am indeed aware of that incident, but are you aware of what happened next? Here it is – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ewta7YJCmyw(A movie on Adi Shankara).

            Adi Shankara indeed asked him to move aside, but when the man pointed out the illusion underlying the supposed discrimination, Shankara went ahead and touched his feet,revered him as his guru, and composed five slokas at the spot! Every Sloka ends thus: “He who learnt to look on the phenomena in the light of Advaita is my true Guru, be he a Chandala or be he a Brahmin”. In my humble opinion, this indicates that at the end, transcendental knowledge, is the true indicator of a high position, and not birth. So much for your effort at trying to try incriminating him! Bringing this topic into the debate was wholly UN-necessary – yet you picked up a quote which was not made by me but one of the authors of the 2009 genetic study, and then commented on it at length. I observe that you tend to focus all the time on verifying the veracity of information that ancient texts present us, questioning traditions but do not focus on deeper truths from the Ithihas and the Puranas that illuminate and enrich, truths about our origin, identity, value and purpose.

          • Ritesh

            Nor is it a theory most contemporary luminaries in academia, Michael Witzel and Romila Thapar (the pet hates of Hindu extremists) included, swear by

            Witzel’s philological methods,which he utlizes in proving migration of the Aryans by ascribing meanings to Rig-Vedic Sanskrit, have been refuted at length by a host of scholars including Vishal Aggrawal, Elst and David Frawley. The best illustration of the methods employed by him can be found in a debate which he carried out with Rajaram, Jha, Frawley and Nagaswamy on the identification of Harappa Indus civilization with the Vedic civilization. A brief overview is here – http://www.hvk.org/articles/1002/1.html.

            Some links on the debate carried out in The Hindu – http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/op/2002/07/16/stories/2002071600070200.htm

            http://voiceofdharma.org/indology/ReplytoWitzel.html

            “The conclusions of Dr. Michael Witzel (Mar. 5) separating Harappan civilisation from the Vedic culture on the main ground that while horses were abundantly discussed in Rig Veda, there was no trace of them in Harappa, were contested by Dr. R. Nagaswamy, ex-director of Archaeology, Tamil Nadu (Mar. 12) on the contention that horses’ bones were found and were also subjected to carbon dating at Harappa. Dr. Witzel scoffed at this contending that as advised by his colleague at Harvard Dr. Meadows who was an archaeologist as also an Archaeozoologist, and certain other scientists, the bones could have been those of an onager, or a donkey’s or a camel’s or they might have found their way into the deposits due to erosions (May 21). Inter alia, Dr. Witzel ridiculed Kautilya and his popular work Arthasastra and also the Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India for having given respect to it.

            While this debate was going on, David Frawley of American Institute of Vedic studies had written (June 16) that the recent discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay, etc., proved that the image of samudra (ocean or sea) pervades throughout Rig Veda. He also supported Nagaswamy’s contention. He was surprised that in spite of material evidence such as the Saraswati river and also evidence of Vedic literature, certain Western scholars like Dr. Witzel still tried to separate Vedic culture from India and attribute it to an illiterate nomadic tribe coming from somewhere; and also smack at Indias antiquity even though Magasthenes recorded in around 300 B.C. that 153 Hindu kings ruled Bactria from 6400 years before Alexander.”

            In his article on June 25, Dr. Witzel strongly disputed Rigveda having any maritime knowledge. Sarcastically referring to Frawley’s assumed Hindu name of Vamadeva Shastri, Dr. Witzel accused him of bad philology and asserted that the correct Vedic interpretation of samudra was simply a collection of waters such as the confluence of rivers or ponds or the celestial waters (antariksha) but not sea or ocean.

            Reacting to the comments of Dr. Witzel of the 25th June, David Frawley defended his contention of maritime knowledge in Vedic times and suggested that the real reason behind Dr. Witzel’s statements was that maritime nature of Vedic culture refutes his interpretation of Rig Veda as a product of migrants from Central Asia. He further averred that if one interprets Pig-Veda in Witzel sense ignoring the obvious and logical meaning of terms, then there would be no telling of what the Vedas could be turned into.

            Witzel even added during the course of the debate that “some grammatical forms (of the Vedas) had disappeared which Panini or Sayana did not know. In the absence of the peer examination enunciated by him, the interpretations of Sayana, Max Muller, Aravindo, etc. and the traditional adhikari defence, are of no validity. Pre-posterous to say the least, and intellectual arrogance prompted by his supposed knowledge of Sanskrit – it was refuted in totality by V.Swaminathan of Guruvayoor Vidya Peeth(http://voiceofdharma.org/indology/philology.html).

            I can go on with evidence and facts showing how biased is Witzel in his approach towards this study; he vehemently denies any new discoveries contradicting his assumptions and extremely hostile attitude towards those questioning him. An instance can be found here – http://voiceofdharma.org/indology/philology.html. So much for his Sanskrit expertise.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        With respect to Ms Thapar, for someone who’s such a biased, evil, Hindu-hating monster, as you and many others like to make her out to be, she’s surprisingly critical of the educational system in which she herself operates here:

        Barring a few exceptions, early Indian history is still generally taught in many schools as it was half-a-century ago. Out-of-date textbooks, sometimes factually incorrect, written in a dull and plodding fashion, are used to smother students with boring information, chunks of which they are made to learn by heart and reproduce in examinations. There is little attempt to convey the idea that history is a process of gaining an understanding of the past and not a body of information to be memorised. No attempt is made to integrate the different activities that went into the making of the past, or to explain why there are differences in various parts of the country and how they came about. Even the differences in the nature of the societies of early times and of now are not discussed. The continuity between periods of time and the transmutation of ideas and institutions are absent. Distortions are sometimes not even noticed, leave alone being corrected. The results of modern research are not reflected because those authors of history textbooks who are not historians seldom consult historians or their work. The writing and prescribing of textbooks used to be a cottage industry; it has now become a factory system. One has therefore to ask where the profits go before the mess can be cleaned up.

        School teachers are frequently blamed for being badly trained, but the training is not of their choosing. My own experience in workshops involving school teachers is that they are eager to be up to date and to teach history as it should be taught, but are discouraged by the syllabus, often unintelligently formulated, and an examination system in which learning by rote and using bazaar notes is at a premium.

        There isn’t nearly enough attention given to setting right the way in which school education functions, even though it is recognised that this is the bedrock of each generation.

        Calling someone a Marxist with a sinister agenda is not going to achieve anything, much less impress anyone. I do not believe every word coming from her, or other scholars similar to her. However, that doesn’t render her entire work and career sans value. As much as it may jar you, let me make it clear that I shall keep quoting her where I see that she has a valid, reasoned point, which you shall be at liberty to consign to the bin for whatever reason.

        And the following gem that flew forth from the lady’s pen, or rather keyboard, I just loved.

        ‘In a sense, Indigenism is the other side of the coin of globalisation. In terms of its application to history, it attempts to invent a “tradition” and retain it as something essentially different from other cultures and societies, and to build an ideology on such a tradition. But it fails to provide a theory of historical explanation or a method of historical analysis. It frequently incorporates 19th century colonial historiography as part of its ideology, as for example, in retaining the Hindu, Muslim and British periodisation together with the colonial evaluation of the first two, and using this to try and negate the significance of the second period. Another example is the insistence on the Aryan roots of Indian civilisation, to such a degree that some are now arguing, in complete opposition to the evidence, that the Harappans were Vedic Aryans! This stems from a 19th century concern in Europe for Aryan origins, and its utilisation in explaining the beginnings of Indian history. This was essentially a political agenda as has also been the appropriation of the theory by Hindutva ideologues. There is a clinging in such circles, to the Aryan as a source of Indian identity. Indigenism takes the form of arguing that the Aryans were indigenous to India and spread from here to Europe, so that India can be regarded as the cradle of European civilisation as well.

        Because Indigenism is not a theory of historical explanation, it is used as and when required and quite arbitrarily to insist on history giving support to the premises of Hindutva ideology. A case in point was the debate over the Babri Masjid. The pretence at historicity was a new aspect of Hindutva ideology and was used to gull the public. It therefore required to be challenged by historians.

        Indigenism of this sort is intellectually and historiographically barren with no nuances or subtleties of thought and interpretation. It hammers away at a certain point of view which acts as a casual explanation for every historical event irrespective of whether it is relevant or not – characteristic of the use of history by totalitarian ideologies.’

        • Ritesh

          Correction

          He further averred that if one interprets Rig-Veda in Witzel sense ignoring the obvious and logical meaning of terms, then there would be no telling of what the Vedas could be turned into.

          • Ritesh,

            I think you have raised some good points regarding Witzel.

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            The problem is that Witzel is far, far, from being the only scholar who takes exception to an indigenist reading of the Rg Veda. As pointed out earlier, several academics who are strongly sympathetic to Hinduism disagree with the gloss the individuals cited by Ritesh argue in favour of.

            Otherwise, I’m still awaiting the promised de-bunking of the genetic evidence of Reich, Moorjani, and Stepanov, to name just these three, with respect to the recent-most studies quoted in previous comments.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            I think that the discussion on Witzel’s character and credibility sidetracks us from real difficulties that Anant had pointed out above. Whether the Vedas are 5000 years old or 10,000 years old and they were indigenous to Indian soul will not matter much if we assume that the first humans actually migrated from Africa say 250,000 years ago or so. Out of Africa theory is more empirically reliable with genetic, paleontological and climatic evidence converging together. There, it puts us in conflict with literal idea of yuga cycle and the idea that there were advanced human kingdoms in India millions of years ago. That to me is a much stronger issue to address than the issue of Aryan migration in 1500 BC.

        • Ritesh

          Calling someone a Marxist with a sinister agenda is not going to achieve anything, much less impress anyone. I do not believe every word coming from her, or other scholars similar to her. However, that doesn’t render her entire work and career sans value. As much as it may jar you, let me make it clear that I shall keep quoting her where I see that she has a valid, reasoned point, which you shall be at liberty to consign to the bin for whatever reason.

          Thapar is presented in the authoritative A Dictionary of the Marxist Thought as a Marxist historian in the dictionary entry for Hinduism. By following a Marxist mode of historiography, she has tried to analyze much of Indian history in terms of clan conflicts. Echoing Bishop Caldwell, G.U Pope and other colonial-era Christians, Thapar speaks of identifying a ‘substratum religion, doubtless associated with the rise of subaltern groups’. This merges the south Indian Dravidian separatism with much broader base of pan-Indian subaltern movements by giving them a respectable theory backed by prestigious Western institutions.

          Thapar analyzes many Hindu mythologies and traditions in terms of “clan-conflicts”. Hindu spiritual experiences are devalued as even pathological(She terms Chaitanya’s religious experience as a ‘strange hysterical trance’). She resorts to a quasi-scholarly speculation of racial hatred as exisitng in entire Indian traditions when she wonders, ‘as to whether the references to the rakshasa,the preta, and the daitya, demons and ghosts of various kinds, could have been a reference to the “alien people of the forest”(note the scholarly attempt at creating a disconnect). This is exactly the same thesis being used by Maoist insurgents working among remote tribes in central India, namely that the demons mentioned in Hinduism are actually references to tribal people.

          She accepts the myth of St. Thomas and his martyrdom in South India as credible(Thapar,1990, 134-5). She accepts historicity for Christ’s existence, but questions the historicity of Rama(ignoring BB Lal’s finds indicating a historical core of the Ramayana). Joining hands with Witzel in the California textbook controversy, she dismissed the whole range of factual errors in the textbook as ‘a conspiracy of Hindu fundamentalists’.

          One of the well known works of Thapar is Early History of India – From origins to 1300 AD. Unfortunately, for the historical neophytes, this book is quite dangerous, as it makes outlandish claims which cannot be substantiated.Many students consume it unquestionably. She also calls historians of statures like RC Majumdar and Nilkantha Shastri as “nationalistic”, and their arguments and interpretations as being biased by “nationalistic considerations” as if her own works are free of all bias. The list of factual errors in the book are all listed down here.

          Thapar also tries to somehow legitimize the destruction of Somnath in yet another book of hers, attributing it to “secular motives”. According to Romila Thapar, Mahmud of Ghazni was motivated purely by greed, a secular impulse to destroy Somnath that supposedly erases any iconoclastic religious rationale. One startling claim she also appears to make is familiarity with supposedly extant corroborative Persian and Turkish sources on his lack of religious conviction, presumably the pre-Kemalist script in which even few contemporary Turks claim to read, though it is Sanskrit she really needed to bone up on(It is only in India that a historian without adequate command of Sanskrit can claim expertise on its ancient past). Much the same can be said of her sturdy defence of Aurangzeb’s iconoclasm, asserting secular political motives for the destruction of the Kashi Viswanath temple (and countless others) and the erection of a mosque in its place.

          Because Indigenism is not a theory of historical explanation, it is used as and when required and quite arbitrarily to insist on history giving support to the premises of Hindutva ideology. A case in point was the debate over the Babri Masjid. The pretence at historicity was a new aspect of Hindutva ideology and was used to gull the public. It therefore required to be challenged by historians.

          Sorry to bring it over here, but it was really the group of historians she was belonging to who were ignoring historicity of the temple site – in reality ignoring a whole bunch of Persian letters, catalogues and histories which established that a temple at the place was demolished by Babar. Yet somehow, Thapar misses all of this, and then accuses the Hindutva groups of “pretence” at historicity.

          The Allahabad High Court had ordered a ground-penetrating radar search and the most thorough excavations. In this effort, carried out in 2003, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) employed a large number of Muslims in order to preempt the predictable allegation of acting as a Hindu nationalist front. The findings confirmed those of the excavations in the 1950s, 1970s and 1992: a very large Hindu religious building stood at the site before the Babri Masjid. The Allahabad High Court has now accepted these findings by India’s apex archaeological body. But not everyone is willing to abide by the verdict. Thapar claimed the ASI findings were disputed – a assertion along with a bunch of others which were thorougly dissected by Elst in his booklet on Ayodhya.

          Thus, it was said that the presence of pillar-bases doesn’t imply that pillars were built on it; you see, some people plant pillar bases here and there once in a while, without any ulterior motive of putting them to some good use. And it was alleged that the finding of some animal bones in one layer precludes the existence of a temple (and somehow annuls the tangible testimony of the vast foundation complex and the numerous religious artefacts); and more such hare-brained reasoning. The picture emerging from all this clutching at straws was clear enough: there is no such thing as a refutation of the overwhelming ASI evidence, just as there was no refutation of the archaeological and documentary evidence presented earlier.

          The list is quite big, but I just wanted to point out the kind of interpretations of history that Thapar conjures up. Anyone can read her works, and easily make much of her bias which is so evident in her works – of denying historical reality to Hindu legends and epics, and “interpreting” it in “new” lights.

          To summarize

          “Such is the audacity of Thapar and these second-rate Stalinists that profound ontological and epistemological differences with historians of the stature of R. C. Majumdar and Sir Jadunath Sarkar are evaded by merely accusing them of communal Hindu methodology. The eight volume History of India, as told by its own historians, compiled by Eliot and Dowson, is also damned by imputing partisan motives though their contents are not uniformly damaging to Islam, yet highlight enough evidence of despoliation to prompt their blanket denouncement by India’s fifth column. And she herself also makes a disgracefully cavalier accusation against the distinguished K. M. Munshi of an attempt to revive the Hindu Aryan (sic!) past for his endeavours to restore Somnath. Yet, these fifth columnists never detect such base motives in the reams of diabolical contemporary Islamic and Christian hate literature used incessantly to insult Hindu sensibilities in their own homeland. This is a tradition that dismisses those who disagree with them as communal, the pronouncement of an auto da Fe to paralyse them. “

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            One last concluding comment Ritesh.
            The evidence suggests humans originated from Africa with multiple migrations dispersed over history.
            It was not a pleasant thing for Europeans to accept that we are from Africa, given the history of colonialism there. However, the empirical evidence was so strong that
            the superior “Europeans” had to bow down to evidence
            that they came from Africa. So for that theory, actually the Europeans would have been biased against the conclusion. So overwhelming evidence overturned the bias.

            In Aryan migration theory, emotions run very high on either side and there are ad hominem attacks and the bigger picture is lost. Bigger picture is that we (all humans) are very similar to each other and color of the skin etc are very minor things when you see how much DNA we share with each other. India being the home for advanced civilizations with big kingdoms millions of years ago is a theory that can be challenged more seriously and substantially than the indigenous Aryan theory. Thanks for extensive discussion.

          • Kula-pavana

            GV… while there is sufficient evidence to assume that most modern day humans all over the world originated from a group tracing back to Africa, that does not mean that the ancient human races (like H.erectus and H.neanderthalensis) came from the same stock. Thus the human origins are not that simple.
            I take Puranic stories not as a ‘literal truth’, but as ‘stories containing truth’. So we have the stories containing various true things in them, just like the Native American stories, or ancient Greek stories. There is a lot of truth in all of them, but they are not all truth. I think the truth is ever fresh, always growing, and never limited to one group of people.

          • Ritesh

            Gaura Vijay,

            Do you hold that human civilization was not advanced in the past, and is reaching the levels of advancement only now in modern times? Somehow I feel that the Europeans could not accommodate the idea of a advanced civilization preceding theirs by a thousand years and more! And the picture made up by archaeological evidence is bound to change – its not perfect either! We may encounter evidence which can run contrary to the claims, currently being touted as truth.

            Sample the Aryan theory itself. 40 years before, the Aryan invasion theory was in vogue, propagated by archaeologists like Wheeler – based on his discovery of few human skeletons in the city of Haraapa/Mohenjadaro. Decades later, the theory has changed itself to Aryan migration. And the migration theory cannot explain everything. On the top of it we have the discovery of the Sarasvati river basin and paleo-channels, which tell a markedly different story of the Harappan civilization, on whether it was actually distinct from Aryan civilization or was Aryan in nature itself.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            Ritesh,
            I am not interested too much in the Aryan debate because there are too many emotions at stake and many things were indeed clouded by the work of Christian missionaries. I have already pointed that out before and even posted a review of Indian mathematics by David Mumford, which clearly points out how Indian mathematics was under-estimated before because of Euro-centric bias. However, when we see the evolution of mathematics in India too, we see that it was getting progressively more sophisticated till it reached its pinnacle in the Kerala school of 13th century. Therefore, it was not regressing and degrading as the people started to become “less intelligent in Kali Yuga”. I am not interesting in debating the Aryan migration issue. Edwin Bryant already has spoken about the uncertainties involved in each position.
            I will just make one final point.

            The yuga doctrine is an essential part of all Vedantic traditions. However, if we take all the accounts of the yugas and their time-scales literally, they conflict with empirical evidence. It is very unlikely that advanced civilizations with cities existed millions of years ago in Treta Yuga in present day India and Bhushan has also pointed that out in his post before. I will just refer you to a few summary articles pointing to the empirical evidence:
            (a) This summary article suggests that agriculture is about 20,000 years old. http://www.cof.orst.edu/cof/teach/agbio2010/Other%20Readings/Plant%20domestication%20Balter%20Science%202007.pdf
            Without agriculture, it would have been hard for advanced urban centers to have existed at the time of the Ramayana in Treta Yuga.
            (b) This is one among several articles that indicate that most of the ancestors of current humans lived in Africa 50,000 years ago http://www.pnas.org/content/102/44/15942.short and it is very unlikely that advanced humans inhabited the Indian subcontinent millions of years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV6A8oGtPc4 video on the Journey of Man covers different types of evidences for the history of human civilization.
            If we ignore this evidence and want to accept the yuga theory, it would be a leap of faith similar to what Christians have to take in their 6,000 year old theory. At least we have to admit that there is high uncertainty involved in this claim and we are making a leap of faith. Another interesting article on the idea of yuga cycles appearing in Vedic scriptural cannon is given here http://www.safarmer.com/CosmicCycles.pdf

            To conclude, all of these empirical facts are damaging to Christianity also as they conflict with the literal interpretation of Bible. I have already pointed out that Europeans hardly would have relished the idea (at least 50 years back or even now) that their origin is in Africa, but the evidence was too strong to deny. Enough said.

          • Syamasundara dasa

            I always marvel at how effective modern science propaganda has been in only a few decades, using word jugglery when everything else fell short. And mind you, I’m talking about only those cases, not the ones where science succeeded in determining some facts about reality or improving life’s quality.
            Archaeology, conventional agriculture and pharmacy are three examples that come to mind.
            We may say or hear “suggests that agriculture is about 20,000 years old” and give a lot of credit to that without thinking too much about the fact that a suggestion is just that: a speculation, with no more value than what a sacred book may say.
            Again, thanks to years of expertly chosen words in our forming school years. It’s like when FDA says: “has not been proven by FDA to cure cancer”, and we think: “Well, that’s what FDA does, so I don’t know about this herb or practice, they haven’t been able to prove it.” And then you find out they didn’t *care* to run any tests on something they can’t patent and make money on, let alone giving test results.
            Anyway, I remember growing up and listening about Darwinism. At that age something wasn’t quite clicking, but I know only now that in the same breath they were telling me that everything came out of chaos and happens pretty much by chance, but also that “life wants to preserve itself”, all of a sudden attributing will, reason and consciousness to something. Why would an animal choose a sex partner over another because that partner seems to give better chances to perpetrate the species. Do bacteria really care about extinction? I thought it was more about immediate belly filling and at most self-preservation.
            Anyway, back to archeology and its suggestions. We are talking of tens of thousands of years here. Suppose in 30,000 years they excavate where Australia is now, and they come to the conclusion that “agriculture started in the 1800s and in Australia, because we haven’t found any other proof coming from anywhere else, and because before the 1700-1800s people were just nomadic tribes, hunting with boomerangs and gathering.” Makes perfect sense, based on the evidence available.
            A devotee 15 years ago made a comment to me that stuck in my mind. He was noticing how every morning the Q-tip that is used to offer scented oil to the deities’ feet is passed around, until inevitably someone throws it away. He said that if they excavated where Villa Vrindavana is 10,000 years from now, they’d conclude that Italians were very fond of cleaning their ears with scented cotton swabs.
            That’s all I have to say. I must admit I only vaguely followed this thread through the emails of comments I receive, but I couldn’t quite get involved because of the attitude of one individual in particular. I am just responding to Gaura Vijaya’s reply per se, not even to him.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        And “simple” observation skills suggest that there is lot of speculation and biased interpretation clouding this issue. How can a conclusion be drawn, a conclusion which contradicts common sense?

        Pray tell, how is ‘speculation and biased interpretation’ suggested by ‘simple,’ by which I meant to refer to commonsensical, observational skills? This isn’t some game on semantics, Ritesh. Sorry, but that’s not good enough, in addition to being plain illogical, to put it mildly. Likewise, how can a conclusion as to the fabric of Indian society being multi-layered and variously influenced, predicated on the enormous diversity observed in physical types, linguistic heritage, religious ritualistic praxis, and cultural attributes, to cite only a few categories of potentially pertinent criteria, be assessed as contradicting common sense? It is baffling that such a poorly-thought-out argument would be advanced at all by somebody.

        • Aziz

          Shyamsundara dasa wrote:

          That’s all I have to say.

          I am receiving these messages in my mail boxe but since your name is new here I read yours. I can’t believe what it! I thought I was the only one here who have recieved such éducation. It is almost a miracle in this world that someone still thinks like you.

          • Ritesh

            Gaura Vijaya,

            The question is not about dating here – the point is that there might be discoveries made which contradict the “well-established” and “academic” findings of today. And there are challenges to the Out-of-Africa theory as well, from recent discoveries of human teeth and skulls in China and Israel, which date back to 100,000 and 400,000 years.(http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18093-chinese-challenge-to-out-of-africa-theory.html)
            (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101230123554.htm)

            Will the Out-of-Africa theory remain the academic consensus if more such discoveries are made? What if human remains, or indeed sophisticated tools pertaining to a more ancient past are discovered? The entire theory of African origins for human beings will have to be abandoned!

            The question then is how can academic consensus be taken at face value,as undisputed, immutable “truth” and fact?

            Recently, a pretty famous cholesterol drug was found to do the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do(when it was approved by the FDA), in a sponsored study. This ends up contradicting a host of studies done earlier to the date! In my opinion, this underscores the fact that science and scientific methodology cannot provide us a complete understanding of the nature around us – the conclusions drawn from science depend upon observations made by us – and as our span-of-observation is fundamentally limited : the understanding gained by such a method is also incomplete. It cannot be touted as “absolute” truth.

            However, this is not to discount science as a tool to analyze and understand nature, and universe. Science is value-driven, and spirituality can to a great degree change the focus of current scientific research from matter to spirit. Science has been used as a tool only to understand matter, but not to understand our own self. It has been used a great deal to focus on scriptural inadequacies, but not used to highlight the wisdom embedded in them. And technological progress enabled by such a materialistic focus of science has only resulted in DE-humanization, it has not elevated consciousness of human beings. Great material progress, but greater moral bankruptcy as well.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            Hi Ritesh,
            I had already closed my discussion, but you addressed me. Therefore, I am responding briefly.

            Out of africa is for modern humans, the 50K to 100K timeline that is, it’s not for all hominid species.
            Neanderthals have been in europe for several hundred thousand years homo erectus and related hominids were in asia since 1.8 million yrs but they too came from africa around 1.8-2 million yrs ago modern humans came from africa 50-100K yrs ago. Science does not have immutable truth and it talks about more likely and less likely events. Around 100-125K, there is some evidence that modern humans had gone as far as Israel
            but they were pushed back by neanderthals in that region. Evidences of different kinds (climactic, genetic and archaeological) have been used for the Out-of-Africa theory.

            Some more points on carbon dating that were made by a person with good background in biology.
            Since I don’t think radiocarbon dating is flawed, I will try to answer your question (i.e, if you intended the above as a question).

            1. Dendrochronology (dating using tree rings), which is completely accurate to the nearest year, is used to calibrate for errors in radiocarbon dating (that may be caused by fluctuations of C-14 content in the earth’s atmosphere). The magnitude of the errors even without calibration from dendrochronology is not that large. So given that dendrochronology provides an independent validation to the radiocarbon dates, as well as calibrate the small errors, it is reasonable to trust radiocarbon dating.

            2. Different radioactive isotopes decay at different rates. And different radioactive isotopes are usually found together. This means we can cross-check the dates of an object by matching the dates obtained from different isotopes in it, which invariably match, within the expected margin of error. If the decay rates of the isotopes were to change over time, the dates derived from the different isotopes would not agree with one another. It is their agreement that gives physicists even more confidence that the dating techniques are indeed accurate.

            3. Radioactive isotopes have been subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures in the laboratory. Yet the decay rates have never been observed to change at all, or to depend on the environment into which the atoms are placed. There is thus no reason to expect decay rates to change in the future, or to have changed in the past.

            Given this, I think there is no reason not to trust the methodology of radiocarbon dating.

            Some more points:

            For fossils hundreds of millions of years old, we don’t use radiocarbon dating because the half-life of C-14 is between 5000 and 6000 years, so by the time 50-60,000 years elapse, the number of C-14 atoms that remain are so few that beyond this point, we have (for practical purposes) no more of it left. For longer timescales, we need to use other radioactive isotopes which have a much longer half-life, and which thus serve as much slower clocks. Fortunately, there is an enormous variety in the rate at which different radioactive clocks tick (some having a half-life more than the age of the universe), so we can use the appropriate ones for dating.

            There are many independent ways to detect human evolution, but taking just the human fossils here, when we go back in time, we find a pattern – the fossils become more and more ape-like, until 7 million years ago beyond which they are completely ape-like. This progression of fossils back to ape-like forms through a series of human-ape intermediates is distinctly seen as a pattern in the fossil record. This clearly cannot be satisfactorily communicated in an email, because it’s a statement about the data which has to be ‘seen’. This pattern is best explained by evolution. It is not explained by separate creation or separate ancestry.

            Furthermore, when molecular genetic clocks are used to ‘time’ the splitting of the human line from the chimp line, the date obtained is again the same – approx 7 million years. In one of my earlier mails where I mentioned the match between independent dating techniques, I pointed to the staggering implications of two independent kinds of evidence leading to the same conclusion – it is a sign of the robustness of the claim. This is an even more staggering testimony to the likely truth of the story of human evolution – to have entirely independent lines of evidence, from entirely different fields (archaeology and genetics) tell the same story. There is absolutely no reason for them to even remotely agree if the story of evolution is false. One deals with fossils, the other with DNA sequences.

            What do we further expect if human evolution actually happened over the last 7 million years? We can also say that if this story is true, there will never be any human-like fossils found that date before the common ancestor of humans and chimps. The planet’s history goes back an enormous amount of time – about 4.6 billion years. So 7 million years (even though it appears a huge amount of time relative to our lifespan) is but an insignificant speck of time compared to the vast span of time before that. 99.999% of the planet’s history lies before the date of the ape-like ancestor of humans. The fossil record pattern described above is sandwiched within the last 0.001% of the planet’s history.

            I don’t deny that there is uncertainty in science, so these dates will be refined as time progresses. However, the likelihood of the literal puranic account being established is pretty remote or slim. How does establishing uncertainty in science establish certainty in religion? How do we know whether the Buddhist, Biblical, Quranic or the Puranic account is true? Attacking the uncertainty in science does not buy 100% certainty for the puranic account or the 6000 year old earth theory. You can easily say all dating techniques are flawed and earth is actually 6000 years old and the imperfect senses of man will never know that. I don’t expect that the above is going to change the minds of those who reject evolution. Brief discussions on such a vast subject can be good enough to change anyone’s prior stand, whatever that stand may be. I hope that simplistic portrayals of evolution as merely resting on “absence of evidence is evidence of absence” (that too a simplistic interpretation of this statement) not be made. If you are interested, you can read the book “Dawn of Human culture” by Richard Klein or the “Journey of Man” http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Man-Genetic-Odyssey/dp/0812971469/ref=pd_cp_mov_1 to examine the evidence in detail.

            I have already mentioned above. I would have loved to find that all Puranic details were literally true. When I discover that it is unlikely, then I have to admit such. After all, Bhagavata starts with “Satyam param dhimahi” (Let us obtain the truth), so we will have to embrace inconvenient things even though we may not want them to be true. At least, that is what I think. Other than that, everyone will make a decision based on partial information available to them. I don’t think I would be able to add much more to the discussion.

          • Syamasundara dasa

            Ritesh,

            I believe you are replying to a post of Gaura Vijaya’s that did appear in your email, but was deleted. That’s why I didn’t reply to it, even if it was addressed to me.
            Just saying this in case there is still someone following this thread that might get confused.

    • Bhushan

      Vikram,

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading the discussion, some of the arguments were hilarious and some were very thoughtful. Your posts on Indian history are very informative. In some other post you shared a link shedding light on ancient Indian meat eating practices which I enjoyed reading. It would be great if you can point to good articles/books which shed light upon the ancient Indian culture.

      I am not really looking for AIT and stuff, but something which describes the life and times of the ancient Indians. Especially the life and times when these scriptures were written. I have heard from lot of people about grandeur of the ancient Vedic culture.
      I must say, I am a bit skeptical about these claims, most of these things must be products of Hindu Nationalism.
      But it would be nice to get some understanding of the true picture.

      So it would be nice, if you can point to some good articles/books on this subject. Thanks.

      – Bhushan

      • Gaura-Vijaya

        Dear Bhushan,
        A very balanced article on the subject of meat eating can be found “Strategies of Conversion: The Emergence of Vegetarianism in Post-Vedic India” on http://www.edwinbryant.org . Dr Bryant is very good in his analysis and even though he is sympathetic to vaisnavism, he is able to present the facts with incredible deal of objectivity. The fact that meat eating and even beef eating is references even in the Upanishads has to be accepted. That does not mean that we return to that practice as there are sufficiently good reasons to move away from that practice. However, we can see from this article that there is a gradual shift to a meat free diet. What else can we expect if agriculture is only 20,000-30,000 years old? We cannot expect the people then to live meat free. In addition, the practices of that time were not similar to animal farming practices of today. Today, we are aware of the problems in animal farming industry and books like Omnivore’s dilemma and Fast Food nations are written by people who are not vegetarian, but have highlighted the problems with the animal farming industry. There is a place for extreme vegan movements that are condescending to any person who does not follow them. However, there is also a space for people who want to change the state of animal farming industry and make the slaughterhouses more humane. Otherwise, if we want to point out to people that Cow killers and cow eaters are condemned to rot in hell for as many thousands of years as there are for each hair on the body of every cow, then we will also find another reference in the article by Bryant (Vasista DharmaShastra (11.34) which says the ascetic who refuses meat coming from sacrifice will rot in hell for as many years as the number of hairs in the beast’s body. The article further describes how in the Mahabharata we have strong admonishments of meat eating by Bhisma on one hand and on the other hand during the Raja Suya yagya, Yudhistara is actually feeding meat to the brahmanas. As we dig deeper, we find that things are not black and white in the scripture either and meat/beef is indeed being consumed not only by sudras but by brahmanas. I did not initially like that when I found it out because it shattered my beliefs in what the scripture should be saying. However, then the truth has to accepted even when it is unpalatable.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        Bhushan,

        You can find some suggestions at these links:

        http://www.thebetterindia.com/3962/10-must-read-books-on-indian-history/
        http://www.hindutempleofatlanta.org/Static_Docs/HtahistoryOfIndiaReference.pdf

        However, if there is one work that, in my opinion, ought to be regarded as the standard reference on the ancient and medieval history of the subcontinent, all the way up to independence from the British, it would be the following one, a work that I believe is out of print, unfortunately:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_and_Culture_of_the_Indian_People

        The Sanskrit texts were progressively penned over a period of thousands of years, literally, and all cannot be assigned to the same timeline. However, it is accepted that the epics and early parts of the major Puranas were written between circa 400 BCE and 400 CE, and this would be a highly interesting period to study. In the latter years of this epoch, the Gupta Empire, considered to be ‘a model of a classical civilisation’ and India’s Golden Age, was firmly established; until circa 600 CE, at which time the Empire collapsed for multiple reasons, the extent of ongoing literary creative activity was maintained, and the bulk of the Puranic corpus was composed during this time. You can obtain a rudimentary outline of this fascinating episode of Indian history at its germane Wikipedia entry.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gupta_Empire

        I shall try to search some more, and will let you know.

        • Bhushan

          Gaura-Vijaya/ Vikram,

          Thanks for the response. Books look very interesting, I must get hold of some of them. The discussion on origins of the Vedic civilizations was excellent. But still, it raises it raises more questions. When the evidence stares right at you, it is not right to simple brush it away. But at the same time, personally I think things are not that, straightforward.

          Living in India, I have been fortunate to witness some outlandish things( some which have personally involved me, ) and most of them are inexplicable by modern science. In India one can find lots of genuine saintly persons from various traditions and what they say I feel cannot be discounted. But at the same time we are faced with solid empirical evidence.

          I will relate a narratives which present an alternative view, just for the sake of illustrating the idea.

          This is from a biography of a saint from a village called Gondawale hence called Gondawalekar Maharaj. This was written by a philosophy professor from Bombay Prof K V Belsare. There is an incident where the saint and his disciple are visiting some hidden caves at Gir mountain in Gujarat. They find a yogi meditating, the yogi has extremely long hair, in fact the floor is all his hair. The yogi notices the presence of these two, and opens his eyes and asks “Has Shri Rama incarnated?”. The saint replied ” Treta yuga has gone, even Dwapara, this is Kali. Shri Rama and Shri Krishna both came and left.”
          Hearing this the yogi replied ” I was born in Satya yuga, in order to see Shri Rama, I preserved my body and entered a meditative state hoping to wake up in Treta Yuga, but I missed, now there is no need for me to live”. Saying this he left his body.

          One can dismiss this as figment of the author’s imagination. But after inspecting the author(by his other works), he appears to have a sound constitution and seems to be honest.

          I don’t mean to say one should put faith in anything one hears, like the foolish conspiracy theories and other nonsense. But certain compelling things that challenge our understanding cannot be discounted.

          So then, what do we conclude? Was there anything like the yugas? If there were yugas etc, what do we do with the evidence which points to a different direction. Rigorous academic findings cannot be dismissed.

          How can one be certain about anything, when faced with such things? I can only say one thing, we live in a world which is extremely mysterious, the more the knowledge, more the questions. But yet, one should keep on investigating and asking questions.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            Dear Bhushan,
            Thanks for your mail. I still felt mystic emotions that are overwhelming when I read some of the pastimes of Krsna or Ramachandra, so I do believe the story/myth has a reality of its own. Joseph Campbell spoke about it in his book “Power of Myth”.
            I have wanted all these incidents to be literally true, but when I saw evidence it became unlikely that millions of years ago there were kingdoms in the present day India. Another thing is that many people who claim the historicity of Ramayana give the date like 5000 BC (at the earlier) and Ritesh is ignoring that and assuming all the traditional historians who supports the historicity of Rama think that he was present here millions of years ago. Yet again for me the “myth” (I don’t use the word in the dictionary sense of the word but in the sense of Jung/Campbell) has a life of its own and I have felt the power of the myth in my life and will continue to do so.

          • Bhushan

            Gaura-Vijaya,
            Thanks for the reply. I wanted to post the reply below your comment, but somehow there is not such link below the comment.

            You are right, we all want these stories to be true, but the evidence dosen’t add up. Most of the evidence points to only villages and not big cities 5000 years ago and earlier.

            But I wish things were that simple for me. One of my friend used to regularly visit Hanumanji’s temple on Saturdays and suddenly one day, his father gets a phone call from some guy in the US who tells him someone in his family is worshiping Hanumanji very nicely, and he is pleased. How am I supposed to make sense of things like these? Especially if somethings similar to these have been personally experienced by me. There are so many stories involving people close to me.

            The thing is, say if tomorrow I personally directly experience the truth say through mystic vision, the question is solved for me. Like the Buddha, who saw all his previous lifetimes, the past,present,future upon attaining Nirvana.
            Or if I only rely on sole empirical truths dismissing anything mystical, life will be simple.

            The problem comes, when I am caught between the two. I neither have perfect mystic vision but maybe a short glimpse, but someone who has the mystic vision, is telling me something, which dosen’t match with the empirical evidence. And I cannot dismiss the evidence, because its the evidence. Its the perfect recipe for cognitive dissonance.

            It is like the movie “Contact”.
            What if one(or more) of your trusted friend tells you, that he had a direct mystic vision of the past, which is at odds with the evidence.

          • Some see the world through eyes of spiritual experience—bhava—and describe it in ways that do not match with sensual, mental and intellectual experience that is not saturated with the ingress of svarupa-sakti. But there is a difference between bhava and religious fanaticism.

          • Gaura-Vijaya

            Dear Bhushan,
            I understand your plight well because I am in the same boat. According to my opinion, we can’t force our way to the Absolute. Therefore we will have to wait patiently for the Absolute to give us the mystic vision suitable for us. I also only had glimpses of such kind of experiences, but nothing like remembering past lives (Buddha seemed to remember them exactly). It is a substantial and interesting individual search for the Absolute and we go there with humility. Not everyone needs to go through such cognitive dissonance and I think most people don’t even need to experience that because they can practice their faith in their group. However, as soon as the there is a claim that we have the Absolute truth and you have to demonstrate that to others through preaching then you come to terms with opposing arguments more substantially.
            There are few points I can make. There are more number of people in Christianity who have experienced cognitive dissonance because they have interacted with modern empirical findings more closely. In the theistic Vedanta tradition, hardly any people have entered into a substantial dialogue and addressed the problems of cognitive dissonance that happen because of conflict between empirical findings and beliefs based on scripture. In the Gaudiya tradition, Bhaktivinoda Thakur did try to address these issues, but all of his work that pertains to this issue is thrown in the garbage can because it is supposed to be just a preaching tactic for the foolish “bhadraloka” of his time who cannot accept the “real” meaning of the scripture.
            There are people who claimed to have mystic visions and many of such visions have turned out to be disorders as this video shows http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIiIsDIkDtg . It does not mean that it is true of all mystic visions, but I am just giving you some opposing evidence. I for one won’t mind eventually going into the experience of St Francis or Sri Sanatana 🙂 even if there are opposing arguments. Still, I cannot force my way through. Have to wait patiently and do what I can. I think there are people in the theistic Vaisnava traditions who have their mystic experiences and are sympathetic to the cognitive dissonance you are talking about. And because of them, I still continue my search and I am grateful to the teachers. However, I have not seen someone in the tradition who has experienced cognitive dissonance first and then got a perfect mystic vision. Perhaps things will change in our time and such a person will emerge and address these complex issues more substantially if at all they can be addressed. Thanks again.

  • Robotmule

    Ok, what is the recurring issue: He says, if you don’t “believe” what is being said, then, you might as well have eaten stool instead of reading it, or something like that……

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      What an enlightened remark from ya! It does reflect so well on you, and makes it limpidly easy for me, and maybe others too, to know exactly where to place everything that comes from you – in the lavatory. To be frank, I already knew that from before, but diplomacy and politeness forbade me from saying it aloud until you let the cat outta the bag yourself. Cheers Robotmule (that’s a really cool nick btw).

  • Robotmule

    Dear Prince Vikram

    Of course, how dumb and fundamentalist of me 🙁

    The Vedas is most certainly a myth, much like Marvel Comics.
    (you convinced me and I’m sure most others here)

    Perhaps I’ll just use my Siddhis to make you spontaneously combust.
    (Haha, just kidding, now THAT’s a whacky idea)

    But on a serious note, how is it going with that list of words I gave you to learn?

    Please do flush.

    Love
    Robotmule

    PS. I apologize for using un-intellectual words like “you”, “are”, “missing”, “the”, “entire” and “point”.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      PS. I apologize for using un-intellectual words like “you”, “are”, “missing”, “the”, “entire” and “point”.

      You keep repeating that, as if you’re trying to convince yourself of it. Well, you can be my guest, Robot, or should I say, Mule? 😀

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      The Vedas is most certainly a myth, much like Marvel Comics.
      (you convinced me and I’m sure most others here)

      Unless you’re seeing things which no one else is, Mule, do a favour, and show where a single argument was made that could have caused you to write this. Irrespective of what the Vedas are and represent, what is evident to people who are familiar with the contents of these texts is that they do not exclusively support any doctrine in particular, contrary to what you erroneously think. In any event, what you may or may not believe has little bearing on the facts that govern these books. That I remember, at least one more commenter has made this point and offered a couple of references in that respect. Go check those out, if truth and facts interest you more than narrowly-defined, sectarian biases.

      • Robotmule

        Please take note that I’m listening to a Britney Spears ballads compilation while typing this, so I’m very calm and romantic.

        You said :

        Vikram Ramsoondur says:
        October 13, 2011 at 5:58 am

        Krsna, to me, is an abidingly charming representation of the Divine conceived by the human mind, and around whom a complex, sophisticated, and deep devotional theology has developed.

        You are very strongly defending the idea that counters the opinion that the culture has about itself. Forget about different views for now…….we’re not typing on a Sikh forum here.

        You’re looking into the house of Vedas from the outside in, whereas to understand it, you must enter the house and look out. “Faith” is the cliche word. But it comes down to it. Luckily there are ways to improve and verify faith – through the Yogic methods. Do you practice any of it?

        The Spiritual Quest is in a sense a declaration of war against “Maya”, as Srila Prabuphada said(yes, i know Vikram). If you understand what “Maya” is (please could you tell us), then you must understand that the culture should be very serious about defending itself from the influence from the projectile of Materialistic Atheism/Agnosticism.

        It’s ultimately an intellectual war in these times. I quote the Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami:

        “When the intellect is prominent, arrogance and analytical thinking preside”

        “The greatest inhibiting factor in practicing bhakti yoga is the doubting, cynical, intellectual mind”

        “Bhakti” being what devotional service is all about. But it’s good that you are challenging devotees to come up with good arguments, but in the end it just becomes a mass of words with 0 potency. You are definitely way more intelligent than Richard Dawkins (who is sadly not that intelligent).

        You cannot possibly have an ulterior motive, because from the “spiritual side” you are simply mezmerized by external illusions of History/Languages/Countries/Intellectuals etc….
        These are all ghosts of Maya.

        Do you mind if I interview you with these questions, please?!
        (I seriously want to know) Please, try keep it as short as possible.

        1.Do you practice any form of Yoga?

        2.The definition of Maya?

        3.Are you Vikram Ramsoondur?

        4.Do you think the idiocy of mankind is a joke lost in the abyss of absolute nothingness?

        Hugs AND Kisses
        Robotmule
        (I’m actually a female)

        • Vikram Ramsoondur

          You’re looking into the house of Vedas from the outside in, whereas to understand it, you must enter the house and look out.

          You don’t know that, but are just making assumptions from a vantage point that that is steeped in, as I said, narrowly-defined, sectarian biases. That is all I shall say.

          You are definitely way more intelligent than Richard Dawkins (who is sadly not that intelligent).

          Again, I beg to differ. To me, he’s one of the brightest brains on earth, and a man who knows his stuff consummately. I certainly have much to learn from him.

          As for my being ‘mezmerized by external illusions of History/Languages/Countries/Intellectuals,’ it is inconceivable, to me, that one can possibly gain a nuanced, reasoned, balanced, intellectually defendable view of the world we live in without sufficiently mastering these key drivers of historical processes. Enough said.

          • Robotmule

            This is my closing statement. I apologize for possibly irritating or offending the devotees and/or others.

            Cool, no worries. You’re 100% right about mastering those things to have a proper, educated opinion. It’s when you master the root seed concept of all these things that you understand that its mostly a very colourful cartoon outside your body. That’s when you can start your inquiry into “Brahman”.

            Beyond secterian biases, Vedas is reality coding.
            From my personal perspective, all possible information can be slotted into the “layers of reality” as explained in the Vedas. Thus, intellectual phenomena slot into the layer that is one layer above the mental layer, and one below the spirit layer.

            I’ve seen “the other side”, so I know it is true from the descriptions of “non-dual” and “sameness yet difference” perception. I could never easily join a group because I’m a heretic sent from Shivaloka, but I cannot denigrate the Vedas because it always triumphs anything else I’ve seen. It comes from outside the universal egg. It’s of a different fibre. You don’t have to believe ME of course.

            Richard Dawkins is very good at describing the surface phenomena. Very good.

            Cheers

  • Swami Tripuari wrote,

    Apparently “The human response to revelation grounded in Vedanta” is variegated. Some take it literally, some take it essentially, some don’t take it at all. Regardless, everyone here seems fascinated with Gaudiya Vedanta.

    Yep, some are fascinated because of contempt, some because of enmity, some because of confusion, some because of faith garnered through experience. (gopyaḥ kāmād bhayāt kaṁso dveṣāc caidyādayo nṛpāḥ . . .)

  • Ritesh

    How about this? I am as familiar as you are with the works of these people, as a few years ago, my views were nearly identical to your present ones (and to my dear friend Robotmule’s for that matter); not just that, I myself used to quote them all ad nauseam. But things change, and I’ve become far more conservative and cautious, from an intellectual point of view, since.

    Agreed, we have to be careful, not just with the works of these people, and also experts like David Reich. And perhaps even more cautious when are pronouncing a judgement on the “putative” history of the Puranas.

    As per the standards I now make use of, the terming of these writers as ‘Hindu nationalists’ stands good

    Labeling someone as Hindu nationalist, and then brushing aside the evidence and the arguments they presented and pigeon holing them as “traditionalist” and “chauvinistic” does not convince me at the least, “much less impress anyone” as you put it below when I question Thapar’s historiography.

    Michel Danino’s book on Sarasavati – “The Lost River” presents highlights the consonance between Rig-Veda culture and the Harappa Civilization, and Rajiv Malhotra’s Breaking India has every argument backed up by solid references(if you care to look)

    With discovery of Sarasvati, and a number of Harappan sites around it,a greater continuity can be assigned to the Indian civilization than assumed before.

    I’ve just presented to you a 2009 study on which an expert of the stature of David Reich commented, that was featured in Nature, and which supported the idea of substantial influxes in the Indian population from West and Central Asia, but to that, you had not a thing to say.

    Let me repeat what I said, because you seem to have missed it entirely. One of the authors Thangaraj Kumaraswamy of the 2009 paper you mentioned above, categorically rejected linking caste to genetic diversity. Thangaraj Kumaraswamy said that “while the study no doubt shows the the populations are genetically structured, which suggest that they practice endogamy for thousands of years. Every population is genetically unique, but we cannot assign genetic information to differentiate whether he/she belongs to higher/lower caste. As one is aware, Jati/caste has been introduced very recently”.

    And regarding Jati/Caste, I think he meant it in the context of the genetic studies which were being carried out. That does not mean that Jati/Caste has been recently introduced in Indian society; indeed Jati has been there around for thousands of years – but not the terminology of caste. The word Caste was introduced by Portuguese, first to describe inherited class status in their own European society; a concept which cannot be easily juxtaposition-ed in Indian society. Jati groups have indeed seen significant mobility across the hierarchy of social system, and there is ample evidence for it(as noted by the MN Srinivas).The forced melding of the Jati with the theoretical varna is held on erroneous belief that the entire Indian society was grouped into the four ideal varna categories since time immemorial, which many indigenous scholars don’t agree with.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Labeling someone as Hindu nationalist, and then brushing aside the evidence and the arguments they presented and pigeon holing them as “traditionalist” and “chauvinistic” does not convince me at the least, “much less impress anyone” as you put it below when I question Thapar’s historiography.

    Michel Danino’s book on Sarasavati – “The Lost River” presents highlights the consonance between Rig-Veda culture and the Harappa Civilization, and Rajiv Malhotra’s Breaking India has every argument backed up by solid references(if you care to look)

    With discovery of Sarasvati, and a number of Harappan sites around it,a greater continuity can be assigned to the Indian civilization than assumed before.

    Let the true experts, those who are adequately trained in the disciplines we’re concerned with here, accept the so-called irrefutable evidence you assign such inordinate credibility to but which really stems from the second-hand cataloguing of a bunch of amateurish interlopers, and I shall proceed in tandem and revisit my stance as well.

    Let me repeat what I said, because you seem to have missed it entirely. One of the authors Thangaraj Kumaraswamy of the 2009 paper you mentioned above, categorically rejected linking caste to genetic diversity. Thangaraj Kumaraswamy said that “while the study no doubt shows the the populations are genetically structured, which suggest that they practice endogamy for thousands of years. Every population is genetically unique, but we cannot assign genetic information to differentiate whether he/she belongs to higher/lower caste. As one is aware, Jati/caste has been introduced very recently”.

    I missed nothing, as you condescendingly surmise in your response. It’s just that Kumaraswamy’s remark strikes me as peripheral. Reich was the lead researcher in this exercise, and I find what he had to say more pertinent to the question of Indo-European origins.

    A single genetic study cannot be taken to discount entire host of archaeological, literary and other evidence which favor Indigenous Aryan origins. Many major rival models of the origin of the Aryans co-exist despite extensive studies, each with associated genetic evidences.Michel Danino gives a good overview of them(till 2009) in here – http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/genetics-aryan-debate.html.

    There is no real archaeological evidence which favours an indigenous Aryans model. Let me repeat the fact that I am as aware as you are of the material that non-academic figures such as Danino and Malhotra cite. I’m just not very much convinced by it, and neither are mainstream scholars and authorities. And I know of at least three (3) very recent studies that claim to demonstrate an Eastern European locus of origin for Haplogroup R1a1. Just in case you missed this post or deliberately ignored it, let me reproduce it once again.

    I reckon that some additional light can be shed on the material above-cited with the finds of the very latest works carried out on Indian genetics. In the 2009 study that appeared in Nature, the analysis conducted by the researchers makes Reich write: “It is tempting to assume that the population ancestral to ANI [Ancestral North Indian] and CEU spoke ‘Proto-Indo-European’, which has been reconstructed as ancestral to both Sanskrit and European languages, although we cannot be certain without a date for ANI–ASI [Ancestral South Indian] mixture.”

    Following in sequence we have the 2011 paper authored by Moorjani et al, which apparently resolves the burning issue of dating the ANI-ASI admixture by placing it within a time frame of 1,200 to 3,500 years before present, coinciding with the introduction and gradual diffusion of Indo-European language and culture in India.

    http://www.ichg2011.org/abstracts/fulltext/index.shtml
    http://www.harappadna.org/2011/09/aniasi-admixture-dating/

    Now, yet another 2011 work, this time by the Russian researcher Stepanov and his colleagues, in a bid to map Y-DNA Haplogroup R1a1a (M17), especially the route via which it was originally diffused, postulates a probable Eastern European origin for R1a1. As Stepanov has it: “The age of the cluster admittedly brought to Hindustan from Central Asia / Southern Siberia is 3,9 +/- 1,3 ky. Probably, the primary center of the generation of diversity and expansion of R1a1a was the territory of the Eastern European Steppe. With the spread of of R1a1 carriers, secondary centers of genetic diversity and population expansions were formed in the Southern Siberia and Hindustan.”

    What is specifically of note here is the very similar timelines referenced in the two 2011 studies, i.e. 3,500 to 1,200 ago in the Moorjani paper and 3,900 to 1,300 years before now in Stepanov’s research. The logical inference would be that they are on to something here, as looks likely.

    • Ritesh

      What is specifically of note here is the very similar timelines referenced in the two 2011 studies, i.e. 3,500 to 1,200 ago in the Moorjani paper and 3,900 to 1,300 years before now in Stepanov’s research. The logical inference would be that they are on to something here, as looks likely.

      Had a discussion with the above with my friends, and the interesting thing they pointed to me was the 1,200 year period corresponds to 8th century A.D – a period just after the invasion of India by the Hunas(as the Gupta empire began to crumble). The related genetic diversity could as well be due to influx of Hunas, rather than Aryans.

      The 3,500 period corresponds to a date of 1500BC – which will imply that the Vedas could have been codified somewhere around that time – this contradicts other dating studies which establish that date to be much before the Max Muller date of 1200 BC.

      That said – the time-span proposed for intermingling is too broad for pinning a Aryan migration, and it would be interesting to see how they came up with it in the first place. As with many studies in archaeology, it might be because these genetic studies take for granted the time-span which had been proposed by “experts” in earlier decades. Also, it should be noted that archeologists tend to ascribe dates proposed by linguists(a point noted by Bryant himself). Can the same be missing in case of genetic experts? We have seen a wide range of studies with contradicting conclusions – should,these 2 studies should be taken as a final judgement?

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        Had a discussion with the above with my friends, and the interesting thing they pointed to me was the 1,200 year period corresponds to 8th century A.D – a period just after the invasion of India by the Hunas(as the Gupta empire began to crumble). The related genetic diversity could as well be due to influx of Hunas, rather than Aryans.

        That’s stating the obvious, to me at least. There’s not much which is peculiarly interesting about it.

        We have seen a wide range of studies with contradicting conclusions – should,these 2 studies should be taken as a final judgement?

        Here’s a citation from a third study that casts Eastern Europe (Ukraine, more precisely) as a very possible locus of origin from which R1a1 spread:

        *”the combined analysis of the Eu19 biallelic markers with the 49a,f system has provided interesting information concerning past human migrations in Eurasia. The 49a,f system has allowed a further characterization of the Eu19 lineage by a new marker, the 49a,f Ht11. On the other hand, the Eu19 lineage has provided stable markers to identify all those haplotype variants deriving from the 49a,f Ht 11. These variants, in turn, by subclassifying the Eu19 lineage, have given insights on its geographic subdivision and a new hint that Ukraine may be the area where the Eu19/Ht 11 spread from.”

        As I’ve equally emphasised at least a few times up above, I do not endorse the standard older notions associated with AIT, so once again, you’re attempting to address matters that aren’t pertinent to the specific discourse we’ve been engaged in here.

        This will be my final intervention in the discussion, as I believe that it’s outlived its raison d’être, whatever that was to begin with.

        • Ritesh

          As I’ve equally emphasised at least a few times up above, I do not endorse the standard older notions associated with AIT, so once again, you’re attempting to address matters that aren’t pertinent to the specific discourse we’ve been engaged in here.

          I wonder how do my comments suggest that I am associating your arguments with notions of AIT.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Better, more parsimonious accounts exists, and I simply cannot believe why the Aryans would not have a reminiscence at least of a migration from a Central Asian region, nor are there any legends associated with the same. Compare it with Sarasvati. Apart from the numerous references to the river in the Rig-Veda, there are songs around the river, although the river itself doesn’t flow any more. Why is such a legend missing in case of a “migration”?

    And yet you fail to present a single such account! Without wanting to sound patronising, you simply do not appear to have conducted any kind of study on how history proceeds, and what the natural processes that affect its march and how it effectively becomes ‘history’ are. I have no time to educate you, on this or anything else, but I believe you may care to have a look at this article, written by a practising Chaitanya Vaishnava scholar, but an unusually rational-minded one it has to be said.

    http://jagadanandadas.blogspot.com/2008/10/history-is-bunk.html

    If you’d care to go through the above essay and perhaps carry out some additional, in-depth research on the topics it touches on, you shall maybe understand why the last books on earth I’d ever consult for an objective, accurate and balanced view of past events are religious documents, be those the Vedas, the Bible or the Holy Quran.

    Your posts and replies tend to place a disproportionate emphasis on caste, caste and caste again,

    You’re damn right they do, and for good reason, the main one being that I open my eyes and ears when I move around, and more significantly, when I see things, I try to comprehend them causally, and make an earnest attempt at determining what lies underneath. I know India enough to understand the preponderant role that caste plays in that country. Not just that, I could recount several anecdotes to illustrate just what I mean by this, but I don’t think that’d be a particularly wise thing to do.

    and to make your point, you bring into focus this particular instance – related to the acharya, as if to diminish his greatness.

    You do not participate in an online exchange of ideas by imputing motives to an interlocutor in this adolescent, to say the least, manner. What’s more, you’re entirely mistaken on what you’ve inferred in this case. Not just that, your lengthy expatiation on the Adi Shankara episode missed my entire point, which was simply to show that caste is an ancient phenomenon, and not a recent imposition, whether by the Portuguese or anybody else; my intention was not to judge him or cast aspersions on the fellow in any way. And since your detailed response was off-the-mark and unnecessary, I do not deem it worthy of being replied to, as it amounted to an endeavour at tackling an issue that was never on my mind to begin with.

    So much for your effort at trying to try incriminating him! Bringing this topic into the debate was wholly UN-necessary – yet you picked up a quote which was not made by me but one of the authors of the 2009 genetic study, and then commented on it at length. I observe that you tend to focus all the time on verifying the veracity of information that ancient texts present us, questioning traditions but do not focus on deeper truths from the Ithihas and the Puranas that illuminate and enrich, truths about our origin, identity, value and purpose.

    Again, there was no such effort at incriminating him or anybody. Forgive the chutzpah, but I (and I’m speaking for myself solely) do not turn to fanciful mythological tales penned by pre-scientific poets in order to learn about my origin, identity, value and purpose in life. I have science and history to resort to in regard to the first two of these. For the latter two, my personal experience in this world as a human being and a working knowledge of human psychology suffice amply, for now at least. Nor do I accord much credibility to quasi-topographic descriptions that place golden mountain peaks and rivers of treacle in the scenery, or that tell of 30-feet-tall kings and so on. I’m not being dismissive just for the sake of it, but it surely appears as though our standards for gauging the intrinsic worth of things are just at diametrically opposite ends of the spectrum.

    Yes, I do have a long-standing and genuine interest in Indian spirituality, but I do not conflate that with mythology, in a manner similar to what the writer of the article I referred you to above wrote about his faith in Radha-Krsna as God , but that this did not entail him viewing the War of Kurukshetra as historical. Even worse from the myopic viewpoints of some, he does not even accept that Krsna walked his earth five millennia ago. Trust me, he’s not the only Krsna-devotee who thinks that way – several devotee scholars, and some who aren’t scholars as well, do.

    • Vikram Ramsoondur

      Even worse from the myopic viewpoints of some, he does not even accept that Krsna walked this earth five millennia ago.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Ritesh, I find it incredible that you keep quoting a handful of personages who have no independent research of their own to boast of, and who are marginalised by mainline academicians, and expect their ‘evidence’ to be thought of in a way that in effect positions it over and above the more copious and better-researched material that has got even a Vaishnava practitioner like Edwin Bryant to acknowledge that the evidence for India being the original homeland of the Vedic people and the Sanskrit language is just not strong. His verdict on the matter is decisive, for it says, ‘Somewhere in Asia and no more!’

    http://www.edwinbryant.org/

    You can read more about Bryant/Advaita Das, by the way, at his Wikipedia entry below, and also elsewhere on the web.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Bryant_(author)

    Again, perhaps it is a question of standards, but he indubitably qualifies as a scholar and authority far more to me than a person like, say, Vishal Agrawal.

    Lastly, you seem to be just as self-servingly selective in the evidence you afford weight to as those you level criticism at for doing what is, according to you, this very same thing. I have told you time and again that scientists now regard as AN INDISPUTABLE FACT the genetic composition of most modern Indians as a blend of ANI and ASI. But of course, it is easy to see why Danino, you or anybody else would not be able to formulate the same sort of sophism you routinely wield against this widely-accepted truth – it is not possible to do that, so overwhelming is the evidence in that respect. Don’t take my word for it, just do the research and see for yourself.

    Lastly (for now), as for your tedious regurgitation of the stuff written by Danino, Malhotra, Rajaram and others to try and make Witzel look foolish, the last time I checked, it was the latter who was teaching Sanskrit at Harvard University, and not any of his detractors. Sorry, but I place value on intelligence, learning, scholarship and the recognition of all these by learned authorities. As I said somewhere else, the day the majority of Indologists review the notions they have of ancient India, I shall follow suit. But for now, things remain unchanged.

    • Ritesh

      Lastly (for now), as for your tedious regurgitation of the stuff written by Danino, Malhotra, Rajaram and others to try and make Witzel look foolish, the last time I checked, it was the latter who was teaching Sanskrit at Harvard University, and not any of his detractors.

      Witzel had been to India in 2009 for a tour and a number of conferences. Almost all of them were characterized by situations where Witzel was unable to answer most of the questions related to the theories he propagates, and in some cases not even aware of the verses of the Rig Veda he has published so many voluminous studies on. Bhagavan Singh, a Marxist scholar himself published an account of a conference he had with a number of scholars in India – they pretty much humbled him. The interesting account I mention is online here – http://www.vijayvaani.com/FrmPublicDisplayArticle.aspx?id=715.

      I do not equate teaching at Harvard automatically with overarching knowledge and authority in the field(at least in this particular subject). And Witzel’s cold responses in this field, are frequently interlaced with personal attacks, ridicule, which in my opinion, show hostility to any opposing view point. And one such account is here

      More on your genetic evidence later.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        I do not equate teaching at Harvard automatically with overarching knowledge and authority in the field(at least in this particular subject).

        Your opinion on the matter is wholly irrelevant, as are those of the part-timer non-specialists you quote from.

        Besides, you’re linking to an article penned by N. Rajaram as if everyone who follows the debate on Aryan origins isn’t aware of his lack of credibility in the field, a shortcoming which was acknowledged even by a guy like Vishal Agarwal, a zealous opponent of AIT/AMT, a few years ago. And that was a debate to which I was myself a participant, as was Agarwal.

        But given the orientation of the majority of your replies, I should reiterate the fact that I do not subscribe to AIT in its traditional format, as I limpidly explained somewhere else. Go back and re-read that before formulating responses that miss the main point, for I simply cannot be bothered to keep repeating myself incessantly.

      • Vikram Ramsoondur

        And Witzel’s cold responses in this field, are frequently interlaced with personal attacks, ridicule, which in my opinion, show hostility to any opposing view point.

        It seems probable that if the opposing points of view originated from standard academic sources of repute, Witzel, or anyone else in his position, would look at them seriously and deem them worthy of being rebutted at length. However, in the vast majority of cases, contrarian (mis)interpretations seem to come from quarters that are anchored in an ideology with a very noticeable and pronounced slant that is, worse, largely religiously-motivated. Hence, he cannot really be chastised for not affording his intellectual adversaries the status they’d like him to give them, much in the same way scientists like Richard Dawkins and Colin Groves consider it a waste of time, energy and effort engaging in debate with creationists.

        • Ritesh

          It seems probable that if the opposing points of view originated from standard academic sources of repute, Witzel, or anyone else in his position, would look at them seriously and deem them worthy of being rebutted at length

          I don’t think this is the case. If Rajaram was not a very serious opponent, Witzel would not have used the platform of the Indian Marxist fortnightly Frontline to attack Rajaram – again a specific pattern of Witzel’s polemics emerge here – personal attacks(“you don’t know it”), and making the opponents the point of ridicule. Klaus Klostermaier, author of A Survey of Hinduism himself notes this point – Its telling that Witzel used the Indian Marxist Fortnightly Frontline to launch attacks on Rajaram.

          Witzel did not even spare the veteran and respected Indian archaelogist B.B Lal in polemics and criticism. When B.B Lal pointed out the mistranslation of a part of Baudhyayana Sutra((Witzel 1995: 320-21) in a seminar organized by UMASS, Dartmouth in June 2006, he shot back at the professor, “saying that he did not know the difference between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit”!. In BB Lal’s own words –

          But linguists are far ahead of archaeologists in pushing the poor Aryans through the Khyber / Bolan passes into India. In doing so, they would not mind even distorting the original Sanskrit texts. A case in point is that of the well known Professor of Sanskrit at the Harvard University, Professor Witzel. He did not hesitate to mistranslate a part of the Baudhayana Srautasutra (Witzel 1995: 320-21). In 2003 I published a paper in the East and West (Vol. 53, Nos. 1-4), exposing his manipulation. Witzel’s translation of the relevant Sanskrit text was as follows:

          “Aya went eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-Pancalas and Kasi Videha. This is the Ayava(migration).(His other people)stayed at home in the west. His people are the Gandhari, Parasu and Aratta. This is the Amavasava (group).

          Whereas the correct translation is:

          Ayu migrated eastwards. His (people) are the Kuru-Pancalas and the Kasi-Videhas. This is the Ayava (migration). Amavasu migrated westwards. His (people) are the Ghandhari, Parsu and Aratta. This is the Amavasu (migration).

          According to the correct translation, there was no movement of the Aryan people from anywhere in the north-west. On the other hand, the evidence indicates that it was from an intermediary point that some of the Aryan tribes went eastwards and other westwards.

          Professor Witzel and I happened to participate in a seminar organized by UMASS, Dartmouth in June 2006. When I referred, during the course of my presentation, to this wrong translation by the learned Professor, he, instead of providing evidence in support of his own stand, shot at me by saying that I did not know the difference between Vedic and Classical Sanskrit. Should that be the level of an academic debate? (Anyway, he had to be told that I had the privilege of obtaining in 1943 my Master’s Degree in Sanskrit (with the Vedas included), with a First Class First, from a first class university of India, namely Allahabad.)

          I would like to know what caused Witzel to attack such a respected archaeologist personally, especially such a well-established scholar, and to what “bias” can his mistranslation of the Sutras be attributed.

          BB Lal is worth quoting at length, because elsewhere here it was mentioned that “There is no real archaeological evidence which favours an indigenous Aryans model”.

          Then came the master stroke. In 1946, my revered guru Mortimer Wheeler (later knighted) discovered a fortification wall at Harappa and on learning that the Aryan god Indra had been referred to as puramdara (destroyer of forts) he readily pronounced his judgment (Wheeler 1947: 82): “On circumstantial evidence Indra [representing the Aryans] stands accused [of destroying the Harappan Civilization].” In further support of his thesis, he cited certain human skeletons at Mohenjo-daro, saying that these were the people massacred by the Aryan invaders. Thus was reached the peak of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory.

          And lo and behold! The very first one to fall in the trap of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory was none else but the guru’s disciple himself. With all the enthusiasm inherited from the guru, I started looking for the remains of some culture that may be post-Harappan but anterior to the early historical times. In my exploration of the sites associated with the Mahabharata story I came across the Painted Grey Ware Culture which fitted the bill. It antedated the Northern Black Polished Ware whose beginning went back to the 6th-7th century BCE, and overlay, with a break in between, the Ochre Colour Ware of the early 2nd millennium BCE. In my report on the excavations at Hastinapura and in a few subsequent papers I expressed the view that the Painted Grey Ware Culture represented the early Aryans in India. But the honeymoon was soon to be over. Excavations in the middle Ganga valley threw up in the pre-NBP strata a ceramic industry with the same shapes (viz. bowls and dishes) and painted designs as in the case of the PGW, the only difference being that in the former case the ware had a black or black-and-red surface-colour, which, however, was just the result of a particular method of firing. And even the associated cultural equipment was alike in the two cases. All this similarity opened my eyes and I could no longer sustain the theory of the PGW having been a representative of the early Aryans in India. (The association of this Ware with the Mahabharata story was nevertheless sustainable since that event comes at a later stage in the sequence.) I had no qualms in abandoning my then-favourite theory…..

          Edwin Bryant, has actually pointed out the contradictions which exist in multiple interpretations of data provided by scholars who favour a migrant model. He says,

          “Ultimately, the Aryans cannot be satisfactorily identified in the archaeological record as either entering or exiting.The trajectory of Indo-Aryans, indeed the necessity of their very existence, is a linguistic issue, that archeology cannot locate in archaelogical record, without, for all intents and purposes, engaging in special and often complicated pleading”

          “Accordingly, archealogy cannot deny the possibility that Indo-Aryan and Iranian languages might have been spoken in the area of Punjab/Pakistan/Afghanistan such the second, third or even fourth millenium B.C. In fact, archaeologically at least, South Asian archaelogists often draw attention to a cultural continuum that can be traced back as far back as Mehrgarh in the seventh millenium B.C”

          In fact the whole question actually comes down to the chronology of the Vedas, as archaeologists tend to “fit” their data in the considerations of findings from other related areas.

          P.S Among other things, Witzel has authored the profound insight that the sacred Mantra “Om” is used to call one’s ‘wife’ and ‘goat’.
          (Ref: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/2134
          And http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/2164).

          • Vikram Ramsoondur

            Ritesh, the overarching thrust of your argument now seems to point almost entirely on Witzel, despite the fact that the latter is only one out of tens and tens of well-known scholars who oppose indigenism. Of what use really are repeated quotes and counter-quotes? As most people see it, the predominant academic view is that there were at least a few waves of migration into north-western South Asia, and that Sanskrit originates somewhere in the greater region that lies west of modern-day India.

            Isolating a statement Bryant may have made whilst ignoring the broader context is also not the most thoughtful tactic to employ, for the very title of his 2002 paper on the subject is ‘Somewhere in Asia, and no more’

            As a matter of fact, in his concluding paragraph to that rather lengthy essay, this is what he writes: ‘But in so far as one attempts to argue that NW South Asia has the best claim to being the proto-homeland one is, in my view, being as selective and partial in the appropriation of the evidence as Indigenists typically charge other homeland theorists to be. In my view, the homeland view has not advanced much further than Max Muller’s assessment in 1847: “if an answer must be given as to the place where our Aryan ancestors dwelt before their separation….I should say, as I said forty years ago, ‘Somewhere in Asia’ and no more.”

            Besides, you earlier wrote this to me: ‘More on your genetic evidence later.’ You of course know that it isn’t my evidence, but that of seasoned specialists in the biological sciences (Reich, Moorjani, Stepanov etc). I’m still waiting for the riposte, as I mentioned in my last comment.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    “It is, of course, still possible to find genetic studies trying to interpret differences between North and South Indians or higher and lower castes within the invasionist framework, but that is simply because they take it for granted in the first place. None of the nine major studies quoted above lends any support to it, and none proposes to define a demarcation line between tribe and caste. The overall picture emerging from these studies is, first, an unequivocal rejection of a 3500-BP arrival of a “Caucasoid” or Central Asian gene pool. Just as the imaginary Aryan invasion / migration left no trace in Indian literature, in the archaeological and the anthropological record, it is invisible at the genetic level.”

    Danino, especially given his lack of solid, related credentials, should step aside and let the real experts do the job, instead of blurting out fallacies that are soundly contradicted by the latest papers to have been published in Nature and the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. He, and you for that matter, do not even seem to realise that the very same charge you accuse your adversaries of can very easily be levelled against those of your ilk, this time of taking a non-migratory reading of the evidence.

    Better, more parsimonious accounts exists,

    Are you sure you in fact understand the meaning of ‘parsimony’? I’d be interested to know of any ‘parsimonious’ exposition of how IE languages spread, that the Indo-centric participants in the debate may have to propose. But then, if it’s got anything remotely connected to the old Hindu myth of a pre-Kali-yuga worldwide Sanskritic cultural dominance, you can keep it, quite frankly.

    Labeling someone as Hindu nationalist, and then brushing aside the evidence and the arguments they presented and pigeon holing them as “traditionalist” and “chauvinistic” does not convince me at the least, “much less impress anyone” as you put it below when I question Thapar’s historiography.

    The difference between Thapar and the characters whom you consider authoritative lies in that she has, to her credit, a long and distinguished career as a historian at one of India’s most reputed centres of higher learning. In addition, scholars and other people outside India evidently respect her work to a sufficient degree for the U.S. Library of Congress to have, in 2004, appointed her as the first holder of the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South.

    I observe that you tend to focus all the time on verifying the veracity of information that ancient texts present us, questioning traditions but do not focus on deeper truths from the Ithihas and the Puranas that illuminate and enrich, truths about our origin, identity, value and purpose.

    I am answerable to no one but myself for the focus of my interests, and if these do not sit well with you, tough! I’ve also told you what I essentially make of certain claims contained in the aforementioned texts further up.

    But how about you? Have you bothered to conduct some sort of deconstruction of your own motivations? On another thread, you came across as a bigoted homophobe, and your simplistic, lop-sided arguments were resoundingly defeated by other respondents. As far as the comments to this particular article go, you’ve let out the fact that you’re an anti-evolutionist not acquainted with the bulk of definitive direct proof that quite conclusively establishes evolution as fact, and fact that cannot be threatened by the paucity of solid empirical grounding that characterises the customary variety of purported rebuttals emanating from religiously-motivated opponents, such as your own ‘Talking of theory of evolution, it seems incredible to me that you believe it, when we have not seen a single verifiable instance of the same. Is this not blind belief?’ to another poster above. Also, you’ve, in all your posts, displayed a pathological distrust of information flowing from mainstream, standard educational institutes and bodies, preferring instead to almost unquestioningly dwell on the second-hand reviewing of the evidence by peripheral players such as Danino, Rajaram, Malhotra and Agrawal in order to advance your points. At the end of the day, all the people whom you quote have to defend their positions from a platform that, by definition almost, undermines that very subject that informs the backbone of their apologia.

    What these men, or at least some of them, do best is actually little more than mudslinging and indulging in ad hominem attacks against the academic figures whose careers they want to impugn. At the end of the day, though, what it amounts to is not much more than the proverbial dogs barking whilst the caravan rolls on.

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Having expended an appreciable amount of time on this exchange (more time than I ever had on my hands, if truth be told) I reckon the time has arrived to make a concluding statement, insofar as my personal participation in it is concerned, to the effect that even though a number of my contributions have been quite forceful, in frankness, I am not, perhaps astonishingly to many, in the least attached to either of the competing theories. Whether the Aryans were native to the subcontinent, whether they were southern Russians who, at some point, entered the region, or whether they were anything else, is wholly immaterial to me. I favour the viewpoint I have been arguing in defence of for reasons I have either explicitly laid out or obliquely hinted at in my numerous posts to this thread. Regardless, as I remarked in a private conversation with my friend Vivek/Gaura-Vijaya yesterday, I SHALL alter my opinion if, someday, the evidence that supports the alternative hypothesis becomes overwhelming, and if mainline academicians, in their wisdom, proceed to review the prevalent general standpoint as a result. For the moment, however, the material I have been in contact with forces me to adopt the position that is mine at present, and if there does exist somewhere a raft of evidence that supposedly indicates that Hinduism is totally autochthonous to India, I have to admit that, in all honesty, I have yet to see it.

  • Ritesh

    For the moment, however, the material I have been in contact with forces me to adopt the position that is mine at present, and if there does exist somewhere a raft of evidence that supposedly indicates that Hinduism is totally autochthonous to India, I have to admit that, in all honesty, I have yet to see it.

    A new study recently appeared in the American Journal of Human Genetics, which, concludes that “there was no genetic influx 3,500 years ago in the Indian sub-continent” – which implies there was no “migration of the Aryans”.

    The study included Kumarasamy Thangaraj of CCMB, who led the study(he was also one of the co-authors of a research paper highlighted earlier in this discussion). Other participants included researchers from Banaras Hindu University, Chettinad Academy for Research and Education, University of Tartu,University of Geneva Medical School and University of Cambridge.

    “Our study clearly shows that there was no genetic influx 3,500 years ago,” said Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj of CCMB, who led the research team, which included scientists from the University of Tartu, Estonia, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Chennai and Banaras Hindu University.

    “It is high time we re-write India’s prehistory based on scientific evidence,” said Dr Lalji Singh, former director of CCMB. “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India”. Singh, vice-chancellor of BHU, is a coauthor.

    The genetic component which spread beyond India is significantly higher in India than in any other part of world. This implies that this genetic component originated in India and then spread to West Asia and Caucasus,” said Gyaneshwar Chaube of University of Tartu, Estonia.

    The research paper can be viewed here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/75164625/Indian-Diversity-genetic-study-Metspalu-Gyaneshwer-Chaubey-et-al-AJHG-Dec-9-2011

    This is what the ancient texts were telling us all along!

  • Vikram Ramsoondur

    Here’s what the authors deem a justified conclusion in their final paragraph:

    Summing up, our results confirm both ancestry and temporal complexity shaping the still on-going process of genetic structuring of South Asian populations. This intricacy cannot be readily explained by the putative recent influx of Indo-Aryans alone but suggests multiple gene flows to the South Asian gene pool, both from the west and east, over a much longer time span.

    And this is, in not so many words, what I had been hinting at all along. However, the issue is, to all intents and purposes, utterly immaterial and irrelevant in the broader scheme of things, as was made amply clear on several occasions. I suspect that this is more or less the opinion of the other participants to this long-dead-and-buried discussion as well. So basically, you stand alone as an exception in this, for the implications the matter may or may not have on certain facets of history evidently carry immeasurable weight in your estimation, for you to attempt reviving the exchange in this way, when everyone else has, since long, lost interest. 😀

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