Monday, September 28, 2009

What is happening in Chidambaram temple – a report by Hinduism Today.



A Priestly Clan Under Siege

The legendary Dikshitars face a government takeover of Chidambaram Temple, but their profuse trials extend far in time and complexity


It should be an honor second to none. In the heart of many a devout Saivite, there is a dream that arises when one sees Lord Nataraja at the most holy Chidambaram temple. It beckons to let go of all else, to devote life to Him alone. There are a few men born with this opportunity, the dikshitar priests whose lives revolve entirely around His service in His foremost citadel. Earning birth into such hereditary priesthood is regarded as a glorious fulfillment of many lives of bhakti and purification, and so it was centuries ago when the maharajas ruled strong, their empires centered around temples rather than palaces. In those days, a vibrant host of 3,000 priests served at Chidambaram.


These days, the dikshitars, reduced to little more than 300, find themselves as characters in a very different story. Though the massive stones of Lord Siva's temple still hold firmly in place, the walled chambers now witness a depopulated and impoverished priesthood, struggling to perform their work and, in some cases, even to survive. The decline of the dikshitars started centuries ago but has intensified in the last fifty years. The latest and most severe blow was a hostile takeover by the Tamil Nadu government on February 2, 2009, which has sparked outrage, public protests and a cloud of uncertainty, all meeting nothing more than an odd silence from the Indian media.


To shed light on the controversy, Hinduism Today correspondent Rajiv Malik traveled to Chidambaram in March 2009, where intense days awaited. News of his arrival--as the representative of an international publication--spread like wildfire in the town of 60,000 people whose life is deeply tied to the temple. His small hotel room became a press center, with an incessant flux of priests, devotees and leaders of local communities lining up to be interviewed. They all longed to be given a voice, offering well-informed opinions, stories, legends and mystical insights. In this emotionally charged atmosphere, Rajiv Malik was even advised against wandering alone in the evenings.


The Tamil Language Conundrum


The dikshitar's latest woes were brought about by one incident, a catalyst of things long in the making. In 2008, the oduvar Arumugaswami--a singer of sacred Tamil songs called devarams--accused the dikshitars of not allowing him to sing to Lord Nataraja. The story brought extensive negative publicity to the priests. Stripped of most details, the news reached the Indian media portraying the dikshitars as arrogant Sanskritists, contemptuous of the Tamil language and callous toward the people's needs. The case was taken to the government and then to the local courts, causing a commotion of proportions unseen in Chidambaram's recent history.


"This is a fabricated story," decries B. Kadhiresan, a lecturer of English at nearby Annamalai University and a member of the Organization for the Protection of Hindu Temples. "This is the main temple that historically promoted the Tamil language and also the singing of devarams. The songs, scribed on palm leaves, were hidden here in hostile times. When the Cholas took over, the dikshitars handed them the devarams, and the kings made them public."


Why, then, did antagonism arise between the dikshitars and Arumugaswami? Kadhiresan says that it was not a matter of linguistics. "This gentleman wanted to be in the holy chit sabha, the chamber of Lord Nataraja, and sing during the puja. But for mystical and traditional reasons, no one is ever allowed in the sabha during puja except for the dikshitar who is the pujari on that particular day, not even other dikshitars! But Arumugaswami tried to bully his way to the sabha."


The tensions and interests involved more than it is apparent to the average devotee, as it draws on ideological and political factions. In much of South India, there is a strong movement to install Tamil as the language of worship in temples in Tamil Nadu, decrying Sanskrit as outdated and elitist. The supporters of this theory, often Marxists and members of the government, see temples as social institutions, places created to serve the people who gather to practice their beliefs.


The other side of the language debate sees temples as places of power built to invoke the blessings of the Gods, sanctuaries for mystical communion using techniques and precise Sanskrit mantras revealed by the ancient rishis. Abandoning the liturgy of the worship, in their opinion, would cause its potency to wane and the temple itself to fade into a soulless edifice of stone.


It is not a genteel debate, and arguments can be inflammatory. Dr. Thiagarajan Rajagopalam, former head of the Sanskrit department at Presidency College in Chennai and a renowned singer, asks, "The Tamil Nadu government claims to be an atheist government. What right does it have to interfere with matters of worship?"


Discredited and Vulnerable


The incident with the oduvar at Chidambaram provided ample ammunition for the interventionist camp. The dikshitars, a reclusive community with no media savvy, were easy prey to the campaign of disinformation that followed. Rumors abound, a popular one being that the dikshitars wanted to forbid spoken Tamil even in conversations inside the temple complex. TV stations as far as Malaysia showed the dikshitars as a clique of decadent, money-grabbing priests who ran an unkempt temple with filthy walls and unfriendly services. With a sweeping media spin against them, the dikshitars, few of whom speak English, did not stand a chance.


The oduvar, backed by a mandate from the state court, was finally allowed to sing just as he wished, while the dikshitars just stopped the puja and waited before they would proceed. One hot-tempered young dikshitar did not take this well. Far from the eyes of the crowd, he gave Arumugaswami a beating--providing more fuel for the fires of criticism. Dr. Ananda Nataraja, a dikshitar who currently works as a professor of Tamil language at Annamalai University, observes, "That was the mistake of one particular dikshitar. The community tried to protect him, which I think was wrong. The governing body of the dikshitars, however, publicly criticized his actions."


Cries of mismanagement escalated. The temple itself, in its state of relative decay, was pointed to by critics as evidence of poor management. The Hinduism Today team also took notice of the dirty pillars and stained stones. They stand as a paradox, a contrasting background to the priests who, undeniably, have a strong affection for the temple.


A new rumor took flight, its source unknown, about how jewels from Lord Nataraja Himself had been missing, stolen or lost by the priests. Though government officials mentioned this freely in conversations, none would make a formal charge. Still, the cascade of accusations and slander further eroded the standing of the beleaguered priesthood.


A Long-Planned Takeover


The Tamil Nadu government's decades-long interest in Chidambaram Temple is notorious. In India, administration of temples follows state law, not federal law. Tamil Nadu has an estimated 38,000 Hindu temples, with all but the smallest ones run by the government--and Chidambaram was the last big one outside the system.


Back in July, 1983, Hinduism Today reported, "The Tamil Nadu State Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Commission has unveiled a plan, long anticipated by observers of the political scene, to assume the administration of the Chidambaram Nataraja temple." In 1987 the post of executive officer for Chidambaram was created but not implemented. Until now, the judiciary had dismissed all attempts to seize control.


Finally, emboldened by current circumstances, on February 2, 2009 the Tamil Nadu government appointed an Executive Officer with ample powers to oversee the temple in all aspects. On that same evening, the officer arrived at Chidambaram.


Protesting in the Streets


The dikshitars immediately appealed the takeover, but the Chennai high court judge, Ms. Banumathi, upheld the decision. Popular outcry quickly followed.


On March 25, over 6,000 devotees joined a protest march and rally, demanding a reversal of the takeover. Braving the hot weather, a crowd of men, women and children chanted slogans and carried signs demanding, "Leave the temple!" Many waved flags representing Hinduism, with kolams or Nandi, Siva's mount, and often the whole crowd chanted a reverberating "Aum Namasivaya" that resonated along the streets of the small temple-town.


Leaders of the community, who co-organized the event, marched representing their groups, including Sri Kunchitapatam, leader of the Tamil Nadu Hindu Temple Protection Committee, and the BJP's state leader Sri L. Ganesan. Though most participants of the peaceful demonstration came from Tamil Nadu, Siva devotees from all over the world could be seen marching the streets.


Inexplicably, the Hinduism Today news crew found no other reporters present to record the people's opinion, just as with the oduvar incident earlier. Distressed, senior dikshitar Sri N. Srimulalingam lamented, "Not a single English-language newspaper bothered to cover the event. This shows how our media is completely biased and is suppressing the voice and aspirations of dikshitar community." His concerns echoed the insecurity that prevailed among the priests. "There seems to be a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the takeover of Chidambaram Temple. It is one of the strongest pillars of Saivism, and this is going to adversely affect the spiritual rituals and practices."


The march lifted the spirits of those against the takeover, but so far it seems to have had little real effect. Judge Banumathi said she saw no grounds to review her ruling of the case. As far as state law goes, the takeover is now irreversible.


Dr. S.P. Sabharatnam is a world expert in Saiva Agamas, the scriptures that define Saivite worship and its mysticism. He told Hinduism Today, "The dikshitars are a venerable tradition, with the same standing as the Adi Saivas. They are pro-Tamil, though they have been accused otherwise. The take-over of the temple is illegal, unethical and finds no support in holy scripture."


Living for Lord Nataraja


In between a frenetic schedule of meetings, Rajiv found some time to visit the temple as a pilgrim, experiencing it firsthand. He talked to other pilgrims and to a few dikshitars there, who, comfortable in their element, had much to say.


The dikshitars are a temple priesthood like no other in modern India. They bring a sense of timelessness to their work, their tradition and the management of the temple. Little or nothing has changed in their ways in the last centuries, even as much of their world has eroded away. Many pilgrims express the opinion that their most distinguished trait is their degree of devotion. They consider themselves to be the slaves, the keepers, the foremost devotees of Lord Nataraja.


For them, Chidambaram is the center of Lord Siva's universe. During the daily puja, they believe, a pulse is sent to the far reaches of Earth, the life current without which the cosmos would cease to exist.


To a devout Hindu with an open heart, the sublime shakti of Chidambaram Temple is magnificent. The temple halls are hallowed by numerous saints who worshiped here over the centuries; a divine presence is felt everywhere.


Dikshitars perform their pujas in groups of four to six priests. Only one is the main pujari for the day, assigned on a rotating schedule that takes about a year to bring another opportunity. The task is approached with reverent anticipation. In the course of a day, dikshitars perform all tasks, big and small--from exquisite chanting of the Vedas, using a liturgy that is exclusive to Chidambaram, to lighting lamps, carrying offerings and guarding the temple at night. They know of no other life.


Also present are many priests who approach guests, offering services, sometimes with the energetic insistence of an aggressive salesman, sometimes with the noble composure of a seasoned dikshitar. The outstretched hands are unsettling, creating an air of commerce that is not welcomed by most pilgrims and diminishes their regard for the priests. U. Usha, a housewife, complained, "Dikshitars are a little money-minded. They need to change their attitude."


In the traditional system, the relationship between the devotee and the dikshitar is personal, and payment for services is direct. There is little pooled income and the priests must find their own sponsors for the pujas. They are forced to spend much of their time looking for donors, which, according to many priests, is an unfortunate necessity contrary to their heritage.


"My aim in life is to serve Lord Nataraja. He is always giving life and energy. We crave His blessings only," says Ramu Dikshitar, 52. Ramu's bright smile gives way to an expression of anguish when he talks about the dikshitar's financial situation, lightening up again only when he speaks of Lord Nataraja.


Ramu and his family, six in all, live in a single, small, dilapidated room (see photo on page 28). Resting on the room's only furniture, a swing-like board held by chains, with his two sons who are apprentices of the priestly craft, Ramu wept while he spoke. "Our whole aim is to serve Lord Nataraja and his devotees. We have never demanded any money from the government. We want to do our pujas with freedom. We are facing a very critical situation today. The Hindu community should come forward. We are not thieves or robbers. We are in the service of Lord Nataraja. Please help us."


A typical dikshitar makes between Rs. 1,000 and 2,000 a month--or US$42 at most to support his entire family. The temple's donations in the form of food and rice grain are shared by all. The rice comes from lands that belong to the temple, but only a handful of farmers actually pay their dues. Even when they do pay, they do so with inferior grains. "I do not think many of the people who criticize the dikshitars as exploiters would be able to eat the rice which they consume every day," observes S. Rajasekaran, a leading local businessman. "If you see it, you don't feel like eating it at all."


There is hope in the hearts of a few that the takeover might improve the economic situation of the priesthood. In most temples run by the government, priests have a fixed salary. But each temple follows a different arrangement, and for Chidambaram this is not in the plan so far. The government's investments are limited to improving the grounds, and a new official hundi (donation box) is thought to be diverting to the state donations that would normally go to the priests, making the situation worse for them.


The Dikshitars' History


The dikshitars' predicament is sad but also puzzling. This is, after all, a legendary temple, with an original staff of 3,000 priests--among whom, it is said, was Lord Siva Himself. It was in this grove of tillai trees that saints Vyagrapada and Patanjali worshiped the Lingam and witnessed Siva's unsullied ananda tandava, the cosmic dance of bliss. Mr. V. Sundaram, a former officer of the Indian Administrative Service and a journalist, shed some light on the history of the dikshitars and the reasons behind their hardships.


According to him, in ancient times, each reigning maharaja successively added to the wealth and glory of his kingdom's temples, which were the epicenters of their empires. Temples were where the kingdom's populace worshiped, but also socialized, conducted business and met with government officials. Temples were unmediated courts of law, where truthful contract agreements could be made, because in front of the Deities few would dare to lie.


In those times, the priesthoods of major temples were partially sponsored by the raja's government, while retaining a high degree of independence. No temple would deny the monarch's personal requests or affront temporal power, but tradition itself--the system of jatis, or occupational clans--created a separation between the government and the clergy. A temple's administration stayed in the hands of its priests.


Mr. V. Sundaram explains that Lord Siva Nataraja of Chidambaram was given lands and properties that would serve as an endowment to the temple, a source of steady income designed to last forever. Sometimes, gifts were given to the dikshitars as a group. Copper plates found by the Archeological Survey of India record a gift from King Rajendra Chola to the dikshitars in 1120 ce, a whole village awarded in recognition of their devotion. By the early 1800s, the temple owned 5,500 acres. Because the priests are not allowed to work in agriculture themselves, peasant families grew crops on Nataraja's lands, paying part of their harvest as rent. The system provided bountiful offerings and tranquility to the priests.


When the maharajas fell, the British East India Company initially upheld the existing system. They were inclined to respect the private property records of the late empires, including the vast expanses of land owned by temples. A temple's land was traditionally registered under the name of the main Deity--at Chidambaram, it was "Nataraja." But the British, who were disdainful of Hinduism and ignorant of the ways of the land, helped pave the way for usurpers and opportunists. It came to pass that any person named "Nataraja" could claim some of the temple's land as his, and be granted lawful rights.


Gradually, families who lived on temple lands became less inclined to pay their rents, going from a third, to a fifth, to a tenth, to nothing. Many claimed (and won) hereditary rights over the land, arguing that their family had occupied it for generations. Ancient laws, which decreed that the estate of a single person with no heirs should be given to Lord Nataraja, were spurned and ignored. With landed revenues depleted, the temple priests fell to a state of uncertainty and near pauperdom.


The Priests Today


If in the old days 3,000 priests worked to keep the temple clean and the vibration pristine, the diminished ranks of today, with just 373, are woefully deficient. In fact, much of the criticism aimed at the dikshitars is a direct result of their impoverishment and decimated ranks. It is a vicious cycle that only brings further decay.


There are, among the dikshitars, some who face the challenge with a full heart and dignified forbearance. S. Kailasa Sankara Dikshitar, 52, keeps an inner perspective, seeing not financial, but mystical missteps behind the problems. "Since 1957, we dropped many of the traditional ways. We do not perform a ghee abhishekam to the sphatika (crystal) lingam anymore. We abandoned certain rites that are expensive. We have even missed kumbhabhishekams and performed them on the wrong dates. Our rites deal with forces of the cosmos. I feel that if we solve this, it will have a positive effect on the Tamil people, in Sri Lanka and in the world."


D. Raja Dikshitar, a young mystic of 25, explains what it means to be a dikshitar, whether the times are good or bad: "We are connected to the Lord all the time. My life and my temple activities cannot be separated. Even as babies, when we drank milk from our mothers, we were creating a commitment to this divine task."


A New Commissioner


Mrs. N. Thirumagal, from the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments, is the strong woman now in charge of the male hereditary priesthood. She began her work quietly, taking on the least controversial projects first--with one exception. She placed a hundi in Chidambaram Temple, defying a centuries-old tradition, a point of contention that is seen by many as physical evidence of who is now in charge. But Mrs. Thirumagal has otherwise tried to listen to the opinions of the dikshitars and find common ground. "We wanted to build a tank at a small Sri Vinayaka shrine in the corner, where breaking coconuts has become untidy. Since the dikshitar who is the pujari of that shrine objected, we cancelled the project," she shares.


Emotions still run high in the chaotic and wavering moods common to the aftermath of confrontation. Some dikshitars avoid any contact with the new commissioner; others have gone so far as honoring her with a shawl. Mrs. Thirumagal is not the stereotypical stone-hearted, anti-Hindu marxist, but a devout Hindu, and that blurs the lines of the quarrel.


Still, her commitment to her job is unflinching. She speaks with pride of her previous work at Kapaleshwar Temple in Mylapore: "During my term as a deputy commissioner there, the temple's yearly income went from US$312,000 to US$1.5 million. I also renovated the temple. How is it possible that Chidambaram, a world-famous temple, had an insignificant income last year?" Kapaleshwar Temple is today often mentioned as an example of good governance, with high standards for cleanliness and organization.


She has ambitious plans, mostly related to administration and maintenance. Some of the improvements, such as cleaning, are widely supported. But her financial strategies will change the dynamics of Chidambaram and put an end to customs that date back to the Chola empire, conforming it to the other government-run temples in the state. The main innovations are charging for admission and creating VIP passes with special privileges--which are common in India.


G. Kunjithapatham, 59, President of the Hindu Temple Protection Committee and one of the organizers of the rally, summarizes the most common concerns. "We go to the temple to worship the Lord and to have His darshan. In front of God, everybody is the same. In this temple, so far, there is no distinction between VIPs and commoners. Here, anyone can stand anywhere and have darshan for as long as they want."


V. Chandrasekaran, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Brahmins Association, adds, "All the pujas here are performed at their proper time. Even if a minister comes, the pujas will not be disturbed; once the temple is closed, no one is allowed. But in other temples, if an important official comes, they tell the archakas to open the temple. Pujas are delayed for hours, waiting for such VIPs. At Chidambaram, the dikshitars respect not just the money but also the devotion of the pilgrims."


The dikshitars are singular in their organization, one of the world's oldest functioning democracies. In their assemblies, each dikshitar has one vote, sometimes giving equal weight to the opinions of father and son. It is still uncertain how control will now be shared with the new commissioner.


Though the first months of the new power-sharing arrangement brought few changes, uncertainty and fear of the future are common among the dikshitars interviewed. S. Thillai Nagarathina Dikshitar explained, "If the temple stops making prasadam food available to us, we will be in trouble. The temple provides food to all the 373 families, regardless of status and position. Two thirds of the families are so poor that they cannot survive without the food they get from the temple."


Uncertain Future


The next step, according to B. Kumar, the dikshitars' lawyer, is to take the case to federal courts. The argument is that the dikshitars are a minority protected by constitutional laws. "It is a crystal-clear case. The rights of denominations are safeguarded under the constitution. The bench said that the podhu dikshitars are a denomination and are entitled to the management of their institution."In Indian law, denominations, or micro-minorities as they are sometimes called, are small groups that share a common heritage and are the living embodiment of a tradition that needs to be preserved. As B. Kumar explains, "This is not a temple where there are just ten pujaris. They are 373 families. That is why, in 1952, the state bench decreed that the podhu dikshitars are entitled to remunerate themselves using the donations given to the temple. It is a community prohibited by tradition from taking any other remunerated job. If a podhu dikshitar takes any other avocation, he is disqualified from sharing the proceeds."


B. Kumar also considers the financial situation of the dikshitars an important point in their defense against the accusations of mismanagement. According to him, "It is incorrect to say that the dikshitars are living in luxurious conditions, or getting rich. This distinction is very vital. No act of mismanagement was ever proven in court. "


The proceedings of the case may take years. Meanwhile, Chidambaram is likely to remain under governmental control.


For the Tamil Nadu government, this means that all noteworthy temples are under state management, but only as far as the Hindu religion is concerned--the houses of worship of all other religions have so far been left undisturbed. Our correspondent Rajiv Malik inquired if there is a plan to continue to also take over mosques and churches. Mrs. Thirumagal said, "I cannot comment on why only Hindu institutions or temples are taken over. It is basically a government's decision. But wherever mismanagement is taking place, we will take over." It is a position that draws criticism. Dr. Thiagarajan Rajagopalam denounces, "If the government is taking over Hindu temples, can it claim to be a secular government? Under the garb of secularism, the government is silent about the administration of any temple of other religions. This is wrong. A full takeover of property that does not belong to the government is tantamount to stealing the temple."


The dikshitar's--and Chidambaram's--future is unsettled. How will their woes be solved, and how will their heritage survive, only Lord Nataraja may say. All is His dance, and though some of His steps are fierce, the diskhitars know well it is also an infinite dance of bliss.


T.R. Ramesh, the Dikshitars' Representative


What is it, in Indian law, that allows the government to take over religious institutions?

The draconian section 45 of Tamil Nadu's Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Act provides sweeping powers to appoint an Executive Officer to "manage the secular affairs" of a public temple. But denominations, like the dikshitars, are protected by the Indian Constitution, entitled to survive and maintain their unique identity.


Is Chidambaram the only temple fighting against intervention in Tamil Nadu?

Chidambaram is the last one, except for temples belonging to maths, which can only be audited, not managed by the state.


Why oppose the government?

First, because with their interference corruption becomes widespread. Second, the government is interested only in revenues. They have no intention of observing tradition or preserving our rites and culture. Temple revenues, which are offerings made to the Gods, are often diverted to non-sacred or even anti-religious initiatives. Third, the government is known to interfere with the mystical practices, setting rules for pujas and festivals that are not traditional. Fourth, administrative officers, ignoring the community, never consult the priests or local people.


Is the staff of some temples satisfied?

No, not even temples with income exceeding millions of rupees. Their revenues are not properly collected and later are misused. Temple property is sold surreptiously or leased out for a pittance. Most of them become highly commercialized; their festivals and rituals are changed with the intention of making them more popular, to attract more visitors.


Does Indian law have similar rules for other religions?

There are specific laws to control wakf properties (belonging to mosques). But they have never been applied. Nor has a Christian church ever suffered an intervention.


N. Thirumagal, the Government's Commissioner

What is your background as a temple commissioner?

I was a law graduate and practiced as a lawyer for seven years. More recently, I managed the Kapaleshwar Temple. I work at a state department overseeing Hindu religious institutions, where we manage around 38,000 temples in Tamil Nadu. Most big temples are being administered by deputy commissioners like me. The department is headed by a senior officer of the Indian Administrative Service, but I am not affiliated with the IAS.


What has changed since the takeover?

We installed a hundi, and also focused on cleaning. There were dirty walls and garbage. We also fixed the drainage system.


What are the future plans?

We are getting in touch with those who have leases of land belonging to Chidambaram. We want to make sure their leases are properly paid. We want also to improve the lighting in the temple, set up a security system and develop the surrounding gardens. We plan to create a website, renovate the 1000-pillared mandapam which is today closed, and provide proper facilities for visitors.


Will the dikshitars be consulted about your decisions?

The administration of the temple will be done by us together. They will be heard as trustees. The administration is run by me as the executive officer with a trustee board. We will look for agreement in our relationship with the dikshitars.


What will change for the dikshitars regarding the donations?

I do not think they will be much affected economically. Whatever is offered to them on the puja plates would be available to them. I guarantee there will be no change in that. Some archakas can also be paid servants, receiving both a salary and the puja tray offerings. Revenue coming out of hundi will be utilized for the development of the temple. In fact, we do not know what is the exact income of the Chidambaram Temple.



Related posts:-

Shiva - Vishnu at Chidambaram – a cosmic scene unveiled.

Cosmic egg- Nataraja and Chakratthazhwar in unison!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Indians belong to India – No Aryan invasion!


The just released findings of the genetic study by Harvard and CCMB researchers had strongly refuted the Aryan- Dravidian divide and the invasion theories.


The researchers are in a mood to accept that the study of our past requires a multi-disciplinary approach as it is quite old. In my own understanding of past of Bharatha varsha, from our indigenous texts, here are my views which I think must be borne in mind in fine-tuning the insights of this research.


  • It is said that the high FST among Indian groups could be explained if many groups were founded by a few individuals. Our contention is that the first inhabitants were rishis who were the maanasa puthras of Brahma or formed on their own or 'planted' in the earth to people the earth. They were the poorva rishis who became the Gothra pravathakas. Already discussed in the following post:-

Gothras & common genetic ancestry of all Indians.


  • As per this narration found in most texts of Hindu dharma, group maanasa puthras were responsible for creating distinct groups of people in this Manvanthra that started with the rise of Himalayas. The Gothra rishis were many and they created distinct groups within these people. There were no marriage relations within the same gothra. There were strict restrictions in marriage relations followed until the current generation. So there is less scope for variation.


  • This might have resulted in recessive diseases within groups according to researchers, but at the same time these groups were not exposed to many worst diseases that are rampant in the West. For instance the kind of various cancer related diseases are unheard of in Indian masses.  From astrological point of view, I can say that Jupiter has not been adverse in most lives of Hindus all these generations. But I can not say the same for the upcoming generations. The exposure is there due to rise in inter-marriages which have no sanction in Sanatana dharma.


  • The land mass of these people was not what it is now. There was no Bay of Bengal some 9000 years ago. The land was very huge stretching from Africa and extending to Australia. The present southern boundary of India was made 5000 years ago when the sea rose for the 3rd time in the Indian Ocean. I have discussed this with textual evidence many times in this blog.


  • Such vast landmass was home for a variety of groups of people who moved out in course of time due to survival or other reasons.


  • The other reason I have in mind is what I think explains the connection between ANI (Ancestral North Indians) and the people of the Middle east.


  • The proof of this factor is found in Valmiki Ramayana 1-55 – 2 & 3. Viswamittra wanted to take possession of Shabala, the sacred Cow of sage Vasishta. In order to foil the efforts of Viswamittra, the sacred cow capable of fulfilling any wish created Yavanas and Mlecchas along with other sects – so says Ramayana.


  • "From the 'hums' of her mooing Kaamboja-s similar to sunshine are born, from her udder Pahlava-s wielding weaponry are born, from the area of her privates Yavana-s, likewise from her rectal area Shaka-s, and from her hair-roots Mleccha-s, Haariitaa-s along with Kirataka-s are issued forth. [Valmiki Ramayana, 1-55-2, 3]


  • These people are the ones whose connection to India is not yet understood by anyone in the world. The descendants of these people – particularly yavanas (greeks) and Mlecchas (of Persian gulf) are found to share some connection with North Indians, according to this study.


  • The Ramayana revelation is that they were indeed created by or brought into picture by sage Vasishta at the time of fight with Viswamittra.


  • There is yet another mention of 3 groups of people driven out of the country (Bharatah varsha) by King Sagara, the 20th king in the lineage of Rama (Ikshvakus) of which Rama was the 40th king. (Valmiki Ramayana 1-70- 33 & 34) That was the first instance of fighting among close families which was retaliated by getting them thrown out of the country to the fringes. Middle east, Caspian sea locales were the boundaries of Bharata varhsa in those days. These people were stripped of their "Arya-hood" of living a noble life and were restrained from following Vedic dharma. That is why they were regarded as Mlecchas.


  • These people were later requisitioned by Vasishta to fight against Viswamittra. From then onwards, we can find acceptance of Mlecchas in Hindu society for help in wars. They have participated in Mahabharata war too.


  • The connection between north Indians and Middle East and Europe can thus be analyzed.


  • I am planning to bring out an article on this on the basis of contribution to astrology by these Mlecchas and yavanas. Perhaps that will bring a better insight to the connection between Indians and Middle East people which was misinterpreted all these decades from the flawed perspective of Max Muller.


  • Given below are the comments by Dr Kalyaraman, followed by the info and links to the study results.


  • As Dr Kalyanaraman has stated, the study has reiterated our contention that this Land of Bharat was very ancient, was the root of the only Dharma of all worlds and it must be our endeavor to preserve this Dharma.



-         jayasree




From the report:-


We propose that the high FST among Indian groups could be explained if many groups were founded by a few individuals, followed by limited gene flow. This hypothesis predicts that within groups, pairs of individuals will tend to have substantial stretches of the genome in which they share at least one allele at each SNP. We find
signals of excess allele sharing in many groups.

They go on:

Six Indo-European- and Dravidian speaking groups have evidence of founder events dating to more than 30 generations ago...including the Vysya at more than 100 generations ago...Strong endogamy must have applied since then (average gene flow less than 1 in 30 per generation) to prevent the genetic signatures of founder events from being erased by gene flow. Some historians have argued that 'caste' in modern India is an 'invention' of colonialism in the sense that it became more rigid under colonial rule. However, our results indicate thatmany current distinctions among groups are ancient and that strong endogamy must have shaped marriage patterns in India for thousands of years


Details  in




Two features of the inferred history are of special interest. First, the ANI and CEU form a clade, and further analysis shows that the Adygei, a Caucasian group, are an outgroup...Many Indian and European groups speak Indo-European languages, whereas the Adygei speak a Northwest Caucasian language. It is tempting to assume that the population ancestral to ANI 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 mixture.




Comments from Dr Kalyanraman:-


We all are aware on social endogamy and caste division of India and this paper is a solid evidence that the sanatana dharma is deeply rooted. It can be also true that there are two roots of major civilizations.



But there are several shortcomings in the study reported in Nature of 24 Sept. 2009:

1) They have used population Santhal on the centre of "ancestral
South India" which is not correct. ASI should be recalculated keeping real South Indian populations. Santhal is an East Indian population which has a East Asian genetic input.

2) The main problem of this paper is showing the
upper caste closer to Central Asians and Europeans which is the same fault, which has been done by Bamshad and Stoneking in their older papers on India! The North Indian ancestry which they have misinterpreted as derived from central Asians and Europeans is actually is the genetic component of Indus people who have migrated from west to east after drying up the river Sarasvati. 

3) The dates of any founding lineage can't be calculated by the method used in this paper becase SNP's don't give any algorithm to calculate the time. Therefore,
we think that south as well as north ancestry is quite old and needs further exploration.



It is clear that the genetic studies consistently point to

1) indigenous evolution of the present-day Bharatiya and

2) demolish the Aryan-invasion/migration as a myth.


This myth was indeed a creation of indology, as Eurocentric academics sought to find their origins and ended up in India and could not stomach the possibility that India had an indigenously-founded and evolved civilization ca. 5th millennium BCE which ran counter to their wrongly perceived 'white-man's burden' of civilizing forest-dwellers and cattle-keepers who could not even domesticate cultivation of food-crops.


Read on…


Indigenous Indians: genetic studies

Here are three genetic study reports. Two reports on Indian population genetics appeared in Nature of 24 Sept. 2009 and another on the origins of Zebu in South Asia in Molecular Biology and Evolution, Sept. 21, 2009. These studies throw light on the indigenous evolution of human population and zebu cattle in ancient India. David Reich et al., Reconstructing Indian population history (Nature, Vol. 461, 24 Sept. 2009)'s-invisible-threads Aravinda Chakravarti,Tracing India's invisible threads (Nature, Vol. 46, 24 Sept. 2009) (Shanyuan Chen et al, Zebu cattle are an exclusive legacy of the South Asian Neolithic, Molecular Biology and Evolution, OUP, Sept. 21, 2009). Zebu is depicted on Indus script (Sarasvati hieroglyphs) and is often recognized as the signature-tune of Indian connections in Mesopotamian civilization finds of the 4th-5th millennium BCE.


Earlier genetic reports include the following, detailing ongoing genetic researches in many scientific institutions:



Dr. Petraglia (University of Oxford):  "Today, humans are concerned with the effects of burgeoning population size and climate change.  By pulling together an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars, we address the correspondence between environmental change, population size increase and technological innovations in prehistory.  Our research programme sets a new research agenda for those who wish to understand the prehistory of India, but also to those investigating similar issues worldwide. Our study, centering on archaeological sites across South Asia, and includingnew field research in the Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh, finds that microlithic technologies are much earlier than assumed, and go back to at least 35,000 years ago. There are few better places to conduct this research than in India.  India is blessed with a rich archaeological record that can be used to test many theories of human adaptation and survival."

Dr. Gyaneshwer Chaubey (
Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu, Estonia): The extremely interesting outcome of this research is  finding the same result by genetics, palaeoenvironmental  as well as archaeological researches. The high genetic diversity in South Asian populations came from the large number of people who were already present in the subcontinent 35 thousand years ago. It is also notable that the South Asians have highest number of maternal lineages coming out directly from the root. We observed that the most of such lineages have an emergence time around 35 thousand years. The archaeological and palaeo-environmental findings reached to the same conclusions suggesting a population expansion before LGM (last glacial maxima). It supports the indigenous South Asian in-situ development of maternal gene pool in to the subcontinent rather than any major influx out of the subcontinent. This study stress the need of interdisciplinary approach for reconstruction of the complex population histories of South Asia, which needs to be resolved through the interaction of genetics, anthropology, archaeology and linguistic approaches.




Aryan-Dravidian divide a myth: Study




HYDERABAD: The great Indian divide along north-south lines now stands blurred. A path breaking study by Harvard and indigenous researchers on

ancestral Indian populations says there is a genetic relationship between all Indians and more importantly, the hitherto believed ``fact'' that Aryans and Dravidians signify the ancestry of north and south Indians might after all, be a myth.

``This paper rewrites history... there is no north-south divide,'' Lalji Singh, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and a co-author of the study, said at a press conference here on Thursday.

Senior CCMB scientist Kumarasamy Thangarajan said there was no truth to the Aryan-Dravidian theory as they came hundreds or thousands of years after the ancestral north and south Indians had settled in India.

The study analysed 500,000 genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states. All the individuals were from six-language families and traditionally ``upper'' and ``lower'' castes and tribal groups. ``The genetics proves that castes grew directly out of tribe-like organizations during the formation of the Indian society,'' the study said. Thangarajan noted that it was impossible to distinguish between castes and tribes since their genetics proved they were not systematically different.

The study was conducted by CCMB scientists in collaboration with researchers at Harvard Medical School,
Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. It reveals that the present-day Indian population is a mix of ancient north and south bearing the genomic contributions from two distinct ancestral populations - the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and the Ancestral South Indian (ASI).

``The initial settlement took place 65,000 years ago in the Andamans and in ancient south India around the same time, which led to population growth in this part,'' said Thangarajan. He added, ``At a later stage, 40,000 years ago, the ancient north Indians emerged which in turn led to rise in numbers here. But at some point of time, the ancient north and the ancient south mixed, giving birth to a different set of population. And that is the population which exists now and there is a genetic relationship between the population within India.''

The study also helps understand why the incidence of genetic diseases among Indians is different from the rest of the world. Singh said that 70% of Indians were burdened with genetic disorders and the study could help answer why certain conditions restricted themselves to one population. For instance, breast cancer among Parsi women, motor neuron diseases among residents of Tirupati and Chittoor, or sickle cell anaemia among certain tribes in central India and the North-East can now be understood better, said researchers.

The researchers, who are now keen on exploring whether Eurasians descended from ANI, find in their study that ANIs are related to western Eurasians, while the ASIs do not share any similarity with any other population across the world. However, researchers said there was no scientific proof of whether Indians went to Europe first or the other way round.

Migratory route of Africans

Between 135,000 and 75,000 years ago, the East-African droughts shrunk the water volume of the lake Malawi by at least 95%, causing migration out of Africa. Which route did they take? Researchers say their study of the tribes of Andaman and Nicobar islands using complete mitochondrial DNA sequences and its comparison those of world populations has led to the theory of a ``southern coastal route'' of migration from East Africa through India.

This finding is against the prevailing view of a northern route of migration via Middle East, Europe, south-east Asia, Australia and then to India.






One dose does not fit all Indians




Hyderabad: The paper Reconstructing Indian population history, which appeared in the September 24 issue of Nature, has medical implications for the nation's inhabitants. It will also have socio-political ramifications since it undermines the purported Aryan-Dravidian divide that continues to dominate popular consciousness, says Lalji Singh, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. The institute was part of the international research team which conducted the genetic study.


What are the medical implications of the findings?
We have found that India is genetically not a single large population, but a combination of smaller isolated populations. We understand that the incidence of genetic diseases among Indians is different from populations in the rest of the world.


Will the findings have an impact on the pharma sector?
Pharmaceutical companies are worried because the findings suggest that there cannot be a single medicine for all the people. Since India comprises smaller groups of people with different genetic structures, drug trials should take into account the ethnicity of a population under study.


The findings about the so-called Aryans or the North-South divide are politically sensitive. What does the paper say?
We have strong genetic evidence that today's South Indians and North Indians have a common ancestry. The Ancestral South Indians and the Ancestral North Indians were migrants from Africa thousands of years ago (which predates the coming of the Aryans and the subsequent confinement of the Dravidians in the South). Our findings do not agree with racial theories such as those propounded by scholars like (German philologist and Orientalist) Max Müller.

Does that mean there were no Aryans?
Aryans could have been a group of noble people within the Indian community. But one thing we should remember is that our research focused on pre-historic ancestry, meaning the ancestry prior to the evolution of language or writing (the categorisations of Aryan or Indo-European and Dravidian are primarily linguistic). The historic (linguistic) ancestry will, again, be completely different. We conducted the research to find the ancestral Indian.


What will be the impact of the findings on facts like the wide variance in skin colour and language among Indians?
Skin colour is a different issue. We can find out the reasons behind the difference in skin colour and we will do that in our next project. But colour need not be constant and can change due to subsequent genetic mutations. Language, definitely, is an important thing and the issue here is about the Indo-European language theory. In 1786, Sir William Jones, an employee of the East India Company came up with this name (Indo-European) after noting similarities between European languages and Sanskrit. But both must have evolved from an ancestral, primitive


Related posts:-


Defunct Aryan Invasion theory – New findings.

Who is Dravida? - Shun the Dravidan identity.

Who is Aryan? - The conspiracy behind the AIT.

No Aryan and no Dravidian either!

Giving life to Aryan Invasion theory?


Water in moon – but any water in Mars??

Two celestial entities, Moon and Mars are in news. Though the news about water in moon confirmed by ISRO and NASA is widely reported, the news on whether or not water played a role in making Martian surface look red seems to have gone under-reported.

Astrologically, these two information are of interest to me.

That moon is a ‘watery’ planet is well known tenet of astrology.

In similar vein we say that Mars and Sun are fiery grahas. Other elements are connected to other planets too.

When we say that moon is watery or Mars is fiery, it is on the basis of Name- Form- Attribute of anything and everything in the created world as explained in Chandogya Upanishad.

Explaining this principle with reference to water and moon,

water is cool, it can be heated up, it flows, it has no shape, it transports, it is wavy, it changes, it mirrors, it reflects, it absorbs, it is easily polluted and so on.

According to Vedantha, anything that exhibits the above qualities is watery element. All things that share these qualities are similar in name, form and function / attribute.

Mind has watery quality.

Mind can be cool, or gets hot with anger and lust, it is not steady as it flows on all directions, has no shape, it transports ideas, it is wavy and wavering, it changes soon, it reflects the inner self like the mirror, it absorbs thoughts and views, can be polluted easily and so on.

Similar is the tendency of Moon. All the above attributes can be applied to moon. Water is unstable. Mind is unstable and moon is unstable as it changes its shape and position constantly.

But we know that the changing phase of moon is about how it is perceived, though its shape remains same and full always.

If one realizes the same for the mind too, that the mind is robust and strong and only is “seen” to be changing due to perceptions, one becomes a master of his Mind.

Due to these reasons moon, mind and water are treated as equals. The name, form and attribute are common to these. By this it is to be known that there must be ‘water’ in these things in their physical manifestations.

Our seers perceived water in Moon by this logic.

The lordship of moon over the watery sign of cancer makes it a completely watery entity.

In contrast, Mars is a fiery planet.

It is presiding over 2 signs – one fiery (Aries) and another watery (scorpio).

However the basic nature of Mars identified in astrology is fieriness.

According to studies, water once existed on Mars.

Scientists are not sure if water exists even now in some form in that planet.

There is an opinion that water molecules gave the red colour – by hastening the process of rusting of the iron particle of the Martian soil – to say in layman language.

But the recent study indicated that the red color of the surface is due to winds that spread the sands.

Astrologically speaking, Martian color must be due to the fiery element that went into its formation. Mars is essentially fiery planet – a kind of replica of sun in its formative years of birth.

Water is a secondary property. Scorpio, the watery sign of Mars is identified with 8th house properties of death and dirt or marsh lands infested with dangers. From this it is inferred that water led to its death or decay than helping it in making a better place.

Going by the color stipulations for the 2 signs of Mars, it is basically red due to its formative reasons (Aries, the Moola trikona of Mars is red).

Water added, gives it yellow or golden tint. Scorpio is identified with these two colors.

The logic of this is that, the predominant Martian color of red is due to its texture of sand and rocks, independent of water connection. There may be regions of golden or yellow tint in the Martian surface which may have had water components sometime in the past or presently buried in them in some form.

The search for such areas on Mars may yield results on water components.

- jayasree



Water in moon.

In a landmark discovery, scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the moon, courtesy ISRO and India's maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-I, the NASA said on Thursday.

Instruments aboard three separate spacecrafts, one of them the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a NASA instrument onboard Chandrayaan-I revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small, it added.

"Water ice on the moon has been something of a holy grail for lunar scientists for a very long time," said Jim Green,
director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

"This surprising finding has come about through the ingenuity, perseverance and international cooperation between
NASA and the India Space Research Organisation," he said.

From its perch in lunar orbit, NASA said M3's state-of-the-art spectrometer measured light reflecting off the moon's surface at infrared wavelengths, splitting the spectral colours of the lunar surface into small enough bits to reveal a new level of detail in surface composition.

When the M3 science team analysed data from the instrument, they found the wavelengths of light being absorbed were consistent with the absorption patterns for water molecules and hydroxyl.

"For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to water and hydroxyl-bearing materials," Carle Pieters, M3's principal investigator from Brown University said.



Wind, not water, clue to Mars' red colour

Mars' distinctive red colour could be the result of thousands of years of wind-borne sand particles colliding with one another, a new study says.

Planetary scientists claim that Mars' red colour is caused when a dark form of iron called magnetite oxidises into a reddish-orange form called haematite.

Some say water caused the oxidation while some blame the ultraviolet rays.

Now a team of astronomers at the Aarhus University in Denmark has claimed that the trigger may be wind and not rust.

To simulate the wind transport of sand in the laboratory, the scientists sealed tiny particles of magnetite and quartz -- a mineral present on both earth and Mars -- in a glass flask filled with carbon dioxide.

For several months, they mechanically tumbled it like clothes in a dryer, noticing that the flask got redder over time as more of the magnetite changed into haematite.

The astronomers suspect that the constant collisions split the quartz grains apart, exposing chemically reactive surfaces that oxidise the particles of magnetite, the New Scientist reported.

"On Mars, quartz and haematite particles could collide while being blown about by winds in dust devils and global dust storms,"

team leader Jonathan Merrison said. Assuming there was not enough water on early Mars to rust the planet, the wind might have taken just a few hundred thousand years to transform it from a charcoal colour to red, according to the astronomers. Experts have welcomed the findings published in the latest edition of Icarus journal. Joel Hurowitz of Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, called the work "interesting".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Defunct Aryan Invasion theory – New findings.

A recent research in the sands of the Harappan sites further confirm that the settlements have ceased to exist in course of time due to the drying up of the river and not due to any invasion by "Aryans" driving out the inhabitants to the South. The details of this research can be found below. An article by Dr N.S. Rajaram also is produced below on the state of collapse of 'research' on Indology, particularly the Aryan Invasion theory.


Thinking of the shifting of people from dry environs, I am reminded of the astrological stipulations for travel which invariably mention that such stipulations need not be adhered to in times of famine when people migrate to other places for survival.


One such dosha is the 'Prati shukra-Bhowma-Budha dosha' which predicts hardships to people if they travel towards the directions in which the planets Venus, Mars and Mercury are seen in the signs denoting the specific directions. From Aries onwards the signs are allotted directions in the order East, south, west and north that are repeated. For example, if Venus is in Leo, the direction of Leo is east. One must not travel towards east as long as Venus is in Leo. Like this it is noted for other planets.


The exception to this dosha is applicable to people leaving their places during famine. This shows that people have migrated and settled in other places in times of famine.


The Harappan settlements were dependant on a disappearing river. If we go backwards in history, we find the information Mahabharata about the migrating people of Dwaraka at the time of deluge (at the end of Kali yuga, 5000 years ago) along a river that descended from North. In all probability, the Harappans were the people of Dwaraka who settled along the river after the deluge in Dwaraka.






The recent article "Harappan collapse" by Peter Clift contributes specifically by confirming scientifically that Ghaggar-Hakra river (Sarasvati) ceased to flow in the period 3000 to 2000 BC around Fort Abbas in the Pakistani Punjab, based on radiocarbon dating of freshwater gastropod shells and wood from the pits excavated by his team of geologists. He also mentions that this find is confirmed by Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) method.

Sarasvati: settlement reconnaissance in UP and Haryana by RN Singh, CA Petrie et al (2008)

Man and Environment XXXIII (2): 71-87 (2008) Abstract

Scholars have known of major palaeo channels that stretch across Haryana and Rajasthan in India and into Cholistan in Pakistan for over 130 years. They are generally believed to be the traces of a substantial glacier fed river (or rivers) that once flowed across these northern plains and this reconstruction is seemingly confirmed by the existence of numerous archaeological sites along these relic water courses. This co-occurrence has led to the suggestion that this river was instrumental in supporting some of the major sites of the Harappan Civilisation, and the drying of this river is believed to have been one of the critical factors in the abandonment of sites, and ultimately the collapse of the Harappan urban system. The relationship between prehistoric settlement and the landscape has major importance for our understanding of prehistoric cultural development in the northwestern plains of India. This preliminary report outlines the first stage of a broader analysis of the relationship between archaeological settlement sites and their geographical and landscape context in western UP and Haryana. These areas have a geographical relationship to the present courses of the perennial Yamuna and Hindon Rivers and of the ephemeral Ghaggar, Sarsuti and Chautang Rivers and associated nullahs.






Indology, which is the study of Indian history and culture from a Western perspective, is rapidly declining in the West under the impact of science and changed global conditions. Just as Max Müller represented Indology at its height, Michael Witzel symbolizes its current decadent state.  

N.S. Rajaram   

17 Sept. 2009


  Indology may be defined as the study of Indian culture and history from a Western, particularly European perspective. The earliest Westerner to show an interest in India was the Greek historian Herodotus, followed by his successors like Megasthenes, Arrian, Strabo and others. This was followed by missionaries, traders and diplomats, often one and the same. With the beginning of European colonialism, Indology underwent a qualitative change, with what was primarily of trade and missionary interest to becoming a political and administrative tool. Some of the early Indologists like William Jones, H.T. Colebrook and others were employed by the East India Company, and later the British Government. Even academics like F. Max Müller were dependent on colonial governments and the support of missionaries. From the second half of the 19th century to the end of the Second World War, German nationalism played a major role in the shaping of Indological scholarship.  

  Much of the literature in Indology carries this politico-social baggage including colonial attitudes and stereotypes. The end of the Second World War saw also the end of European colonialism, beginning with India. Indology however was slow to change, and with minor modifications like seemingly dissociating itself from its racial legacy, the same theories and conclusions continued to be presented by Western Indologists. Towards the close of the twentieth century, first science and then globalization dealt serious blows to the discipline and its offshoots like Indo European Studies. This is reflected in the closure of established Indology programs in the West and the rise of new programs within and without academic centers driven mainly by science and primary literature.  

  The article will trace the origins, evolution and the devolution of Indology and the main contribution of the field and some of its key personalities.  

Background: Historiography 

  One of the striking features of the first decade of the present century (and millennium) is the precipitous decline of Indology and the associated field of Indo-European Studies. Within the last three years, the Sanskrit Department at Cambridge University and the Berlin Institute of Indology, two of the oldest and most prestigious Indology centers in the West, have shut down. The reason cited is lack of interest. At Cambridge, not a single student had enrolled for its Sanskrit or Hindi course.  

  Other universities in Europe and America are facing similar problems. The Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, long a leader in Oriental Studies, is drastically cutting down on its programs. Even the Sanskrit Department at Harvard, one of the oldest and most prestigious in America, shut down its summer program of teaching Sanskrit to foreign students. It may be a harbinger of things to come that Francis X. Clooney and Anne E. Monius, both theologians with the Harvard Divinity School, are teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in the Sanskrit Department. More seriously, they are also advising doctoral candidates. 

  Does this mean that the Harvard Sanskrit Department may eventually be absorbed into the Divinity School and lose its secular character? In striking contrast, the Classics Department which teaches Greek and Latin has no association with the Divinity School, despite the fact that Biblical studies can hardly exist without Greek and Latin. It serves to highlight the fact that Sanskrit is not and can never be as central to the Western Canon as Greek and Latin. It also means that Sanskrit Studies, or Indology, or whatever one may call it must seek an identity that is free of its colonial trappings. It was this colonial patronage in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries that sustained these programs. Their slide into the fringes of academia is a reflection of the changed conditions following the end of colonialism.  

  Coming at a time when worldwide interest in India is the highest in memory, it points to structural problems in Indology and related fields like Indo-European Studies. Also, the magnitude of the crisis suggests that the problems are fundamental and just not a transient phenomenon. What is striking is the contrast between this gloomy academic scene and the outside world. During my lecture tours in Europe, Australia and the United States, I found no lack of interest, especially among the youth. Only they are getting what they want from programs outside academic departments, in cultural centers like the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, temples, and short courses and seminars conducted by visiting lecturers (like this writer). 

  This means the demand is there, but academic departments are being bypassed. Even for learning Sanskrit, there are now innovative programs like those offered by Samskrita Bharati that teach in ten intensive yet lively sessions more than what students learn in a semester of dry lectures. The same is true of other topics related to India— history, yoga, philosophy and others. And this interest is by no means limited to persons of Indian origin. What has gone wrong with academic Indology, and can it be reversed? 

  To understand the problem today it is necessary to visit its peculiar origins. Modern Indology began with Sir William Jones's observation in 1784 that Sanskrit and European languages were related. Jones was a useful linguist but his main job was to interpret Indian law and customs to his employers, the British East India Company. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as interpreters of India continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such eminent figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller sought and enjoyed the patronage of the ruling powers. 

  Indologists' role as interpreters of India ended with independence in 1947, but many Indologists, especially in the West failed to see the writing on the wall. They continued to get students from India, which seems to have lulled them into believing that it would be business as usual. But today, six decades later, Indian immigrants and persons of Indian origin occupy influential positions in business, industry and now the government in the United States and Britain. They are now part of the establishment in their adopted lands. No one in the West today looks to Indology departments for advice on matters relating to India when they can get it from their next door neighbor or an office colleague. In this era of globalization, India and Indians are not the exotic creatures they were once seen to be. 

  This means the Indologist's position as interpreter of India to the West, and sometimes even to Indians, is gone for good. But this alone cannot explain why their Sanskrit and related programs are also folding. To understand this we need to look further and recognize that new scientific discoveries are impacting Indology in ways that could not be imagined even twenty years ago. This is nothing new. For more than a century, the foundation of Indology had been linguistics, particularly Sanskrit and Indo-European languages. While archaeological discoveries of the Harappan civilization forced Indologists to take this hard data also into their discipline, they continued to use their linguistic theories in interpreting new data. In effect, empirical data became subordinate to theory, the exact reverse of the scientific approach. 

  These often forced interpretations of hard data from archaeology and even literature were far from convincing and undermined the whole field including linguistics of which Sanskrit studies was seen as a part. The following examples highlight the mismatch between their theories and data. Scholars ignored obvious Vedic symbols like: svasti and the om sign found in Harappan archaeology; the clear match between descriptions of flora and fauna in the Vedic literature and their depictions in Harappan iconography; and also clear references to maritime activity and the oceans in the Vedic literature while their theories claimed that the Vedic people who composed the literature were from a land-locked region and totally ignorant of the ocean. Such glaring contradictions between their theories and empirical data could not but undermine the credibility of the whole field. 

  All this didn't happen overnight: Harappan archaeology posed challenges to colonial Indological model of ancient India, built around the Aryan invasion model nearly a century ago. But the challenge was ignored because the political authority that supported Western Indologists and their theories did not disappear until 1950, while its academic influence lingered on for several more decades. It is only now, long after the disappearance of colonial rule that academic departments in the West are beginning to feel the heat.  

Colonial Indology 

  Modern Indology may be said to have begun with Sir William Jones, a Calcutta judge in the service of the East India Company. One can almost date the birth of Indology to February 12, 1784, the day on which Jones observed:  

  The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure; more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source… 

  With this superficial, yet influential observation, Jones launched two fields of study in Western academics— philology (comparative linguistics) and Indo-European Studies including Indology. The 'common source,' variously called Indo-European, Proto Indo-European, Indo-Germanische and so forth has been the Holy Grail of philologists. The search for the common source has occupied philologists for the greater part of two hundred years, but the goal has remained elusive, more of which later. 

  Jones was a linguist with scholarly inclinations but his job was to interpret Indian law and customs to his employer— the British East India Company in its task of administering its growing Indian territories. In fact, this was what led to his study of Sanskrit and its classics. This dual role of Indologists as scholars as well as official interpreters of India to the ruling authorities continued well into the twentieth century. Many Indologists, including such highly regarded figures as H.H. Wilson and F. Max Müller enjoyed the support and sponsorship of the ruling powers. It was their means of livelihood and they had to ensure that their masters were kept happy. 

  Though Jones was the pioneer, the dominant figure of colonial Indology was Max Müller, an impoverished German who found fame and fortune in England. While a scholar of great if undisciplined imagination, his lasting legacy has been the confusion he created by conflating race with language. He created the mythical Aryans that Indologists have been fighting over ever since. Scientists repeatedly denounced it, but Indologists were, and some still are, loathe to let go of it. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great biologists of the twentieth century summed up the situation from a scientific point of view:  

  In 1848 the young German scholar Friedrich Max Müller (1823 – 1900) settled in Oxford where he remained for the rest of his life… About 1853 he introduced into English usage the unlucky term Aryan, as applied to a large group of languages. His use of this Sanskrit word contains in itself two assumptions— one linguistic,… the other geographical. Of these the first is now known to be erroneous and the second now regarded as probably erroneous. [Sic: Now known to be definitely wrong.] Nevertheless, around each of these two assumptions a whole library of literature has arisen.

  Moreover, Max Müller threw another apple of discord. He introduced a proposition that is demonstrably false. He spoke not only of a definite Aryan language and its descendants, but also of a corresponding 'Aryan race'. The idea was rapidly taken up both in Germany and in England…

  In England and America the phrase 'Aryan race' has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature… In Germany, the idea of the 'Aryan race' received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions. (Emphasis added.) 

  These 'special conditions' were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to Nazi horrors is well known. The less known fact is how the British turned it into a political and propaganda tool to make Indians accept British rule. A recent BBC report acknowledged as much (October 6, 2005):  

It [Aryan invasion theory] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier. 

  That is to say, the British presented themselves as 'new and improved Aryans' that were in India only to complete the work left undone by their ancestors in the hoary past. This is how the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin put it in the House of Commons in 1929: 

  Now, after ages, …the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry have again been brought together by Providence… By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, "I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation, …it is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are…" 

  Baldwin was only borrowing a page from the Jesuit missionary Robert de Nobili (1577 - 1656) who presented Christianity as a purer form of the Vedic religion to attract Hindu converts. Now, 300 years later, Baldwin and the British were telling Indians: "We are both Aryans but you have fallen from your high state, and we, the British are here to lift you from your fallen condition." It is surprising that few historians seem to have noticed the obvious similarity.  

  In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that many of the 'scholars' of Indology should have had missionary links. In fact, one Colonel Boden even endowed a Sanskrit professorship at Oxford to facilitate the conversion of the natives to Christianity. (H.H. Wilson was the first Boden Professor followed by Monier Williams. Max Müller who coveted the position never got it. He remained bitter about it to the end of his life.) 

  It is widely held that Max Müller turned his back on his race theories when he began to insist that Aryan refers to language and never a race. The basis for this belief is the following famous statement he made in 1888.  

I have declared again and again that if I say Aryan, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor skull nor hair; I mean simply those who speak the Aryan language. … To me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan blood, Aryan race, Aryan eyes and hair is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar. 

  What lay behind this extraordinary vehemence from a man noted for his mild language? Was there something behind this echo of the Shakespearean "Methinks the lady doth protest too much"? 

  Huxley attributes Max Müller's change of heart to the advice of his scientist friends. This is unlikely. To begin with, the science needed to refute his racial ideas did not exist at the time. Moreover, Max Müller didn't know enough science to understand it even if it were explained it to him. The reasons for his flip flop, as always with him, were political followed by concern for his position in England, not necessarily in that order. 

  A closer examination of the record shows that Max Müller made the switch from race to language not in 1888 but in 1871. That incidentally was the year of German unification following Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War. Thereby hangs a tale.

  For more than twenty years, from 1848 to 1871, Max Müller had been a staunch German nationalist arguing for German unification. He was fond of publicity and made no secret of his political leanings in numerous letters and articles in British and European publications. German nationalists of course had embraced the notion of the Aryan nation and looked to scholars like Max Müller to provide intellectual justification. He was more than willing to cooperate.  

  Things changed almost overnight when Prussia defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War leading to German unification under the Prussian banner. From a fragmented landscape of petty principalities, Germany became the largest and most powerful country in Europe and Britain's strongest adversary. There was near hysteria in British Indian circles that Sanskrit studies had brought about German unification as the mighty 'Aryan Nation'. Sir Henry Maine, a member of the Viceroy's Council went so far as so claim "A nation has been born out of Sanskrit!" 

  The implication was clear, what happened in Germany could happen also in India, leading to a repeat of 1857 but with possibly a different result. All this was hysteria of the moment, but Max Müller the Aryan Sage, and outspoken German Nationalist faced a more immediate problem: how to save his position at Oxford? He had to shed his political baggage associated with the Aryan race and the Aryan Nation to escape any unfriendly scrutiny by his British patrons. 

  He could of course have gone along quietly but Max Müller being Max Müller, he had to strike a dramatic pose and display his new avatar as a staunch opponent of Aryan theories. In any event he was too much of a celebrity to escape unnoticed, any more than Michael Witzel or Romila Thapar could in our own time. So, within months of the proclamation of the German Empire (18 January 1871) Friedrich Max Müller marched into a university in Strasburg in German occupied France (Alsace) and dramatically denounced what he claimed were distortions of his old theories. He insisted that they were about languages and race had nothing to do with them.  

  He may have rejected his errors, but his followers, including many quacks and crackpots kept invoking his name in support of their own ideas. The climate in Oxford turned unfriendly and many former friends began to view him with suspicion. In fact, the situation became so bad that in 1875, he seriously contemplated resigning his position at Oxford and returning to Germany. Though there have been claims that this was because he was upset over the award of an honorary degree to his rival Monier-Williams, the more probable explanation is the discomfort resulting from his German nationalist past in the context of the changed situation following German unification. 

  The specter of Max Müller looms large over the colonial period of Indology though he is unknown in Germany today and all but forgotten in England. In fact his father Wilhem Müller, a very minor German poet is better known: a few of his poems were set to music by the great composer Franz Schubert. In his own time, Germans despised him for having turned his back on the 'Aryan race' to please his British masters. Indians though still revere him though no one today takes his theories seriously. One can get and idea of how he was seen by his contemporaries and immediate successors from the entry in the eleventh edition (1911) of the Encyclopædia Britannica:  

  Though undoubtedly a great scholar, Max Müller did not so much represent scholarship pure and simple as her hybrid types— the scholar-author and the scholar-courtier. In the former capacity, though manifesting little of the originality of genius, he rendered vast service by popularizing high truths among high minds [and among the highly placed]. …There were drawbacks in both respects: the author was too prone to build on insecure foundations, and the man of the world incurred censure for failings which may perhaps be best indicated by the remark that he seemed too much of a diplomatist. 

  His contemporaries were less charitable. They charged that Max Müller had an eye "only for crowned heads." His acquaintances included a large number of princes and potentates—with little claim to scholarship—with a maharaja or two thrown in. He was fortunate that the British monarchy was of German origin (Hanoverian) and Queen Victoria's husband a German prince (Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). It was these more than fellow scholars that he cultivated. It proved valuable for his career, if not scholarship, for he had little difficulty in getting sponsors for his ambitious projects. He lived and died a rich man, drawing from his rival William Dwight Whitney the following envious if tasteless remark:

He has had his reward. No man was before ever so lavishly paid, in money and in fame, even for the most unexceptional performance of such a task. For personal gratitude in addition, there is not the slightest call. If Müller had never put his hand to the Veda, his fellow-students would have had the material they needed perhaps ten years earlier, and Vedic studies would be at the present moment proportionately advanced. …The original honorarium, of about £500 a volume, is well-nigh or quite unprecedented in the history of purely scholarly enterprises; and the grounds on which the final additional gift of £2000 was bestowed have never been made public. 

  Max Müller's career illustrates how Indology and Sanskrit studies in the West have always been associated with politics at all levels. He was by no means the only 'diplomatist' scholar gracing colonial Indology, only the most successful. It is remarkable that though his contributions are all but forgotten, his political legacy endures. His successors in Europe and America have been reduced to play politics at a much lower level, but in India, his theories have had unexpected fallout in the rise of Dravidian politics. It is entirely proper that while his scholarly works (save for translations) have been consigned to the dustbin of history, his legacy endures in politics. This may prove to be true of Indology as a whole as an academic discipline. 

Post colonial scene: passing of the Aryan gods

  The post colonial era may conveniently be dated to 1950. In 1947 India became free and the great Aryan 'Thousand Year Reich' lay in ashes. In Europe at least the word Aryan came to acquire an infamy comparable to the word Jihadi today. Europeans, Germans in particular, were anxious to dissociate themselves from it. But there remained a residue of pre-war Indology (and associated race theories) that in various guises succeeded in establishing itself in academic centers mainly in the United States. Its most visible spokesman in recent times has been one Michael Witzel, a German expatriate like Max Müller, teaching in the Sanskrit Department at Harvard University in the United States. In an extraordinary replay of Max Müller's political flip-flops Witzel too is better known for his political and propaganda activities than any scholarly contributions. Witzel's recent campaigns, from attempts to introduce Aryan theories in California schools to his ill-fated tour of India where his scholarly deficiencies were exposed in public highlight the dependence of Indology on politics.  

  While the field of Indo-European Studies has been struggling to survive on the fringes of academia, lately it has become the subject critical analysis by scholars in Europe and America. Unlike Indians who treat the field and its practitioners with a degree of respect, European scholars have not hesitated to call a spade a spade, treating it as a case of pathological scholarship with racist links to Nazi ideology. This may be attributed to the fact that Europeans have seen and experienced its horrors while Indians have only read about it. 

  In a remarkable article, "Aryan Mythology As Science And Ideology" (Journal of the American Academy of Religion1999; 67: 327-354) the Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson raises the question: "Today it is disputed whether or not the downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with 'Aryan' religions." We may rephrase the question: "Did the end of the Nazi regime put an end to race based theories in academia?"  

  An examination of several humanities departments in the West suggests otherwise: following the end of Nazism, academic racism may have undergone a mutation but did not entirely disappear. Ideas central to the Aryan myth resurfaced in various guises under labels like Indology and Indo-European Studies. This is clear from recent political, social and academic episodes in places as far apart as Harvard University and the California State Board of Education. But there was an interregnum of sorts before Aryan theories again raised their heads in West. 

  Two decades after the end of the Nazi regime, racism underwent another mutation as a result of the American Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Americans were made to feel guilty about their racist past and the indefensible treatment of African Americans. U.S. academia also changed accordingly and any discourse based on racial stereotyping became taboo. Soon this taboo came to be extended to Native Americans, Eskimos and other ethnic groups. 

  In this climate of seeming liberal enlightenment, one race theory continued to flourish as if nothing had changed. Theories based on the Aryan myth that formed the core of Nazi ideology continued in various guises, as previously noted, in Indology and Indo-European Studies. Though given a linguistic and sometimes a cultural veneer, these racially sourced ideas continue to enjoy academic respectability in such prestigious centers as Harvard and Chicago.  

  Being a European transplant, its historical trajectory was different from the one followed by American racism. Further, unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which had mass support, academic racism remained largely confined to academia. This allowed it to escape public scrutiny for several decades until it clashed with the growing Hindu presence in the United States. Indians, Hindus in particular saw Western Indology and Indo-European Studies as a perversion of their history and religion and a thinly disguised attempt to prejudice the American public, especially the youth, against India and Hinduism to serve their academic interests.  

  The fact that Americans of Indian origin are among the most educated group ensured that their objections could not be brushed away by 'haughty dismissals' as the late historian of science Abraham Seidenberg put it. Nonetheless, scholars tried to use academic prestige as a bludgeon in forestalling debate, by denouncing their adversaries as ignorant chauvinists and bigots unworthy of debate. But increasingly, hard evidence from archaeology, natural history and genetics made it impossible to ignore the objections of their opponents, many of whom (like this writer) were scientists. But in November 2005, there came a dramatic denouement, in, of all places, California schools. Academics suddenly found it necessary to leave their ivory towers and fight it out in the open, in full media glare— and under court scrutiny.  

  It is unnecessary to go into the details of the now discredited campaign by Michael Witzel and his associates trying to stop the removal of references to the Aryans and their invasion from California school books. What is remarkable is that a senior tenured professor at Harvard of German origin should concern himself with how Hinduism is taught to children in California. Witzel is a linguist, but he presumed to tell California schools how Hinduism should be taught to children. It turned out that Hinduism was only a cover, and his concern was saving the Aryan myth from being erased from books. 

  Ever since he moved to Harvard from Germany, Witzel has seen the fortunes of his department and his field, gradually sink into irrelevance. Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in the field of Indo-European Studies. As previously noted, several 'Indology' departments—as they are sometimes called—are shutting down across Europe. One of the oldest and most prestigious, at Cambridge University in England, has just closed down. This was followed by the closure of the equally prestigious Berlin Institute of Indology founded way back in 1821. Positions like the one Witzel holds (Wales Professor of Sanskrit) were created during the colonial era to serve as interpreters of India. They have lost their relevance and are disappearing from academia. This was the real story, not teaching Hinduism to California children.  

  Witzel's California misadventure appears to have been an attempt to somehow save his pet Aryan theories from oblivion by making it part of Indian history and civilization in the school curriculum. Otherwise, it is hard to see why a senior, tenured professor at Harvard should go to all this trouble, lobbying California school officials to have its Grade VI curriculum changed to reflect his views.  

  To follow this it is necessary to go beyond personalities and understand the importance of the Aryan myth to Indo-European Studies. The Aryan myth is a European creation. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. The campaign against Hinduism was a red herring to divert attention from the real agenda, which was and remains saving the Aryan myth. Collapse of the Aryan myth means the collapse of Indo-European studies. This is what Witzel and his colleagues are trying to avert. For them it is an existential struggle. 

  Americans and even Indians for the most part are unaware of the enormous influence of the Aryan myth on European history and imagination. Central to Indo-European Studies is the belief—it is no more than a belief—that Indian civilization was created by an invading race of 'Aryans' from an original homeland somewhere in Eurasia or Europe. This is the Aryan invasion theory dear to Witzel and his European colleagues, and essential for their survival. According to this theory there was no civilization in India before the Aryan invaders brought it— a view increasingly in conflict with hard evidence from archaeology and natural history.  

  In this academic and political conundrum it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the Aryan myth is a modern European creation. It has little to do with ancient India. The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India's oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but it seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community. It later became an honorific and a form of address, something like 'Gentleman' in English or 'Monsieur' in French. Also, it was nowhere as important in India as it came to be in Europe. In the whole the Rig Veda, in all of its ten books, the word Arya appears only about forty times. In contrast, Hitler's Mein Kampf uses the term Arya and Aryan many times more. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air— in Europe, not India.

  It is interesting to contrast Witzel's political campaigns against Max Müller's. Where Max Müller hobnobbed with Indian and European aristocracy including princes and Maharajas, Witzel has had to content himself waiting on California schoolteachers and bureaucrats. These were his masters who held the keys to his career and reputation. It may be no more than a reflection of changed circumstances and the loss of power and prestige of the aristocracy but the contrasts are nonetheless striking. 

  No less striking is the contrast between their legacy and reputation. While we may look at Max Müller's foibles and failures with amused tolerance and appreciate his monumental work in compiling the fifty-volume Sacred Books of the East, Witzel's name is unlikely to command any respect much less affection. In addition to his support for the Aryan theories and the California campaign, Witzel is known for his association with the notorious Indo-Eurasian Research (IER), which has been accused of a hate campaign against the Hindus. 

  An article that appeared the New Delhi daily The Pioneer (December 25, 2005) began: "Boorish comments denigrating India, Hindus and Hinduism by a self-proclaimed 'Indologist' who is on the faculty of Harvard University has unleashed a fierce debate over the increasing political activism of 'scholars' who teach at this prestigious American university. Prof Michael Witzel, Wales professor of Sanskrit at Harvard, is in the centre of the storm because he tried to prevent the removal of references to India, Hinduism and Sikhism in the curriculum followed by schools in California which parents of Indian origin found to be inadequate, inaccurate or just outright insensitive."  

  The author of The Pioneer article (Kanchan Gupta) went on to observe: "Witzel declared Hindu-Americans to be "lost" or "abandoned", parroting anti-Semite slurs against Jewish people. Coincidence or symptom? Witzel's fantasies are ominously reminiscent of WWII German genocide. He says that 'Since they won't be returning to India, [Hindu immigrants to the USA] have begun building crematoria as well. … Witzel demeans the daughters of Indian-American parents, who take the trouble to learn their heritage through traditional art forms. In the worst of racist slander, Witzel claims that Indian classical music and dance reflect low moral standards." 

  One cannot imagine any publication today, let alone in India, write in this vein about Max Müller, whatever one may feel about his politics and scholarship. Nor can one imagine Max Müller write in the style of Witzel about India or anyone else.  

  It must be recorded that Max Müller was emphatically not a racist. He was also a man of exemplary humility in dealing with fellow scholars. In a letter to the Nepalese scholar and Sanskrit poet Pandit Chavilal (undated but written probably just before 1900) Max Müller wrote: 

  I am surprised at your familiarity with Sanskrit. We [Europeans] have to read but never to write Sanskrit. To you it seems as easy as English or Latin to us… We can admire all the more because we cannot rival, and I certainly was filled with admiration when I read but a few pages of your Sundara Charita. 

  This reflects great credit on Max Müller as a scholar. One has to wonder if his present day counterparts are capable of such exemplary humility. Certainly none was in evidence during Michael Witzel's recent disastrous lecture tour of India where he was severely embarrassed by schoolchildren and scholars alike, where he was shown to be completely at sea with basic rules of Sanskrit grammar. More than a hundred years ago, Max Müller declined invitations to visit India probably because he sensed that a similar fate awaited him. He chose discretion over bravado. 

  The decline from Max Müller to Witzel serves as a metaphor for the decline of Indology itself in our time. 

State of Sanskrit studies in the West

  In recent months there have been cries of 'Sanskrit in danger of disappearing' from Sanskrit professors and other Indologists in Western academia. This is certainly true in their own case, but their next claim that they need more funding (what else?) to reverse the decline must be taken with a large grain of salt. Sanskrit existed and flourished for thousands of years before Indology and Indologists came into existence, and will no doubt continue to exist without them. If Sanskrit ever faces extinction, it will be for reasons of social and political developments in India and not due to lack of funds for Indologists in the West. They can no more save Sanskrit than Indian scholars can save classical Greek.  

  We may now take a moment to assess the contribution of Western Sanskritists from an Indian perspective. For those who believe that Western scholarship has made a major contribution to Sanskrit, such people are not limited to the West, here is an objective measure to consider: Indians began studying English (and other European languages) about the same time that Europeans began their study of Sanskrit. Many Indians have attained distinction as writers in English. But there is not a single piece in Sanskrit—not even a shloka (verse)—by a Western Sanskritist that has found a place in any anthology. This was acknowledged by no less an authority than Max Müller in passage quoted at the end of the previous section.  

  These are not the people who can 'save' Sanskrit, even if it needs to be saved. Sanskrit is India's responsibility just as Greek and Latin are Europe's. Let them study Sanskrit just as Indians should study Greek, but it is too much to expect a few sanctuaries in the West protect and nurture a great and ancient tradition when they are having a hard time saving themselves.  

  The principal contribution of the West has been in bringing out editions of ancient works like the Rigveda and translations like Max Müller's monumental fifty volume Sacred Books of the East. These too have their limitations. 

Summary and conclusions

  We may now conclude that that Western Indology is in steep decline and may well become extinct in a generation. The questions though go beyond Indology. Sanskrit is the foundation of Indo-European Studies. If Sanskrit departments close, what will take their place? Will these departments now teach Icelandic, Old Norse or reconstructed Proto Indo-European? Will they attract students? Can Indo-European Studies survive without Sanskrit? A more sensible course would be for Indian and Western scholars to collaborate and build an empirically based study of ancient Indian and European languages— free of dogma and free of politics.

  A basic problem is that for reasons that have little to do with objective scholarship, Indologists have been trying to remove Sanskrit from the special space it occupies in the study of Indo-European languages and replace it something called Proto-Indo-European of PIE. This is like replacing Hebrew with a hypothetical Proto-Semitic language in Biblical Studies. This PIE has literally proven to be a pie in the sky and the whole field is now on the verge of collapse. The resulting vacuum has to be filled by a scholarship that is both sound and empirical, based on existing languages like Sanskrit, Greek and the like. Additionally, Indian scholars will have look more to the east and search for linguistic and other links to the countries and cultures of Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and others that have historic ties to India of untold antiquity. 




This is explained in more detail in this writer's The Politics of History and also in Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization, Third Edition, by Navaratna Rajaram and David Frawley, both published by Voice of India, New Delhi. Some recent developments may be found in Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization by N.S. Rajaram, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi. For the record the full name of Max Müller was Friedrich Maximillian Müller, but he is better known as Max Müller, the name used also by his descendants.

2. Max Müller's aristocratic Indian friends included the Raja of Venkatagiri (who partly financed his edition of the Rigveda) as well as Dwarakanath Tagore, the grandfather of the Nobel laureate Rabindranath. When Max Müller was a struggling scholar in Paris, Tagore helped him with Sanskrit as well as financially. He knew also British and European nobility having met Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In his early years his patrons included Dwarakanath Tagore and Baron Bunsen, the Prussian Ambassador to Britain. It is a tribute to Max Müller's personality and liberal character that he could attract the friendship of such a wide range of people. 

3. It should be noted that the Nazis appropriated their ideas and symbols from European mythology, not India. Hitler's Aryans worshipped Apollo and Odin, not Vedic deities like Indra and Varuna. His Swastika was also the European 'Hakenkreuz' or hooked cross and not the Indian svasti symbol. It was seen in Germany for the first time when General von Luttwitz's notorious Erhardt Brigade marched into Berlin from Lithuania in support of the abortive Kapp Putsch of 1920. The Erhardt Brigade was one of several freebooting private armies during the years following Germany's defeat in World War I. They had the covert support of the Wehrmacht (Army headquarters).