Saturday, December 8, 2012
Brazen attempt by a Christian Father to convert a Vedic scholar – reader Ramanathan recalls his horrible experience.
Regular readers of this blogspot must be aware of our learned reader cum contributor of articles on Vedic Yajnas, Mr Ramanathan. A traditional follower of Vedic customs and life style, this young scholar met with a strange experience of being coaxed by a Christian priest to convert to Christianity. When none of his arguments could succeed, he retorted by asking why our scholar was worshiping Shiva in spite of he being an Aryan!!!!
Read on to know what he replied….
Musings on the "Dravidian" god shiva
This is not yet another article on the Aryan/Dravidian debated. It is due to some personal experiences I write this. As a layman in history, the Aryan invasion theory and its polemics were a non-entity to me. I remember studying in my 6th class (in 1986) history text book the following, what sounds now to me too ridiculous.
1. A group of people called the Aryans came thundering down the Khyber Pass and invaded India, which was originally inhabited by the ancestors of the present Dravidians (who were sophisticated urban people).
2. They were pastoral tribals and had little culture (but a sophisticated language???) and wandered on the Eurasian steppes on horses prior to the invasions. They drank Soma and Sura and in their drunken stupor wrote primitive praises to natural gods, which was the Rig veda.
3. When they invaded India they came on horse drawn chariots with iron spoke wheels and Iron weapons (???). As per Witzel (whom I came to read about only recently, as will be explained going further) these thundering chariots struck terror in the poor Harappans. Though the Harappans had sophisticated & highly planned towns, they did not have horses and chariots and no Iron weapons. They had only bullock carts with solid wheels!!!. Thus they were no match for the Aryans and were routed. From that fateful day the entire Bharath was overwhelmed by tribal soma drinking Aryans!!!.
I studied all these with a view to just pass exams and all these childish theories had no personal impact on my personal life. Also as a part of being born and brought up in Madurai in Tamil-Nadu, I also witnessed many street corner meetings conducted by the D.K (Dravidiar Kazhagam). In these meetings, the "Bread and Butter" speeches of the speakers were invariably against the "Aryaa Parpanargal (Iyers)" and their "Cunning ploys" and how they screwed up things and made life miserable in TN. This was a practical example of the impact the theory had. But even here I did not care and it had no impact on me at all. In fact one of the boys in my street had an uncle who spoke in those meetings. I even met him a couple of times at this boy's house and he spoke very jovially and sounded friendly. So to me the Aryan invasion theory and Aryan/Dravidian divide meant nothing.
I did not care to follow all the debates and discussions from my school days till as recently as last week. I had never really known names like Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Witzel, Rajaram, Mahadevan Irawadam and so on. It was last week when I was going to a friend's wedding in Trivandrum from Bangalore that my interest in this theory was piqued up. It happened in this way.
On the railway journey a Christian father who sat opposite to my seat got into a chat with me.
It started with small talk: Who I was?,
What was my Name and Native?.
What was my profession?.
Well "you seem to be a smart young man, are'nt you?" kind of stuff.
All this seemed to be unnatural to me. Then as I suspected the million dollar question came.
"Why don't you believe in "Jesus" as your savior and redeem yourself from sin?.".
I said I was not interested, thank you. But he would not have no for an answer and continued saying that he understood and sympathized with me. I was a confused Hindu.
He condescended to "understand" that since we Hindus worshipped 33 million "False" gods I was not clearly understanding "Christ" and his love.
At this, I got a little irritated and asked him that if Christians only believed in one god and one savior and one book and one heaven, why the hell were there innumerable denominations like Catholics, protestants, Lutherans, Mormons etc?.
It is natural to have such conflicts in "polytheistic" religions like Hinduism with 4 vedas, 2 Ithihasas and 18 puranas, but why, in the "Only true" religion?.
Why one sect did not respect the other?.
For example as per the Seventh day Adventists Sabbath is not on Sunday but Saturday. Also the pope says that the Roman Catholic faith is the only true faith for salvation and he does not accept the Anglican Church.
In England and Europe either the Catholics persecuted the Protestants at some period and in some other periods it was the reverse.
Also in the US the Mormons are not a recognized proper Christian denomination.
This irritated him and out of the blue he asked me "Why was a Vedic Aryan Brahmin (I have a shika & study the yajur veda) like me, worshipping Shiva (I had ashes on my forehead), a Dravidian god?".
This totally stumped me. Shiva a Dravidian god?. None of my elders told me this. None of my friends (Brahmin or otherwise) considered me an Aryan.
Then I asked him what gods he thought as Aryan.
He told that It was mainly Indra, Vishnu, varuna etc who were Aryan and he was categorical in stating Shiva as Dravidian.
I asked him what about Rudra?. This god appears in the Vedic hymns frequently?. He said that Rudra was not shiva and Shiva was a Dravidian god.
Now this statement made me take up the study of the entire Aryan Invasion theory(AIT) on the net the entire last week. During this I came to know about the names I mentioned at the top. As far as I read, this theory is slowly getting debunked by multipronged evidence. But the AIT has changed to AMT(Aryan migration), trickle migration and what not!!!. One queerer thing I found is the language spoken by the Aryans before invasion. It seems to be called PIE (Proto Indo European). This language also seems to be as fictitious as the Aryans themselves. Looks like the AIT is slowly out on its way into oblivion
Some fundamental doubts
But before this I want to understand some points in the AIT debate that are not answered clearly. Some help needed here. AIT scholars?
1. Why are western Indologists only obsessed about the Rig veda alone and not the Yajur veda or the samans?. They consider these "later" which means it is un-important?. The Rig Veda has a very advanced Sacrificial culture in it. In fact all the 3 Vedas mention each other within themselves and I do not see why one is less or more. Traditional scholars, who have dedicated their lives for Vedic study, do not say that the Rig is better than the Yajus or vice versa. Has the opinion of traditional Vedic teachers who really have lived a Vedic life and breath it, ever been collected?. As far as I know each veda is functionally different that's it.
2. How did Max Muller date the Vedas?. I read that is was based on linguistic conjectures. Some conjectures and speculations based on the rate at which language usage changes. Also some biblical events seemed to have influenced him. Has there ever been any real Mathematical/Scientific dating done by him?.
3. Did Max Muller ever come to India to get an experience of Indian culture?. Yes according to some and no according to some others. I had the opportunity to talk to Rig vedic Ganapaatis who have studied it with all 6 Veda Angas. They all say that one of the worse Bhashyas they ever read was Max Mullers. In many ways it violates standard grammer rules and Swara rules is what they say.
4. Why would in the first place the Aryans choose to migrate? Any drastic changes in living conditions in their primary homeland?.
5. Has there been any archeological evidences for such a migration?.
6. As for this mythical PIE, has any piece of literature in this language found?
7. Last not least, how could a primitive Aryan race who just herded cattle riding on horses in the steppes produce such prodigious volumes of literature, whose quality is unparalleled in any civilization yet?. On the other hand the sophisticated urban dwelling Harappans did not have any great literature. All so contradicting.
Is shiva really a Dravidian god?.
I have some knowledge of the Yajur veda and the Rig veda. With that I started analyzing this statement. The only reason which I saw why Lord Shiva is not accepted as an Aryan gods is that the word "Shiva" does not appear in the Rig veda but only the term "Rudra" occurs.
But the Yajur Veda has Shiva repeating multiple times as Rudra's equivalent. Why on earth based on this on word alone should this be denied?. And also why would the Yajus be rejected here?. Also some suggest "Siva" & "Shambu" originated from Tamizh words "Sivappu" and "Chembu". But I do not think it is right because there is a distinct difference in the "Sha" consonant which is an Ushma consonant from Sanskrit grammer. "Chembu" would use "Cha", which is distinct from "Sha".
God knows how one was derived from the other. So based on the non-occurrence of "Shiva" in the Rig Veda alone Shiva is called a Dravidian god.
Also since Vishnu was an Aryan god I started looking into the Shaiva-Vaishnava debates and what they had to say about this. Nowhere did I find that Shaivaites reject Vishnu because he is an Aryan god. Or Vaishnavaites reject Shiva saying he is a Dravidian god. The entire debate is based on either the deeds of the gods based on the puranas and their appearences. Also some vaishnavaites claim that the word "Shiva" in the vedas, did not mean "Rudra". But it meant "Auspiciousness". Since Shiva was a god who hobnobbed with ghosts from the graveyard he cannot be auspicious. Thus nowhere in the Shaiva & Vaishnava rivalry we this Aryan/Dravidian divide.
Also the Thillai Vaazh Andanar (Ancint saivite Brahmins in Chidambaram) study the veda seriously. They are also staunch Shaivites. They don't say Vedas or Vishnu is Aryan or Shiva was Dravidian. They say Vishnu was one of the minor deities with Shiva being the supreme.
Tamizh Shaivite saints like Gnanasambandar have sung
"Long live righteous Vedic Brahmins, whose penance are needed for a proper bountiful rainfall. Long live the king to protect dharma. Let the name of Hara spread". As seen here he does not consider Brahmins "Aryan" and shiva a "Dravidian" god. He himself was a shaivite Brahmin and his father had performed a Vedic soma sacrifice. All the 4 great shaivaite saints have sungs very beautiful and highly devotional songs on shiva but none disparage the vedas as Aryan.
Now consider the "Divyaprabandam". It consists of 4000 beautiful hymns packed with devotion to Vishnu. It was considered as Tamizh Vedam. One of the composers was a devotee called Nammazhvar who belonged to the fourth Varna. As per the Aryan Dravidian divide he should be Dravidian. But he composed this wonderful work and compares it with the Vedas. He a "Shudra" singing praises of an Aryan god?
This also goes to show that the 4th Varna did not think of themselves as Dravidians and were separate from Aryans. In the same mould are Thirupanazhwar, who was outside the pale of the four castes. He was highly devoted to Vishnu. He did not consider himself an Adivasi.
Also one more point quoted here is that a "Linga" was found in the Harappan civilization. This proves that it was Dravidian as this "Linga" worship is predominant in the south. But in the Mahanarayana Upanishad of the Krishna Yajur Veda, there is a mantra beginning with "Nidhanapathayee namaha" and ending with "Sarvalingam sthapayati pani mantram pavithram". This is a mantra for linga pratishta. So where is linga worship absent in the Veda?.
In innumerable shiva temples in Tamil Nadu (all the ones in the Nava kailasam temple series on the Thamiraparani), the lord is named "Kailasa Nathar". If shiva was Dravidian why is he named after a place, northern most in India?
Also the Shiva yogi Thirumoola who composed the great "Thirumandiram" of 3000 verses, says that he was a yogi in the Himalayas and Nandikeshvara's shishya. The Thirumandiram is a canonical Shaivite text in Tamizh. Why would they want to choose a book written by a person from the "Aryan" North?.
Also reference to shiva with his consort Ambika occurs in the Yajur veda samhita frequently.
Also again in the Yajur Veda there is a reference to shiva wearing a tiger cloth and having pinaka club In hand.
Also sometimes Rudra is extolled as Agni and Agni as Rudra in the Yajur veda. Sometimes Indra too danced as Shiva of the puranas.
All these show that shiva was never a Dravidian god or Vishnu Aryan or vice versa. There is no scriptural (Vedic or Agamic) evidence for this. It was just that the father I mentioned above was quoting blindly, something he read somewhere and did not understand. He just wanted to confuse me. The Aryan/Dravidian theory refuses to die fast and it is been exploited by missionaries to the hilt for conversion by resorting to theories of 19th century "Imperialistic", "Missionary minded" Indologists.