Thursday, February 13, 2014

Koenraad Elst is wrong on Mundas – Mundas are a product of Parashurama’s fury.

There is a phrase in Tamil “ nuni-p-pul mEithal” (நுனிப் புல் மேய்தல்) meant for referring  to people who just graze here and there but claim to have imbibed great knowledge. Reading the article on Singbonga of Mundas I find that this phrase is perfectly made for the self-proclaimed  sympathiser of Vedic cause who does not believe in the historicity of Rama and doesn’t even think that Vyasa ever existed and never loses a chance to abuse the believers of these basic views of the Vedic society as “madhouse”, as people with “profoundly wrong-headed nationalism” and those with “Hindu nationalistic lack of logic”.  Knowing our country and its culture that had come up through countless ages as to be part of a billion plus people today, cannot happen by reading here and there or talking to some people of the present times or from comparison of religions. Without being born in this culture or part of this culture or grown up in this culture and have observed all around, it is not possible to make meaningful deductions from what we see in this country. Mr Koenraad Elst had attempted to do that on the basis of - all the things in the world –  the Christian Missionary studies on “The religious life of the Sarna tribes” the motive of which need not be explained to us - the “mad-house” people of Hindu Nationalism. The funny part of that essay by him  is that in his hurried grazing (nuni-p-pul meithal), Mr Elst had overlooked an important custom of the Mundas – a concept that we have been stoutly defending as originally Vedic – is their knowledge of rashis!

Everyone including Mr Elst would agree that Mundas have been secluded from the rest of the country and had been living in isolation for ages even before the so-called “Aryanisation” penetrated India or before the Mundas got exposed to outside world which happened only after the British came to India. One of the main festivals of Mundas is the birth ceremony called “Narota” festival that is celebrated after 9 days (night nights perhaps – going by the name Narota – nava – rathri– Sanskrit word!). On that occasion they name the child based on the rashi it is born! 

Narota festival in a family of Mundas at Dhatinakhali.

(The inputs and photographs produced in this article are based on the research study on Mundas’ traditional water management techniques, titled “Social water management among Munda people in the Sundarban” done by Chiara Perucca and Krishnapodo Munda under the auspices of University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh – ULAB).

On the birth ceremony of the Munda child done after the 9th day or if not, after 11th and 13th day, the naming is done after ‘consultation with the rashi (horoscope)’. How was this possible given that they were secluded from rest of the society for quite so long, say, even before Alexander ‘annexed’ Indian territories that paved the way for Indian rishis to go to Greece and borrow the names and  concepts of rashis from the Greeks – as per the pet concept of the Indologists?

There are specific ceremonies on this day similar to shuddhi ceremonies as done in any family following Vedic culture. One strange ceremony on this day involves the grandparents to predict whether they would have cordial relationship with the new born. It is on this day the naming of the child is also done. The important info is that the name is chosen on the basis of the rashi the child is born. How did they know about the rashis? Did someone teach them after learning them from Greeks in post- Alexander period? Or did they themselves mingle with the urban society and learn from them how to find out the rashi of their new born?

No foreigner is ready to attribute anything Vedic to Mundas. They are keen on separating Mundas from main stream India and Vedic culture. They are the ones who are keen on calling them as tribes and original inhabitants who pre-dated the Indian ancestors of the present folks. If that is true how come they ever know that rashis existed – when there is no way for them to have contacted the outside world until a few centuries ago?

No one can say that Mundas could have come to know of it later and started using them for naming their children. Mundas are known for stoutly resisting any outside influence. There are accounts of how they refused to be part of a common gathering in the early days of conversion activities by Christian Missionaries in the 19th century. They have resisted any change in the way they lived. Their opposition to dressing up Virgin mary in their traditional style  is an example of their refusal to accept others copying them and also demonstrative of retaining their individuality and customs. 

How then could they be expected to have ‘learnt’ about rashis from others and included them as a source of naming their children in an important Narota ceremony?

The obvious inference is that knowledge of rashis had existed in India even before Mundas as a distinct entity had come into existence. With their origins going back into unknown times of the past, the knowledge of rashis in India also goes back into times of antiquity. Not only rashis, Munda had knowledge about Moon’s movement and stars. They had a combination of these along with sun’s movement to determine the time of agricultural activities. This is precisely the oldest use of astrology in the Vedic society.

Coming to the origin of the name or God Singbonga that Mr Elst is happy to connect with Biblical Creator God (?), the name of a place in the same region gives a better explanation. I refer to “Singhbhum” in Jharkhand / Chota Nagpur region, which sounds similar to Singbonga. Singhbhum is interpreted on the basis of the term ‘Bhumi’. But going by Singbong being worshipped by the people of the same region for ages, it appears that Singhbhum is connected to Munda’s Singbong.

Singbong was the considered as the one who created the Munda tribes. This idea coupled with idea of the special rituals done to Karam tree and the sacred grove rituals of Sarna, gives a different story that fits with certain passages from Mahabharata, past records of some places and the recordings done during the British period. According to Mundas, the Karam trees saved their ancestors who were fleeing from an enemy.  That means their ancestors had hidden themselves behind the trees or in the trees to escape detection from the enemies. This had happened on a night time as they do the worship and rituals to the karam tree at night with Moon and the stars as the witnesses. Their excess importance to ancestors and spirits of ancestors do reveal a story of a hard time when their ancestors, the first generation of Mundas were fleeing from death in the hands of an enemy. At that time Singbonga had safe guarded them and paved way for them to start a new life.

The name Singbong is separated as Singa – bonga. Singa is a Tamil word for lion/ simha. Bongo (বঙ্গ) is how “Vanga” (Vanga desa) is called in Bengali language. So the name is Singa-vanga, a native of Vanga desa who was valiant like a lion,  headed them in their escape from an enemy, saved them from death and helped them to start a new life in the place where they had fled – which were remote ones such as mountains or deep forests or inaccessible areas.

This can be cross checked from two sources. One is that this has resonance to the story of Parashurama who was out to destroy the kshatriyas for 21 times. One of the tribes who fled for life from his fury was “Savaras” and another was “Vangas”.  Savaras are one of the communities of the Mundari speaking people.  Here is the translation from Mahabharata 14-29 on Savaras having fled the fury of Parashurama:

“Then, some of the Kshatriyas, afflicted with the terror of Jamadagni's son, entered mountain-fastnesses, like deer afflicted by the lion. Of them that were unable, through fear of Rama, to discharge the duties ordained for their order, the progeny became Vrishalas owing to their inability to find Brahmanas In this way Dravidas and Abhiras and Pundras, together with the Savaras, became Vrishalas through those men who had Kshatriya duties assigned to them in consequence of their birth, falling away from those duties. Then the Kshatriyas that were begotten by the Brahmanas upon Kshatriya women that had lost their heroic children, were repeatedly destroyed by Jamadagni's son. The slaughter proceeded one and twenty times.”

Here is the translation of the verse from Mahabharata 7:68, on Vangas being vanquished by Parashurama
“The Kashmiras, the Daradas, the Kuntis, the Kshudrakas, the Malavas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Kalingas, the Videhas, the Tamraliptakas, the Rakshovahas, the Vitahotras, the Trigartas, the Martikavatas were all vanquished by Bhargava Rama.”

The Savaras and Vangas had fled under the guidance of Singa-vanga to Chota Nagpur hills. Many of their tribes were killed by Parashurama – a reason why the Mundas are overly concerned about ancestral worship that includes those who died earlier along with those who died in the known previous generations. They had hidden themselves behind rocks and trees and inside groves and caves and that is why all these structures are reverberating with the soul of their departed first generation ancestors who fell to the fury of Parashurama. 

Another cross checking comes from the name of the place where they are settled for ages. This place is Datinakhali, a popular Munda village. This name sounds like Dakshina Kali! Dakshina Kali is the form of Kali who drinks the blood of the people slain in a battle field and dances on dead bodies in the battle field. (The description of this kind is found in many texts of Tamil Sangam literature).  Her fury is such that she tramples on her consort Shiva while dancing over the corpses. There is no Puranic basis for this description of Dakshina Kali. This could have come up from the Mundas and Savaras  due to the loss of their folks in a war with Parashurama where no rhyme or reason was followed on who was being killed and why.  There is evidence to show that this Kali was indeed a deity personified by these terror struck people.

Entrance of the Dakshina Kali temple.

When we go through the culture of Savara also known as  Saora, Saura and Sabara living in the hills of Jharkhand and Odisha and coastal Andhra,  we come to know that a Savara king by name Viswabasu (Vishwavasu ) had worshiped Lord Nrusimha! This is a surprise connection because their saviour was Singavanga or Singabonga – an entity with the name lion. This Lord Nrusimha was in Neela giri, the place which is now known as Puri!. This lord was called as Neela Madhabha. The image of the deity was made of the wood of a tree – a thing that Mundas considered as having the soul as their ancestors were saved by the trees. The Savara king had worshiped in secrecy and no one knew where this deity was housed. {Why such secrecy should happen, if it is not for the reason that the Mundas and Savaras had been for ages living in fear of being found out and killed? The fear must have existed initially but later on such secrecy and seclusion could have become a habit}. In due course the Savara king was duped by King Indradyumna to reveal the location of this deity but managed to hide it under the sand. However the deity revealed Itself to King Indradyumna  who was pursuing it with devotion. (Read here for the story). That deity is worshiped as Lord Jagannatha of Puri. This story has been detailed in Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana and other works found in Oriya language. {Indradyumna’s connection to Puri / Kalinga desa and worship of Puri deities as Krishna and his siblings was previously explored by me in this blog.}

Now let us look at the similarities. Puri is the location of both Dakshina Kali and Lord Nrusimha who was supposed to have been worshiped by the Savara king. The whereabouts of Nrusimha temple was never known. No one had ever seen this deity. It was only hearsay that Savaras worshiped Nrusimha  perhaps due to their connection with Singbonga. But the deity that he was supposed to have worshiped happened to be called as Jagannatha. He worshiped an image made of wood. The image of Puri Jagannatha is also made of wood.  If some myth makers wanted to weave a story around Lord Jagannatha, they need not have invented a story with a king of Savaras coming from a previous time of the actual consecration of Lord Jagannatha. In fact Savaras were not thought of as elites. It serves no purpose to have invented Savara connection to this deity unless such a thing had happened in reality.

Another information from Puranas is that Lord Jagannath Himself was Dakshinakalika. It is also true that a temple of Dakshina Kali does exist in Puri and is associated with Lord Jagannatha. (read here). Perhaps to conceal the movement of Savara kings outside their hide-outs, confusing ideas were floated. But once found out, the Savara king withdrew. The deity he worshiped continued to exist in another form (Jagannatha) thanks to King Indradyumna. The period of Puri Jagannatha is such that it must have been certainly before 2000 years. The iconographic details of the 3 deities of Krishna siblings were already there in place as we find them in Brihad Samhita 58- 35&36.

The presence of Dakshina Kali in the same place cannot be ignored as a recent development, for, Dakshina Kali had better relevance for Savaras and Mundas as people who suffered sudden annihilation in the hands of Parashurama.   Parashurama had attacked kshatriyas again and again for 21 times. Perhaps Puri and its surrounding regions were the location of Savaras and Mundas before they were attacked by Parashurama. This location corroborates with the description in Mahabharata where Savaras are mentioned along with Kiratas and Yavanas. (12-64-3569, 13-14-1074, 13-35-4170). Of these three people, the location of Kiratas is given in no uncertain terms that they (Kiratas) were “living on the northern slopes of the Himavat and on the mountain from behind which the sun rises and in the region of Karusha on the sea-coast and on both sides of the Lohitya mountains.” (2-51-2138).

This puts them in North east India of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc. The Vangas occupied present day Bengal and Bangladesh. South – south west of it was Kalinga where Puri / Dakshina Kali are located. The ancestors of Savaras and Mundas, had they lived in this region of Kalinga and were killed by Parashurama, then there is every reason to believe that this place became the place of Dakshina Kali – the Kali who drinks the blood of people killed in battle and dances on their corpses. Even after they had managed to flee and take a hiding in Chota Nagpur mountains, they – who were hell bent of worshiping their ancestors till today- could have come to this place to pay obeisance to the killed ancestors and appease Dakshina Kali who was symbolically associated with battle fields.
This location is close enough to Hehaya location and Parashurama’s location at Mahendragiri. Puri being the location of Dakshina Kali could have been the ancestral region of Mundas and Savaras. This location is close to Mahendragiri associated with Parashurama. 

       (Click on the image to enlarge)
Kartha veeryarjuina of Hehayas was the main enemy of Parashurama. His kingdom was in Mahishmati, in present day Maheshwar.

Though Parashurama’s exact place of birth is not known he was known to have done penance at Mahendra giri in today’s Odisha. The link between the regions of Mundas (Dakshina Kali) and Mahishmati with Parashurama is there.

Parashurama has attacked Savaras, Vangas, Angas, Malavas etc who were all neighbourhood people in this part of the country. He had cleansed the regions north, south and east of the Vindhyas of every kshatriya living at that time. 

The Hehayas had been completely annihilated. The Savaras (saura worshipers – on the east coast of Odisha where Konark Sun temple was established in later days) were killed and made to flee. Their final destination was Chota Nagpur in Bihar. Later they spanned to Sundarbans.

This dispersal on the wake of threat from Parashurama is meaningful and reasonable for people living in that region. Vanga Desa being  close-by, Singa Vanga (Singbonga) and his men had fled with Savaras. He restored order in the new settlement and enforced do’s and dont’s for the safety of the people.

Compared to them, there are others who managed to survive and get back their regions. It was possible because their kings and princes had taken shelter with sages. Mahabharata enumerates them.
Mahabharata 12 – 51, tells about how the various kings and their children were living in secrecy to escape from Parashurama. They concealed their identity by not doing anything of a Kshatriya but things done by other varnas. They are as follows:

(1)    Son of Viduratha of Puru vamsha grew up under the protection of ‘bears’ in secrecy in the mountain of Rishavaan. This is situated at a place where river Narmada divides as a fork.  Corroboratory evidence to bear connection to Rishavaan is found in Ramayana where it is said that Jambhavan, the bear (could be a symbolic reference to bear) lived in Rishavaan!

Location of Rishavaan.

(2)    Another king by name Sowdasa was protected by Parashara rishi. Mahabharata says that he lived like a Shudra. It means he did not exhibit Kshatriya qualities or Kshatriya looks and was engaged in activities of a shudra. 

(3)    The next king mentioned is Gopathy, son of king Sibi. Sibi’s father was Usinara who is mentioned at some places as Kshatriya vratya. But Sibi was a king and perhaps ruled Sivi, of today that is found in Pakistan. His area came to be called as “saura” and his descendants as “sauvira” of whom Jayathrath was a descendant in Mahabharata period. Gopathy, as this name shows tended the cows to escape the attention that he came from a kingly family. His region being North West part which is now in Pakistan, one can gauge the extent of terror for Parashurama at that time.

(4)    The king by name “Anga” (perhaps king of Anga desa) lived under the protection of Gauthama rishi in the Gangetic region. (Parashurama killed Angas but this king had managed to survive and live in secrecy.)

(5)    The next king mentioned is Brihadratha, who lived in secrecy in Kruthra koota. Kruthra koota is the name of the pond dedicated to Jatayu in a Divya Desa called Pullam Bhootham Kudi in Tamil nadu. From this it is deduced that Kruthra koota was the place where Jatayu confronted Ravana. This place is the Dandaka vana in the south of Vindhyas.

(6)    The descendants of Maruttha went to the southern seas and lived in cognito. This could be the seas south of Prabhas kshetra – the Arabian sea which was close to the Vindhyas.

These are the names given in Mahabharata as those who lived in secrecy to escape the wrath of Parashurama and  were reinstated as kings after some time.

Those who could not return were the Hehayas of the Kartha veeryarjuna clan who were the prime targets of Parashurama. The Munda – Savara tribes too had left their regions never to return. They must have had secret pilgrimages to Dakshina Kali but that was eventually stopped once Jagannatha cult started. From then onwards, they must have become totally isolated.

Savara – Sarna 

The name Savara, perhaps came to signify the religious beliefs as “Sarna”.  Savaras, by their name are Saura worshippers. The previous location at Dakshina Kali is a vantage location for Sun worship on the east coast. The Mundas and others are known for sun worship. To say Singbong was the Sun god is a corruption of thought over a period of time. But their worship of sun had stayed on. They worshiped sun and moon and considered them as pair which is what Shiva – Parvathi pair is about. Their emphasis on worship of ancestors of various kinds can be traced to the heavy loss of life they suffered in the hands of Parashurama. The natural features such as mountains, trees and rocks helped them to conceal themselves from being noticed by Parashurama who went out 21 times to kill the kshatriyas. That is why those features also became entities with soul worthy of worship. This is basically what Sarna religion is all about. The name ‘Savara’ had changed into ‘Sarna’ in course of time.

Now about the name, Munda. There is indeed a reference to Mundas in Mahabharata 3-51 as those who paid a tribute to Yudhishtra in the Rajasuya yaaga. But this name comes along with country of women which could be a reference to Sthree rajya (My article on the location of Sthree rajya at Straya Maina can be read here). This puts these Mundas in Kamboja as there is reference to Kambojas with shaven head in Mahabharata (read here). But the Mundas we are talking about are in the North – North east of India.

Analysing the name-cause, one of the tribes of Munda clan is known as Remo also known as Bonda tribes. They have a story connected to Sita of Ramayana. Some women of these tribes happened to see Sita taking bath in a pond and were cursed by her for having seen her bathing. The curse was that they must have their heads shaven and be naked. Later she rescinded the curse by allowing them wear a waist cloth. The story may be an imagination but what we cannot miss is that they have a memory of Ramayana and had lived even at that time. Parashurama was a contemporary of Rama of Ayodhya. His presence was there in Ramayana till Rama married Sita. If the Mundas and other tribes were the ones who went into hiding in inaccessible regions of forest and mountains, there is scope to believe that these people in the hiding were secretly following the happenings around. As Rama’s period overlapped  with Parashurama’s period, the people who accidentally got exposed to Sita or anyone from outside would have changed their looks to avoid detection. Women with shaven head and a waist cloth would have been treated as some tribals, and their true identity could not have been known. The name as Remo for these tribes, resembling Rama add substance to this story.

Remo girl.

This is where the name “Munda” gets its real meaning. Munda means shaven. On the Narota festival of the birth of a child, one of the important rituals is to remove the hair of the child with a razor. The baby is just 10 days old but it would have its hair cut at that time. This is something unthinkable for anyone unless there is a compelling reason or rationale among the people. A barber is called in on the day o Narota and the razor is blessed by the members of the family by touching it. The use of razor means that it was not merely a hair cut but a clean shave of the head. Why should they do it so early for a child? Why did it acquire a collective role for all in the family to have offered their blessing by way of good luck for the shave? 

The probable reason can be traced to the times the tribes managed to escape attention from Parashurama from annihilation. The initial survivors must have shaved their heads completely and changed the way they dressed. The subsequent generations too had maintained that to avoid detection. Another reason could be that since the clan had lost most of their people, many kids could have been born after the death of the father while fleeing. Once the baby had crossed the birth- pollution period, the first duty is to pay obeisance to the dead ancestor. As it is a practice to shave the head in death ceremony, the child gets head shaved on the day it is religiously born.

{Here I wish to add a note of the reference to rashi in naming the child. According to Vedic rituals the baby is given Jatha karma where the father for the first time calls the baby by the name of the star it is born. In Nama karma, the father addresses the baby as one born in so and so star and so and so Rashi and that the ceremony was meant for such a baby. One would not find the word “rashi” in the sutras, say Apasthambha sutras that I am referring to, but the word “rashi” does come into use in the mantra-prayoga during the ceremony. The mantras begin with a sankalpa and an identity of the person who is going to do that mantra prayoga. The identity lies with the star that one is born in. As nine stars are split in between rashis, there is a need to mention the rashi names for those stars. Anyone living in Vedic system would know that even while doing a puja in the temple, the priest would ask for the rashi only in the case of the 9 stars that are not wholly present in a rashi. The identification of a person by the name of the star that he is born is found in R-VJ 28 and Y-VJ 35.}

One of the tribes of this group consisting of Mundas, is Ho people, known for dancing and singing. They used musical instruments called Dama, Dumeng and rutu. Similar sounding people are Haha and Huhu people who are classified along with Tumvuru and Narada known for musical skills. They fit in the bill with Ho people who also managed to escape Parashurama’s fury. Though Haha and Huhu lived at the time of Mahabharata, Ho could have come in a sister clan and were on the run.

The Savaras are being mentioned in Mahabharata as those who became Kshatriya vrratyas due to the rage of Parashurama. The Savaras and others who fled had to live on whatever they could lay their hands on. They had to subsist on anything that they can catch hold of , say a frog or rat. Mahabharata 18-135 says,

“By accepting food from a eunuch, or from an ungrateful person, or from one who has misappropriated wealth entrusted to his charge, one is born in the country of the Savaras situated beyond the precincts of the middle country.”

This is to say that one would get degraded food in Savara areas which was beyond the Madhya desa – of Saraswathi basin. Though Savaras existed in seclusion, their existence was known to people in Mahabharata times. But their rules of exclusion advised by Singbonga initially had stuck with them and they continued such an existence. Their previous region must have been in the southern side, near Puri in Orissa which made them name their settlement as Datinakhali and look for their deity in Orissa region.

The name as Munda meaning “Mandai” or head in Tamil fits with their frightened beginnings of danger to head, as beheading was common mode of killing in wars. Thurston’s recording of the castes of South India contains a name “MandapOtho” who were found in Ganjam district and were roaming in the streets of Puri!! These places are connected with Mundas as per our analysis. To strengthen our analysis, we find that these people used to bury their heads as a way of attracting people to give them alms. Manda in MandapOtho means ‘head’ (Tamil word), Potho means “bury”. The Manda or Munda referring to head seems to be the name associated with a people of this region in Puri and Ganjam. Munda in Tamil means “headless body”. The MandapOtho people had exhibited headless body by burying the head in sand. All this goes to show that people with a name connected to Manda (head) or Munda (shaven or headless) were in existence in this part of the country.

Corroboratory evidence comes from Kocch- Mandai people of Bangladesh or Bengal. The Kocch- Mandai people must have been those who lived near river Kosi or Koshi. 

A Kocch Mandai woman

Here comes the important link with Parashurama times.
In the census record done in 1881 in the British India, the Suraj-bansi or Surya-vansi tribes of East Bengal had identified themselves as Kocch Mandai people but took up an identity as Surya vanshi – as Chattri (kshtraiyas) who threw away the sacred thread to “escape from the death-dealing axe of parashurama”. The identity as Surya vanshi is important as that is how the Savaras or Sauras were known as.

In the census of 1901 also, the “Mongoloid Kocch of Northern Bengal” also identified themselves as Raj vanshis and as Vratyas or Bhanga (Broken) kshatriyas who were made so in trying to escape the wrath of Parashurama.

In the census of 1881:- “The Aroras claim to be of Khatri origin. The Khatris, however, reject the claim. Sir Greorge Campbell is of opinion that the two belong to the same ethnic stock. They say that they became outcasts from the Kshatriya stock during the persecution of that people by Paras Ram, to avoid which they denied their caste, and described it as Aur or another, hence their name. Some of them fled northwards and some southwards, and hence the names of the two great sections of the caste, Uttaradhi and Dakhana.”

In the same census record, the Wanjaris of Maratha origin claimed that they were the allies of Parashurama in his war against Kshatriyas. “They assert that with other castes they were allies of Parasurama when he ravaged the Haihayas and the Yindhya mountains, and that the task of guarding the Vindhya passes was entrusted to them. From their prowess in keeping down the beasts of prey which infested the ravines under their charge they became known as the Yanya-Shatru, subsequently contracted with Wanjari. To confound them with the Banjara carriers castes, whose name “Vanachari” means “forest wanderers,” is to give them great offence”

These references also speak about the way how varieties of ‘castes’ were developed over time. The basis of the formation of these castes was not religion – Hinduism. There are familial, social, economic and political reasons for people to have lived in groups as distinct from each other and perpetuated them in due course. Only in a country of 1000s of years of past history, this kind of numerous varieties of such groups (called as castes) could have come as it is now with a billion plus people.

The fear of Parashurama resonated upto Pumpukaar of the Chola kingdom that the reigning king Kanthan handed over the kingdom to his son born to a concubine thinking that Parashurama would not consider him to be pure kshatritya race. (my article here).

Finally Parashurama crowned the one born to a Haihaya princess whose father was killed by him while his wife was pregnant with this child. Parashurama crowned him somewhere in Konkan region near a hill called Mooshika (in Tamil “Ezhil malai”). This king was called as Rama kuta Mooshika – one crowned by Rama of Bhargava kula. The so-called Indologists of foreign origin would flip this as a myth and even disregard Parashurama connections. But proof exists in many ways including in inscriptions that say that King Rajendra Chola I captured this crown given by Parashurama. This means till 1000 years ago, the people connected with Parashurama  had lived; till a century ago people with memory of their past connection with Parashurama had lived.

A corroboratory connection to Konkan exists with the Munda clans. The Kurukh or Korku clan among this groups located in North east India have been found to have come from Konkan region according to Indian Anthropological Society. The Saraswads were brought to Konkan by Parashurama and this shows that the original inhabitants had left Konkan to evade trouble from Parashurama. The Indologists may attempt to mark this migration of Saraswads to a recent past, but what cannot be denied is that Kurkus have been there in North east for very long.

Attempts will be made by foreign Indologists to say that Mundas and their co-habitants were non-Hindus. The wiki page writer on Savaras that gives the narration of the Savara king worshiping Lord Nrusimha in Puri did not think about his integrity and the absurdity when he wrote in the same article that Nationalist Hindu groups are working towards converting them to Hinduism! These tribes are already Hindus and a proof of continuity of Vedic tradition and historicity of Parashurama. One of the main deities worshiped by Mundas is Monsa. She is none other than Goddess Manasa Devi who appears with a child in her hand and found under the hood of snake. 

Mahabharata recognises the child as Astika who was born to release the ancestors. This aspect of the Devi might have been in the minds of these people for whom ancestor worship is foremost. But then it can be argued that Mahabharata post-dated Parashurama times. However there are Puranic allusions to her existence as a Goddess. The same idea of a Goddess with a child under protection is there in Tamil nadu also by the name Isakki amman. 

This Goddess is found in many regions of Tamilnadu where some valorous women in the deed of protecting a child could have been deified as Isakki. There is mention of Isakki as Iyakki in the 1st century AD text of Silappadhikaram, thereby establishing this deity as a continuing concept. By the name Iyakki, it means that she is one who drives the world / souls. She is Iccha shakthi of Creator God. That is identified as Manasa Devi. This original idea must have been there since long even before Parashurama’s times. Otherwise a secluded tribe worshiping this Devi is not possible. In the dream interpretations for which Mundas have their own ideas, sighting a snake in the dream was considered to be related to Monsa / Manasa Devi. This is proof of antiquity of Manasa Devi, whose image is recognised as Maari amman in Tamil lands.

The belief in Karam God and Dharam God and the superiority of Dharam God over karam God is another proof of Vedic past of the Mundas. The seven step procedure in marriage ceremonies, use of vermillion and conduction of marriage in Godhuli lagna in autumn season are also reminiscent of their early roots in mainstream Vedic society. In the absence of connect with Brahmins – which they could not do for fear of getting exposed – led them to discard Vedic rites as they had to be confined into the mountains for thousands of years. In this backdrop, a foreigner’s foray into their past with no grasp of any of the basics of our culture or the diverse links in the surrounding regions is fit to go in the way of Wendy Doniger’s work.

- Jayasree

On Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 4:08 PM, Lalit Mishra wrote:

Dear All,

In his one of the researches, Koenraad Elst who is still appreciated much by Indian indologists, for his having a foreign face in the list, recently stated that Munda's ritualistic practice of SARANA and Munda god "Singbonga" looks a bit like the Biblical Creator-God.

Sniffing such things, I had said that Elst is driven by Church under the carpet and his new act, proves it.

Pls refer to :

//  Singbonga, looks a bit like the Biblical Creator-GodTribal religions generally believe in one God, in a Supreme Being who goes by such names as the Great Spirit, the Great One, the Creator, the Mighty Spirit (...), etc. Although at times God is identified with the rain, light, dawn, fire, water, hills, the Supreme Being of the tribal people is usually independent of the material or astral world. (...) He has dominion over the entire universe." (p.44)


jayasree said...

From: Lalit Mishra
Date: Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 2:15 AM
To: Jayasree Saranathan

So, in brief, Underinformed church follower, Koenraad is somebody who succeeded with his gimmickry against broader perspective of prehistory and ancient history of India and could manage to publish a few books with his gimmicks and tricks.


Let's wish mercy prevail upon him and others like him.

jayasree said...

From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 6:06 AM
To: Jayasree Saranathan

A remakable, insightful piece, Smt. Jayasree Saranathan.
I think you should take it out of the Elst framework and publish it on your blog as a separate study on Munda traditions. They are remarkable people, and their ancestors were our pitr-s.
I think this has great importance in the context of defining Mleccha repeatedly mentioned in our ancient texts. It is possible to outline the language situation in India at the time of the Chandas. Tough challenge, by any standards,, but can be started.

Namaskaram. kalyan

jayasree said...

Arun upadhyay
Date: Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 11:48 AM
To: Jayasree Saranathan

This is most unbelievable Christian propaganda. Mundas are in Jharkhand & west Orissa since at least 18000 years when north axis of earth moved away from Abhijit (Vega). How it can be influenced by murderers of Jesus Christ whose successors declared to be Christians in about 400 AD? Munda basically means iron ore, like word murrum used for ferric oxide put on roads. Even the Vedic branch of Atharva veda of that region was called Mundaka and its readers are Brahmanas of Munda title in Kalahandi & Balangir districts of Orissa.


Saranathan TG said...

I am awed with amazement at the great efforts Smt.Jayasree has taken to cull out truth from our glorified Puranas and Itihasas. It is astounding to note that she has quoted from such remote references like Census of India to prove her point. I am unable to imagine her very vast and deep knowledge of our country and our heritage.Very convincing article.

jayasree said...

Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Sat, Feb 15, 2014 at 4:09 AM
To: Jayasree Saranathan

Your thesis is jumbled because you start some random irrelevant place that later gets connected. This works in film storyline but not here
just start by stating what Elst thesis is that's troubling and then give your response to it point by pt. Leave value judgment of his intentions for last by when reader will know what your point is.

I have serious interest in Munda issue. But I gave up after the first para.

Frank advice with good intentions.

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Rajiv Malhotra,

Technically the article begins from the paragraph with the meaning of Singbonga. The other parts starting from the first para until Virgin Mary were directed at an already continuing issue of a debate on roots of rashi in Vedic or Greek astrology and name- calling by Mr Elst in the course of those discussions. The provocation for me to write this article can be found at the end of the article from Mr Lalit's mail on Mr Elst's articulation of Singbonga with Biblical God.

Dr S. Kalyanaraman too suggested that I post the Munda part separately which I will be doing shortly. The narrative of this essay on Mundas is more of exploratory 'why' by taking it from one lead to another rather than by telling that this what really happened. I left out other features on agricultural similarities and selective oppression of Oddas and people from Vengala naadu (vanga naadu?) and "oduvanga naadu" (Odiya - vanga) who set up kilns in Kongu region, as an extension of the stigma they suffered due to Parashurama's fury - as they are later developments after a section of them started spreading out in the first millennium of the Common Era.


jayasree said...

From: Koenraad Elst
Date: Sat, Feb 15, 2014 at 6:14 PM
To: Jayasree Saranathan

Dear all,

This forum is indeed a madhouse. Jayashree, for instance, attributes to me the "articulation of Singbonga with Biblical God". Apparently she doesn't know the English sense of "articulation", but I get her meaning. My case, in my review ("hurried grazing") of a Christian's book about the Mundas, was precisely that the missionaries *falsely* equate Sing Bonga with the Christian God. This way, here and on other occasions, positions are attributed to me which actually are positions which I mentioned as someone else's for comment or even for refuting them. If you can not even define your opponent's viewpoint, there is no point in discussing anything.

I have given up on reading these posts, but have taken the trouble of reading this one. So I learn that the culture of the Mundas in Chotanagpur today is the consequence of what Parashuram did thousands of years ago on India's west coast. I also learn that the existence of the Narota festival among the Mundas proves the Indianness of the 12 Rashis, but also that they adopted the word "Narota" from Indo-Aryan "Navaratri", which suggests that they took the word along with the practice, adopting the Rashis from the Indo-Aryans who in turn had adopted it from the Greeks. The adoption of the Rashis took place seventeen or so centuries ago, whereas your knowledge of Munda culture does not go back farther than two centuries or so. Before that, they lived in isolation (at least the Indo-Aryans didn't report on them, though they managed to adopt terms like "Thakur" and practices from the Indo-Aryans) and there were no anthropologists, missionaries or Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram going to their area to study their culture.

Through a garbled and false etymology based on phonetic look-alikes, you deduce Mundari Sing Bonga from the Indo-Aryan place name Singhbhum, but Bonga ("deity") also from Vanga ("Bengal"), and then deduce that a Mahabharata verse about the Vangas must really pertain to the Mundas. Well, it is perhaps a good thing that this is a sterile discussion among Hindutvavadis and doesn't address a global audience, because you would be judged very harshly by them.

Kind regards,


jayasree said...

From: Jayasree Saranathan
Date: Sun, Feb 16, 2014 at 3:48 PM
To: Koenraad Elst

Dear Mr Elst,

Find my responses in red colour along with your mail.

//On Sat, Feb 15, 2014 at 6:14 PM, Koenraad Elst wrote:

Dear all,

This forum is indeed a madhouse. Jayashree, for instance, attributes to me the "articulation of Singbonga with Biblical God". Apparently she doesn't know the English sense of "articulation", but I get her meaning. My case, in my review ("hurried grazing") of a Christian's book about the Mundas, was precisely that the missionaries *falsely* equate Sing Bonga with the Christian God.//

What then is your pick on Singbonga? You had refused to see Indian connections in the location of Mundas and Savaras in your "brief little exercise in comparative religion". In the absence of it, what we see is an articulation of Singbonga as a Biblical God. But for this essay by yourself, no one would have thought of their God/s and beliefs as Christian are Jewish. If you had titled it as "Sarna - the Missionary records / point of view", no one would have raised questions. If you hadn't stated your aim as comparison of religions, no one would have questioned. Your title is misleading. We don't see any case study of a Natural religion in your article.

//This way, here and on other occasions, positions are attributed to me which actually are positions which I mentioned as someone else's for comment or even for refuting them.//

Show me a single line of your refutation of the Missionary view.

//If you can not even define your opponent's viewpoint, there is no point in discussing anything.//

What is your view point in that article? You have never said it until you came to the conclusion part where you have said that the article is an exercise in comparative religion. But throughout the article, comparison with only Abrahamic religions was done. Any reader is bound to see it as an exercise in bringing out the parallels between Sarna and Abrahamic religions and not as you claim.

//I have given up on reading these posts, but have taken the trouble of reading this one.
So I learn that the culture of the Mundas in Chotanagpur today is the consequence of what Parashuram did thousands of years ago on India's west coast.//

Cynical? Two inscriptions of Rajendra Chola -1 do exist on his confiscation of the crown originally anointed by Parashurama. (One dated at 1024 AD found on a rock on top of Thirumalaik kunRu near POLur and another dated 1031 AD found in the southern side of the sanctum sanctum of Rajarajeswara temple in Tanjore). By the11th century AD, the crown had come to the possession of Cholas. Were the Cholas wrong to have believed that it was actually given by Parashurama? You can reject that Parashurama ever lived as you reject Rama as a historical figure. But any real intellectual exercise can not ignore these inscriptions. If Parashurama had lived and crowned some one born to a widowed Hehaya princess, his story on his fury on Kshatriyas does hold water. The narration of some tribes of Northeast India as having given up kshatriyahood does hold water.


jayasree said...

(continued from above)

//I also learn that the existence of the Narota festival among the Mundas proves the Indianness of the 12 Rashis, but also that they adopted the word "Narota" from Indo-Aryan "Navaratri", which suggests that they took the word along with the practice, adopting the Rashis from the Indo-Aryans who in turn had adopted it from the Greeks.//

This is where we suspect your intentions. Who are Indo Aryans? Where were they when Mundas were supposed to be around? When did appear in India? This is a basic flaw in your write ups. You start with some assumptions which I could see in your article on tribal "Animism" too. From the assumption that they are of a different stock, you start your discourse whereas I am following inductive approach. I see so many factors around with a commonality, analyse them to see whether they are related to each other and based on that I come to the conclusion which is the basic common idea. In doing that we find relevance for Ithihasic characters like Parashurama. Your approach has no place for Ithihasas which I have seen in your mails.

On rashi, I asked you and your ilk in a previous interaction to define the term "rashi" and justify it in the case of Parva 'rashi' found in Veadnga Jyothisha, Rig and Yajusha Jothisha also have terms "Jnata rashi" and Jneya rashi". What does the word "rashi" in those terms mean? Without giving me answer you keep repeating that Rashi was borrowed from Greeks and was known to Indians some 17+ centuries ago. Define and justify before expecting us to believe that Rashi was imported from Greeks. (I know you have not read my articles on what all had gone to pre-Greek society from Tamils. Anyone who have read would think twice before making a claim on rashis).

I would say again that you know very little information at the ground level - which makes me say that you do only superfluous grazing. That is also because you don't read articles like these. The ground level information is that the 12 rashi knowledge is too rural that there are proverbs for each of them in Tamil - an examination which shows that they were formed well before 2000 years ago. I have analysed them here along with Hathigumpa inscription : There is more than what you think is there within the Hindu society Mr Elst.

The stretch of South India from Tamil nadu to Orissa and Bengal show ample scope for mixing up of views and following of the view on rashis.


jayasree said...

(continued from above)

//The adoption of the Rashis took place seventeen or so centuries ago, whereas your knowledge of Munda culture does not go back farther than two centuries or so.//

Not my knowledge, your knowledge. Your knowledge of Mundas is based on secondary sources such as Missionary sources of 200 years ago. I depended on ground level work done by researchers with academic interest. This is not a second hand data. I have attached the main part of the research that I referred for my essay.

//Before that, they lived in isolation (at least the Indo-Aryans didn't report on them, though they managed to adopt terms like "Thakur" and practices from the Indo-Aryans) //

Thakur? Do you think that Thakur is Indo -Aryan (what is Indo-Aryan?). There is a word "Thakkaar" in Tamil with the same meaning. It has a Tamil root. The variations of this are Thackarey, Thakur and Tagore. I can quote many like this and my inductive method brings me to the conclusion that fits with "apa-brahmsa" or corrupt Tamil, of the nature of Proto-Tamil and non- sanskrit Prakruth found throughout India. That was also the observation done by 1901 Census writers on the languages of India. Unfortunately Caldwell was given importance thanks politicians of Tamilnadu. The entire research community of today is behind 200 years in their understanding of linguistic commonality of pre-British India.

When you make assumptions beforehand and proceed from them, ideas like so and so didn't report on them or so and so adopted them come up. Can you justify with proof who adopted from whom and who influenced whom and when? What you are saying are conjectures. What I am giving is the inputs that is already present and that which match with each other.

//and there were no anthropologists, missionaries or Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram going to their area to study their culture.//

No need to have anthropologists et al to visit them and work with them. The linguistic and cultural factors are there to show what we are - all of us whom you wish to classify as Indo- Aryans or Hindus and tribals. Divisions came up later and periodically - one instance being the terror factor by Parashurama that made certain people live in seclusion in inaccessible areas.


jayasree said...

(continued from above)

//Through a garbled and false etymology based on phonetic look-alikes, you deduce Mundari Sing Bonga from the Indo-Aryan place name Singhbhum, but Bonga ("deity") also from Vanga ("Bengal"),//

Before speaking on phonetic look-alikes, justify how you could relate Krios of Greece with Kriya (sacrifice) of Vedic astrology? Forgot that you employed phonetic look- alike in that case?

//and then deduce that a Mahabharata verse about the Vangas must really pertain to the Mundas.//

Mahabharata does speak about Savaras in 10 places and Vangas too as those who became kshatriya vratyas due to fear of Parashurama. I had given the verse numbers in my essay. Yavanas and Kiratas also come under that category and are placed in NE India. I will be writing on Yavanas from Ithihasic sources and be assured that I wont trouble you by sending it to you.

Munda is a Tamil word for headless body. Obviously no Missionary work or the books you referred could have mentioned that. This is local knowledge which superfluous surfing can not detect. I explained MundapOthO in the article. Mundasu is also a word found in Tamil to signify the head-gear. Tamils generally don't wear head gear. But the heat of the place makes people tie up a cloth around the head. This is called Mundasu - Munda referring to head. How this name is there in Tamil? Mundas also say that Mundu means head, the Tamil word is Mandai - which I found in Kocch mandai!

There are many such info in our midst, which only a serous researcher would be interested to read and explore. I know you are not interested. There is no loss for me.

//Well, it is perhaps a good thing that this is a sterile discussion among Hindutvavadis and doesn't address a global audience, because you would be judged very harshly by them.//

Fine. Wish current researchers on Gunung Padang are listening to you. But they have no problem in taking "Hindutvavadi" views from me!! Do you know one thing? If their research succeeds in the way this Hindutvavadi thinks, that would put the beginning of Vedic knowledge in SE Asia before 12 to 15,000 years ago. The movement of Vediks from there to mainland India follows the genetic trail. Don't strain your mind with all that.

Good bye.

Virendra said...

Latest piece by Mr. Elst that I guess you wouldn't agree with.

rk said...

Fantastic response to Mr Elst Madam.
Mr Elst should put forward PRIMARY EVIDENCES to support his pet theory that Astrology came to India from Greece. He should also tell us who these Indo Aryans are. Put up or shut up is what they usually say here in Australia.
Some Whites, still in their colonial mind set, always take a lofty position and pooh pooh evidences staring at them.They just cannot help themselves. It is there in their blood. They still cannot get over the fact that in the past India had a greater civilization and were way ahead of the Whites in all fields.

jayasree said...

From: Jijith Nadumuri Ravi
Date: Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:26 PM
To: Jayasree Saranathan

Dear Jayasree

I value many of your works and articles. I value many of the works, books and articles on Dr Koenraad Elst too. It is a little saddening to see a conflict arising between you, which may be hopefully short lived, but unnecessary.

I am referring your latest article:-

As far as I know Dr Elst's position is against Christian missionaries and evangelism. A few years back it was he who cleared my confusion about the Christian missionary propaganda that idol worship is not approved by Vedas and it was a later corruption into Hinduism. So it is hard for me to believe that Dr Elst is in favor of Christian missionaries and evangelism or trying to belittle Hinduism or Hindu gods.
Certainly all of these could be result of some confusion.

I have no doubt that you know about the preface he has written to Ishwar Sharan's work on St Thomas, about the support he has given to Shrikant Talageri's books which propound OIT and argue efficiently against AIT and also his other articles such as these:- which is extremely critical about Jesus and Christianity.
Your knowledge about Tamil and Munda is also profound.

But I guess Dr Elst may be playing a role of a constructive criticizer. He does this sometimes on some of my articles at AncientVoice too. When he says 'I am not convinced of this or that' or otherwise speak in a dismissive tone , he usually means that we need to strengthen our case, or else the real intellectual enemies (such as those in the AIT camp) will tear our argument down down or finish us off. This is how I have taken some of his criticism.
This is my humble opinion.

Tejasvi Nau-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai

Warm Regards

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Jijith,

Thanks for sending this response so that I get an opportunity to express my stance.

Like you and many others, I admire Mr Elst on his work on AIT, OIT and Ram Janma Bhumi.He must be commended for all that. But when it comes to Hinduism, his scholarship is questionable. His views on re-birth, karma, Aum etc that you can read in his website are some examples. I don't consider that as an issue as he is only going through the process of churning which may take more births for him to come to realize them as inborn wisdom.

But what concerns me are his ideas on (1) astrology, Hindu festivals and (2) on Ramayana and Mahabharata. The former one is such that astrology is closely connected with Hindu religious practices. When he questions some tenets of astrology of the Vedic society, the festival dates, thithi etc, it means he is intruding my Puja room. I know of readers who were confused by such ideas by him and even started thinking that we, Hindus are fools and out-dated. This is typical of Invading my Sacred that Mr Rajiv Malhotra had unfortunately failed to take note of.

Let me give a simple allegory to explain my point of view. We think that Mundas have their own customs and traditions and that we must respect them and not interfere with their beliefs. Similarly with Hindus. We have our customs and beliefs that nobody else outside my system has the right to question or abuse or mis-interpret them. If I behave wrongly in discharge of my tradition,in a way that is violative of human rights or someone else's space or any civic issue, then they can question me. The issues on sati, dowry menace, child marriage etc come under this. But no one from outside my system can question the dates that I fix for my festivals and abuse me that I have lack of knowledge. There are plenty of reasons and rationale for why my ancients had chosen a date for a festival. There are many reasons why I celebrate a festival / conduct a vratha in a way different from others within my own system. He can not know them. Whatever he thinks that he is right is because of his flawed understanding of the dates and tradition behind fixing the dates. His take on Makar sankaranthi is clearly a case of Invading the Sacred.

I sent him and his supporters and scores of others a list of inscriptions pertaining to the dates of Makar sankaranthi (mentioned in the inscriptions as Uttrayan Sankaranthi) when this was celebrated in the past, say about 1000 years ago. A cross-check with those dates would reveal whether people in those days too made 'a cosmic mistake'. An analysis in those lines would be an objective way to settle the issue and know of discrepancies if any. I wonder whether they even bothered to read my mail. There was no response.
You can read the mail here:-

On Kumbh Mela, the rationale of the dates go back in time and can be related to the "Mina rashi" verse in Vedhanga Jyothisha which he thinks is an interpolation. My article sent to him and others can be read here:-

On ayanamsa, the original Vedic view has never been understood by Westerners. As with everything else on Vedic ideas, they (he) viewed it from a western perspective. I wrote about it as it existed in our culture which is more obvious from the way we understand from horoscope and interpreted as the to and fro movement of equinoxes. It can be read here:-

Any objective cross-checking is possible by examining this in the light of Milankovitch oscillation of changing axial angle of the earth.


jayasree said...

The second issue is about his views on Ramayana and Mahabharata. I don't think they are in public domain. When I came to know of them through private main chains, I was shocked beyond disbelief. When I found him repeating them in defense of Hellenistic astrology as root of some core and inseparable ideas of Vedic astrology, I started getting doubts whether he is working on a design:- Speak for Hindus and win their confidence; then start abusing their ideas. His repeated attack bordering on abusive language puts at nil whatever good he has done in his works on AIT etc.

Do you know that he does not believe in the historicity of Ramayana and Mahabharata? He doesn't think that Vyasa ever lived. Have you ever read him express them in public? Do you know that he considers Rama as only a fictional character - an ideal persona created to serve a religious purpose? Do you know on what basis he makes this claim? On the basis of the chapter on Ram Janma Patrika in Valmiki Ramayana. That chapter describes the planetary positions at the time of Rama's birth. According to Mr Elst, Indians did not know of rashis until they learned it from Greeks with whom interaction started after Alexander's invasion!! So the final compilation of Ramayana must have happened after interpolating this, after gaining this knowledge from Greeks! How many of you, from the general public know this view of Mr Elst?

When I told this to a functionary connected with Kanchi Sankara Mutt, his initial reaction was to ignore it as no one would buy his idea. But when I told him that he has faithful readers, who are ready to be brain washed by him, could he realize the dangers we have from people like him whom we otherwise thought are doing good to Hinduism. I think this must make you understand that what is being told is more important than who had told them. Perhaps his closed mind on Ramayana and Mahabharata makes him refuse to see links to Mundas' origins from within a pre-existing Vedic society at the time of Parashurama.


(PS: I am sharing this mail with others in the mail chain)

jayasree said...

From: Jijith Nadumuri Ravi
Date: Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 12:34 PM
To: Jayasree Saranathan
Cc: Koenraad Elst, Rajiv Malhotra, S.Kalyanaraman, krishna joshi shobhan ganji, PROF TIWARY HV, Shrikant talageri,Bal Ram Singh, Subhash kak, Lalit Mishra, shivraj singh, Michel Danino, Kosla Vepa.

Dear Jayasree

I have read this article (Sarna:A case study in Natural Religion) some time back in Dr Elst's website Bharatvani, in the section on Christianity, but I have read it with more focus now as you have forwarded it.

I revisited the Bharatvani site to locate the article once again. I found it here:-
See the list of articles in this topic:-

The use of Dalits and racism in anti-Hindu propaganda
The Problem of Christian Missionaries
Father Rasschaert's Martyrdom
Sarna: A Case Study in Natural Religion
Salvation: Hindu influence on Christianity

He is generally speaking in favor of Hinduism and against Christianity in these articles, as far as I can see. Besides, the article under question (Sarna:A case study in Natural Religion) is very old, presumably 10 years or more. Since Dr Elst is coming from a Judo Christian background into Dharma traditions, we can excuse his attempt of finding several connections between Munda belief with the Jewish belief in his early days of comparative studies.
I guess what Sri Rajiv Malhotra and Dr S Kalyanaraman has said in this regard has great merit. Let your article stand minus the personality clash with Dr Elst, so that future generations can evaluate the merit of your article on Munda with that of Dr Elst. Why should we waste so much energy into personality clashes, while we can use it to do deeper analysis of our chosen topics of interests?
Second, we cannot demand all the scholars working with us to have belief in the historicity of Rama or Krishna. There are even many Hindus, devotees and scholars well versed in Sanskrit who are uncomfortable with pondering the historicity of Rama and Krishna, simply because such an exercise would require them to sacrifice many beliefs about them such as Rama was born in an "astronomically big" Treta Yuga which occurred millions of years ago or the belief that Rama lived for a 1000 years etc. They are comfortable to consider Rama and Krishna as existing in "some divine but imaginary space-time" where all beliefs about them as described in Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas are absolutely true, because of which they really don't like people like you or me who ponder the historicity of Rama or Krishna or assert that they were historical persons locate-able in our space and time, in BCE.


jayasree said...

(continued from above)

Dr Elst, as far as I know, is an atheist or close to that. Yet he chose to argue in favor of Hindu's right to worship Rama in Ayodhya and to build temple for Rama there based on pure belief of people, that Rama was born there, irrespective of whether the historicity of Rama is proven or not. So, unlike many, his non-belief in the historicity of Rama or Krishna, is not based on hatred towards Rama or Krishna or Hinduism but based on principle of scientific inquiry where solid evidence is demanded for accepting something to be absolutely true. Whatever evidence is available for the same, I and you are comfortable with it, so that we do not have any hesitation in accepting the historicity of Rama and Krishna as a fact. But others like Dr Elst have set a higher standard (of-course a materialistic standard and not spiritual) for the quality of the evidence so as to be convinced about it.

I guess the materialistically oriented science is slowly giving way to more "spiritual-friendly" science, starting with the advent of Quantum Consciousness studies which is now lead by physicists like Dr Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff. This is sure to affect all sciences and even humanities and history. This will dilute the "materialistic" thinking process of all great thinkers and scholars, now that science is at the door step of understanding consciousness and its entanglements in a formal way, apart from the experience of consciousness in the spiritual realm through Vedanta and Yoga.
In situations where my personality or ego clashes with another fellow researcher, senior or junior in capability to me, I generally tend to give secondary importance to the ego clash for the benefit of the propagation of Dharma by working together. As an example, once I went to visit Dr N Gopalakrishnan, who is a scholar with many doctorates and who work for the growth of Bharatiya Samskrti, by forming an organization called Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage (IISH). I went with my 5 year old son, taking a flight from Mumbai to Cochin, with the primary objective of visiting him. But due to reasons known only to him, he refused to speak with me. (Perhaps the person who introduced me to him, did not wait for his meditation to complete, and he might have felt I am intruding into his meditation). I was really hurt by this and wanted to do something to heal my bruised ego. But when I thought about the larger purpose, viz. the propagation of Dharma, I realized that I should give only second importance to my individuality and ego, and so I continue to support Dr N Gopalakrishnan by writing about his speeches and hosting his YouTube videos in my websites.
We all are expert in some fields of knowledge while weak in some other fields of knowledge. Fortunately but, we are all working together, complementing and reinforcing each other and creating great joy to our collective consciousness!

Om sahanavavathu; sahanau bhunaktu; sahaviryam karavavahai; Tejaswinavadhitamastu; ma vidvisavahai ,Om santih'santih. santih
Om, may Brahman protect us. May Brahman nourish us. May we both acquire energy by this study. May we become illumined by this study. May we not hate each other. om. peace. peace. peace.

Taitariya Upanishad, Chapter 2 Brahmanda Valli, 2.1

Warm Regards

jayasree said...

From: Jayasree Saranathan
Date: Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Dear Mr Jijith,

(Note: No personal offense meant to anyone.)

Thanks for batting for Mr Elst. It is for people like yourself, I am concerned that they must know what they must take and what they must reject of Mr Elst's writings.

First of all, your talk on ego clash doesn't apply to me. I am a non- entity. I have nothing to lose - name or fame or money or stature or academic acceptance or anything and nothing to gain except the feeling that my people do not get mis-led.

As you yourself had admitted, the so-called "Higher standard" of Mr Elst is his scientific-materialistic approach. It is called Charvaka methodology based on Prathyaksha Pramana, which does not work in spiritual issues. It works well in events and issues like AIT, OIT and Ayodhya. His methodology and his utility stops at that. How many of his readers realize this? He has created a band of followers who are becoming agnosts and anti- Hindus and get trained to reject our sources of knowledge as he does.

Latest example: His pick on festival dates had created a band of writers who are trying to promote 'reformed' calendar where they had fraudulently interpreted Adesh parta of Kanchi Mutt and an Adesh parta of Dwaraka sankara mutt given 12 decades ago. Recently I took up this matter with Sanakara Mutt and learnt from them that Acharyas had not endorsed their views. These guys draw their sap from none other than Mr Elst. There is every danger of internet browsing generation getting misled by Mr Elst and start questioning the festivals and festival dates of Hindus which you must be aware are based on many local and religious factors and not on what Elst thinks.

On Ramayana and Mahabharata: You know how many interpretations are there on Yugas within Mahabharata itself. It is not in lakhs of years. That is about sun's movement around the centre of galaxy. Markandeya's yuga classification is only about 12,000 +12,000 years which fits with archaeological dates of end of Ice age that saw Saraswati river gushing 4 miles wide, with Ram setu and Krishnavatara and Hancock's maps. The same Mahabharata shows Kunti talking about Dharma based Yuga classification. That gives us the clue to justify the Guruparampara details on the time period of Azhwars of Vaishnavite traditions that mention them as being born in Krutha, Tretha or dwapara yuga etc while we know they were born in the times of kings of historically documented period. Like this there are so many internal cross references for us which our people were aware until our traditional education was intact. I have not seen such grass root ideas in Mr Elst's writing.


jayasree said...

He is in pretty high level of searching whether Bhakthi or re-birth idea is there in Rig Vedas or not. In our tradition I am not authorised to chant Rig Veda - not even the Shree Sooktha passages. My son cannot recite them without proper channel through an Acharya. But no such thing binds Mr Elst. If my son reads Mr Elst's write-ups on these (Veda- based), I will certainly pull him out to show him what Vedartha sangraha says or what Acharya Hrudhayam says. (Given a chance to read them, Mr Elst would be keen on dating them and refuting them from "Vedic" ideas to show which were later additions or non-Vedic. For us this Thought is blood: for him it is academics- this is where his goal and our goal differs.). Fortunately for my son, this situation did not arise as I feed him all these by myself, like how I was fed by my parents. But not everyone has this advantage. With the basic feeding on our Thought one is free to check what others say and how they say and even explore in other ways. One can argue and debate and form one's own conclusions - not with the basics learnt from a Charvaka but from our Thought. Does Mr Elst give the Basics is a question.

Power of writing is such that readers get addicted to their favourite authors that they fail to realize in due course that they already know better stuff. As an example, I can quote you for taking up the 'astronomically big yuga' idea when you yourself had complied the various yuga classifications from Mahabharata in your web site itself. You seem to have forgotten that in your defense of Mr Elst.

I am not against historical proof of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Infact I am hell bent on doing that. But he refuses to see any proof from India - archeological, epigraphic and literary - and abuses us in tamasic ways instead of answering them. A case in point is Yavana. Yavana presence is there in NE India from Mahabharata, and NW India from so many sources. He will just reject them. If you reject Ramayana and Mahabharata, you reject every history of India - and even lose a chance to decipher the history and geography of other parts of the world from them!

On Munda, I originally planned my article on Mundas in connection with "Were Brahmins bad?" series where I stopped with Parashurama. Once you go into Parashurama, you will come across a whole lot of other issues starting from Aryan kavu pass behind 'Dravida desa' in SW India to Kocch mandai in NE India in addition to the formation of "castes" and out-casts for the first time in India. It required lot more time of mine on that series which I could not afford at the moment. But when I came across this Sarna article with no trace of Indian connections, I felt it necessary to write now than postpone it later - to write along with my series. I know this article had created a stir to such an extent that my name got changed into J Sree Nath after passing through many mouths:) Mr Kalyan and Mr Malhotra like others are keen on Munda facts. That is why they have asked for them – and certainly not to bat for Mr Elst as you have been doing:))

You concluded that we are writing to complement each other. We are writing to reinforce Vedic traditions and Thought. Just ask Mr Elst whether he is doing that? After recognizing him as an atheist, you still think that his write-ups offer a complement to our understanding of Vedic way of life, to our people who are his followers?