Friday, November 27, 2015

History-rewriting shouldn't mean restating Puranic accounts of history

It is in the #Ayodhya debate that I have learned the power of historical scholarship, says @Koenraad_Elst: … #ICHR

There are very few hold-outs of Hindu-minded history, and these are admittedly not very creative, nor have they got international standing. The Marxists have always had their eye on the cultural sector, but after Indira Gandhi needed their support in a power struggle, some fifty years ago, they really got their chance. Thapar’s collaborators PN Haksar and Nurul Hasan changed the face of India. “Hindu” became a dirty word, and any young historian classified as a conscious Hindu could forget an academic career.

This power equation was aggravated by the passivity of the Hindu Nationalists. As the only nationally organized Hindu force, they claim to be the vanguard of Hindu society. If so, they should not be proud of their achievements in this field, where Hinduism has only been losing ground. They have never invested in scholarship.

The result can now be seen, when Narendra Modi’s government would like to pack the universities with pro-Hindu or pro-Modi vice-chancellors and other prominent professors, but fail to find qualified people.

But there was no session about what Hindus themselves had done wrong in MM Joshi’s textbook reforms of ca. 2002, a horror show of incompetence.

But organized Hinduism has produced nothing except some obscurantist repetition of scripture as if it were history.

To be sure, historians have to navigate between many uncertainties and unknowns. Some of these may be resolved through research or by unexpected discoveries, others will be your companion throughout your career. So you ought to exercise some clemency here and accept that the rules of the hard sciences do not always apply to history. Even so, her school could indeed have done better in the Aryan origins debate.

In terms of the evidence now available, you are right to call the Invasion Theory (which some weasels now prefer to call a Migration Theory, though it amounts to the same thing) “discredited”. But in terms of academic opinion, it is not yet discredited at all.

Historians ignoring the astro-chronological evidence, linguists ignoring the archaeological evidence: this is abnormal and unhealthy, and the first thing to do now is to break through these walls and get people to listen to the other side. 

Yes, there is plenty of criticism of the Hindutva movement (I myself have written quite a bit of it), but here it is really on the right side. Opposing the Aryan Invasion Theory is not only defensible from a scholarly viewpoint, it also happens to be politically correct.

This is my own initiative: the organized Hindu movement should take an advance on the results, and it will eventually reap the fruits, but it is not doing anything at all to further this research and this debate.

And this makes me think of one more important aspect of the Aryan debate. A debater confident of his position will seek to debate the strongest version of the opposing position.
The Thapar School is very status-conscious. When I studied the RSS, I thought it was an RSS trait that they will hire as a guest speaker an enemy with status rather than a friend without it.

Puranic Hindus paid lip-service to the God-given revealed Vedas whereas the Vedic seers themselves knew that the hymns were not revealed by a Supreme Being but skillfully composed by human poets.
Ancient Hindus wrote the Vedas, medieval Hindus crawled before the Vedas. Most Hindus believe that the seers Vishvamitra and Vasishtha had a caste-based rivalry, because at a later time caste had become very important, whereas the Rg-Veda doesn’t mention anything about caste. So, the distant past is distorted by the recent past and by the present, and it is part of the historians’ job to reconstruct the events as they looked to their own agents.

I am not impressed by all the rhetoric with which the RK Mission is trying to leave the sinking ship of Hinduism.
“Hindu” is now a dirty word, the secularists have seen to this, and so everybody is running towards the exit, saying: “We are not Hindu.”
Just watch how Hindutva spokesmen perform in TV debates: their communication skills are dismal, because they have always despised intellectual work, both in scholarship and on the media front.

@jothishnair1010 @TRILOKHNATH Please go through latest scientific findings which favour AIT/AMT without any bias.

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