by: N. S. Rajarama, and David Frawley
Publisher: World Heritage Press , Pages: 176 , Price: $19.95 , ISBN: 1-896064-00-0
Reviewed by: Dr. K. D. Prithipaul Emeritus Professor of Religion at University of Alberta, Edmonton
The impact of colonization during the British domination of India was not merely political and economic. It extended to the collective psychology of the people and in the latter's perception of its own culture. This was noticeable in the manner in which the educated Indian citizen came to view his or her past. The myth that quickly gained credence in academic circles arose from the Western Indologists' view that ancient Indian history was initiated by an invasion of Aryans coming from somewhere in Central Asia. Several generations of Indian scholars, honestly mistaken by the assumption that the learned philologists trained in the scientific and "objective" methods of research in Western academe, conscientiously taught and wrote the history of their country by taking the myth of the Aryan invasion as a starting point.
Of late, however, some Indian historians and Indologists have deemed it necessary, under the imperative of truth-seeking, to reexamine the premises (1) of the Western philologists' claim of the veracity of an Aryan-invasion theory and (2) of its cultural consequences. Drs. N. S. Rajaram and D. Frawley have, in this context, brought forth a cogent, coherent argument that purports to lie to rest once and for all the erroneous theory of the Aryan invasion of India around 2000 BCE. To buttress their thesis the authors use the resources of their deep knowledge of the Sanskrit language, their acquaintance with the most recent archaeological discoveries, their expertise in mathematics and in coíputing science. In short, they bring to a focus a remarkable synthesis of several "disciplines" to unlock the arcane secrets of Sanskrit texts that the early Indologists overlooked. The evidence thus brought forth from several original sources provides sound reasons to refute the earlier invasion theory. The dominant idea that gives the clue to their theme is that while the Aryans have a literature, but no history or geography, the Harappans have a sophisticated urban civilization, a history and geography, but no language or literature. The paradox disappears when the two are assimilated into a unitive history and geography. It becomes logical then to argue for North India as the original home of the Aryans. The authors further argue for a reversal of the movement of the Aryans: they moved "out of" India into the outlying areas, in ancient Persia and beyond. This new theory receives support from archaeology and from a comparative analysis of Mesopotamian and Egyptian mathematics with Vedic mathematics. It is evident that the polyvalent learning of the authors provides a vastly superior key to the secrets of the past than the mere gratuitous speculation of earlier Indologists, of Friedrich Max Muller in particular. In fact the authors do pay a worthy tribute to Max Muller for his many attainments and for his contributions to the discovery of India by Western scholars. At the same time, faithful to their own insights and convictions, based on their own findings, they demonstrate how the foundation of the invasion theory was more an expression of the prejudice fed by racist theories that were spawned by Western academic anthropology and supported by the triumphant colonial enterprises of West European countries.
The significance of this work consists in its being an important confirmation of Indian history having at last decisively come into its own, freed from the distortions of the arbitrary normative conclusions of earlier Western historians. The authors pay tribute to other scholars - D. Sethna, S. Talageri, S. B. Roy, K. C. Varma, and others - whose contributions have altered the perception of ancient Indian history with the evidence that it actually had an indigenous genesis. With a fair measure of self-reliance and confidence, they even propound the thesis that the early Vedic civilization was not merely a locally restricted way of life, but actually spread out to other parts of West Asia and Africa. A welcome aspect of this work is its refutation of certain Marxist Indian historians who persist in their attachment to the superstitious theories bequeathed by the Indologists of Max Muller's generation. The authors rightly point out that "not one significant contribution has been made by Indian historians belonging to the elite 'establishment'." At the same time they make it clear that they are not driven by the need to write an apology of Indian chauvinistic nationalism. Theirs is a statement of veracity based on hard evidence. At the same time the authors recognize that their work is not the last say in the ongoing process of unveiling the truth about ancient Indian history. They acknowledge that gaps still remain in the task of reinterpreting Vedic history. Nevertheless, their contribution provides substantial material that will enable the historians of India to work towards the common goal of knowing what happened at the beginning of the Vedic civilization and to collaborate with one another to bring about a synthetic reconstruction of the historical integrity of the country.
Vedic "Aryans" and the Origins of Civilization stands out as a major original and fresh statement of what India was. It is lucidly written. The intricacies of the mathematical discussions and of Vedic linguistics, are expressed with clarity in a language which will appeal to both the scholar and the layperson. This is indeed a felicitous way of writing about a difficult and abstruse subject. The book is commendable for its style, the seriousness of its purpose, and for the originality of the thesis that claims to establish that the moral and intellectual order that marked the early Vedic culture arose in that part of India irrigated by the Sarasvati River, a region that then stood as a greenhouse in which were grown the saplings that were subsequently transplanted and grew into the trees of civilizations in the surrounding lands.
The reader must rush to read this very well written book on a subject that will fascinate even those unacquainted with the history of India.
The book can be ordered from:
World Heritage Press, 1270 St-Jean, St-Hyacinthe, Canada J2S 8M2