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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Continuity in Indian spiritual and religious artifacts from Mehrgarh

In Search of the Cradle of Civilization From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search
In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India is a 1995 book by Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, and David Frawley that argues against the theories that Indo-European peoples only arrived in India in the middle of the second millennium BC (Indo-Aryan migration) and supports the notion of "Indigenous Aryans". Published by Quest Books, a branch of the Theosophical Society in America, it targets a popular audience.
The "Aryan Invasion Theory debate" in India has strong political overtones, and the book is exemplary of a series of ideological Hindutva revisionist literature appearing since the 1990s, and has only been reviewed academically as such (in the "Hindu nationalism and Vedic science" chapter of Sokal 2006). Contents[hide] 1 Content 2 Criticism 3 Bibliographic information 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References
Contradicting established historical linguistic views, the authors argue that Vedic civilization grew out of the "Indus-Sarasvati civilization", which is what they call the Indus Valley civilization. The authors enumerate fifteen arguments for their revisionist views. Several of these arguments emphasize linguistic, architectural, cultural, agricultural, and technological continuity between Harappan culture, the Vedas, and post-Vedic Hinduism. They also argue that it is improbable that the Vedas were the product of a nomadic or semi-nomadic group, an uncontroversial point, since mainstream opinion considers only the Rigveda as containing memories of an earlier nomadic period while the later Vedas are uncontroversially the product of a settled society native to India.
The authors do not claim that India is the Urheimat (original homeland) of the Indo-Europeans (the "out of India model"), but rather that "the Aryans could just as well have been native to India for several millennia, deriving their Sanskritic language from earlier Indo-European dialects."
The authors find continuity in Indian spiritual and religious artifacts from Mehrgarh, one of the first cities in the world, to the present. It should be noted that historical linguistics does not rule out elements of cultural continuity in spite of language change, so that such claims, likewise, are not in conflict with mainstream opinion. In the view of the authors, however, this alleged continuity rules out the later influx of another ethnic group, pushing back the date of the migration of Indo-Europeans into the subcontinent very far indeed. New age writer Deepak Chopra hailed the book as "ground-breaking"[1].

[edit] Criticism
Alan Sokal (2006) quotes Feuerstein, Kak, Frawley (1995) as an example of Hindutva ideology that rejects "Western" scientific method as arbitrary, and aims to put in its place a claim of universality of "Vedic" science instead,[2] an approach which he argues is pseudoscience (p. 41) and selection bias:
"Any findings of modern science that undermine the Vedic metaphysics are either discreetly ignored or else ascribed to Western materialist and monotheistic prejudices. In this way, Hindutva ideologues attempt to have their cake and eat it too." (p. 41)
opining that the Hindutva ideological claims of modern science being contained in the Vedas is "about as plausible as the contention of The Bible Code:
"It would be the stuff of comedy, were the context - destruction of the mosque at Ayodhya by Hindu mobs, repeated pogroms against Muslims and other religious minorities, the potential of nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan - not so serious." (p. 44)

[edit] Bibliographic information
Georg Feuerstein, Subhash Kak, David Frawley, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization: New Light on Ancient India, Quest Books (October, 1995), ISBN 0-8356-0720-8.
2001 reprint, Quest Books,
ISBN 978-0835607414.
2005 reprint,
Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-8120820371.

[edit] See also
Aryan Invasion of India: The Myth and the Truth (1993)
Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate (1999)
The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis (2000)

[edit] Notes
^ In Search of the Cradle of Civilization In Search of the Cradle of Civilization. Quest Books. The Theosophical Publishing House.
^ "The Vedas are the earliest available expression of the perennial philosophy, or universal spirituality", Feuerstein, Kak, Frawley 1995, p. 274; "[A]ccording to Vedic tradition, science and religion are not only compatible but essentially identical, because both endeavor to know the truth." ibid., p. 279

[edit] References
Meera Nanda (2003). Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press.
ISBN 0813533589.
Alan Sokal, 'Pseudoscience and Postmodernism: Antagonists or Fellow-Travelers?' in: Garrett G. Fagan (2006). Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public. Routledge. ISBN 0415305934.

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