Posts Tagged ‘Historiography’

Sanskrit has also contributed to Indus civilisation: Asko Parpola

July 7, 2010

Sanskrit has also contributed to Indus civilisation

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/79062/sanskrit-has-contributed-indus-civilisation.html

Sanskrit has also contributed to Indus civilisation
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Ancient civilisations and long un-deciphered mysterious scripts have always been hauntingly engaging challenges to the human consciousness.
Fired by John Chadwick’s classic in archaeology, ‘The Decipherment of Linear-B’, that chronicles how the secrets of the late Minoan and Mycenaean civilisation in ancient Greece were unveiled, renowned Indologist Prof Asko Parpola set out on an equally challenging task over 45 years back to crack the script of the Indus Valley Civilisation. For someone who has done a lifetime of monumental research on ‘Deciphering the Indus Script’ even using modern computerised tools, Parpola, whose path-breaking study on ‘A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem’ had bagged the ‘Kalaignar M Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Research Award’ at the ‘World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC)’ in Coimbatore, is remarkably self-effacing and realistic. A diligent scholar from Finland in both ‘Vedic’ and ‘Dravidian’ studies,spoke to M R Venkatesh of ‘Deccan Herald’.

Excerpts:

What prompted you to undertake this amazing intellectual journey?

Well, my interest in the Indus Script was aroused during my student years. I also studied the classical languages of Europe, Greek and Latin, when I became a student of Helsinki University in 1959. At that time there was much discussion whether the ‘Linear-B Script’ had been deciphered or not. Actually it had been deciphered in 1952. A book on it by John Chadwick came out in 1960. I read it and it was quite fascinating. I was quite convinced that this (decipherment) is correct though there were still some Greek scholars who were sceptical. And then, my childhood friend Seppo Koskenniemi who was working for IBM in Finland asked if I would like to try computers for any problem in my field. He volunteered to do the programming; so at that time I thought we might do something useful to promote the study of the Indus Script. Because compiling statistics (on the frequency with which signs are repeated, etc.) has been very useful in all decipherment
attempts. My brother Simo who studied ‘Assyriology’ also joined the team.

How did you use computer technology in this study of Indus Script as India’s renowned epigraphist, Iravadham Mahadevan says you are the first person to have done it?

Asko Parpola: Well, it is not me. Seppo Koskenniemi and his brother Kimmo Koskenniemi, who is now Professor of Computer Linguistics at the University of Helsinki, assisted me. They have been there from the beginning.

On your seminal work on the Indus Script, what effected your change of approach to include sociology, anthropology and linguistics, instead of just an epigraphist approach that failed to make headway earlier?

Well, actually, I have not changed my approach. It has been there all the time.
I think every aspect has to be taken into consideration. We have to take advantage of every possible source (of knowledge) at our disposal.

Your solution to the Indus Script riddle – that the underlying s a syncretism rather than a collusive view of Indo-Aryan and the Dravidian family of languages. Your comments please?

Yes, I think these two language families have been in contact with each other ever since the Indo-Aryan speakers entered South Asia. It is impossible to leave Indo-Aryan sources out of account. They have preserved very important information of Harappan heritage.

One of 20th century’s greatest philosophers Wittgenstein had said understanding a language is understanding a whole form of life. Has your findings on Indus Script vindicated that insight on how language works?

Well, may be. You are putting it in very lofty words. I think every language is a unique way to see the world. I am using this phrase in connection with the tragic situation that is prevailing now in the world. So many languages, minority languages, are disappearing. At the moment, we are still having may be some 5,000 languages in the world, but very rapidly a large number of them have disappeared. It is just as with plant and animal species. Once they have gone, you can’t get them back and each of them is a unique
creation which is very valuable.

But these linguistic identities, when politicised, could lead to all kinds of disastrous consequences. So how is a harmonious understanding of world languages possible?

Yes. Besides Tamil, there are other Dravidian languages that have descended from the proto-Dravidian. But Tamil has preserved the language structure in a very archaic form. And also it has very ancient sources that are very precious. But at the same time, we must say that ‘Sanskrit’ has also preserved a very important part of the Indus heritage. So, it is impossible to say that there is something like ‘pure Dravidian’ or ‘pure Aryan’. They should not be pitted against each other. I mean, there has been mixture from the beginning. And even if you look at the history of Tamil Nadu, the ‘Brahmins’ were here
already in ‘Sangam’ times. So, they have also contributed hugely to the Tamil civilisation. So you have at least these two main language groups in India from very early times, side by side.

Your next project: will you continue your work on the Indus script?

I think it will be difficult not to continue, but actually my PhD was originally on ‘Sama Veda’ and I have been doing ‘Sama Vedic’ research in South India for many decades. There is a lot of material which I have not really had a good opportunity to work on, but which I would like to publish. Also, the ‘Thirukkural’ (of Tamil Saint-poet Thiruvalluvar) is a timeless book. I am working on a translation of it into Finnish and I would like the Finns also to have it.

How do you see the WCTC’s significance? Has it provided a platform to take forward your work on the Indus script?

Yes, I think so. For the Indus script it (WCTC) is certainly very important, a big boost to draw the attention of more Tamil and other Dravidian scholars into this venture. Scholars should get funds to pursue the studies further.

The Mediterranean connection

June 26, 2010

The Mediterranean connection by Sirpi Balasubramanian

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article482105.ece

Sirpi-Balasubramanian

Sirpi-Balasubramanian

Theories abound on the origin and diffusion of the Dravidian race and its languages. Australian, African, Lemurian and Harappan origins have been widely discussed by anthropologists, historians and philologists again and again.

In 1963, a scholarly work Dravidian origins and the west by Dr. N. Lahovary, translated from his original French work, was published in English and sadly it did not receive the attention it richly deserved. In the words of eminent historian K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, Lahovary seeks to demonstrate that just as the Indo-Aryan Languages of Northern India are related to the Indo-European languages of Northern and Eastern Europe, so also the Dravidian Languages of South India are more or less closely related to a near Eastern and Mediterranean agglutinative group of languages of Pre Indoa-European Times.

Mr. Lahovary tries to establish a close relationship between the oldest elements in Basque – a Pre-Indo-European Language which still survives in the Pyrenness on the border land between France and Spain. Mr. Lahovary is of the opinion that the near east (comprising Syria, Palestine, Persia, Mesopotamia with its extension to India ) is the cradle of the first civilization from where the ancestors of the Dravidians fanned out to the West and East in successive migrations.

The Worship of Mother Goddess, Aphonomenin, if Dravidians still survive in the sub-consciousness of the Mediterranean Christianity through the veneration paid to the ‘Black Virgin’s’ in Italy, Spain and France. The emblem of the Mother Goddess was fist and reminds us of Minakshi of Madurai. As mother of plants she is symbolised by the fig tree in Asia minor and in Mediterranean Europe. This symbolism finds and echo in the binding of peepul branches in the marriage court yards in Tamil country. The mother goddess is also connected with the serpent worship, in the Pre-Hellenic Mediterranean world and the worship of the serpent is still in existence in South India.

It is also said that other ties between the Pre – Indo – European civilisations of the Mediterranean and the Pre- Aryan India is noticeable in the Megalithic structure in the Dravidian India and the Mediterranean Europe. As found in ancient Mesopotamia and parts of Mediterranean world the placing of the dead in terra-cota jars was frequent in ancient South India.

Tamil or Dravida was probably Dramil or Dramiza in its oldest forms according to the author. The Lycians of Asia minor, a pre-Indo-European Mediterranean people called themselves Trimmili. Herodotus has noted that the Lucians, the Original inhabitants of Crete, were known by the name ‘Termilai.’ After devoting a chapter on the similarities of phonetic peculiarities in Basque and Dravidian languages. Lahovary concludes that they have the closest ties among all the languages of the peri-mediterranean family.

When he deals with the structural and morphological parallels, the author is convinced of the essentially suffixial nature of basque and Dravidian which separates them from Western Hermitic. Dr. Lahovary sets apart half of the book giving example of etymological parallels. The reader will be surprised at the large number of common words in Basque and Dravidian languages.

Some examples: Dravidian and Basque – AL (male), Ar (male); Odal (body), Odal (blood); Mukku (nose), moko (beak); Kella (thief), Kaldar (thief); Ubbu (swelling), Ug-atz (breast); Wisar (sweat), Izerdi (sweat); Kuru (small), Korro (small); Alal (crying), Aldia (lament).

In spite of its short comings, Dr. Lahovary has unraveled the distant relationship between Dravidian languages and pre-Europen Languages especially Basque.When the book was published in 1963 in English, the author did not live to see the happy event.

A Dravidian solution to the Indus script problem!

June 25, 2010

A Dravidian solution to  the Indus script problem

aruvar payanta … perum peyar muruka
ninn ati y-ulli vantanen
(Tirumurukârruppatai 255, 269, 279)
The Indus Civilization and its forgotten script
Stone seals inscribed with an unknown script were obtained from Harappa in the upper Indus Valley in the 1870s
and 1880s. In the early 1920s, curiosity about their origin initiated excavations at Harappa and 750 km away at
.
. ..
.
Figure 1. Discovery sites of Indus seals and inscriptions. (After CISI 2: 448.)

Mohenjo-daro in Sindh. Immediately more seals of the same kind were found. The publication of these discoveries
turned attention to a few seals of the Harappan type that had come to light in Mesopotamia. They dated the newly
found Harappan or Indus Civilization to the third millennium BCE. Radiocarbon dating has fixed the duration of the
Mature Harappan phase, during which the Indus script was used, to 2600-1900 BCE. About 30 Harappan seals
come from the Gulf and Mesopotamia, left there by sea-faring Indus merchants.
Since the 1920s, ceaseless archaeological research has revealed some 1500 Harappan sites in Pakistan and
western India. The Harappan realm in the Greater Indus Valley is one of the earliest cradles of civilization. Its urban
culture is among the first four in the world to possess a script of its own. Some 5000 short Indus texts from more
than 50 sites are known today, and much other data as well has accumulated. But the decipherment of the Indus
script has remained the most intriguing problem pertaining to this impressive city culture that initiates Indian civilization.
The Indus script vanished together with the Indus Civilization, which collapsed many centuries before hymns composed
in Vedic Sanskrit begin the historical period in South Asia around 1000 BCE.
The numerous unsuccessful attempts to understand the Indus script include a recent claim that it is not a writing
system based on language, but consists of non-linguistic symbols. Similar misconceptions prevailed about the
Mesopotamian cuneiform script
and the Egyptian hieroglyphs
before their decipherments.
Extreme shortness of texts and
their restriction to seals, small
tablets and pottery graffiti have
been adduced as proofs for this
thesis, but all these features
characterize also the Egyptian
hieroglyphic script during the first
600 years of its existence. Yet this
early form of Egyptian script was
real writing, and can be partially
read on the basis of later texts.
The high degree of sign
standardization, the arrangementof texts into regular rows, and the presence of hundreds of recurring sign sequences from different sites all indicate
that the Indus script is real writing.
Most attempts to read the Indus script apply the unsuited method of comparing the Indus signs with similarlooking
signs of other scripts and transferring their phonetic values to the Indus signs. This general error is often
coupled with the mistake of deriving Brahmi from the Indus script, though it is based on the Semitic consonant
alphabet.
Preparatory work
How then can the Indus script be deciphered? We may turn to successful decipherments and to the history of writing
for guidance. Most ancient scripts have been deciphered with the help of translations into known scripts and languages.
But here no such help is available. Historical information of the kind that opened up the cuneiform script is virtually
missing. Later Indian texts tell us nothing about the Indus Civilization. Contemporary cuneiform sources speak of the
most distant land called Meluhha, widely understood to denote Greater Indus Valley, but they offer little further
information. There is no related writing system to help with the phonetic values of the signs. Nor is there any fair
certainty of the underlying language, which was a great advantage in unraveling the Ugaritic and Mayan scripts. All
surviving texts are very short and probably not complete sentences but just noun phrases. This naturally hampers
grammatical analysis, as does the absence of word dividers.
In spite of all the difficulties, there are some positive circumstances. One is the relatively high number of preserved
inscriptions. Collecting and publishing all available evidence reliably and legibly belongs to the fundamental preparatory
tasks that have proved useful in all decipherments. This aim is being realized partly in the photographic Corpus of
Indus Seals and Inscriptions; its third volume has just come out.
Several versions of a standardized text edition in machine-readable form have been completed, and a thorough
revision is again being done. Computerization has enabled the compilation of concordances that systematically
record all occurrences of individual signs and their sequences, and various other indexes and statistics. Among the
things to be standardized is the direction of writing, normally from right to left and in seal stamps carved in mirror
image from left to right. Other routine tasks are location of word boundaries and search for possible grammatical
markers. One way to segment longer texts is to see if their component parts occur elsewhere as complete texts.
A crucial but difficult task is the compilation of a reliable sign list, which distinguishes between graphemes and
allographs. The allographic variation constitutes one important basis for interpreting the pictorial meaning of the
Indus signs. Signs may represent the same grapheme if their shapes are reasonably similar and they in addition occur

in very similar contexts. Based on these criteria, my sign list has very nearly 400 graphemes.
It is difficult to construct even parts of the Indus grammar on the basis of textual analysis. The positional sequences
of signs can be exploited to analyse the Indus texts syntactically, to define textual junctures, and to classify the signs
into phonetically or semantically similar groups. Such analyses have been carried out with automated methods. Data
accumulated in this way will certainly be useful in decipherment once a decisive breakthrough has been achieved —
in other words when the language has been identified and some signs have been read phonetically in a convincing
manner. But such analyses alone are unlikely to provide that breakthrough.
The language underlying the Indus script
In the decipherment of any ancient script, there are two principal unknowns to be clarified, namely the underlying
language or languages and the type of the script.
The language problem is most crucial. If the language of the Indus script belonged to a language family not
known from other sources, the Indus script can never be deciphered. This is clear from the case of Etruscan, an
isolated language written in an easily read alphabetic script. Etruscan can be read phonetically, but in spite of this is
not much understood beyond the texts covered by copious translations. But as the Harappan population numbered
around one million, there is a fair chance that linguistic relatives have survived and that traces of the Harappan
language can be found in the extensive Vedic texts composed in the Indus Valley less than a thousand years after the
collapse of the Indus Civilization.
While it is likely that various minority languages were spoken in the Greater Indus Valley, only one language was
written. The sign sequences are namely uniform throughout South Asia. This argument is reinforced by the Indus
seals found in the Near East. Some of them have native Harappan and some non-Harappan sign sequences.
One would expect that the most frequently attested Indus sign would very often occur next to itself, but this is
never the case in the Indus Valley. The combination is however attested on a round Gulf-type seal coming from the
Near East. The seal contains five frequently occurring Indus signs but in unique sequences. This suggests that
Harappan trade agents who resided in the Gulf and in Mesopotamia became bilingual and adopted local names, but
wrote their foreign names in the Indus script for the Harappans to read. The cuneiform texts in fact speak not only of
a distant country called Meluhha, but also of a village in southern Mesopotamia called Meluhha whose inhabitants
had purely Sumerian names.
According to its inscription, one Old Akkadian cylinder seal belonged to “Su-ilishu, interpreter of the Meluhhan

language”. This implies that the Meluhhan language differed from the languages commonly spoken and understood
in ancient Near East, above all Sumerian, Akkadian and Elamite. Near Eastern languages appear historically much
less likely to have been spoken in the Indus Valley than languages known to have existed in South Asia.
Because the origin of the Aryan languages is such a controversial issue, especially in India, it is necessary to trace
these languages back to their source, the Proto-Indo-European. The location and dating of Proto-Indo-European
too have been long debated, but a fair consensus concerning this problem is in sight. When the Proto-Indo-
European-speaking community dispersed, its language had a dozen terms related to wheeled vehicles. Wheeled
vehicles were invented shortly before 3500 BCE in south-eastern Europe, from where they quickly spread to areas
where the principal Indo-European languages were later spoken.
Greek and Armenian are the closest linguistic relatives of Indo-Iranian, and the protoforms of these languages
are likely to have been spoken in the Pit Grave or Yamnaya cultures which between 3300 and 3000 BCE spread
with ox carts from North Pontic steppes eastwards to the Ural mountains. The Eurasian steppes are the native

habitat of the horse. It was there that the horse was first yoked to pull a light-wheeled chariot, at the end of the third
millennium BCE. Early Aryan loanwords in Finno-Ugric languages spoken in north-eastern Europe locates Proto-
Aryan to the Volga-Ural steppes.
From the Volga-Ural steppes the horse-drawn chariot spread southwards to the Bronze Age culture in southern
Central Asia, the “Bactria and Margiana Archaeological Complex” or BMAC, which flourished about 2300-1500
BCE. BMAC people started moving to Iran and to the Indus Valley in the Late Harappan period, around 1900-
1600 BCE. At the same time, the BMAC sites were surrounded by nomadic peoples from the Eurasian steppes,
who probably spoke early forms of Indo-Iranian. On their way to Iran and India, these migrants took over the rule
and culture of the BMAC. Alexander Lubotsky (2001) has listed all words shared by Iranian and Indo-Aryan
which do not have an acceptable Indo-European origin. In structure, these words largely agree with the 383 foreign
loanwords in the language of the Rigveda listed by Frans Kuiper (1991). Lubotsky has suggested that most words
in both lists come from the language of the BMAC. This justified conclusion implies that these foreign words of an
unknown language were borrowed by Rigvedic Aryans before they entered the Indus Valley, or from the language of
the Daasas, an earlier come wave of Indo-Iranian speakers with a BMAC substratum. Hence these words do not
represent the Harappan language. Their use for the decipherment of the Indus script would in any case not be
feasible for the simple reason that the exact meaning of so many of them is unclear.
Although Indo-Iranian languages have been spoken in the Indus Valley since the second millennium BCE, they
were hardly spoken by Harappan people in the third millennium. The domesticated horse played an important role
in the culture of the Indo-Iranian speakers, but according to faunal remains the horse came to South Asia only after
2000 BCE and it is not depicted in Harappan art. The first appearance of the horse is in Swat, in the BMACderived
Gandhara Grave culture; its characteristic “face urns” seem to be connected with the cult of Aoevins, the
Vedic gods of chariotry.
Burushaski spoken in northernmost Pakistan is a linguistic isolate, but possibly related with the Ketic languages
of Siberia. There is little trace of Burushaski further south. Burushaski’s arrival from the north was probably preceded
by the Himalayan group of Tibeto-Burman languages, which may be connected with the Northern Neolithic of the
Swat Valley and Kashmir. The Northern Neolithic had some contact with the Early Harappans but only in its own
northern area.
In general the Sino-Tibetan languages always restricted to the Himalayan regions in South Asia are unlikely
candidates for a genetic relationship with the Harappan language.
The Austro-Asiatic languages known from Central and Eastern India, with linguistic relatives in South-East Asia

and minor participation in the linguistic convergence in South Asia, are also unlikely to have descended from the
Harappan language.
The only remaining alternative among the well-known potential linguistic relatives of the Harappan language is
the Dravidian language family. The 26 Dravidian languages are now mainly spoken in Central and South India.
Figure 4. The Dravidian languages and their subgroups. (After Krishnamurti 2003: 18.)
However, one Dravidian language, Brahui, has been spoken in Baluchistan in the northwest for at least a thousand
years, as far as the historical sources go. In contrast to Burushaski, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic languages,
which are very small minority languages in South Asia, the Dravidian speakers until recently constituted one fourth of
India’s population.
Loanwords from Dravidian have been identified from Indo-Aryan texts composed in northwestern India around
1100-600 BCE. These six examples are from the earliest text, the Rigveda (the capital letters are retroflex consonants,

which did not exist in Proto-Indo-Iranian):
mukham ‘face, front, mouth’ < PD *mukam ‘id.’
khalam ‘threshing floor’ < PD *kaLam ‘id.’
phalam ‘fruit’ < PD *paZam ‘ripe fruit’
kuNDam ‘pit’ < PD *kuNTam ‘pit’
kaaNa- ‘blind in one eye’ < PD *kaaNa ‘not seeing’
kiyaambu- ‘watery plant’ < PD *kiyampu ‘taro, aroid, Colocasia’.
The retroflex consonants, a diagnostic feature of the South Asian linguistic area, can be divided into two main
groups. One of them is distributed over the Indus Valley and the Dravidian-speaking areas.
In addition to the retroflex consonants, Indo-Aryan has several other structural features that have long been
interpreted as borrowings from Dravidian. Some of them exist at the earliest level. Historical linguistics thus suggests
that the Harappans probably spoke a Dravidian language. With this conclusion we turn to the problem of script type.
The type of writing system represented by the Indus script
Recent American-Pakistani excavations at Harappa with meticulous stratigraphy have produced new evidence on
the evolution of the Indus script. Pottery has scratched symbols since 3300 BCE. Some of these pot-marks became
signs of the Indus script, which was created during the final phase of the Early Harappan period, between 2800-
2500 BCE. It is possible and indeed even probable that the Early Harappans got the idea of writing through stimulus
diffusion from the Proto-Elamites of the Iranian Plateau, but they did not copy the signs of the Proto-Elamite script.
Only few specimens from this formative period are presently available. During the Mature Harappan period, the fully
developed script was used without much change at all major sites. The script disappeared fairly soon after the
collapse of the Indus Civilization.
Archaic Sumerian, the oldest logo-syllabic writing, mainly consists of iconic word signs or logograms occasionally
complemented with rebus-based syllabic signs which also initially expressed “words”. Grammatical markers were
at first ignored in writing, but were gradually introduced with the growing familiarity with phonetic signs and better
ability to analyze language.
The logo-syllabic system demanded hundreds of signs. Devising the first syllabic scripts became possible around
2300 BCE, when many syllabograms were already in use in the cuneiform script. Logograms could now largely be
eliminated. The Egyptian variant of logo-syllabic writing, whose rebus puns ignore vowels altogether, enabled an
even more drastic reduction of graphemes. Around 1600 BCE, Semitic scribes in Egyptian-occupied Levant started
13
Asko Parpola
writing their own language with just those phonograms of the Egyptian script that comprised a single consonant.
Logo-syllabic scripts have hundreds of graphemes, syllabic scripts manage with less than 100 and most alphabetic
scripts with less than 40.
The number of known Indus signs is around 400, which agrees well with the logo-syllabic type but is too high for
the script to be syllabic or alphabetic. Word divisions are not marked, but many inscriptions comprise only one, two
or three signs, and longer texts can be segmented into comparable units. This is a typical word length in Sumeriantype
logo-syllabic script, while in syllabic and alphabetic scripts many words require more signs. The Indus script
was created before any syllabic or alphabetic script existed, so all main criteria agree in suggesting that the Indus
script is a logo-syllabic writing system.
Methodology: the basic decipherment formula and initial clues
The prospects and methods of deciphering a logo-syllabic script without translations differ in some essential respects
from those of syllabic and alphabetic scripts. The syllabaries and alphabets form closed systems that cover the entire
phonology of the language, and can be decoded as a systemic whole. In logo-syllabic scripts, there are many more
signs, and the phonetic bond between the signs is weaker. There is no chance of building such phonetic grids as in the
decipherment of Linear B, and a complete decipherment of the Indus script is certainly not possible with presently
available materials.
Most signs of early logo-syllabic scripts were originally pictures denoting the objects or ideas they represented.
But abstract concepts such as ‘life’ would be difficult to express pictorially. Therefore the meaning of a pictogram
was extended from the word for the depicted object to comprise all its homophones. In the Sumerian script the
drawing of an arrow meant ‘arrow’, but in addition ‘life’ and ‘rib’, because all three words were pronounced alike
in the Sumerian language, namely ti. Homophony is usually language-specific, and rebuses thus enable language
identification and phonetic decipherment.
Individual signs of logo-syllabic scripts may be deciphered if four conditions can simultaneously be fulfilled: (1)
the object depicted in a given pictogram can be recognized; (2) the said pictogram has been used as a rebus; (3) the
intended rebus meaning can be deduced from the context(s); and (4) acceptably homophonous words corresponding
to the pictorial and rebus meanings exist in a historically likely known language. (Method demands strictness with
homophony; in the case of Proto-Dravidian, variation in the length of vowels and consonants is allowed, but not
much else.)
The iconic shape of the Indus signs thus constitutes one of the chief keys to their interpretation. Unfortunately the
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A Dravidian solution to the Indus script problem
pictorial meaning of most Indus signs is not clear. In some rare cases an iconographic motif added to an Indus
inscription can suggest the intended meaning of a sign. The scene at the right end of one tablet from Mohenjo-daro
(M-478) shows a human being who kneels in front of a tree and extends a V-shaped object towards it. The person
apparently presents offerings to a sacred tree in what may be a pot shown in cross-section. If so, the intended and
iconic meanings of the V-shaped sign in the text coincide, and it can be understood directly from the pictogram. We
need not know what the Harappan word for the depicted object was.
Figure 5. Pot of offerings in the text and iconography of the tablet M-478
from Mohenjo-daro. (After CISI 1: 115.)
Figure 6. (Offering of) “four pots of fish” on the tablet H-902 from Harappa. (After CISI 2: 339.)
The plain ‘fish’ sign probably has the intended meaning ‘fish’ on Indus tablets such as H-902 B which seems to
mention offering of four pots of fish. In Mesopotamia fish offerings were made in temples, in India fish and meat and
strong drinks were offered to godlings inhabiting sacred trees. That the signs looking like a ‘fish’ really have this
pictorial meaning is certified by the Indus iconography, in which it is placed in the mouth of a fish-eating crocodile.
But if phonetic decipherment is possible only in cases where the rebus principle has been employed, how can we
locate such cases, and how can we deduce the intended rebus meanings? These are certainly among the most
difficult tasks. Contextual clues include the function of inscribed artifacts. The vast majority of Indus texts are seal
stamps and seal impressions. As with iconographic clues, we can use for their interpretation parallels from elsewhere,
Western Asia and historical South Asia being most relevant.
A clay tag stamped with cloth impression on the reverse and with a square Indus seal on the obverse comes from
Umma in Mesopotamia. The Harappans’ contact with the Near East makes it highly probable that the Indus seal
15
Asko Parpola
inscriptions chiefly contain proper names of persons with or without their occupational or official titles and descent,
as do the contemporaneous Mesopotamian seal inscriptions.
Starting point: the ‘fish’ signs of the Indus script
In Mesopotamian and later Indian onomastics, names of gods are used to form personal names. We can expect to
have theophoric components of proper names and of priestly titles in some fairly large and uniformly distributed
group of signs in the Indus seals.
Although Mesopotamian ECONOMIC texts often record rations of fish, fish is NEVER mentioned in
Mesopotamian SEAL inscriptions. Yet the ‘fish’ sign, both plain and modified with various diacritic additions, occurs
so frequently on Indus seals that almost every tenth sign belongs to this group. This suggests that at least in the Indus
SEAL inscriptions, the ‘fish’ signs denote something else than ‘fish’ and are used as rebuses.
The most commonly used word for ‘fish’ in Dravidian languages is miin, and has the homophone miin meaning
‘star’. Both words may be derivatives of the root min ‘to glitter’.
Of course, one must check that the words in assumed readings are represented in more than one subgroup and
can be reconstructed for Proto-Dravidian. In addition, the hypotheses must be checked against script-external
evidence. Do the proposed interpretations make sense in the Harappan context, and with regard to the later South
Asian tradition, and the Mesopotamian contacts?
Figure 7. The fish-eating crocodilian ghariyal with the ‘fish’ sign of the Indus script on the seal M-410 from Mohenjo-daro. (After CISI 1: 98.)
16
A Dravidian solution to the Indus script problem
There is some external evidence supporting the proposed Dravidian rebus reading of the ‘fish’ sign. The motifs
fish and star co-occur on Mature Harappan painted pottery. Tamil speakers, who call these two things with the same
word, have imagined the stars to be fish swimming in the ocean of night sky.
Additional support for reading the ‘fish’ sign as a rebus for ‘star’ is the absence of a sign depicting ‘star’ from the
Indus script, although the ‘star’ symbol is painted and incised on Early Harappan pottery. The omission of a ‘star’
pictogram from the script is understandable as an economic measure, as the ‘fish’ sign covers the meaning ‘star’ as
well.
The rebus meaning ‘star’ suits the expected meaning ‘god’ as a component of proper names in seal inscriptions.
Whenever a god or goddess is mentioned in cuneiform texts, the pictogram of ‘star’ is prefixed to the name as its
determinative, to indicate that what follows is divine. In the Sumerian script, the ‘star’ pictogram means not only
‘god’ but also ‘sky’. ‘Star’ is thought to have originally been an attribute of the sky-god An. With An as the leading
divinity of the Sumerian pantheon, his symbol would then have started to mean ‘god’ in general. Astronomy, including
the use of a star calendar, played an important role in ancient Mesopotamia, and deeply influenced the religion: all the
main gods were symbolized by particular stars or planets.
In the Near East, the ‘star’ symbol
distinguished divinities even in pictorial representations.
Significantly, a seal from Mohenjo-daro depicts an Indus
deity with a star on either side of his head in this Near
Eastern fashion.
The ‘fish’ signs could well have been
parts of Harappan proper names, for ever since Vedic
times people in India have had astral names derived
from their birth stars. There are indications that this kind
of name-giving is of non-Aryan origin.
Methodology: Checking and verifying
The hypotheses can and must be subjected to scriptinternal
checking in the manner of cross-word puzzles.
One cannot overemphasize the importance of this
Figure 8. A seated deity with stars on either side of the head on the seal operation. If we apply exactly the same assumptions
M-305 from Mohenjo-daro. (After CISI 1: 383.)
17
Asko Parpola
and methods of interpretation to signs associated with an interpreted sign in a compound sign or in a recurring sign
sequence, do we get sensible results? If yes, these provisional results must be subjected to further external checking:
Are the posited compound words actually attested in Dravidian languages and not mere imagination? Particularly
important is Old Tamil literature, the only ancient Dravidian source not much contaminated by Indo-Aryan languages
and traditions. Interlocking of consistent readings with each other and with external linguistic data and clues constitutes
the essence of all decipherments.
Compounds formed with ‘fish’ signs and Indian mythology
The numerals belong to those few Indus signs whose function and meaning can be deduced with fair certainty, partly
from the fact that they consist of groups of vertical strokes, which is the way numerals are represented in many
ancient scripts, partly from their mutual interchangeability before specific signs, including the plain ‘fish’. Reading the
sequence ‘6’ + ‘fish’ in Dravidian yields the Old Tamil name of the Pleiades, aru-miin, literally ‘6 stars’. Note that
the numeral attribute precedes its headword in the Indus script as it did in Proto-Dravidian, but by no means in every
language of the world.
‘7’ + ‘fish’ corresponds to the Old Tamil name of Ursa Major, eZu-miin. This sequence forms the entire
inscription on one big seal from Harappa (H-9).
In Mesopotamia big dedicatory seals were
sometimes presented to divinities. The stars of Ursa
Major have since Vedic times been identified with the
ancient “Seven Sages”. These mythical ancestors of
priestly clans play an important role in early Indian
mythology.
Because the Pleiades constitute the first
constellation of the Vedic star calendar, its heliacal rise
at the vernal equinox is thought to have marked the
beginning of the New Year. This and the position of the
marking stars in the sky dates the calendar to the twentythird
century BCE and suggests its Harappan origin.
The Vedic people did not inherit the calendar from the
Indo-Iranian tradition but adopted it in India.
Figure 9. The sequence of signs depicting ‘seven’ and ‘fish’; these
two signs form the whole inscription of the large seal H-9 from
Harappa. (After CISI 1: 166.)
18
A Dravidian solution to the Indus script problem
Vedic texts prescribe the kindling of sacred fires under the Pleiades, because the Pleiades now have the Fire-
God Agni as their mate. We are told that the Pleiades were the wives of the Seven Sages, but are now precluded
from intercourse with their husbands, who divorced them. Therefore the Pleiades now rise in the east, while the
Seven Sages (that is, the stars of Ursa Major) are in the north. The Fire God Agni mentioned as the mate of the
Pleiades apparently represents the young vernal sun, whose conjunction with the Pleiades started the New Year.
Later Sanskrit texts tell the myth in more detail and in several variant forms. According to them, the Fire God
Agni (or the great ascetic god OEiva) seduced the Pleiades in the absence of their husbands, the Seven Sages. They
were divorced. Only Arundhatii, the faithful wife of Sage VasiSTha, could not be seduced. She could remain as the
star Alcor with her husband, the star Mizar of Ursa Major (see fig. 13).
This is really one of the central myths of the Hindu religion. In a Puranic version, God OEiva seduced six of the
wives of the absent Seven Sages in their Himalayan hermitage. The Sages cursed OEiva’s phallus to fall down. The
phallus started to burn the world and stopped only when the Sages placed it on a vulva-shaped platform and
worshipped it with cooling water-libations. This is how the cult of OEiva’s linga or phallus originated. OEiva, one of the
greatest gods of Hinduism, has mostly the phallus as his cult icon since the earliest historical times. OEiva’s Vedic
predecessor Rudra is thought to be of non-Aryan origin. In Vedic texts, Rudra is euphemistically called oeiva
‘benign’, and equated with the Fire god Agni as is OEiva in the Pleiades myth.
Banyan fig and the pole star
One recurring sign sequence with the plain ‘fish’ sign as its latter member begins with a sign whose iconic meaning
seems to be ‘fig tree’. Can we here too have a Dravidian astral term?
Figure 10. The seal M-414
from Mohenjo-Daro. The normal
direction of writing, from right to
left, is that of the impression; in
this original seal stamp, the text
has been carved in mirror
image. (After CISI 3.1: 409.)
19
Asko Parpola
The iconic interpretation as ’fig’ is based on a comparison with Harappan painted pottery. In the script, the fig
tree is shown as three-branched, just as on the painted pottery, except when another sign is placed inside it; then the
central ‘branch’ is omitted. In the combined sign, the branches end in fig leaves as they do on the painted pottery,
but in the basic sign with less space the fig leaves are simplified, and one or two down-going lines are sometimes
added beneath the leaves on either side; in some variants
three or four such lines replace the leaves altogether.
The ‘three-branched fig tree’ motif occurs on
Harappan pottery from the Early through the Mature
to the Late phase. In one variant from the time when
the Indus script was created, four strokes are attached
to either side of the middle stem. They are similar to the
strokes of the Indus sign, except for their upward
direction, which may be due to the direction of the two
lower stems. The strokes seem to represent the airroots
of the banyan fig.
The rope-like air-roots are characteristic of the
banyan fig, Ficus bengalensis or Ficus indica. This
mighty tree is native to South Asia and does not grow
in the parts where the Indo-Aryan speakers came from.
A post-Vedic Sanskrit name for the banyan fig is vaTa.
This is a Dravidian loanword, ultimately derived from
Figure 11. Allographs of the Indus sign (no. 123) representing a three-branched ‘fig tree’ and of its ligature with the ‘crab’ sign (no. 124), where the
middlemost branch has been omitted to accommodate the inserted ‘crab’ sign. (After Parpola 1994: 235.)
Figure 12. A painted goblet with the ‘three-branched fig tree’ motif from
Nausharo ID, transitional phase between the Early and Mature Harappan
periods (c. 2600-2550 BCE). (After Samzun 1992: 250, fig. 29.4 no. 2.)

Underlying language of Indus script, Proto-Dravidian: Asko Parpola

June 25, 2010

Underlying language of Indus script, Proto-Dravidian: Asko Parpola

http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/tamil-nadu/article485447.ece

Asko-at-Coimbatore-2010

Asko-at-Coimbatore-2010

The underlying language of the Indus script was Proto-Dravidian, Asko Parpola, Professor-Emeritus of Indology, Institute of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland, said on Friday.

Declaring that “an opening to the secrets of the Indus script has been achieved,” Prof. Parpola said the results of his readings kept within narrow limits: fertility cult connected with fig trees, a central Hindu myth associated with astronomy and time-reckoning and chief deities of Hindu and Old Tamil religion.

Delivering the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Research Endowment Lecture on “A Dravidian solution to the Indus script problem” at the World Classical Tamil Conference here, the Indologist said the readings were based on reasonable identifications of the signs’ pictorial shapes. The results made good sense in the framework of ancient Indian cultural history.

“These readings have been achieved with strictly adhered methodology which is in full agreement with the history of writing, methods of decipherment and historical linguistics including the comparative study of Dravidian languages,” he told the audience that included Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.

Displaying nearly two dozen illustrations of Indus seals and inscriptions, he dwelt upon the topic by explaining two broad aspects — underlying language and type of the script — that were essential in the decipherment of an ancient script. He also substantiated his thesis with an etymological analysis of certain Tamil words such as ‘muruku’ and ‘miin’.

Hinting that Harappan language had a genetic relationship with the Dravidian language family, Prof. Parpola said 26 Dravidian languages were now mainly spoken in central and southern parts of India. However, one Dravidian language, Brahui, had been spoken in Baluchistan of Pakistan for at least one thousand years. In contrast to Burushashki, Tibeto-Burman and Austro-Asiatic languages, very small minority languages in south Asia, the Dravidian speakers until recently constituted one-fourth of the population in India.

Loanwords from the Dravidian family had been identified from Indo-Aryan texts composed in northwestern India around 1100-600 BCE. Besides, Indo-Aryan had several structural features that had long been interpreted as borrowings from Dravidian. “Historical linguistics thus suggests that the Harappans probably spoke a Dravidian language.”

Referring to the type of writing system, Prof. Parpola said the number of known Indus signs was around 400 “which agrees well with the logo-syllabic type but is too high for the script to be syllabic or alphabetic”. Though word divisions were not marked, many inscriptions comprised one, two or three signs and longer texts could be segmented into comparable units. The Indus script was created before any syllabic or alphabetic script existed.

Pointing out that the confirmed interpretations and their wider contexts provided a lot of clues for progress, he acknowledged there were still serious difficulties in the decipherment of the script. “One is the schematic shape of many signs which makes it difficult to recognise their pictorial meaning with certainty. Possibilities of proposing likely readings and their effective checking are severely limited by our defective knowledge of Proto-Dravidian vocabulary, compounds and phraseology.”

The problem of the Indus script resembled to some extent that of the logo-syllabic Maya script, where advance was phenomenal after Mayan speakers were trained in the methods of decipherment.

The Indologist said those who had good acquaintance with the realities of Indian culture and south Asian nature could make useful contributions in suggesting possible pictorial meanings for the Indus signs. For this, there was no need to be a Dravidian speaker.

Iravatham Mahadevan, eminent archaeologist, presided over the event.

Acceptance speech of Asko Parpola, recipient of the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award

http://www.thehindu.com/news/resources/article483967.ece

Your Excellency the President of India, Srimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi, distinguished dignitaries, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, Vanakkam!

It is indeed a very great honour to receive the first Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award from the President of India. Yet I feel embarrassed, because my work is only partly related to Classical Tamil, while there are Classical Tamil specialists who really would have deserved this award. But as this is not the only time when the award is given, I humbly accept that this is my turn. I am most grateful for the very considerable support for my continued work in this field.

The Government of India has rightly recognized Tamil as a classical language, a status that it fully deserves in view of its antiquity and its rich literature that in quality and extent matches many other classical traditions of the world. Yet, Tamil is not alone in possessing such a rich heritage in India, which is really a very exceptional country with so many languages having old and remarkable literatures, both written and oral. Sanskrit with its three thousand years old tradition has produced an unrivalled number of literary works.

Sanskrit goes back to Proto-Indo-Aryan attested in a few names and words related to the Mitanni kingdom of Syria between 1500 and 1300 BCE, and to earlier forms of Indo-Iranian known only from a few loanwords in Finno-Ugric languages as spoken in central Russia around 2000 BCE. But none of these very earliest few traces is older than the roots of Tamil. Tamil goes back to Proto-Dravidian, which in my opinion can be identified as the language of the thousands of short texts in the Indus script, written in 2600-1700 BCE. There are, of course, different opinions, but many critical scholars agree that even the Rigveda, collected in the Indus Valley about 1000 BCE, has at least half a dozen Dravidian loanwords.

Old Tamil texts constitute the only source of ancient Dravidian linguistic and cultural heritage not yet much contaminated by the Indo-Aryan tradition. Without it, it would be much more difficult if not impossible to penetrate into the secrets of the Indus script and to unravel the beginnings of India’s great civilization. In my opinion the Tamils are entitled to some pride for having preserved so well the linguistic heritage of the Indus Civilization. At the same time, it must not be forgotten that, though their language has shifted in the course of millennia, people of North India too are to a large extent descended from the Harappan people, and have also preserved cultural heritage of the same civilization.

Nanri! Tamizh vaazka!

The Indus script and the wild ass – Asko Parpola

June 23, 2010

Parpola brings out meaning of Old Tamil ‘taaL leg’
http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Chennai/article490698.ece

“The Hindu” has come out immediately with the following brief, ignoring, the interactions that took place at Roja Muthaiah Library onn 28th evening, when he presented his paper on  “The Indus Script, Harappan Dravidian and  the Wild Ass” with ppt.

After discussion and answering to crucial questions, Asko parpola clearly accepted that he did not read all the seals and his decipherment was not final.

In fact, Iravatham Mahadevan accepted  that “multi-interpretations are possible”.

Asko Parpola at RM 28-06-2010

Asko Parpola at RM 28-06-2010

Noted Indologist Asko Parpola on Monday delivered the ‘Gift Siromoney Endowment Lecture Series”’organised by Roja Muthiah Research Library, trying to read the old Tamil ‘taaL leg’ in the context of the newly deciphered sign depicting “a hoofed animal hind leg.” He was talking on ‘The Indus Script, Harappan Dravidian and the Wild Ass.’

He said “Old Tamil ‘taaL leg’ had a Toda cognate meaning ‘thigh of animal’s hind leg’ and denotes a star in PuRam 395.” The ‘hind leg’ sign once precedes a sign that depicts the wild ass. Besides pointing to various physiological features of the animal, which lived in the desert and could survive even after losing 30 per cent of the water of its body, he narrated many stories associated with the wild ass.

Noted epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan said more young researchers should enter the field of epigraphy, continuing his work and that of Professor Parpola. He pointed out that he had already reached 81 and Parpola was only 10 years younger to him. Gift Siromoney was a professor at the Madras Christian College. Though a mathematics student, he had prepared many field reports, including the fauna of Tambaram area and Thirukkural written in different scripts of the last 2,000 years. Rani Siromoney, wife of Siromoney, also spoke.

The Indus script and the wild ass

Asko Parpola

http://beta.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/article481104.ece

[Thanks to The Hindu for the photo and article. As “The Hindu” generally does not encourage the other view of any issue, we have no other way but reproduce it and circulate for discussion and debate]

Image of a modern impression of the seal M-290 from Mohenjo-daro, where the sequence 'hind leg' + 'wild ass' (to be read from right to left) occurs. Courtesy: Asko Parpola

Image of a modern impression of the seal M-290 from Mohenjo-daro, where the sequence ‘hind leg’ + ‘wild ass’ (to be read from right to left) occurs. Courtesy: Asko Parpola

In a paper to be presented at the World Classical Tamil Conference, I am going to discuss recent developments in my study of the Indus script. In the book Deciphering the Indus Script (Cambridge 1994), I interpreted the ‘fish’ sign as Proto-Dravidian *miin ‘fish’ = *miin ‘star’, and its compounds with preceding signs as names of heavenly bodies attested in Old Tamil. One newly deciphered sign depicts “a hoofed animal’s hind leg.” It occurs once before the plain ‘fish’ sign. Old Tamil taaL ‘leg’ has a Toda cognate meaning “thigh of animal’s hind leg” and denotes a star in PuRam 395. The ‘hind leg’ sign once precedes a sign that depicts the wild ass. Is the reading taaL ‘(hind) leg’ meaningful in this context?

Just one Indus seal has the wild ass as its iconographic motif; it was excavated in 2009 at Kanmer in the Kutch, next to the only wild ass sanctuary in South Asia. Bones of wild ass come from Harappan sites in Baluchistan, the Indus Valley and Gujarat; the salt deserts of this very area have always been the habitat of the wild ass. Bones or depictions of the domestic horse and the donkey are not found in South Asia before 1600 BCE.

Tamil kaZutai or “donkey” has cognates in Malayalam, Kota, Toda, Kannada, Kodagu, Tulu, Telugu, Kolami, Naiki, Parji, Gondi and Kuwi. Bhadriraju Krishnamurti reconstructs *kaZ-ut-ay and asserts that Proto-Dravidian speakers knew of the donkey. More probably *kaZutay meant ‘wild ass’ in Harappan Dravidian, and the term was transferred to the similar-looking donkey when this newcomer came to South Asia from the west through the Indus Valley. Rigvedic gardabha – ‘donkey’ has no cognates in Iranian; it is a Dravidian loan word with the added Indo-Iranian animal name suffix –bha-. I explain *kaZutay as ‘kicker of the salt desert’, from *kaZ(i) / *kaLLar ‘saline soil’ and *utay ‘to kick’. The wild ass lives in the salt desert and is a vicious kicker.

There is a Hindu myth explicitly associated with the wild ass, the Dhenukavadha of Harivamsa 57. Krishna and Balarama came to a palmyra forest occupied by the fierce ass demon Dhenuka and its herd. Wanting to drink the juice of ripe palm fruits, Balarama shook the trees. Hearing the sound of falling fruits, the enraged ass demon rushed to the spot. Seeing Balarama beneath a wine palm, as if holding the tree as his banner, the wicked ass bit Balarama and started kicking him hard with its hind legs. Balarama seized the ass by those hind legs and flung it to the top of a palm. The ass fell down with its neck and back broken and died. Dhenuka’s retinue met with the same fate, and the ground became covered with dead asses and fallen palm fruits. The palm forest, horrible when terrorised by the asses, impossible for humans to live in, difficult to cross, and with a great extent and salty soil (iriNa), now became a lovely place.

The description of the palm forest as a salt desert confirms that wild asses are meant. The palm tree, Sanskrit taala from Proto-Dravidian *taaZ, is prominent in the myth and its earliest sculptural representations. The wine palm is associated with the wild ass, which inhabits the palm forest and finally falls down from the top of the palm like its ripe fruits. The wine palm is connected also with the ass’ killer (his successor as the god of its drink), Balarama, whose addiction to toddy is “an essential part of his character.”

The myth also refers to the palm emblem on Balarama’s banner (tâla-dhvaja). In the Rigveda, Indra is invited to drink Soma like a thirsty wild ass (gaura) drinks in a pond of salty soil (iriNa). In Kutch today, such ponds are called taalaab. This Persian word comes from Indo-Aryan taala ‘pond’, from Proto-Dravidian *taaZ ‘low place, depression.’ Like the camel, the wild ass can quickly drink an enormous amount of water, becoming through homophony the prototypal toddy-drinker. Further homophones of taaZ connect the wild ass with the ebb of tide and its mythical cause, the mare-faced demon of the netherworld who drinks the whole ocean.

Conclusion: taaL (from *taaZ, preserved in Old Kannada) ‘(hind) leg, stem of tree’ (whence taaZ ‘tree with a prominent stem’ > ‘wine palm’) is in many ways connected with the wild ass.

(The author, who will be the first recipient of the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award, is Professor Emeritus of Indology, Institute of World Cultures, University of Helsinki.)

Questions posed to Iravatham mahadevan and Asko Parpola.

June 21, 2010

Questions posed to Iravatham mahadevan and Asko Parpola.

Iravatham Mahadevan and Asko Parpola have to answer many questions without mincing words, which are pointed out as follows:

1. The expression, “Vedic scholar-turned-Dravidianist” proves the change in ideology that is not good for any scholar of his stature. IM has already brought Michael Witzel, the Rig Vedic Pundit last year here in Chennai and he talked differently. Of course, IM prevented native Pundits to question and test his Sanskrit capabilities. He was struggling to repeat few words mentioned by one of the audience.

2. That he has academic credentials “to prove that the Indus Civilisation was pre-Aryan and that its writing encoded a Dravidian language”, makes no credentials, as researchers have such qualifications and acumen in their steadfast work carried on for years. Scholars respect scholars till they are biased with other motives.

3. “Even though the Indus script remains undeciphered, as Professor Parpola readily admits, his theoretical groundwork on the Dravidian character of the Indus Civilisation and the script, and the fact of Aryan immigration into India after the decline of the Indus Civilisation, have been accepted by most scholars in the world“. Acceptance or non-acceptance of any hypothesis, theory etc., cannot be a criteria for coming to any final conclusion in a research plan, particularly, where the script remains undeciphered.

4. “When the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu’s award is given to me for a Dravidian solution of the Indus enigma, this award will inevitably be interpreted by many people as politically motivated”. Definitely, because, he has been known for his extremist views, racist bias and linguistic fanaticism and all couched with anti-Hindu, anti-Sanskrit, anti-Hindi, anti-north, anti-Brahmin and so on. Moreover, award for Dravidian solution of the Indus enigma, reminds the the world war period, where the racists scholars used to be honoured in the same way by the racist regimes, because any other solution means no award!

5. “Nevertheless, I am ready to fight for the truth, and in my opinion, the Tamils are entitled to some pride for having preserved so well the linguistic heritage of the Indus Civilisation”. Why some pride, they have “full / more” pride, whether they preserve or not the linguistic heritage of the Indus civilization. In fact, the queation is whether the Indus cicilization had any preserved linguistic heritage of the Tamils conclusively, instead of taking few seals and giving convenient interpretation.

6. “At the same time, it must not be forgotten that though their language has shifted in the course of millennia, people of North India too are to a large extent descended from the Harappan people, and have also preserved cultural heritage of the same civilisation.” Had both people descended from the same lineage, where is the question of linguistic heritage preserved by one group of people and cultural heritage by other group? His theory that “Aryan immigration into India after the decline of the Indus Civilisation” shows after the decline of the Indus civilization, the Dravidians moved to north and then came down to south. Aryans came thereafter and moved in the same way.

7. When Aryans immigrated after the decline of Indus-Dravidian civilization, there was no “Aryan invasion”. Karunanidhi would not accept such academic exercise.

8 . The time gap between the two historical processes has to be specified and explained. The peak period of IVC has been c.2250-1950 BCE. The Sangam period starts from c.300 BCE. Why then, the “Dravidian speaking people” took nearly two millinea to shift from IVC to north and north to South?

9. Why they should have taken such a long period to compose Sangam literature only at Tamizhagam insyead of IVC or north India? It is also surprising that they could not develop any script during those 2000 years!

10. The earliest Tamil inscriptions date from the Mauryan Era. That Asoka should copy from the Persians and start indscribing on the stones so that Indians could read at different parts of India in the same language or in their languages! And the intelligent Dravidian speaking people / immigrant Tamils from the IVC should wait for Asoka and start copying his script to write in Tamil only from that particular period!

11. As the IV Dravidian speakers had been the expert makers of the seals, why they should wait for 2000 years to copy script from Asoka? Does it make sound?

12. Asoka and even Kharavela, whose territories were threatened with the “confederation of Dravidian kings” could write many lines, how is that the Dravidian speaking people could leave only few-line inscriptions, broken ones etc?

Vedaprakash

20-06-2010

Michael Witzel and Rajaram: Interesting encounters!

April 19, 2010

Michael Witzel and Rajaram: Interesting encounters!

As I am an Indian and poor man, I could not have gone there to watch fun, but our Sanskrit Professor at Harvard have done a nice coverage to that event and I thank Michael Wizel and present the details as follows:

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id=”message_view_subject”>[Indo-Eurasia] Rajaram, in Boston, requires withdrawal of Horseplay in HarappaSunday, 18 April, 2010 8:45 PM

From:
“Michael Witzel” <witzel@fas.harvard.edu>

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To:
Indo-Eurasian_research@yahoogroups.com
Cc:
“Michael Witzel” <witzel@fas.harvard.edu>

Dear List,

since it is the weekend, a few amusing details about our old friend,
NS Rajaram’s, talk at MIT last week (4/10) and his subsequent
interview in the local Indian immigrants’ (NRI) newspaper Lokavani
“Voice of the People’ — sponsored by a clueless US immigration lawyer.

Along with one or two of my students, I went to MIT to have some fun.
And fun it was. Some very emotional people (among the c. 40
listeners) objected to our snickering at his “ideas” (see below).

Rajaram indeed repeated all the fantasies and unscientific nonsense
that he has propagated since he abruptly turned, overnight (why?),
from a mathematician at some US colleges and a (very occasional, but
hyped) collaborator of NASA-Houston, into a “historian” back in his
home town of Bangalore in India.

No need to repeat all of this as we have discussed it on and off over
the past decade. (Just read his interview, below)

Only a few highlights.

I thought to challenge his many fantasies (see Lokavani), but as
there was little time and chance, I merely pointed out the obvious:
that his “scientific” dating of the Vedic civilization BEFORE the
Indus civilization (2600-1900 BCE) is impossible precisely on
*scientific* grounds: before 2000 BCE, there were no horses
(caballus) in India, nor had spoke-wheeled chariots been invented by
then. Both are of course prominent in the “preceding” Vedic texts.

Rajaram and friends (e.g., an *always present* loud associate of a
local temple) took up the usual secondary and tertiary ‘arguments’
and ways out: that there were “Indian” horses with seventeen ribs in
the Rgveda (of course *not* a genetic trait of horses [that have
16-18 ribs]),and the Narmadicus horses (well, dead for hundreds of
thousands of years, — along with their 3 toes (!) ). Fun.

Or quoting a Graham Hancock film (Kathy?) … No comment.

More funnily, one young women, objecting emotionally to the husband
of my student, showed him the finger and called him an asshole.
Remember the same from our Dartmouth, Mass. meeting of June 2006?
(Where Rajaram is now invited by the miniscule setup of a “Center of
Indian Studies”, at U. Mass., Darthmouth). See my detailed June 26,
2006 report:

<http://groups. yahoo.com/ group/Indo- Eurasian_ research/ message/4278>

She also wanted to ‘correct’ my Sanskrit pronunciation of shaanti and
told us the familiar Hindutva standby that we were not entitled, as
non-Indians, to talk about Indian culture. When I told her that, in
that case, she was not entitled to talk about American culture, we
only got blank, non-comprehending stares, even after explaining it
for a 2nd time. — Fun.

But back to Rajaram. More fun: He came up to me after his 2 hour (!)
talk to “greet” me, and I told him to stop lying about me (…
forgetting, by the way, about his monthly missives to my president
and provost to throw me out of the University.. .).

**He then required me to withdraw our 2000 paper “Horseplay in
Harrappa” in the Indian magazine Frontline**
that completely destroyed his credibility, even in the then Hindutva-
led (BJP) circles.

I told him: no way.

He also told the audience that his 2nd volume on the “decipherment’
of the Indus signs would come out now. Cannot wait for more
decipherments such as “mosquito”.. .

And, that he has now shifted to a maritime interpretation (along with
David Frawdley) of the Rgvedic texts. (Good luck with traveling in
the night time sky = samudra!) And to South East Asian maritime
input on Vedic civilization — a pet idea of their part-time fellow
traveller, Koenraad Elst, in Belgium.

And, even more remarkably, researching now a connection between the
late 1st millennium CE Vedanta philosophy and … physics. On that
point, he was challenged by MIT/Harvard students, of course…

For all of this (in Rajaram’s words) see the link and mssg. quoted
below.

At any rate, apart from the loss of our time, it was good weekend
entertainment.
Hope you, too, enjoy his pronouncements. …

Cheers, Michael

His interview in Lokavani: <http://www.lokvani. com/lokvani/ article.php? article_id= 6418>

For convenience, it is reproduced here:

In Conversation With Dr. Navaratna Rajaram
Ranjani Saigal 04/13/2010

(This article is sponsored by Attorney Rachel C. Tadmor)
Dr. Navaratna S. Rajaram is a mathematician and scientist who after more than twenty years as an academic and industrial researcher turned his attention to history and history of science. He has authored several acclaimed books on ancient history including Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization, Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization (w/ David Frawley); and The Deciphered Indus Script (w/ Natwar Jha). He is best known for showing the connections between Vedic Mathematics and Indus archaeology and proposing a decipherment of the 5000 year old Indus script jointly with the late Natwar Jha. He is currently visiting faculty at the University of Massachusetts , Center for Indic Studies at Dartmouth.

He spoke to Lokvani about his work and the need for technically minded Indians to learn more about India and its history.

What motivated , a mathematician by profession to do research in Indian history and Indology?

I was always interested in history and history of science. My maternal grandfather Sri R. Vyasa Rao wrote Sri Krishna Caritra in Kannada (my mother tongue) based on Sri Bankima Chandra Chatterji’s Bengali masterpiece of the same name. My study of the work taught me that there advantages to looking at history from a scientific point of view. I had long planned to bring out an English version of that work, which finally happened a few years ago in my English Search for the Historical Krishna. It is not a translation though but a new work that uses a lot of data which was not available to Sri Bankima Chandra.

How did you learn the techniques required to do research in History? Do you consider your “non-training” in the colonial-Eurocentric approach to history an advantage?

I don’t think you need any special training in history except a capacity to look at all claims with skepticism and never to accept anything on authority or reputation. The same is true of science also. In that sense my training in mathematics (and math physics) prepared me well for history.

Why is the Aryan Invasion theory which we now know is a myth important to Indian historians? Why are so many scholars afraid debunking the Aryan theories?

It was important because it was an attempt by outsiders, even those hostile to us, to tell us how we should see ourselves and our heritage. Now that the Aryan myth, not just the theory is dead, we need to move to a new phase– to understand what drove Europeans and even some Indians to hold on to it long after science and history had discredited it. European scholars like Leon Poliakov and Stefan Arvidson (in The Aryan Myth and Aryan Idols) have done it from a European perspective.

But Indian scholars seem to be still reluctant and even timid to face it and hesitant to call a spade a spade and expose these Aryan theories for what they are. It is residual inferiority complex.

Why is colonial-Eurocentric approach towards understanding Indigenous culture still strongly followed in intellectual history circles ?

Inferiority complex that is programmed into Indian humanities and social science programs. This is a colonial hangover or ‘dhimmitude’ towards their former masters. Colonialism may be dead but the mindset of the colonial subject is still there in the intelligentsia. This is by no means limited to India.

Why do western professors studying the history of an Indigenous culture place no value on the multiple sources of literature and  philosophies which guide the lives of the millions in the culture they study that have evolved through the ages some of which totally contradict their writings?

It is precisely because they contradict their long-held positions! It also strikes at the root of their presumption of superiority. But here the problem lies more with Indians than with the Western scholars. A clear message should be sent out that we judge everything on its merit regardless of whether source is indigenous (Indian) or Western, and no special consideration will be shown to anyone. After all this how we judge people and their work in other fields. A theorem in mathematics must be proved, no matter who states it. Why should it be any different in history or any other subject?

What is the danger in allowing  colonial-Eurocentric works go unchallenged?

We must reject all shoddy work, Western or Indian. But because West had a monopoly on such scholarship without competition, it generated a lot of shoddy scholarship. My objection is that it has given rise to shoddy scholarship and nationalistic responses that are also shoddy in scholarship. Now that the field is opening up, we must try to lift the standards of scholarship. But people with a stake in the status quo will fight it.

You have worked on  deciphering the Harappan Script and that claim has been vociferously opposed by professors following the Eurocentric approach. Are professors  closing the doors on Academic research and shutting the window to knowledge by closing their mind and not allowing their students to  look at rational thinking?

I don’t want to make too much of the vitriolic reactions of a handful of frustrated scholars — both Western and Indian — to the solution that Jha and I proposed. Several people, both in India and the West have received our work favorably and others have offered constructive criticisms. Actually the script doesn’t tell us much more than we already know– that the Harappan civilization was Vedic and also the Rig Veda came before Harappan archaeology (of the Indus Valley).

THIS IS THE REAL ISSUE– THE VEDIC-HARAPPAN IDENTITY. The rest is just diversion. Once this basic reality is accepted, it means the collapse of the academic discipline called Indo-European Studies.

As far as the script is concerned, it is just one piece of the puzzle, not the whole solution. Jha and I and David Frawley also have much more now that relate to the Vedic-Harappan equation. Jha and I had made progress towards a successor to our book The Deciphered Indus Script that would place greater emphasis on the Vedic symbolism and the identity of the Harappans. But we decided that in the prevailing climate a book would not get a reasonable hearing and be subjected to diversionary attacks and misinformation campaign. So we decided to wait until the climate turned more normal.

Unhappily, Jha died a few years ago but I and some of my colleagues are working on books on the subject. Now that these hostile academics and their followers have discredited themselves, we may bring out our books in the next few years. But for the desperate diversionary attacks by some scholars — both Western and Indian — worried about their positions and reputations, much of this work would have been available by now. So they succeeded in delaying progress by about a decade, that is all. My regret is that Jha, who made such a major contribution is no longer here to share it.

How do you hope to create a shift in the study of indigenous cultures which are currently being dominated by some powerful academics at prestigious universities?

Ignore their unsupported claims and demand that they give evidence and proof. Look at evidence without being swayed by prestige or reputation.  Above all, don’t give them  any support– financially or in terms of students. Their programs are dwindling, and it would be unwise for a young man or woman to try to make a career or gain fame following in their footsteps.

What advice do you have for our readers?

For young readers, first, study the past but don’t live in the past. See if we can bring ancient wisdom like Vadantic metaphysics to apply to problems of modern physics like quantum reality. Incidentally, this is my current area of interest. Next don’t waste time studying nineteenth century ideas like Aryan and Dravidian, etc. They are dead, no matter what their advocates may claim. (They will also be dead.) Except for details we have pretty much solved the problem of Vedic and Harappan origins and their mutual relationship. So start looking at proto-Vedic and pre-Vedic ages. This will call for a thorough understanding of natural history from the Ice Age to the present and of population genetics.

For everyone– don’t support these hostile programs just because they are at ‘prestigious’ universities or because some of these people have big reputations, at least according to themselves. Most of these are in decline and let them die a natural death. Don’t prolong the agony by giving them any life support.

On the other hand support and organize programs that stress an indigenous perspective like yoga, vedanta and science others that have a rational basis and are scientifically and intellectualy exciting.

Thank you for your time

Thank you

Asko Parpola gets award from the controversial Karunanidhi!

April 4, 2010

Asko Parpola gets award from the controversial Karunanidhi!

Karunanidhi has been modern day racist Dravidian leader, who runs government in the name of “Dravidian race superiority” against the imaginary “Aryans”.

Just like Hitler, he believes that “Aryans” were responsible for the “downfall” of “Dravidians” and therefore, he has been waging perpetual war against those “Aryans”.

Now, the racist Karunanidhi has recognized that asko Parola has been responsible for indetifying the undeichiphered IVC script as “DRavidian” and therefore, he is awarded by that Dravidian racist leader!

Let us see the response of the academicians.

Already, his controversial “Tamil conference” is infested with various problems. The original Tamil Body had refused to participate in the conference.

Classical Tamil Award for Asko Parpola

Asko Parpola. Photo : N. Sridharan
THE HINDU Asko Parpola. Photo : N. Sridharan

Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award: For his work on Dravidian hypothesis in interpreting Indus script, Asko Parpola gets the award in the name of controversial racist leader. Asko Parpola, leading authority on the Indus script and Professor Emeritus of Indology in the University of Helsinki, Finland, has been chosen for the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award for 2009. He was selected for his work on the Dravidian hypothesis in interpreting the Indus script because the Dravidian, as described by him, was very close to Old Tamil, an official release issued on Saturday said. Professor Parpola will receive a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh, a citation and a memento during the World Classical Tamil Conference to be held in Coimbatore in June.

Selection appears to be more political than academic: His selection was made at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who is also chairman of the Central Institute of Classical Tamil. Two hundred and thirty nominations were received from different countries, including Australia, U.S., the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka and Finland besides India. Administered by the Institute, the award was established out of a donation of Rs.1 crore made by Mr. Karunanidhi in July 2008. The amount is being deposited in the name of Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Language Trust.

Asko Parpola: Born in July 1941, Professor Parpola has devoted his life to the task of solving the Indus script. Since 1968, he has been stressing that the Indus civilisation and its writing are Dravidian. His research and teaching interests include Indus Civilisation, Samaveda, Vedic rituals, South Asian religions and pre-historic archaeology of South and Central Asia. His magnum opus “Deciphering the Indus Script” proposing Dravidian as the language of the Indus script has been hailed a classic in the field. His ‘Concordance to the Indus Texts’ has been serving as a valuable source for researchers. The two volumes of ‘The Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions,’ reproduced the original seals and their impressions.

Steve Farmer accuses Asko Parpola, I. Mahadevan and “The Hindu” too!

July 16, 2009

Steve Farmer accuses Asko Parpola, I. Mahadevan and “The Hindu” too!

http://vedaprakash.indiainteracts.in/2008/02/19/steve-farmer-accuses-asko-parpola-i-mahadevan-and-the-hindu-too/

Asko Parpola”s talk at Chennai and outburst of Steve from Harvard: In www.Indiainteracts.com, I posted the proceedings of the Asko Parpolaa talk delivered on 17-02-2008 at Roja uthaiah Hall, Taramani, under the caption, “The Row over Indus Script: Why Asko Parpola”s paper questioning Michael Witzel was not published?” considering the importance of the issue. The organizers had evidently discouraged the questions. I already pointed out as how K. V. Ramakrishna Rao who started asking Asko Parpola as to why his paper was not published in the Stanford University proceedings, and proceeded to ask about the IVC symbols appearing in Soghura Copper plate, punch mark coins, why the animal symbols were chosen to be used etc[1]., he was prevented on the plea of shortage of time. The press has also not covered it properly as each paper carried the story differently. Either the reporters did not care to get the names of the persons[2] who discussed with Asko Parpola or the organizers would have given different Press Note.

Steve Farmer informed about the Chennai talk and responds: Coming to the issue, now, Franscesco Brighenti, who was fighting with Vedaprakash[3] supporting Asko Parpola earlier (in Indiancivilizationyahoogroup) has evidently switched sides to Steve Farmer and Company. He informed  the “The Hindu” report of Asko Parpola”s Chennai talk on 16-02-2008, which has provoked Steve Farmer and responded as follows[4]:

——————————————————————————————————-

Re: [Indo-Eurasia] “Indus script was a writing system” (Parpola”s talk in Chennai, 16 Feb., 2008)

On Feb 18, 2008, at 4:04 AM, Francesco Brighenti wrote:> Forwarded from another List:

> http://www.thehindu.com/2008/02/17/stories/2008021759560500.htm

> Indus script was a writing system, avers Indologist….*********
Dear Francesco,

What? _The Hindu_ announces that Asko Parpola thinks that the “Indus script” is a “writing system”? I”m shocked. :^)[5] (Parpola first came to prominence in 1969 when he declared that the “Indus code” had been “cracked” and encoded proto-Dravidian: he”s said the same thing for the past 40 years.)[6]

For discussion of Parpola”s early views and these arguments, see the paper by the unnamed three researchers noted in the story (Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel), especially pp. 19 ff.:http://www.safarmer.com/fsw2.pdf

A few things of interest, some of which we”ve pointed out on the List before, and then basta[7], hopefully:1. Ever since we published “Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis” in December, 2004, the Hindu has posted an endless series of stories like this, most involving Iravatham Mahadevan. (Mahadevan is a close friend of the owners of the paper.) The stories included the announcement of Mahadevan”s claimed Tamil-Nadu “Indus axehead”, which supposedly carries an Indus sign that Mahadevan identifies with the Tamil god Murukan, who isn”t attested historically until thousands of years after the Indus civilization was gone. (No serious Indus researcher besides Mahadevan accepts the legitimacy of the “Indus axehead” found in Tamil Nadu.)

2. Parpola”s talk was given in the Roja Muthiah Research Library, which houses what is gloriously called the “Indus Valley Research Centre”, apparently a small one-room office in the Library, which was founded by Mahadevan and his Tamil nationalist friends to counter the influence of our 2004 paper, which for obvious reasons is as anathema to Tamil nationalists as it is to Hindutva nationalists. The long stream of stories in The Hindu since we published our paper have all revolved around this “Centre” and the Library.

3. It Is a pain to answer newspaper stories, especially when there are a long series of them that repeatedly say the same things, but briefly to the points ascribed to Parpola:

1.
> Citing a host of reasons to substantiate his position, he said the
> Indus script was created for economic and administrative reasons
> like the Archaic Sumerian script.
>
> This could be found out, given that the majority of the surviving
> texts were seal stamps and seal impressions used in trade and
> administration.

Odd comment, since stamps and seal impressions from Sumer certainly don”t contain any “writing.” Seals and seal impressions go back thousands of years before writing, incidentally, and were used world- wide by literate and illiterate societies both.

2.
> As for the issue of the size of Indus texts, he said though the
> texts had five signs as their average length, this was sufficient
> to express short noun phrases in a logo-syllabic script of the
> Sumerian type. “We cannot expect complete sentences in seals and
> other types of objects preserved.”
>

The size issue is a script-thesis killer — one of several killer arguments. More precisely, the longest line of symbols on one surface contains only 17 symbols, on a piece less than 1 inch square. Less than 1/100 pieces carry as many as 10 signs. The average inscription” using Mahadevan”s concordance, which lists 2,905 objects, is 4.6 signs long. That concordance (not a good one) was published in the 1970s. Everything found since then is also uniformly short. We”ve offered a $10,000 prize for anyone who comes up with any “long text” (knowing full well that none will ever show up[8].) Here is our tongue-in-cheek prize announcement, which we made since we couldn”t get script advocates to discuss this embarrassing issue:http://www.safarmer.com/indus/prize.html

So there where are the texts? On perishable writing materials, to cite the argument invented by Hunter 1929 (backed by Marshall 1931) to explain away the lack of long texts? Apparently so. Parpola reportedly[9] comments:> Manuscripts on perishable materials “almost certainly” existed in
> south Asia but had not been preserved during 600 years, from the
> beginning of the Persian rule, corresponding to the duration of the
> Indus Civilisation.

It”s interesting that he says this to reporters. We tried to get him to discuss this issue at our Stanford conference, and he ignored the question[10]. The reason? As he knows (since I discussed the issue at length at Stanford), we know of no premodern literate civilization anywhere in the world — not even those that wrote extensively on perishable materials — that didn”t also leave long texts behind on durable materials. See our “one-sentence refutation of the Indus-script myth”:

http://www.safarmer.com/indus/simpleproof.html
(cf. also the more detailed arguments in our paper)Asko has carefully ignored this issue everytime we”ve spoken together — at Harvard 2002, in Kyoto in 2005, and at Stanford 2007 — but he brings up the “lost manuscript” thesis when speaking with reporters, since there is no one there to challenge him on it.

3.
> As for the Harappan writing equipment used, he said an analysis of
> painted Indus texts on Harappan pots and bangles revealed that
> Indus people had used brushes to write, though the brushes had not
> survived or had not been recognised.

This one is really a stretch, picking up a passing line in Hunter 1929 that no one has ever taken seriously. The reason Parpola now resurrects this argument (without showing any visual evidence for it, since there isn”t any) is because we argue at some length in “Collapse” and elsewhere the obvious: that no traces of writing instruments or writing paraphernalia show up in Indus iconography or
among Indus artifacts[11] (see “Collapse” above, pp. 24-6, in the section entitled “The Lost Manuscript Thesis”). Expected markers of manuscript production involve things like inkpots (also ink residues), brushes, palettes, styli, pens, other literate paraphernalia; pictures of scribes, texts, and writing instruments in
art; signs in inscriptions (when symbols as in the Indus case are partly pictographic) of scribes, texts, writing instruments, etc. Not one trace of anything like this is found in the Indus Valley (for detailed discussion, see the above pages). Interestingly, Marshall (who oversaw the early Indus excavations, and accepted without discussion Hunter”s “lost manuscript” thesis, since it allowed him to accept the claim that the Indus peoples were literate, like the Mesopotamians or Egyptians), found abundant evidence of writing materials in his excavations in Taxila, in Indus territory but of course from a period over a millennium after the
last remnants of Indus civilization were gone (cf. Marshall 1951). The supposed[12] “analysis of painted texts on Harappan pots and bangles” that Parpola speaks of refers to a line in the 1929 doctoral thesis of G.H. Hunter, who invented the “lost manuscript thesis.” I discussed this issue again at length at Stanford, in Parpola”s presence, and he didn”t say a word. Things change when there is no one to respond to him.

(On this issue: at Stanford in our conference, Michael presented detailed evidence undercutting the idea that the Indus Valley was Dravidian speaking. Again, Parpola didn”t say a word, and in his own talk in our day-long conference didn”t even use the word “Dravidian” once, since Michael, Richard, and I were all there. The next week, Parpola gave another talk at Stanford in which neither I nor Michael were present — and the Dravidian thesis was at the center of his talk.)Thus scholarship on the “Indus script”: guerilla warfare in newspapers which under no conditions will publish rebuttals. As he knows, Asko has an open invitation to discuss these issues on the List. A few days of public discussion would close the book on the so-called “Indus script” thesis forever. (Hence that discussion will never occur.)[13]

Best,
SteveOn Feb 18, 2008, at 4:04 AM, Francesco Brighenti wrote:

> http://www.thehindu.com/2008/02/17/stories/2008021759560500.htm
>
> Indus script was a writing system, avers

————————————————————————————————

Re: [Indo-Eurasia] “Indus script was a writing system” (Parpola”s talk in Chennai, 16 Feb., 2008)

Dear Francesco,An addendum to my last post:

http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/koko.jpg

For that post:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Indo-Eurasian_research/message/9362

It”s a holiday in the US, BTW — President”s Day, no less — justifying the appearance of the wisest of all guerillas on the List. I think I know what Koko is thinking. NB that the 1,000 signs that Koko has mastered are “well ordered” at that, just as street signs are.George Bush celebrated his day — he”s President, after all – by endorsing John McCain as his would-be successor. Hopefully (but assume nothing about US elections) it will be the kiss of death:

http://tinyurl.com/yvp79z

Steve**********************************************************************************

On Feb 18, 2008, at 8:06 AM, Steve Farmer wrote:

> On Feb 18, 2008, at 4:04 AM, Francesco Brighenti wrote:
>
>> Forwarded from another List:
>
>> http://www.thehindu.com/2008/02/17/stories/2008021759560500.htm
>
>> Indus script was a writing system

————————————————————————————————-

Re: [Indo-Eurasia] “Indus script was a writing system” (Parpola”s talk in Chennai, 16 Feb., 2008)

> An addendum to my last post:
>
> http://www.safarmer.com/Indo-Eurasian/koko.jpg

The link is now fixed, for those who tried it a minute ago and got an error message. A collaborator who I”ll leave unnamed (not at Harvard) adds off-List: “What was the Indus text that read ‘give me a banana now or your ass is toasted”?”SF

———————————————————————————————————–

I have added emphasis to drive the points for discussion to know how the Western Indologists have been acting and reacting about and against India.

Steve”s criticism of “The Hindu”: For Steve Farmer and Michael Witzel, “the Hindu” or “Frontline” has not been anything new, as they were reigning supreme in getting their articles published in the “Open pages” of it and in Frontline. I have given the following as illustrative purpose and it is not exhaustive[14].

Title of the article

Author

The Hindu dated

Horseplay in Harappa Micheal Witzel and Steve Farmer Frontline October 13, 2000.
New Evidence on the `Piltdown Horse” Hoax Do Frontline November 26, 2000
Harappan horse myths and the sciences Michael Witzel March 5, 2002
A maritime Rigveda? – How not to read ancient texts? Michael Witzel June 25, 2002
Philology vanquished: Frawley”s Rigveda – I Michael Witzel August 6, 2002
Philology vanquished: Frawley”s Rigveda – II Michael Witzel August 13, 2002
Ecology, rhetoric or dumbing down? – I Michael Witzel February 11, 2003

Steve Farmer”s “Horse play” was published in “The Frontline” and he became famous, reportedly exposing N. S. Rajaram, “the native Indologist”! However, the responses of Prof. K. V. Raman, Dr. R. Nagaswamy, K. V. Ramakrishna Rao and others sent to “The Hindu” were not published. Only edited versions of R. Nagaswamy appeared on March 12, 2002 (Harappan horse) and July 2, 2002 (From Harappan horse to camel), as he himself used to tell to others in meetings and conferences about the attitude or the “editorial policy” of “The Hindu”, only Indian national newspaper! So with such influence with and accommodation of “The Hindu” group of Companies, now, Steve comments as follows:

“Ever since we published “Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis” in December, 2004, the Hindu has posted an endless series of stories like this, most involving Iravatham Mahadevan. (Mahadevan is a close friend of the owners of the paper.) The stories included the announcement of Mahadevan”s claimed Tamil-Nadu “Indus axehead”, which supposedly carries an Indus sign that Mahadevan identifies with the Tamil god Murukan, who isn”t attested historically until thousands of years after the Indus civilization was gone. (No serious Indus researcher besides Mahadevan accepts the legitimacy of the “Indus axehead” found in Tamil Nadu.).”

So what happened in between? Why all of sudden he should point to “the Hindu” differently?

N       Ever since we (Steve Farmer, Richard Sproat and Michael Witzel) published “Collapse of the Indus Script Thesis” in December, 2004, the Hindu has posted an endless series of stories like this, most involving Iravatham Mahadevan.

So “The Hindu” did not like your Company after 2004?  He is so worried to note the love of “the Hindu” has shifted from their Company to I. Mahadevan!

N       (Mahadevan is a close friend of the owners of the paper.)

When they were publishing articles of your Company, which friend was there close to the owners of “The Hindu” is not known. Anyway, the role of “The Hindu” manipulating in Indology, history and related topics have been exposed.

N       The stories included the announcement of Mahadevan”s claimed Tamil-Nadu “Indus axehead”, which supposedly carries an Indus sign that Mahadevan identifies with the Tamil god Murukan, who isn”t attested historically until thousands of years after the Indus civilization was gone.

  1. The Steve and co. doubt the reading of I. Mahadevan!
  2. Iravatham has to be careful with Steve, because, earlier Steve[15] accused R. Madivanan involved in an IVC forgery and he has also explained in detail in his article published in Steve ” Co electronic Journal. Refer to my earlier posting for details.
  3. Mahadevan”s identification of Murugan”s name with the symbols found on doubtful “Indus axehead” is unhistorical.
  4. The claim is made after the disappearance of the IVC.

N       (No serious Indus researcher besides Mahadevan accepts the legitimacy of the “Indus axehead” found in Tamil Nadu.

  1. He not only throws doubt on the so-called “Indus axehead” finding. But also questions the status of Mahadevan.
  2. Only Steve has to differentiate between the so-called “serious Indus researcher” and “not serious Indus researcher”.
  3. Dorian Q. Fuller[16] has already recorded his “skepticism” of the finding.
  4. Nicole Boivin[17] has also concurred with Dorian Q. Fuller.

N       The long stream of stories in The Hindu since we published our paper have all revolved around this “Centre” and the Library.

“The Hindu” has so much interest around the “Centre” found by I. Mahadevan! So Steve is not happy with “The Hindu”.

N       It Is a pain to answer newspaper stories, especially when there are a long series of them that repeatedly say the same things,

  1. “The same Hindu” that promoted Steve gives pain to Steve – Why?
  2. Perhaps, now Asko Parpola gets support from it and his articles might be published soon.
  3. Of course, Asko Parpola himself has accepted that his paper would be published by I. Mahadevan, when, K. V. Ramakrishna Rao asked him on 17-02-2008 during the discussion.

N       It”s interesting that he says this to reporters.

  1. The reporters obviously including “The Hindu” that carried the story next day.
  2. Perhaps, he questions the reporters[18] as to whether they know the nuances of scripts written on perishable and non-perishable materials.

N  Thus scholarship on the “Indus script”: guerilla warfare in newspapers which under no conditions will publish rebuttals.

  1. Now, “The Hindu” accommodates guerilla warfare in newspapers
  2. “The Hindu” under no conditions will publish rebuttals, implying that Steve ” Co., might have sent their articles to “The Hindu”., but they are not published! Of course, the fact has to be verified.
  3. Anyway, as otherwise, Steve would not have been so angry with “The Hindu” as the Hindutwa people have been also angry with “The Hindu”!

Steve tirade against Iravathan Mahadevan: Interestingly, the tirade against Iravatham Mahadevan, one of the leading “native” Indologists is interesting and intriguing, as hitherto, he was supporting only Steve and Co.

N       By accusing that he, “is a close friend of the owners of the paper“, what he tries to imply is not known. Perhaps, he tells that “The Hindu” has been now biased against him supporting I. M. and A.P.

N       It is really unbecoming to dub him as a not “serious Indus researcher”.

N       He questions the legitimacy of the acceptance of symbols found on the doubtful “Indus axehead”.

N       Steve perhaps doubts Mahadevan has been behind for their “rebuttals” not published.

N       He strongly criticizes the “Research Centre” founded:  “….the Roja Muthiah Research Library, which houses what is gloriously called the “Indus Valley Research Centre”, apparently a small one-room office in the Library, which was founded by Mahadevan and his Tamil nationalist friends to counter the influence of our 2004 paper, which for obvious reasons is as anathema to Tamil nationalists as it is to Hindutva nationalists[19].

  1. The research centre is apparently a small one-room office in the Library, so what? Is there there any condition that research cannot conducted sincerely, seriously and with standards in one room?
  2. It is evident that Steve has become desperate in accusing others.
  3. Steve accuses that the research centre, “…..was founded by Mahadevan and his Tamil nationalist friends to counter the influence[20] of our 2004 paper, which for obvious reasons is as anathema to Tamil nationalists as it is to Hindutva nationalists.” but what about his background? He has been accused of as a Christian fundamentalist[21] by his friends and others in Internet forums, that too, based on his Ph.D thesis? Would he disprove that?
  4. The rationale being, “….. for obvious reasons is as anathema to Tamil nationalists as it is to Hindutva nationalists.” Why their 2004 paper has been anathema to Tamil nationalists? Why all of sudden “Tamil nationlists” have come here? Why they should oppose Steve and Co? Why even it is anathema to Hindutva nationalists? When he has liberty of arrogance to dub others as so, what brand of “ideology”, he is belonged? He must have some anti-ideology against “Tamil nationalists” and “Hindutva nationalists“.  That means, he agrees that he has beemn an anti-Tamil and anti-Hindu ideologist? Steve should come out openly, before he alleges and accuses others, that too from Harvard University.

N       The average inscription” using Mahadevan”s concordance, which lists 2,905 objects, is 4.6 signs long. That concordance (not a good one) was published in the 1970s.

  1. So what, how he can discredit another scholar like this without any decency and decorum?
  2. Is it not unbecoming for a person claiming as “serious Indus researcher” that too hailing from Harvard?
  3. Who is he to declare that, “That concordance (not a good one) was published in the 1970s.
  4. Is it worthwhile to say so?
  5. So his complete tirade against Iravatham Mahadevan is exposed here, as he has stopped down to such a mean level to discredit a monumental work on IVC.
  6. In fact, the International scholars should condemn him for his arrogance, pride and foolishness of his outbursts made in Internet forums in which he claims there have been world-famous, first class academicians, historians and scholars are there.

His tirade against Asko Parpola: Of course, it has been as open as was revealed perhaps their fight started at Tokyo in 2005 and erupted inn big proportions at Stanford University:

”   Asko has carefully ignored this issue everytime we”ve spoken together — at Harvard 2002, in Kyoto in 2005, and at Stanford 2007 –

Steve should come out openly what Asko Parpola ignored about their speech. Or Asko should clarify, as this is a serious issue for Indians and others also. The scholars cannot go on play with our historical issues, controversialize it and make Indian progeny to read false histories as has been going on. They have every right to know the background of how Indian history was written, has been written and is written.

”   but he brings up the “lost manuscript” thesis when speaking with reporters, since there is no one there to challenge him on it.

> As for the Harappan writing equipment used, he said an analysis of
> painted Indus texts on Harappan pots and bangles revealed that
> Indus people had used brushes to write, though the brushes had not
> survived or had not been recognised.

For the above Asko Parpola”s point, Setve retorted differently as mentioned. To analyze crucial sentences, –

“This one is really a stretch, picking up a passing line in Hunter 1929 that no one has ever taken seriously. The reason Parpola now resurrects this argument (without showing any visual evidence for it, since there isn”t any)”……….. that no traces of writing instruments or writing paraphernalia show up in Indus iconography or among Indus artifacts (see “Collapse” above, pp. 24-6, in the section entitled “The Lost Manuscript Thesis”). Expected markers of manuscript production involve things like inkpots (also ink residues), brushes, palettes, styli, pens, other literate paraphernalia; pictures of scribes, texts, and writing instruments in art; signs in inscriptions (when symbols as in the Indus case are partly pictographic) of scribes, texts, writing instruments, etc. Not one trace of anything like this is found in the Indus Valley (for detailed discussion, see the above pages). Interestingly, Marshall (who oversaw the early Indus excavations, and accepted without discussion Hunter”s “lost manuscript” thesis, since it allowed him to accept the claim that the Indus peoples were literate, like the Mesopotamians or Egyptians), found abundant evidence of writing materials in his excavations in Taxila, in Indus territory but of course from a period over a millennium after the last remnants of Indus civilization were gone (cf. Marshall 1951). The supposed “analysis of painted texts on Harappan pots and bangles” that Parpola speaks of refers to a line in the 1929 doctoral thesis of G.H. Hunter, who invented the “lost manuscript thesis.” I discussed this issue again at length at Stanford, in Parpola”s presence, and he didn”t say a word. Things change when there is no one to respond to him.

  1. So if evidences were / are there what happened to them?
  2. Why one scholar should say the material evidence are available and another deny?
  3. I have already pointed out the foul play played by John Marshall suppressing the manuscripts of R. D. Banerjee and even making photographs disappearing. Therefore, how Indians have to rely upon in this context?
  4. Who is telling truth and who is lying?

”   (On this issue: at Stanford in our conference, Michael presented detailed evidence undercutting the idea that the Indus Valley was Dravidian speaking.

So that undercutting has made the “Tamil nationalists” unhappy as “hindutva nationalists”.

”   Again, Parpola didn”t say a word, and in his own talk in our day-long conference didn”t even use the word “Dravidian” once, since Michael, Richard, and I were all there.

So Asko was supporting your undercutting “Dravidian theory”, as long as you were there.

”   The next week, Parpola gave another talk at Stanford in which neither I nor Michael were present — and the Dravidian thesis was at the center of his talk.)

So Asko took one week to get him prepared to oppose you with pro-Dravidian or “Dravidian theory”. Anyway, it is ironical, that “the Three” were not present! But what about their “rebuttals” against him? At least, they could have published in other non-guerilla warfare journals!

Warning to Indians, particularly to the youth and Children: Now, we know India youth and children have been reasonably intelligent knowing the facts with hard work. Perhaps, they have to compete with crores of other colleagues in their competition. So they have to know the way in which our “Indian history” was written by the British and western scholars and has been written by our Indian historians and others faithfully following their methodology. So they should read the history with the background of their scientific thinking and critical analysis of facts of development of Numbers, number system, script, philiosphy and psychology behind it etc., as they expose the truth behind the Indian civilization, which has been target of all by all means. No doubt, not only the Steve-Witzel type arrogant category, “The Hindu” type Communists, or Dravidian ideologists may immediately jump and dub it as “Hindutva” and so on. But the youth and children should pursue and find out the facts.

Why historians fight with each other for Indian history: Whether IVC Indians had scripot and language or not, whether Harappans literate or illiterate, Vedic people recited Vedas with script or without script, could remember thousands of verses by mere memorizing or simply reading from the written manuscripts, etc., why the western Indologists, historians and scholars have been so anxious. Why they should oppose whenever, any claim is made that Indus script was deciphered. Even if deciphered why they should oppose if it is in Sanskrit or Tamil? It apperars that there has been more unhistorical psyche working in the minds of so-caled historians, as otherwise, they would not have indulged in mudsling and calling others by names etc., as has been witnessed by us now,

B      We do not know how Jon Marshall and R. D. Banerjee fought with each other when his findings were not published.

B      We do not know as to how Thomas Watters warned Vincent Smith not to edit his manuscript.

B      We do not know how Buhler disappeared or died mysteriously falling into waters reportedly “in a boat accident”, as he opposed Vincent Smith and other for their manipulations.

B      We do not know how Dr. Alois Anton Fuhrer, Editor of Epigraphica Indica was dismissed from the service[22] in 1898 for his forgery of creating Buddhist Urns and with Asokan inscription on them.

B      We do not know how so many Indian manuscripts were taken away to foreign countries but not available to Indian researchers to be accused of as not “serious”.

B      We do not know how Witzel and Co., have reportedly acquired manuscripts from India.

B      We do not know how and why Dr. (Vincent John Adams) Flynn could go oin smuggling valuable historical evidences of Indian history dating from c.1000 BCE from India till he was arrested at New Delhi Airport? He has been a very close and good friend of AAA Rizvi, Nural Hassan, Irfan Habib and other “eminent” and “elite” historians of India!

I stop, because the list would increase as K. V. Ramakrishna Rao gives hundeds of such instances. In any case, We have a right tp provide them the factual position. Of course, Indians have every right to write their history and rewrite also if anything is wrong, manipulated, falsified, fraudulently written etc., as there have been instances. The western or non-Indian or even Indian ideological Historians cannot accuse such historians as “nationalist”, “Hindutva” and so on, as they could not set right the things for the last 60 years. In fact, they have only enjoyed crores of Indian tax payers amount but misleading Indians.

Therefore, it rigt time for every true Indian to probe into the incidences of Indologists, historians and scholars fighting with each other and expose the motive behind it.

VEDAPRAKASH

1902-2008.


[1] There have been hundreds of papers published in the JRAS, JOBR, JBORI, etc.

[2] Even though, the organizers took the name, signature, e-mail and phone number, they refused to give the details of the participants in the discussion.

[3] When Vedaprakash questioned the Asko Parpola”s interpretation of “Dravidian megalithic people” invading India and coming to South India, he persisted that Asko never wrote like that. See Asko Parpola, Deciphering the Indus Script,  Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp.171-175.

[4] Accessible to the members of the yahoogroup.

[5] This symbol is used by Steve and his friends connoting some other meaning, which is not revealed to others.

[6] Note his sarcasm and scorn at his colleague.

[7] I do not understand it or its meaning. I would be grateful, if it is clarified.

[8] It looks like Indian politician”s claim of eradication of poverty, or giving job to all, education to all etc., which are not possible. As he has decided that it is not a script related to any languages, he would stick to his stand only.

[9] When he knows that I.M is close to the relatives of the owner of “The Hindu”, the Indus Research Centre has been in a single room etc., why he says that it is “reported”? Definitely, his Indian contacts would have sent details and photographs also.

[10] Asko says Steve and Company ha been adamant to their view point by asking irrelevant questions and they resused to publish his paper also.

[11] How Indians could believe such claims when so many Indian artifacts are smuggled out of IVC even today. Can the non-availability of evidence can negate the fact?

[12] Even Steve”s papers are only hypothesis and theory. How can he impose his hypothesis or theory as final on others?

[13] There was a discussion, but of course, there have been interests working at different angles in India and it could not be pursued effectively.

[14] I, II suggest that there have been other articles. I could not locate immediately from the paper cuttings. Of course, there have been articles of Patricia Norelli-Bachelet, Dravid Frawley, but Wizel was bombarding them. In fact, The Hindu published his article every week, whereas, the so-called rejoinders appeared much later that too in edited form, only in the case of Dr. R. Nagaswamy.

[15] Refer to my earlier article.

[16] Abstract volume of the International Symposium on Indus Civilization and Tamil Language, held at Chennai on February 15th ” 16th 2007, pp.23-28. Ironically, not only the invited International scholars attended the conference, but even I. Mahadevan did not turn up.

[17] Ibid, p.28-29.

[18] Generally, the reporters have been so intelligent in questioning the Politicians and other ideological historians, but why they are not questioning the foreign scholars similarly. Are they afraid or they have some sort mind-set, that they should cause foreigners inconvenient?

[19] Perhaps, he has been so anxious or fond of Hindutva nationalists!

[20] So there has been an ideological war started. Why then Steve dubs it as a guerilla warfare and so on?

[21] Of course, he never responds as vigorous as he has been now, as he is perhaps afraid of getting exposed. In fact, he is accused of posting pro-Christian and anti-Hindu postings in Wikipedia by a trained group comprising ITwalas.

[22] Government of India Proceedings (Part B), Department of Revenue ” Agriculture (Archaeology ” Epigraphy Section), August 1898, File No. 24 of 1898, Proceedings Nos. 7-10 (National Achieves of India, New Delhi).

P. C. Mukheji, Report on a Tour of Exploration of the Antiquities in the Tarai, Nepal, JRAS, 1898.

Iravatham Mahadevan’s Speech: Authorized Version, spoken version, tapped version and my version

July 14, 2009

Iravatham Mahadevan’s Speech: Authorized Version, spoken version,  tapped version and my version

Vedaprakash

vedamvedaprakash@yahoo.com

Iravatham Mahadevan at last gathered courage to circulate his “authorized version” of his speech (on 08-7-2009) to selective friends with the following bracketed note of warning on 12-07-2009:

(This is the authorized version circulated by Iravatham Mahadevan from his notes which formed the basis for his lecture which was extempore. Hence, the actual sentences may be different between the notes and the talk which has been recorded on tape. But the contents are the same. The opening and closing invocations in Sanskrit have also been omitted.)

Iravatham Mahadevan

Iravatham Mahadevan

Authorised version of Iravatham Mahadevan’s speech[1]: Of course, his authorized version is as follows:

Atithi devo bhava

(A summary of the introductory talk by Iravatham Mahadevan

At The Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras

On July 8, 2009)

Respected Prof Witzel, Respected Prof Dash, ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy to welcome in our midst, Prof.Michael Witzel, Wales Prof. of Sanskrit, Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, USA. It is hardly necessary for me to introduce him to this audience of Sanskrit scholars[2]. Dr.Witzel is an eminent scholar in Sanskrit and has specialized in studies relating to the Rig Veda. The subject of his talk this morning is “Origin and development of Language in South Asia: Phylogeny vs. Epigenetics”. I am not a scholar in Indo-Aryan linguistics; my field is Indian Epigraphy. What I understand from the title of the lecture is that the two key words there are related to the Sanskrit root jan ‘to be born, produced’. I shall leave the rest to Prof.Witzel to explain.

I shall however utilize this opportunity[3] to add a few words on the happenings at Prof.Witzel’s lecture in another forum in this city. Some misguided elements[4] had planned to disturb the meeting[5]. But, due to the security precautions[6], the meeting went on peacefully, though some people stood on the main road outside distributing hand bills. What was the problem? These people have differences of opinion on some academic matters. Is that a sufficient reason to show disrespect[7] to a distinguished scholar in Sanskrit visiting institutions of Sanskrit learning to deliver academic lectures? Our culture is Atithi devo bhava ‘respect the guest like god’.

The Indian culture is based on tolerance and equal respect for all religions. The Vedic saying is ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti , ‘truth is one[8], the learned describe it in many ways’.

It is well known that I have serious differences of view with Prof.Witzel relating to the Indus Script. He thinks that the Indus Script is not writing at all. I am convinced it is a system of writing encoding an early form of Dravidian. So, what do I do? Do I take a gun and shoot him down? No! I take my pen and write a refutation of what he has written. That is the only way for academic scholars to react[9].

I claim that the Hindu doctrine of sarva dharma sama bhava is superior to the western concept of secularism. In the West, there was conflict between the state and the church. The church was separated from the state. And thereafter the western democracies have accorded full freedom of speech and freedom of religion to all their citizens. In India, the development of equal respect for all religions is much older. The Buddha rejected the authority of the Vedas and preached agnosticism. The Mahavira denied the existence of God. The religions founded by both of them have flourished in our pluralistic society.

In South India, Sankara preached Advaita, Ramanuja preached a qualified form called Visishtadvaita, while Madhwa was for Dvaita. Each of these great acharyas wrote their own bashyas and went about the country freely propagating their philosophies. After Islam came to India, there have been prophets like Guru Nanak Deva and Kabir synthesizing the best of both religions.

As I mentioned, India is a pluralistic society with many languages and many religions. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of religion and equal treatment for all before law. I proclaim from this dais that those who show disrespect to other religions, other points of view are un-Indian and un-Hindu. By their misguided action, these people do disservice to the tolerant, secular and pluralistic traditions of this great country. Let me assure our honoured guest[10] that such fanatic elements[11] constitute a small lunatic fringe of our society. The heart of India is sound.

Let me conclude this short talk with the words of wisdom uttered by Asoka, the greatest and noblest ruler in our long history. He engraved the following message. I call upon the Sanskrit scholars assembled here to read the edict in the original Prakrit[12], memorize it in your hearts and internalise the message and follow it in your lives.

Asoka’s  XII rock edict (Girnar version): Extracts

“Neither praising one’s own sect, nor blaming other sects should take place on improper occasions. But other sects ought to be duly honoured in every case. For, whosoever praises his own sect, or blames other sects, – all these out of devotion to one’s own sect, with a view of glorifying his own sect – if he is acting thus, he rather injures his own sect very severely. Therefore, CONCORD (sama vayo) alone is meritorious, that they should both hear and obey each others morals.”

I consider this rock edict of Asoka proclaimed 2300 years ago as the original Constitution of India which is still relevant. Let us follow it in word and spirit. Let us fight with all our might all forms of fanaticism, intolerance and bigotry by any section of the society, bringing disgrace to the hoary secular traditions of our country.

(This is the authorized version circulated by Iravatham Mahadevan from his notes which formed the basis for his lecture which was extempore. Hence, the actual sentences may be different between the notes and the talk which has been recorded on tape. But the contents are the same. The opening and closing invocations in Sanskrit have also been omitted[13].)

Taped version available with Sanskrit department: Now, it is clear that the tape has been the main evidence for the entire proceedings[14]. Its copies should be made available to the researchers and others. Prof Dass should take immediate action to take copies and present or he can convert into an audio file and send to others by e-mail, so that it could be downloaded and used. I request the learned readers to read my note at the end of “The Second Conference of Michael Witzel at Madras University”. For convenience, it is reproduced as follows:

Note: This has been prepared based on the notes noted down during the meeting. There are some points to be clarified. And therefore, certain points may be added or amended accordingly later. Here, the entire proceedings have been taped and the tape would give more details. Therefore, anybody wants to check up the proceedings, they could verify from the tape available with the Sanskrit Department, Madras University. Unfortunately, the proceedings were not videographed [also in Sanskrit college], as otherwise, it could have been an evidence to prove the capabilities of Prof Witzel.

Thus, I have clearly mentioned that, “Here, the entire proceedings have been taped and the tape would give more details. Therefore, anybody wants to check up the proceedings, they could verify from the tape available with the Sanskrit Department, Madras University.”

Therefore, I do not know as to whether IM has read my version to present his version to register his stand to denigrate Indians /Hindus. But, the style, manner and the “edited version” prove so.

IM’s handwritten version and spoken version: It is not known as to why IM should make a great fuss about his speech, when we are actually concerned about the Witzel’s “conferences” and his inability to answer the questions raised by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao. Let us analyse his “warning” issued just like “statutory warnings appearing on liquor, cigarette etc”:

  • This is the authorized version circulated by Iravatham Mahadevan from his notes which formed the basis for his lecture which was extempore.

As IM claims it is not at all an extempore speech, as he was having a written speech and he read it and the 15 or so audience was witness.

  • Hence, the actual sentences may be different between the notes and the talk which has been recorded on tape.

If learned scholars have guts, they need not worry about what they speak as extempore, reading from notes, AV forming his own notes etc. Obviously and evidently IM is afraid of the tap, as it contains the proof that Witzel has been questioned fundamentally by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao and Witzel could not answer. In fact, he accepted confessing that there are no archaeological evidences for his hypothesis. Therefore, the University of Madras should bring out the contents of tape or give a copy to others – say Dr S. Kalyanaraman, as otherwise, I am afraid that the tape might be tampered oor even disappear or they can simply say, the recorder did not record.

  • But the contents are the same.

Having edited and circulated such “edited version”, there is no need to say that “this” is same as “that”!

  • The opening and closing invocations in Sanskrit have also been omitted

Obviously, he was afraid of the slokas or its meaning or he is afraid that Witzel’s friends Steve Farmer et al would dub him as “Hindutvawadi”, “Right-wing activist” etc.

Let the Madras University proceedings be published: The concerned scholars, pundits and others should take immediate action to publish the contents of the tap that contains the proceedings of Witzel’s “conference” held at the auditorium of Marina Campus, organized by Sanskrit department of Madras University on 08-07-2009 held from 11 am to 1.30 pm. It would a record for Indians to expose how the western scholars or vested Indian scholars aid and abet each other and subvert Indian ethos. As the police (plain-clothed one inside) and uniformed outside were also there, there is no meaning in withholding the facts and circulating the AVs.

The “Hindutwa group” should take action: IM has recorded it clearly, as follows using such strong and impolite expressions against some “demonstrators” “misguided elements”, “fanatic elements”, Lunatic fringe of our society” etc. Really, I am surorised as to how In missed the second and third expressioins, though I was carefully noting down his speech.

  • “Some misguided elements had planned to disturb the meeting. But, due to the security precautions, the meeting went on peacefully, though some people stood on the main road outside distributing hand bills”.
  • By their misguided action, these people do disservice to the tolerant, secular and pluralistic traditions of this great country.
  • By their misguided action, these people do disservice to the tolerant, secular and pluralistic traditions of this great country. Let me assure our honoured guest that such fanatic elements constitute a small lunatic fringe of our society. The heart of India is sound.

This has been clearly directed on Ms Radharajan, Haran and Sadanjan and I have mentioned in my version also. In fact, the olice Officer at the gate was seen telling, “Did that IAS officer not know that would hurt the feelings of people?” (Obviously referring to Witzel’s assertion that the horned god depicted in IVC seal and the Gundestrup Cauldron were not Shiva, but some other deity). It is unfortunate that the so-called Hindus, still act and behave like this. When Iravatham Mahadevan like esteemed, elite and venerated scholars and Pundits act against Hindus like this, definitel Witzel like Wales Sanskrit of Professor at Harvar would go on blaspheme Hindu religion and Gods subtly, covertly here.

Michael Witzel

Michael Witzel

K. V. Ramakrishna Rao

K. V. Ramakrishna Rao

Swami Vivekananda exposed Gutav Oppert[15]: Gustav Solomon Oppert[16] (1836-1908) was a German teaching Sanskrit and Comparative linguistics at the Presidency College for 21 years.  He was born in Hamburg, Germany operating with the missionaries. Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was to attend the Paris Conference[17] in 1900. First day, Swamiji could not attend, as he was not feeling well, but on the second day, when he entered the Conference Hall, Gustav Oppert was presenting his paper on the origin of Salagrama worship relating to Phallic worship. After his presentation, Swamiji stood up and asked volley of questions and then clarified reciting slokas from Athava Veda and the scholars there dumfounded. Now similar type of situation has been happening.

Witzel has also been a German, a “Wales Sanskrit Professor” at “Harvard University”, conducting “conferences” in India, lecturing on Rigveda and IVC, origin of languages, telling that Sanskri is not so old as compared to the Dravidian and Munda languages. In fact, the language families are related to “phylum”.  Here, I draw attention of the scholars to the origin of “phylum” as pointed out earlier[18]:

From the different connotation of Phul / pul, and its combination, it is known that phylum is the race, class, division, family originating from a particular phallic or phullon or combination thereof[19]. Phuletes = tribes-manPhullon = leaf, female sexual organ

Phulon, = race,

phule = tribe

pule = gate

puloros = gate keeper

phusallis = bladder

phallic = male sexual organ

Are the words phul / pul or its equivalents are available in Sanskrit?

I request scholars to clarify.

Vedaprakash

14-07-2009


[1] IM has not sent any copy to me. However, as it is available in the internet and it is circulated to others, I also got a copy and I am using this, as received.

[2] However, his sojourns were kept secretive and even such “conferences” were conducted with security as confessed by the hon’ble speaker!

Vedaprakash, The Third Conference of Michael Witzel at Pondicherrry, for details, see at:

https://ontogenyphylogenyepigenetcs.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/the-third-conference-of-michael-witzel-at-pondicherry/

[3] It is unfortunate to understand that he has utilized every opportunity to deceive Indians / Hindus completely misusing his status and instigating others of Sanskrit College, Sanskrit Department, Madras University, Indus Research Centre, Roja Muthaish Library, International Institute for the Ancient Civilizations, and others for his Hindu-baiting and colluding and collaborating with Witzel & Co.

[4] See his audacity of talking about others, when he himself in a disgrace status of colluding with Witzel for non-academic activities. They should come out and challenge. In fact, when Hindus get such opportunity, it is right time to use and expose such anti-Hindu forces.

[5] See these gullible, meek, mild, innocent and incapable Hindus could plan only with “handbills”, whereas, the organizers could use such infra-structure of Sri Chanbdrasekhara Auditoruim of Sanskrit College, full AC auditorium to host just 15 with mufti police, cars plying for Witzel & Co., here and there, giving hefty “TA and DA in lalhs” in covers and above the anti-Hindu to talk about Rigveda to the Sanskrit Pundits.

[6] It is disgrace for IM, as with such brutal influence as an ex-IAS officer to use police force to contain academic proceedings. In fact, you tried to control the inside proceedings also preventing audience ask questions and later allowing one person, but evading Witzel not to answer. The same thing happened in front of IM.

Vedaprakash, The First Conference of Michael Witzel of Havard University, for details, see at:

https://ontogenyphylogenyepigenetcs.wordpress.com/2009/07/11/the-first-conference-of-micheal-witzel-of-harvard-university/

[7] IM : You have only disrespected the real Sanskrit Pundits of India and Madras, Tamilnadu by allowing Wizel and not allowing him to answer has been the highest disrespect shown to the decorum of research, conference and debate.

[8] But what Witzel is propounding is untruth, and your are supporting such untrue elements calling our people as “misguided elements”, “fanatic elements”, “lunatic fringe of our society” etc.

[9] But you have not cared for any academic type of proceedings. You have not given the full-text of the speaker, you controlled the proceedings and prevented not to respond to the questions raised. Therefore, still, it is your duty to get the papers and circulate, as your are circulating your authorized version of your speech.

[10] But you have not responded reciprocally to the Indian audience.

[11] These expressions have been very strong in deed.

[12] Here, I am surprised to note this urge, as to point out that the Sanskriit Pundits should learn Pali lanuage or they do not read and understand Pali language or the Pali language has been totally different from  Sanskrit or the Sanskrit knowing Pundits  could read and understand?………..

[13] This also secularism, MR IM? Wjhen MW was explaining “Father Heaven”, “African Eve” etc., was it secularism or communalism?

[14] Vedaprakash, The Second Conference of Michael Witzel at Madras University, for details, see at:

https://ontogenyphylogenyepigenetcs.wordpress.com/the-second-conference-of-michael-witzel-at-madras-university/

[15] Based on a paper presented by K. V. Ramakrishna Rao,  Gutav Oppert and Swami Vivekananda  – An Historical Encounter at the Paris Congreess of History of Religions, a paper presented at the Rajapalayam Session of SIHC.

[16] He had collaborated with Caldwell etc., in propounding the “Dravidian” race and linguistic hypotheses and theories.

[17] Jean Revilee (Ed.), Actes du Premier Congr’es International d’Histoire des Religions, (Proceedings of the First Congress of History of Religions, Part.1, Senaces generales, Part.2: seanas des sections, 3 fasc)  2 vols, Ernest Leroux, Paris, Part.1: 1901 and Part.2:1992.

[18] Vedaprakash, Ontogeny, Phylogeny and epigeny or the revival of Race, Racism and Racialism, for full details see at:

https://ontogenyphylogenyepigenetcs.wordpress.com/2009/07/12/ontogeny-phylogeny-and-epigeny-or-the-revival-of-race-racism-and-racialism/

[19] Having understood this meaning, perhaps, the westerners may not criticize the so-called “phallic-worship”!