Africa’s only Hindu island

I’m pretty sure that Mauritius is a secular democracy but it is 52% Hindu.

As an aside it would be interesting to study the evolution of Hindu island diaspora culture around the world (Suriname, Guiana, Fiji, Mauritius etc).

There doesn’t seem to have been much Brahmin migration and it was mainly done by farmers/labourers. The early 20th century into East Africa seems to have had much Gujarati merchant castes but if memory serves me right they also served as labourers for the railways so it’s all a bit complicated and understudied.

Disregarding the Out of India migration theory (but there must have been a pulse with the Mitanni in the Levant); India has periodically pushed out waves of migrants to spread its culture, script and religion. To my mind though the only Hindu society, outside of core South Asia, to have a strong Brahmin presence is Bali.

It’s brings a further observation is that can Vedic and Hindu be separated. The reason I suggest this is that the Hinduicisation of South India seems to have primarily mediated by Brahmin migrants from the north. They seem to have found local hierarchies and adapted it to the caste system (the Reddys seem to be indigenous Dravidians).

I’m still unclear what the original nucleus of Hindu society would have been. After the collapse of the IVC culture it seems that Indian/Hindu civilisation (I’m treating them as equivalent since we are talking about BC) was continually shifting towards Haryana than Western UP and then Bihar. It’s only the Islamic incursions in first millennia AD that shifted it back towards Delhi and plugged India back into the Turkic network.

Of course the Buddhist interruption can’t be ignored but the role of Brahmins in the coherence of Hindu civilisation simply can’t be ignored. What is interest is that all the Hindu islands sans Brahmins seem to become very relaxed creole island cultures that resemble Sri Lanka. All of sudden the pulsating sensuality and tropical sexuality that is so repressed in North India/Pakistan emerges and the hidden matriarchy also peaks through.

Much as the Muslim invaders were very obviously symbols of patriarchy and a stern nomadic culture; its not unreasonable to supposed that the Aryans represented much of the same stream and applied that to a relatively relaxed pagan Dravidian/AASI South Asia. It would make sense that Indra, a masculine thunder god, is Aryan but Lingala worship is an indigenous feature.

The model we would be looking at is Mother Goddess worshipping AASI with naturistic pagan beliefs being coopted by Dravidian farmers. It would be a classic case of farmers and hunter gatherers coexisting in the same spaces; most of the farmer culture and genes winning out over the generations. Then come the Aryans with their migration/invasion but progressively Sanskritise the rest of South Asia with a much more masculine pantheon.

A question comes to mind that if Malaysia/Indonesia had a strong and resilient Brahmin network, would they have become Muslim? Had the spread of Buddhism undermined Brahminism as it seems to have done in the northern Punjab/Bengal peripheries of the Subcontinent.

Ps: Smart comments welcome (as in the Climate Change thread) – I’m simply speculating. I’ll delete anything overwrought; everyone featured in this post (except the Mauritians) are long gone.

127 thoughts on “Africa’s only Hindu island”

      1. It is the agreement signed by the sponsor and the indentured laborer specifying the conditions of employment. Agreement pronounced by the non-English as girmit. I remember reading about it in The Karma of Brown Folk [Vijay Prashad].

  1. Enjoyed this sketch of macro-cultural patterns. If we aren’t certain Dravidian is from neolithic farmers, or even if they were a subsequent incursion of farmers, could they have been pastoralists? The region of the central deccan where the south Indian neolithic has its greatest concentration of sites is also a place where sheep rearing is well adapted to the ecology and is symbolically sacred among the masses.
    I think there might be something to your thesis that the absence of brahmin-mediated hinduism correlated with a place being more likely to convert to Islam. A big exception would be Kashmir of course. A question I’d ask is, where would conversion result in social boycott? Caste is a social order enforced by boycott. If a group’s ritual status is lowered, they risk economic consequences. Without an ultimate arbiter of pollution in the form of brahmins, the coercive power diminishes. Perhaps in an environment of relaxed social proscription, groups can experiment with or adopt other cultural paradigms. (Muslims artisans and traders were safe from this boycott if they had extra-local partronage)

    1. Excellent counter-point on Kashmir. Maybe the locus of Indus Valley culture centres on Lahore-region and when that fell, so did the surrounding areas.

      I’m speculating and I run the risk of the “Mehran man” syndrome where I’m highlighting the “uniqueness” of the Indus Valley. Just showcasing my own biases.

      The heart of the South being the central Deccan is intriguing; we have the Vedic-Hindu heartland essentially ringed by uplands. It reminds me of Han China where I believe a similar dynamic emerges; the Chinese ultimately originate in the north but the locus of civilisation moves further south to the ultra-fertile regions. Again I don’t know enough..

    2. Hello girmit,

      Sorry if I’m intruding but this is the only topic that I have any confidence about- so I tend to prowl around searching for these types of topics 🙂

      As you mention, the Southern Neolithic is a strong candidate for the spread of Dravidian languages in south India. I used to be very favourable to the view also, but it appears I could be very wrong.

      The Southern Neolithic people are thought to have domesticated two pulses (mung bean and horsegram) and two millets (browntop millet and bristley foxtail millet) through a practice of shifting cultivation along with the zebu pastoralism and cultivation of other African millet crops. Of these four crops, the pulses are rather common fare all over India today (horsegram, mung dal) with both of them extensively used in south Indian cuisine or at least Karnataka-Telangana-Andhra cuisine. I read that the other two less known millets continue to hold ritual sacred significance to some caste in the southern Deccan whose name I can’t recollect right now. That it is not an agriculturalist caste like Okkaliga or Reddy or Kapu but some type of a non-agriculturalist, perhaps pastoralist caste is what I remember. It is interesting that the memory of the Southern Neolithic seems to be best retained in these types of castes and not the typical peasant castes of current south India.

      I used to brush aside these types of concerns and continue to consider that Dravidian languages may have been spread by all these types of folks- Kurumba, Reddy, etc. together, with Reddy, Kapu type people taking up large scale agriculture with irrigation and stuff later on as a result of cultural change on site in the Deccan, but the recent results of all these east coastal peasants like Panta Kapu, peasant elites of Karnataka like Gaud_Karnataka (Okkaligas of Karnataka?), Telangana’s Reddy, etc. seeming to be so damn surreally close to the Shahr-i Sokhta BA3 individual (58% Iran_N and 42% AASI) emerging out of one much recent large scale migration from the Indus or Indus-associated regions like Deccan Chalcolithic cultures of Maharashtra or Indus civilisation sites in Gujarat, are shocking me honestly. It’s as if they just got transplanted to south India from the Indus sphere and obtained some knowledge of local crops and of course, not mixing genetically with the locals, though the official position seems to be that a distinct population called “ASI” was indeed formed in the early 2nd millennium BC in south India. While most other castes of south India seem to be mixtures of SiSBA3 type population and AASI- the seeming genetic gulf between the peasant types and the others seems all so extremely surreal to me. The result of these developments is that the issue of the spread of Dravidian languages to south India got muddy again. Is it reasonable after all that the Dravidian languages are spread or realistically speaking, rather forced upon the local pastoralists and shifting cultivators by these Indus transplants from Gujarat or such place? This scenario is easy to imagine- some Dravidian migrations beginning from the problematic Indus sphere regions first happening into the Southern Neolithic beginning from about 2000 BC and later with Proto-Dravidian first splitting up around 1500 BC or so according to the late chronology (the term is mine), with of course, the speech of the migrators sticking on, as they all do everywhere eventually (after all, if the Indus can be made to shift language, what even is Southern Neolithic before the Indus). The opposite- that Reddy, Okkaliga, etc. lost their language just as their relatives evidently did in the Indus regions to Indo-Aryan, even in south India, and came to speak the established AASI Dravidian language of the Southern Neolithic, sounds extremely funny in a strange way and this fun does not arise because of a dismissive kind of thought, in addition to the point that it is perhaps not very probable (unfortunately lol).

      That’s why, I’m coming to believe that the Dravidian languages had a very late entry to south India at a time significantly later to 2000 BC and before 1500 BC or even nearby 1500 BC itself. There seems to be a significant possibility the pioneering languages of the Southern Neolithic may have been lost to us after all.

      But an important point to mention here is that my current thinking heavily rests on the interpretation of genetic data by some people on genetics forums that these peasant castes can be modelled as 80%+SiS BA3 (with this Indus migrant at Shahr-i- Sokhta, SiS BA3, still having 20% more Iran_N ancestry than AASI ancestry) and such things. I make it a point to stay suspicious of such things as I cannot personally verify them myself having no knowledge whatsoever about the topic, but I’m finding myself to be very tempted to uncontrollably shake up the proportions of my personal Dravidian language speculations, shocked, and such kind of things all at the same time, looking at the surreality.

      1. historumsi,

        Glad to see your comment. There’s a lot to take in. A brief speculation on some of the possibilities you bring up, should we assume that the original dravidian speakers were significant demographically? Something about language dominance and displacement seems to be that it often operates virally and we might be simultaneously underestimating the sheer number of language isolates up to the late bronze age and the power of a language to adopt speakers. Another distinction I wanted to point out is that the zebu pastoralists and sheep pastoralists may have been different people. The zebu people may have been linked to shifting millet and pulse cultivation (what type of plough are the SI neolithic speculated to have used?), whereas the sheep people likely grazed the elevated lands and lived by economic exchange with the alluvial cultivators. Water buffalo + rice people may have also been later entries into the penninsular milieu. What you mentioned about certain non-cultivator jatis holding certain crops sacred is interesting in light of the south Indian clan totem system. Most non-brahmin ethnic groups don’t really have gotras in the vedic/sanskritic sense of the rishis, but rather based on plants or animals. It would be an interesting field of research from which one could draw larger inferences, if a large catalogue of these clan totems were recorded and referenced geographically and to occupational castes. Another point on the deep ethnic layering of the deccan is to note that popular religion is a discernible amalgamation of older cults, that maintain their distinction. There is bull worship and its attendant customs, then there is worship of different versions of a shepherd-king in mailarlinga-khandoba, and then there is the durga-devi tradition with its buffalo-demon myth. I feel these (and others like murugan) are all sufficiently distinct and potentially linked to diverse historical cultures that later came into conflict and fused.

        1. Hello girmit,

          You make very excellent suggestions. Sometimes I wonder if this field is really so under-researched or if it is just that information about it is not widespread in popular culture. Regarding what are called gotras of non-Brahmins, what you say is intriguing- could you provide some examples you have in mind as I can’t seem to find an easy useful list by googling? In the case of Telugu people, patterns based on plant names and animal names (along with other kinds of patterns) tend to be visible more in our “surnames” or more appropriately “paternal clan-names” or “house-names” after the original iNTipEru, literally ‘name of house’, which we carry as part of our names. I never thought if the gotras show such patterns too- but I did notice that they tend to be pure Telugu or mixed Telugu-Sanskrit (both grammatical and ungrammatical) as opposed to being pure Sanskrit in the case of non-Brahmins. In many cases to me, their meanings (the ones which I tried to look into) seemed very unclear. In any case, your point about extensive documentation and research along these lines being bound to lead us somewhere more useful, is very correct, I believe.

          Your comments about the possibly indeed discernibly diverse south Indian religious cults are very instructive too.

          I earlier read some sections of this book titled “Criminal Gods and Demon Devotees: Essays on the Guardians of Popular Hinduism” by Alf Hiltebeitel to the extent available on Google Books. The Mailara-Khandoba (apparently also includes the Telugu form Mallanna in Telangana and perhaps even the Mallikarjuna of Srisailam) really seems to me to be a native Deccan deity on the first glance and not imported from anywhere else- in which ever cultural or linguistic traditions (living or lost), his origins may lie. He or his now-lost conceptual cognates may even have served as the inspiration for the Sanskrit Puranic Bhairava, assuming this possibility to be more likely than the other way around.

          And of course the buffalo and the buffalo-demon slayer cult also appears very distinctive- and this is one tradition which Asko Parpola takes back to the Indus, where the buffalo was evidently first domesticated (and apparently had some cultic significance going by some kind of Indus seals or something-I’m not sure about it though) and indeed appears to have either arrived in the peninsula considerably later than the zebus, sheep and cattle, or it was not very important in the early stages. It is also interesting that this is the most Sanskritised and mainstream Puranic compared to Mailara and perhaps other Mother Goddess deities known in south India. So this particular tradition may even have proper post-Indo-Aryanisation Sanskrit origins but there seem to be indications that this may be present from an older stage also- Asko Parpola brings up the Poturaju, ‘Male-Animal (can be male buffalo) King’, apparently the single youngest brother of all the Mother Goddesses and who features very much in the religious traditions of Telangana like Bonalu.

          The origins of Nandi I don’t have any idea about but it seems possible that any introduction as opposed to native development of this concept may have appealed more to some types of bull- and cow-associated communities than others as you perhaps suggest.

          Murukan is very intriguing- he is deemed “the favoured god of Tamils” who more often than not appear to us to be kinda anti-mainstream-Hinduism or such stuff and thus suggesting Murukan may have pristine Tamil origins but at least the linguistic evidence suggests this to be not the case. The word murukan is a direct translation of the Sanskrit word kumAra and this explanation makes sense to me because no other Dravidian language (not even Kannada which is the second of the most dominant Dravidian-speaking ethnicities) has a formal cognate of the word murukan with the meaning ‘Kumara’, ‘Subrahmanya’. Did every other Dravidian language really lose the word for Murukan? Or could they have all had a common cognate word but lost it and later encountered it again by Sanskritic introduction? I will continue to believe for the moment that Murukan/Kumara is a north Indian introduction to Tamil (and south Indian) society but this is really intriguing because apparently Tamil tradition on the first glance seems quite distinctive and thus perhaps really original with the associated rooster imagery in addition to the more commonplace peacock imagery and things like that. And the fowl itself goes back to the Indus where it was cultivated and perhaps even had some cultic significance, with its introduction to the pre-historic peninsula quite late, in its late neolithic stage, as per archaeology (some also say the nurturing mothers of Kumara, the six Krittikas, may have referred to the six rivers of the Indus, in addition to the more well-known Pleiades association). Perhaps existing or future research will clear up the clouds about the origins of the rooster imagery in Tamil traditions about Kumara.

          I put forward all the thoughts that I personally happen to have, about these various deities. I tend to completely agree with your assessment that these deities were associated with diverse and distinct cultures (migrating at various time periods and) coexisting within south India and indeed perhaps India, with fusion and incorporation into the broad religious umbrellas like Shaivism taking place later.

          Then, there is some minor thing that I want to suggest- it may not be the case as it appears to me that the water buffalo and rice are intimately linked in south Indian tradition, at least originally, going by the archaeology which indicates that domesticated buffalo were known to the people of Southern Neolithic likely considerably earlier (like later neolithic or neolithic-megalithic phase) than rice which first shows up beginning from 800 BC. But it is definitely possible that the rice people truly made the buffalo a big thing. Even I happen to belong to a rice people family and buffalo has always been the most important animal compared to the cattle for us historically. But this is just anecdotal.

          And also, we don’t really know if the sheep people and the cattle people were distinct from the get go, in south India, going by archaeology which is more informative in this regard. I checked the paper titled “Brahmagiri and Beyond: the Archaeology of the Southern Neolithic” by R. Korisettar et al. accessible in three parts at,, and From the earliest phases of the Southern Neolithic (2800 Bc onwards), domesticated sheep and goats occur together with zebu cattle in the same sites. All these three animals were likely majorly introduced from the northwest as they were ultimately domesticated in the Near East and northwest subcontinent, perhaps via Gujarat. The zebu dominates the record sharply and the ashmound tradition making use of cattle dung, the neolithic rock art featuring the zebus profusely, indicate that it the zebu was the most culturally important animal for the earliest neolithic people of the Deccan. I also happened to find in the paper, the following paragraph regarding the origins of the exclusive sheep(and goat?) herding in south India:

          “The issues relating to the antiquity of sheep/goat herding, and how this developed in southern India, whether through the immigration of pastoral groups or specialization within the existing (agro-)pastoral communities once these animals had been adopted (which they must have been since they are non-native) are to be understood clearly. One approach which has been taken to problem is through the compilation of oral traditions and myths of origin among modern pastoralists in parts of south India, especially by M.L.K. Murty (1985, 1993, 1994; Murty and Sontheimer 1980). These oral traditions record that sheep/goat pastoralism developed as an alternative amongst cattle-keeping groups. The relationship of these folk traditions to the actual cultural-historical situation remains to be established through empirical research.”
          (Murty, M.L.K. 1985 work is titled “Ethnoarchaeology of the Kurnool Caves Area, South India”
          Murty, M.L.K. 1993 work is titled “Ethnohistory of pastoralism: a Study of Kuruvas and Gollas”
          Murty, M.L.K. 1994 work is titled “Forest people and traditions in the Eastern Ghats, South India”
          Murty, M.L.K. and G.D. Sontheimer 1980 work is titled “Prehistoric Background to Pastoralism in the Southern Deccan in the Light of Oral Traditions and Cults of Some Pastoral Communities”)

          So indeed, the age-old question that if these were new people who brought exclusive-sheep/exclusive-cattle/exclusive-buffalo or sections of existing people who specialised as time passed is an important one and likely has both the types of answers on a case-by-case basis. But once the distinction between various occupational niches develops or get introduced, it is plausible that interactions of the kind that you suggest happen among the groups.

          And finally, your suggestion to attach increased importance to the possibility of high number of language isolates in the chalcolithic period is highly attractive to me personally. But linguists (which I’m one- an armchair and an extremely amateur one) are a different thing. They (we) try so extremely hard to explain things in terms of only the existing languages, and don’t very much like the signs of unknown substrata very much, emphasis being on the “unknown” part of it. It is very understandable though, or so I think. But still your point is very important I believe at this particular juncture which is characterised by widespread associations of linguistic groups like Dravidian (which is a very young linguistic group at that) with very old genetic clusters like Iran_N or AASI. In my view, both “Iran_N” and “AASI” languages and their descendant may have been considerably more diverse than just the Dravidian or XYZ or whatever.

          And I forgot about your query about the plough. As far as I’m aware, the question of presence/absence of ploughing in the Southern Neolithic is not resolved. There are apparently some indications in favour of its use- the cattle remains seem to have some indications of being used for ploughing or something like that- but it may not have been present too. (They may have used digging sticks or things like that for cultivation perhaps?) The plough itself apparently showed up quite late even in the Indus, in 2500 BC and later, and I believe it’s increasing seen in south India from the Iron Age. Linguistic data again suggest very intriguing pictures- Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Munda share a word for ‘plough’ and it is either Munda in etymological origin ((as in going back to Proto-Austroasiatic) or all the three borrowed from some now-lost language. There are seemingly other words for ‘plough’ in all these three languages though. Anyway, I don’t know much about the detailed plough science and taxonomy, archaeology and linguistics also.

          1. I found out that early CE Kumara/Subrahmanya depictions in north India in places like Mathura and Gandhara, feature rooster imagery ( So the Tamil depictions are not so distinctive after all as I erroneously thought- I will continue to believe somewhat more confidently, at least for the time being, that the deity was originally introduced to south Indian society from north India, during the Aryanisation, wherever and whenever his ultimate origins may lie within north India (the Indus being a strong possibility as suggested by all these people).

    3. The problem with this hypothesis is that we have the far simpler explanation of Brahmins simply moving away as they lost the patronage of the local ruling classes, who either converted to Islam or were replaced by Central Asian Turkic families.

      I think the variable that explains persistence of Hindu traditions is the strength of the Bhakti movement. Where the Bhakti movement was strong (Eastern India, Assam, UP, Maharashtra, South, upper Punjab in the form of Sikhism), conversion to Islam was less prominent. This would explain Kashmir well, both in terms of conversion to Islam, and the fact that the Hinduism of Kashmiri Hindus seems quite a bit different from the rest of India.

      1. Kashmir was always much more organically linked to Central Asia than to the “rest of India”. The Pir Panjal range pretty much blocked off the Valley from the plains of Jammu.

        On the Bhakti movement, Bhagat Kabir himself was a Muslim. The name comes from the Holy Quran. The fact that he calls god “Ram” and not Allah seems to suggest that he came from a convert family that had not yet encountered official Islam. But he was very clear that “Ram” was the only God and was not Sri Ram of the Ramayana. Anyway, he was a cool guy and gave both the Pundits and the Mullahs what for.

        1. Kashmir was always much more organically linked to Central Asia than to the “rest of India”. The Pir Panjal range pretty much blocked off the Valley from the plains of Jammu.

          this is what kashmiris say. and there are some cultural features to suggest this. and obv. geography.

          but genetically kashmiris are basically south asian if jatts or punjabis are south asian. more so than pashtuns.

          1. Who is disputing that Kashmiris are South Asian? My only contention is that South Asian doesn’t necessarily mean “Indian”, which is a whole political question.

            Kashmir was part of the Silk Road and Ladakh was linked to Tibet. I don’t think Kashmir was ever really linked to Delhi until Akbar annexed it. Even later, their cultural links were more with Rawalpindi and Sialkot. The “Mughal Road” which was blocked off by Partition is the one that goes from Rawalpindi to Srinagar.

          2. And what the Kashmiris say is heavily influenced by their recent Islamic history. One does not need to go very far. Since you have been recently reading Alberuni’s account of India, you may refer to the section where Alberuni deals with India’s geography. In it (or perhaps in some other chapter) he also describes the kingdom of Kashmir. By the way he describes it, it would become quite clear that Kashmir was essentially Indian and had little to do with Central Asia.

            Even today, it is the two South Asian nations, India and Pakistan, who are fighting for Kashmir. Does any Central Asian nation even bother about Kashmir ?

            Ancient geographers such as Ptomely have also considered Kashmir as wholly Indian. It is also worth noting that politically whenever Kashmir’s boundaries extended beyond the valley historically, it was almost always towards other regions of South Asia towards its South, most notably towards Punjab. Interestingly enough during the period for which Ptolemy had info on India, he describes the political boundary of Kashmir as extending further South even beyond Mathura in UP.

            It is true, that since Kashmir was one of the northernmost regions of South Asia, being very close to Central Asia, it would have had, in comparison to more Southern regions, greater interactions with Central Asia. In Pre-Islamic period, Kashmir was a powerful political entity for many centuries and influenced several regions of Central Asia such as Tokharistan (Bactria), the oasis kingdoms of Tarim Basin such as Khotan, Kucha, etc and perhaps to a more limited extent Sogdia. During Lalitaditya’s rule in the early 8th century, there is archaeological evidence of Kashmiri influence even in Kirgyzstan.

            With the start of Islamic rule, the direction of influence reversed and so some Central Asian cultural or economic practices may have seeped into Kashmir. But it does not make Kashmir more Central Asian than South Asian.

          3. But if I remember my geography right Kashmir’s natural trading link has been down the river to Lahore and Punjab.

            I recall an excerpt in newly Independent India when Nehru was delaying on building a highway into Kashmir via Himachal; the Kashmiri traders threatened to resume trading links to Lahore.

            The Kashmir Punjabi population (aka Kabir’s population) is definitely a thing and strangely enough they are an elite “caste.”

            Ayesha Jalal – Salman Rushdie – Mishal Hussain; for instance all these relatively illustrious people are KP’s and distantly related to one another.

            I know Faiz had Kashmiri links and so did Salman Taseer (deceased governor of the Punjab). Essentially I don’t see those overwhelming links to Krygyzstan or even Afghanistan as I see into the Punjab/Lahore.

          4. Zack,
            I would say Afghanistan is on the border between South Asia and West Asia. Of course, Afghanistan is part of SAARC so it is technically “South Asia”. It is “South Asia” according to some definitions and not according to others.

  2. @Zach. “As an aside it would be interesting to study the evolution of Hindu island diaspora culture around the world (Suriname, Guiana, Fiji, Mauritius etc).”

    Many of the Indian descendants present in south-east Asian islands (Malaysia and Ind0nesia) could be part of the labor force brought to work in the plantations by Dutch in the 17th century. Local legends around the city of Madras bear witness to this. This was before the British entered the scene. This is a different wave of migration than in the distant past when kingdoms were established overseas by Kings from south India.

    1. Just as Yemen seeded so much of Indonesian Islam (maybe Malaysia); most likely Tamil Nadu played a similar role.

      It would be interesting to see the tone and colour of Hindu culture in Indonesia/Malaysia was it very similar to the Tamil variety (is there a Tamil variety). So it would have been two orders away from the heartland since it was via the South.

      In Hinduism’s most besieged hour (1000 AD-1750) could be seen as the retreat to the UP heartland. Even though UP and Bihar are poor populated places and their Brahmins aren’t nearly as influential in the revival of Hinduism (Punjab Brahmis Arya Samaj, Bengali Brahmins Brahmo Samaj, Marathi Brahmis RSS, TamBrams being more scientific etc) but they provide the orthodox core of Hinduism.

      I am also going to posit that the level of Westernisation among Upper Castes in the Hindu heartland drops off dramatically in the heartland vis a vis the peripheral cities (Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkatta and Delhi).

      Also interesting that despite the UP population of Delhi (and UP location) Delhi is perceived as a Hindu Punjabi city (the Partition refugees), a surrogate for the lost Lahore.

      1. “Even though UP and Bihar are poor populated places and their Brahmins aren’t nearly as influential in the revival of Hinduism but they provide the orthodox core of Hinduism.”

        I think you are basically positing UP-Bihar as some sort of Hindu core area, but this is not how the vast majority of Hindus see things. In my own experience, Tamil Brahmins tend to be the most respected, this is probably a combination of their caste status and professional achievement.

        UP Brahmins dont really have a positive image in India. A young Bollywood actor, even changed his last name from ‘Tiwari’ to ‘Aryan’ to shake off the negative image UP Brahmins have in India.

        1. Ironically, the UP (plus Delhi) was really the Indo-Islamic heartland, which we lost forever to Partition. That is where all of Pakistan’s high culture comes from. In my own family, we constantly hear about Agra, Lucknow and Delhi. On the Punjabi side, we hear about Amritsar.

          I think Zack thinks UP is the Hindu heartland because Kashi and Mathura are there (as is Ayodha). This may be a controversial statement but it seems to me that Hinduism as it is currently being practiced (or how the Hindutva movement would like it to be practiced) is very much a North Indian religion. The South seems much less problematic. But I could be totally wrong.

        2. “In my own experience, Tamil Brahmins tend to be the most respected, this is probably a combination of their caste status and professional achievement.”

          Agree. TamBrahms are definitely over-represented in the white collar trades. This probably has much to do with the fact that Tamil Brahmins (along with Bengali Brahmins) were the first to get exposed to English education by the British. I’ve also been told that Tamil Brahmins have maintained the best knowledge and pronounciation of Sanskrit scriptures.

          Distance from the chaos of Islamic rule in the North also allowed south Indian Hinduism to survive unmolested. How many major temples in the North are older than a few centuries? (Non-rhetorical question). The ghoonghat/purdah system in the North is also nowhere to be seen in the south.

          1. Just as a admin note let’s try and avoid loaded statements “chaos of Islamic rule / South Indian Hinduism unmolested” etc.

            I’m letting the comments stand but when we touch on sensitive topics let’s qualify and academify these points.

            For instance if we are talking about the “chaos of Muslim rule” it would instead be better to be a bit more neutral (this many temples were destroyed, this many priests were massacred) from verified neutral sources.

            I apologise if I seem heavy handed but I want to up the level of qualitative debates, which is I’m taking special care in clarifying whatever I mean..

            So if I’m caught out as well; I’m happy to clarify and rephrase remarks on sensitive issue. Please note I’m not touching on opinions but instead asking for nuance and context (where possible).

          2. To Zack – fair play, didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers. I didn’t mean chaos in a derogatory manner – chaos often leads to churn and progress as old elements are purged and new ones take their place. The ‘chaotic’ middle ages saw North India get plugged into the larger economic system of Asia via the Turkic rulers.
            Reg the temple comment, I would be happy to be disproved or informed, I thought it might be of relevance to the discussion. But happy to back down, I don’t want to start a fire

          3. Oh no it’s fine – I’m sure there was temple destruction; it would be fascinating to explore that topic in a systematic manner

          4. Please let’s not! It’s such a jaded and over-explored topic, pointless fire starter!

            I’d love to discuss the desi diaspora in the UK – about how places like Leicester (Gujju), Birmingham (Punjabi) and Tooting (SL Tamil) manage to maintain such a high level of native culture over so many generations, completely hidden away from the attention of the rest of the country. Islands within an island!

        3. I don’t think it’s about public perception etc but that UP/Bihar preserve a cultural matrix by virtue of their huge populations and relative isolation. I imagine Brahmin TFRs in UP-Bihar are the highest of any Brahmin pop in India.

          The same analogue is seen in the Indo-Islamic cultural region etc.

        4. Vikram

          I think you have been misled. For vast majority UP is the core hindu area , at least more than other parts of India. There is a reason why you might find mentions of UP cities in hindu writings like Ayodhya, Benaras, Mathura etc and not vice versa(not talking about colloquial hindu writings, but major hindu writings) . As i said before Hinduism is (mostly) a N-Indian religion. UP brahmins might not have a positive image though, cant say for sure.

          “Growing up in a mildly conservative but excessively religious Hindu household, Varanasi featured heavily in the mythological tales that I heard from assorted elderly guests and the one surviving grandmother. ”

          The day the reverse happens to a Tiwary family about some place in South /East India i would change my view.

          1. Very good point on Ayodhya; it is in UP.

            Hinduism’s central sites are the Ganges and Gangetic cities; sort of like Mecca.

            Thirupathi is in Andhra; odds on he’s a Dravidian god. The big Shiva temple is in Kashmir (I’m pretty certain snake cults precede the Aryans)..

          2. @Zach, “Thirupathi is in Andhra; odds on he’s a Dravidian god.”

            As always Zach is correct to guess about Thirupati. The deity’s local name is Venkanna and was a shepherd. He had a Muslim wife. Then the Sanskritization starts. He was given Lakshmi devi/Padmavati as a consort to stand on the other side along with bibi Nanchari, the Muslim. He is given the name Balaji and considered an incarnation of Vishnu. There is more but we will go in phases.

          3. I remember his wife lives in a temple in Kolhapur ..

            Yes also Sai Baba’s origins may have something to do with being Muslim and he was, by memory, a Southerner?

          4. Hello Zack Zavid,

            The ultimate origins of the Lord of Venkata are not clear but there are strong indications he was already construed as Vishnu much before the hill and temple came under the influence of Tamil-speaking Vaishnavites appearing to predominantly adhere to the Pancharatra Agama in the early 2nd millennium AD. The 3rd century AD Tamil epic Cilappatikaram written by a Buddhist prince of Kerala has a character who makes a pilgrimage to Tiruvenkatam to have sight of the Vishnu present there. I so far know of no arguments by any scholars that the concerned verses of Cilappatikaram may have been later day interpolations.

            That said, it is quite possible that people of different religions may have had a tradition of viewing the deity at Tirumala according to their personal wishes- Buddhists as Avalokiteshwara, Vaishnavas as Vishnu, Shaivas as Shiva, etc. I really don’t know if the deity has Dravidian origins- so far all the proposals I know talk of Avalokiteshwara, Vishnu and such kind of Indo-Aryan deities only. I also don’t know when the temple was built and what kinds of ritual traditions (whether Vaishnava or Bauddha, etc. but it is perhaps important to note that the priests at Tirumala do not belong to the Pancharatra school popularised by Ramanuja apparently but another Vaishnavite Agama school called Vaikhanasa) were followed in the premises of the deity before the temple was built, etc. The name Venkatam itself may have Tamil etymological origins if my personal etymologisation of it as ‘extensive forest’ from vEn, ‘extensive’ and kaTam, ‘forest’ is any correct. But it does not have any religious associations and just a geographical reference- the Venkatam hills have also been traditionally considered the northern boundary of the Tamil country. The deity high up on these hills was made by whom to worship whom in the primordial, we don’t know.

          5. hoipolloi

            Was the Sanskritization of Tirupati that late(after the arrival of islam that too in Andhra)? I have my reservation, but will go with that.

          6. Saurav, the river Ganga is important. But there are plenty of Hindu stories based elsewhere in India. In fact, none of the four most important pilgrimage centres for Hindus (Rameshwaram, Puri, Dwarka and Badrinath) are in UP.

            To reverse quote Jonardan Ganeri, what has no periphery can have no centre.

          7. The pilgrimage places are not pre aryan, but some deities are.

            The way i see the post Shankracharya period (8th century AD) and the Bhakti movement (Kabir, Tukaram etc) is the analogous to Iranian adaption of Islam, where the founding practices had already been codified and people of non core regions trying to add / modify the religion.

  3. I don’t know if there is any basis to believe that the Indo-Aryans and such folks, owing their origins to the more humble and sober regions of the earth like the Eurasian steppes, had some type of more sober belief systems compared to their counterparts in places like India (the Indus region itself is quite desert-like but still), but I’m wont to speculate about it anyway. I did so earlier as well, not on any public forum like this, but wondered internally.

    Firstly, there is a possibility that human sacrifice as a practice existed in the Indus civilisation, going by a possible interpretation of some Indus seal. The Old Tamil literature shows strong evidence that gory human-sacrifice-like practices existed in Old Tamil society when it was not very Indo-Aryanised. Some scheduled tribe groups of eastern India like the Khonds till very recently had the famous Meriah human sacrifice practices. Some weird sub-mainstream Telugu movies of the 1980s and 90s and possibly some Kannada movies as well, showcase themes of first-born children being “promised” to the Dravidian Mother Goddesses and building the drama around it. On the other hand, the Indo-Aryans might have invariably set free the “victim” of their human sacrifice whenever they attempted one, which might have been rare or outright non-existent (and there is a possibility “Purushamedha”-like concepts got into Indo-Aryan society from the pre-Indo-Aryan folks). Some Indologists believe that the Indo-Aryans were very opposed to gory (at least blood) sacrifices from the get go.

    And then, there is this idea (don’t know if it’s a thing in Indology as a hypothesis anywhere) that I read earlier (why don’t I get all these wonderful trippy ideas, I always wonder and feel sad about my low intelligence lol) that the Vanaras of the Ramayana portrayed as wandering in central India and the Deccan with tails and all, and commonly believed to be referring to literal speaking-monkeys using the common fantastical-historical interpretation of the contents of the Ramayana (with the historical part being that the Indo-Aryans commemorated their successful migrations to Lanka), may actually have been a reference to the unbridled sexuality (at least as perceived by the Indo-Aryans perhaps) and such things of the hmans inhabiting those regions. Needless to mention that I don’t mean to offend anyone here of course- the ancient Indo-Aryans, the ancient Dravidians, the ancient Mundas, the ancient Vanarasena, everyone. Sorry to representatives of all the above groups if any is taken from heaven, and perhaps a time machine. I just thought it may be interesting to note that in this comment on this thread, that’s all. I personally separate my current personal religious interpretation of the Ramayana and any and all hypotheses about what its contents may have originally meant to its original composers- I’m very good at compartmentalisation that way as an Indian lol- and I also personally deem my personal religiously-inclined interpretation to be superior because in my view, the life of the Ramayana did not end after its composition ended and it acquired the most significant chunks of its own history after its original composition became complete. Any and all understandings about the contemporary social practices of various tribes, and deep insightful details about many events of the Ramayana are not earth-shattering to me personally, even if very interesting. I don’t expect everyone else to have similar thoughts and approaches as mine and thus I’m perfectly okay with moderators deleting the contents of this part of my comment if they are deemed problematic.

    1. I feel BP has to get much more content on Dravidian/AASI culture; South Asia seems to be a War of the Aryans type of place, between two different shades of Saffron.

      1. Lol I believe the opposite- I think the Iran_N, AASI, Iran_N+AASI type cultures, assuming suspended versions of them at various points in prehistory, are obviously not something to look forward to, at this point in time. It is the Indo-Aryan culture that more or less completely defines India (I can’t believe I said that- I’m not even a Hindutvavadi lol) and this Indo-Aryan (and increasingly pan-Indian) culture has been quite dynamic and one of the major world cultures at all points in history as opposed to Dravidian, Munda or other subcultures. Needless to say that we don’t actually know so much about the prehistoric cultures of these latter linguistic groups. About war I don’t know but I believe the Iran_N and AASI people also might have had their own wars.

        Also, forgive my stupidity but I did not quite catch what these precise two shades of saffron are. I typically think of a north Indian type of Hinduism (somewhere in north India- precise details I don’t have in mind lol) when I think of that colour but have knowledge of only one shade. So I request you to let me know what the second shade is.

        1. Lol sorry, what I meant in the first paragraph is “…are obviously not something to look upto…” not “…are obviously not something to look forward to”. Also, when I said “increasingly pan-Indian”, I did not mean that the Indo-Aryan culture is only now getting increasingly pan-Indian; I meant that at all points of history, Indo-Aryan culture has been steadily spreading throughout various parts of India and making it increasingly pan-Indian. The beginning of the adoption of the original Indo-Aryan culture by one of the dominant linguistic groups of the subcontinent which is the Dravidian, in the 1st millennium BC, made it near-invincible as far as all major parts of India are concerned at least.

          1. Was Agastya or Agastyar the person to linked Tamilian civilization with Sanskrit civilization? If so Agastya was born before Rama. This would imply an older link between Tamil and Sanskrit.

            Agastyar appears to be older than Tirumular–who himself was a contemporary and guru brother of Patanjali. [Patanjali’s and Tirumalar’s guru was Nandi the bull.]

          2. Hello AnAn,

            I’m not very knowledgeable about the Agastya question. But one possibility is that there were several Agastya personalities in history, beginning from the one who is one of the Seven Sages or the earliest Rishi thought as contributing hymns to the Rig Veda to any pioneering Indo-Aryan sage who interacted with the Tamil people and probably began to document their language. The Indo-Aryanisation of south India is typically dated to begin from the early or mid 1st millennium BC. The composition of the Ramayana itself seems to be dated as beginning from 3rd century BC or so (I don’t know exactly), though the contents of the Ramayana may have been based on the collections of oral traditions themselves based on actual historical events, if they happened that is, from 1000 BC or so onwards in central India, to the migrations to Lanka around 6th-5th centuries BC and later. But I have to say that I’m not very much knowledgeable with the philology of the Ramayana also.

            I’m not knowledgeable to any significant degree about Tamil Shaivism (or Tamil philology and Tamil religion in general except some superficial stuff like tinai, Murukan, Mal, Ventan, Korravai, Kannaki, Kovalan, Kampar, Azhwars, Nayanmars- just literally only those things I’m aware of and just aware of them, don’t know much about them in detail) either- but (all important) Agastya(s) is (are) likely much more ancient than Tirumular who seems to be typically dated to 8th century AD or later, going by the wikipedia page about him, based on the style of language used in his writings. I don’t know about his association with Patanjali who is typically dated sometime in the early CE either, but if there is any merit to it, then perhaps Tirumular of the 8th century may have belonged to a school connected to Patanjali. But I have to stress that I don’t know very much though.

        2. Yes the war of the Aryans – the Muslim invaders espoused a different type of Aryan culture (Iranian).

          It really is shocking to think that the Turkic empires were busy patronising Persian instead of Turkish or Arabic; as Razib noted the Persian language owes a debt to Ghaznavi for his patronage of Fedowsi..

          Remember Persians love Saffron too; its used in so much of their cooking. Even though it was an Arab religion and Turkish soldiers; ultimately Persian culture is what bloomed in the medieval-Muslim period..

          1. Oh okay, I see now. Thank you very much! I never knew that the saffron colour is important for the Persian people as well.

    2. historumsi ,
      Sounds revisionist to say ” here is a possibility “Purushamedha”-like concepts got into Indo-Aryan society from the pre-Indo-Aryan folks”

      Isnt Asvamedha Puja (dont recall Purushamedha Pooja) from the Rig Veda. Just the fact of a horse being part of Asvamedha Pooja implies it cannot be from pre Aryan society.

      That said dont deny that human sacrifice was part of pre Buddhist culture that continued to around the 1960’s. I recall stories of workers being thrown (murdered) into rivers when bridges were built across rivers. It was called “bali denava”. Basic theory being, if you dont give the god of the river a gift for building a bridge across his territory, the god will take multiples of lives.

      1. Hello sbarrkum,

        I really have a bit of a gap of knowledge there about the ultimate origins of Ashwamedha- whether steppic or Indus. The animal is obviously from the steppe but the idea of animal sacrifice may have been possibly from the Indus (or BMAC?)? I also don’t know if Indologists think an actual horse was ever physically sacrificed in the Vedic period. Also this one is an animal sacrifice, and isn’t it really far more mellow compared to the concept of and execution of a human sacrifice? And about the origins of this “Purushamedha” as it pertains to the Vedic traditions, there are two views that I know: one is what I mentioned above- that it may have been borrowed as a concept from pre-Indo-Aryan societies reluctantly and subsequently never actually realised, except ritually, with the “victims” always set free after tied to the stake for a while. Another view is that the entire ritual was just a “priestly fantasy” and no parts of it ever materialised anywhere really.

        I may be really somewhat biased towards the poor ancient Indo-Aryans who seem to suffer the neverending cycles of abuse by all modern people but I was not being revisionist there lol. If anything, my view is that all ancient cultures have to be bashed equally (or near-equally)- everyone including the Indo-Aryans, Dravidians, Mundas, Iran_N, AASI, Steppe people, etc. etc. lol.

      2. sbarrkum, when did horses arrive in Arya Varsha or Bharat Varsha?

        Yes, many have noted that Asvamedha yajna requires a horse. The Ramayana also extensively mentions horses. Which dates the Ramayana to a time when horses were widely available.

        Why do you say pro Buddhist? There is no clear demarcation between Hindu and Buddhist. Rather many co-existing intermingling streams. Many of the greatest saints meditated for long periods of time in Sri Lanka (as in Ceylon.)

        Have you read the entire Mahavamsa? I wish to read it; but have so many other books to read. Mahavamsha is one of the greatest classics of Arya Varsha or South Asia.

  4. the chams in vietnam are still hindu. and the hindu-substrate of mainland SE asian society persists; the thai kings have court brahmins. the kings of cambodia were definitely hindu before converting to buddhism.

  5. What is interest is that all the Hindu islands sans Brahmins seem to become very relaxed creole island cultures that resemble Sri Lanka. All of sudden the pulsating sensuality and tropical sexuality that is so repressed in North India/Pakistan emerges and the hidden matriarchy also peaks through.

    Zack, I agree with the “creole culture” comment re SL. Unless you want to get into a war of words with most (old gen) avoid it, but gently introduce it to your generation and it would be acceptable.

    Then again what is a DNA definition of a Brahmin. Isnt it a “creole” of whatever Aryan and the local jungle bunny. This comment is intended with a war of words.

    1. Before anyone gets there knickers in a twist re Jungle Bunny

      Thats what my US/Irish/German Significant Other (SO) calls me. One time she told my classmates and wives, if he gets drunk he will sleep (not the exact word) with a monkey.

      The SO (sometimes I wonder about that one letter B) is due here in end July for two months. There is a jungle bunny next door, the complete opposite in color. Thats about the only difference, same height (much taller than me), they both are lavish spenders, eat (the US one drinks), handouts to all and sundry, debt what is that?.

      The US SO has seen her the last time she was here for two weeks. Women are not stupid. I suspect this time they are going to join forces.

      Hopefully, I will be alive in Sept. Life is good, it is all a play.

  6. Kashmir was always much more organically linked to Central Asia than to the “rest of India”.

    genetically this is false. this is what i am responding to.

    please don’t go full bent wig on me 😉

    1. No comment on genetics as I am not a scientist.

      But what is “Indian” is a Social Science question (i.e. a political question). Kashmiri Muslims don’t feel “Indian” and that is why Delhi requires enormous military force in the Valley. Sorry, but that is one situation in which genetics is basically completely irrelevant. I don’t know what Delhi needs to do to get them (us) to feel “Indian” but clearly President’s Rule and military force is not going to work.

        1. Wow, your cursing again shows your lack of class.

          And of course we are back to the “Kashmir issue”. Kashmiri Muslims are dying every day. And you think genetics trumps the human rights violations or has any relevance whatsoever to the fact that KMs do not feel “Indian”? Sorry, but that is terribly misguided.

          1. You’re bloody insane.

            Learn to write in English before ever engaging with me again. I have no idea who “bent wig” is nor do I care.

            People who use foul language reveal their own lack of intellectual capacity. Les pauvres.

      1. That’s wasn’t the thrust of what I was talking about – I would treat Indus/India as one entity.

        I’m talking about the proper stans-

        There are no Turks of note in Kashmir.
        Kashmiri influences are substantially more Persianate (Kashmiri carpets, pink tea).

        When we mean contemporary or even late medieval (post Mongol) Central we need to account for substantial Turkic influence.

        I don’t see that in Kashmir; not any more than in the Punjab or even NWFP.

        I do agree there is a uniqueness to Kashmir (is Hyderabad on a higher elevation) but also geographically just because it’s cut-off from Jammu doesn’t necessarily connect it to Turkestan..

        1. well, kashmir has connections to east turkestan (xinjiang) of yore. before it was even turkistan!

          and kashmiris are wont to distinguish themselves from other south asians due to aspects of culture and geography (the climate of the vale is very distinct).

          but culturally and genetically their affinities are with south asia, not central asia. that’s a fact.

          (i don’t care about bent wig’s games about what is called “india”)

  7. Zack

    “A question comes to mind that if Malaysia/Indonesia had a strong and resilient Brahmin network, would they have become Muslim? Had the spread of Buddhism undermined Brahminism as it seems to have done in the northern Punjab/Bengal peripheries of the Subcontinent.”

    The more i think of it , i tend to agree on it. But i would add that even with a resilient Brahmin network(whatever that means) its not given that the area will not become muslim. The conditions you find it Java was also true of the Mahajanpit’s empire mainland (Java’s hindu nobility is from there) as well and they still became muslim. There are many variables in the equation.

    P.S You are correct on the whole UP-Bihar being the core Hindu thing though

    1. Why do you think so Saurav?

      In any case I like to call Malays and Indonesians Hindu muslims 🙂

      At least before KSA started radicalizing them in the 1920s.

  8. historumsi, I love to read about Siddha Siddhanta (18 Siddha tradition). Many Tamilians believe that their language and culture are far, far older. Many of the greatest living Sanskrit scholars in the world are also great Tamil scholars.

    Tamilians believe that their culture is far older than western indology is willing to concede might be the case. In fact when dates such as the one you mentioned are given, they find them completely incomprehensible. Part of the reason is that many Tamil Mathas have detailed written histories that go back five thousand or more years [3102 BC and 3228 BC to be precise] that are regarded as historical records.

    You are 100% right that Agastya has been born many times. The details of each of these births are recorded. In some ways it is similar to the way some Tibetan Llamas keep reincarnating. It is possible that the Tamil Agastyar (Agastya in Sanskrit) was the last.

    Tamilians (and Sanskrit people or Hindus in general) generally regard Tirumular and Patanjali as contemporaries. However, Tirumantiram might have been edited long after Tirumular composed it.

    Indologists could communicate far better with Sanskrit scholars if they would use similar terminology. There are many Arya Jatis, some from the far north (Chandra/Budha/Ila/Pururavas/Urvashi who visited Uttara Kuru), some from the far west, some from the South west. What Indologists call Dravidians are likely specific Arya Jatis. Although matching the DNA origins to specific Jatis mentioned is ancient texts is challenging.

    Many future articles on this are planned. For now:

    Not all the people in the ancient texts were Aryans though. Perhaps including the widely mentioned Tushara (Chinese or people who use to live in what is now called Xinjiang.) Another example could be Kalayavana, who might be an African contemporary of Krishna. [Krishna arranged for his death.]

    1. Sweetie, I don’t need meds. I’m perfectly fine. Vous n’ecritizez pas l’anglais et il est tres tres pathetique. Stick to the genetics, and leave the Social Science to your intellectual superiors. Loser.

      1. bent wig keeps on clucking 🙂

        you can’t do social science bro. you don’t know what a regression is!

        i’ve forgotten more history than you know, and have analyzed more data than has been fantasized in your fervid imagination.

        the fool hath said in his heart, “i am genius.” 🙂

        let us all bow down before the lord of lahore and genius of georgetown!

        1. Vous etes un imbicile. Moi, je parle le francais et l’Italien. Aussi le Urdu. Et vous?

          Seriously, I don’t have time for your BS anymore. You win if it makes you happy.

          You clearly lack an understanding of the Humanities, which I find extremely pathetic. Stick to your own field and speak only when spoken to. OK thanks.

          Come back to me when you can sing a Hindustani Khayal or an aria for lyric tenor. Until then, go back to your stupid science lab. Science is not the only thing in the world and some of us just don’t give a damn about it or about you.

    1. You deserve a title too “Mr Geneticist who doesn’t know a thing about fields which actually matter”. Total loser.

      You don’t understand the Human Condition and it seems you never will. Tres Tres Pathetique.

      Also, it’s sad that you casually make fun of mental health conditions. Really very classy. Pedigree always tells in the end, my dear.

      1. bent wig, i want you to get off the interwebs, and get some help, that is all.

        then you can truly come into your lordship and majesty, and write your magnum opus on Being and Genius.

        1. At least, I understand capitalization. Please go back to third grade and learn what you clearly failed to understand the first time. Don’t argue with Humanities people. We win every time. I can run intellectual circles around you sciency types in my sleep.

  9. understood.

    just a minor note: i enjoy having fun with you on these threads bent wig. but you probably shouldn’t comment on my posts. i think there is something deeply wrong with you mentally (yes, yes, i’m sure the feeling is mutual; i have a career and family that’s independent from my parents resources unlike some people, so i’m doing OK even if i’m beneath your dependent genius level).

    1. I have a name and I think you can use it.

      I have a career too, thanks very much. Unless you have some issues with people who are in the arts and are living the life of the mind. If my parents are willing and able to support my goals, I don’t see that that is any of your concern.

      I don’t care what you think about me. You’re not a trained psychologist and have no business diagnosing anyone. For the record, I think you are a jerk and a bully who thinks he’s much smarter than he actually is.

      I have no problem with not commenting on your posts since I so rarely find any of them even marginally interesting.

      1. I have no problem with not commenting on your posts since I so rarely find any of them even marginally interesting.

        a humanist with bad taste indeed.

        a liberal artist whose curiosity is strangely delimited and constrained.

        1. Bad taste is subjective. You don’t seem to be reading the great works of literary fiction or listening to the great works of Art Music–either Western or Hindustani. As far as I am concerned, you are a cultural philistine. You don’t know your Flaubert from your Proust, and I don’t have time for such people.

          You write about genetics. I find genetics incredibly dull. Like I really just do not care how much “Ancient South Indian” Gujrati Brahmins have. What possible impact does this have on the politics of the country currently called India?

          Perhaps if you were not such a jerk, one might give you the benefit of the doubt. But since you are so obnoxious (coming up with nicknames and telling people to “take their meds”, not to mention the cursing), it’s best to avoid you all together. You’re really not very smart and outside your narrow field, you’re actually kind of an idiot. Your behavior reflects your lack of social class. I just know if I ever used such foul language as you, I would have been severely reprimanded that “Sharif” people of good family do not behave in such a manner. Perhaps you are not from a “good family” and lack the pedigree of moneyed and educated individuals who would have taught you to behave like a decent human being.

          1. Perhaps you are not from a “good family” and lack the pedigree of moneyed and educated individuals who would have taught you to behave like a decent human being.

            true bhadrolok don’t talk incessantly about pedigree. but perhaps it’s different among the lords of lahore! the truest caste hindu you are on these message boards 🙂 a scion of the pagan kuffar of the quraysh whom your prophet turned against, bow down before your graven idols of your pride.

          2. Class and Education always tell in the end. Cursing and incivility is expected of those who haven’t been taught better. Those who do come from Sharif families have no excuse. Then, their behavior simply reflects on their own lack of decency.

            I can also curse with the best of them, but I choose to exercise restraint.

  10. look, kabir. the thing that convinces me you have a mental problem is that i take you at your word you have a high verbal IQ. but you seem to lack the ability to linearly follow factual discussions.

    e.g., you assert your ancestors were never hindus, they were from west/central asia. further discussion indicates that *part* of your family may have been from these regions, but the rest were probably hindu kashmiris (you may deny but i think everyone came to that conclusion).

    e.g., you assert that kashmir has everything to do with turan as opposed to india. but genetics and culture point to the obvious converse. your rxn is to bring up the political conflict in kashmir. either you are engaging in a rhetorical game…or just lost the thread. i think perhaps the latter.

    having a discussion with you is like going to alice-in-wonderland-world. everything is nonlinear and nonsequential. everyone experiences this. you get emotionally triggered constantly and take offense at everything.

    if pakistan is a failed-state you are a failed-intellectual (i’m trying to trigger you right now, can you control yourself????).

    nevertheless, i still laugh my ass off thinking about you as bent wig. something is not right in your head. we all know that. i think we don’t expect that you’ll be rational and just are getting laughs.

    take care of yourself. bro. 😉

      1. It’s more about two individuals not liking each other. Many of my music teachers were Bengali and I have great respect for the Bengali people in general. I just think Mr. Khan is not particularly smart. He has also been extremely obnoxious to me personally.

        I’m also not Punjabi, but Kashmiri-Punjabi.

        1. Also, both Mr. Khan and I happen to be Americans. I agree with him on one thing, which is that our ethnic origin is not really relevant to anything.

      2. 🙂
        Apparently they both hold American passports, but both are staying true to their native stereotypes. Just goes on to prove that you can take a person out of India (or South Asia in this case), but can’t take India out of the person.

        I find the Pakistani guy more amusing than the other. He is so charmingly old worldly Pakistani. Fantasies that his ancestry lies in Iran and Turan or wherever, even though it flies in the face of his genetic makeup. Loves his native pakistan, but always at pains to be deferential to the superior western culture. They dont make them like that any more.

        1. My ancestry is from Iran. That’s not a fantasy. My father has family trees that prove exactly when his ancestors left Iran for the Kashmir Valley (It wasn’t more than 200 years ago). That said, when you spend two centuries in British India, you basically become “Indian”. We are part of the Urdu-speaking Ashraf class.

          It is possible to love Pakistan and Urdu etc but still recognize that the West does certain things better (secularism, human rights, democracy). I don’t find that that creates too much cognitive dissonance, at least not in my case. I was raised in the US and many of my sensibilities reflect that.

    1. You are not a trained psychologist (unless you’ve been hiding your medical certifications) so frankly I don’t give a damn what you think my diagnosis is. I think you are somewhere on the autism spectrum, but that is neither here nor there. If I wanted psychological counseling, I would go to someone with a degree in the field, not to you.

      I am not your “bro” and I think I am now repeating that for the millionth time. Get it through your thick head. It’s a term which reflects a certain level of familiarity, which frankly you don’t deserve.

      My father’s family came to Kashmir from Iran but my mother told me the other day that her father’s family was always native to Kashmir and her grandfather may have converted to Islam (don’t know for sure). Anyway, all that matters to me is that we are Kashmiri Muslims.

      “India” is a political construct ( a rudimentary social science education would have taught you that all nations are political constructs) and if Kashmiri Muslims don’t want to be part of that political construct, no amount of arguments from genetics are going to convince them otherwise. Nations are not usually based on genetics, and a person of reasonable intelligence would not need to be told that.

      Tais-toi and go back to your science. You are not qualified to discuss anything else.

      1. As to taking offense at “everything”, I don’t really care about most of your bullshit but if you insult Pakistan or Islam, I have the right to call you out on your ignorance.

      2. “nations are not based on genetics”

        Even if they are not, they often help demolish foolish arguments based on fantasy (like the ones you make). If India is a political construct, what should we call Pakistan? An unnatural islamist construct? You are “polluting” bp in a certain sense, by loading all the comments threads with your paknationalist bs. You should go back and focus on preparing for your school entrance exams, and leave it to the experts here :).

  11. “Secular” Indian (not really secular but soft Hindutvadi):

    Pakistan is a political construct exactly as India is a political construct. All nations are political constructs. Read “Imagined Communities” if you still don’t understand this concept.

    There are certain ethnic groups that don’t want to be part of Pakistan just as Kashmiri Muslims (and Nagas and various others) don’t want to be part of India. The national government has to either come to a deal with them (on autonomy, devo max whatever) or let them go. Holding on to a territory through military force is not a sustainable answer. On Kashmir, there is a compromise which even the “mainstream” parties like NC and PDP have suggested, which is to go back to the pre-1950s status when Sheikh Abdullah was Prime Minister of Kashmir and Article 370 applied in full. India’s laws didn’t apply in Kashmir and the “center” was only in charge of defense and foreign policy. The less Kashmiri Muslims have to deal with Delhi or Delhi’s representatives, the happier they will be. That is if you can’t find it in your heart to grant them full Azaadi as was promised by your tallest national leader in front of the international community. At least put it to a vote. If the majority votes to stay with India, I will shut up about this forever.

    Divide Jammu from the Valley, make Ladakh a Union Territory (as the Ladakhis apparently want and BJP keeps promising) and give the Kashmir Valley and the Muslim parts of Jammu Division (Chenab Valley) autonomy. Problem solved and you don’t even have to concede any territory to Pakistan. Pakistan keeps AJK and G-B and everyone moves on with their lives.

    Also, I am perfectly happy not to discuss Pakistan on BP but when certain of your compatriots keep bringing up “Pakistani psychosis”, you should expect a Pakistani response.

    1. Why don’t you give freedom to Baluchistan and Sindhudesh before advising other countries ? Set a good example and India may learn something from Pakistan.

      1. Balochistan (you can’t even spell it) is a province of Pakistan and not internationally disputed territory (as the entire princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is–don’t take my word for it, ask the UN).

        “Sindhudesh” only exists in the minds of five people. Otherwise, Sindh is very much part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and it is not going anywhere.

        Pakistan never promised the Baloch a referendum. Your country’s tallest and best leader, Pandit Nehru, stood in front of the whole world and said that India would not hold Kashmir by force. That is the difference in the two situations and any reasonably intelligent human being would not need that explained to them.

      2. Balochistan is not an internationally disputed territory. It is a province of Pakistan.

        The “Sindhudesh” issue has been dead for a long time. Sindh is very much a province of Pakistan.

  12. “Divide Jammu from the Valley, make Ladakh a Union Territory (as the Ladakhis apparently want and BJP keeps promising) and give the Kashmir Valley and the Muslim parts of Jammu Division (Chenab Valley) autonomy. Problem solved and you don’t even have to concede any territory to Pakistan. Pakistan keeps AJK and G-B and everyone moves on with their lives.”


    Now what? Does anyone who has any power to make any dent into intractable Kashmir problem even bother to read these blogs? This is what amuses me about fearsome cyber warriors like the ones infesting this blog. They engage in flame wars with a such a passion as if they can change the destiny of the world by simply banging away on their laptops. In reality they are as inconsequential as flies.

    The fact is, world is shaped by doers, not arm chair intellectuals. Get off your lazy butts and do some real work.

    1. Obviously, we are not in a position to make Kashmir policy. For that, India and Pakistan have to talk and India has to cease treating a freedom movement as a “law and order issue”. There is a back-channel plan that both sides basically agreed to (though the Indian side denies it)–The Musharraf-Manmohan plan. This is probably the best deal that anyone can get, though Kashmiri Muslims who want a nation of their own aren’t necessarily going to be happy.

      I agree with you that all of us are pretty inconsequential. My problem is with the Indian nationalists and Hindutvadis (soft or otherwise) who simply refuse to go beyond “Kashmir is an integral part of India” and recognize that there is a political issue to resolve. Most of you deeply lack the social science skills to even look at this problem, as has been amply demonstrated.

      I agree the flame wars need to be controlled. Zack has also made this point. I should not let Mr. Khan bait me with his personal attacks.

      1. Kashmir will always remain an integral part of india. We will discontinue section 370 and populate kashmir with south Indians, biharis, delhites etc. Nobody can do anything. The world couldn’t do anything to puny Myanmar when it forced its muslims to flee. Pak nationalists, Islamists will continue to blabber and whine eternally without any result.

        1. Good luck to you. Don’t forget that on the other side of the LOC is a nuclear-armed Muslim Army. Pakistan isn’t Myanmar.

          1. As if we don’t. Pakistan is always welcome to try them. Just keep remembering previous wars and their outcomes.

          2. Nuclear weapons have changed everything. Try to mess with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Your earlier “surgical strikes” were a joke just as you are a joke.

  13. Bluff was called on this story of ‘Pandit Nehru, stood in front of the whole world and said that India would not hold Kashmir by force’.

    Nehru stood in front of no one and made any promises In any case, Nehru did not promise Pakistan anything.

    Baluchistan has a very real insurgency going on , Pakistani army has tried all military means to quell it including aerial bombardment, and it is far more serious, long lasting than Kashmir ever was. It is a real human rights catastrophe. The legal case of J&K accession is far more secure, clear cut and definitive than Balochistan’s place in Pakistan. Simple because Balochistan was not one of the Princely States for whom the Independence of India Act applied. It had direct treaty with the British Govt in Whitehall and had no Resident unlike other Princely States . The Khan of Kalat (Mir Ahmad Yar Khan) declared independence one day after Pakistan became independent. Ultimately, Pakistan annexed the Khanate by force

  14. “Are these pilgrimage place pre-Aryan?”

    I am not sure this really makes much sense as a question. Hindu culture and religion is as good an example of a synthesis as I have come across. The integration of Indo-European, Dravidian and Austronesian ideas happened over an extremely long period of time.

    Take Indra for example. He is *the* transcendental deity in the Vedic literature. A thousand years later, he is getting whooped by Krishna and decried as a lusty, avaricious and jealous king of heaven.

    On the other hand, Chath Puja is ‘pre-Aryan’ but very much part of Hindu tradition, especially for the people of Bihar.

    Hindus never internalized a notion of pre-Aryan and Aryan, I think you are projecting the pre-Islamic and Islamic division that is firmly an Abrahamic idea, and makes absolutely no sense to Hindus who anyways have emphasized a cyclical concept of time over a linear one.

    As has been mentioned before, Vedas are *a* set of spiritual texts in Hinduism. There are long standing schools among ‘Hindus’ that ascribe absolutely no authority to them. A Tamil Brahmin or Manipuri Brahmin feels no deference to a UP Brahmin, and never has. You are superimposing a mixture of Abrahamic centralism and modern Indian government rhetoric onto an evolving, open tradition.

    1. The question might have been posed from the detached perspective of cultural anthropology, not to query popular perception. People have always tried to divine their origins, and in the absence of genuine evidence they have authored their own past in accordance with their aspirations, and hindus have participated no less than others with geneology, gotras, caste origin myths ect. I suppose now population genetics and philology are having a mainstream moment when people have tools to reimagine origins and sift through the layers to grasp onto some essential past self. Its going to be interesting and I imagine the discourse seeping into social settings quite removed from academia.
      The aryan vs pre-aryan question will become more salient i’d expect, akin to how Europeans take interest in their pre-christian religion and folkways

      1. girmit, it is quite clear that most Indians have a mixed genealogy. This process was severely restricted at some point in the past, but has restarted recently and I dont really see what can stop it, especially in a post-arranged marriage India.

        Most Indians dont look *that* different from each other. It is very much a continuum of difference.

        The only workable feature for ‘pre-aryan’ vs ‘aryan’ would be in terms of language family, with ‘pre-aryan’ being identified with Dravidian and ‘aryan’ with Indo-Aryan. And unless I am mistaken, that thread has nearly run its course without achieving its real political objectives.

      2. My only comment here as I have very little interest in a silly argument. (I’m writing this as we drive through sunny California’s Pacific Coast; so there must be something wrong with me!)

        I have to agree with Vikram here. To common Indians, the whole Aryan/pre-Aryan distinction makes about as sense as Etruscan/Latin distinction does to Italians.

        The cultural cross-talk has been so deep that even during 3rd cent BCE, Indika reports (North) Indians stating that they have never been invaded before. By the Gupta period, the cultural élite from kashmIra bhu would be totally affine to a person from Aryadesha (E Punjab/Haryana) or to a bhadra from vanga pradesha (Bengal). Part of a single cultural conciousness that never really died since. One can call it Aryan/Hindu/Indian or whatever other label one fancies. Many (and by many, I mean many multiples of the population of an average ME or European country) Indians see India of today as a resurrection of that Pax Indica. Nehru’s Discovery of India makes that vision quite explicit.

        That said, there has been a serious politicization of this Aryan/pre-Aryan issue – primarily from the Left and most vociferously from the Dravidian nativist politics and Dalit resurgence post-Independence which used post-colonial tropes to fit the Indian cultural reality (much like how the Chinese commies tried to overfit models of European feudalism to Chinese rural reality). The Hindu RW response to it has been typically Indian: shoddy, edgy and allergic to facts. So here we have something so ancient that it would be totally pointless in any normal country blown into a major controversy attracting all kinds of nutters and busybodies.

        My advice to foreigners/non-Indians reading this is to not be fooled by the historicity of the question. Much of this debate is really just an abstraction for the very real battle for socio-economic resources in India today, and part of it is also motivated by the struggle to carve a space for India’s Muslim minority in the social contract.

    2. The idea of ‘aryan’ and ‘non-aryan’ or ‘pre-aryan’ portions of Hinduism is a mug’s verbal game.

      In oldest Tamil literature , say 200 b.c. to 300 ad , if it can be taken to mean non- or -pre aryan, there are 5 ‘tinai’ gods i.e. landscape gods i.e. each god is associated with . They are Indra, Varuna, Vishnu, Skanda and Korravai. In Tamil lit they are called vEndhan, varuNan, mAyOn , sEyOn and koRRavai. The first four are vedic gods . The last one is Great Goddess – this goddess theme is evident all over India in different names.

      The oldest Tamil lit is also full of positive references to brahmins, vedas, vedic yagnas as well as puranic gods . But for the language , you will find the same Hindu themes as in Sanskrit.

      When we say aryan or non-aryan in Hinduism , we are running into lot of semantic problems out of which there is no exit. The best thing is to take Hinduism as a single block for study , racial categories will take us nowhere.

      1. I would also like everyone interested in Indian history to read 2 books
        India – Brief History of Civiliation by Thomas Trautmann
        The Aryan debate edited by Thomas Trautmann – especially his chapter in it ‘Constructing the racial theory of Indian civilization’ wherein he clearly debunks the racial theory of Ind Civ into Aryan, Dravidian, Etc . How it was all cooked up by British indologists who were British Empire loyalists and it’s paid servants. Racial theory of Indian civilization is a 19th century invention His last line is “That the racial theory of Indian civilization has survived so long and so well is a miracle of faith. It is high time to get rid of it.’

      2. Hello VijayVan,

        There is this recent popular tendency to demarcate between these various original sources as pertaining to cultural patterns based on the relevant discovered and hypothetical genetic clusters like Iran_N (which is more often than not conflated with “Dravidian”), AASI (if Iran_N is not “Dravidian”, then this one tends to be; it also tends to be called “Vedda”), steppe, etc. (which is kinda stupid, at least at this stage, as the subject is not very mature and as all these Iran_N, etc. are just autosomal genetic clusters and very ancient ones at that- but even I fall prey to it many times lol though I do make sure to append one Iran_N+AASI after a comma after Iran_N and AASI) in addition to the somewhat older and perhaps well-established tendency of using philology, (cultural?) anthropology, etc. and I think these latter types of subjects are really very helpful and don’t lead us so dangerously astray from our specific goals. I see it purely as an academic exercise and as a part of the overall study of the one subject that is Hindu (in a ‘people east of the Indus’ type of way) traditions. Only if one tries to bring this specific part of the whole of inquiring origins and debating about them, so vigorously into discourse as it’s relevant to current courses of action, etc. does it become problematic in my view. Doing the definitions, terminology, etc. seems all very difficult I agree but not impossible in my view. But perhaps genuine philosophical problems may already exist in philological practice associated with a reductionistic type of approach that majorly lay amateur enthusiasts like me tend to follow, but Asko Parpola knows everything and I know nothing compared to him lol.

          1. VijayVan,

            Yes I agree of course. The new subject of ancient genomics also only majorly supplements fields which deal with ancient cultures and changes in cultures like archaeology, philology, anthropology, history, etc. and does not completely overthrow them. But one thing is that it helps them tremendously by collecting a new category of data and lots of that for them, and bringing them closer to empirical sciences. It can also help them more concretely favour a certain current hypothesis as against a number of other similar hypotheses. I also observed an interesting cultural phenomenon- especially in India, where people are more trusting of evidence from hard sciences like genetics, and are not very favourable towards classical humanities subjects that deal with history and such things, at least linguistics and philology. So I tend to observe that hypotheses about history from genetics capture public imagination a lot higher than those from archaeology, etc. After all, it may very well be the case that the enormous role played by the paleolithic people hunting on the Iranian plateau in shaping current India began to be popularised in India (at least among readers and enthusiasts) so much by the discovery of the Iran_N ancestral component in 2016 or so when they first published several ancient genomes from Iran, Anatolia and Levant, even if there was probably always a hypothesis in archaeology that the Mehrgarh neolithic may have shared many commonalities with the neolithic cultures to its west in Iran and beyond. Earlier and even now though decreasingly, the popular tendency was/is to imagine an extremely simplistic picture of only two streams- “Aryan” and “Dravidian” (which more often than not neatly fit into the easy folk picture characterised by dichotomous geographical, linguistic and racial categories (north vs. south, Indo-Aryan language family vs. Dravidian language family, “fair” people vs. “dark” people, earlier neolithised and earlier civilised people vs. later neolithised and later civilised people, etc.))- whether accepting their existence, denying it, or debating it.

  15. Girmit, what is pre Aryan?:

    Previous days of Brahma?
    Previous manvantaras (including previous Manus and previous sapta Rishis)?
    Previous chaturyugas cycles?
    Satya (Krita) Yuga from this Yuga cycle?
    Devas, Danavas, Daityas, Vasus, Rudras, Adityas, Nagas, Garudas, Vayu, Agni, other forces of nature?
    The 33 devas corresponding to the 33 parts of the spine?
    Matsya Avatar?
    Kurma Avatar?
    Varaha Avatar?
    Narasimha Avatar?
    Vamana Avatar?
    Kartavirya Arjuna?

    There are many Jatis . . . most of which are not human. Aren’t all the Jatis Aryan? How can a Jati be pre Aryan?

    1. The basic Hindu calendar goes back 315 trillion years, although some Hindu calendars are much longer than that. Some Buddhist and Jain calendars go back quintilians of years. Buddhism and Jainism are two of the ten Hindu schools (darshanas) and accepted as legitimate Hindu schools by Hindus. Therefore most Hindus also acknowledge the Buddhist and Jain calendars and teachings as authentic.

      1. Then he didn’t go to a good Vedic school. Whenever we do a Puja or Yajna we are suppose to say the date:

        This day, 50th year of Bramha (we say his name because there are many Brahmas, some long gone), 7th Manvantara (about 320 million years), 23rd Chaturyuga, Kali Yuga 5120 years from the passing of Krishna. This much at least your priest probably knows.

        It is important to note that some very important characters from scripture come from what to me appears to be China, Kazakstan, Africa, Europe, middle east, South East Asia etc.

        From my reading of the scriptures, it appears that this isn’t the Arya’s first planet or solar system; which suggests the possibility of life coming to this earth from the outside (which might have comingled and modified pre-existing earth life). Yes this sounds fantastical. But much less so than it did a century ago.

        The narrative says that something big happened 22.8*4.32 million years ago somewhere. Don’t know what that is a reference to.

  16. Zack, you need to explain why you deleted a bunch of comments on this post ? There needs to be a consistent policy regarding this.

    1. tbh as a blogger who has done this for a long time a ‘consistent policy’ is pretty impossible.

      that being said, it is pretty clear we have one single problem. the rest is commentary….

      1. I understand that. But there was absolutely nothing offensive in my comment, and it was a clear response to Zack’s own reply to an earlier comment of mine on this post.

        1. weird. i don’t see anything in trash.

          i’ll remove the post and deactivate your account.

          tbh, aside from our village idiot i don’t really know what goes on on most of these threads.

          1. Who exactly is the “village idiot”? This kind of snideness is part of the problem. If you are going to be snide to me, I will be snide back and that doesn’t help anyone. I have respected your wishes not to comment on any of your own posts (no great loss to me).

            If you people would just not inordinately focus on Pakistan and Islam, I think the level of emotion would be tamped down quite a bit. Zack requested this months ago but it didn’t seem to fly. Obviously, if my very identity is attacked, I am going to push back. The constant use of “Pakistani psychosis” is very offensive.

    2. Zack, I would like you to consider another thing with respect to moderation. As I see in some other blogs, the comment awaits moderation and if it passes will show up later on the post. One time when my comment showed up on BP and then disappeared a few minutes later, it was little disappointing. If ones comment never accepted that is okay. But it is erased later causes some distress. Just human psychology. Prior moderation likely may make you spend more time. This is not a complaint. 🙂

      1. I’ve decided to stop moderating the comment thread boards entirely.
        I’ve deleted the wordpress app on my phone and will stick simply to writing posts (which I enjoy doing; I’m lucky enough to have the megaphone) and generate primary content.

        I apologised to Vikram but I’ve restored all comments. I think it was the Power that got to me.

        I’m also sorry if I’ve offended others by over-deleting etc.

        I did delete the “Overwrought” thread though since that’s no longer applicable.

        1. Zack,

          Your attempt at moderation was very laudable. When people are basically threatening each other’s countries with war , you know you have a serious problem.

          Perhaps we should all stay away from topics such as Kashmir for a while. This includes me. It seems it is not possible to discuss this issue in a non-hysterical manner. Probably why no progress is ever made on it.

          We are moving to a new house and will not have internet access for a bit, so I won’t be around as much. Best of luck, everyone.

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