I haven’t written anything this week and I was going to flush out my thoughts on my written diary or locked blog but an interesting observations came upon me, which I would share.
I’ve noticed with Vidhi’s science-intensive path that it’s very uncharacteristic for our northwestern cultural streams. Sindhis, Punjabis and the lot are into different professions.
I also noticed that religious difference didn’t make so much of a difference (Sikhs in some ways are surprisingly similar to Muslims but one must not over-hype their kinship, their loyalties with the Hindu population will always come first) but it seemed that a region’s exposure to Islamicate ways reduced their inclination for science (the Gunpowder Empires were advanced in military tech but were reknowned for their aestheticism).
As an aside to deny that Hindu criticisms of the Mughals is not grounded in communalism is laughable. Louis XIV (whose reigns roughly coincided with the latter two Mughal Emperors) was renowned for his profligacy (Versaille is the mini-Taj of Western Europe) and his constant wars of conquest (Aurganzeb comes to mind). Nevertheless after a Revolution or so the French remain profoundly proud of their “Sun King” in a way the Hindu Right Wing do not towards the Mughals.
Back to the Brahmins; there are 5 sets of Brahmins who capture the Indian imagination.
(1.) The UP Brahmins who are the core of Hindu doctrine and society. Without them there wouldn’t be a coherent Hindu society or population (there are 20 million UP Brahmins).
(2.) The Bengal Brahmins who are the periphery of the Hindustani belt (but still very much a part of it with Bengal being significant in the Mughal era and core heartland in the Colonial one), emerged as a core of a more “Hindu cultural identity.” Is it any wonder that the Indian national anthem is in Bengali?
(3.) The Kashmiri Pandits. Unique among Brahmins they were a minority among an overwhelming Muslim population. Surrounded by Muslims, they Mughalicised, became the Hindu Mughals and the political class of independent Indians.
(4.) The Maratha Brahmins. On the Edge of Aryavarta and the heart of the Deccan; they became the Hindu warrior class after the Rajputs were entirely coopted by the Anglo-Mughal establishment (the Rani of Jhansi was a Maratha).
(5.) Finally the Brahmin class, which sparked my initial thought. The Tamil Brahmins, furtherest away from the Islamicate world in every way possible (their Islam is similar to the Kerala, TN, Ceylon, South East Asian one) and most obsessed with the hard sciences. It’s pretty obvious Vidhi wouldn’t have been on her scientific path if she had grown up in the North.
In some ways the “millennia of humiliation” (not my words) splintered the Hindu response 5-ways, which is why any reconstruction of Hindu identity rests on a multi-regional response.
Ps: Shocking in a case of life imitating art – I was just browing girmit’s last comment and found out that the commentariat were discussing the exact same thing..