Hindus are the most authentic Indians

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As someone who was raised in the United States as a person of brown complexion, I grew up as an “Indian.” This, despite the fact that the last time any of my ancestors were Indian nationals was before 1947. The main reason is that it is really hard to get people in 1980s America to know what “Bangladesh” was. Yes, there was a famine and a concert in the early 1970s, but this was not very well known. Since I had brown skin, and my parents ate spicy food, it seemed plausible to accept that I was Indian and just “go with it”.*

But, a problem with being Indian is that people assumed I was Hindu. I was raised Muslim (though never really a believer myself), so I had no ownership or connection to Hindu identity. Therefore, I would have to explain the religious discrepancy to my interlocutors. It wasn’t a major issue for me. After all, I wasn’t religious myself.

As a grown adult, with children of mixed background who find my exotic antecedents amusing, I have had to reflect more on the relationship between India and its native religious traditions and identities. Hindus often make the accusation to Indian Muslims and Christians that these religion’s holy sites are elsewhere. In contrast, southern Asia is the locus of “Hindu” spirituality. The sacred geography of Islam in Arabia, the Levant, and for Shia and Sufis more broadly across the Near East (with some expansion in other areas for Sufis, though these are secondary). For Christians, the locus is in the Near East and Europe. But I think this focus on Islam and Christianity takes the eyes off the major prize.

What does it mean to be Hindu?** I think that it is clear that Hinduism is a precipitation of the indigenous religious traditions of India, a fusion of numerous strands which are quite distinct. As a non-Hindu it is not my role to adjudicate on what is, or isn’t, Hindu, but it seems quite clear that there is something distinct from Islam and Christianity, and that that distinctiveness is usually due to indigenous aspects (some of which were exported through Buddhism out of India). Al-Biruni saw this. Hindus themselves saw this even if they did not think of themselves as a confessional religion.

This doesn’t mean that non-Hindu Indians and subcontinentals are not distinctively South Asian. Look at a street scene in Pakistan, and it looks more like New Delhi than Tehran. The people, the color, the foods and density. But for various reasons Pakistanis have rooted their identity in Islam, and this makes identification as subcontinental awkward for many Pakistanis, because Hinduism suffuses subcontinental identity. The word Hindu after all originally just meant Indian.

Let’s use an analogy. Imagine that Iran was divided into multiple states. One to the west was mostly Shia. One to the east, inclusive of Tajiks, was mostly Sunni. Finally, in the middle was a numerically preponderant Zoroastrian state with a Muslim minority. I think it would be hard to deny that Zoroastrian Iranians would feel a stronger identification with being Iranian full-stop, because Zoroastrianism is a religion which emerged in an Iranian matrix (Bahai and secular Zoroastrians in the USA give their kids more “Iranian” names usually than even nominal Muslims). In contrast, Muslim Iranians would feel affinities with Arabs and Turks and other groups all around them through fellow-feeling of religious brotherhood.

The point of this post is not to take a particular stance on whether India is or isn’t secular, or should or shouldn’t be secular (whatever that means in India, which is different from the United States). Rather, it’s to acknowledge the “elephant in the room.” Growing up around my parents’ Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi friends, there was always the reality and tension that they had non-subcontinental attachments and identification, in theory. The theory part is made salient by the reality that my parents socialized with Hindu Indians and Bangladeshis (generally Bengali, but not always), but never with Muslims from other regions (the sole exception was when I had an Indonesian best friend, though my parents complained that the Indonesians weren’t very good Muslims anyway so what was the point?). They were foreigners in concrete terms, though there was an abstract brotherhood implied by faith.

Growing up in a family that is Muslim being exposed to the religion at the multiethnic masjid was a cosmopolitan experience. It was a West Asian dominated space. The difference with brown people that are Hindus is that with rare exceptions every religious space has a rootedness in being Indian. To be religious is to reinforce Indianness, subcontinentalness, South Asianness.

The title of the post is pretty explosive. But I am pretty sure none of my descendants that I will live to see (grandkids) will identify as Bangladeshi or subcontinent, so I think perhaps I can be a bit objective and detached. My legacy is going to be in North America, not South Asia. My family’s transition into being Muslim centuries ago opened up a whole new international world. But it also unmoored us from the soil in which we were nourished. Bangladeshi Muslims are still trying to deal with that and work through it.

* To be clear, I never said I was born and raised in India. I would simply say I was born in Bangladesh, which is near, and like, India.

** I can substitute “Dharmic” for Hindu and keep 90% of my argument the same

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112 Replies to “Hindus are the most authentic Indians”

  1. You never know Razib, one of your kids may marry a Bangladeshi. They my want to reconnect with someone part of that culture. You always find mixed race kids more interested in their ‘exotic’ side than their European side. You never know. Your progeny may be Bangladeshi. And that’s beautiful 😂😂😂😂

  2. You kids may end up marrying a Bangladeshi Razib. Then all your progeny will be Bengali. After all, mixed race kids incline to their ‘exotic’ side.

    How awesome would that be lolol

    You can’t get rid of your desi-ness!!!! No matter how hard you try. May your kids find a nice Bengali spouse. That would be so beautiful. Two steps forward, one step back, am I right Razib, eyy?

  3. Right. Like I said in the last post:

    Muslims can assert their Indianness.

    Hindus don’t have to.

  4. After all, mixed race kids incline to their ‘exotic’ side.

    that’s not really true. might depend on what they look like. my kids don’t look brown alas (black in America is the exception not rule).

    but yeah, they may marry a brown person. who knows?

  5. V. S. Naipaul’s “Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples” (1998) a sequel to his Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1979).

    Discusses a lot of these themes.

  6. Now do you empathize with the RSS fellows who try hard and tie themselves into knots trying to explain why they think India is a Hindu country and yet somehow India is secular, and end up failing to even articulate, let alone establish, the sense of either of these points?

  7. gulf arabs are particularly bad about that sort of racism. but the subtext is pretty obv. in general.

    Now do you empathize with the RSS fellows who try hard and tie themselves into knots trying to explain why they think India is a Hindu country and yet somehow India is secular, and end up failing to even articulate, let alone establish, the sense of either of these points?

    a major problem is that lots of Hindu nationalist populists sound so dumb. so idk. they aren’t too coherent.

    1. a major problem is that lots of Hindu nationalist populists sound so dumb. so idk. they aren’t too coherent.

      The incoherence part was sort of what motivated my comment. On some issues I have a hard time deciding whether the Sangh people are just randomly bullshitting or trying to articulate an inveterate instinctual feeling which is beyond their cultivation/focus to articulate.

      For instance, whether their “Akhand Bharat” thing is just raw territorialism or the result of a failed/unscholarly attempt at historical synthesis. Or their ramblings on “India as a Hindu nation” with there
      being Christian and Muslim Hindus etc.

      So yeah, I do see where you are coming from; just was curious whether you share a sliver of my agnosticism on the matter.

      1. Yes the whole bunch(RSS) needs much better communicators and intelligent people not parroting the same old position to bring out any nuance in their position to rest of world or for that matter to people opposing them in India itself.

  8. “My family’s transition into being Muslim centuries ago opened up a whole new international world.”

    Thinking about what Razib said here, would it be fair for us Hindus to deny an international world to others that live around us ? India and Indian traditions, values and world views dont have to work for everyone who lives there today, and they didnt have to work for everyone who lived there 500 years ago.

    I am sure most reasonable people would agree that Indic civilization, for all its breadth and complexity cannot be a solution for everyone. Denying conversion then, would be a bit like denying English education and H1B visas to elite Indians today.

    What unsettles us perhaps is the complete lack of symmetry. Just like Islam opened doors for those in India who werent satisfied with what was available to them, Indian religions could open doors for those in the Middle East who werent satisfied with Islam.

    But it hasnt happened like that. There are various reasons for this. Perhaps it is the sheer lack of people in the Middle East for most of history. Just UP (47 million) in 1900 had more people than Egypt, Turkey, Saudi and Iran combined (33 million). So critical masses of identity explorers never developed ? Perhaps it is the fact that Indians had no political standing in those regions, whereas Muslim dynasties lasted for several centuries in India. Perhaps it is the nature of religion in the Middle East, which was a lot less forgiving of experimentalists than India’s more open traditions.

  9. i’m american, so i think conversion is fine. encourages competition 🙂

    that being said, if you mean buddhism, that did have some purchase across eastern iran down to about 900 AD, and extensively in turan.

    but yes, islam is a one-way street traditionally. though muslims became christian (again) in spain and in russia (a lot of the russian nobility were converted tatars, who were good horsemen). i do find it plausible that some liminal-islamish groups in india ‘become hindu’ again with polarization.

    1. From my friends experience by talking to Muslims on chat is that Pakistani Muslims are very much more connected to their religion in the same way the Indian Muslims are not (not all). He just asked about islamic history to pakistani friend and she told her the whole story but the his friend (indian guy) doesn’t know even know about the history,philosophy whatever. He also said that he had crammed the quran and didn’t understand arabic.

      Conclusion : Indian Muslims are hinduised and Identity matters but youths are certainly different i.e more reformed and modern.

  10. Hindus are the most authentic Indians…. and Indians the most authentic S-Asian-ists 🙂

    It’s all about numbers here. I think had India been a muslim majority (even something low like 60 percent) country, it would have viewed Muslims as the more authentic Indian (vis-v Hindus), something akin to how Kashmiri muslim or Sindhi muslim see their region. Both category chosen because there are significant Hindu minorities of this ethnicity.

    To take a neutral category Sikh Punjabi see themselves as more authentic punjabis than Hindu Punjabis.

  11. Imagine a similar post entitled “Whites are the most authentic Americans”– That would be extremely offensive to minority Americans (including presumably Razib). As a non-White American, I would certainly not appreciate the sentiment.

    “Indian” is a nationality/ citizenship category while “Hindu” is a religion. These things should be kept separate. Arguments like this just give succor to Hindu nationalists who already believe that the country belongs to the majority group instead of to all its citizens.

    Finally, “subcontinent” is a geographical term and most definitely includes Pakistan, despite the religion of the majority of Pakistanis.

    1. if you start spamming this thread i’m going to simply delete all your content asshole.

      if i offend you, i’m doing something right you fucking mentally ill prig.

    2. “Whites are the most authentic Americans”–

      comparing a 200-year-old nation-state to a 2,000+ year civilization is a poor analogy. as a matter of fact the early republic did privilege *white* males for naturalization. so it was certainly true that it was viewed that whites are the most authentic Americans in the early republic. that has changed legally, and, it has changed culturally within my lifetime. for boomers it still remains true that whites and blacks are the only ‘real americans’ tho.

      Arguments like this just give succor to Hindu nationalists

      fuck you you mental midget. i don’t give a shit about Hindu nationalists. you’re the one obsessed with them. go get a room.

        1. Fine let’s try again without the offending word:

          1) India is a nation state just as the United States is so your argument is weak.
          2) Perhaps a post entitled “Christians are the most authentic Americans” would be seen as equivalently offensive to non-Christian Americans as this one is to non-Hindu Indians (not just Muslims)
          3) calling people mentally ill is not a good argument and simply reflects your own frustration
          On a side note, for someone who is a free speech absolutist, you are remarkably quick to threaten to ban speech that you don’t agree with

          1. 1) India is a nation state just as the United States is so your argument is weak.

            no, it’s not. we’ve gone over this. no one agrees with you that India is just a natio-state. it’s a civilization.

            Perhaps a post entitled “Christians are the most authentic Americans”

            a reasonable analogy, something you are unable to produce since yo are stupid, is “roman Catholics ar the most authentic italians.” but the problem is that roman catholicism is found in many places, and is not constitutively associated with Italy. in contrast, Hinduism is so associated with the Indian subcontinent.

            3) calling people mentally ill is not a good argument and simply reflects your own frustration

            it’s not an argument, it’s a description. you’ve left so many comments the past 24 hours it’s indicative of someone with serious problems (though to be fair i find it somewhat amusing).

            On a side note, for someone who is a free speech absolutist, you are remarkably quick to threaten to ban speech that you don’t agree with

            again, your stupidity is so deep in your bones that you are incapable of basic distinctions. the government should not abridge or regulate speech. but a weblog is a forum under someone’s control.

          2. It’s a fact that “India” is a nation-state created on August 15, 1947. There is nothing to agree or disagree regarding this.

            I fundamentally disagree with the whole concept of some citizens of a nation-state being more “authentic” than others by virtue of belonging to the majority. This line of thinking leads to dangerous places.

            You seem to have some particular animus against me when lots of other people a) leave a lot of comments and b) say things that are “stupid” (some far more stupid than anything i’ve said). What’s your fundamental issue? That I’m left liberal? Muslim? Pakistani?

    3. also, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT THAT YOU ARE OFFENDED JACKASS.

      no one gives a shit that you are offended you fucking church-lady. you act like born-again Christian complaining to a bunch of atheists that they are citing non-christian authors. no shit.

      1. Offensiveness – whatever that is – is not disjoint with correctness.

        One cannot dispute the claim that evolution happened because someone finds it offensive.

        The conflation between these categories is a sort of acid test of woke thinking.

  12. To take a neutral category Sikh Punjabi see themselves as more authentic punjabis than Hindu Punjabis.

    this is unsurprising. hindu Punjabis are into Hindi like Muslim Punjabis into Urdu.

    I think had India been a muslim majority (even something low like 60 percent) country, it would have viewed Muslims as the more authentic Indian (vis-v Hindus), something akin to how Kashmiri muslim or Sindhi muslim see their region. Both category chosen because there are significant Hindu minorities of this ethnicity.

    i think 60 percent too low. something like 90+% of sindhis and Kashmiris are Muslim . but yes, if Islam was the majority religion then it would ‘indigenize’ somewhat. part of the ‘problem’ with south Asian Muslims is that they are a religious minority in the region, so west asians view them coolly (people who look like them worship snake idols or whatever).

    i think bengalis are a better analogy. something like 70% are Muslim. but i think arguably it is understood that Hindu bengalis, bhadrolok, are still the stewards of the culture. perhaps not forever. the key is how secular Bangladesh culture gets. if it gets ‘more muslim’ then ironically kolkatta’s supremacy assured. if ‘less muslim’, then perhaps a challenge

    1. I think the Bengali Bangladesh thing is similar to Punjabi as well where a minority has assumed the stewardship of the ethnicity due to their cultural output.

      I disagree a bit that “more muslim” would lead to Kolkata supremacy, it need not be the case. More muslim could actually turn the broad thrust of the ethnicity itself to Islam (just like Punjabi-sikhism). No one really thinks Zorastraian when they think Iran anymore. They associate Shia-ism (not even Sunni-ism, the historical majority) .What ones need is constant cultural output which overshadows their peer, and give 50-100 years, and the shift happening right now in Indian Bengal (Bengali-ness decreasing, trying to align with wider N-Indian Hindu identity) , all could lead to Bengali-Islam as the default marker. I know it might sound audacious but strangers thing have happened.

      You suggest “less Islam” is best to challenge the Bhadraloks, i say why dream small, take the mantle for yourself. I mean they are just West Bengal, not Best Bengal.

    2. Interestingly, if you talk to some Sindhi nationalists in Pakistan, they will talk about how Sindhi Hindus are indigenous to Sindh and how they are sons and daughters of the soil.

      This doesn’t seem to apply to Kashmiri Hindus on the other hand. The only Kashmiris of Muslim background that describe Kashmiri Pandits as maintaining Kashmir’s indigenous culture are pro-India ex-Muslims.

      1. The sindhis left in sindh are poor farmers. Might have something to do with difference.

        Also some Muslim Kurds say yezidis r the original kurds…

  13. No one really thinks Zorastraian when they think Iran anymore.

    yeah, but that’s cuz zoroastrians are literally 0.1% of the population. not even something substantial like 10%.

    More muslim could actually turn the broad thrust of the ethnicity itself to Islam

    yeah. idk. unlike you know a lot of bengali Muslims. i can tell you the “more Muslim” ones are the least traditionally bengali. the least interested in stuff like tagore cuz it’s “Hindu.” basically you would need 95% bengali Muslims to really de-hindufy the association i think. there are just too many hindus around to ‘witness’ to the old bengali non-muslim culture.

    1. An important point that can’t be stressed enough is how important performing arts is to Bengali hindu culture. Dancing, singing, music and theatre are held in high regard, and debating is encouraged to discuss issues, even if the topics may be thorny.

      A critical mass of literature, movies and songs are necessary for the outside world to notice the culture of an ethnolinguistic region, and the best cultural developments happen when there isn’t a ‘big brother’ in the form of a religion or government standing behind you holding a stick and telling you what you can or can’t do.

      The austere strains of desert Islam that’s being imported from the Gulf into Bangladesh have an uncomfortable relationship with performing arts, and many of the pronouncements from these religious leaders are about ‘don’t do this’ or ‘don’t do that’. This is like shooting oneself in the foot. The more Bangladesh islamicizes, the less positively performing arts and open debate would be viewed, and the more Bengali hindus get to pick up on the culture.

      Even if both the Bengali hindus and muslims eventually have strong parallel cultural trends: the Shaktism which is dominant among the hindus is distinctly seen as a local version of hinduism, so let’s say if there’s a religious play that involves Durga, a foreigner would think “oh, Bengali culture” because that’s what Bengali hindus connect with, irrespective of whether they’re right-wing or left-wing or somewhere in the middle.

      In the case of the Bengali muslims, if there’s a religious play, I feel it would get tagged more as “muslim culture” rather than Bengali culture, given the monotheism and the pressures to homogenise with global Islam, even though they still have the language. Ironically enough, this is what the right-wing muslims probably want, even if they lose their connection to the local customs. Ergo, it’s mostly the more secular muslims who don’t mind performing arts (and hindu connections) who can pull off something that resembles Bengali culture to the outside world.

      Many of the Bengali hindu academia in western universities are left-wing and claim to be atheist, but come Durga Puja and they’ll still celebrate it (even if they’ve forgotten Bengali) as it remains a distinctly Bengali (and east India) cultural thing that reminds them of home. The Bangladeshi muslims who celebrate Eid and Ramazan retain their ‘Bengali-ness’ only as long as they retain the language. If that is gone in the 2nd or 3rd generation, then they just blend into the larger muslim diaspora, as there is nothing left to distinguish them except for maybe Pohela Boishakh and machher jhol.

      1. “The Bangladeshi muslims who celebrate Eid and Ramazan retain their ‘Bengali-ness’ only as long as they retain the language.”

        Isn’t that a valid reason to retain it? Language identity is stronger among Bangladeshi Bengalis than any other ethnicity I know. A few examples of what I’m talking about:
        In the UK: https://youtu.be/hEyAbYLtyaM
        In Italy: https://youtu.be/_GglPcsAq_Q
        UK and Italy have the highest Bangladeshi expatriates in the western world and the Bengali identity is eminent among them. In North America, the situation is different though.

  14. My third comment contradicts my first comment 🙁 Consequences of fluctuating benefits of doubt as the discussion moves along

  15. Regarding America, isn’t there a coherent cultural and linguistic characteristic, and an outlook on life, that marks one as an authentic American? And these characteristics are derived from what the early British settlers brought to the country? Most immigrants, definitely in the second generation onward, seem to possess these characteristics, at least to my eye and ear. Even if may of them try to explore their “exotic” ancestries (including European ones.)

    “White” seems simply to be a proxy for these characteristics, used by white nationalists to privilege some people over others, in the mistaken belief that non-whites simply cannot possess them.

    If what I’m saying above is accurate, then I don’t see why Indian Muslims can’t be authentic Indians while being casually religious. The hardcore fundamentalist types would be exceptions.

  16. Regarding America, isn’t there a coherent cultural and linguistic characteristic, and an outlook on life, that marks one as an authentic American?

    more libertarian. so yes.

    If what I’m saying above is accurate, then I don’t see why Indian Muslims can’t be authentic Indians while being casually religious. The hardcore fundamentalist types would be exceptions.

    i think we need to distinguish btwn being citizens of a nation-state, and Indian broadly in a civilizational sense. hindus worship gods whose manifestation on earth were in the Indian subcontinent. their religious teachers and exemplars were born and raised within India. they, therefore, have a full spectrum connection to the soil, the heimat, that non-hindus reject. a Muslim, or a Christian, no matter how liberal, would admit that the apotheosis of religious revelation on earth did NOT happen in India, but rather in the near east. that the true genius of religious wisdom and the closest expression of the sacred is not distinctively indian, but universal, and more precisely, encultured and embedded in a non-indian historical matrix (e.g., for Muslims Arabian).

    Edward said was raised Anglican and an atheist. but, he said that his “civilization was Islam.” the point here being that he admitted Arab nationalists of all religions had to accede to Islam a central role in the development and history of the Arab peoples. to be frank, said could never be as authentic in part because of his cosmopolitan Anglican background. the ‘true’ Palestinian was an orthodox Christian or a Sunni muslim.

    1. @Razib
      I risk sounding really stupid but here are my questions :

      “the true genius of religious wisdom and the closest expression of the sacred is not distinctively indian, but universal, and more precisely, encultured and embedded in a non-indian historical matrix”

      Hindus do not insist their’s is the best version of religious wisdom available. I like to think that if Zoroastrians or Baha’is tried to religiously assimilate we would have millions of ‘Hindus’ praying to Azura Mazda or the Bahai-god in no time leading to Hinduization/Indianisation of these faith’s. Similarly I think a few determined Taoist teachers and Sanskrit/vernacular translations of taoist texts could have(can?) firmly established taoism as a sect on par with Vedantins or Buddhists in dharmic matrix. Hindus (Dharmics) seem to be fine with others being right/better. This courtesy is extended to Jesus and the god he talked about as well as Sufi ‘saints'(ahem!) and Allah too, by a large percentage of Hindus. But this one way traffic is unsustainable.

      The kindest words I can think for Bible (other than book of proverbs) and Quran is tribal. I don’t want to poke at the sensibilities of Abrahamics but there is no comparison between Asthavakra geeta, principal upanishads, atmabodha, Yoga-sutra, lotus sutra and other Dharmic literature vs Middle Eastern holy books. Maybe a comparison can be made with Seneca or Meditations by Markus Aurelius but the Dharmic book’s (the hardcore ones not lame story ones) approach towards religion/ethics is just incomparable to Middle Eastern holy books which appeared childish to me in consistency/rigor/honesty/humility/originality/universality etc.

      My understanding is that when Turks/Arabs colonized/conquered us they classified all philosophy/wisdom of India as religious works. This religious-ness of the philosophically intense books of Hinduism makes them unattractive to people outside the Hindu fold. What would have happened if zero/hindu-numerals was not even looked into just because of being branded as Hindu? I am all for free competition between ideas and may the best philosophies win even if it means risking extinction of dharmic faiths. But the elephant in the room is that Islam is a one way street and it’s adherents don’t play by the same rules.

      I like to think that I am atmost a nominal (cultural?) Hindu and have made these comments trying to be unbiased to the best of my current abilities/knowledge.

      Hindus=Dharmics here.

      1. 1) the philosophy in christianity and Islam isn’t in the scriptures. it’s in the commentaries. e.g., the church fathers or among the mutazilites and later the shia Muslims who extended that thought (ismailis adhere to neoplatonism).

        2) ‘seek knowledge even unto china’ – Muhammad. there is good evidence that turanian Buddhism shaped early islam.

        3) Indian ideas were widely exported. it’s just they were exported mostly through Buddhism. neoconfucian metaphysics only makes sense as integrating Buddhism categories and methods.

        4) But the elephant in the room is that Islam is a one way street and it’s adherents don’t play by the same rules. there is some truth to that. but hindus have a supine and passive attitude toward conversion. some of this is probably due to long centuries rule by Muslims. hindus routinely fear intermarriage with Muslims will lead to more Muslims not more hindus. this points to the reality hidnus see themselves as weak and soft. the solution if you are weak and soft is to be strong.

        as for Islam not playing by the same rules, that’s true. they terrorize, whether through threat of violence (even Hindu readers on this blog have asked me not to say anti-muslim things it makes them uncomfortable), or through kabir’s idiotic assertion that things are “problematic.” the guy who makes fun of Hindu gods casually demands we say ‘peace be upon him’. i used to think it was malicious, but now i think it’s mental imbalance.

        if Hinduism is so great, own it, show it, and model it. the main problem with a lot of the Hindutva types is that they’re obsessed with Muslims and a negative reactionary vision. where’s the positive one? (yes, some do have a positive vision but their voices are drowned out)

        1. Really good !
          The war cant be won playing defensive but on offensive. Offensive in positive way rather than terrorizing, of course. Similar to stronger economies wanting free trade.

          Razib could become really good guru. Maybe one of the options after retirement ! :p

        2. The way I see it, trying to “define hinduism” only results in an Aryanization of the religion, rather like the Arabization of Islam (by the Tableeghis for ex.)

          I also think there are 2 types of Hinduism, one is as a culture (for example the Rajasthanis/Rajputs) & the other is a philosophy, like the Bengalis

          Personally, I culturally identify with caste more than religion. for example, as a person from southern tamil nadu, my food preferences align closely with sri lankan cuisine than any other Indian cuisine

          Philosophically I have grown up to believe that everyone is a Hindu. So when someone says that they are Atheist, Christian etc. then they become an Atheist Hindu or Christian Hindu for me 😉

          1. Marees
            southern tamil nadu, my food preferences align closely with sri lankan cuisine than any other Indian cuisine

            Really, do you eat pork, wild boar, beef, chicken. Some urban and most villagers also eat land monitor lizard, porcupine pretty much you name it.

          2. @sbarrkum I was referring to the cooking style. I am open to pork/beef but haven’t had much of it.
            Prefer red meat to white meat because most white meat is bland & tasteless. Mutton supply seems to be an issue in many Indian restaurants tho. Even Taco Bell(in chennai) has only white meat stuff. Not even mutton quasadilla

          3. sbarkum, cooking all sorts of meats from monitor lizards to civets and other game is not uncommon in rural south india. Unsurprisingly, there is a caste correlation to openness to it, and the families that eat the really wild stuff are often quite coy about it. That is changing these days though.
            I’ve taken the occasional trip to SL and eaten widely. While there is undoubtedly a uniqueness to many of its developments, it definitely feels like it inhabits a gastronomic clade with deep-south indian cooking.

    2. “Edward said was raised Anglican and an atheist. but, he said that his “civilization was Islam.” the point here being that he admitted Arab nationalists of all religions had to accede to Islam a central role in the development and history of the Arab peoples. ”

      Cant stress this enough.

      I think that deep down lot of muslims in India acknowledge this too, vis-v Hinduism-India. Its like partition, we all know what really happened and what were the reasons, but then we have to keep up a facade lest it “empowers” the wrong side.

    3. ” true genius of religious wisdom and the closest expression of the sacred is not distinctively indian, but universal”.

      I would add that under the hood, it’s not actually universal, but more of a pyramid structure, with Arabs on top. It’s an ethnocentric religion masquerading as a universal one. Hinduism, OTOH, is a universal religion having to be satisfied as being an ethnocentric one. See how among Bali Hindus you do not have praxis or beliefs that are heavily attached to the subcontinent.

  17. so kabir things he can use “problematic” like a magic word. amongst the morons he travels with, that is true. they use “problematic” like religious people use “blasphemous.”

    every comment that expresses the idea that kabir finds something problematic will be redacted. i don’t give a shit what kabir finds problematic cuz i don’t give a shit what he thinks.

  18. These very same sentiments are being implicitly affirmed and elevated from personal beliefs to communal discourse within modern India. I see more and more re-furbished temples, multiple jatras with corporate funding, long disused traditions being revived whenever I visit India. Below a link of a “tamate” performance in Karnataka at a jatra.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGxrneG93i4

    Notice that the performers are wearing T-shirts of alternating colours which are funded by local businesses. There is a bloom in indigenous performing arts and the tamate, for example,has been crossing over into mainstream films for over 20 years now.

    Younger audiences and perfomers are being attracted to the banyan shade of Hinduism which has historically been a strong benefactor of every kind of art. In the North, it is “Kusthi” – mudwrestling (Dangal movie), whose benefactor is Hanuman. Its practitioners are vegetarian and have long been ignored by Nehruvian ideologues and the state apparatus.

    I see the resurgence of Hinduism as a pranic force (life-giving) to all that has been challenged and ignored by the behemoths of globalism and techno-modernity. It is also causing the wider Hindu body to precess around an as-yet-unknown Sun.

  19. As an ex Muslim Bengali, it really pisses me off when I see hordes of Muslims in Bangladesh naively gubble up this 7th century Arabian mess. The problem is, they’re too ignorant and lack the tools (English —> internet —> books (biology (evolution, pip genetics), history (where Muhammad stole works from (apocalyptic texts, Zoroastrianism)), and most importantly critical analysis.

    Razib, do you ever think Bengalis will leave islam?

    Also, from one Bengali atheist to another, does it annoy you as much as it does me, how do I wean myself off feeling like this. I left islam years ago and kinda mourn my culture being eroded by Arab Wahhabism.

    1. history (where Muhammad stole works from (apocalyptic texts, Zoroastrianism)), and most importantly critical analysis.

      fwiw, i’m a revisionist, i think islam as we understanding was forged btwn 700 and 800 AD. i think the stealing was done by ppl later than muhammad, who was probably an hanif or prophet of north arabia.

      Also, from one Bengali atheist to another, does it annoy you as much as it does me, how do I wean myself off feeling like this. I left islam years ago and kinda mourn my culture being eroded by Arab Wahhabism.

      there are way more bengali atheists than pakistani atheists in the west. why? the usual reason is that bengalis are just not as tied to islam as their identity.

      the trend toward ‘arabicization’ is real, but it’s not universal. we’ll see how it plays out.

  20. This is an interesting point of view. Growing up in a Bengal border town, we never considered the Bengali ( or Bangladeshi ) muslim to be ‘Bengali’. They were always ‘Muslim’, the (despicable) ‘other’, no different from Muslims in other parts of the country except for being able to speak another language.

    Bengali Hindu community has many distinctive features, the religion has worship of Devis ( Durga Puja, Kali Puja ), Gaudiya Vashnavism, philosophical masters ( think Vivekananda, Aurobindo ), and also tantric tribal practices. There is also a rich tradition of performing arts, literature and music. Muslim has no association with any of these things, they cannot credibly claim to be ‘Bengali’.

    It is the same thing with Kashmiris. When people in the west (or even in India )want to learn about Kashmiri culture, they think Kashmir Shaivism, tantra, yoga sutras, Abhinavgupta, etc. These re not associated with violent terrorists currently occupying the Kashmir valley. This is why the emigrant Kashmiri Hindu community despite being a small minority and no longer living in their own lands are still authentic representatives of Kashmir.

    Muslims have only one authentic culture and that is Arabic. Everything else is just some compromise, which tends to become more Arabic over time.

    1. Many Bengali Muslims are deeply attached to the performing arts, including Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti.

      A famous quote from Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s 1968 Cultural Report states:

      “In East Pakistan almost every child with a musical talent receives some training in folk and classical music and Tagore and or Nazrul songs as part of his school education. Girls coming from even the most conservative families learn some dancing in their childhood. At least in music both men and women, if they have the talent, are encouraged to continue this pursuit for higher attainment and no social stigma attaches to a public display of their talents—but only as amateurs”

      1. yes but this is perceived to be counter-poised toward religiosity. so i know many people who gave up singing once they became ‘more religious’ (only the words of god are good enough).

        that being said, people who sing and appreciate the arts are still quite religious in the American context. it’s just there is a more ‘austere’ form of Islam that has the imprimatur of authenticity.

        1. Faiz was contrasting Bengalis with (West) Pakistanis where learning music was much less common and girls in particular who sang were considered to be “public women”. The whole point is that there is no one “Islam” but only interpretations of it– interpretations which differed even between two halves of one country.

          1. The whole point is that there is no one “Islam” but only interpretations of it

            Arab prestige and Gulf $ are having some effect on the margin. my family is relatively insulated from it because we’re Hanafi ulems and we don’t feel we need ‘guidance.’ this is not true of a lot of people in Bangladesh alas

    2. “Bengali Hindu community has many distinctive features, the religion has worship of Devis ( Durga Puja, Kali Puja ), Gaudiya Vashnavism, philosophical masters ( think Vivekananda, Aurobindo ), and also tantric tribal practices. There is also a rich tradition of performing arts, literature and music. Muslim has no association with any of these things, they cannot credibly claim to be ‘Bengali’.”

      So, these many distinctive features are essential to be considered Bengali? First of all, Bengali is a language than a culture. Bangla language and its dialects are essential parts of Bengali identity, Modern Bangladeshis speak a diverse range of Bengali dialects.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengali_dialects
      For arts, literature, and music, we know Hindu bhodroloks had been pioneers of Bengali renaissance, but how can you avoid Bauls, Nazrul Geeti, Polli Geeti, Bhatiali, etc. many of them have a long tradition in Bangladesh. In literature, Humayun Ahmed had been a groundbreaker in Bangladeshi literature and many will follow him. As for music, you will find many viewers from West Bengal praising modern Bangladeshi songs. Bangladeshis are a new group, and they are eager to create an efficient Bengali identity.

      1. the problem is until recently bengali Muslims assimilated to Urdu high culture. dhaka was a center of Urdu poetry. so the bengali muslim identity is a work-in-progress.

        1. Exactly. There might be debates, but I strongly believe Dhaka will outshine Kolkata as the centre of Bengali culture. Indianization of west Bengalis is remarkable.

  21. Muslims have only one authentic culture and that is Arabic. Everything else is just some compromise, which tends to become more Arabic over time.

    you sound moronic. arabic is the language.

    and anyway, this is false. i will give a simple refutation: during the initial years of mass islamiziation in iran there was a rapid increase in arabic names in the iranian individuals (tax records, etc.). AFTER total islamicization (or 90%) persian names resurge upward. and, a persian renaissance occurred under the iranian samanids (ferdowsi’s shahnemeh was an outgrowth of this period, though completed with patronage from mahmud of ghazni).

    your comment is retardedly reductive, but perhaps you are stupid 🙂

    1. This trope is anecdotally verifiable to many Indians. In my 3rd Form, I had two classmates – one was called Saddam Hussein and the other Yasser Arafat. For lack of self-reinforcement, I do not remember any one else’s name as vividly.

      I am yet to meet any Indian Muslim who at least has a non-religious cultural name like Harsha (happiness), Anand (Joy) or Sukanya (Good Maiden). From this lack of cultural markers, I find that many Indian Muslims are unable to mediate effectively within a larger group. Bourdieu already called this the “transposable disposition” whose absence would result in dislocation.

      1. has a non-religious cultural name like Harsha (happiness), Anand (Joy) or Sukanya (Good Maiden).

        Ananda is common name in Sri Lanka. The Buddhas primary disciple.

        Sukanya: Possibly from Pali word sukha=good. I think a common name in Thailand
        eg Sukanya Srisurat is a Thai female weightlifter
        Sukanya Chor Charoenying (Thai women’s international footballer who plays as a goalkeeper.

        Harsha: Harshavardhana an Indian Buddhist king. Somewhat common name in Sri Lanka because.

    2. >you sound moronic. arabic is the language.

      It is more than just a language. IMs dress like Arab ( with Burqas and all ), have Arabic names, mosque broadcasts sermon in Arabic, symbology etc. (eg. of flags ) is Arabic/Persian, script is like Arabic, etc. etc. the religion is obviously totally tied up with Mecca, Haj pilgrimage, face the Mecca, etc. There is almost nothing ‘Indian’ about IM. If you have been to India recently difference between Hindu/other areas and Muslim areas are immediately perceptible . Perhaps in US the difference is not that stark.

      1. This is only true relative to Indian Hindus.

        Compared to Arab Muslims, Indian Muslims are very Indian (play cricket, eat jalebi, watch Bollywood movies, have long ass marriage ceremonies etc.)

    3. I would say that Bangladesh has become both more Islamic & also more Bengali as time passed. Islam may not be tied to our politics but it plays a great role in our personal life. Bengalis are probably 1 of the most practicing muslims in the world:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Importance_of_religion_by_country

      To Bengalis/Bangladeshis, Islam is more of an issue of faith(and way of life/lifestyle) by which they can gain eternal salvation… but to Pakis Islam is more of an identity and less of a faith ig.

      BTW many of us(including me) believe in a popular racist Islamic theory against Saudis(or Gulf Arabs) that these people from Saudi Arabia are very barbaric and so the last Prophet was sent by the god to guide this group…just saying..not to argue with anyone

      1. i don’t know about most practicing? a lot of women don’t wear hijab or niqab and a lot of people don’t pray regularly. at least that’s what i saw in 2004 last time i went

      2. “I would say that Bangladesh has become both more Islamic & also more Bengali as time passed.”

        I have the same view as well. I think sort of populist Bengali-Islamic movement is just bubbling under the surface in Bangladesh. It has obviously has an active foil in India, and the recent events going on in Assam , CAA , NRC and all.

  22. So I saw in this thread a discussion about Islam in Pakistan and Islam in Bangladesh. On this note, an important angle to consider is also the racial one. I think many Pakistanis view “indianess” also similar to “Hinduness.” This manifested with the war and genocide in 1971, when the West Pakistanis, largely Sunni Pak Punjabis and Pashtuns, accused the East Pakistanis of conspiring against them, actually being Hindus and loyal to India at heart. Of course, as discussed on this blog before, actual Hindus were targeted more. But one interesting phenomena to consider is how phenotypic considerations creep back into the discussion.

    Pakistanis tend to associate, in my experience, a phenotype with the term “Hindu.” That phenotype and Hinduism are characterized as Indian. They also tend to view themselves as descended from foreigners, a mix of foreigners and the racially “elite” breed of India, or just simply the latter. This manifests today also as discrimination against lower caste origin and Indian Mohajir origin people in Pakistan, despite all the preaching about the Ummah being one.

    Some answers on quora that are heavily upvoted illustrate some of these supremacist leanings and general Pakistani racialism, beliefs that Pakistanis use to assert their “non-Indianess” and also conflate with “Hinduness,” thus, at least in this instance, agreeing with Razib’s point that the true Indians are in fact Hindus

    Some of the more benign ones. I avoided excessively vitriolic ones.

    1. “How do British Pakistanis view British Bengalis? I have had racist experiences from Pakistanis.”

    “Then, you will find Pakistanis from Pakistan more racist. Because, Pakistan has many Caucasian type native tribal people most people are very traditionalist, clan-minded. All provinces of Pakistan are designated to 1 single ethnicity. There are often cases of honor killing, mostly due to interracial relations.

    If you are British, Scott or Turkish , Lebanese or Palestinian for example— you will be greeted with open arms in all over Pakistan.

    And there’s racism in Pakistan but not as violent as KKK or aryan brotherhood fighting for racial homogeneity.

    The concept of racial homogeneity is not yet familiar to most tribes of Pakistan (due to Islamic culture). But still most native tribal Pakistanis, Iranians & north-Arabs keep themselves separated from Bangladeshi & Indian origin Muslims.

    Unfortunately, we will have to live with this sad reality. Caucasian races tend to be segregate themselves, its not just in Pakistan but even in USA , Australia & all developed western countries. Non-Caucasians face racism even in Asian countries (Japan, Korea, Russia etc.)

    Modern world runs on Caucasian beauty standards. Those who are not born with it are considered unattractive & so, face discrimination.”

    2. Are Indians and Pakistanis different race?

    “Yes, they are entirely different races of people—aside from looks, on a genomic aspect too. Recently, Harvard genome lab & DNALAND sequenced & discovered their ancestors.

    Pakistani demographics: different Caucasian types (98–100% genetic west-Eurasian)

    Indian demographics: Australoid/Dravid or various Asiatic-aboriginals nation.[1]

    There can be some exceptions & overlaps, due to mass migrations from India during 1947, but still majority of the native people on both countries are different races of people.

    3. Can western people differentiate between Pakistani and Indian on the base of skin color?

    Yes, in general everyone can differentiate Indians & Pakistanis racially. At least westerners aka Anglo/English speaking world ( UK, CANADA, Australia, SA, NZ very well can). Same applies in Arab countries. Every single Arab can tell them apart, without asking names.

    As per my observations, no other neighboring nations on earth got such astounding racial differences (despite the fact Pakistan took in millions of migrants from India, africa & all over asia). This is very intriguing indeed.

    In fact 18th century British explorers were the first to racially survey & classify people of Asia.

    For more info on Porto-Asiatic & Indian people’s origin: Real History India

    Indian people: Indians tend to have dravid/Australoid influence as they are mixed race aboriginals.[1]

    Pakistani: While native Pakistani tribals tend to diffrent variation of Caucasians (from Mediterranean, all the way down to full blown white- Caucasians/west-european).

    A white boy with gorgeous blue eyes from Pakistan/Kashmir border:

    Who are the oldest natives of today’s Pakistan, Kashmir & Afghanistan: (evolved on those lands)

    These tribal peoples ( kalash, kashmiri, swati, nooristani, balti, hunzo, Pamir people — who can look like Nordic-type people like following. Researchers failed to trace how old these ethnic groups are

    4. Is it true that the ancestors of Pakistanis were Hindu?

    “No, native Pakistanis were & still are different people — be it racially, religiously or culturally. Only Indian Muslim migrants (of 1947) had Hindu religion.

    Another myth exposed : north-Indians or even Bollywood people are not similar to native Pakistanis.

    Fake accounts warning :

    Don’t trust what ever written online. There are millions of fake accounts opened with Pakistani, Afghan, kashmiri, pashtun, baloch, Punjabi, Iranians, Arab, English, Slavic names, (by enemy nation), to spread lies & humiliate people, history & culture of Pakistan & Muslims overall.

    Fake accounts, lies & nationalism– A Case study on the Trio

    Shocking : millions of fake ids posing as Pakistanis online — by Choudary

    There’s no sign of Hinduism/Hindus in any part of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir—that goes beyond 2500 years— never ever found by any authentic foreign researchers. This is the biggest reason why old Brits/sir Winston Churchill wholeheartedly supported creation of separate borders (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Kashmir).

    What were their ancient religions?

    They were mostly Buddhists (Hellenic) , pagans, Mazdaism, animism (no specifiable religions). All these religions are totally alien concept to Hinduism. Hindus, Hindu culture, Hinduism etc. are due to very recent migration from India (in last 2500 years).

    The difference between a Pakistani & Indian can be as high as Anglo-Saxon vs Melanesian aboriginal.

    So you can see if they were from Indian Hindus, they wouldn’t be so different.

    Here’s an example of a Pakistani Punjabi man : (works all day under sun & dust, there are millions of Pakistanis like this). Not even posting pashtuns, kashmiris, syeds, kalash, noristanis, wajiri & other tribals.

    As a foreigner, how can you tell a native Pakistani, Kashmiri, afghan easily?

    Look for pure-Caucasian features :

    tall height
    long-blade thin Caucasian nose
    reddish tan
    high cheek-bone
    thin or no lips
    large frontal-cortex
    deep eye socket
    elongated face
    large jaw (from Neanderthals)
    plain silky hairs
    dolichocephalic skull shape
    different variations of light eyes (light blue, greenish, brown, olive, hazel, cats-eye, grey)some have natural blond, red-head, brown hairs as well .
    For Indians its all totally opposite or mixed features.”

    5. Should Pakistan have been separated from India?

    “Absolutely! Because there was nothing called “India” in first place. It’s an artificial identity created only 62 years ago (1947, both nations created same time).

    We were separate people always— from religion to race.

    Creation of Pakistan came a as blessing for our races, cultures, language & identity.

    We are a nation who’s identity is associated with beauty, honesty, courage & grandness. Ignore the fake account trolls talking nonsense about Pakistan, we know what is truth, right?

    Fazal Bhat’s answer to Why don’t Pakistan supporting Kashmiris just go to Pakistan?

    “So, we don’t want to lose our nation at any cost. Otherwise we would become slaves & extinct.

    Indians & Pakistanis: are they same people?

    People, race, culture & brotherhood— that’s what we live for.

    Safeguarding the survival & existence of our next generation is should be our main priority.”

    6. Do Kashmiri people look white?

    Yes, I’ve seen them during my tour. Kashmiris are a western Pakistani ethnicity. Western & northern Pakistanis mostly tend to be Caucasian races (from Caucasus to as far as west-European types). This is why some historians called them “whites of Asia”. However “Caucasian” is the scientifically befitting nomenclature.

    These people usually have almost 0% aboriginal, Australoid/dravid, Asiatic, African & other non-Caucasian ancestry (which explains their unique racial features). See a Pakistani’s DNA-Land result :

    What is the origin of the Kashmiri people?

    Difference between native Kashmiri & Indian can be as high as English vs sub-sahran African population.

    Before traveling to Kashmir, i had the stereotype that they are just bunch of jihadi extremist people , much of it is due to Indian & Judo-western media always representing Kashmirs & Pakistanis in a negative manner, for being Muslims.

    From my personal observations, Kashmir conflict is much of an ongoing race-war between native Caucasians & austro-dravid indians (occupiers)— than a religious battle.

    Ever since “British east-India company “ made India & put Kashmirs into India’s map (without their consent), the Pakistanis, Pashtuns, kashmiris etc. tribal people had long been having clashes with black Hindustanis. The genocidal wave surged so much , a lot of the native Caucasian population was decimated by Indian army using forced diversity & brutal war regime, for last 60 years. At least 100000 native Kashmiris were murdered so far, with the goal of 100% wiping out their race which would make it easy for India to grab their ancestral lands.

    But still there are some native “white-man” types left. Its quiet interesting how unique they still look.

    All pictures posted here are average people & labor boys from kashmir. No instagram/social-media celebrities or media persons.

    My Norwegian tour-mate beside his Kashmiri friend. Yeah, looks like there’s a connection somewhere. I have a second family in the valley now.

    A blond Kashmiri separatists leader.

    Some of them can look like typical “whitey” too. Meet my rebel friend shams. He’s not named like “Harry” or “Henry”, but he’s a great friend & a kind, humble gentle man. I never felt like an outsider.

    This is another famous young Kashmiri freedom fighter. He’s a ginger.

    A quick & easy way to identify Caucasian people in Asia: (look for pure Caucasian features)

    reddish tan
    long blade thin Caucasian nose
    thin or no lips
    large frontal-cortex
    deep eye socket
    high cheekbone
    large jaw-line (from neanderthal ancestry)
    plain silky hairs
    dolichocephalic or Europoid skull shape
    high cephalic index
    perfect facial symmetry (by Fibonacci ratio)
    different variations of light eyes (light blue, greenish, brown, olive, hazel, cats-eye, grey)
    long neck & elongated face
    for Kashmiris , Pashtunwali, Kalash, Baltistani, Hunzo, Dards, Nooristani etc. ethnic groups have natural blond, red-head, brown hairs as well) .

    They are a gorgeous people who are fighting to save them & separate their borders. They need help from friends like you & me. Its a nice , clean , little paradise nation they created — I’m very much sure they can turn into “Switzerland of Asia”.

    Everyone must have the rights to safe guard their existence & future.

    I wish them prosperity, peace & best of luck for the new born Kashmir nation.

    They already have a new flag though (just in case you didn’t know).”

    1. @thewarlock
      The people who wrote these must be retarded.

      “Modern world runs on Caucasian beauty standards. Those who are not born with it are considered unattractive & so, face discrimination.”

      This is something that deeply bothers me. In education/success there is atleast some chance to persevere and win but what to do about beauty? I have had Bihari Brahmin guys say to my face that that they have fair/beautiful Caucasian features while Tamils are ugly(because they are not fair).

      I am not word/thought police and actually see where they are coming from but this Caucasian=Beautiful is a difficult idea to fight off. Life is a beauty pageant, and no matter how many anthropologists come up with nice stories about varying beauty standards, the world is converging on tall+petite+high_cheek_bone+fair(er) etc as ‘THE’ standard of beauty. I am not against discrimination, all I can’t agree with is discrimination/advantages on the basis of something that cannot be changed. Even the most sensible of my peers act differently around ‘beautiful’ people.

      1. ” I have had Bihari Brahmin guys say to my face that that they have fair/beautiful Caucasian features while Tamils are ugly(because they are not fair).”

        Sometimes I realize generalization is the silliest thing that exists in this quasi-civilized world. There is a fair share of beautiful Tamil people and not so beautiful Bihari Brahmins.

        1. re: physical appearance. the preference for west asian features and lighter skin is pretty obv and widespread. I’ve heard way more bengalis and tamils say proudly they look Punjabi (some do) than Punjabis say they look Tamil (some do).

          that being said, these things change quickly. early ottomans and mughals still had canons of beauty that gave a nod to their east Asian antecedents, though that east Asian ancestry disappeared soon enough. some paintings of Akbar depict east Asian features

          http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2046285_2045996_2046303,00.html

          my personal experience is many bengalis are awkward and ambivalent about their east Asian features. partly because we are not ‘woke’ to it and don’t embrace it. but in the west i have heard white guys say that the softer east Asian cast of some bengali women’s features is ‘exotic’ and more attractive to them than the ‘beaky’ big-nosed Iranian lighter-skinned look (i mean it’s not hard to find white women in the west so why would it be a big deal if you have tan skin?).

          1. there was an indian american guju i knew who had curly hair and ppl thought he was south Indian. he was actually quite proud of it cuz he thought southies were smarter and more accomplished. his fobbish relatives didn’t understand his attitude cuz they were like “bro, ppl are negging you.”

          2. “some paintings of Akbar depict east Asian features”

            akbar probably had east asian features. he was a full blooded chughtai turk after all. however, some of these paintings should be understood with a bit of caution. paintings from Il-khanate period depict even the early islamic figures from arabia with east asian features (a function of chinese artists employed by mongols drawing them).

          3. The fact is most Bengalis don’t know about our genetic background. They still associate Bengal as a melting pot thus muslim Bengalis are a mix of native Aryan, Dravidian; Arabs, Persian, Pathans; Mughal, Turkic; and various Sino Tibetan and Austroasiatic tribes. Some even believe there is British and Portuguese admixture as well.

            “but in the west i have heard white guys say that the softer east Asian cast of some bengali women’s features is ‘exotic’ and more attractive to them than the ‘beaky’ big-nosed Iranian lighter-skinned look”

            East Asian influence in some Bengalis is a bit tricky, I’ve seen some person got benefitted by those traits and some not. For example, flat nose(Bocha nak) is not considered beautiful in Bangladesh, but pointy nose is(Tikalo nak). Sometimes east Asian influence in Bengalis acts like native American influence in white Americans, for example I can see some phenotypic similarities between wrestler Rhonda Rousey:
            https://www.biography.com/.image/t_share/MTMyMzgwOTY2MTc3MDA5NjM0/ronda_rousey_shutterstock_265855841_croppedjpg.jpg
            and B’deshi actress Richi Solaiman:
            https://biographybd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Richi-Solaiman.gif
            I know two German guys both married Bangladeshi women when they went on business trips to BD. Both women have a robust feature (square-ish face, strong cheekbones, thin lips, short and narrow nose, one of them has a cleft chin) with brown skin. So white people have their range of tastes for traits, but they are attracted to darker skin for sure.

      2. “the world is converging on tall+petite+high_cheek_bone+fair(er) etc as ‘THE’ standard of beauty.”

        Are you sure this is the case everywhere?
        Most Americans seem to be obsessed with Jeniffer Lopez or Idris Elba.
        Dev Patel is considered ‘hot’. He would most likely not get a second look in Bollywood.

        May be the west has evolved a different ideal of beauty.

        “I am not word/thought police and actually see where they are coming from but this Caucasian=Beautiful is a difficult idea to fight off.”

        This is what they exactly want you to think. Give up without trying. Lol.

        May be if India was rich with disposable income and a dating free market then most women wouldn’t swell like buffaloes by the time they were 30, have droopy eyes, and wrinkly faces. They might even have serious hobbies or cultivate a personality.
        (Same can be said of men)

        Even most people from “Caucasian” ethnicities in the north-west are like that unless they are blessed with a good metabolism.

        I’ve met a few PIO south Indian women in Bangalore and you can see how stark the difference is between them and the natives.

        Just look at Seema Verma, who was discussed earlier on this blog. She is 49. Do you think 99% of upper caste middle class north Indian women will remotely be as presentable even when they are 30?

        There is an argument to be made, though, that individual beauty is not very valuable and not worth the cost of free dating at the cost of familial stability. The west is grappling with these issues.

        1. Personally, I find medium brown skinned indian-looking women to be the most attractive type of women. i read somewhere that ppl in general are physically more attracted to ppl who look similar to them.
          I dont find full-caucasoid phenotypes that attractive.

          But i think “light brown”/fair skin is considered the most attractive skin colour throughout the world

        2. @Prats
          “Are you sure this is the case everywhere?”

          Not really. I might be wrong.

          “Most Americans seem to be obsessed with Jeniffer Lopez or Idris Elba. Dev Patel is considered ‘hot’. He would most likely not get a second look in Bollywood.”

          These guys are celebs or are just singularly ‘beautiful’/ talented/famous/charming and I consider them exceptional cases. I might be proven wrong but (currently)I have little knowledge/leverage/interest in Americans so I am OK with whatever they do.

          “May be the west has evolved a different ideal of beauty.”
          I want to believe this but my gut tells me it is not.

          “This is what they exactly want you to think. Give up without trying. Lol.”

          I see that ads/mass-media etc does shift how we think and I have not hopelessly given up either. All I am implying is that it is just easier for some folks and very difficult for others. And we as Indians cannot deny this exists with all the fairness products, imported European bollywood actresses, and endless matrimonial ads asking for “tall, fair, … bride”. It is hardwired into even the most sensible people. There is just too much evidence to support this all around us especially in India.

          “May be if India was rich with disposable income and a dating free market then most women wouldn’t swell like buffaloes by the time they were 30, have droopy eyes, and wrinkly faces. They might even have serious hobbies or cultivate a personality.
          (Same can be said of men)”

          I wish this happens. Possible but highly unlikely.

          “Even most people from “Caucasian” ethnicities in the north-west are like that unless they are blessed with a good metabolism.”

          True so many Americans are obscenely obese. But maybe they are not very rich or are under stress, I really don’t understand why they neglect health so badly.

          “I’ve met a few PIO south Indian women in Bangalore and you can see how stark the difference is between them and the natives.”

          Money does that. One of my seniors here got a starting salary of $220,000 a year in software. Within six months she was unrecognizable from her unkempt self. But my sample size so far is small so can’t say for sure.

          “Just look at Seema Verma, who was discussed earlier on this blog. She is 49. Do you think 99% of upper caste middle class north Indian women will remotely be as presentable even when they are 30?”

          No

          “There is an argument to be made, though, that individual beauty is not very valuable and not worth the cost of free dating at the cost of familial stability. The west is grappling with these issues.”

          It would be great if this happens but I don’t think it would. I am no expert in this area but there is a very clear noticeable bias in people. My fairer skinned female acquaintances have been married to more successful/rich spouses more often than the normal ones (somewhat similar case for guys too).

          Finally, I have done quite well with what I have and am certainly not obsessed/bothered/whining about this other than when people are being racist. I am unable to properly articulate but there is something very visceral (natural or man-made?) going on when it comes to ‘beauty’ preferences favoring Caucasians and this most certainly is not a level field.

          1. ~2010 Americans went from being a “breast” to “booty.” and to not put too fine a point on it, northern Europeans are not known for their butts

    2. Who wrote this drivel? INDTHINGS? (I think the general consensus around here is that Kabir wouldn’t be capable of it, right? 😉)

  23. here is my take on the personalities of two of the intellectual giants 😉 of this blog

    kabir – an authenticate liberal voice. he truly believes the world is full of nice people and humanity will benefit if we can all be a little bit more sensitive to each others views. he genuinely wants to be friends with Indians and hindus, but only with the woolly headed liberal crowd of his own type. like any decent and honorable person, he feels it’s his duty to defend his culture and his pedigree. so as a person of pakistani decent he is forced to parrot the official pakistani narrative, however loony it may sound.

    and there is some grain of truth is razib’s main barb at him, i.e., he needs just a little bit more grey matter in the head. far too often he misses the ironies and contractions of his own arguments. at time he misses the sarcasm directed at him.. though of course that makes him even more endearing.

    razib – if there is one phrase that accurately describes him, it will be – a wannabe salman rushdie. he is obviously smart enough to know that the world is a harsh place where only the strong survive. (but is he a fascist? – no, i don’t think so. he would be a borderline fascist if he were a white american, but his upbringing as a brown person in a white country ensures against that possibility forever).

    his problem is that though he is smart, he is not genius level smart. he has read tons of books, but authored none. he feels out of place in a machismo driven country that values physical prowess, and to a lesser extent money making skills far more over idle intellectual gossiping.

    moreover, he is not original. he has bullshitted islam and muhammad umpteen times in the past, but that failed to bring him much fame (lots of people in this country bullshit islam. whats new?) he tries his hands at becoming an internet influencer by producing blogs and podcasts, but attracts only medicore IQ commenters. he lashes out in frustration calling everyone on this blog stupid, but fails to raise the intellectual level of his followers. but he plods along…and so do we.

    lets see if this comment gets posted 😉

    1. Razib vs. Kabir feels like a Conor McGregor vs. Khabib fight, only in this case McGregor wins

      How do you assess the IQ of the posters and their comments oh genius one?

      “(but is he a fascist? – no, i don’t think so. he would be a borderline fascist if he were a white american, but his upbringing as a brown person in a white country ensures against that possibility forever).”

      just lmfao

      1. “How do you assess the IQ of the posters and their comments oh genius one?”

        you are mistaken. i am the original commenter who was bemoaned by razib for lacking sufficient IQ to comment on his blog.

        as someone who has seen far too many high IQ individuals getting bogged down in a mediocre life, i know it counts for nothing. what matters is the grit, the perseverance, the resolve, or call it whatever.

        1. your IQ is high enough that other factors come into play. if you were sub-100 you would see it counts for something, but then you would be so dumb you wouldn’t realize you are dumb.

        2. IQ is a short hand for critical thinking. Yes, just getting a high IQ number gets you nowhere but no amount of grit/perseverance can make up for raw intellectual power for abstraction.

          It’s like playing guitar vs. Piano or violin. Yes, guitar can bring you fame but both pianists and violinists can pick up guitar faster than the other way around. There’s no need to disdain the skills that go with the territory.

          1. I was told that IQ, Orderliness and Tenacity in that order are the markers of success in life.

            Now that we are on IQ, are Indian scores really that bad?
            https://brainstats.com/average-iq-by-country.html

            I am not interested in genetic/social explanations for what is happening (epigenetics type ideas are fair game) or racism/casteism stuff. Only need suggestions/ideas on how to improve what we have.

            1) What amount of difference can be covered via a good diet (Indian/Bangladeshi children are horribly malnourished) Would increasing meat consumption help?

            2) What else can be done (other than diet) to boost IQ scores in India (South Asia for touchy people). If boosting is not possible how else can we cheat the game set so much against us at birth? How can the underdog win? Marrying foreigners (seen many Israelis in Tosh, Himanchal Pradeh marry their yoga instructors/Homestay host) is fair game, poaching some talent from Myanmmar, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, African countries? Trying harder to retain our talent, attract diaspora’s talent back?

    2. your comment is amusing.

      tldr; the more popular the blog gets, the stupider the comments get. that’s because most people are stupid. i’m not frustrated, i anticipate it. verbally abusing kabir sends a message to all the other stupid people reading (i could just not post the comments).

      chill on the psychoanalyzing in the future or I’ll just put you on the proscription list. you are free to your thoughts, but since it’s mostly uninformed bullshit no point in propogating it, and i’m not going to waste my time and talking about myself 😉

      i run this blog mostly to get a sense of what Indians think (those living in India). it’s important. though they often stupid, i do find them to be less jaded, cynical, and annoying than a lot of Americans…

      1. “chill on the psychoanalyzing in the future or I’ll just put you on the proscription list.”

        that will be…umm…problematic. 🙂

    3. @Scorpion Eater,
      Valiant attempt at making the comment thread more interesting with the set up of contrasts.
      But I think you are misreading Razib. This is not Batman vs. Joker, this is like Gandalf vs. Worm tongue (or orc? unfortunately King of Rohan went missing…).

      Also, the whole point on IQ is moot as it seems to me the indicators of IQ aren’t even being recognized accurately. (e.g., authoring a book?!)

      1. kabir says legitimate stuff now and then that i agree with. his core moderate-left views are not crazy or even non-mainstream.

        but, he’s been conditioned to be a woketard. he reminds me of born-agains or salafis who can’t understand that not everyone has their presuppositions/beliefs and keeps being the school monitor. i have posited reasons for why he continues to behave this way and has so little self-awareness (e.g., demanding sensitivity toward Islam, while earlier being contemptuous of Hindu gods, etc.).

        he says that it’s “problematic” like kids i grew up say “that’s a sin”. no one gives a shit.

        there are clearly some stupid hindus who are very similar. look at {{{chaterjee}}}’s dumb stuff. so i give him some slack on some threads. but this is not one where i am inclined to. he seems to be behaving too!

  24. Muslims have only one authentic culture and that is Arabic. Everything else is just some compromise, which tends to become more Arabic over time.

    btw, this comment is one that many Arab salafis would agree with. the reality is there’s no empirical evidence that aligns with this. in many ways Iranians ‘captured’ Islam in the 9th century and never gave it back in the north and east of the Muslim world

  25. “i’m american, so i think conversion is fine. encourages competition 🙂 ”

    I think Indians of yesteryear, evolved a similar outlook, well before Islam was born. And this philosophy has served us well in general. This might be ignorance or even hubris, but Indian culture in general seems richer and more sophisticated than those of single religion societies elsewhere.

    “but yes, islam is a one-way street traditionally.”

    Looking at the diversity amongst Muslims in the core Muslim areas (Sunni, Ismaili, Druze, legal schools), I think there were efforts to broaden the ambit of Islam as much as possible. The extreme rigidity seems to be a more modern phenomenon, and has predictably lead to violence and destruction.

    “i do find it plausible that some liminal-islamish groups in india ‘become hindu’ again with polarization.”

    I would think the appeal of strict adherence to pre-modern communities (caste, religion) will diminish in general as more modern forms take hold (college, profession, city). Dont expect Islam to be an exception here.

  26. Just to make my reference on this blog…

    I usually contributed with comments based on common Euro-SA history or some common contemporary issues (islam, culture, western world). I believe that all with IQ>their shoes sizes, are aware that world history in some periods is heavily falsified.

    To the credit to this site, here was firstly (in English, I guess) published that Aryans were Serbs. Hardly anyone can state something different simply because there are no other candidates. Though, there are still psychological barriers to accept this fact and many alternative terms are used (East Europeans, Slavic, steppe, west Eurasian, etc). Yes, we still have OIT proponents here considering that it was heavily invested in this for many years and this inertia cannot be simply ignored.

    There are many topics which were open or questioned here. For example, the general pundits’ perception of ‘ancient’ world (Europe) is so naïve but, it is understandable considering that tons of books were written about this topic not allowing any alternative view. In last two days I presented many facts which can be summarised in a sentence that there were 18 Serbian emperors before the fall of the West Roman Empire and 40 Roman emperors in total. This is a huge statement but none, not only here, tried to negate or discuss this. This fact will remain here for a record and at some point, in the future, new researchers will revisit BP site to assess what was written. Currently, it is not allowed by official history that even one legionnaire was a Serb, not speaking about emperors, because it would crash the whole world history with a domino effect.

    As a preview, very soon will be presented facts about Alexander the Great. Last year, some BP readers were jumping up and down, when was mentioned that he was a Serb, too. Interestingly, many writers understandably avoid labelling him as a Greek and his soldiers as Greeks, but they also avoid saying who was he.

    Because, it is another credit to BP for constantly pushing further the envelope. The existence of Aryans is already a common thing on this blog, the next step will be that their origin become a mainstream. BP readers only should fasten their belts in worldwide isolations and to stay tuned for more…

    1. “This is a huge statement but none, not only here, tried to negate or discuss this.”

      Atleast I have no clue about any of this Serbian history and don’t know anything relevant to add/contribute/talk about.

      1. Fair enough. That was actually my point. You could not read somewhere else but you could do here. That is the quality of this site. Hypothetically, if soon only one of many my assertion is confirmed by so-called ‘mainstream’, it will mean that BP was the first site in the world which discovered/presented this fact and forced historians to write new world history.

        However, this is not only a Serbian history. I mentioned many things related to Christianity (Constantine, cross, etc), before about Aryans, soon about Alexander the Great. Roman Empire is not only a Serbian history, although the Serbia is de-facto Empire’s legal successor. You should decide what you will do. DO nothing as the most or try to do some research by yourself. You can ask questions or try to find discrepancies in the official version. In many cases, just common sense is sufficient. If there are for e.g. thousands of Serbian toponyms in South Asia (and no any others!), what is a common sense conclusion?

        I know that Razib as usually will avoid answering the question but would be interesting (considering that he referred The Final Pagan Generation book) to hear his impression (not research, neither previous education nor readings) about Serbian Roman Emperors. Possible or not? It is fantastic, isn’t it?
        Stay cool!

    2. Frankly I dont have enough knowledge on subject to comment. But I do read the comments you make.

      On a lighter note, I feel all of us are partly serbian after reading them. Also reminds me of BBC TV series Goodness gracious me with its punchline ‘ because he is Indian’ substituted by ‘because he is Serbian’
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjWd9a8Ck8U

      1. No one has enough knowledge. The most – not any knowledge at all. But the point is to switch on the brain and critically read every text. Trust no one. For example, do you know that Spartacus was a Serb, too (just saw a picture of Kirk Douglas who acted him in his movie). Many are probably surprised with Atilla. Should I say (this is only for you in strict confidence), that, for example, Dracula (real name Vladislav Zmajevic) was a Serb, too. And, emperor Justinian who built Aya Sophia (born in poor Serbian village). Can you imagine the extent of historical falsifications?

        Anyway, if you are unsure, go back and reread the text about Tagore’s visit to Belgrade. His granddaughter, Alokananda, studied Serbian language for 30 years and found that Serbian and Bengali are the most similar to Sanskrit (modern Serbian 20% identical and 11% very similar).
        Cheers!

  27. “After all, mixed race kids incline to their ‘exotic’ side.”

    In the case of my mixed race kids, my daughter has a very serious boyfriend who is whiter than white. My son has had several serious girlfriends none with ancestry from the same continent or sub-continent. There is no way to predict it.

    1. In the case of my mixed race kids, my daughter has a very serious boyfriend who is whiter than white
      I have quite a few cousins, years ago off the boat, very very dark to black. All married very white.

      My bet is that my niece, very dark who grew up in SL is going to marry somebody white. She is about 21 now in a UK Uni.

  28. Can someone please give me reliable online sources from where i can find all the Vedas(Holy book) with translation and transliteration? Thank you

  29. Can someone please give me reliable online sources from where i can find all the Vedas(Holy book) with translation and transliteration? Thank you

    Btw Serbs are the most authentic Indians

    1. Do you know what was the previous name of the river Ind?
      Or, do you know where the continent Asia got its name from, i.e. the meaning of ‘Asia’ (I already asked this before but did not get the answer)?

      1. Ind is from Sindhu which means river (or huge body of water)
        which means we don’t know its prior (harappan) name

  30. I have to say the title is a little clickbaity, and when that happens the ratio of stupid trolling comments to nice ones goes up. Because no matter how much one disambiguates the term “Indian” or “authentic”, there will be people hell bent on chasing after the connotation they are most offended by – and fighting fellow offence-takers on who has the right to take/advertise more offence at it. If nothing else, makes for fun reading of the comments.

    My only comment would be that making a statement about (suitably defined) “authenticity” is fine. Say A is a more authentic member of some arbitrary group than B. But the question for Razib is whether he gives any moral ontology to this “authenticity” metric?

    I presume he doesn’t. It seems Razib’s category is a mere description of stuff one has no control over. Like one’s parents – good to know them, but almost pointless knowledge because you can’t change them. In any case I’d like to know if that’s what he thinks too?

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