What is indigenous about Indian civilization?

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The curry to the right contains potatoes, tomatoes, and chili pepper. All of these are features of Indian cuisine from the last 500 years, as they are New World crops. Unsurprisingly, they were often brought by the Portuguese and spread out from Goa. But, at this point, it’s hard to deny these have been thoroughly indigenized. So this brings me to some questions I have for readers (non-troll answers only, I may start banning people who answer unseriously, since I’m very busy this week and don’t want to waste time with drivel):

  1. What are Hindus proud of in regards to the achievements of Indian civilization? I’m not talking about Hindu nationalist pseudohistory (genetic engineering in the Vedic age). To give an example: Buddhism is an Indian religion that exported Indian ideas and philosophical systems across much of the world.
  2. What is North Indian Hindu culture (“Hindi-belt”) without Islamicate influence?
  3. Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization?
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204 Replies to “What is indigenous about Indian civilization?”

  1. I would say the following:

    1) Epics (Ramayan, Mahabharata, and there are South Indian ones as well), classical dance forms and music (Carnatic and Hindustani), Ayurveda, Yoga, ancient contributions to math and science, having an advanced ancient civilization (Indus Valley), jewelry (for us women, this is actually a point of pride. We have gorgeous jewelry in the Indian subcontinent that, for me, is unrivaled), textiles, and I’m sure there are more I am not accounting for. Also, religions originating from the subcontinent seem to be more universally accepting of those from other religions. That may not be the case in practice but at least in theory it should be (Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vedanti).

    2) I think it’s too difficult to separate and we shouldn’t have to. Its unique to the subcontinent and isn’t any less Indian than the other cultures, to me. North Indian Islamicate culture is equal parts Indian and foreign (or maybe more Indian and less foreign). When people say mughlai food is really Persian, it’s almost as if they’ve never had Persian food. There may be very basic similarities (rice grain, use of meat), but the flavors are very different. I think that’s the case for most of North Indian culture as it is in its current form. The base is some fusion of central Asian and Persian and Indian, but the layers are very Indian. Or for Kathak, the base is Indian, the layers are mostly Indian with some Persian and Turkic influences.

    3) No, not in its current form. See above.

    1. “When people say Mughlai food is really Persian…”

      Persian? No one says it is Persian. The word “Mughal” means Mongol. Mughlai food has origins in “Turko-Mongol” food from Central Asia, which was completely altered and changed by the culinary traditions of the subcontinent, when it was exposed to the native NW Indian cuisines and the cuisines of the Awadh region. Not a single dish in Mughlai cuisine has a parallel in Iranian cuisine. The Mughals followed parts of Persian culture, but they were far from Persian themselves. They were Mongols/Turkics who looked like current-day Mongolians.

      Also, even the cuisine of Central Asia, where the Mughals came from, is completely different in taste and ingredients used when compared to Mughlai cuisine. The only similarities that remain are in certain methods of cooking that were adopted from Central Asia. It is now a completely “Indian” way of cooking.

      1. That was exactly my point. Lol. But yes, a lot of people do refer to Mughals and mughlai cuisine as Persian because they confuse persianized Turkic Mongol people with Persians. But yes, that was exactly my point, there are no parallels outside of the Indian subcontinent. It is Indian with some very basic components that may be foreign.

        1. I recently dined at an uzbek restaurant – tried their naan and version of biryani. The people at the restaurant were fine folks, but my god the food is not even on the same planet as what you’d get on the subcontinent.

          Our big contribution to global cuisine is PEPPER! We’re on every table in the world! Every malayalee knows this!

          1. Maybe it would be more correct to say that pepper is the world´s contribuition to indian cuisine…. Chili pepper (genus Capsicum) originated in the Americas and has been cultivated and consumed there for millenia now, and transplanted to India by the portuguese. There is a huge variety of regional cuisines in Mexico and South America that made abundant use of pepper, from Mexico to Brazil. Of course, none of this detracts indian cuisine´s creative utilizations of pepper to make vibrant and tasty dishes.

          2. Mohan is talking about black pepper, and before that, long pepper.

            “It is remarkable that the use of pepper has come so much into favour, as in the case of some commodities their sweet taste has been an attraction, and in others their appearance, but pepper has nothing to recommend it in either fruit or berry. To think that its only pleasing quality is pungency and that we go all the way to India to get this! Who was the first person who was willing to try it on his viands, or in his greed for an appetite was not content merely to be hungry?”
            -Pliny the Elder

      2. The Mughals followed parts of Persian culture, but they were far from Persian themselves. They were Mongols/Turkics who looked like current-day Mongolians.

        this is false. please don’t talk about things you don’t know about. they were already mixed with the milieu of central asia. babur’s maternal side did have strong mongol cultural background, and even akbar retained east asian features. but they were already quite mixed (and as timurids they were far more turkic than mongolic)

        1. Sorry, I was just going off Wikipedia. I’m sure that apart from Mongol and Turkic ancestry, the Mughals must’ve had additional genetic contributions from their milieu in Central Asia. I do not know what other contributions Babur had to his gene pool (they are not listed in any sources I found), but I did read that he was a Turco-Mongol and claimed descent from Genghis Khan maternally. He also had an epicanthic fold, based off his portraits/depictions, so he definitely looked East Asian. Also, you are correct that Mughal emperors had East Asian features at least up until Akbar, when they started marrying Hindu Indo-Aryan royalty. Shah Jahan for instance, had a Hindu Indo-Aryan mother and Grandmother. They were from Rajput clans in Rajasthan.

  2. Answer 1 : Mathematical contributions, Religious and Spiritual movements, Arts including dancing and singing, Buddhism obviously , Freedom of expression ( khajurao temples) , books on topics ranging from culture , politics, religion , sexual practices etc.
    Caste ( joking) , Cultural integration of land through pithams. That’s the extent to my knowledge so i would say maybe even more.

    Answer 2: I really don’t know. The culture of North India has Islamicate influences in the cities that were ruled by Delhi sultans and to then Mughals. In villages however the situation is different , Agrarian society with Caste structure. The major loss ( or gain for some) will be new food and its preparation from persian and mughal styles diffused into Indian Techniques and styles.

    Answer 3 : Take the good Poetry, arts and crafts , language etc. Reclaim the bad parts like temples ( some main ones) but only after discussion and mutual consent from both Communities and never by violence. Yes we can detach because certain Muslims( desendants of mughals , persins ,afghans whatever) are small population of India. The preservation of their culture is upto them or to the state of pakistan that is Proud of Invading Culture. The upper class of UP created Pakistan. Memory of Mughals will die among masses soon.

    1. “Pakistan is proud of invading culture”

      I know, who can be proud of a civilization that was birthed from the subjugation of their ancestors by foreigners? Look how Indians were characterized by these invaders, condemned for their dark skin and infidel ways.

      “Day after day far from their seat he (Indra) drove them, alike, from place to place, those darksome creatures.”.

      “The foolish, faithless, rudely-speaking niggards, without belief or sacrifice or worship,- Far far sway hath Agni chased those Dasytis”

      Oops I seem to have accidentally quoted the Vedas, where Aryans are describing their conquest of the native Indus people when they arrived in Punjab.

      1. At least 1 out of 5 are indra gotra at least 🙂

        But yes I thought same thing. Best riposte is that most stuff in hinduism isn’t Aryan. Which I think is true tho debatable

        1. I recall us discussing this before.

          No doubt most of Hinduism is drawn from sources outside of the Vedas. Though the same is true of Islam visavis the Quran. So this alone doesn’t mean much, as obviously Islam without the Quran is nothing. The Vedas don’t play that central of a role in Hinduism, but they are important, and for a long time, recognition of their authority was what separated a Hindu from a Buddhist (or various heretical sects that were condemned by most Hindus).

          Its a moot point however, as this stuff doesn’t go away. The same language is found in the Mahbharata, Ramanyana, Puranas, etc. The location just changes. Instead of describing Punjabis as ugly, darksome infidels, its people in South India who are given this label.

          Though Punjabis and Sindhis are still called mlecchas in the later literature, so not much has changed from then to today.

        1. Indthing seems like a reasonably smart person who dispenses with common sense to win internet points.

          Still better than other ‘Indus people’ proponents. Who are deluded enough to seriously believe it.

  3. Tantric yoga/sex and Kama Sutra? I’m being serious. I’m not aware of any other civilization that wrote a manual about sex and pleasure. I could be wrong.

    1. Kama sutra (written by a brahmachari, apparently vatsayana was one) gives tips and tricks as to how to attract women of other castes for liaisons (!).

      Given this manual on how attract women of any kind and how to keep those liaisons a secret, the caste endogamy observed is really really surprising.

      1. Not sure if you read Kama Sutra, not the same league from what was presented in the linked book.

        Half of Kama Sutra was about how to attract a desirable woman by charm, wit and psychology. Very useful for today’s incels too.

        1. I was aware of the Kama Sutra, but have never looked into it before, it seems very comprehensive…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kama_Sutra#Contents

          It is kind of hard to believe Indian culture produced this text given how puritanical modern Indians are.

          Its pre-Gupta based on Wikipedia, which explains the lack of caste-rigidity. Someone can correct me if I am wrong but the jatis bacame strictly endogamous post Gupta era.

          1. Within the book there is reference to “Kula sthri” and selection of wife. The book implies that there is caste endogamy and it is strictly followed.

  4. My parents are immigrants, so we tend to represent an old patrician view/culture that is frozen in time. I’m sure there are elements that are still resonant.

    The Yajurveda onwards: If the Rig Veda is chariot frat bros asking the Gods for tendies, the Yajurveda introduces a series of philosophical frameworks that echo forward in different traditions: (1) the chariot analogy from the Katha Upanishad that shows up in Plato, (2) the idea that freedom and truth are found through extrication of identification with the senses, emotions, and the mind, (3) the concept of a divine actor within you that can shape rather than be shaped by the world

    Contribution to Mathematics: Yeah the writing system, but also number theory, abstract algebra, the mathematical treatment of infinity. Indian math was insanely imaginative, if not very rigorous, and although the torch gets passed to the other children of the Sintashta in Central Asia, some of the core concepts of mathematical abstraction originate in India.

    Buddhism. Razib’s already mentioned it, but Buddhism takes a philosophy limited to the elite spheres of society and makes it available and rigorous for all. It grows into beautiful syncretic forms with Chinese Taoism (Chan), Japanese Bushido (Zen), and Central Asian engineering culture.

    Virtuoso Culture. If the European cultural milestone is the symphony, a thousands instruments playing in concert together, the Indian equivalent is the virtuoso musician — improvisational, emotive, and singing in perfect pitch rather than a well tempered scale. It’s a culture that strongly values the lone brilliant genius creator, performer, and thinker. This concept of excellence for its own sake is certainly not only Indian, but a kind of cultural imperative in the way we were raised.

    A Safe Haven. The Parsis, Tibetan Buddhists, Jews, and others who were persecuted came in and were embraced (or so the narrative goes). There is a sense that Indian exceptionalism is founded in this openness and valor for others. My uncle and my wife’s grandfather fought in a war (1971) to end a genocide, decorated for valor by the same Parsi general. You could make the argument that my service in Afghanistan faced the same enemy.

    Engineering culture. Sintashta and IVC were both strong engineering cultures and this echoes in a tradition of industry, both in India (before Indira Gandhi destroyed many of their businesses in the name of socialism) and in the US in Silicon Valley. Far more than money, we value creativity, brilliance, and the drive to build.

    Also, full disclosure, we’re from the south (my wife’s family is Sikh, however, and quite similar in sensibilities) and our ancestors were never really out of power, so I can’t really speak to the North Indian experience of subjugation.

  5. I would add Metallurgy to the list. Without our storied tradition of Metallurgy, there would be no Steel, Zinc, Bronze, Iron etc. We were always at the forefront of Metallurgical advancements.

    Surgery and medicine is another big one. The ancient Hindus made seminal contributions to surgery and medicine that shaped the entire field forever. Astronomy and Mathematics are obviously other fields that we contributed to, in addition to philosophy, a democratic system of government (predates the Greeks), shipbuilding/dry docks, furnaces, the first planned cities, a standardized system of measurement/the first weights/rulers, the first toilets and sewage systems, the first bricks and ovens and the plough as well. Textiles were already mentioned, but we can add dyes to the list too.

    I’m sure others can add the contributions to chemistry and physics as well.

      1. A highly corrupted tribal system based on enormous number of slaves, we now call democracy (Athens) vs. meritocracy system (Sparta).
        The oldest metallurgy – Vincha.
        I am glad and I agree that Aryans (and everything they brought) are considered indigenous in India.

      2. I found a bunch of sources regarding this.

        Here is a short excerpt:

        “One of the earliest instances of democracy in a civilization was found in republics in ancient India, which were established sometime before the 6th century BC, and prior to the birth of Gautama Buddha. These republics were known as Maha Janapadas, and among these states, Vaishali (in what is now Bihar, India) was the world’s first republic. The democratic Sangha, Gana and Panchayat systems were used in some of these republics; the Panchayat system is still used today in Indian villages. Later during the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, the Greeks wrote about the Sabarcae and Sambastai states in what is now Pakistan and Afghanistan, whose “form of government was democratic and not regal” according to Greek scholars at the time. Another example was Gopala’s rise to power by democratic election in Bengal, which was documented by the Tibetan historian Taranath.”

        This website has MUCH more detail on the democratic governments of India and the timeline of their development: https://uts.nipissingu.ca/muhlberger/HISTDEM/INDIADEM.HTM

  6. Some unique things that come to mind reading question 1. Not trolling but some humor content none the less

    – Bindu (colored dot on forehead), also called bindi or variation thereof (tilak). Providing inspiration to Dotbusters, Family guy and others.

    – Head nod. Using the third degree of rotational freedom as afforded by human head. Others have restricted it to 2 while saying yes and no.

    – Most extensive use of spices in terms of number of spices used and the ways in which they are used.

  7. Answer 1: Large scale stone civil works like tank building, irrigation, wells. and forts. Textiles. Metallurgy. Metal craft. Sacred art, mural work and sculpture. Wood craft and shipbuilding. Ornament, grooming, and perfumery. Musical instruments and vocal traditions.
    Like many others, the way our peoples adapted to and brought full expression to the land they lived on. The incredible diversity of crop cultivars and animal breeds. Epic poetry. The Mahabharata, Ramayana and also folklore. Our thousands of deities and shrines, and the associated narratives. Our household shrines, rituals, our way or worship. Political power and the ability to create large states, administrative practices, legal systems, armies and navies. Martials arts like malla yuddha, kushti, kalari ect.
    Answer 2: They still wear dhotis and sarees and stuff. Can only speak as an outsider, but my sense is that much of the overlay on hindustani culture (sartorially, manners, music) is persianate more than islamicate per se. I dont see them as arabized at all. Because greater Iran is the adjacent civilization, theres a sort of continuum trans-hindu kush, such that even if persians were not muslim and there were no colonisations, I would still expect a great deal of cultural exchange.
    Answer 3: I doubt this is possible without a complete reinvention. For all i know it may be impossible to untangle what is indian from the SE asian cultures, and perhaps even the culture of Afghanistan. The links are totally natural and what one would expect from neighbours.

  8. People who do whataboutery of “Aryan Invasion” genuinely don’t want Hindus to get over this so called invasion so that they can accommodate Muslims who are much more recent and whose barbaric wounds are not yet healed. Even if Aryan invasion happened it happened 4000 to 5000 years ago whereas Islamic invasion happened 400-500 years (at least in our part of India). If we want to then we can take the blame game all the way to pure homo sapiens of Africa.

    Coming to the original question, my favorite indian contributions are the numbers especially zero and negative numbers, sugar and yoga.

  9. What do Hindus have to be proud of

    Well I think the sophistication of the Hindu thought is under appreciated, even by Hindus themselves who often are English educated and looking at it through an Abrahamic lens.

    Many Hindus are slightly ashamed of the religion itself because the surface level stuff seems like rock worshipping from an Abrahamic POV.

    In attempting to synthesize folk Gods, Vedic ritualistism, and experiential non-duality into a cohesive whole I think the Hindus thinkers came up with the most credible concept of ‘God’.

    1) folk: the gods and goddesses as inspirational figments of consciousness
    2) Vedic: rituals as sadhanas to lead the mind to spiritual development and personal growth
    3) sramana: God as consciousness itself

    It’s hard to understand from a Hindu POV why 1) is so problematic to Abrahamic people if it involves graven images, which pre-literate cultures often would.

    (Note: there are different Hindu darshanas with very different views, I am oversimplifying Advaita here to make a point)

    1. Also I think Indian Buddhism came up with a non-theistic philosophy which is more complete in regards to post-modernist type deconstruction than anything I have come across in Western thought (madhyamaka).

      Western Philosophy I think maybe got stymied by Abrahamic assumptions (free will, Cartesian dualism, etc).

      Witggenstein, Derrida etc are kind of on the right track but late to the party and still incomplete in my view.

      Post-modern incompleteness is quite destructive, since it’s clung to as an absolute in counter to another absolute of modernism.

      The Buddhist concept of emptiness is itself empty and so the main practical use is just letting go of attachments. Conceptual categories like colour, gender are not demonized, can be useful, they are just viewed as lacking any ‘essence’.

  10. The religious dimension given to identify cultural aspects of India is recent in origin. The Hindu-Muslim divide was a British construct. India has been culturally and racially connected to Iran and Central Asia since time immemorial. We see the commonality in the DNA of ancient Indus people and Elamites derived from “Iranian hunter-gatherers”, and so were many aspects of culture between the two civilizations. The later Eurasian steppe DNA arrived in these regions and can be found in the India-CentralAsia-Iran-etc, not to mention the cultural similarities between the Avestan and Vedic Indo-Iranians. Centuries later, the Scythian, Parthian, Kushan, and White Hun invaders kept bringing Central Asian Iranic influences to northwest/north India. The more recent Iranianized Turko-Mughal invaders were simply the continuation of that regional interactions, they just happened to be Muslims. In every case, these newcomers influenced the region, but were eventually indigenized.

    1. The Hindu-Muslim divide was a British construct.

      this is 100% false. the kind of clever ‘fact’ learned in college by someone who doesn’t bother digging deeply.

      India has been culturally and racially connected to Iran and Central Asia since time immemorial.

      this is not really true. some connection went on, but historical indians and Iranians before Islam seem to have forgotten ancient aryan affinities. am i wrong here? is there record of indian brahmins recognizing iranian aryans as kini?

  11. “What is North Indian Hindu culture (“Hindi-belt”) without Islamicate influence?”

    Islamicate influence is more in the high culture /upper crust/urban. In the subaltern an entire world resides with almost less to no influence from Islam, while muslim influences are seen as “foreign” or exotic. Their Hindu influences (caste/rituals/festivals etc) dominate even the Muslim household (watch Kedarnath movie) . And this is the repository Hindutva is tapping into,and now it flows bottom up corrupting the Urban Indian. My urban friends who have never visited a temple seem mighty happy with Ram temple.

    So it depends are you posing to someone from “India” or “Bharat”

    “Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization?”

    Feasible or not , it can’t be done. Just like even during the most Nehruvian times, “Hindu” influences couldn’t be totally removed, similar Islamicate influences cannot be removed. There is point at which its redundant , when “Islamicate” inputs have morphed into Hindu influences, at least as seen by the people. Example being Classical dance where is entirely seen as
    “Hindu” despite its muslim inputs. The opposite is true is of Urdu which is to be completely rejected.

  12. Question1: I guess this is more of a Rorschach test. Omitting some oft repeated ones above, I’d say:

    Upanishad’s, positional number system, systematic grammar (paNini, predecessors and successors), predictive “algorithmic” astronomy, the richness and diversity of philosophical systems, and belief systems, vrittas** (poetry meters/prosody), infinite series and possibly pre-calculus, and richness of inherited stories via puranas/epics/panchatantra etc.

    **vrittas: btw this is amazingly rich if you have not looked at it. I had to study them in school. There are Chhandas (syllabic meters… as found in Vedas), and quantitative verses (with fixed number of morae, i.e. total “length” of a verse counted by adding short syllables as 1 and long as 2); The quantitative verses were the reason for the study of Fibonacci numbers. But the richsest variety is in yet another form, called varna-vritta (or just vritta), in which each verse is in a fixed pattern of short and long syllables (which, in sanskrit, are exactly 1:2 ratio in spoken length).

  13. Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization?

    No. Islamicate culture is a massive part of Indian civilization and Indian culture. Even among Hindus.

    But I recall there were some half joking derisive comments when one of my family members went to the Haji Ali Dargah to offer some “chadars” after she got married a couple of years ago (she also went to a famous Hindu temple nearby).

    Maybe the overtly Islamic syncretic stuff like this will die out among Hindus.

    Less overt Islamicate culture will be subsumed to some degree. People already forget that samosas and Jalebis are Islamicate culture.

  14. Personally I find these things to be worth celebrating:

    1. Textiles: materials, designs, weaves. I didn’t realize how unique and diverse it is until international travels and how people tend to brag about their textiles for things Indians take for granted. (Be it cotton, silk or wool).

    2. Craftsmanship: others have mentioned jewelry, metallurgy and engineering, but at its basis it’s the craftsmanship from beads with micro perforations in IVC to today’s diamond polishing, sculpture, and textiles.

    3. Astronomy, time keeping, and related math: there is vast research in calendar systems (that is soli-lunar instead of strictly solar or strictly lunar) and emphasis on time keeping as all rituals needed strict timekeeping of when to start and when to end. Which needed very deliberate observations and long term record keeping because correction to precession was needed (and mentioned in surya Siddanta). Mahabharata had recorded occurrence of eclipses with note on location of different planets at the time of occurrence during Kurukshetra war. Ramayana has the same emphasis on noting planetary locations at the birth time of Rama.
    The numbers used to describe Yugas, Aukshinas, (in Mahabharata) and Mahasamudras, (in Ramayana) shows some understanding of really big numbers and possible usage of decimal systems ahead of others.

    4. Music and dance: the variety and diversity from traditional to folk. I am particularly stuck by differences and difficulty between western classical, Celtic, and Carnatic for violin, which is a borrowed (historically recently) instrument used in quite an Indian way to bring out uniquely Indian emotions in music.

  15. I would consider Indian music to be a spectacular contribution. It is on par, if not better, in certain aspects than western classical music. Unlike western classical music which focuses primarily on symphony, Indian classical music focuses on individual performance. There is very strong emphasis on memorizing songs. The concept of raga is does not exist in western music (I don’t think it is there in Mediterranean music either). I have a few friends who work in signal processing and automatic music generation and even they find automatic generation of ‘gamakas’ challenging. Since western classical is very ‘note’ based, it is somewhat easier to generate them automatically.

    I am somewhat unsurprised by other replies on this thread; all contributions listed are very “macho” (logic, metallurgy, math). I can go on and list unique contributions of poetry and dance that are Indian, but I am not sure if many people in BP have appetite for it. As always, please bring more “actual culture” (music, dance, performance arts) on BP instead of pure culture wars.

  16. 1. What are Hindus proud of in regards to the achievements of Indian civilization? I’m not talking about Hindu nationalist pseudohistory (genetic engineering in the Vedic age). To give an example: Buddhism is an Indian religion that exported Indian ideas and philosophical systems across much of the world.

    Ans 1. This question alone proves the point how academia has been slanted to make everything Hindu questionable & everything Buddhist Cool & Dandy but moving on the major contributions of North India is preservation of Language {Sanskrit} & Indic Culture.

    North India has constantly struggled & innovated {Emergence of Sikhism, Nath sampradaya & other regional innovations} to preserve prevailing ancient cultures. It was in this regions where language moved from Oral to written form, Kashmir was an important Buddhist & Shaivaite center with innovation in fields like performative arts {Abhinavgupta’s Rasa theory} etc.

    Oldest Harappan sites are from this region which shows how Indic civilization took it’s first steps. Looking at the kind of achievements of Harappan people shows how instrumental was this region in forging Indic traditions & making various advancements in many fields from dams to irrigation, canals, metallurgy, maths, buttons, chess, Yoga etc.

    It was in the North where both Saramanas & Vedics {Taxshila} learned to live side by side even though internal rivalries between them continued. In short the region was instrumental in shifting older tribal groups towards forming bigger & more successful states {considering how Harappans had trade relations with other great ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia}.

    ———————————————————————

    2. What is North Indian Hindu culture (“Hindi-belt”) without Islamicate influence?

    Ans 2. It is a strawman question since ans 1 already answers it i.e. if one sees continuation of ‘Indic culture’ from ancient times to modern times.

    Yes in modern North Indian culture Islamic empire has immensely contributed in many spheres of life but only after destroying a lot of what was existing before {e.g. Mathematics declined in the region but still flourished in South – Kerela School of Maths, Philosophical ideas shifted towards identities resulting in what gets termed as Bhakti culture & so on}. Importance of Rama, Cows etc. increased as that’s how natives forced Islamic rulers to accede to their demands. Hinduism along with some Saramana influences started to coalesce into one unit from a body of multiple distinct local traditions i.e. Shaivaites, Vaishnavites, Shaktism, Smartism etc. {Unifying Hinduism – Reference Book}

    What does not get enough acknowledgement though is how Indic literature has contributed immensely to the Islamic world from fables, Maths, sciences to theology the Indian contribution to Islamic culture were immense. I am not sure if there would have been a Islamic golden age without Greek, Persian & Indian contributions.

    ———————————————————————

    3. Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization?

    Ans 3. Yes & No.

    In terms of seeing Hinduism as a living tradition from ancient to modern age it is immensely helpful to see it as distinct tradition since it highlights the kinds of pressures it faced, the kinds of transformations it went through etc. as it is the only surviving ancient tradition of the world.

    In terms of differentiating ‘foreign’ influences from contemporary modern Indian life it would not make sense since many things which came to India got Indianized & embedded in Indian culture {Portugese – Tomatoes or Chinese – Tea or Islamic influences in music, arts etc.}

    The point is it depends upon subject, period & context whether influence can be detached or not.

  17. Not only are we the only pre Bronze age civilization that is still in existence and this should fill every Hindu’s heart with a deep sense of pride and gratitude towards our ancestors. There are some specific things that I am incredibly proud about which owe their existence to the Hindu civilization:

    1) There are lots of great teachings in the Vedas like “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti” – There are many paths to the one truth. In the age of Abrahamic religions dominating the Earth, where those who don’t follow one path are condemned to an eternity in hell, this ancient teaching from the Rig Veda goes far beyond even the secular teachings of Enlightenment. This teaching can help us move away from the absurd notion of ‘tolerance’ to a sense of ‘mutual self-respect’. There’s also “Vasudhaiva Kutumabakam” – the world is one family and “Satyameva Jayate” – truth alone triumphs.

    2) Apart from these great secular teachings in the Vedas, I believe the deepest truth and knowledge that is to be discovered is Advaita Vedanta. Not only has no other civilization ever discovered this highest form of knowledge, the incredible extent to which it is developed in the Upanishads and the pristine clarity with which it has been expounded by subsequent Gurus like Gaudapadacharya and Shankaracharya, make it the most valuable discovery/creation by any human being in my opinion. This is the crest jewel of Bharata.

    3) The Islamic influence on India is very superficial. It can only be seen in a few new dishes that Indians have incorporated and a variety of arts and dances. That is not what forms the backbone of a society. The backbone is the religion of the masses. And despite hundreds of years and dozens of invasions, Indians by and large follow Sanaatana Dharma. We still pray to the same deities that our ancestors did. We neither eat beef nor do we allow others to murder cows for money or for the sake of their taste buds. Moreover, we are the only continuing civilization in which large segments of people are vegetarian and are so morally evolved that they consider it a sin to murder an animal for their selfish reasons. This is also related to the only true religion of peace that has ever come into existence – Jainism – which is the most empathetic and the least selfish way of life that any religion ever propagated.

    4) We also gave the world Buddhism which is followed by more than 500 million people and which spread to so many areas without any violence. This unique form of spreading intellectual ideas via discussion is a uniquely Indian trait and has sadly not been followed by much of the world especially by the Abrahamic religions. The resurgence of Hinduism in the 8th century by Shankaracharya in India via debates is far more superior than the violence that is used by Abrahamic religions to get their point across. Moreover, in our tradition we debate the educated and the wise of another community rather than producing retards like Zakir Naik or a Mother Teresa who would only convert people through monetary incentives. We believe in spreading in idea based solely on its merit rather than using money or violence to spread it.

    5) Ancient Indians were some of the greatest mathematicians and scientists the world has ever seen. Right from the development of the Indian numeral system which later went to Europe and became the Arabic numerals, the invention of algebra (https://twitter.com/TIinExile/status/1210050873436434433), various developments in astronomy, number theory and calculus from Aryabhatta, Bhramagupta, Pingala, Bhaskaracharya and the like – the ground on which post Enlightenment European sciences developed, was laid in large part by Hindus. Also the most advanced medicinal systems of the time was developed by Charaka and Sushruta who invented Surgery and a large number of other techniques and medicines that are still being used in modern medicine, more than a 1000 years after their discovery.

    1. Not only are we the only pre Bronze age civilization that is still in existence and this should fill every Hindu’s heart with a deep sense of pride and gratitude towards our ancestors.

      how is this true? i reject this characterization until specificity is given.

      1. I thought that linga puja was pre Bronze Age? Also the cultural continuity of IVC dancing girl bangles with lambada community and Rajasthani communities?

        Same with pasupati motif if IVC with bull vehicle of siva? In general, isn’t the understanding that saivism and shaktism (even tantra) are pre-Vedic (and so, pre Bronze Age).

        Is this disputed?

          1. Maybe my ignorance but isn’t Meghgarh and IVC culturally continuous?
            Also, Is there greater evidence that linga puja came about in IVC and not continuous from pre-IVC?

      2. I thought this was well accepted. Doesn’t the dating of Bhirrana and Mehrgarh show that these places had a continuous settlement with no gaps in the archaeology dating back to around 7000 BC. Moreover, I thought the same was true of Rakhigadi since 6000 BC. I’ll need to read up more on this to be sure since I’ve only read these things in popular media and not any scientific journals. Finally this fact that India is the only pre Bronze age civilization that still exists is a claim that has been repeated number of times in the last few days b Amish Tripathi, https://twitter.com/ndtv/status/1275763444927442945?lang=en. I’ll be ambitious and see if I can ask him for a reference on this!

        1. Doesn’t the dating of Bhirrana and Mehrgarh show that these places had a continuous settlement with no gaps in the archaeology dating back to around 7000 BC.

          continuous settlement wouldn’t prove that. jericho has been continuously settled for 10,000 years! 🙂

          1. Lepenski Vir (Vincha, Iron Gates) since before the Ice Age (or at least 12000 Y after the IA).

      3. Earliest sites in IVC are 7000 BCE (a stretch to call it a civilization then, it was basically pit dwelling), but the continuity from pre-Bronze age to mature harappa and today is fairly clear.

        1) Ritual seals in IVC contain a deity that is very similar to Nataraja and Shiva. They depict the deity with trident (trishool). Shiva in the form of linga was found at IVC.
        2) You should watch/read Kenoyer; he has found 100s of bangles every time they go for an excavation related to IVC.
        3) Several terracotta models with Yogic postures and namaste.
        4) Food preparation using tandoor.
        5) Agricultural practices of mixing two crops one along East-West lines and another along North-South. (NS crops are taller and hence cast longer shadow).
        6) Several types of boats depicted in terracota cakes are very similar to boats used in Gujrat and Pakisthan upto 1950s.
        7) Game pieces that look like chess, dice, board games.

        Of course, there are fire alters in which animal remains are found, not sure if this occurs anywhere outside India. In terms of cultural continuity, Indians can instantly recognize (at least my grandmother/grandfather generation) several artifacts obtained at mature harappan period.

  18. I’ll let other people answer 1, I don’t have much to add.

    2) What is North Indian Hindu culture (“Hindi-belt”) without Islamicate influence?

    I’m not sure what you mean. Obviously Muslims didn’t come up with Tulsidas, or the cow stuff, or Hindi. They obviously did make their baleful mark on language and culture, and delayed the societal advancement of the Hindi Belt. But I think that since the period of High Imperialism, there has been a strong and substantially successful effort to throw off Islamic influence. If you mean “samosas” or “biryani,” nobody really cares (or even knows, in many cases) about their Islamic roots anymore than they care about the Western roots of Coke, it’s just background noise.

    There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’ve made a lot of progress, and we’ve basically removed Urdu from the public consciousness (there are angry Lefty thinkpieces about this hahaha.)
    If you’re asking what our culture looked like in 1100…your guess is as good as mine, unfortunately Hindus were pretty lazy about record-keeping.

    3) Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization?

    Of course. Isn’t that precisely what the Hindi Language and Cow Protection movements aimed at (this is why I trash “beef-eating Hindus”). Or just look at the plans for the Ram Temple…it is unapologetically Hindu in architectural motifs, no bulbous domes here!

  19. Hindustani classical music is an Indo-Islamic product. All the major gharanas trace their lineage back to Hazrat Amir Khusrao. All the major 19th century gharanas had Muslim founders. Pandit Bhatkhande in fact was really upset about how Hindustani music was in control of Muslims who couldn’t read the Sanksrit treatises. (Don’t argue with me about this if you don’t have a degree in Ethnomusicology).

    Hindi and Urdu are two standardized registers of Hindustani. This is the linguistic consensus. There would have been no Urdu without the Muslim influence. So Hindutvadis would have to give up Ghalib, which is a real cultural loss.

    Finally, the Taj Mahal is a symbol of India for the rest of the world. This is clearly an Indo-Islamic monument to a Muslim queen. So in your pure Hindu Rashtra, the Taj has to go.

    1. Hindu culture, unlike Islamic, is capable of being much more utilitarian. We dislike Islam, Mohammed, Quran and the over zealous nature of Muslims. If there is something that Islam has positively contributed to the society, we would have no problems in keeping it while getting rid of the negative aspects. Thus, we’ll happily keep Taj Mahal since it helps us earn money and promote tourism while trying to weed out the negative aspects of Islam without caring much about who it came from.

      1. Consistency demands that you hand over the Taj to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan–the successor state to the Mughal Empire.

        Hindu Hriday Samrat should stop making speeches from the Lal Qila–a Muslim palace.

        You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you want to disown all of the Islamicate influences on your High Culture and denigrate the Mughals (the greatest Dynasty ever to rule South Asia), you have to renounce the symbols of our culture.

        1. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you want to disown all of the Islamicate influences on your High Culture and denigrate the Mughals (the greatest Dynasty ever to rule South Asia), you have to renounce the symbols of our culture.

          i think the answer before your response implies that Hinduism is accommodative and assimilative of Islamic culture in a way that Islamic culture can not be accommodative and assimilative of hindu culture. though really the same is true of Islamic architecture. the classic shapes of mosques with their domes is clearly imitation of byzantine motifs (hagia sophia). the earliest mosque buildings weren’t like this.

          1. I agree with Razib. In contrast, domes and the pointed arch were found in the architecture of the subcontinent before any outside influence. They were an integral part of Buddhist architecture, for instance. Even the design with the four towers surrounding a central domed structure was seen in the stupas that were constructed at the time. When the Mughals invaded, they introduced the double dome technique, which allows for two things: a lower ceiling in the interior of the monument, and a higher Dome to be built on top of the first Dome, increasing the overall height of the monument. The Sejluqs Turks also introduced the Double Dome technique to Persia when they invaded from Central Asia. So it was a Central Asian technique, just like the towers they constructed when they invaded West Asia were also a Central Asian motif in architecture.

        2. “Islamic Republic of Pakistan–the successor state to the Mughal Empire.”

          interesting comment. i am sure this question has been deliberated upon by legal community before. AFAIK, pakistan is NOT considered a successor state of either mughal empire, or even the british empire in strict legal terms. India is generally considered the successor state of both these empires.

          there recently was a legal battle in UK over some money deposited by the last nizam of hyderabad. india and pak both were claimants to this money, claiming to be the legitimate successor state of princely state of hyderabad. the UK court ruled in favor of India. I suppose the same logic would apply to mughal empire too.

          1. I wasn’t speaking in legal terms. Pakistan considers itself the successor state to the Muslim empires of South Asia (“India” didn’t exist before August 15, 1947). We would be happy to place the Taj–the supreme example of Indo-Islamic architecture– in a pride of place in Lahore should the Hindu Rashtra choose to disclaim it as a symbol of Muslim “oppression” or whatever other bullshit you Hindutvadis believe in.

          2. @Kabir:

            Give us “back” the IVC sites (Harappa and Mohenjodaro primarily), and we’ll give you “back” the Taj. 😉

    2. I am not discounting Amir Khusro’s virtuosity, ability or contributions (Raga Zeelaf, Sool Fakhta Taal etc) but Hindustani classical music owing descent from him [or lineages descended from him] is a considerable overstatement. Most of these lineages were already practising the already-quite diversified range of classical music forms pre-13th century (I am sure you have heard of the 4 surviving Dhrupad Banis in contrast to the many many more mentioned in early 10th century scriptures) and they continued to do so, with and without interacting with Khusro – many of them converted to Islam yes, but this was at various points in history, and due to various factors, and not specifically to do with Khusro.

      In fact, if one were to talk of descent [whether by blood or through a chain], the largest fraction of them are descended from Tansen, especially from his daughter Saraswati (later Husseini) and son-in-law Samokhan Singh Beenkar [Rajput and rudra veena player, converted to Islam after his defeat by Akbar] . Their numerous descendants came to be known as the “Beenkars” and a bulk of the instrumental (sitar and sarod) gharanas were of this descent.

      The legendary Wazir Khan Beenkar of the late 19th century, veena and sitar maestro, of the Rampur Court, who was the teacher of both Pandit Bhatkhande as well as Baba Allaudin Khan (who later formed the Maihar Gharana and taught Pt. Ravi Shankar, Pt. Nikhil Bannerjee, Ut. Ali Akbar Khan etc) was a Beenkar and hence from this daughter line of Tansen. Two other examples with origins quite independent of Amir Khusro: –

      1) The Dagar strain of Dhrupad, as practised today by the Dagars, has no connection or descent [as a spiritual or bloodline chain] from Amir Khusro. The Dagars trace back their ancestry to Swami Haridas Dagar [Tansen’s teacher] , early 16th century , and more recently to Baba Gopal Das Dagar of Varanasi , who only converted to Shia Islam at the time of Muhammad Shah (early 18th century) [I have seen both Ut. Mohi Bahauddin Dagar and Ut. Waseefudin Dagar state this geneaology in interviews].

      Reference:
      1) http://swaratala.blogspot.com/2007/04/bahauddin-dagar-in-beginning-your-ustad.html
      2) http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/fading-strains/819919/

      2) The Agra Gharana is descended from two Vaishnavite Brahmin classical singer [brothers?] named Alakhdas and Malukdas [names vary based on source] who moved from the Warangal court to the Khilji court after the conquest of Warangal by the latter. Again, it is quite possible they may have interacted with Khusro while there, but they were not his disciples or blood relations. This family was Hindu till the time of Sujan Das (Akbar’s court) who embraced Islam to become Sujan Khan
      Ref:
      1) http://14.139.121.106:8080/jspui/bitstream/123456789/1488/8/08_Chapter%20II.pdf.pdf
      2) https://davidphilipson.com/music/faiyaz/

      1. @Konkaneya, this is completely true. I have also done my research into North Indian Hindustani Classical Music, and it is clear that it is mostly an indigenous development, with some influences from Khusro in a FEW Gharanas. To say that he is the progenitor of the discipline is nothing more than fantasy.

      2. (Your post was in moderation so I didn’t respond earlier)

        Khayal goes back to Hazarat Amir Khusrao and the qawalbacche gharana. “Khayal” itself is a Persian word.

        All the major 19th century gharanas had Muslim founders. All of them trace their lineage to Gwalior, which is said to have been founded by Haddu and Hassu Khan.

        The Agra gharana was founded by Ghagge Khudabuksh (1790-1880 AD) who learned Khayal from Gwalior.

        Kirana gharana was founded by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan (1872-1937)

        Patiala gharana was founded by Ali Baksh Khan and Fateh Ali Khan

        (All this information is on Wikipedia)

        As I mentioned earlier, Pandit Bhatkhande was appalled that Hindustani classical music was in the hands of Muslims who couldn’t read the shastras. This is referenced in Professor Janaki Bakhle’s book “Two Men and Music: Nationalism in the Making of an Indian Classical Tradition”.

      1. We have previously established that you have no literary taste. So this is not surprising coming from an ignorant bigot like you.

        Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib is only the greatest Urdu poet ever. He is also a native son of Delhi, born in Ballimaran.

  20. It is the skill of making Rasa. Curry is still called Rasa or Raso in western India. Whatever came to India was submerged into it.

    1. Interesting that actual ‘Rasam’ of South India is quite different and sticks to old world ingredients, garlic, ginger, tamarind, black pepper, cumin, coriander, curry leaves (murraya koenigi ?) , sometimes lentils and tiny bit of jaggery.

  21. What are Hindus proud of in regards to the achievements of Indian civilization? I’m not talking about Hindu nationalist pseudohistory (genetic engineering in the Vedic age). To give an example: Buddhism is an Indian religion that exported Indian ideas and philosophical systems across much of the world.’

    I think most has already been answered. I would add Astronomy and then astrology. No other culture keeps detailed horoscopes of their kids as Hindus do. In fact some folks have dated Mahabharata and Ramayana on the basis of the planetary configurations mentioned in the texts.

    The culture and philosophy- Most has been discussed before. One could say- something like keeping one’s word was most important. This resulted in immense trade and Hundi’s. The IOU’s would be honored anywhere in the world.

    What is North Indian Hindu culture (“Hindi-belt”) without Islamicate influence?
    They are intermixed. Even in rural areas. Lot of customs are similar. Example- Mehandi- I think it originated outside of India. While the custom of painting hands is hindu enough but using mehndi instead of alta is from outside.

    I see many Muslims following the tradition of touching older person’s feet for blessings as well.

    Local customs- Throwing water when somebody is leaving to go on a journey – this is a very rural custom in North India. I see it being followed in middle east as well.

    There seems a lot of emphasis on Mughlai food – it may be most visible but it would be wrong to assume that all Hindus eat Mughlai food or crave it. It is considered food that is eaten occasionally outside. Most people eat traditional food at home. Nobody has Tandoor at home or time to make laborious gravies. It is being edged out in favor of Pizzas.

    Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization? A lot of it is being edged out already- Bollywood which had heavy muslim influence on language, Tehjeeb, is being edged out. The new TV shows/movies- have a hindi heartland flavor. They are more reflective of language that is being spoken by man on the street, Hindi being spoken is increasingly being sanskritized which is fine as lot of Indian languages use sanskrit words. This facilitates understanding, Hinglish has replaced urdu.

    Fabric prints and weaving is mostly muslim craftsmen. Actually a lot of other crafts as well- Moradabad brass etc.

    I don’t see why we have to edge out the influence. If there was something good, it will be retained in any case. If something was artificially propped up, it will go without the patron influence- case in point- Bollywood.

  22. I think one interesting contribution from India is vegetarianism for ethical purposes. I’m sure other cultures have independently come up with and practiced vegetarianism for ethical purposes. And I acknowledge that many present-day Indian vegetarians are vegetarian more because of ‘tradition’ (without much reflection), caste identity, and ideas of purity and pollution. Nevertheless, it is striking that 29% or so of Indians are vegetarian. While the absolute percentage does not seem that high in itself, it is far higher (by magnitudes) than any other country and it is even higher if you just look at adherents of Dharmic religions in India.

    I think one day far from now, maybe hundreds of years from now probably when technology makes it cheap and easy to make lab-grown meat, people in the West will look back at the treatment of animals in the West (and elsewhere) to be shameful and immoral. This view already exists in the West, of course, and my own dietary choices stem more from the Western tradition. But it is fringe.

    Maybe this is one area where India is a bit ahead of the times.

    It’s sad though how vegetarianism is such a political issue in India, where liberals demonstrate their liberal credentials by organizing meat festivals and whatever else, and even bringing up vegetarianism makes you a brahminical saffron hindu nationalist or whatever.

    1. I heard Abhijit Iyer Mitra say in a BP podcast that vegetarianism was the bane of India, making us weak and susceptible to conquest by foreigners. If one accepts that, is vegetarianism something to be proud of? (FYI, I’m a lifelong vegetarian, and have no intention of changing that.)

      1. @Numinous, doesn’t sticking to the principle in spite of it hurting us make it even more impressive? 😛

        @Hoju, didn’t see your comment before. It is very much in line with my own thinking, and I also hope that one day lab-grown milk will also be common, to the point that the only people who drink milk will be those who like cows and treat them well. I secretly pride in Indian moral greatness of having popularized vegetarianism amongst such a large chunk of the population, though I don’t express that much in comment threads for fear of incensing people.

        In the 2000s at points when I used to feel very insecure about the moral worth of Hindu culture, and the temptation to try to Americanize myself was strong as I saw most of my peers confidently adopting a purely pop-liberal-American sense of morality, what gave me the confidence to stick to my affinity to Hindu thinking and not be a slave of western thinking was its unique degree of commitment to vegetarianism. Especially the successful instituting of a principle although followers don’t gain anything perceptibly from it, unlike others who were being nice mostly in self-interest. This struck me as real virtue, virtue for its own sake, being nice to beings who can’t give you anything in return, rather than for getting something from it.

        1. BTW I hope my comment does not lead to any veg vs nonveg debate. I was just sharing my experience as Hoju’s comment inspired to. I believe most commentators here must have seen all the standard arguments for and against and made up their mind, so that any debate would be pointless.

          1. More a comment on virtue signalling than pro/ con of diet.

            Veg is associated with class and belonging to particular groups in India and in the west.

        2. There is a definitely a lot of virtue signalling surrounding about diet. Both within India and and outside.

          People virtue signal to their peers, not to the animals, environment or whatever marginalized group.

          I mean people virtue signal about not using social media for crying out loud. Haha.

        3. @frog

          Thank you for sharing that. I used to try to hide it all the time (being veg). Around Western circles, a man being vegan is seen as effeminate among other things. Around Indian circles, a man being vegan is casteist, saffron, etc.

          Glad to meet others who are happy about the practice and its prevalence in India.

      2. @Numinous

        Check out this veg/non-veg map of India

        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EdxHQUnVAAAcZ2w?format=jpg&name=4096×4096

        The conclusions from that should be pretty straightforward. But the groups most often stereotyped as being short and otherwise small (e.g., Bengalis) are almost all meat eaters and the groups most often stereotyped as being tall and otherwise big (e.g., Punjabis) are disproportionately veg.

        Beyond that, all the major national dietetic associations have found that vegan diets are suitable for all stages of the human life cycle, including during pregnancy and for athletes.

        That said, I think Indian food in general can be pretty unhealthy and that many Indians are pretty unhealthy. Improving nutrition and the availability of food is key, but I don’t think that says one thing or another about veg vs nonveg.

        1. Beyond that, all the major national dietetic associations have found that vegan diets are suitable for all stages of the human life cycle, including during pregnancy and for athletes.

          can you post a link? vegetarian, i believe. vegan tho is harder though not impossible.

          saying a pure veg diet, in general, can be balanced is correct. but the key is execution, which may ppl do not do well. this makes sense in the west where it’s an innovation in the family. but the ‘modern’ and affluent indian vegetarian diet seems not too healthy a lot of the time (the same with ppl who eat meat too tho).

          1. This one is US-focused but can find others as well.

            https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27886704/

            “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease. Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements.”

            Agreed though that planning is key, but I think that goes for all diets (although to a lesser degree maybe?).

            I should confess I’m not 100% vegan. If I have to go to client meetings and stuff and they want to go to a sushi bar or steakhouse, I usually just go with the flow. But I’d say 90% vegan, 5% veg, 5% meat might be a good estimate.

  23. Some others may have made this point already; your comment on “potatoes, tomatoes and chili pepper” is technically correct but misleading. People used lots of roots other than potatoes (I don’t know the Hindi words for these, arvi may be one of them; I am referring to starchy ones and not suran or yam), pippali (“long pepper”) instead of chili pepper and so on.

    So the food from the new-world did not so much create a new cuisine as do a cosmetic surgery on the existing cuisine. For whatever reason, Indians abandoned the older ingredients and embraced the newer ones. It would be interesting to find the reasons for these – how much of it is economic, and how much is change in taste?

    So I would even suspect that the products from the new world *decreased* rather than increased the diversity of Indian food, with everyone eating the same stupid potatoes, cauliflower, onions,…

    Aside: Here is what, according to the Ramayana, Hanuman saw in Ravana’s palace while searching for Sita – the meat of boar, goat, porcupine, deer, peacocks presrved with yogurt and sauvarchala salt (what the hell is that?), birds like “krakara” and chakora, whatever they are, wild buffaloes etc. Al-Biruni also gives, if I remember right, a list of a large number of animals eaten. There is a Sanskrit book from 11th century or so which gives a recipe for rat fry. Now all the nonvegetarians seem to eat a narrow fare of farm-cultivated animals.

    (source for the comment on Ramayana: http://www.valmikiramayan.net/sundara/sarga11/sundaraitrans11.htm#Verse13)

    1. lol @ “same stupid potatoes, cauliflower.,.”

      Totally agree! Village food was so much diverse and season dependent just from three decades ago, grains from millets, wild birds, stream fish, leafy greens (from plants, vines, trees) and a lot of pumpkin/melon types, pickles, Taro roots, plantain stem and flowers, palms, young jackfruit.

      Now it’s standard green beans, carrots, peas, potatoes, cauliflower and cabbage. All the cooking is confined to these too.

    2. For whatever reason, Indians abandoned the older ingredients and embraced the newer ones. It would be interesting to find the reasons for these – how much of it is economic, and how much is change in taste?

      long pepper doesn’t keep nearly as well las chili pepper. potatoes are some of the best crops to get calories out of low-fertility territory (also less intensive cultivation).

      So I would even suspect that the products from the new world *decreased* rather than increased the diversity of Indian food, with everyone eating the same stupid potatoes, cauliflower, onions,…

      are you stupid? do you think the average indian was rich? the new crops made more diversity accessible to the masses. the elites always had everything on their palette, and likely didn’t switch to an all-potato diet.

      1. Average Indian was not rich but rural. It is amazing how diverse rural cuisine is, particularly when you are poor.
        Village visits coincided with a lot of scourging as children and my cousins had good knowledge of which wild berries/fruits/roots/leaves are okay.

        My son eats chicken everyday as we can afford it but his diet is way less diverse than his much poorer cousins. He wouldn’t know how toddy palm roots taste when steamed and eaten.

        1. Violet
          toddy palm roots taste when steamed and eaten.

          I think Palmyrah Palm Tree (Borassus) is more appropriate.

          Toddy is pretty much made from many palm tree, including Coconut (huge amounts in SL and also distilled into Coconut Arrack), Kitul (Caryota urens) and even Date Palm.

          The type of Palm tree cultivated depends on climate. Palmyrah in more arid regions, eg Jaffna Northern Sri Lanka and North Myanmar. Coconut in more wet climate. Kitul in cool, former Tropical rain forest regions.

          re: Boiled Palm root: Called Kotta Kalangu. The root is also boiled and dried (last longer) and eaten. Also dried into a powder/flour

          Note: it is not the root: The seeds are planted and once they germinate the fleshy stems are harvested from below the surface.

          http://exploresrilanka.lk/2017/06/a-treat-from-jaffna/

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_wine
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caryota_urens
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borassus

      2. @Razib, What Violet said perfectly explained what I had in mind. Increased availability of options doesn’t automatically translate to people honoring a strictly larger set of options – e.g., (a) the new option can be substantially cheaper and hence eclipse the previous ones (from your comment on potatoes this might be what happened); (b) the new option can somehow acquire status initially and then edge out everything else; (c) the new option may appeal to peoples’ taste more than than the earlier ones, and this way reduce diversity while catering to taste.

        I was not making a moral judgement despite what your priors about people like me might suggest, and I am not an unqualified fan of diversity so I am not ruing the change; I really just think the phenomenon is academically interesting and worthy of investigation. But I do think it is an objective fact, and an obvious one if you have been in rural surroundings, that there is a homogenization and decrease in diversity.

        That said, I should also say that there are remote hints nowadays that the trend may reverse with more people more actively looking for variety – e.g., these days in South India I see more and more restaurants advertising local diet; for whatever reason I haven’t seen much of that outside South India.

        Thanks for the explanation concerning long pepper and potatoes. It will be interesting if it makes a come back thanks to better storage facilitiies.

      1. Yes, I see, but only you did. It seems there is a dilemma. If Sanskrit is indigenous the most should put it on the first place. If it is considered that it came with Aryans and Aryans are considered as indigenous, Sanskrit again should be on the top. If Aryans are not considered as indigenous some may consider Sanskrit as non-native and not select in this list and many did not. However, some things from the list related to Aryans, found their place on the list. Because, it would be needed in one of future threads to clarify – if Aryans are indigenous to India or not, and if they brought any culture/technology or they were just ordinary barbarian rapists as some say? In this case, this would be a real trauma that a hundred of million of Indians, without any pride, think about themselves as descendants of ancestors-rapists. Sooner or later, this discussion will be needed but it is difficult if you don’t (want to) know anything about the civilisation where some of your ancestors originated.

  24. Answer to Question 1.

    (a) Contributions to the development of infinite series and rudimentary ideas in Calculus by Kerala School of Mathematics (Sangamagrama Madhavan, Puthumana Neelakantha Somayaji)

    (b) Linguistics and etymology: Panini’s grammar rules for Sanskrit are really succinct and his way of representing the rules of the language is considered a fundamental one in modern Theoretical computer science (Panini Normal Form).

    There was Nirukta (etymology of Vedic words) composed somewhere in the 7th or 6th century BCs (I’m not sure of the exact timeline).

    (c) Literature

    I can keep going about the beautiful poetry and drama, both religious and nonreligious, composed in Sanskrit from different parts of South Asia. Meghaduta, SwapnavAsavadatta, Mrichhakatika, Rasasadanam BhaaNam, Tapatisamvaranam, Subhadradhananjayam. The list keeps going.

    (d) Performance art forms (in the Kerala context):

    Koodiyattam (Sanskrit theatre, considered very old and associated with the first settlement of Brahmins in Kerala), Chakyar Koothu (stand up comedy based on Puranas as well as local historical events, an offshoot of Koodiyattam), Kathakali (dance drama). Koodiyattam artists in Kerala had developed a unique way of acting Death on stage by training to control breath.

    (e) Primitive forms of democracy in Kerala: This is an oral tradition from Kerala. After Brahmins migrated in large numbers to the state and obtained power, they divided the state into 32 gramams, assigned a family as the chief of the gramam, and used to elect a representative from among them as the ruler of all the 32 gramams for a fixed term. When this led to infighting for power, together, they agreed to bring Kshatriyas from outside Kerala to govern as Perumal for a fixed term of 12 years. The governance was done jointly by the Gramam Council (32 members) and the Perumal.

  25. I am not very happy to see that most people commentators of the civilization in terms of mathematics, literature and other (mostly) useless things. This is perhaps the one point on which I agree with the anti-Hindu sbarrkum, that civilizations should be measured by how much they help common people like farmers.

    What is it really that sets India apart from most countries? Well, it had 20-25% of world’s population during times when people mostly lived on Malthusian boundaries, though it did not have 25% of the world’s land. The only other comparable country one can think of is China (they may have done better than us, because the area where their civilization was concentrated may have been smaller?). So in other words, we are awesome because we supported more people.

    While one can offer the existence of many rivers as an explanation, I haven’t yet seen someone arguing that this alone can explain why India had much larger population. North America has larger river and lake networks, and I don’t see native American population being so comparable.

    So it is possible that India’s irrigation canals – Karikala Chozha’s, Bhojaraja’s, the Vijayanagara kings’ or the credit system for farmers offered by the Brihadeeshwara temple etc. contributed a lot to sustain our population.

    As Razib has argued well, it is India’s large population that is the primary explanation for why so many Hindus remain.

    So that is the great thing about Indian and Hindu cultures – offered a large number of people a good shot at living and surviving. This is a big deal if you believe that human existence is intrinsically good, and also what allowed to preserve India’s indigenous culture by demographically protecting us (which leftists with cooperation from Hindu right-wingers are successfully undoing with their evil family planning).

    As if to prove sbarrkum right, Hindu right-wingers harp on useless Sanskrit poetry and number theory and such stuff. Unsurprisingly, none of these things buy any purchase for Hindus’ soft-power today, and no one really cares for Sanskrit poetry any more, but this does result in right wing Government pushing humanities departments into IITs and hastening India’s civilizational decline.

    1. terms of mathematics, literature and other (mostly) useless things. This is perhaps the one point on which I agree with the anti-Hindu sbarrkum, that civilizations should be measured by how much they help common people like farmers.

      Umm, I all for math, science and even poetry. Specially if accessible to the average. Science and math eventually have benefits to all urban or rural.

      What I think are useless are huge palaces, and temples/churches. That kind of extravagance is a sign of extreme inequality. Much like that many storied (Ambani ?) house, and people sleeping on the street right outside.

      There is some discussion in SL too, specially regarding the Buddhist temples. They are not huge, but they rake in huge sums of money. Not much charity from the though.

      eg Temple of the Toot
      Mediocre in Size Rakes Millions
      https://lakpura.com/temple-of-the-tooth-relic

    2. @froginthewell,

      Being lucky with environment is no achievement on its own. Having fertile land along with year around farmable temperature and sunlight was unique to India and China to support the population they did. There are a few geographical maps that show soil fertility, irrigation and sunlight hours around the world. Where these factors coincide, historically population density was very high.

      This is case with Nile valley and population density of Cairo rivals elsewhere.

      Poetry is for the soul of the common man. To this day Annamaya kirtanas, Ramadasu songs, are all accessible to common folk and have excellent humour and emotion baked into them.
      Just because kalidasa isn’t accessible to current day peasants doesn’t mean peasants don’t get to enjoy poetry or arts.

      Also, math and astronomy aren’t for their own sake, for a monsoon depending country like India, astronomy and almanac are really really important for when to till and sow.

      1. Being lucky with environment is no achievement on its own…

        Violet gaaru, you usually have very good reading comprehension, so you of all people should have noticed that I addressed almost this very point in my comment, saying “While one can offer the existence of many rivers as an explanation, I haven’t yet seen someone arguing that this alone can explain why India had much larger population”, and cited irrigation canals as a contributory factor. For instance if what I’ve read is correct (as I haven’t cross-checked), Cambodia’s population is estimated to have been much higher during the period when the irrigation network near Angkor Wat was functional than during other historical periods. Hampi would support a large population during the Vijayanagara empire, presumably in no small measure to the constructions that amazed one of the visitors (Paes or Nuniz perhaps, I don’t remember). Al-Biruni says that his people cannot even describe our step-wells, let alone construct them. Britishers if I remember right were impressed by Chozha networks. So this is not to be dismissed (without further research) as merely providential, why would you want to do that? Indian geography is so diverse and yet somehow most of the country was so exceptional in supporting so much population?

        Given what you have hinted at concerning your background, it isn’t surprising that you focus on applied mathematics 🙂 but I referred to number theory (I mean, not all of it was applied). I am all for useful applied mathematics.

        Even pure mathematics and poetry I am not against as sbarrkum has construed above, merely that I find it repugnant to use these as the main metrics for civilizational achievement while ignoring things that make a difference to the poor.

        Annamayya, Kalidasa etc. – how much do common people like them (I would suspect the former to some extent, the latter not at all). I can’t find their influence in modern literature the way I find the influence of urdu/Persian shayari. And these don’t smell reassuringly of rural life the way literature whose origins are attributed to be Buddhist do – say Gathasaptashati, Hitopadesha etc. Why do Kalidasa and other “Brahminical” people spend so much time obsessing over paternalistic platitudes of an irritating sense of morality, and why do modern connosseiurs of Kalidasa celebrate precisely the obnoxious shlokas (e.g., kAvyeShu nATakam…). I say this without anything against Brahmins, forgive me if this is offensive, it is because I feel like I am flayed alive when I see our own people celebrating exactly the wrong things that bring oppobium instead of celebration, how much more perfectly do we play into leftist narrative? Sorry for the long and emotional comment.

  26. Perhaps the right place to post

    https://twitter.com/arifcrafiq/status/1292182852302442499?s=21

    “ It seems as if most, if not all, of “South Asians for Biden” event panelists have been Indian American.

    If you’re not going to include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and other non-Indian South Asians, why not refer to yourself as “Indian Americans for Biden”?”

    As I said India is the inheritor of all history of South Asia. The others live on scraps. So we decide what we want to keep, and others can then have what we reject. Aka Islamicate influences

    1. Why not just claim it all?

      Maybe Hindutva still too early stages, and there was a lot of supplication to Islamicate culture so it needs to be disavowed.

      Perhaps once / if it accomplishes it’s aim of a united Hindu identity transcending caste and regional boundaries. It can revisit the Islamicate culture with more neutral eyes.

      1. I am with it u on that, but some stuff have really strayed far away for India to realistically lay a claim on. At least it would be contested. There is also doubts on how much reclaiming of Islamicate culture is far too much, without actually diluting Hindutva.

        A prime example is Advani’s Jinnah-was-secular fiasco where he tried to appropriate even Congress-ish secularism into Hindutva and he paid a price for that. Right now the worry is really on the other side, where in pursue of ‘purity’ Hindutva might purge even some middle of the road Hindu stuff like Shiridi sai worship etc. So lets see how all this pans out

        1. I think Pakistanis should claim the dharmic stuff as well.

          Once again I think they lack a secure identity to look at this stuff with a more neutral perspective. They need the Islamicate identity to bind the country together.

          Bangladeshis seem pretty secure in Bangla identity, claiming both Islamicate South Asian and non-Islamicate Bengali culture from what I gather.

          1. Pakistan was created as the homeland for the Muslims of British India. Islam is our identity.

            We have no interest in any “dharmic” stuff, thanks very much.

          2. Kabir if you are liberal Pakistani who supports “secularism” what are the right wing ones like?

            Being a Muslim doesn’t preclude you from appreciating Dharmic culture, for eg. Sanskrit grammarian Panini was born in modern day KP. He is a son of the soil.

            I mean it’s cool if you want us Indians to take full credit, we will.

          3. There is no particular prohibition in appreciating dharmic culture in Pakistan but there is a profound lack of interest in doing so, it seems about as relevant as Confucianism or Zoroastrianism. There is more appreciation for the Indus Valley civilisations since they are seen to be “ours” and not particularly linked to Hinduism as known today.

          4. Irrespective of whatever one desires, Pakistan trying to claim pre islamic heritage would meet the same fate of Nepal trying to claim Ram.

          5. Sumit,

            I have no problems admitting that Pakistan is a South Asian country. The right-wing Pakistanis want to pretend we are an extension of Arabia.

            Similarly, I acknowledge the fact that Pakistan is socially constructed (as India is) and was created on August 15, 1947. The right-wing Pakistanis believe Pakistan was created the day Muhammad bin Qasim landed in Sindh.

            The point is simply that since Pakistan was created based on Islam, it is unreasonable to expect Pakistanis to show any interest in pre-Islamic “Dharmic” culture. The best you can expect in Pakistan is benign indifference. When even “SECULAR” India is denigrating the Indo-Islamic period what do you expect from an Islamic Republic?

          6. Kabir as a thought experiment let’s say all of the Mughal empire adopted Islam. Then the British conquered. Doesn’t matter what happened politically after the British left.

            I think even as a Muslim I would still be taking an interest in Pre-Islamic history of the region.

            It’s not as if the Egyptians don’t have any interest in pre-Islamic Egyptian history. Or Europeans in pre-Christian European history.

            The reason Pakistan avoids this stuff is due to its identity issues. India is running into the same issues with regards to Indo-Islamic stuff as a Hindu identity is coalescing.

            I remember meeting this religious pre-partition origin Indian Muslim from South Africa with a beard in college. And being surprised that he knew the Mahabharata better than I did.

            I don’t think there is any inherent conflict with Islam, although you can correct me if I am wrong. It’s just a certain type of attitude stemming from Pakistani conflict with India.

          7. Sumit,

            If all of the Mughal Empire had adopted Islam and India had become Muslim-majority, there would have been no Partition and this whole issue would not have arisen.

            I agree with you that the issue is not really one of religion but of national identity. Pakistan’s national identity is founded on being the homeland of the Muslims of BRITISH India. For more right-wing Pakistanis, history goes straight from the IVC to Bin Qasim’s arrival in Sindh, bringing Islam to the land and becoming the first Pakistani. My position is that no one was Pakistani prior to August 14, 1947. My grandparents were all BRITISH Indian, no matter which side of the Radcliffe Line they were born.

            Where I disagree with you is that I don’t think there is really a need for mainstream Pakistanis to be too concerned about the pre-Islamic past. It’s really just not that interesting to most of us. I know more about it than most Pakistanis since I grew up in the US and knew a lot of Indian-Americans. I’ve also studied Hindustani music. I’ve even read the “Ramayana”, but of course as Literature rather than scripture. Even then frankly, it doesn’t hold a candle to the “Illiad” or the “Odyssey”.

            The expectation that a lot of seemingly “liberal” Indians have that Indian Muslims (not to speak of Pakistanis) will be deeply moved by the Ramayana is kind of ridiculous. It has nothing to do with us or with our culture. Should we expect you all to be deeply moved by the Quran Sharif?

          8. Thanks, I think we actually more or less agree on this particular issue Kabir.

            One minor quibble is that the Ramayana is a Mythopetic work with some historicity, even for Hindus, not a scripture or a divine revelation.

            Hindu traditions accept the validity of some scripture (sabda), but its always seen as inferior to and super-ceded by other forms of knowledge (6 pramanas) from an epistemic POV.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pramana#Hinduism

          9. “There is no particular prohibition in appreciating dharmic culture in Pakistan but there is a profound lack of interest in doing so”

            I am not sure it’s entirely down to lack of interest. I remember some time ago there were news reports that Shahid Afridi had chastised his wife for watching Indian shows with ‘aarti’ in front of their daughters.

            So there is definitely an element of deliberate suppression.

            “I think Pakistanis should claim the dharmic stuff as well.”

            I don’t think we ought to lose too much sleep over Pakistanis not claiming the dharmic stuff. It’s their loss.

            The heritage has far too much value for any open-minded society will try to learn from it. Or at least give it a shot. Especially, if it involves your ancestors.

            May be in a hundred years’ time, the residents of the region that is now Pakistan would have outgrown their hangups.

          10. The Shahid Afridi thing was about not wanting his daughter to watch Indian soap operas. He didn’t want her imitating Hindu rituals, which is something no conservative Muslim father would countenance.

            Shahid Afridi is a Pathan and they tend to be more conservative about religion than other ethnic groups. He’s also personally quite right-wing.

            “Especially if it involves your ancestors”– Shouldn’t Pakistanis be allowed to define who we think our ancestors are? If we don’t consider anything that happened pre-Islam to be relevant to us, why are you bothered?

            Indian Hindus don’t seem to consider the glorious culture of the Mughals to have anything to do with them, but instead want to harp on about their ancestor’s “oppression”. If people in a SECULAR state are denigrating the composite culture of North India, why would you expect citizens of an Islamic Republic to give a damn about Hindu culture?

            On this very thread, we had a dude who’s quite proud of not knowing who Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib is. I personally find such lack of respect for the greatest Urdu poet ever to be quite undefensible but not surprising from a Hindutvadi.

          11. Kabir if the Iliad is better written than the Ramayana why isn’t it as popular today despite being written around the same time? It seems to me you’re just trying to put Hinduism down again.

          12. I agree with Kabir, if someone does not want to claim or reclaim any part of their heritage , for whatever reason, they are free to do so. Indians come across cringy when they go around trying to impose what other sub continent countries heritage should be. We should look it the other way as someone not being part of heritage actually allots us more heritage.

            I blame much of it to our education system which tried to foster an artificial bonding across countries which are no longer part of India. All this “Bhai-bhai” and “we are the same people only” stuff. Its best to leave other countries to their myth making and destiny.

    2. In a quiet and implicit way, the use of the term “South Asian” to refer to an overwhelmingly Indian group is the ultimate concession to hardline Hindu nationalists. It indicates that the speaker has so little confidence in the use of the term “Indian” to include Muslims and non-Hindus that he has to invent a geographic term instead.

  27. I forgot to mention sustainable agricultural practices- Example Compost. Till even a 100 years ago, west did not know about it. It is literally called Indore Method. Now of course it is the rage with environmentalists. Indians can have 6 crops within a year compared to say 1 or 2 in the west.

  28. I think something unique about Hinduism, is that unlike Buddhism or Rationalism it focuses on the result of an action on one’s own mind rather than the practical result.

    For example, in Buddhism Ahimsa is a practical option, where you don’t kill when you don’t have to (as opposed to wasteful animal sacrifices or excessive consumption. In Jainism killing other living things is a strict no-no)

    But in Hinduism the main stress of Ahimsa is on the impact of this violence on the self rather than the animal or plant that is being killed.

  29. What about the Gypsies, good and bad.
    They spread a particular form of Indian culture, all the way to Spain.
    Guitar, was it a cheap adaptation of the Sitar.

    Also a mindset, where reading and writing was not necessary. No necessity for History or the Future. just life then and there.

    In a sense the polar opposite of the Jewish Tradition.
    However, both to to great extent have maintained their “culture”

    1. @sbarrkum I agree with you on the gypsies & mindset being unique to Indian culture.

      Not necessarily something to be proud of. It is merely unique.

      So technically this answers @razib’s question. But many are listing aspects in which they take pride…

  30. A lot of the answers involve astronomy (+astrology in some cases) and mathematics. But the bulk of known south Asian history of both involves Babylonian and Greek influence so would that really be indigenous. Though it should also be mentioned that this Indian astronomy and mathematics also went on to influence later Chinese and Islamic astronomy and mathematics.

    Personally I do believe that there might have been plenty of actually indigenous mathematics and astronomy could have existed in the Indus Valley period with less outside influence than later on.

    1. @DaThang, do you have an email address I can reach you at? Wanted to discuss a few things you know more about, than I do.

        1. Thanks man. I will send you an email shortly. Apologies for the earlier rants BTW. I was out of my element (and depth) there. This young Padawan must learn before trying to become a Jedi Master. I look forward to speaking with you. Good afternoon.

  31. I can only attempt at answering Question 1:
    1. Epics – Mahabharata which is way ahead of all other historic epics and tales. Even Ramayana beats the Illiad and Odyssey by some length and depth.
    2. Vegetarianism / Ahimsa – The Sramana traditions – Buddhism, Jainism, Ajivikas are unique in the emphasis on Ahimsa / Vegetarianism. One can argue that only in the extremely fertile plains of Ganga/Yamuna, Brahmaputra can you come up with ideas like Vegetarianism, but it is true nonetheless.
    3. Charaka and Sushruta Samhita & Patanjali – Ayurveda & Yoga
    4. The conception of Republics – It is very Vrjjis or Licchavis and others https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Ganas_or_Republics_of_Ancient_India.
    These arent democracies or republics – but theyre certainly a progress over standard Kingship and even Kshatriya Kingship ideals. Though in the Orthodox Brahminical thoughts these quasi republics are seen as problematic.
    5. ChakraVatri Samrat – Federalism – The difference between Sanskrit Chakravarti and Emperor is non trivial. The chakravarti ruler doesnt physically rule the entire domain he claims, there is considerable delegation of power. The ideal Kshatriya wants suzereignty and not sovereignty. The Gupta Empire was among the best and wealthiest example of decentralised power in the ancient world under the great Gupta rulers- Samudragupta – Skandagupta. At its peak it was much wealthier than Mauryan state or even the Mughal/ Delhi sultanate state – as evidenced by the Gold coins of the Guptas.
    6. Pluralism – While one can argue till death how much Plural the Vedic aryans were, the Post Vedic Indians were always plural- the comparatively peaceful coexistence of Dharmic schools (i don’t trust the Left history). It wouldn’t be a stretch to extrapolate this pluralism from Rgvedic “एकम सत विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति” – The Truth is one, the wise express it in numerous ways.
    7. The philosophy of the Upanishads, Rgveda mandala 10, and other philosophical schools like Carvaka etc..
    8. Damascus steel? – I am not confident about this one.
    9. Numerals
    10. Sanskrit
    11. Mathematics
    12. Elephant taming and warfare.

    1. Sorry for making this somewhat off-topic, but I just didn’t know where to reply, I’ll post this in open threads just in case Razib ends up deleting it

      It’s one of those propaganda pages like I suspected, seen many similar posts on Reddit

      You can see the general trend, they’re trying to claim that IVC pretty much belongs to Pakistan and has nothing to do with India (or the east as he calls it) and that India is an entirely different civilization and that modern-day Indians have nothing to nothing whatsoever to do with IVC

      The admin makes a bold and baseless claims like this one-
      “Plus the Sarawasti river of Rig Veda refers to Helmand or Haraxvati river in Southern Afghanistan”

      We pretty much know nothing conclusive about the Saraswati river at this point, he’s just trying to make sure that nothing falls in Indian territory

      And he repeatedly keeps using “ancient Pakistan” on every single post, and the comments are mostly just one guy claiming that Indians are “stealing” Pakistan’s “heritage”.

      And look at this document shared by the page back in 2014-https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YHB09nnNmDmyDcazteC_XovD3HaLqP6PLLAam3dMNlY/edit?fbclid=IwAR10FQ8vqqm6nQjP6LuA_BFnQi-lBAs5rzZJicUmBTtp7Mdmik_gIDzNyMY

      They’re trying to hijack an entire civilization, propaganda at its peak

      1. This is great. As a Gujarati Indian with high IVC related ancestry, I reject all Pakistani solo claims over IVC.

        I hope to live to see the day when North Indian edgelords are bold enough to accuse Pakistanis of stealing Urdu from us.

        The whole thing is a shared history of the Human species, but the South Asian region is a particularly dense population network. So it follows that there is a lot of shared history.

        Have a look at this map.
        https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/bd1fl7/westsouth_asia_population_density_absolute_amount/

        Central Asia and Eastern Iran can be thought of as greater South Asia perhaps. But not the other way around. (Just due to sheer population size differences)

  32. “India” isn’t unique in this. Its people are mostly central asian/middle eastern genetically. India is basically part of central asia and middle east or greater euroasia. Pure AASI people if ever existed, didn’t play much role in culture and civilisation of India in last 5000 years.

    1. @Raz, didnt pure AASI people start farming/domesticating Wheat BEFORE any outside contact from Middle Easterners/Central Asians? That counts as playing a role. Also, AASI are part of the larger East Asian race, so in that sense, their cousins in the Far East (China/Japan/Korea/Taiwan) and SE Asia have already played a HUGE role in shaping the world through their hugely significant inventions/trade and military conquests (by the Mongols/Turks) followed by periods of peace that transmitted ideas and goods (Pax Mongolica, Silk Road, etc). That is more than good enough, as far as leaving an indelible impact on the globe is concerned.

  33. @Brown-
    “astronomy and astrology seems to been missed out”

    I did mention both above. India’s contribution to astronomy are phenomenal. The mention of planetary positions in Mahabharat/ Ramayan have been ignored by historians as another piece of evidence to date the scriptures.

  34. (Long comment, apologies!)

    What are Hindus proud of in regards to the achievements of Indian civilization?

    I think one major achievement of Indian culture that Hindus can be proud of is the base-10 numeral system and its decimal place value extension (and zero placeholder). That is genuinely something useful which the Arabs immediately saw the value of and picked up. Medieval records show the utility of the system which was seen as superior to anything Romans/Greeks had come up with. And modern mathematics generalised the system and binary used to encode what I am writing now is a straight corollary.

    There’s other stuff too like chess etc, but nothing as central to the modern world as base-10 number system.

    What is North Indian Hindu culture (“Hindi-belt”) without Islamicate influence?

    Most of North Indian Hindu culture has remarkably little Islamicate influence.

    Persian has a superficial influence on Hindi (just lexicon, that too minority) and no influence on morphology, syntax and barely any on phonology (Urdu register preserves the fricative /x/ and uvular consonant /q/ but *only* in loanwords).

    Mainstream Hindu epics have no Islamicate component and remain rooted in Indian geography. And apart from Sikhism, no Indian religion recognises Islam in its canon.

    Indian economic / political / administrative / legal system is thoroughly Westernised with no history of either Islamicate or Hindu systems left in the mainstream. Some such primitive systems prevail on the edges though.

    There is some innovation in music and orchestra that survives. Also influences in food preps as opposed to ingredients (similar time the English beef v cow distinction). Also to an extent Hindi poetry has influences of Persian as opposed to being a direct descendant of the Sanskritic tradition.

    Is it feasible to detach the “Islamicate” influence from modern Indian civilization?

    Yes, the colonial Brits already achieved most of it – to the point that 5th / 10th / 15th century would be rather unrecognisable to Hindus of today (or to Muslims for that matter). Though some like to think otherwise but that’s just silly sentimentalism.

    1. @Slapstik, could you elaborate the below point? I’m unclear on the following:

      “to the point that 5th / 10th / 15th century would be rather unrecognisable to Hindus of today (or to Muslims for that matter).”

  35. 1. What are Hindus proud of in regards to the achievements of Indian civilization?

    Commentators above have given varied legitimate answers from agriculture to textiles to art and architecture. For me the one thing that stands out is the Indian capacity for abstract thinking. This was true across a range of subjects from mathematics to astronomy to linguistics, but found its most profound and sublime form in the search for the truth and the divine. I call it the Empire of the Mind and the Spirit, as evidenced in particular in fields of philosophical enquiry such as metaphysics, epistemology, eschatology and ethics, and in practices such as asceticism and yoga.

    What started as the philosophical musings and spiritual enquiries of the Vedic and early Upanishadic rishis and rishikas- some of the Upanishads such as the Isha Upanishad are simply sublime- like postcards from spiritual nirvana- is converted through a process of osmosis, through experimentation, argumentation, and interaction with the folk traditions of the laity of Bharat, into five distinct but interconnected schools. We can call them the Five Spokes of Dharma: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Buddhism and Jainism.

    Each of these dharmic paths have the depth, subtlety, sophistication and traditions of scholarship and practice that would take years of learning to master.

    Vaishnavism gave us the Bhagavad Gita, the perfect synthesis of Indic thought which is easily accessible as a spiritual guidebook even in the 21st century. It also gave us Advaita Vedanta- a monist tradition that has then inspired spiritual seekers through the ages, including the likes of Guru Nanak Dev ji.

    Shiva also known as Rudra or Adiyogi- the primordial man was known and worshipped in Bharat since at least Indus Valley times. Shaivism gave us the practices of yoga and asceticism. But it wasn’t just that. Shiva is simultaneously more distant and more accessible to his devotees- lacking the sattivic excesses of Vaishnavism, the demanding discipline of Buddhism and the logical and ethical extremism of Jainism. Shaivism is also highly intellectual- the Kashmiri Shaivism tradition of Abhinavgupta- a case in the point.

    Shaktism- the worship of the eternal feminine energy in all its myriad forms- is again an ancient and venerable tradition. It gave us the tantras and later partly inspired the Bhakti transition during medieval times.

    The Shakya Muni is perhaps the greatest teacher Bharat has ever known. The genius of the Buddha lay in cutting the clutter of ritualism, asking the essential questions and providing the common person with an ethical and spiritual guide to a good life. The Buddha was also an institution builder. Building on the guru-shishya parampara, he created the sangha which outlasted him and lives on till date, influencing other traditions in more ways than one.

    The ethical convictions of Jainism- most visibly manifested in the doctrine of non-violence or ahimsa- as well as the intricate logical exegesis behind those ethical convictions, have no parallel in any religious tradition anywhere in the world in terms of their principled consistency.

    Given the above, is it any surprise that, in the words of Hali “the armada of Hejaz sank on the banks of the Ganga”?

  36. I’m proud of the fact that Indian philosophy was robust enough to develop a system of logic and debate and at least took steps in a rational direction. Not sure if left to our own devices we’d have achieved any advanced feats of engineering or science but I would like to think so.

    1. Real solutions only come when communities are allowed to negotiate among each other on their own terms {result may not be ideal in academic sense but it is always more stable}.

      Western intellectualism flourished when it’s old structures crumbled but it negotiated problems based on it’s own experiences & terms instead of trying to satisfy an already established framework somewhere else.

      —————————

      Let me provide you examples from Indian history itself –

      Ancient India did not had any concept of secularism but many kings used to patronize all sorts of groups e.g. Guptas patronized Buddhists more than Hindus though they were Hindu kingdom, so what was the reason identity did not became an issue before till Indians did not encounter Muslims ?

      It was based upon context, Spatiality, limitations & most important of all constant negotiations.

      Power, Presence and Space South Asian Rituals in Archaeological Context
      https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781003083832

      https://www.academia.edu/43761012/Caste_and_Kingship_pre_publication_version_for_JUles_Naudet_and_Surinder_S_Jodhka_The_Oxford_Handbook_of_Caste_To_be_published_end_2020
      Note – Author did not mention in this paper an already existing understanding regarding negotiations i.e. Apastamba Dharmasutra {Note the section Significance on Wiki}
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apastamba_Dharmasutra#Significance

      https://newbooksnetwork.com/elizabeth-a-cecil-mapping-the-pasupata-landscape-brill-2020/
      Note – The book discussed is an Open source book which is freely available.

      Lastly everyone knows about Manusmriti but do you know about a Hindu text which philosophically denounces all social divisions ? Let me guide you towards –
      Vajrasuchi Upanishad
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrasuchi_Upanishad

      India seems too complex because it happened back to back twice – First Islamic rulers tried to fit Islamic model on Indians which remained half backed, neither Islamic nor Indic & then colonizers tried to do the same though the effect of colonizers was far greater considering it’s frameworks being still in place in Indian Subcontinent. Modern Indian state did not tried to reinvent the wheel unlike Chinese after independence instead Indian intelligentsia tried to force fit modern India into Western mold which is resulting in current political discontent in India.

      When a model developed in different setting & context is forced in a different region it leads to contradictions, new problems & challenge and further compounds existing problems.

  37. I will leave #1 to Hindus; I am not Hindu. So I’ll address #2-3.
    By the time Islam became “Islamicate” and reached the Indus, those Muslims were heavily Persified already. As an elite the Muslims’ main influence was in a theory of rule, taken wholesale from the Sasanians. Ibn Isfandiyar’s history of Tabaristan (including The Letter of Tansar) was brought to India, where Edmund Browne found it. The history of Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (containing much Sasanian-era lore) was also translated to New Persian, with even more Iranian lore, and circulated in India.
    As to why this is: in their way, southeastern Iran was full of religious Muslims who were also nationalistically Iranian. The Shahnameh came out of these courts (the Samanids I think). Arabs called this nativism the “shu’ubiya”. It wasn’t just Iranians; other Muslims played up Yemeni culture, or African, and nowadays Turkish. But in Delhi the high culture looked to Persia until recently.
    So, to the extent “Islamicate” culture along the Indus is neoSasanian, a Brahmin nativist might play up the Persian elements in North Indian culture and selectively delete whatever looks too Semitic.
    (I am *not* saying that they *should*.)

  38. // southeastern Iran was full of religious Muslims who were also nationalistically Iranian. The Shahnameh came out of these courts (the Samanids I think) //

    BS, to put it bluntly.

  39. Pretty good responses, I have learned a lot. It would be also interesting to answer (maybe in the follow up thread) – if Aryans are considered as indigenous to India (regardless if they originated there or came from somewhere) and, if they came from somewhere, what did they bring to SA (in this case it must be known from which civilisation they came and what was its cultural, technological level). As ancestors of many Indians today they deserve this kind of attention and respect.

  40. Most commentators have covered Indian acievements in India. I’m also proud of the influence of Hinduism, Brahmi script and Sanskrit (or Pali) language in the culture, script and language of South East Asia. The Khmer, Thai, Laotian scripts are derived from Brahmi. I was mind blown to realize the vowel and consonant sounds and order of the alphabets in Khmer , Thai, Laotian are very, very similar to that of Devanagari. Also the Hindu calendar influenced the Buddhist calendar and is used in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand etc.

  41. Not an Indian, but I would be especially proud of Goa trance, India’s greatest contribution to humanity.
    Oh, and btw, somebody mentioned cannabis culture: even that seems to stem from the steppes.

  42. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve survived everything that’s been dished out to us over the past few millenia without collapsing or descending into chaos or losing our essential humanity (though our current ruling regime seems intent on changing that). Can’t be said about anyone else, including the Chinese. The rest of it (all the points listed by commenters above) is window dressing.

    Perhaps it’s just me, but as a scientist and engineer, I find it silly and icky to express pride in long-superceded scientific and engineering achievements. Sure, Panini’s grammatical innovations were ground-breaking for his time and so was the invention of zero. But these just laid bases for later scientific advancement. Literally every scientific and engineering advance we have made in the past century dwarfs anything done before since the dawn of time! The point of science is to debate theories, and use the most plausible of them as bases to improve on present knowledge and techniques. So, while I get how an individual may be proud of something they discovered or invented, I don’t see why their co-ethnics would feel pride at that. (BTW……I have similar disdain for American white nationalists who feel proud of recent American achievements in science and engg)

    1. Your basic point is – Don’t take pride in anything as it may lead to paths of confrontation which is fair enough.

      Before i also used to think the same but seeing how global world does not work on ideals i stopped believing any such ideals & instead started engaging with all sides which opened my eyes to see people as they are instead of seeing them through ‘Academic frameworks’ as lab rats.

      1. Don’t take pride in anything as it may lead to paths of confrontation

        Not really. I was trying to (i) distinguish societal achievements from individual achievements, and (ii) make the case that scientific/technological achievements are ephemeral and not deserving of “historical” pride.

        But I’m a gadfly on this blog and have quirky opinions. I’m fully aware others may not share them.

        I will qualify my earlier opinion by saying that Indian cuisine (which is not to everyone’s taste, as I discovered living abroad) is a genuine achievement of our civilization. Many ingredients may be recent imports from South America, but so what? It’s what you do with those ingredients that counts. I did develop a taste for mashed potatoes (well-buttered) and french fries in the States, but our cuisine beats every other in the number of ways you can cook a potato. So there!

        1. // Panini’s grammatical innovations were ground-breaking for his time //

          Modern linguistic field arose because of Panini’s work but yes his work was only influential for his time. Point is some of Indian inventions & preservation are so unique that they should be the pride of every Indian.

          // So, while I get how an individual may be proud of something they discovered or invented, I don’t see why their co-ethnics would feel pride at that. //

          You know what i would have agreed before but i don’t agree anymore & here is why – Why Westerners were allowed to express pride in form of Western exceptionalism in terms of Science, Progress & Modernity but any similar claims from Non-West have been constantly denied, challenged or questioned even though their contribution to Modern systems is becoming more & more clear ? Since this form of pride has been allowed for West for so long why not let everyone take pride in the achievements of their Co-ethnics since it has already been made acceptable by modern institutions which helped in creating Western exceptionalism in the first place ?

          How do you wish to divide individual achievement’s pride different from Cultural or national pride ? I understand the idealistic reasoning for it but as i mentioned somewhere else idealistic positions does not work in the real world.

          I gladly take your point & agree with regards to Indian food though.

  43. Veg is associated with class and belonging to particular groups in India and in the west.

    gender element too. my daughter (8) and my sister are both vegetarian.

    1. “my daughter (8) and my sister are both vegetarian”

      How do children that young generally decide, was it about disliking the taste of meat, or did she specifically make a conscious decision to avoid animal suffering?

      When I was in school the boys/girls from meat-eating families familiar to me didn’t go veg until their early to mid-teens, which is when they also started getting individualistic in other aspects.

    2. My grandmother & many relatives {women} never ate meat or stopped it at some point of their lives. So i guess gender is true here in India too.

  44. or did she specifically make a conscious decision to avoid animal suffering?

    yes. my daughter did it for this. she keeps propagandizing to my 3.5-year-old son about this. my 6-year-old boy likes the taste of meat so her evangelical veg fervor didn’t have an impact.

    we’re mostly a vegetarian house because my wife doesn’t like meat. i love red meat, but don’t eat it much unless i’m out of the house (traveling, etc.)

      1. direct quote, with a fake german name to make it authentic “erwin, you know that pork is piggies right?”

        [his stuffy is named ‘piggie’ for obv reasons]

  45. I should confess I’m not 100% vegan. If I have to go to client meetings and stuff and they want to go to a sushi bar or steakhouse, I usually just go with the flow. But I’d say 90% vegan, 5% veg, 5% meat might be a good estimate.

    in India this would be ‘non-veg’ though. i mean most of the non-elite meat-eaters in India Bangladesh etc. don’t eat meat every day, and often rarely. in contrast in the USA lots of ppl eat meat every day (if my wife wasn’t annoyed with meat i would).

    1. I think the heart of the matter is that Americans see meat-eating (especially beef and bacon) as something to be exalted. Indians, even those who aren’t obligate vegetarians, view meat-eating as something to be grudgingly tolerated (in the case of chicken and fish) as a concession to human gluttony, and not tolerated at all in other cases (red meat and especially beef.)

      1. heart of the matter is that Americans see meat-eating (especially beef and bacon) as something to be exalted.

        Depends which crowd you hang out with.

        In America the conservatives are pro-meat, progressives are pro-veg.

        In India the conservatives are pro-veg, progressives are pro-meat, esp. beef.

        That said, I think even in India the animal rights people tend to be progressives.

    2. @Razib

      “in India this would be ‘non-veg’ though. i mean most of the non-elite meat-eaters in India Bangladesh etc. don’t eat meat every day, and often rarely. in contrast in the USA lots of ppl eat meat every day (if my wife wasn’t annoyed with meat i would).”

      True, it would be considered non-veg in the Indian context. But I’m working on it 🙂

      I guess one distinction would be that non-elite non-veg in South Asia (who rarely consume meat, perhaps less than me) don’t do it consciously. As income grows they’ll probably eat more frequently. Not sure if that changes anything material though.

      1. i think meat-eating = tall is probably not right for the reasons you give. but, i also think due to the fact that most non-elite bengalis aren’t eating meat and fish very often history also cuts against your point.

        (my family eats meat a lot and we were elite, and at 5’8 i’m tall, so genetically we were clearly short; my brothers are 5’4 and 5’6, my sister is 4’10, and we all grew up on burgers & bengali food)

  46. “ How do children that young generally decide, was it about disliking the taste of meat, or did she specifically make a conscious decision to avoid animal suffering? “

    My sis when she was 6 or 8, accompanied my dad to the local market, where she saw various animals being cut down. That left her scarred and she turned vegetarian for good part of her life. It only recently she has started eating some meat again after being forced by my family.

  47. Kabir if the Iliad is better written than the Ramayana why isn’t it as popular today despite being written around the same time? It seems to me you’re just trying to put Hinduism down again.

    this speaks to the suicide of western culture, not the comparison btwn ramayana and iliad.

    until recently all well-educated men would know the iliad. even with christianization the iliad and odyssey remained part of christian europe’s patrimony.

    i don’t know about the judgment kabir makes, but I’ve only read the iliad in translation. I’ve read a lot of the Mahabharata and ramayana in translation, but it seems there are far fewer translators of this into English than the iliad or the Hebrew bible. translators matter A LOT for the prose style and punch.

    i’d be curious what a sanskritist who can read ancient greek thinks. there are probably not too many of those around today, though there almost certainly were during the days of the east India company. max Muller knew greek, latin, and sanskrit

    p.s. i don’t know about the ramayana but when reading the Mahabharata it was interesting to see the same EXACT indo-european motifs as in the liad/odyssey. two off topic of my head:

    divine twins

    day-sex is immoral (helen and paris had day-sex)

    1. I’m sorry but the fact that only well-educated men read the Iliad (which I have also read) is proof that it is not as great as the Ramayana. Every single Hindu throughout the world has read the Ramayana. The real power of it is that everyone reads it regardless of education.

      1. Every single Hindu throughout the world has read the Ramayana.

        This is a ridiculous statement. I am 98% sure you are trolling.(2% >2 sd below norm. in cognition)

  48. stop bullshitting or i’ll ban you again. perhaps every single hindu has WATCHED the ramayana, but no fucking way they READ it.

    in general written works are superior to film/tv when they start as the former and are adapted to the latter (to be frank, i think LotR is an exception to this). so to get a true measure of the ramayana i assume you need to read it. the iliad’s power is not just plot, but it’s lyrical and poetic meters.

    1. Actually I think Razib is a bit off the mark. Look up Akhand Ramayana, the ritual of reading the entire work cover to cover continuously, usually done by a group of families taking turns, with ceremonies at start and end. Lots of people (including myself) actually read it.

      1. Tulsidas Ramcharit manas != Valmiki Ramayana.

        Same characters and plot. Completely different literary work.

      2. you’re a brahmin. how general is this? most indians were illiterate until now so would have had to hear it orally anyhow (which is how the iliad was mostly transmitted anyhow)

        1. It’s not a Brahmin thing. Its cross Hindu.

          Tuslidas’ Ramcharitmanas Katha is a 16th century bhakti tradition devotional bhajan in a dialect of Hindi.

          Raamnaamis (who are famous for tattooing ram naam all over their body) are also quite famous for chanting it and they are dalits.

          It is not read exactly, it is sung.

          Very, very popular in North India., but it is also not the Sanskrit “Ramayana”.

          Come to think of it the Tulsidas verison is probably what Kabir is saying he ‘read’ given his Hindustani music background.

          1. Well the West as we all know is very dominant, and influential. There is a reason we are all communicating in English and it’s not because it’s a great language linguistically or grammatically.

            That said you are actually wrong on this, and to me it feels like you are projecting weird Pakistani anti-Dharmic assumptions onto the rest of the world.

            The Ramayana is extremely influential as a cultural / literary work.

            Ramayana is a huge part of the culture in the worlds most populous Muslim country (Indonesia).

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=geWwN3zgkCU

            How many Indians have read the great Chinese Novel “journey to the west”? (One of the 4 great Chinese novels and hugely influential in its own right)

            How many know the main character is influenced by the character Hanuman in the Ramayana?

            The Thai kings are still styled Rama and the central Thai Kingdom and it’s capital was called “Ayutthaya” (still a world heritage site you can visit in Bangkok)

            This is just off the top of my head.

          2. One of the first books to be translated into Arabic was Panchatantra (via Pahlavi). It’s certainly influenced M-E thought and also Arabic prose.

          3. Sure, Hinduism was very influential in Southeast Asia.

            However, in my literary judgement, the Western Canon is qualitatively superior to anything else.

            I find talking monkeys quite a turn off, so there went the Ramayana for me. The treatment of Sita is also absolutely appalling. And Indian women were actually taught to take this kind of shit from their husbands!

    2. @Razib

      (Commenting from a random id) Am I banned? Something is not right with the commenting system. Many of my comments (even trivial ones that I am sure were not thrown away by moderators) sometimes don’t show up at all.

      ‘no fucking way they READ it’

      In UP(specifically Awadh/Bundelkhand and maybe even Braj regions which primarily worship Shri Ram and Shri Hanuman) we have community ‘Sundar-Kanda’ part of Ramayan recitals every Tuesday in almost every temple(not just priests) or at home. Many people (can comment authoritatively about Yadav-heartland) read it on their own for their whole lives every week. My parents have a strange pact that one of them has to read it. Usually it is my father but my mother pitches in when he can’t do it. They have been doing it quietly for many decades now without mentioning it to anyone. My maternal grand parents did it before them.

      Everyone in my family and almost every even moderately interested hindu (except the illiterate who are always welcome to play manjira, dholak or harmonium or simply clap) I knew has recited it. In worst case scenario people repeat ‘samput’ after every verse. All this is due to Tulsidas who brought Rama to non-Brahmins.

      Then their are the quite common big Akhand(unbroken) Ramayan recitals(‘paath’ in Hindi) that people organize that run for days without stopping which need a lot of people to sing Ramayana(as the recital has to be continuous). A lot of people (usually teams of 3-5 each pitching in for 3-4 hours with extra helpers for water, food, manual fan, candles etc arrangements) are needed to pull it off and I have never heard anyone refusing to pitch in as and when needed.

      Overwhelming numbers of Thakur-Bamans-Baniyas-Yadavs and maybe even Kayasths have definitely read it.

    3. @Razib
      My longer comment is not showing up here. Has happened many times now for even trivial stuff that I am sure was not moderated out.

      He is not bullshitting.
      Akhand Ramayan+weekly Sundar Kanda recitation themselves are enough to ensure 10s of millions regularly sing the Ramayana in UP alone. Tulsidas brought Rama to non brahmans.

      The illiterate (religious) ones still remember key parts and at the very least sing the ‘samput’ and play the accompanying instruments or just clap.

      My parents (and their parents and grandparents before them) have an understanding that one of them will complete Sundarkanda of Ramayana every Tuesday no matter what happens. Usually it is my father who does it. They have done it quietly for decades without fail, maybe I will continue it someday primarily out of respect for my ancestors. Everyone (except youngsters) I know in Yadav-land of lower Awadh has read it.

    4. TBH, where I come from there is a different version of Ramyana, what we call as Kamba Ramyana and it is taught in the schools, regardless of whether as second or third language option. So in a way, somewhere close to 50-60% of the educated population would’ve have read at least a part of it in the 10+2 system of education. Also note that Mahabharata does not have any such distinction.

  49. Iliad and Mahabharata have the same cultural origins. Their similarities were already established by BP A&A think-tank (Anan&Arjun). We are waiting for worldwide announcement (btw I’ve noticed that some other researchers also work on this project). These epics are foundations of the world civilisation although the West tried artificially to extend the Greek history into the past to present the Iliad as the foundation of so-called ‘western’ civilisation.

  50. I think the original Valmiki one hardly anyone has ready it. Most folks in North, have read or have been narrated parts of Tuslidas’s Ramayana on which most of the TV shows are based. The work itself is quite good in poetic meters and all, if u are into those sort of stuff

    1. It is kind of strange, that this type of stuff is never really discussed by Indology types and I think Indian people just take it as background noise.

      All this discussion about the vedas, AIT, and stuff which no one really cares about. And is not that important in the lived experience of Hindus. We should be talking about aartis, pujas, bhajans, home temple shrines etc.

      I actually inadvertently memorized Tulsidas’ Hanuman Chalisa as an illiterate (sadly I am still illiterate in Indian languages) kid who didn’t even really verbally understand the archaic, poetic, Hindi.

      My grandma would sing it with me every night, from a book with lots of cool pictures illustrating every verse as a bed time story of sorts. And she would also explain the meaning of each verse in Gujarati when I asked.

      I also remember noticing other devotees quietly whispering it when I went to a temple on a visit to India.

      So must be very popular. And it is the most emotionally resonant Hindu bhajan for me, I still remember most of hanuman chalisa and the illustrations from that book as well. :o)

      1. “I actually inadvertently memorized Tulsidas’ Hanuman Chalisa as an illiterate (sadly I am still illiterate in Indian languages) kid who didn’t even really verbally understand the archaic, poetic, Hindi.”

        Another export from the Gangetic belt , the place of true Hindu-dom. 😛

        Anyway we also “Loaned” u our Yadav god as well, so i dont mind. U gujjus are good people.

  51. ‘no fucking way they READ it’

    In UP(specifically Awadh/Bundelkhand and maybe even Braj regions which primarily worship Shri Ram and Shri Hanuman) we have community ‘Sundar-Kanda’ part of Ramayan recitals every Tuesday in almost every temple(not just priests) or at home. Many people (can comment authoritatively about Yadav-heartland) read it on their own for their whole lives every week. My parents have a strange pact that one of them has to read it. Usually it is my father but my mother pitches in when he can’t do it. They have been doing it quietly for many decades now without mentioning it to anyone. My maternal grand parents did it before them.

    Everyone in my family and almost every even moderately interested hindu (except the illiterate who are always welcome to play manjira, dholak or harmonium or simply clap) I knew has recited it. In worst case scenario people repeat ‘samput’ after every verse. All this is due to Tulsidas who brought Rama to non-Brahmins.

    Then their are the quite common big Akhand(unbroken) Ramayan recitals(‘paath’ in Hindi) that people organize that run for days without stopping which need a lot of people to sing Ramayana(as the recital has to be continuous). A lot of people (usually teams of 3-5 each pitching in for 3-4 hours with extra helpers for water, food, manual fan, candles etc arrangements) are needed to pull it off and I have never heard anyone refusing to pitch in as and when needed.

    Overwhelming numbers of Thakur-Bamans-Baniyas-Yadavs and maybe even Kayasths have definitely read it.

  52. @Razib

    ‘no fucking way they READ it’

    In UP(specifically Awadh/Bundelkhand and maybe even Braj regions which primarily worship Shri Ram and Shri Hanuman) we have community ‘Sundar-Kanda’ part of Ramayan recitals every Tuesday in almost every temple(not just priests) or at home. Many people (can comment authoritatively about Yadav-heartland) read it on their own for their whole lives every week. My parents have a strange pact that one of them has to read it. Usually it is my father but my mother pitches in when he can’t do it. They have been doing it quietly for many decades now without mentioning it to anyone. My maternal grand parents did it before them.

    Everyone in my family and almost every even moderately interested hindu (except the illiterate who are always welcome to play manjira, dholak or harmonium or simply clap) I knew has recited it. In worst case scenario people repeat ‘samput’ after every verse. All this is due to Tulsidas who brought Rama to non-Brahmins.

    Then their are the quite common big Akhand(unbroken) Ramayan recitals(‘paath’ in Hindi) that people organize that run for days without stopping which need a lot of people to sing Ramayana(as the recital has to be continuous). A lot of people (usually teams of 3-5 each pitching in for 3-4 hours with extra helpers for water, food, manual fan, candles etc arrangements) are needed to pull it off and I have never heard anyone refusing to pitch in as and when needed.

    Overwhelming numbers of Thakur-Bamans-Baniyas-Yadavs and maybe even Kayasths have definitely read it.

    also something is not right with the commenting system. My comments (even trivial ones that I am sure were not thrown away by moderators) sometimes don’t show up at all.

    1. @Bhimrao,

      It happens in very urban Delhi as well. I have sat through family organized ones. It is generally a big affair. Any passerby can also join in.
      Don’t forget the Ramlilas organized every year, the whole story was enacted out in 10 days. I had the whole story by heart by the time I was 8. It is organized in USA as well. The tribal (MP) version which is sung out is quite famous as well. Ramacharitmanas – everyone knows the story. Some have read it, others know it from shruti. Even my 4 year old niece is listening to it from my parents during Covid.

  53. Bhimrao, a bunch of your comments were in ‘trash’ not ‘spam’

    you are not on the ban list (i checked). so no idea what happened.

    even if you said/did something spam filter trigger it should go into ‘spam’ and NOT ‘trash’

  54. Mahabharata and Ramayana were not supposed to be ‘literature’ or even revealed texts.

    I know many here like Razib don’t have time/desire to watch Youtube stuff posted by random people like me but consider giving the following playlist at-least a try for a detailed gora (and coconut) friendly introduction to Dharmic bedrock ideas, this guy just ‘gets’ it:

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh4VALzK9oQk2jGci7Q4_kne1s7FvoMVy

    @Prats have a look at these videos.

    ‘Gaze upon me, I manifest for thee
    Those hundred thousand thousand shapes that clothe my Mystery:
    I show thee all my semblances, infinite, rich, divine,
    My changeful hues, my countless forms. See! in this face of mine,
    Wonders unnumbered, Indian Prince! revealed to none save thee.
    Behold! this is the Universe!’

    -Krishna to Arjuna
    from Edwin Arnold’s translation of Bhagwad Geeta

  55. What “Indian” and “Hindu”????

    The British imperialists conquered/annexed the various kingdoms/nations of South Asia and consolidated them into a single unit called India for the ease of administration. Never before was there an entity with such size or name, including during the brief period of the Mauryas or the few centuries of Turko-Mughal rule, both of which excluded present day southern and northeast India. In reality, South Asia is more diverse than Africa, Europe, etc. A Kashmiri is racially as distinct from a Tamil as is an Italian from an Ethiopian, a Naga is culturally as distinct from a Bengali as is a Chinese from a Russian, a Gujarati speaker is linguistically as distinct from a Telugu speaker as is Arabic from German, and so on and on. The only commonality South Asians have is that: (1) they were formerly occupied/exploited by British imperialists and as a result their historic common struggle for freedom from British rule, (2) the British imposition of Hindi/Urdu (the native language of Delhi, UP, MP) and English on all South Asians which continues today in different guises, and (3) the British divide-and-rule policy based on religion which united Muslims against Hindus, and vice versa.

    And while we are at it, since Hindu fanatics are trying to change Muslim and British names to Hindu names, why don’t they also stop calling themselves Hindu and Indian? Hindu was a name given by the Perso-Turkic Muslim invaders. It were the Ghorids in the 12th century AD who for the first time in history imposed the terms of Hindu and Hindustan in South Asia. Similarly, the British and other European imperialists imposed the terms India/Indian/Indies to their colonies. Both terms, Hindu(stan) and Indi(a/an/es) are derived from ancient Persian and Greek corruption of the word Sindhu/Indus, a river in Muslim Pakistan.

    1. “What “Indian” and “Hindu”????”

      Everything to the east of Indus and South of Himalayas is the geographical India. All brown skinned people of different religions are by definition Hindus.

      “The British imperialists conquered/annexed the various kingdoms/nations of South Asia and consolidated them into a single unit called India for the ease of administration. Never before was there an entity with such size or name, including during the brief period of the Mauryas or the few centuries of Turko-Mughal rule, both of which excluded present day southern and northeast India.”

      All the countries in the world are like this. Name five that are exceptions.

      “In reality, South Asia is more diverse than Africa, Europe, etc. A Kashmiri is racially as distinct from a Tamil as is an Italian from an Ethiopian, a Naga is culturally as distinct from a Bengali as is a Chinese from a Russian, a Gujarati speaker is linguistically as distinct from a Telugu speaker as is Arabic from German, and so on and on.”

      So what? I ask this very seriously and expect an answer.
      Can’t there be multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious states?
      If this is so bothersome why do Pakistanis (who btw I am sure will ask for shariah-compliant state in Europe in the future) flock to places that are different from them in values/race/religion ?

      “The only commonality South Asians have is that: (1) they were formerly occupied/exploited by British imperialists and as a result their historic common struggle for freedom from British rule,”

      No! Hindus have had chaar-dhams in four directions of this landmass that almost each and everyone of them reveres . Shaktipeeths from Bangladesh to Balochistan. And why are you appropriating our freedom struggle? Muslim League collaborators didn’t endure any British police brutality nor did they spend any time in prison. The only thing they did was rip their own country open.

      (2) the British imposition of Hindi/Urdu (the native language of Delhi, UP, MP) and English on all South Asians which continues today in different guises,

      Utter BS. So many Bengalis/Tamils/Mallus don’t even understand spoken Hindi. Don’t project your policies on India.

      “and (3) the British divide-and-rule policy based on religion which united Muslims against Hindus, and vice versa.”

      Yawn.

      “And while we are at it, since Hindu fanatics are trying to change Muslim and British names to Hindu names, why don’t they also stop calling themselves Hindu and Indian?”

      India, Indus and Hindu both comefrom sanskrit word Sindhu. There was Indika/India in usage even before prophet’s great-great-great-great….. grandfather was born in the time of Alexander. If it is bothersome there is always Bharat.

      “Hindu was a name given by the Perso-Turkic Muslim invaders. It were the Ghorids in the 12th century AD who for the first time in history imposed the terms of Hindu and Hindustan in South Asia.”

      Stan comes from Sanskrit sthan meaning place (please correct me if I am wrong)

      “Similarly, the British and other European imperialists imposed the terms India/Indian/Indies to their colonies.”

      “Both terms, Hindu(stan) and Indi(a/an/es) are derived from ancient Persian and Greek corruption of the word Sindhu/Indus, a river in Muslim Pakistan.”

      What are you smoking? Which language does word ‘Sindhu’ comes from? Indus is in Pakistan because you are Indians not baddus, not turk, not farsi, but Indians.

      Pakistan on the other hand is a fucking acronym! A race/culture-ashamed people who spit on their own motherland, people and history in the favor of desert baddus. Pretending to be the offspring/collaborators of the very people who desecrated their gods and violated their mothers.

      https://twitter.com/mughalbha/status/1238773365302865920

      1. “…who btw I am sure will ask for shariah-compliant state in Europe in the future”

         They are already on such project in Bosnia; 3000 of them who came on fake travel visas issued by local islamists plus 9000 jihadists from other states, currently on standby and waiting for a signal (probably from US deep state).

        “Stan comes from Sanskrit sthan meaning place (please correct me if I am wrong”

         Wrote before with many examples – it came from the Serbian language (brought by Aryans), still is used as a modern word – yes ‘place’ but not any, then ‘place for living’, e.g. Baluchistan – ‘place where Baluchi live’.

    2. Meluhan,

      Totally agree. But as you can see from the response to you, the Hindutvadis on this forum will never accept it.

    3. >>The only commonality South Asians have is that: (1) they were formerly occupied/exploited by British imperialists and as a result their historic common struggle for freedom from British rule …
      That’s exactly what we would expect from a deracinated population. For people like you the history of Bharat is the history of its invaders because you’ve been uprooted from the culture of your ancestors. Guess what, their memory still lives strong in hundreds of millions of Hindus. Unlike a certain other country which celebrates the very people who invaded and subsequently looted, raped and murdered their ancestors, we still live by the ancient teaching in the Taittiriya Upanishad: Deva pitr karya bhyam na pramaditavyam, i.e., never forget your duties towards the Devas and your ancestors. Article 1 of the Indian constitution starts with “India that is Bharat” and we remember the meaning of the word Bharat that comes from the Vishnu Purana, which is older than even the prophet of Muslims.

      One would have hoped that you guys would learn something from observing the political journey of India and Pakistan. The fact that the two Muslim majority areas of the Indian subcontinent, which started out as one country, are today separated but Rajasthan, Tamil nadu and Bihar are in one country. The deep roots of our ancestors which are enshrined in the word Bharat which manifest in the culture of Hindus is what keeps these regions united. However, since you have been so deeply uprooted from the culture of your ancestors, you’d prefer to believe that they didn’t have any.

    4. @mehulan

      You forget the most important thing that they had in common was the sanatan dharma. Same belief in multiple deities, same stories, same after death rituals, similar lunar calendars…list goes on. This is the reason most of the states opted to join India, not Pakistan. Even though a UPite had nothing at all in common with Tamil, our common culture binds us.
      You are right, we are too different from each other. If it takes Ram to keep us together, then we should go for it.

    5. @ Meluhhan
      You said
      “A Kashmiri is racially as distinct from a Tamil as is an Italian from an Ethiopian”
      I am 100% sure Kashmiris and Tamils cant be that distinct, The best comparison should be like Tuscanis Vs Northern Europeans(Estonians/Lithuanians) or Balkans(Bosnians,Serbians etc) vs Turks etc.
      you are really exaggerating a lot.

  56. “Meluhan, Totally agree. But as you can see from the response to you, the Hindutvadis on this forum will never accept it.”

    Truth hurts them. They can keep hallucinating with Hindutva crap but at the end of the day the facts are overwhelming to disprove their rubbish nonsense.

    1. Hindutvadis are all idiots. They have no scholars on their side.

      They don’t even understand simple things like the fact that all nation-states are socially constructed and there was no “India” before August 15, 1947.

  57. Why is it important to debunk Hindutva claims though, i am curious. I mean Hindutva claim is for Hindus, it has no bearings on either people of other faith or countries. U are free to believe whatever u want.

    Or is it fear that Hindutva claim will morph into Indian claims. And Indian claims anyhow rests heavy on all subcontinental claims.

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