Browncast: Introducing History of India series

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We start a series of podcasts on the history of the Indian sub-continent. The series, in the spirit of all things Brown Pundits, will have unconventional yet authoritative voices. The aim of the series is to have a point of view(s) unencumbered by the baggage of ideology. We will shed light on the obscure aspects and cover the more popular narratives without the pressures of political correctness.

The publication of each episode will be accompanied by a list of books and references that the speakers have quoted in the episode.

In the first episode, Maneesh Taneja is in conversation with Dr. Omar Ali, Shrikanth Krishnamachary, and Gaurav Lele. We take 30,000 feet view of the history of the sub-continent. Our panel talks about, among other things, the early Indians, what holds 3000 years of uninterrupted civilization together, the origins of popular Indian dishes namely Idli & Dosa, and discover the links between Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra and Dev Anand.  

We look forward to your comments and hope you will point out errors and seek attribution, if we have missed any, from our speakers. Let the love and brickbats flow…

History of the Indian Sub-continent, Episode 1:


Dr Omar Ali (Twitter handle- @omarali50), Shrikanth Krishnamachary (Twitter handle- @shrikanth_krish) and Gaurav Lele (Twitter handle- @gaurav_lele) in conversation with Maneesh Taneja (Twitter handle- @maneesht).

Books, Papers and Authors:

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Skeptic | Aspiring writer | Wildlife enthusiast

57 thoughts on “Browncast: Introducing History of India series”

  1. Pre-neolithic archaeology in India isn’t extensively covered, but the neolithic to pre-early/mature IVC in northern India kind of is covered, so I would push it (the archaeological evidence of early Indian society) back from the mature Indus valley (which was relatively late) to the earliest neolithic dates of 7000 bc (though not the civilization). However, as far as I know, between 7000 bc and 3300 bc, sites in India were individually less populous than sites of Levant or Anatolia or southern Mesopotamia or even the Balkans. India suddenly explodes around 3300 bc, overtaking perhaps the peak population of Balkan sites up until that time, definitely overtaking Anatolia’s and Levant’s peak site populations and at least rivalling that of southern Mesopotamia. The region that used to have a relatively low hum of activity became very dynamic around 3300 bc. in that sense you could say it begins at the early to mature Indus valley phase during which many (but not all) of the sites were founded on previously unoccupied land (as opposed to an organic outgrowth). But the lead up is more interesting I think.

    1. Additionally I think that certain schools of philosophy- both among Astika and Nastika could have seeped in from pre-Indo-Europeans.

      1. I think, as we mentioned in the podcast, there are definitely many aspects of modern India that likely have pre-Aryan (IVC) influences.

        But it is near-impossible to establish them with any degree of certainty. It is speculation at best. Because there’s no literature that survives from anywhere in India outside of the Vedic corpus for the time period in question (pre 1000 BCE)

        1. >But it is near-impossible to establish them with any degree of certainty.
          This is true at least as long as there is no reference for Indus Valley and other pre-Indo-European South Asian people’s philosophy.
          And yes for now it is speculation only.

  2. First of all can we cover the topic as to how there was Islam in india before the prophet?

    I think the Hindu right wing was right after all. Everything started in india.

  3. Listened to the podcast.

    Writing something on the epistemological dimension of the discussion between speakers in the room.

    I counted the number of times speakers said, “we don’t know anything about IVC”, “nothing is known”, “Script we don’t know”, “nobody knows” – had to stop somewhere at the count of 19 or so…..It was almost like a meme bouncing back and forth.

    IVC is the most well preserved Bronze Age archaeological super-site among Asian examples of civilizations (Kenoyer, Shinde). The number of sites (in acreage) and artifact provenance (the oldest bronze casting and the oldest bronze statue are in IVC) exceed both China and Mesopotamia (other Bronze Age civilizations). In my own opinion, only the Nile Valley exceeds the Indus Valley in archaeological yields.

    The simple ontological truth that follows – if one cannot figure anything about IVC from its script and sites, how did you conclude anything about the Steppes which doesn’t even have a script and about 60 times fewer artifacts? I felt that the speakers were subconsciously channelling Witzel and Parpola who repeatedly use this “we don’t know anything about IVC” meme as a coping mechanism.

    One speaker (Gaurav? or Shrikanth?) make a point about cultural expression and literature and how its absence makes us blind to the existence of a culture. Important point!!

    For a very very long time, it is know that literary and cultural output is linked to societal surplus. Just look around you – the greatest centres of cultural production are physically co-located with centres of high GDP intensity (Mumbai, California, Paris, Nalanda, Library of Alexandria). Its the eternal truth, poets and bards are fed by kings and serfs.

    A bit disappointed with the speakers who did not exhibit the same anthropological curiosity for the IVC. Do the laws and appetites of a normal, sane, functional society not apply to the IVC?

    Koenraad Elst noted that until the 1980s, there was lively scholarly debate about the cultural output and literary expression of the IVC. Archaeologists led the path followed by cultural theorists. When the RJB movement began, the Marxist establishment shifted the Overton Window to “Ideological” for anyone proposing a synchronicity between India’s literary and archaeological inheritance.

    That spillover downstreams all the way to this Brown Pundits podcast.

    1. //A bit disappointed with the speakers who did not exhibit the same anthropological curiosity for the IVC. Do the laws and appetites of a normal, sane, functional society not apply to the IVC?

      Thanks for the feedback ! hope we do better next time
      I share your curiosity – But all reading of IVC remains speculative – on my one time and space i like to indulge in these speculations – but cannot say anything confidently. I am more fascinated by IVC and deep history in general.

      I have read Nayanjyot Lahiri, Upinder Singh, R Dhandekar, Witzel, Parpola, Mahadevan and Danino on IVC – about cultural self expression by IVC ppl these scholars are also cautious asserting anything beyond Archeology –
      we cannot be certain – atleast I cannot be certain so avoid it out of ignorance.

      Needless to say same is true for Steppe pastoralists – What we talked about was Vedic people – the composer of Vedas who left us huge amounts of materials and self expression which is easier for us to sparse than IVC or Steppe or other numerous cultures that may have existed in the Gangetic plains and Deccan.
      Anyways the discussion was QnA – so answers are against the question.

      Hopefully we will get rounded going ahead;

      1. Thank you, Gaurav!! Looking for a spectrum of opinions in the podcast next time.

        Its not a personal commentary on the speakers. I can see that they are reflecting the mores and biases of the mainstream. Thats why I alluded to Witzel and Parpola – who repeatedly evangelize that “we” don’t know anything about IVC. The effect is to reinforce that there is nothing worth theorizing about the IVC.

        The Indian commentariat and research community was not like this. Beginning with the Marxist stranglehold in the 1980s, every unapproved opinion was stilled and cast as “ideological”. And before the 1980s there was the widest possible speculation and cultural theorizing about IVC among Indian researchers.

        Irawati Karve (Yuganta fame), who started the Anthropology Department at Pune University and also Deccan College (now the home of Vasant Shinde, India’s leading archaeologist), made one of the most enduring contributions in IVC archaeological interpretation.

        She correctly speculated that the spatial segregation of living spaces we see in Indian towns and villages even today began in the IVC (Lower Citadel and Upper Citadel). Socio-economic segregation of living spaces began with a planned focus. Remember almost all of IVC sites are spatially laid out with precision. She theorized that this must have roots in social philosophy and not in engineering functionalism.

        Almost 50 years later, two American archaeologists found evidence of separate entrances and homes for “night-workers” who kept the sanitation system clean in Mohen-jo-daro.

        To say that India only began in 1500 BCE (Iron Age) is such a gross overlooking of archaeological facts. The social and economic structures of modern India are rooted all the way to the Bronze Age. Exactly like China.

        I would also point you to Bahata Mukhopadhyay’s radical re-interpretation of the IVC script. She says it is metrological and certain signs are closely linked to the Abrus precatorius seed (Ratti/ Gunja) which is used even today for measuring gold by Indian jewellers!! 8 Ratti = 1 Masha, 12 Masha = 1 Tola.

        IVC is re-gaining ground in the minds of Indians as the ancestral source of Indian social organization and economic philosophy (in addition to linguistics). BP should start paying attention to these trends.

        1. Thanks for your comments, Ugra
          Some comments –
          1. The podcast cannot cover everything under the sun. The answers are also in response to the questions asked which centered around earliest Indians and Indian-ness. Which inevitably makes us focus on the literary record.

          2. This was not a deep-dive into IVC’s material cultures. Establishing linkages between the material cultures of IVC and modern India in the absence of any literary record / deciphered scripts is always going to be contentious.

          3. We did cite Danino multiple times in the call! And I even reference the research of his that tries to establish links between IVC’s urban planning and later classical Indian cultures.

          If our objective is ideological partisanship, Danino wouldn’t be cited 🙂

  4. This still seems like a myopic view. Dravidians are quite distinct from North Indians and probably they settle in the subcontinent far before Aryan arrival.

    1. First of all Shrikant,

      Dravidians are not distinct from North Indians – I would use the word distinct to describe Tibeto-Burmans Not Dravidians. South Indians are as distinct from North Indians as South Chinese are from North Chinese – there is gradation not distinctiveness.

      About settlement in subcontinent – yes but it’s very likely that when the first IndoAryans started pouring into subcontinent what we see as Dravidians were not south of Deccan. Whatever archaeological records we have of South are in the first millenium CE not second.

      Also mostly importantly the discussions were QnA – answers to specific questions. Indian civilization as we understand it today is easier to go back to the Vedic times – much more difficult to peg it back to IVC with undeciphered script and much more to the various Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures that were predominant across the subcontinent.
      Any links to the Pre Vedic past are rife with speculation.

      And the both the speakers (srikant n me) made it abundantly clear that there are legacies from pre Vedic times – just we can state those with the certainty as we can with Vedic traditions.

      1. “Dravidians are not distinct from North Indians”

        ☝️ Did someone try saying that to this guy? I would have paid to see his reaction.

        “About settlement in subcontinent – yes but it’s very likely that when the first IndoAryans started pouring into subcontinent what we see as Dravidians were not south of Deccan. ”

        Believe it or not, there is a Hindi tv serial, written by a Dravidian, on this very same topic

        1. Jokes aside – Dravidians as “distinct” is an untenable position both genetically as well as culturally. Not that it matters a tosh for Dravidian Nationalists or people wanting to conjure up Aryan Dravidian faultlines to beat their real or imagined enemies (Hindutva) –

          1. @gaurav
            That dravidians aren’t racially distinct is one thing, but culturally? There are cultural faultlines all over India, and the linguistic familial ones are arguably non-trivial. As for the southern cultural signature, take the following, consanguineous marriage, institutional monastic hinduism (math system), totemic clan structures (quite distinct from gotra). I’d also say there are notable differences in concepts of intimacy and manners. I think there’s a great deal of mutual appreciation between north and south, but that’s not the same as likeness.

          2. I feel like most things North of Vindhyas, this whole view about ‘Dravidians/South as “distinct” is an untenable position’ is a rosy picture we N-Indians try to portray.

            Its like how N-Indians say that, the thing which unites India is Bollywood and cricket. No one has asked S-Indians about their view.

          3. gitmit :
            ofcourse there are many differentiating features across the country – religion is much more potent. Also Naturally there are average differences between North and South – but then there is Maharashtra, Telangana, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh – It isnt THE Distinction but a Distinction
            OTOH both Punjab and Kashmir are culturally North india but maintain distinction right ?

            No point arguing you about South India –
            And its not Bollywood and cricket that unite India but a shared Culture thats obvious I guess. Also we keep forgetting there are 5 southern state – out of which Dravidism is a currency in only One – and even their the effect is overstated.

          4. @gaurav,
            Bluntly, the genetic difference is that in south ivc + aasi shifted populations have the upper hand while in the north steppe shifted ones have the upper hand. Rest is all details about levels of admixture and clines. You may not like it but you can’t ignore it.

          5. Bhumiputra,
            Everyone on this blog knows that – I am not denying it.
            Is it DISTINCT ? Those clines are also present East – West (wrt AASI enrichment). Also in the Varna hierarchy. But its more along the lines (more of A less of B less of C)
            IMO Tibeto Burmese are “distinct” South Indians are NOT

            Jatts and Rors have up to 30% Steppe ancestry right ? are they
            “distinct” among average ethnic Punjabis ? Such gradations along N-S are seen in all geographies not just India hence the push back.

          6. “No point arguing you about South India”

            LOL, why though?

            In all my days, never thought i would be thrown shade at, for defending S-Indians.

            “OTOH both Punjab and Kashmir are culturally North india but maintain distinction right ?”

            Do u mean something along the lines of more Hindu-less Hindu region ? 😛

      2. The Neolithic of South India goes back to around 3000 BC and expanded from Andhra Pradesh + Karnataka to Tamil Nadu as time went on. Although we don’t know if these were the Dravidian language speakers, or speakers of a related cousin-like but different language group. I think the simplest scenario is a Dravidian expansion southward starting around 3000 BC or 2500 BC. It could be made more complicated by adding in a halted period of 1000 to 2000 years which would have them stay mostly outside of South India (with only related but not Dravidian-speaking groups moving south at the time) until 1000 BC and then suddenly expanding southward, but I’d rather go with the simpler one.

        1. I meant the archeological records of “civilization” as in Keeladi or others are from first millenium bce. Yeah they could have gone south earlier or stayed in Deccan. But that’s all speculations I guess. Unless someone is able to link Deccan Neolithics (Ashmound) etc to “Dravidians” or even IVC but as far as I know the those links are tenuous.

          My theory is Dravidians was the South IVC (Sindh-Gujarat) where as north had other languages – language X or Kubha-Vipas substrate as Witzel calls it.

  5. Something that I haven’t asked so far, since you guys implied that it is better to start with the Vedic period, will you guys passingly cover regional cultures like Malwa and Jorwe type as a small section of the larger discussion?

    1. We will plan on convering 1 episode entirely on Pre-Vedic history (IVC, Chalcolithic cultures and maybe even some more) ! But in different format I guess. This episode was more of QnA with specific questions

  6. Interesting albeit a bit unsatisfactory as the commentators kept harking back to Vedic times as the start of Indian history. They were factually correct, and yet somewhat wrong in their omission of IVC and non-Vedic Indo Aryan heritage. Some have postulated that Magadha and associated Sramana religions represent the non-Vedic Indo Aryan stream of Indian thought, culture and history. Hope they cover this aspect in the following episodes.
    I wonder if the background the commentators has played a role in their (unconscious) bias in a certain direction. At least one of them is what some might call a “trad”, with a very, what other trads call “v1”, centric views

    1. What can we add about non Vedic heritage of Indian faith systems, self conception and also Hinduism that goes back to Pre-Vedic times ? What can we add which can be Certain ?

      Should we speculate about Shiva Pasupati seal or Durga Seal in IVC ? I have done it on this space but have to acknowledge it’s “speculations” and proto/pre history not history as we define it.

      I did touch upon Deccan cultures – Daimabad – but would you want speculations about their funery rites or malnutrition towards the end ? Or about self-conception of people who gave rise to Ashmound culture and Ratnagiri petroglyphs ?

      This discussion was not a definite history per se but QnA. Do you think any Pre Vedic thoughts can be confident talked as having self-conception we understand to this day ? We don’t even know what IVC people called themselves – the name western name Meluha aside.

      Personally I think it’s quite likely that Magadhan Sramana evolved outside of Core KuruPanchala Brahaman traditions as speculated by Johannes Brockhorst – I touched upon that in some other blogpost. However I don’t think it was a distinct enough culture to be branded Non Vedic – albeit different enough – as many of those strands are captured in later Vedic texts and especially Upanishads (even if Brockhorst is partially right).

      But that speculative as you also indicate right ? We just wanted to avoid “speculations”

      1. Gauravl: You are right that there is just not much that we know about IVC to speculate intelligently about what aspects of it’s culture have lived on in India. As far as the nom-Vedic India Aryan culture, let’s call it Magadhan, it seems a lot is / can be known. Looking forward to learning a bit more about it through your podcast. You might to consider inviting guest speakers that are lay “experts” in the particular topics that you would be discussing in an episode. For example, for pre Islamic medeival.Western Indian / Rajput history Adivaraha @ Twitter or the person running Gujarat History Twitter handle would be a good add (although it may not be logistically feasible)

        1. I reckon that should be covered during the Janapada period (later episode).

          Also i am myself not convinced “Magadhan” is Non Vedic per se – as clearly later Vedic compositions were located inside the “Magadhan” region – be it Yajurveda or Upanisads. Only later (around time of Pre Mahavira Jainas) can we say that these Sramanas became distinct enough. Even that is rife with speculation – much more so than analyzing Core Vedic texts.

  7. I did touch upon Deccan cultures – Daimabad – but would you want speculations about their funery rites or malnutrition towards the end ? Or about self-conception of people who gave rise to Ashmound culture and Ratnagiri petroglyphs ?

  8. Sikhs brutally lynch a man in Golden Temple. In Golden Temple!!!

    Someone they had caught and could have questioned and paraded in front of the world to show off their power & magnanimity. Instead they had to brutally beat him to death.

    Not just that. Multiple gangs of Sikhs gathered at the gates in order to ensure that the man was indeed lynched and not handed over to law.

    And after all this there isn’t a prominent Sikh who isn’t openly celebrating this act.

    I just wish Sikhs stop calling their temple harmandir or hari-mandir. They anyways do not want to have any association with Hinduism. They should not besmirch the name of Hari by appending it to a place where brutal gangs of psychopaths can murder hapless victims anytime.

    I don’t know about other Hindus but I am done with Gurudwaras. Never going to visit one again.

    1. I agree the Sikhs especially jatts are overplaying their hand in these blasphemy episodes as well as farm Bills. However the golden temple incident is qualitatively different from the other suspected/made up sacrilege cases. What would/should Hindu rw/devotee response be if someone made an attempt at defining Somnath/Kashi/Ayodhya?

    2. Sikhs are dharmic but highly defiant of brahminism (sikhism *is* punjabi hinduism). The equivalence between the latter and hinduism is what fuels their separatism. People want hinduism to be a big tent politically, but also follow old orthodoxies. Can’t have both, even the OBC honeymoon with hindutva with collapse eventually under that arrangement

      1. Religions are what their followers make of them in the present world. It matters very little what the original religious texts contain. It matters a lot more how the followers of a religion behave in the present world.
        Sikhism of today is a “Jatt” ethno-supremacist cult. Dharmic or non-dharmic lens is a wrong way to look at it. These guys are not spiritual philosophers. Being defiant of “Brahminism” is irrelevant and is just used by Sikhs as an excuse for their supremacist behavior. Brahmins haven’t been a force in Punjab region for thousands of years now. The modern Indian state is not Brahminical.
        There hardly are Sikhs who make philosophical or spiritual arguments any more. All one hears is constant refrain of how Jatts Sikhs are superior to everyone around them or conspiracy theories of how evil Hindus/India etc are trying to bring them down.
        Anyway bad behavior by Sikhs causes nobody more harm than them. I feel if Sikhs might have played their cards right after 1947, they could have converted nearly all of North India’s peasant castes to their fold. This was a religion which could have been packaged as a caste-free Hinduism with a glorious recent history of resistance against invaders. But the Thekedars of Sikhism were more interested in extremely narrow minded Jatt supremacism and separatism.
        I am a bit more sanguine about the future of Hinduism and Hindutva than you. I feel Hinduism has shown a decent ability to adapt over its history of 3000 years and incorporate learnings from other cultures. Following old orthodoxies is not what modern Hindus are very passionate about. Culturally Hinduism and Hindutva should strengthen as India gets wealthier.
        Politically I feel, OBCs being as Hindu as anybody else will continue voting for for political Hindutva parties depending on the circumstances.

        1. In the last 300 years or so, we have the examples of Jatts, Marathas and Yadavs who enthusiastically tried to don the Hindutva mantle on the premise of being granted Kshatriya status only to be denied that by UCs. you underestimate that resentment.
          The UC conception of Hindutva requires OBCs subordinating their political and economic interests to UCs. The OBC conception of Hindutva requires UC technical expertise but politically they imagine themselves to be in drivers seat. Modi is rare politician who has pulled off a political alignment between UCs and OBCs. I don’t see anyone in BJP next gen who can pull that off. That is the main vulnerability.

          1. “In the last 300 years or so, we have the examples of Jatts, Marathas and Yadavs who enthusiastically tried to don the Hindutva mantle on the premise of being granted Kshatriya status only to be denied that by UCs.”
            Looking at things from an upper caste-lower caste perspective is wrong. Who exactly is upper caste apart from Brahmins? Who is lower caste apart from Dalits. Various communities in India have always been fluctuating in the middle of these 2 extremes once the Brahmin caste more or less solidified perhaps by 500 BC. Farmers became rulers, rulers became traders etc.

            Brahmins have had absolutely zero power to deny any indigenous farming-caste group in its bid for power throughout history. In the 18th century Jats, Jutts and Marathas created kingdoms and generally became the new Kshatriyas. Why do you think that the Scindias or the Bharatpur rulers had (or have) any less power and prestige than any “pure-blood” Sisodia Rajput. Does Kshatriya ‘status’ have any relevance when you have actual power?

            Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar. The Bharatpur kings were patrons of Krishna temple at Mathura. Brahmins were happy enough being patronized. They did not have the power to scorn the patronage coming from “non-Kshatriya” rulers.

            Even in ancient and medieval times most indigenous dynasties like the Nandas, Mauryas, Guptas, Gurjara-Pratihara etc probably came from pastoral or farming communities. After all its these groups who have the man-power, the attachment to land and the ethos (asabiya) to create armies and grab power.

            Brahmins did have the power to record history and create narratives though since they were a pan-Indian literate group. Throughout history Brahmins have eulogized as a Kshatriya whichever king has paid them for it.

          2. I dont think the Marathas and Patels can be put in the same plane as the Jats and Yadavs.

            In the case of Marathas, they have a clear, identifiable imperial history, with significant royal families continuing to the current day. In the modern day, they have benefited from Mumbai and Maharashtra’s central role in the Indian economy.

            For Patels, their heroes were always Banias and Jains, and they have moved steadily into the entrepreneurial ranks, owning and running significant companies like Cadila for example.

          3. “Looking at things from an upper caste-lower caste perspective is wrong. Who exactly is upper caste apart from Brahmins?”

            @Janmejaya, I believe in north indian perspective, apart from brahmins, Rajputs/Kshatriyas can be considered as upper caste apart from Brahmins. The
            opposition against claims of Jatts, Marathas and Ahirs(Yadavs) on kshatriya status came from Rajputs if I am correct.

          4. Lol even banias are considered “twice born” and can wear sacred thread. But many consider them mid caste, unless they are shitting on them (eg. Brahmin Bania hegemony comments)

  9. Since the podcast is about the history of *India* and not history of things that happened in the geographic boundaries of India, it makes sense to mostly gloss over IVC and not go in detail about pre-Vedic occurances.
    Relating to this transitional period which cascades unto the early period of interest for the podcast: Vagheesh Narasimhan said something which could be linked to stuff like battle of the ten kings in a video (I’ll post the link later). He himself made a connection to Mahabharata instead.

      1. I have seen the whole discussion; Greater Magadha symposium – not great i would add.

        Why does he keep saying AASI are hunter gatherers ? I think many AASI might have been agricultural outside the IVC complex;

        I think to the particular point is that – Aryanizaton occurred post fall of Magadhan state by Composers of Epics (who had the memory of Dasarajna) – who extrapolated the epics.
        So in way Vagheesh is trying to fit whatever sparse data we have on Greater Magadha thesis.
        Anyways thats a wrong take IMO – like the whole Greater Magadha spiel

        1. Which agricultural complex are you talking about? I know of one instance in Sri Lanka which did not last.

        2. > I think many AASI might have been agricultural outside the IVC complex;

          I am still waiting for your specification on this. What did you have in mind?

          1. “I think many AASI might have been agricultural outside the IVC complex;”

            Gangetic plains especially the 6th millenium sites of lahuradewa where evidences of rice farming are found could be one such example. I think AASI folks were practising rice farming in gangetic plains

          2. @td
            I think people of that region at that point of time were admixed with Iran HGs. I predict that the Iran like ancestry would have entered deep into North India by 10,000 years ago or a little earlier.

  10. What do you guys think is Brahmanism?

    It seems to be different things to different people and a very good bogeyman for all sorts of ideological groups.

    1. In ritual terms, it means most OBCs having to dependent on Brahmin priests for major life milestones I.e. birth, marriage, death etc.
      In more philosophical terms, brahmanism is the religious dependency on an outside endogamous group which considers itself superior to your group.
      The real long term and fair solution is another state reorganization which considers caste/ethnicity in addition to language. UCs can have a state stretching from parts of Gj, RJ, MP, UP, UK, HP. A reverse crescent shaped state of you will 😄. That way every caste group will be assured of baseline political spoils. Then we can have real federal competition between states/castes . This means that center is restricted to few core areas of defense, communication and inter state commerce.

      1. “UCs can have a state stretching from parts of Gj, RJ, MP, UP, UK, HP. A reverse crescent shaped state of you will ”

        I see a lot of UCs online asking for a separate region/state/nation due to increasing domain of reservations and more caste based government welfare schemes which excludes them( On social media sites, I see many UC zoomers and young millenials having a very dystopian view of their future in India.)
        However, I don’t see the above scenario materializing unless there is radical disruption in the society.

    2. @Prats
      Brahminism (to me) is a scholastic style of hinduism which tends to value ritual purity greatly. Sanskrit as a medium is essential and it gets abstruse for a person of common sensibilities. It tends to see authentic hinduism as whatever follows from the font of vedic wisdom.
      In contrast, “demotic” hinduisms are the inverse wherein hinduism just the way hindus live and worship. Its religion as a phenomena. Its the minute tribal and clan deities as well as the trinity, and the vedic pantheon. Its the “commonwealth of religions” idea of hinduism. Distinct traditions that over time have amalgamated and adopted much of the same theological scaffolding, but if we go back far enough were probably distinct ethnic religions.

    3. In Caravan magazine , someone wrote that Brahminism was the reason for Covid. So there is that…

  11. Laughable that the panelists saw “tolerance” and “diversity” as key features of Indian thought but refused to state the sociological trait that defines Indians as much as AASI – hierarchical varna + endogamous jati.

    Also an excessive focus on vedic Brahmanism as a unifying tradition. I would argue that the Indian village culture of landlords, labour castes, artisan castes, untouchables, local animist and spirit worship (even Brahmins worship their “kula deva”) are equally widespread features.

    Regarding the arts, there isn’t much continuity in music to the Vedas – certainly there’s an influence from vedic chant but there was a clear break in the tradition between the Natya Sastra (“grams”) and the Ratnakara (“raga”, not mentioned by Bharata). One feature that remained since at least the Gupta period was that of a courtesan tradition keeping alive music and dance in both Hindu (devadasi) and Muslim (tawaif) communities. And like the famous IVC dancing girl, our dancers still love bangles!


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