- Why I Hate Hot Yoga. ~ Maya Georg (elephantjournal.com)
- Protesting Yoga in Schools, But Welcoming Bible Study (richarddawkins.net)
- Yoga Clichés that Must Die. ~ Maya Georg (elephantjournal.com)
- History Channel THE BIBLE Highest Ratings on Cable in 2013 (americanlivewire.com)
- Rewriting the Bible: The Gospel According to Liberals (newsbusters.org)
- “The Bible” Leads to Perception Gains for History Channel Among Conservatives, Christians (forbes.com)
- Bible book fair opens on a colourful note (thehindu.com)
Indic Justice …
The on-going saga of the Ambani brothers’ dispute, brings home how deeply and completely Indic norms of justice and fair play have been lost. The Ambani brothers have approached the Prime Minister and are pressing their cases in the Supreme Court for justice. Such a form of dispute redressal is alien and remote to Indic thought.
The other apparently unrelated ‘event’ is the much promoted and publicised book, The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen, has no clue about justice (at least on Indic thoughts on justice). Apart from a few token mentions about Ashoka Maurya and Akbar Moghul, he has very little to say about Indic thought on justice.
But he speaks very volubly on Western thinkers and thought on justice.
The wise king delivers justice
To bring out the contrast, one has only to read the Biblical story of King Solomon’s justice (where two prostitutes claimed the surviving baby as theirs). The point worth noting is that this paradigm of justice centralizes solutions and concentrates power in the hands of some central authorities.
So, whether it King Solomon or Caliph Haroun Al Rashid (the King in disguise), or the Turkish Çapanoglu Ahmet Pasha (of the bell of justice fame which even a donkey could ring to summon the king for justice) – the model was the all-knowing King. Variations of the Donkey /Horse and the Bell of Justice story is localized and retold in various cultures.
Going back earlier, the Desert Bloc model of seeking justice was captured in the story of Tehuti-nekht (the oppressive overseer); a ‘sekhti’ (the poor salt-trader) the ‘clever’ Meruitensa (The Grand Vizier /Supreme Judge) and The Wise Pharoah Nebkanra.
The Duke of Venice perpetuates the myth of justice in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The more than 120 Doges of Venice who ruled Venice for nearly a 1000 years, preserved the myth of justice during the Middle Ages.
In modern times, as republican democracy made Emperors and Kings redundant, the Smart Lawyer took over the justice function, in the garb of legal thrillers.
Perry Mason replaced The Wise Emperor as the fount of justice. John Grisham keeps company with many writers about legal-eagles, who go out to save the innocent from the hangman- and send the guilty into the dock. Like John Buchan, GK Chesterton, Wilkie Collins, et al.
Hollywood used the legal thriller genre with assembly line regularity – with successes galore, like Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution (1957), with earlier instances like Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich, or the screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), or the more modern Erin Brockovich (2000)and My Cousin Vinny (1992).
All quiet on the Indian front …
In more than 1000 Indic books, that record more than 10,000 years of history, there is no instance of any dispute reaching an Indic King.
The longest ancient epic in the world, The Mahabharata has no incident where a private dispute reached Yudhisthir (though a mongoose could lecture the King about sacrifices and yagnas). There was never any case of private dispute, recorded in the Ramayana, that reached Ramachandra (though a dhobi could ‘inform’ the king on bazaar talk about the Queen Sita). Even a poor Brahman, Kautsa, could reach King Raghu for help in the disbursal of guru-dakshina गुरु-दक्षिणा.
In yet another instance, rulers were warned against disproportionate punishment – through the Mandavya incident. Mandavya, was punished by Yama (the God of Death) for his ‘crimes’ as a child, of hurting insects. Through a chain events, Mandavya ended up, impaled on a trident /stake. After best efforts to remove the offending weapon, a part remains inside Mandavya’s body.
With a trident through his body, Mandavya confronted Yama. Mandavya, the sage, berates Yama for ‘criminalising’ children. Codifying the principle of juvenile justice, Mandavya exhorts “that no action committed by a human being till he is fourteen years of age shall be regarded as a sin which it would thereafter.” In turn, Mandavya curses Yama to be born as a shudra child – to learn about the ‘reality’ of life. Yama, born to shudra woman, became Vidura, Dhritarashtra’s court.
In Buddha’s childhood, an injured swan becomes a point of legal dispute with his cousin, Devadatta. The injured swan, Devadatta’s hunting /archery practice target, was claimed by Siddhartha. Some minister’s preferred Prince Siddhartha’s claim, due to his position. Since the hunt was not for food, but for pleasure, Devadutta’s claim over the swan was seen as weak. Finally the claim of the saviour was seen as superior to the claim of the hunter /captor. Replace the swan, with a slave, and the legal principle for any dispute between a slave-owner versus slave-liberator, is established. The same principle is evidenced in Artha-shastra in many shlokas.
The Tamil classic, Silappadikaram, is ancient Tamil drama about the perils of royal justice. Silappadhikaram is, a literary critic informs us is “a saga of the of the cult of the Goddess Pattini … the first ripe fruit of the Aryan-Dravidian synthesis in Tamil Nadu.” Who is Goddess Pattini? Once a widely worshipped Goddess in South India, now limited to modern Sri Lanka “Pattini was an angry deity, whose anger was directed at evil people and she is also associated with rational justice.” The destruction of the city by Pattini, the Goddess of ‘rational’ justice, is a warning against vengeful royal ‘justice’ – and instead move towards ameliorative Indic justice system.
Elango Adigal warns Indic kings from taking over and interfering with dispute resolution mechanisms. The Pandyan King, Neduncheziyan, in Silappadikaram, comes to grief, after royal intervention goes horribly wrong, resulting in miscarriage of justice.
It gets worse! No prisons …
Modern econometric modelling shows that for much of the last 1000 years, India has been a significant economic power – till the 1900. China and India, this analysis estimates, for the last 1000 years, accounted for 50% of the world economy. Statistical analyses showed India with a world trade share of 25% for much of the 500 years during 1400-1900. The interesting (historical) aspect of the criminal management story is the absence of any surviving mass jails in India prior to colonial India. Just how did pre-colonial India, one of the largest (and most prosperous) populations of the world, deal with crime and criminals?
But then crime rate in India must be really high …
Cut to modern India. With such an inheritance, India has the lowest prison population in the world. How can India have such a low prison population, with a poor police-to-population ratio and a crime rate which is not above the average – in spite of a large civilian gun population.
All the 5 indices (below) create a bias for a lawless Indian society and rampant crime. With these five indices, namely: –
- Police to population ratio (‘increase police force’)
- Prison population (‘put more criminals behind bars’)
- Capital punishment (‘kill enough criminals to instill fear’)
- Poverty (‘it is poverty which the root of all crime’)
- Gun ownership (‘more guns means more crime’)
against a stable social system, how does current day India manage low-to-average crime rates. More than 2000 years ago, Megasthenes a Greek traveller to India wrote,
Theft is of very rare occurrence. Megasthenes says that those who were in the camp of Sandrakottos, wherein lay 400,000 men, found that the thefts reported on any one day did not exceed the value of two hundred drachmae, and this among a people who have no written laws
Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade.
In modern times, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus – though a power in computing industry. In August 2008, a hoax story alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database, and sold it to the European underworld. Some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.
The Indic model of justice, crime and law
Evidence of a different Indic system goes far back in history. To Lipit Ishtar, Hittite laws, Hammurabi et al. At least as far back as 4000 years back in history. Indian kings did not deliver justice. It was done at the local level by panchayats पंचायत. Indian justice systems did not rely on imprisonment or executions or the police to control crime!
The answer – the world’s most stable marriage system and the extended family-social structures took care of the wayward.
A recent Hollywood film on the Desert Bloc system of justice was the schizophrenic Breaker Morant – by Bruce Beresford. In the closing lines of Breaker Morant, when asked about his religion, Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant declares that he is a pagan.
When the execution detail comes to get Morant and Handcock, the military chaplain asks their religious affiliation. “Pagan.” replies Morant. “What’s a pagan?” inquires Handcock. Morant replies, “Well, it’s somebody who doesn’t believe there’s a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.” Handcock nods and says to the chaplain, “I’m a pagan too.” (extract from Wikipedia; accessed on 25th January, 2010).
I have always wondered how much the writer knew – and understood the import of that statement.
In India, under the onslaught of the Desert Bloc, Akbar-Birbal stories, Tenali Ram-Krishna Devaraya were used to create expectations of a Wise King. From then on, the Indic system of justice crumbled at a faster pace.
Is it that Indians were ‘saints’ and did not have private disputes? Were they so civilized that they could solve all disputes by talking to each other? Is it that Indian kings were not bothered about delivery of justice!
Good Job, Dinesh
I dont see Haiti mentioned in most discussions about the abolition of slavery – and I am intrigued by this whitewash. These two blogs possibly best represent attempts this ‘white wash.’
One is from a member of the US Conservative Right, part of the Republican propaganda team – aapla, our own, Dinesh DeSouza. He tries, speciously and very hard, to show how it is the White, Christian, Americans who actually freed the slaves – after the slaves were sold into slavery by their Black Brothers.
Of course, he cannot see the long history of trade in slaves, the laws and might of the State which enforced this trade. There is no mention of the continuing attempts (under disenfranchisement laws) to deny Blacks, their voting rights. He does not see the more than 200 slave uprisings in USA (alone). Dinesh does a fabulous hatchet job on why I should volunteer to become a colonial subject (if not a slave) of the West or the Raj again. Bro.Dinesh DeSouza does not publish dissenting comments.
The second blog, by an academic, celebrates a pseudo-anniversary. This post, by ‘a professor at a large state university,’ abandons academic integrity, to promote propaganda, instead of academic excellence. At least, he published dissenting comments.
Or for this matter this book review in The Times about slavery – which doesn’t once mention the one reason, why slavery was abolished – Haiti and slave revolts.
What most of these mainline and popular press fail to mention is the determined Black struggle for overthrow of slavery. Between 1789-1833, more than 20 slave rebellions occured in the Caribbean – one every 2 years. It were these slave revolts that ‘persuaded’ the West to abolish slavery. In the USA, about 200 slave uprising and revolts occurred in the USA before the Civil War.
In the beginning
Boukman Dutty, a Voudou N’Gan (oungan, houngan, voodoo priest), killed a pig as a part of an African tribal ritual Bwa Kayiman, dedicated to his ancestors and Ogoun, God of fire, iron and war. Ogoun and Erzulie Dantor (Ezili Dantor), a Vodou l’wha (loa) a warrior spirit, responded to this call to protect these slave warriors.
25th August. Night of Fire
50,000 slaves rose in revolt. More than 1000 sugar and coffee plantations were put to fire. Flames could be seen as far as Bahamas. From 31st December 1803, to 1st January, 1804, liberation brought about by vengeance was celebrated, and independence was declared.
St. Dominque, now called Haiti, was a French colony with 800 sugar plantations and 4,00,000 slaves from Niger and Dahomey (now Benin) in West Africa. Haiti, the jewel of French colonies, accounting for 40% of French GDP in 1700s, was the largest market for slaves in Atlantic trade. It was the largest producer of sugar in the world and competed with British colonies (like India) for indigo production and had thousands of coffee plantations.
Christopher Columbus was the first European who came to Haiti and started the exploitation of Haiti. What happened to the original population of Haiti? An estimated 1.3 million, may have been 3-4 million (admittedly not white, but nevertheless) people. Done to death by forced labour in silver mines over 10 years.
Birth Of Haiti
The Haitian Revolution earned the displeasure of Napoleon Bonaparte. The threat of a politically-free Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) with a freed black slave population challenged Euro-American imperial ‘needs’.
This created a “terrified consciousness” (Anthony Maingot) among slave masters. To restore slavery (the local population and its leaders were, of course, not consulted), and Napoleon sent General Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc (his brother-in-law) with about 10,000 French troops, the finest, in 1802 to accomplish this aim. A futile effort. “Napoleon lost the colony, his brother-in-law, and most of the 44,000 troops eventually sent out to conduct the savage and bitter campaign of reconquest”.
After the revolution in Haiti, Spaniards and the British rushed in to take advantage of this opportunity and to re-enslave the rebels. The newly freed slaves time and again beat back the new British and Spanish enslavers.
“The army failed. Five years and more than 12,000 British deaths later, the redcoats withdrew. An army of rebel enslaved Africans had defeated the army of the world’s superpower, and the largest slave-trading nation. The humiliation of this defeat sent a shock wave through the British establishment and, indirectly, strengthened the forces in parliament that voted to abolish the slave trade in 1807.” (from William Wilberforce: The Real Abolitionist? By Adam Hochschild)
The Haitians, initially led by Boukman Douty, re-grouped under Toussaint Louverture, Georges Biassou, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe.
Shivas dun mai spoiwne
Haiti’s developments stampeded Europe and USA. Afraid that US slaves will follow the Haiti example, US did not recognise Haiti, till November 1864 – 60 years after Haiti declared Independence.
“dull, tasteless and anomalous” Blacks would have “ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the injuries they have sustained, new provocations, the real distinctions which nature has made, and many other circumstances will divide us into parties and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.“
Controlled Onshore Slavery
Restrictions on slavery were discussed all over Europe and USA. The US placed restriction on import of slaves – which increased the price of existing slaves in the trade market. But slave traders like Jean Laffitte soon ran rings round this by smuggling slaves from Cuba. Merchants and traders protested against Jean Laffitte’s smuggling of other products. Planters did not like slave traders because the slave traders made slaves ‘expensive’. The planters pressured Government’s into passing various laws restricting ‘trade’ in slaves.
Jean Laffitte’s smuggling operations stopped in 1821. After 14 years of successful slave smuggling. Jean Laffitte became a ‘folk hero’ in New Orleans for flouting restrictions against import of slaves (slaves that white southerners needed). It was his ‘patriot outlaw’ image which got him his following. He was ostensibly seen as aiding the government during the 1812 war with the British – which was decided on the basis of his business interests.
Europe, Britain & Abolition Of Slavery
Britain technically abolished slavery in 1807, after the Haiti experience – and replaced slavery with indentured labour. Upfront, indentured labour was only slightly more expensive but was far more cheaper in the long run. Indentured labour also came fewer issues related to capture, transport, trade and maintenance of slaves – with a veneer of respectability that was needed for propaganda purposes. Also, Britain had India – a huge colony to fall back on for indentured labour.
British trade and agriculture brought pressure to stop slavery by other European kingdoms. Paid labour had made French products uncompetitive – which made Napoleon re-introduce slavery. This re-introduction of slavery by the French (circa 1804) diluted British resolve to end slavery.
While slavery was supposedly abolished in 1807, trade in slaves continued. Slave ships and traders had to pay a fine of GBP100 per slave, if caught. The law was not seriously implemented. In the few cases where slave ships and traders were caught, slaves were simply thrown overboard.
Other Slave Rebellions
Finally, further rebellions in Barbados (1816), Demerra or Demerara (1823) and Jamaica (1831-32) forced the British hand. Off shore British slaves finally became free in 1833 after the British Government passed yet another law, to outlaw slavery, Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 – and paid ‘compensation’ to slave owners. An egregious and glaring example was the ‘compensation’ to the Bishop of Exeter and his partners of GBP12,700 to ‘compensate’ them for the ‘loss’ of 665 slaves in 1833.
How could the British afford to buy indentured labour? Bought with new gold discoveries in Canada and Australia.
Beggar Thy Neighbour
It was also economic warfare. Based on immediate colonial interests, promises were made to American slaves by Britain. During the American War Of Independence, British Colonial forces, promised Black slaves to run away from their White masters. Property was promised to them in Canada and Sierra Leone. Some were sent to London. Based on these promises, an estimated 75,000-100,000 slaves abandoned their White American owners.
The key to Haiti’s wealth – slave labour. Hence, the British efforts to ban slavery – as a part of their beggar-thy-neighbour strategy. Haiti was contributing major surplus to the French – and Britain had to undercut French economic gains from Haiti. The French efforts to get back into India against Britain through Tipu Sultan (during the Mysore Wars) had made life difficult for Britain – and hence they needed to undermine French economic resources.
It had little to do with human rights. While slavery was being abolished, the same Britons were committing genocide in Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
In America, opposition to slavery was about race. What if the Black slave population in the American South became like Haiti? Just before independence, against a population of 400,000-500,000 Black Haitians, there were about 25,000 whites and 40,000 mulattos.
What if the Black Population in the American South (nearly 80% at the start of the Civil War) rose to say, 150%. 4 million Blacks compared to 5 million whites in the American South at the start of the Civil War.
Another Haiti would have very well happened in Southern American South too. A truncated USA was a real fear – if not a certainty. None other than “Benjamin Franklin said with alarm that importing slaves had “blacken’d half America” …
Great White Chief In The Sky
So, what did the white fathers do? They set up Liberia, in Africa, (another land of the free?) and the successor of the British black deportation to Sierra Leone and the Israel’s predecessor. Behind this idea was Jefferson again, (dining alone again, Thomas?), who suggested that US should
“take measures for procuring on the coast of Africa, an establishment to which the people of color of these States might, from time to time, be colonized.”
Such racist concepts also were also tried by Germany – in Paraguay. Germany decided to breed a race of superior White Germans, in the colony of Nueva Germania. Heading the Nueva Germania project was Elizabeth Nietzsche – brother of Frederick Nietzsche.
In 1816, the USA decided to follow Jefferson’s idea and colonise Africa (Africa had to pay the price of Jefferson’s dining alone). An artificial situation was created, where escaped, freed Blacks were sent to Liberia. The local population were of no consequence – like latter day Palestine. With the setting up of Liberia, slavery was moved off shore. Large parts of Liberia were leased out to Firestone – for rubber plantations. Even in Africa, these ‘freed ‘slaves were enslaved again – which continues to this day.
A significant reason why slavery was not popular in the North was the depressing effect of slavery on wages and employment. Poor (free) whites had to compete with slave labour for employment – and that was a non-starter.
Haiti’s Contribution To Other Freedom Movements
Haiti, (unlike today’s Israeli Jews) supported liberation movements. Haiti’s successful revolt and the defeat of the Spanish and British armies encouraged other colonies of South America to demand and fight for Independence. This fight was led by Simon Bolivar – after whom Bolivia is named.
After being expelled from Venezuela, it was Alexandre Petion, the Haitian President sheltered Simon Bolivar in 1815, who supported Simon Bolivar with arms, ammunition , a printing press and other aid – after a clear promise that all the freed countries of the South America would abolish slavery.
This was a promise that Simon Bolivar did not keep – until significant pressure was put on him. In spite of winning freedom with the help of Black people, the newly freed countries of South America discriminated against the very Blacks who helped them get freedom. Moreover, in 1826, at the Congress of American States, under US pressure, Simon Bolivar did not invite Haiti.
Fear of success or opposition, in country after country of the Americas and Pacific, the USA has been involved in destabilisation and intervention. One time USA allies are now hot beds of terrorism. Afraid that US slaves will follow the Haiti example, US did not recognise Haiti, till November 1864 – 60 years after Haiti declared Independence. Moreover, in 1826, at the Congress of American States, under US pressure, Simon Bolivar did not invite Haiti.
The US record against the growth and stabilisation of Cuba does not bear repitition. Having ‘bought’ Cuba from Spain (like Puerto Rico, Guam and Philippines), USA believes and feels that they ‘own’ Cuba.
In 1904, the US pressured Tomas Estrada Palma, a ‘puppet’ Cuban President, to sign the Platt Amendment. This allowed US intervention in Cuban affairs, if ‘vital’ US interests were at risk (meaning at at US will) – finally modified only in 1934. Under this ‘new deal’ ‘Cuba would be allowed to export 22% of the sugar the US imported, by paying 0.09¢, a pound tariff duty. In return, little or no duty would be levied by Cuba on goods imported from the USA.’
Oppression – And Its Many Avatars
Legal support for slavery is a feature of the Western and Levantine societies. Trade of human beings in market place, had the support of the State.
In Europe and USA, laws and courts were enforced slavery (Kishore Mahbubani, please note that the West follows the law). In Indic legal systems, such a feature has not been seen for the last 3000 years. The last Indic system which had explicit slavery laws were the Hittites around 1000BC. To cover up this aspect, and to shore up their image as champions of human rights, Western powers have tried to fuzzy the definition of slavery through the ILO – an creation of the Western powers after WW1.
The Desert Religions
Judaism, Christianity, Islam were all born within 500 miles of each other and share a common culture and history. Judaism was (probably) born when Moses led the Hebrew slaves from the Pharoah (across the Red Sea) to freedom – possibly around 500 BC at the latest to 1500 BC at the earliest. His earliest followers were the Hebrews and they were a significant part of the Middle Eastern history all through till today.
The next major religious reformer in the Middle East was Jesus Christ. For the first 300 years, Roman slaves were the major believers in his teachings. Emperor Constantine earned the loyalty of his Christian troops and won the war for Roman throne by his win over Maxentius at Milvan Bridge. Prior to Maxentius, for the previous 30-40 years, Christians had been persecuted by “rule of four’ Tetrarchy reformists in Rome, headed by Diocletan. Hence, the Christian slave soldiers of Constantine were eager for victory – as the persecution under Maxentius would have been worse.
Liberated slaves were the founders and rulers of Islamic dynasties, (in India, the Slave dynasty – builders of Qutub minar). Thus all the three “desert religions” were first adopted by the slaves and only after gaining significant numbers of adherents, these religions became mainstream and commenced aggressive proselytising and conversions.
Slavery – and other Labour contracts
Slavery was different – and a distinctive feature, promoted (largely) by the Western and Middle Eastern powers. It had state sanction, state protection, laws passed by the kings, emirs, emperors, parliaments and legislating authorities.
The US Supreme Court (Dredd Scott Case) prohibited slaves from even approaching courts for any redress. There was an organised, legal, sponsored industry involved in the kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer (and might I add re-capture) of slaves – with the might of the state behind it. The West has now partially succeeded equalising slavery with the caste system – to ‘whitewash’ their own history.
Why Must Haiti Succeed
The USA and the West has been at war (or by proxy) with the Black Republics of Haiti, Cuba, Greneda for the last 200 years. Fuelled by a desperate desire to show White superiority. By a need to white wash history. To hide the origins of their misbegotten wealth – built on the foundation of the skeletons of dead and surviving slaves.
Haiti gave the world freedom. Not America – which claims itself to be a land of the free (as long as you are white).
It is for the same reasons why Haiti must now be protected – by the rest of the world. Make Haiti a UN protectorate. All the superpowers to be forced to declare Haiti as off limits.
Haiti must succeed.
December, 1945. Nag Hammadi
WW2 was over. Victors were busy, sharing the spoils. Colonies were awaiting release. Feudal systems were wearing thin at the cuffs.
In Upper Egypt, a farmer, Mohammed Ali Samman while digging for ‘sabakh’ (kind of guano, bird droppings used as natural fertiliser), near Nag Hammadi, discovered an earthen jar. Overcoming his initial fears of breaking open the jar (it may well contain djinns), he found some books! Disappointed with his ‘find’, he dumped this in his house along with firewood and straw. His mother used some of the books and pages to start the fire.
20 years later after passing through many hands, it was found that these were the same books that the Catholic Church has been, allegedly, trying to suppress for 1500 years. Only 3 more copies of this book existed in the world.
Till the Nag Hammadi finding, there were three surviving copies of the Gnostic book, The Pistis Sophia – the Askew Codex (in the British Museum), The Berlin (or Akhmim) Kodex (acquired in Cairo, Egypt) and the Bruce Codex (bought in Thebes, Upper Egypt, by Lord James Bruce) donated to the Bodlein Library.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
Two years later, in 1947, at Wadi Qumran, near the Dead Sea, then in Jordan, now in Israel, a Bedouin shepherd boy was finding himself short of his goats. He set out in search of his goats and wandered into nearby caves.
In these dark caves, he made a discovery that shook the Christian world. He found earthen jars containing ancient scrolls written in papyrus, animal skin and copper plates also. Over the next 9 years, more than 900 such documents were recovered from 11 nearby caves. The Jordanian authorities handed it over to a team of (mostly) Catholic priests. For 40 years, this team did not release much information. International uproar about the slow progress and the role of the Catholic Church (re. suppression of these documents for more than 40 years) finally forced the teams to open up the documents.
Between 1850-1900, Western archaeologists dug up more than 400,000 clay tablets in West Asia. This loot was carried back to the British Museum, Louvre France, Imperial Museum in Berlin, University Of Pennsylvania. Latter day digs and finds were retained in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. In the last 100 years, of the more than 400,000 clay tablets excavated, less than a 70,000 have been deciphered between the four institutions. Less than one fifth have been published so far.
The Elamite capital is called by Western archaeologists as Susa – but correctly is Shushan (was it so called because it was the seat of of शासन ‘shaasan’, the Sanskritic word for governance). It was initially populated by an aboriginal tribe called ‘uwaja’ (did the Elamites call them पूरवज ‘purvaja’ – Sanskritic for ancestors) and some other Greek sources called them Uxii.
Alfredo Trombetti, an Italian Elamologist, was an Italian linguist who theorised that all the languages in the world evolved from one language – monogenesis of language, his theory is called. In his book, Elementi Di Glottologia, he worked backwards to North India as the source of all languages. Trombetti learned French, German, Greek, Hebrew and Latin by himself. He spoke these languages when he was 14 years old. In the colonial era, where Britain was the single super cpower, such credit given to India was not welcome.
Archibald Henry Sayce’s essays dealing with Elamite: ‘Amardian or Protomedic Tablets in the British Museum’ settled the initial direction for interpretation for Elamite studies.
Hittites were one of the main branches of Indics in the region. Ramesis II is about 100 years after Akhenaten – (एकनाथन Eknathan meaning One God in Sanskrit). Akhenaten’s father is AmenhotepIII who wanted to marry the Mittani (another Indic kingdom) princess of Dashratta (Tushrutta). The Indic influence and presence is overwhelming in the Levant at this time. E.g. Instead of building mausoleums, Akhenaten built temples – much like other Indian kings (seen after 10th century AD).
After this there is a slow fadeout and decrease of the Indic rule in the Middle East. The Achmenaid Persians take-over from Elamites (The Indic Dravidians who settled Persia). Egypt became a Roman colony – and turned westward. Judaism began to grow.
Why this change?
West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, made Indo Aryan rulers disengage politically from West Asia and Middle East. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three ‘desert religions’, gained their first converts from slaves, but continued with slavery till the 20th century.
The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Non-political Indian role in West Asia and Middle East continued to grow in terms of trade and learning. Babylon became a part of Alexander’s empire (and then the Roman Empire).
The slave revolt of Egypt by Moses, made the Indic rulers reform and distance themselves from the slave owning societies. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.
This slave reform and distancing of Indic rulers from slave societies was led by Indian reformers like Buddha and Mahavira. This happened not around and after 500 BC as determined by Western dating logic (which needed to fit the Aryan Invasion Theory, The ‘evolution’ of Greek and Romans) – but around 1000 BC.
Reformist Rulers & Inherited Systems
In the extended India, slavery was an inherited social system – for which the Hittites made some liberal laws. The inherited norm of slavery was sought to be liberalised, in incremental manner by the Indic societies of the Middle East.
This incremental liberalisation created a backlash against the ‘holier-than-thou’ Indians, by the slave-owning, ruling classes of the non-Indic societies – and the newly liberated classes also. The ancient equivalent of Nixon’s outbursts against the ‘sanctimonious Indians.’ It was this humane treatment of slaves and humanization of criminals which has possibly resulted in a the low crime rates in India.
Who were blamed
Possibly, the Indic reformers. The liberated blame the liberator. Much like Gandhiji was killed by a Hindu.
I can hear people screaming, ‘Who asked you to give such fancy ideas like dignity, freedom to these slaves. Look now what has happened”. And when the unemployed, hungry slaves were turned back by their bankrupt masters, the slaves must have said, “You have created these rifts. All that we asked for was a little less of work and a little more of comfort. We don’t want this freedom. Can we eat freedom!”
Anti-Babylon tirades in in the Judeo-Christian tradition were a direct result of this anti-slavery attitude of the Indics in the Middle East. Moses and Semitic followers freed themselves – and enslaved others. Possibly, the Indics in Babylon did not approve of such practices – and hence the anti-Babylon tirades.
The Moses Connection
This liberalisation triggered a (vengeful) Moses to walk out of Egypt and formed Judaism – a monotheistic religion. The (suspected) Pharaoh at that time was Ramesis-II roughly between 1300-1200 BC. This is also when the Battle of Kadesh happened with the Hittites, which resulted in the most famous treaty.
The cause of this battle was the defection of King Benteshina of the Amurru (is the correct name Bente = वंश vansha in Sanskrit and shin = moon goddess; meaning Chandravanshi?). The Amurru, (also known as Amorites) possibly switched sides from being an Egyptian vassal, to a Hittite ally. Were Amurrus, the Mauryas who later defeated the Seleucid army?
Military paradigm changes
The foremost administrative innovation was the concept of Bharata(ah) – the aryavart and the arya dhwaj. Comprising of 16 to 30 mahajanapadas, Bharata(ah) became a federation of kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms became a series of succeeding lines of defence against invading armies. What the European Union is grappling with, (and may yet fail) for the last 300 years, was implemented and used 3000 years ago in India.
Six other important changes were seen.
One – war chariots became less important. By the time of Alexander’s march in India, chariots were a minor part of the Indian armies. Instead, the importance of cavalry increased. Bessos, the Bactrian mathista, designated to succeed Darius III, led the successful Indic cavalry charge, at Gaugamela, on the Macedonian right flank – which forced Alexander to focus on the centre of the Persian army, led by Darius III.
When Alexander finally was able to make his way to India, he met a fierce onslaught of the Indian cavalry units – supported by fearsome elephants. Indian cavalry units were always smaller than in other nations due to paucity of horses in India. India was a traditional importer of horses. For combat use, Indian cavalry used imported horses and Indian breeds (like the marwari breed) were smaller – easily trained and more intelligent, but smaller and less stamina, were used as as pack animals .
Two – a system of alliances supporting frontline kingdoms in the entire North West Indian swath was formulated. For instance, against the Assyrian invasion, led by Semiramis, a minor Indian king, Stabrobates, was supported to beat back the Assyrian invasion. Against Cyrus the Great, Tomyris, a Scythian Queen was supported to massacre the Persian invaders. Alexander’s nightmare began immediately, as soon as he crossed into the Indic area.
Instead of the complete collaboration that Alexander got from the defeated Achmaenid ruling family of Sisygambis, Stateira, Oxathres (brother of Darius III; also written as oxoathres and oxyathres) et al, the foursome of Bessos, Spitamenes, Datafernes and the Scythians made Alexander’s life miserable. At Gaugamela, it was Bessos and his cavalry which broke Alexander’s formation.
The tribes and kshatrapas (satraps) of Indian North West swath, delayed Alexander for nearly three years – before he could step into India. In India, Alexander had to pay the King of Taxiles, Omphis, (Ambi) 1000 talents of gold (more than 25 tons of gold) – to secure an alliance. He had to return the kingdom of Punjab to Porus – purportedly, after winning the battle. His loot and pickings from India were negligible. Thus while, invaders were kept at bay, within the Indic area, borders and crowns kept changing and shifting.
Three – the biggest game changer were the elephant corps. War elephants was an Indian invention and an Indian monopoly. After the defeat and death of Cyrus The Great at the hands of Tomyris, the Persians stopped looking India-wards. 500 years later (nearly), with the help of the Indian elephant corps, the Sassanians stopped the Romans at Persian borders.
With these three changes, Indian heartland became invincible. Empire builders like the Assyrian Queen, Semiramis and the Achmaenian Emperor, Cyrus the Great mounted expensive campaigns to conquer India – and barely escaped with their lives. Later, Genghis Khan’s armies avoided India completely. Timurlane could invade India – when Delhi was under rule by a foreign dynasty, the Tughlaks. Indian invincibility and military prowess was unmatched for till the 13th century – when the first foreign rulers, the Slave Dynasty rulers from the Levant started ruling from Delhi – Qutubuddin Aibak, in 1206.
Four – Indian teachers and intellectuals were sent to all corners of the world. The spread of Buddhism in Asia is well chronicled. Socrates’ encounter with an Indian yogi however, is not so well known. Mani, the Buddhist teacher was feared by the Vatican for the next 1000 years. Vatican killed, burnt and quartered all those who displayed any leaning towards Manicheanism. Islamic invaders searched and destroyed statues or ‘boet’ (meaning statues of Buddha?).
Five – the legal and political structures were popularized. The usage of gold was popularized and became widespread as an economic tool. Coinage in India was not a royal prerogative or implemented by fiat. Thus, for instance, there were intricate Greco-Bactrian coins, (probably privately minted) compared to crude and simple Indic official coins. Sanskritic and Darvidian systems were used to structure ancient languages like Akkadian and Elamite. Slavery in Asia went into remission till the rise of Islam. Religious persecution became a random occurrence. Asian economy accounted for between 50%-80% of world economic output.
Alexander’s takeover of the Assyrio-Persian empire in Asia was largely reversed. The spread of the Roman Empire, built on slavery and loot, was halted at West Asia. The Sassanian Dynasty with its elephant corps, the Zend-hapet, or “Commander of the Indians,” blockaded the Asian continent from Western invaders – which stabilized Asiatic societies. Initially, the Sassanian dynasty was able to wrest back and later defend the Persian dominions from the Greco-Romans rulers after setting up an Indian elephants corps in their army – evidenced, for instance, by the carvings at Taq-i-Bustan. At one time, the Sassanian rulers had increased its elephant corps to 12,000 elephants.
Sixth – Technologically, the Indian invention of Wootz steel, was another game changer. Wootz steel, which was an Indian monopoly from 500 BC till nearly 1900 AD, was the best steel for swords, lances, spears – for defence products. Wootz steel, was the preferred input in the world, for swords, pistols and such. Known as Damascus steel, it went into Japanese Katanas, European guns. The famed Damascus steel swords, armour and pistols, used steel ingots imported from India as Wootz steel. Indian exports of Wootz was a big earner for India till British efforts killed this industry in India. Subsequent efforts to “reverse engineer” this technology in Europe during the 20th century, has been unsuccessful. Damascus was the trading centre over which the Battle of Kadesh, the biggest chariot battle, was fought between the Indo-Aryan Hittites and the Egyptian Pharoah Ramesses-II fought.
Moses & Christ
Christ – a more forgiving man than the vengeful Moses, came in a little later. His life as a young man has been obscured. Till 400 AD, Buddhism was blanking out Christianity. Constantine’s Council of Nice, the subsequent State patronage and force of Church oppression thereafter ensured the survival and growth of Christianity.
Mani – Linking Buddhism to Christ
Mani, a Buddhist preacher who also talked of Christ as a major reform teacher was seen as a major threat by the Church from 250 AD to till about 1500 AD.
Buddhism had already spread to Sri Lanka, India and Afghanistan – making waves. The Church was having a uphill time in gaining believers from new religions – like Buddhism, and Mani, a Persian Buddhist teacher trained in India. The Manichean religion was an eclectic mix of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Mithraism. It appealed to significant sections of the population, as it showed continuity from earlier faiths. It recognised earlier prophets and teachers like Buddha and Jesus – and Mani as the last teacher in this line of prophets.
Christian writers (Hippolytus and Epiphanius) write about Scythianus, who visited India around 50AD from where he brought ideas about Apokatastasis (re-birth) – “the doctrine of the Two Principles”. Scythianus’ pupil Terebinthus (Tere – Lord + binthu = Hindu; Hindu Lord) called himself as a “Buddha” (“Buddas”), as mentioned in writings of Cyril of Jerusalem). Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea where he met the Apostles “becoming known and condemned”, and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani.
This religion spread far – from Europe to China. In China, this was integrated with Buddhist beliefs (Taisho Tripitaka). In Afghanistan, Iran it was Aiyn-e-Mani. In Europe it became Manichean. This posed a challenge to the Church. The response of the Church – wipe the very thought of a different belief.
Simply put, this religion posited that there is an eternal struggle between Good and Evil. Men should protect themselves against evil (the Roman Church feared that this may lead to Devil worship) and lead a life of virtue. The Vatican Church believed that there was God and he did not create evil.
Women (Eve) did. This was the Original Sin. All mankind are sinners now and need to pray to God (and Jesus was his son and sent to Earth to save mankind) and redeem ourselves. St.Augustine was canonised for his conversion from Manichean to Christianity.
Pistis Sophia, Gnostics & Buddhism
Pistis Sophia (surviving as Bruce Codex, Berlin-Akhmim Codex and Askew Codex) were suppressed by Britain and Germany for decades. Rediscovered as Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hamamdi manuscripts, research has been slowed to a crawl. The question now is no more ‘did Buddhism influence Christianity’ but ‘how much did Buddhism influence Christianity’. Do these manuscripts show a greater extent of Buddhism than colonial Britain, supremist Germany and the Vatican would like to admit?
Slavery In India
Slavery in India, disappeared from about 1000 BC. Zilch. Nyet. Non. Nada, nada. Unlike in the rest of the world, no records, ever, have been found of human trafficking in the Indic bloc. Indian pauranik and classical history begins to make sense only after the concept of ‘asuras’ as a verbal cue for slavery, slave masters and slave traders is used. Sanskrit and Indic languages have no word for ‘slave’. In modern times, India’s rise as a power in computing industry, is also partly due to the same logical structure of Sanskrit language.
While the Levant and the Occident continued with slavery for the next 3000 years, till 1900 AD, in India (referring to the Greater India, including the Hittites and Mitannis) after 1100 BC, slavery vanished. Compared to the retributive and vengeful Hammurabi’s code, the Indic rulers of Middle East (the Hittites, Mittanis and Elamites) already had a more liberal and humane legal system.
Enter The Ahimsa Twins
Western historian dates are slotted for 500 BC for the ahimsa ‘twins’. What if the Buddha and Mahavira are from the 1000 BC – and led the reform against slavery. This also ties in with the historic (and unique) movement of Indian diet towards an increase in vegetarian component.
Indic rejection of slavery, led to their disengagement from the Middle East, where other cultures, continued with slavery. From dominance, Indians became satisfied with presence and influence. Capture by slave traders and slavery was also the reason, that possibly, Indian traders preferred buyers to come to them. This also accounts for the system of unarmed combat that travelled with Buddhist monks to China – and became Chinese Kung Fu, or the Kalaripayattu (in Kerala) or the system of लठैद (combat practitioners using ‘lathis’ – bamboo sticks).
The Ahimsa Appeal
The exhortation towards ‘ahimsa’ is an appeal to the ‘oppressors’ to stop ‘himsa’ against all life – and similarly for the oppressed to resolve the social issues by ‘ahimsa.’ There is of course, some merit in taking some issues like oppression at a general level, as a matter of principal – and not to get bogged down in specifics.
Do keep in mind that Elamites, (cousins of modern Dravidians) founded Persia; the Middle East was influenced and had significant presence of Indic Mittanis and Hittites – and India was far bigger than what we see today.
Slave Memory In Indian Society
Slave memory faded out and there are only some stray references in Indian classical literature about slavery – like the Harishchandra story. The understanding of the word ‘asura’ changed – and foreign words like ‘ghulam’ made their way into Indic languages.
Jataka stories (mainly considered as children’s stories in the West) are a reflection of social mores, realities- and also cautionary tales for adults. This Jataka story (click on the link) refers to a “demon’ (another word for a slave trader) and cautions travellers and merchants about slave traders. This ‘demon’ kidnaps the merchant – but leaves the goods behind. Similarly, the story of Bali, the righteous Asura king, who was sent to the patalaloka, by Vamana, makes sense, the moment ‘demons’ are defined as slave-owners and enslavers.
Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade.
In modern times, though India is a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus. In August 2008, there was hoax story, which alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database – and sold to the European underworld – and some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.
The Greek Dark Age
Around the 1000 BC inflection point, there is another interesting thing that happened – the so called Greek Dark Age. From 1200 BC to 900 BC – when the Indic kingdoms, like Hittites, the Mittanis and Elamites were dis-engaging from the Levant, the Greeks went through ‘a catastrophe’. Egypt and Mesopotamia were threatened. Two Mycenaen cities, 40 other cities of Turkey, Syria and Middle East were destroyed.
The Greek Miracle assisted by the revival of trade links with India through the Phoenicians in 900 BC. And the Greek city states who were the recipients of the slaves from the Anatolia. These new found slaves from the Middle East spurred the ‘Greek Miracle’.
And who were the Phoenicians? Some suggest that the word ‘phoenia’ is corruption of ‘bania’ – and these were the South Indian sea-traders, with ships made in Masulipatnam and Sopara.
Plague, Locusts, Disease
So what was behind the the Indian disengagement from West Asia, the Greek Dark Age and the fall of the XVIIIth dynasty of Egypt.
Moses and Judaism, slavery, revolt of the slaves is my hypotheses. With the walkout by slaves, cities became dirty, plague broke out, agriculture suffered and locusts descended. With malnutrition, hunger and deprivation, came diseases.The newly liberated slaves fled to Greece – on Phoenician ships, where they were enslaved again.
And who went to town claiming credit for mishaps in Egypt? Moses, proclaiming the power of his God.
Vegetarianism & Cows
This outbreak of war between the slave owners, led to reform in Indian diet. Increased vegetarianism in India. India diets (there are vast regional and ethnic variations) has the lowest ‘meat’ content in the world. The sheer dominance of non-meat items in the normal Indian diet is unique in the world.
This also made the cow ‘holy’ – as the cow saved Indians during this difficult times. The Indian cow is incredibly easy to maintain. The Indian zebu cow yields nutritious milk, butter, ghee, eats anything, is resistant to diseases, has a long life (15-20 years), short gestation period, bull calves can be used as ‘draft’ animals, cow-dung can be used for fuel – and, of course, cow skin makes the best leather.
What Did This Do In India
At least 3000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till 20th century. Middle East’s labour laws even today smack of slave owner mentality.
It was these events in 1000 BC which made two things happen.
It catalysed the refinement and consolidation of Sanskrit, the Vedas, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata et al. And it led to many reform leaders, the Bodhisatvas and Tirthankaras – prime amongst whom were Buddha and Mahavira, who counselled patience, introspection, ahimsa to their followers.
In modern times, the easiest test of oppression is ‘statistically significant’ population decline. And there has been no population decline in India to even talk about ‘oppression’ in the genocidal meaning that the West tries equating with India – to cover up their own genocides.
Dates and Periodization
Of course, Western historians (and its followers) will throw the problem of dates at this hypothesis. Buddha and Mahavira were periodized circa 500 BC by Western historians; to ensure that the Greeks got all the credit and that the Aryan invasion theory became feasible. A relook at the dates will support this hypotheses.
The other aspect is that even if Buddha and Mahavira are correctly dated, the role of Tirthankaras and Bodhisatvas (highly regarded by Gautama Buddha and Mahavira) cannot be diminished in the reform story.
Anton Fuhrer – Fixer Of Dates & Places
The gentleman who is supposed to have ‘fixed’ Gautama Buddha’s birthplace, date and time was a certain Dr.Alois Anton Fuhrer. This gentleman was subsequently accused of having tampered with archaeological artifacts – and the Lumbini artifacts etc.
Call it reform or evolution. Slavery was clearly an inherited institution in some part of the great Indic spread.