Fundamentalist Islam has, apart from the solitary success of increasing enlistment, delivered nothing on political governance, economic growth, social justice, modernization of education or even military preparedness..
- New Light on the CIA Coup in Iran on its 60th Anniversary: Why “Argo” Needs a Prequel (Sternfeld) (juancole.com)
- Robert Scheer: Oscar 2013: Hollywood’s CIA Celebration (huffingtonpost.com)
- Putting the Iran “Threat” in Perspective (counterpunch.org)
- Even if Iran gets the Bomb, it won’t be worth going to war (telegraph.co.uk)
Samuel P . Huntington’s 1993 book, Clash of Civilizations, has a historical ring to it – a hint of something grand. An influential book, it ostensibly examined ‘conflicts between Western and non-Western cultures’ – and brought the phrase, Clash of Civilizations into limelight.
In the post-Soviet World, the book marked the launch of a new Western campaign – Islamic demonization. This book, released some four years after Rushdie-fatwa, provided pseudo-intellectual justification for West’s anti-Islamic campaign.
The America+NATO sponsored ‘ethnic cleansing’ campaign in Bosnia was underway, since 1992. Saturation media coverage of Monica Lewinsky and cigars effectively drowned President Clinton’s role in the initiation of the anti-Islamic campaign – and the news coming out of the Balkans. Deliberate diversionary tactics?
India’s co-option too, into this campaign was planned in significant detail – and successfully executed. 9/11 (September 11, 2001) was still 8 years in the future. The verbal trickery behind Huntington’s Clash of civilizations ‘package-deal’ has gone by without challenge or de-construction in India. This post will cover some Trojan concepts Huntington smuggled into the mainstream.
A Basic Stance
For one, the definition of civilizations has to be beyond race, ruins and region. Instead, a definition around differentiated structures – political, social, economic and ethical structures makes comparative analysis possible.
Civilizations tend to repeat political, social, economic and ethical structures. In the last five thousand years, only three civilizational models can be identified and substantially differentiated.
The world’s dominant model today, it has been able to nearly erase competing systems from the collective minds of the ruling elites in the world.
Signs of the Desert Bloc’s birth were first evidenced in the Assyrian Empire – its first laws codified by Hammurabi. Dating is contested, and best estimates are that the Assyrian Empire collapsed around c.600 BC. Seven of history’s largest empires used the Assyrian Empire, as a springboard.
The Desert Bloc extends from west of India, across Middle East, West Asia, extending to Central Asia and Eastern Europe – with its core in a region of 1000 miles radius of Palestine. Inventors of religion, world’s three important religions, (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) were born within 1000 miles radius of Palestine, in the deserts of Middle East. Each of these religions were, so to say, ‘backward compatible’. Islam recognizes Christianity, which uses Judeo-Mosaic texts for its foundations.
Anti-feminist, none of the three religions have female goddesses – unlike the two other civilizations specified below. Western Christian world gave women the right to vote, mostly between 1920-1950. Low levels of marital success are institutionalized – and instead prostitution levels are high.
The Desert Bloc depends on extreme competitiveness between its own factions to gain leadership – extending the analogy of survival of the fittest. Some of its defining struggles in the last 1000 years were Islam vs Christianity; Spain vs Portugal; England vs France; USA vs USSR.
Such factions spring up around deified leaders based on a sharp identity – race, tribe, language, region, religion. Significant leadership struggles have broken out between even intra-religious sects – like Catholics and Protestants, Shias vs Sunnis.
A significant marker of the Desert Bloc is concentration of wealth, power and land in the hands of these deified leaders and their inner circle. Unlike the two other civilizational groups, as we will see. This allows Desert Bloc factions to indulge in extremism. Over 90% of the world’s bloodiest wars, genocides, massacres, annihilations, are to the Desert Bloc account.
Driven by ‘at-any-cost’ approach, in the Desert Bloc, everything and everyone is expendable to attain leadership position. Driven more by accelerated creation and destruction, Desert Bloc sub-groups have short life spans (Achaemenid Iran, Greece, Rome, Mongol Empire). Greece, Rome, the Ummayyads, Abbasids, Mongolian Empire, Colonial Spain and Britain best represent the Desert Bloc.
Can different factions of the Desert Bloc, like the Christian West and Islam collaborate? The Islāmic Ottoman Empire and the Christian European powers could not get around to colluding with each other. Even the collusion between the Christian European colonizers was difficult. Unless it was over carving the spoils, dividing areas for exploitation – like Papal Bulls (between Spain and Portugal) or the Berlin Conference which triggered the ‘scramble for Africa.’
The Afro Group
Apart from the Indic System, the only other civilization, the Afro Group could resist the Desert Bloc onslaught in the last 1000 years. The Afro Group successfully kept its identity, at a great cost, unlike Native Americans or Australian aborigines.
Monica Schulyer, an assistant professor of history at Wanye State University, (thinks) the name Mau Mau was itself a British invention and means nothing in Kenyan. Members of the independence movement called them selves the Land and Freedom Army.
In modern South Africa, on July 16, 1976, the ‘day began with a march by 10,000 students carrying banners and slogans, saying “Down with Afrikaans” and “Viva Azania” (the name given to South Africa by black nationalists)’. Soon the number swelled to ‘fifteen thousand school children involved in the protests (Tuttle 1)’, rose against imposition of Afrikaans language by White Apartheid rule. Known to the world as Soweto Uprisings, it is without parallel in the annals of history. In the very heart of the modern Desert Bloc – the USA, after centuries of slavery and discrimination, the Afro Group was able to roll back excesses.
Their robust ‘native’ intelligence best describes how Desert Bloc works. In Jomo Kenyatta words,
“When the Missionaries arrived, the Africans had the Land and the Missionaries had the Bible. They taught how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”
Another unit from the Afro Group, Cuba, far from its base in Africa, after breaking from slavery, successfully resisted coming under political bondage of the Desert Bloc, for the last 100 years. In the ancient world, Carthage checked the spread of Desert Bloc, represented by Greece. Carthage allied with Rome to destroy Greece.
Before that, Nubians brought the Egyptian Empire to heel. The 25th dynasty from Nubia or Kush, south of Egypt (modern Sudan), ruled over Egypt for at least 75 years. Piye, earlier”Piankhy”the Nubian king invaded Egypt (ca. 746 BC) – and started the 25th Dynasty, that probably continued till 650 BC. He was succeeded by Shabaqo (ca. 716-702 BC) and his successors Shebitqo (ca. 702-690 BC) and Taharqa (690-664 BC).
Traditional African structures had diffused land and wealth ownership – unlike the Desert Bloc. There is little proof of concentration of wealth in African structures.
Both, the Afro Group and the Indic System have a much superior record of minimal environmental degradation. The Big 5 in animals – elephant, tiger /leopard, lion, wild bull, rhino exist only in the these two core geographies. Big Game hunters in Africa (from the Desert Bloc, where else) described 5 animals as the Big 5 – elephants, lion, buffalo, leopard and the rhino as the Big Five. These were animals that were difficult to hunt and kill (for pleasure, if you thought otherwise).
This ‘pleasure’ was the operating principle. As a result of this ‘pleasure’, there are only two parts of the world where such Big Five exist. India and Africa. China, the Middle East and of course Europe and America, have wiped entire continents of all these animals.
Modern history, under a Hegelian spell has ignored Afro Group history. Bereft of spectacular structures, visible ‘leaders’ or the recent decline in fortunes, the study of African history has been decided as unimportant.
Based on भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra platform. Indic systems focus on four freedoms – काम kaam (desire, including sexual) अर्थ arth (wealth), मोक्ष moksh(liberty)and धर्मं dharma (justice), and stipulates unrestricted access to ज़र zar (gold), जन jan (people) and ज़मीन jameen (land).
Originating in India, based on platform of anti-slavery, distribution of power and diversity, this was the dominant ideology in the world till about 8th century. In Tibet, Songtsen Gampa, the 33rd king, became the first dharma-raja in 7th century – a follower of भारत-तंत्र Bharattantra . The Indic system has been in sharp retreat for the last 500 years – especially after Mughal rule in India. Inspite of sharp reversals in the last 500 years, half the world is still significantly influenced by Indic systems.
Militarily impregnable till about 17th century, Mughal rule established the first beachhead for the Desert Bloc in India.
Strong population growth based on widespread marital occurrence, strong and extensive family structures, are features that have sustained Indic systems in the society, even though some rulers defected to the Desert Bloc.
With diverse liturgical, beatification, sacramental practices, graded pantheism (local deities, semi-divine gods and goddesses with a top layer of the Holy Trinity), faith and belief do not occupy the space or importance that religion has in the Desert Bloc. These are within the realm of individual choice with scattered efforts at proselytization
The Indic system still has significant following in China and most of ASEAN region – notably Indonesia, Tibet, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka. The modern proof of this was the India Independence League (IIL) headed by Subhash Chandra Bose.
In recent times
Each of these megaliths have traditional spheres of influence.
Post-WWII world has been been seriously influenced by the Desert Bloc. The Desert Bloc split into two factions. The liberal-progressive, democratic, Judeo-Christian faction led by America. Significant parts of the world has moved to the Desert Bloc orbit, and adopted the religion of Westernization.
An interesting study is the post-WWII behaviour of the Euro-American faction. After WWII, as British, French and Dutch colonialists were being thrown out of Asia, in country after country, the West was in real danger of losing markets and raw material sources.
A new power, fueled by a growing migrant population, USA, took the place of tired, old powers – Britain, France and the Dutch. Instead of the openly-exploitative system of European powers directly running colonial governments in these Asian countries, the US installed an opaque system – which is equally exploitative. To impose its writ on the newly independent Asian countries, the US simply destroyed their economies by war. The USA, then instituted the innovative USCAP Program and ‘helped’ these countries. These countries (Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, et al) were now ruled by overtly independent regimes – but covertly, client states of the USA.
US multinationals and home-grown oligarchs (keiretsus, chaebols, etc.) took over the economy – and sidelined British, French and Dutch companies. To impose this economic model, US armies, using nearly 1 million troops, killed 50 lakh Asians. The takeover of European colonial possessions by the USA was handled over 3 regimes of Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson seamlessly.
The second faction is the Islamic faction. After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, by the West, after WWI, new renegade groups supported by the West, sprang up. These renegade groups are using extremist Islam to meld the Islamic faction into a more powerful factor in the global power equation.
Some of these Islamic regimes installed and supported by Western powers have been slowly drifting away from the West – like Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iran, etc. Some other regimes are longer able to call the shots – like the Saud family, or the Iraqi regime.
The other aspect of the Islamic faction is the geographical spread. The primary Islamic region is the Arab region, centred around Middle East /West Asia region. The secondary Islamic region is the Central Asia – earlier a part of the Mongol Empire. Walled in by China and Japan on the East, by Russia on the West and diverse countries in the South, it is a shadow of its former self.
The region with the largest Islamic population is South and South East Asia – concentrated across India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. The South and South East Asia Islamic region has a moderate and non-imperial history.
Hence these three regions (Middle-East region, Central Asian region and South /SE Asian) have evolved differently and have little in common. Hence, the image of the Islamic ‘world’ as a monolithic unit is misleading.
Big trouble in Little China
The other puzzle is classifying China. China under Confucian State model was solidly in the Desert Bloc. After the advent of Buddhism, as the Chinese people became landholders, as they obtained rights to own silver and gold, they moved to Indic system. Marriage and family systems became the norm – instead of exception.
After and under Mongols, for instance the Kublai Khan restricted silver and gold rights – and issued fiat currency. The Chinese State has mostly been Desert Bloc in its tendency. But the Chinese people have great faith in their Buddhist teachers. Will China become a staunch Desert Bloc member like Iran in the past, is still possibly an open question.
The Assyrian thread
With Niniveh, (also called Asshur) as its capital, the Assyrian Empire, ended in 600 BC. The Assyrian Empire passed through many hands – recreating and renewing itself in the same mould. The name, Assyrian Empire was a Roman modification of Asuristan – the area of current Iraq.
The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC) were the first successor power to preside over the Assyrian Empire, from their capital in Perspolis. Many wealthy Jews were envied for their vast slave holdings. Alexander ousted the Achaemenids to rule over the Assyrian Empire – effectively after the Battle at Gaugemela (331 BC). Daidochi Wars after Alexander’s death and attacks by Rome-Carthage alliance led to the disintegration of Macedonian rule. Romans, added Western Europe, and ruled over the Assyrian Empire for the next 350 years (60 BC-285 AD), with its capital in Rome.
Rome formally lost the Assyrian Empire when Diocletian was forced to split Roman Empire in 285 AD. Eastern Roman Empire, well-known for its premier city, Byzantium (a cognate of Indian Vyjayanti) mostly had its capital in Constantinople (modern Istanbul) continued to gain power and wealth over the next 400 years.
Various Islamic dynasties (c.700-1300) ruled over large parts of the Assyrian Empire, with capitals mostly in Damascus, Baghdad, till they were deposed by Genghis Khan’s Mongols. After adding China, Mongol factions ruled over the Assyrian Empire for varying periods, between 1300-1600 AD over different parts of the Assyrian Empire.
It was the Mongols who helped in the rise of the West. First, was the trade in millions of slaves from Eastern Europe (the Slavs, hence slaves) by Venetian and Florentine traders, which funelled vast monies into European economies from Egyptian and Byzantine slave-buyers. This wealth from slave trade was the stuff of which tales are told. Shakespeare wrote of Merchant of Venice, Comedy of Errors, Gentlemen of Verona. Leonardo da Vinci, architect Bramante, sculptor Donatello, Michelangelo, Titian and other famous artists found patrons with the earlier Visconti, powerful Medicis, notorious Borgias, lesser known Sforza (Milan), Pazzi and the Albizzi families. It was this slave-trade that fuelled Renaissance art and culture. Florence, Venice, Milan became major banking centres. Double-entry book keeping became standard, under which any kind of financial picture can be created. Quite unlike the Indian single-entry system.
Mongols brought to the West two major technologies. One, was the Indian decimal system and Indian saltpetre for gunpowder, was the other. Indian mathematics (initially outlawed by European rulers) is the foundation of Western science and technology. Indian gunpowder was their ticket to military power. Wealth from trade in African slaves, conquest, loot, annihilation of Native Americans, using gunpowder, fuelled a 500 year technology boom in the West.
The last significant dynasties that ruled over the ancient Assyrian Empire were Islamic Ottomans and the Christian Austro-Hungarian Empire. These two empires were dismantled after WW1 (1920) by Western allies.
Slavery rarely finds mention in Indian media. Much less is any discussion or understanding about the role of slavery in the rise of the West. A rare Indian columnist with awareness of the slavery factor. Even this discussion about clash of civilizations does not work.
- The Assyrians and Jews: 3,000 years of common history | Gene Expression (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- The Clash of Civilizations (adweek.com)
- Arab Voices, Heard at Last (nytimes.com)
- Fighting Words (nytimes.com)
A tale of two cities
To understand the ‘politics’ of Indus-Saraswati Valley sites, a good start point is Turkey.
In 1834, local villagers in Turkey, (then the Ottoman Empire), guided a French explorer, Charles-Felix-Marie Texier to nearby ruins. These ruins, he thought were ruins of the Celtic Tavium city, mentioned in various Roman sources. Instead, what he ‘found’ was a more ancient culture, that predated Rome by 1500 years.
The Hittite city of Hattusas, that Texier ‘discovered’, took another nearly 100 years to start disgorging its secrets to modern archaeologists. The name of the Hittite city, Hattusas, is itself possibly derived from the Sanskrit word, hutashan, हुताशन meaning “sacred sacrificial fire.”
Guarded by weathered stone lions, very similar to Ashoka Pillar lions, the city of Hattusas, became a cause for much politicking.
The politics of archaeology
In 1906-07, an Turkish archeologist, Theodore Makridi-Bey, started excavations at Boghazkoi, (identified as the ancient Hattusas city) 150-200 km from Ankara, Turkey. He was joined by Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist, specialising in Assyria. They unearthed more than 10,000 clay tablets which were of tremendous interest.
Earlier, in 1904, English archaeologist John Garstang (1876-1956) lost out to Hugo Winckler, of Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, (German Oriental Institute) supposedly at the intervention of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm-II for excavation rights at modern Boghazkoy.
Related to Boghazkoy tablets were some of the tablets found at Tell-el-Armana, by Flinders Petrie in 1891-1892. The decipherment of the Tell-el-Amarna letters, by JA Knudtzon, in 1901, linked the few earlier tablets found at Boghazkoi-Hattusas. By French archaeologist JA Ernest Chantre in 1893-94, who was
the first in a long line of archaeologists to dig at the ancient site in the 1890s, starting with the hill top compound. His exclusive interest in tablets, unfortunately, led him to destroy everything else he uncovered.
What Makridi Bey and Winckler found, were some 10,000 clay tablets. 10,000 tablets, which no one in the world could read.
On the other side of the world
A Czech cryptographer, educated in Vienna, Austria, working in Germany, Bedřich (or Friedrich) Hrozný, cracked this code over the next 15 years – and that set off a furore among archaeologists. Hrozný’s
discovery was based on this short sentence written in cuneiform: NU NINDA-AN EZZATENI,WATAR-MA EKUTENI .
Since many Babylonian words were included in Hittite texts, the clue was provided by the Babylonian word ninda, which means “food” or “bread.” Hrozný asked himself a very simple question: What does one do with food or bread? The answer, of course, was, one eats it. So the word ezzateni must be related to eating.
The publication in 1922 of these tablets showed, in one case, a call to Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nastya to witness a treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, a Mitanni. Gods that only people in India worshipped.
So, how did Vedic gods land up in Turkey, some 3500 years ago?
A deserter’s tale
Back in India, a British ‘soldier-of-fortune’ working with the English East India Company, during 1833-1838, was making his way into various parts of India. On one such trip, after,
A long march preceded our arrival at Haripah, through jangal of the closest description. East of the village was an abundance of luxuriant grass … in front of the village … (a) ruinous brick castle. Behind us was a large circular mound, or eminence, and to the west was an irregular rocky height, crowned with remains of buildings, in fragments of walls, with niches, after the eastern manner. The entire neighbourhood is embellished with numerous pipal trees, some of them in the last stage of lingering existence; bespeaking a great antiquity, when we remember their longevity. The walls and towers of the castle are remarkably high, though, from having been long deserted, they exhibit in some parts the ravages of time and decay. Between our camp and it extended a deep trench, now overgrown with grass and plants. Tradition affirms the existence here of a city, so considerable that it extended to Chicha Watni, thirteen cosses distant, and that it was destroyed by a particular visitation of Providence, brought down by the lust and crimes of the sovereign. (from “Narrative of various journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan by Charles Masson”; underlined text in parenthesis supplied).
During his travels, over North and North West India, he “bought numerous ornaments, gems and coins in Kabul bazaar and amassed an estimated 60,000 coins, gems, seals, rings and other, mostly bronze, surface finds from the urban site of Begram north of Kabul.”
This travelogue, published in 1842, is the first known Western citing of Harappa.
Railway tracks over history
Much before 1857, the British Raj was wracked by rebellion, mutinies, uprisings, battles against colonial British rule. More than 50 of them between 1800-1850. Pushed by this state of constant war, British defense goals in India justified the expansion of Indian railway system. Many of these railway systems were set up by Indian princely states and the promoter-investors, with funds, underwritten by the Indian fare paying passengers. Buried under this railways expansion, are some vital elements of Indian history.
Between Lahore to Multan, for about a 100 km, buried under railway tracks, lies history. John Brunton, on an assignment to build railway lines from Lahore, used bricks from Harappa “ruins, which in extent exceeded all (his) anticipations … situated on the banks of a deserted river bed.” As this section for railways was being built, contractors used precise bricks and baked clay blocks from nearby ruins and abandoned buildings, to lay the bedding, to which railways tracks were later anchored. The bricks used for this ballast were 4000-5000 year old bricks and clay material from Harappa. On this ballast, rests ‘modern’ Indian history.
Probably, even world history.
Indus Valley Civilization – a history of false starts
Alexander Cunningham, Director of Archaeological Survey of India reported in 1875, how the sites had changed from the time of his trips in 1850’s. The few seals that came to Cunningham’s attention, were promptly declared as “foreign to India.” In spite of the many finds, the first publication was of “three Indus seals discovered by the Italian scholar L. P. Tessitori at Kalibangan in 1917-18 …”
Between 1911-1912, DR Bhandarkar visited Harappa and Mohenjo daro. He thought the ruins did not represent “the remains of … any ancient monument …” and were less than 200 years old as the “bricks here found are of the modern type”.
Very little was published or studied, even though, Cunningham, Auriel Stein, DR Bhandarkar, Harold Hargreaves, were aware of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro sites.
All quiet on the Western front! Why?
After 80 years, (1845-1924) of inaction, silence and denial, suddenly the British Raj ‘decided’ to put these ruins to some ‘good use’.
John Marshall, Director of Archaeological Survey Of India (ASI), a Lord Curzon-appointee, was despatched to Harappa and Mohenjodaro, in 1925, (his first visit!).
Despite being in India, and in ASI from 1902, Marshall’s first visit to Harappa and Mohenjodaro was in 1925. Based on his ‘insights’ and ‘intuition’ Marshall started writing an ‘authoritative’ book on the “Indus Valley Civilization”.
What was behind this decision?
During 1800-1900, various excavations, in the Levant (Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia et al) Western archaeologists dug up more than 400,000 clay tablets. Showing an ‘Aryan’ linkage, pointing to India – peaking with the Boghazkoi decipherment. ‘Modern’ history does not
appreciate the colossal scale of their discoveries, decipherments, and specialized studies, and the effect of this new material in opening up the ancient Orient to European view in the period between 1880 and 1914. As scholars ransacked a vast quantity of new textual and archaeological documents, they discovered the powerful influence of Zoroastrian Persia, the esoteric depths of ancient India, and the primeval innovations of the Assyrians and Sumerians. These new cultures, appealing in their antiquity, spirituality, and apparent purity, made the well-known “orientals”—especially the ancient Israelites and Egyptians—seem derivative, corrupt, and banal …
… in the quest to give the Wilhelmine Empire autonomous and secure cultural foundations, they shared a common set of enmities—and an inclination to fight occidentalist traditions with “oriental” truths. (from German Orientalism and the Decline of the West By SUZANNE MARCHAND; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied.).
The timing of the Indus Valley announcement, coincided with the publication of deciphered Boghaz-koi and the Amarna tablets between 1920-1925. When Indus Valley announcement was made, world historical narratives were at a delicate stage. Hegel-Marx-Muller’s historiography of ‘Aryan Invasion’ of India was hanging by a thin thread.
After WW1, with Germany defeated and Turkey dismembered, classification and announcement of the ‘Indus Valley Civilization’ (IVC) swiftly followed with a publication in Illustrated London News, in September-October 4th, 1924. John Marshall, (Director, ASI, 1922-1927), made his first visit to Harappa-Mohenjo daro the next year, in 1925. He ‘recorded’ his excavations and investigations, in a 3-volume book.
Marshall’s tale of ‘Dravidian’ cities (Harappa /Mohenjo-daro) destroyed by ‘Aryan invaders’, has survived for nearly a 100 years. ‘Aryans’ a Western invention, viewed through a prism of Euro-centric, colonial ideology of the 1920’s, have no basis in history or archaeology. There never was an Aryan race. On the other hands, the Aryan-Dravidian ‘divide’ were obvious colonial attempts to divert attention – and to draw attention away from the Indian connection with Boghazkoi decipherments.
And the story does not end here!
Bigger than WW2
In the dying days of the Raj, came more insidious history. At the apex of WW2, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war and sent him to India – to head colonial India archaeological operations at ASI.
One evening in early August 1943, Brigadier General Mortimer Wheeler was resting in his tent after a long day of poring over maps, drawing up plans for invasion of Sicily. Mortimer Wheeler was invited to become the director general of archaeology by the India Office of the British government in its last years of rule in South Asia … Summoning a general from the battlefields of Europe was an extraordinary measure, an admission both of the desperate condition of Indian archaeology and an acknowledgment of its vital importance. (from The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture … – Google Books; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied).
Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WW2, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield – and put him into archaeology! That too, Indian archaeology. Not Egyptian, not Greek!
One writer explains how one of Wheeler’s “main objectives was training the rising generation of Indian archaeologists in the field methods that he had perfected …” Oozing with the milk of human kindness, aren’t we? Especially, in the middle of WW II! When it was clear, that the British would be ‘departing’ from India – sooner than later.
Just why did the world’s foremost imperial power, struggling for its very existence, put a general on to the job of digging dirt.
Dirty brown Indian dirt!
Aryan /Indian history becomes fashionable
At the start of twentieth century, there were swarms of people wanting to study Aryan/Indian history. Along with cultural dacoits like Augustine Waddell, Auriel Stein, there were the more academic types who wrote a book on India and ‘Near East’ – Nejstarší dějinyPřední Asie a Indie by Bedřich Hrozný.
By the 1920’s under a deluge of archaeological evidence, it appeared that Indian history would run away from its rulers – the British Colonial Raj.
Usurping Aryan Achievements
While Britain and the France, for colonial reasons, were ‘discovering’ the Greek miracle, Germany and the USA started ‘discovering the ‘Aryan’ roots’ to Western civilization.
Martin Bernal, the author of ‘Black Athena” trilogy analyzes Western “amnesia” towards African contribution to Western culture. His thesis traces this ‘amnesia’ to the replacement of Europe’s “Ancient Model” (Egypt-Greece-Rome model) of historiography with the “Aryan” (India-Mesopotamia-Babylon-Assyria) model.
Simply speaking, the West replaced Egypt as the source of culture with the Aryans. Fact is, neither the cultural achievements of Egypt (from Africa) nor of the Aryan (from India) are for the West to arrogate to themselves.
A writer on this phase of history, Susan Marchand says,
“The Aryan industry, of course, burgeoned. Even the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, in exile, took up the study of the Orient … In a 1928 letter to his friend, the former emperor reported a recent conversation with Oswald Spengler in which Wilhelm had tried his best to convince the herald of Western doom that “we are orientals [Morgenländer], and not westerners [Abendländer].” (Bold letters, italics, ellipsis mine).
With Germany and America on the Aryan train, Britain was hard pressed to control Indian historiography. ‘Fresh’ evidence was needed to show ‘Aryan’ invasion. Indus Valley civilization provided that opportunity.
The task became easier as Germany lost WW 1, and the Ottoman Empire was carved out of existence. The rump state of Turkey went down the ‘Westernization’ path. Neither Germany or Turkey were in any position to oppose Anglo-French historiography. The Egypt-Greece-Rome-Europe axis dismissed the ‘Aryan model’ archaeologists as pan Babylonists.
And after Hitler and WW II, USA no longer supported the ‘Aryan’ model.
The ‘Great’ Game
At the dawn of 19th century, European empires, found themselves with barren cultural cupboards. World powers in their own right, with millions of slaves from Africa, after ‘successful’ genocides in Americas, swollen by hubris and military power, across Asia these European powers controlled capital flows across the world. For these empires, archaeology, became a ‘playing’ ground for extending intra-European ‘coopetition’ (a hackneyed business term, made up of cooperation and competition).
For Germany, the charge into archaeology, was a “national competition and a less belligerent realm for expression of resentment at Germany’s late leap into colonial activity.” And these rivalries had a telling effect.
Britons and Frenchmen almost monopolized Egyptian excavation in the 1880s and the 1890’s, but then Germans, Americans, and Italians came in. The turning point came in 1905-1907 with a rush of American expeditions and the founding of the German Archaeological Institute … In Istanbul and its Fertile Crescent provinces, German activity in the army and railroad building spilled over into archaeology. The director of Istanbul’s antiquities service and museum in the 1870s had been a German. German excavations at Pergammon in 1878 and later at Babylon and later at the Hittite capital of Boghazkoi fanned Frenchmen’s uneasiness …
World War I aborted this promising beginning. German property in Egypt was sequestered. After the war, the dispute over Borchardt’s quiet export of the bust of Nefertiti to Berlin flared up. The Eyptians refused to allow German excavation or reopening of the German Archaeological Institute till 1929, when Herman Junker replaced the embittered Borchardt … he clung to his post until 1939 despite British accusations that he worked for the Nazis. (From Whose pharaohs?: archaeology, museums, and Egyptian national identity from … By Donald Malcolm Reid, pages 196-198; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied.).
Of course this writer does not tell the complete story of Nefertiti’s bust.
Germany alone, it is estimated, spent some four million marks, between 1899-1913 on excavations in the Middle East /West Asia.
After the founding of the Reich in 1871, archaeology became a national enterprise. The IfAK was taken over by the state, and eventually formed the basis of today’s Deutsches-Archaeologisches Institut. Rivalry with France and Britain extended to the scholarly realm, and resulted in governmental support for large-scale excavations by Ernst Robert Curtius at Olympia (1875-81), Carl Humann at Pergamon (1878-86), and eventually Robert Koldewy at Babylon (1898-1914) and Walter Andrae at Assur (1903-1914) in Ottoman Mesopotamia. Wilhelm II was a particularly enthusiastic promoter of archaeology (pp. 192-199) …
Archaeology abroad grew ever more dependent on the diplomatic and financial support of the Reich for massive long-term projects … German prehistorians of the early-twentieth century also maintained that their countrymen represented the purest modern descendants of the ancient Aryans. Thus they contributed to the witches’ brew that would make up Nazi racist ideology
Out of this politics, came propaganda. In some cases, these archaeological excavations served the purpose of intelligence gathering.
The most famous example of this intelligence work was that of TE Lawrence and Leonard Woolley who were excavating at Carchemish in Syria prior to World War I. Their archaeological endeavours seem to have been secondary and perhaps even a cover for more covert activities.
While Britain and the France, for colonial reasons, were ‘discovering’ the Greek miracle, Germany and the USA started making out a case for ‘Aryan’ roots’ of Western civilization. Martin Bernal, the author of ‘Black Athena’ trilogy ascribes Western “amnesia” of African contribution to Europe’s replacement of the “Ancient Model” of historiography with the “Aryan” model.
Simply speaking, the West replaced Egypt as the source of culture with the Aryans.
Truth is stranger than fiction
Competition from Germany was especially very galling for the Anglo-French archaeologists and historians. Hollywood’s portrayals of the ‘German archaeologist’, even today are proof of this. Hollywood could not keep its hand off such a juicy set of characters and incidents.
To this odd and motley crowd of British, French, German and Italian archaeologists, add a character like Sheikh Hamoudi, and you have all the characters needed for a Hollywood potboiler – the Indiana Jones series.
Vendyl Jones, James Henry Breasted, Robert Braidwood, Hiram Bingham III and Roy Chapman Andrews became a mashed up Indiana Jones. Hollywood villainy drew upon German archaeologists like Hermann Junker (German archaeologist will do anything for artifacts), Otto Rahn (SS officer after Holy Grail), Ludwig Borchardt (German archaeologist ships home ‘stolen’ artifacts).
German archaeologists became cannon fodder to build a Hollywood caricature as a villain – as Indiana Jones’ protagonist.
Three rings for elven kings …
The history of Indus-Saraswati basin sites is full of false starts – and some of these are false beginnings persist to this date.
excavating northwest India’s “forgotten cities”, historians and archaeologists had to break free from received ways of imagining the past. Cunningham, for instance, based his investigation on Hsuan Tsang’s accounts, using them to identify monasteries and stupas in the course of his surveys. Masson made his way with Alexander the Great’s 326 BC route in mind. Harappa demanded a different grid.(from On the Road to Harappa, Indian Express, Posted: Aug 14, 2005 at 0000 hrs IST).
And that different grid is something that Western historians (and their Indian and Western followers) are finding difficult to work with. The usual theory trotted out is that
The discovery of Harappa revised, in one stroke, existing theories of ancient Indian history. Until then, the earliest known Indians were believed to be the literate Hindus who lived by the Rig Veda in the Second millennium BC. Modern Hindus trace their origins to this “Vedic civilisation”, whose language and religion were considered wholly indigenous to the subcontinent. The existence of a separate pattern of settlement, an advanced civilisation predating the Vedic era by a few hundred years, raised confusing – and politically charged – questions. If the Indus Valley peoples were not Hindus, who were they? And where, then, did the Hindus come from?
This seemingly coherent scenario actually smuggles in some very potent and smooth pseudo-concepts – the concept of Hindus, Vedic and Aryans.
India did not have a religion for many centuries. Dharma ruled India. The virus of religion was introduced by Desert Bloc – and Indian’s thereafter become ‘Hindus’. Hindus, Hinduism, in India, especially before 1000 AD is a historical fallacy. This fallacy gained significant traction, especially in the last 100 years.
Second is the Vedic age. There never was a Vedic age. Not in the sense that Western historiographers slot and exclude various developments. This presupposes linear, directional, phased, and centralized development of the Vedas. Assuming a command and control system, it has a non-empirical base.
For instance, this assumes that the Vedic age was dedicated to the Vedas – and all other texts developed after that.
Fact is that the Vedas depend on the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh; along with the Devatas and Asuras. The structure of the Devas, Asuras, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh can really be understood through the Upanishads, the epics and the Puranas. And we have not even begun on development of an ‘artificial’ language like Sanskrit (as opposed to Prakrit).
Pauranik structures, Upanishadic debates, technical compendiums, the twin epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata were parallel developments and coeval – albeit at different stages of evolution, pace and direction.
While other cultures struggle with low or high double digits of ancient texts, India has lakhs of them. This vast body of textual creation, has not happened anywhere else in the ancient world. The very assumption that it happened in India, in a matter of a few centuries – while the Aryans, Greeks, Persians, Scythians, Tocharians, Huns, were conquering India.
During these ‘invasions’, the conquerors were kind enough to leave Indian seers, sages, munis and rishis alone so that they could carry on with the composition of these texts. Massacring the males, raping the women and enslaving the rest, in the meanwhile continued in the parallel. And after these massacres and conversions, these invaders were of course kind enough to convert to an Indian way of life – and melt away from the centre stage of Indian history. These attempts to phase Indian culture are artificial and unproductive. Simply a caricature of history.
The third fallacy of this dating logic is the ‘Aryan’ culture. Especially, as opposed to Dravidian culture. There was no Aryan race, religion, language, armies, conquests, invasions, rulers or other such markers. The only significant markers for the Aryans were values – especially in relation to slavery. Aryan values would not allow believers to enslave or be enslaved. Slavery was an asuric construct – which Aryan values opposed and sought to end. And all regions that abolished slavery became Aryavart.
And with these three pseudo-concepts, ‘modern’ historians mangle Indian history.
Same blunt tools
After WW1, with Germany and America on the Aryan train, Britain (and by extension, the West) was hard pressed to control Indian historiography. To show ‘Aryan’ invasion, ‘fresh’ evidence was needed. Indus Valley civilization provided that opportunity.
The task became easier as Germany lost WW 1, and the Ottoman Empire was carved out of existence. The rump state of Turkey went down the ‘Westernization’ path. Neither Germany or Turkey were any position to oppose Anglo-French historiography. After Hitler and WW2, the US was also in no position to continue with the Aryan legacy story. The Egypt-Greece-Rome-Europe axis dismissed the ‘Aryan model’ archaeologists as pan Babylonists.
Before leaving India, Britain gave one, last twist, to the ‘Aryan invasion’ knife, sticking out of the Indian history side. And Mortimer Wheeler was that last twist in the Indian side by the departing British rulers.
And HARP is the proxy knife which is being used – for the same reasons, with same blunt tools, but with lesser effects.
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.