Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy

    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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India’s Ayrans, Vedic texts, mystics, philosophers….

Posted by robertpriddy on January 24, 2010

This is a response to a comment (see at foot of page) received about an earlier blog I wrote. The response is somewhat typical of Indians who take excessive pride in their ancient culture and who try to present its history, early civilization and ancient thought forms in the best possible light. I have actually earlier stood for much – even most – of what Kiran tries to express – but no longer. Life went on and I learned to find my way back out of those huge mental labyrinths – but it took many decades. At all events, I am far away from your conceptions now. You will probably feel my replies sharp, but there is no ill will intended. A sharp response is better than a blunt one, I always feel. I can’t explain my reasons fully here – anyhow, all explanations must end somewhere. My comments are in blue text.

Kiran wrote:-

“Aryan invasion of the Nazi variety never did happen in India. India has indeed seen a racial and cultural mix of a lot of people, but there is no reason to suggest that the complex civilization of Mohenzodaro along the banks of the Indus and Saraswati was disconnect from the Vedas.”

Reply: Kiran may have read, but not taken to heart, the work of India’s famous true polymath Nirad Chaudhury. He is loathed by many Indians for revealing the full truth about India and Hindu origins, its caste and related practices, its suppression of the indigenous inhabitants, its inherent militarism and so on … I find his reasoning and evidence most persuasive – though incomplete, of course, on much of the debate about the origins of India and its tremendous problems today. Try ‘The Continent of Circe’ (Chaudhury). The Ayran invasion was maybe mass immigration, undoubtedly not without considerable conflict, – but the evidence of a planned invasion is lacking, of course. One cannot either say for certain invasion never did happen.

“The Vedic texts are rich in astronomy, mathematics, medicine and linguistics.. such artefacts cannot but come from a well-established civilization. The dating that was arbitrarily assigned for the composition of the Vedas (specifically the oldest Rg Veda) are now being revised by all professional historians.”

By some – if not all – professional Indian historians no doubt (apart from that Indianized shastri from the American Frawley whose astrological evidence and astronomical interpretations are far-fetched speculations). Yet not by any world-class historians or archeologists, I fear! Professional Indian history began with the British… and India’s earlier history is misty, to say the least. Claims that India has the first airplane (pushpak) that flew by power of mantra  and many like it are not taken seriously because historical records are were never kept at all – and then seldom properly.  The Vedas are recorded inalienably in Sanskrit (the correct pronunciation while chanting them is held to be of decisive importance) Therefore they could not have been translated into a later form of Sanskrit. The well-researched study of the various phases of development of Sanskrit reportedly show in great detail how they are not anywhere near as old as Indian Hindus would like to believe.

“The Indian civilization at (and even prior to) the composition of the Vedas was the most sophisticated and technologically advanced in the world at the time, such heights were not reached by the western world until the renaissance and middle ages, which themselves owe to a certain extent to Indian influences (via the Arabs).”

I am aware that the Mohenjo-Daro civilization had made some considerable discoveries in maths, astronomy, though the Babylonians are universally recognised as prior in these areas. The Ayurveda – which you apparently endorse – is made to look extremely lightweight in the light of the current science of genetics, nutrition… it had no conception of bacteriology or viruses for a start. Thousands of discoveries of major importance to health and curing diseases had to wait until European medicine began its rapid advance with people like Harvey…. It was a lifestyle philosophy more than anything, bound up with primitive beliefs in the power of prayer (which is objectively entirely powerless, of course). Some of its claims are ridiculous, of course (urine-drinking?)

“The image of the Indian other-worldly sage is a pure imagination is distinctly colonialist, it holds no relevance today. Indian sages, for all purposes, were very worldly and developed quite sophisticated sciences and technology. A few of them were also mystics and indulged in meditation and self-reflection. Indian philosophy owes a large extent to the latter types.

“Pure imagination” it is most certainly not. Among the intensely other-worldly supposed ‘sages’ of India rank Swami Nityananda, Sri Yukteswar, Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Nisargadatta (advaitist!), Yogananda, Shirdi Sai Baba, Babaji, Tapaswaji Maharaj (claimed as 183 years old!?), Shiva Bala Yogi, Toilanga or Mahatma Tailang Swami (claimed 280 yrs.) just as a start. There were some sophisticated thinkers even among them – but no empiricists and their weird beliefs are known to – and often held in awe by – most Indians today. India is famed for its host of equally or even more other-worldly figures. Consider the 250,000 stark naked and heavily cannabis-imbibing naga mendicants, the 2 million wandering sadhus, including countless practitioners of mystical and weird tapas (standing on one leg for decades, sitting amid 4 fires in hot summer, rolling thousands of kilometers (as recently done by Lotan Baba). – I can agree that many Indian gurus are very worldly. The business interests of Rajneesh, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Maharaji, Ravi Shankar – to name a few of these bogus ‘masters’  – shows that. Besides which, many who had very large followings have been imprisoned for rape, murder, embezzlement and so on. (see The Dark Underside of some prominent Hindu gurus)

Indian philosophy, though it has its empiricists – very largely ignored to this day – is nearly all speculative thought, invariably based on assumptions of a religious and otherworldly kind… the Sankhya philosophy is based in primitive earth/air/fire/water/akasa symbolism. Neither dvaita, vishtadvaita or advaitic theiological-philosophies are sufficiently empirical to be other than religious tracts – and are all entirely non-systematic as to scientific method. This is what the so-called ‘sages’ produced (Shankara, Ramanuja as examples). Let’s face it, the comparatively vast development of knowledge through the hard and soft sciences during the last few centuries totally outstrips all traditional Indian thought.

Comment received


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