Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The original amma(mother) is abba....

Someone commented (I have lost that comment) on my "amma, ayya" post that Aramaic equivalent of Dravidian word 'appa' is 'abba'.

Amma was appa and appa was amma before:The present day usage of appa(father) and amma(mother) in Kannada and Tamil are in fact very recent. If we read Kannada works of ancient Kannada(Halegannada), the word used to denote father was 'amman(avar)' and mother 'abbe'. Though Kannadigas have changed since, Tuluvas have kept the words same. Tulu word for mother is 'abba' and father 'ammer'.

Now, it's easy for a person with matrifocal background like me to come up with a theory of matriarchal society changing to patriarchal one, just like other patriarchal anthropologists coming out theories like warlike people establishing everything, everywhere or attributing anything, anywhere to warlike people. And I'm going to do just that.

In the original Aramaic bible(I have not read one), it seems passages end with ...abba, father. The explanation given was 'abba' is akin to 'daddy'. And it's as if saying ...father, my loving daddy. Aha.. don't you think something amiss here? Inexplicable casualness in such a serious and sacred book like bible! I can explain it. The original prayer writer had only mother goddess in his/her mind. Therefore, abba. Later, somebody added father(Just like Shiva's phallus gaining over devi's yoni). Therefore, in the intermediate period between matriarchal to patriarchical society both father and mother had equal footing. Later it's father all the way, so much so that the original word for mother 'abba' came to identify with father.

Sometimes, I just surprise myself with my ability to re-write world history with just two words, father and mother.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

South Dravidian languages -III

(Via Quetzalcoatl: anthropology forum)

Perhaps, there can be other explanations for Southern Dravidian language distribution. However, this again requires this language family to spread from the region of Tulu Nadu or the present day Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. From the above figure it's clear that two branches of Southern Dravidian languages were Tulu and Tamil-Kannada.

Pre-Dravidian languages of South India:
Dravidian language speakers were not the first one to inhabit the region of South India. The languages that were spoken in this region could have belonged to Astro-Asiatic and some other extinct language families.

Consider a situation of Dravidian speakers migrating from Mangalore to other parts of South India. However, the people in present day Karnataka, Kerala didn't turn into Dravidian speakers during this first immigration. Incidentally, the Dravidian language survived and flourished in the region of Tamil Nadu(probably, in North Tamil Nadu). After sometime, there was a second and the most successful migration of Dravidian speakers from the region of Tamil Nadu. This took them to present day, Kannada, Kodava and Malayalam regions. Perhaps , this second migration from Tamil Nadu drove all the other language families to total extinction in South India. I suppose, now that language tree of Southern Dravidian language makes more sense.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

South Dravidian languages -II

The remarkable feature of South Dravidian language distribution is that you can find all the major languages within 300 kms radius from the region of Tulu Nadu. In my previous posts you can find the discussion about Dravidian speakers expanding from South-West of India. I have identified that particular region as Dakshina Kannada, a coastal district of Karnataka. I hail from that place.

I don't know about tracing sound changes, but I can guarantee you if each of those language speakers trace their step backwards they will reach Mangalore.

Of course, you can argue Dravidian speakers started moving westward from the region of Tamil Nadu around Nilgiri hills and reached Tulu region in the end. However, that doesn't answer why no new languages formed east of that region. In fact, the region of Tulu speakers beautifully explains expansion of Dravidian speakers and development of new dialects in and around South, North and East of Tulu Nadu.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Genographic project : South Asia short shrifted?

If you are a South Asian waiting for your results from Genographic project then you can find your ancestor hunting down Neandertals in European lands instead of Heidelbergens in India. It seems over subscription by Europeans is the reason behind non-testing of South Asian specific Haplogroups unless they are found predominantly in India.

So if you are any of R1a1, L* and H* then it's highly likely that your ancestor's journey ends in the sub-continent. May be it's true for Indian females with mtDNA Haplogroup M*. However, if you belong to Y-Haplogroup R2 or mtDNA Haplogroup U7, then there are all the possibilities that your markers won't be tested and you would be assigned some upstream Haplogroup would be sent somewhere. Couple of examples from FTDNA forum,
For Y-Haplogroup R2,
For mtDNA-Haplogroup U7,

However, the funniest thing would be assigning Haplogroup R1* for R2. I know it's not as bad as blundering the paternal testing, but it doesn't make much sense. Does it?

Friday, December 02, 2005

South Dravidian languages

The above is my minimal set of Southern Dravidian language tree. If Dravidian languages have South-West Indian origins, then I would expect them to branch as above. However, the problem is Malayalam and Toda. I suppose those two languages should exchange the places. Or, perhaps, Tulu->Malayalam->Kannada->Kodagu->Toda->Tamil must be the order.

From the above chart it's clear that Tulu is the oldest and Tamil is the youngest of South Dravidian languages.

As far as I know, language changes
1. For every 10kms
2. Over time

But the question is whether it's the accent or the words.

Accent, I would propose is a hallmark of local languages. Malayalam and Tamil accents are that of pre-Dravidian languages, which are extinct now, spoken in those regions. Dravidian speaking people expanded from South-West(most probably from present day Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Kasaragod districts of coastal Karnataka and Kerala, also known as Tulu Nadu) of India into various directions. Northern Karnataka shows a distinct accent that could be of that of a pre-Kannada language spoken by ancestors of Kannadigas living there. Here, I'm making a grand statement that accents didn't change until the development of modern communication systems.

Ergo, Tulu accent is the closest to the proto-Dravidian language.

Words do change. However, development of literary language slows down this process by standardizing the words.

Ergo, Tamil is the least modified of all Dravidian languages.

Dravidians and Indus valley civilization:
I have already argued that Indus valley civilization was destroyed by Dravidians and Brahuis are the living proof of that event. New studies have shown that major Indian chromosomes like R,H, L have more than 10000 years of presence in the subcontinent. I suppose another Haplogroup J is younger but most of its sub groups might be 6000-8000 years old. These together constitute almost 90% of the sub-continent people( The rest 10% might again show India specific chromosomes like R and J, however, they are differentiated with their Western Eurasian female lineage which forms 10% of Indian female population).

Ergo, it's irrelevent if Dravidians and people of Indus valley civilization shared same genetic make up. After all, genes are irrelevent only culture matters. Nothing exemplifies it better than Indian society. Our misdirected philosophy hampered our growth as a civilized society with a scientific development and technological advancement. Perhaps, most recent example of knowledge becoming pervert is Hitler's "Aryan" supremacy theory. The worst sufferers of that were R1a rich East Europeans and Jews. In all probability, the word "Arya" was coined by some of that Haplogroup people who moved to Indian sub-continent(which itself was derived from Dravidian Ayya). I wonder if Hitler was R1a or R1b or I. If it's R1a, his life would be ironical. If he's R1b or I, "Aryan" doesn't make much sense I suppose.

Antiquity of the Dravidian languages:
I think IVC came to an end around 1800 BCE. Therefore, Brahuis might have reached there by now. So in all probability Dravidian languages diverged around 2000 BCE as linguists have claimed. Therefore, I think Dravidian languages started spreading around 4000 years ago. However, I don't think they replaced all the pre-existing languages in India. Most probably they drove all other linguistic families to extinct in South India. However, I suppose most of the North , West and East India was still speaking Astro-Asiatic and Semitic and some other language families that became extinct. I think except for Dravidian and Astro-Asiatic languages, Semitic and other languages were driven to extinct by the next wave of languages which was Indo-Aryan. Again, the accent could be Dravidian, Astro-Asiatic, Semitic and some extinct languages depending upon the local lingo.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Was Malayalam branched off from Tamil?

I'm not a linguist. However, I find it difficult to believe some of the popular conceptions about origins of different languages. One of them is, Malayalam branched out of Tamil around 800-1000CE.

Weren't all Dravidian languages branched off from Proto-Dravidian language?
I don't understand the branching convention used for the languages. It's shown at some places that Kannada, Kodava and Malayalam were branched out of Tamil at different periods of history and in that order.

That would sound like, people residing in the present day, Karnataka , Kodagu district of Karnataka and Kerala were speaking dialects of Tamil before the emergence of their distinct Dravidian languages. Does that means Tamil is nothing but original Dravidian language?

I would like to think, as, linguistically Dravidian, Indians moved South, they first inhabited regions of present day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh then Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Therefore, the first Southern regions to speak Dravidian language were Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Migration to the region of Kerala could be either simultaneous or before the migration to Tamil Nadu but never after that.

In my opinion, Dravidian language spoken in the region of Karnataka went on to become Kananda and so were the cases with Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

Is Tamil closest to the proto-Dravidian language?
Tamil's literary history starts from 2nd century BCE. Therefore, it might have frozen the words used during that period thus could be considered closest to the original Dravidian language. But the question is which Dravidian language. Dravidian languages had a long journey from North-West of the sub-continent(or beyond) to Tamil Nadu. Therefore, Tamil is closest to the Dravidian language that reached the region of Tamil Nadu.

Malayalam and Tamil:
The political history of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were intertwined till 10-11th century CE. The kingdoms followed Tamil kingdoms in their outlook. Since Tamil was already a literary language, it most plausibly became the court language of Kerala kings too. These kings could be either Tamils or Malayalees.

However, the Dravidian language in the region of Kerala developed into a distinct language long back. This could be seen from its hallmark accent. None of the other Dravidian languages show that kind of nasal accent. Late literary tradition cannot be used as a proof for its recent origin.

Tamil could have become the language of the local population because of elite Tamil domination. However, considering the fact that South Indian Shaivite, Budhist and Jain elites had hardly any inclination to educate the general population it was never going to be the case. In the end, the Dravidian language spoken in that region developed into a separate Malayalam language.

Retroflex approximants:
Malayalam uses two letters for retroflex approximant(l,r), but Tamil has only one. However, interestingly, Kannada works before 12th century also used two letters for l,r that could be equated to Malayalam retroflex approximant.

I really don't know the correct English term. It could be defined as a consonant or retroflex approximant without a vowel. Malayalam has five of them. I'm not sure about Tamil. But Kannada has one and that is 'n'.

I consider Retroflex approximant and Chillaksharams are typical to Dravidian languages in India(Of course, just as Ayya and Amma even Chinese languages might display them, at least it's true in the case of retroflex approximant). In those two cases, Malayalam doesn't look like a sub set of Tamil but a distant language with antiquity greater than ten centuries.

My argument is let's forget about letters in Malayalam because of Sanskrit influence(it could be other way round too, Sanskrit might have been influenced by some North Dravidian language and added few letters). But when it comes to letters unique to Dravidian languages, Malayalam is closer to another Dravidian language Kannada than Tamil. So my belief is that Malayalam wasn't branched from Tamil but developed into an independent language from some Southern proto-Dravidian language.

Update 1: 29-November-2005
There is a new paper(excerpts Via Quetzalcoatl discussion forum) on Indian Y-chromosomes that speculates that Dravidians are indigenous to India and originated in South-West of India. In my opinion that makes Tulu closest to the original Dravidian language followed by Kannada and Malayalam. Perhaps, South-West origin of Dravidian languages is a very interesting aspect. In Southen coastal Karnataka, there is no mainstream Kannada. However, there are three dialects of Kannada, viz. Havyaka, Kunda and Are bhashe. I wonder if these represent clinal variation of Dravidian languages. What does one mean by dialect? I don't agree that there are any dialects of a language. They are just clinal variations. They are standards by themselves. I suppose Kodava Thakk is the clinal language between Kannada, Tulu, Tamil and Malayalam. It's not an influenced language(I have read opinions like it's been influenced by Tulu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil) but a standard language which could remain so because of isolation. I suppose it's difficult to pinpoint clinal languages because of imposition of a certain standardized languages to the whole population.

Update 2:
Chillaksharam could be present in Tamil too without being explicitly mentioned in the grammar.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Origins of Indians: Version 2.2

Non-Vaidik Shaivism:
I have discussed about religious practices of South Indians before brahmanical Hinduism. Mostly, elites were Buddhist, Jain or non-Vaidik Shaivites. The common people might be worshipping all kinds of spirits. Among elite religions Shaivism was the religon of common people too.

We have already seen that Kashmiri Pundits and Konkani Saraswat brahmins were once considered pure Shaivites. Also, many South Indian brahmins were considered as Shaivites. I have already argued that most of these bramin castes were Dravidian priestly class basically and merged with Indo-Aryan and Semitic priestly class and established caste system. Sheer dominance of Dravidian religious deities in Hinduism is the direct result of this Shaivite Dravidian priestly class.

South Indian Shaivite priestly class:
The caste system was created in North-West of India, the meeting and melting point of Dravidians, Indo-Aryans and Semites. Though North India had a stable society with political entity before South India, the known South Indian kingdom of Pandyas was as back as 6-5th century BCE. That is almost a millennium before recorded Brahmin migration to South India. But it won't be surprising if there were brahmins in 6-5th century BCE.

So what happened to South Indian priestly class? Did they merge with brahmin priestly class as north Indians? Most plausibly many of them did. However, many continued to be Shaivites. That is non-Vaidik Shaivites.

Shaivites in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu:
There is a big group of Non-Vaidik Shaivites known as "VeeraShaivas" or "Lingayats" in Karnataka. This religious movement was started by Basavanna in 12th century CE, who was by birth a brahmin. The curious point about him is that he renounced brahmanical Hinduism denouncing all its practices including caste system and started a movement with total devotion to Shiva. This Veerashaivism converted many brahmanical Hindus to its fold. However, there still exists a section of Shaivites in Karnataka who consider themselves purer than these Veerashaivas since they were the oldest and natural Shaivites and not converted Shaivites. I have heard there is a section of Shaivites in Tamil Nadu also which considers itself as Non-Vaidik Shaivite. Most probably, these Shaivites(in Karnataka, they call themselves, before Basavanna) were dominant in South India before the rulers turned their back to non-Vaidik Shaivism. Similar is the case with Jains and Buddhists. But one hardly finds any Buddhist in South India indicating that they were not as numerous as Jains.

All these facts again prove that, a big chunk of Indo-European speaking people, from brahmins to non-brahmins and all Dravidian speaking people were assimilated ethnically and culturally after their migration to the subcontinent. All the so-called European admixture is due to the Western Eurasian females who form 10% of our population; since we have already seen that male Indo-Aryan genetic marker was already present in India. Anyway, admixture analysis using autosomes is still controversial.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My ancestor didn't take that route, Dr. Wells.

My 35000 years and 7 months old deep ancestry is out. Just yesterday Genographic project team uploaded my results. I belong to Haplogroup R (M173) and I suppose that means I’m in fact R1.

However, Dr. Wells went completely wrong about my paternal ancestor’s journey over the period. Contrary to his video message that my ancestors went westward from Central Asia to Europe, they actually moved south and reached India. And now here I’m in South India. I suppose R1 is also found among Camerooneans, so he could have talked about the possibilities of descendents of M173 moving to Africa and South Asia. I suppose he can not talk only about the most common route taken by Haplogroup R1 people while giving personalized messages.

My close cousins:
Unsurprisingly, most of my matches are Indians including a Pakistani and a Parsi. However, there were couple of distant matches with Central Asians (an Uzbek and a Central Asian muslim from China). I suppose too obvious.

What next?
I can’t go for surname project since I don’t have a surname. I can’t go for gotra test since, I have inherited my gotra matrilineally and I suppose I have to go for an mtDNA testing to compare my maternal ancestry.

Does this journey correspond to my community's folk story?
My community has a folklore that we migrated (or driven) from South to North generations back. I suppose even few Scandinavians have that story and I think it has been compared with R1a1 migration to Scandinavian countries. However, not much luck in my case. The south to north distance is just 100kms. That is from Kannur to Kasaragod and Mangalore all in south-west coastal India.

Update: 10-November-2005
Am I really R1?
This discussion at Genealogy-DNA-L forum about R1b in India has left me wondering about the validity of my M173. My STR counts at DYS390-DYS391-DYS392 are 23-10-10. It looks like people who have those values generally found to be positive for M124 or Haplogroup R2, an Indian specific Haplogroup with high frequency in South India. And I'm South Indian.

Update: 11-November-2005
I'm not the only Indian unhappy with my genetic journey described by Spencer Wells.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Origins of Indians: Version 2.1

Brahmins in South India:
I had few thoughts about migration of Brahmin communities to South India. This was rekindled by my discussion with Srikanth of Srican regarding development of caste system in South India.

The popular notion is that Brahmins were imported from North-West of India by South Indian kings to perform religious duties[1]. This could be true for some Brahmin families. But in my opinion there were Brahmins in South India before that period.

South India's religious history:
It's tough to demarcate religious character of South Indian society over the period. The common population most probably worshipped phallus, goddesses, folk heroes and nature(trees, snakes etc...) without any Vaidik touch. However, common people were irrelevent(no democracy!) during those days. Therefore, we have to consider only the religion of the rulers and the elite classes.

The ruling and elite classes of South Indian society was either Buddhist or Jain or non-Vaidik Shaivite. Of course, Brahmins were there, but just as another religious group[2]. The ascendency of Brahmins was started mostly around 6-7th century CE and was complete over all of South India by 12th century CE. As it's obvious, this change in the religious character was brought about by the transition of South Indian kings and elite classes from Buddhism, Jainism and non-Vaidik Shaivism to Brahmanical Hinduism or the caste system. However, the general population was affected by this transition mainly because of the common base of both Brahmin religion and local religions[3] as I have discussed before.

1. I suppose the recorded history of Brahmins' migration to South India as priests of kings was around 5-6th century CE.
2. It seems Vaidik gods like Indra, Varuna, Semitic god Brahma were mentioned in old Tamil literature( 2nd century BCE -2nd century CE) along with non-Vaidik gods. Since we know Brahmin caste first created in North-West India before 5th century CE(Buddha's period), some of this caste people might have already migrated to various parts of India by that time(As far as I know, they were prohibited only from crossing the sea).
3. It should be noted here that Brahmins in South India used to claim they worship higher forms of Shiva and Devi(goddess) and the general population(shudras) worship the lower forms. No, these two groups didn't borrow anything from each other, just that Brahmins had literate touch to their religion(okay, that means lot). However, there were contradictions to this claim if you consider India in general. I suppose Kali is lower form and Vishnu is higher form in South India, whereas, in Bengal, Kali is traditionally worshipped by the upper castes and the lower castes are generally Vaishnavites(Note:Vishnu is just an abstraction of Dravidian folk heroes Rama and Krishna).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Origins of Indians: Version 2.0

I have refined my theory to incorporate Hinduism's diverse origins. Previously, I argued that it’s a synthesis between Dravidian and Indo-Aryan beliefs but Dravidian deities taking higher position.

For the newcomers to this blog a brief description of male migration to the Indian sub-continent, as I see it, in the chronological order:
* Haplogroup-F Dravidians ->40-50000 years ago?
* Haplogroup-L Dravidians ->30000 years ago
* Haplogroup-H Dravidians ->20-30000 years ago
* Haplogroup-R1a Dravidians ->10-20000 years ago
* Haplogroup-J Semites -> 6-8000 years ago
* Haplogroup-R1a Indo-Aryans ->3-3500 years ago

Hindu Trinity:

In my previous post, I argued that Hindu trinity is entirely Indian. Though one of the trinity Shiva’s origins is evident in Dravidian worship, the origins of Brahma and Vishnu are ambiguous.

Abraham and Brahma:

I have read about the similarities between these two figures. Unfortunately, those articles also compare Krishna and Christ which I find highly improbable. So I was confused about the validity of this theory. Anyway, I’m going to ignore Krishna part and consider only Abraham part.

Religious strains of India:

1. Tribal nature worship: Haplogroups-F,L, H and R1a(Dravidian)
2. Shiva-Shakti worship: Haplogroups-F,L,H and R1a(Dravidian)
3. Semitic Brahma: Haplogroup J
4. Vedic gods(Indra, Agni, Vayu etc...): Haplogroup R1a(Indo-Aryan)


Vishnu is most plausibly the abstract of Indian folk heroes. Two of his human avatars Rama and Krishna were mortals. Since all of them have been depicted as dark skinned, I’ll include them as of Dravidian strain. Therefore, the final strain;

5. Abstract of folk heroes, Vishnu: Haplogroups-F,L,H and R1a(Dravidian)

Notes on Shiva and Shakti:

NuSapiens pointed me to Marija Gimbutas and her works on matrilineal European society while commenting on one of my previous posts. Perhaps, the present state of Shiva’s prominence doesn’t actually reflect the situation before patriarchic Indo-Aryan migration. The penis could have been just a subordinate of all powerful vagina in olden days. The phallus might have been created just to complement the yoni. However, the influence of Indo-Aryans resulted in phallus becoming all powerful Shiva. Nevertheless, in East and South India goddesses are still powerful. Both symbolic phallus and yoni also got the human forms reflecting Indo-Aryan imagination of gods (Though I’m not sure if Indo-Aryans were idolaters or not but Dravidians were).

Update: 29 October 2005
Gods without temples:
The original Indo-Aryan gods were not the only ones without any temples dedicated to them even Brahma[1] one of the trinity hardly finds any temple for him. Both these clearly point out their non-Indian origin and also the minority position of the people who were associated with these gods in the general population.

Relative numbers of R1a Dravidians and R1a Indo-Aryans:
Perhaps, peaceful migration of Indo-Aryans into North West of India might have resulted in materially superior civilization of Dravidians accepting the religious culture of Indo-Aryans. Most plausibly, linguistically Indo-Europeanization of North, East, West and Central India started around 1500 BCE and continued till 1000 CE. I think there should be a proper study of developement of stable societies in various Indian regions to understand the spread of Indo-European languages. Also, the role of Buddhism and Jainism in spreading Indo-European languages in North India(North, East, Central and West Indian regions).

As I said before, the peaceful migration of Indo-Aryans most probably brought females too. At present 90% of Indian caste/tribal mtDNA is India specific(East Eurasian?) and rest supposed to be European specific(West Eurasian?). I would argue, the frequency of Indo-Aryan R1a corresponds to this 10%. R1a frequency is supposed to be around 20% in caste Indian population. That would make 50% of R1a in that is Indo-Aryan. Though the balance of Dravidian and Indo-Aryan R1a might vary from region to region[2]. There were arguments that near homogeniety of Indian females might be due to polygyny and female infanticide practiced by this group. But I think in old socities that could be easily compensated by the heavy loss of men in the battle field and actually there could be higher number of females alive than males. So even 10% is an optimistic calculation. Anyway, from the old scriptures it looks like females did have a greater freedom and respect.

[1] The mythological story relating to non-worhsip of Brahma goes something like this. Brahma is the creator(just like Abraham is the father of all the tribes, thus the basic character of these two figures remained same in Semitic and Hindu religions). However, he married( or tried to seduce her or obsessed with her. .... or ... or ...or...damn these mythological stories ) his own creation Saraswati. Shiva angry with such an incestuous behaviour of Brahma cursed him that nobody would worship him.

[2] The Brahuis in Pakistan who supposed to exhibit 40% R1a might be purely Dravidian R1a.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I am Homo Neanderthalensis!

Found at my Genographic page, the message in bold letters is newly added.

Your sample needs additional testing. In some cases, the standard testing procedures do not permit the accurate determination of a haplogroup, so we perform additional tests. This test is referred to as a SNP test. This is not uncommon, but will delay the posting of your results by two to three weeks. You do not need to take any action at this time.

Please be aware that in some cases a simple SNP test may be inconclusive, which could result in additional delays of several weeks as we continue to test your sample.

If we find that there is a problem at any point during the processing of your sample, you will receive an updated message when you log in to check your status.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Buddhism and Jainism in South India

South India had Buddhist and Jain past that predates Brahmanical Hinduism. The popular theory prevalent among South Indian intelligentia (especially, non-brahmins) is Brahmins destroyed these religions and drove the local Buddhist/Jain population to inferior caste positions [1]. Somehow, I find it difficult to agree with it. Not the least because this theory gives motley crowd of Brahmins some supernatural abilities, but it also defies the logic.

Religious practices of South Indians:

Along with phallus/goddess, snakes, numerous local gods and spirits are revered by South Indians (The discussion is only about Hindus). The obvious primitiveness of these supernatural powers shows they are the oldest forms of worship preceding both Buddhism and Jainism. If whole South India was Buddhist or Jain before the arrival of the Brahmins that would require whole population going back to its primitive forms of worship from more sophisticated religions. I find it highly improbable.

Elite religions:

Ergo, I would go by the theory that both Buddhism and Jainism were religions of miniscule elite classes in South Indian society [2]. The mass remained animist throughout the history.

Brahmins had it easy:

When Brahmins came down to South India they never had to ‘convert’ the local population [3]. Their Vaidik religion was just Indo-Aryanization of Dravidian beliefs and gods. Whereas, Buddhist and Jain elite remained aloof of the local population, Brahmins entered into their social life because of the common base of their religious beliefs. The cultural aspects of both these groups merged easily. Perhaps, when the locals saw that these northern people also worship the same gods the feeling of alien ness might have never developed. Anyway, illiterate local population hardly had any intellectualism to oppose caste divisions.

For Buddhists and Jains of South India, it could have been a gargantuan task to convert (supposing they had that inclination) the mass to those religions [4]. Only fear and education(preaching) would have helped their cause. The former was ruled out and the later was obviously never undertaken by the elites. So probably, non-Brahmin intelligentsia, instead of shedding tears for the past Buddhist/Jain ancestors, should at least partly blame those elites of South Indians for failing them. Then again, are you proud of your animist beliefs or would rather part of basically atheist religions.


1. I assume since most of the Brahmins from north-west of India, the origin of caste system, they must be lighter skinned because of their mixing with Indo-Aryans. However, a sizeable number of dark skinned Brahmins in South India shows that the Buddhist and Jain elites might have merged with them.

2. There is a very small population of Jains (Tulu/Kannada) in coastal Karnataka. They are generally prosperous and educated people. Present day Jains in India are by large rich merchants.

3. There is no provision for conversion in Brahmanical Hinduism. It shows that it’s not a religion spread from the proselytization. As I have discussed already, Hinduism is founded by Dravidian people sharing same set of beliefs throughout the country. Assimilation with Indo-Aryans (R1A-Dravidians) only resulted in literate construction of those beliefs not actually altering anything. Brahmins never had to indulge in proselytization in India.

4. Religions founded by individuals need fear and education (preaching). Perhaps, the former more than the later. You also need educated society to influence the others. I wonder whether East-Asian countries were more egalitarian when it comes education since historical times.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Origin of Caste concepts

There are many theories as to the origin of caste system in India. Many of these theories take into account skin colour or dominance of Indo-Europeans. I would base my theory on the following assumptions.

1. The initial Indian society was matriarchal.
2. The fundamental of caste system is purity and pollution distinction.
3. There was indeed an Indo-Aryan migration.
4. These Indo-Aryans had a structured and well defined religion in their Indo-European language.

I have already discussed about three most influential migrations to India.
1. Africa->Middle-East->India (Tribals)
2.Middle-East->North-West Indian subcontinent and Southern Central Asia-> Whole India (Dravidians)
3. North-West Indian subcontinent and Southern Central Asia-> South-East Europe(Kurgan)->North-West India-> Whole India(Indo-Aryans or R1A Dravidians)

Later I have discussed about rise of patriarchical society in Kurgan lands.

Masculization of feminine concepts:
Previously, I discussed about dominance of Dravidian religious symbols in Hinduism and marginalization of original Indo-Aryan gods. My argument was it was brought about by dominant Dravidian priestly class among Brahmins.

If one observe other Indo-European societies, there were class systems but nothing akin to caste system based on purity and pollution. The division was based on labour but the requirement was extent of cleanliness in every aspect of life from the higher castes. It's a classic case of female domain of cleanliness getting perverted in the feminized men.

As we know Indo-Aryans were patriarchical. Also, I would expect that there was a gradual migration to India and not invasion. If it's invasion I find it difficult to see how their religion got marginalized. On the other hand, migration gives a proper picture. The patriarchical Indo-Aryans gave rise to a male Dravidian priestly class(or it must be in existence worshipping mostly goddesses), however, the society was matriarchal therefore even the male abstraction of the world was feminine. The resulting hierarchical system when Indo-Aryans and Dravidians merged was conceptually one sided. Dravidian. However, male appropriation of female psyche resulted in the perversion of the whole system.

Indeed, if you observe Brahmin society since the historical times it was mostly passive. It goes against the general expectation from haplogroup R1A people(aggressive and attacking like Pathans atleast after their liberation from Dravidian Hinduism and Buddhism). You can explain this character only from Dravidian angle.

To sum it up all, India's dominant culture, character and people has remained Dravidian throughout the history. Basically, all the religions of India, Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, are the abstraction of feminine character of Dravidian India.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Rise of Patriarchical Society

My only assumption for this argument is that human society was matriarchal in the begninning. I've already discussed about three migrations that left their mark on Indian population and how closely related were Dravidians and Indo-Aryans. For the sake of clarity and based on the earlier discussions, I'll be using the terminologies R1A Dravidians(Indo-Aryans), H-Dravidians, L-Dravidians, J-Dravidians and R-Dravidians.

Somewhere in North-West of Indian Subcontinent:
Few male cousins made a plan that would change the course of human history(exact period is unknown). Till then any human migration(or invasion) was undertaken by both men and women. As a result society remained matriarchical with mothers controlling the social and religious order. However, this migration of few closely related cousins(now we know as R1A-Dravidians) would change all that. First time in the history, a Homo-Sapien community left Indian subcontinent(the third homeland of Dravidians after Africa and Middle-East) without any females and moved to South-East Europe.

Now they are the masters of the society:
In the Kurgan lands these R1A-Dravidians took up the girls of Pre-Indo-European population. In the confusion of cultural conflicts, these R1A-Dravidian males ended up performing the religious duties. Now they were the one dictating terms for the social conducts. The taste of power in the community also motivated them to invent new gods in their mould.

The new patriarchical world order:
When the society was matriarchal the only driving reason behind any migration or invasion was lack of food. However, the male order changed all that. Now there were more migrations and invasions that is driven out of want for more land and more women. The greed was born. The new male order multiplied quickly. The societies under its attack either also became patriarchical or became extinct.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere:
NuSapiens feels transition from matriarchy to patriarchy was brought about by climate change. But I will stick to my position that it was due to few only male R1A-Dravidian migration to Europe from the sub-continent.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

First two Dravidian words : Amma and Ayya

Here I'm proposing that Amma and Ayya are the first two Dravidian words. I'm not sure what was the initial form of these words used by their ancestors in Africa. The day a child called its mother 'Amma' and father 'Ayya' the people somewhere in North-West of India became Dravidians.(see update 1)

Background of Indian population:
I have already mentioned there were three distinct male migrations to India based on three distinct strains of religious worship. The first were tribals. The second were Dravidians who were related to tribals during their years in Middle-East. The third were Indo-Aryans who were related to Dravidians during their years in Southern Central Asia(North-West India, Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan) and were also related to tribals during their years in Middle-East. All these males took up the girls of coastal migration to India killing all their men.

Ayya and Amma in South India:
Amma(mother) has retained her purity in South India all these years. However, Ayya has changed.
Ayya in Telugu: The rural Telugu people still address their father as Ayya. However, more common usage is for the elder and/or powerful.
Ayya in Tamil: Tamils have stopped addressing their fathers as Ayya. Now, it's only for elder and/or powerful.(see update 2)
Ayya in Kannada: In Kannada Ayya in some places has become Ajja which is an addressing term of ones 'grandfather'. As in Telugu and Tamil Ayya is an elder and/or powerful.
Ayya in Malayalam: Ayya has changed to Achha(n) in Malayalam which is an addressing term for father.
Except Tamil, all other major South Indian languages use Ayya to denote either father or grandfather. And it's obvious how it became a respectful term to address any elder and/or powerful.
North Indian Dravidians and Indo-Aryans don't use Ayya to denote either father or grandfather.

Indo-Aryans and Ayya:
Indo-Aryans once they moved from Southern Central Asia to South-Eastern Europe(Kurgan cultural centre)the term Ayya was modified into Arya. During their years in South-Eastern Europe the meaning also changed from father to noble(may be noble father too, 'Arya Putra' most plausibly meant noble father's son. When Darius boasted he's an Aryan, most plausibly it is 'I'm a noble father').

After spending few thousand years in South-Eastern Europe some of the Indo-Aryans migrated back to India. Though the religion that they had brought became a minor because of the dominance of Dravidian priestly class, they succeded in implanting their language in most part of India. However, the continuity with their Dravidian past was ensured in that word Arya, which is , after all, a derivative of 'Ayya'.

1. As Razib of Gene Expression commented 'Amma' might have had earlier origins.
2. Though common addressing term for father is 'Appa' in Tamil(as in Kannada), Ayya can also be used to address either father or grandfather. So all South Indian languages use 'Ayya' to denote either father or grandfather.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Origins of Indians

There are too many conflicting studies about the origins of Haplogroup R1A[1,2]. I'll use this opportunity to propose one more theory of Aryans and Dravidians.

Three distinct cultural migrations:
Hinduism has three distinct cultural influences.
1. Tribal nature worship
2. Dravidian* Shiva-Shakti (Symbols male-female reproductive organs)
3. Indo-Aryan Vaidik culture (Indra, Agni, Vayu, Mitra and so on)

Based on these and Haplogroup H, L and R1A studies I would propose there were three major migrations to Indians.
1. Africa-> Middle East -> India (Tribals)
2. Africa-> Middle East -> Central Asia -> India (Dravidians)
3. Africa-> Middle East -> Central Asia -> Kurgan -> India (Indo-Aryans)

Indo-Aryan Gods:
Indra and other gods of Indo-Aryans have too much similarities with other European pagan gods. Indra worshipping Indo-Aryans must have developed their religion before entering India.

The initial Vaidik works ridicule the natives of India as penis worshippers. So worship of Shiva and Shakti must be prevalent at that time(Not necessarily in those names). Now the question is
how Shiva and Shakti attained the highest status in Vaidik religion.

Dravidian Brahmins:
I think inclusion of Indian local deities into broader Vaidik religion may not be the work of Indo-Aryans. The priestly class of Dravidians creating a caste system along with priestly class
of Indo-Aryans might have included their deities to the large Indo-Aryan pantheon. Along the process they also created Brahma and Vishnu to complete a meaningful trinity with Shiva(Creator, preserver and destroyer).

The following would be the most likely candidates for Dravidian priestly class who became Brahmins later. Historically, these groups were identified with Shiva and Devi(Shakti) worship.

1. Saraswat Brahmins
2. Kashmiri Pundits (possibly a branch of Saraswat Brahmins)
3. Aradhyas (Telugu Brahmins)
4. Iyers (Tamil Brahmins)
5. Shivalli Brahmins(Tulu Brahmins)
6. Namboothiris(Malayalee Brahmins, a branch of Tulu Brahmins)

Though Havyaka Brahmins(a Kannada Brahmin caste) follow Shankara, I don't consider them
as Dravidian Brahmins since they differ a lot in many respects. But, Shivalli Brahmins eventhough mostly Maadhvas(Vaishnavites) are indeed Dravidian Brahmins since Shankara founder of Advaitism, was a Shaivite Namboothiri(but sought to merge Shaivism with other Vaidik worships), who inturn were actually a branch of Tulu Brahmins.

Iyers' Shaivism has nothing to do with Shankara. Most probably Advaitism brought other Indo-Aryan gods to a strong Shaiva region of Tamilnadu creating a Shaivite and Vaishnavite
divisions among Iyers.

However, now Hindus believe in all the gods. In all probability this was achieved by Dravidian priestly class and not by Indo-Aryans. Also, both these priestly classes together responsible for the creation and propagation of caste system.

*People inhabiting India before the arrival of Indo-Aryans. No relation with linguistic identities.

1. A discussion about origin of R1A at Genealogy-DNA mailing list.
2. A Genographic report about an Indian staffer at IBM. Interestingly, the official line of Genographic project was that R1A was originated in Europe around 10000 years ago. However, this report from the same project says something different.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My Genetic Journey - SNP tests

I have been informed that SNP tests are required to confirm the Haplogroups. And it will take another two-three weeks(Of course, if there is no problem with my sample). I'm expecting my Haplogroup to be L (M20) or H(M52, M69). I suppose three more weeks won't make much difference to my thousands of years old genetic journey. One of these days, I'm going to blog about historical(spiced up with enough myths or folk tales) journey of my caste people. But I don't think it spans more than 150 years.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A script for Konkani

The title of this blog is deceptive. Ofcourse, I’m going to talk about the controversy surrounding adoption of a script for Konkani in Karnataka. But most of the ramblings will be on my own confused linguistic identity.
Linguistic populations in Karnataka:
Unlike other South Indian states that have single linguistic population around 85-95%, Karnataka has a highly diverse population. According to 1991 census the language wise distribution of Karnataka is given below.
Kannada : 64.75%,Urdu (9.72%), Telugu (8.34%), Marathi (3.95%), Tamil (3.82%), Malayalam (1.69%), Tulu (3.38%), Konkani (1.78%), and Hindi (1.87%), Kodagu (0.25%). Present day Kannada population is around 5.2crores(52m).
Konkanis forming less than two percent of the population have made significant contribution to financial, educational and cultural landscape of Karnataka(Nothing great. Most of the migrated minorities excel in their adopted land. I suppose every region should have a majority migrated population and minority natives).
Not really Irish of Karnataka:
Konkanis have enriched Kannada language immensely. They were at the forefront of the literary scene since the dawn of ‘Hosagannada’ (New Kannada). In the past, literary figures like Panje Mangesha Raya, Manjeshwara Govinda Pai, Gulvadi Venkata Raya experimented with works in New Kannada. Among present day Konkani Kannada writers Girish Karnad stands out having received highest literary award ,Jnanapitha, given to Indian writers. Nevertheless, they also kept their distinct Konkani identity intact by keeping their language alive.
Native movement during globalization:
Konkani is the state language of Goa. Once I read that more than 50% of Konkani population lives in Karnataka. I do have the exact figures too. However, my figures put their percentage at 5% of Karnataka population. Census figures give a different picture. And I will go by census figures and according to it Konkani population in Karnataka and Goa might be roughly equal.
Around 12-15 years back, Konkanis in coastal Karnataka(where they are mostly concentrated) started Konkani awareness movement. After centuries of separated existence Hindu and Christian Konkanis came together for a common cause. Infact, it was Hindu Konkani awareness. Christian Konkanis both in Goa and in Karnataka had kept the language mainstream in their religious services.
The script:
Konkani was written in Roman script by Goan Konkani Christians for the last five centuries. Kannada script was used in Karnataka for the last 125 years. However, since Konkani was included in the eighth schedule of the constitution the script for Konkani has become very controversial. The Central government institution for Indian literary works recognizes Konkani written only in Nagari script( Sanskrit script, used most of the north-Indian languages including Hindi). The reason behind this decision might not be all that innocent and scientific(Nagari script suits Konkani better since Konkani is part of Indo-Aryan linguistic family).
Konkani in Schools:
The Konkani movement has succeeded in persuading Karnataka government to introduce Konkani as one of the languages in schools. And now the biggest question is script. Konkani Language academy conducted a survey. 88% of Konkani run schools and 65% of Konkani intellectuals favoured Kannada script. However, noted literary figure like Girish Karnad supported Nagari script on the basis that it’s an Indo-European language. No, the issue is not settled yet.
Why I’m talking about Konkani?
I’m not a Konkani. However, Konkani identity makes me defensive about my identity. I’m not cosmopolitan either. Frankly, I don’t know what it really means.
I was born to Malayali parents and brought up as a Kannadiga though officially I’m a Malayali and I don’t have any confusion or dilemma about my Kannada identity though basically I’m a malayali. To keep the matters in clear perspective , every Konkani, Tuluva in Karnataka also identify themselves with Kannadigas. However, there is one difference. While they speak Kannada outside, at home they speak their mother tongue. I never picked up my mother tongue and have made Kannada as one. Unlike Konkanis who migrated to Southern coastal Karnataka 500 years back, my family was always part of the region(since it doesn’t remember its history for more than one century). Though it was part of Karnataka, it borders Kerala, the land of Malayalam speakers.
O Kasaragod!
Unlike Europeans, Indians were never known to give importance to linguistic identity until they came in contact with them. However, my family didn’t lack the so called pride in one's linguistic identity. They were not detached from the mainstream. On the contrary they were one of the highly politically conscious Malayali families…and most of the Malayalis are…
Let’s go back to 1950s. My grandfather, a small time Congress party worker, was attending a pro-Karnataka meeting in Kasaragod that became part of Kerala after the formation of linguistic states in 1956. He was the only Malayali to attend that meeting. Before independence he was the president of Hindi Prachar Sabha, Kasaragod. It’s an organization founded primarily to promote Hindi among non-Hindi population in the name of unity and nationalism. To make the matters complicated, Kasaragod, a border region between Karnataka and Kerala, was culturally, at that point of time, part of Karnataka. The Kannadigas of Kasaragod are Tuluvas, Konkanis and a small group of Kannada Brahmins called Havyaks. And Havyaks speak a dialect of Kannada which is as intelligible to say a person from north Karnataka as Konkani.
However, my idealist grandfather ,a Malayali with a nationalist outlook, had become a Kannada nationalist which he felt was the right way for an Indian nationalist since Kasaragod was actually part of Karnataka. Not all Malayalis are Malayali chauvinists. Given a beautiful idea they can become chauvinists for other languages too. My grandfather wasn’t the only person who became Kannada nationalist. Many of my other relatives were also staunch Kannadigas. However, pro-Kerala Malayalis were politically stronger than pro-Karnataka Malayalis. Kasaragod was merged with Kerala. My grandfather never accepted being part of Kerala and sent my father to Karnataka.
My mother(his daughter-in-law) told me he discouraged my parents talking to us children in Malayalam when we were small. By this time my father had found a job in Karnataka so at home and outside the environment became Kannada. As I grew up as a Kannadiga and wondered why I spoke Kannada, my mother would talk about my grandfather’s instructions. I thought it was really romantic. I became a Kannada chauvinist. However, my Kannada chauvinism was short stinted as I moved from Kannada medium to English medium after ten years of schooling and found myself totally ignorant of realities of the world like why China is still behind India in IT. I realized the irrelevance of the language and pride in one's language. No, I’m not talking materialistically. Perhaps my disillusionment with Kannada might not have been so severe had I studied in English medium. Well, that’s the whole point. You are naturally a Kannada chauvinist if you think Kannada is the English of the world. It’s a na├»ve, non-materialist world view but I did think it’s not only idealist but rationalist too. In my opinion, it was the best way to integrate with local population if you are an immigrant. However, Konkanis have shown losing one's mother tongue is not all that necessary to integrate with a native population.
I don’t miss Malayalam as I have seen language is only a tool(unless imposed). And I still care for Kannada. I feel Konkani should adopt Kannada script. However, I think Nagari might suit better but considering the fact that Roman script has been used for the last five centuries it might be having a better claim. Anyway, Konkanis can put the matter in clear perspective unlike my grandfather. Nevertheless, I’m still fond of my late Malayali grandfather’s Kannada nationalism.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

My Genetic Journey

It's been six weeks now. My results are not up. I suspect there is some problem with my DNA sample. Couple of weeks back, 'quality control' was okayed. But the very week the check mark was removed. Did they find Neanderthal genes and scrtaching their head in disbelief?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Dravidians and Anglo-Saxons

No, there are no genetic similarities found between these two populations. Here I am going to compare the Dravidian movement with Anglo-Saxons’ rebellion against the ruling Anglo-Normans to herald an egalitarian English society during middle ages.

Divisions in the society:

The following is an account given by few historians but I'm not sure of its objectiveness. After capturing England, Normans put in place a hierarchical society in the country with themselves as the ruling elites. As a result, the Anglo-Saxons’ position in the society degraded and many relegated to pitiful conditions. This gave rise to a nostalgic pride in the classless Anglo-Saxon past culminating in the rebellion against their Norman rulers (or Anglo-Normans since by this time they have already taken up language and culture of Anglo-Saxons).

The Dravidian movement maintained that they Dravidians were casteless society until the arrival of Brahmins. The movement was solely against Brahmins (who also had become Dravidians linguistically and culturally). Isn’t it striking that Dravidians could be equated to Anglo-Saxons and Brahmins to Anglo-Normans? Anglo-Saxons might have been classless but not so when it comes to Dravidians.

Dravidian classes and castes:

1. Dalits:

Manu(author of Manusmriti) had declared that all Dravidians were Shudras. Understandably, Brahmins divided the society into pure-shudras and lowest shudras(not really ‘untouchables’) with minuscule population passing themselves as Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. However, how did they get the people to classify as ‘Asprishyas’? It shows though Dravidian society was casteless, it was obviously class ridden. A sizeable number of Dalits have caste names like Adi[1] Dravida, Adi Karnataka and Adi Andhra, implying that they might be the first inhabitants of South India before the arrival of Dravidians who form the Shudra castes. So it’s clear that just as Normans drove some of Anglo-Saxons to minimal conditions, the shudra Dravidians relegated the early Dravidians to the lowest social rank.

2. Right hand and left hand castes:

It is not clear whether these divisions existed in the Dravidian society prior to the entry of Brahmins or after them. This division had no affiliation to the caste divisions. People belonging to the same caste might be part of either of these two. However, I don’t think this division has anything to do with ‘right hand path’(Dakshinachara) and ‘left hand path’(Vamachara) practices found in Vaidik and Buddhist religions. The religious practices of right hand caste and left hand caste do not show any differences. I belong to a left hand caste and I have not seen or heard from elders, the typical Vamachara practices. But the main point here is these two groups used to fight till 19th century. And it’s still a big mystery why ever they fought? Also, as far as I know, only Tamil and Malayalee societies were divided along those lines. Anyway, it’s still a unique feature of Dravidian society though obsolete nowadays.

Not so egalitarian movement:

If you consider these inherent class structures in the Dravidian society even without Brahmins, this movement was never going to be anything remotely revolutionary. It only gave hegemony back to shudra Dravidians who anyway held sway before the arrival of Brahmins and that continued during Sanskritization albeit without any respect to go with their position.

Why only in Tamilnadu?

One of the founding fathers of this movement was a malayalee, T.M. Nair[2]. However, this movement was successful only in Tamilnadu and never gained any momentum in other Dravidian states. Possible explanations could be,

1. There was no non-brahmin intelligentsia in these states. Tamil Brahmin and non-brahmin Vaishnavites and Shaivites did fight for religious supremacy through the centuries.

2. The Buddhist and Jain Dravidian intelligentsia in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala either got absorbed in the Brahmanical religion or became extinct as it lost political patronization(which generally favoured Brahmins).

3. The Shaivites of Karnataka had their own independent religious movement (Veerashaiva). So they were not really bothered about Brahmins to identify themselves with Dravidian movement.

4. Even though Dravidians in other states did produce intellectuals, the shudra Dravidians had gained prominence in their respective states within few decades of independence. And there was no strong reason to fight against Brahmins.

Not surprisingly, Dalits in Tamilnadu were hardly emancipated with this movement. In some cases, Dalit parties and Dravidian parties ended up in opposite camps. And it must be noted that atrocities against Dalits were more widespread in Tamilnadu than in any other Dravidian states.

In a nutshell, Dravidian movement was as non-dalit as it was anti-brahmin. The Dravidian society even without Brahmins was never classless. So the movement was never a movement of enlightened.

1. Adi, first in Sanskrit

2. Nairs in Kerala were the dominant feudal caste.

1. Caste and Race in India by G.S. Ghurye

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Charvaka (Carvaka, Chaarvaaka)

Charvakism was an Indian school of thought which perhaps the only Indian philosophy that was materialistic in nature. However, their real influence on Indian social life was absolutely nothing. Perhaps, a wrong step in the evolution of civilized Indian society.

The basic features:
Via Amma's Column(Jyothsna Kamat's Blog) at Kamat's Potpourri

* God is non-existent.
* There is no pre-existence or after-life.
* There is no such thing as salvation (moksha); death itself is salvation.
* Happiness is the only goal of life.
* The wise should seek happiness with productive work.
* Pursuit of music, eroticism, medicines etc., add comfort to life.
* Distinction of class and caste are humbug.
* The term "chastity for women" is rubbish (men and women are alike as far as chastity is concerned).

It is said that, Charvakas were attacked for the fourth point. What about other points? Not much is said about that except they were called 'vitandavaadi's(one who indulge in jugglery of words). Madhvaacharya said that it was very difficult to refute their arguments. At that time India was a society where many schools of thoughts supposed to have lost out to Vaidiks in debates. And Charvakism was supposed to be undebatable! So even with such strong foundations why couldn't they attract the great majority of intelligent people of that period to its fold?

The fringe philosophers:
The other name for Charvakism is Lokayata. Some people define it as 'philosophy of common people'. But I would go with the other definition that is 'philosophy of worldly'. Since I am sceptical about the number of common people among its followers I won't go with the former definition. In my opinion, there were only few philosophers at any point of time subscribing to this school of thought. And they didn't have any position in the society.

One striking feature of Charvakism was its relentless opposition to Brahmins and its call for rebellion against authority. These two things possibly demonstrate their position outside the public sphere of influence. Also, since none of the Indian schools of thought or the establishment found it necessary to open educational institutions for the common people, it was impossible for Charvakas to attract the vast majority of the population which was too superstitious, barbaric and illiterate to accept their philosophy.

So it leaves us with brilliant people of that era. Though I have talked about tendency of Indians to follow whatever their ancestors had said without any question, this kind of closed mindset baffles me. Was Charvakas’ strong stand on happiness too distasteful for the ascetic minded Indians? Extremely hard to believe. Were Charvakas the people outside the Aryan (this includes Vaidiks, Jains and Buddhists) society? Were they descendents of Greeks(who had developed such kind of materialist philosophy by that time) who stayed back in India. Hard to say since they were not called as Mlechchas, Yavanas, Panchamas etc. in any of the Vaidik literature. Or were they really Indus Valley people as claimed in the Wikipedia article on Charvakas? At this point this claim is too preposterous considering the number of questions it would raise. Not least of them is the question of Dravidians.

Charvakism and the concept of Maya:
Ironically, whatever we know about Charvakas is because of their arch rivals’, Vaidik, Buddhist and Jain, literature. The philosophers belonging to these schools of thought had written about the works of Charvakas sometimes with a neutral angle or sometimes with an intention of refutation. So whatever might be their intention they never really overlooked that philosophy, especially Brahmins.

Brahmins, being dominant, were always at the receiving end of Charvakas’ arguments. However, they were never closed minded to whatever Charvakas said. I suspect they might have used at least one observation of Charvakas to complete and be comfortable with their theory of Maya (illusion)

Charvakas refused the role of inference and accepted only direct perception to prove the truth. This is more in line with modern Western philosophy of refuting ‘divine influence’. Whereas West went on to develop empiricism which gave a complete role for observation and experimentation in developing theories for the world’s mysteries, Charvakism failed to give a proper direction for its philosophy.

After refusing the role of inference, the later philosophers went on to reject the role of perception in finding the truth! In a sense, they said truth can’t be understood either by inference or by perception.

The Vaidik school of thought that had become stagnant because of its total devotion to its founding fathers’ words found a new proof in Charvakas’ philosophy to further their own theory of world(confusion about the world would be more appropriate). As claimed by Charvakas, if truth about the world can’t be found either by inference or perception then where was the proof that truth existed at all. It was only Maya (illusion). This theory became a dominant and salient feature of Brahmanical religion after Shankara’s time. I am sure the Charvaka philosopher who rejected the role of direct perception must be Shankara’s antecedent.

Charvakism is not a great loss:
Indian society could have been more civilized had it embraced at least few points of Charvakism,viz., No caste, Equality of sexes. However, considering it as a philosophy which would have heralded a scientific thinking in line with Greek philosophies which put the foundations for the modern Western philosophy would be far fetched. As I have discussed, they failed to give the right direction for their philosophy. However, they were the ones who came very close in achieving it.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Hindu Gods

The concept of god would look very complex in Hinduism. People would argue that Hinduism accepts both idol and symbol worship; Hinduism is actually a monotheistic religion(or way of life). But the majority Hindus are generally idol worshippers and pantheists. I wonder whether Shankara's 'atma', 'paramatma' doctrine has any relevance in Hinduism practiced by the general public. But one aspect of Hinduism that depressed me over the years is that the belief is sustained by the fear not by the devotion.

Fear and religions:
Most of the religions cater to fears of after life. Every religion tries to instill a fear of hell into its adherents. Here the God will punish the wanderers after their death. But Hinduism differs in this case. Just like the religion the gods are also unique in Hinduism. Actually, Hindus have two types of powers. Deva(god) and Daiva(Spirit). And these together will always punish their believers for doing something right, moral and totally harmless unless they are pleased.
Generally the spirits are simply spoilsports in everything. You have to always keep them in good humour. By the way, who are these spirits? They are Lord Shiva's Ganas(some kind of army set). Ofcourse, they got that place because of the Vaidiks efforts to assimilate all the cults into a single Brahmanical religion.

God as a nasty mafia don:
As I said before, the uniqueness about hindu gods and spirits is that they will give you all the troubles even if you are doing something right, moral and totally harmless unless you please them. Ofcourse, if the gods and spirits are pleased then you can indulge in all kinds of activities, good or bad notwithstanding, they will protect you.
That's not all. Let's say, you don't believe in any of these shantis, poojas and yaagas(hindu rituals). They(gods and spirits) don't punish only you for that. They might target your close relatives for your sins. So you don't have any respite from them. Unless your close relatives are also rational like you, the fear that fills your surroundings will be unbearable.

Everybody is equal before hindu gods:
I have to admit this aspect frustrates me all the time. I am an atheist. But I would like to oppose Hinduism for the only reason that it supports the concept of god or some supreme power. I won't be having any problems with its moral teachings and its stress on disciplined lifestyle. But Hinduism is highly perverted. It doesn't make any difference between a person into corrupt practices and a straight person. I find it really disgusting when the offerings from all sorts of people to Tirupati's temple is accepted without any reservations. I would expect some official declaration from Hindu religious heads to the effect that the god accepts gratitude only from the straight persons. I am sure all the sins must have been listed in the scriptures. Atleast let the simple have some sort of consolation that their after life will be better than those who could afford to offer greater riches accumulated from wrong means. Otherwise, it's an outright humiliation for the straight, simple believers.

Let life be simple for simple people:
The greatest favour that Hinduism can do for the simple people is to offer them a life without fear. Most commonly, they all believe in god and a religion based solely on devotion and disciplined lifestyle will be just perfect for them. I am not sure whether Bhakti(Devotion) movement stressed on disciplined lifestyle. But I don't see Bhakti movement's influence in South India.

Caste and Hinduism:
I no longer hold Hinduism responsible for the Caste system. I consider it more a racial and class problem. Hinduism as a way of life can do as good or bad to lowest castes as it would do to the highest castes. The rise of Nadars(Tamil Nadu) and Tiyyas(Ezhavas, Kerala) using Hinduism without depending upon Brahmins has convinced me that if not better but it could be as good as Christianity or Islam in imparting a disciplined lifestyle.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Our ancestors were the smartest...

I have discussed about religions and scientific mindset. There I have talked about Christian Europeans questioning their religion and the knowledge on which it was based. The people who ventured into this prohibited land of infinite knowledge, not infrequently, were the men of the same religion. A really fascinating aspect of western civilization.

If we observe the development of Indian philosophy, an unwritten code was that the Vedas, Upanishats can not be questioned. There could be only interpretations of these early works. Birth and Nirvana of the knowledge was complete in those works. In Shankara’s own words, these early scripts contain everything that a person has to know and they can’t be questioned. Ofcourse, there were people who didn’t accept the Vedas. But these Nastiks were not part of Astik schools of thought. Interaction between these two groups was just an interaction between two different religions with both staunchly believing what their ancestors had told them.

Europeans didn’t think so. There were so many religious men, who fervently believed in the Christian god but not the words in the Books about him or his deeds. To their inquisitive mind the knowledge of the books looked inadequate and flawed. They went to the nature with their observations and experimentations and heralded a new era of secular scientific knowledge.

What was wrong with Indians? Physical threat by the uncompromising society held them back? Europe was merciless in this regard. Or Indians of the middle ages were really dumb in comparison with their ancestors?

It was no wonder that Europeans developed theory of Evolution. For the people who thought they were mentally more evolved than their ancestors it was natural to come up something like evolution. But Indians were devolved people, in their opinion, from human beings to animals. They continued to think so.

Update 21-Mar-2005:

A coincidence. I came across this book on Human devolution via this blog. There are so many people even among Europeans who still think our ancestors were the smartest. Ofcourse the smartest among these people have come up with Intelligent Design concept to uphold the greatness of their biblical ancestors.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Why does fate exist?

If something goes wrong or if something does not turn out as expected, a typical Indian tendency is to ascribe those situations to ‘fate’. While ‘destiny’ is sometimes used as a counterpart to ‘fate’; in Kannada only one word describes the cause for the good and bad things, ‘vidhi’, which could be translated as ‘fate’.

People generally overlook numerous instances of things going right or otherwise but base their opinions on few incidents. However, these are the situations that matter them a lot. Though destiny does not matter much since the superstitions it develops do not necessarily harm the person or the society. But fate can have negative impact on person’s psyche, confidence and motivation. The superstitions that the person develops to get over the bad luck can be detrimental to him or the society. A question of interest would be ‘why does fate strike a person?’

A surest answer would be person expects something in a situation with too many ‘random experiments’. Let’s consider a situation.

Everyday, you take an auto to your office. Let us say you catch an auto at 10:30 in the morning. Here, the incidence we are expecting is auto’s availability at 10:30. Since autos do not have any obligation to arrive in front your gate at 10:30, its availability is a random experiment. I will call this as an ‘external random variable’. Now we have to determine the probability of the availability of the auto. It is possible that out of 10 days you have caught the auto on 7 days. A probability of 0.7. Since majority of the times you have found an auto, a common misconception of its availability will develop in your mind. Now let us consider that ‘emergency situation’. You have to find an auto at sharp 10:30 so that you can reach somewhere in time.

A common person, even with a misconception of 0.7 probability as 100% availability, wouldn’t have fallen for a concept like ‘fate’ if atleast 70% of his ‘emergency situations’ have occurred as expected. A rarity. What is wrong? Simple. He has overlooked one more random variable, emergency situation itself. I will call this as an ‘internal random variable’. A probability 0.7 has to be divided between normal situation and emergency situation. Let’s consider you have emergency situation once in five days. A probability of 0.2. So, what is the chance of you catching an auto in an emergency situation? I will call it as probability of destiny(Pdestiny) and is equal to 0.7 * 0.2 = 0.14. In other words, you have only 14% chances of catching an auto in an emergency situation. This is the case in most of the human expectations. Fate will always triumph.

The only way to get rid of this spell of fate is to make sure you have as few ‘external random variables’, that you can’t control, as possible in your life. Also increase the probability of your ‘internal random variables’. An easy example would be trying to do something. One or two attempts will result in very low probability. So number of attempts must be many. Of course, you can always accept the fact that your probability of success is very limited.

corruption, intelligence and hardwork

The question why people are corrupt is something can't be easily answered. The gene for corruption is yet to be identified. But as we understand human nature it is accepted that corruption is a natural trait and being non-corrupt might suggest a defective gene. A fine analogy could be smoking. Though the individual benefits of smoking and corruption can not be correlated, their overall effect on the society is generally negative.
As this article suggests, non-smokers possess a defective gene which prohibits them from smoking or controls the habit of smokers. This could be true for non-corrupt people. I have drawn a chart that tries to classify corrupts and non-corrupts based on their intelligence and attitude towards work. This attitude is generally a function of motivation, drive and passion.

Where, NC -> Not Corrupt
LC -> Less Corrupt
C -> Corrupt
NO -> No Opportunity for being corrupt

Friday, February 25, 2005

Indian Military -a thought

All over the world, countries are revamping their military setup in line with the new realities of war. In the western civilization military might and technological developement has a symbiotic relationship. This was the case with muslim world too.
In India(as a cultural entity), the situation was different from the beginning. The early Buddhist and Jain (elite religions during that period and possibly confined to ruling class and rich traders) kings gave more consideration to non-violence, non-alcoholism and religious piety than military and war. So majority of these kingdoms were easily destroyed by the caste kings and few of them (Kashmir and Gandhara(southern Afghanistan)) were routed by the foreign armies. Later the caste kingdoms were handicapped by the division of society along men of knowledge, men of war and men of skills. The technical development required all these people working on equal footing, with equal education. Though bravery was never lacking all the caste kings were soundly beaten by the Muslim and European armies with better technical skills and individual brilliance. During British conquest even the Indian Muslim kings lacked the technical superiority. However, it was not a totally hopeless situation with them. Tipu Sultan was supposed to have employed world's first missiles against the British.
Modern day India(after independence) is still struggling with these handicaps. Though technically, it has lost only one war against China, the wars it has won against Pakistan replete with too many strategic blunders. Ofcourse, then there is LTTE. The war against China was a model of total failure in all the departments. The US can afford to lose a war in far Vietnam but not India in its own soil, with its present boundaries encircling only two-thirds of its cultural and ethnic boundaries. Then there is a talk of brilliant men not joining the military. I wonder whether it makes any difference in Indian context. Our highly educated cricketers were hardly superior cricketing brains in the real world.
Quest should be for instilling a mind of a canny military strategist within our great brains. I would expect Indian establishment encouraging top brains from the technical universities or field to enroll for voluntary military training during their leisure. These men should be given incentives to combat as mercenaries in our internal struggle. A new command should be constituted especially for these men( and women). And it is also very important to allow private sector and universities to be part of defense research and development. This is already in place in the US. I think government is taking steps in this direction.
I think we have to experiment with this for atleast one generation ( 40 years) to see if it springs up great military minds and inventors. Whatever we do in this direction will never be a disaster in the scale of our past ones.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Religions and scientific mindset

The religious mindset and the scientific mindset make a very intriguing pair. The Baconian school of philosophy would have us believe that scientists were expected to be atheists. How could an empiricist possibly believe a ‘divine cause’? But was it the case with all our scientists?

Here, I have tried to analyse how Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are living with scientific mindset. The people of interest are the ones who have been identified with these religions stereotypically. Therefore, I would be discussing about Christian Europeans, Hindu Indians and Muslim Arabs.


Christian church had a very troubled relationship with scientists. Its problems were compounded by the fact that people who questioned and falsified the Christian truths and solutions were its own people. From the beginning of the renaissance it had to compete with scientific developments that have since then taken away most of its folk in the Christian heartland of Europe. Now most of the European churches have very low attendance to its services. Christianity is surviving because it has become a cultural identity there. But not everything is lost for the religious Christianity.

In the United States of America, it’s still fighting against scientific theories that directly question its existence. We are now finding “Intelligent Design” (ID) theorists trying to push their arguments into school curriculum and calling the Darwinian Evolutionary theory flawed.

At the one end church proudly and may be with some justification claimed that Christian life style paved the way for the glorious industrial and scientific development in Europe, ironically, on the other hand, it had to fight for its own existence as a spiritual guide of the masses. Still it grew to be the most dominant religion around the world within few decades because of those developments. It’s still strong among the converted people without any indigenous scientific development. This is generally the case with rest of the world. So the interesting thing would be how these converted people, scientists and deeply religious among them, handle the anomalies which European Christians fought and still fighting over? Well, it’s beyond the scope of my discussions.

Hinduism and Islam:

I thought it would take much of time and space while discussing about Indians and Arabs. Sadly, as I wrote through the passages about Christianity, I found I could easily finish off this discussion about Hinduism and Islam within few sentences as there were no conflicts between religion and scientific developement in these societies.

The western influence is the direct cause of any scientific development and industrial revolution in these countries. This scientific development has never really threatened the most advanced form of religious philosophies in these countries. However, the most barbaric forms of religious practices have vanished or gradually vanishing. But this can’t be attributed to the development of scientific mindset when in most of the cases, reformation of the religions was the major drive in eradicating these practices.

But, has the scientists of these countries directly ever challenged and proved that major religious philosophies were flawed? Unfortunately, the Baconian scientists in these countries were hardly bothered about these philosophies. In India, the religious institutions were hardly threatening. In Arab countries, they were hardly sparing. In both these regions religious mindset and scientific mindset were happy to be separated and co-exist. The scientists, even if inclined to challenge, were further hampered by the fact that the theories that they were trying disprove were developed by their own ancestors and the theories that they were supporting in its place were developed by the people of different religious and ethnic background. This is a very subtle and a powerful dampener. The most brilliant people of these countries have become victims of their identities.

Now, we find both in India and in Arab countries religions are thriving without any serious threat to their foundations. The failure to produce the philosophers in the mould of Francis Bacon to put an end to the religious solutions (corresponding to Islamic and Hindu philosophies) has left these countries with Physicists that believe in astrology, biologists that believe in the Supreme Being.

Now, that puts us an interesting question whether there were no western scientists with beliefs. Newton was supposed to be a believer. But his god was supposed to be more sophisticated than as explained by the existing religions. Anyway, he lived before Darwin. What about others? I really don’t have the percentage statistics of atheist scientists and believer scientists in the western world.

The quest of 'higher' god drove many religious people in Europe to doubt the biblical knowledge. But will Hindus and Muslims ever have that feeling of inadequacy with their religious beliefs?

Perhaps the cultural renaissance in India and Arab countries need serious threat to the existing beliefs. I consider that path taken by the European society after medieval ages is the right one(if not perfect, though I don't know the criteria for that) from evolutionaly point of view. Any alternatives at any point of time in the history doesn't seem to be viable and worth emulating.

This conclusion might imply that Hindus and Muslims in western countries have better chances of producing great minds. Nevertheless, it also depends upon the degree of assimilation of these populations in those adopted countries.