Saturday, November 22, 2008

Egyptian Introgression?

Zeitgeist
I came across this video at "Atheism in India" forum at Orkut. The priest centric Hinduism and the development of early Greek society(Y-Haplogroup J2a), both, the long time readers of this blog might be aware that I have attributed to West Asia. Traditional wisdom ascribe them to Indo-European nomads. My belief is that most likely IEs consulted their Wise Women and Medicinal Men like most of the Shaman societies in Steppe.

To further the previous argument, we know priests were a powerful community in both West Asia and Egyptian society. Even today their society is controlled by priests. However, in European lands priesthood never appeared until Christianity. Also, it was overthrown in many societies after few centuries.

There is a Malayalam story- I have mentioned that before- of a Brahmin husband and Paria(formerly untouchable) wife whose union produced 12 children. Well, that number again alludes to astrology. I suppose many anthropologists found that story as socially very revealing about the development of caste system in Kerala. I just wonder anything IE is left in Indian traditions. I hope there would be similar studies on Indian mythology/mythical heroes and astrology.

I think Manu recreating human race with the help of a fish is very revealing. That appears to be allusion to PISCES constellation.

Okay.

In my excitement I failed to check the facts initially. Then looked up at Wikipedia.
Criticism

It does appear to have generalized few things (eg. Krishna). However, the idea that astrological symbols have something to do with many myths, appeals me. In fact, Hindutvites typical attempt to find the exact dates of Mahabharata and Ramayana based on Astrology should be scrutinized from this background.

Regarding Krishna, I have argued about Visnu's(also known as Hari) growth from a minor solar deity to a main god shows influence of West Asia where the Sun god had become supreme over time.

At least, population genetics does appear to show the reason for West Asian/Egyptian deities/cultural aspects(purity-impurity) in Hinduism. When there are so many similarities then correlative thought( I don't know what it means just suppose another academic term for convergent evolution) can't be applied.

I of course just wonder whether it is believable that many scholars would sit together and create a great body of literature due to political backing. How about the Sangam literature? If it is the case then it is indeed an admirable feat. A greater hope for mankind than the true occurrences of these events.

9 comments:

milieu said...

Watched the movie and in general, I think it is as bad as the thing it purports to fight. You cannot fight what you think are lies by telling lies of the opposite kind.

There is a Malayalam story- I have mentioned that before- of a Brahmin husband and Paria(formerly untouchable) wife whose union produced 12 children. Well, that number again alludes to astrology. I suppose many anthropologists found that story as socially very revealing about the development of caste system in Kerala. I just wonder anything IE is left in Indian traditions. I hope there would be similar studies on Indian mythology/mythical heroes and astrology.

I would caution against too much reading into myths as its too tempting to make up an explanation with half-knowledge that we have now. We do not know exactly what conditions produced these myths and may never know. Ofcourse, if those explanations can be proved by overwhelming circumstantial evidence then thats fine.

At least, population genetics does appear to show the reason for West Asian/Egyptian deities/cultural aspects(purity-impurity) in Hinduism. When there are so many similarities then correlative thought( I don't know what it means just suppose another academic term for convergent evolution) can't be applied.

Why do people argue only for introgression from W.Asia to India and not the other way round. Ancient Indian history is still such a mystery. We do not even know what happened to the Indus Valley Civilization yet!

I think by correlative thought, they mean ideas which seem to appear simultaneously and originally in diverse and disjoint culture. Things such as religion etc. Some speculate that this might be due to the way our brains are wired. We might just not be able to avoid thinking those ideas.

Maju said...

I could not watch the video fully, because as I watched it I realized that along some truths it also included many inaccuracies. For example, Dyonisos was never crucified nor dead and resurrected. He managed, in the legend, to resurrect his mortal mother, Semele and therefore was robably associated, along with Demeter (who managed to get her daughter Persephone partly resurrected as well) with the hopeful myth of ressurrection after death in one form or another, a myth or pattern of myths that was certainly hijacked by Christianism.

The film appear to hit some nails, like the quite obvious connection between the 12 apostles and the 12 zodiacal signs (emphasized by the traditional representation of the 4 evangelists as the four fixed zodiacal signs) but he seems to include way too many things that are not accurate, what really insults intelligence.

However, the idea that astrological symbols have something to do with many myths, appeals me.

Certainly. And it makes sense. Nevertheless we should not forget that there may have been different astrological traditions now lost (for example Etruscans apear to have divided the sky in 16 and not 12 signs, or ancient Greeks, while using the "modern" 12 sign/month zodiac also used an 8 houses system, very different from the 12 house system used by western astrologers since the late Roman Empire).

While dividing the sky in 4 "seasonal" sectors is natural (astronomically speaking at least), dividing them in two, three or four signs is arbitrary and may well be based in the Sumerian tendency to divide the circle in multiples or fractions of 60 (tradition that persists in the way we measure angles nowadays, not decimal certainly).

At least, population genetics does appear to show the reason for West Asian/Egyptian deities/cultural aspects(purity-impurity) in Hinduism. When there are so many similarities then correlative thought( I don't know what it means just suppose another academic term for convergent evolution) can't be applied.

I don't know if there is any Egypt-India connection of sorts (Egyptians also considered cows "holy" but that may be just a sanction of an economical need: cows were more valuable for their milk and manure, as well as calves, than their dead flesh could be). I would rather think of common origin patterns sprung from West Asia maybe (Sumer? Other early Neolithic areas such as the pre-Semitic Levant?) and spread/persisted in different regions, while tending to vanish in their original area.

...

Another note:

Though most likely they consulted their Wise Women and Medicinal Men like most of the Shaman societies in Steppe.

Indeuropeans do not appear as a "Sahmanic" culture. That rather seems to belong to other peoples of Siberia or the Eastern steppes. If you look at the shared IE mythology, it's more one of fighter gods. I own a book that compares Basque and Indoeuropean mythology and the author (I. Hartsuaga) claims that Indoeuropean religion, unlike Basque, encourages victory over anything else (solidarity, justice, ecology...). IE gods are not gods of nature but personal gods mainly, gods that refelect the idealized personalities of the IE patriarchs and warriors.

Manjunat said...

Why do people argue only for introgression from W.Asia to India and not the other way round. Ancient Indian history is still such a mystery. We do not even know what happened to the Indus Valley Civilization yet!

By archaeology: Sumerian ,Egyptian civilizations predate Indus valley civilization.

By population genetics: Indian specific mtDNA (M) and Y-chromosome (H) distribution end abruptly in present day Pakistan. Few occurrences in Iran and Arabian peninsula - regions known to have had traded with Indus valley...again mostly in port cities and not in interior land - And do not show the kind of distribution that West Asian specific Y-chromosome (J2a) and mtDNA (may be U2e, W, N1a) have in India.

I think these facts weigh in favour of West Asia.

Though I must say, culture spreading from Indus valley is not as absurd as it is being spread from nomadic tribes of Central Asia/Eastern Europe. Language yes; culture no.

Manjunat said...

I realized that along some truths it also included many inaccuracies.
Since my knowledge of is almost nil (or superficial), I was initially taken in by that video. Of course, I became bit suspicious because they added Krishna and I never knew about them. So I agree with you when you say,
what really insults intelligence.

the Sumerian tendency to divide the circle in multiples or fractions of 60 (tradition that persists in the way we measure angles nowadays, not decimal certainly).
That could be observed in Indian astrology too.

I would rather think of common origin patterns sprung from West Asia maybe (Sumer? Other early Neolithic areas such as the pre-Semitic Levant?) and spread/persisted in different regions, while tending to vanish in their original area.

I too think it should be Sumerian. But I think major impetus can be from Egypt.

Indeuropeans do not appear as a "Sahmanic" culture.
My preliminary reading of IE mythology (NOrse to be specific) does appear to be Shamanic.

From the Voluspo text:
Othin, chief of the gods, always conscious of impending disaster and eager for knowledge, calls on a certain "Volva," or wise-woman, presumably bidding her rise from the grave. She first tells him of the past, of the creation of the world, the beginning of years

I don't know any wise-women in Vedic literature. There is one ,Gargi. But she appears to be rather a scholar than know-it-all wise-woman. These prophesysing wise-women are found in illiterate Shamanic culture of South India(Koravanji).

Maju said...

My preliminary reading of IE mythology (NOrse to be specific) does appear to be Shamanic.

What is what you see as "Shamanic" in that myth? A witch or norna? That's not specifically shamanic IMO and that would be all anyhow.

All the rest is about killing giants and serpents, simbols of the rivals of the IEs, all soooo typically IE (and I would also say not really "shamanic" at all).

Anyhow Nordic mythology is just one part of the puzzle (not necesarily more genuine than the rest): I get the same level of info from Greek or Vedic mythology, for example, and specially from comparing them. All them are very similar in the big lines of "heroic" gods (representing IEs) fighting against "evil" monsters and defeating them (representing their enemies).

Maju said...

Addendum:

I don't know any wise-women in Vedic literature. There is one ,Gargi

. But she appears to be rather a scholar than know-it-all wise-woman. These prophesysing wise-women are found in illiterate Shamanic culture of South India(Koravanji).


But is that real Shamanism, strictly speaking, as in Siberian, Mongol or Tibetan cultures? Do shamas "become" animals? Or is it just a reminder of the ancient widespread role of wise women (witches and midwifes) everywhere? Greek mythology also has a role for magic women even above the gods (and these Greek Norms who weave destiny are the same as Nordic Nornas obviously). If such myth is lacking in the Eastern branch of Indoeuropean mythology it may be because it is not genuinely pan-IE but just Western IE (a Danubian substrate influence?).

Anyhow it is just "a detail" of the mythology that may have been lost in other groups easily. Btw, I'm not aware of similar figures in Celtic or Latin mythologies, though the latter is terribly influenced by the Greek one and what appears as genuinely Latin is something more like spiritism: the belief in almost infinite minor spirits, seldom animal ones, that pervade reality. Roman "spiritism" reminds me somewhat of taoism if anything and does not seem specifically IE (though their pantheon, very much Hellenized, is).

Women oracles are also known in ancient Greece, in West Africa and probably in other places I do not recall. High role of women in religion and magic was once widespread and does not seem a particularly IE (but also not specifically Shamanic) trait.

Manjunat said...

I need to read Norse mythology more thoroughly. First of all, I don't whether it can be mapped Vedic literature 1:1. For example, broadly speaking, Vedas are;

- Hymns in praise of gods.
- gods are also heroes who vanquish demons, beasts etc...
- gods help humans in the battles

But certainly, no place for wise woman at any stage. Wise woman brings 'spirit' phenomenon. But I don't know what the witches worship. Vedas are entirely deity worship.

milieu said...

For example, broadly speaking, Vedas are;

- Hymns in praise of gods.
- gods are also heroes who vanquish demons, beasts etc...
- gods help humans in the battles


I think that is a popular but rather simplistic understanding of vedas.
I am no Hindu revivalist but I am stunned at the kind of metaphysics that is spoken about in the little bit of Vedas that I have come to know thru english translations.
My interpretation is: Vedas are/were a collection of what was considered the most important knowledge amongst the elites of the vedic age. They are diverse and some are rather profound speculations on the origin of life and universe. But the beauty here is that modern physics, after tremendous progress in mathematics etc, is now finding/is being forced to think similar thoughts.
Eg. http://www.salon.com/env/atoms_eden/2008/11/19/stuart_kauffman/

Its ofcourse not a new observation. Eminent western scientists like Oppenheimer etc have said it before.


Vedas are entirely deity worship.
I would say that this is a bit hasty conclusion. For firstly Vedas are a composite and secondly the definition of deity might not be what we have right now.

milieu said...

My link in the previous comment didnt come thru. It is

http://www.salon.com/env/atoms_eden/2008/11/19/stuart_kauffman/