Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rise of Patriarchal Society - VI

Matrilineal traditions:
If patriarchal traditions have their foundations in male centric ignorance about sexual reproduction, how about females of the past. I don't think unrelated males and females sit together and come to a common conclusion in the matters of knowledge. Any association should be strictly within the sex. The ideas that grow into ritualization are either matrilineal or patrilineal. If matrilineal ritualizations became powerful, males adopted it and vice versa.

In present times, especially in Indian traditions, we don't see clearly delineated male specific ideas or female specific ideas. But before dwelling into that the question needed to be asked, is it possible to have male specific or female specific ideas? I think it's possible. What we see here, the foundations(of ideas) are always misunderstanding about physio-chemical phenomena. The obvious physical differences manifest in differences in the world views based on them. Therefore, diversity in ways, paths, points of views are just a limitation of knowledge or pure misunderstanding.

At the next level, domination of either patrilineal philosophies or matrilineal philosophies result in one sex taking up prejudices of other sex, which can be unnatural for the borrower sex.

But ideas are not always linear. By this I mean, the foundations aren't just restricted to familiar domain. People develop ideas based on unfamiliar domains. Men can hold certain views about women and vice versa. This is ignorance multiplied and hence non-linear. And mainly responsible for many degrading practices where linear ideas and non-linear ideas mix.

Vagina and Menstrual Blood:
I would think the following linear ideas in the early societies.
- Men glorify their penis and its secretion semen
- Women glorify their vagina and its secretion menstrual blood

This of course makes sense. These glories are associated with bodily waste and hence dirty. But there is no reason to believe that women would be ashamed of their vagina and menstrual blood as men haven't. The association with creative power is the obvious reason for positive view. However, it appears in many societies (Not universally) men had developed non-linear idea about menstrual blood. And the result had been degrading menstrual blood practices where these negative ideas had been ritualized. However, it is unknown (to me) whether women had developed negative views about male glories and ritualized it in their matrilineal traditions.

Snake Worship:
This is a curious tradition. Generally, women are n the forefront of snake worship. Snake has generally (as far as I know) been held to be a representation of penis. Does that mean women had developed a positive attitude towards unfamiliar domain? Maju@Leherensuge in fact informed that some anthropologists consider snake a complete manifestation of genitals. The head as vagina and the body, penis. I would think early females most likely considered the only head part.

If you consider the ritual then it becomes very clear. Generally, snake is worshipped by pouring milk into the anthill. Milk of course here is the representation of semen. Matrilineal Musuo community in China considered semen as rain. If men thought women are mere nurturing condition, so did women. Semen is milk, a mere nurture for their glorious vagina.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rise of Patriarchal Society - V(ii)

Case Studies:
As I have already argued in my previous post, the (mis)understanding of sexual reproduction developed and limited metaphysical thought in the old cultures. One of the knowledges that pervaded in the past was that semen is seed. That means it's complete by itself to create a life.

The extreme exposition of this theme probably could be found in Sankara(IAAHE)'s 'Knowledge of Self'. If you observe all his nouns and pronouns - king, seer, wise-man, yogin, he - are exclusively males. Indeed, only males need the knowledge of self.

Though he didn't talk about creation in 'Atmabodha' ( I haven't read his other works), we can peruse his source book, Upanishads, to understand his knowledge. There it's clearly given Brahman ('it' that turns into 'he') created other selves.

This is where his understanding of condition and illusion developed. Brahman transformation from 'it' to 'he' clearly showed a condition or an incubator or an earth was added thus the great self (or the great selflessness) became male self.

Ultimately, the knowledge here is that just like the great self the men selves are complete by themselves with their seeds.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Origins of Indians: Version 10.0

Skin Colour:
My model of the caste system basically envisages a phenomenon derived from purity-pollution rules of West Asian priestly caste (Check Origins of Indians: Version 6.x). With this, I think I can move away from the skin colour based caste system model proposed by the self-loathing Europeans and try to understand whether skin colour without any technological advantage had any positive selection in India in the remote past.

My first assumption: Europe, North Africa, West Asia and South Asia were isolated regions until the appearance of light skin colour. This assumption isn't from thin air and strongly derives from non-overlapping male lineages of these regions.

Origin and spread of skin colour:
The genetic studies on skin colour are still in progress. I think the present knowledge is that skin colour arose in European population (unclear which part of Europe) around 10000-20000 years back and swept across North Africa and West Asia. Another assumption here is that I consider Europe, North Africa and West Asia are 100% light skinned regions.

Second Assumption: Europe is the region where light skin colour gene mutations first appeared.

Note: The light skin of East Asia and SE Asia is due to different genetic convergence for that trait. The population movement to South Asia is mostly from West and Central Asia, therefore, I won't consider East and SE Asia populations.

Skin colour gene and Haplogroup association:
The present topic requires the clear association of genes responsible for lighter skin (SLC24A5, SLC45A2) with mtDNA or Y-haplogroups. Since there are no clear studies on this, I can make educated guesses based on predominant haplogroups in Europe, West Asia and northern Africa.

Region -- Y-Haplogroup -- mtDNA
Europe -- R1b, R1a, I -- H, U
North Africa -- E1b1b, J -- H, U
West Asia -- J, E1b1b -- H, U

Since the colour genes are present on autosomes, the mutations' first appearance on Y-haplogroup or mtDNA isn't important. But if the first occurrence is in Europe, it's most likely in any of the R1b or R1a or I or mtDNA H or mtDNA U haplogroups.

Third Assumption: Y-haplogrups R1a, R1b, I, mtDNA Haplogrups H and U are the root lineages for the spread of light skin.

Spread to North Africa and West Asia:
If you consider haplogroup frequencies of R1b and R1a in North Africa and West Asia, it's most likely around 10-15% comparable to darker Dravidian regions but probably lesser than equally darker East Indian regions.

In this situation spread of lighter skin to these regions could only be explained by female specific sexual selection. The early development of agrarian society probably helped these regions to get lighter skinned females from European lands without much changing male genetic composition.

The situation is different in India. Here similar male Y-haplogroup frequencies haven't resulted in wider spread of lighter skin for South and East Indian population. In north-west India probably lighter skinned female presence in the incoming population (during IVC and later during IE migrations and invasions) has raised the lighter skin population. It should be noted here that north-west Indian share of root light skin haplogroup (R1a) is higher (around 30-40%). Almost twice that of North Africa or West Asia. But north-west India isn't as light skinned as the other two regions. That plausibly mean male centered sexual selection didn't happen.

Therefore, light skin of north-west India is a phenomenon similar to West Asia and North Africa. Female centered sexual selection for light skin.

Dravidian Region:
From the look of it, lack of root light skin females and lack of male centered sexual selection for light skin appear to be the reason for darker Dravidian regions. But even natural selection could be one of the reasons. If you see some of the tribes like Todas(J2 and R1a) who are lighter than most of the caste population, geographical regions might have made the difference too. The strongest evidence comes from Soejima et al. (2007) study.

Here is an interesting explanation given in Soejima et al.(2006) about the spread of allele SLC45A2 in South Asians.
There are several scenarios to explain the differences in allele frequency of the coding SNPs between the SLC24A5 and SLC45A2 genes in South Asian populations. One of them is that 374L has a selective advantage against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVB), and the frequency of the 374F allele migrating from Central Asian populations might have been reduced by purifying selection in South Asian populations. This may mean that the functional constraint is stronger on SLC45A2 than on SLC24A5. Sequence analysis of the SLC24A5 gene flanking the p.A111T polymorphism and functional analysis of the coding SNPs will help us understand the evolution of these
two pigmentation genes.

But noticeable feature is that SLC45A2 is almost absent from South Indian population and it occurs at 0.1 to 0.25 in North Indian population (According to Razib at Gene Expression).

As such from where the present studies stand I make the following conclusions:
1. Light skin didn't give any advantage to European males in North Africa and West Asia. On the contrary, during Neolithic time advanced dark skinned population of these regions took up light skinned European females and lightened the whole region.

2. South Indian dark skin is misleading from the point of view of spread of light skinned males. Here, rather than artificial sexual selection(that may not have taken place due to lack of light skinned females), natural selection had a higher say.

1. Skin Colour posts at Razib's Gene Expression.

Origins of Indians: Version 6.2.5

I was going thro' Sankara's Atmabodha (Knowledge of Self). One sentence there strike me as rather uncharacteristic.

One should understand the self to be always like a king, different from the body, senses, mind, consciousness, and eyes, the witness of their activities. (18).

A sage or seer would have made sense. But why 'king'?

This led to me read Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, supposedly Sankara's source for 'knowledge of self'. I found rather strange explanation in it about the origin of Varna system(Section 1.4).

11. Verily in the beginning this was Brahman, one only. That being one, was not strong enough. It created still further the most excellent Kshatra (power), viz. those Kshatras (powers) among the Devas,--Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra, Parganya, Yama, Mrityu, Îsâna. Therefore there is nothing beyond the Kshatra, and therefore at the Râgasûya sacrifice the Brâhmana sits down below the Kshatriya. He confers that glory on the Kshatra alone. But Brahman is (nevertheless) the birth-place of the Kshatra. Therefore though a king is exalted, he sits down at the end (of the sacrifice) below the Brahman, as his birth-place. He who injures him, injures his own birth-place. He becomes worse, because he has injured one better than himself.

I thought brahman and brAhmaNa became rather ambiguous terms here. What really comes out clearly here is Kshatra is higher than Brahman. There is nothing beyond Kshatra therefore it is the highest and hence Kshatriya must be the highest. A lower phenomenon producing a higher phenomenon is rather weird. But weirdness doesn't end there. Why talk about 'injury' here?

I have copied the rest of Varna development below but don't find them much helpful except for another weirdness of Devas being divided into four Varnas.

12. He 1 was not strong enough. He created the Vis (people), the classes of Devas which in their different orders are called Vasus, Rudras, Âdityas, Visve Devas, Maruts.

13. He was not strong enough. He created the Sûdra colour (caste), as Pûshan (as nourisher). This earth verily is Pûshan (the nourisher); for the earth nourishes all this whatsoever.

14. He was not strong enough. He created still further the most excellent Law (dharma). Law is the Kshatra (power) of the Kshatra 2, therefore there is nothing higher than the Law. Thenceforth even a weak man rules a stronger with the help of the Law, as with the help of a king. Thus the Law is what is called the true. And if a man declares what is true, they say he declares the Law; and if he declares the Law, they say he declares what is true. Thus both are the same.

15. There are then this Brahman, Kshatra, Vis, and Sûdra. Among the Devas that Brahman existed as Agni (fire) only, among men as Brâhmana, as Kshatriya through the (divine) Kshatriya, as Vaisya through the (divine) Vaisya, as Sûdra through the (divine) Sûdra. Therefore people wish for their future state among the Devas through Agni (the sacrificial fire) only; and among men through the Brâhmana, for in these two forms did Brahman exist.

Some of the observations I can make here.
- This explains why Sankara choose 'king' as a perfection.
- Loyalty of Brahmins to a god(Agni) associated with their ritual aspect(Note that Iranian counter part 'Atar' doesn't have an IE etymology). This probably explains decline of gods related to IE pantheon in India. The identity of priestly caste is West Asian and not European.
- No, it doesn't imply three fold division of Indian society just like IE society. I would rather think that concept probably was created and preserved by IE bards only. These bards anyway became part of West Asian priestly class in Iran and India. Since we don't see strict division of IE societies in European lands, I would consider even there the concept was just part of bards poems not really the rule imposed on the population.
- It implies appropriation of three fold division concept (chieftain/raja, common people/vis and serfs/swartr/sudra) by a West Asian origin endogamous priestly caste.
- It shows a bit hesitation and creation of a escape passage in claiming priests as the most superior considering the current idea of king as a supreme person.
- This probably explains the triumph of Buddhism only in Sri Lanka. The four fold caste division there had been, raja, bamanu, vindalo, govi(sudra?). Note the primary position of king. Also, the term is 'raja' and not 'kshatriya'. The latter is an innovation of Brahmins in India and not part of IE concept. The term raja is still a cognate with 'rig' of European three fold class system.

Sankara (if at all he existed) had only shown his intellectual dishonesty.