Skip to main content

My impressions of Michael Witzel of Harvard University

by N.S. Rajaram
RAJARAM_PHOTO.jpg


While Michael Witzel has been commenting extensively on my work over the past five years and more (and I less so), I ran into him in person for the first time during the Seminar on Aryan/Nonaryan Civilizations organized by the Center for Indic Studies of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth on June 23 – 26, 2006. I was one of the invited speakers, as was Witzel though he chose not to present a paper even while studiously attending nearly all presentations and participated verbally.



Witzel struck me as an unusual, even bizarre personality. He has no charm, and lacks the elementary grace and assurance that one expects from a person of his seniority and position. He never looks one squarely in the eye when speaking and is not above making cutting personal remarks that border on the indecent even to young people. He struck me as being insecure to the point of having an inferiority complex. This could be due to the unraveling of the theories that he has been advocating for the greater part of his career— something that was all too evident at the Seminar. His reverses following his California textbook campaign seems
also to have told on him both physically and mentally.

His total lack of warmth and personal charm made some of the younger participants refer to him as a “cold fish,” but in view of the rapid crumbling of his academic position, it might be better to describe him as a frozen fish fossil. In all these years, I have never come across a person who could so completely ‘turn off’ anyone coming in contact with him.

His lack of self confidence was in evidence when he refused to present his views at a time slot provided for him by the organizers. He commented extensively on other people’s presentations (including my own), but they were almost always negative, defending old (positions) while trying to cast doubts on new findings even in areas in which he had no competence, like genetics. His observations not infrequently were laced with personal comments, like referring to a speaker’s (not mine) ‘pseudo-arguments’ which he was forced to retract. Such behavior showed him in
poor light, reinforcing the view that he was resorting to personal attacks in the absence of any academic arguments.

The fact that all new findings are going against his cherished theories combined with the lack of hoped for results from his California textbook campaign seems to have told heavily on his self confidence. My remark that theories like the Aryan invasion will disappear along with their experts, and my advice to younger scholars to not waste any time either studying or refuting these, but focus on new findings and find new methodologies based on science and primary records seems to have affected him rather strongly.

Witzel was one of the invited speakers, but had declined the invitations, while sending on of his protégés (Dr. Pyotr Erslov of the Free University of Berlin) to present a paper on the traditional approach to Indian archaeology and literature. I happened to chair that session. Erslov cut a poor figure and the negative responses he received seem to have made him send an SOS to Witzel at Harvard, only about an hour’s drive from Dartmouth. Witzel showed up in the afternoon and stayed for the duration of the Seminar.

Another story I heard was that the Harvard authorities were unhappy at Witzel’s lack of participation at this seminar next door while he had been willing to spend a lot of time lobbying education authorities in far away California. In addition, he has been under pressure from his superiors for his lack of rapport (to put it mildly) with the Indian community. They also seem to have taken note of a letter I wrote to the Harvard Provost, pointing out the deficiencies of their program under Witzel’s leadership.

This was confirmed by Witzel himself, when just before leaving he approached me and said that my conduct (writing to Harvard) “was reprehensible” and “libelous.” As seems to be his practice, he said this without looking me in the face and left without giving me the time to answer.

A strange encounter to say the least, but one unlikely to change the turn of events

Comments

Anonymous said…
Everything I've read about Witzel suggests to me that he is a first rate douche bag. I had an unfortunate email encounter with him couple years ago, and he was not pleasant then.
Anonymous said…
Well, I think he's a fine person, quirks and all. I don't think one brief meeting in an academic conference is enough to qualify one as an expert about anyone. Especially when there are already excuses for hostility. But of course academics often talk about things they don't know about. I just wish they wouldn't blog them.
Anonymous said…
> Well, I think he's a fine person, quirks and all.

That's till the time you start talking about India.

> I don't think one brief meeting in an academic conference is enough to qualify one as an expert about anyone.

How about 30 years of knowing a person?

>But of course academics often talk about things they don't know about.

Really?
Rajaram ji

Sometimes I read cross posted mails from some of the groups in which Mike Witzel also posts. One thing, I find startling is, though he claims he is an indologist, his hatred for India is prominent.

While, on the one hand, he tells others that the people who counter him (read Hindutva vadis) have an agenda, his own bias and his own agenda are so visible.

His hatred for Hinduism is more than the British themselves. Somewhere I read that he is associated with "Dalit Freedom Network"- an association created to cheat the Harijans of India by evangelization.
Anonymous said…
While I have only just got to know about this Witzel character, as an Indian who considers herself broad-minded, progressive etc, I am appalled that so much damage can be caused by nerdy, egotistical academicians who think they know all that there is to know.

We are all agreed on one thing: Hinduism is a VERY OLD religion. And naturally with anything that old, comes good and bad. Ditto, Christianity and Islam. Only difference being, that with Hinduism, one takes liberties, while attempting to do something similar with Islam would lead to a few more bomb blasts!
Anonymous said…
This demolition of Witzel reads, to use an apposite phrase, like playing the man and not the ball but to those more informed is likely payback a l'outrance for Witzel's much earlier demolition job on NSR's claims to have deciphered the Indus Script. Any which way it reads as ill-tempered and beneath the dignity of civilised dialectical exchange, and may be even be legally actionable. It's simply false that he hates Hinduism. These highly personalised attacks bode ill for the future of consensual east-west academic studies on ancient Indic civilization
Anonymous said…
I always thought Arts professors were stupid. Maybe Witzel is a fool, but really, so are the rest of you.
Anonymous said…
Dear Sirs,

This is with regard to your illustrous colleague, Witzel and his assistants.

I reproduce below repeated and very recent instances of deliberate use of wrong and psuedo- scientifc terminologies, again and again , out of context, and to mislead teachers and students, this time with respect to the Indus script. This is of course, only an isolated instance.
... even civilizations with less developed writing systems were considered proto-literate. In some cities of Indus there were more characters
than humans supposedly according to Asko Parpola. They also mass produced writing and had public signboards. There is nobody who doesn't know this.

To set the record straight, millions of Indians interact with Americans on a daily basis.
We've never had a problem. No Indian has ever complained of racism. Witzel is incorrigible. I don't know why you keep him on your rolls.
Even Nineteenth century indologists were better. Don't you think this is completely at odds with your otherwise high standards?
Even discussants in debates and other researchers don't use the terms he uses.

Witzel did write to me.

In his mail, he mentioned two things:

(a) His department is still making money
(b) He is also receiving donations

Is that all that concerns him?
As long as Witzel and his colleagues are around, this field will be synonymous with hatred, distrust and racism.

He doesn't deserve to live in the 21st century - He is a curse on Indology. history will recognize him as such.

It is a shame he is employed at Harvard. This is not one isolated instance. All "indology" conferences are held outside India, which is a shame.
He only comes to India to collect our money. This is exactly the kind of stuff he does with it. I will be posting this on blogs as well. The situation has gone completely out of control and needs attention.

When Witzel is around

(a) The entire field will be riddled with hatred and suspicion
(b) This is not good for international relations
(c) I am sure it must have led to loss of revenue already to you, though you must be knowing this better.

Sujay

P.S Please be uptodate with the latest research on the Indus script.



Research by Michael Korvink

http://books.google.co.in/books?id=35jHAHCAWlUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=indus+script+korvink&hl=en&ei=Es0NTMSxNM_CrAfTw6SkCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

You can read books by McIntosh too.

This mail by his assistant was dated 6th June 2010. Read for yourself and judge. All terminogies he uses are preudo-science.
...............................................................
Hmm, "nonliterate (and endlessly idealized) Indus Valley civilizations 
-- that pretty much says it. It *is* worth it to read the second 
page. :^)

> While admitting the archaic, mythical, and idealized language of his 
> sources, Asko Parpola (“Human Sacrifice in India in Vedic Times and 
> Before,” 157–77) nevertheless insists that references to human 
> sacrifice in the Vedas should be taken as witnesses to historical 
> practices. To justify this argument, he draws on iconographic data 
> from the nonliterate (and endlessly idealized) Indus Valley 
> civilizations and even Tantric materials from medieval Hinduism.

Steve
Anonymous said…
An update on Indus script:

http://decipherquarterly.piczo.com/?cr=2
Udayan Dave said…
Not looking in the eye or giving someone a chance to respond is I think more of a sign of a superiority complex. He doesn’t think it is worth his time and energy to develop academic relationships based on equality or fair dialogue with those who are not convinced in the Caucasian Aryan invasion model. His association with Harvard for such a long time has further fed his ego. His long time association with Indologists who are a closed group of white linguists has probably made him racist.

It’s amazing that Witzel hangs his hat on the fact that his department is still making money and that he is receiving donations. A good bulk of his financial supporters probably comes from Western academic circles where Aryan Invasion Theory has become almost a religious, sacred belief in Caucasian supremacy. The academic field of linguistics used to support the Aryan invasion theory is an exclusive club of white Indologists who group think and bounce very hypothetical ideas off of each other. Some of his financial support might also be coming from overt white supremacist groups or racist sympathizers. They are all on the defensive and this guy along with his Harvard credentials gives their racist views legitimacy.

The Wikipedia page on “Out of India theory” looks like a final stand by Aryan Invasion Theory supporters. Every point is refuted derisively in typical Michael Witzel style. It is refreshing to hear that new researchers are not so one-sided and more open minded about ancient Indian history.

Here is something unusual I noticed on Amazon books: a 1889 text by an Indian author supporting the Aryan Invasion Theory was republished by Adamant Media Corporation in 2001. This Indian author doesn’t even know Sanskrit. Instead he relies exclusively in English translations of the Vedas produced at that time. You can read the Amazon book preview and see for yourself.

http://www.amazon.com/History-Civilization-Ancient-Sanscrit-Literature/dp/054392937X/ref=sr_1_9?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285276676&sr=8-9
Anonymous said…
You are not convincing !
Your deciphering of the Indus Valley script has failed to stand the test of professional indologists around the world.
Why focus only on Michael Witzel when others too have convincingly exposed the 'Piltdown horse' which had been enhanced with a computer to befit a pre-determined interpretation.
Your credibility is on the mat!
Anonymous said…
I think NSR sums it up nicely when he says, "... theories like the Aryan invasion will disappear along with their experts, and my advice to younger scholars to not waste any time either studying or refuting these, but focus on new findings and find new methodologies based on science and primary records ..."

While NSR and likes of Danino & Talageri have done a great service to bring sanity & balance to this field, let's not carried away by destructive elements like Witzel. Or maybe, as Talageri admits in his book, it takes atrocious personalities like Witzel to wake up reasonable people and make a case for what is rational & logical. I hope that is not the case :-)
Anonymous said…
did Witzel learn Sanskrit?
chrisgrobinson said…
It is most sad that the unstable Witzel
was chosen as a successor to the well-
loved Daniel Ingalls. Lamberg-Karlovsky's
preface to the recently published book
by Bryan Wells on the Indus script paints
a truly shocking picture of a man who has no place in academics.
Anonymous said…
What do you expect from someone like Rajaram who has manipulated and falsified data, and used "cooked up" pictures to show a horse in Indus seals, and still has no shame to speak in public!
Anonymous said…
you are all idiots. Rajaram photoshopped fake artifacts to support his nonsense theories. He should be imprisoned. Witzel's work is always data driven and his personality is basically George Carlin's. Everyone who is a serious scholar knows Witzel is a supremely talented Indologist. The rest of you are looking for Atlantis and not worthy of anyones attention
Anonymous said…
After reading Witzel and Farmer's debunking of your Harappan translation (http://safarmer.com/frontline/horseplay.pdf) I chanced upon this blog post.

The entire blog post has not one shred of actual information. Just your personal grumbling sometimes anonymously propped up through others.

It is apparent that not only are you a poor academic and historian but a very poor person as well. As an Indian I really wish that history of our country was not tainted by the works of fools like you.
ManjunathEMEN said…
"It is apparent that not only are you a poor academic and historian but a very poor person as well. ##As an Indian I really wish that history of our country was not tainted by the works of fools like you$$".
A unreasonable fellow or dogma hounded or result of eons ignorance can only make a stupid comment like this. wow! people like you exist is the reason why these type of indologists (witzel) gonna eat the pie. screw the history and ready the ;dulhan; for ever waiting judgement day.
Anonymous said…
I am pleased to present my fifth paper in a peer-reviewed journal

http://www.scribd.com/doc/127306265/Sujay-Post-Harappan-Literacy-Final-Final-Final

this deals with literacy in post-harappan india and is a logical and self-explanatory paper
William Meegan said…
Professor Witzel is not very inventive in his analysis of mythology. He has merely put together a compendious of previous ideas. SO WHAT'S NEW? NOTHING.

Just because he is a Harvard scholar and has written a book on mythology: i.e. an anthology of other people's work: reminds me Charles Darwin who didn't have a brain in his head yet copied 20-naturalists of his times, doesn't mean Professor Witzel knows what he is talking about.

Let me give one prime example of written MYTHOLOGY, which many have claimed were culled from various other mythologies. In the Judeao Christian Scriptures there is the Genesis Creation Account. In the first chapter of Genesis I can demonstrate a great deal of graphic images on just the word 'ELOHYM (God)', which is used in the texts 32-times. I will only speak to one nuance in this word.

ELOHYM is a Hebrew word; thus, it is symbolically coded as GOD and has an alphanumeric designates for each of the letters in its construct. Taking the Gemetria value of each of its letters and breaking them down to their lowest common denominator it produces the formula for Pi when going counterclockwise from the number three (3): 3.1415 [Aleph (1), Lemmed (30 = 3), Heh (5), Yud (10 = 1), Mem (40 = 4)].

In the first chapter of Genesis I can demonstrate that Pi is used quite often but mainly in the VESICA PISCIS, which demonstrates that Pi represents symbolically DECISION. 'meaning that one's DECISION is one's God'. Is this the product of diffusion? DA.
William Meegan said…
Professor Witzel is not very inventive in his analysis of mythology. He has merely put together a compendious of previous ideas. SO WHAT'S NEW? NOTHING.

Just because he is a Harvard scholar and has written a book on mythology: i.e. an anthology of other people's work: reminds me Charles Darwin who didn't have a brain in his head yet copied 20-naturalists of his times, doesn't mean Professor Witzel knows what he is talking about.

Let me give one prime example of written MYTHOLOGY, which many have claimed were culled from various other mythologies. In the Judeao Christian Scriptures there is the Genesis Creation Account. In the first chapter of Genesis I can demonstrate a great deal of graphic images on just the word 'ELOHYM (God)', which is used in the texts 32-times. I will only speak to one nuance in this word.

ELOHYM is a Hebrew word; thus, it is symbolically coded as GOD and has an alphanumeric designates for each of the letters in its construct. Taking the Gemetria value of each of its letters and breaking them down to their lowest common denominator it produces the formula for Pi when going counterclockwise from the number three (3): 3.1415 [Aleph (1), Lemmed (30 = 3), Heh (5), Yud (10 = 1), Mem (40 = 4)].

In the first chapter of Genesis I can demonstrate that Pi is used quite often but mainly in the VESICA PISCIS, which demonstrates that Pi represents symbolically DECISION. 'meaning that one's DECISION is one's God'. Is this the product of diffusion? DA.
hitesh rangra said…
Michael Witzel: rattled rat at IIC

Bhagwan Singh
22 July 2009

I was really sorry for Prof. Michael Witzel. After all, he was our honoured guest! Dr. Singh should not have pounced on him so mercilessly, playing the cat and the rat game – the cat looking ascetically resigned tossing the rat, the rat pretending to be dead, breathlessly looking from the corner of his eye to judge the cat’s next move, running for his life, only to be pounced upon and tossed up again. The Chair kept smiling all through at this plight of the powerful brainy Harvard Professor of Sanskrit!

Frankly, I enjoyed the wild play. Prof. Witzel was in a state of trauma: nervous, edgy, twitching his lips, dropping his eyelids recurrently, looking askance to avoid his interlocutor, constantly using his hanky to rub his nose, murmuring something inaudible to explain his errors, occasionally seeking help from his votaries who were present in good number, but more ignorant than their demi-god, and hence themselves dazed. Singh smiled all the way, his smile mischievous, eyes sadistically aglitter, untrue to his true nature, but true to the occasion.

Rgveda

The occasion was a lecture on the Rgveda by Prof. Michael Witzel, at the India International Centre, on 10 July 2009. Presided over by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, it was attended by scholars of different hues and expectations. No one suspected that Witzel with his claim to be a ranking Vedic scholar knew so little that he could not answer a single query. Indeed, he appeared blank as far as the Rgvedawas concerned. He rose nervously to speak on the Veda, but actually spoke on the Aryan migration from Afghanistan to Punjab!

The lecture merely reiterated what Prof. Witzel has written years ago: that north-western India was populated by Munda speaking people when Indo-Aryan speakers arrived on the scene. Old Indo-Aryan was influenced by the substrate Proto-Munda. He proposed a time bracket of 1500-1250 BC for composition of theRgveda and suggested Book IV and Book VI were the oldest, advantage Book IV.

Witzel painted Rgvedic society as nomadic pastoralist, illiterate and with little interest in agriculture and sedentary life. There was virtually nothing in his speech that was not lifted from nineteenth century archives. He showed no awareness of recent researches in archaeology, anthropology, literature or historical linguistics, and presented even Kuiper with his pathological distortions.

Many archaeologists and professors of history attended the lecture, including your writer, Vedic scholar Bhagwan Singh. When the floor was thrown open for discussions, Bhagwan Singh introduced himself as the author of The Vedic Harappans, and said that his data contradicted each and every statement made by Witzel; he sought permission to exchange notes on a few issues. With the Chair’s permission, Singh said:

- You have reordered the Rgvedic strata, rating IV and VI to be the oldest and the rest belonging to intermediate and late stages. I have no objection to your sequence, but find your chronology miserably on the lower side. There is a reference to white pottery in one verse in Book IV (4.27.5). White pottery is a distinctive feature of Hakra Ware dated to 3000 BC. This goes against your dating of 1500-1250 BC for the Rgveda.

Witzel was dumbstruck. He murmured something inaudible, avoiding the audience, looking sideways. He tried to explain that the sequence arranged by him was based on the number of verses in a book, the smallest being the oldest. It caused Kapila ji and others to smile openly. I could not make out the reason and reminded him that Book IV is shorter than Book VI; but the shortest book is Book II! So here again, he was caught on the wrong foot.

He hesitantly managed, “There is no evidence of chariot or horse in India earlier than the mid-second millennium.”

hitesh rangra said…
- But Professor, the aśva in Rgveda, whatever could it have been, was brought from sea bound areas, even the aśva in the horse sacrifice, mentioned in Book I, hymn 163.

Prof. Witzel had no choice but to bite his lips in desperation.

- You say that the wheel and chariot were invented by Aryans when they were in Central Asia, but in the Book IV itself, Bhr.gus are given the credit for manufacturing wheels (4.16.20). Chariot and wheel was therefore not Aryan, but a Dravidian invention.

Witzel pretended that the inventors might have been Aryans and manufacturers Dravidians! He now forgot the antiquity of Book IV, which according to his suggestion, could have been written in Central Asia, older even than Book VI, composed entirely in Northern Afghanistan; Dravidian speakers must have been there as well.

- You talk of substrate effect of Proto-Munda and suggest no role of Proto-Dravidian at the early stage. But Kipper had concluded that three ethnic groups participated in a cultural process. The three are conspicuously present in the Rgveda, Bhr.gus Dravidian, Angirasas Mundari, besides the Sanskrit speakers.

Prof. Witzel mumbled something for a minute; his nervousness was apparent in his evasive gestures.

Kapila ji must have taken pity at his visible discomfort. She invited others to raise doubts, if they had any. Someone at the extreme end of the hall asked a question on the distorted reading of the Sankhyayan Śrautasutra, which had exposed his culpability half a decade back. Witzel responded by referring to an article written by him, without telling us what his defence was!

After a few worthless queries, the debate shrunk back to Michael Witzel, Kapila Vatsyayan, and Bhagwan Singh.

- The problem with you, Professor, is that you are not familiar with the content of Book IV even. Hymn 57 of Book IV gives a graphic depiction of advanced agriculture, with a plough almost similar to the one that was common in India up to the mid-twentieth century, drawn by a pair of bullocks and driven by a ploughman in service. And in one of the Ŗics, the poet talks of milking the earth as a cow, year after year. It testifies to advanced agricultural activities with sedentary population and belies the myth of nomadism, pastoralism, and barbarity.

The Chair could not hold her laughter; Witzel shook in dismay.

The last nail was hammered by Kapila ji herself. In a jocular vein, she said, “The theme of the lecture was Rgveda. Vedic poetry is known for its sublimity and rare beauty. I expected Prof. Witzel to speak something on it, but he did not say even a word on the theme.”

Witzel agreed that the Hymns on Uşā are really beautiful.

I interjected, “not only Uşā Sūktas professor, the entire Rgveda. Some of it could never be surpassed, such as the Nāsdīya Sūkta, with such expression as tama āsīt tamasā gūlhmagre, darkness was entrapped within darkness.

All in all, it was an interesting evening, if not for the presentation by Prof. Witzel, then for his discomfiture.

Prof. Bhagwan Singh is a Marxist scholar who accepted the archaeological evidence against the theory of Aryan invasion of India
Vedic continuum in Hindusthan

Sangam times are from ca.300 BCE to 300 CE, when the earliest extant works of Sangam literature). [Kamil Veith Zvelebil, Companion Studies to the History of Tamil Literature, pp12; K.A. Nilakanta Sastry, A History of South India, OUP (1955) pp 105]

The following notes include excerpts from a remarkable article which appeared in Adyar Library Bulletin (1983). These clearly indicate that Vedic culture in India dates back to very ancient times all over Hindusthan, from Gandhara to Kanchipuram. This geographic spread of Vedic culture is matched by the spread of punch-marked coins from ca. 6th century BCE, all over Hindusthan, from Gandhara to Karur (Tiruchi).

Kazanas (2009) has shown that Rigveda predates the Sarasvati-Sindhu culture.
hitesh rangra said…
Few Question by Michel Danino , i just want to reproduce these Question to many people like @ ManjunathEMEN said...

The two articles in Frontline’s cover story (October 13 issue) regrettably show more prejudice than scholarly objectivity, and call for the briefest of answers on several distinct points :
The horse question in the Harappan civilization;
N. Jha’s and N. S. Rajaram’s proposed decipherment of the Indus script;
The relationship, if any, between the Harappan and the Vedic worlds;
The deeper question of “Indology” vs. Indian civilization.
hitesh rangra said…
1) Objective readers will agree with Profs. Witzel’s and Farmer’s convincing demonstration that the so-called horse seal included in Jha’s and Rajaram’s book is unlikely to have depicted a horse at all. But a “fraud” or an over-enthusiastic error ? Witzel and Farmer imply that the distorted seal is central to Jha’s and Rajaram’s work, but a look at their book shows it only occupies a minor place in their scheme of things. In my opinion, the reproduction (fig. 7.1a) is, more likely, a bad digital enlargement of a bad scan of a poorer original than the one Witzel and Farmer give us p. 7 ; on the whole, the shapes remain faithful, but the “artist’s reproduction” (fig. 7.1b) is certainly not legitimate. No one is above error, not even Witzel who mistranslated a Sanskrit text to make it hint at a migration into India (see Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate by the Belgian linguist and historian Dr. Koenraad Elst for details).

Prof. Romila Thapar’s remark that “if the horse had been as central to the Indus civilisation as it was to the Vedic corpus, there would have been many seals depicting horses” is simplistic. The Harappans did not include all the animals around them on their seals—they had cows and camels, for instance, yet did not depict them ; on the other hand they depicted the unicorn and a three-headed creature, which did not exist physi­cally. The seals were not meant to be a zoological catalogue, and until we can read the Harappans’ mind and culture, we can only try to guess reasons for the presence or absence of a particular animal.

As regards the horse itself, Witzel and Farmer quote the late Prof. Sándor Bökönyi, but omit his important conclusion about “the possibility of the occurrence of domesticated horses in the mature phase of the Harappa culture, at the end of the 3rd millennium B.C.” (South Indian Studies 13, 1997, p. 300). Apart from Bökönyi, Indian archaeozoologists Bhola Nath and A. K. Sharma had earlier reached similar conclu­sions. Let us not forget that not even five per cent of all Harappan sites have been exca­vated—the question of horse remains will doubtless remain open for some more time.
hitesh rangra said…
2) Witzel’s and Farmer’s objections to Jha’s proposed decipherment of the Indus script are twofold : One, that trying to read Sanskrit on the seals shows the work of “Hindutva revisionists”; by that criterion, respected archaeologists such as Dr. S. R. Rao, Dr. M. V. N. Rao and others, who had much earlier proposed decipherments linked to Sanskrit, will probably have to be stuck with the omnibus Hindutva label ! Two, a valid objection that the Jha’s decipherment leaves too much room for interpretation; yet that is not a sufficient ground to dismiss Jha’s work altogether, for our view of the Harappan script is probably distorted by the brevity of the inscriptions. What if Harap­pans had longer texts on cloth, wood, reed, or any other degradable material ? Such texts (even a few dozen words long) would clearly restrict the freedom of interpretation, even with Jha’s method, and would have given the necessary background to make shorter texts clear to the Harappans (just as the modern Hebrew script, devoid of vowels, can be ambiguous if a reader only had a word or two, but ceases to be so with more words). In the end, the reader is left wishing for an impartial and open-minded critique of Jha’s and Rajaram’s proposed decipherment rather than this kind of character assassination.
hitesh rangra said…
3) All three writers are emphatic that the Vedic age came much later than the Harappan, and that any attempt at equating the two can only come, again, from the fevered brains of “Hindutva propagandists”. This is absurd as well as misleading, for the connection (or lack of it) between the Harappan and the Vedic (or “Aryan”) worlds has been a matter of scholarly debate for decades, perhaps ever since John Marshall remarked in 1931, “[The Harappan] religion is so characteristically Indian as hardly to be distinguished from still living Hinduism.” More recently Colin Renfrew, a well-known British archaeologist, remarked (in his Archaeology and Language – the Puzzle of Indo-European Origins) : “It is difficult to see what is particularly non-Aryan about the Indus Valley civilization.” Indeed, several symbols depicted on the seals or other artefacts, such as the bull or a mother-goddess, are reminiscent of Vedic themes ; Raymond and Bridget Allchin, British archaeologists of rather conservative leanings, concede in their Origins of a Civilization – the Prehistory and Early Archaeology of South Asia that a seal from Chanhu-daro does seem to depict the marriage of Heaven and Earth, a theme central to the Rig-Veda. The seals also portray numerous deities seated or standing in yogic postures, and figurines in various yoga asanas have been found (e.g. at Lothal), which shows that yoga was part of Harappan culture. And what about the fire-altars found in several Harappan cities, reminiscent of Vedic rituals ?

hitesh rangra said…
Parallels do not end with artefacts. Prof. Romila Thapar’s assertion that “there are no descriptions of the city in the Rigveda [...] that could be applied to the Indus cities”, is astonishing : can she be unaware of claims to the contrary by respected archae­ologists, such as Dr. R. S. Bisht, excavator of Dholavira in Kutch, where he found “a virtual reality of what the Rig-Veda, the world’s oldest literary record, describes”? Bisht is also a deep Vedic scholar, and in a masterly article “Harappans and the Rigveda : Points of Convergence” in the recently published Dawn of Indian Civilization, he quotes over 500 references from the Rig-Veda to build his case that not only town-planning but various kinds of Harappan habitations are depicted in the Veda. Thapar also seems unaware that the Rig-Veda does make frequent mention of shipping, trade, and other ingredients of Harappan life. As the historian B. K. Ghosh pointed out in 1958, “The Rgveda clearly reflects the picture of a highly complex society in the full blaze of civili­sation,” a picture as consistent with the Indus civilization as it is inconsis­tent with pastoral nomads just arrived from Central Asia.

hitesh rangra said…
Finally we have the evidence provided by the Sarasvati river which dried up in stages until it disappeared around 1900 BC. Archaeologists, e.g. the Allchins, J. M. Kenoyer, Gregory Possehl, and most Indian archaeologists, accept the identification between the Vedic Sarasvati and the Ghaggar-Hakra valley which runs through Haryana, Rajasthan, and Pakistan’s desert of Cholistan. This identification is “well-established,” to use Witzel’s and Farmer’s frequent phrase (see their rule No. 2 about “respect for well-established facts”). Then how could the Rig-Veda praise the Sarasvati as a “mighty river” if its composers arrived on the scene much later ?
hitesh rangra said…
Gregory Possehl puts the problems squarely when he remarks in his recent Indus Age : The Beginnings : “This carries with it an interesting chronological implication : the composers of the Rgveda were in the Sarasvati region prior to the drying up of the river and this would be closer than 2000 bc than it is to 1000 bc, somewhat earlier than most of the conventional chronologies for the presence of the Vedic Aryans in the Punjab.” In fact it should be much before 2000 BC if we accept the Rig-Veda’s description of the Sarasvati as flowing “from the mountain to the ocean” (7.95.2), Once again, the debate will go on, and raising the Hindutva bogey will do nothing to advance it. (Incidentally, was B. G. Tilak, who advocated an Arctic origin for the mythical Aryans, not a staunch defender of Hindutva ?)Parallels do not end with artefacts. Prof. Romila Thapar’s assertion that “there are no descriptions of the city in the Rigveda [...] that could be applied to the Indus cities”, is astonishing : can she be unaware of claims to the contrary by respected archae­ologists, such as Dr. R. S. Bisht, excavator of Dholavira in Kutch, where he found “a virtual reality of what the Rig-Veda, the world’s oldest literary record, describes”? Bisht is also a deep Vedic scholar, and in a masterly article “Harappans and the Rigveda : Points of Convergence” in the recently published Dawn of Indian Civilization, he quotes over 500 references from the Rig-Veda to build his case that not only town-planning but various kinds of Harappan habitations are depicted in the Veda. Thapar also seems unaware that the Rig-Veda does make frequent mention of shipping, trade, and other ingredients of Harappan life. As the historian B. K. Ghosh pointed out in 1958, “The Rgveda clearly reflects the picture of a highly complex society in the full blaze of civili­sation,” a picture as consistent with the Indus civilization as it is inconsis­tent with pastoral nomads just arrived from Central Asia.

Finally we have the evidence provided by the Sarasvati river which dried up in stages until it disappeared around 1900 BC. Archaeologists, e.g. the Allchins, J. M. Kenoyer, Gregory Possehl, and most Indian archaeologists, accept the identification between the Vedic Sarasvati and the Ghaggar-Hakra valley which runs through Haryana, Rajasthan, and Pakistan’s desert of Cholistan. This identification is “well-established,” to use Witzel’s and Farmer’s frequent phrase (see their rule No. 2 about “respect for well-established facts”). Then how could the Rig-Veda praise the Sarasvati as a “mighty river” if its composers arrived on the scene much later ? Gregory Possehl puts the problems squarely when he remarks in his recent Indus Age : The Beginnings : “This carries with it an interesting chronological implication : the composers of the Rgveda were in the Sarasvati region prior to the drying up of the river and this would be closer than 2000 bc than it is to 1000 bc, somewhat earlier than most of the conventional chronologies for the presence of the Vedic Aryans in the Punjab.” In fact it should be much before 2000 BC if we accept the Rig-Veda’s description of the Sarasvati as flowing “from the mountain to the ocean” (7.95.2), Once again, the debate will go on, and raising the Hindutva bogey will do nothing to advance it. (Incidentally, was B. G. Tilak, who advocated an Arctic origin for the mythical Aryans, not a staunch defender of Hindutva ?)
hitesh rangra said…
4) If Rajaram and Jha are such worthless scholars as the writers constantly imply, why don’t the latter rather spend their energies engaging in a serious scholarly debate with a Renfrew or a Rao, a Bisht or a Possehl ? Is it because they are ill-equipped to do so ? Clearly, the Harappan-Vedic question is far more complex than the three professors are telling us, and cannot be solved by their sweeping assertions which ignore much archaeological and other evidence in disregard of their own golden rules Nos. 1 and 3.

As regards rule No. 4 about “independence from religious and political agendas,” it is unexceptionable. But in that case, why don’t the writers protest against the perverse misuse of the defunct Aryan invasion theory (or its new avatar of “Aryan migration”) by Marxist, Dalit, Christian and Dravidian groups ? When Asko Parpola declared in a World Tamil Conference that today’s Tamilians are the descendants of the Harappans, that was fine ; when K. N. Panikkar, who describes himself as a “Left histo­rian”, publicly defended the Aryan invasion theory at a recent student congress, that is fine ; but when one quotes solid evidence from reputed archaeologists to reject such half-baked claims, one is a “Hindutvavadi”—where is the logic ? And why are outdated Indian textbooks, which still speak of Aryan and Dravidian races, of Aryans invading India and destroying the Indus civilization, allowed to continue stuffing the brains of Indian children with such antiquated nonsense?
hitesh rangra said…
Must read for fellow Like @ ManjunathEMEN

http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/horse-debate.html
hitesh rangra said…
@ ManjunathEMEN

Witzel and Farmer imply that the distorted seal is central to Jha’s and Rajaram’s work, but a look at their book shows it only occupies a minor place in their scheme of things.
hitesh rangra said…
@ ManjunathEMEN

" Why is it that there is no evidence of Sanskrit in all these ‘Central Asian’ locations from where these ‘Aryans’ came from?"
Where are the texts, the systems
The real marker in this case may be the depth of the civilization. Why is it that there is no evidence of Sanskrit in all these ‘Central Asian’ locations from where these ‘Aryans’ came from? Why did Vedic learning survive only in India? How is it that Vedic Gods survived only in India – and not in the ‘Aryan homelands’. How come there are lakhs of Sanskrit texts in India, but none where Sanskrit supposedly originated from? In Central Asia!

And such legless theories, abound. For instance, the mythical ‘Indus Valley priest-king’, based on, “a few stone sculptures of seated male figures, such as the intricately carved and colored Priest King, so called even though there is no evidence he was a priest or king.”

One the other hand, the Saraswati river theory, supported by strong evidence, is picking up more adherents and evidence. Fortunately, there are many sites in India, where research can continue, without access to Mohenjo daro and Harappa.

http://2ndlook.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/on-the-sands-of-saraswati-indus-%E0%A4%A6%E0%A4%B6%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8B%E0%A4%A3-3/
CROWNQQ I AGEN BANDARQ I ADUQ ONLINE I DOMINOQQ TERBAIK I DOMINO99 ONLINE TERBESAR

Yuk Buruan ikutan bermain di website CrownQQ

Sekarang CROWNQQ Memiliki Game terbaru Dan Ternama loh...

9 permainan :
=> Poker
=> Bandar Poker
=> Domino99
=> BandarQ
=> AduQ
=> Sakong
=> Capsa Susun
=> Bandar 66
=> Perang Baccarat (NEW GAME)

=> Bonus Refferal 20%
=> Bonus Turn Over 0,5%
=> Minimal Depo 20.000
=> Minimal WD 20.000
=> 100% Member Asli
=> Pelayanan DP & WD 24 jam
=> Livechat Kami 24 Jam Online
=> Bisa Dimainkan Di Hp Android
=> Di Layani Dengan 5 Bank Terbaik
=> 1 User ID 9 Permainan Menarik

Ayo gabung sekarang juga hanya dengan
mengklick daftar crownqq

Link Resmi CrownQQ:
RATUAJAIB.COM
RATUAJAIB.NET


DEPOSIT VIA PULSA TELKOMSEL | XL 24 JAM

BACA JUGA BLOGSPORT KAMI:
Info CrownQQ
CrownQQWIN
Cerita Dewasa
Berita Unik
Agen BandarQ | Domino99 Online Terbesar


Info Lebih lanjut Kunjungi :
WHATSAPP : +6287771354805
LINE : CS CROWNQQ
TELEGRAM : +855882357563


CROWNQQ I AGEN BANDARQ I ADUQ ONLINE I DOMINOQQ TERBAIK I DOMINO99 ONLINE TERBESAR
Website : CrownQQ Agen DominoQQ BandarQ dan Domino99 Online Terbesar

Yuk Buruan ikutan bermain di situs Agen BandarQ

Sekarang CrownQQ Memiliki Game terbaru Dan Ternama loh...

9 permainan :
* Poker Online
* Bandar Poker
* BandarQ
* Domino99
* AduQ
* Sakong
* Capsa Susun
* Bandar66 (ADU BALAK)
* Perang Baccarat (NEW GAMES)

* Bonus Rollingan 0.5% Setiap Senin
* Bonus Refferal 20% Seumur Hidup
* Minimal Depo & Withdraw 20.000
* 100% Member Asli
* Pelayanan DP & WD 24 jam
* Livechat Kami 24 Jam Online

Ayo gabung sekarang juga hanya dengan
mengklick Daftar CrownQQ

BACA JUGA BLOGSPORT KAMI:
CrownQQ IDPRO
Kemenangan
Berita Unik
Berita dan Info Dunia

Info Lebih lanjut Kunjungi :
WHATSAPP : +6287771354805
LINE : CS CROWNQQ
TELEGRAM : +855882357563

Popular posts from this blog

Menon meets Karzai, discusses security of Indians

Kabul/New Delhi/Washington, March 5 (IANS) India Friday said that the Feb 26 terror attack in Kabul will not deter it from helping rebuild Afghanistan as National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to review the security of around 4,000 Indians working in that country. Menon, who arrived here Friday morning on a two-day visit, discussed with Karzai some proposals to bolster security of Indians engaged in a wide array of reconstruction activities, ranging from building roads, bridges and power stations to social sector projects. The Indian government is contemplating a slew of steps to secure Indians in Afghanistan, including setting up protected venues where the Indians working on various reconstruction projects will be based. Deploying dedicated security personnel at places where Indians work is also being considered. Menon also met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and enquired about the progress in the probe into the Kabul atta

Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth

Rethink before It’s Too Late http://www.irdiplomacy.ir/index.php?Lang=en&Page=21&TypeId=15&ArticleId=7108&BranchId=19&Action=ArticleBodyView Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth –Afghanistan. By Houman Dolati It is no more a surprise to see Iran absent in Afghanistan affairs. Nowadays, the Bonn Conference and Iran’s contributions to Afghanistan look more like a fading memory. Iran, which had promised of loans and credit worth five-hundred million dollars for Afghanistan, and tried to serve a key role, more than many other countries, for reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan, is now trying to efface that memory, saying it is a wrong path, even for the international community. Iran’s empty seat in the Rome Conference was another step backward for Afghanistan’s influential neighbor. Many other countries were surprised with Iran’s absence. Finding out the vanity of its efforts to justify absence in Rome, Iran tried to start its

Pakistani firm whose chemicals were used to kill US troops seeks subsidy for Indiana plant

By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel Published March 22, 2013   A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana.  The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making.  For the past seven years, the U.S. government has known that the raw material calcium ammonium nitrate, or CAN, is making its way across the border into Afghanistan where the Taliban use it to fuel their most deadly weapons, namely the improvised explosive device. IEDs have long been the number one killer of U.S. and coalition troops.  The material largely comes from Pakistani fertilizer maker the Fatima Group. But the Pakistani government has stymied attempts by the Pentagon to stop the