I really respect Mint
. I rate it better than most other papers I read though the verdict is not yet out on its comparison with The Hindu
. But today’s column by a T.R.Ramaswami is pathetic (and I am being kind and generous, thanks to several slips of feedback received about my excessive and brutal criticism of human ways). First of all, who the heck is he!? He claims to be a former commercial and investment banker. Fine, good for him and the next seven generations of his family. I fail to understand his authority on a matter of Indian history, though. Frankly, had he provided references and citations, I might be kinder (and call his article “atrociously stupid”). Here is his article
for all to read. Really, Mint… tsk tsk tsk! Didn’t expect this from you!
Let me explain (else, it wouldn’t be like Eroteme) why I think his article is pathetic. He is attempting to date the Kurukshetra battle. He actually doesn’t do it at all. He starts out with numbers appended with BC and then with a “Think why no one wants to place the Kurukshetra battle in that gap of 1,000 years. ” moves on to irrelevant topics. And then he jumps further away from his stated intent with a “Here’s what happened. There was an Indus Valley civilization which belonged to the Vedic culture.” And the basis? If the Indus Valley civilisation was Vedic, then how do you support your claim of Dravidian language of the Indus Valley? No Vedic text is written in Dravidian language? He actually says “That’s why Tamil is the oldest of all present Indian languages and Tamilians were perhaps the first Sindhis! After all they drank jhalam (Tamil for water) from the river that has this name.” (supposedly referring to Jhelum/Jhelam). I can’t believe that someone could be so stupid!! Jhalam is not Tamil. It is Sanskrit (Jhala). Tamil is known to add the nasal “um” to most words (Paathram, Vaaram, etc.) and that doesn’t make them Tamil. So many other Indian languages use the word Jhala for water. Are you then going to suggest that Assamese could have also been the language in Mohenjodaro? Secondly, Jhelum was never Jhelum till a while ago. Even in the time of Alexander’s invasion, it was called Hydaspes. In Vedic literature it is referred to as Vitasta. Mr. Ramaswami, you really assume that the reader has no other source to information than your article!?
Before I move on, I would like to dwell a bit on the numbers he quotes. He says the big bad Aryans invaded the Indus Valley between 1800-2000 and historians (who are they?) did not wish to place the battle between 1500 and 2500. Since the Aryans arrived on 23rd May 1800BC at half past seven, we can skip 1500-1800 as time when they were busy booking tickets (you will understand the relevance of railways further down this post). So they reach the station nearest to Mohenjodaro and start invading. Shall we say it took some time to finish it all off? 1801, perhaps? Bhishma was supposed to be the 12th in the line of kings starting with Bharata. If each king lasted about 70 years, then that means 840 years before Bhishma arrived. Then he grows old, witnesses one generation of kings and then the other which includes Mr. P. Arjuna and Mr. D. Duryodhana. So PA and DD arrive around 900 years after a proper establishment of an Aryan kingdom. But wait, our in-house genius says: “Think why no one wants to place the Kurukshetra battle in that gap of 1,000 years. It would tantamount to admitting that the Pandavas and/or the Kauravas were the “invaders” or “outsiders” — the Aryans who displaced the then flourishing Indus Valley civilization and pushed it south to become the Dravidian culture. This aspect has assumed political overtones and, hence, the denials and silence over it.” Which means that PA and DD (who were both Aryans, so who is pushing whom where is something I don’t understand. Did the loser get the Dravidian trophy and learn Tamil to boot?) were around fighting in 1800. Wokay! So grand-grand-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g daddy Bharata was there from 2700BC and the Vedas and Vedic Literature was there before him. What about the Ramayana (it is not pronounced as rum-eh-yaaanaaa but raaamaaa-yuh-n) and the fact that there were rishis and Gods before that? So we are nearly pushing 3200BC for the invasion making the Indus Valley exist at least from 4200BC. That just didn’t happen!!! To assume that the Pandavas and Kauravas chased out the Harappans is stupid because we forget that there were generations before them, all well established in Hastinapur. And then there is Ramayana to make matters worse.
So, if Tamil should be the language of Harrapa and the Indus Valley civilisation was Vedic, how come there is no Tamil in the Vedic texts? How come Tamil and scripts on the Indus seals are as alike as I am with Brad Pitt (actually, if you think about it… 😀 )?
Then the genius Mr. Ramaswami says: “The biggest give-away is the “18-day” war. Military historians will tell you man’s ability to sustain a battle proper (sieges are not battles) for more than a day came only when railways made logistics feasible.” Jesus H Christ!! Are you on a mission to unsurpassed stupidity!? What give-away!? I am sure you must have felt really happy writing that down! The Battle of Thermopylae lasted 3 days and no, Leonidas didn’t use the Grand Trunk Express to get there! Think of a small army of 300+ people being sustained for 3 days without proper ration and compare that with a planned battle of the Kurukshetra. What about the Battle of Hydaspes (the great one fought by Alexander and Porus)? Seems like more than one day to me, and again, Alexander had done no bulk booking on the Transcontinental Express! Then Mr. Ramaswami goes ahead to say: “The “day” in the Kurukshetra battle is evidently metaphorical. For, it was oral history. It was more likely to have been 18 months or even 18 years — just the time needed for a migration-cum-invasion to displace a culture and a civilization 3,500 years ago.” Have you read the Mahabharata, Mr. Ramaswami? The author doesn’t give vague details spread over 18 years. They clearly inform you as to who the commander-in-chief for each day was and what happened at the start and end of each day. Are you telling me that Duryodhana grew 18 years wiser before being killed? No seriously, what did you have for breakfast before writing this article?
The whole Aryan invasion theory, according to me, is bullcrap (and I felt the same when I first read it more than a decade ago in school). There is no evidence of invasion related destruction in the Indus Valley excavation projects. That a small invading tribe could dislocate an entire civilisation is far-fetched to me. If the Battle of Hydaspes is any clue, Alexander found it difficult to sustain an invasion beyond India with all the force that he had mustered. I am sure an older organisation with lesser planning (well, they were supposed to be barbaric and nomadic and all things bad) couldn’t have carried out a large scale evacuation of a civilisation that spanned several hundreds of square miles. Secondly, everyone is fixated on the horse thingy. No horse in India, but now there is horse so let’s have horse-sh** and say that Aryans came on horses and hence we have horses. Firstly, the “no horse” idea is under threat
. Secondly, how come no horse bones are found there? If the Aryans invaded then they should have let at least one horse die there in the valley, right? and where are zee bones?
Nevertheless, we shall keep out doubts regarding the Aryan invasion theory. Let us even assume that did happen. Like I care. How on earth does that give Mr. Ramaswamy the right to conclude this: “If the Mahabharat involved the horse-people, then what about the more antiquated Ramayan, which talks not only of horses, but also the famed Asvamedha yagna? Was Ram a Cossack, the most famed of all horse-people? Doesn’t “Valmiki” sound Russian, perhaps a corruption of Vladmikhailovich, who lived in the present Russian town named Sverdlovsk, formerly perhaps Swargalok? If we don’t accept the invasion theory, then the only other explanation is that both Mahabharat and Ramayan took place outside India, on the Russian steppes, and their stories have come down to us as oral histories through the horse-people, which were then refined to suit cultural and later ethnic, social and political agendas.” Huh!?
Valmiki sounds Polish to me or Hawaiin (well, Wiki is Hawaiin). Swargalok sounds Swedish to me. Hanuman could be German Hannemann. Angada could be the Swedish Ansgar. Ravana sounds Irish to me (Ronan). Ramaswami sounds outrageously stupid to me. Russian steppes indeed!! Please do us a favour and read the Mahabharata!
If you, Mr. Ramaswami, are genuinely interested in timing the Battle of Kurukshetra and then study the astronomical references in the various chapters (esp. Bhishma Parva). There are mentions of eclipses occurring in a gap of 13 days. The retrograde motion of planets are also mentioned. The SuryaSiddhanta (it is not a costly book, Mr. Ramaswami; even I posses a copy)provides sufficient means of calculation to figure out when all of these could have occurred together. No, this is not astrology but astronomy. I am fine with using the latest scientific gadgetry too. There are several resources available online as well as various research institutes (BORI in Pune, being one). Please refer to the work of serious indologists like Dr. Witzel.
I really wish Mint hadn’t published this article. I agree it is not their view, but still.