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India forever India
by Aju Mukhopadhyay Bookmark and Share
 
India, a vast country like a continent, containing almost all the physical, mineral and environmental varieties of the world, a fountain head of spirituality, was the cradle of one of the oldest civilizations on earth. I think like Swami Vivekananda that it was the swing of my childhood, grove of my youth and it is the Varanasi or the divine refuge of my mature age. I wish to share Rabindranath Tagore’s emotion that my birth here is significant. Born in your lap, nurtured by you, living in different parts of your body, I shall die somewhere in you, O Mother! 
 
Rig-Veda is the first primary source and available record of Indian civilization. Of this Sri Aurobindo said,
“Rig-Veda is itself the one considerable document that remains to us from the early period of human thought of which the historic Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries were the failing remnants, when the spiritual and psychological knowledge of the race was concealed, for reasons now difficult to determine, in a veil of concrete and material figures and symbols which protected the sense from the profane and revealed it to the initiated.” (Veda/5-6)
Bounded by the mighty mountains on the north, extending to the north-west and north-east, peninsular India has sea on all other sides. These are the natural boundaries for millennia. It was the birthplace of Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana and Mahabharata, the cultural and intellectual products of the great Aryan civilization. Mohenjo-daro and Harappan sites may be some of the physical remains of the same and related civilization. There has not been any proof of Aryan invasion and destruction of any preexisting Dravidian civilization. With Innumerable admixture of peoples from other countries and cultures India remains great throughout the ages. It has spread its cultural fragrance to other corners of the globe but seldom invaded others to spread its territories. Though not politically, culturally and physically Bharat has ever remained one; a unified country, which is revered by her sons as the mother.
“I look upon my country as the Mother. I adore her. I worship Her as the Mother. What would a son do if a demon sat on his mother’s breast and started sucking her blood? Would he quietly sit down to his dinner, amuse himself with his wife and children, or would he rush out to deliver his mother?” (Sri Aurobindo/82)
Rig-Veda keeps the secret of herself in it, to be treasured by the flowing humanity.
 
Efforts to Desecrate Ancient Indian heritage foiled 
 
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the ruling British scholars took special interest in finding the truth of ancient India. They made indepth study of Sanskrit language and its relation with other European groups of languages. Their similarities led them to name the whole group of languages as Indo-European language of which Aryan comprised the leading part. After the discovery of Harrappa and Mohenjo-Daro sites, known as the Indus Valley Civilisation, the rulers and the like minded scholars found out, to satisfy their superiority, that Aryans were the people originating in Europe spread to India and other areas who destroyed the Dravidian or the Indus Valley Civilisaiton.

Beginning with Mortimar Wheeler numbers of foreign scholars took interest to prove that India had the Dravidian people and other ignoramuses like hill living tribes who were driven out by the superior Aryan people. Many Indian scholars too helped them in explaining and elaborating such theories. Frederick Max Muller, the German scholar living in England, favoured specially by none of the two countries, took great interest in proving the above theory with apparent show of educating and civilising India with the aim of and by way of conversion to Christian religion. Historians and Indologists like Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, R. K. Mookerjee, D. D. Kosambi, Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, K. D. Sethna, N. Rajaram, Romila Thapar, and many others were and are on the job of elucidating the Indian past.
 
Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900) was a great Indologist and scholar who twisted his scholarship, sometimes contradicting himself, to propagate his ideas for a distinct purpose of denigrating Indian past, to help getting it converted to Christianity. Professor Ratna Basu of Calcutta University in her paper “Max Muller’s Indology Revisited” observed, (Read at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata; 15-16 December, 2000). 
“If we survey his long life, we find India alone had been the centre of all his herculean intellectual efforts and outstanding academic creations. He tried to uproot our established perceptions of our own past and transplant new ones in their place. We had believed that our Vedas had a divine origin and had existed from eternity. He, by publishing for the first time the full text of the Rig-Veda along with the 14th century commentary by Sayana in six volumes between 1849 and 1873, tried to convince us that Rig-Veda was man made and that its antiquity did not go beyond 1200 B.C. We knew that Rig-Veda led us through a maze of multiplicity of cosmic deities to one ultimate reality, but Max Muller told us that Rig-Veda reflected the religious yearnings of a nature fearing primitive man and it neither represented polytheism, nor monotheism, rather henotheism, a word coined by him.”
She further wrote,
“Not that Max Muller was not aware of the hoary antiquity of the Rig-Veda. In his Autobiography, written in his last days and published after his death by his son, he admits: ‘As to the actual date of the Veda … if we were to place it at 5000 B.C. I doubt whether anybody could reduce such a date, while if we go back beyond the Veda, and come to measure the time required for the formation of Sanskrit, and of the Proto-Aryan language, I doubt very much whether even 5000 years would suffice for that. There is an unfathomable depth in language, layer following after layer, long before we arrive at roots, and what a time and what an effort must have been required for their elaboration, and for elaboration of the ideas expressed in them.’ [1]
“Max Muller knew the thing at heart but wrote the opposite and talked controversially. His design is clear from his letter to his wife in 1866, ‘I am convinced, though I shall not live to see that day, that this edition of mine and the translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India … . It is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last three thousand years.’ (Max Muller/V.1)
“In a speech delivered in the hall of St. John’s College on request of the Vicar of St. Giles in 1887 he said. ‘When I undertook to publish for the University Press a series of translations of the most important of these sacred books, one of my objects was to assist the missionaries. What shall we think of a missionary who came to convert us, and who had never read our Bible . . .’ (MaxMuller/V.2/455)
While he wrote for his own purpose it struck the right cord in another heart without his knowing.

Sri Aurobindo’s biographer writes,
“While reading Max Muller’s translations in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ series, he came across the idea of self or Atman. This struck him as some reality and he decided in his mind that Vedanta has something that is to be realized in life.” (Sri Aurobindo/35)
It will not be out of place to add the address of Lord Macaulay to the British Parliament on 2 February, 1835 to view the similarity of their purpose.
“I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is beggar, who is a thief, such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that, I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and ummariz heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.” (Web)
Taking a clue from Professor Asko Parpola of the University of Helsinki, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu made huge propaganda in favour of Tamil language and covertly of the community for his political purpose which was resented later by other personalities of similar importance. True that Tamil is one of the oldest extant languages of which some links were discovered by professor Parpola with the Indus Valley scripts which remains, in spite of all claims so far, undeciphered. Asko Parpola was awarded ‘Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award’ on 23 June 2010 by the President of India at Chennai with much fanfare.

Let us quote from the speech given by Parpola on the occasion, as reported by a newspaper:
“‘While Tamils were entitled to ‘some pride’ for having preserved so well the linguistic heritage of the Indus valley civilization, Tamil was not alone in India in possessing a rich heritage’, Asko Parpola, Professor-Emeritus of Indology, Institute of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland, said on Wednesday. . . . ‘There are, of course, different opinions, but many critical scholars agree that even the Rig-Veda, collected in the Indus Valley about 1000 BCE, has at least half a dozen Dravidian loan words,’ he told a large gathering.” [2]
In the introductory part titled, “The Indus Civilization and its historical context”, Parpola, the author of the book writes, “No unambiguous information has been preserved to tell us the names of the Indus kings or their subjects, the name of the gods they worshipped, or even what language they spoke. The Harappan language and religion continue to be among the most vexing problems of South Asian protohistory.” (Parpola/ 3)
 
But inside the book he has the other story to tell following the footsteps of some early Western scholars with some details like,
“In the third millennium when the Aryan languages had probably not yet arrived and the Gangetic Valley had not yet become intensively cultivated . . . the Harappan languages are likely to have formed the majority of the South Asian population . . . . the Dravidian family is the best match for Harappan among the known non-Aryan families of long standing in South Asia . . . . about one-quarter of the entire population spoke Dravidian.” (Parpola/169)
He thought that the Aryan language did not arrive before1000 B.C.
 
Let us now come to Sri Aurobindo, the scholar, social thinker and philologist who was the greatest interpreter of Vedas as he linked up with the origin of it as seen or heard by the Rishis, the recorders of such Shruti, through his yogic power. He found out the symbolic meaning of the words of Veda and wrote them with elaborate explanation which was far from the ken of an archaeologist or a scholar. He wrote as if he visualizing the scene of awarding professor Parpola,
“The philologists have, for instance, split up, on the strength of linguistic differences, the Indian nationality into northern Aryan race and the southern Dravidian, but sound observation shows a single physical type with minor variations pervading the whole of India from Cape Comorin to Afghanistan. Language is therefore discredited as an ethnological factor. The races of India may be all pure Dravidians, if indeed such an entity as a Dravidian race exists or ever existed, or they may be pure Aryans, if indeed such an entity as an Aryan race exists or ever existed, or they may be a mixed race with one predominant strain, but in any case, the linguistic division of the tongues of India into the Sanskrit and Tamilic counts for nothing in that problem. Yet so great is the force of attractive generalisations and widely popularized errors that all the world goes on perpetuating the blunder talking of the Indo-European races, claiming or disclaiming Aryan kinship and building on that basis of falsehood the most far-reaching political, social or pseudo-scientific conclusion.” (Veda/553-554)
Let us read some more pieces out of the vast work he did on the Veda.
“The symbolism of the Veda depends upon the image of the life of man as a sacrifice, a journey and a battle. The ancient Mystics took for their theme the spiritual life of man, but, in order both to make it concrete to themselves and to veil its secrets from the unfit, they expressed it in poetical images drawn from the outward life of their age.” (Veda/ 175)
 
“Secret words that have kept indeed their secret ignored by the priest, the ritualist, the grammarian, the pundit, the historian, the mythologist, to whom they have been words of darkness or seals of confusion and not what they were to the supreme ancient forefathers and their illumined posterity . . .” (Veda/202)
These are the words of revelation by the yogi and the greatest interpreter of the Veda. If there are half a dozen Tamil loan words in Sanskrit language there are hundreds and hundreds of Sanskrit words in all the languages of South India. See everywhere; in personal names, names of shops and institutions and parks, in songs where they love to add Sanskrit words; in every temple Vedic chanting is done. Even when attempts were made to appoint priest from the common folk in Tamil Nadu it was resisted vehemently and the court had to disallow it.

Again in October 2011 the Madras High Court has dismissed a writ petition challenging the engagement of security guards from the pool run by other religious denomination for a temple under its jurisdiction, telling that even a contractor cannot be engaged if it is run by other religionists as the temple is Hindu temple and it is a matter of their faith; it is not a state affair.

Sanskrit is the backbone, the flowing blood in all Indians; they love it with the love for their regional tongues. It is the source of the Mother Tongue of most of the north Indian languages. Ancient India still runs through the veins of India as the river Saraswati flows unseen. Indian people are the same with innumerable variations due to huge admixture in the past and present but basically, culturally India is one. Any fissiparous tendency and attempt is doomed to failure. Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Rabindranath Tagore, M. K. Gandhi, Radhakrishnan, K.D. Malavya, Jawharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad and host of other great names in the nineteenth and twentieth century were the voices of integration and unity. Going forward in tune with the past, breaking from it whenever it is obscure and obsolete, is our holy aim.
 
Speaking about the vigour and achievement of India in the past Sri Aurobindo observed,
“Not only was India in the first rank in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, surgery, all the branches of physical knowledge which were practiced in ancient times, but she was, along with the Greeks, the teacher of the Arabs from whom Europe recovered the lost habit of scientific enquiry and got the basis from which modern science started. In many directions India had the priority of discovery,- to take only two striking examples among a multitude, the decimal notation in mathematics or the perception that the earth is a moving body in astronomy,- cala prithvi sthira bhati, the earth moves and only appears to be still, said the Indian astronomer many centuries before Galileo.” (Indian Culture/67)
In general, he said,
“The ancient Indian culture attached quite as much value to the soundness, growth and strength of the mind, life and body as the old Hellenic or the modern scientific thought, although for a different end and a greater motive.” (Indian Culture/427-428)
The soul of Indi has survived all barbaric onslaughts for two thousand years. In the concluding part-4 of his ‘Indian Polity’ Sri Aurobindo’s ever positive mind ummarized his long discourse on India. He said,
“India has never been nationally and politically one. India was for close on a thousand years swept by barbaric invasions and for another thousand years in servitude to successive foreign masters . . . . (Indian Culture/363) 
He further analysed,
“The problem that presented itself at the beginning was that of a huge area containing more than a hundred kingdoms, clans, peoples, tribes, races, in this respect another Greece, but a Greece of an enormous scale, almost as large as modern Europe.” (Indian Culture/366) 
The whole of the continent was divided into many kingdoms or different divisions, there arose no question of political unity except under some great or powerful kings who won and unified as it happened during reign of Asoka, during the Mughal period and during the British period. India has peculiar mental and spiritual make up. This Sri Aurobindo explains,
“The whole basis of Indian mind is its spiritual and inward turn, its propensity to seek the things of the spirit and the inner being first and foremost and to look at all else as secondary, dependent, to be handled and determined in the light of the higher knowledge and as an expression, a preliminary or field or aid or at least a pendent to the deeper spiritual aim,- a tendency therefore to create first on the inner plane and afterwards in its other aspects. This mentality and this consequent tendency to create from within outwards being given, it was inevitable that the unity India first created for herself should be the spiritual and cultural oneness.” (Indian Culture/366)
He further explained that Rome and Greece though militarily unified, could not endure. He did not find a fault in Indian mind, rather a special trend he found in it:
“It is due to this original peculiarity, to this indelible spiritual stamp, to this underlying oneness amidst all diversities that if India is not yet a single organized political nation, she still survives and is still India.
 
“After all, the spiritual and cultural is the only enduring unity and it is by a persistent mind and spirit much more than by an enduring physical body and outward organization that the soul of a people survives.” (Indian Culture/366-67)
Notes
1. Max Muller, My Autography. Indian reprint, N. Delhi, 2002, pp. 120-121. Published in ‘Dialogue’; a quarterly journal of Astha Bharati. January – March, 2008. V. 9. No.3
2.The Hindu. Chennai, dated 24 June 2010
 
Work Cited
1. The Life of Sri Aurobindo. A. B. Purani. Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department. 1978. Fourth Edition.
2. The Secret of the Veda. Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry; SABCL, Sri Aurobindo Ashram. 1971. V.10.
3. Life & Letter. Max Muller. Asian Education Service. 2005. V.1 and V.2
4. Deciphering The Indus Script. Asko Parpola. New Delhi; Replica Press Pvt. Ltd. 2000. p.3
5. The Foundations of Indian Culture. Sri Aurobindo. Pondicherry; SABCL, Sri Aurobindo Ashram. V.14. 
 
2-Oct-2012
More by :  Aju Mukhopadhyay
 
Views: 1062
Article Comment Thanks for an inspiring and informative write up, Aju da.Regards.
T.S.Chandra Mouli
10/07/2012
Article Comment
Thanks to the editor for aptly publishing it.
Aju Mukhopadhyay
10/03/2012
 
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