Feb 21, 2024
Feb 21, 2024
Sri Aurobindo, the seer of modern India, blamed new trails in several worlds of human enterprise and had followers of signal eminence in many of them. Some made their mark in more than one sphere of activity. Integral Yoga and Overhead Poetry are two such areas in which a number of luminaries have left their mark. No follower of Sri Aurobindo, however, has not only penetrated these areas but also ventured into territories such as science and history. Here is where K.D. Sethna, or Amal Kiran as he was named by his Master, stands distinctly apart. This remarkable mind has taken virtually all knowledge for its domain and the clear ray of his piercing insight has probed not only profound issues of philosophy, such as the question of free-will or the spirituality of the future, but has investigated Einsteinian physics, detected Shakespeare's mysterious Dark Lady, Mr. W.H. and the Rival Poet, published 750 pages of poetry and followed the approach of Sri Aurobindo in plumbing the riches of European literature and the practice of Integral Yoga. However, that which is unique is his signal contribution to historiography. Here I shall not go into his remarkable investigations into Jewish history to fix the date of the Exodus, or into the question of the Immaculate Conception which patiently awaits a publisher of vision and courage. My attempt will be to highlight Amal Kiran's deep-delving reconstruction of ancient Indian history. The most important contribution in the midst of all this analysis of archaeological evidence is Sethna's bringing home to the reader how the naturalistic interpretations of western scholars fail to hang together if the Rigveda is studied as a whole and that the only approach which makes total sense is the mystic or spiritual one shown by Sri Aurobindo in The Secret of the Veda. The Rigvedic verse is most telling: "He who knows only the outward sense is one who seeing sees not, hearing hears not.(10.71.4)" The foes of the Rigvedics arc neither non-Aryans nor, as Parpola would have it, an earlier band of immigrated Aryans. They are anti-divine forces opposing the spiritual inspiration sought after by the "Aryan'", that is, "the striver", the aspirant. The forts arc symbols of occult centers of resistance to this quest after die "cows", that is streams of enlightenment flowing from the Sun of Truth and the Dawn of inner revelation. Sethna presents an excellent explication of the famous Battle of Ten Kings passage to demolish Parpola's hypothesis of two waves of Aryans disrupting the Indus Civilization and also shows how utterly wrong Parpola is in setting in opposition the Asura and the Deva, for in the Rigveda the Deva does not cease to be the Asura, except in some very late compositions. Sethna's acute perception points out basic errors in Parpola's data such as Indra never being referred to as Asura except in the late Book Ten.
It is Sethna's characteristic that even in this most intellectual pursuit, the dissection of the vexed questions concerning the Harappa Culture, his inspiration is drawn from Sri Aurobindo. Repeatedly he returns to this fountain-head for sustaining his arguments, building firmly on his faith in the infallibility of the seer-vision of the Avatar of the Supramental.
An implacable honesty is what places Sethna head-and-shoulders above scholars setting out to prove a preconceived thesis. Despite having ready to hand so useful an opinion as Pusalkar's that the Sanskrit sindhu occurring in Assurbanipal's library refers to Indian cotton and is the source for the Arabic satin, Greek sindon and Hebrew sadin, which becomes evidence for trade between Harappa and Mesopotamia and of an Aryan element in the Harappan Culture, Sethna was not satisfied. It struck him as peculiar that where the Sanskrit karpasa, cotton, produced Hebrew and Greek analogues, that same product should be given a different name in Assyrian, Hebrew and Greek. So he wrote to the world's foremost Assyriologist, S.N. Kramer who informed him that the Akkadian word was not sindhu at all butsintu, referring to woolen garments and having no relationship at all with India or the Indus! Kramer also denied that the Greek sindon and the Hebrew sadin could be equated with sintu or sindhu. Thus, what had seemed to be a sure linguistic proof of Aryanism in Harappan Culture was exposed through Sethna's relentless quest after truth to be a misreading of the Akkadian text by Pusalkar, although thereby Sethna lost a major support for his thesis. In the process, he also corrected a major misconception prevailing among our scholars regarding this word.
When Sethna approached H.D. Sankalia with the first draft of his The Harappa Culture and the Rigveda, that doyen of Indian archaeologists pointed out the single weak point in the thesis: The lack of any evidence of Vedic Aryan culture from Sind and Punjab belonging to the 4000-2000 B.C. bracket. That was in 1963. Sethna did not rush into print ignoring this solitary flaw. He waited patiently for well over a decade-and-a-half till the necessary archaeological evidence surfaced from excavations to substantiate his intellectually flawless arguments.
This relentless dedication in the pursuit of truth and the uncompromising sincerity are features intrinsic to Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga which shine forth so radiantly in Amal Kiran.
In Karpasa in Prehistoric India Sethna investigated the use of cotton in prehistoric India for arriving along a different route with additional evidence at the same conclusion that he had put forward in The Problem of Aryan Origins: The Rigvedic Culture precedes the Harappan; the Indus Valley Civilization contains Aryan elements. A clinching argument is evolved by Sethna from the fact of cotton being first mentioned in the oldest Sutras. If the Rigvedic Aryans flourished in the Indus Valley after the cotton-cultivating Harappans, how is it that all the Vedas, Brahmans, Aranyakas and early Upanishads do not know karpasa. Cotton is even found at sites deeper inland in Gujarat, Maharashtra and near Delhi dated c. 1330-1000 B.C. This is very much after the alleged incursion around 1500 B.C. of Rigvedic Aryans. Such a continuous absence of the mention of a product argues for dating the Vedas before the cotton-knowing Harappa Culture. Here he also suggested that clues to the Indus script might be found in potters' marks found in pre-Harappan and Aryan sites, proved that Mulukha of Sumerian records is Harappa and that the Biblical Ophir is Sopara. Each of these warrants serious follow-up by historians not only of Indian prehistory, but of Mesopotamian and Jewish history as well.
The second edition of the important work on Aryan Origins became necessary because in 1987 there was a recrudescence from within India and from Finland of the pernicious Aryan invasion theory which is at the root of the north-south, Aryan-Dravidian divide that raises its ugly head time and again in India.
The most important examination in this new edition relates to the question of the presence of the horse and the spoked wheel in the Harappa culture. The circle with six radials within seen on several Harappan seals is not found in Sumerian tablets or Egyptian hieroglyphics as a sun-symbol (which is what I. Maha-devan et. al. argue it represents). The damaged seal showing a man standing astraddle on spoked wheels suggests the presence of a spoked-wheel chariot. Moreover, S.R. Rao's finding at Lothal of a drawing on a potsherd of a figure standing on two wheels resembling the paintings of Assyrian charioteers is a clinching piece of evidence. Even more conclusive is the fact that the C-14 date for this damaged seal is 1960 B.C., long before the alleged invasion of Aryan cavalry that supposedly occurred around 1500 B.C.
Sethna shows that Asko Parpola, the Finnish scholar, is wrong in stating that no evidence of horse-bones is available in the Harappa Culture. At Rana Ghundai's pre-Harappan stratum horse's teeth have been found much before 2000 B.C. The same Rana Ghundai IIIc Culture exists at low levels of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. From the opposite angle, no evidence of the horse has been discovered in the excavations in Punjab and Haryana in post-Harappan sites - which should have been die case if the Aryans brought the horse and the Rigveda into India around 1500 B.C. - while equine bones have been found of that date from both Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Sethna quotes the 1980 report from G.R. Sharma on excavations in the valley of the Belan and Son revealing evidence at the Neolithic sites of the domesticated horse as well as the wild horse dated between 8080 B.C. and 5540 B.C. at Koldihwa and Mahagara. Moreover, there is the 1990 report of K.R. Alur identifying horse bones dated to c. 1800-1500 B.C. in repeated excavation at Hallur in Karnataka, before the supposed Aryan invasion. Alur has pointed out that the metacarpals allegedly of the domestic ass found in Mohenjodaro and Harappa are definitely not of the ass and are possibly of the smaller size horse. Therefore, the Aryans whom Parpola would like to immigrate into India around 1600-1400 B.C. cannot possibly have introduced the horse in the Deccan several centuries before their arrival. Sethna clinches his point by quoting the ardent invasionist, Mortimer Wheeler himself: "It is likely enough that camel, horse and ass were in fact all a familiar feature of the Indus caravans." Thus, lack of representation of the horse, like that of the camel, on the seals does not rule out their being in use in the Indus Civilization, particularly when their bones have been found much before the horse is supposed to have been introduced by the invading Aryans around 2000 B.C. If the horse is a conclusive sign of Aryan presence, men the report from Sharma proves that the Aryan was in India long before even the Harappan Civilization. Actually, even where picturisation is concerned, Sethna cites S.P. Shukla's account of a terracotta horse-like animal figurine with a saddle on its back from Balu in the Harappan urban phase.
Sethna could have rested content here. However, with the integrity that is so typical of him, he raises the question of what evidence there is of any trace of chariots in Neolithic times where remains of the domesticated horse have been found? Pointing out that in the Rigveda the chariot is not invariably horse-drawn, he draws attention to a pot from Susa showing an ox-drawn chariot similar to the Kulli ware of South Baluchistan with which trading existed. The Rigveda seems familiar with Baluchistan, as Parpola notes. Therefore, with the horse already present much before the Rigvedic time, and this illustration of a chariot, the probability of horse-drawn chariots becomes acceptable even in pre-Harappan times.
Sethna also takes on the eminent academician, Debiprasad Chattopadhyaya, and points out the contradictions in his assigning to Indra the role of the destroyer of the Indus Valley Civilization. Archaeologists have found overwhelming evidence, going back to much before the second millennium B.C., of heavy flooding of Harappan settlements. In Mohenjodaro itself there is evidence for at least five such floods, each lasting for several decades, even up to a century. Evidence has also been found of considerable rise in the coast-line of the Arabian Sea. Hence, there is no need at all to posit a horde of invading Aryans for demolishing imaginary dams where natural forces are found to be responsible. Chattopadhyaya also fails to notice that whatever weapons Indra is mentioned as using are described clearly in the same hymns as being of symbolic nature. Similarly, the material objects demolished are also symbolic. Firstly, the Rigveda gives mighty forts not only to the enemies but also to the Aryans, and these forts surpass anything that has been found in archaeology of that time (ninety-nine or hundred in number, made of stone or metal). Secondly, if the invasion came from the north, how is it that instead of the northern Harappan sites it is the southern Mohenjodaro which shows a noticeable decline in material prosperity? Moreover, even here there is no settlement at all over its ruins, which is peculiar if the Aryans destroyed it.
The coup de grace is administered with evidence from the undersea excavations at Dwaraka, where the submergence has been dated to about 1400 B.C., tallying with what the Mahabharata and the Harivamsa state regarding this event following Krishna's death. If the Kurukshetra war took place around this time, surely the period of the Rigveda will have to be considerably anterior to it and can by no means be around 1500 B.C. as the invasionists would like to have it! Hence, there is no question of invading Aryans destroying the Harappa Culture a mere hundred years before the Kurukshetra war. The Rigveda, therefore, necessarily precedes the Harappa Culture which ended around the middle of the second millennium B.C. Thus, Sethna shows conclusively that all available evidence sets the end of the Indus Civilization quite apart from any violent destruction by Rigvedic Aryans.
In 1988 came another major paper from Asko Parpola on the coming of the Aryans to India and the cultural-ethnic identity of the Dasas. Parpola based his hypothesis of Rigvedic Aryan movement from Swat to Punjab around 1600-1400 B.C. on the Mitanni treaty and the Kikkuli chariot-horse training manual. However, neither document has the word "Arya", nor does the recitation of the names of deities conform to the Rigvedic turn of phrase, as Sethna perceptively notes. Linguistic study shows that there is a large gap between the Rigvedic epoch and the time of the Mitanni document whose language is found to be middle-Indie and not Indo-Iranian or Old Indo-Aryan as supposed initially.
Sethna's eagle eye spots the inner contradiction in Parpola's hypothesis. Parpola feels that the Harappans spoke proto-Dravidian and not Indo-European because the horse is absent from the seats and figurines. Yet, he characterizes the chalcolithic cultures of the Banas Valley and Malawa (Navdatoli) as Aryan although there too the horse is conspicuously absent. Further, when Parpola asserts that Pirak horsemen first brought the horse into use into India he forgets that no horse-bones have been found at Pirak at all! He also makes the mistake of equating a possible Aryan presence in Swat with Rigvedic Aryanism in arguing that there was a horse-knowing culture's incursion from Swat into India which was a Rigvedic invasion. Sethna shows that while the brick-built nature of the fire-altars found in Swat equates them with those in Kalibangan and the Harappa Culture, this sets them apart from the Rigvedic which is innocent of brick. Use of silver is mentioned by Parpola as a feature of the Namazga V culture which he claims to be Aryan and from where Rigvedic Aryanism was brought into India. But, points out Sethna, the Rigvedic period does not know silver at all. He shows that Parpola is wrong in his understanding of what black metal,shywmayas of the Atharvaveda is. It is certainly not iron, but an alloy of copper and tin, while ayas of the Rigveda is copper. Even in the later Shatapatha Brahmana, there is no knowledge of iron, lohayas or red metal being copper, ayas resembling gold being brass. Hence the Rigveda is considerably anterior to die iron age which Parpola fixes for it in Pirak c, 1100 B.C.
Parpola next uses the cultivation of rice for the first time in the Indus Valley as a sign of Rigvedic Aryanism invading India in the post-Harappan period. However, rice is already present in several Harappan sites within and outside the Indus Valley, while it is unknown to both the Rigveda and the Avesta. Therefore, Sethna is quite right in claiming that the Rigveda precedes the Harappa Culture and definitely the post-Harappan Pirak phase off. 1800 B.C. Even the PGW type of pottery, with its traits of rice cultivation, is absent along the route supposedly taken by immigrating Aryans. The latest excavations (1976-1982) by J.P. Joshi indicate that PGW culture is an indigenous development without any break from the local proto-historic culture and is not associated with invading Aryans from the west.
Sethna marshals powerfully persuasive arguments in favor of the Rigveda being, for all practical purposes, autochthonous to India, using recent statements from Colin Renfrew pointing out that nothing in the Veda hints at any intrusion. The Rigveda repeatedly alludes to ancient seers of hoary antiquity but never speaks of any immigration nor mentions any previous habitat. Sethna's incisive intellect fastens upon every possible objection that might be raised against the great antiquity proposed for the Rigveda. As a particular verse carries a reference to camels, he points out that there has to be some evidence of adequate antiquity of the domesticated camel for his hypothesis to be proven. He locates such archaeological evidence going back to the third millennium B.C. To this he adds the negative argument that silver has been known from 4000 B.C. but is not known to the Rigveda, which, therefore, must precede this date. Again, the earliest occurrence of cultivated rice is dated to Neolithic Mahagara and Koldihwa c. 6810-5780 B.C. Sethna prefers to deduct 240 — this is the solitary ad hoc element in his otherwise sound argumentation besides the gratuitous identification of Talmena with tala-mina for proposing the tribe of Minas from Talmena colonizing Sumeria - and come to 5300 which fits in with his proposition that the Rigveda would begin c. 5500 B.C. and be ignorant of rice while knowing the horse well as the Neolithic sites have the horse-bones whose C-14 dating is 6700 B.C.
Sethna finds such references existing in Books 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8. He also disproves Parpola's idea that Varuna entered the Pantheon at a later date than Indra and is originally foreign to the Rigveda, and demolishes E.W. Hales's thesis that the Asuras were human lords.
Having proved that the Rigveda is indigenous to India, that there is no justification for interpreting it as a war between invading Aryans and autochthonous Dravidians, the former enslaving the latter — a concept fostered by the foreign scholars which has bred so much bitterness in south India — Sethna ventures into what can only be described as high adventure in his radical reconstruction of ancient Indian chronology in Ancient India in a New Light? To summaries his findings in brief, Sethna marshals evidence from the Puranas and archaeology to argue that the Sandrocottus of Megasthenes could not have been the Mauryan king, but was the founder of the Gupta Dynasty. I had pointed out to him after he had completed the first part of the work that unless the Asokan epigraphs could be tackled convincingly, his new chronology would break down. Sethna proceeded to do this also over 300 pages of a closely argued thesis pushing Asoka back to 950 B.C. and allocating to the Gupta Empire the period 315 B.C. - A.D. 320.
Sethna's 606 page tome, with a 15 page bibliography and a 23 page index, is an outstanding instance of ratiocination proceeding inexorably from a chronological absurdity fastened upon unerringly by the clear ray of his perception. Pulakesin IPs Aihole inscription of 634 A.D. shows Indian chronology in vogue fixing 3102 B.C. as the date of the start of the Kaliyuga, while also referring to the Saka Era of 78 A.D. According to modern historians, this is the time of the Gupta Empire, when this system of chronology was made up by the Puranic writers. Now, according to the Puranas the Guptas come around the last quarter of the 4th century B.C. If the modern dating of the Guptas is accepted, it means that the Puranics, face to face with the Gupta kings, placed them in antiquity six hundred years in the past! It is peculiar that so obvious an absurdity should have escaped our own historians. Can we help concluding that we are still unable to rid our minds of the overpowering influence of the dismissal by western scholars of our own ancient records: The Puranas? They believe in the historicity of Homer and excavate Troy, but will not allow that same probability to the Puranas simply because they speak of a civilized antiquity in a colonized country when the western man was living in caves, and that is unacceptable from a subject race. On the grounds of the reductio ad absurdum of the Puranics placing their contemporary monarchs six centuries in the past, Sethna proposes that the Guptas referred to in the Puranas are the descendants of that Chandragupta whom Megastlienes refers to as Sandrocottus, contemporaneous with Alexander. Consequently, the Mauryan Chandragupta and his grandson Asoka needs must recede considerably farther into die past.
The rest of the book is a thrilling venture as Sethna daringly steers his slender craft through uncharted seas crossing one insuperable barrier-reef after another to reach a destination in whose existence he firmly believes. The most important of these is the supposed linking of the Greeks with Asoka. Sethna's penetrating insight reveals that the Asokan "yona raja" Amtiyoka of Rock Edict XIII cannot refer to a Greek king and that the dating of this edict proposed by Bhandarkar is quite mistaken even on the basis of the current chronology. Next the Asokan inscription in Greek and Aramaic at Kandahar is analyzed and the conclusion arrived at that the two inscriptions are not contemporaneous; that the Greek comes much after the Aramaic and, indeed, explicates it: That the "Yavanani" script referred to by Panini is this Aramaic script going back to the pre-9th century B.C. period. The Kandahar II and Laghlman Aramaic inscriptions are then taken up and proven to be much before the 3rd century B.C. as theorized at present. Finally, examining the evidence for the reigns of the Sungas, Kanvas and Satvahanas, Sethna arrives at 950 B.C. as the date of Asoka's accession.
The next challenge is harmonizing this with the wide-spread variety in traditions regarding Buddhist chronology (Ceylonese, Chinese, Tibetan, Arab, Puranic and theMilinda-panha and Rajatamngini). Sethna infallibly locates a sure guiding light to steer clear of this welter of confusion: Buddha's death has to be determined in terms of Asoka's accession and not the other way about. Thus, with the latter being fixed in 950 B.C., the nirvana is 218 years before that in 1168 B.C. and the death of Mahavira would be in 1165 B.C.
The argument of Ceylon being referred to in Asoka's inscriptions is demolished by Sethna who points out that this identification flouts all the literary and epigraphic data. "Tarnbapamni" and "Tambapamniya" are references to the far south in India. Coming to the Asokan monuments, he shows that the affinities are with Mesopotamia not with Achaemenid art, and that they carry on in the tradition of the realistic treatment of the Indus seals, the assembly hall of Mohenjodaro and the high polish of Harappan jewellery. From the other end of the spectrum, Megasthenes is analyzed to reveal that the references point to the Bhagavata Vaishnavite cult practiced by the Gupta Dynasty, certainly not to what is known of the Mauryas.
As in his work on the Aryan Origins, Sethna corrects major historical errors here too. One is regarding Fa-Hien who is widely accepted as having visited India during the reign of Chandragupta II. Sethna bluntly points out how generations of historians have simply assumed Fleet's chronology despite the pilgrim's records mentioning no king at all and the social conditions not tallying with whatever is known of the Gupta regime. Another such major twisting of chronology which has been unquestioningly accepted by modern historians is exposed when Sethna examines Al-beruni's travelogue to show that Fleet misrepresented the Arab visitor's categorical description of the Gupta Era as celebrating die end of a dynasty that had come to be hated and not the beginning of the dynasty! A third misconception is that the earliest Romandinarius (whence the Gupta dinam is dated) in India is of the last quarter of the first century B.C. Sethna shows that the earliest denarii go back to 268 B.C. and it is around 264 B.C. that Ptolemy II sent an emissary from Egypt to India. Therefore, the reference to dinam in the Gadhwa Stone inscription of the Gupta Era 88 can certainly be in 277 B.C. A fourth error corrected is that of identifying the Malawa Era of the Mandasor Inscription with the Vikrama Era. Sethna shows that all epigraphic evidence points to the identity of the Malawa Era with the Krita Era, and that the Vikrama Era has been gratuitously brought in just because it is convenient for the modern chronology of the Guptas. He shows that the Kumaragupta referred to here cannot chronologically be the Gupta monarch even following Fleet's calculations. By bringing in the other Mandasor inscription of Dattabhatta which refers to Chandra-gupta's son Govindagupta as alive in the Malawa year 535, Sethna shows that dating it by the Vikrama Era of 57 B.C. creates an impossible situation. He fixes the beginning of the Malawa Era at 711 B.C. This leads to two fascinating discoveries when linked with other Mandasor inscriptions: that the Malawa ruler Yaso-dharman (Malawa 589, i.e. 122 B.C.) might be the source of the legend of Vikramaditya; and that Mihirakula whom he defeated was a Saka and not, as supposed by historians without adequate evidence, a Huna. Sethna exposes yet another Fleetian conjecture regarding Skandagupta battling the Hunas by contacting the epigraphist D.C. Sircar and getting the astonishing admission that there is no such reference in the Junagarh inscription!
Some of the more remarkable findings in this work which need mention are: Devanampiyatissa of Ceylon dealt not with Asoka but with Samudragupta; the Kushana Dynasty imitated features of the Guptas on their coins instead of the other way about as historians argue: Al-beruni testifies to two Saka Eras, one of 57 B.C. probably commemorating Yasodharman's victory, and the other of 78 A.D. by Salivahana who was possibly of the Satavahana Dynasty; the Mehrauli Iron Pillar inscription is by Sandrocottus-Chandragupta-I whose term for the invading Greeks is shown to be "Vahlika" (outsiders from Bactria) which fills in the puzzling gap in Indian records of mention of the incursions by Alexander and Seleucus. It is the founder of the Guptas and not of the Mauryan Dynasty who stands firmly identified as Megasthenes's Sandrocottus.
Sethna provides an extremely valuable Supplement in which he uses the revised chronology posited by him for fixing the dates of the Kurukshetra War and the beginning of the Kaliyuga, traditionally dated to Krishna's death, at 1452/1482 B.C. and 1416/1446 B.C. respectively working back 8 or 9 generations of preceptors from Ashvalayana, a contemporary of Buddha, to Parikshit who was enthroned after Krishna's death. In another discussion, Sethna examines the Arthashastra and shows it as not having anything in common with Mauryan times as evidenced from the Asokan inscriptions, and being much closer to the royal titles and functionaries, use of Sanskrit and of terms like pmtyanta and Prajjunikas of the Gupta epigraphs and Megasthenes. He assigns to this work the period close to the pre-Gupta Junagarh Inscription of Rudradaman I in 479 B.C. A further examination of the religious date shows that Kautilya's work is in the interval between Panini and Patanjali, but closer to the former on account of the reference to the prevalence of worship of the Nasatya and the bracketing of an evil spirit Krishna with Kamsa recalling the asura Krishna of the Veda, which indicates a period prior to that of the Vasudeva cult recorded by Megasthenes. On this basis, the original Arthashastra is assigned by Sethna to c. 500 B.C., having clearly distinguished Kautilya the author of the work from Chanakya, the preceptor of the Maurya monarch. Here, too, Sethna corrects a widely prevalent mistake among our historians who have blindly followed Jacobi who compared Chanakya to Bismarck as Chancellor of the Empire. Sethna points out the facts: Chankya was instrumental in installing the Prime Minister of the Nandas, Rakshasa, to assume the same post with the Maurya king. Thus, if anyone, it is Rakshasa who is the Chancellor and not Chanakya.
This short survey cannot do justice to the magnitude of the contribution K.D. Sethna has made to the basic approach to Indian Pre-and-Proto-History as well as later historical periods. However, if it succeeds in giving some idea of how remarkable this effort has been in illuminating the dark backward and abysm of a critical portion of our antique time, and motivates those who are interested in our history to think afresh, untrammeled by preconceptions foisted by western scholars and their Indian counterparts over the last hundred years, it will be a consummation devoutly to be wished. That will also be a fitting tribute to the master-seer who has inspired such a phenomenal deep-delving, wide-ranging inquiry into the foundations of our past: Sri Aurobindo.
1. Sethna, K.D.: Karpasa in Prehistoric India: a chronological and cultural clue, Biblia Impex, New Delhi, 1984.
2. Scthna, K.D.: The Problem of Aryan Origins: from an Indian point of vien second enlarged edition, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 1992, p. 57.
3. Cf. 1 above.
4. Cf. 2 above, first edition, S & S Enterprises, Calcutta 1980.
5. Cf. 2 above.
6. Ibid., pp. 214-222.
7. Ibid., pp. 419-20.
8. Ibid., pp. 187-93.
9. Sethna, K.D.: Ancient India in a New Light, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 1989.
10. Ibid., pp. 513.
11. Ibid., pp. 543-5.
12. Ibid., pp. 546-589.
Sri Aurobindo, the seer of modern India, blamed new trails in several worlds of human enterprise and had followers of signal eminence in many of them. Some made their mark in more than one sphere of activity. Integral Yoga and Overhead Poetry are two such areas in which a number of luminaries have left their mark. No follower of Sri Aurobindo, however, has not only penetrated these areas but also ventured into territories such as science and history. Here is where K.D. Sethna, or Amal Kiran as he was named by his Master, stands distinctly apart. This remarkable mind has taken virtually all knowledge for its domain and the clear ray of his piercing insight has probed not only profound issues of philosophy, such as the question of free-will or the spirituality of the future, but has investigated Einsteinian physics, detected Shakespeare's mysterious Dark Lady, Mr. W.H. and the Rival Poet, published 750 pages of poetry and followed the approach of Sri Aurobindo in plumbing the riches of European literature and the practice of Integral Yoga. However, that which is unique is his signal contribution to historiography. Here I shall not go into his remarkable investigations into Jewish history to fix the date of the Exodus, or into the question of the Immaculate Conception which patiently awaits a publisher of vision and courage. My attempt will be to highlight Amal Kiran's deep-delving reconstruction of ancient Indian history.
The most important contribution in the midst of all this analysis of archaeological evidence is Sethna's bringing home to the reader how the naturalistic interpretations of western scholars fail to hang together if the Rigveda is studied as a whole and that the only approach which makes total sense is the mystic or spiritual one shown by Sri Aurobindo in The Secret of the Veda. The Rigvedic verse is most telling: "He who knows only the outward sense is one who seeing sees not, hearing hears not.(10.71.4)" The foes of the Rigvedics arc neither non-Aryans nor, as Parpola would have it, an earlier band of immigrated Aryans. They are anti-divine forces opposing the spiritual inspiration sought after by the "Aryan'", that is, "the striver", the aspirant. The forts arc symbols of occult centers of resistance to this quest after die "cows", that is streams of enlightenment flowing from the Sun of Truth and the Dawn of inner revelation. Sethna presents an excellent explication of the famous Battle of Ten Kings passage to demolish Parpola's hypothesis of two waves of Aryans disrupting the Indus Civilization and also shows how utterly wrong Parpola is in setting in opposition the Asura and the Deva, for in the Rigveda the Deva does not cease to be the Asura, except in some very late compositions. Sethna's acute perception points out basic errors in Parpola's data such as Indra never being referred to as Asura except in the late Book Ten.
More by : Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya