Sarasvati, life-stream of Bharatiya samskruti

Sarasvati river, civilization; Itihasa Bharati, history of Bharatam Janam

Sarasvati. 13th cent. CE, Hoysala style
Provenance: Barkur

Reclaiming bharatiya language studies

For one who has abandoned craving and is free from grasping, who is skilled in etymology and terms, knowing the groupings and sequences of letters, this is the final birth. This one is called the Great Being, the Great Sage. Dhammapada (24.19)

  • Peopling of south asia (Full text in pdf) Peopling of South Asia: investigating the caste-tribe continuum in India by Gyaneshwer Chaubey 1 *, Mait Metspalu 1, Toomas Kivisild 1 2, Richard Villems 11Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu and Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia 2Leverhulme Centre of Human Evolutionary Studies, The Henry Wellcome Building, University of Cambridge, UKemail: Gyaneshwer Chaubey (gyanc@ebc.ee) BioEssays, Volume 29, Issue 1 , Pages 91 – 100, Published Online: 22 Dec 2006
  • Abstract

    In recent years, mtDNA and Y chromosome studies involving human populations from South Asia and the rest of the world have revealed new insights about the peopling of the world by anatomically modern humans during the late Pleistocene, some 40,000-60,000 years ago, over the southern coastal route from Africa. Molecular studies and archaeological record are both largely consistent with autochthonous differentiation of the genetic structure of the caste and tribal populations in South Asia. High level of endogamy created by numerous social boundaries within and between castes and tribes, along with the influence of several evolutionary forces such as genetic drift, fragmentation and long-term isolation, has kept the Indian populations diverse and distant from each other as well as from other continental populations. This review attempts to summarize recent genetic studies on Indian caste and tribal populations with the focus on the information embedded in the socially defined structure of Indian populations. BioEssays 29: 91-100, 2007

  • Some excerpts:

     

    …Language shift. Language shift is a cultural process in which an expanding population changes their language of that of a surrounding population with only a minor contribution of that population genes.(25) This process makes for discordance between languages and genes and that largely hampers the journey of gene with language. An important process that has shaped the present (spatial) distribution of languages in South Asia is language shift by indigenous populations. The Mushar community is one of the best examples of language shift in India. This community is dispersed mainly in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and is known to have spoken the Mundari dialect of the Austro-Asiatic language family in the recent past.(91) But now they have by and large adopted Indo-European language from the surrounding populations. (Mushar literally means mouse eaters Hindi; Mus- ‘Mouse’, her-‘eater’). Some of them are still hunters and gatherers and continue to speak the Mundari language. Y chromosome and mtDNA studies on this population and neighboring Indo-European populations revealed an almost impermeable genetic boundary between them. This suggests that the cultural process in India is one where different communities live side by side, interchanging ideas, foods and goods but not genes. In certain areas, however, the juxtaposed communities are more or less independent of one another, kept separate by the hierarchal category in the caste system...

     

    The ongoing debate. . .

     

    The origin of the Indian caste system and the Indo-Aryan speaking populations is a matter of intense academic debate with its history going back to Sir William Jones, who, as a judge in the Presidency of Bengal, originally reported striking similarities between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin at the end of the 18th century. He suggested a common source for all these languages, while MaxMu¨ ller, another distinguished orientalist, added, a half century later, the argument that the Aryans might have migrated to India around 1500 BC. More than two centuries of extensive interdisciplinary scholarship, in particular after the 20th century discovery of the Indus Valley Civilization and the establishment of the main facts about the neolithization of South Asia, has greatly widened and enriched the panorama of the understanding of the peopling of South Asia in the global context. The study of classical markers put South Asia in between the populations from West and Southeast Asia.(25) Furthermore, the 1st principal component, in an analysis of 69 genes from 42 populations of Asia, explains 17.7% of the variation from southeast and East Asians into  India.(25) More recently, several genetic studies have added support to this theory.(47–51) Certain genetic variants were found to be shared among Indian and European populations. However, subsequent studies using more representative sample sizes and, importantly, a higher level of molecular resolution, have established that, even though Indian and West Eurasian populations share a common genetic ancestry in late Pleistocene, gene flow into India during the period of the proposed Aryan invasion has been minimal.(15,17,18,52) As yet the evidence is equivocal and there is no genetic signal for a major genetic component associated either with the spread of Indo-Aryan languages or the caste system within India.(53) The complex structure of the Indian caste system and its origin is another matter of dispute. The caste society definitely plays, and may well long have played, an essential role in the genetic and social structuring of South Asian populations.(54) The haploid genetic study of castes was, perhaps, started by a chain of papers relying on the idea of the male-mediated Indo-Aryan invasion, which supposedly pushed the  indigenous Dravidian populations southwards, and established the Aryans at the top of the caste hierarchy.(21,55,56) These studies suggested that the caste and tribal groups differ significantly in haplogroup frequencies. Moreover, caste groups were found more homogeneous for Y chromosome variation and more closely related to Central Asian groups than to Indian tribal or any other Eurasian groups.(56) These results might, however, have been affected by limited sampling and depth of analysis of Indian tribal and caste groups because other extended studies have failed to confirmthe general tribal distinction from the castes.(22) One important aspect of the Indian caste system, which has a substantial impact on the inferences that one can make from the caste/tribal genetic variation, is that the definition of the castes has been historically fluid. Specifically, the scheduled tribes have been gradually incorporated into the caste system as scheduled castes.(57) Yet, another question concerns the initial settlers of India. There are several studies which state that the Austro-Asiatic tribal groups represent the first settlers of India most closely.( 21,58,59)Basuet al.(21) suggested that haplogroupM2,which is one of the oldest Indian-specific mtDNA haplogroups,(18) is particularly frequent and diverseamongAustro-Asiatic speaking tribes of India. This argument was, however, based on an inaccurate assignment of the tribal samples into the M2 haplogroup on the basis of hypervariable segment I (HVS I) motif 16223–16319, which occurs independently in many different haplogroups. Moreover, because haplogroup M2 is spread across the borders of Indo-European, Dravidian and Austro- Asiatic language families and is shared by both tribal and caste communities,(52) it is problematic to relate the initial Palaeolithic settlers of India on the basis of certain linguistic affiliations…

      

    Conclusions

     

    Recent progress in the understanding of topology of phylogenetic trees of the haploid mtDNA and Y-chromosomal genomes combined with increasingly more detailed phylogeographic mapping of their crresponding branches globally and in the Indian subcontinent more specifically, conclusively show that the gene pool of South Asia is made up essentially from the same basic components as other non-African gene   pools while the local differentiation and long-term genetic isolation have provided numerous diverse local genetic variants stemming out from these founders. Most of the Indian-specific mtDNA haplogroups show coalescent times 40,000–60,000 YBP. Their virtual absence elsewhere in the world suggests only a limited gene flow out from the subcontinent over a long time span, probably since the first in situ expansion phase in Late Pleistocene. Further efforts are needed to reveal evolutionary, temporal and spatial trajectories of some Ychromosomal haplogroups, in particular that for haplogroup R, which is omnipresent in large  contiinental areas of Eurasia. This is particularly important because of an immediately apparent substantial overlap between the spread of Indo-European languages and NRY haplogroup R derivatives. In parallel, progress in molecular resolution of the mtDNA and Y-chromosomal genealogies allows identification of haplogroups, likely introduced to South Asia at later stages. A clear subset of mtDNA variants characteristic for East and Southeast Asia (Fig. 1a) are expectedly most frequent in northeastern provinces of India among populations speaking Tibeto-Burman languages. Yet the spectrum is more complex, revealing recent and, possibly, also earlier language shifts in different populations, as well as sex-specific admixture patterns.

    Several open and complex questions, such as the origin of caste (gothra) system, the arrival of the major language families and their spread in South Asia, need to be solved by combining different disciplines like archaeology, historical linguistics and genetics. In particular, new promising highthroughput technologies to study autosomal genetics of South Asian populations might well offer new insights into unsolved or poorly understood mysteries. The definition and comparison of present-day patterns of genetic variation in South Asia not only offer unique insights for a deep study of human evolutionary history but also provide the necessary population–genetic background that constitutes an important prerequisite for understanding the genetics of complex traits.

     

    References (run into 6 pages) 

  • Linguistic doctrine of IEL: "At some time in the second millennium BC, probably comparatively early in the millennium, a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. This is our linguistic doctrine, which has been held for over a century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion." Source: "Linguistic Prehistory of India" by Murray B. Emeneau, in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 98, No. 4 (Aug. 16, 1954), pp. 282-292 [Note: Bible is a doctrine, so is Indo-European Linguistics, a doctrine which is NOT falsifiable. How can someone call IEL a science?]
  • 'Reconstructions of proto-languages are signs of the Tower of Babel', Kazanas in: Sanskrit and Proto-Indo-European (2004) : " In this paper I argue that on the evidence of Sanskrit much of the rationale of indoeuropean comparative linguists may well be wrong and may need radical reconsideration: the three-grade ablaut (=vowel gradation) in Sanskrit, for example, seems much more convincing than the five-grade one proposed by indoeuropeanists; also the retroflex/cerebral consonants in Sanskrit may well have been original in Proto-Indo-European but lost in the other branches. I should clarify that with “Sanskrit” I mean Vedic as well and that although I consider this language (especially that of the Rgveda) to be closer to Proto-Indo-European than any other branch, I do not regard Vedic as the IE mother-tongue.1 In addition, the RV should now be placed firmly within the fourth millennium BC (Levitt 2003; Kazanas 2003, 1999). Edmund Leach wrote that after the discovery of the Indus-SarasvatÉ civilization “Indo-European scholars should have scrapped all their historical reconstructions and started again from scratch. But this is not what happened. Vested interests and academic posts were involved” (1990). Although IE comparative philology has promoted considerably our understanding of the IE family of languages and although Leach’s remarks may sound too harsh, I agree with his main point that the “reconstructions” should be scrapped and a new beginning be made – if this pursuit is thought to be necessary. In this article I indicate some points where the “scrapping” can begin and at the same time give evidence for the much greater antiquity of Sanskrit...One may ask finally whether it is possible to reconstruct the PIE language, but this seems to be a wrong question. For even if scholars managed this (which I doubt) there are no possible means of verification. Even if tablets with genuine PIE texts were discovered, scholars would compare it with their own latest reconstructions and would accept it as PIE only if it agreed; otherwise they would look upon it as yet another stock of PIE and perhaps would proceed to revise (some of) their reconstructions. A more pertinent question might be – “Is there some practical purpose for reconstructing PIE”? I do not know. I would learn another language only if I thought it desirable to communicate with people who speak it or to read the literature written in it. Personally, I think this and other reconstructions of Proto-languages are signs of the Tower of Babel. But, on the other hand, human beings are very different and have different values, feelings and desires."
  • Here's a perceptive note by Nicolas Wiater. What was the bharatiya 'grid' of intelligibility that enabled Gautama or Mahavira and the later-day bhikku or arahant who could communicate profound aadhyaatmika issues across a stunningly expansive dialectical continuum?
    The Contest of Language. Before and beyond Nationalism
    Nicolas Wiater
    Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Year 2006. 274.

    Ever since Pierre Bourdieu's groundbreaking study 'Langage et pouvoir symbolique' and important studies like Berger and Luckmann's 'The Social Construction of Reality', there can be no doubt that language in society does not merely fulfill the pragmatic role of verbal communication. 1 On the contrary, being itself part of society and social interaction it is charged with cultural, political and ideological notions as it
    provides us with categories to structure reality and make sense of it. Therefore, making people accept your language means making them see the world through your spectacles, your 'grid' of intelligibility. 2 And this makes language a most potent means to exert symbolic power. A collection which studies this social function of language not only by applying a variety of theoretical approaches but also by examining this
    phenomenon across times and cultures is a most desirable project that should appeal to scholars of various disciplines, from literary to social studies, from linguistics to anthropology and philosophy.

Cosmology and mandiram

Cultural continuum in space and time

Sarasvati civilization artefacts: seated, yoga postures

Reclaiming bharatiya cultural studies

  • Conch shell as nidhi in a maritime civilization (ca. 6500 BCE)

 

Eurocentric, colonial loot and exploitation of technologies based on bharatiya (‘native’) knowledge systems (Based on the following work)