Does it matter now if someone was an Aryan: Romila Thapar

Historian Romila Thapar said that in the current context, attempts were being made to follow two directives — the rewriting of history and the “cleansing” of institutions with “cultural pollution”.

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi | Published:October 2, 2015 3:10 am

In the backdrop of the shocking murder of Kannada scholar and rationalist M M Kalburgi, public intellectuals from various fields, under the aegis of the Indian Writers’ Forum Trust, organised a discussion on ‘Revisiting Cultural Resistance’ at the India International Centre on Thursday.

Speaking at the function chaired by writer Githa Hariharan, historian Romila Thapar said that in the current context, attempts were being made to follow two directives — the rewriting of history and the “cleansing” of institutions with “cultural pollution”.

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On the rejection of the Aryan invasion theory by speakers at a seminar by Delhi University’s Sanskrit department, Thapar said the issue was “complex” but becoming “less crucial”. She also criticised the seminar’s efforts to push back the date of the creation of the Vedas. “The issue of Aryan invasion is very complex but I think the matter is becoming less and less crucial with time. Does it really matter now if someone was an Aryan? With regard to astronomy as a historical tool, I think only a historian of astronomy can comment on its reliability. Sanskritists — no matter how good their Sanskrit is — cannot determine it,” she said.

Thapar warned that in their efforts to push out “western history”, proponents of “indigenous history” were basing their theories on accounts by colonial historians. “It was James Mill whose periodisation of history into Hindu, Muslim and British periods is followed by many Hindutva ideologues. It was also theosophist Colonel Olcott who had first said that Aryans were indigenous to India,” she said.

Ambedkar University Vice-Chancellor Shyam Menon claimed that there was a “chronic tendency on the part of the State to assume control over institutes of higher learning”. “Among those who consider that the most important function of the State is to be the guardian and preserver of the social order, there is always a fear that the university, through its very nature and conduct, might unleash ideas that would be disruptive of such an order,” he said.

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    Akaula
    Oct 3, 2015 at 6:31 am
    The historical endure was parceled out by Indira hi to the left in return for the votes by which she survived the vote when Congress split during her regime. And then Nurul Hasan became th education Minister. He made certain to glorify India during Islamic period hide the ugly activities of these invaders (as they glorified in stan) and ask historians not tight touch pre-Indian hindu History. He was an Islamist with Leftist BurkA. If you believe Thapar that clification in to Hindu , MUlsim period was Colonial creation, who created clification of medieval, dark age clification. If Aryan were not Important today, why were these important 60 years ago when she pushed it? The Vedasand other historical events are important to our civilizational knowledge. She is such a unreliable person who manites and lies on and on.
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      Jake
      Nov 10, 2015 at 12:37 pm
      There is indeed a group called Indo-Europeans (I. E) who are different from Bronze Age groups. The South Indian language Tamil is not related to Sanksrit which is an I.E. language. So there are differences between North and South India. And Vedic religion belongs to the I.E. group, which BTW shares a lot of characteristics with the old Persian and European religions. It is another matter to paint that the'original' homeland of Hindus is the subcontinent. What most people forget is that people have been migrating for centuries. And there are linguistic, genetic, and archeological evidences to indicate that Vedic groups (from Iron Age) came from outside of subcontinent.
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        Ajay Kumar
        Oct 6, 2015 at 10:17 am
        If some western people come & tell that ur father was not ur father will u people believe them use ur commonsense.Dna dont Lie DNA test have given some positve result for us We North & South Indians belong to the same flock, people like Thapar who dont have any knowledge of Tamil or Sanskrit script r great in speculating ill about Indian History.The idea of Aryan and Dravidian races is the product of an unscientific, culturally biased form of thinking that saw race in terms of color. There are scientifically speaking, no such things as Aryan or Dravidian races. The three primary races are Caucasian, the Manan and the Negroid. Both the Aryans and Dravidians are related branches of the Caucasian race generally placed in the same Mediterranean sub-branch. The difference between the so-called Aryans of the north and Dravidians of the south is not a racial division. Biologically both the north and south Indians are of the same Caucasian race, only when closer to the equator the skin becomes darker, and under the influence of constant heat the bodily frame tends to become a little smaller. While we can speak of some racial differences between north and south Indian people, they are only secondary. For example, if we take a typical person from Punjab, another from Maharashtra, and a third from Tamilnadu we will find that the Maharashtrians generally fall in between the other two in terms of build and skin color. We see a gradual shift of characteristics from north to south, but no real different race.
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        1. S
          syomynona
          Oct 5, 2015 at 7:10 am
          This coming from people who rode the gravy train by essentially calling for a genocide of Hindus. Hah, the irony.
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            Anjaan
            Oct 4, 2015 at 9:53 am
            It does not matter to a Communist who their ancestors are ... !! ... national interests also do not matter to the Communist Thugs ... the only thing that matters to them is the spread of their ideology all over the world ... !! ... that is why the Indian Communist Thugs were more interested in what was happening to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam ... !!
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              Anuradha Kalhan
              Oct 17, 2015 at 5:00 pm
              Glad that Romila Thapar wants to know why it matters! The very fact that so many people and so much time is spent on this strange fascination simply defies basic sense. Its a crippling invasion of the present imagination . A diversion actually for a very serious right wing agenda. Cities are pools of filth and pollution , educational insutions are in tatters, children are malnourished and the lack of decent jobs is driving insecure people into the arms of fascist forces. There is so much to do and improve in present times that all such Aryan obsessing about our deep past is simply outrageous.
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                aryama
                Oct 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm
                Shameless running dogs of the imperialists! Rewrite colonial history!
                Reply
                1. D
                  DPS
                  Nov 3, 2015 at 9:52 am
                  If someone is really interested in knowing the recent findings based on DNA studies as well as know a historical pretext as to why this question is quite relevant to us, please read the following article -
                  Reply
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