Lies with long legs - Prof. Aich Exposes Pseudo Indologists 02/06/2010 12:48:57
Lies with long legs, by Prodosh Aich, Samskriti, Pages: 404,Rs 650
By SATISH MISRA
The book, ‘Lies with long legs', is a well-researched and sufficiently documented effort to bring to light a reality about ancient India, which is contrary to prevalent and generally accepted world view of a civilization.
In his painstakingly long academic journey through mountains of source material available in Europe, Prof. Aich has succeeded in establishing that entire understanding of India of the western world developed by self claimed scholars is totally erroneous since the initial attempt to comprehend ancient India through Vedas was itself faulty.
He has built his thesis on a simple fact that if the basic parameters or fundamentals are wrong, then the conclusions derived from them cannot obviously be correct.
In this backdrop, Prof. Aich has very rightfully questioned the validity of the works of the famous western scholars who went on to translate Vedic literature from Sanskrit language into Italian, English and German. Majority of them did not even set their foot on the Indian soil and those, who came to India, did not learn ancient language in any organized manner but in an auto didactic fashion.
Translation from one language to another, it is universally accepted, needs almost an
equal command on both the languages. But majority of the Western Sanskrit scholars did not learn or rather could not learn Sanskrit. Since Sanskrit was not a spoken language, it was all the more difficult for them to develop language skills required for translation.
Based on this fact, the author has undertaken a research that leads to the prevalent and popular viewpoint that colonialist Imperial England had prepared a concerted and well conceived design to establish the superiority of white, blue eyed, blond -christian culture over all other cultures which they opted to define as “primitive” and particularly that of India.
The methodology, employed by Prof. Aich, is indeed unique and novel as he avoids making his own comments on any single issue. Rather he prefers to use the technique of juxtaposition to drive a point home. He prefers to leave to readers to make their own judgement rather than imposing a certain thesis which is the usual practice normally followed by scholars.
In his treatment of the subject, he has followed an interesting approach that of framing a question and then providing answers by using the primary source material.
Nonetheless, the book is a seminal contribution to the world of knowledge as it is bound to start an academic debate in the West also. It would go a long way to establish once for all that much-trumpeted and self-championed discipline of Indology in the West has in fact been based on wrong facts and false premises.
Not only this, reading the book, one cannot but reach a conclusion that it must have been a design that none of the scholars so far bothered to use the existing material, so abundantly available, which could have helped to unravel the truth about the colonial powers and imperial administration and bureaucracy. Scholars after scholars, even after the rolling back of colonial empire, have continued to overlook the material that would have gone a long way to remove well laid myths and negative understanding about Indian society, polity and culture.
Moreover, it would raise questions on popularly accepted theories on India such as Aryans came to this part of the world from the North or they emigrated here and then pushed back the original inhabitants from north to south of India. The book also puts a serious question mark on the anthropological understanding of the ancient Indian society according to which, Indian society is sought to be explained on the basis of skin colour.
In what may be termed as a pioneering attempt at interpreting the efforts of western scholars to decipher and portray ancient India, the author has asked in the book since when words and concepts like white, black, blond, not blond, blue eyed and other racial features have come to be used by social scientists to differ between “us” “them”.
Prof. Aich has gone deep into methods adopted by different well-known and world famous Indologists for collecting materials for their renowned works, research papers and other books. Beginning from the process of acquiring their knowledge of Sanskrit, the author has also made rightful inquires to their source material.
In an eye opening revelation, the author has successfully established that a Jesuit father Roberto de Nobili, in his missionary zeal, went to the extent of claiming that he was able to find out the lost Yajurveda which in fact was got written by him to establish that there was indeed a relationship between Christianity and ancient Indian practices that were being preserved and followed by Brahmins. Roberto de Nobili, in order to win the confidence of the local Brahmin community, even calls himself as Brahmin from Rome.
The author has put almost every Indologist under his investigating microscope to find out the veracity of their claims of knowing Sanskrit. In this process, he has succeeded in exposing majority of Indologists who have been regarded and accepted in the academic world as the sole sources of information over India and ancient Indian society, culture and way of life.
Comparing their descriptions and findings with Greek writings of Megasthenes and others, the author throws enough light on the methods and intentions of 18 and 19th century Indologists who, in his opinion, did irreparable damage to people of India.
Many of the English, German or French Indologists, made tall claims about their knowledge of Sanskrit and Prof. Aich has exposed them by tracing back their entire process of acquiring the competence of language.
For example, detailed exposition on Sir William Jones make startling revelations that he could befool not only his superiors but the entire academic community by claiming that he knew 32 languages, including Sanskrit.
Sir Williams, who came to India as one of the judges and went on to set up the Asiatic Society of Bengal, which was closed rather barred for Asians, on January 15, 1784, came to be celebrated as the Father of Indology in the United Kingdom.
By following Sir Williams educational career and his different stages of life, the author has made bare the self proclaimed Father of Indology leaving readers in no doubt whatsoever that the Sir William’s fame may have entailed, it was actually based on exaggerated claims, braggadocio and self projections.
The same Sir Williams has produced so much of literature, disseminating so much of false information about India that an entirely wrong image of this ancient society was painted in the popular mind.
Similarly, German Indologist Friedrich Maximilian Mueller, popularly known in India as Max Mueller, has been exposed as a person who despite never visiting India, came to be known as the most authoritative expert of Sanskrit.
The author has scored a major victory by establishing that it was indeed an English conspiracy, which was hatched by none other than Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay who wanted to control Indian minds by ensuring that they should know, comprehend and understand India through books written in English. Indian sources of knowledge about India should never be indigenous but should be through English translations.
Max Mueller became an instrument of Lord Macaulay in his plan to control the Indian mind for all times to come. Macaulay is convinced that the majority of the local population has to be brought to a point where they start believing that the English alien rule is better for them.
Macaulay had written in 1835 in absolutely clear terms: "We are not content to leave the natives to the influence of their own heredity prejudices. (…) it is possible to make natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars… We must at present do out best to form a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions we govern; a class of persons Indians in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. To that class, we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render then by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population."
The book has established beyond any doubt that Macaulay and the rest of English colonialists of his time employed every means bad or good, dirty or clean to ensure that Indians were subjugated not only physically but were dominated mentally and spiritually as well.
By undertaking a thorough study of colonisation of India in the backdrop of the emerging racism, the author has also sown seeds of further academic exercises. He has established that till the 16th century social studies including historical studies did not use racial terminology.
Racial terminology was used to create a conscious divide between the ruled and the ruling classes by terming them as “us” and “them”. So much so that a new discipline called as “Ethnography” came to be established at the European academic institutions.
“Us” and “them”, alien and local, Aryans and non-Aryans, Indo-European or Indo-German, were employed by hired scholars or rather court writers to create an impression or an illusion that the Europeans were racially superior to all others.
Even physical descriptions like skin colour, types of lips, noses and eyes and other features were consciously used to drive a wedge between peoples. Irrespective of status of culture existing in any particular society, the colonial administration declared that a particular society was primitive.
"Why did British occupants narrate a (hi)story from far off Bengal, which was eagerly taken up by many Europeans to embroider and elaborate that tale in many fanciful facets? It was just a harmless story of a conquest. No. All these stories were designed as the "historical justification" for looting, building strongholds, colonising foreign lands with the purpose of sustained exploitation. And they were presented as an inherent law of evolutionary development of mankind. The conquerors, the deliberate killers, the occupants, the exploiters from Christian Europe were hailed for having brought culture and civilisation into the "colonies". They were just following the same pattern of those nomads on grazing grounds, the "Aryans" from the Central Asiatic steppes, who came in some "pre historic" period and brought civilisation into India. The Christians "ruffians" were just treading on the footprints of the "Aryans". What could have been wrong with that?" the author poses an interesting observation..
The book, by using unflinching and convincing source material, has gone on to prove that a concerted and conscious effort was made to establish the superiority of the white-blond-blue eyed- Christian culture over all other cultures, societies and people.
"It is remarkable too that Marco Polo narrated so much in great details but nothing about human "races". This term, "Razza" in Italian, "raza" in Spanish, "raca" in Portuguese, "race" in English, "Rasse" in German was invented by the Franconians in the 14th century to justify their rule over the Gauls in France. After the expulsions of Jews from Spain towards the end of 15th century, the term was increasingly used in the contemporary meaning of racism.
Observations such as above open new vistas and horizons for further academic pursuit so that many myths about so called primitive societies deliberately perpetrated by the colonial powers could be removed and cleared.
At the same time, it would also sow seeds for conflict management and conflict resolution as a balanced view about traditional and ancient culture and societies is bound to assert itself.
Written in simple yet effective style, the book is guaranteed to make a seminal if not revolutionary contribution to the understanding and comprehension of the human race as one global citizen.
The book overall has succeeded in showing mirror to the western academic system and has exposed the western scholars who are never tired of claiming their objectivity and impartiality.