India! I dare you to be rich

Category: Philosophy

Debate re: PIE and Prakrit between Prem Chand, Kalicharan Tuvij and Sanjay Sonawani

I'm extracting key comments from here. This is an extremely helpful discussion among three knowledgeable experts. I have learnt new things (this has never been an area of any interest to me in the past) and hopefully will assist in better evaluation of various alternative arguments.

Prem Chand  June 20, 2015

All IE languages, whether Prakrit or Sanskrit, Latin or English, have cognate words for horses and chariots. Hence the ancestor of ALL IE languages is thought to be associated with horses and chariots. This means that Prakrit could not have entered India before chariots were invented around 2000 BC. This is where Sanjay Sonawani’s theory runs into trouble.

RV Sanskrit was a living, organic language. Only Panini’s Classical Sanskrit was artificial to some extent, the same way shudh Hindi or upper class British English is artificial. The idea that “Sanskrit was invented to combine the old Afghan language and the local prakrit” would be quickly dismissed by any competent linguist. Any theory using this assumption is on shaky foundations.

​I think Edwin Bryant is as objective a scholar as we can get on this debate. But I suppose you have already read his compilation titled “Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History” and his original work, “The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate”.

Prem Chand June 21, 2015

I read Sonawani’s article “A Way to Decipher the Indus Script”. He has represented well all the major viewpoints on the Indus seals. However, I can’t say I agree with his opinion here:

“There is not even a single specimen inscription available that would indicate existence of even Vedic language prior to third century BC. Vedic language presence in ancient times is moreover a myth based on the hypothetical ideas of language evolutions. Existence of Vedic language prior to Prakrits is mere a hypothesis, presented by PIE migration theorists, to substantiate their theories of origin, but they do not present any physical proof of its existence in support.”

Linguistic reconstruction is a solid academic discipline which has reaped rich dividends in the past decades. I hope Mr. Sonawani will pay more attention to this discipline since in the absence of written inscriptions, we must rely on hypothetical albeit rigorous methods.

Sanjay Sonawani June 30, 2015

Dear Mr. Prem Chand,

I have given due thought to the linguistic issues, especially associated with Horse-Chariots. Recently Kazanas and Vishal Agarwal are denying that the RV knew the spoke-wheeled chariots to support their OIT theory, whereas western scholars have build their whole theory based on the assumption that IE’s spread only because of the speedy war-chariots. Cognates found in so-called IE languages for horse-chariots have become main foundation of their hypothesis. However, both sides are over-rating this issue.

Linguists admit that the Rigvedic language is quite close to Prakrits and to the language of Avesta. Still it is quite different language because it clearly seems that the Vedic language is purposefully made using several source languages.

The spread of cognate words for technical terms or innovations cannot just be attributed to the movement of the people. It is largely assumed that since Kikkuli’s horse manual and BOgazko treaty mentions some Vedic or Avestan terms, PIE people must be present in that region. But also it is agreed that these so-called IE people got absorbed in the Hurrian population and except for few terms forgot their own language. This explanation is rather untenable. Many mathematical terms have been spread across the globe despite any population movement. Also there is no cognate word to Agni in Avesta, though Vedic and avestan religion were fire centered. The cognate words like Shiva, Asura can be found in the languages those are not at all considered to be IE. It is not at all traceable actually who invented the spoked wheel or chariot and where? The term must have been given by the tribe that invented it first and useful technology alongwith its name could have been shared by many.

Language reconstruction process is hypothetical, as you admit, and different models produce different results. There are severe anomalies in this process if considered PIE as a whole. Also let us not forget that the history of languages is quite old and has been developed not within a single tribe but by means of exchanges also. Similarities can be attributed to this simple fact instead of requiring necessity of movements of certain stock of the people.

And about the pre-existence of Prakrits before Vedic language was made, is a [Sanjeev: Sanjay means 'the'] only possibility because small number of the people, even AIT is considered to be true, could not be able to eliminate languages of the original inhabitants. Such event, a major one, is not recorded even in any Vedic or Avestan scriptures.

Prem Chand June 30, 2015

Dear Mr Sanjay Sonawani,

Thank you for your response. I think the general opinion among Western scholars today is that IE languages spread because of a combination of conquest (using chariots), peaceful population movement (for example transhumance) and elite dominance (non-IE speakers aspiring for upward social mobility by speaking the IE languages of the aristocrats). Rathas are mentioned in the Rig Veda, and we have plenty of historical evidence where Rathas are described as spoke-wheeled chariots pulled by horses. This strongly suggests that the Vedic people used specifically this type of chariots.

RV Sanskrit is an Indo-Aryan language like the Prakrits. Also like the Prakrits, RV Sanskrit has a non- IA substratum which consists of Dravidian, Munda, the Gangetic X-language, and probably other languages. However, the presence of substratum cannot be taken to mean that RV Sanskrit is a constructed, hybrid language. It is possible that some or all of the Vedic people spoke a non-IA language as their native language, and used RV Sanskrit for scholarly purposes. Over time RV Sanskrit may have become their native language, and it evolved into the Prakrits. Grammarians like Aindra and Panini noticed this linguistic evolution and sought to standardize Sanskrit. In this sense, the Classical Sanskrit developed by the grammarians can be called an artificial language.

I agree with your opinion that the spread of IE languages was not always accompanied by movement of people. We don’t know who the original PIE people where and whether their genes are still left in the human gene pool. Based on various evidence, scholars tentatively think they lived in Southern Russia and Ukraine. The Indo-Aryan speaking warrior elite among the Hurrians may have mixed with the native populace, and their descendants over time may have stopped using the IA language and used the native Hurrian instead. I fail to see how this theory is untenable.

It is not just IE languages that were spread, but also some aspects of culture. For example, the tripartite ideology of dividing society into three classes (which became four in India), the worship of a sky-father (Dyaus Pita in Sanskrit), the Dragon-slaying myth, Ashwamedha yagna, etc.

The term used for spoked wheel is clearly a PIE word. Modern linguists have largely agreed on the vocabulary and grammar of the PIE language. The different models only vary in minor hairsplitting details. I am not sure that there are any severe anomalies in the modern reconstruction of PIE. The only handicap is that PIE is not attested historically, hence it remains hypothetical.

How the Prakrits spread throughout India is truly a mystery which is not satisfactorily explained by any current models.

Sanjay Sonawani July 1, 2015

Dear Mr. Prem Chand,

Thanks for your response. As I have already stated reconstruction of PIE is a tricky subject and needs tenuous efforts, sometimes forcibly to derive proto-IE and its meaning. This link shows how Ratha related cognates have been derived and yet its limitations to indicate enough weakness of the PIE’s and their spread theory. It is not justifiable that all IE languages in reality has cognates for Ratha:  http://armchairprehistory.com/2011/05/25/indo-european-wheel-words/

Many other words, though superficially look similar doesn’t have the same meaning everywhere. Cultural continuities too are missing. In my book I have shown how many Greek names couldn’t have been derived from PIE at all. We have many cognate words in non-PIE languages too. As you rightly have pointed out spread of Prakrits is mysterious. Actually, I call it a “Net of the languages” if we look at the branches of Prakrits itself. Prakrit net is spread till Gandhar, in form of the Gandhari language. Beyond that region we can see Dari is still spoken which is called offshoot of the Persian language. We find Rig vedic tribes too continue the similar names even today such as Pakhtuns, Balochis, Turks etc.

Anthony agrees that there is no proof who invented word for wheel and wool. The language development process is not an isolated factory. Geographical forces too carry much weight on it and how it will be pronounced. Also we are not sure, or rather there is no proof what the original words meant to remote ancestors. Words many a times remain same but same people later on use them for different objects or expressions losing gradually original sense.

Single location origin theory poses many problems.

Prem Chand July 1, 2015

Dear Mr. Sanjay Sonawani,

Although the etymology and origin of some PIE words like chariot, wheel, circle are in dispute, the vast majority of IE words have been rigorously analysed and confirmed by linguists. The word for chariot may have been coined in a non-IE language, but it looks like the word existed in PIE, borrowed or not. In fact, they have even published dictionaries for PIE although many of these technical books are available only in German for eg “Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch” by Julius Pokorny. So although we cant be sure about the identity of PIE speakers and their location, we are at least certain that a PIE language existed, localized in time and space. There is no controversy about that among mainstream scholars. Even most OIT supporters agree that PIE existed, they just erroneously locate it in India.

In his book “How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics”, Calvert Watkins traces the prevalence of just one cultural trait – the Dragon slaying myth among many IE speaking people. So we cant say that cultural continuities are missing.

There are many different language families in the world. The existence of cognate words in other languages is a consequence of this fact. Perhaps Greek borrowed some words from non-IE languages. Still it is fundamentally an IE language.

Kalicharan Tuvij July 3, 2015

Sanjay has no doubt made a lasting contribution to Indology with positing the antiquity of Prakrits vis a vis Sanskrit.

This will someday, no doubt, sound very normal – but not before a major reformulation of Internal-reconstructions (IR) theory within Linguistics theory is effected, which could explain Sanskrit as IR of Prakrit in unambiguous terms.

@Prem Chand,

quote: “How the Prakrits spread throughout India is truly a mystery which is not satisfactorily explained by any current models.”

This reminds me of the following:

Suppose the theory of gravitation said, “all things are repelled by Earth”; then the observation that “apples fall on earth” – will be a mystery, yes?

I suggest you consult books on Linguistics theory: I hope your friend ysv will help you on that :-)

I will here lay down some of the relevant points (read carefully):

1) Terms such as “language family” etc are in reality misnomers. All connotations with genetics and anatomy stand discarded.

2) There are no “laws” in Linguistics, only “rules”.

3) Linguistics is a useful tool, especially when operated along with other scientific disciplines, but not more than that. You cannot “prove something” from there alone.

4) Linguistics in itself doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on the “homeland question”, i.e. geography. All that it explains is about archaic features in different languages. For that matter, any language can have any number of archaic features, and still nobody can tell whether that language is even “the oldest or the latest”— simply no way of knowing that.

I can give many examples of Sanskrit IR paradigms, that not only lead to the Prakrit theory of Sanjay, but also shows fragmented conditions of the words as found to the West. But, as I said, a major and systematic reformulation, and genuine organised research, is what is required, though I doubt if that will ever be possible in India. (Though I still imagine the final chapters will be written someday by Indian and Russian scholars)

Speaking of which, I come to my final point. I don’t suppose, if either I or Sanjay are “propelling” any of pet theories; instead, a simple point is made that AIT is not the gospel, and there ARE different models that are serious, but overlooked due to whatever reasons, and which need to be given opportunity to compete with each other (even in the school curricula if possible).

In fact, if you met me in person you will likely find me advocating the AIT – but that is mainly because I don’t understand what good it will do my lazy audience if told the “other thing”.

Prem Chand July 3, 2015

@Kalicharan Tuvij

“Terms such as “language family” etc are in reality misnomers. All connotations with genetics and anatomy stand discarded.”

Could you please explain why, exactly? A language is roughly a set of words and grammar which can find its way around geographically. Geographically separate languages can undergo evolution whereby the words and grammar changes. Still, the evolved languages have similarities which they may not share with other languages. This set of related languages is rightly called a language family. I have read a thing or two about linguistics, and most major scholars in this field follow the language family model. Of course in some cases like Germanic languages, a wave rather than tree model is appropriate, but that is the exception, not the rule.

“Linguistics is a useful tool, especially when operated along with other scientific disciplines, but not more than that. You cannot “prove something” from there alone.”

We can at the very least prove that two or more languages are related to each other using linguistics. The laryngeal theory in IE linguistics was a paradigm-shifting discovery which had a lot of influence on the reconstruction of PIE and the homeland question. Using this theory, Ferdinand de Saussure actually predicted the occurrence of certain consonants in the Hittite language before they were discovered in the cuneiform script. This is one of the scintillating achievements of linguistics.

“Linguistics in itself doesn’t have any bearing whatsoever on the “homeland question”, i.e. geography.”

The reconstructed PIE has shown that it was spoken in an area where it snowed, where beech trees grew, etc. I’d say that it has some bearing on the homeland question.

“For that matter, any language can have any number of archaic features, and still nobody can tell whether that language is even “the oldest or the latest”— simply no way of knowing that.”

If two languages from different time periods but the same geographical area were discovered, it follows that the one with archaic features is either older or deliberately preserved in its archaic state. This is an important clue for reconstruction and the homeland question.

The Prakrit theory still does not explain why highly inflected, archaic languages similar to Sanskrit eg Latin, Ancient Greek existed in the West. This doesn’t fit the idea that Sanskrit by nature of its inflected morphology needs to be an artificial language. Not to mention that the Prakrit theory is supported by even less archaeological evidence than either AIT or OIT.

Kalicharan Tuvij July 4, 2015

@Prem Chand,

Let me explain more clearly.

That languages and words can spread without an actual movement of people is well known and accepted today. Accordingly, Linguistics updated its originally racial (read genetics, anatomy, so on) connotation of terms such as “language family”, even if as misnomers they continue in usage – though not without the wrong side effect (with good strategic values btw) on nonspecialists and lay people.

Linguistics also redeemed itself further by replacing “Aryan” with “PIE”. So, when I said the “family” in Linguistics is actually a misnomer when taken outside the field, I was correct.

An analogy that comes to my mind is heat transfer between bodies (in Thermodynamics) which takes place via multiple mechanisms : conduction (~borrowing), convection (~migration/ invasion) and radiation (~technological innovation).

Whereas it will be difficult affirming that neo nazis are not doing any Linguistics anymore, Linguistics (with a hidden prefix, “Western”) as a consistent discipline is slowly converging to some appropriateness – if only due to the weight of evidence – and as of today can be vaguely termed as “efforts of western people in unearthing their pre Greek history”. And, mind you, that is a very, very private affair of theirs.

Just prior to the Renaissance, the Western visionaries were very clear about their pre Church enlightened past. The whole field of Archeology was invented to corroborate their story. (Confirmed, btw)

Determination of the archaic-ness of words is basically all that Linguistics stands for. That is, suppose there are words A and B, so Linguistics tells us whether A>B is true or B>A is true.

In a fundamental sense — just as the forward flow of time is in the direction of lesser energy : like in falling apples there is a decrease in their potential energy — similarly words can be broadly understood as following in that “downwash” trail.

So patterns were found for assessing A>B relations and were compiled as “rules” (though, again, given misnomers like “laws”- a fact acknowledged by modern linguists). The idea is to formulate the LEAST number of rules that can explain all such relations. There were other complexities, though.

For example, suppose, using the rules it was found that : A>B, B>C, C>A, then what? In such scenarios, a fourth HYPOTHETICAL word D was invented having a relation : D>A,B,C. No doubt, all that by finding out even more rules.

So, finally, we had the {D} dictionary (PIE dictionary) consisting of all such hypothetical words. It is quite possible that NONE of these words were actually pronounced like that or existed, or equally possible that ALL of these words actually existed.

So, historically, more rules were formulated progressively in order to create the total system – you have data, and you use minimum no. of “curves” to fit through that, that’s it.

Laryngeal theory was successful in fitting data that were outliers to the Ablout theory. Another step in the A>B paradigm, not quite the “eureka” though : just business as usual.

Now, the question is, in what way this Linguistics can be of use in a multidisciplinary research?

By corroborating the Archaeology. So, when Sanjay was talking about chariot cognates, he was basically explaining this aspect. Chariot, after all, can be traced archaeologically. Chariot is not JUST another IE.

This is the framework: make a story, overlap this story on the “radiation model” (~technological innovation) of language-spread, do the Linguistics (along the story line), and corroborate with “digging” from Archaeology, Genetics, so on.

So the stories that Western historians (note, not linguists) have come up thus far are:

1) Technology of Agriculture, and 2) Technology of transportation : chariot and horse.

As we know, the first one is also probable, and probably happened, it the second story that holds more prominence because it is very relevant in the timelines considered. Plus, we have the battle axe in that.

I am of the belief that the second story has been positively confirmed so far by Archeology and Genetics. That is, the Russian origin.

Re Sanskrit:

When I said Sanskrit was not natural, I didn’t mean it was never a spoken, day to day, language. In fact, Sanskrit is told to be the most natural language for better people.

In the reconstruction theory of Sanskrit, it is the nominal inflection (noun cases) that holds the key (even if merely because verbal systems are way too complex to make any attempt at).

This inflection system is not natural, even though it must have been transmitted to children rather by the use of standard templates (of examples) than a proper algebraic teaching.

Just like how children learn using iPhone, otherwise a complex device.

Only Sanskrit and Tamil have the full range of eight functionally exhaustive system of declensions. The next in line are the Russian languages that retain many, but not all, of these varieties.

This is the third story, yet to be told, though.

Archaeology and Genetics have to follow suite, but the story is still important and need telling before other things are taken up.

RV has only Prakrits as the substratum, since the other words – of Munda and Dravidian origin – are no more than 8% of RV corpus, and must therefore be called borrowals (~conduction model). Saying otherwise is deliberate obfuscation.

I said before that Linguistics as of now is a very private affairs of the Westerners. That Sanskrit is always seen as an odd man out in their analyses, is evident, and is used primarily in “stamping” whether a word A is IE or not (to give the foundation).

I think with this I’ve addressed all the points, and will like to end here (not my research/ interest area), if no other clarifications are required.

Thank you,

KT

Prem Chand July 4, 2015

@Kalicharan Tuvij

It is quite true that languages can spread without movement of people. 19th century linguists mistakenly thought that language families are firmly tied to racial identities. However, that doesn’t mean that the term ‘language family’ is a misnomer. If a set of languages are deeply interconnected (as IE languages are), they can be called a language family. 19th century linguists like Heinrich Schliemann believed that Sanskrit is the origin of all IE languages while a few racialist contemporaries of his felt that Germany is the PIE Urheimat. Modern Western scholarship has largely moved on from its biases and prejudices, hence we can safely assume that their research is trustworthy. Obviously, Westerners are interested in their prehistory but I dont see why they have to invent and obfuscate evidence to prove that the PIE Urheitmat was somewhere in Southeastern Europe when there are so many ideal candidates, aesthetically speaking.

The word Aryan is still used in linguistics, although it is applied only to the Indian branch of IE.

“It is quite possible that NONE of these words were actually pronounced like that or existed”

That is quite a bold statement, considering the absence of any good competing theories.

“Another step in the A>B paradigm, not quite the “eureka” though : just business as usual.”

The eureka is the part where A>B paradigm was predicted in paper first, and several decades later confirmed in the cuneiform tablets unearthed through archaeology. This provides confirmation that the Western linguists were on the right track after all.

Sanjay’s theory cannot be corroborated through archaeology because we have no idea whether the Prakrit speaking migrants coming to India were indeed speaking Prakrit.

“This inflection system is not natural, even though it must have been transmitted to children rather by the use of standard templates (of examples) than a proper algebraic teaching.”

What do you mean by the inflection system not being natural? And what does natural mean here, anyway? None of the languages are ‘natural’ since they were all invented by humans for their communication. If Sanskrit, Latin, Russian etc have a complex infection system, Native American languages have a complex pronoun system. This way, we can show that none of the human languages are ‘natural’.

“Only Sanskrit and Tamil have the full range of eight functionally exhaustive system of declensions. The next in line are the Russian languages that retain many, but not all, of these varieties.”

Tamil is an agglutinative language, hence it has no declensions and cannot be compared to Sanskrit at all. Russian being commonly used by lay people shows that the complex system of inflections were not artificially constructed, but a normal part of everyday language.

“RV has only Prakrits as the substratum, since the other words – of Munda and Dravidian origin – are no more than 8% of RV corpus, and must therefore be called borrowals (~conduction model).”

What are the Prakrit words in RV? There is no lower limit to the number of borrowed words that needs to be in RV for those words to be considered as part of the substratum. Besides, it is not just the words but also some aspects of grammar and phonolgy that were borrowed from the substratum languages.

“I said before that Linguistics as of now is a very private affairs of the Westerners. That Sanskrit is always seen as an odd man out in their analyses, is evident, and is used primarily in “stamping” whether a word A is IE or not (to give the foundation).”

Linguists don’t have any special status reserved for Sanskrit. It is just another daughter language in the IE family tree. Sanskrit is odd inasmuch as it is preserved tone-perfect by the oral Vedic tradition which is greatly useful to modern linguists.

Sanjay Sonawani July 4, 2015

Dear Mr. Kalicharan Tuvij , thanks for your helpful elaborated analysis. I have to agree with your sentence “I said before that Linguistics as of now is a very private affairs of the Westerners.” Languages are mostly influenced by the psychological patterns of the people living in certain geographies over the long period. Rather geographies influence general psychologies of the people which are reflected in languages and material cultures. With geographic pattern change we find the change in the language structures, vocabulary, no matter even if of same so-called language family and how it will be pronounced. Geographical patterns may include mineral distribution, rock formations, geo-magnetism, geological faults etc. However, generally similar adjoining or secluded geographies may have equal process of the language formation, which can resemble in the certain similarities in their morphological structures. However for now this is mere hypothesis and I am working hard on this to have alternative theory. Presence of Dravidian language group adjoining to so-called IE group can be solved by these means. I will share the observations/findings soon so that we can discuss more on it.

I also thank you Mr. Prem Chand for raising many points those needs to be answered. Hopefully, with new model we may be able to solve the mysteries. “Land Determines” may be one answer.

Sanjay Sonawani July 4, 2015

Dear Mr. Prem Chand,

PIE dispersals are mostly associated with Chariot/horse issue and you too agree that the words associated with the chariot are in dispute.

So far Vritra slaying myth is concerned it certainly is very antique and must have its origin when human being was still in savage state. However, the myth too can be disputed. For example Verethragna is thought to be associated with “Vritrahan” of Rigveda. Rather the similar myth is associated with Traitana. Both words seem to be closely related, but the myths associated with them are not. In Greek mythology it appears in the form of Hercules-Cacus form. What this would mean that the myth has travelled across the regions taking its own forms. The same would also appear true with the myths from Katha Saritsagar.

In the preface M. Gaster states that, “Happily there are no geographical, religious or National boundaries in that land of imagination. The whole mankind dwells therein……..” Further he elaborates that finding the provenance of the fantasies, legends or myths may be impossible for many a places people think alike or the stories travelled from word of mouth by the bards, travelers or soldiers retold in advanced or modified forms. Vritra slaying myth could be poetic imagination of the eternal struggle between good and evil. Interestingly Vritra of Veda is son of Danu, which means water or fog. This myth stands apart from the other myths, though similar in the struggle of a god or man with dragon. World mythologies are filled up with similar mythologies though the details may differ. Trying to connect them with hypothetical movement of some stock of the people may be wrong as there wouldn’t have been so difference in details and persons/deities associated with the same myth.

Prem Chand July 4, 2015

Dear Mr. Sanjay Sonawani

The exact PIE words used for horse, chariot, wheels, circle etc are in dispute, yes, but not the fact that PIE culture and its dispersal were intimately connected to chariot technology. Evidence strongly indicates that the PIE culture consisted of pastoral nomads in the Pontic Caspian steppe who heavily relied on horses for their daily sustenance.

There is a certain version of the dragon-slaying myth that is found predominantly in IE speaking cultures. The myth involves a dragon that is guarding water or some important life force and a hero who slays the dragon to release the water and save the day. This tale is told in a poetic version with a certain formula. The hero could be Indra, Krishna, Thraetona, Thor, Hercules etc and the dragon could be Vrtra, Kaaliya, Azi Dahaka, Jormungandr, Cacus etc. It doesn’t matter that the names are not always cognates. We are talking about prehistoric cultures separated by thousands of miles. The innumerable similiarities in these myths and poetry and their prevalence in IE speaking cultures strongly suggests that this is a uniquely IE idea that originated in PIE culture, wherever it was situated. What is more, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unique similarities found among IE speaking cultures.

The connection between dragon vs hero and metaphysical dualism found among contemporary world religions is tenuous at best. Either way, it doesn’t detract from the main point about the myth formula being unique to IE speaking cultures.

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Osho might have been a sensible fellow, after all. His views on religion, science and economics match mine.

I had commented positively on Osho's views against socialism, here

Now I find he also had almost exactly the same views as mine regarding religion and science. I was introduced to these views of Osho on FB (see this post: In this post I critique religions (as I always have), and insist on critical thinking and evidence).

I'll reproduce Osho's views below, except the last bit of his views which is mumbo jumbo (I don't mind people having their own, private mumbo jumbo, so his followers can "read" that kind of stuff). [Source]

I have no time to explore Osho. Clearly he was no Adam Smith or Hayek. But he might have been a broadly sensible fellow, after all.

==

THE RELIGIONS – THEIR FUNDAMENTAL MISTAKE

Osho,

Are you against all the religions? What is their most fundamental mistake?
 
Yes, I am against all the so-called religions because they are not religions at all. I am for religion but not for the religions. 
 
The true religion can only be one, just like science. You don't have a Mohammedan physics, a Hindu physics, a Christian physics; that would be nonsense. But that's what the religions have done – they have made the whole earth a madhouse. 
 
If science is one, then why should the science of the inner not be one, too? 
 
Science explores the objective world and religion explores the subjective world. Their work is the same, just their direction and dimension are different. 
 
In a more enlightened age there will be no such thing as religion, there will be only two sciences: objective science and subjective science. Objective science deals with things, subjective science deals with being. 
 
That's why I say I am against the religions but not against religion. But that religion is still in its birth pangs. All the old religions will do everything in their power to kill it, to destroy it – because the birth of a science of consciousness will be the death of all these so-called religions which have been exploiting humanity for thousands of years. 
 
What will happen to their churches, synagogues, temples? What will happen to their priesthood, their popes, their imams, their shankaracharyas, their rabbis? It is big business. And these people are not going to easily allow the true religion to be born. 
 
But the time has come in human history when the grip of the old religions is loosening. 
 
Man is only formally paying respect to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Mohammedanism, but basically anybody who has any intelligence is no longer interested in all that rubbish. He may go to the synagogue and to the church and to the mosque for other reasons, but those reasons are not religious; those reasons are social. It pays to be seen in the synagogue; it is respectable, and there is no harm. It is just like joining the rotary club or the lions club. These religions are old clubs which have a religious jargon around them, but look a little deeper and you will find they are all hocus-pocus with no substance inside. 
 
I am for religion, but that religion will not be a repetition of any religion that you are acquainted with. 
 
This religion will be a rebellion against all these religions. It will not carry their work further; it will stop their work completely and start a new work – the real transformation of man. 
 
You ask me: What is the most fundamental error of all these religions? There are many errors and they are all fundamental, but first I would like to talk about the most fundamental. The most fundamental error of all the religions is that none of them was courageous enough to accept that there are things which we don't know. They all pretended to know everything, they all pretended to know all, that they were all omniscient. 
 
Why did this happen? – because if you accept that you are ignorant about something then doubt arises in the minds of your followers. If you are ignorant about something, who knows? – you may be ignorant about other things also. What is the guarantee? To make it foolproof, they have all pretended, without exception, that they are omniscient. 
 
The most beautiful thing about science is that it does not pretend to be omniscient.
 
Science does not pretend to be omniscient; it accepts its human limits. It knows how much it knows, and it knows that there is much more to know. And the greatest scientists know of something even deeper. The known, they know the boundaries of; the knowable they will know sooner or later – they are on the way. 
 
==END SENSE AND BEGIN PRIVATE MUMBO-JUMBO, HENCE NOT PART OF THIS POST==

 

 

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Wendy Doniger’s superb lecture on the ancient Indian tradition of sceptisicm: Charvaka, Lokayata, Brihaspati, Jayarāśi

As part of the efforts of RSS and Hindutva bigots to focus my attention on Doniger, I had a quick listen to her lecture on Indian scepticism.

The lecture is brilliance personified. Both a depth of knowledge and a flair for analysis and presentation. I must say, the RSS have made at least one useful contribution in their long and useless history – to spread knowledge and awareness of Doniger's work.

Title: "Skepticism and Materialism in Ancient India"

Abstract: "Throughout its long existence, Hinduism has held in creative suspension two movements so different as to merit the title of separate civilizations:  one is the dominant strain of ritual, of celebration of life, of family, of children, of sexuality, of food and poetry and sculpture and the worship of many gods; and the other is the strain of philosophy, of renunciation, of the drive to become released from the cycle of rebirth, through denial of the senses, of family life, of children.   These two paths lived more or less peacefully side by side as available options for most Hindus, until more passionate and monotheistic strains of devotional Hinduism, or bhakti, developed after the 6th century CE.   Later still, the philosophical strain inspired yet other forms of Hinduism, broader in their total scope but containing within them a narrower, less tolerant streak, as they came into contact with other civilizations:  Islam, from the 7th century CE (but more intensely from the 13th century); then the British Raj, from the 18th century; and then, in the late 20th century, America and a broader global, Internet world. The cumulative effect of these encounters in present-day India has been an unprecedented form of repression that threatens freedom of speech.  My talk will trace this historical development, in the hope of shedding light on the present crisis."

NOTES

Though ancient shastras such as the Arthasastra and Kamasutra pay lip service to dharma, and criticize the so-called Materialists (Lokayatas or Carvakas), their central arguments show a total disregard for dharma and a striking congruence with Materialist assumptions. Are the Carvakas straw men that allow shastras (and other texts, such as the Jabali episode in Book 2 of the Ramayana) to express skeptical ideas without
taking responsibility for them?

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From this lecture I learnt about Jayarāśi Bhaṭṭa's Tattvopaplavasimha – the only complete sceptical work that survives today. Will try to read more about it as time permits.

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The American defence of private property: You may be John Rawls but don’t trespass. Trespassers will be shot.

One of things that surprises visitors when they live in the USA is signboards placed outside homes, to the effect that this is "Private Property: trespassers will be shot" (View an array of these signboards here). Often a gun is shown, pointing directly at you.

This turns out to be a good thing. It sends a STRONG signal to communists and collectivists of all shades (including academics like John Rawls, who churn out 500 page "rationales" for the state to confiscate private property) to stay away or be shot.

The future of mankind is assured so long as people like John Rawls are allowed to write whatever they wish (freedom of expression) but SHOT if they trespass into anyone's private property.

This distinctly American cultural artefact needs to be studied, understood, and widely adopted. Let the community NOT DARE to enter one's private property, leave alone confiscate it. 

There can be no human progress if the community is able to cast its eyes on other's private property and steal it. 

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Please use this to rewire the brains of your socialist friends: The final version of the misconceptions draft

I've reviewed the misconceptions draft once again, and improved it considerably. It is now time to merge it into the draft SKC agenda. Further improvements will occur as part of the multiple revisions the agenda will undergo in the coming years.

This final draft will now remain as a stand-alone document here, frozen in time.

Download also the revised SKC agenda which contains this new attachment that has been designed to completely rewire the brains of socialists:

With this there is no reason for any socialist to exist in India anymore (or, indeed, anywhere else in the world).

The agenda will continue to undergo improvements. I'm currently reviewing the excellent suggestions received from Rakesh Pujari, who has put in the MOST DILIGENT work in reviewing the agenda. (Rakesh, you can now proof this attachment – thanks!). I'll update everyone (around 5000 people) once I have incorporated Rakesh's suggestions, as well.

Supratim, I'm awaiting your suggestions on the tax chapter. Prof. Tooley's suggestion on the education chapter awaited. 

Further, EVERYONE is invited to provide comments/ input – send to me at sabhlok@gmail.com.

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Only PURE capitalism can save India’s soul, torn asunder by socialism.

I've repeatedly said this – that capitalism is the only MORAL system. Posting below an extract from an email sent a short while ago:

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Our effort is, at its root, a moral effort: to bring integrity of thought and action to India. And ONLY capitalism can do that:

"a truly free enterprise, competitive capitalism is the most moral and humanely beneficial way for people to live together that has ever been stumbled upon by mankind." http://www.epictimes.com/richardebeling/2015/02/the-morality-of-capitalism-liberty-honesty-and-humility/

The people, on the other hand, have been fed falsehoods all their lives, and don't understand this. It is our job to explain it to them. 

Therefore the idea that we should avoid the words "liberal" / liberalism/ capitalism is amazing. It would be like saying we don't believe in liberty. We must talk ONLY about liberty and capitalism. Hammer it in for years on end. Only then will some people get the message.

Indeed, I note that all complaints against "capitalism" are based on a severe misunderstanding/ misrepresentation of the system. That barrier has to be overcome not by side-tracking it and renaming our ideology "socialism" but by calling our ideology capitalism and directly attacking socialism. And attacking the moral failures of socialism.

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