Pseudoscience & Religion

The Origins and Evolution of Brahmanism

The complete series, The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita, By Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, can be accessed here.

In my previous articles (1,2,3) I asserted that all religions came into being to solve some pressing societal problems. In the process, the problem solvers created gods to fulfill their own desires and to take refuge in them for protection from a specific evil. Let us now examine if we can apply these observations to Brahmanism. Around 3500 years ago, Northwest India saw waves of immigrants known as the Arya from north of the Himalayas. Their culture was remarkably distinct from that of the local people whom they disparagingly referred to as the Dasyu. The earliest Arya settlers in the region of the Punjab faced two major questions in their new land: 1. How are we going to cope with and harness the forces of Nature (Prakriti) such as rains, floods, famine, fires and storms? 2. How are we going to deal with the Dasyu who are hostile and evil?  They experimented with many solutions over the years and finally came up with a brilliant solution. The result of their experimentation was Brahmanism.

Coping with Prakriti: Creating Devas (gods) and worshiping them by Yajnas

Since Prakriti was too strong to resist and it gave them sustenance such as water and food, and grass for their cattle, they began to view it as their divine ally rather than their adversary. To make sense of the intangible forces of Prakriti such as wind, water, rain, thunder, fire and the like, they created gods (Devas) such as Vayu, Varuna, Parjanya, Indra and Agni to represent them in their consciousness. They created Lord of beings whom they named Prajapati. Even though these entities were Devas (“bright ones”), they were still subject to the fundamental laws of Prakriti (BG: 18:40). They worshiped these gods by fire sacrifices known as Yajna. They burnt their surplus food in the fire believing that the ensuing smoke would carry it to the Devas. The Rig Veda is full of pleadings such as the one below addressed to Indra, the Lord of the Devas:

Rig Veda: Giver of horses, Indra, giver, thou, of cows, giver of barley, thou art Lord and guard of wealth. Man’s helper from of old, not disappointing hope, Friend of our friends, to thee as such we sing this praise. Well pleased with these bright flames (of Yajnas) and with these Soma drops, take thou away our poverty with seeds and cows.

Quid pro quo

The Bhagavad Gita explains this quid pro quo between the Arya and their Devas: BG: 3:10-12:

Having created mankind in the beginning together with Yajna, the Prajapati (Lord of beings of Brahmanism) said: “By this (arrangement) you shall propagate; this shall be the milch cow of your desires. Nourish the Devas with this; and may the Devas nourish you. Thus nourishing one another, you shall reap the supreme welfare (of mankind). Nourished by Yajna, the Devas shall bestow on you the enjoyments you desire.

The Vedas and Brahmins

The Brahmanic priests praised the Devas in orally transmitted hymns, the massive collection of which came to be known as Rig Veda. The shamans of this Dharma ‘got stoned’ on Soma, a hallucinogenic drink made up of a mountain herb, and claimed that they could communicate and mingle with the Devas. Soma itself became a god. In their drug-induced trance they invoked by means of Mantras a mysterious spirit known as Brahman. The meters of their Vedic verses became a god. Even the word invoking Brahman -OM- became sacred. Since they were capable of being possessed by Brahman, they came to be known as Brahmana or Brahmin. Since Brahmins became the brokers between men and gods, now they too became sacred. Over the years, Brahmins claimed magical and supernatural powers and thus they became holy like the holy cows of Hinduism. Anyone harming them ran the risk of losing his head and going to hell.

Coping with Dasyu

Initially the Arya saw the Dasyu as hostile enemies whom they should conquer or destroy completely. Even though the Arya were better armed on account of their horses, chariots and weapons, the Dasyu were more in number. So, feeling helpless in the face of overwhelming number of Dasyu, they took refuge in Indra, the supremo of the Devas to protect them from the evil Dasyu. Rig Veda is full of petitions of the Arya to Indra seeking his help in destroying the Dasyu:

Rig Veda: With Indra scattering the Dasyu through these (Soma) drops, freed from their hate may we obtain abundant food. He verily, the God, the glorious Indra, hath raised him up for man, best Wonder-Worker. He, self-reliant, mighty and triumphant, brought low the dear head of the wicked Dasa. Indra the Vtra-slayer, Fort-destroyer, scattered the Dasa hosts who dwelt in darkness.

This is how the Brahmanic system of fulfilling desire by worshiping gods and taking refuge in them for protection from evil came into being.

The Arya decide to coexist rather than fight

In the course of time, however, the reality dawned the Arya that they must coexist with Dasyu. The challenge before them was how to live in peace with Dasyu while still maintaining their distinct racial identity. So they created a class system based on the color (Varna) of skin, known as Varna Dharma. In its most primitive form there were only two classes: white (immigrant) and black (locals). However, when Aryan men comingled with Dasyu women, they produced children of varying hues of skin color and so it became difficult to classify people by skin color. By now the Arya society had become more complex. A new class system based on one’s profession came into being. The word Varna now took the meaning of Class rather than color. In this more refined Varna system, the Arya considered themselves as the elite and occupied the upper two classes.

The doctrines of the Gunas and destiny of Karma

To justify this Varna system, the brilliant priests of the Arya culture came up with two astounding doctrines: the doctrines of the Gunas of brahmsuper-borderPrakriti and destiny of Karma. Brahmanic priests claimed that Prakriti manifested itself in the body of humans in the form of three Gunas (Qualities): Sattva (knowledge, culture, joy), Rajas (passion, greed, drive) and Tamas (ignorance, sloth, laziness). Based on these doctrines, Brahmanism divided the society into four classes: Brahmins (the priestly class of Sattva Guna), Kshatriyas (the warrior class of Rajas Guna), Vaishyas and Sudras (the trader and labor class of Tamas Guna) (BG: 18: 41-44).

Brahmanism creates helplessness to repress resistance to its doctrines

They claimed that the Gunas were the source of all Actions (Karma). Everyone was totally helpless in the face of the Gunas. The product of one’s action was known as Karmaphalam (fruit of action). All actions, except for Yajna, accumulated Karmaphalam (BG: 3:9). If one did good deeds, he earned good Karmaphalam (Punyam); if one did bad deeds, he earned bad Karmaphalam (Papam). After death, one’s soul was reborn on earth in a higher or lower social status depending upon the quality of his deeds. They called this cycle of birth, death and rebirth Samsara. Brahmanism brainwashed people into believing that everyone’s life situation, societal status, and quality of action, was determined by the dictates of the doctrines of the Gunas of Prakriti and destiny of Karma. One who defied this concept was branded as one deluded by Ahamkara (egoism), the worst title one could earn in the Brahmanic society:

BG: 3:5: None can ever remain really action-less even for a moment; for everyone is helplessly driven to action by the Gunas born of Prakriti. BG: 3:27: The Gunas of Prakriti (and not you) perform all Karma. With delusion engendered by Ahamkara, man thinks, “I am the doer.” BG: 3:33: Even a wise man behaves in conformity with his own nature (Guna); being follow nature; what is the point of resisting this notion? BG: 18:40: There is no being on earth, or again in heaven amongst the Devas, that is liberated from the three Gunas born of Prakriti. 18:60: Bound by your own Karma born of your nature (Guna), that which from delusion (of Ahamkāra) you wish not to do, even that you shall do helplessly against your own will!

Brahmanism forbids class admixture

To protect the purity of their elite status, Brahmanism forbade class admixture (Varnasankara). An upper class man could marry a lower class woman, but vice versa was forbidden. Those who defied this rule were condemned to hell (BG: 1:38-44). In the course of time, Brahmanism came up with an extremely complex Jati system based on distinct trades and professions.

It took about 500 years for Brahmanism to perfect this system. In its mature form, Brahmanism rested on the doctrines of the Gunas of Prakriti and destiny of Karma; and it was held up by four great pillars: the sanctity of the Vedas, Yajnas as the means of worship of Devas, Varna Dharma consisting of four great classes and supremacy of Brahmins in the hierarchy of class system. The noble goal of this system was to counter chaos and bring Law and Order in the society. Because there was no single ruler who could administer justice, it fell on Brahmanism to develop a primitive Constitution and a System of Justice. Brahmanism had no power to arrest wrongdoers and deliver them corporal punishment. However, they had even greater power than corporal punishment: dishonor here on earth and Papam (bad Karmaphalam) hereafter. Those impertinent people who refused to perform their Varna-designated Karma were sure to face the music like the reluctant Arjuna did on the battlefield. This concept is beautifully illustrated in the following verses, which explain the fate of those who defied the dictates of Varna Dharma:

BG: 33-36: If you refuse to fight this righteous war, forfeiting your own Duty and Honor, you will incur sin (bad Karmaphalam). People will forever recount your infamy. To the honored, infamy is worse than death. The great charioteers will see you as one fled from the war out of fear; you that were highly esteemed by them will be lightly held. Your enemies will slander your strength and speak many unseemly words. What could be more painful than that?

In the next article, we will study how Brahmanism became thoroughly corrupted and became even greater problem than the problem it was supposed to solve.

(To be continued)

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

About the author

Prabhakar Kamath

Dr. Prabhakar Kamath, is a psychiatrist currently practicing in the U.S. He is the author of Servants, Not Masters: A Guide for Consumer Activists in India (1987) and Is Your Balloon About To Pop?: Owner’s Manual for the Stressed Mind.

Links to all articles in Dr. Kamath's earlier series on Heretics, Rebels, Reformers and Revolutionaries can be found here. Dr. Kamath' series on The Truth About The Bhagavad Gita can be found here.

37 Comments

  • A friend of mine who’s a Brahmin fell in love with a girl, only to find out she was a Brahmin too. I thought this would have been a good thing for him but he said that she is of the same “gothram” as he is, so they are not supposed to get married!!! So basically he can marry any Brahmin girl, except the one from his own gothram!. Could this have been just a simple ancient rule to prevent incest marriages, which is totally irrelevant today? Or is there some vedic backing to this?

  • The complexity of class and caste system is truly mind-boggling. Brahmin is a class. There are many castes in this class such as Saraswat, Gowd Saraswat, etc. Each of these castes are further divided by Kulas (families). Each of these families is further divided by Gotras, literally cowshed. 3500 years ago, distinct families were identified by their cows! Gotras are further divided by Pravara, which are the names of the original ancestors. This system is patrilineal, consistent with the Arya prohibition against admixture of classes (Varnasankara). Identifying a Brahmin by his Gotra is still in practice in orthodox Brahmin families to avoid interbreeding. I think this system was scientifically sound during the period of 1500-1000 B. C. E.when Arya clans were in the minority and they did not want to interbreed. However,due to migrations and intermarriages, now the gene pool of Indians is very diverse. So a Brahmin man marrying a Brahmin woman of the same Gotra is forbidden only because of the superstition of doing something wrong against one’s Dharma. Brahmanism decreed that anyone doing anything against the dictates of Brahmanism earned bad Karmaphalam and went straight to hell (BG:138-44).

    • To think Gotra as cowshed is the essential mistake.

      Such translitrations of Sanskrit terms gave birth to the superfluous views of British and Europian Historians.

      It is possible to excuse the outsiders for whatever they could never inherently understand.

      Between ourselves we should be more careful, and perhaps more demanding of each others. There is no need to be bound by shallow rationality in judging a culture that has declared itself ‘without a beginning’ ie “anadi” .

      Howsoever strogly one feels compelled to think that some germans “started walking eastward and started singing in sanskrit hymns — to some king who was indra ” and became aryas, while rest remained where-ever they were and could not become brahmin and shudras..

      The absurdity of believing this is only overwhelmed by the fact that no proofs of whatever nature can ever be given to this happenning.

      But let me touch on this at some later time.

      Coming back to “gotra” again…

      Sanskrit is so super-rich and so well connected internally that it is difficult to miss the real meanings. Except that the inner meanings are also super-rich with actual connectivity to the science-of-being which todays science is only now beginning to reveal.

      A recent genetic research has confirmed wisdom of gotra system, carried in news papers only weeks back.

      In all deep meaning instances whenever these occur the terms “go” or “Gau” always mean ” indriyas” . The term “Indriya” itself refers to inner faculty associated with the particular sense organ and not the sense organ itself.

      The dhatu roop ” Tra” always means ” to protect” .

      “Go-tra” therefore means a system that protects the bodily health form congenital defects.

      That the term ‘gotra’ is also used to name the twelve or so classification is again a high-level construct. Someone familiar with concepts of high level computer language will be able to understand such things more easily.

      Without a recourse to such deep
      understanding of language, culture, and the scientific effects like ” -prevention of inbreeding by following gotra system”,

      making comments is highly unprofessional.

      Such articles can at best be speculative in nature, and should be labelled as such.

      • “Howsoever strogly one feels compelled to think that some germans “started walking eastward and started singing in sanskrit hymns — to some king who was indra ” and became aryas, while rest remained where-ever they were and could not become brahmin and shudras..”

        http://scienceblogs.com/gnxp/2009/09/south_asians_as_a_hybrid_popul.php

        Population genetics is confirming the broad picture of the hybrid nature of Indian populations. In the link I supply you will see that it has a phylogenetic tree showing the history of Indian and non-Indian groups. The nonsense you write of Germans walking eastwards is a strawman fallacy.

        The populations of NW India are closer genetically to Middle Eastern and European than South East Indians who are closer to Andaman Islanders.

        The wave of humans that migrated from Africa first branches off and later gives rise to both European and Ancestral North Indians. That is, both these are daughter populations of an ancestral group and are genetically similar.
        The wave of humans from whom they branched went on to settle South Asia.

        It was after the branch split off (that would give rise to Europeans and the Ancestral North Indians) that you get another branching that would give rise to the Ancestral South Indians (ASI) and the Andaman Islanders.
        This doesn’t mean that the Andaman Islanders are the Ancestors of Indians on the mainland, it is just that they are both daughter populations and genetically more similar. If you look at the Onge people of the Andaman Islands you will see they share genetics with those Indians from South East India but none with those of North West India.

        Long after the Ancestral South Indians (ASI) had diverged from those who would become the Andaman Islanders, those who would later become the Ancestral North Indians (ANI) diverged from those who would become Europeans.

        However, this did not happen in Europe. Rather, you probably had a population in Central Asia which divided, with some moving eastwards to settle in North West India (who could be called proto-Indo-Europeans) and others moving westwards to become Europeans.

        All the peoples of India are hybrid populations of Ancestral North Indian and Ancestral South Indian.

        Upper caste South Indian groups have more Ancestral North Indian (ANI) than lower caste South Indians, but they have a lower proportion than some lower caste North Indians.

        This is what the genetic data shows.

        Your remarks about British and European historians and ‘outsiders’ betray the racist and political motivations underlying your rejection of the facts.
        As an Irishman whose country was colonised by the British I am under no illusions as to the biases of these people. That is no excuse to be a revisionist. The facts are the facts. If we are interested in the truth we cannot reject that which does not conform with our prejudices.

        At least we cannot and still command respect.

        • Your comment is far too rational and evidence-based for the ethnocentric nonsense in the comment you were replying to.

          Still, I’d like to point out a couple of places where you seem to have misrepresented the genetic evidence. You make a few mistakes in extrapolating the data, leading to some false conclusions, but you correct yourself in the end. I think this is because you misread the implications of the paper you submitted, leading to your initial false statements, but then ignored these to make your final points, which are accurate.

          Your statement :”The populations of NW India are closer genetically to Middle Eastern and European than South East Indians who are closer to Andaman Islanders.”, is a misunderstanding of the genetics. Mainland Indians as a whole are far more homogeneous than that. What the evidence suggests is that the North Indian populations are sufficiently distinct from the original South Indian populations (as noted by the presence of specific genetic markers), since the former were supplemented with repeated migrations of people from the Middle East and Central Asia. This does not mean that North Indians are “closer genetically to Middle Eastern and European than South East Indians”. Also, South Indians in general are not as distinct as a whole from North Indians as you portray. Pockets of the original native populations show a more direct African ancestry, similar to the Andaman islanders. However, these pockets are only found in small genetically isolated tribes in India, mostly in the South East (but also in the mountains of the Himalayas). The general population of South India today is a lot more mixed with other Indian groups, although some traces of the original native markers are found in them. The frequency of these markers drops off as you travel North West.

          I believe that you may have made the leap in logic (apparent in your statement quoted above) after mistaking the notion of Ancestral South/North Indians with that of modern day South/North Indians. Small slip, but large implications.

          Also, the chronological timeline of the settlement pattern that you depicted is confusing, probably because the article you use as a reference is not focused on this.

          The first settlers of India were not from the migration out of Africa that split off into the European and Central Asian groups. This is well established. You are describing the second wave (there were probably many waves, but they were certainly not the first wave). You are implying otherwise when you say: “It was after the branch split off (that would give rise to Europeans and the Ancestral North Indians) that you get another branching that would give rise to the Ancestral South Indians (ASI) and the Andaman Islanders.”

          I looked up the paper you mention. The figure that you derive your ideas from is portraying a very general idea of the settlement patterns. It is not possible to detail the migration history using such a general figure. This is not helped by the fact that the figure you use to present your timeline actually gets the timeline wrong (an artifact of making their figure simple, not an actual mistake). The actual migration history of Asia is established through multiple genetic and linguistic lines of analysis. The first pattern of migration out of Africa was not the group that was ancestral to the Europeans and currently dominant Asian groups. The first waves were comprised of people who followed the coast of South Asia as well as possibly some groups who were sea-bound and were swept to the Andamans and other islands in the Indian ocean (because of trade winds) from East Africa and Madagascar. These people preceded the wave of migrations you are talking about.

          The very generalized population split depicted in the paper you quote shows one single split form the ancestral African populations, which then went on to form all later groups. This is too simplistic, but probably useful for the authors of the paper because the timeline of the different waves is not significantly important to establish the point they are making.

          The key to understanding the original settlement patterns is marker 174. This marker is found in populations as diverse as the Japanese and the Andaman tribes, as well as some Himalayan peoples and some South Indian tribes. This is what the article you mention means when they say that the ANCESTRAL South Indian people derive from the same population as the Andaman islanders. This group probably followed diverse migration patterns, but is lumped together from a timeline point of view, and because of the fact that they carry distinct markers that differentiate them from the second wave. Marker 174 is found in pockets of Asian groups which were not assimilated into the second wave of migrations (the one that split off from the Central Asian groups that went to establish European, Asian and North American populations).

          The second group of migrations is well-studied. This group is the one you are talking about, the one that migrated out of Africa into Central Asia, and then split off into groups that went in all directions. One group went into Europe and became established there, one went into Eastern Asia and through Alaska and into North America, and another went South into India. This last branch is what is traditionally referred to as ‘Aryan’a. They are the ones who brought the Indo-Aryan languages into the subcontinent.

          I think your initial misstatements are because over-extrapolation of the conclusions of the paper you quote. Towards the end you are again on the right track when you say: “Long after the Ancestral South Indians (ASI) had diverged from those who would become the Andaman Islanders, those who would later become the Ancestral North Indians (ANI) diverged from those who would become Europeans.”

          The initial(false) timeline you present is actually contradictory to the later (correct) timeline you present.

          Thanks.

          • Ajita.
            Thanks for your corrections. I see I didn’t write clearly what I meant to convey. I was trying to talk of the gradient of relatedness when I said that of the NW Indian population and Middle Eastern/European and didn’t mean to give the impression that all of Indian is less homogenous than it is.
            You are correct that I wrote NW Indians and SE Indians when it was talking more of the Ancestral populations.

            You are also correct about it not being one single wave of migrations. In my struggle to describe the phylogenetic tree I myself forgot that there had been previous migrations that stayed to the coasts of the landmasses as well as by sea.
            Part of the confusion also comes from the fact that I was trying not to get into timelines and just give a sketch of the movements.
            Thank you though as your corrections have helped me get a better overall picture myself.
            I hold my hand up and admit that it is a difficult thing for me to interpret the findings, let alone try to transmit them on without making a mess of it.

          • On Second thoughts !

            I reproduce below one of the comments from the science blog you mention.

            “I’d rather go with what CO-AUTHORS of the study has to say

            Times Of India
            http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/india/Aryan-Dravidian-divide-a-myth-Study/articleshow/5053274.cms

            HYDERABAD: The great Indian divide along north-south lines now stands blurred. A pathbreaking study by Harvard and indigenous researchers on
            ancestral Indian populations says there is a genetic relationship between all Indians and more importantly, the hitherto believed “fact” that Aryans and Dravidians signify the ancestry of north and south Indians might after all, be a myth.

            “This paper rewrites history… there is no north-south divide,” Lalji Singh, former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and a co-author of the study, said at a press conference here on Thursday.

            Senior CCMB scientist Kumarasamy Thangarajan said there was no truth to the Aryan-Dravidian theory as they came hundreds or thousands of years after the ancestral north and south Indians had settled in India.

            The study analysed 500,000 genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 diverse groups from 13 states. All the individuals were from six-language families and traditionally “upper” and “lower” castes and tribal groups. “The genetics proves that castes grew directly out of tribe-like organizations during the formation of the Indian society,” the study said. Thangarajan noted that it was impossible to distinguish between castes and tribes since their genetics proved they were not systematically different.

            The study was conducted by CCMB scientists in collaboration with researchers at Harvard Medical School,
            Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. It reveals that the present-day Indian population is a mix of ancient north and south bearing the genomic contributions from two distinct ancestral populations – the Ancestral North Indian (ANI) and the Ancestral South Indian (ASI).

            “The initial settlement took place 65,000 years ago in the Andamans and in ancient south India around the same time, which led to population growth in this part,” said Thangarajan. He added, “At a later stage, 40,000 years ago, the ancient north Indians emerged which in turn led to rise in numbers here. But at some point of time, the ancient north and the ancient south mixed, giving birth to a different set of population. And that is the population which exists now and there is a genetic relationship between the population within India.”

            The study also helps understand why the incidence of genetic diseases among Indians is different from the rest of the world. Singh said that 70% of Indians were burdened with genetic disorders and the study could help answer why certain conditions restricted themselves to one population. For instance, breast cancer among Parsi women, motor neuron diseases among residents of Tirupati and Chittoor, or sickle cell anaemia among certain tribes in central India and the North-East can now be understood better, said researchers.

            The researchers, who are now keen on exploring whether Eurasians descended from ANI, find in their study that ANIs are related to western Eurasians, while the ASIs do not share any similarity with any other population across the world. However, researchers said there was no scientific proof of whether Indians went to Europe first or the other way round.

            Migratory route of Africans

            Between 135,000 and 75,000 years ago, the East-African droughts shrunk the water volume of the lake Malawi by at least 95%, causing migration out of Africa. Which route did they take? Researchers say their study of the tribes of Andaman and Nicobar islands using complete mitochondrial DNA sequences and its comparison those of world populations has led to the theory of a “southern coastal route” of migration from East Africa through India.

            This finding is against the prevailing view of a northern route of migration via Middle East, Europe, south-east Asia, Australia and then to India.

            Posted by: Rj | September 24, 2009 9:08 PM ”

            and some subsequent responses.

            6
            Rj, it is also known that the divide between the northern and southern states in the USA is a myth. you see, pennsylvania is closer to virginia, a southern state, than it is maine! rather, regions shift imperceptibly along lines of latitude, not into two broad categories.

            in any case, i actually quoted the paper you know 🙂 a lot of what they say there is totally obfuscatory and no doubt playing to the prejudices of the indian audience. west eurasians are probably better representatives of “ancient north indians” than north indians themselves. so where does one assume those “ancient north indians” came from?

            this is like brazilian scientists letting their audience think that portugal was settled from brazil. they know it’s totally implausible, but i guess it’s politic.

            Posted by: razib | September 24, 2009 9:26 PM

            7
            Equating colonial migrations with the IE expansion, and the north-south divide in India with North American states to deride opponents of an unscientific and outdated theory has the opposite effect in this case, if you think about it.

            I seriously doubt that these scientists would go public just to satisfy an ‘Indian audience’ for political reasons. This was at a press conference and I’m positive that these scientists are aware that the days of pigeon post are over.

            Posted by: Rj | September 24, 2009 11:30 PM

            8
            days of pigeon post are over.

            what does that mean?

            Posted by: razib | September 24, 2009 11:43 PM

            9
            “The study also helps understand why the incidence of genetic diseases among Indians is different from the rest of the world. Singh said that 70% of Indians were burdened with genetic disorders and the study could help answer why certain conditions restricted themselves to one population.”

            Isn’t the answer self-evident within the very same question? Relatively high rates of endogenous mating creates distinct population clusters. This however has the side effect of compounding recessive genetic ailments within their respective populations. Consanguineous marriage is individually relatively harmless, doing it for multiple generations spells trouble down the line.

            Razib maybe you can clear up a little point of confusion from me. It is of my understanding that marriages between the same Varnas and clan groupings in India are discouraged as being considered incestuous. Yet how does this cultural taboo not preclude the reality of the high degree of first cousin and even uncle/niece parings? Is it simply matter sister’s daughter Halal, brother’s daughter Haram?

            Posted by: Jing | September 24, 2009 11:47 PM

            10
            re: consanguineous marriages, they reject this as being able to explain the haplotype blocks. i am skeptical, but need to reread that section in the supplements before i comment 🙂

            . It is of my understanding that marriages between the same Varnas and clan groupings in India are discouraged as being considered incestuous.

            north india and south india differ. the north indian hindus are exogamous, but south indian hindus excluding residents of kerala do cross-cousin and uncle-niece marriages.

            Posted by: razib | September 24, 2009 11:52 PM

          • Please re-read my comment. It perfectly corroborates the scientific evidence. I am not sure what your problem is with it. I can only understand that you did not read my comment properly. I clearly state that Indians are much more homogenous than the previous commenter stated. I also clearly briefed the two distinct waves of migration. Also, I say that these two waves of migration do NOT represent any north/south divide in modern India.

            “For a more serious audience I would have liked to take time and explain in detail how the scientific theories about prehistoric happennings ought to be…”

            Please talk about facts here or go find your “more serious audience” if you can. I am not interested in such elitist rhetoric. You copy and paste somebody else’s work and have the nerve to say that it is because you are too good for us that you don’t actually use your own words. Perhaps there is another explanation. Perhaps you are simply shuffling through the regurgitated words of others to find any scraps that corroborate your pre-conceived beliefs.

            I did not say one thing about the Aryan/Dravidian thing, but since you think I am saying something about it, let me go ahead and do so.

            There are two sides trying to make the issue seem what it is not. One group is intent on proving that there never was any external migration/influence in the origin of Hindu ideology in India and another is intent on proving that there was a separate genetically distinct group that brought many aspects of Hinduism into India. These are both extremist points of view that undermine the complex migration patterns and cultural evolution patterns in ancient India.

          • Dear Ajita,

            You mean before this study was published , you already knew that there were two waves of migration.

            Congratulations. That is a feat of sorts.

            Atleast from 5000 years , the new research has inched backto 65000 years.

            So the vedas were imposition of the second wave on first wave. And the vedas had no inherent value in them apart from this (precise or diffuse) happenning of second wave immigration.

            -RKK

          • For someone who keeps reminding everyone that s/he’s a scientist, you seem to be unaware of how science proceeds. Did you really think this is the only study there was on the subject? Such theories in science are almost never accepted on the weight on one single study. How arrogant of you to suppose that others are making stuff up about a subject that you obviously know little about!

            Yes, I knew about the two waves of migration well before I looked at the paper posted on scienceblogs which was linked above in this comment thread. In fact, I cannot understand how anyone who speaks so authoritatively on the subject as you do could be so ignorant of the fact that there have been multiple studies published on both the genetic and linguistic data.

            If you had read my comment above correctly I don’t see how you could have missed my statement saying that I knew about the currently popular scientific theory of the two waves of migration from “multiple genetic and linguistic lines of analysis”. I can only conclude that you are not only ignorant of the facts, but are also not really reading the words of those towards whom you take pleasure in being condescending.

            There have been numerous scientific studies on the subject, including over 10 molecular genetic studies in the past decade alone.

            Finally, you waste no time in positioning yourself at one extremist end of the debate regarding the role of the first/second wave of migration in the origin of Hinduism, as stated in my previous comment. This is where ideology comes in. We are trying to avoid such ideology here. If you are simply interested in sifting through the evidence to corroborate your preconceived beliefs, perhaps there are other venues for that. We try to deal with evidence here and we will not tolerate such irrational condescension in the face of measured and rational discourse.

          • There are no preconceived notions. The voluminous literature in Sanskrit is pointing towards events, happennings and causality of what they saw, thought and perceived. They attempted a cosmology theory without the benefit of radio telescopes, and did many things at social levels. If modern science and rigorous research can corroborate and find any thing that these texts mentioned as essentially correct, it will be a truimph of innate human intelligence.

            I mentioned that, to me prima facie, these people had no hidden axe to grind, which some later investigators are trying to insinuate. The decay and distortions are part and parcel of every human activity. Brushing our links (with whatever we believe in )often is the only way to avoid our own prejudices coloring our views.

            Thanks for reminding about your excellent work with hard evidence. I will certainly keep reading all the non-speculative articles on Nirmukta. I will also read the speculative types, but wait for more analytical ones to finally lead this rationalist movement of yours.

          • I was out on vacation during this interaction.

            The recent region-wide genome research carried out by Indian Scientists is pointing to wide spread re-distribution of humans from Indian subcontinent to different lands, or some such thing.

            For a more serious audience I would have liked to take time and explain in detail how the scientific theories about prehistoric happennings ought to be framed to avoid falling on face again and again with half (or perhaps fully ) baked prejudices that are prevalent in minds of Indian Intelligentia for over a century.

            The Nirmukta unfortunately wants to forever live with its own prejudices and certainly has no use for any new methodologies.

            So be it.

            Any way, this is a holiday season and I am in a joyful mood. So wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Good Bye.

          • Of course all of Mankind has migrated from Africa. Everyone know about it. What exactly is your POINT?

            Mr. Kamath is talking about the Historical Origins of the current modern day Hinduism aka Brahmanism – religion of the Brahmins.

            Historically in India there HAS been an admixture of Genetic communities one of which Mr. Kamath has himself pointed out.

            On other occassions during the Buddhist period of about 200-300 years from 400 BC to 200 BC there was full blown mixture of the population so it is obvious that every community or caste in India or be it from any region of India has mixtures of genetic pools from almost everyone.

      • “Someone familiar with concepts of high level computer language will be able to understand such things more easily.”

        Surely you must be joking!

        I can’t fathom any connection with high level computer languages. I do know “high level computer language”. You may mean something else, though.

  • RKK’s reply to my comments is typical of Brahmanic loyalists. 1. They are reactionaries. By themselves they have nothing to say about their ‘deep’ concepts. However, anyone commenting on Brahmanism is always “wrong, absurd, and unprofessional” if he doe not aggrandize Brahmanism. 2. Because Brahmanism claims that their superior and “deep religion” is “anadi,” meaning without beginning, you must accept it, or else you will be attacked. Don’t worry if they have no sense of history. Everything is “ancient.” 3. All Westerners have biased opinions because Brahmanism is “too deep” for their stupid intellects. 4. Sanskrit language is so complex and “deep” that unless you are a great Sanskrit scholar who is well versed in “high Brahmanic culture, high sounding words, phrases and obfuscating concepts,” you will never be able to understand whatever the hell is written. So these brainy Brahmins will have to tell you whatever is really meant. 5. Everything should be interpreted in such as way that it should fit into their neat concept of Brahmanism; to hell with the obvious facts. 6. You should have “high level construct” and computer knowledge to understand the superior concepts of Brahmanism. Since most people are stupid, Brahmins will have to explain to them by high-sounding phrases what Brahmanism is.

    Let me tell you how deep Brahmanism and Sanskrit language are by pointing out interpretation of just two shlokas in the Bhagavad Gita by the great Shankaracharya. No close-minded Brahmanic loyalists will ever acknowledge that most of shlokas in the Bhagavad Gita were meant to overthrow Brahmanism and have nothing to do with Arjuna’s predicament on the battlefield.

    In order to overthrow decadent Brahmanism mired in Kamya Karma (desire-driven sacrificial rites) Krishna, in his capacity as the Upanishadic Guru (2:7), tells Kshatriya ritualists: 2:47: Your entitlement (granted to you by ordinances of scriptures) is only to perform Karma (Yajna). Never desire fruits thereof (for fruits rightfully belong to the Devas. If you steal them, you will be thieves, 3:12). Never be motivated by fruits (for earning fruits means you will continue to be born again and again). And yet, never become attached to inaction (do not be a monk life the Buddhists who do nothing. Instead become a Karmayogi).”

    Either Shankaracharya was ignorant of the historical-revolutionary context of this shloka or he indulged in blatant deception to protect Brahmanism when he interpreted this shloka as referred to Arjuna: You have the right only to perform work and not to undertake the discipline of knowledge (Jnana). While doing works, do not think you have the right to claim its fruits. Never, in any state of life whatsoever, should you crave for the fruits of your works –this is the idea. In one stroke of his pen, he declared the entire Mahabharata war a sham. The fact that shlokas 2: 39-53 were meant to condemn Brahmanism from its foundation to its pillars either did not occur to him or he chose to hide it from his readers. So much for the Brahmanic intellect.

    Take up shloka 18:66: Abandon all Dharma (Brahmanism and all its sub-Dharmas) and take refuge in Me alone (by doing which you shall transcend the doctrine of the Gunas). I shall deliver you from all evil (Samsara, as well as the societal complications such as Shokam, Dwandwam and obsession with Karmaphalam).

    Again, using the same deceptive tactic, here is Shankaracharya’s absurd comment: 18:66: ‘All Dharma or acts of righteousness –Dharma (righteousness) here includes Adharma (unrighteousness) also. What is sought to be conveyed is the idea of freedom from all works. (Dharma here means Karma).

    No Dharma in its right mind, no matter how “deep” it is, tells people to give up righteousness. The entire Bhagavad Gita’s essential message was to do the right thing. In his eagerness to deflect the anti-Brahmanic intent of this shloka, he indulges in such nonsensical and blatantly deceptive interpretation. Every single Brahmanic commentary on every single ancient scripture is full of such absurdities.

    No matter how deep an ocean is, if one cannot drink a drop of it to quench his thirst, it is of no use. Either Brahmanism should face the truth about its absurdities, or just shut up.


  • Initially the Arya saw the Dasyu as hostile enemies whom they should conquer or destroy completely. Even though the Arya were better armed on account of their horses, chariots and weapons, the Dasyu were more in number. So, feeling helpless in the face of overwhelming number of Dasyu, they took refuge in Indra, the supremo of the Devas to protect them from the evil Dasyu.

    Holy Molly !! I am amazed people are still mired in ridiculous interpretations of texts like these, which first originated when Christian missionaries couldn’t figure the top or bottom of Vedic texts.

    Since you are Indian, a simple clue to understand this text. What is the word for “senses” in your language ? Most probably it is derived from the Sanskrit word Indriya, which means that which belongs to Indra. Indra is the god of sensing.

    Looking at the universe with open eyes (and Indra is pictured with 1000 eyes not without reason) will let you kill the demons of darkness in your body. This is the simple meaning of this text.

    No need to invoke inter-racial warfare, the proof for which is still hard to find !

  • Interesting article. I am particularly interested in the validity of the claim that Arya tribes migrated into north western India 3500 years ago. Is is known that in the Avesta the meaning of many terms from Rig Veda are exactly opposite to the meaning in Rig Veda – e.g. Ahura (Asura) is good and Deva is bad. The Avesta also has many terms which are very similar in meaning to the Vedas. Names of Gods such as Indra, Mitra (Sun) etc. Yasna is the Avestan word for oblation or worship and is very similar to Yajna in Vedas.

    Could it be possible that the mythical Aryas who were the composers of the Vedas and the composers of the Avesta were all remnants and outcrop of the late Harrapan civilization. The commonalities in these two religions (the Avestan and Vedic Brahmanism) and the differences are certainly interesting. After the decline of the Harappan civilization (a subject of another discussion), the so called Arya tribes migrated southwards and eastwards toward the Gangetic plains. I would be interested to know how all this fits in the current state of scholarship and archeological evidence.

    • It dosent really matter as to what the meaning would be. The very fact that we have a similar language words used in both the religious languages says a lot about the similarity of the 2 people.

      Of course a Simple DNA test of the Brahmin bloke from India and a Guy/Girl from Iran would shut the argument for good.

  • Re:
    The Arya decide to coexist rather than fight.
    In the course of time, however, the reality dawned the Arya that they must coexist with Dasyu. So they created a class system based on the color (Varna) of skin

    Is anybody aware of class systems elsewhere in the ancient societies of the world, possibly created due to same reasons? i.e a newer race and superior (in terms of technology, weapons, etc) comes by and finds less advanced people, and controls them this way. Just very curious.. might have happened more than once.
    To me, it is absolutely fascinating and anachronistic to see muslim and Christian Africans (Africans..the oldest gene pool, and thereby the oldest beliefs) in some of the East African countries. These latter day religions have just wiped out whatever old religion existed, but thats because they are of a wipeout nature. Wonder if there were other ancient religions which used the ‘class’ card.


  • The earliest Arya settlers in the region of the Punjab faced two major questions in their new land:
    2. How are we going to deal with the Dasyu who are hostile and evil?

    Dr K,
    Is there any literature on what the dasyus (Dravidians, I assume?) themselves believed in? (i.e their own religion?)
    What were their incentives to abide by the new religion? As I understand, the aryans were outnumbered significantly..

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_2000_BC.svg

  • I hope Mr. Kamath can post my comment.

    I need a honest and direct answers to this question:

    1. Do the vast majority of Brahmins born know the FACT that their religion is straight from hell and is the worst diabolic religion ever known to mankind?. If they DO, do they deliberately hide it from public of India?.

    The reason i am asking this is that unfortunately due to the caste system the Brahmins are the majority of the enlightened Indians and they unfortunately form the intellectual class of India.

    So do Brahmins know about the facts about their religion?

    • //I hope Mr. Kamath can post my comment.//

      In my experience here, no genuine request for clarification has ever been censored here.

      Is a suggestion being made above that Dr. Kamath has not been vociferous enough in his criticism of Brahmanism? Nothing can be farther from the truth and here is a representative comment from him.

      As for the question ‘So do Brahmins know about the facts about their religion?’; it needs to be answered keeping in mind the different things ‘Brahmin’ has come to mean in the popular discourse. We can say that some ‘Brahmanic loyalists’, to borrow Dr. Kamath’s coinage are ignorant thanks to indoctrination and others are willfully ignorant in spite of being provided information of the sort Dr. Kamath does in his articles.

    • I have a more fundamental question for you. First off, the word religion as used in the context of Christians or Islamists doesn’t apply to Brahmins. So, the question I have for you is what do you think is the religion of the Brahmins ? Also, who is a Brahmin as defined in the most authentic scriptures (i.e.) the Vedas.

  • Hi, I am not the one to believe in caste system but your interpretation of class admixture goes contrary to what Chakravarthi rajagopalchari has written in mahabharatha. He says that women of lower birth can marry a man of higher birth but not vice versa.I believe that we both need to go back to our sources and try to reinterpret based on the above source of information

    • The nature’s strategy of human existence depends on the sex. The woman is free to choose the best fit and disease free capable person. In the name of Varna, religion, caste and god, women’s right were denied for thousands of years. It is highly laughable to read your command that woman of low caste is free to choice by upper cast man, what about women of high caste, they must shut the door and cry for ever without a pair and satisfaction? All the religion are against nature particularly against women, curse of this world!!! Someone clarify this, is there anything about women orgasm in veda!

    • We don’t have to look at anybodies interpretation – we have evidence of both happening from descriptions in holy texts.
      Eg. of high caste man marrying a low caste women. Evidence is in Mahabharata where the King Shantanu marries a fisherwoman.
      For example of a low caste woman marrying a high caste man again the evidence is in Mahabharata. Hidimbi was a Rakshasha but she fell in love with Bhima and married him.BTW, Hidimbi was a Kiraat. Thus we see examples of cross caste marriage.

  • After reading the above article, one thing is really clear, Dr Kamath is good at history, but no realization of truth. Even if he is not aware of the human creation.

    Its obvious that neither Dr Kamath nor anyone can go to past to investigate the truth, we can assume a lot based on the historical evidences and all and also based on historical documents. But in general its difficult to understand the reality.

    Regards,

    • If you DO have something substantial apart from the inane false philosophical bullshit of “Truth” then do point out else shut up and stop wasting our sanity.

  • Apart from the data which Mr. Kamath has lucidly pointed out, It will serve to bring out to notice that the Zoroaster religion (aka Zoroastrianism aka Mazdayasna aka the Kurd religion) IS markedly similar to the Vedic Brahmanism. The fire rituals, cremation of the dead, the Language (Sanskrit vs Avesta) even the Gods of the 2 religious beliefs are very common.

    The DNA mapping of the Iranian people and the Brahmin community of India are almost 99% the same. It would mean that the Ancient Iranian people split apart sometime around in 3500 BC and one part migrated to Iran while the other arrived and conquered India.

    Of course I am not talking about the Indian people (the south Indian DNA mapping is proto-austrauloid) while the Khatri DNA is more Semitic in origin. So that would pretty much ascertain that the Brahmin community is Iranian in origin.

    This pretty much shuts the door of the Brahmanical rhetoric that the Indo-Aryan invasion was a myth.

    The Brahmin response to valid arguments as Kamath says is mostly reactionary to obvious truths and facts.

    What leaves me to the original picture as to how the same people were defeated by the Islamic invasion in Iran but managed to survive in India.

  • Thank you Saurav for noting the similarity between Zoroaster religion and Vedic Hinduism. Hinduism and Brahminism is a Culture not a Race. This should put an end to this discussion and Dr Prabhakar Kamath is un-necessarily Mixing up race and culture. Islam is a religion ( And a Culture too) and not a Race. So is Hinduism and Brahmanism. A culture can be learnt (Has to be learnt) and even a language can be learnt. Malyalam has so many words from Sanskrit. Malyali Hindus have Culture similar to other Hindus in India than Muslims in Kerala , but the later two are genetically more similar ( Obviously ). Please DO NOT mix up Culture ( Religion / Brahmanism) with religion.
    Being a Rig Veda Brahmin myself ( And I guess Kamath surname is of Konkani Brahmins ?????) , there are pros and cons to the Brahminical culture. Let us leave an individual to judge that. Do not mix RACE or Genitics in to it.

    Shyam Krishnan

  • The entire article is so opinionated (without embedded references) and the follow-up comments are so nonlinear that it will take sometime to accept this to be a place to come back to. Any and all criticisms should be welcomed when done scholastically and positively.

    All negativity in the name of freedom of speech (often nicely ignored here), dilutes the richness on seeks from such discourses (often vital for an emerging educated society – not degreed)!

    Often pulling historical speculations to modern day context should be carefully articulated and patiently penned (with details).

    However, the article does raise interesting theories about life from the past, the persisting effects of which are certainly intriguing.

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