All posts tagged: ancient India

Mahabharata Immersion Workshop

Our personal energy is immense and can act in heroic ways, however, it is often locked up in our subconscious self. The Mahabharata Immersion is an invitation to experiment with oneself, delve unto the depths of the invisible, the in-articulated and the disowned parts of ones self by donning the traditional masks from the Koothu tradition. The Mahabharata Immersion Workshop is intended to enable the participant to engage with inner work and the Purana fron an “inside -out” location. One wears the masks of the Heroes and in playing out the archetypal drama that occurs at various turning points, views oneself in the mirror of the emerging “here and now re-play” of the eternal motifs of life and relationships with significant others. This programme offers participants the opportunity to: Discover and foster one’s hidden heroic potential Introspect upon the relationship between outer and inner process Develop a personal foundation of Role effectiveness, interpersonal ethics and interpersonal discipline Introspect upon the way one holds and gives meaning to one’s mission in life The Learning Theatre An …

Playing With Zero and Ancient History

Mathematical and physical arguments are easier to check for basic errors than those in the social sciences and history. You may not divide by zero, because if you did then you could show, for example, that 2 = 3 (because 2/0 = 3/0); likewise, any system that delivers more work than the energy it takes in is a logically impossible perpetual motion machine. Authors in the social sciences sometimes get carried away by ideas that are unfalsifiable or logically inconsistent and since these ideas are repeated in the echo chambers of the academia, it can take a generation or two, or even longer, to realize this. Here I wish to speak of just one matter of ancient history concerning languages of India and Europe that are far apart geographically but belong to the same family. Recently, people have begun to use ancient DNA to see how India was populated by outside migrants and settlers. It is quite fair to assume that people traveled in different directions in the ancient world but to effectively assume that …

Indology: The Origins of Racism in the Humanities – Part 1

Review of Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn, Archives of Origins: Sanskrit, Philology, Anthropology in 19th Century Germany. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013. Introduction Archives of Origins traces the establishment and expansion of Sanskrit studies in Wilhelmine-era Germany. Rich in archival materials, it is a valuable reference work for scholars of nineteenth-century German Indology. In the first part, titled “Sanskrit and Philological Tradition in Germany,” Rabault-Feuerhahn (hereafter R-F) traces the beginnings of Sanskrit studies in Germany, focusing on Friedrich Schlegel, Franz Bopp, A. W. Schlegel, and Schlegel’s student Christian Lassen. In the second, “The Hegemony of Comparativism,” she focuses on Vedic studies in Germany, especially as they engendered a search for characteristically “Indo-European” forms of religiosity, myth, and historical development. Here her primary interlocutors are August Schleicher, Adalbert Kuhn, Friedrich Max Müller, and Rudolf von Roth. In the third, “The Challenges of Anthropology,” R-F addresses the emergence of a science of race from Indology. Tying the interest in the “Aryan” concept to wider developments in German politics and society (the Franco-Prussian War, Bismarck’s anti-Catholic policies, and the rise of German nationalism), …

Indology: The Origins of Racism in the Humanities – Part 2

Review of Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn, Archives of Origins: Sanskrit, Philology, Anthropology in 19th Century Germany. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013. Read part 1 here The Attempted Rehabilitation of Indology In The Aryan Myth (1971), Léon Poliakov famously claimed that “the division of the European population into Aryans and Semites was originally based on a confusion about the nature of men (races) and their culture (languages)” (Poliakov 1996 [1971]: 2). He argued that, mediated via comparative philology and Indology, German strivings for nationhood and the Enlightenment’s anthropological discourse had led to the Holocaust. With Archives, R-F has provided the anti-Poliakov, apologetic response. Although she does not cite Poliakov, her book clearly has him in view: “The core of the questioning is the link from Indological philology to anthropology. In the discriminating [sic], lethal uses that have been made of the terms ‘Aryan’ and ‘Indo-Germanic’, what is at stake is indeed the collusion of linguistic and racial typologies” (23). Not only does R-F argue, against Poliakov, that “the link between Indological philology and anthropology does not necessarily take on the …

Review: The Educational Heritage of Ancient India – How an Ecosystem of Learning was Laid to Waste by Sahana Singh

Book: The Educational Heritage of Ancient India: How an Ecosystem of Learning was Laid to Waste Author: Sahana Singh During Swami Vivekananda’s 150 Birth Anniversary Celebrations in 2013-14, I happened to have an interaction at a National Institute of Technology. In the course of the same I asked the students an extremely simple question, how many of them were there for the love of studying xyz subjects. To my dismay – not a single hand went up! Further interaction revealed that they had opted for engineering because of various pressures –parents and relatives, peers, etc. An Engineering graduate is held in esteem, said one. Another said, they get better choice in whom they marry and yes, better dowry also. Yet another said it was for the job prospects. Did they love their studies? No, they replied honestly. Suppose the esteem and the money, etc were guaranteed and they  had a choice – what would they opted for, I asked. One said, art, another said music, a third one said teaching, yet another said, innovation, business. …

On Kalidasa

The soul of an age is mirrored in this single mind. The life & personality of Kalidasa, the epoch in which he lived and wrote, the development of his poetical genius as evidenced by the order of his works, are all lost in a thick cloud of uncertainty and oblivion. It was once thought an established fact that he lived & wrote in the 6th. century at the court of Harsha Vikramaditya, the Conqueror of the Scythians. That position is now much assailed, and some would place him in the third or fourth century; others see ground to follow popular tradition in making him a contemporary of Virgil, if not of Lucretius. The exact date matters little. It is enough that we see and in Kalidasa’s poetry the richest bloom and perfect expression of the long classical afternoon of Indian civilisation. The soul of an age is mirrored in this single mind. It was an age when the Indian world after seeking God through the spirit and through action turned to seek Him through the …

Playing with Zero and Ancient History

Mathematical and physical arguments are easier to check for basic errors than those in the social sciences and history. You may not divide by zero, because if you did then you could show, for example, that 2 = 3 (because 2/0 = 3/0); likewise, any system that delivers more work than the energy it takes in is a logically impossible perpetual motion machine. Authors in the social sciences sometimes get carried away by ideas that are unfalsifiable or logically inconsistent and since these ideas are repeated in the echo chambers of the academia, it can take a generation or two, or even longer, to realize this. Here I wish to speak of just one matter of ancient history concerning languages of India and Europe that are far apart geographically but belong to the same family. Recently, people have begun to use ancient DNA to see how India was populated by outside migrants and settlers. It is quite fair to assume that people traveled in different directions in the ancient world but to effectively assume that …