The True Identity of an Indian
Mr Varghese Pamplanil a writer par excellence, is a master at churning out mind-boggling articles. He always backs up his analytical findings with history and statistical data. In this eye-opener he has traced the actual background of an Indian, by delving into the saga of human species and in particular anthropology. And he does all these tasks with the consummate ease of a duck taking to water.
He shows that the Indian population is the result of four major migrations into the country in prehistoric times (this includes the Aryans). He also reveals who the real “Bhoomiputras (sons & daughters of the soil)” and "Usurpers" are. In particular he has lifted the lid from the confusion created over the term HINDUISM which is deliberately given a religious connotation by the proponents of Majoritarianism. This write-up is a wonderful treatise in the form of story-telling. Isaac Gomes, Associate Editor, Church Citizen's Voice.
The saga of human species
We humans happen to occupy almost the entire surface of the earth however, tenuous and precarious the hold might be. The human existence was marked by the never ending struggle for food, shelter and cloth, to protect from the vagaries of nature, and above all, the search for a SUITABLE MATE.
The first human ancestors appeared between 5 million and 7 million years ago, probably when some ape like creatures in Africa began to walk habitually on two legs. They started to flake crude stone tools by 2.5 million years ago. There were several “out-of-Africa" dispersals of modern humans, possibly beginning as early as 270,0000 years ago. The most significant “recent” wave took place about 70,000-50,000 years ago via the so called “Southern Route” spreading rapidly along the coast of Asia and reaching Australia by around 65,000-50,000 years ago.
The human migrations to India
Anatomically, modern humans settled in India in multiple waves of early migrations over tens of millennia. The first migrants came with the Southern Coastal Dispersal 65,000 years ago and whereafter complex migrations within South and Southeast Asia took place.
The historical thesis: India is largely a country of immigrants. Pre-Dravidian aborigines, the ancestors of present day Adivasis, were the inhabitants of India. The oldest inhabitants of India were closely related to East Asian Onge, and the Aboriginal Australian ancestors as well as Andaman islanders. “Overall” the Andamanese are closely related to Southeast Asians than to present day South Asians, a part of the Negritos, the several diverse ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of Austronesia.
People related to Iranian hunter–gatherers were present in South Asia before the advent of farming.
The Indian population is the result of four major migrations including that of the Aryans into the country in prehistoric times, says the book “Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From” by Tony Joseph. The “First Indians” still dominate the Indian population and account for 55-65% of the Indian ancestry today.
In the second millennium BCE, people from Sintashla culture migrated to North Indian sub-continent. These Proto-Indo-Aryans arrived into India 2100-1800 BCE. The original home of these Aryans was Northern part of Central Asia. They were nomadic in nature and subsisted mainly by hunting; later started rearing cattle. But the merciless nature of Central Asia had made their lives unbearable. Intergroup skirmishes and even slaughter of the rivals were common.
The same traits of character seem to cling on to these people even now.
Kshatriyas dominated their society; called their ideology Dharma of Rishis (Religion of Sages). The level of intelligence of the Aryan masses was low and hence they learned by hearing (sruthi) and by rote. They loved ghee, meat and wine.
The second major migration happened 9000 to 5000 years ago when agriculturists from the Zagros region of Iran moved into India’s northern part and mixed with the First Indians which helped to speed up the farming experiments that were already beginning in the sub-continent.
Farming, especially of barley and wheat, spread widely across the North-Western region, thus laying the foundations for the Harappan Civilisation that in its mature phase lasted from2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. The Harappans were a mixture of Zagros agriculturists and First Indians.
Economically and socially exploited scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, who are forced to be at the bottom of the social order, raped and violated at every turn and excluded from the comity of humans, and made to carry human excreta on their bare heads, are the real “Bhoomiputras” and heirs of this land. All others are USURPERS. “Cry my beloved country” to the last drop of tears.
Hindu and Hinduism
The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit word Sindhu , the name of Indus River. Around 4th century BCE, the Greeks called the country and the people living beyond the Indus River Indu or Hindu. By the 13th century CE the word Hindustan began to be used as a popular alternative name for India, meaning “land of Hindus”. Towards the end of 18th century, European merchants and colonists referred collectively to the followers of Dharma religion in Hindustan, which geographically denoted most parts of Northern Indian Sub-Continent as Hindus. Eventually, any person of Indian origin, who did not practice Abrahamic religions viz., Christianity and Islam, came to be known as Hindus thereby encompassing a wide range of religious beliefs and practices.
One of the accepted views is: “ism” was added to “Hindu” in the early part of the 19thcentury courtesy English writers to denote the culture and religion of the high-caste Brahmins. The original word for the now so-called Hindus is “Sanatan and Arya”. The word Hindu does not seem to appear in Hindu Scriptures viz., Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas.
According to Gavin Flood, the actual term “Hindu” is a “Persian geographical term for the people who lived beyond the river Indus (Sindhi). Undoubtedly the word “Hindu” is not native to India. Even today Arabic, Persian and Turkish word for India is Hindi; an Indian Hindu.
“Angreji Hatao” crowd better be aware that “Hinduism” is British invention. Diehard followers “Hinduism” may find themselves in an embarrassing situation having to admit that he or she bears the label “Hindu”, a British construct: a term coined by the British colonists in the 1830’s; the travellers who visited India before the British Rule used the word Hindi or Sanatana.
Islam in India
Islam is the second largest religion in India; the Islamic community in the country number approximately 172 million (2011 census) and constitute 14.27% of the country’s population. The largest number of Muslims outside Muslim majority countries live in India. The majority of Muslims here belong to the Sunni Sect of Islam: the Shias form a sizeable minority.
Trade relations had existed between Arabia and the Indian sub-continent since ancient times. Prior to the Islam era, Arab traders used to visit the Konkan-Gujarat coast and the Malabar region which were linked to the ports of Southeast Asia.
As soon as Islam originated and gained acceptance in the Arabian Peninsula, the religion made its presence in India along the coastal trade routes of Bengal, Gujarat and Kerala. The first incursion of the religion was made by the new Muslim successor states of the Arab world occurred around 623 CE. The Cheraman Juma Mosque in Methala in Kerala (629 CE) is one of the two earliest mosques in India built by sea faring Arab merchants. (The other mosque is believed to have been built in Gujarat in 610 CE).
Muhammad bin Qasim at the age of 17 invaded the Indian sub- continent in 672 CE and managed to reach Sindh. Around the 10th century, Muslim nomadic empire of the Ghaznavids under Muhammad of Ghazni (971-1030 CE), the ferocious invader using swift horse cavalry and vast army united by ethnicity and religion overran South Asia’s north-western plains. Eventually under the Ghurids, the Muslim army broke into North Indian plains leading to the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 by the slaves of the Ghurids dynasty. The Sultanate was to control much of North India and made many forays into South India. Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir in 1339.
Islam arrived in North India in the 12th century via the Ghuride conquest. The Delhi sultanate and the Mughal empire ruled most of South Asia; the Bengal Sultanate and the Suri empire had also played major economic and political roles.
The peak of lslam’s rule in India was marked by the Sharia and porto-industrialised reign of Emperor Aurangzeb upon the compilation and establishment of the Fatawa Alamgiri. The introduction of the Islamic policies by Mysore king Tipu Sultan too contributed to Southern India culture. Over the years there has been significant integration of Hindu and Muslim cultures across India.
The 16th century Mughal Empire did not stamp out local societies it came to rule. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic identity especially under Akbar, the Mughals united their far-flung realms by loyalty expressed through Persianised culture. The Mughal state’s economic policies deriving most revenues from agriculture and mandating that taxes be paid by well regulated silver currency enabled peasants and artisans to enter larger markets. The relative peace maintained by the empire during much of the 17th century was a factor in Indian economic expansion resulting in greater patronage of paintings, literary forms and architecture. The Mughal Empire was the world’s largest economy in the 17th century with India producing about a quarter of world’s economic and industrial output.
Major incidence of violence between Hindus and Muslims since Independence
Large scale violence and riots have periodically occurred in India since the independence of the country from the British rule. The conflicts stem from the ideologies of hardline right-wing Hindu groups versus Islamic Fundamentalists. The major ones are: 1969 Gujarat riots, 1989 Bhagalpur riots, 1989 Kashmir violence, Godhra train burning, 1992 Bombay riots, 2002 Gujarat Massacre of Muslims and the latest violence against Muslims in Delhi. There also happened stray acts of violence against Muslims in India.
An India of dreams
Hinduism was perceived by me as a noble religion. The dangerous eddies and currents and treacherous whirlpools under the surface of the Indian society had escaped my romantic mind. What is happening around me is beyond my comprehension. I had held the view that all Indians, in a sense, are Hindus. Hinduism appeared to me as a culture rather than a religion. This religion to my limited knowledge was not confessional faith based on any specific book. Havel says; “In India religion is hardly a dogma, but a working hypothesis of human conduct, adapted to different stages of spiritual development” In “Indian Philosophy, Volume I – Dr. Sarvappally Radhakrishnan observes that in Hinduism an individual is “ free to roam in the matter of opinion. Reason freely questions and criticises the creeds in which men are born. That is why, the heretic, the sceptic, the unbeliever, the rationalist and the free thinker, the materialist and the hedonist, all flourish in the soil of India”.
Much water has flowed down the Ganga, Yamuna, Narmada, Kaveri and other rivers of India, in the interregnum of 99 years since Dr. Radhakrishnan made the above observations in 1921. His words seem to be empty and off the tangent in the light of the events unfolding now. Recent events and the emerging scenario cause apprehension and bode ill for the country ..
For the 2011 census, I declared myself as a non-religious person. I will reiterate the same position for the ensuing census, come what may.
I would like to spend the rest of my life in an India of synthesis and syncretism, where the citizen born and living in this country is not marginalised as an outsider and at worst marked for ethnic cleansing for his beliefs or non-beliefs, an India where everyone can live with human dignity and not being subjected to discrimination due to the accident of birth to parents with a specific genetic profile and professing a particular religion. I like to dream of an India where thousands and thousands of ideas and views bloom, where one can live, if not in harmony, at least in tolerance, with the neighbours , a mosaic of diversity, a garden of flowers of different hues and fragrance that flutter and dance with the gentle breeze, a legacy worthy to bequeath to the generations to come.
May I invoke the immortal words of Rabindranath Tagore in Gitanjali:
“Where the mind is without fear, and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up Into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert land of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”
N.B. Sources of material for the article, Wikipedia and other google sites.