Indian History Carnival – 37: Vasco da Gama, Venice, Patanjali

  1. Giacomo Benedetti looks at what ancient DNA can tell us about the Indo-European problem.
  2. We can suppose that the Oxus valley was an ancient seat for the R1a1a people coming from South Asia, and that they spoke an Indo-European language. From Central Asia they should have moved to the Kurgan area in Ukraine, and from there to Central Europe. Another R1a1a people went eastward up to the Tarim Basin (see here) and another to the Andronovo area near Krasnoyarsk in Siberia (see here). But we know that they all had their ultimate origin in western South Asia, and their expansion in Eurasia seems to be dated particularly in the metal age, since all these cultures knew metals.

  3. Recently Dr. Koenraad Elst wrote that there is no reason to believe that Patanjali the grammarian was also the author of Yoga Sutras. Sarvesh Tiwari decided to investigate.
  4. Indologists objections revolve around the usual suspects: that there are interpolations, the non-homogeneity of texts, some philosophical concepts are allegedly imported from or influenced by the nAstika doctrines and therefore the resulting dating issues, some concepts that allegedly contradict and therefore could not have come from one person, dissecting the texts to such absurd level that the whole loses the meaning and then at that level showing the minor differences, and so on. But having seen those arguments we are convinced that none of them really stand water and we shall take a raincheck without getting into discussing those. We shall only say that the real issue here is the hankering to somehow give these texts absurdly late dates, besides of course trivializing their authorship, devaluing their worth and integrity, as well as obfuscating their origins and genesis.

  5. In 1498, Vasco da Gama reached Calicut and met the Zamorin. Maddy goes through an account of the meeting and offers his commentary. He also displays how various artists rendered this meeting.
  6. Shows the Zamorin with a golden conical crown which is a depiction of a possible Thalapaavu or turban. Did the Zamorin wear a turban for ceremonial occasions? It is doubtful, but may have been keeping up appearances. The people around are obviously half clad (in reality just wearing a dhoti) and look terribly muscular (virtually impossible). As we read in Correa’s and other writings, the possibility of rings around his shin and calves like Romans is pretty doubtful, though he wore a Shringala. The large spittoon is depicted wrongly and the overall ambience thoroughly inappropriate. The room itself looks too high (impossible for a thatched roof dwelling) with ornate curtains and hangings. Note that the Zamorin has no beard.

  7. When the Portuguese discovered the path to Calicut, it had repurcussions not just in India, but in Europe as well. CHF writes
  8. Within the next couple of years, economic depression engulfed many of the trade centres of Europe, with firms collapsing and banks failing. The crisis was felt most in Venice which was the largest buyer of Asian spices. The Venetian Senate passed a resolution on 15th January 1506 on the alarming fall in trade as a consequence of the Portuguese arrival in Calicut: Since, as everybody knows, this commerce has now been reduced to the worst possible condition, it is essential to take some action and to provide our citizens with every facility for sailing the seas.

  9. Anuraag Sanghi has a review of Arun Shourie’s Eminent Historians
  10. Till 1857, the British followed the Spanish model, and used religious logic, to justify their plunder and massacre in India. The British used religious differences to foist artificial Muslim ‘leaders’ on India – to finally partition India. While Shourie is critical of these Muslim ‘leaders’ (rightly), of Nehru (partly to blame), he is gentle in his criticism of the British role (Chapter 14).

If you find interesting blog posts on India history, please send it to @gmail or to @varnam_blog. The next carnival will be up on Feb 15th.

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