Śrīkānta Profile picture
Indian Conservative of some kind, not sure which. Writes on Politics, Religion, Classics, Economics, and Intellectual History
Pradeep Gowda Profile picture প্রদীপ্ত মৈত্র (Pradipto Moitra) Profile picture Vamsi Duvvuri Profile picture குமரவேல் / Kumaravel Profile picture Avik | অভীক Profile picture 42 added to My Authors
Jun 4 7 tweets 2 min read
Outsiders may think

Why isn't there a generic Indian guilt w.r.t. caste injustices like the "white-guilt" in US?

Magnitude of past injustices varies by location, caste
Perpetrators (& victims) vary w/o fitting any pattern

Mainstream narrative vilifies one group The complexity on the ground is insane, to the point that the same group might be both victim and perpetrator in different contexts

Given this complexity, you are never going to get a "society"-wide guilt that "Dalits" (itself a slightly synthetic category) have been wronged
May 30 7 tweets 2 min read
On NYC's ascendance in US

Circa 1820
NYC was merely "first among equals"
Population: 124K
Philadelphia 64K, Baltimore 63K, Boston 43K

Big divergence was b/w 1820 & 1840
1830 - NYC moved to 202K, Baltimore/Philly 80K

1840 - NYC 313K, Baltimore 102K
Philly/Boston still < 100K What did the trick for NYC in that decade of divergence - 1820 to 1830 was the construction of the Erie Canal

One of the best investments any government has ever done anywhere!

Erie Canal cost NY state $7M in early 1820s
But was critical in ensuring NYC's stupendous rise
May 27 4 tweets 1 min read
Good interview

On वेद & धर्म-
Scholarly Tendency is to solely rely on existing evidence

But Absence of evidence != Evidence of absence

धर्मशास्त्र's that exist may have primordial Vedic roots

Surviving श्रुति is purely religious, yes
Need not have been the case 2.5K years ago Now you may dismiss this as pure romanticism

But likely true
If मानव धर्मशास्त्र is indeed a 2nd cen text from कुषाण period, it would've been ascribed to a "flesh and blood" historical figure

Obviously that's not the case as it is reworked material from far more ancient times
Apr 3 4 tweets 1 min read
Recovery from common cold / cough always takes about a week

In that period, you inevitably try many things

Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Steam inhalation, कषायं's of different kinds, cough syrups etc etc

You recover after 10 days, and you've no way to validate the efficacy of each! There is never a proper validation of each method.

For all you know, you might have recovered by doing nothing!

But you will never know. You can never sign up ppl for controlled experiments
Mar 20 5 tweets 1 min read
The mention of रामायण/भागवत पुराण legends in early Sangam age texts like புறநானூறு and அகநானூறு can puzzle the historian

Mainstream historians will react in two ways

1. Push back "Aryanization" timelines for the deep-south
2. Push even canonical Sangam texts to v late dates I favor the former

The Aryanization of the deep-south (as opposed to upper Deccan) is not something recorded in literature

It likely preceded the Sangam age, and belongs to the pre-history of South India

Sangam texts already capture an Aryanized Tamil society
Mar 18 7 tweets 2 min read
On conflict b/w liberal democracies and ideas of "greatness"

Lib-democracies entail party system. Entails politics. Requires us to see different wings as equally respectable or equally ignoble

No scope here for greatness / grandeur, which traditional societies seek In a liberal democratic set up, we have politics. Different worldviews competing in the political space

Here it's not that good is against evil. Instead you have Left and Right. Merely different worldviews with different lenses to evaluate social problems
Mar 14 5 tweets 1 min read
Lingual divides in India are a post 1956 reality, encouraged by the state

Traditionally the divides were almost non-existent in Indo-Aryan India. Much weaker even in South

There's a Prakrit continuum from Gujarati to Bengali.
No basis for regional pride based on language In Southern India, being bi-lingual / tri-lingual was super common among the educated classes, pre-independence than it is today.

We have created these barriers, where none existed a couple of generations ago
Feb 22 7 tweets 2 min read
It's fashionable to be aghast at Putin when he claims unity of Russia & Ukraine

But see the similarities

Both are slavic nations
They speak similar, though not mutually intelligible, languages
Both practice Eastern Orthodoxy
Kievan Rus is a common historical memory for both In fact the genetic, lingual, and even religious distance between Ukraine and much of Russia, is less than the genetic, lingual, and religious distance between Punjab and TN (let alone Kashmir and TN)
Feb 19 4 tweets 1 min read
The विष्णुकुण्डिन dynasty from 4th to 7th cen is an under-discussed dynasty of the Andhra region

Contrary to what is suggested by their dynastic name, they appear to have been mostly शैव and / or बौद्ध

Ironical! One of the kings of the dynasty - Vikramendravarman I, is described both as a परमसौगतः and परममाहेश्वरः in different inscriptions!

So it is an interesting case of a king being declared as being a prime devotee of both बुद्ध and शिव !
Feb 19 5 tweets 2 min read
There is a strain of thought that encourages Indians to settle around the world, spread their religion / way of life

What's likelier is that these Indians will lose their Indian-ness

The best place to stay Indian / Hindu is still India Things were very different some 1500 years ago when Indians ventured into South East Asia and East Asia, and spread their religions in those parts

India was perhaps the most ascendant civilization in the world at that time (after the fall of Rome)
Feb 18 5 tweets 1 min read
It's hard to understand the history of वैष्णव आगम's

Historians hold that much of the ritual पाञ्चरात्रिक literature developed around Kashmir b/w 8th and 10th cen (Sanderson)

But post 10th cen, the same traditions become dominant in Tamil country!

How does it travel so fast? As early as 11th cen, you have defenses of आगम's mounted by Tamil-country figures like यामुनाचार्य (e.g. आगमप्रामाण्यम्)

He is supposed to be in the पाञ्चरात्रिक tradition

But many of the primary texts are placed at the opposite end (Kashmir) just 100-200 years before him!
Jan 30 5 tweets 1 min read
Vedic lit classification can be along several axes

Composition style: ऋक्, यजुस्, सामन्
Collection: ऋग्वेद, यजुर्वेद, सामवेद, अथर्ववेद
Compositional layers: संहिता, ब्राह्मण, आरण्यक, उपनिषद्

The third classification makes the most intuitive sense
Second seems a tad forced On why I feel the second classification is a tad forced

Sure - सामवेद stands out as its focus is mainly on melodies, and it mostly borrows from ऋग्वेद for its words

But यजुर्वेद also borrows from ऋग्वेद
There are both ritual & मन्त्र sections attached to both ऋग्वेद & यजुर्वेद
Jan 22 10 tweets 2 min read
India's history is no doubt problematic, what with the baggage of the Persianate and Colonial ages over the past 800 years

Former - we have sort of dealt with through Partition
Latter - you cannot get rid of it

One has to come to terms with it & reconcile it with our H-heritage The former's influence was restricted to certain demographic segments in certain parts of the country - Punjab, Sindh, Bengal

It could be dealt with a territorial demarcation, as it did not exactly permeate the whole land
Jan 19 7 tweets 2 min read
In his earlier writings, he probably wasn't considering the Mitanni superstrate seriously

The distinctly Indo-Aryan (as opposed to Iranian) superstrate in Mitanni-Hittite treaty and the Kikkuli training text (~1400 BCE), was a major factor in indologists placing RV post 1500 BCE This, coupled with recent a-DNA data, that has sort of ruled out steppe influence in subcontinent pre 2000 BCE, is what has bolstered "mainstream" indological views

It has strengthened the case for a somewhat young RV (circa 1500 BCE or later)
Jan 16 14 tweets 3 min read
The mythic legends in epic poetry are hard to historically affirm

It is a hopeless task in the case of Indo-Aryan epic tradition (e.g महाभारत) or even Greek epic tradition

An interesting exception to this is the legend of Athiyamān Nedumān Añji in Puṟanāṉūṟu, the Sangam work Athiyamān Nedumān Añji is a legendary Velir king who ruled portions of North west Tamil country (likely the present day districts of Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri)

He is celebrated by the female poetess Avaiyyar in many poems, one of which is poem 87 of Puṟanāṉūṟu below Image
Jan 16 7 tweets 2 min read
I would slightly differ in emphasis here

Definitely these attributes mattered.
But there are a couple of other factors at work

Individualism - primogeniture contributed to this
Empiricism - A common sense approach focusing on data collection / observation / careful inference In a lot of other cultures, an empirical approach is scoffed at, outside of meeting proximate needs

Data for sake of data is not valued
Notice Darwin's meticulous observation of species on his voyages

Or British bureaucrats analyzing / cataloguing every little tribe in India
Jan 15 5 tweets 2 min read
For some weird reason, lots of Indians have a major struggle in coming to terms with their civilization's shortcomings

This needn't mean deracination. You can be rooted and yet acknowledge the great feats of a distant, unrelated, beef-eating civ

Not sure why it's so hard Not sure why so many amidst us think in binaries

Acknowledging the great feats of the Anglo-Saxons over the past 500 years needn't mean you embrace every aspect of their culture.

Be yourself, be secure. But also gracious and charitable
Jan 11 4 tweets 1 min read
It is near-impossible to discuss ancient history, particularly proto / pre-history with Indians (of all political hues)

There is a total unwillingness to react to evidence, revise views, engage with uncomfortable hypotheses

This is why foreigners write your history And this is precisely the crowd that wants to "revise" / "rewrite" history books

Arre...how on earth can you re-write when your camp has folks who deny the idea of language families

Who place the Vedic literature anywhere b/w 6th and 1st millennium BCE ! (a ridiculous range)
Jan 10 9 tweets 2 min read
Growing up I was hardly aware of the genetic diversity among Indian "tribal" languages

Gondi & Santhali belong to totally different language families - Dravidian & Austro-Asiatic!

More distant from each other than English is from Bengali

The insights linguistics can teach us! Yet we have this large segment within H-twitter that disdains linguistics

Thinks that it is a pseudo-science full of pseudo insights..

Ironically this growing strain of anti-intellectualism is in the land of great ancient linguists like पाणिनि!
Jan 10 7 tweets 1 min read
The conversation b/w नारद & सनत्कुमार in the 7th chapter of छान्दोग्य उपनिषद् is intriguing not for its literal import

But for the insight that what's truly valuable (and truly real) is always beyond our superficial comprehension

We never "figure" things out in their entirety When we moderns read that exchange b/w नारद & सनत्कुमार, we may wonder
"Hey...they're coming up with a random hierarchy of attributes to kill time"

What they are doing is - illustrating "first principles" thinking. Perhaps the earliest instance of the same in recorded literature
Jan 5 7 tweets 2 min read
On Brits and "moral compass" -

What distinguished Britain was not quite moral compass, but diversity of moral opinions - which made them less cruel

When a society is strongly individualistic with many shades of opinion + a free press, its capacity for cruelty is reduced This is in sharp contrast to societies that are united by a single theology, or societies that easily rally around one strongman leader

Such societies are more vulnerable to groupthink, and herd mentality

Which is for the most part not found in Anglo-Saxon cultures