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
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
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
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
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