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Who are the Aryans?

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 It is unjust to condemn all the different communities as communal or racial just because a few individuals think and act that way. Such foolish people are really ignorant of the past in a historical or social or cultural context (AFP) It is unjust to condemn all the different communities as communal or racial just because a few individuals think and act that way. Such foolish people are really ignorant of the past in a historical or social or cultural context (AFP)

A few of us who are extreme patriots and separatists are so obsessed with myths and so-called ancient history that we forget to live in the present and think of a bright future in a rapidly changing world. It is good to be patriotic to the land of our birth and even promote individual nationalism, but it is dangerous to go to extremes and destroy ourselves in the name of such popular ‘isms’.

There seems to be mutual fear among the different communities in the island of one ethnic group dominating the other. Such fear comes out of imagined threat and the concern to preserve the heritage and culture. While preservation is essential we should also consider the realities around us that we have to live with the other countries of the world.

There seems to be also a majority complex seeking the right to dominate .But is the power of the majority always right? Power rests not merely out of numerical strength. Knowledge Power, Economic Power, Democratic Power, Women Power, Minorities Power are also contributing to a nation’s power.
While thinking about these factors I came across an interview which was given by the Indian historian, RomilaThapar on the subject of ‘Traditions Versus Misconceptions’.  This interview was published by the Social Scientists’ Association some six years ago.

I give below just one extract of what the former Professor of History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi has said about the assumed supremacy of the Aryans. Originally the article was written in Manushi in the September-December issue in 1987. Answering to the question ‘Who were the Aryans and where did they come from?’ Romila Thapar said:

“I think the Aryan as a racial entity is an invention of 19th Century Europe. Now there certainly is a linguistic link between Sanskrit, Old Iranian, Greek, Latin, and various European languages. They have a common ancestor which is termed the Indo – European Language. At some point, the speakers of these languages got diffused. But this relationship of language was confused with a relationship of blood and it was argued that all people who spoke these languages were racially the same and related by blood. The theory took on a racial connotation and expanded into the theory that these racially superior Aryan people came to India and conquered the racially inferior Dravidian people.

“Today, the racial basis of this theory has been disproved…There is no way to identify an Aryan racially. The most we can talk about is the coming into India of a new language, Indo–Aryan, probably sometime in the late 2nd millennium BC. It did not necessarily come through conquest. It may have been brought by small groups of Indo-Aryan speakers who were migrants, pastoralists or itinerant traders.

“…Sanskrit itself evolved and changed as all languages do. Vedic Sanskrit is different from classical Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit is different from the Sanskrit of this later period. The relationship between Sanskrit and the regional languages which evolved some centuries ago varies in closeness and form. So the historical problem to be studied is a problem of the history and spread of languages, not of race.”

I think that we should think outside our ‘race consciousness’, if we are to emerge as a nation of people that speaks either Indo-Aryan or Dravidian languages. Again our main languages Sinhala and Tamil have borrowed from each other and have thus become vibrant and rich. Even the Sinhala and Thamil people are all mixed and one cannot speak of pure single race–either Sinhala or Thamil in this century. So it is absurd in my opinion to say that we are pure Sinhala or pure Thamil. There is no pure race or nation in any part of the world.

Therefore time has come to change our attitudes in relation to language, race, religion and culture. It is unjust to condemn all the different communities as communal or racial just because a few individuals think and act that way. Such foolish people are really ignorant of the past in a historical or social or cultural context.

As they say barking dogs will bark, but the caravan moves along. The first this Lankan Nation needs is to respect every human being in all respects and achieve smoother communication. Then half of our existing problems would have vanished. While the upper middle class and the lower middle class understand this reality and co-exist, it is the, may I say, ‘still unenlightened’ middle class continues its dilemma of majority power and minority power.   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 11:07
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