The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate edwin bryant oxford



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Conclusion

We have seen how Aryanism was co-opted in all sorts of contradictory, but not necessary conflicting, ways by missionaries, colonialists, Orientalists, anthropologists, nationalists, and all manner of other ideologues in Europe throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Aryan connection was configured in support of just about any agenda. A parallel situation holds true for India. Politically, in terms of its European connections, Aryanism was welcomed by some as evidence of equality between the colonizers and the colonized—and could even be invoked to elicit assistance from the English Aryan brethren. In other discourses, it was heralded as proof of the spiritual superiority of the Hindu Aryans in comparison to the materialistic Western Aryans. In terms of its ramifications in the Indian political scene, it was deferred to as proof of Brahmanical Aryan superiority over the rest of the subcontinent or, contrarily, as proof of Brahmanical Aryan exploitation of the same.

From religious perspectives, however, the theory was more fundamentally troubling at least from Brahmanical viewpoints. It completely undermined traditional concepts of history and portrayed the wise Aryans of yore as little better than marauding barbar- ians. It was on the basis of the scriptural evidence that the first voices challenging the basis of the theory—as opposed to coopting it for ideological purposes—were raised. Suspicion of the theory based on scriptural testimony—or lack thereof—remains an ex- plicit or implicit factor in much Indigenous Aryan discourse. The science known as philology in the West, was to provide the terrain for the first forays by Indian Sanskritists against the conclusions of their Western peers. It is to this that I turn next.

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