The Problem of Aryan Origins: From an Indian Point of View

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K.D. Sethna’s book takes up ‘from an Indian Point of View" a cluster of important historical questions about India’s most ancient past and formulates fresh answers to them in great detail with the temper of a scrupulous scholar. At one time modern historians had no doubt that Aryans who were the authors of the Rigveda had invaded the Indian subcontinent in the middle of the second millennium B.C. and overrun a primitive Dravidian population. After the highly developed Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappa Culture, was discovered, the assumed in-coming Aryans were thought to have destroyed it around 1500 B.C. and, though the script of this Civilization has not yet been acceptably read, the general tendency is to consider it as couching an old form of the Dravidian language Tamil. Lately several historians have attributed the destruction of the Harappa Culture to natural causes, but the belief that in the wake of that event foreigners who were associated with the Rigveda entered India is still very much in the air. The first edition of Sethna’s book dealt at length with this belief and its various corollaries as they were conceived up to the date of its publication: 1980. Archaeology, linguistics and literature were pressed into service so as to leave no loose ends. In the process a comprehensive framework got built for the insights and researches of contemporary India’s greatest seer and thinker: Sri Aurobindo. One of the pet current ideas shown with his help as well as independently to lack any firm basis was the popular antinomy of "Aryan" and "Dravidian" which has caused a good deal of bad blood in the country. The second edition, extensively enlarged with five supplements, demonstrates for the period after 1980 – at still greater length – with the same tools of wide-spread scholarship the validity of the first edition’s thesis. Whatever criticism, explicit or indirect has opposed this thesis has been unflinchingly faced. Now, at a number of points the penetrating vision of Sri Aurobindo comes into play again with even a more elaborate presentation of his study of the spiritual and cultural issues connected with the ancient Rigveda. Special attention has been drawn in the longest supplement to the well-known Finnish linguist and Indologist Asko Parpola who has recently made the most impressive attempt so far to revive the theory of an Aryan invasion in c. 1500 B.C. and to cope with problem of Aryan origins. Close study of the diverse arguments brought forward by Parpola has led Sethna to probe deeper into his own general position that the Rigveda is anterior to the Indus Valley Civilization by a broad margin. The result is both a minute scrutiny of several surprising suggestions arising from the Rigveda and a many-aspected review of events dating back to the sixth millennium B.C. and covering not only India’s antiquity but also the earliest formative stages of Baluchistan’s Mehrgarh and of Central Asian Regions.


K.D. Sethna was educated at St. Xavier’s School and College in Bombay. He passed his Intermediate Arts examination of Bombay University with the Hughlings Prize in English and the Selby Scholarship in Logic. He took his B.A. degree with Philosophy Honours and the Ellis Prize in English. During his M.A. studies he felt an inner call to join the Sri Aurobindo Ashram of Integral Yoga at Pondicherry. Since 1949 he has been the Editor of Mother India, a Review of Culture, first a fortnightly published from Bombay and later a monthly published from the Ashram. At the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education he has lectured on Poetry. His interests have ranged from literature, philosophy, mystical and spiritual as well as scientific thought to topics of ancient Indian history and current international no less than national questions. He has contributed articles to various academic journals. Among his publications are: Evolving India, Essays on Cultural Issues; The Indian Spirit and the World’s Future; Karpasa in Pre-Historic India: A Chronological and Cultural Clue-with an Introduction by Dr. H.D. Sankalia; Ancient India in a New Light; The English Language and the Indian Spirit: Correspondence with Kathleen Raine; The Spirituality of the Future: A Search Apropos of R.C. Zaehner’s Study in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard De Chardin; The Vision and Work of Sri Aurobindo; The Poetic Genius of Sri Aurobindo; Sri Aurobindo-The Poet; Sri Aurobindo on Shakespeare; Light and Laughter: Some Talks at Pondicherry; Our Light and Delight: Recollections of Life with the Mother of Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram; “Two Loves” and “A Worthier Pen”: The Enigmas of Shakespeare’s Sonnets; The Obscure and the Mysterious: A Research in Mallarme’s Symbolist Poetry; Blake’s Tyger: A Christological Interpretation; The Secret Splendour (Poems); The Adventure of the Apocalypse (Poems); Altar and Flame (Poems); “Overhead Poetry”: Poems with Sri Aurobindo’s Comments; Talks on Poetry.


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The Problem of Aryan Origins: From an Indian Point of View
Rev. & Enl. Ed.
xx+443p., Maps; Index; Bibliography; 22cm.