Sunday, 3 January 2010

Why a new Indology?

Because Indology is in a period when a change of paradigm is required. The traditional theory of the Aryan invasion and the related chronology are challenged by the new archaeological picture of South Asia, by the discoveries in the field of genetics, and by the new Indian school of indigenism applied to the Vedic literature. Instead of defending the old paradigm, it would be better to elaborate a new one, open to continual revision, but based on the following points:

1) The theory of an Aryan invasion of South Asia has no definite grounds in literature, archaeology, anthropology and genetics.
2) The traditional chronology of the Vedas is not justified, but purely hypothetical, and we should try to reconstruct a new chronology on a valid basis.
3) The Harappan civilisation is to be considered as related to the Vedic civilisation, since the area, and partly the period, are the same.
4) The recent studies in the field of archaeology and anthropology reveal continuity in the Indian prehistory and protohistory.
5) We should give more attention to the Indian historical tradition, following in F.E. Pargiter's footsteps.

That means that we must rethink many ideas about Aryan and pre-Aryan, all the connected racist myths as well as the simplistic division between cultural elements derived from the Aryans and from the pre-Aryans. That also means that we must rethink the relationship between the Indian culture and the other Indo-European cultures and we must investigate if South Asia can be the cradle of the Indo-European languages.

This ‘new Indology’ which rises obviously does not claim to cancel the ‘old Indology’, based on the ‘invasionist’ scenario, because certainly it does not lose all its validity, since fortunately it was not only dealing with the Aryan invasion. But we should accept that we cannot continue to affirm and spread the old paradigm as if it were a natural truth, as if nothing had happened in the knowledge of the Indian past. Change requires effort and maybe correction of what we have stated in the past, but it is the law of the world, of science, and a fascinating challenge.


  1. This is a fascinating blog Giacomo Benedetti. It brings a whiff of fresh air. Congratulations.

    I just want to post a link to my websites where many issues of the Hindu civilization are discussed with particular reference to Vedic River Sarasvati and Indus writing. Almost the entire corpus of inscriptions of the civilization is available there.

    dhanyavaadah. Dr. S. Kalyanaraman, Sarasvati Research and Education Trust

  2. Very glad to see your blog. Thank you!

  3. Dear Dr. Kalyanaraman, thank you so much for your congratulations. I already knew, obviously, of your work on the Sarasvati River, but I did not know your websites, which are really rich! I do not have much time in this period, but I will certainly appreciate them in the next days. I have already seen the short film about the Sarasvati River, which has reminded me of my visit of Adi Badri in 2004, thanks to a friend who is professor at Kurukshetra University.

    Namas karomi,

    Giacomo Benedetti

  4. hats off for you...because you stand apart from the chauvinist Hindu revivalist...who , may be doing partly necessary propaganda, yet are unscientific in their approach, and also from the
    old school western scholars who are too biased by their ageold constructions.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. another important point from philosophy of science.....
    soft sciences like history, archaeology, linguistics are very resistant to paradigm shift..
    nrwer paradigm of indology need to have its own peer reviewed journals, its own conferences, its own rigorous survive and make real changes in science..
    that is my gut feeling...
    being soft science orthodox indology would go on resisting changes.....

  7. Thank you for this significant appreciation!

  8. And for your advice, actually in Canada (for instance Aklujkar in British Columbia), USA and India it seems that there is already a part of the academy interested in a change of paradigm, so maybe it's not necessary to create a new academic world against the 'old' one, even if there is still a lot of resistance and the idea of a journal devoted to the new paradigm can be interesting. If someone is interested, we can speak about it...

  9. I am from biomedical engineering background hence
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    If you already not know "infinty foundation" , new jersey based foundation may be able to offer such help.


  10. Another new find is related to "sheet anchor" in the chronology of indology.
    Supposedly the Megasthenes's account of interaction with Chandragupta has been the sheet anchor through which all the chrnology of Indian dynasties have been derived by old indologist.

    It can be reasoanbly doubted whether the interaction was with Chandragupta Maurya or with Chandragupta from Gupta empire.

    This creates mismatch of 600 years.
    Thus Buddha might not have been from 6th century BC but quite earlier ...may be 1200 BC or may be 1500 BC.
    If it is so then it has lot of implications related to Indus valley civilization, and overall history of India.

    I just wanted to put to your notice this aspect also.
    So it is not only the ancient Indian history has been screwed, the medieval period or period at the time of Buddha also has been wrongly dated.
    If this gets corrected by trusting the puranic sources then many things would fall in place.

    Also another matter is related to trusting the Indian sources. My view is becoming that Indian sources are not only equally trustworthy but are more so.
    Because science of astrology ( not in the derogratory pseudoscience sense), but science of creating calendars, observing stars , associated mathematics ( calculus, trignometry ) was far well developed in India.
    According to many scieentist including C.k. raju. The 15th century mathematics of India has significant influence on later development of math. and physics in europe but it has not been given due credit it deserves.

    SO if this is true then there are many references to historical events in indian astrological texts or other texts in general.
    These references could be far more accurate ( except mention of million year old civilization etc.).
    So if new indology need to be developed , the archeoastronmy, the branch which takes seriously the mentions in these texts needs to be developed further.

    Checking these texts for internal consistancy, trying to critically look at these texts would provide further true insight into the actual dates of various historical events in India.

    Thus doubting the old chronology and using puranic and astological sources for acurate dating, we may get clearer picture of India's past.
    And there is very sound reason for making these corrections.

  11. Thanks for the comment. About the 'sheet anchor', it is sound, at least because the edicts of Ashoka mention Hellenistic kings, and Greek sources mention the Mauryas. The exact dates of the Buddha are still quite controversial, but it is likely that He lived around the 5th century.
    About the Puranic (and Epic) sources, I agree that they deserve attention, I used them in my doctoral thesis and in an article about archaeology and traditional chronology for the date of the Mahabharata battle and other events.

  12. Another aspect I can think of is cultural exchange along Indian ocean rim prior to the European arrival post-Vasco de Gama.
    There is history of cultural exchange across Indian ocean, and probably it goes back to two thousand years before Christ.
    ex. how and when does banana plantation arrive in Africa?
    This often is overlooked aspect of history...there are some groups working on this...but it could shed more light on maritime cultures and interactions.
    Indian subcontinent , even before the arrival of europeans was culturally linked to africa, souhteast asia, far doea that go back?
    what are its implications?

  13. Yes, fascinating topic, there are traces of very ancient trade between Africa and India and Southeast Asia. For instance, some cereals came to India from Africa in the prehistory. The Indian zebu arrived in Africa more recently, with the Arabs, but banana, I've discovered now thanks to your suggestion, has been found in Africa already in a 3000 BC level, and the origin is in New Guinea-Southeast Asia. Here in Paris there is a series of lectures about the archaeology of the Indian Ocean, so someone is working about that, and in India I know Sunil Gupta who is specialized in this field.

  14. Another aspect I want to mention is....supposed absence of Indus river valley culture in ganges river valley.
    Is it really true?

    Because Indus river valley cultural sites are found as south as Maharashtra.
    Then if they are present in Punjab region, why not in uttar pradesh region?
    what factors were preventing them from having sites there? I don't find any great barrier ( presence of dense jungle or long desert seperating/ isolating Punjab region from uttar pradesh region)
    thus my guess is not just after drying up of saraswati, but since early on ganges river might atleast would have few cities/ sites with culture similar to Indus river.

    The questions is why they have not been discovered yet?
    larger questions would be, were the previous archeologist thorough and comprehensive in their search or not?

    Also the reason might be , it is highly populated area with continuous human habitation, thus one would have to dig inside the currently existing great cities and not some mounds of lost cities.

    ex. benares, mathura, prayag (allahabad).

    Probably one day we may find the remnants of ancient cities with culture very similar to Indus valley below these legendary cities.

    If there is Indus valley site in dwaraka, why not in ujjain, prayag, varanasi, kannauj, mathura?

  15. Well, there is at least one Early Harappan site in western UP, Nawanbans, and later there are other Harappan sites like Alamgirpur, Hulas and Sinauli. The Ochre Coloured Pottery is also contemporary of Harappans in UP. But the most interesting site in UP is Jhusi, that I have cited in a previous post about the roots of Indian civilization, which is near Prayag, and has a continuous occupation from the Neolithic times (at least VII mill. BC).
    It is a good observation that in UP there are big historical cities, and this is an obstacle to excavations, for instance maybe in Varanasi they could find something more ancient than Rajghat (800 BC) under the city. At least not far from Varanasi, at Aktha and Sarai-Mohana, they have found remains from 1200 BC. But it seems that for finding something similar to Harappan cities we have to wait the historical period: in the mound of Kampilya, Italian archaeologists have found a city with a structure analogous to Dholavira (


    Please find my two papers below and circulate amongst the skeptics, particularly!

    To state the obvious, the Indus script was a logo-syllabic script and a lost corpus did exist.

    Published in the ICFAI journal of history and culture, January 2011

    Published in International journal of philosophy and journal sciences , November 2012

    I am also introducing logo-syllabic thesis B in this paper

    The paper is very self-explanatory! does anybody still beg to differ?

    Sujay Rao Mandavilli

  17. i am pleased to announce the publication of my fifth research paper in a peer-reviewed journal

    this deals with the origin of Brahmi . this is a logical and self-explanatory paper and is written using a multi-disciplinary approach. it is written in such a way that anybody can cross-verify the conclusions.

    sujay rao mandavilli

  18. Literacy in pre-Buddhist India (before 600 BC)

    Please find my collection of papers on literacy in Pre-Buddhist India

    Before mature phase of Indus valley civilization (before 2600 BC)

    - There are some potters marks but none qualify as full writing

    Indus valley civilization (2600 BC to 1900 BC)

    1. The reconfirmation and reinforcement of the Indus script thesis (very logical and self explanatory paper)

    2. The reintroduction of the lost manuscript hypothesis (the case for this thesis has obviously become much stronger in the recent past)

    Post-Harappan India (1600 BC to 600 BC)

    1. Literacy in post-Harappan india (obviously literacy in post-Harappan India existed in certain pockets & were limited to very small sections of society- alphabetic scripts were brought from West Asia and the Indus script also continued – this a very logical and self-explanatory paper and anyone can cross-verify the conclusions)

    Sujay Rao Mandavilli