Aryan-Dravidian Controversy, Part 3/3
....Continued from the last post....
Aryan and Dravidian Languages
The Indo-European languages and the Dravidian do have important differences.
Their ways of developing words and grammer are different. However, it is a
misnomer to call all Indo-European languages Aryan. The Sanskrit term Aryan
would not apply to European languages, which are materialistic in orientation,
bacause Aryan in Sanskrit means spiritual. When the term Aryan is used as
indicating certain languages, the term is being used in a Western or European
sense that we should remember is quite apart from its traditional Sanskrit
meaning, and implies a racial bias that the Sanskrit term does not have.
We can speak of Indo-European and Dravidian languages, but this does not
necessarily mean that Aryan and Dravidian must differ in culture, race or
religion. The Hungarians and Finns of Europe are of a different language
group than the other Europeans, but we do not speak of them as of a Finnish
race, or the Finns as being non-Europeans, nor do we consider that their
religious beliefs must therefore be unrelated to those of the rest of Europe.
Even though Dravidian languages are based on a different model than Sanskrit
there are thirty to seventy per cent Sanskrit words in south Indian languages
like Telugu and Tamil, which is much higher percentage than north Indian
languages like Hindi. In addition both north and south Indian languages have
a similar construction and phraseology that links them close together, which
European languages often do not share. This has caused some linguists even to
propose that Hindi was a Dravidian language. In short, the language compart-
ments, like the racial ones, are not as rigid as has been thought.
In fact if we examine the oldest Vedic Sanskrit, we find similar sounds to
Dravidian languages (the cerebral letters, for example), which are not present
in other Indo-European tongues. This shows either that there were already
Drvidians in the same region as the Vedic people, and part of the same culture
with them, or that Dravidian languages could also have been early off-shoots
of Sanskrit, which was the theory of the modern rishi, Sri Aurobindo. In
addition the traditional inventor of the Dravidian languages was said to have
been none other than Agastya, one of the most important rishis of the Rig
Veda, the oldest Sanskrit text.
Dravidians in Vedic/Puranic Lore
Some Vedic texts, like the Aitareya Brahmana or Manu Samhita, have looked at
the Dravidians as people outside of the Vedic culture. However, they do not
look at them as indigenous or different people but as fallen descendants of
Vedic kings, notably Vishwamitra. These same texts look upon some people of
north India, including some groups from Bengal, as also outside of Vedic
culture, even though such people were Indo-European in language.
Other texts like the Ramayana portray the Dravidians, the inhabitants of
Kishkindha (modern Karnataka), as allies of Aryan kings like Rama. The Vedic
rishi Agastya is also often portrayed as one of the progenitors of the Dravid-
ian peoples. Hence there appears to have been periods in history when the
Dravidians or some portion of them were not looked on with favour by some
followers of Vedic culture, but this was largely temporary.
If we look through the history of India, there has been some time when
almost every part of India has been dominated for a period by unorthodox
traditions like Buddhist, Jain or Persian (Zoroastrian), not to mention outside
religions like Islam or Christianity, or dominated by other foreign conquerors,
like the Greeks, the Scythians (Shakas) or the Huns. That Gujarat was a once
suspect land to Vedic people when it was under Jain domination does not cause
us to turn the Gujaratis into another race or religion. That something similar
happened to the Dravidians at some point in history does not require making
something permanently non-Aryan about them. In the history of Europe for
example, that Austria once went through a protestant phase, does not cause
modern Austrians to consider that they cannot be Catholics.
The kings of south India, like the Chola and Pandya dynsties, relate their
lineages back to Manu. The Matsya Purana moreover makes Manu, the progenitor
of all the Aryas, originally a south Indian king, Satyavrata. Hence there are
not only traditions that make the Dravidians descendants of Vedic rishis and
kings, but those that make the Aryans of north India descendants of Dravidian
kings. The two cultures are so intimately related that it is difficult to say
which came first. Any differences between them appear to be secondary, and
nothing like the great racial divide that the Aryan-Dravidian idea has
Dravidians as Preservers of Vedic Culture
Through the long and cruel Islamic assault on India, south India became the
land of refuge for Vedic culture, and to a great extent remains so to the
present day. The best Vedic chanting, rituals and other traditions are preser-
ved in south India. It is ironic therefore that the best preservers of Aryan
culture in India have been branded as non-Aryan. This again was not something
part of the Aryan tradition of India, as part of the misinterpretation of the
term Aryan fostered by European thought which often had a political or religi-
ous bias, and which led to the Nazis. To equate such racism and violence with
the Vedic and Hindu religion, the least aggressive of all religions, is a
rather sad thing, not to say very questionable scholarship.
Dravidians do not have to feel that Vedic culture is any more foreign to
them than it is to the people of north India. They need not feel that they are
racially different than the people of the north. They need not feel that they
are losing their culture by using Sanskrit. Nor need they feel that they have
to assert themselves against north India or Vedic culture to protect their
Vedic and Hindu culture has never suppressed indigenous cultures or been
opposed to cultral variations, as have the monolithic conversion religions
of Christianity and Islam. The Vedic rishis and yogis encouraged the develop-
ment of local traditions. They established sacred places in all the regions
in which their culture spread. They did not make everyone have to visit a
single holy place like Meca, Rome or Jerusalem. Nor did they find local or
tribal deities as something to be eliminated as heathen or pagan. They
respected the common human aspiration for the Divine that we find in all
cultures and encouraged diversity and uniqueness in our approach to it.
Meanwhile the people of north India also need not take this north-south
division as something fundamental. It is not a racial difference that makes
the skin of south Indians darker but merely the effect of climate. Any
Caucasian race group living in the tropics for some centuries or millennia
would eventually turn dark. And whatever color a person's skin may be has
nothing to do with their true nature according to the Vedas that see the same
Self or Atman in all.
It is also not necessary to turn various Vedic gods into Dravidian gods
to give the Dravidians equality with the so-called Aryans in terms of the
numbers or antiquity of their gods. This only gives credence to what is
superficial distinction in the first place. What is necessary is to assert
what is truly Aryan in the culture of India, north or south, which is high or
spiritual values in character and action. These occur not only in the Vedas
but also the Agamas and other scriptures within the greater tradition.
The Aryans and Dravidians are part of the came culture and we need not
speak of them as separate. Dividing them and placing them at odds with each
other serves the interests of neither but only serves to damage their common
culture (which is what most of those who propound these ideas are often seek-
ing). Perhaps the saddest thing is that modern Indian politicians have also
used this division to promote their own ambitions, though it is harmful to
the unity of the country.