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Re: Contribution of 'Backward Classes' to Hinduism and India

In article <31jffu$63q@ucunix.san.uc.edu> f0g1@jupiter.sun.csd.unb.ca (Prasad Gokhale) writes:
> Mahabharat ia a text documenting the *history* of an ancient civilization.
> The characters and events chronicled in the great text therefore are not
> mythical or fictitious. 


What critical scholar of the Mahabharata has convincingly proven
the veracity of your above statement? There is really no way of
knowing how true the stories in the Mahabharata are.  If anything,
it is certain that the epic grew over a period of many centuries;
this is obvious from the many layers discernible in the text itself.
I would recommend you look at the outstanding work done by the
scholars of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute.

> He [Ved Vyas] has written down what he saw and knew as a "itihas",
> as a history of that time. Sage Vedvyas, like Krishna, Yudhisthira,
> Arjuna, Duryodhana, Abhimanyu, Parikshit, Janamejaya, did exist -- 
> having two hands and two legs like people today. The Mahabharat has been
> dated to around 3100 B.C by numerous scholars, and even beyond that by
> others. Dr. Vartak has calculated the date of the commencement of the
> War to be 16th October 5561 B.C.

If I may say so, you are simply repeating ideas that you have been 
raised with without having any critical or historical backing.
As far as we know, Veda Vyasa was *not* a singly historical figure; 
even if he was, the epic he composed was far different from the 
versions extant today.  Of this, all reputable scholars are certain. 
Even orthodox Hindus disagree with what verses do and do not belong 
the Mahabharata.  

As for your date of 3100 B.C., this is as good a hypothesis as
Bishop Ussher's dating the creation of the cosmos to 4004 B.C.
Can I tell you how these individuals who have pretensions to 
scholarship arrive at such an astoundingly accurate date? They
first assume that Kali Yuga is an actuality (a fact which itself
is dependent on the Mahabharata and subsequent works), and then,
working backward from the tradition that King Y lived in the 
XXXX'th year of Kali Yuga, they date the death of Krishna to 
3102 B.C. 

I do now know who your Dr. Vartak is, but I doubt he has examined
manuscripts or has any solid evidence backing up his claims. If
he has, can you cite me any papers which contain the research
he has conducted? I assure you, had he any convincing proof, the
Indological world would fall at his feet.

> Same is true with the Ramayan. That it did not occur, and Rama was a 
> mythical character is just not true. Sage Valmiki has written down
> the accomplishments of a Great Hero, contemporary to him, who lived 
> in the ancient times.  The Ramayanic Era precedes the Mahabharat
> Era. Though much work remains to be done in dating the Ramayanic
> events, Dr. Vartak's attempt to calculate the dating of the incidents
> in the Ramayanic Age from internal astronomical evidences defintely
> needs mention. According to him, Shree Rama's birth date is 4th December
> 7323 B.C. Rama therefore existed approximately 9000 years ago.
> He is part of the history of Hindus; the history of Bharat.

Prasad, do you realize how ridiculous your claims are? If you can
give me a single solid piece of archeological, textual, or inscriptional
evidence of your 7323 B.C. date, I would be very happy. This, by 
the way, does *not* even coincide with the traditional claims of 
Sri Rama's antiquity, which take him back to Treta Yuga.

The evidence of the level of civilization in India at that early a 
period simply precludes the truth of your statements.  Rama, as
depicted in Valmiki's Ramayana may have been an actual person, but
we can never know for sure. It is more a matter of faith and belief
than anything else.  

I suppose you believe the Uttara Kanda is part of Valmiki's original
text as well?

> Also, Hindus do not have any concept of an "ism". Hinduism is recognized
> by its history, its art, its literature, the ancient culture, the
> rise and fall of Vedic civilizations and not by some dogma or a book,
> associated with western "religions" or "isms". Buddhism is essentially
> a part and parcel of Sanatana Dharma alias Hinduism. Listing Dr.Ambedkar's
> name in the list of Hindu limuniaries is justifiable.

Buddhism, though it shares certain beliefs with "Hinduism", is
a starkly different religion, and your denying its individuality
indicates either your dishonesty or your ignorance.  To begin with,
most people who use the term "Hindu" accept that the Vedas have some
authority.  Buddhists never have.  Your assertion that the concept
of Hinduism is related to the Vedic religion should show you how
Buddhism, Jainism, etc., are branches of thought quite distinct from
the Vedic ones.  

You should also be aware that the Vedic civiliation and religion
is entirely different from that practiced by 99% of Indians ("Hindu"
or otherwise) today.  This is why, although I am called a Hindu
by others, I abhor the term. It means absolutely nothing.


P.S. Why the historicity of what is undoubtedly "epic" literature
is so important confounds me. These tails have been embroidered
by pious imaginations for centuries. It is obvious that they began
as oral traditions that grew as the original stories passed from
generation to generation.  Those who argue so vehemently about
the accuracy of a specific date are missing the point behind the
stories themselves.

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