Shrikant G. Talageri

From Dharmapedia Wiki
(Redirected from Shrikant Talageri)
Jump to: navigation, search

Shrikant G. Talageri, born in 1958, was educated in Bombay where he lives and works. He has been interested in Wildlife, Comparative Music, Religion and Philosophy, History and Culture and Linguistics. He has made a special study of the Konkani language, his mother tongue. He has devoted several years, and much study, to the theory of an Aryan invasion of India, and interpreted the Vedas with the help of the internal chronology of Rig vedic Rishes within Rig Veda with the help of genealogical records Anukramanis.

Talageri-Witzel controversy[edit]

Talageri's first book (1993) was strongly criticized by the linguist Michael Witzel and by Erdosy in 1995, as being "devoid of scholarly value", and it was characterized as belonging to a "lunatic fringe".[1] On the basis of Witzel's mis-citation of Talageri's book's title as one (and the consistent misspelling of Talageri's name) in his bibliography and elsewhere, Talageri asserts that Witzel criticized the book in a 1995 paper without having read or seen it.[2]. Talageri noted that "this strong condemnation of a book, unread and unseen by them, is both unacademic and unethical" [3]

Talageri wrote a critique of a number of scholars such as Griffith, Pargiter, Tilak and Aurobindo in his book on the Rig Veda[4]. In the same book (Chapter 9), he wrote a critique of Michael Witzel's (1995) interpretation of the Rig Veda. This chapter, in the words of Talageri[5] "shows Professor Witzel inventing evidence, suppressing inconvenient data, following an inconsistent methodology, retrofitting data into pre-conceived notions, contradicting himself again and again, and using misleading language". Witzel didn't write a rebuttal of this chapter in his review on Talageri's book, but only stated that it is "a long and confused ‘analysis’ in Talageri’s book of my same 1995 paper” and that the “angry assault on my 1995 paper…. can thankfully be passed over here”. Talageri later considered his criticism of other scholars as unnecessary, and he writes that other scholars like N.S. Rajaram "reprimanded" him for chapters 8 and 9, which Rajaram "felt were superfluous and unnecessary and detracted from the value of my [Talageri's] work." [6]

Talageri wrote a critique of a number of scholars such as Griffith, Pargiter, Tilak and Aurobindo in his book on the Rig Veda.[7] In Chapter 9, he singled out Michael Witzel's (1995) interpretation[8] of the structure and history of the Rig Veda. In this chapter, Talageri alleges [9] "Professor Witzel inventing evidence, suppressing inconvenient data, following an inconsistent methodology, retrofitting data into pre-conceived notions, contradicting himself again and again, and using misleading language". Witzel later wrote a review of Talageri's book.[10] He based it on Talageris' alleged ignorance of the long-established structure of the Rigveda (Oldenberg 1888, English 2003.[11] Talageri also uses the purportedly late Vedic Anukramani (a list of poets, deities and meters) in analyzing the text of the Rigveda that is, per current scholarly consensus, and challenged by Talageri, hundreds of years earlier. Both items combined render, in Witzel's view, the book entirely erroneous, and he therefore did not find it necessary to write a lengthy rebuttal of chapter 9, stating that it is "a long and confused ‘analysis’" and that, therefore, the "angry assault on my 1995 paper … can thankfully be passed over here". It should be noted that Talageri's central thesis is to recast the chronology of the Rg Vedic texts. His conclusions (revision of Aryan Invasion theory, etc.) follows from this alternative history. Talageri considers his evidence unaddressed by Witzel, and the debate seems to have taken on the aspect of two scholars talking past each other.

After the publication of his book on the Rig Veda (2000), Talageri was offered on 17 June 2000 the possibility to do advanced study or a Ph.D. with Witzel in Harvard, "provided he [Talageri] is open-minded and flexible in his views, and does not show himself to be intransigent or predisposed to certain ideas".[12] Talageri declined this offer "for purely personal reasons as much as in view of the blatantly fishy proviso".[13]

Talageri later considered his criticism of other scholars as unnecessary (but then repeated it forcefully in his next book, 2008), and he wrote that other writers like N.S. Rajaram "reprimanded" him for chapters 8 and 9, which Rajaram "felt were superfluous and unnecessary and detracted from the value of my [Talageri's] work." [14]

The debate was reviewed by Koenraad Elst in his book "Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate" (1999; ISBN 81-86471-77-4), points out that the review added little new to the discourse, with Witzel mostly rehashing his original scholarship. Talageri's arguments have since been largely unaddressed, and it is difficult to find a direct scholarly affirmation or contradiction of his argument.[15]

Talageri writes: "My book was published in early 2000, and I sent a copy of it to Witzel (not in a nasty spirit, and certainly not in anticipation of bouquets, but only to facilitate a healthy dialogue, or, at the very least, as a matter of courtesy). Earlier, I had also sent a copy to another scholar at Harvard (with whom I had earlier established indirect and temporary contact). Within a month I received an e-mail letter from that scholar (addressed to a mutual acquaintance) dated 17 June 2000, relating that there had been a discussion between Witzel and himself “about the possibility of Talageri coming to study with him (Witzel) in Harvard to do advanced study or a Ph.D.” Witzel, the scholar wrote, “is the Vedic scholar par excellence, and Shrikant could get proper training and academic credentials if he were to be accepted”. I was asked to “contact Michael Witzel directly”. There was a proviso – as discreetly phrased as the rest of the letter – “provided he is open-minded and flexible in his views, and does not show himself to be intransigent or predisposed to certain ideas”. I wrote back politely putting off the offer, for purely personal reasons as much as in view of the blatantly fishy proviso."

Works[edit]

Quotes[edit]

  • A true scholarship would examine, and then either accept or reject, with good reason, any new theory which challenges a generally accepted theory admitted to be full of sharp anomalies. However, this has not been the attitude of world scholarship towards our earlier book. The general attitude has been as follows: there is a school of crank scholarship in India which is out to prove, by hook or by crook, that India was the original homeland of the Indo-European family of languages; and the writers of this school deserve to be firmly put in their place. And the best method of doing this is by tarring all scholars who support, or even appear to support, an Indian homeland theory, with one brush; and then pointing out particularly untenable propositions made by one or the other of the scholars so branded together, to prove that all the scholars so named belong to one single school of irrational scholarship.
    • Shrikant Talageri, The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis, 2000.
  • This is on the basis of the Aryan invasion theory according to which 'Aryans' invaded India in the early second millennium BC, and conquered it from the 'natives'. This theory is based purely on an eighteenth century linguistic proposition, and has no basis either in archaeology, or in literature, or in the racial-ethnic composition of India. What concerns us more, so far as this present volume is concerned, is the attempt to brand Hindu religious texts, on the basis of this theory, as 'invader' texts: a UNESCO publication characterises the Rigveda as 'the epic of the destruction of one of the great cultures of the ancient world.'
    • Shrikant Talageri, The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis, 2000.
  • Therefore, Shrikant Talageri calls on his fellow Hindus to change their outlook: “On the Indian front, [the Hindutva movement] should spearhead the revival, rejuvenation and resurgence of Hinduism, which includes not only religious, spiritual and cultural practices springing from Vedic or Sanskritic sources, but from all other Indian sources independently of these: the practices of the Andaman islanders and the (pre-Christian) Nagas are as Hindu in the territorial sense, and Sanâtana in the spiritual sense, as classical Sanskritic Hinduism. (…) A true Hindutvavâdî should feel a pang of pain, and a desire to take positive action, not only when he hears that the percentage of Hindus in the Indian population is falling (…), or that Hindus are being discriminated against in almost every respect, but also when he hears that the Andamanese races and languages are becoming extinct; that vast tracts of forests, millions of years old, are being wiped out forever (…); that innumerable forms of arts and handicrafts, architectural styles, plant and animal species, musical forms and musical instruments etc. are becoming extinct.”
    • 113:S. Talageri in S.R. Goel (ed.): Time for Stock-Taking, p.227-228. cited in elst 2002, ch9
  • On the Indian front, [the Hindutva movement] should spearhead the revival, rejuvenation and resurgence of Hinduism, which includes not only religious, spiritual and cultural practices springing from Vedic or Sanskritic sources, but from all other Indian sources independently of these: the practices of the Andaman islanders and the (pre-Christian) Nagas are as Hindu in the territorial sense, and Sanâtana in the spiritual sense, as classical Sanskritic Hinduism. (…) A true Hindutvavâdî should feel a pang of pain, and a desire to take positive action, not only when he hears that the percentage of Hindus in the Indian population is falling (…), or that Hindus are being discriminated against in almost every respect, but also when he hears that the Andamanese races and languages are becoming extinct; that vast tracts of forests, millions of years old, are being wiped out forever (…); that innumerable forms of arts and handicrafts, architectural styles, plant and animal species, musical forms and musical instruments etc. are becoming extinct.”
    • Talageri in S.R. Goel (ed.): Time for Stock-Taking, p.227-228.

Notes[edit]

  1. The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity edited by George Erdosy, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin-New York, 1995. Page x. Cf. also pp. xviii, 111, 116, 123. Talageri's book was also "firmly categorised together with the books by Paramesh Choudhury".
  2. (see Talageri 2000: chapter 9)
  3. Talageri 2000. Talageri writes that Witzel and Erdosy constantly cite the work incorrectly, using the wrong book data that was earlier used in a review of the Times of India. (see Elst 1999, Talageri 2000)
  4. (2000: Chapter 8)
  5. (2001: Chapter 2)
  6. (Talageri 2001: Chapter 1)
  7. (2000: Chapter 8)
  8. in two articles in G. Erdosy (ed.) The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. Berlin/New York 1995
  9. (2001: Chapter 2)
  10. EJVS 7 (2001), Issue 2, ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF VEDIC STUDIES, ejvs.laurasianacademy.com
  11. Hermann Oldenberg, Prolegomena on Metre and Textual History of the Rgveda, New Delhi: Motilal 2005. Talageri has responded by persisting with his alternative, and still controversial, rendering of Rg Veda's structure in his next book, The Rigveda and the Avesta, Delhi 2008
  12. (Talageri 2001: Chapter 1)
  13. (Talageri 2001: Chapter 1)
  14. (Talageri 2001: Chapter 1)
  15. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Westward
  16. there are two editions: the one published by Aditya Prakashan was entitled The Aryan Invasion Theory: A Reappraisal, and the one published by Voice of India was entitled Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism.

External links[edit]