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Incorrect Interpretation of Dr. Parpola's Speech - varnamvarnam
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Incorrect Interpretation of Dr. Parpola's Speech

Recently an article appeared in the Deccan Herald which suggests that the Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola has demolished the Aryan-Dravidian divide as a myth. Dr. Parpola, for those you don’t know, has been studying the Indus scripts since 1960, and holds that the language is proto-Dravidian. Recently, the President of India awarded the first Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award to the Dr. Parpola. In his speech Dr. Parpola said

Tamil goes back to Proto-Dravidian, which in my opinion can be identified as the language of the thousands of short texts in the Indus script, written in 2600-1700 BCE. There are, of course, different opinions, but many critical scholars agree that even the Rigveda, collected in the Indus Valley about 1000 BCE, has at least half a dozen Dravidian loanwords. [Acceptance speech of Asko Parpola at World Classical Tamil Conference]

Now if such a person, who argues that the language of the Indus was an early form of Tamil, suggests that the Aryan-Dravidian divide is a myth, then there is something to it. This is what Deccan Herald says

However, the rich religious/cultural heritage in South Asia till now has been preserved both by the speakers of Dravidian languages (predominantly in South India) and the people of North India, Prof. Parpola emphasised, to demolish the myth of a clear Aryan-Dravidian divide. Dr Parpola’s work left the top DMK leadership seated in front, nonplussed, kindling them to rethink the Aryan-Dravidian divide issue. [Jolt to Aryan-Dravidian divide theory]

The problem is this: the Aryan-Dravidian divide is not based what happened after the Aryans arrived, but before. It is based on identifying who were the natives and who were the outsiders and according to Dr. Parpola, the Aryans migrated into India. In fact he believes that there were two waves of migration: two Indo-Aryan groups — the Dasas and Panis — arrived around 2100 B.C.E from the steppes via Central Asia bringing horses with them, but they were not the composers of the Rig Veda. The Vedic composers came a couple of centuries later.

Then: 

Most of the Early Dravidian speakers of North and Central India switched over to the dominant Indo-Aryan languages in Post-Harappan times. Speakers of Aryan languages have indistinguishably merged with speakers of Dravidian and Munda languages millennia ago, creating a composite Indian society containing elements inherited from every source. [Parpola and the Indus script]

Thus what Dr. Parpola said at the World Classical Tamil Conference is not different from his decades old position. Unless Dr. Parpola states that he believes in the Indigenous Aryanism — that the Sanskrit speakers were natives of India and not migrants — he is still supporting the Aryan-Dravidian divide.


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