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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.

5 Responses to Incorrect Interpretation of Dr. Parpola's Speech

  1. svat July 12, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Right. But it can also be said that the Aryan-Dravidian divide, as practised by the “Dravidian” political parties, is based not just on a distinction between the two origins, but on a rhetoric that places the Dravidians as original inhabitants and Aryans as invaders, oppressors, etc. — in short, the “invasion” scenario that is no longer popular. In fact, even Parpola’s identification of the Indus Valley civilisation as Dravidian somewhat supports the parties’ position, since the IVC people are considered non-Dravidian both by several Indigenous Aryanists (who think they were same as Aryans) and by , say, Witzel and co. (who think they were proto-Munda or something, and not Dravidian). (I may be wrong.)

    If you read the Deccan Herald article, it seems to be focused on saying that Parpola “turned the spotlight on a Dravidian-Aryan continuum while demolishing the Aryan-Dravidian divide as a myth” […] “myth of a *clear* Aryan-Dravidian divide”, etc. So it’s reacting to an extreme position in which the Aryans and Dravidians are entirely different people, with no interaction, shared culture, or “continuum”. If a newspaper has to point out such obvious things, it shows the level of understanding prevalent :-)

    • jk July 18, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

      svat,

      I wish he had turned the spotlight, but there is nothing in the speech to suggest he did.

  2. Balaji July 12, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    research is never black and white. why Aryan-Dravidian divide, without doubt a linguistic one, alarms certain people is not clear. invasion or migration is disputed. even it were true, that does not make anyone native/invader in the present context. we are talking about the state of languages and their speakers 5000 years before!

    • jk July 18, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

      Balaji,

      It is probably in India alone that who where natives 3500 years ago still matters. It has been still kept alive by various groups who thrive on maintaining the divisions. If you are interested in the politics of this, it goes beyond the Dravidian movement. Please read Political aspects of the Aryan invasion debate

  3. gajanan July 26, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    Kurt S has not been refered by many . Why? The book below has both KS and AP. Not seen any review of this book.

    See on your left hand side , you will get the download.

    http://www.indus-civilization.info/

    The Inscriptions
    of the
    Indus Civilization
    Texts — Deciphering — Contents
    by Rainer Hasenpflug

    The book is produced in high quality, size A4, 408 pages, paperback, and with many illustrations. Content: deciphering, deciphering manuscript with depicted original texts, analysis of the contents.

    Basic Works done by Asko Parpola:
    professor em. University of Helsinki, Finland
    ‘recognized expert’ on the Indus script
    published several works on the Indus script

    The Decipherer Kurt Schildmann:

    studied several ancient and modern languages in several European and Asian countries studied Avesta in Persia and Sanskrit in India for some years worked as a linguist at the German ministry of defense for three decades

    The Analyst and Author Rainer Hasenpflug:
    graduate engineer of architecture and town building
    researched for some years at the ‘German Research Project Mohenjo Daro’ at the Technical University of Aachen on the Indus Civilization

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