An Introduction To Asian Religions: Sanskrit language (Excerpt)

24 Jun

About two centuries ago, European scholars studying the Sanskrit language noticed the remarkable resemblances that existed between Sanskrit and Latin and Greek. They agreed that these languages must have a common origin, and that the peoples who spoke the original tongues had been dispersed eastwards to India and westwards to Europe, Before long the name Indo-European was coined to express the related tongues and peoples.

Somewhere between 1500 and 1200 B.C. ( the period when the Israelites were coming out of Egypt) Indo-European invaders poured into India, settling first of all in the Punjab in the north and later moving on eastward. In the Vedas these people call themselves Aryan, “noble” or “lord” (Sanscrit arya, persian ariya. They fought with the dark-skinned and flat nosed natives of the country and called them Dasas, squat creatures, a word which came to mean slave.
The castes into which Hindu society came to be divided were partly based on this racial distinction of light to dark skins. The Indian word for the four main castes is varna which means color. But to-day, after all these centuries, the colour of the skin is no indication of caste.
It used to be thought that the Aryan invaders met only savages who contributed nothing to later Indian religion. Even Eliot in 1921 wrote that ancient India has yielded “no religious antiquities, nor is it probable that such will be discovered.”

But in the last forty years intensive excavations have been made at several places in Indus area. Particularly at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. (“the place of the dead”) have remains of large cities discovered which represent a complex urban civilization.

The Aryans were still mainly a pastoral people, and they descended on the Ancient Indus civilization of the Dasas with their horse drawn chariots, ascribing their conquests to their gods, particularly Indra the destroyer of forts. In the Vedas we read:

“With all-outstripping chariot wheel, O Indra,
Thou far-famed, hast overthrown twice ten
kings of men.”

The Vedas give us only the Aryan point of view. There is scorn of the physique and the barbaric speech of the Dasas, and they are called “indifferent to the gods”

E.G. Parrinder, D.D. An Introduction To Asian Religions (London S.P.C.K.) First published in 1957 Reprinted 1958 S.P.C.K. Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone Road, London, N.W.1 p. 32-33


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