The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History

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Edwin Francis Bryant, Laurie L. Patton
Routledge, 2005 - History - 522 pages
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For the first time in a single volume, this book presents the various arguments in the Indo-Aryan controversy. It also provides a kind of template for the basic issues involved in the debates by addressing four major areas. First, archaeologists focus on some of the recent findings and arguments in archaeological research, particularly the issue of the relationships between the Indus Valley and Aryan settlements. These articles strongly imply that there was more continuity between the two civilizations than has been assumed in previous work, but not enough evidence to establish a definitive scholarly consensus that the Indus civilization was actually Aryan. Second, scholars take on some of the linguistic issues in the debate, particularly those of linguistic borrowing and parent languages. The debate here rests on whether the traditional rules of linguistic derivation for Indo-European languages can really allow for the possibility of origins of Aryan languages within India. Moreover, authors debate whether contact between Aryan and non-Aryan languages (such as Dravidian or Munda) involves subsuming of one language by the dominant language, or mutual contact between those languages. Third, philological scholars take up the related concerns of interpretation of Vedic texts in their historical contexts. These involve the interpretation of astronomical data for the dating of the Veda, as well as geographical references in Vedic texts. Finally, intellectual historians contribute histories of the debates, and assessments of the state of the current arguments and their ideological roots. They stress the ways in which the theories remain influenced by the political currents, both in the early debates in the nineteenth century as well as today. The volume ends with a plea for a return to civility in the debates which have become increasingly, and unproductively, politicized, and suggests a program of research and inquiry upon which scholars from all sides of the debate might embark.

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About the author (2005)

Edwin F. Bryant graduated from Columbia University in 1997, where he taught Sanskrit and Hindi. He was the lecturer in Hinduism at Harvard University for three years, and is presently assistant professor in Hinduism at Rutgers University, New Jersey. His publications include books on The Indo-Aryan Invasion Debate and Hinduism.
Laurie L. Patton is Professor of Early Indian Religions at Emory University and Winship Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities. She is the author of two books and twenty five articles on early Indian myth and poetry, as well as a book of poetry and a translation of the Bhagavad Gita.

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