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(Professor Karunanandham is explaining whether ‘From Volga to Ganga’, written by Rahul Sankrityayan, is a historical record.

Professor Karunanandham is answering the questions asked by a reader from the book 'From Volga to Ganga' in 'Kulukkai' youtube channel.)

Even though these questions seem like upholding already concluded decision I'll take this as his way of asking questions. I consider that these questions are asked in order to get an explanation, and I convey my thanks to the person for raising questions.

From Volga to GangaI would like to clarify one thing. I'm basically a history teacher, and I'm in this field for nearly 56 years. The motto of a historian is not to sacrosanct the past events or justifying it rather it is seen as such irrespective of whoever has done and whatever is done. So, my answers will be in the perception of a history teacher. They are the pages of history, and there is no intention to praise or sacrosanct anything. And those who sacrosanct cannot be a historiographer. Even Thiruvalluvar has shown us the way,

"Though things diverse from divers' sages' lips we learn,

'Tis wisdom's part in each the true thing to discern."

For example, we cannot create a history of Raja Raja Chola by reading Ponniyin Selvan alone. Same way, this novel Volga to Ganga by Rahul Sankrityayan was written in a specific political situation based on a specified political background about a particular political ideology. He has selected a few incidents and narrated it like tales. I understand that these questions are raised assuming these tales are the authentic form of history.

Let's see the explanations to the questions raised by the reader.

Denial of the arguments which justifies Aryans

The novel From Volga to Ganga, written by Rahul Sankrityayan is towering Aryans, and professor Karunanandham is giving explanations for the questions raised in this perspective.

1. There was no inequality among Aryans. They objected slavery and even tried to abolish it, but there was division based on vocation, slave trade, prostitute métier among Dravidians. So, is it right to blame Aryans for this slavery?

I understand that this question is asked expecting an answer that Aryans are faultless. I associate this with the second question

2. Wasn't it natural for the Aryans who hated inequality to consider Dravidians who did prostitute métier and slave trade as subordinates?

A sort of justification pops out in this. A fairness comes into play in their resentment on Dravidians and in destroying them.

3. Though Dravidians were talented in doing diverse kinds of works, they were treated as subordinate to soldiers and sepoys and farmers were treated as half slaves and their way of living were the reasons for their fall to Aryans. Wouldn't this inequal society eventually fall even without Aryans?

Let's take these first three questions.

It is the war between the Gods and Demons which is seen in Rahul Sankrityayan's From Volga to Ganga. It's written that Asuras are inferior. First of all, he has written this book collecting information based on the books written by Aryans or brahmins.

 How can he conclude the results without analyzing any documents in the perception of Asuras? 'Rigvedik Araya' was written by him in that period of time. The war between Gods and Demons are mentioned even in this.

But he is saying inequality, division based on vocation, slave trade, prostitute métier was practiced among Asuras. There is no evidence for this. Rahul Sankrityayan did not give a reference for this; he just adds all this in penning his story.

A small note should be remembered about Asuras. During Indus valley civilization Aryans waged war encroached nearby regions of Punjab. We should pay attention to Aryan's war in the Indus valley.

It can be taken as war, arrival or infiltration or whatever. No one can deny that Indus valley is a civilization. Indus valley is a town civilization.

Rahul Sankrityayan explains the same Indus valley from the book 'Rigvedik Araya' and tells that Indus valley civilization might be a capitalist democracy.

 It is not mentioned as a king's tyrant monarchy; rather, he is mentioning as a capitalist democracy. People of Indus valley civilization have created a township in various places of west India and built their houses and towns with bricks, and had properly planned streets with the well-networked drainage system.

Various kinds of crafts and vocation are needed for the onset on town civilization. Myriad kinds of metals are used only in town civilization. Indus Valley people used many metals like gold, silver, iron, copper, bronze, lead. They have created an assured settlement. Nomadic civilization is not a town civilization. Town civilization comprises assured settlement.

When production leads to surplus products and that surplus is changed into trading material, and it is traded, and this is how a town is created. A political setup or safeguarding techniques are needed to organize this production and trade.

So, civilizations which are progressive in science and technology in economic activities can alone create a town civilization. Indus valley civilization begins in the new stone age and progresses in copper age and ends in the bronze age.

This civilization survived for nearly 2500 years. The trace of around 500 towns has been found out. People belonging to various working division like a potter, weaver, blacksmith, carpenter can gather only in town. They can gather together and do their works efficiently. In towns, they avail security and carry out commodity exchange.

Various division of the working class is the result of the development of a civilization. Nomadic tribes do not have any working division of classes. Divisions based on work will not be created for people who are grazing cows and goats going in search of meadows.

How are working divisions manipulated into caste divisions? Working divisions exist in all the civilization around the world. It was even existed in Egypt, Samaria, Iran, Greece, China. Clusters of working divisions would be created where there are towns and civilizations.

 People form groups for convenience and ease in production of goods. Exchange of commodity and coins will take place, and all these are safeguarded and regulated by governance. This is what is called civilization. The person who raised question should think why are these civilized conducts are not seen among Aryans? For what they have been excluded?

The existence of work divisions was the sign of civilization. If Aryans during Rigveda has not comprised of any class divisions, its meant that their civilization is not a developed one. Indus valley people or Dravidians are the most civilized people.

Aryans who were grazing goats and cows later turned as imperialists were still in the preceding stage of civilization. The existence of the working class is not a drawback; rather, it is the manifestation of a progressive society. But on what basis, Indus valley civilizations' work division is being said as caste divisions?

There were many types of buildings in Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro in Indus valley. Granaries, halls erected with several pillars, swimming pools and row houses were seen. One building was divided into many residences, and each residence contained two rooms. There were general and individual bathroom facilities.

Brahmin researchers who analyzed these row houses said that 'these are untouchable slums.' In current days, Dalits could not even acquire houses built with bricks and thatched roofs.

So, isn't Indus valley people, lived in workers residence with minimum facilities is more prominent than Aryans who lived in tents? It is mentioned that Aryans lived in tents during the time propounded in the book 'From Volga to Ganga'.

It is stated that they were nomads lived in tents and not aware of any arts and crafts. How caste is coming here? and how can you simply articulate work divisions as caste divisions?

There were divisions based on work in Egypt. Was there any caste? Mesopotamians had work divisions. Was there any caste? Same way, how can you assume that divisions based on work would have been caste divisions only in India? There were work divisions among Dravidians. Because they encompassed eminent civilization and technology.

How is caste coming into play? When work is based on birth, or when there is any social or religious hindrance in changing the nature of works, or when the social relationship became an obstacle, caste comes into play. Were there have any pieces of evidence for such circumstances with them? So, the imposition of the creation of castes on Asuras is a vicious thought.

They are blaming Asuras without referring any literature, inscriptions and their way of living and society of Asuras during the Rig Vedic period. It is said that women were treated as slaves, and the slave trade was practiced. Slave trade has happened in most of the civilizations.

Indeed, the economy of the Roman empire was fully based on the slave trade. Black Americans were enslaved by white Americans, even in America. That is why slavery abolition act was enacted by England. And organizations regarding the abolition of slavery was started all over the world.

I'm not saying that there was no slavery. It might or might not have been there. What I am saying is that there is no evidence to prove it. But is that fair to say Aryans desired freedom and they didn't have slavery at all? What kind of slavery would be present among the groups of nomadic people? Servitude crop ups when there is a permanent social and economic settlement.

 Cow and goat are the only assets to those who graze it. There was no need of servitude for them. That doesn't mean that Aryans despised servitude. That's not fair.

(to be continued)

- Prof. Karunanandham

Translated by Maruvarthini. P

(This article was published in Tamil Magazine 'Puratchi Periyar Muzhakkam', January 2021)

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