Saturday, September 18, 2004

Swept under the (Persian) rug

I see only two [centers of civilization] - the West and the East. Sorry about India, I don't mean to be offensive, but I don't see any Indian contributions to world culture that are remotely comparable to those of China or those of the West (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and all of Europe).
[T]wo thousand years ago there was Rome in the West and China in the East. These two cultures supplied virtually all cultural contributions.

Two thousand years ago, there was Rome in the West, China in the East and, between the two, a region that extended from the Euphrates to the Ferghana Valley where the pre-eminent culture was that of Persia (as quite distinct from those of Rome and China). Mesopotamia, which you classify as part of the West, was firmly under Persian dominion for the almost 12 centuries since Cyrus vanquished Babylon until the Islamic invasion.

The influence of the Persians' Indo-Iranian antecedents was likewise widespread. The Indo-Iranian legacy includes the Vedas of Hinduism, the Avesta of Zoroastrianism and, consequently, Zoroastrianism's formative influence on Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The influence of the Indo-Iranians was felt as far west as modern-day Turkey and Syria, in the kingdom of Mitanni. The gods known to the Mitannians as Indara, Mitrasil, Nasatianna and Uruvanassil were called Indra, Mitra, Nasatya and Varuna in the Rig Veda.

Indian civilization itself had a deep and pervasive influence on Southeast Asia, leaving behind a significant cultural stratum that is still plainly visible, even among the peoples who later converted to Islam. For over a thousand years, Indianized Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms ruled the lands between the great Hindu-Buddhist monuments at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the great Hindu-Buddhist monuments at Borobudur-Prambanan in Java, Indonesia.



Jeet seems to object to my arrogating Mesopotamia to the West. He thinks it belongs to what I will call the Middle.

Not quite. This analogy is inexact, to be sure, but I would compare Mesopotamia to Alsace-Lorraine. Rather than belonging exclusively to the West or the Middle, it has demonstrable links to both.

Nor did I make clear that I draw a distinction between Indian culture and those found elsewhere in the Middle on the basis of its pronounced indigenous component. In the Middle, Buddhism is the major meme to have moved from south to north.

Let me hasten to assure everyone that I have a claim on impartiality because I am of Irish descent.

This reminds me of one of the most unintentionally funny exchanges in film history.

"She called me a Paki, but I guess you wouldn't understand what that feels like, would you?"

"Jess, I'm Irish."

Yes, I know the Irish have had a rough time of it over the centuries. It's still hilarious.

I suppose I should make clear that I am not Indian but, in fact, Chinese. Also note that I accept the Aryan invasion theory [or, at least, that Aryans are not indigenous to the subcontinent], which Hindutvadis vehemently object to. I will, however, admit to agreeing with V.S. Naipaul that "Dangerous or not, [Hindu nationalism] is a necessary corrective to history" but only as a counterweight with Third World credibility to fraudulent claims that "Islam spread peacefully" that go unchallenged in the "multiculturalist" circles of academia.

Luke Lea:
[N]o one has mentioned the Bhagavad Gita....The situation, for those who don't know, is a civil war in which the hero has to decide between fighting on the side of his own kith and kin vs. for what he really believes in. He anquishingly wants to know why he has been put in such a situation. Powerful stuff.

I lurrve pointing out to besotted Hinduism-fetishist hippies that Krishna is pretty much telling Arjuna, "Yes, war is bad for children and other living things. It's good that you feel horrible about it. Now get over yourself and let the arrows fly." and watching their facial expressions as their brains "spoink" from the cognitive dissonance.

I love it!

To forgo this fight for righteousness is to forgo thy duty and honour: is to fall into transgression....
Prepare for war with peace in thy soul.