Chapter

Aryan Origins and Modern Nationalist Discourse

Edwin Bryant

in The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137774
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834044 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195137779.003.0014
 						Aryan Origins and Modern Nationalist Discourse

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This final chapter discusses some of the more modern ideological underpinnings of the Indo-Aryan origin debate in India as different forces compete over the construction of national identity. Other concerns motivating some of the participants on both sides of the Indigenous Aryan debate are also considered, showing how the same theme of Aryan origins has been used to support a variety of agendas on the Indian subcontinent. It is suggested that although the promotion of Indigenous Aryanism is undoubtedly extremely important to notions of identity and to the politics of legitimacy among certain Hindu nationalists, such concerns are not representative of all the scholars who have supported this point of view. Unfortunately, however, the whole Indigenous Aryan position is often simplistically stereotyped and conveniently demonized, both in India and in the West, as a discourse exclusively determined by such agendas. This bypasses other concerns also motivating such reconsideration of history: the desire of many Indian scholars to reclaim control over the reconstruction of the religious and cultural history of their country from the legacy of imperial and colonial scholarship. The manifold concerns that the author perceives as motivating Indigenous Aryanists to undertake a reconsideration of this issue are discussed, and it is argued that although there are doubtlessly nationalistic and, in some quarters, communal agendas lurking behind some of this scholarship, a principal feature is anticolonial/imperial.

Keywords: anticolonialism; cultural history; Hindu nationalism; imperialism; India; Indian scholars; Indigenous Aryanism; Indo-Aryan origins; modern nationalism; national identity; religious history

Chapter.  18157 words. 

Subjects: Hinduism

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