1. Political aspects of the Aryan
1.1. POLITICIZING A LINGUISTIC
1.1.1. Aryavarta for the
the mid-19th century, no Indian had ever heard of the notion that his ancestors
could be Aryan invaders from Central Asia who had destroyed the native
civilization and enslaved the native population. Neither had South-Indians
ever dreamt that they were the rightful owners of the whole subcontinent,
dispossessed by the Aryan invaders who had chased them from North India,
turning it into Aryavarta, the land of the Aryans. Nor had
the low-caste people heard that they were the original inhabitants of India,
subdued by the Aryans and forced into the prisonhouse of caste which the
conquerors imposed upon them as an early form of Apartheid. All these
ideas had to be imported by European scholars and missionaries, who thought
through the implications of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AM, the theory
that the Indo-European (IE) language family had spread out from a given
homeland, probably in Eastern Europe, and found a place in Western and
Southern Europe and in India as cultural luggage of horse-borne invaders
who subjugated the natives.
the first natives to interiorize these ideas was Jotirao Phule, India’s
first modem Mahatma, a convent-educated low-caste leader from Maharashtra.
In 1873, he set the tone for the political appropriation of the AIT: “Recent
researches have shown beyond a shadow of doubt that the Brahmins were not
the Aborigines of India (…) Aryans came to India not as simple emigrants
with peaceful intentions of colonization, but as conquerors. They
appear to have been a race imbued with very high notions of self, extremely
cunning, arrogant and bigoted.”1 Ever since,
the political reading of the AIT has become all-pervasive in Indian textbooks
as well as in all kinds of divisive propaganda pitting high and low castes,
North and South Indians, speakers of Indo-Aryan and of Dravidian languages,
and tribals and non-tribals, against each other.
out of indignation with the socially destructive implications of the politically
appropriated AIT, many Indian scholars get excited about supposed imperialist
motives distorting the views of the Western scholars who first introduced
the AIT. They point to the Christian missionary commitment of early
sankritists like Friedrich Max Müller, John Muir and Sir M. Monier-Williams
and of dravidologists like Bishop Robert Caldwell and Reverend G.U. Pope,
alleging that the missionaries justify their presence in India by claiming
that Aryan Hinduism is as much a foreign import as Christianity.
They quote Viceroy Lord Curzon as saying that the AIT is “the furniture
of Empire”, and explain how the British colonisers justified their conquest
by claiming that India had never been anything but
booty for foreign invaders, and that the Indians (or at least the upper-caste
Hindus who led the Freedom Movement) were as much foreigners as their fellow-Aryans
the use of the AIT in the service of colonialism, there can be no doubt.
Thus, during the 1935 Parliament debates on the Government of India Act,
Sir Winston Churchill opposed any policy tending towards decolonization
on the following ground: “We have as much right to
be in India as anyone there, except perhaps for the Depressed Classes [=
the Scheduled Castes and Tribes], who are the native stock.”3
SO, the British Aryans had as much right to Aryavarta as their Vedic fellow-Aryans.
Indian loyalists justified the British presence on the same grounds, e.g.
Keshab Chandra Sen, leader of the reformist movement Brahmo Samaj (mid-19th
century), welcomed the British advent as a reunion with his Aryan cousins: “In
the advent of the English nation in India we see a reunion of parted cousins,
the descendants of two different families of the ancient Aryan race”4.
it doesn’t follow that the AIT was conceived with these political uses
as its deliberate aim. The scholars concerned were children of their
age, conditioned by prevalent perceptions and prejudices, but they sincerely
believed that this theory explained the available data best.
1.1.2. Hitler’s Aryans
19th-century race theories which would feature so dramatically in crimes
against humanity in 1941-45 were not originally conceived as political
ploys. In the prevailing Zeitgeist, most of their theorists
genuinely thought that the race concept provided the best explanation for
the incoming data of nascent sciences like sociology and anthropology.
Nonetheless, the disruptive effects of their work have reached beyond Europe
as far as India.
proliferating race theories of the late 19th and early 20th century, “Aryan”,
an early synonym of “Indo-European” (IE), became a racial term designating
the purest segment of the White race. Of course, the identification
of “white” with “Aryan” was an innovation made by armchair theorizers in
Europe, far from and in stark disregard for the self-described Aryas
in India. Better-informed India-based Britons like Rudyard Kipling
summed up the Indian type as “Aryan brown”.
in the theme of Aryan whiteness, the AIT became a crown piece in Adolf
Hitler’s vision of white supremacy: here was the proof of both white superiority
and of the need to preserve the race from admixture with inferior darker
races. Had not the white Aryan invaders of India subdued the vastly
more numerous brown-skinned natives, and had they not lost their superior
white quality by mixing with the natives and becoming more brown themselves?
In the Nazi view, the Aryan invaders had retained a relative superiority
vis-à-vis the pure black natives by means of the caste system, but
had been too slow in instituting this early form of Apartheid, so that
their type was fatally contaminated with inferior blood.
of Hitler’s admirers, Mrs. Maximiani Portas alias Savitri Devi Mukherji,
reports: “In the Third Reich, even schoolchildren knew from their textbooks
that this [= the Aryan] race had spread from the north to the south and
east, and not the other way around.”5 Establishment
historians in Nazi Germany, such as Hermann Lommel, were quite explicit
about their doctrine that “by invading India, the Aryans, powerful conquerors,
have violated the culture which had been established there”.6
The subjugation of the black natives of India by the white Aryan invaders
was, in the Rassenkunde (“racial science”) courses in Nazi schools,
the clearest illustration of the superiority of the white and especially
the Aryan race.
1.1.3. Hindu and Aryan
theme failed to kindle any sympathy in Hitler for the brown Aryans of India.
He spurned the collaboration offer by freedom fighter and leftist Congress
leader Subhash Chandra Bose because he preferred India to be under white
British domination. And he ordered the extermination of the Gypsies,
Indian immigrants into Europe. Nonetheless, anti-Hindu polemicists
cleverly exploit the ambiguity of the term “Aryan” to associate Hindus
this crassly false statement by a leading Marxist historian about the reform
movement Arya Samaj, founded in 1875 and well-known for its anti-untouchability
campaigns: “The Arya Samaj was described by its followers
as ‘the society of the Aryan race’. The Aryas were the upper castes
and the untouchables were excluded.”7 The
second sentence is precisely the Western indologist reading of the term
Arya which the Arya Samaj sought to counter: The Samaj restored
the original meaning of the term, viz. “civilized”, in particular
“belonging to or expressive of the Vedic civilization”.8 While
the Samaj was not slow in acknowledging that in its own day, the untouchables
were being excluded from learning the Vedic rituals and philosophies, it
worked hard to undo this exclusions.9
the first sentence quoted, it is not known to me where a Samaj spokesman
called his own organization “the society of the Aryan race”. It is
quite impossible that the term was ever used in the sense in which the
quoter wants the reader to understand it, viz. in the Hitlerian sense.
However, it is not altogether impossible that the expression was used,
because in those days the word “race” in English (as opposed to German
and post-1945 English) had a more general, non-biological and non-racist
meaning, viz. “nation, people”.
for one, has definitely used the term “Aryan race”, thereby not meaning
what Hitler and post-Hitlerian readers will understand by that term, but
“Hindu nation”. For all his “Aryan race” talk, Aurobindo was among
the most clear-sighted analysts of the problem which Nazism posed.
In 1939, Aurobindo advocated India’s total support to the Allied cause
as a matter of principle, because he saw in Hitler a force of evil; this
at a time when many Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, were very fond of Hitler,
and when others advocated participation in the British war effort on purely
tactical grounds. On 19 September 1940, he briefly broke his self-imposed
seclusion to make a public statement: “We feel that not only is this a
battle waged in just self-defence and in defence of the nations threatened
with the world domination of Germany and the Nazi system of life, but that
it is a defence of civilization (…) To this cause
our support and sympathy will be unswerving whatever may happen; we look
forward to the victory of Britain and, as the eventual result, an era of
peace and union among the nations”.10
occasion, already in 1914, Aurobindo did express his doubts about the term
“race” as follows: “I prefer not to use the term
race, for race is a thing much more difficult to determine than
is usually imagined. In dealing with it the trenchant distinctions current
in the popular mind are wholly out of place.”11 At
any rate, when he and other Hindus used the expression “Aryan race”, they
meant something totally unrelated to Nazism, for both terms had a meaning
totally distinct from their Nazi interpretation.12
To quote Hindus as speaking of the “Aryan race” without explaining the
semantic itinerary of the expression is tantamount to manipulating the
readership into reading something into the phrase which Arya Samaj spokesmen
and Aurobindo never intended. To Hindus, Arya, or “Aryan”
in English texts, simply means “Hindu”, nothing more, nothing less.
1.1.4. Indo-European and
the Nouvelle Droite
positive association of the IE theme with racist or Nazi ideas is quite
dead in Europe except in a few extremely marginal groups. It is not
really present in the main focus of contemporary ideological interest in
the IE past, the French intellectual current known as the Nouvelle Droite
(“New Right”).13 By the 1980s, this movement,
ultra-rightist in the 1960s, had shifted from “race” to “culture”, from
authoritarianism to participatory democracy, from crude nationalism to
the celebration of multicultural difference (e.g. its leading ideologue,
Alain de Benoist, was one of the rare French intellectuals to support the
right of Muslim girls to wear the hijab in school). The Nouvelle
Droite shows a sincere interest in and respect for traditional cultures,
though sometimes forcing them conceptually into the mould of its own pet
concerns. In contrast with the -mushrooming
xenophobic parties, it believes in European integration and seeks to underpin
it with an awareness of pan-European cultural identity, hence its interest
in the IE cultural heritage.14
the Left with its nostalgia for the victorious 40s, which it tries to recreate
by perennially invoking the bogey of “renascent fascism”, the Right has
had to learn from its defeat and move on. So, the focus is not on
some “Aryan race” anymore, but on “Indo-European culture” as reconstructed
by modern philologists.
the better known IE motifs is the theory of trifunctionality elaborated
by Georges Dumézil. The idea is that PIE society had a tripolar
worldview, which it applied to cosmology (Sanskrit triguNa: the
transparent, turbid and dark energies) as well as to society. The
three social functions were identified as spiritual-intellectual, martial-political,
and productive-economic, the medieval oratores, bellatores, laboratores
(worshippers, fighters, workers), or in Indian caste terms: brAhmaNa,
kshatriya, vaishya. Apart from the questions whether this scheme
is typically IE (which is doubtful) and whether it effectively applied
to ancient IE societies (where four-fold divisions are more common), it
is not clear what its relevance to modem politics could be.
it is strange that European patriots put all their eggs in the IE basket,
when ancient European culture had important non-IE tributaries (Megalithic,
VinCa, et al), of which the Basque language is the only linguistic
remnant. And not only is Europe a plural entity, but “IE culture”
itself was probably never a homogeneous unity, nor was it necessarily all
that distinct from neighbouring cultures (e.g. the Scythians were Iranian-speaking
but were feared and loathed by the sedentary Iranians, and resembled the
non-IE Turks in religion and lifestyle). Indeed, of IE motifs like
trifunctionality, as of IE myths like that of the dragon-slayer (Indra),
it could be argued that they are not coterminous with the IE world, and
perhaps even that some of them are just universal.
IE is the basis of European identity, one can understand that a European
Urheimat for IE would be preferred over an Asian one.15
Consequently, some of the Nouvelle Droite authors are very attached
to the idea of the Aryan Invasion as a necessary implication of the presumed
European character and origin of the IE family.
1.1.5. The Nouvelle Droite
on race and the Aryans Invasion
As a corollary
to their Eurocentric view of IE history, Nouvelle Droite authors tend to
accept the AIT and, along with it, the view of the caste system as an apartheid
system between IE immigrants and Indian natives, possibly because they
have no reason to rethink the specifically Indian chapter of IE history.
The net result is that in spite of their declared anti-racism, they end
up reconnecting with 19th-century racist assumptions, at least as far as
India is concerned.
sources for Nouvelle Droite musings about India are the late Jean
Varenne, an eminent indologist who was less outspoken on the present debate,
and Jean Haudry, sanskritist and IE linguist, who by contrast has involved
himself quite strongly in this debate. Haudry,
member of the Scientific Committee of the French national-populist party
Front National, maintains that the Proto-Indo-Europeans were tall,
blue-eyed, fair-haired, long-skulled and straight-nosed.16
Of course, he supports the AIT: “The Vedas and Brahmanas mention the Aryan
invasion in India” (actually, they don’t), and: “It
is probable that the Aryans left from the site of Jamna on the Volga” and
that some of them “came to India where they first arrived towards the beginning
of the second millennium BC”.17
are frequent allegations, generally exaggerated but sometimes true, of
unsavoury connections between the Nouvelle Droite and certain veterans
of the Nazi and Fascist regimes. The Marxist critic Maurice Olender
claims that one of the original patrons of the Nouvelle Droite publication
Nouvelle Ecole was Herbert Jankuhn, once
an officer of the SS research department, and that the movement also republishes
indo-europeanist studies by Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss and Hans F.K. Günther,
editors of the Nazi periodical
In a “right
of reply” which the Paris Appeals Court forced the periodical to publish
(February 1994), Nouvelle Droite ideologue Alain
de Benoist denied the allegation and listed his own publications in which
he had argued against all forms of racism, defended democracy against its
critics, deconstructed Western ethnocentrism, and criticized totalitarianism,
nationalism, social darwinism and sociobiology.19 He
also pointed out that his periodical Krisis, which Olender had described
as “extreme-Rightist”, has published many Leftist authors who never felt
they were in bad company.20 The antagonism
between Left and Right is indeed giving way to new political fault-lines.
other hand, if we just stick with the information which Nouvelle Droite
publications themselves furnish, it is undeniable that there are some personal
connections with the pre-1945 Right. Thus, among the members of the
patronage committee of Nouvelle Ecole, we find not only scholars
above suspicion, like Manfred Mayrhofer, Edgar Polomé, Colin Renfrew,
the late Arthur Koestler or the late Marija Gimbutas, but also the famous
scholar Mircea Eliade, who had been close to the fascist Iron Guard in
his homeland Rumania. That Herbert Jankuhn was a member of the patronage
committee is also uncontroversial.
impression is that the Nouvelle Droite is by and large a respectable intellectual
movement of the Right, but that precisely this respectability makes it
attractive as an umbrella for nostalgics of the 1930s, for IE romantics,
as well as for plain crackpots. The same phenomenon is in evidence
in related movements throughout Europe: their periodicals present a curious
mixture of healthy non-conformism and sarcasm vis-à-vis the dominant
“political correctness”, often in the form of thoughtful and original critiques,
with deplorable flare-ups of obsolete race thinking and starry-eyed “traditionalism”,
i.e. a dogmatic kind of nostalgia for pre-modern culture.
problem with the Nouvelle Droite in the present context is that it continues
to see other cultures, and India in particular, through the ideological
lenses developed by European thinkers in the 19th century. The
Nouvelle Droite people, rather than acquaint themselves with the
reality of other cultures, often prefer to stay with their own coloured
versions of them, e.g. René Guénon’s explanation of Taoism
rather than living Taoism.21 This is the way
to remain stuck in Eurocentric theories of bygone days, which is more or
less the story of the whole pro-AIT argument.
1.1.6. Fondness for caste
system as a religiously sanctioned hierarchical organization of society
has exerted a fascination on Western nostaligics who felt lost in the modem
world and longed for a kind of restoration of the pre-modem world.
Among these nostaligics, one of extraordinary stature was certainly Julius
Evola (1898-1974), an Italian aristocrat and an independent Rightist ideologue
who, after years in the margin, ingratiated himself with the Fascist regime
by developing a “truly Italian” version of the Race Theory, “more spiritual
than the purely biological German Rassenlehre”. Thus, he rejected
biological determinism in favour of will-power, preferring chivalrous values
like courage over the modem rigid bio-materialist subjection of man to
the verdict of his genes. On the other hand, his occasional conflicts
with the ideologues and the authorities of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany,
now eagerly highlighted by his remaining followers, hardly suffice to make
him acceptable, e.g. there is no excuse for his writing a foreword to the
Italian translation of the anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the
Elders of Zion.
a declared racist, his views were at odds with those of most White racists,
e.g. he glorified Asian cultures because of their hierarchy and traditionalism,
esp. the martial virtues as preserved (or so Western romantics thought)
in imperial Japan.22 He professed a premodern
aristocratic “horizontal racism”: the European aristocracy was one “race”
bound to intermarry, the common people were the other “race”, with national
borders and identities being less important. After being hit during
a bombardment in Vienna at the end of World War 2, he spent his last thirty
years in a wheelchair, writing political-cultural essays and fairly accurate
but always “traditionalist” accounts of Oriental religions.
is interesting because he presented a premodern (and anti-modern) viewpoint,
a living fossil in the 20th century. Those who have been duped by
the dominant Marxist discourse into classifying Fascism as Rightist would
do well to study Evola’s Rightist critique of Fascism. He attacked
Fascism on the following points: its anti-traditionalism and zest for newness
and youth (as exemplified by its term Duce/“leader”, i.e. one who
takes the people to a distant goal, a utopia, as opposed to the premodern
“ruler” who merely maintains the existing order); its superficial modernist
optimism (best seen in Fascist, Nazi, Stalinist and Maoist visual art);
its equalizing “Jacobin” nationalism which minimizes class differences;
its totalitarianism, as opposed to premodern culture’s sense of measure
and division of powers; its secularism, which creates an opposition between
the political and the sacred; its socialism; its
personality cult (one ought to revere the institution of kingship, not
the person of the king); and its natalist policy based on the vulgar cult
of numbers, neglecting quality for the sake of quantity.23
absence of a living traditional society, some modems like Evola have tried
to recreate a sense of tradition, called traditionalism (term launched
by his contemporary René Guénon), but this is often distortive.
The whole traditionalist movement, including most of its votaries whom
I have personally known, is characterized by a rigid attachment to certain
typically modern (though anti-modernist) Western concerns, leading to great
distortions in its numerous attempts to link up with ancient European or
contemporary Asian traditions and surviving traditional societies.
the projections of European intellectual fashions onto other societies
was of course the racialist understanding of the caste system. Thus,
Maximiani Portas (1905-82), a French-Greek lady, converted to Hinduism
on the assumption that the Hindu caste system was an institution imposed
by the Aryan race on the non-Aryan natives, so that the upper castes had
preserved the ancient Aryan race and culture till today (for more about
her, see Ch. 1.4.9. below).
related distortion was Evola’s assumption that the spiritual caste is subordinate
to the martial caste, an assumption which he maintained even in the analysis
of a Vedic ritual in which the king “marries” his priest.24
The traditional and Vedic view is that worldly action is subordinate to
contemplation, so that ritually, the king is the bride and the priest is
the groom. Evola turned this upside down, affirming the primacy of
the royal function: partly, this was an exaggerated exaltation of the martial
function typical of the interbellum period (when marching in uniform was
an almost universal style for all kinds of movements, due to the militarization
of a whole generation in World War 1); partly, it was a projection of a
medieval conflict in the Holy Roman Empire between the Emperor and the
Pope, a conflict in which Evola’s retrospective sympathies lay with the
rate, it took a top-ranking scholar genuinely rooted in a genuine tradition,
the Brahmin art historian and philosopher Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy,
to correct the deviations of the Western enthusiasts of “Tradition”. He
commented: “As it is, Evola’s argument for the superiority of the Regnum,
the active principle, to the Sacerdotium, the contemplative principle,
is a concession to that very ‘mondo moderno’ [= modern world] against which
his polemic is directed.”25 But the problem
with the Traditionalist school is that they never listen: why should they
listen to an Oriental scholar, when they already have Evola’s or Guénon’s
version of Oriental wisdom?
subordination of genuine Asian tradition to the pet concerns of some Western
seekers and weirdos has continued. The late Frithjof Schuon, a Traditionalist
who (like Guénon) converted to Islam, finding it the best embodiment
of the “perennial wisdom”, has written a eulogy of the caste system: “Like
all sacred institutions, the caste system is based on the very nature of
things (…) to justify the caste system, it is enough to ask this question:
do heredity and diversity of qualities exist? If yes, the caste system
is possible and legitimate.”26 Yet, it must
be said in his favour that he takes a nuance view, valuing egalitarianism
as well, viz. as a natural implication of the fact that apart from difference
in qualities, all human beings also have something in common: their immortal
soul. Moreover, he has partly abandoned the
racial view of caste: “Even the Hindu castes, originally purely Indo-European,
could not be limited to a race: there are Tamil, Balinese, Siamese Brahmins.”27
recently, a passionate defence of caste has been published by the late
Alain Danié1ou, musicologist and India-lover of socialist persuasion
and homosexual inclination. Like many orientalists before him, he
had a distorted perception of Hindu culture, transparent of his own likes
and dislikes, e.g. greatly exaggerating the degree of sexual freedom or
permissiveness in Hindu society. He considered the caste system as
a primitive but highly effective form of guild socialism.
book Histoire de l’Inde includes an imaginative processing of the
AIT in all its implications, describing how the white Aryans subdued the
dark natives and forced them into the menial castes, etc. His
book Les Quatre Sens de la Vie (“The Four Meanings of Life”) is
a passionate plea for the caste system conceived as a way to preserve the
racial and cultural identities of different ethnic groups.28
it remains odd, though, to read a glorification of caste by a Westerner
who will never have to live in that system. Should it not be possible
to appreciate certain historical merits of the caste system (e.g. its decentralized
structure which helped Hindu society to survive centuries of Islamic occupation)
without going all the way in glorifying it?
was an associate of the late Swami Karpatri, a pure Hindu traditionalist
whose pro-caste political party, the Ram Rajya Parishad, occupied
a few seats in the Indian Parliament in the 1950s and 60s. Note,
however, that real Hindu traditionalists with a purely traditional Sanskrit-medium
education uphold caste without believing in the invasionist or racial theory
of caste. Till today, quite a few of them have not even heard
of the AIT.
1.1.7. Aryan racism today
faith in the AIT, not in some sophisticated or sanitized modern form but
in its unadulterated racist version, is still in evidence in ultra-Rightist
fringe groups. Consider the following lament by a Belgian critic
of Peter Brooke’s theatre version of the Mahabharata: “Incomprehensible
and shocking is that some major roles have been played by actors of African
origin. It is certainly commendable to include Italians, Englishmen
etc., but Africans? Nothing in the epic permits such a deviation. Let
there be no mistake about it: the Mahabharata is not an epic written for
some entity called humanity. It is a narrative by and for the Aryas
as an Indo-European caste which had imposed its authority in India”.29
man seems unaware that “Aryan” Mahabharata protagonists like Krishna and
Draupadi, as well as some of the Vedic rishis, are explicitly described
as dark-skinned while nearly all upper-caste Hindus are at least black-haired,
a far cry from the Blond Beast (to borrow Friedrich Nietzsche’s
sarcastic term) which was the white racists’ idea of the Aryan Superman.30
Rivarol still analyzes Indian politics, including
the Lok Sabha elections of February 1998, in racial terms. its commentator
makes fun of the plight of Western Leftists who, supposedly anti-racist
and anti-colonial, feel constrained to oppose the allegedly “rightist”
BJP with its programme of cultural decolonization, and to support the anti-BJP
alliance led by Sonia Gandhi, a beneficiary of an alleged Indian racial
prejudice: “In the West, India’s election campaign has been reduced to
the presence of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s widow, presented as the bulwark
against the expected gains of the BJP, considered as sectarian, facist
and anti-Muslim. However, the anti-racist supporters of the pretty
Italian are forgetting a decisive factor in her unusual popularity (…):
the whiteness of her skin. Living in the myth
of Aryan superiority, the Indians, including those from the south, are
obsessed with paleness: the paler your skin colour, the better your chances
of finding a job or a marriage partner. So, the fascination for Sonia
is largely an Aryan fascination!”31
no such comments have appeared in the Indian press, much less in the Hindu
nationalist press (where Sonia is denounced as an agent of the Vatican
and derided as the “white elephant” and “the shroud of Turin”) or in Indian
anti-AIT publications. To Hindu nationalists, paleface does
not mean “Aryan”; if anything, it could only connote “neocolonialist”.
Meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi’s first year in office as Congress Party leader
(1998) undeniably gave her a fast-increasing popularity in spite of her
poverty in ideas and leadership.
examples show that the political reading of the AIT in terms of 19th-century
colonial conceptions is not entirely dead yet in Europe. But at least,
it has been definitively marginalized. Though noteworthy as a tenacious
relic of the world-view of a bygone age, it is now without political importance,
nor does it have a presence in the academic world (the above-mentioned
Prof. Jean Haudry has retired, and his institute for IE studies in Lyon
is being closed down). The only consequential political motive for
Western academics to uphold the AIT is not- a lingering commitment to colonial
causes, but solidarity with their Indian counterparts who have their own
reasons for defending the AIT against its challengers. By contrast,
Indian political readings of the AIT still weigh heavily on the present-day
political climate of that country.
Phule: Slavery (1873), republished by the Government of Maharashtra,
Mumbai 1991, as vol.1 of Collected Works of Mahatma Jotirao Phule,
survey of British colonial thought about the Aryan theory is given in Thomas
R. Trautmann: Aryans and British India, University of California
Press, Berkeley 1997; see also the review by C.A. Bayly: “What language
hath joined”, Times Literary Supplement, 8-8-1997. See also
Christine Bolt: Victorian Attitudes to Race, Routledge & Kegan,
in C.H. Philips ed.: Select Documents on the History of India and Pakistan,
part IV, OUP, London 1962, p-315.
Chunder Sen’s Lectures in India, p.323, quoted by Romila Thapar: “The
theory of Aryan race and India”, Social Scientist, January-March
Devi Mukherji: Souvenirs et Refléxions d’une Aryenne, Delhi
by André van Lysebeth: Tantra, Le Culte de la Féminité,
Flammarion, Fribourg 1988, p.24, from Hermann Lommel: Les anciens Aryens,
Gallimard, Paris 1943.
Thapar: “The Theory of Aryan Race and India: History and Politics”, Social
Scientist, Delhi, January-March 1996, p.s.
term is still used in that sense in the Constitution of the Hindu Kingdom
of Nepal, which enjoins the King to “uphold Aryan culture”.
a first acquaintance with the Arya Samaj and the causes it fought for,
see J.T.F. Jordens: Swami Shraddhananda, His Life and Causes, CUP,
Aurobindo: India’s Rebirth, institut de Recherches Evolutives, Paris
1993, p.228. For his views on Nazism, see also op.cit., p.206, 209,
Aurobindo: India’s Rebirth, p. 104.
Aurobindo was also a critic of the AIT, e.g. in an appendix on IE-Dravidian
relations in his book The Secret of the Veda. His line of argument
has been developed further in a meritorious booklet by Michel Danino and
Sujata Nahar: The Invasion that Never Was, Mira Aditi Centre, Mysore
to be confused with the Anglo-Saxon Reaganite-Thatcherite New Right
tendency of the 1980s: the Nouvelle Droite is, among other things,
anti-American, anti-capitalist, and pro-multiculturalist. By far
the best English-language introduction to the Nouvelle Droite is
the winter 1993-94 issue of the American periodical Telos. A political
manifesto of the Nouvelle Droite was published in its quarterly Eléments,
very idea that IE heritage could include other cultural items beside language
is argued and pleasantly illustrated in Shan M.M. Winn: Heaven, Heroes
and Happiness. The Indo-European Roots of Western Ideology,
University Press of America, Lanham MD 1995.
defence of the European Urheimat hypothesis is given by Jean Haudry and
Alain de Benoist in the Nouvelle Droite periodical Nouvelle Ecole,
1997 (issue title Les Indo-Européens), along with an exhaustive
survey of the development of the field of IE studies. it was praised sky-high
for its completeness by Edgar Polomé. (who is a member of the periodical’s
patronage committee) in the review section of the Journal of Indo-European
Studies, spring-summer 1997. The 1995 issue of Nouvelle Ecole
was devoted to the theme of “Tradition”, with articles on the IE heritage
in India, academically sound but of course full of the Aryan-Dravidian
opposition and the inevitable Aryan invasion.
Haudry: Les Indo-Européens, PUF, Paris 1985, p. 122-124.
Haudry: Les Indo-Européens, p. 114.
panthéon de la Nouvelle Droite”, Maurice Olender interviewed in
L’Histoire, October 1992, p.48-51. Reference is, among others, to the republication
of Hans F.K. Günther: Religiosité Indo-Européenne,
Pardès, Puiseaux 1987 (1934), with a foreword by the Belgian Rightist
ideologue Robert Steuckers, who tries to whitewash Günther from his
reputation of being “Hitler’s official anthropologist”. On closer reading,
we find that Günther’s occasional criticism of Nazi policies hardly
exonerates him, e.g. he opposed the equal allotment of social security
benefits to all Germans regardless of their degree of racial “fitness”
(p.12). Of course, Günther also assumes the Aryan invasion of
is to A. de Benoist’s books Racismes, Antiracismes (with Pierre-André
Taguieff, Julien Freund et al.), Klincksieck 1984; Democratie: le Probléme,
Labyrinthe 1985; and Europe, Tiers-Monde, Même Combat, Laffont
is telling how even a Rightist has to invoke Leftist company to gain respectability.
The well-known French Leftist author Régis Debray, former fellow-traveller
of Che Guevara, has remarked that “there is no life left in the French
intellectual scene” (that much is true) “except in the Nouvelle Droite”.
This Left-Right collaboration was the target of a Leftist campaign in 1993,
appealing to all institutions and media to boycott the Nouvelle Droite.
The campaign, led by Roger-Pol Droit, author of a meritorious book on the
decline of India’s stature in Western thought during the 19th century (L’Oubli
de l’lnde, Paris 1989), backfired: the targeted authors published a
counter-statement condemning the witch-hunt, and many of the signatories
of the campaign withdrew their own signature.
Guénon: La Grande Triade, Gallimard, Paris 1980 (1957).
Remark how the basic division in three, deemed typical of IE culture, is
presented here through Chinese philosophy (heaven, atmosphere, earth, corresponding
with the Hindu triad sattva/transparent, rajas/turbid, tamas/dark),
an unwitting argument against the exclusively IE character of “trifunctionality”.
As the chief ideologue of “traditionalism”, Guénon also wrote about
Hinduism: L’Homme et son Devenir selon le Vedanta, and Etudes
Evola did make straight pleas for the white racist case, e.g. in an article
against racial integration in the USA: “L’Amérique négrifiée”,
in J. Evola: L’Arc et la Messue, Guy Trédaniel/Pardes, Paris
1983 (1971), p.31-39.
Evola: Le Fascisme Vu de Droite, Totalité, Paris 1981.
Evola: Rivolta contra il Mondo Moderno, Milan 1934, p. 105; I have
used the French translation: Révolte contre le Monde Moderne,
Editions de l’Homme, Ottawa/Brussels, p.115ff.
K. Coomaraswamy: Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in the Indian
Theory of Government, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi 1978 (1942), P.2.
Schuon: Castes et Races, Arché, Milan 1979, p.7.
Schuon: Castes et Races, p.37.
Daniélou: Histoire de l’Inde, Fayard, Paris 1983 (1971);
Les Quatre Sens de la Vie: La Structure Sociale de l’Inde Traditionnelle,
Buchet-Chastel, Paris 1984 (1975).
van den Haute: “Le MahAbhArata ou la mémoire la plus longue”, L’Anneau
(Brussels), #22-23 (1993)
I communicated the present criticism to him in November 1998, Mr. Van den
Haute replied that he had already changed his mind after actually reading
a Mahabharata translation. He maintained nonetheless that Peter Brooke
had only included Africans in his cast because “this would please the commissars
of political correctness who control the subsidy purse strings”.
“Elections indiennes: la longue marche des hindouistes”, Rivarol,
early March 1998.
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