collection of hauma hamiddha's scattered posts

Posts tagged ‘greece’

Greco-Semitic cuture?

I read with interest Mr. Malhotra’s essay on the travails of Hinduism
in USA in which he uses the term Greco-Semitic to contrast the Indic
traditions. While I agree with his well worked out analysis in that
essay I think the term Greco-Semitic deserves some inspection.

Primarily it should be ackowledged that ancient Greek culture was
close to ancient Hindu culture both in terms of approach to life and
religious practice. The modern European who considers the Greco-Roman
tradition as the fount of his civilization and tries to pour the
metaphorical Greco-Roman cultural wine into a Semitic bottle resulting
a grotesque view of Greco-roman culture. In its exterme form this
results in the following images: The highly philosophical and
scientific Greek who is rational and completely divested of his pagan
context. The glorious Roman art on one side is separated from the
Roman religion which is instead associated with a blood thirsty and
decadent Roman despot. The average Indian nowadays with an increasing
sense of historical cultural isolation of bhAratavarsha views the
Greek and Roman as a barbaric foreigner more like his recent British,
French or Portuguese tormentors. As a result the underlying unity of
prehistoric and early historical Indo-European culture is dissolving
in the minds of both Indians and Europeans alike. The yavanas of
Gandhara were able to quickly identify with the Indians in the past:
Whether you read the Milinda panha or see the Garuda stambha of
Heliodorus, the deeper dialogue of the yavana and Indian thought can
be seen. So in the interaction with the modern “greco-semitic”
culture the Indian needs to strike a connection with the Greek aspect
thereof that lies beneath the patina of semitic exclusivism. The only
solution to this is a proper historical education in both India and
the Mlecchadeshas and a religious education in India. This has to
start at home, for once an entire generation becomes Hindu (or returns
to the Hindu dharma) the forces of democracy would restore the Hindu
dharma to the rashTra. Outside bhArata the return to the dharma could
also serve a more important purpose of preventing a Fiji like
situation from happening again.

> There is someting of an abused child sydnrome or deep disaffection
> when describing nature.
> thus uranus has his genitals chopped off by his son just before
> copulation with gaea. Such morbid themes of patricide rape abound in
> the literature in sharp contrast to the indian versions. I had
> earlier pointed out the differences bewtween the greek and indian
> oedipus.

There is a clear substratum effect in the case of both the Greeks and
the Indians. The above tale of theogony that you mention is of
Mediterranean origin that was horizontal transferred to the greeks
and thus cannot be traced back to PIE ancestors. A person like Wendy
Doniger may tell us that it is the Indians who supressed their sexual
urges and sanitized their literature but nothing can be farther from
the truth. In fact the cycle of father kilings is a very middle
eastern concept making rounds in the civilizations in that region in
various forms.

Finally as far as their closeness to nature goes we will have to
look at their original religious poetry: we have lost the Greek
counterparts of the Vedas. But defnitely they existed. You must take a
look at the surviving fragments called the Homeric hymns where you can
see the more pristine form of IE thought. For example the Hymn to the
Dioscuri uses terms like sons of Zeus that match with Divo napAta used
in the hymns to the ashvins.

Again we have to view the Greeks from a different perspective rather
than the one offered by the Western psychoanalysts.

> Even then we should remember that greek chroniclers of alexanders
> time were able to make some connections between hinduism and the
> greek cult of dionysius.

Most importantly all early Indian authors clearly state that the
yavanas, mlecchas, shakas and hUnas are descendents of the druhyus,
anus etc who in turn descend from yayAti along with the bhAratas. Also
we must keep in mind that the Indians easily accepted the Zoroasterian
priests in shaka/pahAlavan period and assimilated them as sauras- this
was purely out of knowledge of the cultural kinship with the
inhabitants of shAkadesha. Also note much later the parsi dastur (I
think in the 12th century) Nairyosangha translated the avesta into
vedic clearly aware of the similarities.

The greek-Indian clash of cultures was so much less traumatic for the
Indians and the Greeks as well (as compared with the clash with the
Moslem) simply because of the cultural unity. In general one may say
that all pagan cultures instinctively recognize some inherent unity
amidst themselves (note the pre-muslim turks in Afghanistan) but the
greek-Indian interactions were deeper than that.

> > The greek-Indian clash of cultures was so much less traumatic for
>Indians and the Greeks as well (as compared with the clash with the

> > Moslem) simply because of the cultural unity.
> Does this mean that the ~300 million Muslim South Asians are

It is question of definitions; My original sentence had nothing to do
with the status of South Asian Moslems or Aryans for that matter.

If you define Aryan as people with the original IE speakers of India
as direct ancestors then definitely some Moslems of India, Iran and
Pakistan had Aryan ancestors.

However, if you define Aryan in purely cultural terms: the Hindu
elite= Aryan or cultural descendents of the the vedic peoples= Aryan
then Moslems are obviously not Aryans.

The point I have repeatedly made is that the ancient pagan cultures
saw the world very differently. Only the modern Hindus preserve this
view in any significant numbers. These ancient pagan civilization did
not really have constructs like racial conciousness and the Abrahamic
concept of holy war. So the civilizational clashes, which did occur
abundantly amidst these pagan cultures, did not have a long lasting
damaging effect like that witnessed in the case of Christianity and

As a thought experiment imagine a clash between the American Native
and India colonists. Even if the latter had subdued and overrun former
you would not have seen a displacement of the native religion or

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