sober recorders of facts
#1
I posted this on FB , did not get response, so posting it here...

I always wondered why Indians did not keep history, we had to fallback to Alexander invasion, fa hien's visit, huan tsang vist etc and there upon draw out many things.... It is hard to believe an advance scientific country like India according to RSS could not keep track of dates. Probably to give the puranas and scriptures a divine interpretation also a feel that they are since time immemorial and all such bull shit. but the reason is as below.

Quote:"In India the art of literary beggery was carried to nauseating length by the brahmin court flatterers of the Hindu kings and even of the Moghal emperors. The very training , mode of life and literary models of these brahmin poets made them unfit to be sober recorders of facts.."
( page 411 - 3rd edition , 1919, pub S C sarkar and sons, calcutta, "shivaji and his times' jadunath sarkar )

Request Nirmukta comment on why ancient Hindus failed to record the facts.
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#2
While we may share Prof. Amartya Sen's disdain for Eurocentric cliches like 'Chanakya is the Indian Machiavelli', it does seem as though there is no Indian Herodotus, or Indian Thucydides or Indian Plutarch.

India's counterpart to Homer is Vyaasa: both are epic poets describing legendary wars where gods and humans participate, both are of dubious historicity and both maybe composites of several individuals. The Iliad and the Mahabharata both deal with moral ambiguities in seemingly just wars, in a manner that doesn't dehumanize the losing side, evident for instance in their portrayals of Hector and Karna respectively. The oral origins of both are estimated to date back to the 8th century BCE.

As we move the 4th Century BCE, the Mahabharata is still being redacted and committed to writing in India as it would continue to be until the Gupta Era in the 4th Century CE. However, Greece of the 4th Century BCE already saw a Thucydides whose history of the Peloponnesian War marked a break from victors' histories common until the time, and even earlier, Herodotus. While it is likely that the Mahabharata was treated as historical fact by Gupta Era citizens, including the Jains and Buddhists of the time, all of the Greco-Roman historians mentioned above were already doubting the historicity of the Iliad centuries earlier, asking whether the ships really numbered over a thousand and whether at all it was a face that launched them, rather than trade wars. While Plutarch's biographies may not meet contemporary standards of realism, biographies in India until centuries later, such as Ashokavadana or Harschacharita were more hagiographies than biographies, written by court-employed epic poets rather than historians writing in plain prose.

What Herodotus, Thucydides and Plutarch have in common is that none of them was beholden to the ruler of the time and all of them voluntarily chose their projects rather than having them commissioned by an authority. Herodotus and Thucydides lived in itinerant exile, while the priest-turned-diplomat Plutarch's highest political office wouldn't be assigned to him until all his major works were written. We might say that they therefore enjoyed academic freedom both in choosing the content of their studies as well as in stating their conclusions. Royal patronage, upon which the work of most composers of surviving Sanskrit works of the classical period was contingent, does not seem compatible with academic freedom. Even though a measure of autonomy and academic freedom seems to have been available at universities at Takshashila and Nalanda, 'history' as recognized today is conspicuously absent in listings of the purportedly encyclopedic curricula in these places.

Quoting Prof. Wadhawan from this thread,
Quote:We were good in mathematics, and philosophy. Technology can often arise without necessarily adopting the scientific method. But science? Sorry. The scientific method did not arise here. We have to thank the Greeks for that.
Likewise, we may say that Indians were adept and felicitous at epic composition, storytelling including 'period dramas' and may have demonstrated expertise in historical novels (the Sangam epic Silappadhikaaram is treated as a useful account of life in Madurai during its time), but historiography as a non-fiction discipline neither originated nor struck root in India. Cultural nationalists, like in this example, are always eager to insist that an Indian way of recording History existed. However, such notions often are founded on an equivocation fallacy around the word itihaasa. Exploiting the coincidences that the Sanskrit translation of this genre name goes 'so indeed it was' and it is to this genre that the poetic epics were classified, and that the word itihaasa in some contemporary Sanskrit-influenced languages is used as a synonym for History as it is now understood, many revivalists establish the self-serving false equivalence of, say, 'Ramayana as historical truth'. The seeming indifference of the Indian mind to historical chronicling even as it reveled in historical novels, may at least in part be traceable to notions of cyclical time which endow posterity with less anticipation and significance, and the dominance of Idealism in Indian thought which rendered notions of time and history to be given radically subjective treatment (as dealt with in a portion of A K Ramanujan's essay linked here) of the sort that characterizes even Indian myths which are seldom standardized but appear in a multitude of variants.
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#3
(14-Oct-2012, 05:13 AM)arvindiyer Wrote: What Herodotus, Thucydides and Plutarch have in common is that none of them was beholden to the ruler of the time and all of them voluntarily chose their projects rather than having them commissioned by an authority. Herodotus and Thucydides lived in itinerant exile, while the priest-turned-diplomat Plutarch's highest political office wouldn't be assigned to him until all his major works were written. We might say that they therefore enjoyed academic freedom both in choosing the content of their studies as well as in stating their conclusions.

If these projects were not commissioned by the government then how were these projects funded? Was there a market for these projects? Did some private citizen, may be a rich business man unaffiliated with government, fund these people? Or did these men have other sources of income and wrote their history books as self-funded amateurs?



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