The moral and ethical codes of societies under Abrahamic religions were also rooted in divine commandments or revealed truths. The underlying mentality akin to tribal retribution (also visible in lives of Prophets and saints) left mutual warring states and societies with no choice other than ruthless annihilation of the opponent. Therefore along with vicarious missionary activities, coercive mass conversions of opponents, appropriation of their histories and culture was a fair strategy for church-state and Ummah.
This made them earlier avatar of 19th century colonialists. Much touted universal values of these religions were imposition of clannish Abrahamic thought over others; and morals and ethics were different for the faithful and kaffirs and pagans. This made these religions more dependent on brute force and political power for growth and survival.
Such inherent insularity and close-ended conception (of men) renders Abrahamic tradition unfit for large scale emulation and organic coexistence with dissimilar cultures; though it provides most formidable war machinery. As if the spirit of hunter gatherer tribe of hostile dessert terrains is embedded in the philosophy of these religions.
There is a general lack of holistic, expansive and accommodative value structure owing to absence of inherent logical explanations in moral-ethical structures (like theory of Karma/rebirth or sacredness of universe); and its reliance on revealed authority in place of inherent, cogent rationale pose a natural hindrance for large scale lenient and sustainable human civilization. Religious narrowness also hinders it arrive at platform on which societies can interact with mutual respect. Proselytizing carried out by religions ranging from subtle inducements to outright violence creates confusion in moral and ethical values and aesthetic sensitivity of subjects.
Traditional scholars are not that forthcoming yet to give Dharmic tradition its due recognition in various developments. We have taken here influential Sanskrit professor Sheldon Pollock as a case to study. Prof. Pollock relying heavily upon language as a primary tool to study the interactions of local and translocal form states that, “the story of how this formation arose—how Sanskrit traveled the vast distance it did and came to be used for literary and political texts, and what such texts meant to the worlds of power in which they were produced—has never been told in the historical detail it merits.” He wonders, “other great globalizing processes of the past found emic formulation and conceptualization, whether in terms of a cultural particularity (Hellenismos or Arabiya or Farsiyat) or a political form (imperium romanum or guo, the Sinitic “fatherland”).
But for neither the political nor the cultural sphere that Sanskrit created and inhabited was there an adequate self-generated descriptor. Even the word Samskriti, the classicizing term adopted for translating “culture” in many modern South Asian languages, is itself unattested in pre modern Sanskrit in this sense. To explain this he comes up with a term Sanskrit cosmopolis, “If we are therefore obliged to invent our own expression for the transregional power-culture sphere of Sanskrit, the fact that Sanskrit never sought to theorize its own universality should not be seen as lack or failure. On the contrary, it points to something central about the character and existence of the Sanskrit cosmopolis itself: a universalism that never objectified, let alone enforced, its universalism.
What Pollack calls “a universalism that never objectified, let alone enforced, its universalism”, is important and hints at criticality of moral-ethical value perspective understanding. But his major arguments read like studying Sanskrit from medieval European or Abrahamic presumptions. He wants to see dharmic India act in Abrahamic fashion. For example he doesn’t go into details of Neeti-shastra or Varnashrama values which can lead to more plausible reasons. In short many of his major works follow common strategy.
He first creates reductionist terms and concepts (in above quoted example Sanskrit cosmopolis) and then connects them in a string of convenient-selective meta-narrative. Such constructs end-up in a mass of intellectual marsh that harms genuine inquiry. Fakeness of such burdensome theories is exposed only when they are compared with first hand evidence but for outsider translation relying students they appear great intellectual feat.
His grand theories and complex narratives, easily among the best specimens of scholastic skill and enterprise as far credibility and logic is concerned, remain a monumental waste of efforts something that happens when inappropriate devices are employed to study an alien subject. It is akin to review Hollywood movie ‘Psycho’ in Persian, employing Mimamsa perspective!
Against such biased studies, a recent multi-disciplinary study of Prof. Robin Bradley Kar attempts an alternate “true origins history” to understand some vexed riddles of cultural-civilizational encounters and development of what we call human civilization today. He provides an alternative to traditional “Kurgan Hypothesis” of Marija Gimbutas and suggests that Western law and civilization descends from ancient Socio-cultural tradition of civilization. His research from legal, cultural and civilizational perspective makes him to suggest that this originating Socio-cultural tradition was is from Eastern-Iran-Bactria-Indus-Valley region.
To quote Prof. Kar, “Recent advances in a broad range of cognate fields have, however, now accumulated past a critical tipping point, and we are now in a secure enough position to begin to reconstruct important aspects of Western legal prehistory. This Article draws upon and develops these contemporary findings to reconstruct the most plausible genealogical shape of Western legal prehistory. In the process, it reaches a somewhat surprising conclusion. On the traditional view, the most important traditions relevant to the rise of Western law and Western Civilization are said to have originated in ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel.
This traditional view is, however, based primarily on historical sources, and the reconstructions in this Article suggest that important precursors of these traditions very likely emerged much earlier and much further to the East. In fact, some of the most important traditions relevant to the emergence of large-scale civilizations with the rule of law in the West would appear to represent just one branch a much larger and richer family of traditions, which began to emerge around 4500 BC in the Eastern-Iran-Bactria-Indus-Valley region.
Beginning at this early time, this region began to produce one of the very first ancient civilizations to arise within our natural history as a species (viz., the “Harappan” or “Indus Valley” Civilization), and the people in this region must have therefore developed some of the very first cultural traditions that were specifically adapted to sustaining large-scale civilizations with incipient law. I will be arguing that these ancient developments most likely had a much closer and much more intimate relationship to some of the earliest precursors of Western tradition than has commonly been recognized because these precursors of Western tradition ultimately originated closer to ancient Bactria— which is an area directly adjacent to the Indus Valley—during this very same time period.
The reconstructions developed in this article will thus allow me to decipher what I take to be the most plausible early genealogical shape of our legal family tree, and to suggest a number of important but underappreciated relationships that obtain between our modern Western traditions and a range of other Eurasian traditions with which the West has typically been contrasted. In today’s world, it is, moreover, especially important that we try to reconstruct the genealogical structure of Western legal prehistory and obtain a better understanding of our deep past.
In his proposition “Eastern Proto-Indo-European Expansion Thesis,” Prof. Kar states that from some time around 4500 BC until approximately 1900 BC, the Indus Valley river system played the most central, the most significant, and the most enduring focal point for the prehistoric coordination and expansion of the Indo-European language family, and also for the development of several key Indo-European cultural innovations, which have made subsequent Indo-European groups particularly well adapted to transitioning into and sustaining large-scale societies with the rule of law.”
He notes, Indo-European (and, indeed, Indo-Iranian) dialects still predominate in all parts of the Eastern-Iran-Bactria-Indus-Valley region, despite these regions having been conquered several times by Altaic or other external forces.” And that “We should also remember that the archaeology of the Indus Valley region suggests remarkable social continuity for the entire three millennia prior to 1500 BC.”
Indus valley script remains a major riddle to be solved. But we can safely assume that once decoded we shall find its words in Chhandas and Sanskrit. To understand the reasons “for remarkable social for the entire three millennia” study of textual histories and so-called mythologies prevalent in Eastern-Iran- Bactria- Indus valley region, like Vedic literature, Purana and Etihaasa is essential. This repository of knowledge shall be of much help to recreate a scene of that society and can provide some clues that might not be available in study of scientific advancement, mathematics, language, agriculture, architecture-planning, trade and metallurgy etc. For example a dabbling in the Vedic Astronomy would have made Prof. Kar circumspect in accepting “transition of Proto-Indo-Europeans to Semi-agriculturalist/pastoral life around 7000 BC”.
(Click : Anurag Vats)