N. S. Rajaram
Navaratna Srinivasa Rajaram (22 September 1943 – 11 December 2019) was an Indian academic and a Hindutva ideologue, notable for his publications from the Voice of India publishing house, propounding the "Indigenous Aryans" hypothesis and asserting that the Vedic period was extremely advanced from a scientific view-point. Rajaram also claimed to have deciphered the Indus script which was rejected by scholars.
He died on 11 December 2019.
Rajaram extensively published on topics related to ancient Indian history and Indian archaeology, alleging a Eurocentric bias in Indology and Sanskrit scholarship and arguing within the realms of "Indigenous Aryans" theory instead.
He criticized the process by which, he said, Eurocentric 19th century "Indologists / missionaries" arrived at many of their conclusions. Despite being dismissive of exploiting linguistics as a tool for historiography, Rajaram questioned how it was possible for 19th century European evangelical "Indologists / missionaries" to study and develop hypotheses on Indian history, claiming many of them were "functionally illiterate" in Indian languages, including even the fundamental classical language, Sanskrit. Rajaram suggests that:
- "Ancient Indian history is ripe for a thorough revision [...] one can begin by clearing away the cobwebs cast by questionable linguistic theories, [...] using every available modern tool from archaeology to computer science."
He advocated the Indigenous Aryans hypothesis and rejected Indo-Aryan migration theory as a fabricated version of history devised for missionary and colonial interests, and later propounded by left-liberals and Marxists. Dating the Vedas to circa 7000 BC, he also propounded that the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley corresponds with the end phase of the Vedic Age and thus hypothesized it to be a part of Vedic era.
In Puratattva, the journal of the Indian Archaeological Society, Rajaram claimed that "Vedic Indians" taught the Pharaohs of Egypt to build the Pyramids. He also asserted that the concept of secularism being irrelevant to a pluralistic state and thus claimed that ancient Hindu India was a secular state.
He also claimed to have deciphered the Indus script and of having equated it to late Vedic Sanskrit; both of which were later debunked.
In 2000, Rajaram had flaunted a horse on an Indus seal as a path-breaking discovery that lends credence to the belief that Aryans were the actual inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization, until Michael Witzel and Steve Farmer exposed the fraud in the Frontline magazine later that year. Romila Thapar, a noted historian, supported the expose against (what she deemed as) Hindutva driven historical revisionism. Regarding the "Indus horse" hoax, Asko Parpola, professor of Indology at Helsinki University, stated that
It is sad that India's heritage should be exploited by some individuals — usually people with little or no academic credentials — who for political or personal motives are ready even to falsify evidence. In order to vindicate their ideology and promote their own ends, these persons appeal to the feelings of the 'common man' who, with full reason, is proud of his or her country's grand heritage. Thus far Rajaram has got away with this dishonesty because the scholarly community has not considered this work worthy of consideration: it has been taken more or less for granted that any sensible person can see through this trash and recognize it as such. However, the escalation of this nonsensical propaganda now demands the issue to be addressed.
Rajaram's and Jha's claims of having deciphered the Indus script were universally rejected. Noted epigraphist and an expert in Indus scripts-- Iravatham Mahadevan dismissed Jha-Rajaram work as a "non-starter" and "completely invalid", that even mis-analysed the direction of reading. Speaking from the chair of the President, on the occasion of the 2001 session of Indian History Congress, as to the recent advances in the deciphering of the Indus Script, Mahadevan noted that there was hardly any significant progress in the last decade. Concerning Rajaram's works, he notes:-
.....He recognises that he has to demolish the current theories if the model of decipherment presented by him is to be accepted. And he goes about the job of demolition with gusto in his inimitable polemical style......
Rajaram's outbursts speak for themselves and need no annotation. The first part of the book is not about academic research on the technical problem of deciphering an unknown script. It is crude communal propaganda with obvious political overtones, betraying deep mistrust of foreigners and alien ideologies and intolerance towards religious and linguistic minorities......
It is claimed that some of the mathematical formulas of the Sulbasutras are found in the Indus inscriptions... The method is so flexible and easy to follow that one can, without much effort, read into the Indus texts almost any mathematical formula...
Thapar noted Rajaram's writings to resemble nineteenth century tracts that were evidently unfamiliar with tools of historiography but were sprinkled with programming references; so as to suggest scientific objectivity. She also noted that anybody who disagreed with him was branded a Marxist. K. N. Panikkar criticized his works to be a communal intervention in historiography that was not an academic exercise in quest of truth but rather a political project knowingly undertaken with a cavalier attitude to the established norms of the discipline, so as to hamper the secular fabric of the society and lead to the establishment of a Hindu state. Endowed with the support of the ruling party, this succeeded in floating an alternative narrative of history and turning history into a contentious issue in popular discourse.
Cynthia Ann Humes criticized Rajaram's Politics of History as a polemic work whilst Suraj Bhan noted it to be a demonstration of historical revisionism. Michael Witzel noted him to be an autochthonous writer, whose books were a mythological rewrite of history and were designed for the expatriate Indians of the 21st century, who sought a " largely imagined, glorious but lost distant past".
- Koertge, Noretta (2005). Scientific Values and Civic Virtues. Oxford University Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0-19-803846-7. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
- Chadha, Ashish (April 2010). "Cryptographic imagination: Indus script and the project of scientific decipherment". The Indian Economic & Social History Review. 47 (2): 141–177. doi:10.1177/001946461004700201. ISSN 0019-4646. S2CID 145398715.
- Rajaram 2019, p. 300.
- Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A place at the multicultural table the development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. pp. 255. ISBN 9780813540559. OCLC 703221465.
- "Former NASA Scientist N.S. Rajaram of 'Navarathna' family passes away". Star of Mysore. 12 December 2019. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
- Chadha, Ashish (February 2011). "Conjuring a river, imagining civilisation: Saraswati, archaeology and science in India". Contributions to Indian Sociology. 45 (1): 55–83. doi:10.1177/006996671004500103. ISSN 0069-9667. S2CID 144701033.
- Bryant, Edwin (March 2004). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. pp. 347, 82. ISBN 9780195169478. OCLC 697790495.
- Rajaram 1995, page 230, (cited in Bryant 2001 page 74
- Bryant, Edwin (March 2004). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. p. 281. ISBN 9780195169478. OCLC 697790495.
- Bryant, Edwin (March 2004). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Oxford University Press. pp. 287, 280. ISBN 9780195169478. OCLC 697790495.
- "The Rewriting Of History..." Outlook (India).
- Nanda, Meera (2004). Prophets Facing Backward : Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India. Rutgers University Press. pp. 53, 54, 103. ISBN 9780813536347. OCLC 1059017715.
- Kurien, Prema A. (2007). A place at the multicultural table the development of an American Hinduism. Rutgers University Press. pp. 168. ISBN 9780813540559. OCLC 703221465.
- A. Parpola, Of Rajaram's 'Horses', 'decipherment' and civilisational issues, Frontline, November 2000 .
- Guha, Sudeshna (2005). "Negotiating Evidence: History, Archaeology and the Indus Civilisation". Modern Asian Studies. 39 (2): 399–426. doi:10.1017/S0026749X04001611. ISSN 0026-749X. JSTOR 3876625.
- "New Evidence on the 'Piltdown Horse' Hoax". frontline.thehindu.com. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- "Hindutva and history". Frontline. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- "One sees what one wants to". frontline.thehindu.com. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
- MAHADEVAN, IRAVATHAM (2001). "General President's Address: Aryan or Dravidian or Neither? A Study of Recent Attempts to Decipher the Indus Script (1995-2000)". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 62: 1–23. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44155743.
- Panikkar, K. N. (2003). "Colonialism, Culture and Revivalism". Social Scientist. 31 (1/2): 3–16. doi:10.2307/3518287. ISSN 0970-0293. JSTOR 3518287.
- Humes, Cynthia Ann (2012). "Hindutva, Mythistory, and Pseudoarchaeology". Numen. 59 (2/3): 178–201. doi:10.1163/156852712X630770. ISSN 0029-5973. JSTOR 23244958.
- Bhan, Suraj (1997). "Recent Trends in Indian Archaeology". Social Scientist. 25 (1/2): 3–15. doi:10.2307/3517757. ISSN 0970-0293. JSTOR 3517757.
- Rajaram, N S (2019). The Vanished Raj A Memoir of Princely India. Prism Books Private Limited. ISBN 9789388478113.
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