Monday, January 25, 2010

Kosambi on early feudalism in the Punjab

Baba Farid- The intellectual developments of 12th century Punjab and rise of Sufism « Indus Asia Online Journal (iaoj)
D. D. Kosambi, the renowned Indian historian, is not very impressed with the level of knowledge created during the transformation from Vedic tribalism to feudalism in the Punjab and the rest of India. The Punjab was in the forefront of such a transformation from tribalism to feudalism, giving birth to isolated villages and cities where kings and priestly classes had developed close links. Kosambi argues that the isolation of villages and their surplus channeled through the king and not through market mechanism, created conditions that were not conducive to enhancing knowledge: The interaction of individuals through commodity markets creates and builds institutions of knowledge.

Kosambi maintains that the Punjab was at par with Greece in the early periods, but the repulsion felt by the priestly classes for material reality hindered progress. In his words, “Thus, Brahmin indifference to past and present reality not only erased Indian history but a great deal of real Indian culture as well. The loss may be estimated by imagining the works of Aristotle, Herodotus, Thucydides and their contemporaries as replaced by priestly rituals rewritten [by the Greek intelligentsia]…” In other words the priestly classes were just rewriting rituals, while society was transforming its base in the Punjab.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

DDK on the national language

The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | Something to learn and ponder
D.D. Kosambi was a Marxist polymath. From his eyrie in Deccan College, Poona, he used to wander in the hills behind, pick up sharpened pebbles (‘microliths’ in archaeologists’ jargon), and wonder which of them shepherds had used to circumcise their goats as they migrated between their winter pastures down in the hills and monsoon refuge in the Western Ghats. In a 1960 article included here, he asks what should be India’s national language. He rejects both Sanskrit and English because they were imposed by ruling classes, and Hindi because its adoption would scare Madrasis that they would be overrun by Marwari shopkeepers. Having rejected all common languages, he is left with the alternative that everyone should speak his own language — whether they understand one another or not is immaterial.