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The Quest for the Origins of Vedic CultureThe Indo-Aryan Migration Debate$
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Edwin Bryant

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137774

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195137779.001.0001

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Vedic Philology

Vedic Philology

(p.57) 3 Vedic Philology
The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture

Edwin Bryant (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter starts the analysis of the actual data concerning Indo-Aryan origins. By the mid-nineteenth century, one of the few things regarding the homeland that Western Indo-European scholars did agree on was that it could not have been India; wherever the original homeland might have been the Indo-Aryans at least must have come to the subcontinent from outside. While not the slightest bit concerned with the homeland obsession of European scholars in general, Indigenous Aryanists soon reacted to the corollary of the problem when it impinged on the origins of their own culture; it seemed unacceptable to consider that such an enormously speculative and seemingly inconclusive European undertaking should be entitled to make authoritative pronouncements on the early history of the Indian subcontinent. The first voices of opposition that attempted to utilize critical scholarship to counter the claim that the forefathers of the Vedic Indians hailed from outside the subcontinent are introduced. The initial objections concerned the philological evidence that had been brought forward as decisive by Western philologists. Since philology was a discipline that resonated with their own traditional Śruti epistemologies, and since it focused on texts in their own ancient language, Vedic Sanskrit, the philological evidence was the most easily accessible to Indigenous Aryan scrutiny; moreover, these texts that were suddenly of such interest to Western scholars happened to be their sacred ones and this fueled their concern.

Keywords:   history, India, Indigenous Aryanism, Indo-Aryan origins, Indo-European homeland, philological evidence, philology, sacred texts, Śruti, Vedic philology, Western scholars

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