India, the Multicultural Paradigm

The roots of India’s multiculturalism extend back over three thousand years to the first great invasions of South Asia by Indo-Aryan tribes whose priestly Brahman bards chanted mantras to their gods. Those Vedic Aryans, the easternmost wing of an Indo-European dispersion originating in the Caucasus, poured over the Khyber, Bolan, and other passes of the Hindu Kush mountains that now divide Afghanistan from Pakistan. Thanks to their multi-horsed chariots, well-wrought iron, and hafted axes, the rajas and their tough Aryan tribes conquered the far more sophisticated pre-Aryan urbanites, whose civilization had flourished for almost a thousand years in the Indus Valley. The pre-Aryan peoples were probably proto-Dravidian-speaking ancestors of southern India’s modem Tar-nil-speaking Dravidas and may in turn have migrated to India from East Africa. From the archaeological remains of Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, and many other Indus Valley digs, we know how civilized they were, with modem sewage systems, hypocaust baths, steatite seals, burnt bricks, and glyptic art. They appear to have worshipped a phallic yogic fertility deity (the “Great God’ of modem Hinduism, Shiva) and the Mother Goddess, whose fecundity and “power” (&a&~) are required to animate every male Hindu deity.

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