Danielou and histories of Indian religious legacies

After so many confused books on Indian tradition it is almost a relief to read Danielou. However the old blog contains a lot of criticism of that writer who sadly was part of the Traditionalist school. But the point is to see the antiquity of Indic religion without injecting the OIT (Out of India Theory) nonsense, to consider a primordial ‘Shiva’ legacy as one point of reference in the history of yoga (no dogmas there either), to consider some proto-dravidian (? at least non-aryan) early legacy,  oral traditions in the eras before writing, and most of all to see that the Vedic tradition is an impostor and not the source of the tradition even though the Upanishads suddenly appear at the end (Vedanta). The Hindu tradition as is hopelessly confused but Danielou’s views at their core are not exactly new: a generation ago before the Hindutva nutjobs the idea of the Aryan invasions was standard.

There is a lot in Danielou that must be taken with care, for example, his delicious and fascinating idea of a connection between Shiva and Dionysus. This evidently going back into the neolithic origins of these and most religious (cf. the pre-sand Egypt of Gurdjieff), i.e. later Neolithic, with the early Neolithic up in the air. In one of his later books Danielou even claims that translations from Dravidian into Sanskrit are extant but rarely studied???

The crazy idea that the Aryans invented yoga, etc, has become dominant but is crackpot. The OIT group correctly find the legacy ancient, but that can’t be Aryan or in an Indo-european language. The early vedic language would have been totally unrecognizable in neolithic times.  The correct rough comparison is Homeric Greek (and/or Linear B era greek). The absurdity of the nonsense here is now almost a new dogma, scholars who should know better knuckle under to all this nonsense…The Indo-european languages entered India in the same way they entered Greek (with of course many other cases in parallel).  I am not sure of the recent research but Indo-European before 4000 BCE is a dubious entity, save as some possible precursor, unknown. Many over and over miscompute the factor of language change: in a mere few centuries Pali appears, and after 2400 years we get from Sanskrit (an artificial Vedic) to Hindi. You can’t jump back five thousand years and recognize much of anything. (The same would hold true of ‘loose talk’ about ‘dravidian’).

A generation ago most Indian thinkers and gurus took the Aryan ‘entry’ factor for granted (a figure like Rajneesh simply scoffted at the Hindutva claim here) so this is hardly some kind of radical view.


However, we don’t have any real proof of such a connection, Shiva and Dionysus.  They could just as well be parallel legacies like the totally different Egyptian/  So be wary of Danielou.


Danielou’s history of India


A Brief History of India (Hardcover)
by Alain Daniélou

I came across Danielou’s book today, and have been reading it through with interest. No doubt the book has its problems, but it is a thunderclap of obvious insights after so much confusion on Indian history and religion.
After our many discussions of the Aryan invasion debate here, this older book (reprinted, but from the seventies???) which knows nothing of the controversy is very helpful.
Danielou is an especially close student of Shaivism, and its pre-Aryan origins, and this perspective hits the spot in sorting out the confusions of standard discourse on Hinduism/Vedism.
We can go into it here later, but, for example, the realization (which I had long suspected) that most of what we think of as the Indian religious tradition springs from the Dravidian and pre-Aryan period of India. The anti-invasionists have confused the issue: they are right, the Indian tradition is very much more ancient than we realize, but it wasn’t Aryan, but Dravidian.
Much more to say here.


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