Re: Racism and ancient history

Paul Kekai Manansala (
Sat, 28 Dec 96 23:52:49 GMT

In article <5a1bn1$>, (Gerold Firl) wrote:
>In article <59i3bu$>, Kihn) writes:

>|> There are plenty of instances of ancient
>|> sources honoring people of different color. It's even difficult at
>|> times for us modern "race conscious" historians to figure out what
>|> color some people were, it was that unimportant.
>One example which has been mentioned in passing should probably be
>highlighted further: the aryan conquest of india. The vedas
>specifically note the contrast between the light-skinned gods and
>dark-skinned demons in the mythological struggle for control of the
>subcontinent, and allusions to the formation of the caste system, with
>a light-to-dark color gradient from brahmin to untouchable, shows the
>racial origin of the worlds oldest apartheid system.

Things really are not that clear-cut. The major gods of Hinduism such
as Shiva, Parvati, Krishna, Rama and Vishnu are described as of dark
complexion (syam-mukha). In fact, the names of gods like Mahakala (Shiva),
Kali (Parvati), Krishna and Rama literally mean "dark" or "black."

The idea of a racial gradient between brahmin to untouchable
was suggested by Risley, but subsequently refuted by Indian
anthropologists. There is no clear evidence of a relationship between
caste and race. Brahmins and other upper castes might have ligher
complexions because they stay indoors a lot. Martial castes like the
Rajputs would be darker, but still high caste. The main color gradient
is geographical not caste-related. Brahmins tend to be of the same race
as other people of their region. In fact, a recent genetic study showed
Iyer brahmins were farther away from North Indian brahmins than many lower
castes in the same population.

Paul Kekai Manansala