Re: Racism and ancient history

Dr. Doug (
30 Dec 1996 17:00:43 GMT

In <5a4bsh$> (Paul Kekai
Manansala) writes:
>In article <5a1bn1$>,
> (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
>>|> 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,
>>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
>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
>as other people of their region. In fact, a recent genetic study
>Iyer brahmins were farther away from North Indian brahmins than many
>castes in the same population.
>Paul Kekai Manansala

Well, this certainly muddies the picture of ancient racism in India, or
racism being a basis of the caste system. I guess I need to learn more
about Indian history!

Dr. Doug