Moving Towards South Asian Confederation


Note: Whenever we talk about divisive issues in South Asia, the Aryan versus Non-Aryan conflict takes a centre-stage. The ‘conflict’ is hypothetical and conjectural and yet has succeeded in inspiring and maintaining two entirely different and distinct political movements in contemporary India that act directly and decisively on the electoral mind-set, influencing the composition of the Central government and certain State governments:

  1. The Aryan-Dravidian conflict forwarded by motivated British academicians stimulated the formation of ‘Dravidian’ political parties in Southern India who began to look at North Indian political parties of the Hindi speaking belt with suspicion as Hindi was a derivative of Sanskrit, the language of the Aryans. The ramifications were two-fold. Firstly, there were severe anti-Hindi agitations bordering to riots. Secondly, within the South Indian community itself, the Tamil Brahmins were alienated as they performed their worshipping rituals in Sanskrit and they were also considered to be descendents of migrant Aryans. Till today, the state government in Tamilnadu cannot be formed without overriding the Dravidian factor and the Central Government at New Delhi cannot be consolidated without accommodating the Dravidian interests. It is also interesting that other than the age-old Hindu-Muslim discord, the Dravidian conflict in India preceded other separatist conflicts like the North-Eastern conflicts, the Khalistani agitation, the Gorkhaland struggle.

  2. The Dalit-Brahminical divide is being in a way imposed on the downtrodden masses in North India by political interests which want to sustain the caste divide for electoral advantage .The phenomenon is contemporary but the justification used to sustain it is derived from the Aryan versus Non-Aryan hypothesis. The Dravidians have been replaced by the Dalits, a terminology used by Gandhi in a different context. The movement has been extraordinarily successful as in a way it seeks to compensate for the actual discriminations inflicted on the lower castes by the higher castes. It is a logical outcome of India’s inability to solve the age-old caste divide. The only danger is that instead of a synthetic movement, the overemphasis on the Aryan myth can deepen the fissure.

Self-Correcting movements

The resilience of the Indian cultural fabric is that it has the potentiality of self-correction. That is the magic of the Indian tradition. Ever since contemporary Indian historians have begun to question the legitimacy of the hypothesized Aryan-Dravidian conflict, certain self-correcting movements have started occurring. These movements are not logically related, not intentionally timed, not pragmatically motivated, but nevertheless phenomenally correlated. As of now, they appear scattered in space and time. May be, they can fall in place like pieces in a jig-saw puzzle in the Zeitgeist of History. Two such self-correcting movements are worth mentioning:

  1. Sri Aurobindo had started to probe if ancient Indian literature, including that of Southern India had traces of the Aryan-Dravidian conflict. He found none as cultural differences do not necessarily imply racial differences. Instead he found that his study of Tamil gave him the ‘clue to the very origins and structure of the ancient Sanskrit tongue’ (The Secret of the Veda, pg.  46 ) and the very keys with which he could unlock the hereto unexplained mysteries of the Vedas. Incidentally, his chosen abode where his ashram was established was in ancient times a seat of Veda-learning in South India and was called VedPuri. In the fitness of things, there has been a sudden efflorescence of interest, devotion, adoration, acceptance and acknowledgement of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in the imagination, consciousness and psyche of South India. It is as if the Divine itself has taken the onus for integrating the consciousness of the Indian psyche and resolving the artificially real Aryan-Dravidian conflict from a deeper, spiritual perspective.

  2. In North India when the caste politics reached its acme, the self-proclaimed messiah of the Dalits  ( a synonym for the oppressed lower castes) whose bastion was formed by spewing venom against the Brahminical (Aryan) tradition, suddenly for a change announced  formation of a government with the support of the higher castes. This gesture was received gracefully by all sections of the society. Ironically, there is doubt if the same gesture would be equally received if made by a ‘Brahminical’, upper caste politician. The wind of change was thus initiated within the system itself paving way for a future synthesis.


- By Dr. Soumitra Basu


© Powered by KolWeb