By D.D. Kosambi

A latest Marxist historian of South Asia offers a digest of historic Indian background.

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Extra resources for The Culture and Civilization of Ancient India in Historical Outline

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Statistical analysis of such Indian data as are known shows that the head measurements and face (nasal index) also change with the height. Linguistic research is even less fruitful for this stage. The dozen or so main languages and some 753 dialects of varying importance used in India are often grouped into three classes: (l) The Indo-Aryan group, in north and west: Panjabi, Hindi (including Rajasthan and Bihar varieties), Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Oriya; (2) Dravidian, in the south: Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kanarese, Tulu; (3) the 'Austro-Asiatic' group into which most primitive languages of India are quite arbitrarily thrust: Mundari, Orion, Santali, etc.

Finally, though the Dravidians are on the whole darker than the Aryanspeaking people, there is no chance of correlating language and race; the Brahuis are not of Dravidian race, so far as I am aware of the results of modern anthropology. This leaves us simply the instrument and relations of production, of which the former can be compared with prehistoric finds. There are no tribesmen left in India who make stone arrowheads, hand axes, or microliths for general use which could then have been compared to the prehistoric.

There was a long period of gradual decay before the end, but the actual termination was abrupt. At Mohenjo-daro, the city was set on fire, the inhabitants slaughtered, and occupation after the massacre was negligible. The corresponding evidence at Harappa is poor, because the top layers have been devastated. The material (mostly bricks) was taken away for modern structures, but to a far greater extent as the cheapest available railway ballast. With the evidence of a violent end, it became possible to interpret as reality the figurative old Sanskrit texts, where enemies are spoken of as having been ruthlessly smashed in battle, their treasures looted, and cities burnt down.

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