Aryans, Jews, Brahmins unmasks fictions about race, caste and origins and tells us how our fractured present consists of competing pasts.
Comparatist scholar Dorothy Figueira examines the works of European (Voltaire, Schlegel, Max Müller, Nietzsche) and Indian (Rammohan Roy, Dayananda Saraswati, Tilak, Vivekananda) thinkers who built an ideology of the Aryan out of mis-readings of “Aryan” texts, starting with the Veda. In both the East and the West, the search for “original” India became bound up with a search for a superior race living in an unchanging utopian past. Figueira then looks with hope to Phule and Ambedkar who subverted this ‘nationalist’ script in their portrait of the anti-Aryan.
As the Aryan myth is resuscitated today in the service of Hindu revival, this work of impeccable scholarship assumes urgency.