Dr. Koenraad Elst's Response to Scroll Editor Regarding Aryan Debate

(Dr. Elst posted this in the forum. emphasis and highlighting is ours)
Dear friends,

the Aryan debate keeps on attracting silly politicos:


Herewith my reply:

"Dear Mrs./Mr. Editor,

 "While I don’t much mind an ignorant pen-pusher pontificating about the Aryan invasion debate, some concomitant modesty would at least be in order. Ridiculing any scepticism about the 19th-century Aryan invasion theory (AIT) merely shows that he is quite unaware of the state of the art.

"So he equates the rivalling Out-of-India Theory (OIT) with Flat Earth and Creationism. But it is very easy to find material evidence against both the latter, such as the fossil record. By contrast, your contributor is quite unable to muster any evidence against the OIT. Even Harvard professor and AIT champion Michael Witzel admits that no material evidence of Aryans moving into India has been found “yet”, i.e. after two centuries of being the official hypothesis sucking up all the sponsoring. So your correspondent thinks himself superior, successful where the greatest specialists have failed?

"A year ago I was participating in a Delhi conference on the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization. While there, I received an e-mail from one of the world’s foremost specialists on the linguistic aspect of Indo-European origins, HH Hock, all the way from the US. Predictably, he upheld the now-dominant invasion scenario and added that no one takes the Out-of-India Theory seriously today (though it was the dominant assumption from 1786 till ca. 1820). Among linguists, this is approximately true: Nicolas Kazanas, Shrikant Talageri and myself have been in splendid isolation in those circles. But then, linguists who can competently argue in favour of the AIT are hardly more numerous. As I have verified at several specialist conferences, most concerned linguists don’t work on the problem of the origins, which has an aura of obsoleteness, and blindly follow the dominant theory because it happens to be what their textbooks contained. Which is what non-linguists like the cited team from Auckland also do.

"However, while I read this e-mail, I was surrounded by the creamy layer of Indian archaeology. Each professor read his paper presenting the findings at a particular Harappan site where he was digging, and each of them reported a complete cultural continuity, no trace of an invasion. Sitting next to me was the dean of Indian archaeology, the nonagenarian professor BB Lal. When he was young,  he made his name by “proving” that the archaeologically attested Painted Grey Ware indicated the Aryans on their way into India. That “proof” is still cited till today in favour of the AIT, at least in India. But in reality, Lal himself has renounced that hypothesis decades ago, realizing that his posited link with Aryan invaders was itself based on a tacit acceptance of the omnipresent AIT. Today he emphasizes that there is no trace at all of any Aryan invasion.

"You choose to poison the debate by insinuating a Hitler reference into it. Suit yourself, but again it proves your ignorance, for Hitler was a zealous follower of the AIT. If the OIT has been associated with Hindutva (wrongly, for VD Savarkar, who launched this political concept, was an AIT believer), its alleged political use is at any rate only a trifle compared to the AIT. The OIT has been upheld mostly in one country for a few decades by a few scholars without any political power. By contrast, the AIT has been used politically for some 160 years by major state actors such as the British empire and Nazi Germany, and in India by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Ambedkarites (though BR Ambedkar himself emphatically rejected it), the Dravidianists, the missionaries and of course the secularists. If you don’t like the mixing of scholarship with politics, you should first of all  lambast the AIT, not the OIT.

"May Allah (or Whoever serves as God to you secularists) give you the wisdom to keep your mouth shut on topics you don’t know enough about.

"Yours sincerely,

"Dr. Koenraad Elst"

Research on Meditation's Effects on the Brain

The Meditative Mind: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of MRI Studies

Comments by Rajiv Malhotra in the forum

This is just one such article analyzing modern research. Greater meditation leading to greater usages. Earlier in an interview when I said most of the brain of non-meditators is unused, that is not exactly true. What is true is that the manner and extent to which they use it is very limited. It is meditation that lights up or wakes up its fuller potential - sort of like software enhancing the utilization and capability more fully.

My concern is that such researchers seldom if ever mention any Hindu technique, and either remain silent or refer to it as Buddhist. This is not true. I have urged Dr HR Nagendra of SVYASA to always explain the specific Hindu texts and lineages being used in training the meditators.

Western labs are taking the lead in this area for the past 30 years. Maharishi's group pioneered this area, but gradually the western institutions have taken over.

Expansion of brain utilization with meditation:

I believe there are four levels of expansion, of which the first three are acknowledged by western research:

  1. Neuron networks become more connected: The same set of neurons can get connected in more complex ways corresponding to higher levels of meditation.
  2. Epigenetics: Genes have switches that can be set/reset leading to change in functions. So even without genetic changes there are changes in capability. This is a relatively recent area of research.
  3. Quantum biology: Application of quantum physics to biological systems. This is nascent and little has been done explaining the role of meditation - Deepak Chopra's first famous book was on this principle (which he borrowed from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi), but it has not been empirically researched well.
  4. What we may think of as subtler than quantum level. Science has not yet acknowledged this.
The questions we must ask:
  1. What are the total number of possible states a brain can have? It is of course humongous, and the number gets even bigger when we move from 1 to 2 to 3 above.
  2. What portion of these state are ordinary humans presently utilizing? 
  3. It is a tiny portion. When I said that we use a small portion of our brain, it is in this sense. 
Some popular articles say we use all our brains today. But their criteria is that when a neural is fired it is being "used". However, each of my points 1, 2, 3 above indicates a deeper concept of usage than this. Hence we are talking about different things. I maintain my earlier statement about humans using a small portion only - think of portion of possible states.
(in response to a follow up question)
  • How do you prove your statement that "We cannot measure spiritual growth with physical machines." How can you be sure there are no physical changes which could serve as correlates that can be measured? To prove your view, you would have to get a sample of enlightened persons, and measure their physical parameters to declare that there is nothing unusual.
  • In fact the opposite is true. Advanced yogis/meditators DO experience changes that have been measured, such as in their: breathing, skin tension, pulse, fMRI, etc. This is nothing new I am reporting. Such experiments were done with Swami Rama, and dozens of others. SVYASA is doing such experiments as well.
  • Spiritual growth is based on specific practices, and these practices also produce effects on the body that are measurable. 
  • I find your attitude is silly. It is emotionally based and claiming some other-worldly aura of being "beyond matter". It has led to the west taking control over scientific measurements.
  • Just think: If meditation produces no measurable change, then how does meditation change the body to cure diabetes, obesity, heat disease, and so many things. How can you on the one have be proud to proclaim health benefits of these practices, and on the other hand say that there are no measurable changes.
  • Buddhists have led Hindus in the past 25 years in having their states of consciousness correlated with physical states. Buddhists have mapped the advanced practitioners' consciousness states (as described by the practitioner) with physical correlates. There are 100s of research publications over the past 25 years.