March 30, 2009

Do Indians just like memorizing stuff?

Here's a curious op-ed by Ashok Mitra in the Calcutta Telegraph that makes me fear I missed the point of "Slumdog Millionaire." I assumed that "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" was just a passing fancy in India like it was in America. But, I should have noticed by the fanaticism with which Indians in America approach things like spelling bees that something deeper was going on.
Parlous times, unless well-versed in the culture built around ‘quiz’ programmes, one would hardly be considered civilized. In one such programme, participants are grilled on their knowledge of the exact length of La Manche, otherwise known as the English Channel: is it 563 or 564 or 565 kilometres? Another ‘quiz’ wants participants to pick the number of children Queen Victoria bore: six, eleven, or whatever. Yet another demands to know whether the Gettysburg Address was delivered on March 25, 1865 or on February 28, 1860 or on November 1, 1863.

A multiple choice test on the date of the Gettysburg Address is reasonable because you can work it out from the concurrent date of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Fall of Vicksburg, which famously hit the newspapers on July 4, 1863. Of course, that's a reasonable question for Americans, not for Indians.

A multiple choice test on whether the English Channel is 563, 564, or 565 km long is just stupid for everybody.

Not just in India, but over the entire subcontinent too, a child’s intellectual prowess is being judged by the criterion of his or her ability to cope with frivolities of this nature. How does it matter to the realities of living for children in these former colonial countries if the length of the English Channel is a kilometre more or a kilometre less, or whether the Gettysburg Address was delivered on this particular date in the 1860s? To be well-informed on the number of children that prim woman, Queen Victoria, gave birth to is surely not a matter of life and death, either, for South Asian children circa the first decade of the 21st century. It could not, but it is being made out that it is. A great colonial haze hovers over the post-colonial sky. ...

A child’s mind can absorb only so much of information; ... In the given social framework, the vacuity of mind amongst the rich influences the roster of daily existence of children belonging to lower echelons. Once, within their circle, it is a matter of pride for sons and daughters of affluent households to know the precise length of La Manche, it becomes essential for children from financially far worse off families too to be equipped with the same load of junk; otherwise they will not be able to survive the competition.

The grand coalition of the creamy layer at home and the diaspora emerged as determinants of Indian culture and civilization. It is terribly important in the context of this nascent, but assertive, cultural milieu that the members of the new generation do not mess up the dates of earthshaking events in the United States of America and Europe.


Okay, but maybe Indians just like memorizing stuff. Maybe they're just good at it ... Remember how well Indian children did on that Wechsler Digit Span test of working memory? You don't? Well, then you probably aren't Indian.

But if Indians love historical trivia so much, how come they didn't write any down when it was happening to them? The Chinese, in contrast, kept records on everything. We know that the Crab Nebula was a supernova that became visible on Earth on July 4, 1054 because Chinese bureaucrats wrote down the exact date they first saw it. One reason Indians ask each other questions about Western historical trivia is because Indian history is so vague. Nobody bothered to write down what had just happened, so Indian history is hard to use as trivia questions, which need precise answers.

I mean, here's a paragraph from Wikipedia on the origin of the Gupta Empire:
The origins of the Guptas are shrouded in obscurity. The Chinese traveler Yijing(see also Xuanzang) provides the first evidence of the Gupta kingdom in Magadha. He came to north India in 672 CE and heard of Maharaja Sri-Gupta, who built a temple for Chinese pilgrims near Mrigasikhavana who lost their lives in epic battle . I-tsing gives the date for this event merely as '500 years before'. This does not match with other sources and hence we can assume that I-tsing's computation was a mere guess. Very recently a few scholars have linked Guptas with rulers mentioned in Bhagwatam; however, these things are largely disputed and the idea seems politically motivated and to promote the sale of books written and promoted by some entities.[1]

What the hell kind of trivia questions can you make up out of that? "What year did that Chinese guy visit India who first heard of something or other having to do with the Gupta Empire that was built "500 years before"?"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can't really blame them...

Have you ever been to India? It's so hot and humid you really just don't want to do jack. Even just sitting around doing nothing is hard......napping in that weather is a pain in the ass.....

anon-2 said...

China cool climate write things down. India hot climate so oral tradition larger plus paper gets destroyed in hot climate

Anonymous said...

Brahmins have been getting status and mates for memorizing ridiculous quantities of religious text for a long time.

Anonymous said...

There are religiously-based memorization contests. You see similar things in other religions, but the social importance, scale, endogamous castes, and time period involved combine to create a uniquely conducive environment in India for enhanced memory in certain castes, for both cultural and genetic reasons.

Ross said...

Isn't the world memory champion Indian, Rajan's the first name but ironically I've forggoten his surname.

rob said...

Maybe the Brahmins are a bit autistic savant. Selection for memorizing things, and arranged marriages keeping people with low interpersonal skills from strongly selected against.

dorance said...

Well, haven't you spoken of the endless variety of peoples who populate India? The triumphs of one group might be something the following group would prefer not to dwell upon, or perhaps would not understand totally. Whereas in China there was a continuous dominance of the Han people, and a bureaucratic structure that crystalized early on. Yes, I know Manchus ruled in the last couple centuries, but there weren't waves upon waves of "invaders" and colonizers changing their society every hundred years.
Also, the climate.

dearieme said...

The first people to take an interest in Indian history seem to have been the more scholarly-inclined of the British employees of the East India Company. They found it bloody hot and humid too.

TH said...

I've read that it's indeed extremely difficult to build a chronology of Indian history. While Indians have long had a literary culture, and sophisticated enough calendars, they have not kept record of what happened and when. I wonder if the reason is religious, e.g. circular vs. linear concept of time. Foreign travellers are a main source for Indian chronology.

malcolm said...

rote learning has been de-emphasized in the west but 'the art of memory' is quite important - the book 'The Brain That Changes Itself ' pointed out that ADD is 'cured' more effectively by having a child a. practice learning a new alphabet b. memorize long poems - two things that were jettisoned in 1960s educational 'reform' - (penmenship used to be heavily stressed)

nsam said...

All these quizzes are in entertainment shows and not part of education or incorporated in any consequential evaluations. A number of people apparently have nothing better to do (than memorize trivia); so it must be intrinsically rewarding for participants. Thankfully the spelling/geography bee phenomena remain American pursuits.

rob: I think you may have something here as I see autistic/aspergy types (high functioning) in males; one built an elaborate toy metropolis over a few years and another memorized a railway timetable book (as children). The arranged marriage concept holds for other groups as well so its one among many factors.

Sideways said...

The really stupid thing about the English channel question is that it doesn't have a correct answer. The ends are arbitrarily defined and the length differs according to your source.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of a bit of satire in Satyajit Ray's film, The Middleman.

A new university graduate out in a poor job market in Calcutta submits to a montage of questions from interviewers, culminating with the silliness of:

"What is the weight of the moon?"

Anonymous said...

"how come they didn't write any down when it was happening to them? "

Several reasons...

1) Only Brahmins, and some Kshatriyas were allowed to be literate under Hindus. And only Muslim men of a certain peerage became literate under Muslim kings.

India still has very low levels of basic literacy. see Literacy in India.


2) The brahmins (India's only literate class, prior to the arrival of muslims) disliked writing. Memorization was sacred.

They invented several different techniques to work with large texts without writing. Some of the stuff they managed to come up with without writing is pretty
impressive.

3) The brahmi script wasn't invented till around 3rd century BC and its earlist uses were for writing Prakrit (used by the lower castes, as opposed to highly formalized Sanskrit) by the Buddhist king Asoka.

India may have had a writing system prior to that but it didn't survive the fall of the Indus Valley civilization.

himali said...

Do you think a Buddha could arise in a culture like China. No! India was destroyed by Islam and the little of what is good left there has been preserved by Hindus. India's creative culture stops at 1000 AD. when Islam enters the scene--for the next 1000 years you have nothing but architecture like the Taj Mahal and some love poetry in a degenerate Muslim court.
Also if you know a bit of Indian hisotry you would realize the zeneiths of Indian philosophy mostly origianted from the cold regions--Kashmir, Panjab and even Sanskrit from present day Afghanistan which has a different ethnic make up after being razed by Turkish warlords such that not a trace of the former Buddhist Hindu culture survives. The purest Sankkrit was spoken in Gandahar, and Panini the world's first grammarian was born there. Most of Sanskrit literature originates from the cold regions.
Sanskrit is created such that a great deal can be recited--this is perhaps why Indians are good at memorizing.

himali said...

Also most of the Sanskrit poetry was recited--imagine the memory for that!
Indians have become copy cats now like the Chinese as most of what was beautiful and great in India was destroyed by Islam--it has not come out of the dark ages, brought in by Isalm....India's poverty starts with Islam...

himali said...

Nothing to do with cool and hot climate--Imagine if millions of the noblest people are continually slaughtered during invasions by Turkish Afghan Muslim barbarians who destroyed everything that came in their way to build a mosque on top--its a wonder Hindus have any culture left--India's intellectual decay begins with the arrival of Islam....millions of noble Indians were slaughtered...how can a continue to be creative after that? It is a wonder anything good still comes out of India...

Jesuit Eater said...

"Imagine if millions of the noblest people are continually slaughtered during invasions by...barbarians who destroyed everything that came in their way...its a wonder Hindus have any culture left--India's intellectual decay begins with the arrival of Islam....millions of noble Indians were slaughtered...how can a [culture] continue to be creative after that? It is a wonder anything good still comes out of India."

That's what I said about modern Russia on another post. It's also what I say about the West in general, after what we've gone through.

As far as the mentioned literacy of India, I remember picking up a bizarre jokebook somewhere over there, written by Khushwant Singh. It'd been declared a nationwide bestseller because it'd sold 50,000 copies in the nation of 1 billion +. In comparison, 250 years ago, "Candide" sold roughly 20,000 copies in its first month alone.

This isn't meant as some mindless mockery of India. The literate France ultimately drove itself into oblivion, and SWPL Americans will be reading NPR-recommended books as they're hurled into the ocean en masse. On the other hand, I'll gamble that Indians will keep on keeping on.

Anonymous said...

Steve, historically instead of writing things down Indians memorized them. Based on the type of language used and the type of society described in the Rig Vedas, modern historians think that they were composed roughly 3,500 years ago. For most of these 3,500 years the Rig Vedas were passed down without the help of writing. Actually, most classical Indian literature was preserved not through writing but through memorization. They memorized religious, philosophical and linguistics texts, but for some reason not historical ones.

I see this as yet another example of humanity's genetic diversity. I have no idea why the ability and willingness to memorize things is overdeveloped in some Indian groups. Maybe it was a side-effect of some unrelated genetic adaptation? Maybe in India social status became at some point rigidly linked to being able to memorize stuff, leading to selection for this trait at the top. To take another example, I'm sure that the Chinese civil service exam system had some effect on the genetics of the Chinese elite - how could it not have? It was active for so many centuries.

Many questions of this sort about many ethnic groups are difficult to answer even if one is not wearing PC blinders. For example, why are northern Italians so good at creating beautiful things? Because the nature of northern Italy is so beautiful? I don't think that cuts it - lots of other places both in and outside of Europe are scenic.

What's the deal with the French and sensuality of all sorts?

It's so sad to think that most of this diversity will probably be destroyed soon. We don't even know where much of it comes from.

Anonymous said...

"Nothing to do with cool and hot climate--Imagine if millions of the noblest people are continually slaughtered during invasions by Turkish Afghan Muslim barbarians who destroyed everything that came in their way to build a mosque on top--its a wonder Hindus have any culture left"

So in this particular clash of civilizations, the Muslims (at least in this manifestation) won and the Hindus lost. Basically, the strictly hierarchical Hindu society was no match for Islam.

In fact throughout all of recorded history no Hindu entity has conquer Muslim lands. It only took a minuscule number of Englishmen to subjugate all of Hindu India for a over a century. Is there something about Hindus which make them historical victims?

Anonymous said...

Brahmins have been getting status and mates for memorizing ridiculous quantities of religious text for a long time.

Sounds like Jews, doesn't it?

Trampolino said...

Sailer, you miss the point entirely. You are bogged down in window dressing. Filter out the distractions and stay on point.

The point is that we must import massive numbers of Indian tech workers in order to compete on the world stage.

According to Bill Gates (whom I trust implicitly) we need to essentially replace our entire tech work force with superior Indian tech workers ASAP or we will be utterly crushed by forces beyond our control. We will be totally crushed and devastated and rendered impotent unless we do this RIGHT NOW.

It's that simple. Stay on point. You're mucking up the message.

PS Also we need to replace any remaining "Americanist" intelligentsia with Jewish intellectuals entirely. Kissinger, Foxman, Summers, Greenspan, Gould, Jared Diamond, Neil Diamond, Howard Stern, Crazy Eddie. There is no other way to compete on the world stage. All of that "Classic American (WASPY gentile) intellectualism is like horse & buggy travel on today's Asiatic information superhighway.

Enough said.

kudzu bob said...

Re “Isn't the world memory champion Indian, Rajan's the first name but ironically I've forggoten his surname”:

Funny you should mention Rajan. That affable man found fame—or perhaps it found him—by memorizing Pi out to an amazingly pointless number of decimal places, and now lives and teaches in the small southern university town where I write this post. While I do not know Rajan especially well, we have had a few chats as pleasant as they were brief. During our second encounter I did a poor job of hiding my amusement when he couldn’t remember my name, but he took it well.

silver said...

One reason Indians ask each other questions about Western historical trivia is because Indian history is so vague.

These simplistic reductionisms can be fun to toss around, and I suppose in front of the right audience they can make you sound really profound, but please tell me you don't actually believe that.

You missed a good opportunity to ponder just why Indians' (and probably other 3rd worlders) trivia comps are so heavily laden (if indeed they are) with questions about western trivia.

Chandragupta Maurya said...

"Basically, the strictly hierarchical Hindu society was no match for Islam. In fact throughout all of recorded history no Hindu entity has conquer Muslim lands. It only took a minuscule number of Englishmen to subjugate all of Hindu India for a over a century. Is there something about Hindus which make them historical victims?"


The Muslims who conquered India were Turks, and this conquest has to be seen in the context of the overall Turko/Mongol expansion. In the space of a few centuries the Turks and their cousins the Mongols conquered almost all of Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia, West Asia, North Africa, Russia, and large chunks of Europe. It might be easier to list the coutries they did NOT conquer. Western Europe was saved only because the Mongol army in Central Europe got word from Mongolia that the Khan had died, so they returned home to participate in choosing the new Khan. (They had already slaughtered the German army at that point, and nothing substantial stood between them and the rest of the West. It really was a close call.)

Not all of these groups of Turks/Mongols were Muslims. They were originally shamanists, and some of them acquired Islam from the Islamic peoples that they conquered. Then, with the zeal of new converts, they wanted to spread their new faith.

The Turkish military success derived not from their being Mulims but from their being Turks. Eventually they mixed genetically with their subject peoples, and their military abilities declined.

In India, as the Mughal Empire disintegrated, various Hindu Rajputs and Jats began to assert themselves, some even defeating remnants of the Turks and conquering some Muslim areas in the Northwest. They were in turn subjugated by the British.

The British succeeded by playing small local rulers against each other. The Indians were fragmented into many tiny states, and at that time did not think of themselves as a nation.

In recent decades, India has defeated Pakistan several times. India could easily conquer Pakistan, but they don't want it. It would be a situation like Iraq, only bigger and worse.

So, it is not true that Muslims always win and Hindus always lose.

Anonymous said...

You missed a good opportunity to ponder just why Indians' (and probably other 3rd worlders) trivia comps are so heavily laden (if indeed they are) with questions about western trivia.

And that reason would be? Oppressive colonialism, perhaps? Or the fact that much of their educational system was built by the blue-eyed devils? What? Perhaps even the fact that so many graduates move on to Western countries for jobs?

"We" haven't been running their countries or their schools for at least a few decades now.

Anonymous said...

PS Also we need to replace any remaining "Americanist" intelligentsia with Jewish intellectuals entirely. Kissinger, Foxman, Summers, Greenspan, Gould, Jared Diamond, Neil Diamond, Howard Stern, Crazy Eddie.

Don't forget Vince Shlomi!

Svigor said...

Eventually they mixed genetically with their subject peoples, and their military abilities declined.

Heh, I know you've only implied, not stated, but might want to disentangle culture here. The Mongols settled down and absorbed the culture of the sedentary peoples they conquered, not just their genes. A huge part of Mongol success was their nomadic existence, which put them in a totally different class than their enemies when it came to warfare, particularly mobile warfare of the kind that so confounded their enemies.

Svigor said...

It really was a close call

Maybe. Culture, obviously, was a bigger deal in those days. It took generations to cross ethnic boundaries, and then only in close contact. See, AFAICT, the Europeans just didn't get it vis-a-vis the Mongols. They didn't understand the vastness of the threat. Particularly in western Europe. Again, particularly in western Europe, they didn't get how unsuited their strategy, tactics, and military culture were to fighting the Mongols.

But the supply lines would've been too long for the Mongols. Had they conquered the rest of Europe (far from a given), they would've been ousted as soon as the natives figured out how their tactics worked - a generation, maybe two.

But, let's be fair here. It was a failing of Mongol culture that they had to turn around and go home just because some wrinkled old dwarf kicked the bucket.

ERM said...

Greek aristocratic education consisted heavily of memorizing Homer, and the Romans continued this, throwing in the Aeneid as well. That's a long ass litany of poetry to get straight. Many Muslims memorize the Koran, but this is rather less impressive, even if it would be totally beyond me.

himali said...

So in this particular clash of civilizations, the Muslims (at least in this manifestation) won and the Hindus lost. Basically, the strictly hierarchical Hindu society was no match for Islam.

In fact throughout all of recorded history no Hindu entity has conquer Muslim lands. It only took a minuscule number of Englishmen to subjugate all of Hindu India for a over a century. Is there something about Hindus which make them historical victims?

Hindus do not see themselves as victims but that barbarians caused havoc in the country for many centuries. Who were the Muslims that entered India? A bunch of Trukish tribals intent on loot and plunder. Hindus were unprepared--this is what civilization can do to you--they had taken up pacific religions such as Buddhism and Jainism--you know the Buddhists refused to fight due to their principles of non-violence and what became of them. Will Durant writes of the invasions in 1935 when one did not have to be PC about Islam...Why are Muslims in India the most backward if they once ruled? Culture perhaps?

The Mohammedan Conquest of India is probably the bloodiest story in history. It is a discouraging tale, for its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace may at any time be overthrown by barbarians invading from without or multiplying within. The Hindus had allowed their strength to be wasted in internal division and war; they had adopted religions like Buddhims and Jainism, which unnerved them for the tasks of life; they had failed to organize their forces for the protection of their frontiers and their capitals, their wealth and their freedom, from the hordes of Scythians, Huns, Afghans and Turks hovering about India's boundaries and waiting for national weakness to let them in. For four hundred years (600-1000 A.D.) India invited Conquest; and at last it came.

The first Moslem attack was a passing raid upon Multan, in the western Punjab (664 A.D.). Similar raids occurred at the convenience of the invaders during the next
three centuries, with the result that the Moslems established themselves in the Indus valley about the same time that their Arab co-religionists in the West were fighting the battle of Tours (732 A.D.) for the mastery of Europe. But the real Moslem conquest of India did not come till the turn of the first millenium after Christ.

In the year 997 a Turkish chieftan by the name of Mahmud became of Sultan of the little state of Ghazni, in eastern Afghanistan. Mahmud knew that his throne was
young and poor, and saw that India, across the border, was old and rich; the conclusion was obvious. Pretending a holy zeal for destroying Hindu idolatry, he swept across the frontier with a force inspired by a pious aspiration for booty. He met the unprepared Hindus at Bhimnagar, slaughtered them, pillaged their cities, destroyed their temples, and carried away the accumulated treasures of centuries. . . . . Each winter Mahmud descended into India, filled his treasure chest with spoils, and amused his men with full freedom to pillage and kill; each spring he returned to his capital richer than before. At Mathura (on the Jumna) he took from the temple its statues of gold encrusted with precious stones, and emptied its coffers of a vast quantity of gold, silver and jewelry; he expressed his admiration for the architecture of the great shrine, judged that its duplication would cost one hundred million dinars and the labor of 200 years, and then ordered it to be soaked with naptha and burnt to the ground. Six years later he sacked another opulent city of northern India, Somnath, killed all its 50,000 inhabitants, and dragged its wealth to Ghazni. In the end he became, perhaps, the richest king that history has ever known. Sometimes he spared the population of the ravaged cities, and took them home to be sold as slaves; but so great was the number of such captives that after some years no one could be found to offer more than a few shillings for a slave. Before every important engagement Mahmud knelt in prayer, and asked the blessing of God upon his arms. He reigned for a third of a century; and when he died, full of years and honors, Moslem historians ranked him as the greatest monarch of his time and one of the greatest sovereigns of any age.

Seeing the canonization that success had brought to this magnificent thief, other Moslem rulers profited by his example, though none succeeded in bettering his instruction. In 1186 the Ghuri, a Turkish tribe of Afghanistan, invaded India, captured the city of Delhi, destroyed its temples, confiscated its wealth, and settled down in its palaces to establish the Sultanate of Delhi - - - an alien despotism fastened upon northern India for three centuries, and checked only by assassination and revolt. The first of these bloody sultans, Kutb-d Din Aibak, was a normal specimen of his kind - fanatical, ferocious and merciless. His gifts, as the Mohammedan historian tells us, "were bestowed by hundreds of thousands, and his slaughters likewise were by hundreds of thousands." [citation omitted.] In one victory of this warrior . . . . "50,000 men came under the collar of slavery, and the plain became black as pitch with Hindus." [citation omitted]. Another sultan, Balban, punished rebels and brigands by casting them under the feet of elephants, or removing their skins, stuffing these with straw and hanging them from the gates of Delhi.
Will Durant, "Our Oriental Heritage," pp. 459-461, 1935

himali said...

A Serb has written a book --brave man--and he includes a bit about why India fell to Islam..and it's not PC

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.aspx?GUID={401C6222-3668-4E4B-9824-D85A9D2B4B6A}

The lesson to be learned: barbarians can invade from without and multiply from within...
The fact that there are Hindu nationalists in India means that the are waking up to the whitewashing of their history...
And as to your question of why India fell to the British the answer is that India has already been largely runied by the time the British came--

In fact throughout all of recorded history no Hindu entity has conquer Muslim lands. It only took a minuscule number of Englishmen to subjugate all of Hindu India for a over a century. Is there something about Hindus which make them historical victims?

Actually its the Muslims who consider themselves victimized everywhere--Hindus want to build their country...and do not consider themselves victims, but they do not want the history of Islam whitewashed by Marxist historians.

himali said...

That's what I said about modern Russia on another post. It's also what I say about the West in general, after what we've gone through.

Yes. The Russians destroyed their aristocracy and their culture as well in the process...now they are realizing this considering that they want the Russians in Argentina to move back....

himali said...

Brahmins have been getting status and mates for memorizing ridiculous quantities of religious text for a long time.

Sounds like Jews, doesn't it?

No it doen't. I cannot see how you can compare Brahmins to Jews: Brahmins have crated a civilization and their religion is the polar opposite of the semitic myths you find in the Old Testament.
What is really Jewish is the Old Testament. The reast they picked up from Europeans when they migrated to Europe. The idea that somehow Jews are smarter than the rest is a fairly recent misconception--they can be smart but are not necessarily smarter than the people's whose country they reside in everywhere.
Moreover they have a history of having to survive in hostile environments and have adapted to survival in hostile places which probably increases intelligence...

himali said...

All of that "Classic American (WASPY gentile) intellectualism is like horse & buggy travel on today's Asiatic information superhighway.

Oh yeah? Just like how the classic British intellectualism has lead to giving sharia law to Muslims, largely because they can draw Arba money into their banks and facilitate Islamic finance. The WASPY gentiles do seem to love $$$--does not matter how you get it into your country----

rob said...

The arranged marriage concept holds for other groups as well so its one among many factors.

Arranged marriage must reduce the sexual selection against autistic personality types.

Unlike other populations plausibly selected strongly for intelligence, the Brahmin caste was not under much pressure to deal with reality and apply their abilities to actual problems. Like say, calculating interest rates or making shelters against the cold and snow. Once social status came partly from the ability to remember large amounts of abstract information, runaway selection could occur.

I wouldn't be surprised if many Brahmins are autistic or schizophrenic compared to other castes.

Anonymous said...

The hindu religious texts have to be chanted accurately, and in the absence of a perfectly phonetic script till about 400 BC, it was essential that the religious texts be memorised

The Mahabharata is over 100,000 verses long and is much longer than the Iliad and the Odyssey combined
and was verbally transmitted for several thousand years

Hinduism has a circular view of time and has few chronicles
The earliest chroniclers started with buddhism
By 1200AD, the muslim had exterminated the buddhists and buddhist chroniclers also died
Post 1000AD, there were plenty of muslim chroniclers who documented their crimes. However they only documented islamic victories and not islamic defeats, which led to the hindu-sikh reconquista, post 1700, being a surprise


Regarding Ashok Mitra, he is a senior member of the CPI-M
communist party of India Marxist
( pro-china splinter )
and like his south asian commie cousins in the US, tries to defecate on Indian / hindu achievements

Regarding the muslim invasions
Afganistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh were heavily buddhist and being non-violent capitulated quickly
The Hindu problem was failing to indulge in islamic methods ( civilian genocide ) as reciprocity
Meaning that hindus had to win every battle, whereas the muslims just had to win once

Europe did not roll back islam until 1683
The Hindu-Sikh reconquista started around 1700, and since 1700, muslims have lost 95% of the battles
The british in the 19th century had to defeat the hindu marathas to capture Delhi
The sikhs were ruling pakistan and Afghanistan until toppled by the british
The only ex-empire troops that the british still hire as mercenaries
are hindu nepalese gurkhas

Anonymous said...

Anon said
Brahmins have been getting status and mates for memorizing ridiculous quantities of religious text for a long time.
--
Brahmins can only get brahmin mates
so they compete against other brahmin males, and each generation
the memory capacity increases
--

rob said
--
arranged marriages keeping people with low interpersonal skills from strongly selected against.
--

All castes have arranged marriages
and dont need interpersonal skills
All you need is a reasonable looking photo, a good salary
and you can find marriagable women from your caste at Shaadi.com and other such sites

--

Anon said

--
Only Brahmins, and some Kshatriyas were allowed to be literate under Hindus.
--

Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas ( merchants ) were sanskrit literate and this was 20% of the population

In addition, brahmins have historically offered kshatriya status to any shudra caste and even tribal groups willing to fight the muslims
At present 70% of the Indian maharajas have a Shudra background

In 1947, the literacy rate in areas under direct british rule was 6% and under indirect british rule ( under maharajas ) was 11%

Anonymous said...

Replying to Steve Sailer on Chinese astronomy and Indian lack
--
The current chinese calendar is based on Indian mathematicians calculations using planet movements

--

Here is Victor J. Katz in A History of Mathematics, second edition, page 196:

"The Chinese emperors, like rulers elsewhere, had always been interested in problems of the calendar, that is, in predicting various celestial events such as eclipses. Unfortunately, Chinese astronomers were not very successful in predicting eclipses because they did not fully understand the motions of the sun and moon. Indian astronomers, because of Greek influence in the creation of a geometrical model, were more successful. Thus in the eighth century, when Buddhism was strong in both India and China and there were many reciprocal visits of Buddhist monks, the Chinese emperors of the Tang dynasty brought in Indian scholars as well to provide a new expertise…
--

Wiki
The table of sines by the Indian mathematician, Aryabhata, were translated into the Chinese mathematical book of the Kaiyuan Zhanjing, compiled in 718 AD during the Tang Dynasty.
--
Wiki
Indian astronomy

Indian astronomy reached China with the expansion of Buddhism during the Later Han dynasty (25–220 CE). Further translation of Indian works on astronomy was completed in China by the Three Kingdoms era (220–265 CE). However, the most detailed incorporation of Indian astronomy occurred only during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when a number of Chinese scholars—such as Yi Xing— were versed both in Indian and Chinese astronomy. A system of Indian astronomy was recorded in China as Jiuzhi-li (718 CE), the author of which was an Indian by the name of Qutan Xida—a translation of Devanagari Gotama Siddha—the director of the Tang dynasty's national astronomical observatory.[10]

The astronomical table of sines by the Indian astronomer and mathematician, Aryabhata, were translated into the Chinese astronomical and mathematical book of the Treatise on Astrology of the Kaiyuan Era (Kaiyuan Zhanjing), compiled in 718 AD during the Tang Dynasty.[4] The Kaiyuan Zhanjing was compiled by Gautama Siddha, an astronomer and astrologer born in Chang'an, and whose family was originally from India. He was also notable for his translation of the Navagraha calendar into Chinese.

Rohan Swee said...

It wasn't so long ago that Westerners, even in conditions of high literacy, also valued memorization. There are people still living, for example, who amassed large stores of poetry as a matter of course in garden-variety public schools. Training in mnemonic techniques wasn't unusual. I suspect our current indifference to "filling the wells of memory" in youth, even to the destructive point of slighting times-table memorization, is the anomaly. We probably notice Indians going in for feats of memory because they're often doing it in English.

Trampolino: According to Bill Gates (whom I trust implicitly) we need to essentially replace our entire tech work force with superior Indian tech workers ASAP or we will be utterly crushed by forces beyond our control. We will be totally crushed and devastated and rendered impotent unless we do this RIGHT NOW.

Ah, come on, Trampolino. I'm sure Billy is cool with Chinese, too, and some Eastern Europeans. But your basic point is sound. If we don't get on the ball and finish clearing out all the "old American" deadwood from our universities and corporations, "we" can't possibly compete. (Pay no attention to the fact that this proprietary usage of "we" does not encompass any concept of "you" that you might recognize.)

James Kabala said...

Steve's premise is really just a cheap joke that isn't backed up by any facts. I don't know much about the history of India either, but I can tell the rest of the Gupta Empire article is full of specific dates and concrete facts. Here is just a sample:

"Ghatotkacha (c. AD 280–319), had a son named Chandra Gupta.... In a breakthrough deal, Chandra Gupta was married to Kumardevi, a Lichchhavi princess; the main power in Magadha.... [Chandra Gupta] established a realm stretching from the Ganga River (Ganges River) to Prayaga (modern-day Allahabad) by 321....

Samudragupta, succeeded his father in AD 335, and ruled for about 45 years, till his death in AD 380. He took the kingdoms of Shichchhatra and Padmavati early in his reign.... By his death in 380, he had incorporated over twenty kingdoms into his realm; his rule extended from the Himalayas to the river Narmada and from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna.... He performed Ashwamedha yajna (horse sacrifice) to underline the importance of his conquest. The stone replica of the sacrificial horse, then prepared, is in the Lucknow Museum. The Samudragupta Prashasti INSCRIBED [my emphasis] on the Ashokan Pillar, now in Akbar’s Fort at Allahabad, is an authentic record of his exploits and his sway over most of the continent."

There's surely as much fodder for trivia questions there as in any equivalent two Wikipedia paragraphs on European history, and it goes on in that vein for several paragraphs more. If one goes far back enough, any country's history becomes vague.(And I think the "672 CE" (i.e., A.D." must be a misprint, since the whole history of the dynasty is before that year. If it meant 672 B.C., Greece and Rome are still enshrouded in legend at that point.)

nsam said...

@rob
--
I wouldn't be surprised if many Brahmins are autistic or schizophrenic compared to other castes.
--

It seems almost a given that someone is going to document this, sooner or later. The best group to examine this (IMO) would be the tamilian brahmins. They have lived in a reasonably stable environment for the last 1000 years and informally I am aware about the (high) incidence of people from both disease categories (and many others who are high functioning).

himali said...

And that reason would be? Oppressive colonialism, perhaps? Or the fact that much of their educational system was built by the blue-eyed devils? What? Perhaps even the fact that so many graduates move on to Western countries for jobs?

"We" haven't been running their countries or their schools for at least a few decades now.

There are such whiners in India--but they happen to be Commies, Christians, Muslims and deluded Hindus who think they are liberal. The rest don't care to whine and want to move forward. So take your preaching to them.

rec1man said...

rob said
Unlike other populations plausibly selected strongly for intelligence, the Brahmin caste was not under much pressure to deal with reality and apply their abilities to actual problems. Like say, calculating interest rates
---

90% of Indian mathematicians are / were brahmins

The vaishyas ( merchants ) did compound interest since they were money lenders ( they have replaced the jews in the Antwerp diamond trade )

brahmin math went far beyond mere compound interest
read the wiki article on Indian mathematics

The 'arabic' numerals you use every day are hindu numerals

A lot of indian math was mental math oriented. Google up 'vedic math' to see the indian method of doing 3 digit x 3 digit multiplication in your mind

The main job function of the brahmin caste was school teacher, not priest
As such, he had to be good in math and language

Each generation of brahmins had to compete for a limited number of school teacher jobs, and only the brightest got the jobs and left descendants
So generation after generation there was evolutionary pressure to expand memory and IQ

Other brahmin jobs include
diplomat, bureacrat, minister, etc

The closest analog in the west is the now extinct Druid of the Celts

Very likely a Druid / brahmin caste existed among several Indo-european language speakers 5000 years ago

( Dru-vidya in sanskrit means immersed in wisdom )

silver said...


And that reason would be? Oppressive colonialism, perhaps? Or the fact that much of their educational system was built by the blue-eyed devils? What? Perhaps even the fact that so many graduates move on to Western countries for jobs?

"We" haven't been running their countries or their schools for at least a few decades now.


Erm, no actually. I was thinking something like simple "admiration" might explain it.

rec1man said...

From carrefoursagasse
--
Finally, an interesting trend was revealed. The presence of exceptionally high verbal ability appeared to increase the likelihood of the presence of high mathematical ability. Only one of the verbally precocious students had an SAT-M score lower than 500 (the average score of a college-bound 12th-grade male). The reverse was not apparent: high mathematical ability did not seem to indicate concomitantly high verbal ability. Twenty-two students scoring 700 or above on the SAT-M scored below 430 on the SAT-V (the average score of a college-bound 12th-grade male). These results, which were significantly different ( p < .05), indicate that verbally precocious students may be more evenly balanced in their cognitive profiles than mathematically precocious students. . .
---

The takeaway is that brahmin memorization while directly improving verbal skills also indirectly improves math skills

Which is why Indian kids are academically balanced with good scores in both verbal and math, unlike other asian kids who do well in math but poorly in verbal

Eman said...

It's definitely true that these Indians are just very good memorizers, probably even genetically...

Most of these spelling bee champs and other Indian high achievers come from high-caste Hindus, which amongst the males traditionally memorized an AMAZING amount of Hindu scripture in Sanskrit because of the strong oral/chanting tradition found amongst the Hindu clergy.

Anonymous said...

"Nothing to do with cool and hot climate"

According to Nietzsche, climate has a whole lot to do with how well people thrive; he said that dry air and clear skies is a prerequisite for great activities and is found especially in those places which have produced a large number of notable people.

From ECCE HOMO: "Enumerate the places in which men of great intellect have been and are still found; where wit, subtlety, and malice are a part of happiness; where genius is almost necessarily at home: all of them have an unusually dry atmosphere. Paris, Provence, Florence, Jerusalem, Athens-these names prove this: that genius is dependent on dry air, on clear skies-in other words, on rapid organic functions, on the possibility of continuously securing for one’s self great quantities of energy."

himali said...

And that reason would be? Oppressive colonialism, perhaps? Or the fact that much of their educational system was built by the blue-eyed devils? What? Perhaps even the fact that so many graduates move on to Western countries for jobs?

Blue eyed fool,
Simple reason they move on due to economics and jobs--just as Columbus sailed for India wanting to find the spice route and become rich.
And the traditionally, Indians referred to Europeans as "Mleccha" meaning barbairan, outsider, or untouchable--so all cultures have prejudices when they can afford to have one.

URM Mom said...

"Enumerate the places in which men of great intellect have been and are still found; where wit, subtlety, and malice are a part of happiness; where genius is almost necessarily at home: all of them have an unusually dry atmosphere. Paris, Provence, Florence, Jerusalem, Athens-these names prove this: that genius is dependent on dry air, on clear skies-in other words, on rapid organic functions, on the possibility of continuously securing for one’s self great quantities of energy."

So how does he explain England?

Also Anonymous said...

Sorry Anonymous, but Nietzsche's wrong here, if not trying to take a jab at his Germans. The genius of Florence today? The genius coming out of Athens?

It's environment and the right type of people. 500 years in Asia Minor, and the Turks have done what?

himali said...

"Enumerate the places in which men of great intellect have been and are still found; where wit, subtlety, and malice are a part of happiness; where genius is almost necessarily at home: all of them have an unusually dry atmosphere. Paris, Provence, Florence, Jerusalem, Athens-these names prove this: that genius is dependent on dry air, on clear skies-in other words, on rapid organic functions, on the possibility of continuously securing for one’s self great quantities of energy."

That's right--great architecture lasting thousands of years are found in mild climates such as Italy, Greece and parts of India. They are not found in extreme heat or cold--places such as Norway, where culture is relatively recent. But now man has the scientific ability to turn even a desert green.

himali said...

Steve your article is full of ignorant generalizations--Indians who like to memorize take part in such contests--does'nt mean that everyone likes to memorize information even if they have the aptitude for it.

Your generalizations are as if Indians were to watch Jerry Springer and conclude that most Americans are like people on that show.

Desiderius said...

One must be careful about claims made about vedic maths. Vedic maths are not a product of the age of the vedas. Hindu revivalist make a lot of fanciful claims about vedic maths and Hindu science.

Anonymous said...

Hindu revivalist make a lot of fanciful claims about vedic maths and Hindu science.
---
We already know rec1 can't be trusted.

rec1man said...

Desidarues wrote

One must be careful about claims made about vedic maths. Vedic maths are not a product of the age of the vedas
--

Thats correct,
there is controversy about its dating

However what there is no controversy is that it works and I have seen the DVD tutorials
and it is a system of mental math
where the tutor does 4 digit x 4 digit multiplication, square roots, cube roots etc

--

Anon wrote rec1 cant be trusted

--

I usually provide web copy-paste with urls

and what I do know is
1. My personal GRE V+M = 1450
2. Niece 1 = 1470
3. Niece 2 = 1510
4. Niece 3 = 1380 SAT at age 12 and winner of John Hopkins young talent award

Anonymous said...

According to Nietzsche, climate has a whole lot to do with how well people thrive; he said that dry air and clear skies is a prerequisite for great activities and is found especially in those places which have produced a large number of notable people.

Listen carefully: the vast majority of really high IQ people are full of crap.

Avinash said...

recman said,
"The closest analog in the west is the now extinct Druid of the Celts

Very likely a Druid / brahmin caste existed among several Indo-european language speakers 5000 years ago

( Dru-vidya in sanskrit means immersed in wisdom )"

I agree. This tradition of memorising was common among the Celtic Druids and ancient Hindu priests alike. I remember my friend's father (who is a devout Brahmin) telling me that when humans started using writing, their memory deteriorated a little. Our ancestors had superior memory as compared to us as they avoided writing. Oral traditions helped cultivate our memories. Something of that sort.

I remember reading somewhere about Julius Caesar saying that even though the Celtic Druids had the knowledge of the Greek, Latin and Germanic (Futhark) scripts, they never wrote down their immense pool of knowledge. The Druids preferred oral traditions instead. The reasons they gave were to Caesar for this were:
1] It keeps the memory sharp.
2] It keeps knowledge only among those who deserve it (who are wise enough for it.)

himali said...

Well there are just a lot of wacky things coming from the new age hippee turned Buddhist, who really know nothing about Buddhism.

I do not understand the obsession with I.Q. on this blog. Who makes IQ tests--some stupid people the same kinds that make standardized tests such as SAT, LSAT etc. I score highly on standardized tests but it really says nothing about my IQ--just says how much I prepared for them--even the IQ tests you can score higher when you see how the test is made...
High IQ is measured by a Physics or Math PHD who is creative in their fields, or by a good work of literature and such and how much you contribute creatively to civilization. Not by some stupid IQ tests made by idiots.

himali said...

The Brahmins are also very similar to the Zoroastrian priesthood who were also referred to as Brahman. This is not surprising owing to the proximity of Iran and the linguistic similarities between Zend Avestan and Rig Vedic Sanskrit--which happen to be sister languages...Unfortunately the Zoroastrians were wiped out by Muslims and few survive today in Iran and some more in India.

himali said...

2] It keeps knowledge only among those who deserve it (who are wise enough for it.)

Yes--they were wise to understand this and that anyone writing a books and articles, even a mule writing is not a good thing---

See Plato also on the mistrust of the written word in the Phaedrus and in the seventh letter where he says the love of wisdom is "innate" and is not taught...

rob said...

The vaishyas ( merchants ) did compound interest since they were money lenders...brahmin math went far beyond mere compound interestA lot of indian math was mental math oriented. Google up 'vedic math' to see the indian method of doing 3 digit x 3 digit multiplication in your mind

Yeah, like I said, the Brahmins did abstract, autistic stuff. Other people did useful things with real world applications and results. Being a moneylender or merchant has a much higher IQ elasticity than being a teacher or shaman. The result of this is that when IQ has actually been measured in India by caste, Vaishyas outscore Brahmins.

rec1man said...

rob said

this is that when IQ has actually been measured in India by caste, Vaishyas outscore Brahmins.
---


lets do a reality check

some higher end vaishya sub-castes may outscore some brahmin sub-castes

1. Indian nuke test 1974,
9 brahmins, 3 vaishyas

2. US spelling bee winners
6 brahmins, 2 vaishyas

3. US math olympiad team
2007 - 1 brahmin, 2008 - 2 brahmins

4. 2009 MIT math integration bee
( math contest among MIT undergrads )
Out of 12 finalists
3 brahmins

5. 2009 Intel talent search finalists, 6 brahmins, 2 vaishyas

6. Youngest spelling bee finalist at age 7, - brahmin

7. Only 12 year old with perfect SAT - brahmin

8. 176 IQ kid on you-tube - brahmin

rob said...

wow a guy on utube says he's really smart! You win.

Except that when actual IQ tests are given to Indians the Brahmins don't score as well.

Reported scores from 1966:
Caste IQ High School marks
Brahmin 38.79 242.62
Kshatriya 39.4 247.5
Vaishya 41.78 259
SC* 35.73 241.92
*Scheduled Castes
From Sternberg "Environmental Effects on cognitive abilities"

Of the higher castes, Brahmins have the lowest IQ. Despite having slightly higher IQ than scheduled castes, they perform only marginally better academically. This belies a view that Brahmins have stronger verbal or math abilities: those would translate, on average, to improved scholastic performance.

In fact, the IQ gap between Valash and Brahmin is about the same size as the gap between Brahmin and scheduled castes.

All of which makes sense. Smart merchants can use higher income to have larger families. During food shortages, smarter merchants' kids eat. Wealth partially isolates people from disease.

Rec1, can you point to any study showing that Brahmins score better than every other caste on an intelligence test? Any at all?

Anonymous said...

Memorizing stuff really paid off to Brahmins in India.

Brahmins are people residing in India who have created caste/religion system in India 3000 years ago, which assigns each person a "fixed" place in the social hierarchy.
As per this system Brahmins by birth are privileged to stay "on top" of social and economic hierarchy.
Currently they predominantly practise this ancient caste system and deprive and deny other Indians of social and economic benefits.
Currently the population of Brahmins in India is only 5%.

But,

* 95% of the jobs in "Business" are occupied by Brahmins.
* 95% of the positions in "Judiciary" are occupied by Brahmins.
* 95% of the time India is "Ruled" by Brahmins after independence.
* 50% of the positions in government "Administration" are occupied by Brahmins.

Han said...

"Blue Eyed Fool..."

Do we really need this? Ignoring our delusional and violent swarthy neighbors is just as harmful to us as ignoring HBD.

Look at them-spouting out totally irrelevant and bizarre accusations of the crimes/"inferiority"(Ha!) of those barbaric foreigners.

Anonymous said...

Here's a map of the average IQ of Indians:

http://img9.imageshack.us/img9/879/iqscoreandraceworldmaptx2.jpg