Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Significance of the Undivided Indian Subcontinent in The Aryabhata Clan

The Indian subcontinent itself has been trifurcated into three major things – Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where [the relationship between…] India [and] Pakistan has become a taboo for India. But […] even 100 years ago […] it was just one Indian subcontinent. The India that [the] West has known as, or the Hindustan which the Persians have referred to [as] for [more than] two millennia – that included Pakistan and Bangladesh. It’s only since [the past] seventy-five years that Bangladesh and Pakistan have not been part of India. But for thousands and thousands of years, they had a common ancestry, they had a common narrative – everything has been same.

I’m a Bengali. A Bengali and a Bangladeshi – absolutely there’s no difference. We speak the same language, we eat the same food. Same thing, like the Punjabis – 70% of Pakistan speak Punjabi [and related languages] (Punjabi 45%, Saraiki 10% and Sindhi 15%). More people speak Urdu in India than in Pakistan. (7.5% or 1.3 million in Pakistan and 5% or 5.1 million in India). And in Pakistan, Urdu is spoken by a small fraction of people. Majority of Pakistan speak Punjabi. A huge part (close to 20%) of Pakistan speak [the] Baluchi language, and then Pashto, and then of course this Burushhaski [about] which I told. (The word Sindhu, which is the progenitor of the terms like India, Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan, Indic, Indo etc., is believed to have come from the Burushaski language, now spoken only by few in two villages in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and which once might have been a major language in the Central Asia).

There is so much common between these countries! The narrative is so intermingled, I felt somebody should write about this common ancestry, this common [culture].

Here [in The Aryabhata Clan], if you see, the entire story goes back and forth in time, and also in geography. The climax happens in Peshawar. A big part of the narrative happens in Pakistan. A major part also happens in Sri Lanka. Again, Sri Lanka also has a very strong cultural association, and also a very strong, I would say, historical relationship with India. Lot of people may not know that Bangla and Sinhalese, the language, are actually sister languages. They both originated from Pali. Pali is the language of Buddha. The language which was spoken in Bihar and West Bengal and the entire Bangladesh in Buddha’s time was Pali. (To be more specific, the language spoken in this region is called Magadhi Prakrit. Very close to Pali, it’s the intermediate form between Sanskrit and Bengali, Maithili, Oriya and Assamese, all of which have descended from it). It’s another very interesting thing how the Sinhalese moved from [the] present West Bengal or the present Bangladesh and how they share [the] same ancestry.

If you go to Sri Lanka – like in India, Sanskrit is considered as a religious language, where [a] lot of our religious ceremonies happen in Sanskrit, in Sri Lanka, all the religious ceremonies happen in Pali language. If you visit Sri Lanka, that itself will be a big revelation […] how Sri Lanka is so closely associated with, not India, but Bengali language and Bengali culture. Myself being a Bengali, I discovered a very astonishing thing. In Bengal, we eat one form of chutney. It is made with tomato, the sweet one, with date and jaggery. Exactly the same chutney I found in Sri Lanka also. And in the [context of] food – anybody who knows Bengali food, he will just freak out [there].

I was very excited when I was reading […] several books and I was discovering so much about by my own country, about my two neighboring countries with whom we have such hostile relationship. One thing that struck me very hard was [the] futility of this present relationship between the various countries in the same region, who are all same. If you look back, and [if] you put some logic, you would realize […] how unreasonable and illogical it is to see the present state of affairs between India and Pakistan and Bangladesh. To answer your question, what motivated [me to write this book]? I think, it’s just the love for history and my excitement while I was reading the history, and while I was discovering lot of things, which made me wonder, which motivated me to write, because I felt if I enjoyed so much […], why not other people… 

No comments: