“divide et impera” typical tactics used in politics to break up a large population to many so that it will be easier for the ruling elites to manipulate and dodge possible rebellions against the power structures in the long run. It was a very potent tool for colonial imperialism and evangelism in many continents to remain in power with lesser hurdles. Lemme tell you about a celebrated Ireland born man who might have been long dead, yet cursed my land with the victimhood on which a major fraction of the current Indian Politics stands on.
Robert Caldwell fits into the description of an average British man who was born of poor parents, rejected by Oxford University due to his Irish descent even though he had a scholarship. Well, unable to find quality education he joined Church and started missionary work to sustain himself. At a young age, he found southern India as a new ground for proselytization and moved to Chennai. His biographer says that his primary concern was to convert the South Indians to Christianity. To be clear, am I blaming him for being a missionary? NO. India itself is very inclusive in nature, consisting of many sects, many philosophies, cultures, traditions with no conflicts. The Indic sense of Freedom of Religion since eons proudly exceeds the dimension of Freedom of Religion as defined from westbound perspective. From an Indic perspective, you are free to practice anything, free to form a new sect, preach the mass about your alternative way of enlightenment without any “my way or the highway” worldview. Yet his way of proselytization was more than just normally spreading his own belief system in Southern India or “Dravida”.
To denote the geographical region of southern India, a Sanskrit word “Drāvida” is used that means a land encompassed by waters from three sides. Indic polymath Varahamitra describes the land from south-west to south-east India as Drāvida. Another prominent Indic theologian Adi Shankaracharya refers to himself as Dravida Shishu or a child of Dravida (तव स्तन्यं मन्ये धरणिधरकन्ये हृदयतः पयःपारावारः परिवहति सारस्वतमिव । दयावत्या दत्तं द्रविडशिशुरास्वाद्य तव यत् कवीनां प्रौढानामजनि कमनीयः कवयिता ॥) while paying obeisance to the Mother Goddess in Soundarya Lahiri. However, the first person who tried to violate the word as a means of schism was Robert Caldwell.
Let’s begin with excerpts of his book “Comparative Grammar of Dravidian or South Indian Languages” that are specifically unrelated to Grammar. The particular book mainly aims at the segregation of Indic language family into two. One is of the race of civilized god worshippers or so-called Aryans while another is of the race of uncivilized devil worshippers (Demonolaters) or so-called Dravidians. I’ll not go to the comparative analysis of both “Aryan” and “Dravidian” languages but will shed light on 40 percent of contents unrelated to the subject matter of the book and what’s the intention of race hypothesis formulated in a grammar book.
What was the physical type of Dravidian race according to Cladwell?
The 19th-century “science” broadly classified the entire human race into three: Causasoids, Mongoloids, and Negroids. The Europeans were self-acclaimed as the best and were Causasoids or Aryans. Then comes Mongoloids were called the Yellow race and Negroids were the worst race. Though such a racist hypothesis is currently refuted, let’s see how referring to the same theories separatism is still thriving in Dravidian politics of India as Caldwell’s legacy.
Based on facial features like the shape of nose and head, Caldwell categorized South Indian communities under one “Dravidian” race which he finds similar to that of the Aryan race of North Indians. But forest tribes like Gonds puzzled him since they “seemed to be generally Mongolians” to Caldwell.
Then he quotes Brian Hodgson to address how there are many differences between racial features of Aryan and Tamilian kinds and a “Mongolian stamp” is impressed on all the aborigines of India.
Caldwell again quotes Quatrefages to say the aborigines are not “Mongolian race” but of “Negroid race”. From the admixture of the yellow race and the black race, the so-called Dravidian race arises.
He states the high caste Dravidian women are though equally fairer to Aryan women the shape of their head is smaller and narrower which are the “signs of timidity and subtilty” where an Aryan’s broad head implies “physical and moral courage”.
Caldwell discusses another theory where southern Indians resemble the black race in color, but in other facial features and hairs (which are not wooly like African people), they resemble Causasoids. So, Dravidians are surely not Negroids.
Caldwell is now in confusion. If aborigines are Mongoloids, not Negroids, then how come they lost Mongolian “ugly” features like “flat head, the squat nose and the thick lips”? Also how did they adopt blackness? It’s not a Mongolian feature.
LOL, then Caldwell gave his own outstanding theory. Says there has been no example for “a descent from the Caucasian to the Mongolian”. Like come on, Caucasians are the most advanced, hence master race in humankind! So there could be “an ascent from the Mongolian to the Caucasian” in South Indians because of small “intermixture with Aryans”.
Sir also says if south Indians and forest tribes have been identical, it would have been an example of how “mental improvement and acquisition of a higher style of beauty go hand in hand”. But alas, Dravidians get civilized in the influence of Aryans, but Gonds stayed uncivilized!
And what are “Dravidian” culture originally like?
Sir identifies “Aryan” people are the worshippers of “the sun, the sky, the water, fire and other elements of nature personified or a pantheon of heroes and heroines”. But “Dravidian” or “Scythian” people had a completely different religion. Let’s see.
Bishop Caldwell asserts it was “Demonolatry or the worsip of evil spirits by means of bloody sacrifices and frantic dances”. This “Dravidian system of demonolatry and sorcery” can be compared with Shamanism. The superstitious practices of Siberian Shamanism and “Dravidian Demonolatry” are “identical” even if both belong to separate races.
With immense love for Dravidians, Bishop Caldwell describes Shamanite Demonolatrous Rites to tell how dangerously horrible practices uncivilized Dravidians must have had before being Aryanised!
Then compares Shamanite practices with the Shanar community people of Tamilnadu with interesting accounts on devil dancing rituals. Sir says the officiating priest is a “devil dancer” who “strikes terror into the imagination of the beholders”. But the musical instruments used in “devil dance” iritates Caldwell to a great extent.
Caldwell gets horrified by the accounts of his “beloved” Dravidian culture.
But not all “Dravidians” are this barbarian. Ethnic group called ‘Toda’ being civilized by Indo-Aryans, their “sense of adoration has been educated”. Aryans have influenced them with “mildness and contentedness” which has “led them to drop or avoid much of the demonolatrous habit of other members of Dravidian race”. “Superior ideas” has certainly come from “Brahminical sources”.
Caldwell’s “love” for so-called Dravidian is truly profound!
What was the intention of discussing absurd racist theories in a Grammer book? Before Caldwell, no men from Southern India lamented that one group of people took over the religion, cultural structure of another group of people. No person from the North said the Southerners were uncivilized. Pan-Indian civilizational maturity was synchronous. Were South Indians barbarians? Well, can never be barbarians when analytical interference for terminus layer of the recently discovered urban settlement in Keeladi of Tamilnadu is 820 BCE to 3000 BCE with mean 1900 BCE. When there is evidence to show that the Assyrians and the Babylonians had extensive trade relations with Southern India during 3rd BCE. When archaeologists discover peppercorn which is native to south India in the nostrils of the mummified body of 13th BCE emperor Ramesses II. When the ancient technique in which boats of 19th century BCE Ain Sukhna port were made is still being practiced in southern state Kerala of India, it’s beyond belief that South Indians were primitive flea-beaten savages incapable of civilization who were invaded by a handful of highly civilized people or Hitler’s mythological Master race.
From a linguistics point of view, before Caldwell A.C.Campbell wrote the book “Telugu Grammer” to describe there’s another Indic language family other than Sanskrit while his mentor Francis Ellis wrote another endorsing the same. But for the first time, it was Caldwell who did stereotype along with the morphology of languages to formulate a new race. A new race on what basis? Obviously on Biblical accounts. Bible says the entire humankind is derived from Noah’s progeny. Once Noah cursed his son Ham to be “the servant of servants” for his evil behavior and dispelled him from his own patriarch. For a long time, Christian orthodoxy used to consider Africans and Scythian race as the cursed descendants of Ham due to their darker skintone and this argument is what they even purposed in favor of the transatlantic slave trade. Colossians 3:11 verse of the Bible purposes Scythians as the most savage of all or the lowest kind of barbarian who used to roam in Central Asian plains before coming to India. Let’s again delve into what Cladwell says.
Sir purposes two theories, the out-castes of South India like Pareiyas were either original Dravidians or the descendants of a “ruder and darker race”. He says that the second theory is not “destitute of probability”. So what were both these rude and dark races?
Obviously Scythians. He claimed that the Dravidians belonged to the Mongol or the Scythian race. One race of Dravidians was sent to forest area by Aryans, then secondary “warlike, hungry, Scythian hordes” migrated to India, “rushed down upon the first Dravidian settlement” and put the first settlers in “dependant and almost servile position”. These final Dravidians were then conquered by the Aryans and pushed south-ward. Risley also categorized people in the very same way when he was classifying a moderately fine nose as Scytho-Dravidian and flat-nosed as Dravidian.
Aryan-Dravidian false divide in India can be parallelly discussed with the creation of fault lines between the Hutu-Tutsi people of Rwanda which was a specialty of missionaries. Hutus (85% population) had short physical build while Tutsi (15% population) were of lighter skin tone and thin physical build. Hutu were manipulated to see themselves as oppressed and Tutsi were seen as more civilized. Then what? This racial propaganda resulted in horrendous genocides. Thankfully Civilization unity in India has resisted any such major genocide even under the prolonged influence of the Marxists and Freudian dominated post-independence education sphere.
Decades later when Indology becoming independent of the 19th century euro-centric racial hierarchy and Out of India theory is being developed by contemporary scientists across the globe, how this first-class racist Robert Caldwell is being championed as a superhero by the Tamilian parties seems like a political Stockholm syndrome.