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The Battle of the Books: The Bible versus the Vedas

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses an overlooked example of the centrality of the Bible in the shaping of the modern world. It arises from the privilege of discussions with students from the Christian states of North East India who are seeking ways to use the biblical tradition to fight for justice for their ethnic and religious groups against what they see as oppression by Hindu nationalists who equate 'Indianness' with being Hindu, and who define Hinduism on the basis of a loyalty to the ancient Sanskrit scriptures. For many German thinkers, the Vedas clearly outbid the claims of a collection of comparatively recent Semitic texts imposed on German culture by Latin missionaries. As the century progressed, scholarly opinion veered towards the idea that the common Indo-European tradition was brought to India by invasion from central Asia in an equivalent movement to the invasion of Europe by the Aryan peoples.

Keywords: ancient Sanskrit scriptures; Aryan people; Bible; Christian states; Hindu nationalists; Indo-European tradition; Latin missionaries; North East India; Semitic texts; Vedas



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