justinon 10 May 2014 at 3:54 pm said: Thanks for this, Lyone, and my apologies for the late response. My worry with this approach: “The first few centuries of every religious tradition is pretty much the same in this regard: lacking in solid historic data” is that there are sometimes vastly different amounts of solid historical data among religions. So I couldn’t say “All we have is myth, legend, hagiography.” We do have those, but we also have archaeology, historians such as Josephus, linguistic analysis, etc. So I think we can and should do our best to separate out what is strictly claimed within the tradition (especially when the claims just appear much later in the tradition) and ideas and events which can be attested to from multiple sources.
justinon 10 May 2014 at 4:51 pm said: Dear Jayarava – many thanks for all of this. It’s a bit overwhelming in terms of what to try to respond do…
First, I’m not sure claims about “what the Buddha thought” aren’t a priori refutable. The body of texts we have can be used to argue for different interpretations and new texts may still be found to upset the whole thing. As you later stated, Gombrich is definitely a Popperian, so the (also later) point about “what counts as evidence” is really the key problem here. And as you also note, aside from Schopen’s possible contrarianism, the main arguments for distrusting texts come from Postmodernism.
Next, “Schopen in particular has pointed out that were we do have archaeological evidence it contradicts textual evidence –particularly with respect to how monks live and conducted themselves.” I think it’s fairer to say that *some* archaeological evidence contradicts textual evidence, and/or gives us new information. I think we have to be much more circumspect on what evidence Schopen presents and what conclusions he draws from it.
Schopen and others may have upped the game, so to speak, but I hope that in the process they have not also discouraged many great minds from looking at texts and thinking hard about what they mean and meant to Buddhists, past and present.
It is not about whether SSVC had an IndoAryan component or sarasvatI river or date of RV: These are separate even if related problems. Linguistic & philological evidence are superior to archaeological evidence as the latter is way more incomplete & pots don't speak
The core RV & older sections of ancestral AV shows signs of a mobile mixed pastoralist/agricultural society with evidence familiarity with regions closer to the Caspian sea & more northern latitudes than bhArata. The philological+linguistic evidence combined with genetics suggests that IA invasion was not likely product of elite dominance: it was a movement of a sizable population of IA speakers; thus genetic evidence supports not negates AIT hypothesis unlike what is spouted by those unfamiliar with such data in its original form.
Given the population movement & fact that IE appearance in Europe was comparable where autochthons likely overwhelmed, there's nothing wrong calling it an invasion: unlikely that it involved no military aspect at all, especially given that Indoaryans were a mobile warlike people
Willingness of certain Hs to kid themselves without grasp of primary data about autochthonism of original IA is a reflection of a certain intellectual cretinism stemming from the inability to transcend emotionalism while approaching a problem; this could come to bite them in more life-and-death and immediate geo-political issues than the origin of their long dead ancestors