Bronze: “To indicate the importance of my militaristic, hierarchical culture to the politics of our planet compared to your peaceful fertility based cultures, the top ten languages that are presently spoken on our little piece of spinning rock are all derived from Herding cultures with their glorification of the warrior and subsequent devotion to war. We’ve already noted that 7 of the languages in this list are in the Indo-European family. The cultures of these languages are milk drinking, cheese eating, warrior worshipping, Aryan derivatives. Their ancestors were the Kurgans from the Western Steppes.
Of the remaining three languages in the top ten: Mandarin, the number 1 spoken language, is the main language of China. Herding cultures from the Eastern Steppes conquered the indigenous agri-cultures of China 4000 years ago. The ancient Shang dynasty was a classic Bronze Age society. Due to regular invasions from these nomads of the Steppes, Chinese culture has been repeatedly infused with this military mentality. Arabic, number 6 on the list, was originally the language of the nomadic Bedouins, who are the Herding culture of Arabia and Northern Africa. Finally Japanese, number 9, probably derives from Korean, which is in the Altaic language family, the language family of the Herding cultures of the Eurasian Steppes.
To indicate the primacy of my Bronze Age hierarchical civilizations based upon the enslavement of the indigenous farming population and the subjugation of women, the cultures speaking 9 of the 10 languages originally belonged to classic Bronze Age societies. This included the glorification of war and power derived from their Herding ancestor. Only the cultures speaking Arabic remained tribal and non hierarchical, while still devoted to war. My primary point is that your languages are dead languages, while my languages are the languages of power. What does that say about your gods versus my God - the God - God?”
Fertility: “Your god is certainly more powerful militarily, but our gods are the foundation of creativity, which outlasts your political tyrants by thousands of years. My art endures while your kingdoms come and go. You may murder us and take our lands but our creations continue speaking to the coming generations while the memory of your kings is just a passing flicker of the eye. So great in the moment but forgetting the eternal Now, all your instants in charge of others - feasting upon the bodies of your victims - sipping their blood from an endless string of wine glasses - never having enough - collapse into nothingness at the end of your violent lives. Thinking you are mighty and powerful, when instead you greet the after life with guilt for the innocent people you have put to the sword.”
Bronze: “Not really. We go to heaven to fight some more.”
Fertility: “Typical. Your Bronze Age cultures - which are based upon a social structure devoted to war - which includes taking rather than making - and subjugation rather than trading, rule the world, as witnessed by the major languages of the world. However this is an empty victory. Separated, thinking yourself on top - you have divorced yourself from your heart - your passion - from Being itself.”
Bronze: “Fancy words you use, but I’m in charge. Hang her for challenging my power.”
Fertility: “Shows your immaturity. Thinking you can squelch my Spirit with your silly violence and propaganda. My art is eternal, while it is your power that is ephemeral.”
Bronze: “But more people speak my military languages than your languages of art and peace.”
Fertility: “However my language of art is universal - speaking to all people of all classes and cultures across thousands of years, while your language of power is just for the present generation, but then retreats back into the Void from whence it came.”
Bronze: “But your cultures have died out while mine are still here.”
Fertility: “On the contrary my culture of art instantly emerges whenever there is peace. This is why you try to keep the world in a state of war. It raises your stock.”
Bronze: “I just give the humans what they want. They are inherently violent, greedy, power hungry creatures. As evidence, all the major languages are mine. None are yours.”
Fertility: “From the prevalence of these languages based in your military cultures, it’s easy to surmise that this dominator mentality is a human universal. However this is not true.”
Bronze: “Where is it not true? Where is it that humans seek peace rather than conflict? harmony rather than discord? cooperation rather than dispute? The evidence indicates that humans are inadvertently drawn to dispute and violence like CEOs to money. Resolution seems to be too boring to keep their attention. That’s why I and my kind are so important. We provide the world with political drama.”
Southeast Asia: “In my part of the world we don’t need your military drama. My people also don’t speak your Bronze Age languages; nor have we adopted your Bronze Age culture. Indeed, as we shall see as my story progresses, my people have continually fought to eradicate your disease like exterminating bugs and termites.”
Bronze: “That’s not very nice.”
Southeast Asia: “Neither are you.”
Bronze: “But you must cooperate with my type to survive.”
Southeast Asia: “This is unfortunately true and it is a lesson we had to learn the hard way. But my people are finally free at last, at least from your clutches, if not from their own internal illusions.”
Bronze: “You said your people don’t speak my languages. I find that hard to believe. Everyone speaks my languages.”
Southeast Asia: “Note that in the chart below that three of my language families have no roots in the Herding cultures which evolved into the military Bronze Age civilizations with their aristocracy which is addicted to war. Also notice the diversity of language families, 5, in my part of the world compared with the rest of the planet. And yet we still get along. Note that three different language families are spoken in Malaysia alone.
Area of Planet
Dravidian = Tamil
Percent of Country
Cousin of Ural-Altaic
Austroasiatic = Mon-Khmer
Dravidian = Tamil
Contrast this with the two American continents and Europe which only speak languages in the Indo European family. Indeed most of the rest of planet is fairly homogenous when it comes to the major languages.
My part of the planet shows there is still hope for you humans. It is possible to cooperate rather than constantly competing. Perhaps our incredible cultural differences based in language breeds a tolerance for one’s fellow human. This tolerance seems to be more difficult for those of you living in parts of the world with only one language family and one common culture. Who knows if I am right or wrong. It’s just my opinion.”
Author: “You’ve mentioned the myriad languages in your family, but I didn’t notice any mention of Sanskrit or Pali.”
Southeast Asia: “They’re both part of Indic’s family, which is the main branch of Indo-Iranian, one of Indo-European’s eight children. Indic is sometimes call Indo-Aryan by your scholars - to indicate his Aryan roots.”
Author: “Before it split Indic was the original Aryan language?”
Southeast Asia: “Exactly.”
Author: “Could we talk a little more about the relation of Sanskrit and Pali to Indic, due to the importance of this family in your part of the planet? After all Sanskrit is the language of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, which were so influential, while Pali is the language of Theravada Buddhism practiced in all of your mainland countries except Vietnam. Further the written languages of many of your countries is derived from Sanskrit, due to the fact that it was also the language of the philosophical texts of Hinduism.”
Southeast Asia: “Sure. But I’m going to let Indic take up the narrative from here. He’s more familiar with the details as Sanskrit and Pali are his children.”
Indic: “Thanks. Scholars break my development into three phases. My first phase, called Old Indic, included the ancient Vedic language and Classical Sanskrit. This phase lasted until about the middle of last millennium – 450 BCE. My second phase, called Middle Indic, lasted until the beginning of the second millennium in the Common Era – 1000 CE. Prakrits, the father of Pali, was one of the languages of this phase. My last phase called Modern Indic saw the fragmentation and evolution of these older languages into the modern languages of India and the surrounding areas.”
Southeast Asia: “You’ve given us a historical context, but what’s the relation between Pali and Sanskrit?”
Indic: “Originally it was thought that Prakrits, Pali’s father, derived from Sanskrit. However upon closer examination it was found that some words from Prakrits were found in the ancient Vedas, which were not found in Sanskrit. In actuality they probably evolved separately - neither deriving from the other. Basically Sanskrit was a written language, while the Prakrits were the vernacular.
Southeast Asia: “Of course. All the most important Hindu texts were written in the ‘sacred language’ of Sanskrit, including the ancient Vedas from the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE, the Upanishads from the middle of the 1st millennium BCE, and the 2 novels: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata which includes the Bhagavad Gita, with its classic dialogue between Arjuna and Krishna. How did Sanskrit acquire such prestige?”
Indic: “Sanskrit was already the written language when the Aryans invaded the Indus Valley. But then in the middle of the last millennium BCE, the Hindus became heavily involved in the search for universal laws, called shastras. This led to an outpouring of systemizations, which included a formalization of the written grammar of Sanskrit by about 400 BCE. This gave Sanskrit even more prestige. Although there were about 14 languages spoken in India during my second phase, the only one used for writing and teaching was Sanskrit. Sanskrit employs the phonetic devanagari script, which seems to have derived from the Arabic script, which preceded it. This indicates an intimate relation between the Semitic and Persian/Aryan herding communities before the invasion of India.
The word Prakrits derives from the Sanskrit word prakrta or prakrti, which means original nature. So the Prakrits are the ‘natural’ languages of India, as opposed to the polished language of Sanskrit. In Hindu philosophy prakrti represents the transitory world of phenomena which needs to be refined to reach purusa, the permanent world of spirit. So the Prakrits were considered common and unrefined by the Brahmin priests, while Sanskrit was considered the refined language of the elites that would take one to the higher spiritual states.
Note that this glorification of the written language, as opposed to the spoken, seems to be a human universal. Latin was the only written language used by literate Europeans for up to a thousand years after it had ceased to be spoken by anyone but Catholic priests in church services. Also Chinese calligraphy was the only written language in China, despite the multitude of different languages and dialects spoken there. As the universal language of the ruling class, calligraphy attained an almost mystical status, which it still retains today.
There is also a written Arabic, which differs significantly from the many dialects of spoken Arabic. And let’s not forget Hebrew is a written language, which can be understood by all Jews. However, it was not a spoken language until it was revived less than a hundred years ago.
All of these written languages, Arabic, Chinese, Sanskrit. Latin and Hebrew, transcended language barriers because each were the only written language of their respective cultures - each of which had a multitude of mutually intelligible tongues. The educated leaders in each of these cultures needed to be able to read the written language, independent of their native language, if they were to move up the power structure to command a diverse group of cultures with a written language in common.”
Southeast Asia: “With the religious importance of Sanskrit as the written language of India, where does Pali fit in?”
Indic: “About the 5th century BCE the Buddhists, rejecting the elitism of Hinduism, chose Pali - the most archaic Prakrits, to write their classic Buddhist canon. Prior to this all the canons of Hinduism had been written in Sanskrit. This Pali Canon, as it is referred to, is one of earliest collections of sacred Buddhist literature. It is called the Tripitaka, the three baskets of Buddhism - the Bible of Theravada Buddhism. As such, Pali is main language of Theravada.
Southeast Asia: “Thanks for the clarification. Since we’re on the topic of Theravada, how did it come to be the primary religion of my mainland?”
Sri Lanka: “I’ll take up the narrative from here, as this is my story. In case you didn’t know I am a large mountainous island to the east of India in the Bay of Bengal - who used to be called Ceylon. As a seafaring trading culture, my people influenced your indigenous people just as did India’s.
In the 3rd century BCE Asoka, the great king of India, sent Buddhist missionaries to Sri Lanka to convert my people to Buddhism. To indicate the importance of this mission he also sent his son. As an island, relatively independent of India and its long traditions, we were open and receptive to these new ideas. Because of a political threat from Southern India about the 1st century BCE, my monks wrote down the original Buddhist tripitaka in the common language of Pali. This is commonly known as the Pali canon. As mentioned they chose Pali to set themselves apart from the elitism of India’s Sanskrit.
In the 1st millennium CE, my people practiced four different major religions: Mahayana, Theravada, Tantra, Hinduism - and these simultaneously as did your Southeast Asian cultures. In the 10th century Buddhism declined in India. As a reaction there was a revival of Theravada on my island, which led to us becoming an exclusively Theravada kingdom. From my island Theravada, purified Buddhism, as we think of it, spread to your mainland - first to Burma in the west.
Burma, present day Myanmar, was very open to Theravada. They had never really accepted Hinduism - as they were not king oriented like the rest of your Indianized states. Impressed by our way of thinking the great Burmese king Anawrahta issued a decree in 1056 that Theravada Buddhism was to be the religion of his country. He then moved Mon monks and craftsmen from Southern Burma to his capital of Pagan in Northern Burma to build brick and stucco temples in the Indian style. It rates with Angkor and Borobudur as one of the most impressive religious sites in the world. Pagan became the center of Theravada Buddhism on your mainland and construction continued until the Mongol invasion of 1287 permanently halted work. From Burma Theravada spread over the adjacent mountain range to the Mon Dvaravati kingdom, which existed where modern day Thailand is. From there Theravada eventually spread to Cambodia. This was, of course, after the fall of Khmer’s Empire at Angkor.”
Khmer: “Yes, During the era of our god-kings - which lasted for over a thousand years it was easy to be a Mahayana kingdom, but after the collapse of our social structure combined with the fall of our god-kings we Khmer fully realized the transitory nature of existence. We converted easily to Theravada - with its emphasis upon self-realization and its de-emphasis on the earthly plane of kings and temporal power.”
Sri Lanka: “I experienced the same humbling. The center of a thriving trade center I considered myself to be the spreading center of Theravada Buddhism - the home of the Pali canon - a verbalization of some incredible techniques for cleaning the Mirror of the Soul. I proudly felt myself to be on top of the spiritual world. The Universe sensed my Pride and took Action. To tame me he sent the Europeans. What a humbling that was. I can barely continue my story right now. It was such a devastating experience. But I guess I needed it to make me realize that what the Universe gives that he can also take away. My feeling of spiritual superiority, which was actually blocking me from full self realization, was replaced by an overwhelming gratitude for just being allowed to play an incredible part in this earthly drama.”
Khmer: “Well what happened? I don’t really live in your neighborhood.”
Sri Lanka: “Regrettably, in addition to being a great spiritual center, I also had some exceedingly prosperous ports for the lucrative Indian Ocean trade.”
Khmer: “Money and wisdom - What everyone wants - What’s wrong with that.”
Sri Lanka: “My exquisite flowers attracted the bees. They began swarming to extract my wealth. The Portuguese were the first to conquer me and have their way with me, but not the last. I was conquered and ruled by a succession of European powers for the next 400 years. The pattern was always the same. Sailing in from the west with their merciless guns, they would first conquer me and then Malacca. After the Portuguese (1505->1658) came the Dutch (1658->1796), followed by the British (1796->1947). This infection of materialism, combined with the quest for power, severely polluted our Buddhist practices. Eventually we had to recruit Thai monks from Chiang Mai to purify our Theravada traditions. We were even inspired by Theosophists from the West, who wrote a textbook for Buddhism that is still used today.”
Khmer: “My sympathies. The Thai people stripped our temples at Angkor of all their gems and gold. They took our riches to decorate their own temples in Ayutthaya. Raped by our Theravada Buddhist neighbors, who supposedly believe in non-violence. Then after our decline the Thai kings of Chiang Mai in the north and Ayutthaya in the south fought a war over our prosperous trade city of Sukhothai. I thought I’d never see the day when two Theravada nations - who supposedly reject materialism as a way of life – fight it out over money. What’s the world coming to?”
Mon: “You should talk. We had a nice little Theravada kingdom going - based upon art rather than conquering. Sure we thrived during the decline of your Chenla kingdom, but it wasn’t because we took advantage of your weakness militarily. It was just our time in the sun. This Dvaravati kingdom was the Golden Age of we, Mon.
Our artists were so masterful that they worked on every great temple of the era. Our artists and style influenced the Buddhist art of the Khmer and Thai cultures. Our craftsmen also traveled to Java to help with the sculpture on their famous temples. And that’s not all. The great King of Burma called in our artistic talents to direct the creation of his temples at Pagan in its golden age. That was just before our untimely end. We flourished until the 11th century when we were captured by you, Khmer, my own brother. We are not like the others - speaking languages in different families. We are in the same Austroasiatic language family of which we both belong to the same Mon-Khmer branch. Corrupted by the elitism of Hinduism and the Aryan militarism of the Mahabharata you conquered your peace loving brother - who had lived peaceably right next door for centuries. Bad karma.”
Khmer: “Sorry sister. I just got carried away with our power. After all we had become experts in war because of our continual conflicts with the Cham to the east of us.”
Cham: “Blame us will you. Everyone is always trying to shift the blame. Just like you three we also had our time in the sun. After all we were the inheritors of the Dong Song culture of Vietnam - who made such incredible bronze drums. Our people were not the present day Vietnamese. Instead we were Melanesians - Austroasiatic speakers like the Malay. Our king founded a Hindu state, appropriately called Champa, in the 2nd century CE. My people created beautiful temples just like your Mon-Khmer cultures. After all we were contemporaries - all of us Indianized kingdoms. Those were the days. I thought they would never end. Art, music, dancing, with a minimum of warfare.
But I guess we should known, everything temporal comes to an end. The good and bad alternate - pain and pleasure in equal measure. It’s important to enjoy the drama without getting attached to the results - because everything comes to an end - sooner or later. And when the end comes, it seems as if the whole shebang was just a meteor shooting across the evening sky. Did anyone really see you? Is there any evidence of your existence? Or has the continual battling of humans destroyed all remnants of your brief moment in the sun. Ah, but it was fine while it lasted.”
Sri Lanka: “What happened to destroy your Paradise on Earth?”
Cham: “Those aggressive Chinese to the north of us invaded during their expanding Han dynasty at the turn into the Common Era. They conquered our northern territories and stayed to rule and exploit us for the next 900 years. During their infighting we finally acquired our independence. But at what a price. The Sinicized North Vietnamese - who were like provincial Chinese - asserted control of their territory. After losing the north to them, we Cham moved south in 1069 CE, where we came into conflict with you Khmer.”
Khmer: “After many battles we finally annexed your territory in 1203. But don’t blame the Chinese. We had been in continual conflict for hundreds of years before they arrived.”
Cham: “However prior to their arrival our warfare was not that serious because we had plenty of land.”
Khmer: “But we were both playing the warrior game, where nobody wins. But that’s all behind us now. It seemed as it would never end and now it is just a faded memory - the blink of an eye. Thank the Universe that we were inspired to create some pictures to inspire our memories.”
Cham: “Yes those were the days.”
Sri Lanka: “Sounds like a great Ego cleansing for all of you - actually all of us. While externally these experiences would be considered misfortunes, internally these hardships catalyzed an incredible growth experience - allowing us to move to the next level.”
Khmer: “You’re right. These seemingly negative experiences stripped away our spiritual egos, which are the hardest to let go of.”
Mon: “Yeah. It’s so difficult to see through their disguise because they masquerade as Wisdom and Understanding.”
Cham: “Which blocks the full Experience of Oneness with the Moment.”
Sri Lanka: “The Instantaneous mixed with the Eternal.”
Universe: “I love my job.”
Bronze: “Hmmph! And you said your cultures were so peaceful. They are just as addicted to war and violence as the next guy. If they could conquer the world they would. They’re just not powerful enough.”
Southeast Asia: “Because not enough of them have been cultivating their military skills. More of them have been cultivating their artistic, religious and trading skills. My cultures certainly aren’t perfect either, but my peoples have certainly put a lot of time and energy into their arts and temples compared to their military hardware. In fact all of our guns and military hardware was supplied by your derivative cultures.”
Bronze: “But your people didn’t use them any more responsibly than ours. They used them for genocide just like the rest of the humans.”
Southeast Asia: “It took us about 50 years to get your militaristic ways out of our system. But after the fever had passed, we had been vaccinated against the disease and had built up an immunity. But we are getting way ahead of my story.”
Bronze: “You’re right.”
Southeast Asia: “Let’s see. We’ve gone so far afield. Where were we?”
Bronze: “You introduced my Kurgan/Aryan line to gain an understanding of my descendants, the Europeans, and their underlying mind-sets and motivations for invading your part of the world.”
Southeast Asia: “Exactly. But we haven’t finished bringing your development up to the feudal Christian societies of Western Europe, which were our conquerors. We still need a little more background information for a deeper understanding of the clash of our cultures.”
Bronze: “To understand the nature of the European feudal society, we need to talk a little more about the development of our military technology - for it is intimately related to their culture.”
Southeast Asia: “As one might suspect. Even the forms of your cultures are based upon war. Quite different from mine, which are based upon cooperation and trade. This is why it was so easy for your cultures to conquer mine and infect us with your disease.”
Bronze: “Whatever. You need to let go of your bitterness. It has already happened. We need to grow beyond our differences. Hopefully we are describing a process rather than assigning blame.”
Southeast Asia: “OK, OK. Got your point. It’s just a little hard to let go of the centuries of subjugation of my people if you know what I mean.”
Bronze: “But you must let go. No use fighting us with our superior military technology. You will surely loose. Better to cooperate a little more than you want with our Western imperialism rather than have us subjugate you entirely or throw you into a destructive war that will only cause your people excruciating pain.”
Southeast Asia: “I think my people have learned that lesson at last. But I don’t want to give anything away. On to the story of how the development of your military technology created your feudal system, which enabled your people to dominate mine.”
Bronze: “Although my cultures were and are the dominant civilizations on the planet, I hate to admit that we were still subservient militarily to our neighbors who inhabited the Steppes just to the north of us. The ancestors of my rulers came from these Central Asian steppes, but they always lost their fighting skills after a few generations. So these nomadic cultures from the Steppes with their constant practice fighting over the limited number of oasis’s were always superior to us militarily - especially when they united behind a common leader - as in the case of Ghengis Khan. Anyway I’m going to bow out for the time being and let Steppes tell you the story of their military development, which has had such a huge impact upon the evolution Western civilization.”
Southeast Asia: “Or devolution from our perspective.”
Bronze: “Still quite bitter are we? I think you still need to do a lot of internal work to rid yourself of this animosity. No use living in the past.”
Southeast Asia: “Sorry. The recounting of my story, just stirs up my coals.”
Bronze: “Good. Sounds as if reliving these events might enable you to purge these events from the past which have etched themselves in your memory - body as well as mind.”
Southeast Asia: “I hope so. The aggravation taints my Art.”
Bronze: “So to exorcise these evil spirits we will let Steppes tell you his part of the story.”