Friday, August 20, 2010



I & II)

See the presentation made by Prof. Angela Marcantonio in Salem, USA in July 2010.

ppt slides presented on July 28, 2010 at a Symposium on Indo-European Linguistics

WHEN? Wednesday, July 28th, 11:00 AM-12:00 PM

WHERE?: Salem State College, Central Campus, Building One, Room # 225
WHO?: Professor Angela Marcantonio, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, dpt. of Linguistics; P. A. Moro, 00195 Rome

IE edifice crumbles.

Indo-European Theory (IET) becomes a myth. So does Aryan Invasion (variants: Migration/'Trickle-in/Tourist) Theory (AIT) become a myth. Emeneau called AIT the linguistic doctrine. The doctrine is in death-throes now.

Open Letter to the Provost of Harvard
30/01/2008 06:37:12


Shree Vinekar

This letter was mailed on Martin Luther King Day in 2007. No response was received from Harvard. Now this is an open letter to the Provost of Harvard published on October 2nd, 2007 on the Gandhi Jayanti Day to be recognized by the UN as the International Peace Day. Persecution by pen of any group is a form of violence that needs to be exposed and curtailed. Harvard needs to take a lead in this effort.

January 15, 2007

To: Dr. Steven Hyman, M.D.
Provost, Harvard University

Re: A Harvard University Professor indulging in slander, violating academic, ethical standards, and probably core values of Harvard.

Dear Dr. Hyman:

I trust you will graciously, and with an open mind, accept this letter as a serious appeal to you whom I view as a highly respected leader and authority figure within the U.S. medical, scientific, and academic communities. I turn to you expecting your sense of justice and fairness to offer some redress or reassurance for not continuing to perpetrate what I see as an insult to the Hindu American Community in the U.S. by someone representing Harvard University. Due to recent communications from Harvard University that call into question the sensibilities, sensitivity, and good judgment that is so required and, moreover expected, from one of the world's most prestigious leading universities, I feel it necessary to approach you with this sincere appeal. My intention, regarding these communications which most Hindu Americans have deemed as "offensive “to our basic identity, beliefs, and ways, is to be able to openly and intelligently discuss with you the importance and value of recognizing, accepting, respecting, and promoting diversity of cultures, names, and scientific views, as well as the simple preservation of the dignity of peoples with different backgrounds and customs and maintaining civility in any dialogues with minority communities (recognized as such legally or not). I am afraid such anti-Hindu propaganda and undignified dialogue as promulgated by a Harvard professor, Michael Witzel, for so many years now may have the potential to lay down the seeds for future persecution of our Hindu community. That is a serious concern. In view of improving relationship between India and the U.S. begun with the previous administrations in both countries, such aspersions thrown at 80% of the Indians in India and the majority of U.S. immigrants from India is not a tactic to win friends here in U.S. nor in India, if he is representing the official views of Harvard and its political bias towards the Hindu Americans and their culture. Professor Witzel will deny that all activities in question can be interpreted as anti-Hindu and demeaning towards the Hindu Americans and portray all accusations as originating only from the abominable “Hindutvavaadins,” and therefore, to be summarily dismissed outright or not to be considered credible. You may judge for yourself or appoint a neutral committee to review his “freedom of speech” and “academic freedom” defense and to closely examine and verify for yourself if the allegations hold any water. Even a cursory glimpse at his web-site will impress anyone that there is no civility in the dialogues posted on this web-site. The garrulousness mixed with scholastic sprinkles on this website is quite impressive and raises questions regarding the sobriety of the writers. One wonders if these are fantasizing Harvard scholars or drunken sailors though the expletives therein are only a little short of profanity. An example of exemplary (!) English language used by Witzel who criticizes the grammar and spellings in the private e-mails of Hindu scholars which he seems to access unethically: "Indo-Aryan speaking pastoralist group, out of Afghanistan and Central Asia (~~ BMAC area), can have been very small."Similar garrulousness was evident in his recent discussion about the etymology of "Chamundi" which he was not able to fathom. It was interesting and intriguing that he saw the word "charma and chamadi" as related to this word revealing his unconscious morbid preoccupation with skin color and racist views based upon the color of the skin. In reality there is no relationship at all and with all his profound scholarship he could not present a correct etymology. However, by associating a sacred image of the Hindus with an array of morbid and bizarre words he showed utter disrespect for the sentiments of the Hindus. All this on the website supported by Harvard and using it on the Harvard company time!!

One would hope that, as was common in the "good old days," it is no longer appropriate, nor acceptable to express anti-Semitic, anti-African American, anti-native American, anti-Hispanic, anti-women, anti-ethnic, anti-Hindu, or any anti-minority disparaging views or pejorative slurs; and, one would also hope that such behavior would be especially looked down upon if heard voiced from the Harvard podium as is the case being brought to issue herein. The defense of freedom of speech or academic freedom was probably not sufficient to absolve even the recent President of Harvard. The same Twenty-first Century high standards for social equality and protecting the minorities from being maligned by the Harvard faculty may please be applied when considering the issues presented herein.
However, this being said, and before reading further into the following appeal, please understand that this is in no way an attack on the academic freedom afforded to Witzel or the Harvard faculty as a whole. Academic freedom we do understand and respect as educated Hindus. Moreover, please note that I am writing this letter to you in my personal capacity as a colleague of yours with no explicit affiliation with any University or organization revealed; that my views are my own as an individual, entirely, and need to stand on their own lest they be considered a “parroting for any other persons’ or groups’.” I have deeply contemplated on the issues and have spent long hours debating whether to ignore the matter, as you and I normally may be tempted to do, or to click the "send" button on my e-mail after composing this letter. Truly, at a very personal and professional level I am embarrassed for myself to have to say anything openly or in private about the internal affairs of Harvard, in general, as it is not my place to do so and also to confront Witzel in particular. I am sure you will be equally embarrassed for Harvard after reviewing the matter covered in this letter. I would very much prefer to ignore an atypical Harvard faculty member like Witzel, to disregard him as an eccentric, and to go on with my personal and professional business and not have to write to the provost of Harvard University an embarrassing letter for all parties concerned. I am always afraid that many including you might think lowly of me for participating in registering a grievance against the Professor of Sanskrit who will deny all allegations leveled as untrue and further ridicule the efforts to get him to be civil instead of his projecting a very arrogant image of Harvard’s bigotry on his web-site. He is misusing his web-site by demeaning not only scholars he disagrees with but also uses cheap aggressive tactics in his "industrial espionage" and in his personal attack on his website on those with whose views he disagrees, whose e-mails he unethically accesses, and intercepts without their permission attacking them preemptively in most vicious terms on his web-site open to public view. It is certainly acceptable to have an academic dialogue or debate in his field of expertise but to slander and demean those with whose views he disagrees is not quite appropriate or expected for a Harvard professor in my humble opinion. Even granting the possibility as claimed by him in most paranoid manner, his Hindu critics may be all Hindustan espousing ignorant rascals but what is quite intriguing is that he is preoccupied for years with verbally battling them. Why he is in such agitated state for years is quite incomprehensible if these people are not legitimate scholars and have nothing substantial to contribute to the history and culture of India upon close scrutiny? They are not even presenting their views in the same august academic media or forum that Witzel has easy access to. Why does he use his valuable Harvard’s company time and energy to lash and bash these inconsequential people? I too fully expect to be publicly castigated and castrated on his weird web-site for simply expressing a contentious view and this is his tactic to intimidate and silence his critics or those who present views in variance with his.

However, in the end, and after all my internal debate, it is my people, the NRI Hindus, that Witzel publicly calls "Hiina," an acronym standing for lowly ones (pun on "the lowly ones" in Sanskrit) Hindu Immigrants in North America, and dubs them as "non-returning immigrants" who do not want to truly ?educate? their children according to his publicized letter to the California Board of Education. I am an NRI (Non Resident Indian as termed internally by the Indian Citizens) who is a U. S. Citizen and has had the good fortune of relating with many on the faculty of Harvard, including “R B,” (Professor of Psychopharmacology) whom I found to be pristinely unprejudiced gentlemen. I have taken pains to educate my children, one from Princeton majoring in Molecular Biology and later to become a highly trained research Chemical Engineer for EXXON and the other a graduate of a reputable business college later enrolled in a Master’s program at another reputable University. Both, on their own, have generously equipped themselves with sufficient exposure to subjects taught in the Liberal Arts departments voluntarily. There are couples of million or at least more than a million Hindu American men and women in the United States that are quietly giving the best of all round education in the American universities as they can to their children. Yet, this professor of Sanskrit language at Harvard is stepping publicly on the pride of Hindu Americans by making such public pejorative statements about their ethnic customs with a peculiar irrational arrogance probably displacing his racist or anti-Semitic antipathy onto the Hindu immigrants in the U.S. I feel, therefore, obligated to thwart his public assault on a peaceful, productive, hard-working educated Hindu community in the U.S. While he is entitled to his views, his activism under the banner of Harvard to impose his anachronistic views on the educators in California is deplorable. He has even openly criticized Hindus for cremating their deceased relatives and attributed the increase in the numbers of crematoria in the U.S. to the influx of Hindu immigrants. Such crass public demeaning statements regarding how any culture treats the last remains are deeply hurtful and neither accurate as to the preferred other modes as being superior nor are most of the crematoria built in this country with Hindus in mind. Such insensitive statements must be considered as reflecting only ethnic hatred and disdain on the part of Witzel. How else would any sensible individual interpret his comment other than that it springs from an anti-Hindu attitude? Does Harvard have a policy against cremation of deceased relatives? Does this Hindu sacred custom adopted even by many educated Americans threaten the environment?

I am appalled to see an official communication again by this Harvard Professor in an official research news-letter affiliated with and possibly financed by Harvard and also possibly generated on Harvard’s ?company time.? The following throws more light on a communication you have already received from Dr. Srinivas Kalyanaraman along with the supporting copies of relevant excerpts from the Internet publications by Witzel. I am not appending again the relevant messages referred to, but that the readers can judge for themselves on how "Anti-Hindu Hate" (clearly and logically surmised from even a superficial look at Wetzel’s communications on the official Harvard supported web-sites:,

can drive a Harvard academic, Prof. Michael Witzel, to go berserk with his posting on an anti-Hindu hate yahoo group called the “Indo-Eurasian Research” news-letter screaming “No Aryan Invasion says Brahmin (sic) geneticist” and later in the same message to label Gyaneshwer, the geneticist student of Human Evolutionary Biology working with Prof. Toomas Kivisild, “a parrot of “Hindutva” belief.”

In addition to Witzel’s unethical eavesdropping of a private and confidential communication intended for a private list-serve, by obviously planting his "industrial espionage perpetrator" or encouraging an unfaithful receiver of messages who has obviously leaked the contents to Witzel, Witzel has interpreted the private e-mail by a young budding Indian author of a scientific article sent by him to his small group of friends as an evidence to impute ignoble motivation and lack of objectivity of the author whom Witzel uncharitably describes in the most pejorative and hateful manner attacking the etymology of his first and last name. Such stooping low with disdain and vicious sarcasm with a voyeuristic peeping Tom tactics is not becoming for a Harvard" Professor. The contents of Witzel's comments not only attack the writer of the private e-mail but also unethically makes public on the Internet on the “Indo-Eurasian Research” Website a private letter by the Indian author not meant to be published on the Internet without the consent and knowledge of a private communicator on a private list-serve. What Witzel has published was not intended for public view in the first place and was not at all directed to him nor did it in any fashion personally quote or mention Witzel in it. The letter only stated Gyaneshwer’s personal opinion, something to the effect, that the cited scientific research in population genetics debunked the AIT or Aryan Invasion Theory (which Witzel privately and publicly espouses and defends as a sergeant in arms, but, as you know, there are many in this world who adhere to this theory, therefore, by any stretch of imagination it was not at all a comment intended to offend Witzel exclusively or even to offend others who espouse this theory. It was also a personal communication not meant for Witzel’s or his supporters’ eyes.) The comment was directed towards the theory and not toward its proponents. So big deal! A young graduate student from India also has his academic freedom to express his views, right or wrong, in a private e-mail to his circle of friends. He did not express these views in his scientific publication for public view. It was none of “mature” and “erudite” Witzel’s business to sneakily obtain a copy of this e-mail by breaking into the graduate student’ mail-box or the mailbox of a private list-serve and to bash publicly on the web-site its young “enthusiastic” naive Indian “Hindu” writer. What is Witzel’s motivation to intercept and attack communications not addressed to him or those that are addressed to you or others? One has to wonder why he feels so vulnerable. Strictly speaking this Professor is violating the Internet etiquettes. If he engaged in such behavior with U.S. mail he would be facing federal criminal charges.

The controversy in his field aside, -(and I am not even sure AIT belongs in the domain of a Department of Sanskrit, or Sanskrit literature, which is so rich and pleasing with extensive archives of history, yet it does not discuss this topic in any Sanskrit texts)-, to attack a writer for minor spelling errors in an e-mail (see supporting copies of e-mails), which are so very common and even quite intentional at times, to save time in sending e-mails, reflects Witzel’s narrow-mindedness as well as immaturity. The academic freedom is a usual defense of the likes of Witzel and that may be a debatable argument in itself. Claiming to be a professor of Sanskrit and questioning a thesis of a scientific article published in a reputable scientific journal without any expertise in the discipline is not an “academic freedom” befitting a Harvard professor especially if he has not turned to other Harvard faculty in the departments of Molecular Biology and Genetics for their considered scholarly expert opinion on this specific matter. Even granting that he has such knowledge and authority as reflected by the reverence with which the members of his mutual admiration society seem to respond to him at Harvard, his personal attack on the ethnic and cultural background, attacking the first and last name of the author and his presumed caste, correctly or not, is not in good taste to say the least. If Indo-Eurasian Research Group newsletter is not an official organ of Harvard University, Witzel’s comments can be viewed as a product of a gossip mill and a Harvard professor has a right to blurt out his vicious racist views or anti-Hindu views in private to his likeminded colleagues but not under the banner of Harvard University in a research news on the Internet where his academic integrity needs to be valued foremost. Please be advised the first names and last names of people in any culture do not bestow any authority to an individual by any stretch of imagination. It would be ridiculous for a Harvard Professor to attack an individual with the last name “Pope” if he is an author of a scientific article the Professor disagrees with by accusing the author of “pontificating like Pope.” Similarly, it would be unwise to attack any author of a scientific article with the first name “Solomon” accusing him as claiming to be a “wise man.” It is this type of fallacy seen in the puerile sarcasm of Witzel’s racist communication that is appalling when he calls Gyaneshwer a “Lord of Knowledge” because of his first name, and because of his last name Chaubey, purportedly accuses the author of a scientific article to be identifying himself as the “reciter of four Vedas.” Such second grader stuff or smartass sarcasm is not only directed towards the specific graduate student but by implication quite derogatory and humiliating for the entire Hindu culture which chooses such revered names for their children and as last names for their families. Presuming that Witzel is not a stand-up-comedian for Harvard on the Internet, this is as illogical perhaps as accusing any individual named Michael to be claiming to be St. Michael the Archangel and further pejoratively labeling him as a dogmatic medieval anti-science “Catholic” parroting the tune of the Vatican. (“Cheers!”). This is the type of immature logic Michael Witzel, a Professor of Sanskrit, representing Harvard University demonstrates when he shows his smarts in “correctly” pinning down the “caste” of this graduate student as a “Brahmin” from North India or Uttar Pradesh. This is said here just to make a point to illustrate Witzel’s unconventional thinking bordering on a thought disorder springing from his underlying racist attitude and is neither intended to make fun of Witzel’s first name nor is it a reflection of any knowledge or presumption that Witzel is a Catholic. For all we know he may very well be an anti-catholic Lutheran. Certainly no comments herein are made to belittle Catholic or any religious community.
It is clear that Witzel has engaged in slander. This is violation of every academic and ethical standard which I hope Harvard University has some mechanisms in place to enforce. It is sick that an academic should be trying to find out if a person who writes a scientific article is a "Brahmin or not," instead of trying to understand what the article tries to communicate in a scientific discipline. Maybe, Witzel knows a lot about identifying a Brahmin by looking at the names and last names. Maybe, Witzel also knows everything that needs to be known in Human Evolutionary Biology.

Witzel has consistently tended to use the word, "hindutva" as a term of abuse, somehow implying lack of objectivity in anyone he tags as reflecting “hindutva,” at the drop of a whimsical hat. In fact, hindutva simply means “being Hindu” or possessing Hindu qualities or “Hinduness”, “-tva” being a Sanskrit suffix for “ness” as in the word, “tat-tva” (philosophical essence, phenomenon, lit. “Itness.”) I am surprised that a Harvard Professor who claims to be in the Department of Sanskrit does not know these basic Sanskrit semantics and etymology. He is reflecting his political biases rather than good knowledge of Sanskrit when he shows he is over-identified with the thesis he feels he is propounding by vehemently attacking anyone that presents views or evidence conflicting with his views. Julian Huxley had to defend Charles Darwin in England when similar irrational vehemence was demonstrated by the religious zealots opposing the Theory of Evolution. However, in this case, unfortunately, it is “Harvard” represented by Witzel that is behaving like the “anti-evolution” creationism propounding non-scientifically oriented Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Church. Such hateful dialogue in an official organ of Harvard University may not be appropriate in this scientific era and especially in the twenty-first century.

Witzel of Harvard University has sunk to very low depths even by the low standards of Harvard Hindu-hate groups. See

Is it Harvard University academic ethics to accuse a scholar of being a “racist” or (biased) Brahmin when the issue should be deliberated without any discrimination based on caste (assuming that Brahmin is a caste) or creed or race? Gyaneshwer who posted the message on Hindu civilization yahoo group about his article which appeared in “BioEssays” has stated that he is a student of Human Evolutionary Biology working with Prof. Toomas Kivisild in Estonia and his work is the genetic study of South Asian population. That he is an unbiased scholar is clear from his earlier postings when he contested a questionable study related to making a claim, “study shows Brahmin genes different”. That is, Gyaneshwer did NOT agree with the newspaper article which reported such a finding that the Brahmins were genetically more closely related to the Europeans implying some false superiority. Even if Witzel knew as much about the Indians in India as he knows the background of the Hungarians he would not be accepted as an authority on Indology just because of his knowledge of Sanskrit and possibly so-called Indo-European languages. Study of languages in itself does not make a linguist a scientist, or an expert in South Asian history, culture, economics, and cultural politics.

And, now Witzel is trying to impute motives and casting aspersions on the objectivity of the scholar whose contributions (together with three other co-authors) have been accepted in journals related to the geneticist student’s field of study.

Is it too much to expect Witzel to apologize to Gyaneshwer for casting aspersions in his Indo-Eurasian Research newsletter accessible on the Internet to public all over the world and by implication, also on the co-authors of Gyaneshwer?
Why is Witzel so pathetically clinging to his pet (petty) theory of “Aryan” Influx into India? Is he so intolerant that he cannot face a contrary view or questioning of his pet views?

In fact, the study referred to by Gyaneshwer has three other co-authors (including Prof. Kivisild): Gyaneshwer Chaubey 1 *, Mait Metspalu 1, Toomas Kivisild 1 2, Richard Villems 1, 1 Department of Evolutionary Biology, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu and Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia
2 Leverhulme Centre of Human Evolutionary Studies, The Henry Wellcome Building, University of Cambridge, UK

So, would Witzel also scream claiming that Mait Metspalu, Richard Villems, and Toomas Kivisild are also “Brahmin geneticists” All of these including Oppenheimer should be “Brahmin geneticists” in Witzel’s books or according to St. Michael the Archangel!

There should be some limits to a Professor’s freedom to slander and certainly, some academic ethics which should be enforced on pseudo-scholars like Witzel occupying chairs at a prestigious university like Harvard University purporting to be a Sanskritist but dabbling heavily instead in the South Asian Politics or Indian population genetics, etc., without any formal training in South Asian Studies or scientific background. Witzel seems purely motivated to be a political activist for the left-wing secular, pseudo-secular, socialistic and communist groups in India, or a mouthpiece for other financial supporters of his whom for all we know could be from Saudi Arabia or Christian missionary groups who harbor deep antipathy towards Hindus. It is also possible that funding is more easily available to him if he upholds the myth of Aryan superiority. And, of course, ironically he is adhering to the Eurocentric views on the history, languages, and culture of India with an assertion that a small group of nomadic Eurasians as providing a sweeping sea-wave cultural change hypothetically instigated by these “non-invading” “immigrants,” (which is a refinement from invasion to migration theory,) essentially viewing these Eurasian nomads as possessing superior “genes”, “knowledge,” and “culture” not to mention superior horses, superior arms, and military skills who came from Central Asia or preferably Europe as bringing with them Indo-European languages and Sanskrit to ancient India along with any values or positive characteristics presently identified in the ancient Indian or Hindu culture and civilization. Witzel has invested in learning Sanskrit in Germany presuming that he has higher expertise in Sanskrit than any other Indian who may have learned Sanskrit in India. He, as a simple foreign Sanskritist untrained in cultural history, archeology, or population genetics of India, is merely parroting an antiquated Eurocentric racist view of the existence of a mythical “Aryan” race with racial superiority that drove Adolph Hitler and many others to the detriment of large sections of so-called non-Aryan populations in the mid-twentieth Century. Identification with the so-called mythical superior “Aryan race” has ugly history. Projecting this type of racist image wearing the Harvard University badge is highly inappropriate. Harvard University has a moral obligation not to promote such racist views under its banner regardless of Witzel's funding sources that might fund him only if he maintains the status quo in the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) euphemistically renamed by him as Aryan Influx Theory (AIT) or Aryan Immigration or Migration Theory. Objectively speaking the West had never learned about the word “Arya” until the British and the Germans discovered it in the seventeenth and eighteenth century from Sanskrit literature in India and conveniently mistranslated and misinterpreted it. The word “Arya” (or any of its derivatives) denoting any superior race is not found in any European language prior to the European rediscovery of India. It simply means “honorable” and has no racial connotations in Sanskrit. The science of biology has not recognized any Aryan race using that specific terminology. Your background, I hope, as a scientist and once the Director of NIMH may help Harvard to begin more dignified, balanced, scientific, peaceful civil dialogues in this area rather than the acrimonious low level verbal attacks on the scholars presenting contrary evidence and views as demonstrated by the Witzel group that claims to be the Indo-Eurasian Research group “know-alls.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” is what you and I would tell our patients. Please be assured, however, that when a Harvard Professor throws his weight around with the California (Public School) Board of Education without regard for the psychological damage resulting for thousands of Hindu immigrant school children of tax-paying Hindu parents eroding their self-esteem through ridiculous and ridiculing presentation of the subject matter and humiliating treatment in the classroom under the disguise of education, zealously endorsed by Witzel, it is not at all “small stuff” for the victims of his hate-mongering. The tax-paying Hindu parents have a full knowledge of their background and culture as well as their religion and have a right to insist that bigoted zealots with ulterior political motives camouflaged as academic interests not impose their distorted views of their complex religion (“Dharma”: there is no English equivalent for this term and religion is not a correct word) and history on their children subjecting them to humiliation.

The bottom line is, Dr. Hyman, I want to bring to your attention that a respected Harvard professor, and scholar is systematically antagonizing a large population of India and Hindu Americans, irrationally poisoning the minds of educators in this country. Regardless of aspersions he throws at those who criticize him, his moral and ethical stance as well as his standing as an interpreter of Hindu religion and history is highly dubious. Since he is given to make fun (pun) on other people's names those of us who know Sanskrit may rename him “Wisha-shaila” instead of Witzel. The name stands for a Mountain of Poison, (spreading poison), riding on the coat tail of Harvard. On this Martin Luther King Day, celebrating the civil liberty and respect for minorities (legally recognized or not) in this country, I hope you will agree it is especially appropriate to bring these issues to the table.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your opening this matter for discussion in order to adequately address the concerns of Hindu American Community. The community will have a right to seek redress from Harvard if such behaviors like those of Witzel continue from a Harvard podium under the provisions or excuse of academic freedom or freedom of speech.

Yours sincerely,

Shree Vinekar, M.D.