Traditions of transgressive sacrality (against blasphemy) in Hinduism

  • Claus Peter Zoller University of Oslo


The following essay pursues the question whether a possible non-singular immigration-encounter-event between speakers of dialects of Indo-Aryan and (as maintained in this essay) speakers of dialects of Austro-Asiatic (mostly Munda) have not only left marks in the linguistic history of Indo-Aryan (analyzed in Zoller forthcoming), but also in the cultural and political history of North India. My argumentation will follow several lines of nested arguments, but the most general is this: Whereas in the Abrahamic religions of Christianity and Islam a combination of proclivity for expansionism plus proclivity for religious violence have led to a virtual eradication or at least a subjugation of infidel traditions in the core areas of their religious/political powers (i.e. Europe and Middle East), this venture was less successful in case of South Asia. Thus the most salient aspect of this historical contingency is the fact that cultural historians – but also historical linguists – can see much deeper and much more unimpeded into the prehistory and early history both of the Indo-Aryan and the non-Indo-Aryan (= mainly Austro-Asiatic) North Indian world. The opposition between Abrahamic monotheists and Hindu ‘infidels’ manifests also in the contrast between the topics of blasphemy and transgressive sacrality. The former is typically associated with Abrahamic religions, whereas there is an abundance and great variety of examples of transgressive sacrality in Hinduism.