BEHIND AND BEYOND
ECOSSAIS, THE KHASI SAGA
“Ecossais, The Khasi Saga” is my first book. It is on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people. Never in the wildest of my dreams did I ever dream, that one day I would end up writing and publishing a book like that. It is totally an original work of mine but it has come out as a by-product of another research. I was working on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Assamese people since several years beginning in the late eighties. Although many of the findings I have found in the course of my research are my own, I was following the footsteps of an earlier researcher in that line, Devananda Bharali. References to him and his photograph are there in the article/page “Roots and Strings of the Assamese Language”, which is there in this website. Added to that I had got active help and encouragement in this research from Dr Bijoy Bhusan Hazarika till he was alive, this website is dedicated in his name. I had also got some amount of help and encouragement from Mr Upen Sarma, former Head, English Department, Cotton College, Guwahati at a later period.
Devananda Bharali was the first person to put forward and publish any hypothesis on the origin of the Assamese language. His book “Axomiya Bhaxar Moulik Bisar” written in Assamese language was first published in 1912. The main contention of his theory/hypothesis is that, most of Indo-European languages of the Indian mainland have significant Dravidian influence which has changed their phonology and that has made them different from all other Indo-European languages of Europe and Asia. This includes the Sanskrit language as well, the language considered by most or better say all the linguist of India as the mother language of all the Indian languages. Bharali has proved there in his book that the Assamese language is totally free from that Dravidian influence and hence it’s connection with the larger mass of un-Dravidised Indo-European languages of Europe and Asia is stronger, closer and well maintained. According to Mr Bharali the Sanskrit influence on the Assamese language is a later phenomenon.
But Devananda Bharali was no trained linguist, in fact the time period in which his work was published, the discipline of Linguistics itself was not born yet. So his work did not get any recognition and all the copies of his books simply perished save for a few. I got the reference of his book in the writings of Kanaklal Barua, who is among the two great Assamese historians, other being Surya Kumar Bhuyan. I traced out his son who was residing permanently in Guwahati. He had then, only one copy with him that too obtained from a library of a secondary school of Jorhat. I convinced him to provide me with a Photostat copy of the same which he obliged. His son Jasonanda Bharali who provided me that book and the photograph of Devananda Bharali, also expired a few years back.
Subsequently in the post-independence period another Assamese scholar Dr Bani Kanta Kakati, a trained linguist published his thesis on the origin of the Assamese language. Dr Kakati’s thesis was guided by noted Bengali scholar Dr Suniti Kumar Chaterjee who had earlier published his thesis on the origin of the Bengali language. Both the theses of Dr Chatterjee and Dr Kakati agreed on one point, the languages Assamese and Bengali originated as an offshoot of Magadhan Prakit. Magadh it is to be mentioned was once a mighty kingdom/empire and the area is that of north-central Bihar state, but there are no records of Assam or ancient Kamrup ever being under Magadhan rule. The points put forward by Mr Devananda Bharali in his work on the origin of the Assamese language were not even mentioned / considered / discussed in Dr Kakati’s thesis and there is no mention of Mr Bharali or his book at all. But many of the logic used to make Assamese a Magadhan origin language have already been negated by Mr Bharali in his book, several decades ago. Dr Kakati’s thesis was accepted by almost the whole of the intellectual circle and even in the international forums. Assamese since then was classified as a Magadhan group language and through that ultimately as a Sanskrit and thereby an Indian origin language.
I read and compared both the books, the Dr Kakati’s book was written in English, in the professional trained linguist style and pattern and had undergone revision by another trained linguist of Assam Dr Golok Chandra Goswami. Mr Bharali’s book was written in simple Assamese language no linguistic jargon or phonologies, yet the hypothesis put forward seemed more convincing. There was one shortcoming, the similarities projected by Mr Bharali needed more in-depth and detailed study and analysis, for proving it. I decided to follow-up his work and see whether his hypothesis was viable and based on truth. The theories of Dr Kakati and Mr Bharali differ on one main basic point. According to Dr Kakati Assamese is an Indian Indo-European language brought into Assam by immigrants or colonists from the Indian mainland, whereas Mr Bharali propounds that Assamese is by origin a non-Indian Indo-European language brought into Assam by some group of people who came into Assam without passing through the Indian mainland and hence un-Dravidised unlike others including Sanskrit, whose influence on the Assamese language came at a later period.
For several years I was not able to make any headway in that line due to various reasons mainly my active involvement in the union activities since 1990, being office bearer of the Junior Doctor’s Association (JDA) of Gauhati Medical College, Co-ordination Commitee of the Junior Doctor’s Associations, Assam (CCJDA) where I was the President and Organising Secretary respectively. The JDAs and the CCJDA was involved in a long drawn litigation for around three years on the issue of holding of Entrance Examination for Post-Graduate courses, where I had to play a pivotal role. The litigation ended successfully in favour of the CCJDA after a bitter and toughly contested legal battle ending in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Entrance Examination for Post-Graduate courses were held and I qualified for M.S General Surgery three year course in early part of 1993 which I joined. Apart from the study during this three years as a post-graduate student in the Department of Surgery, I compiled an extensive report on the irregularities and illegalities in the field of Medical Education in the state of Assam. I did it wholly by spending my own money, resources and energy because I felt things going out of normal proportions. It drained a major part of my energy and resources and brought in animosity of a large segment representing many vested interests. This report can be viewed and downloaded part wise from the website “Operation Marcos” . Click this link to go to that website http://operation-marcos.jimdo.com .
After completion of the MS Surgery course in 1996, I started working for around three and half years as Senior Resident in Down Town Hospital, Guwahati, In 1999, after I resigned from this job I started concentrating fully and diligently on the research on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Assamese people, which had to be kept pending due to the other pre-occupations. Added to that I had enrolled myself in a computer software programming course of ET & T Corporation in a centre near Down Town Hospital during the later part of my stint there. For some years after I left Down Town Hospital, my surgical practice was kept at a low key. I confined my practice to domestic and daycare practice including some minor surgeries, for which I equipped myself with equipments and instruments to do all sorts of manageable minor surgical procedure under all aseptic and antiseptic care in domestic settings. Rarely I used to do few cases in operation theatre (OT) of East End Nursing Home, in those cases which were unsuitable or risky for domestic surgery.
These years then on, I concentrated on two works, first my private research on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Assamese people, secondly the computer classes. Surgical practice was kept at a very low key, to keep the mind free for the deep concentration that is required for the nature of the research that I was doing. I delved into the depths of the subject I was working and scoured not only books in various libraries, but all sources which includes the internet, the electronic media and most importantly music from places where I sensed any connection with the Assamese language and people. One of the most important part of the study was the study of the comparative vocabulary of Assamese and other language with which it’s connection was probable. In that time, the places I frequented were the libraries of Guwahati most of them public except one which is maintained by a private trust.
Once I was looking up words in a Swedish-English dictionary when I came across a particular Swedish word. That word is “tröt”, in Swedish it means weary, it is pronounced “TROT”. My knowledge of the Khasi language was and is still limited, yet it is far above the average Assamese speakers, I can say better than many of them who have lived a good part of their lives in Shillong but cannot communicate properly in Khasi. With my limited knowledge of Khasi I wondered if the Swedish word “tröt” is in any way similar to the Khasi word “tlot” meaning weak or powerless. I noted the word in my notebook and continued as usual in my work. Then more words of similarity came in, from that Swedish-English dictionary, I simply noted them down again and again. The actual work that I was doing was to find out similarities of the Assamese language, after that it changed I started jotting down any similarities of the Khasi words also from all the languages I studied. The significant findings came when I started working on the Greek words. Just like the Khasis who use the prefix “U” for denoting male, the Greeks use the prefix “ω” pronounced “oh” to denote male. The words of many of languages I studied provided a large numbers of their Khasi similar words many of them cognates. They continued to trickle in along with the data collected for the Assamese language. My handicap with the Khasi language did not hinder the collection of these vital data relating to the similarities of the Khasi language. I do not know how these words came to me from a large number of languages, but they simply kept on coming and coming and I went on recording them all, in my self-made green cartridge paper notebooks.
By 2003, I finished the most important part of the research, the data/information collection. I ended up collecting a large volume of data/information on the subjects and requirement of regular visits to the libraries has thus ended by that time. The input was complete and the output after integrating and compiling them was forthcoming. At that point of time I had the materials and options to write three books .
First: On the ethno-linguistic roots of the Assamese people, the subject matter and the data/information are of enormous dimensions.
Second: On the linguistics connections of the Ainu people of Japan with the Assamese and other Indo-European languages.
Third: On the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people, in a line not previously ventured by any researcher.
I choose to write the book on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people first, and published it in 2006. Right from the beginning as I said, I never ever dreamt in my wildest of my dreams that I would some day end up writing a book on the subject of the origin of the Khasis. But what surprised me was the kind of ideas and help that came to me and how everything came to fall in place, in what I can describe as having been sent and done to me in a providencial way. The book “Ecossais, The Khasi Saga” printable version is available for free download from the website :
My second book “Tonkori (Affinities of the Ainu language of Japan with Assamese and some other languages) was published in 2008 and released formally at a function by Dr Sylvanus Lamare. The Read-Only copy of the book is available for free download from the website Tonkori (Book). The publication of the third and the most extensive of my research works, the book on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Assamese people is still pending.
In 2004, I joined the East End Nursing Home, Guwahati as a Consultant Surgeon on a regular basis. There I met a gem of a lady Mrs Prially Meris Lyngdoh who was working there as Matron (Chief of the Nursing staff) after retiring from her job in Gauhati Medical College. Kong Lyngdoh did all the required correction of the spellings in the script of my book and even gave her own photograph when I ran out of resources to get a photo of a Khasi women in “jain kyrshah”. Added to that, the encouragement I got from her was overwhelming, I have to say without her, this book would not have seen the light of the day.
A similar help came when I was collecting photographs for the book. Although I had already collected a large volume of pictures, there were shortcomings on some vital pictures relating to the Khasi people. I went up to Shillong and contacted some persons there on the suggestion of some persons I contacted in Meghalaya House, at Rehabari, Guwahati. I did not get any help from them, rather I was made to loop around from place to place. Then I met Mr C C Mihsil who was then the Director of the Art and Culture Department of the Meghalaya Government at his office in the State Central Library complex. He agreed to help me, subject to availability of the photographs and advised me to formally apply for the same which I did. But the problem was I was not able to manage leave to go to Shillong to collect the pictures from Mr Mihsil. Then something happened in my hospital. The East-End Nursing Home, Guwahati where I was working at that time generally does not get a large number of patients from the Khasi hills but few Khasi families do bring their patients there due to the standard economical treatment available there . Sometime after I applied for the photographs from the Art and Culture Department, one Khasi lady from Nongstoin got admitted for gallstone operation in that hospital. I was not directly involved with that patient, some other colleagues of mine were looking after her. One of our operated patient developed some post-operative problem and I had to stay back in the hospital till around 3 O’clock in the afternoon, in normal course I leave at 12.30 pm to come back again at 3 O’clock. I was coming down from Ist floor to go home for lunch, there I found that Khasi lady walking in the ground floor corridor sobbing and limping as she walked. I asked her why she was crying, she replied “shoo” meaning pain in Khasi and pointed to her back, she was not able to speak any other language other than Khasi. I took her back to her cabin and examined her, there was significant tenderness (feeling of pain) over a portion of her spine. I was alarmed to know that she was scheduled to be operated for gall stones the very next day. None of the consultants were present at that moment in hospital and I decided to take things in my own hands in the interest of that patient because I sensed there was something seriously wrong with her spine and that has been overlooked. I told the patient and her attendants that a CT scan has to be done immediately and I will arrange everything, if they agree to it. They agreed to do so and I contacted Radiologist, Dr Saurabh Choudhury, a friend of mine and sent the patient to City Diagnostic Centre, Panbazar. Dr Choudhury not only did the CT scan, but prepared the report immediately and sent it along with the patient on her return, all within one and a half hour. The patient Mrs Nongrum from Nongstoin was suffering from Tuberculosis of the Spine with abscess and the Dr Choudhury detected it by the CT Scan. While the patient went for CT Scan I did not go home for lunch, I waited in the hospital itself. Once I got the report I gave a note in the patients record sheet informing the concerned doctors of the diagnosis and advised cancellation of the operation scheduled on the following day. Although I did not get any form of appreciative gesture from any of my colleagues for this action of mine, the patient and her relatives became very friendly with me. Her husband Mr Gasper Marbaniang and her brother Mr Hom Nongrum brought for me the photographs, which Mr C C Mihsil sent to me for inclusion in my book, from Shillong. The names of all the persons mentioned are to be found in the Acknowledgement page of the book “Ecossais, The Khasi Saga”. The printing part of the book was pending due to the absence of these vital photos and once I got them, the printing process began.
The writing style of this book of mine has got influential adoptions from a book which I have read for the most number of times, I cannot give the precise number but I can say with confidence, certainly not less than fifteen times, cover to cover. It is one of my most favourite book and apart from lending me the writing style, it is the knowledge from this book which is giving me my daily bread and rice. It is not a literary book but a Surgery textbook. This book is perhaps the most popular and interesting Surgery textbook in the world at least in the English speaking or rather say the English using part of the world. The Bailey and Love’s Short Practice of Surgery, the book I am referring to in reality is not a short book at all, but a highly compressed book. It was written originally by two British Surgeons, Henry Hamilton Bailey and Robert McNeill Love in 1932, it has been updated several times to include developments in the field of Surgery. Large magnitude of precise knowledge is described here with use of minimal and optimal number of words by an excellently executed, economical, precise, lucid, and pleasantly flowing style of writing without missing any important information or point. Illustrations and photographs have been used effectively to convey the messages. Even the small footnotes cannot be ignored. The book comes in a single volume but if the knowledge contained in this book is to be uncompressed to details, like unzipping the computer’s zip files, it will become several volumes big. The most important lesson I take from this book is not in the chapters of the book but in a page between the preface and the contents page, titled “Sayings of the Great”, where a saying of Sir Robert Hutchinson, a father figure of modern medicine, described here as a “Medical Litany” is quoted. The whole saying is lifted bodily as a photograph and pasted below:
I try my best to remember this, not only in my professional practice but in all aspects of my life, because I feel it’s relevance is universal. The writing of the book “Ecossais,The Khasi Saga” is not an exception to this.
Right from my childhood I had always sensed a uniqueness about the Khasi people, in the sense that I found them different from all other people of this region. I always had the feeling that the facts published about their origin are far from complete and they have more than the Austric root, hyped by most of the researchers. In the early eighties when I was a Pre-University class student of Arya Vidyapeeth College, Guwahati, I made frequent trips to Shillong on business purpose. I was then working on commission basis for a scientific equipment and chemicals supply firm named Appichem Enterprise having office near my house in Jorpukhuripar, Uzanbazar. That assignment made me visit among other places, the Central School at the Eastern Air Command campus in Upper Shillong. The winding road to the school passes through an area where a large number of monoliths mainly menhirs are seen in rows. I was so impressed and interested by that sight that on one occasion I got down from a truck I was travelling down to Shillong and inspected the whole site. Those menhirs provided the sparks from which the book “Ecossais, The Khasi Saga” rose. The similarity of the Khasi and European Keltic monoliths seemed amazing to me, as also the presence of the place name “Sumer” in the Khasi-Jaintia hills.
I used to hear about Sumer from a person who was more than an elder brother to me but is no more with us. He had miraculously survived a bomb blast in his shop in Uzanbazar market of Guwahati but got killed later in a freak road accident. That bomb was triggered by a militant group wholly created, equipped and dictated by Indian intelligence agencies (RAW or IB ???) . That nice and helpful soul was Mr Billaluddin Ahmed of my own Uzanbazar locality. He once used to work there in Sumer, of the Ri-Bhoi district of the Khasi hills as a foreman with a private firm, when the Umiam Hydroelectric project was under construction. While working in the Down Town hospital some time in 1998, one fine morning, after finishing my night duty in hospital, I took a bus to Shillong. I got down at the entry point of the Sumer village just before reaching the Umiam lake. I met the Rangbah-Shnong (Village Headman) of Sumer and tried to know about any special significance associated with the place, but he could not or did not provide me with any information, rather he and others compelled me to provide them a detailed explanation as to why I was there in the village.
BEYOND THE BOOK
At the very outset of my book I have written that I have made a beginning in the line of thinking projected in my book and further research needs to be made to know and verify the points raised about the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people. I would like to elaborate these points and add further important and vital facts which goes through, but far beyond “Ecossais, The Khasi Saga”.
Much of the studies on the ethno-linguistics roots and connections of the Khasi people have been directed towards linking the Khasis to the Mon-Khmer/Mon-Annam linguistically and with the Austro-Mongoloid people anthropologically. It is a fact that the Khasis do share a lot in common with them and the average physiognomy of the Khasis do have a lot of similarity with many of these linguistic and anthropological groupings. But there is a great difference between the anthropological and linguistic affiliations. As an example, all the people who are grouped as belonging to the Mongoloid race are totally diverse from the linguistic points of view, speaking completely unrelated languages. As is true for all the developments of modern civilization, most or more precisely almost all contribution to the various fields of science have come from the Europeans and their diasporas in Americas and Oceania. So, the racial classification of the human beings are being made in the perception of the Europeans. The Asiatic people beginning with the Huns, then the Mongols and the Tatars had conquered and ruled many parts of Europe. The Europeans were therefore quite familiar with their physical features and when someone first classified the human beings racially on the basis of physiognomy, they put people with developed epicanthic fold in eyes, paucity of body hair, high cheek bone and such other features in the grouping “Mongoloid” to mean people who are like the Mongols. Some of the older writers had also used words “Tatar like” and “Mongol-Malay type” to denote people having these sort of features.
Similarly the classification Caucasoid was made in the belief that people with that kind of physical features originated in the Caucasus mountain region. But the fact remains that by linguistic characteristics the Mongol language is totally different from the other languages spoken by most other people with Mongoloid physical features mainly the Sino-Tibetan group, comprising a large chunk of the world’s human population.
The Korean and the Japanese are considered language isolates, meaning their connection could not be established with any other language groups. One Japanese scholar named Ono had drawn a strong connection of the Japanese language with the Dravidian languages. The Korean has many obvious similarities with Tamil, the purest of the Dravidian languages. I have listened myself, firsthand, from the conversation of some of my Korean friends residing in Guwahati. But by their physical features, the fair, Mongoloid looking Japanese and Koreans have no resemblance at all with the dark skinned Dravidians of India.
The language of the Mongols, the people by whom the whole race of Mongoloid looking people are classified anthropologically, have been found to have varying similarities with the Turkish, the Magyar language of Hungary, Finnish, Lapp and Estonian, languages of Finno-Ugric group. Many scholars had suggested co-inclusion of these languages by forming an Ural-Altaic languages group.
The physical features of the Turkish groups of Central Asia and the Turks of Turkey are different but the linguistic similarities have prevailed. The Magyars ( the name by which the Hungarians call themselves) , the Estonians, the Finns (Finnish people), and the Lapps by physical features are more or less like the average European, with many differences.
It has to be mentioned that among them the Lapps have retained many of the Mongoloid physical features. But they are not any Indo-European language speakers like the vast majority of the people of European continent.
The Magyars are supposed to be the descendants of the Huns who invaded Europe under Attila. They still speak a language inherited from the Huns but physically they are almost fully like any other Europeans. We know that Hungarians are descended on one side from the Huns because of the comparative recentness of occurrence of the event of Hun invasion of Europe. Had these events had taken place at a time when any historical evidence is unreadable, things would have remained a mystery or a puzzle.
The main question is, is the human race as a whole, developed or say evolved from a common set of ancestor-ancestress and after upward evolution from the apes or other primates. Whether the existence of the human beings and all the life forms in this planet are from evolution or are all of them are product of creation of some higher form of super-intelligence or super-nature. From the linguistic point of view, development of the human races from a common ancestry is just impossible. Humans must have a multicentric origin separate language speakers originating separately, may be at differing points of time and possibly with or without differing physical features. But the force that is responsible for the creation of the human races with differing languages and may be other differing features, programmed the genetic coding in such a way that they can interbreed with other sets of the human creation but not with the other animals or life forms. The different stages or races of the human being’s development can be likened to models of cars coming out at different points of time each one having similar traits but with definite and marked individual characteristics. These differing races of the humans in the past several thousands of years of human existence mixed up like anything with each other forming newer social and linguistic groups continuously, till the halting of the process with the compartmentalization of human race into nations and nationalities, with the process gradient coming down by the advent of modernity.
One of the best example of the reality of the intermixing of the human races can be cited from the writings of R G Latham. Robert Gordon Latham (1812-1888) was a English doctor (physician) who lived in the 19th century, who later on took to ethnology and philology and published many path breaking works on these subjects. In his book “Tribes and Races” his analysis of the Germanic people, pre-negates the Hitler’s theory of racial purity, propagating the concept of Aryan racial superiority. He writes on the racial purity of the Germanic people as follows:
“ Whether there is anything like purity of blood anywhere to the north of the Baltic, the east of the Elbe, the south of the Mayne, or the west of the German Ocean, is doubtful. Scandinavia was originally Fin; Britain, Keltic; the remainder Slavonic.”
One of the most recent example of intermixing can observed from the development of new races and nationalities in the continent of South America, more particularly in the landlocked nation of Paraguay. My article “Un-Latin America, The Paraguayan Phenomenon” on this subject can be found in this website only.
The ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people have to be studied keeping in mind the facts mentioned above. The salient points raised in the book “Ecossais, The Khasi Saga” are as follows :
The Khasis are a people with mainly Austro-Mongoloid physiognomy but with marked presence of Caucasoid and some amount of Negroid features.
The pure Mongoloid physical features like the presence of epicanthic folds in the eyes are lacking in the Khasis.
The Khasi language classified by most experts as an Austric language with Mon-Khmer/Mon-Annam affinities and showing many similarities with many languages of this group, have also been found to have smaller but important affinities with many Indo-European languages spoken in Europe and a strong affinity with many of the words of the Persian language. Many of such Persian words are also used as loan words in the Urdu and Hindi languages of the Indian subcontinent but many are found only in Khasi and Persian, implying some sort of direct connection between them. In Khasi language a proverb or a parable is known as “pharsi”.
The megaliths of the Khasi people and those left behind by ancient people of Europe mainly the ancient Kelts are totally similar and almost indistinguishable in photographs.
Matrilineal heritage is there in the Khasi people since the ancient to the modern times. Picts, also known as Cruithne one of the earliest settlers of Britain were matriarchal. Scotland was once known as the kingdom of Picts and Scots. In French language Scotland is called “Ecosse” pronounced ay-KUHSS and anything Scottish or Scotch is called “ecossais” pronounced ay-KUH-SEH. France was once wholly Keltic and similar nomenclature of Scotland are also to be found in the Italian and Spanish language, languages which also have Keltic contributions.
Tuaregs a warrior tribe of northern Africa are also matriarchal, who have retained that system even after conversion to Islam. The Tuaregs are descendents of people who migrated to northern Africa from Europe hence could be proto-Keltic or even Keltic in origin. The prefix “Kel” used by them to denote their whole nationality or any of their sub-group could be a pointer to that fact.
There are several monolithic and matrilineal cultural spots around the world only the Khasis and the ancient Kelts have both these elements occurring together.
There are records about the existence of a Keltic tribe named “Cassi” in ancient Britain at the time of Roman emperor Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain. That Cassi tribe led by its chieftain named Caswallon is known to been the main resistance force against the invading Romans. The earthwork rampart known now as “The Devil’s Dyke” built by Caswallon still stands intact at Wheathhampstead in England.
The ancient Egyptian language represented now by its modern age remnant the Coptic language of Egypt has some similarities with the Khasi language. They used to call their neighbouring mountain people “Khastiu”. A similar word used in the old Persian language is “Khas” it means a mountain dwelling community. In between in the ancient Sumer, there are record of that venue of one of the worlds oldest civilization being ruled by a people now mostly known “Kassite” , but whose actual name was “Cossaei” or “Kasshu” . Most authorities are of the opinion that the present community of Kurds a mountain dwelling community scattered over several nations are the descendents of the ancient Kassites. The Kurds now an Islam religion following community, has less restriction and complete freedom and participation of their womenfolk in the society. In the past it is said that they had women who functioned as leaders of their community.
There are several place names and also a clan named Sumer in the Khasi-Jaintia hills.
The entire Himalayan region from Kashmir in the west to Nepal in the east was once inhabited by a people called “Khas”. Kashmir is called “Kashir” by the Kashmirians themselves and the Tibetans call call Kashmir “Kechi”. Original Khas character and identity of the southern Himalayan people in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand states of India and in Nepal was diluted and presently not much in vogue due to massive influx of people from the northern Indian plains mostly Rajputs at the time of Turkish/Afghan/Mughal, Muslim rule of north India, the so-called Hindustan area. But the Khas element survives in the languages more so in the nomenclature exampled by the name of a dialect of Kumaoni called Khasparjya and the actual name of the Nepali language Khas-kura, which means the language of the Khas.
The headscarf worn by the Khasi women called “jainsngit” is worn in exactly the same manner by the Kashmirian women and newly also found to be worn by likewise by Garhwali and Kurd women. The body cloth worn by the Khasi women the “jainkyrshah” is almost similar with that worn by the Ladakhi women. There are linguistic similarity between the Khasi language and the entire group of Tibetan language which includes the Ladakhi. The original inhabitants of Ladakh were Khas, which was latter conquered by the Tibetans. Khas population still survives in Ladakh.
The ceremonial metallic crown worn by the Khasi women/girls is very similar to the fabric crown worn by the Kalash women of northern Pakistan. The Kalash follow their own traditional form of religion.
The Khasis have a name in particular for the Himalaya mountains they call it the “Lum Mangkashang”. Lum meaning mountain in the Khasi language. The presumption made in the book is that some ancestors of the Khasi people must have passed by the Himalayas in the past to give it a name in particular keeping in view the fact that Khasi hills has or had, no direct physical connection or cultural intercourse with this mountain range in the past.
The tract along the northern side of the Himalayas in southern Tibet is being projected as the main migratory route of people migrating from the west to the area of present so-called north-eastern part of India and to the far east . This fact is true for many of the communities of this area, the Khasis being one of them.
The book as an addendum in the end part contains a long list of words having iso-phonic similarities between the Assamese and the Khasi languages.
The main conclusion of the book is that the Khasis originated from the blending of some people probably Caucasoid in origin coming from the western direction with some people who are in all probability Austric Mon-Khmer/Mon-Annam speakers pre-inhabiting the area of their meeting. There may be contribution from other racial or linguistic groups also. But element of “Khasi” identity as per the book has come from these western contributors who must have some connection with the monolithic cultured Kelts of Europe, Khastiu of the Egyptians, the Kassites/Kasshu/Cossaei of Sumer, and most importantly the Himalayan Khas people now almost indistinguishable in many of their past habituated regions. Although the major part of the Khasi ethno-linguistic composition must have come from the Austric component, some important determining components which includes the shaping of their identity and statecraft, have come from this western, probably Caucasoid component.
The above facts are mentioned to recapitulate the points raised in the book and to give the world the actual facts behind the writing of this book. But the main reason for writing this piece of write-up is because of the getting of some vital and new information which I think could go a long way in decrypting the whole issue of the origin of the Khasis.
Important information I got after the publication of the book are from several persons who took keen interest in my book. First I would like to take the name of Mr Billy Domes the editor of the Khasi weekly Dongmusa. Following up the logic of the presence of the name Lum Mangkashang in the Khasi language, he further informed me that Khasis have names in particular for desert and ice/snow, things not to be seen naturally in the Khasi hills or in the vicinity.
Then Kong Prialy Meris Lyngdoh told me that Khasis according to an oral tradition had written script and books but during migration to their present habitation all the books got lost, as they were washed away while crossing a big river. The same has been repeated by many other people.
I have made an observation on the presence of the name “Hati” for elephant in the Khasi language, which is without controversy a loan word from the Assamese language. All the tribes in this region have a name of their own for elephant. The ancestors/ancestresses of the Khasis must have taken it from the Assamese as they passed through plains of Assam in their itinerary to the present habitat, where their first encounter with this large animal took place and borrowed the Assamese word for elephant.
The new vital information that have been found relates to a group of people called Atayal. The Atayal are the aboriginal inhabitant of the island of Taiwan or Chinese Taipei formerly known as Formosa. The Chinese who now dominates and also names the island after them are much later migrants to this island much later than even the Japanese migration to the Japanese archipelago.
Atayal people have exactly similar dress and physical appearance as the Khasi people. The pictures shown here will show that unless mentioned the pictures two groups of people are indistinguishable. The other tribe of our area the Karbi also has similar dress mostly in their hill segment, something possibly acquired from the contact from their periods of rule by the Jaintia kingdom. But the physical features of the Atayal people shown here resemble the Khasis closely. The Atayal people as seen from the pictures have less of the Mongoloid physical features unlike the Karbis whose hill group have pronounced Mongoloid physical features and the plains group are quite often mixed.
I could not procure any complete dictionary or vocabulary of the Atayal language which have two dialects Ci’uli and Squliq. I did get a list of some words of both the dialects from the website of the Auckland University New Zealand. The link are given below :
Both the dialects have been classified as Austronesian. Around 200 ± words of Ci’uli and Squliq Atayal dialects are found in these webpages which are not sufficient to find and establish any connection with the Khasi language. But the similarities in physical features and dress of the Khasi and Atayal are too sharp to opine confidently that proper research on the possibility of cultural, ethnological and linguistic connection is sure to yield results. This will I feel go a long way in establishing the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people.
While conducting such studies ethnic communities in the area between eastern frontiers of India and Taiwan in the areas of eastern Tibet and Yunnan province of China and adjacent areas of Burma(Myanmar) and Thailand needs to be considered. The Naxi community who have continued matrilineal traditions needs to be considered as also the presence of mixed racial physical features in them. The first hand account by Peter Goullart in his book “Likiang, The Forgotten Kingdom” can provide many vital information in this regard. The book is available for free download from the website http://good-books-pdf.webnode.com . The next important community that needs to be studied are the Wa tribe scattered mainly over Yunnan province of China and northern Burma (Myanmar) as because their linguistic and physical similarities with the Khasi.
Genetic studies more specifically studies of the Y-Haplogroup can help to a great extent but it has to be remembered that such tests are highly technical and practically not possible to be done on each and every individual of any community but only on random samples. There may be a lot of technical errors and therefore should not be treated as absolute truths, rather they should be correlated with cultural, linguistic and anthropological findings which are too obvious to be wrong.
The study/research on the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people has to be done comprehensibly integrating the connections from all the sides eastern, western and from all possible contributions be it Austric, Mongoloid, Caucasoid or even Negroid.
I appeal to all the concerned and competent Khasi intellectuals to take up this issue and establish the ethno-linguistic roots of the Khasi people conclusively. It is beyond my capacity to take up this extensive work but I can certainly help in smaller way if ever my help is required. I am grateful to all the intellectuals of the Khasi community who have taken account of my book. Those among whom I know personally, Dr Hamlet Bareh Ngapkynta, one of the greatest historian, this part of the world has produced, Mr C C Mihsil and Dr Sylvanus Lamare, who have all along helped me. Then I have to name the journalists Mr Billy Domes, Mr Powell Sohklet and many others whom I personally do not know.
At the end I have to remind all those who may be taking up this research an unpleasant truth and say that it is better not to involve any Indian intellectuals other than those from indigenous community of the northeast part in this study, nor do any genetic tests in any Indian laboratory. Even in the case of intellectuals from indigenous community, no persons subscribing to the concept of Hindutva or its sympathizer and with the tendency to Indianise things on bias be avoided strictly. I have to give this warning in spite of being a citizen of this country because of the following reasons.
It is a general tendency of most of the Indian intellectuals to Indianise everything, connecting everything to Hindu culture and Sanskrit. The leftist among them show themselves as liberal and appear to condemn the philosophy of Hindutva, but in reality there tendency towards Indianisation of facts is no less. The general habit of misrepresenting the portrayal of the indigenous people of north eastern part of India is very much in them. The Hindutva-badi historians are in the process of re-writing the history of India where they want to disprove the most important fact of the Aryan invasion of India.
But the biggest threat to intellectual neutrality of ethno-linguistic studies comes from Intelligence Agencies of the Indian Government who in their quest for making India a world Superpower, supports many activities of pan-Indianisation of indigenous communities with non-Indian roots, suppressing genuine heritage of the people of the so-called north-eastern part of India. Their short-sightedness do not allow them to realise that the slogan of “Unity in Diversity” needs to be followed scrupulously. Neglecting and suppressing Diversity to forcefully impose and bolster Unity by cunning manipulations and machinations will lead this country nowhere. It will generate dissent and dissatisfaction. Suppressing any community’s establishment of their roots which may have strong non-Indian component will not make them any less Indian but will show greater Diversity. Acceptance of Diversity will not weaken but strengthen Unity. But this realization is totally lacking in these short sighted people, basking in the glory of their short term gains, “Nothing Succeeds Like Success” as they may say. Their harmful manipulations and machinations in this part of the country will in the long run, pave the way towards a total dismemberment of this part of the country from the mainland. Their manipulative power is massive and unimaginable and they have established wide network of intellectuals and other persons and everything about them is beyond the scope of description of this write-up. Their penny wise pound foolish activities vis-à-vis the so-called north east part of India will be exposed in due time in appropriate forums, if compelled to do so.
Dr Satyakam Phukan
Guwahati, Assam (INDIA)
P.I.N : 781001
Phone : +91 99540 46357
E-Mail : email@example.com