Wednesday, February 6, 2019


The word Pundit goes back about 3,500 years. I'm told it's a Sanskrit word which was used to describe a person of erudition, wisdom and learning. Of the many Hindu Castes, the Brahmin Class was the highest ranking class, and if you had a question, or wanted to get married, or wanted to know when to plant the crop, or wanted to improve your chances at blissful oblivion in the next life it was the Pundits of the Brahmin class who had the answer to everything. During the British Occupation of the Indian Subcontinent the English used the word Pundit in two ways. The first way was to describe a local expert in local traditions and laws who'd advise the British Justice System within the territories the British controlled. A useful sort of thing for an occupying force attempting not to aggravate too many of their Empire's many and diverse subjects.

 The other way the English used the word Pundit was when for example they wanted maps of and information about territories they did not control but hoped to soon. This second kind of Pundit was basically a spy, or a double agent who in the furtherance of their own ambitions would disappear into the unknown and come back with useful information. Some time toward the end of the British Empire the word Pundit earned the category of a derogatory term and came to mean something like a Talking Head, a worse than useless rabble rouser expressing subversive unsubstantiated opinions for the highest payer. And now welcome to the 21st Century, where our Pundits are better than your Pundits, our Pundits can chew gum and  tie their own shoelaces at the same time, yours can't, and so on. It's a rich passionate dialectic, which would be huge fun to watch if you lived on the potentially habitable planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, only four and a quarter light years away.

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