The Aryan issue is quite controversial and has been the focus of historians, archaeologists, Indologists, and sociologists for over a century. AIT is merely a proposed 'theory', and not a factual event. And theories keep modifying, are discredited, nay even rejected with the emergence of new knowledge and data pertaining to the subject matter of the theories. The AIT can not be accepted as Gospel truth nowing fully well its shaky and dubious foundations, and now with the emergence of new information and an objective analysis of the archaeological data and scriptures, the validity of AIT is seriously challenged and it stands totally untenable. The most weird aspect of the AIT is that it has its origin not in any Indian records (no where in any of the ancient Indian scriptures or epics or Puranas, etc. is there any mention of this AIT, sounds really incredible!), but in European politics and German nationalism of 19th century. AIT has yo support either in Indian literature, tradition, science, or not even in any of the south Indian (Dravidians, inhabitants of south India, who were supposed to be the victims of the so-called Aryan invasion) literature and tradition. So a product of European politics of the 19th century was forced on Indian history only to serve the imperialist policy of British colonialists to divide the Indian society on ethnic and religious lines in order to continue their reign on the one hand and accentuate the religious aims of Christian missionaries on the other. There is absolutely no reference in Indian traditions and literature of an Aryan Invasion of Northern India, until the British imperialists imposed this theory on an unsuspecting and gullible Indian society and introduced it to the school curriculum. The irony is that this is still taught in our schools as an unmitigated truth, and the authorities who set the curriculum of Indian history books are not yet prepared to accept the verdict, and make the amends. This is truly a shame! Now, more and more evidence is emerging which not only challenges the old myth of Aryan Invasion, but also is destroying all the pillars on which the entire edifice of AIT had been assiduously but cleverly built.
It is a known fact that most of the original proponents of AIT were not historians or archaeologists but had missionary and political axe to grind. Max Muller in fact had been paid by the East India Company to further its colonial aims, and others like Lassen and Weber were ardent German nationalists, with hardly any authority or knowledge on India, only motivated by the superiority of German race/nationalism through white Aryan race theory. And as everybody knows this eventually ended up in the most calamitous event of 20th century: the World War II. Even in the early times of the AIT's onward journey of acceptability, there were numerous challengers like C.J.H. Hayes, Boyed C. Shafer and Hans Kohn who made a deep study of the evolution and character of nationalism in Europe. They had exposed the unscientificness of many of the budding social sciences which were utilized in the 19th century to create the myth of Aryan Race Theory.
In the last couple of decades, the discovery of the lost track of the Rig Vedic river Saraswati, the excavation of a chain of Harappan sites from Ropar in the Punjab to Lothal and Dhaulavira in Gujarat all along this lost track, the discovery of the archaeological remains of Vedis (alters) and Yupas connected with Vedic Yajnas (sacrifices) at Harrapan sites like Kalibangan, decipherment of the Harappan/Indus script by many scholars as a language belonging to Vedic Sanskrit family, the view of the archaeologists like Prof. Dales, Prof. Allchin etc. that the end of the Harappan civilization came not because of the so called Aryan invasion but as a result of a series of floods, the discovery of the lost Dwarka city beneath the sea water near Gujarat coast and its similarity with Harappan civilization - all these new findings and an objective, accurate and contextual interpretation of Vedas indicate onvincingly towards the full identity of the Harappan/Indus civilization with post Vedic civilization, and demand a re-examination of the entire gamut of Aryan Race/Invasion Theories which have been forcefully pushed down the throats of Indian society by some European manipulators and Marxist istorians all these years.
For thousands of years the Hindu society has looked upon the Vedas as the fountainhead of all knowledge: spiritual and secular, and the mainstay of Hindu culture, heritage and its existence. Never our historical or religious records have questioned this fact. Even western and far eastern travellers who have documented their experiences during their prolonged stay and sojourn in India have testified the importance of Vedic literature and its indigenous origin. And now, suddenly, in the last century or so, these the so-called European scholars are pontificating us that the Vedas do not belong to Hindus, they were the creation of a barbaric horde of nomadic tribes descended upon north India and destroyed an advanced indigenous civilization. They even suggest that the Sanskrit language is of non-Indian origin. This is all absurd, preposterous, and defies the commonsense. A nomadic, barbaric horde of invaders cannot from any stretch of imagination produce the kind of sublime wisdom, pure and pristine spiritual experiences of the highest order, a universal philosophy of religious tolerance and harmony for the entire mankind, one finds in the Vedic literature.
Now let us examine the origin and the conditions in which this historical fraud was concocted.
*Max Muller, a renowned Indologist from Germany, is credited with the popularization of the Aryan racial theory in the middle of 19th century. Though later on when Muller's reputation as a Sanskrit scholar was getting damaged, and he was challenged by his peers, since nowhere in the Sanskrit literature, the term Arya denoted a racial people, he recanted and pronounced that Aryan meant only a linguistic family and never applied to a race. But the damage was already done. The German and French political and nationalist groups exploited this racial phenomenon to propagate the supremacy of an assumed Aryan race of white people, which Hitler used to its extreme absurdities for his barbaric crusade to terrorize Jews and other societies. This culminated in the holocaust of millions of innocent people. Though now this racial nonsense has mostly been discarded in Europe, but in India it is still being exploited and used to divide and denigrate the Hindu society. Our aim is to expose myth about AIT, and establish the truth of the identity of the pioneers of the Vedic civilization and set the historical events after the Vedic period in proper perspective and in realistic time frame.
What, really, is Aryan Invasion Theory?
*According to this theory, northern India was invaded
and conquered by nomadic, light-skinned RACE of a people called 'ARYANS'
who descended from Central Asia (or some unknown land ?) around 500
BC, and destroyed an earlier and more advanced civilization of the people
habitated in the Indus Valley and imposed upon them their culture and language.
These Indus Valley people were supposed to be either Dravidian, or AUSTRICS
or now--days' Shudra class etc.
*The main elements on which the entire structure of AIT has been built are: Arya is a racial group, their invasion, they were nomadic, light-skinned, their original home was outside India, their invasion occurred around 1500 BC, they destroyed an advanced civilization of Indus valley, etc. And what are the evidences AIT advocates present in support of all these wild conjectures:
*Invasion: Mention of Conflicts in Vedic literature, findings of skeletons
at the excavated sites of Mohanjodro and Harappa
*Nomadic, Light-skinned: Pure conjecture and misinterpretation of Vedic hymns.
*Non-Aryan/Dravidian Nature of Indus civilization: absence of horse, Shiva worshippers, chariots, Racial differences, etc.
*Date of Invasion, 1500 BC: Arbitrary and speculative, in Mesopotamia and Iraq the presence of the people worshipping Vedic gods around 1700BC, Biblical chronology
A major flaw of the invasion theory was that it had no explanation for why the Vedic literature that was assumed to go back into the second millennium BC had no reference to any region outside of India. Also the astronomical references in the Rig Veda allude to events in the third millennium BC and even earlier, indicating origin ofVedic hymns earlier than 3000BC. The contributions of the Vedic world to philosophy, mathematics, logic, astronomy, medicine and other sciences provide one of the foundations on which rests the common heritage of mankind, is well recognized but cannot be reconciled if Vedas were composed after 1500BC. Further, if it is assumed that the so-called Aryans invaded the townships in the Harappa valley and destroyed its habitants and their civilization, how come after doing that they did not occupy these towns? The excavations of these sites indicate that the townships were abandoned. And if the Harappan civilization had a Dravidian origin, who were allegedly pushed down to the south by Aryans, how come there is no Aryan-Dravidian divide in the respective literatures and historical traditions. The North and South have never been known to be culturally hostile to each other. Prior to the descent of British on Indian scene, there was a continuous interaction and cultural exchange between the two regions. The Sanskrit language, the so-called Aryan language was the lingua-franca of the entire society for thousands of years. The three greatest figures of later Hinduism - Shankaracharya, Madhavacharya and Ramanujam were Southerners who are universally respected in the North, and who have written commentaries on Vedic scriptures in Sanskrit only for the benefit of the entire population. Even in the ancient times some of the great Sutra authors like Baudhayana and Apastamba were from South. Agastya, a celebrated Vedic rishi, is widely venerated in the South as the one who introduced Vedic learning to the South India. And also was the South India un-inhabitated prior to the pushing of the original population of Indus Valley? If not, who were the original inhabitants of South India, who accepted the newcomers without any hostility or fight?
There is enough positive evidence in support of the religious rites of the Harappans being similar to those of the Vedic Aryans. Their religious motifs, deities and sacrificial altars bespeak of Aryan faith, indicating continuity and identity of Vedic culture with the Indus valley civilization. If the Aryan Hindus were outsiders, why don't they name places outside India as their most holy places? Why hould they sing paeans in the praise of India's numerous rivers crisscrossing the entire peninsula, and mountains - repositories of life giving water and natural resources, nay even bestow them a status of goddesses and gods. If Aryans were outsiders why should they consider this land as the 'holy land' and not their original land as the 'holy land' or motherland? For the Muslims, their holy place is Mecca. For the Catholics it is Rome or Jerusalem. For the Hindus, their pilgrim centers range from Kailash in the North, to Rameshwaram in the South; and from Hingalaj (Sindh) in the West to Parusuram Kund (Arunchala Pradesh) in the East. The seven holy cities of Hinduism include Kanchipurum in the south, Dwaraka in the west and Ujjain in central India. The twelve jyotirlings include Ramashwaram in Tamil Nadu, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Nashik in Maharashtra, Somnath in Gujarat and Kashi in Uttar Pradesh. All these are located in greater India only. No Hindu from any part of India has felt a stranger in any other part of India when on a pilgrimage. The seven holy rivers in Hinduism, indeed, seem to chart out the map of the holy land. The Sindhu and the Saraswati (now extinct) originating from the Himalayas and move westward and southwards into the western sea; the Ganga and the Yamuna also start in the Himalayas and move eastward into the north-eastern sea; the Narmada starts in central India and the Godavari starts in western India, while the Kaveri winds its way through the south to move into the southern sea. More than a thousand years ago, Adi Shankaracharya, who was born in Kerala, stablished several mathas (religious and spiritual centers) including at Badrinath in the north (UP), Puri in the east (Orissa), Dwaraka in the west (Gujarat), and at Shringeri and Kanchi in the south. That is India, that is Bharat, that is Hinduism.
These are some of the obvious serious objections, inconsistencies, and glaring anomalies to which the invasionists have no convincing or plausible explanations which could reconcile the above facts with the Aryan invasion theory and destruction of Indus Valley civilization.
Now let us examine the facts about the so-called evidences in support of AIT:
*1. Real Meaning of the Word 'ARYA' In 1853, Max Muller introduced the word 'Arya' into the English and European usage as applying to a racial and linguistic group when propounding the Aryan Racial theory. However, in 1888, he himself refuted his own theory and wrote:
" I have declared again and again that if I say Aryas, I mean neither blood nor bones, nor hair, nor skull; I mean simply those who speak an Aryan language... to me an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar." (Max Muller, Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas, 1888, pg 120)
In Vedic Literature, the word Arya is nowhere defined in connection with either race or language. Instead it refers to: gentleman, good-natured, righteous person, noble-man, and is often used like 'Sir' or 'Shree' before the name of a person like Aryaputra, Aryakanya, etc.
In Ramayan (Valmiki) , Rama is described as an Arya in
the following words:
Arya - who cared for the equality to all and was dear to everyone.
Etymologically, according to Max Muller, the word Arya was derived from ar-, "plough, to cultivate". Therefore, Arya means - "cultivator" agriculturer (civilized sedentary, as opposed to nomads and hunter-gatherers), landlord;
V.S. Apte's Sanskrit-English dictionary relates the word Arya to the root r-,to which a prefix a has been appended to give a negating meaning. And therefore the meaning of Arya is given as "excellent, best", followed by "respectable" and as a noun, "master, lord, worthy, honorable, excellent", upholder of Arya values, and further: teacher, employer, master, father-in-law, friend, Buddha.
So nowhere either in the religious scriptures or by tradition the word Arya denotes a race or language. To impose such a meaning on this epithet is an absolute intellectual dishonesty, deliberate falsification of the facts, and deceptive-scholarship. There are only four primary races, namely, Caucasian, the Mangolian, the Australians and the Negroid. Both the Aryans and Dravidians are related branches of the Caucasian race generally placed in the same Mediterranean sub-branch. The difference between the so-called Aryans of the north and the Dravidians of the south or other communities of Indian subcontinent is not a racial type. Biologically all are the same Caucasian type, only when closer to the equator the skin gets darker, and under the influence of constant heat the bodily frame tends to get a little smaller. And these differences can not be the basis of two altogether different races. Similar differences one can observe even more distinctly among the people of pure Caucasian white race of Europe. Caucasian can be of any color ranging from pure white to almost pure black, with every shade of brown in between. Similarly, the Mongolian race is not yellow. Many Chinese have skin whiter than many so-called Caucasians. Further, a recent landmark global study in population genetics by a team of internationally reputed scientists over 50 years (The History and Geography of Human Genes, by Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi and Alberto Piazza, Princeton University Press) reveals that the people habitated in the Indian subcontinent and nearby including Europe, all belong to one single race of aucasion type. According to this study, there is essentially, and has been no difference racially between north Indians and the so-called Dravidian South Indians. The racial composition has remained almost the same for millennia. This study also confirms that there is no race called as an Aryan race.
*2. The voluminous references to various wars and conflicts in Rigveda are frequently cited as the proof of an invasion and wars between invading white-skinned Aryans and dark-skinned indigenous people. Well, the so-called conflicts and wars mentioned in the Rigveda can be categorized mainly in the following three types:
*A. Conflicts between the forces of nature: Indra, the
Thunder-God of the Rig Veda, occupies a central position in the naturalistic
aspects of the Rigvedic religion, since it is he who forces the clouds
to part with their all-important wealth, the rain. In this task he is pitted
against all sorts of demons and spirits whose main activity is the prevention
of rainfall and sunshine. Rain, being the highest wealth, is depicted in
terms of more terrestrial forms of wealth, such as cows or soma. The clouds
are depicted in terms of their physical appearance: as mountains, as the
black abodes of the demons who retain the celestial waters of the heavens
(i.e. the rains), or as the black demons themselves. This is in no way
be construed as the war between white Aryans and black Dravidians. This
is a perverted interpretation from those who have not understood the meaning
and purport of the Vedic culture and philosophy. Most of the verses which
mention the wars/conflicts are composed using poetic imagery, and depict
the celestial battles of the natural forces, and often take greater and
greater recourse to terrestrial terminology and anthropomorphic depictions.
The descriptions acquire an increasing tendency to shift from naturalism
to mythology. And it is these mythological descriptions which are grabbed
at by invasion theorists as descriptions of wars between invading
Aryans and indigenous non-Aryans. An example of such distorted interpretation
is made of the following verse:
The body lay in the midst of waters that are neither still nor flowing. The waters press against the secret opening of the Vrtra (the coverer) who lay in deep darkness whose enemy is Indra. Mastered by the enemy, the waters held back like cattle restrained by a trader. Indra crushed the vrtra and broke open the withholding outlet of the river. (Rig Veda, I.32.10-11) This verse is a beautiful poetic and metamorphical description of snow-clad dark mountains where the life-sustaining water to feed the rivers flowing in the Aryavarta is held by the hardened ice caps (vrtra demon) and Indra, the rain god by allowing the sun to light its rays on the mountains makes the ice caps break and hence release the water. The invasionists interpret this verse literally on human plane, as the slaying of vrtra, the leader of dark skinned Dravidian people of Indus valley by invading white-skinned Aryan king Indra. This is an absurd and ludicrous interpretation of an obvious conflict between the natural forces.
*B. Conflict between Vedic and Iranian people: Another category of conflicts in the Rigveda represents the genuine conflict between the Vedic people and the Iranians. At one time Iranians and Vedic people formed one society and were living harmoniously in the northern part of India practising Vedic culture, but at some point in the history for some serious philosophical dispute, the society got divided and one section moved to further north-west, now known as Iran. However, the conflict and controversy were continued between the two groups often resulting into even physical fights. The Iranians not only called their God Ahura (Vedic Asura) and their demons Daevas (Vedic Devas), but they also called themselves Dahas and Dahyus (Vedic Dasas, and Dasyus). The oldest Iranian texts, moreover depict the conflicts between the daeva-worshippers and the Dahyus on behalf of the Dahyus, as the Vedic texts depict them on behalf of the Deva-worshippers. Indra, the dominant God of the Rigveda, is represented in the Iranian texts by a demon Indra. What this all indicate that wars or conflicts of this second category are not between Aryans and non-Aryans, but between two estranged groups of the same parent society which got divided by some philosophical dichotomy. Vedas even mention the gods of Dasyus as Arya also.
*C. Conflicts between various indigenous tribal groups over natural resources and various minor kingdoms to gain supremacy over the land and its expansion: A global phenomenon known to share the natural resources like, water, cattle, vegetation and land, and expand the geographical boundaries of the existing kingdoms. This conflict in no way suggests any war or invasion by outsiders on the indigenous people.
*3. It is argued that in the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro the human skeletons found do prove that a massacre had taken place at these townships by invading armies of Aryan nomads. Prof. G. F. Dales (Former head of department of Southasean Archaeology and Anthropology, Berkeley University, USA) in his "The Mythical Massacre at Mohenjo-daro, Expedition Vol VI,3: 1964 states the following about this evidence: What of these skeletal remains that have taken on such undeserved importance? Nine years of extensive excavations at Mohenjo-daro (1922-31) - a city of three miles in circuit - yielded the total of some 37 skeletons, or parts thereof, that can be attributed with some certainty to the period of the Indus civilizations. Some of these were found in contorted positions and groupings that suggest anything but orderly burials. Many are either disarticulated or incomplete. They were all found in the area of the Lower Town - probably the residential district. Not a single body was found within the area of the fortified citadel where one could reasonably expect the final defence of this thriving capital city to have been made.
He further questions: Where are the burned fortresses, the arrow heads, weapons, pieces of armour, the smashed chariots and bodies of in the invaders and defenders? Despite the extensive excavations at the largest Harappan sites, there is not a single bit of evidence that can be brought forth as unconditional proof of an armed conquest and the destruction on the supposed scale of the Aryan invasion.
By David Frawley.
One of the main ideas used to interpret - and generally devalue - the ancient history of India is the theory of the Aryan invasion. According to this account, India was invaded and conquered by nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes from Central Asia around 1500-100 BC, who overthrew an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Hindu culture. This so-called pre-Aryan civilization is said to be evidenced by the large urban ruins of what has been called the "Indus Valley culture" (as most of its initial sites were on the Indus river). The war between the powers of light and darkness, a prevalent idea in ancient Aryan Vedic scriptures, was thus interpreted to refer to this war between light and dark-skinned peoples. The Aryan invasion theory thus turned the "Vedas", the original scriptures of ancient India and the Indo-Aryans, into little more than primitive poems of uncivilized plunderers.
This idea - totally foreign to the history of India, whether north or south - has become almost an unquestioned truth in the interpretation of ancient history today, after nearly all the reasons for its supposed validity have been refuted, even major Western scholars are at last beginning to call it in question.
In this article we will summarize the main points that have arisen. This is a complex subject that I have dealt with in depth in my book "Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization", for those interested in further examination of the subject.
The Indus Valley culture was pronounced pre-Aryans for several reasons that were largely part of the cultural milieu of nineteenth century European thinking scholars as following Max Muller had decided that the Aryans came into India around 1500 BC, since the Indus Valley culture was earlier than this, they concluded that it had to be pre-Aryan. Yet the rationale behind the late date for the Vedic culture given by Muller was totally speculative. Max Muller, like many of the Christian scholars of his era, believed in Biblical chronology. This placed the beginning of the world at 4000 BC and the flood around 2500 BC. Assuming to those two dates, it became difficult to get the Aryans in India before 1500 BC. Muller therefore assumed that the five layers of the four 'Vedas' were each composed in 200 year periods before the Buddha at 500 BC. However, there are more changes of language in Vedic Sanskrit itself than there are in classical Sanskrit since Panini, also regarded as a figure of around 500 BC, or a period of 2500 years. Hence it is clear that each of these periods could have existed for any number of centuries and that the 200 year figure is totally arbitrary and is likely too short a figure.
It was assumed by these scholars - many of whom were also Christian missionaries unsympathetic to the 'Vedas' - that the Vedic culture was that of primitive nomads from Central Asia. Hence they could not have founded any urban culture like that of the Indus Valley. The only basis for this was a rather questionable interpretation of the 'Rig Veda' that they made, ignoring the sophisticated nature of the culture presented within it.
Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that in the middle of the second millennium BC, a number of Indo-European invasions apparently occurred in the Middle East, wherein Indo-European peoples - the Hittites, Mittani and Kassites - conquered and ruled Mesopotamia for some centuries. An Aryan invasion of India would have been another version of this same movement of Indo-European peoples. On top of this, excavators of the Indus Valley culture, like Wheeler, thought they found evidence of destruction of the culture by an outside invasion confirming this.
The Vedic culture was thus said to be that of primitive nomads who came out of Central Asia with their horse-drawn chariots and iron weapons and overthrew the cities of the more advanced Indus Valley culture, with their superior battle tactics. It was pointed out that no horses, chariots or iron was discovered in Indus Valley sites.
This was how the Aryan invasion theory formed and has remained since then. Though little has been discovered that confirms this theory, there has been much hesitancy to question it, much less to give it up.
Further excavations discovered horses not only in Indus Valley sites but also in pre-Indus sites. The use of the horse has thus been proven for the whole range of ancient Indian history. Evidence of the wheel, and an Indus seal showing a spiked wheel as used in chariots, has also been found, suggesting the usage of chariots.
Moreover, the whole idea of nomads with chariots has been challenged. Chariots are not the vehicles of nomads. Their usage occurred only in ancient urban cultures with much flat land, of which the river plain of north India was the most suitable. Chariots are totally unsuitable for crossing mountains and deserts, as the so-called Aryan invasion required.
That the Vedic culture used iron - must hence date later than the introduction of iron around 1500 BC - revolves around the meaning of the Vedic term "ayas", interpreted as iron. 'Ayas' in other Indo - European languages like Latin or German usually means copper, bronze or ore generally, not specially iron. There is no reason to insist that in such earlier Vedic times, 'ayas' meant iron, particularly since other metals are not mentioned in the 'Rig Veda' (except gold that is much more commonly referred to than ayas). Moreover, the 'Atharva Veda' and 'Yajur Veda' speak of different colors of 'ayas'(such as red & black), showing that it was a generic term. Hence it is clear that 'ayas' generally meant metal and not specifically iron.
Moreover, the enemies of the Vedic people in the 'Rig Veda' also use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people themselves. Hence there is nothing in Vedic literature to show that either the Vedic culture was an iron-based culture or that their enemies were not.
The 'Rig Veda' describes its Gods as 'destroyers of cities'. This was used also to regard the Vedic as a primitive non-urban culture that destroys cities and urban civilization. However, there are also many verses in the 'Rig Veda' that speak of the Aryans as having cities of their own and being protected by cities upto a hundred in number. Aryan Gods like Indra, Agni, Saraswati and the Adityas are praised as being like a city. Many ancient kings, including those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, had titles like destroyer or conqueror of cities. This does not turn them into nomads. Destruction of cities also happens in modern wars; this does not make those who do this nomads. Hence the idea of Vedic culture as destroying but not building the cities is based upon ignoring what the Vedas actually say about their own cities.
Further excavation revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not destroyed by outside invasion, but according to internal causes and, most likely, floods. Most recently a new set of cities has been found in India (like the Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka sites by S.R. Rao and the National Institute of Oceanography in India) which are intermediate between those of the Indus culture and later ancient India as visited by the Greeks. This may eliminate the so-called dark age following the presumed Aryan invasion and shows a continuous urban occupation in India back to the beginning of the Indus culture.
The interpretation of the religion of the Indus Valley culture - made incidentally by scholars such as Wheeler who were not religious scholars much less students of Hinduism - was that its religion was different than the Vedic and more likely the later Shaivite religion. However, further excavations - both in Indus Valley site in Gujarat, like Lothal, and those in Rajasthan, like Kalibangan - show large number of fire altars like those used in the Vedic religion, along with bones of oxen, potsherds, shell jewelry and other items used in the rituals described in the 'Vedic Brahmanas'. Hence the Indus Valley culture evidences many Vedic practices that can not be merely coincidental. That some of its practices appeared non-Vedic to its excavators may also be attributed to their misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of Vedic and Hindu culturegenerally, wherein Vedism and Shaivism are the same basic tradition.
We must remember that ruins do not necessarily have one interpretation. Nor does the ability to discover ruins necessarily gives the ability to interpret them correctly.
The Vedic people were thought to have been a fair-skinned race like the Europeans owing to the Vedic idea of a war between light and darkness, and the Vedic people being presented as children of light or children of the sun. Yet this idea of a war between light and darkness exists in most ancient cultures, including the Persian and the Egyptian. Why don't we interpret their scriptures as a war between light and dark-skinned people? It is purely a poetic metaphor, not a cultural statement. Moreover, no real traces of such a race are found in India.
Anthropologists have observed that the present population of Gujarat is composed of more or less the same ethnic groups as are noticed at Lothal in 2000 BC. Similarly, the present population of the Punjab is said to be ethnically the same as the population of Harappa and Rupar 4000 years ago. Linguistically the present day population of Gujarat and Punjab belongs to the Indo-Aryan language speaking group. The only inference that can be drawn from the anthropological and linguistic evidences adduced above is that the Harappan population in the Indus Valley and Gujarat in 2000 BC was composed of two or more groups, the more dominant among them having very close ethnic affinities with the present day Indo-Aryan speaking population of India.
In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans.
There are many points in fact that prove the Vedic nature of the Indus Valley culture. Further excavation has shown that the great majority of the sites of the Indus Valley culture were east, not west of Indus. In fact, the largest concentration of sites appears in an area of Punjab and Rajasthan near the dry banks of ancient Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Vedic culture was said to have been founded by the sage Manu between the banks of Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Saraswati is lauded as the main river (naditama) in the 'Rig Veda' & the most frequently mentioned in the text. It is said to be a great flood and to be wide, even endless in size. Saraswati is said to be "pure in course from the mountains to the sea". Hence the Vedic people were well acquainted with this river and regarded it as their immemorial homeland.
The Saraswati, as modern land studies now reveal, was indeed one of the largest, if not the largest river in India. In early ancient and pre-historic times, it once drained the Sutlej, Yamuna and the Ganges, whose courses were much different than they are today. However, the Saraswati river went dry at the end of the Indus Valley culture and before the so-called Aryan invasion or before 1500 BC. In fact this may have caused the ending of the Indus culture. How could the Vedic Aryans know of this river and establish their culture on its banks if it dried up before they arrived? Indeed the Saraswati as described in the 'Rig Veda' appears to more accurately show it as it was prior to the Indus Valley culture as in the Indus era it was already in decline.
Vedic and late Vedic texts also contain interesting astronomical lore. The Vedic calendar was based upon astronomical sightings of the equinoxes and solstices. Such texts as 'Vedanga Jyotish' speak of a time when the vernal equinox was in the middle of the Nakshatra Aslesha (or about 23 degrees 20 minutes Cancer). This gives a date of 1300 BC. The 'Yajur Veda' and 'Atharva Veda' speak of the vernal equinox in the Krittikas (Pleiades; early Taurus) and the summer solstice (ayana) in Magha (early Leo). This gives a date about 2400 BC. Yet earlier eras are mentioned but these two have numerous references to substantiate them. They prove that the Vedic culture existed at these periods and already had a sophisticated system of astronomy. Such references were merely ignored or pronounced unintelligible by Western scholars because they yielded too early a date for the 'Vedas' than what they presumed, not because such references did not exist.
Vedic texts like 'Shatapatha Brahmana' and 'Aitareya Brahmana' that mention these astronomical references list a group of 11 Vedic kings, including a number of figures of the 'Rig Veda', said to have conquered the region of India from 'sea to sea'. Lands of the Aryans are mentioned in them from Gandhara (Afghanistan) in the west to Videha (Nepal) in the east, and south to Vidarbha (Maharashtra). Hence the Vedic people were in these regions by the Krittika equinox or before 2400 BC. These passages were also ignored by Western scholars and it was said by them that the 'Vedas' had no evidence of large empires in India in Vedic times. Hence a pattern of ignoring literary evidence or misinterpreting them to suit the Aryan invasion idea became prevalent, even to the point of changing the meaning of Vedic words to suit this theory.
According to this theory, the Vedic people were nomads in the Punjab, coming down from Central Asia. However, the 'Rig Veda' itself has nearly 100 references to ocean (samudra), as well as dozens of references to ships, and to rivers flowing in to the sea. Vedic ancestors like Manu, Turvasha, Yadu and Bhujyu are flood figures, saved from across the sea. The Vedic God of the sea, Varuna, is the father of many Vedic seers and seer families like Vasishta, Agastya and the Bhrigu seers. To preserve the Aryan invasion idea it was assumed that the Vedic (and later sanskrit) term for ocean, samudra, originally did not mean the ocean but any large body of water, especially the Indus river in Punjab. Here the clear meaning of a term in 'Rig Veda' and later times - verified by rivers like Saraswati mentioned by name as flowing into the sea - was altered to make the Aryan invasion theory fit. Yet if we look at the index to translation of the 'Rig Veda' by Griffith for example, who held to this idea that samudra didn't really mean the ocean, we find over 70 references to ocean or sea. If samudra does not mean ocean why was it translated as such? It is therefore without basis to locate Vedic kings in Central Asia far from any ocean or from the massive Saraswati river, which form the background of their land and the symbolism of their hymns.
One of the latest archaeological ideas is that the Vedic culture is evidenced by Painted Grey Ware pottery in north India, which appears to date around 1000 BC and comes from the same region between the Ganges and Yamuna as later Vedic culture is related to. It is thought to be an inferior grade of pottery and to be associated with the use of iron that the 'Vedas' are thought to mention. However it is associated with a pig and rice culture, not the cow and barley culture of the 'Vedas'. Moreover it is now found to be an organic development of indigenous pottery, not an introduction of invaders.
Painted Grey Ware culture represents an indigenous cultural development and does not reflect any cultural intrusion from the West i.e. an Indo-Aryan invasion. Therefore, there is no archaeological evidence corroborating the fact of an Indo-Aryan invasion.
In addition, the Aryans in the Middle East, most notably the Hittites, have now been found to have been in that region at least as early as 2200 BC, wherein they are already mentioned. Hence the idea of an Aryan invasion into the Middle East has been pushed back some centuries, though the evidence so far is that the people of the mountain regions of the Middle East were Indo-Europeans as far as recorded history can prove.
The Aryan Kassites of the ancient Middle East worshipped Vedic Gods like Surya and the Maruts, as well as one named Himalaya. The Aryan Hittites and Mittani signed a treaty with the name of the Vedic Gods Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatyas around 1400 BC. The Hittites have a treatise on chariot racing written in almost pure Sanskrit. The Indo-Europeans of the ancient Middle East thus spoke Indo-Aryan, not Indo-Iranian languages and thereby show a Vedic culture in that region of the world as well.
The Indus Valley culture had a form of writing, as evidenced by numerous seals found in the ruins. It was also assumed to be non-Vedic and probably Dravidian, though this was never proved. Now it has been shown that the majority of the late Indus signs are identical with those of later Hindu Brahmi and that there is an organic development between the two scripts. Prevalent models now suggest an Indo-European base for that language.
It was also assumed that the Indus Valley culture derived its civilization from the Middle East, probably Sumeria, as antecedents for it were not found in India. Recent French excavations at Mehrgarh have shown that all the antecedents of the Indus Valley culture can be found within the subcontinent and going back before 6000 BC.
In short, some Western scholars are beginning to reject the Aryan invasion or any outside origin for Hindu civilization.
Current archaeological data do not support the existence of an Indo-Aryan or European invasion into South Asia at any time in the pre- or protohistoric periods. Instead, it is possible to document archeologically a series of cultural changes reflecting indigenous cultural development from prehistoric to historic periods. The early Vedic literature describes not a human invasion into the area, but a fundamental restructuring of indigenous society. The Indo-Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data.
In other words, Vedic literature was interpreted on the assumption that there was an Aryan invasion. Then archeological evidence was interpreted by the same assumption. And both interpretations were then used to justify each other. It is nothing but a tautology, an exercise in circular thinking that only proves that if assuming something is true, it is found to be true!
Another modern Western scholar, Colin Renfrew, places the Indo-Europeans in Greece as early as 6000 BC. He also suggests such a possible early date for their entry into India.
As far as I can see there is nothing in the Hymns of the 'Rig Veda' which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking population was intrusive to the area: this comes rather from a historical assumption of the 'coming of the Indo-Europeans.
When Wheeler speaks of 'the Aryan invasion of the land of the 7 rivers, the Punjab', he has no warranty at all, so far as I can see. If one checks the dozen references in the 'Rig Veda' to the 7 rivers, there is nothing in them that to me implies invasion: the land of the 7 rivers is the land of the 'Rig Veda', the scene of action. Nor is it implied that the inhabitants of the walled cities (including the Dasyus) were any more aboriginal than the Aryans themselves.
Despite Wheeler's comments, it is difficult to see what is particularly non-Aryan about the Indus Valley civilization. Hence Renfrew suggests that the Indus Valley civilization was in fact Indo-Aryan even prior t the Indus Valley era:
This hypothesis that early Indo-European languages were spoken in North India with Pakistan and on the Iranian plateau at the 6th millennium BC has the merit of harmonizing symmetrically with the theory for the origin of the Indo-European languages in Europe. It also emphasizes the continuity in the Indus Valley and adjacent areas from the early neolithic through to the floruit of the Indus Valley civilization.
This is not to say that such scholars appreciate or understand the 'Vedas' - their work leaves much to be desired in this respect - but that it is clear that the whole edifice built around the Aryan invasion is beginning to tumble on all sides. In addition, it does not mean that the 'Rig Veda' dates from the Indus Valley era. The Indus Valley culture resembles that of the 'Yajur Veda' and the reflect the pre-Indus period in India, when the Saraswati river was more prominent.
The acceptance of such views would create a revolution in our view of history as shattering as that in science caused by Einstein's theory of relativity. It would make ancient India perhaps the oldest, largest and most central of ancient cultures. It would mean that the Vedic literary record - already the largest and oldest of the ancient world even at a 1500 BC date - would be the record of teachings some centuries or thousands of years before that. It would mean that the 'Vedas' are our most authentic record of the ancient world. It would also tend to validate the Vedic view that the Indo-Europeans and other Aryan peoples were migrants from India, not that the Indo-Aryans were invaders into India. Moreover, it would affirm the Hindu tradition that the Dravidians were early offshoots of the Vedic people through the seer Agastya, and not unaryan peoples.
In closing, it is important to examine the social and political implications of the Aryan invasion idea:
First, it served to divide India into a northern Aryan and southern Dravidian culture which were made hostile to each other. This kept the Hindus divided and is still a source of social tension.
Second, it gave the British an excuse in their conquest of India. They could claim to be doing only what the Aryan ancestors of the Hindus had previously done millennia ago.
Third, it served to make Vedic culture later than and possibly derived from Middle Eastern cultures. With the proximity and relationship of the latter with the Bible and Christianity, this kept the Hindu religion as a sidelight to the development of religion and civilization to the West.
Fourth, it allowed the sciences of India to be given a Greek basis, as any Vedic basis was largely disqualified by the primitive nature of the Vedic culture.
This discredited not only the 'Vedas' but the genealogies of the 'Puranas' and their long list of the kings before the Buddha or Krishna were left without any historical basis. The 'Mahabharata', instead of a civil war in which all the main kings of India participated as it is described, became a local skirmish among petty princes that was later exaggerated by poets. In short, it discredited the most of the Hindu tradition and almost all its ancient literature. It turned its scriptures and sages into fantasies and exaggerations.
This served a social, political and economical purpose of domination, proving the superiority of Western culture and religion. It made the Hindus feel that their culture was not the great thing that their sages and ancestors had said it was. It made Hindus feel ashamed of their culture - that its basis was neither historical nor scientific. It made them feel that the main line of civilization was developed first in the Middle East and then in Europe and that the culture of India was peripheral and secondary to the real development of world culture.
Such a view is not good scholarship or archeology but merely cultural imperialism. The Western Vedic scholars did in the intellectual sphere what the British army did in the political realm - discredit, divide and conquer the Hindus.
In short, the compelling reasons for the Aryan invasion theory were neither literary nor archeological but political and religious - that is to say, not scholarship but prejudice. Such prejudice may not have been intentional but deep-seated political and religious views easily cloud and blur our thinking.
It is unfortunate that this approach has not been questioned more, particularly by Hindus. Even though Indian Vedic scholars like Dayananda Saraswati, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Arobindo rejected it, most Hindus today passively accept it. They allow Western, generally Christian, scholars to interpret their history for them and quite naturally Hinduism is kept in a reduced role. Many Hindus still accept, read or even honor the translations of the 'Vedas' done by such Christian missionary scholars as Max Muller, Griffith, Monier-Williams and H. H. Wilson. Would modern Christians accept an interpretation of the Bible or biblical history done by Hindus aimed at converting them to Hinduism? Universities in India also use the Western history books and Western Vedic translations that propound such views that denigrate their own culture and country.
The modern Western academic world is sensitive to criticisms of cultural and social biases. For scholars to take a stand against this biased interpretation of the 'Vedas' would indeed cause a reexamination of many of these historical ideas that can not stand objective scrutiny. But if Hindu scholars are silent or passively accept the misinterpretation of their own culture, it will undoubtedly continue, but they will have no one to blame but themselves. It is not an issue to be taken lightly, because how a culture is defined historically creates the perspective from which it is viewed in the modern social and intellectual context. Tolerance is not in allowing a false view of one's own culture and religion to be propagated without question. That is merely self-betrayal.
1. "Atharva Veda" IX.5.4.
2. "Rig Veda" II.20.8 & IV.27.1.
3. "Rig Veda" VII.3.7; VII.15.14; VI.48.8; I.166.8; I.189.2; VII.95.1.
4. S.R. Rao, "Lothal and the Indus Valley Civilization", Asia Publishing
House, Bombay, India, 1973, p. 37, 140 &141.
5. Ibid, p. 158.
6. "Manu Samhita" II.17-18.
7. Note "Rig Veda" II.41.16; VI.61.8-13; I.3.12.
8. "Rig Veda" VII.95.2.
9. Studies from the post-graduate Research Institute of Deccan College, Pune,
and the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), Jodhapur.
Confirmed by use of MSS (multi-spectral scanner) and Landsat Satellite
Note MLBD Newsletter (Delhi, India: Motilal Banarasidass), Nov. 1989.
Also Sriram Sathe, "Bharatiya Historiography", Itihasa Sankalana Samiti,
Hyderabad, India, 1989, pp. 11-13.
10. "Vedanga Jyotisha of Lagadha", Indian National Science Academy, Delhi,
India, 1985, pp 12-13.
11. "Aitareya Brahmana", VIII.21-23; "Shatapat Brahmana", XIII.5.4.
12. R. Griffith, "The Hymns of the Rig Veda", Motilal Banarsidas, Delhi, 1976.
13. J. Shaffer, "The Indo-Aryan invasions: Cultural Myth and Archeological
Reality", from J. Lukas (Ed), 'The people of South Asia', New York, 1984,
14. T. Burrow, "The Proto-Indoaryans", Journal of Royal Asiatic Society,
No. 2, 1973, pp. 123-140.
15. G. R. Hunter, "The Script of Harappa and Mohenjodaro and its connection
with other scripts", Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1934.
J.E. Mitchiner, "Studies in the Indus Valley Inscriptions", Oxford &IBH,
Delhi, India, 1978.
Also the work of Subhash Kak as in "A Frequency Analysis of the Indus
Script", Cryptologia, July 1988, Vol XII, No 3; "Indus Writing",
The Mankind Quarterly, Vol 30, No 1 &2, Fall/Winter 1989; and
"On the Decipherment of the Indus Script - A Preliminary Study of its
connection with Brahmi", Indian Journal of History of Science, 22(1):51-62
(1987). Kak may be close to deciphering the Indus Valley script into
a Sanskrit like or Vedic language.
16. J.F. Jarrige and R.H. Meadow, "The Antecedents of Civilization in the Indus
Valley", Scientific American, August 1980.
17. C. Renfrew, "Archeology and Language", Cambridge University Press, New York,
Disclaimer: Within this paper there are terms and dates that conflict with the teachings of His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad - the above paper is only presented for Vedic reference and for Food for Thought, it in no way is presented to challenge the teachings of His Divine Grace or his followers. I'm trusting that the mature reader will appreciate the inclusion of these papers is to support the ideals of HDG that the Vedic tradition has been misrepresented by mundane scholars, and in fact dates back many thousands of years prior to the modern age.