The demise of Aryan Invasion Theory

The Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) is dead. It died over a decade ago. A great burial to AIT was given by many Indian and foreign scholars, including Prof. G.F. Dales (USA), Prof. Hemphill (USA), Lord Colin Renfrew (UK), Dr. B.B. Lal (India), Dr. S.P.Gupta (India) and Prof. Nicholus Kazanus (Greece). Even Romila Thaper, the Indian historian who had been the most vociferous supporter of AIT had to accept the demise of AIT and write its cenotaph. In her book “The Penguin History of Early India” (2002 edition, page 105), she concedes that “The theory of Aryan Invasion no longer has credence.” But it has not percolated down to educated middle class and the general public, which had been fed the AIT for over 200 years. The school textbooks of India and many other countries continue to teach AIT, as they have been for over 100 years.

The AIT implied that a fair- complexioned people living somewhere in Central Asia, near the Caspian Sea, and speaking Proto Indo-European (PIE) language constituted the Aryan race. A group of these people, known as Indo-Europeans, migrated westwards to Europe, while a branch of it known as Indo-Iranians migrated southwards to Iran. A splinter group of these Indo-Iranians, termed Indo-Aryans, moved further southwards to India. In India, they invaded and defeated the indigenous dark complexioned people (Dravidians), around 15th Cent. BC., and pushed them to South India. These invading Aryans occupied ‘Sapt-Sindhu’ (the land of seven rivers), in north-west India, now in Pakistan. These people called the conquered dark-skinned people as Daas (slave). Whie in India, these invading Aryans composed Rig Veda in 12th Cent. B.C., constituted the upper caste of the society and relegated the indigenous people to lower castes, The Aryan Invasion Theory was formulated by scholars as an instrument of British imperialism.

AIT was not an abstract theory, confined to the realm of ideas and a coterie of a few academics. It was a theory that affected the mindsets of most Indians and adversely impacted them socially, too. The adverse affect of the AIT is best illustrated by an event that my friend’s daughter had narrated to me some 35 years ago. At that time, she was a student of Class VI in a School in Delhi. Being in Delhi, most of the students in the class were from North India, who generally have fairer complexions than most South Indians. As soon as AIT was taught to them in their History class, the Punjabi students declared to the lone South Indian student that she was a dark complexioned Dravidian, a daas (slave), and they themselves were fair-complexioned, conquering invaders (Aryans). This poor girl was bullied so much that she started crying and complained to the teacher. I am sure that this South Indian girl would have grown up with an antipathy against all North Indians, while those North Indian girls would have matured with a sense of disdain against all South Indians. Such has been the devastating and deep-rooted effect of AIT on Indian society. Hence, the collapse of AIT is a monumental event, and very noteworthy, indeed.

It was not easy for the supporters of AIT to concede that there was never any Aryan invasion of India. Hence, they have dug their feet and come up with the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT). As per this revised theory, the Aryans migrated to India from Iran via Afghanistan peacefully, in groups of various sizes, over a period, and in due course gave their language and culture to the indigenous people. The Aryan Migration Theory (AMT) is actually based on conjecture and assumptions, like the AIT. It does not explain how small groups of a few hundred people, or even a thousand people, coming from a foreign land could replace the language and culture of a large population of indigenous people, who were settled there for thousands of years. There is no parallel of such a phenomenon anywhere in the world. The Aryan Migration Theory is devoid of logic and possibility. It is even more tenuous than the AIT. It will also die its natural death, like that of the AIT.

The genesis of AIT

The AIT was conceived and promoted by British colonialists as a device to strengthen their subjugation of India. But in due course, it ceased to be India-centric. It wrought maximum damage to Europe, where Hitler lapped it up to strengthen German nationalism and brought brutality and massacre to people through the World War-II. Considering the far-reaching consequences of AIT, it would be worthwhile to study its origin, as well as the evidence against it that has led to its demise.

The East India Company had come to realize that it was in India to rule the country by the second half of the 18th century. The Company was victorious in the Battle of Plassey (1757 A.D.) and the Battle of Buxor (1764 A.D.) Now the States of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were under the control of the Company. It had become a significant power in India. To discharge their responsibility as rulers of the country, the British East India Company needed to know its people, their language, history and culture. For this purpose, at the instance of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of the time, the Royal Asiatic Society of Calcutta was established in the year 1784, with Sir William Jones as its President.

William Jones was a linguist and a scholar of Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, and a number of other languages. During the course of his studies, he discovered inexplicable resemblance between the Sanskrit, Greek and Latin languages. There could only be two explanations for this. Either Sanskrit had influenced the Greek and Latin languages, or Greek and Latin had influenced the Sanskrit language. The first explanation was not acceptable to William Jones and his fellow scholars. They were all colonialists at heart; Jones was an employee of the British East India Company, being a Judge of the Supreme Court of India. They could not imagine a language of conquered people even remotely influencing any European language. But there was not even an iota of evidence of any European language influencing Sanskrit. So the colonial-scholars came up with a third explanation. They fancied that in the remote past, there was an ancient parent language, of which Sanskrit, Greek and Latin are offspring. Sir William Jones propounded this theory in his Presidential address at a meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society held on 2nd Feb 1786: “Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure, more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either...A stronger affinity, both in roots of verb and the forms of grammar, than could have been produced by accident, so strong indeed that no philosopher can examine them, all three, without believing them to have sprung up from a common source, which perhaps no longer exists.”

The thesis of William Jones that Sanskrit and many European languages have sprung from a 'common source' language was based on pure assumption, and not supported by any concrete linguistic, archaeological or literary evidence.

The fiction of the 'common source' from which Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and other languages allegedly developed was further reinforced by 19th century German linguist Franz Bopp (1791-1867). He is largely responsible for emphatically using and popularizing the term 'Proto Indo-European' (PIE) or 'Indo-European' (IE) language for the 'common source' parent language.

The fiction of a 'common source' was further strengthened by another German scholar, Max Muller, who named the speakers of Proto Indo-Europeans ('common source' language) as 'Aryans'.

Max Muller’s Role

In the first quarter of the 19th Century, the East India Company had become the strongest power in India. At this juncture, a debate was raging amongst the policy makers of the East India Company about whether the natives should continue to be allowed to be educated in oriental languages, as before, or they should be educated through English medium ? In this debate, T.B. Macaulay, the Law Member of Governor General’s Council, was in favor of English education to Indians. He argued that, “…we must at present, do our best to create a class, who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons, Indians in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinion, in moral and in intellect.” Macaulay, thus, sought to create ‘brown sahibs’ or ‘brown Englishmen’ out of Indians. Macaulay won the debate.

It was in continuation of British plan to alienate Indians from their culture and heritage that Macaulay sought the services of German Sanskrit scholar Max Muller to mistranslate the Vedas in such a manner that Indian youths may develop revulsion against them. Since the Vedas are the fountainhead of all Indian thought and heritage, their denigration would shake their Indian-ness and help to create Indians who would be “English in taste, in opinion, in moral and in intellect.” Max Muller was thus hired by the East India Company at Macaulay’s insistence.

Max Muller was engaged by the British East India Company in 1847 to translate the Rig Veda and other Hindu scriptures and was to be paid four pounds per page for the translation, which by calculation, comes to 800 pounds per page in 1988. The aim of the translation was neither academic nor historical; it was colonial and missionary. The Vedas are regarded by Hindus as the very source of their heritage and religion. Max Muller was required to mistranslate the Vedas in such a manner that it may show them in poor light, and that Hindus may develop disrespect for them. It was hoped that alienation from their most pious scripture would facilitate conversion of Hindus to Christianity. The missionary-scholar, Max Muller admitted this when he wrote on his translation of Rig Veda: “...the translation of Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India, and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what their root is, I feel sure, the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3000 years.”

There is evidence that Max Muller was helped in his nefarious mission by Pandit Taranath of Calcutta Sanskrit College, who was engaged by the British to prepare a dictionary of the meanings of Vedic words. Like Max Muller, he was also exorbitantly paid to give distorted meanings of key Vedic words in his dictionary. Pandit Taranath was thus 'purchased'. His dictionary 'Vachaspatyam' gives wrong and distorted meanings of many words, which enabled Max Muller to demean the import and message of the Rig Veda. For instance, according to Panini, the ancient Grammarian, the word 'Goghna' means the 'receiver of cow in charity,’ but Pandit Taranath gave its meaning as 'killer of cow.’ (Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, The True History and Religion of India, International Society of Divine Love, USA; page 268). On the basis of altered meaning, it could be established that Vedic people killed cows, and ate their meat. The purpose of such distorted translation was obvious. The British hoped that by showing Indians that their ancestors ate beef, their dislike of British rulers on the ground of their beef-eating may soften.

Though a Sanskrit scholar, Max Muller remained a Christian missionary at heart, all his life. He hoped for a massive conversion of Hindus to Christianity by his mistranslation of the Vedas. He wrote to a friend: “India is much riper for Christianity than Rome or Greece were at the time of St. Paul.” In another letter, he wrote: “...the old mischief of the priest-craft could be overthrown and the way opened for simple Christian teachings...” In yet another letter of 1867, he wrote: “There is no country as ripe for Christianity as India is…

The concept of Aryan Race

‘Arya’ is a Sanskrit word. It means cultured and noble. According to the Sanskrit dictionary ‘Amarkosh,’ Arya means “one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct.” Never in the entire history of Sanskrit literature the word Arya has been used to indicate a biological race. The discredit for using it, as such, goes to Max Muller. At that time, he could not have foreseen that it would be utilized by Hitler to forge the concept of a superior race of Aryan Germans, and then to unleash the World War-II, in which millions died.

The Aryan race concept was so far confined to linguistics. In due course of time, it became an instrument of asserting ‘white supremacism’ over all other people. In due course, the original construction of the Central Asian origin of Aryans was discarded by Nazis. In its place, ancient Germany was promoted as the place of their origin or the place, where the original Aryan ethnicity has been preserved. Hitler claimed it, with devastating consequences to the world.

To be fair to Max Muller, he did retract his earlier stance that Aryans constituted a race, after about 25 years of his such pronouncement. But it was too late by then. The idea of race had caught on, and it could not be erased from the perception of the general masses.

AIT in service of British Imperialism

The missionary-scholar Max Muller was also a colonial- mercenary. He was bound by duty to serve British colonial interest. He enlarged upon the theory propounded by Sir William Jones and Franz Bopp that Sanskrit, Greek and Latin have sprung from a ‘common source,’ i.e. the Proto Indo-European (P.I.E) language. Muller held that the people who spoke the PIE belonged to Aryan race, and lived somewhere in central Asia, near the Caspian Sea. A group of these Aryans migrated westwards to Europe in the second millennium B.C., while the other group moved southwards to Iran, which is sometimes described as the origin of Indo-Iranians. A splinter group of Indo-Iranians migrated to India via Afghanistan, which came to be described as Indo-Aryan. Thus, the European and Indian languages are derived from a ‘common source,’ and the Europeans (descendants of Indo-Europeans) and Indian Brahmans (descendants of Indo-Aryans) are related by blood ties. In his article 'The Veda,’ written in 1853, Max Muller wrote: “There was a time, when the ancestors of Greeks, Italians, Persians and Hindus were living together beneath the same roof, separate from the ancestors of the Semitic and the Turanians.” He further wrote in his book 'Ancient Sanskrit Literature' (1859): “Although Brahmans of India belong to the same family which civilized the whole Europe, the two great branches of that primitive race were kept asunder, for centuries, after separation.” Here, not very subtly, he was suggesting that British and Indian Brahmans belong to the same family, and for this reason the Indians should welcome the British subjugation.

In this context, the statement of the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, made in 1929 may also be cited: “Now after ages, the two branches of great Aryan ancestry have been brought together by providence. By establishing British rule in India, God said to British: ‘I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation…It is your duty to raise them to your level, brothers as you are.’

Dating Aryan Invasion under AIT

Max Muller gave the 12th Century B.C.E. as the time for the composition of the Rig Veda in India by the invading Aryans. At that time, the declaration of Archbishop Usher that the world was created on Sunday, the 23rd of October 4004 B.C.E. was a widely-held belief in Europe. Within this time frame, Max Muller arbitrarily adjusted the Aryan invasion of India to the 15th century, and composition of the Rig Veda in the 12th century B.C.E. He did not give any evidence or reasoning for arriving at these dates, yet these dates were accepted as gospel truth by colonial historians and unquestionably by their Indian lackeys. These dates served to deny the antiquity of the Rig Veda, which Indians had traditionally claimed. It also showed the foreign origin of the Rig Veda, and thereby of the entire Indian heritage. It additionally served to demoralize Indians, and shake their faith in their traditional beliefs. In essence, Max Muller’s entire scholarship was directed to create fertile ground for conversion to Christianity and acceptability of British rule by Indians.

Final touches to AIT by Sir Mortimer Wheeler

The entire construction of the Aryan race, supposedly originally living in central Asia and subsequently migrating from there to invade Europe and India and which supposedly composed the Rig Veda in India in the 12th century, was solely based on linguistic assumptions. It lacked corroborative archaeological evidence. The British Archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler sought to fill this lacuna.

The remains of a highly developed civilization were discovered two decades after the death of Max Muller, in the archeological excavations of Mohanjodaro and Harappa on the banks of river Sindhu (Indus) in the 1920s. This civilization’s roots, as per the latest investigations, go back to about 7000 B.C.E. (Romila Thaper; The Penguin History of Early History of India, page 77). The civilization’s remains revealed a town planning not known to Europe until the 19th century. The straight roads, uniform houses, underground drainage systems, standardized weights and measures, citadels, community bath tanks and granaries found in the remains showed the existence of a strong centralized authority. This civilization was variously called as Indus Valley Civilization or Harappan Civilization. Ever since the discovery of river Saraswati, it is also called the Indus-Saraswati Valley Civilization (ISVC). While excavating at Harappan sites, Wheeler discovered a fortification wall around one of the mounds, and some skeletons. He concluded that these constitute the missing archaeological evidence in support of the AIT.

Wheeler held that the skeletons are the evidence of the conflict between invading Aryans and indigenous Dravidians, the authors of Harappan civilization. In support of his conclusion, he cited a reference from the Rig Veda, where Indra (Vedic god) is described as 'Purander' (meaning “destroyer of cities”), reflecting the destruction of the Dravidian Harappan cities by invading Aryans. He thus tried to hedge a purely linguistic construction of the Aryan invasion with archeological evidence. It is a different matter that the archaeological evidence cited by him turned out to be fake, as will be discussed subsequently.

In conclusion, the entire construction of a Proto Indo-European (PIE) language speaking Aryan race, who lived somewhere in central Asia, and migrated to Europe and India via Iran and Afghanistan was conceived and propagated to serve British colonial interest. It was entirely based on assumptions, not supported by any hard evidence of archeology, literature or anthropology. But it served the purpose for which it was formulated well.

The Aryan-Dravidian Divide: the Byproduct of AIT

Divide and rule is the basic guiding principle of all imperial powers. The British colonialists, too, were guided by this time-tested ‘mantra.’ The AIT implied that the Aryan invaders pushed out the indigenous Dravidians from Harappan sites to South India. It invented a racial divide between North and South Indians, to weaken Indian nationalism. It fomented anti-North Indian sentiment amongst South Indians, for the imaginary cruelties perpetrated by North Indian ancestors against their ancestors, some 3000 years ago. Jyotiba Phule, one of the South Indian leaders of the so called 'depressed classes' vented this sentiment, when he wrote: “Recent researches have demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that the Brahmans are not the aborigines of India...probably 3000 years ago, the Aryan progenitors of present day Brahman race descended upon the plains of Hindukush...The aborigines whom the Aryans subjugated or displaced appear to have been brave and hardy people, from the determined front they offered to interlopers... The cruelties the early European settlers practiced upon the American Indians, had certainly their parallel in India, in the advent of Aryans, and their subjugation of the aborigines.”

In due course, the hostility of South Indians towards Brahmins (the alleged descendents of Aryans) got generally transferred to all North Indians, which is the basis of all the political activity in southern Indian States. Fuelled by this sentiment, Ramaswami Naiker founded a political party named the ‘Justice Party,’ the first Dravidian Party of Tamil Nadu. In 1939, he put forward the demand for “a separate homeland for Dravidians who spoke Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada and who were ethnically different from Aryans of the rest of India.” It must have greatly pleased the British to know that the seeds of division sown by them were germinating. In contemporary times, even after the collapse of AIT, the two Dravidian Parties, D.M.K. and A.I.D.M.K., the descendants of Justice Party in the Tamil Nadu State of south India, continue to thrive on anti-Aryan and anti-North Indian propaganda, and rule the State alternatively.

The false basis of AIT

The British archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler cited discovery of human skeletons on Harappan sites as proof of the Aryan invasion, and their conflict with the indigenous Dravidians, who were the authors of that civilization. If this were true, the skeletons should have been found in the last level of occupation of that site. But skeletons were excavated from different levels of excavations. Besides, in the excavations, no weapons, armors or broken parts of the chariots, etc., were found. The skeletons were not found to be racially different, as being of invaders, and of the indigenous defenders. There was no evidence of mass-scale killing, as found in a war. This belies the Aryan invasion theory. Prof. G.F. Dales, formerly of University of California, Berkeley, USA, rebutted Wheeler's theory of massacre of indigenous people by invading Aryans; he described it as mythical massacre in his article by the same name.

Max Muller had held that Aryans were shepherds, and described the Vedas as songs of shepherds, and their culture as rural and pastoral. As per Wheeler, the civilization of Harappans, authored by indigenous Dravidians, was superior, urban and commercial, which was destroyed by and barbaric invading Aryans. He cited Rig Veda in support of his contention, where Indra (Vedic god) has been described as “Purander" (“destroyer of cities”). He implied that Aryans, as pastorals, did not know how to live in cities, and therefore took pride in destroying cities. But he stands contradicted by the Rig Veda itself. The Rig Vedic people were not pastoral people who only lived in villages; they also built forts for their defense (R.V.4.30.20, 7.15.14, 10.101.8). They also built ships and forded seas to trade with distant lands (R.V. 9.33.6, 1.116.5). They prayed for the destruction of cities of their enemies, and not of all cities.

The date of the composition of the Rig Veda, as given by Max Muller, also stands contradicted today. Rig Veda mentions river Saraswati 60 times, and river Ganga only once. This shows that the Rig Veda was composed on the banks of river Saraswati. Furthermore, the Rig Veda describes river Saraswati as 'superior most mother,' 'superior most river,' and 'superior most goddess' (R.V. II-41-16). It also mentions that Saraswati, like a great ocean, appears with her ray; she rules our inspiration. (R.V.I-3-12). This shows that the Rig Veda was composed when river Saraswati was flourishing, in its full glory (it had not dried up by that time). According to various studies and hydrological investigations and imaging by 'Landsat' satellite, the river Saraswati had completely dried up by 2000-1900 B.C.E. These studies and investigations place the composition of the Rig Veda any time before 2000 B.C.E. It may have been composed between 4000 to 3000 B.C.A., when the river Saraswati was flourishing and in full bloom. Thus, it negates the date of 1200 B.C.E. given by Max Muller for the composition of the Rig Veda.

Aryan-Dravidian Divide: False Foundation

One aspect of AIT is that the Harappan sites were inhabited by the Dravidians, and that Aryans invaded and pushed Dravidians out of their lands to South India. The biggest flaw of this construction is that, so far, not an iota of evidence has surfaced in its support.

South India could not have been uninhabited before the Aryan invasion. How did south Indians accept the Dravidians from the Harappan sites without resistance? There is no evidence of any such resistance or conflict.

Had the Dravidian people been pushed out of their Harappan sites by the Aryans, as suggested by the AIT, one expects that they would have set up Harappan settlements in South India. But so far, not even a single site has been found with signs of Harappan culture in any of the four States of South India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnatak, Tamil Nadu and Kerala). Prof. B.B. Lal argues, “On the other hand, we have in South India about that time a neo-lithic culture. Do then proponents of Harappan=Dravidian equation expect us to believe that urban Harappans on being sent away to South India, shed away overnight their urban characteristic and took to Stone Age way of living?”

Further, had the Dravidian speaking people been pushed out of the Harappan civilization sites, there would have been some names of mountains, rivers, towns etc. in that area bearing Dravidian names. In Fiji Islands in the South Pacific, the river Rewa and a township Samabula continue to be called by names given by Melanesians, even after it became a British colony. In the USA, even though European immigrants set up cities like San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles etc., Chicago and Massachusetts and rivers Mississippi and Missouri continue to bear the names given by the Red Indians, the original residents of the land. As not even a single river, mountain or town in the area occupied by Harappan civilization has Dravidian name, the conclusion is inevitable that Dravids were never the residents of the land, and the AIT is false in this regard.

It is argued that the discovery of ‘Pashupati Seals’ and ‘Ling-Yoni’ symbols of Siva at Harappan sites show their Dravidian origin, because Siva is a Dravidian god. This is not true. Siva is an ancient Aryan god, too, who finds mention in the Rig Veda. The Vedic god Indra is called Siva several times in the Rig Veda. (R.V. (2:20:3, 6:45:17, 8:93:3).

AIT and the genetic investigations

Recent genetic investigations by The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, India, along with researchers of Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, Broadway Institute of Harvard and M.I.T. USA negate the AIT and the AMT. In 2009, these institutions “analyzed half a million genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 ethnic groups from 13 states in India across multiple caste groups. The study asserts, based on the impossibility of identifying any genetic indicators across caste lines, that castes in South Asia grew out of traditional tribal organizations during the formation of Indian society, and was not the product of any Aryan invasion and "subjugation" of Dravidian people.” This is conclusive evidence that the Aryan-Dravidian divide is a myth, and that there is no genetic distinction between North and South Indians. This thus demolishes the AIT that North Indians are descendents of Aryan invaders and South Indians are descendents of non-Aryans, who were the original inhabitants of the Sapt-Sindhu area.

K.A.R. Kennedy and his colleagues made a special study of pre and proto-historic skeletons found in archaeological excavations all over India. They concluded that “As for the question of biological continuity within the Indus Valley, two discontinuities appear to exist. The first appears between 6000 to 4500 B.C.E…The second appears some time after 800 B.C.E. but before 200 B.C.E.” (Quoted by Makkhan Lal, Aryan Invasion Update, Eternal India, July 2009, page 63). This also denies the Aryan invasion of or migration to India in 1500 B.C.E., as propounded by ‘invasionist’ historians.

A ‘Mitochondrial DNA Test’ carried out by Kivishield and his colleagues shows that “…the percentage and types of Western Eurasian genes present among South Indians and North Indians are almost the same. This fact establishes that there is no difference between South Indian and North Indian gene pool and the same goes against the Aryan Invasion Theory.”

Aryan Migration Theory

After the collapse of Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), the supporters of AIT have lined up in support of the Aryan Migration Theory. Supporters of AIT, who now put forward the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT), are unanimous that the Aryans migrated to India in or around 1500 B.C.E.

The eminent Marxist historian R.S. Sharma writes that “On their way to India, the Aryans first appeared in Central Asia and Iran…A little earlier than 1500 B.C.E., the Aryans appeared in India.”

Romila Thaper, the Indian historian and longtime supporter of AIT, and now upholder of Aryan Migratio Theory, also holds that “by 1500 B.C.E., the Aryans began to arrive in India.” While conceding that the AIT is no more tenable, she further writes, “The more accepted theory is that groups of Indo-Aryan speakers gradually migrated from Indo-Iranian border-lands and Afghanistan to northern India, where they introduced the language...The migrations were gradual and not disruptive of settlements and cultures. There is also the argument that there were dissident groups that had broken away from the old Iranians whose ideas and culture came to be encapsulated in Avesta. There is significant reversal of meaning in concepts common to both Avesta and Rig Veda.”

She also writes: “…Originally the old Iranians and Indo-Aryan speakers were a single group, but dissensions led to their splitting up. It was then that the Indo-Aryan speakers living in the Indo-Iranian borderlands and the Haraxwati (Saraswati) area of Afghanistan gradually migrated to the Indus plains, bringing with them their language, rituals and social customs, to settle as agro-pastoralists, in ‘sapta-sindhu’ area, as described in the Rig Veda, later merging with local population.

Romila Thaper has the following contentions in support of the Aryan Migration Theory (AIT):

1. The Vedic ‘Aryans’ and the Avestan ‘Airiians’ (the ancient Iranians) were a single group. They lived together. But the religious dissensions led to their splitting. The dissident group migrated from their common homeland.

2. Iran was their common homeland. After the schism, the Indo-Aryans, who constituted the splinter group, migrated from Iran to the ‘Sapt-Sindhu’ area in India via Afghanistan..

Of the aforesaid two formulations, there can be no doubt that ample evidence exists for the first. But she has given no substantial evidence in support of the second.

Vedics and Avestans: One people

It is true that the people of ‘Avesta’, the ancient Iranians, call themselves ‘airiia’ and the Vedic people call themselves as ‘arya.’ The languages of ‘Avesta’ and Rig Veda are so similar that they almost look like two versions of the same language. The affinity between the two languages can be seen in the similarity of the vocabulary, as exemplified below:

Indian Vedic words Iranian Avestan Words

Som Haome

Daasa (Slave) Daaha

Sapt Sindhu (land of seven rivers) Hept Hindu

Dugdh (milk) Dugdova

Amar (Immortal) Amartat

Ahi (Snake) Azee

Aryavrat (Land of Aryas) AiraiVaez

Yagya (Fire sacrifice) Yashna

Vayu (Air) Vayu

Mitra (Sun) Mitra

Aapah (Water) Aab

Chakshu (Eye) Chashm

The unmistakable similarity between the two languages leaves no doubt that the Avestan and Vedic people belong to the same family, who lived together at some point of time, but got separated later on.

This separation was due to a conflict over their belief systems, which is evidenced by reverse attributes of the gods in the two cultures. In Rig Veda, the words Dev and Sur mean a god; and Asur means a demon. Contrary to it, in Avesta, Daiv is synonymous with devil or demon, and Asur means god. Similarly, in Rig Veda, while Indra is a god, in Avesta he is a demon.

The above narration leads to the definite conclusion that Vedic ‘aryas’ and Avestan ‘airrias’ were one people, speaking the same language, who lived together before they split due to religious differences.

Now it is to be decided where the two people lived together as one people, before the religious schism, that divided them and caused one group to migrate. It could be either Iran, as suggested by Romila Thaper, where ‘Asur’ (non-Sur) worshipping ‘airiians’ lived and from where ‘Sur’(Dev)-worshipping Vedic Aryans migrated to the Sapt-Sindhu area in India. Or it could be the Sapt-Sindhu area in India, where the two groups lived together as one people, and when religious differences arose between them, the ‘Asur’-worshipping dissidents migrated to Iran via the Haraxwati area of Afghanistan.

Romila Thaper does not give any credible evidence in support of her contention that the Aryans migrated from Iranian borderlands via Afghanistan to India. Her contention is based on pure conjecture. The fact that the Haraxwati area and Haryu river in Afghanistan have names similar to Saraswati and Saryu rivers in India has led her to conclude that Aryan migrants from Iran passed through Afghanistan. Upon reaching India, they named rivers in India Saraswati and Saryu, in memory of the rivers they came across in Afghanistan. This is based on an insecure foundation of pure assumption. There is not even an iota of evidence to support it.

Alternatively, it is also likely that the Aryans from India may have migrated to Iran via Afghanistan, and on their way, named some areas and rivers in memory of those rivers, they had left behind in India.

Thus, the argument that the Aryans migrated to India from Iran is not proved, beyond reasonable doubt, and therefore it is untenable.

Dating Rig Veda and Avesta

Romila Thaper states that for Avesta, the ancient Iranian scripture “a mid-second millennium B.C.E. date is now being accepted.” In contrast, there is definite evidence that the Rig Ved was definitely composed prior to 2000 BCE.

On the basis of satellite imaging and hydrological investigations, it has been finally established that the river Saraswati, which once flowed from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea, dried up in 2000 B.C.E. The Rig Veda describes river Saraswati as the “superior most river” (R.V. 3-23-24) and “like a great ocean” (R.V. 1-3-12). This shows that when the Rig Veda was being composed, the Saraswati was a living and flourishing river that had not dried up. The Rig Veda was thus composed before its drying up, i.e. much before 2000 B.C.E. How much before is still to be determined. Dr. Nicholas Kazanus of Greece, on the basis of his studies, is of the opinion that the Rig Veda was composed before 4000-3600 B.C.E. Thus, the Rig Veda is definitely much older than Avesta, composed in 1500 B.C.E.

Logically, it is possible only for the older text to influence a later text, and not otherwise. If there are similarities in the Rig Veda and the Avesta, in content and language, it would only show that Avesta, a later text, is based on the Rig Veda.

The above narration leads to inevitable conclusion that, at some point in time, Vedic people and Avestan people lived together as one people in the Sapt-Sindhu area in India. Due to the religious schism that cropped up between them, the Avestan dissidents broke off from the Vedic people around 1500 B.C.E., or earlier, and moved away from India to Afghanistan and Iran, where they later composed Avesta, based upon the Rig Veda. In their outward journey to Iran, they named some regions and rivers in Afghanistan after the rivers of their original homeland in India.

Vedic people are worshippers of ‘Suras.' The worship of Non-Suras can appear only after the worship of Suras is in place. Thus, the worshippers of Suras must necessarily be older than that of Non-Suras.

It is a universal phenomenon that denial always follows an affirmation. There cannot be a denial, unless there is something to deny. Denial of the existence of God is there, because His existence is claimed. The denial of the existence of God cannot logically precede the belief in His existence. There cannot be an atheist without the prior existence of a theist.

Similarly, there cannot be a worshipper of ‘Asur’ (Non-Sur) or Ahur, the Avestan-God of ancient Iranians, without the prior existence of a worshipper of ‘Sur’, the Vedic Aryan deity or ‘god’ of India. It would be illogical to argue that worshippers of ‘non-suras’ (A-sur or Ahur or non-Vedic deity) of Avestans came into existence before the worshippers of ‘suras’ (Vedic gods) of the Aryans. This conclusively shows that ‘Sur’-worshipping Indo-Aryans or Vedic Aryans, were the original people, living in the Sapt-Sindhu area of India. From amongst them, a dissenting group that worshipped A-Sur or Ahur (Non-Sur) revolted and escaped ed to Iran via Afghanistan. This is supported by various references to such a conflict in ‘Dev-Asur Sangram’ (Battle between Devas i.e. Suras- the deity of Vedic Aryans - and Asurs i.e. non-suras - the God of Avestan Iranians) in Vedic literature, as well as Indian mythology. On their way to Iran, the splinter group named a specific area and a river to commemorate the rivers in India, which it had left behind.

The Aryan Migration Theory

As mentioned above, with the demise of Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), then ‘invasionists’ have come up with a new theory, cale Aryan Migration Theory (AMT). It implies that as a consequence of religious schism amongst Aryans living in Iran, the dissenting group did not invade India; instead it peacefully migrated to India in waves of migrations, and overwhelmed the indigenous people with its culture, language and technology. The Aryan Migration Theory is so untenable, like AIT, because it fails to explain how foreign immigrants, constituting a minor percentage of the indigent population, could totally foist their language, culture, ritual, belief and social order on the brute majority of indigenous people. The Aryan Migration Theory has not been accepted by most historians for this reason.

The Aryan Migration Theory in Reverse

With the demise of Aryan Invasion Theory and Aryan Migration Theory the scholars are gradually moving to the ‘Reverse Aryan Migration Theory’, that implies that Aryan migration that ever took place in ancient times was from India to outside and not from outside into India.

The Aryan Invasion Theory and Aryan Migration Theory that were propounded to explain the affinity of Sanskrit language with some Asian languages, such as those of ancient Iran, Afghanistan, Hittite and Mitanni people, etc. and some European languages, viz. Greek, Latin, Germanic, Baltic, Celtic, Slavic, etc. have failed. But the problem still persists. How one can explain the close affinity between Sanskrit and these languages? When this problem was first addressed by the Royal Asiatic Society in the 1780s, two explanations were put forward. One of these was that Sanskrit influenced the Asian and European languages. But this was not even considered. The conquering British could not consider the language of conquered people ever influencing their language, even in the remote past. This same consideration limited the genuine research of Max Muller, who admitted in 1883: “They would not have it; they would not believe that there could not be any community origin between the people of Athens and Rome, and the so called niggers of India.”

Based on his technical linguistic analysis of Greek, Latin and Germanic languages, Prof. Nicholus Kazanus of Greece has concluded that the original homeland of the Aryans or the Indo-European speaking people was the Sapt-Sindhu area of India. It is from here that they migrated to various pars of Asia and Europe. He writes, “Posting Sapt-Sindhu as the original homeland (of Indo-European language speakers) not only does not create problems, but on the contrary, dissolves all difficulties. For instance: (a) Vedic (language) alone has ‘dhatus’ and on the whole invariable principles in generating verbs and their conjugations and nouns and their declensions etc. (b) Vedic (language) has both ‘augmented Aorist’ (=past tense) like ‘a-dhat’ and ‘anaugmented dhat’ from ‘dha put’. Germanic has only ‘unaugmented’ and Greek only ‘augmented.’ (c) Vedic poetry has both strict meter and alliteration, whereas Greek and Latin have only metrical verses and Germanic poetry has alliterative lines only, without strict meter. (d) No two IE cultures (e.g. Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, etc.) have any IE ‘theonyms’ (=names of deities) to the exclusion of Vedic. On the other hand Vedic has 20 ‘theonyms’ of which Greek has 10, Germanic 8, Italic (=Latin) and Celtic 6 and the others even less.”

The surnames of Indians are often based on the names of the places they are from. For instance, the Maathur surname indicates that the forefathers of the bearer of this surname may have come from the city of Mathuraa, a thousand or two thousand years ago. Similarly, Shrivastaavas owe their surname to the ancient city of Shraavasti, the capitol of the tiny principality of Kosal, where Gautam Buddha had lived during 24 rainy seasons (‘Vassaavaas’). Similarly, the surname Saraswat is of the people who claim that their ancestors are from the Saraswati river region. They migrated from that region about 4000 years ago, when the river had dried up.

A large number of ‘Saaraswats’ belonging to the Brahmin caste are found in the states of Maharashtra and Karnatak. The well-known industrialist Vijay Mallaya and playwright-actor Girish Karnad are Saaraswats. Maya Rao, the renowned choreographer and dance-guru from Banglore, who herself is a ‘Saaraswat’ says that, after migrating from the plains of the river Saraswati, her ancestors had settled near Goa, and thereafter migrated further southwards to Karnatak, some 4000 years ago. ‘Saaraswats’ have Shankaracharya, or a religious Guru of their own. They do not have any record of their migration, but it is part of their race memory, handed down from generation to generation.

Normally the people do not leave the place of their residence en masse, unless compelled by famine, drought, floods, pestilence, foreign invasions, etc. The Jewish patriarch Abraham migrated to Egypt with his people when there was famine in the Jewish land. Similarly, the people from the Sindhu-Saraswati region migrated from there around 2000 B.C.E., when, due to earthquakes and other tectonic changes, the Saraswati river dried up. The Yamuna river also changed its course to flow into the Ganga instead of Saraswati and the river Sutlej changed its course, ceasing to drain into the Saraswati. We now have evidence of these devastating geographical changes in the form of the ‘Saaraswat’ people, whose ancestors migrated eastwards and southwards.

There is every possibility that those fleeing from the Saraswati region may have moved westwards, too, to Iran, Iraq, Syria and other central Asian countries. They may have further moved westwards to Europe. Their spread into these countries is evidenced by the words of the Vedic vocabulary found in the languages of these countries.

After the drying up of Sarswati river around 2000 B.C.E., ‘for a thousand years or more, dynasties and rulers with Indian names appeared and disappeared all over the West Asia,’ confirming the westward migration of Indians. These people may have moved further westward to Europe, whose footprints are found in the European languages, as testified by eminent linguist Prof. Nicholas Kazanus above.

In Conclusion

The Aryan Invasion Theory that had its beginning in the 1780s and that served the British colonial interest for about 150 years has at last collapsed. It was solely a linguistic formulation, based on conjectures and assumptions. In the light of the recent archeological, anthropological, hydrological, geological and genetic investigations, it stands thoroughly demolished.

Yet the ‘invasionists’ have not given up. They still hold that Aryans moved to India in waves of peaceful migrations from Iran, and supplanted the indigenous language, culture and religion, with their own language, religion and culture, which they had brought with them. There are not many takers of this construction. The language and culture of a people can only be replaced when there is an invasion, occupation and coercion. An example of this can be found in the Arab invasion and occupation of Iran and conversion of its people to Islam. The foreign migrants, in miniscule number in proportion to the indigenous population, would be swallowed and assimilated, if they attempted to supplant local culture and language. Further Aryan Migration Theory is equally conjectural and without any substantial evidence. Hence rejected by most scholars.

Against it, the Vedic Aryan migration out of their abode in the Sapt-Sindhu area of India is a reality. We have evidence in the form of living ‘Saraaswats,’ the descendents of those who migrated from the plains of Saraswati river eastwards and southwards in India. It would only be logical to assume that they may have migrated westwards, too. The evidence of their westwards migration is found in Iran, where the language of ancient Iranians as found in Avesta is not much different from that of the Vedas. In fact, today, the language of Avesta can be understood only with the help of Sanskrit. The evidence of their westward migration is further proved by the existence of Sanskrit-based words in most European languages. The syntax and grammar of the ancient Greek language is entirely based on Vedic Sanskrit, which suggests the presence of Vedic Aryans in Greece, after the decline of the Mycenaean Rule.

So far, the Aryan Invasion Theory was taken as an established fact, which nobody ever thought of questioning. Now is the time for out-of-the-box thinking. Now is the time to thoroughly test and examine the alternate theory of the westward Aryan migration out of India, the indication of which exists aplenty.


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