II. The Aryan Invasion Theory
D. The Case Against the Aryan Invasion Theory – Some Overwhelming Evidence
As we have seen, Frederick Max Müller was the most prominent among the European scholars who contributed to the formulation of the myth of the Aryan invasion of India. The archaeological discovery of the buried townships of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in 1922 on the Raavi and the Sindhu rivers respectively was seized upon by the proponents of the AIT as a further support to their cherished beliefs. The first two European directors of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), John Marshall and Moritimer Wheeler twisted this archaeological discovery to make it fit the AIT which, by then, was so established among the historians that they believed that it could not be doubted and that the interpretation of all new evidence, to be authentic, must fall in line with it. Therefore, it did not occur to them that the newly discovered sites may be the material counterpart of the Vedic texts and may have a cultural continuity with the present day culture of North India. Their ignorance or at best only a very superficial knowledge of the Hindu tradition made them commit the most glaring blunders of interpretation which even today hold sway in the official text-book version of the ancient Indian history. It was noted by the above two European archaeologists that:
(i) The Harappan civilisation suddenly came to an end because of its destruction by the invading Aryan hordes. The Harappan people – with their advanced culture – must have been the Dravidians who were driven South by the invading Aryans.
(ii) The absence of horse and rice in the early excavations was taken to mean that the Harappan sites were pre-Vedic since both these are mentioned in the Rigveda.
(iii) The finding of the skeleton remains of a few dozen people was taken as a proof of the Aryan attack and battle and some terra-cotta lumps found were identified as phalluses and taken to mean that the Harappans were worshipers of Shiva – assumed to be primarily a Dravidian god.
It should be pointed out here that Shiva is worshiped throughout the length and breadth of India and cannot be reasonably assumed to be primarily a Dravidian god and that the terra-cotta lumps have been proved to be the measures for weighing commodities – they have been found in perfect integral ratios in the manner of 1,2,5,10 etc. – and have been commonly found in sites as far as Gujarat. Also, further archaeological research has clearly established that the finding of the skeleton remains of a few dozen bodies – given their conditions, location, varying placements in time and absence of any accompanying indications of attack or battle – cannot possibly be taken as a proof of any battle or massacre. Moreover, the negative evidence in the form of the absence of the horse and rice at Harappan sites which was taken as evidence of its Dravidian origin is also no longer tenable in view of the occurance of horse bones and rice at other sites such as Lothal, Kalibangan, Rupor and Mohenjo-Daro.
When a brick-work was dug in 1946, Wheeler was able to identity it as a fortification wall. It was a great discovery but soon his imagination took wings. In the words of B. B. Lal, “This was something extremely new for the Harappan settlements, which were so far thought to have been unfortified. (Now, of course, we know that almost every metropolitan town of the Harappan Civilization was fortified. …) ..an ex-Army Brigadier, Wheeler was so much excited about the discovery that he could not but interpret the fortifications only in terms of an invasion and defence. While he was still churning the whole issue in his mind, he learnt from a visiting scholar of repute that in the Vedas Indra had been referred to as a destroyer of forts (puraÌdara). And lo! Wheeler lost no time in declaring that there was an ‘Aryan Invasion’ which destroyed the Harappan Civilization.”1
If there was any truth in the AIT and the extinction of the Harappans as stipulated by Wheeler, “…one would expect at least some of the other Harappan sites to corroborate the (misconstrued) Mohenjo-daro evidence. But the hard fact is that no other site has yielded any such evidence, be it Amri or Kot Diji, located not far away from Mohenjo-daro, or Harappa itself in the neighbouring Punjab or Kalibangan in Rajasthan or Banawali and Rakhigarhi in Haryana or Lothal, Surkotada and Dholavira in Gujarat. Nor have any material remains of an alien culture been found at any of these site[s]. Indeed, in the entire area covered by the Harappan Civilization nowhere do [we]have either the vestiges of any wanton destruction or the presence of any alien culture. Whether the protagonists of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory like it or not, ‘Indra’ no longer ‘stands accused.’ Indeed, he stands exonerated!”2
Since the above mentioned early findings and speculations based on these, numerous other settlements, now numbering over 2,500 and stretching from Baluchistan to the Ganga and beyond and down to Tapti have been discovered by archaeologists. Thus a valley covering nearly a million and a half square kilometres has been unearthed and more than 75 percent of these sites are concentrated not around Sindhu or Ganga, but along the now dried up Saraswati – a river mentioned as a mighty stream more than fifty times in the Rigveda.
On the basis of extensive research and scholarly work as reported in the writings of scholars such as Rajaram, Oppenheimer, Frawley, S. R. Rao, Lal, Talageri, Sethna, Danino and countless others it has been established beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt that:
(a) The people inhabiting India are from one single stock and there has never been any division on this basis between the so-called Aryans and Dravidians, the Tribals and non-Tribals and the higher and lower caste Indians. As quoted earlier, Swami Vivekananda believed that if the North Indians are Aryans then the South Indians are no less Aryans and that the caste distinctions are also external. If the Brahmins claim that they are Aryans then the Shudras and Untouchables are equally Aryans. Dr. B. R. Ambedakar, after his own independent study of the Veda could see that the AIT was an invention which was necessary for the European scholars because of their gratuitous assumption that the Indo-Germanic people are the purest of the modern representatives of the original Aryan race. He clearly saw that all this had nothing to do with scientific investigation, it was simply preconceived and facts were conveniently selected to prove it.
Bishop Caldwel’s book entitled “Dravidian Grammar” had given rise to many theories and a number of misconceptions about Dravidian languages and culture which were disposed off by the work of R. Swaminathan Aiyar who, some ten years after the serialisation of Sri Aurobindo’s “Secret of the Veda”, carried out extensive research on the so-called Dravidian languages. After a thorough study of the grammar and the roots of these languages, he confirmed Sri Aurobindo’s findings on the deep connection between Tamil and Sanskrit. He found that the basic portion of Dravidian vocabularies consists of words of Indo-Aryan origin though… these words have been greatly corrupted and are very difficult of recognition. According to N.S. Rajaram, “Dravidian languages are strongly inflected like Sanskrit, and cases and declensions are also quite similar… In some ways these so-called Dravidian languages have preserved ancient forms and usages from Sanskrit better than North Indian languages like Hindi.”(Devan Nair, op. cit.)
(b) The Harappan culture came to an end because of the drying up of Saraswati and not because of any invasion from outside. The combined evidence of archaeology, hydrology, geology and radiocarbon-dating has established that the Saraswati river dried up around 2000 B.C. According to Max Muller the Rigveda, which describes Saraswati as a mighty river lying between the Yamuna and the Sutlej, was composed by the Indo-Aryans around 1200 BCE – a few hundred years after their arrival in North India. Here there is a chronological impossibility because if Saraswati had already dried up around 2000 B.C., how could the composer of the Veda describe in glowing terms a river which had dried up and turned into a minor seasonal stream long (about five centuries) before their arrival in India. This takes the bottom out of the whole thing and shows the Veda as belonging to pre-Harappan or at least an early Harappan period i.e. pre-three thousand B.C. at the latest. This means that the so called Indus or Indus-Saraswati Valley civilisation – or at least its last phase – is post Vedic.
(c) B. B. Lal, the former Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, whose work in this field is one of the most important, has proven beyond even a shadow of doubt that there is continuity of the present North Indian Culture with the Harappan culture. He clearly demonstrates the close similarity and an unbroken continuity between the two by comparing them with the help of black and white and coloured plates with respect to numerous items such as: (1) Make-up, Ornaments and Toiletry, (2) Some Crafts, (3) Agriculture, (4) Cooking, (5) Pots and Pans, (6) Pets and Pinjaras (cages), (7) Some Games that Adults and Children Play, (8) Writing and Writing Material, (9) Yoga, (10) Religion and Rituals, (11) Town-Planning and Architecture, (12) Transport etc. The whole evidence is utterly overwhelming and decisive for all impartial observers.
“The Harappans were a literate people, leaving behind more than three thousand seals and other artifacts, many of them with short inscriptions. There is a great deal of uniformity of the types of seals found from different sites, just as the urban planning of the Harappan cities follows similar patterns, though covering a vast geographical region.
Harappan seal writing goes back 5000 years, making it contemporary with the oldest writing of Sumeria. The writing mainly consists of a few letters on small seals. Large inscriptions have yet to be found, rending the decipherment yet more difficult. However, along with the writing there are many symbols, constituting the main form of iconography from the culture. These include many Vedic symbols.…
The writing has remained unread for nearly a century, partly due to the notion that the Harappans were non-Vedic and therefore the language of the seals could not be Sanskrit. Some scholars pointed out that the Harappan script, though complex, bore many similarities to the later Brahmi script used all over India and Greater India for writing Sanskrit, but they were largely ignored.
Using these two as clues, the eminent Vedic scholar and palaeographer Natwar Jha claims a fundamental breakthrough that has enabled him to read a large number of seal inscriptions. Jha’s proposed decipherment shows that the language of Harappan inscriptions is Vedic Sanskrit. It is later than the language of the Rig Veda, similar to the Sanskrit used in the later Vedic literature like the Upanishads. This is exactly what one would expect, considering that the Upanishads, like the Harappans, came after the Rig Veda.”3
(d) In the face of such overwhelming and mounting evidence, the deeply ingrained belief that the Vedic people must have – or at least must be looked upon as having – come from outside has made some scholars (both Indian and occidental) look for other ways of clinging to their cherished belief. Thus came the suggestion that, since, in the early languages of the Indo-European family there are names of some plants such as birch, linden, alder, oak, etc., which belong to a temperate environment, the original homeland of the Indo-Aryan people must have been in such an environment. Commenting on this attempt at backdoor entry, B. B. Lal writes, “…let it be squarely stated that the qigveda, the earliest book of the Aryans, does not mention any of the species of cold-climate trees enumerated above by Possehl. On the other hand, all the trees mentioned in the qigveda, such as the AÙvattha (Ficus religosa L.), Khadira (Acacia catechu Willd.), Nyagrodha (Ficus benghalensis L., Pl. XXIII), Vibhidaka (Terminalia bellerica Roxb.) to name just a few, do not belong to a cold climate but to a tropical one. Likewise, the rigvedic fauna, comprising such species as the lion, elephant, peacock (Pl. XXIV), also belongs to a tropical climate and does not include any species specific to cold climate.
It is thus abundantly clear that Vedic Aryans cannot be pushed in even through a back door, taking refuge under a cold-climate fauna.”4
(e) The AIT is riddled with paradoxes. One more paradox is what David Frawley and Rajaram (Hidden Horizons: Unearthing 10,000 years of Indian Culture: 4-5) have called – the paradox of “a history without a literature, and a literature without a history.” This paradox arises from the Western scholars’ attempt to divide the country between the Aryan and Dravidian cultures. As we have seen before, Aryan is not at all a racial or linguistic term. At the most one can say that the culture and society that derive from or is based on the spirit of the Vedas can be called “Aryan.” It has been the Indian view from times immemorial that there is only one uniform culture in India, call it Dravidian or Aryan. In the former case, one may say that the Dravidians living in North India are called Aryans and in the latter that the Aryans living in the Dravida Country are called Dravidians. We should remember that Dravida is a geographical and not a cultural or racial term. In light of this, the people living in the Dravida country are as much Aryans as any other. This is what Swami Vivekananda, speaking in Madras in 1997, had to say on this issue, “…There may have been a Dravidian people who vanished from here, and the few who remained lived in forests and other places. It is quite possible that the language may have been taken up, but all these are Aryans who came from the North. The whole of India is Aryan, nothing else.”5
Now to return to the paradox which is rooted in the attempt to create a cultural division between the Indians: “…it arises from the fact that the Harappans of the Indus Valley have left profuse archaeological records over a vast region – from the borders of Iran and beyond Afghanistan to Eastern UP and the Tapti Valley. This is an area well over a million square kilometres in extent that must have supported several millions of people, assuming even a moderate population density. And yet these people have left absolutely no literary records. The Vedic Aryans and their successors on the other hand have left us a literature that is probably the largest in the world. But according to the Aryan invasion theory there is absolutely no archaeological record that they ever existed. So we have a concrete history and archaeology of a vast civilization of ‘Dravidians’ lasting thousands of years that left no literature, and a huge literature by the Vedic Aryans who have left behind no history and no archaeological records.
It is also worth noting that the earliest ‘Dravidian’ literature – in Tamil – dates from no earlier than the first century BCE, more than two thousand years after the period when the Harappan society was at its height. This is made doubly paradoxical by the fact that the Harappans we know were literate while the invading Aryans supposedly were not, and yet it is the literature of the illiterate Aryans that has survived; of the literature of the literate Harappans, not a trace is said to have remained.”6
(f) The Vedic Mathematics: The very existence of elaborately planned cities like Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and others presupposes extensive knowledge of geometry going back well into the third millennium B.C. The research in the field of Vedic mathematics undertaken by both the Occidental and Indian scholars traces the origin of mathematics to Sulbasutras and indicates that it preceded the mathematics of both Old-Babylonia (1700 B.C.) and of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (2000-1800 B.C.). This establishes 2000 B.C. as the absolute limit for the Sutra literature which is post-Vedic.
(g) A Technical Evidence: Sethna has established that the Aryans of the Brahamana period had no knowledge of cotton. The Sanskrit word karpasa – the only word in Sanskrit for cotton – makes its appearance for the first time in Indian literature in the early sutras. It is not that the Vedic people did not know about cloth and weaving but they did not know cotton which is a commonly occurring commodity in Harappan sites. This clearly shows that the Vedas are pre-Harappan since cotton has been found at Harappan sites.
(h) The Aryan Invasion Theory in Reverse: “Indian tradition does not recognize any history in the Rigveda; the Indian historical tradition is to be sought in the Puranas and the epics, not the Vedas. The whole problem was created, as we have seen many times, when nineteenth century scholarship tried to interpret the Rigveda as a historical account of invading nomadic people called the Aryans. Indian tradition – the Vedas, the Puranas and the epics – knows of no Aryan homeland but India. Talageri’s work makes clear that a century of scholarship – Indian and Western – has been chasing a mirage looking for accounts of colonial wars of an invading people in the Rigveda. In other words, they sought an ancient replica of nineteenth century European colonization in the Rigveda. Finding none, they imagined one and called it the Aryan invasion.”7
According to Talageri, the Puranas preserve the earliest Indian historical accounts. He claims that the record of migration out of India is chronicled in the Puranas even though “…the Puranas do not appear to be pure historical texts. They are . . a rich mixture of religion, mythology and history.”8 Talageri traces nearly all the ancient Indo-Europeans to India which thus becomes the original homeland of Europeans – a thing now clearly established by the latest genetic research.
(i) In the face of the overwhelming and ever mounting evidence against the AIT, some leftist historians have taken recourse to the reformulation of this theory. “Finding that the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory has no archaeological basis whatsoever, some of those who had once sworn by it have now come out with a new ‘green channel’ to let in the Aryans from outside. Thus, Professor Romila Thapar… spins out the hypothesis: ‘If invasion is discarded then the mechanism of migration and occasional contacts come into sharper focus. The migrations appear to have been of pastoral cattle breeders who are prominent in the Avesta and rigveda,’
A close compeer of Thapar, Professor R. S. Sharma, amplifies this concept. Says he… ‘…The pastoralists who moved to the Indian borderland came from Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex or BMAC which saw the genesis of the culture of the rigveda,
Evidently, both Thapar and Sharma are still under the spell of the 19th century paradigms according to which (i) the Aryans were nomads and (ii) they must have come from outside. But have these learned scholars even once had a look at the cultural components of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC)? Perhaps not. Had they cared to do so, they would have straightaway realized that the authors of the BMAC are not ‘pastoral cattle breeders’. …they had all the trappings of urbanism, be it town-planning (including well laid-out temples and palaces), excellent metal industries, superb works of art in limestone, chlorite and gold, intricately carved seals, and so on. Further, none of the characteristic features of the BMAC ever entered the territory east of the Indus…”9
(j) Indian History – The two Contradictory Versions: The early beginnings of Indian civilisation – what we know of it today – are shrouded in obscurity or controversy because the traditional version of these as contained in the Puranas, the Itihasas (the Epics) and other Sanskrit texts is contradicted by the modern version put forward by modern historians who start dating Indian historical events only from around 1500 centuries B.C. beginning with the hypothetical Aryan invasion of India.
The obstinate insistence on the modern version continues in spite of overwhelming evidence against it and in the face of a traditional history with its total absence of extraterritorial memory. The whole controversy should be viewed in the light of the fact that, “…the traditional version is the only version which was known in India from time immemorial, till the Aryan invasion theory was mooted by Europeans in the 18th century. Before this Aryan invasion theory was mooted, no one, in India or anywhere else, had ever thought of the possibility that the ancient Indians could be classified as ‘Aryans’ and ‘pre-Aryans’, and that those classified as ‘Aryans’ could be supposed to have come from somewhere outside India and taken over the land from the ‘pre-Aryans’. This theory is, therefore, purely a product of the 19th century.”10
1. How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology Answers, Lal, B. B., Aryan Books International, 2009, p.96-97
2. Ibid, p.98
3. Hidden Horizons: Unearthing 10,000 years of Indian Culture, Rajaram, N.S. & Frawley, David, Swaminarayan Aksharpith, Ahemdabad, 2007, p.89-90
4. How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology Answers, Lal, B. B., Aryan Books International, 2009, p.99-100
5. Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol.3, p.292, Mayawati Memorial Edition,
6. Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization: A Literary and Scientific Perspective, Rajaram, N.S. & Frawley, David, Voice of India, 2001, p.15
7. Ibid, p.234
8. The Aryan Invasion Theory A Reappraisal, Talageri, Shrikant, Aditya Prakashan, 1993, p.12
9. How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology Answers, Lal, B. B., Aryan Books International, 2009, p.100-01
10. The Aryan Invasion Theory A Reappraisal, Talageri, Shrikant, Aditya Prakashan, 1993, p.13