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March 06, 2005
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March 06, 05

Page: 43/44

Home > 2005 Issues > March 06, 05

Who were the Aryans?

Dr Dinesh Agarwal

Beginning with the issue, dated February 27, 2005 we are carrying this comprehensive document on the Aryan Invasion Theory. The writer here deals with all aspects of the controversial issue extensively quoting from authoritative sources.

Real Meaning of the Word ?Arya?

River Narmada starts in central India and River Godavari starts in western India, while River 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, established several mathas (religious and spiritual centres) at Badrinath in the north (UP), Puri in the east (Orissa), Dwaraka in the west (Gujarat), and Shringeri and Kanchi in the south. That is India, that is Bharat, and that is Hinduism.

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 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.? (Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas by Max Muller, 1888, 120 pp)

In Vedic literature the word ?Arya? is nowhere defined in connection with either race or language. Instead it refers to: a gentleman, good-natured, righteous person, nobleman, and is often used like ?Sir? or ?Shree? before the name of a person like Aryaputra, Aryakanya, etc.

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.

In Ramayana (Valmiki), Rama is described as an Arya in the following words: Arya-who cared for equality for all and was dear to everyone.

Etymologically, according to Max Muller, the word Arya was derived from ar, meaning ?to plough, to cultivate?. Therefore, ?Arya? means ?cultivator?, agriculturer (civilised and 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, honourable, 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 Mongolian, 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 cannot 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. Caucasians can be of any colour 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.

Demise of Aryan Invasion Theory - II

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 Caucasion type. According to this study, there is essentially, 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 an Aryan race.

References to Wars in Rig Veda

The voluminous references to various wars and conflicts in the Rig Veda are frequently cited as proof of an invasion and wars between invading white-skinned Aryans and dark-skinned indigenous people. These so-called conflicts and wars mentioned in the Rig Veda can be categorised mainly into the following three types:

  1. Conflicts between the forces of nature: Indra, the thunder-god of the Rig Veda, occupies a central position in the naturalistic aspects of the Rig Vedic 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 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 and 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 Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) proponents interpret this verse literally on the 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.

  2. Conflict between Vedic and Iranian people: Another category of conflicts in the Rig Veda 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 of time in history, because of 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 in 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 Dahas on behalf of the Dahyus, as the Vedic texts depict them on behalf of the deva-worshippers. Indra, the dominant god of the Rig Veda, is represented in the Iranian texts by a demon Indra. What this all indicates is 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. The Vedas even mention the gods of Dasyus as Arya also.

  3. 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.

Archaeological Evidence

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 South Asian 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:

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.

?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 a total of some 37 skeletons, or parts thereof, that can be attributed with some certainty to the period of the Indus civilisation. 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 arrowheads, weapons, pieces of armour, the smashed chariots and bodies of 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.?

(To be concluded)

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