(HINDU SPIRITUAL SYSTEM)
ARYAN INVASION MYTH
The myth that Aryans were not the indigenous people and the theory of Aryan invasion theory came from British scholars, missionaries and rulers to deepen the divisions in Hindu society and exacerbate caste conflicts. The Aryan invasion theory has been used for political and religious advantage in a way that is perhaps unparalleled for any historical idea. The bogey of Aryan and Dravidian races was unknown prior to the nineteenth century either in the north or the south India. It was also raised by Britishers. Attempts were made to trace the origin of the caste system in the Aryan invasion theory and identify Dalits with non-Aryans. British rulers adopted ‘divide and rule’ policy and tried to divide the Hindu society on caste and regional basis, low caste dark-skinned Dravidians and the high caste light-skinned Aryans. Christian and Islamic missionaries have used the theory to denigrate the Hindu religion as a product of barbaric invaders and promote their efforts to convert Hindus.
Indian history, particularly of ancient India, has been obscured and confused. If you want to weaken a nation, distort its history. If you want to destroy a community, confuse its ethno-cultural identity and heritage. Western colonial rulers have done this to the ancient Hindu nation in general, and to the history of India in particular. This has been more adversely affected because of the attitude of indifference towards history on the part of Hindu historians, probably because of oppression by Muslim and English rulers. Wrong and misinterpreted history has confused Hindus about their identity and about the antiquity of their heritage. They have questions about the origin of Aryans and about Aryan invasion.We have blindly endorsed most of the ethno-socio-cultural theories, particularly--‘Aryan Invasion of India’, ‘Aryans and Dravidians divide’, ‘Indo--European Family of Languages, which have been expounded by Western scholars with their missionary agenda to confuse our heritage. Our own politicians have remained apathetic, silent, indifferent, and unconcerned. It seems, they have been resisting getting history of ancient India corrected, apparently because of political reasons, fear of losing minority votes.
The Aryan invasion theory has been used to explain both the linguistic and racial differences between the peoples of north and south India, and such differences have been put forth as ‘proof’ of the invasion. As the Aryans were made into a race, so were the Dravidians and the Aryan/Dravidian divide was turned into a racial war, the Aryan invaders versus the indigenous Dravidians of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. By this view the Vedic people promoted the superiority of their race and language and simply drove away those of different races or languages.
In Sanskrit, Aryan is never a racial term but a title of respect. In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Rama is described as an Arya, in following words; “Arya--who cared for equality for all and was dear to everyone.” During the Mahabharata war, when Arjuna told Krishna that he would not fight his opponents—the Kuravas, in the battle, the Lord chastised him in the following words:
“Kutas tva kasmalamidam (Whence is this perilous condition
Visama samuppasthitam come upon thee; this dejection,
Anarya-justam asvargyam un-Aryan like, heaven-excluding,
Akisti-karma, Arjuna” disgraceful, O Arjuna)
(Bhagwad Gita 2.2)
Lord Krishna characterizes Arjuna’s behavior as un-Aryan, because the Aryans were ‘extremely sensitive to higher calls of life, righteousness and nobility, both in thought and action.’
Even the Dravidian kings called themselves Aryan. Nor is there anything in Vedic literature that places the Dravidians outside of the greater Vedic culture and ancestry. Hence to place Aryan against Dravidian as terms is itself a misuse of language. Vedic scholar, Sri Aurobindo has stated that the Dravidian and Sanskritic languages have much more in common and appear to have a common ancestor. Dravidian history does not contradict Vedic history either. It credits the invention of the Tamil language, the oldest Dravidian tongue, to the Rishi Agastya, one of the most prominent sages in the Rig Veda. Dravidian kings historically have called themselves Aryans and trace their descent through Manu (who in the Matsya Purana is regarded as originally a south Indian king). Apart from language, moreover, both north and south India share a common religion and culture. There is no real evidence for any Aryan invasion---whether archeological, literary or linguistic.
Robert Caldwell gave linguistic meaning of Dravida in his ‘Comparative Grammer of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages’; “It is striking how, in the process, the word Dravida underwent the same abusive mis-interpretation as the word Arya, both of which never had any linguistic or racial sense. The meaning of Dravida had always been purely geographical: it first appears in inscriptions as early as the second century BC as dramira, later as dramila or dramida, and was simply synonymous with the word Tamil (from which, in fact, most scholars derive dravida). Later on, it came to mean loosely Southern India, and interestingly, the traditional Pancha-Dravida or five Dravidian regions included Maharashtra and Gujarat.”
Hancock (2002:169) explains how the culture of the ancient India has been scholarly misinterpreted: “The Indus-Saraswati civilization was a literate culture, but the archaeological interpretation of it has been strictly limited to excavated material remains and has never been able to draw upon the civilization’s own texts. This is because all attempts to decipher the enigmatic ‘Harappan’ script have failed, and because (at least until very recently) the Sanskrit Vedas were regarded as the work of another, later culture and were assumed to have had nothing to do with the Indus-Saraswati civilization. In the twentieth century, this approach simply meant that there was no Indus-Saraswati civilization. It was not part of the archaeological picture of India’s past and was never even contemplated. It was, in other words, as ‘lost’ as Plato’s Atlantis until the material evidence that proved its existence began to surface when excavations were started at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in 1920s.”
In his edition of Survey of Hinduism (Sunny, State University of New York Press 1994), Professor Klaus Klostermaier has noted important objections to this theory. He suggests that the weight of evidence is against it and that it should no longer be regarded as the main model of interpreting ancient India. The Aryan Invasion Theory is something, he questions on the evidence. He states (p.34): "Both the spatial and the temporal extent of the Indus civilization has expanded dramatically on the basis of new excavations and the dating of the Vedic age as well as the theory of an Aryan invasion of India has been shaken. We are required to completely reconsider not only certain aspects of Vedic India, but the entire relationship between Indus civilization and Vedic culture." Later he adds (p.38): "The certainty seems to be growing that the Indus civilization was carried by the Vedic Indians, who were not invaders from Southern Russia but indigenous for an unknown period of time in the lower Central Himalayan regions." He questions that difference proposed between Vedic and Indus culture and shows a continuity or possibility of identity between the two. He mentions the data on the Sarasvati river, which according to scientific studies dried up around 1900 BC, the main river of the Vedas.” This means that the Rig Veda must already have been quite ancient by the time of the Harappan Civilization. Since the Harappan Civilization was known to be flourishing in the 3100 - 1900 BC period, the Rig Veda must have been in existence by 5000 BC. This now receives archaeological support following R.S. Bisht’s investigation of the great Harappan city of Dholavira. Bisht (and other archaeologists) have concluded; “that the Vedic Aryans of the Saraswati heartland were the people who created the Harappan cities and the civilization associated with it”.
Ancient Mohenjo-Daro. Mohenjo-Daro Figure of a king or of a preist.
Archaeologist Paul-Henri Francfort, who studied the Saraswati region at the beginning of the nineties,found out that the Saraswati had "disappeared", because around 2200 B.C., an immense drought reduced the whole region to aridity and famine.He writes; “most inhabitants moved away from the Saraswati to settle on the banks of the Indus and Sutlej rivers”.The Rig Veda, describes India as it was before the great drought, which dried-up the Saraswati,which means the Indus or Harappan civilisation was a continuation of the Vedic epoch, which ended approximately when the Saraswati dried-up.
Lieut. Col. F. Wilford, in the Asiatic Society of Bengal’s research series, led by William Jones (1746-94), section: “On the Ancient Geography of India” (Vol. XIV, pp.374-376), says; “that some Puranas have information about the names of some mansions, geographical tracts, mountains, rivers, etc., but without any explanations about them.”
The historian Graham Hancock, in ‘Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization’ (2002, p.116), remarks: “Almost every thing that was ever written about this (Indus) civilization before five years ago is wrong.” Hancock concludes that during most of the twentieth century, the archaeological record refused to reveal evidence of the Indus civilization’s long period of development. This created a vacuum, a dark hole in history, European scholars took advantage of. Hancock further remarks: “European scholars felt free to conclude that the Indus Valley civilization might, in its origin, have been alien to India.”
There are numerous early critics, both Western and Indian, of Aryan invasion theory, from its inception. The Indian critics such as Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Shri B. R. Ambedkar and other prominent scholars.
Lord Colin Renfrew, the well-known British archaeologist, rejected the idea of an Aryan invasion on the evidence of the Rig-Veda (something many Indian scholars and masters, from Swami Vivekananda to Sri Aurobindo, had done earlier): “As far as I can see, there is nothing in the Hymns of the Rig Veda which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking populations were intrusive to the area.... Nothing implies that the Aryas were strangers there.”
Mountstuart Elphinstone, a British historian and statesman, wrote in his 1841, History of India: “Neither in the Vedas, nor in any book ... is there any allusion to a prior residence ... out of India.... There is no reason whatever for thinking that the Hindus ever inhabited any country but their present one.”
The French archaeologist Salomon Reinach, writing in 1892 at the height of the Aryan myth, was perhaps the first to reject the very notion of an Aryan race: “To speak of an Aryan race of three thousand years ago is to put forward a gratuitous hypothesis; but to speak of it as if it still existed today is quite simply absurd”.
In 1984 D.L. Heskel wrote: “It is also evident that previous theories of wholesale population migration and invasions... are not acceptable in the light of archaeological evidence” (p 343).
Jim G. Shaffer, another U.S. archaeologist with first-hand experience of Harappan sites, wrote in 1984 an article entitled “Indo-Aryan Invasions: Myth or Reality?” in which he refuted the invasionist framework. His conclusion as regards the archaeological record was: “Current archaeological data do not support the existence of an Indo-Aryan or European invasion into South Asia any time in the pre- or proto-historic periods.
Jean-François Jarrige, a French archaeologist who led excavations at three sites in Baluchistan, noticed important transformations in the course of several millennia, but saw no evidence of Aryan invasions: “Nothing, in the present state of archaeological research ... enables us to reconstruct convincingly invasions that could be clearly attributed to Aryan groups.”
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 Anthropology,BerkelayUniversity,USA,in his‘The Massacre at Mohenjodaro Expedition’ Vol.VI,3;1964, states the following about this evidence: “What of these skeletal remains that have taken on such undeserverd importance? Nine years of extensive excavations at Mohenjodaro (1922-31)—a city of three miles in circuit---yielded a total of some 37 skeletons, or parts thereof, that can can be attributed with some certainty to the period of the Indus civilization. Some of these were found in contorted positions and grouping, 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 states; “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.”
No evidence of any significant invading populations has been found in ancient India, nor have any destroyed cities or massacred peoples been unearthed. So-called Aryan cultural traits like horses, iron, cattle-rearing or fire worship have been found to be either indigenous developments (like iron) or to have existed in Harappan and pre-Harappan sites (like horses and fire worship). No special Aryan culture in ancient India can be differentiated apart from the indigenous culture. Much earlier, chariots and horses were used in Mahabharata war. The Mahabharatha, an encyclopaedia of early Indian history and culture, became a unique history of Dharma amongst all the books of history in the world .The marine archaeologists in India have found enough proof to assert that Mahabharata is not a myth, but history. The discovery of submerged buildings of the legendary city of Dwarka indicates that Indians were masters in town planning and maritime activity, 4,000 years ago. The rise in the sea level in Dwarka is a scientific truth. Studies have proved that the sea considerably and suddenly rose to submerge the city. Harivamsha describes the submerging of Dwarka saying Krishna instructed Arjuna, who was then visiting Dwarka; to evacuate the residents of the city as the sea was going to engulf the city. “On the seventh day (of Krishna saying this), as the last of the citizens were leaving the city, the sea entered the streets of Dwarka.”
Dr. S.R. Rao and his team in 1984-88 (Marine Archaeology Unit), undertook an extensive search of Dwarka, along the coast of Gujarat where the Dwarika Desh temple stands now, and finally they succeeded in unearthing the ruins of this submerged city off the Gujarat coast. Ruins of Dwarka also show a very advanced civilization of at least 4000 years old, which could not be formed by semi-nomadic Aryans coming down from central Asia in1500 BC. The city originally itself could be about 6000 years old. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in his essay ‘Is Krishna a historical figure’ (in ‘Krishna Charita’) has calculated the time of the war described in Mahavarat. According to him, the war took place in about 3700 BC.
By popular tradition, the Kali Age started with the death of Lord Krishna, 35 years after the War. The Kali calendar has a beginning of 3102 BC, therefore, it is thought that the Mahabharata War took place in 3137 BC. The Kali age is supposed to have begun with a grand planetary conjunction. Modern studies using powerful software that can reconstruct the ancient skies indicated that there was actually an approximate conjunction of the planets on Feb 17, 3102 BC as taken by Aryabhata. The traditional time, mentioned by Aryabhata and in the Aihole inscription of 634 AD confirm the date of 3137 BC. The Kurukshetra site itself has structures that go back to about 3000 BC.