2 points | Post submitted by suyash95 155 days ago | 3 comments
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SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Is the Aryan invasion theory so controversial in India because it goes directly into the question of the origin of the Hindu religion?
It’s controversial because it is a racial based theory using linguistics as evidence. The underlying theory behind it is that fair-skinned “Aryan” nomads from somewhere in the northern hemisphere invaded India that was inhabited by dark-skinned aboriginal Dravidians and drove them down to South India and settled the north. According to the 18th and 19th century British the Tamil aka Dravidian people of the south were backward and primitive and the fairer skinned north Indians (Punjabis) were more sophisticated and superior in build and character.
There are a number of issues here.
The Tamil literature is older than Sanskrit and is an extremely refined and polished language with an extensive literature. The Tamil presence in South India has an archeological history of thousands of years. There is not a single reference in any of the Tamil literature to an original homeland outside of South India or of wars with “aryan” invaders.
None of the Sanskrit literature going back over 5000 years mentions a homeland in the arctic circle or an invasion.
“Aryan” is not a racial epithet, it means “noble” and refers to one’s cultural qualifications as being high-minded. The wars mentioned in the Vedas between the Aryans and the Dasyus according to all the native commentators refers not to racial battles but to the eternal cosmic struggle between the powers of chaos represented by the Dasyus and the forces of order represented by Indra and the Aryans.
The ancient archeological sites of Mohenjo Daro and Harrapa in what is now Pakistan were abandoned cities of very high sophistication. None of them show any signs of having been destroyed or conquered by war with invading tribes.
The Vedas for over 5000 years were transmitted orally in complicated mathematical combinations which required many hours of daily study by students subjected to rigorous rules and discipline. The idea that such tuition and transmission could take place on horse-back or in tents of wandering nomads is simply incredible!
This is an excellent article on the subject with references to DNA studies.
Europeans and Indians – divided or united by DNA?
Does Balaji Viswanathan really believe in Aryan invasion theory?
I don't believe in Aryan Invasion Theory, because there was nothing called Aryans [Indo Europeans is the right term], there is no proof for an invasion [of Indian kingdoms] and it is not a theory [more of a speculation]. The Aryan Race: Time to Forget About It?
While I do believe that humans came to South Asia from outside, I just dispute the timing and nature of this migration. Aryan Migration talks of migrations around 1500 BCE, while at the same time we known South Asia is well settled around 500 BCE, the time of Buddha. Buddhist or Jain literature don't talk of massive migrations and Hinduism seems to be well established by the time of the Buddha. We had major cities and empires around at that point.
A few hundred people from the Urals [the region is very thinly populated] who survived the long journey to the subcontinent, settled across a massive region of over 5 million sq km, in unforgiving geography with tropical diseases they are not immunized to, with no major technology - iron or wheel, and built a complex civilization and expanded to tens of millions all in a few centuries is unbelievable. Even settling the US took nearly 5 centuries, with access to both Pacific and Atlantic, with all of modern tools & tech of modern age and with an endless stream of population from a densely populated Europe and most importantly North America that had few major epidemics to threaten. The migration must have occurred over many thousand years and likely predating the Indus Valley civilization.
Let me paste the conclusion of a scholarly work by a team of top historians (The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia)
The Aryan theory is mostly fantasy used by both Indologists and Hindus with the script that a few racially pure [Arya] fair skinned folks riding the chariots just swept past vast chunks of the world, including India, winning the "inferior" dark skinned people who were too weak to fight a handful of invaders. This theory was liked by Hitler, many extremists Hindus as well as many extremist non-Hindus. It is time we put a rest to it.
While I do believe that there is a strong commonality between European, Indian and Iranian cultures and there surely were human migrations, I don't believe in the idea that a vast chunk of India is populated by a handful of outsiders who moved around 3500 years ago. Math doesn't add up there.
Population doesn't add up
India was densely populated as early as 500 BCE based on Arrian's and other outsider accounts of India. To account for 50-100 million people who made India's population then after clearing the vast chunks of the subcontinent battling dense tropical jungles, malaria & other diseases, it requires a few thousand years of migrations and not just couple of centuries.
India has been invaded so many times in the past and so it is not hard to believe that India was invaded by Central Asians. But, in all the invasions we know of since then [of Afghans, Hunas, Europeans], only political control was changed, not the populace. England came with the most modern of invasions and ruled centuries with all the technology, but with little change in the population itself [Anglo Indians form a miniscule population]. So what was so special in the invasions of circa 1500 BCE that was so different from the later invasions that the population itself changed? How did the cold weather people so swiftly get used to India's brutal climate that no subsequent invader really survive?
For a few thousand Central Asians unused to India's weather and diseases, with inferior technology, to just sweep across the subcontinent so efficiently that there is no trace at all for invasions, master agriculture, complete a total domination of culture and multiply into tens of millions requires a major suspension of disbelief. It requires far more proof than what is offered.
One of the migration thesis called the Kurgan hypothesis believes the Aryans migrated into India crossing Mesopotamia. Many of these groups including the Mittanis and Hittites who are closely connected to the Vedas had their own written languages, while the Vedic Indians apparently didn't. How come the Indo-Aryans who migrated past Mesopotamia and whose various branches developed written scripts, forget all that as they enter India? To me, it makes more sense in a reverse migration where the Vedic Indians who didn't have scripts migrated out and learnt written languages as they settled in Mesopotamia and other places creating Mittani, Kassite and Hittite kingdoms.
This is again controversial. There is some evidence that Indians, Central Asians and Iranians have close relationships. But, we also find that the genetic distance between the various castes of north India and those of various Indian tribes and the south Indians is very, very small. In other words, almost all Indians [north and south] have quite close genetics regardless of this Aryan-Dravidan debate.
Also see: Indian ancestry revealed
I again accept that Indians and Central Asians do have strong links, but it is equally likely for sparsely populated Central Asians to come via more denser regions [as tribes were moved around] than a billion nation people with very close genetics to all come from a few thousand people group in 3000 years.
Here is a very good paper that debunks the massive migration around 1500 BCE in a more formal way. Genetics and the Aryan Debate.
Page on sciencedirect.com
Modeling of the observed haplotype diversities suggests that both Indian ancestry components are older than the purported Indo-Aryan invasion 3,500 YBP.
What about the Horse?
Various debaters in this topic beat up the dead horse. The apparent absence of the horse in Indus Valley seals while its copious presence is used as the key support for the Aryan Invasion Theory. In the recent decades far more finds of horses in India have been made. Although the issue is far from solved, the belief that there were no horses in the subcontinent before 2000 BCE is fading away. This is discussed in this book: The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture : The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate and The Horse and the Aryan Debate by Michel Danino
What are the alternatives?
There a few other speculations.
The origin of Indo-Europeans in India is a controversial topic and there is no proof from either side of the debate. On both sides there are vested interests - one group wants to prove Hindu civilization as superior and other group bent upon proving it as inferior. The truth suffers inbetween.
As mentioned above there are far too many holes in a major migration into India 3500 years Before Present. Although there is not much proof yet, my hunch is that the exodus of Indus Valley civilization was the source of Indo-European cultures. IVC a culture that collapsed that time and whose massive population likely migrated all around from their desertified land. I wish there is more research on that.
Also see:Indians are not descendants of Aryans, says new study and ICHR debate on Aryan invasion theory cut short
Who had been living in the Indian subcontinent before Harrappans and where did Harrappans come from?
Originally Answered: Who had been living in Indian subcontinent before Harrappans and where did harrappans come from?
Harappans were south Asians and probably spent many millenia there. There is no evidence of them moving from anywhere else. Indus Valley Civilization represented one major cluster of cities. Before that time people probably lived in small groups. Based on current evidence it was likely that rest of India was either farming or hunting/gathering, but in small groups at around the time of Indus Valley Civilization. Rice and wheat had already been domesticated and so were water buffalo and cows. Thus, it is likely that the life of India at that time was probably not much different from the life in some of the most interior villages of present India.
Previously, there were a lot of theories that Harappans were some different people and then a bunch of horse riding "Aryans" came around 3000 years ago "invading" the subcontinent. The main evidence cited was the similarity of Indian and European languages. It made sense until it didn't. India was densely populated as early as 2500 years ago. How did a handful of central Asians move into south Asia get acclimatized, shift to agriculture, deforest and populate the whole subcontinent all in a few centuries?
To put it in context, you can compare it to the Europeans who came to India 4 centuries ago. There were thousands of Portuguese, English and French who came to settle in India, inter-marrying and governing. They had much better survival tools those mythical Aryans. But, in modern India people of European descent is a very small fraction.
It takes a long, long time to fill up the subcontinent with hundreds of millions of people.
So, what does science say? In the recent years, better theories have emerged on the ancestry of Indians. This wiki page: Genetics and archaeogenetics of South Asia is a good starting point. There are also plenty of other good sources emerging from elsewhere.
Here is a result of a major genetic study that appeared in the National Geographic: The Genographic Project by National Geographic - Human Migration, Population Genetics
What it indicates is that humans came to India about 50,000 years ago and a part of the population from northwest India moved west into Europe and Iran. This genetic data would help address the similarities of Indians, Iranians and Europeans.
Another theory is that instead of splitting from India, the population might have split near Arabia 70,000 years ago with one group heading into India and another into Europe.
As for further evidence, in this book The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa (9780786713349): Stephen Oppenheimer, an Oxford genetic researcher talks much in detail of how the genetic evidence points to the Aryans originating from northwest India before moving into Europe and Central Asia, rather than the other way around.
Finally, Harappans are just south Asians. It is a label for a civilization that emerged there. They were probably not different from us.
Also see:Early human migrations
The Aryan Invasion Myth
Two centuries ago, Max Muller hypothesized that most of the north Indians came from Central Asia about 3500 years ago. These were called the "Aryans" and were hypothesized that these fair skinned guys replaced the much darker "Dravidians" through most of India. Given the linguistic similarities between Indian languages and European ones, this "theory" seemed a plausible one.
This myth readily found political backing. Those who claimed the superiority of upper castes during the British rule, found their European ancestory claim quite advantageous. The racist leaders in Europe were happy to claim the symbols the thousands of years old Indian civilization. The colonial administration used whatever they could do to divide India. Later the South Indian politicians used this to claim how the north Indians & upper castes were outsiders while the south Indian Dravidians were indigeneous.
Various recent genetic researches have poked too many holes in this loose theory. Here are a sample of current studies.
Indian ancestry revealed
..most Indians are a genetic hotchpotch of both ancestries, despite the populous nation's highly stratified social structure. "All Indians are pretty similar," says Chris Tyler-Smith, a genome researcher at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge, UK.
Genetics and archaeogenetics of South AsiaThe haplogroups of South Asia don't reveal any big north-south divide.
IBM's major genetic project shows how humans arrived in India from the Arabian route before separating towards Europe and East Asia. Both the north and south Indians came through the same route and formed from the same population.
The Genographic Project Confirms Humans Migrated Out of Africa through Arabia
More than 50% of South Asians have Indian ancestry: study The genetic affinities of both the ancestry components are incompatible with substantial gene flow into the region during Max Mueller's purported Indo-Aryan invasion 3,500 years ago.
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