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Aryan Invasion/migration Theories & Debates -2
The Paleolithic Indo-Europeans

Back in the days when J.R.R. Tolkien was studying what was then called philology, the history of Indo-European was seen as the key to a remote and romantic era, a time of of great migrations and epic conquests. That sweeping vision of past glories was what first attracted me to historical linguistics as well.

It was taken for granted in the early 20th century that the prehistoric past could best be understood in terms of warfare and colonization, just like the present. Wherever archaeological evidence suggested a change in culture, the assumption was that one people had replaced another -- or, at the very least, had subjugated another and become their rulers. And the wide distribution of certain language families was taken to mean that their original speakers had been particularly powerful and ruthless warlords.

In particular, the presence of Indo-European languages everywhere from England to India was assumed to have been a product of the invention of horse-chariot technology shortly after 2000 BC. The original Indo-Europeans were imagined as a horde of aristocratic Bronze Age warriors who came hurtling out of the steppes, overwhelming the simple peasant cultures of Europe and even toppling the supposedly decadent high civilization of the Indus Valley.

Despite its troubling racist overtones, that point of view was still dominant when I went to college in the 1960's. However, by the 1970's it had started to lose ground. I remember being particularly startled when I read a book called Bronze Age migrations in the Aegean; archaeological and linguistic problems in Greek prehistory (1973) and discovered that there hadn't actually been very much Bronze Age migration in the Aegean. Even the Mycenaeans -- who had previously been considered a prime example of invading Indo-European chariot-warriors -- were now reassessed as a purely local development.

That reassessment created real problems. If the ancestors of the Myceneans were already living in Greece by 2300 BC -- before the invention of the horse-chariot -- they could not have arrived as horse-chariot warriors. And if the chariot-warrior explanation of Indo-European expansion no longer held true for the Greeks, then perhaps it no longer held true anywhere.

So what was the secret of the Indo-Europeans? If they were not the masters of an irresistible new form of military technology, then just what was the special advantage that had enabled them to expand so dramatically?

By the 1980's, it was also becoming clear that the conventional date for the Indo-European migration had to be off by not merely a few centuries, but thousands of years. The earliest known Indo-European languages -- Mycenaean Greek, Hittite, and Sanskrit -- were already far more divergent in the second millennium BC than the offshoots of Latin, such as French and Italian, are today. This suggested that their common ancestor must have been spoken not around 3000 BC, as formerly assumed, but well back in the Neolithic.

Such a radical redating suggested an equally radical solution to the problem of Indo-European dispersion. The central premise of this new hypothesis, as presented by Colin Renfrew in Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins (1988), was that the secret of the Indo-Europeans was agriculture. They were, he argued, the people who originally brought the Neolithic to Europe from Anatolia. It was not force of arms but rather the ability of farming to support a greater population that had enabled them to outbreed and eventually absorb the small Mesolithic hunting bands.

This new scenario seemed both plausible and exciting. Not only did it greatly expand the historical depth of Indo-European linguistics, but its image of peaceful agriculturalists generously accepting more primitive hunters into their society was very much in tune with the political biases of the time. Although Renfrew's suggestion of Anatolia as the Indo-European homeland was never universally accepted, it did seem as though a Neolithic hypothesis of some sort would ultimately provide the best solution to the puzzle.

However, in recent years, the agriculturalist theory has been undermined in turn by the hard facts of genetic analysis. It seems that the Neolithic farmers who entered Europe from the Near East and North Africa were the source of no more than 20% of present-day European DNA, with the other 80% going back to the Paleolithic. Apparently the farming folk, rather than multiplying rapidly and assimilating small bands of primitive hunters, were themselves the ones who were assimilated. And, as Renfrew himself had pointed out, except in the special case of imperial conquest -- which was unknown before the rise of civilization -- it is unheard of for the language of a limited number of intruders to supplant that of the natives.

The DNA evidence also creates problems for the alternative theory that Indo-European was originally the language of certain inhabitants of the Balkans, who acquired agriculture from the east at an early date and spread it throughout the rest of Europe. It seems that Europeans just haven't moved around very much since they reoccupied the northern part of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. For example, when a nine thousand year old skeleton from Cheddar, England was subjected to DNA testing in 1997, it turned out that a local schoolteacher was an almost direct descendent.

In light of the DNA evidence, it is now being acknowledged that all the earliest agricultural societies in Europe show considerable similarity to the non-farming cultures that preceded them. It seems like an obvious conclusion that if there was both genetic continuity and cultural continuity during this major transition, there must have been linguistic continuity as well.

But if the spread of Indo-European can no longer be attributed to either Bronze Age conquest or Neolithic population replacement, what does account for it? The more precise our knowledge of DNA patterns grows, the harder it is to fit an Indo-European migration in anywhere. Indo-European has been reduced to a kind of ghostly presence, with no firm ties to either history, archaeology, or genetics. Instead of being the essential key to the thought and actions of past times, it has become an irrelevance -- almost an embarrassment.
Western civilization over the last few centuries has been oddly schizoid. We often claim that we value freedom and creativity above everything else, and yet we trace our cultural pedigree back to the hierarchic despotisms and state-mandated religions of the ancient Near East. Today, with the contest between freedom and repression once again coming to a head, it seems more important than ever to locate our historical roots not in despotism, but in the most radically innovative and imaginative cultures of the past.

I believe that most of our cultural heritage as Westerners -- including the ultimate foundations of science and democracy -- can be traced back to the self-reliant, inventive folk who tested themselves against the rigors of the Ice Age steppes and found they could thrive even in the harshest of circumstances. If we can reconceive of the proto-Indo-Europeans not as conquering warriors and empire-builders, not as earthbound tillers of the soil, and not as uncouth barbarians needing to be civilized by outside impositions of regularity and discipline, but rather as imaginative, creative, magical thinkers, we may find a fitting model by which to renew ourselves and our society.
<!--QuoteBegin-HareKrishna+Aug 2 2009, 01:43 AM-->QUOTE(HareKrishna @ Aug 2 2009, 01:43 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Paleolithic Indo-Europeans 

By the 1980's, it was also becoming clear that the conventional date for the Indo-European migration had to be off by not merely a few centuries, but thousands of years.  The earliest known Indo-European languages -- Mycenaean Greek, Hittite, and Sanskrit -- were already far more divergent in the second millennium BC than the offshoots of Latin, such as French and Italian, are today.  This suggested that their common ancestor must have been spoken not around 3000 BC, as formerly assumed, but well back in the Neolithic.

Such a radical redating suggested an equally radical solution to the problem of Indo-European dispersion.  The central premise of this new hypothesis, as presented by Colin Renfrew in Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins (1988), was that the secret of the Indo-Europeans was agriculture.  They were, he argued, the people who originally brought the Neolithic to Europe from Anatolia.  It was not force of arms but rather the ability of farming to support a greater population that had enabled them to outbreed and eventually absorb the small Mesolithic hunting bands.

If the secret of the Indo-Europeans was agriculture then the AIT theory becomes bogus since Indus valley civilization was already agriculture in nature and the "Aryans" never contributed anything.
The earliest known Indo-European languages -- Mycenaean Greek, Hittite, and Sanskrit </b>
This whole concept of Indo European languages and linking of Sanskrit with other languages is really without any facts. If these languages had distinct markers from the time of the Ice Age then they had no connection.

Heritage of Sanskrit and most of the Indian tribes are clear and well known even before the Ice age.

It is the history of the European languages, their tribal history and migration is still under confusion. There is no need to include sanskrit and Indian tribe into this confusion.
German nationalism was formed in a tussle between two colliding forces - Roman imperial centralization versus Germanic, tribal, confederationist regionalism. Germans did not need to be a German nation, they were forced to become one by Rome. Throughput Europe we will see this struggle to maintain tribal centrifugal forces in the northern passages against centralization based around the Mediterranean. The Saxons, Nordics, Danes stubbornly resisted Christianization, and Christianization was deliberately adopted as an imperialist centralization tool by the later Romans and their successor regimes of the Franks (ironically one of the Germanics displaced by the Romans).

This was also why Christianity, a faith basically alien to the European, had to be deliberately brought in by Rome - and edited/reconstructed as per requirements of the empire to overrule and erase the indigenous "pagan", so that regional, local identifications did not survive. To rise again as a German nation, the roots had to be therefore discovered or invented in the pre-imperial past of indigenous beliefs and culture.

Linguistic revival only paves the way to search for common roots, and therefore a common geographical origin of the various components of the loose tribal confederation. The Catholic Christianity would hamper the process in trying to blur any such potential distinction from the imperial heritage. Thus they would need to assert their regional, indigenous, version of the prevailing faith as a first step. But the very need to use Christianity itself againt Christianity, creates problems in the absence of an alternative equally centralizing philosophy that helps in the formation of a homogeneous German identity.

Typically fractious collections of identities, who fail to recognize their own inherent commonalities, need an external enemy or inavder who does not recognize those differences and sees some commonality. Being equally treated or humiliated, the smaller quarrels of identities break down. The Germans therefore had to wait for the Napoleonic wars to do the final melding.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

On: <i>Pelasgians</i>


Ancient Greek writers used the name Pelasgians (Greek: Pelasgoí, s. Pelasgós) to refer to groups of people who preceded the Hellenes and still dwelt in several locations in mainland Greece, Crete, and other regions of the Aegean, as neighbors of the Hellenes, into the 5th century. The ancient Greek references to the Pelasgians are confusing. However, it is agreed that Pelasgians had spoken a "barbaric" (non-Greek) language.

<b>Whether the Pelasgian language was pre-Indo-European or not, and the extent to which it was a single language or not, are modern disputes that are colored by contemporary nationalist issues.</b> Among the nations for whom Pelasgian descent has been claimed are Albanians, and Romanians. There is also a theory suggesting that the Philistines or Peleset of the ancient Levant were connected with the Pelasgians. Scholars have since come to use the term "Pelasgian", somewhat indiscriminately, to indicate all the autochthonous inhabitants of the Aegean lands before the arrival of the Greeks; a number of other recent theories as to their nature are also discussed below.
Interesting read. For several reasons, including:
1. What the Greeks wrote in the past:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->That the Athenians were autochthonous was expressed mythically in the stories of Erechtheus and Erichthonius and was emphatically stated by Isocrates in Panegyric 23-5:

"For we did not win the country we dwell in by expelling others from it, or by seizing it when uninhabited, nor are we a mixed race collected together from many nations, but so noble and genuine is our descent, that we have continued for all time in possession of the land from which we sprang, being children of our native soil, and able to address our city by the same titles that we give to our nearest relations, for we alone of all the Hellenes have the right to call our city at once nurse and fatherland and mother."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
2. Now IE studies. Section <i>"Modern Theories: Pre-Indo-European people</i>
(NOTE: not <i>proto</i>-IE people, but pre-IE. Pre-IE means people who lived somewhere before the IEs are to have arrived. Proto-IE tends to mean some ancestral population to IE, a genetic precursor. From what I understand.)

3. How IE determines what is and isn't Greek. Same old logic again: Not Greek "because not IE, because it isn't <i>common</i> IE" -
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->"Further, scholars have attributed a number of non-Indo-European linguistic and cultural features to the Pelasgians:"
(For reasons such asSmile
"Certain mythological stories or deities (usually goddesses) that have no parallel to the mythologies of other Indo-European peoples like the Germans, Celts or Indians."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
How far back in time do we need to go to get an acknowledgement (self-recognition) from some IE population that they belong to IE? No historical population seems to mention them ever. Forever there seem to have been multiple 'tribes' rather than a single common community. Or is it the theory that they were together at a time they couldn't write?

4. So IE thinks they are non-IE, pre-IE. Things become interesting/confusing here:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Do you seriously believe that the Gods live on Mount Olympus?</b>
Olympus is indeed the abode of the Olympian Gods. However, it is not the well-known mountain separating Thessaly from Macedonia on whose peak our ancestors built alters, knowing full well that it could not therefore be the Gods' literal abode. There were 18 other mountains also called Olympus in distant places inhabited by Hellenes, from Asia Minor to the colonies in the West.

The true Olympus was and is a Divine place, a celestial 'land' that is bathed in Spiritual Light.<b> In fact the word Olympus is derived from the verb 'Lampo' (I radiate), whose archaic root is probably proto-Pelasgian.</b> The sublime Olympus lies above us, below us and within us. Our Gods are everywhere!<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Olympic Gods.
So, going by all that:
The word Olympus probably derived from proto-Pelasgian.
If Pelasgian is not IE, then proto-Pelasgian isn't IE.
This would make Olympos and the very name for the Olympic Gods non-IE.
Does this mean the Olympic Gods aren't IE either if they live somewhere - which they're named after for its most pertinent meaning of "radiating" spiritual light - whose name isn't even IE? <!--emo&:blink:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/blink.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='blink.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Did I make some mistake? Or am I making too much of "probably"?
All those accounts are trying to tell a story in fragments. Connect the proto Greeks or Pelesagians to the people who dwelt in Deccan. Deccan still has many godesses (all manifestations of Devi) not fully catalogued.

What is radiate in Roma language? In Sumerian?
<!--QuoteBegin-ramana+Aug 7 2009, 01:16 AM-->QUOTE(ramana @ Aug 7 2009, 01:16 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->All those accounts are trying to tell a story in fragments. Connect the proto Greeks or Pelesagians to the people who dwelt in Deccan. Deccan still has many godesses (all manifestations of Devi) not fully catalogued.[right][snapback]100172[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->How and why tie Somebody's Dilmun Deccan theories with Pelasgians? Nothing in post #345 on the Pelasgians had a bearing on it. At least Indians can leave the Pelasgians, Greeks out of it until they have irrefutable data to involve them.

"All those accounts are trying to tell a story in fragments."
That is the case with unknown history. But the questionmarks are not an invitation for people in our time to theorise or invent a story based on other theories that are entirely unrelated.
Else one would have to consider thousands of theories, many of them more likely.

The Pelasgians have something to do with the Greeks and the lands of Greece. Either they were ancestral to the Greeks or they weren't. There's now a political angle too. Further, IE entered the picture ("modern theories" section of the Greek page on Pelasgians).
Also interesting is that a key Greek religious word - Olympos, where the hence <i>Olympic</i> Gods reside, it is their <i>home</i> - has origins in what is deemed to be non-IE (Pelasgian, Proto-Pelasgian in fact) even though the Olympic Gods themselves are bracketed into "IE mythology".

I excerpted the statements on Goddesses <i>only</i> because it illustrated a typical instance of IE Studies' habit of relegating all things that don't occur in Common-IE to "therefore" not being part of those branches of people regarded as IE: e.g. if element A occurs among Greeks but is not common to other IE branches, then element A is immediately considered Not Greek either, "because Greeks are IE and A is not in IE". This is what is done to various elements of the subcontinent's Dharmic civilisation as well.
The Goddess example also does not require a Dilmun Deccan theory to explain anything. Even if it were the case that the proto-Pelasgians were non-Greeks and had bequeathed certain Gods and particularly Goddesses to the Greeks, the Pelasgians themselves could be (and in all likelihood were) native to the Mediterranean, and so too their religion. Where does the Deccan come into it? It is not as if other people of the world do not have religions and cultures of their own generation and ancestry of their own. It's not as if the entire world is Either IE Or has to fall into some Catch-All Theory B. It is entirely possible and quite consistent with much known of history that, were the Pelasgians separate from and pre-Greek, they may merely be an "aboriginal" population of the Greek regions - like the modern day Basques are considered to be elsewhere in the Mediterranean - and quite capable of developing their own religioculture without Indian involvement. (Including how a great many indigenous populations and their religiocultures do have/had vast numbers of Gods, Goddesses that are not Indian in origin - this was the <i>natural</i> state of religioculture before christianism.) Hard data to the contrary that directly involves the Pelasgians is required to argue otherwise.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->What is radiate in Roma language? In Sumerian?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->What do Roma have to do with the Pelasgians? Roma only left the Indian subcontinent after the 11th/12th century and are thought to be from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, from where they ended up in Afghanistan and travelled further). It is <i>thereafter</i> that they arrived in Europe.

The Pelasgians were written about as historical - or memories of the people and their culture were - in Herodotus' time, and were mentioned in Homer's epics.

If one absolutely wanted to find some connection between the Roma and the Pelasgians (still don't understand why this attempt to tie Pelasgians into the Dilmun Deccan theory or to India in general, without any actual data to go by), the direction of travel for the word "Lampo" (radiate) would then have to be from the earlier Pelasgians to the very recent Roma in Europe. Moreover, Lampo is Proto-Pelasgian making it much earlier still.

And Sumerian stuff is mostly new agey pseudoscholarship. It is very hard to get any facts about it. Again, there is very little data, yet lots of elaborate stories have been built on it in the west ("data <i>interpretation</i>").

And before I get into trouble for criticising elders/my betters/the more intelligent/the more important -
The above was not meant as personal criticism. It was more general. Quite a few Indians have a tendency to latch onto new theories (sometimes even new agey ideas) that have nothing to do with history and then use it as a black hole to pull other peoples into. Want Indians to leave other people alone until there is hard data like genetics to involve those others.

N.S. Rajaram

NS Rajaram
Fall of the Third Reich did not put an end to academic race theories that formed the core of its ideology. In various guises, their legacy continues in Western academia as well as in the politics of countries formerly under European rule. While avoiding overtly racial terms, scholars in disciplines like Indo-European Studies continue to uphold scientifically discredited and historically disgraced theories built around the Aryan myth. Some academics have resorted to media campaigns and political lobbying to save their theories and the discipline from natural extinction— a tactic that came to the fore when California education authorities attempted to remove these theories from their school curriculum. The legacy of racism persists in sectarian politics in South India, and most insidiously in Africa where it gave rise to the horrific Hutu-Tutsi clashes in one of the worst genocides in modern history. A singular feature of this neo-racist scholarship is the replacement of anti-Semitism by anti-Hinduism.

Mutated racism

In a remarkable article, “Aryan Mythology As Science And Ideology” (Journal of the American Academy of Religion1999; 67: 327-354) the Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson raises the question: “Today it is disputed whether or not the downfall of the Third Reich brought about a sobering among scholars working with 'Aryan' religions.” We may rephrase the question: “Did the end of the Nazi regime put an end to race based theories in academia?” An examination of several humanities departments in the West suggests otherwise: following the end of Nazism, academic racism may have undergone a mutation but did not entirely disappear. Ideas central to the Aryan myth resurfaced in various guises under labels like Indology and Indo-European Studies. This is clear from recent political, social and academic episodes in places as far apart as Harvard University and the California State Board of Education.

Two decades after the end of the Nazi regime, racism underwent another mutation as a result of the American Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement, Americans were rightly made to feel guilty about their racist past and the indefensible treatment of African Americans. U.S. academia also changed accordingly and any discourse based on racial stereotyping became taboo. Soon this taboo came to be extended to Native Americans, Eskimos and other ethnic groups.

In this climate of seeming liberal enlightenment, one race theory continued to flourish as if nothing had changed. Theories based on the Aryan myth that formed the core of Nazi ideology continued in various guises, as previously noted, in Indology and Indo-European Studies. Though given a linguistic and sometimes a cultural veneer, these racially sourced ideas continue to enjoy academic respectability in such prestigious centers as Harvard and Chicago. Being a European transplant, its historical trajectory was different from the one followed by American racism. Further, unlike the Civil Rights Movement, which had mass support, academic racism remained largely confined to academia. This allowed it to escape public scrutiny for several decades until it clashed with the growing Hindu presence in the United States. Indians, Hindus in particular saw Western Indology and Indo-European Studies as a perversion of their history and religion and a thinly disguised attempt to prejudice the American public, especially the youth, against India and Hinduism to serve their academic interests.1

The fact that Americans of Indian origin are among the most educated group ensured that their objections could not brushed away by “haughty dismissals” as the late historian of science Abraham Seidenberg put it. Nonetheless, scholars tried to use academic prestige as a bludgeon in forestalling debate, by denouncing their adversaries as ignorant chauvinists and bigots unworthy of debate. But increasingly, hard evidence from archaeology, natural history and genetics made it impossible to ignore the objections of their opponents, many of whom (like this author) were scientists. By the turn of the millennium, there was an uneasy stalemate, with science chipping away at the edifice of the Aryan theories with its advocates tenaciously clinging to them and postponing the inevitable.<b> But in November 2005, there came a dramatic denouement, in, of all places, California schools. Academics suddenly found it necessary to leave their ivory towers and fight it out in the open, in full media glare— and under court scrutiny.</b> This is what we may look at next.

Aryans invade California

To summarize the California invasion by ‘Aryan’ academics: Aryans, a mythical race of people which science and the defeat of Nazi Germany had consigned to the fringes of academia and politics found a temporary refuge in the history texts to be used in California schools. Led by the Harvard based linguist Michael Witzel, a motley group of mostly European scholars successfully lobbied the California State Board of Education (CSBE) to save the theory of an 'Aryan' invasion of India from being removed from schoolbooks. It was to prove a Pyrrhic victory and a public embarrassment; California education authorities were soon forced to retract Witzel’s ‘expert’ suggestions. They also had to face lawsuits from which they came out badly bruised.

This was the aftermath of an acrimonious editing process in which Witzel, with possible support from the California Education Secretary Alan Bersin, put pressure on California officials to have this scientifically discredited theory included in textbooks. This curious affair raises doubts about the role played by Secretary Bersin who serves also on the board of the Harvard Corporation which employs Witzel. Willingly or unwittingly, Bersin came to be seen as the fulcrum of support for Witzel and his colleagues in their dubious campaign that went on to embarrass both Harvard and the California Department of Education.

While the media covered the story as a case of newfound assertiveness on the part of the Hindus, Witzel and his colleagues claimed they were motivated solely by objectivity and scholarly integrity. According to them it was a case of faith against scholarship. The cloud of controversy though tended to obscure the real story— of a desperate campaign by Witzel and his colleagues to save the Aryan myth, which happens to be central to the academic discipline known as Indo-European Studies. Indo-European is a politically correct euphemism for Aryan. (Another is Caucasian.)

It all began innocently enough, when Grade VI textbooks used in California schools came up for revision in 2005. Some Hindu, Islamic and Jewish groups objected to the way their religions were depicted in some of the textbooks. Hindus objected also to the history portion for including the scientifically discredited, nineteenth century theory of the Aryan invasion of India. California school authorities asked the Hindu groups along with others to suggest suitable changes.

After some discussions, mostly with regard to the format, the California Department of Education (CDE) released a memorandum detailing the changes submitted to the State Board of Education (CSBE) on November 8, 2005. It was at this point that Michael Witzel intervened uninvited. On the very next day, November 9, CSBE President Ruth Green read out a petition submitted by Witzel and co-signed by 46 other scholars claiming to be experts on India, objecting to the edits suggested by the Hindu groups charging they were unscholarly and politically motivated. Changes submitted by Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups were passed without discussion, but Green withheld those submitted by the Hindus. She went a step further and appointed Witzel to a super-committee, to review the changes relating to Hinduism and India. All its members had actively colluded with Witzel in his propaganda and lobbying campaign.

It was a mystery how Witzel, within a day, could get so many signatures from all over the world. Most petitioners were from Europe with nothing at stake in what California schools teach their children. A few (non-Europeans) later retracted. This suggests that Witzel’s move was pre-planned, helped by insiders and not a 24-hour wonder. It was soon apparent that the signatories, including Witzel himself, had not read the changes they were objecting to. He was coy about it when questioned at a public meeting in Harvard, claiming that the subject was sub judice. (This was because of law suits filed against the CSBE’s ‘flawed and illegal’ review procedure.)

The next meeting in January 2006 was held in secret, from which Hindu groups were excluded. Witzel took advantage of the secrecy to reverse many of the changes. While some of it related to Hinduism, it became clear that his real concern was saving the Aryan invasion theory from being axed. Witzel trumpeted the outcome as a victory, but the celebration proved to be premature. The unusual procedure by which it was done and Witzel’s own unscholarly language and rhetoric landed the California Department of Education in several law suits. A judge hearing the case slammed the CSBE for following ‘underground procedures’ using ‘hostile academics’. Witzel too paid a heavy price, being increasingly seen as less a scholar than a propagandist and political lobbyist. His credibility as scholar stood shattered.

Given Education Secretary Bersin’s position at Harvard, Witzel’s immediate appointment to the super-committee with virtual veto power over the contents comes as no surprise. The real question is what Witzel and Bersin hoped to gain by having the disgraced Aryan theories taught in California schools. To see this one needs to recognize the precarious state of the discipline called Indo-European Studies. It is a nineteenth century European creation that has been losing ground to science. Witzel and his European colleagues are among its last holdouts. Both students and funds have been declining in the department where Witzel teaches. As a member of the Board of Overseers of the Harvard Corporation Bersin has responsibility for fund raising.

Ever since Witzel moved to Harvard from Europe (he is German by birth), its Department of Sanskrit and India Studies has been in a state of turmoil. He was forced to step down as department chairman in 1995, following student complaints about his conduct. Enrica Garzilli, whom Witzel had brought in as a faculty member was fired by Harvard as unqualified. She sued the university. Witzel himself threatened to sue a student for asking some questions. Now Hindu parents and groups have sued the State of California for violating their children’s civil rights. Curiously for an academic, legal troubles seem to dog Witzel wherever he goes.

We may never know who initiated Witzel’s California campaign— whether Alan Bersin gave Witzel a chance to redeem himself following his disastrous performance at Harvard, or if Witzel saw an opening to get students and funding with Bersin at the helm of the Department of Education in California. Email traffic surrounding IER (Indo-Eurasian Research), an Internet group co-founded by Witzel, suggests that the idea came from some of its members, possibly one Steve Farmer, Witzel’s closest associate following Enrica Garzilli’s expulsion from Harvard. Farmer lives in California from where he has been reporting on developments in the state.

Problems at Harvard are part of a wider problem in Western academia in the field of Indo-European Studies. Several ‘Indology’ departments—as they are sometimes called—are shutting down across Europe. One of the oldest and most prestigious, at Cambridge University in England, has just closed down. This was followed by the closure of the equally prestigious Berlin Institute of Indology founded way back in 1821. Positions like the one Witzel holds (Wales Professor of Sanskrit) were created during the colonial era to serve as interpreters of India. They have lost their relevance and are disappearing from academia. This is the real story, not teaching Hinduism to California children.

Witzel’s California misadventure appears to have been an attempt to have his version of Indian history and civilization introduced into the school curriculum in the hope that some of them may later be drawn into his department when they graduate. Otherwise, it is hard to see why a senior, tenured professor at Harvard should go to all this trouble, lobbying California school officials to have its Grade VI curriculum changed to reflect his views.

To follow this it is necessary to go beyond personalities and understand the importance of the Aryan myth to Indo-European Studies. The Aryan myth is a European creation. It has nothing to do with Hinduism. The campaign against Hinduism was a red herring to divert attention from the real agenda, which was and remains saving the Aryan myth. Collapse of the Aryan myth means the collapse of Indo-European studies. This is what Witzel and his colleagues are trying to avert. For them it is an existential struggle.

Americans for the most part are unaware of the enormous influence of the Aryan myth on European history and imagination. As previously observed, while the defeat of Nazi Germany put an end to its political influence, it has survived in various guises in Western academia under the umbrella of Indo-European Studies. This was the point raised by scholars like Stefan Arvidsson cited earlier. Central to Indo-European Studies is the belief—it is no more than a belief—that Indian civilization was created by an invading race of ‘Aryans’ from an original homeland somewhere in Eurasia or Europe. This is the Aryan invasion theory dear to Witzel and his European colleagues. According to this theory there was no civilization in India before the Aryan invaders brought it— a view increasingly in conflict with hard evidence from archaeology and natural history.

The politics of Aryanism

Given the Aryans’ importance to their worldview, it is extraordinary that after two hundred years of voluminous outpourings, these scholars are unable to identify them. Originally they were claimed to be a race related to Europeans but science has discredited it. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, scholars avoid overtly racial arguments but the basic idea of an invasion by Europeans bringing civilization to India is retained even if they acknowledge that ancient Indian records know nothing of any such invasion. All we have are dogmatic assertions of their central belief. According to the late Murray Emeneau, a leading figure in Indo-European linguistics: 2

At some time in the second millennium B.C., probably comparatively early in the millennium, a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. This is our linguistic doctrine which has been held now for more than a century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion. (Emphasis added.)

This is typical of the field, with arguments closer to theology than to science. Aryans are needed because there can be no Aryan invasion without the Aryans and also no Indo-European Studies. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Scientists had long ago dismissed the idea of the Aryan race. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great biologists of the twentieth century wrote: 3

In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature…. In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions. (Emphasis added.)

These ‘special conditions’ were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India. Its perversion in Germany leading eventually to the Nazi horrors is well known. The fact that the British turned it into a political tool to make their rule acceptable to Indians is not generally known. A recent BBC report acknowledged as much (October 6, 2005): 4

It [Aryan invasion theory] gave a historical precedent to justify the role and status of the British Raj, who could argue that they were transforming India for the better in the same way that the Aryans had done thousands of years earlier.

That is to say, the British presented themselves as ‘new and improved Aryans’ that were in India only to complete the work left undone by their ancestors in the hoary past. This is how the British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin put it in the House of Commons in 1929: 5

Now, after ages, …the two branches of the great Aryan ancestry have again been brought together by Providence… By establishing British rule in India, God said to the British, “I have brought you and the Indians together after a long separation, …it is your duty to raise them to their own level as quickly as possible …brothers as you are…”
All this makes abundantly clear that theories based on the Aryan myth are modern European creations that have little to do with ancient India.</b> The word Arya appears for the first time in the Rig Veda, India’s oldest text. Its meaning is obscure but seems to refer to members of a settled agricultural community. It later became an honorific and a form of address, something like ‘Gentleman’ in English or ‘Monsieur’ in French. Also, it was nowhere as important in India as it came to be in Europe. In the whole the Rig Veda, in all of its ten books, the word Arya appears only about forty times. In contrast, Hitler’s Mein Kampf uses the term Arya and Aryan many times more. Hitler did not invent it. The idea of Aryans as a superior race was already in the air— in Europe, not India. 6

Indo-Europeans: elusive or non-existent?

To understand Witzel’s California campaign we need to place these Aryan theories in their historical context— as part of some European thinkers’ striving to give themselves an identity based on their history and folklore. In his recent book Aryan Idols: Indo-European Mythology as Ideology and Science (2006, University of Chicago) Swedish scholar Stefan Arvidsson tells us:

For over two hundred years, a series of historians, linguists, folklorists, and archaeologists have tried to re-create a lost culture. Using ancient texts, medieval records, philological observations, and archaeological remains they have described a world, a religion, and a people older than the Sumerians, with whom all history is said to have begun.

These are the mythical Aryans, now being called Indo-Europeans. After two hundred years of intensive search, they remain elusive, while science has shown them to be non-existent. But Indo-European scholars have not given up on them. Just as they created an Aryan invasion without Aryans they have created Indo-European Studies based on the non-existent Indo-Europeans. As Arvidsson observes:

No objects can definitely be tied to them, nor do we know any ‘Indo-European’ by name. In spite of that, scholars have stubbornly tried to reach back to the ancient ‘Indo-Europeans,’ with the help of bold historical, linguistic, and archaeological reconstructions, in the hopes of finding the foundation of their own culture and religion there.

The only literature we have that goes back to such antiquity is Indian literature. But Europeans of the colonial era could not conceive of an Indian source for their culture. India was taken out of Indo-European Studies, and made the recipient of European thought, culture and even language via the Aryan invasion. In Arvidsson’s words: “The theory about India as the original home of the Indo-Europeans, and the Indians as a kind of model Aryans, lost supporters during the nineteenth century, and other homelands and other model Aryans took their place instead.” (Emphasis added.)

The Aryans (or Indo-Europeans) and their homeland were gradually moved westward until they were made to settle in Eurasia and even Germany. In the hands of German scholars, Aryans and their language became “Indo-Germanische.” It is this worldview, and its academic incarnation calling itself Indo-European Studies that Witzel and his colleagues are fighting to save from extinction.

To summarize, the goal of Indo-European studies is not so much to understand India as it is to “show that there existed a rich ‘German’ mythology that could successfully compete with classical Judeo-Christian traditions.” It is hardly surprising that anti-Semitism was tied up with it. Now anti-Hinduism has now taken its place. This anti-Hinduism too is more cultural than religious, like anti-Semitism in pre-War Europe. Its goal is to detach their mythical Indo-European ancestors from India, just as pre-war Aryan theories sought to erase the Judaic heritage of Christian Europe. This lies at the root of the ‘ideological abuse’ (in Arvidsson’s words) that Indo-European Studies has been guilty of:

There is something in the nature of research about Indo-Europeans that makes it especially prone to ideological abuse— perhaps something related to the fact that for the past two centuries, the majority of scholars who have done research on the Indo-Europeans have considered themselves descendants of this mythical race.

This ‘ideological abuse’ reached its climax in the Nazi regime. The recent California campaign must also be seen in the same light: ideological abuse in the name of scholarship to support a worldview combined with a concern for survival.

For a brief, transient period, advocates of the Aryan myth succeeded in saving their theory from being axed, but in the process they have undermined the credibility of the textbooks and public confidence in the California education system. The wide publicity that their campaign received and the law suits that followed have dealt a severe blow to teacher morale. The real victim in this farcical tragedy is not Hinduism, which will survive the assault, but the children of California who have been used as pawns in the struggle for survival of a discredited academic discipline and its priesthood.

An African tragedy: Tutsi invasion theory

While race theories have led to stereotyping and academic and ideological abuse, they are also guilty of horrendous crimes. The Nazi Holocaust is justly infamous, but not many are aware of their contribution to the more recent Hutu-Tutsi conflicts in Africa. What Indologists could not do in India with their Aryan theories, ethnologists succeeded in doing in Africa with their race-based Tutsi invasion theory— trigger genocide. Here is the story in brief.

When we look at the map of middle Africa, we see two little countries named Rwanda and Burundi, bordering on Zaire (or the Democratic Republic of Congo). Few Indians know the recent history of these unfortunate countries or the cause of the recent catastrophes that engulfed them. As reported in the Western media, these countries are inhabited by two supposedly different ethnic groups, the so-called Hutus and Tutsis. The ethnic composition of these two countries is as follows.

Rwanda: Hutu 84%, Tutsi 15%, Twa (Pygmies) 1%

Burundi: Hutu 85%, Tutsi 14%, Twa 1%

In other words, their compositions hardly differ at all. But according to Western anthropologists, mainly colonial bureaucrats and missionaries, the Tutsi are supposed to be a Hamitic people, a race that was often intermixed with the whiter races of the North, notably from Ethiopia and Egypt, which in their turn were intermixed with some West Asiatic people, mainly the Hittites, by repeated invasions from the North. These people, the Tutsis, are supposed to have arrived from the North and not native to Rwanda. The analogy to the invading Aryans is immediate and striking, but doesn’t stop here.

The majority of Hutus are said to be Bantu, of original African race, which spilled out from the middle of the West African coast of Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivorie (Ivory Coast) and the inland countries of Burkina Faso and its neighbors.

In this scenario, which is contradicted by genetic analysis, the Tutsis (like the Aryans) are foreign invaders or migrants in the Rwanda-Burundi region. The Hutus, like the Indian Dravidians, are said to be much older people, but not the original inhabitants. The original inhabitants are said to be the Pygmies (or Twa), who constitute barely 1 percent of the people. The interesting part of the theory is the role assigned to the Tutsi minority. They are made into a superior race of invaders, just like the Aryans, and supposedly constitute the aristocratic elite and the oppressors of the Hutu majority.

According to this theory, the minority Tutsi have subjugated the indigenous, but not too indigenous (compared to the Pygmies) Hutus for centuries and forced them into the inferior position of agriculture. Now the key notion: Hutus and Tutsis are really two completely separate races, with the ‘black’ Hutus forming the oppressed majority, and their relatively fair invaders, the Tutsi, forming the oppressors.

This in essence is the Tutsi invasion theory, the African version of the Aryan invasion theory. The similarities are startling, even to the extent of the Dravidians in India being preceded by earlier inhabitants, the aborigines (the so-called adi-vasis), who have their African counterpart in the Pygmies. So we have the African Pygmy-Hutu-Tutsi sequence corresponding to the Indian aborigines-Dravidian-Aryan scheme.

It is a curious experience to look at the political evolution of this grotesque theory and its monstrous fallout. Until the coming of the Europeans, the Tutsis and the Hutus never saw themselves as different. Nor were they engaged in any racial wars. With the European scramble for Africa, Rwanda-Burundi became part of the short-lived German East Africa. After Germany’s defeat in the First World War, it became part of the Belgian colonies in Africa. This notion of the Tutsi-Hutu racial difference began to be drilled into the natives by colonial administrators, some academics (not unlike present day Indologists) and missionaries known as the Pere Blancs (White Fathers). (There are no Pere Noirs or Black Fathers.) They invented the Tutsi invasion theory and labeled the Hutus as the victims of Tutsi invasion and oppression.

It is worth noting that this period, between the two world wars, was the heyday of race theories in Europe. It seems the notion of superiority due to difference in skin color—imagined in this case—is indelibly ingrained in the European psyche. Its politics has collapsed, not due to any dawn of enlightenment on its proponents but the defeat of Nazi Germany. It has continued however in Western academia as Indo-European Studies and in other guises.

As with the Aryan theories and their various offshoots, this Tutsi-Hutu division has no factual basis. They speak the same language, have a long history of intermarriage and have many cultural characteristics in common. Differences are regional rather than racial, which they were not aware of until the Europeans made it part of their politics and propaganda.

The division if any was occupational. Agriculturists were called Hutu while the cattle owning elite were referred to as Tutsi. The Tutsi, like the Indian Aryans, were supposed to be tall, thin and fair, while the Hutu were described as short, black and squat— just as the Indian Dravidians are said to be. Since the Tutsi today don’t fit this description, scholars claimed that their invading ancestors did. They offered no proof but, being based on no evidence, their claim cannot be disproved either. In fact, it is impossible today to tell the two people apart. They are separate because government records carried over from colonial days say so.

This fictional racial divide was created and made official by colonial bureaucrats during Belgian rule. The Belgian Government forced everyone to carry an identity card showing tribal ethnicity as Hutu or Tutsi. This was used in administration, in providing lands, positions, and otherwise playing power politics based on race. This divisive politics combined with the racial hatred sowed by the Tutsi invasion theory turned Rwanda-Burundi into a powder keg ready to explode.

The explosion came following independence form colonial rule. Repeated violence after independence fueled this hatred driven by this supposed ethnic difference and the concocted history of the Tutsi invasion and oppression. Some 2.5 million people were massacred in this fratricidal horror of wars and genocides. Unscrupulous African leaders, like the self-styled Dravidian politicians of India, exploited this divisive colonial legacy to gain power at the cost of the people. Hutu leaders described the Tutsis as cockroaches, telecasting their tirades on the radio during the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis. This led ordinary Hutus to massacre the Tutsis en masse in a bid to annihilate them completely.

So a peaceful, placid nation with a common populace, sharing a common language, culture and history was destroyed by colonialist, racist concoction called the Tutsi invasion theory. It was entirely the handiwork of colonial bureaucrats, missionaries and pseudo-scholars building careers on the discredited notion of race.

It is of course no coincidence that ideas that led to the Holocaust in Europe should have led to genocide in Africa. The disgrace is that they continue to exist in Western academia in various guises, ready to come out of the closet at an opportune moment. This is what was seen during the recent California school curriculum revision.

History lesson: transplanting the poison tree

Why should we learn all this? Because the Tutsi invasion theory has ominous parallels to the Aryan invasion theory and the Aryan myth, which scholars are trying desperately to save using linguistics or, Indo-European Studies or some similar fig-leaf. Sectarian tension and violence, thankfully not on the same horrific scale, was incited between North- and South Indians by self-styled Dravidian parties like the DMK, AIDMK and their many offshoots and incarnations. These are the poisonous legacy of the colonial-missionary racist offspring.

Why did India not go the way of Rwanda-Burundi? Not for lack of trying but because the cultural foundation of Hinduism proved too strong. It defeated the designs of politicians and propagandists masquerading as scholars. It is no coincidence that Rwanda and Burundi had been converted to Christianity, preparing the ground for sectarian conflict. Several church figures, including priests and nuns have been found guilty of complicity in the Tutsi massacres. As in India, Christianity was a colonial tool and missionaries little more than imperial agents.<b>

Their failure in Hindu India is also what is behind the visceral anti-Hinduism of Witzel and his colleagues. It came to the fore during the recent California school controversy. This is enhanced by the fact that Hindu scholars have been at the forefront of exposing their designs and debunking their scholarly claims.</b> An Internet group (IER or Indo-Eurasian Research) co-founded by Witzel has been doing little more than spewing venom at Hindus and their practices, in language and style that bear comparison with Nazi era publications like Julius Streicher's Der Strummer.

They may have been defeated this time, but there is no room for complacency. The divisive politicians of India and their friends and colleagues in academia can come together to defend the Aryan-Dravidian divide. California last year was an example of such an unholy nexus. 7 Had Witzel and his colleagues succeeded in planting their poison tree in California schools, it would have become fertile ground for demagogues to turn the ethnically diverse California into a powder keg of animosities.

This brand of pseudo-scholarship cannot survive once their Aryan theories end up in the dustbin where they belong. Recognizing this, their advocates no longer engage in debate but resort to name calling. Any opposition to the Aryan theories is denounced as emotional, chauvinistic, and the handiwork of Hindu nationalists and fundamentalists. Like the artificial Aryan-Dravidian divide, the Tutsi-Hutu divide is also denied by respectable scholarship, including Western scholarship. Are we to denounce these—and a million Tutsi victims of the genocide—as the handiwork of these nationalistic chauvinistic Tutsis who deserved their fate?

The Aryan myth—and its advocates—have both been exposed, but it would be a serious error to assume that it has been put to rest. Bad ideas have a way of resurfacing especially when self interest is at stake. Writing about the persistence of superstitions like belief in witches and witchcraft in Europe, Charles Mackay, in his famous book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness of Crowds observed (1841):

So deeply rooted are some errors that ages cannot remove them. The poisonous tree that once overshadowed the land might be cut down by the sturdy efforts of sages and philosophers; the sun may shine clearly upon spots where venomous things once nestled in security and shade; but still the entangled roots are stretched beneath the surface, and may be found by those who dig. Another King like James I [a self professed expert on demonology] might make them vegetate again; and more mischievous still, another Pope like Innocent VIII [who initiated the Inquisition against witches] might raise the decaying roots to strength and verdure.

One may add that scholars and academics are no more immune to the lure of obscurantism than medieval popes and kings, especially when their survival is at stake. With their base crumbling in Europe, these purveyors of hate are looking for fresh soil in places like California to plant their poison-bearing trees.

Acknowledgement: I am grateful to Sri Pankaj Saksena for valuable information relating to the Tutsi invasion theory and its legacy of horrors.

Curiously the very success of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States has helped these European race theories by shielding them from scrutiny. In the U.S., Aryan theories are associated with fringe groups like the Ku Klux Klan, not prestigious institutions like Harvard. It must be added that this is not official Harvard policy but a negative fallout of academic freedom, with a tenured faculty member misusing his position. Still one hopes that Harvard authorities can reign in someone who is increasingly a blot on its liberal image.
Quoted in Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization: History, science and politics by N.S. Rajaram (2006), New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, page 31. The original source (cited in the book) is not easy to access.
Op. cit. p. 127. Some recent claims of a genetic basis for the Aryan invasion are easily refuted. See Sarasvati River… (Op. cit.) for a discussion of the current state of Aryan theories.
Op. cit. p. 128.
It is important to note that Hitler and the Nazis appropriated their ideas and symbols from European mythology, not India. Hitler’s Aryans worshipped Apollo and Odin, not Vedic deities like Indra and Varuna. His Swastika was also European (‘Hakenkreuz’ or hooked cross) not Indian. It was seen in Germany for the first time when General von Luttwitz’s notorious Erhardt Brigade marched into Berlin from Lithuania in support of the abortive Kapp Putsch of 1920. The Erhardt Brigade was one of several freebooting private armies during the years following Germany’s defeat in World War I. They had the covert support of the Wehrmacht (Army headquarters).
Several fringe groups from the Communists to those claiming to represent ‘Christian Dalits’ (an oxymoron) ranged behind Witzel in his campaign. The court dismissed them and their claims.</b>

Appropriating the Past
Myths of Ancient History

P R Ram

On examining the methods followed by communalists, it becomes evident that they use history as the justification for communal ideology. In early '20s and '30s it was argued that Hindus and Muslims constitute two separate nations and its justification was derived from historical misrepresentations. Later, Hindu communal ideologues like Savarkar and Golwalkar went on to manufacture partisan answers to the questions like: What is the Origin of our Nation? How did the Hindu nation come into existence? In this way, history was distorted to suit their political projects. As a logical trajectory of this method, Hindu communalists project and situate the ideal Hindu society in the ancient period, and then attribute the ills of society to Muslim invasions. This argument is invoked to also justify almost any and every restriction imposed on women and to account for what is perceived as a steady decline in the status of women from a condition of near-idyllic bliss that prevailed during the Vedic era.

Further, there is the effort to derive 'identity' of the nation from its ancient past. This is one situation how history is mystified. Many a time outdated theories continue to be resurrected and reiterated, despite the emergence and availability of newer evidence proving the contrary.


Aryans were the original inhabitants of this land in that the Harappan culture was an Aryan culture.


The 'Theory of the Aryan race arose 150 years ago. It is not referred to in any of the earliest Indian texts, whether the texts are in Sanskrit or Persian. Neither the Puranas nor the Vedas nor any of the Persian historians referred to the Aryans as a racial group. It is an invention of European thinkers, particularly the French racist Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineu who preached the "natural" inequality of the races in the mid 19th century. He divided the European society into aristocracy, which is Aryan; the peasantry, which is non-Aryan. The 'add-on' to this category is 'semites', the Jews, the, traders. His thinking later formed the basis of future racist onslaughts in Europe.

This myth was later accepted wholesale by a nationalist like Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who further propounded the Theory of the Arctic Home of Vedas-- that the Aryans came from Arctic region, and later, on the way divided into two branches. One branch went to Europe and reverted back to barbarism, the other branch came to India and retained Aryan civilisation and revived Aryan culture all over the world. Similarly, but in a distinct vein, Keshub Chandra Sen, a religious reformer, had maintained that the British being the descendants of the Aryans, as were the upper caste Indians, the advent of the British to India was like meeting of parted cousins. Later, MS Golwalkar (Shri Guruji), the Sarsanghachalak (2nd Supreme Dictator) of the RSS, in his 'We and Our Nationhood Defined' presented a different interpretation of the Theory of the Aryan Race, to state that Hindus and Hindus alone were the original inhabitants of India. As per Guruji, "We, Hindus, have been in undisputed and undisturbed possession of this land for over 8,000 or even 10,000 years, before this land was invaded by any foreign race and, therefore, this land came to be known as Hindustan, the land of Hindus".[Golwalkar, 1939]. Golwalkar considered Aryans and Hindus as synonymous and even asserted that the Aryans did not migrate to India but were indigenous to this land.

On Tilak's theory of 'Arctic Home of the Vedas’, Golwalkar had maintained that the "Arctic zone was originally that part of the world which is today called Bihar and Orissa, that later moved north east and, then, in a sometimes northward movement, it came to its present position... We do not hesitate in affirming that had this fact been discovered during the lifetime of Lokmanya Tilak, he would unhesitatingly have propounded the proposition that 'the Arctic Home of the Vedas' was verily in Hindustan itself and that it was not the Hindus who migrated to that land but the Arctic zone which emigrated to that land and left the Hindus in Hindustan". [Golwalkar, 1939, P 8]. However, S Yechuri states, "Even by the logic of his own argument, if the Arctic zone moved away from Bihar-Orissa, how could it leave the people behind who were inhabiting the land mass? When a landmass moves it move along with everything on it. People cannot be left hanging in a vacuum only to drop down when and where Golwalkar wishes"

Believing in the centrality of Aryans origin in this region, Hindutva ideologues are unrelenting, trying to pick the thread form one to other, distorting newer findings to fit into their construct. For instance, they have tried to link the Harappa and Mohen-jodaro cultures also to the Aryans thereby reversing the historically accepted sequence of events to state that the period of Rg Vedas ends by 3700 BC and is prior to Indus civilisation. Their ideologue Rajaram dates the beginning of Harappan civilisation to 3000 BC earlier than usual but accepts the agreed terminal date as 1900 BC. [Ratnagar, 1996]. As per Ratnagar, "there are too many radio carbon dates now available for the Harappan sites to make possible any radical revision of Harappan chronology". Unlike geo-morphologists and archaeologists who have worked in the field on the ancient process of desiccation of that river systems, this computer scientist, N Rajaram, is certain that Saraswati ran dry precisely in 1900 BC. So, the Rg Veda has to be earlier than 1900 BC. Moreover, the Harappan civilisation ended because Saraswati ceased to flow, that in turn having resulted from a 'calamitous drought' and–yes--the melting of ice caps following the ending of last Ice Age. [Rajaram, 1995]. Rajaram further states that when that happened the elite amongst the Aryans in a 'massive outflow' migrated to west via Iran. Among the significant outcomes of that movement is the origin of Egyptian pyramid in Vedic samasana-cit [Aryan Invasion of India, Rajaram, P 50].

The other 'school' on the origin of Aryans posited the view that they came from Asia. But, this immediately raised the question as to how can our ancestors have come from Asia, as this was the high point of imperialism and Asian countries were subject colonies. To get around this problem, they substituted it with the argument that Aryans were indigenous to India. This view is in line with the communal thinking which appropriates the indigenous status to itself and thereby the rightful status as theirs of the land.

Max Mueller, an Orientalist, applied this theory to India. Orientalists were a school of thought who were fighting a losing battle with the Utilitarians an ethical theory founded by an English moralist and writer on law, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). He held that the coming of British to India was a 'God sent' event meant to 'civilise' India. Orientalists intrusion in the Indian past was an effort to bring back the 'declining' social norms in their own fast changing society. They uncritically held the Ancient Indian society as the ideal one overlooking its inner contradictions and tensions. "They evolved a theory of the Indo-European homeland and of the common ancestry of the Sanskritik and Greek cultures. The Aryans were seen as a racial entity rather than a group of people who spoke related languages, and the dynamics of Aryan culture in India and Greek were sought to be related." [Thapar, 1994]. This viewpoint of idyllic ancient Indian society fitted well into the wishes of the orthodox Hindus, who wholeheartedly adopted the view.

Mueller also evolved the theory that there was an invasion of Aryans into north-western India and after subjugating the local Dasas they settled down in India, bringing with them their culture and civilisation--the Sanskrit language, Vedic religion, etc. Mueller saw this event as a kind of civilizing mission: that the Dasas were very primitive, not developed or advanced and the Aryans came to civilize them; that the upper castes in India, sometimes referred to as 'dvija' (twice born castes, Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya in the Varna system), are all descendants of Aryans, and so they are demarcated from lower castes. [Thapar].

In reaction, Christian missionaries wrote that the Aryans, the upper castes, oppressed the lower castes. Another reaction was from Hindutva ideologues who insisted that all caste Hindus are Aryas, and so coined the term Hindu Aryas. They further said that there was no invasion as they were indigenous people--India being their Pitrubhumi (Fatherland) and Punyabhumi (Holyland), and that they spread from India to all over Asia and Europe.

In line with the latest archaeological findings, and linguistic interpretations, Indian culture dates back to 6000 BC. Its most discernible manifestation is the Harappan Civilisation and also the most distinct and decipherable civilization of this region. It declined in the second millennium BC and completely disintegrated by 1500 BC when Aryas entered northwest of India. "The Aryans or Indo-Aryans descendants of the Indo-Europeans had remained for some time in Bactria (Northern Afghanistan). By about 1500 BC, however, they had migrated into northern India through the passes of the Hindu Kush mountains. At first they wandered across the plains of Punjab, searching for pastureland being predominantly a cattle breeding people. Finally they settled in small village communities in forests and gradually took to agriculture", [Romila Thapar, 1966], and went on to produce Rg Veda and other Vedic texts.

Contrary to the claims of Hindu communalists Vedic society is no longer regarded the foundation of Indian civilization because a very different civilisation, the Harappan Civilisation, had already preceded it and which was comparatively more advanced.

Hindutva historians argue that the Harappan Civilisation and Vedic Aryans are identical and now date the Vedas back to the period of Harappan Civilization which they maintain is the archaeological counterpart of the Vedic civilization. However, as borne out also by linguistic analysis the Harappan Civilisation was essentially an urban one, based on urban culture, while the Vedic civilization according to Vedic texts itself was predominantly a pastoral rural society with no mention of an urban culture.

When he wrote over a hundred years ago, Mueller had assumed that Vedic Sanskrit is the earliest and purest form of Sanskrit, and was a pure Aryan language. Today, however, the examination of its grammar proves that it is not "pure". Some elements of proto-Dravidian grammar are apparent in Vedic Sanskrit. There occurs a mixture in language with the arrival of Aryans and there are many words which are Indo-Aryan in origin, eg, Pangala word from a proto-Dravidian or Mundari language spoken by central Indian Adivasi area finds its place in Sanskrit). Thus there was a symbiosis of different people living side-by-side and with Sanskrit this intermingling goes on increasing with time.

Romila Thapar shows that "the language has come from outside, from Iran, probably brought by small groups of people for which we have archaeological evidence. These migrants were usually pastoralists or small-scale farmers, who over many hundred of years were bringing in new language, which was also changing in the process. Then when they settled in India, the language in India also undergoes change because of Indian connections. Therefore we argue that there may not have been an invasion. We don't have the archaeological evidence for a huge invasion as Max Mueller insists. But there were multiple migrations and there is evidence from archaeology for the migration. So in essence it is unimportant to go on saying: We are indigenous, because we can never prove it. We are in fact very mixed up. Aryan is not a race because we all use this term very loosely and speak about Aryan race and the Dravidian race; the terms do not refer to race but to the language used".

The myth of Aryan race identified language with race. Max Mueller observed that all those who spoke Aryan language (Sanskrit in India, Iranian in Iran, Greek, Latin, Gaelic, etc) belong to the same race. The monogenesis thesis traced back all 3 languages to India-European and peoples' biological origin was traced to a single race. The work on biological race which has been done over years shows that in terms of genetic make up, in terms of relationships of various groups, the area of northern India comprises of a huge, multiple variety of people, variety of races and one cannot talk, of a single race. "Therefore the notion that there was once a pure Aryan race and that every body that spoke a particular language belonged to that race is complete nonsense. These (Aryan, Dravidian) are not races. These are not biological races. These are language terms..." [Romila Thapar, 1996].

The Indus Script is Vedic script


First and foremost, although excavation of ruins do indeed advance our understanding of civilisations they do not by the same token serve as keys to unraveling the secrets of ancient societies and civilisations. The masterkey, instead, to its secrets is its scripts inscribed primarily on seals including amulets and other objects.

As far as the seals with inscriptions on them of the Harappan sites are concerned there are approximately 3,500 inscribed texts, although the average number of signs in a text is less than 5. However, the most authentic pronouncement of this Harappan script is that it has not been fully deciphered. The script is an unknown script; written in anunknown language. It does not appear in a bi-lingual context; does not survive on any monument, and which must be deciphered from short texts. Decipherment has been a slow process of understanding the structure of the language by establishing the infernal logic of the script, by comparison with other scripts, and by comparative linguistics.

Innumerable claims have been made in the attempt to crack the decipherment of the Indus Script. None have been validated including the myth in question that the Vedic text. 'Nighantu of Yaska' has supposedly aided in cracking the 'Rosetta Stone' (the Rosetta Stone, discovered by Napolean's army in Egypt in 1799, was the key to the later decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs as it had the same text written in Greek hieroglyphs) of Hindu historians fail to state what exactly the 'Nighantu' contains (Is it a bilingual text, for example?).
Further, the 'Nighantu' (c700 BC) is a commentary that had been recorded to explain rituals and the etymology of certain unclear words in the Rg Veda. It has also no reference to scripts of any type.

The dating of the seals on which the script were inscribed–between 3000-2000 BC --is incorrect because the date of the early phase of the Harappan Civilisation itself is 3600 to 2600 BC, when no script was in existence, and the mature phase to 2600-1800 BC when there was a script. The Rg Veda was written between 1500 and 1000 BC.

Contrary to the claim, the Harappan script is instead considered by scholars like the Finnish scholar Asko Parpola to be a non-Aryan particularly Dravidian one. He maintains that the "...writing of the Harappa script is from right to left (like Urdu or the old Kharosthi-Comet Project) but since they are on seals, which are used for impressions, it appears that it is in the opposite direction....Secondly, if the Harappan civilisation was post-Vedic, why is there no evidence of the horse in the remains of the civilisation? We know from the Vedas that the horse was very important to that society. A number of animals are depicted on Indus seals, and the skeletal remains of a number of animals have also been found. But there is no evidence of the horse. Why?"


<b>Orientalism And Race: Aryanism in the British Empire

by Tony Ballantyne</b>

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This study traces the emergence and dissemination of Aryanism within the British empire. The idea of an Aryan race became an important feature of imperial culture in the nineteenth century, feeding into debates in Britain, Ireland, India, and the Pacific. <b>The global reach of the Aryan idea reflected the complex networks that enabled the global reach of British imperialism.</b> Tony Ballantyne charts the shifting meanings of Aryanism within these "webs" of empire.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? : Archaeology Answers
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Professor Lal tells the reader, with ample photographic illustrations, that almost every aspect of Indian culture is deeply rooted in the past, which is at least 5,000 years old. He then gives an integrated picture of the civilization of those days--variously called the Harappan, Indus or Indus-Sarasvati civilization. Thereafter he deals with the ethnicity of the authors of this great civilization. W<b>ith solid arguments, he refutes the theories that there was an 'Aryan invasion' of India, which destroyed the Harappan civilization or that there was an immigration of the (BMAC) people from Central Asia. He demonstrates that in all likelihood the Harappans themselves were the Vedic people and were indigenous. Further, archaeological and literary evidences combine to suggest that some time in the second millennium BCE a section of the Vedic people themselves emigrated westwards to Iran and even up to Turkey, contributing their mite to the local culture</b>.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Gypsy Grave

<img src='http://pufone.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/gypsy_funeral_3_790x526.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<img src='http://pufone.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/gypsy_funeral_1_790x526.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<img src='http://pufone.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/gypsy_funeral_2_790x526.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Bulibasha (King) of the Romanian Gypsy Community died last week.
Sounds to me like some of your wishes on gypsies were granted.

Romani Death Rituals and Customs : […There is inevitably a large crowd at a Romani funeral. It is an occasion for friends and family to unite, to wish the departed a good journey as he or she enters a new life. Newspaper accounts sometimes describe the elaborate funerals held for an "important" Rom. It must be remembered that a huge funeral is the rule and not the exception in Roma society, and all Roma are entitled to enormous funerals…]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->You seem to follow the other AIT/AMT scholars in picking out insignificant things like 'spellings' of names (which incidentally are not in English). Wouldn't it be better if you just kept to the main arguments rather than 'spellings'?

Now, onto your argument that Mittani is older than Vedic, I would ask the AMT/AIT school to not spout random words as evidence. You seem to follow Witzel blindly in this case. The presence of ‘aika’ in Mittani IA is not a definite evidence of pre-RV period. 'Satta' used by the Mittani is more Prakrit than Vedic. So shall we say that Mittani is closer to Prakrit (and not just post-Vedic). A few words cannot make evidence (esp. when they can be interpreted anyway the 'scholars' want). Your claim that linguistic data 'undoubtedly' puts Vedic as younger to Mittani is far-fetched and misleading. Moreover, Mittani has only few IA words. As such, any ‘argument’ based on evidence of absence is baseless (hence, please stop stating that late RV-words are not present in Mittani). Finally, Mittani IA uses the word ‘mani’ which is from late-RV period. The presence of ‘aika’ does not prove Mittani as pre-RV. After all, Rg Veda was redacted many times before it was frozen and it has undergone pronunciation changes as well. Therefore, it is very much possible that ‘aika’ was used in RV and that it was changed to ‘eka’ during the redactions (similarly the other sounds such as ‘zdh’). Also, the Mittani would have crossed the Iranians on their way to Aratta. As such, it is possible that they took up some Iranian sounds. So, the argument that Mittani is pre-RV is not an ‘invincible’ one as Witzel and you would like us to believe. The truth is that Mittani uses a late RV word (mani). It has at least one Prakrit word form (satta). As such, we can definitely state that Mittani belongs to late RV or post-RV era. The fact that Mittani names are very similar to late RV books (Talageri 2008: 175 - 180) has been well established by Talageri. Also remember that Mittani IAs would have left the subcontinent a few centuries earlier before they conquered West Asia and that Mittani IA words are found in texts which were written much later. As such, any argument about ‘earlier sound forms’ is nullified as RV was redacted after this migration period. Words are better evidences than sounds in this matter. Mittani words support the OIT rather than AMT as they use late RV words.

The key argument of Lal and others is: Indra and Varuna were worshipped by these names only in the subcontinent. The Vedic people do not say that they came from any foreign land. Instead the Rg Veda speaks about an east to west 'expansion' (and not migration). The western lands are seen only in the later books. Then, we come across a later Vedic text which states that a set of people migrated to the west while the others migrated to the east. It also states that those who migrated to the west did not perform the Vedic rituals. As such, it fits the description of the Avestans who were not performing Vedic sacrifices. Then, you come across a land whose name is very similar to Aratta and where the IE entered as conquerors and still remembered their God Indra who was not worshipped by this name by any other IE group outside the subcontinent.

Common sense demands that we identify these conquerors as the Indo-Aryans who migrated to Aratta.

And why does it make you wonder that OIT scholars who do not accept any 'Aryan invasion' of India readily accept the 'Aryan invasion' of Aratta? There is no hypocrisy in this. There is simply no archaeological/literary evidence for any Aryan invasion of India while we have both for the Mittani Indo-Aryans.

As for your example about 'ostrich', I feel that it applies more to the AIT/AMT school than anyone else. After all, they keep on harping the same tune despite the fact that there is neither archaeological nor literary evidence to support their viewpoint.

[url="http://http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8498534.stm"]Last speaker of ancient language of Bo dies in India[/url]
Quote:Another issue with 'sorp>sarabha' (raised by Koenraad Elst) has been conveniently bypassed.

Sanskrit has a large number of words with the suffix '-bha'. E.g gardabha, karabha, ibha etc.

In FU, we see that many cognates of 'sorp' do not have the 'p' ending. The Samoyedic languages have no suffix and even some FU languages have non 'p' ending.

It may be that the FU word for elk was influenced by IA 'sarabha' rather than the other way around; leading to FU taking the form 'sorp'.

the"aryans" from andronovo culture <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':lol:' />

[Image: sibir_49.jpg]

[Image: andronovo_sibir_52-1.jpg]
^^^ what are these paintings based on? When were they drawn?
[quote name='shamu' date='20 March 2010 - 04:09 AM' timestamp='1269037866' post='105288']

^^^ what are these paintings based on? When were they drawn?


reconstructions based on archeological findings in central asia.
[quote name='dhu' date='30 October 2009 - 12:37 PM' timestamp='1256885942' post='102281']

Romani Death Rituals and Customs : [�There is inevitably a large crowd at a Romani funeral. It is an occasion for friends and family to unite, to wish the departed a good journey as he or she enters a new life. Newspaper accounts sometimes describe the elaborate funerals held for an "important" Rom. It must be remembered that a huge funeral is the rule and not the exception in Roma society, and all Roma are entitled to enormous funerals�]<!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->


indeed romas say they came from Egypt.This is a pharaonic tomb ,really. <img src='http://www.india-forum.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/ohmy.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':o' />
[quote name='HareKrishna' date='20 March 2010 - 04:56 AM' timestamp='1269040724' post='105289']

reconstructions based on archeological findings in central asia.


OK. So these are modern imaginary drawings to support AIT, and not any ancient paintings or based on folk stories of people in that area.

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