Every history text in India and abroad propagates that the Vedic age began with invading Aryan hordes in 1500 BC, over the ruin of Indus Valley people, and assimilation of indigenous aborigines at the lowest rung in their polity. It’s time to debunk the Euro-race-centric, Bible-conditioned, culturally appropriating, politically expedient and prejudiced … “Aryan Invasion Theory” … for good.
The Myth of Aryans and Non-Aryans
PART : I
What Does The Rig Veda Offer ?
The oldest extant text of mankind…
Adapted From The Most Brilliant, Insightful Analysis Ever
There is a real world behind the sacred hymns of the Rig Veda. The entire mystery of that pre-historic setting in which the Vedic civilisation flourished is hinged on identifying the people, titles and personalities referred to in the Rig Veda… with a geographical reference to the community or clan who divined it… the Purus, celebrated in the epic Mahabharata. That certainty and the method that helps us to arrive at it would enable us to lift the historical pall over the period, on the people on its stage, the happenings within the communities and events involving them.
This demands a critical review of study reports and research papers on the subject, and a measure of serious scholarship to appreciate the historically relevant evidence etched in the Vedic age compilation. The entire line of research, reasoning and analysis adopted by the author, Shrikant G Talageri, and the truths he discovers for us, is miraculously in harmony with facts little understood previously by mainstream scholars and historians in the West. The conclusions are uncovered to us through an engaging discourse, with a methodical thoroughness that enthralls and revelations that seem both magical and exhilarating.
The crucial question about the original habitat of Indo-Aryans, whether it was in Central Asia as commonly concluded and taught all over or in India which the hymns have in their background, is always open in the absence any evidence in support of the widely accepted theory. Let us look into the Rig Veda itself for authentic clues as opposed to the surmises on which the Aryan and non-Aryan myth and the Aryan Invasion theory is perpetuated.
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The Bhrigus are accorded a primary status in all traditional lists of pravaras and gotras; and in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna proclaims: “Among the Great Sages, I am Bhrigu; and among words, I am the sacred syllable OM…” (Bhagavad Gita, X.25).
In fact, down the ages, it is persons from Bhrigu gotra who appear to have given shape to the most distinctive of Vedic thought on all aspects of life : Kama, Artha, Dharma and Moksha … from Vatsyayana to Kautilya to Adi Shankaracharya.
Vedic Aryans and Iranians
The Bhrigus clearly occupy a very peculiar position in Indian tradition and history. An American scholar, Robert P. Goldman, who conducted a detailed study of the history of the Bhrigus, as it appears from the myths in Mahabharata, makes some significant observations. According to him :
“The mythology clearly “sets the Bhrigus apart from the other brahmanical clans… The myths… unequivocally mark the Bhrigus as a group set apart from their fellow brahmans.”1
The characteristic feature which sets the Bhrigus apart is “open hostility to the gods themselves… One of the greatest of the Bhrigus is said to have served as the priest and chaplain of the asuras, the demon enemies of heaven and of order (dharma).”2
After analysing various myths involving the most prominent Bhrigu sages, Goldman reiterates his point that “hostility emerges as the more characteristic phenomenon, and the one that most clearly sets the (Bhrigu) group apart from the other revered sages and priestly families in Indian epics and ancient texts… the motifs of hostility, violence and curses between gods and sages… are virtually definitive in the Bhargava or Bhrigu tradition.”3
And : “the association of the sage Sukra with the asuras is one of the strangest peculiarities of the Bhargava corpus”.4
At the same time, tradition records certain ambiguous moments in this hostility… where it appears that “the Bhargava seems unable to decide between the asuras and their foes on any consistent basis”.5
There is, for example, “a myth that is anomalous… Rama, although he was unskilled in arms, undertakes to battle against the asuras upon Shiva’s request… and, having slain all the asuras, he receives the divine weapons that he wishes.”6
Here, it must be noted that Rama (Parashu-Rama) – a Bhargava – is actually “said to associate with the gods, and, especially, to fight their battles with the asuras”.7
And even in “the long and complex saga of Shukra and the asuras, Shukra is twice stated to have abandoned the demons, the asuras, to their fate, and is said to have even cursed them… the first time he appears to have been motivated simply by a desire to join the gods and assist at their sacrifice.”8
Goldman, therefore, arrives at two conclusions :
1. “The identification of Shukra as the family priest and protector of the asuras may shed some light on a
basic problem in early Indian, and the Indo-Iranian tribe then settled further up north in Punjab and to its
west. If, as has been suggested on the basis of Iranian evidence, the asuras were divinities of Iranians
for whom, perhaps, the devas were demons, then it is likely that Shukra and the Bhargavas were
originally Indo-Iranian priests.”9
- “The repeated now-on – now-off theme in Shukra and his disciples’ relationship with the Indo-Iranian tribe ends in their “… ultimate disillusionment with the demons and finally going over to the side of the gods. It may also be viewed as suggestive of a process of absorption of this branch of the Bhrigus into the ranks of the orthodox brahmins.”10
Goldman’s conclusions fully agree with our analysis of the position of the Bhrigus in the Rig Veda : in short, the traditional Indian myths about the Bhrigus, as recorded in the Epics and Puranas, conjure up a historical picture which tallies closely with the historical picture emerging from a logical analysis of the information in the hymns of the Rigveda.
What is particularly worthy of note is that these myths, and these hymns, have been faithfully preserved for posterity by a priesthood dominated by none other than the Bhrigus themselves – i.e. the Bhrigus of the post Rig Vedic era.
And it is clear that these later Bhrigus, even as they faithfully recorded and maintained hymns and myths which showed their ancestors in a peculiar or questionable light, were equally puzzled about the whole situation.
As Goldman puts it: “That one of the greatest Bhargava sages should regularly champion the asuras, the forces of chaos and evil – in short, of adharma – against the divine personifications of dharma is perplexing and has no non-Bhargava parallel in Vedic literature. The origin of the relationship was evidently puzzling to the epic redactors themselves, for the question is raised at least twice in the Mahabharata. In neither case is the answer given wholly satisfactorily.”11
I Present Analysis
We have one advantage over the redactors of Mahabharata : The evidence of the Avesta. Let us introduce the basics it offers before subjecting it to closer scrutiny.
1. The Avesta clearly represents the opposing side in the conflict with Vedic Aryans :
a. In the Avesta, the Asuras (Ahura) are the Gods, and Devas (DaEva) are demons.
b. Here, the Bhrigus or Atharvans (Atharvan) are associated with Asuras (Ahura),
and the Angiras (Angra) with the Devas (Daeva).
- The Avesta also shows the movement of a group from among the Bhrigus towards the side of the Deva-worshippers : there are two groups of Atharvan priests in the Avesta, the Kavis and the Spitams, and it is clear that the Kavis had moved over to the “enemy” side.
The pre-Avestan (and pre-Rigvedic) Kavi Usan (Kavi Usana or Usana Kavya) is lauded in the Bahram Yast (14.39) and Aban Yast (5.45). Also, a dynasty of kings from among the Kavis, the most important in Avestan and Zoroastrian history, is twice lauded in the Avesta in the Farvardin Yast (13.121) and the Zamyad Yast (19.71). The kings of this dynasty, named in these Yasts, include Kavi Kavata (Kaikobad of later times) and Kavi Usadhan (Kaikaus of later times, who is frequently confused in later tradition with the above Kavi Usan).
However, the Kavis, as a class, are regularly condemned throughout the Avesta, right from the Gathas of Zarathustra, and it is clear that they are regarded as a race of priests who have joined the ranks of the enemy from before the advent of Zarathustra himself.
Hence, by the time of Avestan period, the Bhrigus or Kavis are no longer the protagonist priests of the Indo-Iranian people : the priesthood is restricted to only the Spitama branch of the Atharvans. Hence also, the name of the Good Spirit, Spenta Mainyu, is clearly derived from the name of the Spitams, as opposed to the Bad Spirit, Angra Mainyu, clearly derived from the name of the Angiras.
The picture that emerges from this whole discussion is clear :
a. Angiras were the priests of Vedic Aryans, and Bhrigus of the Indo-Iranians.
b. There was a period of acute hostility between Vedic Aryans and Indo-Iranians, which left its mark on the myths
and traditions of both the people.
Now the crucial question on which hinges the history of Indo-Iranians, which would resolve the problem of Indo-Iranian homeland, is : Where and when did this hostility take place ?
According to the scholars, this hostility took place in the Indo-Iranian homeland, which they locate in Central Asia; and this hostility preceded and indeed was the reason behindthe split between Indo-Aryans and the Indo-Iranians, after which they went their own separate ways : the former into India and and the latter into Iran.
This scenario, however, lies only in the field of hypothesis, and is totally unsupported by facts as testified by consistent evidence in both the Rig Veda and the Avesta.
To arrive at the true picture, therefore, we must turn to evidence within the Avesta itself.