Playing One Helluva Night Gig

It’s a bar in a tony country club in the western suburbs.

Genteel white folk are sitting at neat white tables, sipping their cabernets or whatever, and display a very mild curiosity about a bunch of guys wheeling in sound gear. The band is pointed to a corner with approximately 10 square feet of open space.

Scott and I stand there and scratch our heads, going – how are we going to fit our gear in and find standing room to play ? We quickly figure it out. As we get ready to launch our first set, I see we’re 3 feet away from the nearest table, and Todd is a bit nervous about whether we might blow off their faces with our usual blues-rock attack. So he pulls out the acoustic and we start with something… a bit mellow.

We go through a couple of songs, get mercy applause ( or so I think) from a big group at the back end of the bar, and all of a sudden the bar is filling up. We find ourselves cranking up the volume so we can hear ourselves and be heard. The crowd gets thicker, voices get louder, the guitars are screaming by the time we’re 30 minutes into the first set. We’re going through our usual stuff – the Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray, Clapton, Skynyrd, The Stones,Van Halen.

The bar’s packed now with people, standing room only. Before we know it, the dancers have hit the floor : young and old bodies shaking, vast quantities of alcohol sloshing around inside. Scott yells to me – watch out for the mic stand ! And sure enough – bam ! An elderly guy has backed his butt into my mic knocking it over. A fleeting thought runs through my brain – where’s the goddam chicken wire when we need it ?

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Scott pushing the old guy away with one hand and continuing to play bass with his free hand. I’m trying to steady the mic stand while stomping on my pedals to get more wah and gain. The crowd is going crazy. They don’t want us to stop or take a pause between songs – more bodies are squeezing into a non-existent dance floor and Todd and I are running out of lung air. It’s all very Groucho Marx.

A woman sets up a table to one side and lines up a bunch of tequila shots for the band. Todd knocks back a couple and tosses a Heine to Josh at the back. Between wailing guitars and the raucous crowd, Josh can’t hear a single thing we’re singing or saying, yet he’s incredibly on time and is unleashing thunder with his drumkit. We’re in a re-run of Spinal Tap and Blues Brothers all at once.

The old guy in front pauses for a moment from his gyrations, thumps his chest, and bellows, Tarzan-like, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about ! I see him lean over and shout something in Scott’s ear. Scott tells me the guy wants us to play Elvis. Elvis Costello ? I ask. No, Elvis !! yells back Scott. The moment passes.

When we wrap up at midnight, the bar is still open, and there’s a couple of hundred people in there wanting more. The old guy, who I thought might keel over with a heart attack anytime during our performance, has miraculously made it alive till the end. It even seems like he’s got more juice in the batteries !

The bartender tells us he’s usually home in bed a good two hours earlier on Saturday nights, and this had never happened before at the club. He wants us back soon for another gig.

We’re done for the night though. I suspect they violated the fire department code for lawful occupancy levels last night at the bar. Time to leave before the cops show up.


Sandipan Deb introduces a song the incredibly multi-faceted Paddy Padmanabhan created in memory of the girl who was gang-raped and killed on December 16 two years ago : “… this song is not only about that one girl we lost. It’s universal — from ISIS to Boko Haram to Khap panchayats to all our other bestial ways.”

Do listen and share.

Tibet ! Tibet !


Remembering The Heaven It Was …

Now trampled, exploited and displaced beyond repair.

With Occupation. Cultural Genocide. Brutality.

By Guns, monochromatically greedy Han Chinese …


Tibetan People

Tibet Culture

Represents the best we have.

But now in other lands. Exiled.

Chinese In Tibet

Maharana Pratap : The Hindu Nationalist

Statue of Maharana Pratap of Mewar, commemorat...

Statue of Maharana Pratap of Mewar, commemorating the Battle of Haldighati, City Palace, Udaipur. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was a braveheart who never gave up fighting for his freedom and the for independence of the State of Mewar. The battles he fought against the might of Mughal emperor, Akbar, through victory and defeat, are the stuff of inspiring legend since they happened some 500 years ago.

Born May 9, 1540, patriotic Pratap exemplifies bravery, chivalry and sacrifice through the struggle between Rajput confederacy he led and the invading alien hordes. His was a Hindu nationalist’s crusade against relentless Muslim aggression, much in the mould of Prithviraj Chauhan, brothers Harihar and Bukka, Guru Gobind Singh,  Chhatrapati Shivaji and Chhatrasal Bundela’s against powerful armies of the same religious, cultural and administrative enemy.

Maharana Pratap perceived Mughals as foreigners who had invaded India and, though smaller in resource, he refused to surrender to guile, entreaty or threat even in his defeat. His own father, Udai Singh, had condemned the house of Man Singh for their marriage with unclean foreigners and Pratap Singh continued to address Akbar as a ‘Turk’ and not an emperor. Pratap’s resistance did not falter his army’s defeat in the Battle of Haldighati when, on the run, he had to wander in the hilly woods of Aravalis and despite  being reduced to starvation.

In perspective, Maharana Pratap’s was a sacred mission rather than a wager for power. He remained true lifelong to his vow of not indulging in comforts of palace life till he had recaptured his entire kingdom from the Mughals. The conciliatory offers he received from Akbar were lucrative and beyond precendent, in terms of jagirs and subedaris, but within the Mughal suzerainty. There were others around him who agreed for far less; but not Pratap. He turned away six diplomatic missions while his own brothers and several chieftains entered vassalitude for a life guarantee of much wealth and status. The sole goal that Pratap breathed, woke up and slept with, was to recover his ancestral seat of Chittor.

Chittorgarh, Fort with Vistory Tower in the background.

Pratap pursued his guerrilla war from his hideout in wilderness of the Aravallis. He raided the outlying check-posts, fortresses and encampments of his adversary, some of whom were Hindu vassals appointed by the Mughal in the wake of Pratap Singh’s defeat at Haldighati. He was much assisted by Bhamashah, who along with his brother Tarachand plundered Mughal territories in Malwa and offered large booty to Pratap to carry on his fight against the Mughals. The Bhil tribals of Aravalli hills provided Pratap with their support in war and with their help and expertise in living off the forest during his exile.

With the fund at his disposal, Pratap organised a major attack — Battle of Dewar — in which he gave a crushing defeat to his foes and was able to regain much of the lost territories of Mewar, except Chittor.

Pratap’s Mayra Cave hideout was spacious enough to serve as his armoury. It had a stable for the horses and a kitchen in which, legend reads, his family also had to partake pancakes made of grass because there was nothing else to satiate their pangs of hunger.

Pratap's Hideout In Exile

Maharana Pratap died at Chavand on 29 January 1597, of injuries sustained in a hunting accident.

His life is an inspiration as a giant spirit and a leader of men who never moved away from honesty, freedom and truth.

English: This pic is click when the fort is il...

The Kumbhalgarh fort is the birthplace of Maharana Pratap – the grear Mewar warrior. The fort is illuminated each night for 30 mins afterwhich there is complete darkness and the fort dissappears in the shadow of the night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Poet In Afghanistan

A Young Poet Exiled From Her Village

By: Fahim Khairy, KHAAMA PRESS

Source :


Persian poetry has a long history of fighting injustice and discrimination, dating back centuries. From Jalaluddin Rumi Balkhi and Rabia Balkhi to modern poets such as Foroogh Farokhzad, many have raised their voices through poetry to attack injustice. These poets often touched on taboos that no one dared speak of, fearing punishment from kings and other rulers.

Karima Shabrang is a new sword in the battle for justice and equal rights for women in Afghanistan. Shabrang soon came up against people who do not believe women should be equals. Shabrang was born in Baharak in the Badakhshan province. She studied Farsi/Dari literature and poetry at Kabul University. After graduating, she moved back to her village and started to work as a school teacher.

Shabrang was not yet known as an Afghan poet. She never showed her creative work to anyone until her first book hit the market and shocked everyone who read just a few pages. In Baharak village, Shabrang had enjoyed a peaceful life. She had the chance to publish her first poetry book titled Beyond Infamy.

Her work breaks taboos and carries a depth and darkness. As leading Afghan poet and professor Partaw Nadery said, Shabrang writes in pain and blood. In much of her work, Shabrang shows what it is like to be a victim of sexism. She was working as a teacher when her book was first published. She did not realize how people would react to her poetry.

My hair was saved for you

But destiny left it in the hands of a stranger

Who uses it to fuel his own desire’

* * *

Leave the buttons of your shirt open

Allow me to look at your eyes

And a little lower, let me feel the heat

and understand the warmth of the sun in your chest

In Afghan society, women cannot speak of their love desire, not even in poetry. It’s considered criminal, shameful, and dishonorable to do so, but Shabrang courageously broke this taboo. When asked about the message of these lines, she said that “being in the arms of the opposite gender is a need for everyone, including women. This was an empty spot in our society, and I wanted to fill it in and show the feelings and sensations of a woman.”

Soon rumors reached her entire village, and Shabrang became famous. Finally the religious Mullahs got their hands on her book. Day by day, the peaceful and green village that had inspired Shabrang became like a prison for her. She was harassed on the way to school every day and her entire family felt the effects. The Mullahs called her an ”infidel” who wanted to put Afghan women on the wrong path, teaching them to be immoral and shameless.

The harassment escalated until the Mullahs were sending Shabrang death threats. She had no choice but to leave her village and come back to Kabul which she says is a little more modern and safe compared to the remote provinces.

Karima Shabrang is now homesick and homeless. She stays at nights in her brother’s house. During the day, she wanders around Kabul, searching for her future.

Sometimes, I miss myself

My house and the birds that sing in my village

And the stories I used to hear

Now suffering, misery, and I are friends

Mom, oh my dearest mother

Who told you to give birth to such a sad traveler?’

Karima Shabrang is a poetic star that is falling from the sky.  Breaking such taboos is not an easy thing to do in Afghanistan. Shabrang risked her life by publishing her poetry, and now she is on the run trying to escape the wrath of the Mullahs.

Those who are interested in getting in touch with Karima Shabrang can reach me at fahim.khairy(at)

English: Rabia Balkhi High School (Afghanistan)

A letter to Amartya Sen

Sen must return to his philosophical texts and learn, once more, that silence is often more eloquent than words, says the author, Sandipan Deb

Source :

Stupa of Sariputta's relics in Nalanda Univers...

Stupa of Sariputta’s relics in Nalanda University, Bihar, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Dr./Bharat Ratna/former Master of Trinity/current Thomas W. Lamont professor at Harvard/Nobel laureate/economist/moral philosopher/Sanskritist/ greatest living authority on Adam Smith/the last great Bengali/lodestone of the greater good/town crier for the oppressed/the last word on social justice, welfare economics, good and evil, and many other things, etc., etc., Sir…

It is only a deep sense of inquiry (which you must agree is a good thing) and disquiet (which you have made a brilliant career out of) that compels me to write this.
Sir, you have suddenly been in the news for the last two weeks, which I am sure has nothing to do with the publication of your latest co-authored book, and have been making statements on various issues. There is this Gujarati economist—who possibly deserves the Nobel Prize as much as you did, and is stuck at Padma Vibhushan, one rung below you in the India honours list—who also has a co-authored book out and has been carping at you. For us Indians, it’s getting a bit too much. So, some questions.
Sir, do you really believe you are still an economist? Your career trajectory surely indicates that you have left that dismal science far behind. You have spent much of the last four decades studying philosophy, especially moral philosophy, and ancient Indian texts that no one other than you has heard of. Yes, your contribution to the field of economics is immense, and your Nobel Prize came 28 long years after the seminal contribution you made in social choice theory, and forced every economist worth his or her salt to re-examine all assumptions.
But what have you done after that? Your much-touted Kerala development model is a joke, especially among Malayalis who have a sense of humour. The state—which, anyway, is a money order economy—leads the country in suicide rates, the number of mentally ill people, domestic violence, alcoholism, bandhs and man-days lost, and lust for gold jewellery. Reams of statistics have been hurled at you, and yet you keep speaking about it, but then, philosophers don’t care about data, do they? Only economists do.
Any number of economists have expressed doubts about your data and your methodology in some of your most well-known works. For the food security Bill which you have been championing from every forum, you even went to the extent of concocting a random figure: that a thousand Indians will die per week if the Bill was not passed. And then, you brazenly admitted that this number was fictitious; “to capture people’s attention, you have to have a number” was what you said.
All government data shows that shoving free cereals down the throats of the poor (if the cereals ever reach them) makes no sense. India’s problem is malnutrition, which has to do with access to food other than cereals, sanitation and healthcare. The food security ordinance is ruinous for the economy and will help no one other than the already obese lower bureaucracy.
Let’s come to the growth versus development debate then (which should not be a debate at all, but you and that Gujarati have got into it). You have said that a focus on growth helps the “already-privileged”. In fact, if your own life is any indication at all, the “already-privileged” have it good any way, growth or bust. You created a world record when you became professor and head of the department of economics in Jadavpur University at the age of 23 (may be Robert Mugabe anointed a grandson as vice-chancellor of some university in Zimbabwe at the age of 18, I wouldn’t know). You weren’t even a Phd then.
But you were from the aristocratic Brahmo Samaj clique. P.C. Mahalanobis, czar of the Indian planned economy and another Brahmo, was your father’s friend and was impressed with you, and there you were, airdropped from a masters degree in Cambridge onto the throne. India was stuck in the Hindu rate of growth, but that didn’t hamper your career, did it? One can only hope that this extreme nepotism shaped your ideas when you grew older. But I have never heard you say that you were privileged in any way.
Ah, vice-chancellor? Who, may I ask, is Gopa Sabharwal, vice-chancellor of the Nalanda International University that you are supposed to be the big boss of, after A.P.J. Abdul Kalam left in disgust? Three names were forwarded to the government for the vice-chancellorship—Ramachandra Guha, Pratap Bhanu Mehta (I hope these two men need no introduction) and Gopa Sabharwal, an associate professor at Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi. You put your weight behind Sabharwal, even justified it in public, and she has been drawing a salary of over Rs.5 lakh per month for the last two years, with no university in sight. I think, sir, you are in a rather weak position when you talk of privileges.
And you are the icon of secularism. So you’ve said recently that Narendra Modi should not be prime minister. Fair enough. You are free to voice your opinion. As you did in 2006 when you said in Britain that if a school had to be religion-based, it should be a Christian school. Many of your friends, you said, were educated in St Xavier’s, Kolkata, and they were fine men. But other religions you were suspicious about. How do you justify that, sir?
So my humble request, sir, is that you return to your philosophical texts and learn, once more, that silence is often more eloquent than words, and that—you needn’t go to ancient Sanskrit texts for this—people who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones. They fall right back on your head.
Sandipan Deb is a senior journalist and editor who is interested in puzzles of all forms.
English: Shot by uploader. Photo of the terrac...

English: Shot by uploader. Photo of the terracota seal of Nalanda University on display in the Archaeological Survey of India museum in Nalanda. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Abominy Of Khomeini’s Iran

English: Ruhollah Khomeini فارسی: امام خمینی (...

English: Ruhollah Khomeini فارسی: امام خمینی (احتمالاً هنگام معرفی دولت موقت) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quotes on #Shia #Islam #Iran #Khomeini (the original) are from …

  1. “A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate.”

  2. “A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels… However he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm.”

  3. “The amount of mulct (blood money) is for a Moslem man, but the mulct of a Moslem woman will be half of these amounts.”

  4. “Moslem will not be retaliated for [killing an] infidel, unless a Moslem has a habit of killing infidels.”

  5. “Sexual intercourse with a cow, sheep or camel, makes the animal’s urine n dung unclean n drinking their milk will b unlawful.”

  6. “If sodomite marries mother, sister or daughter of a person n then sodomises that person, they do not become unlawful to him.”

  7. “Mother, sister n daughter of a boy who performed sodomy r unlawful to sodomite even if doer n giver of sodomy r both minors.”

  8. “There is no concern in [marriage] contract involving a person who marries his own cousin and fornicates with their mother…”

  9. “…if the penis enters a woman’s vagina or a man’s anus… both partners become impure…” #104 or #349, (Resaleh p.72)

  10.  “…even if my nephew becomes a Muslim, then all my property would go to him, not to my own children.” ~ Parviz Ravani, Zoroastrian MP

  11. A Moslem will inherit from an infidel but an infidel will not inherit from a Moslem…

  12. Every part of the body of a non-Moslem individual is impure…n all secretions of his body. #107 (Resaleh p.51)

  13. There r 11 things which r impure: urine, excrement…dogs, pigs, non-Moslem men n women…” #83 (from Resaleh p.48)

  14. If anyone… interprets the Law in a manner contrary to divine will, he has committed the sin of innovation.

  15.  …music engenders immorality, lust, licentiousness, and stifles courage, valor, and chivalrous spirit…”

  16. Whatever good there exists is thanks to the sword…! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword !

  17.  “#Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males…to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries…”
English: Mausoleum of Ayatullah Khomeini

English: Mausoleum of Ayatullah Khomeini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s A Global Conspiracy By The Few Alright … ( II )

Part – II

This part is adapted from Aaron Dykes feature online.

Aaron Dykes is a co-founder of As a writer, researcher and video producer who has worked on numerous documentaries and investigative reports, he uses history as a guide to decode current events, uncover obscure agendas and contrast them with the dignity afforded in documents like the Bill of Rights.

Source –

No One Will Hold Kissinger Accountable … A face of the controlling few…

The skullduggery of Henry Kissinger is well known, but little has been done about it. As the unofficial envoy of the Rockefeller Empire and a member of the Bilderberg Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, Aspen Institute, Bohemian Grove, Trilateral Commission, etc., Kissinger is at the heart of the power structure and closely tied to many behind-the-scenes deeds as well as big games the Group plays for global power. 

As National Security Advisor under presidents Nixon and Ford, and concurrently  for a time as Secretary of State under the same presidents, Kissinger wielded enormous power and effectively operated on behalf of the shadow government agenda – often over the president’s head. Informally, he has continued shaping policy as a top advisor to numerous high level figures, including presidents and cabinet members, since his official time in office during the 1970s. 

The case for war crimes and crimes against humanity outlined by Christopher Hitchens contrasts sharply with Kissinger’s status as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, ostensibly for negotiating the withdrawal of American forces in Vietnam. His more damnable acts include involvement in killing of as many as half a million civilians in secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War, his participation in various assassinations, coups and destabilisation efforts throughout the world. The list certainly renders the Nobel honour dubious and hypocritical, just as much as the exclusion of Mahatma Gandhi does to the same award. 

Moreover, via National Security Study Memorandum NSSM 200, Henry Kissinger made the U.S. foreign policy official … to underwrite forcible depopulation and outright genocide in the developing world, with recommendations to use “food as a weapon”, including withholding food aid to induce compliance with global population targets. The implications of this ongoing policy are both staggering and far-reaching. Did he take his cue from Churchill’s Secret War that caused the Great Bengal Famine in 1943, in which close to 3 million people died ? I wonder.

Not that he would answer or even brought to do so. He did not, despite lawsuits and threats of extradition, as well as requests to formally answer questions over his role in the September 11, 1973 coup in Chile, including the murder of a general. Warrants for his arrest in Chile, Argentina, Spain and France were to no avail. Heinz “Henry” Kissinger remains above the law.

He readily skirts any attempts to bring him to justice, as the one made in 2011 during the Bilderberg conference in Switzerland. Unofficially, he retains his diplomat’s immunity. None dare pursue the man; the establishment cadre of media and politico figures continue to fawn over him, as they would before a patron saint. Hence, it was truly exceptional when the evergreen activist Luke Rudkowski, founder of We Are, brought frank and uncomfortable questions to Kissinger yet again, for the third time, during an award ceremony in his honor.

After sycophantic pageantry, with Gen. Petraeus sickeningly referring to Kissinger as his hero and kissing him, Rudkowski approached Kissinger during a dinner break, shaking a team of media handlers who were attempting to control the event. Henry Kissinger’s only response, as in previous confrontations, was an ad hominem attack on the messenger of questions that many have raised but few have brought to his face.

Projecting his own wormy disposition, Kissinger called Luke a “coward” repeatedly, as he himself refused to acknowledge or answer any of several questions concerning war crimes, the Bilderberg group and statements of admitted criminal behavior evident in the Kissinger Cables released by Wikileaks. Rudkowski, who has amassed the nerve to repeatedly confront him and hundreds of other world leaders, is of course anything but a coward – and Kissinger, undoubtedly, fully grasped that fact.

Previously, Kissinger has called him a ‘sick person’ and told him to ‘go to hell.’ More projecting about his own twisted life I’m sure… Wikileaks highlighted this telling quote from Kissinger which appeared in a transcript :

Before the Freedom of Information Act, I used to say at meetings, ‘The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.’ [laughter] But since the Freedom of Information Act, I’m afraid to say things like that.”

Clearly, while Kissinger is comfortable presiding over death and destabilisation, war and nuclear threats, he is very much the coward, preferring the cover of darkness, shadow and the closed door that invariably goes hand in hand with both “diplomacy” and “conspiracy.”

Bravo to those bold enough to call his bluff and far too much bullshit.

Alternate History : The Great Indic Migration

Adapted from Subhash Kak’s essay :  The Mahabharata and the Sindhu-Sarasvati Tradition 

Source :

The task of synthesising convergence of several propositions to visualise the sum event spread out on space and time is more challenging than what most modern historians have so far been capable of. I have been adapting the studies and conclusions of exceptional minds on this blog, for the love of truth.

The series continues …

Manuscript illustration of the Mahabharata War...

The Mahabharata is an encyclopaedia of early Indian culture and history, including the Sindhu-Sarasvati (SS) tradition. For example, the Mahabharata and the Puranas call Visnu and Siva by the name Ekasrnga, the “onehorned one,” or the unicorn, which is one of the most striking images from the mature phase of the SS Tradition. The Santi-Parva (chapter 343) of the Mahabharata speaks of the one-tusked boar (Varaha) who saves the earth as Visnu’s incarnation. Here Varaha is described as being triple-humped, a figure that we see in the Harappan iconography.

There is other continuity of motif and style between the SS Tradition and the classical Indian culture. Geologists tell us that the river Sutudri braided into several channels after its course changed from being a tributary of the Sarasvati to that of the Sindhu. The Epic remembers this in the legend that sage Vasistha wanted to kill himself by jumping into the Haimavati, but the river saved him by breaking up into a hundred shallow channels, hence its ancient name Satadru (Caitraratha Parva, chapter 179). This is example of an event in the Epic that occurred in the 4th or the 3rd millennium BC.

The change in the focus of the civilization from the Sarasvati river to the Ganga is not only implicit in the Puranic story of the descent of Ganga but also in the statement in the Mahabharata (Vana Parva, chapter 85) that in the Treta Puskara was the holiest tirtha, in Dvapara it was Kurukshetra, and in the Kaliyuga it is Prayaga.

The Mahabharata telescopes early genealogical history. The Puranic king-lists provide useful clues to the sequence of events. Some of the main events are: Generation 45, Bhagiratha, Ganga changes course; Generation 65, Rama Dasarathi, Dvapara begins; Generation 94, Mahabharata War. Given that the Mahabharata War took place several centuries before the Buddha, it is clear that even if we allocate only 20 years to each generation, the Puranic king-lists reach back into the early phases of the SS Tradition. The astronomical references in the Vedic texts reach back to the 4th and 5th millennia BC.

The Mahabharata, in turn, describes events that belong to the earliest layers of the Vedic lore. For example, there is much material in the Adi Parva on Yayati, one of the first kings in the Puranic lists. There is also description of the westward emigration of Aryan tribes through the device of Yayati expelling his sons. Such emigration stories are part of the Rgvedic narrative.

The Greek historians inform us that the Indians during the time of the Mauryas remembered more than 150 generations of kings spanning over 6,000 years. (We assume that these lists remember the prominent kings only.) The earliest calendar in India was centennial, with a cycle of 2,700 years. Called the Saptarsi calendar, it is still in use in several parts of India. Its current beginning is taken to be 3076 BC. Notices by the Greek historians Pliny and Arrian suggest that, during the Mauryan times, the calendar used in India began in 6676 BC. It is very likely that this was the Saptarsi calendar with a beginning of 6676 BC.

The SS Tradition has been traced to about 7000 or 8000 BC in Mehrgarh in northwest India. It is seen to have evolved in four distinct stages as follows :

1. Early Agriculture Economy Era 8000 BC – 5500 BC ; Mehrgarh, Period I ; Aceramic, Neolithic

2. Regional Growth Era 5500 BC – 2600 BC
Mehrgarh, Period II, 5500 – 4800 BC
Mehrgarh, Period III, 4800 – 3500 BC
Harappa, Period I, 3500 –2800 BC
Harappa, Period II, 2800 – 2600 BC

3. Integration Era 2600 BC – 1900 BC
Harappan Phase
Harappan Period, 3C, Final, 2200 – 1900 BC

4. Localization Era 1900 BC – 1300 BC
Late Harappan Phase, 1900 – 1300 BC
Harappa, Periods 4 and 5, 1900 – 1700 BC
Beginnings of the Ganga Phase, upto 1300 BC

The Early Agriculture Economy Era (ca. 8000-5500 BC) witnessed the beginnings and maturation of the early agriculture economy. In the Regional Growth Era, (5500-2600 BC) we see regional styles and different phases of evolution. Although uniformity begins to emerge in 2800 BC (or a couple of centuries earlier), the Harappan state with numerous cities and towns emerges in the Integration Era (2600-1900 BC). The uniformity is seen in the writing, system of weights and styles of pottery. The uniformity across a very wide area emphasizes social classes and considerable trade.

In the Localization Era (1900-1300 BC) we witness unbroken continuity in several cultural expressions but we don’t see writing and the use of standardized weights. Evidently, this was a consequence of a breakdown of long distance trade. By the end of this Era, a new integration is seen in a geographical area across the entire north Indian plains.

If one juxtaposes these phases with the events of the Mahabharata Epic, it appears that at the end of the War the region changed from a period of several isolated, independent kingdoms to that of a larger state. The unification created at the end might have provided the climate in which epic poetry was patronized by the king. This idea supports the view that the growth of the Epic from its original form took place during the transition to the Integration Era or perhaps at the end of the Localization Era.

The Date of the Mahabharata
Let’s consider the epoch for the Mahabharata War. By popular tradition, the Kali Age started with the death of Krishna, 35 years after the War. The Kali calendar has a beginning of 3102 BC, therefore it is thought that the Mahabharata War took place in 3137 BC. The Kali age is supposed to have begun with a grand planetary conjunction. The first mention of the Kali calendar is by the astronomer Aryabhata in his treatise on astronomy with an internal date of 500 AD. The earliest epigraphical reference is in the 5th Century inscription of King Devasena where it is alluded to indirectly, and in the Aihole inscription of 3735 Kali (634 AD). Because of these late references, some scholars have suggested that the Kali calendar was started at a late period with an assumed conjunction at the beginning of the era for convenience of calculations, and, therefore, the Aihole inscription cannot be taken as proof of the date of the War.

Wood carving of a scene from the Mahabharata

Wood carving of a scene from the Mahabharata (Photo credit: thaths)

Modern studies using powerful software that can reconstruct the ancient skies indicates that there was actually an approximate conjunction of the planets on Feb 17, 3102 BC as taken by Aryabhata. This may only be a coincidence. Even if the Kali calendar is as old as its starting date, its connections with the Mahabharata War do not appear to be equally ancient. There are also other traditions related to the War. Some of them are old, some new. The most prominent competing theories may be gathered into the following four classes :

1. The date of around 1000 BC. This is the date popularized by Western Indologists as being most “reasonable” based on archaeological data. Repeated in numerous school texts, it has achieved a certain kind of canonicity. This date was first proposed within the framework of the Aryan invasion theory. Although that theory has been discredited, this date has taken independent life of its own.

2. The date of 1924 BC. Based on Puranic genealogies that see a gap of 1000 years or so between the War and the rule of the Nandas (424 BC) we get the date of 1424 BC. But Pargiter, while editing these accounts from the various Puranas, suggested that the original number was 1,500 which was wrongly copied in various texts as 1000, 1015, or 1050. Accepting the arguments, therefore, we consider the Puranic tradition to support the date of 1924 BC. Furthermore, the date of 1424 BC sits in the middle of an obscure period, and it is hard to see how the events of that age would not have left markers in the archaeological record.

3. The date of 2449 BC. This is based on a statement by Varahamihira in 505 AD in chapter 13 of the Brihat Samhita, where it is claimed that the commencement of the Saka era took place 2,526 years after the rule of the king Yudhisthira. If the Saka era meant here is the Salivahana era (78 AD), then the date follows. Some scholars have suggested that this Saka era refers to the one started by an earlier Saka king in Central Asia and that this date is not at variance with the Kali date of Aryabhata.

4. The date of 3137 BC. The traditional value, mentioned by Aryabhata and in the Aihole inscription of 634 AD.

Let us examine these three different dates while considering the evidence from the Mahabharata, the Puranas, archaeology and astronomy.

The Mahabharata Epic and Archaeology
Is the Mahabharata epic — the text of 100,000 verses — which is a source for the events of the War to be taken as history? The epic itself claims to have been originally just 8,800 verses composed by Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa and called the Jaya. Later, it became 24,000 verses, called the Bharata, when it was recited by Vaisampayana. Finally, it was recited as the 100,000 versed epic (the Mahabharata) by Ugrasravas, the son of Lomaharsana.

Thus the tradition acknowledges that the Mahabharata grew in stages. The core of the story is very ancient and there is astronomical evidence in it related to the Asvamedha rite that indicates a period before the 3rd millennium BC. The details of the final version may very well include episodes that are poetic exaggerations or imagined material. We see such poetic imagination at work by comparing the Ramayanas of Valmiki and Tulasidas. We may also compare the story of Radha, who does not appear in the Mahabharata or the Bhagavata Purana, who has become a part of the Krsna legend due to later texts.

Many of the characters of the Mahabharata are mentioned in the Vedic texts that, on account of being considered sacred, have not suffered interpolations and should thus represent historical persons. Krsna, for example, is mentioned in the Chandogya Upanisad. Other names occurring elsewhere include Vicitravirya, Santanu, Dhrtarastra, Janamejaya, and Pariksit.

Due to its expansion over several centuries, the Epic includes late material. This means that dating the events of the Epic based on archaeological finds could be misleading. Some scholars have correlated the painted grey ware (PGW) pottery of the period of 1100-900 BC found in Hastinapur (modern Hathipur) to the Kauravas. But there is no basis for such correlation. The Kurukshetra site itself has structures that go back to about 3000 BC.

Panini’s grammar (c. 400 BC) knows the Mahabharata. In the sutra 6.2.38, it mentions both the Bharata and the Mahabharata. Also, the Epic, in its long descriptions of the religions of the day, describes the Vedic, Sankhya, Yoga, Pasupata, and the Bhagavata traditions. There is no mention of Buddhism, so we can be certain that it was substantially complete prior to 400 or 500 BC. The language of the Epic does not always follow Paninian constructions which also indicates that it is prior to 500 BC.

Even the political life described in the Mahabharata does not correspond to the imperial ages of 400 BC – 400 AD that has sometimes been assigned to it in the West. Cattle raids occur prominently in it, not imperial conquest. There is no reference to the Sisunaga kings, the Nandas, the Mauryas, or the Sungas. On the other hand, the Buddhist Jatakas, that were written during the times of these dynasties, are aware of the characters of the Epic. One Jataka, for example, speaks disparagingly of Draupadi for having four husbands.

Dion Chrysostom, Greek Sophist (40-105 AD) mentions that the Indians possess an Iliad of 100,000 verses. Together with its appendix, the Harivamsa, the Epic does add up to this total.

Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that the Sarasvati river dried up around 1900 BC, leading to the collapse of the Harappan civilization that was principally located in the Sarasvati region (accounting for about 70 percent of all the Harappan sites). The Rigveda celebrates the Sarasvati as the greatest river of its day, going from the mountains to the sea (giribhya asamudrat in RV 7.95.2).

There are two schools of thought related to the drying up of the Sarasvati river. According to the first one, the Sarasvati ceased to be a seagoing river about 3000 BC, explaining why the 3rd millennium settlements on the banks of the Sarasvati river end in the Bahawalpur region of the Punjab and do not reach the sea; there was a further shrinking of the river in about 1900 BC due to an earthquake that made its two principal tributaries to be captured by the Sindhu and the Ganga river systems. According to the second view, the Sarasvati flowed to the sea until 1900 BC when it dried up. The first view explains the geographical situation related to the Harappan sites more convincingly.

Given the understanding of the drying up of Sarasvati, with its preeminent status during the Rigvedic times, it follows that the Rigvedic hymns are generally anterior to 1900 BC. If one accepts the theory that the Sarasvati stopped reaching the sea in 3000 BC, then the Rigvedic hymns are prior to 3000 BC. If the tradition that Vyasa was the arranger of the Vedas is correct, the latter explanation would mean that the Mahabharata War could indeed have occurred in 3137 BC.

This detailed map shows the locations of Kingd...

The Puranic Tradition
The Puranic lists come down to the 4th or the 5th century AD and they are quite accurate in their details for the post-Mauryan period for which independent inscriptional evidence is available. One would expect that they would be accurate for the period prior to the Mauryas also. The regnal years are given in the Puranas only for the post-War kings.

The king-list for Magadha has the following dynasties in the post-Bharata War period :
1. Brhadrathas (32 kings) 967 yeats
2. Pradyotas of Avanti (5 kings) 173 years
3. Sisunagas (10 kings) 360 years
4. Nandas (Mahapadma + sons) 100 years
5. Mauryas (9 kings) 137 years
6. Sungas (10 kings) 112 years
7. Kanvas (4 kings) 45 years
8. Andhras (30 kings) 460 years

One may question the reliability of the earlier parts of this list since the average span of reign for the pre-Nanda kings is more than twice as much for the post-Nanda ones. The explanation appears to be that it was during the imperial Maurya age that comprehensive king-lists were made and, consequently, only the better-known names of the earlier period were included. The centennial counting system, named after the naksatras, made certain that the count of the dynastic totals was accurate. The length of the Brhadratha dynasty may also be questioned. But, it may represent the cumulative sum of several early dynasties.

During the pre-Nanda period, the lists also provide for 24 Aiksavakus, 27 Pancalas, 24 kings of Kasi, 28 Haihayas, 32 Kalingas, 25 Asmakas, 36 Kurus, 28 Maithilas, and 23 Surasenas.

We know that Candragupta Maurya started his reign in 324 BC. Therefore, if we were to accept these periods, the dynastic eras for the post-Bharata age will be :
1. Brhadrathas 1924-957 BC
2. Pradyotas 957-784 BC
3. Shishunagas 784-424 BC
4. Nandas 424-324 BC
5. Mauryas 324-187 BC  and so on.

It is most significant that the Puranic king-lists imply 1924 BC as the epoch of the Mahabharata War. Since this epoch is virtually identical to the rough date of 1900 BC for the catastrophic drying up of the Sarasvati river, it suggests that the two might be linked if they are not the same. The disruption due to the earthquake may have been a contributing factor to the Mahabharata War, or the War could have served as a metaphor for the geological catastrophe.

Around 500 CE, a major review of the Indian calendar was attempted. The astronomers Aryabhata, Varahamihira and others used the naksatra references that the Saptarsi were in Magha at the time of the Mahabharata war to determine its epoch. Aryabhata declared the war to have occurred in 3137 BC, and Varahamihira assigned it 2449 BC. This discrepancy arose perhaps from the different assumpptions regarding the naksatras (27 or 28) in the calculations of the two astronomers.

It is likely that the fame of the Kaliyuga era with its beginning assigned to 3102 BCE prompted a change in the beginning of the Saptarshi era to about the same time, that is to 3076 BC.

The Puranic memory of the Mahabharata war having occurred in 1924 BC may represent the transference of a much earlier event to the cataclysmic event at the end of the Harappan period. The memory of the War in popular imagination may represent the conflation of two different actual events.

The date of 1000 BC or so is just not possible because it is at variance with the astronomical facts related to the period. Furthermore, it is at variance with the Puranic genealogies which, we know, are quite accurate in the post-Mauryan period and are likely to have been accurate earlier as well. Then there are various remembered lines of teachers that show up in various texts. Specifically, the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad remembers a line of 60 teachers. We don’t know how many years should be assigned to each teacher but this line could span substantially more than a thousand years. Given that this Upanishad is about 800-600 BC in the most conservative reckoning, this long list makes it impossible for the Rigvedic period to end in 1000 BC, as required by the War in that epoch.

This leaves us with the dates of 1924 BC and 3137 BC. I don’t think we have evidence at this time to pick one of these two as the more likely one. If one gives credence to the Puranic genealogies, then 1924 BC would be the time for the War; if, on the other hand, we go by the astronomical evidence related to the Vedas and the subsequent literature, then 3137 BC remains a plausible date. If the pre-Nanda Puranic lists are not accurate for the regnal periods, then the War will have occurred a few centuries later than 1924 BC.

The Indic Kings of the West

Mahabharata mentions that of the five descendents of Yayati, two became Yavanas and the Mlecchas. This seems to remember a westward emigration. This particular migration may have occurred in a very early period in the Vedic world that spanned Jambudvipa and the trans-Himalayan region of Uttara Kuru. We have a later evidence for another westward movement to the lands ranging from Babylonia to Turkey.

The Mitanni, who worshiped Vedic gods, were an Indic kingdom that had bonds of marriage across several generations with the Egyptian 18th dynasty to which Akhenaten belonged. The Mitanni were known to the Egyptians as the Naharin, connected to the river (nahar), very probably referring to the Euphrates. At its peak, the Mitanni empire stretched from Kirkuk (ancient Arrapkha) and the Zagros mountains in western Iran in the east, through Assyria to the Mediterranean sea in the west. Its center was in the region of the Khabur River, where its capital, Wassukkani (Vasukhani, “a mine of wealth”) was probably located.

The first Mitanni king was Sutarna I (good sun). He was followed by Baratarna I (Paratarna, great sun), Parasuksatra (ruler with axe), Saustatar (Sauksatra, son of Suksatra, the good ruler), Paratarna II, Artadama (Rtadhaman, abiding in cosmic law), Sutarna II, Tushratta (Dasaratha), and finally Matiwazza (Mativaja, whose wealth is thought) during whose lifetime the Mitanni state appears to have become a vassal to Assyria.

The early years of the Mitanni empire were occupied in the struggle with Egypt for control of Syria. The greatest Mitanni king was Sauksatra who reigned during the time of Tuthmose III. He was said to have looted the Assyrian palace at Ashur. Under the reign of Tuthmose IV, more friendly relations were established between the Egyptians and the Mitanni.

The daughter of King Artadama was married to Tuthmose IV, Akhenaten’s grandfather, and the daughter of Sutarna II (Gilukhipa) was married to his father, Amenhotep III, the great builder of temples who ruled during 1390-1352 BC (“khipa” of these names is the Sanskrit ksipa, night). In his old age, Amenhotep wrote to Tushratta many times wishing to marry his daughter, Tadukhipa. It appears that by the time she arrived Amenhotep III was dead. Tadukhipa was now married to the new king Akhenaten, becoming famous as the queen Kiya (short for Khipa).

The Egyptian kings had other wives as well. Akhenaten’s mother, Tiye, was the daughter of Yuya, who was a Mitanni married to a Nubian. It appears that Nefertiti was the daughter of Tiye’s brother Ay, who was to become king himself. The 18th dynasty had a liberal dose of Indic blood.

But how could an Indic kingdom be so far from India, near Egypt ? A plausible scenario is that after catastrophic earthquakes dried up the Sarasvati river around 1900 BC, many groups of Indic people started moving West. We see Kassites, a somewhat shadowy aristocracy with Indic names and worshiping Surya and the Maruts, in Western Iran about 1800 BC. They captured power in Babylon in 1600 BC, which they were to rule for over 500 years. The Mitanni ruled northern Mesopotamia (including Syria) for about 300 years, starting 1600 BC, out of their capital of Vasukhani. Their warriors were called marya, which is the proper Sanskrit term for it.

In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Indic deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Asvins) are invoked. A text by a Mitannian named Kikkuli uses words such as 8aika (eka, one), tera ( tri, three), panza (panca, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana}, round). Another text has babru (babhru, brown), parita (palita, grey), and pinkara (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of visuva} (solstice) very much like in India.

It is not only the kings who had Sanskrit names; a large number of other Sanskrit names have been unearthed in the records from the area. Documents and contract agreements in Syria mention a warrior caste that constituted the elite in the cities. The ownership of land appears to have been inalienable. Consequently, no documents on the selling of landed property are to be found in the great archives of Akkadian documents and letters discovered in Nuzi. The prohibition against selling landed property was dodged with the stratagem of “adopting” a willing buyer against an appropriate sum of money.

Information of the mythology of the Hurrians of the Mitanni is known from related Hittite and Ugaritic myths. The king of the gods was the weather god Teshub who had violently deposed Kumarbi paralleling the killing of Vrtra by Indra. Major sanctuaries of Teshub were located at Arrapkha (modern Kirkuk) and at Halab (modern Aleppo) in Syria. Like Indra, Teshub also had a solar aspect. In the east his consort was the goddess of love and war Shaushka (Venus), and in the west the goddess Hebat (Hepat). In addition, a considerable importance was attributed to impersonal gods such as heaven and earth as well as to deities of mountains and rivers. Temple monuments of modest dimensions have been unearthed.

The general Indic influence in the area may also be seen in the comprehensiveness of the god lists. The most “official” god list, in two Ugaritic copies and one Akkadian translation, consists of 33 items, exactly as is true of the count of Vedic gods. These gods are categorized into three classes, somewhat like the three classes of the Vedic gods, although there are difference in details.

The main Semitic gods are Yahvah and El or (Il or al-Il, as Allah) The Rgveda mentions Yahvah in 21 different hymns. Ila is the deity for the Rgvedic Apri hymns and it represents Agni in Yajurveda (VS) 2.3, whereas Ilaa represents Earth, speech, and flow.

The Vedic Yahvah is, as an epithet, associated with movement, activity, heaven and earth; it means the sacrificer and Agni, the chief terrestrial god. It is associated with energy like the Yahvah of the Semites. It may be compared to Shivah, an epithet for auspiciousness in the Rigveda, that later is applied regularly to Rudra. It is plausible that the Vedic Ila and Yahvah were adopted by the Semites through the mediating agency of the Mitanni.

Greek accounts tell us that the Ugaritic believed in a cosmic egg out of which the earth emerged which is reminiscent of brahmanda of the Vedic view.How do we know that the Mitanni were Indic and not Iranian? There are several reasons, but to be brief, we shall only give three :

1. the deities Indra, Mitra, Varuna, and Nasatya are Indian deities and not Iranian ones, because in Iran Varuna is unknown and Indra and Nasatya appear as demons;

2. the name Vasukhani makes sense in Sanskrit as a “mine of wealth” whereas in Iranian it means “good mine” which is much less likely;

3. satta, or sapta, for seven, rather than the Iranian word hapta, where the initial `s’ has been changed to `h’.

Why could not the Mitanni be the descendents of a pre-Vedic people as in the Gimbutas model of the spread of the Indo-Iranian people from the Kurgan culture of the steppes of Central Asia ? They would then have had no particular affinity for Indic deities. If the pre-Vedic people in Central Asia already had Indin deities, how would these small bands of people impose their culture and language over what was perhaps the most densely
populated region of the ancient world.

Furthermore, that view does not square with our knowledge of the astronomical tradition within India. The Vedic Samhitas have very early astronomical and its geography is squarely within India. The Vedanga Jyotisa, a late Vedic text, already belongs to the middle of the second millennium BC. The earlier texts remember events within the Indic geographical area going back to the third and the fourth millennia BC. The theory of a proto-Indo-Aryan people in Iran from whom the Aryans of India descended in the second millennium BC does not work for the same reasons.

The idea of invasion or large-scale immigration of outsiders into India displacing the original population in the middle of the second millennium BC has been rejected since it is not in accord with archaeological facts, skeletal records, and the continuity of the cultural tradition.

The Indian textual tradition also does not permit us to accept the Gimbutas model because of the length of time required for the rise of the voluminous Indian literature. Over fifty years ago, Roger T. O’Callaghan and W.F. Albright published in Analecta Orientalia of Rome a list of 81 names (13 from the Mitanni, 23 from the Nuzi, and 45 from the Syrian documents) with Indic etymologies. Out of this list, Dumont has provided the etymology of 45 names.

Analyzing the names, Dumont concludes that the names are clearly Indic and not Iranian. The initial s is maintained and the group s’v is represented by the similar sounding sw and not the Avestan aspo. Also, most of the names are bahuvrihi or tatpurusa compounds.

Considering the language, it is clearly an Indic dialect because the initial v is replaced by b, while medial v becomes the semivowel w. Like Middle Indic (Prakrit) dialects, the medial pt transforms into tt, as in sapta becoming satta. Dumont stresses its relationship to Sanskrit in the characteristic patronymic names with the vrddhi-strengthening of the first syllable, like in Saumati (the son of Sumati) or Sausapti (the son of Susapti). The worship of the Vedic gods like Indra, Vayu, Svar, Soma, Rta, Vasus has already been noted.

The fact the the Mitanni names suggest a Middle Indic dialect is supportive of the thesis that the emigration of the various groups from India took place after the early Vedic period had come to an end. Our argument actually goes beyond the presence of people in West Asia whose languages were Indic, as was the case with the Mitanni. There is evidence that Indic religion and culture had adherents even outside of groups with Indic speech.

English: Darius I the Great's inscription. Pos...

The Avesta speaks of the struggle between the worshipers of Ahura Mazda and the daevas. Zarathustra nowhere names the daevas and it is only in the later texts that Indra and the Nasatyas are so labeled. Many of the Vedic devas (such as Mitra, Bhaga, Agni, Vayu, and Indra as Vrtraghna) continue to be counted amongst the good ahuras. It appears that the triple division of deva/asura/raksasa corresponding to sattva/rajas/tamas was divided into the dichotomy deva versus asura/raksasa in India and that of deva/asura versus daeva (raksasa) in Iran. The term daeva as synonym with raksasa and distinct from deva survives in Kashmir.

The ahura-daeva opposition in the Zoroastrian texts is expressed as one between the Mazdayasnas and the Daevayasnas. It is a conflict in which Zoroaster wished to defeat and convert the worshipers of the daeva religion. The Yasts speak of legendary heroes and kings who participated in this struggle. The wars against the Daevayasnas by Vistaspa (Yt. 5.109, 113; 9.30-31), Jamaspa (Yt. 5.68-70), and Vistaru of the Naotara family (Yt. 5.76-77) represent this ongoing conflict in the historical period.

In Vendidad, the Zoroastrians are encouraged to take possession of the lands, waters, and harvests of the daeva worshipers (Vd. 19.26). Elsewhere (Vd. 7.36-40), it is recommended that the art of medicine should be first tried on the daeva-worshipers and if they survive then it should be attempted on the Mazdayasnians.

Although the Zoroastrian heresy triumphed in Iran and the great Persian kings of the middle of first millennium BC followed the religion of Ahura Mazda, the daeva worshipers survived, especially in the West, in the Mesopotamian religion.

The devas as well as daevas survived for a pretty long time in corners of Iran. The evidence of the survival of the devas comes from the daiva- inscription of Xerxes (ruled 486-465 BC). The revolt by the daeva worshipers in West Iran is directly referred to :

Proclaims Xerxes the King : When I became king, there is among these countries one which was in rebellion. Afterwards Ahuramazda bore me aid. By the favor of Ahuramazda I smote that country and put it down in its place.

And among these countries there was a place where previously daiva were worshiped. Afterwards, by the favor of Ahuramazda I destroyed that sanctuary of daiva, and I made proclamation: ‘The daiva shall not be worshiped!’ Where previously the daiva were worshiped, there I worshiped Ahuramazda at the proper time and in the proper manner. And there was other business that had been done ill. That I made good. That which I did, all did by the favor of Ahuramazda. Ahuramazda bore me aid until I completed the work. 

The analysis of early Persian history has shown that the Mazandaran, the region south of the Caspian sea and the Alburz mountain range, remained for long a centre of daeva worship. There were also the successors to the deva worshipers of the Mitanni kingdom.

It has been suggested that the Xerxes inscription refers to the suppression of these people. Burrow takes the daeva worshiping people to be proto-Indoaryans and sees them as the remnants of a population that stretched from West Asia to India. The Iranians coming down from the northeast drove a wedge between this belt, leading to the eventual assimilation of the western daeva worshipers in the course of centuries.

Irrespective of what the original movement of the Indo-Aryans was before the fourth or fifth millennium BC, it is clear that since their Indian branch recognizes the geography of only their region, it is either necessary to push back the proto-Indoaryan phase to the fourth or the fifth millennium BC or to postulate their movement out of India as is suggested in the Puranas.

Concluding Remarks
The material from the Mahabharata and the Puranas provides us many tangled hints. Given the extensive nature of the king-lists and the teacher-lists it is impossible that the origin of the Mahabharata-Purana tradition could be brought down to the beginning of the second millennium BC as espoused by the proponents of the theories of Aryan invasion and migration. The Mahabharata War occurs at the 94th generation in these lists, and even if one were to assign just 20 years for each generation and assume that the lists were exhaustive, one would have to account for nearly 2,000 years before the War which, even in the most conservative dating for the War, takes us square into the beginnings of the Integration Era of the SS Tradition.

The Epic and Puranic evidence on the geographical situation supports the notion of the shifting of the centre of the Vedic world from the Sarasvati to the Ganga region in early second millennium BC. O.P. Bharadwaj’s excellent study of the Vedic Sarasvati using textual evidence12 supports the theory that the Rgveda is to be dated about 3000 BC and the Mahabharata War must have occurred about that time.

The Mahabharata clearly belongs to a heroic age, prior to the rise of the complexity of urban life. The weapons used are mythical or clubs. The narrative of chariots could be a later gloss added in the first millennium BC. The pre-urban core events of the Epic would fit the 3137 BC date much better than the 1924 BC. But this would suggest that the Puranic tradition at a later time conflated earlier events with the destructive earthquakes of 1924 BC and remembered the later event accurately using the centennial Saptarsi calendar.

The Indic kings of West Asia are descendents of Vedic people who moved West after the catastrophe of 1924 BC.

Visnu with his consorts Laksmi and Sarasvati (...

Journal : Ek Doctor Ki Maut

It is the name of a Hindi Movie meaning : The Death Of  A Doctor.

Ashok Khemka writes on Facebook :

“On 11th april, 2013, when I heard a news about the death of the great British physiologist Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards, a pioneer in ‘In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)’, which led to the birth of the first test-tube baby, I became suddenly sad. The media all over the world was covering his death. No doubt he was a great physiologist : he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the development of in vitro fertilization.

“But I am not sad about his death. Actually I just remembered one of the my favourite Hindi Movie ‘Ek Doctor Ki Maut’, directed by Tapan Sinha, and the tragic story of Dr Subhash Mukhopadhyay, on whose life the movie is based.”

Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay was born on January 16, 1931 in Hazaribagh, now in Jharkhand. He graduated in 1955 with an honours degree in physiology and later, in 1958, earned a doctorate in reproductive physiology. In 1967, Dr Mukhopadhya obtained a second doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in reproductive endocrinology.

Kanupriya Agarwal aka Durga, the first test tube baby of India, was brought to life by Dr Subhas Mukhopadhyay on October 3, 1978, just 67 days after the world’s first test-tube baby, Marie Louise Brown, was born. In their procedure, Dr Edwards had collected the ovum by using a laproscope. But Dr. Mukhopadhyay did not; instead, he increased the number of ovum collected by using a hormone, to enhance the probability of fertilisation.

But the country failed Dr Mukhopadhya. In November 1978, an ‘expert committee’ was appointed by the Government of West Bengal under the State medical association to decide over the fate of a “convict” named Dr. Subhas Mukhopahyay. None of committee members had a clue about modern reproductive technology; none had ever seen an embryos in their lifetime.

Dr Mukhopadhya was charged for having claimed that he was the architect of a human test tube baby named Durga. The great Doctor denounced the Committee’s report in the media. He had made the impossible possible with few general apparatus and a refrigerator,  in his small Southern Avenue flat. He never bowed before the bureaucracy and his straightforwardness always evoked jealousy among his peers.

Committee’s Verdict :  “Everything that Dr. Mukhopadhyay claims is bogus.”

Thanks to inimical peers and disinterested bureaucrats, he suffered the punishment of being transferred to ophthalmic department, which sealed his prospect to work on hormones.

Facing social ostracization, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand and insult from the State government, and refusal of Government of India to allow him to attend international conferences, Dr Mukhpadhyay remained in a state of shocked and depression and finally committed suicide on June 19, 1981.

” Termite – in the form of corruption, ignorance, and arrogance of our bureaucrats and politicians – mercilessly finished one more ‘treasure of India’.

” I want to pay a tribute to him by sharing his triumph with you and also I want to share my sadness for the ‘Indian Peaple’ that lost ‘A Great Visionary in the field of Medical Science’.

” Please share this with all your friends, and let every Indian know about this great physiologist.”

For more Hidden Treasures of India, indly visit “

Journal : Legend And Conjuration


A Travel Diary

By Nicholas Roerich

[ Published by Claude Bragdon ]

Part VIII : INDIA (1924)

Are the inhabitants of Sikhim poor ?

Where there are no riches there is no poverty. The people are living simply.

Upon the hills, amidst blossoming trees, stand the quiet little houses. Through the colored branches shine the bright stars and glimmer the snow-covered peaks. Here are people carrying their vege­tables; here, they pasture their cattle and smile kindly. Here, with fairylike music they walk along the steep paths in wedding processions. Knowing of reincarnation they quietly cremate the bodies. And they are singing. Mark, they are often singing.

Verily, one can sing under a canopy of various flowers and plants. Orchids, like colorful eyes, cling to the trunks of the giant trees. Pink, purple and yellow bouquets are strewn along the way like bright sparks. And these are not simply plants; many have their ancient powers of healing.

Nature awaits here full of gifts. Come hither and be cured. Charura, Parura, Orrura are the three important curative fruits against cough, cold and fever. Charura is like a yellow cherry; Parura like a green chestnut and Orrura like a yellowish-green crab-apple. All three are sharp to the taste and full of tannin. Here is the red bark of Aku Ombo, to cure wounds. Salve against fever is Sergi Phurba, like a dry giant bean. Chuta, the dry bitter root, will cure swelling and heal the throat. Bassack is a brown powder for colds. The red-stemmed Tze produces magenta; bitter Purma is for incenses. A broth from the roots of Berekuro is effective for women’s ailments. The flowers of Dangero heal the stomach, much like the flower of the red rhodo­dendron; while the leaf of Dysro is a disinfectant for wounds. Memshing Pati is a sacred plant in Nepal, where it is used for head ornaments at festivals. Endless are the useful plants…

The leaves of the herb Ava Duti are said “to soften” stones, just as do the “snow-frogs” * in the Himalayas. Therefore, if upon a stone you see the print of an elk’s foot or the paw of an animal, it seems they have eaten or touched this wondrous herb. Turning again to legends : near Phalut, on the road to Kanchenjunga, grows a precious plant, the black aconite. Its flower lights up at night, and by its glow one locates this rare plant. Here again is the trace of the legend of the Russian fire flower, that enchanted blossom which fulfills all wishes— and which leads us not to superstition but to that same source wherein so much still lies concealed.

* Snow-frogs”—a legend which attributes to snow-frogs the ability to soften stones.

Before our gates was found a strange gift. The branches of a fir tree, rhododendron and some other plants were there, with their leaves pointing to our house, and covered with a flat stone. This is a conjuration (Sunnium) and the man who raises this offering receives upon himself all which is sworn upon it, whether of good or evil, sickness or sorrow, or joy. For many days it lay there and even horses shied at it. The same conjuration we observed in the suburb of Jaipur; there in the middle of a street, in a flat basket, lay a lamb’s liver, flowers and three silver rupees. None touched them. These conjurations are of very ancient origin.

Everywhere are legends of the accidental discoveries of sacred spots, the revelation of which was followed by dumbness and even death. Thus it is told that one Shikari (a hunter) in Assam, accidentally wandered into a sacred place and beheld its mys­teries, and when he attempted to reveal them he was stricken dumb.

On the shore of the sea is moving a stick. It moves on alone and near the top of it is tied a lighted tinder. Thus do the conjurers of the coast of Malabar invoke their conjurations to burn the house of an enemy. Doctor Jones of Calcutta tried to overtake such a stick but it “walked away” beyond his own pace.

A legend from around Mongolia : “A venerated mother died and her son was desirous that a high lama possessed of exalted powers should perform the services over her. But such a lama could not be found. The son at the moment of death deposited the spirit of the departing one into a sandalwood casket, strongly sealed this sanctuary and himself invited the best lamas from Tibet. The lamas concentrated upon the casket; one of them be­gan to change in countenance, first becoming red, then blue from exertion. Then suddenly the casket burst into splinters before the eyes of all. This lama was able to free the spirit and thus could perform the service.”

The people here know everything; they have heard everything. One can remember and disclose all things in the twilight : of “Nam-Yg” (heavenly letters)—the letters and sacred books which are falling from heaven; of rings of silver or turquoise which change their color as a sign of foreboding and warning; of Si, the stone bead, sent from heaven to guard the health; of the finding of objects which disappear afterward. All this is known.

A woman was very pious and dreamt that she might receive the image of Buddha. Working in the morning amid her flowers she discovered an image and brought it into her shrine. But soon she forgot it and Buddha disappeared from the shrine. Next time the woman found in her garden a whirling sparkling stone and put it into a coffer and forgot it. Then the stone disappeared. Neglect always results in the disappearance of the bestowed happiness.

Do not record the things which can be read in books but those which are related to you in person; for those thoughts are the living ones. Not by the book but by the thought shall you judge life.

Understand the sparks of the primordial bliss.

Journal : Armenian History

Armenian culture is one of the oldest … alongwith Jewish, Indo-Iranian and Indo-Aryan, with close-knit families, education and enterprise, community values for peaceful co-existence, and their own ways to worship. But they, and their civilisation, have beeen run over by marauding Turks, Islamists on their west and south, and by the Russians, Communists, in their west and north. The Turkish massacres in early 20th Century dispersed the survivors forever, to distant lands – some to India and many to Europe.

Soghomon Tehlirian – Symbol Of Armenian Travails And Pride

The film 588 Rue Paradis starts with the news of acquittal of Soghomon Tehlirian, an Armenian who is still a citizen of Turkey while living in Germany, who had killed Talaat Pasha in Berlin. The announcement is greeted with elation and everybody is rejoicing because Talaat Pasha was the Minister Of Interior, and later the de facto Head Of The Turkish Government, who had set and overseen execution of the policy that had made the Armenians dispensable … and subject to widespread massacres between 1915 and 1921.

6 mayrig-nercessian-474x3521

It was a very peculiar trial in which the defendant said he was not guilty because ” his conscience was clear !” He said, ” I have killed a man but I am not a murderer.” He added that he saw his mother’s corpse – done in by the Turkish Government’s policies, drawn by Talaat Pasha and his clique of Young Turks – which just stood up before him and and told him, “You know Talaat is here and yet you do not seem to be concerned. You are no longer my son.” The events in the background of that trial were very close and important to people of Armenian origin everywhere. 

Soghomon Tehlirian had witnessed the 1915 massacre at his hometown, Erzinga, in Asian Turkey. Thereafter, his well – off family went through the hell of displacement and suffered much privation. At his trial, he reported that there had been a massacre in Erzinga in 1894 as well. Some 40,000 Armenians were massacred in Adana in 1909. So, they all lived in fear of a repeat.

In May 1915, word had spread that all schools were to be closed and that the leaders of the Armenian community, and the teachers, were to be sent elsewhere in groups. In June early, the people were gathered, stripped of their money and valuables, and marched out. His parents were killed on the first day of the march and Turkish soldiers robbed them of whatever they had. He had no idea how many days it had gone on. They cracked open the skull of his brother, raped and killed his sister. He was left injured in the leg and a bleeding arm. He escaped and found shelter and care with an old Kurdish woman’s family, but only untill he had healed. 

A fugitive since then, Soghomon came across news of massacres elsewhere, widely spread. Without a hat or shoe, he crossed the mountains into Persia and was arrested by Russian soldiers. In 1916, when the Russians captured Erzinga, he returned to his hometown only to find that just two Armenian families had survived and both had converted to Moslem faith. Of the 20,000 people in the village, only 20 odd had lived. He dug out 4800 gold pieces the family had hidden in the home, now in ruins. He shifted to another town, learnt Russian language for five months and, in 1919, went to Constantinople, where he placed an advertisement for his lost family members. He moved over to Greece, then to Salonika for curing his nervous disorder, and finally to Paris. 

At Constantinople, Soghomon had found out the main culprit behind the massacres, the Armenian genocide. It was Talaat Pasha who, along with Kemal and Erver, had been sentenced to death by a court martial in the city. Kemal was found and hanged. Living in Paris, Soghomon studied French for a year, then he went to Geneva before landing in Berlin, where he hired a tutor to teach him German. It was there that he saw Talaat Pasha and discovered the building in which he lived.

Soghomon too moved over to a building in Charlottenburg, just across from Pasha’s residence. He was still a nervous wreck, who played mandolin, took dancing lessons and, as the indictment declared, was a student of Mechanical Engineering. One day, he saw Pasha come out of his building, with all the gruesome images of the massacre in his mind and the wrenching loss of his parents and his family members in his heart. He pulled out the loaded pistol he had concealed with his underclothes, followed Pasha from across the street untill he came level, then crossed over and shot Talaat Pasha point blank in the head. Upon arrest, Soghomon admitted to the act of killing the killer of his parents and the Armenian people. 

At the trial, one of the witnesses, co-habiting the same building, described Soghomon thus : The defendant lived in my building. I have only complimentary things to say about him. He was very well behaved and modest. I have no maid and, therefore, I do all the housework. The defendant always did whatever he could to make my job easier. For example, he used to polish his own shoes. In every respect, he was decent and modest. In her deposition, the landlady said — He was a kind, modest, quiet, and clean young man. He kept everything in order.

On the morning of March 15th, the day the incident occurred, the maid came in to tell me that the defendant was in his room, crying. A little while later, I thought I would go up to see how he was doing. I was surprised to find him sitting in his room, drinking cognac. Soghomon clarified that he a took a measure of cognac with his tea to overcome his weak physical condition. 

At the same trial, one of the female survivor of the genocide spoke of the massacre in these terms : — Only the men were killed this way. When it grew somewhat dark, the gendarmes came and selected the most beautiful women and girls and kept them for themselves. A gendarme came and wanted me as his woman. Those who did not obey were pierced with bayonets and had their legs torn apart. They even crushed the pelvic bones of pregnant women, took out the fetuses and threw them away… They split open my brother’s head. My mother dropped dead upon seeing this. A Turk came toward me and wanted to take me as his woman; but because I would not consent, he took my son and killed him. 

PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is all this realty true ? You are not imagining it ?

WITNESS — What I have said is the truth. In reality, it was much more horrible than it is possible for me to relate. 

The complete transcript of the trial proceedings is available @ There are undeniable facts on record here about the religious and political drives that made an entire Armenian population “dispensable” in the eyes of the Turkish Governement !

Not much different from what the Jews meant to the Nazis during World War II. To an Indian, Soghomon Tehlirian reminds of Udham Singh, the man who found the opportunity to shoot dead the much protected Gen Dyer, the perpetrator of Jallianwalan Bagh massacre in 1919. 

Monument in memory of S. Tehlerian


Journal : Natives Of The Land

Rich, strong and proud. And smiling …

Smit Bhil Adi Balishta

Journal : The Self-Denying District Collector !

#Salute this unworldly Civil Servant in a country ridden with corruption, immorality and incompetence … It is these rare instances of steeled moral fibre, honesty and truth, that fill my heart with joy and respect ! Such individuals become mirror to the weak or corrupt, wherever they stand.

“District collector, U. Sagayam of Madurai, Tamil Nadu – By refusing to take bribes, the Madurai collector has earned 18 transfers in 20 years, a modest house and bank balance and lots of respect”

Three years ago, as district collector of Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, U. Sagayam voluntarily declared his assets: a bank balance of Rs 7,172 and a house in Madurai worth Rs 9 lakh. Once, when his baby daughter, Yalini, who had breathing problems, was suddenly taken ill, he did not have the Rs 5,000 needed for admitting her to a private hospital. At that time he was deputy commissioner (excise) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, and there were 650 liquor licences to be given out. The going bribe for each was rumoured to be Rs 10,000.

(He needs a special mention here because the assets of an IAS officer-couple in Madhya Pradesh were valued at Rs 360 crore. They had 25 flats in three cities)

‘Reject bribes, hold your head high’, says a board hanging above Sagayam’s chair in his modest office. That’s the code he lives by, even if politicians are incensed they cannot bend him their way—he’s been transferred 18 times in the last 20 years—and has made enemies of both superiors and subordinates. “I know I sit under a dangerous slogan and probably alienate people,” he says. “But I have been the same Sagayam from Day 1. Standing up against corruption is not for a season. Nor is it a fad. It’s forever”, he says.

On a hot summer afternoon, on Madurai’s busy main road, the district collector, U. Sagayam, saw a young man talking on a cellphone while riding a motorbike. He asked his driver to wave the man down, got down from his car and meted out instant punishment: plant 10 saplings within 24 hours. Somewhat unconventional justice, some might say. But that’s how Sagayam works.

He also took on a mighty soft-drink mnc when a consumer showed him a bottle with dirt floating in it. He sealed the bottling unit and banned the sale of the soft drink in the city. In Chennai, he locked horns with a restaurant chain and recovered four acres valued at some Rs 200 crore.

Sagayam’s masters degrees in social work and law come in useful in his role as an administrator. He knows the rulebooks in detail and is not afraid of using them, however powerful the opponent. No wonder then that Sagayam’s career is marked with the scars of countless battles.

Sagayam’s wife Vimala has stood by him all these years but she was rattled by some of the threats during the elections. “He always says if you are right, nobody can hurt you,” she says. “But sometimes it becomes difficult.”

Sagayam says he learnt honesty on his mother’s knees.

Share it with others.

Source :

Journal : The River Sarawati And Its People

Part III : Of The Non – Resident Indian, 5000 Years Ago

“Based on cuneiform documents from Mesopotamia we know that there was at least one Meluhhan village in Akkad at that time, with people called ‘Son of Meluhha‘ living there. The cuneiform inscription (ca. 2020 BCE) says that the cylinder seal belonged to Shu-ilishu, who was a translator of the Meluhhan language. “The presence in Akkad of a translator of the Meluhhan language suggests that he may have been literate and could read the undeciphered Indus script. This in turn suggests that there may be bilingual Akkadian/Meluhhan tablets somewhere in Mesopotamia. Although such documents may not exist, Shu-ilishu’s cylinder seal offers a glimmer of hope for the future in unraveling the mystery of the Indus script.”

(Gregory L. Possehl,Shu-ilishu’s cylinder seal, Expedition, Vol. 48, Number 1, pp. 42-43).

Meluhhan Cylindrical Seal

SilverelamiteAn Elamite statuette showed a person (king?) carrying an antelope on his hands, the same way a Meluhhan carried an antelope on his hands (as shown on a cylinder seal). Antelope carried by the Meluhhan is a hieroglyph: mlekh ‘goat’ (Br.); mr̤eka (Te.); mēṭam (Ta.); meṣam (Skt.) Thus, the goat conveys the message that the carrier is a Meluhha speaker.


Meluhha lay to the east of Magan and was linked with carnelian and ivory. Gujarat was a carnelian source in the ancient world. Possehl locates Meluhha in the mountains of Baluchistan and speaks of meluhhans use of magilum-boat (Possehl, Gregory. : J. Reade (ed.)

The Indian Ocean in Antiquity

Many scholars have noted the contacts between the Mesopotamian and Sarasvati – Sindhu (Indus) Civilizations in terms of cultural history, chronology, artefacts (beads, jewellery), pottery and seals found from archaeological sites in the two areas.

“…the four examples of round seals found in Mohenjodaro show well-supported sequences, whereas the three from Mesopotamia show sequences of signs not paralleled elsewhere in the Indus Script. But the ordinary square seals found in Mesopotamia show the normal Mohenjodaro sequences. In other words, the square seals are in the Indian language, and were probably imported in the course of trade; while the circular seals, although in the Indus script, are in a different language, and were probably manufactured in Mesopotamia for a Sumerian – or Semitic – speaking person of Indian descent…”

[G.R. Hunter,1932. Mohenjodaro–Indus Epigraphy, JRAS:466-503]

The acculturation of Meluhhans residing in Mesopotamia in the late third and early second millennium BC is noted by their adoption of Sumerian names (Parpola, S., Parpola, A., and Brunswig, R.H. Jr. 1977.

“The adaptation of Harappan motifs and script to the Dilmun seal form may be a further indication of the acculturative phenomenon, one indicated in Mesopotamia by the adaptation of Harappan traits to the cylinder seal.” (Brunswig et al,1983, p. 110).

“Indian-style” seals have been found in Sumeria. In 1932, CJ Gadd published such seals from Mesopotamia (some of these are identified as Dilmun seals coming from Failaka and Bahrein Gulf islands).

Massimo Vidale notes : As the identification of the land of Meluhha with the coastal areas controlled by the Indus Civilization is almost universally accepted, the textual evidence dealing with individuals qualified as “men” or “sons” of Meluhha or called with the ethnonym Meluhha, living in Mesopotamia and of a “Meluhha village” established at Lagash (and presumably at other major cities as well) unescapably points to the existence of enclaves settled by Indian mmigrants…

Meluhhan ships exported to Mesopotamia precious goods among which exotic animals, such as dogs, perhaps peacocks, cocks, bovids, elephants, precious woods and royal furniture, precious stones such as carnelian, agate and lapis lazuli, and metals like gold, silver and tin…

Akkadian text records that Lu-sunzida ‘a man of Meluhha’ paid to the servant Urur, son of Amar-lu-KU 10 shekels of silver as payment for a tooth broken in a clash. The name Lu-sunzida literally means ‘Man of the just buffalo cow’ … a name, although rendered in Sumerian, according to the authors, “does not make sense in the Mesopotamian cultural sphere, and must be a translation of an Indian name…” (Massimo Vidale, 2004)

Though cylinder seals are normally associated with Metopotamian civilization, Sibri and Kalibangan have yielded cylinder seals, but with unique glyphs of the script. SR Rao found a Gulf seal at Lothal.

In Sargon I’s reign (ca. 2370 BCE), a reference is made to ‘holder of a Meluhha ship’. A seal in British Museum (ca. 2250 BCE) lists enemies of King Naram-Sin, among them is a ‘man of Meluhha’ by the name of _ibra. “Meluhha was used as a personal name for some people. Urkal, Ur-dlam were called the ‘son of meluhha’. A person called Nin-ana is identified with the village of Meluhha. Meluhha was also identified with specific products : giS-ab-ba-me-lu-hha (abba wood); giS-ha-lu-ub (Haluppu wood).


Numerous Mesopotamian documents, spanning several centuries, refer to the lands of Meluhha, Makkan, and Dilmun. Modern scholars identify Meluhha with Indus – Sarasvati Valley, Makkan with Makran and Omani coasts, and Dilmun with Bahrain, Failaka and the adjacent Arabian coastline. These three far-flung lands were important partners in the trade network Mesopotamians had.

A brief overview of the major literary references includes :

 Sargon’s inscription referring to Meluhhan ships docked at Akkad.

 References to a Meluhhan ship-holder and a Meluhhan interpreter.

 Gudea of Lagash inscriptions (ca. 22nd cent. BCE) :

‘The Meluhhans came up (or down) from their country to supply wood and other raw materials for theconstruction of the main temple of Gudea’s capital.’

 References to luxury items being imported from Meluhha.

 References to a Meluhhan workers village.


[Chris JD Kostman, ‘The Indus Valley Civilization : in search of those elusive centers and peripheries’,

in : JAGNES, the Journal of the Association of Graduates in Near Eastern Studies.]

From linguistic evidence, sesame oil was probably imported from the Indus valley into Sumer : the Sumerian word for this oil is illu (Akkadian : ellu). In Dravidian languages of South India, el or ellu stands for sesame.

It is fascinating to note that by the Ur III Period, the Meluhhan (Harappan) workers residing in Sumeria had Sumerian names, leading Parpola, Parpola, and Brunswig to comment that ‘three hundred years after the earliest textually documented contact between Meluhha and Mesopotamia, the references to a distinctly foreign commercial people have been replaced by an ethnic component of Ur III society’ (Parpola et al.1977:152). Here we have an undeniable economic presence of Indus traders in Mesopotamia, maintaining their own distinct village in a distant peripheral location over a considerable span of time.

The Meluhhan Language

What was the language the sea-faring traders from Indian shores spoke ?

It was known as Mleccha or Meluhhan.

As place or region name, the word Meluhha meant “sailor country.”


“Baloch” is the corrupted form of Melukhkha, Meluccha or Mleccha, which was the designation of the modern eastern Makkoran during the third and the second millennia BC, according to the Mesopotamian texts. [J. Hansman, “A Periplus of Magan and Melukha”, in BSOAS. London, 1973, p. 555; H.W. Bailey, “Mleccha, Baloc,and Gadrosia”, in: BSOAS. No. 36, London, 1973, pp. 584-87.Also see, Cf. K. Kartrunen,India in Early Greek Literature. Studia Orientalia, no. 65, Helsinki: Finnish OrientalSociety, 1989, pp. 13-14.]


Source: Baluchistan nationalism : its origin and development –

Shu Ilishu’s personal cylinder seal showed him to be a translator of Meluhhan language. More, Indus Valley links unearthed in Qatar … Published : Wednesday, 26 March, 2008, 02:05AM Doha Time By K.T. Chacko : The brazen pot and the porcelain vase that contained the relic of a tooth found at a burial site at Al-Ruwaida, near Ruwais. A burial site of traders from the Indus Valley, estimated to be 5,000 years old, has been found on the north-west coast of Qatar, strengthening the theories of commercial exchange between the ancient people of Middle East and the Indian subcontinent, according to Qatari explorer and fossil collector, Mohamed Ali al-Sulaiti. Based on the materials found at a graveyard at Al-Ruwaida, a few kilometres to the west of Ruwais, al-Sulaiti said, “the colony belonged to people of the Indus Valley civilisation, which flourished around 3,000 BC. These people mostly traded in brass. They also brought in porcelain objects, probably procured from China (?), for selling in the Gulf countries including Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Abu Dhabi.”

Al-Sulaiti, an engineering graduate from US and an amateur archaeologist, told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview, “They mined copper ore for making brass from the Buraimi mountains in Oman and probably smelted it in Qatar.” He has found at Al-Ruwaida many fragments of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, and says, “Though the graveyard at Al-Ruwaida gets submerged during high tides and thus much of the remains could have been washed away, we can still piece together some aspects of their life and culture.” One of the startling discoveries at the site was a small brazen pot with a smaller porcelain vase inside containing a molar.“The tooth could have belonged to a chieftain or a high priest,” al-Sulaiti reasoned. “It is known that the people of that period saved such relics of important people like kings and religious leaders. ”Also found at the burial site was rice, which has been carbonised with the passing of time. People used to bury food items along with the bodies of their dear ones during that period.”

According to al-Sulaiti, the Gulf region is dotted with remnains of settlements of people from Indus Sarasvati civilisation period. He particularly mentioned findings in Mannar in Abu Dhabi and some places in Kuwait. Another important find at Al-Ruwaida was glass bangles, inlaid with lacquer paintings and parts of necklaces and shells used as ornaments by the ancient visitors. These decorative items were similar in style and were made of materials used by inhabitants of Indus-Sarasvati cities during their heydays. Talking about the Indus Valley connection, al-Sulaiti said the “ox” figured prominently on the shards of pottery and on coins recovered from the Qatari site. “We also found needles made of brass in one of the graves.

”The Indus Valley civilisation was based at Mohenjodaro in Sindh and Harappa in Punjab in Pakistan. (We now know that settlements in Indus valley constituted around 20 % of the total; the rest were located along the Saravati.) For the Indus Valley people, the Arabian Sea opened the doors for journey beyond the Arab world, through the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, right into the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. It is these voyages that gave to the Indus land its earliest name of Meluhha (sailor country) in the Babylonian records.

“According to historians, the Indus Valley civilisation had close bonds of culture and trade with the Gulf countries. Archaeologists have found the remnants of a “Meluhhan” village in ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). The Indus Valley people traded seals, painted pottery, and lapis lazuli, in exchange for copper and tin and several other items from Oman and the Gulf states. The Baloch and Sindh ports ( and Lothal, in Gujarat ) also saw extensive trade with African ports in Ethiopia, Somalia, Zanzibar, Kenya and Tanzania.”

Al-Sulaiti believes that extensive excavations and research would lead to more definite information on these traders, who established temporary settlements as encampments at certain points on their regular routes.

 * * *

Separating facts from conjectures …

The presence of individuals or groups of immigrants from Indian Subcontinent in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC was recognized since the discovery of Indus Civilization at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in early 1920s, because Indus-like seals were found in stratified contexts in some of the most important Sumerian cities. In 1932, C.J. Gadd opened a new line of archaeological research, collecting and publishing in a fortunate paper a series of seals from Mesopotamia (found
during digs or acquired on the antiquarian market) sharing what he regarded as an Indian style. Gadd’s interpretation was fundamentally correct, although the series of seals he published also included specimens of what we presently identify as Dilmunite seals, coming from the Gulf islands of Faylaka and Bahrein.

The great seasons of extensive excavations at Mohenjo Daro (Sindh, presently in Pakistan) were over, and the final report by J. Marshall (1931) had been published. Both the inscriptions and the animal icons on the major group of western seals had obvious similarities with the steatite seals unearthed by thousands in major cities of the Indus civilization. It was on the basis of these finds, at least in a first stage, that the Indus valley civilization was dated to the middle Bronze age.

Since then, two generations of archaeologists and philologists have attempted to investigate the problem of Indian communities that had settled in Mesopotamia in the second half of 3rd millennium BC. As identification of Meluhha with coastal areas controlled by Indus-Sarasvati people is almost universally accepted, the textual evidence dealing with individuals qualified as men or sons of Meluhha, or called with the ethnonym Meluhha, living in Mesopotamia in a Meluhha village established at Lagash (and presumably at other major cities as well), clearly points to the existence of enclaves settled by Indian immigrants.

Conclusion …

As remarked by M. Tosi … the lack of Mesopotamian imports into the Indus Valley reveals the lesser significance of these connections for the eastern pole. Very much like the Roman trade with India and Arabia, as described in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea in the 1st century AD, the
flow of goods towards the head of the Gulf in the later 3rd millennium BC was determined more by the Mesopotamian demand than by economic integration with the distant lands that supplied these goods from the shores of the Indian Ocean.

The Sumerians and Akkadians interacted more with Dilmun sailors and traders, Indian immigrants and largely acculturated social groups than with the remote “Black Country” of Meluhha. In Mesopotamia and in the Gulf, the immigrant Indus families maintained and trasmitted their language, their writing system, weights and measures (known in Mesopotamia as the Dilmunite standard) … as strategic tools of trade. Their official symbol of “gaur” might have stressed, in a foreign land, their connection with their motherland in Indus-Sarasvati valleys. Nonetheless, they gradually adopted the use of foreign languages and introduced minor changes in their writing system for dealing with new, rapidy evolving linguistic needs.

The Indus communities in Mesopotamia developed, thanks to an intimate understanding of Mesopotamian culture and markets, and opportunisties for profitable trade. They promptly

adapted their products and merchandise, pricing and availability, to fast-changing local – political, social, cultural and ideological – environment of markets abroad. Their success in Mesopotamia is easily measured by their efficient adaptation to prevailing order in different lands : politics, wars and change of regimes among city-states; presumably centralized Akkadian bureaucracy; and, even more centralized empire established by Ur-nammu.

By 2000 BC, their integration with Mesopotamian social and economic reality seems to be total. The acculturation process involved collaboration with local religious institutions, worship of foreign divinities, production of ornaments with foreign religious symbols, adoption of impure foreign rituals in life and death and, it may be easily imagined, suffering possible discrimination by their compatriots at home for having eaten impure food. The price of their success might have been their apparent contamination with Mesopotamian habits, creeds and ritual practices : a circumstance that may assuredly have not escaped the attention of the conservative and tradition-minded leadership in their home-cities in Indus-Sarasvati valley.

If, as Parpola duo suggest, Meluhha is the origin of “Mleccha”, it would have been especially galling to be addressed as “barbarian or foriegner,” which is what the word means in Sanskrit !

* * *

There is extensive presence of Harappan seals and cubical weight measures in Mesopotamian urban sites. Specific items of high volume trade are timber and specialty wood such as ebony, for which large ships were used. Luxury items also appear, such as lapis lazuli mined at a Harappan colony at Shortugai (Badakshan in northern Afghanistan), which was transported to Lothal, a port city in Gujarat, and shipped from there to Oman, Bahrain, and Sumer.

Indus Valley versus Africa

A number of scholars suggest that Meluhha was the Sumerian name for Indus-Sarasvati Valley Civilization. Asko and Simo Parpola, both Finnish scholars, identify Meluhha (earlier variant Me-lah-ha) from Sumerian documents with Dravidian mel akam “high abode” or “high country”. Many items of trade such as wood, minerals, and gemstones were indeed extracted from the hilly regions near the Indus settlements.

Earlier texts (c. 2200 BC) seem to indicate that Meluhha is to the east, suggesting its location in the Indus-Sarasvati region. Sargon of Akkad is said to have “dismantled the cities, as far as the shore of the sea. At the wharf of Agade, he docked ships from Meluhha, ships from Magan.”

However, much later texts documenting the exploits of King Assur Banipal of Assyria (668–627 BC), long after the Indus Valley civilization had ceased to exist, seem to imply that Meluhha is to be found somewhere near Egypt, in Africa.

There is sufficient archaeological evidence for trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Impressions of clay seals from the Indus Valley city of Harappa were evidently used to seal bundles of merchandise, as clay seal impressions with cord or sack marks on the reverse side testify. A number of these Indus Valley seals have been found at Ur and other Mesopotamian sites. The Persian-Gulf style of circular stamped seals, rather than rolled seals, are identified with Dilmun; they have been found at Lothal in Gujarat, India, as well as at Failaka Island (Kuwait), and in Mesopotamia. These widely dispersed finds are convincing evidence corroborating long-distance sea trade among these regions.

We are less sure of what the commerce consisted of : timber and precious woods, ivory, lapis lazuli, gold and luxury goods such as carnelian and glazed stone beads, pearls from Persian Gulf, shell and bone inlays were among the goods sent to Mesopotamia in exchange for silver, tin, woolen textiles, perhaps oil and grains and other foods. Copper ingots, certainly, bitumen, which occurred naturally in Mesopotamia, may have been exchanged for cotton textiles and chickens, major products of the Indus region that are not native to Mesopotamia—all these have been instanced.

African hypothesis :

Later texts from the 1st millennium BC suggest that “Meluhha” and “Magan” were kingdoms adjacent to Egypt. Assur Banipal writes about his first march against Egypt, “In my first campaign I marched against Magan, Meluhha, Tarka, king of Egypt and Ethiopia, whom Esarhaddon, king of Assyria, the father who begot me, had defeated, and whose land he brought under his sway.”

Apart from Assur Banipal’s reference, there is no mention of Meluhha in any Mesopotamian text after about 1700 BC, which corresponds to the time of decline of the Indus-Sarasvati Valley civilisation. This is a single instance reference to Meluhha nearly 1500 years after the ‘high tide’ of contact between the Indus Valley and Sumeria in 2000 BCE. Direct contacts ceased even during Mature Harappan phase between these two centers. Oman and Bahrain, Magan and Dilmun had become intermediaries. Sumeria had ‘forgotten’ the Indus Valley after the sack of Ur by the Elamites and subsequent invasions in Sumeria. Its trade and contacts shifted west and Meluhha passed into mythological memory. The resurfacing of the name probably relates to cultural memory of similarity of items of trade.

* * *

Shu-ilishu’s Cylinder Seal


“Some years ago, while perusing the great Assyriologist A. Leo Oppenheim’s Ancient Mesopotamia : Portrait of a Dead Civilization, I found a reference to the personal cylinder seal of a translator of the Meluhhan language. His name was Shu-ilishu and he lived in Mesopotamia during the Late Akkadian period (ca. 2020 BC, according to the new, low chronology).

“I was interested in this man because Meluhha is widely believed to have been the Indus Civilization of the Greater Indus Valley in India and Pakistan (ca. 2500–1900 BC)—the focus of my own research. Based on cuneiform documents from Mesopotamia we know that there was at least one Meluhhan village in Akkad at that time, with people called “Son of Meluhha” living there. Therefore, to find evidence of an official translator was no surprise, though it is nifty when archaeology can document this sort of thing.

“To learn more I tracked down a photograph of Shu-ilishu’s cylinder seal in a substantial volume found in the Museum Library—Collection de Clercq. Gathered together in the 19th Century by a wealthy man, this collection is composed of objects purchased from dealers with little, if any, provenience data presented. Therefore, we do not know where Shu-ilishu’s cylinder came from. Despite this, I asked our Museum’s Photo Studio to make a black and white negative and several prints of the cylinder’s rollout impression. I have subsequently published this rollout in several places—renewing interest in Shuilishu. This cylinder seal has now become commonplace in discussions of Persian Gulf archaeology and the Indus Civilization’s contacts with Mesopotamia.

“My late colleague Edith Porada, the world’s leading expert on Mesopotamian seals in her day, confirmed the information presented in Oppenheim’s work. She also noted that the seal had been re-cut from its original appearance (not unusual) and that its style was Late Akkadian (ca. 2200–2113 BC), possibly even from the succeeding Ur III period (ca. 2113–2004 BC). During the spring of 2003, when the topic of Meluhha came up during a seminar I was addressing, I showed Porada’s letter to a small group of students.

“Thinking afresh about the re-cutting of the seal, I decided that the reading of the inscription should probably be checked. Did it really say that Shu-ilishu was a translator of Meluhhan ? I took the photograph I had copied from the Collection de Clercq to Steve Tinney, my colleague in the Museum’s Babylonian Section .”

The founder of Mesopotamia’s Akkadian dynasty, Sargon the Great, boasted that : The ships from Meluhha / the ships from Magan / the ships from Dilmun / he made tie-up alongside / the quay of Akkad (translated by Samuel Noah Kramer).

Magan and Dilmun are modern Oman and Bahrain, respectively. This inscription, other cuneiform documents, and recent archaeology in the Arabian Gulf tell us about the maritime activity between Akkad (modern Iraq) and Meluhha (modern Pakistan and India) during the 3rd millennium BC..

“He was kind enough to look at it and confirm everything, at least as far as the rather poor image allowed. It occurred to me that someone should probably track down the original seal and make a fresh impression, but where was the “Collection de Clercq” now—in Paris? I was sure I would get to it someday, but that is where I left things until a splendid piece of luck dropped it in my lap.

“In the spring of 2004, the “First Cities” show opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. On June 10, 2004, I visited the Met with a couple of students. The show was a truly magnificent display, with treasures from the Near East and India set out in a very attractive and informed way. The Penn Museum’s material from Puabi’s grave at Ur was there, as was the British Museum’s famous Royal Standard of Ur. The “Priest-King” from Mohenjo-daro had been lent by the Pakistan Government—he looked great !—and the Louvre had also been very generous with its loan of various objects.

“The students and I did our tour through the galleries and then lingered, reading labels again or with greater concentration than on the first pass through. I was in a gallery near the “Priest-King” when I spotted Shuilishu’s cylinder and a clear impression of its rollout. It was a part of the Louvre’s loan. The “Collection de Clercq” had found its way to the Louvre, and Joan Aruz, the Met curator of the show, had been good enough to put it in her loan request. I showed the students and retold the story of why it is important.

“I knew that Tinney should see the fresh impression, but maybe I could do even better. After consulting with Aruz and her staff, it was agreed that I could approach Annie Caubet, Conservateur Général, Départment des Antiquitiés Orientales at the Musée du Louvre, and seek permission to make a fresh impression while Shu-ilishu’s seal was at the Met. Caubet’s answer was virtually immediate and positive. We could make a fresh impression and it could be a part of the “loan” collections at the Penn Museum. This was all accomplished, and Tinney reconfirmed the original translation. The Penn Museum now has a very fine rollout of the seal in its collections, where it can be used as a research tool for many, many years.

“The writing of Meluhha (the Indus script) remains undeciphered, in spite of many claims to the contrary. The inscriptions are short, and this makes the job of decipherment very difficult. To break the code, what is probably needed is a body of bilingual texts, like Jean-Francois Champollion had when he deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone. The presence in Akkad of a translator of the Meluhhan language suggests that he may have been literate and could read the undeciphered Indus script. This in turn suggests that there may be bilingual Akkadian/Meluhhan tablets somewhere in Mesopotamia. Although such documents may not exist, Shu-ilishu’s cylinder seal offers a glimmer of hope for the future in unraveling the mystery of the Indus script.”

* * * 

I might continue with a piece on the fascinating linguistic and etymological  evolution of Indian language from Mleccha and Arya vaach of those hoary times in pre-history ! 


Journal : A Hot Anecdote

When Andy made ‘ Raavi’ sweat

In a room with stark naked women

Pandit Ravi Shankar : The Warhol story


Source : Page 11, The Telegraph India @

. . .

That brings me to an amoral anecdote about Ravi Shankar. A good friend of mine, once a popular portrait painter in the United States, and a great friend of Andy Warhol, had this story to relate. It was in the days just after he had allowed Andy the use of his camera to film Sleep. Ravi Shankar, who always wanted to meet Andy Warhol, was invited to his studio in New York, on a crisp morning at 10 ‘clock sharp.

Andy Warhol

When he rang the doorbell at what must have once been a warehouse, its giant wooden door creaked open to reveal an enormous Lurch-like figure from the Adam’s Family. “Mr Shankaar?” it echoed. The dumbstruck Pandit Ravi Shankar nodded. He was ushered into an empty floor that was half the size of a football field. There was one chair and he was motioned to sit on it. He did. Lurch left him alone.

The minutes ticked by in silence. The wail of sirens as police cars raced down New York’s streets kept the adrenaline flowing in disproportion to Ravi Shankar’s normal disposition. About 10 minutes after absolutely nothing had happened, a voluptuous and gorgeous woman, stark naked, walked into the room with a stool under her arm. She set it down about 10 feet away from Ravi Shankar and sat down. The minutes ticked by again. Not a word spoken. Not a sound.

After about five uneasy minutes, Ravi Shankar, with beads of perspiration glistening on his noble forehead and regal nose, smiled more to himself than his naked roommate and began easing out of his chair to beat a quiet but hasty retreat. A door swung open behind him and in walked a naked man with an easel. He set it down near the woman on the chair and walked out. In seconds, two more naked women walked in. One carrying brushes and paints and the other struck a rather embarrassing and provocative pose that ensnared the first girl.

Once again, the minutes passed. And no one said a word, or moved. By now Ravi Shankar was drenched in sweat, was beginning to get terrified of the unpredictable madness of a New York he had only heard about, and then, with all the courage he could muster, he stood up and walked briskly to the door he had come in through. “Hey RAAVI. Hey…Hi !!” boomed voices behind him.

In trooped Andy Warhol and a bunch of pranksters who had staged the whole thing to embarrass and frighten the poor, defenceless and artistic soul from the peaceful land of ragas and spiritual India.

My friend had a happy ending to the narrative, but I shall leave that alone and let it join with such mysteries as what might have happened in the Marabar caves, in A Passage to India.

Pandit Ravi Shankar

Musings : The Tibetan Issue

I’ve been increasingly thoughtful about it and have been occasionally compelled to remark about it on Twitter. Naturally, it’s me … how I see it, as opposed to how the Dalai Lame assesses. It’s his court, with the Chinese on the other side.

First, the basic values : I believe Buddhism is the better than Christianity, and infinitely more welcome compared to Islam. But Buddhism, to me, had no trace of truth – the one I can carry when my heart stops, or when it’s curtains on my brain.

Buddhism is a great religion concentrated on ethics and morality while one is alive. Peace … yes, while they themselves live in chaos, on the dole let out by others. Non- Violence … very much, while the meat killed by others is on their table !

But that isn’t what I wish to speak of : it is about their heroic, self-satisfying self-immolations. They are counting … perhaps, they’ve scored a century. I wouldn’t. I’d think of of the sad unprotected families left behind and wonder about what the great Dalai Lama thinks and believes, and does.


Well, he does nothing except go from one award function to another, one edifying speech to another eulogising fervour. I can see the crap. Does the great one see through what he is doing ? Damned be he, does he see through the pain of his people ? And what is his solution or advice ? I do not not know.

What does come to fore, in my view, is that the Dalai Lama is a religious leader. A magnificent one, for a magnificent religion ! But what a lie, I see, a magnificent lie, I see. There is no truth in it.

By my upbringing … the truth is that waging a war is preferable to encouraging the unjust or suffering injustice. It is possible that one is incapacited for a while, not able to do a thing for a time. But what crap of a religion is this that leaves its people weak.

Damn this belief – system that will go extinct because of its excessive belief ! I’d much rather, every self immolator embraced a Chinese, common Han or official, while the fire is burning ! Let the moral goal justify the conduct, not a damned religious ideology.

May the Tibetans win their place under the sun.


Journal : Alternate History

 Presentation of evidence for Indo-European homeland continues …

after the researched linguistic evidence earlier placed before you.

Florentine merchant Filippo Sassetti travelled to the Indian subcontinent, and was among the first European observers to study the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit. Writing in 1585, he noted some word similarities between Sanskrit and Italian, e.g. deva/dio, “God”, sarpa/serpe, “snake”,sapta/sette, “seven”, ashta/otto, “eight”, nava/nove, “nine”. This observation is today credited to have foreshadowed the later discovery of the Indo-European language family.



We have already examined the evidence in the Rig Veda which proves that the original Indo-Iranian habitat was in India and that the Iranians migrated westward and north-westward from India. 

We will now examine further literary evidence regarding the location of the original Indo-European homeland in India, under the following heads : 

A. Tribes and Priests.
B. The Three Priestly Classes.
C. The Anu-Druhyu Migrations.


Tribes and Priests

The political history of the Vedic period involves various segregate communities who fall within its contemporary ambit. They are the five major tribal groups mentioned in Rig Veda : Yadus, TurvaSas, Anus, Druhyus and Purus. Tthe TRkSis are not included because they are referred to as people beyond the Vedic Aryan realm. 

It is emphasised however that the Rig Veda hymns are composed under the patronage of Purus, who alone among the five named above are Aryas or Aryans, as is meant in the text. Only the PUrus are addressed as “Arya” in the Rig Veda. The other four may or may not have been of the same racial stock but, to the Rigvedic people and the composers of Rig Veda hymns, they are considered and termed as non-Aryans or “an-Arya”. 

This brings us to the second division of people, of those whom the Rig Veda hymns include in mention and references : with Aryas – the Purus – on one part, and the other part comprising of Yadus, TurvaSas, Anus and Druhyus, 

But there are two distinct words by which the Rig Veda refers to these others :

a. DAsas 

b. Dasyus 

It is necessary to understand the distinction between the two words. 

The word DAsa is found in 54 hymns (63 verses) :

I.   32.11; 92.8; 103.3; 104.2; 158.5; 174.7; 

II.  11.2, 4; 12.4; 13.8; 20.6, 7; 

III.  12.6; 34.1; 

IV.  18.9; 28.4; 30.14, 15, 21; 32.10; 

V.  30.5, 7-9; 33.4; 34.6; 

VI.  20.6, 10; 22.10; 25.2; 26.5; 33.3;  47.21; 60.6; 

VII.  19.2; 83.1; 86.7; 99.4; 

VIII.  5.31; 24.27; 32.2; 40.6; 46.32; 51.9;  56.3, 70.10, 96.18; 

X.  22.8; 23.2; 38.3; 49.6, 7; 54.1; 62.10; 69.6;
73.7; 83.1; 86.19; 99.6; 102.3; 120.2;  138.3; 148.2.


The word Dasyu is found in 65 hymns (80 verses) :

I   33.4, 7, 9; 36.18; 51.5, 6, 8; 53.4; 59.6;
63.4; 78.4; 100.18; 101.5; 103.3, 4; 104.5;
117.3, 21; 175.3. 

II 11.18, 19; 12.10; 13.9: 15.9; 20.8;
III. 29.9; 34.6, 9; 49.2
IV. 16.9, 10, 12; 28.3, 4; 38.1;
V. 4.6; 7.10; 14.4; 29.10; 30.9; 31.5, 7; 70.3;
VI. 14.3; 16.15; 18.3; 23.2; 24.8; 29.6; 31.4; 45.24;
VII. 5.6; 6.3; 19.4;
VIII. 6.14; 14.14; 39.8; 50.8; 70.11; 76.11; 77.3;  98.6;
IX. 41.2; 47.2; 88.4; 92.5;
X. 22.8; 47.4; 48.2; 49.3; 55.8; 73.5; 83.3, 6;
95.7; 99.7, 8; 105.7, 11; 170.2.

There are two distinct aspects that differentiates the DAsas and Dasyus : 

  1. The term DAsa clearly refers to other tribes (ie. non-PUru tribes)

while the term Dasyu refers to their priestly classes (ie. non-Vedic priestly classes).

[This is apart from the fact that both the terms are freely used to refer to the atmospheric demons as much as to human enemies to whom they basically refer.]

a.  According to IV. 28.4, the Dasyus are a section among the DAsas.

b.  The Dasyus are referred to in terms which clearly show

      that the cause of hostility is religious in nature : 

ayajña (worshipless): VII.6.3.
ayajvan (worshipless): I.33.4; VIII.70.11.
avrata (riteless): I.51.8; 175.3; VI.14.3; IX.41.2.
akarmA (riteless): X.22.8.
adeva (godless): VIII.70.11.
aSraddha (faithless): VII.6.3.
amanyamAna (faithless): I.33.9; 11.22.10.
anyavrata (followers of different rites): VIII.70.11; X.22.8.
abrahma (prayerless): IV.16.9.

Not one of these abusive terms are used even once in reference to Dasas. 

c.  The family-wise pattern of references to them also shows

that the Dasyus are priestly rivals while the DAsas are secular rivals.

The Dasyus are referred to by all the nine priestly families of RSis,

but never by the non-priestly family of RSis (the Bharatas).

The DAsas are referred to by the Bharatas (X.69.6; 102.3) also but not by the most purely ritualistic family of RSis, the KaSyapas, nor in the purely ritualistic of MaNDalas, the MaNDala IX. 

d.  The Dasyus, being priestly entities, do not figure as powerful persons or persons to be feared, but the DAsas, being secular entities (tribes, tribal warriors, kings, etc.) do figure as powerful persons or persons to be feared:

In three references (VIII.5.31; 46.32; 51.9), the DAsas are rich patrons.

In seven references, the DAsas are powerful enemies from whose fury and powerful weapons the composers ask the Gods for protection (I.104.2; VIII.24.27; X.22.8; 54.1; 69.6; 102.3) or from whom the Gods rescue the RSis (I.158.5).

In three others, the word DAsa refers to powerful atmospheric demons who hold the celestial waters in their thrall (I.32.11; V.30.5; VIII.96.18).

In contrast, Dasyus never figure as rich or powerful enemies. They are depicted as sly enemies who incite others into acts of boldness (VI.24.8). 

e. While both DAsas and Dasyus are referred to as enemies of the Aryas, it is only the DAsas, and never the Dasyus, who are sometimes bracketed together with the Aryas.

Seven verses refer to both Aryas and DAsas as enemies (VI.22.10; 33.3; 60.6; VII.83.1; X.38.3; 69.6; 83.1; 102.3) and one verse refers to both Aryas and DAsas together in friendly terms (VIII.51.9).

This is because both, the word DAsa and the word Arya, refer to broad secular or tribal entities, while the word Dasyu refers to priestly entities : thus, one would generally say “both Christians and Muslims”, or “both padres and mullahs”, but not “both Christians and mullahs” or “both Muslims and padres”. 

2. The second difference is in the degree of hostility towards the two. 

     The Dasyus are clearly regarded with uncompromising hostility,

     while that towards the DAsas is relatively mild and tempered :

a.  The word Dasyu has a purely hostile connotation even when it occurs in the name or title of heroes :

Trasadasyu = “tormentor of the Dasyus”.
DasyavevRka = “a wolf towards the Dasyus”. 

On the other hand, the word DAsa has an etymological meaning beyond the identity of the DAsas.  When it occurs in the name or title of a hero, it has a benevolent connotation :

DivodAsa = “light of Heaven” or “slave of Heaven”. 

b.  All the 80 verses which refer to Dasyus are uncompromisingly hostile.

On the other hand, of the 63 verses which refer to DAsas, 3 are friendly references (VIII.5.31; 46.32; 51.9); and in one more, the word means “slave” in a benevolent sense (VII.86.7: “slave-like, may I do service to the Bounteous”, ie. to VaruNa). 

c.  Of the 80 verses which refer to Dasyus, 76 verses talk of direct, violent, physical action against them, ie. they talk of killing, subduing or driving away the Dasyus. On the other hand, of the 63 verses which refer to DAsas, only 38 talk of such direct physical action against them. 

The importance of this analysis is that it brings to the fore two basic points about the rivalries and hostilities in the Rigvedic period :

a. The rivalries or hostilities were on two levels: the secular level and the priestly level.

b. The rivalries on the priestly level were more sharp and uncompromising.

Hence, any analysis of the political history of the Rigvedic period must pay at least as much attention, if not more, to the priestly categories as to secular or tribal categories.

The Three Priestly Classes

The basic tribal spectrum of the Rigveda includes the five tribal groupings of Yadus, TurvaSas, Anus, Druhyus and PUrus, and of these the PUrus alone represent the Vedic Aryans, while the other four represent the Others

But among these four it is clear that the Yadus and TurvaSas represent more distant tribes (they are mostly referred to in tandem, and are also referred to as residing far away from the Vedic Aryans), while the Anus and Druhyus fall into a closer cultural spectrum with the Purus : 

a.  In the PurANas, the Yadus and TurvaSas are classified together as descendants of sons of DevayAnI, and the Anus, Druhyus and PUrus are classified together as descendants of sons of SarmiSThA. 

b.  The geographical descriptions of the five tribes, as described in the PurANas, place the Yadus and TurvaSas together in the more southern parts (of northern India), and the Anus, Druhyus and PUrus together in the more northern parts. 

c.  The Rigveda itself, where it refers to the five tribes together (I.108.8) refers to the Yadus and the TurvaSas in one breath, and the Druhyus, Anus and PUrus in another: “yad IndrAgni YaduSu TurvaSeSu, yad DruhyuSu AnuSu PUruSu sthaH”

But, the PUrus represent the various branches of the Vedic Aryans, and the Anus represent various branches of Iranians.  It is clear, therefore, that the Druhyus represent the third entity in this cultural spectrum, and that it is mainly the Druhyus who will take us beyond the Indo-Iranian arena onto the wider Indo-European context; and appropriately, while the PUrus are located in the heartland of North India (U.P.-Delhi-Haryana) and the Anus in the northwest (Punjab), the Druhyus are located beyond the Indian frontiers, in Afghanistan and beyond. 

The priestly categories, as we have seen, play a more important role in the rivalries and hostilities in the Rigvedic period than the secular categories. In the earliest period, the only two families of Rsis, from among the families who figure as composers in the Rig Veda, were the ANgiras and the BhRgus, who were the priests of PUrus and Anus respectively.  Logically, there must have been a priestly class among the Druhyus as well, but no such priestly class figures among the composers of Rigvedic hymns. 

The explanation for this is simple : the Druhyus were a rival and non-PUru (DAsa) tribe, hence their priests do not figure as composers in the Rigveda.  Of course, the BhRgus, who were also the priests of a rival and non-PUru tribe, do figure as composers in the Rigveda, but that is because a section of BhRgus (after Jamadagni) aligned themselves with Vedic Aryans and joined the Vedic mainstream where, in fact, they later superseded all the other priestly families in importance, and became the dominant priests of Vedic tradition. 

But since the Druhyus figure in the Rigveda, the name of their priestly class must also be found in the text, even if not as the name of a family of composers. Since no such name appears, it seems logical that the name Druhyu itself must originally have been the name of this third priestly class : since priestly categories were more important for the composers of the Rigveda than the secular categories; and since the tribes for whom the Druhyus functioned as priests were an amorphous lot located far out on the frontiers of India and beyond, the name of the priestly classes became a general appellation for the tribes themselves. 

Therefore, there were three tribal groupings with their three priestly classes:

PUrus  –  Angiras.
Anus  – BhRgus and AtharvaNas.
Druhyus – Druhyus.

This trinary situation tallies with the Indo-European situation : outside of the Vedic and Iranian cultures, the only other priestly class of a similar kind is found among the Celts and the related Italics.  While the Italics called their priests by the general name flAmen (cognate to Sanskrit brAhmaNa, “priest”), the priests of the Celts were called Drui (genitive Druad, hence Druids). 

Shan M.M. Winn notes that “India, Rome, Ireland and Iran” are the “areas in which priesthoods are known to have been significant”; and he describes this phenomenon as follows: “Long after the dispersion of Indo-Europeans, we find a priestly class in Britain in the west, in Italy to the South, and in India and Iran to the east.  Though these cultures are geographically distant from one another… they have striking similarities in priestly ritual, and even in religious terminology.  For example, taboos pertaining to the Roman flAmen (priest) closely correspond to the taboos observed by the Brahmans, the priests of India.” Like the Indian priesthood, the curriculum of the “Celtic Druids … involved years of instruction and memorization of innumerable verses, as the sacred tradition was an oral one”. 

After noting, in some detail, the similarities in their priestly systems, rituals, religious and legal terminology, Winn concludes that the “Celts, Romans and Indo-Iranians shared a religious heritage dating to an early Indo-European period…” 

While the three priesthoods flourished only in these areas, they must originally have been the priests of all the branches of Indo-Europeans in early Indo-European period.  Though they themselves did not survive elsewhere, the names of the three priesthoods did survive in different ways.  An examination of these words helps us to classify the various Indo-European branches into three groups : 

1. PURUS : Indo-Aryan.

In the Rigveda, hymn VII.18, the DASarAjña battle hymn, refers to the enemy confederation once in secular (tribal) terms as “Anus and Druhyus” (VII.18.14), and once in what is clearly priestly terms as “BhRgus and Druhyus” (VII.18.6: the only reference in the whole of the Rigveda which directly refers to the BhRgus as enemies).  Once, it may be noted, it also refers to the kings of the two tribal groupings as “KavaSa and the Druhyu” (VII. 1.8.12. Thus, even here, the general appellation “Druhyu” is used instead of the specific name of the king of the Druhyus). 

The words Druh/Drugh/Drogha occur throughout the Rigveda in the sense of “demon” or “enemy”. (The word BhRgu, for obvious reasons, does not suffer the same fate.) 

2. ANUS : Iranian, Thraco-Phrygian, Hellenic.

a.  Iranian : In the Avesta, in Fargard 19 of the VendidAd, it is an Angra (ANgiras) and a Druj (Druhyu) who try to tempt Zarathushtra away from the path of Ahura Mazda. 

The priests of the Iranians were the Athravans (AtharvaNas = BhRgus), and the words  Angra and  Druj occur throughout the Avesta as epithets for the demon enemies of Ahura Mazda and Zarathushtra. 

b.  Thraco-Phrygian : While the Armenians, the only surviving members of this branch, have not retained any tradition about any of these priestly classes, it is significant that one of the most prominent groups belonging to this branch were known as the Phryge (BhRgu). 

c.  Hellenic : The fire-.priests of the Greeks were known as the Phleguai (BhRgu).

What is more, Greek mythology retains memories of both the other priestly classes, though not in a hostile sense, as the names of mythical beings : Angelos (ANgiras) or divine messengers, and Dryad (Druhyu) or tree-nymphs. 

3. DRUHYUS: Baltic and Slavonic, Italic and Celtic, Germanic.

a.  Baltic and Slavonic: The word Druhyu occurs in the languages of these two branches in exactly the opposite sense of the Vedic Druh / Drugh / Drogha and the Iranian Druj. In Baltic (eg.  Lithuanan  Draugas) and Slavonic (eg. Russian Drug) the word means “friend”. 

b. Italic and Celtic: While the Italic people did not retain the name of the priestly class (and called their priests flAmen = BrAhmaNa), the Celtic priests, as we have seen, were called the Drui (genitive Druad, hence Druid). 

A significant factor, showing that the Celtic priests must have separated from the other priestly classes before the priestly hostilities became intense, is that the BhRgus appear to be indirectly remembered in Celtic mythology in a friendly sense

The Larousse Encyclopaedia of Mythology notes : “whereas the Celtic Gods were specifically Celtic… the goddesses were restatements of an age-old theme”. And two of the three Great Goddesses of the Celts were named Anu and Brigit (Anu and BhRgu?).  And while all the Goddesses in general were associated with fertility cults, “Brigit, however, had additional functions as a tutelary deity of learning, culture and skills”. 

The main activity of the Drui, as already stated, was to undergo “years of instruction and the memorization of innumerable verses, as the sacred tradition was an oral one”. The fact that the Goddess of learning was named Brigit would appear to suggest that the Drui remembered the ancient BhRgus in a mythical sense, as the persons who originally introduced various priestly rituals among them (a debt which is also remembered by the ANgiras in the MaNDalas of the Early Period of the Rig Veda.

The BhRgus, by joint testimony of Vedic and Celtic mythology, would thus appear to have been the oldest or most dominant and innovative of the three priestly classes.

c.  Germanic: The word Druhyu occurs in the Germanic branch as well.  However the meaning (although the words are cognate to the Russian Drug and Lithuanian Draugas) is more militant : Gothic driugan, “do military service” and ga-drauhts, “soldier”; and Old Norse (Icelandic) drOtt, Old English dryht and Old German truht, all meaning “multitude, people, army”. 

The meanings of the word Druhyu as it occurs in the Celtic branch (“priest”), the Germanic branch (“soldier”, etc. or “people”) and the Baltic-Slavonic branches (“friend”) clearly correspond with the word in the Rigveda and Avesta, where Druhyu / Druh / Drugh / Drogha and Druj represent enemy priests, soldiers or people. 

Thus, to sum up :

1. PUru (priests Angiras) : Indo-Aryan. 

2. Anu (priests BhRgus/AtharvaNas) : Iranian, Thraco-Phrygian, Hellenic. 

3. Druhyu (priests Druhyus): Celtic-Italic, Baltic-Slavonic, Germanic.

The Anu-Druhyu Migrations

The evidence of the Rig Veda, and Indian tradition, clearly shows that the Anus and Druhyus were Indian tribes. If they were also the ancestors of the Indo-European branches outside India, as is indicated by the evidence of the names of their priestly classes, then it is clear that the Rig Veda and Indian tradition should retain memories of the migrations of these two groups from India. 

Significantly, this is exactly the case: the Rig Veda and the PurANas, between them, record two great historical events which led to the emigration of precisely these two tribes from India : 

1. The first historical emigration recorded is that of the Druhyus.  This emigration is recorded in the PurANas, and it is so historically and geographically specific that no honest, student of the Puranic tradition has been able to ignore either this event or its implications for Indo-European history (even without arriving at the equation PUrus = Vedic Aryans). 

The PurANas (VAyu 99.11-12; BrahmANDa III.74.11-12; Matsya 48.9; ViSNu IV.17.5; BhAgavata IX.23.15-16) record: PracetasaH putra-Satam rAjAnAH sarva eva te, mleccha-rASTrAdhipAH sarve hyudIcIm diSam AsritAH.

As Pargiter points out : “Indian tradition knows nothing of any Aila or Aryan invasion of India from Afghanistan, nor of any gradual advance from thence eastwards.” On the contrary, “Indian tradition distinctly asserts that there was an Aila outflow of the Druhyus through the northwest into the countries beyond where they founded various kingdoms.” 

P.L. Bhargava also notes this reference to the Druhyu emigration: “Five PurANas add that Pracetas’ descendants spread out into the mleccha countries to the north beyond India and founded kingdoms there.”This incident is considered to be the earliest prominent historical event in traditional memory. The Druhyus, inhabitants of the Punjab, started conquering eastwards and southwards, and their conquest brought them into conflict with all the other tribes and people : the Anus, PUrus, Yadus.  TurvaSas, and even the IkSvAkus. 

This led to a concerted opposition by the other tribes against the Druhyus. AD Pusalker records : “As a result of the successful campaigns of SaSabindu, YuvanASva, MAndhAtRI and Sibi, the Druhyus were pushed back from RAjputAna and were cornered into the northwestern portion of the Punjab.  MAndhAtRI killed their king ANgAra, and the Druhyu settlements in the Punjab came to be known as GAndhAra after the name of one of ANgAra’s successors.  After a time, being overpopulated, the Druhyus crossed the borders of India and founded many principalities in the Mleccha territories in the north, and probably carried the Aryan culture beyond the frontiers of India.” 

This first historical emigration represents an outflow of the Druhyus into the areas to the north of Afghanistan (ie. into Central Asia and beyond). 

2. The second historical emigration recorded is that of the Anus and the residual Druhyus, which took place after the DASarAjña battle in the Early Period of the Rig Veda. 

As we have already seen in our chapter on the Indo-Iranian homeland, the hymns record the names of ten tribes (from among the two main tribal groupings of Anus and Druhyus) who took part in the confederacy against SudAs. Six of these are clearly purely Iranian people :

a. PRthus or PArthavas (VII.83.1): Parthians.
b. ParSus or ParSavas (VII.83.1): Persians.
c. Pakthas (VII.18.7): Pakhtoons.
d. BhalAnas (VII.18.7): Baluchis.
e. Sivas (VII.18.7): Khivas.
f. ViSANins (VII.18.7): Pishachas (Dards). 

One more Anu tribe, not named in the Rig Veda, is that of the Madras : Medes. 

All these Iranian people are found in later historical times in the historical Iranian areas proper : Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia. Two of the other tribes named in the hymns are Iranian people who are found in later historical times on the northwestern periphery of the Iranian areas, ie. in the Caucasus area :

a.  Simyus (VII.18.5) : Sarmatians (Avesta = Sairimas).

b.  Alinas (VII.18.7) : Alans.

And the name of one more tribe is clearly the name of another branch of Indo-Europeans … non-Iranians, but closely associated with the Iranians … found in later historical times in the area to the west of the Iranians, ie. in Anatolia or Turkey : the BhRgus (VII.18.6) – Phrygians. 

Significantly, the names of the two tribes found on the northwestern periphery of the Iranian area are also identifiable with the names of two other branches of Indo-Europeans, found to the west of Anatolia or Turkey.

a. Simyus (VII.18.5) : Sirmios (ancient Albanians).
b. Alinas (VII.18.7) : Hellenes (ancient Greeks). 

The DASarAjña battle ( of Ten Kings ) hymns record the emigration of these tribes westward from the Punjab after their defeat in the battle. 

Taken together, the two emigrations provide us with a very logical and plausible scenario of the expansions and migrations of the Indo-European family of languages from an original homeland in India : 

  1. The two tribal groupings of Anus and Druhyus were located more or less in the Punjab and Afghanistan respectively after the Druhyu versus non-Druhyu wars in the earliest pre-Rigvedic period. 
  1. The first series of migrations, of the Druhyus, took place shortly afterwards, with major sections of Druhyus migrating northwards from Afghanistan into Central Asia in different waves.  From Central Asia many Druhyu tribes, in the course of time, migrated westwards, reaching as far as western Europe. 

These migrations must have included the ancestors of the following branches (which are not mentioned in the DASarAjña battle hymns) :

a. Hittite. 

b. Tocharian. 

c. Italic. 

d. Celtic. 

e. Germanic. 

f. Baltic. 

g. Slavonic. 

3. The second series of migrations of Anus and Druhyus, took place much later, in the Early Period of the Rig Veda, with various tribes migrating westwards from the Punjab into Afghanistan, many later on migrating further westwards as far as West Asia and southwestern Europe.

These migrations must have included the ancestors of the following branches (which are mentioned in the DASrAjña battle hymns):

a. Iranian.
b. Thraco-Phrygian (Armenian).
c. Illyrian (Albanian).
d. Hellenic. 

The whole process gives a clear picture of the ebb-and-flow of migratory movements, where remnants of migrating groups, which remain behind, get slowly absorbed into the linguistic and cultural mainstream of the other groups among whom they continue to live, retaining only, at the most, their separate names and distinctive identities : 

1. The Druhyus, by and large, spread out northwards from northwestern Punjab and Afghanistan into Central Asia (and beyond) in the first Great Migration. A few sections of them, who remained behind, retained their distinctive names and identities (as Druhyus), but were linguistically and culturally absorbed into the Anu mainstream. 

2. The Anus (including the remnants of the Druhyus), by and large, spread out westwards from the Punjab into Afghanistan in the second Great Migration after the DASarAjña battle. A few sections of them, who remained behind, retained their distinctive names and identities (as Anus), but linguistically and culturally, they were absorbed into the PUru mainstream and they remained on the northwestern periphery of the Indo-Aryan cultural world as the Madras (remnants of the Madas or Medes), Kekayas, etc. 

3. Further migrations took place from among the Anus in Afghanistan, with non-Iranian Anu groups, such as the BhRgus (Phryges, Thraco-Phrygians), Alinas (Hellenes, Greeks) and Simyus (Sirmios, Illyrians or Albanians) migrating westwards from Afghanistan, as far as Anatolia and south-eastern Europe. A few sections of these non-Iranian Anus who remained behind, retained their distinctive names and identities but, linguistically and culturally, they were absorbed into the Iranian mainstream, and could be found on the north-western periphery of the Iranian cultural world among Armenians (who, though greatly influenced by the Iranian, retained much of their original language), the Alans (remnant of the Hellenes or Greeks) and Sarmations (remnant of the Sirmios or Albanians). 

The literary evidence of Rig Veda thus provides us with a very logical and plausible scenario of the schedule and process of migrations of various Indo-European branches from India. 

At this point, we may recall the archaeological evidence in respect of Europe, already noted by us.  As we have seen, the Corded Ware culture (Kurgan Wave # 3) expanded from the east into northern and central Europe, and the “territory inhabited by the Corded Ware/Battle Axe culture, after its expansion, qualifies it to be the ancestor of Western or European language branches : Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Italic”. 

The origins of the Kurgan culture have been traced as far east as Turkmenistan in 4500 BC. This fits in perfectly with our theory that the seven branches of Indo-Europeans, not specifically mentioned in the DASarAjña hymns, migrated northwards into Central Asia during the first Great Migration.  Five of these, the five European branches mentioned above, later migrated westwards into Europe while the other two, Hittite and Tocharian, remained behind in parts of Central Asia till the Hittites, at a much later date, migrated southwestwards into Anatolia. 

These two branches that remained behind in Central Asia, possibly retained contact with Indo-Aryans and the Iranians further south. The fact that Hittite mythology is the only mythology outside the Indo-Iranian cultural world which mentions Indra (as Inar) may be evidence of that connect. Even more significant, from the viewpoint of literary evidence, is the fact that Indian tradition remembers two important people located to the north of the Himalayas who are called the Uttara Kurus and the Uttara Madras : “The Uttara Kurus along with the Uttara Madras are located beyond the HimAlayas.  Though regarded as mythical in the epic and later literature, the Uttara Kurus still appear as a historical community in the Aitareya BrAhmaNa (VII.23).” 

It is possible that the Uttarakurus and the Uttaramadras were the Tocharian (Uttara Kuru = Tokhri) and Hittite branch of Indo-Europeans located to the north of the Himalayas. The scenario we have reconstructed from the literary evidence in the Rigveda fits in perfectly with the linguistic scenario of the migration schedule of the various Indo-European branches, as reconstructed by the linguists from the evidence of isoglosses, which we will now be examining. 



A linguistic isogloss is a linguistic feature found in some branches of the family, and not in the others. Their study is of great help to linguists in chalking out the likely migration schedule of the various Indo-European branches from their original homeland.

This feature may, of course, be either an original feature of the Proto-Indo-European language that has been lost in some of the daughter branches but retained in others, or a linguistic innovation not found in the parent language and developed only in some of the daughter branches. But this feature is useful in establishing early historico-geographical links between branches which share the same isogloss. We will examine the evidence of the isoglosses as follows : 

A. The Isoglosses …
B. The Homeland Indicated by the Isoglosses …

The Isoglosses

There are, as Winn points out, “ten ‘living branches’… Two branches, Indic (Indo-Aryan) and Iranian, dominate the eastern cluster.  Because of the close links between their classical forms – Sanskrit and Avestan respectively – these languages are often grouped together as a single Indo-Iranian branch.”But Meillet notes : “It remains quite clear, however, that Indic and Iranian evolved from different Indo-European dialects whose period of common development was not long enough to effect total fusion.” 

Besides these ten living branches, there are two extinct branches : Anatolian (Hittite) and Tocharian. 

Of these twelve branches, one branch, Illyrian (Albanian), is of little use in this study of isoglosses : “Albanian… has undergone so many influences that it is difficult to be certain of its relationships to the other Indo-European languages.” 

An examination of the isoglosses which cover the other eleven branches (living and extinct) gives a more or less clear picture of the schedule of migrations of the different Indo-European branches from the original homeland. 

Whatever the dispute about the exact order in which the different branches migrated away from the homeland, the linguists are generally agreed on two important points : 

  1. Anatolian (Hittite) was the first branch to leave the homeland : “The Anatolian languages, of which Hittite is the best known, display many archaic features that distinguish them from other Indo-European languages.  They apparently represent an earlier stage of Indo-European, and are regarded by many as the first group to break away from the proto-language.” 
  1. Four branches, Indic, Iranian, Hellenic (Greek) and Thraco-Phrygian (Armenian) were the last branches remaining behind in the original homeland after the other branches had dispersed : “After the dispersals of the early PIE dialects,… there were still those who remained… Among them were the ancestors of the Greeks and Indo-Iranians… 

Greek and Sanskrit share many complex grammatical features; this is why many earlier linguists were misled into regarding them as examples of the most archaic stage of Proto-Indo-European. However, the similarities between the two languages are now regarded as innovations that took place during a late period of PIE, which we call stage III.  One of these Indo-Greek innovations was also shared by Armenian and all these (three) languages, it seems, existed in an area of mutual interaction.” 

Thus we get : “Greek Armenian, Phrygian, Thracian and Indo-Iranian.  These languages may represent a comparatively late form of Indo-European, including linguistic innovations not present in earlier stages.  In particular, Greek and Indic share a number of distinctive grammatical features……”

The following are some of the innovations shared only by Indic, Iranian, Greek and Armenian (Thraco-Phrygian) … features which distinguish them from the other branches, especially the living ones : 

a. “The prohibitive negation *mE is attested only in Indo-Iranian (mA), Greek (mE) and Armenian (mi); elsewhere, it is totally lacking… and there is no difference in this respect between the ancient and modern stages of Greek, Armenian or Persian” or, for that matter, sections of Indic (e.g. the prohibitive negation mat in Hindi). 

b. “In the formation of the Perfect also, there is a clear ‘distinction’ between Indo-Iranian and Armenian and Greek, on the one hand, and all the other languages, on the other.” 

c. The “Indo-European voiceless aspirated stops are completely attested only in Indo-Iranian and Armenian… Greek… clearly preserves two of the three voiceless aspirated stops whose existence is established by the correspondence of Indo-Iranian and Armenian.” All the other branches show “complete fusion” of these voiceless aspirated stops. 

d. “The suffix *-tero-, *-toro-, *-tro- serves in bell Indo-European languages to mark the opposition of two qualities, but only in two languages, Greek and Indo-Iranian, is the use of the suffix extended to include the formation of secondary adjectival comparatives… This development, by its very difference, points to the significance of the Greek and Indo-Iranian convergence… Armenian, which has a completely new formation, is not instructive in this regard.” But, “Latin, Irish, Germanic, Lithuanian and Slavic, on the other hand, borrow their secondary comparative from the original primary type.” 

e. “The augment is attested only in Indo-Iranian, Armenian and Greek; it is found nowhere else.” And it is “significant that the augment is not found in any of the other Indo-European languages… The total absence of the augment in even the earliest texts, and in all the dialects of Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic, is characteristic.”

Hence, “the manner in which Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic eliminated the imperfect, and came to express the preterite, presupposes an original Indo-European absence of the augment throughout this group of languages.  We thus have grounds for positing two distinct Indo-European dialect groups.” 

f. The division of the Indo-European branches into two distinct groups is confirmed by what Meillet calls the Vocabulary of the Northwest : “There is quite a large group of words that appear in the dialects of the North and West (Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Celtic and Italic) but are not found in the others (Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek)… their occurrence in the dialects of the North and West would indicate a cultural development peculiar to the peoples who spread these dialects.” 

While Anatolian (Hittite) was “the first group to break away from the proto-language”, and Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek were “those who remained” after “the dispersals of the early PIE dialects”, the other branches share isoglosses which can help in placing them between these two extremes : 

  1. Hittite, the first to separate itself, shares many isoglosses with Germanic and Tocharian.” 
  1. Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian and (probably) Phrygian share an interesting isogloss : the use of ‘r’ to indicate the passive forms of verbs.  This feature… does not occur in any other Indo-European language.” 
  1. Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavonic constitute one distinct group, in contra-distinction to the other distinct group consisting of Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek. 

However, within themselves, these five branches link together as follows :

a. Italic and Celtic : “Comparative linguists have long been aware of the links between Italic and Celtic, which share a number of archaic features.  These links suggest that the two branches developed together.” Among other things: “Vocabulary is identical in parts; this is true of some very important words, particularly prepositions and preverbs.”

b. Baltic and Slavonic : “The general resemblance of Baltic and Slavic is so apparent that no-one challenges the notion of a period of common development… Baltic and Slavic are the descendants of almost identical Indo-European dialects.  No important isogloss divides Baltic from Slavic… the vocabularies of Slavic and Baltic show numerous cognates – more precisely, cognates that are found nowhere else or cognates that in Baltic and Slavic have a form different from their form in other languages.”

c. Italic, Celtic and Germanic : “The Germanic, Celtic and Italic idioms present… certain common innovational tendencies.” But, Italic apparently separated from the other two earlier: “Germanic, Celtic and Italic underwent similar influences.  After the Italic-Celtic period, Italic ceased undergoing these influences and underwent others… Germanic and Celtic, remaining in adjacent regions, developed in part along parallel lines.”

d. Germanic, Baltic and Slavonic : “Because Germanic shares certain important features with Baltic and Slavic, we may speculate that the history of the three groups is linked in some way.” 

To go into more precise detail… “The difference between a dative plural with *-bh-, eg.  Skr.-bhyah, Av. -byO, Lat. -bus, O.Osc. -fs, O.Ir.-ib, Gr. -fi(n), and one with *-m-, eg.  Goth. -m, O.Lith. -mus, Ol.Sl. -mU, is one of the first things to have drawn attention to the problem of Indo-European dialectology.  Since it has been established, principally by A. Leskien, that there was no unity of Germanic, Baltic and Slavic postdating the period of Indo-European unity, the very striking similarity of Germanic, Baltic and Slavic which we observe here cannot… be explained except by a dialectical variation within common Indo-European.” It is, therefore, clear “that these three languages arose from Indo-European dialects exhibiting certain common features.” 

To sum up, we get two distinct groups of branches :

Group A: Hittite, Tocharian, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Slavonic.

Group B: Indic, Iranian, Thraco-Phrygian (Armenian), Hellenic (Greek). 

No major isogloss cuts across the dividing line between the two groups to suggest any alternative grouping : the phenomenon of palatalization appears to do so, but it is now recognized as “a late phenomenon” which took place in “a post-PIE era in which whatever unity that once existed had broken down and most of the dialect groups had dispersed”, and we will examine the importance of this phenomenon later on. 

Other similarities between languages or branches which lie on opposite sides of the above dividing line are recognizable as phenomena which took place after the concerned branches had reached their historical habitats, and do not therefore throw any light on the location of the original homeland or the migration-schedule of the branches. 

The following are two examples of such similarities :  

  1. The Phrygian language appears to share the “r-isogloss” which is found only in the Hittite, Tocharian, Italic and Celtic branches.  However : 

a. The Phrygian language is known only from fragments, and many of the linguistic features attributed to it are speculative.  About the “r-isogloss”, it may be noted, Winn points out that it is shared by “Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian and (probably) Phrygian”.

b. Armenian, the only living member of the Thraco-Phrygian branch, does not share the “r-isogloss”, and nor did the ancient Thracian language.

c. The seeming presence of this isogloss in Phrygian is clearly due to the influence of Hittite, with which it shared its historical habitat : “Phrygian later replaced Hittite as the dominant language of Central Anatolia.” 

  1. Greek and Italic alone share the change of Proto-Indo-European voiced aspirated stops (bh, dh, gh) into voiceless aspirated stops (ph, th, kh).  Sanskrit is the only language to have retained the original voiced aspirated stops, while all the other branches, except Greek and Italic, converted them into unaspirated stops (b, d, g). 

But this similarity between Greek and Italic is because “when Indo-European languages were brought to Mediterranean people unfamiliar with voiced aspirated stops, this element brought about the process of unvoicing”, and this change took place in the two branches “both independently and along parallel lines”. Hence, this is not an isogloss linking the two branches. 

Therefore, it is clear that the two groups represent two distinct divisions of the Indo-European family.

The Homeland Indicated by the Isoglosses

The pattern of isoglosses shows the following order of migration of the branches of Group A:

1. Hittite.
2. Tocharian.
3. Italic-Celtic.
4. Germanic.
5. Baltic-Slavonic.

Some of these branches share certain isoglosses among themselves that represent innovations which they must have developed in common after their departure from the original homeland, since the remaining branches (Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek) do not share these isoglosses. 

This clearly indicates the presence of a secondary homeland, outside the exit-point from the original homeland, which must have functioned as an area of settlement and common development for the migrating branches. 

The only homeland theory which fits in with the evidence of the isoglosses is the Indian homeland theory : 

The exit-point for the migrating branches was Afghanistan, and these branches migrated towards the north from Afghanistan into Central Asia, which clearly functioned as the secondary homeland for emigrating branches. 

As Winn points out : “Evidence from isoglosses… shows that the dispersal cannot be traced to one particular event; rather it seems to have occured in bursts or stages.” 

Hittite was the first to emigrate from Afghanistan into Central Asia, followed by Tocharian. 

Italic-Celtic represented the next stage of emigration. The four branches developed the “r-isogloss” in common. 

Germanic was the next branch to enter the secondary homeland, and it developed some isoglosses in common with Hittite and Tocharian.

The Baltic-Slavonic movement apparently represented the last major emigration.  And its sojourn in the secondary homeland was apparently not long enough for it to develop any isoglosses in common with Hittite or Tocharian. 

The five branches (Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavonic, in that order) later moved further off, north-westwards, into the area to the north of the Caspian Sea, and subsequently formed part of the Kurgan III migrations into Europe.  The Slavonic and Baltic branches settled down in the eastern parts of Europe, while the other three proceeded further into Europe.  Later, the Italic branch moved towards the south, while the Germanic and Celtic branches moved to the north and west. 

Meanwhile the other branches barring Indic… the Greek, Armenian and Iranian, as also perhaps the one branch (Illyrian or Albanian) which we have not taken into consideration so far, migrated westwards from India by a different and southern route.

Scholars now generally accept the evidence of the isoglosses so far as it concerns the schedule of migrations of the different Indo-European branches from the original homeland or the inter-relationships between different branches.  However, when it comes to determining the actual location of the original homeland, on the basis of this evidence, they abandon their objective approach and try to make it appear as if the evidence fits in with the particular homeland theory advocated by them, even when it is as clear as daylight that they are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.

The homeland theory generally advocated by the scholars is the South Russian homeland theory.  Shan M.M. Winn advocates the “Pontic-Caspian area” within this region as the particular location of the homeland. 

An examination shows that the South Russian homeland theory (“Pontic-Caspian” or otherwise) is totally incompatible with the evidence of the isoglosses :

  1. To begin with, it is clear that we have two distinct groups of branches, which we have already classified as Group A and Group B. 

As per the evidence of the isoglosses, the branches in Group A are the branches which migrated away from the original homeland, and those in Group B are the branches which remained behind in the homeland after the other branches had departed. 

At the same time, all the branches in Group A are found to the north of the Eurasian mountain chain (except for Hittite in Anatolia, but this branch is known to have migrated into Anatolia from the north-east), while all the branches in Group B are found to the south of the Eurasian mountain chain (the northernmost, Greek, is known to have migrated into southeastern Europe from the south-east). 

The logical corollary should have been that the original homeland is also to the south of the Eurasian mountain chain, and that it is located in the historical habitat of one of the branches in Group B. 

However, the scholars regularly advocate homeland theories which place the homeland in the area of one or the other of the branches in Group A. 

  1. The branches in Group A developed certain isoglosses in common after they had migrated away from the homeland.  As we have pointed out, this makes it likely that there was a secondary homeland where they must have developed these isoglosses. 

However, any homeland theory which locates the homeland in a central area, like South Russia or any area around it, makes the location of this secondary homeland a problem : the Tocharian branch is historically located well to the east of South Russia, the Hittite branch is located well to the south of South Russia, and the Germanic and Italic-Celtic branches are located well to the west of South Russia.  It is difficult to think of a way in which all these branches could have moved together in one direction from South Russia before parting from each other and moving off in totally opposite directions. 

It is perhaps to avoid this problem that Winn suggests that the isoglosses shared in common by these branches are not innovations developed by these branches in common, but archaic features which have been retained by otherwise separately migrating branches. 

In respect of the r-isogloss, for example, Winn puts it as follows : “Celtic, Italic, Hittite, Tocharian, and (probably) Phrygian share an interesting isogloss : the use of ‘r’ to indicate the passive forms of verbs.  This feature, which does not occur in any other Indo-European language, is probably an example of the ‘archaism of the fringe’ phenomenon.  When a language is spread over a large territory, speakers at the fringe of that territory are likely to be detached from what goes on at the core.  Linguistic innovations that take place at the core may never find their way out to peripheral areas; hence dialects spoken on the fringe tend to preserve archaic features that have long since disappeared from the mainstream… Tocharian… was so remote from the center that it could hardly have taken part in any innovations.” 

However, it is more logical to treat this isogloss as an innovation developed in common by a few branches after their departure from the homeland, than to postulate that all the other otherwise disparate branches eliminated an original “use of ‘r’ to indicate the passive forms of verbs”. 

  1. What is indeed an example of the “archaism of the fringe” phenomenon is the phenomenon of palatalization. 

Winn describes it as follows : “Palatalization must have been a late phenomenon; that is, we date it to a post-PIE era, in which whatever unity that once existed had now broken down, and most of the dialect groups had dispersed : looking at the geographical distribution of this isogloss, we may note its absence from the peripheral languages : Germanic (at the northwest limit of Indo-European language distribution); Celtic (western limit); Italic, Greek and Hittite (southern limit); and Tocharian (eastern limit).  It is the languages at the center that have changed.  Here, at the core, a trend towards palatalization started; then gradually spread outward.  It never reached far enough to have any effect on the outlying languages.” 

Note that Winn calls it a “post-PIE era, in which whatever unity that once existed had now broken down, and most of the dialect groups had dispersed”, and that he locates every single other branch (except Indic and Iranian), including Greek, in its historical habitat.  He does not specifically name Baltic-Slavonic and Armenian, but it is understood that they are also located in their historical habitats, since he implies that they are “the languages at the centre” (I.e. languages in and around South Russia, which is anyway the historical habitat of these branches). 

Indic and Iranian alone are not located by him in their historical habitats, since that would clearly characterize them as the most “peripheral” or “outlying” branches of all, being located at the extreme southern as well as extreme eastern limit of the Indo-European language distribution.  And this would completely upset his pretty picture of an evolving “center” with archaic “outlying languages”, since the most outlying of the branches would turn out to be the most palatalized of them all.  Hence Winn, without being explicit but implicit in his argument, locates all the other branches, including Greek, in their historical habitats with only the Indic and Iranian branches well outside their historical habitats and still in South Russia, and keeps his fingers crossed over the possibility of the anomaly being noticed. 

Here we see, once again, how the manipulation required to locate the Indo-European homeland in South Russia compels the scholars, again and again, to postulate weird and unnatural schedules of migrations which make the Indo-Iranians the last to leave South Russia, and which locate them in South Russia long after all the other branches, including Greek, are already settled in their historical habitats : a picture which clashes sharply with, among other things, the extremely representative nature of the Rigvedic language and mythology, the purely Indian geographical milieu of the Rig Veda and the movement depicted in it from east to west, and the evidence of the names of places and rivers in northern India right from the period of Rig Veda itself. 

The “late phenomenon” of a “trend towards palatalization” which started “at the core” and “then gradually -spread outward” … and “never reached far enough to have any effect on the outlying languages” … can be explained naturally only on the basis of the Indian homeland theory : the trend started in the “core area”, in north and northwest India, and spread outwards as far as the innermost of the branches in Group A : Baltic and Slavonic, but not as far as the outermost of the branches in Group B : Greek. 

Incidentally, here is how Meillet depicts the interrelationships between the various extant branches … he does not include Hittite and Tocharian in the picture, but it is clear that they will fall in the same group as Germanic, Celtic and Italic … 

While the north-south axis clearly divides the non-palatalized branches in the west from the palatalized branches in the east, where we must locate the “core” area where palatalization started, the northeast-southwest axes neatly divides the branches into the three tribal groupings testified by Indian literary records, (click on links).

Click Here

Click Here 

  1. More than anything else, the one aspect of the evidence of isoglosses that disproves the South Russian theory is the close relationship between Indic or Indo-Iranian and the Greek, which is not satisfactorily explained by any homeland theory other than the Indian homeland theory. 

In dismissing Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian homeland theory, Winn cites this as the single most important factor in disproving the theory : “All the migrations postulated by Renfrew ultimately stem from a single catalyst : the crossing of Anatolian farmers into Greece… For all practical purposes, Renfrew’s hypothesis disregards Tocharian and Indo-Iranian.” 

Supporters of Renfrew’s theory, Winn points out, “have tried to render the Indo-Iranian problem moot. They argue that the Indo-Iranian branch was somehow divided from the main body of Proto-Indo-European before the colonists brought agriculture to the Balkans.  Greek and Indic are thus separated by millenniums of linguistic change – despite the close grammatical correspondences between them (as we saw, these correspondences probably represent shared innovations from the last stage of PIE).” 

Winn’s very valid argument against the Anatolian theory is just as applicable to the South Russian homeland theory, or any other theory which seeks to bring Indic and Iranian into their historical habitats through Central Asia : this involves an extremely long period of separation from Greek which does not fit into the evidence of the isoglosses that shows that Indic and Greek have many “shared innovations from the last stage of PIE”. 

Archaeology, for one, completely rules out any links between the alleged Proto-Indo-Iranians located by these scholars in Central Asia, and the Greeks. Winn tries to identify the Andronovo culture which “covers much of the Central Asian steppe east of the Ural river and Caspian Sea”, with the “Proto-Indo-Iranians” during their alleged sojourn in Central Asia. 

However, not only does he admit that “it is still a hazardous task to connect (this) archaeological evidence of Indo-Iranians in the Central Asian steppe with the appearance of Iranian (Aryan) and Indic (Indo-Aryan) tribes in Iran, Afghanistan and India,” but he also accepts that these so-called Proto-Indo-Iranians in Central Asia have “no links with… south-eastern Europe”, I.e. with the Greeks. 

It is only the Indian homeland theory which fits in with the evidence of the isoglosses. 

It may be noted again that :

a. The evidence of the isoglosses suggests that the Indic, Iranian, Armenian and Greek branches, as well as the Albanian branch, were the last to remain behind in the original homeland after the departure of the other branches.

b. These (naturally, barring Indic) are also the same branches which show connections with the BhRgus/ AtharvaNas, while those which departed show connections with the Druhyus.

c. Again, all these branches form a long belt to the south of the Eurasian mountain chain, while the other (departed) branches are found to its north.

d. And, finally, these are the only branches which are actually recorded in the DASarAjña hymns as being present in the Punjab area during the time of SudAs.

 *  *  *

We shall next present the “Inter-Familial Literary Evidence” …

Please refer and links therein for previous adaptations from the most brilliant, insightful analysis ever undertaken …

by Shrikant G. Talageri available @


Journal : Alternate History

Region : Syria, East Turkey, North Iraq & North-West Iran

Era        : 1500 BC – 1300 BC

Source  :

The Let us begin with a page in history 3500 years ago.

Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform KUR URUMi-ta-an-ni, also MittaniMi-it-ta-ni)

or Hanigalbat was an Indo-Aryan-ruled Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria

and south-east  Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC – 1300 BC.

Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominately Hurrian population, Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon, and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia.

At the beginning of its history, Mitanni’s major rival was Egypt under the Thutmosids. However, with the ascent of the Hittite empire, Mitanni and Egypt made an alliance to protect their mutual interests from the threat of Hittite domination. At the height of its power, during the 14th Century BC, it had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

Mittani’s sphere of influence shows in Hurrian place and personal names and spread of a distinct pottery type over Syria and the Levant.

Geography : The Mitanni controlled trade routes down the Khabur to Mari and up the Euphrates from there to  Charchamesh. For a time they also controlled the Assyrian territories of the upper Tigris and its head-waters at NinevehArbilAssur and Nuzi. Their allies included Kizuwatna in southeastern Anatolia, Mukish stretching between Ugarit and Quatna, west of the Orontes to the sea, and the Niya who controlled the east bank of the Orontes from Alalah down through AleppoEbla and Hama to Qatna and Kadesh. To the east, they had good relations with the Kassites

The land of Mitanni in northern Syria extended from the Taurus mountains to its west and as far east as Nuzi (modern  Kirkuk) and the river Tigris in the east. In the south, it extended from Aleppo across (Nuhashshe) to Mari on the Euphrates in the east. Its centre was in the Khabur River valley, with two capitals : Taite and Washshukanni (which means “beautiful source” or “springhead” in Kurdish),  called  Taidu  and  Ushshukana respectively in Assyrian sources. The whole area allows agriculture without artificial irrigation; cattle, sheep and goats were raised. It is very similar to Assyria in climate, and was settled by both indigenous Hurrian and Amoritic-speaking (Amurru) populations.

Name :  “This kingdom was known as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni to the EgyptiansHurri to the Hittites and Hanigalbat to the Assyrians. All three names were equivalent and interchangeable”, asserted Michael C. Astour. Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.

The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker, Amememhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I. The expedition to the Naharina announced by Thutmosis I at the beginning of his reign may have actually taken place during the long previous reign of Amenhotep I.

People :  Though difficult to ascertain, a treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (MitraVarunaIndraNasatya). A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

In the 14th century BC numerous city-states in northern Syria and Canaan were ruled by persons with Hurrian and some Indo-Aryan names. If this can be taken to mean that the population of these states was Hurrian as well, then it is possible that these entities were a part of a larger polity with a shared Hurrian identity. 

History :  No native sources for the history of Mitanni (i.e. Hanilgalbat) have been found so far. The account is mainly based on Assyrian, Hittite and Egyptian sources, as well as inscriptions from nearby places in Syria. Often it is not even possible to establish synchronicity between the rulers of different countries and cities, let alone give uncontested absolute dates. The definition and history of Mitanni is further beset by a lack of differentiation between linguistic, ethnic and political groups.

Summary :  It is believed that the warring Hurrian tribes and city states became united under one dynasty after the collapse of Babylon due to the Hittite sack by Mursili I and the Kassite invasion. The Hittite conquest of Aleppo (Yamhad), the weak middle Assyrian kings who succeeded Puzur-Ashur III, and the internal strifes of the Hittites had created a power vacuum in upper Mesopotamia. This led to the formation of the kingdom of Mitanni.

 King Barattarna of Mitanni expanded the kingdom west to Halab (Aleppo) and made the Canaanite king Idrimi of Alalakh his vassal. The state of Kizzuwatna in the west also shifted its allegiance to Mitanni, and Assyria in the east had become largely a Mitannian vassal state by the mid-15th century BC. The nation grew stronger during the reign of Shaushtatar but the Hurrians were keen to keep the Hittites inside the Anatolian highland. Kizzuwatna in the west and Ishuwa in the north were important allies against the hostile Hittites.

After a few successful clashes with the Pharaohs over the control of Syria, Mitanni sought peace with Egypt and an alliance was formed. During the reign of Shuttarna in the early 14th century BC the relationship was very amicable, and he sent his daughter Gilu-Hepa to Egypt for a marriage with Pharaoh Amenhotep III. Mitanni was now at its peak of power.

However by the reign of Eriba-Adad I (1390 BC – 1366 BC) Mitanni influence over Assyria was on the wane. Eriba-Adad I became involved in a dynastic battle between Tushratta and his brother Artatama II and after this his son Shuttarna II, who called himself king of the Hurri while seeking support from the Assyrians. A pro-Hurri / Assyria faction appeared at the royal Mitanni court. Eriba-Adad I had thus loosened Mitanni influence over Assyria, and in turn had now made Assyria an influence over Mitanni affairs. King Ashur-Uballit I (1365 BC – 1330 BC) of Assyria attacked Shuttarna and annexed Mittani territory in the middle of the 14th Century BC, making Assyria once more a great power.

Upon death of Shuttarna, Mitanni was ravaged by a war of succession. Eventually Tushratta, a son of Shuttarna, ascended the throne, but the kingdom had been weakened considerably and both the Hittite and Assyrian threats increased. At the same time, the diplomatic relationship with Egypt went cold, with Egyptians fearing the growing power of the Hittites and Assyrians. The Hittite king  Suppiluliuma I invaded the Mitanni vassal states in northern Syria and replaced them with loyal subjects.

In the capital Washukanni a new power struggle broke out. The Hittites and the Assyrians supported different pretenders to the throne. Finally a Hittite army conquered the capital Washukkanni and installed Shattiwaza, the son of Tushratta, as their vassal king of Mitanni in the late 14th century BC. The kingdom had by now been reduced to the Khabur Valley. The Assyrians had not given up their claim on Mitanni, and Shalmaneser I in the 13th century BC annexed the kingdom.

Shaushtatar Shaushtatar, king of Mitanni, sacked the Assyrian capital of Ashur some time in the 15th century during the reign of Nur-ili, and took the silver and golden doors of the royal palace to Washshukanni. This is known from a later Hittite document, the Suppililiuma-Shattiwaza treaty. After the sack of Assur, Assyria may have paid tribute to Mitanni up to the time of Eriba-Adad I (1390 BC – 1366 BC). There is no trace of that in the Assyrian king lists; therefore it is probable that Ashur was ruled by a native Assyrian dynasty owing sporadic allegiance to the house of Shaushtatar. While a sometime vassal of Mitanni, the temple of Sin and Shamash was built in Ashur.

The Canaanite states of AleppoNuzi, and Arrapha seem to have been incorporated into Mitanni under Shaushtatar. The palace of the crown prince, the governor of Arrapha has been excavated. A letter from Shaushtatar was discovered in the house of Shilwe-Teshup. His seal shows heroes and winged geniuses fighting lions and other animals, as well as a winged sun. This style, with a multitude of figures distributed over the whole of the available space, is taken as typically Hurrian. A second seal, belonging to Shuttarna I, but used by Shaushtatar, found in Alalakh, shows a more traditional Assyro-Akkadian style.

The military superiority of Mitanni was probably based on the use of two-wheeled war-chariots, driven by the ‘Marjannu’ people. A text on the training of war-horses, written by a certain “Kikkuli the Mitannian” has been found in the archives recovered at Hattusa. More speculative is the attribution of the introduction of the chariot in Mesopotamia to early Mitanni.

During the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep II, Mitanni seems to have regained influence in the middle Orontes valley that had been conquered by Thutmose III. Amenhotep fought in Syria in 1425, presumably against Mitanni as well, but did not reach the Euphrates.

Artatama I and Shuttarna II  Later on, Egypt and Mitanni became allies, and King Shuttarna II himself was received at the Egyptian court. Amicable letters, sumptuous gifts, and letters asking for sumptuous gifts were exchanged. Mitanni was especially interested in Egyptian gold. This culminated in a number of royal marriages: the daughter of King Artatama I was married to Thutmose IV. Kilu-Hepa, or Gilukhipa, the daughter of Shuttarna II, was married to Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who ruled in the early 14th century BC. In a later royal marriage Tadu-Hepa, or Tadukhipa, the daughter of Tushratta, was sent to Egypt.

When Amenhotep III fell ill, the king of Mitanni sent him a statue of the goddess Shaushka (Ishtar) of Nineveh that was reputed to cure diseases. A more or less permanent border between Egypt and Mitanni seems to have existed near Qatna on the Orontes River; Ugarit was part of Egyptian territory.

The reason Mitanni sought peace with Egypt may have been trouble with the Hittites. A Hittite king called Tudhaliya conducted campaigns against Kizzuwatna, ArzawaIshuwa, Aleppo, and maybe against Mitanni itself. Kizzuwatna may have fallen to the Hittites at that time.

Artashumara and Tushratta

Cuneiform tablet containing a letter from Tushratta of Mitanni to Amenhotep III 

Artashumara followed his father Shuttarna II on the throne, but was murdered by a certain UD-hi, or Uthi. It is uncertain what intrigues followed, but UD-hi then placed Tushratta, another son of Shuttarna, on the throne. Probably, he was quite young at the time and was intended to serve as a figurehead only. However, he managed to dispose of the murderer, possibly with the help of his Egyptian father-in-law, but this is sheer speculation.

The Egyptians may have suspected the mighty days of Mitanni were about to end. In order to protect their Syrian border zone the new Pharaoh Akhenaten instead received envoys from the resurgent powers of the Hittites and Assyria. From the Amarna letters we know how Tushratta’s desperate claim for a gold statue from Akhenaten developed into a major diplomatic crisis.

The unrest weakened the Mitannian control of their vassal states, and Aziru of Amurru seized the opportunity and made a secret deal with the Hittite king Suppiluliuma IKizzuwatna, which had seceded from the Hittites, was reconquered by Suppiluliuma. In what has been called his first Syrian campaign, Suppiluliuma then invaded the western Euphrates valley, and conquered the Amurru and Nuhashshe in Mitanni.

According to the later Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza treaty, Suppiluliuma had made a treaty with Artatama II, a rival of Tushratta. Nothing is known of this Artatama’s previous life or connection, if any, to the royal family. He is called “king of the Hurri”, while Tushratta went by the title “King of Mitanni”. This must have disagreed with Tushratta. Suppiluliuma began to plunder the lands on the west bank of the Euphrates, and annexed Mount Lebanon. Tushratta threatened to raid beyond the Euphrates if even a single lamb or kid was stolen. By the reign of Eriba-Adad I (1390 BC – 1366 BC) Mitanni influence over Assyria was on the wane. Eriba-Adad I became involved in a dynastic battle between Tushratta and his brother Artatama II and after this his son Shuttarna II, who called himself king of the Hurri while seeking support from the Assyrians. A pro-Hurri/Assyria faction appeared at the royal Mitanni court. Eriba-Adad I had thus loosened Mitanni influence over Assyria, and in turn had now made Assyria an influence over Mitanni affairs.

Suppiluliuma then recounts how the land of Ishuwa on the upper Euphrates had seceded in the time of his grandfather. Attempts to conquer it had failed. In the time of his father, other cities had rebelled. Suppiluliuma claims to have defeated them, but the survivors had fled to the territory of Ishuwa, that must have been part of Mitanni. A clause to return fugitives is part of many treaties between sovereign states and between rulers and vassal states, so perhaps the harbouring of fugitives by Ishuwa formed the pretext for the Hittite invasion.

A Hittite army crossed the border, entered Ishuwa and returned the fugitives (or deserters or exile governments) to Hittite rule. “I freed the lands that I captured; they dwelt in their places. All the people whom I released rejoined their peoples, and Hatti incorporated their territories.”

The Hittite army then marched through various districts towards Washukanni. Suppiluliuma claims to have plundered the area, and to have brought loot, captives, cattle, sheep and horses back to Hatti. He also claims that Tushratta fled, though obviously he failed to capture the capital. While the campaign weakened Mitanni, it did not endanger its existence.

In a second campaign, the Hittites again crossed the Euphrates and subdued  HalabMukishNiyaArahatiApina, and Qatna, as well as some cities whose names have not been preserved. The booty from Arahati included charioteers, who were brought to Hatti together with all their possessions. While it was common practice to incorporate enemy soldiers in the army, this might point to a Hittite attempt to counter the most potent weapon of Mitanni, the war-chariots, by building up or strengthening their own chariot forces.

All in all, Suppiluliuma claims to have conquered the lands “from Mount Lebanon and from the far bank of the Euphrates”. But Hittite governors or vassal rulers are mentioned only for some cities and kingdoms. While the Hittites made some territorial gains in western Syria, it seems unlikely that they established a permanent rule east of the Euphrates.

Shattiwaza / Kurtiwaza  A son of Tushratta conspired with his subjects, and killed his father in order to become king. His brother Shattiwaza was forced to flee. In the unrest that followed, the Assyrians asserted themselves under Ashur-uballit I, and he invaded the country; and the pretender Artatama / Atratama II gained ascendancy, followed by his son Shuttarna. Suppiluliuma claims that “the entire land of Mittanni went to ruin, and the land of Assyria and the land of Alshi divided it between them”, but this sounds more like wishful thinking, although Assyria annexed Mitanni territory the kingdom survived. Shuttarna wisely maintained good relations with Assyria, and returned to it the palace doors of Ashur, that had been taken by Shaushtatar. Such booty formed a powerful political symbol in ancient Mesopotamia.

The fugitive Shattiwaza may have gone to Babylon first, but eventually ended up at the court of the Hittite king, who married him to one of his daughters. The treaty between Suppiluliuma of Hatti and Shattiwaza of Mitanni has been preserved and is one of the main sources on this period. After the conclusion of the Suppiluliuma-Shattiwaza treaty, Piyashshili, a son of Suppiluliuma, led a Hittite army into Mitanni. According to Hittite sources, Piyashshili and Shattiwaza crossed the Euphrates at Carchemish, then marched against Irridu in Hurrian territory. They sent messengers from the west bank of the Euphrates and seemed to have expected a friendly welcome, but the people were loyal to their new ruler, influenced, as Suppiluliuma claims, by the riches of Tushratta. “Why are you coming? If you are coming for battle, come, but you shall not return to the land of the Great King!” they taunted. Shuttarna had sent men to strengthen the troops and chariots of the district of Irridu, but the Hittite army won the battle, and the people of Irridu sued for peace.

Meanwhile, an Assyrian army “led by a single charioteer” marched on the capital Washshukanni. It seems that Shuttarna had sought Assyrian aid in the face of the Hittite threat. Possibly the force sent did not meet his expectations, or he changed his mind. In any case, the Assyrian army was refused entrance, and set instead to besiege the capital. This seems to have turned the mood against Shuttarna; perhaps the majority of the inhabitants of Washshukanni decided they were better off with the Hittite Empire than with their former subjects. Anyway, a messenger was sent to Piyashshili and Shattiwaza at Irridu, who delivered his message in public, at the city gate. Piyashshili and Shattiwaza marched on Washukanni, and the cities of Harran and Pakarripa seem to have surrendered to them.

While at Pakarripa, a desolate country where the troops suffered hunger, they received word of an Assyrian advance, but the enemy never materialised. The allies pursued the retreating Assyrian troops to Nilap_ini but could not force a confrontation. The Assyrians seem to have retreated home in the face of the superior force of the Hittites.

Shattiwaza became king of Mitanni, but after Suppililiuma had taken Carchemish and the land west of the Euphrates, that were governed by his son Piyashshili, Mitanni was restricted to the Khabur River and Balikh River valleys, and became more and more dependent on their allies in Hattarsus. Some scholars speak of a Hittite puppet kingdom, a buffer-state against the powerful Assyria.

Assyria under Ashur-uballit I began to infringe on Mitanni as well. Its vassal state of Nuzi east of the Tigris was conquered and destroyed. According to the Hittitologist Trevor R. Bryce, Mitanni (or Hanigalbat as it was known) was permanently lost to Assyria during the reign of Mursili III of the Hittites, who was defeated by the Assyrians in the process. Its loss was a major blow to Hittite prestige in the ancient world and undermined the young king’s authority over his kingdom.

Shattuara I  The royal inscriptions of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari I (c. 1307–1275) relate how the vassal King Shattuara of Mitanni rebelled and committed hostile acts against Assyria. How this Shattuara was related to the dynasty of Partatama is unclear. Some scholars think that he was the second son of Artatama II, and the brother of Shattiwazza’s one-time rival Shuttarna. Adad-nirari claims to have captured King Shattuara and brought him to Ashur, where he took an oath as a vassal. Afterwards, he was allowed to return to Mitanni, where he paid Adad-nirari regular tribute. This must have happened during the reign of the Hittite King Mursili II, but there is no exact date.

 Wasashatta  Despite Assyrian strength, Shattuara’s son Wasashatta attempted to rebel. He sought Hittite help, but that kingdom was preoccupied with internal struggles, possibly connected with the usurpation of Hattusili III, who had driven his nephew Urhi-Teshup into exile. The Hittites took Wasashatta’s money but did not help, as Adad-nirari’s inscriptions gleefully note.

The Assyrians expanded further, and conquered the royal city of Taidu, and took WashshukannuAmasakkuKahatShuru,NabulaHurra and Shuduhu as well. They conquered Irridu, destroyed it utterly and sowed salt over it. The wife, sons and daughters of Wasashatta were taken to Ashur, together with much booty and other prisoners. As Wasashatta himself is not mentioned, he must have escaped capture. There are letters of Wasashatta in the Hittite archives. Some scholars think he became ruler of a reduced Mitanni state called Shubria.

While Adad-nirari I conquered the Mitanni heartland between the Balikh and the Khabur from the  Hittites, he does not seem to have crossed the Euphrates, and Carchemish remained part of the Hittite kingdom. With his victory over Mitanni, Adad-nirari claimed the title of Great King (sharru rabû) in letters to the Hittite rulers.

 Shattuara II  In the reign of Shalmaneser I (1270s–1240s), King Shattuara of Mitanni, a son or nephew of Wasahatta, rebelled against the Assyrian yoke with the help of the Hittites and the nomadic  Ahlamu (Arameans) around 1250 BC. His army was well prepared; they had occupied all the mountain passes and waterholes, so that the Assyrian army suffered from thirst during their advance.

Nevertheless, Shalmaneser I won a crushing victory for Assyria over the Hittites and Mitanni. He claims to have slain 14,400 men; the rest were blinded and carried away. His inscriptions mention the conquest of nine fortified temples; 180 Hurrian cities were “turned into rubble mounds”, and Shalmaneser “…slaughtered like sheep the armies of the Hittites and the Ahlamu, his allies…”. The cities from Taidu to Irridu were captured, as well as all of mount Kashiar to Eluhat and the fortresses of Sudu and Harranu to Carchemish on the Euphrates. Another inscription mentions the construction of a temple to the Assyrian god Adad / Hadad in Kahat, a city of Mitanni that must have been occupied as well.

Hanigalbat as an Assyrian Province  A part of the population was deported and served as cheap labour. Administrative documents mention barley allotted to “uprooted men”, deportees from Mitanni. For example, the Assyrian governor of the city NahurMeli-Sah received barley to be distributed to deported persons from Shuduhu “as seed, food for their oxen and for themselves”. The Assyrians built a line of frontier fortifications against the Hittites on the Balikh River.

Mitanni was now ruled by the Assyrian grand-vizier Ili-ippada, a member of the Royal family, who took the title of king (sharru) of Hanilgalbat. He resided in the newly built Assyrian administrative centre at Tell Sabi Abyad, governed by the Assyrian steward Tammitte. Assyrians maintained not only military and political control, but seem to have dominated trade as well, as no Hurrian or Mitanni names appear in private records of Shalmaneser’s time.

Under the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I (c. 1243–1207) there were again numerous deportations from Hanilgalbat (east Mitanni) to Ashur, probably in connection with the construction of a new palace. As the royal inscriptions mention an invasion of Hanilgalbat by a Hittite king, there may have been a new rebellion, or at least native support of a Hittite invasion. The Mitanni towns may have been sacked at this time, as destruction levels have been found in some excavations that cannot be dated with precision, however. Tell Sabi Abyad, seat of the Assyrian government in Mitanni in the times of Shalmaneser, was deserted between 1200 and 1150 B.C.

In the time of Ashur-nirari III (ca. 1200 BC, the beginning of Bronze Age collapse), the Phrygians and others invaded and destroyed the Hittite Empire, already weakened by defeats against Assyria. Some parts of Assyrian ruled Hanilgalbat was temporarily lost to the Phrygians also; however the Assyrians defeated the Phrygians and regained these colonies. The Hurrians still held Katmuhu and Paphu. In the transitional period to the Early Iron Age, Mitanni was settled by invading Semitic Aramaean tribes.

Indo-Aryan superstrate Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni exhibit close similarities to Indo-Aryan, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion. In a treaty between theHittites and the Mitanni, the deities  MitraVarunaIndra, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked. Kikkuli‘s horse training text includes technical terms such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (pancha, five), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine),  vartana (vartana, turn, round in the horse race). The numeral aika “one” is of particular importance because it places the superstrate in the vicinity of Indo-Aryan proper as opposed to Indo-Iranian or early Iranian (which has “aiva”) in general.

Another text has babru (babhru, brown), parita (palita, grey), and pinkara (pingala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world. The Mitanni warriors were called marya, the term for warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)” (M. Mayrhofer, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen< Heidelberg 1986-2000; Vol. II 358).

Sanskrit interpretations of Mitanni royal names render Artashumara (artaššumara) as Arta-smara “who thinks of Arta/Ṛta” (Mayrhofer II 780), Biridashva (biridašṷa, biriiašṷa) as Prītāśva “whose horse is dear” (Mayrhofer II 182), Priyamazda (priiamazda) as Priyamedha “whose wisdom is dear” (Mayrhofer II 189, II378), Citrarata as citraratha “whose chariot is shining” (Mayrhofer I 553), Indaruda / Endaruta as Indrota “helped by Indra” (Mayrhofer I 134), Shativaza (šattiṷaza) as Sātivāja “winning the race price” (Mayrhofer II 540, 696), Šubandhu as Subandhu ‘having good relatives” (a name in Palestine, Mayrhofer II 209, 735), Tushratta (tṷišeratta, tušratta, etc.) as *tṷaiašaratha, Vedic Tvastr “whose chariot is vehement” (Mayrhofer, Etym. Wb., I 686, I 736).

   In the next Parts, we will take up evidence of Indo-Aryan movement

from Armenian region to Russia and beyond, through Siberia to Japan.

Nefertiti (14th Century BC), wife of King Amenhotep IV of Egypt, was probably born in Mitanni. His reign was distinguished by a religious revolution, strongly supported by Nefertiti, that renounced the established pantheon of gods in favour of a single, supreme deity, Aton. Aton, represented by a sun disc, was revered as the source of life and the bounties of nature.

Journal : Remembering Sardar Patel


Life Snippets … Source :

Vallabhbhai Patel was born on this day in 1875. He forged a united India from the 565 semi-autonomous princely states and British-era colonial provinces using frank diplomacy, backed with the option and the use of military action. He came to be known as the Iron Man of India and is remembered as the “patron saint” of India’s civil servants.

Patel passed his matriculation at the late age of 22; at this point, he was generally regarded by his elders as an unambitious man destined for a commonplace job. But Patel himself harboured a plan — he would study to become a lawyer, work and save funds, travel to England and study to become a barrister. Patel spent years away from his family, studying on his own with books borrowed from other lawyers and passed examinations within two years.

Patel cared for a friend suffering from Bubonic plague when it swept across Gujarat. When he himself came down with the disease, he immediately sent his family to safety, left his home, and moved into an isolated house in Nadiad; some say, it was a dilapidated temple, where slowly recovered.

Patel practised law in Godhra, Borsad and Anand while taking on the financial burdens of his homestead in Karamsad. He saved enough to take up his study in England and applied for a pass and a ticket, which arrived in the name of “V. J. Patel” at his elder brother’s home who bore the same initials. Patel’s elder brother, Vithalbhai, also sought to study in England and remonstrated to his younger brother that it would be disreputable for an older brother to follow his younger brother for study overseas. In keeping with his concerns, Sardar Patel let Vithalbhai go in his place, also providing funds for his brother’s stay in England. And pronto, he began saving again for his own goal of studying abroad.

In 1909, Patel’s wife Jhaverba was ill in Bombay and was to undergo a major surgical operation for cancer. Her health suddenly worsened and, despite successful emergency surgery, she died in the hospital. Patel was cross-examining a witness in court when he was handed a note informing him of his wife’s demise. As per others who witnessed, Patel read the note, put it in his pocket and continued to intensely cross-examine the witness. He won the case. Patel himself decided against marrying again and raised his children with the help of his family.

At the age of 36, he journeyed to England and enrolled at the Middle Temple Inn in London, finishing a 36-month course in 30 and topping his class despite having no previous college background.

In 1920, he was elected president of the newly formed Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee — and remained till 1945. He worked extensively for providing electricity, drainage and sanitation, and educational infrastructure, against untouchability and caste discrimination, opposing taxes on farmers reeling under famine, organising relief for people affected by natural calamities, and for empowerment of women.

Patel supported Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation movement and toured the state to recruit more than 300,000 members and raise over Rs. 1.5 million in funds. He helped organise bonfires of British goods in Ahmedabad, throwing in all his Western wardrobe. With his daughter Mani and son Dahya, he switched completely to wearing khadi.

During Quit India movent, Patel was interned in Ahmednagar fort from 1942 to 1945. He spun cloth, played bridge, read a large number of books, took long walks, practised gardening, and provided emotional support to his colleagues through their anxiety about developments outside.

In the 1946 election for Congress presidency, Patel stepped down in favor of Nehru at Gandhi’s request. The election was an important one : the elected President would lead free India’s first Government. Gandhi asked all 16 states representatives to elect the right person and Sardar Patel’s name was proposed by 13. But Patel respected Gandhi’s request to not be the first prime minister.

He became the Home Minister… and left a united, progressive India for poaterity. He died on December 15, 1950, leaving behind few possessions, a cane and a pair if slippers being the most prominent among them !

Long Poem : Shadows Of Shame

I drove my lady out a Sunday, a monthly routine that the young man in the house undertakes. What with all that transpired here, there and everywhere, it was late in evening when we found ourselves on the return leg. I suggested eating out, so she wouldn’t have to spend time in the kitchen. And, boy… it had to be street food !

When we were full and quenched, I calculated we had spent a grand sum equivalent of 2-and-half dollars. Aha, Ahoy … I exclaimed to myself ! Why the hell do I rail against the govt policies, the inflation et al, when I might have great food at such fantastic prices compared to what it would cost anywhere else in the world ?

Indeed, why… because who among 60 % of India’s population can afford to spend Rs 120 on street food and entertainment fare ? On chat – samosa – tikki – golgappa – kulfi ? Which is why. I find it insolent of people when they judge the economy relative to other economies, or to their fortunate solvency, or by what their colleagues in business and govt service opine.

Here’s my introduction to Les Miserables that I have recorded right off the scene I encountered on a city street in Calcutta, soon after I had started on a career …


The city avenue is agog today.

The sun is set

Traffic crawls

And a class war begun

By the quaint lamp

From colonial past

In its yellow light

And dim cast.

I heard the screams first

In local din

Before walking up
To drama high

That caught my curiosity

Kept me mystified

I say, so very…

A man chest bare

In pajamas

Thundered with a cracking voice :

” The bitches ! The thieves !! “

” The bitches ! The thieves !! “

” Mo-fuck bitches !!!

” Guttersnipe thieves !!!!”

Accusing, without a pause

Charged, within his compound wall

Looking over with a flushed face

Popped eyes and killing stares

At two women, their three kids

Threatening dire, at them each

Pounding the ground

With explosive fury.

He rushes back to huddled shade

Where the parents stand

And family, all lined up

To watch him sally forth

Again and again

Bursting out, emitting yells

Full-throat, trembling with rage

Causing tremors with a finger shake

At those ladies accurst

And I told myself :

This would hurt serious …

‘Twas a heart foaming vulgarly

At the pavement dwellers’ family

With a mind so disjointed

Spewing aggression

In fear’s sway !

He raves without pause

Pacing up and down

Brow stressed with rants

With quaking furrows

Meaning aloud, louder

To knuckle dust proper …

I look at the wretches

On this side of gate

In full glare they stand

By their homeless shade

A tiny makeshift tent

Of polythene sheet

With kids behind them

Cowering, ill-clad

Apprehensive but stuck

To their grounded feet

Watching …

The man lunge, cane in hand

To family’s loud gasp

And old parents’ recoil

But the ramble peaks

Teen brother in tow

Lagging to restrain

Looking lost

Diffident and tame

His unease covered

In shadows of shame …

The tall woman this side

Now lets out a shriek

Curdles the blood

Of onlookers, I see

She thrust forward the girls

Little – shy and naked

Sad pouts, looks aground

And hovering in tentativeness …

The crowd is mute

As jury glass eyed

Attentive to lawyers

Spar on either side

Waiting … to write

On books open just then

To see through the drama

And record their judgment …

It’s the younger woman’s turn

To step up the stage

To ” strip the monster “

With her accusing lance

A finger outstretched

And wide sweeps of arm

Histrionics real, I find

So brilliant of her

Spitting fire from close

Quick to back into home

Pleading sharp their essence

Their poverty, homelessness

Plain alibi, she gestures

Of their innocence

Her pitch querying appeal

To mango men in jury …

Insinuations dart from stares latent

I observe the verdict’s clear

Among the gathered men

Quiet, erect, listening intense

Spreading their sense

When the aggressor halts

Unsure sudden, in ebb

Now looking around

Bewildered, afraid …

There, he buttons up in

I read his confidence thin

More, a terror writ large

With the brother expressing

Tugging, hinting escape

And pulling at him

And the man himself

Shows his coiled up anguish

Stealing a retreat

Thinking, “How incredulous !”


Chafing, tapered

Pausing just once

To make it clear …

But the destitutes right then

Go for the kill

Flaunt their rags

Their bellies caved in

And pinch the hearts

With wails, convincingly

Run the foe aground

Down and down

And the fray’s done in

The parents shrink enough

To issue their call

” Damn the wench !”

” Filth they are …”

Righteousness misplaced

I felt, the manner was small

Face blackened, it seemed

And the dignity was false

The man recedes heavy

On benumbed steps

His sense now laden

And ears were plugged

Bellowing yet in mind

Being unrepentant

Though the frame was slouched

But his eyes were up …

* * *

Soon, I hear

Chatter fill the mansion

Rum to shore up

Feudal pretensions

Nursing the defeat

Under influence

To power built up

And willed violence

Letting out a yelling storm

On weak and uninformed

Through unreasoned bawls

Innocent questions unformed…

* * *

Outside, the unscathed dwellers chirp

Of stagy victory

And people content, disperse

The poor abode regained is open

On three sides :

Rooms are imagined

Mats tattered

And few utensils black

Dented, most mattered

The older one, calm

Now sweeps the ground

The pot’s on fire

Exhorts the kids around

Up, up, girls !”

Boiled rice in warm whey
And a pinch of salt ! Hey …”

Encore :

Boiled rice in warm whey

And a pinch of salt ! Hey …

Monotony come alive

Like a playing record stuck …

The younger one

On a low stool, sighs

Spits copiously out

Holds her face for long

In her two palms

Staring straight

Into vacuum …

Then, heaves up sudden

On her feet

Looking at her bosom

And her boobs extend

It’s body time,” she nods to herself

To put the breasts

To livelihood due –

To be the goddess, verily

To the one now waiting

For her cue…

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