Story Of Vedic Civilisation

English: The Atha Naradiyamahapuranam is one o...
The Atha Naradiyamahapuranam, one of the 18 Puranas of Hinduism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Historical Dates From Puranic Sources

Prof. Narayan Rao

According to the modern Indian history books Lord Buddha is believed to have been born in the Sixth century B.C. and Chandragupta Mourya is believed to have been the ruler of Magadha Empire soon after the invasion of Alexander in the year 327 B.C. There is a common misconception among laymen as well as historians that these and the other dates given in the official version of Indian history are proven facts.

However, a careful and critical examination of the sources from which these dates have been derived show that these dates are only as true as the creation of the universe in (or around) the year 4006 B.C. Most people, including historians, believe that the dates mentioned above and the other dates of Indian history have been derived mainly from archaeological evidences, inscriptions on stone pillars and accounts of the foreign travelers. But no complete history, whether correct or incorrect, can be written from such discontinuous sources.

History has to be written mainly from historical accounts. The modern pioneers of Indian history namely Sir William Jones, Professor Max Muller, Professor Wilson and the other indologists of early nineteenth century knew this and the first sources they looked for were the scriptures known as Itihasa and Purana such as Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, Matsya Purana and Bhavishya Purana.

The Puranas give the dates of the historical events in Kaliyugabda, Vikram Sambat, Sakabda and other Indian eras still in use at present. From these narrations it is possible to get the dates of all important historical events in the Christian era.

Dawn Of Indology

However, Sir William Jones and the European orientalists of early nineteenth century ran into a serious difficulty in determining the chronology from the Puranas. It must be recalled that during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it was firmly believed by the Scientists and other learned men that the universe was created in or around the year 4006 B.C. The theory of evolution suggested by Darwin and the idea of the universe being millions, or even billions, of years, old were not accepted by the Scientists till late nineteenth century. The earlier European orientalists could not possibly believe in the chronology of the Puranas which places the age of the universe at a few billion years (in contrast to then scientifically accepted age of less than 6000 years).

Their misgivings were strengthened because of the following.

1. The narrations of the events of the first three eras, namely Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga, in the Puranas appear more mythical than factual.

2. All the narrations of the events after the battle of Kurukshetra are written in future tense. All narrations are made in a mythological language involving the Gods (rather unnecessarily) in the events. This could be very confusing to scholars not familiar with the Indian traditions.

3. There are some discrepancies in the accounts of the different Puranas partly due to the errors in copying, proof reading etc. including modern printing and partly due to deliberate alterations to suit the purposes of the royal families in whose courts the scriptures were maintained. These could be corrected by comparing the different Puranas as well as the different versions of the same Purana. This could be hardly expected to have been done in an unbiased manner by the early European orientalists who were exploring a field hitherto completely unknown. The later orientalists, like Pargiter, could not do a proper evaluation as they were already biased by the earlier work.

4. Many translations, or rather narrations, of the Puranas in the Vernacular languages contain accounts much in variation from the original Sanskrit texts from which those are purported to have been derived. Kamban Ramayana and Ramcharit Manas of Tulsidas are two such examples. In addition there are famous literary works like “Abhigyana Shakuntalam”, “Mudra Rakshasa” and “Harsha Charita” which are more popular but can be very misleading for the purpose of chronology.

Thus the European orientalists like Professor Max Muller and Sir William Jones came to the obvious, but grossly erroneous, conclusion that though the accounts of the Puranas are based on a hard core of historical facts, the chronology is all wrong.

Having thus dismissed the straightforward method of determining the chronology of Indian history, the orientalists started looking for other sources including their own conjectures. Sir William Jones actually suggested a chronological table of events starting with the year 4006 B.C. which he believed to be the year of creation of Swayambhuba Manu. This chronological table taken from the “Complete works of Sir William Jones” is given in Appendix I. Though most of the modern historians do not know it, the chronology they use is a modified version of the table given in Appendix I.

English: The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight ...
The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija,

Story Of Vedic Civilisation

How Ancient Is The Vedic Tradition

Dr Kenneth Chandler

Origins Of Vedic Civilisation

Other Approaches to Dating the Vedic Tradition

In an article entitled, “Birth of a Civilization,” in Archeology, January/February 1998, anthropologist Mark Kenoyer sums up decades of scientific research on the archeology of India and argues that the Rig Veda verses were known on the subcontinent sometime before 1500 BC, by communities in the northwest area of the subcontinent. This is, again, a minimal date, not an attempt to fix the time of the Vedic period at 1,500 BC.

Maurice Winternitz, a German scholar and author of the two volume History of Indian Literature, extensively re-examined the evidence for Muller’s dates in 1981, a decade before the movement to push back the dates of Vedic civilisation that started in the 1990s. Winternitz estimated how long it would have taken for the vast body of Vedic literature to form and develop before the Buddhist revival in 500 BC. He considered each of the major periods of Vedic literature and estimated a bare minimal time for the incubation of each. His estimate of 1900 years put the beginning of the Vedic tradition at sometime before 2,400 BC as a bare minimum.

The vast literature of the Rig Veda, the Brahmanans, the Aranyakas, the Upanishads, the Vedangas, the Upangas, the Puranans, the Itihasa, the systems of Ayur-Veda, Winternitz argued—each a huge body of literature—required a sustained incubation period that must have taken an extended period of time. Winternitz could not imagine that this had taken place in the short span of time that had been assigned for it to happen between 1,500 BC and 500 BC when Buddha lived. This, it must be emphasised again, was Winternitz’s estimate of a minimum time, and was not meant to fix the date of the Rig Vedic beginning.

The City Under the Sea : Dwarka

Undersea exploration of an ancient city about half a mile off the coast of Gujarat in India, in 1981, lead to the discovery a city that had been submerged since 1,600 BC. The city is well established to be Dwarka, an ancient city mentioned in the Mahabharata, the great epic of the late Vedic period of Itihasa. The Mahabharata describes Dwarka as built on land reclaimed from the sea. Boulders have been found under the fortified city walls, showing that it was the result of land reclamation. The Mahabharata also mentions that Krishna warned the residents of Dwarka that the city would be reclaimed by the sea. The discovery of a seal engraved with a three-headed animal at the Dwarka site corroborates a reference made in the Mahabharata that such a seal was given to the city. Seven nearby islands described in the Mahabharata have also been discovered.

  1. Since archeological research shows that the city was submerged around 1,600 BC, this would date the Mahabharata at least before 1,600 BC. Again this is a minimum time.

  1. Pottery found at the site, inscribed with the script of the Indus valley civilisation, has been established by thermo-luminescene tests to be about 3,530 years old.

  1. The Mahabharata was written toward the end of the classical Vedic period. If we accept Winternitz’s estimates a minimum of 1,500 years lapsed from the beginning of the Vedic period to the Mahabharata, then since Dwarka was submerged by 1,600, this would set the date of the Rig Veda back to before 3,100 BC. This again marks the minimum date of the Rig Veda, and should not be construed as a fixed date.

  1. The body of literature produced by Greece and Rome from Homer to Proclus spans roughly 1,300 years. The Vedic tradition produced an even larger body of literature from the beginning of the Rig Veda to the end of the classical period; so it would probably require at least 1,300 years for the Vedic tradition to generate a larger amount of literature. If we take 1,600 BC as the minimum date of the Mahabharata, this would put the beginning of the Vedic tradition sometime before 2,900 BC. If we take Wintenitz’s estimate of at least 1,900 years, this would put the beginning of the Rig Veda before 3,500 BC.

  2. Frawley and Rajaram, as well as many others, now put the date of the Mahabharata war at about 3,000 BC (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi also gives this date in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita). If we add 1,900 years incubation time as Winternitz estimates, this would put the dates of the Rig Veda back before 4,900 BC.



Story Of Vedic Civilisation


How Ancient Is The Vedic Tradition

Dr Kenneth Chandler

Origins Of Vedic Civilisation

Summary : Euro-centrism and Objective Science

For years, theories of the origins of the Indo-European people were based on small bits of evidence that were used to make sweeping generalisations. The Euro-centric perspective so heavily biased the discussion that it became necessary for scientists of the later twentieth century to re-examine and re-balance the perspectives in order to remove long-standing misconceptions formed by two centuries of speculative mythmaking. When these misconceptions are eliminated by objective science, no evidence remains that the Veda tradition came to India from outside.

Now we come to our second main question, How long ago was the Veda first cognised ?

When did the Veda first come to be known in the civilisation of India ?

How far back in time does the Vedic tradition go ?

How Ancient is the Vedic Tradition ?

New Light on the Cradle of Civilization

A second myth that dies hard is that Vedic civilisation came into existence as recently as 1000 to 1200 BC. Many scholars today have come to think that these dates are ridiculously recent and that the Vedic tradition, meaning the tradition of reciting the Rig Veda and the Vedic literature, is far more ancient. Scholars of the nineteenth century, the highly venerated Max Muller for one, give dates as recently as 1,000 to 1,200 BC. These dates, like the Aryan invasion theory, are products of a Euro-centric bias. They were rooted in unsustainable religious, cultural, and ethnic assumptions that were not based on scientific evidence.

Max Muller, one of many Christian missionaries to India, was firmly committed to the Biblical account of creation. Muller accepted the date of creation given in the Bible at 4004 BC and the great flood at 1500 BC. This compelled him to date the Rig Veda much later in time than an impartial scientist would have done. Muller had to fit the entire Vedic tradition into a time-frame following the great flood, which Biblical scholars held took place in 1500 BC.

Muller wrote a letter to his wife, dated 1886, in which he said “The translation of the Veda will hereafter tell to a great extent on the fate of India and on the growth of millions of souls in that country. It is the root of their religion, and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last 3,000 years.” These are hardly the words of an unbiased scientist. No matter how great Muller’s scholarly reputation, we have to examine his reasons for setting the dates around 1000 to 12000 BC.

Muller recognised that the Vedic tradition had to exist before Buddha, who lived in about 500 BC and who reacted against the Vedic tradition. Muller and other Germanic scholars also noticed that the Agni Purana and other Vedic texts refer to Buddha, so they felt justified in thinking that the Vedic tradition was just a little more ancient than Buddhism, and they put the dates of the Vedic period roughly two-thirds of way between the great flood (the Biblical limit they accepted) and the time of Buddha.

* * * These dates were given by Max Muller. For a recent discussion of Muller’s projected dates, which were meant as a minimum of time, not an actual dating, see Maurice Winternitz, A History of Vedic Literature, Vol. 1, (New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1981), pp. 270-288, especially p.273.

Muller thus set the dates of the Vedic period at 1000 to 1200 BC. Muller reasoned that if Buddha rejected the Vedic tradition, the Rig Veda must have preceded him by at least several centuries, but it had to have started (in his opinion as a Bible scholar) after the great flood.

Even Muller, however, recognised that this was an estimate of a bare minimum of time that lapsed between the beginning of the Vedic tradition and the time of Buddha. However, it became commonplace for textbooks to give the dates of the Vedic tradition as 1,000 to 1200 BC, based on Muller’s minimum estimate. Soon these were known as the dates of the Rig Veda. This fixed Muller’s estimate of a bare minimum into an absolute date in the popular imagination. The mud of speculation had become sedimented into the brick of common belief.

Current evidence shows that the Veda did not began so recently in human history. The references to Buddha occur in very late additions and have no bearings on the far more ancient origins of the Vedic tradition.

Satellite Photographs and Geological Evidence :

Dates of the Saraswati River and the Rig Veda

More recent scholars, such as David Frawley, Dr. B.G. Siddharth, Dr. S.B. Roy, Professor Subhash Kak, Dr. N.R. Waradpande, and Bhagwan Singh have made a case for much more ancient dates of the Rig Veda. Also B.G. Tilak, P.C. Sengupta, Pargiter, Jagat Pati Joshi, Dikshit, K.N. Shastri, Sri Aurobindo, Hermann Jacobi, Dayananda Saraswati, among many others, have argued for its greater antiquity.

David Frawley and N.S. Rajaram, in Vedic “Aryans” and the Origins of Civilisation, put forward an interesting and compelling theory of the origins of Vedic civilisation. Drawing upon a large array of evidence from anthropology, satellite mapping, geology, historical linguistic, and literary study, they have helped discredit the old “Aryan invasion theory” to establish that the Rig Veda was of much greater antiquity than Muller had estimated.

One of the strongest bits evidence comes from satellite pictures of an ancient and dried riverbed that is now taken to be the former bed of the Saraswati river. This great river, described in the Rig Veda as a “mighty river flowing from the mountains to the sea,” has long since disappeared from the maps of modern India, until satellite pictures revealed the bed of an ancient river running from the Himalayas to the western gulf of the Indian ocean, roughly paralleling the course of the Indus, but lying to the east of the Indus.

* * * There is strong evidence that Max Muller mistakenly judged the antiquity of the Indian literature by thousands of years or more. His arbitrary and most unconvincing placement of Alexander’s visit to India to coincide with Chandragupta Maurya is widely disputed today by many scholars. According to the evidence of the Purunas, Buddha lived approximately 1,800 BC, and Chandragupta/Tekshasila (Taxila) was about 1700 BC. The university at Nalanda probably flourished around 1,400 BC.

Satellite photos and geological field studies show that the Saraswati ceased to be a perennial river and flowed only seasonally, sometime before 3,000 BC. Also, since approximately 1900 BC the Saraswati riverbed has been completely dry. This, as we will see, is a key piece of the scientific evidence to establish dates of the Rig Veda. The Saraswati was fed by melt from Himalayan glaciers, after the receding of the last ice age, about 8,000 BC. As the melting glacial waters ceased to feed the river, it changed its course, became a seasonal river, perhaps went underground, and eventually dried up in its former riverbed. Some, like Subhash Kak, hold that the change in thecourse of the river was due to an earthquake.

This event left the many settlements along the banks of the Saraswati to their fate. As the river dried, without water the agricultural settlements and villages were no longer sustainable. After this time, the towns and cities were re-located to the Indus river valley nearby and still later, after the droughts and flooding that came to the Indus and Saraswati valleys around 1,900 BC, settlers migrated further east to the Ganges river plain.

The Rig Veda mentions the Indus river quite often, and it mentions the Saraswati no less than 60 times. Its reference to the Saraswati as a “mighty river flowing from the mountains to the sea” shows that the Rig Vedic tradition must have been in existence long before 3,000 BC when the Saraswati ceased to be a “mighty river” and became a seasonal trickle. Frawley and Rajaram drew the conclusion that the Rig Veda must have been composed long before 3,000 BC.

Rajaram writes that the “Saraswati described in the Rig Veda belongs to a date long before 3,000 BC.” He concludes that, “All this shows that the Rig Veda must have been in existence no later than 3,500 BC.” He thus places the beginning of the Vedic tradition “long before 3,000 BC” and its end before 2,000 BC. The Mahabharata, the great epic of classical Sanskrit, describes the Saraswati as a seasonal river. Since the Saraswati dried up by 1900 BC, the Mahabharata would have to be dated at least before 1,900 BC. Since it was still a seasonal river in 3,000, Rajaram and Frawley put the date of the Mahabharata in 3,000 BC.

Evidence from French SPOT satellite and the Indo-French field study have changed this conception of history. By showing that the Saraswati ceased to be a mighty river long before 3,000 BC, they showed that the Rig Vedic civilisation must have begun long before the Saraswati became a seasonal trickle sometime long before 3,000 BC. If the Rig Vedic tradition began before 3,500 BC, this would date it earlier the civilizations of Egypt, Harappa, or Mesopotamia.

The next in series….


Story Of Vedic Civilisation

How Ancient Is The Vedic Tradition

Dr Kenneth Chandler

Origins Of Vedic Civilisation

Causes of the Decline of the Indus-Saraswati Civilisation

Geological and archeological evidence, it turns out, give strong evidence that a long and devastating drought followed by devastating floods led to the abandonment of the settlements along the banks of the Indus and Saraswati rivers in western India, ending an urban civilisation that had flourished, archeologists now surmise, sometime between 2,600 BC and 1,900 BC. The Indus and Saraswati valley civilisation was vast and widespread, and covered over 250,000 square miles, from north central India in the east all the way to the eastern edge of Iran in the west. There is no evidence to suggest that this vast civilization was destroyed by Indo-European Aryan invaders, but rather, it is now virtually certain that its demise came as a result of widespread climatic changes that occurred in 1,900 BC.

Recent studies by Louis Flam of H. H. Lehman College of the City University of New York have shown that the course of the Indus river changed dramatically around 1,900 BC, probably flooding many settlements along the river and disrupting the Indus valley civilisation. Jim Schaffer of Case Western University has found impressive evidence that settlers of the Indus valley migrated at this time east to the plains of the river Ganges.

Mortimer Wheeler, the anthropologists who excavated Mohenjo-Daro in the in the 1920s , one of the most well-preserved cities of the Indus Valley civilisation, brought to the project an “outside invasion theory.” He found unburied skeletons in the most recent layers of the city which led him to think that he had evidence that the civilisation was overrun by invaders from outside. More reliable recent evidence has shown that the people of the Indus valley were not victims of invasion and massacre, but that their civilisation withered as a result of various climactic changes, including prolonged droughts and extensive flooding, and possibly also earthquakes that changed the courseof the rivers.

It was not outside invaders of India who brought an end to the Indus-Saraswati civilisation, but a series of climactic changes and natural disasters. The biases of European scholarship caused them to see invaders where there were none. They existed only in the imagination of European scholars.

Historical Linguistics and Migrations of Early Civilisation

The other issue that needs to be considered is language origins. Historical linguistics appears to detect patterns of language change which some think may imply patterns of migration of early peoples, and which may therefore provide a clue to the origins of Vedic civilisation.

The original theory proposed by the early historical linguistics who considered these issues was that Vedic Sanskrit conserved the original sound system of the “proto-Indo-European” language most closely, and that Iranian and European languages underwent a systematic sound shift, creating break-away or daughter languages spoken by the people who populated India and Europe. According to this theory, Vedic Sanskrit was put at near the trunk of the proto-Indo-European language tree, if not the trunk itself.

This theory has been challenged and hotly debated in recent years, most especially by computer linguists. Since the 1990s, it is now common for computer linguists to hold that Sanskrit is not so near the root of the Indo-European language tree, but a subsequent branch. A currently dominant theory is that the original Indo-European language stemmed from an Indo-European proto-language that has since been lost.

The first languages to break off from the proto-Indo-European root, according to the dominant contemporary linguistic theories, was Anatolian (the language of what is now central Turkey), followed by Celtic (a language found in nearby Thrace in northeastern Greece, and also Ireland suggesting that there was a commerce or colonisation between Ireland and early Thrace), then Greek, and then Armenian. According to these theories, the Indian and Iranian language groups are still later branches off the proto-Indo-European “root.”

The linguistic evidence appears to imply migrations of people from the Black Sea area into India, and yet there is no anthropological evidence to support either a migration into northern India, or an invasion. Evidence from skeletal remains, as we saw, as well as pottery and other artifacts, show no cultural replacement at any time in north Indian history. This makes it difficult to conclude that a people speaking a proto-Indo-European root language migrated to India from outside, resulting in a language shift to the daughter language of Sanskrit. The hard anthropological evidence just does not support such a view. How else, then, can we account for the apparently late evolution of Sanskrit from the proto-Indo-European root language ?

* * * Dr. Don Ringe and Dr. Ann Taylor, two linguists at the University of Pennsylvania, with the help of computer scientist Dr. Tandy Warnow, developed a computer algorithm to sift through the Indo-European languages and look for grammatical and phonetic similarities between them. Their work, published in 1996, has thrown up four possible family trees. “We have come up with a favorite,” says Dr. Warnow. The tree shows that the first breakaway language was Anatolian, an ancient group of languages once spoken in Turkey. Celtic was quick to follow, spawning Irish, Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. Armenian and Greek then developed from proto-Into-European. Strangely enough, one of the later branches to emerge, according to the runs of the computer programs, was Sanskrit.

It is interesting that the Celts settled in Thrace in northern Greece, just a short distance from Anatolia. Thrace was the birthplace of the Orphic mysteries which swept into Greece in the sixth century BC. Celtic is one of the earliest languages, along with Anatolian and Greek, to break off from the Indo European proto-language. The technique for self-knowledge described by Socrates were said to have come from Thrace. The Anatolians of central Turkey occupied the area near where the pre-Socratic tradition sprang up in the sixth century BC. This suggests that a technique was passed from India into the Celtic language.

Eminent computer linguists caution against drawing conclusions from computer-simulated language programs—which may reflect the assumptions of the programmers more than the branches of the linguistic tree. They caution that computer linguists tend to program in assumptions that reflect their own biases and expectations, and therefore the outcomes cannot be any more accurate than the assumptions. Computer linguistics does not necessarily mean unbiased, objective linguistics, but may, on the contrary, program in distinct biases of the linguists. If linguists start with a theory of an outside invasion, they will naturally bring those biases into their work, and it is not unthinkable that such biases have colored computer and historical linguistic theories.

It also needs to be pointed out that if a false assumption is programmed in, then anything at all can come out. Anything at all can be derived from a false assumption. If the assumption that Sanskrit is not the proto-Indo-European language root be false, then anything follows.

More on the Indo-European Proto-Language

* * * In 1990, Thomas V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, authors of the two volume The Indo-European Language and the Indo-Europeans, published an article in Scientific American, in which they state, “The landscape described by the reconstructed Indo-European proto-language is mountainous—as evidenced by the many words for high mountains, mountain lakes and rapid rivers flowing from mountain sources.” They note also that, “the [proto-Indo-European language] has words for animals that are alien to Europe, such as “leopard,” “snow leopard,” “lion,” “monkey” and “elephant.”” The authors suggest, on the basis of this and other linguistic evidence, that the homeland of the proto-Indo-Europeans was somewhere in the Caucasian mountains of western Asia near the Black Sea in around 4000 BC.

These same words could be used to make the case that the mountainous terrain, and more especially the elephant, monkey, and snow leopard are more commonly found in the region of northern India and the Himalayas. If the words for elephant, monkey, snow leopard, and mountains are in fact more abundant in the Indo-European proto language, this would most likely put the proto-Indo-European home somewhere in the Himalayan region of northern India, rather than in the Mountains to the east of the Black Sea. This would tend to support the hypothesis that the Indo-European proto language originated in the region of the Himalayas of northern India and Tibet, rather than in the area of central Turkey, where there are few monkeys and elephants.

At present, there is simply not enough evidence to discern the early patterns of migration and language shift that brought about the different language groups. We can say with relative certainty, however, that the Vedic people did not migrate into India from outside, so it is relatively unlikely that the Vedic language came from outside India. Thus the origins of Vedic Sanskrit remain obscure.

Many linguists stress that our “linguistic heritage, while it may tend to correspond with cultural continuity, does not imply genetic or biological descent. There is no more reason to suppose that we, as speakers of an Indo-European language, are descended biologically from the speakers of proto-Indo-European, than that the English speaking population of Nigeria is Anglo-Saxon.”17 It is necessary to be very careful in drawing conclusions about migration patterns and racial origins from linguistic evidence.

Rules of Language Transformation

A main tool of historical linguistics is the set of rules of sound and grammatical transformation governing the language change. One language evolves into another due to cultural or geographic separations of peoples due to migrations or other cultural displacements, such as conquest. Using the rules of historical linguistics, it appears to be possible to discern patterns of change and to determine which language has shifted into the other.

* * * Thomas V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov, “Family Tree of the Indo-European Languages,” Scientific American, March, 1990, argue that more “recent evidence now places the probable origin of the Indo-European language in western Asia.” They hypothesize that the proto-Indo-Europeans originated sometime around 4,000 BC in the region around the Black Sea.

* * * Radio-carbon dating of skeletal remains of the “Kennikut man” found in the late 1990s in the Columbia river gorge on the west coast of north America shows that caucasoidal men inhabited Oregon more than ten thousand years ago. Some words of the Klamath Indians of that region of Oregon are also of apparent Indo-European origin. The Klamath word which means “to blow” is “pniw” and may be linked to the Greek “pneu” which means breath or to blow, and ultimately to the Sanskrit “prana” which means breath. Linguists assume this was mere accident before the discovery of Caucasoid remains in the area. This would suggest that a migration into the Americas took place 10,000 years ago or more—and the immigrants brought with them an Indo-European language, putting the dates of the proto-European root at before 10,000 BC. The Rig Veda civilisation, like the American Indians, had a bow and arrow technology. Rig Vedic civilisation can be placed in time as more advanced than the Indian culture of 10,000 years ago.

One of the rules of historical linguistics is the softening of consonants over time. Thus, for example, the “v” in the Sanskrit “Veda,” meaning knowledge, is transformed into the softer English “w” in “wit,” “witten,” “wisdom” and the German “wissen,” which also means knowledge, and derives from the more ancient Sanskrit root. The Sanskrit “deva” is transformed into the softer Latin “deus,” Greek “theos,” Lithuanian “dewas,” Irish “dia,” and Old Prussian “diews.”

Using such transformation rules, linguists attempt to reconstruct which languages are earlier and which broke off later in the transmutation of language. Historical linguists assume that these rules are constant over time and that they apply to early transformations as well as later ones.

If we assume that the basic rules of language transformations are constant and do not mutate over time, then these conclusions follow. But could there have been sound shifts in the opposite direction at much earlier times in history ? Perhaps different laws applied at the time when Vedic Sanskrit changed from and to other languages.

Consider that there are also changes in the reverse direction. For example, the “g” in the Sanskrit “go,” (meaning cow) is transformed into the harder consonant “k,” to make the German word “kuh” for cow. The English word “cow,” pronounced with a hard “k,” is a harder, guttural form than the “g” in the Sanskrit “go.”

Also, in the case of the Vedic tradition, we have a people who were highly conscious of language and sound and the rules of sound transformation, even from the early Vedanga period. The Vedangas give elaborate theories of sound and its relation to meaning. Ancient Sanskrit grammar has its own rules for the transformation of consonants, internal rules for change, codified in ancient texts on phonology and grammar (Nirukta and Vakaran), both of which express elaborate theories of sound. Such self-reflective theories at an early date may have influenced the direction of language shift and may be anomalous to the rules applied in later linguistic theory.

Other hypotheses may explain why Vedic Sanskrit appears to not be the proto-Indo-European root language. One might propose, for example, that an early form of Sanskrit arose in northern India, and that some north Indian peoples migrated west to the Black Sea area, where their language mutated into Anatolian, Armenian, Celtic, and Greek. Then language change within Vedic Sanskrit, due to self-reflective grammatical theories, have mutated this earlier form of Sanskrit in a direction contrary to the typical rules of linguistic transformation.

Computer simulated models of language change may be simply wrong or misleading. In other words, the transformation “rules” of historical linguistics may not apply to changes as early as Vedic Sanskrit. Or they may reflect more the racial and cultural biases of the programmers. Rather than assume a migration from the Black Sea area into India, which is not supported by anthropological evidence, we must simply acknowledge that we do not have enough knowledge to discern the early patterns of migration of the people who wrote the Vedic literature.

The simplest hypothesis to account for the data may be that Vedic Sanskrit is itself is the mother tongue of the proto-Indo-European peoples.

The next in series….  


Story Of Vedic Civilisation

How Ancient Is The Vedic Tradition

Dr Kenneth Chandler

Origins Of Vedic Civilisation

To many European scholars of the nineteenth century (characterised more by their Euro-centrism than by scientific attitudes towards peoples of other cultures), the idea that the family of European languages family could have originated in India was unthinkable. It was just not culturally acceptable to think that the roots of European language and culture could be traced to darker-skinned peoples indigenous to India. So European thinkers began to speculate about a pre-historic “proto-Indo-European” race who had migrated from somewhere in Western Asia, perhaps around the Black Sea, Eastern Europe, or Russia, to settle in India and in Europe. This, as we will see, was a purely racial and cultural bias, with no basis in archeological fact.

Many European scholars immediately bought in to the “Indo-European hypothesis,” which was the stimulus to develop the discipline of historical linguistics. European scholars like Max Muller, Thomas Young, Joseph de Goubinau, Dwight Witney, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, A.L. Basham, George Cox, and John Fiske all adopted the theory of Indo-European origins. They commonly proposed that a people speaking “proto-Indo-European” came from somewhere in central or Western Asia or southeastern Europe, invaded India from the northwest, overran the local culture, and settled in the north of India.

These Indo-Europeans were said to be “Aryans” in race and language, which meant primarily fair-haired and light-skinned people. By the twentieth century they were conceived, mainly by German scholars, as a blue-eyed, blond race that was the stock of the Germanic people—all nicely fitting the cultural-political-racial agendas of Western Europe—and Nazi Germany in particular.

In spite of the large number of scholars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century who believed the invasion theory, it turns out, as we see below, that there is almost no shred of evidence to support it. It is one of the great myths formed by European scholars to support their bias that outside invaders created early Indian civilisation. Anthropologist today find all evidence points to an origin of the Vedic tradition that is indigenous to northern India.

Scientific Archeology : The End of the Invasion Theory

In the 1990s, a new wave of scientific evidence, coming partly from satellite photos, geological study, archeological digs, and other anthropological finds began to seriously discredit the old myth. Once the rubble of false assumptions was cleared away, a far more simple scientific picture of the origins of ancient north Indian civilization began to emerge.

* * * Professor Colin Renfrew, professor of archeology at Cambridge University, in his Archeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, (1988) gives evidence for Indo-Europeans in India as early as 6,000 BC. He comments : As far as I can see there is nothing in the Hymns of the Rigveda which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking population were intrusive to the area : this comes rather from a historical assumption about the ‘coming’ of the Indo-Europeans.

* * * Professor Schaffer at Case Western University writes in “Migration, Philology and South Asian Archaeology” that there was an indigenous development of civilization in India going back to at least 6000 BC. He proposes that the Harappan or Indus Valley urban culture (2600-1900 BC) centered around the Saraswati river described in the Rig Veda and states that the Indus Valley culture came to an end, not because of outside invaders, but due to environmental changes, most important of which was the drying up of the Saraswati river.

Schaffer holds that the movement of populations away from the Saraswati to the Ganges after the Saraswati dried up in about 1900 BC, is reflected in the change from the Saraswati-based literature of the Rig Veda to the Ganges-based literature of the Itihasa and Puranic texts. He also states that the Aryan invasion theory reflects a colonial and Euro-centric perspective that is quite out of date. He concludes : We reject most strongly the simplistic historical interpretations… that continue to be imposed on south Asian culture history…Surely, as south Asian studies approach the twenty-first century, it is time to describe emerging data objectively rather than perpetuate interpretations without regard to the data archaeologists have worked so hard to reveal.

Anthropologist Brian Hemphill of Vanderbilt University has been studying the human remains of the northern Indian subcontinent for years. He states categorically that his analysis shows no indication of population replacement or large-scale migration.

Archaeologist Mark Kenoyer, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and co-director of the Harappa Archeological Research project, holds that the invasion theory is completely unsupported by archeological, linguistic, or literary evidence. He writes in an article on the Indus valley civilisation : Colin Renfrew, Professor of Archeology at Cambridge University, in his famous work, Archeology and Language : The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1988) Renfrew also sees evidence that the Indo-Europeans were in Greece as early as 6,000 BC. If previous scholars were wrong about the origin of the Indus people, they also missed the boat when it came to explaining their downfall, which they attributed to an invasion by Indo-Aryan speaking Vedic tribes from the northwest. Archeological evidence simply does not support the thesis of an outside invasion.

Kenoyer argues, “it’s likely that the rivers dried up and shifted their courses, altering trade routes and undermining the economy.” Kenoyer holds that the Indus valley script can be traced to at least 3,300 BC—making it as old or older than the oldest Sumerian written records.

Archaeologist Kenneth Kennedy writes that no Aryan skeletons have been found in the Indus valley that differ from the skeletons of indigenous ethnic groups. All prehistoric human remains recovered from the Indian subcontinent are phenotypically identifiable as south Asians. Furthermore their biological continuity with living peoples of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the border regions is well established across time and space.

Scientific archeology, it is now safe to say, no longer gives the invasion theory a grain of credibility. It has lost its supporters among serious scientists. Also, as professor Renfrew argues, there is no internal evidence from the ancient Vedic literature that Vedic civilisation originated outside India. The verses of the Rig Veda, the most ancient songs of Vedic tradition, detail many aspects of daily life of the people. There is no hint in this vast literature of a migration or of a history that lies in a homeland beyond the mountains of northern India. All evidence from archeology, anthropology, and Vedic literature indicate that Vedic civilisation was indigenous to northern India. Geological data now explains the demise of the Indus and Saraswati valley civilisations in terms of climactic change, bringing an end to the outside invasion theory.

The next in series….  

Story Of Vedic Civilisation

How Ancient Is The Vedic Tradition

Dr Kenneth Chandler

Origins Of Vedic Civilisation

How did it begin ? Was it the creation of a people who invaded India from outside, as many European scholars believed for centuries ? Or did it arise among an indigenous people of northern India ?

According to the Vedic tradition, the Veda is eternal. It exists within the eternal fabric of consciousness itself. As such it is uncreated. But even so, we can ask, when was the Veda first cognised ? And when did the tradition of reciting the Veda begin ? Many myths about the Veda and Vedic tradition have formed that must be dispelled before we can get an accurate picture of its origins.

One myth is that a race of light-skinned Aryan peoples invaded India from outside, pushing the dark-skinned natives, called Dravidians, into the south. According to this theory, the lighter-skinned race invaded India in an incursion that took place, some scholars project, around 1,500 BC. This myth persisted long after an overwhelming body of scientific evidence, and a consensus of archeologists, showed that it is completely untenable. It must be discredited before we can get an accurate picture of the character of Vedic Civilisation.

As we will see, the Veda was first “cognized,” not by invading races from outside India, but by a people who had lived continuously in India for thousands of years. Also, the dates commonly ascribed to the origin of the Vedic tradition are probably off by many thousands of years. Archeologists at Harvard, Oxford, and other top universities in the US and Europe are now widely agreed that there was no invasion of India from outside that displaced the peoples of the Saraswati and Indus river valleys. This civilisation arose within northern India and there is evidence that Vedic civilization was either a precursor to the Indus-Saraswati civilisation or an early contributor to its cultural and spiritual heritage. Vedic civilisation arose in India many millennia before the speculative mythologies of the past suggest.

Origins of the Indo-European Hypothesis

Linguistic similarities between Indian and European languages were recognised by the earliest European scholars. In the late eighteenth century, it was observed that Sanskrit, Iranian, and most European languages share many common words and grammatical structures. Early linguists classified Vedic Sanskrit and the majority of European tongues in the same “family of Indo-European languages.”

Sir William Jones was the first to show that there are many common cognate words shared by Sanskrit and European languages. Speaking to the Asiatic Society in Calcutta on February 2, 1786, Jones made a statement which was soon to become quite famous :

the Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philosopher could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.

A quick glance at some of the common cognate words of English and Sanskrit shows definite family resemblances that Jones spoke about :

Common Cognate Words             English          and          Sanskrit

                                                     advocate,                             adhivaktr

                                                         agri,                                    ajira

                                                         bind,                                  bandhi

                                                        bright,                                bharajat

                                                        brother,                                bhatr

                                                        candle,                               chandra

                                                        cardio,                                   hrd

                                                         come,                                  gam

                                                         deity,                                  devata

                                                         eight,                                   ashta

                                                         end,                                     anta

                                                         genus,                                  janus

                                                         gnosis,                                 gnana

                                                          idea,                                    vidya

                                                         identity,                                idamta

                                                         immortal,                               amrta

                                                         kalon,                                  kalyana

                                                         mega,                                   maha

                                                          man,                                    manu

                                                          mind,                                   manas

                                                         mortal,                                   mrta

                                                         mother,                                  matr

                                                         same,                                    sama

                                                         three,                                      tri

                                                          vivi,                                        jiva

                                                         voice,                                     vaca

                                                         wind,                                      vata

                                                         wit video,                                 vid

                                                          yoke,                                     yoga

                                                          young,                                   yuvan

In nineteenth century, the German linguist Friedrich Schlegel suggested that the main body of European languages were derived from Sanskrit. Schlegel’s suggestion was widely rejected, mainly because European scholars did not like to think that their language and culture derived from India. But the early nineteenth century it was widely recognized that all European languages and the Indic languages belonged to a common “family,” distinct, for example, from Chinese, African, and American Indian language families and groups. All but a few of the European languages, such as Basque for example, belong to this distinct family of Indo-European languages. Thus, the idea that an Indo-European language was at the root of the family of the main body of European languages came into prominence.

The next in series…. 

Islam – Prehistory, Myths & Present (VI)

English: A picture of people performing (circu...
Muslims circumambulating the Kaaba.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tsabaism – Origin Of Abrahamic Religions

In his book Origines, Vol III & IV, Sir W. Drummond writes : “Tsabaism was the universal language of mankind when Abraham received his call, and their doctrines were probably extended all over the civilized nations of Earth.”

In all probability, Tsabaism is a corruption of the word Shaivism which is part of the Vedic religion. On page 439 of this book, Sir Drummond mentions some of gods of pre-Islamic Arabs, all of which were among the 360 idols that were consecrated in the Kaaba shrine before it was raided and destroyed by Muhammad and his followers.

Here are some of the Arab deities mentioned and their Sanskrit names :

Arabic                                   Sanskrit                                    English

Al-Dsaizan                             Shani                                          Saturn

Al-Ozi or Ozza                       Oorja                                           Divine Energy

Al-Sharak                              Shukra                                         Venus

Auds                                      Uddhav                                          –

Bag                                        Bhagwan                                     God

Bajar                                      Vajra                                             Indra’s Thunderbolt

Kabar                                    Kuber                                            God of Wealth

Dar                                        Indra                                               King of gods

Dua Shara                            Deveshwar                                    Lord of the gods

Habal                                     Bahubali                                        Lord of Strength

Madan                                   Madan                                            God of Love

Manaph                                 Manu                                               First Man

Manat                                    Somnath                                         Lord Shiva

Obodes                                 Bhoodev                                         Earth

Razeah                                 Rajesh                                             King of kings

Saad                                    Siddhi                                               God of Luck

Sair                                      Shree                                               Goddess of wealth

Sakiah                                 Shakrah                                           Indra

Sawara                                Shiva-Eshwar                                 God Shiva

Yauk                                     Yaksha                                            Divine being

Wad                                     Budh                                                Mercury


Sangey Aswad And Pre-Islamic Gods

An Alternate View

From its appearance, The Black Stone seems to be Shiva’s linga emblem. The term is a corrupted form of the Sanskrit word Sanghey Ashweta, meaning : non-white stone. It still survives in Kaaba as a primary object of veneration. 

There have been concerted attempts by Saud rulers to eliminate any evidence that would impair the authority of Islam, and hence their own as keepers of the holiest two shrines at Mecca and Medina. But for that, if archaeological excavations could be undertaken, all other idols too could be found buried in Kaaba precincts or trampled underfoot in labyrinthine subterranean corridors.

The Black Stone is badly mutilated; its carved base has disappeared, and the stone itself is broken at seven places. Its parts are now held together by a silver band studded with silver nails. It lies half buried in the South East portion of the Kaaba Wall. The term Kaaba itself appears to be a corruption of the Sanskrit word Gabha ( Garbha + Griha ), which means “sanctum sanctorum.”

In addition, in inscriptions from Hajja and its neighborhood was found a votive vessel dedicated by members of two tribes called Rama and Somia. Rama and Soma are Vedic deities… Rama is of the Solar dynasty and Soma of the Lunar one.

The moon god was called by various names in pre-Islamic times; one of them was Allah. Allah had 3 children : Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Manat. Al-Lat and Al-Uzza were both feminine deities. Alla is also another name for the Hindu goddess Durga. It is likely that the goddess Al-Lat was Alla ( Durga ) and Al-Uzza was Oorja ( energy or life force, also known as Shakti ).

Manat may have been none other than Somnath, which is another name for Lord Shiva. One significant point to note is that Soma, in Sanskrit, means Moon and Nath means Lord. Thus the Kaaba itself seems to have been dedicated to the Moon God Somnath, alias Shiva, and the word Somnath was corrupted to Manat.

As observed, the famous Black Stone could have been none other than the Shiva linga of Makkeshwar, alias Mecca. Lord Shiva is always shown with a crescent Moon on his head and every Shiva temple is supposed to have a sacred water spring, representing the Ganges. The Crescent Moon pinnacle of the Kaaba and the Zamzam spring ( actually Zamza, from Ganga ) seem testimonies to the Vedic connections of Kaaba.

Sahih Bukhari Vol 2, Book 26, No 689

Narrated by Abu Huraira :

In the year prior to the last Hajj of the Prophet,

when Allah’s Apostle made Abu Bakr the leader of the pilgrims,

the latter ( Abu Bakr ) sent me in the company of a group of people

to make a public announcement –

No pagan is allowed to perform Hajj after this year;

and no naked person is allowed to perform Tawaf of the Kaaba.’

Can you imagine naked pagans and Muslims performing Tawaf ?

Among Hindus though, Naga ascetics do not cover their bodies

with anything except ash !

Tradition proclaims that Mohammed’s grandfather dug the well of Zamzam and dedicated it to Asaf and Neila. He almost sacrificed his son, Mohammad’s father, to the two stone idols … a very distinct pagan practice !

English: "Mecca, ca. 1910. Kaaba" gl...

Indian History And Its Historians

Part VI :  The Pernicious Effects Of A False History

An Indian stamp honoring Pāṇini.
An Indian stamp honoring Pāṇini.

One of the criticisms leveled at the new breed of Indian historians who wish to uncover the authentic history of India, after the morass of inconsistencies into which it has sunk, is that they are motivated by political considerations and that they are ‘nationalistic’. 

While one fails to see any violation of ethics in being a nationalist, the charges seem lame if perplexing to us Indians. Political motivations have always dominated the pursuit of Indological studies during the colonial era right from the outset, since the time Sir William Jones discovered the Sanskrit language. One such political motivation was the need for the Europeans to define their identity outside the burdensome framework of Semitic traditions, which dominated their religious life until then. The notion that the North European Viking owed much of his civilisation to the Mediterranean Semite was not palatable to most of the elite in European countries. The length and intensity of that shame is unimaginable today but was as real as their current deep reluctance to accept the historical facts that locate the Proto-Indo-European in India ! 

The discovery of Sanskrit was a matter of immense “political” relief : that, finally, the languages of Europe did not after all derive from Hebrew but from an ancestor language which was initially assumed to be Sanskrit. In the immediate aftermath of the discovery of Sanskrit by Sir William Jones, there was a great gush of admiration and worship of the sublime nature of Sanskrit texts such as Kalidasa’s Sakuntala. But that appreciation was political, not in truth, barring a few souls, of whom Voltaire was amongst the foremost. 

The ideas of racial superiority were still dominant in 18th Century Europe despite the Renaissance and the much celebrated Age Of Enlightenment. And it showed, as the Europeans realised that the present day practitioners of Sanskrit were not blonde and blue-eyed, nor as mightily depraved or strong as they themselves were. The fact that they had conquered, robbed and tortured, their own cultural forebears would have been a horribly uncultured thing to do on part of the Europeans, and was hence equally shameful and unacceptable. 

The European Indologists therefore came upon an ingenious explanation, which led them to declare that the Sanskrit culture of the subcontinent was not native to the subcontinent but was impregnated by a small band of nomadic Viking like marauders – the Aryan invaders. These “specialist” scholars then proceeded to root and project themselves, within the short span of 200 British-rule years, as being the intellectual class of India. Of course, the Macaulian project would “educate” the natives and create sidekicks by thousands, and increase their tribe.

This hypothesis (because that is what it was) had of course no basis in fact, but it served the purpose and killed several birds with one stone. It denied India the autochthonous legacy of the dominant culture of the subcontinent, helped create a schism in the Indian body politic, implied that the native Indic was incapable of original thought and certainly not capable of producing a language like Sanskrit. It still fulfilled their obsessive need to escape from the Semitic umbrella and yet did not pin them down to the influence of a “subject” people. The thesis held the ground that their ancestors did not come from India but from a long lost Shangri-La, of whom there were no survivors; an exceptionally nice fit, to say the least, since the hypothesis could never be contradicted !

Thus was born the mythical Aryan, whose only qualification was that he should hail from a land that was anywhere but India, a nowhere, preferably from a region not very densely inhabited or conscious of their antiquity. It gave the excuse for the British to claim that they were indeed the later day version of that long-lost impregnating race, destined to lord it over lesser, more unfortunate people by reason of the fact that they were “Aryans.” One only has to refer to some these stalwarts such as Trautmann (1997) or Chakrabarti (1997), to feel the perversion.

In sum, Indic study during the British era has always been accompanied with a healthy dose of imperialist dogma and by the colonialist’s disdain for a people who, they felt, could be so easily vanquished in battle by a handful of Englishmen. These attitudes and presuppositions are deeply entrenched in the psyche of the Occidental, fortified as they are by text books which retain the caricaturised view of India and its native people. This is in addition to the normal human tendency to exhibit a degree of pride and the urge to devalue civilisations other than their own. 

This is a train of thought that needs to be explored further, but let us revert to our topic. It is not as if there was a total lack of scholarly impulse and intellectual curiosity among Indologists then, regardless of nationality and despite much pressure from European academics to toe the embedded line. But this stream of objective scholars died out pretty soon and became almost extinct in the nineteenth century, with a few exceptions amongst the French. European Indologists came to subscribe to the promoted thought, and fell into the habit of emphasising that Indic research by native scholars, who threw up alternate conclusions, were shallow and unsubstantial, or were derived from work done by the Greeks, as Sir William Jones had postulated. 

The fact is that British presence in India began with nibbles and encroachments long before the Battle of Plassey, in 1757 CE, but so overriding was the British concern for commerce and power that they remained insulated from subcontinental culture and its civilisational treasure for almost three hundred years, until the arrival of a relatively well educated scholar like Sir William Jones. He indeed noticed the similarities between Sanskrit and European languages. Prodosh Aich, after extensive research into primary sources, comes to the conclusion that the vaunted linguistic scholarship of Sir William was, to put it mildly, much exaggerated. 

The coming of the British and the discovery of Sanskrit by Sir William had a terminally fatal effect on the conduct of scientific studies in India. It cut off the Indic from his own native source of traditional learning and replaced it with the traditions of a land far away, with which he had no contact and did not relate to. One consequence was that literacy fell to 6% of the population at the turn of the 20th century. Education was tightly controlled by the government and all support to schools that did not teach English was summarily stopped, except in states that were ruled by a local Maharajah such as Travancore, Cochin, Baroda and Mysore. 

India was turned into a vast Gulag where no ideas, other than those of the British, were allowed to flower and propagate, and the Indian was effectively barred from traveling to foreign lands, except on a one way trip as indentured labor, lest they return with subversive notions of freedom and democracy which, as Churchill remarked on more than one occasion, were not applicable to subject populations of British colonies. So great was the travel restriction that the Indic internalised this consequence to be a native characteristic that presumed aversion to adventure and exploration. There was no fund allocation for research and no encouragement to savants, who had little opportunity to pursue further studies. The steady stream of Indic scholars and researchers, which lasted till about 1780 CE, finally dried up.

Most certainly, there were gains from change in the medium of instruction to English. Indic youngsters in later times were at an advantage when it came to gaining admission to graduate studies in North American universities, in part due to the fortuitous circumstance that a substantial part of the new world communicated in English language. Coupled with the investment in higher education made by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, it catapulted India into one of those leading countries that supplied educated hands to western economies. More lately, it has been a major player in the Information Technology for a while. 

But the negatives remain. The vast majority of the Indian population is not a participant in this new bounty, because they do not have access to expensive schools that are modelled to include costly environment and scarce scholars with teaching abilities in a foreign tongue. The most telling impact of the newly coined endeavor called philology, with its unwanted gush of attention engendered ever since the discovery of Sanskrit, was the manner in which the Indic was viewed by the rest of the world and, even more importantly, the internalisation of British and European view of India by the average literate English educated Indic. Till then, the Indic was widely respected throughout the world and his geographical origin was synonymous with scholarship. 

Today it is commonplace in India to deride somebody who expresses pride in his tradition, and his civilisation, as being jingoistic. The British went to extraordinary lengths to undermine the civilisational commonalities amongst the people of India by various means and diverse instruments. Anything that had a negative impact was played to the hilt. The knowledge and pride of India’s antiquity, history and cultural heritage, was systematically downvalued and new datelines had to conform to the belief that India did not contribute anything of significance to the civilised world, and that all she knew in the area of science and mathematics was learnt from the Greeks. The Indian was uniformly characterised as a shiftless, indolent individual with very few redeeming qualities. 

So great was the change and so lasting its effect that today vast numbers of Indian youth have almost the same opinion of India and Indic traditions that the colonial overlords had, and propagated, in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. There has been a massive change in the psyche of the Indic, much of it for the worse, a fact that was brought out in vivid portrayals by V S Naipaul, when he coined the phrase ‘the wounded civilisation’ in his reference to the Indian subcontinent. Examples of the internalisation of the European views of India abound today. Even eminent Indian historians like RC Majumdar have expressed some of these views in his works, without substantiating how they have been arrived at.

… to be continued

English: This is one of 12 miniatures from a m...
One of 12 miniatures from a manuscript of Hindu rituals and devotional tracts. The manuscript is written in the Sanskrit language, in Sarada script. It has 74 pages and was made in Kashmir during the 18th century.

Read more of Kosla Vepa uploads 

Indian History And Its Historians

Portrait of Srimushnam Vyakarna Subbaravachary...
Portrait of Srimushnam Vyakarna Subbaravacharya (+1837) a reknown sanskrit scholar

Part V :  British Colonial Indology (1780 CE – 2000 CE)

In reality this field of study was dominated by German scholars. Interest in Indology only took concrete direction and shape after the British came to India, with the discovery of Sanskrit by Sir William Jones in the 1770’s. Other names for Indology are Indic studies or Indian studies or South Asian studies. Almost from the beginning, the Puranas attracted the attention of European scholars. But instead of trying to understand the Puranas, and the context in which they were developed, the Occidental went about casting doubts on the authenticity of the texts and, in fact, altering the chronology which could be found in a particular Purana. 

The extraordinary level of interest by German scholars in Indic matters is a very interesting narrative in its own right and we need to reflect upon its highlights. The German speaking people experienced a vast increase in intellectual activity at about the same time that Britain colonised India. We do not understand the specific factors that came into play during this time, other than to remark on the tremendous intellectual ferment that was running concurrently during the French revolution and the keen interest that Napoleon showed in matters scientific, including the contributions of the orient. 

Clearly the remarks that Sir William made about Sanskrit as well as the high level of interest in Sanskrit language that he triggered, contributed to the overall sense of excitement. But why was it Germany and not Britain, the center of research on the Oriental contributions. The answer lies in the intense search for nationhood that was under way in Germany during that period. When Sanskrit was discovered, and it dawned on the Germans that the antiquity of Sanskrit was very great, and that Sanskrit and German were somehow related, the Germans suddenly had an answer to the question of their own ethnic and linguistic origins.

Sir Henry Maine (1822 – 1888), an influential Anglo-Indian scholar and former Vice Chancellor of Calcutta university, who was also on the Viceroys council, pronounced a view that many Englishman shared about the unification of Germany.

A Nation Has Been Born Out Of Sanskrit

From the beginning, the great interest that Germany showed in Sanskrit had more to do with their own obsessions and questions regarding their ethnic and linguistic origins. It had very little or at least far less to do with the origin of the ancient Indic. And yet, that does not stop the proponents of AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) in India, whose knowledge of European history appears to be rudimentary at best, from asserting that AIT is an obsession of nationalistic Hindus. Such is the fate and perversion of history that conquered nations are expected to suffer !

Different aspects of this fascinating chapter – postulation of an Aryan race and its corollaries, Indo European and Indo German people – are described by various authors … Trautmann, Rajaram, Arvidsson, and very recently by Prodosh Aich. The interesting but curious aspect of this phenomena is that while the concept of Aryan race has been well nigh discarded by most of the modern generation in the Occident, it lingers on in our narrative of Indian History, a relic of the heyday of Europe’s dominance on the world scene. In those heady times as colonial powers, they promoted racist theories eulogising their occupation of distant lands, and over strange people, as part of their heritage as an Aryan people. Kipling’s phraseology, “white man’s burden.” is at once succinct of their superiority in psyche and of the racist outlook in behaviour and strategy formulation. 

In contrast to the Germans and the French, whose interest was catalysed by the ubiquitous presence of Indic civilisation in South East Asia, the British had aparticular reluctance to study the nature and extent of the Indic civilisation. First and foremost, amongst their reasons for such neglect, was the aversion to admit that a subject people had any worthwhile civilisation to speak of, let alone one that was of far greater antiquity than their own.

Britain was the last of the three major powers in Europe to have a chair in Sanskrit; it was almost 50 years after the death of Sir William that England got around to establishing a chair at Oxford, the famous Boden chair.

 *  *  *

Rajagriha or Rajagrha (Sanskrit)

The ancient capital of Magadha, famous for its conversion to Buddhism in the days of the Buddhist kings. It was the royal residence from Bimbisara-raja to Asoka, and the seat of the first Synod or Buddhist Council held 510 BC.The famous Saptaparna cave, in which the Buddha’s select circle of arhats were initiated, was in this famous city. 


is the current name of the city and a notified area in Nalanda district in the Indian state of Bihar. The city of Rajgir (ancient Rajagriha or Rājagha; Pali: Rājagaha) was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Maurya Empire. Its date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have been found in the city. The epic Mahabharata calls it Girivraja and recounts the story of its king, Jarasandha, and his battle with the Pandava brothers and their ally, Krishna.

Rajgir is also mentioned in Buddhist and Jain scriptures, which give a series of place-names but without a geographical context. The attempt to locate these places is based largely on references to them in the works of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, particularly Faxian and Xuanzang. It is on the basis of Xuanzang’s records in particular that the site is divided into Old and New Rajgir. The former lies within a valley and is surrounded by low-lying hills. It is defined by an earthen embankment (the Inner Fortification), with which is associated the Outer Fortification, a complex of cyclopean walls that runs (with large breaks) along the crest of the hills.

New Rajgir is defined by another, larger embankment outside the northern entrance of the valley, and is next to the modern town.

 … to be continued

English: Sanskrit manuscript using the Ranjana...
Sanskrit manuscript using the Ranjana script, with an illustration of the Buddha sitting below the Bodhi Tree, day and night. Manuscript either from India or Nepal, date unknown.

Read more of Kosla Vepa uploads

Journal : Alternate History

Concluding Part of the series of articles on Indo-European Homeland studies…

Archaic Dialectology

The second significant aspect of the study of the proto-language, on the basis of which an Indian homeland was rejected by the linguists, was that Sanskrit, in some respects, represents a phonetically highly evolved form of the original Proto-Indo-European : thus, to quote the most common factor cited, Sanskrit is a “Satem” language and in fact, alongwith Avestan, the most highly palatalised of the Satem languages

The original Proto-Indo-European language, it is cited, was a “Kentum” language and the Satem branches evolved by a process of palatalization of original velars (k, g) into palatals (c, j) and into sibilants (s, S).  The Kentum branches thus represent an older form of Indo-European, and all the Kentum branches are found only in Europe – or so it was thought until the discovery of Tokharian in Chinese Turkestan. But this discovery was quickly sought to be absorbed into the western homeland theory by postulating an early migration of the Tokharians from the west into the east.

However, the phenomenon of palatalization, as also various other phonetic evolutions from the Indo-European original, are now accepted as innovations which took place in the heartland of the Proto-Indo-European homeland after the migrations of early branches which retained the original features.

As Winn puts it: “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.” Therefore, the fact that Sanskrit represents a phonetically evolved form of the Proto-Indo-European language, far from being a negative factor in respect of the idea of an Indian homeland, is a positive one.

In fact, there are three factors, in respect of archaisms, which add up to make a strong case for an Indian homeland :

  • 1. Various evolved phonetic features in Sanskrit, as we have seen, particularly in the matter of palatalization of original velars, definitely point towards India as the original homeland.

2. At the same time, in respect of vocabulary, Sanskrit is the most archaic or representative language in the entire Indo-European family.  As Griffith puts it in the preface to his translation of the Rig Veda, “we see the roots and shoots of the languages of Greek and Latin, of Kelt, Teuton and Slavonian… the science of comparative philology could hardly have existed without the study of Sanskrit…”

The fact that Sanskrit has retained the largest number of Proto-Indo-European words, even when its phonetic and grammatical features continued to evolve, is strong evidence of an Indian homeland : the language of a migrating group may retain many of its original phonetic or grammatical features, even when these features are lost or evolved away in the language still spoken in the original area, but it is likely to lose or replace a substantial part of its original vocabulary (though it may retain many tell-a-tale archaic words) as compared to the language still spoken back home.

Warren Cowgill, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, points out that this was the case with most of the ancient Indo-European languages: “In prehistoric times, most branches of Indo-European were carried into territories presumably or certainly occupied by speakers of non-Indo-European languages… it is reasonable to suppose that these languages had some effect on the speech of the newcomers.  For the lexicon, this is indeed demonstrable in Hittite and Greek, at least.  It is much less clear, however, that these non-Indo-European languages affected significantly the sounds and grammar of the Indo-European languages that replaced them.”

The same was the case with the modern languages : “When Indo-European languages have been carried within historical times into areas occupied by speakers of other languages, they have generally taken over a number of loan-words… however, there has been very little effect on sounds and grammar.”

  • 3. Finally, and most significantly, we have the fact that within India itself certain isolated languages have retained archaisms already lost even in Vedic Sanskrit.  There is no way in which the presence of these languages, which definitely represent remnants of extinct branches of Indo-European other than Indo-Aryan or even the hypothetical “Indo-Iranian”, can be incorporated into any theory of migration of the Indo- Aryans from South Russia to India.

There are two such languages, one of which is now accepted by the linguists as a remnant of an extinct Kentum branch of Indo-European languages, but in respect of the other, detailed research is necessary from a point of view hitherto unsuspected :

a. The BangANI language, spoken in Garhwal region of the western Himalayas was brought into dramatic highlight by Clans Peter Zoller, a German linguist, in 1987 when he announced the discovery of the remnants of an ancient Kentum language in the older layers of this language.

Zoller pointed out that BangANI contained three historical layers : “The youngest and most extensive layer is where BangANI shares many similarities with the Indo-Aryan languages of Himachal Pradesh and Garhwal.  The second is an older layer of Sanskrit words where one can observe a strikingly large number of words that belongs to the oldest layer of Sanskrit, the Sanskrit of the Vedas.  The third and the oldest layer in BangANI is formed by words that have no connection with Sanskrit but with the Kentum branch of Indo-European languages.”

By 1989, Zoller presented a full-fledged case, which created a furore in linguistic circles.  An immediate reaction to it was a joint project to examine Zoller’s claims, led by an Indian linguist Suhnu Ram Sharma and a Dutch linguist George van Driem.  According to these scholars, “Zoller’s BangANI findings not only had far-reaching implications for our understanding of the prehistoric migrations of ancient Indo-Europeans, they also appeared to violate much of what is received knowledge in historical linguistics.” Hence : “In 1994, we conducted fieldwork in order to verify these remarkable findings.  The results of our investigation are presented here.  On the basis of these results, it is our contention that no Kentum Indo-European remnants exist in the BangANI language.”

Not only did these linguists reject Zoller’s findings, but they also leveled serious allegations regarding Zoller’s professional integrity : “In view of our findings, and in view of the manner in which Zoller presented his, the question which remains for the reader to resolve in his own mind is whether Zoller has fallen prey to the wishful etymologizing of transcriptional errors or whether he has deliberately perpetrated a hoax upon the academic community.  In other words, was the joke on Zoller, or was the joke on us ?”

The above is an example of the vicious reaction any serious scholarly study that supports the Indian homeland theory evokes among scholars inimical to the idea.

But the matter did not end there.  Zoller took up the challenge and issued a strong and detailed rejoinder to the allegations of van Driem and Sharma.  Even more significant was a detailed counter study by Anvita Abbi and Hans Hock which not only conclusively demolished their “refutation” of Zoller’s findings, and conclusively proved that BangANI does indeed contain the remnants of an extinct Kentum language, but also clearly showed that it was Suhnu Ram Sharma and George van Driem who had attempted to deliberately perpetrate a hoax on the academic community.

The long and short of it is that BangANI is now accepted by linguists all over the world as a language whose oldest layers contain remnants of an archaic Kentum language, a circumstance which is totally incongruous with any theory of Indo-Aryan immigrations into India.

b. The Sinhalese language of Sri Lanka is generally accepted as a regular, if long separated and isolated, member of the “Indo-Aryan” branch of Indo-European languages; and no linguist studying Sinhalese appears, so far, to have suggested any other status for the language.

However, apart from the fact that Sinhalese has been heavily influenced not only by Sanskrit and Pali, and by Dravidian and the near-extinct Vedda, the language contains many features which are not easily explainable on the basis of Indo-Aryan.

Wilhelm Geiger, in his study of Sinhalese, points out that the phonology of the language “is full of intricacies… We sometimes meet with a long vowel when we expect a short one and vice versa”, and further : “In morphology there are formations, chiefly in the verbal inflexion, which seem to be peculiar to Sinhalese and to have no parallels in other Indo-Aryan dialects… and I must frankly avow that I am unable to solve all the riddles arising out of the grammar of the Sinhalese language.”

However, not having any particular reason to suspect that Sinhalese could be anything but an “Indo-Aryan” language descended from Sanskrit, Geiger does not carry out any detailed research to ascertain whether or not Sinhalese is indeed in a class with the “other Indo-Aryan dialects”.  In fact, referring to an attempt by an earlier scholar, Gnana Prakasar, to connect the Sinhalese word eLi (light) with the Greek hElios (sun), Geiger rejects the suggestion as “the old practice of comparing two or more words of the most distant languages merely on the basis of similar sounds, without any consideration for chronology, phonological principles or the historical development of words and forms…”

M.W.S. de Silva, in his detailed study of Sinhalese, points out that “Indo-Aryan (or Indic) research began with an effort devoted primarily to classifying Indian languages and tracing their phonological antecedents historically back to Vedic and Classical Sanskrit… Early Sinhalese studies have followed the same tradition.” However, Sinhalese “presents a linguistic make-up which, for various reasons, distinguishes itself from the related languages in North India… there are features in Sinhalese which are not known in any other Indo-Aryan language, but these features, which make the story of Sinhalese all the more exciting, have not received much attention in the earlier studies.”

 He also points out : “Another area of uncertainty is the source of the small but high-frequency segment of the Sinhalese vocabulary, especially words for parts of human body and the like : oluva ‘head’, bella ‘neck’, kakula ‘leg’, kalava ‘thigh’, etc. which are neither Sanskritic nor Tamil in origin.  The native grammarians of the past have recognized that there are three categories of words – (a) loan-words, (b) historically derived words and (c) indigenous words… No serious enquiry has been made into these so-called indigenous words”.

 In his preface, de Silva notes that “there is a growing awareness of the significance of Sinhalese as a test case for prevailing linguistic theories; more than one linguist has commented on the oddities that Sinhalese presents and the fact… that Sinhalese is ‘unlike any language I have seen’.” He quotes Geiger : “It is extremely difficult, and perhaps impossible, to assign it a definite place among the modern Indo-Aryan dialects.”

But, it does not strike de Silva, any more than Geiger, that the reason for all this confusion among linguists could be their failure to recognize the possibility that Sinhalese is not an Indo-Aryan language at all but a descendant of another branch of Indo-European languages.

From historical point of view, “a vast body of material has been gathered together by way of lithic and other records to portray the continuous history of Sinhalese from as early as the third century BC.” in Sri Lanka, and “attempts have been made to trace the origins of the earliest Sinhalese people and their language either to the eastern parts of North India or to the western parts”.

But de Silva quotes Geiger as well as S. Paranavitana and agrees with their view that “the band of immigrants who gave their name Simhala to the composite people, their language and the island, seems to have come from north-western India… their original habitat was on the upper reaches of the Indus river… in what is now the borderland between Pakistan and Afghanistan”. He quotes Paranavitana’s summary of the evidence, and his conclusion : “All this evidence goes to establish that the original Sinhalese migrated to Gujarat from the lands of the Upper Indus, and were settled in LATa for some time before they colonised Ceylon.”

A thorough examination, with an open mind, of the vocabulary and grammar of Sinhalese, will establish that Sinhalese represents a remnant of an archaic branch of Indo-European languages.

The evidence of BangANI and Sinhalese (the one word watura itself) constitutes a strong case for an Indian homeland since it clashes sharply with any theory of Indo-Aryan migrations into India.

Basically, the confusion that we see in respect of Sinhalese studies is also found in the study of Indo-Aryan languages in general.  And the root of all this confusion is the general theory which maintains that :

a. The “Indo-Iranians” represented a branch of Indo-Europeans who separated from the other branches in distant regions and migrated to Central Asia, and shared a joint “Indo-Iranian” phase there, before separating and migrating into India and Iran respectively.

b. The “Indo-Aryans” represented that section of the “Indo-Iranians” who entered India and composed the Rigveda during the earliest period of their sojourn in the northwestern parts of India, before expanding into the rest of India and giving birth to the ancestral forms of the present-day Indo-Aryan languages.

The linguistic evidence, even apart from the archaic evidence of BangANI and Sinhalese, totally fails to fit in with this theory :

  • 1. Indo-Aryan” and Iranian do not constitute one branch, but at least two distinct branches :

Winn lists “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”. And he notes that these close links came about due to “a period of close contact between Indic and Iranian people (which) brought about linguistic convergence, thus making the two languages appear misleadingly similar”.

As Meillet had long ago pointed out : “It remains quite clear, however, that Indic and Iranian developed from different Indo-European dialects, whose period of common development was not long enough to effect total fusion.”

The evidence of comparative mythology also disproves the common Indo-Iranian hypothesis.  Rigvedic mythology is often the only connecting link between all other different Indo-European mythologies, while Avestan mythology appears to have no links with any other Indo-European mythology other than that of the Rig Veda itself.

The “period of common development” which brought about the “close links between… Sanskrit and Avestan” was of course the “period of close contact between Indic and Iranian people” in the Late Period of the Rig Veda, for which detailed evidence has already presented earlier on in this series.

  • 2. The Iranian language shares at least one isogloss with Greek and Armenian :

It fits in with our classification of these three branches as constituting the Anu confederation of the Early Rigvedic Period. This isogloss is not shared by Sanskrit, which disproves the hypothesis that Indo-Iranian constitute a single branch of the IE family : “In three Indo-European languages, whose grouping is significant – Greek, Armenian and Iranian – the shift from s to h occured, not as in Brythonic at a relatively recent date, but before the date of the oldest texts.  Moreover, in all three, the distribution pattern is exactly the same : h develops from initial *s before a vowel, from intervocalic *s and from some occurences of *s before and after sonants; *s remains before and after a stop.”

This shift, which is universal in the three branches, is not found in Sanskrit and a majority of the Indo-Aryan languages, although a similar shift took place “at a relatively recent date” in some modem Indo-Aryan dialects of northwest and west (Gujarati, etc.) and, significantly, in Sinhalese.

Another fact, a minor one, is that Greek, Armenian and Iranian share a common development, distinct from Sanskrit, as each have “those cases in which a morphological element ends with a dental consonant and the following element begins with a t”. All the three branches show ‘st’ while “Sanskrit regularly shows tt”.

  • 3. There is one isogloss which is found only in the three branches referred to above (Greek, Armenian and Iranian) as well as in Sanskrit, and in some modern Indo-Aryan dialects of the north and north-west including Hindi, but not in the majority of modern Indo-Aryan languages : “the prohibitive negation *mE is attested only in Indo-Iranian (mA), Greek (mE) and Armenian (mI)” and is totally absent elsewhere. And this isogloss exists in Greek, Armenian and Persian irrespective of the stage of their development, ancient or modern.

But there is a difference in this respect between the ancient stage of Sanskrit and a majority of its language offshoots in the modem stage of what the linguists classify as the “Indo-Aryan” branch (except for modem Hindi spoken in western India : mat, etc.). This could be because most of the Indo-Aryan languages lost this word; but it could also be because most of the modern Indo-Aryan languages are descendants of Indo-European dialects which never had this word, and were not directly part of the common culture developed by the PUrus (the Vedic Aryans) and the Anus (Iranians, Armenians, Greeks), then located respectively in the north and north-western parts of North India, after the departure of the Druhyus.  Their ancestral dialects were what we have called the “Inner Indo-European” dialects spoken in the interior of India.

  • 4. This, it is clearly demonstrated in the development of Indo-European l in “Indo-Iranian” : “all of Indo-Iranian tended to confuse r and l …. Every IE “l” becomes “r” in Iranian.  This same occurence is to be observed in the North-west of India and consequently in the Rig Veda, which is based on idioms of the Northwest.”

So, is this an “Indo-Iranian” phenomenon ?  Apparently not : “On the other hand, initial and intervocalic “l” was present in Indic dialects of other regions.  Numerous elements of these dialects were gradually introduced into the literary language, which became fixed in Classical Sanskrit.  This explains the appearance of “l” in more recent parts of the Rig Veda and its subsequent rise in frequency.”

Meillet correctly observes that this is an instance of concordance of Iranian with Indic idioms spoken in Indo-Aryan regions closest to Iranian areas. There is clear Iranian discordance with Indic idioms common in regions further to the East. The concept of an “Indo-Iranian” branch is based on “the close links between their classical forms – Sanskrit and Avestan respectively”, which is the result of a “period of common development”.  This period of common development took place in Indian North-west region before the Iranian people migrated further west and north, and separated from the Vedic people.

But this conversion of the original Indo-European “l” into “r” is a phenomenon pertaining to this period of common development, and it is not shared by the ancient “Indo-Aryan” dialects to the east of the Rigvedic region.  These dialects in the east, therefore, represent a continuity from pre-“Indo-Iranian” phase of Indo-European, which is incompatible with any theory of an Indo-Iranian phase in Central Asia and Afghanistan before the separation of the Indo-Aryans and Iranians and consequent migration of Indo-Aryans into India.

It is also incompatible with any theory of the origin of the “Indo-Aryan” languages from the Vedic language which forms part of this joint “Indo-Iranian” phase.  Therefore, while the word “Indo-Aryan” may be used in the sense of “Aryan or Indo-European languages historically native to India”, it cannot and should not be used in the sense in which it is generally used : that is. as languages descended from the Vedic Sanskrit language which, or whose proto-form, shared a joint “Indo-Iranian” phase with Proto-Iranian.

  • 5. The theory that the Indo-Aryan languages are descended from Vedic Sanskrit is not really corroborated by linguistic factors.  Well-known scholar, S.K. Chatterji, makes the following remarks about the Old, Middle and New phases of Indo-Aryan :

The Aryan came to India, assuredly not as a single, uniform or standardised speech, but rather as a group or groups of dialects… only one of these dialects or dialect-groups has mainly been represented in the language of the Vedas – other dialects… (might) have been ultimately transformed into one or the other of the various New Indo-Aryan languages and dialects.  The mutual relationship of these Old Indo-Aryan dialects, their individual traits and number as well as location, will perhaps never be settled… The true significance of the various Prakrits as preserved in literary and other records, their origin and interrelations, and their true connection with the modern languages, forms one of the most baffling problems of Indo-Aryan linguistics… and there has been admixture among the various dialects to an extent which has completely changed their original appearance, and which makes their affiliation to forms of Middle Indo-Aryan as in our records at times rather problematical.”

Thus S.K. Chatterji unwillingly admits, though within the framework of the invasion theory, that :

a.  There were many different dialects, of which the language of the Rig Veda was only one, and that the modern Indo-Aryan languages may well be descended from these other non-Vedic dialects.

b. The relations within each chronological group : Old, Middle or New, as well as between different chronological groups among Old Indo-Aryan ( Rigvedic and Classical Sanskrit, as well as the “other” dialects or dialect groups), Middle Indo-Aryan (Prakrits) and the present-day New Indo-Aryan languages are “baffling” and “problematical” and “will perhaps never be settled”.

The problem will certainly “never be settled” if examined from the viewpoint of an Aryan invasion of India which treats the Indo-Aryan languages as descended from the languages of people who migrated into India from the north-west after an “Indo-Iranian” phase in Central Asia and an Indo-European phase in South Russia.

Our understanding harmonises however when begin to consider that Proto-Indo-European, and its earlier forms, developed in the interior of North India, in more central locations in present day states of Haryana, West Uttar Pradesh and North Rajasthan.  In ancient times, it developed as various dialects, many of which expanded into the northwest and Afghanistan.  The divisions of these dialects can be conveniently classified in Puranic terms, howsoever unpalatable it may sound to modern ears, with :

  • extreme north-west region of Indian sub-continent being home to ancestral forms of most of the European languages, as well as Hittite and Tocharian, being the Druhyu dialects;
  • the dialects further east, in north-west region of Indian sub-continent, were the ancestral forms of Iranian, as also Armenian and Greek, being the Anu dialects;
  • and the dialects in the northern parts of North India (Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and nearby areas) being the PUru dialects (including Vedic).  
  • In the interior were other dialects which represented other Puranic groups : Yadus, TurvaSas, IkSvAkus, etc.

With the emigration of the Druhyus, and later the Anus, and the Rigvedic language came to occupy a predominant position with spread of Vedic culture all over India. It then incorporated all the religious systems of the land in course of time and itself became the elite layer of an all-inclusive Pan-Indian religious system in the sub-continent. Thence began the phase of Indian history which the linguists and historians have interpreted as the “Indo-Aryan”.

The Rigvedic language heavily influenced all the other languages of India including those descended from remnants of Outer Indo-Aryan dialects (Druhyu, Anu), from Inner dialects (Yadu, TurvaSa, IkSvAku, etc), and also the Dravidian and Austric languages in the South and East.

In turn, the literary forms which developed from Rigvedic language – the Epics and Classical Sanskrit – were heavily influenced by all the other languages (Indo-European, Dravidian and Austric).  As Meillet, in a different context, puts it : “Numerous elements of these dialects were gradually introduced into the literary language which became fixed in Classical Sanskrit.”

And finally, as Chatterji correctly identifies : “there has been admixture among the various dialects to an extent which has completely changed their original appearance.”

To sum up the whole study we have of the Indo-European homeland :

  1. The evidence of archaeology completely disproves, or, at the very least, completely fails to prove, the non-Indian origin of the Indo-Europeans.
  1. The evidence of the oldest literary records ( the Rigveda and the Avesta ) proves the Indian homeland theory from three distinct angles :

a. The evidence of comparative mythology.

b. The evidence of internal chronology and geography of Rig Veda.

c. The direct evidence in the Rigveda about the emigration of identifiable Indo-European groups from India.

  1. The evidence of linguistics in some aspects is either ambiguous or neutral and, in some others, definitely confirms the evidence of the literary records that indicate India as original homeland of Proto Indo-Europeans.

It is of course natural that entrenched scholarship, both in India and in the West, will find it hard to swallow all this evidence and conclusions that inevitably and inexorably arise from it.  It would especially gall such scholars who have spent all their lives in ridiculing and rejecting the Indian homeland theory, establishing or corroborating the theory of Aryan invasion and mass migration into India.

The body of experts with western pedigree in their scholarship find it particularly hard to swallow if the convincing analyses and proof of an alternate thesis, contrary to theirs, is presented by an Indian – who they very conveniently declare and dismiss as “Indian chauvinist” or “Hindu fundamentalist”.

The following tongue-in-cheek excerpt from Antoine de Saint-ExupEry’s well known children’s storybook, The Little Prince, illustrates the situation :

“…the planet from which the little prince came is the asteroid known as B-612.  This asteroid has only once been seen through a telescope.  That was by a Turkish astronomer, in 1909.  On making his discovery, the astronomer had presented it to the International Astronomical Congress, in a great demonstration.  But he was in Turkish costume, and so nobody would believe what he said. …Fortunately, however, for the reputation of Asteroid B-612, a Turkish dictator made a law that his subjects, under pain of death, should change to European costume.  So in 1920 the astronomer gave his demonstration all over again, dressed with impressive style and elegance.  And this time everybody accepted his report.”

The attitude satirised by Saint-ExupEry in this imaginary incident is very much a part of the academe. Anyone, Indian or Western, who writes anything howsoever logical in support of the Indian homeland theory, represents the “fundamentalist” in his Turkish costume or the odd Westerner who deserves only skepticism, ridicule and summary dismissal for his misguided infatuation for the outlandish. Conversely, anyone Western or Indian, who writes anything howsoever incredible or ridiculous in opposition to the Indian homeland theory represents the “objective scholar” dressed “with impressive style and elegance” in European costume, who deserves a sympathetic hearing and due support of the scholar community.

But the case for an Indian homeland is so strong, and the case for a non-Indian homeland so weak, that despite the academic fiat to abandon the Indian homeland theory without serious examination, or with only perfunctory and determinedly skeptical examination, the academic world will untimately be compelled to accept the viability of India being the original homeland of the Indo-European family of languages.