The Myth of the Aryan Invasion

NatureSome people believe India’s earliest inhabitants were the Dravidians of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. According to the Aryan Invasion Theory promoted by the erstwhile British rulers of India, these Dravidians were driven away South by the mighty Aryans who migrated from Central Asia during the 2nd millennium BCE.

Several school students all over India still continue to learn about the Aryan Invasion Theory, but Michel Danino says, what they’re learning is not actually be true.

There is evidence that strongly suggests that the Aryan invasion never happened.

Danino, a French-born Indian historian, spoke about the myth of the Aryan invasion at Amrita’s Coimbatore campus in November.

Nature“The conquering Aryans are said to have subjugated indigenous Dravidians,” he said. “However, there is no evidence to support this 19th century theory which was propagated by Indologists like Max Muller. The theory was deliberately misused by colonial powers to divide the North and South, and upper and lower castes.”

During his lecture, Danino examined the validity of the controversial theory from different angles: literary and geographic, archeological and cultural, anthropological and genetic.

He cited several historical literary examples that don’t support the theory. “The Rig Veda is supposed to have been composed by the invading Aryans. But it contains no reference whatsoever to a distant homeland or to an invasion or migration into India. Most importantly, the battles with the Dasyus, described as dark beings, are clearly of a mythological character, similar to the battles in the Purānas between devas and asuras.”

Danino also quoted Swami Vivekananda who questioned the myth of the Aryan invasion. “There is not one word in our scriptures, not one to prove that the Aryans ever came from anywhere outside India … the whole of India is Aryan, nothing else,” Swamiji had said.

NatureGeographical details also challenge the theory. “The Rig Veda has numerous references to ocean, ships, sailing, storms and waves, all of which invaders from Central Asia would not have known about,” noted Danino.

The archeological verdict turns out to be a negative, as well. “Had the Aryans migrated into India, we would expect some evidence of different tools, weapons, objects of daily use, pottery style and art forms, but that’s not the case,” said Danino. After more than a century of archeological investigations, there is still no evidence showing the arrival of new people in India.

Due to mounting proof, archaeologists eventually dropped the Aryan Invasion Theory in favour of the concept of cultural continuity, between classical India and the Indus valley civilization.

During the past 10-15 years, several anthropological and genetic studies have emphasized a demographic continuity and a genomic unity in the Indian population. These experts, like archaeologists, also ruled out the arrival of new people. “It’s been concluded that all major components of the Indian populations have been settled here for some 40,000 years, at least,” said Danino.

“Despite such strong scientific evidence (and there is more in the fields of agriculture, archaeoastronomy, etc.), the Aryan invasion paradigm has become so entrenched in Western academia that it continues to be promoted even today,” quipped Danino.

“In fact, India’s school textbooks also perpetuate the theory even though conclusive evidence shows there was no Aryan invasion.”

Nature“The colonial paradigm remains effectively in place, and is used today by various groups to sustain the old divisions.”

Hard evidence and rational inquiry confirm that there are no signs of confrontation or man-made destruction in Harappan cities, and no sign of the arrival of a new population in the 2nd millennium BCE.

Danino reasons, based on these and other facts, that there is no ground for the survival of the divisive Aryan Invasion Theory today.

It’s time we rewrote our school textbooks as well.


November 30, 2011
Coimbatore Campus

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