Rakhigarhi and After
Shrikant G Talageri
The 5th of September 2019 was a momentous day for researchers in ancient Indian history: two very long-awaited international genetic reports on ancient India, with huge potential for generating heated controversial debate, were released on one and the same day. These reports were:
1. "An Ancient Harappan Genome Lacks Ancestry from Steppe Pastoralists or Iranian Farmers", Shinde et al.
2. "The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia", Narasimhan et al.
The extremely intriguing phenomenon of these two reports - both delayed for a long time under very suspicious circumstances (although the first report was kept a closely guarded secret while the second was unofficially published more than a year ago) - being released on the same day, as well as the fact that both the papers have four of the co-authors in common, and that statements and reactions to these two reports have led to conclusions diametrically opposed to each other, all indicate deep politics behind the whole process. The four common co-authors of both the papers, incidentally, are Vagheesh M. Narasimhan, David Reich, Vasant S. Shinde, and Niraj Rai.
The two papers, dealing with two different genetic issues, contain the following clear statements in support of the theory that Indo-European languages originated in the Steppes and were brought to India after 2000 BCE:
Narasimhan et al repeatedly refers to this "evidence […] for a Steppe origin for South Asia's Indo-European languages ~ 2000 BCE", and "evidence for the theory that these languages spread from the Steppe". This point is also reiterated in Shinde et al, which also tells us that "a natural route for Indo-European languages to have spread into South Asia is from Eastern Europe via Central Asia in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE, a chain of transmission that did occur as has been documented in detail with ancient DNA. The fact that the Steppe pastoralist ancestry in South Asia matches that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe (but not Western Europe) […] provides additional evidence for this theory, as it elegantly explains the shared distinctive features of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian languages".
Things have been complicated by the fact that two of the co-authors of the two papers have been holding press conferences and giving interviews where they are reiterating in very strong and categorical terms that the theory of the Indo-European languages spreading into South Asia from the Steppes through Central Asia stands disproved by the genetic data in the paper Shinde et al. This has led to a veritable storm of articles in AIT-supporting papers and internet journals, questioning the motives and honesty of these two scientists with regard to their undeniably contradictory positions in the papers and in the media.
Some hostile articles which have recently appeared in the print or internet media (the second one below, from 2018, is included because it has been cited in the third one below by the same writer):
1. "Why a 4500-year-old skull is key to the politics of India's Hindu-Muslim divide", by Vir Sanghvi in This Week in Asia on 4/9/2019.
2. "Why Hindutva is Out of Steppe with new discoveries about the Indus Valley people", by Girish Shahane in scroll.in on 6/9/2018.
3. "Why Hindutva supporters love to hate the discredited Aryan invasion Theory", by Girish Shahane in scroll.in on 14/9/2019.
4. "New reports clearly confirm 'Arya' migration into India", by Tony Joseph in The Hindu, on 13-14/9/2019.
5. "We are all migrants", Tony Joseph interviewed by Siddhartha Mishra in Outlook, 12/9/2019.
6. "Two new genetic studies upheld Indo-Aryan migration. So why did Indian media report the opposite?" by Shoaib Daniyal in scroll.in on 2/9/2019.
7. "Scientists Part of Studies Supporting Aryan Migration Endorse Party Line Instead", by C.P. Rajendran, in The Wire, 13/9/2019.
I am sorry to say I cannot contest the criticism on this particular matter.
Further, none of the people, not favoring the AIT, interviewing the two scientists sympathetically, have thought it necessary to ask the really relevant questions to them: since you are also co-authors of the two papers, are you in agreement with the clearly worded statements (quoted above) in the two papers claiming genetic and linguistic evidence for the spread of Indo-European languages into South Asia from the Steppes? If not, do you disassociate yourselves from those quoted statements? And, if you do, what are your reasons for disassociating yourselves from them?
The sum result of all this is an extremely piquant situation where everyone seems determined to make a mess of everything, and everyone seems to be colluding with each other in diverse ways in order to keep things ambiguous: the two scientists want to please the powers-that-be in India at the moment by announcing that the theory of external origin of the Indo-European languages stands disproved even as they keep their geneticist colleagues happy by lending their names to the reports which claim that the theory stands proved. Those who support the external-origin theory are happy that they can expose this doublespeak in order to claim that this shows that the external-origin theory is right. Those who oppose the theory are careful to avoid embarrassing questions even as they quote these scientists and make them repeatedly reiterate that the external-origin theory is wrong. No-one dares to call a spade a spade, when it comes to the question of Genetics. It is up to the geneticists who claim that the external origin of the Indo-European languages is not proved by the genetic evidence, to state, if possible in a joint statement, and definitely in writing, that Genetics can tell us about the different ancestral strands in any individual or population, but it cannot tell us about the languages spoken by the original carriers of those ancestral strands, and that that can only be shown by the linguistic, archaeological and textual data and evidence. Further, it is up to these geneticists to ask the other geneticists and non-geneticists, who are claiming that the "genetic evidence" proves this Indo-European expansion from the Steppes after 2000 BCE, to first disprove my chronological case for the Rigveda showing the date of the Old Rigveda to be far before 2500 BCE in a purely Indo-European environment within India in Haryana to the east of the Sarasvatī - without this, the "genetic evidence" is a big zero, and all discussion on this "genetic evidence" is pointless. This sane logic, and sane advice, has already been given by me umpteen times, but the vested interests can simply stonewall it, which they will not be able to do when these geneticists speak up. It is time people stopped playing safe and indulging in double-games and doublespeak, while all the time continuing to draw linguistic conclusions out of genetic data in defiance of and in direct contradiction to the linguistic, archaeological and textual data and evidence, and thereby muddying the waters and turning the whole discussion into a joke. The only casualty is the Truth.
Let us leave the two scientists to speak for themselves. Here I will only concentrate on and examine a few anti-Hindu comments of those who are using the two reports to reiterate the Aryan Invasion Theory or AIT, without mincing words or pussyfooting around the relevant aspects of the whole debate in order to save face for anyone.
But before going into that detailed exercise, let us in fact examine in short what the data in the two papers (Shinde et al and Narasimhan et al) really says, and which of the conclusions of these papers are warranted, and which are unwarranted, and why.
I. What the Two Reports Say.
First, Narasimhan et al. According to the earlier Reich genetic report by 92 scientists, unofficially put on the internet in 2018, which was the subject of Tony Joseph's book "Early Indians" and of my dissection of his claims in my book "Genetics and the Aryan Debate", there are three ancestral strands in the ancestry of all Indians: the First Indians or Onge (who spread into India in 65000 BCE), the Iranian agriculturists (who spread into India in 7000 BCE and started mixing with the First Indians after 4700 BCE), and the Steppe people (after 2000 BCE). That report suggested that there were two different civilizations or cultures in ancient India, the Harappan and the Vedic, and that both of them were initiated or inspired or had their roots in external stimuli: the Harappan in external stimuli brought by Iranian Agriculturists (nothing to do with present-day Iranian language speaking Iranians), and the Vedic by external linguistic and religio-cultural stimuli brought by Steppe immigrants.
The present report differs from the earlier one only in the following respects:
1. As Tony Joseph tells us above (in The Hindu, 13-14/9/2019), the earlier version was "not peer-reviewed and was merely released in a pre-print server", but the present version "has now been peer-reviewed and published in the most reputed of journals, Science". Also, the list of eminent scientists who are co-authors has increased; "It has 117 scientists as co-authors, significantly up from the 92 last year. The paper is now titled ‘The Formation of Human Populations in South and Central Asia’".
2. The new version is now modified on the basis of the other (Shinde et al) report that was released on the same day, which has the four above-named co-authors in common, and now accepts that the Harappan civilization at least is not rooted in external stimuli brought by Iranian Agriculturists - and in fact that the entire civilization from its very roots is thoroughly indigenous. Even agriculture was developed independently and not brought in by the Iranian Agriculturists (who are more or less identical to or related to Anatolian agriculturists) from whom these "Iranian" ancestors of the Harappans had separated 12000 years ago, long before the development of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent of West Asia. [Let me clarify here that I have not carried out a word-for-word comparison of the two versions, and am relying only on the statements of not only these two Indian geneticists but on what David Reich himself has said in an interview].
It must be noted that this possibility (of the independent development of agriculture) was hinted at by Joseph in his book, and his hint was noted in my book.
However, the paper continues to reiterate the second part of the earlier story: that Vedic civilization or culture was rooted in external linguistic and religio-cultural stimuli brought by Steppe immigrants. In this respect, the paper is exactly as was described in detail by Tony Joseph in his book "Early Indians", and my complete dissection and total annihilation of their case in my book "Genetics and the Aryan Debate" therefore continues to be just as fully valid for the revised version of the paper as for the earlier version. There is nothing new in that respect in this paper, and therefore, short of copy-pasting my entire book here, there is nothing new left for me to say here. Everything has already been said in the two above books about this paper.
Second, Shinde et al. This paper pertains only to the DNA analysis of the Rakhigarhi specimen, the sole available specimen of examinable DNA from ancient India from the Harappan area and period. It nowhere contains any data and analysis of the post-2000 BCE genetic analyses from the other paper, but, as quoted above, towards the end of the paper, it makes a totally extraneous and gratuitous reference to that alleged paper and its conclusions in order to reiterate that the Indo-European languages spread into India after 2000 BCE through Steppe migrants entering from Central Asia!
As that is an extraneous and gratuitous conclusion, there is no need to waste time discussing this paper here. We can simply accept the conclusions of this paper that the Harappan people were a mixture of the First Indian and the (people who still continue to be referred to as) Iranian Agriculturist people (who were different from the Iranian/Zagros/Anatolian Agriculturists, having, as the geneticists now accept, separated from them 12000 years ago. Where and how this separation took place is not clear, but it is not strictly relevant to the issue here).
The gratuitous conclusion that the Harappan people were not speaking Indo-European languages, because these languages only entered India with Steppe immigrants after 2000 BCE, cannot be proved by any amount of genetic data and quibbling, and can only be proved by conclusively disproving my case for the composition of the Old Rigveda before 2500 BCE in a core "Aryan" area centered around Haryana and westernmost Uttar Pradesh. As the phrase goes, bākī sab bakwās hai.
What were the expectations from this paper, and how valid were those expectations? The expectations of almost everyone were exactly what they turned out to be: that the Rakhigarhi DNA would show the two earlier ancestries (First Indian and "Iranian"), but no Steppe ancestry. The only differences, both before this report came out as well as after it came out, were in the interpretations of this:
1. The AIT side expected this result because the Rakhigarhi specimen was dated before 2200 BCE, and so it was before the Steppe immigrations into India after 2000 BCE, which this side claimed had brought in the Indo-European languages.
2. The anti-AIT side expected this result because their claims all along were that the Harappan civilization was a purely Indian civilization with indigenous origins, and because they identified the Harappan civilization as Vedic, and did not associate either the Harappan or the Vedic with origins from Steppe people.
3. As genetic ancestry has no connection with language, the results could have shown anything. But I also expected this result, because the analysis of the DNA of the three Indus Periphery individuals in the Reich report (2018) showed no Steppe ancestry, but only First Indian and "Iranian" ancestry. I accepted the evidence of the three Indus Periphery individuals as logical and valid, and wrote in my recent book: "Tony Joseph tells us: 'Scientists have managed to recover DNA from the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in India, but the study has not yet been published. Credible news reports about the unpublished study, however, suggest they support the conclusion of a mixture between Zagros agriculturists and the Harappans'" (p.93,fn)", and "he is probably right. On the evidence of the Indus Periphery individuals, it seems unlikely that it could show First Indians + Zagros people + Steppe people ancestry. And in the unlikely case that it throws up a purely First Indians ancestry, it will revolutionize India's genetic history."
While both the reports claim in writing that the Indo-European languages were brought in by immigrants from the Steppes entering India through Central Asia after 2000 BCE, there is nothing in the genetic data itself to suggest such a circumstance. The purely gratuitous claim is based on two extremely subjective and extraneous arguments:
1. The Steppe immigrants entered India only after 2000 BCE (more on this later), and this fits in with the dates previously claimed by Indologists.
2. The report gives an additional linguistic argument: "it elegantly explains the shared distinctive features of Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian languages". It further clarifies: "it provides a plausible genetic explanation for the linguistic similarities between the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian sub-families of Indo-European languages, which despite their vast geographical separation share the satem innovation and ruki sound laws"!
This single inter-related shared feature (the satem innovation and ruki sound laws) explains shared genetic features which show that Indo-Iranians came from Eastern Europe! Nothing shows the linguistic ignorance of these geneticists more than this argument:
a) The satem-innovations-and-ruki-sound-laws phenomenon is a development which in fact indicates an-east-to-west movement from Central Asia to Eastern Europe. As the well-known detailed linguistic study by Johanna Nichols (1997) tells us: "the long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all three trajectories points to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea. The satem shift also spread from a locus to the south-east of the Caspian, with satem languages showing up as later entrants along all three trajectory terminals. (The satem shift is a post-PIE but very early IE development). The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana.” (NICHOLS 1997:137).
b) The particular branches with which Indo-Aryan and Iranian share fundamental linguistic features are not Baltic and Slavic, although, as the last stragglers of the "north-western" group of branches, the Baltic and Slavic branches (but only in an Indian Homeland Theory, not in a Steppe Homeland Theory) do share some minor features (see my books) with the last two branches to remain in the Homeland: Iranian and Indo-Aryan. Baltic and Slavic fall in one ("north-western") group of dialects with shared linguistic features which includes Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic. On the other hand, Indo-Aryan and Iranian fall in a different ("southern") group with shared linguistic features from the last stage of unity which includes Albanian, Greek, Armenian, Iranian and Indo-Aryan: these features include a "complete restructuring of the entire inherited verbal system" (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:340-341, 345) only in these five branches, with the formation of athematic and thematic aorists, augmented forms and reduplicated presents. Also, the prohibitive negation *me, the preservation of voiceless aspirated stops, and many distinct developments in vocabulary, phonology (s>h only in these branches, though restricted in Indo-Aryan only to some westernmost dialects), and grammar. But there are no special shared genetic features between the speakers of these five branches, again showing the fallacy of trying to identify linguistic and genetic identities.
The publication of these two reports has therefore not brought any new factor or change whatsoever in the debate so far as the alleged genetic case for the Indo-European languages spreading into India from Central Asia after 2000 BCE is concerned (although it has brought a positive rejection of the earlier idea that Iranian migrants in 6500 BCE brought agriculture from West Asia and provided the stimulus for the formation of the Harappan civilization). So my recent book, "Genetics and the Aryan Debate", still provides all the answers to the genetic claims, and my chronological and geographical analysis of the Rigveda still remains the only factor which decides the case.
Now let us turn to the anti-Hindu politics that is surfacing, or rather bursting forth, after the publication of these two reports.
II. "Invasion" or "Migration"?
The whole question of whether the Indo-European languages were brought into India by the Steppe immigrants is often converted into an endless quibble on the word "invasion". The whole discussion in the last three decades has been described as an AIT-vs.-OIT debate: "Aryan Invasion Theory" vs. "Out of India Theory". The basic point being discussed is of course whether immigrants from the Steppe brought the Indo-Aryan (=Indo-European) languages into India, entering through Central Asia between 2000-1000 BCE and replacing the local languages, religion and culture with their own. It has been variously described as an invasion (much more often than any of the other descriptions), an immigration, and a process of "trickling-in". Witzel goes so far as to describe the process in the following incredible words: "small-scale semi-annual transhumance movements between the Indus plains and the Afghan and Baluchi highlands continue to this day (Witzel 1995:322, 2000) […] Just one ‘Afghan’ IA tribe that did not return to the highlands but stayed in their Panjab winter quarters in spring was needed to set off a wave of acculturation in the plains by transmitting its ‘status kit’ (Ehret) to its neighbors" (WITZEL 2005:342).
But now, with the discussion on the relevant points getting too hot for them, and with the need to present a picture of superior intelligent academicians (themselves) versus antiquated yokels (us), the AIT proponents find it very convenient to divert the discussion on to side-issues such as the exact word to be used, and our failure to use it.
Witzel, for example, tells us (without also telling us that it is the rejection of the idea of an Aryan invasion, or even immigration, by archaeologists, including western ones, that has compelled them to stop using this word) that only "revisionists and autochthonists….still depend on the old, nineteenth century idea of a massive invasion of outsiders" (WITZEL 2005:347), and that more sophisticated scholars talk of an immigration or, as we saw above, of "small-scale semi-annual transhumance movements between the Indus plains and the Afghan and Baluchi highlands" (WITZEL 2005:342).
After the recent announcement of my new book, Tony Joseph twice saw fit to tweet on the subject, confining his comments only to the use of the word "invasion": on 12/3/2019, he tweeted "My book is not about 'Aryan invasion'. It is about 4 'prehistoric migrations' that formed the Indian population", and on 12/7/2019, he tweeted that my book "starts off with a wrong statement. The phrase 'Aryan invasion' doesn't appear in my book. Not even once!": as if to suggest that I have attributed false quotations to him which contain the word "invasion"! Indeed, being a well-trained propagandist, he does manage to avoid using this particular word in his writings, but then I have never directly accused him (or anyone else, even when they do actually use it) of using this word but only of describing an invasion and its aftermath and after-effects.
In the above mentioned recent article by Girish Shahane, he calls the idea of "invasion" a "strawman" created by the Hindutva supporters, and writes: "Hindutva activists, however, have kept the Aryan Invasion Theory alive, because it offers them the perfect strawman, 'an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument'."
All this has led to some caution on the part of some of the people opposed to the AIT. Some, quite rationally, call it the AIT/AMT (the second term meaning "Aryan Migration Theory"). But some others feel bashful to call it an "Aryan Invasion Theory" at all because they feel it may draw flak from their "sophisticated" opponents, and then they get caught in the word-play trap laid by their opponents to divert the discussion into fruitless channels. It really does not matter whether you call it "invasion" or "migration": everyone knows we are talking about the alleged arrival and spread of immigrants from the Steppes who brought the Indo-European languages, as represented by the Vedic language along with a whole accompanying religion and culture.
But we cannot allow the AIT proponents to tell us which word is politically correct and which word we should use, and to set their own terminology and rules. It is inevitable and necessary to continue to use the word "invasion", though alternating, when it is more proper to the particular context, with the word "immigration"; and to refer to the AIT supporters as "AIT supporters" and to the AIT as "AIT". The AIT supporters are more dishonest: they act fastidious and adopt a fake holier-than-thou attitude when it comes to the word "invasion", and deride their opponents for using this word. But basically what they describe is nothing but an out-and-out invasion theory:
As we saw, Witzel tells us that only "revisionists and autochthonists [….] still depend on the old, nineteenth century idea of a massive invasion of outsiders" (WITZEL 2005:347), and that more sophisticated scholars talk of an immigration. In an earlier paper, he tells us that the "idea of a cataclysmic invasion has, in fact, been given up long ago by Vedic scholars" (WITZEL 1995b:323).
And then, in that very paper, he goes on to present us with a full-fledged invasionist account of the Indo-Aryan intrusion in the Harappan areas. As per this account, the Indo-Aryans fought their way through the mountains of Afghanistan, storming innumerable mountain fortresses, once after a long and bitter 40-year-long campaign, and finally reached the Harappan areas. "On the plains of the Panjab, the Indo-Aryans had further battles to fight", and the Rigveda, according to him, is replete with numerous "explicit descriptions of campaigns", in which the Indo-Aryans "destroyed" hundreds of forts and, on different occasions, "put to sleep", "put down" or "dispersed" 30,000, 50,000 and 100,000 natives (WITZEL 1995b:322-324)!
In another paper, he tells us that the Indo-Aryans had "new military techniques and tactics, especially the horse-drawn chariots", and that the "first appearance of thundering chariots must have stricken the local population with a terror similar to that experienced by the Aztecs and Incas upon the arrival of the iron-clad horse riding Spaniards" (WITZEL 1995a:114).
Witzel is very frequently quoted by Tony Joseph in his book, and is one of the "Advance Praisers" of the book, whose endorsement is quoted at the beginning of the book.
Shoaib Daniyal, in the above mentioned paper, tells us: "David Reich explains that the preponderance of male Steppe DNA means that this encounter between the Steppe pastoralists and the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation 'cannot have been entirely friendly'. This male bias is standard for Indo-European migration. In fact, when these Steppe pastoralists reached Europe, Reich’s research found an even larger proportion of male Steppe genes. In large parts of Western Europe, Steppe migrants almost completely displaced local males in a short time span, leading to one Danish archeologist postulating that the coming of these Indo-European speakers 'must have been a kind of genocide'. This pattern, wrote David Reich in his 2018 book Who We Are and How We Got Here, 'is exactly what one would expect from an Indo-European-speaking people taking the reins of political and social power 4,000 years ago'".
Does all this sound like a "trickling-in" immigration, or an invasion?
Even when the supporters of the AIT, including the "geneticist" scientists, completely avoid using the word "invasion" or describing it graphically as above, the very situation they are describing is a purely invasionist situation. Let us examine what exactly they are telling us:
To begin with, their date of 2000-1000 BCE was based on a middle point between, on the one hand, the point of time, around 3000 BCE, when the different and later widely separated branches are linguistically known to have been "together" in an area of mutual interaction and contact where they still developed words and contexts in common, and on the other, the point of time, around 600 BCE, the period of the Buddha, when it is known from detailed records that Indo-Aryan languages were being spoken by settled inhabitants all over North India as far east as Bengal and Bihar.
The present genetic data, on the basis of which these geneticists and their followers have claimed "genetic evidence" for these (Indo-European speaking) Steppe people spreading through Central Asia to India, is based only on the ancestries of three groups of ancient DNA from the northernmost part of Pakistan, the Swat Valley, as late as after 1200 BCE. There is no earlier date-wise evidence, and there is no ancient evidence south of the Swat Valley.
The geneticists and their various spokespersons clearly declare that the Steppe people did not exist south of Central Asia before 2000 BCE: Tony Joseph, in his book, very categorically claims that "the Indo-European-language speakers" were still migrating "from the Kazakh Steppe" towards "present-day Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan" after 2100 BCE: till then there were no Indo-European-language speakers anywhere in South Asia. They started "towards south Asia" only after 2000 BCE, and they "trickled-in" slowly into a till-then non-Indo-European-language speaking South Asia only during the course of "the second millennium BCE (2000 BCE to 1000 BCE)".
In fact, Tony Joseph in one place has the proto-Indo-Aryans still to the west of the Ural mountains in 2000 BCE: "around 2000 BCE, they finally broke through - or went around - the Ural mountains and spread eastwards across the Steppe" (p.179).
This is fully in line with the regular citing of the Sintashta site (far to the north and west of Kazakhstan, from 2100-1800 BCE) as a pre-Vedic site by these AIT "scholars" (see Tony Joseph's book). Also Shoaib Daniyal above: "In his remarkable 2007 book The Horse, The Wheel, and Language, David Anthony, a professor of anthropology and one of the world’s leading authorities on Indo-European migration, pointed out that funeral sacrifices at Sintashta, an archaeological site all the way out on the Russian Steppe 'showed startling parallels with the sacrificial funeral rituals of the Rig Veda'".
All this very clearly emphasizes the extreme geographical distance of these "Steppe Aryans" from India, and their total non-acquaintance with India, before 2000 BCE.
The genetic evidence now cited basically has only two valid points:
a) The Harappan DNA (as proved by the three Indus Periphery specimens from the north and west of the Harappan area in the Harappan period, now confirmed by the Rakhigarhi specimen from an area east of the Harappan core areas also in the Harappan period) did not contain Steppe ancestry.
b) The present-day population all over India does have Steppe DNA as part of their ancestry.
The obvious conclusion should be that this happened at some time between the Harappan era and the present-day.
But this purely post-Harappan evidence (only from after 1200 BCE) and only from the northern Swat Valley is gratuitously treated as clinching "genetic evidence" that the Steppe people had spread all over the entire Vedic area in the period following the Harappan age, precisely between 2000-1000 BCE!
Let us, for arguments' sake, accept all these points:
a) The Steppe people were still connected to areas beyond Kazakhstan all the way to the Urals, and totally unconnected with areas south of Central Asia, till 2000 BCE.
b) They had spread all over the area from Afghanistan to Haryana and western U.P. by 1000 BCE.
c) They had composed the text of the Rigveda, as Tony Joseph reiterates in his recent book on the authority of Michael Witzel, "between 1400 BCE and 1000 BCE" (p.177).
Then we end up with the absolutely incredible and impossible situation that these people who crossed over from Central Asia only after 2000 BCE (even if we assume they were waiting en masse at the borders and started pouring in like a flood as soon as the flood-gates were opened at the stroke of midnight on the New Year's Day of 2000 BCE), had so completely replaced or transformed the entire population (the teeming millions of the massive Harappan civilization) over the whole area from Afghanistan through the Punjab to the whole of Haryana and the westernmost parts of U.P. within 600 years (2000-1400 BCE), that the orthodox and traditionalist text, the Rigveda, composed by them over 400 years from this point of time, has the following characteristics:
1. It contains no memories at all of any place beyond Afghanistan, much less memories of having come from places far beyond these areas, and in fact shows deep and traditional reverence for the geography of the local area.
2. It contains not even the faintest sign or reference showing the contemporaneous or past presence in the area of any person or entity, friend or foe, with non-Indo-European (much less specifically Dravidian, Austric, Burushaski, Sino-Tibetan, Andamanese, Uralo-Altaic, Semitic, Sumerian, or any other) names.
3. It has undoubtedly or arguably Indo-European (=Indo-Aryan) names for all the local geographical words in the Rigveda:
a) places (Gandhāri, Saptasaindhava, Iḷāspada, Kīkaṭa),
b) mountains (Mūjavat, Suṣoma, Ārjīk),
c) lakes (Mānuṣa, Śaryanāvatī),
d) trees, plants and grasses (kimśuka, khadira, śalmali, aśvattha, śimśapā, śimbala, parṇa, araṭu, vibhīdaka, pippala, urvāruka, vetasa, darbha, muñja, śarya, sairya, kuśara, vairiṇa, and in the Yajurveda and Atharvaveda: ikṣu, bilva, nyagrodha, śamī, plakṣa, pippalī),
e) animals (ibha, hastin, vāraṇa, mahiṣa, anūpa, gaura, mayūra, pṛṣatī, uṣṭra, varāha, mathra, chāga, vṛṣṇi, urā, meṣha, siṁha, śiṁśumāra, sālāvṛka, kusumbhaka, cakravāka, cāṣa, and in the Yajurveda and Atharvaveda: kaśyapa, kapi, vyāghra, pṛdāku, śārdūla, khaḍga, ajagara, nākra, kṛkalāsa, nakula, jahakā, śalyaka, kūrma, jatū, anyavāpa, kṛkavāku, kapiñjala, tittiri, kalaviṅka, kaṅka, krauñca, gṛdhra, śuka) and
f) rivers (Gaṅgā, Jahnāvī, Yamunā, Dṛṣadvatī, Hariyūpīyā, Yavyāvatī, Āpayā, Sarasvatī, Śutudrī, Vipāś, Paruṣṇī, Asiknī, Marudvṛdhā, Vitastā, Ārjīkīyā, Suṣomā, Sindhu, Triṣṭāmā, Susartu, Anitabhā, Rasā, Śveti, Shvetyāvarī, Kubhā, Krumu, Gomatī, Sarayu, Mehatnu, Prayiyu, Vayiyu, Suvāstu, Gaurī, Kuṣavā).
[Although desperate attempts have been made to find "non-Indo-European" words among the flora and fauna names in particular, it has been a failed linguistic exercise. For people who argue, without logic, that Śutudrī is a "non-Aryan" word and Kīkaṭa is an Austric word because Sanskrit words cannot begin with ki- and such words are actually Austric words (!): the first word contains the Indo-European -udr-, "water", and the Indo-Aryan Mitanni writer of the horse-training manual in ancient Iraq was named Kikkuli].
Witzel in particular had the following to say on the river-names: "In Europe, river names were found to reflect the languages spoken before the influx of Indo-European speaking populations. They are thus older than c. 4500-2500 B.C. (depending on the date of the spread of Indo-European languages in various parts of Europe)" (WITZEL 1995a:104-105). But, in sharp contrast, "in northern India rivers in general have early Sanskrit names from the Vedic period, and names derived from the daughter languages of Sanskrit later on." (WITZEL 1995a:105). This is "in spite of the well-known conservatism of river names. This is especially surprising in the area once occupied by the Indus Civilization where one would have expected the survival of older names, as has been the case in Europe and the Near East. At the least, one would expect a palimpsest, as found in New England with the name of the state of Massachussetts next to the Charles river, formerly called the Massachussetts river, and such new adaptations as Stony Brook, Muddy Creek, Red River, etc., next to the adaptations of Indian names such as the Mississippi and the Missouri". According to Witzel, this alleged "failure to preserve old hydronomes even in the Indus Valley" is indicative of "the extent of the social and political collapse experienced by the local population" (WITZEL 1995a:106-107).
Even if anyone were (and very many are) stupid enough or dishonest enough to accept the above impossible situation as a possibility, could anyone in their senses deny that the whole alleged scenario indicates not a "trickling-in" immigration, but a bloody and genocidal invasion followed by a process of total mass-hypnosis and mass-amnesia?
So, let us not allow dishonest politically-motivated "scholars" to dictate to us what words to use in debate. At least in this case, "invasion" is the exact word which describes what the AIT supporters are postulating. Whatever they call it, and whatever we call it, they are supporters of an "Aryan Invasion Theory".
Why are the supporters of the geneticists objecting to the use of the word "invasion" even when what they are describing is a bloody and genocidal invasion which is supposed to have completely and magically transformed the entire Harappan area to this impossible extent in a short period between some point after 2000 BCE (when they claim that the Steppe people first stepped into India from Central Asia) and 1400 BCE (when they claim that the composition of the Rigveda commenced) - both these claims being based purely on the strength of the alleged presence of Steppe DNA in the northernmost Swat Valley as late as 1200 BCE?
What is more, the complete transformation suggested by the AIT is not restricted to language alone: “What is relatively rare is the adoption of complete systems of belief, mythology and language from neighbouring peoples […] Yet, in South Asia we are dealing precisely with the absorption of not only new languages but also of an entire complex of material and spiritual culture, ranging from chariotry and horsemanship to Indo-Iranian poetry whose complicated conventions are still actively used in the Ṛgveda. The old Indo-Iranian religion, centred on the opposition of Devas and Asuras, was also adopted, along with Indo-European systems of ancestor worship.” (WITZEL 1995a:112) - not to mention Indo-European names to replace all their local geographical words, and a sudden mass amnesia about whatever allegedly existed earlier.
The reason why they object to what they are describing being referred to as an "invasion" is because archaeology completely rejects the idea of any major change in the material culture and population in the Harappan area, which would have inevitably resulted from such an invasion:
So much so that (to take just one such example) in an academic volume of papers devoted to the subject by western academicians, George Erdosy, in his preface to the volume, stresses that this is a subject of dispute between linguists and archaeologists, and that the idea of an Aryan invasion of India in the second millennium BCE “has recently been challenged by archaeologists, who ― along with linguists ― are best qualified to evaluate its validity. Lack of convincing material (or osteological) traces left behind by the incoming Indo-Aryan speakers, the possibility of explaining cultural change without reference to external factors and ― above all ― an altered world-view (Shaffer 1984) have all contributed to a questioning of assumptions long taken for granted and buttressed by the accumulated weight of two centuries of scholarship” (ERDOSY 1995:x).
Of the papers presented by archaeologists in the volume (being papers presented at a conference on Archaeological and Linguistic approaches to Ethnicity in Ancient South Asia, held in Toronto from 4-6/10/1991), the paper by K.A.R. Kennedy concludes that “while discontinuities in physical types have certainly been found in South Asia, they are dated to the 5th/4th, and to the 1st millennium B.C. respectively, too early and too late to have any connection with ‘Aryans’” (ERDOSY 1995:xii); the paper by J. Shaffer and D. Lichtenstein stresses on “the indigenous development of South Asian civilization from the Neolithic onward” (ERDOSY 1995:xiii); and the paper by J.M. Kenoyer stresses that “the cultural history of South Asia in the 2nd millennium B.C. may be explained without reference to external agents” (ERDOSY 1995:xiv).
The present report, Narasimhan et al, tries hard to downplay the very vital objection of the archaeologists, by casually referring to it and dismissing it as follows: "Our observation of the spread of Central_ Steppe_MLBA ancestry into South Asia in the first half of the second millennium BCE…" At this point, let us pause to note that they should have said "Our observation of the spread of Central_ Steppe_MLBA ancestry into the Swat Valley in northernmost Pakistan in the late second half of the second millennium BCE…", and as I have pointed out in my recent book, the chart in their earlier version of the report uploaded on the internet last year (I don't know if they have cleverly changed it now) gives the lie to even this, since the Swat DNA in their chart is not shown to have the "red" and "teal" ancestral sources contained in the Steppe_MLBA DNA.
[Strangely enough, let me quote the article by Girish Shahane written in 2018, listed earlier, to explain why claiming that the Steppe_MLBA DNA, with the red, teal and orange ancestries, when it enters the DNA of the Swat samples, leaves only one of the three colors (orange) in the Swat DNA "is like claiming you could mix three colours thoroughly and daub them onto a plain piece of paper in such a way that only one of the three colours was deposited on the paper’s surface". Any rebuttals to your own argument, Mr. Shahane?]
[Strangely enough, let me quote the article by Girish Shahane written in 2018, listed earlier, to explain why claiming that the Steppe_MLBA DNA, with the red, teal and orange ancestries, when it enters the DNA of the Swat samples, leaves only one of the three colors (orange) in the Swat DNA "is like claiming you could mix three colours thoroughly and daub them onto a plain piece of paper in such a way that only one of the three colours was deposited on the paper’s surface". Any rebuttals to your own argument, Mr. Shahane?]
But to continue the shysterish presentation in the Narasimhan et al report: "…If the spread of people from the Steppe in this period was a conduit for the spread of South Asian Indo-European languages, then it is striking that there are so few material culture similarities between the Central Steppes and South Asia in the Middle to Late Bronze Age (i.e. after the middle of the second millennium BCE). Indeed the material culture differences are so substantial that some archaeologists report no evidence of a connection. However, lack of material culture connections does not provide evidence against spread of genes, as has been demonstrated in the case of the Beaker Complex, which originated largely in western Europe but in Central Europe was associated with skeletons that harbored ~50% ancestry related to Yamnaya Steppe pastoralists (18). Thus in Europe we have an unambiguous example of people with ancestry from the Steppe making profound demographic impacts on the regions into which they spread while adopting important aspects of local material culture. Our findings document a similar phenomenon in South Asia…".
Really?!! Do we really find a "similar" replacement in Central Europe of the teeming millions of a materially rich Harappan-like non-Indo-European civilization mysteriously transformed overnight so completely, with this magical transformation immediately recorded in a new, richly detailed Rigveda-like Indo-European text recording not only the magically transformed new culture of the proportions we have seen above but also a total mass amnesia about that transformation?
So, we must understand why the AIT supporters are so desperate to stop the use of the word "invasion" and why we have to go on throwing that word in their faces.
III. The Real Evidence versus the Manipulated Propaganda in the name of "Science".
So let us put the case in perspective before going on to the articles and comments by the spokespersons of the "scientists".
The case presented by the "geneticists" is a purely fraudulent case so far as it concerns the alleged spread of Indo-European languages from the Steppes into India after 2000 BCE. To understand this, let us understand the issue through a series of basic questions:
1. Are the reports at least genuine in respect of the following genetic claims made in them?
a. That the Harappan people were a combination of what is called the First Indian ancestry and the ancient "Iranian" ancestry.
b. That the modern-day Indians by and large are a combination, in different proportions, of three major ancestries: the First Indian ancestry, the ancient "Iranian" ancestry and a Steppe ancestry.
Yes, they are, but not in their interpretation of these facts. The genetic evidence simply tells us that the Steppe ancestry must have entered India at some time between the end of the Harappan era and the beginning of the modern era.
2. Do these reports tell us that this Steppe DNA entered and spread (a) all over India, (b) or at least first all over North India, (c) or at least first all over northwestern India (the Harappan as well as Vedic geographical space), between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE?
No, they do not:
The Rakhigarhi report (Shinde et al) of the specimen from the eastern heartland of the Harappan area in the Harappan period, dated, as per newspaper reports, between 2800-2300 BCE, simply confirms what the earlier version of the Narasimhan et al report had told us last year in 2018 (on the basis of DNA analysis of Indus Periphery specimens from the north and east of the Harappan area in the Harappan period): that the Harappans were of First Indians + "Iranians" ancestry.
The two reports together did give very important new evidence that the "Iranian" component of this joint ancestry was in the area since more than 10000 years, and that the development of agriculture in the area was fully indigenous.
The Swat specimens merely tell us that by 1200 BCE, the Steppe DNA had spread into northernmost Pakistan.
To confirm the extent of spread of this Steppe DNA into India between 2000-1000 BCE we require ancient specimens of that period from (a) the Harappan area, (b) the rest of North India, (c) the rest of India.
3. If we get ancient DNA specimens from 2000-1000 BCE and later periods from different parts of India, and these contain the Steppe DNA, will this prove the Steppe origin of Indo-European languages?
No, it will not: the analyses of those (at the moment purely hypothetical) future specimens of ancient DNA containing Steppe ancestry will only show the periods by which the Steppe-DNA-bearing immigrants spread into the different parts of India.
The most relevant of these hypothetical DNA specimens would be DNA specimens from the Harappan/Vedic areas between 2000-1000 BCE having Steppe DNA. But this would merely confirm the speculation in the two present reports about Steppe DNA having spread all over the Harappan/Vedic areas between 2000-1000 BCE. It will tell us nothing about the Indo-European languages.
4. Then what genetic evidence will tell us about the Indo-European languages?
None: DNA and genetic data can tell us nothing about the Indo-European languages. Only linguistic, archaeological and textual/inscriptional evidence can tell us about them. And very conclusive and irrefutable evidence is available.
5. What is that evidence?
There is plenty of linguistic, archaeological and textual/inscriptional evidence which shows that India is the Original Homeland of the Indo-European languages, and that the Indo-European languages found outside India were originally taken there by emigrants from India.
Here we will cite only the evidence showing that the Rigveda, which these geneticists claim was composed long after 2000 BCE by descendants of Steppe immigrants who entered India from the northwest only after 2000 BCE, actually dates to far beyond 2500 BCE and was composed deep inside the eastern Harappan areas.
"Genetic evidence" cannot disprove recorded textual/inscriptional evidence. For example, given the recorded textual/inscriptional evidence of the Ashoka pillars, and the Greek, Chinese and Persian accounts of ancient India, geneticists cannot allege that there is "genetic evidence" showing that the Indo-European languages spread into India only after 200 BCE.
Likewise, given the carbon-dated textual/inscriptional evidence of the Mitanni kingdom in ancient Syria-Iraq in West Asia from 1500 BCE onwards, and the recorded presence of the Mitanni in West Asia by at least 1700 BCE, geneticists cannot allege that there is "genetic evidence" showing that the Indo-European languages spread into India only after 2000 BCE.
6. How does the textual/inscriptional evidence of the Mitanni kingdom in West Asia tell us about the date of the Rigveda in India?
a. The Rigveda (consisting of 10 Books or Maṇḍalas) is classified by Indologists into two chronological divisions: an older section consisting of Books 2-4,6-7 which we will call the Old Rigveda, and a newer section consisting of Books 1,5,8-10 which we will call the New Rigveda.
b. The Mitanni kings were of Indo-Aryan origin, and their ancestral culture and language were identical to the Rigvedic language. Indologists try to explain this by claiming that the Indo-Aryans (even before they migrated into India) split into groups in Central Asia, one group migrating south-westwards into West Asia, and one group migrating south-eastwards into India.
c. If this were true, then the common Indo-Aryan elements surviving among the Mitanni would have to be found in the Old Rigveda rather than in the New Rigveda.
Likewise, the Mitanni Indo-Aryans and Rigvedic Indo-Aryans together share common elements with the Iranians. So these common "Indo-Iranian" elements would likewise have to be found in the Old Rigveda rather than in the New Rigveda.
d. But these common elements (common to the Rigveda, the Mitanni records, and the Iranian Avesta) are found only in the New Rigveda and are completely missing in the Old Rigveda. This proves that the ancestors of the Mitanni and the Iranians separated from the Rigvedic people not in some pre-Rigvedic period but during the period of composition of the New Rigveda, and after the period of composition of the Old Rigveda.
7. What is this evidence of "common elements", and how does it show the date of the Rigveda?
a. This evidence consists of names, name-types and words, and in the case of the Rigveda and the Avesta, also certain types of meters.
b. The common Rigvedic-Mitanni elements are found in the New Rigveda in the names of the composers of 108 hymns, and within the hymns they are found in 77 hymns, 126 verses, 129 references.
The common Rigvedic-Avestan elements (since the Avesta has much more extensive data than the Mitanni records) are found in the New Rigveda in the names of the composers of 309 hymns, 3389 verses, and within the hymns they are found in 225 hymns, 434 verses, 500 references. The common meters are found in the New Rigveda in 51 hymns, 255 verses.
All these names, name-types, words and meters (for details, see my books and blogs) are completely absent in the Old Rigveda, although they continue to be found in post-Rigvedic Vedic texts and Classical Sanskrit texts. This shows that the common era of development of all these elements was during the period of composition of the New Rigveda, and the ancestors of the Mitanni and the Avestan Iranians separated from the composers of the New Rigveda during this common era.
c. But the whole of the Rigveda (Old Rigveda + New Rigveda) was composed wholly within India. Therefore this means that the ancestors of the Mitanni and the Avestan Iranians migrated from India.
d. Since the ancestors of the Mitanni kings were already in West Asia by 1700 BCE at the least, they must have left India hundreds of years prior to that: these Indo-Aryan elements in the Mitanni records were already old, ancestral elements. Witzel classifies these Indo-Aryan elements in the Mitanni data as the “remnants” of IA in the Hurrite language of the Mitanni (WITZEL 2005:361), and Mallory tells us: "it should not be forgotten that the Indic elements seem to be little more than the residue of a dead language in Hurrian, and that the symbiosis that produced the Mitanni may have taken place centuries earlier” (MALLORY 1989:42).
So they must have left India long before 2000 BCE.
And that was during the period of composition of the New Rigveda.
And the period of composition of the Old Rigveda, also composed within India, and which represents a much older ethos, goes back long before the New Rigveda, long before 2500 BCE.
8. Can't this somehow be fitted into the Central Asian theory?
That is impossible. Far from having the same geography as the New Rigveda, or a more northern or northwestern one, the Old Rigveda has a more eastern one. As I have shown in detail in my books (including the recent one):
1. The names of the eastern places, lake and animals are found abundantly in every single one of the ten books of the Rigveda (Old and New).
But the names of the western places, lake, mountains and animals (and the central place) are found only in the New Rigveda in the non-family books (1,8,9,10), and are completely missing in all the six older books: i.e. in the Old Rigveda (books 6,3,7,4,2) as well as in the New family book 5.
2. The rivers of the Rigveda appear in the text from east-to-west: the following is a graphic presentation of the order of appearance of the river names in the ten books of the Rigveda:
So the Old Rigveda, which goes back long before 2500 BCE at the least, was composed deep inside the Harappan area, in Haryana and westernmost Uttar Pradesh.
9. Can't this somehow be fitted into the "genetic evidence" about the Steppe people entering India after 2000 BCE?
That is even more impossible. The geneticists date the Rigveda to 1400-1000 BCE. As we saw, it is impossible to reconcile this dating with what the geneticists say happened before the composition of the Rigveda: if the composers had "trickled-in" into India into the heart of the teeming Harappan civilization well after 2000 BCE, it is clearly impossible that the Rigveda as it is could have been composed so soon after that.
It is even more impossible to reconcile this dating with what actually happened after the composition of the Rigveda: the ancestors of the Mitanni migrated to West Asia. If the Rigveda was composed 1400-1000 BCE, they can only have left sometime after 1200 BCE, and they could have reached West Asia before 1700 BCE only if they travelled there in a time-machine or through a time-warp!
The genetic evidence may show that people from the Steppes entered India after 2000 BCE. But any Steppe people who entered South Asia from present-day Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan after 2000 BCE, and then spread out all over India in the course of the next four thousand years, intermixing to different degrees with all the existing inhabitants of the land and contributing their genomes and DNA to the Indian gene pool - whatever else they may have brought with them into India - did not bring the Indo-European languages and Vedic culture: these were already there from long before 2000 BCE. The fact that all their migrations and intermixing within India did not create even a ripple in the archaeological record, or leave any kind of memories among any section of the different groups concerned, shows that they in fact got integrated into the local populace everywhere, accepting the local languages and the general culture and traditions, like most other later ancient people in the historical record (the Greeks, Persians, Scythians, Huns, etc.).
The two genetic reports are fraudulent in more ways than one:
1. Firstly, of course, the way in which they analyze genes, DNA and haplogroups, and draw totally unwarranted and extraneous linguistic conclusions from them, as already discussed.
2. Secondly, the blatant way in which they derive unwarranted racist and casteist conclusions from the data. The Narasimhan et al report is full of casteist formulations, e.g. "Steppe ancestry in modern South Asians is primarily from males and disproportionately high in Brahmin and Bhumihar groups […] Groups that view themselves as being of traditionally priestly status, including Brahmins who are custodians of liturgical texts in the early Indo-European language Sanskrit, tend (with exceptions) to have more Steppe ancestry than expected": this and similar points are repeated ad nauseam throughout the paper.
But this is a known feature of "genetic studies" conducted by the main mover behind the two studies (though Indian geneticists have been used as fronts in the naming of the papers), David Reich. There have been many indictments of his genetic studies by western academicians on this score, e.g. here is what a group of 67 genuine scientists, in an article "How not to Talk about Race and Genetics", have to say about the type of racial "genetic studies" indulged in by David Reich and other scientists associated with him, and about the racially potent conclusions drawn by them in reports "peer-reviewed" by others of the same genre:
3. Thirdly, the very way in which the caste-wise data has been collected and presented shows a really shoddy and extremely premeditated agenda. As Vishal Agarwal has pointed out in a private article:
"For all the bombastic claims of the paper, the fact remains that it lists 6 castes as having the highest central Steppe genetic content as follows: 1. UP Bhumihar, 2. Bihar Bhumihar, 3. Jat Sikh, 4. Tiwari Brahmin, 5. Nepal Brahmin, 6. Brahmin UP. Can anyone tell my why 1 and 2 are counted separately; and whether the label 'Bhumihar' even has any relevance in precolonial times? (It does not). Can anyone tell me why Tiwari Brahmin (~ Trivedis/Tripathis) is classified separately from UP Brahmin? Most Tiwaris are from UP, and in fact many with this surname are even found in Nepal. And in Nepal itself, we have the Bahun (Khas) as well as Terai Brahmans who overlap with Bhumihars and Tiwaris. So essentially, one continuum of a population is arbitrarily split into 5. […] What if I make separate categories of Haryana Jats, Rajasthan Jats, UP Jats and then argue that many Shudra clans have the highest MLBA ancestry? […] If you scroll further, you will likewise find many 'populations' split unnecessarily (e.g., there are separate categories for 'Agarwal', 'Bania', 'Banias'). Why is it that the Jat Sikhs, considered Shudras along with other Jats (Hindus in Haryana, W Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan; Muslim Jutts in W Punjab) have the third or fourth highest central Steppe MLBA related ancestry? And it is not just this study which says so. Another study by Pathak et al actually notes that the Haryana (Hindu) Jats have even a greater European/MLBA genetic portion than Brahmins. So how does that fit the Aryan Migration as illustrated in the paper which says that higher the MLBA content, the higher in caste heirarchy (look also at the high MLBA of Chamars, Pasis)? In short, other explanations must be searched for than the simple 'higher Central Steppe MLBA means higher in Varna ladder' type of explanations, and then force fit them into the AMT paradigms. The data is shoddily coded and the resultant analysis apparently not uninodal or linear due to which the blanket judgments of the paper do not have much real explanatory value".
The only way to counter the storm of AIT propaganda following the Rakhigarhi report is to take a united, firm and uncompromising stand:
1. Demand, before anything else, a discussion and debate on the chronological and geographical evidence of the Rigveda.
2. Refuse to indulge in endless quibbling on the question of "genetics", because none of it has anything at all whatsoever to do with the question of language.
3. Refuse to let the fraudulent scholars on the opposite side set the terms and terminology of the debate.
IV. The AIT Brigade after Rakhigarhi.
Strictly speaking, nothing new is being said by the AIT Brigade after the Rakhigarhi report other than making an issue of the doublespeak of certain geneticists who were co-authors of both the genetic reports. Apart from that, the same things are generally being said which were said by Tony Joseph in his book "Early Indians", which I have torn to shreds in my book "Genetics and the Aryan Debate". Whatever the AIT Brigade says now on the subject of the so-called "genetic evidence" or the AIT-OIT issue in general, will most likely already have been fully answered in my book.
So I will just pick up a few snippets from two of the writers whose post-Rakhigarhi articles I have enumerated at the beginning of this article, which raise different points, to show the utterly unscholarly nature of their ranting:
A. Vir Sanghvi:
Vir Sanghvi converts this issue into a Hindu vs. Muslim debate.
1. Sanghvi sums up the AIT vs. OIT debate as follows: "It is a measure of the mood in today’s India that archaeology, genetics and racial purity have now been co-opted in a debate about current politics. Not since the middle of the 20th Century has racial purity been as important in the politics of a major nation. And yes, the term ‘Aryan’ is being bandied about with a worryingly familiar ease.".
Who has made the "Aryan" issue into a question of "racial purity"? Certainly not the Hindutva side, which totally rejects the idea of an Aryan race as much as the idea of an Aryan invasion. It is their opponents (like Vir Sanghvi himself in this article) who "bandy" the term with "a worryingly familiar ease".
2. He pontificates: "Once you base your ideology on racial and religious purity, then you commit yourself to a different kind of politics where the battles of thousands of years ago resurface in a modern contest and where research is not a scientific tool but a weapon in political skirmishes. Something like that is happening in India today."
Again, the same idea: there are certainly orthodox Brahmin groups who speak and think in terms of racial purity, but it is these groups which in fact, support the AIT. The Hindutva side, which opposes the AIT, is not using research as "a weapon in political skirmishes": it is in fact groups hostile to the Hindutva idea, like missionaries, leftist ideologues, casteist "dalit" groups, Dravidianists, and others who are using this idea of "racial purity" as a "weapon in political skirmishes", and the Hindutva side rejects and opposes this idea of "racial purity", and tries to use research to counter such activity..
3. He further alleges: "According to the right, the Hindus were the original inhabitants of India. Muslims were invaders. Nobody questioned the right of Muslims to live in India but they needed to accept that they had come to a Hindu county from elsewhere."
No-one - at least no serious OIT scholar - says either that "the Hindus were the original inhabitants of India" or that the Muslims, i.e. Muslim people, had "come to a Hindu county from elsewhere."
Even in my first book in 1993, where I dealt with the political corollaries of the AIT (which includes much of what Sanghvi says above) and was sharp in my criticism of Islam and Christianity in India, I specifically wrote as follows: "Muslims and Christians are not 'foreigners' in India. Muslim and Christian fundamentalists may identify wholly with their foreign brethren, and some Muslims may even gloat at the idea that they are the descendants of Islamic heroes who 'conquered and ruled' a land teeming with kāfirs, but the fact remains that they are all Indians as much as the Hindus (including the 'Aryans'). At a certain point of time, their ancestors were the more helpless among the Hindus who were forcibly converted to Islam. […] in historic times there were invasions of India by Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Kushans and Huns. Many of the invaders stayed in India and got integrated into the population. Today some anthropologist may manage to dig out material and claim that some community or other constitutes the descendants of one or the other of those invaders. But who would treat such a claim, even if it were proved beyond doubt, as the basis for branding that community as a 'foreign' community? […] every single foreign community entering India, right from ancient times, has been completely absorbed into the Indian identity […] and according to the Aryan invasion theory itself, this happened in the case of the 'Aryans' as well […] Hindu nationalism has nothing to do with the childish, petty and ridiculous idea of dividing Indians into 'outsiders' and 'insiders' on the basis of whether or not their ancestors, actually or supposedly, came from outside." (TALAGERI 1993:46-47).
Incidentally here is where the cornier elements among the left, right and secular categories unite: "the Hindu Right has struggled to prove that the people of the Indus Valley were Hindus and that today’s Indians are directly descended from them."
Why should Hindus all over India be "directly descended" from "the people of the Indus Valley"? At the most, the people living in the areas where the Harappan culture flourished could, rightly or wrongly, make such a claim - and these include the Muslims in Pakistan. But it requires a very "invasionist" or "colonialist" outlook to brand people, whether Indo-Aryan language speaking or (as Tony Joseph insists) Dravidian language speaking, from other parts of India as the "direct descendants" of the Harappans or, indeed, of the Vedic people (who, also, as I have pointed out in my books, were just the Pūru tribes of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh). Were huge parts of India an uninhabited desert a few thousand years ago, that the present-day people residing in those parts should be sweepingly regarded as "directly descended" from the then inhabitants of any one other particular part of India?
4. Finally, he seeks to equate the Aryan invaders with later Muslim invaders (remember, it is Sanghvi, not our side, which seems to sub-consciously identify present-day Indian Muslims as "direct descendants" of the Muslim invaders): "the Aryans were also invaders or, at the very least, migrants. And as there was little evidence to suggest that the Indus Valley Civilization was Hindu, then even Hinduism was a religion that had come to India from elsewhere." Later, he refers to "those who believe that the so-called Aryan-Dravidian divide does not exist and that Hinduism is an entirely indigenous religion. If the Aryans came from the Steppes and brought an early version of Hinduism with them, then how were they so different from the Muslims who came much later?"
Let me clarify things to this kindergarten child: the Aryans, who allegedly came from the Steppes, and Muslims, who did come much later, are ghosts from the past. Whether or not they were different is immaterial: present-day Hindu people and Muslim people are both of Indian descent.
But yes, "Hinduism is an entirely indigenous religion", and, except by a diseased brain, it can in no way be treated as "a religion that had come to India from elsewhere." Islam and Christianity did "come to India from elsewhere". It does not require an ideology to understand these facts: a schoolboy's Atlas of the World is enough. And denying basic facts is neither piety nor wisdom.
I had elaborated these points in detail in my first book (1993). Let me quote that section here, even at the risk of being branded as "communal":
"I. Hinduism had no founder, but every single holy man, seer and sage, and every single hero (or for that matter, villain) mentioned in every single ancient Hindu text and scripture is an Indian.
Islam was founded by Muhammad, an Arab. He was followed by four 'pious' Khalifas (the first three of whom are not accepted by Shias), all of whom were Arabs. Then followed a long line of lesser Khalifas (not all of whom are accepted by all sections of Muslims, who indeed broke into different sects on the basis of the struggles for succession to the throne of Khalifa), not one of whom was an Indian.
Christianity is based on the life of Jesus Christ, a Jew from Palestine. His twelve apostles were Palestinians and Romans. Christianity was founded by Paul, a Palestinian Jew and Roman citizen.
2. The sacred language of Hinduism is Sanskrit, which even the Aryan invasion theory cannot assign to any country other than India.
The sacred language of Islam is Arabic, the language of Arabia.
Christianity, perhaps, has no such thing as a sacred language, but, if one were to be named, Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament), or Aramaic (the language reportedly spoken by Jesus Christ), or Greek (the language which hosted the first Christian Bible, Old plus New Testament, and indeed, which gave the word Bible'), or Latin (the liturgical language of the 'Holy See', the Vatican City) would be better candidates for the post than any Indian language.
3. India is the holy land for Hindus. All Hindu pilgrim centres and holy places are situated in and around India.
Arabia is the holy land for Muslims. Their principal places of pilgrimage are Mecca and Medina in Arabia, followed by Jerusalem in Palestine (Israel), followed by a few others, notably Karbala in Iraq, all in West Asia.
Palestine is the holy land for Christians. Their principal places of pilgrimage are Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, all in Palestine.
(If there are any places of pilgrimage for Islam or Christianity in India, it may be noted that: a) These are very minor ones as compared to the major ones in the West, more in the nature of local shrines; b) The persons commemorated by these shrines are almost invariably foreigners or converted Indians who turned against their ancestral Indian society and culture).
4. The sacred books of all the three religions claim to have the whole world as their stage. But, in reality, they are all geographically localized. The Hindu texts are centered in and around India. The Quran and Hadis are centered in and around Arabia and Palestine. The Bible is centered in and around Palestine and the Mediterranean region.
5. The heads of all Hindu religious sects are Indians. All Hindu religious centres are in India. All Hindu organisations (even those, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, whose names suggest an international character) are based in India, and headed and controlled by Indians.
The ultimate heads of all Muslim sects are foreigners. The major Muslim religious centres are situated in foreign lands. There are many international Islamic organisations of different kinds, but all these are based in foreign countries, and headed and controlled by foreigners.
The ultimate heads of all Christian sects are foreigners — the Pope being a prime example. The major Christian religious centres, in the form of the headquarters of each sect, are in foreign countries — that of the Catholics in the Vatican city, and those of the various Orthodox and Protestant churches, and modern fundamentalist sects, in Europe and America. The innumerable international Christian organisations are based in foreign countries and headed and controlled by foreigners.
All these points are so obvious that anyone who says that Hinduism is as foreign to India as Islam or Christianity, deserves to have his head examined. The followers of both Islam and Christianity have full knowledge of and pride in the time and place of origin of their religions outside India, the early history of their religions outside India, the arrival of their religions into India (brought in by invaders and imperialists), and the manner in which their religions were established in India. On the other hand, until the Aryan invasion theory was mooted by the European imperialists, no Hindu had ever suspected that any foreign connection could be attributed to his religion. Even today, with the Aryan invasion theory being instilled into every Hindu brain right from childhood, no Hindu worth his salt would accept the contention that Hinduism is of foreign origin.
Even the strongest advocate of the Aryan invasion theory cannot, in all honesty, point out any specific spot outside India to which the origin of any, simply any, aspect of Hinduism could be attributed. Even if, for the purpose of this chapter, it is presumed that the 'Aryans' came from outside India, and that they imposed the Hindu religion on local inhabitants (two questions which will be dealt with subsequently in this book), it will have to be admitted that there is no trace of any foreign connections in Hinduism, much less the consciousness, of any such connections, among Hindus—and least of all, any foreign loyalties, associable with such foreign connections".
5. Funniest of all, Sanghvi's title for his article is: "Why a 4500-year-old skull is key to the politics of India's Hindu-Muslim divide".
Sorry to say, but, except for some particular articulate, evangelical and western-educated Muslims, few Muslims are bothered about the AIT. No Muslim is bothered by the fact that Hinduism is of Indian origin and Islam is of foreign origin. He is not a Muslim because he wants to believe Islam is an Indian religion, or because he believes his ancestors were Arabs, but simply because it is the religion in which he was born, or at the most because he believes it is "the One and Only True Religion". The AIT is in no way connected to the "Hindu-Muslim divide", not even in the minds of Hindutva activists who react (if at all) to the AIT only when provoked by so-called "dalit" activists, Dravidianists, anti-Hindu leftists, and missionaries. They feel Hinduism is an Indian or indigenous religion because it is one, see above, and not in relation to Islam, much less to Muslims.
Sanghvi is very fond of the word "divide". He refers to Hindutva people as "those who believe that the so-called Aryan-Dravidian divide does not exist", a contradiction: does this divide "exist" (and the Hindutvites err in not believing that it does) or is it just "so-called" (and therefore non-existent, and therefore the Hindutvites are right)?
Indo-European and Dravidian are indeed two different language-families, which neither automatically means that one of them came from "outside" or that a "difference" is necessarily a "divide". Unfortunately, Dravidianist ideologues treat it as a "divide", and many Hindutvites, perhaps as a reaction, treat "difference"="divide" and reject the idea that both are different language-families.
Vir Sanghvi could do with a little education on all these issues.
B. Girish Shahane:
Girish Shahane's articles are full of pieces of arrogant half-baked comments based on embarrassingly half-baked knowledge, spiced with a liberal amount of venom.
1. "If the roots of Sanskrit lie outside South Asia, as it is clearer than ever they do, it weakens the Hindu nationalist demonisation of Christianity and Islam as faiths alien to India".
This is just a repeat of what Vir Sanghvi said above. I have shown how Hinduism is definitely Indian, while Islam and Christianity are definitely not Indian. These are geographical facts: the "demonization" is in Shahane's mind.
But note the venom behind the declaration that the hypothetical ancestral origin of the Sanskrit language in a hypothetical proto-Indo-European language in a hypothetical Homeland in the Steppes makes the Hindu religion "alien to India".
2. "Hindutva activists, however, have kept the Aryan Invasion Theory alive, because it offers them the perfect strawman, 'an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument'".
It is refreshing to see Hindutva activists being accused of keeping the AIT "alive" rather than trying to kill it! A perfect example of "an intentionally misrepresented proposition that is set up because it is easier to defeat than an opponent’s real argument".
3. "The earliest proof of horses being ridden and yoked to spoke-wheeled chariots appears in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, not India." Shahane had made this claim in the 2018 article as well: "The innovation of the steppe people was to domesticate them, ride them, and hitch them to spoke-wheeled chariots."
Shahane's claim seems to be that "spoke-wheeled chariots" were brought by Indo-Aryans into India all the way from the Steppes through Central Asia!
Even the most elementary student of Indo-European knows that spoked wheels developed after all the different branches had dispersed from the Homeland (wherever it be located), and there is no common word for "spoke" in the different branches. Not even in Indo-Aryan and Iranian.
In the Rigveda, spoked wheels or spokes are found only in the New Rigveda. They are completely absent in the Old Rigveda. This fits in with the fact that the Old Rigveda goes back beyond 2500 BCE, since spoked wheels were only invented in the second half of the third millennium BCE.
4. "The words for flora and fauna common across Indo-European languages are of animals and plants that flourish in temperate rather than tropical or subtropical climates. For example, words for the birch tree (Sanskrit: भूर्ज, bhūrjá) are similar in dozens of Indo-European tongues, while India’s national tree provides no Indo-European root. In fact, most European languages use a variety of 'banyan', a modern term derived from observing Indian traders (or banias) conducting business in the generous shade of these trees."
Indian writers supporting the AIT are particularly notorious for the embarrassing habit of citing old and outdated arguments which were common two centuries ago and have now generally been given a quiet burial in the west. It is now recognized that common words for flora and fauna in different branches of Indo-European languages are simply based on the flora and fauna actually found in the historical areas of those branches. It is known now that most Indo-European branches have common words for "temperate" flora and fauna simply because these are found over the entire area from Europe to India, while "tropical or subtropical" are found in India but not found in Europe and so any common names simply died out in Europe in the course of time. Flora and fauna found only in Europe do not have a common name in India either, and Witzel explains this by telling us that they "have simply not been used any longer and have died out" (WITZEL 2005:374). And the Gypsy or Romany languages, which are known to have spread out from India just over 1000 years ago have also not preserved any Indian word for "tropical or subtropical" flora and fauna, including the "banyan" tree cited by Shahane.
But now, it is being recognized that there are, in fact, a few common names for "tropical or subtropical" flora and fauna which have survived and which now directly point towards an IHT (Indian Homeland Theory). The most glaring example is the common word for "elephant/ivory", which has become a big headache for western supporters of the AIT: with the proto-form *leHbho-nth- or *ḷHbho-nth- is found in at least four branches: Indo-Aryan íbha-, Greek eléphas (Mycenean Greek erepa), Italic (Latin) ebur, and Hittite laḫpa-. With a transfer of meaning to "camel", it is found in two more branches: Germanic (e.g. Gothic) ulbandus, and Slavic (e.g. Old Church Slavic) velibodŭ.
5. There are persistent ludicrous references, in his 2018 article, to what "Hindutvavadis" would have wanted, or what they believe, in the matter of genetic data (specifically R1a) in the Aryan debate:
Speaking about the Rakhigarhi DNA, he tells us: "one such haplogroup, known as R1a, has become integral to the fierce debate about India’s ancient history. An individual who died some 4,500 years ago in Rakhigarhi in present day Haryana is entangled in the R1a controversy. Political pressure delayed an eagerly awaited study of that man’s genetic make-up, but it finally seems ready for print, and its findings were summarised in India Today by the magazine’s Managing Editor Kai Friese. Friese’s article was less about what the researchers found than what they didn’t find. What they didn’t find was the marker R1a. Had that marker been detected, Hindutvavadis would have been ecstatic. They would have felt vindicated in their belief that the Indus Valley people were no different from the Vedic people".
"The presence of R1a would have undercut the idea that a migration originating in the steppes brought Sanskrit to India at a time when the Indus Valley civilisation was in decline."
"In the Hindutva view, Indian horse riders migrated to the steppes, taking with them R1a and the mother of Indo-European languages, not the other way round."
Well, we must be grateful to Shahane for telling us what would have made us go ecstatic, and what our view is. Who will know the Hindutva viewpoint better than this clairvoyant? None of us knew that Savarkar, who coined the word Hindutva, was a votary, and in fact the originator, of the Out-of-India Theory. Probably Savarkar himself did not know it. But this revelation is made by Shahane in an article on 10/8/2016 in (where else?) scroll.in, entitled "Despite Hindutva twists, it's clear that the Indus Valley flowered before the Vedas were composed": thanks to him, we now know that "The Out of India thesis originated with Hindu nationalists such as Savarkar and Golwalkar"!!!
If we allow them to do so, the AIT Brigade will keep us engaged in discussing such trivia. Let us now see that the only item that will be discussed before any other in the Aryan Debate is the Chronology and Geography of the Rigveda.
V. POST-SCRIPT: Indus Script at Keezhadi.
At the last minute I have to add this postscript to the article because today, 20/9/2019, Scroll.in has just published an article claiming that the archaeological findings in Keezhadi in Tamilnadu have revealed a continuation with the Indus Script. The article entitled "Tamil Nadu: Artefacts dated to 580 BCE hint at script continuity from Indus Valley Civilization" with the sub-title "The findings at Keezhadi, near Madurai, push back the date of Tamil Brahmi script, which is the precursor to modern Tamil, by another century", tells us: "Artefacts found at the archaeological site in Keezhadi, about 12 km from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, have been dated to 580 BCE, with “graffiti marks” on them pointing to a possible continuity in script from the Indus Valley Civilisation. The findings were made in a report by a team that conducted excavations at the site. The report is significant because Dravidian movement politicians in Tamil Nadu have long claimed that the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation could be ancestors of the modern Tamils. However, archaeological and genetic evidence to establish the link was not strong so far. None of the three earlier major excavations in the region had provided strong evidence of an ancient urban settlement – a significant feature of the Indus Valley Civilisation."
On the warpath, the AIT-mongerers in scroll.in seem to be in a tearing hurry to do what they would probably choose to describe as "driving the last nail into the coffin of the OIT" - one more in an unending series of last nails! However, their present attempt raises many curious points.
The Keezhadi excavations had certainly uncovered an important part of our great heritage in Tamil Nadu, and this predictably resulted in a tussle between two extremist ideologues in India: the Dravidianists in the South for whom the AIT forms the base of their separatist tendencies, and the extreme Vedicists in the North who view any part of our native Indian heritage not derived from the Vedas as something to be looked at askance. I have already dealt with this issue in an earlier article in Swarajya published on 4/4/2017:
Now the two recent genetic reports have suddenly heightened the adrenaline in the hearts of these ardent AIT-warriors, and this article on Keezhadi is one of the results of this. But what are the facts in the case behind the venomous innuendo in the article? The main point made seems to be that the report by the archaeologists conducting the excavation shows that "56 potsherds were recovered from the excavation conducted by the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology, with inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi, the precursor to modern Tamil. 'The recent scientific dates obtained for Keezhadi findings push back the date of Tamil-Brahmi to another century i.e. 6th century BCE,' the report said." Great news, but does it show what the scroll.in article is claiming?
The article goes on to quote the report: "'One kind of script that survived between the disappearance of Indus script and the emergence of Brahmi script is called as graffiti marks by the scholars,' the report said. 'These graffiti marks are the one evolved or transformed from Indus script and served as precursor for the emergence of Brahmi script. Therefore, these graffiti marks cannot be set aside as mere scratches. Like Indus script, this also could not be deciphered till date.'".
The writer of this article in scroll.in, Sruthisagar Yamunan, draws a connection between the "graffiti marks" on the Keezhadi pottery and the Indus script, presumably on the above note in the report. This must be the only, or most explicit, such claim in the report, or else we would have had more explicit quotes. We also have a quote about the Tamil-Brahmi alphabet: "The report said: 'Tamil-Brahmi letters as part of inscriptions are found engraved on the shoulder portions of the earthen vessels. In general, these letters were inscribed when the pot is in leather condition or were inscribed/engraved after the pot became dry. The letters engraved in leather condition could be made only by the potters at the time making pots. In the case of Keezhadi examples, they were all post-firing in nature and were engraved by the owners after purchasing the pots. The representation of various styles of writing also suggests this view. It clearly suggests that the literacy level of the contemporary society that survived in 6th century BCE.'"
Note that while it is perfectly true that the Brahmi script must ultimately be derived from the Indus script, that is not what the western academicians are saying: they claim that the Brahmi script had a totally different origin (and try to search for that origin in scripts of West Asia). This report at least shows or concedes that "These graffiti marks are the one evolved or transformed from Indus script and served as precursor for the emergence of Brahmi script".
But this article (and possibly this report also, if the writer of this article is interpreting it as intended by the archaeologists concerned) raises a very basic question: Are the writings found on the potsherds in the Tamil-Brahmi script which can be read, or are they in the form of "graffiti marks" which, "Like Indus script, […] also could not be deciphered till date.'"? They cannot be both.
If they are "graffiti marks", then they cannot be read. There are potsherds with graffiti marks all over India. They are all precursor to the different forms of the Brahmi script used in different parts of India to record the local language: the Ashokan-Brahmi script records an Indo-Aryan language. And the Tamil-Brahmi script records a Dravidian language.
The undeciphered graffiti marks on potsherds in different parts of the country, representing the precursor forms of the different fully developed Brahmi scripts, will, unless the evidence after they are deciphered shows otherwise, likewise record both Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages.
So, even though they cannot be read, it will be logical to assume that the graffiti marks on potsherds in Tamilnadu record a Dravidian language.
But how does all this show that the Harappan people spoke a Dravidian language, until the graffiti marks are deciphered and read (obviously showing a Dravidian language in Tamilnadu), and then on the basis of this decipherment, the Harappan script is also deciphered and proves to be a Dravidian language?
Just rhetoric and media frenzy cannot prove or disprove historical points. It will be better if chauvinistic tendencies and venom are kept out of the debate. To repeat what I have said umpteen times: unless and until the Harappan script is deciphered and proves the Harappan language to be non-Indo-European, the only valid evidence to decide the language of the Harappan civilization is the data for the chronology and geography of the Rigveda, which presents an irrefutable case showing that the entire Harappan area, as well as areas to the far east of it were purely Indo-European language speaking areas from well before 3000 BCE.
It is up to us to decide whether we are going to fall into the different verbal traps being set up by the AIT-jihadists (nothing to do with Islam or Muslims, Mr. Sanghvi) or whether we are going to force them to discuss only, and only, this chronological and geographical evidence.
[Incidentally, note the scientific precision of the scholars at scroll.in: the article ends with a note in italics: "An earlier version of this article wrongly mentioned the date of the artefacts as 583 BCE." So the editors at scroll.in can go to this high degree of precision where even a difference of three years shows up in their carbon analysis! Carbon-dating experts from all over the world must be stunned at this super-advancement in technique and analysis]