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Indo-Aryan Migration Theory: A Hoax

Updated on August 22, 2014

Original homeland of the Vedic people has been a matter of great controversy since nineteenth century. Various theories have been vehemently proposed to prove Vedic homeland either being in India or outside of India. First of all what is the special about Vedic people to get engaged in the search of their original habitat? Let us not forget “Original Habitat” in itself is a misguiding concept. There is nothing original about any human race. If people are hyped about Vedic’s because it was an oldest known religion codified in Veda’s, again they are wrong. Because Vedic, as we have observed, is neither oldest religion nor Veda’s are the oldest scriptures.

Did Vedic’s came to India from abroad? Eurasia? Did Vedic’s have migrated from India to the west to spread language and culture? Answers to both the questions have been attempted to propose in variety of ways. How can be either answer true when the very foundation of hypothesis in itself is wrong?

It is broadly assumed that for the spread of Vedic religion and so-called Indo-Aryan languages the migration of the people belonging to that certain stock is a first requirement. No matter where was their original habitat, as per the migration theorists, migration is the precondition for the spread of cultural and linguistic elements.

For migration theorists we can raise few simple questions:

  1. Why do migrations in unison or in batches take place?
  2. Are migrants are superior over the local populace where they migrate or the things might be otherwise?
  3. Is origin of languages owed to the people living in particular region or is it owed to the geographical peculiarities of the region they live in?
  4. Is the migration essential for the spread of culture, languages or religion?

There are so many questions those can be raised on this issue. However in this article let’s deal with the above questions. Migrations in not a new phenomena occurring in the human world. From the ancient times human race has been migrating from one place to other in the search of the food. Many a times he has abandoned his habitats because of the drastic climatic changes or epidemics. Some migrations has been taken place in the quest of expanding empires or because they were forcibly driven out by the enemy.

The basic principle behind spread of so-called Indo-Aryan languages was attributed to the migrations of the Aryans. The 19th century scholars believed that the language of Rig Veda was most archaic and that date could be placed back to the Bronze Age. The similarities between European and Indian languages made them believe that some time in the ancient past the group of Proto Indo-European languages speaking people must have been settled at some place from where they took different directions to move on for unknown reasons.

However to decide the original homeland of the Aryan’s the lack of any archeological proof was a great hurdle. Still the Migrationists proposed various homelands of Aryans, right from Russia, Central Asia to India (Punjab). Some of the theories are listed bellow;

  1. It is proposed, from Russia, people of Andronovo culture migrated to Anatolia, Iran and South Asia. The theorists claim that the Indo-Iranian people were grouping of ethnic groups, such as Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani people. Sistashta culture is supposed to be predecessor of Andronovo culture inherited by proto Indo-Europeans. The migrations from the Andronovo culture have been thought to be in two waves.
  2. First wave consisted of migration into Anatolia, founding Hittite Empire and Mittani kingdom and a migration south-eastward over Hindu Kush into north India.
  3. Second wave per Parpola is Iranian wave. According to the scholars Iranian’s first reached Black Sea in 8th century BC to finally settle down into the Iranian plateau.
  4. According to Dr. Rajesh Kocchar, there have been three waves;

a. The "Murghamu" (BAMC) related people who entered Baluchistan at Pirak, Mehrgarh south cemetery, etc. and later merged with the post-urban Harappans during the late Harappans Jhukar phase (2000-1800 BCE);

b. The Swat IV that co-founded the Harappan Cemetery H phase in Punjab (2000-1800 BCE);

c. And the Rigvedic Indo-Aryans of Swat V that later absorbed the Cemetery H people and gave rise to the Painted Grey Ware culture (to 1400 BCE).

5. Shrikant Talageri vehemently argues the opposite. According to him original habitat of Aryans was east Punjab, beyond Sarasvati (Ghaggar) River from where the clan of Sudasa (Puru) migrated towards west. From Afghanistan Indo-Aryans spread to Europe.

6. From linguistic point of view many mainstream scholars propose the Proto Indo-European homeland in the vicinity of the Black Sea.

From above brief we get a general picture of the migration theories. The basic assumption here is no matter from where but unless there was migration there wouldn’t have been spread of so-called Indo-European languages. But, as we have raised couple of question above, what made Indo-Europeans to migrate from their original habitat? What was their population? What culture or language existed wherever they migrated? If they migrated in various batches taking independent directions, how many people consisted in every batch? Can there be such a great ethnic diversity in a region where IE language speaking people were originally situated?

The first fact should be noted that the geographical spread of the Andronovo culture so far was limited. There have been no archeological evidences indicating sever draughts, epidemic or any violent war forcing out Indo-Europeans from their habitat.

The only indicative evidence is the existence of chariots. Rig Veda describes of spoked chariots and so the Mittani, Iranians and so on. It has been assumed that the Andronovo people invented chariots. Even so, is migration required to have an art of making chariot to spread? Were Andronovo people were cut off from rest of the neighboring world for not to have come into the contact with them?

If so, then it would be a funny and illogical assumption. Aryans used chariots doesn’t necessarily make them inventors of the chariot. The useful inventions are adapted and spread. Looking at the Russian Steppes to Anatolia, we can find it has been the populated region since ancient times engaged in variety of the trade with each other.

Indus people traded with Mesopotamia, Turkmenistan, Iran and other regions by sea rout and land rout as well. There are ample of proofs available of such trade and trade routes. It does mean that the regions were already populated and were flourishing. If Indus people were not from Indo-European speaking stock, as the migrations had not yet taken place, what was the languages of the people residing in that vast regions?

The Indio-European migration period is roughly estimated at about 2000 BC from Andronovo culture. Period of mature Indus culture is estimated 3200 BC till 1750 BC. Indus culture predates so-called Aryan culture by 1100 years. If Indo-Europeans were still settled in their homeland, with whom Indus people were trading and in which language they exchanged their thoughts?

Same applies to the Talageri’s Indian Origin Theory. As we have seen the migrations are not the unforeseen phenomenon in the history of the human race. But the mass exodus, without leaving any footprints of the culture or language at the original homeland is something implausible.

CULTURE

If migration theory is considered true the following questions arise:

  1. Hittites, Mittani’s those are thought to be the part of Indo-European migrants used cuneiform script exclusively. Indo-Aryans were unaware of any kind of script. They even didn’t have cognate for writing and script. Had they been migrating from one stock, would there be such difference?
  2. Except Persians and Indo-Aryans the religious practices seem to be far different in the rest of the assumed Indo-European world. Mostly pagan religion was practiced by the people of those times. Why there would be such a big difference in religious ideas of the people belonging to single original habitat?
  3. How come that the religious ideas, though many superficial similarities, fundamentally differ between Persians and Indo-Aryans?
  4. The Greeks too were pagan, worshiping variety of the gods with independent cosmogony. Had they all been from same stock of the people, cosmogonies wouldn’t have been that different.
  5. Fire sacrifice is the main religious ritual of the Zoroastrian and Vedic people. Why there has been no spread of this religious practice in rest of the Indo-European world?

If we carefully probe into the above questions, we can come to the conclusion that the Indo-European migration theory in itself is faulty. There was no migration in India or out of India. The people largely lived in the regions from pre-historical times as they are mostly living there. The spread of languages has not coursed from one to other but there has been constant exchange, modifications and alterations. One language cannot claim the origin or mother of other languages as the language is an innate need of human mind and the geographical conditions determine how it develops and is pronounced. One should not search for the origin, but the dialectic science that evolves the language with the materialistic need of any society.

Religious ideas and mythologies too as well travel from places to places amusing people. They are adapted, modified or altered to suit the local cultures. We can see from the instance of Pancha Tantra, how the stories have traveled to the far west adorning local textures.

Migration theories are outcome of superiority complex. Indo-Europeans have carefully nourished it to prove their superiority.

One must not forget that before agriculture was invented human being was nomadic, having no emotional attachment with the land. Still his nomadic life was limited to the certain known periphery. After the agriculture was known to him, he settled almost permanently in the fertile regions. In case of sever draughts or famines people have deserted the original settlements but have come back when the situation was right. If enemy had driven them out, we have so many instances that after regaining power people have come back to win back their lands.

This does not mean that there have not been migrations. The migrations have been in troops, batches or individual for variety of reasons such as to test destiny or expansion of the kingdoms. For example Scythian's had migrated to India establishing their kingdoms. They were of Iranian descend. But did all the Scythian's migrate to India? The answer is no. Even if some of the migrate Scythians stayed back here, they got absorbed in local culture in the course of the time without leaving any major cultural or linguistic impact. The migrants normally do tend to adopt local culture, no matter even if they are victorious. However as far as migration theories of so-called Indo-European can be dismissed as an fanciful imagination of the scholars to amuse modern mankind.

We should not forget here that Genetics too doesn't support migration theory from any side. We need to abandon unscientific theories those still are haunting modern world!

Then main question will arise, who were the Vedic people to whom mostly scholars refer as “Aryan’s” and what was their original habitat? Since we have dismissed migration theory, we need to explore how Vedic religion would have entered into India. Migration of Vedic people cannot be the reason for spread of the Vedic religion in India. We shall discuss on this in next installment

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