Myth of Aryan Invasion of India - Dr. David Frawley.

The Post-Colonial World

The Aryan Invasion Theory

Basis of the Aryan Invasion Theory

Aryan as Race or Language

The Development of the Aryan Invasion Idea

Mechanics of the Aryan Invasion

Harappan Civilization

Migration Rather than Invasion

The Rediscovery of the Sarasvati River

The Vedic Image of the Ocean

Horses, Chariots and Iron

Destroyers of Cities

Vedic and Indus Religions

The So-called Racial War in the Vedas

Vedic Peoples

The Aryan/Dravidian Divide

Vedic Kings and Empires

Vedic Astronomical Lore

Painted Grey Ware

Aryans in the Ancient Middle East

Indus Writing


Indian Civilization, an Indigenous Development

The New Model

Ancient History Revised

Political and Social Ramifications


The Aryan Invasion Theory

The main idea used to interpret the ancient history of India, which we still find in history books today, is the theory of the Aryan invasion. According to this account, which I will briefly summarize, India was invaded and conquered by nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes (Aryans) from Central Asia around 1500-1000 BC. They overran an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Indian civilization. In the process they never gave the indigenous people whom they took their civilization from the proper credit but eradicated all evidence of their conquest. All the Aryans really added of their own was their language (Sanskrit, of an Indo-European type) and their priestly cult of caste that was to become the bane of later Indic society.

The so-called Aryans, the original people behind the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, were reinterpreted by this modern theory not as sages and seers - the rishis and yogis of Hindu historical tradition - but as primitive plunderers. Naturally this cast a shadow on the Hindu religion and culture as a whole.

The so-called pre-Aryan or Dravidian civilization is said to be indicated by the large urban ruins of what has been called the "Indus Valley culture" (as most of its initial sites were on the Indus river), or "Harappa and Mohenjodaro," after its two initially largest sites. In this article we will call this civilization the "Harappan" as its sites extend far beyond the Indus river. It is now dated from 3100-1900 BC. By the invasion theory Indic civilization is proposed to have been the invention of a pre-Vedic civilization and the Vedas, however massive their literature, are merely the products of a dark age following its destruction. Only the resurgence of the pre-Vedic culture in post-Vedic times is given credit for the redevelopment of urban civilization in India.

The Aryan invasion theory has become the basis of the view that Indian history has primarily been one of invasions from the West, with little indigenous coming from the subcontinent itself either in terms of populations or cultural innovations. The history of India appears as a series of outside invasions: Aryans, Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Huns, Arabs, Turks, Portuguese, British, and so on. Following this logic, it has even led to the idea that the Dravidians also originally were outsiders. The same logic has resulted in the proposition of a Dravidian migration into India from Central Asia, a few thousand years before the Aryan invasion, overrunning the original aboriginal people of the region (now thought to be represented by the tribals of the area). Though this "Dravidian invasion" has not been brought into the same prominence as the Aryan invasion theory it shows the same bias that for civilization we must look to Western peoples and cultures and not to India as any separate center of civilization.

The Aryan invasion theory is not a mere academic matter, of concern only to historians. In the colonial era the British used it to divide India along north-south, Aryan-Dravidian lines, an interpretation various south Indian politicians have taken up as the cornerstone for their political projection of Dravidian identity. The Aryan invasion theory is the basis of the Marxist critique of Indian history where caste struggle takes the place of class struggle with the so-called pre-Aryan indigenous peoples turned into the oppressed masses and the invading Aryans turned into the oppressors, the corrupt ruling elite. Christian and Islamic missionaries have used the theory to denigrate the Hindu religion as a product of barbaric invaders and promote their efforts to convert Hindus. Every sort of foreign ideology has employed it to try to deny India any real indigenous civilization so that the idea of the rule of foreign governments or ideas becomes acceptable. Even today it is not uncommon to see this theory appearng in Indian newspapers to uphold modern, generally Marxist or anti-Hindu political views. From it comes the idea that there is really no cohesive Indian identity or Hindu religion but merely a collection of the various peoples and cultures who have come to the subcontinent, generally from the outside. Therefore a reexamination of this issue is perhaps the most vital intellectual concern for India today.

The Aryan invasion theory was similarly applied to Europe and the Middle East. It proposed that the Indo-Europeans were invaders into these regions in the second millennium BC as well. Thereby it became the basis for maintaining a Near Eastern view of civilization, which places the earliest civilization in Mesopotamia and tries to derive all others from it. Thereby the invasion theory has been used to try to subordinate Eastern religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism, to Western religions like Christianity and Islam, which are supposed to represent the original civilization of the world from Adam, the Biblical original man, who came from Mesopotamia. This is the case even though the ancient civilization which has been found in Mesopotamia resembles far more the Hindu, with its Gods and Goddesses and temple worship, than it does these later aniconic traditions.

The Aryan invasion theory has been used for political and religious advantage in a way that is perhaps unparalleled for any historical idea. Changing it will thereby alter the very fabric of how we interpret ourselves and our civilization East and West. It is bound to meet with resistance, not merely on rational grounds but to protect the ideologies which have used it to their benefit. Even when evidence to the contrary is presented, it is unlikely that it will be given up easily. The evidence which has come up that has disproved it has led to the reformulation of the theory along different lines, altering the aspects of it that have become questionable but not giving up its core ideas.

Yet with the weight of much new evidence today, the Aryan invasion theory no longer has any basis to stand on, however it is formulated. There is no real evidence for any Aryan invasion - whether archeological, literary or linguistic - and no scholar working in the field, even those who still accept some outside oRigin for

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