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


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the Vedic people (the so-called Aryans), accepts the theory in its classical form of the violent invasion and destruction of the Harappan cities by the incoming Aryans.

Four main points have emerged, which this article will elaborate:

The main center of Harappan civilization is the newly rediscovered Sarasvati river of Vedic fame. While the Indus river has about three dozen important Harappan sites, the Sarasvati has over five hundred. The drying up of the Sarasvati brought about the end of the Harappan civilization around 1900 BC. As the Vedas know of this river they cannot be later than the terminal point for the river or different than the Harappans who flourished on its banks. Harappan culture should be renamed "the Sarasvati culture" and the Vedic culture must have been in India long before 2000 BC.

No evidence of any significant invading populations have been found in ancient India, nor have any destroyed cities or massacred peoples been unearthed. The so-called massacre of Mohenjodaro that Wheeler, an early excavator of the site claimed to find, has been found to be only a case of imagination gone wild. The sites were abandoned along with the ecological changes that resulted in the drying up of the Sarasvati.

So-called Aryan cultural traits like horses, iron, cattle-rearing or fire worship have been found to be either indigenous developments (like iron) or to have existed in Harappan and pre-Harappan sites (like horses and fire worship). No special Aryan culture in ancient India can be differentiated apart from the indigenous culture.

A more critical reading of Vedic texts reveals that Harappan civilization, the largest of the ancient world, finds itself reflected in Vedic literature, the largest literature of the ancient world.(*1) Vedic literature was previously not related to any significant civilization but merely to "the destruction of Harappa." How the largest literature of the ancient world was produced by illiterate nomadic peoples as they destroyed one of the great civilizations of the ancient world is one of the absurdities that the Aryan invasion leads to, particularly when the urban literate Harappans are not given any literature of their own remaining.

Putting these points together we now see that the Vedas show the same development of culture, agriculture and arts and crafts as Harappan and pre-Harappan culture. Vedic culture is located in the same region as the Harappan, north India centered on the Sarasvati river. The abandonment of the invasion theory solves the literary riddle. Putting together Vedic literature, the largest of the ancient world, with the Harappan civilization, the largest of the ancient world, a picture emerges of ancient India as the largest civilization of the ancient world with the largest and best preserved literature, a far more logical view, and one that shows India as a consistent center from which civilization has spread over the last five thousand years.

Therefore it is necessary to set aside the discredited idea of the Aryan invasion and rewrite the textbooks in light of the new model, which is an organic and indigenous development of civilization in India from 6500 BC with no break in continuity or evidence of significant intrusive populations such as the invasion theory requires.(*2) Ancient India now appears not as a broken civilization deriving its impetus from outside invaders but as the most continuous and consistent indigenous development of civilization in the ancient world, whose literary record, the ancient Vedas, remains with us today.

Based on such new evidence an entire group of scholars has arisen from both India and the West who reject the Aryan invasion theory on various grounds considering the evidence of archeology, skeletal remains, geography, mathematics, astronomy, linguistics and so on. Such individuals include S.R. Rao, Navaratna Rajaram, Subhash Kak, James Schaffer, Mark Kenoyer, S.P. Gupta, Bhagwan Singh, B.G. Sidharth, K.D. Sethna, K.D. Abhyankar, P.V. Pathak, Srikant Talageri, S. Kalyanaraman, B.B. Chakravorty, Georg Feuerstein, and myself, to name a few.(*3) Their views generally support those of earlier Indian scholars and yogis, like Sri Aurobindo or B.G. Tilak, who proposed a Vedic nature for the civilization of India going back to early ancient times.

The few scholars today who continue to hold an outside oRigin for the Aryans have also generally given up the invasion/destruction idea, though they may still be proposing an outside oRigin for the Aryans. They are proposing an Aryan migration, diffusion, or mixing with indigenous people which is quite different from the violent and intrusive form of the original Aryan invasion idea (note Romila Thapar in this regard *4). Some of these scholars accept an Aryan element in the Harappan culture itself, owing to Vedic traits like fire altars which have been found in Harappan sites, though they still may not regard the Harappan culture as a whole as Aryan.

Yet whether the Vedic people were the original people of India, which is the majority view, or whether they migrated gradually into India, the image of the invading and destructive Aryans is totally discredited and should be removed. The image of the Indo-Aryans as proto-fascists, which is how the Aryan invasion theory has been used to represent them, is totally false. The idea misrepresents Hindu-Vedic culture, which has traditionally been peaceful and never invaded any country, inflames Dravidian sentiments, and casts a shadow of violence on ancient India for no real reason.

In this article I will summarize the main points which demonstrate the invalidity of the invasion theory. This is a complex subject which I have dealt with in depth in my book GODS, SAGES AND KINGS: VEDIC LIGHT ON ANCIENT CIVILIZATION (Salt Lake City USA: Passage Press, 1991 and New Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass 1993), for those interested in a more extensive examination.