Aryan invasion theory

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==Hermeneutics== ==Hermeneutics==
-A major hurdle with the [[hermeneutics]] of the [[Vedas|Vedic]] age is the complexity of the scripture and the Vedic language itself. At the least, a passing knowledge of Vedic [[Sanskrit]] is required and scholars who rely solely on translations inherit mistranslations and any prejudices that may be present in the translator's commentaries. Fortunately, the [[Rig Veda]] is easy to understand with some knowledge of classical Sanskrit. 
-A major argument offered against identifying the [[Indus Valley civilization]] with a continuous, indigenous Vedic civilization is that the society described in the Vedas is primarily a pastoral one, whereas the Indus Valley civilization was heavily urbanized, and that few of the elements of such an urban civilization (e.g., temple structures, sewage systems) are described in the Vedas. However, proponents of continuity note that the Rig Veda does contain some phrases referring to elements of an urban civilization: ''city's lord'' [Rig Veda 1:173], ''shrine'' [Rig Veda 9:113], ''ship with a hundred oars'' [Rig Veda 1:116] and ''iron forts'' [10:101]. Frequent references to the ocean and large tracts of water are also suggested as indicating the idea of continuity, since the most obvious route for IE-speakers to have entered India by would have been through the sea-less inland areas of [[Afghanistan]]; although the steppes of [[Russia]] (often proposed as an origin for Indo-European) border on two seas, and [[Central Asia]] contains two seas, proponents of continuity argue that the people would have forgotten such ideas on their route. They also note that a primarily pastoral society does not exclude the existence of urbanisation, especially since the Vedic books appear to have been composed over a long period of gradual change, rather than being a snapshot of society at one particular moment. 
-Proponents of continuity state that evidence in the Vedas points to a considerably earlier dating of the text. As an example, they argue that the positions of stars described in the Vedas occurred in [[3500 BC|3500]] to [[4000 BC]] and point out that there is no account in the text of an invasion, of a great migration, or of an ancestral homeland in Central Asia.  
-There is, as well, considerable description of a river [[Vedic Saraswati River|Saraswati]]. Recent geological evidence (taken from satellite photographs) has uncovered the existence of a dry riverbed — the [[Hakra River]] — going through the [[Punjab]] area in the Indian subcontinent.  
-A few historians believe this river is the Saraswati described in the Vedas. Many of the archaeological Indus Valley sites lie along the remains of this riverbed, suggesting that the [[Indus Valley civilization]] may have flourished between these two rivers. Before or around [[1900 BC]], however, the Hakra river appears to have dried up (due to earthquakes and the shifting of the path of the tributary Yamuna river, which turned from feeding the Hakra to feeding the Ganges), causing the decline of the [[Indus Valley civilization]]. 
-Opponents of continuity argue that the identification of the Saraswati with the Hakra would lead to inconsistencies, and that the Saraswati is very probably a particular river in Afghanistan, which is known to have had a similar name. They also point to the linguistic and religious similarities between the [[Veda]]s and early [[Iran]]ian sacred literature such as the [[Avesta (Zoroastrianism)|Avesta]], as well as the earlier [[Mitanni]]an kings of [[Syria]]. The languages and the names of gods are very similar and both involve the ritual drinking of [[Soma]]. Proponents of continuity retort that it could have been Indian people that moved from India to Iran and interacted with, or founded, the Zoroastrians. 
-The issue might be settled definitively by the [[decipher]]ing of the many [[seal (device)|seals]] found at Indus Valley sites, which are written with an unknown script. If the language of these seals turned out to be Dravidian or Munda (or any other non-IE language group), this would confirm the theory that an indigenous culture was supplanted by an outside one. (However note the adoption of [[Aramaic]] as the official language of the historically IE speaking Persian empire without any such invasion/migration). If it were Indo-Aryan it would support the alternative claim. What the script says would also be of great significance, shedding new light on the Indus Valley culture and possibly on ancient movements within the [[Indian subcontinent]]. However, the [[Indus Valley script]] remains undeciphered; several decipherments have been proposed — the best-known being Parpola's which interprets it as Dravidian, although some others interpret it as an early form of Sanskrit — but none has been widely accepted among scholars, and the sparseness of the corpus makes it difficult to test such claims. Many writers now suggest that it may not have been a form of writing after all, but simply a set of signs []. 
. .

Revision as of 18:00, 21 Nov 2020

Indo-European languages
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Language | Society | Religion
Kurgan | Yamna | BMAC | Aryan
Indo-European studies

The Aryan invasion theory is a historical theory first put forth by the German Indologist Friedrich Max Müller and others in the mid nineteenth century in order to provide a historical explanation for the existence of Indo-European languages in India. According to the most common version of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), the Aryans originated in South Russia and Eastern Ukraine, from where they invaded or migrated to Iran, India, Central Asia, and Europe.

The theory itself has a complex history — initial acceptance, subsequent modifications, and currently new challenges in terms of counter theories. No single conclusive theory now prevails. Rather, combinations of theories are generally accepted.



Genetics and Archaeogenetics

The recent advances in Archaeogenetics have some interesting results for the Aryan invasion theory but are still in the early stages. Genetic study shows that Indian population as a whole has little similarity to other areas of supposed Indo-European settlement, indicating there was no mass settlement. Indian maternal DNA is generally similar right across the country indicating that the mass of population has been in place there for a long period. [1] (

More recent results (Kivsild et al. 2003b, see also Cordeaux et al. 2003) show that the combined results from mtDNA, Y-chromosome and autosomal genes indicate that "Indian tribal and caste populations derive largely from the same genetic heritage of Pleistocene southern and western Asians and have received limited gene flow from external regions since the Holocene."

The Haplogroup R1a has been previously linked with the ancient Kurgans and/or Indo-Europeans of southern Russia/Ukraine, who supposedly migrated to Europe, central Asia and India between 3000-1000 BC. (Passarino et al. 2001; Quintana-Murci et al. 2001; Wells et al. 2001). However, the high frequency of R1a found in Punjab and in the South Indian Chenchu tribe, together with a highter R1a-associated STR diversity in India and Iran compared with Europe and central Asia, indicates that R1 and R1a differentiation may have originated in South or West Asia.(Kivisild 2003b) The defining M17 mutation has also been found in several South Indian tribes (Kivisild 2003b, Ramana et al. 2001, Wells et al. 2001). Stephen Oppenheimer, who reports upon the results of the Human Genome Diversity Project in his book "The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey out of Africa, (p.152)" comments these findings with the conclusion that: "For me and for Toomas Kivisild, South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of M17 and his ancestors; (...),thus undermining any theory of M17 as a marker of a `male Aryan Invasion of India'." Oppenheimer further believes that it is highly suggestive that India is the birthplace of the Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups which he calls the Eurasian Eves. He believes that it is highly probable that nearly all human maternal lineages in Europe (and similarly in East Asia) descended from only four mtDNA lines that originated in South Asia 50'000-10'000 years ago.

The neolithic spread of farmers to Europe from Levant/Middle East has also been linked to 12f2 (haplogroup 9) and the markers M35 (haplogroup 21) and M201. But while M35 is present in Europe, Anatolia, South Caucasus and Iran, Indians generally do not have the Alu insertion in their Y chromosomes. The lack of YAP+chromosomes in India suggests that M35 appeared in the Middle East only after a migration from Iran to India had taken place, but earlier than the later migration of near- and middle eastern farmers to Europe. (Kivisild 2003a)

Since virtually all central asian haplogroups of M seem to belong to the Mongolian, and not the Indian type of haplogroup M, this indicates that no large-scale migration from the present Turkish-speaking populations of Central Asia to India could have occurred. (Kivisild 2000)

According to a study by Bamshad et al. (2001), higher caste Telugus have a higher frequency of haplogroup 3(R1a1) than lower castes, Haplogroup 3 is also characteristic of eastern Europeans. However, further studies have revealed that a high frequency of haplogroup 3 occurs in about half of the male population of northwestern India and is also frequent in western Bengal. These results, together with the fact that haplogroup 3 is much less frequent in Iran and Anatolia than it is in India, indicates that haplogroup 3 among high caste Telugus must not necessarly have originated from eastern Europeans. The high diversity of haplogroup 3 and 9 in India suggests that these haplogroups may have originated in India. (Kivisild 2003a)




Influence in theology

Certain modern theories of the origins of Hinduism and Buddhism as they are known today are based around the Aryan invasion theory. In particular there are theories that Soma and Amrita were plants which were used by tribes in the Russian steppes; that they were essential to the Aryan religion but did not grow in India; and that this absence led to the development of "spiritual" versions of the substances and a more organized religious system. Differences between 'Aryan' (north Indian) and 'Dravidian' (south Indian) religious practices have also been explained by reference to the theory.

Some Hindu thinkers have reacted against the theory on spiritual rather than historical grounds, claiming it to be 'materialistic'. Sri Aurobindo denies the Aryan invasion theory in his works. He writes: "But the indications in the Veda on which this theory of a recent Aryan invasion is built, are very scanty in quantity and uncertain in their significance. There is no actual mention of any such invasion..."(Sri Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda (Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1971; pp. 23-4)




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