Indigenous Aryans

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The notion of Indigenous Aryans posits that speakers of Indo-Aryan languages are "indigenous" to the Indian subcontinent.

The "Indigenous Aryans" position may entail an Indian origin of Indo-European languages,[1] and in recent years, the concept has been increasingly conflated with an "Out of India" origin of the Indo-European language family. This contrasts with the mainstream model of Indo-Aryan migration which posits that Indo-Aryan tribes migrated to India from Central Asia—the Kurgan hypothesis.

Michael Witzel identifies three major types of revisionist scenario:[2]

  1. a "mild" version that insists on the indigeneity of the Rigvedic Aryans to the North-Western region of Indian subcontinent in the tradition of Aurobindo and Dayananda;
  2. the "out of India" school that posits India as the Proto-Indo-European homeland, originally proposed in the 18th century, revived by the Hindutva sympathizer Koenraad Elst (1999), and further popularized within Hindu nationalism by Shrikant Talageri (2000);
  3. the position that all the world's languages and civilizations derive from India, represented e.g. by David Frawley.

Historiographical context

Indigenous Aryans is usually taken to imply that the people of the Harappan civilization were linguistically Indo-Aryans.[1] In any "Indigenous Aryan" scenario, speakers of Indo-European languages must have left India at some point prior to the 10th century BC, when first mention of Iranian peoples is made in Assyrian records, but likely before the 16th century BC, before the emergence of the Yaz culture which is often identified as a Proto-Iranian culture.[3]

Proponents of "indigenous Aryan" scenarios typically base their understanding on interpretations of the Rigveda, the oldest surviving Indo-Aryan text, which they date to the 3rd millennium BC (in some cases much earlier),[citation needed] in particular based on arguments in involving identifying the Sarasvati River with the Ghaggar-Hakra River and Harappan civilization, the supposed lack of genetic and archaeological evidence present to support invasion by "Indo-Aryan invaders" as postulated by the Aryan invasion theory, and sometimes archaeoastronomy.[4]

When the finding of connections between languages from India to Europe led to the creation of Indo-European studies in the late 18th century, some Indians and Europeans believed that the Proto-Indo-European language must be Sanskrit, or something very close to it. A few early Indo-Europeanists, such as Enlightenment pioneers Voltaire,[5] Immanuel Kant,[5] and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel[6] had a firm belief in this and essentially created the idea that India was the Urheimat (origin) of all Indo-European languages. In a 1775 letter, Voltaire expressed his belief that the "dynasty of the Brahmins" taught the rest of the world: "I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges."[5] The idea intrigued Kant who "suggested that mankind together with all science must have originated on the roof of the world [the Himalayas ]."[5]

The development of historical linguistics, specifically the law of palatals and the discovery of the laryngeals in Hittite, affected Sanskrit's preeminent status as the most venerable elder in this reconstructed family.[7] This eroded support of India as the homeland of Indo-European languages. The ethnologist and philologist Robert Gordon Latham was the first to state that, according to the principles of natural science, a language family's most likely point of origin is in the area of its greatest diversity which, in the case of Indo-European, is roughly in Central-eastern Europe, where the Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Thracian, and Greek branches of the Indo-European language family are attested, as opposed to South Asia, where only the Indo-Aryan branch is.[8] Lachhmi Dhar Kalla responded by arguing that the greater linguistic diversity of Indo-European in Europe is the result of absorbing foreign linguistic elements, and that a language family's point of origin should be sought in the area of least linguistic change, since it has been least affected by substrate interference. Dhar's line of argument has a history in Western debates on the Indo-European homeland (e.g. Feist 1932 and Pissani 1974 as cited in Bryant 2001, pp. 142–143) where it has been used to locate the Indo-European homeland near the area where the Lithuanian and Anatolian branches of Indo-European are attested.

Out of India theory

The Out of India theory (OIT), also known as the Indian Urheimat Theory, is the proposition that the Indo-European language family originated in the Ganges Valley in Northern India and spread to the remainder of the Indo-European region through a series of migrations.


Map showing the spread of the Proto-Indo-European language from the Indus Valley. Dates are those of the "emerging non-invasionist model" according to Elst.

The Indian Urheimat proposal put forward by Elst (1999), which he dubs the "emerging non-invasionist model", suggests the following scenario:

During the 6th millennium BC Proto-Indo-Europeans lived in the Punjab region of northern India. As the result of demographic expansion, they spread into Bactria as the Kambojas. The Paradas moved further and inhabited the Caspian coast and much of central Asia while the Cinas moved northwards and inhabited the Tarim Basin in northwestern China, forming the Tocharian group of I-E speakers. These groups were Proto-Anatolian and inhabited that region by 2000 BC. These people took the oldest form of the Proto Indo-European (PIE) language with them and, while interacting with people of the Anatolian and Balkan region, transformed it into a separate dialect. While inhabiting central Asia they discovered the uses of the horse, which they later sent back to the Urheimat.[9] Later on during their history, they went on to occupy western Europe and thus spread the Indo-European languages to that region.[9]

During the 4th millennium BC, civilisation in India started evolving into what became the urban Indus Valley Civilization. During this time, the PIE languages evolved to Proto-Indo-Iranian[9] Some time during this period, the Indo-Iranians began to separate as the result of internal rivalry and conflict, with the Iranians expanding westwards towards Mesopotamia and Persia, these possibly were the Pahlavas. They also expanded into parts of central Asia. By the end of this migration, India was left with the Proto-Indo-Aryans. At the end of the Mature Harappan period, the Sarasvati river began drying up and the remainder of the Indo-Aryans split into separate goups. Some travelled westwards and established themselves as rulers of the Hurrian Mitanni kingdom by around 1500 BC (see Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni). Others travelled eastwards and inhabited the Gangetic basin while others travelled southwards and interacted with the Dravidian people.[9]


See also linguistics or historical linguistics.

According to Bryant (2001:75), OIT proponents tend to be linguistic dilettantes who either ignore the linguistic evidence completely, dismiss it as highly speculative and inconclusive (e.g. Chakrabarti 1995 and Rajaram 1995, as cited in Bryant 2001:74), or attempt to tackle it with hopelessly inadequate qualifications; this attitude and neglect significantly minimises the value of most OIT publications.[10][11]

Talageri (2000) and Kazanas (2002) have adapted the language dispersal model proposed by Johanna Nichols (in Blench & Spriggs 1997) to support OIT by moving Nichols' proposed Indo-European point of origin from Bactria-Sogdiana to India. These ideas have not been accepted in mainstream linguistics.

Elst (1999) argues that it is altogether more likely that the Urheimat was in satem territory. The alternative from the angle of an Indian Urheimat theory (IUT) would be that India had originally had the centum form, that the dialects which first emigrated (Hittite, Italo-Celtic, Germanic, Tocharic) retained the centum form and took it to the geographical borderlands of the IE expanse (Europe, Anatolia, China), while the dialects which emigrated later (Baltic, Thracian, Phrygian) were at a halfway stage and the last-emigrated dialects (Slavic, Armenian, Iranian) plus the staybehind Indo-Aryan languages had adopted the satem form. This would satisfy the claim of the so-called Lateral Theory that the most conservative forms are to be found at the outskirts rather than in the metropolis.[12]

Comparative linguistics

Diachronic map showing the Satem areal in red. The central area of Satemization is shown in darker red, corresponding to the Sintashta/Abashevo/Srubna cultures.

There are twelve accepted branches of the Indo-European family. The two Indo-Iranian branches, Indic (Indo-Aryan) and Iranian, dominate the eastern cluster, historically spanning Scythia, Iran and northern India. While the exact sequence in which the different branches separated, or migrated, away from a homeland is disputed, linguists generally agree that Anatolian was the first branch to be separated from the remaining body of Indo-European.

Additionally, Graeco-Aryan isoglosses seem suggestive that Greek and Indo-Iranian may have shared a common homeland for a while, after the splitting of the other IE branches. Such a homeland could be northwestern India (which is preferred by proponents of the OIT) or the Pontic steppes (as preferred by the mainstream supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis).

According to Hock, if evidence like linguistic isogloss patterns is ignored, then the hypothesis of an Out-of-India migration becomes "relatively easy to maintain".[13]

Substratum influences in Vedic Sanskrit

According to Bryant, evidence of a pre-Indo-European linguistic substratum in South Asia is a solid reason to exclude India as a potential Indo-European homeland.[14]

Burrow compiled a list of approximately 500 foreign words in the Ṛgveda that he considered to be loans predominantly from Dravidian. Kuiper identified 383 Ṛigvedic words as non-Indo-Aryan – roughly 4% of its liturgical vocabulary – borrowed from Old Dravidian, Old Munda, and several other languages. Thieme has questioned Dravidian etymologies proposed for Vedic words, for most of which he gives Indoaryan or Sanskrit etymologies, and condemned what he characterises as a misplaced “zeal for hunting up Dravidian loans in Sanskrit”. Das contends that there is “not a single case in which a communis opinio has been found confirming the foreign origin of a Rigvedic (and probably Vedic in general) word". Burrow in turn has criticised the "resort to tortuous reconstructions in order to find, by hook or by crook, Indo-European explanations for Sanskrit words". Kuiper reasons that given the abundance of Indo-European comparative material—and the scarcity of Dravidian or Munda—the inability to clearly confirm whether the etymology of a Vedic word is Indo-European implies that it is not. Witzel (1999) argues that the earliest level of the Rigveda shows signs of para-Munda influence and only later levels of Dravidian, suggesting—against the older widespread two-century-old belief—that the original inhabitants of Punjab were speakers of para-Munda rather than speakers of Dravidian, whom the Indo-Aryans encountered only in middle Rigvedic times.[15]

Dravidian and other South Asian languages share with Indo-Aryan a number of syntactical and morphological features that are alien to other Indo-European languages. Phonologically, there is the introduction of retroflexes, which alternate with dentals in Indo-Aryan; morphologically there are the gerunds; and syntactically there is the use of a quotative marker ("iti"). Several linguists, all of whom accept the external origin of the Aryan languages on other grounds, are quite open to considering that various syntactical developments in Indo-Aryan could have been internal developments (Hamp 1996 and Jamison 1989, as cited in Bryant 2001:81–82 rather than the result of substrate influences, or have been the result of adstratum (Hock 1975/1984/1996 and Tikkanen 1987, as cited in Bryant 2001:80–82.[16] About retroflexion Tikkanen (1999) states that "in view of the strictly areal implications of retroflexion and the occurrence of retroflexes in many early loanwords, it is hardly likely that Indo-Aryan retroflexion arose in a region that did not have a substratum with retroflexes."

Another concern raised is that there is large time gap between the comparative materials, which can be seen as a serious methodological drawback.[17] The latter is, however, not a cogent argument if one compares, for example, modern Lithuanian (laukas patis) with early Vedic Sanskrit (loka-pati), which, too, are divided by a time span of c. 3200 years.

Elst (1999) proposes that any Dravidian in Sanskrit can still be explained via the OIT. He suggests through David McAlpin's Proto-Elamo-Dravidian theory, that the ancient homeland for Proto-Elamo-Dravidian was in the Mesopotamia region, from where the languages spread across the coast towards Sindh and eventually to South India where they still remain.[18] According to Elst, this theory would support the idea that Early Harappan culture was possibly bi- or multi-lingual. Elst (1999) claims that the presence of the Brahui language, and similarities between Elamite and Harappan script as well as similarities between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian indicate that these languages may have interacted prior to the spread of Indo-Aryans southwards and the resultant intermixing of races and languages.

Elfenbein (as cited in Witzel 2000) argues that the presence of Brahui in Baluchistan is explained by a late immigration that took place within the last thousand years.

Elst believes that there is evidence suggesting that Dravidian influences in Maharashtra and Gujarat were largely lost over the years. He traces this to linguistic evidence. Some occurrences in Sangam Tamil, or ancient forms of Tamil, indicate small similarities with Sanskrit or Prakrit. As the oldest recognisable forms of Tamil have influences of Indo-Aryan, it is possible that they had Sanskrit influence as a result of a migration through the coastal regions of western India.[19]

Writing specifically about language contact phenomena, Thomason & Kaufman (1988) state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indic through "shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. Even though the innovative traits in Indic could be explained by multiple internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the innovations at once – it becomes a question of explanatory parsimony; moreover, early Dravidian influence accounts for several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed.[20]

Erdosy (1995:18) states that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Old Indo-Aryan is that the majority of early Old Indo-Aryan speakers had a Dravidian mother tongue which they gradually abandoned.


Indo-Aryan languages are the oldest source of place and river names in northern India – which Shrikant G. Talageri sees as an argument in favour of seeing Indo-Aryan as the oldest documented population of that area.[21]

According to Witzel, river names are conservative, and "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."[22] Talageri cites this in support of the Out of India theory,[21] though Witzel himself would dispute jumping to that conclusion.[22] Rather, he points out that non-Sanskritic names are common in the "Sarasvati" (Ghaggar) area.

Kazanas argues that this indicates that the Harappan civilisation must have been dominated by Indo-Aryan speakers, supposing that the arrival of Indo-Aryan migrants in Late Harappan times to the remnants of an Indus Valley Civilization formerly stretching over a vast area could not have resulted in the suppression of the entire native hydronymy.[23]

However, Witzel argues exactly that: "The failure to preserve old hydronomes even in the Indus Valley (with a few exceptions, noted above) indicates the extent of the social and political collapse experienced by the local population."[22]

Paralleling Witzel, Villar (2000) characterises place names as the deepest ethnic and linguistic layer, and states that the first network of river and place names in Spain was created by very ancient Indo-European populations, and was dense enough to resist successive language changes. According to Villar (2000), even in those areas which are historically Basque (i.e. non-Indo-European), the ancient names of places and people have a prevailing Indo-European character, with very few names of non-Indo-European Basque etymology documented in ancient sources. Alinei (2003) cites this in support of the Paleolithic Continuity Theory.

Position of Sanskrit

Vedic Sanskrit conserves many archaic aspects. In the words of T. Burrow: "Vedic is a language which in most respects is more archaic and less altered from original Indo-European than any other member of the family".[24]

Kazanas argues that linguistic stability corresponds to geographic stability, claiming that if "the Indo-Aryans were on the move over many thousands of miles (from the Russian steppe, Europe and/or Anatolia) over a very long period of centuries encountering many different other cultures", their "language should have suffered faster and greater changes".[25]

Bryant (2001:144) points out that this reasoning can be countered by arguing that Vedic retained the Indo-European accent because, as a sacerdotal language, it artificially preserved forms that would otherwise have evolved in a normal spoken language. Vedic Sanskrit is, like other sacred languages, an extinct language, having evolved into Classical Sanskrit by the 6th century BC, reaching stability long after northern India had been settled by Indo-Aryans.

By contrast, Lithuanian is a living, vernacular language that has preserved Indo-European archaisms to the present day, thousands of years longer than Vedic did.[26][27] But then it can be argued that Lithuanian remained in comparative isolation, being attested only around 1500 AD, which is comparable to the Kalash language, which has maintained an arguably more archaic form of an Indo-European language as a living vernacular.[citation needed] [clarification needed]


The determination of the age in which Vedic literature started and flourished has its consequences for the Indo-Aryan question. The oldest text, the Rigveda, is full of precise references to places and natural phenomena in what are now Punjab and Haryana, and thus was unmistakably recorded in that part of India.[28] The date at which it was composed is a firm terminus ante quem for the presence of the Vedic Aryans in India. In the academic mainstream view it was composed in the mid- to late-2nd millennium BC (Late Harappan)[29] while OIT proponents propose a pre-Harappan date.[citation needed]

OIT proponents claim that the bulk of the Rigveda was composed prior to the Indus Valley Civilization by linking archaeological evidence with data from Vedic texts and archaeo-astronomical evidence.[citation needed]

Sarasvati River

Main article: Sarasvati river

Many hymns in all ten Books of the Rigveda (except the 4th) extol or mention a divine and very large river named the Sarasvati,[30] which flows mightily "from the mountains to the [Indian] Ocean".[25][31][32] Talageri states that "the references to the Sarasvati far outnumber the references to the Indus" and "The Sarasvati is so important in the whole of the Rigveda that it is worshipped as one of the Three Great Goddesses".[33][34]

The Nadistuti hymn (RV 10.75) gives a list of names of rivers where Sarasvati is merely mentioned while Sindhu receives all the praise. This may well indicate that RV 10 could be dated to a period after the first drying up of Sarasvati when the river lost its preeminence.[25] It is agreed that the tenth book of the Rigveda is later than the others.[35]

The present Ghaggar/Hakra is a remnant of the Rgvedic Sarasvati, which was the lifeline of the Indus Civilisation.[36] The dating of the full-flowing Ghaggar/Hakra, corresponding to its description in the RgVeda, is seen as a powerful archaeological evidence for the dating of the RgVeda.[36]

According to palaeoenvironmental scientists, the desiccation of the Sarasvati came about as a result of the diversion of at least two rivers that fed it, the Satluj and the Yamuna;

The chain of tectonic events [...] diverted the Satluj westward (into the Indus) and the Palaeo Yamuna eastward (into the Ganges) [...] This explains the 'death' of such a mighty river (the Sarasvati) [...] because its main feeders, the Satluj and Palaeo Yamuna were weaned away from it by the Indus and the Gangaa respectively".[37][38]

This ended at ca. 1750, but it started much earlier, perhaps with the upheavals and the large flood of 1900, or more probably 2100[clarification needed].[39][40]

In contrast, Mughal notes that the Yamuna was cut off in the middle of the third millennium BCE, but the Sutlej kept providing water until the end of the second millennium BCE, or the beginning of the first millennium BCE.[36]

The 414 archaeological sites along the bed of Saraswati dwarf the number of sites so far recorded along the entire stretch of the Indus River, which number only about three dozen. About 80 percent of the sites are datable to the fourth or third millennium BCE, suggesting that the river was in its prime during this period.[36]

P. H. Francfort, utilising images from the French satellite SPOT, finds that the large river Sarasvati is pre-Harappan altogether and started drying up in the middle of the 4th millennium BC; during Harappan times only a complex irrigation-canal network was being used in the southern region of the Indus Valley. With this the date should be pushed back to c 3800 BC.[41] According to Francfort, those sites were not at all located at a riverside, but were outside of them, irrigated by small river channels.[42] Bryant notes:

Ironically, the findings of the French team have served to reinforce the "mythico-religious tradition of Vedic origins." Rajaram's reaction (1995) to the team's much earlier date assigned to the perennial river is that "this can only mean that the great Sarasvati that flowed 'from the mountain to the sea' must belong to a much earlier epoch, to a date well before 3000 BCE."[42]

Items not in the Rigveda

Some items typical of later Sanskrit literature are absent from the Rigveda. This is usually taken as strong evidence that the Rigvedic hymns have a geographical background restricted to the extreme northwest of the Indian subcontinent, corresponding to the route of immigration. OIT proponents have taken the same evidence as indicating an extremely early date for the Rigveda, predating the Harappan civilisation.

  • The Rigveda does not mention silver, though it does mention ayas (metal or copper/bronze) and candra or hiran-ya (gold). Silver is denoted by rajatám híran-yam literally 'white gold' and appears in post-Rigvedic texts. There is a generally accepted demarcation line for the use of silver at around 4000 BC and this metal is archaeologically attested in the Harappan civilization[25][43][44][45]
  • The Rigveda makes no reference to the Harappan culture. The characteristic features of the Harappan culture are urban life, large buildings, permanently erected fire altars and bricks. There is no word for brick in the Rigveda and iswttakaa (brick) appears only in post-Rigvedic texts. (Kazanas 2000:13)[25] The Rigvedic altar is a shallow bed dug in the ground and covered with grass (e.g. RV 5.11.2, 7.43.2–3; Parpola 1988: 225). Fixed brick-altars are very common in post-Rigvedic texts.[46]
  • The Rigveda mentions no rice or cotton. A compound term is used which later referred to rice cakes used for sacrificial purposes, but the word vrīhí, meaning 'rice', does not occur. Rice was found in at least three Harappan sites: Rangpur (2000 BCE – 1500 BCE), Lothal (c. 2000 BCE) and Mohenjodaro (c. 2500 BCE) as Piggott,[47] Grist[48] and others testify.[49] Yet, despite the importance of rice in ritual in later times, the Rigveda makes no mention of it. The cultivation of cotton is well attested in the Harappan civilisation and is found at many sites thereafter.[25][50][51][52]
  • Nakshatra were developed in 2400 BCE. They are important in a religious context, yet the Rigveda does not mention this, which suggests the Rigveda is before 2400 BCE. The youngest book only mentions constellations,[53] a concept known to all cultures, without specifying them as lunar mansions.[54]
  • On the other hand, it has been claimed that the Rigveda has no term for "sword", while Bronze swords were used aplenty in the Bactrian culture and in Pirak. Ralph Griffith uses "sword" twelve times in his translation, including in the old books 5 and 7, but in most cases a literal translation would be more generic "sharp implement" (e.g. vāśī), the transition from "dagger" to "sword" in the Bronze Age being a gradual process.

The afore-mentioned features are found in post Rigvedic texts – the Samhitas, the Brahmanas and fully in the Sutra literature. For instance, brick altars are mentioned in Satapatha Brahmanaṇa, or etc. Rice ( vrihi ) is found in AV 6.140.2; 7.1.20; etc. Cotton karpasa appears first in Gautama's (1.18) and in Bandhāyana's (14.13.10) Dharmasūtra. The fact of the convergence of the post-Rigvedic texts and the Harappan culture was noted long ago by archaeologists. Bridget and F. Raymond Allchin stated unequivocally that these features are of the kind "described in detail in the later Vedic literature" (1982: 203).[46]

Based on this set of statements, OIT proponents argue that the whole of the Rigveda, except for some few passages which may be of later date, must have been composed prior to the Indus Valley Civilization.[25][52]

Memories of an Urheimat

The fact that the Vedas[55] do not mention the Aryans' presence in India as being the result of a migration or mention any possible Urheimat, has been taken as an argument in favour of the OIT. The reasoning is that it is not uncommon for migrational accounts to be found in early mythological and religious texts, a classical example being the Book of Exodus in the Torah, describing the legendary migration of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan.

Proponents of the OIT, such as Koenraad Elst, argue that it would have been expected that migrations, and possibly an Urheimat, would be mentioned in the Rigveda if the Aryans had only arrived in India some centuries before the composition of the earliest Rigvedic hymns. They argue that other migration stories of other Indo-European people have been documented historically or archaeologically, and that the same would be expected if the Indo-Aryans had migrated into India.[52][56]

From the mainstream academic viewpoint, the concern is the degree of historical accuracy that can be expected from the Rigveda, which is a collection of hymns, not an account of tribal history, and those hymns that are assumed to reach back to within a few centuries of the period of Indo-Aryan arrival in Gandhara make for just a small portion of the text.[57]

Regarding migration of Indo-Aryans and imposing language on Harappans, Kazanas notes, "The intruders would have been able to rename the rivers only if they were conquerors with the power to impose this. And, of course, the same is true of their Vedic language: since no people would bother of their own free will to learn a difficult, inflected foreign language, unless they had much to gain by this, and since the Aryan immigrants had adopted the “material culture and lifestyle” of the Harappans[58] and consequently had little or nothing to offer to the natives, the latter would have adopted the new language only under pressure. Thus here again we discover that the substratum thinking is invasion and conquest." "But invasion is the substratum of all such theories even if words like ‘migration’ are used. There could not have been an Aryan immigration because (apart from the fact that there is no archaeological evidence for this) the results would have been quite different. Immigrants do not impose their own demands or desires on the natives of the new country: they are grateful for being accepted, for having the use of lands and rivers for farming or pasturing and for any help they receive from the natives; in time it is they who adopt the language (and perhaps the religion) of the natives. You cannot have a migration with the results of an invasion."[59]

Material archaeology

The opinion of the majority of professional archaeologists interviewed seems to be that there is no archaeological evidence to support external Indo-Aryan origins.[60] Thus, while the linguistic community stands firm with the Kurgan hypothesis, the archaeological community tends to be more agnostic. According to one archaeologist, J. M. Kenoyer (1991):

Although the overall socioeconomic organization changed, continuities in technology, subsistence practices, settlement organization, and some regional symbols show that the indigenous population was not displaced by invading hordes of Indo-Aryan speaking people. For many years, the 'invasions' or 'migrations' of these Indo-Aryan-speaking Vedic/Aryan tribes explained the decline of the Indus civilization and the sudden rise of urbanization in the Ganga-Yamuna valley. This was based on simplistic models of culture change and an uncritical reading of Vedic texts....[61]

The examination of 300 skeletons from the Indus Valley Civilization and comparison of those skeletons with modern-day Indians by Kenneth Kennedy has also been a supporting argument for the OIT. Kennedy claims that the Harappan inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization are no different from the inhabitants of India in the following millennia.[62] However, this does not rule out one version of the Aryan Migration Hypothesis which suggests that the only "migration" was one of languages as opposed to a complete displacement of the indigenous population.

Häusler (as cited in Bryant 2001:141) also found that archaeological evidence in central Europe showed continuous linear development, with no marked external influences.

Bryant (2001:236) grants that "there is at least a series of archaeological cultures that can be traced approaching the Indian subcontinent, even if discontinuous, which does not seem to be the case for any hypothetical east-to-west emigration."


  • The linguistic center of gravity principle states that a language family's most likely point of origin is in the area of its greatest diversity. Only one branch of Indo-European, Indo-Aryan, is found in India, whereas the Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Thracian, and Greek branches of Indo-European are all found in Central-eastern Europe. Because it requires a greater number of long migrations, an Indian Urheimat is far less likely than one closer to the center of Indo-European linguistic diversity.[8][63][64] However, the existence of the Tocharian language family in Western China would shift the center of gravity eastward. Some scholars argue that the various language families in Central and eastern Europe evolved fairly recently, which implies that there was less diversity in the western side of the Indo-European language family during the 2nd millennium BCE at a time contemporaneous with Vedic Sanskrit.[65][clarification needed]
  • The Indic languages show the influence of the Dravidian and Munda language families. No other branch of Indo-European does. If the Indo-European homeland had been located in India, then the Indo-European languages should have shown some influence from Dravidian and Munda.[66][67]
  • To postulate the migration of PIE speakers out of India necessitates an earlier dating of the Rigveda than is normally accepted by Vedic scholars to make a deep enough period of migration to allow for the longest migrations to be completed.(Mallory 1989)[page needed]

Political significance

Further information: Nationalism and ancient history

Repercussions of the disagreements about Aryan origins have reached Californian courts with the Californian Hindu textbook case, where according to the Times of India[68] historian and president of the Indian History Congress, Dwijendra Narayan Jha in a "crucial affidavit" to the Superior Court of California, "[g]iving a hint of the Aryan origin debate in India, [...] asked the court not to fall for the 'indigenous Aryan' claim since it has led to 'demonisation of Muslims and Christians as foreigners and to the near denial of the contributions of non-Hindus to Indian culture'".

Hindu nationalism

Witzel (2006, p. 204) traces the "indigenous Aryan" idea to the writings of Golwalkar and Savarkar. Golwalkar (1939) denied any immigration of "Aryans" to the subcontinent, stressing that all Hindus have always been "children of the soil", a notion Witzel compares to the blood and soil mysticism of Golwalkar's Nazi contemporaries. Since these ideas emerged on the brink of the internationalist and socially oriented Nehru-Gandhi government, they lay dormant for several decades, and only rose to prominence in the 1980s in conjunction with the relativist revisionism, most of the revisionist literature being published by the firms Voice of Dharma and Aditya Prakashan.

Bergunder (2004) likewise identifies Golwalkar as the originator of the "Indigenous Aryans" notion, and Goel's Voice of India as the instrument of its rise to notability:

The Aryan migration theory at first played no particular argumentative role in Hindu nationalism. [...] This impression of indifference changed, however, with Madhev Sadashiv Golwalkar (1906–1973), who from 1940 until his death was leader of the extremist paramilitary organization the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh (RSS). [...] In contrast to many other of their openly offensive teachings, the Hindu nationalists did not seek to keep the question of the Aryan migration out of public discourses or to modify it; rather, efforts were made to help the theory of the indigenousness of the Hindus achieve public recognition. For this the initiative of the publisher Sita Ram Goel (b. 1921) was decisive. Goel may be considered one of the most radical, but at the same time also one of the most intellectual, of the Hindu nationalist ideologues. [...] Since 1981 Goel has run a publishing house named ‘Voice of India’ that is one of the few which publishes Hindu nationalist literature in English which at the same time makes a 'scientific' claim. Although no official connections exist, the books of 'Voice of India' — which are of outstanding typographical quality and are sold at a subsidized price — are widespread among the ranks of the leaders of the Sangh Parivar. [...] The increasing political influence of Hindu nationalism in the 1990s resulted in attempts to revise the Aryan migration theory also becoming known to the academic public.

See also


  1. ^ a b Bryant, Edwin (2001), The quest for the origins of Vedic culture: the Indo-Aryan migration debate, Oxford University Press, p. 6, ISBN 0-19-513777-9, It must be stated immediately that there is an unavoidable corollary of an Indigenist position. If the Indo-Aryan languages did not come from outside South Asia, this necessarily entails that India was the original homeland of all the other Indo-European languages. 
  2. ^ Witzel 2006, p. 217.
  3. ^ See, e.g., Roman Ghirshman, L'Iran et la migration des Indo-aryens et des Iraniens (Leiden 1977). Cited by Carl .C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Archeology and language: the case of the Bronze Age Indo-Iranians, in Laurie L. Patton & Edwin Bryant, Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History (Routledge 2005), p.162.
  4. ^ B.B. Lal (7 January 2002), The Homeland of Indo-European Languages and Culture: Some Thoughts, Delhi: Indian Council for Historical Research, archived from the original on 2004-12-29, The shift of the “original homeland” from Sogdiana to a few hundred miles to the south - i.e. to the region now comprising eastern Afghanistan, Pakistan and north-west India should not upset anyone, since the archaeological-cum-literary evidence from this area is more positive than that from Sogdiana. 
  5. ^ a b c d Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas, Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism (New York University Press, 1998, hardcover: ISBN 0-8147-3110-4, paperback: ISBN 0-8147-3111-2)
  6. ^ Friedrich von Schlegel: Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (1808)
  7. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 69
  8. ^ a b Mallory (1989:152–153)
  9. ^ a b c d The Aryan Non-Invasionist Model by Koenraad Elst
  10. ^ Bryant (2001:74–107)
  11. ^ Edwin F. Bryant, Linguistic Substrata and the Indigenous Aryan Debate (1996)
  12. ^ Elst 1999:"3.2 Origin of the Linguistic Argument"
  13. ^ Hock, H.H. (1996), "Out of India? The linguistic evidence", in Bronkhorst, J.; Deshpande, M.M., Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia: Evidence, Interpretation, and Ideology, Harvard Oriental Series (published 1999), ISBN 1-888789-04-2 . On page 14 is Figure 1, the cladistic tree of the IE branches. On p. 15 is Fig 2, the diagram of isoglosses. On p. 16 he states that if only the model in Fig 1 is accepted, then the hypothesis of an Out-of-India migration would be "relatively easy to maintain", i.e. provided the evidence of Fig 2 were ignored.
  14. ^ Bryant (2001:76)
  15. ^ Thieme, Burrow, and Das, as cited in Bryant (2001:86–88)
    Kuiper, as cited in Witzel (1999) and Bryant (2001:87)
  16. ^ Bryant (2001:78–82)
  17. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 82 – the syntax of the Rigveda is being compared with a reconstructed proto-Dravidian. The first completely intelligible, datable, and sufficiently long and complete epigraphs that might be of some use in linguistic comparison are the Tamil inscriptions of the Pallava dynasty of about 550 c.e. (Zvelebil 1990), two entire millennia after the commonly accepted date for the Rigveda. Similarly there is much less material available for comparative Munda and the interval in their case at least is a staggering thirty-five hundred years.
  18. ^ D. McAlpin Linguistic Prehistory: The Dravidian Situation 1979
  19. ^ Elst (1999)[page needed]; Influence of Sanskrit or Prakrit on Sangam Tamil can be seen in some particular terms. For example, AkAyam (meaning sky) is thought to be derived from AkAsha, while Ayutham (meaning weapon) is thought to be derived from Ayudha.
  20. ^ Thomason & Kaufman (1988:141–144)
  21. ^ a b Talageri 2000:"Chapter 7: The Indo-European Homeland"
  22. ^ a b c Witzel. "Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parametres", in Erdosy (1995)
  23. ^ Kazanas, Nicholas 2001b — Indigenous Indoaryans and the Rgveda — Journal of Indo-European Studies, volume 29, pages 257–93
  24. ^ T Burrow — The Sanskrit Language (1973): "Vedic is a language which in most respects is more archaic and less altered from original Indo-European than any other member of the family" (34: emphasis added); he also states that root nouns, "very much in decline in the earliest recorded Indo-European languages", are preserved better in Sanskrit, and later adds, "Chiefly owing to its antiquity the Sanskrit language is more readily analysable, and its roots more easily separable from accretionary elements than... any other IE language" (123, 289); see also Beekes, R.S.P., 1990: Vergelijkende Taalwetenschap cited by K Elst 2005. Tussen Sanskrit en Nederlands, Het Spectrum, Utrecht, "The distribution [of the two stems as/s for "to be"] in Sanskrit is the oldest one" (Beekes 1990:37); "PIE had 8 cases, which Sanskrit still has" (Beekes 1990:122); "PIE had no definite article. That is also true for Sanskrit and Latin, and still for Russian. Other languages developed one" (Beekes 1990:125); "[For the declensions] we ought to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-Iranian first,... But we will do with the Sanskrit because we know that it has preserved the essential information of the Proto-Indo-Iranian" (Beekes 1990:148); "While the accentuation systems of the other languages indicate a total rupture, Sanskrit, and to a lesser extent Greek, seem to continue the original IE situation" (Beekes 1990:187); "The root aorist... is still frequent in Indo-Iranian, appears sporadically in Greek and Armenian, and has disappeared elsewhere" (Beekes 1990:279)
  25. ^ a b c d e f g A new date for the Rgveda by N Kazanas published in Philosophy and Chronology, 2000, ed G C Pande & D Krishna, special issue of Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research (June 2001)
  26. ^ Bryant (2001:239–240) "Lithuanian, for example, preserves archaic Indo-European features to this very day."
  27. ^ Meillet, A. (1908), Introduction à l'étude comparative des langues indo-européennes (in French) (2ème corrigé et augmentée ed.), Paris: Hachette, p. 46, Le lituanien est remarquable par son aspect d'antiquité indo-européenne; il est frappant d'y trouve encore au XVIe siècle et jusqu'aujourd'hui des formes qui recouvrent exactement des formes védiques ou homériques et qui reproduisent presque parfaitement des formes indo-européennes supposées "Lithuanian is remarkable for its aspect of Indo-European antiquity; it is striking to still find in Lithuanian in the 16th century and until today forms which are exactly congruent with Vedic or Homeric forms and which reproduce almost perfectly supposed Indo-European forms." 
  28. ^ Roshen Dalal. The Vedas: An Introduction to Hinduism’s Sacred Texts. Penguin UK. p. 141. 
  29. ^ But Indo-Aryan presence may predate the Rigveda by several centuries even in the immigrationist view; according to Asko Parpola's scenario , the Rigvedic Aryans were not the first wave to reach India; his Indo-Aryan "Indian Dasa" were the bearers of the Cemetery H culture from around 1900 BC; Asko Parpola, 'The formation of the Aryan branch of Indo-European', in Blench and Spriggs (eds), Archaeology and Language III, London and New York (1999).
  30. ^ BBC India's miracle river
  31. ^ Rigveda VII, 95, 2. giríbhya aaZ samudraZat
  32. ^ Kazanas 2000:4
  33. ^ Talageri, 2000: Ch 4: The Rigvedic Rivers
  34. ^ The RigVeda – A Historical Analysis by Shrikant G. Talageri
  35. ^ (Kazanas 2000:4, 5)
  36. ^ a b c d Bryant 2001, p. 167.
  37. ^ Rao 1991: 77–9
  38. ^ Feuerstein et al. 1995: 87–90
  39. ^ Elst 1993: 70
  40. ^ Allchins 1997: 117
  41. ^ Francfort, Paul Henri (1992). "Evidence for Harrappan Irrigation System in Haryana and Rajasthan". Eastern Anthropology 45: 91. 
  42. ^ a b Bryant 2001, p. 169.
  43. ^ Allchins 1969: 285
  44. ^ Rao 1991: 171
  45. ^ Allchins et. all cited by Kazanas 2000:1
  46. ^ a b Rig-Veda is pre-Harappan by N Kazanas
  47. ^ Piggott 1961: 259
  48. ^ Grist 1965
  49. ^ Rao 1991: 24, 101, 150 etc
  50. ^ Piggott et. all cited by Kazanas 2000:13
  51. ^ Elst 1999: Ch 5.3.10
  52. ^ a b c Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate by Koenraad Elst
  53. ^ RV 10:85:2
  54. ^ Bernard Sergent: Genèse de l’Inde, 1997 p.118 cited by Elst 1999: Ch 5.5) Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate by Koenraad Elst
  55. ^ Cardona 2002: 33–35; Cardona, George. The Indo-Aryan languages, RoutledgeCurzon; 2002 ISBN 0-7007-1130-9
  56. ^ Elst 1999: Ch 4.6
  57. ^ e.g. Thomas Oberlies, Die Religion des Rgveda, Wien 1998, p. 188.
  58. ^ Allchins 1997: 223
  59. ^ `The AIT and scholarship' by Kazanas July 2001 Page 2,3
  60. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 231
  61. ^ Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark (1991), "The Indus Valley Tradition of Pakistan and Western India", Journal of World Prehistory 5 (4): 331–85, doi:10.1007/bf00978474, JSTOR 25800603 
  62. ^ (Hemphill, Lukacs and Kennedy 1991, see also Kenneth Kennedy 1995)
  63. ^ Sapir (1949:455)
  64. ^ Dyen (1965), as quoted in Bryant 2001, p. 142
  65. ^ Bryant (2001:150)
  66. ^ Parpola 2005, p. 48. "...numerous loanwords and even structural borrowings from Dravidian have been identified in Sanskrit texts composed in northwestern India at the end of the second and first half of the first millennium BCE, before any intensive contact between North and South India. External evidence thus suggests that the Harappans most probably spoke a Dravidian language."
  67. ^ Mallory 1989, p. 44. "The most obvious explanation of this situation is that the Dravidian languages once occupied nearly all of the Indian subcontinent and it is the intrusion of Indo-Aryans that engulfed them in north India leaving but a few isolated enclaves."
  68. ^ Mukul, Akshaya (9 September 2006). "US text row resolved by Indian". Times of India. 

Bibliography and References

Literature by "Indigenous Aryans" proponents
Further information: Voice of India

External links