Volga Se Ganga
|Original title||वोल्गा से गंगा|
|Subject||History of Aryan peoples migration from Volga to India|
|Media type||Print (hardback and paperback)|
|LC Class||PK2098 S27 V6 1943|
Volga Se Ganga (वोल्गा से गंगा, A journey from the Volga to the Ganges) is a 1943 collection of 20 historical fiction short-stories by scholar and travel writer Rahul Sankrityayan. A true vagabond, Sankrityayan traveled to far lands like Russia, Korea, Japan, China and many others, where he mastered the languages of these lands and was an authority on cultural studies.
The stories collectively trace the migration of Aryans from the steppes of the Eurasia to regions around the Volga river; then their movements across the Hindukush and the Himalayas and the sub-Himalayan regions; and their spread to the Indo-Gangetic plains of the subcontinent of India. The book begins in 6000 BC and ends in 1942, the year when Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian nationalist leader called for the quit India movement.
Publication history and translations
Sanskritayan wrote his debut novel Jine Ke Liye in 1938. Meanwhile, 1941-42, he was inspired by the historical stories of Bhagawat Sharan Upadhyay. Later he wrote 20 short stories while imprisoned in Hazaribagh Central Jail for taking part in Indian independence movement.  It was first published in 1943 and is considered one of the greatest Hindi book of modern Indian literature.
It has been translated into many languages including Bengali, English, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Punjabi where he ran into several editions, besides foreign languages like Russian, Czech, Polish Chinese, and many more.  This book is now considered a classic in history of Indian Literature. The first Bengali translation was published in 1954.
Volga Se Ganga is about the history of Indo–European people who were later known as the Aryans. The 20 stories are woven over a span of 8000 years and a distance of about 10,000 km.
The first story, "Nisha", is about cavemen living in Caucasia (southern Russia) about 6000 BC. The society or its precursor at that time was matriarchal and so the story is named after the leader of the family 'Nisha'. Although all the 20 stories are independent, the sequence in which they are arranged nevertheless serves a very important purpose. Here one can find a gradual transformation from a matriarchal society (the first two stories) to a patriarchal one (the rest), a gradual change from freedom to slavery, from acceptance of slavery to its loathing and the likes. If one is to believe Sankrityayan, then an apprehension for technological advancement is nothing new. People were wary of the newly better armament which was fast replacing the older stone equipment (fourth story – "Puruhoot" (Tajikistan 2500 BC)). The same story tells how an arms race was started during that period and how southerners amassed great wealth at the expense of the northerners.
The sixth story, "Angira" (Taxila 1800 BC), is about a man who wants to save the Aryan race from losing its identity to other races by teaching about their true culture (precursor to Vedic Rishis). The eighth story (Pravahan (700 BC. Panchala, U.P.). is about the upper class manipulating religion for their own vested interests and conspiring to keep people in dark for at least 2000 years). One can see how easily and frequently the Indians, the mid easterners and the Greeks mingled with each other in the times of Chanakya and Alexander by reading the tenth story Nagdatt, which is about a philosopher classmate of Chanakya who travels to Persia and Greece and learns how Athens fell to Macedonia. The eleventh story (Prabha, 50 AD) is about the famous (also the first Indian) dramatist Aśvaghoṣa, who adopted the Greek art of drama into Indian culture in a very beautiful and authentic way, and his inspiration. Baba Noordeen (1300), the 15th story is about the rise of Sufism. The seventeenth story Rekha Bhagat (1800 is about the barbarous rule of the East India company and the anarchy it brought to parts of India. The last story ("Sumer", 1942) is about a man who goes on to fight the Japanese because he wants Soviet Russia to triumph, for this nation according to him is the only hope left for humanity.
Rahul Sankrityayan was greatly influenced by Marxist ideas. This influence can be easily felt in the last three stories. Mangal Singh (the protagonist in 18th story) personally knows Marx and Engels and is amazed how Marx knows so much about India. He explains to Anne, his beloved, how Science is indispensable to India but unfortunately the Indians put faith above it. He goes on to fight the Britishers in the 1857 uprising with a strict code of conduct.
The author (original name Kedarnath Pandey) was so deeply influenced by Buddhism that he adopted it along with the name Rahul (The name of Gautam Buddha's son). This influence is also felt in his stories Bandhul Mall (490 BC, 9th story) and Prabha. Also the dynamical view of life which is at the centre of Buddhist philosophy can be seen. One more characteristic feature that deserves mention here is the simplicity of language. There are no pointless linguistic decorations here. The author instantly gets to the point just like Voltaire with Candide.