Aryan-Dravidian divide is a modern political creation with no scientific or historical support

N.S. Rajaram

Science on Aryans and Dravidians
A recently published study comparing the genetic composition of Western Eurasian and Indian populations shows that the supposed Aryan invasion of India 3000 to 4000 years ago postulated by historians in the nineteenth century, and still found in many textbooks is contradicted by genetics. In articles that appeared in the British journal Current Biology, T.R. Disotell, T. Kivisild and their coworkers observe that the “supposed Aryan invasion of India 3000 – 4000 years ago was much less significant than is generally believed.” A key mitochondrial DNA of the Western Eurasian strain accounts for at most 5.2 percent in Indian populations as compared to 70 percent in Europe. This rules out a recent common origin as postulated by the ‘Aryan invasion’. Any split that occurred from a common population must have taken place more than 50,000 years ago, according to the study.
This is in agreement with other genetic data, showing that there were major migrations out of Africa into Southeast Asia at approximately the same time. It is worth noting that according to a widely accepted theory, humans evolved in Africa and spread into other parts of the world beginning about 100,000 years ago. This was during the last Ice Age, when much of the Northern Hemisphere was uninhabitable due to extreme cold. The Puranas also record that during an extended cold period, people from all parts of the world sought shelter in India in caves and rock shelters. This goes to explain the presence of ancient cave- and rock art at places like Bhimbetka in Central India.
Here is something really interesting. The authors of the genetic study note that this West Eurasian strain is not only insignificant, but also present in roughly the same proportions in North and South India. This means that there is no correlation between the languages of the population and their supposed Eurasian origin. The ‘Aryan invasion’ theory holds that ancestors of speakers of ‘Aryan’ languages like Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali and others were Eurasian invaders, whereas speakers of ‘Dravidian’ languages of South India (like this writer) were the original inhabitants of India. The genetic study contradicts this by showing both to have the same insignificant proportion of the West Eurasian DNA strain. So, according to science, there is no Aryan-Dravidian divide.
The recent reading of the Indus script shows that these findings are in agreement with findings from archaeology. Jha and I have read more than 2000 Harappan seals and they show that the Vedic literature already existed by 3000 BC. The iconography of Harappan seals is definitely Vedic.
The literary evidence of the Rigveda also contradicts any invasion from Eurasia. Some recent attempts to place the Rigvedic land in Afghanistan are seriously misguided. The Rigveda describes an established maritime society in which references to the ocean, ships and navigation are very common. It is not easy to see how such a society could flourish in land-locked Afghanistan. All in all both science and literature shatter the notion of any Aryan invasion. It is one of the aberrations of scholarship that belongs to what Millikan called ‘pathological science’. Let us next look at its history and politics.

Dr. Ambedkar on Aryans and Dravidians in history
This fact — that the Aryan-Dravidian theory was of recent origin — was noted by Dr. Ambedkar also. As he wrote: “All the princes, whether they belonged to the so-called Aryan race or the so-called Dravidian race, were Aryas. Whether a tribe or a family was racially Aryan or Dravidian was a question that never troubled the people of India, until foreign scholars came in and began to draw the line.”
This is supported also by the Manusmriti, another ancient authority. It tells us that Dravidians (in the geographic sense) are also Aryans who at one time had fallen from the Aryan fold when they stopped following certain Vedic practices and rituals. (Was this the reason that Sage Agastya went south of the Vindhyas, taking Vedic knowledge with him?) The Manusmriti has been revised many times to reflect changes in society and practices. In one particular place it describes Arya Desha as: “The land bounded by the mountain of Reva (Narmada), the Eastern Sea (Bay of Bengal) and the Western Sea (Arabian Sea) is Arya Desha. This is the land where black-skinned deer roam freely.” That is to say, the Manusmriti identifies Arya Desha as none other than Peninsular India, which includes Dravidians. It also tells us that the inhabitants of this country are exemplary Aryans, worthy of emulation by all.
What this means is that the terms ‘Arya’ and ‘Aryadesha’ were assigned to people and their habitat depending on their conduct and culture— and not race or language. This also means that the assignment could change depending on whether the people had lapsed from their expected standards of behavior. So at the time when this passage in the Manusmriti was composed, the people of Peninsular India were considered exemplary Aryans. And this was because of their conduct — not language or race.

In fact only recently, a non-Brahmin community in South India known as Idigas, identified itself as Arya-Idigas. Vaishyas of course call themselves Arya-Vaishyas.

‘Race science’: Colonial-missionary politics, African Tragedy
The notion of Aryan and Dravidian as separate races, though a colonial European imposition continues to influence intellectual discourse in India. This is unfortunate because it rests on scientifically discredited beliefs. Writing as far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great natural scientists of the century, observed: “In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature. In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan’ race received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions.”
Huxley was referring of course to the rise of Nazism around the notion of the Aryan race. It should make one suspicious of the motives of the English, who, while denouncing racial theories in Europe, continued to classify their Indian subjects along racial lines. It was simply a politically convenient tool in their ‘divide and rule’ strategy. They appealed to the vanity of one group to make them feel superior to others (but still inferior to the English). They knew well that it had no scientific basis, but found it a convenient tool for use in India!
African tragedy
British were by no means the only colonists to indulge in such propaganda in the name of ‘science’. This idea of dividing a conquered people in the name of ‘race science’ was a standard ploy of colonial officials and Christian missionaries. Much of the bloodletting in ethnic conflicts in Africa today is due to such mischief. Speaking of the recent Hutu-Tutsi conflicts, the French anthropologist Jean-Pierre Langellier wrote: “The idea that the Hutus and the Tutsis were physically different was first aired in the 1860s by the British explorer John Speke… The history of Rwanda [like that of much of Africa] has been distorted by Pere Blancs [White Fathers] missionaries, academics and colonial administrators. They made the Tutsis out to be a superior race, which had conquered the region and enslaved the Hutus. …Missionaries taught the Hutus that historical fallacy, which was the result of racist European concepts being applied to an African reality. At the end of the fifties, the Hutus used that discourse to react against the Tutsis.”
Sound familiar? The Aryan-Dravidian conflicts are a carbon copy of the same racist divide, or the ‘convert and conquer’ policy. Fortunately that there is enough indigenous scholarship in India to fight and refute such political charlatanism, though it did succeed in dividing the people into mutually hostile camps. This was mainly due to the patronage extended to them by the ruling authorities— first the British and then the Marxist dominated Congress. Better sense is now beginning to prevail, though much too slowly. To their eternal disgrace, the ‘Secularist’ and Marxist historians of India and their political allies continue to peddle this racist nonsense in different guises. They shall live in infamy.
The basic problem with these race theories is that they are based not on any laws of nature, but man-made classifications that use externally observable features. As one scholar puts it: “The race concept has no scientific basis. Given any two individuals one can regard them as belonging to the same race by taking their common genetic characteristics, or, on the contrary, as belonging to different races by emphasizing the genetic characteristic in which they differ.” As an illustration, instead of choosing skin- and eye color as defining parameters, if one were to choose height and weight, one would end up with African Zulus and Scandinavians as belonging to the same race. Noting such anomalies, Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, widely regarded as the world’s foremost human geneticist, observed that such external features simply indicate changes due to adaptation to the environment. He points out that the rest of the genetic makeup of the human family hardly differs at all.
The same is true of misconceptions that lie at the root of the Aryan and Dravidian linguistic divide. The idea that different languages of a ‘family’ branched off from a single root language — sometimes called a proto-language — can be traced to the story of the Tower of Babel found in the Bible. Biblical beliefs like the creation of the world on October 23, 4004 BC have had great influence on the interpretation of Indian history and culture by nineteenth century Europeans. The great Max Muller himself admitted this Biblical belief was the reason why he used 1500 BC as the date of the Aryan invasion.

W.W. Hunter, another well-known Indologist from the same period was even more candid when he wrote: “… scholarship is warmed with the holy flame of Christian zeal.”

It is a fact that even in linguistics, the study of Dravidian languages has been dominated by Christian missionaries from Bishop Caldwell (see above) in the nineteenth century to Father Kamil Zvelebil today. As a result, theological arguments rather than any scientific method are used in propagating their beliefs. Here is an example.
Murray Emeneau, a prominent Dravidian linguist, wrote as recently as 1954: “At some time in the second millennium BC, probably comparatively early in the millennium, a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. This is our linguistic doctrine, which has been held now for more than a century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion.” Such a statement based on faith has no place in science. By no stretch of the imagination can such scholars be called scientific or even objective.

Cultural differences due to massive destruction
Culturally the differences that we find between North and South Indian temples can be attributed to the historical experience of the last few centuries. The Islamic onslaught destroyed centers of learning in North India. Alberuni who accompanied Mahmud of Ghazni on his campaigns in India wrote: “Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country, and performed there, wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all directions. … Their scattered remains cherish, of course, the most inveterate aversion of all the Muslims. This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places, which our hand cannot yet reach.”
A historical fact worth noting that the last great school of Indian mathematics flourished in far away Kerala in the 14-15th century, where Madhava and his students worked on problems of Calculus and Infinite Series more than two centuries before Newton and Gregory. India before the coming of Islam had many great centers of learning. Taxila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Sarnath and many more used to attract students from all over the world. Following the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, for the next six hundred years, not a center of learning worth the name was established. (I leave out Islamic theological centers.) It was only in the nineteenth century that universities began to reappear. Even Jantar Mantar, the observatory in Delhi, was set up by a Hindu prince and not the Moghuls.
It is a historical fact that the influence of Islam has been much greater in the North than the South. This resulted in a loss of tradition and skills, which had to be more or less re-acquired beginning in the 18th century. The main influence in the north has been of the Moghul Empire, while in the south it has been that of the Vijayanagar Empire and its successors like the kingdoms of Mysore, Travancore and Tanjavur. It would be a serious error to project this back into early history— something like projecting back the Portuguese influence on Goa into the remote past.
At the same time, the differences should not be exaggerated. For instance, in Kashmir, priests are recruited from Karnataka, while temples in Nepal have priests from Kerala. The very fact that Shakaracharya established centers in all corners of India shows that he was not considered an outsider by North Indians even in those days. All this brings us back to politics as the main contributor to the Aryan-Dravidian divide including linguistics. The originator of the Dravidian language theory was Bishop Caldwell, the author of the highly influential Comparative Grammar of Dravidian Languages (1856, 1875). He placed Dravidian languages in what he called the Scythian Language Family. When another linguist (Gover) criticized Caldwell for his unsound theories about the Scythian family and Dravidian languages, it drew the following response: “It would have been well, if Mr. Gover had made himself sure of perfectly apprehending Dr. Caldwell’s Scythic theory before regarding its refutation … as not only of considerable moment from a philological point of view but of vast moral and political importance.”

It was politics that created Dravidian political parties like the DMK. EV. Ramaswamy Naicker (EVR, see above left was the founder of DK which soon broke into several branches one of which is the DMK which further broke into pieces led by Karunanidhi and the late M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalthaa. Incidentally none of these was a Tamilian. EVR was a wealthy Kannada speaker from Coimbatore while Jayalalithaa came from an Iyengar family in Mysore. But if anyone, it is Bishop Caldwell who deserves credit as the founder of Dravidian parties.


Aryan Myth and Invasion — More Politics than history

By Dr. N.S. Rajaram

There is a great deal of confusion over the origins of the Aryan invasion theory and even the word Arya. It explains also the use and misuse of the word. Though both science and literature have discredited it, Indian history books continue to carry this colonial legacy.

Aryans: race or culture?
The evidence of science now points to two basic conclusions: first, there was no Aryan invasion, and second, the Rigvedic people were already established in India no later than 4000 BCE. How are we then to account for the continued presence of the Aryan invasion version of history in history books and encyclopedias even today?
Some of the results – like Jha’s work of the Indus seals (2000) – is still recent, and it is unrealistic to expect history books to reflect all the latest findings. But unfortunately, influential Indian historians and educators continue to resist all revisions and hold on to this racist creation – the Aryan invasion theory. Though there is now a tendency to treat the Aryan-Dravidian division as a linguistic phenomenon, its roots are decidedly racial and political, with Christian missionaries too playing their part, as we shall soon discover.
Speaking of the Aryan invasion theory, it would probably be an oversimplification to say: “Germans invented it, British used it,” but not by much. The concept of the Aryans as a race and the associated idea of the ‘Aryan nation’ were very much a part of the ideology of German nationalism. For reasons known only to them, Indian educational authorities have continued to propagate this obsolete fiction that degrades and divides her people. They have allowed their political biases and career interests to take precedence over the education of children. They continue to propagate a version that has no scientific basis.
Before getting to the role played by German nationalism, it is useful first to take a brief look at what the word Arya does mean. After Hitler and the Nazi atrocities, most people, especially Europeans, are understandably reluctant to be reminded of the word. But that was a European crime; Indians had no part in it. The real Aryans have lived in India for thousands of years without committing anything remotely resembling the Nazi horrors. So there is no need to be diffident in examining the origins of the European misuse of the word. In any event, history demands it.
The first point to note is that the idea of the Aryans as foreigners who invaded India and destroyed the existing Harappan Civilization is a modern European conceit; it receives no support whatsoever from Indian records – literary or archaeological. As I will show in a later article, the Mahabharata associates Harappan iconography as Vedic. The same is true of the notion of the Aryans as a race; it finds no support in Indian literature or tradition. The word ‘Arya’ in Sanskrit means noble and never a race. In fact, the authoritative Sanskrit lexicon (c. 450 AD), the famous Amarakosa gives the following definition:
mahakula kulinarya sabhya sajjana sadhavah
An Arya is one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct
And the great epic Ramayana has a singularly eloquent expression describing Rama as:
arya sarva samascaiva sadaiva priyadarsanah
Arya, who worked for the equality of all and was dear to everyone.
The Rigveda also uses the word Arya something like thirty six times, but never to mean a race. The nearest to a definition that one can find in the Rigveda is probably:
praja arya jyotiragrah … (Children of Arya are led by light)
RV, VII. 33.17
The word ‘light’ should be taken in the spiritual sense to mean enlightenment. The word Arya, according to those who originated the term, is to be used to describe those people who observed a code of conduct; people were Aryans or non-Aryans depending on whether or not they followed this code. This is made entirely clear in the Manudharma Shastra or the Manusmriti (X.43-45):
But in consequence of the omission of sacred rites, and of their not heeding the sages, the following people of the noble class [Arya Kshatriyas] have gradually sunk to the state of servants – the Paundrakas, Chodas, Dravidas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakhas, Paradhas, Pahlavas, Chinas, Kiratas and Daradas.
Two points about this list are worth noting: first, their fall from the Aryan fold had nothing to do with race, birth or nationality; it was due entirely to their failure to follow certain sacred practices. Second, the list includes people from all parts of India as well as a few neighboring countries like China and Persia (Pahlavas). Kambojas are from West Punjab, Yavanas from Afghanistan and beyond (not necessarily the Greeks) while Dravidas refers probably to people from the southwest of India and the South.
Thus, the modern notion of an Aryan-Dravidian racial divide is contradicted by ancient records. We have it on the authority of Manu that the Dravidians were also part of the Aryan fold. Interestingly, so were the Chinese. Race never had anything to do with it until the Europeans adopted the ancient word to give expression to their nationalistic and other aspirations.
Scientists have known this for quite some time. Sir Julian Huxley, one of the leading natural scientists of the century, wrote as far back as 1939:
In 1848 the young German scholar Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900) settled in Oxford, where he remained for the rest of his life. … About 1853 he introduced into the English language the unlucky term Aryan as applied to a large group of languages. …
Moreover, Max Muller (left) threw another apple of discord. He introduced a proposition that is demonstrably false. He spoke not only of a definite Aryan language and its descendants, but also of a corresponding ‘Aryan race’. The idea was rapidly taken up both in Germany and in England. It affected to some extent a certain number of the nationalistic and romantic writers, none of whom had any scientific or even ethnological training. …
In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature. In Germany the idea of the ‘Aryan’ race found no more scientific support than in England. Nonetheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it very flattering to local vanity.  (Like the Naziz, see left) It therefore spread, fostered by special conditions.
This should help settle the issue as far as its modern misuse is concerned. As far as ancient India is concerned, one may safely say that the word Arya denoted certain spiritual and cultural values that defined her civilization. The entire Aryan civilization – the civilization of Vedic India – was driven and sustained by these values. The whole of ancient Indian literature: from the Vedas, the Brahmanas to the Puranas to the epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana can be seen as a record of the struggles of an ancient people to live up to the ideals defined by these values. Anyone regardless of birth, race or national origin could become Aryan by following this code of conduct. It was not something to be imposed upon others by the sword or by proselytization. Viewed in this light, the whole notion of any ‘Aryan invasion’ is an absurdity. It is like talking about an ‘invasion of scientific thinking’.
Then there is also the fact that the concept of the Aryan race and the Aryan-Dravidian divide is a modern European invention that receives no support from any ancient source. To apply it to people who lived thousands of years ago is an exercise in anachronism if there ever was one.
The sum total of all this is that Indians have no reason to be defensive about the word Arya. It applies to everyone who has tried to live by the high ideals of an ancient culture regardless of race, language or nationality. It is a cultural designation of a people who created a great civilization. Anti-Semitism was an aberration of Christian European history, with its roots in the New Testament, of sayings like “He that is not with me is against me.” If the Europeans (and their Indian disciples) fight shy of the word, it is their problem stemming from their history. Modern India has many things for which she has reason to be grateful to European knowledge, but this is definitely not one of them.
The Aryan Fantasy Part II
While the Germans used it to give themselves an identity, the British used it to facilitate colonial rule
European currents imposed on India: ‘Aryan nation’
As Huxley makes clear in the passage cited earlier, the misuse of the word ‘Aryan’ was rooted in political propaganda aimed at appealing to local vanity. In order to understand the European misuse of the word Arya as a race, and the creation of the Aryan invasion idea, we need to go back to eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe, especially to Germany. The idea has its roots in European anti-Semitism. Recent research by scholars like Poliakov, Shaffer and others has shown that the idea of the invading Aryan race can be traced to the aspirations of eighteenth and nineteenth century Europeans to give themselves an identity that was free from the taint of Judaism.
To free themselves from this Jewish heritage, the intellectuals of Christian Europe looked east, to Asia. And there they saw two ancient civilizations – India and China. To them the Indian Aryans were preferable as ancestors to the Chinese. As Shaffer has observed:
Many scholars such as Kant and Herder began to draw analogies between the myths and philosophies of ancient India and the West. In their attempt to separate Western European culture from its Judaic heritage, many scholars were convinced that the origin of Western culture was to be found in India rather than in the ancient Near East.
So they became Aryans. But it was not the whole human race that was given this Aryan ancestry, but only a white race that came down from the mountains of Asia, subsequently became Christian and colonized Europe. No less an intellectual than Voltaire claimed to be “convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges – astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc.” (But Voltaire was emphatically not intolerant; he was in fact a strong critic of Church intolerance of his day.)
A modern student today can scarcely have an idea of the extraordinary influence of race theories in eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe. Many educated people really believed that human qualities could be predicted on the basis of measurements of physical characteristics like eye color, length of the nose and such. It went beyond prejudice, it was an article of faith amounting to an ideology. Here is an example of what passed for informed opinion on ‘race science’ by the well-known French savant Paul Topinard. Much of the debate centered on the relative merits of racial types called dolichocephalics and brachycephalics, though no one seemed to have a clear idea of what was which. Anyway, here is what Topinard wrote in 1893, which should give modern readers an idea of the level of scientific thinking prevailing in those days:
The Gauls, according to history, were a people formed of two elements: the leaders or conquerors, blond, tall dolichocephalic, leptroscopes, etc. But the mass of the people, were small, relatively brachycephalic chaemeophrosopes. The brachycephalics were always oppressed. They were the victims of dolicocephalics who carried them off from their fields. … The blond people changed from warriors into merchants and industrial workers. The brachycephalics breathed again. Being naturally prolific, their numbers [of brachycephalics] increased while the dolichocephalics naturally diminished. … Does the future not belong to them? [Sic: Belong to whom? – dolichocephalic leptroscopes, or brachycephalic chaemeophrosopes?]
Enlightenment sought to free themselves from their Jewish heritage. It is interesting to note that this very same theory – of the Aryan invasion and colonization of Europe – was later applied to India and became the Aryan invasion theory of India. In reality it was nothing more than a projection into the remote past of the contemporary European experience in colonizing parts of Asia and Africa. Substituting European for Aryan, and Asian or African for Dravidian will give us a description of any of the innumerable colonial campaigns in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. According to this theory, the Aryans were carbon copies of colonizing Europeans. Seen in this light the theory is not even especially original.
The greatest effect of these ideas was on the psyche of the German people. German nationalism was the most powerful political movement of nineteenth century Europe. The idea of the Aryan race was a significant aspect of the German nationalistic movement. We are now used to regarding Germany as a rich and powerful country, but the German people at the beginning of the nineteenth century were weak and divided. There was no German nation at the time; the map of Europe then was dotted with numerous petty German principalities and dukedoms that had always been at the mercy of the neighboring great powers – Austria and France. For more than two centuries, from the time of the Thirty Years War to the Napoleonic conquests, the great powers had marched their armies through these petty German states treating these people and their rulers with utter disdain. It was very much in the interests of the French to keep the German people divided, a tactic later applied to India by the British. Every German at the time believed that he and his rulers were no more than pawns in great power rivalries. This had built up deep resentments in the hearts and minds of the German people. This was to have serious consequences for history.
Whereas the German involvement in things Indian was emotional and romantic, the British interest was entirely practical, even though there were scholars like Jones and Colebrooke who were admirers of India and its literature. Well before the 1857 uprising it was recognized that British rule in India could not be sustained without a large number of Indian collaborators.
Recognizing this reality, influential men like Thomas Babbington Macaulay, who was Chairman of the Education Board, sought to set up an educational system modeled along British lines that would also serve to undermine the Hindu tradition. While not a missionary himself, Macaulay came from a deeply religious family steeped in the Protestant Christian faith. His father was a Presbyterian minister and his mother a Quaker. He believed that the conversion of Hindus to Christianity held the answer to the problems of administering India. His idea was to create an English educated elite that would repudiate its tradition and become British collaborators. In 1836, while serving as chairman of the Education Board in India, he enthusiastically wrote his father:
“Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. The effect of this education on the Hindus is prodigious. …… It is my belief that if our plans of education are followed up, there will not be a single idolator among the respectable classes in Bengal thirty years hence. And this will be effected without any efforts to proselytize, without the smallest interference with religious liberty, by natural operation of knowledge and reflection. I heartily rejoice in the project.”
So religious conversion and colonialism were to go hand in hand. As Arun Shourie has pointed out in his book Missionaries in India, European Christian missions were an appendage of the colonial government, with missionaries working hand in glove with the government. In a real sense, they cannot be called religious organizations at all but an unofficial arm of the Imperial Administration. (The same is true of many Catholic missions in Central American countries who were, and probably are, in the pay of the American CIA. This was admitted by a CIA director, testifying before the Congress.)
The key point here is Macaulay’s belief that ‘knowledge and reflection’ on the part of the Hindus, especially the Brahmins, would cause them to give up their age-old belief in favor of Christianity. In effect, his idea was to turn the strength of Hindu intellectuals against them, by utilizing their commitment to scholarship in uprooting their own tradition. His plan was to educate the Hindus to become Christians and turn them into collaborators. He was being very naive no doubt, to think that his scheme could really succeed in converting India to Christianity. At the same time it is a measure of his seriousness that Macaulay persisted with the idea for fifteen years until he found the money and the right man for turning his utopian idea into reality.
In pursuit of this goal he needed someone who would translate and interpret Indian scriptures, especially the Vedas, in such a way that the newly educated Indian elite would see the differences between them and the Bible and choose the latter. Upon his return to England, after a good deal of effort he found a talented but impoverished young German Vedic scholar by the name of Friedrich Max Muller who was willing to undertake this arduous task.
Bargain with the Devil
Macaulay used his influence with the East India Company to find funds for Max Muller’s translation of the Rigveda. Though an ardent German nationalist, Max Muller agreed for the sake of Christianity to work for the East India Company, which in reality meant the British Government of India. He also badly needed a major sponsor for his ambitious plans, which he felt he had at last found.
This was the genesis of his great enterprise, translating the Rigveda with Sayana’s commentary and the editing of the fifty-volume Sacred Books of the East. There can be no doubt at all regarding Max Muller’s commitment to the conversion of Indians to Christianity. Writing to his wife in 1866 he observed:
It [the Rigveda] is the root of their religion and to show them what the root is, I feel sure, is the only way of uprooting all that has sprung from it during the last three thousand years.
Two years later he also wrote the Duke of Argyle, then acting Secretary of State for India: “The ancient religion of India is doomed. And if Christianity does not take its place, whose fault will it be?” The facts therefore are clear: like Lawrence of Arabia in this century, Max Muller, though a scholar was an agent of the British government paid to advance its colonial interests.
But he remained an ardent German nationalist even while working in England. This helps explain why he used his position as a recognized Vedic and Sanskrit scholar to promote the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ and ‘nation’, both favorite slogans among German nationalists. Though he was later to repudiate it, it was Max Muller as much as anyone who popularized the notion of Arya as a race. This of course was to reach its culmination in the rise of Hitler and the horrors of Nazism in our own century.
Although it would be unfair to blame Max Muller for the rise of Nazism, he, as an eminent scholar of the Vedas and Sanskrit, bears a heavy responsibility for the deliberate misuse of a term in response to the emotion of the moment. He was guilty of giving scriptural sanction to the worst prejudice of his or any age. Not everyone however was guilty of such abuse. Wilhem Schlegel, no less a German nationalist, or romantic, always used the word ‘Arya’ to mean honorable and never in a racial sense. Max Muller’s misuse of the term may be pardonable in an ignoramus, but not in a scholar of his stature.
At the same time it should be pointed out that there is nothing to indicate that Max Muller was himself a racist. He was a decent and honorable man who had many Indian friends. He simply allowed himself to be carried away by the emotion of the moment, and the heady feeling of being regarded an Aryan sage by fellow German nationalists. To be always in the public eye was a lifelong weakness with the man. With the benefit of hindsight we can say that Max Muller saw the opportunity and made a ‘bargain with the devil’ to gain fame and fortune. It would be a serious error however to judge the man based on this one unseemly episode in a many-sided life. His contribution as editor and publisher of ancient works is great beyond dispute. He was a great man and we must be prepared to recognize it.
Much now is made of the fact that Max Muller later repudiated the racial aspects of this theory, claiming it to be a linguistic concept. But this again owed more to winds of change in European politics than to science or scholarship. Britain had been watching the progress of German nationalism with rising anxiety that burst into near hysteria in some circles when Prussia crushed France in the Franco-Prussian war in 1871. This led to German unification under the banner of Prussia. Suddenly Germany became the most populous and powerful country in Western Europe and the greatest threat to British ambitions. Belief was widespread among British Indian authorities that India and Sanskrit studies had made a major contribution to German unification. Sir Henry Maine, a former Vice Chancellor of Calcutta university and an advisor to the Viceroy echoed the sentiment of many Englishmen when he said: “A nation has been born out of Sanskrit.”
This obviously was an exaggeration, but to the British still reeling from the effects of the 1857 revolt, the specter of German unification being repeated in India was very real. Max Muller though found himself in an extremely tight spot. Though a German by birth he was now comfortably established in England, in the middle of his lifework on the Vedas and the Sacred Books of the East. His youthful flirtation with German nationalism and this race theory could now cost him dear. German unification was followed in England by an outburst of British jingoism in which Bismarck and his policies were being daily denounced; Bismarck had become extremely unpopular in England for his expansionist policies. With his background as a German nationalist, the last thing Max Muller could afford was to be seen as advocating German ideology in Victorian England. He had no choice but to repudiate his former theories simply to survive in England. He reacted by hastily propounding a new ‘linguistic theory.’
So in 1872, immediately following German unification, the culmination of the century long dream of German nationalists, Friedrich Max Muller marched into a university in German occupied France and dramatically denounced the German doctrine of the Arya race. And just as he had been an upholder of this race theory for the first twenty years of his career, he was to remain a staunch opponent of it for the remaining thirty years of his life. It is primarily in the second role that he is remembered today, except by those familiar with the whole history.
Let us now take a final look at this famous theory. It was first a theory of Europe created by Europeans to free themselves from the Jewish heritage of Christianity. This was to lead to Hitler and Nazism. This theory was later transferred to India and got mixed up with the study of Sanskrit and European languages. Europeans, now calling themselves Indo-Europeans became the invading Aryas and the natives became the Dravidians. The British hired Max Muller to use this theory to turn the Vedas into an inferior scripture, to help turn educated Hindus into Christian collaborators. Max Muller used his position as a Vedic scholar to boost German nationalism by giving scriptural sanction to the German idea of the Arya race. Following German unification under Bismarck, British public and politicians became scared and anti-German. At this Max Muller, worried about his position in England, got cold feet and wriggled out of his predicament by denouncing his own former racial theory and turned it into a linguistic theory. In all of this, one would like to know where was the science?
As Huxley pointed out long ago, there was never any scientific basis for the Arya race or their incursion. It was entirely a product – and tool – of propagandists and politicians. Giving it a linguistic twist was simply an afterthought, dictated by special circumstances and expediency.
The fact that Europeans should have concocted this scenario, which by repeated assertion became a belief system is not to be wondered at. They were trying to give themselves a cultural identity, entirely understandable in a people as deeply concerned about their history and origins as the modern Europeans. But how to account for the tenacious attachment to this fiction that is more propaganda than history on the part of ‘establishment’ Indian historians? It is not greatly to their credit that modern Indian historians – with rare exceptions – have failed to show the independence of mind necessary to subject this theory to a fresh examination and come up with a more realistic version of history. Probably they lack also the necessary scientific skills and have little choice beyond continuing along the same well-worn paths that don’t demand much more than reiterating nineteenth century formulations.
It is not often that a people look to a land and culture far removed from them in space and time for their inspiration as the German nationalists did. This should make modern Indian historians examine the causes in Europe for this unusual phenomenon. It is one of the great failures of scholarship that they failed to do so.
We no longer have to continue along this discredited path. Now thanks to the contributions of science — from the pioneering exploration of V.S. Wakankar and his discovery of the Vedic river Sarasvati to Jha’s decipherment of the Indus script – we are finally allowed a glimpse into the ancient world of the Vedic Age. The AI theory and its creators and advocates are on their way to the dustbin of history.
Conclusion: sound historiography, not Indology is the answer
The rise and fall of Indology closely parallels the growth and decline of European colonialism and the Euro-centric domination of Indian intellectual life. (Marxism is the most extreme of Euro-centric doctrines – a ‘Christian heresy’ as Bertrand Russell called it.) The greatest failure of Indology has been its inability to evolve an objective methodology for the study of the sources. Even after two hundred years of existence, there is no common body of knowledge that can serve as foundation, or technical tools that be used in addressing specific problems. All that Indologists have given us are theories and more theories, almost all of them borrowed from other disciplines. If one went to botany to borrow tree diagrams for the study of languages, another went to psychology to study sacrificial rituals, and a third – followed by a whole battalion – borrowed the idea of the class struggle from Marx to apply to Vedic society. Not one of them stopped to think whether it would not be better to try to study the ancients through the eyes of the ancients themselves. And yet ample materials exist to follow such a course.
With the benefit of hindsight, even setting aside irrational biases due to politics and Biblical beliefs, we can now recognize that Indology has been guilty of two fundamental methodological errors.
• First, linguists have confused their theories – based on their own classifications and even whimsical assumptions – for fundamental laws of nature that reflect historical reality.
• Secondly, archaeologists, at least a significant number of them, have subordinated their own interpretations to the historical, cultural, and even the chronological impositions of the linguists. (Remember the Biblical Creation in 4,004 BCE which gave this incursion in 1500 BCE!) This has resulted in a fundamental methodological error of confounding primary data from archaeology with modern impositions like the AI and other theories and even their dates.
This mixing of unlikes – further confounded by religious beliefs and political theories – is a primary source of the confusion that plagues the history and archaeology of ancient India. In their failure to investigate the sources, modern scholars – Indian scholars in particular – have much to answer for.
As an immediate consequence of this, the vast body of primary literature from the Vedic period has been completely divorced from Harappan archaeology under the dogmatic belief that the Vedas and Sanskrit came later. This has meant that this great literature and its creators have no archaeological or even geographical existence. In our view, the correct approach to breaking this deadlock is by a combination of likes – a study of primary data from archaeology alongside the primary literature from ancient periods.

This means we must be wary of modern theories intruding upon ancient data and texts. The best course is to disregard them. They have outlived their usefulness if they had any.
In the final analysis, Indology – like the Renaissance and the Romantic Movement – should be seen as part of European history. And Indologists – from Max Muller to his modern successors – have contributed no more to the study of ancient India than Herodotus. Their works tell us more about them than about India. It is time to make a new beginning. The decipherment of the Indus script – and the scientific methodology leading up to it – can herald this new beginning.
1. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, famous for his work on the Indian Constitution, as well as his campaign in support of the nation’s dalit community noticed the racial overtones underlying the theory and described the British espousal of the Aryan Invasion theory in the following words: “The theory of invasion is an invention. This invention is necessary because of a gratuitous assumption that the Indo-Germanic people are the purest of the modern representation of the original Aryan race. The theory is a perversion of scientific investigation. It is not allowed to evolve out of facts. On the contrary, the theory is preconceived and facts are selected [and perverted] to prove it. It falls to the ground at every point.”
2.. In calling upper caste Hindus Aryans, the British appealed to their vanity As Sri Aurobindo once observed, they claimed: “What has taken place since the commencement of the British rule in India is only a reunion, to a certain extent, of the members of the same family,” John Wilson, a colonial missionary, declared with a straight face, and naturally this happy reunion had now brought India into contact “with the most enlightened and philanthropic nation in the world.” – quoted by Sri Aurobindo: The Origins of Aryan Speech, (The Secret of the Veda, p. 554).

3. It is worth noting that it has no longer any support in the West in political circles. But political parties like Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu and the LTTE in Sri Lanka, both supported by the churches have kept it alive. It is not widely known that prominent LTTE leaders like Prabhakaran have been Christians even while carrying Hindu names.

4. There still are a few Western academics even at some prestigious universities who seem loathe to give up the Aryan theories. Prominent among them is Michael Witzel of Harvard (Top Left) who continues to support and campaigns for his scientifically discredited theories.




People of India have been one genetically, linguistically and culturally for at least 50,000 years. Though not always united politically, uniting them under a single chatra has been a cherished goal since Vedic times. The Arya-Dravida racial and linguistic division is a political creation based on shoddy scholarship that has no scientific basis.

Dr. Navaratna Rajaram

Background: Biblical superstition becomes ‘history’

            Unlike most academic disciplines, Indology (i.e. Western study of India) and its offshoot of Indo-European studies can be dated almost to the day. In a lecture in Kolkotta delivered on 2 February 1786 (and published in 1788) Sir William Jones, a forty year-old British jurist in the service of the East India Company observed:

“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists…”

This enormously influential statement is well known but not the errors Jones committed like his dating of Indian tradition based on the Biblical superstition that the world was created on Sunday, 23rd of October 4004 BCE at 9:00 AM— time zone not specified. The date was first derived by the Irish bishop James Ussher (1581 – 1656) following a literal reading of the Bible combined with the belief that world would end 2000 years after Christ or some twelve years ago.

This was the beginning of the myth that Vedic civilization was brought to India by ‘fair skinned’ Aryans who invaded India and first overcame and then imposed their language and culture the darker Dravidians who were the original natives of India (as the Europeans did in the Americas). The just mentioned Biblical superstition is the basis for the assertion that the Aryan invasion took place in 1500 BCE, and the Rig Veda was composed in 1200 BCE. An earlier date for the Rigveda which science now dictates would violate the Biblical date of 4004 BCE for the Creation.

While it sounds comical today, it was taught as history through most of the nineteenth century. It is surreal experience to go through a Bible published in the nineteenth century; supposedly ‘historical’ events like the Genesis, Noah’s Flood and the like are printed in red, with dates like 4004 BC given in the margin. The practice of teaching this persisted even though both Darwin’s theory of evolution and geology had determined the earth had to be millions of years old to support fossils and the enormous diversity of life forms. Even this very greatly underestimated its age. (The current estimate for the age of the earth is about 4.5 billion years.)

Indian records manipulated to fit the Bible

Jones was a capable linguist and knew some Sanskrit. His task was to study Indian texts and understand Hindu law to help administer British justice in a manner acceptable to them. In his study of Hindu texts like the Puranas he came across dates that went much further back than the Biblical date for Creation. He dismissed them as superstitions (for failing to agree with the Biblical superstition) and imposed a chronology on Indian history and tradition to fit within the Biblical framework.

This was to have fateful consequences for the study of India over the succeeding two centuries down to the present. To cite an example, Indian tradition going back at least to the mathematician Aryabhata (476 – 540 CE) has held that the Kali Age began with the Mahabharata War in 3102 BCE. This marks the end of an era known as the Vedic Age. Accepting it takes the beginning of the Vedic period as well as several dynasties like the Ikshwakus to 6000 BCE and earlier. This is millennia before the Biblical date for Creation which men like Jones could not accept.

Dates based on the Biblical chronology were accepted as historically valid by most Western scholars like F. Max Müller, the most influential of them. He explicitly stated that he took the Biblical account including the date to be historical. Most of them were classical scholars or students of religion and had no inkling of science. The widely quoted dates of 1500 BCE for the Aryan invasion and the 1200 BCE date for the Rig Veda were imposed to make them conform to the Biblical date of 4004 BCE.

The situation has not changed much in the succeeding two centuries. Indologists like Wendy Doniger, Diana Eck, Michael Witzel and their Indian counterparts like Romila Thapar have little comprehension of the revolution in our understanding of the past brought about by science in the past few decades. They continue to quote 1200 BCE for the Rig Veda without mentioning that it rests on the authority of a 400 year-old Biblical superstition! (Some ‘scholars’ like Doniger and Thapar don’t know any Sanskrit either but that is a different issue.) The main point is they know no more science than their nineteenth century predecessors did.

Pseudo-scholarship dividing the people of India

            With the benefit of hindsight we can say that a major blunder committed by these early scholars—mostly missionaries like Bishop Caldwell (more later) and bureaucrats (like Jones and his followers)—was to assume that they could trace the evolution and spread of languages by looking at modern and possibly earlier languages. It is necessary to emphasize the fact that this is an assumption on which the whole field of historical linguistics rests; it has never been convincingly demonstrated or even tested but is rarely questioned by its proponents. They took this belief to the study of the following real problem.

It has long been known, going back well before Jones’s discovery, Indian and European languages are related. For example, what is deva in Sanskrit becomes dio in Latin, theo in Greek and dieu in French. Similarly, agni for fire in Sanskrit becomes ignis in Latin from which we get the English words ignite and ignition. Amusingly, the famous Russian drink vodka has its Sanskrit cognate in udaka both meaning water. And there are many more, far too many to be seen as coincidence.

To explain this, at least in India and the Indian context, scholars created the famous, now infamous Aryan invasion theory or the AIT. It claims that bands of invading ‘Aryan’ tribes brought both the ancestor of the Sanskrit language and the Vedic literature from somewhere in Eurasia or even Europe. (For reasons that are both unnecessary and unclear, these invaders were made to be fair skinned and blonde!)

This ‘theory’, in reality a conjecture, was the result of scholars assuming that the ancestors of Indians and Europeans must at one time have lived in a common place speaking a common language before they spread across Asia, Eurasia and Europe carrying their language which later split into different languages. They called these speakers Indo-Europeans and their languages—from North India to Europe—the Indo-European family. They called the original language Proto-Indo-European or PIE, a term sometimes applied to its speakers also. (This too has its Biblical counterpart in the story of the Tower of Babel.)

European linguists soon followed up on these ideas but in their newfound enthusiasm and ignorance of science, committed two egregious blunders. First, they borrowed the Sanskrit word Arya which only means civilized and turned it into a geographical and then a racial term by applying it to the people and languages of North India. (The correct term for North India is Gauda, just as Dravida refers to the south.) Next, they placed South Indian languages in a totally different category called the Dravidian family excluding them from nearly all discourse about Indo-Europeans.

By this they created a two-fold division of India: first a linguistic division into Aryan and Dravidian languages, accompanied by a racial division of the main people of India into Aryan and Dravidan races. This supposedly scholarly exercise had political backing as well as missionary support. It was an essential part of the divide and rule policy adopted by the British. It is still part of the missionary armory, characterizing ‘Dravidians’ as victims of Aryan aggression. Its political legacy continues to the present in the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu. These politicians and missionaries are the staunchest upholders of the scientifically and historically discredited Aryan-Dravidian divide.

The discipline they created called philology and Indo-European studies soon got mixed up with crackpot theories on race and language— like the ‘Aryan’ race speaking ‘Aryan’ languages somehow ending up in Nazi Germany! There was even an ‘Aryan’ science movement that demonized Einstein and his ‘Jewish’ physics! It was denounced by scientists, especially in the twentieth century, but politics and prejudice kept it alive for over a century. In addition to the Nazi ideology, British colonial policy used race as a way of classifying its British Indian subjects.

While race theories were discredited by Nazi atrocities, the linguistic division of both languages and the people of India has continued. In its original usage Arya means civilized and never applied to a region or language. Gauda is the proper term for the north while Dravida refers to the south or peninsular India. In reality South Indian languages are much closer to Sanskrit in both grammar and vocabulary, whereas with European languages any similarity is limited to vocabulary.

Like Indian languages today that have borrowed technical terms from English, European languages thousands of years ago borrowed Sanskrit terms as needed. Science now tells us that Indo-Europeans were a later offshoot of Gauda-Dravida speakers (the white or the blank portion of India in the map to the left). We shall get to this later, but first a brief look at what science has to say about our genes is in order.

March of science: no different races but some common genes

The first point to note is that race is not a scientific term. There is no scientific test that can determine a person’s race. Our genes do not distinguish between south and north Indians or between members of different castes and tribes. The second point is that race is also not an Indian notion, but a European obsession of the colonial period. All scientists including European scientists have denounced both Indologists and Nazis for using race as a means of classification. As far back as 1939, Sir Julian Huxley, one of the great natural scientists of the twentieth century wrote:

In England and America the phrase ‘Aryan race’ has quite ceased to be used by writers with scientific knowledge, though it appears occasionally in political and propagandist literature…. In Germany, the idea of the ‘Aryan race’ received no more scientific support than in England. Nevertheless, it found able and very persistent literary advocates who made it appear very flattering to local vanity. It therefore steadily spread, fostered by special conditions.


These ‘special conditions’ were the rise of Nazism in Germany and British imperial interests in India, their divide and rule policy. Still Indian politicians and academics with vested interests have continued to propagate such degrading and unscientific ideas to protect their positions and reputations. While these people from Dravidian politicians of Tamil Nadu (but not other South Indian states) and ‘secularist’ academics continue to peddle their discredited theories, molecular biology has driven the final nail in the coffin. They belong now in the dustbin of history along with the people who propagate them.

What real science now has to say is the exact opposite of what these ‘scholars’ have been telling us. Science tells us that our ancestors have lived in India for something like 60,000 years. The same science also tells us that several waves of Indians left India to settle down in Central Asia, Eurasia and Europe. (And also East and Southeast Asia as far as Australia, but that though important is not discussed here.) The first wave was 45,000 years ago, the second about 10,000 years ago and the third perhaps as recently as 5000 years ago. This essentially explains the language mystery— why languages of Europe are related to Indian languages, particularly they carry a layer of Sanskrit over them.

What has allowed us to unlock the mysteries of IE origins is science, especially natural history and population genetics. Europe is a relative late comer to the scene. According to science, modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Then about 65,000 years ago, small groups of our African ancestors made their way to South Asia traveling along the Arabian coast. All non-Africans living in the world today are descended from these one thousand or so original settlers in South Asia. They flourished in a small area for some ten thousand years in South-Central India. This means, Europeans are a branch of these Indians, the world’s oldest population group outside Africa.

For the next ten thousand years or so they led a precarious existence by hunting and gathering. About 52,000 years ago there was a dramatic warming in climate. This led to increase in both population and territory. It was followed by a mass extinction of animals probably due to over-hunting. Shortly after this, about 45,000 years ago or so, small groups left the Indian subcontinent in search of better hunting territory and made their way to Eurasia and Europe. These are the first Indo-Europeans. The language they took with them, possibly more than one, was descended from the primordial Afro-Indian and became the first Indo-European. We have no idea what it was like. But we may surmise the following scenario based on genetic evidence.

African ancestors → Afro-Indians → South Asians (Indians) → Indo-Europeans

This means, Indians have lived where they are today and evolved for over 60,000 years, and are the oldest non-African humans in the world. Here is how Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza of Stanford University, the world’s greatest population geneticist puts it:

Taken together, these results show 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…

Put in non-technical language, it means that the Indian population—upper castes, tribals (or indigenous peoples), Dravidians, so forth—are mainly of indigenous origin, and the contribution of immigrants is negligible. So, various socio-historical theories popular in India and the West that divide the Indian people into original inhabitants (adivasis), Dravidians and upper caste Hindus as later invaders/immigrants are simply not true.

The same holds for the languages of India except for latecomers like Persian and English. This means the languages Indians speak today have evolved from what they have been speaking over the same period.

This means there are no Aryan or Dravidian genes but a common Indian genetic pool with local variations— something like regional variations like accents in spoken languages. This was dramatically confirmed by a recent study by Dr. Lalji Singh, considered India’s leading expert on the genetics of the population groups of India. As he puts it: “It is impossible to distinguish castes and tribes from the [genetic] data.” Only some highly isolated group over very long time periods may exhibit differences like the tribes of the Andamans. This accounted for what is known as genetic drift.

Common Haplogroups

Without getting too technical we may look at the distribution what is known as the R1a1 genetic marker (haplogroup) to get an idea of this. It is present in high caste Brahmins of East and West Coast (Konkan and Bengal), Punjabi Khatris, and also in a tribe in Andhra Pradesh called the Chenchus! How do we explain this except by admixture over a long period of time?

In summary, the Indian population is overwhelmingly indigenous, the oldest in the world outside Africa, and also inextricably mixed with some local variations. There is no way of telling them apart. It is therefore absurd for historians and politicians to divide people on the basis of race and caste— as foreign and native. This is politics not science or history.

Map of IE languages: the blank (white) portion in India

belongs to the Dravida people and languages


Language evolution: Gauda-Dravida before Indo-European

Just as there is no Aryan race due to any invasion, and no Dravidians subdued by the invaders, we find also there are no ‘Aryan’ languages brought by invaders. What we have instead are regional languages that evolved over a very long period—50,000 years or more—after our African ancestors settled in India, perhaps 60,000 years ago if not earlier. More particularly, modern Indo-European languages themselves branched out of Indian languages when Indians migrated to Central Asia, Eurasia and Europe.

We can forget the current theory about Sanskrit being a branch of Proto-Indo-European introduced by the invading Aryans. It is crackpot theory born out of race prejudice and colonial interests. They simply could not stomach the idea that their languages had owed so much to India and Sanskrit. Also, we just saw that Indo-Europeans themselves originated in India and could not have brought Indian languages into India! (Unless they happened to make an abrupt U-turn and headed back home. Even then they would only be bringing back the language they had just taken from India!) Fortunately science can help us though we still have a great deal to learn.

In their ignorance of both science and Indian tradition, European linguists committed two egregious blunders. First, they borrowed the Sanskrit word Arya which only means civilized and turned it into a geographical and then a racial term by applying it to the people and languages of North India. (The correct term for North India is Gauda, just as Dravida refers to the south.) Next, they placed South Indian languages in a totally different category called the Dravidian family excluding them from nearly all discourse about Indo-Europeans. In reality South Indian languages are much closer to Sanskrit in both grammar and vocabulary, whereas with European languages it is limited to vocabulary. Science now tells us that Indo-Europeans were a later offshoot of Gauda-Dravida speakers.

This point—the closeness of the so-called Dravidian languages to Sanskrit—needs to be emphasized, for keeping the two separated continues to be part of a political and academic agenda. In truth, there are no reasons to suppose that Gauda and Dravida languages including Sanskrit had ever remained in separated exclusive domains. Some covert Aryan theorists like Thomas Trautmann go to the extent of claiming that the Dravidian family was ‘discovered’ by Bishop Robert Caldwell in 1835, just as Sanskrit was ‘discovered’ by Jones in 1786. The truth is by then they had a two thousand year history of coexistence and at no time were the Dravida people ignorant of Sanskrit. Then as now Sanskrit was cultivated all over India. It was never a regional language.

The key is to recognize language evolution as an inseparable part of human evolution, especially in primitive societies where the means of communication is limited to speech and memory. For 50,000 years the people of India lived mainly by hunting and gathering.

Towards the end of the Ice Age, about 11,000 years ago, agriculture originating in tropical Asia (India and Southeast Asia) replaced hunting-gathering leading to much larger populations. Important domestic animals including the horse were also domesticated in the region (There is no truth to the claim that horses were unknown in India before the Aryan invaders brought them.) There were now several languages in north and south India which my colleagues and I call Gauda and Dravida languages. (Arya means civilized and inappropriate for region or language.)

There were two major developments during the Holocene or the period after the Ice Age 10,000 years ago. First, there was intense activity leading eventually to the creation of the Vedas and the language that became Sanskrit by incorporating features found in both northern (Gauda) and southern (Dravida) sources. This accounts for the so-called Dravidian features found in the Vedas as well as the closeness of Dravidian grammars to Sanskrit grammar. The other was a second wave of people out of India who took with them both Sanskrit related languages and agricultural skills along with domestic animals including rats and mice! This accounts for the closeness of Sanskrit to European languages, in vocabulary if not grammar.

South Asians (Gauda-Dravida) → Indo-Europeans (second wave)

This means there were two major waves of Indo-Europeans, both out of India into the north and west. We know of the first (c. 45,000 BCE) only from genetic studies of modern populations around the world. We have no idea what their languages were like. The second, and much more recent, occurred at the turn of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition some 10,000 years ago. It has left many traces in archaeology, genetics, culture, and above all in the Sanskritic imprint on the languages of Europe and Eurasia. This is supplemented by genetic and other scientific data relating to animals that accompanied them including of rats and mice!

In summary, like its people, the languages of India also are indigenous evolutions until the coming of Turkic and Persian in medieval times and English in the modern. Neither caused any breaks but only adaptations as Indian languages and culture continued. Both Northern (Gauda) and Dravidian languages are ancient and native and have always coexisted. Both Vedic and literary Sanskrit were created by borrowing elements from Gauda and Dravida languages. That is why it is called Samskrita meaning composed or constructed. This means India’s cultural unity is also of the same antiquity, which is our next point.

Unity of India is of untold antiquity: anointing of emperors

We may next look at the claim first made by the British, later faithfully repeated by the Leftist (and ‘Secular’) intellectuals, that the British unified India. This is completely false. The British might have brought benefits to India, but unity was not one of them. The unity of India, rooted in her ancient culture, is of untold antiquity. It may have been divided at various times into smaller kingdoms, but the goal was always to be united under a ‘Chakravartin’ or a ‘Samrat’. This unity was cultural though not always political. This cultural unity was seriously damaged during the medieval period, when India was engaged in a struggle for survival— like what is happening in Kashmir today. Going back thousands of years, India had been united under a single ruler many times. The earliest recorded emperor of India is Bharata, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyanta, but there were several others. Here are a few examples from the Aitareya Brahmana.

            “With this great anointing of Indra, Dirghatamas Mamateya anointed Bharata Daushanti. Therefore, Bharata Daushanti went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.

            “With this great anointing of Indra, Tura Kavasheya anointed Janamejaya Parikshita. Therefore Janamejaya Parikshita went round the earth completely, conquering on every side and offered the horse in sacrifice.”

This Janamejaya Parikshita is not the same as Arjuna’s great-grandson who performed the snake sacrifice and in whose court Vaishampayana first recited the Mahabharata, but a much earlier king. There are similar statements about Sudasa Paijavana anointed by Vasistha (see image left for a claimed likeness, Anga anointed by Udamaya Atreya, Durmukha Pancala anointed by Brihadukta and Atyarati Janampati anointed by Vasistha Satyahavya. Atyarati, though not born a king, became an emperor and went on conquer even the Uttara Kuru or the modern Sinkiang and Turkestan that lie north of Kashmir.

There are others also mentioned in the Shathapatha Brahmana and also the Mahabharata. This shows that the idea of political unity of India is ancient though rarely achieved.  Other great empires like the Maurya (the largest in Indian history), Gupta, Chalukya, Vijayanagara ruled over substantial empires.  But even while ruling over only parts of India, cultural unity was recognized by all. Even in the 13th century, when much of North India was under the rule of Firuz Shah Tughlak, Acharya Madhva and a few of his disciples met the Sultan and explained their interest in traveling to Badri and Kedarnath. They were allowed to go unmolested.

The British were only the last imperial rulers. Also, the British did not rule over a unified India. They had treaties with the rulers of hereditary kingdoms like Mysore, Kashmir, Hyderabad and others that were more or less independent. The person who united all these was Sardar Patel, not the British. So the Sardar should be placed alongside the other great political unifiers of India. But this unification was possible only because India is culturally one. Pakistan, with no such identity or cultural unity, in spite of a single religion, is in endless turmoil and falling apart.

So India is one— genetically, linguistically, culturally. It is politics that has both divided and united it geographically. But politics of the moment cannot change more permanent factors that make India a nation. So let us not believe false theories and propaganda about Aryan-Dravidian divides and the like put out by self serving propagandists and politicians pretending to be scholars.

Conclusion: Indology collapses in the West

            Indology is a colonial discipline created by colonial administrators (like Jones) and missionaries (like Bishop Caldwell) to meet colonial and missionary interests. People of India have long been made to believe that Indology (and Sanskrit) departments in Europe and America are thriving and setting the lead which Indians would be wise to follow. This is far from true. Indology centers as far apart as Cambridge (UK), Berlin, Louvain and others are being closed down. This is simply a reflection of the fact that both the field and its practitioners filled a need during the colonial era but are now irrelevant in this age of postcolonial globalization. There were none like them before European colonization and there will be none in the foreseeable future. The long twilight of colonialism has ended and darkness is descending on the Old World. That is the reality today.

This becomes apparent when we look at what is happening to programs in the West. Harvard, where Michael Witzel had made it one of the last bastions of the Aryan invasion version of history can serve as an illustration. His department of Sanskrit and India Studies no longer exists. It has been split and parts merged into the South Asia Center and the Harvard Divinity School as part of comparative religion. Witzel himself has stated that his Sanskrit program had only three students. (Cambridge University in England had none.)

Recognizing this, the Harvard South Asia Center emphasizes topics of contemporary interest like international business, Hindu-Muslim relations, socio-economic development and the like. It is no accident that the Center happens to be headed by Tarun Khanna of the Harvard Business School and not any antiquarian scholar. The future, one can only speculate will see a further separation of India studies into religious studies and current affairs like political science, business and other fields of contemporary interest.

This means ancient India as being still taught in many Indian schools and colleges is on the way to the dustbin of history in the lands of the people who created them. Only Indians are clinging to this scientifically discredited version out of what Sri Aurobindo long ago called the Indians’ “excessive deference for Western opinion.” Even that ‘Western opinion’ is a thing of the past that has been discarded by students of India in the West today. It is time that Indian educators recognize this reality and get rid of this colonial baggage that is poisoning the minds of Indian youth.


Frawley, David and Navaratna Rajaram (2008) Hidden Horizons: 10,000 years of Indian Culture. Swaminarayan, BAPS.

Kapur, Kamlesh (2010) History of Ancient India: Portraits of a Nation, Sterling Publishers.

Rajaram, Navaratna and David Frawley (2013, to appear) Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization, Fourth revised and expanded edition.

Rajaram, N.S. (2006) Sarasvati River and the Vedic Civilization. Aditya Prakashan.

Sanyal, Sanjay (2012) Land of the Seven Rivers, Penguin-Viking.


Dr. N.S. Rajaram is a mathematical physicist interested in the history and philosophy of science. He is the author of several books on history. The fourth edition is book Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization with David Frawley will be published later this year. It explains the topics in the article in greater detail.

Yugas and Yuga dharma

Four Yugas

According to Indian tradition, history has four yugas and we are now living the fourth, known as Kali Yuga that began with Krishna’s death some 5000 years ago. We must recognize that these are historical yugas that may span a few thousand years. Other yugas like ecological yugas and cosmic yugas can cover lakhs of years but cannot be used in history. We are conerned with historical yugas here.

According to tradition there are four yugas, Krita, Treta, Dwapara and Kali yuga, the last being the one we are in now. History began with the arrival modern humans in India some 70,000 years ago. There were humanoids in India before them but they were almost completely wiped out by a super-volcano in Indonesia so there were less than a thousand left in India.

These were anatomically modern in the sense they were bipedal, allowing them to use their hands free to make tools. Thus we can trace their movement from East Africa to India and beyond from the trail of the stone tools the have left behind. They can be found in Africa and also India, They made and used stone tools. This was during the Pleistocene era or the Ice Age.

No less importantly, they, our ancestors were a speaking species which gave them a great competitive advantage over their competitors. 200,000 years ago, there were no less than six humanoid species, but we are the only species that survived. They brought speech, but languages as we understand then today were yet to evolve. The important thing is Indian subcontinent was the launchpad for all non-African humans populating the world today. It is now known, thanks to genetic research that these proto-Indians (or Afro-Indians) migrated in several waves to populate Europe. This may account for the many similarities that exist between Indian and European languages. I plan to discuss this in a future essay.

What was Krita Yuga like? When asked by Yudhishthira, Bhishma told him, that there were no kings or kingdoms in the Krita Yuga. People followed dharma of their own accord, without any need for force. But soon the predatory nature of humans came to the fore, and rulers were needed to enforce dharma. Hence ruling dynasties came into existence: of these the Eastern was called Solar, headed by Ikshwakus. The Western was headed by Yadu and Puru and was called Lunar.

Krita Yuga

It was recognized from the earliest times that rulers needed spiritual guidance for which rishis came into being. Some major rishi clans were Shukra, Angirasa, Vasishta and Vishwamitra.

By and large the solar rulers were generally law abiding, while the lunar were more ambitious and adventurous. Sometimes their ambition got out of hand and had to be controlled. One such king was Kartaviryarjuna of the Haihaya dynasty. He and his associates had to be defeated and destroyed by rishi Parashurama (son of Jamadagni) with the help of the solar king Sagara. This latter point (Sagara’s part) is often ignored though prominently noted by A.E. Pargiter in his important work on ancient Indian dynasties.

This brought Krita Yuga to an end to be followed by Treta Yuga. It was recognized tha some rules and duties had to be specified for everyone including rulers who had the power and the force (like armies) to enforce them). These were codified as Dharmashastra, It was binding on everyone including kings. They emphasis in Treta Yuga was rule of law as prescribed in the Dharma Shatras. The most famous of these was the Dharma Shastras ascribed to the ancient ruler and sage Manu, and known as Manu Dharma Shastra.

Treta Yuga

In Treta Yuga, the emphasis was on rule of Dharma, or rule of law

Rama (Sri Ram) and King Janaka (Sita’s father) were highly respected for their knowledge and practice of dharma. It is important to see that dharma means duty and responsibility. It is NOT the same as religion. As Krishna advised Arjuna in the Gita as a Kshatriya (warrior) it was his dharma to fight. It is true of every soldier, no matter what his religion. Unlike religion which is (or should be) personal, dharma is dictated for the benefit of society. So when a king fights  for personal gain glory and not for the benefit of his country, it is adharma.

Everyone must follow his or her dharma. This was the rule in Treta Yuga. The king was not exempt. Also he had to follow the wishes of the people. When Rama chose to give up kingship and go into exile, he was protecting the dharma of his father who had promised it to Bharata. And Bharata too followed dharma by not accepting it while ruling only as regent in Rama’s absence. He was acting according to dharma.

So when Rama had to exile Sita because of the criticism of his people, it was according to Dharma as expected in Treta Yuga. However unpleasant to him personally, he had to follow the rule of law. (We may recall that Richard Nixon had to resign as president because the law denanded it. And his Vice President Spiro Agnew was indicted of corruption and he too had to resign.

Two points have to be noted. Ravana too was of North Indian origin and a Kashyapa Brahmin from the Pulastya dynasty who took over Sri Lanka. So Rama was no Aryan invader attacking the Dravidian ruler of Lanka. He was a Vedic scholar and the chief of asuras. Rama aided by Vishwamitra had defeated and destroyed many asura pockets. But finally it was necessary to attack the Asura base in Lanka, and place a more law abiding ruler Vibhishana.

Dwapara Yuga

We come next to the third or the Dwapara Yuga, where the rule of law or Dharma had to be enforced by rulers, with the use of force. So the king’s and kshatriyas were needed to maintain dharma. This is Krishna’s message to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Unlike Rama and Bharata who would not break their word, Duryodhana thought nothing of breaking his word by refusing to return to the Pandavas their fair share of the kingdom. This led to a great war involving massive loss of life.

A Brahmin like Drona was willing to kill in the service of his adharmic ruler for the sake of money and and good life. This was noted by Bhima who berated his old master. And Dhristadymna who killed Drona said he broke just one rule (not killing a Brahmin) to kill a man, an adhama Brahmin who had broken many rules.

Still there were rulers who followed dharma. When Bhshma’s father wanted to marry the fisherwoman Satyavati, her father insisted that her son should succeed Shantanu to the throne and not Bhishma. This shows that even a common man had rights that the king could not enforce his wish. To make this possible, Bhishma had to give up his right to become king and also remain a bachelor.

Kali Yuga

The Kali, the yuga in which are living saw total breakdown of dharma. Veda Vyasa predicted what was about to happen as follows, to Janamejaya (Abhimanyu’s grandson and Arjuna’s great grandson), who succeeded to to the throne of Hastinapur.

Dear son,” In Kali Kings will be avaricious. Instead of protecting them, rulers will rob them of their wealth. People will be sold like cattle. ”

The worst feature of Kali according to Vyasa would be corruption of the spirit. There would be false prophets who go after wealth and power in the guise of being agents of God.