The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India
One of the main ideas used to interpret and generally devalue the ancient history of India is the theory of the Aryan invasion. According to this account, India was invaded and conquered by nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes from Central Asia around 1500-100 BC, who overthrew an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Hindu culture.
(more content follows the advertisement below)
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
This so-called pre-Aryan civilization is said to be evidenced by the large urban ruins of what has been called the "Indus valley culture" (as most of its initial sites were on the Indus river). The war between the powers of light and darkness, a prevalent idea in ancient Aryan Vedic scriptures, was thus interpreted to refer to this war between light and dark skinned peoples. The Aryan invasion theory thus turned the "Vedas", the original scriptures of ancient India and the Indo-Aryans, into little more than primitive poems of uncivilized plunderers.
This idea totally foreign to the history of India, whether north or south has become almost an unquestioned truth in the interpretation of ancient history Today, after nearly all the reasons for its supposed validity have been refuted, even major Western scholars are at last beginning to call it in question.
In this article we will summarize the main points that have arisen. This is a complex subject that I have dealt with in depth in my book "Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization", for those interested in further examination of the subject.
The Indus valley culture was pronounced pre-Aryans for several reasons that were largely part of the cultural milieu of nineteenth century European thinking As scholars following Max Mullar had decided that the Aryans came into India around 1500 BC, since the Indus valley culture was earlier than this, they concluded that it had to be preAryan. Yet the rationale behind the late date for the Vedic culture given by Muller was totally speculative. Max Muller, like many of the Christian scholars of his era, believed in Biblical chronology. This placed the beginning of the world at 400 BC and the flood around 2500 BC. Assuming to those two dates, it became difficult to get the Aryans in India before 1500 BC.
Muller therefore assumed that the five layers of the four 'Vedas' & 'Upanishads' were each composed in 200 year periods before the Buddha at 500 BC. However, there are more changes of language in Vedic Sanskrit itself than there are in classical Sanskrit since Panini, also regarded as a figure of around 500 BC, or a period of 2500 years. Hence it is clear that each of these periods could have existed for any number of centuries and that the 200 year figure is totally arbitrary and is likely too short a figure.
It was assumed by these scholars many of whom were also Christian missionaries unsympathetic to the 'Vedas' that the Vedic culture was that of primitive nomads from Central Asia. Hence they could not have founded any urban culture like that of the Indus valley. The only basis for this was a rather questionable interpretation of the 'Rig Veda' that they made, ignoring the sophisticated nature of the culture presented within it.
Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that in the middle of the second millennium BC, a number of Indo-European invasions apparently occured in the Middle East, wherein Indo-European peoples the Hittites, Mit tani and Kassites conquered and ruled Mesopotamia for some centuries. An Aryan invasion of India would have been another version of this same movement of Indo-European peoples. On top of this, excavators of the Indus valley culture, like Wheeler, thought they found evidence of destruction of the culture by an outside invasion confirming this.
The Vedic culture was thus said to be that of primitive nomads who came out of Central Asia with their horse-drawn chariots and iron weapons and overthrew the cities of the more advanced Indus valley culture, with their superior battle tactics. It was pointed out that no horses, chariots or iron was discovered in Indus valley sites.
This was how the Aryan invasion theory formed and has remained since then. Though little has been discovered that confirms this theory, there has been much hesitancy to question it, much less to give it up.
Further excavations discovered horses not only in Indus Valley sites but also in pre-Indus sites. The use of the horse has thus been proven for the whole range of ancient Indian history. Evidence of the wheel, and an Indus seal showing a spoked wheel as used in chariots, has also been found, suggesting the usage of chariots.
Moreover, the whole idea of nomads with chariots has been challenged. Chariots are not the vehicles of nomads. Their usage occured only in ancient urban cultures with much flat land, of which the river plain of north India was the most suitable. Chariots are totally unsuitable for crossing mountains and deserts, as the so-called Aryan invasion required.
That the Vedic culture used iron & must hence date later than the introduction of iron around 1500 BC revolves around the meaning of the Vedic term "ayas", interpreted as iron. 'Ayas' in other Indo- European languages like Latin or German usually means copper, bronze or ore generally, not specially iron. There is no reason to insist that in such earlier Vedic times, 'ayas' meant iron, particularly since other metals are not mentioned in the 'Rig Veda' (except gold that is much more commonly referred to than ayas). Moreover, the 'Atharva Veda' and 'Yajur Veda' speak of different colors of 'ayas'(such as red & black), showing that it was a generic term. Hence it is clear that 'ayas' generally meant metal and not specifically iron.