Showing posts with label indus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label indus. Show all posts

Was Ancient India Literate ? : Super Human Memory Myth

western scholars of Indology said:
"Entire absense of writing, reading, paper, or pen in vedas, or during Brahamana period and complete silence in Sutra period(When art of writing was beginning to be known), the whole Literature of India was preserved in oral tradition only"

Weber who wants to bring all history to later than Biblical period admits:
"Europe has 10,000 sanskrit texts and considering that we have tens of thousands which the parsimony of karma has hithherto withheld form Museums and libraries of Europe, what a memory must have been their!."

Indian super Memory

The Immemorial practice with students of sanskrit literature has been to commit to memory the various subjects of their study and this practice of oral tradition has preserved the ancient Vedic texts. This fact has led Western Indology scholars to surmise that writing was unknown in the earliest period of Indian Civilization and that the later forms of the alphabet were not of pure Indian growth.

So According to these Western Indology Scholars, Indians have Super Human Memory. By Which they can not only memorize scores of documents, but they can also transmit through generations. Wow!, Who said science fiction is 20th century Stuff.

We are looking at this question. Did writing existed prior to Mauryas?

Panini is best known grammarian of India. Muller says that there is no single term in the panini terminology which presupposes the existence of writing. So we go to find out.

Panini almost singlehandendly brought together the classical sanskrit grammer. He mentions Grantha the equivalent for written or bound book in the later days in India. For Max Muller Granta mean simply a composition, which is handed down the generation by oral tradition. In short Panini is illiterate and somehow he produced one of the most eloborate and scientific set grammer ever known to mankind till today.Remember Panini has given 3996 rules for Classical Sanskrit Grammar.

Writing in Literature
Classical Sanskrit Literature

The direct reference to writing classical sanskrit according to Indologists in literature are found to be in the Dharmasutra of Vasistha, which Dr.Buhler thinks, was composed around 8th century BC. Some scholars will assign this work 4th century BC as well.Astadhyayi of panini contains such compounds as Lipikara and Libikara, which evidently mean writer. The date of panini is not fixed, prof.Goldstucker puts him 8th century BC, others put him in 4 the century BC. The Vedic works contain technical terms like aksara, kanda, patala, grantha and the like, which is clear indication of writing. Of course Indology scholars wont accept them.

Buddhist age

There are quite a large number of passages in the SriLanka's Tipitaka, which bear witness to an acquaintance with writing and to its extensive use.

At the time when Buddhist cannons were composed. Lekha and Lekhaka are mentioned in the Bhikkhu pacittiya and Bhikkhuni pacittiya.

In the Jatakaas, constant meniton is made of letters being written. The Jatakas know of proclamations.

We are also told of a game aksarika in which the Buddhist monk is forbidden to participate. This game is guessing of letters.

In the rules of vinaya, it has been laid down that a criminal, whose name has been written up in the kings porch, must not be recieved into the monastic order. In the same work, writing is mentioned as a Lucrative profession.

Mahavagga bear witness to the existence of elementary schools where the manner of teaching was the same as in the Indigenous schools of Modern India. All these references prove the existence of the art of writing in pre buddhist days.

Epic Age
Epics contains archaic expressions such as likh, Lekha, Lakhaka, Lekhana but not lipi, which some scholars think is foriegn orgin. So Writing was known in Epic Age.

Vedic Literature
We find clear evidence in wide spread use of writing in the vedic period. Written documents are mentioned as legal documents.


The earliest surviving written record other than Indus script is Piprawa vase inscription discovered by Colonel Claxton peppe. This Inscription is a prakrit before the prakrits of magadhi or sourasheni developed, so differently interpreted. This is dated to early part of 5th century BC.

Next comes Sohaura Copper plate , which Dr.Smith puts before Ashoka by 50 years.

The Inscriptions of Ashoka is all over India. This shows that Writing was well used in Royal courts and the writting was well understood by common people.

Dr.Weber came with view that Brahmi is borrowed from South Arab tribe. But this has been dismissed by Dr. Buhler.

Buhler Identified certain Brahmi letters were identical to 9th-7th BC century Inscriptions found in Assyria. One third of 23 Alphabets are identical to Brahmi letters. This Indologists suggestions that the Brahmi letters were derived from these letters from all Indology scholars including Buhler. But we have to note that the tribes in question are belonging belonging to Indian Tribe. This script traveled from India to Middle east.

Jain Stupa unearthed at the Kankali Tila site of Mathura regarded by Vincent Simith as the oldest known stupa then (Before Indus valley sites were discovered). Smith dated it to be 600 BC for erection. Dr.Fuhrer who supervised the excavation found out that it contained a inscription Deva Stupa in a script, so old that it was forgotten.

Indus Script
Indus Script has 250-500 characters. Some of the Seals seems to be Bilingual with Indus script next to the symbols. Seeming symbols to be for traders from other languages. So Indus valley is literate culture.

Sir Alexander Cunningham had wanted to derive each letter from the indigenous Hieroglyphic, but then no hieroglyphic was found in India. But today we have Indus valley Hieroglyphic and many are working towards deriving brahmi from them.

Writing Material
Materials used for writing in India were Birch-bark(Bhurja-patra), Palm Leaves (tala-patra), paper, Cotton Cloth, wooden board (phalaka),leather, Stone, brick and metal. Manuscripts of books were generally written in the above leaves, paper and cotton cloth while for land-grants, certain charms etc, metals was used. Wooden boards appear to have been used as slates in schools and for the purpose of writing plaints with chalk in court-rooms. Documents in connection with loans also used to be written on boards. Works appear to have been carved on wooden boards; Some manuscripts , engraved on wooden boards, still exist.

From Brahminical and Buddhist literature, leather also appears, however rarely, to have been used as writing material as it was animal skin and they are perishable in nature.

Royal edicts were engraved on rocks, pillars and caves.

Agreements , donations,grants etc were also sometimes written on stone. Some Literary and religious works were written on this material. Bricks were also rarely used. Some bricks, with one or few letters inscribed, have been found in walls, temple-niches or pedestals of images.

Writing materials have been of perishable nature, Indian Manuscripts, relly belonging to an ancient age, are rare. In fact, the manuscripts discovered in central asia , are the oldest of the manuscripts available so far.

According to Nearchos, who accompanied Alexander (327BC), paper was manufactured in India out of Cotton. The earliest paper-MSS written in Gupta Script were discovered at Kashgar and Kugier in Central Asia.

The earliest bramhi script is on a vase dated to 5 th century BC

Writing medium
The Writing medium in cases of paper, cloth and leaves was ink or masi. The word masi is derived from root mas denoting himsa or crushing, destroying it. therefore seems that ink was produced by pounding certain ingredients. In some parts of India, the word for ink is mela, probably derived from root mel (to mix). ink thus appears to have been admixture of certain substances. The use of ink in India is atlesat 4th century BC, is vouchsafed by Nearchos and Curtius.

The Common color of ink is black. Red and Yellow inks were also used. For ordinary purposes, washable or delible ink was used. For writing documents, however indelible ink appears to have been in use.

Writing Apparatus
The Writing Apparatus (Lekhani, varnaka,varnavartika, salaka, Kathini etc) consists of bamboo pieces with sharp ends, quills etc. Compases and rulers also appear to have been use for special purposes.

Alberuni believes Indian Alphabet originated with the begining of Kali Age (3102BC).

Hiuen Tsang speaks of high Antiquity of Indian writing system. Brahmi is stated, in the Chinese Encyclopedia Fa-Wan-Shu-Lin, to be the best of scripts.

Some Greeks mention about Writing materials in India. Megasthanes mentions Milestones, Almanancs, Horoscopes, etc.- which indicate prevalance of writing. The evidence suggest that writing was in Vogue in India in the period of 6th century to 4 century BC as a legacy of earlier times, far from being novelty , it was a continuity and continuity of time immemorial.

Mauryan edicts reveal that Writting in Brahmi and kharosthi was written and understood by everyone including comman man.

Jains Works Pnnavana-sutra and the Samavayanga-sutra contains names of Eighteen scripts(lipi) including Brahmi and Kharosthi.

The Buddhist Sanskrit work Lalitavistara gives formidable list of 64 Scripts out of which Brahmi and Kharosthi is included. 64 scripts are divided into several groups . Eg. Provincial,Tribal, Sectrian etc. Some Foreign scripts were also known to Indians.

Ramayana, Mahabharata, Arthasastra, Sutra literature (8th to 2nd century BC), Yaska (pre-panian writer), Astadhyayi (5th century BC) and some early Sanskrit works throw light on a culture of writing.

Indus valley scripts shows that Writing existed prior to 4th millienum BC as well.

Rig Veda exists from time immemorial, but writing definitely existed when it was organised into samhitas.

The Indus valley findings made Indologists acknowledge that writing existed prior to Mauryan writing. Though it has not been deciphered , it clearly shows writing existed in India before atlest 5-2 milliena before christ. Some Indology scholars have tried to show Indus script is derived from script from another civilization. But all these theories have fallen flat. Hrozny tried to derive Indus script from Hittite, Diringer is convinced that no script existed prior to Indus script from which Indus scirpt can be derived. Hunter and Langdon regard Indus script as prototype of Brahmi. The Vedic Scholars believed that Brahmi is from Brahma. It is mentioned in Narada Smriti that if Brahma has not created the art of writing or given excellant eye in the shape of script, the future would not have been deprived of obtaining bright future.

The Absence of inscriptions since Indus valley is due to widespread use of Paper and Cloth, which are perishable in nature.

The Indian Civilization is a very advance civilization. There was a high development of trade and monetary transactions, and they carried on minute researches in grammar, phonetics and lexicography. These facts support the knowledge and widespread use of writing among ancient Indians. So the Super Human Memory is a Myth.

A Concise History Of Classical Sanskrit Literature By Gaurinath Shastri, Bhattacharyya Shastri Gaurinath
The rise, decline and renewals of sramanic religious traditions within indic civilisation with particular reference to the evolution of jain sramanic culture and its impact on the indic civilization by Bal patil
Students' Britannica India, Volumes 1-5 By Indu Ramchandani
A Companion to Sanskrit Literature: Spanning a Period of Over Three Thousand ... By Sures Chandra Banerji
On the origin Indian Brahma Alphabet Georg Buhler
Was Writing Know Before Panini by A Chela
Agama Aura Tripitaka, Eka Anusilana: Language and Literature By Nagraj (Muni.)

University of Washington Libraries

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Indus Script Myths
Did Megasthanes Meet ChandraGupta Maurya
Date of Buddha
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India By Indologists

Origin of Indo - Europeans

The whole theory of Indo-European is based on the premise that if Latin, Greek and Sanskrit were similar, it should be branched out of earlier single Language. So next question comes , what is the original home of Indo – European people who spoke this language. Let us see the likeliest candidates.

First we have to see the characteristics of Indo – Europeans. Are they?

  1. Hunter gatherers, Pastoral Nomads, Agriculturists etc

  2. Vocabulary : Animals, Plants, Agriculture etc

  3. Technical sophistication

  4. Culture Level

  5. Geography


Collin Renfrew says Indo-European homeland as Anatolia and they practiced agriculture around 7000BC. one of their groups moved westward to Europe, crossing the Bosporus and another -group, moving eastward, via the region south of the Caucasus mountains and the Caspian Sea, into Iran from where it must have subsequently entered Afghanistan and India. In an alternative scenario, Renfrew thinks that the Indo-Europeans split up after entering Europe and then the eastern branch went to south-central Asia, via north of the Black and Caspian Seas, whence it moved on to northeastern Iran, Afghanistan and India.

Theory fails on two counts

  1. If Indians and Europeans lived together as farmers ,their vocabulary should have common words or words originating from common words. But there are none.

  2. Secondly Hittite language from which the commonness is perceived is a minority language of Elite and basal language is non-European.


Gamkrelidze and Ivanov say Indo-European homeland between Black Sea and Caspian sea. This theory is based on linguistic paleontology. Since there is mountains , rivers, Lakes in the vacabulary. They also added that the Indo-European has lot of semitic loan words.

This theory fails because.

  1. Many scholars have shown semitic loan words as misplaced theory.

  2. Armenian language spoken in the area has large number of non Indo-European words, meaning there is another native language spoken. Which suggest that Indo-Europeans are not from that area.


Kurgan is steppes north of Black and Caspian Sea. There archaeological remains of Burial barrows (Kurgan in Slavic language) have been found. Maria Gimbutas says Indo- Europeans are essentially horse riding warriors who can thrust the weapons and can easily overrun the area. By 4000BC they reached central Europe.

This theory fails because

  1. On the technology and cultural level kurgan were essentially pastrol nomads.

  2. Mounted warriors were seen in Europe around 1000BC only says Renfrew

  3. Linguistically there is no relation between pastrol Kurgan and Farming Indo – European says Kathrin Krell, Mallory and Schmitt


Johanna Nichols says Sogodiana was their homeland, from there they spread to Aral sea and they split into two.

This theory fails on the basis

  1. There seems to be only language spread with no people movement. It is unlikely to have happened when there was No TV , Radio or Internet.

  2. There is no centre to periphery spread, there is no eastern spread of the language which is baffling.

Indian Subcontinent

According to this theory India is the home of Indo- European languages. This theory was put forward in 18th century but has no takers then. Why now? Because new findings have come which has resurrected the theory. They are

  1. Mehrgarh neolithic are farming in wheat , domesticated animals in contrast to pastrol sheep and goat. So the Mehrgarh are Indigenous.

  2. Journey from Early charcolithic to Indus valley civilization is continuous. After studying the skulls there was a Biological continuity as well right up to the present day from early charcolithic days.

  3. Most Important one is finding the Indus valley and Rig veda people are same Mentioning of the River saraswathi which is cradle of Indus valley Civilization.

  4. Geographical evidence of confirms to Rivers , Mountains , Lakes etc.

  5. Boghaz Kuei inscription(1400BC), refers to Indra, Mitra, Nasatya and Varuna as witnesses to a treaty between the Mitanni king Matiwaza and the Hittite king Suppiluliuma.

  6. T. Burrow came to the conclusion: “The Indo- Europeans appear in Mitanni from 1500 BC as the ruling dynasty, which means that they must have entered the country as conquerors from no where else but from India.


Indo- Europeans are from India. Whether the Greek , Latin and Sanskrit (Vedic) are related we will see in another article.


The Homeland of Indo-European Languages And Culture: Some Thoughts

Author: Prof. B. B. Lal

origin of Brahmi Script

Brahmi Script
In the last centuries BC the script was divided into 3 varieties: northern, eastern, and southern. Dialectal differences consisted of the shape of the symbols, though the system remained the same. First separate branches emerged in the 5th century AD. The Brahmi script is the ancestor of all modern Indian writing systems, there are about 40 varieties of them nowadays, including Tibetan, Sinhalese, Sharada, Newari, Bengali, Oriya, Gujarati,Gurmukhi, , Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Devanagari. In addition, many other Asian scripts, even Japanese to a very small extent (vowel order), were also derived from Indian script. Languages which used Brahmi as their script: Indo-Aryan (Vedic, Sanskrit, Prakrits, Pali), Dravidian, Iranian (Sacian), Tocharic.

Brahmi origin
Brahmi origin has been controversial. one of the reason is the sudden appearance of fully developed script in the inscriptions during Ashokan period and l absence of inscriptions between Indus valley and Ashokan period(gap of 1500 years). Opinions of Brahmi is divided to into two camps Foreign origin by Foreigners and Indigenous independent development by Indians. Let us see the opinions behind claims.

Foreign origin
Foreign origin or derived script theory is based on the following theories
  • Failure to find and identify actual specimens of between indus valley and pre-Ashokan writing.
  • The testimony of Greek author Megasthenes to the absence of writing in India in the early Mauryan period
  • The evident influence of Indian phonetic and grammatical theory on the structure of the early scripts
  • Uniform appearance of Ashokan Brâhmî all over India.
Aramic origin
It is thought that the brāhmī drift of a Semitic writing like the imperial Aramean alphabet, as it is the case for the alphabet gāndhārī(khartoshi) which appeared at the same time in Northwest India, under the control of the empire of the Achéménides. Rhys Davids thinks that this writing could be introduced in India of the the Middle East by the merchants.The similarities between the scripts are just what one would expect from such an adaptation. For example, Aramaic did not distinguish dental from retroflex stops; in Brāhmī the dental and retroflex series are graphically very similar, as if both had been derived from a single prototype. Aramaic did not have Brāhmī’s aspirated consonants (k, t), whereas Brāhmī did not have Aramaic's emphatic consonants (q, ṭ, ṣ); and it appears that these emphatic letters were used for Brāhmī's aspirates: Aramaic q for Brāhmī kh, Aramaic (Θ) for Brāhmī th (ʘ). And just where Aramaic did not have a corresponding emphatic stop, p, Brāhmī seems to have doubled up for its aspirate: Brāhmī p and ph are graphically very similar, as if taken from the same source in Aramaic p. The first letters of the alphabets also match: Brāhmī a, which resembled a reversed κ, looks a lot like Aramaic alef, which resembled Hebrew .
Southern Semitic origin.
Brahmi is a syllabary, it consists of syllables only, if we state that single vowels are also syllables. Each character carries a consonant followed by the vowel "a", much like Old Persian or Meroïtic. However, unlike these two systems, Brahmi indicates the same consonant with a different vowel with extra strokes attached to the character. Brahmi is written from the left to the right. However in few coins right to left Brahmi is also found.

Phoenician Origin
Phoenician origin is based on the following points.
  • Writing from left to right unlike aramic which is right to left.
  • Striking similarity between theta and Brâhmî tha
Emphasising this two points to Brahmi phoenicaian origin is theory far fetched. Maybe there is influence but no such a thing as origin from Greek alphabet.

Greek and Brahmi
That the basic system of indication of post-consonantal vowels by diacritic marking was originally developed in and adapted from Khartoshi seems well established. But Falk's suggestion that the introduction into Brâhmî of distinct diacritics for short and long vowels was influenced by the model of Greek script is doubtful, since the notation of vowel quantity in Greek operates on entirely different principles. Whereas Greek uses distinct alphabetic characters, mostly derived from Semitic consonants, to represent, incompletely and inconsistently, short and long vowel pairs, Brâhmî has a complete and regular set of matched short/long pairs of post-consonantal diacritic signs.

Brahmi Numerals
Numerical notation system of Brâhmî. Because the use of distinct signs in Brâhmî for each of the digits (1 to 9) and the decades (10 to 90) a similar system used in early Chinese numerals. Also not only in system but also in the actual form of several of the numerical signs, between Brâhmî and heiratic and demotic Egyptian. we dont know which side influenced the other or Independent.

Indigenous origin

Independent origin
script appeared in India most certainly by the 6th century BC, but the fact it had many local variants, which suggests that its origin lies further back in time. The earliest inscription written in Brahmi date back to the 6th century BC in srilanka, and by 2nd century BC already there existed several varieties of it. Brahmi quickly became the official script of religious texts and cults, and therefore spread over all India.
Writting in Pre Ashokan Era
  • J.D.M. Derrett argues Megasthanese talks only about written Legal document not generally writting in India.
  • Nearchos, quoted by Strabo, to the Indians' practice of writing letters on cloth
  • Panini mentions Lipi (Writting)
  • Pali cannon makes reference to likhitako coro,lekha.m chindati (writting) in Vinaya-pi.taka
Ashoka Invention
Harry Falks believes as for him that the brāhmī was created under the Empire maurya. One often admits that it was an invention planned under the reign of Ashoka, necessary to the drafting of his edicts, case similar to that of the Hangul(Korean).

Indus origin
Brahmi script came from the Indus Valley Script. However, the lack of any inscription evidence between the end of the Harappan period at around 1900 BC and the first Brahmi and Kharosthi inscriptions at roughtly 500 BC makes the Indus origin of Brahmi highly questionable. However recent claims of deciphering the Indus script has strengthened this theory. Indus script have been found around 1500BC in Vaishai, bihar. And the theory derives the evidence from similarities as other theories. You can see in the picture .

Now the theory by western scholars is Khartoshi predated Brahmi and it was loose adoptation of Aramic. Khartoshi from Aramic is also not a good argument simply because several cases Khartoshi characters have different phonetic values from the Aramaic letters that they most closely resemble in shape. wide usage of Aramaicin the Ashokan Aramaic inscriptions, in the eastern regions of the Achaemenian empire.another theory is Brahmi is derived from Khartoshi. But this can be disproved on following points. Brâhmî ¤ ha , which can reasonably be derived from an Aramaic * he , but hardly from Khartoshi * ha , and * ta from Aramaic * taw ,
but not Khartoshi ¤ ta

We have to see that each theory putsforward the similarities and keeps silence on the other points. Brahmi is superior script all the others compared. And there is no easier explanation for the development of same.

Related Posts
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Date of Rig Veda

Date of Rig veda has always been controversial as it is the oldest surviving literary work. Generally it is put at 1900BC. Let us see how it came to that date and how experts differ on that date.

Max Muller
Max Muller assigned the period 1500 BCE to 500 BCE for Rigveda Samhita. One of the reasons given is that beginnings of human kind cannot be earlier to 4000 B.C.E. Muller took particular care to ensure that the hypothetical Aryan invasion took place after the Biblical flood and he arbitrarily assigned a date of 1200 B.C to the Rig Veda, which is considered as the oldest among the four Vedas. Since the evidence was flimsy, he recanted his earlier assignment near the end of his life

Aryan Invasion theory
This Aryan invasion theory was proposed by the British archaeologist Wheeler around the early part of the twentieth century. According to this theory, all the Vedas were not composed in India. They were composed by members of tribes, the so called Aryans, who invaded India from the Northwest, destroyed the old civilisation in the Indus Valley, supposedly Dravidian, and drove out these original inhabitants to the south of India and other parts. The ruins of this early Indus Valley civilisation dated 3000 BCE to 7000BCE or earlier. By this theory the date of Rig Veda is before 3000BC. All the modern archaeologists like Shaffer declare that there is no archaeological evidence for such an invasion; the invasion is a myth propagated by historians.

Avesta and Rig Veda
It lookslike avestan and vedas are not related , unnecesarily told they are related to create confusion.
According to Thapar, the date of Avesta has been controversial, but a mid-second millennium date is now being accepted. Thapar considers the the Hittite-Mittani treaty as more archaic than the Sanskrit of Rig-Veda and hence dates Rig-Veda to be of a date closer to the language and concept of Avesta.
Georg Fuerstein, Subhash Kak and David Frawley dismiss the dates suggested by Thapar, A. L. Basham and Max Muller. According to them, the Rig Veda mentions the river Saraswati which disappeared in 1900 BCE and so it has to be at least eight centuries older than the Max Muller's arbitrary date of 1200 BC. Vedic literature is considered older than Avestan literature by 500 - 1000 years though the dating of both is speculative.
The Mittani Indo-Aryan language is considered older than Vedic or Avestan because it has aika instead of eka. Vedic is supposed to to have merged ai to e and hence is considered younger. But if you take the word for seven in Mittani - satta, it is considered to be much later than Vedic. So some folks believe that this dating based on selectively chosen words cannot be trusted fully.
If you look at the Avestan and Vedic language you see that 'h' in one language has been renamed as 's' in another. There are people like Rajesh Kochchar and Romila Thapar who believe that the Vedic people migrated from the Haraxvati (Saraswati) region in Afghanistan and not the mythical Saraswati flowing underground through Rajasthan. It seems this replacing 's' with 'h' is prevalent in some parts of Rajasthan and Assam even today. One point of view is that it is not possible to find which one came first based on language traits.

The Sarasvati described in Rigveda is a massive river, located between Yamuna and Shutadrī (Sutlej) flowing into the ocean. The satellite studies indicate this river as completely dried up by the date 1750 BCE. The Satellite study cannot refer to the Sarasvati (Haraquiti) river in Afghanistan since it is a small river that dries up in the desert. Thus the lower bound for the Vedic civilisation is 1750 BCE. It is more ancient than this date because Rigveda does not mention any desert; it is mentioned in the Brāhmaņa books - Shatapatha Brāhmaņa - which is at least 500-1000 years later than Rigveda Samhita.

The knowledge of mathematics in Rigveda and related texts is another important evidence. Rigveda not only mentions the decimal number system for integers but also the infinity. It mentions in detail the spoked wheel with arbitrary number of spokes (1.164.13,14,48). Clearly such verses would imply that these authors knew the associated mathematical properties of circle and square. The algorithm for circling the square needed for making the spoked wheel is given in the Baudhāyana Shulba Sūtra which is the oldest of the Shulba Sūtrās, ancient mathematical texts dealing with the methods for the construction of altars needed in Vedic rituals and other related mathematical topics. These books are later than the Rigveda Samhita. Even though Dutta made a detailed study of these books around 1930 and showed that the theorem attributed to Pythogoras is contained in these books in a more general form, the western indologists like Keith (or Whitney earlier) did not pay much attention since they were convinced, without any proof, that all the sciences in ancient India - mathematics, astronomy etc., were borrowed from Greeks or Egyptians. It was in 1962 that the American mathematician Seidenberg showed that, “the elements of ancient geometry found in Egypt and Babylonia stem from a ritual system of the kind found in Shulba Sūtrās.” The Shulba Sūtrās contain the algorithm for building the pyramid shaped funeral altar (smashāņa chit). Recall that the Egyptian pyramids are used as tombs for the dead. There is no ancient Egyptian literature for the detailed construction of these pyramids. Hence it is more than likely that their source is the Shulba Sūtrās. This piece of evidence fixes the date for the Baudhāyana Shulba Sūtra which gives a lower bound date for Rigveda.

Rigveda and all other ancient books contain several statements of astronomical significance like the position of Sun in the Zodiac on the two equinoxes, vernal or spring equinox and autumn equinox. Indian Astronomy is based on sidereal Zodiac. The Zodiac is divided into 27 roughly equal segments, all are measuring 130 20' of arc. The seventh mandala of the Rigveda records the vernal equinox in Mrigashira Constellation pointing to a date around 4000 BCE - a fact noted by Jacobi and Tilak. Again several Shulba Sūtrās declare that a pole star is visible. Since a visible pole star occurs only at certain epochs, such a citation gives a normal range of dates for that event. The astronomical dates put the dates before 4000BC.

Silver & Cotton
Again Rigveda does not mention either silver or cotton. Since the date of cotton is well established, again we get a lower bound on the Rig Vedic date.

Rigveda repeatedly refers to ancient sages and modern sages. The age associated with these ancient sages can be called as the high Rig Vedic period which is declared to be 3100 BCE or early. This period 3700-3800 BCE is the closing of the Rig Vedic age, especially the Mandalas seven and third associated with the sages Vasişhţa and Vishvāmitra. The Shulba Sūtrā texts of Baudhāyana, Ashvalāyana etc., can be dated 3100-2000 BCE; 1900 BCE is the drying up of Sarasvati and the end of Vedic age.

Iron Age
There is no mention of Iron in Rig veda , As the iron age starts before 12th century BC. The dates have to much earlier than that. 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. Moreover, the enemies of the Vedic people in the 'Rig Veda' also use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people themselves. Hence there is nothing in Vedic literture to show that either the Vedic culture was an ironbased culture or that there enemies were not.

Indus Valley Civilization.
Bhagwan Singh, an avid writer on the Indus Valley civilisation, sees the entire Harappan ecology in the Rig Veda. He chides those who have been "using both their brains and chair to save the Vedic Aryans from the Harappan authorship". "Now we have a continuous history of the Indian continent from 7000 BC. But isn't it ironical that we couldn't identify any of the archaeological cultures with literary cultures?" asks an archaeologist who does not want to be identified. He has no doubt that the Rig Vedic Aryans were the authors of the Harappan civilisation.

Myths of India by Indologists

Article by N.S. Rajaram

The study of ancient India, at least in the modern Western sense, may be said to have begun with Sir William Jones in the late 18th century. With his discovery of the Sanskrit language and its literature, Jones became the founder of the field we now call Indology. For the next century and half, this became the basis for the study of everything connected with ancient India, including its history.

With the discovery of the Harappan Civilization in 1921 — greater in extent than ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia combined — archaeological data also became available, which could now be used in the study of ancient India. But no systematic effort was made to connect archaeological data with the ancient Indian literature. On the other hand, entrenched theories like the Aryan invasion sought to keep Harappan archaeology and ancient Indian literature permanently separated. This has created a strange situation. The Harappans, the creators of the greatest material civilization of antiquity, have no literary or historical context. On the other hand, the Vedic Aryans, the creators of the greatest literature the world has ever known have no archaeological or even geographical existence.

As a result, after more than two centuries, the subject called Indology has no foundation to speak of; what we have instead is little more than a collection of views and ad-hoc theories that often contradict one another. It is time now to look at the underlying beliefs and methods of Indology, which has for all practical purposes served as a substitute for historiography as far as ancient India is concerned. The present volume is intended as a contribution towards that end. It focuses on two sources: first, ancient literary sources which challenge the Indological version of Vedic Civilization as the creation of nomadic invaders called the Aryans; and next, the separation of the Harappan Civilization from the Vedic mainstream.

In this reexamination, the recent decipherment of the Indus script by Natwar Jha is beginning to play a fundamental role. To begin with, it provides a firm historical context for the Harappans by linking their archaeology to the Vedic literature. This provides a chronological and cultural marker of the first importance by placing the later Vedic literature in the third millennium. As a result, it now becomes possible to begin to formulate the history of Vedic India on a solid foundation. It is shown that this is best done by discarding the field called Indology which has no scientific basis; its place should be taken by a historical structure built on a foundation of primary sources from archaeology and ancient literature. With this, our study of ancient India can begin in earnest.


In the last decade of the 18th century, Sir William Jones, an English jurist in the employ of the British East India Company began a study of Sanskrit to better understand the legal and political traditions of the Indian subjects. As a classical scholar, he was struck by the extraordinary similarities between Sanskrit and European languages like Latin and Greek. He observed:

… the Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure, more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs in 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 the same source.

With this dramatic announcement Jones simultaneously launched the two fields that we now call Indology and comparative linguistics. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that the two fields were doomed from the start: being new, neither had a scientific foundation, and yet they tried to grow by feeding on each other. It soon spawned a new breed of scholars who went on to apply the first superficial findings of these new fields to the problems of ancient India. Into these new fields — rich with data, but without any foundation to speak of — entered a man whose name has become almost synonymous with Indology, Freidrich Max Müller.

Max Müller was a romantic with a vivid and sometimes uncontrolled imagination. Through his combination of erudition, enthusiasm, skill in presentation and fortunate circumstances, he came to dominate the new field of Indology. To account for the similarities between Indian and European languages, European scholars went on to propose something called the ‘Aryan invasion’. According to this theory, a nomadic people inhabiting the Eurasian steppes speaking the common ancestor of Sanskrit and Greek — variously called Indo-European, Indo-Aryan and so forth — invaded India from the northwest and settled in India. Max Müller placed this invasion in 1500 BC, and the composition of the Rigveda in 1200 BC. He presented various arguments, but it is now known — we have his own word for it — that what influenced him was his firm belief in the Christian dogma of the creation of the world in 4004 BC (October 23 at 9:00 AM, time zone unspecified), and the Biblical Flood in 2448 BC!

This highlights another problem that has plagued Indology right from the start. Not only was Indology (and its associated field of comparative linguistics) without a foundation, but also heavily influenced by Christian beliefs and political considerations. This is reflected in its methodology also which often resembles theology more than science. This can be seen in the following statement of the well-known linguist Murray Emeneau made as recently as 1954:

At some time in the second millennium B.C., 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. (Emphasis added.)

As Emeneau himself acknowledges, this notion of a foreign origin for the Vedas and Sanskrit is a 'linguistic doctrine' for which there is no evidence in the Vedic or other ancient literature. Presumably Emeneau expects us to accept his doctrine on faith — as revealed truth. To a scientifically informed person this seems more like theology than anything else. (Remember Thomas Aquinas' dictum: Philosophia ancilla thologiae or "Rational inquiry must be subordinate to theology.")

There were other forces at work — notably the rise of German nationalism, and political and career considerations of individual scholars; these need not detain us here. The point to recognize here is that in such a climate, dominated by political and religious considerations, Indology had no chance of evolving into a systematic discipline — let alone a science. As a result, influence and powers of rhetoric often prevailed over logic and facts.

The basic assumptions of Indology were (and remain): (1) Vedas and the Sanskrit language (or its ancestor), were brought into India by nomadic invaders in the second millennium; (2) there was no indigenous civilization in India prior to that date. An immediate corollary to these assumptions is that India never had an indigenous civilization and everything was an import. This is still the central dogma of Marxist historians who became the successors to the colonial and Christian missionary scholars. (More of this later.) In this climate of combined religious and political darkness that resembled Medieval Europe more than the modern world, there were a few shafts of scientific light. Scholars like H.T. Colebrook, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Herman Jacobi found astronomical references in the Vedic literature that brought to light serious problems with the Aryan invasion and other assumptions (and dogmas) of Indology. This, however, was not enough to dislodge entrenched dogmas. Then, in the third decade of this century, there was a significant change.

Beginning in 1921, archaeologists Rakhal Das Bannerji and Daya Ram Sahni, working under the direction of Sir John Marshall discovered two ancient cities in Punjab and Sind; these are now famous as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Subsequent excavations showed that they were part of a great civilization spread over more than a million square kilometers. This is now known as the Harappan or the Indus Valley Civilization. Archaeologists now place it in the c. 3100 – 1900 BC period, though its antecedents can be traced to 7000 BC at sites like Mehrgarh in the northwest and Koldihwa in Central India.

This was a major blow to the Aryan invasion theory, and the idea that there was no civilization in India prior to the arrival of the Aryans in 1500 BC. It should have made scholars sit up and take a serious look at the foundation of their theories and arguments. It did not. To begin with, Indologists had never built a foundation for their subject. All they had to show for their century of activity was a collection of theories and conjectures. In keeping with this record, they added another conjecture: the Harappan Civilization was destroyed by the invading Aryans. The result of all this piling of conjecture upon conjecture was to move Indology (and Indologists) further and further away from empirical reality. As it stands today, Indology resembles nothing so much as comparative mythology. Clearly, this cannot be the basis for history let alone historiography. So we must look elsewhere to build a foundation for the study of ancient India.

From colonialism to Marxism

A consequence of this unusual history is that the major influences on the evolution of Indology have been Christian missionary interests and European politics including colonial interests. (It should be noted that throughout the colonial period, Christian missionaries worked closely with colonial authorities, especially in fields like education.) This came to an end with the independence of India from colonial rule on August 15, 1947. So the time was ripe for Indian scholars to reject these colonial impositions and begin a reexamination of their history and culture based on a study of their matchless heritage of primary records, supplemented by modern scientific tools. In fact, more than a century ago, Swami Vivekananda had exhorted Indians:

The histories of our country written by English [and other Western] writers cannot but be weakening to our minds, for they talk only of our downfall. How can foreigners, who understand very little of our manners and customs, or religion and philosophy, write faithful and unbiased histories of India? Naturally, many false notions and wrong inferences have found their way into them.

Nevertheless they have shown us how to proceed making researches into our ancient history. Now it is for us to strike out an independent path of historical research for ourselves, to study the Vedas and the Puranas, and the ancient annals of India, and from them make it your life's sadhana to write accurate and soul-inspiring history of the land. It is for Indians to write Indian history.

But again, for reasons peculiar to every post-colonial country, this did not happen. Why this was so is an important subject that still awaits serious study. For our purposes it is enough to know that at the time of independence, India had a substantial English educated elite class that identified itself closely with the values and attitudes of the British rulers. A good number of these had received their education at institutions run by Christian missions, and had gone on to imbibe many of the anti-Hindu prejudices perpetuated by missionary scholars. Following the withdrawal of colonialism, Marxism — no less hostile to Hinduism — filled the resulting vacuum. This elite, without the guidance of colonial and missionary scholarship, readily embraced Marxist formulations of Indian history.

A key figure in this development was the Marxist scholar D.D. Kosambi. He formulated a version of ancient Indian history around the central Marxist dogma of the class struggle, and economy as the basis of history. An inseparable part of Marxist theology is that India has no history of its own and what is called history is nothing but a record of its intruders. This was stated by no less a person than Karl Marx. This dogma has become sacrosanct for the Marxist scholars who came to dominate the Indian intellectual scene for nearly half a century. They are no more prepared to question it than a devout Catholic the notion of virgin birth. The Aryan invasion theory fitted in well with this belief system. Even when archaeological data forced some of them to abandon the invasion idea, they grimly hung on to the notion of the Vedas and the Sanskrit language as foreign imports. This is essentially the position of Indian Marxists, many of whom recognize that the Aryan invasion has been shattered by science. They assert that even though there was no invasion, the Vedas and Sanskrit are foreign imports. Their very identity as Marxists depends on it.

Secular eschatology

It is important to understand that what has passed for ‘research’ and ‘scholarship’ by this school has consisted entirely of manipulating data from Indian sources around Marxist beliefs. Where Christian missionaries in India had followed this course to establish the superiority of Christianity over all other religions — especially Hinduism — the Marxists used similar arguments to establish the inevitability of Marxism. Marxists essentially adopted the idea of ‘progress’ from Christian theology.

Christianity sees history as the evolution of mankind from its ‘natural’ sinful state to be redeemed by Christ. This is the essence of mankind’s ‘progress’ or eschatology. Marxists hold the history of the world to be a similar evolution into a Marxist society. It was for this reason that the philosopher Bertrand Russell called Marxism a ‘Christian heresy’. And for the same reason, the Marxist view of history may justifiably be called a ‘secular eschatology’. From all this it is not hard to see that modern Indian historians have been acting more as theologians than scientists. This in fact is at the heart of the current debate over the interpretation of ancient Indian history. There is now battle raging over it. This is examined in the next article.

Origin of Yoga

The popularization of yoga in the West by yoga schools influenced by the Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali (2nd century BC), have almost led to the origins yoga of yoga being linked with Patanjali in the Western mind.

But there are evidences against it.

Mohenjodaro seals
In fact, the earliest illustration we have of yoga is from the Mohenjo-daro seals. Mohenjo-Daro is the remains of an ancient city located in Pakistan, part of the Indus Valley civilization which yoga yoga existed along the Indus river and Ghaggar-Hakra river in north-west India and what is now Pakistan. Mohenjo-Daro’s parent city was Harrapa in India. These civilizations have been dated from 3300 BC to 1300 BC. The Mohenjo-daro seals yoga show a figure standing on its head, and another sitting cross yoga legged.

Vedic Shastra
Some see yoga’s origins as being from the Vedic shastras, or vedic religious texts, which are the foundation of Indian Hinduism. The Vedic texts were created from 2500 BC, and the Rigveda is believed to have been completed by 1500 BC yoga. The Rigveda is one of several principle early vedic texts. A lot of these texts were concerned with sacrificial rituals. There are sacrificial prayers, incantations, and elements related to magic, to name a few aspects of the subject matter. These are now viewed symbolically, or philosophically, although they were presumably intended more literally at the time. But the word “yoga” was discussed in the RigVeda. In it, there is mention of ‘yoking’ our mind and insight to the ‘Sun Of Truth’ (David yoga Frawley, a Vedic scholar).

Bhagavad Gita
Yoga is also discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna describes 4 types of yoga: * selfless action - in following one’s soul path, one’s dharma, first and foremost, and without thinking of the outcome, the end result, or being motivated by self gain (Karma Yoga) * self transcending knowledge (Jnana yoga) * psycho-physical meditation (Raja yoga) * devotion - loving service to the Divine Essence (Bhakti yoga) (Source - Wikipedia) The Bhagavad Gita is believed to have been written between the 5th and 2nd century BC.

So the Yoga is as old as Hinduism.

Saraswathi River Myth and Reality

Haryana government recently built a lake park near Pipli, in district Kurukashetra, where the legendary river Sarasvati would have crossed the Grand Trunk road. The statue of goddess Sarasvati installed in the newly built park bears the inscription of the Rigveda phrase: Ambitame, Naditame, Devitame, in praise of the mighty river of the past. This monument is as much a tribute to the legendary river as it is in recognition of the efforts of numerous Indian scholars, historians, archaeologists, hydro-geologists and the new breed of scientists - the satellite imagery experts- diligently pursuing research on the Sarasvati legend. Combined effort of these scholar-scientists is daily turning over new evidence in support of the Sarasvati legend. In fact, we are witnessing a great event, which promises to move the legend of Sarasvati into the realm of history. This event will pave the way for pushing back the recorded history of the Indian sub-continent by a few thousand years. Even more important is the fact that this is the first effort, at this scale, undertaken by the scholars and scientists from this sub-continent.

There are numerous references to river Sarasvati in the ancient Indian literature of the Vedic and post- vedic period. Rigveda, the largest and the most ancient of the four Vedas, describes Sarasvati as a mighty river with many individually recognised tributaries. The sacred book calls Sarasvati as the seventh river of the Sindhu-Sarasvati river system, hence the name Saptsindhu for the region bounded by rivers Sarasvati in the east and Sindhu (modern Indus) in the west. Rigveda hymns also describe life and times of the people residing in the Sarasvati river valley. Indian literature also contains references to the existence of many centers of learning on the banks of this river and its tributaries. Some of the tributaries of the lost river like Markanda and Tangri still bear the names of the Vedic sages. The awe and esteem the river inspired during the vedic period is best summed by the three-word tribute to the river in the Rigveda: ambitame – the best of the mothers, naditame – the best of the rivers, and devitame – the best of the goddesses. These words have been appropriately inscribed on the statue of Sarasvati at the Haryana monument.

In other words, during the Vedic period, Sarasvati was recognised as greatest of the rivers that nurtured the people living on its banks like a loving mother, and supported a number of learning centers and their resident scholars, ascetics, sages and seers (rishies and munis) like a benevolent deity. In view of this, it may be safe to assume that the ancient Vedic literature was itself written on the banks of this river. By nurturing such a pursuit of divine knowledge, Sarasvati appropriately assumes the status of the goddess of language, learning, arts and sciences - the best of the goddesses. If this is true, what a great scholarly heritage the Vedic Saptsindhu – the later Punjab spread from Peshawar to Delhi - is endowed with!

Post- vedic literature, most prominently the Mahabharata, has references to the drying river Sarasvati. Mahabharta describes Balrama’s pilgrimage from Dawarka to Mathura along the drying bed of this river. There are also references to Balrama’s visits to a number of centers of learning (rishi Ashrams) during this journey completing the picture of a mighty drying river that supported great centers of learning in its heyday. Later, during the middle ages, there are references to fissures and faults in the ground on the dry bed of river Sarasvati. Invading armies of Islam marching from Sindh province to Delhi are reported to have taken longer mountain route instead of the shorter route of the dry Sarasvati bed because of the difficulties in crossing the fissure in the river bed. Recently, Landsat (USA launched series of remote sensing satellites) imagery has also confirmed the existence of a large number of ground faults in the earthquake prone northwest India, that constituted the Sarasvati –Sindhu valley. Such ground faults have caused the seepage of Sarasvati water to underground channels, contributing to the legend of the Vedic Sarasvati disappearing underground.

Chance discovery of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in 1920s, as a result of the railroad building activity, revealed a lost but mature civilisation. Sir John Marshall, leading the excavations at that time, named it as the Indus Valley Civilization because these two ruined cities were located on the banks of the Indus river and its tributary, Ravi. Discovery of Harappa type ruins at Ropar in the Indian side of Punjab, soon after partition, proved that the Indus Valley Civilasation was more extensive than originally thought. This, and some similar finds in quick succession, started a competition, perhaps the only healthy one, between the Indian and Pakistani archaeologists for the search for Indus valley civilisation sites.

In the process, more than 1400 sites containing the Harappa like artifacts have been discovered and more are still being revealed. Two third of these sites are located on the Indian side the remaining one third are located on the Pakistani side of the border. Prominent among these sites are Guneriwala in Pakistan, Manda in Jammu and Kashmir, Ropar in Punjab, Banawali and Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Alamgirpur near Meerut, Kalibangan in Rajasthan, Lothal, Dholavira and Surkotada in Gujarat and Daimabad in Maharashtra. When plotted on the map, these sites seem to crowd around the dry bed of river Ghaggar in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, and rivers Hakra and Nara in Bahawalpur and Sind in Pakisstan, and ending in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. Ghaggar is called Hakra when it enters Bahawalpur in Pakistan and continues as Nara in the Sindh province.

The artifacts recovered from these Harappan sites confirm the description of the professions followed by the Sarasvati valley people of the vedic times. Their professions included agriculture, weaving, animal husbandry and pasturing, metalworking, pottery, beads manufacturing and gold and silver working. At the Lothal site, a huge dock capable of handling ocean going and river navigation ships has been excavated. Some donut shaped stone anchors have also been found at Lothal and other sites indicating internal and external maritime trade. A visitor to the photo exhibition of the Harappan sites, held at Chandigarh recently, was visibly impressed with the evidence of town planning, brick structures, water management and drainage. He wondered loudly as to how much more time is needed for the modern Indian cities to achieve the sophistication of these ancient sites.

Harappan sites match the Vedic description of the Sarasvati valley people, and these sites are concentrated around the dry bed of Ghaggar river, which is also being recognised as the dry bed of the river Sarasvati. The combination of archaeological evidence on the ground, and satellite imagery from space would place the extent of this civilisation at approximately one and a half million square kilometers – the largest among the contemporary civilisations like Sumer and Egyptian. Considering the evidence gathered so far, it is more appropriate to rename the Indus Valley Civilisation as Sarasvati – Sindhu Civilisation. This civilisation was so much dependent upon the river Sarasvati that it was ill prepared to survive its loss. Losing their means of subsisdence as the river started drying, the population started migrating to east and south to settle on the banks of rivers Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri. This fact truly justifies the Rigveda title of Ambitame – the best of the mothers – for the river Sarasvati.

In 1980, Professor Yashpal and others recognised the palaeo-channels of the erstwhile Sarasvati using Landsat imagery. In 1996, Professor Valdiya traced the course of river Sarasvati from West Garhwal in the Himalayas to the Gulf of Khambat in Gujarat using hydro-geological studies. There is remarkable similarity in the course of the river Sarasvati identified from these two different sources. According to this, the Vedic Sarasvati followed the course of modern rivers Ghaggar, Hakra and Nara where most of the Indus Valley sites are also located. In 1997, Drs. S.M. Rao and K.M. Kulkarni of the Bhaba Atomic Research Center tracked the old course of river Sarasvati from its source in Himalayas and its flow through Rajasthan, Bhawalpur and Sindh to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, again using Landsat imagery. Using low levels of tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive isotope, they also collected evidence to prove that waters trapped in the underground channels below the ancient course of the river Sarasvati belonged to that river. Other scientists have used Indian Remote Sensing (IRS – 1 series) satellites to track the bed of the lost river Sarasvati, confirming the results reached by the scientists mentioned above.

Dr. S. Kalynaraman, who took premature retirement from the Asian Development Bank to work on the Sarasvati river project, has set up the Sarasvati-Sindhu Research Center at Chennai. At this center, he has compiled a 200-page monogram reviewing the Sarasvati related research. This book is available for downloading from the internet site The map on this page shows the history of the river system in northwest India with the course of river Sarasvati and its tributaries in the vedic period superimposed on the current river system of the Indo-Gangetic plain. The map is the result of research collated from all sources by Dr. Kalyanaraman’s team. Incidentally, Dr. Kalyanaraman’s work also inspired the Haryana’s Sarasvati Park project.

River Sarasvati originates from the Har-ki-dhun glacier in West Garhwal, Bandarpunch massif in the Himalayas alongwith river Yamuna. The two rivers flowed parallel for some distance and later joined together, proceeding south as the Vedic Sarasvati. More seasonal rivers and rivulets, including Ghaggar, joined Sarasvati as it followed the course of the present river Ghaggar through modern Punjab, and Haryana. River Sutlej, the Vedic Shatdru, joined the river Sarasvati as a tributary at Shatrana, approximately 25 kilometers south of Patiala. Sarasvati then followed the course of Ghaggar through Rajasthan and Hakra in Bhawalpur before emptying into the Rann of Kutch via Nara in Sindh province, running parallel to the Indus river. There is no doubt that the river Sarasvati, carrying the waters of three perennial and numerous seasonal rivers, was a mighty river in the vedic times and well deserved the Rigveda title of naditame – greatest of the rivers.

How and when was this mighty river lost? Evidence collected so far shows that the river disappeared due to a combination of reasons spread over a few hundred years possibly between 2000 to 1500 BC. Main reasons contributing to the drying of the river Sarasvati appear to be the loss of its important tributaries due to changes in river course, climate changes like long periods of draught and water seepage through earth faults and fissures combined with the obstruction of river flow by shifting of sand due to high winds. Whole of northwest India, upto the Rann of Kutch, was subject to earth quake activity resulting in raising of the ground, and creation of earth faults which contributed to the loss of water of this river.

When the Aravallis range is traced north to the Himalayas there is evidence of rise in the ground level on the line of Aravallis. This change in the ground level appears to have caused the turning of the river Yamuna eastwards at Paontasahib to join the Ganges at Allahabad. This river capturing denied the waters of Yamuna to Sarasvati. Another blow to the river Sarasvati was struck when Sutlej took a sharp U-turn at Ropar moving to flow parallel to the river Beas, the Vedic Vipasa. Having lost both of its perennial tributaries, i.e., rivers Yamuna and Sutlej, river Sarasvati would have been a drying river in around 2000 BC It is probable that desertification of Rajasthan would have taken place at that time. As supported by the hydro-geological evidence, the ground faults and sand movement would have caused the seepage of the remaining waters of river Sarasvati to underground channels, leaving a dry riverbed.
Last part of the legend is that the Sarasvati meets the Ganges and Yamuna at the confluence (sangam) at Allahabad (Paryag). Neither archaeological finds nor satellite images support any evidence of the river Sarasvati ever flowing east towards Allahabd, either over the ground or underground. Some modern scholars interpret the capture of Sarasvati waters by Yamuna also to mean the confluence of Yamuna and Sarasvati jointly with Ganges at Allahabad. If this is accepted, meeting of Sutlej with Beas has equal claim to the confluence of three rivers, i.e., Sutlej, Beas and Sarasvati. When, however, the Rigveda tribute to the river Sarasvati as devitame – best of the goddesses - is considered, an entirely new perspective to the legend emerges.

There is enough evidence in the ancient Indian literature to prove that there were numerous centers of learning (rishi asharams) on the banks of river Sarasvati and its tributaries. These learning centers supported a large number of scholars (gurus) and students (shishyas), mostly Brahmins. Considering the ancient Indian scholarly traditions, the composition, recording, preservation and dissemination of the vedic knowledge was purely an oral process and no written medium was used for the purpose. Thus, goddess Sarasvati resided with the ascetics and scholars who were repository to the divine knowledge. Authors of the ancient Indian philosophy were, therefore, rightly conscious of the need for periodic meetings between the Vedic scholars spread over the country for improvement, preservation and spread of this knowledge. With these aims in view, and knowing the 12 year cycle of the solar eclipses to last to eternity, they smartly prescribed meeting of the scholars every 12 years at Paryag (Allahabad) before a dip at the confluence of rivers Ganges and Yamuna at the onset of the solar eclipse. Allahabad is located at the geographic center of the country and, as such, is an ideal location for the scholars from the whole of the country to meet, specially when they had to travel on foot. This is like setting up a timetable for the annual Indian Science Congress conferences for eternity.
The saints and scholars would set on their journey to Allahabad from all parts of the country sufficiently in advance of the coming solar eclipse. They would walk from village to village on the way, disseminating their knowledge of the scriptures to the local population through evening discourses. Some enterprising individuals would pack up and travel with them to earn the merit of the goddess Sarasvati. There would be continuous conferences of these saints at Allahabad debating the most current interpretation of the scriptures. These conferences would concluded just before the onset of the solar eclipse. The saints would then go in a triumphant procession to take a collective dip at the sangam, at the onset of solar eclipse. Since goddess Sarasvati resides with these scholars, the collective dip in the river amounts to the ceremonial visit of goddess Sarsvati to the goddesses Ganges and Yamuuna. It is at this moment that the confluence of three rivers has taken place. The general public would then take the dip in the confluence of three rivers/goddesses including Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, and the vedic amitame – the best of the goddesses. Thus, earning the merit of the three goddesses.

It is only the beginning of the multi-disciplinary research in the Sarasvati legend. Many questions like the languages, scripts and administrative set up of the Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilasation still need to be answered. It may be worth waiting for these answers.

ambitame, nadi_tame, devitameDr. Naresh K. Gupta article in Tribune

Myths of Indus script

The world of scholars was totally ignorant about the culture known as Indus Valley Civilization or Harappa Culture till the early twenties of this century. The excavations at Mohenjodaro in Sind and at Harappa in Panjab (now in Pakistan) in 1922-23 and later and the discovery of numerous steatite seals in these excavations pushed back, at one stroke, the history of Indian Civilization including writing to the third millennium before Christ. After partition of India in 1947 when Mohenjodaro and Harappa went to Pakistan, similar sites in Eastern Panjab, Western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat were discovered. Of these Ka#liban#gan in Rajasthan and Lothal in Gujarat are important ones which have also yielded seals (and sealings) and have contributed much in establishing the chronological sequence of early and late phases of Harappan Culture. During the last fifty years and more, different views have been expressed by scholars about the authors of this great and highly developed culture which is comparable to that of Sumer, Babylon, Egypt and Assyria. And the key to the understanding of it lies in the decipherment of the writing on the seals and sealings. But unfortunately, the decipherment of this writing has defied the attempts of several scholars during the past fifty years and more. While some scholars think that this writing is of indigenous origin, others feel that it is of foreign origin. Even amongst those who think of indigenous origin, one set of scholars propound the theory of Dravidian origin while the other set put forth the theory of Aryan origin. These different views may be briefly mentioned here.

As stated above, the Indus script appears on a large number of steatite seals which are beautifully prepared. From Lothal in Gujarat some sealings are also found. From these sealings, which are found in association with packing material:; such as cloth, matting and twisted cords, it has been suggested that the sealings were used as labels and affixed to the packages of goods were thus of commercial or merchandise value10.

Waddel was one of the earliest scholars to attempt the decipherment of the Indus script. He thought that the writing represents the Sumerian script and, based on the identity of Sumerians with Aryans, he read the names of Vedic and Epic persons11 . Pran Nath assigned alphabetic values to the script and suggested their connection with the later Bra#hmi# script12. Sankaranand and Barua also thought that the script was alphabetic. Sudhansu Kumar Ray also held a similar view. Hrozny tried to connect the script with the Hittite language. But Heras suggested that the script is picto-phonographic and connected it with Dravidian languages reading old Tamil on the seals. Hevesy sought to establish similarity between the Indus script and the script of the Eastern Islands in the Pacific ocean. Hunter felt that the Indus script is derived -partly from Egyptian script and partly from Mesopotamian script. Flinders Petrie also connected the Indus script with the Egyptian hieroglyphs and thought that the seals contained only the titles and not the names of the officials. He also assumed that the symbols were ideographs while Meriggi thought that while symbols were ideograms, others were phonemes so that the writing was of ideo-phonographic system. Amongst other early scholars who have attempted to read the Indus script may be mentioned Gadd, Sydney Smith and Langdon13 . David Diringer remarks "it seems obvious that the Indus Valley script which is rather schematic and linear on the extant inscriptions, was originally pictographic but it is impossible to decide whether it was truly indigenous or imported"14.

The above discussion would show how scholars are holding different views regarding the Indus script and how difficult the problem of decipherment of this script has been during the last several years. It is possible to decipher an unknown language in a known script or a known language in an unknown script. But in regard to Indus script, it is a case of deciphering an unknown language in an unknown script and hence it has baffled and defied the attempts of many a well-known scriptologist. For the success of such an attempt certain points of contact are necessary15. For example, the script of the Egyptian hieroglyphs remained undeciphered for a very long period until the discovery of the famous 'Rosetta Stone' inscription in 1799 by the French engineer Bouchard at the time of Napoleon's expedition to Egypt. This sensational discovery proved to be a turning point in understanding the nature of the hieroglyphic script, because the Rosetta Stone contained inscriptions in three different kinds of script, viz., hieroglyphic, demotic (or local script) and Greek. With the help of the Greek text attempts to decipher the other two scripts were made by pioneers like the French orientalist Silvestre de Sacy and the Swedish diplomat Akerblad. And it was left to the fortune and credit of Sacy's pupil and French scholar J. Fr. Champollion to finally and conclusively decipher the inscriptions of the Rosetta Stone in 1821-2216. Again, the decipherment of the Cretan Linear B inscription, whose language was unknown and for which no bilingual text was available, was made possible for Ventris and Chadwick by the existence of, similar scripts n Cypriot and in Greek mainland written in Greek language17. Similarly some points of contact are necessary to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of the decipherment of the Indus script like the biscriptal or bilingual inscriptions.We shall now review the recent attempts made by Indian and foreign scholars about the decipherment of the Indus or Harappan script. Amongst the foreign scholars, the Russian team consisting of Knorozov, Volcok and Gurov may be mentioned. They are credited to have taken the help of the computer machines. They assign word value to the signs and suggest that the script belonged to the Dravidian family of languages18. The Finnish team of scholars led by Asko Parpola also believed the language of the Indus script to be Dravidian. Amongst the Indian scholars I. Mahadevan and S.R. Rao have made a detailed study of the problem19. While the former is inclined to attribute the script to be Dravidian, the latter thinks it to be pre-Vedic. Mahadevan has also made use of the computer facilities and has attempted to achieve 'word-division' in the script assuming the language to be Dravidian. S.R. Rao claims that his approach is without any presumption and has tried to show that there has been a change in the script from its earlier phase to the later phase in that the number of signs which were more in the earlier period were reduced considerably in the later phase. He compares the signs of this later phase with the symbols of the North Semetic script of a comparative date and by showing similarity between them gives the same phonetic value to the Harappan script that is found in the Semetic script, other words, S.R. Rao suggests that there was evolution of the Indus script from an earlier period or mature peri9d (2500 B.C. to 1500 B.C.) and that the early syllabic-cum-alphabetic writing was disciplined into an alphabetic system by 1500 B.C. He also suggests that the Indus people spoke an Indo-European language which shows close affinity to Indo-Aryan in vocabulary, semantics and phonology. The names of the rulers and chiefs and of countries, sacrifices and divinities, as read by him, would suggest that the Harappans were the progenitors of the Vedic Aryans.

B.B. Lal has pointed out the difficulties in accepting the views of both I. Mahadevan and S.R. Rao20. Mahadevan himself has changed his views and methods of approach on more than one occasion and we have yet to wait and see what his final views in the matter of decipherment of the Harappan script are. In one of his latest papers entitled 'Study of the Indus Script : A Bilingual Approach'21 he has suggested that the problem should be studied from the point of view of interpreting the ideograms in the light of the Indian historical tradition which has come down to us in two main streams, viz., Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. This theory still remains to be tested by scholars before expressing any opinion.

As regards S.R. Rao's approach, viz., assigning the phonetic values of the Semitic script to the late Harappan script and reading it as pre-Vedic Sanskrit is also not decisive and final. As pointed out by Lal, Rao compares the symbols of the late Harappan with those of the Semitic ones and this material is not enough to arrive at any conclusion. Regarding the vowel sign Rao compares it not with any Semitic sign, since Semitic has no vowel signs, but with Sumerian sign for a following Waddel. And for some signs, Rao suggests different sources, viz., Akkadian and Ugaritic. This will be a difficult proposition. Moreover, while the late Harappan script, as suggested by Rao, has many vowel marks, the- Semitic script is completely devoid of any vowel marks. In justification of his approach, Rao says that he is proceeding from the known script (Semitic) to the unknown script (Harappan). But he is silent about the known origins of both these scripts which are different. While the Harappan is descended from the early Indus script according to Rao himself, the origin of the Semitic script is suggested to be Egyptian. So Rao has to explain at what stage the Semitic script acquired the phonetic values of the Indus script if his theory is to be supported. He has not attempted to answer these questions but has only instituted some comparison between the two scripts and has tried to establish some kind of phonetic relationship. Another defect in Rao's findings is that while he has given his reading as pre-Vedic or Indo-European, he has quoted not a single authority of Indo-European Linguistics or even an authority of Vedic language that the readings given by him can be accepted. In view of what is said above, it is not possible to accept Rao's claim that he has deciphered the Indus script. Of course, every scholar who makes an attempt at decipherment of a new script does claim that he has deciphered, but a new script can be taken as deciphered only when the world of scholars accept his views without any doubt22. So we can say, without any fear of contradiction, that the Indus script has defied the attempt of all scholars so far and has not yet been deciphered just as the Asokan Bra#hmhi# script has been deciphered. The discovery of longer record in the script or a bilingual or biscriptal writing or some definite contact point would help us in finding a satisfactory solution to this unknown script in an unknown language.
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Myth of Alexander Victory in India

Scholars say alexander never won instead he lost to porus

by Kamesh Aiyer

Many years ago I came across a comment in a Usenet posting (to those who don’t remember Usenet, it was the blog of the pre-web world), that said that there was no proof that Alexander won any victories in India and that it might be more appropriate to call him “Alexander the Merely Mediocre”.The comment amused and intrigued me and much later I had an opportunity to read Alexander’s biography by Plutarch. I was surprised to find out that Plutarch wrote his biography over two hundred years after Alexander’s death using oral legends as his source. It is possible that he may also have had access to a personal diary kept by Alexander’s physician, but that is about it. Plutarch wrote the biography of Alexander as part of a series of biographies that contrasted the different styles of great Greek leaders, and in his view, Alexander was possibly the greatest of the greats, flawed only by youthful indiscretions. But otherwise, the tale came from legends spread by Alexander’s friends after he came back from India and died.So the story of how Alexander met and defeated the Puru king (“Porus” to the Greeks) and released him because Puru asked to be “treated like a king” in defeat did not come from any documented source. It was a legend.
The story, then, of Alexander’s triumphant march into India, finally only giving up at the urging of his soldiers who were tired after years of fighting and who wanted to return to their loved ones (in Persia?); the odyssey down the Indus, defeating various kingdoms but sustaining a deadly wound; and, finally splitting his army in two so that they would have a better chance of returning with the news in case of further conflicts; returning with a fraction of his army to the seat of his empire in Persepolis and his death from his wounds; all based on legend. No documents, no sources, just myth.So did Alexander really venture successfully into India and turn back at the urging of his men? Or was it all spin?
I’ve searched what I can access of Usenet now and looked elsewhere for any follow-up to the original comment. I did not find any, so I thought I should follow up, if only with a comment on Boloji!
Alexander’s defeat of the Persian empire and his victory over Egypt are well documented by non-Greek sources. So, I am not saying anything about these. After Alexander’s death the empire was divided into three, corresponding roughly to Greater Greece, Egypt, and Greater Persia, with tributaries to the east commanded by generals, such as Seleucus. No lands east of the Indus were part of this division; and subsequently, under the Mauryas, an Indian empire extended all the way into modern Afghanistan (ancient Gandhara) and modern Baluchistan (ancient Gedrosia). So Alexander did not even leave behind successors who would acknowledge his rule.

So what exactly happened to Alexander in India?Supposedly, Alexander first met some resistance from minor kingdoms in the Northwest, possibly from around Swat. He defeated these rulers. Then he met Ambi of Taxila who welcomed him as a fellow ruler, agreed to be his vassal, and offered him safe transit to the east. Then Alexander laid siege to a city and commited a crime against Athena by promising a safe conduct to mercenaries defending the city and massacring them after they left the city – Plutarch believes that the withdrawal of Athena’s blessing was the reason why he could not complete his victories in India. Then Alexander crosses the Indus into the Punjab and somewhere near modern-day Delhi, perhaps even in the historic battlefields of Panipat or Kurukshetra, he fought Porus and Porus lost. There is a story about how the Indian elephant brigade was winning the day when by cleverly attacking Porus’ elephant, the Greeks managed to un-elephant Porus, and the elephants in disarry retreated rough-shod over their own troops.Porus is captured and brought to Alexander in chains. Alexander looks at the tall (supposedly 6 cubits) Porus and asks him how he wanted to be treated. Porus replied, “Like a king” – his arrogance and pride aroused Alexander’s admiration.Promptly, Alexander released Porus, agreed to be his friend, restored his lost kingdom to him, and added to it lands that were part of Ambi’s Taxila.Huh?
Let’s have that again.Ambi, who fought on Alexander’s side, lost lands to Porus as a result of Porus’s defeat. Some defeat.Then, having established himself as a magnanimous victor, Alexander asked Porus what it would take to win the rest of India. He made the mistake, I guess, of asking this in public with all his generals listening in, and Porus described the entire rest of the Gangetic valley with its multiple kingdoms, and the Magadhan empire downstream. Porus described these in terms of how much bigger they were than his own little kingdom.As a result, there was no more stomach among Alexander’s generals for continuing. They had almost lost to Porus. How could they successfully confront even larger forces?And so Plutarch’s story goes that the army revolted against continuing. And Alexander decides to retreat, but he asks Porus what the best way to return would be. He is told that he should go down the Indus in boats and then go along the Makran coast in boats and ships to Arabia and thence to Persia. And Alexander does something like that – at the Indus delta he splits his force into two and sends one by sea and the other by land and they both return safely after three years.
But, uh-ho?Why couldn’t he just retreat? He had just defeated Porus and obtained his eternal friendship. He had defeated the kingdoms along the way and set up his own warlords to rule them. Ambi was his friend (well, maybe). He knew the way back.There is a simpler explanation that does not require one to strain one’s intelligence. Alexander lost to Puru. Puru imposed a separate peace on Ambi that included the surrender of some Taxilan land to Puru and a withdrawal of support for the Greeks. Alexander negotiated a safe-conduct for his own troops, provided they went down the Indus, and did not trouble Taxila or Puru again.So there’s Alexander, having suffered his first major defeat, set adrift down the Indus with a much reduced army. To get food and supplies, they have to negotiate or fight with the cities they pass. They even pick up some “philosophers” from a city populated and defended by “philosophers”, i.e., Brahmins. Plutarch has some stories about these Brahmins, some of which remind one of prescriptions in Kautilya’s Arthashastra.Along the way, Alexander suffers a wound to the side.They reach the delta of the Indus and make a decision to split – I’d like to imagine that the idea of splitting his force came from his Indian philosopher friends. It was wise advice. Alexander’s most urgent concern would have been for his family and his empire if any Persian enemies or even some fair-weather friends received the news of his defeat. The two halves of his army would be tied by bonds of friendship (and hostages in all but name retained by Alexander in his force). Whichever half returned first, it would serve to spread a different story, a story of the victory and the magnanimity of Alexander the Great.

What was left back in the Gangetic plain? Two “small” kingdoms, Taxila and Puru, that were to be swallowed up by the expanding Magadhan empire. Twenty years later, Chandragupta Maurya would take over the Magadhan empire and the true details of the encounter between these Indian kingdoms and Alexander would be lost to history for ever.Instead, Alexander’s physician and friend who had taken care of him on his deathbed had a journal to write. And his other friends had a story to tell, that would ensure that the myth of Alexander Megalos (the Great) would keep his enemies from attacking him as he lay dying.
Centuries later, Plutarch makes Alexander immortal.Why do I call the legend of Alexander “spin”. Because that is what it is. Alexander could not afford to look like a loser. His successors could not afford to look like losers. Years later, Plutarch could not afford to deflate the Alexandrian bubble.If we took the inhabited portions of all of Alexander’s verified conquests, and excluded the “Indian” provinces of Gandhara and Gedrosia, the resulting empire, “Alexander’s empire”, would be a little bit smaller than the inhabited portions of the Gangetic plain. Yes, Alexander may have been a great warrior and he was surely a lucky one when he defeated the weakened Persian empire, but it would be silly of us to accept without question the thesis that Alexander was all set to conquer the kingdoms of North India. But such is the influence of the “West” on us Indians – and by the “West” I mean the Persians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Arabs, the Europeans, the English, the Americans, and so on, that we accept without question that some tin-pot megalomaniac was about to do just that.


By David Frawley.

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 1500-1000BC, who overthrew an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Hindu culture. 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 pre-Aryan. 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, Mittani 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.

Moreover, the enemies of the Vedic people in the 'Rig Veda' also use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people themselves. Hence there is nothing in Vedic literture to show that either the Vedic culture was an iron- based culture or that there enemies were not.

The 'Rig Veda' describes its Gods as 'destroyers of cities'. This was used also to regard the Vedic as a primitive non-urban culture that destroys cities and urban civilization. However, there are also many verses in the 'Rig Veda' that speak of the Aryans as having having cities of their own and being protected by cities upto a hundred in number. Aryan Gods like Indra, Agni, Saraswati and the Adityas are praised as being like a city. Many ancient kings, including those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, had titles like destroyer or conquerer of cities. This does not turn them into nomads. Destruction of cities also happens in modern wars; this does not make those who do this
nomads. Hence the idea of Vedic culture as destroying but not building the cities is based upon ignoring what the Vedas actually say about their own cities.

Further excavation revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not destroyed by outside invasion, but according to internal causes and, most likely, floods. Most recently a new set of cities has been found in India (like the Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka sites by S.R. Rao and the National Institute of Oceanography in India) which are intermidiate between those of the Indus culture and later ancient India as visited by the Greeks. This may eliminate the so-called dark age following the presumed Aryan invasion and shows a continuous urban occupation in India back to the beginning of the Indus culture.

The interpretation of the religion of the Indus Valley culture -made incidentlly by scholars such as Wheeler who were not religious scholars much less students of Hinduism - was that its religion was different than the Vedic and more likely the later Shaivite religion. However, further excavations - both in Indus Valley site in Gujarat, like Lothal, and those in Rajsthan, like Kalibangan - show large number of fire altars like those used in the Vedic religion, along with bones of oxen, potsherds, shell jewelry and other items used in the rituals described in the 'Vedic Brahmanas'. Hence the Indus Valley culture evidences many Vedic practices that can not be merely coincidental. That some of its practices appeared non-Vedic to its excavators may also be attributed to their misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of Vedic and Hindu culture generally, wherein Vedism and Shaivism are the same basic tradition.

We must remember that ruins do not necessarily have one interpretation. Nor does the ability to discover ruins necessarily gives the ability to interpret them correctly.

The Vedic people were thought to have been a fair-skinned race like the Europeans owing to the Vedic idea of a war between light and darkness, and the Vedic people being presented as children of light or children of the sun. Yet this idea of a war between light and darkness exists in most ancient cultures, including the Persian and the Egyptian. Why don't we interpret their scriptures as a war between light and dark-skinned people? It is purely a poetic metaphor, not a
cultural statement. Moreover, no real traces of such a race are found in India.

The Vedic people were thought to have been a fair-skinned race like the Europeans owing to the Vedic idea of a war between light and darkness, and the Vedic people being presented as children of light or children of the sun. Yet this idea of a war between light and darkness exists in most ancient cultures, including the Persian and the Egyptian. Why don't we interpret their scriptures as a war between light and dark-skinned people? It is purely a poetic metaphor, not a
cultural statement. Moreover, no real traces of such a race are found in India.

Anthropologists have observed that the present population of Gujarat is composed of more or less the same ethnic groups as are noticed at Lothal in 2000 BC. Similarly, the present population of the Punjab is said to be ethnically the same as the population of Harappa and Rupar 4000 years ago. Linguistically the present day population of Gujrat and Punjab belongs to the Indo-Aryan language speaking group. The only inference that can be drawn from the anthropological and linguistic evidences adduced above is that the Harappan population in the Indus Valley and Gujrat in 2000 BC was composed of two or more groups, the more dominent among them having very close ethnic affinities with the present day Indo-Aryan speaking population of India.

In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans.

There are many points in fact that prove the Vedic nature of the Indus Valley culture. Further excavation has shown that the great majority of the sites of the Indus Valley culture were east, not west of Indus. In fact, the largest concentration of sites appears in an area of Punjab and Rajsthan near the dry banks of ancient Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Vedic culture was said to have been founded by the sage Manu between the banks of Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Saraswati is lauded as the main river (naditama) in the 'Rig Veda' & is the most frequently mentioned in the text. It is said to be a great flood and to be wide, even endless in size. Saraswati is said to be "pure in course from the mountains to the sea". Hence the Vedic people were well acquainted with this river and regarded it as their immemorial homeland.

The Saraswati, as modern land studies now reveal, was indeed one of the largest, if not the largest river in India. In early ancient and pre-historic times, it once drained the Sutlej, Yamuna and the Ganges, whose courses were much different than they are today. However, the Saraswati river went dry at the end of the Indus Valley culture and before the so-called Aryan invasion or before 1500 BC. In fact this may have caused the ending of the Indus culture. How could the Vedic Aryans know of this river and establish their culture on its banks if it dried up before they arrived? Indeed the Saraswati as described in the 'Rig Veda' appears to more accurately show it as it was prior to the Indus Valley culture as in the Indus era it was already in decline.

Vedic and late Vedic texts also contain interesting astronomical lore. The Vedic calender was based upon astronomical sightings of the equinoxes and solstices. Such texts as 'Vedanga Jyotish' speak of a time when the vernal equinox was in the middle of the Nakshtra Aslesha (or about 23 degrees 20 minutes Cancer). This gives a date of 1300 BC. The 'Yajur Veda' and 'Atharva Veda' speak of the vernal equinox in the Krittikas (Pleiades; early Taurus) and the summer solstice (ayana) in Magha (early Leo). This gives a date about 2400 BC. Yet earlier eras
are mentioned but these two have numerous references to substantiate them. They prove that the Vedic culture existed at these periods and already had a sophisticated system of astronomy. Such references were merely ignored or pronounced unintelligible by Western scholars because they yielded too early a date for the 'Vedas' than what they presumed, not because such references did not exist.

Vedic texts like 'Shatapatha Brahmana' and 'Aitereya Brahmana' that mention these astronomical references list a group of 11 Vedic Kings, including a number of figures of the 'Rig Veda', said to have conquered the region of India from 'sea to sea'. Lands of the Aryans are mentioned in them from Gandhara (Afganistan) in the west to Videha (Nepal) in the east, and south to Vidarbha (Maharashtra). Hence the Vedic people were in these regions by the Krittika equinox or before 2400 BC. These passages were also ignored by Western scholars and it was said by them that the 'Vedas' had no evidence of large empires in India in Vedic times. Hence a pattern of ignoring literary evidence or misinterpreting them to suit the Aryan invasion idea became prevalent, even to the point of changing the meaning of Vedic words to suit this theory.

According to this theory, the Vedic people were nomads in the Punjab, comming down from Central Asia. However, the 'Rig Veda' itself has nearly 100 references to ocean (samudra), as well as dozens of references to ships, and to rivers flowing in to the sea. Vedic ancestors like Manu, Turvasha, Yadu and Bhujyu are flood figures, saved from across the sea. The Vedic God of the sea, Varuna, is the father of many Vedic seers and seer families like Vasishta, Agastya and the Bhrigu seers. To preserve the Aryan invasion idea it was assumed that the Vedic (and later sanskrit) term for ocean, samudra, originally did not mean the ocean but any large body of water, especially the Indus river in Punjab. Here the clear meaning of a term in 'Rig Veda' and later times - verified by rivers like Saraswati mentioned by name as flowing into the sea - was altered to make the Aryan invasion theory fit. Yet if we look at the index to translation of the 'Rig Veda' by Griffith for example, who held to this idea that samudra didn't really mean the ocean, we find over 70 references to ocean or sea. If samudra does not mean ocean why was it traslated as such? It is therefore without basis to locate Vedic kings in Central Asia far from any ocean or from the massive Saraswati river, which form the background of their land and the symbolism of their hymns.

One of the latest archeological ideas is that the Vedic culture is evidenced by Painted Grey Ware pottery in north India, which apears to date around 1000 BC and comes from the same region between the Ganges and Yamuna as later Vedic culture is related to. It is thought to be an inferior grade of pottery and to be associated with the use of iron that the 'Vedas' are thought to mention. However it is associated with a pig and rice culture, not the cow and barley culture of the 'Vedas'. Moreover it is now found to be an organic development of indegenous pottery, not an introduction of invaders.

Painted Grey Ware culture represents an indigenous cultural development and does not reflect any cultural intrusion from the West i.e. an Indo-Aryan invasion. Therefore, there is no archeological evidence corroborating the fact of an Indo-Aryan invasion.

In addition, the Aryans in the Middle East, most notably the Hittites, have now been found to have been in that region atleast as early as 2200 BC, wherein they are already mentioned. Hence the idea of an Aryan invasion into the Middle East has been pushed back some centuries, though the evidence so far is that the people of the moun- tain regions of the Middle East were Indo-Europeans as far as recorded history can prove.

The Aryan Kassites of the ancient Middle East worshipped Vedic Gods like Surya and the Maruts, as well as one named Himalaya. The Aryan Hittites and Mittani signed a treaty with the name of the Vedic Gods Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatyas around 1400 BC. The Hittites have a treatise on chariot racing written in almost pure Sanskrit. The Indo - Europeans of the ancient Middle East thus spoke Indo-Aryan, not Indo-Iranian languages and thereby show a Vedic culture in that region of the world as well.

The Indus Valley culture had a form of writing, as evidenced by numerous seals found in the ruins. It was also assumed to be non-Vedic and probably Dravidian, though this was never proved. Now it has been shown that the majority of the late Indus signs are identical with those of later Hindu Brahmi and that there is an organic development between the two scripts. Prevalent models now suggest an Indo-European base for that language.

It was also assumed that the Indus Valley culture derived its civilization from the Middle East, probably Sumeria, as antecedents for it were not found in India. Recent French excavations at Mehrgarh have shown that all the antecedents of the Indus Valley culture can be found within the subcontinent and going back before 6000 BC.

In short, some Western scholars are beginning to reject the Aryan invasion or any outside origin for Hindu civilization.

Current archeological data do not support the existence of an Indo- Aryan or European invasion into South Asia at any time in the pre- or protohistoric periods. Instead, it is possible to document archeologically a series of cultural changes reflecting indigenous cultural development from prehistoric to historic periods. The early Vedic literature describes not a human invasion into the area, but a fundamental restructuring of indigenous society. The Indo-Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data.

In other words, Vedic literature was interpreted on the assumption that there was an Aryan invasion. Then archeological evidence was interpreted by the same assumption. And both interpretations were then used to justify each other. It is nothing but a tautology, an exercise in circular thinking that only proves that if assuming something is true, it is found to be true!

Another modern Western scholar, Colin Renfrew, places the Indo- Europeans in Greece as early as 6000 BC. He also suggests such a possible early date for their entry into India.

As far as I can see there is nothing in the Hymns of the 'Rig Veda' which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking population was intrusive to the area: this comes rather from a historical assumption of the 'comming of the Indo-Europeans.

When Wheeler speaks of 'the Aryan invasion of the land of the 7 rivers, the Punjab', he has no warrenty at all, so far as I can see. If one checks the dozen references in the 'Rig Veda' to the 7 rivers, there is nothing in them that to me implies invasion: the land of the 7 rivers is the land of the 'Rig Veda', the scene of action. Nor is it implied that the inhabitants of the walled cities (including the Dasyus) were any more aboriginal than the Aryans themselves.

Despite Wheeler's comments, it is difficult to see what is particularly non-Aryan about the Indus Valley civilization. Hence Renfrew suggests that the Indus Valley civilization was in fact Indo-Aryan even prior to the Indus Valley era:

This hypothesis that early Indo-European languages were spoken in North India with Pakistan and on the Iranian plateau at the 6th millennium BC has the merit of harmonizing symmetrically with the theory for the origin of the Indo- European languages in Europe. It also emphasizes the continuity in the Indus Valley and adjacent areas from the early neolithic through to the floruit of the Indus Valley civilization.

This is not to say that such scholars appreciate or understand the 'Vedas' - their work leaves much to be desired in this respect - but that it is clear that the whole edifice built around the Aryan invasion is beginning to tumble on all sides. In addition, it does not mean that the 'Rig Veda' dates from the Indus Valley era. The Indus Valley culture resembles that of the 'Yajur Veda' and the reflect the pre-Indus period in India, when the Saraswati river was more prominent.

The acceptance of such views would create a revolution in our view of history as shattering as that in science caused by Einstein's theory of relativity. It would make ancient India perhaps the oldest, largest and most central of ancient cultures. It would mean that the Vedic literary record - already the largest and oldest of the ancient world even at a 1500 BC date - would be the record of teachings some centuries or thousands of years before that. It would mean that the 'Vedas' are our most authentic record of the ancient world. It would also tend to validate the Vedic view that the Indo-Europeans and other Aryan peoples were migrants from India, not that the Indo-Aryans were invaders into India. Moreover, it would affirm the Hindu tradition that the Dravidians were early offshoots of the Vedic people through the seer Agastya, and not unaryan peoples.

In closing, it is important to examine the social and political implications of the Aryan invasion idea:

First, it served to divide India into a northern Aryan and southern Dravidian culture which were made hostile to each other. This kept the Hindus divided and is still a source of social tension.

Second, it gave the British an excuse in their conquest of India. They could claim to be doing only what the Aryan ancestors of the Hindus had previously done millennia ago.

Third, it served to make Vedic culture later than and possibly derived from Middle Eastern cultures. With the proximity and relationship of the latter with the Bible and Christianity, this kept the Hindu religion as a sidelight to the development of religion and civilization to the West.

Fourth, it allowed the sciences of India to be given a Greek basis, as any Vedic basis was largely disqualified by the primitive nature of the Vedic culture.

This discredited not only the 'Vedas' but the genealogies of the 'Puranas' and their long list of the kings before the Buddha or Krishna were left without any historical basis. The 'Mahabharata', instead of a civil war in which all the main kings of India participated as it is described, became a local skirmish among petty princes that was later exaggerated by poets. In short, it discredited the most of the Hindu tradition and almost all its ancient literature. It turned its scriptures and sages into fantacies and exaggerations.

This served a social, political and economical purpose of domination, proving the superiority of Western culture and religion. It made the Hindus feel that their culture was not the great thing that their sages and ancestors had said it was. It made Hindus feel ashamed of their culture - that its basis was neither historical nor scientific. It made them feel that the main line of civilization was developed first in the Middle East and then in Europe and that the culture of India was peripheral and secondary to the real development of world culture.

Such a view is not good scholarship or archeology but merely cultural imperialism. The Western Vedic scholars did in the intellectual spehere what the British army did in the political realm - discredit, divide and conquer the Hindus.

In short, the compelling reasons for the Aryan invasion theory were neither literary nor archeological but political and religious - that is to say, not scholarship but prejudice. Such prejudice may not have been intentional but deep-seated political and religious views easily cloud and blur our thinking.

It is unfortunate that this this approach has not been questioned more, particularly by Hindus. Even though Indian Vedic scholars like Dayananda saraswati, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Arobindo rejected it, most Hindus today passively accept it. They allow Western, generally Christian, scholars to interpret their history for them and quite naturally Hinduism is kept in a reduced role. Many Hindus still accept, read or even honor the translations of the 'Vedas' done by such Christian missionary scholars as Max Muller, Griffith, Monier- Williams and H. H. Wilson. Would modern Christians accept an interpretation of the Bible or Biblical history done by Hindus aimed
at converting them to Hinduism? Universities in India also use the Western history books and Western Vedic translations that propound such views that denigrate their own culture and country.

The modern Western academic world is sensitive to critisms of cultural and social biases. For scholars to take a stand against this biased interpretation of the 'Vedas' would indeed cause a reexamination of many of these historical ideas that can not stand objective scrutiny. But if Hindu scholars are silent or passively accept the misinterpretation of their own culture, it will undoubtly continue, but they will have no one to blame but themselves. It is not an issue to be taken lightly, because how a culture is defined historically creates the perspective from which it is viewed in the modern social and intellectual context.
Tolerance is not in allowing a false view of one's own culture and religion to be propagated without question. That is merely self-betrayal.