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July 09, 2008


I wonder, if the Aryans migrated out, why did the Dravidians not do the same? Or is there another theory about how we populated Africa? ;)

The problem with Witzel is that he makes statements that appear factual but are based on very tenous evidence. That's a problem which is the bane of social sciences today.

You will notice that many of Witzel's points have the tone, e.g., "All these are outdated views that were prominent around the turn of the 19th/20th century" (p. 6). If you go back to why Witzel makes such a statement you'll find that the updated views are precisely his - and refer back to his papers. If you read the papers you'll see quite a bit of circular logic. I find it hard to believe scholars who resort to such tactics.

Anyway, the Aryan question is still very much unresolved today. People who claim that there was an Aryan invasion (which includes almost everyone alive) need to provide more solid evidence to support that claim. Clear archeological evidence will probably become available when Pakistan becomes more stable. Also, iron use in India predates 1200 BC in the Chotoanagpur plateau region.

I have a fundamental disagreement with your position: I'm convinced that the Aryan question is NOT "very much unresolved today." Let's see if we can still have a fruitful dialog.

The Witzel quote you cite from the footnote on p. 6 is eminently reasonable to me, and I see no problem with a scholar referring to his own papers (he refers to many others, by the way). Disliking his tone is not enough. Can you be more specific about Witzel's "statements that appear factual but are based on very tenous evidence" and furnish examples of his "circular logic"? By hand waving you do exactly what you criticize about the social sciences. Further, can you cite some sources for your claim about iron use in India?


Handwaving is unavoidable in a blog comment. However, I'll try to track down some references on early iron use in Chotanagpur. It's been a few years since I looked at Witzel's work closely. So I'll probably have to spend some time tracking down the bits that disappointed me - and I'm no linguist either.

One instance of seemingly factual statements is Witzel's stand on the word for iron. If I recall correctly, he translates the word "ayus" (ayas?) to mean copper. The word later morphed in meaning and came to mean iron.

Since much of the iron argument hinges on the date of this transformation, I tried to follow the cited references and see whether the argument seemed logical. I found that the accepted date originates in some German papers of the late 1800s (which I couldn't access or read). If have not been able to find a clear modern argument for the validity of the date that collects all the evidence together and presents it in a form accessible to the English reader.

But you may be right. I have probably tended to expect mathematical precision in an area of knowledge where such precision is not possible.

Also, I'm very interested in knowing what your take on the Aryan story is.

I haven't been able to track down a definitive peer-reviewed article on the earliest date of iron works in Singbhum.

However, the book chapter (not sure whether it has been peer reviewed) by Possehl and Gullapalli will give you a flavor of my current understanding. You can find a preview at Google books.

If my post didn't make it clear, I'm happy to say that I stand with Witzel on the Aryan story. There is a mountain of evidence from linguistics, philology, and other fields--enough to make the migration theory rock solid in its central claims. The Possehl/Gullapalli paper (also cited by Witzel) seems non-conclusive and even calls for further research. Witzel wrote in 2000, "Occasional finds of meteoric iron and its use [in India] of course predate that of regularly produced, smelted iron." Note that *even if* we establish that iron smelting in India began much earlier than 1200 BCE, does it mean we need to abandon the migration theory? It might mean iron smelting in India arose independently.

It is true that some types of evidence is missing--notably, archaeological, as you pointed out. Here we need to remember that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Witzel and others have offered potential reasons: not all invaders in history have left their mark on architecture; the big centers of Indus Valley civilization were already finished by c. 1500 BCE when the Aryans came; their migration likely happened in smaller waves and they encountered mostly village settlements, with whom they created a fusion culture (surely not a cheerful fusion, similar to what the Arabs did in Persia in the 7/8th cent. CE, with their greater aggressive power and more "imposing" cosmology, rituals, and social organization). All told, it's pretty clear to me that the Vedic culture came from further West.

Refinements of the above core ideas continue in scholarly circles; many contradictions remain. But the revisionist Hindu historians are an entirely different kettle of fish--not because the migration theory cannot be questioned, but because of how they make their case (for e.g., even though the Harappan script remains undeciphered, many see in it a form of proto-Sanskrit). In starting with the conclusions and working backward, they remind me of Intelligent Design folks in the US. A few years ago, some punters even tinkered with Harappan artifacts to "prove" their point (episode described by both Sen and Witzel). Not all revisionists are as crude but there still isn't an alternate compelling story on offer.

I, too, have to stand with Witzel and Namit on the "Aryan question," for all the reasons given by Namit, above. All evidence suggests that the people of the Vedic traditions most likely came from Central Asia, some 3k -3.5k years before the present, after the Harappan states had already declined.

I think it's useful to point out, too, that there's also nothing to suggest that many of the modern and long-standing Indian ideas and customs came from those Vedic people, the Aryans, and it's useful to not conflate Hindu or Indian culture and history with Vedic-Aryan culture. The gods who would become popular in the subcontinent, including Siva, Rama, and Krishna, do not originate in the Vedas. Likewise, there's nothing to suggest that the fundamental strands of philosophical thought, practices of meditation, and traditions of scholarship and writing came from the Aryans, either. All of these practices and beliefs are known in the subcontinent only long after the Aryans and the indigenous people co-mingled and fused. While the power structures in that fusion may have favored the Aryans, those nomads did not arrive in the subcontinent to find a blank slate, and it remains unclear which cultural ideas predate them and bubbled up from their majority subjects—or for that matter, came from elsewhere, too.

Interesting discussion.

Namit - I like your use of adjectives to give your color to the discussion. Subhash Kak is a "revisionist" and Weitzel's paper is "brilliant". At least dont be so blatant in your partisanship?

Usha: "The gods who would become popular in the subcontinent, including Siva, Rama, and Krishna, do not originate in the Vedas"

Oh really? Have you read the Vedas? Should I start citing the references here?? Vishnu, Brahma, Mahesh are everywhere. And just btw, there are shlokas in Upanishads (Chandogyopnishad) explaining who and how Krishna was taught the Vedas by Neminath (who later became one of the Jain Tirthankars). Let us not at least be facetious without adequate scholarship, please?

Now, about migration - the ONLY agnostic and detailed project of human migration that has been done is National Geographic - The migration INTO India happened in 40,000 BC. Are we talking of that? For any migration beyond that were OUT of India or smaller ones in and out of Indian subcontinent.

Now, migrations would happen both ways.. going in and coming out.. first to call it a certain name - Aryans is itself interesting... as if the different migrations into Indian region was decidedly of a monolithic set of people (smaller intrusion theory of Weitzel) - if the "intrusions" were over anything more than a 10 year period, I would find it hard to believe that the incoming people were ONE block.

-desh (drishtikone.com)

Another angle that I would like some discussion on with regards to this AIT - if "Aryan race" of North and "Dravidian race of South" are decidedly TWO different races - then the DNA evidence should clearly show that.. isn't it?

So, does it? Apparently not! See below. So any "historian" - however cute - can write pages and pages.. but to me that is as interesting as a Jeffrey Archer's fictional attempt, unless he/she can actually give some good scientific backup.

The haplogroup R1a1 (M17) is often linked with the ancient Kurgan (Yamna - "ямная") culture and Proto-Indo-Europeans of Southern Russia/Ukraine, who supposedly migrated to Europe, Central Asia and India between 3000 and 1000 BC (Passarino et al. 2001; Quintana-Murci et al. 2001; Wells et al. 2001).

Alternatively, the high frequency of R1a1 found in several South Indian tribes including the Chenchu and the Badagas, together with a higher R1a1-associated STR diversity in India and Iran compared with Europe and Central Asia, has been taken as evidence for an origin of R1a1 (M17) in Southern or Western Asia (Kivisild 2003b). Stephen Oppenheimer believes that it is highly suggestive that India is the origin of the Eurasian mtDNA haplogroups which he calls the "Eurasian Eves". According to Oppenheimer it is highly probable that nearly all human maternal lineages in Europe (and similarly in East Asia) descended from only four mtDNA lines that originated in South Asia 50,000-10,000 years ago.

Desh, please read more clearly and respond more precisely. I said nothing about Vishnu, Brahma, or Mahesh. The Upanishads that speak of Krishna are not the Vedas. And Oppenheimer's research on mitochondrial Eves refers to human migrations that occurred tens of thousands of years ago; he doesn't pronounce on recent migrations, within the last ten thousand years. Intentionally or not, you are confounding facts and information to obfuscate the points—both mine and yours.

"I said nothing about Vishnu, Brahma, or Mahesh. The Upanishads that speak of Krishna are not the Vedas."

Thats precisely what I am saying. In the Hindu belief, Ram and Krishna have been no different from Vishnu. To pick two names and build your argument over it is nonsense! Rudra/Shiva is mentioned in Rig veda and hymns on him in others.

"The Upanishads that speak of Krishna are not the Vedas."

Who says so? Upanishads, theologically speaking, have been considered as extensions of the Vedas and go check out Chandogyapnishad.

If you have to argue at least dont be so facetious!

"And Oppenheimer's research on mitochondrial Eves refers to human migrations that occurred tens of thousands of years ago; he doesn't pronounce on recent migrations, within the last ten thousand years."

And again, that is precisely what I am saying.. then who talks about the recent migrations? What is the conclusive proof that the small migrations as Witzel says were indeed of ONE monolithic tribe which came and forced the Dravidians to go South? DNA research studies say the EXACT opposite!

So, Usha, why dont you read around a bit for a change?

Desh, take a deep breadth. The term "Vedic texts" is used by some (including you) to refer to a corpus of ancient Hindu scriptures composed across multiple centuries. The oldest layer is occupied by the four Vedas (or samhitas), and these are often referred to by others as "the Veda" (they document most closely the nature gods, social hierarchy, and rituals of the Aryans). The Upanishads were composed several hundred years later, and are markedly different in character. Ram and Krishna do not appear in the four Vedas (they are later inventions, modeled as the avatars of Vishnu). As for Siva's appearance, here is how he is described in the Rig Veda.

"...it is usually assumed that Siva has taken on the features of the Vedic Rudra. The alien god Rudra is indeed wild and dangerous, but he is also helpful and peaceful. At any rate, he is praised in only four hymns of the Rigveda [Indra stars in 289 hymns, Agni in 218, Soma 123, Usha 21, Vishnu 6], where he appears as a god of storm and rain, with a black belly and a red back, clad in fur, and as a god who must be begged not to kill the cattle or steal the children, and to leave the clans in peace. Instead, he is to stay by himself in his region, the north. But quite early, he is also appealed to as a helper, a healer, a protector of cattle (Pasupati), if his name is to be uttered at all. His double nature is also shown in the so-called Satarudriva hymn ("Hundred Names of Rudra"). Here, he runs around in the forest, clad in long hair; and there are many of him (which hints at evil spirits), but he is also identified with Agni and other predominantly benevolent deities.

"The danger of Rudra is mainly that he is a god of the Other and not integrated into the society of the Indo-Aryan tribes ... To what extent Siva's origins are to be found in Rudra is extremely unclear. The tendency to consider Śiva an ancient god is based on this identification, even though the facts that justify such a far-reaching assumption are meager." (—Hinduism: Past and Present, by Axel Michaels)

I doubt that the people who composed the Rig Veda would have recognized in the later Shiva their own god Rudra.

I have never implied or said that Ram and Krishna were mentioned in the Vedas. I have talked of Vishnu. In any case, Neminath actually gave the Ved-gyan to Krishna, as I said before, so quite obviously, Vedas were written before him.

Having said that, (and Krishna was taught by a Sam-Vedi - expert in Sam Ved), I do tend to believe that until Krishna's time only 3 Vedas were available. If you read Gita, Vedas have been mentioned numerous times, and everytime only 3 Vedas have been listed and specifically mentioned by name. Atharva Ved is not amongst them. So, this theory that Vedas were written before the Upanishads and many keep saying is also suspect in my eyes. By the time of Krishna, several of the Upanishads had already been done.

Well, for your one reference, I can also put forth many references by different "experts" but that doesn't prove anything.

Namit and Usha:

The two of you are unduly influenced by the arguments of Pseudo-Secular, Marxist Historians who worship Max Mueller in their spare time, when they are not deriding the cherished beliefs of the peace-loving Hindus.

Indian scriptures contain revealed truth. They even foreshadowed many modern developments. For example, the Pushpaka Vimana in the Ramayana anticipated the invention of the aeroplane by the Wright brothers. Similarly, a ballistic missile is nothing but the Vajra Astra used by Indra.

Also, Vedic Science benefits humanity greatly. For example, look to the work of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the inventor of levitation and the holder of the copyright on Transcendental Meditation. He came up with the unique idea that if a lot of people meditated together, it could influence governments and political leaders and cause world peace.

Today, luminaries like Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are carrying on in that glorious tradition. Baba Ramdev is inventing a whole new type of alternative medical system. Sri Sri is bringing joy to people through Pranayama. What can be more simple than breathing ? The very idea beggars belief.

Serious followers of Sanatana Dharma (eternal faith) cannot be shaken. Some of their beliefs are:

* Hindu civilization is more ancient than any civilization on the planet.
* The Vedas are older than anything known to humanity.
* They are definitely older than anything Western historians (or their Pseudo-Secular, Marxist, Mueller-worshipping Indian counterparts) can imagine.
* They are from a time earlier than 3500 BC. Probably earlier than Egyptian civilization. Probably way earlier.
* Aryans are indigenous to India.
* Migrations, if any, took place from India.
* The meaning of the Vedas is often hidden. They contain secret astronomical codes and many other secret things.
* The so-called evidence offered by so-called experts (all Western and Pseudo-Secular, Marxist, Mueller-worshipping historians) is suspect.
* There are NASA photographs that reveal a man-made bridge between India and Sri Lanka. This bridge was made by the Vanara Sena to help Rama conquer Lanka.
* The Taj Mahal is, in reality, a Hindu temple.

As Atal-ji and Advani-ji have said, these are matters of belief. How can a court or any one else rule on them ? How can you question them ?

If you just acknowledge all of these things and promise not to write provocative blog posts about them, we can settle this amicably and go home.

Jai Shri Ram !

vp: That's a terrific list! Add to it the Vedic folks' anticipation of quantum mechanics.

To be clear, you had said, "In the Hindu belief, Ram and Krishna have been no different from Vishnu", suggesting that a mention of Vishnu in the Vedas is the same as a mention of the other two. Good to hear that you implied no such thing.

You have now hinted at Krishna's historicity twice (both times in the context of being a student of the Jain teacher Neminath). I myself see Krishna as a mythic/literary figure (with both virtue and vice in his character), perhaps loosely inspired by one or more real humans. If you disagree, can you tell us when Krishna lived? Professor NS Rajaram (PhD Mathematics, Indiana University), for instance, believes that Krishna lived around 3102 BCE (more on this man here and here). What is your view?


What I have mentioned is a fact. In Chandogyapnishad a verse clearly mentions Krishna learning Vedas from Rishi Ghor Angiras (who later became Neminath).

What you are saying is your opinion.

Personally, and spiritually, I am not concerned about whether Krishna lived or didn't. For me, the message that resides in Gita - as I have understood - link - is very significant. He was far above and beyond his contemporaries and many I have read and contemplated upon.

Vivekananda once said about Krishna - that Krishna did not make Gita important.. rather Gita gave Krishna the sanctity.

The thoughts and the conclusions he draws in Gita are amazing in their ruthless honesty. If anyone ever believed in the eternal nature of Atma/Universal COnsciousness AND temporary nature of body could NOT have escaped from the conclusion of Krishna.. which was something that every Bhakti Yogi/Mystic missed completely. Like I usually say:

Jesus said: Thou shalt not kill
Krishna said: Thou CANNOT kill. (inherently telling Arjun that he was taking too much credit to himself)

If I look at the above mentioned assumption on soul and body which most mystics agreed with (actually swear by), then Krishna's assertion made most sense. But it requires a very Ruthlessly honest intellect to say such a thing.

Now, I dont care whether such intellect was a product of ten people (to me highly unlikely) or that of ONE person.. to me such honesty is what matters most. The cloak of Morality that most mystics go for when they talk of non-violence is nonsensical.. for Morality in my book is an arbitrary pole (relative to context/space/time as it is always) by which freedom of mankind has been leashed to. Its the greatest impediment in spiritual journey and so I couldnt care less for such Moral codes/principles/edicts.

In fact that is why Yoga Vasistha attracts me so much. When Vasistha tells Ram very early on - that Guru and God are irrelevant to your spiritual journey and.. only Purusharth (self effort) is important.. it is the ONLY time that I hear someone say something so honestly about this matter. It took Krishnamurti in our age to finally say that again.. and debunk the nonsense of Moralistic edicts and codes once more!

But Vasistha spoke on God/Guru not in the facetious manner as most atheists use this aversion to God.. but in its most profound use...

As regards the mention of Krishna and Ram in Vedas.. I have said that earlier as well that this was an inherently facetious remark from Usha to begin with. Its like saying there was no mention of Jesus in the Old Testament. Yeah right! However, if one looks at the belief of who Krishna is supposed to be, then Vishnu is a good enough surrogate... theologically speaking... so I merely wanted to set Usha's radar a bit in the right direction.

As far as the spiritual significance of Vishnu is concerned, Vasistha explains that brilliantly in Yoga Vasistha. After his assertion that God and Guru are useless.. as he goes on.. he tells the story of Prahlad to Ram 3/4ths of the way into the book... and mentions that Prahlad attained enlightenment "by the grace of Vishnu".

Just as you and I would pounce on this, Ram did it right away.. to which Vasistha then explains.. something to this effect "Vishnu is semantics. At that level of consciousness, Prahlad was no different from Vishnu consciousness. To say that he was Vishnu or Prahlad is just semantics". So, the way Vishnu and other "Gods" (including Shiva) have been interpreted in spiritual texts is of a state of consciousness. That alone is Vishnu's (and Shiva's) spiritual significance to me.

Of course, while explaining the origin of creation, Vasistha does imply that Vishnu (and Brahma and Shiva) were the first few manifestations of the original energy... and so would be fit for dissolution as well. Which essentially means, that if the original energy source was the "Perfection" or "God consciousness" then, Vishnu/Brahma/Mahesh were the first "Imperfections". Which I completely agree with.

Interestingly, Vasistha gives a summary of Gita - that he says Krishna would give in the "next Yuga".. which I found to be one of the best understanding of Gita by anyone. I usually run miles away from Interpretations and commentaries on Gita and other texts.. but this commentary (translater albeit) was good by me.

-desh (drishtikone.com)

Hi Namit.

You cannot rely solely or primarily on the arguments for migration made by Michael Witzel, or others who have similar views. You must also study the more constructive arguments made by scholars who oppose the notion of a migration, or argue for an emigration, and then compare how the respective arguments match up, topic by topic. Needless to say, someone who opposes a specific model of spread of Indo-European languages cannot be automatically stereotyped as a believer in '1,75,000 years old Rama' (sic). Neither are all Hindutva followers believers in such notions.

See The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture by Edwin Bryant for a useful, very comprehensive survey. (Bryant is a professor of Hinduism at Rutgers.) The more sensible objections to the "philological and linguistic evidence" for IA-immigration have been dealt with in some detail.

Incidentally, are you aware that Michael Witzel now holds that the Indus script was *not* a script, but a non-linguistic symbol system, i.e. the Indus culture was illiterate? See http://www.safarmer.com, the website of one Witzel's collaborators on this topic. The paper is titled The Collapse of the Indus-Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization. What is your take on that?

One more thing, Namit. You wanted citations for early use of Iron in India, specifically, the Chota Nagpur plateau:

The origins of iron-working in India: new evidence from the Central Ganga Plain and the Eastern Vindhyas

There are further references in the article, especially to papers by D K Chakrabarti, an archaeologist (at Cambridge) who has worked on the early use of iron in inner India.

I admit I am i. not an expert in this field, and nor ii. have studied all available evidence in detail. But I do feel that at least some of the opposition to the views of Witzel et al is cogent and worth taking seriously.

I realize that there is a range of sophistication among the opponents of the Aryan migration theory. I recently spotted the Edwin Bryant book you mention. Curiously, it carries an endorsement from Witzel and has also won applause from many Out-of-India theorists. That's got to be a rare feat for a survey book and worth checking out for that reason alone. I'm acquiring it and might report my findings here in due course. However, this sharp review by Stephanie W. Jamison is not a great plug for the book, to put it mildly. She has also commented on the more "sensible objections to the "philological and linguistic evidence"".

Yes, I'm aware of the thesis by Farmer/Sproat/Witzel that Harappan inscriptions do not represent a linguistic script. They make a good case, and their thesis will remain plausible until falsified (here is a critique by Asko Parpola). I admit that for me the urban life of Harappans is harder to imagine without writing (but not impossible--the Inca had no linguistic script either). The bottomline for me is: I'm interested in but not invested in any specific outcome.

Hi Namit.

Actually, the review by Stephanie Jamison is not of the book I mentioned. She has reviewed "The Indo-Aryan Controversy : Evidence and Inference in Indian History", a collection of articles for- and against, and neutral towards OIT-like ideas.

Equating opposition to a specific model of Indo-European dispersion to 'creation science' is a priori on the wrong track. No model of IE dispersion is remotely as well-supported as natural evolution.

Even if you *exclude* India from the list of possible origins of the IE-speakers, the fact remains that there are (to my knowledge) at least three academically reputable models for the origins of IE-dispersal :

- The 'Kurgan' hypothesis, with a (rough) Ukraine homeland
- Johanna Nichols' Bactria-Sogdiana hypothesis
- Gramkelidze and Ivanov's Armenian hypothesis

In addition, Witzel has hinted at just east of the Urals as the IE homeland, so that's yet another remote region for the IE-homeland.

Therefore, there is hardly any consensus on where the IE home was, even if it was outside India. It is worth noting, though, that Bactria is right next-door to India.

In this case, as Bryant's 'Quest' book makes clear, it has been effectively argued that on criteria used to support the other homelands, India cannot be definitely *excluded* from the status of the IE homeland. So the issue is a (very) complex and open one.

Ultimately, there is so far one can go by reading various positions and analysis of this issue. If one wants deeper understanding, there is no option but to learn some of the sciences (comparative and historical linguistics, sanskrit etc) used in this field, as well familiarize oneself with the requisite data - Vedic texts, other elements of early Indian and IE-history, the archaeological data and so on.

PS - Farmer et al go even further : they claim that the Indus symbols were *not even* capable of representing the quipu-type mnemonic systems the Inca did use. And they offer no plausible suggestion for any alternative mnemonic-like administrative tools that might have been used in the Indus Civ cities. In fact, they even deny the existence of bureaucratic organization comparable to coeval Middle-Eastern civilizations.

At one point in their paper, they claim that the regularities in the Indus inscriptions do not necessarily imply that it was a script. Specifically, they say, the 'directionality' (~90% right to left on the imprint), might be simply a by-product of workshop habits.

Now something funny occurred to me : the Indus sites are located in a massive area all the way from eastern Iran to western U.P., and from north of Afghanistan down to Maharashtra.

What, then, is the chance that the seal-makers in this *vast* area spontaneously developed and followed, non-stop for almost *600+* years, virtually identical "workshop habits" for direction of inscription, without there being *some* meaning to it ?

PPS - I see I might have misinterpreted your comment about Jamison's review not being a great plug for the 'Quest' book by Bryant. Possibly, you meant that her negative review of the OIT-proponents positions as given in "The Indo-Aryan Controversy.." makes for a poor plug for the other book that, after all, is evaluating the cogency of OIT-positions against the evidence.

Still, the 'Quest' book is all by Bryant and its worth will become immediately clear upon reading a couple of chapters. Plus, Bryant tracks the dialectic of the debate in far greater detail than just "OIT vs AIT" style. For instance, in several cases, he notes that the evidence adducted by a migration-advocate is actually controverted by someone wholly unrelated to the OIT, e.g. in case of the the linguistic substrate in Vedic texts being Dravidian vs Munda, or even partly Indo-Aryan developments.

Definitely worth reading in detail.

Usha and Desh,

This is what Rig Veda has to say about Shishna(phallus) Deva.

From the discussion at Orkut:

Rgveda VII-21.5 ... last two pAdas:

स श॑र्धद॒र्यो विषु॑णस्य ज॒न्तोर्मा शि॒श्नदे॑वा॒ अपि॑ गुरृ॒तं नः॑ ॥

sá shardhád aryó víSuNasya jantór mÁ shishnádevA ápi gur RtáM naH.

Griffith rendered it into English as:
Let our true God subdue the hostile rabble: let not the lewd approach our holy worship.

I'd translate it as:
Let him defy the various hostile people. Let the phallus-worshippers also not go to our "Rtá".

What Griffith put as "lewd" and I put as "phallus-worshipper" is "shishná-deva" in the original. We have "shishna = phallus". What surprises me is that the concept of "phallus worship" was known at that period.

The point is Rig Veda prohibits lingam worship. Lingam or the god shiva was accepted later.

As you rightly note, scholars have competing "academically reputable" theories on the original homeland of Indo-European (IE) languages (add Anatolia to your list). But none of them point to the Indian subcontinent (Bactria lies in greater Iran). You say that India cannot be positively ruled out—Is that an adequate basis for talking up India as the homeland of IE? This is where similarities with Intelligent Design (ID) folks come in—since God cannot be ruled out by science, elaborate theories can be made up about his role in the world. Again, there is a range of sophistication among believers too. But we don't consider any of it scientific discourse. The name for it is still religion.

Really, what is this absurd obsession with India being the homeland of IE that so many Hindu scholars have? What insecurities inform this view? Going beyond the claim that "India cannot be *definitely* excluded", is there actually a basis for saying India *should be* included as a candidate and then making a cogent case for it? Is that too much to ask? This is what I haven't found so far and will look for in Bryant's book.

Regarding Farmer et all's point about the regularities in the "script", you selected a too-narrow fragment of the argument he is making in footnote #5 on page 21. In any case, I'm not at all perturbed by their thesis on the Indus "script". It is cogently argued, and more importantly, it is subject to rebuttal and falsification. With evidence and reasoning (like the point you made about workshops), it will either remain or fall away. I see their approach as a part of the scientific method. Nor do I see the specter of Orientalist scholarship here.

Hi Namit.

From my posting earlier : "it has been effectively argued that on criteria used to support the other homelands, India cannot be definitely *excluded* from the status of the IE homeland."

My point with 'India cannot be ruled out' etc. was that, as you will certainly gather from the Bryant book, India is a viable possible IE homeland *within the framework of evidence and inference that informs the IE-origins quest*. There are purely scientific reasons people might have for believing in India as the IE homeland, though the evidence for any specific homeland located within a certain large area so far appears to be inconclusive.


"You say that India cannot be positively ruled out—Is that an adequate basis for talking up India as the homeland of IE? This is where similarities with Intelligent Design (ID) folks come in—since God cannot be ruled out by science, elaborate theories can be made up about his role in the world."

There is no similarity. The argument (mine, Bryant's and other's) is precisely that science *can* potentially rule out any specific homeland proposal and *has* ruled out large areas of the globe, but the evidence so far does not rule out India (nor the large area descibed earlier), as it -does- rule out, say B G Tilak's north pole, and, say, sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, Indian-Urheimat scholars have to accept possible evidence completely against their views, such as Indus Script encoding Para-Munda, or Burushaski.

"Going beyond the claim that "India cannot be *definitely* excluded", is there actually a basis for saying India *should be* included as a candidate and then making a cogent case for it?"

As described above, yes. That's the crux of Bryant's book.

You might also want to look at the responses to Farmer et al's case made by Asko Parpola, available here.

I couldn't open your Parpola link. In my comment on 4th Aug, I had added a response by Parpola (who is pro-IA-migration) to Farmer et al. See Farmer's response to him in the following discussion threads: one, two, three, four.

I wonder what the modern elites in Anatolia, Bactria, Ukraine, and Armenia think of their countries being the IE homeland. Here is a fun idea for a comparative study spanning their countries and India: Compute the B/P ratio where,

B: the strength of Belief among a country's educated elite (esp. its diaspora) that their country is the IE homeland
P: the "academically reputable" Probability of their country actually being the IE homeland

As I see it, the B/P ratio for Indians would be off-the-charts (and what to me makes them similar to the ID folks).

I suspect I am starting to repeat myself. I'm going to look for a scientifically credible case for India being the home of IE in Bryant's book (i.e., for a stronger case than "it can't be definitely excluded") and see what I find. Meanwhile, thanks for engaging in a civil discussion.

I'm almost half way through Bryant's book and I'm happy to report that it is a keeper. Bryant not only has a sophisticated sense of history, his synthesis and exposition of a vast range of subject matter—covering 19th-century historiography in Europe and India, Vedic philology, Avestan studies, historical Indo-European linguistics, South Asian and Central Asian linguistics and archaeology, astronomy, Hindu nationalism, postcolonial studies, etc.—is a remarkable achievement. I'm certainly learning a lot.

If I get time I might do a proper review but for now, I wish to draw out an excerpt from his Introduction, which I think has direct relevance to the discussion here (I'd also like to soften my "rock solid" claim in my second response to banerjee):

Perhaps this is an opportune moment to reveal my own present position on the Indo-European problem. I am one of a long list of people who do not believe that the available data are sufficient to establish anything very conclusive about an Indo-European homeland, culture, or people ...

... I differ from most Western scholars in that I find myself hard pressed to absolutely eliminate the possibility that the eastern part of this region could be one possible candidate among several, albeit not a particularly convincing one, provided this area is delimited by Southeast Central Asia, Afghanistan, present day Pakistan, and the northwest of the subcontinent (rather than the Indian subcontinent proper). I hasten to stress that it is not that the evidence favors this area as a possible homeland—on the contrary, there has been almost no convincing evidence brought forward in support of a homeland this far east. As we shall see, the issue is that problems arise when one tries to prove that the Indo-Aryans were intrusive into this area from an outside homeland. In other words, one has almost no grounds to argue for a South Asian Indo-European homeland from where the other speakers of the Indo-European language departed, but one can argue that much of the evidence brought forward to document their entrance into the subcontinent is problematic. These are two separate, and obviously overlapping, issues. [emphasis mine]

Coupled with the problems that have been raised against all homeland candidates, these issues have caused me to conclude that, in the absence of radically new evidence, or approaches to the presently available evidence, theories on the homeland of the Indo-European speaking peoples will never be convincingly proven to the satisfaction of even a majority of scholars. This skepticism especially applies to the theories of some Indian scholars who have attempted to promote India as a Homeland. I know of no unproblematic means of re-creating a convincing history of the Indo-Aryan speakers prior to the earliest proto-historic period, at which time they were very much situated in the Northwest of the subcontinent (as, of course, were other Indo-European speakers elsewhere) ... [emphasis mine]

The level of this discussion is better then it was in the past; more scientific arguments, less nationalistic/racist propaganda.

Elst and Talageri propose Uttar Pradesh as the home of aryans (purus) based on samhitas-Vedas; and their conflict with dasyas (iranians) which acording to Avesta have their home in Kasmir, Punjab and later in eastern Afganistan. The migration of aryans (Puru) is from Uttar Pradesh to Punjab (east to west) and also being in conflict with people from today Bihar.

I have studied the question of the origin of the Indo-Europeans for quite some time and I agree that it is time to get rid of the Aryan Invasion theory. Recent DNA work in northern India indicates that the people living there, who speak IE based languages have been residing in the region at least 25,000 years. To me, that fact indicates an outward movement of peoples. The similarities between Vedic, Mitannian and Hittite deities is astounding. I truly believe the IE people originated in India and moved outward. For that matter, I would not be surprized if the IV Civ turns out to be older than Sumer.

Duane, thanks for the comment. Can you point to any substantial studies on "DNA work in northern India" to bolster your claim? The apparent conclusions of the usual study cited in such arguments have been widely disputed. I quote the following from an article by Raju Rajagopal:

Genetics to the Rescue?

Hindutva groups have made much of recent DNA evidence to legitimize their Aryan indigenity argument. One such study by Sahoo, et. al. had concluded that the genetic contribution of the west to Indian caste groups appears small -- contradicting earlier studies, based on paternally inherited Y-chromosomes, which had concluded that upper castes are significantly more similar to Europeans than are lower castes.

This much-vaunted study, however, did not explain some of its own possibly significant data, which, for instance, indicated that the ‘genetic distance’ of Eastern Europeans from ‘South Indian castes’ is three times that from ‘North Indian castes’ -- which seemed to echo earlier findings that upper castes in northern India were much closer to Central Asian populations than those in southern India. Instead, the researchers appeared to leap to a much broader conclusion, obviously pleasing to Hindutvadis: “[the data] argue against any major influx from regions north and west of India, of people associated with either with the development of agriculture or the spread of Indo-Aryan language family.”

Do such DNA studies exonerate opponents of Aryan ‘migrations’? Not by a long shot. As the leader of the research team himself conceded in interviews, the study only dealt with the low presence of western genes in Indian castes and that the Indian subcontinent may have acquired agricultural techniques and languages from the west: "The fact that Indo-European speakers are predominantly found in northern parts of the subcontinent may be because they were in direct contact with the Indo-European migrants, where they could have a stronger influence on the native populations to adopt their language and other cultural entities." This information, which seems to support what Prof. Jamison calls into-India language-migration theory, is obviously not something that Hindutvadis (who chafe at the very suggestion that Vedic culture and Sanskrit could have come from outside current-day India) are sharing widely with their constituencies.

In reality, genetic studies are in still in their infancy. Contradictory conclusions reached by research teams appear sometimes to be influenced by ideological considerations. There is no real ancient DNA material available at this point; and error bars in the studies, which use modern DNA, run into many thousands of years. If such studies disprove that the Aryan came from outside India, they could, with equal veracity, also ‘disprove’ the idea of Muslim invasions in the Middle Ages. It is therefore not surprising that a book covering the controversy in great detail did not give genetics any serious consideration.

On a less serious, but still relevant note : I was browsing the Oxford Introduction to the Proto-Indo European World (J P Mallory, OUP 2006), when I noticed that the PIE word for 'loins' is *londhu, (or *lendh), which became 'lumbus' in Latin, 'lendenu' in Old English, ljadveja in Russian and randhram in Sanskrit.

But if you know colloquial, street-level Hindi at all you're probably aware of a Hindi word very close in form and meaning to the PIE word above !!

There are more examples of this kind of retention of common words in colloqial usage in Indian IE languages in forms rather close to older IE forms than Sanskrit.For example, Sinhalese vaatura = water, a form that's not present in Sanskrit. Also, the PIE word for wheel is supposed to originate from a reduplication of the verb *kwel or *kwleu for 'turn', giving *kweklom or *kweklos, as in Greek kuklos, and retained in Sanskrit as cakra from reduplication of the verb root 'car' for wander, or drive. BUT, Sinhalese has the forms kaere- for turn and the form karakaeve- for wheel (and related notions like rotation) ! Sinhalese has not made 'k' into a 'c' (see note 5 on p. 315 of Edwin Bryant's book). This seems too interesting to ignore, even if I don't know Sinhalese, and am just looking-up material from dictionaries.

There are other factors to keep in mind : specialists in Munda languages have concluded that many of F B J Kuiper's supposed "para-Munda" substrate words in Vedic Sanskrit are not Munda at all, see Gregory Anderson at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Substratum_in_Vedic_Sanskrit#cite_note-18 . I wasn't able to obtain Anderson's volume on The Munda Languages.

More importantly, a number of Witzel's "substrate" words (in his 1999 paper on Substrate Languages in Old IA) have, even on simply casual examination, yielded purely IA or IE etymologies or cognates. For example : shaalmali/shalmali = shala ('spear' from Monier-Williams) + mali ('possessing (feminine)' from MW again), "possessing spears', a perfect etymology for the silk-cotton tree, which has large, broad spikes on its trunk. See http://www.saudicaves.com/mx/paradise/poch.jpg . The word 'sharvari' for 'spotted' or 'piebald' or 'variegated' or the 'hound of Yama' is also represented in Greek 'kerberos' as the hound of hell itself ! I noticed many similar problems with supposedly non-IE "substrate" words in that paper, but am running out of time for the present.

Don't know if you're still interested in this topic, and not, again, directly related to Indigenous Aryanism; but to the Indus Script issue. And just for the sake of note.

An attempted refutation of FSW2004 has appeared. See http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rao/ . The author is a CS professor at one of the top CS departments in the United States.

Steve Farmer et. al. have already started counter-polemics, and an attempted refutation-of-the-refutation.

Of course, the refutation-of-the-refutation's-refutation has appeared, challenging accusations in FSW's refutation. http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rao/

"To those who may have seen a supposed refutation of our results on the internet: (etc)"

Steve Farmer appears upset. A sample of his responses, here and related:

'The idiocy never ceases, and my cell phone keeps ringing with reporters on the other end of the line in Germany, Russia, India, etc.' ... 'One reporter who called me from Chennai suggested it would be too dangerous for him professionally to put in our end of the story' ... 'associated with I. Mahadevan and other Tamil writers.' ... 'The newspapers, blogs, etc., are going wild. '

Just keeping posted on the developments. We are in for some interesting times.

In fact, it's even quite likely that we'll see a major breakthrough soon.

Joseph, I remain interested in the topic but have nothing much to discuss at this point. Thanks for the links. For now, Farmer et al's refutation of Rajesh Rao et al's work seems pretty persuasive to me. I wasn't able to find Rao's response to it that you allude to.

Hi Namit,

It is absolutely astounding.

Prof Rao's response to Farmer's refutation has *disappeared* between a few hours back and now !

Events really are moving fast.

We should wait and watch.

Namit and others:

Did you all see this?

Ruchira, thanks for this journalistic piece by Brandon Keim on the claims by Rao at al that Joseph drew our attention to above, and to which Farmer at al have responded. But I can't take seriously any writer who opens with a sophomoric sentence like this (not to mention the title):

An ancient script that's defied generations of archaeologists has yielded some of its secrets to artificially intelligent computers.

The last I checked there were no artificially intelligent computers; the field of AI is moribund (I'll write about this in the near future). He then adds, "Some frustrated linguists thought the symbols were merely pretty pictures." What? "Frustrated" or not, this is not the contention of Farmer et al. Further down, he unilaterally embellishes the claims of Rao's research: "[Rao] may have solved the language-versus-symbol question, if not the script itself." Solved the script? This is bizarre, since he then quotes Parpola, an Indus script researcher, as saying, "it doesn't really further our understanding of the script." One very confused writer, if you ask me.

As distinct from the latest claims and counterclaims, Asko Parpola has contributed a fairly recent (2008) long paper addressing Farmer, Sproat and Witzel's thesis in detail. This is different from the newspaper quotes Farmer responded to earlier. This is also different from the 2005 paper available from Parpola's website.


FSW's main claim about lack of long inscriptions on durable material appears inconclusive by observing that Achaemenid Persians are said (by FSW themselves) to have introduced literacy into Gandhara (and subsequently the rest of India) but no long inscriptions of any kind are found throughout the maximum possible period of Achaemenid rule (520 BC - 326 BC) and later, till Ashoka's well-known inscriptions (c 260 BC). And those are the only long inscriptions, and were the result of a specific political decision. In their absence, we would have no long inscriptions in an already literate society.

I should add that prototypes of the seals (used in training, practice, reproduction and ~fresh~ conceptions of seal-art) and tools used to engrave them must have existed (in vast numbers) but seem to have left no massive remains. How do we know that materials similar to the prototypes/sketches of the seal art and tools similar to those used for engraving (elongated, sharp objects) were not used for making perishable records with longer inscriptions ??

FSW's claims of lack of evidence of perishable records would *appear* to exclude perishable records of ~any~ kind (else how do you know they weren't in the Indus symbols ?), but that is almost completely unbelievable. Apart from anything else, the plans of the cities, disposal of goods to various storehouses in the cities, the plans of the drains etc must have existed for the sake of initial construction, and later repairs/maintainence. How does a complex urban administration exist without perishable records of ~some~ kind ? And once you admit some perishable records, how do you know they weren't in the symbol system in question ??

FSW's claims about monumentality are also hard to digest. In their 2004 paper, they related lack of monumentality with their claimed lack of literacy. But monuments are not the sole prerogative of literate societies. Monuments like Stonehenge, kurgans, dolmens, megaliths, gravestones etc are found amongst non-literate peoples too (including very elaborate monuments amongst the Incas and the Aztecs). They also claim that the BMAC was illiterate (part of a 'no-script zone'). But the BMAC cities are described as having massive monumental architecture by archaeologists. Some fairly tortured definition of 'monument' is being followed.

Besides, it must be explained why the Indus symbols, even if nonlinguistic, are ~not~ found in long strings like FSW themselves point out kudurru symbols are found. Why ~not~ a gravestone with magic symbols in a circle on its periphery ?! We still have a seeming anomaly in place of another.

It must also be added that Linear B clay tablets have been recovered from *palaces that were burnt down* and where the tablets got baked. In this case, the lack of massive conflagrations in the Indus cities does reduce our chances of similar artefacts being recovered. This is especially significant, because most of the seal-imprints have been discovered from Lothal, ~precisely~ because there was a fire in the dockyard there.

FSW's point about the large number of singletons is itself problematic. First of all, there are 112 singletons (Mahadevan concordance). That means that only a *fraction* of all inscriptions carry them. More importantly, a *vast majority* (~80 %) of those singletons are combinations/modifications of existing symbols !! That does lessen the persuasiveness of the 'random symbols made up on the fly' idea.

FSW's point on symbol repetition within inscriptions can be countered by noting that symbol repetition is a by-product of the preicse type of phonetic encoding. 'E' in the english language is very frequent BUT if you form bigrams (be, ce, de, ge etc), the symbol-repetition frequency will drop a whole lot. In fact, one can ~select~ consonant-vowel (or other types of) combinations to minimize symbol repetition, and reduce the length of inscriptions, ie different symbols might contain common phonemes. Moreover, Farmer criticized Parpola's comment on this by stating they gave several examples of symbol-repetition (of a stereotyped, non-linguistic nature) ~but~ Parpola's point (see the paper) was precisely about symbol repetition of the type ~missed~ by FS & W. In other words, 'pseudo-random' type of symbol repetition ~does~ occur in places.

My conclusion is that FSW2004 does not stand except as an interesting 'maybe..' idea (there are other problems with their thesis). One can always come up with tortured counter-arguments to the above common-sense objections, but a new theory must hang together in a far more convincing fashion than theirs does to be acceptable. Their claims must be demonstrated with clarity and rigour comparable to that of a successful decipherment. The difficulties in decipherment or interpretation cannot be ad-hoc made into a principle that "proves" that there is no problem at all to be solved.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I might as well mention something else.

In a later paper (see below), Steve Farmer comments on a common motif on seals in four distant Harappan cities. This motif consists of a man in a spiny tree with a tiger underneath. He relates it to a 'Founder Myth' on basis of unprovided evidence.

(the paper is http://www.safarmer.com/indus/Harvard2004.pdf, page 35)

The motif matches almost exactly a narrative motif found in later Indian lore: a hunter was in a tree with a tiger below. Most of these stories relate that he dropped Bilva leaves below, and the tiger was converted into a Shivalinga by the next morning, and hence Lord Shiva's liking of Bilva leaves.

There are, of course, many variants of this story (deer instead of tiger etc), and I've found it simply by web-searches, but the parallel is still striking, in light of Farmer's dismissal of 'proto-Shiva' interpretations of some Indus seals. Incidentally, the Bilva tree does have sharp spines all over it.

Thanks, Joseph. I'm sympathetic to the idea that administration in the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was complex enough to warrant written records of some kind, perhaps on perishable media. I have been to Dholavira and Lothal myself so I have some sense of this. However, as we discussed earlier, the Inca Civilization had no script either. It had urban and religious centers, it was highly centralized and geographically far flung, with goods flowing across their empire of ~10 million people. So the argument that writing on perishable materials must have existed in IVC cannot be used to falsify FSW's theory. Just as difficulties in decipherment cannot "prove" FSW's theory, as you note.

Look, FSW have offered a plausible theory and a new approach after decades of dead-end research, and so there are now two competing theories. I have never suggested that FSW have prevailed, but this attempt by Rao et al seems to be a hack job. Eventually, after enough holes have been poked by both sides, one argument will wither away. I am only invested in the outcome, whatever it turns out to be.

I'm getting ready for an overseas trip but I'll look at Parpola's 2008 paper in due course. Thanks for the link.

The proto-Shiva bit seems to me a red herring in this discussion on the IVC script. Briefly though, I think it is plausible that proto-Shiva was indigenous (see my 23 July 08 comment). The people of the IVC did not suddenly perish, and clearly added their culture into the mix that emerged later. Farmer can be wrong on many claims about IVC but still be right about the script.

Quick one on the Inca Civilization : they certainly had the khipu to assist in their administration. We don't have ~any~ known equivalent of the khipu in the IVC, but we ~do~ have the Indus symbol system itself, and only that ! Empirical evidence forces us to admit the symbol-system itself as the likeliest equivalent of the 'khipu'. Of course, like I said, FSW's suggestion does stand as an interesting ~possibility~.

Have a good trip ! I'll probably have some more things to say later.


great discussion..! I'm tempted to post about it myself.

But see this link to a research paper about genetic analysis on this issue: http://www.pnas.org/content/103/4/843.full

"It is not necessary, based on the current evidence, to look beyond South Asia for the origins of the paternal heritage of the majority of Indians at the time of the onset of settled agriculture. The perennial concept of people, language, and agriculture arriving to India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny. Recent claims for a linkage of haplogroups J2, L, R1a, and R2 with a contemporaneous origin for the majority of the Indian castes' paternal lineages from outside the subcontinent are rejected, although our findings do support a local origin of haplogroups F* and H. Of the others, only J2 indicates an unambiguous recent external contribution, from West Asia rather than Central Asia. The current distributions of haplogroup frequencies are, with the exception of the O lineages, predominantly driven by geographical, rather than cultural determinants. Ironically, it is in the northeast of India, among the TB groups that there is clear-cut evidence for large-scale demic diffusion traceable by genes, culture, and language, but apparently not by agriculture."


See my comment above from Nov 26 last year, where I quoted Raju Rajagopal's response to this particular study.


Thanks for pointing to this very interesting article by Sahoo, et al. The authors, to their credit, make no specific claims about the migrations of the Indo-Aryans, as attested by their data; they stick very closely to analyzing their data and its directly logical significance. But, based on my understanding of it, the paper doesn't actually refute the general theory of an Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia. There are a few points that I think are worth noting (all quotes are from within the article in question):

• Interestingly, the authors do find, based on the distribution of Y-chromosomal markers throughout Asia, that "In the case of Northwest India, there is nothing to choose between two opposing scenarios: (i) the flow of Y chromosomes from Central Asia, and (ii) the flow of Y chromosomes in the opposite direction, to Central Asia from Northwest India." Or then, perhaps, that genes were exchanged in both directions. However, the authors suggest no time frame for when this sloshing of the gene pool took place. If these markers have been around in the South Asian population for more than four thousand years, then it doesn't really speak to the question of Indo-Aryan migrations into or out of the subcontinent.

• The authors state "... it was not possible to confirm any of the purported differentiations between the caste and tribal pools"; meaning, there's no significant genetic difference between the caste populations of North or South India and the tribal populations, as shown by Y-chromosomal markers. This finding demonstrates that "the Indo-Aryan migration scenario advocated in ref. 19 [which] rested on the suggestion that all Indian caste groups are similar to each other while being significantly different from the tribes" is not supported. But this is a very simplistic idea of the Aryan-migration story. So perhaps the authors have shot down one straw man: it would seem that the story of human migration and cultural diffusion through West, South, and Southeast Asia is far more complicated than proposed by those who try to simplify it. One hopes this is not a revolutionary idea.

• The authors conclude, "It is not necessary, based on the current evidence, to look beyond South Asia for the origins of the paternal heritage of the majority of Indians at the time of the onset of settled agriculture. The perennial concept of people, language, and agriculture arriving to India together through the northwest corridor does not hold up to close scrutiny." Now this point is extremely confusing to me in the context of the current discussion. For nowhere have I heard it suggested that the Indo-Aryan people are associated with the introduction of agriculture to South Asia. Indeed, quite the opposite. Agriculture existed in South Asia for at least two millennia before the Indo-Aryans (and the IE languages) are thought to have made their entrance, between 1,900 and 1,500 BCE. In fact, the Indo-Aryans were not agriculturalists, but nomadic pastoralists. They would only have learned agriculture from the people they encountered after they arrived in the northeastern region of the subcontinent. Indeed, the authors' conclusion here supports the Indo-Aryan migration theories, according to which the IE languages would have arrived separately, at a later date than the former.

The fact that the authors conflate the introduction of agriculture with the diffusion of IE languages and the caste system calls into question the ability of their methodology to examine questions that involve a time scale differentiation of only a few thousand years. Indeed, I've never before seen genetic evidence used to suggest theories or support conclusions that concern human migrations within the last 10,000 years, and I am not convinced of its utility to that end.

Finally, it bears repeating here that it is an error frequently made in considering questions of human migration and cultural diffusion to conflate genetic and cultural inheritance; it's quite possible for an outsider's language or culture or to become dominant in a region, while the outsiders themselves do not contribute heavily to the local gene pool; or vice versa, that an outsider population can be genetically absorbed into a local population even as their language and culture die out. Genes and culture are separate and can get quite far without each other. While it may (or may not) be generally be true that the two tend to go together, history is rife with examples in which they do not. Consider, for example, the case of the British empire, which carried its language and cultural ideas far across the globe. Nearly everywhere they went, many aspects of their culture took root and became dominant and/or syncretized, as did the English language, forever changing the cultures and developmental courses of peoples and civilizations in India and other far-flung corners of the globe. However, in nearly all the places they dominated, their genetic contribution is negligible.

Furthermore, if we are to determine the likelihood of Aryan in-migration based on its genetic footprint in the Indian subcontinent, isn't it then an equally relevant question for the rest of IE-speaking Europe? Regardless of where the languages originate from, if we assume that the languages come with certain Y-chromosomal markers, and the languages are spread across Central Asia, Western Asia, and Europe, shouldn't we then expect to see a similar genetic inheritance across these regions?

While none of this points to any kind of certainty about the origins of IE-speaker, it does engender a deeper sense of wonder. Whatever was going on with those Proto-Indo-European speakers in the last few thousand years, it was dynamic, complex, and dramatic. If only the dirt could speak....

I was surprised by the quality of discussion. However,

None of the participants adequately addressed hypotheses of Sarasvati being desiccated Ghaggar Hakra and that it dried in phases (c.3200 BC, c.2600 BC, c.1900 BC) causing "eastwards" (towards G-Y doab), west wards (towards Gandhara and beyond) and southwards (Narmada and Godavari Basin) population movements. Some of the outward movements of Indic tribes may be associated with this 'long stretched' event which runs counter to "significant' inward migration of 'remote' Aryans into the Indian subcontinent in the late Harappa period. This also pushes back Rgveda date beyond c.2000 BC (may be even beyond c.3000 BC), This could be labeled as Hindutva hypotheses; but is it an hoax as claimed by Witzel?

Also, one has to note that AIT (i=invasion, intrusion, immigration, inculcation or whatever) is steadily diluted and if one considers the alternative urheimats (Kurgan, Anatolia, south-central Asia etc) talks about IE being in the neolithic range then, there is not much opposition to 'continuum' or 'indigenous' theory which talks about only the periods (c.5000 BC — 800 BC) and see indigenous evolution of Indic cultures (whether they be Vedic, Dravidian or para-Munda) as we see in 'Common Era'.

I know very little about this discussion but Lekhni's question about how "we populated Africa" intrigues. Was she being facetious, or is there a such a theory? If the latter, please give me a clue.

Recent genetic studies have shown that there are many subtypes of the R1a1 haplogroup, which narrows the Indo-european ancestry even more.
Anyway, what is most striking in genetics is this:
a) that the subtypes found is Slavs are not found in other "Europeans" (Slavs are traditionally from the border between Europe and Asia), but are found among north Indians. One of our own Slovenian geneticists showed that the subtypes found in Slovenes are found only among Slavs and North Indians (if i remember correctly in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh)
b) among large populations, only most Slavs and North Indian upper and middle castes have a 40 percent or more paternal ancestries showing R1a1
The largest percentages are found in Southern Russians, followed by Ukrainians, Poles etc, so the more to the east, the more Indo-european ancestries
Even in language Slavic languages belong to Satem languages same like Sanskrit and we also still have the dual in Slovenian(from Proto-Slavic). The consistent use of the dual is typical of ancient Indo-europeans.

So, it's obvious to anyone that Indo-aryans were closely related to ancient Iranians and ancient Slavs.

But some linguistic influence of the Dravidian speakers are already seen in Sanskrit, but not in Proto-Slavic. So, it seems that Indo-Aryans were a branch of the Aryans, who already mingled or possibly already intermarried non-aryans. It seems their culture started in the north of Punjab and spread through North India.

But Aryans everywhere had only 3 classes which were not-inherited. So the 4th class - the shudras and the caste being inherited - this was probably influenced by dravidian leaders, who were mostly women it seems, again based on genetics.
First the Aryans dominated the top three castes, but eventually after intermixing, the separate origin was forgotten, that's why there are no castes with more than 75 percent paternal aryan ancestries. 3500 years of intermixing.

However if genetics is to be believed Aryans preceded all other language groups, and even from a modern linguist point of view Sanskrit seems by far the most developed language, so the Aryans were not only strong but probably the smartest people in the world at that time,as to produce such a language as Sanskrit very different parts of the brain have to be developped.

The explanation being that the aryans and sanskrit originated from India.

All Caucasions are not Aryans but majority of Aryans are Caucasions .That means a place from where the Caucasions originated will also be the place where the Aryans would have originated which makes India the birth place of Aryans.But you did raise an important point.Not all Caucasions can be termed as Aryan.The whites should be on the top of that list who should not call themselves as Aryans because they neither practise Aryan religion or culture which is Hinduism nor do they honour the original Aryan Language which is Sanskrit .Remember Aryans is primarily a cultural and linguistic term.It was never considered as a anthropological term.Thats purely a WNs invention.There is a Aryan culture/religion (Hinduism) a Aryan religion (Sanskrit).But there is nothing called a Aryan race.In racial terms they are identified as caucasions.But not all caucasions are Aryans since not all caucasians practise Hinduism and speak Sanskrit.

'Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, "abode of the Aryans") is the ancient name for northern and central India, where the culture of the Indo-Aryans was based.'

Only some middle eastern people call themselves as Aryans because they were the ones who were nearest to India and as such the impact of Indian cultural migrations would be more prounced in that areas than in distant Europe.

As for Genetics.The ancient R genetic marker did originate in India and spread into Europe.
That's how its understood at least now after the advent of modern genetics.People dont migrate from one place to another and re migrate to the same place again. There is only one origin of European genes and languages and that is India.

1. Aryan WAS an ethnic term, although more a combination of ethnic-linguistic-cultural patterns. That's how it is noted in its earliest use in Iran and Rig Vedic Aryans (when Indra/Thor/Perun) was still by far the main god of all Aryans. (You will notice that when a small group of Indo-Aryan warriors invaded Anatolia (modern Turkey) 3700 years ago (the Hittites) , the official gods became Indra, Varuna and Mitra, exactly the main gods of Rig Veda.)

Basically the main god of Aryans EVERYWHERE was the Raingod/Thundergod, language came from Proto-Indoeuropean (NOT Sanskrit, sanskrit already shows indian elements that Slavic DOES NOT!!!!! - Hence ancient Slavic language comes from an Indoeuropean language not influenced by any elements from Munda or Dravidian languages. So Sanskrit IS NOT THE ORIGINAL IE LANGUAGE, because linguistics as well as genetics disprove it. Tough luck!

"People dont migrate from one place to another and re migrate to the same place again"

If people came from Africa, how did Indo-Aryans come to India? Through Iran. Then how did Iranian Aryans end up in the place they lived previously??

"There is only one origin of European genes and languages and that is India."

The oldest R1a1 is found in Siberia 20.000 years ago. Aryans originated in similar environment as their closest relatives - R1b, the "Proto-Celts", the main lineage of western and some central europeans. This lineage is not found in India, so the original Aryans lived somewhere in Central Asia, near R1B, who later went towards Europe. R1a however seems to have spent the last ice age in Punjab and only later split into various groups who took the worship of the Thundergod and made it the main religion of the world at the time.

BTW, 1) in Hinduism only the upper 3 castes are Aryan
2) The word Aryan that described a particular tribe gradually started to mean Noble. Similarly in my language The word for noble has the word tribe as the root:))
3) And similarly like Indo-Aryans ancient Slovenians also had 3 classes originally, until coming to Slovenia, where the local christians became the 4th class. So our previous word for servant/slave (sans. - "dasa") was "krščenik" / "karschenik" - the baptised one:))

Until the german dasyus (christians) invaded and forced the Slavs to accept the middle-eastern traditions and under threat of killing everyone if they did not convert to so-called Christianity - AbRaham-Yehoshua religion. So the christians were much crueler than the Aryans:)

"Arya" was never an ethnic group, nor a "race" not even a class. Wake up people. Aryan invasion myth was a forgery made by Max Müller and the British empire to divide and subjugate the hindus. Wake up. Wake up. See with open eyes and clear heart. Witzel is a fascist. See with your own eyes and not with the eyes of others. Hear with your own ears. Get free from mental slavery. As a humans, we need only a little candle to wake up. Read this article from professor N. S. Rajaram:

A bit on the continuity of the Indus civilization. The study conducted by Italians not Indians (hopefully makes it more credible)


Forgot to Thank Usha for her detailed response to my comment. Such responses elevate the discussion tremendously..

To all the people debating:
I am clearly with witzel on the aryan question. Why? Not because that I belong to an upper caste Brahmin family from the. Or therm state of uttar Pradesh but because not a single linguistic or archeological evidence points out to a theory that suggests aryans went west. This is a clear garbage theory written down by half educated right politicians bent upon pressing the thesis that Hindus have been indigenous and it's the Muslims who were the invaders.

Look these invasions are a part of history. And I see no reason why the people of south should feel so inferior whenever the word aryan is spoken when the facts are clear. If you guys think that aryans destroyed Dravidian civilisations is because the dravidians were never a major military power let's face facts. It's because of faults by debauch kings that their kingdoms fell to invasions doesn't mean that truth be diverted just because of some politicians feeling inferior...

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