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February 21, 2010


I have studied the history of India, both at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at Lucknow University, but am still not certain where the Aryans originated. Central Asia is not specific enough. Also, did the Aryans import concepts for the Vedas or simply adapt them?

I agree with your point, but not sure if you also consider it likely that the Indo-European homeland could be in the Indian Subcontinent. I left this note on 3 Quarks Daily, which I think is worth emphasizing often, given the misinformed polemics around this issue:

It's good to keep an open mind about the homeland of the proto-Indo-European (IE) language and its speakers. You may know that there are competing theories among scholars (Kurgan hypothesis, Anatolian hypothesis, etc.)—all have major gaps, none can explain all of the data from various disciplines. But this does not mean that evidence exists for the IE homeland being in the Indian Subcontinent. If the latter is not a legitimate candidate based on data, then the IE language was brought in from elsewhere.

If you haven't read it, you may find profitable a book by Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. Bryant not only has a sophisticated sense of history, his synthesis and exposition of a vast range of topics—such as 19th-century historiography in Europe and India, Vedic philology, Avestan studies, historical Indo-European linguistics, South Asian and Central Asian linguistics and archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, postcolonial studies, Hindu nationalism, etc.—is a real achievement. He even evaluates the claim of Hindu chauvinists—that India is the IE homeland—without condescension and based on evidence. And one of his key conclusions is that though gaps exist in the current migration theories, "there has been almost no convincing evidence brought forward in support of a homeland this far east".

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Books by Namit Arora

  • “Namit Arora does for Silicon Valley what Tom Wolfe did for Wall Street in The Bonfire of the Vanities: with keen eye and sharp wit, he captures the culture and mores of the place. But Arora is funnier. And sweeter.” —S. Abbas Raza, Editor, 3QD.

  • The Lottery of Birth reveals Namit Arora to be one of our finest critics. In a raucous public sphere marked by blame and recrimination, these essays announce a bracing sensibility, as compassionate as it is curious, intelligent and nuanced.” —Pankaj Mishra

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