Monday, January 5, 2009

A great book about the Great Book

The new book by Shrikant Talageri, claiming to present “the final evidence” on the Indo-European Homeland question, goes a long way indeed in disproving the Aryan Invasion Theory and establishing India as the land of origin of the migrations that spread the Indo-European language family over half of the Eurasian continent, from Bengal to Portugal and from Lanka to Norway.

The kinship between the languages spoken by most Indians and by most Europeans, jointly known as the Indo-European (IE) language family, is usually explained through the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). The AIT holds that in the mid-second millennium BC, a group of immigrants brought the Indo-Aryan branch of IE from Russia through Central Asia into India and then imparted it to the natives. Alternatively, the Out-of-India Theory (OIT) holds that the common homeland of IE was in India, whence some groups emigrated to Central and West Asia and Europe, where their dialects mingled with local languages to become Greek, Slavic, Germanic, etc. Recent attempts to give a convincing formulation to the OIT and buttress it with evidence were still clumsy or fragmentary, but now, the OIT has come of age with Shrikant Talageri’s book: The Rigveda and the Avesta, the Final Evidence (Aditya Prakashan, Delhi).

In earlier books dated 1993 and 2000, Mumbai-based self-taught scholar Talageri (°1958) had already built a case for the following scenario. In the pre-Rigvedic age, a group of IE-speaking tribes populated the central and western Ganga plain and some of these migrated westward to the Saraswati basin in what is now Haryana and Rajasthan, and on to the Indus basin from Panjab to Afghanistan. By the time the earliest Vedic hymns were composed (tentatively dated to beyond 3000 BC), the westernmost tribes, known in Sanskrit sources as the Druhyus, were leaving the subcontinent, filling up Central Asia, thence to migrate to Anatolia, Xinjiang and Europe. The remaining peoples in the northwest, known as the Anavas, were mainly speakers of Iranian; while Indo-Aryan developed in central North India, whence it expanded westward into then-Iranian territory. Of the Indo-Aryan speakers, it is the Paurava tribe and within it the Bharata clan that produced the Rigveda. The friendly and hostile interactions between the Iranians and the Paurava Indo-Aryans form part of the historical background of the Rigveda and the Avesta. Among the conflicts, the main ones were the Battle of the Ten Kings, between the Bharata king Sudas and a confederacy of tribes in whose names we can still recognize Iranian ethnonyms; and the Varshagira Battle, to which both the younger part of the Rigveda and the earliest part of the Avesta refer. At the end of this confrontation, the Iranian centre moved to Afghanistan, those who remained in the subcontinent assimilated into Indo-Aryan.

In the present book, Talageri strengthens his thesis with a lot of new evidence, and refines it considerably. The master key for discerning historical expansions and migrations is the internal chronology of the Rg-Veda. Basing himself on two centuries of Western scholarship, from 19th-century German Veda scholar Oldenburg to present-day AIT champion Prof. Michael Witzel, Talageri compares the contents of the oldest layer, largely coinciding with books 6, 3 and 7; of the middle layer, books 2 and 4; and the youngest layer, comprising books 1, 5, 8, 9 and 10. Covering every verse and every instance of every category considered, and comparing the three periods, he finds a shifting focus in the names of animals, plants, rivers, landscape features, technology, ancestors, ethnic groups, and in personal name types and verse forms.

The result is of such clarity and consistency that most scholars who have been working in this field will feel envy and embarrassment at never having noticed the contours of the scenario before. It is this: the old layer was indubitably composed in the Yamuna/Sarawati region, which was to remain the centre of gravity of Vedic culture; the middle layer’s horizon expands westwards as far as the Indus; while the youngest parts are also familiar with Afghanistan. This is exactly the opposite of what the AIT predicts. In an invasionist scenario, the oldest layer would obviously be based in Afghanistan and be as yet unfamiliar with India’s interior, which would then only be settled in the younger period.

Another spectacular finding is that the early Avesta, involving Zarathustra, coincides in time with the youngest period of the Rigveda. The material and religious culture, along with the vocabulary and the name-types, allow us to link a number of datable extra-Indian connections to the youngest layer of the Rigveda. The remnants of Indo-Aryan vocabulary in the West-Asian Kassite (17th BC) and Mitanni (15th BC) culture, bequeathed by Indo-Aryan-speaking emigrant groups of at least several generations earlier, belong to the youngest period. This implies that the Rigveda must have been completed by ca. 2000 BC.

Another emigrant group is the one whose settlement has been dug up in Sintashta, on the eastern slopes of the Ural mountains in Russia. This is where the oldest horse-drawn chariots have been found, dated to ca. 2000 BC. The burials show a number of ritual features which Witzel has connected to the Rigveda in a bid to buttress his thesis that the Sintashta people were proto-Indo-Aryans on the way to India. But of each of these features, including the fabled horse sacrifice, Talageri shows that they are typical of the late period of the Rigveda, unattested in the older periods. So, more likely, the Sintashta people were part of a succession of small westward emigrations (small by India’s demographic standards but highly noticeable in the thinly-populated countries of settlement) around the end of the period of Rigvedic composition. This time seems to coincide with the end of the urban Harappan period, probably due to desiccation, when north-western India became less capable of supporting its dense population.

An Indo-Aryan presence in Russia was noticed by the ancient Greeks (e.g. the Sindoi in the Crimea) and remains visible in dozens of loanwords in the Uralic languages. The latter too have often been presented as testimony of the Indo-Aryans’ stay among the Uralic peoples while on their way to India. But from the unidirectional pattern of borrowing, with not a single Uralic loan in Indo-Aryan, Talageri shows that this is impossible. On the contrary, the pattern fits the opposite scenario: the Indo-Aryan loans in Uralic, like those in Mitanni-Hurrian and in Kassite, were the gift of emigrant groups from the Indo-Aryan heartland, which was India. Here, Talageri has made up for his lack of knowledge of the Uralic languages with a penetrating logical analysis of the relevant findings of other, AIT-bound scholars. Indeed, logic is where this non-specialist outshines all the specialists and manages to use their own data in support of conclusions opposite to the ones they profess.

Talageri argues that spoked-wheel chariots are not simply in evidence “in the Rigveda”, as the Orientalists have known since the 19th century, but are specifically typical of its youngest period. The older parts know of carts, generally with four full wheels, but the chariots with two spoked wheels are a later development. The archaeological record is pretty silent on their first appearance, for none have been dug up from reputedly Indo-Aryan or Indo-Iranian settlements in the Andronovo culture (Kazakhstan), the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex or India. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, especially in the case of largely wooden constructions in a hot and humid climate like India’s. From the late-Rigvedic testimony reasonably dated to the late 3rd millennium BC, it may be deduced that they were first produced on a sizable scale in India, whence groups of specialist craftsmen-warriors and other emigrants took them to western lands.

Talageri’s reconstruction of Vedic and Indo-European history is exclusively based on primary data and on findings by scholars working within the AIT framework. He never relies on the theses of other AIT sceptics. The latter’s findings on astro-chronology, archaeology and linguistics are generally compatible with his scenario extracted from the literary data, but they are independent witnesses, not part of Talageri’s evidence basis. Thus, in the book’s introduction the reader will notice traces of an ego clash between the author and Greek OIT scholar Nicholas Kazanas (whose collected papers on this subject are about to be published by Aditya Prakashan as well). While I hope at the personal level that they make up and become friends again, at the polemical level this quarrel is a fortunate thing. In contrast with the AIT school, a network of mutual support where we see R.S. Sharma and Romila Thapar relying on the “evidence” of Michael Witzel’s well-refuted assertion that the post-Vedic literature describes an Aryan invasion, the OIT school consists of isolated individuals who have no other support than from the data themselves.

It will be held against Talageri that he gets too personal in his argumentative jousting with Prof. Witzel, whose rebuttal of his own second book he now rebuts in turn. The objection that he is only paying Witzel back in the latter’s own coin could be a fair excuse in the playground but not on a scholarly forum. The allegations of academic malpractice even carry over to his rebuttal of a linguistic argument by the mild-mannered Prof. H.H. Hock, for which I can find no excuse at all. These breaches of form, along with eccentricities regarding referencing and emphasis, and along with “bank clerk” Talageri’s lack of academic status, are the flaws sure to be exploited against him by those who prefer not to address the formidable challenge posed by his cast-iron argumentation. On the other hand, the quality of Talageri’s work is such that this time, at least some established academics are bound to acknowledge its importance.

The book’s final chapter is a refreshing antidote of sanity against all the hot-headed political abuse that has disfigured the Aryan homeland debate in the last few decades. In Talageri’s opinion, nothing in particular follows from ancient history for contemporary ethnic and caste groups in India. Thus, today’s Yadava “caste”, actually a conglomerate of several cattle-raising castes, is not the physical progeny of the Vedic tribe of the same name. Brahmin clans like Bharadwaj or Bhargava who continue the names of Vedic seers may genuinely comprise the latter among their ancestry but have visibly been mixed with the local population of whichever Indian region where they settled.

Once the OIT gains acceptance, quite possibly some European roots-seekers might start identifying with the Druhyus as their linguistic ancestors and feel honour-bound to adopt the latter’s ancient bias against the Anavas and Pauravas, now turning it against the modern Iranians and Indians. But in fact, languages like Greek and Germanic comprise a very large substrate of pre-IE native vocabulary, and it is from those pre-IE natives that modern Europeans have inherited most of their genetic make-up, rather than from the IE-speaking “Druhyu” immigrants who largely managed to impart their language through a process of elite recruitment. (Why exactly the IE-speakers from the east were accepted as an elite by the European natives, remains to be understood.) The white Europeans are largely the linguistic but only minimally the physical progeny of the brown Aryans.

For most OIT authors, this rejection of the abuse of history for identity politics, which has already done so much harm to India (as in Tamil anti-Brahmin and “anti-Aryan” separatism), will be a matter of course. But they may not applaud Talageri’s related rejection of a very widespread Hindu bias regarding the Rigveda, viz. the belief that its battles are part of a struggle between good and evil, with the Vedic kings representing the good side. In fact, the Vedic king Sudas who won the Battle of the Ten Kings was a Paurava imperialist invading Anava territory, and the ten kings were legitimately defending their own territory against him. Sudas may have been the hero of the Rigveda’s 7th book, “but”, so Talageri warns, “he is not the hero of this book”.

To sum up, the Rigveda is not a God-given text exclusively dealing with cosmic stuff, where all names and data are merely symbolic pointers to some Great Beyond. No, they refer to real people and historical events, and nothing human is alien to this ancientmost collection of hymns. But this only increases the merits of the Rishis, the composers who praised the gods in their hymns. Obviously, without their testimony, Talageri’s reconstruction of early Indian and IE history would have been impossible. We might never have been able to locate the IE homeland. All the Orientalists, including Michael Witzel and the present writer, owe a debt of gratitude to Angiras, Vishvamitra, Vasistha and the other Vedic seers, and to their contemporary scion, Shrikant Talageri.


Incognito said...

Very good review.

A related question- What does dating of acheological findings indicate ?

Ajay S. said...

Great review,

Its the first time i've heard of OIT theory. Does ASI have any say or evidence that backs up or refutes this theory? It'll be interesting if archaeological evidence is found to match OIT.

Sunil Deepak said...

Really interesting post with lot of interesting ideas the turn upside down some of the things that are widely accepted. Thanks for your detailed analysis.

Kumar Narasimha said...


Thanks for a very insightful review.Has there been similar research about the origin of the word 'dravida', as the 'other' for Aryan? My question is that if Aryans are indigenous people who spread out of India, who are dravidians? Have they also spread out of India to other countries?

Koenraad Elst said...

About ASI evidence: there is no trace at all of an Aryan invasion. Traces of an "Aryan" (early IE) emigration would have to be found outside of India, which is outside the ASI's jurisdiction.

About "Dravida": India is a big place and it is perfectly possible that both IE and Drav originate in India. Alternatively, purported links with Uralic, Altaic and Elamite have been used as indications of a Central-Asian origin of Dravidian.

Desh Kapoor said...

Wonderful article! Here is something you may find interesting:

Most of my thoughts on Spirituality can be found here:

Look forward to reading more of your articles and learn from you..

Unknown said...

Great review and summary. I am currently reading his book. Having followed the debate on AIT vs OIT, I must say that his evidences are very compelling. I also have read cursory review of Witzel and am waiting for their comments on the book as well. Given the nature of the debate, I think we are going to see some diversionary arguments.

One thing to point out though -- That there is a vast amount of archeological evidences available from IVC/ISVC and given if we accept his chronology of Rigveda, what are the conclusions about Vedic and IVC/ISVC people? Do they represent one and same people? What can we say about the script yet to be deciphered?

Shankara said...

Dr. Elst. This is a book I intend to read and thanks for your review and insight, I am also planning to source his earlier work Rigveda. I am currently with N.S Rajaram' Sarasvati and Vedic Civilisation and a few years back completed Subhash Kak' ...cradle of civilisation. I am also reading your comments on Sitaram Goel India's (Hindu) only communalist.

Unknown said...

It is a very interesting line of investigation that Talageri pursues.

The whole argument hinges on the chronological order of the 10 mandalas - and Talageri has been consistently espousing his chronological order - both in his earlier book and this one - that the Mandalas are ordered as 6,3,7,4,2,5,8,9,10..1. If this order is accepted, there is no escape route for AIT. Even acceptance that {6,3,7,4,2 in any order} are older than {8,9,10,5,1} is match over for AIT.

For those who have followed this debate on internet, and have silently rooted for OIT, you will enjoy the thorough undressing of Witzel - in particular, refer to pages 115 - 129, where Talageri tracks Witzel's flip flops through the last couple of decades.

Talageri's arguments are very convincing. I wont wait for Witzel to answer the book - his credibility is down, the accused cannot be a judge.
The drawbacks of the book:
1. The very non-academic style of argumentation. Those who train their guns on this book will find it easy to focus on the style and get away.
2. The absolute chronology is not convincing, though plausible.

Whats next? I wish Witzel stays away from this debate now. I would like to see Hock, Bryant etc take a look the arguments and data.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Elst

I sent you an email requesting a citation on Hindu composition in the army pre 1940 and post 1940 [before and after Savarkar's intervention] Did you receive it?

Unknown said...

Kumar Narasimha said...

Thanks for a very insightful review.Has there been similar research about the origin of the word 'dravida', as the 'other' for Aryan? My question is that if Aryans are indigenous people who spread out of India, who are dravidians? Have they also spread out of India to other countries?

Koenraad Elst said...
About ASI evidence: there is no trace at all of an Aryan invasion. Traces of an "Aryan" (early IE) emigration would have to be found outside of India, which is outside the ASI's jurisdiction.

About "Dravida": India is a big place and it is perfectly possible that both IE and Drav originate in India. Alternatively, purported links with Uralic, Altaic and Elamite have been used as indications of a Central-Asian origin of Dravidian.

Mr. Narasimhan

First of all you have to appreciate that the term Aryan and Dravidian as separate classes of people was a mischivous creation by the supporters of the AIT. These words never denote any particular class or race of people. The word Arya only means a respectable person while Dravida always refers to a geographical area which is roughly south eastern Tamil Nadu today.

A real eye opener would be the original Valmiki Ramayana itself. While pleading with Kaikeyi, Dasharatha will say "Magadha, Dravida and a few other territories are under my control and I shall give them to Bharatha but leave Ayodhya to Ram."

Again when Hanuman is initially condemned to death after being captured, Vibheeshana will stand up and chide Ravan that it is an "un-aryan" thing to kill a messenger.

Again in Manu smrithi Manu explains that Chinas (chinese), Yavanas ( greeks) and Dravidas were all arya kshatriyas but due to ignoring Vedic rituals, they have become degraded.

I think these would show the real meaning of the words. There is no need to find the origin of the Aryans and Dravidians. They are all Indians of varying tribes.

karadi_the_bear said...

All the lavish praise nothwithstanding, this theory is still very hard to accept. A central premise of the quoted author (Talageri) seems to be that the first cut of evolution of the IE languages happened all within a small region in India and then they spread elsewhere. This is similar to the Biblical Noah's Ark theory. All the animals started from Noah boat, then giraffes moved to Africa, Tapirs to South America, Polar bears and Penguins to the ice caps, and so on... This theory is very creative, but the 'traditional' theories (with all their unanswered questions) attack common sense ideas about evolution and language development a lot less.

Giacomo Benedetti said...

Dear K. Elst,

thank you for this review. As an Indologist dealing with Rigveda and its chronology, I find interesting the theories of Talageri, which I read in his book about the Rigvedic history. My current conclusions about the absolute date of the hymns are quite different, since I put the end of the hymns in the middle of the II millennium B.C., but I place Sudas around the 1900 B.C. If you are interested to discuss this topic, please contact me.
About the westward movement of the Rigvedic people, it's convincing about the Rishis who composed the hymns and the culture related to them, but there are some problems about the archaeological data. Archaeologically, it has been recognized a movement of people and cultural features from west to east coming from the area of Mehrgarh to the Sarasvati in the IV mill. B.C. and from there to the Doab during the III mill. B.C. and particularly the II mill. B.C.
So, the opposite movement is not proved. Maybe there could be something in this sense outside India (for instance the Harappan city of Shortughai in Afghanistan), but not inside.
Besides that, there are many details in the 2000 book of Talageri which could be criticized, I am interested to read the new one to find how he has refined, as you say. Anyway, I have to thank you because your 'Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate' is the first book criticizing AIT I have read, and I had a real conversion!


Unknown said...

while the revised and more accurate interpretation of the rig vedic verses is welcome .... also interesting is that the date has been pushed back .... although i wonder if it still matches with the chronology of the puranas and ithihasas , which are fairly accurate about their talk of manvantaras and yugas .... for eg in the ramayana sri rama praises hanuman in terms of each of the four vedas ... the evidence of the rama setu places him around 1.7 million years ago .... if the vedas had been composed by then .... wht was the need to compose them again a few thousand years ago ? 2 cents ... we have not heard the truth or the last word on the chronology of our vaidika dharma the vedas .....

Venkatasubramanian said...

Dr Elst

I have a question. Are the Mystics of Arabia, Israel and Europe in general are a remnant of the immigrant Aryans who have clung to their traditions despite the semitic onslaught ?

This may explain the various underground mystic schools supposed to be existing according to Dan Brown in his book. Also, the Free masons are reportedly descendants of such mystic schools.

These groups are still subsisting because of their hatred of the sin calculators embedded into the semitic religions. They reportedly consider their tradition superior with emphasis on self enquiry and occult meditations. Lot of parallels there.


Unknown said...

Would it be possible to scientifically counter Dr.Wtzel on his axiom of finding Munda(Afroasiatic) "loan words" in Rg Veda by a study of such loan words in Avestan (Gathas) language?
This will strengthen Talageri's thesis of East to West movement of Indo Aryans further.
G.V.Subramaniam, Chennai, India

Unknown said...

Following an earlier blog today on your review of Talageri's Book, I seek to check with you some of my observstions on OIT theory.
There are several versions of Puranas and 'tansliterally reading them' they all say one thing common that Vaivasvata Manu, the progenator of the 10sons( Ikshvaku and others) and a Daughter Ila was originally a King of Dravida Desa, presentday Tamil Nadu/Andhra. The Matsya legend describes his escaping the flood. He is appearing near Ayodya subsequently. There is a temple at Manali to mark his landing after the Flood.
But, curiously,his early progeny expand to Punjab(Pururava of Three Agnis) and to Narmada(Mandhata and others) and not in Gangetic Plain as one might like to believe.
Was the Gangetic Plain hostile, slushy, poisonous? Till much later, Bhageeratha chooses to open up.
In this context two sets of info appealed to me.
One is , the recent Genetic studies reveal 50,000 year old Haplo Markers in some Tamil Nadu castes and 35000 year old Haplo Markers in Eastern UP and tapering off towards Punjab.
Second is Mt.Toba Explosion about 70000 years ago (Stephen Oppenheimer)
Would I be right in assuming that Manu was carried by a huge Tidal Bore up the Ganges?
Further Tsunami of this size leave the ground Saline and Hostile for several Generations.
I came across several Scientific Papers on Arsenic in ground depths in Bihar/Bengal ,and invariably they start with Mt.Toba Explosion as possible Source.
The Sagar Beaches in Bengal are famous from time immemorial where people offer Prayers to the dead and gone on Mahalaya (All Souls Day)
Please advise if I have any substance in the above observation to further butress Talageri's OIT theory with East to West movement of Aryans.

Unknown said...

A fantastic review - I am going to buy the book. I have been an avid reader of Shrikant Talageris' books. I have one quick question though - how does Ramayana & Mahabharata wars merge with chronology of Rig veda? Did they happen in different geography or separated in time? I have seen Ramayana to be dated around 5100 BC and Mahabharat around 3100 BC and if you it is suggested that the late Rig-veda is dated around 1900/2000 BC then there should be an overlap, right?

I will appreciate if you responded, Mr. Elst.

Unknown said...

Dear Dr.Elst,
Still awaiting your views on my comments dated 13th Oct '09 on taking into account the Toba Explosion "watershed" in the OIT hypothesis. Meanwhile my further study 'literally' of the Puranas indicate two distinct group of legends. One is post Vaivasvata Manu ( contemporary to Vaivasvata Yama, being mentioned as the son of the same father and important to Proto Iranians) AND the other,
namely the earlier period from Swayambu(Adhi)Manu to Caksusa Manu.This earlier period mentions common ancestors like Twashtar, Kasyapa and others ( common to Proto Iranians and to the clans of Vaivasvata).Is it fair to conclude that the Clans of Vaivasvata who escaped the flood through the mouth of Ganges from Dravida Desa met in battle with those (Proto Iranians) who remained near Saraswati Basin? Were these Proto Iranians pushed Westwards after defeat in that battle? This will explain the reversal of allegience (Asura vs Deva) as the out come of Battle of Ten Kings. Please note this seems to fit exactly with the map of movement of the homosapiens from Africa into India via Gujrat , tnto deep southern India and then on to Malaysia and Australia ( Bradshaw Foundation-Oppenheimer based on Genetic studies).What surprises me is Brigu of great importance to Avesta is traced to Brigukatcha(Broach) in Gujrat as per Indian legends.Further, the legend of Druva in the period of earlier Manus seem to coincide with the Shifting of the north pole 1,00,000 years ago. Can you comment if there would be any stuff in what I observe. G.V.Subramaniam

Balaji Ramasubramanian said...

Regarding Mr. Venkatasubramanian's question:

No, the semitic traditions of "mysticism" is very different from the Vedic tradition of yoga and self absorption. A lot of Hindus tend to think that the middle-eastern cultures have some yogic revelation from the divine based on the few words of morality found in their religion. But there is a huge gap between the two traditions.

The main premise of the Indian mystic traditions is to uproot the cause of suffering from the mind. They investigated the nature of the mind and the nature of suffering in its entirety. But the main premise of Abrahamic traditions was Yahweh and the command of Yahweh. There is no other basis for their existence at all.

All forms of religion must have begun with some form of worship of the forces of nature. This must have been the case across all cultures. But the unique feature of Abrahamic religions was that of mentally deranged people (who behave in strange ways with a religious tag) that take on the role of prophets. Dr. Somers and even Dr. Elst have written in great detail about the psychology of prophetism.

Among the prophets of the middle-east, there were the Yahweh-only prophets that rejected the authority of the other prophets that claimed to be a medium to all the different gods. As the Yahweh-only notion gained strength, "mystics" (who were just paranoid people with huge egos) started preaching different things to the people.

As Dr. Elst notes in his book, it is queer that there is hardly any mention of the ordinary pious individual and instead only the strange behaviour of people is noted in the Bible or even the Quran.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Origin of the word "aryan":

Max Mueller

Origin of the word "dravidian":

Robert Caldwell

Unknown said...

I would really like to thank Koenraad Elst for his insightful comments on the essentials of the work of Shrikant Talageri and explanation of how S.T. came to conclusions that were exactly opposite to AIT but using the very same facts. I did try to get a hard copy of the book from bookstores in Bangalore but was not successful.
(Subhajit Sen,DAIICT,Gandhinagar)

Unknown said...

definitely this book reflects a new vision & if true will settle the mystry to an end

Anonymous said...

wait because you left me a little confuse with this, a book that talk about another great book? wow a blind guide another blind, while get Generic Cialis and the other need treatments.

Krishna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krishna said...

Dear Dr. Elst

Sir, thank you for an informative and insightful review. I have long been an admirer of yourself and Mr. Talageri.

Regarding "Good" vs. "Evil" in the Rig-Veda:
I would tend to be sympathetic to Mr. Talageri's view that the battles referred to are historical events and no "spiritual" (a much abused word) meaning is intended.

Mr. Talageri is scheduled to give a talk about the AIT/OIT this week Thursday the 19th here at IIT Bombay. We are looking forward to it!

Yours sincerely
Krishnamoorthy Iyer.

Krishna said...

Dear Dr. Elst

Mr. Talageri spoke today on the AIT. His talk was extremely well-received. The quantity of technical material he covered and the cogency of his arguments were most impressive.

The job of demolition (of the AIT) completed, we are now looking forward to the task of construction (of the OIT) next week Friday.

Krishnamoorthy Iyer

aronite said...

Regarding repeated rising of question of Archeolgy- most people dont realise that the entire Indus Valley complex Harrapan etc was the largest Urban settlement complex spanning a vast area. Of this huge landscape and the remains that now we know from Afpak to Gujarat, even harrapa has been excavated merely 2 % of the entire ruins. The script is yet to be deciphered. Sites are yet to be dug up and studied.They havent even skimmed the tip of the iceberg. The AIT again is prefabricated standing upon Linguistics of late nineteenth centruy and has colored the whole subsequent finds. Literary and Archeological connects will need an entire army of dedicated scholars and funding which again is wieghed down by the psychopathological phobia which was the very aim of AIT regarding native research. So we have incomplete but startling works that stand like Bed Dwarka and Talageris' awaiting a more unbiased and bold support system.I would suggest that International Independant bodies be created with overseas Hindu sponsors and VHP etc to first start an University and launch independant and private research including archeological expeditions. This is more important than rebuilding the Ram Temple, since this will liberate not just Ram Janmabhumi but Ram's Bhumi that is Hindu India.

Sharadchandra said...

I’ve n o linguistics background.
I agree that it’s unfair to magnify conflicts (in veds) into an Invasion Theory (AIT). But the Sangh Parivar is a party to hot-headed political abuse that has disfigured the Aryan homeland debate. Claims (like Aryan invasion theory is a European myth) are politically motivated. Sangh Parivar has an axe to grind for the sake of a monolithic vote bank -& power. The issue is important as all (incl Aryan) identities are being stifled in the name of `patriotism' (I skip anti-Brahmin campaign. We have separatism. And “anti-Aryan” is a handy excuse.) Our culture evolved in a multipolar society & isn't the outcome of binary Aryan- Dravid conflict. The North is close to Urdu & ‘Dravidians’ to Sanskrit. Those who denigrate Max Mueller play integration politics by dubbing him a British agent.
The master key for discerning historical expansions and migrations (the internal chronology of the Rg-Veda) is unduly stressed by Elst. Why bank on this hinge? Progressive liberal genuinely Secular (saffron) shun (Aryan) ethnicity & ease out archeology. OIT goes against the ‘fact that for past 6000-8000 year India never invaded any foreign land’.
We’ve to compare commonality between Sanskrit with German & -with neighboring slavic languages & to explain these.

1 Social similarity with Germany.

2 References to beef eating, somras in the Vedas which were later shunned

3 Importance of fire in Vedic culture (e.g. yajna, agnihotra/i. .) see

4 The Yam Yami tale as a part of OUR folklore

. 5 The name Martand

. Surely India includes Dravidians, Huns, Scythians. Greeks... none of whom (foreigners) is ostracized. Why are Aryans singled out?......... .....IMHO, Aryans are a (small) component of India.
A small band (gypsies) is ok. OIT implies that Aryans constantly streamed across forbidding mountains (of India) to populate all Europe Why did Aryans alone move opposite to the other (invaders)? Persecution? By whom?
Greedy move opposite to the other (invaders)? Others invaded because historically the tropics were wealthy.
Were these (greedy) so ridiculous. as to run away from wealth?
To me there was no Aryan invasion, there was migration/exodus before they settled in India- some conflict is not unexpected, Beef/somras in veds relate to the (Caucasian...) environment better. Low precipitation regions don't permit water intensive (grain etc.) Their ability to support people (on costly non veg) is poor. Thus as population grew peripheral tribes were forced (out) to migrate ....some refer to 'invasion'.
Iran is said to've come from Aryaan was merely a transition land. They had no reason to go back to cold Europe or harsh middle east. They were happy in fertile India.

paras said...

It's true that a lot of white Indologists in 19th C. were motivated by white supremacist view and therefore supported AIT. But if we support OIT, how do we explain light skinned cuacasoid population of India, Iran, central Asian countries( previously an extension of Iranian culture, later influenced by Turkic culture ), Turkey. If we believe that Aryans were brown skinned then there ought to be an earlier migration which populated these regions with light skinned caucasoid people and Aryans later came to dominate them. But then unlike Europe, these regions have no non-IE light skinned caucasoid population. The presence of light skinned caucasoid population in these Asian regions could only be explained by IE expansion. This makes IE people, and therefore Aryans, light skinned cuacasoid. If IE people originated in India they couldn't be light skinned type, since light skin is a result of northern climate.

As far as I am concerned, as an Indian and Hindu, I don't put too much emphasis on from where the ancestors of Aryans came to India. The Rigveda was composed in India and that's the start of Aryan civilization which lives on genetically and culturally in Hindus.

Jijith said...

On the question of historicity of Rigveda with Mahabharata and Ramayana: This is already settled as archeo astronomy put Rama at around 5100 BC and Krishna and Kurukshetra war around 3100 BC. Vyasa who authored Mbh lived contemporary to Krishna. His great grandfather Vasistha contributed hymns to Rigveda. Vyasa lineage of Sages who had the profession of compiling Vedas extended till 2000 BC. An alternate analysis not based on archeo astronimy date Rama to around 3300 BC which tallys with this Rigvedic chronology even better. Ofcourse the popular RSS view that Rama is dated to some 1.7 million years ago is plain wrong.

Jijith said...

On Vaivasvata Manu and his Dravida:- It is true that the location of Dravida as per epics and Puranas is in what is currently southern Andhra pradesh and northern Tamilnadu. But that was not their original location or the only location. Their more probable homeland is in the western shores of peninsular india that is now submerged and stretched from south of Dvaraka in Gujarat to west and south of Kerala. When this landmass submerged at the start of Holocene 9500 BC, they migrated upstream Sarasvati from Dvaraka to Himalaya and established themslves in the foothills of Himalayas where today Satlaj, Yamuna and Ganga descend to plains. This is the great flood event of Manu. The flood also caused submergence of eastern shores of peninsular India and the Ikshwakus, descended from Manu's Dravida living there migrated from south to north to what later became Ayodhya in the reverse route Rama took to travel south into Lanka. This tallys Talageri's finding of IE homeland in West and Central Gangatic plain.

Jijith said...

The epics and puranas have two sets of data on the greater migration of people from India. One is the Aditya-Daitya-Danava triple division. Another is the Puru-Anu-Drahyu-Turvasu-Yadu five fold division. Talageri has addressed the second division and left the first division open in his first book, Rigveda, a historical analysis. I am yet to read his second book on Rigveda and Avesta. Could the first division be the first wave of OIT migration and the second division, the second wave of migration? Or is the two sets referring to the same migration pattern?

Mahabharata mentions many battles between Daitya-Danavas (Asuras) and Adityas (Devas) in Kurukshetra and the Asuras fled to the west of Sarasvati. There are plenty of references of Daitya Danavas living on the bank of Sarasvati, a river which was also known by the name Asuri.

Jijith said...

We should also pay attention to the names of sages. Vasistha is not just the name of a single rishi but a family name applied to many individuals. Sometimes, Vaasistha, meaning one belonging to the Vasistha family often get truncated to just Vasistha and thus several sages who lived at different times at different locatiins, all get addressed by the name Vasistha. Thus Vasistha among the Saptarshis need not be the same as the Vasistha who was the Guru of Rama and Vyasa's great grandfather could be a different Vasistha. Same applies to names like Agastya, Vishvamitra, Bhrigu, Bharadwaja, Gautama and Vyasa. They can refer to a single individual or multiple individuals lived at different place different time but belonging to an ascetic family due to genetic or ideological kinship. This also gives the illusion that these sages lived for several hundreds of years. For example , Elst is a surname and many individuals bear that surname. Hypothetically, in future assume another Elst became famous as an astronaut say in 2100 CE and another became an explorer of stars, say in 2300 CE. After some 1000 years from now, say in 3100 mythology may arise in which Elst is considered as a single individual who lived more than 400 years working as an indologist, astrobaut and stellar explorer all the same !

Jijith said...

Apart from the waves of migration to west detected by Talageri in Rigveda, two more western migrations from the Aila-Puru-Bharata-Kuru lineage. One by the brother of Santanu who migrated westward to become king of Bahlika (west, north west of Kuru jangala) along the Uttarapatha route. Another is the settlement of Pandavas under Yudhisthira to the west of Hastinapura, crossing Yamuna in the Kurujangala. This reveals that one of the trigger for migration is rivalry between descendants of a king, all of them seeking soverignity. Rama's brother Bharata too went west from Ayodhya to Gandhara establishing Takshasila and Pushkalavati there. His another brother Satrughna went west to establish himself in Mathura. In all these cases the home kingdom lies in the east and territorial expansion is to the west.

Jijith said...

Where in Mumbai does Talageri live? Any way I can contact him? Email? Phone?

Jijith said...

Dravida means those who have fled - fled due to formidable natural calamities like tsunami, flood earth quake etc or fled from battle. I tend to belive that they fled from formidable natural calamities that led them from south indian peninsular shores to Sarasvati to Himalyas. This is the Great Flood event of Manu.

Jijith said...

It is perfectly possible to encode spiritual truth or astonomical data into a historical narrative without compromising the historical data. Ancient kavis (learned men) has done it many times ! Information theory does not preclude such a situation in ancient texts. For example Mahabharata and Ramayana successfully demonstrate to us how ancient astronomical observations one done around 5100 BC and other around 3100 BC can be encoded into epic historical poetry. The result of encoding spiritual information in the Vedas and its subseqent decipherment is what led to the development of Vedanta. So the presence of historical information doesn't make Vedas deviod of spiritual or astronomical information or make them spiritually value-less. Encoding of information belonging to various domains - history, spirituality, astronomy etc was a necessity when there was so much to be remembered in less number of verses that are to be remembered and propagated in oral traditions for a long period of time, after withstanding devastatibg events like floods that threten destruction of all knowledge once in every century or millanium.

Jai Panchmukhi Hanuman said...

Interesting post. What I always believed that Dravidians and Aryans are not two different types. Difference in physical appearance is mainly due to proximity to equator and hot sun and up north due to cold weather and less hot & humid. This difference is found all over the world. Pronunciation also has lot to do with the proximity to equator I believe. But we tend to forget this major reason.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the wonderful critique dear Dr Elst. As a related reference, may I also ask you to look at Kelly Sebastina's views in 'The Almond and The Rose' where she discusses the origin of the Aryans from Arktos and the Dravidians from the Antarctic and the conflict between the two which continues to the present day.

Dr.Srikumar Mukherjee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr.Srikumar Mukherjee said...

It is very unfortunate that some people are still trying to misinterpret the Indo-Aryan history. I very strongly oppose of such communal initiation of proving India as the home land of Aryans. I appeal to stop such nonsense unscientific activities right now. Our most recent genetic experiment proved that Russian’s (people of central Asia) heplagroup R1a / R1a1 is quite older than the same of Indian upper caste people. This is self-sufficient proof of Aryan migration to Europe, western-southern Asia and of-course India from northern world, may be from arctic region. But the Vedic culture (research , compilation of Vedas and practical application) was finally and truly cultivated in Aryavartya (India) in later period of time. This made an further cultural and socio-political intercourse (with a higher culture of existentialism) between Bharatvarshya (India) and other parts of Asia (older & distant relatives) and rest of the world. I do feel still India has lots of cultural resources to contribute to the modern and future world. We are trying to do that through our virtual school “Indoaryan School of H.R.D.” (ISHRD) through our website:

LV said...


Not sure if you've seen this genetic study, but it's interesting. Even though it is strong evidence that the AIT isn't correct, it hasn't been noticed. It is highly unlikely that the Sintashta were proto-Indo-Aryans. They had Corded Ware ancestry mixed in with Neolithic European farmer ancestry. Since, to my knowledge, modern Indians and Iranians don't have Neolithic European farmer ancestry, it is highly unlikely that the Sintashta had anything to do with bringing Indo-European languages to the Subcontinent. Check out this overview:

It for example finds that the peoples of the Sintashta culture seem very genetically similar to Corded Ware peoples:

"Although we cannot formally test whether the Sintashta derives directly from an eastward migration of Corded Ware peoples or if they share common ancestry with an earlier steppe population, the presence of European Neolithic farmer ancestry in both the Corded Ware and the Sintashta, combined with the absence of Neolithic farmer ancestry in the earlier Yamnaya, would suggest the former being more probable."

The former seems probable to me as well, especially in that they carry Early European Farmer ancestry (referred to as "Neolithic Farmer" in this case) so it's quite likely that what the Sintashta culture's people are is an eastward migration from peninsular Europe back into the steppe belt of Eurasia.

LV said...

Also, it's worth reading Heggarty's take:

These data imply that Uralic-speakers too would have been part of the Yamnaya > Corded Ware movement, which was thus not exclusively Indo-European in any case. And as well as the genetics, the geography, chronology and language contact evidence also all fit with a Yamnaya > Corded Ware movement including Uralic as well as Balto-Slavic.

Both papers fail to address properly the question of the Uralic languages. And this despite — or because? — the only Uralic speakers they report rank so high among modern populations with Yamnaya ancestry. Their linguistic ancestors also have a good claim to have been involved in the Corded Ware and Yamnaya cultures, and of course the other members of the Uralic family are scattered across European Russia up to the Urals.

Unknown said...

Sir, ReferenceJijit's views on 17th Oct.2013 "On Vaivasvata Manu and his Dravida:- It is true that the location of Dravida as per epics and Puranas is in what is currently southern Andhra pradesh and northern Tamilnadu. But that was not their original location or the only location. Their more probable homeland is in the western shores of peninsular india that is now submerged and stretched from south of Dvaraka in Gujarat to west and south of Kerala"On the otherhand Elst's review , in second para quotes the Talegheri Conjecture as "In earlier books dated 1993 and 2000, Mumbai-based self-taught scholar Talageri (°1958) had already built a case for the following scenario. In the pre-Rigvedic age, a group of IE-speaking tribes populated the central and western Ganga plain and some of these migrated westward to the Saraswati basin in what is now Haryana and Rajasthan, and on to the Indus basin from Panjab to Afghanistan." Thus my proposition of the entry of the deluge fleeing Manu having landed in the then inhospitable Gangetic Plain first and them moving West holds good.Further, I cojecture the Baneres Tradition of MAHASMASAN must have gathered currency of funeral instead of burial for Aryans. Also, the need to organise into a warmachine like situation to wade into hostile areas must have been genesis of Kshatria Groups.This compulsion would not have been there if there had been continuity. After all the people living in these areas are same homosapiens. but , the Toba scissor lands one far removed area suddenly into another as a cultural shock. But , please note subsequent generatins marry locally and make peace, like Mandhata's wife is from Naga Clan of Narmada Valley. Regards. G.V.SUBRAMANIAM