The Aryan Invasion Theory has been completely debunked once and for all
Shrikant G Talageri was born in 1958, educated in Mumbai, India where he currently lives and works. He has revolutionized research into Rig Veda. He has successfully identified historical information from Rig Veda, which he then used to chronologically arrange the ten Mandalas of Rig Veda (6, 3, 7, 4, 2, 5 and 8, 9, 10). He also explored the history of kings and the sages who composed the Rigvedic hymns. Talageri utilized for his analysis, the Anukramanis in Rigveda, which are often neglected by scholars.
He also studied the geographical basis of Rig Veda. As a corollary of his analysis, he establishes that Rig Veda was composed by sages living in Saraswati river valley between Saraswati and Ganga rivers (Haryana) who were patrons of the kings who ruled in this area. These patron kings were especially the Puru and particularly the Bharata branch of the Purus. He also analyzed the probable location of origin (Punjab) of the Iranians and the Europeans. Talageri equates the Vedic-Aryans to the Purus and the Iranians to the Anus a sibling branch of the Purus. Other sibling branches includes the Drahyus, the Yadus and the Turvasus.
We spoke to Shrikant Talageri about his research, body of work and his run-ins with authority.
How and when did you start studying and writing about ancient Indian texts and dates?
I started out with wanting to write books (of fiction), then decided to write them in my mother tongue Konkani rather than in English, but my mother tongue has no official script or standard form and so this (along with other things) led to my interest in a linguistic study of Konkani and in Linguistics in general. AIT is basically a linguistic issue, so it was a natural transition from general linguistics to the specific study of the "Aryan" problem or issue. When I wrote my first book (The Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism) published in 1993, it was only to show how all the arguments in support of the AIT have no basis in facts and that the data can equally well or even better support an OIT (out of India Theory). My analysis of the Vedic and Puranic data in that book were primarily a reaction to the so-called analysis of the Rigveda by Malati Shendge and of the Puranas by P.L.Bhargava, and of course a general examination of many other writers as well. It was in my second book (The Rigveda - A historical Analysis) published in 2000, that I actually undertook a direct study of the Rigveda. This resulted in objections and criticism by Harvard professor Michael Witzel, and frankly it was his criticism (biased, vicious and dishonest though it was) which spurred me on to further research which resulted in my third book (The Rigveda and the Avesta - The Final Evidence) published in 2008.
Your research is based on scriptures and the study of language. Can you please explain to our readers your methodology of research?
This question is very difficult (rather broad-based) to answer. But in short I would say my methodology is to zero in on the relevant points and arguments, examine honestly all the data in respect of each point, and to accept frankly whatever is the outcome of that process. As a result my hypothesis has evolved with my books. When writing my first book, I had never even seen a copy of the Rigveda. As I said, I am indirectly indebted to my critics, most of all to Michael Witzel, for compelling me to go deeper and deeper into the subject to answer the points raised by them. You could say my method is to take the strongest sounding criticisms seriously, to examine all the facts and data in those respects, to accept the verdict of those facts (whether they agree with my original formulations or otherwise) and to incorporate them into the reformulated hypothesis. In that respect, every serious criticism to date (and my examination of that criticism) has only resulted in providing me with new and stronger evidence and strengthened my original case.
About "scriptures", I have not treated them as scriptures, but as possible sources of historical data. You must remember that these are basically books written or composed in India thousands of years ago. The Puranas contain the seeds of our history, although very much intermixed with interpolations from countless subsequent generations. The Vedic texts, and most of all the oldest of those texts, the Rigveda, have been preserved in their original forms and (as testified by Harvard Professor Michael Witzel) are equivalent to inscriptions or tape-recordings or snapshots of those ancient times.
How old is our civilization? Were there competing or co-existing cultures always in existence alongside ours?
Unfortunately, there are no datable and readable material written records before the period of Ashoka, somewhere in the 3rd century BCE. So, while we can use other sources to go much further back (as I have used the Rigveda, Avesta and the datable Mitanni records of West Asia to show that the Oldest Books of the Rigveda, 6,3,7, go back beyond 3000 BCE), there will of course be limitations. I will not comment on Indian enthusiasts who want to date events in the Epics and Puranas tens of thousands, or lakhs, of years ago. I must also point out here that the Mahabharata dates around 1500-1400 BCE and not 3102 BCE (or even earlier) as many want to believe. For exact dates before this, we will have to wait for more archaeological finds and newer pieces of evidence and methods of analysis.
There were basically four more-or-less independent Great Civilizations or Centers of Civilization in the (Old) World: from the east, they were China, India, Sumeria and Egypt. All of them go beyond 3000 BCE, although the AIT wrongly starts our present Indian/Hindu Civilization after 1500 BCE, and postulates an unconnected "pre-Aryan" Harappan Civilization in India before that date. New and conflicting archaeological finds are coming up every now and then, so I will leave it to the new evidence, as it comes up, to give us better ideas of the comparative dates of these four Civilizations. But one thing is now certain, India is nowhere behind the other three in matters of originality and antiquity, and far beyond any of them in richness and wealth of culture in all its aspects (natural, ethnic, cultural, civilizational) - but that is a separate topic (and one which I have dealt with in my article published in the Sita Ram Goel Commemoration Volume published by Voice of India, New Delhi, in 2005).
Prof Koenraad Elst and you have always talked about OIT. When will it be able to comprehensively debunk the Aryan Invasion theory once and for all?
The Aryan Invasion Theory has been completely debunked once and for all. The hypothesis we have formulated on the basis of all the evidence (linguistic, textual, inscriptional, archaeological, logistical, etc.) is a complete case which cannot be challenged by anyone. It explains all the factors which remain unexplained in every other hypothesis, and the evidence is absolutely unchallengeable. The question should be: "When will the opponents of the OIT (i.e. the proponents of the AIT) accept that the Aryan Invasion Theory has been debunked once and for all?”
Recently Koenraad Elst, in an attempt to bring some of the western academic scholars into a straight discussion on the case, brought about an introduction with a western academic scholar, Christophe Vielle, active on an online Indology site, who sent me two academic papers [by the renowned Indologist P.E.Dumont, the papers in question being: 1) Indo-Aryan Names from Mitanni, Nuzi and Syrian Documents, P.E.Dumont, JAOS, Vol.67, No.4 (Oct-Dec 1947), pp.251-253; and 2) A Parallel between Indic and Babylonian Sacrificial Ritual, W.F.Albright and P.E.Dumont, JAOS, Vol.54, No.2 (June 1934), pp.107-128.] And told me to send my views on those papers, so that we could have an open and frank discussion. I wrote an article on those papers and sent it to Vielle on 6th July 2014. After that there was an absolute stony silence. In a mail on the subject on 22/7/2015, Koenraad wrote: "So far, it is mainly: closing ranks in silence. Of course, if you make a mistake, they will gleefully pounce on it, but if not, they assiduously look the other way." As he added in a later mail, academic scholars of the present pack have spent long careers in writing for the AIT and against the OIT, and both ego and peer pressure prevent them from accepting they were wrong, so we will simply have to wait (even if it happens after my lifetime) for a new generation of scholars to come up which will be free of the baggage of their own prejudices and past writings!
All I can say is, I challenge anyone to have an open, honest and serious academic debate with me on this subject.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in mainstreaming your painstaking research?
On first count, of course, the first biggest challenge I have faced is the solid and unflinching phalanx of committed vested interests in politics, the media and the academia which have a very big stake in perpetuating the AIT. They can do unlimited propaganda, and can equally well stonewall information on an unbelievable scale. They can blockade and blank out things from public discourse, they can brand their opponents with motivated labels and make those labels stick, they can even if the need or occasion arises attack on the personal level. But then this is to be expected: if you are fighting a war against corruption you can expect the corrupt of all hues and views to gang up against you. You cannot be fighting a war with Pakistan and be surprised that Pakistani soldiers are standing in battle formation against you rather than fighting on your side!
But in my honest opinion, a far bigger challenge is the attitude of those who are supposed to be opposed to the AIT. If all those opposed to the AIT were to agree on presenting one single hypothesis and pushing it through as a solid phalanx with equally unflinching commitment, there would definitely be a real fight; and since we have an unchallengeable case the victory would then definitely be of the OIT. If one side is saying "2+2=4" and the opposing side is saying "2+2=5", the ultimate victory can only be of the former side. Believe me, our OIT (Out-of-India case for an Indian Homeland of the Indo-European languages) case is fully and completely supported by rock-solid evidence from the fields of linguistics, archaeology and actual recorded textual sources, and it explains every single piece of data which has any relevance to the debate. The AIT supporters have everything going against them so far as the academic debate is concerned: the only thing they have is a complete monopoly of all the academia, media and political patronage. But this situation will last only so far as the present crop of academicians continue to hold the reins. These academicians (apart from possible biases, ideologies and agendas) are not only laboring under what George Erdosy (himself a believer in the AIT) described as "assumptions long taken for granted and buttressed by the accumulated weight of two centuries of scholarship”, but even more so by the fact that each of them has individually contributed to that weight: it is not easy to turn around and say "Yes, I have been writing the wrong things or reaching the wrong conclusions all these long years. The truth is exactly the opposite of what I believed and wrote". Once a new crop of fresh scholarship arises, they will accept the truth. But again, only if the OIT is, to begin with, presented to them as a genuine alternate hypothesis. But what are the chances for that?
To begin with, most western academicians do not even know there is an alternate hypothesis in the running, let alone the details of this hypothesis. They only know the controlled propaganda that there is a bunch of "communal", "racist", "chauvinistic" or "nationalist" "bigots" in India who are insisting that the "Aryans" originated in India, and that this is (somehow) somewhat like Hitler and the Nazis claiming they were the "purest Aryans". And there are actually countless crank theories about Aryan origins being bandied around everywhere (especially after the proliferation of internet technology); this Indian theory is just one more of them: why waste time going through their claims? Unless of course there is an equally solid phalanx of writers presenting this alternate hypothesis as the alternate hypothesis!
But this is where the real challenge begins. The whole Aryan debate is based on certain facts and empirical data. But "the accumulated weight of two centuries of scholarship" is based often on a blinkered analysis of arbitrarily selected pieces of data in which every single inconvenient piece of data (and this constitutes the overwhelmingly major part of the data) being ignored or swept under the carpet. This can only be answered by a rational, logical, honest and unprejudiced analysis of the complete data. Our case is based on exactly this. But will they ever be compelled to face this case as the alternate hypothesis?
What is the opposition to the AIT based on? Unfortunately a major part of it is based on half-baked or chauvinistic biases which are equally opposed to data and rational analysis. Their answers to wrong AIT analysis consists of absurdities which no serious scholar will take seriously. Just one example: the geographical data in the Rigveda shows a geographical area centered on Haryana, extending from western-most UP to southeastern-most Afghanistan. The whole of the rest of India is practically missing in the geographical data in the Rigveda. Why is this so? The western scholars have interpreted this as follows: the Indo-Aryans entered India from the northwest and settled down in the above area where they composed the Rigveda. At the time they were not acquainted with the rest of India. They later expanded into the rest of India: the geographical data in the Yajurveda extends into the whole of Uttar Pradesh that of the Atharvaveda extends into Bihar and northern Bengal that of subsequent Vedic texts gradually covers at least the whole of northern India.
What are the Indian answers to this? The answers are: the Vedas are apaurusheya and eternal and not man-written, you cannot derive historical and geographical data restricted to certain particular areas and times from the Rigveda. The geography of the Rigveda covers the whole of India: the "Saptasindhu" or Seven Rivers of the Rigveda are not Sarasvati, Sindhu and the five rivers of the Punjab as the scholars claim: they are The Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Sarasvati, Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri as in later texts (even if most of these rivers are missing in the Rigvedic data). Funniest of all is the answer given by A C Das in his 1921 book "Rigvedic India": the Rigveda was composed hundreds of thousands of years ago, at a time when the whole rest of India (except certain northwestern areas) were covered by the sea. The Vedic Aryans resided in those northwestern parts. As the seas receded, the Vedic Aryans slowly spread into the newly arising lands which today constitute parts of India!
Am I referring to an outdated book from 1921? Well, the official Journal of the official RSS historical-research body, the Itihas Sankalan Yojana Samiti, reiterates this scenario [“Itihas Darpan”, the “Research Journal of Akhil Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan Yojana”, in its Volume XVII (2) (Vijaya Dashami), of Vikramabda 2069, Yugabda 5114, Isvi 2012, contains an article/paper by Prof. T. P. Verma, entitled “Geography of Soma: The Cradle of Human Civilization” (pp.177-194 in the journal]
Professor Verma (the editor of this journal) writing in 2012, well after the publication of my three books (1993, 2000, 2008) and various articles. Could it be that he is ignorant of my books? Well no, since he criticizes me for being “opposed to Central Asian home for the Vedic people” (p.189) and dismisses my case that “there was a steady expansion westwards" as an “extreme approach [which] appears to be a retaliation of the Indo-Europeanist view” (p.178). He finds my “postulation about the geography of the Rgvedic people”, and my lack of “reliance on the puranic and epic sources” to be indicative of an “attitude [which] is not healthy for investigating the Vedic civilization” (p.178). My geographical hypothesis “does not even qualify preliminary conditions described in the Rigveda” (p.189). He sums up my analysis as follows: “He, in his historical analysis, has not only threatened the Vedas but to some extent has hurt it” (p.190).
Yes, the official editor of this official RSS History Journal, writing in 2012, criticizes my hypothesis that “there was a steady expansion westwards” of the Aryans from an original homeland in India, and insists on a "Central Asian home for the Vedic people" - the theory originally postulated by Max Muller! This is the sort of stuff promoted by "Hindu" bodies when in control (whether of magazines or of governments)! This is the real thing that we are up against!
This is only a symptom of the disease. I have presented such an unchallengeable case for the Indian Homeland theory that, as I pointed out in my answer to your earlier question, no academician dares to have an open and honest debate with me on the subject. But they can stonewall it. And will they ever be forced to face a united OIT challenge?
It is not a question of one Verma. The moment they come up against my hypothesis, many Hindu opponents of the AIT start their objections: "Do you mean the Aryan language hypothesis is true, and the languages of Europe, Iran, Central Asia and India are related to each other as a language family, and that the Dravidian languages of South India belong to a different family?" followed by "Are you saying Sanskrit is not the mother of all Indian languages (let alone all the languages of the world)? Are you supporting the fake idea of a Proto-Indo-European language of which there is no written record anywhere and which was invented by linguists?", going on to "How can you trivialize the Vedic literature by analyzing it as a record of history? It is an apaurusheya text which only contains eternal truths 'seen' by the rishis of ancient India in higher states of consciousness", and more fundamentally, "how can you accept ideas, concepts, categories, methods and classifications devised by biased and ignorant western scholars in your analysis?" The number of objections keeps increasing from this point, and I even become to some people a person who is looking at things from a "western", "modern", "shraddha-less", "un-Hindu" (in extreme cases, even "anti-Hindu"), or some similar other angle. As Verma puts it, I am "threatening" or "hurting" the Vedas!
To our own "side", pampering religious biases (and often even personal egos) is often more important than the Truth or than Winning the War (by presenting a united front with winnable weapons). I find this the biggest challenge.
Have you or anyone you have collaborated with been able to date the birth of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna?
Let me be frank, all Indian texts were originally in oral form, and were put in writing much later. All data we have now on these matters is full of interpolations from countless different eras and generations. The Rigveda (and to different degrees, many other Vedic texts) are real exceptions: they provide us with fully preserved original and contemporary data. Which is why I was able to clear up the early history of the Vedic Age and of the Aryan question.
But there is simply no reliable contemporary historical record about Rama and Krishna, and certainly none that can help in dating them precisely. I will not comment on astronomical arguments. Of course all the data shows that they were historical characters, but I at least will not be able to give you dates with certainty. I know that my great-great-great-great-great grandfather existed seven generations before me, and that is a historical fact even if I cannot give you his date of birth! So also with our ancient national heroes: I know they were our ancient national heroes, but I will not pretend to be the person who can provide you with the exact data on this, since it was not the field of my studies.
Drying up of rivers has always resulted in vanishing of city states or cultures that were dependent on the river. Did the drying up of river Sarasvati have any cataclysmic effect? Or more migrations east or west of the river flow?
Migrations have always been taking place in all directions since the beginnings of human history. And of course, since human settlements always take place where water is available, the first great civilizations have almost inevitably been on the banks of rivers. And people do shift away from these areas when the rivers dry up. In respect of the Sarasvati, there is plenty of textual, archaeological and geological evidence for the drying up or shifting of the river and the subsequent human movements.
But specifically coming to the migrations of the Indo-European (Aryan) languages, there were historical-political events, described in the Puranas and the Rigveda, which led to the historical migrations of the speakers of "Aryan" dialects. The first Great Migration of the druhyu tribes took place from Afghanistan northwards into Central Asia, and took the Anatolian, Tocharian, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic speakers into their historical habitats. The second Great Migration of the anu tribes took place from Afghanistan westwards into Iran, and took the speakers of the Albanian, Greek, Armenian and Iranian languages into their historical habitats. These at least were not directly caused by the drying up of the Sarasvati.
Why does linguistic conflict exist in some parts of India? Is it more political or the conflict more historical in nature?
Linguistic and most other conflicts in India (except maybe caste-based ones, and even these became really bad only under modern manipulations) are not historical in nature. They have been stoked by colonial rulers, by missionaries, by post-1947 politicians, and by (Indian and western) academicians and ideologues committed to destructionist agendas. I will not go deeper into this here, because it is a very long and complicated subject.
Of course, I do not say that no conflicts ever took place in ancient India. Where there are human beings, there will always be vested interests, exploitation, injustice and conflicts. But in India, things were always better (or less bad) than in any other part of the world - although of course to the individual who is at the brunt of things such comparative statements will seem irrelevant. I will only quote the great historian A.L Basham: “At most periods of her history India, though a cultural unit, has been torn by internecine war. In statecraft, her rulers were cunning and unscrupulous. Famine, flood and plague visited her from time to time, and killed millions of her people. Inequality of birth was given religious sanction, and the lot of the humble was generally hard. Yet our overall impression is that in no other part of the ancient world were the relations of man and man, and of man and the state, so fair and humane. In no other early civilization were slaves so few in number, and in no other ancient law book are their rights so well protected as in the Arthasastra. No other ancient lawgiver proclaimed such noble ideals of fair play in battle as did Manu. In all her history of warfare Hindu India has few tales to tell of cities put to the sword or of the massacre of non-combatants…There was sporadic cruelty and oppression no doubt, but, in comparison with conditions in other early cultures, it was mild. To us the most striking feature of ancient Indian civilization is its humanity.”
Thank you for speaking to MyIndMakers.
For more information on Shrikant Talageri’s work and books please visit this website: http://ancientvoice.wikidot.com/author:shrikant-talageri