– by David Frawley
My classes on Indian culture have often put to doubt the famous “Aryan invasion” theory. My own observations of its use today by Indians to justify just about anything (superiority of fair people, caste system, North vs. South, superiority of Dravidian culture… and so on) have also brought me to cast on it a very critical eye.
Here is my account of Frawley’s article – maybe not the best nor the last writing on the subject, but nevertheless interesting and convincing.
Frawley’s very well-documented article demonstrates that there was no Aryan invasion. The author assures us that this theory is widely questioned in the academic world, and that even scholars who still accept an outside origin for the Vedic people reject the destructive invasion theory to the advantage of migration, diffusion or mixing with indigenous people.
Frawley shows how recent archeological findings and a precise reading of Vedic texts invalidate each argument usually accepted to justify the invasion. He also states that the Aryan invasion theory is an example of European colonialism turned into an historical model – and explains how facts and discoveries were molded to fit the “invasion” theory.
The theory of Aryan invasion appears for the first time in the works of nineteenth century European scholars. It has been used to present India’s history as one of successive and incessant invasions from the West.
It leaves little of the population or culture of the subcontinent to indigenous India itself, the “initial” Aryan invaders having supposedly imposed their language (sanskrit) and culture (the Veda) after destroying the pre-existing (indigenous) civilization.
Frawley stresses the point that this theory contributes to belittle Indian culture, by bringing the main line of civilization back into the Middle East. As he says: “It makes Hindus feel that their culture is not the great thing that their sages and ancestors said it was. It causes them to be ashamed of their culture – that its basis is neither historical nor scientific but only imaginary, while being actually rooted in invasion and oppression.” He also regrets that Hindu scholars are so accepting of this theory.
Interestingly, the basis for the invasion theory was not even in archeological evidence but in linguistic speculation (the famous search for a homeland to the original Indo-European language).
But to this day, there is no archeological, literary or linguistic evidence that there actually was an invasion. Many sites belonging to the same so-called pre-Aryan culture of Mohenjodaro and Harrappa were discovered where the Sarasvati river used to lie. Her drying up brought the end of this urban civilization with the shift of its population to more fertile grounds.
Now, if you want more, David Frawley has written a book on the subject (yes, a whole book!): Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Light on Ancient Civilization.
- Aryan Invasion [en] (2001)
- Linguistic Superiority [en] (2001)
- Most People Are Multilingual [en] (2007)
- India [en] (2000)
- Books [en] (2001)
- India, Pakistan, and History [en] (2002)
- Lift11: Ben Hammersley, Post-digital geopolitics [en] (2011)
- India [en] (2000)
- Another Multilingual Talk Proposal (Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin) [en] (2007)
- Indian Stretchable Time [en] (2011)