The Aryan Problem and the Puranas - by Dinesh Agrawal

Anshuman Pandey apandey at
Wed Feb 22 22:46:58 UTC 1995

PLEASE NOTE: The article which follows are the opinions of Dinesh 
Agrawal, NOT MINE.

Mr. Agrawal may be reached at <DXA4 at PSUVM.PSU.EDU>.

Date: Sun, 12 Feb 95 21:50 EST
From: "Dinesh Agrawal" <DXA4 at PSUVM.PSU.EDU>
Subject: Aryan Problem and the Puranas
The proponents of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) reject the evidence in Pura-
nas against AIT on the basis of the so-called 'evidence' in support of AIT in
Rigveda. This peculiar situation is developed due to the misinterpretation of
the Vedic hymns which appear to have been composed mainly in the Saptasindhu
region in and around Punjab, and do not appear to mention in detail the places
to the far east and south of the region as mentioned in Puranas. And hence
reject the testimony of Puranas. This situation is without parallel anywhere
else in the world. In the study of the history of the Jews of ancient Israel,
for example, no one would even dream of trying to reconstruct the history from
those parts of the Old Testament, such as the Book of Psalms, which do not
profess to deal with this history, rather than from those parts, such as the
Chronicles, which do. And yet, in the case of ancient Indian history, the
scholars unblushingly reject the evidence of the Puranas on the basis of
"evidence" inferred from the Rigvedic hymns!
    The Rigveda is a book of hymns of rishis of the Saptsindhu, and kings who
came into intimate contact with this region. It neither is, nor claims to be,
either a geographical mannual or a historical treatise. The Puranas, on the
other hand, are, and claim to be, historical treatises giving a well maintained
record of the ancient historical traditions of the prominent rishis and kings,
and the major dynasties, of the major part of northern India upto the Maha-
bharat war. And as a matter of fact, there is no conflict between the accounts/
evidence presented in Vedas and in Puranas either in geographical terms or in
chroniclising of various dynasties. However, there is a natural difference
which flows from the different aims (hymnology and traditional historiography,
respectively) and the different geographical vistas of the Vedic and Puranic
streams of literature. Thus the Rigveda refers to kings and rishis of the
Punjab region who may not have been really important enough to be noted by the
Puranas; while the Puranas contain the names of kings and rishis who may never
have ventured near the Saptasindhu region at all, or were not significant
enough, in the eyes of the composer-rishis of the hymns, to be mentioned
anywhere in any manner.
    Thus, of the 4 relevant dynasties, the Pramsu dynasty is located by the
Puranas farthest away from the Punjab (in western Bihar), and no king is des-
cribed as coming into contact with the Punjab region. Appropriately the Rigveda
does not mention the name of any Pramsu king.
   The Iksvaku dynasty is located by the Puranas slightly closer to the Punjab
(i.e. Ayodhya), and some of the kings are described as coming into contact with
the Punjab, the first king being Mandhatr (generation 21). Appropriately, he is
the first Iksvaku king whose name appears in the Rigveda, the kings before him
being unknown to the hymns.
   The Sudyumna dynasty is originally located by the Puranas in souther-eastern
UP, but then the Puranas describe this dynasty as moving right into the Punjab
region and settling down there. Appropriately, the Rigveda mentions most of the
early kings: Pururavas, Ayu, Nahusa, Yayati, Puru, etc.
   The Saryati dynasty, which either ended with him or migrated southwards to
Gujarat, is located by the Puranas in the west of India. Appropriately, Saryati
(generation 2) is mentioned in the Rigveda.
  In respect of the five dynasties which are classified as Saudyumna also, the
same case prevails. The Rigveda mentions the names of all the five dynasties
(Puru, Anu, Druhyu, Yadu and Turvasu/Turvasa), but s far as the actual kings of
the dynasties are concerned.
   Thus, in every case, those kings of the Puranic genealogies, who are found
mentioned in the Rigveda, are precisely those kings who are described, in the
traditional accounts of the Puranas, as being closely associated with the
Punjab. All these cannot be coincidences. On the basis of such incontrovertible
evidence of the joint testimony of the Rigveda and Puranas, it can be concluded
that different dynasties ruled in different parts of the northern India (upto
at least Bihar in the east and northern maharashtra in the south) during, and
even before, the composition of the majority of the hymns of the Rigveda; AND
    Thus, we have seen that the joint testimony of the Rigveda and the Puranas
confirms the basic validity of the geographical details given in the Puranas
regarding the locations and movements of the various dynasties. Since many of
these movements antedate the composition of the Rigveda, it seems logical to
presume that the Puranas should also contain clues as to the location of the
original homeland of the Indo-European language-family, and of the intial
stages of the dispersion of these languages from their original homeland.
   The further details on the above issues and movement of linguistic trends
are found in Talageri's book: Aryan Invasion Theory and Indian Nationalism. It
would suffice here to give his conclusion:"...the cold hard fact is that the
Puranas provide incontrovertible evidence that the Ultimate Indo-European
Homeland lay spread out over the expanse of northern India, and that the Origi-
nal Homeland of the Vedic Aryans, the Iranians and the Western Indo-Europeans
(i.e. the place where a migrant branch of the original Indo-Europeans from the
east, split into these various peoples) lay in north-western India: in the
Punjab, Kashmir and northwest.


More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list