Is the Aryan Invasion a Myth?

David Salmon dsalmon at SALMON.ORG
Sun Nov 29 22:50:49 UTC 1998

I found your reply to the query below understandable, but less than helpful.
There were 1050 items in the archives that turned up using the search term
"Aryan," and most of those of course were totally unrelated to the topic.
Of those that were, none (as far as my less-than-total review revealed)
improved upon the following excerpt from a message Jayant Bapak rather early
on in the debate:

>Having perused many of the available works, I have come to the
>conclusion that:1)There is a reasonably serious challenge to the
>Aryan invasion theory 2)Unfortunately the proponents of the challenge
>themselves have no firm conclusive evidence to justify their case and
>3) This whole area is in need of some totally unbiased and thorough

I take it that no one has as yet performed "some totally unbiased and
thorough research."  In lieu thereof, a summary of salient points made in
the email debate on this list, or a websites like the one I describe below,
with links to relevant source material, would be useful.

For those who have an interest in the Sarasvati River, I recommend the
website  organized by Dr. S. Kalayanaraman,
particularly the article by Puri, VKM, and BC Verma, Glaciological and
Geological Source of Vedic Sarasvati in the Himalayas, included there, as
well as Dr. Kalayanaraman's own monograph, available on  .  Puri and Verma made a geological and
glaciological survey of the most likely headwaters area for the Sarasvati in
the Himalayas, and concluded that the area did feed the Sarasvati River.
Earthquakes diverted half the water southward towards the Ganges, and the
Sutlej changed course and eventually joined the Indus, essentially changing
the Sarasvati to a seasonal river.  The melting of the major glaciers that
once fed the river and a reduction in monsoon run-off also reduced its flow.

Puri and Verma appear to depend on archeological studies of cities built
along the old Saravasti riverbid for dating of when this might have taken
place.  Certainly, the fact that the Rig Veda speaks both of the Sarasvati
as a full-flowing river that ran to the sea, and later as a river that dries
up in the desert, to say nothing of the cities and towns along its former
banks, indicates strongly that an ancient but historical date for the change
is appropriate.  They suggest about 2450 B.C. for the first major loss of
water and perhaps 1700 B.C. for the drying up of the river into its present

Other sources on these websites trace the river beyond its headwaters region
through Rajasthan, Sind and Kutch to the sea.  Others indicate that hundreds
of new archeological sites have been found in the past two or three decades
in this area, but almost all remain unstudied.

The case for an ancient but historical Sarasvati is made objectively and
scientifically and seems to me, a layman, to be unrefuted.  (For the most
part: Kalayanaraman's theory, thrown in for good measure, that soma was a
gold-silver alloy called electrum, and that the references in the Veda to it
bespeak the process of producing it, is less adequately explained and

I think it is time to hear more from archeologists, and less from linguists.
Do any belong to this list?


-----Original Message-----
From: Elliot Stern <emstern at NNI.COM>
Date: Friday, November 27, 1998 3:53 PM
Subject: Re: Is the Aryan Invasion a Myth?

>>Dear Historians on Indology:

>>Is there a consensus among historians about the Aryan invasion of India
>>that was taught when I was in high school in India in the seventies?
>>Lately I've been hearing more discussion about
>>the "Myth of the Aryan Invasion" (there is a book by that name,
>>published by Voice
>>of India in 1995), saying that Max Mueller in particular dated the Aryan
>>invasion at
>>3500 BC because of the prevailing Christian myth that the world was
>>created in
>>4004 BC at 4 pm (!), that the Aryan *language and colorism/ideas of
>>varna* may have
>>mixed with Indian language and culture via the passes, but that the
>>Aryan *people*
>>were not a tribe from the Caucasus, but were *indigenous* to India.
>>Bhagwan Gidwani's 1997 novel, "Return of the Aryans," is premised on
>>this theory. Another book,   "In Search of the Cradle of Civilization,"
>>also a 1995 Voice of India publication, says, I believe (I haven't yet
>>read this book myself, however) that the Aryans did invade, only they
>>came not from the Caucasus but from Persia. How rigorous is the
>>scholarship and does it stand behind the hypotheses?
>>Do you think, as the reviewers of these writers seem to, that the story
>>was a myth concocted by the English to create a tie between the Brahmins
>>and themselves? The "white Brahmin" idea?
>>Or do you feel these people who say the Aryan invasion was a myth are
>>indulging in wishful thinking?
>>Where does the historical evidence point? Has there been carbon dating
>>of archeological remains at Taxila, Harappa, Moenjodaro, for instance?
>>What does it reveal?
>>Perhaps you have already discussed these new theories on Indology. If
>>so, please point me to the website where I may find the archives with
>>discussion on this topic. Thanks in advance for your assistance.
>>Shauna Singh Baldwin
>The Aryan migration theory, and other theories have recently been discussed
>on this list, though the discussion recently seems to have slowed down.
>Please visit the Indology List archives at
> I recall that the recent
>discussion began in July or August (although it may have begun earlier),
>and continued into early November. Earlier stages of discussions of Aryan
>migration into India, versus indigenous Aryans in India, may probably be
>found further back in the archives.
>Elliot M. Stern
>552 South 48th Street
>Philadelphia, PA 19143-2029
>telephone: 215 747 6204

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