Saraswati: Atomic Scientists reconfirm location

Michael Witzel witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Mar 17 03:36:47 UTC 2000

Even my recent "great discoveries" parody could  not be as confused as the
following post by R. Banerjee.

Let us analyze it, as a specimen,  line by
line, even if this  is a complete waist of time, like many of the recent

>>MW: Why is it that of all of these and the ensuing movements, just one, the
>>"Aryan"one (=Indo-Aryan, proto-Vedic), is NOT allowed these days?

>Why was it allowed in the first place as concrete truth down to the last
>detail with no room for speculation?

Nope, there was a lot of speculation over the past 200 years. Early
Indo-Europeanists put the home of IE in India, and changed their mind only
when they noticed that Skt. is not the mother but a sister of Greek, Latin
etc.,  -- incidentally, at c.1870, these were not British colonialists but
the Leipzig Neo-Grammarians ("Junggrammatiker"), i.e. German ivory tower
professors of linguistics who had no interest at all in British politics in

Once the Mitanni documents were found, more speculation: Indo_Aryans lost
on their way to India, (back-)emigration from India? etc.  etc. etc.

Or, Archaeologist M. Wheeler's Mohenjo Daro "massacre" of local  people by
invading Aryans: "Indra stands accused"...
Rather, too much speculation.

>The other ones are historical. But this one is a reconstruction based on at
>best circumstantial evidence and needs to be treated with some scepticism
>atleast. There are so many gaps to be filled in.

Of course, I intentionally quoted the ones historically attested, and said so.
The Indo-Aryan one is not based on circumstantial evidence. It is the same
kind of evidence that makes the Tokharians in W.China speaking
an IE language of *western* (centum) type. How did THEY get there?
And how did the speakers of IA (an eastern IE language, of satem type) get
into South Asia?

One does not need historical records or much imagination to see that
*someone* must have transmitted IA, directly, or via intermediaries. I am
not interested whether those people were red- or blue-faced. As I have said
before (search the archives):  it is their language, texts, religion that
is of interest. These, and also the  actual *mode of transport* of the
new elements  is what I have been writing about.

>One can easily imagine mitannian mercenaries and their traditions straying
>into India

But that would be a Near Eastern Aryans' INVASION into India, simply
horrible!!! Just the kind of fact RB denies above....

>and kick starting martial / political practices,

Here  he actually is on a better track, described in earlier msgs (the
osmosis/billiard-ball model, or -- horribly,  Mallory's "Kulturkugel",
which means the same).

> why should we fixate on afghans.

"Afghans" before their time, of course, and simply because "they" were on,
in front of, and behind  the two major (Khyber, Bolan) and many smaller
passes leading into South Asia. Areas the RV speaks about.

> What about pakis from harappa?

Here the good RB  really bares himself and his soul:
Who ever spoke about an IA move ("invasion") into present day *India*
(Bharat)??  The usual models speak about an initial move into, and
semi-nomadic, transhumance 'settlement' in Gandhara/Panjab, i.e. Eastern
Afghanistan and Pakistani Panjab, to use the modern terms...

Harappa is of course out, unless one thinks of Cemetery H.  For many
reasons which would fill a book. (see below)

>We also need to ask if they also brought about a linguistic change , or only
>social ones and to what degree?

The linguistic evidence of the RV, with its substrate (missing in closely
related Old Iranian) is evidence enough that the people in the
Panjab/Harappans did *not* speak IA but the substrate language(s). Anyhow,
IA  is Indo_Iranian, which is part of eastern Indo-European, which is part
of Proto-IE. All spoken outside S. Asia (see immediately).

The percentage of IE/Indo_Iranian words to non-IE words in the RV is 96% : 4 %.
Any comment necessary?

Social change is implied in the new tribal structure of pastoralists, their
IE rituals,religion, etc. etc. etc.

>Why do we always have to assume that IE
>languages were intrusive.

See above. In short: The very closely related Old Iranian does neither have
Indian words NOR Indian (Vedic) linguistic innovations (mene type perfects,
etc. etc. etc.)

In natural science, biology for example, the later branch on a "family tree"
is always innovative and by its very nature, later, than the "trunk": in
case, Vedic is innovative, not the "trunk", IIr/IE.

>Deciphering linear B pushed back greek by almost a millenia.

A "millenia"??  People speaking about language should at least check their
ENGLISH dictionary and find out that "millennia" (sic) is the plural of
"millennium" (etymology needed?). Well, I won't charge you even one Rupees
for that.

And, where are the 1000 years between the Mycenean inscriptions in Archaic
Greek at c.1200 BCE and the first Greek texts, compiled by Homer? Last I
heard, 1200 minus 1000 = 200.
By 200 BCE we are already well beyond Pythagoras, Herodotos,
Sokrates/Plato, Alexander,...

Natural Scientists please comment on this new aspect of number theory!

And: What has RB's last sentence to do with any of the above?  RB seems to
imply that the Indus documents could be  written in Sanskrit and that would
push back IA / Vedic beyond 2600 BCE, the beginning of the Indus
civilization. Non licet.  See above.
Or does he think of non-writing IA-s somewhere in the Panjab at the same time?

Of course,not ONCE does RB come even close to what the reason for the
rejection of the so-called (and  in this form, antiquated) "Aryan invasion"
model may be...


This is about as much as I will write about this and similar messages, even
if some of their originators seem to think that constant assault will bring
down resistance and carry the day: hurray  to the "paradigm change!"

Actually, I wouldn't have bothered and would not even
have written these  messages if I were not occupied right now with
rewriting a paper on the various "Out of India" models, and if I were not
collecting  materials, --- conveniently supplied by non sequitur messages
such as the one by RB.

Well, I will presently return to the favorite attitude of my colleagues
(and myself!), apparent by their collective thundering silence, and will
concentrate on better things, leaving the field to the fans of Harappan
horses/half-asses and mules, spell-checking Vedic Rsis, nairukta
etymologists, and vimaana engineers.

Welcome to the alt.ind  chat club!

Cheers, MW


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