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Manasatarangini on the Aryan Invasion Theory By Shrikant Talageri

Shrikant- Manasatarangini on the Aryan Invasion TheoryThe article "A Note on the Early Expansions of the Indo-Europeans", stridently supports the AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) and strongly condemns the proponents of the OIT (the Out-of-India Theory), namely " S. Talageri, S. Kak, N.S. Rajaram, V. Agrawal, B.B. Lal, S. Kalyanaraman, D. Frawley, R. Malhotra, M. Danino, K. Elst, N. Kazanas and so on", "as idiots".  This article deserves a fitting reply.

I. A Racist-Casteist Mindset

I went through the article, and was amazed at the kind of rubbish which some fervent Hindus can write so seriously and at the intensity with which they can embrace the AIT for racist caste reasons. Just as there are rabid pseudo-dalit writers who promote the AIT out of racist caste obsessions, there are a large number of intensely religious brahmins who promote the AIT out of equally rabid racist caste sentiments. In my second book (The Rigveda - A historical Analysis), I have devoted a section to the "Hindu Imperialist" writers who promoted the AIT out of racist brahmin caste obsessions. Earlier, the main culprits were a section of Maharashtrian brahmins (notably Lokmanya Tilak). Today, I find sometimes on the internet that it is some stray Tamil brahmins (both Iyers and Iyengars, one example being Kalavai Venkat), who are not leftists but fervent religious Hindus, who promote the idea that the Aryans were a race of people who invaded India from some ultimate homeland situated far outside India, and that they themselves are scions of the invader race. I am almost 100% sure this blogger, who is supposed to be anonymous, is a Tamil brahmin, but he proudly declares: "Much of this work is done from a Eurocentric viewpoint but it has tremendous implications for us because we are the “other branch of Indo-European", thereby firmly proclaiming his bid to be accepted as a member of the Indian "branch" of the European race (since it is his insistence that this is a racial issue involving DNA), inspite of being linguistically a speaker probably of a Dravidian language. These rabid writers are staunch Vedic Hindus, staunch ritualists and staunch opponents and critics of Abrahamic religions, but they are also staunch casteist brahmins and staunch proponents of the AIT/AMT. They represent the present brood of the brahmin scholars whom Dr Ambedkar referred to when he wrote: "As Hindus they should ordinarily show a dislike for the Aryan theory with its expressed avowal of the superiority of the Aryan races over the Asiatic races. But the Brahmin scholarhas not only no such aversion, but he most willingly hails it.  The reasons are obvious.  The to be a representative of the Aryan race and he regards the rest of the Hindus as descendants of the non-Aryans.  The theory helps him to establish his kinship with the European races and share their arrogance and their superiority.  He likes particularly that part of the theory which makes the Aryan an invader and a conqueror of the non-Aryan races.  For it helps him to maintain his overlordship over the non-Brahmins" (Vol.7, p.80). 

Amazingly, after reading the article, I scoured the net to find out more about this manasatarangini blog, and I find that India Facts refers to this blog as the best Hindu blog on the internet!

Note that the only thing he has to say about the OIT as detailed in my books is as follows:

"About 21-22 years ago a strange, new aberration in Hindu thought came to our attention: The Out-of-India-theory (OIT), which posited that the Indo-Aryans were autochthons of the Indian subcontinent. At first we brushed it aside as being a mere fantasy of some ill-educated raconteurs, who might simultaneously see Tipoo Sultan as a freedom fighter. But as the 1990s came to an end the the 2000s began this stream of thinking became dominant among the Hindus. So much so that most politically pro-Hindu individuals also tied themselves to some version of OIT. Across different fora you would see them thundering as though they were Parjanya: “The Aryan invasion is a myth.” They started seeing it as an instrument created by the English or more generally the Leukosphere to sow dissension among the autochthonous Hindus. We can provide a long list of prominent Hindus on the internet and associates of Hindus who were proponents of some form OIT: S. Talageri, S. Kak, N.S. Rajaram, V. Agrawal, B.B. Lal, S. Kalyanaraman, D. Frawley, R. Malhotra, M. Danino, K. Elst, N. Kazanas and so on.

However, only a few of those who took a stand against the Aryan invasion theory (AIT) ever had a clear idea of what form the alternative hypothesis, i.e. OIT was to take. If we ignore its more nonsensical manifestations that deny the Indo-European monophyly then we are left with few clear formulations. OIT’s basic form was explicitly spelled out by Frawley and Talageri. They held the view that the Indo-Europeans originated in India and expanded westwards and eastwards from India. Talageri equated the Indo-Europeans with the Vedic pañcajana: The Druhyu-s and the Anu-s formed the non-Indian branches of Indo-European, whereas the Turvaśa-s, the Yadu and the Pūru-s formed the Indo-Aryan branches. Of them he ascribed Vedic culture purely to the Pūru-s. Talageri’s confidence in his scheme was so high that he titled his book: “Rigveda and the Avesta: The Final Evidence”; i.e. final evidence for OIT – this was after genetics had prepared the coffin for OIT. By 2009 Kazanas had climbed down to propose more confused alternatives: he proposed either a “continuum” from the Pontic steppes to the Sapta-Sindhu in India or an invasion around 4500 BCE or before............ 

it alarmed us that if Hindus were unable to understand a theory as AIT with a great weight of evidence behind it – if they failed to grasp something so clear-cut then what could one say of the complex droha-s the mlecchas were hatching on the Hindus."

After "thundering" the above pontifications "as though he were Parjanya", nowhere does he even pretend to make the slightest attempt to show how the case presented by me (which is backed by all the data, evidence and facts, and which I insist on referring to as "unchallengeable" and "irrefutable" to the irritation of many such people) is wrong ̶  after all, I had not just pompously "thundered" out my conclusion from a pulpit in front of Agni as some kind of a revelation I had received from the Gods: my conclusions are backed by massive and unchallengeable data and evidence. Instead, he simply launches into a long monologue with the usual mumbo-jumbo jargon about "DNA", "genetic evidence", "haplogroups", "genomes", "chromosomes" and the rest, and thinks his readers will be mesmerized into believing his gobbledygook actually means and proves something. Among other things, above, he falsely brands me as one of the writers who have treated the AIT as "an instrument created by the English or more generally the Leukosphere to sow dissension among the autochthonous Hindus", which I have not only never done but which I have explicitly rejected in all three of my books.

II. The Genetic Evidence

He calls the AIT  a "clear-cut" theory "with a great weight of evidence behind it" and claims that "genetics had prepared the coffin for OIT". And that "Yet, the Hindus including Talageri went on as though nothing had happened."

As a matter of fact, a) it is the OIT which has not just a great but a humongously great weight of all the relevant evidence behind it, b) genetics has nothing whatsoever to do with the Aryan/Indo-European issue (and is in no position to prepare a coffin for the OIT or even for the AIT), and c) it is people like this racist/casteist blogger who are going on as though nothing has happened even after an irrefutable case for the OIT has been presented.

He fails to take into account two basic points:

  1. The theory of Aryan/Indo-European migrations came into existence out of thin air not because someone discovered that the people of Europe and northern India shared common racial characteristics like "genes", "DNA", "haplogroups", "chromosomes", etc. None of these things were known then. It came into existence from the discovery that the languages of Europe, Central Asia, Iran and northern India were related to each other and must have had a common ancestry and origin. And it was in fact the total failure to discover common racial characteristics (even as per the definition of racial characteristics of that time, like skin color, eye color, shapes of the nose and cranium, etc) to support the linguistic case that led to plenty of confusion and frustration among scholars and gave birth to all kinds of crank racial theories. Ultimately, the whole problem of Aryan/Indo-European language origins has been based on detailed studies of linguistics/philology, textual and inscriptional data, and archaeological evidence, and not racial studies of any kind. This racist/casteist blogger completely avoids dealing with the exhaustive mass of linguistic, textual/inscriptional and archaeological data, facts and evidence presented by me in my books, and turns this into a purely racist discussion in present-day racist jargon.

  2. Recent and present racial studies in the name of DNA, genomes, chromosomes and haplogroups have presented a huge mass of confused and confusing data which different people have twisted in diametrically opposite ways to "prove" to their own satisfaction (and that of their admirers) the AIT or the OIT. But actually no-one is able to explain logically how all this data "proves" either the AIT or OIT, nor fit this in with the linguistic, textual and archaeological data. This racist/casteist blogger's attempt at the game are pathetic. If and when anyone is able to produce any coherent "genetic" evidence in any direction, they will only be able to prove or suggest the movement of some particular historical groups or communities in one direction or the other, but this will be totally irrelevant to and unconnected with the question of the origin or movements of the Aryan/IE languages.

The general position as to genetic data has been summarized by Michel Danino in his article. What it shows again is that:

  1. There is absolutely no direct correlation between genetic studies on the one hand, and caste and linguistic identities on the other.

  2. The question of Aryan/IE origins and migrations has no connection with genetic data, genetic categories, and any movements of some of the ancestors of simply any group of Indians in any direction (east-to-west, west-to-east, north-to-south, south-to-north, India-to-outside, outside-into-India, etc) bear no connection with the movements of language groups which could corroborate either the OIT or the AIT.

  3. Almost all groups of Indians fall within one broad category of genetic type. Of course there will be differences and variations (sometimes very marked ones) in different local groups or particular communities (based on both internal migrations and admixtures with different migrating groups of people from outside India throughout history), but these are totally unconnected with both broad caste identities as well as with the question of the origins and movements of the Aryan/IE languages.

When he is not babbling about genomes, haplogroups and chromosomes, this racist/casteist blogger makes some really pathetic gaffes in his article whenever he tries to refer to the linguistic or textual data (which is all clearly beyond his ken, and definitely shows that he has simply not even glanced at the conclusive evidence in my books), and, in his own words, exposes his brand of racist/casteists "as idiots". But first see his understanding of some basic things:

III. A Pedestrian Level of Understanding

  1. Using the royal pronoun, he tells us "We sat in front of Agni making the preliminary offering with the ancient mantra-s, where Agni is described as being that of Bhṛgu, Apnavāna, and Aurva, our illustrious ancestors. The observant individual would note, as we had done, that these mantra-s contain a key reference that gives the identity of the original homeland of the Indo-Iranians, and now likely all Indo-Europeans. We have never been to that place, but if one realizes those mantra-s of the Bhṛgu-s, or the Bharadvāja-s or the Vaiśvāmitra-s one immediately sees the land it corresponds to – the land where there is fire within water." This is the level of his understanding of the question of Aryan/Indo-European origins!

  2. He refers to "...the Out-of-India-theory (OIT), which posited that the Indo-Aryans were autochthons of the Indian subcontinent. At first we brushed it aside as being a mere fantasy of some ill-educated raconteurs, who might simultaneously see Tipoo Sultan as a freedom fighter." This is his level of understanding of the ideology or the personal prejudices of proponents of the OIT!

Now some examples of his pseudo-scholarly gaffes:

  1. "Without any shadow of doubt Indo-Aryan is related most closely related to Iranian and the philological evidence from the oldest Iranian text the Avesta closely matches that from the early Vedic period of the Indo-Aryans." This is after my book proves  beyond any shadow of doubt that "the philological evidence from the oldest Iranian text the Avesta closely matches that from the New Books of the Rigveda and is completely posterior to the philological evidence from the Old Books of the Rigveda.

  2. "Early Finno-Ugric shows several loans specifically from Indo-Iranian. Notably, loans of the word ārya, the ethnonym of the Indo-Iranians designates a southerner and the southwestern direction in some Finno-Ugric tongues of the Saami group. This indicates that early Indo-Iranian was in proximity to Finno-Ugric and to its south or southwest." To buttress this view he makes a blatantly false reference to "the shared loans into and from Finno-Ugric". Actually, all linguists are unanimous that there are only loans from Indo-Iranian into Finno-Ugric, and none whatsoever from Finno-Ugric into Indo-Iranian. What does this situation prove? If you were to suddenly come upon a lost tribe deep inside an African jungle speaking an African language and using many Tamil words (when no words from that African language are found in the Tamil spoken in India), would this logically prove that Tamil people originally came to India from that part of Africa? Or would it prove that some Tamil people from India must have gone and settled down in that part of Africa long ago and, although the Tamil language is no more spoken there, left traces of their language in the local African speech?3. After describing a scenario of Indo-Iranians moving from the Sintashta and Androvo cultures in the north and northwest of Central Asia after 1900 BCE and bringing the Indo-Aryans into India from the northwest "after the collapse of the Harappan civilization" a few hundred years after that, he concludes: "the dates would [be]consistent with the attestation of Indo-Aryan in West Asia in the Mitanni culture." Here he demonstrates to the best extent how a prejudiced writer can stick to his old discredited ideas and go on "as though nothing had happened" while steadfastly refusing to either accept or try to disprove irrefutable evidence to the contrary:
In my third book in 2008 (already now 8 years old) I have proved with massive data from the Rigveda and the Mitanni inscriptions that:
  1. The Mitanni and the related Kassites in West Asia were present in West Asia as early as 1750 BCE, and already, at that point of time, the Indo-Aryan linguistic element in their culture represented what western scholars like Witzel and Mallory call "the residue of a dead language" representing a "symbiosis"  that "may have taken place centuries earlier".

  2. The ten books (Mandalas) of the Rigveda have been classified by all the scholars as Old Books (books 2-4, 6-7) and New Books (books 1, 5, 8-10), and the vocabulary common to the Rigveda and the Mitanni Indo-Aryans is completely missing in the Old Books and massively represented in the New Books and in all subsequent Vedic and Sanskrit texts. This shows that the common culture of the Rigveda and the Mitanni ancestors belongs to the period of the New Books rather than to some pre-Rigvedic period, and that the Mitanni ancestors parted company from the other Vedic Indo-Aryans during the period of the New Books.

  3. The geography of the New Books extends from Haryana and westernmost UP in the east to southern and easternmost Afghanistan in the west, but the earlier geography of the Old Books is restricted only to the areas of Haryana and westernmost UP to the east of the Sarasvati, and the historical data and events in the Old Books describe the movement of the Vedic Aryans westwards from Haryana. [Central Asia is nowhere in the picture anywhere here].

  4. This shows that the ancestors of the Mitanni migrated from India during the period of composition of the New Books of the Rigveda many centuries before their recorded presence in West Asia (i.e. long before 2000 BCE), and in periods even and far earlier than that (i.e. during the period of composition of the Old Books of the Rigveda) they (as part of the Vedic Aryan population of India) lived even deeper inside India.

IV. A Shaky Foundation

This blogger's basic premise is in fact pathetically rooted in the most primitive and outdated era of Indo-European-origin studies: his primary arguments are based on what was referred to as "linguistic paleontology". He writes:

"What was the language of architect of these invasions from the steppes? - Both philology and linguistics indicate that the ancestral Indo-Europeans likely practiced an economy that had a major pastoral component and at least some agriculture. Further they also practiced honey-harvesting/bee-keeping which had its roots in old hunter-gatherer tradition. The pastoral component included cattle-rearing with the cow being an important cultural symbol or a holy animal or a sign of 'wealth'; goat-rearing and sheep-rearing with the latter supplying wool from which garments were made; horse-rearing, with the horse like the cow being an important cultural symbol.

- The early IE society was familiar with the birch tree and lived in place with cold winters during which it snowed."  Further, he later adds: "The oldest Indo-Aryan text the Ṛgveda has a unmistakable steppe-land imprint on it with a dominant role for cow-horse-sheep-centric pastoralism and some amount of agriculture. Rivers seem more important than large cities and all evidence is in favor of it being a bronze age text. Its culture was a heroic and warlike one, with fortified structures playing a key role. Horse-drawn chariots with spoked-wheels were central elements of the culture. The burial practice mentioned in the RV is mirrored in the Kurgan burials from the steppe sites. Grasses play multiple important roles in the religion, including being the seat where the gods sit." And even later: "Without any shadow of doubt Indo-Aryan is related most closely related to Iranian and the philological evidence from the oldest Iranian text the Avesta closely matches that from the early Vedic period of the Indo-Aryans. Thus, Indo-Aryan and Iranian arose in a common milieu. Further, they share the Soma cult, which distinguishes them from all other branches of IE, suggesting a phase of shared development (proto-Indo-Iranian) distinct from other IE groups."

Here he makes three fundamental mistakes: 1. He fails to distinguish between things native to a homeland and things imported into that homeland from outside. Today, and since the last few hundred years, potatoes and chillies have become an integral part of Indian cuisine: they are a central ingredient in many of the most typical regional culinary items from every single part of India. Would a researcher examining the traditional cuisine of Indians spread out all over the world 200 years from now (assuming these culinary items retain their popularity till then, or at least remain alive in traditional memory) be justified in concluding from this that the original homeland of all Indians was in America, since potatoes and chillies are native to America? This at least would be "Manasatarangini's" logic! As I have pointed out in my book, The Druhyus and Anus had spread out westwards from their primary homeland in northern India in ancient times and spread out so that the three IE (Indo-European) groups (Purus, Anus and Druhyus) for a long period occupied a contiguous area from Haryana (and adjacent parts of western UP) to Central Asia. It was in this contiguous area (the secondary homeland) that most of the common features of the IE languages and culture developed, including names for items imported into that common culture from outside. 2. He fails again to distinguish between different chronological periods and jumbles them together in his arguments. 3. He demonstrates to the hilt that he has either not read my books at all, or else everything has just gone over his head.

An examination of the different arguments made by him here will demonstrate these three mistakes:

  1. The argument that the animal names common to the IE languages of India and Europe indicate a homeland in the steppes has long been discarded by serious scholars: these animals (cow, horse, goat, sheep, dog, wolf, fox, bear, etc) are found in both India as well as in Europe, so their presence in all the IE languages indicates absolutely nothing about the location of the original homeland. On the other hand (as pointed out by Gamkrelidze and Ivanov), certain other common names, not previously noted by earlier scholars, include common names for the elephant, ape and leopard, as well as for the camel (the Central Asian or Bactrian camel, not the Arabian one), which rules out the steppes and points towards India.

  2. The argument that "honey-harvesting/bee-keeping" was an occupation in the original homeland has also been discarded, since the IE languages have a common word for "honey" but no common word for "bee", indicating that honey was originally an import into the original homeland (i.e. into the secondary homeland in the northwest of India from its origins in the bee-keeping lands of West Asia and the Caucasus).

  3. The argument that the original homeland of the IE people must lie in the steppe homeland of the wild horse has also been sharply called into question (Blažek, etc) since the IE languages have a common word for the domesticated horse, but none for the wild horse; and this common word for the domesticated horse is also accepted as a word borrowed from a non-IE language. So the horse was clearly an import into the (secondary) homeland of the IE languages. Further, the idea that invading Aryans introduced the horse to indigenous Dravidian and Austric people is disproved by the fact that those languages have distinctive names for the horse completely unrelated to the IE words. As the evidence shows, the horse was a rare imported animal in the period of the Old Books of the Rigveda, which is why the ashvamedha of that period (not even called by that name then) merely had a horse being let loose into neighbouring areas to herald the imperialist activities of expansionist kings like Sudas. Horses became prolific only in the period of the New Books, when we find references to the slaughter of the sacrificial horse, the word ashvamedha, and the proliferance of new types of personal names with the elements "ashva" and "ratha".    

  4. The argument that "Both philogy and linguistics indicate that the ancestral Indo-Europeans likely practices an economy that had a major pastoral component... The pastoral component included cattle-rearing with the cow being an important cultural symbol or a holy animal or a sign of 'wealth'" is ironically right: no scholar will deny it. Ironically, since cattle are accepted to have been separately domesticated in two centres: in the Indus Valley and in Turkey, the two homeland locations rejected by this blogger, but not in the steppe region championed by him!

  5. The argument that "the Soma cult" shows that "Indo-Aryan and Iranian arose in a common milieu... suggesting a phase of shared development (proto-Indo-Iranian) distinct from other IE groups", and that this shared development took place in Central Asia (the home of ephedra or Soma) in a pre-Rigvedic period, again shows his inability to read or understand the evidence. In my book, I have shown, from the data in the Rigveda, that Soma was originally introduced to the Vedic Aryans (the Purus) by the priests of the proto-Iranians (i.e. the Bhrigus, originally the priests of the Anus) to their northwest, that Soma was a rare imported item from the northwest in the period of the Old Books and that the westward expansion of the Vedic Aryans (the Puru Bharatas) under Sudas in that period, on the direct testimony of the Rigveda, was partly in the quest for the source lands of Soma, and that it was only after this, in the period of the New Books, after the new geographical data in the Rigveda shows this expansion westwards into more northwestern areas, that Soma became temporarily a central part of Rigvedic ritual.

  6. The argument that "goat-rearing and sheep-rearing"was a part of the original proto-IE milieu"with the latter supplying wool from which garments were made" again indicates the same disdain for the evidence of the actual data. Wool is known in the Old Books of the Rigveda, but actual sheep and goats (along with the geographical areas of the northwest where they are found) appear only in the New Books of the Rigveda.
  7. Similarly the argument that "The early IE society was familiar with the birch tree and lived in place with cold winters during which it snowed" again shows this same disdain for the evidence. "winters" are certainly known in the Old Books of the Rigveda– but then winters are a feature of the climate even in South India. Ice and snow appear only in the New Books of the Rigveda after the Vedic expansion into the northwest, and birch trees appear only in post-Rigvedic texts!

  8. The argument that "Horse-drawn chariots with spoked-wheels were central elements of the culture" and that this indicates a steppe origin is a bit strange, since no linguist or philologist has ever suggested that the proto-IE people used such chariots in their original homeland. In the Rigveda, spokes are totally unknown in the Old Books, and first appear only in the New Books of the Rigveda!

Needless to say, "some agriculture", some particular "burial practice", the important role of grasses (and that too, grasses native to India) in religion, etc. have nothing to indicate about geographical origins in the steppe regions!

In short, if racist/casteist writers like this blogger were to take the trouble of examining the data and evidence, instead of sitting pompously in front of Agni chanting mantras and ruminating on the greatness of their wishfully "European" brahmin ancestors, they would be able to understand the facts better.

Author: Shrikant G Talageri

Published: May 11, 2016

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