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Aryan Invasion/Migration


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The claim that Aryans were indigenous to India has no scientific and scholarly backing.  In this section we provide some responses to (i) frequent misconceptions spread by Hindutva groups, (ii) a summary of what recent archeogenetics research has to say in regards to the Aryan Migration Theory, with abstracts from leading scientific journals, and (iii) a list of scholarly resources for further study.




Frequently asked questions


1. Isn’t it true that the Aryan Invasion Theory has been disproved?  There is no evidence of invasions taking place, and the whole theory is based on flaky linguistic theories.

2. What about the genetic evidence that conclusively proves that the Aryans are indigenous to India?

3.
Isn’t it true that the Aryan Invasion/ Migration Theory is a racist idea and undermines the importance of India by suggesting that Hinduism originated elsewhere?




1. Isn’t it true that the Aryans Invasion Theory has been disproved?  There is no evidence of invasions taking place, and the whole theory is based on flaky linguistic theories.

The Aryan Invasion Theory has many variants. The Aryan Invasion Theory advocating a purely racial “invasion” proposed by Max Mueller has been questioned by many, including the noted historian, Romila Thapar, in the 1960s. The contemporary theory of Aryan origin corroborates data and evidences from over two dozen different fields of study and demonstrate a pattern of cultural, social and linguistic migration/domination/invasion of  people speaking the Indo-European languages from Central Asia into India. This theory about the Aryan origin, which is currently the most authoritative theory among historians, does not state that the Aryans were an indigenous people. For details see: "The Aryan Question Revisited", by Romila Thapar at http://members.tripod.com/ascjnu/aryan.html  .

The Hindutva groups are misleading the masses by criticizing Max Mueller’s Aryan Invasion Theory (which is already discredited) and cleverly, falsely and deviously claiming that Michael Witzel and others (including Romila Thapar) are supporting Max Mueller’s theory. In fact, under the cover of criticizing Max Mueller, the self -styled Hindutva historians [most of whom are engineers and businessmen] are promoting a theory that Aryans did not migrate from Central Asia but were the original inhabitants of India. This theory has been propped up as a propaganda item on numerous websites and is discussed as a community specific truth within the Hindutva circles. It holds no currency within established historical scholarship.

The main agenda of promoting this theory is ideological and political. For those concerned with a Hindutva ideology, the invasion has to be denied. The definition of a Hindu as given by Savarkar (a fascist ideologue of the RSS) was that India had to be his pitribhumi (ancestral land) and his punyabhumi (the land of his religion). A Hindu therefore could not be descended from alien invaders. Since Hindus sought a lineal descent from the Aryans, and a cultural heritage, the Aryans had to be indigenous. This definition of the Hindu excluded Muslims and Christians from being indigenous since their religion did not originate in India. Hence the basis of Hindutva ideology.



2. What about the genetic evidence that conclusively proves that the Aryans are indigenous to India?


For every one paper using population genetics that claims that Aryans are indigenous to India, there are multiple others that show just the opposite . We, however, would like to point out that this method simply does not have the temporal resolution to address questions about population movements in the time period that we are looking at.  The error bars on these papers are in kiloyears (1000 years) and hence cannot authoritatively suggest anything about the question of the origin of Aryans in the time frame of 3000 or so years ago, and are useful only for determining the movements of people in pre-historic periods.
For a more in-depth discussion, visit our page summarizing  recent findings in Archaeogenetics.


3. Isn’t it true that the Aryan Invasion/ Migration Theory is a racist idea and undermines the importance of India by suggesting that Hinduism originated elsewhere?


The original Aryan Invasion Theory does have a colonial geneology and was largely a product of eighteenth and nineteenth century Orientalist scholarship, which was true of most historical research done at that period.

However, to call the contemporary theory of influx/ migration ‘racist’ is outrageous. Such serious charges should only be levied when followed with strong arguments, and the only argument that the Hindutva groups have offered so far is the race of *a few* scholars proposing it.  First of all, many well-respected scholars in India have also done extensive work to further develop the current theories-- Romila Thapar, DN Jha and Shireen Ratnagar to name a few.  And also, there are quite a few White “historians” who have also championed the theory that Aryans are indigenous (Koenraad Elst, Michel Danino, David Frawley—though, the last two really cannot be called historians!)
 
But more importantly, the race of the scholars proposing a theory by itself has little to do with the suggestion that the theory in itself is racist.  It is racist only if it furthers a certain agenda of promoting the interests of one race over another in order to maintain superiority.  But, how does the place of origin of Aryans provide *any* superiority to *any* race?  It does so, *only* if the lens through which you are looking at history has already been distorted by Hindutva—if you believe that peoples who can trace their geneology all the way to India have somehow more claims to its citizenship, than others whose geneologies can be traced to areas outside the current-political boundaries.  While this is a dangerous idea to promote anywhere, we note that as South Asian Americans practicising religions of faraway lands in the US, we MUST reject this notion entirely and with vehemence.


 







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