Monday, December 6, 2010

'How deep are roots of Indian Civilization?' -- Extracts from the Seminar speeches

Abstracts of Speakers International Seminar on "How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? An Archaeological and Historical Perspective" -- Vivekananda Intl. Foundation, Nov. 25 - 27, 2010

International Seminar at VIF

Keynote Address delivered 


Professor B. B. Lal

(Former Director General, Archaeological Survey of India)

For quite some time a series of postulates have been distorting our vision of India's past. Some of these are:

1. The Vedas are no older than 1200 BCE and the Vedic people were nomads.

2. The authors of the Harappan Civilization, ascribable to the 3rd millennium BCE, were a Dravidian-speaking people.

This civilization was destroyed by Aryan invaders and thereby became extinct.

3. When it was demonstrated that there was no 'Aryan Invasion', another theory was floated, namely that the Aryans were immigrants from the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex of Central Asia.

Recent excavations at a number of sites in Rajasthan, Haryana, Panjab and Gujarat and a fresh study of the Vedic texts have demonstrated that all the above postulates are ill-founded. We now know for certain that -

1. The Rigveda is much older than 2000 BCE. A close scrutiny of the text clearly demonstrates that the Rigvedic people were not nomads.

2. The Rigvedic domain and the area occupied by the Harappan Civilization were co-terminus and that the Vedas and this civilization are but two faces of the same coin.

3. The Harappan Civilization did not become extinct. On the other hand, many of its features are noticeable even today.

4. The roots of the Harappan Civilization, on the basis of C-14 dating, go back to the 5th millennium BCE, if not earlier.

Thus, the Harappan/Vedic people were indigenous and not invaders or immigrants.
5. Further, archaeological and literary evidences combine to show that a section of the Vedic people emigrated to as far west as Turkey, via Iran, some time at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE.

About Professor B.B. Lal

Born in 1921 and educated at the University of Allahabad and Institute of Archaeology, London, Professor B. B. Lal was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1968-72. His excavations at sites associated with the Mahabharata and Ramayana have shown that there was a kernel of truth in these epics, in spite of the fact that these have witnessed heavy interpolations. The excavation at Kalibagan has added many new dimensions to our knowledge of the Harappan Civilization. Professor Lal has published over hundred seminal papers in renowned research journals in India, USA, UK, Italy, France, etc. and over a dozen books, the latest being How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology Answers, on which is focused the current seminar. Realizing the importance of Professor Lal's researches, the Institute of Archaeology, St. Petersberg, Russia, has conferred on him an honorary D. Litt., while the President of India has honored him with Padma Bhushan. Abstracts-of-Speakers- International-Seminar%20 default/files/Abstract_22_11_ 10.pdf Abstracts of presentations

Dr. B. B. Lal 2
Dr. J.R. Sharma, CAZRI  2 - 3
Prof. Shiva Bajpai 4 - 5 
Dr. R.S. Bisht 5 
Dr. Michel Danino 5 - 6
Prof. Maurizio Tosi  6
Dr. Jitendra Nath  7
Prof. N. Kazanas 7 - 9
 Prof. Jim G. Shaffer  9 - 10
Dr. Bhagwan Singh 10 - 11
Prof. Nilofar Shaikh 11
Pro. V.H. Sonawane 12 
Dr. A.K. Sharma  12 - 13
Dr. Nandini Sahu 13
Dr. K.N. Dikshit 13 - 14 
Dr. B.R. Mani  14 - 15
Prof. Purushottam Singh  15 - 19
Dr. D.K. Chakraborty 20 - 21
Prof. Nayanjot Lahiri 21
Dr. S Kalyanraman 21
Maj. Gen. G.D. Bakshi 22
Dr. Veena Datta 22 - 23 
Dr. Bhuwan Vikram 23 - 29 2
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The collapse of the Aryan Invasion Theory

N. Kazanas, August 2010

The AIT started in late 18th and early 19th centuries as an explanation of the caste system. Thus various European scholars postulated an invasion from non-Indic people (Egyptian or Mesopotamian) who conquered the natives: the invaders (with a strong priestly class) became the two upper castes and the natives the two lower ones (vaishyas and shûdras). This was refined and turned into a linguistic matter after Jones made his speech about the relation between Sanskrit, Greek, Latin etc. The invaders became IE and so was formed a general theory of Aryan or IE invasions to account for the Greek, Italic, Germanic people and so on, in their historical habitats.In mid-nineteenth cent. Max Müller turned the Theory into an entirely linguistic affair. He postulated certain dates for the composition of Indic literature and these became fixed in the minds of indologists. Thereafter, all linguistic refinements for  the  IE  tongues  (Hittite, Greek, Baltic, Slavic etc) were worked out on  this model, namely  that  there was a PIE language which mainly  through migrations  and  invasions  spread  from  an  unspecified  centre  (but  not  India)  and developed into the present different IE language including Old Indic (=Vedic Sanskrit) and Iranian (=Avestan and Old Persian).

At the turn of the 19th to the 20th centuries this view was turned by Europeans  (later the Nazis) into a thoroughly racial affair ascribing to themselves superiority. This racial doctrine has now been abandoned and we have only the linguistic one.

In the 1920s were made the first important discoveries of the ancient Indus Valley or Harappan civilisation. This should have alerted indologists to the possibility that a large part of the Vedic literature was composed by this civilisation which I shall call hereafter the Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation or ISC in short, since most settlements were unearthed on or along the old Sarasvati river. This did not happen. Instead, indologists (mainly sanskritists) found in the ruins of this civilisation evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded and destroyed these cities just as the Rgveda says, according to their own interpretation, that Indra, the chief god of the conquerors destroyed the enemy purs 'towns, forts'. So a big paradox remained: on the one hand, there was Vedic Literature (a vast corpus) without any other cultural (=archaeological) remains  to  support  it;  on  the  other,  a  large  culture  unearthed  by  archaeologists  but without  literature  despite  its knowledge of writing!

However, in the 1960's it was established by archaeologists that there had been no invasion , no wars, no violence, and that those towns had fallen into ruination because of natural causes, such as earthquakes which diverted the waters of some rivers and thus caused desiccation on a large scale. But the linguists persisted in their doctrine and the invasion became now "immigration". But this produced now a second big paradox, i.e. the aryanisation of this vast area where toponymics (=names of rivers, mountains etc) are Aryan (=Sanskritic), not Dravidian or names from another language: small waves of  immigrants, according  to  linguists, produced  the SJ &  IA C 2 aryanisation of a country which only invasion, conquest and coercion could have effected!

Any impartial study of the facts, archaeological and linguistic, shows that there is no evidence of any kind to support the so called "waves of immigrations".

(a) Anthropological evidence (cranial and skeletal) shows that there was no demographic disruption down to c 600, except perhaps for the period 6000-4500.

(b) Genetical studies now show that there was no inflow of genes into the Indian subcontinent prior to c 600. On the contrary there was flow of genes out of India and into the north-western regions.

Max Müller's dating of the Vedic Literature is based on fictions and has no basis whatever in reality.

The  so-called  linguistic  evidence  (i.e.  isoglosses,  loan-words  etc)  can  be,  and  have  been,  shown  to  require  no immigration. One eminent  linguist at  least demonstrated  that  the original homeland  is Bactria which  is adjacent  to Saptasindhu, the Land of the Seven Rivers (=N-W India and Pakistan).

Positing Saptasindhu as the original homeland not only does not create problems but, on the contrary, dissolves all difficulties.

For instance:

(a) Vedic alone has dhâtus and on the whole invariable principles in generating verbs and their conjugations and nouns and their declensions etc.

(b) Vedic has both augmented Aorist (=past tense) like á-dhât and an augmented dhât from √dhâ put'. Germanic has only anaugmented and Greek only augmented.

(c) Vedic poetry has both  strict metre  and  alliteration whereas Greek  and  Latin  have  only metrical  verses  and Germanic  poetry  has alliterative lines only without strict metre.

(d) No two IE cultures ( e.g. Baltic, Celtic, Germanic etc) have any IE theonyms (=names of deities)  to  the exclusion of Vedic. On  the other hand, Vedic has 20  theonyms of which Greek has , Germanic 8, Italic (=Latin) and Celtic 6 and the others even less.

It  is agreed by all,  including Western  invasionists  like Witzel,  that  the Rigveda hymns were composed around  the Sarasvati area. But while  they give a date of composition c 1200-1000,  the available  literary, anthropological and archaeological evidences indicate a date before 3500. Here I summarise broadly the most important points.

1. The Brhadâranyaka Upanisad has a list of 60 teachers. If we allow 15 years for each one, we obtain a period of 900 years. If the BU is of 600 BC, as the AIT scenario wants, the list takes as back to 1500. But none of the 60 teachers nor the doctrine 'Atman is Brahman' or 'I am Brahman' appear in the RV; the doctrine appears in the Atharva Veda in an approximate form. Given that the RV is linguistically many centuries earlier than the BU, the RVmust be put at least 500-600 earlier, i.e. before 2000!

2.  Linguistically  the  RV is  many  centuries  older  than  the  Brâhmanas and  the  Mahâbhârata.  Palaeoastronomy (astrophysicist N. Achar) has shown that astronomical references in the Shatapatha Brâhmana are true for the date 3000-2950. Several astronomical references in the epic are true for 3100-3000! Thus the RVmust be from about 3500 and before.

3. The Rgveda does not have many features that characterise the ISC and appear only later in post-rigvedic texts.

Thus there are NOT–

(a) istakâ the brick, mostly of raw mud, sometimes baked. This was one of the main construction materials in the Early ISC starting at about 3500. Prior to this houses were fashioned of wood with wattle-and-daub, as described in the RV;

(b) larger urban settlements in the RVas we find them in the ISC;

(c) fixed altars or hearths as described in the Yajur Veda and the Brâhmanas;

(d) ruins or ruined towns;

(e) cotton karpâsa;

(f)silver rajata;(g) rice vrîhi;

(h) literacy 'lipi, lekha(-na)';

(i) artistic iconography (sculpture, relief, seals).

Bricks are mentioned first in Yajur Veda and extensively in the Brâhmanas. Silver appears as rajata-hiranya in the Yajur Veda; rice vrîhi in the Atharva Veda; cotton karpâsa, first in Baudhâyana's Sûtras; and so on.

4. The river Sarasvatî is praised as a mighty and all nourishing river in all the Books or the RV except the fourth. Even in late hymns such as 8.21 or 10.64 and 10.177 Sarasvatî is said to give wealth and nourishment and the poets invoke her as «great». In 6.52 Sarasvatî is «swollen by other (three or more) rivers»; in 6.61 she is endless, swift-moving, most dear among her sisters and nourishing the five tribes of the Vedic people; in 2.41.16 Sarasvatî is «best river, best mother, best goddess»; in 7.95.2 this mighty river «flows pure from the mountains to the ocean».

The river dried up around 1900 BCE. So the RV is referring to a condition long before the end of the river. Archaeologists and palaeohydrologists say that Sarasvatî flowed from the Himalayas to the ocean (in the Rann of Kutch) before 3800 BCE. Satellite photos and other analyses confirm now the route of the river from the mountain to the ocean. After this period some of the rivers feeding the Sarasvatî were, due to tectonic shifts, captured by other rivers (eg the Indus and the Ganges) and so this once mighty river weakened and began to dry up reaching its final desiccation c 1900 BCE.

Consequently the RV, or at least all those hymns that praise Sarasvatî were composed before 3600 possibly before 4000. This date agrees with the building materials and techniques (the pre-brick phase) of the very early Harappan culture, as established by archaeologists and as described in RV.

Conclusion:  If  the bulk of several hymns of  the RV were composed c 4000-3600  the  Indoaryans using  the Vedic language were settled  in Saptasindhu at  that period.Whatever else might have happened before  that period,  the Indoaryans were by 1700 BCE thoroughly indigenous.

About  Prof. Nicholas Kazanas

Nicholas Kazanas was born in Greece in 1939. He studied English Literature at University College, Economics and Philosophy at the School of Economic Science and Sanskrit at theSchool of Oriental and African studies – all in London; also post-graduate at SOAS and at Deccan College in Pune. Prof. Kazanas taught in London and Athens and since 1980 has been Director of Omilos Meleton Cultural Institute. In Greece he has published treatises of social, economic and philosophical interest. He has many publications in Western and Indian Journals and some books. He is on the Editorial Board of Adyar Library Bulettin (Chennai). He has participated in international Conferences in London, in the USA and in India. From 1997 he has turned towards the Vedic Tradition and its place in the wider Indo-European culture. This research comprises thorough examination of Indo-European cultures, comparing their philosophical ideas and values, their languages, mythological issues and religions.


The Battle for Ancient India

Dilip K Chakrabarti, Emeritus professor of South Asian Archaeology, Cambridge University

For more than two decades, the politics of the past has been an important part of the theoretical literature of archaeology and ancient studies, although, apart from two books by the present author and some papers both by him and others, India does not figure in this literature. The purpose of the present paper is to outline how and why the study of ancient India  including  its  archaeology  has  come  to  be  related  to  different  power  structures  and  ideologies which  have dominated the Indian scene from the beginning of the British rule to the present period.

But there are also people to whom the idea of a spiritually rich India is redolent of an unacceptably Hindu India. From this point of view , the Sarasvati  has to be argued as a mythical river and Hinduism has to be interpreted as a phenomenon which developed only  after  the Aryans  came to India. From this perspective, Hinduism is as much native to the Indian soil as Islam and Christianity are. All of them came with the influx of new people, the Aryans in the case of the Hindus, the Muslims in the case of Islam and the Europeans in the case of Christianity. The idea of continuity of the Indian civilization does not suit the beliefs of this group of people.

Within this primary frame, there are various shades of opinions regarding various fields. The first is the unqualified acceptance of the idea of correlation between race, language and culture, of which the Aryans, Dravidians, etc. are logical offshoots. This led to the concept of the Aryan rule of India on the one hand and the genesis and persistence of the Dravidian movement on the other. These concepts have many ramifications  and  deserve  detailed discussions exposing their hollowness. If the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu has assumed a form in which scholars extolling the virtues of Tamil civilization are handsomely rewarded,  the  Aryanists  in Tamil Nadu refuse to dissociate the origins of the Tamil civilization from the perceived migrations from the north. When a scholar of the stature of I.Mahadevan refuses to take the date of the earliest Brahmi inscriptions in Tamil Nadu earlier than the third century BC, even though in the neighbouring Sri Lanka they date from the mid-5 century BC and the archaeological sequence at sites like Kodumanal takes the Brahmi-inscribed sherds to c.500 BC, the most charitable explanation I can offer is that to Tamilians of higher castes, the idea of an early literate Tamil antiquity is not particularly acceptable.

The terms like the Aryans, Dravidians, etc. are still freely used in Indian archaeology with unhappy implications.  B.B.Lal, for instance, puts the 'Aryan  homeland'  in  India  whereas to those familiar with the concerned literature behind the Aryan idea, this Aryan idea is nothing but a racist myth and should be discarded forthwith. On the other hand, there is no lack  of  attempts in recent times  to seek the Aryans  in such places as Bactria or the southern part of Siberia.

The  second  sub-area of dispute is the extent to which the different technological elements like food-production, metallurgy, etc.  are  the  results  of  diffusionary  spreads or indigenous developments. At almost every stage of the Indus civilization we have encountered such disputes, including those about its chronology, and in a later context, still there are people unwilling to accept an early   date   for the beginning of iron in India.

A detailed item by item discussion on these and other issues is beyond the scope of the present paper, but it may be useful if we remember the contexts which have given rise to them. Finally, it is worth remembering that the study of ancient India still suffers from certain basic infra-structural problems such as the absence of a national level laboratory devoted to various kinds of dating and other scientific and technical analyses of archaeological objects. It would also be nice if the concerned archaeologists could publish their findings without waiting for their retirements.

About Prof. Dilip K Chakrabarti

Dilip K Chakrabarti is Emeritus Professor of South Asian Archaeology at Cambridge University. He has authored books, besides editing 5 volumes and authoring about 200 articles, notes and reviews. He was awarded Hony. D.Litt by M.J.P. University, Bareilly, and S.C.Chakrabarti medal of the Asiatic Society, Kolkata. He received the Ranade book-2021prize of the Indian Archaeological Society for his book " The Oxford Companion to Indian Archaeology" (2006). His most recent books are "The Ancient Routes of the Deccan and the Southern Peninsula" (Delhi 2010 : Aryan Books) and " The Geopolitical Orbits of Ancient India" (Delhi 2010: OUP). His forthcoming book is " Royal Messages by the Wayside : Historical Geography of the Asokan Edicts" (Delhi 2011 : Aryan Books).


Decrypting Indus Valley Script: what it means to the Study of Indian Civilization

S. Kalyanraman

Languages of present-day  India can be explained  from a common source. The  Indus Script Cipher (2010) by S. Kalyanaraman, is premised on India as a linguistic area. Thus a list of lexemes common to all major language families of India is compiled surmising them to be derived from the common semantic -- and hence, cultural -- pool. Language is but a social contract in a cultural continuum of a civilizational area. Hopefully, the next generation of scholars will not have to repeat the refrain: "The Indus Script has not been deciphered so far…" The rebus decryption of the script occurs by matching glyptic elements of hieroglyphs of the script with homonyms from the list of lexemes. The decryption identifies a set of homonyms, all of which are related to the repertoire of stone-workers (lapidaries) and the glyphs used in their writing system. This work, evidencing the language union (sprachbund) contributes to historical studies emphasizing the essential cultural continuum  from  the days of  Indus Valley  (Sarasvati-Sindhu) civilization  into  India's historical periods.

About Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman is Director, Sarasvati Research Centre, President, Ramasetu Protection Movement and BoD member of World Association of Vedic Studies. His research interests are: Vedic Sarasvati River and Hindu civilization, decrypting Indus Script, National Water Grid and creation of Indian Ocean Community. He was a senior financial and IT executive  in Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines and  in  Indian Railways. His publications  include:  Indian Lexicon -- a multilingual dictionary of over 25 ancient Indian languages, Sarasvati in 11 volumes, Indian Alchemy -- Soma in the Veda, Indus Script Cipher. He is a recipient of many awards including Vakankar Award, Hedgewar Prajna Samman and Sivananda Eminent Citizen Award. website: kalyan97

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