Lokmanya Tilak's book called Arctic origin of the Vedas have caught up the interest of the research community. An article was published by a friend, an anthropologist in his website.
An exchange of my views with him on this topic is being shared in 2 posts. The first has been posted in his website which can be read here:-
Now begins the article:-
The author of the book "Arctic Home in the Vedas" is known in India only for his patriotism and not for his views in this book or in the other book, 'The Orion' in which he had misinterpreted the notion of Equinox of the Hindu astrological texts. The reason for the non-popularity of these books is just that they are not true. I am constrained to say that a book written 100 years ago, under the influence of Aryan invasion theory promoted by the likes of Max Muller has found a rebirth in this blog. The book and its contents are redundant and carry no value in the light of many new inventions that reassert the original history as told by Ramayana and Mahabharata.
I will write the scriptural views on the issues in a question- answer form.
- 1. Where did the Devas live?
In the regions where the day extends for 6 months and night for 6 months. Today such a condition exists near both the North and South poles. It depends on the tilt of the earth and other variables connected to the earth's path around the sun. There might have existed times when more parts of the Northern hemisphere experienced long days and nights – but not today, nor even in the recent 10,000 years.
Those who lived in the North were called Devas and those who lived in the South were called Asuras. Asura is the opposite of Sura which means illuminating. Sura is a synonym for Deva. Therefore Suras lived near North pole and Asuras lived near the South pole. However it is told in some places in Puranas that Devas had lived near the South pole also. It automatically presupposes that Asuras lived near the North pole at that time!
There is no way to ascertain the time period of these populations as there are no instances and inputs other than a mention of fights between the Devas and Asuras. Such fights are described as philosophical (as between light and darkness and between goodness and evil) than real. Where we can see them as real, the fights were described to have taken place near northern or southern regions of 6 month day / night where other beings of the world were not involved.
There is another kind of description in many Puranas of the fight between Devas and Asuras for Vedas! In all those instances the Asuras were described as having stolen the Vedas. Finally Brahma or Vishnu would have recovered the Vedas . This is allegorical to the present times according to people like me as we think that the Vedas have been stolen by non-Vedic people and mis-interpreted a lot thereby leading to a downfall in Vedic system. The Vedas must be restored to those who chant them in the prescribed methods and not dissected by those who have no idea of what Vedas stand for.
In the story of Deva-Asura fighting, the Vedas were restored to Devas; in practical terms, this refers to those people in the Northern Hemisphere who cherished Vedas in the way it must be cherished. Today such people are in India or they are the people related to Hindu Thought (wherever they may be) but not in the Arctic region.
- 2. Does it not mean that Devas – the people who inhabited the North pole once, were the custodians and originators of Vedas? Does this not mean that Vedas came from the North pole?
Today there are 4 branches of Vedas. These were made into 4 branches some 5000 years ago by Vyasa, who has authored Mahabharata. At that time 1000s of Vedas were in existence. Vyasa selected a few which he thought would be useful in the ensuing Age (kaliyuga) and compiled them into 4 categories. What we have today is these 4 compiled versions. The categorization does not follow any chronological order, meaning that some of them may be too old and others relatively of later origin. One does not know whether any of them were made by Devas of yore. Most of what we have are attributed to sages who lived in India in a discernable past.
The exception is Lopamudra who is connected to Uttarakuru ( a region south of Deva territory and north of Himalayas. Another exception is a Rik Vedic hymn of Puraravas on Urvashi, a dancer in Indra's court. This gives rise to a probability that there did exist hymns on or by beings of Uttar kuru or a region farther north of it, but they had become redundant by 5000 years ago.
In the period between 5000 to 10,000 years ago, people from the Indian mainland had travelled to the so-called Deva land which was mostly confined to Uttar kuru by then. But only elites / kings had the privilege to go there. By and large that region of Uttarkurur remained inaccessible to mankind in general - deliberately under the diktat of the inhabitants of Uttarkuru. That period was better known for pleasure life in Uttarkuru, thereby making me deduce that the Devas as told in Puaranas were not of that time but of a much older time – before the last glaciations set in. At that time they might have developed Vedas – (Vedas are conceived in meditation and not composed like poems) – but none of them exist today and none of it was transferred to the people in India. There was absolutely no connection between those beings of the Polar region and the people of India. So no question of migration from Arctic region to India.
- 3. Were Devas, Aryans?
No. Deva is a noun whereas Arya is an adjective. Nowhere in the Puranic scriptures, the Devas were ever described as Aryas or as having Aryan quality. They have erred on many occasions on sensory issues. The Devas were known for weakness in sex. The best among them is the one who would have overcome that weakness. Indra, their king himself had been accused of having seduced married women and have had intercourse with them. Ahalya of Ramayana was one such victim. This single issue of seducing other man's wife is non Aryan. Before explaining it let me tell how this word Arya is used in Hindu texts and in ancient Bharat.
The Aryan quality is basically defined as 'being noble' . Anyone can be an Aryan. Even a bird or an animal can become an Aryan. In Ramayana, the Monkey King, Vaali was described as an Aryan. His wife, Tara was described as Aryaa, the female word for Arya. Both Rama and Ravana have been mentioned as Aryans.
In Mahabharatha, the sage Viswamitra was chided by a person when he was caught red handed by him stealing the dog meat, as to why the sage gave up his Aryan nature. It happened in a time of severe famine when the sage was in the verge of dying from hunger. Stealing and eating meat and forbidden food were non- Aryan tendencies. Can the people living near the cold Polar Regions ever follow such a strict rule for Aryan-ness?
Aryan-ness means not doing forbidden things. The Pandavas called themselves Anarya,
(The opposite of Arya is not Dravida, it is Anarya.) when they killed their teacher in
the war. Killing the teacher, a woman, father, mother and cow are considered as
heinous crimes from which one can not get any salvation. You will find this mentioned
in most of the 1000s of stone inscriptions written until a century ago and unearthed in
many places in India. The one who indulges in even one of them will be considered
Now let us take a brief look at the location of Aryavartha. The region to the north of Vindhyas and south of Himalayas, from Saraswathy in the West to Ganges in the East was called as Arya vartha (the place where Aryan-ness sprouts).
This description of Aryavartha or the land of Arya is not found with reference to any other region of the world.
In the above illustration, the extent of Aryavartha is shown. What Max Muller and others saw as Aryan – Dravidian war was actually a war for the throne among 5 siblings. Their father Yayati, who was connected to Rama's lineage as per Valmiki Ramayana, and who lived a few generations before Rama wanted to give his kingdom to his youngest son Puru. This angered the other sons who went on war with Puru to get the kingdom for themselves. In the end, Anu and Druhyu were defeated and sent out of Aryavartha. Ahura Mazda came in the lineage of Anu!
Puru retained the kingdom which was on the banks of river Sarasvathy. The river is shown as a blue line in the picture. Other brothers Yadu and Turvasu went to today's Gujarat and Bengal respectively and founded their own kingdoms. Krishna came in the lineage of Yadu and therefore called as Yadava. This is the real story of Aryavartha and Aryas.
But Aryan-ness as a quality has survived across India among various people. It was very much the soul of Tamils of Tamilnadu. In the Tamil text Silappadhikaram of 2nd century AD, there comes mention of 'Aryaangana' – a feminine word for Arya that describes a woman who renounces worldly pleasures even while she lives with her husband. Such women were worshiped as deities after their death. There are hundreds of temples of such Aryanganas called as Esakki amman in Tamilnadu even today.
Now coming to the issue of Aryan-ness in the context of women (told in the first para of this part), it is Anarya to violate the modesty of a married woman or an unwilling woman. When Dushasana disrobed Darupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, he was called as Anarya.
Ravana could not be fixed on any count but only when he kidnapped the already married Sita. Even then the anarya deed was not said to be done until he lifted her up by her hair after killing Jatayu, the bird who challenged him for taking away Sita. In the Aryan custom, the woman's hair is supposed to be a sacred symbol of modesty and of married status. When Ravana touched it, it was considered as a fit cause for Rama to finish Ravana – so says Valmiki Ramayana.
The rationale is that a person should respect another man's wife and not violate her modesty. If he does that, it is Anaryam. Devas and more importantly Indra had indulged in such Anarya deeds. That is why we do not have a reference to Devas as Aryas in Hindu texts.
The ultimate meaning of Aryan-ness is maintaining one's balance in any situation. This is expressed in many ways by Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Not being perturbed by happiness and sadness, by profits and losses, by successes and failures etc is what makes one Arya. This can be best understood by a traditional dance form in India which is called as Arya- dance in Tamilnadu! (of all the places).
This is nothing but balancing a walk on a rope and dancing to the beats of a drum.