The main thrust in the arguments of Witzel for Aryan invasion / migration from outside India is based on the linguistic evidence of Vedic deities mentioned in the Hittite- Mitanni treaty and Kikkuli’s manual for horse-training found in Mitanni. The former is just about four names of gods while the latter seems to contain Sanskrit-based words. We will analyse them one by one.
The names of four Vedic deities appear in two treaties, but they were not written in the native Hurrian language of Mitanni. This raises a question on what basis Witzel has linked them with Mitanni. The names were not written in Mitanni or Hurrian language, nor were they mentioned as Mitanni Gods.
In his paper on Autochthonous Aryans, Wizel gives a scenario of who could have taken forward the Indo-Aryan culture:
“..tribes that were influenced and/or pushed forward in front of them*, such as the Mitanni and Kassites in Mesopotamia and the Hyksos in Egypt; or, simply, neighboring local tribes that early on adopted Indo-Aryan material culture.” (2001: 26)
What is the evidence he is giving to prove that Mitanni tribes were the carriers of Indo-Aryan culture? The material evidence of an archaeological finding of a chariot with spoked wheel and horses – that he is frequently talking about is yet to be discovered in those regions. On the linguistic side he is relying on the names of four Vedic gods in the treaties as a ‘superstrate’ of Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) language.
If these four names can be considered as proof of Indo-Aryan or pre-Vedic superstrate in Mitanni, let me ask what he has got to say for the following words in the Mitanni language.
For father, the Mitanni word is ‘attai’. It is similar to ‘atthan’ in Tamil.
It is ‘andi’ for ‘that’ in Mitanni. It is ‘adu’ in Tamil – almost similar.
For ‘not’, Mitanni word is ‘alla’ – like in ‘mann-ukk-alla’ which means ‘they are not’.
Words ‘alla’ and ‘illa’ are in Kannada and Tamil to denote ‘not’.
I spotted three Dravidian words (above) in Mitanni vocabulary. Can I claim that this is proof of Dravidian superstrate in Mitanni? If someone comes up with a claim that this is proof of Dravidian origin outside India and from Europe, I will give them a list of words of Dravidian origin from Africa, Polynesia, Melanesia and South America. What justification is there for those words to have gone over there, all the way from Northern Europe? More plausible explanation can be that India was the incubator for ancient culture and languages as well – from which dispersal had taken place all around. Witzel’s oft-repeated pet idea of Occam’s razor applies here.
Language of the treaties.
Coming back to the language of the treaties, as many as eight languages were in use in the regions of northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia during the period under consideration (middle of 2nd millennium BCE). They were Hittite (Nesili), native Hattian, Mitanni, native Hurrian, Akkadian, Luwian, Palaic and Sumerian. Researchers have found a pattern in the use of these languages in the cuneiform tablets. Nesili Hittite was used in trade pacts between merchants of Assyria and Hatti. Akkadian was used in international treaties. The Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty (Hittite-Mitanni treaty) is found in these two languages only. But the Mitanni Hurrian is found only in non-official texts which do not bear the four Vedic names. Texts in native Hurrian were found in the region even before the rise of Hittites, but none of them bear the names of Vedic Gods.
The presence of so many languages in existence at the same place, at same time period and for different purposes shows one thing – that there was movement of people or interaction among people from different places and backgrounds. Cuneiform tablets in multi lingual texts are proof of presence of people of different languages for whom those tablets were created. A major cause for this presence could only be trade which brings people from far and wide. With them their culture and the Gods they worshiped are also transported to the new lands – however short their period of stay may be. The proof of this comes from the list of Gods that were called as witnesses and also protectors.
Gods of the treaties.
The list of Gods found in the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty (Appendix-1) shows a complete collection of all gods that they have heard but not necessarily worshiped. The treaty being concluded by the king of Hatti and the king of Mitanni, one can expect their Gods taking centre stage – something we see in the treaty. Shamash was the God of Hittites and Teshub was the God of Hurrians (Mitanni). Copies of the treaty were placed in front of these deities only in Hatti and Mitanni respectively but not in front of or by invoking the Vedic Gods or any other Gods. If as Witzel says in ‘The home of the Aryans’, “We can only state that some of them suddenly appear as a superstrate in the Mitanni realm..”, this treaty made in the year 1380 BCE is proof enough that Indo-Aryan was not at all a superstrate in Mitanni.
The 130 names of Gods found in this treaty include Gods of regions outside Hatti and Mitanni. Names such as Sin are Ashur came from outside their regions. The list includes the Gods of enemies too, such as Irrites. There is a long list of Teshub Gods of Mitanni but none of them are associated with the Vedic Gods. There is also no way to establish which of the Gods found in the treaty were from Hatti or Mitanni. If association of Teshub indicates Mitannian origin of the Gods, there is no such association with the Vedic Gods that appear in the list.
The Vedic Gods appear after Sumerian Gods such as Anu, Antum, Enlil and Ninlil (to be referred as Anu et al). In the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty, Anu et alappear twice in the same list giving rise to the opinion that there were two sets of Anu et al Gods – though there is no known source of evidence to support this. Basically Anu et al were Sumerian Gods, but among them Anu underwent change in Hittite myths. Anu’s son Kumarbi bit off Anu’s genitals and banished him to underworld along with old Gods. This gives an impression that the Sumerian pantheon was replaced by a new set of Gods by Hittites. But the myth goes on further.
The swallowed genitals gave rise to the birth of Teshub (Mitanni God) by Kumarbi who in turn was banished by Teshub. This explains why Kumarbi is not found in the list. But Teshub turns out to be a later creation after Anu. Teshub remains as a God of a variety of things such as trade, camp, relief and mounds (applicable to transiting merchants) and also some names of unknown entities. But there is no explanation for why the same group of Anu et al appears again in the same treaty. This kind of repetition questions the rationale and reliability of taking as evidence the names found in the treaty for pre-Aryan presence in this region.
The Vedic gods appear after Anu et al in both the treaties – in the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty and the treaty between Mattiuaza and sons of Harri. The second treaty was concluded between the claimants of Mitanni Kingdom and so it is logical to expect the names of Mitanni Gods. But the list of 39 Gods appearing in this treaty (Appendix-2) once again looks like a combination of all Gods in and around the region. Where we expect only Teshub of many entities, we are seeing Samash (Hittite) Sin, Anu, Antum, Enlil, Ninlil and the Vedic Gods (Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Nasatya). As the first six are accepted as gods of their respective lands, what prevents Witzel and others from accepting the Vedic Gods as having originated in India?The answer is simple – they need a proof for AIT!
If they need a proof for AIT, there is a stronger proof found in Mitanni. It is the God Teshub before whom the tablet of the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty was placed. The following image is that of Teshub of Mitanni.
Teshub is holding an axe in one hand and a triple thunderbolt in the other. The bull is sacred to him.
This description is exactly that of God Shiva. Axe and trident (Trishul) are the weapons of Shiva. What researchers call as triple thunderbolt in this image is actually a trident. The bull is the associated with Shiva. The myth of Kumarbi biting and swallowing his genitals also conveys a parallel with Shiva. Shiva is depicted as a phallus and Kumar was his son in the Indic traditions. Why don’t Witzel and his ilk show this as a proof of pre-Aryan presence in Mitanni? The fact is that it is more logical to interpret the concept of this image as having gone from India to Mitanni than the other way round. Witzel’s Occam’s razor applies here also.
Teshub and Trishul sound similar. Particularly in Pāli language trishul is known as ‘tisūl’. Sanskrit tri becomes ti in Pali. From Trishul > Tishul > Teshul> Teshub. The b suffix is Mitanni addition as seen in Kumarbi.
Connection with Pali is not out of place here as there is a region called Pala to the north west of Hatti. The language of Pala was Palaic which is found in some cuneiform tablets of Hatti. One of the Vedic Gods mentioned as “Uruwan- ashshil” and “Arunashshil” in the treaties are closer to Palaic name for sea than with Sanskrit varuna. It is ‘a-ru-na’ for sea in Pala (Palaic) language.* So it is more logical to relate Varuna in the group of Vedic deities to Palaic people than with Mitanni.
Shiva in Mitanni and Varuna in Pala – these are very good inputs for Witzel to prove Aryan migration from this part of the world to India. Why is he not doing?