Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mitanni- Hittite Treaty – a proof of Aryan Invasion / Migration? (Part 1)

 The Mitanni- Hittite peace treaty of c.1380 BCE is seen by Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) proponents as an external evidence for Aryans before entering India.

In his paper “Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parameters”, Michael Witzel (1995:15) says, “Although the internal stratification of the Vedic corpus is clear, absolute dates are difficult to establish (cf. Mylius 1970; Rau 1983). There is only external evidence, such as the Mitanni treaty of c. 1380 B.C., mentioning major Rig vedic deities (Indra, Mitra, Varuna and the Nasatyas; [Mitanni-IA is linguistically slightly older than 1400 BCE])..”

In page 29 of the same paper, he says, “Our starting point on linguistic grounds must remain the presence of a branch of Indo-Aryans in Northern Mesopotamia before c. 1380 B.C., names of whose deities - Varuna, Mitra, Indra and Nasatya (Aśvin) - have come down to us in a Mitanni-Hittite agreement.”

Witzel is banking only these four names as a proof of pre-Aryan presence outside India before the so-called Vedic Age started in India. To support this he changes the words of the treaty (& other sources) wherever possible to make it to sound like a Sanskrit word. For example he thinks that the Indo-Iranian ‘zdh’ became ‘edh’ in Vedic Sanskrit (2001:65) but turns a Nelson’s eye when it comes to the letters clinging to Mitra, Varuna etc in the treaty.

The issue of correct translation.

The names of the Vedic deities do not appear as they are in the Vedas.

In the translation of the Luckenbill (1921) (the first one to have translated the treaty by working on the earliest translation done in parts by Winckler in 1907) the names appear as follows:

 the gods Mitrashshil,
the gods Uruwan- ashshil,
the god Indar,
the gods Nashatianna

The same names appear in another part of the treaty that describes a struggle between Shuttarna, son of Artatama, and Mattiuaza, son of Tushratta, for the kingship of Mitanni as follows:

the gods Mitrashshil,
the gods Arunashshil,
the god Indara,
the gods Nashatianna.

One can notice that Luckenbill uses the plural term for all the names except Indra.
What is interpreted as Varuna has a variation in the two contexts as ‘Uruwan- ashshil’ and ‘Arunashshil’. But both treaties were signed in the period of the same Mitanni king. Then is it a scribal error or were they different deities? One sounds like Varuna  and the other like Aruna, meaning the Sun. This meaning is feasible given the fact that the Hittite king called himself as Sun in the treaty.

But Witzel takes them only as Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Nasatyas.

Let’s take a look at Witzel’s translation.

Transcription of cuneiform
a-ru-na, ú-ru-wa-na
in-tar, in-da-ra
(taken from Wikipedia article here)

One can see that he has left out the last letters of the names, but he does not take such liberties with words when it comes to using them to show that Mitanni was pre-Vedic. He used to stick to even a single letter to prove his point.

He is also silent on the plural names for Mitra and Varuna. Are there many gods of Mitra and Varuna in the Vedic culture?

Nasatyas are plural because they refer to Asvins. Indra is singular but what is his take on ‘Gods’ of Mitra and Varuna?

Another question is whether there is concurrence among scholars on the exact translation of the names. The very basic names of the treaty, namely those who signed the treaty are spelt differently by Luckenbill. He uses the name Shubbiluliuma which is Suppiluliuma for Witzel. The other name Shattiwaza of Mitanni is mentioned as Mattiuaza by Luckenbill. Since the names Mitra, Varuna etc., are crucial proofs for the presence of pre-Vedic words in that part of the world, Witzel has to first disprove the names given by Luckenbill, besides explaining why the ending letters should be deleted at all if not for serving his own purpose of making them sound like the names of Vedic deities.

Were these Gods from Mitanni or Hatti?

The strangest part of his narration on these names in his paper “‘Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts” is that he keeps repeating them as Mitanni words, while they appear as Gods of Hatti in the treaty.

Hatti and Mitanni were neighbours but they did not share the same language, or we can be certain that they did not share the same Gods as seen from this and other treaties. 

(In the picture Mitanni was located on the east of upper Euphrates and Hatti was to its North West. From the treaty it is known that Mt Lebanon and Euphrates formed its south eastern boundaries.)

This treaty and other treaties of these kingdoms contain references to numerous Gods. But the reference to these four Vedic gods appears only in the context of Hatti-Gods. Hatti was an over powering kingdom as per this treaty which was enforcing terms on the Mitanni king. There is no history of Hittites moving to India in the supposed period of Aryan migration. How then the Hittite Gods entered India?  

Most of the Gods mentioned in the treaty have no name. They were either god or gods of some part of nature like river, mountain, sky and so on. Certain names do occur often – like the names Sin, Samash, Anu, Antum, Enbil and Ninlil. In the treaties translated by Luckenbill the last four names appear six times in comparison to Mitra et al which appear only two times. Anu et al were very popular Gods found throughout the region here. Why then they were not taken by the migrating Indo-Aryans when they entered India? Why only Mitra et al were taken by them? This part also must be clarified  by Witzel.

If names like Mitra matter in deciding which way the migration had taken place, there is a name that sounds recent or post-Vedic in one of the treaties written by the grandson of Shubbiluliuma.

Mutallu, the grandson of Shubbiluliuma re-made a treaty that his father Murshili signed with – hold your breath – Rimisharma!

Sharma in Rimisharma is a common surname in India for Brahmins. It is traced to Sanskrit roots and is interpreted to mean teacher or a chanter. This name appearing in Hittite treaty as the king of Aleppo / Halab (in pic) before 1300 BCE could be interpreted as a strong proof of movement from India to Mesopotamia, if we were to follow Witzel’s logic.

Sharma being a Brahman surname, this name indicates migration of Vedic people from India. Why not we take it this way? 

Moreover this name seems to have changed into Latin as ‘sermo’ and ‘sermon’ (Sharma > serma > sermo > sermon) which means discourse or talk which is what a ‘Sharma’ is supposed to do. 
Isn’t this name Rimisharma a proof of migration out of India and influence on languages of Europe?

(continued in Part 2)


Luckenbil.D.D., ‘Semitic Languages and Literatures’, Volume XXXVII April 1921 Number3 https://archive.org/stream/jstor-528149/528149_djvu.txt
Witzel Michael., ‘Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts’, 2001.
Witzel Michael,. “The home of the Aryans”

[Mailed to Witzel (witzel@fas.harvard.edu)]


Gopi said...

Excellent post. This is one of the hard evidence for Out of India Migration.
Talegeri Shrikant also presented Lingustic and textual evidences from Veda's.

Jayasree Saranathan said...


Thank you.
But this article or rather the short series is on rejecting the names in Hittite- Mitanni treaty as evidence for AIT which Witzel has been banking upon.

I know the works of Talegeri. Without reading works of all others both for and against, I cant be doing research on Indology, you agree? There is one drawback with Talegeri. He too is parroting Western Indologists that Rig Veda (RV) gives a history. Very wrong assumption. I will take it up in my Indology blog.

Gopi said...

AIT is broken down in so many pieces and more evidence is coming out to support "Migration from India to outside". I'll refer this article for all such discussions.

True, Indology has 200+ years of history in the wrong direction, so it will take 2-4 more generations to re-establish it in the right path.

Talegeri, by way of accepting History of Veda by WI (Western Indolgist), proved, even accepting this history (7 out of 4 books are from later period) remain 4 books are till un-dated, and as such, he takes linguistic from these books and establishes language root went from Sanskrit.

Since Indian scholers just catching up serious Indology, it will take years to disprove or give alternate explanation about exact periods of Veda's, since 100% of them are oral. There should be differetn yard stick to measure time scale for oral tradtion.

Krishna said...

Mam, You might have attended the Swadeshi Indology conference held in chennai. What do you say about the views of Mr Nilesh Oak who also presented the paper on AIT myth.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

There is no need to prove the date of Vedas for there are references to Ramayana & Mahabharata characters in Rig Veda. Meaning Ramayana & Mahabharata were real and happened before the composition of some verses of RV. Check out my slides here: https://www.scribd.com/document/367786787/Problems-in-the-assumption-and-methodology-of-Mahadevan-s-Indus-decipherment

Krishna said...

I read something of his study. He took Vasistha-Arundhati as the center point and woven the dates and timeline, simply, to say in layman terms like I took Sri Krishna dob as the point in analysing the dates. My point of question is his dating of ramayan and MB but Since the post was on Aryan Migration, I did not mention them. Apart from it, I see most of your findings in other people writings. Because of your major link of comtemporary literature like silappadikaram etc (mentioning sangam age) with other sanskrit literature, many ignorant people also started studying the way you did and writing in similar lines. I might be wrong, I felt so.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Mr Krsna,

I removed my comments as I wrote them at the height of shock in having just encountered face to face the utter lack integrity of institutions which we trusted so much and of people of mediocrity taking centre stage. Now I am calm - that this is after all the land in the grip of adharma. Let me just keep doing what I know in my own way. I will be addressing your questions in my new Indology blog. It is already on and I am yet to make an announcement of it in the current blog. After I post the 2nd part of the above blog, I will make the announcement. But your questions will be taken up after I finish countering with Witzel's views.

This is my Indology blog: https://jayasreesaranathan.wordpress.com/

Gopi said...

Dear Jayasree,

Your work will speak volumes, good work with good intentions always wins.

You dont have to remove those comments, as it reflects point in time and what happened, as your view. (emotional or otherwise). This was the first reason i was asking your feed back about the conference. With my experience, i can say, it is difficult to organize such a big event, (opposed by almost all so called Indologist with no support from outside or Govt.) so that i can give feedback to main organizers for them to make correction in future events.

It is better to confront a person face to face, if he evades, confront him thru this blogs
https://nileshoak.wordpress.com/ (hope this is his blog)
(If it is ok for you, I can open or ask any specific question, on behalf of you)



Gopi said...

Regarding the dating of Veda period, i went thru the slides, it is very difficult to digest all the rich information and correlate to time frame. If possible, when you get some time, please write a neat time-line blog or presentation, where you can start with in-date veda text followed by Ramayana and Mahabharata etc. siting your evidence(with evidence as foot notes). This will help me compare other authors findings and understand better.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

I am not working on any time line of Vedas. I am only pointing out that certain hymns of RV were composed after Ramayana & Mahabharata thereby showing that (1) Ramayana & Mahabharata were real and (2) RV goes back into antiquity than the AIT chronology. A hidden / deduced message on my paper is that some of RV were as old as Manu' s times which began in the beginning of Holocene. I have given the dates of Ramayana & Mahabharata in the paper.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ Mr Gopi,

Nilesh Oak has spoken on the discussion we had outside the hall on the 3rd day. Brought to my notice by Dr Hari of Bharatgyan. You can read it in this thread https://twitter.com/jayasartn/status/950256312658440192

and this https://twitter.com/jayasartn/status/950253007635009536

Jayasree Saranathan said...

In case you have missed it, here is the link to my inputs for MB date which was checked by Dr Narahari Achar. He came up with a date close to 40 years of traditional date of MB. http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.in/2013/10/is-vedic-astrology-derived-from-greek_5.html
This was written in 2013.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ Mr Gopi

And this https://twitter.com/jayasartn/status/950253876447358977

Gopi said...

ok all posts points noted.
With NO's comments i dont think he is serious for discussions or ready to answer (he evades in twitter as well). But if you note, (these types of colonial mentality) will answer readily all western academics ( one of the patterns Rajiv identified! and fighting for 20 years!!)
For some time in near future we have to deal with such incidents/persons by just ignoring personal reaction, but keep pushing your points for answer in such a way that you are no longer ignorable.

I vouch for your deep knowledge in the subject matter, that alone counts. Your work across spectrum will have its own momentum. I'll continue to provide as much critical feedback as my knowledge permits.

** for the conf slides, waiting for your presentation video to be published, so i can make more out of your presentation*

Jayasree Saranathan said...

I have no personal issues, but have Dharmic anger- on happenings and on abusing our texts in the name of research. Yes it is abuse of our texts to mis-interpret it and reject the passages that does not suit your research as interpolation - all for furtherance of personal goals. I have nothing beyond that.

Krishna said...

Dear Mam

I just now happened to know the happenings in twitter, the debate should not have happened despite the chance of mutual presence in chennai. I was unaware of indology blog, probably I never noticed. Glad to know it. Thanks for intimating. Regarding the links, I did not saved them but noticed that various articles written oflate reflecting your study. I will update you shortly. Mr Oak asked me in a forum for the same scientific and valid proofs to counter his study which I could not do as my limitations are vast. I gave my two cents. I am irregular internetizen, hence I discontinued this part.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ Mr Krishna,

Exclusive Indology blog was started very recently only. I did a make-over to my old wordpress blog. As the current blog has grown too big with miscellaneous articles, I think an exclusive one could give easy access to those who search only Indological and historical blogs. I am posting the same articles here also as in Indology blog, until Indology blog picks up traffic and followers. On the other part of your comment, you may send the links when you can.

Gopi said...

Dear Jayasree Madam,

If you have bandwidth can you please submit your research.
https://csri.ucdavis.edu/ (1st March is last date)

This is the 2nd journal, if you wish and have time you can contribute by re-publishing your blogs for wider reach.



Jayasree Saranathan said...

Thanks Mr Gopi. I will check and get back.

Jayasree Saranathan said...

Dear Mr Gopi,

The first one, CSRI seems to be compatible with what I write. The Vairamuthu-Andal controversy looks like an apt case for the conference theme. But the deadline is too near. Anyway I will try my best to send a proposal.

For the 2nd one, the guidelines are not clear about what they expect from us. I think they will make an announcement soon.

Thanks for bringing these two to my notice.

Gopi said...

Dear Madam: Both i came across with mailing list which i regularly read. Tightly monitored group discussion list. Here are the details of the list (This is the 2nd one)

*in future, i can forward such emails, if you can send an email to varadhg@gmail.com*
Let me know if you any specific points that you have suspicion, I'll get it clarified.


Namaste (recipient listed in bcc),
Just came across a new initiative. Worthwhile to follow.

Sant Gupta

American Journal of Indic Studies: Call for Papers, Reviewers
by Pankaj Jain
Esteemed colleagues,

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We would like to invite you to submit your article directly on the website. We also welcome you to register yourself as an (anonymous) reviewer for various articles submitted by others.

More updates coming soon!
Pankaj Jain
Dr. Pankaj Jain पंकज जैन
Associate Professor
Dept of Philosophy and Religion
Co-chair, India Initiative Group
University of North Texas
Section Editor for Hinduism, Encyclopedia of Indian Religions

Co-founder, American Academy of Indic Studies
Twitter: @ProfPankajJain

Two Books:
1. Dharma & Ecology of Hindu Communities (Routledge, 2011)
2. Science and Socio-Religious Revolution in India (Routledge, 2017)

American Journal of Indic Studies (AJIS) is a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Academy of Indic Studies (AAIS) (ISSN 2573-1939).


From the Website:

AJIS invites academic papers on all aspects of Indic studies broadly defined for publication in Volume 1 Number 1 and its subsequent issues. AJIS publishes papers that call attention to the meanings and applications of Indic categories, which have typically been under-represented in the academic study of Indic civilization. AJIS invites papers that analyze specific theoretical and methodological issues within Indic studies across academic disciplines. AJIS also welcomes papers that place Indic categories and explanatory models in conversation with western theoretical and methodological models in order to deepen and expand scholarly knowledge of Indic civilization. Interactions and relationships of western and non-western studies on contemporary and classical Indic civilization are also considered for publication.

Gopi said...

--------continued on previous comment ----------

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