Rejecting the Myth of the Aryans: A Primer — Part II

Rejecting the Myth of the Aryans: A Primer — Part II
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The dominant story about ancient India is the AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) or its softer version, AMT (Aryan Migration Theory). The debates surrounding this matter are both contentious and vigorous. This essay in two parts gives an overview of the scholarship which not only rejects the AIT but proposes an alternative version or the Out of India (OIT) hypothesis. This work draws primarily from the works of Michel Danino, Shrikant Talageri, and Koenraad Elst.

In Part I, we summarized the variety of evidence against the Aryan Invasion/ Migration Theories. In this section, we shall consider the evidence from archeoastronomy which takes our scriptures many millennia back. Though the exact dating differ according to various interpretations the common feature is that our scriptures based on Vedas go far back in time — much before the arrival of the Aryans in 1500 BCE. The study of genetics is the latest straw for the Aryan proponents to clutch at, which seems to have settled the debate in favor of the Aryans. However, this evidence remains contradictory and ambiguous. The problem is not the science, but the people using it to support their ideologically-inspired theories.


Archeoastronomy, the study of astronomy in ancient cultures, uses the precession of equinoxes (a spin-top motion of the earth’s axis shifting by 1° in about 72 years, taking 25,800 years for a full rotation). For over 200 years, scholars have used this “clock” to date astronomical configurations in ancient Indian texts. Texts like the Rig Veda, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the Vedanga Jyotisha have recorded the positions of stars and planets with amazing precision. The data provided is extremely useful to date our scriptures.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak dated the Rig Veda to between 4500 and 3500 BCE. The data from Yajur Veda (using the moon’s path) and the Shatapatha Brahmana points to a 2400–2900 BCE range. India’s oldest text of astronomy, the Vedanga Jyotisha records summer and winter solstices in the middle of the nakshatra Ashlesha (in Hydrae) and the beginning of Dhanishtha (in Delphinus): this points to about the 1400 BCE time-period, says Subhash Kak.

Many Indian scholars estimate the Mahabharata epic to be at least a third millennium BCE product (Nilesh Oak claims 5561 BCE for the Mahabharata war). By itself, extremely conservative estimates of the antiquity based on astronomical descriptions in Indian scriptures makes the Aryan timeline and Vedic texts between 1500 BCE and 1200 BCE untenable. The counter-arguments either dismiss these precise, consistent, and detailed references as meaningless, or suggest that the Vedic texts somehow preserved the memory of more ancient astronomical events. But it looks extremely implausible that the authors of the texts while writing chose to precisely locate the position of the stars and planets as recorded in the past. It would be rather that they observed the positions at the time of writing. Such an implausibility of describing past positions of stars in contemporary texts does not deter the Aryan proponents however.


AIT/AMT proponents dangerously mix race and language in their speculative exercise, which sadly refuses to go away completely. In 1892, French archaeologist Salomon Reinach thought an Aryan race existing three thousand years ago as a “gratuitous” hypothesis. Yet, in India, colonial ethnology divided “native” populations into imaginary “races” (forty-three of them by H.H. Risley for the 1901 Census). Tribals and some “low castes” were the “aboriginals” while the “higher castes” became members of the Aryan race.

In the 20th century, especially after World War II, bioanthropology rejected all such racial classifications. Anthropologists firmly established that the term “race” as generally applied to humans is scientifically without justification. Anthropology now acknowledges that anatomical type, language, and culture do not have necessarily the same fates; one may vary as the other two remain constant. The assumption that a certain blood related people or a certain cultural group must have carried Aryan language throughout history is purely arbitrary. Anthropologists remain unable to support any of the theories concerning an Aryan biological or demographic entity. The colonial concepts of “Adivasi” (original inhabitant), “Aryan race,” and “Dravidian race,” are rooted in discredited 19th-century race theories and have no scientific basis. There are Dravidian languages and a tradition but not a Dravidian race.

Aryans and Dravidians; Tamilians and the Rest 

The Dravidian Movement, initiated by EV Ramaswamy Naicker, takes the help of this Aryan hypothesis to turn most North Indians and Brahmins into descendants of the invading Aryans, and asserting that Tamils are members of the indigenous Dravidian race that have claimed India home for a longer period of time than the so-called Aryans. However, all the evidence from archaeology, epigraphy (study of inscriptions), numismatics (study of coins), and literature (the Sangam literature) proves otherwise. Danino (Vedic Roots of Early Tamil Culture) makes a compelling argument to show the organic syncretism of Tamil sub-culture with other cultures of India completely rejecting the great “Aryan-Dravidian” mythical fight.

According to Danino, archaeological studies have so far fixed the emergence of urban civilization in Tamil Nadu two and a half millennia after the appearance of Indus cities. Inscriptions, coins, and literature suggest the establishment of the earliest Tamil kingdoms around the fourth century BCE, and urban developments a century or two later. Excavations clearly shows a cultural connection between the people of the South and the North with regards to many beliefs and practices, especially the cult of the dead and the ancestors. The Pandya era coins show extensive evidence of Vedic sacrifices and Vedic-Puranic symbols related to Vishnu and Shiva both.

Surprisingly, as scholars have repeatedly pointed out, the rich Sangam literature (300 BCE to 300 CE) show not only extensive references to Vedic sacrifices but a complete absence of any mention of a great clash between Aryans and Dravidians. Scholars have shown by innumerable examples that knowledge of Sanskrit literature from the Vedic period to the Classical period is essential to appreciate Tamil literature. Vedic and Puranic themes inextricably weave into the most ancient culture of the Tamil land known to us. Tamil language has assimilated and uses between 20-40 percent of the commonly used vocabulary from Sanskrit.

As Joshi and Harshavardhana have argued in one paper, there are no references to the word “Dravida” in Tolkappiyam the oldest surviving work on Tamil grammar, literature, and linguistics. The first use of “Dravida” in Tamil is by the sage Tayumanvar in the 18th century. In the Vedic-Puranic-Itihaasic literature, “Arya” denoted a noble person, and “Dravida” was a purely geographical marker. As one scholar shows, “Dravida” is not of Tamil origin at all because Tamil grammar neither provides for a word beginning with a sonant (hence cannot begin with d) nor with a half-syllable. The word has most likely Prakrit or Sanskrit roots.

Leet us paraphrase Michel Danino here: The historical period of the great Pallava, Chola, and Pandya temples and overflowing devotional literature by the Alwars, the Nayanmars, and other seekers show a clear integration of Vedic-Sanskritic elements into Tamil. Without conflict, there was every sign of a deep cultural interaction between North and South. In reverse, the genius of Tamil land has contributed extensively by way of temple architecture, music, dance, and literature to the North and other South Asian countries too. “Dravidian” has a meaning either in the old geographical sense or in the modern linguistic sense; racial and cultural meanings are unscientific and irrational and are simply a manifestation of a colonial mindset. Every region of India has developed according to its own genius, creating its own bent, but while remaining faithful to the central Indian spirit. 

Genetics – The Latest Superstar but with Contradictions

Tony Joseph, a journalist, wrote an influential book, titled, “Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From“. Joseph, relying on papers in genetics, argues that in essence everyone in India are migrants and foreigners. The indigenous Hindus are apparently as foreign to the land as the Muslims and Christians who came much later. This controversial claim, repeated ad nauseum by AIT/AMT proponents, led to a new round of debate among both geneticists and non-geneticists alike.

Talageri, in a book-length rebuttal, titled, “Genetics and the Aryan debate: ‘Early Indians’ — Tony Joseph’s Latest Assault,” showed how selective and faulty Joseph’s data and arguments were. The following section on genetics summarizes the main arguments of Talageri against Joseph’s much-reviewed book.

Genetics has contributed immensely in tracing ancestries and migrations of humans across geographical locations. Thousands of genes interacting complexly with the environment determines traits and human behavior. Language and culture are components of evolution mechanisms independent of genetics, as Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb (Evolution in Four Dimensions) say. However, a study of the genes themselves to predict linguistic and cultural movements is tricky science.

Recent genetic research based on hundreds of skeletons has now become the latest crutch for Aryan proponents as other disciplines are posing problems. Archaeogenetics (genetics of ancient populations) broadly studies the Y-DNA (transmitted from father to son) and mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA transmitted by the mother alone). However, genetics cannot define “races,” but only “haplogroups” of people who have common sets of genetic mutations. It can measure the genetic proximity or distance between ethnic groups.

However, Indian populations with the greatest genetic diversity after Africa are complex. Multiple studies confirm the genetic proximity between linguistic affiliations (Indo-European, Dravidian); castes of North and South India; and between castes and tribes.  Language families present today in India are all much younger than the majority of indigenous mtDNA lineages found among their present-day speakers.  Studies have ruled out a major addition to the Indian gene pool in the second millennium BCE and a genetic continuum between the Harappans and the present-day people of the region (Haryanvis, Punjabis, Rajasthanis, Sindhis, and Gujaratis). All these run against the Aryan invasion scenario.

Genetic Claims for AIT

The Aryan proponents use the genetic evidence to make two claims: first, between 2000-1000 BCE, multiple waves of pastoralists migrated from Central to South Asia; and second, they brought Indo-European languages and religious practices into an existing civilization changing its pattern without any force.  A much-quoted influential genetics paper in (2009) stated that the “Indian people today are a mixture of two highly differentiated populations, the ANI and the ASI (ANI — Ancestral North Indians; ASI — Ancestral South Indians)”. A new paper (2018) rectified some positions to classify the three major genetic groups migrating into India at three different time periods:

  1. 65,000 years BP (Before Present) — 7000 BCE: The First Indians migrated from Africa to South Asia and were the exclusive inhabitants.
  2. 7000 BCE — 4700 BCE: Zagros/Iranian agriculturalists migrated to South Asia from the Zagros area of Iran. Their mixing with the First Indians produced the Harappans and Harappan Civilization.
  3. 2000 BCE — 1000 BCE: Steppe pastoralists migrated to South Asia from the Steppes and mingled with the Harappans.

ANI (Ancestral North Indians) are a mixture of the above three groups. The ASI (Ancestral South Indians) are a combination of the First Indians of the South and the Harappans (First Indians of the North + Zagros/Iranian Agriculturalists) who migrated from the North. Present day India is finally a combination of the ANI and the ASI in varying proportions in different areas and communities.  Confusingly, the First Indians get the term AASI — Ancient Ancestral South Indians. Certainly, a churning.

                                                                                  Image: Migrations hypothesized on Genetic Studies
Is the Genetic Evidence Relevant to Negate the OIT (Out of India Theory)?

Language and culture spread can be independent from the spread of genes and DNA. The “elite dominance” model for language spread explains India’s good English completely without invoking “common genes” for language, interbreeding, or genetic transfer. The “elite dominance” model may explain the New Rigvedic elements in the Mittani culture and the Avestan culture of the Zoroastrians without the passing of the First Indians’ genes. The chronological and geographical data of the Vedas and the Mittani documents show presence of Indo-European languages already in India much before 3000 BCE.

OIT migration is a strong possibility based on internal evidence from the Vedic texts and archaeological documents themselves. The roots of Greek, Latin, Celt, Teuton, and Slavonian are in the Rig Veda, but not in the Avesta. The lack of the First Indian ancestry in the DNA of Indo-European speakers outside is no argument against OIT theory. Finally, genetic evidence is irrelevant in the debate despite its importance, says Talageri.  When claims contradict recorded history and disciplines like archaeology and linguistics, then it is only scientific to reject those claims. Especially when there are models to show that linguistic spread is independent of simultaneous genetic spread. Steppe migrants may have contributed their genome to a common pool but they did not bring the languages and the Vedas. This story without a ripple in the archaeological record and without any memory or references of older places in the texts is implausible.

Obfuscations, Lies, Cherry-Picking, Selective Interpretations, and Tortuous Speculations

Political agendas seek a distinct North and a distinct South with separate languages and cultures. Today, the native “Dravidians” take up cudgels against the Aryan Brahmins and the Aryan North. The terminology, mixing of scenarios, and conclusions are confusing and based on thin evidence. ANI and ASI suggestively depict the north and the south even when geneticists say that they are inaccurate.

Three samples in the Indus periphery area represent the entire Harappan population in the study the AIT proponents take refuge under. The genetic composition of India is constantly changing but these proponents keenly freeze the time when all the Indo-Aryan speaking people in North India have First Indians, Zagros/Iranian, and Steppe pastoralist ancestry and all the Dravidian-speaking people have First Indians and Zagros ancestry. It is impossible that such a rigid and clear North and South genetically separated groups ever existed as there is no DNA evidence from all parts of India at one past point in time.

All the terminology obfuscations, cherry picking, and erroneous interpretations conclude that Steppe DNA entered India in the period between 2000-1000 BCE. That these migrations brought the languages and culture hangs deeply on the position of the linguists and Indologists that the Rig Veda can be also dated between 2000-1000 BCE, allegedly brought by the invading Aryans. Circular reasoning cannot get better.

The Indo-Iranian Paradigm and the R1a1 Haplotype

Linguists propose that Indo-Iranians migrated from the Russian Steppes to Central Asia and then, splitting into two, migrated into the Saptasindhu and Afghanistan-Iran areas, sharing a common “Indo-Iranian” culture and the two closely related texts – the Rig Veda and the Avesta. R1a1 haplotype is supposedly a genetic signature prevalent in Indo-European language speaking countries.  AIT proponents claim Steppe DNA and R1a1 injection into local populations and tribals by Aryan custodians of the Sanskrit language — the upper castes and the Brahmins.

However, R1a1 haplotype distributions show a mismatch between speculated migratory routes and actual data. West Iran, at one end of the split, shows a dismal 3%- 4% haplotype presence. At the other end, it is 26% in Chenchu tribals, and 50% in Manipur (East India).  The 20% R1a1 haplotype in central and eastern Iran is grossly less than the Dravidian tribes of South India. This haplotype increases further west of Iran: 43% (Semitic Shammar tribes of Kuwait), and 52% (Ashkenazi Levites in Israel). Hence, the IE languages spread and the genetic spread are independent; at best, they are only weakly correlated.

Aryans and Caste System — New Theories and Old Associations

Quoting from a 2013 genetics paper, one author claims that from 2200 BCE to 100 CE, there was an extensive mixing of the genomic pool with the result that almost all Indians become a mixture of the First Indian, Harappan, and Steppe ancestries in varying degrees. Around 100 CE, a new ideology by the “wily Brahmins” shackled Indian society through the caste system, engineering society on a massive scale. This suddenly “downed the shutters” on intermixing. The proof allegedly comes from the Ra1a haplotype in higher prevalence among the North Indians, upper castes, and Brahmins than in South Indians, lower castes, and scheduled tribes. These conclusions are problematic.

Talageri argues against this. Firstly, never in the history, especially since 100 CE, there was an all controlling authoritative regime which could implement a wildly successful social engineering program. Secondly, it is incredulous that after free intermixing for two millennia, suddenly the Brahmins could differentiate between Aryan and non-Aryan brethren to start the caste system. Thirdly, if Aryans are not co-terminus with the caste system which came after 2,000 years in 100 CE, then how are they still associated? The caste system would be more a result of contemporary factors of that era (invasions by Greeks, Persians, or Scythians; and new western ideas due to contacts with the first Christians or the Imperial Romans). Further, intermixing of all jatis — ethnic, religious, occupational, and nationality groups  has been going on all along from time immemorial to the present day. It is unbelievable that we can discover and identify 100 CE as when suddenly a special group started/invented the “caste system”.

North India has a higher proportion of this gene as many studies show and the decreasing proportion of this R1a1 haplotype as one move from North to South could be a natural effect of migrations. A higher movement of Brahmins towards South may explain the higher proportion, but the reasons are geographical rather than Aryanism. Contradictorily, the R1a1 gene is found in higher proportions in many non-Brahmin castes of the North and West than Brahmins of the same area: Khatri (67%), Ahir (63%), Gujarat Lohana (60%). Even Ror, Jat, and Pathan communities show higher percentages. In a highly mixed state of communities for 4,000 years, extracting exact numbers for various communities from a few random samples and then constructing a story on the origin and propagation of the caste system is a dubious and a politically mischievous exercise.

The “Out of India” Migration – Broadly Speaking

The OIT proponents, agreeing with the Aryan theorists, say that Indian culture is not identical with Sanskrit or Vedic culture. The Rig Veda is a text of the Bharata sub-tribe of the Puru people in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh regions, Talageri insists. The Anu and Druhyu tribes, to the north-west of Puru, was the homeland from where the other eleven IE branches spread to other parts of the world. There were IE speakers in the east (Iksvaku) and south (Yadu and Turvasa/Turvasu) of Puru too. Apart from this, there were non-IE language families: Dravidian in the south; Austric further east; and Burushaski in the far north.

As Talageri says, “Indian culture is a melting pot of six language families (Indo-European, Dravidian, Austric, Sino-Tibetan, Burushaski, and Andamanese). The original Puru element of Hinduism may have gained prominence due to political power, but over millennia, the unique Indian cultural unit has been a rich and complicated mixture of many elements. It is unfortunate, and even dangerous, to try and separate the individual elements”. He points out that Indic culture and “Hinduism” are amorphous mixtures of Vedic/Sanskritic culture, the Sangam culture of the south, and the rich ethnic (mainly tribal) strands of culture. The various disciplines clearly favor OIT but the AIT theorists have too much at stake, and have invested in their thesis too long to accept this.

Image: The “Out of India” proposal by Shrikant Talageri

Michel Danino, in an incisive article (The Death of Debate), shows how strong were the debating traditions of India. One Buddhist scholar tells a king who wanted to debate with the former that the debate should be as a scholar and not as a king. A debate as a scholar does not make one angry at a loss but a debate against a king where the king loses could invite punishment. Thus, a debate as a king is just power play. This is exactly what is happening in the present debates on the Aryan theory. It is only power structures and a hegemonical narrative which refuses to listen to opposing views.

The AIT/AMT proponents are keen to label anyone proposing an alternative view by unflattering labels such as “Hindu nationalist” or “champions of Hindutva”. The same applies to the OIT camp too who, without a proper understanding of the debate, blindly call the opposing camp as “Marxist fundamentalists,” and so on. This labelling does not make for a proper debate. Danino quotes Laurie Patton and Edwin Bryant in the introduction to their book (The Indo-Aryan Controversy) who write that there has been “very little conversation between the opponents, [but] great opportunity for creating straw men on both sides”.

Danino writes:

One disturbing aspect of the acrimonious exchanges has been the notion that those who reject the theory of an Aryan paradigm are perforce pro-Hindutva activists or their western supporters. Endlessly relayed by a controversy-hungry media, it has concealed the fact that the staunchest opponents of the theory have often been respected by mainstream western academics. The British anthropologist Edmund Leach, the US bioanthropologist Kenneth AR Kennedy, the French archaeologist Jean-Paul Demoule, the US archaeologist Jim Shaffer, the Canadian historian Klaus Klostermaier, the Greek Sanskritist Nicholas Kazanas, the Italian linguist Angela Marcantonio, the Estonian biologist Toomas Kivisild, among others, have challenged the Aryan scenario in its Indian or Eurasian ramifications. However, none of the Indian historians still promoting it (from a “hard” version of an aggressive invasion to a “softer” one of a peaceful migration of small numbers) ever discusses these distinguished objectors; were they to do so, the convenient media-friendly story that communal-minded fanatics alone contest the dominant view would be unmaintainable.


AIT proponents counter the opposing evidence by accusing OIT proponents of being super-sensitive to the idea of foreign arrivals into India and an unjustifiable belief in an originally “pure” Indic civilization. Invasions and migrations do constantly shape the world but the difference in the Indian context is its political use to divide the nation. Unlike the recorded history of migrations and invasions in places like America and Africa, Indo-European language arrivals are based on speculation, hypotheses, and theories in various fields.

AIT proponents use selective evidence and convenient interpretations to deny the civilizational roots of the country. A Hindu claiming to be an original native of the country has the whole world of AIT proponents coming down on him trying to prove that he is a foreigner. Ironically, two diverse groups support the AIT: some class of Brahmins to prove their own superiority; and equally strong “anti-Brahmin ideologues” like the Dravidians, left-Marxists, neo-Dalit groups, and politically motivated intellectuals.

Aryans arriving from the Russian Steppes starting after 3000 BCE, reaching India within thousand years, and then composing the most pristine Vedas within less than one thousand years suggests an incredulously “speeding” of history and not “spreading” of Aryans. At the heart of all AIT arguments is the injection of a foreign, non-existent Aryan into an existing culture seeking to discount the continuity and the existence of the longest civilizational community. The Aryan theory has been responsible for increasingly vicious narratives on race and caste, seeking to  divide the North and the South.

One scholar says it is amazing that European scientists were convinced for a long time about an Aryan race despite there being no biological criteria that would characterise the Aryans.  Martin Farek shows elegantly how Enlightenment theories (progress of civilization from a primitive society to its supposed culmination, represented by the Western world) and Darwin’s evolutionary theories (spinning of racial ideas) played a crucial role in the Aryan debate and the subsequent speculations of the caste-system in India. Selective bits of Vedic corpus texts supported their preconceived theories and ad hoc adjustments explained away uncomfortable archaeological findings, but the basic idea of invading Aryans remains consistent. The core hypothesis of the invading Aryans stays intact even as adjustments happen with any new findings related to the field. One such adjustment, on the discovery of the Dravidian Brahui language in the North, involves even the mysterious Dravidian race invading from the South and destroying Harappan culture!

Indic civilization is a millennia old, unbroken continuity. The evidence is more in favor of a Vedic civilization continuing into the Harappan and the later post-Harappan eras too. India is an amorphous and homogenous mix of different sub-cultures and different traditions. Everyone of this land is a part and inheritor of this great culture irrespective of what tradition they may be following. Instead of accepting our common and great civilizational past, the Aryan proponents are keen to show that the Brahmins (especially), Kshatriyas, and Vysyas are foreigners and that they are perennially exploiting the Shudras (and the recently added Dalits).

Scholars in various disciplines, based on evidence, are now questioning the AIT/AMT. Problematically, the AIT has constructed a super edifice over decades, and if the foundational base collapses, the entire building comes down. Therefore, there is a huge resistance to discard the theory. Genetics offers a ray of hope to the AIT/AMT proponents who hope to use the findings to silence their critics. Genetics, an important science, clearly shows migrations across the world, but it should not contradict other established findings. It is only proper science that if experiments/theories do not match the data, the theories and experiments need to be rejected and not the data! Unfortunately, in the application of genetics, there is ignoring of the archaeological, linguistic, and textual data itself.

Lavanya Vemsani uses the results from genetic studies to argue that India is the original homeland with migrations to Australia and South-East Asia. Chavda and Priyadarshi have pointed in detail the many flaws to the original genetics paper on which the Aryan proponents seek to build their case.  Alas, selective and convenient application of archaeological and genetic findings, torturing Vedic texts to find racially themed discourses on Aryans and Dravidians, selective linguistic analyses, closed circle of academic scholarships disallowing alternative voices, ad-hominem attacks, and prominent power positions have all helped in perpetuating the AIT/AMT propositions.

Talageri feels that the textual Rigvedic chronology is strong enough independently to establish an “out of India” migration. Archaeology offers solid support in rejecting AIT/AMT and even supporting an OIT scenario. Michel Danino (The Lost River) and Koenraad Elst (Still No Trace of an Aryan Invasion) offer extensive evidence challenging AIT/AMT. Marianne Keppens (Western Foundations of the Caste System) devotes a full chapter on the Aryan linkage to the caste system and concludes that these  claims, propagated by political activists, are faulty and bogus. Unfortunately, the discussion has become one-sided and is closed to any modification/changes.

Some Aryan proponents, late in the 20th century, in the face of overwhelming lack of archaeological evidence, made an invasion into a “slow wave like migration”. Michael Witzel (2001) proposes something even more radical: a “trickle-in by just one Afghan Indo-Aryan tribe that did not return to the highland”! Large-scale invasion is undetected in archaeology, bioanthropology, and genetics. The migrations and “trickle ins” overcome this obstacle but can such small-scale influences overturn the subcontinent’s cultural and linguistic landscape so radically even when substantial invasions by Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Kushanas, and Huns could not affect such a change?

British anthropologist Edmund Leach (1989) sums it all up: “Even today, the Aryan invasions of the second millennium BC are still treated as if they were an established fact of history. Why do serious scholars persist in believing in the Aryan invasions? Why has the development of early Sanskrit come to be so dogmatically associated with an Aryan invasion? The details of this theory fit in with racist framework. The origin myth of British colonial imperialism helped the elite administrators to see themselves as bringing ‘pure’ civilization to a country in which civilization of the most sophisticated (but ‘morally corrupt’) kind was already nearly 6,000 years old. The Aryan invasions never happened at all. Of course, no one is going to believe that”.

The evidence for Aryan invasion or migration is weak from literary, archaeological, anthropological, or genetic disciplines. The persistent conflation between race, language, and culture is misleading and dangerous. Political uses of the Aryan scenario are wholly illegitimate and unnecessarily divisive; they are an extension of the colonial agenda. Can we change the story to a better one based on proper evidence? It is of concern that both Western, as well as Indian scholars, have not discarded the noxious Aryan theory despite the lack of evidence as well as the damage the theory has inflicted on the social fabric of India.

Selected Works and Further Reading
  1. Malhotra, R., & Neelakandan, A. (2012). Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines. Princeton: Infinity Foundation.
  2. Danino, M. (2012). The Problem of Indian History. Dialogue, 13:4,
  3. Farek, M. (2021). India In The Eyes of Europeans: Conceptualization of Religion in Theology and Oriental Studies. Karolinum Press.
  4. Danino, M. (2010). The Lost River: On the Trail of The Sarasvati. New Delhi: Penguin.
  5. Talageri, S. (2004). The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis. Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  6. Talageri, S. (2008). Rigveda and the Avesta: The Final Evidence. Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  7. Talageri, S. (2019). Genetics and the Aryan debate: “Early Indians” Tony Joseph’s Latest Assault. New Delhi: Voice of India.
  8. Elst, K. (2018). Still No Trace of an Aryan Invasion: A Collection on Indo-European Origins. New Delhi: Aryan Books International.
  9. Keppens, M. (2017). The Aryans and the Ancient System of Caste (in Western Foundations of the Caste System, edited by Martin Fárek, Dunkin Jalki, Sufiya Pathan, Prakash Shah). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  10. Danino, M (2001/2009). “Vedic Roots of Early Tamil Culture,” in Saundaryashri: Studies of Indian History, Archaelogy, Literature and Philosophy. New Delhi: Sharada Publishing House.
  11. Danino, M. (2006). “The Horse and The Aryan Debate,” (
  12. Clackson, J. (2013) “The Origins of the Indic Languages: the Indo-European model,” in Angela Marcantonio and
    Girish Nath Jha (eds.) Perspectives on the Origin of Indian civilization. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld.
  13. Kak, S. (1998). “The Sun’s Orbit in the Brahmanas,” Indian Journal of History of Science, 33:3,
  14. Land of Dharma: Studies in Tamil Civilization Proceedings from the Swadeshi Indology Conference (2021). Series edited by Shrinivas Tilak et al. Princeton: Infinity Foundation.
  15. Joshi, R., & Harshavardhana, Y. (2021). Dravidianism with Language Equaling Race — The Third Wheel in Tamil-Sanskrit Interactions  (In Land of Dharma: Proceedings from the Swadeshi Indology Series). Princeton: Infinity Foundation.
  16. A series of lectures on the Aryan issue. Michel Danino’s series of lectures at Amrutha Institute is a wonderful resource to get the perspective of Out of India Theory and how the Aryans appear tenuous.
  17. Danino, M. (2017). “The Death Of Debate,” Pragyata,
  18. Adluri, V. & Bagchee, J. (2014). The Nay Science. London: Oxford University Press.
  19. Vemsani, L. “Genetic Evidence of Early Human Migrations in the Indian Ocean Region Disproves Aryan Migration/Invasion Theories: An Examination of Small-statured Human Groups of the Indian Ocean Region,”
  20. Chavda, A.L. (2017). “Propagandizing the Aryan Invasion Debate: A Rebuttal to Tony Joseph,” India Facts,
  21. Elst, K. (2017). “Genetics and the Aryan Invasion Debate,”  Pragyata,
  22. Priyadarsh, P. (2018). The Aryan Invasion Issues.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of any information in this article.

Dr Pingali Gopal

Dr Pingali Gopal is a Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon practising in Warangal, Telangana. He has a keen interest in Indian culture and does his little bit to correct the many wrong narratives which hurt India at many levels. Opening his eyes rather late to the wonder called India, it is now a continuous journey for him to sip bits from the oceanic nectar of Indic Knowledge Systems.