by Jayaram V
There is a consensus opinion among many historians that
the Aryans were a heterogeneous group of people who lived in different
parts of the ancient world in the area comprising Mediterranean,
parts of Europe, central Asia and north western India. There is
also an established opinion in the academic circles that the ancestors
of "some" Indians, Persians, Germans, Greeks, Romans, and
the Celts were Aryans, who worshipped different gods and goddesses,
used fire in their rituals and spoke many languages, which have
evolved into the present day Indo European languages.
The Indo Iranian group of Aryans settled in Iran and parts of
north western India. Although they seemed to have shared a common
ancestry, they parted their ways in matters of language and religion.
However, there is a divergence of opinion among various scholars
as to the original homeland of Aryans, which is summarized below.
Indian historians who deal with the subject fall broadly into two
categories: those who suggest that the Indian origin of the Aryans
and those who support the non-Indian origin of Aryans. Neither side
has come up with convincing evidence or argument so far.
||Propose Homeland of Aryans
||Sapta Sindhu or the Punjab
|Swami Dayanand Saraswathi
||A wide area located in
Russia between Weser and Vistula and up to White Russia
||West of Caspian Sea
||Austria and Hungary
Historically, India was known as Aryavarta, meaning the
land of the Aryans. This was not a mere coincidence. The Buddha was
a Kshatriya, a person of noble birth. His followers often addressed
him as Aryaputra, meaning the son of an Arya.
In India, until recent
times, men of higher castes, landlords and those who occupied positions
of authority were customarily addressed as Arya. In native
literature, speeches, correspondence and letter writing it was
used as the equivalent of "respected Sir." Its corrupt form
in Telugu, the second largest native language after Hindi, is "ayya," which is used even today as a mark of respect
to address elderly people, fatherly figures and men of authority.
Thus, by usage and by custom we have
clear evidence that India had a very deep and historic connection
with the concept of Arya, a tradition which most likely
originated in memory of an ancient group of people
who inhabited the region and wielded considerable influence,
power and authority.
There is also a divergence of opinion with regard to the expansion
of Aryans into the Indian subcontinent.
According to one school of thought the Aryans came in hordes
and first settled in northwestern India, from where they migrated
gradually towards the Gangetic valley, north eastern India and southern
According to some, they probably came in two or more waves and
colonized the land. There is no evidence to suggest that they occupied
the land forcibly and even if they did it must have been on a limited
scale. As they migrated towards the east, they had to deal with
more powerful and organized native communities and established political
powers, whom they could not conquer politically. So their expansion
into the subcontinent beyond the Sapta Sindhu region must have happened
peacefully through the migration of families of wandering priests
and sages rather than through political conquest.
The ruling classes in these regions were drawn to Vedic religion
but not completely. So some compromise on the part of both sides
and some integration of religious practices took place. This is
evident from the fact that regions comprising of present day UP,
Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, parts of MP, all of southern India and western
India were not thoroughly Aryanized and that the basic character
of Vedic religion underwent dramatic changes during the post Rigvedic
Historically these areas also witnessed the predominance of non-Vedic
religions and sectarian movements like Jainism, Buddhism, Saivism,
Shaktism and Vaishnavism.
It has to be remembered that India has always been, as it is
now, a heterogeneous society where people belonging to difference
races, religions, languages and backgrounds coexisted.
They came to India in the remote past from different parts of
the world, from Africa, Mediterranean, Europe, central Asia, Russia,
China and probably Arctic region by land and by sea.
While there was an inward migration into the subcontinent, there
was also probably some outward migration towards the east, north
and west and even to some islands in the Pacific and Australia.
For example, contrary to the popular opinion, the people of Andhra
Pradesh were immigrants from different regions within the subcontinent
as well from regions outside India. The invading armies of Sakas,
Pahlavas, Persians and Kushanas settled in various parts of the
country and became an integral part of native communities. So it
is incorrect to divide the Indian population mere into two or three
groups. It is also incorrect to classify Telugu as a purely
Dravidian language. In fact, it has elements of both
Indo-European and Dravidian languages. Its most literary form,
which, Sri Krishna Devaraya, the king of Vijayanagara, famously
considered the best of the native tongues, is very close to
Sanskrit both gramatically and syntactically.
The Indus people knew how to build ports or trade merchandise
by rivers and sea using boats. They knew how to chart their course
through dangerous seas using the position of the stars and the movements
of the sun and the moon. It is wrong to assume that the Aryans introduced
an organized religion or an advanced civilization in the Indian
subcontinent in the backdrop of an inferior civilization.
In conclusion we may say that the Aryan migration, if there was
one, was one in a series of migrations of different communities
and races that came to the Indian subcontinent either peacefully
or through force and settled there. Over a period of time these
communities interacted with one another to create a rich tapestry
of social, religious and cultural practices that are peculiarly
and uniquely Indian.
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