Out of India theory

Out of India theory

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The Out of India theory (OIT, also called the Indian Urheimat Theory) is the proposition that the Indo-European language family originated in the Indian subcontinent and spread to the remainder of the Indo-European region through a series of migrations. A notable proponent was Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829).

Originally proposed in the late 18th century in an attempt to explain connections between Sanskrit and European languages, it was rapidly marginalized within academic linguistics,[1][2][3] particularly those who tend to favor the Kurgan model instead.[4][5][6]

Still, the Out of India theory today builds primarily on the idea that Aryans are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent[7][8] rather than on the archaeogenetic and other academic developments. The theory's recent revival in Hindu nationalist writing has made it the subject of a contentious debate in Indian politics.[3][9] These recent "OIT" scenarios posit that the Indus Valley Civilization was Indo-Aryan and uses mainly evidence from Sanskrit literature. The hypotheses have been espoused mainly by the radical nationalist sympathizer Koenraad Elst and Indian author Shrikant Talageri. These scenarios have also been defended by the archaeologist B.B. Lal.



Early proposals

When the finding of connections between languages from India to Europe led to the creation of Indo-European studies in the late 18th century some Indians and Europeans believed that the Proto-Indo-European language must be Sanskrit, or something very close to it. A few early Indo-Europeanists, such as Enlightenment pioneers Voltaire,[10] Immanuel Kant,[10] and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel[11] had a firm belief in this and essentially created the idea that India was the Urheimat of all Indo-European languages. In a 1775 letter, Voltaire expressed his belief in that the "dynasty of the Brahmins" taught the rest of the world: "I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges."[10] The idea intrigued Kant who "suggested that mankind together with all science must have originated on the roof of the world [the Himalayas ]."[10] Most scholars, such as William Jones, however realized from earliest times that instead, Sanskrit and related European languages had a common source, and that no attested language represented this direct ancestor.

The development of historical linguistics, specifically the law of palatals and the discovery of the laryngeals in Hittite, shattered Sanskrit's preeminent status as the most venerable elder in this reconstructed family.[12] The demotion of Sanskrit to the status of one daughter language among many eroded the remaining support of India as the Indo-European homeland.

The ethnologist and philologist Robert Gordon Latham was the first to state that, according to the principles of natural science, a language family's most likely point of origin is in the area of its greatest diversity which, in the case of Indo-European, is roughly in Central-Eastern Europe, where the Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Thracian, and Greek branches of the Indo-European language family are attested, as opposed to South Asia, where only the Indo-Aryan branch is.[13] Lachhmi Dhar Kalla responded by arguing that the greater linguistic diversity of Indo-European in Europe is the result of absorbing foreign linguistic elements, and that a language family's point of origin should be sought in the area of least linguistic change, since it has been least affected by substrate interference. Dhar's line of argument has a history in Western debates in the Indo-European homeland (e.g. Feist 1932 and Pissani 1974 as cited in Bryant 2001, pp. 142–143) where it has been used to locate the Indo-European homeland near the area where the Lithuanian[clarification needed] and Anatolian branches of Indo-European are attested.

1999 "revival"

An Indian Urheimat has been promoted more recently by Elst (1999) and Talageri (2000), which led to an exchange of criticisms with Michael Witzel.[14]

In what its editor J. P. Mallory (2002) described as a "sense of fair play," the Journal of Indo-European Studies waived peer review in order to publish Kazanas' (2002, 2003) defence of the "Indigenous Indo-Aryan" viewpoint — which cited Elst (1999) and Talageri (2000). Mallory's reasoning for this exceptional omission of peer-review was as follows:

The reasons for the acrimony between the two camps is not purely academic but may involve agendas that are variously associated with Hindu nationalism, western cultural imperialism, communalism, post-colonialism, and just about any other form of -ism that reflects current political frictions. [...] For the editor of a Western peer-reviewed journal, the publication of an article in support of the Indigenous Indo-Aryan camp poses obvious problems. Many regard the scholarship of the Indigenous Indo-Aryan camp so seriously flawed that it should not be given an airing. They view the Indigenous Aryan camp as more a religion than an academic position and no amount of scholarly refutation is likely to have the least impact on its adherents. On the other hand, we might also invoke some sense of fair play [...] I indicated that I thought it would be unlikely that any referee would agree with [Kazanas'] conclusions but that I would consider publication if one of the referees believed that the article had made a case to answer; I requested the referees to view the article in that light. This is indeed what happened and the authors agreed with my suggestion that we might treat the article in a review format where I would invite a series of relevant scholars to comment upon the article and then provide the author with space to make his final reply to his critics.[15]

The debate consisted of an article by Kazanas (2002), nine highly critical reviews by referees,[16] Kazanas' (2003) response to those criticisms, and a few further responses available online.[17][18]

Witzel (2003) warned:

It is certain that Kazanas, now that he is published in JIES, will be quoted endlessly by Indian fundamentalists and nationalists as "a respected scholar published in major peer-reviewed journals like JIES" -- no matter how absurd his claims are known to be by specialist readers of those journals. It was through means like these that the misperception has taken root in Indian lay sectors that the historical absurdities of Kak, Frawley, and even Rajaram are taken seriously by academic scholars.


Neolithic and Bronze Age Indian history is periodized into the Pre-Harappan (ca. 7000 to 3300 BC), Early Harappan (3300 to 2600), Mature Harappan (2600 to 1900) and Late Harappan (1900 to 1300 BC) periods.

The Indian Urheimat proposal put forward by Elst (1999), which he dubs the "emerging non-invasionist model," is as follows: During the 6th millennium BC, the Proto-Indo-Europeans were living in the Punjab region of Northern India. As the result of demographic expansion, they spread into Bactria as the Kambojas. The Paradas moved further and inhabited the Caspian coast and much of Central Asia while the Cinas moved northwards and inhabited the Tarim Basin in northwestern China, forming the Tocharians group of I-E speakers. These groups were Proto-Anatolian and inhabited that region by 2000 BC. These people took the oldest form of the Proto Indo-European (PIE) language with them and, while interacting with people of the Anatolian and Balkan region, transformed it into its own dialect. While inhabiting Central Asia they discovered the uses of the horse, which they later sent back to Urheimat.[19] Later on during their history, they went on to take Western Europe and thus spread the Indo-European languages to that region.[19] During the 4th millennium BC, civilization in India was evolving to become the urban Indus Valley Civilization. During this time, the PIE languages evolved to Proto-Indo-Iranian[19] Some time during this period, the Indo-Iranians began to separate as the result of internal rivalry and conflict, with the Iranians expanding westwards towards Mesopotamia and Persia, these possibly were the Pahlavas. They also expanded into parts of Central Asia. By the end of this migration, India was left with the Proto-Indo-Aryans. At the end of the Mature Harappan period, the Sarasvati river began drying up and the remainder of Indo-Aryans split into separate categories. Some travelled westwards and established themselves as rulers of the Hurrian Mitanni kingdom by around 1500 BC (see Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni). Others travelled eastwards and inhabited the Gangetic basin while others travelled southwards and interacted with the Dravidian people.[19]


See also linguistics or historical linguistics.

According to Bryant (2001:75), OIT proponents tend to be linguistic dilettantes who either ignore the linguistic evidence completely, dismiss it as highly speculative and inconclusive (e.g. Chakrabarti 1995 and Rajaram 1995, as cited in Bryant 2001:74, or attempt to tackle it with hopelessly inadequate qualifications; this attitude and neglect significantly minimizes the value of most OIT publications.[20][21]

Talageri (2000) and Kazanas (2002) have adapted the language dispersal model proposed by Johanna Nichols (in Blench & Spriggs 1997) to support OIT by moving Nichols' proposed Indo-European point of origin from Bactria-Sogdiana to India. These ideas have not been accepted in mainstream linguistics.

Elst (1999) argues that it is altogether more likely that the Urheimat was in satem territory. The alternative from the angle of an Indian Urheimat theory (IUT) would be that India had originally had the centum form, that the dialects which first emigrated (Hittite, Italo-Celtic, Germanic, Tokharic) retained the centum form and took it to the geographical borderlands of the IE expanse (Europe, Anatolia, China), while the dialects which emigrated later (Baltic, Thracian, Phrygian) were at a halfway stage and the last-emigrated dialects (Slavic, Armenian, Iranian) plus the staybehind Indo-Aryan languages had adopted the satem form. This would satisfy the claim of the so-called Lateral Theory that the most conservative forms are to be found at the outskirts rather than in the metropolis.[22]

Comparative linguistics

Diachronic map showing the Satem areal in red. The central area of Satemization is shown in darker red, corresponding to the Sintashta/Abashevo/Srubna cultures.

There are twelve accepted branches of the Indo-European family. The two Indo-Iranian branches, Indic (Indo-Aryan) and Iranian, dominate the eastern cluster, historically spanning Scythia, Iran and Northern India. While the exact sequence in which the different branches separated or migrated away from a homeland is disputed, linguists generally agree that Anatolian was the first branch to be separated from the remaining body of Indo-European.

Additionally, Graeco-Aryan isoglosses seem suggestive that Greek and Indo-Iranian may have shared a common homeland for a while after the splitting of the other IE branches. Such a homeland could be northwestern India (which is preferred by proponents of the OIT) or the Pontic steppes (as preferred by the mainstream supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis).

According to Hock, if evidence like linguistic isogloss patterns is ignored, then the hypothesis of an Out-of-India migration becomes "relatively easy to maintain".[23]

Substratum influences in Vedic Sanskrit

Evidence of a pre-Indo-European linguistic substratum in South Asia is solid reason to exclude India as a potential Indo-European homeland.[24]

Burrow compiled a list of approximately 500 foreign words in the Ṛgveda that he considered to be loans predominantly from Dravidian. Kuiper identified 383 Ṛgvedic words as non-Indo-Aryan—roughly 4% of its liturgical vocabulary—borrowed from Old Dravidian, Old Munda, and several other languages. Thieme has questioned Dravidian etymologies proposed for Vedic words, for most of which he gives Indoaryan or Sanskrit etymologies, and condemned what he characterizes as a misplaced “zeal for hunting up Dravidian loans in Sanskrit”. Das contends that there is “not a single case in which a communis opinio has been found confirming the foreign origin of a Rigvedic (and probably Vedic in general) word”. Burrow in turn has criticized the "resort to tortuous reconstructions in order to find, by hook or by crook, Indo-European explanations for Sanskrit words". Kuiper reasons that given the abundance of Indo-European comparative material—and the scarcity of Dravidian or Munda—the inability to clearly confirm whether the etymology of a Vedic word is Indo-European implies that it is not. Witzel (1999) argues that the earliest level of the Rigveda shows signs of para-Munda influence and only later levels of Dravidian, suggesting—against the older widespread two-century-old belief—that the original inhabitants of Punjab were speakers of para-Munda rather than speakers of Dravidian, whom the Indo-Aryans encountered only in middle Rigvedic times.[25]

Dravidian and other South Asian languages share with Indo-Aryan a number of syntactical and morphological features that are alien to other Indo-European languages. Phonologically, there is the introduction of retroflexes, which alternate with dentals in Indo-Aryan; morphologically there are the gerunds; and syntactically there is the use of a quotative marker ("iti"). Several linguists, all of whom accept the external origin of the Aryan languages on other grounds, are quite open to considering that various syntactical developments in Indo-Aryan could have been internal developments (Hamp 1996 and Jamison 1989, as cited in Bryant 2001:81–82 rather than the result of substrate influences, or have been the result of adstratum (Hock 1975/1984/1996 and Tikkanen 1987, as cited in Bryant 2001:80–82.[26] About retroflexion Tikkanen (1999) states that "in view of the strictly areal implications of retroflexion and the occurrence of retroflexes in many early loanwords, it is hardly likely that Indo-Aryan retroflexion arose in a region that did not have a substratum with retroflexes."

Another concern raised is that there is large time gap between the comparative materials, which can be seen as a serious methodological drawback.[27] The latter is however not a cogent argument, if one compares, for example modern Lithuanian (laukas patis) with early Vedic Sanskrit (loka-pati), which too are divided by a time span of c. 3200 years.

Elst (1999) proposes that any Dravidian in Sanskrit can still be explained via the OIT. He suggests through David McAlpin's Proto-Elamo-Dravidian theory, that the ancient homeland for Proto-Elamo-Dravidian was in the Mesopotamia region, from where the languages spread across the coast towards Sindh and eventually to South India where they still remain.[28] According to Elst, this theory would support the idea that Early Harappan culture was possibly bi- or multi-lingual. Elst (1999) claims that the presence of the Brahui language, similarities between Elamite and Harappan script as well as similarities between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian indicate that these languages may have interacted prior to the spread of Indo-Aryans southwards and the resultant intermixing of races and languages.

Elfenbein (as cited in Witzel 2000) argues that the presence of Brahui in Baluchistan is explained by a late immigration that took place within the last thousand years.

Elst believes that there is evidence suggesting that Dravidian influences in Maharashtra and Gujarat were largely lost over the years. He traces this to linguistic evidence. Some occurrences in Sangam Tamil, or ancient forms of Tamil, indicate small similarities with Sanskrit or Prakrit. As the oldest recognizable form of Tamil have influences of Indo-Aryan, it is possible that they had Sanskrit influence through a migration through the coastal regions of western India.[29]

Writing specifically about language contact phenomena, Thomason & Kaufman (1988) state that there is strong evidence that Dravidian influenced Indic through "shift", that is, native Dravidian speakers learning and adopting Indic languages. Even though the innovative traits in Indic could be explained by multiple internal explanations, early Dravidian influence is the only explanation that can account for all of the innovations at once – it becomes a question of explanatory parsimony; moreover, early Dravidian influence accounts for the several of the innovative traits in Indic better than any internal explanation that has been proposed.[30]

Erdosy (1995:18) states that the most plausible explanation for the presence of Dravidian structural features in Old Indo-Aryan is that the majority of early Old Indo-Aryan speakers had a Dravidian mother tongue which they gradually abandoned.


Indo-Aryan languages are the oldest source of place and river names in northern India – which Shrikant G. Talageri sees as an argument in favor of seeing Indo-Aryan as the oldest documented population of that area.[31]

According to Witzel, river names are conservative, and "in northern India, rivers in general have early Sanskrit names from the Vedic period, and names derived from the daughter languages of Sanskrit later on."[32] Talageri cites this in support of the Out of India theory,[31] though Witzel himself would dispute jumping to that conclusion.[32] Rather, he points out that non-Sanskritic names are common in the "Sarasvati" (Ghaggar) area.

Kazanas argues that this indicates that the Harappan civilization must have been dominated by Indo-Aryan speakers, supposing that the arrival of Indo-Aryan migrants in Late Harappan times to the remnants of a Indus Valley Civilization formerly stretching over vast area could not have resulted in the suppression of the entire native hydronymy.[33]

However, Witzel argues exactly that: "The failure to preserve old hydronomes even in the Indus Valley (with a few exceptions, noted above) indicates the extent of the social and political collapse experienced by the local population."[32]

Paralleling Witzel, Villar (2000) characterizes place names as the deepest ethnic and linguistic layer, and states that the first network of river and place names in Spain was created by very ancient Indo-European populations, and was dense enough to resist successive language changes. According to Villar (2000), even in those areas which are historically Basque (i.e. non-Indo-European), the ancient names of places and people have a prevailing Indo-European character, with very few names of non-Indo-European Basque etymology documented in ancient sources. Alinei (2003) cites this in support of the Paleolithic Continuity Theory.

Position of Sanskrit

Vedic Sanskrit conserves many archaic aspects, in the words of T. Burrow: "Vedic is a language which in most respects is more archaic and less altered from original Indo-European than any other member of the family".[34]

Kazanas argues that linguistic stability corresponds to geographic stability, claiming that if "the Indo-Aryans were on the move over many thousands of miles (from the Russian steppe, Europe and/or Anatolia) over a very long period of centuries encountering many different other cultures", their "language should have suffered faster and greater changes".[35]

Bryant (2001:144) points out that this reasoning can be countered by arguing that Vedic retained the Indo-European accent because, as a sacerdotal language, it artificially preserved forms that would otherwise have evolved in a normal spoken language. Vedic Sanskrit is, like other sacred languages, an extinct language, having evolved into Classical Sanskrit by the 6th century BC, reaching stability long after Northern India had been settled by Indo-Aryans.

By contrast, Lithuanian is a living, vernacular language that has preserved Indo-European archaisms to the present day, thousands of years longer than Vedic did.[36][37]


The determination of the age in which Vedic literature started and flourished has its consequences for the Indo-Aryan question. The oldest text, the Rigveda, is full of precise references to places and natural phenomena in what are now Punjab and Haryana, and was unmistakably recorded in that part of India.[citation needed] The date at which it was composed is a firm terminus ante quem for the presence of the Vedic Aryans in India. In the academic mainstream view it was composed in mid to late 2nd millennium BC (Late Harappan)[38] and OIT proponents propose a pre-Harappan date.

OIT proponents propose that bulk of Rigveda was composed prior to Indus Valley Civilization by linking archaeological evidence with data from Vedic text and archaeo-astronomical evidence.

Sarasvati River

Many hymns in all ten Books of the Rigveda (except the 4th) extol or mention a divine and very large river named the Sarasvati,[39] which flows mightily "from the mountains to the [Indian] Ocean”.[35][40][41] Talageri states that "the references to the Sarasvati far outnumber the references to the Indus" and "The Sarasvati is so important in the whole of the Rigveda that it is worshipped as one of the Three Great Goddesses".[42][43]

According to palaeoenvironmental scientists the desiccation of Sarasvati came about as a result of the diversion of at least two rivers that fed it, the Satluj and the Yamuna. "The chain of tectonic events ... diverted the Satluj westward (into the Indus) and the Palaeo Yamuna eastward (into the Ganges) ... This explains the ‘death’ of such a mighty river (the Sarasvati) ... because its main feeders, the Satluj and Palaeo Yamuna were weaned away from it by the Indus and the Gangaa respectively”.[44][45] This ended at c 1750, but it started much earlier, perhaps with the upheavals and the large flood of 1900, or more probably 2100.[46][47] P H Francfort, utilizing images from the French satellite SPOT, finds[48] that the large river Sarasvati is pre-Harappan altogether and started drying up in the middle of the 4th millennium BC; during Harappan times only a complex irrigation-canal network was being used in the southern region of the Indus Valley. With this the date should be pushed back to c 3800 BC.

The Nadistuti hymn (RV 10.75) gives a list of names of rivers where Sarasvati is merely mentioned while Sindhu receives all the praise. This may well indicate that RV 10 could be dated to a period after the first drying up of Sarasvati when the river lost its preeminence.[35] It is agreed that the tenth Book of the Rigveda is later than the others.[49]

The 414 archeological sites along the bed of Saraswati dwarf the number of sites so far recorded along the entire stretch of the Indus River, which number only about three dozen. About 80 percent of the sites are datable to the fourth or third millennium BCE, suggesting that the river was in its prime during this period.[50] If this date were used for the composition of the hymns about Sarasvati, then the Indo-Aryans would necessarily have been in India in the 4th millennium BC.

Items not in the Rigveda

Some items typical of later Sanskrit literature are absent from the Rigveda. This is usually taken as strong evidence that the Rigvedic hymns have a geographical background restricted to the extreme northwest of the Indian subcontinent, corresponding to the route of immigration. OIT proponents have taken the same evidence as indicating an extremely early date for the Rigveda, predating the Harappan civilization.

  • The Rigveda does not mention silver, though it does mention ayas (metal or copper/bronze) and candra or hiran-ya (gold). Silver is denoted by rajatám híran-yam literally ‘white gold’ and appears in post-Rigvedic texts. There is a generally accepted demarcation line for the use of silver at around 4000 BC and this metal is archaeologically attested in the Harappan Civilization[35][51][52][53]
  • The Rigveda makes no reference to the Harappan culture. The characteristic features of the Harappan culture are urban life, large buildings, permanently erected fire altars and bricks. There is no word for brick in the Rigveda and iswttakaa (brick) appears only in post-Rigvedic texts. (Kazanas 2000:13)[35] The Rigvedic altar is a shallow bed dug in the ground and covered with grass (e.g. RV 5.11.2, 7.43.2-3; Parpola 1988: 225). Fixed brick-altars are very common in post-Rigvedic texts.[54]
  • The Rigveda mentions no rice or cotton. A compound term is used which later referred to rice cakes used for sacrificial purposes, but the word vrīhí, meaning 'rice', does not occur. Rice was found in at least three Harappan sites: Rangpur (2000 BCE - 1500 BCE), Lothal (c 2000 BCE) and Mohenjodaro (c 2500 BCE) as Piggott,[55] Grist[56] and others testify.[57] Yet, despite the importance of the rice in ritual in later times, the Rigveda makes no mention of it. The cultivation of cotton is well attested in the Harappan civilization and is found at many sites thereafter.[35][58][59][60]
  • Nakshatra were developed in 2400 BCE, they are important in a religious context yet the Rigveda does not mention this, which suggests the Rigveda is before 2400 BCE. The youngest book only mentions constellations,[61] a concept known to all cultures, without specifying them as lunar mansions.[62]
  • On the other hand, it has been claimed that the Rigveda has no term for "sword", while Bronze swords were used aplenty in the Bactrian culture and in Pirak. Ralph Griffith uses “sword” twelve times in his translation, including in the old books 5 and 7, but in most cases a literal translation would be more generic "sharp implement" (e.g. vāśī), the transition from "dagger" to "sword" in the Bronze Age being a gradual process.

The fore-mentioned features are found in post Rigvedic texts – the Samhitas, the Brahmanas and fully in the Sutra literature. For instance, brick altars are mentioned in Satapatha Brahmanaṇa, or etc. Rice ( vrihi ) is found in AV 6.140.2; 7.1.20; etc. Cotton karpasa appears first in Gautama’s (1.18) and in Bandhāyana's (14.13.10) Dharmasūtra. The fact of the convergence of the post-Rigvedic texts and the Harappan culture was noted long ago by archaeologists. Bridget and F. Raymond Allchin stated unequivocally that these features are of the kind “described in detail in the later Vedic literature” (1982: 203).[54]

Based on these set of statements, OIT proponents argue that the whole of the RV, except for some few passages which may be of later date, must have been composed prior to Indus Valley Civilization.[35][60]

Memories of an Urheimat

The fact that the Vedas[63] do not mention the Aryans' presence in India as being the result of a migration or mention any possible Urheimat, has been taken as an argument in favour of the OIT. The reasoning is that it is not uncommon for migrational accounts to be found in early mythological and religious texts, a classical example being the Book of Exodus in the Torah, describing the legendary migration of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan.

Proponents of the OIT, such as Koenraad Elst, argue that it would have been expectable that migrations, and possibly an Urheimat were mentioned in the Rigveda if the Aryans had only arrived in India some centuries before the composition of the earliest Rigvedic hymns. They argue that other migration stories of other Indo-European people have been documented historically or archaeologically, and that the same would be expectable if the Indo-Aryans had migrated into India.[60][64]

From the mainstream academic viewpoint, the concern is the degree of historical accuracy that can be expected from the Rigveda, which is a collection of hymns, not an account of tribal history, and those hymns assumed to reach back to within a few centuries of the period of Indo-Aryan arrival in Gandhara make for just a small portion of the text.[65]

Regarding migration of Indo-Aryans and imposing language on Harappans, Kazanas notes that "The intruders would have been able to rename the rivers only if they were conquerors with the power to impose this. And, of course, the same is true of their Vedic language: since no people would bother of their own free will to learn a difficult, inflected foreign language, unless they had much to gain by this, and since the Aryan immigrants had adopted the “material culture and lifestyle” of the Harappans[66] and consequently had little or nothing to offer to the natives, the latter would have adopted the new language only under pressure. Thus here again we discover that the substratum thinking is invasion and conquest." "But invasion is the substratum of all such theories even if words like ‘migration’ are used. There could not have been an Aryan immigration because (apart from the fact that there is no archaeological evidence for this) the results would have been quite different. Immigrants do not impose their own demands or desires on the natives of the new country: they are grateful for being accepted, for having the use of lands and rivers for farming or pasturing and for any help they receive from the natives; in time it is they who adopt the language (and perhaps the religion) of the natives. You cannot have a migration with the results of an invasion."[67]

Material archaeology

The opinion of the majority of professional archaeologists interviewed seems to be that there is no archaeological evidence to support external Indo-Aryan origins.[68] Thus while the linguistic community stands firm with the Kurgan hypothesis archaeological community tends to be more agnostic.

According to one archaeologist, J.M. Kenoyer:

"Although the overall socioeconomic organization changed, continuities in technology, subsistence practices, settlement organization, and some regional symbols show that the indigenous population was not displaced by invading hordes of Indo-Aryan speaking people. For many years, the ‘invasions’ or ‘migrations’ of these Indo-Aryan-speaking Vedic/Aryan tribes explained the decline of the Indus civilization and the sudden rise of urbanization in the Ganga-Yamuna valley. This was based on simplistic models of culture change and an uncritical reading of Vedic texts..."[69]

The examination of 300 skeletons from the Indus Valley Civilization and comparison of those skeletons with modern-day Indians by Kenneth Kennedy has also been a supporting argument for the OIT. Kennedy claims that the Harappan inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization are no different from the inhabitants of India in the following millennia.[70] However, this does not rule out one version of the Aryan Migration Hypothesis which suggests that the only "migration" was one of languages as opposed to a complete displacement of the indigenous population.

Haüsler (as cited in Bryant 2001:141) also found that archaeological evidence in central Europe showed continuous linear development, with no marked external influences.

Bryant (2001:236) grants that "there is at least a series of archaeological cultures that can be traced approaching the Indian subcontinent, even if discontinuous, which does not seem to be the case for any hypothetical east-to-west emigration."

Genetic anthropology

Distribution of R1a (purple) and R1b (red)

Unlike the Indo-European migration hypothesis, there is no clear genetic evidence for a prehistoric migration out of India. There is no evidence of widespread genetic displacement in Europe after the Paleolithic.[71][72] And Hemphill (1998) finds "no support for any model that calls for the ultimate origins of north Bactrian oasis Oxus Civilization populations to be inhabitants of the Indus Valley."

The virtual absence of India-specific mtDNA haplogroups outside of India has been arguing to preclude a large scale population movement out of India.[73] Tracing a possible "out of India" migration has therefore until recently focused upon Y-chromosome haplogroups. Concerning Y DNA, haplogroup R2 is characterized by genetic marker M124, and is rarely found outside India, Pakistan, Iran, and southern Central Asia. Outside of southern Eurasia, M124 was found at an unusually high frequency of 0.440 among the Kurmanji of Georgia, but at a much lower frequency of only 0.080 among the Kurmanji of Turkmenistan. The M124 frequency of 0.158 found among Chechens may be unrepresentative because it was derived from a sample size of only 19 Chechens. Outside of these populations and the Romani people, M124 is not found in Eastern Europe.[74]

Proposals that there is a sign of movements of people in or out of India that might be associated with Indo-European languages have tended to revolved around Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a1, which is identified with genetic marker M17. On the one hand, this Y lineage tend to be found in higher levels amongst northern Indians and amongst higher castes, and is also found in modern populations in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.[75][76] On the other hand, the pattern within India is not always so clear, with lower castes and southern populations also sometimes showing high levels, and in fact several studies have proposed that the deepest roots of this lineage may be in or near India.[77]

The latest research conducted by Watkins et. al. (2008) also questioned the use of uniparental markers such as Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA, which may have been affected by natural selection; they also argue for the need to analyze autosomal polymorphisms in addition to both Y-chromosomal and mitochondrial DNA in order to generate a comprehensive picture of population genetic structure. The authors of the study write: "The historical record documents an influx of Vedic Indo-European-speaking immigrants into northwest India starting at least 3500 years ago. These immigrants spread southward and eastward into an existing agrarian society dominated by Dravidian speakers. With time, a more highly-structured patriarchal caste system developed ... our data are consistent with a model in which nomadic populations from northwest and central Eurasia intercalated over millennia into an already complex, genetically diverse set of subcontinental populations. As these populations grew, mixed, and expanded, a system of social stratification likely developed in situ, spreading to the Indo-Gangetic plain, and then southward over the Deccan plateau."[78]

Reich et al. (2009) indicates that the modern Indian population is a result of admixture between Indo-European (ANI) and Dravidian (ASI) populations. The authors of the study write: "It is tempting to assume that the population ancestral to ANI and CEU spoke 'Proto-Indo-European', which has been reconstructed as ancestral to both Sanskrit and European languages, although we cannot be certain without a date for ANI–ASI mixture." [79] Recent research indicates a massive admixture event between ANI-ASI populations 3500 to 1200 years ago.[80]


  • The linguistic center of gravity principle states that a language family's most likely point of origin is in the area of its greatest diversity. Only one branch of Indo-European, Indo-Aryan, is found in India, whereas the Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Thracian, and Greek branches of Indo-European are all found in Central-Eastern Europe. Because it requires a greater number of long migrations, an Indian Urheimat is far less likely than one closer to the center of Indo-European linguistic diversity.[13][81][82] However, the existence of the Tocharian language family in Western China would shift the center of gravity eastward. Some scholars argue that the various language families in Central and Eastern Europe evolved fairly recently, which implies that there was less diversity in the western side of the Indo-European language family during the 2nd millennium BCE at a time contemporaneous with Vedic Sanskrit.[83]
  • The Indic languages show the influence of the Dravidian and Munda language families. No other branch of Indo-European does. If the Indo-European homeland had been located in India, then the Indo-European languages should have shown some influence from Dravidian and Munda.[84][85]
  • To postulate the migration of PIE speakers out of India necessitates an earlier dating of the Rigveda than is normally accepted by Vedic scholars in order to make a deep enough period of migration to allow for the longest migrations to be completed.(Mallory 1989)[page needed]

See also

Competing hypotheses


  1. ^ George Erdosy (1995:x) describes it as "lunatic fringe" and "devoid of scholarly value".
  2. ^ Witzel, Michael (2006), "Rama's realm: Indocentric rewritings of early South Asian archaeology and history", in Fagan, Garrett G., Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public, Routledge, pp. 203–232 
  3. ^ a b Chetan Bhatt (2001), Hindu Nationalism: Origins, Ideologies and Modern Myths, Berg Publishers, p. 205, ISBN 1859733484 
  4. ^ Mallory (1989:185). "The Kurgan solution is attractive and has been accepted by many archaeologists and linguists, in part or total. It is the solution one encounters in the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Grand Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse."
  5. ^ Cavalli-Sforza (2000:152) "The Aryan invasions of Iran, Pakistan, and India brought Indo-European languages to Dravidian-speaking areas."
  6. ^ Mallory 1989 "the great majority of scholars insist that the Indo-Aryans were intrusive into northwest India"
  7. ^ Trautmann, The Aryan Debate p. xiii (2005) "The indigenous Aryan view is not a recent invention, and there have always been some scholars who supported it."
  8. ^ Trautmann, The Aryan Debate pxii (2005) "There are others taking up the indigenous aryan position who are very well qualified, and whose scholarly credentials entitle them to a respectful hearing."
  9. ^ Trautmann, The Aryan Debate p. xviii (2005) "unflattering labels such as 'Hindu nationalist' and 'Hindutva' are thrown about as if they were proofs that the arguments of the writers opponent were not true...identifying the social historical location of a piece of history writing does not tell us whether it is true or false."
  10. ^ a b c d Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas, Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism (New York University Press, 1998, hardcover: ISBN 0-8147-3110-4, paperback: ISBN 0-8147-3111-2)
  11. ^ Friedrich von Schlegel: Ueber die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier (1808)
  12. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 69
  13. ^ a b Mallory (1989:152–153)
  14. ^ Witzel, Michael (April 2001). "Westward Ho!: The Incredible Wanderlust of the Ṛgvedic tribes Exposed by S. Talageri" (PDF). Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies. http://www.ejvs.laurasianacademy.com/ejvs0702/ejvs0702article.pdf. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
    Talageri 2000:"Chapter 9 (Appendix 2): Michael Witzel - An Examination of Western Vedic Scholarship".
    Elst, Koenraad (2005-10-19). "Petty Professorial Politicking in The Indo-Aryan Controversy". The Koenraad Elst Site. Voice of Dharma. http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.org/articles/fascism/witzelmisattribute.html. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  15. ^ "Editor's Note" of JIES 30 (2002, n.3&4, p.273-274
  16. ^ Journal of Indo-European Studies 30, 2002 .
    Journal of Indo-European Studies 31, 2003 .
  17. ^ Witzel The Kazanas Fiasco
  18. ^ Kazanas Message to V Agarwal
  19. ^ a b c d The Aryan Non-Invasionist Model by Koenraad Elst
  20. ^ Bryant (2001:74–107)
  21. ^ Edwin F. Bryant, Linguistic Substrata and the Indigenous Aryan Debate (1996)
  22. ^ Elst 1999:"3.2 Origin of the Linguistic Argument"
  23. ^ Hock, H.H. (1996), "Out of India? The linguistic evidence", in Bronkhorst, J.; Deshpande, M.M., Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia: Evidence, Interpretation, and Ideology, Harvard Oriental Series, 1999, ISBN 1888789042 . On p 14 is Fig 1, the cladistic tree of the IE branches. On p 15 is Fig 2, the diagram of isoglosses. On p 16 he states that if only the model in Fig 1 is accepted, then the hypothesis of an Out-of-India migration would be "relatively easy to maintain", i.e. provided the evidence of Fig 2 were ignored.
  24. ^ Bryant (2001:76)
  25. ^ Thieme, Burrow, and Das, as cited in Bryant (2001:86–88)
    Kuiper, as cited in Witzel (1999) and Bryant (2001:87)
  26. ^ Bryant (2001:78–82)
  27. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 82 - the syntax of the Rigveda is being compared with a reconstructed proto-Dravidian. The first completely intelligible, datable, and sufficiently long and complete epigraphs that might be of some use in linguistic comparison are the Tamil inscriptions of the Pallava dynasty of about 550 c.e. (Zvelebil 1990), two entire millennia after the commonly accepted date for the Rigveda. Similarly there is much less material available for comparative Munda and the interval in their case at least is a staggering thirty-five hundred years.
  28. ^ D. McAlpin Linguistic Prehistory: The Dravidian Situation 1979
  29. ^ Elst (1999)[page needed]; Influence of Sanskrit or Prakrit on Sangam Tamil can be seen in some particular terms. For example, AkAyam (meaning sky) is thought to be derived from AkAsha, while Ayutham (meaning weapon) is thought to be derived from Ayudha.
  30. ^ Thomason & Kaufman (1988:141–144)
  31. ^ a b Talageri 2000:"Chapter 7: The Indo-European Homeland"
  32. ^ a b c Witzel. "Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parametres", in Erdosy (1995)
  33. ^ Kazanas, Nicholas 2001b — Indigenous Indoaryans and the Rgveda — Journal of Indo-European Studies, volume 29, pages 257-93
  34. ^ T Burrow — The Sanskrit Language (1973): "Vedic is a language which in most respects is more archaic and less altered from original Indo-European than any other member of the family" (34: emphasis added); he also states that root nouns, "very much in decline in the earliest recorded Indo-European languages", are preserved better in Sanskrit, and later adds, "Chiefly owing to its antiquity the Sanskrit language is more readily analysable, and its roots more easily separable from accretionary elements than... any other IE language" (123, 289); see also Beekes, R.S.P., 1990: Vergelijkende Taalwetenschap cited by K Elst 2005. Tussen Sanskrit en Nederlands, Het Spectrum, Utrecht, "The distribution [of the two stems as/s for "to be"] in Sanskrit is the oldest one" (Beekes 1990:37); "PIE had 8 cases, which Sanskrit still has" (Beekes 1990:122); "PIE had no definite article. That is also true for Sanskrit and Latin, and still for Russian. Other languages developed one" (Beekes 1990:125); "[For the declensions] we ought to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-Iranian first,... But we will do with the Sanskrit because we know that it has preserved the essential information of the Proto-Indo-Iranian" (Beekes 1990:148); "While the accentuation systems of the other languages indicate a total rupture, Sanskrit, and to a lesser extent Greek, seem to continue the original IE situation" (Beekes 1990:187); "The root aorist... is still frequent in Indo-Iranian, appears sporadically in Greek and Armenian, and has disappeared elsewhere" (Beekes 1990:279)
  35. ^ a b c d e f g A new date for the Rgveda by N Kazanas published in Philosophy and Chronology, 2000, ed G C Pande & D Krishna, special issue of Journal of Indian Council of Philosophical Research (June, 2001)
  36. ^ Bryant (2001:239–240) "Lithuanian, for example, preserves archaic Indo-European features to this very day."
  37. ^ Meillet, A. (1908) (in French), Introduction à l'étude comparative des langues indo-européennes (2ème corrigé et augmentée ed.), Paris: Hachette, p. 46, "Le lituanien est remarquable par son aspect d'antiquité indo-européenne; il est frappant d'y trouve encore au XVIe siècle et jusqu'aujourd'hui des formes qui recouvrent exactement des formes védiques ou homériques et qui reproduisent presque parfaitement des formes indo-européennes supposées "Lithuanian is remarkable for its aspect of Indo-European antiquity; it is striking to still find in Lithuanian in the 16th century and until today forms which are exactly congruent with Vedic or Homeric forms and which reproduce almost perfectly supposed Indo-European forms."" 
  38. ^ But Indo-Aryan presence may predate the Rigveda by several centuries even in the immigrationist view; according to Asko Parpola's scenario , the Rigvedic Aryans were not the first wave to reach India; his Indo-Aryan "Indian Dasa" were the bearers of the Cemetery H culture from around 1900 BC; Asko Parpola, 'The formation of the Aryan branch of Indo-European', in Blench and Spriggs (eds), Archaeology and Language III, London and New York (1999).
  39. ^ BBC India's miracle river
  40. ^ Rigveda VII, 95, 2. giríbhya aaZ samudraZat
  41. ^ Kazanas 2000:4
  42. ^ Talageri, 2000: Ch 4: The Rigvedic Rivers
  43. ^ The RigVeda - A Historical Analysis by Shrikant G. Talageri
  44. ^ Rao 1991: 77-9
  45. ^ Feuerstein et al. 1995: 87-90
  46. ^ Elst 1993: 70
  47. ^ Allchins 1997: 117
  48. ^ Francfort 1992
  49. ^ (Kazanas 2000:4, 5)
  50. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 167
  51. ^ Allchins 1969: 285
  52. ^ Rao 1991: 171
  53. ^ Allchins et. all cited by Kazanas 2000:1
  54. ^ a b Rig-Veda is pre-Harappan by N Kazanas
  55. ^ Piggott 1961: 259
  56. ^ Grist 1965
  57. ^ Rao 1991: 24, 101, 150 etc
  58. ^ Piggott et. all cited by Kazanas 2000:13
  59. ^ Elst 1999: Ch 5.3.10
  60. ^ a b c Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate by Koenraad Elst
  61. ^ RV 10:85:2
  62. ^ Bernard Sergent: Genèse de l’Inde, 1997 p.118 cited by Elst 1999: Ch 5.5) Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate by Koenraad Elst
  63. ^ Cardona 2002: 33-35; Cardona, George. The Indo-Aryan languages, RoutledgeCurzon; 2002 ISBN 0-7007-1130-9
  64. ^ Elst 1999: Ch 4.6
  65. ^ e.g. Thomas Oberlies, Die Religion des Rgveda, Wien 1998, p. 188.
  66. ^ Allchins 1997: 223
  67. ^ `The AIT and scholarship' by Kazanas July 2001 Page 2,3
  68. ^ Bryant 2001, p. 231
  69. ^ J. M. Kenoyer: “The Indus Valley Tradition of Pakistan and Western India”, Journal of World Prehistory, 1991/4; cited in Bryant 2001:190
  70. ^ (Hemphill, Lukacs and Kennedy 1991, see also Kenneth Kennedy 1995)
  71. ^ Richards et al. (1996), "Paleolithic and neolithic lineages in the European mitochondrial gene pool", American journal of human genetics 59 (1): 185–203 .
  72. ^ Semino et al.; Passarino, G; Oefner, PJ; Lin, AA; Arbuzova, S; Beckman, LE; De Benedictis, G; Francalacci, P et al. (2000), "The Genetic Legacy of Paleolithic Homo sapiens sapiens in Extant Europeans: A Y Chromosome Perspective", Science 290 (5494): 1155–1159, Bibcode 2000Sci...290.1155S, doi:10.1126/science.290.5494.1155, PMID 11073453 .
  73. ^ Chaubey et al. (2007)
  74. ^ Kivisild (2003)
    Nasidze et al.; Quinque, D; Ozturk, M; Bendukidze, N; Stoneking, M (2005), "MtDNA and Y-chromosome Variation in Kurdish Groups", Annals of Human Genetics 69 (Pt 4): 401–412, doi:10.1046/j.1529-8817.2005.00174.x, PMID 15996169 .
    Nasidze et al. (2003), Hum Genet 112: 255–261 .
    Wells et al. (2001)
  75. ^ Wells (2002:167)
  76. ^ http://www.ichg2011.org/cgi-bin/ichg11s?abst=stepanov%20hindustan&sort=ptimes&sbutton=Detail&absno=20168&sid=252250
  77. ^ Kivisild et al. (2003), Mirabal et al. (2009), Underhill et al. (2009), Sengupta et al. (2005), Sahoo et al. (2006), Sharma et al. (2009), and Thangaraj et al. (2010).
  78. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2621241/?tool=pubmed
  79. ^ http://genepath.med.harvard.edu/~reich/2009_Nature_Reich_India.pdf
  80. ^ http://www.ichg2011.org/cgi-bin/ichg11s?author=Moorjani%20P&sort=ptimes&sbutton=Detail&absno=20758&sid=15004
  81. ^ Sapir (1949:455)
  82. ^ Dyen (1965), as quoted in Bryant 2001, p. 142
  83. ^ Bryant (2001:150)
  84. ^ Parpola 2005, p. 48. "...numerous loanwords and even structural borrowings from Dravidian have been identified in Sanskrit texts composed in northwestern India at the end of the second and first half of the first millennium BCE, before any intensive contact between North and South India. External evidence thus suggests that the Harappans most probably spoke a Dravidian language."
  85. ^ Mallory 1989, p. 44. "The most obvious explanation of this situation is that the Dravidian languages once occupied nearly all of the Indian subcontinent and it is the intrusion of Indo-Aryans that engulfed them in north India leaving but a few isolated enclaves."

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