Aryan theory in NCERT History Textbooks and the theory’s upcoming Star-Plus TV-series avatar “Aarambh”

On page 18 (in Theme 1: Bricks, Beads and Bones (The Harappan Civilization)) of the NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) Textbook in History of Class XII (titled Themes in Indian History Part 1), one would find the section titled ‘Evidence of an “invasion”’ (reproduced below), which houses the only-found occurrences of the word “Aryan”, from across all latest editions of the nine NCERT textbooks of History (3 textbooks for Class XII and 1 textbook each for Classes VI-XI).


By way of context, it might help to first read closely the two statements that contain the occurrences of the word “Aryan”:

“The Rigveda mentions pur, meaning rampart, fort or stronghold. Indra, the Aryan war-god is called puramdara, the fort-destroyer.”

“Here we have a highly evolved civilisation of essentially non-Aryan type, now known to have employed massive fortifications … What destroyed this firmly settled civilisation?”

From the above two statements and from the fact that they are included in the section 
 ‘Evidence of an “invasion”’, one can deduce that the “invasion” being referred to in the title is the otherwise so-called “Aryan Invasion” of the “Aryan Invasion Theory”.

The title of this section – Evidence of an “invasion” – seems to indicate to the reader that the reader will be presented evidence of some real invasion. The section, however, ends with “As you can see, a careful re-examination of the data can sometimes lead to a reversal of earlier interpretations.”, seeming to imply that the “invasion” was merely an earlier interpretation whose conclusion has been reversed by a more closer re- examination. In light of the last line, does the title not seem misleading? Why is the title not explicit in calling out that Aryan invasion a) was, to begin with, just a theory (conjecture, actually) with no real conclusive evidence, and b) is theory that has been discredited, making it effectively, a myth.

The ambiguity of the title though, seems to be be in keeping with the larger agency of keeping alive the Aryan race theory in some form or the other: first an invasion, then a migration, despite increasing pile of 21st century, multi-disciplinary, hard-science evidence like Genetics (see herehere and here) which seriously challenge the theory.

For the benefit of the reader, the conclusion portions from the three articles hyper-linked above, all written by Michel Danino (author of many books, including Indian Culture and India’s future and speaker in multiple youtube series’, focusing on ‘Exploring Indian civilisation’ (a sixteen-part 2015 video series from IIT Kanpur) the Aryan issue (a five-part series of videos) and now a member of the revamped Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR)), are reproduced below:

Source 1: 


Source 2: 


It is, of course, still possible to find genetic studies trying to interpret differences between North and South Indians or higher and lower castes within the invasionist framework, but that is simply because they take it for granted in the first place. None of the nine major studies quoted above lends any support to it, and none proposes to define a demarcation line between tribe and caste. The overall picture emerging from these studies is, first, an unequivocal rejection of a 3500-BP arrival of a “Caucasoid” or Central Asian gene pool. Just as the imaginary Aryan invasion / migration left no trace in Indian literature, in the archaeological and the anthropological record, it is invisible at the genetic level. The agreement between these different fields is remarkable by any standard, and offers hope for a grand synthesis in the near future, which will also integrate agriculture and linguistics.

Secondly, they account for India’s considerable genetic diversity by using a time- scale not of a few millennia, but of 40,000 or 50,000 years. In fact, several experts, such as Lluís Quintana-Murci,20 Vincent Macaulay,21 Stephen Oppenheimer,22 Michael Petraglia,23 and their associates, have in the last few years proposed that when Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa, he first reached South-West Asia around 75,000 BP, and from here, went on to other parts of the world. In simple terms, except for Africans, all humans have ancestors in the North-West of the Indian peninsula. In particular, one migration started around 50,000 BP towards the Middle East and Western Europe:

“indeed, nearly all Europeans — and by extension, many Americans — can trace their ancestors to only four mtDNA lines, which appeared between 10,000 and 50,000 years ago and originated from South Asia.” 24

Oppenheimer, a leading advocate of this scenario, summarizes it in these words:

“For me and for Toomas Kivisild, South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of M17 and his ancestors; and sure enough we find the highest rates and greatest diversity of the M17 line in Pakistan, India, and eastern Iran, and low rates in the Caucasus. M17 is not only more diverse in South Asia than in Central Asia, but diversity characterizes its presence in isolated tribal groups in the south, thus undermining any theory of M17 as a marker of a ‘male Aryan invasion’ of India. One average estimate for the origin of this line in India is as much as 51,000 years. All this suggests that M17 could have found his way initially from India or Pakistan, through Kashmir, then via Central Asia and Russia, before finally coming into Europe.”25

 Source 3: 


That the invasionist scholars should have skirted such important issues, as regards both findings and methodology, does little to inspire confidence. Clearly, the whole question of the Vedic and Harappan horse has been treated simplistically. To sum up:

1. Several species of Equus, including the true horse, existed in the Indus- Sarasvati civilization, probably in small numbers. Some of them may have entered India over a much longer time span than is usually granted, in the course of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization’s interactions with neighbouring areas, but certainly not through any Aryan invasion or migration, which in any case has already been rejected by archaeological, anthropological, genetic, literary and cultural evidence.70

2. This process continued with a gradual but slight increase after the end of the mature phase of the Indus-Sarasvati civilization right up to early historical times. There was no epoch exhibiting a sudden, first-time introduction of the animal.

3. The Rig-Veda has been misread; it tells us strictly nothing about a sizeable horse population, and rather suggests its rarity. The animal was important in symbolic, not quantitative terms.

4. The Rig-Veda also tells us nothing about conquering Aryans hurtling down from Afghanistan in their horse-drawn “thundering” chariots and crushing indigenous tribal populations; it is high time we abandoned once and for all those perverse fancies of nineteenth-century scholars, even if some of their peers hang on to such myths even today.

The hypothesis I have put forward is testable: if correct, we should expect further excavations of Harappan sites to come up with more horse remains and depictions, although nothing on the scale that the Aryan invasion theory wrongly expects of a Vedic society — and has failed to document in post-
Harappan India.

A logical question that would follow is: “Why the need to keep the Aryan race theory alive and what led to it in the first place”? One answer to the above question can be found in the Rajiv Malhotra’s blog titled: “European Misappropriation Of Sanskrit Led To The Aryan Race Theory” which, amongst other things, includes a few pointers to the very real societal problems in India that are taking further (almost seemingly irreversible) shape on the basis of this weakly substantiated, politically motivated, foreign (to indigenous-Bharat) race theory.

More mainstream media content based on this theory is apparently in the making, in form of a Star Plus India TV series (under production) named “Aarambh”. Like his Facebook Live review-video threading bare many aspects of the recent movie Mohenjodaro” (see here) , Mr. Malhotra has, in about 12 or so minutes, articulated his views in the context of “Aarambh” (see here) (with some brief yet insightful references to the 2016 book “Tamil Nadu – The land of Vedas” by renowned Chennai-based archeologist Dr. Nagaswamy, from whom I had the pleasure of directly purchasing a copy of the book, during its launch).

A long list of objective scholars, irrespective of nationality, have called for, and continue to call for a critical analysis of this divide-inducing racial theory. With stalwarts like Michel Danino and MD Srinivas  (amongst many others) now in the scheme of things at ICHR (Indian Council for Historical Research), while the likelihood of atleast an initiation  of systemic change may perhaps finally be an impending reality and not just a pipe dream, actual trickle down of systemic changes (if they do happen) would take a lot of time (years) and during which, avoiding further worsening of divisiveness in Indian society (or at the vey least, being informed about it and raising awareness) is perhaps the responsibility of every Indian student of objectivity. Mr. Malhotra has and continues to show the way in taking initiatives to, amongst other things, awaken the contemporary Indian. Are we listening and doing our bit?


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