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THE MYTH OF THE ARYAN INVASION THEORY

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One of the main ideas used to interpret and generally devalue the ancient history of India is The Aryan Invasion Theory. It’s a hypothesis which speculates that the Aryans, the people who wrote the Vedas might be barbaric fair skinned nomads who migrated from Central Asia and destroyed the Indigenous Harappan civilization, which was inhabited by the dark skinned Dravidians. The exodus of the Aryans happened around 1500-1450 BC when the Aryans arrived on their horse-drawn chariots and iron weapons and overthrew the cities of the more advanced Indus valley culture, with their superior battle tactics.

This theory was first introduced by the Germans and then propagated by the British. Influential men like Macaulay, with the help of the East India Company, widely propagated this theory in India for the sake of Christianity. He even took reference of the battle between light and darkness mentioned in the Vedas and interpreted it as the battle between the fair skinned Aryans and dark skinned Dravidians to suite their narrative.

The word “Aryan” doesn’t exist in Sanskrit. What exists is the word “Arya” and this word has nothing to do with race. It means a worthy, respectable, honorable, or a noble person. It has been mentioned a few times in the Rig Veda to denote a good worthy family man who respects the traditions of his country, who is a good housekeeper and duly performs the rites of yajña. An Arya can be a Brahmin or a Kshatriya or a Vyshya or a Shudra. Anyone who is worthy and honorable from any section of the society is called Arya. In the Ramayana, Shri Ram was called an Arya and in the Mahabharata the Pandavas were called Arya because they were kings of great character. A man of principle, a man of character who is an example to others, a leader is an Arya. People like Swami Vivekanand, Mahatma Gandhi, Rani Lakshmi Bai and APJ Abdul Kalam all are Aryas.

Over the years the word Arya has found its place in various Indian languages. The words ariya, ayya, ajja and aje are the distorted versions of the word Arya found in languages such as Pali and Prakriti. It has taken the form of “ayya” in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada.

The word “Arya” is probably one of most misused, misunderstood and misinterpreted words in recent times. After Hitler adapted the word to denote pure German race, the word became synonymous with racism. This has been used politically for some 160 years by major state actors such as the British empire and Nazi Germany, and in India by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Ambedkarites (though BR Ambedkar himself emphatically rejected it), the Dravidianists, the missionaries and of course, the secularists.

This bunch of lies that the East India Company perpetuated, created a conflict between North and South Indians and this had a lasting effect. The British fostered it and financed it and through the English education made sure that no one knew the source of the Indian culture. They provided a platform from where the newly educated Indian elite would see the differences between them and the Bible and choose the latter.  

The rift that was created led to the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu which changed the politics of the land for ever. It went to such an extent that during the final days of British rule, they wanted a separate Dravidastan. When they were denied, they begged the British not leave India especially Tamil Nadu. They could not identify themselves as Indians and the concept of one India seemed alien to them.

To begin with, the word Dravida is not a Tamil word.  The Dravidian word is a Sanskrit word. It was used and propagated by Adi Shankaracharya when he set out on his goal of spiritually re-unifying India. At that time six primary orthodox schools of philosophy exist in India. They are – nyaya, vaisheshika, mimamsa, vedanta, sankhya and yoga. At different periods in time, India has produced exceptional scholars who were unconditional masters in these respective schools of thought. It has often been the custom among learned men to debate the merits and demerits of these various systems of philosophy. When one scholar won, typically the other would renounce his philosophy to serve the winner as a disciple. Of course, the disciple’s disciples also became new disciples. Shankaracharya realized that unless he was able to win over his powerful rivals, his goal of spiritually re-unifying India would remain difficult to fulfill. So he set out on a tour throughout India debating with great scholars of each school of thought and defeating them.

One such famous debate took place between the two very renowned scholars – Adi Shankaracharya and Mandana Misra at Varanasi. At the beginning of the debate when the judge asked Adi Shankaracharya for his introduction he replied “I am a Dravida Shishu.” The Sanskrit word Dravida is a combination of two words “Drav” meaning water and “Vid” meaning ridge or edge. So the word Dravida roughly translates into “the edge of water” or “the place where waters meet.” The word Dravida is purely geographical which Adi Shankaracharya had used to tell the North Indians that he was from the South of India from a place where three water bodies or oceans meet.

Recent DNA evidence further negates the Aryan invasion theory. Advances in genetics make it possible to show ancient migrations. It has been proved by research around the world that the race Aryan did not exist anywhere else other than India. So there is no question of Aryans coming from Central Asia and Middle Asia. To test this hypothesis many leading agencies in the field of genetics took the DNA samples from the people of various races  living in Central Asia middle Asia and East Asia and compare them to the DNA samples taken from North Indians and South Indians of different casts. And then it was found that the DNA samples taken from India did not match with any race of people from the Central Asia or middle Asia. But we find the reverse Indians went from India to Central Asia to South Asia and East Asia and went all over the world and spread dangerous culture tradition and religion throughout the world. Also the DNA of North Indians and South Indians were found to be same. So the entire of India is made up of only one race of people indigenous to the land.

Geographical details also challenge the theory. The recent discovery of the dried-up Saraswati River further negates the Aryan invasion theory. Satellite photography from outer space shows the existence of a dried-up river bed in Northern India. The archeological evidence indicates that the river dried up completely about 1900 BC, much before 1500 BC, the date ascribed to Aryan invasions. Saraswati is mentioned numerous times in the Vedic scriptures of the Aryans, indicating that these people lived in India during very ancient times. The Rig Veda has numerous references to ocean, ships, sailing, storms and waves, all of which invaders from Central Asia would not have known about.

From the study of genetics and geography and ancient texts now it is generally accepted that modern man arose in East Africa about 200,000 years ago. From there, they spread to India about 90,000 years ago taking the southern route to Yemen, Sindh and the Indus region. In India, along the banks of river Saraswati, they multiplied and spread to other parts of Asia and Europe. Africa was the cradle of mankind and India was its nursery. When Saraswati dried up these people were forced to leave their homes and some migrated towards the south and some towards Europe taking their culture and traditions with them.

One should wonder why of all the nations in the world, India alone is historically known as Aryavarta, the land of the Aryas? If the Aryas really came from Europe or elsewhere, those countries too should have been known as the same. India was and is the birthplace of Aryas, the ancient men of nobility, the original followers of the Vedic way of life, who were frequently mentioned in the Upanishads.

A nation, whose populace is psychologically weak and is a victim of inferiority complex, can be enslaved easily. Islamic & Christian subjugation of other cultures was done with relative ease. Islam went to Iran which was a hundred percent Zoroastrian country. Within 15 years of conquest of Iran, it was converted into hundred percent Islam. Neighborhood Babylon and Mesopotamia after takeover by Islam, they converted them into hundred percent Islam within seventeen years. The same thing happened in Egypt Within twenty one years they became hundred percent Islam. Christians went to Europe and the converted Europeans into hundred percent Christians in fifty years.

But in India after 800 years of Islamic rule and 200 years of Christian rule and we’re still 80% Hindus. In India the foreigners could not apply the same methods with this civilizational state which they have applied elsewhere successfully. We Indians fought against them and resisted them in every step. So the Christian invaders systematically studied Indian civilization to manufacture perverted interpretations of sacred traditions and prove that Hindus were/are a bunch of barbarians and such barbarianism is inbuilt in their tradition. India has never been a free land of the indigenous people and whoever came from outside dominated and ruled the people existing before them.  And this gave birth to the most bizarre theory in history known as “The Aryan Invasion Theory.”

This theory was given to justify the rule of the invaders and portraying them as a superior culture that every Indians should adopt. It was a vast cover up which made the Indians to look down upon their own native religious scriptures as something foreign and alien to them. It was deliberately theorized so that Indians should not go back to their roots and to look down upon the Vedic culture as nomadic warriors without any useful wisdom or knowledge which can be derived from them.

Yes it has been seventy years since we became free of those invaders, but still our history books have continued to propagate this obsolete fiction that degrades and divides her people. They have allowed their political biases and career interests to take precedence over the education of children. They continue to propagate a version that has no scientific basis. I think it’s high time for us to edit our books so that our younger generations will get a real picture of our culture and traditions. Because as the famous English writer Terry Pratchett once said, “It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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