The question of origin of Aryans has been not only a fascinating story but also a matter of controversy. The Aryan migration theory says that the groups of nomadic tribal people from regions outside Indian sub-continent started migrating towards India around 1700 BC. These people are called Rig-Vedic Aryans because they brought with them the earliest portion of collection of hymns as Rig-Veda. These people mixed with the non-Aryans and a new society was born with mix Aryan and Non-Aryan cultural elements; and eventually Aryan elements increasing occupying a central place.

Because of absence of written / archaeological evidences on Aryan migration the scholars have depended on comparative philology mainly to make these postulations.

However, there are three particular questions with this. First – What was the original home of Aryans? Second – If Aryans were outsiders, then who were original inhabitants of India, and what happened to them when Aryans came? Third – Is there any conspiracy behind foreign origin of Aryans to divide the Indian society? The second and third questions have been particularly raised by the revisionists who deny the very non-Indian origin of Aryans.

Original home of Aryans

The various scholars and their suggested original homes are as follows:

  • Max Muller – Central Asia
  • Swami Dayanand Saraswati – Tibet
  • Mayor – Pamir Plateau
  • Hurz Feld – Turkistan
  • J C Rod – Bactria
  • Lokmanya Tilak – Arctic region
Central Asia as Aryan Home

As per this, the original home of the Aryans was in the Eurasian steppes lands north and east of Black Sea and extending towards Caspian Sea. Sometime during the third millennium BC, due to climatic and environmental changes, the groups of people from these areas migrated to variety of zones outside their original homeland. Max Muller, a German scholar of comparative philology propounded the Central Asian home theory of Aryans. Apart from philology, scant resources of archaeology and examination of oral traditions also support this theory. These people domesticated horse and had developed wheeled vehicles so make the migration easier. However, these people did not come in a mighty torrent to spread with force of arms. The migration was slow, gradual and mostly peaceful. They spoke a variety of languages and dialects. When they settled into different areas, their language and culture mixed and original vocabulary was augmented and modified. This theory also tried to explain the further expansion of Aryans in India. In around 2000BC, there were two areas in which Aryans settled. First was in Afghanistan from modern Kabul to Peshawar while second was Kandahar. The Rig- Vedic Aryans moved from there about 1400 BC, crossing the various rivers and proceeding towards either the Swat valley or Punjab. This entire region including Afghanistan, Swat valley, Punjab and Indo- Gangetic watershed is collectively referred once as Sapta Sindhava, the land of the seven rivers.

The Rig-Veda – Avesta Link

It has been established that the between 1700 BC and 1400 BC, two peoples Avestan and Rigvedic co-existed in same area. They represent the two most important arms of the Indo-Iranian tradition as a whole. They had common culture, mythology and rituals before they separated. They worshipped a number of Gods together. Both shared the tradition of composing hymns in praise of their gods. Both have revered the nature gods such as wind, sun, sky etc. Some of the earliest prayers of both of them are similar. Sanskrit is close to the language of Yashts, the earliest hymns of Avesta {sacred text of Zorastrians}. Both groups shared a common habit of drinking juice of fertility plant {probably Ephedra spp) called Soma in Rig-Veda and Haoma in Avesta. Similarly, the symbolic importance of fire in the rituals of both groups is also notable. Thus, taking into account the similarities in mythology, language, religious practice, beliefs etc. it can be safely concluded that the traditions of Avesta and Rig-Veda emerged from a single common source.

Tibet Home Theory

In Satyarth Prakash, Swami Dayanand Saraswati propounded that the original home of the Aryans was Tibet. Logic given was that sun and fire was worshipped in Tibet due to extreme cold; and the flora and fauna mentioned in Rig-Veda were found in Tibet. This theory was bought by only a few, however, Nazis took is seriously and sent an expedition to Tibet to get some clues.

Arctic Home Theory

Lokmanya Tilak in his book “The Arctic Home in the Vedas” propounded that North Pole was the original home of Aryans during pre-glacial period. He used Vedic hymns, Avestic passages, Vedic chronology and Vedic calendars and compared them with the geological, astronomical, and archaeological evidences to to conclude that the primordial cradle of the Aryan race was North Pole, before the changed climatic conditions forced them to move southward into present-day Europe, Iran, and India.

Analyzing the Revisionist Arguments

Though there have been considerable evidences that Aryans were migrants, yet an aggressive campaign of revisionism launched by some writers that Indian Civilization is purely Indian. First argument towards this is that Indus Valley Civilization and Vedic Aryan Culture are one and same; and it was in fact the Saraswati Culture as evident from settlements discovered along or in the direction of now dried up Saraswati River. However, this argument countered on the basis that nowhere in the Rig-Vedic texts there is a mention of cities of Indus or Saraswati. In fact, the Indus Valley Culture came into light only in 19th century and it was not even recognized in India until then.

Second argument is that the Vedic books don’t discuss any of the foreign lands of west, neither Iran nor Central Asia not Afghanistan from where the Aryans are supposed to come. However, this argument is countered that the texts have obliquely given reference to the places, rivers, animals, etc. of that land.

Archaeological Evidences

As mentioned above, there are not many archaeological evidences to clearly prove the migration of Aryans. However, there are three documents which contain references to Aryan names. Interestingly, none of these comes from Iran or Afghanistan or Central Asia but from Mesopotamia.

Firstly, in the documents of the Kassite rulers of Babylon (c. 1750 BC–1170 BC) there is reference of two gods’ viz. Suriya (sun god) and Marutta (god of war) and a King called Abiratta (Abhiratha).

Secondly, there was a Mittani Kingdom in the North-West of Babylon in 1500 to 1300BC in which some documents list the names of princes and noblemen. Some of them are Indrota (Indra), Sauksatra, Purusa etc.

Thirdly, the most important evidence comes from the Boghazkoi tablet inscription found in eastern Turkey. These inscriptions record the details of a treaty signed in around 1350BC between the losers Mittani and victors Hitties. Both the sides have listed their Gods. The Gods of Mittani are Indra, Varuna, Nasatya etc. which are clearly Rig-Vedic. In Rig-Veda, these Gods have been assigned the task of overseeing the treaties.