by N.S. Rajaram
The evidence of science now points to two basic conclusions: first, there was no Aryan invasion, and second, the Rigvedic people were already established in India no later than 4000 BC. How are we then to account for the continued presence of the Aryan invasion version of history in history books and encyclopedias even today? Some of the results - like Jha's decipherment of the Indus script - are relatively recent, and it is probably unrealistic to expect history books to reflect all the latest findings. But unfortunately, influential Indian historians and educators continue to resist all revisions and hold on to this racist creation - the Aryan invasion theory. Though there is now a tendency to treat the Aryan-Dravidian division as a linguistic phenomenon, its roots are decidedly racial and political, as we shall soon discover.
Speaking of the Aryan invasion theory, it would probably be an oversimplification to say: "Germans invented it, British used it," but not by much. The concept of the Aryans as a race and the associated idea of the 'Aryan nation' were very much a part of the ideology of German nationalism. For reasons known only to them, Indian educational authorities 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.
Before getting to the role played by German nationalism, it is useful first to take a brief look at what the word Arya does mean. After Hitler and the Nazi atrocities, most people, especially Europeans, are understandably reluctant to be reminded of the word. But that was a European crime; Indians had no part in it. The real Aryans have lived in India for thousands of years without committing anything remotely resembling the Nazi horrors. So there is no need to be diffident in examining the origins of the European misuse of the word. In any event, history demands it.
The first point to note is that the idea of the Aryans as foreigners who invaded India and destroyed the existing Harappan Civilization is a modern European invention; it receives no support whatsoever from Indian records - literary or archaeological. The same is true of the notion of the Aryans as a race; it finds no support in Indian literature or tradition. The word 'Arya' in Sanskrit means noble and never a race. In fact, the authoritative Sanskrit lexicon (c. 450 AD), the famous Amarakosa gives the following definition:
mahakula kulinarya sabhya sajjana sadhavah
An Arya is one who hails from a noble family, of gentle behavior and demeanor, good-natured and of righteous conduct
And the great epic Ramayana has a singularly eloquent expression describing Rama as: arya sarva samascaiva sadaiva priyadarsanah
Arya, who worked for the equality of all and was dear to everyone
The Rigveda also uses the word Arya something like thirty six times, but never to mean a race. The nearest to a definition that one can find in the Rigveda is probably:
praja arya jyotiragrah ... (Children of Arya are led by light)
RV, VII. 33.17
The word 'light' should be taken in the spiritual sense to mean enlightenment. The word Arya, according to those who originated the term, is to be used to describe those people who observed a code of conduct; people were Aryans or non-Aryans depending on whether or not they followed this code. This is made entirely clear in the Manudharma Shastra or the Manusmriti (X.43-45):
But in consequence of the omission of sacred rites, and of their not heeding the sages, the following people of the noble class [Arya Kshatriyas] have gradually sunk to the state of servants - the Paundrakas, Chodas, Dravidas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Shakhas, Paradhas, Pahlavas, Chinas, Kiratas and Daradas.
Two points about this list are worth noting: first, their fall from the Aryan fold had nothing to do with race, birth or nationality; it was due entirely to their failure to follow certain sacred rites. Second, the list includes people from all parts of India as well as a few neighboring countries like China and Persia (Pahlavas). Kambojas are from West Punjab, Yavanas from Afghanistan and beyond (not necessarily the Greeks) while Dravidas refers probably to people from the southwest of India and the South. Thus, the modern notion of an Aryan-Dravidian racial divide is contradicted by ancient records. We have it on the authority of Manu that the Dravidians were also part of the Aryan fold. Interestingly, so were the Chinese. Race never had anything to do with it until the Europeans adopted the ancient word to give expression to their nationalistic and other aspirations.