India quiet about its ancient city


When Michael Wood’s  history of India was first shown on British television I wrote a post about it. Now that its doing the rounds for the second time on America’s PBS the series is again garnering lots of comments.

The big debate, of course, is (and has been for a long time) about the Aryan Migration Theory and whether India’s Vedic culture actually came from outside India. Turkmenistan to be precise. The consequences of that being a fact is that whatever we as Vaishnavas consider to be of unique antiquity is actually an import that was pragmatically embraced by the residents of that land we now know as India.

Of course, neither the historians nor the archaeologists will concede that the reverse might be true: that Vedic culture ebbed and flowed throughout the region, certainly reaching the Russian steppes, but that it originated in India.

Back in January 2002 I got really excited about the discovery of an ancient city in the Bay of Cambay, off Gujarat. 120 feet below the surface, some of the artifacts found here, including human remains, were carbon-dated to around 9,500 years ago. It was the oldest city ever discovered and pre-dated not only the Harappan ruins, but also the Pyramids. “History books will have to be re-written” said one commentator.

That was all of 7 years ago. In January 2009 the history books have not been re-written and, although I’m an innocent and under-informed member of the public – and not very well connected to the world of archaeology – I do have my ears to the ground regarding India. And I’ve not heard anything.

I mean, if someone were to discover in Sweden conclusive proof that it was the Vikings who discovered America first, and not Christopher Columbus, you can bet the Swedes would shout it from the rooftops.

Despite India’s seeming apathy to really take ownership of its historical legacy, preferring instead to send rockets to the moon while its ancient wonders crumble, you’d think that this was at least one story to tell the world.

I will try to find out what happened over the past seven years. Meanwhile you can read something about it on a new page (above)

BBC revealed the news here

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “India quiet about its ancient city

  1. Haribol Kripamoya Prabhu, You will find lot of information that you are looking for on http://www.vedicempire.com The site belongs to a gurukuli Vrindavandas Parker, who also has another site called http://www.vedicfriends.org Good Luck

  2. ccd

    The problem with why obvious archeological discoveries do not get deserved place in the history books (even in India) is connected with the fact that anything to do with a suggestion that Vedic culture pre-dated semitic culture, will meet strong opposition of classical (read British/western trained historians, who wrote the ‘history’ in the first place) and big support of radical Hindu nationalistic circles. It is hard to see what is worse.. we can imagine that discovery of Dvaraka would be as big a discovery as the discovery of Troy (at least), if only it was not a political card played by obviously motivated politicians of Indian right wing nationalism. Some of ISKCON devotees, specifically those who live in India, often suggest an allegiance with BJP likes, but Prabhupada or previous acharyas were almost of the opposite opinion on mixing religion and Indian politics, which is an obvious credit to ISKCON legacy too. In the same way something that is so obvious could become little less so if you put it in the context of radicalism in politics.

  3. Sita

    While what ccd says is abolutely true – [when the previous NDA government supported history textbooks which presented an “Indian Viewpoint”,it was looked upon as though they are giving Indian History a “Saffron” Slant],it is also true that there are sections of historians who present History with a Socialist(“red”) tint or a Dravidian (“black”)tint and decry anything good about the caste system in general or the Vedas and brahmins in particular.We the general public are not able to speak out as we are also looked upon as” Saffron”supporters,even if we aren’t . I would recommend a reading of the book by Michel Danino -“the Invasion that Never Was” And also one by Dr.Feuerstein etal. Not all support for the “Alternative History” is politically motivated

  4. ego

    Swamiji,
    One of the main sources of information for the educated section in urban India happens to be the English media. Unfortunately most media houses have a specific agenda which excludes anything to do with showing the greatness of the Ancient Indian culture.

    This particular news item, I am sorry to say, wasn’t highlighted like any of the other “important” archaeological findings. It’s now, thanks to the internet, that a lot of the urban folks get to read all the news and not just the news that the media houses would like to feed us.

  5. Sita

    Pranams,
    I would not agree to that viewpoint. Much of India’s journalists and historians are left-leaning.So they dismiss as humbug anything related to ancient India because they think that by doing so they would end up supporting the much maligned and misunderstood caste system and brahmins. In fact, at least two or three of India’s major newspapers are owned by Hindus. We do
    see articles on discovery of 2,000 year old paintings or epigraphy in “The Hindu”.But it may be the exception.
    Hari Om

  6. ego

    I agree with what Sita has to say about the left-leaning nature of the mainstream English media.

  7. Juven Bachan

    Sure, I will leave a reply. Vedic culture did proliferate India in conjunction with the influence of the Indus. A brilliant civilization indeed but it was long gone when the Vedic people occupied Northern India. The cities , its society and its culture does not have any evidence of Aryan or IE influence at that time in its history and the archaeological and historical record today projects this aspect of its past nature. Indian historians and archaeologists have certainly been misled by outside influence whose theories and claims states that Vedic life and society is the same as the Indus.
    That is impossible with the archaeological findings of cremation and horse remains in several areas of northern India , which at that corresponding time in its history no such claims have been found in other parts of India. The theories and such claims put forward by Western influences have penetrated the very heart of Indian scholarship and academy with a falsifying fervor which is now being peddled by expatriate Indian sources in the Western media. Whatever is the aim and aspirations of certain Indian historians and archaeologists and their attitudes towards denying Indian ancient history, one thing is certain and that is Vedic or IE occupation of India did takeover and assimilated the defunct Indus civilization. Some don’t want to believe this and still continue to deny the official history of India despite the evidence shown.

  8. Sita

    I was commenting on this very attitude of Indians,in general,that refutes anything good or sensible could have its origin in this land. It is alright if we quote certain foreign -born authors but not others.Similarly,only certain Indian authors are legitimate;others have an axe to grind.This lack of objectivity and intellectual Honesty in integrating the data from different sources and analysing it as a whole,gives a piece-meal picture of India Antiquity.How can a civilisation that has left an immense amount of Oral material,not have tried to put it down in writing;how can a civilisation that has such a well organised civic structure not have anything to say but in the form of yet to be deciphered seals. How can a highly urbanised and structured society degenerate into a pastoral mode of life as painted by the historians who wrote our Textbooks 20 years ago just because the urban people were killed and the newcomers did not have the intelligence to live in cities. How come that people who wrote beautiful descriptions of the concrete and abstract things did not leave any cities behind.How does any one expect any remains of life of that period to be preserved intact to provide archaeological evidence ,in a hot and humid weather of the Indian Peninsula [unless there was a Volcanic erruption like in Pompei]especially one which has been continuosly populated? How can there not be a mention of such a devastation in the ancient Tamil poetry,if it was them who had been chased from their homes.These are questions-valid,I’m sure-that need to be answered.
    Another fact to be considered is we all react to what happens around us only from the basis of our knowledge,beliefs and perspective.A child would look at a pastry in an entirely different way than a diabetic or a morbidly obese person would.
    A historian I met recently said that the evidence so far obtained from the archeological site certainly does not prove an Invasion of Outsiders at that period ie. the Indus-Vedic period.

    • Yes, the educational system in India since many years has been somewhat geared to perpetuating the notion that the Western view of India and its history is correct. My Victorian ancestors certainly did a good job!

      Here in Britain there would be an outcry if India were to develop a different theory about English history. Yet India not only accepts the European version of its own country’s history but perpetuates it be teaching it to its children!

      For this reason the sacred murtis in all the temples of India will continue to be termed ‘idols’ which is a word that indicates the form of God to be a fabrication of the human mind. When Christians taught Hindus how to speak English they included Judaeo-Christian values along with the language.

  9. Juven Bachan

    I’m certainly glad that my article has evoked some very intelligent answers and this is what I wanted. The Aryan question as I understand from the above, is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of Indians and the point made by Sita really does not reflect the evidence in the archaeological record. The rites and customs such as horse sacrifice, sati, and cremation do not have a long antiquity record in the history of India and further I did not advocate an invasion theory but a migratory one. Horse sacrifice, cremation and sati does not have its origins in ancient India. If Sita can show us the evidence before the outsiders as she has labeled them came to India, then I am prepared to accept her story. The above only shows that a new people came to India and settled there. Also, a very important case is the zero. I know the zero came from India from Vedic history. Is it possible that Sita can demonstrate that the existence of the zero in the Indus civilization? The evidence for an Aryan India may not be 100% but then again the Indus civilization left much to be desired in terms of the existence of the horse, chariot, cremation and other Vedic rites. The backward theory of political correctness has replaced the official history of India as is happening in other countries. Frawley, Fuerstein and others have turned Indian history upside down with unproven evidence except with the invasion theory. It seems strange that every tribe, the Greeks, Kushans, Sakas, etc have invaded India except the Aryans. That is strange isn’t Sita? How can the Indus be Aryan? They were not a IE people genetically.

  10. Sita

    Pranams guruji,
    First I must thank you for the oppurtunity for this kind of debate on your blogsite.
    Next ,yes I have been reading Feuerstein,Frawley and also Michel Danino,who seem to be in the bad books of Juven Bachan.So the next question is which historians to believe.
    I believe in what I has been presented to me in a cogent and integrated way,the results of studies done by archaeologists,linguists and historians,and other scientists.
    How does one historian turn theories up-side-down while the other is presenting it straight-side-up.Who determines that?”Arya” means one who is cultured,educated or respected in Sanskrit.When did this word come to mean a Race of people?Why should I ignore what my tradition teaches me and accept what somebody from the outside said as True.(the first historians who raised this question were from outside).Why should my belief in my system be pegged around the presence or absence of horse bones.[According to M.Danino,remains of the true horse were found in Indus-Saraswathy sites of Harappa, Kalibangan, Ropar, Malvan, Kuntasi, Sikharpur, Surkotada and Lothal and also in neolithic sites of Koldihwa,Allahabad andMahagara in the Ganga Valley]. I recently read of discovery of cave drawings depicting the horse of the mesolithic period by a Tamil Archeologist in the Hindu.
    As for Sati, there is a tamil word for it -“udankattai erudal”mentioned in Tamil literature and stories apart from the Mahabharatha.I grew up listening to these stories.So I am not able to recall the exact references.It is unscientific, I know.But they are there ,all the same.
    As far as Migration is concerned ,Humans were supposed to have originated in Africa and migrated to Asia,Europe,Australasia from there.As for the biological anthropology ,according to M. Danino,while there is no genetic proof of an invasion or a massive migration around 1500 B.C.E.,we dont have enough data to base an interpretation of it. Though Greeks Sakhas,Huns and Kushans had invaded India, whose culture is predominant today?certainly not the greeks or Sakhas.
    I had recently an oppurtunity to listen to an Historian talk on the Roman Connection with South India.Apparantly,from 2.B.C.E to about 6.C.E ,there was a strong trade/commerce between South India and the Romans.This developped as an alternate to the Silk Route in the North,it seems.A lot of gold and silver coins were found[hidden in pots] at different sites,but mostly around the Kongu region.They also found Amphorae.So why could not the people of the Indus also indulge in such trade with the people of the west of their region, especially when they have well built dockyards?.Weights and measures[marked on the walls of the docks of Lothal indicate they knew how to measure so wouldn’t they also have a system for computing numbers?If we must have evidence for each and every thing that they did in ancient times,then should we assume they did not eat because plates as you and I know them were not found?
    We can be arguing for eternity that “my-historian-knows- best”, but that does not in any way reduce the antiquity or the Truth of the system i believe in.I have found this argument ” Aryans-came- from-abroad” used only for Hindu and Brahmin bashing.
    I am sorry Guruji,for making your site become a boxing ring.It is a lot more easier and pleasurable to just have faith,but He[The Lord,that is] must have some reason for putting all those historical facts before me and also see Juvan Bachan’s replies.So i spoke .I hope it makes sense .
    Hari Om.

  11. Varshana

    Juvan asked Sita to show by some evidence that India was not invaded, without seeing the need to show a substantial amount of evidence for his own position. Migration or invasion theory (aka The Aryan Invasion Theory) is just theory as much as the Theory of Evolution is also just a another theory, which is unfortunately accepted as a fact by unscientific “thinkers”. The migration theory was written by Christian “academics” who thought the world was only 5000 years old and so they needed to make the Vedas more recent (younger in age) than the Bible just to preserve the Bible’s “status” against other religions. So, this is politics, not academic scholarship and there is a lot of this kind of “history”. Besides this, the British Empire’s motive was to grease the political wheels in Europe for their colonization of India and by this theory they meant to portray Hindus as backwards and feeble-minded and in dire need of being converted to Christianity. That plan didn’t work out very well for the British Empire (but they were able to profit by colonizing, at least for a while) but for the rest of Europe, especially Germany, the stakes were high–to also profit at the expense of India by claiming the “Aryan” culture as their own, for their own political aggrandizement. This is no secret.

    Therefore, there is some good reason to analyze all opposing evidence, since we might suspect in this age of crooked politicians, that the western version of India’s history may assure that the world never hears of about India’s illustrious culture-a political goal in and of itself. Interestingly, (to offer some concrete argument against the Invasion Theory), there is no oral or written record of invasion (not on the side of the invaders, nor on the side of the invaded). So before we accept Juvan’s Theory, we might ask him to explain this gaping hole in the Aryan Invasion Theory and why he seems to accept it so unquestioningly. Before we proceed further, we may need to establish that we are aware of, and understand why political actors have been known to vigorously suppress one history in favor of another. Those who dominate are generally in the position to write “history” but what truth is there to that so-called history? What will politicians not do for their own selfish political purposes?

  12. Juven Bachan

    I WOULD BE GRATEFUL TO REPLY TO THE ABOVE PARTIES ON THIS QUESTION OF THE ARYAN OCCUPATION OF INDIA. I DON’T THINK FOR ONE MOMENT , I HAD EVER SAID THAT THERE WAS AN INVASION OF INDIA. VARSHANA HAS IT WRONG. I BELIEVE THERE WAS MIGRATION OF A NEW PEOPLE FROM THE STEPPES OF RUSSIA. I KNOW THAT INDIANS DON’T LIKE TO HEAR THAT THEIR COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON OUTSIDERS OR HAS IT FOUNDATION ON FOREIGNERS. BUT THAT IS A SOBER FACT AND ALL COUNTRIES ARE BUILT MORE OR LESS ON THE INTRUSION OF OUTSIDERS. THE STEPPE EVIDENCE IS OVERWHELMING AND I WOULD STIPULATE THE FOLLOWING AS ARTIFACTS FROM THE STEPPES. INDIA HAS FOR THE FIRST TIME EXPERIENCED THE HORSE, THE CHARIOT, THE WHEEL, CREMATION, HORSE SACRIFICE, A NEW LANGUAGE, A NEW PEOPLE, CUSTOMS AND RITES, SKY GODS, SHAFT HOLE AXES AND SWORDS AND CLANNISH WARFARE. BUT THE HORSE IS OF VITAL IMPORTANCE SINCE IT WAS AN ANIMAL THAT WAS BROUGHT FROM THE STEPPES ALONGWITH CHEEKPIECES, BITS, SADDLES AND BRIDLES. THESE ALONG WITH CHARIOT EQUIPMENT AS FELLIES, AXLES, YOKES, TIRE, ETC ARE NEW INNOVATIONS THAT CAME INTO INDIA. AND OF COURSE , THERE ARE HORSE BONES ALL OVER THE INDUS AND ITS SURROUNDINGS AS SITA INFERRED. BUT THEY WERE NOT FROM THE INDUS CIVILIZATION BUT FROM THE NEWCOMERS. IT IS REASONABLE TO SUGGEST IF THE INDUS CIVILIZATION DID POSSESS HORSES AND CHARIOTS, THERE HAD TO BE SOME ETCHINGS OR DRAWINGS OR SCRIPTED ILLUSTRATIONS IN ITS CITIES AND WALLS. REMEMBER THE HORSE WAS AND STILL IS A MAGNIFICENT ANIMAL REVERED BY THE NEWCOMERS AND ALL THOSE WHO POSSESSED THEM. FOR THE LIFE OF ME, I STILL CAN’T SEE HOW THE INDUS FOR ALL ITS BRILLIANCE AND CULTURE,NOT LEAVING AN ILLUSTRATION OR EVEN A MENTION OF IT IN THEIR RECORDS. THEY LEFT RECORDS OF EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE HORSE AND CHARIOT , A VEHICLE WHICH WAS IMPORTANT IN SUCH AN AGE OF PRIMITIVE WARFARE AND TURBULENCE. EVEN THE MESOPOTAMIAN SOCIETIES LEFT EVIDENCE OF THE HORSE AND CHARIOT WHEN IT BECAME KNOWN TO THEM AS WELL AS OTHER SOCIETIES AS EGYPT AND GREECE. WHAT I’M SAYING IN THIS ARGUMENT IS THAT DANINO AND OTHERS ARE SAYING THAT THE INDUS IS ARYAN. THEN, IF IT IS ARYAN , WHERE ARE THE CUSTOMS , RITES AND INNOVATIONS THAT MAKE UP ARYAN SOCIETY, PRESENT IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA? HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE INDUS SCRIPT IS A PART OF SANSKRIT WHEN ITS VERY WRITING IS QUITE DIFFERENT. THERE ARE NO COHERENT SENTENCES ETC. THEN, THERE IS THE WEAPONS FOUND IN THE INDUS RUINS. NONE OF IT IS HAFTED OR SHAFTED HOLED. ALL OF IT WAS STRAPPED FOR USE. THE WEAPONS CARRIED BY THE ARYANS WERE NEW INNOVATIONS WITH THIS CRITERIA. THIS IS EVIDENCE ALONE TO SHOW AN OVERLAY OF A NEW SOCIETY TAKING HOLD OF , AS THEY SEE IT A NEW COUNTRY. SITA IS REASONABLE CORRECT IN HER ARGUMENT OF TRADE. I LAUGHED WHEN SHE SAID THAT NOT BECAUSE THERE IS NO PLATES IN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD DOES NOT MEAN THAT THEY DID NOT EAT. SITA IS AMUSING. THAT IS A FAIR AND LOGICAL STATEMENT. BUT THIS IS WHERE THE INDUS/ARYAN QUESTION IS AT ITS WEAKNESS. IT CANNOT BE DENIED THAT THE INDUS CIVILIZATION WAS ONE OF TRADE. BUT THERE IS NOT ONE PAGE OF EVIDENCE ON THE SCRIPTS OR SEALS POINTING TO THE TRADE OF HORSES. IF , AS I WOULD PRESUME, THAT THEY KNEW HORSES, THEN WHY ARE THERE NO SUCH RECORD IN THE RUINS? THEY TRADED WITH MESOPOTAMIA, BABYLON AND FARAWAY PLACES BUT I CAN’T SEE ANY SUCH EVIDENCE OF HORSE TRADE. THE ARYANS , THE GREEKS AND ESPECIALLY THE TROJANS WERE FAMOUS FOR THAT. VARSHANA, I AM NOT ASKING YOU OR ANYONE TO ACCEPT MY THEORY, BECAUSE I AM ONLY WRITING FROM WHAT IS PRESENTED, FROM THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE NOT FROM EDUCATED GUESSES. OTHER WRITERS HAVE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT THE INDUS IS ARYAN, BUT THE STORY SAYS DIFFERENTLY. THE VEDAS IS THE ONLY WRITNG THAT LAID THE FOUNDATION OF INDIA, OTHER GROUPS HAVE COME AND GONE BUT THE VEDAS STILL LIVES ON. IT IS THE FIRST AND FOREMOST LITERATURE IN OUR MINDS AND IN OUR CULTURE. THE OTHERS CAME TO INDIA, BUT DID NOT LEAVE A GIGANTIC BEDROCK AS THE VEDAS. IT IS FROM THIS HINDUISM HAS FLOWED. EVEN THE INDUS IN ITS HEYDAY HAS NOT LEFT SOMETHING SUCH AS THIS. NEITHER DID THE OTHERS.

    THANKS FOR READING MY EPISTLE AND FOR CHALLENGING ME.

  13. Juven Bachan

    Varshana said ,” Juven asked Sita to show by some evidence that India was not invaded, without seeing the need to show a substantial amount of evidence for his own position” regarding the invasion or migration as he put it. Nice of you to question me Varshana and I welcome it. Whether India was invaded Aryan nomads or by migratory means, the evidence is there to show it. In either case , I wish if you could answer this question.

    How then did India have in its history all the steppe evidence and artifacts, the horse,the rites and rituals and customs? Where did these come from if not from the steppes of Russia? There is nowhere else south of India could this be. Okay, I agree that probably there was not a violent invasion at that time, but even the migratory one is questioned. Since most Indian academics believe in an Aryan Indus, then they have to prove that the Indus was Aryan in nature, physical and spiritual. If you can prove this , I would welcome your ideas or facts. From, Sita’s view, I think she is a bit confused about the different theories concerning this problem. Perhaps, you can reply if you want. Thanks again

  14. Win

    If there were evidences of Invasion , then why are western indologists are talking about Migration. Remember , Invasion was fabricated totally based on wrong iterpretation / traslations of RigVeda when Indus Civilization was not discovered. That time it was taught that cultered Aryans invaded savage like dravidian indians and civilized them. This was because word Arya means civilized in Sanskrit. And, do you know that English Kings were eating human flesh before 1000 years. So, how civilized & savage like were those people ! This is being told by Prince Charles himself. So, how knowledgeable & accurate were historians of 19th century that they told that white civilized aryans from Europe invaded India to civilize `savage’ like indians !!!

    After discovery of planned Indus towns, this theory turned up side down with Savage like Aryans ( i.e. Europeans ) invading IVC towns and original occupents of those cities ( aka dravidians ) fled to South India !!!

    Even though there were not a single evidence of invasion of IVC, this was propogated like some facts.

    Afterwards, when more towns discovered and this knowledge became easily accessible to the world , the whole Invasion became peaceful Migration !!!

    Again, no western indologists questioned the whole theory which was built on total fabrication by false interpretation of RigVeda. And, now those same Indologists are asking for `satisfactory’ evidences as proof !!! Infact , propogating false / wrong interpretations whether it’s RigVeda or finding some human bones in Mohenjodaro or Harappa and calling it invasion, is a norm of so called western indologists. Max Muller was paid heftily by British rulers and same way western indologists are not accepting the truth so as to assure salary and position.

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