Showing posts with label aryan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label aryan. Show all posts

Black Athena Debate

Martin Bernal said that the Greek culture has been misrepresented as Indo-European in origin when in fact it is largely African or Semitic. His explanation for this which has been discussed is that history was revised in order to flush out the African contribution to Greek Culture. Bernal contends in the late 1700's the anti-Semitic and anti-African sentiments of the time, resulted in those cultures being eliminated from establishment history. To prove his thesis Bernal defined three models of accepted history. Furthermore Bernal also legitimated his thesis by showing distinct links or borrowings of religion from the Egyptian civilization. Specifically he connected the Cretan Bull Cult of Minos and the Minotaur to origins in the Egyptian god Min who frequently required bovine sacrifices.

The Three Models of History Referred to By Martin Bernal

1. Ancient Model
The Ancient model was the one that was held by the Greeks, citizens of the Mediterranean and Egyptians in ancient times up until about 1790. Essentially he contends that previous to the restructuring of history by German scholars in the late 18th century Greeks recognized their roots in Egypt. The Ancient Model is that previous to the Institution of The Aryan Model Greeks felt that their culture had its roots in Africa. Essentially this model holds that Greece was settled about 1500 B.C.E. by Egyptians and Phoenicians. The supposition is that Greeks directly borrowed their mathematics, governmental system, language, writing, philosophy, and religion directly from African and Semitic sources.

2. Aryan Model
The Aryan Model had its genesis in Protestant North Germany between 1790 and 1830. At this time the new discipline of "Altertumswissenshaft" (Science of Antiquity) was born. The model is rooted in German nationalism and feelings of repugnance concerning the French Revolution. This model holds that Greece was settled by Indo-European stock. The focus of the new model was on the Greek ideal. The Greek ideal was reflective of German nationalism. The constant cultural borrowing and at times thievery of culture inherent to the Ancient Model were inconsistent with the assertions of the German intellectuals. In order to justify a German purity the Greek ideal was modified to show it an exemplar of sorts. By limiting the apparent influence of outside cultures and races in the Aryan Model neatly accomplished its goal. This model also gives faulty Aryan Invasion theory.

3. New Ancient Model
Bernal says that the racism and Anti-Semitism that characterized The Aryan Model are increasingly unacceptable. He proposes that Greek culture in general was heavily influenced by Northern African (specifically Egypt) and Phoenician culture. He also allows for the Indo-european element in the form of periodic invasions. In essence he restores the image of ancient Greece as a culture that has its roots in Egypt but also shaped many of those cultural icons in a fashion that is distinctly Greek. He sees it as a midpoint between the Greek idea of interaction but not origin in Africa, and the racial purity and anti-African tendencies of the Aryan Model.

Not out of Africa Model
Martin Bernal’s book, Black Athena, provoked much discussion ranging from simple academic debates to heated disputes on Afrocentrism, racism and Euro-centrism in classical scholarship. The principal figures in this debate are Bernal himself and Mary Lefkowitz. Lefkowitz published a response to Bernal’s book entitled Not Out of Africa, which was nearly as controversial as the original. Later on, Lefkowitz also published Black Athena Revisited, a collection of responses to Black Athena. The scholarly world was fairly evenly split, in terms of being for or against the argument proposed in Bernal’s book and by many Afro centrists. However, they often disagreed about exactly how one side or the other was wrong. These are a few of the issues raised in the reactions to Black Athena and how scholars responded to them.
Essentially, the argument is that both advocates and opponents of Afrocentrism have used faulty techniques to prove their points. Bernal clearly accuses Lefkowitz of errors , and at the same time acknowledges that the Afro-centrists have made similar errors.

Origins of Ideas
Another interesting idea raised in the aftermath of Black Athena is that of the origins of ideas. This idea was first presented in G. James’ Stolen Legacy in which James proposes that Plato, Aristotle and other major Greek philosophers "stole" their ideas from Egypt. Lawrence Tritle mentions the Afro-centrists’ take on this concept in his review of Not Out of Africa: "[Afro-centrists] adhere to a diffusionist understanding of culture, that ideas are created or born in one place and radiate outward. The idea that cultures in different parts of the world could develop similar ideas independently and contemporaneously seems regarded as an unlikely occurrence: someone must have first ‘created’ the idea which was then ‘given’ to someone else". Tritle says Lefkowitz asserts that ideas cannot actually be "stolen."

The most important reaction to Black Athena is the political opinions generated by its publication. Afrocentrism was a little more political correct than Euro-centrism, and criticizing the Afrocentric point of view was to put oneself at risk of being labeled a racist, as Bernal points out: "Mary Lefkowitz believes that another and more significant reason why her colleagues let her down, was the fear of being labeled as racist." Perhaps in an effort to assure readers of her book’s unbiased nature, Lefkowitz says in her preface to Black Athena Revisited, "the authors of the essays in this book are young and old, black and white, male and female, European and American, and within the United States, from all parts of the country."

In Black Athena Revisited, Kathryn A. Bard gives reason as to why the subject of race might be irrelevant after all: "Ancient Egyptians were Mediterranean peoples, neither Sub-Saharan blacks nor Caucasian whites but peoples whose skin was adapted for life in a tropical desert environment.... Egyptians were the indigenous farmers of the Lower Nile Valley, neither black nor white as races are conceived of today." The modern ideas about race and the stigma often attached to one race or another simply did not exist in ancient times. The Egyptians may not have even been what we consider today to be "black people." Furthermore, as Lawrence A. Tritle notes, why should Egypt "stand for the rest of Africa?" He says, "Just because people lived on the same continent as the Greeks and Romans does not mean that they shared in the cultural achievements of either antecedent."
Martin Bernal argues that Euro-centric archeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries failed to give credit to what he believes was the extensive influence that Egyptian and Near Eastern cultures had on classical Greek culture, specifically in the context of mythology.
Before we can examine he origins of the Cretan Bull cult, we must first go over the evidence which proves it existed in the first place. It is commonly accepted among archaeologists that a bull cult did exist in Crete and had rituals concerning fertility; a ritualistic practice consisted of young women "proving" their fertility by jumping over the horns of a charging bull. In addition, according to Bernal, "the use of explicitly bovine Egyptian religious symbols in Crete in the early 2nd millennium can be seen in the 'horns of consecration', a sacred motif used so frequently that its function sometimes seems merely decorative in Cretan palatial culture".

Bernal hypothesizes that the Greek god Pan is the counterpart of the Egyptian God Min.
"The great god of flocks and shepherds among the Greeks, usually called a son of Hermes, was originally an Arcadian God; and Arcadia was always the principal seat of his worship. From the country his name and worship after wards spread over other parts of Greece; but at Athens his worship was not introduced till the time of the battle of Marathon. He is described as wandering among the mountains and valleys of Arcadia…Pan…was dreaded by travelers, to whom he sometimes appeared, and whom he startled with sudden awe or terror. Hence sudden fright, without any visible cause, was ascribed to Pan, and was called a Panic fear. In works of art Pan is represented as a sensual being, with horns, puck-nose, and goat’s feet, sometimes in the act of dancing, and sometimes playing on the syrinx."
Bernal establishes early associations between Egypt and Crete, before the existence of the bull cult, by examining the ways in which Min and Pan could be connected.

Evidence that Bernal presents for this connection is as follows:

  1. "Diodoros Sikeliotes, an ancient historian, named the gods of the Ethiopians of Meroe…as Isis, Pan, Heracles, and Zeus" . He says that the ancient geographer Strabo also confirmed that they worshiped Pan.

  2. Min was associated with fertility and growth in Egypt, unlike his cult as a divinity of the desert. His dual aspects of a desert deity and fertility are a result of his worship having traveled from Punt to the Eastern Desert to Upper Egypt, and in Upper Egypt he became assimilated to the ancient fertility god of Koptos ( which means Bull of his Mother). Thus, Min became associated with the bull through his assimilation with Koptos.

  3. He explains that the god Min, whose token animal is the bull, became associated with the god Amon, whose token animal is the ram/goat, who then became associated with the god Pan, whose token animal is also the ram/goat. Bernal says that "Pan's derivation from Min would seem to be confirmed, not only by his great phallus, his association with the fertility of stock and his living in the wilderness and the negroid blackness with which he, like his attendant satyrs, was often portrayed". Thus, Min--Amon--Pan.

"[King Minos was]….king and legislator of Crete, and after death one of the judges of shades in Hades…He was the husband of Pasiphae. In order to avenge the wrong done to his son Androgeos at Athens, he made war against the Athenians, and compelled them to send to Crete every year, as a tribute, 7 youths and 7 maidens, to be devoured in the labyrinth by the Minotauros. The Minotaur was a monster, half man and half bull, and the offspring of the intercourse of Pasiphae with a bull."
Furthermore, King Minos was the son of Europa and Zeus, a maiden who was kidnapped and seduced by Zeus when he assumed the form of a white bull.
Bernal's evidence for Minos' origin in Min is as follows:

  1. Minos' role as the judge of shades in the afterlife is consistent with the role of the Egyptian god Osiris, also the "judge of the dead man" (Bernal 170). Minos can be connected to Min through Osiris because of Osiris' connection with Amon, who, by the 7th century B.C. , was "assimilated with Osiris", and then, through Amon's 'fundamental affinity' with Min, can be connected further to Min. Min and Amon "were associated at Thebes since the 11th Dynasty and by the New Kingdom. Amon and Re seem in many cults to have been fused with Min as a single massively endowed ithyphallic figure" . Thus, Minos--Osiris--Amon--Min.

  2. The name "Mn" was used by "an important pharoah early in the 1st dynasty and in later times Mn was universally considered to be the founder of dynastic rule" . Diodoros, an ancient historian that Bernal cites elsewhere, connected the pharoah called Mn with King Minos by saying that "'according to the tradition he claimed that Hermes had given the laws to him…just as the Greeks they say that Minos did in Crete…[Minos] saying that he had received his laws from Zeus…'" . Bernal states that the connection between King Minos and the Pharoah Mn can be taken further to associate, again, King Minos with the god Min by establishing a connection between the pharoah and the Egyptian god, stating that "there were occasions in Egypt when [Mn] and [Min] were worshipped together" . Thus, Minos--pharoah Mn--god Min.

  3. As for the labyrinth of King Minos, Bernal makes a linguistic argument: he states that "from the earliest times, there has ben considerable confusion in Egyptian among the three biconsonantals mr, mn, and nm" All three sounds are associated with cattle, which is an obvious potential connection with the bull cult; in addition, the phonetic nm is also connected with the meaning of "winding wall" in Late Egyptian. Therefore, the biconsonantal nm is associated both with cattle and a "winding wall". Here, then, is linguistic evidence that indicates Egypt as being the origin of King Minos' labyrinth. Thus, mn--nm--labyrinth.

  4. Other similarities between Minos and Min: Minos was renowned for his lechery, which is a trait of the god Min; Min had a white bull consecrated to him, and Minos' wife Pasiphae was impregnated by a white bull; and finally, the depiction of the Minotaur as a man with a bull's head can be compared to the manner in which the Egyptians portrayed their gods as having men's bodies and the heads of animals.

We have seen the arguments, as we can see neither side will agree to the other. No place is an Island in the world as far as movement of people or movement of influences or movement of legends. More Independent view is required to ascertain the facts. But that is impossible now as both sides are not willing to give in on any neutral authority and cling on to their beliefs. Today the issue is more political one than Academic one.


Myth of Independent Tamil Culture

We have theory of North-South contrast and an unknown Dravidian substratum over which the layer of Aryan culture was deposited. This view is only milder than that of the proponents of a separate and secular Tamil Culture, who insist on a physical and cultural Aryan-Dravidian clash as a result of which the pure Dravidian culture got swamped.Let us analyze the History,

Politics of language translation and Identity
Rajagopalachari, a political activist and Tamil scholar coins a word ‘Yakkai Rasayanam’ to denote ‘organicchemistry’. The ‘Yakkai’ has ‘pure’ Tamil root while Rasayanam is culled from Sanskrit but of common use among Tamil people.Yakkai connotes ‘organized’ and alludes to ‘vitalism’ and ‘chief organiser’, that is God. So people find this not secular.
The current technical term in usage ‘Karima Vediyal’(Carbon Chemistry) was suggested by Chennai Magahana Tamil Sangam in 1938 is exorcised of any reference to ‘tradition’ and as matter of fact is very secular. The term Karima means ‘Carbon’ and Vediyal means ‘Chemistry’. However, the term Vediyal is a modern word coined from a root word ‘Vedi’ meaning ‘transmute’. The verb ‘Vethithal’ implies transmutation of baser elements in Siddha tradition of ‘alchemy’. The word Vedi also came to denote drug used by Siddha school of medicine, derived not from plant sources but from chemical source’. How did this secularization of coining of terms
come about? Let us see

Social historians posit that during 1930s there were One group represented the traditional elite - largely dominated by Brahmins and consisting of elite from upper caste Hindu section were characterized by their sympathy towards ‘tradition’- meaning Sanskrit traditions, and in politics advocating ‘Pan Indian Nationalism’. Another group was the Tamil Vellala and non-Brahmin upper caste elite, who articulated ‘Tamil identity politics’ drawing inspiration from the Tamil past. Thirdly, there were the Left/self-respect movements, which not only questioned the ‘past’ but also ‘invalidated’ it.

As the balance of power of the third group swelled in the public sphere during the 1940s; in the ensuing social upheaval, impact of the self-respect movement’s rationalism and the left ideology geared the ‘rediscovery programme’ in a direction of taking it to secular plane away from the‘past tradition’ or ‘indigenous religion’. Rationalism was privileged in the rediscovery programme. E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker (Periyar) have very rigid ideas about the ancient history of Tamil Nadu. First, despite all evidence to the contrary,they still insist on the Aryan invasion theory in its most violent version, turning most North Indians and upper-caste Indians into descendants of the invading Aryans who overran the indigenous Dravidian s, and Sanskrit into a deadly rival of Tamil. Consequently, they assert that Tamil is more ancient than Sanskrit, and civilization in the South older than in the North. Once Tamil Nadu's Education minister said The Dravidian civilization is older than the Aryan. It is not uncommon to hear even good Tamil scholars utter such claims. Let us Analyse the evidences

Culturally, the megalithic people of the South shared many beliefs and practices with megalithic builders elsewhere in the subcontinent and beyond.

The earlier Tamil inscriptions were written in Kadamba script, Pallava grantha and Vetteluthu Inscriptions after the eighth century A.D. Contain characteristrics similar to the one now in vogue The Tamil script(see also Tamil Brahmi) infact flipflopped between Pallava Granta and Vetteluthu.

Vedic Gods and Vedic culture in Tamil Literature
Tolkappiyam (date) is modelled on the Sanskrit grammar of the Aindra school. Tolkappiyam adopts the entire Rasa theory as worked out in the Natya Sastra of Bharata. It also refers to rituals and customs coming from the Aryans,a word which in Sangam literature simply means North Indians of Vedic culture. Tolkappiyam states that marriage as a sacrament attended with ritual was established in the Tamil country by the Aryas and it uses the same eight forms of marriage found in the Dharmashastras. It mentions the caste system or fourfold jathis in the form of Brahmins, Kings, Vaishyas and Vellalas, and calls Vedic mantras the exalted expression of great sages. Tolkappiyam formulates division of the Tamil land into five regions (tinai), each associated with one particular aspect of love, one poetical expression, and also one deity: thus the hills (kurinji) with union and with Cheyon (Karthikeya); the desert (palai) with separation and Korravai (Durga); the forests (mullai) with awaiting and Mayon (Vishnu-Krishna); the seashore (neytal) with wailing and Varuna; and the cultivated lands (marutam) with quarrel and Ventan (Indra). Vedic gods are considered one with the tamil land. The emperor of Tamil poetry, Kambar, describes Sanskrit as the "devabhasa"

Ettuttokai abound in references to many gods Shiva, Uma, Murugan, Vishnu, Lakshmi and several other Saktis. The Paripadal consists almost entirely of devotional poetry to Vishnu. One poem begins with a homage to him and Lakshmi, and goes on to praise Garuda, Shiva on his majestic bull, the four-faced Brahma, the twelve Adityas, the Ashwins, the Rudras, the Saptarishis, Indra with his dreaded thunderbolt,the devas and asuras, etc., and makes glowing references to the Vedasand Vedic scholars. The Purananuru in addition sees Lord Shiva as the source of the four Vedas and describes Lord Vishnu as blue-hued and Garuda-bannered. A poem in Akananuru, declares that Shiva and Vishnu are the greatest of gods. Not only deities or scriptures, landmarks sacred in the North, such as the Himalayas or Ganga, also become objects of great veneration in Tamil poetry. North Indian cities are referred to such as Ujjain or Mathura after which Madurai was named. Court poets proudly claim that the Chera kings conquered North Indian kingdoms and carved their emblem onto the Himalayas. They clearly saw thesubcontinent as one entity.

Kural is often described as an Atheistic text a misconception. Valluvar's 1,330 mostly deal with ethics (aram), polity (porul) and love (inbam), following the traditional Sanskritic pattern of the four objects of human life: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha, the last implied rather than explicit. Still, the very first decade is an invocation to Bhagavan. The ocean of births can be crossed by those who clasp God's feet, and none else. The same idea recurs later, for instance in this profound thought, Cling to the One who clings to nothing and so clinging, cease to cling. The Kural also refers to Indra, to Vishnu's avatar of Vamana , and to Lakshmi, asserting that she will shower her grace only on those who follow the path of dharma. There is nothing very atheistic in all this, and in reality the values of the Kural are perfectly in tune with those found in several shastras or in the Gita

Shilappadikaram(Date) which relates story of Kannagi and Kovalan, it opens with invocations to Chandra, Surya, and Indra, all of them Vedic Gods, and frequently praises Agni, Varuna, Shiva, Subrahmanya, Vishnu-Krishna, Uma, Kali, Yama and so forth. There are mentions of the four Vedas and of Vedic sacrifices being faultlessly performed.In more than one place, writes V. Ramachandra Dikshitar, the first translator of the epic into English, there are references to Vedic Brahmans, their fire rites, and their chanting of the Vedic hymns. The Brahman received much respect from the king and was often given gifts of wealth and cattle. When Kovalan and Kannagi are married, they walk around the holy fire, a typically Vedic rite still at the centre of the Hindu wedding. Welcomed by a tribe of fierce hunters on their way to Madurai, they witness a striking apparition of Durga, who is addressed equally as Lakshmi and Sarasvati, the three Shaktis of the Hindu trinity. There are numerous references to legends from the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, and the Puranas.

After worshipping at two temples, one of Vishnu and the other of Shiva, the Chera king Shenguttuvan goes to the Himalayas in search of a stone for Kannagi's idol, and bathes it in the Ganges. Manimekhalai even though is a Buddhist work, it also mentions many Vedic and Puranic gods, and attributes the submergence of Puhar tothe neglect of a festival to Indra. Silapathikaram and Manimekhalai, which amply testify that what we call today Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism coexistedharmoniously. (See Also Divine Tamil)
As the archaeologist and epigraphist R. Nagaswamy remarks, The fact that the literature of the Sangam age refers more to Vedic sacrifices than to temples is a pointer to the popularity of the Vedic cults among the Sangam Tamils.

Agastya, the great Vedic Rishi, as the originator of the Tamil language. He is saidto have written a Tamil grammar, Agattiyam, to have presided over the first two Tamil Sangams, and is even now honoured in many temples of Tamil Nadu and worshipped inmany homes. One of his traditional names is Tamil muni. The Shilappadikaram refers to him asthe great sage of the Podiyil hill,and a hill is today named after him at the southernmost tip of the Western Ghats.

P. S. Subrahmanya Sastri says a knowledge of Sanskrit literature from the Vedic period to the Classical period is essential to understand and appreciate a large number of passages scattered among the poems of Tamil literature.In other words, Vedic and Puranic themes are inextricably woven into Sangam literature.
Ramachandra Dikshitar writes Either the people did not look upon religious distinctions seriously, or there were no fundamental differences between one sect and another

Historical Period
But here let us just take a look at the rulers. An inscription records that a Pandya king led the elephant force in the Mahabharata War on behalf of the Pandavas, and that early Pandyas translated the epic into Tamil. The first named Chera king, Udiyanjeral, is said to have sumptuously fed the armies on both sides during the War at Kurukshetra Chola and Pandya kings also voiced such claims of course they may be devoid of historical basis, but they show how those kings sought to enhance their glory by connecting their lineage to heroes of the Mahabharata. So too, Chola and Chera kings proudly claimed descent from Lord Rama or from kings of the Lunar dynasty, in other words vedic roots. Karikala, was a patron Vedic religion and while the Pandya king Nedunjelyan performed many Vedic sacrifices, and the dynasty of the Pallavas made their capital Kanchi into a great centre of Sanskrit learning and culture.

K.V. Raman summarizes says
The Pandyan kings were great champions of the Vedic religion from very early times According to the Sinnamanur plates, one of the early Pandyan kings performed a thousand velvi or yagas Vedic sacrifices. Though the majority of the Pandyan kings were Saivites, they extended equal patronage to the other faiths, and included invocatory verses to the Hindu Trinity uniformly in all their copper-plate grants. The Pandyas patronised all the six systems or schools of Hinduism. Their religion was not one of narrow sectarian nature but broad-based with Vedic roots. They were free from linguistic or regional bias and took pride in saying that they considered Tamil and Sanskritic studies as complementary and equally valuable.
Nilakanta Sastri goes a step further and opines, There does not exist a single line of Tamil literature written before the Tamils came into contact with, and let us add accepted with genuine appreciation, the culture of North Indian origin.

The Myth of Dravidian Culture
And yet, such statements do not go deep enough, as they still imply a North-South contrast and an unknown Dravidian substratum over which the layer of Aryan culture was deposited. This view is only milder than that of the proponents of a separate and secular Tamil Culture, who insist on a physical and cultural Aryan-Dravidian clash as a result of which the pure Dravidian culture got swamped. As we have seen, archaeology, literature and Tamil tradition all fail to come up with the slightest hint of such a conflict. Rather, as far as the eye can see into the past there is every sign of a deep cultural interaction between North and South, which blossomed not through any imposition but in a natural and peaceful manner, as everywhere else in the subcontinent and beyond.
M.G.S. Narayanan says
The Aryan-Dravidian or Aryan-Tamil dichotomy envisaged by some scholars may have to be given up since we are unable to come across anything which could be designated as purely Aryan or purely Dravidian in the character of South India of the Sangam Age. In view of this, the Sangam culture has to be looked upon as expressing in a local idiom all the essential features of classical Hindu culture. Swami Vivekananda says, The South had been the repository of Vedic learning.

It should now be crystal clear that anyone claiming a separate,pre-Aryan or secular Dravidian or Tamil culture has no evidence to show for it, except his own ignorance of archaeology, numismatics and ancient Tamil literature. There is no meaning in the word Dravidian except either in the old geographical sense or in the modern linguistic sense, racial and cultural meanings are as unscientific as they are irrational, although some scholars in India remain obstinately rooted in a colonial mindset.

The simple reality is that every region of India has developed according to its own genius, creating in its own bent, but while remaining faithful to the central Indian spirit,So is Tamil culture.

Myth of Invasion Rig veda Aryans

The geography of the Rigveda has been the most misrepresented aspect of the text in the hands of the scholars: the geographical information in the Rigveda, to put it in a nutshell, more or less pertains to the area from Uttar Pradesh in the east to Afghanistan in the west, the easternmost river mentioned in the text being the GaNgA, and the westernmost being the western tributaries of the Indus.

However many western scholars have maintained that Rig veda people moved from west to India, Let us see the common most evidence rivers

Let us see the counter arguements.

There are three rivers named in the Rigveda to which this applies: the SarasvatI, GomatI and Sarayu. The SarasvatI in the Rigveda is the river to the east of the Punjab (flowing through Haryana) and the GomatI and Sarayu in the Rigveda are rivers to the west of the Punjab (western tributaries of the Indus). This is the general consensus, and it is confirmed by an examination of the references in the Rigveda.

But a SarasvatI (HaraxvaitI) and a Sarayu (Haroiiu) are also found in Afghanistan; and a GomatI and a Sarayu are found in northeastern Uttar Pradesh.

Some say GaNgA and YamunA of the Rigveda are rivers in Afghanistan. A political “scholar”, Rajesh Kochhar, say the events in the RAmAyaNa took place in Afghanistan, transfers the entire locale of the epic to Afghanistan: “Ravana’s Lanka can be a small island in the midst of river Indus… by Vindhyas is meant Baluch hills, and by sea the Lower Indus. SarasvatI is identified with Helmand and GaNgA and YamunA as its tributaries in the hilly areas of Afghanistan. He makes this revolutionary discovery on the basis of a verse in the VAlmIki RAmAyaNa where “YamunA is described as surrounded by mountains”

Rhipaean mountains
An extreme attempt is to suggest that a root word rip- in the Rigveda indicates a subdued memory of the Rhipaean mountains: the Urals.

Central Asia
Saptasindhu, it is suggested by some, refers to seven rivers in Central Asia, and the SarasvatI in the Rigveda is not the river of Haryana, but the river of Afghanistan

Let us see the rig veda terms and Meanings

1. The Northwestern Rivers (western tributaries of the Indus, flowing through Afghanistan and the north): TRSTAmA (Gilgit) , Susartu, AnitabhA, RasA, SvetI, KubhA (Kabul), Krumu (Kurrum) GomatI (Gomal), Sarayu (Siritoi), Mehatnu, SvetyAvarI, Prayiyu (Bara), Vayiyu, SuvAstu(Swat), GaurI (Panjkora), KuSavA (Kunar).

2. The Indus and eastern tributaries: Sindhu (Indus), SuSomA (Sohan), ArjIkIyA (Haro)

3. The Central Rivers( rivers of the Punjab): VitastA (Jhelum), AsiknI (Chenab), ParuSNI (Ravi), VipAS (Beas), SuturI (Satlaj), MarudvRdhA (Maruvardhvan).

4. The East-central Rivers ( rivers of Haryana):SarasvatI, DRSadvatI/HariyUpIyA/YavyAvatI ApayA

5. The Eastern Rivers: ASmanvatI (Assan, a tributary of the YamunA), YamunA/AMSumatI , GaNgA/JahnAvI.

Let us see the disputed rivers

1. HariyUpIyA/YavyAvatI: HariyUpIyA is another name of the DRSadvatI: the river is known as RaupyA in the MahAbhArata, and the name is clearly a derivative of HariyUpIyA.
The YavyAvatI is named in the same hymn and context as the HariyUpIyA, and almost all the scholars agree that both the names refers to the same river.

It is also possible that YavyAvatI may be another name of the YamunA. M.L. Bhargava, in his study of Rigvedic Geography, incidentally (i.e. without making such an identification) makes the following remarks: “The old beds of the ancient DRSadvatI and the YamunA… ran very close to each other… the two rivers appear to have come close at a place about three miles southwest of ChacharaulI town, but diverged again immediately after… the YamunA… then again ran southwestwards almost parallel to the DRSadvatI, the two again coming about two miles close to each other near old Srughna……”

The battle described on the HariyUpIyA -YavyAvatI may therefore have taken place in the area between these rivers

2.JahnAvI: JahnAvI, which is clearly another name of the GaNgA, is named in two hymns; and in both of them, it is translated by the scholars as something other than the name of a river: Griffith translates it as “Jahnu’s children” and “the house of Jahnu” .

The evidence, however, admits of only one interpretation: JahnAvI is clearly the earlier Rigvedic form of the later word GaNgA: the former word is not found after the Rigveda, and the latter word is not found in the Rigveda. And the word JAhnavI (and therefore also JahnAvI as well) has only one connotation in the entire length and breadth of Sanskrit literature: it is a name of the GaNgA. JahndvI is associated with the SiMSumAra or the Gangetic dolphin. The dolphin is not referred to anywhere else in the Rigveda.

Mandalas and Rivers
Let us see manadala wise distribution of rivers and so the location of rig veda composition in each place.

Early MaNDala I

Middle MaNDala I
SarasvatI, Sindhu

General and Late MaNDala I
GaurI, RasA , Sindhu, SarasvatI, JahnAvI

MaNDala II

VipAS, SutudrI, SarasvatI, DRSadvatI, ApayA, JahnAvI

MaNDala IV
Sarayu, KuSavA, Sindhu, ParuSNI, VipAS, RasA

MaNDala V
Sarayu, KubhA, Krumu, AnitabhA, RasA, Sindhu, ParuSNI, SarasvatI, YamunA

MaNDala VI
SarasvatI, HariyUpIyA, YavyAvatI, GaNgA

AsiknI, ParuSNI, SarasvatI, YamunA

GomatI, SvetyAvarI, SuvAstu, Prayiyu, Vayiyu, Sindhu, ArjIkIyA, SuSomA, , ParuSNI, SarasvatI, AMSumatI, RasA

MaNDala IX
Sindhu, ArjIkIyA, SarasvatI, RasA.

MaNDala X
Sarayu, GomatI, Mehatnu, KubhA, Krumu, Sveti, RasA, Susartu, TRSTAmA, , ArjIkIyA, SuSomA, VitastA, MarudvRdhA, AsiknI, ParuSNI, SutudrI, SarasvatI, ASmanvatI, YamunA, GaNgA

Mandalas and movement
1. In the pre-Rigvedic period and the early part of the Early Period (MaNDala VI), the Vedic Aryans were inhabitants of an area to the east of the SarasvatI.

2. In the course of the Early Period (MaNDalas III and VII), and the early part of the Middle Period (MaNDala IV and the middle upa-maNDalas), there was a steady expansion westwards.

3. Though there was an expansion westwards, the basic area of the Vedic Aryans was still restricted to the east in the Middle Period (MaNDala II), and even in the early parts of the Late Period: MaNDala V knows the western rivers from the KubhA (Kabul) in the north to the Sarayu (Siritoi) in the south, but its base is still in the east. SarasvatI is still the most important river in the MaNDala: it is referred to by the eponymous RSi Atri, who also refers to the RasA. All the other references to the western rivers (Sarayu, KubhA, Krumu, AnitabhA, RasA, Sindhu) occur in a single verse by a single RSi SyAvASva, obviously a very mobile RSi who also refers elsewhere to the ParuSNI and even the YamunA .

4. In the later part of the Late Period (MaNDalas VIII, IX, X, and the general and late upa-maNDalas) the Vedic Aryans were spread out over the entire geographical horizon of the Rigveda.

Thus, we have a clear picture of the westward movement of the Vedic Aryans from their homeland in the east of the SarasvatI to the area to the west of the Indus, towards the end of the Early Period of the Rigveda: what is clearly the westermnost point in this movement, a battle fought in southern Afghanistan “on yonder side of Sarayu”.

So the rig veda people are home to India not from outside


Myths of India by Indologists

Article by N.S. Rajaram

The study of ancient India, at least in the modern Western sense, may be said to have begun with Sir William Jones in the late 18th century. With his discovery of the Sanskrit language and its literature, Jones became the founder of the field we now call Indology. For the next century and half, this became the basis for the study of everything connected with ancient India, including its history.

With the discovery of the Harappan Civilization in 1921 — greater in extent than ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia combined — archaeological data also became available, which could now be used in the study of ancient India. But no systematic effort was made to connect archaeological data with the ancient Indian literature. On the other hand, entrenched theories like the Aryan invasion sought to keep Harappan archaeology and ancient Indian literature permanently separated. This has created a strange situation. The Harappans, the creators of the greatest material civilization of antiquity, have no literary or historical context. On the other hand, the Vedic Aryans, the creators of the greatest literature the world has ever known have no archaeological or even geographical existence.

As a result, after more than two centuries, the subject called Indology has no foundation to speak of; what we have instead is little more than a collection of views and ad-hoc theories that often contradict one another. It is time now to look at the underlying beliefs and methods of Indology, which has for all practical purposes served as a substitute for historiography as far as ancient India is concerned. The present volume is intended as a contribution towards that end. It focuses on two sources: first, ancient literary sources which challenge the Indological version of Vedic Civilization as the creation of nomadic invaders called the Aryans; and next, the separation of the Harappan Civilization from the Vedic mainstream.

In this reexamination, the recent decipherment of the Indus script by Natwar Jha is beginning to play a fundamental role. To begin with, it provides a firm historical context for the Harappans by linking their archaeology to the Vedic literature. This provides a chronological and cultural marker of the first importance by placing the later Vedic literature in the third millennium. As a result, it now becomes possible to begin to formulate the history of Vedic India on a solid foundation. It is shown that this is best done by discarding the field called Indology which has no scientific basis; its place should be taken by a historical structure built on a foundation of primary sources from archaeology and ancient literature. With this, our study of ancient India can begin in earnest.


In the last decade of the 18th century, Sir William Jones, an English jurist in the employ of the British East India Company began a study of Sanskrit to better understand the legal and political traditions of the Indian subjects. As a classical scholar, he was struck by the extraordinary similarities between Sanskrit and European languages like Latin and Greek. He observed:

… the Sanscrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of wonderful structure, more perfect than Greek, more copious than Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of the verbs in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from the same source.

With this dramatic announcement Jones simultaneously launched the two fields that we now call Indology and comparative linguistics. With the benefit of hindsight we can see that the two fields were doomed from the start: being new, neither had a scientific foundation, and yet they tried to grow by feeding on each other. It soon spawned a new breed of scholars who went on to apply the first superficial findings of these new fields to the problems of ancient India. Into these new fields — rich with data, but without any foundation to speak of — entered a man whose name has become almost synonymous with Indology, Freidrich Max Müller.

Max Müller was a romantic with a vivid and sometimes uncontrolled imagination. Through his combination of erudition, enthusiasm, skill in presentation and fortunate circumstances, he came to dominate the new field of Indology. To account for the similarities between Indian and European languages, European scholars went on to propose something called the ‘Aryan invasion’. According to this theory, a nomadic people inhabiting the Eurasian steppes speaking the common ancestor of Sanskrit and Greek — variously called Indo-European, Indo-Aryan and so forth — invaded India from the northwest and settled in India. Max Müller placed this invasion in 1500 BC, and the composition of the Rigveda in 1200 BC. He presented various arguments, but it is now known — we have his own word for it — that what influenced him was his firm belief in the Christian dogma of the creation of the world in 4004 BC (October 23 at 9:00 AM, time zone unspecified), and the Biblical Flood in 2448 BC!

This highlights another problem that has plagued Indology right from the start. Not only was Indology (and its associated field of comparative linguistics) without a foundation, but also heavily influenced by Christian beliefs and political considerations. This is reflected in its methodology also which often resembles theology more than science. This can be seen in the following statement of the well-known linguist Murray Emeneau made as recently as 1954:

At some time in the second millennium B.C., probably comparatively early in the millennium, a band or bands of speakers of an Indo-European language, later to be called Sanskrit, entered India over the northwest passes. This is our linguistic doctrine, which has been held now for more than a century and a half. There seems to be no reason to distrust the arguments for it, in spite of the traditional Hindu ignorance of any such invasion. (Emphasis added.)

As Emeneau himself acknowledges, this notion of a foreign origin for the Vedas and Sanskrit is a 'linguistic doctrine' for which there is no evidence in the Vedic or other ancient literature. Presumably Emeneau expects us to accept his doctrine on faith — as revealed truth. To a scientifically informed person this seems more like theology than anything else. (Remember Thomas Aquinas' dictum: Philosophia ancilla thologiae or "Rational inquiry must be subordinate to theology.")

There were other forces at work — notably the rise of German nationalism, and political and career considerations of individual scholars; these need not detain us here. The point to recognize here is that in such a climate, dominated by political and religious considerations, Indology had no chance of evolving into a systematic discipline — let alone a science. As a result, influence and powers of rhetoric often prevailed over logic and facts.

The basic assumptions of Indology were (and remain): (1) Vedas and the Sanskrit language (or its ancestor), were brought into India by nomadic invaders in the second millennium; (2) there was no indigenous civilization in India prior to that date. An immediate corollary to these assumptions is that India never had an indigenous civilization and everything was an import. This is still the central dogma of Marxist historians who became the successors to the colonial and Christian missionary scholars. (More of this later.) In this climate of combined religious and political darkness that resembled Medieval Europe more than the modern world, there were a few shafts of scientific light. Scholars like H.T. Colebrook, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Herman Jacobi found astronomical references in the Vedic literature that brought to light serious problems with the Aryan invasion and other assumptions (and dogmas) of Indology. This, however, was not enough to dislodge entrenched dogmas. Then, in the third decade of this century, there was a significant change.

Beginning in 1921, archaeologists Rakhal Das Bannerji and Daya Ram Sahni, working under the direction of Sir John Marshall discovered two ancient cities in Punjab and Sind; these are now famous as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Subsequent excavations showed that they were part of a great civilization spread over more than a million square kilometers. This is now known as the Harappan or the Indus Valley Civilization. Archaeologists now place it in the c. 3100 – 1900 BC period, though its antecedents can be traced to 7000 BC at sites like Mehrgarh in the northwest and Koldihwa in Central India.

This was a major blow to the Aryan invasion theory, and the idea that there was no civilization in India prior to the arrival of the Aryans in 1500 BC. It should have made scholars sit up and take a serious look at the foundation of their theories and arguments. It did not. To begin with, Indologists had never built a foundation for their subject. All they had to show for their century of activity was a collection of theories and conjectures. In keeping with this record, they added another conjecture: the Harappan Civilization was destroyed by the invading Aryans. The result of all this piling of conjecture upon conjecture was to move Indology (and Indologists) further and further away from empirical reality. As it stands today, Indology resembles nothing so much as comparative mythology. Clearly, this cannot be the basis for history let alone historiography. So we must look elsewhere to build a foundation for the study of ancient India.

From colonialism to Marxism

A consequence of this unusual history is that the major influences on the evolution of Indology have been Christian missionary interests and European politics including colonial interests. (It should be noted that throughout the colonial period, Christian missionaries worked closely with colonial authorities, especially in fields like education.) This came to an end with the independence of India from colonial rule on August 15, 1947. So the time was ripe for Indian scholars to reject these colonial impositions and begin a reexamination of their history and culture based on a study of their matchless heritage of primary records, supplemented by modern scientific tools. In fact, more than a century ago, Swami Vivekananda had exhorted Indians:

The histories of our country written by English [and other Western] writers cannot but be weakening to our minds, for they talk only of our downfall. How can foreigners, who understand very little of our manners and customs, or religion and philosophy, write faithful and unbiased histories of India? Naturally, many false notions and wrong inferences have found their way into them.

Nevertheless they have shown us how to proceed making researches into our ancient history. Now it is for us to strike out an independent path of historical research for ourselves, to study the Vedas and the Puranas, and the ancient annals of India, and from them make it your life's sadhana to write accurate and soul-inspiring history of the land. It is for Indians to write Indian history.

But again, for reasons peculiar to every post-colonial country, this did not happen. Why this was so is an important subject that still awaits serious study. For our purposes it is enough to know that at the time of independence, India had a substantial English educated elite class that identified itself closely with the values and attitudes of the British rulers. A good number of these had received their education at institutions run by Christian missions, and had gone on to imbibe many of the anti-Hindu prejudices perpetuated by missionary scholars. Following the withdrawal of colonialism, Marxism — no less hostile to Hinduism — filled the resulting vacuum. This elite, without the guidance of colonial and missionary scholarship, readily embraced Marxist formulations of Indian history.

A key figure in this development was the Marxist scholar D.D. Kosambi. He formulated a version of ancient Indian history around the central Marxist dogma of the class struggle, and economy as the basis of history. An inseparable part of Marxist theology is that India has no history of its own and what is called history is nothing but a record of its intruders. This was stated by no less a person than Karl Marx. This dogma has become sacrosanct for the Marxist scholars who came to dominate the Indian intellectual scene for nearly half a century. They are no more prepared to question it than a devout Catholic the notion of virgin birth. The Aryan invasion theory fitted in well with this belief system. Even when archaeological data forced some of them to abandon the invasion idea, they grimly hung on to the notion of the Vedas and the Sanskrit language as foreign imports. This is essentially the position of Indian Marxists, many of whom recognize that the Aryan invasion has been shattered by science. They assert that even though there was no invasion, the Vedas and Sanskrit are foreign imports. Their very identity as Marxists depends on it.

Secular eschatology

It is important to understand that what has passed for ‘research’ and ‘scholarship’ by this school has consisted entirely of manipulating data from Indian sources around Marxist beliefs. Where Christian missionaries in India had followed this course to establish the superiority of Christianity over all other religions — especially Hinduism — the Marxists used similar arguments to establish the inevitability of Marxism. Marxists essentially adopted the idea of ‘progress’ from Christian theology.

Christianity sees history as the evolution of mankind from its ‘natural’ sinful state to be redeemed by Christ. This is the essence of mankind’s ‘progress’ or eschatology. Marxists hold the history of the world to be a similar evolution into a Marxist society. It was for this reason that the philosopher Bertrand Russell called Marxism a ‘Christian heresy’. And for the same reason, the Marxist view of history may justifiably be called a ‘secular eschatology’. From all this it is not hard to see that modern Indian historians have been acting more as theologians than scientists. This in fact is at the heart of the current debate over the interpretation of ancient Indian history. There is now battle raging over it. This is examined in the next article.

Myth of Mother Sanskrit Theory

Is sanskrit mother of all Languages. Various theories are being floated. Let us see them.

Mother Sanskrit theory is a Myth
  1. Vedas - The word `Sanskrit' does not occur anywhere in the Vedas. Not a single verse mentions this word as denoting a language.
  2. The Vedic language was referred to as Chandasa even by Panini himself [ Chatt., p. 63 ], and not as `Sanskrit'.
  3. The Buddha was advised to translate his teachings into the learned man's tongue - the `Chandasa' standard [ Chatt., p. 64 ], there is no mention of any `Sanskrit'. The Buddha refused, preferring the Prakrits. There is not even a single reference in any contemporary Buddhist texts to the word `Sanskrit'. This shows that Sanskrit did not even exist at the time of the Buddha.
  4. The word `Sanskrit' occurs for the first time as referring to a language in the Ramayana : "In the latter [Ramayana] the term `samskrta' "formal, polished", is encountered, probably for the first time with reference to the language"
  5. The first inscriptions in Indian history are in Prakrit and not in Sanskrit. These are by the Mauryan King Ashoka (c. 273 BC - 232 BC ), and number over 30. The script utilised is not `sacred' Devanagari, and the language is not `Mother' Sanskrit. They are mostly in the Brahmi script, while 2 inscriptions are in Kharoshtri. They are in various Prakrits and some in Afghanistan are in Greek and Aramaic [ Bas,. p. 390-1 ]. In fact all inscriptions in India were in Prakrit till the early centuries AD : "[T]he earlier inscriptions up to the 1st century AD, were all in Prakrit"
  6. The Satavahanas, the first historical dynasty of the Deccan, also used a Prakrit language. There is no usage of Sanskrit.
  7. The Nanaghat cave inscriptions in Poona distt. are in Prakrit and are the work of the Satavahana Satakarni I. They have been dated to the first half of the 1st century BC. The contemporary relgiion of this region was Vedic. Indra and Vasudev are mentioned as the Vedic gods then worshipped [ Bas, p. 395 ]. The later cave inscriptions of Nasik in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD are in the local Prakrit [ Bas, p. 395 ]. Thus, although the Vedic religion was followed in the Satavahana regions, Sanksrit was not in use.
  8. Kharavela's Kalingan inscription of the 1st century BC were in a Prakrit of the east indian type.
  9. First Sanskrit Inscription : 150 AD - The earliest inscription in Sanskrit is by the Saka
  10. Brajbuli dates to 1000 BC - A central assumption of the MST is that all Prakrit vernaculars must be of a very late date. With the first mention of `Sanskrit' in a Ramayana dating to the ealy centuries AD, any Prakrit existing prior to this necessarily contradicts the Mother Sanskrit Theory. Brajabuli, the precursor to the modern Braj Bhasa, is said to have been used by Krishna and the gopis of Vraja (Vrindavan, whence Braj) and it was thus popular amongst Vaishnava poets [ Assam, p. 422. n3 ]. Krishna is dated to ca. 1000 BC, and this internal evidence would imply that Braj Bhasa dated to 1000 BC. Recently, Krishna's city, Dvaraka, has been excavated, showing that he probably was a historical person. The stories are hence based on fact, and this evidence cannot be dismissed as a `myth'.
  11. Prakrit' = Vernacular - The term `Prakrta' or Prakrit means `common', `natural', while the term `Samskrta' or Sanskrit natural means `polsihed, refined' [ Up. 164 ]. Thus Prakrit refers to any of the natural languages, while Sanskrit refers to the `purified' language. This etymology itself indicates that Sanskrit is derived from Prakrit rather than the other way around. This necessarily implies that Sanskrit is, like Old Church Slavonic, a polished version of various vernaculars.
  12. Apabrahmsa is a Prakrit - Apabrahmsa, which in the MST is seen as a derivative of Prakrit, is in fact itself a Prakrit known as Abhiri. It was actually comtemporary with all the other Prakrits, and the view that it succeeded Prakrit is wrong. Several dramas have characters speaking Apabrahmsa and Prakrits side by side. This shows that Apabrahmsa is not the second stage in the development from Sanskrit, but was merely another Prakrit dilect.
  13. As per the MST, the Prakrits are all dead languages, having `degraded' into the modern Indo-Aryan tongues. However, Prakrits never disappeared. All the modern Indo-Aryan (IA) languages are Prakrits (Bengali, Marathi etc.). The ancient Prakrits are the direct precursors of the modern languages, thus Vangi - Bengali, Odri - Oriya, and Maharastri - Marathi. All these so-called `Prakrits' such as Vangi, Odri and Maharastri, can all be understood by the speakers of their respective IA languages with the same ease with which a modern speaker of English can understand Anglo-Saxon. This fact alone is sufficient to refute the MST. Far from being dead, Prakrit is still spoken in all parts of India just as it has been for thousands of years. The word Prakrit itself merely means `natural' and refers to all the Indo-Iranian languages as spoken by the common man in India. Thus, even the literal meaning of the word `Prakrit' implies that it is far from dead.
  14. Prakrit Older than Sanskrit - The MST claims that Sanskrit is older than Prakrit. However, it is Prakrit which is older than Sanskrit, since several features of Prakrit can be traced to the Rig Veda, which are not found in Sanskrit.
  15. Pali poses another problem for the MST. As per the MST, it is an independant derivation from Sanskrit, and is not a Prakrit. However, Pali is in fact a dialect of Magadhi Prakrit and not a separate language as evidenced by the mutual comprehensibility between these two tongues.
Sanskrit is the mother of all languages
  1. The sound of each of the 36 consonants and the 16 vowels of Sanskrit are fixed and precise since the very beginning. They were never changed, altered, improved or modified. All the words of the Sanskrit language always had the same pronunciation as they have today. There was no ‘sound shift,’ no change in the vowel system, and no addition was ever made in the grammar of the Sanskrit in relation to the formation of the words. The reason is its absolute perfection by its own nature and formation, because it was the first language of the world.
  2. The morphology of word formation is unique and of its own kind where a word is formed from a tiny seed root (called dhatu) in a precise grammatical order which has been the same since the very beginning. Any number of desired words could be created through its root words and the prefix and suffix system as detailed in the Ashtadhyayi of Panini. Furthermore, 90 forms of each verb and 21 forms of each noun or pronoun could be formed that could be used in any situation.
  3. There has never been any kind, class or nature of change in the science of Sanskrit grammar as seen in other languages of the world as they passed through one stage to another.
  4. The perfect form of the Vedic Sanskrit language had already existed thousands of years earlier even before the infancy of the earliest prime languages of the world like Greek, Hebrew and Latin etc.
  5. When a language is spoken by unqualified people the pronunciation of the word changes to some extent; and when these words travel by word of mouth to another region of the land, with the gap of some generations, it permanently changes its form and shape to some extent. Just like the Sanskrit word matri, with a long ‘a’ and soft ‘t,’ became mater in Greek and mother in English. The last two words are called the ‘apbhransh’ of the original Sanskrit word ‘matri.’ Such apbhranshas of Sanskrit words are found in all the languages of the world and this situation itself proves that Sanskrit was the mother language of the world.
I feel the debate will continue for a long time, as there is a absence of written records. But here distinction should be made between vedic and sanskrit. Sanskrit starts with Panini which he calls Chandas.



Who are ancient Kambojas and their Land

There have been many controversies about the precise location of ancient Kamboja Mahajanapada or Kamboja country as mentioned in our ancient Sanskrit and Pali texts or which finds mention in the classical writings of the Greek, Roman, Chinese or Moslem writers. The footprints of Kambojas have been found in Iran, Bukhara, Balakh, Fargana, Sogdiana, Pamirs, Badakhshan, Hindukush, Kashmir, Kabol Valley (Paropamisadean region/Kaffirstan), Kandhar, Gazni, Sindh, Balochistan, Gujrat/Kathiawad, Mathura, Ayudhya, Tibet, Nepal, Assam, Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pardesh, in South India, Sri Lanka, Indochina (Cambodia) etc. So the various scholars, Indian and foreign, have tried to locate their KAMBOJA country, in South India, Gujrat-Kathiwad, Sindh-Sauvir, Balauchistan, Nepal, Tibet, Assam, Kandhar/Gazni, Kaffirstan, Pamir/Badakshan as also in Central Asia, comprising southern parts of Russian and Chinese Turkestan, according as, where they had found the foot prints of the Kamboja people, during the phase of history under their study. But unfortunately, still, the scholars are not unanimous in their location of Ancient Kamboja Mahajanapada which stands mentioned numerously in our Sanskrrit and Pali Texts.

Says Dr Moti Chander : " The Kambojas were important people, but strange as it may look the Indologists are not at all unanimous in their location of this ancient country" (Geographical and Economic Studies in the Mahabharata Upayana Parva, JUPHS, Vol. XVI, Pt. II., p 42). Let us start to unfold the story of location and identification of Kamboja from the beginning.


Vayu Purana (V) [I 45.118], Brahmanda Purana (V) [ I, 2.16.49), Markandeya Purana [57.36] and Vamana Purana [13.40] etc describes the Kamboja tribes in the Udychya or Uttarapatha.

Markendya (58) [Markendya 58.30.32], Vishnu Dharmottara [I.9.6] mention them as tribes of south-west. Brahta Samhita also mentions them in the South-west near Gujarat/Sorasher (Brahta Samhita XIV, 17-19). Markendya (55/30-33) groups them with the Pahlavas, Sindhus and Sauviras and Vishnu Dharmottara groups them with Strirajya (Bahlika) and the Yavanas, it goes without saving that these texts refer to the countries of northg-west of India.

Later some time, when many clans of these tribes were located near Saurashtra/Gujarat (after 2nd c/1 ist c BC), they find mention in Garuda Purana (55.13) in Dakshinapatha.

Brahata Samhita (14/17-19) mentions them near Gujarat in south-west division in association with Sindhu SauvirSorashter Dravid etc.

In his Arathshastra, Brahaspati, has shown Kamboja as a great country, associated with the Dasrana country in south-west [IHQ., Vol XXVI-2, 1950, p 127].

Very interestingly, Agni Purana mentions two Kambojas...Kamboja and Kambhoja located somewhere in South and South west division (Dr J. L. Kamboj).

Rajvilas, a mediaeval age Text also associates Kamboja with SorashterGujarat and Kachch countries. [Rajbilas 1/112].

Balmiki Ramayana locates Kamboja in general in the Uttarapatha of Indian peninsula but does not give us its precise location. Per BALMIKI RAMAYANA, Sugariva figures as directing the monkeys to go to Uttarapatha, the lands of the Kambojas, Yavanas, Sakas and the Vardas (Pardasa?) (Ramayana Kishakanda Saraga, 43.12). Thus Ramayana places Saka, Kamboja Yavana etc tribes as neighbors in the extrem north beyond Surasena, Prasthala, Bharatas, Kurus and Madrakas.

Further, in Vashista-Vishwamitra war over Kamdhenu, which was probably fought over in Afghanistan, the Kambojas, Sakas, Yavanas etc tribes are again shown to have participated as allies or supporters of Vashista against Vishwamitra. As Sakas, Yavanas etc are the well known tribes of the Uttarapatha, their Associates, the Kambojas are also qualify to have been their Uttarapathian neighbors. All these tribes are shown as having been jointly `created by the divine powers of Kamdhenu' on special plea by Vashist. See below:

tasyA humbhAravAjjAtAH kAmbojA ravisaMnibhAH . Udhasastvatha sa~njAtAH pahlavAH shastrapANayaH .. 2..\ yonideshAchcha yavanaH shakR^iddeshAchchhakAstathA . romakUpeShu mechchhAshcha harItAH sakirAtakAH .. 3..\ (Ramayana 1/52-55).

Mahabharata also associates Kambojas with Sakas, Yavanas tribes at several places and also counts them amongst the Uttarapathian tribes:

Saka-Yavana-KAMBOJAstasta: Kasatrya Jatyah: Vrishaltam parigta brahmanahnamdrashnaat (MBH 13/33/22)

But in the following Shloka of Mahabharata, the Kambojas are shown as belonging to western region of India.

ShakAnAM pahlavAnA.n cha daradAnAM cha ye nRipAH. KAmbojA RiShikA ye cha pashchimAnUpakAshcha ye// (Udyogaparvam-4/15)

So much so, in Mahabharata war, the Saka, Kamboja and Yavana tribes had fought to gather under the joint command of Kamboja king Sudakshina Kamboj. See evidence below:

Viduymano vatain bahurup ivambuda:/ Sudakshinashach Kambojo Yavanaishach shakaistha// (MBH 5/19/23) This undoubtedly verifies the Kambojas to have been the neighbor and friends of Sakas/Yavanas and hence living somewhere in the Uttarapatha division of Ancient India. MUDRARAKHASA DRAMA (II.2).

Kambojas, Sakas etc have also been portrayed as the tribes of Uttarapatha in Mudrarakasha drama of Buddist texts and they are shown to have jointly formed core of the Chander Gupta Maurya's composite army of Uttarapathian warriors which had decisively defeated the Magadha dynasty of Nandas/Nandins. e.g.

Asti tava Shaka-Yavana-Kirata-Kamboja-Parsika-Bahlika parbhutibhi: Chankyamatipragrahittaishach Chander Gupt Parvateshvar Balairudadhibhiriv parchalitsalilaih: Samantad uprudham Kusumpuram (Mudrarakshasa II.2)

All these examples points out at fact that the Kambojas who were the allies and neighbors of the well-known Uttarapathian tribes like Sakas, Parthas, Yavanas etc were most probably also located in the Uttarapatha somewhere.

Ashoka's Rock edicts (R.E. V (Yona-Kamboj-Gamdharnam...), R.E. XIII (Yona-Kambojesu), & Shar-I-Kunha Inscriptions of Kandhar (Aramic/Greek version representing Yonas and Kambojas respectively) document some Kamboja population in Kandhar, and Kandhar/Kabul/Lamghan/Swat valley (testified by linguist traces) but it does not talk about the Kambojas of Central Asia..Obviously the people in mind in Asoka's rock edicts were the Paropamisadean Republican Kambojas who had crossed the Hindu Kush range and had occupied the Paropamisadean region (south of Hindukush) a little before times of Ashoka. The republican Asvakyan (Ashvak/Ashmak) and Asvayana (Asapas) Kambojas of the Puranic literature and Panini's Ashta-dhyai belong to this class.

In Dhammapada's commentary on Petuvathu, Dvarka is associated with Kamboja as its Capital or its important city. (ref: The Buddhist Concepts of Spirits, p 81, Dr B. C. Law). See evidence below:

"Yasa asthaya gachham Kambojam dhanharika/ ayam kamdado yakkho iyam yakham nayamasai// iyam yakkham gahetvan sadhuken pasham ya/ yanam aaropyatvaan khippam gaccham Davarkaan ti// [Buddhist Text Khudak Nikaya (P.T.S)]


Based on this evidence of Buddhist Jatakja, Dr. T. W. Rhys David locates Kamboja somewhere in Northern India (Uttarapatha) and fixes its Capital as Davarka. (Buddhist India, p 17).


Dr S. K. Aiyanger agrees with Dr. Rhys David that Davarka was the Capital of Kamboja and locates this Kamboja country in modern Sindh and Gujrat region with ancient Dvarvati or Dvarka located in Gujrat as its Capital But the Davarka of Dr T. W. Rhys David was located in Central Asia across the Oxus river (Ancient India, p 7).

Dr. P. N. Banerjee also locates his Kamboja Mahajanapada in modern Sindh and Gujrat and states Davarka as its Capital ( Public Administration in Ancient India, p 56).

Nagendra Nath also supposes that the ancient Kamboja was the same as Kambhey of Gujarat (Vager Jatya Itihaas (Bangla), Rajanya Kanda.


According Nepali Pt B. H. Hodgson, the name Kamboja desha applies to Tibet. This fact has also been supported by two MSS (No 7763, and 7777) described in the Catalogues of Sanskrit and Prakrit MSS in the library of India Office, Vol II., part II; History of Bengal, I 191, by Dr R. C. Majumdar, Distt Gazetteer (rajashahi), 1915, p 26, Some Historical Aspects of the Inscriptions of Bengal, p 342, f.n. 1 by Dr B. C. Sen).

According to French Indianist Alfred Foucher, "......the Kohistan, a mountainous area near Kabul might be the land of the Kambojas, of which we know very little, except that they were more Iranian than Indian and raised fine horses" .(La Vieille route de I'nde, p271, Dr Alfred Foucher)

But at another place , Dr Alfred Foucher states that according to Nepali traditions, the name Kamboja desha applies to Tibet. (Iconographie Buddhique, p 134).

Dr Charles Eliot also locates the Kamboja Mahajanapada of the Sanskrit and Palli texts in Tibet country. (Hinduism and Buddhism, Vol I, , p 268). In another volume of the same work, Charles Eliot calls them, an ambiguous race, who were perhaps the inhabitants of Tibet or its borderlands" (Hinduism and Buddhism,Vol III, p 6, fn 5).

Dr G. G. Gokhale locates ancient Kamboja in Tibet. (Ancient History of India 1952, by Dr G. G. Gokhale).

Also compare:

Dr V. A. Smith seems to locate Kamboja in Tibet or within the Hindukush mountains ranges. (Early History of India, Ed IV, p 193). Dr Smith further states that the ancient Kambojas are supposed to have spoken an Iranian tongue. (op. Cit, p 184, fn).

OR WAS ANCIENT KAMBOJA OF SANSKRIT/PALI TEXTS LOCATED IN INDO-CHINA (???). A CONFUSION AMONG SOME INVESTIGATORS: Cf: "Dr R. D. Banerjee refers to a KAMBOJA or KAMBODIA on the east side of Samatata , East Bengal.Vanglar Itihasa, Vol I, p 95). But can hardly be our Kamboja Mahajanapada which is invariably associated with Gandhara in the Uttarapatha of India" (Some Kasatrya Tribes of Ancient India,p 235 , Dr. B. C. Law)

Cf: A Tribute to Hinduism - Suvarnabhumi; "... the ruins of a metropolis hidden in the jungles of Cambodia (formerly known as KAMBOJA). One of the largest cities of the ancient world, Angkor was built by ... " [More Results From:]

Cf: "As the Hindu culture spread to far east, temples were built in His Honor in many places like Java, Champa ( Indo-China), KAMHOJA ( present day Cambodia) and in the adjoining areas of the now south east Asian countries."

Cf: "Myawaddy (from Amaravati), dvaravati (to be found in Thailand as well as here at one time), Ayuthia (from Ayoddhya or Ayujjha), Cambodia (from KAMBOJA) are some that come readily to mind. The name "Erawati is evidently one of them. Harvey himself provides the clue when he mentions that" `The name of the Irrawady . cf: "...The period in which Cambodia has permanent significance in the history of the world runs from the Tenth Century to the Fifteenth and is the era in which the Khmers, the native population, came under the cultural dominion of India, adopted the religions of both Hinduism and Buddhism, and accepted Sanskrit as the language of the educated ruling class, itself of Hindu or mixed Hindu and Khmer stock. The very name of Cambodia is Sanskrit (KAMBOJA). This era ends with the sack of Angkor Thom by the Siamese and the consequent decadence of the nation...". [by Professor Revilo P. Oliver (Liberty Bell, October 1988]

cf: ".....The surviving archeological evidences of this period are seen in the imposing ruins of Angkor Vat in Cambodia (KAMBHOJA of the ancient Sanskrit texts)..............................Even present-day names like Singapore (derived from the Sanskrit Simha Pura meaning Lion City) and Java (derived from the Sanskrit Yava Dwipa meaning (island of grain), remind us of Hindu influences over this part of the globe....".

cf: "Indians were avid travellers and settled in distant lands. The Cholas encouraged and organized expeditions through which the religion and culture of the land was carried beyond India's borders. The ancient name for Java is Yava Dvipa, the Island of Millet - the Indian word for millet is Java. Cambodia was once called KAMBHOJA, named after the Indian city in ancient Gandhara in today's Kabul region. The epic, Ramayana, is a part of mythology of Thailand and Indonesia, Balinese and Thai dance forms are of Indian origin///". Also look at the following: "... asia were ruled by kings of Indian descent, and had Indian names. If Kamboja was the ancient name for Kampuchea / Cambodia, what was knon in ancient times as ... "

COMMENT: Thus all the above investigators locate KAMBHOJA/KAMBOJA of ancient Sankrit Texts in Mekong Basin (=modern day Kambodia). But this is not the our Kamboja mahajanapada mentioned in our ancient Sanskrit/Biddhist texts.

A WAY OUT? "Kamboja, a country referred to by Emperor Asoka in his inscriptions, is generally believed to be to the west of India. It could, however, also be identical with the Cambodia of today, and it is conceivable that two Kambojas existed" [Dr Roger Bischoff]

Thus this investigator (Roger Bischoff) supposes two KAMBOJAS...One Kamboja on north of India mentioned in Ashoka's Rock Edicts while the second KAMBOJA was in the present day Kambodia/Cambodia in Mekong Basin in Indo-China. And Roger Bischoff is indeed right in his supposition.


Dr James Philip states that researcher Wilford always locates Kamboja in the mountains of Gazni in all his essays, but what is the basis of his fixation of Kamboja in Gazni is never clarified or explained (JASB., Vol VII, 1838, p 237).

".......The earlier settlements of the Kurus were situated, as Zimmer has shown, near Kamboja in the territory of Kashmir. (H. Zimmer, Altindisches Leben, p. 102)..................." This above Kamboja may refer either to the country adjoining the Dardas (Kamboja Country) or the Trans-Himalaya Kamboja neighbor of Uttara-Kurus/Uttara Madras of the Aitraya Brahmana (ParamaKamboja). ".............. Ancient Buddhist literature mentions 16 great republics (Mahajanpadas) of northern India, and Afghanistan (Gandhara) and Central Asia (Kamboja) are included in them......." This author puts the Kambojas in Central Asia.

".....While Magadha was establishing their way over northern India, the regions of west, Punjab, Sind and Afganistan were divided into many states. Kamboja and Gandhara are two of the sixteen Mahajanapadas mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures". This puts Kambojas somewhere in Pakistan Punjab.

"Much of the early history of the South Asian region that has been recorded comes from the painstaking effort to put together historical documents (such as traveler accounts), archeological evidence and the interpretation of literature and moral texts of the times. These accounts lead a student to scattered stories of the populations that lived in the region between Kamboja and Gandhara in the North (modern day Northern Pakistan and Southern Afghanistan), their encounters with the Greeks and the multiple "States" that were spread out all across the lower reaches of the Himalayas and the Gangetic plain , extending down to the Narmada and Godavari rivers further south. It is from within such a milieu of multiple "States" that the Mauryan empire emerged in the fourth century B.C." (B. Mathew)

According to Encylopedia Brittanica, the ancienr Kamboja adjoined Gandhara and was located in north Afganistan and Central asia. (look at map of Ancient India, Encylopedia Brittanica).

"The Kambojas were a native population in the WEST OF THE MAURYAN EMPIRE, speaking a language probably of `Iranian origin". (Observations made at the International seminar on early Buddhist art of Central Asia, Gandhara, India and Sri Lanka, Colombo, 1998).) This author places his Kamboja in the west but is not specific where in the west of the Mauryan Empire.

According to A. K. Warder, Kamboja was located in the extreme north west, the capital then was Dvaraka ( Indian Buddhism-A.Kwarder)

" Not only in Madagascar but also in various places of North India, from Kamboja in Afghanistan to Anga (along the vast Gangetic Plains which were then mostly covered with shal forest) by 6th to 10th centuries BC, the practice of human sacrifice was a common phenomenon................. (human sacrifice)"....

Leaving other things apart, this writer also places ancient Kamboja in Afghanistan.

"Kamboja is a country referred to by Emperor Asoka in his inscriptions. It is generally believed to be in the West of India. It could, however also be the Cambodia of today. It is also conceivable that two Kambojas existed" (BUDDHISM IN MYANMAR, A Short History by Dr Roger Bischoff).

Thus Dr Roger locates one of his KAMBOJAS IN WEST OF INDIA, but where is in the west??

"...........Kamboja and Gandhara were the outermost regions in the north-west India and they had by the fifth century BC already developed significant relations with the Persian Empire. Evidence exists of tributes being paid to Cyrus of Persia and armies recruited from the two regions battling against the Greeks......." . (B. Mathew) Here again the Kamboja is placed in the north-west in general.

Rodney Lingham in his article `THE TRUE ORIGIN OF ZOROASTRIANISM' writes about the kambojas: "The Kambojas were a people who lived in the upper reaches of the Indus valley in the present eastern Afghanistan, western Pakistan, or Rajauri Kashmir. The King `Vistashpa' may be the Iranian rendering of King "Vishwamitra", the Asuric-like Sage-King of ancient India. He was the King of the ancient Vedic-Land of `Kanyakubja', descending from the Lunar-Dynasty of Illa and Pauravas. This relates to the Kambojas, the people of Western India, Kashmir or Afghanistan". (THE TRUE ORIGIN OF ZOROASTRIANISM ;Rodney Lingham). Thus Rodney Lingham places the ancient Kamboja in Kashmir. ... be only a memory in India, just as the Hindu Communities of Gandhara and Kamboja are in present day Afghanistan. What is the reaction/observation of the ... Here the Kamnboja is located in Afghanistan. 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 Kamboja is placed in undivided Punjab here.

Dr Nando Lal Dev states that according to Dr Loh, the Shiaposh tribes of Hindukush are the descendents of the Kambojas and according to him Afghanistan or at least its north-east part constituted ancient Kamboja Mahajanapada. ((Geographical Dictionary of Ancient and Medieval India, p 87).

Dr Stein locates Kamboja in the eastern parts of Afghanistan (Note on Rajatarangini, Vol, IV, 165, p 136).

According to Dr McCrindle, ancient Kamboja was Afghanistan, the Kaofu or Kambu of Hiun Tsang (Alexander's Invasion of India, p 38). According to him, the name Afghanistan evidently evolved from Ashvaka or Ashvakayan or Assakenoi of the classical writers.( Megasthenes and Arrian, p 180; Alexander's Invasion of India, p 38). Thus, according to McCrindle, also the Ashvaks of the Paropamisadean region were the Kamboja people.

According to Dr H. M. Eliot, "The Sanskrit name for Kabol is Kamboj and this so similar to Kamboh (Kamboj) that on the authority of their own traditions, these people may safely be regarded to have been the ancient inhabitants of Kabol" (Supplementary Glossary, p 304).

Dr R. K. Mukkerjee places Kamboja in Afghanistan. He observes: "The horses ...had been recruitedc from various places which are thus named by Kautalya (II.30); Kamhoja (Afghanistan, the Kaofu /Kambu of Hiuen Tsong), Sindhus (Sindh), Aratta (Punjab), Vanayu (Arabia) Bahlika (Balkh)..............." (Chander Gupta Maurya and His times, Madras, 1943, p 280 Dr Mukerjee).

Dr V. A. Smith seems to locate Kamboja in Tibet or within the Hindukush mountains ranges. (Early History of India, Ed IV, p 193). Dr Smith further states that the ancient Kambojas are supposed to have spoken an Iranian tongue. (op. Cit, p 184, fn).

According to Dr Dr S. M. Ali, ancient Kambojas lived around Kunar river in N.W.F. India. According to him, the Puranas no where locate the Kambojas in the Sindh valley or its any parts... somewhere. The Puranas only talk about the Kamboja ganhas or sanghas (Kamboja Republics) of the Kambojas (Kambojana-cha-ye-ganahas). And this seems true because, their country Kamboj desh or Kamdesh or Kaffirstan was located on the northern of Kunar. Later, these people might have advanced further towards Kunar valley whereby we find their mention in the Puranas (The Geography of Ancient Puranas, p 143).

Accordingly, the book Multan-History and Architecture, by Ahmed Nabi, tells how the Sub-Continent was made up of as many as 16 political units or states in the 6th century BC. Out of these, Kamboja and Gandhara were two units, which covered the area now known as Pakistan. Kashmir and Takshasila formed part of the Gandhara kingdom. (The rest of the northern region including ancient Multan) is believed to have been part of Kamboja until it merged with the Achaemenian Empire. (ref: Multan-History and Architecture, by Ahmed Nabi; Humsafar PIA's inflight Megazine).

D. D. Kosambi identifies the ancient Kambojas as a farmer warrior tribe and locates them in north-west frontier country.

Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru locates the ancient Kamboja as a city located in Gandhara or in Kabol valley in Afganistan (Discovery of India, 1967, p 210 , J. L. Nehru).

"...Cambodia was once called Kambhoja, named after the Indian city (Kamboja) in ancient Gandhara in today's Kabul region......."

"The names that were given to these settlements were old Indian names. Thus Cambodia, as it is known now, was called Kambhoja, which was a well-known town in ancient India, as was Gandhara in (present day Afghanistan)".

Both the above authors locate their ancient Kamboja of the Sanskrit literature in West Punjab/Afghanistan but erroneously they indentify the Sanskrit Kamboja/Kambhoja as a `city' in Gandhara. These authors seem not to have done their home work well. According to Hari Krishan Devsare, ancient Kamboja was located in Pamir Badakshan in Central Asia: ".....In India, people have been using wool since prehistoric times. There is a prayer in Rigveda for the deity of shepherds, called 'Pashma', entreating the deity to make wool white and help in its knitting. In Mahabharata, it has been mentioned that when Pandavas performed 'Rajsuya Yagna', Yuddhisthir was presented woollen clothes having golden embroidery by Kambojs (people of Badakhan and Pameer)." Dr MADHAV DESHPANDE (Michigan State University, USA): Kambojas were from Iranian affinities. See also the text below from Deshpande:

`In addition there is also palatal s`' ' (hacek plus accent aigu on top)which developed from the equivalent of Vedic cy i.e. the famous Nirukta case of Kamboja (= East Iranian) s'avati for Young Avestan s`' 'auua(i)ti. ~ Vedic Cyavate'.

"...In any case, Kamboja in this context refers to the region of Eastern Iranian borderlands, which are referred to in Sanskrit texts like Yaaska's Nirukta....

Szavatir gatikarmaa eva bhaa.sito bhavati, vikaara enam aaryaa bha.sante zava iti.

`The verb 'zav' in the sense of going is used only in the region of Kamboja, the Aryas use only the noun zava- in the sense of a dead-body". The same passage occurs also in Patanjali's Mahabhasya. ...' .

Patanjali is effectively quoting from Yaaska's Nirukta and has statements identical with Yaaska. The statement is:

zavatir gatikarmaa eva bhaa.sito bhavati, vikaara enam aaryaa bha.sante zava iti"

`The verb 'zav' in the sense of 'going' is used only among the Kambojas. The same verb in the nominal form 'zava' is used by the Aaryas in the sense of 'transformation'." The reference in Patanjali's Mahaabhaa.sya is p. 9, in vol. 1 of Kielhorn's edition'.

Thus we see that Dr Madhava Deshpande identifies the Kambojas in East Iran.

Article by L. S. Thind