Showing posts with label vedas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vedas. Show all posts

Origin of Buddha Image

Today India is known for Idol Worship. All religions in India have in Form worship, either as symbols, letters, pictures or Idols. But this was not the case 2000Years ago. Any form of Form in Faith was not considered. In some places like Karnataka not even name of the dead Jain persons written on the Graves even until 400 AD. Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism did not support gods in human form. So how did this extreme swing took place , from nothing everything in human forms. This explains the lack of Inscriptions, temples, Idols before 5th century BC. Classic study in this transformation is Buddhism. This was the religion at the prime when this transformation occurred. So Let us see how we got the Image of Buddha. Which will explain the transformation. Let us see if Image in Indian religion and the Origin of Buddha Image and associate controversies.

Vedic Hinduism.

Vedic religion says Absolute or Trancendental can be realized in diverse ways. Co-existence of Sakara(diety with Form) and Nirakara(Diety without Form) in the same household , with men with different Intellectual and moral denominations aspiring for spirituality in their respective ways. Kena Upanishad says man cannot comprehend God with his sense organs. That is God cannot be seen with Eyes. Svetasvatara upanishad says that Great one has not likeness to form. In Bhagavat Gita Arjuna asks Krishna in what forms and objects the Great one should be meditated. In response Krishna first Enumerated all phenomenal objects , all flora , all fauna and so on. Then Krishna gives Arjuna supernatural Eye , in which he sees entire universe, process of creation and process of destruction. Arjuna beholds God is identical with Cosmos. Later Supplements of Gita say God can be worshipped by Agni by Brahman, Devata(divinity) worshipped in the heart of Muni,Pratima(Image) is adored by men of Low intellect. While one whose sight is not limited can see God everywhere. Adi shankara preferred Formless and Ramanuja said he is prefers both Formless and With Form.


Jainism says In the theist world the loftiest entity is The God. It has thousands of names like Paramatma (the ultimate soul), Bhagavan (the most glorious one), Siddha (the liberated), Buddha (the enlightened), The God, etc.

In the Jain tradition there are two forms of this entity-

(1) The formless God or Siddha (the liberated) and

(2) The God with a form or Tirthankar / Arihant.

The Tirthankar is a detached individual who is the ultimate altruist and benefactor of not only mankind but every living being. He propagates the religious path and preaches about it for their benefit. His benevolent voice promotes happiness, peace, and infinite bliss for every being.In the Jain tradition there have been twenty-four Tirthankars during the current descending cycle of time, Bhagavan Rishabhdev being the first and Bhagavan Mahavir being the last. For every Jain these Tirthankars are the entities to be worshipped and revered. The ultimate goal of Jainism is to tread the path shown by them and acquire infinite powers and virtues.


Thervada ban on Buddharupa( Buddha Image) is well known. An old Disciple of Buddha Vakali was eager to see Buddha before he died. One day buddha came and said to him “ O vakkali why do you crave to see this body of impure matter, one who perceives Dharma Perceives me. One who perceives me perceives Dharma” On different occasions through dialogues and sermons Buddha spoke against adoration of his Rupakaya or Buddha Rupa.

What does faith say?

The Trinity Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism say that God is formless ,but it does not go against worship of forms , saying that is done by lower intellectuals. So the form is also present in Indian Dharma along with Formless, which is the basic or ultimate. Now let us see how Buddha Image developed.

Origin of Buddha Image

Buddhist followers remained faithful to Buddha teaching of non-worship of buddha Image. The first to break the rule King Udyana of Vatsa or Kausambi, who was very devoted, The story goes that he was worried that Buddha would not return. Buddha's disciple Maudgalyayana used magic to send an artist (some say 32 of them) up to heaven to capture the likeness of the Buddha in a 5-foot figure carved out of sandalwood. This image was so accurate and imbued with devotion, that when Shakyamuni returned, it rose up to greet him. The Buddha acknowledged then, the power of the rupa to inspire and to teach the dharma to future generations. This story is not accepted by most Buddhists. For Five centuries after Buddha until 1st century BC , Buddha was represented by Symbols. Until 1st century AD he was never represented in Human Form. Immediately following this period the Graeco-Buddhist or Indo-Hellenistic or Ghandara period presents us with enormous anthromorphic images. Immediately we have suggestions from western world that the images were introduction from west , particularly from Greece. The present Image developed after the 5th century AD. Our main debate of the article comes here, Was the Concept of Image of God came from West (Persia, Middle east , Greece, Rome , etc).

Image or Icon in Indian Religions – History Debate.

In the First two decades of this 20th century Western scholars like Albert Foucher and John Marshall has concluded that Image or Icon was not the characteristic of Indian religions till the advent of Persians , West Asians and Greek. This Western Idea was supported by Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj and Prarthana Samaj. They maintained that Worship of Image was un - Vedic, Un - Brahminical and was the later development in Puranic age. Thervada buddhist also accepted this theory.

Other Hindus who held Pratima(Likeness = Image) was an Indigenous element nothing was foreign. Kashiprasad Jaiswal and Anand Coomaraswamy contended that Rupa (form) is integral part of the Vedic religion. At this time Indus Valley civilzation was unearthed, Archeologist R.P chanda found earliest representation of Siva Pasupathi and Yogi in the Indus valley. Also scholars pointed to Tibetans traditions and showed that Image was used before Mauryas. Also aborignals(Not Aryan and Dravidian) like Veddas and Nagas have their dieties and symbols of worship. So the worship of symbols and dieties is not totally absent.

Image worship in India

  • Image worship as we have seen in the Formless debate was accepted and prevalent.

  • Images of Shiva, mother Goddess,Yogi and wide variety of Terrocotta statues representing Human and Animal like forms. in Indus valley have proved beyond doubt that Image worship was prevalent.

  • Aboriginal like Yaksha and Naga have dieties. We find numerous dieties in their settlements since earliest times. Which show that Idol worship was prevalent before vedic times(7000BC)

  • Sakya, the clan Buddha was born in, had its own Yaksha deity, the Yaksha Sakyavardhana, the benevolent guardian of Sakyas. As prevailed the custom, soon after his birth, the child Buddha was presented to Yaksha Sakyavardhana for child's long life and glory.

So from the above points the worshipping of Forms and images was widely prevalent and the Idea is not Import from west. Let us move to the next point. Was the Buddha image creation due to influence of the west.

Foreign Influence.

Foucher argued that the Buddha Image is a eurasian one or Greek one. Let us analyse the facts.Before the Gandhara buddhist images there were Mathura Buddhist Images which were Indian in look and Indigenous. So there is no question of Gandhara images being the first buddhist images. Infact Gandhara images are continuation of mathura Images. Let us see the if there is any influence of Greek or western on the Gandhara images. Let us see one by one


  • The Asanas are all Indian. The early art shows five sitting postions with hands showing mudras (Dharmachakra Mudra, Dhyna Mudra, Bhumisparsa Mudra, Varada mudra, Abhaya Mudra)

  • The Dress worn by Boddhisattvas are Indian.

  • Physical attributes: Protuberance(usnisa) on the crown is evident, urna or turf in the fine hair between the brows is evident, Fingers are webbed, The Ears are elongated by wearing the ear rings before monastic robes.

  • The Boddhisattvas represented in less rigid position holding attributes in the hands(vajra pani in Vajra, Padmapani by roselotus , Avalokitesvara by blue lotus, Maitreya Amrta Flask) These attributes can be held in any hand, but they are always held in Right hand by Indian Tradition.

  • The Dieties are either seated or Standing on traditional Indian lotus Flower.


All the Symbols used in the Art are indian such as bull, Sacred Tree,Mountain, River , many Solar ,Nandipada, Trishul, Swastik, Lotus , Bow and Arrow Etc. These are Hindu, Jain and Buddhist or Indian.

Art form

In Indian art (abstract) the emphasis is laid on the significance of the object not the appearance. In Greek art (naturalistic) the emphasis is laid on the object and its looks. Every art is a compromise between the abstract and naturalistic, but what we see in Gandhara and other Indian art is continuos concept of Abstract(whether one finds a sacred tree or Buddha Figure) , no swing from one style to another as seen during 19th century when there were wild swings to European art. The Gandhara artforms are infact reproduction of early mathura artforms.


The Technology , Craftsman were already present , when the need for buddha arise and they had no problem in making the images.


So we cannot say that the Buddha got the Image due to Western Influence. The Gandhara art shows lot of Influence of Hellenistic artform, but the Image is originally Indian. Hinduism , Jainism and Buddhism embodied accomodation of non-believers into their fold as they are , without losing anything. Unlike in Europe when pre-christian gods were banished once christianity took hold, Indian faith accepted aboriginal Yaksha and Naga dieties and symbols and absorbed them. This process continued and Buddhist and Jain elements were absorbed into Hindu fold. So the Image and Deity worship are essentially Indian , though they were not part of Hindu, Jain or Buddhist Dharma initially.


The origin of Buddha Image by Ananda K Coomaraswamy

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.




By David Frawley.

One of the main ideas used to interpret - and generally devalue - the ancient history of India is the theory of the Aryan invasion. According to this account, India was invaded and conquered by nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes from Central Asia around 1500-1000BC, who overthrew an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Hindu culture. This so-called pre-Aryan civilization is said to be evidenced by the large urban ruins of what has been called the "Indus valley culture" (as most of its initial sites were on the Indus river). The war between the powers of light and darkness, a prevalent idea in ancient Aryan Vedic scriptures, was thus interpreted to refer to this war between light and dark- skinned peoples. The Aryan invasion theory thus turned the "Vedas", the original scriptures of ancient India and the Indo-Aryans, into little more than primitive poems of uncivilized plunderers.

This idea - totally foreign to the history of India, whether north or south - has become almost an unquestioned truth in the interpretation of ancient history Today, after nearly all the reasons for its supposed validity have been refuted, even major Western scholars are at last beginning to call it in question.

In this article we will summarize the main points that have arisen. This is a complex subject that I have dealt with in depth in my book "Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization", for those interested in further examination of the subject.

The Indus valley culture was pronounced pre-Aryans for several reasons that were largely part of the cultural milieu of nineteenth century European thinking As scholars following Max Mullar had decided that the Aryans came into India around 1500 BC, since the Indus valley culture was earlier than this, they concluded that it had to be pre-Aryan. Yet the rationale behind the late date for the Vedic culture given by Muller was totally speculative. Max Muller, like many of the Christian scholars of his era, believed in Biblical chronology. This placed the beginning of the world at 400 BC and the flood around 2500 BC. Assuming to those two dates, it became difficult to get the Aryans in India before 1500 BC.

Muller therefore assumed that the five layers of the four 'Vedas' & 'Upanishads' were each composed in 200 year periods before the Buddha at 500 BC. However, there are more changes of language in Vedic Sanskrit itself than there are in classical Sanskrit since Panini, also regarded as a figure of around 500 BC, or a period of 2500 years. Hence it is clear that each of these periods could have existed for any number of centuries and that the 200 year figure is totally arbitrary and is likely too short a figure.

It was assumed by these scholars - many of whom were also Christian missionaries unsympathetic to the 'Vedas' - that the Vedic culture was that of primitive nomads from Central Asia. Hence they could not have founded any urban culture like that of the Indus valley. The only basis for this was a rather questionable interpretation of the 'Rig Veda' that they made, ignoring the sophisticated nature of the culture presented within it.

Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that in the middle of the second millennium BC, a number of Indo-European invasions apparently occured in the Middle East, wherein Indo-European peoples - the Hittites, Mittani and Kassites - conquered and ruled Mesopotamia for some centuries. An Aryan invasion of India would have been another version of this same movement of Indo-European peoples. On top of this, excavators of the Indus valley culture, like Wheeler, thought they found evidence of destruction of the culture by an outside invasion confirming this.

The Vedic culture was thus said to be that of primitive nomads who came out of Central Asia with their horse-drawn chariots and iron weapons and overthrew the cities of the more advanced Indus valley culture, with their superior battle tactics. It was pointed out that no horses, chariots or iron was discovered in Indus valley sites.

This was how the Aryan invasion theory formed and has remained since then. Though little has been discovered that confirms this theory, there has been much hesitancy to question it, much less to give it up.

Further excavations discovered horses not only in Indus Valley sites but also in pre-Indus sites. The use of the horse has thus been proven for the whole range of ancient Indian history. Evidence of the wheel, and an Indus seal showing a spoked wheel as used in chariots, has also been found, suggesting the usage of chariots.

Moreover, the whole idea of nomads with chariots has been challenged. Chariots are not the vehicles of nomads. Their usage occured only in ancient urban cultures with much flat land, of which the river plain of north India was the most suitable. Chariots are totally unsuitable for crossing mountains and deserts, as the so-called Aryan invasion required.

That the Vedic culture used iron - & must hence date later than the introduction of iron around 1500 BC - revolves around the meaning of the Vedic term "ayas", interpreted as iron. 'Ayas' in other Indo - European languages like Latin or German usually means copper, bronze or ore generally, not specially iron. There is no reason to insist that in such earlier Vedic times, 'ayas' meant iron, particularly since other metals are not mentioned in the 'Rig Veda' (except gold that is much more commonly referred to than ayas). Moreover, the 'Atharva Veda' and 'Yajur Veda' speak of different colors of 'ayas'(such as red & black), showing that it was a generic term. Hence
it is clear that 'ayas' generally meant metal and not specifically iron.

Moreover, the enemies of the Vedic people in the 'Rig Veda' also use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people themselves. Hence there is nothing in Vedic literture to show that either the Vedic culture was an iron- based culture or that there enemies were not.

The 'Rig Veda' describes its Gods as 'destroyers of cities'. This was used also to regard the Vedic as a primitive non-urban culture that destroys cities and urban civilization. However, there are also many verses in the 'Rig Veda' that speak of the Aryans as having having cities of their own and being protected by cities upto a hundred in number. Aryan Gods like Indra, Agni, Saraswati and the Adityas are praised as being like a city. Many ancient kings, including those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, had titles like destroyer or conquerer of cities. This does not turn them into nomads. Destruction of cities also happens in modern wars; this does not make those who do this
nomads. Hence the idea of Vedic culture as destroying but not building the cities is based upon ignoring what the Vedas actually say about their own cities.

Further excavation revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not destroyed by outside invasion, but according to internal causes and, most likely, floods. Most recently a new set of cities has been found in India (like the Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka sites by S.R. Rao and the National Institute of Oceanography in India) which are intermidiate between those of the Indus culture and later ancient India as visited by the Greeks. This may eliminate the so-called dark age following the presumed Aryan invasion and shows a continuous urban occupation in India back to the beginning of the Indus culture.

The interpretation of the religion of the Indus Valley culture -made incidentlly by scholars such as Wheeler who were not religious scholars much less students of Hinduism - was that its religion was different than the Vedic and more likely the later Shaivite religion. However, further excavations - both in Indus Valley site in Gujarat, like Lothal, and those in Rajsthan, like Kalibangan - show large number of fire altars like those used in the Vedic religion, along with bones of oxen, potsherds, shell jewelry and other items used in the rituals described in the 'Vedic Brahmanas'. Hence the Indus Valley culture evidences many Vedic practices that can not be merely coincidental. That some of its practices appeared non-Vedic to its excavators may also be attributed to their misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of Vedic and Hindu culture generally, wherein Vedism and Shaivism are the same basic tradition.

We must remember that ruins do not necessarily have one interpretation. Nor does the ability to discover ruins necessarily gives the ability to interpret them correctly.

The Vedic people were thought to have been a fair-skinned race like the Europeans owing to the Vedic idea of a war between light and darkness, and the Vedic people being presented as children of light or children of the sun. Yet this idea of a war between light and darkness exists in most ancient cultures, including the Persian and the Egyptian. Why don't we interpret their scriptures as a war between light and dark-skinned people? It is purely a poetic metaphor, not a
cultural statement. Moreover, no real traces of such a race are found in India.

The Vedic people were thought to have been a fair-skinned race like the Europeans owing to the Vedic idea of a war between light and darkness, and the Vedic people being presented as children of light or children of the sun. Yet this idea of a war between light and darkness exists in most ancient cultures, including the Persian and the Egyptian. Why don't we interpret their scriptures as a war between light and dark-skinned people? It is purely a poetic metaphor, not a
cultural statement. Moreover, no real traces of such a race are found in India.

Anthropologists have observed that the present population of Gujarat is composed of more or less the same ethnic groups as are noticed at Lothal in 2000 BC. Similarly, the present population of the Punjab is said to be ethnically the same as the population of Harappa and Rupar 4000 years ago. Linguistically the present day population of Gujrat and Punjab belongs to the Indo-Aryan language speaking group. The only inference that can be drawn from the anthropological and linguistic evidences adduced above is that the Harappan population in the Indus Valley and Gujrat in 2000 BC was composed of two or more groups, the more dominent among them having very close ethnic affinities with the present day Indo-Aryan speaking population of India.

In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans.

There are many points in fact that prove the Vedic nature of the Indus Valley culture. Further excavation has shown that the great majority of the sites of the Indus Valley culture were east, not west of Indus. In fact, the largest concentration of sites appears in an area of Punjab and Rajsthan near the dry banks of ancient Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Vedic culture was said to have been founded by the sage Manu between the banks of Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Saraswati is lauded as the main river (naditama) in the 'Rig Veda' & is the most frequently mentioned in the text. It is said to be a great flood and to be wide, even endless in size. Saraswati is said to be "pure in course from the mountains to the sea". Hence the Vedic people were well acquainted with this river and regarded it as their immemorial homeland.

The Saraswati, as modern land studies now reveal, was indeed one of the largest, if not the largest river in India. In early ancient and pre-historic times, it once drained the Sutlej, Yamuna and the Ganges, whose courses were much different than they are today. However, the Saraswati river went dry at the end of the Indus Valley culture and before the so-called Aryan invasion or before 1500 BC. In fact this may have caused the ending of the Indus culture. How could the Vedic Aryans know of this river and establish their culture on its banks if it dried up before they arrived? Indeed the Saraswati as described in the 'Rig Veda' appears to more accurately show it as it was prior to the Indus Valley culture as in the Indus era it was already in decline.

Vedic and late Vedic texts also contain interesting astronomical lore. The Vedic calender was based upon astronomical sightings of the equinoxes and solstices. Such texts as 'Vedanga Jyotish' speak of a time when the vernal equinox was in the middle of the Nakshtra Aslesha (or about 23 degrees 20 minutes Cancer). This gives a date of 1300 BC. The 'Yajur Veda' and 'Atharva Veda' speak of the vernal equinox in the Krittikas (Pleiades; early Taurus) and the summer solstice (ayana) in Magha (early Leo). This gives a date about 2400 BC. Yet earlier eras
are mentioned but these two have numerous references to substantiate them. They prove that the Vedic culture existed at these periods and already had a sophisticated system of astronomy. Such references were merely ignored or pronounced unintelligible by Western scholars because they yielded too early a date for the 'Vedas' than what they presumed, not because such references did not exist.

Vedic texts like 'Shatapatha Brahmana' and 'Aitereya Brahmana' that mention these astronomical references list a group of 11 Vedic Kings, including a number of figures of the 'Rig Veda', said to have conquered the region of India from 'sea to sea'. Lands of the Aryans are mentioned in them from Gandhara (Afganistan) in the west to Videha (Nepal) in the east, and south to Vidarbha (Maharashtra). Hence the Vedic people were in these regions by the Krittika equinox or before 2400 BC. These passages were also ignored by Western scholars and it was said by them that the 'Vedas' had no evidence of large empires in India in Vedic times. Hence a pattern of ignoring literary evidence or misinterpreting them to suit the Aryan invasion idea became prevalent, even to the point of changing the meaning of Vedic words to suit this theory.

According to this theory, the Vedic people were nomads in the Punjab, comming down from Central Asia. However, the 'Rig Veda' itself has nearly 100 references to ocean (samudra), as well as dozens of references to ships, and to rivers flowing in to the sea. Vedic ancestors like Manu, Turvasha, Yadu and Bhujyu are flood figures, saved from across the sea. The Vedic God of the sea, Varuna, is the father of many Vedic seers and seer families like Vasishta, Agastya and the Bhrigu seers. To preserve the Aryan invasion idea it was assumed that the Vedic (and later sanskrit) term for ocean, samudra, originally did not mean the ocean but any large body of water, especially the Indus river in Punjab. Here the clear meaning of a term in 'Rig Veda' and later times - verified by rivers like Saraswati mentioned by name as flowing into the sea - was altered to make the Aryan invasion theory fit. Yet if we look at the index to translation of the 'Rig Veda' by Griffith for example, who held to this idea that samudra didn't really mean the ocean, we find over 70 references to ocean or sea. If samudra does not mean ocean why was it traslated as such? It is therefore without basis to locate Vedic kings in Central Asia far from any ocean or from the massive Saraswati river, which form the background of their land and the symbolism of their hymns.

One of the latest archeological ideas is that the Vedic culture is evidenced by Painted Grey Ware pottery in north India, which apears to date around 1000 BC and comes from the same region between the Ganges and Yamuna as later Vedic culture is related to. It is thought to be an inferior grade of pottery and to be associated with the use of iron that the 'Vedas' are thought to mention. However it is associated with a pig and rice culture, not the cow and barley culture of the 'Vedas'. Moreover it is now found to be an organic development of indegenous pottery, not an introduction of invaders.

Painted Grey Ware culture represents an indigenous cultural development and does not reflect any cultural intrusion from the West i.e. an Indo-Aryan invasion. Therefore, there is no archeological evidence corroborating the fact of an Indo-Aryan invasion.

In addition, the Aryans in the Middle East, most notably the Hittites, have now been found to have been in that region atleast as early as 2200 BC, wherein they are already mentioned. Hence the idea of an Aryan invasion into the Middle East has been pushed back some centuries, though the evidence so far is that the people of the moun- tain regions of the Middle East were Indo-Europeans as far as recorded history can prove.

The Aryan Kassites of the ancient Middle East worshipped Vedic Gods like Surya and the Maruts, as well as one named Himalaya. The Aryan Hittites and Mittani signed a treaty with the name of the Vedic Gods Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatyas around 1400 BC. The Hittites have a treatise on chariot racing written in almost pure Sanskrit. The Indo - Europeans of the ancient Middle East thus spoke Indo-Aryan, not Indo-Iranian languages and thereby show a Vedic culture in that region of the world as well.

The Indus Valley culture had a form of writing, as evidenced by numerous seals found in the ruins. It was also assumed to be non-Vedic and probably Dravidian, though this was never proved. Now it has been shown that the majority of the late Indus signs are identical with those of later Hindu Brahmi and that there is an organic development between the two scripts. Prevalent models now suggest an Indo-European base for that language.

It was also assumed that the Indus Valley culture derived its civilization from the Middle East, probably Sumeria, as antecedents for it were not found in India. Recent French excavations at Mehrgarh have shown that all the antecedents of the Indus Valley culture can be found within the subcontinent and going back before 6000 BC.

In short, some Western scholars are beginning to reject the Aryan invasion or any outside origin for Hindu civilization.

Current archeological data do not support the existence of an Indo- Aryan or European invasion into South Asia at any time in the pre- or protohistoric periods. Instead, it is possible to document archeologically a series of cultural changes reflecting indigenous cultural development from prehistoric to historic periods. The early Vedic literature describes not a human invasion into the area, but a fundamental restructuring of indigenous society. The Indo-Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data.

In other words, Vedic literature was interpreted on the assumption that there was an Aryan invasion. Then archeological evidence was interpreted by the same assumption. And both interpretations were then used to justify each other. It is nothing but a tautology, an exercise in circular thinking that only proves that if assuming something is true, it is found to be true!

Another modern Western scholar, Colin Renfrew, places the Indo- Europeans in Greece as early as 6000 BC. He also suggests such a possible early date for their entry into India.

As far as I can see there is nothing in the Hymns of the 'Rig Veda' which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking population was intrusive to the area: this comes rather from a historical assumption of the 'comming of the Indo-Europeans.

When Wheeler speaks of 'the Aryan invasion of the land of the 7 rivers, the Punjab', he has no warrenty at all, so far as I can see. If one checks the dozen references in the 'Rig Veda' to the 7 rivers, there is nothing in them that to me implies invasion: the land of the 7 rivers is the land of the 'Rig Veda', the scene of action. Nor is it implied that the inhabitants of the walled cities (including the Dasyus) were any more aboriginal than the Aryans themselves.

Despite Wheeler's comments, it is difficult to see what is particularly non-Aryan about the Indus Valley civilization. Hence Renfrew suggests that the Indus Valley civilization was in fact Indo-Aryan even prior to the Indus Valley era:

This hypothesis that early Indo-European languages were spoken in North India with Pakistan and on the Iranian plateau at the 6th millennium BC has the merit of harmonizing symmetrically with the theory for the origin of the Indo- European languages in Europe. It also emphasizes the continuity in the Indus Valley and adjacent areas from the early neolithic through to the floruit of the Indus Valley civilization.

This is not to say that such scholars appreciate or understand the 'Vedas' - their work leaves much to be desired in this respect - but that it is clear that the whole edifice built around the Aryan invasion is beginning to tumble on all sides. In addition, it does not mean that the 'Rig Veda' dates from the Indus Valley era. The Indus Valley culture resembles that of the 'Yajur Veda' and the reflect the pre-Indus period in India, when the Saraswati river was more prominent.

The acceptance of such views would create a revolution in our view of history as shattering as that in science caused by Einstein's theory of relativity. It would make ancient India perhaps the oldest, largest and most central of ancient cultures. It would mean that the Vedic literary record - already the largest and oldest of the ancient world even at a 1500 BC date - would be the record of teachings some centuries or thousands of years before that. It would mean that the 'Vedas' are our most authentic record of the ancient world. It would also tend to validate the Vedic view that the Indo-Europeans and other Aryan peoples were migrants from India, not that the Indo-Aryans were invaders into India. Moreover, it would affirm the Hindu tradition that the Dravidians were early offshoots of the Vedic people through the seer Agastya, and not unaryan peoples.

In closing, it is important to examine the social and political implications of the Aryan invasion idea:

First, it served to divide India into a northern Aryan and southern Dravidian culture which were made hostile to each other. This kept the Hindus divided and is still a source of social tension.

Second, it gave the British an excuse in their conquest of India. They could claim to be doing only what the Aryan ancestors of the Hindus had previously done millennia ago.

Third, it served to make Vedic culture later than and possibly derived from Middle Eastern cultures. With the proximity and relationship of the latter with the Bible and Christianity, this kept the Hindu religion as a sidelight to the development of religion and civilization to the West.

Fourth, it allowed the sciences of India to be given a Greek basis, as any Vedic basis was largely disqualified by the primitive nature of the Vedic culture.

This discredited not only the 'Vedas' but the genealogies of the 'Puranas' and their long list of the kings before the Buddha or Krishna were left without any historical basis. The 'Mahabharata', instead of a civil war in which all the main kings of India participated as it is described, became a local skirmish among petty princes that was later exaggerated by poets. In short, it discredited the most of the Hindu tradition and almost all its ancient literature. It turned its scriptures and sages into fantacies and exaggerations.

This served a social, political and economical purpose of domination, proving the superiority of Western culture and religion. It made the Hindus feel that their culture was not the great thing that their sages and ancestors had said it was. It made Hindus feel ashamed of their culture - that its basis was neither historical nor scientific. It made them feel that the main line of civilization was developed first in the Middle East and then in Europe and that the culture of India was peripheral and secondary to the real development of world culture.

Such a view is not good scholarship or archeology but merely cultural imperialism. The Western Vedic scholars did in the intellectual spehere what the British army did in the political realm - discredit, divide and conquer the Hindus.

In short, the compelling reasons for the Aryan invasion theory were neither literary nor archeological but political and religious - that is to say, not scholarship but prejudice. Such prejudice may not have been intentional but deep-seated political and religious views easily cloud and blur our thinking.

It is unfortunate that this this approach has not been questioned more, particularly by Hindus. Even though Indian Vedic scholars like Dayananda saraswati, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Arobindo rejected it, most Hindus today passively accept it. They allow Western, generally Christian, scholars to interpret their history for them and quite naturally Hinduism is kept in a reduced role. Many Hindus still accept, read or even honor the translations of the 'Vedas' done by such Christian missionary scholars as Max Muller, Griffith, Monier- Williams and H. H. Wilson. Would modern Christians accept an interpretation of the Bible or Biblical history done by Hindus aimed
at converting them to Hinduism? Universities in India also use the Western history books and Western Vedic translations that propound such views that denigrate their own culture and country.

The modern Western academic world is sensitive to critisms of cultural and social biases. For scholars to take a stand against this biased interpretation of the 'Vedas' would indeed cause a reexamination of many of these historical ideas that can not stand objective scrutiny. But if Hindu scholars are silent or passively accept the misinterpretation of their own culture, it will undoubtly continue, but they will have no one to blame but themselves. It is not an issue to be taken lightly, because how a culture is defined historically creates the perspective from which it is viewed in the modern social and intellectual context.
Tolerance is not in allowing a false view of one's own culture and religion to be propagated without question. That is merely self-betrayal.