In our earlier book, we had taken up the subject of the Aryan invasion theory in all its aspects, and conclusively established that India was the original homeland of the Indo-European family of languages.
However, this second book has become imperative for various reasons:
1. The literary evidence for our conclusion in our earlier book was based primarily on Puranic sources. According to many critics, the Puranas, whose extant versions are very much posterior to the extant Rigveda, are not valid sources for evidence pertaining to the Vedic period: the Rigveda is the only valid source for the period.
The above criticism is not wholly invalid. The Rigveda is certainly the source of last resort: i.e. information in other texts (like the Puranas, or even the other Vedic texts) can be rejected if it distinctly contradicts information in the Rigveda. As we shall see, some of the data (such as the names, relations, and even the chronological order within the dynasty, of kings or groups of kings) assumed by us in our earlier book on the basis of the Puranas, or on the basis of second-hand information (culled, for example, from P.L. Bhargava’s book) undergoes a thorough revision in this book when we examine in detail the actual data within the Rigveda. The vast canvas covered by the Puranas is of course to be replaced by the smaller one covered by the Rigveda.
But, far from contradicting or disproving the theory put forward by us in our earlier book, this detailed analysis of the Rigveda emphatically confirms our theory.
In fact, while confirming our theory that India was the original homeland of the Indo-European family of languages, our analysis takes us even further ahead in respect of two basic points: the habitat of the Vedic Aryans, and their historical identity.
As per our theory, the Vedic Aryans had migrated from east to west. In our earlier book, we had assumed (based on second- hand information) that the Vedic Aryans, during the period of the Rigveda, were inhabitants of the Punjab area identified by scholars as the Saptasindhu. However, the actual data in the Rigveda shows that they were in fact inhabitants of the area to the east of the Punjab, traditionally known as Aryavarta. The Punjab was only the western peripheral area of their activity.
Again, as per our theory, the Vedic Aryans were the Porus of traditional history. While confirming this, the actual data in the Rigveda narrows down the identity of the particular Vedic Aryans of the Rigvedic period to a section from among the Porus-the Bharatas.
This book is, therefore, an answer to criticism: it shows that a detailed analysis of the Rigveda, far from weakening our theory, only makes it invincible.
2. The Rigveda is the oldest and most important source-material for Indian, Indo-Aryan, and even Indo-European history.
This source-material has, however, been totally and hopelessly misinterpreted by the scholars.
The Rigveda is not a text newly discovered lying on an uninhabited island. It is a text which has been part of a hoary and widespread living tradition thousands of years old. The entire text was kept alive over this long period, almost without a change of a tone or a syllable, in oral form recited and memorised from generation to generation. A text which has remained alive in this manner, as part of a living tradition, cannot be analysed without reference to what that tradition has to say about it.
However, modern scholars have chosen to interpret the Rigveda in its historical context solely on the basis of an extraneous linguistic theory, bolstered by stray words hunted out of the Rigveda and interpreted out of context, and totally without reference to certain indispensable and unassailable traditional information contained in certain basic texts.
Most fundamental among such texts are the Anukramanis or Indices, which provide us with details such as the names and family affiliations of the composers of the hymns. Other texts, such as the Puranas, provide us with general information about the different families of Rsis and the dynasties of kings who lived and ruled in ancient India.
This book is, therefore, an attempt to take Rigvedic study, in its historical context, back onto the tracks by basing its analysis on the basic materials: i.e. on the hymns and their authors.
3. The Rigveda is not only a historical source-material. It is also the oldest and hoariest religious text of the oldest living religion in the world today: Hinduism.
The politics surrounding the whole question of the Aryan invasion theory in India has been discussed in our earlier book (Voice of India edition).
This politics has been taken to the international level by vested political interests, with the backing of powerful international church lobbies, which are trying to get the United Nations to declare the tribal population of India (who, within India, are already labelled with a politically loaded word, adivasi) as the “Original Inhabitants of India” on par with the Native Americans, the Maoris and the Australian Aborigines in their respective countries.
This is on the basis of the Aryan invasion theory according to which “Aryans” invaded India in the early second millennium BC, and conquered it from the “natives”. This theory is based purely on an eighteenth century linguistic proposition, and has no basis either in archaeology, or in literature, or in the racial- ethnic composition of India.
What concerns us more, so far as this present volume is concerned, is the attempt to brand Hindu religious texts, on the basis of this theory, as “invader” texts: a UNESCO publication characterises the Rigveda as “the epic of the destruction of one of the great cultures of the ancient world.”
The purpose of this present volume is to present a detailed historical analysis of the Rigveda. But before turning to the Rigveda, it will be instructive to throw a glance at another religious text, the Bible - a text which very definitely and emphatically is the epic of the destruction of one of the great cultures of the ancient world.
The Bible, in its earlier parts, narrates the historical saga of the ancient Jews who marched from Egypt to Palestine, and, on the strength of “God” having “promised” them this land in a dream to an ancestor, completely destroyed the local civilizations, wiped out or enslaved the local populations, and established their own nation on the conquered land.
The Bible gives details of the specific instructions given by “God” to the Jews in respect of both lands “promised” to them as well as lands not “promised” to them. It also notes his warning that Jews failing to comply with his instructions would face the brunt of his divine wrath.
As detailed in this Epic of Destruction, the Jews conquered and destroyed Palestine. On the basis of this same Epic, or Manual, of Destruction, latter-day Christianity and Islam (whose “Gods” promised them not just Palestine but the whole world) conquered and destroyed ancient cultures all over the world.
A glance at some of the relevant quotations from this Epic of Destruction proves instructive:
“And the Lord said to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho: ‘Say to the people of Israel, when you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places; and you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it’ ... “ (Numbers 33.50-53).
‘‘‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as pricks in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them’ ... “(Numbers 34.55-56).
“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full ... “ (Deuteronomy 6.10-11).
“When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clear away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them, you shall make no covenant with them, and show no mercy to them.” (Deuteronomy 7.1-2)
“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if its answer to you is peace, and it opens to you then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labour for you and shall serve you. But if it makes no peace with you but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword, but the women and the little ones, the cattle and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes but shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as your Lord the God has commanded” (Deuteronomy 20.10-17)
“And the Lord our God gave him over to us, and we defeated him and his sons and all his people. And we captured all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed every city, men, women and children; we left none remaining; only the cattle we took as spoil for ourselves, with the booty of the cities which we captured” (Deuteronomy 2.33-35)
“And we took all his cities at that time - there was not a city which we did not take from them - sixty cities, the whole region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bachan. All these were cities fortified with high walls, gates and bars, besides very many unwalled villages. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon the king of Heshbon, destroying every city, men, women and children. But all the cattle and the spoil of the cities we took as our booty” (Deuteronomy 3.4-7).
The invasionist interpretation of the Rigveda is clearly an attempt to foist this ethos of the Bible onto the Rigveda.
This book is, therefore, an attempt to counter the false picture of the Rigveda which has been given currency all over the world.
All said and done, this book is an expedition into the mists of time. According to Swami Vivekananda: “It is out of the past that the future has to be moulded; it is the past that becomes the future. Therefore the more the Indians study their past, the more glorious will be their future, and whoever tries to bring the past to the door of everyone is a benefactor of the nation.”
This book is also a tribute to all those scholars who have served, and are still serving, as benefactors of the nation, foremost among them being the Voice of India family of scholars who will ever remain the intellectual focal point for exercises in rejuvenation of the innermost spirit of India.
Bibliography and Bibliographical
SECTION I: THE RIGVEDA
The Composers of the Rigveda
The Chronology of the Rigveda
The Geography of the Rigveda
The Historical Identity of the Vedic Aryans
SECTION 11: BEYOND THE RIGVEDA
The Indo-Iranian Homeland
The Indo-European Homeland
SECTION Ill: APPENDICES
Misinterpretations of Rigvedic History
Michael Witzel - An Examination of Western Vedic Scholarship
Sarama and the Panis - A Mythological Theme in the Rigveda
Prominent River-names in Rigveda
Prominent place-names in Rigveda
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