About: Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT)

About: Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT)

  • AIT was first propounded by Max Muller.
  • According to this model, the Indo-Aryans migrated into India rather than invaded it, which nevertheless had the same effect on the indigenous peoples: their subjugation and the imposition of Indo-Aryan religion (Hinduism) and culture.
  • So far, it’s been the bedrock upon which Indian history has been written. Its central thesis has three main components:
  • India’s original inhabitants were “dark-skinned” Dravidians, who built a peaceful, highly developed, urban civilization in western India and present-day Pakistan, referred to as the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization (IVC).
  • India was invaded and conquered from the West by a nomadic people called the Indo-Aryans around 1500 BCE. Various different homelands were suggested for these ‘Aryans’ / Indo-Europeans: central Asia, Scandinavia, North Germany, Hungary and Ukraine. They destroyed the indigenous Dravidian civilization, subjugated the natives, and forced them to migrate to India’s South.
  • The Indo-Aryans were white-skinned and spoke Vedic Sanskrit, and composed the Vedas, and imposed Indo-Aryan religion (Hinduism) and culture.

AIT has been countered in various ways:

  • The opposing view is that the Indo-Aryan people and their languages originated in the Indian subcontinent and that the Indus valley civilization (Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization) was the Vedic civilization, not a Dravidian civilization as claimed in the AIT.
  • The renowned archaeologist Professor B. B. Lal asserts that there is no evidence for warfare or invasion, and that the theory of Aryan migration too is a myth. The Harappan civilization along the now-defunct Sarasvati river gradually deurbanized due to declining monsoons, rather than collapsed abruptly.
  • Critics of AIT note that Sarasvati river is extensively mentioned in the Rig Veda, and is referred to as “greatest of rivers”. This falsifies the AIT account that the Rig Veda was composed after a purported Aryan invasion/migration circa 1,500 BCE, and indicates that it was composed closer to 5,000 BCE when the river was last in its prime.
  • Professor Lal gives extensive archaeological evidence that many of the traditions and customs prevalent in the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization continue to exist in modern India, like Yoga, use of sindur, namaste greeting etc. and thus it refutes the AIT theory that the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization was destroyed and supplanted with a “foreign” Hindu culture and civilization.
  • Some genetic studies have demonstrated the absence of any significant outside genetic influence in India for the past 10,000 – 15,000 years.


News Summary:

  • Two DNA studies on ancient remains were released.
  • Study 1: One of the studies examined DNA samples extracted from 4,500-year-old skeletal remains of a woman found in Rakhigarhi, the IVC site in Haryana. The study conclusively points to the following facts:
    • There is no evidence of large-scale migration of any kind in the Harappan civilisation to corroborate the Aryan invasion.
    • The study also says the people of Harappan civilisation are the ancestors of the most of the population of South Asia.
    • Most importantly, Harappan people are the same as Vedic people. The researchers said there was archaeological and genetic data to buttress their claims, including the one about Vedic culture being developed by the indigenous people.
  • Study 2: The other study, the largest ever study of ancient human DNA, analyses the genomes of 523 ancient individuals spanning the last 8,000 years, mostly from central Asia and northernmost South Asia.
    • The study showed that there was no central Asian Steppe ancestry among the Harappans, indicating that the Steppe pastoralists migrated to India after the decline of the Harappan civilisation.
    • The indigenous people migrated from the north to south India between 1800 BC and 1600 BC, likely following the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation. This was nearly 100 years before Arabians and central Asian Steppe population arrived in India.
    • The study suggests that farming was indigenous to India contradicting an earlier belief that it was brought to the region through migrations from Iran.
    • As the Harappans traded with Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and almost all across South Asia, there was bound to be movement of people resulting in a mixed genetic history.
    • India had a heterogeneous population right from the beginning of settled life.
Section : History & Culture