[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[Prev][Next][Index][Thread]

Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History (Part 1)




               ------------------------------------------
               Antiquity and Continuity of Indian History
                (From Swayambhuva Manu to Gupta Dynasty)
               ------------------------------------------

                                  by

                            Prasad Gokhale 
                  Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada


Abstract
--------

The Vedic culture has been pervading the Indian subcontinent for a
few thousand years from today. The antiquity and continuity of this
culture has been faithfully recorded in the oldest and grandest
annals of mankind: the Rgved. Evidence has come forth entirely
contradicting the present held "aryan invasion" of India.
Archaeological excavations and other findings confirm the
coninuation of the Indus Valley civilization as a Vedic age. The
Mahabharat and Ramayanic civilizations flourished in the ancient
past. The history of India entered the medieval ages almost 5000
years ago, and even before the advent of Christ, the quintessence
of philosophy thought and civilizational aspects of India had
already been accomplished. Evidence testifies that Buddha and Aadi
Shankara lived 1800 B.C. and 500 B.C respectively. The "golden age"
in India was ushered with the rise of the Gupta dynasty. It was
Chandragupta of the Guptas who reigned over the Indian empire
around 325 B.C., a time when Macedonian Alexander had invaded
India.

In this article, it is attempted to derive the datelines of ancient
Indian alias Vedic events and heroes, starting from Swayambhuva
Manu to the kings of the Gupta dynasty. An outline of the antiquity
and continuity of Vedic history is estimated, substantiating the
events with a variety of evidence, including literary and
archaeological.


1. Introduction
---------------

The study of history forms an important part in providing an
understanding and in giving a clearer perspective of the present
mental setup and cultural state of a nation of peoples. The
antiquity of a culture's history and the achievements of its
peoples provide the nation with an identity and a sense of self-
esteem. The study of history tells us the story of how a particular
society behaved and reacted in the wake of varying and trying
circumstances. And history without chronology is like a person
without a backbone. Without this backbone, the person feels
helpless and hopeless. This construction and arrangement of
historical facts and figures is therefore necessary to effectively
hold together and guide forward a particular society.

The chronological establishment of Indian history has been a matter
of academic contention for the past two centuries. The most
difficult part of this study, until now, was to construct an
agreeable framework of chronology. It is to the credit of Sir
William Jones that a systematic study and examination of this
problem was first initiated in the late 18th century. Western
scholars have done commendable and untiring work in the field of
oriental studies. The researches well-recorded by them are of
utmost importance even today. 

However, within decades, the political situation in India changed
and this sincere study of history then became, in a way, a weapon
to subjugate and win the people of India. The effects of European
religio-political thought also creeped into this investigation.
Inspite of the honest and genuine commencement of its study, it is
quite unfortunate that the western indologists misinterpreted the
historical data available, intentionally or by accident, and
putforth theories based merely on speculation and pre-conceived
beliefs. The result was that the antiquity of many events were
highly underestimated and its continuity and greatness undermined.
Nevertheless, it is quite futile to harp over the numerous
shortcomings of early historical research, the mistakes of an era
bygone.

Modern researches, methods and evidence that have become newly
available however has provided numerous definite and conclusive
statements that has compelled historians, archaeologists and
academicians to ponder judiciously over the antiquity, continuity
and spread of Indian history and culture. In this article, an 
attempt is made to present briefly a chronology of events based on
newly available archaeological data. Compelling observations from
variety of sources and opinions of different scholars have been
used in the course of the attempted construction. The listing and
review of evidences presented here are by no means exhaustive and
the problem of this historical compilation is definitely more
complicated that it might appear. However, the dating of some
important events and personalities is presented here and it is
hoped that the readership gets a clearer and beneficial perspective
on the matter.


2. Background
-------------

The currently established chronology of India initiates with the
invasion of the so-called aryan race in 1500 B.C., which ruthlessly
and forcefully subdued the original inhabitants of the land,
imposing upon them a alien language and culture. The invading
hordes settled down on the banks of river Sindhu (Indus), and
within few centuries (1200 B.C.), complied the Veda. Subsequently,
the Brahmanas, Samhitas, Puranas and numerous other scriptures were
composed. Where does the Ramayan and Mahabharat fit in? Some say
that the Ramayan follows Mahabharat and some opine otherwise. In
all this anarchy of Indian histography, the probable date of
Mahabharat ranges between 1000 B.C.to 300 B.C. 

The identification of Sandrocottus (325 B.C.) of the Greeks with
Chandragupta Maurya by Sir Jones was considered to the "sheet
anchor" and based on this assumption, a chronology of Indian
history was constructed. The date when Gautam Buddha prospered was
calculated from this sheet-anchor to be around 500 B.C., and the
dateline of Aadi Shankara was put in 800 A.D. The Gupta Dynasty,
whose reign ushered a Golden Age in India, were placed in the 4th
century A.D.

Examination of the Rgved, Puraan and other texts provide dates of
events that took Indian history, at times, back to thousands of
years. However, since these dates contradicted the prevalent views
of Europeans historians, the saunskrut texts were academically
attacked in an attempt to disprove the authenticity of the annals.
For example, the European Indologist  Maxmuller, tried the
interpret the astronomical evidences to prove that the observations
recorded in the Hindu scriptures are imaginary, "pious frauds"
created by the cunning Brahmanas. Numerous references which were
anachronous to the particular time-frames were either considered as
unauthentic and unreliable. No attempt was made to recheck and
reevaluate the presumptions and basis on which the chronological
structure was built.  

It is now seen that the history of India and its sub-continent can
be continuously traced back to a few thousand years, as will be
noticed in the paragraphs to follow. This article examines the
evidence leading to the dating to many events that occurred at
different times: right from the Rgvedic age to the pre-christian
golden-age of the Hindus, a period when the Gupta dynasty ruled
over India. One of the main events, which apparently is the genesis
of Indian history, that is, the invasion of the aryans from outside
is described briefly in the following section.


3. The Myth of the Aryan Invasion
---------------------------------

The theory of the aryan invasion of India has been a matter of
debate, and at times, incisive arguments have been presented for
and against it. According to this theory, the light-skinned aryan
people wandered into India in the 2nd millennium B.C. from Central
Asia. The barbaric aryan race then destroyed an already existing
and advanced Harappan civilization, conquered the race and laid the
foundations of a foreign imposition of language and culture on
India. This supposedly marked the beginning of the development of
a Vedic culture, or what is called Hinduism today.

The hypothesis of aryan invasion is apparently based on the
conflicts between light-skinned aryans and dark race of dasyus
described in the Vedic literature. This aspect is said to have been
strengthened by the skeletal findings in the excavated sites in the
Indus Valley. When the RgVed (2-20-10) refers to "Indra, the slayer
of Vritra, destroying the Krishna Yoni Dasyus", it is held as a
proof that the "invading aryans" exterminating the "dark
aboriginals". However, other references in the Rgved (10-1-11, 8-
85-3, 2-3-9) suggest that the Indians were a mixed race and also,
no stigma was attached to any non-white complexion. Therefore to
imagine the invading aryans to be a white race is suspicious.
According to Saayana, the word dasyu derives from the word "das",
i.e., "one who harms". The RgVed (6-22-10) prays to Indra to give
glory by which the dasyus can become arya's, that is, changing the
dasyus to ideal and cultured human beings.

Many a scholar and historian have acknowledged the discrepancies,
raised objections and rejected the theory of aryan invasion since
its inception in the early 19th century. According to historian
Wheeler (in his "Civilization of Indus Valley and Beyond"), "..the
[Aryan Invasion] cannot be proved and may be quite incorrect".
Also, Murrow in his book "The Sanskrit Language" comments, " For
the Indo-Aryan invasion of India no direct evidence is available
... In the text of the RgVed itself, although historical allusions
are not uncommon, there is no reference anywhere to the fact of the
migration, nor any definite indication that it was still
remembered." Indian Vedic scholars like Dayanand Saraswati, B.G.
Tilak and Sri Arvind had already rejected the aryan invasion theory
based mostly on literary analysis. In spite of having no evidence
to support this doctrine, it is amusing to know how academics held
on to this dogma. 

The unobservant reading of the RgVed and its subsequent
misinterpretation led to the doctrines of "class" and "colour"
struggles among the ancient Indians; an appropriate tool to justify
marxist ideals and european racial theories. This doctrine of aryan
invasion has been used as a perfect tool to divide the Hindu
society and the Indian state. The north-indian aryans were then pit
against the south-indian dravidians, high-castes against low-
castes, mainstream Hindus against the tribals, Vedic orthodoxy
against the "native" heterodox sects and later, to neutralize Hindu
criticism of forced Islamic occupation as "Hindus themselves have
entered the same way as Muslims have". Till today, the Marxist and
"secularist" forces continue to promote this theory and extract
propagandist capital out of it.

Recent advances in archaeological, linguistic and astronomical
research have also compelled the abandonment of the current view of
the aryan invasion and the falsely speculated antiquity of the
Vedic civilization. The excavated ruins of the submerged city of
Dwaraka by Dr. S.R.Rao and his team in 1985 (Marine Archaeological
Unit), along the coast of Gujarat, provides authenticity for the
existence of the Mahabharat civilization (3000 B.C.). Satellite
data combined with field archaeological studies have discovered
once disappeared river Saraswati, which appears extensively in the
Vedic literature. The study also showed that the river flow
discontinued much earlier than 3000 B.C. The decipherment of the
Indus script by S.R.Rao shows a amazing affinity with the Sanskrit
family and analysis of the seals have putforth numerous words and
names from the Sanskritic and Vedic age. It indeed becomes evident
that the harappan culture was a part and parcel and continuation of
an earlier Vedic age: an age that existed much prior to 3000 B.C.

As opposed to any racial connotation, the word "arya" is a
honorific title was used for people who were cultivated in mind and
character, a person whose way of life aims at elevating the
individual soul through a disciplined life to godhood. Sri Arvind
in his celebrated book "The Supramental Manifestation and Other
Writings" explains : "..the word Arya expressed a particular
ethical and social ideal, an ideal of well-governed life, candour,
courtesy, nobility, straight dealing, courage, gentleness, purity,
humanity, compassion, protection of the weak, liberality,
observance of social duty, eagerness of knowledge, respect for the
wise and learned, the social accomplishments. It was the combined
ideal of the Brahmana and the Kshatriya. Everything that departed
from this ideal, everything that tended towards the ignoble, mean,
obscure, rude, cruel or false, was termed un-aryan or anarya
(colloq. anari). There is no word in human speech that has a nobler
history.." Rama and Krishna have been addressed as arya, as are
many other people in the Rgvedic era, the antiquity of which is
considered in the next section.

[ Continued in Part 2 ]

--------------------------------------------------------------------



Advertise with us!
This site is part of Dharma Universe LLC websites.
Copyrighted 2009-2015, Dharma Universe.