Aryan-Dravidian Controversy, Part 2/3
...continued from the last post....
The Term Aryan
A number of European scholars of the 19th century, such as Max Muller, did
state that Aryan is not a racial term and there is no evidence that it ever
was so used in the Vedas, but their views on this were largely ignored. We
should clearly note that there is no place in Hindu literature wherein Aryan
has ever been equated with a race or with a particular set of physical charac-
teristics. The term Arya means "noble" or "spiritual", and has been so used by
Buddhists, Jains and Zoroastrians as well as Hindus. Religions that have called
themselves Aryan, like all of these, have had members of many different races.
Race was never a bar for anyone joining some form of the Arya Dharma or
teaching of noble people.
Aryan is a term similar in meaning to the Sanskrit word Sri, an epithet of
respect. We could equate it with the English word Sir. We cannot imagine that
a race of men named sir took over England in the Middle Ages and dominated a
different race because most of the people in power in the country were called
sir. Yet this is the kind of thinking that was superimposed upon the history
New Evidence on the Indus Culture
The Indus Civilization - the ancient urban culture of north India in the third
millenniem BC - has been interpreted as Dravidian or non-Aryan culture. Though
this has never been proved, it has been taken by many people to be a fact.
However, new archaelogiocal evidence shows that the so-called Indus culture was
a Vedic culture, centered not on the Indus but on the banks of the Saraswati
river of Vedic fame (the culture should be renamed not the Indus but the
"Saraswati Culture"), and that its language was also related to Sanskrit. The
ancient Saraswati dried up around 1900 BC. Hence the Vedic texts that speaks
so eloquently of this river must predate this period.
The racial types found in the Indus civilization are now found to have been
generally the same as those of north India today, and that there is no evidence
of any significant intrusive population into India in the Indus or post-Indus
This new information tends to either dismiss the Aryan invasion thoery or to
place it back at such an early point in history (before 3000 BC or even 6000
BC), that it has little bearing on what we know as the culture of India.
Aryan and Dravidian Races
The idea of Aryan and Dravidian races is the product of an unscientific,
culturally biased form of thinking that saw race in terms of color. There are
scientifically speaking, no such things as Aryan or Dravidian races. The three
primary races are Caucasian, the Mangolian and the Negroid. Both the Aryans and
Dravidians are related branches of the Caucasian race generally placed in the
same Mediterranean sub-branch. The difference between the so-called Aryans of
the north and Dravidians of the south is not a racial division. Biologically bo
th the north and south Indians are of the same Caucasian race, only when closer
to the equator the skin becomes darker, and under the influence of constant
heat the bodily frame tends to become a little smaller. While we can speak of
some racial differences between north and south Indian people, they are only
For example, if we take a typical person from Punjab, another from Maharash-
tra, and a third from Tamilnadu we will find that the Maharashtrians generally
fall in between the other two in terms of build and skin color. We see a
gradual shift of characteristics from north to south, but no real different
race. An Aryan and Dravidian race in India is no more real than a north and a
south European race. Those who use such terms are misusing language. We would
just as well place the blond Swede of Europe in a different race from the
darker haired and skinned person of southern Italy.
Nor is the Caucasian race the "white" race. Caucasians can be of any color
from pure white to almost pure black, with every shade of brown in between. The
predominent Caucasian type found in the world is not the blond-blue-eyes
northern European but the black hair, brown-eyed darker skinned Mediterranean
type that we find from southern Europe to north India. Similarly the Mongolian
race is not yellow. Many Chinese have skin whiter than many so-called Cauca-
sians. In fact of all the races, the Caucasian is the most variable in its
skin color. Yet many identification forms that people fill out today in the
world still define race in terms of color.
North and South Indian Religions
Scholars dominated by the Aryan Dravidian racial idea have tried to make some
Hindu gods Dravidian and other gods Aryan, even though there has been no
such division within Hindu culture. This is based upon a superficial identifi-
cation of deities with color i.e. Krishna as black and therefore Dravidian,
which we have already shown the incorrectness of. In the Mahabharat, Krishna
traces his lineage through the Vedic line of the Yadus, a famous Aryan people
of the north and west of India, and there are instances as far back as the
Rig Veda of seers whose names meant dark (like Krishna Angiras or Shyava
Others say that Shiva is a Dravidian god because Shaivism is more prominent
in south than in north India. However, the most sacred sites of Shiva are
Kailash in Tibet, Kashmir, and the city of Varanasi in the north. There never
was any limitation of the worship of Shiva to one part of India.
Shiva is also said not to be a Vedic god because he is not prominent in the
Rig Veda, the oldest Vedic text, where deities like Indra, Agni and Soma are
more prevalent than Rudra (the Vedic form of Shiva). However, Rudra-Shiva is
dominent in the Atharva and Yajur Vedas, as well as the Brahmanas, which are
also very old Vedic texts. And Vedic gods like Indra and Agni are often identi-
fied with Rudra and have many similar characteristics (Indra as the dancer, the
destroyer of the cities, and the Lord of power, for example). While some
differences in nomenclature do exist between Vedic and Shaivite or Vedic and
any other later teachings like the Vaishnava or Shakta - and we would expect
a religion to undergo some development through time - there is nothing to show
any division between Vedic and Shaivite traditions, and certainly nothing to
show that it is a racial division. Shiva in fact is the deity most associated
with Vedic ritual and fire offerings. He is adorned with the ashes, the bhasma,
of the Vedic fire.
Early investigators also thought they saw a Shaivite element in the so-call
ed Dravidian Indus Valey civilization, with the existence of Shivalinga like
sacred objects, and seals resembling Shiva. However, further examination has
also found large numbers of Vedic like fire-altars replete with all the tradi-
tional offers as found in the Hindu Brahmanas, thus again refuting such
simplistic divisions. The religion of the Indus (Saraswati) culture appears to
include many Vedic as well as Puranic elements.
Some hold that Shaivism is a south Indian religion and the Vedic religion
is north Indian. However, the greatest supporter of Vedanta, Shankaracharya,
was a Dravidian Shaivite from Kerala. Meanwhile many south Indian kings have
been Vaishnavites or worshippers of Vishnu (who is by the same confused logic
considered to be a north Indian god). In short there is no real division of
India into such rigid compartments as north and south Indian religions, though
naturally regional variations do exist.
....to be continued....
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