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In article <31udpu$lcl@ucunix.san.uc.edu>, Jaldhar Vyas <jvyas@ritz.mordor.com>
>The theory that there were seperate "Aryan" and "Dravidian" races has long
>been considered obsolete by most scholars.  Arya in Sanskrt means "noble"
>and is usually used as a title for members of the castes entitled to
>Vaidik study synonymous to "Mr." Dravid is simply a geographic term
>refering to the south of India.  Therefore it is quite possible to be a
>Dravid Arya.  (If you are a South Indian Brahman for instance.)

The following article from a renowned scholar would be quite informative and
relevant on this subject.

By: Dr David Frawley

The British ruled India, as they did other lands, by a divide-and-conquer
strategy. They promoted religious, ethnic and cultural divisions among their
colonies to keep them under control. Unfortunately some of these policies also
entered into the intellectual realm. The same simplistic and divisive ideas
that were used for interpreting the culture and history of India. Regrettably
many Hindus have come to believe these ideas, even though a deeper examination
reveals they may have no real objective or scientific basis.

   One of these ideas is that India is a land of two races - the lighter-
skinned Aryans and the darker-skinned Dravidians - and that the Dravidians
were the original inhabitants of India whom the invading Aryans conquered
and dominated. From this came the additional idea that much of what we call
Hindu culture was in fact Dravidian, and later borrowed by Aryans who, however,
never gave the Dravidians proper credit for it. This idea has been used to turn
the people of south India against the people of north India, as if the southern
ers were a different race.

Racial Theories
The Nineteenth century was the era of Europeans imperialism. Many Europeans
did in fact believe that they belonged to a superior race and that their
religion, Christianity, was a superior religion and all other religions were
barbaric, particularly a religion like Hinduism which uses many idols. The
Europeans felt that it was their duty to convert non-Christians, sometimes even
if it required intimidation, force or bribery.

    Europeans thinkers of the era were dominated by a racial theory of man,
which was interpreted primarily in terms of color. They saw themselves as
belonging to a superior 'white' or Caucasian race. They had enslaved the
Negroid or 'black' race. As Hindus were also dark or 'colored', they were
similarly deemed inferior. The British thus, not surprisingly, looked upon the
culture of India in a similar way as having been a land of a light-skinned or
Aryan race (the north Indians), ruling a dark or Dravidian race (the south

     About this time in history the similarities betweeen Indo-European
languages also became evident. Sanskrit and the languages of North India were
found to be relatives of the languages of Europe, while the Dravidian languages
of south India were found to be another language family. By the racial theory,
Europeans natuarally felt that the original speakers of any root Indo-European
language must have been 'white', as they were not prepared to recognize that
their languages could have been derived from the darker-skinned Hindus. As all
Hindus were dark compared to the Europeans, it was assumed that the original
white Indo-European invadors of India must have been assimilated by the dark
indigenous population, though they left their mark more on north India where
people have a lighter complexion.

   Though the Nazis later took this idea of a white Aryan superior race to its
extreme of brutality, they did not invent the idea, nor were they the only
ones to use it for purposes of exploitation. They took what was a common idea
of nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe, which many other Europeans
shared. They perverted this idea further, but the distortion of it was already
the basis of much exploitation and misunderstanding.

Racial Interpretation of Vedas
Europeans Vedic interpreters used this same racial idea to explain the Vedas.
The Vedas speak of a battle between light and darkness. This was turned into
a war between light skinned Aryans and dark skinned Dravidians. Such so-called
scholars did not bother to examine the fact that most religions and mythologies
including those of the ancient American Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Persians
have the idea of such a battle between light and darkness (which is the
symbolic conflict between truth and falsehood), but we do not interpret their
statements racially. In short, the Europeans projected racism into the history
of India, and accused the Hindus of the very racism that they themselves were
using to dominate the Hindus.

   European scholars also pointed out that caste in India was originally
defined by color. Brahmins were said to be white, Kshatriyas red, Vaishyas
yellow, and Shudras black. Hence the Brahmins were said to have been originally
the white Aryans and the Dravidians the dark Shudras. However, what these
colors refer to is the gunas or qualities of each class. White is the color of
purity (sattvaguna), dark that of impurity (tamoguna), red the color of action
(rajoguna), and yellow the color of trade (also rajoguna). To turn this into
races is simplistic and incorrect. Where is the red race and where is the
yellow race in India? And when have the Kshatriyas been a red race and the
Vaishyas as yellow race?

    The racial idea reached yet more ridiculous proportions. Vedic passages
speaking of their enemies (mainly demons) as without nose (a-nasa), were
interpreted as a racial slur against the snub-nosed Dravidians. Now Dravidians
are not snub-nosed or low nosed people, as anyone can see by examining their
facial features. And the Vedic demons are also described as footless (a-pada).
Where is such a footless and noseless race and what does this have to do with
the Dravidians? Moreover Vedic gods like Agni (fire) are described as footless
and headless. Where are such headless and footless Aryans? Yet such 'scholar-
ship' can be found in prominent Western books on the history of India, some
published in India and used in schools in India to the present day.

    This idea was taken further and Hindu gods like Krishna, whose name means
dark, or Shiva who is portrayed as dark, were said to have originally been
Dravidian gods taken over by the invading Aryans (under the simplistic idea
that Dravidians as dark-skinned people must have worshipped dark colored gods).
Yet Krishna and Shiva are not black but dark blue. Where is such a dark blue
race? Moreover the different Hindu gods, like the classes of Manu, have diffe-
rent colors relative to their qualities. Lakshmi is portrayed as pink, Saras-
wati as white, Kali as blue-black, or Yama, the God of death, as green. Where
have such races been in India or elsewhere?

   In a similar light, some scholars pointed out that Vedic gods like Savitar
have golden hair and golden skin, thus showing blond and fair-skinned people
living in ancient India. However, Savitar is a sun-god and sun-god are
usually gold in color, as has been the case of the ancient Egyptian, Mayan,
and Inca and other sun-gods. Who has a black or blue sun-god? This is from the
simple fact that the sun has a golden color. What does this have to do with
race? And why should it be racial statement in the Vedas but not elsewhere?

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
of India.

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.

Aryan and Dravidian Languages
The Indo-European languages and the Dravidian do have important differences.
Their ways of developing words and grammer are different. However, it is a
misnomer to call all Indo-European languages Aryan. The Sanskrit term Aryan
would not apply to European languages, which are materialistic in orientation,
bacause Aryan in Sanskrit means spiritual. When the term Aryan is used as
indicating certain languages, the term is being used in a Western or European
sense that we should remember is quite apart from its traditional Sanskrit
meaning, and implies a racial bias that the Sanskrit term does not have.

   We can speak of Indo-European and Dravidian languages, but this does not
necessarily mean that Aryan and Dravidian must differ in culture, race or
religion. The Hungarians and Finns of Europe are of a different language
group than the other Europeans, but we do not speak of them as of a Finnish
race, or the Finns as being non-Europeans, nor do we consider that their
religious beliefs must therefore be unrelated to those of the rest of Europe.

   Even though Dravidian languages are based on a different model than Sanskrit
there are thirty to seventy per cent Sanskrit words in south Indian languages
like Telugu and Tamil, which is much higher percentage than north Indian
languages like Hindi. In addition both north and south Indian languages have
a similar construction and phraseology that links them close together, which
European languages often do not share. This has caused some linguists even to
propose that Hindi was a Dravidian language. In short, the language compart-
ments, like the racial ones, are not as rigid as has been thought.

   In fact if we examine the oldest Vedic Sanskrit, we find similar sounds to
Dravidian languages (the cerebral letters, for example), which are not present
in other Indo-European tongues. This shows either that there were already
Drvidians in the same region as the Vedic people, and part of the same culture
with them, or that Dravidian languages could also have been early off-shoots
of Sanskrit, which was the theory of the modern rishi, Sri Aurobindo. In
addition the traditional inventor of the Dravidian languages was said to have
been none other than Agastya, one of the most important rishis of the Rig
Veda, the oldest Sanskrit text.

Dravidians in Vedic/Puranic Lore
Some Vedic texts, like the Aitareya Brahmana or Manu Samhita, have looked at
the Dravidians as people outside of the Vedic culture. However, they do not
look at them as indigenous or different people but as fallen descendants of
Vedic kings, notably Vishwamitra. These same texts look upon some people of
north India, including some groups from Bengal, as also outside of Vedic
culture, even though such people were Indo-European in language.

   Other texts like the Ramayana portray the Dravidians, the inhabitants of
Kishkindha (modern Karnataka), as allies of Aryan kings like Rama. The Vedic
rishi Agastya is also often portrayed as one of the progenitors of the Dravid-
ian peoples. Hence there appears to have been periods in history when the
Dravidians or some portion of them were not looked on with favour by some
followers of Vedic culture, but this was largely temporary.

   If we look through the history of India, there has been some time when
almost every part of India has been dominated for a period by unorthodox
traditions like Buddhist, Jain or Persian (Zoroastrian), not to mention outside
religions like Islam or Christianity, or dominated by other foreign conquerors,
like the Greeks, the Scythians (Shakas) or the Huns. That Gujarat was a once
suspect land to Vedic people when it was under Jain domination does not cause
us to turn the Gujaratis into another race or religion. That something similar
happened to the Dravidians at some point in history does not require making
something permanently non-Aryan about them. In the history of Europe for
example, that Austria once went through a protestant phase, does not cause
modern Austrians to consider that they cannot be Catholics.

   The kings of south India, like the Chola and Pandya dynsties, relate their
lineages back to Manu. The Matsya Purana moreover makes Manu, the progenitor
of all the Aryas, originally a south Indian king, Satyavrata. Hence there are
not only traditions that make the Dravidians descendants of Vedic rishis and
kings, but those that make the Aryans of north India descendants of Dravidian
kings. The two cultures are so intimately related that it is difficult to say
which came first. Any differences between them appear to be secondary, and
nothing like the great racial divide that the Aryan-Dravidian idea has

Dravidians as Preservers of Vedic Culture
Through the long and cruel Islamic assault on India, south India became the
land of refuge for Vedic culture, and to a great extent remains so to the
present day. The best Vedic chanting, rituals and other traditions are preser-
ved in south India. It is ironic therefore that the best preservers of Aryan
culture in India have been branded as non-Aryan. This again was not something
part of the Aryan tradition of India, as part of the misinterpretation of the
term Aryan fostered by European thought which often had a political or religi-
ous bias, and which led to the Nazis. To equate such racism and violence with
the Vedic and Hindu religion, the least aggressive of all religions, is a
rather sad thing, not to say very questionable scholarship.

   Dravidians do not have to feel that Vedic culture is any more foreign to
them than it is to the people of north India. They need not feel that they are
racially different than the people of the north. They need not feel that they
are losing their culture by using Sanskrit. Nor need they feel that they have
to assert themselves against north India or Vedic culture to protect their
real heritage.

    Vedic and Hindu culture has never suppressed indigenous cultures or been
opposed to cultral variations, as have the monolithic conversion religions
of Christianity and Islam. The Vedic rishis and yogis encouraged the develop-
ment of local traditions. They established sacred places in all the regions
in which their culture spread. They did not make everyone have to visit a
single holy place like Meca, Rome or Jerusalem. Nor did they find local or
tribal deities as something to be eliminated as heathen or pagan. They
respected the common human aspiration for the Divine that we find in all
cultures and encouraged diversity and uniqueness in our approach to it.

    Meanwhile the people of north India also need not take this north-south
division as something fundamental. It is not a racial difference that makes
the skin of south Indians darker but merely the effect of climate. Any
Caucasian race group living in the tropics for some centuries or millennia
would eventually turn dark. And whatever color a person's skin may be has
nothing to do with their true nature according to the Vedas that see the same
Self or Atman in all.

    It is also not necessary to turn various Vedic gods into Dravidian gods
to give the Dravidians equality with the so-called Aryans in terms of the
numbers or antiquity of their gods. This only gives credence to what is
superficial distinction in the first place. What is necessary is to assert
what is truly Aryan in the culture of India, north or south, which is high or
spiritual values in character and action. These occur not only in the Vedas
but also the Agamas and other scriptures within the greater tradition.

   The Aryans and Dravidians are part of the same culture and we need not
speak of them as separate. Dividing them and placing them at odds with each
other serves the interests of neither but only serves to damage their common
culture (which is what most of those who propound these ideas are often seek-
ing). Perhaps the saddest thing is that modern Indian politicians have also
used this division to promote their own ambitions, though it is harmful to
the unity of the country.

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