Book Review: Vedic Aryans and Origin of Civilization

>From: Mittal Sushil <mittals@ERE.UMontreal.CA>
>Subject: Review of ''Vedic "Aryans" and the Origins of Civilization''

Rajarama, N. S. and David Frawley. 1995. _Vedic "Aryans" and the Origins
   of Civilization: A Literary and Scientific Analysis_. Foreword by Dr.
   Klaus K. Klostermaier. St-Hyacinthe, Quebec: World Heritage Press.

   pp. US$19.95. ISBN 1-896064-00-0

The impact of colonization during the British domination of India was not
merely political and economic. It extended to the collective psychology of
the people and in the latter's perception of its own culture. This was
noticeable in the manner in which the educated Indian citizen came to view
his or her past. The myth that quickly gained credence in academic circles
arose from the Western Indologists' view that ancient Indian history was
initiated by an invasion of Aryans coming from somewhere in Central Asia.
Several generations of Indian scholars, honestly mistaken by the
assumption that the learned philologists trained in the scientific and
''objective'' methods of research in Western academe, conscientiously
taught and wrote the history of their country by taking the myth of the
Aryan invasion as a starting point.

   Of late, however, some Indian historians and Indologists have
deemed it necessary, under the imperative of truth-seeking, to reexamine
the premises (1) of the Western philologists' claim of the veracity of an
Aryan-invasion theory and (2) of its cultural consequences. Drs. N. S.
Rajaram and D. Frawley have, in this context, brought forth a cogent,
coherent argument that purports to lie to rest once and for all the
erroneous theory of the Aryan invasion of India around 2000 BCE. To
buttress their thesis the authors use the resources of their deep
knowledge of the Sanskrit language, their acquaintance with the most
recent archaeological discoveries, their expertise in mathematics and in
computer science. In short, they bring to a focus a remarkable synthesis
of several ''disciplines'' to unlock the arcane secrets of Sanskrit texts
that the early Indologists overlooked. The evidence thus brought forth
from several original sources provides sound reasons to refute the earlier
invasion theory. The dominant idea that gives the clue to their theme is
that while the Aryans have a literature, but no history or geography, the
Harappans have a sophisticated urban civilization, a history and
geography, but no language or literature. The paradox disappears when the
two are assimilated into a unitive history and geography. It becomes
logical then to argue for North India as the original home of the Aryans.
The authors further argue for a reversal of the movement of the Aryans:
they moved _out_ of India into the outlying areas, in ancient Persia and
beyond. This new theory receives support from archaeology and from a
comparative analysis of Mesopotamian and Egyptian mathematics with Vedic
mathematics. It is evident that the polyvalent learning of the authors
provides a vastly superior key to the secrets of the past than the mere
gratuitous speculation of earlier Indologists, of Friedrich Max Muller in
particular. In fact the authors do pay a worthy tribute to Max Muller for
his many attainments and for his contributions to the discovery of India
by Western scholars. At the same time, faithful to their own insights and
convictions, based on their own findings, they demonstrate how the
foundation of the invasion theory was more an expression of the prejudice
fed by racist theories that were spawned by Western academic anthropology
and supported by the triumphant colonial enterprises of West European

   The significance of this work consists in its being an important
confirmation of Indian history having at last decisively come into its
own, freed from the distortions of the arbitrary normative conclusions of
earlier Western historians. The authors pay tribute to other scholars--D.
Sethna, S. Talageri, S. B. Roy, K. C. Varma, and others--whose
contributions have altered the perception of ancient Indian history with
the evidence that it actually had an indigenous genesis. With a fair
measure of self-reliance and confidence, they even propound the thesis
that the early Vedic civilization was not merely a locally restricted way
of life, but actually spread out to other parts of West Asia and Africa. A
welcome aspect of this work is its refutation of certain Marxist Indian
historians who persist in their attachment to the superstitious theories
bequeathed by the Indologists of Max Muller's generation. The authors
rightly point out that ''not one significant contribution has been made by
Indian historians belonging to the elite 'establishment'.'' At the same
time they make it clear that they are not driven by the need to write an
apology of Indian chauvinistic nationalism. Theirs is a statement of
veracity based on hard evidence. At the same time the authors recognize
that their work is not the last say in the ongoing process of unveiling
the truth about ancient Indian history. They acknowledge that gaps still
remain in the task of reinterpreting Vedic history. Nevertheless, their
contribution provides substantial material that will enable the historians
of India to work towards the common goal of knowing what happened at the
beginning of the Vedic civilization and to collaborate with one another to
bring about a synthetic reconstruction of the historical integrity of the

    Vedic "Aryans" and the Origins of Civilization  stands out as a
major original and fresh statement of what India was. It is lucidly
written. The intricacies of the mathematical discussions and of Vedic
linguistics, are expressed with clarity in a language which will appeal to
both the scholar and the layperson. This is indeed a felicitous way of
writing about a difficult and abstruse subject. The book is commendable
for its style, the seriousness of its purpose, and for the originality of
the thesis that claims to establish that the moral and intellectual order
that marked the early Vedic culture arose in that part of India irrigated
by the Sarasvati River, a region that then stood as a greenhouse in which
were grown the saplings that were subsequently transplanted and grew into
the trees of civilizations in the surrounding lands.

   The reader must rush to read this very well written book on a
subject that will fascinate even those unacquainted with the history of

                       Dr. K. D. Prithipaul
               Emeritus Professor of Religion at
                      University of Alberta, Edmonton


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