Why do Indians care about OIT/AIT

From my blog:

Razib: I follow your super feed and read your postings here and on Brown Pundits. The subject of the ancestry of South Asians comes up frequently. It seems to have a political valence that I, as an outsider, do not understand.

Can you explain it? or point us to an explanation?

My response is “British colonialism and modern-day culture wars.” I could say more, but honestly, I don’t care that much. The science is more interesting to me, and it’s a lot to keep track of. Can readers comment?

(Related: there are some Pakistanis who try and pretend as if they are descended from Persians, Turks, or even Arabs. The explanation is pretty straightforwardly summarized as “self-hatred”, though we could all elaborate on that).

101 thoughts on “Why do Indians care about OIT/AIT”

  1. It is, as you said, the Brits fucking with our minds. To give the ole chappies some credit, they recreated our history (and those of many other cultures from Mesopotamia to SE Asia) from the forgotten ruins of the past. Left us with an identity and an identity crisis. It is incredibly difficult for some us to stomach this. And we tie ourselves in all sorts of contorted knots to reverse-engineer everything … until hard evidence smacks us right in the face.

    Re Pakistanis, well, a small number of them are actually descended from Persians. But then so are some Indians. I wager that people of direct Persian descent may actually be more in India. Though Pak has bonafide Iranic people too: Pashtuns, Hazaras, Balouch mainly. The great Indo-Iranic Islamic Republic!

    1. Brits put an end to the horrific Indian practice of bride burning and left India far better off. And yet, I still think colonialism is a bad idea. But you would think that a thanks would be in order.

      1. British did not end Sati, yes they did passed the law but there were Indians themselves working to end this practice & Colonial role was contrived in the matter to say the least. Secondly laws alone can not end practice. Thirdly it was not prominent all over the nation but just like everything else colonizers used ethnographuc, religious & other narratives to show it as another unique Indian phenomenon.


        Best book about the issue – {Acc. to me}
        Ashes of immortality by Catherine Weinberger-Thomas

        Some prominent figures –

        For further perspectives –

        Now let me ask – Did Sati phenomenon grew in later periods because of oppressive rulers rather than religious obligations ? If it was a limited phenomenon as it is present in small capacity all over the world why it is known worldwide as an evil specific to India {Main reason – It’s links to Hindu literature} ?

      2. For a dude with an Irish name, you sure seem to have got your priorities right … how’s the potato crop looking this year bro?

        1. The very links you provide belie your claims ‘dude’. I guess you aren’t familar with the Bengal Rennaissance, among many other things. American education is a curse and is polluting the world with half-baked truisms about the past, whether in US schools or through the mass media.

          Modern India chose to scapegoat the British to unite the country. For decades the masses quietly obeserved, ‘The British were better!’ while the young were being brainwashed to hate them. Whatever. Has no one noticed that the vacuum created by the British withdrawal is now being filled by China, while you rant at long dead rulers? Both Irish and Indians who succeeded in the British world know that chip-on-the-shoulder is a wasting disease which should be overcome.

          I want India to be strong and prosper, tilting at windmills is not the way.

          1. Vishal, I agree that English colonialism was mixed and had positive effects in addition to negative ones. I further agree with you that it is wrong for anyone to scapegoat or hate the English for our own problems. Colonized people need to take ownership, responsibility and agency for solving the challenges of colonized people.

            Can you share your thoughts on:

            We both want India to be strong and prosper.

            Many thanks Vishal.

          2. Are you talking about the links i shared & if that’s the case may i ask which claims they belie ?

    2. Many of us “Pakistanis” are actually from Kashmir. Kashmiri-Punjabis are a huge community in Pakistan. Our (ex) PM is a member of that community. Lots of “Khawajas” and “Mirs” running around Pakistan.

      My father has family trees showing that his family came to Kashmir from Iran (within the last 200 years or so). This does not mean that many people who claim to be Arab originally are not making it up.

      In the case of my own paternal ancestry, my paternal grandfather’s ancestors went from one place in Kashmir to Peshawar and my paternal grandmother’s ancestors went from another place in Kashmir to Agra. Possibly, there was intermarriage with local “Hindustanis”. I don’t know all the details.

      1. What a pity fatherland on the wrong side now … bit like Alsace.

        India is run by jhumri-tallayians and biharis, and lately gujju baniyas.

        1. Of my four grandparents (all of whom were born in British India), two were from what is today “India” and two from today’s “Pakistan”. Dada ji was from Peshawar while Dadi ji was from Agra. Nana ji was from Amritsar (moved to Sialkot long before Partition) and Nani ji was from Pakistani Punjab.

          This is not my personal story alone. Lots of British Indian Muslim families experienced the same phenomenon at Partition. Anyway, it’s been 70 years, the new generation is completely Pakistani.

  2. Razib Khan, you stick close to the facts and your writings on genetics do not have a “political valence”.

    Personally I think South East Asians and South Indians totally rock and might be the original Aryans! Of course for me Aryans is a culture/civilizational rather than genetics thing. One reason I like South East Asians is that I find fair skinned “I look so hot” complex (European, West Asian, Central Asian, North Hindustani) to be slightly off-putting.

    Jaggu . . . Iranians are very proud of their heritage, history, ancestors. So are Afghans, Indians, Bangladeshis, Tibetans, Chinese, South East Asians, Israelis, Saudis, Egyptians, Libyans, Tunisians, Algerians, Moroccans, Ethiopians, Sudanese . . . basically everyone except Pakistanis. I don’t get it.

    1. Of course for me Aryans is a culture/civilizational rather than genetics thing.

      even genetically most of the ancestry of south asia isn’t even indo-aryan! though a sig fraction is.

      that being said it is hard to deny that indic civilization is a complex synthesis and can’t be reduced to ‘indo-european’ influences (the same can be said about greek civilization).

    2. Pakistanis are proud of Ghori, Ghaznavi, Abdali, Saladin, Timur and other great islamic heroes.

      1. Ghori, Ghaznavi, Abdali, Saladin, Timur were not born Pakistani. They sacked Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t draw great pride from their pre 640 AD history. Umar invaded Pakistan in the 640s AD.

        1. Obviously, none of the above-mentioned gentlemen were Pakistani. They all lived and died way before 1947.

          Pakistan’s identity is based on Islam and on being the “not-India”. Unfortunately, that involves a rejection of the “Hindu” past. We are proud of the IVC because we do not see it as Hindu. But then our history books move very quickly to the arrival of Muhammad bin Qasim in Sindh. You are slightly off on your dates. MBQ arrived in Sindh in the early 8th century. After that, the history books go straight to the Delhi Sultanate and the “Muslim” empires in North India. That is what we are teaching our kids to base their identity on. We don’t want to discuss anything related to Hindus. I find this very hard to do when teaching about Hindustani classical music. Luckily, the institution I work at is one of the best in Pakistan, and students are generally trained to look at history fairly objectively.

          Only hard-core “Islamists” say “Pakistan was created the day MBQ arrived in Sindh”. Most of us “normal” Pakistanis understand that historically speaking, Pakistan was not a gleam in anyone’s eye until the 1940s.

          Anyway, Razib’s thread was not about Pakistan, so I will cease to hijack the discussion.

        2. As some of my erudite Pakistani friends will say, Ghaznavi et al sacked India, not Pakistan. They created the conditions for a pure land, purified of the black crow Indus heathens that is, to emerge centuries later.

          The purified performed the hijrah to this chosen land on the Indus riparian – bequeathed by the aforesaid ghazi hordes of yore – where more purity could flourish. As the famous Pakistani intellectual, Javed Jabbar, states so beautifully:

          The search for Pakistani nationalism began unconsciously, when the first Muslim stepped onto the soil of South Asia over 1,200 years ago. Perhaps the search softened and was absorbed in other things for about 1,000 years as Muslims ruled parts of the region. Then came the failed revolt of 1857 and the fallout therefrom. Muslims faced the prospect of being non-rulers for the first time in about a millennium. They felt further weakened by an emerging nexus between the British and a Hindu majority…


          1. Obviously, none of these people sacked Pakistan. There was no Pakistan before August 14, 1947. There was no India in the modern sense either. There was “British India” and before that “Hindustan” and before that the “Delhi Sultanate”. The land has remained, the polities on that land have changed. It’s the same story all over the world.

        3. Ghori and Ghaznavi were killed in the region of coterminous Pakistan!

          Ghori was killed by the Khokhars in Potohar as he set up camp in Jhelum while Ghaznavi was killed in in his campaign (returning from Somnath) in northern Sindh as he boarded the Indus.

          It’s mostly the Muhajirs (immigrants from UP-Bihar, the heartland of modern India and Hinduism) who do this, not actual/native Pakistanis. Muhajirs form a disproportionate number of the diaspora as well.

  3. “British colonialism and modern-day culture wars” perhaps is the succinct and best answer but let me take a stab at a higher level, over-generalized answer from a lay person’s view. The answer is only tangentially related to AIT/OIT. Most scholars agree that nationalism is a relatively modern day phenomena brought on by development of state, mass consciousness from mass literacy and mass communication, inter-group competition for resources and power, among other factors. Few people would argue against the view that nationalism becomes more prevalent and acute as general people become aware of other groups in the world arena and social-political entrepreneurs use nationalism to improve group fitness in the completion among groups and nations. All social constructs need to pass through the individual mind. I feel that the basic drive in all nationalism is the need to belong to a special group; a group that is not ordinary like all others. What is more special than a group that has existed from time immemorial and retained its fundamental characteristics?

    It would be wrong to harp on Hindu nationalists without placing this basic urge in historical and global context. Germans blazed the trail and became the ultimate example of chauvinistic nationalism. Using archeology and anthropology to support the unique place of Germans in the world of nations started long before the Nazis. German nationalists were particularly aware that when Greece and Rome were building stupendous civilizations and empires in the BC era, Germany was a thickly forested land inhabited by painted barbarians. German nationalist anthropologists were greatly motivated to show that Germans were the original European people from whom the people of Greece and Rome originated. Nationalist archeology reached the highest fervor during the Nazi era when great resources were spent to find traces of ancient civilizations within Germany. There are amusing anecdotes of how the Nazi government trumpeted each find of shards of pottery and bones as proof positive of ancient civilizations.

    We know how the Chinese nationalists like to argue that the people of the Middle Kingdom came from a different strand of humans than rest of humanity. The Peking man find in the 1930 and other Chinese hominid finds were used and are still used to argue the separate, specialty of the Chinese people. Maybe the world gets to know of current Chinese nationalist thinking because of the language barrier but I will bet that these types of claims are widely prevalent in Chinese popular culture. We know how the nationalists of Japan from the late 19th century liked to boast about pureness and distinct origin of the Yamato people. One curious thing is that chauvinistic nationalism seem to get more pervasive as nations modernize and develop most dramatically, perhaps rapid progress is seen as marks of validation of ethno-nationalist beliefs.

    However, purity and originality of groups is not just hallmarks of rising nations. Social Identity research have shown that even groups that have been historically subjugated and are still markedly behind in status and achievement, have beliefs about distinctness of own groups. The very visible inferiority of status and history of subjugation, suffering are seen as marks of distinctness.

    Why do people feel need to belong to a special group? I believe that Death Anxiety literature of psychology provides the best answers even though the explanations may be too easy and thus not very informative. Awareness of own mortality is a continuous substrate in human mind that sometimes rises and sometimes fades but is never away. There are lot of interesting things in Death Anxiety/Terror Management Theory literature but the basic thing is that human beings seek literal and symbolic immortality to overcome the death anxiety. Religions of course provide the easiest path towards immortality for the human mind but group identities like tribalism, nationalism can also provide powerful symbolic immortality. I may not live but my group, my ideology, my nation will carry on living with my genes or my ideas or my culture. For a group to be immortal, it cannot just continue in future, it must be also primordial. Because if my group only appeared very recently, only formed recently, how can it be immortal?

    The recent dustup over claims of Internet during age of Mahabharata by the Chief Minister of Tripura contained another claim that was overlooked. He claimed Internet during Mahabharata are not just Indian but they are hundreds of thousands of years old. This is not a faux pas but another critical claim of Hindu nationalists. They claim that Indian history should not be measured in ‘millenniums but in bilenniums’. Primordially, originality, specialty. Hindu nationalism developed fantastic claims particularly because of successful invasion and occupation of alien groups in recorded memory and poke-in-the eye material superiority of British occupiers in the 19th century.

    Of course, I should mention Islam and Muslims, perhaps current champions of Primordially, originality, specialty. Not only Islam is the first religion but it is also the only true religion. Hindu religion and other beliefs at least accommodate different paths for different people. However Islam and Christianity are absolutely the only paths to immortality for all humans in all corners of the world. Their effectiveness in managing, using death anxiety must be very enviable to other beliefs.

    I know that this is a very crude and over generalized answer. However, this captures the essence of my thinking on these subjects overall. I welcome all kind of pushback and derision for furthering own enlightenment.

    1. Not only Islam is the first religion but it is also the only true religion

      Really? Damn! I’ve finally found the truth I’ve been seeking all my life…. Alla is merciful.

      1. i think the idea is that adam’s religion was islam. there is also present within xtianity and judaism, since adam->noah were primordial monotheists.

  4. The caste Hindu establishment of India is facing challenges to its political power from Dravidian and Dalit political parties. They are challenging the claim of caste Hindus to being autochthonous to India.

    1. Of those two groups you mentioned, perhaps only Dalit-related groups have any real authority on making those types of claims- but even they should realise (and I think many already do) that some 4000 years is a really long period and everyone becomes “autochthonous” to a land, however evil they were and have historically been. “Dravidian”-ideology political parties are not eligible to make any commentary like that- Dravidians (some people, all languages) are very likely as non-native to south India as Indo-Aryans (still minor number of people than former, all languages) to north India. In south India, agriculturalist feudal Dravidians have been historically committing the most atrocities against Dalits (Karamchedu massacre for example) and Tamil Nadu is one of the most casteist places on the planet with murders of young OBC and Dalit boys happening because of falling in love with middle caste girls.

      1. Regarding a possible counter point having to do with the idea that Dravidian societies before south Indian Aryanisation were egalitarian and with no caste at all, that idea may or may not be true, more likely to be not true than true. There is evidence in the earliest Old Tamil literature that social inequalities of a somewhat similar kind as caste existed in Old Tamil society. Even archaeologists posit some kind of social inequalities existed back in the megalithic period of south India with richer people commissioning bigger megaliths in central locations and poorer people erecting smaller ones in peripheral locations. “Dravidians” cannot be happily upper and middle castes like that throughout history and suddenly claim to be the victims of the phenomena through which they immensely benefitted. This happens only in Tamil Nadu and not in any other states where the older beliefs stay on and atrocities continue to happen- I agree but still Tamil Nadu too continues to commit these atrocities against OBC people and Dalits. People should perhaps learn a thing or two from Kerala which has a high HDI and different types of problems and not this one and more importantly has itself come out of a strange and different but nonetheless problematic casteist society very smoothly and fast. It has its own problems though- that Kerala, with its penchant for political murders and all that.

        1. A history course I once took, taught by a communist prof sympathetic to dravidian movements, said that the Indus valley was likely an unequal *and* discriminatory society going by archaeological evidence. This will be supported if it is true that Iranian farmers also have a predominantly patrilineal contribution to InPe (as Razib said in the comments to his previous article is likely) and AASI a predominantly matrilineal one.

          1. Well, I was (and am) not particularly knowledgeable about Indus Valley archaeology but I’m coming to believe more and more (it appears to me that it may have been the case pretty much on just looking at the things superficially) that caste system has altogether non-Indo-Aryan origins into which Indo-Aryans got sucked in. There may have been some inputs from Indo-Aryans to this system but it appears pre-Indo-Aryan societies had it already to some extent. The main Iranian agriculturalist R2, L, J, etc. Y-haplogroups in both the Indus_Periphery and Swat valley samples and in modern day upper and middle caste Dravidians, Indo-Aryans, etc. may point to this as you said but I wrote a comment yesterday in the post titled “Asians and Aryans” stating that there are perhaps plenty paternal lineages native to the subcontinent and I was mainly having H in mind when I wrote that which is present in every group from Brahmins to tribals. In fact, the origins of H is one interesting problem. I think H is generally considered as attached with AASI only? With perhaps some others like C? Or is only the relevant C considered attached with AASI?

            That communist prof sympathetic to “Dravidian” movement was commendably forthright in seemingly acknowledging things as they appeared to him though, especially those that would be deemed as threatening to one’s entire ideological position (in the case of Dravidian ideology that India including Indus was a Dravidian egalitarian utopia before Indo-Aryans came and introduced their caste system and destroyed everything. Or are there any other viewpoints within this ideology that I don’t know about? I admit I know little about all these things
            lol. All I know is a bit of linguistics.).

            Edit: Or he perhaps imagined AASI as speakers of Dravidian languages originally and the “discriminatory” Indus as some other language which may or may not be Indo-Aryan? Sorry to speculate but couldn’t resist.

          2. The Indo-European seemed to have some caste like tendencies (the three estates); the Iranians certainly did Pre-Islam.

            It might have been a perfect storm; the Aryan super-imposed a tripartite caste system (Brahmins, Kshatriya, Banias) onto an already stratified social systems (the Elamitic-Iranian farmers and the AASI).

            The extreme mixture events in South Asia between very different populations probably created the “soft Apartheid.”

            Apartheid of course is a strong word and I apologise if it’s offensive just analogising as to how castes can organically developed (South Africa, Latin America) when the power and racial dynamics coincide.

            Just speculation on my part

          3. Whatever you are, you certainly know more than I do. Thank you very much for these extra points, and I don’t know enough to add anything of value to your comment.

            That history prof: actually I don’t know/remember what his linguistic view of Indus valley was. I mostly talked music and other stuff with him, so don’t know how he viewed this idea concerning Indus valley inequality. He did believe very strongly in Aryan migration, but was also of the opinion that Aryan invasion was a politically motivated British theory to divide and conquer, a view that is not uncommon among many leftists who also believe that Hindu-Muslim relations were awesome in India until the Brits showed up.

            (BTW Razib has replied to you at: http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/04/24/why-do-indians-care-about-oit-ait/#comment-8990 )

            [Edit: that was response to Historumsi’s comment at: http://www.brownpundits.com/2018/04/24/why-do-indians-care-about-oit-ait/#comment-8989 ]

  5. There are many aspects to why people care about AIT vs OIT, and I will mention just one which seems to me to be underappreciated. There is this breathtakingly ignorant comment in David Reich’s book – that Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism arose in response to the caste system.

    Consider Buddhism for instance – the earliest Buddhist literature comes from Sri Lanka several centuries after Buddha’s death, and according to it Buddhism arose from Buddha’s personal quest about suffering, and personal spiritual considerations are what made Buddhism popular too.

    So why does Reich so glibly assert such an evidence-free fabrication? Because he has good reasons to believe AIT, and therefore he naively assumes that those historians on the “correct” side should get other aspects correct too.

    This is a fundamental problem – history gets to be written by winners of cultural wars (and OIT vsg AIT has turned out to be, wrongly in my opinion, a battle in a cultural war).

    A helpful example to keep in mind is that of Galileo:


    Generally, Galileo was on the “right” side of history and the church was on the wrong side. And yet, a lot of what we know about that entire episode was fabrication, and Christians were on the receiving end of some American historians’ attempt to make a false “awesome scientist vs evil Christian” dichotomy out of it.

    1. froginthewell
      + 100

      Hindus consider Buddhism to be a branch inside Hinduism and so it was for a very long time after the passing of Buddha. Hindus consider Buddha to be an “avatar”. This is a future very long article in its own right:
      Some comments on this thread were informative:

      Hindus also consider Sikhism and Jainism to be branches inside of herself. Hindus revere Guru Nanak. Two long papers planned on Jainism and Sikhism.

      The attempt to create tension between Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism by post modernists is abominable.

      1. That article on ancient arya culture contains many underappreciated points regarding Buddhism. The Tipitaka literature doesn’t attack Brahmins – rather, the “Dhammapada” of the Tipitaka literature contains a chapter called “Brahmanavaggo” in which Buddha says that the true Brahmin is one who controls the mind and figures the truth. And this is exactly what Yajnavalkya tells Maitreyi: that a Brahmana is one who departs from the world after knowing the truth, and a Kripana one who departs without knowing the truth.

        I recently saw a comment on BP where someone said that “now” many Hindus consider Buddha to be an Avatar of Vishnu. I suppose this is what you were countering just now. I agree – the Gitagovinda treats Buddha as one of the 10 avatars and praises Buddha for opposing the Vedic (shruti-jatam) animal sacrifice – “निन्दति यज्ञ विधेः अहह श्रुति जातम् | सदय हृदय दर्शित पशु घातम् ” – I don’t know how people make these sorts of assumptions.

        1. The beauty of the Gitagovinda. Ahhh. After reading that the universe loses all meaning. Jayadeva and Gita Govinda are beauty beyond beauty, love beyond love. They are part of the Guru Granth Sahib. Nanaka “LOVED” Govinda:

          All woman and girls are Gopis. All males are woman in male vessels. All are vessels of Govinda.

          AbdulMajeed Abid, maybe show Gitagovinda to hypothetical Pakistani male fresh off the boat awkward immigrant. Just substitute “Allah” for “Govinda” and its halal. Al hamdula! Or hypothetical Pakistani male can read Gareeb Nawaz Khwaja. Same thing.

  6. Culture wars, which picked up pace recently. Anecdotally the Upper Caste Hindus didn’t had any issues with AIT. One of the prominent Hindu nationalist Tilak even wrote a book supporting it. “From Ganga to Volga” written by Rahul Sankrityayan, a fictional book, premised heavily on AIT was popular and rather uncontroversial.

    The event described by David Reich in his book involving Prof Lalji Singh, wouldn’t have occurred 30 years ago. Prof. Singh was a decent person with a scientific outlook, he must have been spooked by the prevailing atmosphere in India.

    In my opinion the scientific community in India will come to accept AIT, but politically it wont be accepted by a large section, which given the fact that the current science minister of India doesn’t believe in evolution, is not surprising at all.

    1. I believe the same, that AIT wasn’t problematic until relatively recently. It actually massaged the vanity of hindu nationalists a few generations ago and affirmed prestige in the Vedic culture being Indo-European and from the same root as the Greco-Roman and fit to be the foundation of a modern society, whereas Islam was problematically Semitic. The change in attitude is about stemming defection, what if Dravidians and Dalits don’t feel a special loyalty to hinduism because its not in their blood?

      1. Yes, they have no problem in sharing the root with Greco-Roman, so long as the Greco-Roman comes from India and not the other way round – or worse – from C Asian marauders. The latter makes Hinduism just an older version of Islam-like religion which also came from C Asia.

        Obv not true. No old Hindu temples to Indra in Ukraine. Because Hinduism is totally an Indian thing.

        Basically, all confusion stemming from conflation of genetics with culture.

        1. Jaggu, what I’m trying to say is that earlier, the hindutva position wasn’t bothered much about a central asian homeland for aryans, or that the RgVeda may have been conceived in Afghanistan. It was understood that it was long enough ago that unravelling the different cultural strains was an academic exercise and impossible perhaps, whereas Islam was an imposition in the relatively recent historical period, the statute of limitation on those crimes had not expired yet.
          The need to defend how indigenous the culture is has to do with responding to a question first posed by their opponents. This debate has been salient in the last 15 years, as has to do with the BJP needing to appeal to a broader base. The BJP after all was a regional party, “Hindi, Hindu, Hindustan”, that knows it must evolve to build on its success. The biggest defenders of OIT and the denial of Dravidian as a linguistic group in my experience have been nationalists of south Indian origin who see it as defending against the appeal of christian conversion.

          1. I thought the Avesta was composed in Afghanistan; if the Rig Veda was also composed in such close proximity, that would make it rather tantalising.

          2. Zach, it had been speculated upon at one point, I have no idea myself. There is the thought that if the oral tradition evolved, some of the topographical details/ and other descriptions would have been transposed onto new landscapes. I’ve heard it repeated lately that greater punjab is the likely candidate, with may include southern afghanistan, however.
            The Avestan and Vedic languages are remarkably similar and deal with some of the same themes, but from different perspectives. I’m sure some of the other commenters could go into greater detail, but there’s the interesting possibility that the texts were inspired by opposing Aryan tribes.

          3. or that the RgVeda may have been conceived in Afghanistan

            That is linguistically untenable. Some concepts and rituals of Vedas are older … of IE origins. But the composition by families of brahmins etc is situated in Greater Punjab and upper Indus riparian. See Witzel on this. Anyway, sort of irrelevant…


            The recent focus on OIT in India has only come in the internet age. But under the surface, this shit has been bubbling for a while. Arya Samaj was first major co-option of Aryans and old rituals etc by Hindu Punjabis & Sindhis (to lesser extent) and started in the 1870s.

            Also Dravidian and Dalit politics made this into a topical political issue. But to say that N Indian upper caste hindus were totally ok with semi-European ancestry is BS.

          4. Yes. More things will be made up as they go along, like Buddha is now the 10th avatar of Vishnu.

  7. Of course, the reason why at least some Indians find AIT unpalatable is that it counters the nationslist narrative of a wise and ancient civilization that had developed in the sacred land of India since time immemorial before it was defiled by heathen marauders from Central Asia. Well, it turns out – as most sane people had thought for many decades – that much of the great classical Indian civilization was brought to India by heathen marauders from Central Asia. The crushing blow to self-identity is enough to push most people into denial. This is exactly the same as so many Indian Muslims denying their clearly pre-Islamic Indian roots and connecting themselves to Persians and Arabs.

    BTW, this notion of Central Asian invaders being Muslims had already conveniently glossed over the Greek and Kushan conquests, but one could argue that these were confined to the northwestern fringe. With Aryans, we have a crisis at the core of the ideology.

    1. Tsk. Tsk. The Arya brought little of that classical civilization. They were civilized in India. Created Sanskrit, clue’s in the name, meaning “synthesized”.

      Like Normans (Norsemen) in France or Visigoths in Spain and Italy or Danes in England or Latins in Etruscan Rome or Hellens in the E Med or Medes/Persians in Elamite Iran. Classical civilizations arose *because* of settlement and rootedness.

      PS: genetic descent says fuck all about culture.

  8. Let me state the reason that is closest to the truth.

    Indians, since millennia have had this belief that their civilization is very old, perhaps the oldest in the world.

    This belief existed even during Alexander’s time in 300 BC when Megasthenes, the Seleucid diplomat at Chandragupta’s court mentions an Indian tradition that puts Chandragupta at 153rd position in a long line of kings with the first consecrated king – whom Megasthenes refers as Dionysus and Indian tradition refers as Prthu Vainya – existed about 6451 years before him – ie. around 6700 BCE.

    This belief of a very great antiquity of Indians is also recorded by Al-Biruni as well as by Abu Fazl.

    This is not something the Indian right wing has conjured up recently.

    One of the sheet anchors in Indian historical tradition is the date of the Mahabharata War & the start of the Kaliyuga – believed to date to 3138 Bc & 3102 BC respectively.

    This is also not a right wing invention.

    When the British meddled into Indian history – the Indian pundits gave this info and one of William Jones’ Papers has the dates of Indian history calculated keeping the sheet anchor as the War & Kaliyug.

    But William Jones dismissed all these claims of great antiquity based on the very ‘scientific’ belief that Earth was only 6000 years old. Who the hell were these degenerate Hindus trying to fool with these grotesque claims of great antiquity ?

    Subsequently all dates of ancient Indian history were pulled down and it was argued that there was nothing that goes beyond 2000 BC. The AIT date of 1500 BC by Max Muller was also based on this same British method. There was nothing remotely scientific about it.

    Later on with the discovery of the Indus civilization, the claims of great antiquity made by Indian tradition were proven to be true.

    But in a perfect example of convoluted reasoning, the colonials stuck to unscientific date of 1500 BC for the AIT and argued with a straight face that the Indus civilization was some lost civilization having nothing to do with later Indians.

    You can judge for yourself if this fair and justified.

    The above, if you are able to appreciate, will go a long way in making you understand the Indian reaction.

    1. Jaydeepsinh Rathod
      + 1 million

      Series of articles planned on this topic.

      Jaydeepsinh Rathod, would you consider writing some articles for Brown Pundit on this or other topics?


      I am very interested in scientific research and increasing data. Analysis of data can happen later. Data and analysis of data are not connected. Razib Khan, would you agree?

      1. Data and analysis of data are not connected. Razib Khan, would you agree?

        not totally, but the correlation is not perfect.

        but i’d be inclined to let Jaydeepsinh Rathod put up a blog post on one condition: links to his assertions. mostly so i can do follow-up research without having to do all the googling myself.

        1. Razib, I am researching data on antiquity from the eastern corpus. I love the way your mind works. We should always carefully analyze and reanalyze our assumptions and methodologies. We should constantly self critique and improve.

          I think data and information should be gathered for their own sake. Yes some of this data might appear to be contradictory or not; but this is not germane or relevant to data gathering. Shouldn’t we collect as much data as possible and let future scientists and scholars draw their own conclusions based on their own methodology? This is a broad point most aimed at issues unrelated to global DNA genealogy research.

          Please keep writing on DNA genealogy research. Fascinating stuff. Eventually I hope to ask you some clarifying questions on it.

    2. Regardless of any specious reasoning by William Jones, arguments by modern scholars are well founded in linguistics, archeology, and more recently genetics. If you do end up making a post here arguing in favor of an ancient (older than ~1500BC), unbroken, and indigenous Vedic civilization, you’ll have to provide more evidence than “we’ve always believed in it/it’s our tradition”, because that’s the same kind of argument ignorant Europeans would have used to justify the Earth being only 6000 years old.

      1. Fraxinicus, as best as I know there is almost no evidence based on linguistics and archaeology for ancient dates from China, South East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, Iran and the near East. We have evidence of Sumerian artifacts and writing from approximately 6 thousand years ago. But still we have done almost no archaeological research relative to what we could do. Not much international support for it.

        Yes the DNA geneology evidence is substantial . . . that is why we are so fascinated by it.

        In any case this discussion and your seriousness deserves detailed researched articles.

        1. I only have a cursory knowledge of the archeological evidence, but I know the linguistic evidence rather well.

          Yes, there aren’t written records going back farther than Sumer, or any deciphered writing at all outside of the Near Eastern oikumene until the oracle bones and bronze inscriptions we have from the Shang. However, that doesn’t mean that linguistics can’t tell us about antiquity. It’s comparable to making inferences about the past based on modern DNA samples, as opposed to ancient DNA. Woefully limited by comparison, but still a useful source of information.

          As far as India goes, there is no linguistic support for anything but AIT/AMT. The linguistic evidence in favor of the steppe origin for PIE was so strong, that linguists had more or less settled onto a consensus in its favor decades before genetics vindicated them. If you want to do your own reading, the first few chapters of the Horse, the Wheel, and Language give a pretty good overview of that evidence, despite a few mistakes.

          If you’re still unsure about the linguistic arguments against OIT and in favor of AIT, I’d highly recommend “Indo-European Language and Culture”, by Benjamin Fortson, which is a great general introduction to Indo-European studies. It contains a better summary of the non-genetic evidence for Indo-European origins (like THTWAL, it was published before ADNA took off), and it also follows the development of each of the daughter branches of IE, including Indo-Iranian. IIRC it has a good bibliography, so it can also serve as a starting point for further reading.

      2. I know what I m talking about and I have done plenty of reading based on which I have formed my opinion.

        I do not need people like you giving me sermons. Keep that to yourself.

        Since you argue
        arguments by modern scholars are well founded in linguistics, archeology, and more recently genetics

        Please do show me how linguistics, archaeology and genetics proves an Indo-Aryan migration into South Asia around 1500 BC.

        Do not shoot from others shoulders. Show me the facts as you understand it.

        Also explain how Max Muller in the 1850s without any linguistic or archaeological,much less any genetic, evidence was able to come up with the magical figure of 1500 BC for AIT which has supposedly now been proven by genetics as well.

        1. The specific date of 1500BC is not important – only ancient DNA can pinpoint it that precisely, and we’re still waiting on published ADNA from South Asia (except for the Swat Valley, where steppe DNA does start showing up at about the right time).

          We know that at some point there was an Aryan invasion or migration, because Aryan languages, as a subset of Indo-European languages, had their origin outside of India. All of the linguistic evidence points to an origin for IE outside of India. A few of the more important points are:

          1. Generally, you expect to find the most linguistic diversity within a language family at the point of origin of that family – unless that point of origin is in a linguistic spread zone, where we expect languages to be repeatedly replaced. This argument can’t be used in favor of or against the steppe hypothesis, as the steppe is the quintessential linguistic spread zone (due to the nature of the pastoral nomadic societies that inhabited the steppe for most of the last 5000 years). But it can, however, be used to argue against an origin in India – the Indo-Gangetic plain is also a spread zone, but the demographic weight of agricultural populations mean that spread of a language is much more difficult here – which is why Scythian and Hunnic and Turkic conquerors haven’t left any linguistic descendants in the subcontinent. However, the mountains in and around India are quintessential anti-spread zones, allowing isolates like Burushaski, and weird basal offshoots of Indo-Iranian like the Nuristani languages, to survive.

          If IE languages originated in India, we would expect at least one other basal branch of the family to be found in South Asia. That is, there should be some other IE subfamily in or around India that is about as different from Indo-Aryan as the European IE languages are. Instead, where we would expect to find basal branches of IE, we only see non-IE languages, or closely-related Indo-Iranian languages.
          However, this is the weakest argument. You can come up with a theoretically possible, if highly implausible, narrative of how every last remnant of other IE languages were subsumed by Indo-Iranian languages. Onto the next point…

          2. There are very early borrowings between Indo-European languages and Uralic, Caucasian, and Afro-Asiatic (perhaps specifically Semitic) languages. Many borrowings into Uralic are in fact specifically from the Indo-Iranian branch of IE. Of course, none of these other language families are natively found anywhere near India, except Semitic languages in eastern Arabia that are separated from India by hundreds of miles of water. The steppe hypothesis accounts well for Uralic and Caucasian borrowings, and the Afro-Asiatic borrowings fit plausibly into the narrative as well.

          3. Sanskrit shows the influence of a South Asian substrate which is lacking in all other Indo-European languages. The pervasive presence of retroflex consonants is the most salient part of this substrate influence. Even the closely related Avestan lacks the retroflex consonants of Sanskrit, and while some other IE languages have developed retroflex consonants independently, in no other subfamily are retroflex consonants universal, or distributed within the language in the same way as Indo-Aryan languages (for comparison, Russian has a retroflex s and z, but no others; Indo-Aryan languages can have retroflex n, t, d, s, r, l…). In contrast, other indigenous South Asian language families like Dravidian, or the isolate Burushaski, both make wide use of retroflex consonants. Pervasive retroflection is an areal feature of South Asian languages, not a genetic feature of Indo-European languages, and its presence in Indo-Aryan languages suggests that they are originally intrusive to South Asia.

          Stepping away from strict linguistics, the spread of language requires at least some spread of a population speaking that language. We can see the spread of DNA from the steppe to India over time – the Swat Valley ADNA shows this, and studies of modern and ancient R1a show that the diversity of branches within India is relatively recent, and that virtually all Indian R1a belongs to a sister clade to Eastern European R1a, and diverged from the European lineages right when the steppe hypothesis would predict. Indian-like R1a is found on the steppe among Scythian nomads, who bear a lot of steppe DNA, and no Indian DNA. In fact, there is no spread of any distinctly Indian genetic markers throughout the rest of the Indo-European speaking world, while we do see R1a, R1b, and/or Yamnaya-like ancestry in virtually every IE-speaking population of Eurasia.

          All these arguments point to the basic reality of an Aryan invasion or migration happening at some point in prehistory. The genetic evidence provides the best evidence for a relatively late date of this migration happening (which matches what linguists have always expected, although the dating of linguistic splits is relatively imprecise). I could bring out more evidence, but that’s all I can provide off the top of my head.

          1. Ok nice. I have an answer to all your points but I need sometime before I can make a long comment. Will also give you some links to ponder and reflect upon. Will hopefully be back in a few hours

  9. It’s not the ancestry that is irksome. It is the origin of culture that is under contention.

    The one basis of Hindutva politics is that Hinduism is indigenous to India. Now there is a very strong evidence for the hypothesis that the Vedic culture had it’s origins in Indo-European cultural practices that were brought from outside India. This throws a spanner in the works for Hindutva; notwithstanding the fact that Hinduism is much more than Vedic practices. The puṇya-bhumi principle requires that seeds of Hinduism to have sprouted in the sub-continent.

    No amount of science can stop an ideological need; so OIT will have a field day for decades in India. The one hope that the OIT proponents have is that most people do not comprehend the technical aspects of Population Genetics or Linguistics and can continue to be misled using either pre-2012 studies, fringe theories on language spread, and anachronistic “translations” of Vedas.

    OIT has bright prospects because there are very few graduate courses in Population Genetics, Linguistics, or Vedic Grammar in India. Even the Indian school curriculum does not provide basic appreciation of these fields.

  10. Well, I was (and am) not particularly knowledgeable about Indus Valley archaeology but I’m coming to believe more and more (it appears to me that it may have been the case pretty much on just looking at the things superficially) that caste system has altogether non-Indo-Aryan origins into which Indo-Aryans got sucked in.

    this seems right.

    1. Caste would be more characteristic of settled, agricultural society than than pastoral tribes, wouldn’t it?

        1. If it was so bad, why do it? Everyone eventually did it (barring a few sods stuck on remote islands or barren deserts).

          Agriculture made it possible to support a *vastly* bigger population of people than was otherwise possible in pastoralist or hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Anything that supports more human life is better than what doesn’t. More people means harder to achieve equality.

          And inequality is not a bad thing either, in fact a necessary condition for progress.

          Nothing bugs me more than this quasi-Luddite drivel of Jared…

          1. I was not justifying this or that but merely trying to showcase this view, which seems fairly popular, as the context of Shafiq’s argument about the Iranian origin farmers in Indus valley more likely to have introduced caste system than Vedic steppe people (for the record I support agriculture since my world view is less anthropocentric than liberals’ I personally consider meat eating more morally indefensible than wealth inequality).

    2. Thank you for the response! If this had something to do with the clash of farmers, artisans, etc. and hunter gatherers and the somewhat uneven neolithisation of India, do you think could Europe have evolved this sort of a system (with ultra-strict endogamy rules which may already have included ban on Pratiloma type marriages, untouchability, etc.) too (if Europe was unevenly neolithised which I don’t know much about) given that small (?) groups of Anatolian agriculturalists are Europe’s Iranian agriculturalists? If so, what prevented it from happening there? The later higher replacement of neolithic folks in Europe compared to India by pastoralists from the steppe who perhaps tended to be somewhat more egalitarian? Sorry for all these bold speculations though- I will be conscious enough that these are just that.

      1. In India, Neolithic farmers ran into a desert and a jungle that were both inimical to their form of agriculture. For the duration of the IVC, there was a persistent frontier which protected the neighboring hunter-gatherers from extinction. There were similar frontiers in Europe, but none lasted as long as in India.

        1. Thank you very much! So when the earliest clashes happened, whenever they were, they were perhaps more eventful? Is it possible that endogamy and other caste practices would not have existed to this extent if the hunter gatherers more or less went extinct as in the case of WHG (Europeans have quite a low amount of WHG ancestry, I read)? Or perhaps I should stop this speculation and look for more proximate causes rather than such ancient time periods. Considering the Japanese parallel as suggested by Shafiq here would be helpful perhaps- were the Japanese equivalent of the untouchables more connected to any pre-neolithic or later-neolithised ancestors there? Or they arose just like that later on, randomly?

          1. To be clear, it was not my idea that Dalits, etc. have super-high AASI in India- but isn’t it the case that Dalits indeed do have a bit higher AASI compared to that in the middle and upper castes?

          2. Europeans have much of their Hunter Gatherer ancestry, but it’s indirect.
            The Farmers there had about ~30% of such ancestry, and Yamnaya had ~50%.
            Some populations, such as the Lithuanians, have about ~50% Hunter Gatherer ancestry, what seems to be the peak there.

          3. Oh thank you! I was mainly having WHG in mind (but I may have been wrong in my understanding about WHG too)- the case of Yamna with the 50% EHG, I did not consider because their later day success happened only after they adopted pastoralism and abandoned pure hunting-gathering, and I thought WHG who seemed to not have swiftly made that transition to pastoralism unlike EHG or because of their living in parts that were more attractive to the advancing farmers compared to those of EHG and thus more strongly overwhelmed by the farmers than EHG. I was thus mainly using such WHG as a parallel to AASI and wondering if AASI had for some reason gone nearly genetically extinct by the natural invasive means of the farmers in the Indian case, maybe the farmers would not have had much need to establish social systems that placed AASI descendants in the lower sections of society if they managed to significantly enter the farming economy and not just retreating to jungles outside the systems with farming economy. That is, I was thinking that it was the presence of hunter gatherers that majorly caused the farmers to establish such systems and not other mechanisms- I realise that I could have been very wrong. It appears that, (and in fact is this the traditional understanding like, more or less?) a purely genetically homogeneous farmer society can also evolve caste structure within itself in the absence of any other out-group such as genetically different hunter-gatherers, perhaps out of such simple causes as development of one-to-one individual-profession systems followed by rigidification of such systems into biological descent-based ones then followed by gradation of professions, and then later may meet new hunter-gatherers and when some such hunter-gatherers are incorporated into the society of the farmers, the recruits may find it easy to find membership in the lower sections of the already established system (not of course denying that there is a direct say involved of the people of upper sections in this- just that the original stratification itself may have pre-encounter, non-apartheid origins) and this is why the appearance of correlation between things like high-AASI and low-social-status, etc. may be occurring. But it also seems to have some problems- how long does it require for the farmer community to stay homogeneous this way and develop differences before encountering any hunter gatherers? Does the farmer-hunter gatherer meeting wait till the farmer society develops a rigid system internally within itself? In case it does not (which maybe the case realistically speaking), then do both the apartheid-based and non-apartheid-based motives come into picture in forming stratifications?

    3. “that caste system has altogether non-Indo-Aryan origins into which Indo-Aryans got sucked in. “
      A lot of Indo-European groups in Europe had castes of one type or another.
      The Insular Celts had Druids (including Ovates and Bards)as a priestly caste, the Flaith was their noble/warrior caste, and the Bo aire was the producer caste.
      The Germanics had their Jarl caste in which the original priestly (Kon) and noble castes were combined, the Karls who were the producers and the Thralls at the bottom.
      The various Greek groups had Homioi, Athens, Mothra, Perioikoi, Metics, Helots, etc.
      The Latins had priestly Patricians, the Senatores and Equites, then Plebeians of various ranks, then Proletarii and Peregrini, then Servi.

      1. these castes were inconsequential genetically. also, a lot of these groups were not genetically hereditary. patricians could be adopted into plebs and plebs in patricians (or equites into patricians like augustus). plebs and patricians intermarried.

        1. That’s absolutely true for some. None with the sticking power or lasting endogamy of the Indian system, certainly. I was just pointing out that caste systems generally are pretty common amongst ancient Indo-European groups.
          Of course Brahmins and Druids aren’t metonyms, but there are obvious similarities. Peter Berresford Ellis makes a good anthropological/archaeological case for a common origin in his 1994 book “The Druids” and in “The Ancient World of the Celts” (1998).

          1. . I was just pointing out that caste systems generally are pretty common amongst ancient Indo-European groups.

            caste in a generic sense is common in complex societies. the indian system is sui generis (we can talk about how it is sui generis culturally, but i know how it is sui generis genetically).

  11. Japan a relatively static society for two thousand years, developed quite a rigid and arguably more inhumane caste system by 1600-1700 AD.

  12. It is interesting to note that during the colonial times in India it was more fashionable to claim a foreign origin of one’s caste.

    The origin of this trend lay in the fact that British rulers popularized a notion that native Indian races are effeminate and lethargic, and incapable of ruling themselves. Therefore India has always been ruled by foreign races. This of course made British rule in India as a natural course of events and legitimized it. Hand-in-hand with the foreign origin theory went the Martial races theory, which was basically another facet of the same theory. The gist of the theory was that Indian populace consisted of two types of races. Martial races, which were vigorous, energetic and warlike, and the non-martial races which were devoid of these virtues. Martial races were of course all of Foreign provenance.

    It was a very infectious theory (who doesn’t want to be called more “martial” than others. It was so flattering! British cunning surely knew how to press the right buttons!). The net result was that there was a scramble to concoct some foreign origin, any foreign origin really, of one’s community. Muslims as a rule thought of themselves as descendants of Arabs, and to a lesser extent Iranians or Turks. Even Hindus were taken in by the trend, and many of them, Rajputs and Jats for e.g., fancied themselves as Scythians and Hunas.

    Gandhi, generally an impartial observer, has noted in one of his books that during his time in South Africa, Gujarati Muslim immigrants called themselves simply “Arabs”. It was due to his efforts some of them finally acknowledged their Indian roots.

    Post independence the equation flipped. Now claiming native roots somehow gave one more rights over the land.

    1. I wouldn’t put it down exclusively to British cunning that they propounded these theories. On some level they seemed to genuinely believe these things because it appears in their unrehearsed/unofficial writings. Seeing the decadent state of Indian society it would have been hard for them, with the prejudices of that era, not to attribute the existence of a sophisticated corpus of ancient literature that exceeded their own and the subsequent decline to racial degradation/miscegenation.
      Regarding castes claiming foreign origins, there is an analog of southern castes claiming northern origins for legitimacy/prestige. There was a sort of cascading inferiority complex at play i suppose. My sense is that now, after a certain amount of economic development, these complexes have softened if not dissipated.

  13. I agree that now it is somewhat more prestigious to claim a son-of-the-soil origin in India. However, you can still find the residue inferiority complex in some quarters in owning up native Indian roots.

    Long ago I used to be a contributor to Wikipedia. I remember when I was working on Maratha caste article, some user came along, and painstakingly provided a foreign provenance to all 96 clans of Marathas! (Marathas count total 96 clans among them). It was amusing how he/she laboriously traced every Maratha surname to some foreign White tribe. (Ingale for e.g. came from Inge, supposedly a mythical German god). Most surnames naturally went to Germanic and Scandinavian tribes.

    The history of the page is still recorded by Wikipedia. Enjoy it. 🙂


  14. I think “British colonialism and modern-day culture wars.” succintly answers the question. Basically Indians were tutored by the British theories of race, language, etc especially the 19th century British theories. All educated classes ‘accepted’ it or at least aquiesed in it till recently. Now all those 19th century theories and it’s selective adaption by politicians have created lot of dissonance . That is the reason for this ‘culture wars’ . Indians are obssessed with their ancestry – that is very traditional – that is why you have so many castes and tribes. Hinduism as grown by adding newer ideas , but never replacing older ideas. Thee ancestry bit is very strong among inherited culrural ideas

  15. @Fraxinicus,

    But it can, however, be used to argue against an origin in India – the Indo-Gangetic plain is also a spread zone, but the demographic weight of agricultural populations mean that spread of a language is much more difficult here – which is why Scythian and Hunnic and Turkic conquerors haven’t left any linguistic descendants in the subcontinent

    Here is where you need to remember that there was already considerable demographic weight in the Bronze Age itself in the Indus civilization. This means that steppe nomads coming in from the North in the 2nd millenium BC quite simply could not have had the enormous success in changing the linguistic landscape going by what as you yourself indicate happened with the later migrants.

    If IE languages originated in India, we would expect at least one other basal branch of the family to be found in South Asia. That is, there should be some other IE subfamily in or around India that is about as different from Indo-Aryan as the European IE languages are.

    Almost all the books that give an overview on the Indo-European language family, pretend as if all Indo-Aryan languages descend from the Rgvedic Sanskrit. However the reality is far more complex.

    You must be aware of the canonical language of the Buddhists – Pali. Well,

    “Pali as a MIA language is different from Sanskrit not so much with regard to the time of its origin than as to its dialectal base, since a number of its morphonological and lexical features betray the fact that it is not a direct continuation of Rgvedic Sanskrit;rather it descends from a dialect
    (or a number of dialects) which was (/were), despite many similarities, different from Rgvedic. ”

    ” Some examples may help to illustrate this point: (1) (ug-/pag)gharati ‘oozes’ points back to a form * °g^arati (from PII *y/gzhar, see Avestan Vyzar) which reflects the voiced cluster of PIE *Vdhg-her ‘to flow, move forcefully’ as against Vedic ksdrati and Greek (pdeipo)\ (2) we meet with the same difference of voiced and surd consonant in ljhayati ‘burns, is on fire’ (andjhana- ‘f\XQ\jhdpaka- ‘incendiary’, jhapana- ‘setting on firQ\jhdpeti ‘sets on f\xt\jhama- ‘on fire’) and xghdyati ‘is burnt, is tormented’, on the one hand, and OIA y/ksd on the other, continuations of PIE *y/dhg*heH; (3) (anupa/ano/uj)jagghati ‘laughs at’ – as well as the Rgvedic hapax jdjhjhati- ‘laughing’ (5.52.6).- is a dialectical variant from Indo-Iranian *fhlagzhati as against KV(+)jaksa ° (< */a-^s-a °)"

    "This base dialect (or dialects) of Pali was (/were) in several points more archaic than Rgvedic Sanskrit: (1) (i)dha ‘here’4 (see p. 91) directly continues – other than Rgvedic ihd – PIE * °dhe (see Greek evep0€)\ and (2) kinati ‘buys’ has preserved – other than Rgvedic krinati (with the -f- from kritd- < *krrih2t6~) – the original short -f- of the present stem *krrineh2-. One of the dialects on which Pali rests seems to have had affinities with the language of the holy texts of Zarathustrism, the Avesta: (1) nharu- ‘sinew’ (< *snarut- < *snaurt-) agrees with Avestan snauuard against Vedic (AV+) snavan-2; (2) (a)sata- '(tfiis)fortune, (un)pleasant'3 is a continuation of *sata-9 which belongs to PII *ciatd~ (< PIE *k~iehIt6- [see Latin quietus]). Since (OIA) *cyata~ and (Pali) *cata- are to be expected, Yaska's and Patanjali's records, that the Kambojas of eastern Iran had a word savati cto go' (Nirukta II2, Mahabhasya 19,25-26) which answers to Avestan s(ii)auua(ite) and not to the OIA pendant cydva(ti), is of particular interest."


    There were several Prakrit languages besides Pali in ancient India like Magadhi, Sauraseni, Paisachi, Maharashtri, Gandhari etc. and none of them can be considered as a direct descendent of Rigvedic Sanskrit. So there was considerable linguistic diversity in ancient India in the Indo-European languages. However due to the dominant and outsized role of Sanskrit, most of these other lesser known languages got heavily influenced by Sanskrit and lost their individuality.

    Have you heard of the language Bangani spoken in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, North India ? It is a kentum language found in the foothills of the Himalayas deep within North India.

    "The language seems to have retained some very archaic structures, retaining PIE k-, -l~-, g- and -g-. Many. words in Bangani unlike other IA languages of the region have not witnessed palatalization defying RUKi Rule. It is difficult to prove at this point whether this is because of its affiliation to Kenturn language as claimed by Zoller. However, on the basis of the first-hand data acquired during these two field trips. ,it can be said without any prejudices and with some certainly that some Western Indo-European language (perhaps Tokharian) of which we have no knowledge so far. either had a significant role in substratumizing Bangani or, Bangani itself was genetically related to this unknown Western IE language. ,b>There are many other features in the language such as existence of O as against a of I.Ir., pre-verbal auxiliaries (without being a V2 language system), and post auxiliary negatives that may also be seen as retentions of archaic structure in Bangani of which traces are only in Indo-European languages


    Besides, Tokharian was itself spoken not very far off from the Indian subcontinent. Rigvedic Sanskrit is also one of the earliest attested IE languages and that too within South Asia itself with its geographic vision already spread out from Afghanistan in the West to Western UP in the East.


    1. Razib Khan and Zachary Latif and Jaydeepsinh Rathod; can I combine a few comments by Jaydeepsinh Rathod and post them as a stand alone article?

      Jaydeepsinh Rathod, will wait for your continued comments before combining them into a single post.

  16. @Fraxinicus,


    There are very early borrowings between Indo-European languages and Uralic, Caucasian, and Afro-Asiatic (perhaps specifically Semitic) languages. Many borrowings into Uralic are in fact specifically from the Indo-Iranian branch of IE. Of course, none of these other language families are natively found anywhere near India, except Semitic languages in eastern Arabia that are separated from India by hundreds of miles of water. The steppe hypothesis accounts well for Uralic and Caucasian borrowings, and the Afro-Asiatic borrowings fit plausibly into the narrative as well.

    You should know that the Indus civilization’s influence was quite substantial in the Eastern Iranian civilizations of Helmand (Shahr i Sokhta) and Jiroft as well as BMAC in Central Asia. The present genetic study supports this very well. Besides these civilizations were using Indian Zebu cattle and to this day, the dominant cattle in Eastern Iran and Central Asia is the Zebu cattle.

    Together with the Indus civilization, these Eastern Iranian & Central Asian civilizations combined were spread over an enormous expanse.

    These civilizations were from a very early period of time in contact with the Mesopotamian civilization. There were even colonies of Indus civilization migrants within the cities of ancient Mesopotamia. So a language contact with Semitic wouldn’t be all that difficult now would it ?

    The Uralic or Finno-Ugric languages according to more recent thinking is said to not date earlier than 2000 BC with its earliest contacts being with Indo-Iranian and only later with European IE languages. The contacts with the Indo-Iranian can be easily accounted for by the fact that during the Bronze Age the BMAC civilization was in contact with the steppe groups in the North and its influence is found at sites such as Sintashta. This could have been the time when the Indo-Iranian languages exerted their influence on Finno-Ugric. Or it could well have been just the later Scythian Iranians who definitely spread over a wide area of the steppe, who could have influence the Finno-Ugrics.

    As far as Caucasian is concerned, most of Caucasian language contacts are i believe with the European languages and certainly not with Indo-Aryan. The language contacts with the European IE dialects could be accounted for the migration of these languages from Central Asia to steppe via the Caucasus.


    Pervasive retroflection is an areal feature of South Asian languages, not a genetic feature of Indo-European languages, and its presence in Indo-Aryan languages suggests that they are originally intrusive to South Asia.

    Retroflexion is a pervasive areal feature of the entire South Asian region but it is not an argument against an Out of India movement of IE languages.

    There is no good reason why IE languages, if they spread from India, should preserve retroflexion while they traversed through linguistic zones which had no retroflexion. A case in point – the Romani languages have lost retroflexion inspite of them being clearly derived from India.


  17. @Fraxinicus,

    We can see the spread of DNA from the steppe to India over time – the Swat Valley ADNA shows this, and studies of modern and ancient R1a show that the diversity of branches within India is relatively recent, and that virtually all Indian R1a belongs to a sister clade to Eastern European R1a, and diverged from the European lineages right when the steppe hypothesis would predict. Indian-like R1a is found on the steppe among Scythian nomads, who bear a lot of steppe DNA, and no Indian DNA. In fact, there is no spread of any distinctly Indian genetic markers throughout the rest of the Indo-European speaking world, while we do see R1a, R1b, and/or Yamnaya-like ancestry in virtually every IE-speaking population of Eurasia.

    First things first, we have aDNA from steppe from as early as 24000 YBP ( MA-1). We also have the EHG, the Steppe_EN, the steppe_EMBA and the steppe_MLBA samples in plenty. Contrast this with only aDNA from Swat in South Asia which is still younger than even the Steppe_MLBA. You find both these situations equitable ? Seriously ?

    The ANE (MA-1) type ancestry is not necessarily of steppe origin. It is usually associated with y-dna R, Q and their ancestor P. Y-dna P is deep rooted in SE Asia. While South Asia has deeply divergent clades of y-dna R & Q. South Asia has R2 lineages which are restricted to South Asia and its peripheries in Iran & Central Asia. There are some deeply divergent R1b clades in South & Central Asia. And if you are not already aware, the Underhill paper of 2014, found the greatest basal diveristy of R1a in Iran and not on the steppe. Unfortunately, that Underhill paper took very few samples from South Asia so it was meaningless as far as South Asia is concerned. Indian geneticists, recently in an article in the Hindu newspaper, clearly stated that they have some unpublished data from India which shows R1a basal diversity in South Asians. So therefore there is little evidence to suggest that Indian R1a is derived from Steppe R1a.

    You cannot compare the R1a diversity from ancient steppe with modern R1a diversity in South Asia. You have to compare apples with apples. You cannot compare apples with oranges. Similarly, you have to have a good solid set of aDNA from different periods of history of South Asia, the same way we have for steppe. Only then can a meaningful comparison be made. Trying to forego this legitimate demand is quite frankly totally unfair and dishonest.

    And as far as Indian DNA is concerned, what the hell is ‘Indian DNA’ ? Does it mean that it should have ASI ancestry ? And that anything that does not have ASI ancestry cannot have ancestry from South Asia ? Well, that is a most puerile and pathetic argument. What evidence do we have that the hunter gatherers from South Asia were ASI-like and nothing else. Do we have aDNA from South Asian hunter-gatherers ? We surely do not. So why do we assume that ASI like ancestry is the only ancestry of South Asian hunter-gatherers and every other type of ancestry is intrusive to South Asia ? There is absolutely no basis for this naive assumption.

    And in case you’re wondering, there is indeed ASI ancestry in the steppe_MLBA samples. Look for those Turan -related outliers among the steppe_MLBA group. Read between pages 140-164 of the Supplementary text, especially the terminal portion and also have a look at the tables of qpAdm proximal models for these Turan related outliers. These steppe_mlba clearly had BMAC ancestry and BMAC people had in turn substantial South Asian ancestry.

    As for the steppe-related ancestry in South Asians. let me add this – there is already steppe related ancestry among the Copper Age samples from Central Asia from the current Narasimhan et al paper, which are several centuries older to the Yamnaya. Samples from the site of Sarazm dated to 3600 BCE infact have a very high proportion of steppe related ancestry estimated at 23 %. In contrast, the Swat Iron Age samples, who suppossedly had steppe_mlba admixture only had about 20 % steppe related ancestry.

    Hence, considering the very old ANE (ancestral steppe) related y-dna R & Q subclades in South Asia and considering the early presence of steppe_related ancestry in Central Asia, there is no good reason to believe that some additional steppe ancestry came to South Asia in the 2nd millenium BC unless ofcourse we have good no of samples from the Indus civilization that prove that they had significantly less steppe-related ancestry than the later Iron Age samples.

      1. You may but I would request you to do some work on the quotes I have submitted regarding the linguistic issue. I copy pasted the sections straight from the book linked below it but several words have come out hopelessly mangled. I m talking about the section on Pali language that I quoted. If you could find some way to post the quote from the book just as it is in the book I’ll be very pleased.

  18. I have always found the politics behind AIT/OIT theory controversy to be fascinating and perplexing. What should be an academic debate, just like a hundred other historical migration controversies, has flowered into a major political and ideological debate. The same Steppe people who is supposed to have come into the Indian subcontinent have also migrated to Europe. Does anyone in Europe care whether their culture was partially originated from somewhere else? Are there internet warriors in Europe trying to deny that external factors had influence on them? Why are Europeans not bothered by this while Indians are losing sleep ? But yes there were Europeans who cared about all this, atleast in the past.. That’s exactly what the Nazis claimed. The origin of all things great where from Germany and from there it spread to the world. Isn’t the interest in this kind of debate evidence that OIT theorists believe that their culture is the oldest and best and everything good in the world derived from them? Isn’t this view held by these people just to feel proud of their cultural ancestry? And for some strange reason they want to link this cultural superiority to a geographic area. Doesn’t this geographic linkage and religious underpinnings betray a exclusivist mentality which says we are better than the rest of the world and that all good things come from us? Isnt that what Arya and mleecha are all about? Just like Jews and gentiles.. and Greeks and barbarians..

    Lot of people consider the western civilisation to be the best in the world. But what is the relationship between being the best and geography? West is a mixture of the cultures of Middle east, Greece and Rome. But the current hegemony of western civilisation is centered in the Americas. No one is saying that the current Greece or Italy or the Middle east is somehow special because they contributed to western culture centuries ago. No one is making demands that just because western civilization spans multiple countries all of them have to be under the same political control. Then why is it that when it comes to India(or China) the nationalists are up in arms about national unity because we belong to the same civilisation? It is a historical accident that India is a political entity, especially given the fractured political landscape of ancient and medieval India. Since we live in the modern world all these accidents are frozen in time because we have nearly stopped attacking each other as states or empires. (This is also probably a consequence of western lead capitalism which has rendered attacking other countries for wealth and taxes needless. Now states just tax the corporates who do the figurative ‘invading’)

    Let us grant that the OIT theory is correct. What does that lead to apart from chest thumping? I have no idea what real benefit is there from proving that ancient Indian culture was purely indigenous. USA is hardly 300 years old and is the world’s foremost superpower. Being ancient has nothing to with the current status of a country. Given the amount of patriotic display they put up, being ancient has nothing to with nationalistic sentiment of a country too. Even if ancient civilisation started in India, present day India is still the same third world country with millions of poor people. And whatever progress India( or China) has made or is going to make in the future is completely dependent on non indigenous technology, science and political and economic arrangements. What is this culture that we are debating about which is supposed to be the pinnacle of human achievement? It is a semi nomadic or agricultural or semi urban( at best) society many millennia ago who had none of the modern developments. How is a society without modern science, medicine, electricity, telecommunication, education or travel be even a shadow of our present capabilities? Won’t we just laugh at them if Egyptians start to claim that their ancient civilisation was unique and superior to the present. Sure they had their bright flashes, but lets call a spade a spade. They, like ancient Indian and Greek and Chinese civilisations were primitive societies with a minimal fraction of the knowledge, technology and prosperity that we have today.

    They may respond that it was the best in its time and would have developed if not for foreign invasions. As I specified earlier, does the fact that Greece and Rome are considered to be the best ancient civilizations by a lot of people mean anything to the present day countries of Greece and Italy who have nearly become economic basket cases? And what more evidence of a weak civilisation than its inability to defend its borders against multiple invaders? But I am conceding unwarranted ground by assuming an ancient unified political entity in India. There were only multiple distinct political empires and kingdoms at constant warfare with each other leading to ever changing boundaries.

    Even if what they are saying is true, isn’t the fact that a lot of these people are willing to spent huge amounts of time and energy to somehow prove that their ancestors were a great civilization 5000 years ago proof that they are more concerned with feeling proud than being concerned about the current state of the country. Isn’t this a kind of modern form of ancestor worship and search for identity? This seems to be a variety of identity politics that the right wing apparently hates. Aren’t we supposed to search for the truth dispassionately instead of trying to prove ‘my ancestors are greatest’? Why should I be concerned about what my ancestors(whose personal details I have no idea about) believed or did? Why should i follow the religion of my parents? I should follow what I find to be true. Not what I learn from my parents because of the accident of my birth. Surely the geographic separation of different religions is one of the strongest arguments against the truth of any of the conventional religions. How is this notion that Indian subcontinent belong to one cultural and religious tradition defensible? Should USA be limited to christians and middle east to muslims? What role should these kind of tribal systems of thought play in the modern world given that we live in a hyperconnected world where all cultures are constantly in flux, especially given the disproportionate contribution of the west to these countries?

    One favourite response and underlying premise of OIT is that ‘we have always been here’. Who is this ‘we’? Obviously it is not a genetics based identity since they reject their kinsmen who have become Christians or Muslims or leftists. This is a crucial clue to the totalitarian nature of these cultures. Their own flesh and blood will be considered second class or anti national beacause they chose a different religion or political stance. To me the ‘we’ looks like a religious/ culture based identity. If so, why should a particular religion or culture have hegemony over some geographic area? That is derived from the old tribal mindset. All this would make sense at least in a pragmatic sense to avoid societal instability, But surely it doesn’t have anything to do with the truth. The Christians who objected to Osho s ashram in USA were using the same logic. But we have to also keep in mind that these same people who want to protect their culture are at the forefront of inviting in global capitalism and modern technology to work their magic on India. What more effective way of destroying any indigenous culture?!!

    All this does not mean that ancient India did not have some real achievements and unique developments to its credit. Its contributions to mathematics, logic and philosophy are nothing short of phenomenal for that period. But we should keep things in perspective when comparing with the accomplishments of the modern world. Any one who has read Greek or scholastic philosophy knows the rigour of thought in these traditions and also how similar(and different) they are to Indian philosophical thought. But hardly any one is contending that medieval christian philosophy or greek mathematics makes them ‘best’ in any sense.

    1. It’s the pride factor. It’s in the nature of us humans to feel good about ourselves. It is a positive emotion that gives force for further endeavour. Our social science education architecture is devoid of this. My experience shows that there is nothing in our social science subjects at schools that acknowledges achievements of our ancestors save a cursory mention here and there. School kids are likely to be more familiar with names such as Pythogorous, Aristotle, Plato Tec rather than Shankara, Ramanuja, panini susrushta. Even Arybhatta is just a staple recall of a great mathematician after whom India’s first satellite has been named. All this is a blowback of this aspect…..as we mature as a prosperous stable confident political entity, these talks would recede into academic realms.

    2. AQH, I am unfamiliar with the controversies you describe. The historicity of ancient Itihasas, Puranas, ancient languages, ancient cultures can exist independent of human genealogy. Why can’t ethnic south east Asians or ethnic Tibetans be the descendants of Arya people described in old accounts?

      “But we have to also keep in mind that these same people who want to protect their culture are at the forefront of inviting in global capitalism and modern technology to work their magic on India. What more effective way of destroying any indigenous culture?!!”

      Globalization, capitalism and trans national business law are in many ways similar to the economic systems prevailing during the life of Krishna. Where do you think modern business culture came from?

      Much more importantly globalization, capitalism and trans national business law massively benefit the global poor. In fact this is the primary cause of opposition to globalization, capitalism and trans national business law. The fear is that this will empower the global poor, surge their capacity, allow them to become rich. Many people around the world are deathly afraid of this and are willing to go to great lengths to stop it.

      My own view is that globalization will empower local communities to customize globalization to their local circumstances and characteristics and lead to a renaissance of ancient civilization, language, art, and culture.

      1. Hi AnAn,
        I think we are coming at this from completely different starting points. There is definitely nothing that can be said in the space of a few blog comments which can bridge the gulf between our viewpoints. And I am already kicking myself for spending a long time writing blog comments while I am supposed to be preparing for an interview. Hope I can come back some time in the future and continue the debate. Like many others I am just an amateur in these topics who have been reading BP for some time but never commented. I have always been more interested in the meta questions of the OIT/AIT debate. ‘Lurk mode’ back on!!

        1. AQH, pray interview goes well. Interviews are partly determined by how well we use our intuition (one aspect of which is now described as “G” or General Intelligence). When we relax into using more of our brains, we can understand the world and other people closer to as they really are. We can understand others better than they understand themselves.

          I liked your comment by the way and look forward to future discussions with you. You were alluding to why study humanities, history, language, culture, civilization, philosophy; versus practical subjects such as hard sciences. Good question.

  19. Who cares why some Indians want a local origin for the Arya. They are ones with a deep inferiority complex. Even if the Arya came from Central Asia and were ( sort of) white guys, it does not reduce the civilisational achievements of the Indians which are purely local. The Indo-Aryan migration or movement of mostly Indo-European speaking men here from Central Asia is the truth. They mixed with an already mixed population of Ancient Ancestral South Indians and Iranian-origin farmers ( perhaps ancient Dravidians) – and this has been virtually established by science. Satyameva Jayate as Gandhi said – let the truth prevail!

    1. How were the Arya, “white”?

      I don’t know what they looked like but they certainly weren’t the Germanic or Slavic looking types possibly more like Caucasians and/or Anatolians.

      We should be careful to apply such racial terms

      1. Zachary Latif
        + 100

        I think we should also remain open to the possibility that some Arya lineages were the ancestors of modern Tibetans, South east Asians, West Asians or Africans. According to the ancient texts there are many different Arya lineages with presumably significantly different DNA. Of course none of this might be true as well.

      2. White is not a genetic term, but the Aryans (Steppe_MLBA) were pretty much Europeans. They were 3/4 Yamnaya and 1/4 Farmer, whereas today’s Northern Europeans are about 2/4 Yamnaya and 2/4 Farmer.
        Also, they came from Europe.
        About Caucasians and Anatolians, the Aryans were definetely different from them and closer to Northern Europeans.

        This image here shows the proximity:


        1. I would be very dubious about such terminology but it’s ur origins not mine! I’m happy with camel traders from the Hijaz!!

        2. CAREFUL!

          You are mixing Indo-Europeans with Aryans. No “Aryan” identity in the (Pontic) Steppe. Arya were a BMAC thing.

      3. One thing I hate is this use of genetics to throw off the belief/culture system. That is what this is being used for, here the left is using racist view of genetics to attack belief system. I have seen this that when the left is defensive, it uses post modernism lingo, when it wishes to attack, it makes attack on some “inherent” basis it attaches to groups it wishes to undermine. reich for example doesnt seem to realize, Buddha called his noble path as arya marga.~ The path of Aryas, same with jains.

    2. Lol sorry but would like to point out just a very minor factual error in your post- Satyameva Jayate (‘Truth Alone Truimphs’), which is the motto of the Republic of India is a part of a mantra taken from the Mundaka Upanishad.

  20. Why do Indians care about OIT/AIT –

    1) Orientalism – The earlier description of the theory was Oriental in nature to justify the colonialism in the name of historicity of ‘Foreign Rulers & Indian Natives’. – Since colonizers choose AIT nationalists chose OIT.

    2) It’s worldwide appropriation in race theories & It’s links to Nazism. – OIT would have meant that the basis on which Aryan, race & Nazi links were established would have been proven false.

    3) Indian politics –
    a) North South divide – North = Arya, South = Dravida or Non-Arya aka Natives
    b) Caste Divide = Moolnivasi {Native Indians} Vs Manuvaadi {Aryans with Caste system}

    So basically the real division is because the study into it started with Oriental narratives during colonial oppression as justification for colonialism, followed by links to race theories & appropriation by Nazis, later used for political purposes i.e. Caste division, have resulted in turning it into political slug-fest instead of general Scientific Endeavor.

    1. “3) Indian politics –
      a) North South divide – North = Arya, South = Dravida or Non-Arya aka Natives”

      You are overemphasising the so-called North-South ‘Divide’ . ‘ Dravida’ referred ethonologically to the Pancha Dravida brahmins ; this included brahmins of Gujarat and Maharastra. 19th Century ametuer linguist Rev Caldwell mistakenly thought it referred to the four large south Indian languages and named the linguitic group as ‘ Dravidian family’ and as was the prevalent notion of 19th century thinkers , he conflated the linguistic group with a racial group. From a purely linguistic angle , his identification of the linguistic group is right, but wrongly named it and even more atrociouly mistook it for a race.

      It is testament to the success of the the 19th century colonial categories that western mistakes have become creed for a section of Indians.

      However , the bald ‘ Arya-Dravida’ division is prevalent only in Tamilnadu, and not in other south India states; that too it is politically hyped up. The irony is the Tamil literature knows no word called Dravida till late 19th century under colonial instruction.

      Political froth from Tamilnadu should not be mistaken as the opinion of majority of people. The majority of Hindus have refrained from taking control the social and historical narrative or even challenging the prevalent narratives which are of 19th century western provenance. That is their mistake. I don’t think the so-called ‘Out of India’ theory is the solution. One nonsense cannot be fought with another nonsense. Wherever you see nonsense , be relentless in challenging and exposing it.

      The so-called ‘arya-dravida’ divide has no histotical basis – however such toxic narartives need exposing . The narrative of “arya-dravida” divide in Tamilnadu is high decibel and aggressive – it gets more aggressive as it’s historical basis is non-existant and it is running on empty. History is made by aggressive lies in the short run – Satyameva Jayate is a pious hope

      1. Hello,
        Just as an exercise for mutual amusement (if you are okay with it of course), could you suggest any other reasonable names for the language family comprising of South Dravidian-I (Tulu, Kannada, Tamil-Malayalam, Toda, etc.), South Dravidian-II (Konda, Telugu, Kui-Kuvi, Pengo, Gondi, etc.), Central Dravidian (Kolami, Parji, Gadaba, Ollari, etc.) and North Dravidian (Kurukh, Malto, Brahui)? The term “Dravidian” is well-entrenched and cannot be uprooted and need not be too, in linguistics, but I just became curious.

        I have majorly the following thoughts in mind about the term “Dravidian”:
        1. The use of “Pancha Dravida” to refer to some communities of Brahmins, as you said, from the regions roughly including the areas of major literary languages (but not most of the non-literary languages)
        2. Its origins being etymologically non-native (Sanskrit) gives it an air of neutrality- otherwise the very passionate Tamil scholars if they one day found out about the relationship between all these languages having serendipitiously developed comparative linguistics on their own not unlike the William Jones story, would have named it something like Tamilic group of languages or the Kumari Kandam family or the Lemuric Languages lol. Then Karnataka definitely would have banned all research on the newly discovered Lemuric Languages.
        3. However, Dravida also historically referred to places where Tamil-Malayalam was spoken and this continues to irk the people of Karnataka (and also the Telugu regions?) quite a bit even today.
        4. Dravidian if understood to mean someone from the peninsula, then leaves out most non-literary languages.

        One of the major reasons is the lack of knowledge of native names for the olden Dravidian stages-the etymologies of Tamil (lol I know that the l in the end is a retroflex approximant), Kannada, Telugu are unclear except for Kannada which means ‘of the black-soil land’; many non-literary languages appear to have words related to ‘mountain’ as their native names- Kui, Kuvi, Konda, Gondi in South Dravidian-II, Malto in North Dravidian, some languages seem to share native names with surrounding Munda tribes like Kondekor Gadaba being Central Dravidian and Gutob Gadaba being Munda, etc. So even if it is beginning to appear that the old Dravidians’ self-identifiers may have had something to do with words for ‘mountain’, we can’t be sure of this- after all, it is perfectly possible that only ‘mountain’ Dravidian languages survived and the ‘plain’ Dravidian languages went extinct in the South Dravidian-II (excluding Telugu whose name really seems to have a good chance at being derivable from Sanskrit “Trilinga”; other alternatives are from root *ceL- ‘sesame’ (cf. Kannada eLLu, ‘sesame’) turning into *teL in the ancestor of Telugu (cf. telaka piNDi, ‘oilseed flour’) ), and perhaps North Dravidian. And then, there is the problem that none wants to confront (even me, hurrah!)-if the word “tamiZ” indeed turns out be the native name of the Dravidian main body all along, then we can simply discard it again for obvious reasons lol.

        So what even are the alternatives, I wonder here. If it turns out later on that Proto-Dravidian was spoken in the Krishna-Tungabhadra Doab, then perhaps something like Kanhapenna or Krishnaveni group of languages may be apt. If on the other hand, it turns out that it was spoken in the Indus (all Tamil extremists say yay! lol) after all, then again this exercise needs to be scrapped for obvious reasons- in such case, perhaps something like Indo-Krishna may be thought of as compromise, if the Krishna indeed had some role in dispersing the Proto-Dravidian people who came southwards. But bare Indus should never even be considered as it is extremely unwise for it to be used that way in this time period.

        Some other alternatives maybe Kuic group of languages (I’m very biased towards my own South Dravidian-II lol) if it turns out that old Dravidians indeed attached a bit of an importance to mountains.

        But really though, “Dravidian” seems better than most of these, though it may be ultimately because we are all so used to that word.

    2. I shared the general reasons why people contest these theories or how they are used politically from a North Indian perspective so thanks for broadening my understanding of the issue as South Indian insider’s perspectives. I am in favor of the term Aryan Migration theory but not in Aryan Invasion theory because the first shows considerations for various probabilities which may or may not have happened in the exact same way as we are interpreting the results from data & results constantly change as more data gets introduced.

      Secondly AIT is Orientalist in nature & has been used for various nefarious purposes since it’s inception, so it is better to replace it with a term that is much more considerate about all historical possibilities {& no I am not denying any form of Invasion but naming it only on invasion was a calculated colonial move from which we have to move away from for serious Historical research of Indian subcontinent’s past.}

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