Memory outlives flesh

In the comments below a reader asks a legitimate question: why the focus on Indo-Aryans when the most probably model suggests that even among the most “Aryan” of South Asian groups the ancestry attributable to the Andronovo-Sintashta people are only on the order of 30%? In most of northern South Asia, the fraction is probably closer to 10%, and it is far lower in the south (there is a concomitant varna gradient as well).

The exact point estimate will change, but it is almost assured that most of the ancestry of Indo-Aryan speaking South Asians is going to derive from the people who were resident within the Indian subcontinent when the Indo-Aryans arrived. So why the arguments and debates about Indo-Arans?

To understand this I will move the discussion out of a South Asian context first:

O most valiant and blessed martyrs! O truly called and elected unto the glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ! Which glory he that magnifies, honors and adores, ought to read these witnesses likewise, as being no less than the old, unto the Church’s edification; that these new wonders also may testify that one and the same Holy Spirit works ever until now, and with Him God the Father Almighty, and His Son Jesus Christ Our Lord, to Whom is glory and power unending for ever and ever. Amen.

– Perpetua

The above is the conclusion of the witness and statement of St. Perpetua, a young Christian woman martyred by the Roman authorities on account of her faith. For over 1,000 years Christians have identified with and drawn strength from Perpetua. Young Catholic women in Poland cry to this day when they read her story. The story of Perpetua is their story in some deep way.

When Perpetua was being sent to her death, the ancestors of the Polish women who identify so great with her were pagans, practicing slash and burn agriculture south of the Baltic shore. They were worshipping and venerating gods which in fact held a distant relationship to those of the Rig Veda!

Many of us may laugh at the fact that Pakistanis venerate Muhammad bin Qasim , when if he were alive today he likely have contempt for the “black crows” which bow down before the Arab god (Qasim lived before a more universalistic Islam emerged, and when the sect was very much a cult of the Arabs of the Arabs). Similarly, the origin priests of the Indo-Aryans would probably look with confusion and bewilderment at the “black” people speaking with their voice.

But speak they do! The power of the Indo-Aryans is the power of memory over flesh. In the Bible, Ruth states that “thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried…”

What language did the mleccha speak? I am convinced that some of them surely spoke dialects related to those of southern India, though the existence of Burushashki points to greater complexities than we may imagine. What gods did they worship? There are suppositions one can make about the non-Aryan elements of Indian culture. They are likely numerous, constitutive to an understanding of Indian culture, but they are the background. The frame.

In the foreground is the name and the speech of the Aryans. The very words which roll off our tongues, and the memories of the heroes of yore. The Aryans obtained their cultural immortality by implanting in the other peoples of the Indian subcontinent their speech, their mythos, and their very identity.

57 thoughts on “Memory outlives flesh”

  1. At the danger of appearing (and being) too naive and stupid, I sometimes think there was something that is inherently very different and special about the Indo-Aryan branch of Indo-Europeans. They seem like they were pristine in some way compared to all other peoples surrounding them, unaffected by what they considered (in my view, many times, rightly) to be bad and to be avoided. Their cultural conservatism was a very self-confident and highly dignified one. They developed strong notions of just war quite early on. In the case of non-Indo-Aryans, the Indo-Aryans themselves likely did not bother about them (just wanting a peaceful life for themselves to live in anywhere) very much except for those initial few invasions/missions (likely dating back to the times of the Indus collapse and later the migrations of Hindu sages and Buddhist and Jain monks throughout the country); it’s likely the non-Indo-Aryans themselves who ended up being enchanted by their ways and mass-converting themselves into Indo-Aryan fold in many cases. I don’t know where they really got it all from but the ancient Indo-Aryans somehow must have oozed the purest of the sattva-rajas combo of qualities; confident, fearless and ethical.

    1. soma is probably not indo-european. BMAC.

      sanskrit is super conservative linguistically

      1. Probably deeply knowledgeable philologists are aware of the influence of BMAC on the early Indo-Aryan peoples. It really is a very intriguing topic; to myself it sometimes seems Indo-Aryans were that branch of Indo-Iranians who rose above and beyond the cultural pressures from (the last stages of the) BMAC, to the extent that they could, while Irano-Aryans probably ended up getting more immersed in that culture (based on the meagre reading of Asko Parpola that I did).

        Yes, Vedic Sanskrit’s conservatism is probably a kind arisen out of a conscious Indo-European cultural conservatism as opposed to, say, Baltic linguistic conservatism which probably did not involve much of a conscious cultural component, but then I don’t know much about Pre-Christian Lithuania, etc.

      2. // sanskrit is super conservative linguistically //

        May i ask how did you came to this conclusion ? Sanskrit has transformed a lot like every other language that has sustained for a long periods among large regions & large populations.

        This paper actually discusses about the emergence of Sanskrit as a result of Language standardization process –

        Jan E.M. Houben*
        Linguistic Paradox and Diglossia : the emergence of Sanskrit and Sanskritic language in Ancient India
        Received December 1, 2017; accepted February 20, 2018

        How does it fits into your understanding of Sasnkrit as conservative linguistically ?

    2. @Santosh You always leave me wondering, if you are writing parody or not. You list one assumption after another with neither much intuitive reasoning nor citing any hard data.

      1. Santosh (or should I call him saMtoSa in the shiSTa Arya manner) is quite right about IA being in some respects quite different from other IE branches:

        a) They were *super* conservative in speech (as Razib also mentions)
        b) Seemed to have developed a franchise model of Arya-hood very quickly, i.e. generalising from the narrow tribal/ethnic definition to include anyone following the right vAk (speech) and vrata (ritual/culture) as Arya. This was later picked up and used in explicitly religious contexts by Jainism and Buddhism.
        c) Creation of a rigid priesthood tasked with *oral* production and compilation of copious amounts of literature.

        I think an obvious result of these innovations is that Indo-Aryan is the most successful of all IE branches. The need for these innovations themselves I believe lies in the fact that the original IA immigrants from BMAC found themselves in a far bigger sea of people (inhabitants of the sub-continent) than any of their IE counterparts encountered. So it was a survival by co-option strategy more than anything else. Indo-Aryans indigenised – their best stories being about rulers in modern day Punjab, Haryana and Western UP – unlike other Central Asians (esp after Islam), which is why their cultural legacy is deep and profound irrespective of their genetic contribution.

        1. Okay what you say makes good sense to me. The innovative Indo-Aryan strategy to try to co-opt varied peoples into their own fold based on limited eligibility criteria involving language, ritual, etc. may have appeared quite better to people seeking protection and belonging in new tribes/groups compared to the other options provided by any rival non-Indo-Aryan tribes of that period who perhaps were more untrusting of outsiders, always insisted on wars among different groups, on presence of close biological affinities, etc. to be a member of the group, etc.? Indeed we don’t have the stories and strategies of the unsuccessful non-Indo-Aryan groups of yore to listen to in this day and our biases make some of us think the Indo-Aryans were probably the most bad and invasive and all that of the lot while in actuality they may have been quite appropriately and innovatively liberal (those savvy immigrants after all lol; evil immigrants always take away your jobs!) compared to the more deeply entrenched and ineffective conservative models and attitudes of the non-Indo-Aryan rival elites of northern Indian yore perhaps.

          Thank you very much for the comment! I learned a very new thing today with the help of you (even if it is the case that you did not yourself suggest this, forgive me because I like this idea very much haha).

        2. I wrote a comment here but it can’t be seen: anyway, the gist of it was that I learned a new thing from you today – it’s that probably people seeking protection and belonging in a new tribe/group in the weakened northern India of the period felt more comfortable joining Indo-Aryans compared to the rival non-Indo-Aryans who may have had more conservative policies like not being open to outsiders at all, being very combative as opposed to cooperative, etc. when compared to Early Indo-Aryans who at least would be open to you if you adopted their language and ritual. This may very well be an important part of this patron-client relationship model that people talk about but I never could intuit the possible mechanics of it. Thank you very much for your comment.

      2. Haha you can perhaps say I just am a dreamy little fellow at my heart with low levels of discipline and rigour. I intuit a lot and boy do I intuit very strongly and take my intuitions very seriously. Lol!

        You ask for intuitive reasoning for the first comment, and it is as follows: as a south Indian I know how much south Indians are obsessed by Indo-Aryans during their free time. While (modern) Tamil people are obsessively against them, the rest of us are more classically obsessed by them but the fact of the matter is that we are all obsessed with them. To me it seems similar sorts of things may have happened in the past as well. Something like the dialogues which exist in some of these movies: “you can either love him or hate him but never ignore him”. This is one source of my ideas. There are several such sources that I draw from, elements from all of which mixed together in crazy ways and concocted to get different types of wizardly brews. Haha!

        I am aware of the more normal and standard interpretations in history but I find them very boring. Like, say, the Indo-Aryans were these super-human racists who single-handedly instituted the caste system and assigned all the bad occupations to the high-AASI people while fully capturing the nice jobs for themselves (and their Dravidian collaborators) or something. Of course it may very well be true. Or rather, the truth is more somewhere-in-the-middle-like, with probably high-level-technology Indo-Aryans winning legitimate wars over low-level-technology high-AASI peoples in northern India and elsewhere and everyone finding what they thought was the best way which they all got locked into; or some similar type of weird stuff happening. But I also sometimes wonder about the alternatives: to what extent were the non-Indo-Aryan groups themselves were highly conservative and simply might have been an unbearable pain to the elite Indo-Aryans with their super-cool Vedanta, Buddhism, Jainism, etc. and refused to adapt the Indo-Aryan religion wholesale (Deep Bhatnagar talks about this sometimes too)? And such similar questions. Granted it is probably very sinful (from the point of view of a modern humanist ethical perspective) to think of it like this but that’s how I sometimes behave lol. It maybe the case that though I refuse to accept it, I actually have a deep underlying desire to troll. Lol!

        1. I just don’t talk about it i also share the sources of these ideas like research papers or video discussions by scholars & try to use varied disciplines to show the multiplicity of possibilities.

  2. A little bit like Arab and Persian heritage in South Asian Muslims, they imprinted the culture so thoroughly that claiming blood connections, however tenuous, is prized among the vanquished. The big difference is that Arab and Persia are current geo-political entity and not very successful like before. So the zeal of heritage may be a lot tempered. One can only guess what would be current culture in South Asia if a more-or-less pure Indo European country existed somewhere Central Asia (a significant country, not a small enclaves like those Caucasian small states).

    1. That is not a good analogy. What Persian or Arabic story centres around Lahore or Dhaka that rural Pakistani or Bangladeshi villagers tell each other?

      On the other hand, one can find millions of Indian villagers who not only recount these stories in Indo-Aryan languages but are willing to kill for them. That is not a result of planting a foreign culture, but of creating a new one locally.

      1. My comment was in response to Razib’s last line- “The Aryans obtained their cultural immortality by implanting in the other peoples of the Indian subcontinent their speech, their mythos, and their very identity”. I feel that there is a general level, crude comparison with Arab-Persian heritage in South Asia. Hinduism may had been created within South Asia but it also probably has strong connections to Indo-European culture of 2000 BC.

        1. “Hinduism may had been created within South Asia but it also probably has strong connections to Indo-European culture of 2000 BC.”

          I don’t think that’s true. I think the connections are nominal and tenuous at best. Even the connections between modern day Hinduism and the pre-Buddhist Vedic religion are somewhat limited, much less the early Vedic religion (1500 BC) and whatever Proto Indo Iranian religion that existed before that.

          1. There is now way to determine how much of the formation is foreign and how much is indigenous or pre existing. It could be all foreign or could be all pre existing.

            For example Shiva for some, is a pre Aryan deity. He could be, or perhaps he isn;t . How much amalgamation went through would never be known unless the indus script is decoded to know.more.

      2. That is not a good analogy. Across hindustan, Muslims tell stories about saints, poets, and warriors in Allahabad, Ajmer, or Lahore. And are creating a new culture locally, if you can wait three thousand years.

        Less obtusely, for the cheap seats: the second round of Central Asian influence on india (the Islamic influx) was relatively heavier on religion and lighter on language than the first round (the Aryan influx). But both brought in the same types of new elements (gods, tongues, foods and genes) to combine with the local substrate, and are roughly analogous for many purposes, considering vastly differing time depth.

        1. the genetic impact is probably two orders of magnitude different summing across india.

          1. Yes.
            Lots of memory. Very little flesh.

            (I need to cut my comments down to be shorter than the jump).

        2. @Ikram

          I normally trust your views, but I think you are off on this one mate.

          a) The stories of indigenous pirs and babas etc are indeed a feature of Indian Islam, but they are not a central feature of it – compared to say the Gurus’ and other Punjabi pirs’ sayings are central to Sikhism. Indian Islam is still too strongly correlated with a foreign culture for it to be called anywhere near as indigenous as Hinduism (or Sikhism etc) is. Maybe with Pakistan, Indic Islam can finally take root but this has to be seen.

          b) The time-evolution point is also misleading because we do have Greeks reporting about India roughly a 1000 years after the earliest Vedic period. If anything Indika remarks Indians saying that their country never invaded others and was never invaded by others. Heck! even the earliest Vedic scripture is situated in Greater Punjab – a territory shared by India and Pakistan. Compare that to Anglo-Saxon myths like Beowulf (set in Scandinavia).

          The Arya are just not analogous. They aren’t just best remembered in India, but *wholly* remembered in India as forefathers. And that remembrance is a strong function of the orthodox priesthood that continues to date.

          1. True. Aryas in India considered themselves unique, son (and daughter) of soil, had all their sacred persons and places in India, had no knowledge any migrations from out side India, had no knowledge of any Arya (or any ‘brethren’) in Iran or elsewhere. Whatever the genetics , cultural memory and memory of cultural continuity trumps Linguistics or Genetics or History , 99.99% of which comes from the western world in the last 200 years anyway.

          2. Slaptik, then you’re not going to like my contention that the guru granth sahib are the Vedas of Indian Islam, and that Sikhism is about what you would expect would happen when Punjabis meet the Prophet. (I would say Ahmadis, but people get upset).

            Too far? Ok. I would still say “analogous”, but I agree that it is a broad analogy, with specific and limited parallels given the huge difference in the central Asian waves into India.

          3. But Indian muslims had met the prophet long before Sikhism was there. Also to think that Indian islam is only about Punjabis meeting the prophet is a bit like saying Hinduism is Gangetic belt meeting Ram.

            Subcontinental islam is more UP central + Sindh before Punjab (Deoband and all)

    2. One issue (perhaps a decisive one) is that India possessed far more productive resources than Central Asia. So any stable political entity in the sub continent would have quickly become richer than even the largest Central Asian state. A bit like the US and England.

      But I feel that the rupture was deeper and things moved rapidly after the emergence of Sramanic religions in India, perhaps their emergence itself was a result of India’s relatively easier prosperity.

      This tension is eventually going to exist between South Asian Muslims and other Perso-Arabic peoples as well. Wealth is eventually created by labor, and the combined population of Pakistan and Bangladesh is equal to the entire Arab world and Central Asia.

      1. Yes, it centainly may. Centrality of Arabs in Islamic identity got another modern boost because of Oil wealth in 20th century. If peripheral Muslim countries develop and become confident, a weakening of Aarab identity may be in cards. Already there is talk of boycotting Haj (a central pillar of Islam) because of wanton autocracy and atrocieties in Yemen by audi regime.

  3. The comparison with Christian Europe and Islamic Persia/Pakistan can only go so far. Jesus Christ is still the central figure or European Christianity (and indeed Western Civilization) and Muhammad, the final and ultimate authority (character wise) for Persian and Pakistani Muslims.

    In contrast, the hero god of the Indo-Europeans Indra/Thor/Thunar/Iupiter is at best a funny sidekick for the literary and spiritual universe of Hindus today. The Mahabharata and Ramayana glorify cow tenders and wandering ascetics, not nomadic pastoralists.

    There is a process of give and take here that is far deeper than ‘non-Aryan’ simply being a background.

  4. “Similarly, the origin priests of the Indo-Aryans would probably look with confusion and bewilderment at the “black” people speaking with their voice.

    But speak they do! The power of the Indo-Aryans is the power of memory over flesh.”

    Don’t agree. The oldest narrative record of what might be called “Arya” or “Aryan” or “Aria” comes from about 15 saints and their people. The Buddha named 12 of these (Kapila, Agastya {who many Tamilians believe founded Tamil} and the famous 10 Vedic sages).

    99.9% of what these 15 saints (and their people) were has been lost to the sands of time, perhaps. But we know something about them.

    And I seriously don’t think they would have looked in confusion and bewilderment at anyone speaking in their voice..

    They are described as living far, far away and coming in ships. THEY CAME TO TEACH. They were great sages. They are described so oddly (in physical size, appearance, life span) that some think they were aliens.

    Many of them also feature prominently in Sumerian literature. Some might appear prominently in ancient Egyptian literature, but I need to study more to verify.


    As to the concept of “mleccha”. I need to go by memory. The phrase appears to have becoming more popular in the narrative history in the thousand years before the birth of Krishna, although I think it exists in far older texts too.

    I understand the word to refer to people from the far west and far north west. Specifically “Kalayavanas” or dark Yavanas (maybe Africans?), fair Yavanas (Europeans), Tushara (Xinjiang or east of Xinjiang), the people of Mt Soma and Uttara Kuru (Ural mountains? caucuses?).

    And that too not all of them. Since many great saints/sages come from these parts of the world too. I think it refers to those who choose not learn sanskritized languages and follow the Dharmic way.

    I don’t remember hearing “mleccha” used for Adivasi (is this Munda?), Tamilians, Javanese. The Javanese are treated as Aryans in the Valmiki Ramayana. I am not sure what the ancient words were for Cambodia, Loas, Vietnam in the older texts. I presume the Thais might be included as part of the Javanese.

    To summarize I believe that “mleccha” generally refers to far west rather than to “east”.

    The Greeks and Kushans were called “Mleccha” by contemporaries.

    “Mleccha” is not necessarily a criticism. More a recognition that a people prefer a different western culture.


    What do you think the 15 ancient sages (and their people) were trying to teach?

  5. Good topic, good intro-text, very briefly, will come back with more…

    To be specific…Polish (=‘fielders’ i.e. ‘people from the fields’) did not exist in Roman time. There were only Serbian tribes around Baltic and Pomerania (even Baltic at that time was called Serbian sea). A group of Serbian tribes which were forcefully converted to Christianity and later into Catholicism (future Polish) also with brute force helped to convert remaining Serbian pagan tribes. I think that such rigid Catholicism made Polish people very dumb, If I am not mistaken they are (I have been told) assumed as the dumbest ethnic community in US with many jokes (equivalent to Bosnian muslims in Balkan).
    The total confusion of terms, I can hardly catch what is it about.

    Indo-Aryans? > Are they Aryans who came to today’s India (and Pakistan)?
    Indo-Aryans were branch of Indo-Iranians? > What does it mean?
    Irano-Aryans? > Are they Aryans who came to today’s Iran? Why none talk about Tibeto-Aryans, Afgano-Aryans, Chino-Aryans, etc?
    Baltic linguistic conservativism??? > What is this, which period, what is the significance?
    Indo-Europeans in 2000BC? > Who are they, where they come from, which language they speak, what is their haplogroup, what is there ‘Indo’, what is their relationship with Aryans?

    1. “made Polish people very dumb”
      Good thing that the Serbs are the smartest people in the Universe, to make up for the Poles, huh.

      1. You even do not try to hide your serbofobia in every your appearance here. I have never said that Serbs are the smartest people in the Universe. Polish are the nearest cousins and friends of Serbs and there never been any issue in history. There are also a very brave nation but not very smart. During the 2nd WW for eg. they were fighting in Italy in front of Americans. So many of them got killed but a whole glory for wins (eg Mt Casino) took Americans. Thousands of times in their history Serbs were naïve and dumb and because of their naivety they were many times subjected to genocides which decimated them.

        However, I have been told by couple Americans that in US they are often subject of jokes (so as Irish in Australia). They are probably not dumb as Bosniacs are (they are for real) with several thousands of jokes about them. However, every time when they appear as Catholics, their extremism (stronger than Latino Americans’) make them to look pretty dumb.

    2. “I think that such rigid Catholicism made Polish people very dumb, If I am not mistaken they are (I have been told) assumed as the dumbest ethnic community in US with many jokes (equivalent to Bosnian muslims in Balkan).”


      Citation needed. Inconsistent with my experience.

  6. / the origin priests of the Indo-Aryans would probably look with confusion and bewilderment at the “black” people speaking with their voice./
    Even assuming ‘voice’ here refers to language ( even though American voices are different from British or Australian voices) , their confusion would have been due to natural evolution of language and not just skin colour , even if that factor were true.

  7. No chance of anologising Islam with Hinduism or Christianity. With Islam you buy the 7th century Arabic culture as modified by Prophet Mohammed. All the Islamic world’s concerns are tied to Arabic concerns. There is not a single Muslim country or a large Muslim community which explicitly recognizes and happy with Israel . Islamic idea of Umma is a great idea , OTOH all the Umma narratives are controlled by Arabs and Middle East.

  8. I’m curious to know- does the 10% steppe average mean a 10% Indo-Aryan genetic component, or a 10% IE component? What I mean to say is, I assume (and this could be wrong) that the ethnogenesis of the Indo-Aryans must have occurred at a point when the IE ancestry was already diluted with something else (so IA is not quite the same as IIr or IE). And whatever ancestry mix they had when they entered South Asia is what would have spread throughout the region with the IA expansion (plus stuff they later picked up as they rolled into Central, Eastern, and even Southern India).

    Is some fraction of what we call IA perhaps, say, Neolithic Iranian- e.g. do South Asians have a “double dose” of NI? Or something else?

  9. As long as we don’t have ancient DNA from the Vedic period, the word Indo-Aryan will always be an abused term. I use the word Aryan to refer to the original unmixed Steppes people (before they mixed with Indus folk).

    After that, everything is an Arya-Dasa mix and using ‘Aryan’ as a racial or even ethnic term is problematic, especially considering that the later Vedic period is clearly a hybrid society, with arguably more native Indus culture in an Arya garb.

    1. / I use the word Aryan to refer to the original unmixed Steppes people (before they mixed with Indus folk)./

      How can you use a word on your own terms which is neither scientific , let us say genetic , or even religious/cultural of the Indian world.

      What makes you think there was an unadulterated gene which mixed with IVC people. If ever there was a people speaking IE , even they could be mixed of many genes , just as Hindi or Bengali or English speakers today have a genetic variation.

      IE language is reconstructed and IE people is another speculation based on a reconstructed language.

      IE language is myth agreed upon by linguists

      1. “How can you use a word on your own terms which is neither scientific , let us say genetic , or even religious/cultural of the Indian world.”

        Ok to be more accurate the ‘original Aryans’.

        When most people refer to Aryan outside of India, they refer to the steppes people who entered the Indian subcontinent circa 1500 BC. They carried no indigenous south asian genes when they first entered India.

        These people called themselves Arya. So did their cousins who ventured into Iran.

        Yes their mixed progeny in India continued to call themselves Arya.

        But when people use the term ‘Indo-Aryan’ in modern parlance they mean it in a racial sense, not in the loose ethnic, cultural, honourable sense that term Arya came to mean in ancient India.

        And to call a population which is predominantly Indus in genetic origin an Indo-Aryan race is a fallacy.

        1. / use the term ‘Indo-Aryan/.
          The Only legitimate use of this term is modern linguistic. Ie staring from Vedic to present day languages.

        2. I’m talking specifically about the Indo-Aryans, after the IA-Ir-Nuristani split, and the earliest moment at which they began to enter the Indus Valley. What percent steppe was this group of people at that point? What were they mixed with? How much of modern South Asia’s ancestry comes from this specific population at this specific point in time?

          I don’t know if there are answers to these questions yet. Are there any clues, or leading theories though?

          Indo-aryan is indeed a linguistic term today, but it is connected to ethnicity as well. An ethnic group typically shares some measure of genetics, culture, and language- and every modern Indo-Aryan ethnic group today shares these things within their own sub-grouping.

          Even if predominantly Indus Valley in genetics, the correlation of some measure (however small) of genetic descent, continuity of language, and continuity of cultural identification constitutes an Indo-Aryan ethnic group. Note that I did not say race, which is rather a political concept.

          1. did you bother to read my post? i put it in there.

            do people actually read posts they comment on?

          2. Hey, I did read your post. I didn’t see anything about what the IAs were right before they entered South Asia- your post says they picked up Indus DNA in South Asia, and the N. Indians are on average 10% steppe. My question was- how much steppe did they have before they entered the region.

            There is all this distance between the Andronovo-Sintashta region and the subcontinent that these people had to cross before they got there. What did they pick up on the way?

            Maybe you misread my question? If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Let me know.

  10. Didn’t Aryans become aryans in India? Before coming to India they buried their dead (not very spiritually liberating), didn’t wash (so difficult to take holy dips in icy cold central asian rivers), spoke some archaic language without any thought about proper pronunciation and grammar, and horror of horrors, ate beef!

      1. Could never understand how did vegetarianism even became a thing in the subcontinent. Like almost no other civilization has this, including all the other post Aryans ones.Even they would went through the same cycle of farming, domestication of cows etc and all.

        1. “Could never understand how did vegetarianism even became a thing in the subcontinent.”

          well the Indus Valley Civilisation was supposedly the most peaceful civilisation at the time. I suspect that the yogic philosophy rooted in the IVC laid the groundwork for ahimsa.

          Agastya’s hymns in the later period of the Rig Veda are clearly of a yogic nature.

          1. Karan, Warlock, Scorpian Eater,

            In my view IVC is part of Arya culture or coexisted alongside. One of many Jatis within . . . although I don’t know which ones.

            This perspective has at least as much evidence in its favor as hypothesis that IVC is not part of Arya culture.

            Jaina might be one of the oldest or the oldest of the many Arya threads. The Jaina Yogic texts are ancient.

            I also consider Agastyar, Nandi, 18 Siddha Siddhanta, Tamil to be Arya . . . and much older than academic historians currently believe.

            Many Tamils continually tell me that Agastyar founded Tamil. How old do you think Agastyar is?

            Agastyar (Agastya) also sung many Vedic hymns and was an expert in Vedic Sanskrit.

            Do you think Agastya was reincarnated many times a la the Dalai Lama? Or something accessed by many channels through meditation. And that this is why he appears to have lived for thousands of years?

      2. True. What I meant to say was that while full-on vegetarianism may be a Jaina/Buddha thing, the taboos against eating cows arose in Indo-Aryan communities on its own, even before Shramana teachers told them so. Jain teachers simply took selective prohibition on certain meats to its full logical conclusion.

        Earliest Rigveda verses contain references to beef eating. The taboo arose sometime during the vedic age, much before Shramana movements.

  11. I guess the biggest factor in Hindus’ exclusive identification with Aryans is the perceived lack of cultural continuity with IVC. I suspect lots of cultural attributes of Hindus come from IVC, but we will never know for sure unless the IVC script is full deciphered.

    I long for the day with the this script is fully deciphered. Then the days is not far when an archaeologist will pick a terracotta seal from the ground, dust it off lovingly, and with tears rolling down his cheek exclaim, “Look, it is a recipe for making Gajar ka Halwa. They used to cook at just like my mother does”.

    OK. I am over dramatizing it, but you get the point, right? 🙂

    1. If its any solace we have found terracotta with the same bangles wearing style (upto their arm) which rural Sindhi and Thar women still wear to this day. I think perhaps they found some one wearing a pagdi too

      1. Yep. Full arm length bangles are definitely our connection with IVC. Must be the longest lasting fashion trend.

    2. Scorpion Eater, I have been working on the Indus script in my spare time. It is clearly not a fully fledged script encoding normal speech or prose writing.

      It is a just a limited script for basic record keeping, in particularly trade related transactions and religious donations.

      I was really disappointed to discover this. Instead of great poetry, we are more likely to find “3 pots of grain to the market” encoded in the texts.

      What will help us to decipher some of the meaning of symbols will be further archaeological excavations, particularly in south india where several Indus symbols have survived as megalithic graffiti, possibly with religious significance.

    3. That notion is fascinating. Many villages in Sindh and Rajasthan, for instance, still build, cook, measure, etc. the way IVC folks might have done. A lot of civilizationally important culture—agriculture, trade, cooking, craftsmanship, village life—must have been inherited from these people. Though their language is gone, we are their heirs as much as we are scions of the later Vedic age. I just wish we knew more.

      1. Yeah IVC sites on Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab. It is hypothesized, IVC matrix was actually quite dense in Gujarat. Hence why the dalit to non dalit ratios of increasing steppe are more gradual through the caste ladder rather than a sharp delineation between the two categories, such as in Punjab. Granted, generally mercantile and more pragmatism over honor based culture of Gujarat may have been more open to mixing of different racial groups peoples, with wealth being a larger deciding factor, relative to other S Asian places, for marriage arrangements.

  12. We are making progress. I agree with Karan’s explanation of ‘original’ Aryans, Indo-Aryans and Irano-Aryans. We don’t know yet who are the ‘steppe’ people. This term simply does not mean anything. Also, ‘Andronovo-Sintashta’ – who are they, are they ‘steppe’ people, what is their language and genes? Now, to define Indo-European (formerly Indo-Germanishe) people and language(s). For Scorpio – ancient Serbs for thousands of years also burned their dead.

  13. 1. Who were Dasi Putra Brahmanas?
    This is mentioned in an article in today’s Telegraph from Calcutta, on a review of A book which has Razib as one of the Authors.

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