OPINION: Questions for those who debunk the Aryan invasion theory

Justice Katju questions how caste, language and myth persist without AIT

Image courtesy: cell.com Image courtesy: Cell

The article 'An ancient Harappan genome lacks ancestry from steppe pastoralists and Iranian farmers' published in the scientific journal Cell by a team consisting of Prof Vasant Shinde of Deccan College, Pune, Dr David Reich of Harvard Medical School and other archaeologists and DNA experts, has been given different interpretations. While some claim it debunks the Aryan invasion theory, others refute that claim.

All that the paper says, and that too on the basis of a study of a female skeleton found at Rakhigarhi in Haryana, is that the Harappans did not have the ancestry of the steppe pastoralists (i.e. the Aryans).

I am neither an archaeologist nor a DNA expert, but I have these questions for those who deny the theory of Aryan invasion/immigration into India:

(1) Why are upper castes, particularly Brahmins, relatively fairer in complexion to dalits (Scheduled Castes)? I am not saying there is no fair coloured dalit or dark coloured Brahmin. But proportionally, we find Brahmins generally much fairer than dalits. Why? Does this not indicate that at one stage in our history (maybe four or five thousand years ago) a fair coloured people came from the north-west into India and conquered and enslaved a dark coloured local people, whose descendants are the dalits of today? Was this not the origin of the caste system which survives even today? Are dalits not still looked down as inferiors by most upper castes and even OBCs, so much so that if a dalit boy wants to marry a non-dalit girl, he is often brutally murdered in an ‘honour killing’?

(2) Why is fair colour preferred to dark colour in India? Why do matrimonial advertisements mention 'fair-coloured girl', and why do hoardings on roadsides in Chennai and other South Indian cities have pictures of fair coloured, and not dark-coloured, girls?

A conqueror imposes his values. If a dark coloured people had conquered a fair coloured people then dark-coloured skin would have been preferred and regarded as a sign of superiority. By themselves, neither white nor black is superior or inferior. So does this not prove that at some stage of our history a fair-coloured people came from outside India and conquered a dark-coloured people?

(3) Sanskrit, in which the Vedas and other religious and cultural texts were written, was found by Sir William Jones and other scholars to have striking similarities with Greek and Latin. This proves that the speakers of Sanskrit, and of Greek and Latin, had common ancestors.

Some say these ancestors lived in India, and from here there was a migration to Europe. But, that is impossible to believe. People migrate from uncomfortable areas to comfortable areas, because everyone wants comfort. Why should anyone from a comfortable region like India migrate to Afghanistan, which is covered with snow for several months in a year, and is mountainous and uncomfortable? Why should anyone go further into Russia with extremely cold climate? Common sense would tell us that the reverse happened, and people from the north-west came into India as it was a comfortable region, with ideal conditions for agriculture—level land, fertile soil, plenty of water for irrigation, etc.

(4) A reading of the Rig Veda, the earliest Sanskrit text, gives the impression that a war is going on. The most hymns in it are to Indra, who is in it a war God (he was transformed into a rain God much later). War is a serious business, for one can get killed in it. So people need a God who can lead them to victory. For the invading Aryans, Indra was that God.

(5) The word 'Ayya' in Tamil which means master, is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Arya' or Aryan. What does this insinuate?

I can give several other arguments to support the Aryan invasion theory, but for the time being, let these questions be answered by those who debunk it.

Justice Markandey Katju retired from the Supreme Court in 2011.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.