Two issues that Dr Iravatham Mahadevan could have announced the world before his departure.


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As one who has read most of his papers for a research work, the only thought lingering on this writer’s mind is that Mahadevan was truly humble and open for change.

With numerous tributes flowing around us on Iravatham Mahadevan at this moment of his departure, just one thought crosses this writer’s mind – that he was humble to the core. In spite of a long innings in epigraphy, he was very humble and honest to correct his views when faced with a convincing proof. He did make a correction as recently as in 2015 to one of the major assumptions on the Dravidian presence in the Indus upon which he built up his entire work of linguistic decipherment of the Indus Script. This makes us wonder whether he would have done the same to the other assumption on Aryan migration had he lived for some more time, for, there is a glaring absurdity in his original assumption of a small group of Aryans entering the country and the entire country getting linguistically fused with Aryan language though he proposed that the Aryans borrowed the culture of the Dravidian Indus!

The Aryan vs Dravidian debate on the Indus civilization was at the threshold of ‘Mature Phase’ when Mahadevan entered the fray in 1968. Only a couple decades prior to that, Wheeler presented his theory that Rig-Veda could be read as a historical document and wrote in his report on 1946 excavations of Harappa that ‘Indra stands accused’– by proposing a conflict between “the newly arrived Aryan warriors and the indigenous Indus peoples” (Possehl 2002). This was followed by attempts to decipher the signs on the Indus seals. When Mahadevan, after completing his work on Tamil-Brāhmī scripts, turned his attention to the Indus script, two studies were already published. Both these studies claimed that Dravidian language formed the substratum of the Indus script. Impressed with their findings, Mahadevan began his decipherment of the Indus seals on the same lines. The Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) and the Dravidian substratum of the Indus were embraced as foregone conclusions by Mahadevan and taken up as the basic assumptions upon which he weaved all his decipherments.

Change of stance on Brahui as evidence.

He embraced the view of his predecessors that Dravidians were present in North West India (Indus Valley) when the Aryans came and Brahui is the proof of their presence. Though he made a fleeting reference to it in his paper published in 1970, he made a decisive statement in 1972 in his paper, “Study of the Indus script through bi-lingual parallels” where he wrote,

It is now well established that the Dravidians were present in North-west India when the Aryans entered the country, most probably sometime around the middle of the Second Millennium B.C. The survival of the Brahui, a Dravidian language, and the presence of words of Dravidian origin in the Rigveda, provide irrefutable evidence for this fact.”

He repeated this in later works too though he never came up with any words of Dravidian origin in the Rig Veda. For him, the other proof, namely the continuing presence of Brahui even today constituted the basis for the assumption that Dravidians were living in North West India at the time of Aryan Invasion.

This stance on Brahui which he held on for more than 30 years came for a changewhen he was found to make a significant departure from his view on Brahui in his Convocation Address to the Dravidian University at Kuppam in 2015.

I had earlier considered Brahui, a Dravidian language still spoken in Baluchistan as evidence for the Dravidian character of the Indus civilisation. I have revised my opinion as experts in Dravidian linguistics now hold that Brahui was originally a North-eastern Dravidian language with many shared features with Kurux and Malto and that it moved to its present location in later times.”

His academic sincerity in accepting facts notwithstanding, it is no exaggeration that this ‘revision’ of his view comes with a far-reaching implication on whether the Dravidian substratum can be taken for granted in Indus decipherment. This further raises questions like when did Brahui come to North West India and whether its arrival pre-dated Aryan arrival. Without finding answers for these, Mahadevan could have found himself forced to do a re-think on the assumption of Dravidian substratum given the fact that no convincing decipherment of the Indus script had come up till date. That he had the humility and honesty to revise his opinion and admit it in the open certainly puts him on a high pedestal.

Aryan as language and not race.

His adherence to Aryan Invasion Theory as a foregone conclusion was reflected in his 1972 paper as the only possible answer to the question of what happened to the Harappans. He wrote,

Ethnic continuity overlaid by a linguistic change wrought by the incoming Aryans seems to be the only possible answer to the question, ‘What happened to the Harappans?’ ”

With many researches having come with indisputable evidence on climatic causes for the demise of the Harappan / Indus civilization, the relevance of Aryan entry as a cause for the death of Indus civilization stands very much diluted and even non-existent. It is perplexing that Mahadevan did not ‘revise’ his view on Aryan invasion in the wake of new discoveries on the end of Indus civilisation.

A perception is gaining that Mahadevan treated Aryan and Dravidian as names of languages and not races. But the fact is that he did harp on these two as races and their merger as racial fusion in his early papers such as the one published in 1972.

His version was that a small group of Aryans entered the Indus and achieved dominance over the local population due to better mobility and advanced weaponry. By mentioning weaponry as a cause for domination he seemed to concur with the olden notion of invasion. Thus initially there were two races in his scheme which were fused in due course giving rise to two sets of language systems, Aryan and Dravidian.

According to him, the Dravidian language was present in the Indus. It was borrowed by Aryans from whom it travelled back to the Dravidian at a much later date. The later Dravidian was secondary Dravidian – the language that we have today. Using the Dravidian languages and the Aryan (Sanskrit) language, he attempted to decipher the Indus script (Primary Dravidian). In this methodology, there is absolutely no need to assume that Aryans came from outside and fused with the Indus people. In his scheme, there were pre-Aryan practices such as Soma cult that was borrowed by the Aryans! He even proposed pre-Aryan indigenous stock to which he attributed the Epics and Puranas of Hindus (1975 paper). All these do not require an outside stock (Aryans) to enter the Indus and re-create the same stuff.  It is intriguing that he failed to think of an indigenously evolving ‘Aryan’ stock. This was because he was more conditioned to think on the dominant narrative of his day.

The newer revelations and discoveries coming on the Indus sites in his later years could have caused a change of mind on his Aryan assumption too. He did change his view on Brahui and it was only a matter of time before he changed his view in Aryan Invasion too. His sincerity in his research could have led him to that view if death had not snatched him now. If only he had lived for a few more years and retained the vigour, he might have come up with a ‘revision’ on his view on Aryan entry too. As one who has read most of his papers for a research work, the only thought lingering on this writer’s mind is that Mahadevan was truly humble and open for change.

References:

  • Possehl, Greory L (2002). The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Rowman Altamira. Maryland. pp 237-238
  • Mahadevan, Iravatham** (1970). “Dravidian Parallels in Proto-Indian script”. Journal of Tamil studies. II(1). pp 1-120.
  • Mahadevan, Iravatham (1972). “Study of the Indus script through bi-lingual parallels”. The Second All India Conference of Dravidian Linguists. Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati.
  • Mahadevan, Iravatham (2015). “Interpreting the Indus Script: The Dravidian Solution”, Convocation Address delivered at the Dravidian University, Kuppam, 26 February 2015.

 

 

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Rakhigarhi was “Aryan”, Mr Witzel.


Earlier published in www.pgurus.com in three parts:
Part 1Part 2 and Part 3

The preliminary findings of a DNA study of the skeletal remains of Rakhigarhi dated at 6000 years BP and reported in Economic Times on 13th June 2018 reveal that there was no trace of Central Asian ancestry. Mr Vasant Shinde, one of the authors of the study says, “This indicates quite clearly, through archeological data, that the Vedic era that followed was a fully indigenous period with some external contact.”

Another author, Mr Neeraj Rai who did the DNA study says that the findings point to “greater continuity rather than to a new Aryan race descending and bringing superior knowledge systems to the region.”

While these are on expected lines concurring with the indigenous history of ancient India as known from the Itihasas, it is necessary to know the reaction from the other side of the fence. One of the prominent proponents of Aryan Invasion Theory, Mr Witzel had reacted to this news in one of the group-forums as follows:

“.. “proving” the same: ancient DNA (just 2 persons) from the Indus site of Rakhigarhi, long bandied about, now is said to show that their DNA was *not* that of “invading Aryans.”

Of course, in a Harappan site we would not expect W. Central Asian (Indo-Aryan) DNA, as the recent paper by Vagheesh et al. indicated: the *speakers* of Indo-Aryan entered the subcontinent only in the LATE Bronze Age: as evidence from Swat indicates.

For a nationalist/Hindutva person that does not matter, of course, as they wrongly maintain that the Harappan population was “Aryan” anyhow.
Problem solved, LOL.”

It is amusing to read this reaction with many pitfalls contained. Let me discuss them one by one.

Sample size

At the outset he seems to take a dig at the number of samples taken for the study. The samples were taken from just two persons. Can any conclusive word be given on a well-oiled theory like the AIT, from just 2 specimens?

Why not? If 92 scientists (Vagheesh M.Narasimhan and others /Narasimhan et al) can justify Aryan Invasion or rather, the movement of Indo-Aryan speakers to India on the basis of *zero* samples from the Indus region, the Shinde-Rai pair sounds more reliable when they made their claim on *just* 2 samples.

Thankfully, Narasimhan et al adhered to academic integrity by conceding that they have no “access to any DNA directly sampled from the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC)” , but built up an hypothesis of an ancestry to IVC from outside Indus (Indus Periphery). In their own words,

Without ancient DNA from individuals buried in IVC cultural contexts, we cannot rule out the possibility that the group represented by these outlier individuals, which we call Indus_Periphery, was limited to the northern fringe and not representative of the ancestry of the entire Indus Valley Civilization population.” (lines 293-295)

 “Indus Periphery-related people are the single most important source of ancestry in South Asia.” (Abstract)

Contrast this with the findings of Shinde-Rai which is based on the genetic material extracted from 2 specimens, found in a core IVC location from a layer of 6000 years BP and arriving at a conclusion that it is predominantly a local element and did not contain any central Asian genetic element. This is not a hypothesis but a finding. Can we say the same for the conclusion of Narasimhan et al? Theirs is a hypothesis – a ‘possibility’.

The Swat evidence

Perhaps in realisation of this fact, Mr Witzel switches over to finding an excuse for the absence of Central Asian element in the genetic material of Rakhigarhi specimen.  He expresses in the next line of his comment that he doesn’t expect Central Asian gene in any Harappan site, meaning to say that they would appear in the genetic make-up only after the Aryan Invasion had started – i.e., from the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE.

To support this he quotes the paper by Narasimhan et al on Swat-evidences. But then the Swat evidence speaks about an admixture of Iranian-agriculturists and South Asian hunter-gatherers (AASI) in 4700- 3000 BCE in outliers of BMAC and eastern Iran that was genetically similar to post-IVC groups of Swat region thousand years later (1200-800 BCE). This group is favoured by Narasimhan et al as forming “the single most important source of ancestry in South Asia.”

The fact of the matter is that there is NO central Asian ancestry in this group claimed by Mr Witzel as evidence from Swat (on subsequent Aryan Invasion). The admixture in Indus periphery / Swat is made of 58% – 86% of Iranian agriculturists related ancestry with “little Anatolian agriculturist related admixture” and 14%-42% AASI ancestry. On the other hand Shinde-Rai study shows minor traces of Iranian strains in Rakhigarhi which, going by the time period of the specimens, would be ancestral to Iranian genetic presence in Indus Periphery. In lay terms this means out of India movement of Iranian strains which however have to be corroborated by the exact strains found out in the study and made known once the paper is published.

Can language be identified by genetics?

Another issue in Mr Witzel’s comment is about how he pinpoints the identity of the people that he calls Aryans. He identifies them by the language – “the *speakers* of Indo-Aryan”.

I never knew that linguistic research can be so easy that just by studying the genetic origins of a person one can tell the language he spoke! If DNA can tell the language a person spoke, it is certainly not a big deal to identify the languages spoken by say, the pre-historic people of Adichanallur in South East Tamilnadu.

Dated at 2500-2200 BCE, the skeletal remains of Adichanallur were found to have belonged to four races, namely, Caucasoids, Mongoloids, Negroids and Australoids, with none of them resembling contemporary Tamil people (here).
pic q

Pic credit: The Hindu

The presence of these four races is absolutely not in sync with present day dwellers. How they reached this part of Tamilnadu from the presently known regions of these races might give a new migratory route. Instead if we link them with the language we speak, is it scientifically tenable to make a conclusion something like – that they brought Tamil to present-day Tamilnadu?

The Adichanallur specimens challenge one of the findings of the genetic study of Narasimhan et al. If Caucasoid had their origins in Central Europe or in central Steppe how did some of them reach this part of India at 2500-2200 BCE when their genetic markers were still hovering around BMAC between 2100 – 1700 BCE?

This means that there is many a slip in-between and Indian population history is not as easy as can be explained by an Aryan Invasion that is supposed to have brought a sophisticated language along with it. India’s location in a prime population blooming tropics, surrounded by oceans and drained by numerous rivers since Holocene offers a logical and plausible location for autochthonous growth of population with simultaneous growth of accessories like its own language and culture.

For saying this, if people like me are branded as “nationalist/ Hindutva person”, then the counter part of it makes the likes of Mr Witzel as anti-Indian and anti-Hindu, as Hindutva has its base in being a Hindu. Will he accept this identity for him?

Was Harappan Aryan?

Coming to the next and the last part of his comment, by rejecting the ‘Swat evidence’ of Narasimhan et al and subscribing to Shinde-Rai finding of indigenous strain in Rakhigarhi specimen, we are wrongly maintaining that Harappan was Aryan and be happy that ‘problem (is) solved’!

But the fact is that not just Harappan but the entire land of Bharat had been Aryan from an undated past. It was not caused by an Aryan Invasion. Central Asians or anybody could have come to India at any time or many times in the past, but how does it justify that they were the Vedic people?

In this entire issue of Aryan Invasion, one must be clear of what actually makes the culture Vedic?

Is it the spoke-wheeled chariot?

Yes, according to Mr Witzel. In the same comment on Rakhigarhi DNA study, he refers to the buried chariot excavated at Sinauli and observes,

“.. this is not a spoke-wheeled chariot but a cart with two *full* wheels, as is known from Harappa and Daimabad (see attached pictures). The usual confusion between chariots and wagons/carts, but exploited here for obvious political reasons : “No Aryan invasion” ”

Does the animal pulling the chariot determine Aryan-ness?

Yes, according to Mr Witzel. His further comment on Sinauli-finding goes like this:

The draft animals will have been oxen, as in the Harappan and Daimabad cases. These were not “horse ridden chariots” as one newspaper had it : LOL.”

Spoke-wheeled chariot and horses determine the Aryan-ness and characterise the people as Vedic! Witzel and others quote the Vedas as authority for this!

Nothing can be more ridiculous and unscientific than this, as the very identity of the Vedic people is the fire ritual, the Yajna and not chariots and horses. Anybody from anywhere in the world could have had chariots and horses but the fire-ritual of the kind done in Vedic society is unique for the Vedic culture only.

The basic fire ritual of the Vedic culture is called ‘aupāsana’.  Aupāsana is done every day at twilights throughout one’s life and at no time this fire is extinguished.  From father to son, this fire travels down the generations endlessly. The fire for every other Vedic Yajna is taken from this Aupāsana fire. The one and only offering done in this fire is RICE.

Without rice no aupāsana can be done. Without aupāsana, no other yajna can be done and no Samskaras can be done. Rice is so basic to the Vedic society.

Now the question is, did the Central Asians know about rice?

They could have brought chariots and horses but did they bring rice – a grain very essential for doing the Vedic yajna?

Did they grow rice in the steppes or learnt about it anywhere en route to India identified by Witzel?

The simple fact is rice is not grown in those regions due to absence of supportive climatic conditions.

As per the AIT, they started Vedic life after reaching the IVC. But rice was already known to the IVC people and importantly in the present context of Rakhigarhi (IVC), a parallel archaeo-botanical study established that rice was grown in Rakhigarhi 6000 years ago!

This is proof enough that the central Asians who were supposed to have entered the IVC in the 2nd millennium BCE, had learnt the use of rice in the Yajna – assuming they developed the concept of Yajna by themselves – from the native, indigenous people of the IVC. A rational interpretation would however treat the central Asians as learning the very technique of Yajna from the natives and not as developing a Yajna all in a sudden by themselves and making the native rice as integral to the Yajna.

Rice, the staple food for natives of India from time immemorial also happens to be the staple food for Gods worshiped through Yajna. More importantly, in the Yajna for departed ancestors (sharadha) only cooked rice is offered. Having their ancestral homes in Central Asia, isn’t it illogical to expect them to have devised a Yajna for their ancestors in which the offering is a food that doesn’t grow in their ancestral land? So the role of rice in Vedic Yajna is something that defines the identity of the original Vedic Aryans.

Cultivation of rice in India predates the IVC.

 The currently available proof on domestication of rice goes up to 9000 years ago in the Gangetic plain. Excavations done at Lahuradewa in the trans- Sarayū region showed that rice was the staple food for the people. Cultivation of wild rice in Lahuradewa dates back to an early period of Holocene. One can see the limits of rice cultivation in the figure given below, with the Indus region falling outside.

pic 1

Map of wild rice zones since 20,000 BP (marked as P) in comparion to expansion since 9,000 BP (marked as H). Recent populations are marked in crosses and circles. (Fuller 2011)

The tropical climate and wetness have favoured domestication of rice in south east and eastern parts of India in the riverside regions from times before Indus civilization. This is proof of settled habitation in the Gangetic region much before Indus Valley Civilization started.  Indus region is out of place in the rice map of early Holocene days.

The author (Fuller 2011) of the study (above figure) says in the abstract that ‘much dispersal of rice took place after Indo-Aryans and Dravidian speakers adopted rice from speakers of lost languages of Northern India’. This observation is influenced by the faulty and hypothetical division of people of India as Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. Like human genetics, rice-genetics is also assumed to reveal the speech of the people of the region! How unscientific!

Research  by Upinder Singh (Singh 2008:110) has revealed the presence of cultivated rice of the variety Oryza sativa from the northern fringes of Vindhyas on the banks of Belan river up to Allahabad in the trans- Sarayū region. While Koldihwa and Mahagara in Allahabad show independent domestication of rice from 8th to 6th millennium BCE, the Neolithic sites in Son Valley in Madhya Pradesh has shown rice cultivation from 6th to 5th millennium BCE.  Thus the Vindhya- Ganga- Ghaghara region is found to be the nuclear zone of rice domestication and cultivation from10,000 years BP. Delving on the same subject, Varma (2008:40-41) opines  that this was not due to cultural diffusion from West Asia and South East Asia as one can find layers of evolution in the sites from Mesolithic to Neolithic culture.

The continuity or rather the spread of rice cultivation from east India to the Indus regions in the west was established by Petrie et al. The proof comes from Rakhigarhi!

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In their paper Petrie et al established that rice was cultivated in Rakhigarhi even before the Indus Urban phase and observed that proximity of this region to the Ganges where the earliest domestication of rice was found in 7th millennium BCE “prompts the re-evaluation of the role of rice for Indus populations, and the way that it was transmitted from farther east”. This is a direct challenge to the view in support of AIT (Gangal et al. 2014) that farming entered India through Iran and Central Asia.

All the rice growing regions mentioned above were home to the Ikśvāku-s of Sarayū, Kuśikās of Viśvāmitra and Jamadagnis of Vindhyas – the last two being Rig Vedic sages having close blood relationship. Jamadagni was Viśvāmitra’s sister’s son and they both were of same age. (MB 13.4, VP 4.7)

The trans- Sarayū region had shown human settlements as early as 6th to 5th millennium BCE along with evidence of rice cultivation. It is significant that the birth date of Rama established by Puṣkar Bhaṭnāgar in his book “Dating the Era of Lord Ram” using astronomy software on the planetary position given in Valmiki Ramayana falls on 5114 BCE, within this period.

Ramayana period falling within 6th -5th Millennium BCE perfectly matches with archaeo-genetic of rice domestication in trans-Sarayu region. The same period witnessed rice domestication in Vindhya-Ganga-Ghaghara region lending cross-referential support for the contemporariness of Viśvāmitra and Jamadagni with Rama – a feature well attested through another cross-referential source, namely Ramayana.

Rice domestication in Vindhya-Ganga-Ghaghara-trans Sarayū region strengthens the case for a Vedic society at that time. There is literary evidence for rice in Valmiki Ramayana (Iyengar 1997:31). A sage by name Trijaṭa used to collect a rice variety called ‘lāṅgalī scattered in the forest. Twice it is mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana about this sage subsisting on rice grains collected this way (VR 2.32.29 & 34). This rice could be either a wild variety growing in the forest or the left-over’s of cultivated variety after harvest.

The date of rice cultivation in Rakhigarhi a millennia later to trans-Sarayū –Vindhya region establishes the route of movement of cultivation of rice that forms the heart of the Vedic yajna.

What is the more rational of the two – the chariot driving Central Asians of the mid-2ndMillennium BCE, after halting at the IVC grabbing the rice from the indigenous people and inventing Vedic fire ritual or a continuing indigenous population, growing rice since 7th Millennium BCE and gradually developing Vedic culture where rice is central to fire rituals?   Those in the know of Vedas would attest that Vedas and Vedic rituals could not have been developed in a few centuries but over a larger span of time (which would take another article to explain). So Mr Witzel, it is not nationalistic, but rationalistic to claim that Rakhigarhi was indigenously Vedic, and therefore Aryan!

 

References:

Fuller, D.Q. (2011). “Pathways to Asian Civilizations: Tracing the Origins and Spread of Rice and Rice Cultures”. RICE. 4(3-4). pp78-92. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12284-011-9078-7

Gangal K, Sarson GR, Shukurov A (2014) “The Near-Eastern Roots of the Neolithic in South Asia”. PLoS ONE 9(5): e95714https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0095714

Ganguli, Kisari Mohan (Trans) (1883-1896). Mahabharatahttp://ancientvoice.wikidot.com/source:mahabharata

Griffith, Ralph T. H. (Trans) (1870-1874). Ramayan of Valmiki. http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rama/index.htm

Iyengar, Srinivasa C.R. (1997) (Trans).  “Sakala Kāriya Siddhiyum, Srimad Rāmāayaṇamum”  LIFCO Publication, Chennai. pp 29-32

Petrie, C., Bates, J., Higham, T., & Singh, R. (2016). “Feeding Ancient Cities in South Asia: Dating the Adoption of Rice, Millet and Tropical Pulses in the Indus Civilisation.”Antiquity.  90 (394).  pp1489-1504. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2016.210

Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. Delhi.  pp 110-111.

Varma, Radha Kant  (2008). Beginnings of Agriculture in the Vindhya-Ganga Region”History of Agriculture in India (up to c.1200 A.D). Concept Publishing Company. New Delhi. pp 31-46

 

Recommended Reading for clarification of the yuga-time of Ramayana: 

Yuga classification and how Yuga must be understood.

 

(Mailed to Mr Witzel)

Neolithic bottleneck of Y-chromosome had its epicentre in India since Yayati’s times.


recently published paper by Zeng et al of the Stanford University proposes socio-cultural causes for the sudden and simultaneous appearance of a ‘bottleneck’ in Y-chromosome diversity across the Old world (Asia, Europe and Africa) around 5000 -7000 BP. The two limits of this date correspond to eventful India of those times with the lower date coinciding with the traditional date of Mahabharata and the upper with Ramayana period extending upto Yayati’s times whose descendants spread out to Europe. The authors’ postulation of socio-cultural causes for this bottleneck further reiterates the suitability of the events in India of those times in giving rise to a bottleneck in male lineage across the world and more intensely in Eurasia.

The paper by Zeng et al is an improvisation or development over a previous paperpublished in 2015 by Karmin et al of Arizona University. The extent of the bottleneck proposed by Karmin et al was 4000 -8000 BP which is also very much within the span of momentous events in India. A sudden drop in genetic diversity of male centric Y-chromosome had happened in this period while the female centric mtDNA had continued to thrive without any reduction. The authors did not see the reduction in Y chromosome diversity as a case of biological survival of the fittest, but of a “reproductive success of a “limited number of ‘socially fit’ males and their sons” caused by “the accumulation of wealth and power”

Using the same data, Zeng et al hypothesized the effect of repeated wars over generations in wiping out many male lineages while losing considerably the males of their own clan thereby leading to a drop in male genetic diversity. The tricky part is that there was a sudden and sharp drop in genetic diversity of male chromosome but not in the overall size of the male population. There is no such change in female diversity and population-size. These made them fine tune their hypothesis by comparing the patrilineal and non-patrilineal groups. Their models showed acute loss of diversity in patrilineal groups – in the lineages from a common ancestor – to the extent that there was just one male for 17 women.

According to them a common cultural ethos promoted high levels of Y-chromosomal homogeneity from a common descent and also ‘high levels of between-group variation’. The presence of many groups of common patrilineal descent also resulted in inter-group competition, leading to clashes that wiped out lineages, which is genetically perceived as a drop in genetic diversity. Their computer simulations of patrilineal societies showed early extinction of many haplogroups in the beginning with one or many other haplogroups quickly becoming dominant in frequency. The same is not found in non-patrilineal societies where very less number of haplogroups became extinct and overall representation continued till the end of simulation.

The inference from a layman point of view is that different groups that sprang from a common ancestor did undergo a politico-military survival of the fittest for a couple of millennia between 5000 -7000 BP (or 4000 -8000 BP as per Karmin et al) and ended up with specific groups among them becoming dominant and continuing the progeny. The surprising element is the simultaneity of this phenomenon across the Old World.

The Old World covered by Karmin et al was Africa, the Andes, South Asia, near East and Central Asia, Europe and Oceania. The DNA samples were taken from 456 males from these regions for the study. Following illustration shows the sampling locations.

Source: https://dienekes.blogspot.com/2015/03/bottleneck-in-human-y-chromosomes-in.html

The dominant feature of this map is non-representation of China in the study. It is difficult not to think that the sampling pattern of Eurasia follows the popular conception of western academia of PIE or IE or Aryan migration from central Europe to India (South Asia), leaving out China. The socio-cultural hypothesis of this study is presumed to be largely influenced by the western perception of PIE.

Another feature that catches up attention is why neither of the teams left untouched the most striking feature, namely the surprising simultaneity of the bottleneck in all these regions across the globe. Though the bottleneck lifts are connected with the rise of regional polities and statehood in the respective regions, what caused the bottleneck around the same time in all the seven regions of the five continents leaves very less to speculate.  Was there a singular force having a global reach?

To answer this, let us take a look at the bottleneck curves for all these regions.  They tell a story of their own which Zend et al did not probe.

Source: https://dienekes.blogspot.com/2015/03/bottleneck-in-human-y-chromosomes-in.html

In the above map the red curve represents mtDNa and yellow curve, Y-chromosome. The sudden dip in the yellow curve (Y-chromosome) in all the regions in the period 5000-7000 BP (or 4000 -8000 BP), except Siberia and Andes is striking. The bottleneck is less extreme in South East and East Asia whereas it is more in Near East and Europe. But Zeng et al clubs together West Asia, Europe and South Asia in their paper as having similar trend which is not true as per this figure.

South Asia (India) presents a unique shape of a winnowing basket or a flat bottomed bowl and not a sharp curve as with Europe and Near East. This covers a longer time period than it is for other regions. The figure shows that the drop in male genetic diversity had started soon after 10,000 BP.

One can see the yellow curve gradually dropping down even since 10,000 BP and flattening a couple of millennia later. The lift comes approximately another 4000 years later. That is, for a period of roughly 6000 years since the beginning of 10,000 BP the male genetic diversity had been much less. Applying the rationale of Zeng et al, this period had seen a severe and continuing power struggle within the same patrilineal clan.

Such prolonged dip is found only in India and not in any other regions under study. In other regions the bottleneck is found simultaneously in the period 5000 -7000 BP which falls well within the flat bottom period of India between 4000-10,000 BP.

Only other exception is Central Asia which however has been explained by Zeng et al.

They say,

“Central Asian pastoralists, who are organized into patriclans, have high levels of intergroup competition and demonstrate ethnolinguistic and population-genetic turnover down into the historical period. They also have a markedly lower diversity in Y-chromosomal lineages than nearby agriculturalists. In fact, Central Asians are the only population whose male effective population size has not recovered from the post-Neolithic bottleneck; it remains disproportionately reduced, compared to female estimates using mtDNA. Central Asians are also the only population to have star-shaped expansions of Y-chromosomes within the historical period, which may be due to competitive processes that led to the disproportionate political success of certain patrilineal clans.”

The above figure is self-descriptive of a power struggle or unrest in Central Asia with a continuing lower diversity of male lineages for thousands of years. However the sudden dip has happened in 5000-7000 BP in tune with other regions.

A glaring feature in this scenario is that South Asia is in the centre of the all the regions that experienced the bottleneck simultaneously. And South Asia experiencing the bottleneck for a much extended period within which the bottlenecks occurred in the surrounding regions makes it plausible that South Asia was the epicentre of the strugglethat resulted in dispersal to the neighbouring regions. The power struggle among the dispersed clan in the newly settled regions had caused the sudden dip in the male diversity between 5000 -7000 BP.

Even though Southeast and East Asia enjoyed a steady and higher coalescence between female and male lineages, the bottleneck did appear in the same period as in Europe but less intensely. For Europe, Central Asia and South Asia, the authors echo the same sentiment as PIE proponents of a distribution of pastoral culture. But the large flat bottom of South Asia does not correspond to the pastorals coming from Europe and causing bottleneck in India in the power struggle. Contrary to that the figure suggests a long history of sibling rivalry in India ever since 10,000 BP and a spill over to Europe and central Asia. The history of Bharat known from Itihasas and Puranas also establish this spill over due to power struggle among same patrilineal clans.

The most well known spill over was that of Yayati clan. Even Ramayana accounts for the spread of the kins to distant lands to establish independent suzerainty. By Mahabharata times struggle for power has become a regular norm with numerous clans of west Asia and Europe siding with the two sides that belonged to the same Kuru clan. One can say that Mahabharata war was a high point of a clash of patrilineal clans that caused a severe bottleneck in the male progeny. Needless to say that the revival from bottleneck coincided with post Mahabharata period, in 4000- 5000 BP.

Historical evidence from India on patrilineal group struggle.

Sibling rivalry is inherent in human nature. Having understood the extent of damage it could do to a family, the early ancestors of Bharat had favoured migration to distant lands and setting up polity by conquering those regions. For a long time since Manu, transfer of power was to the eldest son only. The Ikśvāku-s followed that tradition (VR 2-110-35). The younger siblings had to see newer pastures.

Rama himself says this in justifying his acceptance of Vibhishana. Kin of the same family do not see eye to eye. (VR 6.18.10 and 14)

“It is told that persons of the same family and rulers belonging to adjoining territories become enemies and strike in times of adversities. For this reason, he (Vibhishana) came here.”

 “Kinsfolk do not live together in a fearless mode and in a delightful manner. Hence, they get a split among themselves.”

Rama envisions a personal enmity between the brothers, Vibhishana and Ravana and justifies that it is common to see this – a perfect example of the patrilineal enmity that Zeng et al proposes to explain the genetic bottleneck.

The enmity and rivalry forced the siblings to go to distant places to set up their own kingdoms and start dynasties in their name.  The Chola dynasty was one such off-shoot of the Solar dynasty that traced its beginnings to Ikśvāku.  The presence of many branches of lineages and the mix-up of names of ancestors in the chronology given by Puranas can be attributed to this.

The first ever migration of siblings was that of Amāvasu, whom the western Indologists see as a migrant Aryan. Amāvasu was one among six children born to Pururavas and Ila, the daughter of Manu. The eldest was Āyus who became the inheritor of the throne (VR 4.7, MB 1.75). The kingdom was his and there was no need for him to look for newer pastures. This is also ascertained from the name Āyu – that has many meanings, among which ‘descendant’ or ‘offspring’ are suitable for him as the eldest son. On the other hand, Amā in Amāvasu means ‘in the house of’ or ‘non-authority’, indicating a co-existence with his eldest brother.

A verse in Baudhāyana Śrautasūtra  suggests that Amāvasu went to the West in the regions of GāndhāraParśu and Arāṭṭa. Further movement to West Asia and Europe was well within reach of those who left home. Sage Vishwamitra was the 11thdescendant of Amāvasu and he preferred to stay in Bharat.

Yayati clan.

Another important patrilineal clan that dispersed out of India comes from the house of Yayati. This family has all features of a mix of European and Indian races. One of the wives of Yayati was of Danu’s lineage. Of the three sons born to her two went out of India due to sibling fights while one stayed back in India and continued the progeny that can be detected as a strong European mtDNA mix-up in Indian population.

Of the two who went out of present-day boundaries of India, Anu went to the West andDruhyu to North and North West (central Europe). They would not have gone alone but accompanied with their well wishing kin. Conquests of new regions could have happened in the following period causing considerable extinction of native lineages.

While on the West this march was going on, an expedition was launched on East Asia too. Puru, the other sibling of Anu and Druhyu who stayed back in India had a son named Janamejaya. The son born to Janamejaya went to the countries to the east of India till the region where the sun rises – a reference to Udayagiri in Fiji Islands. Ramayana also describes the route till Udaya Parvata (VR 4.40. 54, 55) indicating the familiarity with the regions of the east and frequent travels to them.

The son of Janamejaya and grandson of Puru was perhaps inspired by the western occupation of Puru’s siblings and tried his hand in conquering eastern part of the globe. It is for the reason that he brought eastern countries under his power, he was called as “Prachinvat” (MB 1-95).

Thus we have two records in ancient history of Bharat of the same paltrolineal clans making inroads in West and East of India. Those who went to West ended up in power struggle later that finally reflected in genetic bottleneck. Such violent reflections were less in the eastern sector. But the simultaneity of the bottleneck in the west and east of India has the backing of history of India in Anu and Druhyu in the west and Prachinvat in the east.

Rama was born 20 generations after Anu as per the genealogy given in Vishnu Purana 4-18. Rama was not genetically connected with Anu but his father’ friend Romapada was the 20th descendant of Anu. Assuming 3 generations for a century, Rama can be presumed to have been born 700 years after Yayati.

The flat bottom of the bottleneck coincides with Rama’s period (7000 BP as per Pushkar Bhatnagar’s decipherment of Ramayana and the corresponding date of sage Agastya, a contemporary of Rama, which is known from the sighting of star Agastya to the north of Vindhyas for the first time ). Though Rama was wary of sibling rivalry of other dynasties, he didn’t experience the same in his family. But all his brothers and brothers’ sons set up kingdoms in far off regions with Bharat’s sons reaching to North West India.

Rama’s reign was felt far and wide – in west Asia too, known from the fact that many cities of West Asia and Middle East had their name connected to Rama. The relative calm in rivalry for the next millennium perhaps ensured a horizontal progression of the genetic curve. This ended by Mahabharata times, which saw extermination of own lineages and other lineages as well. By the end of Mahabharata war the territorial rights were more or less established and this is made out from lifts from bottlenecks.

An expansion of each of the above mentioned historic events will stretch further this monograph. But what is to be made out is that India had a prolonged history of struggle for power among the clans of a common ancestor. The loss of males in wars and occasional loss of complete lineages is more palpable in the research study matching with history. This is bound to have a profound impact on dismantling the Aryan Invasion ideas.



Chariot burial in Sinauli (2000 -1800 BCE) – any connection with Harappan or Mahabharata?


For the first time in India buried chariots along with wooden coffins dated at 2000-1800 BCE have been excavated. The eight burial sites found in Sinauli village in Bhagpat which is 60 KM from Delhi have raised speculation on whether these findings are related to Mahabharata and would re-define the date of Mahabharata. The link with Indus-Saraswathi civilization is also being discussed by some.

Looking into these question, certain observations pertaining to the period and nature of civilization of that period is being discussed here to decide whether these findings belong to these periods. Further discussion is on what is being known from the burials.

First of all we must accept the traditional date of Mahabharata in as much we accept the fact of archaeological discovery of Indus- Saraswathi civilization. The overlap in terms of time period and also the geographic expanse of both – Mahabharata and Indus-Saraswathi civilization is something that cannot be brushed aside.

While scientific dating methods define the date of Indus- Saraswathi civilization, the robustness of the date of Mahabharata is also scientifically strong. Let us see how.

Uncompromising nature of Kali Yuga date.

According to tradition and literary sources, Kali Yuga started 36 years after the end of Mahabharata war when Krishna left his mortal coils. The date of Kali Yuga is crucial as that forms the basis for all the ‘saGkalpa’( religious vows) of every kind done by millions of Hindus everyday till today. Unless the date is well laid out right from the beginning, it could not have happened.

Another feature pertains to the very fact of the existence of our calendar (time computation) of day –star –tithi – yoga – karana, popularly known as Panchanga. This (Panchanga) is part of  the ‘Ashtanga’ system that has 3 other higher units of time, namely month (solar), year (Saka year) and Yuga (Kali). All these are intertwined with each other such that if one is wrong others cannot fall in line (can’t be the same). For example, the lowest unit Karana is related to tithi. Tithi and yoga are two different yardsticks of the space-time gap between the two time keepers, namely Sun and the Moon. The alignment of these three (Karana, tithi and yoga) with a star cannot happen on any day, for the day has a certain progression linked with the solar year. For example, if a solar year (marked by the entry of sun into Mesha rasi) starts on a Saturday (as in 2018), it will start on the next day, i.e., Friday in the next year (in 2019) and it continues so forever.

Thus the week day that is in vogue today is very well fixated in the solar month. In which year, a month is fixated comes under the remaining 3 features of the Ashtanga system. The month along with the five (Panchanga) features is fixated in Saka year. The Saka year is related to the first year of Kali Yuga. There are formulae in Tamil to arrive at the month and day of any random date just by knowing the Saka year. There is also a formula to arrive at the number of days elapsed right from the beginning of Kali Yuga till the required date. The date of Parthivadekarapura inscription by Kokkaru Nanthadakkan given in number of days elapsed from the first day of Kali Yuga is on the basis of this formula only. Most inscriptions of Tamil Nadu contain a reference to Saka year of Kaliyuga.

Therefore the date of first year of Kali Yuga is not a concocted one. Our present day-month system would collapse if the Kali Yuga date is changed. In other words, you change the Kali yuga start date, then your current day in the current month will be different. The current day and month cannot be different as the month is computed from the sun’s location in the zodiac (rasi) – which is unalterable.

Therefore it is sheer ignorance if one says that the start of Kali Yuga can be on any date other than the ‘traditional’ date (3102 BCE). From this date the Mahabharata war year is deduced, as it happened 36 years prior to that.

Chariot burials

With the idea of the firmness of the Kali Yuga date, we are looking at the date given for the Sinauli-discovery. It is dated at 2000-1800 BCE which is almost a millennium posterior to Mahabharata date. So it could not have been part of the Mahabharata war.

It could not have been part of Indus-Saraswathi civilization (which is in fact post Mahabharata civilization, due to concurrence with date and the presence of numerous seals bearing the image of Varaha, which was the state emblem of Jayadratha, the ruler of Indus region), going by the fact that the until now excavated burial pits of the Indus-Saraswathi civilization have no parallel to the Sinauli burial.

The negligible number of burials excavated so far in the Indus or any region is India can be attributed to the simple fact that burial is not common in Vedic society. None of the Mahabharata warriors were buried, but were only cremated. The number of burials in the Indus- Saraswathi sites is also very negligible compared to the size of the sites.

There are references to burials in Tamil Sangam texts but they are death-specific. For example, the excavated burial pots were popularly known as ‘Mudhu makkal Thaazhi’ – referring to the burial of very old people. Those with birth defects and who died soon after birth were buried – an information from Sangam texts. Burial and cremation had existed side by side, but certain clauses determined the decision to bury or dead – which is not very clear from the Sangam texts.

But the underlying feature for cremation can be known from the way Narada described in Mahabharata the death of Dritharashtra, Gandhari and Kunti in a forest fire. Those who lived by the sacrificial fire would die by sacrificial fire. In the Vedic society, everyone was engaged in growing the sacrificial fire, whatever their Varna may be. This concept follows in death also. It is only from the sacrificial fire (in death ceremony) the dead person is cremated.

This logic conveys that if a burial is found, then a major cause can be that the dead person was not connected with Vedic sacrificial fire (we should not forget the exceptional cases as known from Sangam texts).

We can test this hypothesis on the numerous burials in Farmana of the Indus –Saraswathi period. The dental examination of the Farmana corpses showed that they were all outsiders having come from faraway places, presumably for work in the Indus sites. While the Indus people had cremated their dead, they could not afford to do the same for the ‘foreigners’ who had come to their cities and died. In the absence of the nearest kith and kin of the dead, the local people had to dispose the dead. The best way is to bury them as no one had the ‘right’ to do Vedic rites for the dead, unless initiated by someone close to the dead.

Based on the rationale so far discussed, the dead in the Sinauli burials could have been non-Vedic or outsiders.

The way they have been buried in perfectly made coffins shows that though they were outsiders to Vedic life, they were not outsiders. They must have had some roots in the place. The elaborate coffin design presupposes the presence of someone related to dead, to be connected with the place.

The burial of chariots is another odd feature as there is no reference in any literature, in Ithihasa or Sangam texts, of burying the vehicles used by the dead. This also secludes them from Vedic life.

Probing the nature of these people, there is a parallel to this kind of burial in Hubei in China discovered in 2015. Elaborate tombs were found out surrounded by separate burial pits for chariots and horses were found. In all 28 chariots and 98 horses were found and dated at sometime in 770-476 BCE. The nature of dead horses showed that they were killed and buried. It appears that they dead were massacred in an enmity.

In Sinauli burials, no animals were seen. Only chariots were buried. The absence of animals showed that the animals that pulled the chariots were not killed – as was the case in the burial in China. This contrasting feature shows that those buried in China were enemies of the people who made the burial, whereas those buried in Sinauli were buried by their own people. The dead were buried along with their carriers. This is probable in a situation where death happened in action in a battle.

So this boils down to a situation where a community, which was necessarily not Vedic had lived in the location 1000 years after Mahabharata war. In a local enmity or military raids, the dead had laid down their lives. The community had given them a burial fitting to their status.

Many tribes or communities of non-vedic nature had lived in Mahaharata times. One such community had lived in Sinauli is what is deduced from these burials. Newer information from this site could exactly determine who they were.

 

Vedic Gods in Mitanni? (Part 2)


Part 1

The main thrust in the arguments of Witzel for Aryan invasion / migration from outside India is based on the linguistic evidence of Vedic deities mentioned in the Hittite- Mitanni treaty and Kikkuli’s manual for horse-training found in Mitanni. The former is just about four names of gods while the latter seems to contain Sanskrit-based words. We will analyse them one by one.

The names of four Vedic deities appear in two treaties, but they were not written in the native Hurrian language of Mitanni. This raises a question on what basis Witzel has linked them with Mitanni. The names were not written in Mitanni or Hurrian language, nor were they mentioned as Mitanni Gods.

In his paper on Autochthonous Aryans, Wizel gives a scenario of who could have taken forward the Indo-Aryan culture:

“..tribes that were influenced and/or pushed forward in front of them*, such as the Mitanni and Kassites in Mesopotamia and the Hyksos in Egypt; or, simply, neighboring local tribes that early on adopted Indo-Aryan material culture.” (2001: 26)

{* Indo-Aryans}

What is the evidence he is giving to prove that Mitanni tribes were the carriers of Indo-Aryan culture? The material evidence of an archaeological finding of a chariot with spoked wheel and horses – that he is frequently talking about is yet to be discovered in those regions. On the linguistic side he is relying on the names of four Vedic gods in the treaties as a ‘superstrate’ of Indo-Aryan (Sanskrit) language.

If these four names can be considered as proof of Indo-Aryan or pre-Vedic superstrate in Mitanni, let me ask what he has got to say for the following words in the Mitanni language.

For father, the Mitanni word is ‘attai’. It is similar to ‘atthan’ in Tamil.

It is ‘andi’ for ‘that’ in Mitanni. It is ‘adu’ in Tamil – almost similar.

For ‘not’, Mitanni word is ‘alla’ – like in ‘mann-ukk-alla’ which means ‘they are not’.

Words ‘alla’ and ‘illa’ are in Kannada and Tamil to denote ‘not’.

 

I spotted three Dravidian words (above) in Mitanni vocabulary. Can I claim that this is proof of Dravidian superstrate in Mitanni? If someone comes up with a claim that this is proof of Dravidian origin outside India and from Europe, I will give them a list of words of Dravidian origin from Africa, Polynesia, Melanesia and South America. What justification is there for those words to have gone over there, all the way from Northern Europe? More plausible explanation can be that India was the incubator for ancient culture and languages as well – from which dispersal had taken place all around. Witzel’s oft-repeated pet idea of Occam’s razor applies here.

Language of the treaties.

Coming back to the language of the treaties, as many as eight languages were in use in the regions of northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia during the period under consideration (middle of 2nd millennium BCE). They were Hittite (Nesili), native Hattian, Mitanni, native Hurrian, Akkadian, Luwian, Palaic and Sumerian. Researchers have found a pattern in the use of these languages in the cuneiform tablets. Nesili Hittite was used in trade pacts between merchants of Assyria and Hatti. Akkadian was used in international treaties. The Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty (Hittite-Mitanni treaty) is found in these two languages only. But the Mitanni Hurrian is found only in non-official texts which do not bear the four Vedic names. Texts in native Hurrian were found in the region even before the rise of Hittites, but none of them bear the names of Vedic Gods.

The presence of so many languages in existence at the same place, at same time period and for different purposes shows one thing – that there was movement of people or interaction among people from different places and backgrounds. Cuneiform tablets in multi lingual texts are proof of presence of people of different languages for whom those tablets were created. A major cause for this presence could only be trade which brings people from far and wide. With them their culture and the Gods they worshiped are also transported to the new lands – however short their period of stay may be. The proof of this comes from the list of Gods that were called as witnesses and also protectors.

Gods of the treaties.

The list of Gods found in the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty (Appendix-1) shows a complete collection of all gods that they have heard but not necessarily worshiped. The treaty being concluded by the king of Hatti and the king of Mitanni, one can expect their Gods taking centre stage – something we see in the treaty. Shamash was the God of Hittites and Teshub was the God of Hurrians (Mitanni). Copies of the treaty were placed in front of these deities only in Hatti and Mitanni respectively but not in front of or by invoking the Vedic Gods or any other Gods. If as Witzel says in ‘The home of the Aryans’, “We can only state that some of them suddenly appear as a superstrate in the Mitanni realm..”, this treaty made in the year 1380 BCE is proof enough that Indo-Aryan was not at all a superstrate in Mitanni.

The 130 names of Gods found in this treaty include Gods of regions outside Hatti and Mitanni. Names such as Sin are Ashur came from outside their regions. The list includes the Gods of enemies too, such as Irrites. There is a long list of Teshub Gods of Mitanni but none of them are associated with the Vedic Gods. There is also no way to establish which of the Gods found in the treaty were from Hatti or Mitanni. If association of Teshub indicates Mitannian origin of the Gods, there is no such association with the Vedic Gods that appear in the list.

Repeating names.

The Vedic Gods appear after Sumerian Gods such as Anu, Antum, Enlil and Ninlil (to be referred as Anu et al). In the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty, Anu et al appear twice in the same list giving rise to the opinion that there were two sets of Anu et al Gods – though there is no known source of evidence to support this. Basically Anu et al were Sumerian Gods, but among them Anu underwent change in Hittite myths. Anu’s son Kumarbi bit off Anu’s genitals and banished him to underworld along with old Gods. This gives an impression that the Sumerian pantheon was replaced by a new set of Gods by Hittites. But the myth goes on further.

The swallowed genitals gave rise to the birth of Teshub (Mitanni God) by Kumarbi who in turn was banished by Teshub. This explains why Kumarbi is not found in the list. But Teshub turns out to be a later creation after Anu. Teshub remains as a God of a variety of things such as trade, camp, relief and mounds (applicable to transiting merchants) and also some names of unknown entities. But there is no explanation for why the same group of Anu et al appears again in the same treaty. This kind of repetition questions the rationale and reliability of taking as evidence the names found in the treaty for pre-Aryan presence in this region.

The Vedic gods appear after Anu et al in both the treaties – in the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty and the treaty between Mattiuaza and sons of Harri. The second treaty was concluded between the claimants of Mitanni Kingdom and so it is logical to expect the names of Mitanni Gods. But the list of 39 Gods appearing in this treaty (Appendix-2) once again looks like a combination of all Gods in and around the region. Where we expect only Teshub of many entities, we are seeing Samash (Hittite) Sin, Anu, Antum, Enlil, Ninlil and the Vedic Gods (Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Nasatya). As the first six are accepted as gods of their respective lands, what prevents Witzel and others from accepting the Vedic Gods as having originated in India? The answer is simple – they need a proof for AIT!

If they need a proof for AIT, there is a stronger proof found in Mitanni. It is the God Teshub before whom the tablet of the Shubbiluliuma- Mattiuaza treaty was placed. The following image is that of Teshub of Mitanni.

pic

Teshub is holding an axe in one hand and a triple thunderbolt in the other. The bull is sacred to him.

This description is exactly that of God Shiva. Axe and trident (Trishul) are the weapons of Shiva. What researchers call as triple thunderbolt in this image is actually a trident. The bull is the associated with Shiva. The myth of Kumarbi biting and swallowing his genitals also conveys a parallel with Shiva. Shiva is depicted as a phallus and Kumar was his son in the Indic traditions. Why don’t Witzel and his ilk show this as a proof of pre-Aryan presence in Mitanni? The fact is that it is more logical to interpret the concept of this image as having gone from India to Mitanni than the other way round. Witzel’s Occam’s razor applies here also.

Teshub and Trishul sound similar. Particularly in Pāli language trishul is known as ‘tisūl’. Sanskrit tri becomes ti in Pali. From Trishul > Tishul > Teshul> Teshub. The b suffix is Mitanni addition as seen in Kumarbi.

Connection with Pali is not out of place here as there is a region called Pala to the north west of Hatti. The language of Pala was Palaic which is found in some cuneiform tablets of Hatti. One of the Vedic Gods mentioned as “Uruwan- ashshil” and “Arunashshil” in the treaties are closer to Palaic name for sea than with Sanskrit varuna. It is ‘a-ru-na’ for sea in Pala (Palaic) language.* So it is more logical to relate Varuna in the group of Vedic deities to Palaic people than with Mitanni.

Shiva in Mitanni and Varuna in Pala – these are very good inputs for Witzel to prove Aryan migration from this part of the world to India. Why is he not doing?

 

(To be continued in part 3)

* https://palaeolexicon.com/Languages/Index

 

Appendix -1

(1) the gods of secrecy and

(2) the gods whom the one who has

taken (lit., lord of) the oath by the lifting of the hand

has [invoked],’ may they stand, and may they give ear. For

they are the witnesses.

(3) Shamash of Arinna, who grants kingship

and queenship in Hatti,

(4)Shamash, lord of heaven,

(5) Teshub, lord of Hatti,

(6) Sheri,

(7) Ashhurra (of) Mount Nanni (and)

(8) (Ashhura of )Mount Hazzi,

(9) Teshub, lord of trade,

(10)Teshub lord of the camp,

(11) Teshub, lord of relief,

(12) Teshub of Betiarik,

(13) Teshub of Nirik,

(14) Teshub, lord of mounds,

(15) Teshub of Halab,

(16) Teshub of Lihzina,

(17) Teshub of Shamuha,

(18) Teshub of Hurma,

(19) Teshub of Sharishsha,

(20) Teshub of Shaganuwa,

(21) Teshub of Hishshashhapa,

(22) Teshub of Tahaia,

(23) Teshub of ‘biki,

(24) Teshub of Kizzulana,

(25) Teshub of Uda,

(26) the Lamassu* of Hatti,

(27) the Lamassu of Garahum,

(28) Zithariash,

(29) Karzish,

(30) Hapanta

(31) the Lamassu of the plain,

(32) the Lamassu of the air,

(33) the Lamassu of the mountains ( ?),

(34) Liliwanish,

(35) Ea and

(36) Damkina,

(37) Telibinu of Tawinia,

(38) Telibinu of Durmitta,

(39) Telibinu of Hanhana,

(40) Isthar,

(41) multari}j,u,^

(42) Ashgawaba,

(43) Nisaba,

(44) Sin,

(45) lord of the oath,

(46) Ishhara,

(47) lady of the oath,

(48) Hebe,

(49) lady of heaven,

(50) Hebe of Halpa,

(51) Hebe of Uda,

(52) Hebe of Kizzulani,

(53) Zamama,

(54) Zamama of Hatti,

(55) Zamama of lUaia,

(56) Zamama of Arzia,

(57) larrish,

(58) Zappanash,

(59) Hashmilish,

(60) Hantedashshuish of Hurma,

(61) Abara of Shamuha,

(62) Gadahha of An ,

(63) the queen of Kasha ,

(64) Mamma of Tahurpa,

(65) Hallara of Dunna,

(66) Gazbae of Hubishna,

(67) Bilala of Landa,

(68) Niawannish of Landa,

(69) gods of the LuUahi,

(70) the gods of the Habiri (SA-GAZ);

(71) the male gods,

(72) the female gods,

(73) all of them of Hatti,

(74) the male gods,

(75) the female gods of Kissuadni,

(76)  the gods of the earth,

(77) the river-god,

(78) Namshara,

(79) Minki,

(80) Ammuki,

(81) Tuhushi,

(82) Ammiz- zadu,

(83) Alalu,

(84) Anu,

(85) Antum,

(86) Enlil,

(87) Ninlil,

(88) Nin-egal,

(89) the mountains,

(90) the rivers,

(91) the great sea,

(92) the Euphrates,

(93) heaven and earth,

(94) the winds,

(95) the clouds.

(96) Teshub,

(97) lord of heaven and earth.

(98) Sin and

(99) Sham- ash,

(100) lords of heaven and earth,

(101) Teshub, lord of “Kurinni” of Kapa,

(102) Nergal (Gir) of Kurta,

(103) Teshub, lord of Uhushuman,

(104) Ea-sharri,

(105) lord of wisdom,

(106) Anu,

(107) Antum,

(108) Enlil and

(119) Ninlil,

(110) the gods Mitrashshil,

(111) the gods Uruwan- ashshil,

(112) the god Indar,

(113) the gods Nashatianna,’

(114) EUatsha,

(115) Shamanmin- uhi,

(116) Teshub, lord of Washshukkani,

(117) Teshub, lord of all of Irrite,

(118) Partahi of Shuta,

(119) Nabarwa,

(120) Shuruhi,

(121) Ashur,

(122) the star,

(123) Shala,

(124) Nin-egal,

(125) Dam- kina,

(126) Ishhara,

(127) the mountains and

(128) the rivers,

(129) the gods of heaven and

(130) the gods of earth

 

Appendix – 2

(1)Teshub of heaven and earth,

(2) Sin and

(3) Shamash,

(4)Sin of Harrani,

(5) (of) heaven and earth,

(6) Teshub, lord of Kurinni of Kapa,

(7) Teshub,

(8) lord of Uhushmani,

(9) Ea,

(10) lord of wisdom,

(11) Nergal,

(12) Kurta,

(13) Anu

(14) Antum,

(15) Enlil

(16) Ninlil,

(17) the gods Mitrashshil,

(18) the gods Arunashshil,

(19) the god Indara,Read More »

Mitanni- Hittite Treaty – a proof of Aryan Invasion / Migration? (Part 1)


The Mitanni- Hittite peace treaty of c.1380 BCE is seen by Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) proponents as an external evidence for Aryans before entering India.

In his paper “Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parameters”, Michael Witzel (1995:15) says, “Although the internal stratification of the Vedic corpus is clear, absolute dates are difficult to establish (cf. Mylius 1970; Rau 1983). There is only external evidence, such as the Mitanni treaty of c. 1380 B.C., mentioning major Rig vedic deities (Indra, Mitra, Varuna and the Nasatyas; [Mitanni-IA is linguistically slightly older than 1400 BCE])..”

In page 29 of the same paper, he says, “Our starting point on linguistic grounds must remain the presence of a branch of Indo-Aryans in Northern Mesopotamia before c. 1380 B.C., names of whose deities – Varuna, Mitra, Indra and Nasatya (Aśvin) – have come down to us in a Mitanni-Hittite agreement.”

Witzel is banking only these four names as a proof of pre-Aryan presence outside India before the so-called Vedic Age started in India. To support this he changes the words of the treaty (& other sources) wherever possible to make it to sound like a Sanskrit word. For example he thinks that the Indo-Iranian ‘zdh’ became ‘edh’ in Vedic Sanskrit (2001:65) but turns a Nelson’s eye when it comes to the letters clinging to Mitra, Varuna etc in the treaty.

The issue of correct translation.

The names of the Vedic deities do not appear as they are in the Vedas.

In the translation of the Luckenbill (1921) (the first one to have translated the treaty by working on the earliest translation done in parts by Winckler in 1907) the names appear as follows:

 the gods Mitrashshil,

the gods Uruwan- ashshil,

the god Indar,

the gods Nashatianna

The same names appear in another part of the treaty that describes a struggle between as follows:

the gods Mitrashshil,

the gods Arunashshil,

the god Indara,

the gods Nashatianna.

One can notice that Luckenbill uses the plural term for all the names except Indra.

What is interpreted as Varuna has a variation in the two contexts as ‘Uruwan- ashshil’ and ‘Arunashshil’. But both treaties were signed in the period of the same Mitanni king. Then is it a scribal error or were they different deities? One sounds like Varuna  and the other like Aruna, meaning the Sun. This meaning is feasible given the fact that the Hittite king called himself as Sun in the treaty.

But Witzel takes them only as Mitra, Varuna, Indra and Nasatyas.

Let’s take a look at Witzel’s translation.

Transcription of cuneiform Interpretation Vedicequivalent
a-ru-na, ú-ru-wa-na Varuna Varuṇa
mi-it-ra Mitra Mitra
in-tar, in-da-ra Indra Indra
na-ša-ti-ya-an-na Nasatya-nna Nāsatya

(taken from Wikipedia article here)

One can see that he has left out the last letters of the names, but he does not take such liberties with words when it comes to using them to show that Mitanni was pre-Vedic. He used to stick to even a single letter to prove his point.

He is also silent on the plural names for Mitra and Varuna. Are there many gods of Mitra and Varuna in the Vedic culture?

Nasatyas are plural because they refer to Asvins. Indra is singular but what is his take on ‘Gods’ of Mitra and Varuna?

Another question is whether there is concurrence among scholars on the exact translation of the names. The very basic names of the treaty, namely those who signed the treaty are spelt differently by Luckenbill. He uses the name Shubbiluliuma which is Suppiluliuma for Witzel. The other name Shattiwaza of Mitanni is mentioned as Mattiuaza by Luckenbill. Since the names Mitra, Varuna etc., are crucial proofs for the presence of pre-Vedic words in that part of the world, Witzel has to first disprove the names given by Luckenbill, besides explaining why the ending letters should be deleted at all if not for serving his own purpose of making them sound like the names of Vedic deities.

Were these Gods from Mitanni or Hatti?

The strangest part of his narration on these names in his paper “‘Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts” is that he keeps repeating them as Mitanni words, while they appear as Gods of Hatti in the treaty.

Hatti and Mitanni were neighbours but they did not share the same language, or we can be certain that they did not share the same Gods as seen from this and other treaties.

pic

(In the picture Mitanni was located on the east of upper Euphrates and Hatti was to its North West. From the treaty it is known that Mt Lebanon and Euphrates formed its south eastern boundaries.)

This treaty and other treaties of these kingdoms contain references to numerous Gods. But the reference to these four Vedic gods appears only in the context of Hatti-Gods. Hatti was an over powering kingdom as per this treaty which was enforcing terms on the Mitanni king. There is no history of Hittites moving to India in the supposed period of Aryan migration. How then the Hittite Gods entered India?

Most of the Gods mentioned in the treaty have no name. They were either god or gods of some part of nature like river, mountain, sky and so on. Certain names do occur often – like the names Sin, Samash, Anu, Antum, Enbil and Ninlil. In the treaties translated by Luckenbill the last four names appear six times in comparison to Mitra et al which appear only two times. Anu et al were very popular Gods found throughout the region here. Why then they were not taken by the migrating Indo-Aryans when they entered India? Why only Mitra et al were taken by them? This part also must be clarified  by Witzel.

If names like Mitra matter in deciding which way the migration had taken place, there is a name that sounds recent or post-Vedic in one of the treaties written by the grandson of Shubbiluliuma.

Mutallu, the grandson of Shubbiluliuma re-made a treaty that his father Murshili signed with – hold your breath – Rimisharma!

Sharma in Rimisharma is a common surname in India for Brahmins. It is traced to Sanskrit roots and is interpreted to mean teacher or a chanter. This name appearing in Hittite treaty as the king of Aleppo / Halab (in pic) before 1300 BCE could be interpreted as a strong proof of movement from India to Mesopotamia, if we were to follow Witzel’s logic.

pic

Sharma being a Brahman surname, this name indicates migration of Vedic people from India. Why not we take it this way?

Moreover this name seems to have changed into Latin as ‘sermo’ and ‘sermon’ (Sharma > serma > sermo > sermon) which means discourse or talk which is what a ‘Sharma’ is supposed to do.

Isn’t this name Rimisharma a proof of migration out of India and influence on languages of Europe?

(continued in Part 2)

References:

Luckenbil.D.D., ‘Semitic Languages and Literatures’, Volume XXXVII April 1921 Number3 https://archive.org/stream/jstor-528149/528149_djvu.txt

Witzel Michael., ‘Autochthonous Aryans? The Evidence from Old Indian and Iranian Texts’, 2001.

Witzel Michael,. “The home of the Aryans”

Zoroastrian Heritage,http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/ranghaya/mitanni.htm

Zoroastrian Heritage,http://www.heritageinstitute.com/zoroastrianism/ranghaya/suppiluliuma_shattiwaza_treaty.htm

 

[Mailed to Witzel (witzel@fas.harvard.edu)]