The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India

The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India
By David Frawley

One of the main ideas used to interpret and generally devalue the ancient history of India is the theory of the Aryan invasion. According to this account, India was invaded and conquered by nomadic light-skinned Indo-European tribes from Central Asia around 1500-100 BC, who overthrew an earlier and more advanced dark-skinned Dravidian civilization from which they took most of what later became Hindu culture. This so-called pre-Aryan civilization is said to be evidenced by the large urban ruins of what has been called the “Indus valley culture” (as most of its initial sites were on the Indus river).

The war between the powers of light and darkness, a prevalent idea in ancient Aryan Vedic scriptures, was thus interpreted to refer to this war between light and dark skinned peoples. The Aryan invasion theory thus turned the “Vedas”, the original scriptures of ancient India and the Indo-Aryans, into little more than primitive poems of uncivilized plunderers.

This idea totally foreign to the history of India, whether north or south has become almost an unquestioned truth in the interpretation of ancient history Today, after nearly all the reasons for its supposed validity have been refuted, even major Western scholars are at last beginning to call it in question.

In this article we will summarize the main points that have arisen. This is a complex subject that I have dealt with in depth in my book “Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization”, for those interested in further examination of the subject.

The Indus valley culture was pronounced pre-Aryans for several reasons that were largely part of the cultural milieu of nineteenth century European thinking As scholars following Max Mullar had decided that the Aryans came into India around 1500 BC, since the Indus valley culture was earlier than this, they concluded that it had to be pre-Aryan.

Yet the rationale behind the late date for the Vedic culture given by Muller was totally speculative. Max Muller, like many of the Christian scholars of his era, believed in Biblical chronology. This placed the beginning of the world at 4000 BC and the flood around 2500 BC. Assuming to those two dates, it became difficult to get the Aryans in India before 1500 BC.

Muller therefore assumed that the five layers of the four ‘Vedas’ & ‘Upanishads’ were each composed in 200 year periods before the Buddha at 500 BC. However, there are more changes of language in Vedic Sanskrit itself than there are in classical Sanskrit since Panini, also regarded as a figure of around 500 BC, or a period of 2500 years. Hence it is clear that each of these periods could have existed for any number of centuries and that the 200 year figure is totally arbitrary and is likely too short a figure.

It was assumed by these scholars many of whom were also Christian missionaries unsympathetic to the ‘Vedas’ that the Vedic culture was that of primitive nomads from Central Asia. Hence they could not have founded any urban culture like that of the Indus valley. The only basis for this was a rather questionable interpretation of the ‘Rig Veda’ that they made, ignoring the sophisticated nature of the culture presented within it.

Meanwhile, it was also pointed out that in the middle of the second millennium BC, a number of Indo-European invasions apparently occured in the Middle East, wherein Indo-European peoples the Hittites, Mit tani and Kassites conquered and ruled Mesopotamia for some centuries. An Aryan invasion of India would have been another version of this same movement of Indo-European peoples. On top of this, excavators of the Indus valley culture, like Wheeler, thought they found evidence of destruction of the culture by an outside invasion confirming this.

The Vedic culture was thus said to be that of primitive nomads who came out of Central Asia with their horse-drawn chariots and iron weapons and overthrew the cities of the more advanced Indus valley culture, with their superior battle tactics. It was pointed out that no horses, chariots or iron was discovered in Indus valley sites.

This was how the Aryan invasion theory formed and has remained since then. Though little has been discovered that confirms this theory, there has been much hesitancy to question it, much less to give it up.

Further excavations discovered horses not only in Indus Valley sites but also in pre-Indus sites. The use of the horse has thus been proven for the whole range of ancient Indian history. Evidence of the wheel, and an Indus seal showing a spoked wheel as used in chariots, has also been found, suggesting the usage of chariots.

Moreover, the whole idea of nomads with chariots has been challenged. Chariots are not the vehicles of nomads. Their usage occured only in ancient urban cultures with much flat land, of which the river plain of north India was the most suitable. Chariots are totally unsuitable for crossing mountains and deserts, as the so-called Aryan invasion required.

That the Vedic culture used iron & must hence date later than the introduction of iron around 1500 BC revolves around the meaning of the Vedic term “ayas”, interpreted as iron. ‘Ayas’ in other Indo- European languages like Latin or German usually means copper, bronze or ore generally, not specially iron.

There is no reason to insist that in such earlier Vedic times, ‘ayas’ meant iron, particularly since other metals are not mentioned in the ‘Rig Veda’ (except gold that is much more commonly referred to than ayas). Moreover, the ‘Atharva Veda’ and ‘Yajur Veda’ speak of different colors of ‘ayas'(such as red & black), showing that it was a generic term. Hence it is clear that ‘ayas’ generally meant metal and not specifically iron.

Moreover, the enemies of the Vedic people in the ‘Rig Veda’ also use ayas, even for making their cities, as do the Vedic people themselves. Hence there is nothing in Vedic literture to show that either the Vedic culture was an ironbased culture or that there enemies were not.

The ‘Rig Veda’ describes its Gods as ‘destroyers of cities’. This was used also to regard the Vedic as a primitive non-urban culture that destroys cities and urban civilization. However, there are also many verses in the ‘Rig Veda’ that speak of the Aryans as having having cities of their own and being protected by cities upto a hundred in number. Aryan Gods like Indra, Agni, Saraswati and the Adityas are praised as being like a city.

Many ancient kings, including those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, had titles like destroyer or conquerer of cities. This does not turn them into nomads. Destruction of cities also happens in modern wars; this does not make those who do this nomads. Hence the idea of Vedic culture as destroying but not building the cities is based upon ignoring what the Vedas actually say about their own cities.

Further excavation revealed that the Indus Valley culture was not des- troyed by outside invasion, but according to internal causes and, most likely, floods. Most recently a new set of cities has been found in India (like the Dwaraka and Bet Dwaraka sites by S.R. Rao and the National Institute of Oceanography in India) which are intermidiate between those of the Indus culture and later ancient India as visited by the Greeks. This may eliminate the so-called dark age following the presumed Aryan invasion and shows a continuous urban occupation in India back to the beginning of the Indus culture.

The interpretation of the religion of the Indus Valley culture -made incidentlly by scholars such as Wheeler who were not religious scholars much less students of Hinduism was that its religion was different than the Vedic and more likely the later Shaivite religion. However, further excavations both in Indus Valley site in Gujarat, like Lothal, and those in Rajsthan, like Kalibangan show large number of fire altars like those used in the Vedic religion, along with bones of oxen, potsherds, shell jewelry and other items used in the rituals described in the ‘Vedic Brahmanas’. Hence the Indus Valley culture evidences many Vedic practices that can not be merely coincidental. That some of its practices appeared non-Vedic to its excavators may also be attributed to their misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of Vedic and Hindu culture generally, wherein Vedism and Shaivism are the same basic tradition.

We must remember that ruins do not necessarily have one interpretation. Nor does the ability to discover ruins necessarily gives the ability to interpret them correctly.

The Vedic people were thought to have been a fair-skinned race like the Europeans owing to the Vedic idea of a war between light and darkness, and the Vedic people being presented as children of light or children of the sun. Yet this idea of a war between light and darkness exists in most ancient cultures, including the Persian and the Egyptian. Why don’t we interpret their scriptures as a war between light and dark-skinned people? It is purely a poetic metaphor, not a cultural statement. Moreover, no real traces of such a race are found in India.

Anthropologists have observed that the present population of Gujarat is composed of more or less the same ethnic groups as are noticed at Lothal in 2000 BC. Similarly, the present population of the Punjab is said to be ethnically the same as the population of Harappa and Rupar 4000 years ago. Linguistically the present day population of Gujrat and Punjab belongs to the Indo-Aryan language speaking group. The only inference that can be drawn from the anthropological and linguistic evidences adduced above is that the Harappan population in the Indus Valley and Gujrat in 2000 BC was composed of two or more groups, the more dominent among them having very close ethnic affinities with the present day Indo-Aryan speaking population of India.

In other words there is no racial evidence of any such Indo-Aryan invasion of India but only of a continuity of the same group of people who traditionally considered themselves to be Aryans.

There are many points in fact that prove the Vedic nature of the Indus Valley culture. Further excavation has shown that the great majority of the sites of the Indus Valley culture were east, not west of Indus. In fact, the largest concentration of sites appears in an area of Punjab and Rajsthan near the dry banks of ancient Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Vedic culture was said to have been founded by the sage Manu between the banks of Saraswati and Drishadvati rivers. The Saraswati is lauded as the main river (naditama) in the ‘Rig Veda’ & is the most frequently mentioned in the text. It is said to be a great flood and to be wide, even endless in size. Saraswati is said to be “pure in course from the mountains to the sea”. Hence the Vedic people were well acquainted with this river and regarded it as their immemorial hoemland.

The Saraswati, as modern land studies now reveal, was indeed one of the largest, if not the largest river in India. In early ancient and pre-historic times, it once drained the Sutlej, Yamuna and the Ganges, whose courses were much different than they are today. However, the Saraswati river went dry at the end of the Indus Valley culture and before the so-called Aryan invasion or before 1500 BC. In fact this may have caused the ending of the Indus culture. How could the Vedic Aryans know of this river and establish their culture on its banks if it dried up before they arrived? Indeed the Saraswati as described in the ‘Rig Veda’ appears to more accurately show it as it was prior to the Indus Valley culture as in the Indus era it was already in decline.

Vedic and late Vedic texts also contain interesting astronomical lore. The Vedic calender was based upon astronomical sightings of the equinoxes and solstices. Such texts as ‘Vedanga Jyotish’ speak of a time when the vernal equinox was in the middle of the Nakshtra Aslesha (or about 23 degrees 20 minutes Cancer). This gives a date of 1300 BC. The ‘Yajur Veda’ and ‘Atharva Veda’ speak of the vernal equinox in the Krittikas (Pleiades; early Taurus) and the summer solstice (ayana) in Magha (early Leo). This gives a date about 2400 BC. Yet earlier eras are mentioned but these two have numerous references to substantiate them. They prove that the Vedic culture existed at these periods and already had a sophisticated system of astronomy. Such references were merely ignored or pronounced unintelligible by Western scholars because they yielded too early a date for the ‘Vedas’ than what they presumed, not because such references did not exist.

Vedic texts like ‘Shatapatha Brahmana’ and ‘Aitereya Brahmana’ that mention these astronomical references list a group of 11 Vedic Kings, including a number of figures of the ‘Rig Veda’, said to have conquered the region of India from ‘sea to sea’. Lands of the Aryans are mentioned in them from Gandhara (Afganistan) in the west to Videha (Nepal) in the east, and south to Vidarbha (Maharashtra). Hence the Vedic people were in these regions by the Krittika equinox or before 2400 BC. These passages were also ignored by Western scholars and it was said by them that the ‘Vedas’ had no evidence of large empires in India in Vedic times. Hence a pattern of ignoring literary evidence or misinterpreting them to suit the Aryan invasion idea became prevalent, even to the point of changing the meaning of Vedic words to suit this theory.

According to this theory, the Vedic people were nomads in the Punjab, comming down from Central Asia. However, the ‘Rig Veda’ itself has nearly 100 references to ocean (samudra), as well as dozens of references to ships, and to rivers flowing in to the sea. Vedic ancestors like Manu, Turvasha, Yadu and Bhujyu are flood figures, saved from across the sea. The Vedic God of the sea, Varuna, is the father of many Vedic seers and seer families like Vasishta, Agastya and the Bhrigu seers. To preserve the Aryan invasion idea it was assumed that the Vedic (and later sanskrit) term for ocean, samudra, originally did not mean the ocean but any large body of water, especially the Indus river in Punjab.

Here the clear meaning of a term in ‘Rig Veda’ and later times verified by rivers like Saraswati mentioned by name as flowing into the sea was altered to make the Aryan invasion theory fit. Yet if we look at the index to translation of the ‘Rig Veda’ by Griffith for example, who held to this idea that samudra didn’t really mean the ocean, we find over 70 references to ocean or sea. If samudra does noe mean ocean why was it traslated as such? It is therefore without basis to locate Vedic kings in Central Asia far from any ocean or from the massive Saraswati river, which form the background of their land and the symbolism of their hymns.

One of the latest archeological ideas is that the Vedic culture is evidenced by Painted Grey Ware pottery in north India, which apears to date around 1000 BC and comes from the same region between the Ganges and Yamuna as later Vedic culture is related to. It is thought to be an inferior grade of pottery and to be associated with the use of iron that the ‘Vedas’ are thought to mention. However it is associated with a pig and rice culture, not the cow and barley culture of the ‘Vedas’. Moreover it is now found to be an organic development of indegenous pottery, not an introduction of invaders.

Painted Grey Ware culture represents an indigenous cultural development and does not reflect any cultural intrusion from the West i.e. an Indo-Aryan invasion. Therefore, there is no archeological evidence corroborating the fact of an Indo-Aryan invasion.

In addition, the Aryans in the Middle East, most notably the Hittites, have now been found to have been in that region atleast as early as 2200 BC, wherein they are already mentioned. Hence the idea of an Aryan invasion into the Middle East has been pushed back some centuries, though the evidence so far is that the people of the mountain regions of the Middle East were Indo-Europeans as far as recorded history can prove.

The Aryan Kassites of the ancient Middle East worshipped Vedic Gods like Surya and the Maruts, as well as one named Himalaya. The Aryan Hittites and Mittani signed a treaty with the name of the Vedic Gods Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatyas around 1400 BC. The Hittites have a treatise on chariot racing written in almost pure Sanskrit. The IndoEuropeans of the ancient Middle East thus spoke Indo-Aryan, not Indo-Iranian languages and thereby show a Vedic culture in that region of the world as well.

The Indus Valley culture had a form of writing, as evidenced by numerous seals found in the ruins. It was also assumed to be non-Vedic and probably Dravidian, though this was never proved. Now it has been shown that the majority of the late Indus signs are identical with those of later Hindu Brahmi and that there is an organic development between the two scripts. Prevalent models now suggest an Indo-European base for that language.

It was also assumed that the Indus Valley culture derived its civilization from the Middle East, probably Sumeria, as antecedents for it were not found in India. Recent French excavations at Mehrgarh have shown that all the antecedents of the Indus Valley culture can be found within the subcontinent and going back before 6000 BC.

In short, some Western scholars are beginning to reject the Aryan invasion or any outside origin for Hindu civilization.

Current archeological data do not support the existence of an Indo Aryan or European invasion into South Asia at any time in the preor protohistoric periods. Instead, it is possible to document archeologically a series of cultural changes reflecting indigenous cultural development from prehistoric to historic periods. The early Vedic literature describes not a human invasion into the area, but a fundamental restructuring of indigenous society. The Indo-Aryan invasion as an academic concept in 18th and 19th century Europe reflected the cultural milieu of the period. Linguistic data were used to validate the concept that in turn was used to interpret archeological and anthropological data.

In other words, Vedic literature was interpreted on the assumption that there was an Aryan invasion. Then archeological evidence was interpreted by the same assumption. And both interpretations were then used to justify each other. It is nothing but a tautology, an exercise in circular thinking that only proves that if assuming something is true, it is found to be true!

Another modern Western scholar, Colin Renfrew, places the IndoEuropeans in Greece as early as 6000 BC. He also suggests such a possible early date for their entry into India.

As far as I can see there is nothing in the Hymns of the ‘Rig Veda’ which demonstrates that the Vedic-speaking population was intrusive to the area: this comes rather from a historical assumption of the ‘comming of the Indo-Europeans.

When Wheeler speaks of ‘the Aryan invasion of the land of the 7 rivers, the Punjab’, he has no warrenty at all, so far as I can see. If one checks the dozen references in the ‘Rig Veda’ to the 7 rivers, there is nothing in them that to me implies invasion: the land of the 7 rivers is the land of the ‘Rig Veda’, the scene of action. Nor is it implied that the inhabitants of the walled cities (including the Dasyus) were any more aboriginal than the Aryans themselves.

Despite Wheeler’s comments, it is difficult to see what is particularly non-Aryan about the Indus Valley civilization. Hence Renfrew suggests that the Indus Valley civilization was in fact Indo-Aryan even prior to the Indus Valley era:

This hypothesis that early Indo-European languages were spoken in North India with Pakistan and on the Iranian plateau at the 6th millennium BC has the merit of harmonizing symmetrically with the theory for the origin of the IndoEuropean languages in Europe. It also emphasizes the continuity in the Indus Valley and adjacent areas from the early neolithic through to the floruit of the Indus Valley civilization.

This is not to say that such scholars appreciate or understand the ‘Vedas’ their work leaves much to be desired in this respect but that it is clear that the whole edifice built around the Aryan invasion is beginning to tumble on all sides. In addition, it does not mean that the ‘Rig Veda’ dates from the Indus Valley era. The Indus Valley culture resembles that of the ‘Yajur Veda’ and the reflect the pre-Indus period in India, when the Saraswati river was more prominent.

The acceptance of such views would create a revolution in our view of history as shattering as that in science caused by Einstein’s theory of relativity. It would make ancient India perhaps the oldest, largest and most central of ancient cultures. It would mean that the Vedic literary record already the largest and oldest of the ancient world even at a 1500 BC date would be the record of teachings some centuries or thousands of years before that. It would mean that the ‘Vedas’ are our most authentic record of the ancient world. It would also tend to validate the Vedic view that the Indo-Europeans and other Aryan peoples were migrants from India, not that the Indo-Aryans were invaders into India. Moreover, it would affirm the Hindu tradition that the Dravidians were early offshoots of the Vedic people through the seer Agastya, and not unaryan peoples.

In closing, it is important to examine the social and political implications of the Aryan invasion idea:

First, it served to divide India into a northern Aryan and southern Dravidian culture which were made hostile to each other. This kept the Hindus divided and is still a source of social tension.

Second, it gave the British an excuse in their conquest of India. They could claim to be doing only what the Aryan ancestors of the Hindus had previously done millennia ago.

Third, it served to make Vedic culture later than and possibly derived from Middle Eastern cultures. With the proximity and relationship of the latter with the Bible and Christianity, this kept the Hindu religion as a sidelight to the development of religion and civilization to the West.

Fourth, it allowed the sciences of India to be given a Greek basis, as any Vedic basis was largely disqualified by the primitive nature of the Vedic culture.

This discredited not only the ‘Vedas’ but the genealogies of the ‘Puranas’ and their long list of the kings before the Buddha or Krishna were left without any historical basis. The ‘Mahabharata’, instead of a civil war in which all the main kings of India participated as it is described, became a local skirmish among petty princes that was later exaggerated by poets. In short, it discredited the most of the Hindu tradition and almost all its ancient literature. It turned its scriptures and sages into fantacies and exaggerations.

This served a social, political and economical purpose of domination, proving the superiority of Western culture and religion. It made the Hindus feel that their culture was not the great thing that their sages and ancestors had said it was. It made Hindus feel ashamed of their culture that its basis was neither historical nor scientific. It made them feel that the main line of civilization was developed first in the Middle East and then in Europe and that the culture of India was peripheral and secondary to the real development of world culture.

Such a view is not good scholarship or archeology but merely cultural imperialism. The Western Vedic scholars did in the intellectual spehere what the British army did in the political realm discredit, divide and conquer the Hindus. In short, the compelling reasons for the Aryan invasion theory were neither literary nor archeological but political and religious that is to say, not scholarship but prejudice. Such prejudice may not have been intentional but deep-seated political and religious views easily cloud and blur our thinking.

It is unfortunate that this this approach has not been questioned more, particularly by Hindus. Even though Indian Vedic scholars like Dayananda saraswati, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Arobindo rejected it, most Hindus today passively accept it. They allow Western, generally Christian, scholars to interpret their history for them and quite naturally Hinduism is kept in a reduced role. Many Hindus still accept, read or even honor the translations of the ‘Vedas’ done by such Christian missionary scholars as Max Muller, Griffith, MonierWilliams and H. H. Wilson. Would modern Christians accept an interpretation of the Bible or Biblical history done by Hindus aimed at converting them to Hinduism? Universities in India also use the Western history books and Western Vedic translations that propound such views that denigrate their own culture and country.

The modern Western academic world is sensitive to critisms of cultural and social biases. For scholars to take a stand against this biased interpretation of the ‘Vedas’ would indeed cause a reexamination of many of these historical ideas that can not stand objective scrutiny.

But if Hindu scholars are silent or passively accept the misinterpretation of their own culture, it will undoubtly continue, but they will have no one to blame but themselves. It is not an issue to be taken lightly, because how a culture is defined historically creates the perspective from which it is viewed in the modern social and intellectual context. Tolerance is not in allowing a false view of one’s own culture and religion to be propagated without question. That is merely self-betrayal.



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29 responses to “The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India

  1. “The Western Vedic scholars did in the intellectual spehere what the British army did in the political realm …

    …what East India Co and sundry capitalists did in the economic field, what missionaries did in religious field, what macaulay did in education, what their desi progenies are doing in all spheres today- discredit, divide and conquer.

  2. Bharat

    “Many Hindus still accept, read or even honor the translations of the ‘Vedas’ done by such Christian missionary scholars as Max Muller, Griffith, MonierWilliams and H. H. Wilson”

    Read what Dr.Prodosh Aich in his book “Lies with long legs” has written about educational credentials of these so called “scholars”

  3. M Raghavan

    Dr. Frawley’s article is insightful and compelling, and I would have to concur with him that there is very little evidence to suggest an Indo-European Aryan invasion into India that led to the development of Vedism. However, just because there was no invasion, we cannot rule out the evidence that there are two distinct cultures in India, one resting on the Vedas, which we call Aryan, and the other resting on the mysticism of Tamil poets, which we call Dravidian. I feel that in his argument, Dr. Frawley fails to account for this. Here are a few issues that I would like to question in the hopes that it will generate some interest in the Tamil contribution to Hindu thinking.

    1. Dr. Frawley speaks of the power of light and darkness, a concept that is a part of Vedic scripture. This concept is prevalent in all belief systems that started in Central Asia, Zoriastrianism, Christianity and Islam. All of these traditions demand that man take to the light and avoid the darkness. Tamil tradition is foreign to this, emphasizing instead a non-ritualistic sense of faith in which man is at the mercy of a loving god.

    2. Dr. Frawley argues the presence of lingams does in the Indus valley does not suggest an invasion, because Vedism and Shaivism are one and the same. I would beg to differ; there is no mention of Siva as a worshipful deity anywhere in the Vedic texts, as far as I am aware. Vedic Shaivism developed only after Sankara in the 9th Century. Could it be possible that perhaps two cultures, one Vedic, one non-Vedic coexisted in Harappa together?

    3. Dr. Frawley states that in the Shatapatha Brahmana and the the Aiteraya Brahmana mention that the boundaries of Vedic civilization extended from Afghanistan to Nepal to Maharashtra. What happened in the rest of India? If Vedism had merely extended into the South later, as Dr. Frawley later states, than what would explain the extant of Tamil fables, mythologies, unique gods, and literature that Indologists have traced to at least 200 BCE? And why wouldn’t the Vedic texts have mentioned them anywhere. To me, it is clear indication that another civilization, with its own advanced culture was flourishing in the South concurrently with Vedism in the North.

    Again, I must emphatically that I support Dr. Frawley in his arguments against a foreign invasion of India. What I am against is using that argument to deny the existence of Dravidian culture and its role in the development of Hindu thinking.

    • sanjaychoudhry

      This aryan-dravidian thingie is merely a creation of the missionaries. Hindus of north or south never used to this like this.

      Even the word Dravidian was coined by Joseph Cadwell, a British church man, who was the Bishop of Chennai. All Tamil kings in history have been staunch Hindus.

      • M Raghavan

        No doubt that they were, and they were terrific temple builders too. But, the Cholas in particular were great supporters of Tamil Literature, which suggested a non-Vedic of concept of a God who is present in this world, interacting with and blessing the people without condition, who be represented and worshipped in the form of images. Is there anywhere in Veda where there is reference to a form for God other than Fire?

        • sanjaychoudhry

          I don’f know if what you have stated is true or false, but that is a dangerous argument. If logically extended further, it would give Tamils a platform to declare themselves as non-Hindus with separate spritual traditions. This is what the church is working on.

  4. Venkat

    “I would beg to differ; there is no mention of Siva as a worshipful deity anywhere in the Vedic texts, as far as I am aware”

    Sri Rudra Chamakam inter alia Taitriya Samhita a part of Krishna Yajur Veda is dedicated to Lord Siva.

    • M Raghavan

      This is to “Rudra”. “Rudra” is energy, fire, something which is very powerful and also can be unstable. Sivam. a Sanskrit word suggests “subha kaaryam”, which is metaphorically implied as Nataraja or Sundarar in the South.

      As far as can be said of the Brahmanas, fire is the only form for God that we had in Vedic times. Perhaps, we later identified it as bringing Sivam, and therefore being one with Shiva.

      The Tamil tradition of Siva suggest that He is formless and with form, bringing Good to His Creation without Condition.

      • JGN

        Raghavan, the ancient tribes were in awe of fire; so they worshipped the same. Even now the Parsis worship only fire and their place of worship is called “Fire Temple”.

        • Mohan

          The Parsis limited their worship to fire only, because it represented light as opposed to darkness. Note that this dual nature of “good versus evil”, “light versus darkness” was the basis for Occidental Religion. Eastern thought did not see the world in such a polarized way. To the Vedics, fire, as the Yajur Veda says, was the “mouth of God”, the way to communicate with and propitiate him. And that is why the Vedics held it in such esteem, over the other 4 basic elements of nature. But, not all peoples of India held it in such esteem.

          In the Southern traditions, varying natural landscapes (5 in all) were used to express various poetic relationships. Each form of God was somehow related to each of these, so the god of mountains became Muruga, the goddess of the desert Kolli, and the god of the pastoral region thirumAL.

  5. Venkat

    This is a Thevaram of ThiruGnanasambhandar, in Tamil where Lord Siva has been given a form.

    thOdudaiya cheviyan – He wears a ring in His ear, vidaiyERi – Comes on the Holy Bull,
    yOr thUveN madhichUdi – wears a Moon (in Head),
    kAdudaiya chudalaip podipUchi – smears the ash in the cremation ground,
    yen uLLam kavarkaLvan – He is the thief who steals my heart,
    Edudaiya malarAn – One with a flower or the one on the flower having the book(Vedhaas) – Brahma, munain^At paNin^dhEththa aruLcheydha – when prayed earlier blessed him, pIdudaiya piramA pura – Brahmapuram which having a lot of pride,
    mEviya pemmAn ivananRE – This person is the God who resides there.
    If one is really interested in very modern approach to Saivism, the best site in English (very heavily relying on Tamil) is They believe both in form and formless worship. Go to the publications list and surf thru their Temple web sites. They have understood Saivism very well.

    • M Raghavan

      Mr. Venkat,

      This is an excellent translation, Mr. Venkat.

      yen uLLam kavarkaLvam – the one who steals my heart

      An equivalent among the Azhwars is “vanjai kalvan mAmayan” – this clever deceptor, the thief who steals my heart”.

      Both ideas suggest that the it is Lord’s work to win our hearts, our cultivation of bhakthi or jnana is not the operative agent.

      It must be noted that the Nayanmars, the 63 Tamil poets who praised Siva, were well aware of the Vedas, and respected them. That is why the Siva is referred to as “Edudaiya malarAn” – the one who wears Wisdom as a garland”. Note that Veda in this case could easily refer to Sanskrit Veda and Tamizh murai.

      Gurudeva Sivaya Subramaniya Swamigal was perhaps one of the greatest of the Saiva Siddhantha Gurus. I was blessed to meet him on several occasions. He is now succeeded by Bodinatha Swamigal. His lineage propagates Saiva Siddhantam, a blending of Sanskrit Veda and Tamil Thevaram. South Indian Thiruvainavam (Sri Vaishnavism) with its mix of Sanskrit Veda and Vedanta, and Tamil Divya Prabhandam is yet another example of the synthesis of Sanskrit and Tamil thought.

      I hope the above assuages Mr. Choudry’s fears that Tamils will make some effort to proclaim themselves as non-Hindus. In reality, this is not at all the case. I am only of the opinion that the contribution to Tamils in developing the culture and religion of Hinduism has never been given the proper attention that it deserves, the article by Dr. Frawley being one example of many.

  6. Venkat

    The form and the formless is in the equilibrium of the mind. The form if on the left hand side , then the formless is on the right hand side. Now the level of your devotion makes to go the left or right direction. If you can make the ratio 1 of the left to right , then you can switch from the form to the formless and formless to form. If you tend to the left with the form , you must have Thodudiya Cheviyan , but if have the ability to go the right , then you can be Chidananda Rupah , Sivoham Sivoham, which is the repeat line of the brilliant AtmaSatakam verses. In material world , humans , majority of them are on the left side ( esp Sanatanis) , so the form becomes commonality in worship. This is the beauty of Sanatana Dharma.

    • Mohan

      I do not think it is quite so polarized. Even if you see God as having a specific name and form, you can recognize that this entire world is His, i.e., being pervaded by Him. His pervading the world is both a Vedantic and Tamil concept, but the Tamils recognize this is as being “arul”, the very act of His blessing. Therefore we can see Him everywhere as a personal deity. To do this, though, one must forget the self and self-effort and see only His Grace as the operating agent.

  7. JGN

    Mohan, who has told you that god is a HE? Why the god cannot be a SHE? In Nature, every thing is created by a Mother. Various forms of Mother goddesses or Kalis (Ashta Lakshmi) are worshipped throughout India. Even the Europeans believed that Hagia Sophia “delivered” planet earth!!

    It was the “male chauvinist pigs” who deprived women their rightful place in the Society by the creation of male gods. The “formless god” was created much later when people lost faith in Indra, Varuna, Agni, etc.

    According to Hindu philosophy, it was OmKar that existed in the “beginning” which bifurcated into three viz. Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Preservator) and Shiva (The Destroyer). The Ancient Sages of our Country believed that the Universe originated from a Single Primal Principle called SAT and in what ever from we worship, the same ultimately reaches the said primal principle (SAT). That was one reason for the Religious tolerance in our Country.

    So if you think of God as Muruka, it is Muruka; if you think of God as Ganapati, it is Ganapati; if you think of God as Krishna, it is Krishna; if you think of God as a Bull, it is a Bull. Have you seen the Bull Temple at Bangalore? There is no other diety in that Temple!!

  8. M Raghavan

    I know of the Nandi temple in Bangalore, and have visited several temples to the Goddess in my native city of Bangalore.

    You suggest that the Supreme Being can be female, and then speak of Omkar becoming Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. All these three are male gods, so where does the Sacred Feminine fit in?

    The idea of God as Woman is probably as old as humanity itself; ancient cave paintings and ancient idols from the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations show the Sacred being worshiped as a pregnant woman, the One from Whom we are born. This concept is mentioned by the Tamil poets’. The Azhwars call Her “ennE peRRA ThAI” – She Who gave birth to me.

    The earliest references to the Sacred Feminine that I know of is “mAri”, the Goddess of Rain, who bestows the Earth with Her Bounties. Another form is “koLLi”, danger, Whose shrines were placed at the edge of villages to warn people to not forge ahead into unfamiliar territories. This concept of the Mother was adopted, becoming Kali in Calcutta and elsewhere.

    Again, what I am sharing is intended to show that two distinct cultures exist in India, and Hinduism has elements of both. Note that I said cultures, not races. In fact, it is interesting to note the word “Aryan” itself could very likely be a derivation of “arAIyar” – the noble, the civilized – suggesting those that put others before themselves.

  9. gajanan

    This is an interesting presentation. If you go clicking play all the way thru then , you will find the science very interesting. Origin in Africa , then to India and then all the way to Borneo, Australia, then a drastic climate change , moving Northwards towards Central Asia and Europe. This is SOppenheimer’s brilliant piece of work in archeogenetics.

    This also puts down the Aryan invasion theory. In fact , as it describes an upward movement towards Central Asia.

    There was posting in your web site earlier about Parashurama , which I have dug out

    Please read the article of Dr Horsch Fredrich

    This article is available as a pdf file from Migration and Diffusion web site.

    Here is extract from the article.
    Page 56
    I DO NOT believe in an “Indo-European from somewhere in the West to India. My own scenario (greatly influenced Vennemann) is my accompanying map.

    In the last page he writes about the legend of Parashurama, who is believed to have expelled war like races from India.

    If you connect Oppeinheimers Map based on arheogenetics and the article of the linguist above, it looks complementing each other. One thing which comes out of this is which many have been arguing is that both Sankrit and Tamil in its best lingusitic and pandit like form still exists in India and not anywhere else in the world. This is true. The words from here may have gone upwards to the Northern Hemisphere and most probably due to migration as described by Oppeinheimer and the war like tribes migration ( mostly Sanskrit) as proposed by the linguist in the above article. This is the reason , you find some words which have similar meaning to Sanskrit words in Indo- European family of languages. The AIT theory holds no water if you see and read the above articles.

    • sanjaychoudhry

      I personally believe it is the Indians who migrated from India to Europe, carrying their language and culture with them. There is enough evidence.

      The early British indologists, driven by racial arrogance, couldn’t digest this and deliberately reversed the flow of people from Europe to India.

  10. M Raghavan

    Mr. Gajanan’s contribution to this discussion is very enlightening. I am not familiar with Dr. Friedrich’s research, but I must say that it is quite compelling and rational. But, I am quite familiar with Dr. Oppenheimer and his research. Dr. Oppenheimer’s hypotheses puts an end to the idea of some “Aryan” race; because it provides us all with the same racial source. In addition, it shows that the cultures of India existed some 65,000 and 85,000 years ago, not the 7000 years that Muller and others once led us to believe. Mr. Choudry’s conjecture that it was India that civilized Europe, and not the other way around finds compelling evidence here, as well.

    The common thread of language between Sanskrit and Tamil probably has its origins in the African subcontinent. But, as language, culture, and literature, it has certainly been preserved to a large degree in India, the oldest beneficiary of these ancient ways.

    My compliments to Mr. Gajanan for his valuable insight.

  11. Mohan

    Those wanting a quick overview of the Bradshaw Foundations research may wish to watch episode 1 of the BBC’s “Story of India”. Members of Dr. Oppenheimer’s research are interviewed in their interview of a family in Tamil Nadu whose DNA matches that of Eve, a 65000 fossil from Africa whom scientists believe is the earliest known carrier of the particular gene that all human beings now have to varying degrees.

  12. Sanatan Dharma is the oldest culture in the world, and there was a time when it was spread throughout the world. People can find swastika in every culture like the American Indians, Greece, troy, Italy, Russia and many other countries have this symbol. Look at the 108 symbols of god in Sanatan Dharma and their origin. Things will become very clear about the origin of humanity in this world. It is time to free ourselves from the lies and deception spread throughout the world about our culture.

    Dont forget, even today in Sanskrit and Hindi the words for Divorce and any other abusive words do not exist. Yet it contains words like Yantra ( machine) and Vimana ( air-craft), which existed far before the western civilization constructed aircraft themselves.

  13. gaurav

    Dear brother MRaghavan, I read the Vedas so I can tell you that vedas claim that God has no form, not even that of fire. Please understand the beauty of vedas brother. It says that god is to the spiritual world what fire is to the material world. it is used as an analogy. God is infinite therefore he can have no form. he is infinte in qualities, infinite in deeds and has infinite names. one of his names is Shiva. So yes, Shiva is a Vedic word (OM NAMAH SHIVAAYA CHA – Yajur Veda 16/41) Shiva means the abode of salvation.
    Also brother, the vedas claim that they are gifted from god himself to all humanity. so please brother i dont mind these foreigners lack of understanding but i request you not to distinguish tamils from aryans or vedic culture. We are one. Our forefathers are the same.

  14. M Raghavan


    I am not intending to differentiate anyone. Indeed if we are to believe the Vedas, we should know that all humanity are brothers: vasudEva kutumbham Ekam. I am merely trying to examine how the Vedas served as the template – if you will – for several streams of thought in India; and how one has been given scant review by Western writers.

    If I have gone to extremes, I sincerely apologize. It had not been my intent.

  15. dalit

    Dalits had created the greatest civilization on earth in Harappa and Mohenjadaro. The Brahmins who came from central asia and called themselves aryans were so jealous of this civilization. They came and looted us and took all over wealth. They raped our women, took away our cattle. The genocide of Hitler is nothing in comparison with this. But out historians don’t even talk about this. We have the living proof of harappa and mohenjadaro in pakistan. Ours heart bleeds when I see those ruins. How cruel the brahmins are. This finished our civilization and drove all the people to tamil nadu. It is the great leader Periyar who has liberated our thoughts from this slavery. Periyar said Brahmins are like snakes. Kill them wherever you find them. We should follow periyar and reclaim our lost heritage of Indus valley civilization. We should identify the students of Chanakya who read the arthashastra and used it to destroy Indus Valley civilization and teach these brahmins a lesson. Chanakya’s strategy will not work any more.

    • som

      These are just starters to prove the point the Aryan Invasion theory is a thin air smoke puffed out by the cigars of Christian missionaries so that they can convert the uneducated tribal and Dalit crowd to Christianity.

  16. Avinash

    @ som, I think our friend “dalit” deserve a Nobel Prize for establishing how the Indus Valley civilization was destroyed. Asko Parpola and Iravatam Mahadevan were unable to conclusively prove how it was destroyed, even after spending the whole of their life time for the cause.

    • som

      The collapse of Aryan Invasion Theory and the prevalence of Indigenism.
      Lecture delivered on 26 Feb. 2011 by Nicholas Kazanas at IIT, Madras

  17. Truth Will Prevail

    Indus Valley Civilizations collapse due to an Aryan Invasion which never happened is a lie. A long and severe draught is what brought down Indus Valley Civilization. People moved out of that place searching for water. Indus Valley building codes are found throughout India. A good example is the religious bath with steps that goes down towards the sacred pool. Housing and street planning in various parts of India is very much similar to Harappa and Mohenjodaro.

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