Around the time the Indus Valley Civilization declined, new groups of people came into the Indian subcontinent from the northwest. Historians call these people the Aryans. We have learnt almost everything we know about the Aryans from their sacred religious books called the Vedas. This period of Indian history is therefore known as the Vedic period. Where did they come from? The Aryans are thought to have originated in the areas surrounding the Caspian Sea in southern Russia. They were basically pastoralists. When pasture land became scarce in their homeland, groups of Aryans are believed to have left their homeland in search of fresh pastures for their cattle. Some groups went westwards, towards Europe, and some, through Persia and Afghanistan, moved to India.
_Getting Ahead In Social Science With CCE, Grade 6, by Vijaya Sridharan, Hemalatha Seshadri and Mahalakshmi Ramjee
The source for this study derives primarily from linguistics, with linguistic and etymological similarities in language structure, grammar, nomenclature and particular words, all deriving from a Proto-Indo-European language (as is the more appropriate and archaeologically appreciated term for Aryans – Proto-Indo-European) that evolved originally into the Sanskritic tongue. Words such as maatr, pitr and deva are similar to various European tongues, and this linguistic evidence, along with study of the Rig Veda, first of the four holy scriptures of the Hindu religion known as the Vedas.
Max Müller, well versed in the Sanskritic tongue, studied the Rig Veda but, due to less understanding of Sanskrit in the 19th century, took a few derivations that he claimed were in alignment with his largening Aryan theory, such as the Ganges in the Rig Veda being more important than the holiest river as known now in the Rig Veda, the Saraswati (claimed by various archaeologists and historians to be the Ghaggar Hakkra river).
This fairly adequate research in the archaeology of pottery, linguistics and etymology allowed Max Müller to have sufficient evidence to prove the advent of the Proto-Indo-European peoples who either invaded or settled in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, during what was then the Indus-Saraswati Valley Civilization.
According to the Aryan theory, the Proto-Indo-Europeans drove the original inhabitants of the largest blooming civilization south beyond the Vindhya ranges, called the Dasyu, commoners, and the current genetic races of Eurasia are primarily bloomed in the Proto-Indo-Europeans.
Therefore, the question arises – Proto-Indo-European Settlement/Invasion Theory: fact or fiction?
Hence, in 2009, the Banaras Hindu University conducted an inter-continental research in cellular molecular biology and genetics by using low resolution genetic markers. Later, in 2011, they used high-resolution autosomes, all 23 major genetic chromosomes, to conduct a superb inter-continental research that disproved the Aryan theory genetically, by proving no gene mixtures in India for 60,000 years.
The only evidence for the Proto-Indo-European Theory is linguistics, but cutting-edge technology has proven the Proto-Indo-European Settlement/Invasion Theory and genetic spread incorrect.
The group of scientists from around the world include Dr. Gyaneshwar Chaubey, from the Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia, Professor Lalji Singh from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, India, and Dr. Kumarasamy Thangaraj, a senior scientist at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Even so, one may question how to explain various verses in the Rig Veda, and a certain difference in beliefs occur within the peoples of the time.
For instance, the Rig Veda calls Indra, King of the Devas, Purandara, from pura, city and andara, annihilator, hence the destroyer of cities. It mentions the Aryas, nobles, opposing the Dasyu in strife. The tales of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana pose similar questions. Historians suggest the Mahabharata is a tale of the initial inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization, losing to the invading Aryans. The same is suggested for the Æsir-Vanir war, a mythical Norse war that occurred between two groups of deities.
A theory is supported in this article.
In the texts of Hinduism, there are two races of deities – the Asuras (often translated as ‘demons’) and the Devas (translated as ‘celestials’). In the Puranic theology, the Asuras are greedy, evil, and ruthless, and oppose the celestials, the virtuous and just Devas. Even so, in the stories that make up the precise theology, even though Asuras are referred to as ‘evil’ and the Devas as ‘good’, the Devas seem to perform cowardly, villainous acts, while the Asuras act just and noble, hence causing many people to, within their personal emotions, label Devas as ‘evil’ and Asuras as ‘good’. This caused the transition of the Asura-Deva conflict in Zoroastrianism, where the Ahuras are labeled ‘good’ and the Daevas labeled ‘evil’. For those who pity the ‘good’ Asuras, there is a historically plausible version where the Asuras are the original inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization, while the Devas are the invading Aryans, according to the Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Indo-Iranian Theory, where the Aryans, derived from Sanskrit Arya, meaning noble, invade and destroy the civilization. Further support to this theory is that Indra, king of the celestials, is referred to as Purandara, meaning ‘the destroyer of cities’, and the linguistic connections between European, Iranian and Indian languages. In addition to this, there is some disputed archaeological evidence found through pottery. To further add to the Asura-Deva split, there is a Nordic conflict between deities – the Æsir-Vanir conflict. The word Æsir is etymologically similar to Asura. This, along with striking similarities between the mythologies of various countries, further supports the Aryan Theory.
In 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, a group of scientists used cutting-edge technology, archaeology and genetics to completely disprove the Aryan theory. But there is still vast historical evidence for the Asura-Deva conflict. So, what was this conflict based on? Where, and when did it take place? And how did the rest of the world get to know about it?
There is another theory, hardly supported by historians and scholars, referred to as the India Urheimat, Indigenous Aryan, or Out of India Theory, which suggests that people from India migrated to other nations. There is evidence both for and against it, but neither side is as convincing as the debate about the Proto-Indo-European Theory, which has finally ended.
Linguistic evidence for the OI Theory includes the name Scandinavia possibly deriving from Skanda, the son of Rudra or Agni in Vedic scriptures. Genetic evidence has been published, but there is no proof from perfect calculations or cutting-edge technology.
Hence, for now, let us partially, if not wholly, discredit that theory.
Considering the contradictions in Hindu scriptures, let us take older, more trustworthy versions; discrediting the Puranas is necessary, as the Puranas are possibly largely Christian-influenced, but this tale happens much before Christianity emerged. The oldest Hindu scripture is the Rig Veda, where neither Asuras nor Devas are portrayed with extreme, probably nonexistent concepts such as ‘good’ and ‘evil’. The Asuras, there, are deities of society, moral law, humanity, anthropology and culture, while the Devas are deities of natural forces beyond human control.
We can thus maintain that the Asuras were technologically advanced tribes who wanted to do away with simple rural or agrarian hierarchies, and form civilization, while the Devas do not want this advancement, due to:
a) tough socio-economic changes, and unknown political hierarchies, and thus fear of the lack of the adaptation for common people
b) belief that sudden advancement was impossible
c) hesitance for causing the destruction of natural habitats, wildlife et cetera
Some Devas, thus, became eco-terrorists, wishing to maintain a rural, tribal way of life, still sophisticated in the rising economical and technological change, yet not through civilization.
An example from mythology on the conflict is the story of the destruction of the Kandava forest by Arjuna and Krishna, famous heroes of the Mahabharata, along with the fire-deity and Asura god Agni. The Devas, under Indra, oppose this destruction of forests, and attempt to stop it.
Despite Puranic texts maintaining that Krishna was a Deva, the Rig Veda mentions Krishna as an Asura enemy of Indra.
Even so, a problem encountered is thus: Agni, in the first verse of the Rig Veda, is called the seer Angiras; even so, while Angiras and his grandson Brghu seem to have Asura viewpoints, the Bhargava-Angirasas, descendants of Brghu, seem to have Deva viewpoints, as does Ghora Angirasa, mentioned in the Chandogya Upanishad as the preceptor to Krishna.
Thus, we can conclude that various descendants of Asura or Deva tribes may have different viewpoints, as is the political situation today.
There is proof concerning the Indus Valley Civilization being the originator of the Rig and Atharva Vedas, as well as the earlier Upanishads.
Despite historians initially saying the residents of the IVC were not nature-lovers, there is evidence, including the Pashupati seal, saying that it was separated – there were even vegetarians amongst the residents of the IVC; the Devas were, probably, vegetarians.
The Sramana tradition, which supports the belief of biocentrism ethically, saying that animals are as socially and morally important in society, were major parts of the Devas, leading ancients who followed the Sramana tradition being Ghora Angirasa, who is often believed to be the Jain Tirthankara known as Neminath, and Rishabha, the first Jain Tirthankara, often believed to be the historical Shiva himself, Shiva being a major deity in Hinduism; Rishabha is depicted as a Deva through the Pashupati Seal, discovered in Mohenjo Daro, where he is shown as the ‘protector of nonhuman organisms’. In Vedic religion, Shiva is referred to as Varuna, lord of the seas.
Rudra, or Shiva, has earned the name of Pashupati, protector of nonhuman organisms, where pati derives from the root pa, to defend, or to protect, and pasu means nonhuman organism, initially meaning cow. This may affirm he was a Deva. His twin form, Mrigavyadha, is referred to be more Asura-like, Mrigavyadha meaning hunter of beasts, from mriga, deer, or beast, andvyadha, hunter. Perhaps he had a brother who opposed him, or vice versa, which is more likely i.e. Rishabha opposed his brother. Pashupati can also refer to his support of fertility cults, i.e. the Devas.
Shiva, in mythology, is husband to the goddess Durga, who is Prakriti, nature. This may be metaphor for him supporting the forest tribes.
The Asuras wished to make Dakshinavarta, the lands south of Vindhyas, and all remaining wild or rural areas throughout the land of Bharata, into proper, prospering cities. The propagation of civilization was the ultimate aim of the Asuras, thus resulting in socio-economic progress. The nation of Panchala was an Asura nation, thus giving it support from majority of the Yadu tribes and the sons of Pandu. The Devas were scientists and intellectuals who believed that wild areas were necessary for preservation of various ecosystems; ecologists who wished against the conversion of wild areas to cities.
In Vedic culture, the Asuras were gods of moral law, order and culture, while the Devas were gods of nature. The Asuras, historically speaking, probably wanted the IVC to expand further, causing encroachment of villages, rural areas and forests.
The Devas, consisted of tribes such as the terrible Rakshasas of legend (often referred to as Rikshasas; Vriksha, or tree people), Kirat, Kimpurush, Kinnar, and the horse-bringers of Gandhara, the Gandharvas, who in mythology too brought horses. They opposed this newly emerging feudal hierarchy, as the nation-states flourished, with Dwaraka becoming a naval power.
The southern kingdom, such as the kings of the monkey-banner from Kishkinda (referred to in the myths as Vanaras, literally ‘monkeys’), and the Pandyas, Cheras, Cholas and the Bhargava-Angirasas, under the famed mythical Rama Jamadagneya, alongside the kings of Kalinga, and the eastern kingdoms of Anga, Vanga, earlier Kashi and Kosala, as well as Magadha supported the Deva conflict, as did the kings of the northeast, except Naraka.
The Deva-Asura conflict is similar to the Æsir-Vanir War, in essence, the Kurukshetra War, where the fertility deities, Vanir, are defeated by the Æsir.
Evidence suggests the Mahabharata, historically, was older than the Ramayana (a theory derived from Yuganta, by Irawati Karve). The Kuru kingdom flourished around 1400 BCE-800 BCE, and an estimation, from dates taken from texts that say that the epic took place 1150 years before the ascension of Mahapadma Nanda (382 BCE). Carbon-dating of a piece of wood from Dwaraka, along with some pottery, suggests a similar date for the Mahabharata, and hence the Ramayana might have happened around 1000 BCE – 700 BCE.
Of the foreigners, the Yavanas, Greeks, were divided amongst who to support – most supported Asuras, but some, like Kala-Yavana, supported the Devas under Emperor Jarasandha.
In the Kurukshetra War, evidence suggests that the Pandavas were Asura-supporters. The Rig Veda says ‘Amongst the Asura enemies of Indra, is Krishna of Darkness’. Krishna was a pupil of Ghora Angirasa, though they were of the same age, and cousins. Acharya Ghora’s marriage was arranged by Krishna, but Ghora, seeing the slaughter of animals, boiled in fury, stopped the slaughter, and retreated into the woods, according to later Jain texts.
Further evidence for Krishna being an Asura is provided in the Mahabharata’s Adi Parva, in the chapter called ‘Kandava-Daha’, where Krishna destroys the forest of Kandava to build a city.
Thus, the Aryan theory is disproved wholly.