Indigenous Aryan Theorists now-a-days are becoming inveterate adherents of the claims those cannot be substantiated even on the basis of common logic. The paper of Kazanas “Rigveda is pre-Harappan” (June 2006) 1 too is no exception, as Kazanas too seems to harp Indigenous Aryan lore while substantially stretching back the time of Rig Veda to claim authorship over Indus-Ghaggar Civilization (IGC) to which, now-a-days, Vedicists blatantly have started calling “Indus-Sarasvati Civilization.”
Anyway, let us have a look at the Kazanas arguments and what the realities are.
Claim 1) Horses and Chariots: Kazanas claim that IGC knew horse and spoked-wheel chariots. He confirms that the horses in their wild state were present in India from c 17000 and the domesticated horse was present during mature Harappan times. Also he claims, citing S. Piggot, the sophisticated type of vehicles with one or two pair of wheels with their axels were found in Indus and Rhine by around 3000. BB Lal have presented the terracotta wheels from Lothal, Banavali and Rakhigarhi etc. those show emanating from hubs the painted lines that might indicate spokes. So far, if above is considered, we have to agree that the IGC could have known the horses and wheeled vehicles. IGC people were expert traders and had come across many civilizations of those times with whom they traded. Even if there were no ‘indigenous’ horses in Indus regions they could have imported them from other places if found useful.
So, in a way, horse-chariot issue cannot become the foundation to prove the movements of so-called IE’s or making them responsible for introducing horses to India. Rather, horse-chariot issue is overrated.
What Kazanas suggests further is more interesting. He claims that the only real-life vehicle mentioned in Rig Veda is pulled by oxen and not horses. AMT theory proposes the chariots too being introduced by migrating IE’s to India. To refute this claim, Kazanas asserts that there are no remains of chariots in India from 1500 onwards till 700 BC. He alludes from this, to refute claims of AIT/AMT, that the supposed invaders, this would mean, the IE’ didn’t bring chariots with them!
Though this is true, Kazanas intentions are otherwise. He wants to prove that though RV knew chariots, it did not know the spoked- wheels since spokes were an invention of about second millennium BC. He claims that the “ara” word for spoke in RV is later interpolation or alternatively originally ‘ara’ could have meant something else other than spokes.
Here, we must consider few facts. Vedic Ratha could have been even a simple bullock cart or wagon, sometimes drawn by the horses as per need. Oxen weren’t unknown to the Vedic tribes, hence to move heavy loads bulls too could have been used alternatively to pull carts or wagons. World civilizations have used different animal, available in their regions, to draw the carts or chariots. There is nothing special about horses and chariots, whether spoke-wheeled or not, making some group of the people superior over others. It also is but natural that the solid wheels gradually would have been replaced with spoked wheels for reducing the weight. However, till recently solid-wheel carts too were in vogue. If Rig Vedic Ratha just meant cart and not the chariot, as some indigenous Aryan Theorists claim, it will just prove that the Rig Veda had no vocabulary to denote carts or else they could not differentiate between chariots and carts.
Which tribe or civilization first invented the spoked wheel cannot be proved conclusively! David Anthony admits that there is no proof where originally the wheel was invented and wool was brought in use for cloth! 2 Hence building some theory on pre-conceived notions could prove to be dangerous to make any conclusion.
The only intention, it seems, Kazanas wants to discard the previous ideas about the swifter horse-drawn spoked-wheel chariots of the Rig Vedic people, as mentioned in the RV, to take back period of the RV to pre-Harappan era, when spoke-wheeled vehicles were yet to be invented! However, he knows he is playing on a flimsy ground and do not hesitate to admit that, “The spoked wheel poses, in fact, no problem for dating the RV. There are other more clear-cut types of evidence.”
And what are those proofs?
Claim 2)- Kazanas claim that many features of the Harappan culture are absent from RV and hence RV must be pre-Harappan! For example, he states, RV doesn’t know of fired bricks, urbanization, cotton etc. those were common features of IGC. He claims that the ‘pur’ of RV doesn’t mean necessarily town or fort. He asserts, “This is a very general misconception. In the RV pur never means anything other than an occult, magical, esoteric defense or stronghold which is not created nor ever destroyed by humans.”
Now, for time being, let us consider that the RV did not know towns or fortified cities or forts as the term pur might denote. But how does it prove RV to be pre-Harappan? There were several civilizations even during the beginning of Common Era those did not reside in the towns. Every civilization has its own peculiar lifestyles depending on their psychological moulds and therefore the preferred ways to lead the life. Tarkateertha Laxmanshatri Joshi has stated that even during Brahmana era, Vedic people showed dislike towards urban life and preferred to delve in the villages. 3 It does not mean that the other contemporary societies also led the life in same fashion!
RV indeed knew the towns having as much as hundred gates those were destroyed by Indra. (RV 10.99.3). These could be exaggerated descriptions, but certainly, these wouldn’t have come out of the sheer imagination of the Vedic seers. Rather the struggle of the Vedic people seems to be with the people those delved in the purs but it is not indicated anywhere that the Vedic people too resided in some kind of purs.
What we just can deduce that the Vedic people’s lifestyle preferred village-like tiny settlements to reside rather than urban centers. Purs of Vedic era and their region may not have been as big as of Harappans, but the Vedic people certainly knew to differentiate the pur (urban centers) from Vish (rural settlement). RV knows purs but not similar to the urban centers of IGC. The purs of RV are made of the stones, not of bricks like of IGC. This is simply because they never were part of the IGC.
Had they been the part of it, when pre-Harappan people gradually started building the architectural monuments, the process of urbanization would certainly reflect somewhere in RV or post RV literature. The technological advancements that feature the IGC too would find mention here and there. IGC didn’t form as a sudden event but was a gradual process through constant development through technological advancement. But Vedic literature is silent on these major advancements that the IGC people achieved!
Apart from this, waning of IGC that too continued for several hundred years till its final collapse, too, finds no slightest mention in RV or post-Vedic literature. The decline of a civilization, to the people those were part of it, must have been a socio-psychological setback because of the unfortunate inevitable forced changes exerted on them. This change also nowhere reflects in the Vedic literature.
Imagining pur as “magical, esoteric defence”, Kazanas wants to deny the knowledge of the surrounding of the Vedic seers, no matter how poetically and mythically they might have portrayed it. Pur couldn’t have been imaginary settlements of the demons but the physical existences, though mythologized. However, RV is not talking anywhere about the purs of IGC those arose over the time and abandoned after fateful climatic changes and dwindled economy.
Here, too, Kazanas lack in proving RV being pre-Harappan or of the era of pre-urbanization!
Claim 3)- Kazanas suggest that after about 1900 BC many cities were abandoned by the IGC people. Had IE’s immigrated to India during that phase there would be mention of the ruined cities. Kazanas is right in this suggestion to counter migration theorists.
But he falls in his own trap here too! Had Vedic people been part of the IGC, waning of the Ghaggar, due to the climatic changes, they too would have suffered drastically. The collapse of one established prosperous socio-economic system leads to find new ways for survival. This strife too is absent from the Vedic literature.
Rather from pre-Harappan times till its disintegration, about 2000 years, the gradual rise of IGC to the peak and thence onward its slowdown nowhere is to be traced in any Vedic literature. The people those recorded even the small skirmishes with the enemy tribes couldn’t have failed to note and record the rise and fall of the IGC, had they been part of it!
What Kazanas further want to imply from the facts that the fired bricks, cotton, rice etc. came to be known to the Vedic people only during the Brahmana and Sutra period, which was, to Kazanas, contemporary to Harappan times. But he forgets that the fired bricks are mentioned in Brahmanas only in respect with the fire altars, not in regards with brick-paved streets, and great baths and city walls. Rather Brahmana and Sutra literature too is devoid of any of the Harappan feature.
Kazanas further wants to extract wishful meaning from the bovine seal and perforated vessel, finds of IGC, to connect them with the Brahmana period. From the above finds he wants to identify them with the vague descriptions of couple of artifacts mentioned in Brahmana, Yajur and Atharva veda to prove Post Vedic literature and IGC contemporaneous!
If same art is applied, some or other Vedic description of the objects can be, no matter how forcibly, identified with the finds from any civilization to make Vedic people founders of it. What one may need is to draw any meaning and deny any meaning or if goes contrary to the theory, at all, simply call it ‘interpolation’!
Kazanas too plays with the word “Dvaya” of Atharva Veda and connects it with the motif on a seal, of two-headed Bovine-like animal (Actually Unicorn) and Pipal tree growing out of it! However, the motif in question is not of the two-headed animal at all but the unicorn-like long-necked animal-heads set artistically to form an aesthetic design, representing a mirror image of a one-horned animal-neck and tree. The wonder Kazanas make is that he claims this motif could be a symbol of “OM”!
Interestingly the seals, a major feature of IGC, don’t find any mention at all in RV or post RV literature. Kazanas claim that some IGC features are present in post RV literature, such as bricks, rice etc. However, if post-RV literature is not only contemporary but of the people those were part of it, why would, at the least, the disappearance of these vital features from that literature?
The fact is, post-RV literature is of the time when seal making had seized to be in the IGC for technological shifts and end of the foreign trade with Mesopotamia and other civilizations for many reasons, such as global climatic changes to political upheavals. Since it remained no longer the practice of the civilization, there naturally wouldn’t have been any mention. Hence fixing the age of the Brahmanas and another post- RV literature contemporary to the mature IGC period is not correct. Rather it suggests that the Brahmana era is of the far later times, about 1000 BC or even later when the IGC was re-flourishing in new forms maintaining inherent traits of the past and had coped up with the changed climatic conditions!
This is why, even if RV is considered to be pre-Harappan creation, it doesn’t prove at all that the Vedic Aryans were present in Indus region at that point in time and even later as none of the IGC progress and later setbacks reflect anyway in that literature.
Claim 4)- Further, Kazanas use astronomical references, just like Tilak and Jacoby had used, to substantiate his claim that the RV can be older than the 3000 BC. Satapatha Brahmana makes a reference that the “Krittikas (Pleiades) do not swerve from the east.” The verse of SB goes like this, “And again, they do not move away from the eastern quarter, whilst the other asterisms do move from the eastern quarter. Thus his (two fires) are established in the eastern quarter: for this reason he may set up his fires under the Krittikâs.” (SB 188.8.131.52, Trans.: Julius Eggeling, 1892.)
Based on this information the time of Brahmana is calculated to be about 2500 BC or as early as 3000 BC. The debate over Krittika rather is unwarranted. The chronology of Vedeic literature is assumed that the Brahmana era begins after RV period is problematic in itself. Brahmanas contain even pre-Vedic mythologies. The purpose of Brahmana literature was to organize the sacrificial practices; hence the composition of RV and Brahmanas could have been almost simultaneous. The knowledge of Krittika being stationary towards East could be the memories from the remote past and thus preserved and revered for the sacrificial purposes.
The composition of the RV and related works couldn’t have been a sudden event like a big bang. Let us not forget here the Zoroastrian religion too was the reformation of an ancient cult. Vedic religion too had roots in the remote past, no matter in what form. RV mostly preserves the memories of the past while recording contemporary victories, strife and struggles. The life that Rig Vedic people led finds no match with any peaceful society. This life, in all possibility they couldn’t have led had they been part of the IGC (3200 BC till 1700 BC) because this era is entirely absent from the Vedic literature.
The knowledge of the stars and their movements to the mankind could go far back in the human history for their constant observations. Interestingly, meaning of ‘Nakshatra’ in Arabic, Chinese and Sanskrit is one and the same….place to halt for night. Vedic was not an isolated society to not to have come across the knowledge gathered from other sources and shared their independent innovations! This knowledge also is of no help to determine Vedic people being ever the part of IGC.
However, arriving at an authentic date based on astronomical references has been challenged. Roshan Dalal states, “In ancient times, the Nakshatras were related to the Moon and not the Sun and the vernal equinoxes were unknown.” 4
For a moment, even if astronomical data is used to decide on the date of RV or Brahmanas, how does it help to claim the Vedic Aryan’s presence in IGC? The inference that Kazanas wants to derive, thus becomes problematic.
Claim 4)- Like all indigenous Aryan Theorist, Kazanas also broach Sarasvati issue. He states that the Ghaggar (Sarasvati) flowed down to the ocean before 3200 BC. In support, he refers Francfort (1992), stating, “Francfort has been just as certain of a date 3600-3800 in his survey of 1992.”
But the reality is, Francfort states in the same book that, “In fact we now know, thanks to the fieldwork of the Indo-French expedition, when proto-historic people settled in this area no large perennial river had flown there for a long time.” (p. 91)
Bryant quotes Francfort for his earlier expedition in Ghaggar channels, “The team included a strong geo-archaeological element that concluded that the actual large paleo courses of the river have been dry since the early Holocene period or even earlier (Francfort 1985, 260). Ironically, the findings of the French team have served to reinforce the “mythico-religious tradition of Vedic origins.” Rajaram's reaction (1995) to the team's much earlier date assigned to the perennial river is that “this can only mean that the great Sarasvati that flowed ‘from the mountain to the sea’ must belong to a much earlier epoch, to a date well before 3000 bce”. 5
Early Holocene period would mean about 12000 to 10,000 years ago. Francfort is clear in his observations and conclusions. Still Kazanas seem to twist the facts. Rajaram’s remarks, as quoted by Bryant, makes it clear that how the attempts are made to connect anyhow Ghaggar with Sarasvati and stretching back the RV era substantially before Harappan era to claim IGC! Unfortunately Kazanas too is no exception.
Kazanas does not prove beyond doubt that the IGC features are reflected anywhere in Brahmanas or other post-Vedic literature and that the era of RV was pre-Harappan. Vedic people coming across cotton, fired bricks for altars does not make them part of the IGC; it only does prove that the later composers of the Vedic literature had come across those features only in post-Harappan era, in far later times. The IGC was then already re-shaped up in Gangetic plains taking new forms based on the foundation of waned IGC when Vedic adherents came across it.
Ignorance of cotton, rice etc. to RV can only be attributed to the fact that the regions Vedic people had occupied didn’t grow cotton but produced wool from the ships, to be used for cloths. The Vedic river “Parusni” derives its name from the flocks of wool. (“Parus” - flocks, “Urna”- Wool would mean flocks of the wool.) This river cannot be equated with Ravi but some river from Gandhar region. 6 RV is well aware of the woolen cloth, not cotton. It someway defines their territorial boundaries.
However, in absence of any proof that would indicate mass migration in India at any time since +7000 BC, it only can be derived that the Vedic tradition traveled to India by some faithful Vedic preachers those continued compositions of the post-Vedic literature. By that time IGC had lost its past glory, urban centers had shifted towards Gangetic plains, the situation which is well reflected in Brahmanas and later literature.
Kazanas attempts to take back Rig Vedic period substantially only because it doesn’t know any of the Harappan features is thus becomes untenable!
1) Rigveda is pre-Harappan by Nicholas kazanas. June 2006. Online available at http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/41692083?sid=21105802145531&uid=4&uid=70&uid=3738256&uid=2129&uid=2
2) ‘The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the modern world’, by David W. Anthony, Pub.: Princeton University Press, 2007, p. 34 and 59-77)
5) “The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate”, by Edwin Bryant, Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 167-68.
6) “Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, Volume 1”, By Arthur Anthony Macdonell & Arthur Berriedale Keith, Indian edition, pub. Motilal Banarasidas Publishers Pvt. Ltd.,1995, p. 499-500.