A few days ago, the former editor of Businessworld, Tony Joseph, published an article titled ‘How genetics is settling the Aryan migration debate‘ in The Hindu. The article desperately tried to endorse the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), a figment of imagination of the Colonial historians now endorsed by the Communists. In a few days from now, a TV series is all set to present the false narrative of the Aryan-Dravidian divide for the masses.
Among the choicest absurdities that the Indian television has hitherto been able to produce, broadcast and promise to its viewers worldwide, the recent announcement of the TV series sensationally titled ‘Aarambh’ stands apart, and very conspicuously so. The conspicuity can be attributed to three reasons in the main: firstly, the promotional trailers for the series proudly display “from the writer of Baahubali” in bold on top of the title of the series; secondly, the return of an yesteryear actress (Tanuja) to the small screen; and thirdly, the series will be broadcast on national television by no less a high-TRP channel than the STAR Plus itself, that too on a prime time slot.
All would have been excellent insofar as the affair had been limited within the concerns of a compelling plot, brilliant actors and breathtaking visual effects (notwithstanding its defiance of the laws of gravitation – a hallmark of action scenes in Indian television and film).
However, the grave-sounding running commentary from the background of the promotional, describing the stoff of the series’ narrative, has changed the game altogether – landing it on a highly politically charged hotbed of narrativizing India’s history with a swing towards deeply divisive colonial theories. In what seems to be its efforts to titillate the viewer, the makers of the series have touched upon a theory which had been already dismissed by most historians, archaeologists and experts in genetics; and one which is still regurgitated only by a section of the academia (most of whom come from the humanities or social sciences background) and who, quite significantly, lean to the political left and champion the leftist agendas.
A blatant lie trickling in through popular culture
So what is it that the off-stage commentary of our upcoming STAR Plus series declares as the subject-matter of this greatly anticipated TV drama, which shows a faint promise of turning into a desi version of Game of Thrones, given the reputation of Baahubali and its author? It unabashedly trumpets, loud and clear, that the series is all about a millennia-old prosperous nation of the Dravida-s, the advent of the Aryas (or Aryans), their subsequent face-off (that is an inevitability given the creative involvement of the famed writer of Baahubali, K.V. Vijayendra Prasad, who has mastered the art of depicting conflicts and epic-scale wars in films equally epic in scope), and the consequent inception of a strange unicorn-like creature which the series creators have christened as “Akhand Bhaarat”. So far as what the ersatz official trailers (such as this one) of ‘Aarambh’ promoted by STAR Plus on various platforms including on YouTube (as is the norm these days) tell us at this point, viewers may expect to “witness the epic war between the Aryans and the Dravidians on Aarambh” (quoted verbatim from the description panel right below the trailer video of the series shared on the official YouTube channel of STAR Plus).
The trailer also informs the expectant viewer that the grandiose battle between the Dravidians and the Aryans promised to be depicted in the series will be led by a dynamic queen called Devasena (fashioned preposterously after the chief female character of the same name in the two ‘Baahubali’ films played by the prodigiously talented Anushka Shetty) on the Dravidian side and a rugged-looking fortune-seeking warrior called Varundev (hardly any Indian would ever miss the allusion to the prominent Vedic deity here) on the Aryan side.
In the trailers, the ‘Baahubali’ heroine’s namesake rides elephants, and the namesake of the Vedic lord of the waters rides a horse. She wears silk saris and robes, he wears coarse animal skins. She wields out-of-place, odd-looking primitive handheld weapons, while he is adept at using the bow and arrows. She is flanked on both sides of her throne by sentry-like figures who are indeed a well done copy-paste job from the ‘Harappan bearded man’ (alternatively the ‘bearded priest’ or the ‘priest king’ of Harappa) sculpture; he gets to ride with a contingent of wild looking violent horsemen, who resemble the crude and barbarian Vikings or Saxons depicted in Hollywood movies – wild hair, goatskin dresses and all. The totem of her people is a stout bull (Jallikattu supporters, does this ring any bell?), while his clan’s emblem, carved on his armour and painted on his flags, is a male lion.
Taking all these markers and signifiers into consideration, the implication is clear: an Aryan contingent will attack a thriving Indus Valley Civilization, which is at the same time a civilisation of the Dravidian people, the course of Indian history will thus change hereafter and the land that once belonged solely to the Dravidian people will transform into that mythical creature called “Akhand Bhaarat”.
In fact, in one trailer of the series, titled “Aarambh: Get to know Varundev” and shared publicly on the YouTube channel of STAR Plus, the actor Rajneesh Duggal can be seen confirming this scandalous affair: he says, “My character Varundev, which I am portraying in Aarambh, is of an Aryan warrior…this [the Aryans] is a race about which we have obviously studied in history textbooks; but it is the first time that you are going to see a character like Varundev on screen. He’s a very righteous guy on the […] hindsight [sic], along with that he is a warrior…he’s someone who has got a strong sixth sense and who gets to know about the future of the Aryans. To play the character of Varundev, first and foremost you had to revert back to the Hindi that was spoken 5000 years ago. I’ve worked a lot on my diction, on the language […] I would say blood, sweat and all, you know, hard work has gone into it; and I hope that the audience loves it, and that’s the ultimate goal.”1
So much for the research, hard work, blood, sweat etc. that may have gone into the making of the male protagonist’s character. It immediately becomes evident that the whole project has been designed in parity with the Aryan Invasion Theory (henceforth AIT) trash that Indian schoolkids still have to unfortunately feed upon, thanks to the leftist agenda of hegemonizing what Antonio Gramsci had described as Ideological State Apparatuses (or ISA in short – comprising of the family, religion, mass media and education) in this country, an insidious programme that has been going on since the early 1950s. As for the antiquity of Hindi, a Modern Indian Language (MIL), the poor thing has perhaps suffered a severe heart attack due to Duggal’s remarks, and literary as well as cultural historians and linguists may have a hard time in considering Duggal’s impression of the language’s history with any bit of seriousness.
What is the AIT and what made it thrive in the discourses on India?
The origins of the AIT lie in the works of a much criticised branch of scholarship called philology, whose alienation from actual human life and human needs was severely criticised by Nietzsche in the following words:
“Philology now derives its power only from the union between the philologists who will not, or cannot, understand antiquity and public opinion, which is misled by prejudices in regard to it.” (We Philologists, 1874)
This is exactly the case with the philologists of the past, who helped lay the cornerstone for such a divisive theory as the AIT as well as with the present philologists who persist in keeping it alive in the public discourses relating to education, politics and culture. This theory, which is at its best a loosely conjectured hypothesis and at its worst a wild fantasy, has been one of the most pernicious of all and in places (like Sri Lanka) it has proved to be a murderously divisive weapon of those who seek to “divide and rule”.
Sir William Jones, an employee of the British East India Company and a pioneer of what Edward Said has famously denounced as ‘Orientalism’, had also initiated comparative philological studies when he declared his ‘discovery’ of Sanskrit and compared the same with classical European tongues, mainly Ancient Greek and Classical Latin. He noted the structural, semantic and etymological similarities in these languages and made his findings available to the European academia using his network in the Oxford University and his newly founded Asiatic Society at erstwhile Calcutta. This set in motion a series of efforts within Western scholarship that was already facing a crisis due to the challenges thrown at Western Judeo-Christian worldview by emerging scientific and technological advancements in Europe.
Newly found physical laws governing the universe in the 18th century and studies in evolution of life on earth had shaken the basis of this dogmatic worldview. Consequently there was an ardent need to anchor the ship of European imperialism and racial-cultural-religious supremacy on new, firmer shores. A breakthrough in this regard was made possible by Jones’s discoveries in linguistic similarities between European and Indian languages.
The European orientalists were quick to draw a framework wherein the linguistic similarity was attributed to a common lineage – that of a master race originating from the European lebensraum (homeland) speaking a common proto-language. Calling this master race ‘Aryan’ gained mileage after another employee of the British East India Company and the Oxford University (similar career connections with Jones – a mere coincidence?), the German-born British national Max Müller, pioneer of Indology and comparative religious studies, published his series of translations titled ‘Sacred Books of the East in 1875’, which included English translations of the Vedas. The proto-language was variously dubbed Proto-Indo-Aryan or Proto-Indo-European. This theorization solved many a crises of the Western Judeo-Christian worldview at one go; e.g. it was able to justify its superiority compared to other races it held inferior and sometimes inherently corrupt (prominently the Semitic Jews and idolatrous Hindus) based on the AIT and thus its atrocities on the ‘inferior’ races by means of ostracising and colonising these populations.
The notorious ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British coloniser received a major boost by the application of this theory. It was applied in the discourses around India, institutionalised by proliferation of the ‘scholarship’ on the AIT through the mechanism of school, college and university curricula slyly but systematically. Once the Aryans were projected as fair-skinned, light-haired and light-eyed Europeans, it followed from it that a branch of these people wandered off from Europe to the direction of India; and upon entering the land in several waves they were determined to take control of her green, temperate and watered expanses. Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan sums up the development of this theory in their groundbreaking work ‘Breaking India‘ in the following manner:
“Max Müller’s interpretation of Vedic literature in terms of a clash between two racial groups, led him to search for physical features in the Vedas that would identify the groups physically. And so, Müller tentatively interpreted nose-length as one such differentiationg feature. […] Risley (1851-1911) was a powerful colonial bureaucrat at the Royal Anthropological Institute, and developed the Nasal Index based on Max Müller’s speculation. This Nasal Index, much like Phrenology, became a tool of Race Science in an effort to classify the traits of Indian communities. During the four decades of his stay in India, Risley made an extensive study of Indian communities, based on Nasal Index. His goal was to separate the Aryan communities from the non-Aryan communities.
His taxonomical classification and massive documentation of Indian jatis froze the dynamic quality and mobility found in the jati system within the varna matrix. Various colonially inspired studies transformed jatis into racial categories rather than identities based on occupation. The Nasal Index not only separated the jatis into Aryan and non-Aryan, it also classified those considered non-Aryan as distinct from mainstream Hindu society. Risley compared the black plantation-workers in America with the so-called non-Aryan communities in India. This foreshadows the Afro-Dalit-Dravidian projects of today, which are essentially the expansion of Risley’s project of ethnic fragmentation of India.”
This enabled the European (British) coloniser to pit one section of the Indian people (from the North) against another (those from the South) to keep them fighting between themselves and rule supreme over a quarrelling people weakened by civil wars, a project that has been taken over by Leftist and Left-leaning academia in India mainly in the name of Dalit studies and Dalit literature, subaltern studies, identity politics of Dravidian separatists, and the nefarious vote-bank politics of certain political parties in India to yield power.
The message of the British colonisers was clear: India has always been colonised by foreigners – the fair skinned, sharp-nosed ‘upper-caste Hindu Aryans’ typically found in the northern parts of the country and thus colonising it yet another time is only legitimate and consistent with its political and cultural history. This claim finds resonance in the writings of the ‘Prophet’ of communism, ‘His Holiness’ Karl Marx who in 1853 declared through his writings that “India has no history of its own apart from foreign invasions”. The imperialist coloniser and the revolutionary communist seldom speak in unison, and the subject of India’s past seems to be a rare such occasion.
While the Dravidian separatists and Dravidian parties resorted to identity politics borrowed from a collusion of anarchic ideologies of the political left and evangelical proselytising organisations preaching and enacting religious conversion of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs in war footing, the subaltern scholars took a leaf out of the Frankfurt school and postmodernists who repackaged class-struggle variously as men versus women, black versus white, straight versus gay, cultural relativism and various other value and identity deconstructions. This neo-Marxist bug has already proved to be disastrous for the European society and has been doing the same to India and its people by encouraging separatism though religious and ethno-linguistic identities.
The AIT and the construct of caste
The construct of caste as a concept went hand in hand with the construction of the AIT and securing legitimacy of European and American anti-Semitism and racism. Race is an idea, and not a science (as Dr N.S. Rajaram expounds in this video), with which the European colonialist and orientalist scholars were doggedly obsessed. As a result, the construct of the ‘Aryan race’ as the master race of the world, better than any other people anywhere outside the European homeland is also a European obsession (as exemplified by Hitler and the Nazis immediately before and during World War II), and not an Indian one.
What is interesting to observe is that the propagation and institutionalisation of the AIT and the caste construct went hand in hand, because the two had much in common. In his ‘Essay on the Inequality of Human Races‘, the French Indologist Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau sought to show the AIT as an explanation of India’s caste system. In complete disregard for India’s indigenous jati–varna matrix that used to draw its subsistence from acquired human characteristics, and sometimes hereditary, professional roles, the caste concept that has its origin in British feudalism and the American experience of indigenous nations and slavery (including a bloody civil war) was projected onto India and especially on the Hindu faith.
Notwithstanding the unique social organisation, complex structure involving social mobility and permeability of this matrix, there have been social curses like untouchability in Hinduism; and at the same time there have been numerous resounding voices arising from within the Hindu society against such social diseases. Examples abound: Sri Ramanujacharya and his Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, Azhwar saints, Sri Chaitanyadeva , Guru Nanak, Ramananda – and indeed many other spiritual leaders have fought untouchability and other forms of discriminations in the Indian society. Without going into such nuances, Gobineau concluded that all civilizations were initiated by white Europeans, but those outside the European homeland had fallen because of intermarriages with darker races. He appropriated the Indian society as a crucial case study to prove his obnoxiously false, racist theory and the AIT became his chief instrument in achieving it.
Ambedkar and others refute the AIT
Dr B.R. Ambedkar, while being a staunch critic of Hindus, their scriptures and their faith, brilliantly refuted the AIT in a meticulous reading of the Rig Veda in his 1946 work ‘Who Were the Shudras?’ in unambiguous terms:
“The term Anasa occurs in Rig Veda V.29.10. What does the word mean? There are two interpretations. One is by Prof. Max Muller. The other is by Sayanacharya. According to Prof. Max Muller, it means ‘one without nose’ or ‘one with a flat nose’ and has as such been relied upon as a piece of evidence in support of the view that the Aryans were a separate race from the Dasyus. Sayanacharya says that it means ‘mouthless,’ i.e., devoid of good speech. This difference of meaning is due to difference in the correct reading of the word Anasa. Sayanacharya reads it as an-asa while Prof. Max Muller reads it as a-nasa. As read by Prof. Max Muller, it means ‘without nose.’ Question is : which of the two readings is the correct one? There is no reason to hold that Sayana’s reading is wrong. On the other hand there is everything to suggest that it is right. In the first place, it does not make non-sense of the word. Secondly, as there is no other place where the Dasyus are described as noseless, there is no reason why the word should be read in such a manner as to give it an altogether new sense. It is only fair to read it as a synonym of Mridhravak. There is therefore no evidence in support of the conclusion that the Dasyus belonged to a different race.”
Dr Ambedkar was a polymath, he was also a trained in anthropology. Nevertheless, Ambedkar made the mistake of taking Aryan as an ethnicity. Dr N.S. Rajaram points out that the word ‘arya’ appears in the Rig Veda exactly 38 times in the 10,000-odd mantras of its ten books (mandala-s); and the word is used in the ancient and most authoritative Sanskrit dictionary Amarakosha (ascribed to Amarasimha, one of the nine gems of Emperor Vikramaditya’s legendary Navaratnas) to politely address a venerable, respectable individual of any origin, such as a learned, enlightened person. The word is equally used in the same connotation by Buddhist and Jain traditions, apart from Hindus. One of the reverential appellations of the Buddha is Arya and Buddhism is sometimes referred to as Arya Dharma. Therefore, it is clear that in Indian traditions, ‘arya’ does not denote race.
A positive takeaway
If the announcement of this television series has proven anything at all, it is that the Leftist propaganda through school textbooks and university curricula has and will fall short of its ambitions. Hence the need to reinforce this lie of Aryan invasion and the historic clash between Aryans and Dravidians through popular culture, through a glitzy TV serial using Bollywood actors, and superhit screenwriters on a highly popular TV channel, riding on the success of mega-hits like ‘Baahubali’.
A case in point is agitprop – which has its origin in communist politics. This is a positive implication of this otherwise scandalous fiasco called ‘Aarambh’. The AIT has been refuted from left, right and centre by linguists, historians, archaeological findings, mathematics and genetics for good. The proliferation and democratic nature of social media in an age of high-speed internet are bound to expose such lies faster than ever before. In such times, the last thing that India needs is a TV series, whether in the form of a pretentious ‘objective’ documentary, or a wholesome entertaining package like ‘Aarambh’ that perpetuates this colonially inspired, inherently divisive lie of Aryan invasion of India, the subsequent fall of the Dravidians and the oppression of Dravidian civilisation by ‘foreigner’ Aryans, which have caused her much pains in the form of social disintegration and its resultant violence.
Rajiv Malhotra had already raised a red flag back in August 2016. It looks like that has gone unnoticed. The policymakers, and especially the public at large, seem to be largely unsuspecting of such populist ways of spreading inimical propaganda, which are definitely not in the best interests of India, her internal security and general amity between her people. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting should take note.