Indo – Europeans And Aryans In Ancient India

Indo – Europeans And Aryans In Ancient India. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa were destroyed some time about 1500 B.C. The Aryans may have sacked the cities, but one should like to have more definite evidence than has come in. The movement of peoples who sacked ancient cities is something not confined to India in the centuries immediately after 2000 B.C. The period 2000 B.C.-1500 B.C. witnesses a political upheaval throughout the Ancient Orient and its periphery.

This is the time when the people of the desert waste along with those of the mountains enter into competition on equal terms with the river-valley powers. We are here concerned with the three mountainous peoples that emerge into power. They are the Kassites in southern Mesopotamia, the Hurrians in northern Mesopotamia and the Hittites in Anatolia.

Indo – Europeans

The origins of these peoples may be traced back to the third millennium B.C. All the peoples of the mountains include an Indo- European element ethnically varying in extent and purity. The languages they speak belong to the Indo-European group.

Indo Europeans during 513 BCE

Indo – Europeans History

The word ‘Indo-Europeans’ has been found to be a convenient term for languages allied to Sanskrit and their presumed original. It is suggested that the area in which that original gave birth to  Sanskrit and other languages having close affinities with it, may be somewhere on the outer boundaries of the kingdom of Sumer and Akkad, between South Russia and Turkestan.

Philologists have shown that verbal equations can be made through Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Germanic, Tocharian and Armenian languages, representing ideas or objects which are fundamental to a society and do not ordinarily with environment.

Based on a comparative study of languages, scholars have constructed broad outlines of the structure of the Indo-European society, which have stood the rest of the archaeological knowledge of the second millennium B.C., in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. The patriarchal family was the unit of society. They believed in luminous gods (devas), Jupiter being the most important, who were immortal and givers of the good things of life.

Indo – Europeans Migration

They were familiar with corn and must have led a settled life. Probably those that lived by the riverside had acquired the knowledge and practice of regular irrigation. Cattle-breeding provided their chief sustenance of milk and flesh as also the clothing of wool and skins. Of the metals,copper and bronze were known to them, while iron is rarely mentioned. Besides bronze and arrow their offensive weapons included the club, the axe, the sword, and the spear.

The close connection of Sanskrit with most of the ancient and modern languages of Europe made scholars in the early half of the nineteenth century believe that people’s connected by the tie of language might easily be conceived as connected by the tie of blood. Soon the supposition that the primitive tribe from whom the Indo-Europeans descended lived on the Asiatic steppes became an article of faith, which continued to maintain its ground for some time.

Indo – Europeans in Ancient India

In more recent times philological and anthropological evidence has led investigators to place the common origin of all these peoples in one or another part of Europe. That these peoples descended from a common tribe has been discredited on the ground that community of language is no proof of community of blood. There is as yet no real consensus on the place of the common origin of the Indo-Europeans.

The latest edition of The Oxford History of India has ‘purposely’ omitted discussion concerning the original home of the Aryans, ‘because no hypothesis on the subject seems to be finally established’.

In Europe nationalistic feelings have sometimes vitiated the quest; for example, the German school headed by Kossina placed the original home of the Indo-Europeans in the North European plain people with blond Nordics. In India Tilak argued that the Aryans came from the North Pole in about 6000 B.C., but he took care to caution against relying on astronomical references in the Rigveda. ‘But responsible linguists and archaeologists have agreed in regarding the possible region of origin as relatively limited, and lying somewhere between the Danube and the Oxus.’

Indo – Europeans Arrival

There is good archaeological evidence for the arrival in North- West India of invaders from the West in the centuries following 2000 B.C.; whether they were Indo-Europeans or not cannot be said with any certainty. About the same time there seems to have been a loose confederacy of tribes, stretching from South Russia to Turkistan, who shared certain elements of culture. Inscriptions and documents of the Hittite empire relating to the beginning of the second millennium B.C., support this view. The connection of the Indo-Aryans with that confederacy has not so far been established. From the point of view of political history 1500 B.C. may be taken as the beginning of a new era in the Ancient Orient.

Kassites of Southern Mesopotamia

About this time the Kassites take over power in Babylonia, remaining there for nearly four hundred years and assimilating the language and culture of the local civilization so completely that they come to form part of it. Further to the north in the Hurri region arose the great state of Mitanni, which expands almost to the Mediterranean, only to collapse abruptly after less than 150 years. The Hittites from Anatolia enter the field of international politics with a raid that reaches as far as Babylon and remain in power for three hundred years. Thus the three centuries from 1500-2000 B.C. delimit the period to which the peoples of the mountains give their character and name.

Aryans And Indo – Europeans

The Aryan invasion of India seems to synchronize with the destruction of Harappa about 1500 B.C. There are some experts  who held the view that the penetration of the Aryans into India may well have been about 2500 B.C. but the internal evidence of the Rigveda relating to destruction of fortified cities is brought in to reject the view. This is one of those problems which future research alone can settle.

Hittite and Kassites Invasion

The Aryans brought with them their patrilineal tribal organization, their worship of sky-gods and their horses and chariots, important elements of the culture of the Indo-Europeans. It should be noted than that the Aryan invasion of India was not a single concerted action, but one covering a long period and involving many tribes.

There is clear evidence to show that Aryan tribes held a great influence over a wide area, stretching from northern Asia Minor over north-western Babylonia to Media about the fifteenth century B.C. The Tell El Amarna letters provide extensive information concerning the rulers of Mitanni who are on good political terms with Egypt, King Tushratta, the author of a long letter written to Amenophis 3, has to wage war against a certain Artatama. King of Hurrians who had friendly relations with the Hittites (about 1365 B.C.).

Indo – Europeans Names and Religion

Tushratta and Artatama are decidedly Aryan names. The Hurrian pantheon includes Aryan gods such as Indra, Varuna and Mitra S. Inscriptions at Hattusas (the present day Bogazkoy), capital of the Hittite empire, contain the words aika (one), panza (five), and na (nine-nava). Among the Kassites occur Aryan names of princes and gods.

“The numbers and the names of deities appear in forms earlier than those which they assumed later in Persia and India and nearer to those found in the Rigveda. In particular the change of the Aryans into the Iranian had not yet occurred.

That the Aryans separated themselves from the Iranians is proved not only by the close similarity of the old Iranian language, Zend, to the language of the earliest hymns in Rigveda, but also by the wide similarities existing in manners and customs especially those concerned with religion, language, mythology and worship. Both called themselves Arya the noble or lofty. ‘The organization of society in four classes (varnas) the religious rites of initiation of youth (upanayana), the pantheon of thirty-three gods, the religion of sacrifice, and most of the technical terms employed in it like yajna, mantra, somia, hotar and so on are instances of close resemblances between the early Iranian and vedic Cultures.’

Also Read:

The Aryans And The Rigveda

The Aryans, The Period in which Society was divided into Castes


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