No scientific basis for the Aryan Invasion Theory (TRS Prasanna, Current Science July 2012) by kalyan97



There is no scientific basis for the Aryan Invasion Theory
T. R. S. Prasanna

The evidences that scientists, with background in physical sciences, must consider in order to form a profes-
sional opinion on the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) are examined. These evidences are from astronomy,
mathematics and metallurgy. The criteria for scientists to support AIT are proposed as four questions that
must be addressed satisfactorily. On these grounds, we establish that there is no scientific basis for AIT.
Nineteenth century European scholars          pretation of verses on ekāstaka in Tait-    AIT unless these references are consis-
proposed the Aryan Invasion Theory            tirīya Saṃhita (TS) and Pañcaviṃśa          tently interpreted to 800 BC.
(AIT) based on the close similarities         Brāhmaṇa (PB) to 3000 BC for the last
between Sanskrit and European langua-         80 years. That is, for the first time we
ges1–3. The oldest text, Ṛg Veda, was        have shown that the Western Sanskrit          Calendrical schemes in the Vedic
dated to about 1500 BC. Later Vedic           scholars who proposed AIT have contra-        period
texts, Saṃhitas and Brāhmaṇas, were ac-     dicted it themselves.
cordingly dated to 1000–800 BC. AIT has          The conclusions in ref. 14 have severe     Both, TS and Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (SB)
always been controversial and many            implications for the few scientists, with     have two luni-solar calendrical schemes.
scholars from the 19th century onwards        expertise in astronomy, who support           In the early period, SB–19, SB
have opposed it1–3. AIT continues to be       AIT. Their support is no longer tenable       8.2–8.7, TS 4.4.11, etc. lunar months
dominant among Western Sanskrit scho-         with Sanskrit scholars themselves inter-      were named Tapas, Tapasya (Śiśira rtu),
lars and others who rely on their author-     preting some references to 3000 BC.           Madhu, Mādhava (Vasanta rtu), etc. and
ity. No evidence has been found in the           In this note, we consider a broader        ended on full moon. In the later period,
last 150 years for any invasion. Accord-      view of the evidences to establish the        in KB 19.3 and SB, lunar
ing to Klostermaier1 (p. 21) ‘The AIT is      criteria, which are based on physical sci-    months were named after naksatras, e.g.
based purely on linguistic conjectures        ences, necessary to form a professional       Phālguna, Chaitra (Śiśira rtu), etc. and
which are unsubstantiated.’ To overcome       opinion on AIT. Such criteria need to         ended on new moon. They are discussed
the lack of evidence for an invasion, the     consider evidences from astronomy,            in detail in ref. 14.
Aryan Migration Theory (AMT), with            mathematics and metallurgy.                      An older scheme is mentioned in Tait-
similar dates, has been proposed.                                                           tirīya Brāhmaṇa TB 3.10 on Sāvitra-
   Most archaeologists1–5 do not support                                                    cayana15,16 with month names Aruna,
AIT. Based on geological and remote           Evidences from astronomy                      Arunaraja, etc. and a year of three sea-
sensing studies6–9, scholars have identi-                                                   sons (Agni, Sūrya and Chandramā rtu).
fied evidences for a river in northwest       Astronomical references in Saṃhita           Abhyankar15 has given several evidences
India that dried before 1500 BC with the      and Brāhmana texts                           that this scheme was prevalent in the Ṛg
River Saraswati mentioned in Vedic texts                                                    Vedic period. We provide additional evi-
and thereby contradicted AIT. Genetic         The key astronomical references in the        dences in support of this conclusion,
studies mostly do not support AIT10,11.       Saṃhita and Brāhmaṇa texts consistently     though not his date which is not relevant
Evidence on horse remains con-                lead to 3000 BC (ref. 14). Six referen-       to the discussion. TB 3.10 (TB 3.10.9)
tested2,12,13.                                ces – Pūrva Phalguni full moon marking       refers to Ṛg Veda RV 1.164 (ref. 16) and
   Scientists have interpreted astronomi-     new year, Kŗttikā on true east, Rohinī       both refer to a year of three seasons. In
cal references in Vedic texts to high         marking equinox, Kauśītaki Brāhmana          contrast, Saṃhita and Brāhmana texts
chronology that oppose AIT since 1890s.       (KB) verse KB 19.3, the origin of Mahā-       refer to a year of 5/6 seasons with names
We have recently presented a compre-          śivarātri and verses on ekāstaka – have     Śiśira, Vasanta, etc. and not Agni, Sūrya,
hensive analysis of the references in the     been dated to 3000 BC. The last three are     etc. TB 3.10.11 attributes Sāvitra-cayana
Saṃhitas and Brāhmaṇas and shown14          independent references to three different     to Bharadvāja in the past tense clearly
that they consistently lead to dates          days all of which point to the new year       implying that the ritual and the calendri-
around 3000 BC. We have also examined         beginning at winter solstice after amānta     cal scheme are both ancient memories in
the interpretations of Western Sanskrit       Māgha new moon (3000 BC), making it a         TB.                                    .
scholars of the same references and           robust conclusion. It is virtually impossi-      Thus, from Ṛg Veda to Vedānga
showed that they give dates ranging from      ble to reinterpret the above references to    Jyotisa (VJ) four calendars were succes-
3000 BC to 800 BC to AD 1200. They cor-       800 BC. Importantly, some references          sively prevalent in the Vedic period. The
roborate Klostermaier’s1 (p. 25) view         have always (i.e. for more than 150           names of the first two months of the year
that ‘Traditionally trained philologists,     years) been considered to be contempo-        changed from (1) Aruna, Arunaraja (RV)
that is, grammarians, are generally not       rary, and not ancient memories, by all        to (2) Tapas, Tapasya (early Brāhmanas)
able to understand technical language         scholars, including Western Sanskrit          to (3) Phālguna, Chaitra (late Brāhmanas)
and the scientific information contained      scholars. For these reasons, astronomical     to (4) Māgha, Phālguna (VJ). The
in the texts they study.’ Importantly, they   references disprove AIT. Hence, there         current calendar has been in vogue for
have been unaware of their correct inter-     can be no scientific basis in support of      1700 years. The VJ calendar was in

216                                                                                CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012
                                                                                                      HISTORICAL NOTES
vogue for more than 1000 years. It is         tions have several deficiencies and are      used in Harappan culture. Bricks are
hardly believable that four calendars         incorrect as seen below. See also sec. 6     absent in the Ṛg Veda.
were successively prevalent over a span       of ref. 14.                                     (Although not the main issue, we men-
of 800–1000 years, as implied by AIT.            The naksatra lists and SB        tion that Sāvitra-cayana, TB 3.10, used
                                              belong to the period when the second         gold bricks (‘small pieces of gold’)16 or
                                              calendrical scheme was in vogue14. This      anointed pebbles. Gold was known since
Correlation of the Indus Valley               scheme had month names Tapas,                Ṛg Veda. TB 3.10.11 attributes Sāvitra-
and the Brāhmana period on                   Tapasya, etc. and its new year is de-        cayana to Bharadvāja16, supposedly
astronomical grounds                          scribed in KB 5.1 and SB As        taught by Indra (both prominent in RV),
                                              shown in ref. 14, KB 5.1 and SB     in the past tense, clearly implying it and
According to Bryant2 (p. 252).                lead to 3000 BC. The suggestion that the     the calendrical scheme are ancient
                                              naksatra lists and SB are Harap-    memories in TB. The naksatras are con-
‘The Indian National Science Academy          pan memories in Vedic texts is an            spicuously absent in Sāvitra-cayana
(INSA) of New Delhi, for example, pub-        incomplete picture because the second        implying that they were not yet promi-
lished a History of Astronomy in India in     calendrical scheme also leads to 3000 BC.    nent. It is difficult to justify using peb-
1985, wherein the Indus Valley and the        No Sanskrit scholar in more than 150         bles instead of fired bricks (when
Brāhmana period are correlated.’              years has suggested that KB 5.1 and SB       available) and be considered greatly
                                     are ancient memories. Since the     prestigious to be attributed to Indra and
   The additional evidences presented         new year marker and the calendrical          Bharadvāja. Prima facie, Sāvitra-cayana
below show that the correlation in the        scheme are central to any period, it         appears to be a precursor to Agnicayana
INSA book17 is entirely justified.            follows that the naksatra lists and SB      and must be considered in any discussion
   Śiva worship in the Harappan civiliza- are contemporary references in       on the latter’s origins. It raises doubts on
tion is well attested. Chakrabarti18 states   Vedic texts. This supports the correlation   the above proposal.)
‘That Śiva was worshipped in this civili-     of the two periods mentioned above.             As shown in ref. 14, verses on Agni-
sation is proved not merely by the phallus-      Many scholars (including Parpola and      cayana in TS refer to Kŗttikā as Heaven.
shaped stone objects found at Mohenjo-        Chattopadhyaya) have suggested that          However, these references are only inci-
daro and Dholavira but also by the find       Agnicayana is of Harappan origin and         dental to Agnicayana, a ritual meant to
of an indisputedly Śivalinga set in a         was later incorporated into Vedic texts.     carry the patron to Heaven, which was
Yonipatta at Kalibangan.’ Sanskrit            See ref. 23 (pp. 130–145) for an exten-      along true east (illustrated in Figure 1).
scholars believe that Śaivism originated      ded discussion. Much of this suggestion      In 800 BC, Kŗttikā would rise 12° or 24
in the Brāhmana period. We have shown14      relies on the extensive use of bricks in     sun-diameters from true east and be no-
that Mahāśivarātri originated in the          Agnicayana, which were also extensively      where near ‘Heaven’. There would be no
Brāhmana period and leads to 3000 BC
on several grounds. This clearly supports
the correlation of the two periods.
   Starting with Dikshit19 in 1895, many
scholars have interpreted SB to
mean that Kŗttikā was on true east lead-
ing to 3000 BC. We have independently
confirmed14 Dikshit’s conclusions on SB from verses on Agnicayana in TS
(Figure 1). The importance of the cardi-
nal directions in Harappa has been high-
lighted by several scholars20–23. This
directly correlates the two periods, espe-
cially as Dikshit19 pointed out that the
description in SB is in the present
tense and contemporary.
   However, some scholars who support
AIT suggest that Brāhmana texts contain
memories of observations made in the
Harappan period. Parpola states ‘Many
things point to a Harappan origin of the
naksatra calendar’20, referring to the
naksatra lists in the Saṃhitas and Brāh-
manas22. Chattopadhyaya23 (p. 259) sug-
gests that Kŗttikā was observed to be on
true east in Harappa and ‘somehow’
(which highlights the weakness of the
suggestion) made its way into the Brāh-       Figure 1. Schematic representation of the bird-shaped Agnicayana altar. Kŗttikā repre-
mana texts (SB These sugges-       sented Heaven or was on true east in Taittirīya Saṃhita and leads to 3000 BC (ref. 14).

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012                                                                                     217
justification to refer to Kŗttikā as Heaven   changing the settled opinion (that many           A common source for Greek and
in 800 BC, that too in the present tense,     references are contemporary), which has        Indian geometry was first suggested25 by
especially since, as is well known, Agni-     never been contested. Until all astro-         Cantor in 1877 and also supported by
cayana was obsessed with precision in         nomical references that lead to 3000 BC        many scholars including Seidenberg25–27.
all aspects14. It would be completely in-     are convincingly shown to be ancient           For the other, Seidenberg25 (p. 329)
congruous to suggest that precision was       memories in Vedic texts, correlating the       states: ‘As to the common source of
of essence in all aspects of Agnicayana       Indus and Brāhmana periods is the most        Babylonian and Vedic mathematics,
except one, where a most glaring and ob-      justifiable conclusion.                        though at one point in the argument I
vious inaccuracy was disregarded. Thus,          The correlation of the Indus and            used the word postulate, I now regard my
Agnicayana is contemporary to Vedic           Brāhmana periods is consistent with the       thesis as proved.’
texts, contrary to the above proposal and     views of archaeologists and geologists1–9.        Unfortunately, at this stage, he relied
thus, correlates the two periods.             Bryant2 (p. 160) states ‘A growing num-        on the authority of Sanskrit scholars. He
   Other scholars23 (pp. 130–145) dis-        ber of Indian archaeologists believe that      states25 (p. 324): ‘Now the Sanskrit schol-
agree with the above proposal. For ex-        the Indus Valley civilization could have       ars do not give me a date so far back as
ample, Witzel24 states (p. 68) that ‘so far   been an Indo-Aryan civilization, or, at        1700 BC. Therefore I postulate a pre-Old-
hypothetical interrelations between cer-      least, the two cultures could have coex-       Babylonian (i.e. pre-1700 BC) source for
tain features of the Indus religion and       isted.’ Renfrew20 states ‘It is difficult to   the kind of geometric rituals we see pre-
the Śrauta ritual’, which combined with       see what is particularly non-Aryan about       served in the Śulvasūtras, or at least for
his statement ‘there was no Agnicayana        the Indus Valley civilization.’ Geolo-         the mathematics involved in these ritu-
yet at the time of RV’ (p. 70) implies that   gists6–9 have correlated the two periods       als.’ This was not always the case. In
Agnicayana is contemporary to the             by identifying evidences for a dried river     1962, he stated26 (p. 509): ‘The Rig Veda
Saṃhita and Brāhmana texts. As shown in     in this region with Saraswati mentioned        has been dated 2000–1500 BC by Whit-
ref. 14, Agnicayana has an internal date of   in Vedic texts.                                ney, and even earlier by Jacobi.’ In arti-
3000 BC (Figure 1), which implies a date                                                     cles published from 1894 to 1910, Jacobi
of 3000 BC for the Saṃhita period and cor-                                                  had dated Vedic texts2 to 4000 BC on
relates with the Harappan period. Thus, the   Evidence from mathematics                      astronomical grounds. In footnote 64,
opposing views of scholars, who otherwise                                                    Seidenberg states26 (p. 511): ‘The Baby-
support AIT, on the issue of the origin of    The origin of mathematics has been stu-        lonians of 1700 BC were way beyond the
Agnicayana are reconciled because the In-     died by historians of mathematics from         gnomon, but the Indians had it. Hence in
dus Valley and the Saṃhita–Brāhmana pe-     the 19th century onwards. Seidenberg25         number theory also, and not only in geo-
riods are correlated.                         (p. 316) summarizes the prevailing views       metry, Pythagorean mathematics has
   It is clear that scholars differ mainly    in 1978 as, ‘To sum up the current views:      more of an Indian than a Babylonian
on whether the references are ancient         The view that Classical Greece is the          look.’ These comments would not be
memories or contemporary. The former          source of Tradition I remains the prevail-     made if he subscribed to AIT. In 1975,
is an artefact of interpreting evidences      ing one. The source of Tradition II, it is     he stated27 (p. 288): ‘I have concluded
within the framework of AIT. It is also       generally held, is Old-Babylonia.’ The         that not only are the Śulvasūtras pre-
sustained by a limited consideration of       notion of a common source had been the         Greek, but that even the Old-Babylonian
astronomical references where all refer-      view of scholars for almost a century.         mathematics derives from a system of
ences except SB and the naksatra        These conclusions were based on stud-       practices much like those disclosed in the
lists have been ignored.                      ies that ignored Indian mathematics. Sei-      Indian sacred works.’ As late as 1975, he
   Some astronomical references have          denberg25 (p. 318) states: ‘I propose to       was unwilling to accept AIT dates. He
always (i.e. for more than 150 years)         show that his (van der Waerden’s) theses       would not have accepted the authority of
been considered to be contemporary by         (and Neugebauer’s) cannot be main-             Sanskrit scholars even in 1978, if he had
all scholars. For example, Witzel24 (p.       tained in their present form. The main         known that Caland’s interpretation of
73) states ‘In TS 7.4.8 and KB 4.4… the       fault in van der Waerden’s analysis is         ekāstaka in 1931 led to 3000 BC.
months are purnimanta. KB 19.2-3, how-        that at all vital points he takes into            Seidenberg’s conclusion that Vedic
ever, already has amanta months…’             account only Old-Babylonia and Greece:         mathematics is older than that of 1700 BC
Clearly, it implies that the latter scheme    if one includes the Vedic mathematics,         Babylon is confirmed now since it
is contemporary. No scholar in more than      one will get quite a different perspective     is clear14 that the Agnicayana altar,
150 years has suggested that KB 19.3 or       on ancient mathematics.’                       whose mathematics he considered, leads
verses on ekāstaka (both of which lead to      While Babylonian mathematics em-            to 3000 BC on astronomical grounds
3000 BC) are ancient memories.                phasized algebra (Tradition II), Greek         (Figure 1).
   It is virtually impossible to demon-       mathematics emphasized geometry (Tra-             However, as seen above, the conclu-
strate that all astronomical references       dition I). In the beginning these differen-    sions from comparative mathematics do
that lead to 3000 BC are ancient memo-        tiations would not have existed and ‘The       not yield absolute dates.
ries. Indeed, the descriptions of these       main issue is the origin of geometric
references leave little doubt that they       algebra’25 (p. 318). Seidenberg25 (p. 329)
are contemporary (in contrast to that of      concluded that ‘Origin of mathematics’         Evidences from iron
the first calendrical scheme in TB 3.10).     occurred in Vedic ritual fire altars (as
Any such attempt must begin with a jus-       described in TS, SB and Śulvasūtras) from      Sanskrit scholars who support AIT have
tification, other than to salvage AIT, for    where it spread to Babylon and Greece.         interpreted kṛsna/śyāma ayas in Vedic

218                                                                                 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012
                                                                                                          HISTORICAL NOTES
texts as smelted iron and correlated it         to metallurgical analysis. It is impossible    primary functional metal of early socie-
with archaeological evidences for iron in       to be certain, either on linguistic or         ties.’
the Iron Age, the earliest date being           scientific grounds, that krsna/śyāma ayas
around 1000 BC till recently. For exam-         refers to smelted iron.
ple, Witzel24 (p. 67) states: ‘For, the first      The other premise in the argument for       Questions that must be addressed
appearance of iron, the “black metal”           AIT is based on the earliest archaeologi-      to establish a scientific basis for
(krsna/zyama ayas) in S. Asia, well             cal date for smelted iron, which was           AIT
known to the Brāhmaṇa style texts, is          taken to be 1000–1200 BC (late second
only at c. 1200 BCE. But, iron is already       millennium BC), well after the invasion        Scientists must assess which evidences
found in texts much earlier than the            proposed around 1500 BC. Tewari31              are more reliable – astronomical refer-
Brāhmaṇas (i.e. AV, and in the YV              showed that smelted iron in the Ganga          ences or those to krsna/śyāma ayas.
Saṃhitās: MS, KS, TS; however, not yet         plain dates to 1800 BC. He states ‘…it         Even before a scientific assessment is
in the RV)... To date Brāhmana texts           may be concluded that knowledge of iron        made, when a Sanskrit scholar, who sup-
at 1900 BCE (see below on astronomy) is         smelting and manufacturing of iron …           ports AIT, states29 ‘The evidence of
simply impossible.’                             was well known … and iron had been in          krsna ayas, iron (literally, black metal)
   (Wizel is unaware (ref. 14) that his in-     use in the Central Ganga plain at least        in the Brāhmanas fails to conclude the
terpretations of astronomical references,       from early second millennium BC. The           issue’ the choice is clear. A professional
ekāstaka (1984) and KB 19.3 (2001),           quantity and types of iron artifacts, and      assessment suggests the latter possibility
lead to 3000 BC. He had already contra-         the level of technical advancement indi-       is unacceptable as it privileges krsna
dicted his claim that early dates for           cate that the introduction of iron working     ayas – with no consensus in interpreta-
Brāhmana texts are ‘simply impossible’.)       took place even earlier. The beginning of      tion, inaccessible to scientific (metallur-
   With regard to the issue under discus-       the use of iron has been traditionally         gical) analysis, dates that can change
sion, there are several deficiencies with       associated with the eastward migration of      with archaeological discoveries and a
this approach as discussed below.               the later Vedic people… The new finds          suspect approach of linking it to the Iron
   The entire claim hinges, first, on the       and their dates suggest that a fresh           Age – over multiple astronomical refer-
definitive interpretation of krsna/śyāma     review is needed.’                             ences that are amenable to scientific
ayas as smelted iron. This is far from             Chakrabarti4, in an interview, responds     analysis and give stable dates. Clearly,
certain. Vedic Index (VI) VI–I (pp. 31,         to the question: ‘Q. According to you,         the evidentiary value of astronomical
32) and VI–II (p. 398) highlight the            what is the biggest archaeological find in     references is far superior to that of
tentativeness of 19th century Sanskrit          India in the last five years and why? A.       krsna/śyāma ayas.
scholars in interpreting krsna/śyāma         The evidence of early iron in the Ganga           This is consistent with the conclusion
ayas as iron28.                                 plain is another example. Earlier, we          reached earlier that there can be no sci-
   Recently, Bryant2 (p. 247) states that       used to say it began in the area around        entific basis in support of AIT until
conventional dates of AIT are justified         1000 BC. Now the date is pushed back by        astronomical references are interpreted
‘provided we can be assured that the            another 800 years.’                            to 800 BC.
krsna ayas refers to smelted iron objects       The dates for iron have changed sub-           From the above discussions, we pro-
and not iron ore. After all krsna ayas       stantially recently with new archaeologi-      pose that the following questions/points
simply means “black metal” and items            cal discoveries. Even these dates can by       must be satisfactorily addressed in order
made of black metal go back to the              no means be considered as settled. It is       to establish the scientific basis in support
Bronze age in Harappa, whether they             clear that they do not possess the cer-        of AIT.
were smelted or not… We simply don’t            tainty that is essential if they are to be
know’. Elsewhere29 (p. 348) he states           used to date Vedic texts.                      1. Key astronomical references must be
‘The evidence of krsna ayas, iron (liter-       Lahiri32 has observed that there is ‘a         consistently interpreted to 800 BC.
ally, black metal) in the Brāhmanas fails      large question mark’ on the entire ap-         2. Justification for the use of four suc-
to conclude the issue since, although           proach described above. She states (p. 6):        cessive calendars from Ṛg Veda –
smelted iron does not surface in the sub-       ‘what is now reasonably clear is the              Vedānga Jyotisa (VJ) in a period of
continent until the late 2nd millennium         presence of chronological distinctions            800–1000 years.
BCE, objects made of black iron ore have        between the advent of iron technology          3. Justification for interpreting krsna
been discovered in Harappan sites going         and the beginning of what is described as         ayas as smelted iron even as Sanskrit
back to 2600 BCE. There is no way, to my        the “Iron Age”, the first distinct phase in       scholars have differed for more than a
knowledge, of asserting that krsna ayas      the development of a technology capable           century.
refers to smelted iron in the earlier texts     of producing iron in the Indian subconti-      4. Justification for why ‘the first
(as it did in the later ones), rather than      nent coincides with the chalcolithic cul-         appearance of iron’ should be used to
iron ore or even as Kazanas30 speculates,       tures of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC…           date Vedic texts to 1000 BC when
blackened copper.’                              this time lag between the advent of Iron          an archaeologist31 has recently dated
   In more than a century, Sanskrit schol-      and the beginning of the Iron Age has             it to 1800 BC and states ‘The new
ars have not settled on the interpretation      put a large question mark on any scheme           finds and their dates suggest that
of krsna/śyāma ayas as smelted iron.         which sees a simple linkage between               a fresh review is needed.’ More
Importantly for scientists, references to       acquisition of technological know-how             significantly, scholars2,29,32 have im-
krsna/śyāma ayas in Vedic texts do not       involved in the process of smelting and           plied that this entire approach is sus-
contain any information that is amenable        forging Iron, and its acceptance as the           pect.

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012                                                                                         219
Unless these questions are addressed,             On SB, Kŗttikās on true east,        naksatra lists are ancient memories. He
there is no scientific basis for AIT. We       Pingree35 states, ‘unfortunately for this       has not analysed other key astronomical
have not considered evidences from             theory, parts of the naksatras, Hasta,         references, KB 5.1, KB 19.3, ekāstaka,
mathematics, even though they too can-         Viśakha, and perhaps Sravana were also          etc.
not be used to support AIT, because the        on the equator in 3000 BC’. This objec-            Unlike Pingree, whose (incorrect) in-
dates obtained are from relative compari-      tion was already discussed in 1895 by           terpretation of KB 19.3 is compatible
sons that are necessarily less reliable        Dikshit19 as none of the junction stars         with AIT, Kocchar’s support of AIT is
than absolute dates.                           would be on the equator, which is also          despite his interpreting SB to
                                               confirmed by Narahari Achar35. Pingree          3000/2300 BC. This must be considered
Examination of the views of                    has completely ignored the special status       to be his personal philosophy that is in
scholars with expertise in                     of Kŗttikā evident in TB and TS. We             contrast to the views of most scholars1–11
astronomy who support AIT                      have confirmed14 that Kŗttikās were on          who stand by their professional conclu-
                                               true east from verses in TS (Figure 1).         sions, even if they contradict AIT. For
We examine the views of Pingree and               Pingree34 did not comment on errors in       example, Chakrabarti4 states, ‘Archae-
Kocchar, who, to the best of our knowl-        observations in the Brāhmana period.           ology can provide continuous history’.
edge, are the only scholars who have           For VJ, he proposed three possibilities,        Schaffer and Lichtenstein state (p. 17)
interpreted astronomical references and        of which only one is relevant here as the       ‘the modern archaeological record for
also support AIT. It highlights the fact       others involve equal ecliptic segments          South Asia indicates a cultural history of
that scientists who have interpreted           not found in Brāhmana texts. He pro-           continuity rather than the earlier 18th
astronomical references overwhelmingly         posed, without any scientific justifica-        through 20th century scholarly interpre-
oppose AIT.                                    tion, a 10-day error in determining             tation of discontinuity and South Asian
   On KB 19.3, Hunger and Pingree33 (p.        solstices that would shift dates by 700         dependence upon Western influences’1.
76) state, ‘It is demonstrated in Pingree      years. However, we have shown14 that            Underhill et al.11 (p. 483) state that their
(1989) that the months here begin with         even a large error of the diameter of the       genetic study ‘would exclude any sig-
new moon as in Mesopotamia’, i.e. the          sun in the observation of sunrise leads to      nificant patrilineal gene flow from East
month of Māgha began, not ended, with          an error of 2 days. Our considered view14       Europe to Asia, at least since the mid-
new moon. This is the worst possible           (sec. 4.2) is that ‘Readers (especially         Holocene period’. The sine qua non for
scheme as, theologically14 the moon            scholars who suggest large errors without       an astronomer to support AIT in a pro-
would die on the very first day of the         substantiation) are welcome to determine        fessional capacity is to demonstrate that
month. TS 7.1.4 specifically states that       winter (or summer) solstice by direct           astronomical references in Vedic texts
the new moon and the next day belong to        observation of sunrise (or sunset) to con-      are compatible with it.
separate half-months, whereas in his           vince themselves that it is impossible to          It is clear that the support of scientists
scheme they belong to the same half-           determine solstices to an error of more         for AIT is based on incorrect interpreta-
month. Given that Vaiśākha new moon            than 3 days.’ As discussed in ref. 14 (sec.     tions of few astronomical references or
coincided with Rohini (SB,           4.3–sec. 5), the use of the gnomon com-         in a personal capacity. Such scientists
Vaiśākha full moon would be ~40° away          bined with a tradition of careful observa-      have also not considered other key astro-
from Viśākha naksatra instead of being        tions would lead to very accurate               nomical references that contradict AIT.
near it. Consecration begun on ekāstaka      measurements. Pingree’s 10-day error            Their support for AIT has been rendered
would not span two seasons or years            estimate should be considered to be an-         completely untenable after Sanskrit
despite explicit verses to this effect.        other example of his well known preju-          scholars’ interpretation of ekāstaka to
   VJ refers only to amānta months that        dices36,37. Even if accepted, it shifts dates   3000 BC from 1931 onwards. Clearly, the
are absent in Mesopotamia. Pingree             of astronomical references from 3000 BC         conclusion that there is no scientific
claimed that the ‘whole system’ of VJ          to 2300 BC and not to 800 BC.                   basis for AIT stands.
was borrowed from Mesopotamia34. If               Pingree’s conclusions are incorrect on
Pingree is to be believed, Lagadha re-         several counts. He did not interpret other
placed the pre-existing Mesopotamian           references, KB 5.1, ekāstaka, etc.            Discussion
scheme of KB 19.3 and introduced the              Kochhar38, an astronomer, co-authored
amānta scheme in VJ even as he bor-            an article which dates SB to            After considering evidences from astron-
rowed its ‘whole system’ from Mesopo-          3000 BC. It states38 ‘the Śatapatha Brāh-       omy, metallurgy and mathematics, it is
tamia. It is clearly illogical. Since VJ has   mana explicitly states that Kŗttikās rise       clear that astronomical references are, by
amānta months absent in Babylon, it            due east… we know that the name Mula            far, the most reliable evidences of the
should have been a pre-existing indige-        existed in the Kŗttikādi list whose origin      three. They consistently lead to about
nous tradition. Thus, even if VJ astron-       dates back to about 3000 BC’. He sup-           3000 BC (ref. 14) and oppose AIT. Im-
omy was borrowed from Babylon (it is           ported AIT in a book39 which, surpris-          portantly, though evidences from metal-
not), KB 19.3 would have amānta                ingly, does not mention the above article.      lurgy and mathematics are less reliable,
months and lead to 3000 BC. (Witzel’s24        In the book39, he states that SB        they are not in contradiction with this
view (p. 73) that verses VJ 5-6 ‘post-         leads to 2300 BC ‘if rigorously true’           date. Unlike the latter two, where (doubt-
dates the establishment of the calendrical     (λ = 0°), which differs from the analysis       ful) attempts have been made to reinter-
scheme with amānta months… KB 19.2-            (δ = 0°) in his article38. A clarification      pret them with the framework of AIT,
3, however, already has amānta months’         was clearly warranted. Importantly, there       astronomical references are completely
is similar.)                                   is no suggestion that SB or the         incompatible with AIT. Since they are

220                                                                                  CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012
                                                                                                           HISTORICAL NOTES
the most reliable of the three, they con-     Conclusion                                       18. Chakrabarti, D. K., Indian Express, 20
firm the conclusion reached earlier that                                                           September 2009.
there can be no scientific basis in sup-      We have examined evidences from astro-           19. Dikshit, S. B., Indian Antiquary, 1895,
port of AIT until key astronomical refer-     nomy, mathematics and metallurgy, which              24, 245–247.
                                              any scientist with a background in physical      20. Danino, M., Man Environ., 2003, 28, 21–
ences are interpreted to 800 BC.
                                              sciences must consider in order to form a            32.
   The astronomical evidences cannot be                                                        21. McIntosh, J., The Ancient Indus Valley:
wished away. Jacobi had long been igno-       professional opinion on AIT. We propose
                                                                                                   New Perspectives, ABC-CLIO, Santa
red by mainstream Western scholars2 (p.       the criteria – four questions that must be
                                                                                                   Barbara, 2008.
252), yet Seidenberg26 in 1962 resur-         addressed satisfactorily – for scientists to     22. Baber, Z., The Science of Empire: Scien-
rected his dates reached 50–70 years ear-     support AIT in a professional capacity.              tific Knowledge, Civilization, and Colo-
lier on astronomical grounds because          On these grounds, we establish that there            nial Rule, SUNY Press, Albany, 1996.
they, and not AIT dates, were compatible      is no scientific basis for the Aryan Inva-       23. Chattopadhyaya, D. P. (ed.), History of
with his conclusions. The reason he25         sion Theory.                                         Science and Technology in Ancient
modified his opinion in 1978, ‘Now the                                                             India – The Beginnings, Firma KLM,
                                                                                                   Calcutta, 1986.
Sanskrit scholars do not give me a date        1. Klostermaier, K. K., A Survey of Hindu-      24. Witzel, M., Electron. J. Vedic Stud.,
so far back as 1700 BC…’ is no longer             ism, SUNY Press, Albany, 2007.                   2001, 7, 3–107.
applicable, since it is now clear14 that       2. Bryant, E. F., The Quest for the Origins     25. Seidenberg, A., Arch. Hist. Exact Sci.,
their interpretation of ekāstaka (from          of Vedic Culture, Oxford University              1978, 18, 301–342.
1931 onwards) leads to 3000 BC. Thus,             Press, Oxford, 2001.                         26. Seidenberg, A., Arch. Hist. Exact Sci.,
scholars are fully justified to invoke         3. Bryant, E. F. and Patton, L. L., The Indo-       1962, 1, 488–527.
                                                  Aryan Controversy, Routledge, London,
dates from astronomical references in                                                          27. Seidenberg, A., Arch. Hist. Exact Sci.,
                                                  2005.                                            1975, 14, 264–295.
case their conclusions are compatible
                                               4. Chakrabarti, D. K., The Oxford Compan-       28. MacDonnell, A. A. and Keith, A B.,
with them rather than AIT dates.                  ion to Indian Archaeology, Oxford Uni-
   The suggestions that astronomical ref-                                                          Vedic Index of Names and Subjects,
                                                  versity Press, Oxford, 2006. See also an         1914.
erences are ancient Harappan memories             interview on this book – D. K. Chakra-       29. Bryant, E., J. Indo-Euro. Stud., 2002, 30,
are unsubstantiated or weakly substanti-          barti, The Times of India, 12 September          341–352.
ated and are incorrect. Importantly, this         2006.                                        30. Kazanas, N., J. Indo-Euro. Stud., 2002,
is based on a limited consideration of the     5. Biswas, A. K., Indian J. Hist. Sci., 2004,       30, 275–334.
astronomical references. Other key refer-         39, 373–384.                                 31. Tewari, R., Antiquity, 2003, 77, 536–
ences, that also lead to 3000 BC, have         6. Valdiya, K. S., Resonance, 19–28 May             545.
always (for more than 150 years) been                                                          32. Lahiri, N., In Social History of Early
                                               7. Valdiya, K. S., Saraswati: The River that        India (ed. Chattopadhyaya, B. D.), Pear-
considered to be contemporary by
                                                  Disappeared, Universities Press, Hydera-         son Education India, 2009, pp. 3–17.
all scholars, including Western Sanskrit          bad, 2002.
scholars. A moment’s reflection will                                                           33. Hunger, H. and Pingree, D., Astral Sci-
                                               8. Gupta, A. K., Sharma, J. R., Sreenivasan,        ences in Mesopotamia, BRILL, Leiden,
show that it is virtually impossible to           G. and Srivastava, K. S., J. Indian Soc.         1999.
demonstrate that all references that lead         Remote Sensing, 2004, 32, 1–24.              34. Pingree, D., J. Hist. Astron., 1973, 4, 1–12.
to 3000 BC are ancient memories. From a        9. Gupta, A. K., Sharma, J. R. and Sreeni-      35. Narahari Achar, B. N., Indian J. Hist.
scientific perspective, AIT stands dis-           vasan, G., Int. J. Remote Sensing, 2011,         Sci., 2000, 35, 1–19.
proved.                                           32, 5197–5216.                               36. Joseph, G. G., Isis, 1994, 85, 668.
   It is also important to recognize the      10. Danino, M., Puratattva, 2006, 36, 146–       37. Falk, H., Z. Dtsch. Morgenländischen
limitations of the astronomical eviden-                                                            Gesellschaft, 2000, 150, 107–132.
                                              11. Underhill, P. A. et al., Eur. J. Hum. Ge-    38. Rana, N. C. and Kochhar, R. K., Indian
ces. Any general or overarching theory
                                                  net., 2010, 18, 479–484.                         J. Hist. Sci., 1995, 30, 31–34.
(such as AIT or AMT or Out of India           12. Trautmann, T. R. (ed.), The Aryan De-
Theory) that dates the Saṃhita and                                                            39. Kochhar, R. K., The Vedic People: Their
                                                  bate, Oxford University Press, Oxford,           History and Geography, Orient Long-
Brāhmana texts to 800 BC is incorrect. In        2005.                                            mann, New Delhi, 1997, 2000; Book Re-
contrast, any general theory that dates       13. Danino, M., J. Indian Hist. Cult., 2006,         views in Curr. Sci., 2001, 80, 581–584.
them to about 3000 BC is plausible at             13, 33–59.
best. Astronomical references cannot de-      14. Prasanna, T. R. S., Indian J. Hist. Sci.,    ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. I thank Prof. N. B.
cide between competing general theories           2011, 46, 573–610.                           Ballal and Prof. M. P. Gururajan for their
that date the Samhita–Brāhmana period       15. Abhyankar, K. D., Indian J. Hist. Sci.,      comments and suggestions.
                                                  1993, 28, 1–14.
to about 3000 BC and other evidences
                                              16. Dumont, P. E., Proc. Am. Philos. Soc.,
must be considered to decide their                                                             T. R. S. Prasanna is in the Department of
                                                  1951, 95, 628–675.
correctness. Any general theory must          17. Sen, S. N. and Shukla, K. S. (eds), His-     Metallurgical Engineering and Materials
interpret specialized evidences to the sat-       tory of Astronomy in India, Indian Natio-    Science, Indian Institute of Technology
isfaction of specialists and not vice             nal Science Academy, New Delhi, 1985,        Bombay, Mumbai 400 076, India.
versa.                                            p. 2000.                                     e-mail:

CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 103, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2012                                                                                              221

To top