Author’s Note: This article series is an expanded version of a paper presented at ICHR conference in New Delhi, 2018 under the title ‘The Rigveda and the Aryan Theory: A Rational Perspective’.
IV. History of the Emigration of the other Indo-European branches
As the linguistic data shows, the Indo-Aryans were one of the many dialectal groups of Indo-European language speakers in the Original Homeland. There were other dialectal groups (present knowledge knows eleven other dialects that have developed into known branches of Indo-European languages) which lived around them in 3000 BCE.
Likewise, the “Vedic Aryans” are one of many territorial tribal groups mentioned in the Puranic traditional history; the Pūru. And, in the Family Books, they are one particular branch or sub-tribe of the Pūru known as the Bharata Pūru, who originally lived in the areas of westernmost U.P and Haryana as indigenous inhabitants in and before 3000 BCE. There were other territorial tribal groups that lived around them. The logical inference is that the area of the Pūru in 3000 BCE was part of the Original Homeland, and the other territorial tribal groups around them included the other dialectal groups that later became the other eleven branches of Indo-European languages.
If northern India was the Original Indo-European Homeland, another logical inference is that those of the other groups around them who migrated out of India are more likely to have been to the west of the Pūru, since all the other historical branches of Indo-European languages are found far to the west outside India. The two most likely candidates are the Anu and the Druhyu. The evidence can be examined as follows:
A. The Geography of the Two Tribal Groups.
B. The Linguistic Classification of the Migrating Branches.
C. The Recorded Migrations.
D. The Textual and Linguistic Evidence.
A. The Geography of the Two Tribal Groups:
As per the Puranic decriptions:
a) the Anu tribes originally inhabited the areas to the North of the Pūru in the areas of Kashmir and the areas to its immediate west, and
b) the Druhyu tribes originally inhabited the areas to the West of the Pūru in the areas of the Greater Punjab (present-day northern Pakistan).
Certain early (and clearly pre-Rigvedic) events recorded in the Puranic traditions led to a realignment in the areas of these two tribes: the Druhyu tribes started conquering eastwards and southwards, and their conquests brought them into conflict with all the other tribes and peoples. This led to a concerted effort by the other tribes to drive them out, and the result was that they were driven out not only from the east but also from their homeland in the northern half of present-day Pakistan. This area was occupied by a major branch of the Anu tribes which moved southwards and westwards: “One branch, headed by Uśīnara, established several kingdoms on the eastern border of the Punjab […] his famous son Śivi originated the Śivis [footnote: called Śivas in Rigveda VII.18.7] in Śivapura, and extending his conquests westwards […] occupying the whole of the Punjab except the northwestern corner” (PARGITER 1962:264): the Druhyu tribes were pushed far to the west, into Afghanistan: “the next Druhyu king Gandhāra retired to the northwest and gave his name to the Gandhāra country” (PARGITER 1962:262).
a) the Anu now became inhabitants of the areas, both to the north (Kashmir and areas to its west) as well as the west (northern Pakistan) of the Pūru, and
b) the Druhyu were pushed out further west and northwest (i.e. into the northwestern corner of the Punjab, and into Afghanistan), with only some remnants remaining in the original area.
B. The Linguistic Classification of the Migrating Branches:
As per the linguistic analysis of the isoglosses (linguistic features) shared by the various Indo-European branches, the twelve branches (i.e. their ancestral Dialect forms) are classified into three main and distinct groups with respect to the chronology and sequence of their migration from the Homeland (wherever that Homeland be located):
1. The Early Branches: Anatolian (Hittite) and Tocharian, in that order.
2. The European Branches: Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic, in that order.
3. The Last Branches (given here by their historical locations from west to east, since their particular sequence of migration from the Homeland is not clear): Albanian, Greek, Armenian, Iranian and Indo-Aryan.
The significant points of the linguistic analysis are:
1. After the early emigration of Anatolian, all the remaining branches (Tocharian, the European Branches, and the Late Branches) developed some fundamental isoglosses in common that are absent only in Anatolian:
a) Feminines in *ā, *ī, *ū. (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:35).
b) Instrumental plural masculine *-ōis (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345).
c) Independent (deictic) demonstrative pronouns *so, *sa, tho (pl.th) (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345).
2. The Early Branches and the Last Branches do not share any major isogloss (other than the above ones shared by Tocharian with all the non-Anatolian branches), indicating that there was no major linguistic interaction among them after the migration of both the Early Branches from the Homeland.
3. The European Branches and the Last Branches share many isoglosses, showing close interaction between the two groups in the Homeland after the migration of the two Early Branches:
a) Middles in *-oi/*-moi (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Germanic-Baltic-Slavic, Albanian-Greek-Armenian-Iranian-IndoAryan.
b) The comparison of adjectives in *-thero and *-is-tho (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Germanic, Greek-Iranian-IndoAryan.
c) The instrumental singular masculine *-ō (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Germanic-Baltic, Iranian-Indo-Aryan.
d) Satem assibilation: palatals > assibilated stops (> sibilants) (HOCK 1999a:14-15): Baltic-Slavic, Armenian-Iranian-IndoAryan.
e) The “Ruki” rule (HOCK 1999a:14-15): Baltic-Slavic, Armenian-Iranian-IndoAryan.
f) The merger of the original PIE velars and labio-velars (HOCK 1999a:15): Baltic-Slavic, Armenian-Iranian-Indo-Aryan.
g) The Locative *-s-u/*-s-i (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Baltic-Slavic, Greek-Iranian-Indo-Aryan.
h) The relative pronoun *yos (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Slavic, Greek-Armenian-Iranian-Indo-Aryan.
i) The genitive-locative dual *-os (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Slavic, Iranian-Indo-Aryan.
j) A first-person singular pronoun: nominative, genitive and accusative (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Slavic, Iranian-Indo-Aryan.
4. The European Branches share important isoglosses with the Early Branches:
a) The relative pronoun *khois (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Anatolian-Tocharian, Italic.
b) The genitive singular *-ī (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Tocharian, Italic-Celtic.
c) Subjunctives in *-ā, *-ē (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Tocharian, Italic-Celtic.
d) Middle passives in *-r (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Anatolian-Tocharian, Italic-Celtic.
e) The Middle present participle in *-mo- (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Anatolian, Baltic-Slavic.
f) Modal forms in *-l- (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Anatolian-Tocharian, Slavic.
5. Some of the Last Branches share certain isoglosses with the European Branches missing in Indo-Aryan:
a) The original Proto-Indo-European *tt changed to ss: Baltic-Slavic, Greek-Albanian-Iranian. [It changed to tst in Anatolian, and to st in Italic-Celtic-Germanic, and remained tt only in Indo-Aryan].
b) A loss of aspiration in voiced aspirated stops (LUBOTSKY 2001:302): Germanic-Baltic-Slavic, Iranian.
6. All the Last Branches developed several sweeping isoglosses in common after the departure of the Early Branches and the European Branches:
a) A “complete restructuring of the entire inherited verbal system” (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:340-341,345), with the formation of athematic and thematic aorists, augmented forms and reduplicated presents: Albanian, Greek, Armenian, Iranian, Indo-Aryan.
b) Oblique cases in *-bhi- (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:345): Albanian, Greek, Armenian, Iranian, Indo-Aryan.
c) The prohibitive negation *mē (MEILLET 1908/1967:39): Albanian, Greek, Armenian, Iranian, Indo-Aryan.
7. Some of the Last Branches developed certain isoglosses in common that are missing in Indo-Aryan:
a) Change of *s > h from initial *s before a vowel, from intervocalic *s, and from some occurrences of *s before and after sonants, while *s remained before and after a stop (MEILLET 1908/1967:113): Greek-Armenian-Iranian.
C. The Recorded Migrations:
The emigrations of the Druhyu and Anu tribes are actually a matter of recorded history:
1. The Druhyu, as per the original Puranic locations of the five Aila tribes, were originally inhabitants of the Greater Punjab area (the Sapta-Sindhava, or present-day northern Pakistan) to the west of the Pūru.
Later, after the Anu displaced them from this area, the Druhyu, in a pre-Rigvedic era, were pushed farther to the west into Afghanistan or “the Gandhāra country” (PARGITER 1962:262).
Even later, they started migrating to the north into Central Asia and beyond:
“Indian tradition distinctly asserts that there was an Aila outflow of the Druhyus through the northwest into the countries beyond, where they founded various kingdoms” (PARGITER 1962:298).
“Five Purāṇas add that Pracetas’ descendants spread out into the mleccha countries to the north beyond India and founded kingdoms there” (BHARGAVA 1956/1971:99).
“After a time, being overpopulated, the Druhyus crossed the borders of India and founded many principalities in the Mleccha territories in the north, and probably carried the Aryan culture beyond the frontiers of India” (MAJUMDAR 1951/1996:283).
2.The Anu, as per the original Puranic locations, were originally inhabitants of the North—Kashmir and the areas to its west.
Then, still in the pre-Rigvedic era, “One branch, headed by Uśīnara, established several kingdoms on the eastern border of the Punjab“, and later, by the time of the Oldest Books of the Rigveda (6,3,7), they had extended their “conquests westwards […] occupying the whole of the Punjab except the northwestern corner” (PARGITER 1962:264).
In the period of the Oldest Books, the expansionist activities of the Bharata Pūru king Sudās and his descendants led to the westward migration of major sections of the Anu: the dāśarājña war led to the possessions (territory) of the Anu being taken over by the Bharatas. As we have already seen, they are specifically described (VII.18.13) as abandoning their possessions after their defeat and scattering abroad (VII.5.3) in the westward direction (VII.6.3).
Clearly, there were two major migrations. The migration of the Druhyu towards the north (into Central Asia, and later further westwards), and the migration of the Anu towards the west (into Afghanistan, and later further westwards).
This explains the two main groups of Indo-European branches. The European Branches form one cohesive group along with the Early Branches and constitute a northern belt of Indo-European languages, while the Last Branches constitute a southern belt. Therefore:
a) the Druhyu are to be identified at least with the European Branches (the nomenclature possibly covering the Early Branches as well), and
b) the Anu are to be identified with the Last Branches (except the Pūru Indo-Aryan).
D. The Textual and Linguistic Evidence:
As per the popular theory, the Original Homeland was in South Russia: the Anatolian branch first migrated to the south, then the Tocharian branch migrated to the east, later the European Branches migrated towards the west. Much later, the Albanian and Greek branches migrated to the southwest, the Armenian branch to the south, and the Iranian and Indo-Aryan branches to the east.
The Indian Homeland theory shows first the Anatolian and Tocharian branches migrating in that sequence to the north from Afghanistan into the western and eastern parts of Central Asia respectively, much later followed into Central Asia by the Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Slavic branches, in that sequence. The first two branches remained in Central Asia for a long time (the Tocharian branch remained till the end of its existence), and the Anatolian branch later migrated westwards through Kazakhstan and then south into Anatolia (Turkey) around the Caspian Sea. The European Branches expanded northwestwards, finally moving into Europe.
The Albanian, Greek, Armenian and Iranian branches migrated westwards from Afghanistan, with the tail-enders of the Iranian group continuing in Afghanistan (later also spreading northwards into Central Asia), and the Indo-Aryan continuing in the Original Homeland to the east of Afghanistan.
The Indian Homeland theory, being recorded in the ancient texts, already eclipses the Russian Homeland theory which is pure speculative hypothesis.
But even the bare evidence of the isoglosses alone makes it clear that the South Russian Homeland theory is untenable, whereas the Indian Homeland theory fits in perfectly with the data:
1. Migrations almost always take place in one general direction. As in the Indian homeland theory. The South Russian homeland theory has all the different branches migrating in every possible direction.
2. It is logical that the Homeland should be located in the historical area of one of the five Last Branches, with one branch continuing to remain in the area after the migration of the other four, as in the Indian homeland theory. The South Russian Homeland theory has every single one of the Last Branches migrating from the Homeland, with one European Branch (Slavic) finally returning back into the area in historical times.
3. The Anatolian branch was the first to migrate from the Homeland, and all the other branches evolved together as a group separately from Anatolian, and later also from Tocharian. However, we find a large number of important isoglosses formed jointly between the Early and European Branches, and between the European and Late Branches, but none between the Early and Late Branches.
In the South Russian Homeland theory, Anatolian migrated to the south, Tocharian to the east and then the European Branches to the west. Later, Albanian and Greek migrated to the southwest, Armenian to the south, and Iranian and Indo-Aryan to the east. Given the wide range of directions in which all these branches dispersed, there is no explanation at all for the isoglosses:
a) The Early Branches (going south and east respectively) formed important isoglosses with the European Branches (going west),
b) the European Branches (going west) formed important isoglosses with the Late Branches (going southwest, south and east respectively),
c) but the Early Branches (going south and east respectively) did not form any isoglosses with the Late Branches (going southwest, south and east respectively).
However, in the Indian Homeland theory, these facts have a natural explanation: the Early Branches first migrated to the north of Afghanistan and settled in Central Asia. The Late Branches never went north of Afghanistan in their formative period, and therefore did not form any isoglosses with the Early Branches to the north. The European Branches, on the other hand, remained in Afghanistan for a considerable period when different isoglosses were formed with various Late Branches. Later, they migrated northwards into Central Asia (still later moving towards Europe through the northwest of Central Asia) when different isoglosses were formed with the Early Branches.
4. In the Russian Homeland theory, Indo-Aryan and Iranian are supposed to have migrated together eastwards from South Russia as one group (Indo–Iranian), completely distinct from the other branches. Nevertheless, Iranian shares certain isoglosses in common with the other Late Branches, or jointly with certain European Branches and Late Branches, that are missing in Indo-Aryan.
This has no explanation in the South Russian Homeland theory, but in the Indian Homeland theory, these are explained as isoglosses formed by Iranian with the other branches in the west in Afghanistan, and these are missing in Indo-Aryan because it remained in the east.
Similar to these isoglosses is the presence in Iranian (mainly Avestan and Ossetic) of a small category of words, which we may call “northwestern” or “Afghan” words pertaining to a mountainous land with ice and snow, found also in the European Branches but not found in Indo-Aryan:
Av. aēxa “frost, ice” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic and Germanic.
Oss. tajyn “thaw, melt” (verb) with cognates in Slavic, Germanic, Celtic and Italic (and also Greek and Armenian).
Av. udra “otter” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic and Germanic.
Av. bawra-/bawri– “beaver” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Celtic and Italic.
Oss. wyzyn “hedgehog” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic and Germanic (and also Greek and Armenian).
Oss. læsæg “salmon” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic and Germanic (and also Armenian).
Av. θβərəsa– “boar” with cognates in Celtic.
Av. pərəsa– “piglet” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Celtic and Italic.
Pehl. wabz– “wasp” with cognates in Slavic, Baltic, Germanic, Celtic and Italic.
Av. staora– “steer” with cognates in Germanic.
Apart from all these basic considerations, there is significant textual and linguistic evidence for the migration of each of the three groups from the Indian Homeland.
THE EARLY BRANCHES:
1. Logistically, the migration of the two Early Branches northwards from Afghanistan into Central Asia takes them almost directly into their historically attested areas: Tocharian remained in eastern Central Asia till the end, and Anatolian reached its earliest recorded historical area (Turkey) by a natural expansion westwards towards, and then around the shores of, the Caspian Sea.
On the other hand, at least the presence of Tocharian in Central Asia is an anomaly in the South Russian Homeland theory. As Childe had accepted long ago, “the simplest explanation of the presence of a Centum language in Central Asia would be to regard it as the last survivor of an original Asiatic Aryan stock. To identify a wandering of Aryans across Turkestan from Europe in a relatively late historical period is frankly difficult” (CHILDE 1926:95-96).
2. The two Early Branches Anatolian and Tocharian are referred to in the Puranas as the two great tribes or peoples living to the north of the Himalayas, whom they call the Uttara-Madra and the Uttara-Kuru. The Uttara-Kuru are easily identified by their geographical location with the Tocharians. This is supported by the simiḷarity of the name Uttara-Kuru with the name Tocharian (Twghry in an Uighur text, and Tou-ch’u-lo or Tu-huo-lo in ancient Chinese Buddhist texts). Clearly, Uttara-Kuru is a Sanskritization of the native appellation of the Tocharians, preserving, as closely as possible, what Henning calls “the consonantal skeleton (dental + velar + r) and the old u-sonant [which] appears in every specimen of the name” (HENNING 1978:225). Since the eastern of the two great tribes to the north were called the Uttara-Kuru, the western must have been called the Uttara-Madra according to the analogy of the actual Kuru and the Madra tribes of the south being to the east and the west respectively; and the term Uttara-Madra must therefore refer to the Anatolians (proto-Hittites).
3. The presence, in Hittite mythology, of Indra, as the God/Goddess Inara who helps the rain-God to kill the Great Serpent, is significant. Indra is completely unknown to all the other Indo-European mythologies and traditions (except, of course, the Avesta, where he has been demonized): Anatolian can only have acquired this God and nature-myth from an earlier sojourn close to the Vedic area.
[The name is so uniquely Indo-Aryan that Lubotsky and Witzel (see WITZEL 2006:95) feel emboldened to classify Indra as a word borrowed by “Indo-Iranian” from a hypothetical BMAC language in Northern-Afghanistan/Central-Asia! Incidentally, the Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology actually describes Inar/Inara as “Inar, a God who had come from India with the Indo-European Hittites” (LAROUSSE 1959:85)].
4. Finally, incredible as it may seem, we actually have some kind of racial evidence (though nothing to do with any “Aryan race”) indicating that the proto-Hittites immigrated to West Asia from the east (Central Asia) rather than from the West. It was only in the beginning of the twentieth century that their language was discovered and studied in detail, and they were conclusively identified linguistically as Indo-Europeans. Shortly after this, a paper in the Journal of the American Oriental Society makes the following incidental observations: “While the reading of the inscriptions by Hrozny and other scholars has almost conclusively shown that they spoke an Indo-European language, their physical type is clearly Mongoloid, as is shown by their representations both on their own sculptures and on Egyptian monuments. They had high cheek-bones and retreating foreheads.” (CARNOY 1919:117).
THE EUROPEAN BRANCHES:
1. The three northern tribal groups, as per the Indian tradition, were the Pūru, Anu and Druhyu. All three shared a common, or interrelated, culture in western North India, with religious systems exhibiting the same two central religious features: hymnology and fire-rituals. The priests of the Pūru (the Indo-Aryan speakers) were the Aṅgiras, of the Anu (mainly the Iranian branch) were the Bhṛgu, and of the amorphous group of tribes further west were the Druhyu (which is why the group was itself referred to as Druhyu). [For details, see TALAGERI 2000:254-260, 2008:247-250, and for greater details about the complicated Aṅgiras–Bhṛgu history and relations, see TALAGERI 2000:164-180].
That there were three main groups of rival priests, and that the third group (besides the Aṅgiras and the Bhṛgu) were the Druhyu, is made clear in the Rigveda and the Avesta. Rigveda VII.18.6 refers to the priests of the Anu–Druhyu coalition against Sudās as “the Bhṛgu and the Druhyu“. Likewise, in the Avesta in Vendidad 19, it is an Angra and a Druj who try to tempt Zaraθuštra away from the path of Ahura Mazda. [the priests of the Iranians were the Āθrauuans (Atharvans or Bhṛgus), including Zaraθuštra himself].
After examining the similarities and common religious features among the ancient Indo-European branches, Winn concludes that the “Celts, Romans, and Indo-Iranians shared a religious heritage dating to an early Indo-European period” (WINN 1995:103).
The only European group that preserves the original PIE priestly class is the Celtic group, whose religion exhibits the same two central religious features found in the Vedic and Avestan religions, i.e. hymnology and fire-worship. It also preserves the original name Drui (gen. Druid), i.e. Druhyu. As in the Vedic and Iranian religions:
a) the main curriculum of the “Celtic Druids [….] involved years of instruction and the memorization of innumerable verses, as the sacred tradition was an oral one” (WINN 1995:54), and
b) fire-rituals formed the centre of the religion. The fire rituals were originated by the Bhṛgu priests, and the Rigveda (even in the Oldest Books, where the Bhṛgu are regarded as enemies: see TALAGERI 2000:172-174) gives them due credit for the same. Similarly, the Bhṛgu (of the Anu tribe) are indirectly remembered in Celtic traditions as the earliest rishis or teachers: two of the three Great Goddesses of the Celts were named Anu and Brigit, and while all the Goddesses in general were associated with fertility cults, “Brigit, however, had additional functions as a tutelary deity of learning, culture and skills” (LAROUSSE 1959:239). Most significantly, Brigit is primarily associated with the maintenance of eternal fires, like the eternal fires of the Iranian priests (and the eternal fire referred to in the Rigveda III.23), and this was the central feature of her main temple at Kildare in Ireland, where eternal flames were maintained by priestesses.
While Celtic is the only branch that preserves the original PIE priestly system with the name Drui (Druhyu, as well as the names Anu and Brigit), it is clear that this priestly class really prevailed in all the European Branches:
a) The word Druhyu and its cognates (Druh, Drugh, drogha, droha) in the Rigveda, as well as the word Druj in the Avesta, refer to demons or enemies. But cognate forms have the opposite meaning in European languages. While Drui is the name for the priests of the Celtic people, the word means “friend” in the Baltic and Slavonic languages (e.g. Lithuanian draugas and Russian drug), and something like “soldier” in the Germanic languages (Gothic ga-drauhts, Old Norse drōtt, Old English dryht, Old German truht). “Friend” may have been a symbolic word for a militant “priest”: the Rigvedic reference to the two priestly classes of Sudās’ enemies is as follows, Griffith’s translation: “The Bhṛgus and the Druhyus quickly listened: friend rescued friend mid the two distant peoples”.
b) The Bhṛgu are also indirectly remembered in Germanic tradition: the Norse god of poetry and wisdom is Bragi, and although he is not directly associated with fire rituals, a suggested etymology of his name, often rejected simply because he is not known to be associated with fire or fire rituals, is from the word braga, “to shine”: i.e. his name is also derived from the same IE root as the name of the Bhṛgu, the originators of the Vedic fire-rituals, and the related Phleguai, the Greek fire-priests.
All this confirms the identity of the Druhyu of Indian historical tradition with the speakers of the ancestral forms of the European Branches.
2. A very detailed and complex linguistic study by Johanna Nichols and a team of linguists, appropriately entitled “The Epicentre of the Indo-European Linguistic Spread“, examines ancient loan-words from West Asia (Semitic and Sumerian) found in Indo-European and also in other language families like Caucasian (with three separate groups Kartvelian, Abkhaz-Circassian and Nakh-Daghestanian), and the mode and form of transmission of these loan-words into the Indo-European family as a whole as well as into particular branches. It then combines this with the evidence of the spread of Uralic and its connections with Indo-European, and with several kinds of other linguistic evidence: “Several kinds of evidence for the PIE locus have been presented here. Ancient loanwords point to a locus along the desert trajectory, not particularly close to Mesopotamia and probably far out in the eastern hinterlands. The structure of the family tree, the accumulation of genetic diversity at the western periphery of the range, the location of Tocharian and its implications for early dialect geography, the early attestation of Anatolian in Asia Minor, and the geography of the centum-satem split; all point in the same direction [….]: the long-standing westward trajectories of languages point to an eastward locus, and the spread of IE along all the three trajectories points to a locus well to the east of the Caspian Sea. The satem shift also spread from a locus to the south-east of the Caspian, with satem languages showing up as later entrants along all three trajectory terminals. (The satem shift is a post-PIE but very early IE development). The locus of the IE spread was therefore somewhere in the vicinity of ancient Bactria-Sogdiana.” (NICHOLS 1997:137): i.e. all this linguistic evidence locates the locus of the spread of the European Branches in the very area outside the exit point from Afghanistan into Central Asia as indicated by the data in the Puranas regarding the emigration of the Druhyu tribes.
3. Independently of the diverse linguistic evidence analyzed by Nichols above (which pertains to linguistic contacts of the European dialects with languages to the west and southwest of Central Asia), there is other linguistic evidence further east:
a) A western academic scholar of Chinese origin, Tsung-tung Chang, shows on the basis of a study of the relationship between the vocabulary of Old Chinese (as reconstructed by Bernard Karlgren, Grammata Serica, 1940, etc.) and the etymological roots of Proto-Indo-European vocabulary (as reconstructed by Julius Pokorny, Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch, 1959) that there was a very strong Indo-European influence on the formative vocabulary of Old Chinese. His conclusions: “Among Indo-European dialects, Germanic languages seem to have been mostly akin to Old Chinese” (CHANG 1988:32), and all this indicates that “Indo-Europeans had coexisted for thousands of years in Central Asia [….] (before) they emigrated into Europe” (CHANG 1988:33).
b) The association of proto-Germanic, as well as proto-Celtic, with ancient Central Asia is confirmed by Gamkrelidze and Ivanov as well, who deal with this point at length in section 12.7 in their book entitled “The separation of the Ancient European dialects from Proto-Indo-European and the migration of Indo-European tribes across Central Asia” (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:831-847), where they trace the movement of the European Dialects from Central Asia to Europe on the basis of a trail of linguistic contacts between the European Dialects and various other language families on the route. This evidence includes (apart from borrowings from the European Dialects into Old Chinese, already discussed above) borrowings from the Yeneseian and Altaic languages into the European Dialects and vice versa. Significantly, Gamkrelidze and Ivanov are proponents of a Homeland in Anatolia, but the linguistic evidence compels them to postulate a hypothetical movement of the European Branches eastwards into Central Asia before they moved out westwards towards Europe.
4. There is plenty of other linguistic evidence to show that there was a westward, and not eastward, migration of Indo-European languages. For example:
a) Semitic words borrowed by ancient Indo-European (taurus, wine) are found in all the nine branches to the west, but not in the three eastern branches (Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Tocharian). Further, the words for “wine” are found in the western branches in three reconstructed forms corresponding to their stage of migration westwards. Thus, the Early Branch Hittite (Anatolian) has borrowed the form *wi(o)no, the European Branches have borrowed the form *weino, and the Last Branches Albanian, Greek and Armenian have borrowed the form *woino.
b) Indo-Aryan and Iranian words have been massively borrowed by the Uralic languages of eastern Europe, but there are no reverse borrowings. This shows that the two eastern branches did not come from the west and never had contact with the Uralic speakers, but that small groups of Indo-Aryan and Iranian speaking people must have migrated westwards with the European branches and settled down among the Uralic speakers, finally getting integrated into their ranks.
[Incidentally, the Finnish scholar Parpola is a strong proponent of the theory that the Indo–Iranians, before “migrating” eastwards to their historical habitats, were inhabitants of a far western region to the southeast of the Uralic, or more properly, the Finno–Ugric people. Including in the above article, he regularly cites the evidence of the huge number of Indo–Iranian, Iranian or Indo–Aryan loans in Finno–Ugric to this effect. He, therefore, treats this as evidence that the Indo–Iranians came from the Uralic areas.
This is a classic example of upside-down half-witted logic. There are genuinely massive numbers of very important ancient Indo–Iranian/Iranian/Indo–Aryan words borrowed into Finno–Ugric: “The earliest layer of Indo-Iranian borrowing consists of common Indo-Iranian, Proto-Indo-Aryan and Proto-Iranian words relating to three cultural spheres: economic production, social relations, and religious beliefs. Economic terms comprise words for domestic animals (sheep, ram, Bactrian camel, stallion, colt, piglet, calf), pastoral processes and products (udder, skin, wool, cloth, spinner), farming (grain, awn, beer, sickle), tools (awl, whip, horn, hammer or mace), metal (ore) and probably, ladder (or bridge). A large group of loanwords reflects social relations (man, sister, orphan, name) and includes such important Indo-Iranian terms like dāsa ‘non-Aryan, alien, slave’ and asura ‘god, master, hero’. Finally a considerable number of the borrowed words reflect religious beliefs and practices: heaven, below (the nether world), god/happiness, vajra/‘Indra’s weapon’, dead/mortal, kidney (organ of the body used in the Aryan burial ceremony). There are also terms related to ecstatic drinks used by Indo-Iranian priests as well as Finno-Ugric shamans: honey, hemp and fly-agaric” (KUZMINA 2001:290-291).
But decades of desperate efforts have failed to locate a single Finno–Ugric word borrowed into the Indo–Iranian languages of the east.
Except to extremely motivated scholars with a disdain for data and logic, this cannot indicate that the Indo–Iranians of the east came from the west, but only that certain Indo–Iranian groups (now lost to history, like the Mitanni Indo–Aryans) must have migrated westwards into the Finno–Ugric areas from the east in ancient times.
Immigrants always give new words into the local languages. Indian languages have large numbers of words borrowed from Arabic/Persian (during the centuries of Islamic rule in India). The Austric and Sino–Tibetan languages of southeast Asia and northern Asia have large numbers of Sanskrit borrowings, the Konkani dialects of Goa have large numbers of Portuguese borrowings (many, like balde “bucket” and paõ “bread”, have spread to other Indian languages), English (following the Norman invasion of England) has many French borrowings, the Tamil dialect of Pondicherry has many French borrowings, many languages in former British colonies have large numbers of English borrowings.
In every case, the reverse also takes place: the immigrants also borrow local words from the local languages.
But in none of the above cases do we find the immigrants transferring these local words to their homeland (no Indian words transferred back to Arabic and Persian, no Thai or Cambodian or Indonesian words transferred back to Sanskrit, etc., except where colonialists move back to their home areas with words borrowed from the colonies, as in English, and write literature popularizing those words).
So the evidence in fact strongly disproves the idea that the Indo–Iranians came from the west, and shows that the presence of Indo–Iranian words in Finno–Ugric (matched by the absence of Finno–Ugric words in Indo-Iranian) shows a situation of Indo–Iranian migrants to, and not from, the Finno–Ugric areas.
Strangely, as per Parpola’s logic, the Finno–Ugric languages borrowed all these words somewhere near South Russia from the ancestral speakers of Indo–Aryan and Iranian: in short, as far away as in South Russia and as long ago as in remote pre-Vedic times, the putative “Indo-Iranians” already had words like ārya, dāsa, *medhu– (but not *melith-), and even a name for the Bactrian camel!]
c) There were contacts in remote pre-PIE times between proto-Indo-European and proto-Austronesian (the ancestral form of the languages of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the islands of the Pacific). Isidore Dyen (DYEN 1970) showed striking similarities between many words reconstructed in the proto-Indo-European and proto-Austronesian languages, including such basic words as the first four numerals, many of the personal pronouns, and the words for “water” and “land”. Dyen also points out that “the number of comparisons could be increased at least slightly, perhaps even substantially, without a severe loss of quality” (DYEN 1970:439). And these contacts could only have been in India:
S.K. Chatterjee, the well-known linguist, separately notes: “India was the centre from which the Austric speech spread into the lands and islands of the east and Pacific” (CHATTERJI 1951/1996:156), and “the Austric speech […] in its original form (as the ultimate source of both the Austro-Asiatic and Austronesian branches) […] could very well have been characterized within India” (CHATTERJI 1951/1996:150).
5. Of all the extant Indo-European groups, it is the European Dialects for whom we have the clearest archaeological evidence regarding their movement into their historical habitats (i.e. most of Europe). As Winn points out: “A ‘common European horizon’ developed after 3000 BC, at about the time of the Pit Grave expansion (Kurgan Wave #3). Because of the particular style of ceramics produced, it is usually known as the Corded Ware Horizon. [….] The expansion of the Corded Ware cultural variants throughout central, eastern and northern Europe has been construed as the most likely scenario for the origin of PIE (Proto-Indo-European) language and culture. [….] the territory inhabited by the Corded ware/Battle Axe culture, after its expansions, geographically qualifies it to be the ancestor of the Western or European language branches: Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Celtic and Italic” (WINN 1995:343, 349-350).
The origins of the Corded Ware culture has been traced further east, to the Kurgan Culture of the South Russian Steppes, to the north of the Caucasus and south of the Urals. And more recently, the earliest origins of many of the elements of the Kurgan Culture have been traced to Central Asia.
This archaeological evidence “does not [….] explain the presence of Indo-Europeans in Asia, Greece and Anatolia” (WINN 1995:343), but it explains the presence of the European branches, and their expansion through Eastern Europe to the northern and western parts of Europe.
THE LAST BRANCHES:
There is voluminous evidence about the close contacts between the Iranian and Indo-Aryan branches even after their separation from the other ten branches of Indo-European languages.
To explain this, the linguists have postulated a hypothetical separation of a joint “Indo-Iranian” branch from the other branches in the postulated South Russian Homeland itself, and the development of a common “Indo-Iranian” culture in a pre-Rigvedic era in Central Asia (on the way from South Russia to the oldest recorded historical habitats of these two branches).
However, as we have seen, the common cultural data in the Rigveda and the Avesta shows that this common culture developed in the period of the New Books of the Rigveda in the area between Haryana and southern and eastern Afghanistan. The voluminous evidence for this common “Indo-Iranian” history is given in detail in my books (TALAGERI 2000:163-231; 2008:258-277, etc.). The Pūru–Anu (Vedic-Iranian) rivalries or conflicts are preserved in the traditions of the Puranas and the Avesta in the form of the Deva–Asura or Daeva–Ahura conflicts and the Aṅgiras–Bhṛgu/Atharvan (Bṛhaspati-Śukrācārya) or Aṅgra–Āθrauuan rivalries.
Two of the Indo-European expansionary or migratory movements had already taken place in the pre-Rigvedic period itself:
a) The separation of the Early Branches from this Homeland area, and their movement into and settlement in Central Asia from Afghanistan, and
b) the separation of the European Branches from this Homeland area, and their movement into and settlement in Afghanistan.
In the period of the Oldest Books of the Rigveda (6,3,7), the Last Branches were still present within the Rigvedic horizon. It was the dāśarājña battle and the expansionary activities of Sudās (Book 7) that led to the movement of the Last Branches, the Anu, into Afghanistan, triggering the northward movement of the Druhyu tribes (the European Branches) from Afghanistan into Central Asia (and later westwards), and later the expansion and movement of the other Last Branches westwards from Afghanistan:
1. It is generally recognized, on the basis of the late isoglosses developed in the Albanian, Greek, Armenian, Iranian and Indo-Aryan branches, that these were the five branches that remained within the Original Homeland area after the separation of the other seven branches. This area is hypothetically assumed by the proponents of the South Russian Homeland theory to be in South Russia.
However, the data in the Rigveda regarding the dāśarājña battle and the expansionary activities of Sudās (Book 7) shows this area to be in Punjab. As we saw, Sudās, the Vedic (Indo-Aryan/Pūru) king, enters the Punjab area from the east and fights this historical battle against a coalition of ten tribes (nine Anu tribes, and one tribe of the remnant Druhyu in the area), and later these tribes start migrating westwards.
The Anu tribes (or the epithets used for them) named in the battle hymns are:
VII.18.7 Paktha, Bhalāna, Alina, Śiva, Viṣāṇin.
VII.83.1 Parśu/Parśava, Pṛthu/Pārthava, Dāsa.
(Another Anu tribe in the Puranas and later tradition is the Madra).
A few words on some of these names:
a) Dāsa: This is a word which refers to any non-Pūru (i.e. non-“Vedic Aryan”), but particularly to Iranians: it is found in 54 hymns (63 verses) and the overwhelming majority of these references are hostile references. But there are three verses which stand out from the rest: they contain references that are friendly towards the Dāsa:
a. In VIII.5.31, the Aśvin-s are depicted as accepting the offerings of the Dāsa.
b. In VIII.46.32, the patrons are referred to as Dāsa.
c. In VIII.51.9, Indra is described as belonging to both Ārya and Dāsa.
As all these three hymns are dāna-stutis (hymns in praise of donors), it is clear that the friendly references have to do with the identity of the patrons in these hymns. Two of these hymns (VIII.5,46) have camel-gifting patrons (and it is very likely that the third hymn has one too: this dānastuti does not mention the specific gifts received, and merely calls upon Indra to shower wealth on the patron), and the only other hymn with a camel-gifting patron is another dānastuti in the same book: VIII.6.48.
These four hymns (VIII.5,6,46,51) clearly belong to a separate class from the other Rigvedic hymns:
a) Three of them (VIII.5,6,46) refer to patrons who gift camels,
b) Three of them (VIII.5,46,51) speak well of the Dāsa, and
c) Three of them (VIII.5,6,46), all being the hymns with camel-donors, have patrons whose names have been identified as proto-Iranian names: a range of Western Indologists (including Hoffman, Wilson, Weber, Witzel and Gamkrelidze) have identified Kaśu (VIII.5), Tirindira Parśava (VIII.6), and Pṛthuśravas Kānīta (VIII.46) as proto-Iranian names. Ruśama Pavīru, the patron of VIII.51, is not specifically named as Iranian by the scholars. However, the Ruśama-s are identified by M.L. Bhargava (BHARGAVA:1964) as a tribe of the extreme northwest from the Soma lands of Suṣomā and Ārjīkīyā. This clearly places them in the territory of the Iranians.
Now, the word dāsa, though used for non-Pūru and mostly in a hostile sense in the Rigveda (and meaning “slave” in later Sanskrit), is clearly a word with an originally benevolent connotation. It is derived from the root √daṁś– “to shine” (obviously with a positive connotation), is found in the name of Divo-dāsa in a positive sense, and is used to describe the patrons of the hymns in the above references. Clearly, it was a tribal name among the Anu (the Iranians): note that the word “daha” means “man” in the (Iranian) Khotanese language. It was first used by the Bharata Pūru for the Anu in general and later extended to all non-Pūru tribes and people.
b) Śimyu: This word is found only in the Rigveda, and only twice in the Rigveda: once in VII.18.5 in reference to the enemies of Sudās and later once more in I.100.18, in the hymn which describes the Vārṣāgira battle (the “battle beyond the Sarayu”) on the southern borders of Afghanistan, in reference to the enemies of the descendants of Sudās.
c) Madra: The Madra are not referred to in the Rigveda, in the descriptions of the battle between Sudās and the Anu tribes, but they were one of the most prominent Anu tribes of the area even in much later post-Rigvedic times.
d) Viṣāṇin: This may seem the only weak link in the identifications of the Anu (Iranian) tribes. However, it seems to complete the picture if they are identified with the Piśācin or Piśāca (the Nuristanis): note the interchangeability between “p” and “v” in “Paṇi” and “vaṇi”, and the change of “Bhalāna” (Bolan) to “Baluch”.
These tribal names are primarily found only in two hymns, VII.18 and VII.83, of the Rigveda, which refer to the Anu tribes who fought against Sudās in the dāśarājña battle or “the Battle of the Ten Kings”. But see where these same tribal names are found in later historical times (after their exodus westwards referred to in VII.5.3 and VII.6.3). Incredibly, they are found dotted over an almost continuous geographical belt, the entire sweep of areas extending westwards from the Punjab (the battleground of the dāśarājña battle) right up to southern and eastern Europe:
Afghanistan: (Avestan) Proto-Iranian: Sairima (Śimyu), Dahi (Dāsa).
NE Afghanistan: Proto-Iranian: Nuristani/Piśācin (Viṣāṇin).
Pakhtoonistan (NW Pakistan), South Afghanistan: Iranian: Pakhtoon/Pashtu (Paktha).
Baluchistan (SW Pakistan), SE Iran: Iranian: Bolan/Baluchi (Bhalāna).
NE Iran: Iranian: Parthian/Parthava (Pṛthu/Pārthava).
SW Iran: Iranian: Parsua/Persian (Parśu/Parśava).
NW Iran: Iranian: Madai/Mede (Madra).
Uzbekistan: Iranian: Khiva/Khwarezmian (Śiva).
W. Turkmenistan: Iranian: Dahae (Dāsa).
Ukraine, S, Russia: Iranian: Alan (Alina), Sarmatian (Śimyu).
Turkey: Thraco-Phrygian/Armenian: Phryge/Phrygian (Bhṛgu).
Romania, Bulgaria: Thraco-Phrygian/Armenian: Dacian (Dāsa).
Greece: Greek: Hellene (Alina).
Albania: Albanian: Sirmio (Śimyu).
The above named Iranian tribes include the ancestors of almost all other prominent historical and modern Iranian groups such as the Scythians (Sakas), Ossetes and Kurds, and even the presently Slavic-language speaking (but formerly Iranian-language speaking) Serbs, Croats and others.
We also see here an important historical phenomenon: the tribal group that migrates furthest retains its linguistic identity, while those of that tribe who remain behind or settle on the way get absorbed into the surrounding linguistic group:
a) The Śimyu who migrated furthest retained their Albanian identity and language (Sirmio), while those among them who settled down on the way got linguistically absorbed into the Iranians (Avestan Sairima, later Sarmatians).
b) The Alina who migrated furthest retained their Greek name and language (Ellene/Hellene), while those among them who settled down on the way got linguistically absorbed into the Iranians (Alan).
c) The Bhṛgu who migrated furthest retained their Thraco-Phrygian/Armenian name and language (Phryge/Phrygian), while those among them who settled down on the way got linguistically absorbed into the Iranians (their priestly class the Āθrauuan), and those who remained behind got linguistically absorbed into the Indo-Aryans (as the priestly class of Bhṛgu). [The Armenians, in the Caucasus area, lost the name, but retained their language much influenced by Iranian].
d) The Madra who migrated furthest retained their Iranian name and dialect (Mada/Mede/Median), while those who remained behind got linguistically absorbed into the Indo-Aryans (Madra) while retaining their tribal identity as Anu.
a) The name of the king of the ten-tribe alliance against Sudās is Kavi Cāyamāna (VII.18.8) (a descendant of Abhyāvartin Cāyamāna of VI.27.5,8, who is called a Pārthava in VI.27.8) and their old priest is Kavaṣa (VII.18.12). Both these names are Iranian names found in the Avesta: Kauui, Kaoša. Kavi Cāyamāna was undoubtedly the first king of the Kauuiiān dynasty so prominent in the Avesta: in later times it was the Parthian kings who claimed to be descendants of this dynasty.
b) Earlier, the southward march of the Anu into the Punjab had commenced with Uśīnara: “One branch, headed by Uśīnara, established several kingdoms on the eastern border of the Punjab“, and later, by the time of the Oldest Books of the Rigveda (6,3,7) his son Śivi Auśīnara had extended the Anu “conquests westwards […] occupying the whole of the Punjab except the northwestern corner” (PARGITER 1962:264). Aošnara is an Iranian name found in the Avesta.
c) Even earlier, there were the original Anu of the North (Kashmir and areas to its west) from whom this “one branch” had migrated southwards into the Punjab. Significantly, this northern area even today is the Home of the Nuristani languages that exhibit many pre-Iranian features (the proto-Iranian dental affricates ć (ts), ź (dz), ź (dz), etc.).
The Anu identity of at least the Iranians continues till much later times: in later historical times, the name Anu is prominently found at both the southern and northern ends of the area described in the Avesta:
a) Greek texts (e.g. Stathmoi Parthikoi, 16, of Isidore of Charax) refer to the area and the people immediately north of the Hāmūn-ī Hilmand in southern Afghanistan as the anauon or anauoi, and
b) Anau is the name of a prominent proto-Iranian or Iranian archaeological site in Central Asia (Turkmenistan).
It is clear that the speakers of the proto-forms of the four Last Branches (Albanian, Greek, Armenian and Iranian), were in the Punjab at the time of the dāśarājña battle or “the Battle of the Ten Kings” in the period of the Oldest Books (6,3,7) which, as we saw, go back in time to 3000 BCE at least, and only started migrated westwards after that.
2. While there are no records for the prehistory of the Albanian and Armenian branches before they entered their historical habitats, most linguists postulate a close linguistic relationship between the Greek, Albanian and Armenian branches. Some evidence for the movement of the Greek language through West Asia may be found recorded by Gamkrelidze, in a section entitled “The Greek migration to mainland Greece from the east. Greek-Kartvelian lexical ties and the myth of the Argonauts” (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:799-804), even though only as part of his theory that the Indo-European homeland lay in Anatolia: “The numerous lexical resemblances between Greek and Kartvelian, found precisely among the ‘pre-Greek’ words of non-Indo-European origin, are to be interpreted as showing that a number of Kartvelian words were borrowed by Greek… somewhere in the Near East during the Greek migrations from the proto-homeland westward to historical Greek territory… some… prehistoric borrowings from Greek into Kartvelian… show that the Greek-Kartvelian borrowings went in both directions” (GAMKRELIDZE 1995:801-802).
There is, of course, plenty of recorded evidence for the Iranian movement from the east:
The earliest references to Iranians in Iran do not occur till after the beginning of the first millennium BCE:
“We find no evidence of the future ‘Iranians’ previous to the ninth century BC. The first allusion to the Parsua or Persians, then localized in the mountains of Kurdistan, and to the Madai or Medes, already established on the plain, occurs in 837 BC in connection with the expedition of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. About a hundred years afterwards, the Medes invaded the plateau which we call Persia (or Iran) driving back or assimilating populations of whom there is no written record” (LAROUSSE 1959:321).
“By the mid-ninth century BC, two major groups of Iranians appear in cuneiform sources: the Medes and the Persians. [….] What is reasonably clear from the cuneiform sources is that the Medes and Persians (and no doubt other Iranian peoples not identified by name) were moving into western Iran from the east” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1974, Vol.9, 832).
“‘Persians’ are first mentioned in the 9th century BC Assyrian annals: on one campaign, in 835 BC, Shalmaneser (858-824) is said to have received tributes from 27 kings of Paršuwaš; the Medes are mentioned under Tiglath-Pileser III (744-727 BC) [….] There are no literary sources for Iranians in Central Asia before the Old Persian inscriptions (Darius’s Bisotun inscription, 521-519 BC, ed. Schmitt). These show that by the mid-1st millennium BC, tribes called Sakas by the Persians and Scythians by the Greeks were spread throughout Central Asia, from the westernmost edges (north and northwest of the Black Sea) to its easternmost borders” (SKJÆRVØ 1995:156).
Therefore, it is clear that the location of the Indo-European Homeland in northern India, and the migrations of the different branches from this Homeland are a matter of actual recorded history.
THE LAST BRANCH IN THE HOMELAND:
The last and only branch (of the three northern Aiḷa branches, or the twelve Indo-European branches) to remain in the Homeland was Indo-Aryan: the language of the “Vedic Aryans” or the Pūru. Before examining (in section V) the position of this Vedic culture vis-à-vis the other eastern tribes, we should first understand its position vis-à-vis the western tribes (the Anu and Druhyu) who were the speakers of the proto-forms of the other eleven branches that migrated out of India.
As per the Aryan-Invader perspective, there are three phases in the Vedic “Indo-Aryan” heritage:
a) The Indo-European heritage shared with the other eleven branches in the PIE Homeland in South Russia.
b) The Indo-Iranian heritage shared with the Iranian branch in Central Asia after the separation of the Indo-Aryan and Iranian branches from the other ten branches and migration eastwards.
c) The Indo-Aryan heritage, developed all by itself after separating from Iranian and entering India.
As per the Out-of-India or Indian Homeland perspective based on the recorded history of the Indo-European migrations, also, there are these same three stages:
a) The Indo-European heritage shared by all the twelve branches in their joint Homeland in northern-northwestern India.
b) The Indo-Iranian heritage shared by the Indo-Aryan and Iranian branches after the departure of the other ten branches.
c) The Indo-Aryan heritage, developed all by itself after the separation and emigration of the Iranians.
If the Aryan-Invader perspective was correct, the Vedic culture portrayed in the Rigveda would be a very diluted form of the original PIE culture in the Homeland. As we saw, the Vedic language is not the ancestor of the other branches, it is just one of twelve branches of Indo-European languages. After the distance travelled all the way from South Russia over long centuries, very few traces of the ancestral PIE language and culture should have remained in the culture depicted in a text (the Rigveda) composed in northern India in which there is not the faintest trace of extra-territorial memories.
However, the picture presented by the Vedic language and culture shows it to be so close to the PIE language and culture that it seems to be literally hot out of the PIE oven: as Griffith puts it in the preface to the first edition of his translation of the Rigveda: “The great interest of the Ṛgveda is, in fact, historical rather than poetical. As in its original language we see the roots and shoots of the languages of Greek and Latin, of Kelt, Teuton and Slavonian, so the deities, the myths, and the religious beliefs and practices of the Veda throw a flood of light upon the religions of all European countries before the introduction of Christianity.”:
1. The mythology of the Rigveda represents the most primitive form of Indo-European mythology: as Macdonell puts it, for example, the Vedic gods “are nearer to the physical phenomena which they represent, than the gods of any other Indo-European mythology” (MACDONELL 1963:15). In fact, in the majority of cases, the original nature myths, in which the mythological entities and the mythological events are rooted, can be identified or traced only through the form in which the myths are represented in the Rigveda.
All the other Indo-European mythologies, individually, have numerous mythological elements in common with Vedic mythology, but very few with each other; and even these few (except those borrowed from each other by neighboring languages in ancient but historical times, such as the Greek god Apollo, borrowed by the Romans) are ones which are also found in Vedic mythology (see TALAGERI 1993:377-395).
The following, for example, is an almost exhaustive list (I have not used phonetic spellings for the non-Vedic names) of common Indo-European deities found in the mythologies of more than one branch. Note that every single one of these deities is found in the Rigveda:
Dyaus Pitar (Vedic), Zeus Pater (Greek), Jupiter (Roman), Dei Patrous (Illyrian), Dievs (Baltic).
Uṣas (Vedic), Eos (Greek), Aurora (Roman), Aushrine (Baltic).
Varuṇa (Vedic), Odinn/Wodan (Germanic), Ouranous (Greek), Velinas (Baltic).
Asura (Vedic), Aesir (Germanic), Ahura (Avestan).
Marut (Vedic), Ares (Greek), Mars (Roman).
Parjanya (Vedic), Perkunas (Baltic), Perunu (Slavic), Fjorgyn (Germanic).
Traitana (Vedic), Thraetaona (Avestan), Triton (Greek).
Aryaman (Vedic), Airyaman (Avestan), Ariomanus/Eremon (Celtic).
Saramā/Sārameya (Vedic), Hermes (Greek).
Pūṣan, Paṇi (Vedic), Pan (Greek), Vanir (Germanic).
Rudra (Vedic), Ruglu (Slavic).
Danu (Vedic), Danu (Irish).
Indra (Vedic), Indra (Avestan), Inara (Hittite).
Śarvara (Vedic), Kerberos (Greek).
Śrī (Vedic), Ceres (Greek), Freyr/Freya (Germanic).
Bhaga (Vedic), Baga (Avestan), Bog (Slavic).
Apām Napāt (Vedic), Apām Napāt (Avestan), Neptunus (Roman), Nechtain (Celtic).
Ṛbhu (Vedic), Elbe (Germanic = English Elf).
Yama (Vedic), Yima (Avestan), Ymir (Germanic).
The tally (out of 19): Vedic (19), Greek (9), Avestan (7), Germanic (7), Roman (4), Baltic (4) Slavic (3), Celtic (2), Hittites (1), Albanian (1). And in all the deities which are shared by the Avesta, it is clear that the connection is to and through the Rigvedic deity. Further, the Avesta represents a highly evolved, highly anthropomorphized and highly transformed state of religion and mythology, which shows very few connections with the natural phenomena that they represent, except through analogical comparison with the Rigveda.
Not only are Vedic deities the only ones to have clear cognates in all the other branches, but in many cases, it is almost impossible to recognize the connections between related mythological entities and events in two separate Indo-European mythologies without a comparison of the two with the related Vedic versions. Thus, for example, the Teutonic (Germanic) Vanir are connected with the Greek Hermes and Pan, but it is impossible to connect the two except through the Vedic Saramā and Paṇi (see TALAGERI 2000:477-495 for details). The Avestan mythology stands aloof from all other Indo-European mythologies and is connected only to Vedic mythology.
2. Linguistically, the Vedic language is the only language that still retains the verbal roots of the most common cognate words in the different Indo-European languages. This point, first noted by Nicholas Kazanas, has been dealt with in more detail by Koenraad Elst, who points out that the roots of many of the most basic and commonest cognate words (for example, the words for father, son, daughter, bear, wolf, etc.) are still active and productive roots in the Vedic/Sanskrit language with many other words being created from the same verbal roots, while only these isolated cognate words are present in the other branches with no clear clues as to their etymologies.
Further, an examination of the Rigveda shows that all three stages (the Indo-European stage, the Indo-Iranian stage and the Indo-Aryan stage) are present within the history of the text. All three of these stages are geographically located within India, and in fact, the three Oldest Books of the Rigveda (6, 3, 7, in that order) are geographically restricted to the areas in Haryana and further east (i.e. in the region to the east of the Sarasvati), and it is only during the course of composition of the Rigveda that the geography of the text expands northwestwards. This can be illustrated with the history of just one word “night“:
a) The common Indo-European word throughout the Rigveda is nakt-. It is common to almost all the other branches: Greek nox (modern Greek nychta), Latin noctis (French nuit, Spanish noche), Hittite nekuz, Tocharian nekciye, German nacht, Irish anocht, Russian noc’, Lithuanian naktis, Albanian natë, etc.
b) A less common Indo-Iranian word throughout the Rigveda is kṣap. It is found in the Avesta (where the word related to nakt– is completely missing except in a phrase upa-naxturusu, “bordering on the night”) as xšap: modern Persian shab (as used in Urdu, and in the phrase shab-nam “night-moisture= dew”).
c) The common Indo-Aryan Sanskrit word which appears for the first time and only a few times in the latest parts of the Rigveda, is rātri, which completely replaces the earlier words in post-Rigvedic Sanskrit and is the common or normal word in all modern Indo-Aryan languages as well as in all other languages that have borrowed the word from Sanskrit, but is totally missing in the IE languages outside India (which had already departed before the birth of this word).
The words uda-, āpah and pānīya for “water” is another such example.
The Rigvedic language shows the “roots and shoots” of all the other Indo-European languages, and the “deities, the myths, and the religious beliefs and practices of the Veda throw a flood of light upon the religions of all European countries before the introduction of Christianity“, precisely because northern India was the Original Homeland of all the twelve branches, and the Rigveda, though representing the language and religion of only one branch (the Indo-Aryan branch, or the Pūru).
a) It continued to remain in the Original Homeland long after all the other branches had undergone long migrations to their historical habitats, and
b) had maintained a continuous tradition and records of the original common language and mythology in the form of the traditional history in the Puranas and the meticulously preserved hymns of the Rigveda.
Featured Image: Swarajya
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Shrikant Talageri is a scholar and acclaimed author of The Rigveda: A Historical Analysis, the seminal work on the Aryan Invasion debate. His latest work is “Rigveda And Avesta The Final Evidence.”