Criticism Invited on second draft

Feb 2013
I have made a long blog post, too long to upload here - will try again.


This is expanding on last years first draft and incorporates a lot of the criticism of Jinit, Tornada, Vajra, Ajanbahu and others.

Would welcome critical comments.

I will be subsequently uploading a write up on astronomical dating using Lagadha and analysis of 10th chapter of Rig Veda which I have omitted from current draft.

I apologise for poor formatting - a lot of the format on my word document got lost in the blog post - the system is not accepting such long posts easily.
Feb 2013
Speculations on Ancient Indian History

Smallbox, Lathi, Caste, Arya, Dasyu, bandicoots and other strange possibilities

I have decided to pen down my thoughts on Indian History. The purpose is not to write what is already well known but to write a speculative account touching upon what is not well known or what is unknown, which have always intrigued me. These speculations were amateurish in the days before internet but now it is possible to get fairly accurate searches to prove or disprove these thoughts. Despite being speculative, my main purpose is to write without contradicting what is well known and widely accepted. The purpose is more to fill in the blanks where evidence is sparse, trying to use common sense, probability and application of human nature to derive the most likely scenario. Since I am not a historian, the purpose of these essays is not academic but to serve as food for thought.

Just to make it clear from the outset, let me set down the assumptions which are based on well accepted historical opinion. I believe that there was only one civilization i.e Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) in India from 7500 BC to 1800 BC. Please note that for clarity I shall be using approximate and rounded off dates throughout my write ups for the sake of focussing on the big picture. Other cultures in India in this time period based on current evidence are all Neolithic or at best chalcolithic tribal populations. Such tribal Neolithic cultures should not be confused with civilizations, as commonly done by many. So Mehargarh was a site where historians suspect that neolothic people around 6000 BC independently discovered how to do agriculture. But that does not mean that Mehargarh is an 8000 year old city – certainly not. Neolithic settlements are small villages which over a period of millennia may or may not evolve into larger towns and cities. Only IVC fits the description of a civilization, not the earlier settlements of Pakistan or the settlements of Poorvanchal and Deccan dated from 7500 BC to 1800 BC. Decline of the IVC was mainly due to change in the river systems around 1800 BC. The period from 1800 to 1200 BC is a different subject to be considered later.

Migrations in Paleolithic times:

There seems to have been two main migrations into India. The South Indian and subsequent movement into Indonesia till Australia and a second movement into North India. Both movements occurred approximately 60,000 to 40,000 years ago and many paleolithic sites found all over the Indian subcontinent indicate small number of paleolithic tribals throughout this period. There were movements of paleolithic people both into and out of India over this vast period. India during the ice age i.e. prior to 10,000 BC would have been one of the better climates for hunter gatherers. Although large massed animal herds which would have been easy to stampede and hunt by driving over cliffs would have been fewer in India than elsewhere, generally the climate was gentler than elsewhere. Migrations into and out of India during this period have greatly complicated analysing the genetic linkage of people in Central Asia and the middle east and essentially make genetic analysis of historical time periods impossible.

Neolithic agricultural development:

There seem to have been many paleolithic and mesolithic people in India but neolithic agricultural cultures seem to have started in 3 sites, two of them independently. The most important is Mehrgarh in 7500 BC which shows a continuous sequence from start of agriculture to the development of the Indus valley civilization from 7500 BC to 1800 BC. Barley and wheat were the main crops cultivated by these people. The second site for independent development was the Belan and Son valleys of Poorvanchal or Eastern UP in 6000 to 5000 BC, well developed by 2500 BC. But this site stayed neolithic and chalcolithic till 1000 BC. They show cultivation of wild rice initially, followed by a switch to domesticated rice between 2500 to 1800 BC. But the sites remain small and show no further development or Bronze age civilization. Instead settlements in these sites shifted directly to iron age (without Bronze age civilization) between 1500 and 1000 BC. South Deccan in 2500 BC shows Neolithic cultivation but is likely to be post contact with the Harappan and post Harappan cultures – hence they may not show a direct start of agriculture de-novo but by imbibation from other more advanced i.e. harappan cultures. This region also shifted directly into an Iron age megalithic culture between 1200 and 1000 BC without intervening Bronze Age culture.
So clearly IVC was the only real Bronze age civilization and the rest can be ignored till 1800 BC, which was the time of decline of the IVC. It is the post 1800 BC developments which are more interesting to decipher in view of little being written on the subject and hence I wont go into details of the more primitive cultures elsewhere prior to 1800 BC – and prefer to cover them later in one go when taking up the 1800 to 1200 BC segment. Having said that, since there is great interest in the development of religion and physical looks of people, it is interesting to look into the genetics of these populations in about 6000 BC.

Physical appearance and skin colour:

Genetic studies use haplogroup typing of the Y chromosome which is passed on from father to son and similar haplogroups in mitochondrial DNA which is passed on from mother to both sons and daughters, but the sons do not pass it on. Differences in some segments of Y chromosome and mitochondrian DNA have arisen over 100,000 years of Homo sapien evolution. But most of these occur over many thousands of years and genetic studies are less useful in evaluating migrations in historical era. They are more useful when comparing populations separated over large distances – like comparing a Tamilian with an Englishman. It tells how long ago the Tamilian and the Englishman had a common ancestor – usually in paleolithic times. They are less useful in closely situated groups – like Punjabis from India and Pakistan, since the markers are largely similar. If a marker is the same between a Punjabi and an Iranian, it is impossible to state whether the similarity reflects a migration in paleolithic times or neolithic times or in historical times or even a few generations ago. Most markers became distinct from 10,000 years to 50,000 years ago and hence one cannot use it well in historical period. Since we are looking at averages in modern population i.e. average prevalence of say 10 markers in one country and another, these studies cannot be useful to study migrations and certainly not by lay people. Studies on archaic DNA is severely affected by DNA degradation. Some well preserved DNA from men burried in peat bogs or other similar events have delivered usable DNA for European population studies. Such finds have not occurred in India and hence DNA studies provide little usable information. Recently some bones from Harappan times have yielded archaic DNA but in all likelihood it will be too degraded for proper studies. Analysis from common sense is more likely to be useful and is attempted below.

The majority of the subcontinental population seems to have developed by means of population expansion after developing agriculture. Hence three probable groups of physiognomy are likely. The simplest answer to the question of race is that in 6000 BC, South Indians are likely to have looked the same, the people of UP and Bihar are likely to have looked the same and the people of North West India are also likely to have also looked largely similar to the currently existing modern counterparts. Limited figurines of IVC available also indicate that there is an essential similarity in most people of Sub continental origin which is supported by the largely similar mitochondrial and Y chromosomal DNA evidence. The most likely scenario is as below.
All populations from South Asia are likely to have had a dark skin due to the better tolerance of sunlight with darker skin and the protection provided by dark skin against skin cancer. It is currenty believed that all humans originally evolved with dark skin colour and then lightened. The South Indians developed from a similar pool of people as the Andaman Islanders, Australian aborigines and had coarse features and very dark skin. North Indians of both Pakistan and eastern group from UP/Bihar developed from people more closely related to each other than they were to South Indians. However, the people from UP and Bihar had a darker skin, coarser features and shorter stature than those from Pakistan and North West India. The latter are likely to have been taller, with finer features but still significantly coarser than comparable Semitic, Iranian and other European types. Skin colour is likely to have been what is termed “wheatish” in India with many lighter and darker shades. In other words, it is likely that the IVC people had a physical appearance quite close to the current North West Indian Population. A difference between Bihar and IVC is also likely. Currently the genetic evidence shows expansion after mixing. But historically, the Bihar people might have been developing in isolation for millennia without contact with IVC.

Since Indus valley had the first and dramatic population expansion, there would have been a wider variety and larger number of people with clusters of physical characteristics from this region, explaining the more diverse number of skin tones and features. The North West Indian plains are subject to very harsh sunlight and summers despite cooler winters. From this basic pool, the further development of the physical characteristics would have been subject to the natural progression within civilizations with very large populations. Since the initial expansion was of the IVC, these physical features developing due to civilizational selection pressures would have seen dramatic expansion as the population of the IVC expanded with agriculture

Reasons for caste and colour differences:

Sexual selection plays an important role in big populations. Black skin colour evolves in tropics to protect against sun damage and skin cancer while Vitamin D deficiency in northern climates causes evolution of white skin colour. Despite this biological need, preference for lighter skin colour is universal within human civilization, except within extremely isolated tribal populations who are unexposed to other racial types. Blacks prefer mullattos with lighter skin. Whites prefer blondes with lighter hair and the blonde hair is theorised to have evolved by sexual selection of neolithic hunter gatherers of Eurasia in preference over the initial darker hair as recently as 10 to 15000 years ago by some estimates. Chinese prefer white skin and prevent sun exposure to maintain lighter skin. Europeans in 19th century did the same with tanned skin indicating a labourer and not preferred by the higher classes. So the ”Indian” preference for lighter skin is in fact a universal phenomenon.

The majority of the reason for preference for lighter skin colour is due to sexual selection by males. In addition, the minor reason is that workers and lower classes working in the sun have darker skin while the rich without need to work in the sun have lighter skin and hence lighter skin tones are a morphological marker of higher station in life. Richer people get married to women with lighter skin and this gets carried on in their offspring and thus over a period of time, the rich get lighter and lighter skin while the poor have darker skin within the Gaussian distribution of skin tones.

Colour differences in India in 2500 BC:

These universal principles of colour preference are most likely to have been active within the IVC. It would have ensured a much higher representation of people with lighter skin colour among the rich and powerful, as has been seen in every population in the world from time immemorial. Hence the physical apprearance of the IVC people is likely to have been largely similar to the current existing look of North Indians. In brief we can summarise the situation between 2500 BC and 1800 for the IVC would be that rich upper castes have lighter skin and finer features but with a wide range of colour and features. Lower castes would have darker skin and coarser features again ranging widely. Total population of 2 to 5 million people with about 5% = 100,000 being upper caste would provide a large enough pool of population for such selection pressures to apply.
In Eastern UP and Bihar, almost entire tribal population would have dark skin and coarser features. These could be genetically derived from a similar population as IVC or from later co-expansion after mixing, as shown by the essential similarity of most genetic markers between all the people of North India – this clearly indicates that the population at some point mixed and expanded together, only question is when.

One possibility is that these eastern ganges people were derived from the same genetic pool of paleolithic hunter gatherers prior to 10,000 BC. They had no contact with the IVC and on their own evolved into Neolithic agriculturists from 6000 BC onwards, far removed from IVC and cultivating rice instead of wheat and barley. Total population of the area, which covers Poorvanchal and Eastern Bihar would at most be 30-50,000 people, based on the sizes of settlements found and the thin layers found on excavations and lack of urbalisation to any level similar to Mehargarh. Essentially they were living in isolated uncivilized tribal villages, practicing shifting agriculture. The heavy monsoon would have ensured lack of any permanent residences in this location. The lack of urbanisation shows that unlike IVC which was also subjected to heavy monsoon, the people of Poorvanchal never cleared the forest in a large way and their population never increased despite living in a very fertile valley, similar to IVC. Total population could have been as few as 10,000 people over part of this time period. Annual inundation due to monsoon and harsh forest land or perhaps diseases as discussed later seem to have triumphed over these people and thus urbanization and formation of larger civilizations did not take place despite the development of agriculture. There is no evidence of large scale urban development prior to 800 BC in this region and thus in 1800 BC only a few small villages would have existed. There is no chance for social stratification or evolution of skin colour with such small population density.

The second possibility is that the IVC and the tribals of Ganges were derived from distinctly separate populations, but in the historical period around 1200 to 800 BC these populations mixed and subsequently showed a dramatic expansion. In this possibility we need to add a third mix i.e. that in addition to people derived from the IVC, the Aryan immigrants also mixed prior to the expansion, causing a single genetic pool to be present for the entire north Indian population.

In South India, darker skin tones and coarser features would be again present – but dissimilar to the people of UP/Bihar, being genetically also more different and derived from an older separation from the north some 40 to 50,000 years ago. Some 20,000-30,000 people in the area is likely but unlike Poorvanchal, they would have lived in even more isolated and widely spread tribal cultures with again no chance for social stratification or evolution of skin colour due to absence of civilization and large enough population among the tribals.

Aryan Invasion is not needed for skin colour evolution:

The above analysis suggests that the input of more western populations for derivation of skin colour and physical appearance of Indians is unnecessary. This is in good keeping with the DNA evidence which suggests a predominantly Indian derivation for all of the populations with limited European genes in the gene pool. The need for locating European genes for lighter skin tone in higher castes is also eliminated if we propose an endogenous evolution of skin colour directly related to caste development in IVC with major population expansion. While population migrations from Iranic and European peoples did take place and throwbacks to these European and other origins will keep rearing up, the need for postulating a big admixture of Iranian or European genes for derivation of lighter skin colour in North Western Indians is not necessary. Endogenous evolution from 7000 BC to 1800 BC is sufficient for explaining the bulk of the north Indian appearance.

A good amount of transfer of these physiotypes from IVC to the rest on India both to the UP Bihar area as well as to South India is again Indicated both by the presence of the intervening physical types as well as the genetic evidence. The most likely explanation is the eastward migration of the IVC people to the Ganges belt from 1800 BC to 500 BC as well as their spread to South India from 500 BC to 100BC. However, both of these migrations are post Harappan and hence a subject of later discussion. But in brief, the higher castes of the IVC in the post IVC remnants are likely to have interbred with the Aryan invaders and moved east. Movement both east and south is sufficient explanation for caste based differences in skin colour and physical appearance. If these possibilities are true, there may be no caste based difference discernible at all, since the people interbred first and then their population expanded. It is quite possible that the mixing of genes has been so thorough that no genetic linkage is at all possible between various caste groups. A fairly high probability exists for this i.e. most populations regardless of caste will more closely resemble other nearby populations rather than more distant populations whether within or outside India. The most likely scenario is that there is a continuous gradation of the genetic types and that there is no significant difference. People living in the Southern extreme of India from lower castes would have DNA most different from the DNA of upper caste derived Punjabi. Despite that, there would be greater similarity between both these groups than the difference between the upper caste Punjabi person and a European. Studies have found just that. The essential sameness of the entire South Asian population based on underlying DNA analysis is well demonstrated already. Because of thorough mixing, the entire population is much more homogenous than prejudice and desire to identify with European populations (perceived as superior by colour conscious Indians) would lead us to believe. The most likely scenario is therefore that the influx of European genes into the Indian population is insignificant. Differences of colour and look between North West, UP Bihar and South India are explainable by endogenous reasons and not from European influx.

The reason for dilution of European origin DNA is also clear. From the IVC times, the population of India has always been large. Influx of small bands of Persians, Greeks, Scythians, Parthians, Kushans, Huns, Afghans, Uzbeks and Europeans have always been in small numbers in comparison to the local population. So in each invasion from the sparsely populated Central Asian tribesmen listed above, the influx would have been numbering at best 30,000 or so individuals, mainly warriors. Babur for example invaded with 12000 tribesmen. India’s population at the time of first recorded invasion by the Greeks, who invaded with a small force of 15000 men in 300 BC, was about 30 to 60 million people by a lower and higher estimate. Although many of the invaders like the Kushans, Scythians and Parthians were invasions by the entire tribe and they settled in India and would have increased their population locally, it would still be a drop in the ocean of the 30 to 60 million people who almost continuously inhabited India in the post Mauryan period. The average population of India from Mauryan times was 30 million at an ebb after a severe famine and war disruptions, 40 million on average in times of peace and periodic increases to 50-70 million during well ruled empires like the Mauryan empire, Gupta empire or Pala empire. Only during Mughal rule did the population definitively increase to new heights post 1500 AD, reaching 175 million at its peak even by lower estimates. So with any invasion an almost immediate dilution to 50% in the next generation was usual, since taking local wives is a universal phenomenon and within a few generations the local DNA would predominate. Each invasion occurred with gaps of few hundred years. So influx was never significant compared to local population. Only the rulers changed. Population remained the same. Thus the only invasion which could have contributed significant genes to Indian gene pool is the Aryan invasion – which happened at an unknown time by an unknown number of people and when the population of local people is unknown. That is a subject for later discussion.

Indus Valley Civilization: Warfare, Politics, Rulers, Religion and Philosophy

I am setting down below a basic timeline for development of IVC in broad ranges. The purpose is not historical accuracy but broad ball park figures getting only the order of magnitude right.

10,000 BC End of ice age.
10,000 to 7500 BC Mesolithic period with domestication of Zebu, Goat and Sheep. Sind was having ideal climate for cattle.
7500 BC The development of agriculture started in Sind because climate moved from dry to medium wet. The cultivation of wheat and barley
7000 BC Zebu was the most important domesticated cattle. Cat and dog domesticated. Oilseed cultivation.
5500 BC. Hand made pottery. Cotton cultivation started.
4000 BC. Pottery wheel. Domestication of camel. New variety of wheat. Neolithic chalcolithic culture has spread throughout Sind. Regionalisation of the culture started and many sites developed unique features. In Baluchistan a more stone brick construction seen in the hills with a stone and pottery foundation and brick construction. A pastoral or oasis culture, mostly abandoned by 2700 BC. It indicates a less developed hinterland.
3500 BC. Early Indus Culture. Pottery decorated with multiple colours. Mother goddess worship starts.
2800 BC start of copper metal usage. Smelting in Baluchistan Oman Afghanistan and Rajasthan are possible. But probably they imported metal ingots from Oman (i.e. the coast of the Persian Gulf). Some Rajasthan and most Gujarat sites were using Rajasthan copper but smelting sites are yet to be found. Tin was smelted from Afghanistan. Silver, lead and gold was probably imported. Kolar gold fields unlikely to be used.
2500 BC Mature harappan period. Likely to coincide with an empire which ruled IVC
1800 BC End of Harappan period. End of empire.


The rivers of the IVC period were different from the current disposition. The Gaggar Hakra received the majority of the Sutlej water and at some times also the waters of Yamuna via the Drishadvati channel and hence was a big river. It flowed through what is now the Thar desert to open on the Rann of Kutch separately from the Indus. The remaining rivers of the Punjab and the Indus had a similar disposition to today. Hence the Punjab and Sind region was a fertile and well watered as well as a forested plain. The Thar desert did not exist but instead was a fertile plain and the heart of the IVC.

IVC developed by trade – a coming together of villagers along the trade routes both by road and by river. The development of these routes has been elegantly traced by Kenoyer and his team. Most of the preharappan sites in Sind, Gujarat and Punjab have a similarity of the cities and the mother goddess as well as the earlier canal and dyke works. But each location had unique local features. Rajasthan sites might have had more differences than usual within the IVC and Kalibangan in preharappan times also had no mother goddess. The most likely scenario is trading by Indus and Gaggar Hakra river boats between the villages which slowly developed into small towns. They also spread the pre-Harappan culture fairly widely leading to an overall uniformity prior to 2600 BC.


The post 2600 period shows a much higher level of uniformity and suggests a big empire ruled by an elite who imposed their uniform rules. So the pre-Harappan villages and cities with many special local features were melded together into a uniform empire around 2600 to 2500 BC and lasted for 6 to 700 years of continuity before disintegrating by 1800 BC. The start of warfare in the world is earliest recorded in Mesopotamia by 3200 BC before which there was no organised warfare. However larger and more systematic warfare started only by 2600 BC in Mesopotamia and it is reasonable to assume that a similar development in parallel occurred in IVC as well at around the same time. The absence of bronze weapons in large numbers suggests that the melding of the empire happened before the large scale import of metal ingots started – so there was insufficient metal to use in weaponry. The ingots which would have been needed for weapons was mainly acquired by trade after IVC became one large empire and increased its trade links. Everything sits well with the early date of 2600 BC being the start of the empire. But the absence of arrowheads in numbers comparable to other civilizations is puzzling.

Sothi culture of Rajasthan is a good indication about proto harappan towns changing into a Harappan town. Black on red and purple pottery was found in the preharapppan layers which ended with probable earthquake in 2600 BC. Then in 2500BC a Citadel with northern gate for gentry with 2 bastions was built along the usual well known IVC citadel lines seen in all Harappan cities. Possible fire alter on mud brick platform with burnt pits, posts for animal sacrifice (since bones were found) again indicate regionalization or absorption of earlier protoharappan cultures. Camel bones, cylinder seal with 2 spear men threatening a female, measuring rod etc indicate the adoption of the uniform IVC empire culture and similarity to comparable Mesopotamian sites.

Rakhigarhi in Hissar is located on the Drishadvati channel and Western flow of Yamuna is likely to have been there during IVC – otherwise the location of this city makes no sense. It is a very large city like Mohenjodaro and indicates a major riverine site. Citadel, granary with barley and cotton cloth also indicates the similarity with Pakistani sites along the Indus. Same pottery as Kalibangan (Hakra ware) indicate localisation and persistence from preharappan features being absorbed into the empire. Banawali also had same features including citadel but Mother Goddess was found with Hakra ware. Ganeriwala in Punjab though not excavated is a huge site where Yogic posture seal was found. All of these as well as the protoharappan sites of Sind changing into the IVC exemplified by Mohenjodaro and Harappa imply that a uniform empire took over the administration, introducing a uniform system of weights, citadels and city construction.

The alternate hypothesis of slow accretion and communication is not suggested by the sudden appearance of a new system of order. The presence of uniform citadels all built around the same period also suggest that an empire took control suddenly and imposed the order – and the citadels could have been for defence as well as for protection from floods. The persistence of this system for hundreds of years is more compatible with take over by an empire rather than a slow coming together – regionalization within the mature Harappan civilization seems to predate from the pre Harappan phase rather than acquisition after reaching maturity. Imposition of an empire is most likely.


The rarity of metal in IVC would indicate that warfare was carried out using the Lathi. This is an easily degraded weapon. Remnants would not be easily recognised as a weapon in digs (since the excavators would be looking for metal weapons). It is also the ubiquitous weapon of agriculturists in north India to this day and hence the most likely weapon – Kenoyer has emphasised how the local features of basic village life have remained the same over millenia. In India villages more than any other country, the lathi is ubiquitous. The history of stick fighting is very poorly researched since almost all cultures had a tradition of using a stick for basic defence and it is assumed to be the same all over the world. But in India, this is not just an ordinary weapon – it is the main weapon of offence when there are battles between rival villagers. Groups of 10-15 lathi wielding men are a common site in the rural hinterlands and almost every clash is settled with the lathi. Jiski lathi uski bhais – the buffalo belongs to the one with the lathi - is a well recognised saying but is based on the underlying rural reality. Well organised armies wielding lathi can easily prevail over smaller disorganised dwellings even if fighting with metal weapons – provided the defence is not using archery. The organization of the army becomes more important when numbers hold the key. Use of boats and ships for easy transport would also be the modus operandi of the invading force. Hence a location of invasion from middle of Punjab going South along the Gaggar Hakra and the Indus, overwhelming and garrisoning of each urban settlement is likely. In these early days of warfare, there may have been minimal defence. Gujarat sites are also likely to have been overwhelmed from sea coast based landing crafts and settled based on easy boating distance. Archery is less likely to have been practiced and swords probably came after the empire was already well settled and controlled, by observation of Mesopotamian weapons. Without a dugout of archers who hold out using archery, the towns would have fallen to the simple lathi. The use of lathi is a reasonable hypothesis.

The non use of archery suggested by the rarity of arrowheads can have two explanations. First is that it was indeed used during the phase of conquest by the invaders but was minimal. So while the majority of the force would be lathi wielders, a small group of knights using metal weaponds and archery who would be the elite is possible. So the empire would have no more need for large scale increase in the use of archery after the whole of the area had been subdued. The second possibility is that after the building of citadels, groups of archers would be stationed on the walls for defence – but the need for defence was so little that only small groups and numbers trained in archery. The common people and those outside of the defence archery battalions might have been proscribed from archery training to prevent bandits and looters from gaining proficiency in offensive warfare. Archery is a very potent defence against lathi wielding groups of men and so such people would never be able to attack a town with walled defence.

Whatever be the method of conquest, the uniformity and systematic town planning extending over hundreds of years, the repairs to damage, the uniform writing etc are clear pointers to maintenance of central and strong authority actively administering the land. A caste based system of policing is possible. So the town would be defended by a caste of spearmen (using lathis with sharpened tips) at the gates. Such weapons would degrade just like the lathi. A force of bowmen – again trained within their caste - on the walls using bronze arrowheads would be the main defence against a concerted attack. This would explain the limited number of arrowheads found, much less than equivalent sites in Mesopotamia. Since the import of metal was under the control of the rulers and trading families, those outside would not be able to lay their hands on bronze arrowheads and would only be able to use lathis. A defence force of policemen carrying lathis and knives would be deployed to maintain law and order within the city and would be called to defend the city in case of attack. The villages would be divided on caste and thus would not gather together bearing arms since this would be forbidden – and the higher castes within the villages would be the lathi wielders. Perhaps the commanders in the cities and the bodyguard of the trading vessels on the Indus might have carried the few swords found – again made of precious imported metal. The bodyguard of the ruler and important personages would have carried spears with bronze tips – and these spearmen would again be a closely knit caste group.

So a close parallel to Saxons post the normal conquest or the Budhists in Taosit china is possible. The elites would be able to always prevail over the lathi wielding fighters by the use of metal tipped spears, swords and archery. The lathi wielders would be the mass of the army and police force but always under the control of the elites who alone had superior weapons, similar to mideaval knights. Small groups of the elites would be able to stand off a large force of lathi wielders from the walls of the citadel using archery. Control over the metal was with the traders and a trader priest kingly upper caste is likely as with every other human society.


Here again very little is known based on concrete evidence. But extension from current day practices based on intuitive inference when a local person looks at the artefacts provide the best scope to understand. Most of the IVC with the exception of Kalibangan seems to have adopted a uniform religion which includes mother goddess worship. Kalibangan seems to have continued with earlier local practices resembling sacrifice without adopting the mother godess. Kalibangan is located on the Ghaggar Hakra and no mother goddess was found, dating from 2800 BC onwards. The peepal tree and worship using rituals involving water also seem to be ubiquitous and well demonstrated in Dholavira. Presence of water tanks in multiple other sites and in those without tanks, the presence of dykes and canals indicates that similar rituals could have been undertaken without the presence of explicit religious tanks.

The most likely conjecture for a water related ritual is a water purification and bath. The river bathing or kumbh type of ritual is however more likely derived from Poorvanchal. Going to the riverside or the tank, taking water in a container and sprinkling water on self while chanting some prayers is more likely related to the Aryan invasion because the Iranians have exactly the same type of ritual. So bathing in tanks from IVC, river bathing from Poorvanchal and water purification from Aryans are the likely origins of the present forms of water ritual. Elements of this ritual are likely to have mixed with the Aryan hymns and become the sandhya vandana. Notice how the methods of worship of the Zorashtrian priests differ from the Brahminic rituals. Zoroastrian rituals celebrate functions similar to the Aryan functions – like initiation of the child at 5 or 7 and tying of the sacred Kushti. The Kushti is made of lambs wool and is wrapped three times around the waist. The Vedic sacred thread is made of cotton and has three strings which are worn on the shoulder. So the evolution pattern is clear. The Zoroastrian daily prayers are done 5 times after washing and use a tray containing items including a glass of water and may be done on the banks of a river. Brahminic prayers are done three times using a glass of water and are commonly done after bathing in a tank or river. While the pattern suggests an evolution from an Iranic method of prayer adapting to the Indian weather, a merging with surviving IVC rituals cannot be ruled out if they also had similar prayers done on the tank or river side. Such water purification rituals must have been done by the males if we assume continuation of these in the present day – since the Zoroastrian prayers are done by both sexes but Aryan daily prayers are done by the males. The element of secrecy is not there in Zoroastrianism and is done by all classes. But Aryan prayers are done in secret and only by males of higher caste. This suggests co-evolution with a caste system from inception and thus possible link to IVC caste systems. It is unlikely that we will ever get actual evidence. But the majority of the present water purification rituals must be or Aryan origin.

The most likely method for worship of the mother godess is likely to have been done by the lady of the house by lighting a lamp to an icon of the mother goddess kept in each home. Charred remains of mother goddess blackened by smoke have been found. This must have been a female centric ritual done every day in the evening. These two practices are instinctively perceivable as being derived from IVC – based on the observation of, lamps and figurines - and existing to this day. Evolution of the mother goddess headdress from IVC figurines to punch marked coins of the Gujarat regions, then Yakshini figures of the early Budhist stupa statuary and subsequently into the Gupta era classical Hindu Goddess of Durga is clearly demonstrated by multiple authors. The method of worship is also likely to have been passed on after originating in the IVC. Significantly, there is no equivalent of worshipping female deities at home by the Aryans and thus it is most probably an IVC ritual.

The Pashupati figure in more than one seal with the erect phallus is suggestive of worship of a Shiva like God – regardless of what he was called then. Linga worship is obviously derived from this and also phallic symbols have been found in IVC, although configured differently from current linga. The use of headdresses, peepal tree, use of tabeez like seals tied around the arms or other body parts as seen in the few surviving figurines and presence of animal or human sacrifice depending on the interpretation of the seals suggest a more event based religious worship i.e. worship on special days. As such, the earliest interpolation of non Aryan material in the Vedic Brahmana (and in one instance in samhita) is of the Triambaka and it is likely that this was one of the initial names of Shiva as rendered in Sanskrit much after the end of IVC. Linkage to Zeus is more unlikely given the completely different pathways of history beyween those Indo Europeans and the Indian Indo Aryans and the absence of any mention of Triambaka in the innumerable hymns of the veda. A link between Triambaka and Proto Shiva depicted in the IVC is jumping a lot of time – 1000 years (from 1800 BC to 800 BC) but is not impossible. The link of Proto Shiva to the current forms of Shiva worship i.e. Phallus worship, peepal tree related worship, and sacrifice related worship in special events (depicted on seals) are more clearly evident. Kalibangan might have been the site of origin of sacrifice form of worship. Sectism from people linked to the sacrifice related worshippers could have started in IVC itself and continued subsequently to the present. Again no evidence of this will ever emerge and therefore we need to infer it. The shamanistic worships seen on Indus seals most closely resemble Shiva worship and hence the inference is possible and not far fetched.

Unusual aspects in the IVC seals are wearing of a ribbon with a ring like diadem and head dress by the Shamanistic figures. These practices likely died out after collapse of the IVC. Obviously everything cannot survive a catastrophic collapse and these Shamanistic sacrifices and the Indus writing faded away.

The sacred thread is likely to have evolved in hot climates and not in cold places where people would be fully clad all year. Evolution of sacred thread within the Indian subcontinent is certain. Evolution from Kushti like threads worn by the Indo Aryan invaders is also certain. The occasional torse figures of males seen on internet images of IVC show no evidence of sacred thread. It is possible that the Kushti like thread initially used by the Indo Aryans around the waist migrated to its current place of wear after reaching India.

Does any philosophy or thinking survive from IVC times? If it does, then it is likely to be Samkhya theory and Yoga. Samkhya is one of the oldest theories which was present before the time of the Buddha in 500 BC. Traces of its influence are there in the earliest Upanishads and Brahmanas, although whether it evolved from Upanishads or influenced Upanishads from outside is difficult to be certain. Circulation of this theory prior to arrival of the Indo Aryans might be linked to derivation from IVC or post Harappan people. Yoga is suggested by some of the postures seen on Indus seals. Shamanistic practices probably depicted on Indus seals are akin to the Yogic and Samkhya schools, and the animal sacrifices to the Tantric schools. Samkhya, Yoga and Tanticism are non Vedic religions and philosophies. Parallel development in the Vedic periods seems less likely, since why would it when the Vedas themselves were undergoing so much change and the Upanishads were being written? Current scholarship seems to prefer a post Buddhist evolution of Samkhya and Yoga. But survival from IVC, persistence in local populations and slow modifications and derivations in parallel and separate from the Vedic developments can again not be ruled out. We certainly know that some of the earliest writings of Panini mention the Yoga and Samkhya schools and hence when earliest writing evolved in India around 300 BC these systems of philosophy and thinking were already existing. Upanishads show that they were existing much before writing evolved. Persistence from Post Haparran people is possible. Krishna worship is also mentioned by the Panini texts who also mentions the Yavanas. So by 300 BC or so we have existence of Triambaka, Rudra, mother Goddess, Yakshini and Krishna and the Bhagavatas in earliest form. So when writing started, the basic components of present Hinduism exist but in the Vedas the mother Goddess, phallic worship (condemned) and Krishna worship do not exist. The obvious inference is derivation from the non Vedic people of post Harappan civilization.
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Feb 2013

The similarity of the IVC to the Mesopotamian sites in terms of the trade, agriculture, use of seals and the similarity of the kind of materials produced show that social organization was similar. The elite would have been the priests, rulers and the merchants. Scribes would have had the specials seals manufactured from rare steatite stone. The Indus seal impressions would have been used for sealing containers full of trade related materials like beads, bangles etc and also cotton bales and pottery. The markings would have designated the trade house and hence the main symbol would have been heraldry related. Big trade families would have been hereditary and would have settled in each of the major cities. The unicorn seal being the most common symbol might have marked the most powerful of the trading familes. In all probability the unicorn is a representation of a mythical beast, since other animals like antelope are also rendered with bovine torso proportions – perhaps because the artists were more familiar with making bovine torsos. Unicorn seals might also represent the gelded oxen. The other symbols inscribed are likely to specify relationship of the family, city of origin, nature of goods and numbers in some way, as seen in Mesopotamian seals.

The elites might have performed the daily rituals of water purification by tank bathing done by the males and puja of mother goddess by the females. Mother Goddess worship and linga worship would have been more widespread for all classes as also participation in the special functions related to Shiva like shamans and peepal tree. However the water related rituals would have been restricted both by access to water in the great bath. The domination of this upper class would have been absolute. After carving out the initial empire, there seems to have been no need for warfare because of the rigid social control established. Only policing and strategic defence using rare imported metal weapons behind citadels seemed to have sufficed. There was an absence of any enemies both to the West and East. Mountains to the north, sea to the south, Baluchistan and Iran desert to the west and the densely forested Gangetic lands to the east provided a natural barrier. Prolonged isolation without presence of any war like neighbours seems to have made it unnecessary for any cavalry or elephantry to develop. Although elephant seals are there, large scale domestication of the elephant is not suggested by the archeological evidence. Horse of course did not exist in the IVC as not a single horse seal has ever been found. All bones of the horse discovered in India are much older in a different post ice age climate. Horse was abundant from 9000 BC to 6000 BC in India but by 2500 BC it was found mainly in the Central Asian steppes.

Even spears and swords seem to have been derived from Mesopotamian imports over the course of years through trade and there was no necessity for large scale manufacture. There is no depiction of warfare in pottery or seals. This would have limited the need for both import of large quantities of metal and there was also no need to search for internal metal sources which were otherwise abundant in Rajasthan and Baluchistan. Only limited smelting seems to have been done from Baluchistan. Limited numbers of swords and spears which have been found were probably meant for policing work, body guards and elite forces and not for routine warfare. Similarly inadequate numbers of arrowheads found do not suggest large scale army use. The lathi seems to have sufficed. The fact that some arrowheads have been found might have been used by small numbers of guards on the citadels. Even a large army of lathi wielders can be held at bay using archery from citadel walls by the elite. The practice of archery might have been under highly restricted control. Without training, it is difficult to become good at it. Hunting by the commoners and the carrying of bow and arrow might have been punishable with death, and in the largely peaceful realm, this would have greatly reduced strife.

There are previous precedents for proscribing carrying of arms by commoners in history. The Normans suppressed the Saxons by outlawing poaching. Anyone carrying a bow and arrow would get hanged as a poacher. Most of the outlaws carried cudgels or staffs similar to the lathi and could not withstand the armoured might of the Norman men at arms and crossbowmen. Robin Hood like skill without adequate training is a myth. Later during the wars with France, the lads of Hamshire were all trained in the long bow from a young age in marked contrast to the period of the post Normal conquest. Such training is essential to become a proficient fighting force, and might have been prevented by law in the IVC at the pain of death. The monks under Chinese rule also developed hand to hand combat and staff fighting when prevented from carrying arms – and they never were a threat to the central government because carrying arms were banned, cinematic hyperbole not withstanding. So caste based division of warfare skills is a most effective method for controlling a population provided there is no possibility of a neighbour invading. This status is compatible with IVC having a single large empire melded in the early days followed by no external enemies since the empire was all encompassing.

The bearing of arms must have been caste related. No rebellions or inter regional warfare (or evolution of rival weight or other rival systems different for the regions) also suggest a rigid caste system covering the entire civilization. In all probability the system had elite fighters, priests and traders i.e Kshatriya like, Brahmin like and Vaishya like class – these are bound to have been present in IVC. The lathi fighter would therefore be from a lower caste while the ruler would be a non fighter who controls the lathi fighters based on caste system backed up by the elite knights. This caste based fighting would have to be an essential feature because otherwise a fighting upper class would start internecine warfare. If the fighter was from a lower caste the this would not be so. Strict control of the fighters by the administration similar to present day police under control of the political class is a required condition. Suppression of aggressive tendencies by judicial magistrates from the high caste – priests or ruler – with a knowledge of complex rules and prevention of intermarriage between castes is also probable. Similar systems have existed many times in Chinese empires and in the Maurya, Gupta, Vijayanagara and Naik empires, although the time period of existence of this system in IVC for 700 or more years makes it unique. In subsequent times also, as long as no foreign invasion occurs to disturb the peace, India has existed for prolonged periods in relative peace in conjunction with just such a caste system. Indians like peace – it is a well known fact. So the Maurya empire was at peace even after adopting Buddhism whereas the prior period of Kshatriya rule including the conquests undertaken by the Mauryan empire itself before adoption of Buddhism was very violent with continuous internecine conflict. Ashokan peace lasted as long as no foreign invasion occurred. Guptas empire was also internally nonviolent after the initial conquest phase, until destroyed by the Hephthalite Hun invasion. During the Gupta era, the caste system became a lot more rigid than previously. Caste system therefore brings peace to large populations in the Indian context, unless acted upon by an external force. In recorded history the external force was omnipresent. In IVC times, it was non existent.

The prolonged peace underlies the massive populations achieved by this civilization. The presence of fertile soil, good monsoon rains, periodic inundation bringing alluvial soil and no warfare mean that systematic accretion of population could take place without check. The cities found show that this indeed happened. Kenoyer has estimated a population of over 40-50,000 in cities like Mohenjodaro and over 5 million people at the height of this civilization shortly before its fall.

The basic unit of this empire would have been a village very similar to the current North Indian village. Agriculture based on canal irrigation and rain fed agriculture, Zebu herding and goats were the main activities in the villages. The average sizes of the villages would have been over 500 people. Artisans lived in larger villages or small towns. They made pottery, beads, agricultural implements, cotton yarn, cotton clothes and terra cotta items. Bigger cities would import cotton and clay, add value or manufacture more varieties of these items including cloth. Boats would be used to trade with intermediaries based in Yemen. Trade with Yemen is more likely than venturing further into Persian Gulf – which would then be undertaken by the Yemeni intermediary trader. Export of the local manufacture with bartering for metal ingots and import of other varieties of similar goods would have been the basis of trade. These activities are well described in Mesopotamia and should have been similar here too.

The use of gold in IVC is interesting. Most were gold ornaments and were found in hoards buried inside the house. In one case names or other lettering were inscribed on the ornaments which were different from the usual Indus script. This suggests that gold ornaments were passed on from probably mother to daughter and were kept together and hoarded but labelled for segregation just as we currently do with gold jewellery in joint families. Gold was never buried within the grave as seen in other cultures of the world. Gold was clearly a valuable import and was kept with other bead jewellery just as we currenty keep pearls, corals etc along with gold. The writing being different also indicates that the symbols of the IVC seals are likely linked to heraldry and trade related information and not used by the common rich people. Rich people are likely to be gold owners and also likely to be reasonably educated and have access to scribes within the family – this suggests that the IVC script was never used for writing. Again, the inferences are coming from observation of similar traits persisting in the local population of India for millennia.

Decline and Fall

The decline of the IVC is clearly linked to desertification of the core area and disruptions of the trade networks required for the empire. A shifting of the Sutlej from the Gaggar Hakra to the Indus and the shifting of Yamuna from Drishadvati channel to the Ganges system probably linked to a period of monsoon failure caused a catastrophic famine. This hypothesis is well understood now. With the disruption of the trading activities and networks, the complex social organization collapsed and so the IVC declined in a catastrophic manner.

The most likely cause for decline of the civilization was of course drought. The heart of IVC was what is now the Thar desert. The Sutlej changed course into the Indus system. The Yamuna changed course from Drishadvati channel into the present Eastern flow into Ganges. However the presence of Indus and Yamuna in current disposition, available for settling, points to more distressing reasons for the fall. The progressive shift of the cities upstream along Sutlej suggest that there was a progressive decrease in flow. 800 years is a long time. In the previous 5000 years the flora and fauna of India had changed almost completely. It passed from ice age to temperate times to a deciduous forest to dry and then wet climate i.e. 5000 years of slow but regular change. Change of weather patterns in next 800 years along the same lines is also most likely. But the people could adapt to this type of slow and incremental change, as is demonstrated by the shift of the cities which became smaller and smaller.

It is now well known that civilizations with major sudden disruption can decline very fast. Incas of Machu Pichu are a good example. The civilization collapsed, the population plummeted and the surviving remnants degraded to a village life forgetting the knowledge gained during the height of the civilization. Catastrophy might suggest the difficulty for adaptation if the knowledge systems and trade links disintegrated suddenly. A shift of the rivers could have been linked to an earthquake with tectonic plate elevation which changed the Yamuna from flowing into the Rann of Kutch to flow east into Ganga. Unfortunately we have no evidence as to when exactly this shift occurred and whether only an intermittent branch of Yamuna flowed in the Drishtadvati channel or the whole river flowed so. So if the Drishadvati was intermittently contributing to Gaggar Hakra and then stopped, then the reduced flow would explain the shifting up of the cities from the lower course of the Gaggar Hakra to the upper course near Sutlej. That would mean that the diversion of the Drishadvati would have been a slow and adaptable change and would not be a cause for catastrophy. In which situation, the capture of the Sutlej by the Indus would also not be a cause for catastrophy since the river system would be maintaining a smaller part of the IVC which would have found alternative locations for agriculture.

Another speculative reason is the arrival of small pox. The oldest evidence of small pox is in Egyptian mummies of 1200 BC. Scientists believe that small pox was endemic in India and went West and not vice versa. Some forms of mother goddess worship in India in recent past of the last few centuries was specifically directed towards warding off small pox. A sudden arrival of small pox in a previously unexposed population can wipe out entire populations as seen in the American continents in native Americans.

Another cause for catastrophy is sequential monsoon failure. Large urban settlements need food from the hinterland. Famines in India have well demonstrated the scale of starvation even in modern period. So monsoon failure could have precipitated a mass starvation which destroyed the civilization. Trade required maintenance of complex networks. Disruption of these can make a civilization regress from urban trading community to subsistence agricultural settlements very fast. The basic unit of the North Indian plain is the self sustaining village. Sind, Poorvanchal and Bihar were once one of the most advanced areas of India. Now they have regressed to simple village life despite increased population, a way of life which is the basic unit of subsistence in India.

Peculiar patterns of monsoon behaviour could also change the dynamics of agriculture. IVC is based on collaborative development of dykes and canals with control of rivers. Periodic degradation of a civilization by droughts every few years can cause irretrievable breakdown of the canal maintenance. Loss of central control is also a cause for a fatal blow. A vital component of administration, when removed can break the system of canals and irrigation forever. The periodic monsoon failure can suggest why large cities did not evolve post IVC. The population of the IVC could have dwindled from 5 million at its peak because the periodic re-appearance of famine would prevent the population from increasing to civilizational levels once again.
Despite this, there are problems in this hypothesis. Many tsunamis/tidal waves/floods caused multiple devastations of the IVC without a complete failure of the civilization. Dholavira was completely rebuilt after a flood/tsunami devastation. Similarly, the cities of the Punjab and Sindh show systematic repair and maintenance after natural disasters. In subsequent times, post 500 BC when we have historical records, there have been multiple severe famines with bounceback of the population after a few years. Complete regression of the civilization with such a drastic fall of population was not repeated after 1800 BC in the rest of Indian history. This type of regression was never seen again. Hence it becomes necessary to explain why the civilization did not return. Having conjectured the survival of IVC religion and caste system after the decline, the reason for lack of bounce back also needs explanation. Survival of ideas without survival of the writing system point to peculiar and unusual changes. Understanding the precise reasons which caused IVC decline and its end are crucial to understanding the post IVC remnants in the interregnum period. One factor is climate change. From dependable monsoon with perennial rivers, India became a country of periodically repeated monsoon failure during which time there was famine. Increase of population to civilizational levels would require adaptation to this phenomenon. Endemisation of small pox is another factor to consider.

The Catastrophy

Regardless of the cause, the end of the civilization happened because of one simple factor: the factors imposed on the population to produce the civilization were removed. The law and order ceased to exist. So the civilization fell. Having already speculated on the importance of a caste system with only policing and near complete absence of a military to enforce order, the removal of the discipline of the caste system would bring about faster and quicker ruin than a civilization in which higher level of military order is imposed. The higher classes are more precariously positioned in surviving a catastrophy, since they don’t bear arms, have no survival skills in difficult situations and are easily preyed upon by even small bands of marauders.
The situation seen during the terrible famines of the late 17th century in the nascent East India company rule and others in the 18th century which are better described under direct British rule and the famine commission are illuminating. People from the poorest strata died in the most horrible of circumstances. People sold their children to each other to be eaten. Anyone dying would be dismembered and eaten. Undigested corn from cowdung would be dug out and eaten (when cowdung cakes get exposed to the rain, the surprising number of seeds germinating would have been observed by many). All of this have happened just 150 years ago. But because of the presence of the Hindu, Muslim or British military depending upon the date and location, private property and the lives of the rich were preserved. Only the poor suffered. Once the famine passed, population levels would have plummeted – as it did in the series of famines from 1765 to 1795 when the population dropped from 175 to 140 million people - but life would go on as usual. And slowly, the population would bounce back.

We cannot imagine the same thing happening in IVC because only a caste system was keeping the order. There was no large military. Earlier periods of decreasing flow in Gaggar Hakra were adequately addressed by the administration – probably by shipping food from other locations where production was adequate, decreasing the size of cities around the Gaggar Hakra and building more cities in areas with better water supply. The large granaries would have helped and might have been built only to withstand the occasional monsoon failure. These measures don’t apply in a catastrophy which was sufficient to remove social order. If the social order is removed the civilization collapses. Only two situations can bring about catastrophy. First is a terrible famine. Second is a pandemic. Combining a pandemic with a famine makes the effects more potent. Famines cause enormous dislocation of people as they move from place to place seeking food and water. If they are also carrying a disease with them, then the effects are amplified manifold.


There are only a few possible pandemics which can cause this level of debilitation of a population. Influenza, plague and smallpox are the main possibilities. Small pox is a far better candidate because of its historical relationship to massive loss of life. The decimation of the Native American populations by small pox is well documented. In fact the effects were so devastating that some American military commanders have even tried to use biological warfare by sending small pox infected blankets or dead bodies into Native American villages. The only condition is exposure of a large previously unexposed population. There are two ways in which this could have happened to the IVC. The first is from within India. The Neolithic cultures of Belan valley showed a shift from wild to domesticated varieties of rice and are widely separated from the IVC. But the later Ochre coloured pottery people or copper horde people of the region from Rajasthan to Saharanpur area as well as the Cemetery H people cultivated domesticated rice and extend from times contemporaneous with the IVC i.e. from before 2000 BC to about 1500 BC. Some have regarded them as the degenerate IVC culture but their geographical extent is interesting. Since some dates are prior to the mature Harappan end, it is possible that these people served as a link between the Belan Son valley rice agriculturists and the IVC. In which case this contact could have brought diseases with it, including small pox. The second reason is contact with the Western traders from the middle east, with whom the IVC people had trade links.

Smallpox affects only previously unexposed people and takes hold when a pool of unexposed individuals accumulates in a village. It starts suddenly on exposure due to travel and spreads like wildfire. Unlike Chicken Pox, it doesn’t cause subclinical infections and is never mild, always severe. After infecting a majority of the village who are unexposed and having usually killed a third of those affected, the disease also vanishes suddenly from the village never to visit again for many years – since people are now immune – reappearing only when a pool of unexposed people accumulates. Previously unexposed large populations coming in contact with small pox for the first time are usually decimated in enormous numbers. Native American epidemics killed large sections of their population, but these were isolated hunter gatherer groups. The arrival of small pox among the Aztecs of Mexico, shortly after Cortes invaded, as described in Wikipedia is more illuminating. Toribio Motolinia, a Spanish monk that witnessed this epidemic, said: “It became such a great pestilence among them throughout the land that in most provinces more than half the population died; in others the proportion was less. They died in heaps, like bedbugs”. Combine that with a famine and one can imagine the scale of the disaster.

The small pox hypothesis does seem to have occurred to virologists recently, although I have believed it for long. A literature search throws up this 2011 paper: “Emergence and reemergence of smallpox: The need for development of a new generation smallpox vaccine by Sergei N Shchelkunov”. According to his hypothesis, smallpox emerged from an animal pox virus three times in history. The first wiped out the IVC but was extinguished and did not become endemic. The second emerged in middle east in 1200 BC and then vanished without becoming endemic. The third emerged in Ganges basin in 500 BC but this time the population at 25 million was sufficiently dense to support endemization with human to human transmission – since a sufficient population is necessary for supporting high enough prevalence to continuously circulate. This then infected the Greek invaders and then became endemic throughout the world, since population was dense enough for endemisation and travel was sufficient to spread the virus. According to him the mutation causing the jump happened independently three times.
To me this hypothesis has one big problem – if the Greek populations were previously unexposed in 300 BC, arrival of small pox would have caused a sufficiently large disruption of the middle eastern civilizations to be mentioned in historical records. Similarly, the 1200 BC outbreak would also have been reflected in the records, since it is quite close to the start of historical record keeping. The fact that calamitous deaths in 300 BC were not caused in the Western population indicates that there was residual immunity and the virus was already endemic. Otherwise the Greek empire would have collapsed immediately. The other problem is the vested interest of the writer in accepting repeated jumps of the virus to humans, if it happened in the past, as a cause of future outbreaks – a reason for continuing virological research and vaccine development. Repeated jumps from animals to humans is possible and is a definite cause for concern for future health care research. But a more likely theory based on historical accuracy suggests endemization post IVC outbreak.

How would it have happened? Let us look at the spread from east hypothesis which is more interesting because it was a new event in a previous status quo which has the potential to upset balances. The Ochre coloured pottery people might have started as the early dissemination of the IVC culture. Due to slow drying up of the Gagger Hakra, they would have spread east into the Gangetic plain since this was more fertile and had better rains and rivers than the drying Sind. Cutting and burning the forests slowly, they would have perhaps for the first time encountered the Neolithic agriculturists of the Ganges region.

Smallpox could have already evolved in the Ganges people if they had sufficient numbers and sufficient contact with neighboring tribes to give critical population. Not only would it have been a localised disease due to isolation, it would also have had the effect of severely limiting the population growth of these people – if it was already endemic in the Ganges region – explaining the non emergence of civilization in this region which is equally as fertile as the Indus basin.

Virologists in the above paper however don’t seem to prefer that scenario, since they are suggesting presence of critical levels of populations for endemization. In which case the alternative hypothesis is equally possible - The emergence of contacts between the IVC and the Ochre coloured pottery people occurred as the IVC expanded east due to slow desertification. This might have brought them in contact with a new virus, a type of orthopoxvirus perhaps endemic in the rodents of the new region and causing cowpox like human skin lesions among the Ganga people. The explorers from the IVC would have come in contact with this virus and acquired the skin disease. It might have started circulating in the vastly increased population of the IVC instead of the small villages of the Ganga people. Then the catastrophic jump of orthopoxpox from its usual state to the truncated smallpox virus state, which is only transmissible to humans could have occurred in the large populations of IVC and wiped out half the population – typically 50% of a population die after small pox in unexposed populations like in Mexico. But if 50% of the population survived in IVC after the small pox epidemic, then we still have 2.5 million survivors. Not every remote village would have had contact with small pox at the same instance, it would have been city centric to start with. Then it would have travelled to the villages and then a circle of transmission would have started. It wipes out people only in small confines of cities – after the fall of Tenochtitlan to both small pox and military campaign, people of Mexico lived on enduring the continuous presence of small pox. But if a country has only villages, then the spread is slow and steady as people travel and disseminate the virus village by village. The Ochre coloured pottery people would then be the remnants of the IVC post the smallpox epidemic. Since they did not have urbanisation they might have survived the epidemic better. Whereas the remnants of the urbanised IVC would have been the Cemetery H people. We need to presume some survival if the cultural practices were to have passed on and also because of archeological evidence of post harappan cities.

This situation is more likely than that supposed by the authors of the paper who propose a second jump around 500 BC. The assumption of 25 million population for Bihar in 500 BC is also an overestimate by the virologists, since this date only marks the beginning of urbanisation in Bihar and population levels would only slowly build up during the Magadhan periods. The highest estimate of 50-75 million for the Mauryan empire under Ashoka in 175BC spans the entire Indian subcontinent. A jump of small pox in 500 BC would have caused a massive and severe outbreak in unexposed individuals and would have suppressed the population for another few hundred years. Instead we have explosive growth starting in 500 BC growing from a village economy to an urbanised economy. This suggests that small pox was already circulating in the community prior to 500 BC. The explosive growth from 500 BC to 200 BC was possible because the population could survive and outgrow the deleterious effects of smallpox of causing periodic outbreaks since there were large sections of already immune people. This would then push back the transition period for the jump to 800 BC or so – in which case we might as well hypothesise the endemisation of small pox post its IVC outbreak and circulating slowly in the villages, 800 BC and 1800 BC being same for this scenario. The viral genome of small pox is severely shortened in comparison to cowpox. Serial jumping of this nature seems less likely than a single jump. If the DNA from the mummies having small pox (prior to the 500 BC jump proposed by the virologists) can be compared to small pox, it should be possible to tell if it is same or different and solve the issue of single versus multiple jumps.

In the present hypothesis, travellers from IVC could have spread it to the middle east around 1800 BC. Just as the virologists have proposed small pox as the reason for the collapse of multiple civilizations, similar collapse of multiple civilizations occurred in between 1800 and 1600 throughout the known world. Traditionally this has been ascribed to Indo Aryan invasions i.e. BMAC, Hyksos, Kassites, Hittites, Mitanni overwhelming existing empires by use of their superior archery and horse chariots. A prior collapse of the civilization to be overwhelmed makes it much easier for the invader and also elongates the time scale. Hyksos and Kassites are now no longer regarded as IE speakers but they did use horse chariots and archery – and they were essentially barbarian invasions and caused cultural regression and a diminution of the civilization of their time. So outbreaks of small pox in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia might have reduced the population by 50% severely weakening their defences. The barbarian hordes of IE speakers living in small villages, after weathering the smallpox outbreak, could then have swept in from the steppes after the epidemic had died down. By then small pox would have become endemic, moving from village to village as it was happening in India at the same time post IVC collapse. Other times of civilizational collapse which they quote could have been bigger outbreaks of small pox or other diseases like influenza or black death. In any case, a post 500 BC spread out of India into the rest of the world would have surely caused a major calamity and would surely have been recorded by Greek and Roman historians. A prehistoric outbreak is more likely.

The Indian Mole Rat

The spread of the IVC people into the Gangetic plain, forced by progressive desertification of the Thar, raises other possibilities. Bandicota bengalensis or Indian mole rat is one of a large group of rice paddy field pests who have been used to track the spread of human rice cultivators in prehistoric times. In Indian stone age, it is typical to find its teeth fossils in the Deccan rice farming communities. The mole rats usually are rice pests and different species are adapted to different locations of rice farmers in Ganges, Bengal, Burma, China, Malaya and Indonesia. However currently B bengalensis is a pest found all the way west to the Pakistani frontier. Indus valley grew mainly wheat and barley whereas the Belan valley cultures grew rice. But late Harappan sites between 2000 to 1800 show rice cultivation. The Ochre coloured pottery and Cemetery H people also grew rice. This again raises the possibility of contact with the Belan and Son people causing westward spread of rice cultivation. And along with the spread of rice, could have spread the typical rice pest B bengalensis, explaining its presence in abundance in Pakistan even in the present day. Now the cowpox virus is mainly found infecting rodents. It is possible that the new pest brought with it a new type of orthopox virus and this virus then jumped from the bandicoot to humans. The IVC had granaries and this could have meant an exponential increase of contact between rats and humans. The presence of the sewage systems of IVC could have potently amplified the desire of these rats to travel at night through the sewers towards the granaries, causing behaviour modification of the vector which would not have been possible in the past in Neolithic rice fields. In Delhi, the bandicoot does travel through the sewers in just such a fashion at night. So cities cause behaviour modification in B bengalensis – it lives in burrows but in the absence of fields, raids other food sources.

Another interesting possibility is the hoarding behaviour of the mole rat. It lives in burrows among rice fields and carries grains to a large underground cavity in the burrow system for storage. Each burrow has some 1 kilo of rice and about 10% of the yield from a field usually finds its way into the burrows. In the rice fields of the Gangetic basin, this could have been ignored by the Neolithic people – or they could have consumed both the rice and the rat. In Bihar a community of people known as the Musahars still live on these rats. But when this pest spread to the vast wheat fields of the IVC, hundreds of times greater than the Neolithic cultivations of the Ganga people, there would have been a population explosion of this rodent and its behaviour would have been noted by the IVC villagers. Since the IVC was subjected to periodic famine, people would not ignore this vital food source. In recent famines of the last century, people would not only eat the hoarded rice of mole rats, they would also eat the rat itself since it is a large and quite succulent animal, eaten widely in South East Asia even today. If the IVC people adopted this behaviour, this would drastically increase contact between these two large populations of humans and rats and make a jump more possible than with the previous ecological balance in the Ganges basin.

So the presence of an environmental factor i.e desertification caused wider spread of people, bringing them into contact with newer people, newer crops and newer animals who were virus vectors. And a pandemic followed when the virus jumped from the newly arrived vector, with possible behaviour modification caused by abundant food supply in the granaries. Since the fields in Pakistan were growing wheat instead of rice, the behaviour of the rodent would in any case be under modification and in todays Punjab, B bengalensis is a major wheat field pest. Increased contact between humans and pest would be possible in both rural and urban locations for different reasons. If large populations were getting cowpox skin infections, a subsequent jump to the smallpox form is possible.

In a jigsaw puzzle, when things fall into place, everything gets explained. The above hypothesis adequately explains why the disease wasn’t present in 700 years from 2500 to 1800 BC but made a sudden appearance. Why the disease arrived due to population movement and changed behaviour of both humans and nonhumans. And from there, it also explains why the society collapsed and as discussed later, why the society did not recover to its previous civilizational extent but regressed.

Small pox has another difference from famine – it does not recognise caste. If the social caste system was so heavy in IVC and maintained by small numbers of archers and knights – then if these elite fighters all suddenly perished, then the lathi wielding normal fighters would be able to easily overwhelm the superior castes. Which they would be inclined to do under a famine situation. So if the majority of the elites died of small pox and remaining were killed by the lathi fighters, then a majority of the rulers would get removed and society would collapse.

Having said that, there are other possibilities. If rats are involved, the issue of plague cannot be excluded. But rats and rat fleas would have been widespread in the IVC granaries. Another possibility is evolution of smallpox in the middle eastern civilizations, spreading and causing large scale decimation, spread to IVC via trade and its devastation as well is equally possible. Unlike Iraq, Syria and Egypt, where an Indo Aryan attack is posited for destruction, there is another great civilization which died out under mysterious circumstances – the BMAC or the Bactria Margiana Architectural Complex. Just like the IVC died out in 1800 BC the BMAC also died out in 1800 BC. Just as suddenly and again with no reason. If we assume that all these civilizations were affected by small pox then how were the Indo Aryans not affected? To explain that situation, we need to assume that the smallpox first started in the Indo Aryans. It might have precipitated the decline and abandonment of the Andronovo-Sintashta-Archaim civilizations and then spread out. After the initial debilitation, the Indo Aryans would have adapted to smallpox better by adopting a more nomadic and tribal existence of bands of roving tribals, always fighting with everyone and each other. That way no large population centers would be created. In the meantime, the spread of smallpox would have destroyed the BMAC, Iraq, Syria and Egypt as well as IVC which traded with the BMAC. Later after the Indo Aryan population recovers – first – and expanded their population, they could have taken over the weakened cities, with their agricultural hinterland depopulated. But to me this seems more contrived. Why would the cold and arid settlements of Chelyabinsk be the site for jump of a virus from murine to human transmission? It is possible but less probable. India has for long been considered as the heart of the smallpox problem. Smallpox was always endemic in India from where the global spread occurred.
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The post Indus Valley People

The population of IVC is estimated by the Kenoyer group at 5 million in about 2000 BC which makes it the most populous of its time. It was definitely heavily urbanised. Of course we cannot conclude that all the urban sites were simultaneously occupied. But there were some 10 cities with 50,000 plus population like Mohenjodaro and Harappa making 500,000 in big cities. Another 70 to 100 towns of 10-15000 population are there mostly around Gaggar Hakra equalling 1 million. Smaller towns of 5000 or so are there in profusion and the villages would be having a few hundred people. Assuming around half the towns were simultaneously occupied, then some half to one million people would have been in urban centers. Assuming urbanization levels of 10%, population of 5 million plus is easily calculated and is in keeping with populations calculated with scientific rigour. The order of magnitude, which is all we really need, is established.

Now we have reasonable evidence that the IVC had granaries. While these would be needed for urban life, the level of organization indicates that the IVC people were well placed to withstand droughts of smaller magnitude. After the first monsoon failure, I am sure the people would have been organised enough to guard against the next one and so storage levels in excess of urban needs can be easily assumed. How they fell prey to desertification beggars the imagination, when immediately to their flank the huge gangetic plains was there for slashing, burning and cultivation. After lasting 800 years, suddenly vanishing despite reasonable adaptation to the monsoons is intriguing to say the least. Even if attacked by smallpox, they should have bounced back. If the hypothesis that smallpox attacked all of the known world is true then the other civilizations bounced back. Why not IVC?

We must therefore assume a change in the patterns of monsoon. Prior to 2000 BC the monsoon (we know from weather estimates) was heavier in the gangetic plains and was quite heavy in Pakistan as well, heavier than the present monsoon in the ganges. Vegetation of the ganges in those days was thicker and more like rainforest than Terai or plains forest. A reasonable assumption is that monsoons rarely failed during IVC. Already the existing area of IVC was under threat of desertification and the people were moving to the gangetic plains. This migration brought disaster in the form of smallpox. But still they should have recovered unless the climate change was very severe, the monsoon failed every few years and caused a major famine every 10-15 years post 1800 BC.

The population of IVC was so heavily urbanised because of good productivity of all sections of society. Major famines would however take a heavy toll especially of the poorer sections. The weather change could therefore alter the productivity dynamics and this is the main argument in my hypothesis below which is adaptation of the population to periodic monsoon failure. Populations could not cross levels critical for urbanisation as long as periodic monsoon failure caused mass deaths. During IVC, the entire population was productive and in peace and could achieve high levels of urbanisation. Post IVC due to monsoon change, the need was for a different population. One with very high numbers of poor people with low productivity. These poor people would produce food in excess of needs only for the rich. When the famine came, these poor would perish in large numbers but when times improved again, they would again increase their numbers with very high birth rate. The rich and their knowledge would however continue through the famine without change, keeping the knowledge systems intact.
The poor would need to be docile enough to not loot and plunder the rich people in times of famine, because then the system would break down and the population would decline again. Urbanisation in this climate would require evolution of social traits which permit the generation of a rich class who would carry on through the famine and a waxing and waning underclass who would produce enough to sustain the rich but not themselves in famine times. In other words, the caste system as we know it.

If the people in the original IVC caste system were not having these tendencies, the poor would plunder the rich in short shrift in times of famine. The advanced levels of urbanisation in IVC indicate a more aggressive personality which produced in excess of needs very different from the slothful and low productivity of the poor of India. But as the above arguments show, IVC did not follow military subjugation but caste subjugation without in any way restricting the vigour of the lower castes. So while we can easily see that the society of IVC was similar to Egypt and Mesopotamia in terms of social stratification, we cannot infer the presence of the lower caste docile non aggressive mindset in IVC at all - quite the reverse. In Mesopotamia and Egypt the lower castes were subjugated to slavery or close to it by military means, but not so in IVC.

Agricultural success in the post IVC period would need evolution of different caste traits - a vast section of the population who lived only to perish in the next famine. Whose social conditions accepted this fate. In addition the upper castes would have to develop marked militarization to subjugate the lower castes. Urbanisation can develop in these changed conditions only after evolution of these social traits. The long period of 1800 to 500BC for re-emergence of urbanisation points to the time needed for these to evolve. Anytime the population increased and the poor overwhelmed the rich, there would be a major set back lasting many years or decades. Whereas if the poor accepted their fate, the society would bounce back after the next monsoon. Potent selection pressure.

The assumption therefore is the continuation of the IVC elite in much smaller numbers for many centuries until they could emerge again. A higher martial requirement and evolution of a Kshatriya caste of warriors who could rule over the poor by force of arms (denied to the poor) would also be needed. Very different from the IVC where I supposed a small Kshatriya caste and a policing force derived from the poorer people of lower station. Probably the influx of the Indo Aryan speakers provided the necessary Kshatriya caste, but it would have started evolving even earlier. Thus despite survival of the Ochre coloured pottery people till 1500 BC, their society could not evolve the necessary levels of physical violence from upper castes. That had to wait for the infusion of the Indo Aryan culture of internecine warfare. Anybody who is familiar with the current lower castes of India would be surprised by the levels of docile acceptance of fate from quite poor people – in any other country such poor people would be rioting in the streets unless ruthlessly suppressed by arms. In the absence of this docility, the society cannot survive periodic famine. The cycle of repeated failure of society to adapt to the changed conditions would have continued till the arrival of the Indo Aryans post 1500 BC, closer to 1200 BC.

In addition to famine which selectively killed poor people, we can also add circulation of smallpox in the population as an added level of selection pressure. Smallpox would indiscriminately, kill people, regardless of social standing, in good numbers. But after affecting an area it would not emerge there again until enough unexposed people would accumulate. It therefore favours a population which adopts village life over urban life or at best small semi urban centers of upper caste living whereas the lower castes would live in the villages. In large urban centers, if smallpox arrives, it would devastate the city. So the conditions favour the evolution of a caste system and adoption of village life. Both of these happened as we very well know. The archeological evidence shows that there was good amount of agriculture in the form of the more productive rice cultivation. So populations would have been high but adapted for village life with caste system. The selection pressure provided by the combination of periodic famine and smallpox would have dictated adoption of such a lifestyle. The preponderance of swords and other weapons in the Copper hoards suggest an increased adoption of violence and the start of chiefdoms. FR Allchin and George Erdozy have analysed the emergence of cities in the northern plains in these times and have supposed the emergence of chiefdoms which would increase the importance of the few bronze weapons available. Their analysis also shows an increased ability to support urban living although no urban settlements were formed. So the evidence and the hypothesis point towards the same effects – increased number of villages without urban centers. Hence the adaptation towards famine and smallpox would result in the exact findings which archaeologists have found.

The Cemetery H and Ochre coloured pottery people

Presence of two different post harappan people both cultivating rice but having a different style of pottery is intriguing. The OCP people might have been an earlier diaspora from the IVC who met with the Ganga people and survived the first contact with small pox. Being agriculturists with only small villages, they would have recovered earlier from the effects of small pox and continued their life but disconnected from the urban IVC people who were now under the effects of smallpox devastation. These disconnected OCP people might have struck out over newer areas of Western UP, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and had their own culture.

The Cemetery H people would be the more direct descendents of the IVC. After the devastation, agricultural economy would have collapsed with very low production due to the depopulation of the villages. Trade would cease especially since we are supposing the spread of small pox to the middle east as well – so nobody to trade with. The knowledge and networks built up over millennia would vanish overnight and the remnants would be forgotten in a couple of generations. Without the import of ingots and in the absence of local smelting, metal use would vanish. The few metal smelting sites might get abandoned and the metal workers would be dead or their craft forgotten. The few survivors would take up pottery again but having forgotten the previous designs and having lost the markets of Mesopotamia for their disposal would adopt different colouring and styles. The society would regress to the basic village unit. It is interesting that the Cemetery H people adopted the practice of burning the remains of the dead and burying the ashes in pots. Whereas the Harappans buried their dead in wooden coffins. It might be because the dead were afflicted and the burning was carried out to somehow rid the disease. In the last phase of Mohenjodaro the dead lay where they had fallen – as would happen in a city being abandoned by its last inhabitants and the remainder dying of smallpox. The virologists have commented on this as well.

The surviving upper classes would no longer weald the same authority. Their specialised knowledge would probably stand forgotten and only a few of the rituals and practices might be carried on in a degraded form. Not dissimilar from the way a modern priest in small wayside temple of Delhi functions – more interested in grabbing land, imperfect knowledge of Sanskrit, using a bowdlerised version of the rituals, using aggressive caste identity than scholarship and having no useful knowledge. Hence the ability to build planned cities, dykes and citadels, the administrative capability to manage a complex agricultural society would be lost. Trading instincts however are more likely to persist. So the Cemetery H people would trade with the Ochre coloured pottery people or the charcoal pit dwellers from east and south as well as the Gandhara grave culture when they arrive. The ability to navigate the Indus all the way to the Persian Gulf would have gone but the basic Indus river boat would have continued to ply as it does to this day, propelling a more basic goods trading between the small villages of the Cemetery H culture.

But just as some groups of people survive and maintain their old traditions for a long period, some at least of the upper classes of IVC would still carry on their traditions. They would forget the parts which never got used like major trade routes and canal or dyke building. But they are likely to have persisted with their small daily rituals. If some basic math or trigonometry was used in making small tanks this would continue. If in some locations people were used to building sacrificial fires, then the methods used for its construction would continue. Praying to terracotta mother goddess figurines would continue. In fact it might increase if prayer to mother goddess was presumed to save you from smallpox. And the traders might have regressed to small time trading but might persist with some of the symbols and devices used for trading – which later emerged in the punch marked coins and the weighing systems. But with much smaller population and even smaller urban settlements, it would become more and more difficult for archaeologists to unearth these artefacts. So only the copper hordes would get unearthed.

Copper would now have become precious in the absence of Omani import. The remaining copper items would be hoarded by these elites especially swords or spears. It is more likely to have been present with Cemetery H people than Ochre Coloured pottery people unless these two populations were contemporary and intermixed and the Cemetry H people traded away their copper items which found their way to the copper hoards. And so the society regressed to its village subsistence unit and continued until the equation was changed by the arrival of a new people – the Indo Aryans.

We need to posit the influence of the Indo Aryans for the post Harappans to evolve a more evolved military caste. Without bronze weapons or only hordes remaining from IVC it was not possible for these people to acquire advanced military. Any massing of lathi wielders would be difficult in the presence of small pox since concentrated foci would be decimated. Bowfighters massing would be possible but unnecessary since there was also no need for massing together into empires. Instead the need was for domination of a lower caste by an upper caste. So a group of lathi fighters with a few bowmen would be enough to oppress the poor masses since the violence needed was not to fight with neighboring chieftains but with the rising up of the masses in times of periodic famine. For that the kind of caste violence seen in villages of India right now would be all that is needed.
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Feb 2013
The Indo Aryans

Homo Sapiens from the middle east spread out to reach the corners of the world in the old stone age and this was probably from successive migrations occurring over 50,000 years and probably reached their final locations before 10,000 BC. In their local areas, they evolved to suit their local requirements. While it is difficult to be certain, probably the original homo sapiens of the middle east looked pretty much as the middle eastern people look today i.e dark hair and eyes, white skin colour. Any humans reaching close to the Equator whether in Africa, India or South East Asia would quickly evolve to get dark skin which protect against UV radiation and skin cancer. Retention of white skin in areas without so much sun would be required for making Vitamin D – and would become a greater survival advantage the further north you go. So the original European population would have evolved white skinned. The blond hair and blue hair either evolved due to random mutations which improved exposure to sun in cold climates requiring most of the skin to be covered except the face. Or as has been suggested could have been a result of sexual selection. In any case, most of the European hunter gatherer settlements before 10,000 BC would have been white skinned and have variably light hair and eyes.

The spread of agriculture started from the middle east in 7-6000 BC and resulted in a population explosion of those practicing agriculture when compared to hunter gatherers. Along with the spread of this survival advantage of agriculture spread the various language groups. Indo European language group spread out from the area around the Caspian (Azerbaijan to Ukraine to Russia) and from there to Europe and Steppes of Khazakhstan. This spread of technology and language could have occurred without much population transfer – i.e the hunter gatherer groups adopted agriculture and horse raising progressively as they encountered it – and the transfer of the technology occurred with transfer of the language as well. More likely, the technological advantage gave rise to a population explosion which made migrations possible.

Agriculture in middle east developed in Mesopotamia and Turkey (Catal Huyuk, Jericho etc) and also spread into Syria, Iraq and Egypt, carrying with it the language which was non Indo European. And hence the original local evolution of people according to climate remained intact. i.e The middle eastern people were white skinned with dark hair and the Europeans remained white skinned and light haired – probably the people who migrated into Europe faced similar selection pressures for white skin and hair as the earlier migrations and hence after mixing with the local population the advantaged phenotype emerged dominant.
Agriculture developed independently in China and Indus Valley civilization (IVC) at the same time as Caspian Sea, Turkey and Mesopotamia. They also developed their own local language without infusion from an outside influence or migration – and hence the dissimilarity with the Indo Aryan language group. Other places like Gangetic and South India and South East Asia developed agriculture at a much later period and hence doesn’t figure in these early histories. The BMAC of Bactria around the Oxus was a Bronze age civilization between 2300 BC and 1800 BC with Neolithic and chalcolithic beginnings going back to 4000 BC. It is another example of localized development of agriculture and whose language is lost (like that of the IVC) and moreover the people did not have writing.

The Indo-Europeans (IE) come from East of the Urals around the Chelyabinsk region of Russia bordering Khazakhstan, from a group of tribal people who had settled down in the Eurasian Steppes before the Bronze Age. At this time, whole of Khazakhstan (and Ukraine) was peopled by light skinned Caucasian type of people with light hair and blue eyes, if we are to believe some of the genetic analysis. They spoke in Indo European languages and herded animals. They entered the Bronze Age around 2100 BC and formed the Sintashta culture, the earliest and most developed of the larger group of the Andronovo culture, existing around 2100-1300 BC. The Petrovka-Sintashta culture was the most advanced of these cultures with complex metallurgy of copper from 2000 to 1600 BC and centered around Arkaim in the Urals. Some of these early Sintashta people migrated eastwards into Khazakhstan to form the other Andronovo cultures, which regressed into animal herders given the nature of the steppes.

In the West, in the north Caspian and Ukraine area, the IE people developed domestication of the horse from 4500 to 2500 BC, which then went East to the Sintashta region and into the Andronovo Kazakhstan. East of the Khazakhstan Steppes, in Mongolia lived the mongoloid tribals. They domesticated the wild horses found in the region around 2500 BC and ever since then they started warfare against the Andronovo and Sintashta tribals, as well as the Chinese. The Mongolians were ethnically different from the Andronovo cultures and of course their horsemanship is legendary. Their peculiar way of life meant continuous conflict of the Indo European speaking Andronovo people who were forced into continuous Westward migration along with the horse. Within the various Andronovo and other Caspean Sea IE Bronze Age cultures, because of the improved metallurgy from the Ural mountain derived copper ores, the Sintashta culture centered in the East Urals with Arkaim as the main urban center was predominant. This was a settlement where people spoke an Indo European language, did fire sacrifice and buried their dead and are the people from whom the Indo Iranians are derived. With further development of this culture, these copper using people adopted the horse raising practices of the other Andronovo people. Around 2000 BC, the Sintashta culture with large urban settlements were the only large urban settlements ever formed by Indo European people in this region. They not only practiced horse raising and copper smelting, they developed the use of horse drawn chariots and special bows and arrows for use in a specialized form of mobile chariot warfare.

The Sintashta people traded with the BMAC civilization and mainly exported copper ore. However the new development of Chariot warfare made these Indo-Aryan people the most advanced warriors this side of the Mongols. Intitially, before the development of defensive methods against chariots (which came within 100 years in Egypt after the Hykso period) - the Chariots gave great mobility against infantry and the horse was an unknown animal of tremendous power. Pressed continuously by Mongol raids, Khazakhstan was never at peace. Arkaim itself shows evidence of burning towards the end. Without the stirrup, using just a rope tied around the horse, it is difficult to have a cavalry. Only the Mongols, wedded to the horse, could use large scale cavalry warfare. Hence use of a narrow war chariot is a better way to conduct warfare using fast moving horses by more normal warriors than the Mongols. And stirrups are a much later development probably around 500 BC, when large scale cavalry warfare became possible.

So it is likely that from 1800 to 1500 BC the Sintashta people migrated. It is possible that these migrations were first triggered by the arrival of smallpox in other cities of the region with whom the Sintashta people traded. Perceiving their weakness, when pressed by the Eastern steppe nomads whether Mongol or Indo European, they would migrate first into the basin of the Oxus, which is in a direct line. So the first people whom they invaded were the BMAC cultures of the Uzbek/Tajik/East Caspian sea region, which is well established from archeological records. In all likelihood the BMAC had been debilitated by smallpox and was too weak to withstand the Indo Europeans. We know that the Anatolian, Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi regions had Hittite, Mitanni, Kassite and Hykso rule respectively for a five hundred year period from 1800 to 1300 BC and beyond. That these new invaders were horse raising people and practiced chariot warfare is evident from different types of pictures available, especially of the Hittites and the Hyksos. The Hittites themselves were probably derived from related IE people closer to the West Caspian sea (Ukraine, Azerbaijan). Mittanni is not only Indo European but Indo Aryan speaking and prayed to Mitra Varuna and Indra. Any link between Rig Veda and Mitanni has to be umbilical. The Mitanni were a super class who ruled the Hurrians and probably the lingua franca of Mitanni would not have been Indo Aryan at all. Instead Indo Aryan would just have been a language of the upper class in scriptures (like Latin or Sanskrit). Around the same time, Kassite rule in Iraq and Hykso rule in Egypt overthrowing the previous regimes also occurred. It would be easy to say that Hyksos and Kassites were also Indo-Aryan. However, it is now believed that although Hyksos and Kassites used the horse chariots, they might not have been Indo-European speakers. The only recognizable Kassite deity as far as Vedic religion is concerned is the Maruts. So perhaps these people learnt chariot warfare from the Hittites and were themselves non Indo Aryan in origin, language and religion. But they seem to fit well into a scheme of Mesopotamia being ruled by an elite speaking Indo Aryan but coming from the Steppes and practicing a different religion. The earlier Hykso conquest and rule in Egypt in 1800 BC and their worship of a storm God Seth definitely harks to an Indo Aryan theme, although most people do not believe that the Hyksos were Indo Aryan in origin, despite their horse chariot warfare and use of the compound bow.

Continuing to be pressed from their homeland in the Urals and Khazakhstan, other Indo-Iranian tribals migrated at other later times. The most important of these is the Iranians who settled first Persia around 1400 to 1200 BC (Medes and Persians). Scythians and Parthians are other big Indo Iranian migrations occurring much much later in the historical period. Most of these migrations must have been in stages – from Khazakhstan to Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and then West into Persia and East into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

So the homeland of the Indo Europeans is in the plains north of the Caspian Sea and into the Russian and Khazakh Steppes, from where they migrated to Turkey and Mesopotamia between 1800 to 1300 BC. Such a major migration and conquest could have been precipitated by the vacuum caused by a smallpox pandemic. Archeological evidence from Sintashta culture strongly suggests that it is closely linked to both the Gandhara Grave Culture, the BMAC and the Rig Veda. Linguistics also suggests the same. The Mitanni are definitely related to the Rig Vedic people based on names of Kings and people as well as their known deities. The Rig Vedic people and the Mittanni must have existed in close proximity from 1500 BC to 1350BC – since that is the time frame of the Mitanni. The close relationship between the Iranians and the Rig Vedic Aryans suggests that they evolved in close proximity perhaps in the Turkmenistan region. The Rig Vedic and Mittanni dispersals seem to have occurred in opposite directions. Mittanni went west into Syria and the Indo Aryans east into Afghanistan and India. The Iranians themselves continued to inhabit Parthia and then migrated south into Iran by 1200 BC or so. In these times, i.e 1500 BC, given the dominance of the Mittanni further West, it is possible than the entire Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan region was dominated by the Rig Vedic Indo Aryans while the tribes who later became the Medes and Persians were under the thumb of the Rig Vedic people. This would justify the major expedition of the Vedic Aryans into Syria where the Mitanni Kingdom was formed. The reverses suffered by the Mittanni and their decimation by the Assyrians and being sold into slavery and slaughter would have been a factor in the local decline of the Indo Aryans. The Medes and Persians would have seen their chance and in a major reversal would have overrun the Vedic Aryans causing their displacement into India. This would explain the animosity between the Iranians and the Indo Aryans since the Iranians seem to hate the worshippers of the Deva. Alternately the Indo Aryans of the BMAC region slowly trickled into the Afghanistan region and by 1300 AD were sufficiently massed in the region to invade the Indus basin.

The Indo Aryans of Uzbek-Tajik region and the Iranians/Persians of Turkmenistan would have been a continuum from 1600 to 1300 BC. Some of the peripheral tribes of these people would have also explored along the Afghanistan valleys and settled around the Helmand, the Kabul and the Swat rivers i.e. Sistan, Peshawar and and Swat regions. The initial settlers might have been a more peaceful sheep herding kind of people rather than the more war like core Indo Aryans and the Persians who were further west. They might not have ventured into the Indus plains which were inhabited by the Cemetery H people. Their initial numbers would have been small. Their settlements would correspond to the earliest level of the Gandhara Grave Culture (GGC) along Swat and Chitral. Instead of venturing into the agricultural plain, some of them might have ventured into the Kashmir valley which is a cold place similar to Afghanistan in weather. These people might have spoken a dialect of the Indo Aryan language and would have ultimately become the Dardic speaking people. So the Swat and Kashmir people might have been the earliest Indo Aryans to have arrived in India.

Internecine warfare between the Indo Aryans and the Persians is clearly indicated by the hatred of the ancient Persian texts for the Devas. The Indo Aryans held the Devas to be sacred and the greatest Deva of all was Indra. Indra is similar to the Iranian Verethragna but might have become more prominent in the BMAC by association with other local deities. The Persians however were violently opposed to this new God and might have extended their opposition to the other Gods of the Indo Aryan pantheon like Mitra and Nasatyas. The equivalent of the main Ahura God who became Ahura Mazda was Varuna in the Indo Aryan pantheon. Ahura and Asura are the pronounciations of the same word in Persian and Indo Aryan respectively. Varuna and other powerful Gods were indeed referred to as Asuras in the Rig Veda. Indra was the chief war god of the Indo Aryans and others who did not believe in Indra i.e. Persians might have called him Deva. Indra is always considered a younger God. So Asura would have evolved in the Sintashta dispersal whom the Indo Aryans would have called Varuna while Indra might have been a newer God who evolved in the BMAC. Persians called the Asura to be Ahura and hated the Devas i.e. everyone else other than Ahura. Conflict between the two tribes is indicated and since from 1200 the Medes and Persians were strong and numerous, it suggests that around 1400 BC the Persians prevailed over the Indo Aryans, perhaps around the same time as the defeat of the Mittanni further west. Pressed by their enemies and preferring not to be subjugated and anyway having a more nomadic animal herding life style, the Indo Aryans migrations into Afghanistan might have increased, to join their bretheren who had settled there previously. The more peaceful earlier Indo Aryan people would have been pushed by the later Indo Aryans higher into the mountains of Swat, Gilgit and Kashmir where they probably live to this day and speak a language derived from Indo Aryan, the Dardic languages i.e. Kohistani, Kashmiri etc.

The main part of the Indo Aryans settlements would have been in Afghanistan in Sistan along Helmand and Argandab and the North West Frontier Provinces in modern day Peshawar region along the sides of the Kabul river and lower Swat river. In their initial forays they would have defeated the outposts of the Cemetery H people in the region where the Kabul river joins the Indus. As we have seen, the Cemetery H people were numerous and lacking big towns and strong central authority. Unlike the IVC people, they were evolving a more aggressive upper caste and a more heavily subjugated lower caste because of the famines. The Cemetery H people were the Dasyu and would not have been any match for the Indo Aryans, who were major campaigners who had large quantities of metal weapons, composite bows and mobile chariotry. Then the Indo Aryans settled in this location extending from Kabul to Jalalabad to Peshawar to the Argandab basin, lower reaches of Swat valley and into the plains at Taxila near modern Rawalpindi. The main part of the Indo Aryan migration would have been between 1400 and 1300 BC and might correspond to layers II of the Gandhara Grave Cullture. The dates correspond well with the dates seen for GGC layer 2 which would therefore be the main Indo Aryans settlers. Layer 3 of GGC dated between 1000 and 500 BC would indicate the progressive Dasyu influence after they had been defeated and subjugated. So from simple burial in GGC1 and GGC2, in GGC3 we have a shift to burial after incineration as seen in Cemetery H culture of the Dasyu. The pottery and bronze age artefacts of the GGC 1 and 2 bear resemblance and continuity to the late BMAC settlements.

The early part of the Samhita of Rig were composed in this location near Peshawar. The Helmand and Argandep or the Kabul river joining the Indus would be the main identification of Saraswati and the Sindhu respectively. The Kabul river, after it is joined by the Swat, carries more water and this location downstream might in the main be referred to as Saraswati especially the part which floods. But other mountain streams like Swat, upper Arghandab in the Jalalabad region, upper Helmand in the Kabul region and many other similar rivers could also be called the Saraswati since the term might be generic for mountain river. But a number of descriptions suggest that there are only two rivers described in Book 1 of Rig i.e. the Sindhu and Saraswati joining the Sindhu. Both have floods in which Arya were swept away. But the Saraswati is a fast flowing mountain river which occasionally floods whereas the Sindhu is a large river with extensive floods as described in the Rig. So the Kabul river is the best identification of the Saraswati. This fits well with the later description of the sapta sindu i.e. seven rivers being the Indus, Kabul and the 5 tributaries of the Indus in Punjab. Identifying the Indus as the Sindhu is of course obvious. Called Hindu by the Persians the whole region east of the Indus is the Hindustan.

The identification of the Kabul as Saraswati is at odds with the later Nadistuti of the 10th book of Rig. The Nadistuti is obviously a later interpolation but the exact time of the interpolation gives important clues to the change in identification. It is of course possible that it was interpolated much later but 500 BC is a good date because the identification of rivers is repeated in the Yajus, Sama and Atharvan and also in the Brahmanas. So an early recast of the river names suggest that it reached the Rig around the date for recompilation of the Rig which is likely to be 500 BC. So why did the Arya forget the identification of Saraswati and call the Kabul river Kubha? One possibility is because of accretion of the legends of the Dasyu into the vocal culture of the Arya. The Dasyu would have been carrying the stories of the river which vanished and caused their decline, the Gaggar Hakra. Over the 800 years of cultural development, as the bulk of the Aryans started residing in the plains, the story of the river which vanished would have been incorporated into their lore. The Nadistuti mentions the Ganges for the first time as also Yamuna. In the whole of the Rig, it is always the land of the 7 rivers and never is the Ganges and Yamuna mentioned except here. So the legend of the Ganga Yamuna Saraswati seems to have been prevalent even at this early date of 500 BC and seeped into the Veda during recompilation. And having mis-identified the Saraswati – perhaps by popular demand of the people or by slow corruption of the original stories, the Kabul became Kubha and the Saraswati a river lost a millennium ago. If this happened – which is likely, this tells us that the Dasyu legends were very much a part of the Vedic lore by then – although not within the Vedic hymns. And hence when the hymns were codified and fixed in 500 BC, many Brahmins believing in the legend of the lost Saraswati would have inserted the hymn into the Veda – perhaps like the Atharva, it was circulating for centuries before being recognised.

The Avesta was written in its final form during the Achemenid empire (pre-500 BC). The actual hymns are perhaps many centuries more ancient maybe from 1000 BC. But the final form was during the height of the Acheminid empire which had writing - and plenty of it - not only old Persian but Akkadian and Aramaic. Avesta is of course of Indo Iranian language derivation, the Persians probably coming from the East Caspian Turkmenistan region after the Medes who also came from the same area between 1200 and 600 BC in successive waves. However, after composition and inscription of the Avesta into royal tablets (possibly written in old Persian and now lost – destroyed by Greek invasion according to fable) they were then committed to the memory of priests who preserved it by oral tradition for a few hundred centuries – without writing - until they were again written down in Pehlavi and later after the Parsis came to India, in scripts derived from Brahmi. Something very very similar is likely to have happened with the Rig.

The Sintashta and the BMAC dont have writing. Sintashta culture probably moved west and south under Mongol or other tribal invasions. Definite evidence of BMAC being replaced by Andronovo cultures after 1800 BC exists – proving the migration and its date. The Satapatha Brahmana has very definite evidence of Mesopotamian influence including the story of a flood with a giant fish – That is Gilgamesh (and the much later Matsya avatara story of Puranic Hinduism) and is likely a relic from the interaction of the Indo Aryan people with the Mesopotamians. At one point, the entire extent all along the south Caspian i.e. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, northern Iran along Caspian, Northern Iraq near Mosul and into Syria must have been under the sway of the Indo Aryans although they could not maintain this for long. At that time, the story of Gilgamesh must have found its way into the earliest version of the Brahmana which was later enlarged. The period was too remote for them to have learned Aramaic or other writing and in any case the bulk of the people who went west were the Mittanni who definitely learned cuneiform writing evidenced by the Kikuli tablet but were annihilated by their enemies. The remainder probably retreated back into the BMAC and being hard pressed by their Persian cousins, probably stayed only for a couple of hundred years in the BMAC from 1600 to 1400 BC. Writing was probably not important for their way of life. Their stay in Afghanistan Peshawar region was the longest, from 1400 BC till the coming of Persians and Greeks in 500 BC. After contact with the Achemenid empire in 500 BC they did learn writing in the form of Kharoshti and post Mauryan invasion they wrote in Brahmi script. The other possibility that the story of Gilgamesh came with the Greeks does not gel with the present projected date for writing of the Brahmanas.

The Indo Aryans who came to India had many characteristics needed for settling the north Indian plains. They had a village centric life ideally suited for living in the time of small pox. They were already exposed to small pox in their times in the BMAC and other regions or had been exposed in their northern homes themselves – a reason for abandoning the city life of the Sintashta and becoming pastoralists despite advanced metallurgy. So they lived in villages but still had horse drawn weapons and chariots. Colonising the post Harappan plains was clearly their destiny.
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Feb 2013
The Rig Veda

Since the Rig Veda Samhita is the earliest source for information about these people a reading of it from the online sacred-texts upload i.e. Griffith’s translation is illuminating. The following comments are based on reading Books 1 through to about half of book 10. The last book is of a different vintage than the rest of the Rig Veda. The contents are different, the language is different and most commentators hold it to be of later composition. As such the reading of Book 10 is better left to be done in conjunction with the Atharvan and the Brahmanas. But having covered the Nadistuti and Purusha Sukta, I will be looking at them in the appropriate area.

Despite the opinion of many commentators, a reading of the Rig gives an impression of continuity and sequence i.e. the first books seems like the beginning. As already discussed the last book feels like the last addition and within the other books also, the sequence seems maintained. So in book 1 the scenery is more mountainous with swift streams corresponding to the Arghandeb and Peshawar region. Subsequently the scene shifts to the Punjab going further and further east and for the most part stays within Punjab and doesn’t go into the Ganges basin except in later interpolations of book 10. It is reasonable to assume that when the Rig was compiled, the priests knew exactly what the sequence was by tradition, which was much closer to them than our remote reading and hence compiled it according to the correct sequence.

The main issues to be solved are the location of the terrain, the Saraswati river, the relationship of the Rig Vedic people with the local people and also exactly how the integration of these two disparate cultures was accomplished. The way of life of the Arya is already well commented upon and described, forming as it does the vast majority of the Rig. Any glimmer of the way of life of the native population is the main thing to look for. In addition, differences from the normal usual life of the Aryans as explained by previous commentators – things ascribed to them which are not being evident – would also throw some light on what came into the culture from those who lived in the land before the Arya. The most glaring of these is the complete absence of the caste system in the Rig. But more on that later.

Most hymns in the first book are to Indra and Agni who carries the prayers to the Gods. Varuna, is not important in the first book except in one part. He seems to be considered the older and wiser God, keeping things in order and one whom you would fear if you break the laws. Mitra is similar but less often addressed. Mitra, Varuna and any of the Gods being addressed as the most important and ancient - are called Asura. So in this period of the Rig Veda, the important Gods are called the Asura, same as the Ahura of the Iranian people. The Gods are almost never addressed as Devas. The term Viswedevas (all Gods) is there in the title of the hymn, but not in the hymn themselves. So perhaps the Viswedevas in the title came later while arranging and compiling the Veda. Asura is mainly the name of Varuna but sometimes Indra in being praised is also called Asura. There are in the whole of Rig about four verses which are ambiguous about Asura, with a negative rather than a positive and glorifying sense. It is possible that these are either of later vintage – since these occur in the later books – or perhaps mistakes. Such mentions in book 10 should of course be analysed differently. The overall arrangement of each book is similar – hymns to Agni start off every book, then hymns to other Gods, then a major part extolling Indra, then calling on the other Gods. Towards the end are more unusual hymns which are either individual poetry by the main composers on odd topics or in some instances they could be later interpolations.

Throughout the Rig, there are numerous references to stories which are now lost – about people and events which at the time of composition would have been the topic of legend and folklore. But reading them now is baffling – just a glimpse - a fragment of a story which would have been talked about in detail by the people. Strangely, these stories are in many cases different in the different books. Some stories are repeated in every book, almost by rote – like the killing of Vritra, the rescue of the cattle from the mountain of Vala, the killing of Ahi, the killing of Vishna, the destruction of the forts of Sambara – these are repeated ad nauseum, as if the hymn could not be written without extolling the major exploits of Indra. Sometimes when another God is being praised, these exploits are also shifted to the other God. The Dasa and Dasyu killing is also talked about in this fashion and hence it becomes necessary to analyse each of these instances to see whether it is giving actual detail or whether it is just blind repetition which is unhelpful in drawing conclusions. But the other special stories about individual people are unfamiliar and strange. They don’t repeat and instead in each book another group of such stories are written.

Rig Veda 1.1.1 is a simple prayer to Agni as priest, bestower of wealth. These type of prayers are boringly repetitive and with the same theme - praise for the God being addressed and request for health or wealth or might in battle. So 1.2 is prayers to Vayu and Mitra Varuna, 1.3 to Asvins, Nasatyas, Indra, Vishvedevas - addressed in sequence like in any mantra sequence. Last three lines mention Saraswati

“10 Wealthy in spoil, enriched with hymns, may bright Sarasvatī desire, With eager love, our sacrifice.
11 Inciter of all pleasant songs, inspirer of all gracious thought, Sarasvatī accept our rite
12 Sarasvatī, the mighty flood,—she with her light illuminates, She brightens every pious thought”

So Saraswati the river which floods as referred above is important and subsequently is repetitive. Amu Darya, Helmand in the lower reaches, Kabul river and Indus can flood in these regions and which have open area good for animal grazing. Of these, the Kabul river seems more probable given absence of more severe cold of Uzbekistan and Helmand regions of Afghanistan where the winters are pretty cold and goes sub zero. Pakistan i.e Punjab and NWFP has much better temperatures which doesnt dip much below zero except for a few days. Peshawar on the Kabul river has much better weather than the other side of the Khyber pass in Kabul. So the flooding river could just be Kabul river and Indus would be the Sindu. The area would be good for animal husbandry especially for cows and horses. Across the Indus the post harappan lands and the forests start. But the Peshawar area has gentler climate than Afghanistan and could be a good climate to settle in. The Kabul river would be a better place to settle than in Helmand river basin or the high mountains where the Hazara graze goats and if a people are migrating from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, they are more likely to come to Peshawar, displacing the previous Dardic peope to higher reaches of the mountains. The mention of spoil in the verses above is interesting. It suggests that on the banks of the Saraswati lived a people who could be looted. Which suggests the banks of the Kabul river before it joins the Indus and the west bank of the Indus along which cemetery H culture was living.
The evidence from the Iranians is however more in keeping with Afghanistan. The Iranians called the Saraswati as Haraxwati, just as they called Asura as Ahura. The Iranians say that the Haraxwati flows in the Sistan and Khandahar regions of Afghanistan. This is recorded by the Greeks as well. That suggests that it was either the Helmand – which floods as per above description – or the Argandeb which joins the Helmand.

Most likely the Saraswati of the Veda refers to a number of swift flowing rivers. It might even refer to the Oxus in historicity though this is very very unlikely. Not impossible if the priesthood preserved portions of the hymns used during the BMAC sojourn. More likely it refers to the swift mountain streams of the Afghanistan and NWFP i.e. Argandab, Helmand, Kabul and Swat rivers – since the later names Swastu and Kubha are not referred to in the Rig Veda despite the Indus being repeatedly referred to and the other 5 rivers of the Punjab also being referred to but not the Kabul or Swat till the 10th chapter. The ghandhara Grave culture was definitely living along the Swat and similar burrial sites in the Helmand region are currently unfortunately in the hands of the Pushtun Taliban. But previous excavations suggest a large burial culture along the Helmand similar to the Swat. So the obvious conclusion is either the Swat Kabul system which I prefer because flows into the Indus or the Argandeb Helmand system. It could mean mountain stream and hence both.

Coming back to the Veda, the prayers to Indra are numerous, called Satakratu and Vritra slayer, Sakra wealth giver and son of Kusika, rider of chariot drawn by bay horses and who burst the mountain to bring the kine, crusher of forts, who overthrew the wily Susna. Although the terms crusher of forts and destroyer of the serpent brings to mind the possible allegory towards the clouds and rain, more likely it is actual physical destruction of the forts of the Dasyu. Like the lightning cleaving the clouds to bring the rain, the power of the Arya in inflicting powerful damage on the forts of the locals is referred. Prayers to Agni, called Narasamsa, and appointed by Manu as priest suggest the importance of Manu as the original Man – a theme which is repeated throughout the Rig. Calling a lot of Gods and Godesses who are also frequently addressed and are not unimportant to prayer is a recurrent feature. The composers, like the Kanvas for this part, are frequently named.

Vishnu makes first appearance as usual as the strider - who made the three strides. Also called a guardian Vishnu has reasonable importance in the Rig. Clearly the later Epics and Puranas invented the Vamana avatara stories to fit around this legend which is of the most ancient and has nothing to do with the Dasavatara stories. Sloka 11 comes in the sandhya vandana which would have been memorised after thread ceremony. 1.25 has more prayers to Varuna. Prayer order is different from what is found in the daily use Sandhya vandana - probably these same are rearranged in the Yajur Veda. Varuna is described as wearing golden mail.

11 I ask this of thee with my prayer adoring; thy worshipper craves this with his oblation.
Varuṇa, stay thou here and be not angry; steal not our life from us, O thou Wide-Ruler.
तत तवा यामि बरह्मणा वन्दमानस्तदा शास्ते यजमानो हविर्भिः |
अहेळमानो वरुणेह बोध्युरुशंस मा न आयुःप्र मोषीः ||
यच्चिद धि ते विशो यथा पर देव वरुण वरतम |
मिनीमसिद्यवि-दयवि ||
इमं मे वरुण शरुधी हवमद्या च मर्ळय |
तवामवस्युरा चके ||

1.32 Here we have the main Indra legend about the slaying of Vritra. Using the thunderbolt Vajra, fashioned by Tvastar, he kills the serpent. The fort referred to here are the clouds and Indra is the God of thunder and Vajra is his lightning splitting the clouds. These dont mean actual forts. And the demon is called a snake.

1 I WILL declare the manly deeds of Indra, the first that he achieved, the Thunder-wielder.
He slew the Dragon, then disclosed the waters, and cleft the channels of the mountain torrents.
2 He slew the Dragon lying on the mountain: his heavenly bolt of thunder Tvaṣṭar fashioned.
Like lowing kine in rapid flow descending the waters glided downward to the ocean.
3 Impetuous as a bull, he chose the Soma and in three sacred beakers drank the juices.
Maghavan grasped the thunder for his weapon, and smote to death this firstborn of the dragons.
4 When, Indra, thou hadst slain the dragon's firstborn, and overcome the charms of the enchanters,
Then, giving life to Sun and Dawn and Heaven, thou foundest not one foe to stand against thee.
5 Indra with his own great and deadly thunder smote into pieces Vṛtra, worst of Vṛtras.
As trunks of trees, what time the axe hath felled them, low on the earth so lies the prostrate Dragon.
6 He, like a mad weak warrior, challenged Indra, the great impetuous many-slaying Hero.
He, brooking not the clashing of the weapons, crushed—Indra's foe—the shattered forts in falling.
7 Footless and handless still he challenged Indra, who smote him with his bolt between the shoulders.
Emasculate yet claiming manly vigour, thus Vṛtra lay with scattered limbs dissevered.
8 There as he lies like a bank-bursting river, the waters taking courage flow above him.
The Dragon lies beneath the feet of torrents which Vṛtra with his greatness had encompassed.
9 Then humbled was the strength of Vṛtra's mother: Indra hath cast his deadly bolt against her.
The mother was above, the son was under and like a cow beside her calf lay Danu.
10 Rolled in the midst of never-ceasing currents flowing without a rest for ever onward.
The waters bear off Vṛtra's nameless body: the foe of Indra sank to during darkness.

This is one of the most detailed descriptions for the slaying of Vritra the serpent dragon. This simply has to be inspired by the impressive clouds of the monsoon being called as a fort and the deluge following the cloud burst with thunder and lightning, which brings the much needed water for the cattle to prosper. Clearly this would need to be composed in Peshawar where the monsoon would be visible dramatically rather than in Helmand province.

But in addition the impressive show of strength is immediately applied to the other foes faced by the Arya i.e. the Dasyu, in the next following verse

11 Guarded by Ahi stood the thralls of Dāsas, the waters stayed like kine held by the robber.
But he, when he had smitten Vṛtra, opened the cave wherein the floods had been imprisoned.
12 A horse's tail wast thou when he, O Indra, smote on thy bolt; thou, God without a second,
Thou hast won back the kine, hast won the Soma; thou hast let loose to flow the Seven Rivers.
13 Nothing availed him lightning, nothing thunder, hailstorm or mist which had spread around him:
When Indra and the Dragon strove in battle, Maghavan gained the victory for ever.
14 Whom sawest thou to avenge the Dragon, Indra, that fear possessed thy heart when thou hadst slain him;
That, like a hawk affrighted through the regions, thou crossedst nine-and-ninety flowing rivers?
15 Indra is King of all that moves and moves not, of creatures tame and horned, the Thunder-wielder.
Over all living men he rules as Sovran, containing all as spokes within the felly.

So the slaying of the dragon is a myth inspired by the thirsting people waiting for the monsoon and the power is invoked for strength in fighting. But in addition the description of the foe is interesting. Guarded by a dragon – does it mean that the Dasas were worshippers of an alien God? The power of the sorcerers also suggests the same alien beliefs. Thralls of Dasas sounds like a big army of footsoldiers, an enslaved fighting group pushed by the leaders who worship alien Gods. The cattle owned by these people might be the reason why the Arya were raiding them – the Dasyu too were cattle raisers just like the Arya and hid them in guarded stalls or perhaps even caves or mountain ravines – obviously to hide them from the lustful eyes of the Arya.

Later descriptions are even more interesting:

1.33.4 Thou slewest with thy bolt the wealthy Dasyu, alone, yet going with thy helpers, Indra!
Far from the floor of heaven in all directions, the ancient riteless ones fled to destruction.
5 Fighting with pious worshippers, the riteless turned and fled, Indra! with averted faces.
When thou, fierce Lord of the Bay Steeds, the Stayer, blewest from earth and heaven and sky the godless.
6 They met in fight the army of the blameless: then the Navagvas put forth all their power.
They, like emasculates with men contending, fled, conscious, by steep paths from Indra, scattered.
7 Whether they weep or laugh, thou hast o’erthrown them, O Indra, on the sky's extremest limit.
The Dasyu thou hast burned from heaven, and welcomed the prayer of him who pours the juice and lauds thee.
8 Adorned with their array of gold and jewels, they o’er the earth a covering veil extended.
Although they hastened, they o’ercame not Indra: their spies he compassed with the Sun of morning.
9 As thou enjoyest heaven and earth, O Indra, on every side surrounded with thy greatness,
So thou with priests hast blown away the Dasyu, and those who worship not with those who worship.
10 They who pervaded earth's extremest limit subdued not with their charms the Wealth-bestower:
Indra, the Bull, made his ally the thunder, and with its light milked cows from out the darkness.
11 The waters flowed according to their nature; he raid the navigable streams waxed mighty.
Then Indra, with his spirit concentrated, smote him for ever with his strongest weapon.
12 Indra broke through Ilībiśa's strong castles, and Śuṣṇa with his horn he cut to pieces:
Thou, Maghavan, for all his might and swiftness, slewest thy fighting foeman with thy thunder
13 Fierce on his enemies fell Indra's weapon: with. his sharp bull he rent their forts in pieces.
He with his thunderbolt dealt blows on Vṛtra; and conquered, executing all his purpose.
14 Indra, thou helpest Kutsa whom thou lovedst, and guardedst brave Daśadyu when he battled,
The dust of trampling horses rose to heaven, and Śvitrā's son stood up again for conquest.
15 Śvitrā's mild steer, O Maghavan thou helpest in combat for the land, mid Tugra's houses.
Long stood they there before the task was ended: thou wast the master of the foemen's treasure.

The wealth of the Dasyu is patent. He has cattle, he has gold, he is riteless i.e. not Aryan. Dasyu had spies, they were in large numbers and covered the ground – a major army. The battle ground was steep so it is set in the hills. It is likely that this was a foray of the Arya from Afghanistan into Peshawar region and the area was well defended by the local people. Dasyu seems to stand for the unGodly enemies, whom Indra helps the Arya to kill while the term Dasa seems to be for the native people in general. So Dasyu would be the term for this group of riteless people whereas Dasa would be for the same common people or their footsoldiers without reference to their religion. The forts here seem more like real forts and could be the smaller towns seen during the post Harappan phase. The defenders knew the area well and must have fortified to guard against the barbarian Aryans hordes whom they knew were massing outside. The Dasyu are named – Ilibisa and Susna. Susna is repeatedly referred to in other hymns later and the initial defender must have made an impression to be referred to so many times later. The hymn shows that the Arya were a fighting people and looted the forts they won and the foeman’s treasure was evidently repeatedly gathered, since these verses of gathering booty and rending forts are repeated throughout the Rig. But this is one of the most detailed descriptions of the fight against the Dasyu, other references are just passing repetitions. People are named in 1.36. Perhaps these hymns were composed after every fight and Indra is said to help the returning fighters - a sensible explanation. So the Yadu would be a group of fighters from one of the important fighting families.

1.35. 9 The golden-handed Savitar, far-seeing, goes on his way between the earth and heaven,
Drives away sickness, bids the Sun approach us, and spreads the bright sky through the darksome region.
10 May he, gold-handed Asura, kind Leader, come hither to us with his help and favour.
Driving off Rākṣasas and Yātudhānas, the God is present, praised in hymns at evening.

Here Savitar is also called Asura. So Mitra, Varuna, Agni,and Savitar and a few others would be the more ancient great Gods from an ancestral memory and Indra, Maruts and Aswins would be the newer and younger Gods more closely identified with these specific people. Rakshasas and Yatudhanas or vampires are more likely mythical enemies than actual ones. I doubt if it refers to cannibal practices. Some of the hymns like 1.41 have intriguing wording of prayers to Varuna and are quite difficult to understand even in English and might indicate a more mystic hymn, whose significance would need commentary from a teacher or senior priest.

1.42. 2 Drive, Pūṣan, from our road the wolf, the wicked inauspicious wolf,
Who lies in wait to injure us.
3 Who lurks about the path we take, the robber with a guileful heart:
Far from the road chase him away.

The wolf is the main predator in the majority of the Rig, repeatedly referred to. Later the wolf references reduce but the tiger and leopard don’t appear which is significant. It is impossible for anyone to live in India and not refer to the tiger. The number of references also suggest the wolf was a major predator and although the references die down in the later books, till book 9 the wolf is the main predator. Later the lion makes an appearance but not the tiger. But in the Atharva Veda and the other Vedic texts, the tiger is a major participant. So this again point to the Peshawar region as the most likely location since wolf is there but tiger is not there and lions which were present in Afghanistan are infrequent.

There are no epidemics referred to in Rig. Mention of many diseases like jaundice in this book (1.50.11) where the poet says remove my yellow colour and give it to parrots and starlings or to the Haritala trees and other diseases find later mention. Dasyu is always the non-follower. But no further description. Sambara makes an appearance here – later his 99 forts being destroyed by the Arya finds repeated mention. The effective use of archery in breaching the defence of the Dasyu who seem to have numerous followers but mainly footsoldiers without the horse chariot or much archery if they were so easily routed.

6 Thou savedst Kutsa when Śuṣṇa was smitten down; to Atithigva gavest Śambara for a prey.
E’en mighty Arbuda thou troddest under foot: thou from of old wast born to strike the Dasyus dead.
8 Discern thou well Āryas and Dasyus; punishing the lawless give them up to him whose grass is strewn.
The Strong hath loosed his bolt with the swift rush of rain, and he hath rent in pieces Śuṣṇa's firm-built forts.

In the hymn below, the line giver of barley is interesting. Rice is never mentioned in the Rig, but barley is. Taking away our poverty indicates a poor existence before the Arya conquer the Dasyu. Freed from their hate – this line seems to suggest that the Dasyu had the better locations and must have been in the lower valley of the Kabul river and on either sides of the Indus. They obviously hated the Arya and were loth to give up their positions. In any drought they would have access to the major source of water from the snow melt Indus and obviously displacing them would have been the primary aim of the Arya. There might have been repeated battles before this objective was achieved, if the Dasyu were fortified and well entrenched. But the defender of the Khyber pass has always fallen in history. Dasyu were no exception and the descriptions of falling to the arrows suggest an easy rout.

1.53.2 Giver of horses, Indra, giver, thou, of kine, giver of barley, thou art Lord and guard of wealth:
4 Well pleased with these bright flames and with these Soma drops,
take thou away our poverty with seeds and kine.
With Indra scattering the Dasyu through these drops, freed from their hate may we obtain abundant food.
7 Thou goest on from fight to fight intrepidly, destroying castle after castle here with strength.
Thou, Indra, with thy friend who makes the foe bow down, slewest from far away the guileful Namuci.
8 Thou hast struck down in death Karañja, Parṇaya, in Atithigva's very glorious going forth.
Unyielding, when Ṛjiśvan compassed them with siege, thou hast destroyed the hundred forts of Vaṅgṛida.
9 With all-outstripping chariot-wheel, O Indra, thou far-famed, hast overthrown the twice ten Kings of men,
With sixty thousand nine-and-ninety followers, who came in arms to fight with friendless Suśravas.
10 Thou hast protected Suśravas with succour, and Tūrvayāṇa with thine aid, O Indra.
Thou madest Kutsa, Atithigva, Āyu, subject unto this King, the young, the mighty.
11 May we protected by the Gods hereafter remain thy very prosperous friends, O Indra.
Thee we extol, enjoying through thy favour life long and joyful and with store of heroes.

Again the foes are named above – Namuci, Karamja, Parnaya. Here the hundred forts are of Vangrida and not Sambara – perhaps every ford of the next river needed defeat of the forts on the other side. So the forts on the Khyber pass were Susna, this side of the Indus were Vangrida and his named allies, after that came Sambara and so on with the subsequent 5 tributaries of the Indus in Punjab. The enemies are made to run in crowds in the next hymn.

4 The ridges of the lofty heaven thou madest shake; thou, daring, of thyself smotest through Śambara,
When bold with gladdening juice, thou warredst with thy bolt,
sharp and two-edged, against the banded sorcerers.
5 When with a roar that fills the woods, thou forcest down on wind's head the stores which Śuṣṇa kept confined,
6 Thou helpest Narya, Turvaśa, and Yadu, and Vayya's son Turvīti, Śatakratu!
Thou helpest horse and car in final battle thou breakest down the nine-and-ninety castles.
10 There darkness stood, the vault that stayed the waters’ flow:
in Vṛtra's hollow side the rain-cloud lay concealed.
But Indra smote the rivers which the obstructer stayed, flood following after flood, down steep declivities.
11 So give us, Indra, bliss-increasing glory give us great sway and strength that conquers people.
Preserve our wealthy patrons, save our princes; vouchsafe us wealth and food with noble offspring.
6 Now will I tell the greatness of the Hero whom Pūru's sons follow as Vṛtra's slayer:
Agni Vaiśvānara struck down the Dasyu, cleave Śambara through and shattered down his fences.

Smiting the enemy Sambara is combined with a description as banded sorcerers suggesting different religious beliefs which were much hated by the Arya. The Dasyu is also repeatedly compared to the dragon who stays the water which suggests that they were guarding the access to rivers which the Arya wanted. The words steep declivities again suggests that the action is now in Peshawar region and in the foothills before the Indus plain. This section of the first book seems like the earliest descriptions of the conquest of the region. The prayers are written by one group of priests the Kanvas who might have been the main tribe involved in the hostilities. Cleaving Sambara might indicate sword usage – since bronze swords were present in the GGC burials.

1.60 starts with more agni prayers by Gotamas. This section composed by the Gotamas is also simple like the Kanvas, although prayers to Agni are more fanciful and quite elegantly descriptive of how the fire spreads and dances. The boar demon is repeated many times.

1.62. 3 When Indra and the Aṅgirases desired it, Saramā found provision for her offspring.
Bṛhaspati cleft the mountain, found the cattle: the heroes shouted with the kine in triumph.
4 Mid shout, loud shout, and roar, with the Navagvas, seven singers, hast thou, heavenly, rent the mountain;
Thou hast, with speeders, with Daśagvas, Indra, Śakra, with thunder rent obstructive Vala.

The Rakshasas below are defilers of the sacrifice and could be wandering bandits and robbers who attack the Arya in isolation. They could even be isolated magicians or followers of other religions found in the region. The Rakshasas were the demons (and not the Asuras) in the ancient period.

1.76.3 Burn thou up all the Rākṣasas, O Agni; ward thou off curses from our sacrifices.

Many mentions of the rains bringing water to a parched land are there. Now the Indus is fed by glaciers. So it is likely the Kabul river that they are speaking of and the valley slopes on which the cattle would need to graze.

1.95. 16 This prayer of ours may Varuṇa grant, and Mitra, and Aditi and Sindhu, Earth and Heaven.

The last line is repeated in this group of hymns. The sense of Sindu is more of generic for river than for one specific river and more in the sense of a Goddess. I wonder what Simyu means – suggests that these were tribal appellations and the locals called themselves Dasyu.

1.100.18 He, much invoked, hath slain Dasyus and Śimyus, after his wont, and laid them low with arrows.
The mighty Thunderer with his fair-complexioned friends won the land, the sunlight, and the waters.

The Arya are the fair complexioned friends above. Elsewhere there are a couple of references to Dasyu having dark skin but only few and occasional references to skin colour. Again comes a list of foe names below (including Vyasa) and forts being struck down below:

1.101.2 Indra, who with triumphant wrath smote Vyaṁsa down, and Śambara, and Pipru the unrighteous one;
Who extirpated Śuṣṇa the insatiate,—him girt by Maruts we invoke to be our Friend.
5 He who is Lord of all the world that moves and breathes, who for the Brahman first before all found the Cows;
Indra who cast the Dasyus down beneath his feet,—him girt by Maruts we invoke to be our Friend.

1.103.2 He spread the wide earth out and firmly fixed it, smote with his thunderbolt and loosed the waters.
Maghavan with his puissance struck down Ahi, rent Rauhiṇa to death and slaughtered Vyaṁsa.
3 Armed with his bolt and trusting in his prowess he wandered shattering the forts of Dāsas.
Cast thy dart, knowing, Thunderer, at the Dasyu; increase the Ārya's might and glory, Indra.
4 For him who thus hath taught these human races, Maghavan, bearing a fame-worthy title,
Thunderer, drawing nigh to slay the Dasyus, hath given himself the name of Son for glory.

8 As thou hast smitten Śuṣṇa, Pipru, Vṛtra and Kuyava, and Śambara's forts, O Indra.
This prayer of ours may Varuṇa grant, and Mitra, and Aditi and Sindhu, Earth and Heaven.

After the victory seems to come the rooting out of the enemy and despatching him as below:

1.104.2 2 These men have come to Indra for assistance: shall he not quickly come upon these pathways?
May the Gods quell the fury of the Dāsa, and may they lead our folk to happy fortune.
4 This hath his kinship checked who lives beside us: with ancient streams forth speeds and rules the Hero,
Añjasī, Kuliśī, and Virapatnī, delighting him, bear milk upon their waters.
5 Soon as this Dasyu's traces were discovered, as she who knows her home, he sought the dwelling.
Now think thou of us, Maghavan, nor cast us away as doth a profligate his treasure.

It is almost as if the Aryas were seeking out the forts where these people lived and striking them down. Now after 1700 BC, there were only settlements of the Cemery H people along the Indus. These must be the forts being broken. The Cemetery H culture were living in very numerous small villages with mud brick huts, just like you have in the villages of India even now. These might be the people who were sought out and destroyed by the Aryans after destroying their main forts. Definitely these descriptions cannot be for the other Indo Aryan tribes, since they wouldnt live in forts.

1.105Yet torturing cares consume me as the wolf assails the thirsty deer.
18 A ruddy wolf beheld me once, as I was faring on my path.

The wolf again as the main predator. That means Afghanistan and maximum NWFP. Leopard, snow leopards and persian leopards are well known in the entire region as also lions during this part of history, but suggest a location in Peshawar rather than the Sistan region of Afghanistan.

HYMN CXII. Aśvins.
14 Ye from the wolf's jaws, as ye stood together, set free the quail, O Heroes, O Nāsatyas.
Ye, Lords of many treasures, gave the poet his perfect vision as he mourned his trouble.
15 When in the time of night, in Khela's battle, a leg was severed like a wild bird's pinion,
Straight ye gave Viśpalā a leg of iron that she might move what time the conflict opened.
16 His father robbed Ṛjrāśva of his eyesight who for the she-wolf slew a hundred wethers.
Ye gave him eyes, Nāsatyas, Wonder-Workers, Physicians, that he saw with sight uninjured.
17 The Daughter of the Sun your car ascended, first reaching as it were the goal with coursers.
All Deities within their hearts assented, and ye, Nāsatyas, are close linked with glory.
18 When to his house ye came, to Divodāsa, hasting to Bharadvāja, O ye Aśvins,
The car that came with you brought splendid riches: a porpoise and a bull were yoked together.
23 To Viśvaka, Nāsatyas! son of Kṛṣṇa, the righteous man who sought your aid and praised you,
Ye with your powers restored, like some lost creature, his son Viṣṇāpū for his eyes to look on.
The Daughter of the Sun with all her glory, O ye Nāsatyas, chose your car to bear her.
16 The quail had invocated you, O Aśvins, when from the wolf's devouring jaws ye freed her.
With conquering car ye cleft the mountain's ridges: the offspring of Viśvāc ye killed with poison.
17 He whom for furnishing a hundred wethers to the she-wolf, his wicked father blinded,—
To him, Ṛjrāśva, gave ye eyes, O Aśvins; light to the blind ye sent for perfect vision.
18 To bring the blind man joy thus cried the she-wolf: O Aśvins, O ye Mighty Ones, O Heroes,
For me Ṛjrāśva, like a youthful lover, hath. cut piecemeal one and a hundred wethers.
Blasting away the Dasyu with your trumpet, ye gave far-spreading light unto the Ārya.

There are clearly stories associated with the hymns above with which the people would be well associated. These stories are now lost. The five tribes seems to be their own appellation for the Aryas, they were originally 5 tribes. The stories are very numerous and not at all known in our current mythology. A few of the more prominent names from the Veda like Daksha or Sambara are mentioned again in the Puranas but completely different stories are invented about them. So the Puranic stories tried to recreate a lost memory by new invention because the tribal lore with which these hymns were associated were now lost. Many stories about people being lost in the floods is another recurring story.

1.119. 4 Ye came to Bhujyu while he struggled in the flood, with flying birds, self-yoked, ye bore him to his sires
1.122. 14 The sea and all the Deities shall give us him with the golden ear and neck bejewelled.

The sea is referred to many times. So these people would perhaps go down Sind to the Sea. Quite a fair distance. Caspian sea is less likely given the descriptions. Vaksh and Oxus do flood and can carry people away. But even if these were recent memories, with the Dasyu being described, these memories were now transferred to the Kabul river, the Indus and the Arabian sea. I doubt if the Oxus would ever be be called Sindhu. So it is safe to assume that these many stories are of the Kabul river which is notorious for flash floods, the Indus and the sea is the Arabian sea. There is absolutely no sense of any other homeland or a place from which the Arya have been defeated or displaced. So a slow migration into Afghanistan and then an invasion and shift into Punjab is the obvious interpretation

1. To Indra Dyaus the Asura hath bowed him down, to Indra mighty Earth with wide-extending tracts,
to win the light, with wide-spread tracts.
3 Couples desirous of thine aid are storming thee, pouring their presents forth to win a stall of kine,
pouring gifts, Indra, seeking thee.
Thou hast chastised, O Indra, Lord of Strength, the man who worships not,
And made thine own this great earth and these water-floods; with joyous heart these water-floods
Their battle-cry thou madest sound victorious in the shocks of war.
One stream after another have they gained from thee, eager for glory have they gained.
6 Indra and Parvata, our champions in the fight, drive ye away each man who fain would war with us,
drive him far from us with the bolt.

The reason for war was the need for water. This is made abundantly clear by constant repetition. The quest for booty and cattle of course gave added impetus.

1. WITH sacrifice I purge both earth and heaven: I burn up great she-fiends who serve not Indra,
Where throttled by thy hand the foes were slaughtered, and in the pit of death lay pierced and mangled.
2 O thou who castest forth the stones crushing the sorceresses’ heads,
Break them with thy wide-spreading foot, with thy wide-spreading mighty foot.
3 Do thou, O Maghavan, beat off these sorceresses' daring strength.
Cast them within the narrow pit. within the deep and narrow pit.

I wonder exactly what these sorcerers and sorceresses are. Maybe just mythical superstition related to the Rakshasas.

HYMN CLI. Mitra and Varuṇa
4 The people prospers, Asuras! whom ye dearly love: ye, Righteous Ones, proclaim aloud the Holy Law.
That efficacious power that comes from lofty heaven, ye bind unto the work, as to the pole an ox.

Strange that immediately after the fight, mention comes of ploughing and agriculture. Once in the plains around Indus, the Aryans would adopt the local agricultural practices in the more fertile region, probably using the Dasas to do the work.
Feb 2013
1.164: Very complex hymn with obscure meaning. Speaks of how the world was created and what it means. Very different from all the preceeding and describes how the important things in their life came about. I will return to this section of the Rig when I discuss Vedic astronomy. Note the marked difference between this creation hymn and the Purusha Sukta which comes in the 10th chapter. Highly suggestive of a completely different system being interpolated into the Veda in the 10th book. These set of hymns are quite philosophical and complex. A good teacher can use these and wax eloquent. So not every hymn is practical and simple, some of the poets have made quite thoughtful and very deep hymns. Couple of mentions of deer – since it is likelier to find more deer in the Punjab than in Afghanistan. The lion and the spotted deer figure frequently and the wolf is no longer so frequently mentioned. The following hymn shows the changed perspective regarding the tilling of fields in addition to mentioning the lion. The Dasa’s deadly weapon might have been the axe since in another occasion in a later book, the axe fighters are mentioned in close proximity to the Dasas. Although not explicit, we know that the Cemetery H people had long handled bronze axes and it is a reasonable assumption – and also the reason why the Dasyu lost. Axe fighters are no match for chariot mounted archery as shown by many wars in the middle east between Hyksos, Mittanni, Kassites and Hittites.

1.174. 1. THOU art the King of all the Gods, O Indra: protect the men, O Asura, preserve us.
With them guard lion-like wasting active Agni to dwell in our tilled fields and in our homestead.
7 Indra, the bard sang forth in inspiration: thou madest earth a covering for the Dāsa.
Like castles thou hast crushed the godless races, and bowed the godless scorner's deadly weapon.
1.83. 4 Let not the wolf, let not the she-wolf harm you. Forsake me not, nor pass me by or others.

The ocean stories of how the Gods helped some lost sailor increase in this part of Book 1. Could be the Arabian sea to which the Arya woud have increased access post conquest of the Indus plain. I fail to see how and why these people would try to sail the Arabian sea - it is just not in their nature as described. Perhaps these are Indus river boatmen who are swept out to the sea and somehow saved. In which case, there might be many others not saved. Since fishing is not described so far, maybe this is for crossing the Indus to the other bank or sailing for navigation - even for fighting.

The first book ends - and the story of a pastoral barbarian people emerges who fight, live near one or two rivers and sometimes get lost at sea. With wolves nearby - which would bring down larger cattle unlike a leopard which would only take a dog, goat or calf. They build stalls and barter with cattle. Wear deer skin. No rhinos or tigers. They shatter someone's fort - could be the remnants of the IVC or Cemetry H people who might be living in small mud hut villages. Some of the forts are obviously defensive fortifications well positioned to defend the approach to water which the Arya covet. The Dasyu has an alien religion and a different appearance with darker skin. They are numerous and deny the Arya access to the water and their lands – obviously. They might be infantry axe warriors as the main fighting force. The majority would be lathi wielders or fighting with sharpened stick spears. Their leaders would have the bronze swords found in the copper hoards. The leaders have names like Susna, Sambara and many others which the Arya have enumerated. Obviously they met with a horrible fate at the hands of the Arya.

But if we estimate from the IVC and the post IVC levels of rice agriculture, Punjab Sind region would have had 1 to 2 million Dasas. Estimating from the Gandhara Grave culture of Peshawar and the other settlements of Sistan, Gilgit, Chitral, Helmand and Swat valleys then we can estimate maybe 50,000 to 100,000 Aryans. If we assume the lower or higher limit for both populations, the Aryans would be 5% of the Dasa. If we assume the upper of one and the lower of the other than the Arya will be at best 10%. What happened to the Dasyu after conquest is the most important question which the remaining chapters of Rig reveal glimmerings.

At this point the Arya have no caste system. There are two kinds of people - one kind of people who fight and another kind who are priests. The men were probably fighters and owners of cattle, the women must have been the main working population who would tend to the cattle stalls. By day the men would graze the cows, goats and horses and feed them barley in the stalls. They don’t trade and they don’t till the land – which is a poor land fit only for goat and cattle herding. All the men would probably fight. The less adventurous might live in the more remote mountains and would become the Dardic speakers of today. The rest of the bulk would be cattle raiders and fighters. The priests would be few and are the composers of these hymns. We do not see here the Vaishya and the Sudra castes. The Brahmin however seem like traditional families passing on their hymns and adding to them periodically. The hymns are most emphatically not casteist. There is only Arya and non Arya and the Non Aryans are to be killed and his wealth, cattle and water access to be looted.

What is most conspicuously absent are any complex rituals or trigonometry to create the fire alters of the Sulba Sutra. Some knowledge of astronomy are evident in the descriptions of the night sky. The rites are always ever-present and bound, even at this early date to be linked to lunar cycles. A knowledge of the Nakshatra i.e. Moon castles is therefore likely. The moon houses and the lunar calendar were known to the ancient Indo European societies from a fairly early date. Lunar calendars were also well known to the Chinese. If the recollection of the Gilgamesh legends is existing in the Indo Aryan Brahmanas, we must assume a similar level of exposure to the Babylonian astronomy and a basic appreciation that constellations of the sky exist – which the Aryans could then adapt and use for their own purposes related to the rites which they hold so dear. Later I will look into the Vedanga Jyotisha of Lagadha and the Vedic astronomy. If the Rig Veda is existing then a basic earliest version of the Brahmana must also be existing at this time. These would be the prose guides for conducting the rituals, passed on in the Brahmin families and which in later times expanded to become the Satapatha Brahmana. As yet the Upanishads are unknown. Philosophy is more of the eat, drink, loot your neighbour and make merry variety. It has traditionally been assumed that from this simple existence, the complex life written about in the Brahmanas and Upanishads evolved on their own. The purpose of the present evaluation is to see whether this really did indeed evolve in isolation or whether external influences from the Dasyu crept in – and to isolate these possible influences and understand the society of the Dasyu before the arrival of the Aryans.

The Arya - Dasyu Wars

If we look at the Arya Dasyu wars from the side of the losers – who did not get to write the history and therefore the details lie buried beneath the hyperbolic presentations of the victor – then a different picture emerges. After the fall of the cities, the Indus valley population adjusted to the new situation of famines and small pox. Fairly high levels of rice agriculture could sustain population levels on par with the pre-fall population. The small cities were chiefdoms and there was development of violence which was mostly of the higher caste against lower caste variety. Every village or small town would have a dominant agricultural caste and their elders would be the leaders and rulers, not unlike the present Khap system. The leaders would be the erstwhile upper castes of the IVC. All the young men would be lathi wielders and every village would be able to muster some 50 men. In any dispute within the village – usually over land and grazing, women or just drinking - a group of men from each side would face off and crack some skulls.

On foot, a small force of footsoldiers armed very poorly can control territories of around 50 kilometers in diameter. With a central capital, the 25 Km distance to the periphery can be covered in one day. Since 100 Km is the average distance between each of the 5 rivers of the Punjab, it is likely that the area between any two rivers was under the control of 2 big chieftains, one near each river. Some 10 chieftains would be ranged along each river length and so 15 to 20 chiefdoms would be present between each of any two rivers of the Punjab. The total area of Punjab under the Cemetery H cultures was between 200,000 and 250,000 square kilometres. The present village density is about 5 villages per square kilometre with 12000 villages in the 50,000 square kilometres of Indian Punjab. But in the remote past one can expect about 2000 villages in the entire region with about 500 people each yielding a population of about 1 million people. 2000 villages in 200,000 square kilometres yields about 1 village every 100 square kilometres which implies that vast regions were forested and not cultivated. Areas close to the rivers would be cultivated intensely and would have a village every kilometre. Some 25 to 50 to 100 villages would be under any one chieftain.

The chieftains would have a bigger force under his command, distributed within the villages close to his central command and capable of reaching any corner of his domain within a day. These men would be trained lathi wielders and would also have a force of archers, axe fighters. Primitive lancemen having sharpened lathis were unnecessary in the absence of horse chariots but could be there to defend against ox cart based attacks. The archers would probably use bamboo longbows which were later used in the battle of Hydaspes and the Gupta period. Arrows with bronze tips might be few and more of stone arrowheads might have been used, so many centuries after the decline of the IVC bronze age culture. The Indian longbow is fired using the foot to brace the bottom of the longbow. It is less powerful and more ponderous than the compound bow used by the Indo Aryans which can be fired from the chariot over longer distances. Indian longbows need a critical mass of archers to become effective and in fact might not have been used much at all when the chieftains had so few men under their command. Indian longbow usage requires long training and professional practice to be used properly. How many of the chieftains of the post Harappan phase had such professional archery battalions is open to question.

The main function of these central forces would be to prevent the people from the neighboring chiefdom from looting the villages within their territory. The major central capital would have about 20 villages with about 2000 men under call. Additional centers in the borders of the chiefdom would be housed in a larger village with semifortification so that in case of a surprise attack they can hold out for a day until help arrives. The central hub would also be a trading center and would house a couple of businesshouses with a force of men under their command for guarding the bullock cart wagons. The peripheral fortified villages would be made of a central Heveli like courtyard and thick brick walls with sufficient space to house a couple of hundred men. It would also be the first trading post for the bullock cart wagons from the central hub. Around five hundred men distributed in the nearby 4 to 5 villages would rally to this border fortification when attacked. Distances beyond 25 Km in a direction is not controllable without cavalry or elephantry both of which were not available in the Late Harrappan villages. Bullock carts can cover 20-25 Km in one day and a force of a thousand men with some 10-15 bullock carts can reach the periphery when needed. But major wars with such primitive weaponry in unlikely to have happened.

For the most part the men under the chieftains command would be more interested in collecting tax in the form of farm produce for themselves from their own villages where their family lived as well as the more peripheral villages where the more disadvantaged agriculturists lived. Confrontation between the chiefdoms would be typically related to times of drought or famine. The two sides would raid the farmhouses of the villages. But in major famines, they would guard the central hub which would have fortification and a storehouse of enough grain to sustain the chieftain, his extended family, the families of the major trading houses and the families of the fighting men who would be otherwise agriculturists living in the villages near the hub. In these times of strife, the peripheral fortification would be abandoned and so would the farmers in the peripheral villages who would perish either due to lack of food or after being raided by the next village or perhaps to raids from their own chieftain. After the famine is over, these peripheral villages would be slowly repopulated from those who survive. Large scale warfare between chieftains would be most unlikely since they were all similarly armed, similarly situated and most of the violence would be directed to the lower caste agriculturists of their own region both in terms of tax during the normal times and looting during times of famine. The families of the agriculturists in the central hub would be closely related families and would belong to one caste. The chief himself would belong to a perceived higher caste or status and a small group of these richer higher caste families would be living in the hub along with a group of trader families. The traders would have their own network between villages and would marry between rather than within the chiefdom to bridge trust issues. The Chieftain is also likely to marry between the chiefdoms, but the other central agricultural families would be largely endogamous even if gotra exclusive and form one caste who stands together.

It was this situation which would have confronted the Indo Aryan invaders. The Aryans were trained charioteers, archers and because of the horse were highly mobile. They had bronze age weaponry whereas the post harappan villagers no longer had access to bronze. The Aryans led a more active life of fighting among themselves and raiding cattle. The entire population of men were essentially men at arms. Around the time they attacked the Dasyus they would have numbered about 50,000 in population and would have collected forces of a few thousand men under each of the five main tribes. A combined host of around 15000 men is likely from this population. The chariots would be loaded on bullock carts and taken to the site of confrontation along with the compound bows and the bronze arrows. They would have had axes, lances and swords as well outclassing their opposition almost completely in terms of weaponry, training and mobility.

The descriptions of destroying the forts of Sambara, Susna, Namucci et al and cleaving their head given in the Rig Veda are likely exaggerations of the winners. Despite the exaggeration, there was simply no match between Arya and Dasyu and it would have been a slaughter of the Dasyu. Still the preservations of their enemies names and the repeated mention of Susna suggest that some determined opposition was mounted. If Susna is assumed to be the first of the big local chieftains, then he would have been on the west side of the Indus, perhaps in the Mardan region north of Peshawar, the biggest and most powerful of the 10 or so chiefdoms on that side. In the initial forays from Jalalabad, the Indo Aryans would have scouted out their opposition and decided to displace them from the Kabul and Indus waters. In the previous couple of centuries, the Aryans would have been located a couple of hundred kilometres away in the Swat and Argandab region. As they grew more populous, they would have come on the banks of the Kabul and would have surely been seen by the Dasyu who would have been grazing their cattle. A group of Aryans would have forayed close to one of the chiefdoms and would have had a confrontation with the lathi wielders. Subsequently, seeing their weakness, the Aryans would have rallied their forces and started the war. Perhaps a few hundred raiders with bullock carts, horses, chariots and infantry forces would have assembled and entered the chiefdom to attack one of the peripheral haveli fortifications. The Dasyu men would have scrambled with their lathis but shot down by the enemy arrows. The rest would have run away and taken the news to the central hub. The men there would have assembled their full force of some 2-3000 lathi wielders and the archers on the walls of the central hub. The hub village would have 4 or 5 entry points and houses clustered around a narrow main street. The walls of the houses would be the main fortification and the archers would be on the roof. Some 5-10 big houses and some 100 medium and small houses would be there in the central hub village. The main force of lathi wielders would be standing at the roads entering the village to defend along with lance men and axe men. A few of the leaders would have their hereditary metal swords and leather armour. The longbow archers would be in the rooftop close by.

But the entry of the Aryan chariots would have meant total confusion. The Dasyu were used to warfare with other lathi wielders and axe men which means a close quarter fight. The defenders within the village fort would have the advantage in that situation. The approaching enemy on foot would be picked off by the longbowmen from the rooftops as they made their way walking or running to reach within fighting distance. But with the Aryans the defenders were at a disadvantage. The Aryan charioteers would simply race ahead presenting a fast moving target the longbowmen were not used to. Chariot mounted archers would fire arrows from their chariots and rout the lathi wielders at the entrance who would have no defence and no armour. They would retreat in confusion since there was no way for them to get close to their fast moving enemy, their weapon useless at a distance, no armour or barriers to shield against the flying arrows. The chariots would stay away from the long bowmen since they wouldn’t want to lose their horses. The infantry would creep up to the village whose entrance would be undefended now and men would climb up to the roof tops to deal with the longbowmen. Once the longbowmen were gone, the chariots could race closer and pick off their enemy one by one with their bows. The fight would be a foregone conclusion.

The first couple of chiefdoms would have fallen easily. But if we assume Susna was the biggest Chieftains on this side of the Indus, then Susna would have rallied the other chiefdoms to present a bigger fight – since otherwise they would be slaughtered one by one. Some 10-15000 lathi wielders, axe fighters, lance men and a combined force of longbowmen numbering a few hundred must have massed near the Kabul river to repulse the invader, perhaps in one of the best of the village forts. Some semblance of tactics to use the lance men and archery to impede the chariots might have been thought out. The big force must have been what the Aryans described as Dasas covering the ground. This would be a bigger fight and of course with their superior weaponry the Aryans won. The massed army was a big target for the mobile archers while the chariots were a small target for the Dasyu longbowmen. When the army surged forward, the chariots would retreat and then commence firing. As the casualties mount the Dasyu would turn tail and flee the battle ground into their fort, as the Aryans themselves described. All the remaining forces would therefore have beaten a retreat to the fort along with their bowmen. Perhaps with a bigger force of bowmen, the village fort would have been better defended and some amount of fortifications across the entrances forming gates and barriers might have been put up. The Aryans would have taken more casualties than their previous attacks and hence the descriptions of how Indra saved one or the other warrior as the fight was raging would indicate a more protracted battle. In siege warfare the size of the fort and the extent of the fortification would determine the result. The Dasyu forts were small and poorly fortified since their main enemy so far had been lathi wielders. Facing a superior enemy, the Dasyu could not defend a suboptimal fortification and so Susna would have fallen. It might have taken a couple of stormings to do it since the first attack might have met with stiff resistance from the Indian longbowmen. The defenders would have run out of arrows pretty fast though. Once the archery defence failed, breaching the poor fortifications would have been a matter of time.

Having taken the main defence forces on the west of the Indus, the Aryans might have been busy looting the remaining chiefdoms and other small settlements ranging all along the west of Indus for the next many months or even years. All descriptions suggest that Sambara was in a mountain fortress and the location might have been in the mountains north of the Mardan plain or along the Indus gorge. Everyone escaping from the carnage of Susna’s defeat might have ended up in the seemingly most defensible of the Dasyu forts. Sambara might have given a stiff fight if the fort was well located. Ultimately his fortress fell as described in the Rig.

Their next major foray would have been on the other side of Indus and crossing the Indus would have needed a wait for the reduction of flow and even then would need boats to cross with the horses, bullock carts, chariots, arms and a bigger force of men. If we assume Namucci was the main chieftain on the other side of Indus, he would not have been sitting idle. Fleeing men as well as his spies would have given the news about Susna and Sambara’s fall and the nature of his enemy. Enough time would have been available to prepare. A lot depends on the relations between chieftains. If Namucci was not an acknowledged chieftain, there would have been resistance at collaboration. There might have been 2 or more groupings of chiefdoms. But the fate of Susna and Sambara would probably impel a better cooperation and a united defence strategy can be assumed. Depending on the time available, the extent of fortifications put up, the number of bowmen trained and the number of arrows stockpiled would vary. Assuming a couple of years or more time, considerable amount of preparations could be carried out. The Dasyu lacked access to horses, but smaller racing type of bullock carts , with sides shielded against arrows to carry axe fighters closer to their enemy might have been prepared to make their forcer more mobile. Making single ox or double ox racing type of bullock carts would have taken a few months. Thick hide armour for the richer fighters would also be made. These would have been kept ready in enclosures next to the fort to make a foray. We know from the descriptions in Rig Veda that the Aryans finally won. But how long these defensive formations held out, how effectively was the fording of the Indus guarded, whether night attacks by the axe fighters were carried out against the massed Aryans – all of these are details which the Veda unfortunately does not preserve. We know only that the end result was that the Aryans won.

However if we look at the timescale of the Rig, i.e. that it took some hundred years to compose, then we find that for a hundred years the Aryans were stuck in Punjab fighting with each other and with the Dasyu. So the fight was protracted, hard fought and lasted many decades. In all probability the Aryans settled on the west side of the Indus along the Kabul for many years and decades and lived there, composing the book 1 of the Rig Veda and calling the Kabul river Saraswati. In all probability the Dasyu were enslaved by means of having to live in their own villages and producing food for the Aryans i.e. instead of the Chieftain, the Dasyu produced food and paid it as tax to the Aryans instead. The victorious Aryans would have taken the women of the richer upper caste Dasyu for wives. Since we have in the IVC postulated an evolution of skin colour based on natural variation and selection based on wealth, it is likely that such women would be preferred by the richer and more powerful Aryan leaders. The poorer Aryans might have been less choosy. So considering that some 100,000 Dasyu lived along the west bank of Indus and the Aryans numbered some 50,000, a mixed population would soon emerge in a couple of generations. As they grew more numerous and prosperous and greed for booty took over, they might have raided the villages on the other side of the Indus. For many decades, they are likely to have only raided the settlements on the east banks of the Indus and in one of the main attacks would have destroyed the forts of Namucci and others. But other chiefdoms on both the banks of the Jhelum and Chenab would also have been prepared to repulse attackers and as they gained more and more information about the Aryan tactics, the ways to counter their advantage of the horse chariots would have been thought out. The Aryans of course could ford the Indus downstream of the main Chenab junction and fan out on both sides for raiding. But it is likely that for a fairly long time, the Aryans would have remained settled along the Kabul river before they became numerous and ventured to settle on the other side.

The integration of the Dasyu and the Aryans would have proceeded on predictable lines. Offspring of Dasyu wives would have been underpriveliged and would find matches among similar underpreviliged men and women of mixed parentage or Dasyu parentage. Within a few generations, it would have become almost impossible to tell them apart except by means of a caste system. It is likely that the caste system would have evolved almost immediately and might have been derived partly from the pre-existing Dasyu caste system. So the vast majority of the Dasyu would become agricultural labourers and would eventually become the Sudras. The traders might have continued their business initially under the overlordship of Aryans but after a while it would be a partnership between the fighters of the Arya and the businessman of the Dasyu and in the long run the better businessman would prevail. Aryan businessmen manufacturing their bronzeware would interlink with the Dasyu businessmen and over time a trading class would develop. Business would be manufacturing and distributing pottery, beads, agricultural implements, breeding horses and cattle, making cotton and making clothes. Most of the Dasyu craftsmen would be allowed to continue under the Aryan overlords and the Aryan craftsmen would take the Dasyu craftsmen as labourers.

Many of the longbowmen and lathi wielders would be recruited into the five tribes forces, with the development of spearmen using metal tipped weapons instead of simple sticks. So in future confrontation between the Aryans, the Dasyu fighters would fight alongside their master. The hereditary Dasyu castes of the bowmen would continue to train their lads and the mingling of technology for arms manufacture and the better bronze making and weapon making skills of the Aryans would soon be absorbed by the Dasas. Some of the Dasas would be used as servants for horse rearing and within a few generations, the two would get integrated into the kind of society we currently have. An initial 50-50 genetic mix of the Arya Dasa genetic material assuming a 100,000 to 50,000 split only in the West Indus and Kabul valley would have happened. Of course, the entry of this genetic mix into further Dasyu territory would cause manifold dilution close to extinction of Aryan genes, even if we assume that the Aryans prospered and increased their populations vastly.

Let us see whether the Veda sheds further light on these wars.
Feb 2013
Book 2 Rig Veda

Right at the start, this is heavier reading and more complex in construction and thought process than book 1. Books 2 to 7 are supposed to be the core of the Rig according to most commentators. The difficulty of comprehending the poets thought process makes it all the more daunting. This book is also well arranged, systematic and suggests one poet’s work – the way of praising the Gods is very similar in each hymn. These hymns are a lot less descriptive than from book 1 and are likely to be one major portion used for a specific sacrifice. Very little additional geographical information is forthcoming, except that already derived from book 1, except that this is in no way different from the earlier book. Saraswati is clearly a Goddess in this book and not a river. Varuna and other senior Gods are still referred to as the Asura as in book 1. The five races of the Arya are repeatedly mentioned and would represent the five main tribes as below:

2.2 And over the Five Races let our glory shine high like the realm of light and unsurpassable.
2.3.8 Sarasvatī who perfects our devotion, Iḷā divine, Bhāratī all surpassing,—
Three Goddesses, with power inherent, seated, protect this holy Grass, our flawless refuge!
2.11.2 Floods great and many, compassed by the Dragon, thou badest swell and settest free, O Hero.
Strengthened by songs of praise thou rentest piecemeal the Dāsa, him who deemed himself immortal.
With us mayst thou, O Indra, waxen splendid, with Sūrya overcome the Dāsa races.
18 Hero, assume the might wherewith thou clavest Vṛtra piecemeal, the Dānava Aurṇavābha.
Thou hast disclosed the light to light the Ārya: on thy left hand, O Indra, sank the Dasyu.
19 May we gain wealth, subduing with thy succour and with the Ārya, all our foes, the Dasyus.

2.123 Who slew the Dragon, freed the Seven Rivers, and drove the kine forth from the cave of Vala,
12 Who with seven guiding reins, the Bull, the Mighty, set free the Seven great Floods to flow at pleasure;
9 Thou boundest up the Dāsa's hundred friends and ten, when, at one's hearing, thou helpest thy worshipper.
Thou for Dabhīti boundest Dasyus not with cords; Thou wast a mighty help. Worthy of lauds art thou.
10 All banks of rivers yielded to his manly might;

The way the Dasa are described they emerge as a proud and fierce race at first contact, deeming themselves immortal. This suggests that the leaders were haughty. They obviously did not submit easily and a continued resistance is likely. Dasyu being tied up suggests a surrender took place in one of the fights. “All banks of rivers yielded” implies the fording of the rivers and the subduing of the Dasyu chiefdoms on their banks and might refer to multiple raids by crossing the Indus and other rivers. Perhaps the Aryans would cross the river every year and loot the villages on the other side. The bending of the head and the tying up suggests taking prisoners and enslaving to do the Aryans bidding. Intermingling would happen soon after.

12 Thou for Turvīti heldest still the flowing floods, the river-stream for Vayya easily to pass
Didst raise the outcast from the depths, and gavest fame unto the halt and blind. Worthy of lauds art thou.
2.20 He, self-reliant, mighty and triumphant, brought low the dear head of the wicked Dāsa.
7 Indra the Vṛtra-slayer, Fort-destroyer, scattered the Dāsa hosts who dwelt in darkness.
When in his arms they laid the bolt, he slaughtered the Dasyus and cast down their forts of iron.

As written above, waiting for the floods to ease, crossing to the other side, bending the heads of the Dasa leaders, scattering the Dasyu, breaking their fortifications. The military implications are straightforward. So a settling on the banks of the Kabul river is necessary if this kind of raid was to be done every year repeatedly.

2.27.7 If any wolf or robber fain would harm us, therefrom, O Varuṇa, give thou us protection.
Protect us, God; let not the wolf destroy us. Save us, ye Holy, from the pit and falling.
2.30. 8 Sarasvatī, protect us: with the Maruts allied thou boldly conquerest our foemen,
2.34 come with your spotted deer, one-minded, to our food.
4 They have bestowed of Mitra all that live, to feed, they who for evermore cause their swift drops to flow;
Whose steeds are spotted deer, whose riches never fail, like horses in full speed, bound to the pole in work.

The wolf is still the main predator but a lot of mention about spotted deer which are found along the river valleys of Punjab. Robbers are also mentioned. A lot of the dispossessed Dasyus might have become wandering bandits in the forests and uninhabited area on the periphery of habitation, living by looting the remaining Dasyu farmers as well as setting upon Aryan settlers if they are found alone.

2.42. 17 In thee, Sarasvatī, divine, all generations have their stay.
18 Enriched with sacrifice, accept Sarasvatī, these prayers of ours,

There is little doubt that these are the hymns of a pastoral animal raising people. Horse, cows and goats are the main cattle it seems. There are groups of hymns which are composed by different poets in groups. All have a general sense and continuity. There don't seem to be any interpolations from later addition. The general geography seems to have just two rivers called the saraswati and the sindu. So far there is no mention of agriculture. The wolf figures prominently and only deer, spotted deer and lion are mentioned. The tiger is not. The mention of wolves is interesting. Although wolves are present in India, the more likely cattle thief is tiger. Also leopard for calves. If the main predator for the cattle is wolves, then this is either at north west frontier of Pakistan or further West. The mention of sea is also of note. Excluding the Arabian sea only other possibility is either the Aral sea or Caspian sea. However this region gets quite cold in winter there is no mention of the cold. If it were this far north, at least a few hymns saying protect me from the cold as I huddle in the chill of the night would be in order. The absence is speaking volumes. An entirely Afghan locus is also unlikely being landlocked. So while the Helmand or Argandab could be the fast flowing Saraswati river as described , the other mention of Sindu is not possible unless the people occupied the whole area from Helmand to the Indus. That would explain two rivers but then what of the Swat and the Kabul? Upper Argandab is a lot less impressive as a river than Kabul which moreover is subject to flash floods. Being less fertile than Punjab proper, in west bank of Indus there would be more rain dependence. Also, describing the clouds as forts or as home of a serpent with whom Indra does battle would be more befitting a Monsoon cloud than rain elsewhere. Indian monsoon is a very close comparison to what is described repeated about Indra slaying Vritra. The sea and the boat journeys are also possible here.

The reason for composition of the Veda is also clear. The King would ask for a big sacrifice before any battle and the priests would prepare in advance for this by composing the hymns. Any one group is only about 100 to 200 slokas and most have the same set of similar hymns to the same group so Gods, almost in sequence. And for this the Brahmin would get a lot of cows and other gifts, so worth taking the effort. And having once got some hymns composed, it would make sense to remember it for next time. Until another major occasion comes around and fresh hymns get composed, perhaps by a fresh group of priests. The tribe leader might keep getting shifted between different clans who would get their own priests, resulting in collection of more hymn groups. Presence of a King means this was a bigger tribe now and in conflict with others.
Although there might be exaggeration of numbers, it might still be that the King could call on thousands of warriors when needed. They might band together when faced with a common enemy or when unified by a common leader. Other times the clans might clash, or raid cattle. Especially if there was a bride price system of having your own stall of cattle, in which case the neighbouring clan would get raided by a group of young warriors. This also means each clan having its own group of priests who would chant the hymns before battle when bull would be sacrificed and after the battle the victors would sacrifice one of the raided cattle. That would explain multiple sets of similar groups of hymns. Later these sets have been unified into a highly repetitious but whole Rig Veda.
The method of sacrifice at this early stage could be just a simple temporary fire alter, chanting of hymns and pouring of ghee. Even today, the havan is chanting from Veda only, nothing else is memorised. Method is passed on by instructions from one teacher to a younger priest. That would be enough.
Feb 2013
Book 3

(I have deleted long quotes from the Veda. This post makes better sense in the Blog version where the quotes are retained. I have left behind only my brief comments becauses the verses themselves were self explanatory - with very few exceptions where quotes are retained)

This book again starts as usual with many hymns on Agni praising him, then hymns to the sacrificial post, then back to Agni as priest of the gods, Indragni etc. There are few references to Sindhu or Sarasvati. References to destroying forts, cattle gathering and looting as well as Dasa and Dasyu are repeated in similar vein. The Dasyu are still being killed and looted and skin colour of darker DAsyu and fair complexioned Arya is again mentioned. The Drishadvati and Saraswati are mentioned together as if Drishadvati is another separate river. Whivh river is Drishadvati? Could it be either the Argandeb/Helmand or Kabu;/Swat pairs? Asura is still used repeatedly in the sense of the Great Varuna. The race of Rakshasas is mentioned when asking for Indra to strike them down which seems to imply that the Rakshasas being referred to are Dasyu bandits rather than demonic creatures.Susna being killed by Indra, his chariot drawn by tawny coursers and killing of Vritra the serpent are again described but in less detail. Bharatas seem to be represented by the Vishwamitras in this book. The last hymn has the Gayatri mantra along with a whole lot of general prayers and appears to be a genuine part of this book in natural sequence rather than as an interpolation which can be suspected by its location towards the end of the book. Centered around the Bharatas and composed by the Kusikas and the Vishwamitras, this book no longer has a sense of being in the Peshawar region but seems more in core Punjab region. Lions find more mention rather than wolf and there are references to spotted deer and falcon.

Strong in the glory of our noble offspring, subdue the godless when they seek the battle.
3.12.6 Indra and Agni, ye cast down the ninety forts which Dāsas held,
3.15.4 Shine forth, a Bull invincible, O Agni, winning by conquest all the forts and treasures,
3.12. 6 Indra and Agni, ye cast down the ninety forts which Dāsas held,

So the Aryans were conquering the Dasa forts in the Punjab and looting the treasures.

3.4. 2 Agni whom daily Varuṇa and Mitra the Gods bring thrice a day to this our worship,
3.23.4 On man, on Āpayā, Agni! on the rivers Dṛṣadvati, Sarasvatī, shine richly.

The thrice daily prayers are described above, the Sandhyavandana. Another enemy Kunaru is named below. The Rakshasas are described as a race and likely another name for the Dasyu.

Viphas or Beas. Sutudri or Sutlej. Here the Aryans are on the banks of the most easterly of the 5 tributaries of the Indus. The Bharatas are crossing the river, praying that the water is below the level of the axle. The race of the Bharatas seem to be settling farther away than the other Aryans and have gone east – perhaps striking out on their own. This is likely to have happened when the Aryans grew more numerous and there was dispute for wealth and land. This for the first time describes smaller units within the five tribes separating out, setting the scene for future conflict.

1. FORT-RENDER, Lord of Wealth, dispelling foemen, Indra with lightnings hath o’ercome the Dāsa.
Treasure of gold he won; he smote the Dasyus, and gave protection to the Āryan colour.

The usual descriptions of Indra along with a reference to skin colour above.

3.53. 9 .
When Viśvāmitra was Sudās's escort,
This prayer of Viśvāmitra keeps secure the race of Bharatas.

Blessing for the ox carts transporting sudas are being sought by Vishvamitras. Sudas is mentioned which is strange because later it is Vasishtas who pray for Sudas’s victory in the battle of ten Kings. Perhaps the victory was a major one and hence all priestly families in subsequent generations claimed it for their own prayers. And below we have the famous Gayatri mantra and its two subsequent hymns.

Book 4

This book again has the same prayers starting with Agni then calling all the Gods. Vishnu and Rudra are occasionally addressed. All the usual legends about Indra like the killer of Dasa Dasyu Ahi Vritra etc are repeated with less detail. The last few hymns of the book are different and could be interpolated material with mention of tilling the soil, Sita, earth etc. In view of location one must not assume that by this time the Aryans were agriculturists since these could be interpolations from a later time. However treasure and toiler are both mentioned together – first time prayers for a toiler are there. So taken together, an increased tendency towards agriculture is possible. In other words, the Aryans are becoming more like the Dasyus in terms of activities.

The hymns above call Susna more like drought than a person here, a foe of harvest. But the Dasyu are still mentioned immediately afterwards, their swarthy nature, their large numbers, their forts and the names of their leaders.

A complex creation hymn and a song of sorrow drowned in drink both rolled into one.

3 In the wild joy of Soma I demolished Śambara's forts, ninety-and-nine, together;

Drinking and fighting were clearly linked together


The area is always called land of 7 rivers. 6th is the Indus and 7th is Sawaswati which has to be the Swat/Kabul since nothing else fits.


The above hymns are intriguing. Not sure what it means but seems significant. Usha is of course a Vedic Goddess and nothing to do with the Dasyu

Again a reference to the rich Susna who was looted

14 Thou, Indra, also smotest down Kulitara's son Śambara,
The Dāsa, from the lofty hill.

Here again the fort of Sambara is mentioned in the hills and is likely from the upper reaches of the Indus. Sambara’s father is also mentioned here – must have been a bigger king than previously supposed and might have been well known for a generation before it was attacked and sacked.

15 Of Dāsa Varcin's thou didst slay the hundred thousand and the five,
Crushed like the fellies, of a car.

Another Dasyu foe

16 So Indra, Lord of Heroes, Powers, caused the unwedded damsel's son,
The castaway, to share the lauds.

What does this mean? Some bastard child?

17 So sapient Indra, Lord of Might, brought Turvaśa and Yadu, those
Who feared the flood, in safety o’er.

Crossing the flooded rivers again

18 Arṇa and Citraratha, both Āryas, thou, Indra, slewest swift,
On yonder side of Sarayu,

What does this mean? Sarayu?

More of fortresses and Dasas being killed. Each of the priest families seem to have repeatedly composed the same songs or resung the same songs in different ways – and all of these different poets have given descriptions of the same set of events. Each of these descriptions of events have been recompiled into the Rig, giving multiple verses each saying the same thing.

Ye gave the winner of our fields and plough-lands, and the strong smiter who subdued the Dasyus.

By now the Aryans are clearly saying that Indra won them fields and ploughlands by subduing the Dasyus. So cattle references are decreasing and farming references are increasing. Trasadasyu must have been one of the main winners of farmland as detailed below:


By now farming has become even more well established. The Gods are now guiding the agriculture rather than cattle rearing. This is life in Indian plains which is being described, not a animal husbander in Peshawar. Sita is mentioned. Since this is towards the end of the chapter rather than in the middle, these series of hymns related to agriculture seem derived from a later period in history and must be a later interpolation. Insertion of Sita is also suggestive since Sita is not mentioned before this. It is possible that Sita was a Goddess of the Post Harappan Dasyu who is now incorporated within the Veda. Described in relation to the earth, she must have been an agricultural Goddess. Assuming 3-400 BC for final arrangement and interpolation of material into Rig, Sita must have been similarly regarded as Earth Goddess even as far back as 400 BC. Origin from the agriculturists of Post Harappans is most likely.


The last hymn is again very different in content and likely tobe a later interpolation, though its meaning is difficult to comprehend. These are clearly hymns composed later in Vedic period for fulfilling purposes other than drinking and fighting which is all the Aryans composed. So as the Aryans undertook more complex agriculture and other activities, they needed new hymns to sacrifice for these purposes.

Book 5.

Asuras are still referred to as the great Gods. Bharatas, Manus and the five tribes come again. More killing of Dasyu, Susna Thou slewest noseless Dasyus with thy weapon, Ahi. “they stand round him like an angry lion”. Hymns are very short and different in construction. Seem to be special hymns for Ashwamedha. Sindhu has a non specific use in this chapter. Some odd unknown people are mentioned as usual. Ends with some peculiar hymns, again as usual. Lotus ponds seems to suggest India in one location. Though this hymn is of Indian origin, other hymns could have been composed anywhere. Since Ashwamedha is an old and important sacrifice this chapter is likely derived from a much older relic with interpolations after the Aryans reached Punjab


These hymns are similar to the other chapters. Rakshas is again mentioned as demon.


Floods serving the Dasa is again suggesting that Dasyu were beyond the rivers which needed to be crossed

Namucci the Dasa’s defeat described again. More of Dasa than Dasyu in these hymns. Perhaps different priests preferred different usage.

9 Women for weapons hath the Dāsa taken, What injury can his feeble armies To me?
Well he distinguished his two different voices, and Indra then advanced to fight the Dasyu.

This is just a denigrating reference to the weakness of the Dasyu. Chudiyan pehen rakhi hai kind of reference.


Lotuses is obviously from the plains

Here the Asura reference is different? Or is it meaning Indra’s descendent?

This is a reference to a solar eclipse. Whether it is ancient or later interpolation is not clear. The reference to Asura is a different sense than Varuna is confusing the issue


As always, the end of this chapter also has some unusual hymns. More agriculture related hymns and of course the solar eclipse – these musy have been gathered in the long settled period between 1200 BC and 500 AD.

Chapter 6.

It starts off as usual with agni. Vitavyaha and bharadwaja, Atharvan's son,
Dadhyac the Ṛṣi, lighted up. Usual Dasyu, Ahi rakshasa and Vritra. Agni of the Bharata. Asura as usual means great god. But in 22 Indra is called Asura slayer. असुरघ्नः . In 6.53 awl.
RV 6.011.04
RV 6.014.03

The Dasyu are riteless, a different race and the enemies of the Arya

6.18. 3 .

RV 6.019.13
Through these thy friendships, God invoked of many! may we be victors over every foeman.
Slaying both kinds of foe, may we, O Hero, be happy, helped by thee, with ample riches.

The above verse talks of “both” kind of foes. The Dasas were one of them, the other must have been Arya tribes. RV 6.033.03 provides clear vindication of the other tribe being Arya.

RV 6.033.03
Both races, Indra, of opposing foemen, O Hero, both the Arya and the Dasa,
Hast thou struck down like woods with well-shot lightnings: thou rentest them in fight, most manly Chieftain!

Inference that the conflicts may have occurred within Puru tribe, let alone amongst rival Arya tribes is found in several verses.

RV 6.019.08
Indra, bestow on us the power heroic skilled and exceeding strong, that wins the booty,
Wherewith, by thine assistance, we may conquer our foes in battle, be they kin or stranger.
6.20. 6 As the Hawk rent for him the stalk that gladdens, he wrenched the head from Namuci the Dāsa.
10 May we, O Indra, gain by thy new favour: so Parus laud thee, with their sacrifices,
That thou hast wrecked seven autumn forts, their shelter, slain Dāsa tribes and aided Purukutsa.
6.21. 11 Now to my words come quickly thou who knowest, O Son of Strength, with all who claim our worship,
Who visit sacred rites, whose tongue is Agni, Gods who made Manu stronger than the Dasyu.

Manu is the Arya. These hymns are similar to the previous chapters. The Dasas are racially separated from the Arya.

Indra is Asura slayer here

6.24. 8
6.25. 2 .
6.26. 5

Repetitions. Note the reference of “tribes” of the Dasas. The Aryans were tribes and looked upon the Dasyu from different places as different tribes. They were also referred to as bold and inciters - reference to rebellions?


Hariupiya is of course not the name of modern Harappa at all. But it is not clear whether the Vricivans are Dasyu or whether this is internecine warfare between two Aryans Vricivans and Cayamana. I somehow prefer the latter. The priests receive gifts which include damsels.

These are repetitions of the same stories by the Bharadvajas this time

6.33. 3 Both races, Indra, of opposing foemen, O Hero, both the Ārya and the Dāsa,
Hast thou struck down like woods with well-shot lightnings: thou rentest them in fight, most manly Chieftain!

This suggests that the fight was between Aryas and Dasyu allied with each other fighting other Aryans, possibly also in alliance with other Dasas. The following hymns all show that by this time, the Aryans were always fighting other Aryans allied with or having subordinate fighters from the Dasyu

RV 6.019.13
Through these thy friendships, God invoked of many! may we be victors over every foeman.
Slaying both kinds of foe, may we, O Hero, be happy, helped by thee, with ample riches.
RV 6.033.03
Both races, Indra, of opposing foemen, O Hero, both the Arya and the Dasa,
Hast thou struck down like woods with well-shot lightnings: thou rentest them in fight, most manly Chieftain!
Inference that the conflicts may have occurred within Puru tribe, let alone amongst rival Arya tribes is found in several verses.
RV 6.019.08
Indra, bestow on us the power heroic skilled and exceeding strong, that wins the booty,
Wherewith, by thine assistance, we may conquer our foes in battle, be they kin or stranger.

6.47. 2
Varcin here suggests Dasyu people and so the earlier reference must also have been Dasyu

More gifts for the bharadvajas. So by the sixth chapter and in 7th chapter, the Aryans and Dasyu were in alliances and attacking each other. Hymns composed are therefore reflecting the changed situation and hence repeated hymns invoking Indra in the fight against the Aryans and Dasyu in alliance would have been made by both sides. These indicate that some considerable time of 20 to 100 years would have to have passed before the initial destruction of the forts of sambara Susna Namucci et al and the new situation where theAryans were fighting wars with mixed enemies of Aryans and Dasyu. In 100 years, considerable intermixing of people would also have taken place and hence assimilation of both people to form a common gene pool would have been well under way.

HYMN LXI. Sarasvatī.

There are multiple themes here. “Let us not go from thee to distant countries” suggests that it was in fact happening – the Aryans had left the Saraswati behing and were saddened by the parting. The lotus stem suggests composition in the plain. Sudden rushes and sudden floods suggests flash floods on the Kabul or Helmand. Swift flow also suggest Kabul as does the seven sisters since Helmand doesn’t join the Indus. Overall I prefer the Kabul to Helmand

HYMN LXXV. Weapons of War.

This is straightforward but a few things are jarring. First is the location at the end of a chapter which indicates interpolation. Wearing mail is in keeping with the armour worn by the GGC people. Archery and chariotry is self explanatory

7. The much awaited chapter.

Starts as usual with Agni. Asura back to being Great Gods.

7.2. 8
Here Sarasvati is the river Goddess. Except in the first chapter the sense of river Goddess keeps on increasing through the chapters

HYMN VI. Agni.
3 The foolish, faithless, rudely-speaking niggards, without belief or sacrifice or worship,—
Far far sway hath Agni chased those Dasytis, and, in the cast, hath turned the godless westward.

Turned the Godless Westwards suggests that after being expelled from the Punjab and Haryana, the Dasyus went West to Sind and Rajasthan. Probably after the Bharata Dasyu alliance was defeated by Sudas.

7.8. 4 F
7.18. 4
Here the Vashishtas are assisting Sudas to fight against his own kinsmen

So Sudas crosses a river to find his enemy. Simyu being called foe of our hymn might be either generic enemy or a specific Dasyu tribe

Sudas had these tribes in alliance against him. Interestingly one of the tribe names is the Sivas – but this is likely to be an Aryan tribe since the term Sivas is Aryan and means the good.

Arjuneya is there – similar to the Arjuna of Mahabharata? Coincidence in battle of ten kings is unlikely. Susna of course is another battle, but is another Dasa involved in the battle is being misnamed here?

Are these Dasyus being generically named here in extolling Indra – or were there Dasyu Kings fighting against him?

So Sudas defeats the Bharatas in the battle of the ten Kings after crossing the river

The famous Mrutyunjaya mantra. Coming after a long hymn in praise of Maruts, this is a clear and obvious interpolation. Totally out of context and introducing a new God never mentioned before.

Daksha is very much a part of the Vedic mythology but not in the familiar story we are all used to

HYMN LXXXIII. Indra-Varuṇa.
1. LOOKING to you and your alliance, O ye Men, armed with broad axes they went forward, fain for spoil.
Ye smote and slew his Dāsa and his Āryan enemies, and helped Sudās with favour, Indra-Varuṇa.

Here again the battle of ten Kings is referred to but it is clearly written that Sudas had both Aryan and Dasa enemies

6 The men of both the hosts invoked you in the fight, Indra and Varuṇa, that they might win the wealth,
What time ye helped Sudās, with all the Trtsu folk, when the Ten Kings had pressed him down in their attack.

Is it perhaps to be inferred that because the ten Kings had both Dasa and Arya enemies, Sudas was preferentially helped by Indra although both sides invoked the same Gods? Did the Vashisthas want to convey this/

7 Ten Kings who worshipped not, O Indra-Varuṇa, confederate, in war prevailed not o’er Sudās.
True was the boast of heroes sitting at the feast: so at their invocations Gods were on their side.
8 O Indra-Varuṇa, ye gave Sudās your aid when the Ten Kings in battle compassed him about,

Here it is specifically said that ten Kings worshipped not – again indicating that some at least of the ten Kings were Dasas and not Aryans. This would indicate that the battle which occurred much after the initial victories of the Aryans over the initial Sambara and Susna still had non Aryan Kings in action

HYMN XCV. Sarasvatī.
Here Saraswati is just river goddess. Those composing the hymns now are far away from the Saraswati and think of her only as a Goddess


The Rakshasas sully the sacrifice and all kinds of birds and animals might have been taken to be bad omens going by this hymn.

Book 8. Lots of unknown people right at the start. Again composed by Kanvas .A reference to Dasyu magic is there. Asura is again in good sense while Rakshasa is bad. Sindhu used as a God occasionally. Dasyu and Susna killer descriptions of Indra are as usual.

28 Śuṣṇa's quick moving castle thou hast crushed to pieces with thy bolts.

Does quick moving castle refer to lashed ox carts?

More references to changed life of the Arya with adoption of agriculture

8.46. 21
22 Steeds sixty thousand and ten thousand kine, and twenty hundred camels I obtained;
31 And in the grazing herd he made a hundred camels bleat for me,

The sudden advent of camels is jarring. It must be from the Rajasthan region and from Haryana where these animals are found. Still the wolf is mentioned rather than tiger – perhaps it is because of poetic convention from an earlier time because by now tiger should have been mentioned.

8.58. 12
The seven rivers is still very much in evidence and hence the Yamuna and Ganga must still be far away – or ignored by poetic convention – or perhaps even counted as one of the seven by now? If camels have arrived and Aryans are in Haryana and Rajasthan, they must have found their way to Kurukshetra by now.

Here Krishna (like previous references in earlier chapters) is still a person’s name. The reference to Ghandharva and Brahmin power is intriguing. Were the Aryans now worshipping Gandharvas and were these sacrifices supposed to increase the Brahmins power? Was a social transformation yaking place and is this hymn recording the problems? And when was this hymn composed? It is obviously later than chapter 7 – a simple sequence of composition from 1 to 8 is obviously evident from geographic references. But his might have been an interpolation from recompiling.

Again towards the end of chapter 8 the sense of usage for Asura suddenly changes. Here Indra is making the Asuras weaponless and they are called Godless. This is again a major shift from Asura being the good God Varuna. This is also a probable later interpolation but needs further evaluation in just what sense and how did the asuras change their meaning – since by now the Iranians were far away and any enemity between the Asura worshippers and Deva worshippers is now over – or is it? Does this hymn come from the Afghan borderlands where the two rivals might be still in contact? The initial lines belay this conclusion. Seven streams are already crossed – so this is in the doab. But now here near the Yamuna there is a serious upset – the asuras are being called bad. Why?

When exactly was this hymn composed and interpolated? We need to understand this variation – it is the crux. First we had a Gandarva and now we have Asura being made bad instead of good. Something is happening in this time. Most obvious conclusion would be much later interpolation than rest of 8th chapter but I think not – later interpolations are much more obviously our of place. This is a subtle shift. Needs explanation.

Adoption of other Great Gods – like Triambaka – is the possibility to be excluded. Because if one Great God is adopted, other Great Gods like Varuna the Asura has to be cast aside. We need to search for more evidence for this from the remainder of the Rig samhita.


8.103. 9 Good Lord of wealth is he to whom all Āryas, Dāsas here belong.

Now this is positively alarming – a lord of wealth to whom all Aryas and Dasas belong? What on earth is happening?

HYMN VII. Praskaṇva's Gift.

Dogs? What is happening? Bamboo? What are those – bows? What gifts are these Brahmins getting apart from the usual cows and horses?

Slaves are of course actually Dasas.

HYMN XLI. Soma Pavamana.

Chapter 9 is a boring and dull chapter highly repetitious for the moon sacrifice. I speed read through it.

At the end of 9/10 chapters some stark and obvious conclusions leap out.

1. These Aryans are a simple people – there is no necessity to bring complexity into their simple lives. So we can straightaway delete their possible sojourn through the BMAC region which I had discussed in some length – those can be attributed to the Mittanni - and just say – the Aryans came from further north and West, simple country cousins of the Mittanni and settled in the Afghanistan and NWFP region. They buried their dead and these are the Ghandhara grave culture phase 1. Multiple waves of these migrations explain the Dardic people as well. The Aryans had been and continued to pray to the Asuras and the younger war god Indra, which they learned from their more sophisticated bretheren the Mittani, who perished in the middle east. They had horses and raised sheep and cattle. The women raised cattle and cooked. Men raised cattle and horses, drank and fought. They had chariots and compound bows with bronze arrowheads. They had advanced metallurgy to support their bronze weapon consumption. They had knowledge of the night sky which was similar to the lunar calendars of other Aryan populations of Europe. They possibly also had some knowledge of the architectural and burial practices of their ancestors in Sintashta, which continued in the GGC phase 1.

2. What they did not know was – agriculture, caste system, prayer to non Vedic Gods like Vishnu Brahma or Shiva, or Durga. They had mainly given up city life. Rig samhita shows no evidence of familiarity with more complex sulba sutra or maths

3. The Aryans lived around 1200 BC based on lagadha’s astronomy.

4. The Rig Veda books are in chronological order.

5. The Rig Veda was composed in NWFP and Punjab bordering Haryana and Rajasthan.

6. Saraswati was Haraxwati of the Iranians and situated in Afghanistan or NWFP. Most likely it was Kabul which joined the Indus

7. The Aryans conquered the Dasyu around 1300 to 1200 AD, who were the post Harappan people who lived in the Indus and Punjab in small towns.

8. After contact, GGC shifted to phase 2 where they burned their dead before burial, similar to the post Harappan people.

9. Within a few decades, Arya and Dasyu were in alliance with each other in fighting each other.

10. Rig veda ends of most chapters show interpolations of later material. Disregarding these, there is evidence of some co-evolution of Aryans and Dasyus within a 100 years of their contact, including use of Dasas as slave labour, start of agriculture and some differences in the Gods to whom the Aryans prayed – Gandharvas and Triambaka making an appearance and Asuras changing their meaning from Varuna to demons.

11. There is no obvious reference to small pox. Prayer to rain for agriculture show importance of monsoon. Possibly these hymns will be also used in drought.

12. Indra comes fully developed and no protoform or Verethragna form is discernible