by Bhagwan Singh, Aditya Prakashan, F-14/65, Model Town
II, New Delhi,1995
South Asian History has been greatly distorted by the tendentious,
colonial and eurocentric rendition of the development of the region.
One of the most distorted areas of history has been the question
of Aryans and the Indus Valley civilisation.
In this new work, Bhagwan Singh presents an important thesis
on the origins of civilisation in South Asia. In the process,
he also takes a hard look at the vast body of literature on the
subject on this subject that has come down from colonialist scholars
and their latter-day descendants.
Bhagwan Singh discusses the "Aryan" problem and settles
this long-running debate with convincing arguments. As the title
Vedic Harappans, itself suggests, Bhagwan Singh is not treading
the old path. For him, the Vedic literature describes the Harappan
reality. These are not two different or opposing tendencies.
In short, if we discount the colonial legacy of docile self-denials
and falling quickly in line with alien expectations, archaeology
was at no stage at variance with the Aryan character of the Harappan
On the question of the Aryan invasion, he discusses in detail
all the arguments put forward by the proponents of this theory.
In a chapter titled The Myth Of Aryan Invasion, he points out
that "there is neither any literary account of invasion of
India by Aryans nor any archaelogical evidence to support such
He forcefully argues this case: "As we have seen, the
Vedic people did not come from outside. The Harappan cities, the
first flowering of Indian civilisation, did not fall because of
Bhagwan Singh argues with evidence:
Aryans were born with ar/al, the digging stick or hoe in their
hands. It was neither their colour, nor their blood nor yet the
size and sharpness of their nose which made them proud of themselves.
They were proud of their being Aryans or cultivators at a time
when the tribes surrounding them were at the stage of hunting
It was the Aryans who discovered agriculture and initiated
the agrarian revolution and a new mode of production. Earlier
the Aryans were called Devas. The term derives from ti/di, meaning
burn or shine, and refers to their control over fire.
It was the discovery of fire including the technique of producing,
maintaining and controlling it that revolutionised their thinking
and prompted them to undertake new ventures.
He concludes that :
The Aryans were primarily agriculturists. They derived their
name from this advancement at a time when people around them were
lingering at the lower stage of gathering and hunting. Some of
them formed their own kindered communities, refused to move ahead
and censured them for their madness for ruining the natural sources
which provided them liberally.
Later on these Aryans developed into great traders and travelled
all over the known world of the time, taking their agriculture,
trade, language and customs with them.
Bhagwan Singh also examines the hypothesis of Proto Indo-European
language in a chapter titled The Language The Harappans Spoke.
Proto-Indo-European is not a fact but an idea floated in order
to displace Sanskrit from the centre of discussion. it the product
of a magical realism created for projecting the white man's racial
superiority back into the hoary past.
He concurs with the view that Sanskrit is a refinement of different
Prakrits which were spoken at the time in India. And that out
of these Prakrits, natural languages, a refined and classical
language-Sanskrit emerged. "It is admitted (Harmatta 1992)
that Sanskrit and Vedic languages are refinements of the Prakrit
languages." Bhagwan Singh has dealt with matter at length
in his Hindi book, Arya Dravid Bhashyaon Ki Moolbhoot Eikta.
Vedic Harappans is a "must read" book for South Asians in general and those who are seriously interested in History of the region in particular. Bhagwan Singh has put to rest a lot of myths about the history of South Asia and deserves praise for this heroic effort.