NS: How would you explain the intimate relationships shared by various European languages with Sanskrit, in a non-invasion, non-migration scenario?
N Kazanas: I would not think of attempting to explain the affinities in the IE family of languages as anything but the result of migrations.
Some claim that there are random resemblances without any further implications. In other words, there is no real relationship. But this is an absurd position: for the verb |is| we have Sanskrit asti, Greek esti Latin est and so on; for the noun |mother| we have Sanskrit mātar, Greek mētēr, Latin māter and so on; for |family|kind|tribe| Sanskrit janas, Greek genos, Latin genus; for |serpent| we have Sanskrit sarpa, Greek herpe-ton, Latin serpens, and so on. And so on for hundreds of lexemes. The odds against a familial relationship for chance resemblances are trillions.
Others again claim vaguely that there were “waves of transmission”. But this too is impossible. The waves travel in a medium (water, air). What was the medium here and what was the transmitter? Only people speak a human language. Therefore, people must have travelled – if this involved only traders!
Also Read: Vedic and Harappan are respectively literary and material facets of same civilization
NS: Some scholars have pointed that, Rigvedic people were different from Harappan people. Some even identify Harappan people with Dravidian culture and Indus script with Dravidian language family. What is your view on this?
N Kazanas: There are many conjectures about the Indus script. Some see a form of Old Vedic; others Dravidian; others magic symbols.
The fact is we do not know what the Indus script signifies.
But the Indus (or Harappan) seals and many other artefacts suggest articles of the post-Vedic general Hindu culture. I would not say that it is Sanskritic or Dravidian. The yogic figure among animals is usually identified with Lord Śiva paśupati (lord of the animals). Surely Śiva is not exclusively Sanskritic nor exclusively Dravidian.
BB Lal, the famous archaeologist has published two studies on the continuity of the representations on the seals: 2002 The Sarasvatī flows on, Delhi, Books International, and 2009 How Deep Are the Roots of Indian Civilisation Delhi, Books International. If anything, the evidence herein adduced shows a Sanskritic continuity that we find in the whole of North India, including Bihar and Bengal.
NS: Some AMT scholars also argue that, migrating Aryan speakers spread their language and culture on the native Indians through a process of assimilation. What is your view on this?
N Kazanas: The proponents of the AIT have since the 1990’s changed their tune from plain invasion to immigration to small, peaceful waves that left no traces on the native culture other than the language!
This last view is, even more, absurd than the previous ones. Because it raises, even more, difficult questions.
Now, we all know that Vedic is not a simple language like modern Hindī or Spanish. So how and why would the Indian (or Harappan) natives adopt such a difficult, highly inflected language? Such an adoption could have come about only through coercion and coercion implies conquest, complete and total.
I might add, that by the end of the 15th cent CE, Greece was almost totally conquered by the Muslims (except for some islands). Yet the Greeks never adopted the language of the Muslims except for some words – which happens even when there is only a friendly relationship. The Hindus did not adopt wholly the Persian language in the Middle Ages after their submission. But Urdu remained in the North, a mixture of Persian and Hindī and Hindī absorbed much Arabic vocabulary.
The linguistic result is one that only coercion and conquest could have produced, not a peaceful entry of small successive waves.
Another paradox left unexplained by non-indigents is this. The Harappans had a script but left no literature. The incoming Vedic had no script, were illiterate but had an enormous literature in the Vedic Hymns and perhaps other pieces!
Note also that at the time of (supposed) entry c 1700 BCE, the Harappans had a much higher culture than the nomadic Aryans and were moving eastward to the Gangetic plain. Why would the immigrants stay in desiccated lands?
Also Read: Rigvedic people not Harappans, Naditama Saraswati is Helmand in Afghanistan
NS: Another argument proposed by AMT scholars is that Avestan was older than Vedic Sanskrit. They further point out that, neither do the Zoroastrians show any memory about the geography of India nor do the Avestan literature shows any familiarity with Indus River. Thus, it is argued that only a migration from Iran into India must have been possible and not otherwise. What is your view regarding this? How to reconcile this with a non-invasion scenario?
N Kazanas: Mainstreamers, of course, will propose emphatically that Avestan is older than Sanskrit. It is one of their props for claiming that the Indoaryans moved from ancient Persia into Saptasindhu. But I have yet to see one rational demonstration of this. All such claims are based not on actual evidence, but on reconstructions of proto-languages which are sheer conjectures and in any case, prove nothing and sheer assertions!.
It is not true at all that Avestan shows no memory of the geography of India. In the Gathas, there is mention of some 16 places the Avestan people travelled before settling in Persia and one of them is Hǝptahǝndu! This is a transliteration of Saptasindhu, land of the seven rivers. Now the name or this collocation sapta sindhavaḥ (plural) occurs in several Rigvedic hymns, but nowhere in the Avestan hymns.
Avestan has also the river name Haraxvaitī which again is a transliteration of Sarasvatī. This again is a singular occurrence in Avestan. The word hara- has no other cognates in the language. But the word saras ‘rapid-motion, pool’ has cognates not only in Vedic (verb √sṛ > si-sar-ti, sar-ati, lexemes sṛtvan ‘nimble’, sarit, saraṇa, etc. but also in other IE languages: Greek hallo-, Latin salio, Tocharian salate, all ‘leap’.
Now it would be utterly absurd – would it not?– to claim that the Indoaryans came from Persia, bringing the name Haraxvaitī and changing it to Saras-vaitī (one who has rapids, whirlpools) so that saras would engender other cognates with √sṛ ! On the other hand, it is quite rational to say that the Avestan people moved out of Saptasindhu taking with them the name Hǝptahǝndu and the river Haraxvaitī.
I present 42 pages of evidence showing that Vedic is much older than Avestan in chapter 4 of my 2015 publication. In these pages, I refute R Schmitt’s 2009 claim for Avestan anteriority point by point. I challenge anyone to disprove me in the same way!
NS: You have often argued for an older date for Rigveda than the conventional dating of 1200 BC. A recent seminar of Sanskrit scholars in India has also arrived at a much older date than presently accepted using astronomical and literary evidence. Can you shed light regarding evidence that point towards Rigveda being composed long before than currently believed? What according to you is a probable date for Rigvedic composition? And how an older dating affects the currently mainstream theory of Aryan migration?
N Kazanas: Earlier, I pointed out that the conventional dating of the RV c1200 is based on the mechanical repetition of Müller’s ridiculous early conjecture based on a ghost story and some Eurocentric ideas.
It is not only astronomical references, some of which have been disputed. There is much more, linguistic and literary evidence.
It would be foolhardy to assign a definite date(s) because there is no such definite evidence. What we can and should assert with certitude is that the RV was composed on the whole before the rise of the Indus-Sarasvatī (Harappan) culture c3000. Tradition wants the RV to have been completed by, say, 3100. And this is as far as one can go.
The archaeological evidence, and particularly expert archaeologists of the area, Possehl and Bridget Allchin, tell us that Sarasvatī stopped flowing down to the ocean at about 3800 BC. Consequently, the hymns that praise Sarasvatī as “best-river, best mother, best goddess” etc. must have been composed before that date. Otherwise, the Indus would have been the best river!
The Rigvedic hymn 6.61.9,12 saying that Sarasvatī (goddess and river) spread the 5 tribes beyond Saptasindhu must also have been composed at that date or before.
Then there are certain (more than 10) common items among the Harappan archaeological evidence that are not found mentioned in the RV but are found abundantly in post-Rigvedic texts, especially Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras.
iṣṭakā ‘brick’, not mentioned, but we find the stone, wood and mud.
Urbanisation, not mentioned; the word pur means ‘defense, protective construction’ and is rather super-natural (and sometimes metallic!).
No ruins – even though after 1900 BC many towns were abandoned.
No cotton – but skin, wool and tree-bark are mentioned.
Fixed altars or hearths are not found – but are plentiful in Brāhmaṇas.
Then, no allusions to iconography – painting, relief or statuary. And so on with several more items.
True, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But if we read a modern novel set in a big city and find no mention of Russia and unified Germany, no mobile telephones, no coloured television, no free Mandela, no Princess Diana and so on, then we know that it was written at about 1980 or before.
NS: Some scholars argue that if there was a migration, it was out of India and not into India. What is your assessment of it? Are there any pieces of evidence that point towards a migration out of India?
N. Kazanas: The evidence for the OIT (Out of India Theory) is chiefly linguistic and, of course, the reversal of the mainstream AIT.
Sanskrit is, on the Preservation Principle, the oldest of the IE sister-languages. And most scholars agree that it preserves most of the Proto-Indo-European features in phonetical, lexical, and syntactical areas, particularly the roots. It itself is a derivative showing change and attrition.
I have no archaeological training and cannot evaluate the evidence in this field encompassing Central Asia, Persia, Pontic Steppe and North Europe. But I would ask in all seriousness established IEan archaeologists like Kuzmina, Mallory et al, to re-examine the evidence amassed putting aside, if possible, their customary views about the correctness of the AIT. Look at the evidence afresh. I feel sure they shall find much to indicate an Out of India Movement.
A clarification here. The real spread in the OIM took place from Bactria, not Saptasindhu itself. First the Vedics moved there as Baudhāyana says, then spread north and north-west in small or large waves.
In 1997 Joanna Nichols also proposed on her reading of the linguistic evidence that the central area of dispersal was Bactria.
NS: Can you share any latest developments or discoveries regarding the Aryan issue? What are the implications of these discoveries?
N Kazanas: I am afraid I have retired for some years and no longer follow the latest publications- after 2012. So I can say very little about recent developments.
But in many publications, I detect a strong element of vanity and ambition to be original. A recent 2014 publication by an Indian has little linguistic evidence, much unreliable archaeology and cites only one of my works, an essay of 2002 (!!) ignoring more than 20 publications since then.
Again, I repeat that one who really cares about these issues should read my 2015 publication.