How a new study exposes Sangh's idea of ethnic and cultural 'purity' as delusional

Indians are the descendants of waves of ancient 'invaders'.

 |  7-minute read |   05-04-2018
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The Russian word "sputnik" was already a part of my consciousness from my boyhood due to the satellites which the Soviets launched into space. But it was the novel by Haruki Murakami – Sputnik Sweetheart – that informed me that the word "sputnik" in Russian meant "one who travels the same path" or "fellow traveller" or "travelling companion".

Then I met a fellow traveller – an American citizen in Cairo – whose mother was from the Russian republic Kalmykia: the only region in Europe where Buddhism is the most practised religion.

She told me that the word "sputnik" has elements which originate from Sanskrit, and went on to expound the likeness of Russian language and Sanskrit. Even the most Russian of all words, vodka, has its origins in the Vedic Sanskrit word for water - "udaka".

She was of the opinion that there was a common ancient culture that bifurcated into Indian and Slavic cultures.

Later, I went on to discover that Russian is the only European language that shares a strong common grammatical base with Sanskrit. The uncanny similarities between Sanskrit and Russian are pointed out in this 2014 article "Sanskrit and Russian: Ancient kinship". The article summarises, "The facts… lead us to conclude that during some period of history, the speakers of Sanskrit and Russian lived close together."

The Aryan debate: The latest findings from genetic studies

Like many Indians, I have always followed the debate between the Aryan invasion theory - for some - and the Aryan invasion myth - for others, especially the right-wing ideologues. I wanted to know the real truth because there were obvious loopholes in both sides of the arguments.

Now, the debate is finally getting settled through the study of genetic genealogy.

A comprehensive new study has been recently published as a paper titled “The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia”.

An article in about the study can be read here: Aryan migration: Everything you need to know about the new study on Indian genetics.  The study concludes "a southward spread of genetic ancestry from the Eurasian Steppe" and gives the following map.


Before the publication of the new paper, “The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia”, there were other recent papers on the same topic.

Researchers at the University of Huddersfield in the UK have proposed that the Indian population originated from three waves of migration from Africa, Iran and Central Asia over a period of 50,000 years. The first migration happened 50,000 years, the second 20,000 years ago and the third, "less than 5000 years ago" that "looks like a sign of the arrival of the first Indo-European speakers, who arose amongst the Bronze Age people of the grasslands north of the Caucasus between the Black and Caspian seas" - as said by Marina Silva, co-author of the study.  

In 2012, Anatole A Klyosov and Igor L Rozhanskii of The Academy of DNA Genealogy, Newton, USA, published a landmark paper titled "Haplogroup R1a as the Proto Indo-Europeans and the Legendary Aryans as Witnessed by the DNA of Their Current Descendents".

The word Aryan has been used to indicate the carriers of Indo-European languages and culture.

In the field of DNA genealogy, haplogroups pertain to a single line of descent, usually dating back thousands of years. Haplogroups are identified by an initial letter of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations, such as (for example) A → A1 → A1a.

R1a Haplogroup/Indo-European aka 'Aryan'

"Haplogroup R1a, or haplogroup R-M420, is a human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup that is distributed in a large region in Eurasia, extending from Scandinavia, Central Europe and southern Siberia to South Asia.

"While R1a originated circa 22,000 to 25,000 years ago, its subclade M417 (R1a1a1) diversified circa 5,800 years ago. The distribution of M417-subclades R1-Z282 (including R1-Z280) in Central and Eastern Europe and R1-Z93 in Asia suggests that R1a1a diversified within the Eurasian Steppes or the Middle East and Caucasus region. The place of origin of these subclades plays a role in the debate about the origins of Indo-Europeans." 

According to the paper by Anatole A Klyosov and Igor L Rozhanskii, "Indians" originated 20,000 years ago in "Central Asia", apparently in South Siberia or the neighbouring regions, such as Northern and/or North- western China, and arrived in India as the first wave of migration (R1a) 12,000 years ago.

The second wave arrived from the Russian plain along with the Indo-European language and culture about 4,500-3,500 years ago.

The paper suggests that "somewhere on this extended timescale, bearers of R1a1 (or the parent, upstream haplogroups) developed Proto-Indo European language and carried it along during their journey from Central Asia to Europe. The earliest signs of the language in Anatolia were detected by linguists, and dated by 9400-9600-10,100 ybp (years before present), which coincides with the data of DNA genealogy that is described in this paper".

Eurasian Steppe

All the recent genetic studies - in spite of certain differences - agree upon one single fact: migrations from the Eurasian steppe - that include present day Russia and Central Asia - have formed the population of India.

So the Aryans or the carriers of proto Indo-European language did migrate into India. So the migrations are not a myth; they have been sufficiently proven by multiple studies, whose findings, the right-wing Hindu ideologues will find impossible to refute.  

The 2012 paper by Anatole A Klyosov and Igor L Rozhanskii also suggested that Indians have links with proto-Slavic culture and the Altai region.

The map given by the recent the "Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia” also suggests the same.

The eastern movement of the ancient Yamnaya people also goes towards the Altai region and then goes southwards towards the Indian subcontinent.

Altai Region

The secluded Altai region is a Russian republic in Southern Siberia is also known as Russia’s Tibet. It encompasses the Altai Mountains, tundras, alpine meadows and thousands of lakes. It borders China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. It is also has a legend linked to the myth of Shambala - the Buddhist pure land.

mount-belukha_040518032433.jpgMount Belukha, located in the Katun mountains - Altai’s and Siberia’s highest peak - is believed to be the gateway to Shambala. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Altai originates from the word Altan - meaning "golden mountains" in the Mongolian dialect.

In Altai folklore, Mount Belukha, located in the Katun mountains - Altai’s and Siberia’s highest peak - is believed to be the gateway to Shambala.

Nicholas Roerich – the Russian painter, writer, archaeologist and spiritualist – searched for Shambala in this region in the 1920s and wrote about it in his books.

Belukha mountain is called in Altai - Muztau or Uc Sumer - meaning "white mountain". Sumer comes from Sumeru. This adds to the halo of Belukha mountain with its links to Vedic and Buddhist folklore.

The homeland of the Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) has also been traced to the Eurasian Steppe, specifically the steppes of present day Ukraine and Russia. One can read about the recent discoveries in this article

It is now proven beyond doubt that India and Slavic cultures had a certain common origin or a deep rooted connection. The close links between Sanskrit and Russian are now explained by the migrations suggested by the genetic studies. More research on this subject will yield more knowledge. The ancient world has only begun to reveal its deep secrets. The truths of the past will become clearer in the future.

Our world has been formed by migrations and mixing of diverse groups of people. This how our ethnicity and culture has been formed: organically through a long process of history.

The idea of ethnic and cultural "purity" - espoused specially by the right wing - is a delusion and an error.

We are all migrants into the land that we call ours. We are the descendents of waves of ancient "invaders". This truth has been adequately established by the science of genealogy.

Also read: Is Lufthansa trying to peddle an 'Aryan' theory of India?


Devdan Chaudhuri Devdan Chaudhuri @devdanchaudhuri

The writer is the author of 'Anatomy of Life'. He is one of the contributing editors of The Punch Magazine and lives in Kolkata.

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