Official history writing in the country is set to undergo a historic change with the Ramayana, Mahabharata and theories of Aryans being indigenous to India taking prominence over Left-leaning chronicles of the past.
More studies on the two Hindu epics would be priority areas for future historical research, said YS Rao, chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), on Friday.
A series of lectures from Thursday to Saturday on the Aryan-origin theory at ICHR and other forums shows this is a top priority for historians today, replacing primarily Leftist scholars who held sway since the 1970s.
Rao, council members Dilip Chakrabarti and Michel Danino, veteran archaeologists BB Lal and RS Bisht and Padma awardee David Frawley are among the speakers, or proponents of this line of history.
The spotlight is now on a controversial question: are Hindus, descendants of the Vedic culture, India’s original sons of the soil or immigrants who came in the second millennium BC?
The Aryan invasion theory — later modified into a migration hypothesis because of lack of evidence — has led to Hindu disunity.
It has been used to assert by Bahujan icon Jyotirao Phule in the 19th century, the Dravidian movement in the early 20th century and Adi (original people) movements of Dalits in Punjab, UP and the south in the 1920s that upper-caste Hindus oppressed the low castes.
European scholars and Leftist historians have cited philological evidence — connections between Vedic Sanskrit, old Persian and ancient languages from Europe — to argue that Aryans came from outside.
Politically, this has been used by so-called secular historians to see India as a melting pot of migrants —the ancestors of Hindus, Muslims and Christians.
Archaeologist Lal questioned Aryan invasion and migration. He said most Harappan sites were found near the Saraswati, which purportedly traced to the Ghaggar, a pre-eminent river in the Rig Veda.
The political purport: the Harappans and Vedic Aryans may have been one and the same, and thus today’s Hindus are of indigenous descent.
The problem: the Harappan script hasn’t been deciphered to prove this claim.