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Sonia Gandhi and the great Aryan myth 
By Francois Gautier

Everything has already been said about why Sonia Gandhi holds such a fascination for India: the fact that she belongs to the Nehru dynasty, or the eternal inferiority complex that a part of the Indian intelligentsia seems to be holding towards the West. This is particularly striking amongst a section of the Indian media (Outlook, Asian Age), which always appears to look at India through a western prism and constantly worry how the foreign press views India, how the foreign countries - particularly the United States of America - perceive India, what the human rights agencies say about India...

But what has never been said is this: the white skin of Sonia may also bewitch Indians because of the theory of the Aryan invasion, which is still taken as the foundation stone of the history of India. According to this theory, which was actually devised in the 18th and 19th centuries by British linguists and archaeologists, the first inhabitants of India were good-natured, peaceful, dark-skinned shepherds, called theDravidians, who had founded what is called the Harappan, or Valley of the Indus civilisation. They were supposedly remarkable builders, witness the city of Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistani Sind, but had no culture to speak of, no literature, no proper script even. Then, around 1500 B.C., India is said to have been invaded by tribes called the Aryans: white-skinned, nomadic people, who originated somewhere in Western Russia and imposed upon the Dravidians the hateful caste system. To the Aryans are attributed Sanskrit, the Vedic, or Hindu, religion, India's greatest spiritual texts, the Vedas, as well as a host of subsequent writings, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata, the Ramanaya, etc.

This was indeed a masterly stroke on the part of the British. Thanks to the Aryan theory, they showed on the one hand that Indian civilisation was not that ancient and that it was posterior to the cultures which influenced the Western world - Mesopotamia, Sumeria, or Babylon - and that whatever good things India had developed -Sanskrit literature, or even its architecture - had been influenced by the West. Thus, Sanskrit, instead of being the mother of all Indo-European languages, became just a branch of their huge family. Thus the religion of Zarathustra is said to have influenced Hinduism, and not vice versa. And on the other hand, it divided India and pitted against each other the low caste dark-skinned Dravidians and the high caste light-skinned Aryans, a rift which is still enduring.

But today, this theory is being challenged by two new discoveries, one archaeological and the other linguistic. Firstly, in the Rig Veda, the Ganges, India's sacred river, is only mentioned once, but the mythic Saraswati is praised fifty times. For a long time, the Saraswati river was indeed considered a myth, until the American satellite Landstat was able to photograph and map the bed of this magnificent river, which was nearly 14 km wide and took its source in the Himalayas. Archaeologist Paul-Henri Francfort, who studied the Saraswati regionat the beginning of the Nineties, found out that the Saraswati had "disappeared", because around 2200 B.C., an immense drought reduced the whole region to aridity and famine. "Thus", he writes, "most inhabitants moved away from the Saraswati to settle on the banks of the Indus and Sutlej rivers". According to official history, the Vedas were composed around 1500 BC, some even say 1200 BC. Yet, the Rig Veda describes India as it was before the great drought which dried up the Saraswati, which means in effect that the so-called Indus, or Harappan civilisation, was a continuation of the Vedic epoch, which ended approximately when the Saraswati dried up.

Recently, the famous Indus seals discovered on the site of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa have been deciphered by Dr N. Rajaram, a mathematician who worked at one time for the NASA and Dr Jha, a distinguished linguist. In the biased light of the Aryan invasion theory, these seals were presumed to be written in a crude Harappan (read Dravidian) script, although theyhad never been convincingly deciphered. But Rajaram and Jha, using an ancient Vedic glossary, the Nighantu, were able to prove that the script is of Sanskrit lineage and have so far deciphered 2000 seals. As the discovery of the Saraswati river, the decipherment of the Indus scripts also goes to prove that the Harappan civilisation, of which the seals are a product, belonged to the latter part of the Vedic Age and had close connections with Vedantic works like the Sutras and the Upanishads.

Hence, it is becoming more and more clear that there never was an Aryan invasion in India, a theory which was imposed upon the subcontinent by its colonisers and is today kept alive by Nehruvian historians (such as Romila Thapar), Christian missionaries (it is thus easy to convert the downtrodden tribals and Dravidians, by telling them that Hinduism was a religion thrust upon them by the hated "Brahmin" invaders) and the communists (who hate anything Hindu). But as long as India will not rewrite its history books andteach its children to be proud of its ancient and indigenous civilisation, there will be other Sonia Gandhis who will come and exploit India's Secret Craving For The White.

Gautier is the South Asia correspondent of `Le Figaro', France's largest circulation newspaper, and the author of `Rewriting Indian History'. The views expressed in this piece are solely the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of his newspaper. His column will appear every alternate Monday. 



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