While the discourse on the origin of the ‘Aryans’ has highly influenced political mobilization in India throughout the course of history, from Ambedhkar’s ‘Who were the Aryans?’ to Tilak’s ‘The Arctic Home in the Vedas’, and with all our politicians suddenly turning into historians, Mr. Tony Joseph spent nearly six years to conclude his latest work, Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came from. At an event in the India Habitat Centre on the 5th of February, a book discussion was organized to promote his work and understand some of the most intricate questions related to our past. The discussion was moderated by the Political Editor of The Caravan, Mr. Hartosh Singh Bal with the panelist Mr. Tony Joseph, a columnist and journalist in a conversation with the Congress MP from Thiruvananthpuram, Dr. Shashi Tharoor.
Mr. Joseph used six disciplines to justify his attempt to understand the origin of South Asians namely- History, Archaeology, Linguistics, Epigraphy, Anthropology and Genetic Science. Mr. Joseph was critical about the right-wing idea about Aryans that argues that Indians (Aryans) migrated from India to the rest of the world, mainly Central and West Asia and Europe. However, he took into consideration the idea of an “Aryan Invasion” as supported by the pioneers of Indian Archaeology like John Marshal.
The author’s curated historical safari takes the reader to a time when human species from Africa migrated to Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia and gradually the Far East. He also noted that the migration and mixing up of people wasn’t linear but was a process of various groups inter-mixing with each other. This possibly could be a reason why Hitler, Mussoulini and many Shahs of Iran claimed to be the descendants of Aryans like many Indian dynasties did, added Dr. Tharoor.
Both Mr. Joseph and Dr. Tharoor discussed various contrasting facts/assumptions related to the Harappans and the Vedic people which included the possibility of nature worship by the Harappans and the monotheistic cult of worship in the Vedic culture which started as “Nirguna Brahman” (Brahman without qualities) and eventually became “Saguna Brahman” (Brahman with qualities).
A discussion related to historical developments leads to an influx and amalgamation of numerous ideas, assumptions and disciplines which attempt to understand the past; and as Jawaharlal Nehru wrote during his prison days “History is not a magic show, but there is plenty of magic in it for those who have eyes to see”.
Pranav Kishore Saxena is the Editor-in-Chief of The True Voice.
The views expressed are the writer’s own.