It is tragic that history books say that the Aryans invaded India and destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization. They were not kings or military commanders. They had neither an army nor weapons. They were priests, traders and people engaged in other urban occupations in Iran, fleeing in the face of religious persecution. They travelled in Indian trade ships and were brought to Indian cities by Indian traders and sailors. Not only was their coming not an invasion, even the migration was not without the consent of the people of the Sapt Sindhu. The towns and cities of Sapt Sindhu were very well-administered. This is evident from how they were maintained for such a long time. It would not have been possible for anyone to come and settle down without the consent of the government in such well-administered units and there is evidence to show that the Indo-Aryans, on arrival in India, settled down in the cities only.
The circumstances in which these Aryans came to India show that they were aware that they would be welcome. For them, fleeing from Iran was a compulsion, but coming to India was a choice, as they had several options before them. They could have gone to Turan, where Ajashrava was the king and patron of people of their religion. He continued to rule for several decades after the war with Vistasp as he is reported to have killed Zoroaster when the latter was seventy-seven years old. They could have gone to Egypt, which was a flourishing civilization and was closer. They could have gone to Greece, where some of them had gone. Amongst these options, which were easier, they chose Sapt Sindhu, a choice that reveals that they felt that it was the best for them. Evidently, they were in contact with a few prominent traders from India who welcomed their coming and offered assistance. It is only in this scenario that they could have settled down in the towns and cities of the Sapt Sindhu.
This peaceful arrival in India of a highly accomplished group of people has been portrayed in history as an invasion by hordes of semi-literate, bloodthirsty tribes on horseback with iron weapons, who considered cities to be the creation of demons and so destroyed them, while the civilized people of the Sapt Sindhu were too perplexed at the very sight of such uncivilized behaviour that they not only got beaten but left the place and moved away.
There is evidence in the Veds, as well as that external to them to establish that the Indo-Aryans did not invade India, but came with the consent of the Harappan people. First, the evidence from the Veds, which have these Richas composed shortly after their arrival in the Sapt Sindhu.
- Who, Agni, among your (followers) are the imprisoners of foes who among them are the protectors (of men) the splendid distributors of gifts. Who among them defend the assertion of untruth? Who are the encouragers of evil deeds?
- These your friend, Agni, everywhere dispersed, were formerly unhappy, but are again fortunate. May they who, with (censorious) words, impute fraudulent (practices) to me, who pursues a straight path, bring evil upon themselves.
(Rig Ved. M-5, S-12, R-4 and 5)
These Richas are ascribed to Rishi Sutambhar Aitarey. Evidently, he is a first-generation migrant. He has seen Iran and has gone through the turbulent times. In the first Richa he is speaking of the two sides. On one side are those who imprison their foes and protect fellow beings and on the other are those who defend the assertion of untruth and encourage evil deeds. The Rishi is remembering the bad days that are over. The second is significant. It shows that the Indo-Aryans on arrival were dispersed. This indicates that the settlement of the arriving population had been managed by the administrative machinery of the towns and cities of Sapt Sindhu. The entire population concentrating in one place would have made the municipal services collapse and cause difficulties. They spread the people over the place to ensure that no single town or city gets over burdened with the additional population. This, not only speaks of the efficiency of the governance of Sapt Sindhu, but also shows that they had accepted and assimilated the new population from the very beginning.
The arriving population being dispersed also goes to prove that they were not invaders. In an invasion, the invaders are unsure of their position and feel the threat of being attacked by the local population, to counter which they stick together and often make protective structures for themselves, like forts. The Aryan population felt no such necessity and was secure even though dispersed.
The Richa proceeds to say that they were formerly unhappy, but are fortunate again, an indication that the Rishi who composed it had himself come to Sapt Sindhu and was not a descendant of one of the migrants. As he is remembering the earlier unhappy times and is grateful to be fortunate again, it is not a situation in which refugees fleeing Iran had somehow found a place to survive, but a situation in which the host has made an effort to make them comfortable. The Richa concludes with the Rishi cursing the people who had censured him and had imputed fraudulent practices to him. This reveals the identity of the people because of whom these friends of Agni were formerly unhappy.
Apart from these Richas which directly speak of what the Indo-Aryans received on arrival, there are several passages in the Veds which show that they were living with the Harappan people. In some of them they appear to be in their cities. A few such passages are given here.
- I repeat with a (willing) mind, the unreluctant praises of Bhavya, dwelling on the banks of the Sindhu, a prince of unequalled (might), desirous of renown, who has enabled me to celebrate a thousand sacrifices.
- From which generous prince, soliciting (my acceptance), I Kakshivat, unhesitatingly accepted a hundred nishkas, a hundred vigorous steeds, a thousand bulls, whereby he has spread his imperishable fame through heaven.
- Ten chariots drawn by baysteeds and carrying my wives stood near me, given to me by Svanay and a thousand and sixty cows followed. These, after a short interval of time, did Kakshivat, deliver (to his father).
This excerpt from the book An Aryan Journey by Harsh Mahaan Cairae has been published with permission from Rupa Publications.