Myths, Hypotheses and Facts
Concerning the Origin of Peoples
The Indus Valley History Chronology
(Until the 11th Century C.E.)
The Indus Valley is commonly associated with India and the Indic peoples, disregarding the fact that this region has been always a distinct entity since old. In this brief essay, we do not intend to present an exhaustive study on the ethnic and cultural features that characterized the Indus Valley along the different periods of history, but rather a chronology illustrated with maps of the region, the kingdoms or empires that were ruling over the land and the immigration waves, in order to show the actual ethnic composition of the population of the Indus Valley since the earliest civilization until the Ghaznavid invasion.
There are many speculative theories and controversial opinions around this geographic area, according to the political or religious interests of the parties involved in the discussion. As a matter of fact, the Indus Valley has been historically and culturally much more closely related to the Persian world than to the Indian subcontinent, as this chronology will show. Nevertheless, this fact does not justify the present claims of the newly invented state of Pakistan, since such division has been defined only on religious grounds and not on historical, ethnic or cultural ones ‒ actually, mass migrations of millions of people from and to both sides followed the separation between India and Pakistan, making it meaningless any genuine claim based on historical or ethnic links.
On the other side, the Indian nationalist viewpoint rejects the unquestionable fact of the Aryan invasion, which is supported by overwhelming proofs, and labels this historical event as a myth. Such behaviour is not exclusive of Hindu nationalists, as they follow the typical chauvinistic ideology of many other modern political entities (as for example, the Soviet/Russian theory of the purely Slavic origin of Rus′, which against all proofs denies the Varangian colonization and the Khazar contribution, or the Romanians' Daco-Roman myth, or the many Arab fables and other similar revisionist fabrications of history). In the same way, Hindus also ascribe to their most ancient literature a much older composition period than the actual one, making the Vedic age extremely long, while in fact Indian history has not been dated until the 7th century c.e. and any previous alleged time of occurrence of events is uncertain with reference to the Indian accounts. It is possible to determine a chronology from non-Indian sources, mainly Persian or Greek, and probably the first recorded year which regards the Indus Valley is 326 bce, when Alexander the Great conquered the region.
The earliest civilization in the Indus Valley ‒ until 16th century bce.
The earliest recorded mentions of any population settled in the Indus Valley come from Middle Eastern sources: Sumerian, Assyrian and Hebrew accounts.
The Indus Valley is mentioned in Mesopotamian records as Meluhha, name that more specifically had reference to the Harappan Civilization, with which there was an intensive trade, mainly by sea (see route shown in the map). The origin of Harappans, according to their characteristics, is closely connected with the early cultures of the Mesopotamian region, primarily Sumerians and Elamites. Their languages belong to the same stock, as well as those of other Kushitic peoples, and it is not unlikely that there was a linguistic territorial continuity from Elam to the Indus Valley along the coasts of the Oman-Persian Gulf. Urbanization, irrigation technology, social organization, commercial patterns and many other features of the Harappan civilization were according to the Sumerian model. In a later stage, Harappa established links also with Northern Mesopotamian peoples, namely Hurrians, which were already in close connection with Sumerians. There is strong evidence that the first civilization developed in the Indus Valley belonged to the same ethnic, cultural and linguistic group of the early Mesopotamian-Elamite complex.
The mysterious land of Ophir mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures (1Kings 10:11; 1Chronicles 9:10), reached by the Phoenician vessels hired by King Solomon of Israel, was very probably located in the Indian subcontinent. The kind of goods that they imported from Ophir ‒gold, precious stones, ivory, sandalwood, peacocks and apes‒ favour this hypothesis rather than any other. Although Ophir is thought by many scholars to be in the south-western coast of India, others identify this name with the Abhira, a people settled in the Indus Valley. The original stock of the Abhira has still not been determined, however, some speculative theories try to find a link between Abhira-Apiru-Habiru based on apparent linguistic resemblances. Such theories should be discarded and regarded as conjectures unless conclusive proofs are given. Similar to this, another alleged connection is hypothesized between the Pani, a people of merchants mentioned in the vedas, with the Phoenicians. Such relationship is either anachronistic or contradictory: Phoenicians did not call themselves that way, but by their national name, Kan'ana, Kenachnu, that is, Canaanites. It was the Greeks who called them Phoînix, hence the Latin-derived term Punic. Therefore, if they were identified in the vedas by their Greek name, this means that the vedas are even much more recent than anybody may expect, as the Greeks arrived in India in 326 bce. This fact dismisses all the claims of early composition of the Aryans's sacred literature. Otherwise, if these books are indeed previous to the Greeks' arrival in India, the association Pani-Punic-Phoenician is groundless ‒ unless the Aryan invasion of India is post-dated of many centuries, after they had met the Greeks in the Middle East! Yet, there are common features between the Pani and the Phoenicians, and if they were the same people, the name given to them by the vedas, so similar to that one by the Greeks, should be considered an astonishing coincidence.
Notwithstanding, it is possible that Semitic peoples were present in the Indus Valley and India in those times: the intensive trade with Mesopotamia may have involved also Akkadians; on the other side, Solomon and the Phoenicians may have established colonies as they did in Sheva, in Egypt and throughout the Mediterranean Sea, and some settlers had chosen to stay.
The Aryan Invasion
India's Dark Ages ‒ until 517 bce.
The Indus Valley civilization suddenly came to an end. As it was stated above, this essay is not an exhaustive study of every point, but only a brief chronology of the relevant events happened in the different periods, therefore, we will not expose here the evidences of the Aryan invasion. Some aspects that we may consider are the following:
· The intensive trade with the Middle East ceased, and any reference to India in this period hardly exists in Mesopotamian sources, as no civilization was developed, not any important city was built, and the past splendour of the Indus Valley was no longer remembered. The only reference that we find probably connected with the Indian coastland is the Biblical Ophir, from which the Phoenicians brought rough stuff, not manufactured items, to Israel.
· There is not any bilingual document in the Harappan and Sanskrit languages which may have made possible to decipher the first one. This is a strong evidence that there was no interaction between Harappans and Aryans, not even a peace treaty (while such kind of bilingual records were common in the ancient Middle East, of which the best known is the Rosetta Stone), but a war in which the Aryan élite subdued the defeated people and erased their culture.
· The caste system dates back to this period, and genetic studies show that this structure of social division was imposed by Aryans over the native population. Genetics also prove that in early times there were two main migration flows into the Indian subcontinent: the first one was of Kushitic peoples, that founded the Harappan civilization, and the later one were the Aryans.
· The vedic deities are mentioned in Hurrian/Mitanni documents dating back to ca. 1600 bce, long before they were known in India, in treaties with the Hittites. Specifically Mi-it-ra, Aru-na, In-da-ra and Na-sa-at-tiya are recorded.
· There are many common characteristics that Aryans of India share with the Celts: similar caste system with the categories in the same order, same privileges for brahmins and druids, belief in reincarnation, burning of the dead, similar traditions and myths, and even the same distinctive symbols, the swastika and the sunwheel. Their mythology is identical, with two opposed groups of deities which suggest actually an ancient rivalry between two clans of the same people, and a war that forced them to separate from each other, leaving their homeland. It is feasible that Aryans and Celts were those ancient clans that shared a common land, which they left, the ones emigrating eastwards and the others westwards.
Towards the end of this period, Indian Sanskrit writers (Yaska, Panini) attest the arrival of non-Aryan cavalrymen mainly of Scythian and Iranian stock, among whom the Kambojas, that will be exposed later in this essay. In 517 bce, King Darayavaush I (Darius the Great), conquers the Indus Valley.
The Persian Empire
The Achaemenid conquest of the Indus Valley ‒ until 326 bce.
Medo-Persians ruled over the Indus valley for nearly two centuries. In this period, they brought their culture and renewed civilization patterns. It was the beginning of a series of immigration waves and kingdoms that succeeded for several centuries before the Aryans would take back control over the region.
In the map above they are shown the names of some of the provinces in which the Persian Empire was administratively divided. It is significant that we find Haraiva (the land of Aryans) and Haraxvaiti (Sarasvati) in the Iranic region, not in India. Therefore, the mysterious and never found river of the vedic literature may be located in present-day Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, it was not the Aryans that moved westwards from India, but the contrary: it was the Medo-Persians who conquered the land where Aryans once lived, before they reached the Indus Valley. They are also shown some of the peoples that would become relevant in the further history of the Indus Valley: the Scythians, also called Saka, who became the main ethnic component in the region.
The Achaemenid Empire was multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. The Medo-Persian kings allowed free movement of peoples throughout the empire. The Indus Valley was the eastern frontier land, and the Achaemenids not only established garrisons but also colonies along the trade routes. They introduced also the Zoroastrian religion.
It is in this period that India is again mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures ‒Hodu, actually, the Indus Valley‒ in the Book of Esther, as a land in which also Israelites settled among other Persian subjects.
Alexander the Great
Greek culture introduced in the Indus Valley
Alexander conquered the Persian Empire and extended its boundaries, comprising the whole Indus Valley within the borders of his empire. On his march over the Ganges Valley, his army refused to go ahead for further conquest. Three years later, he died in Babylon. The Seleucids, that inherited the largest part of his empire, were unable to keep the eastern lands. Nevertheless, the brief period of Greek rule was enough to make an important cultural contribution: Greek remained as one of the official languages in the Indus Valley even under the Maurya kingdom. Alexander also produced a massive movement of people towards the east who followed his multi-ethnic army, and even today there are groups claiming to be descendants of his soldiers.
The Mauryan Empire
India's Golden Age ‒ 305-185 bce.
Seleukos Nikator traded the Indus Valley and other territories with Chandragupta Maurya, in exchange of war elephants. In this period, the region was unified with India under a non-Hindu kingdom.
The Maurya rule over the Indus Valley lasted around 120 years. There is still not certainty about the origin of the Mauryas, however, the most creditable hypotheses consider that they were Abhira, Scythian, Massageta or Iranian. In fact, they were not Aryans, and not hinduist either ‒ besides the documentary records, it results evident from the titles applied to them in the puranas, such as Asura and Sudra, which convey negative meaning from a Hindu viewpoint.
The Persian and Greek influences were still relevant, even though the actual Greek rule on the region was of only twenty years. Colonies of peoples from both the Achaemenid and Alexander's Empires were established throughout the Indus Valley, mainly in the north, and they were so important that Ashoka, the greatest Mauryan king, issued edicts in Greek and Aramaic ‒ a stone with engraved one of these bilingual edicts was found in Kandahar. Both these languages were used for official decrees along with Prakrit.
Much of the history of this period had to be recovered through archaeology and external sources, because the memory of this non-Hindu reign was purposely neglected and almost erased by the Aryan revisionist historians of the 11th century c.e. and later.
The Mauryas were succeeded by the Sunga, that took control of the eastern part of the empire, but the Indus Valley and other north-western territories were conquered by the Greeks from the Bactrian Kingdom.
The Indo-Greek Kingdom
Hellenism is consolidated in India ‒ 185-55 bce.
The Greeks established a series of realms, rather than a kingdom properly, seizing the whole Indus Valley within their dominion. They promoted the Hellenic cultural patterns as well as Greek language, favouring a fusion with the existing Indian culture. Concerning their ethnic contribution, they were not only Greeks, but also Hellenized peoples of various origins, from every province of the former Persian Empire. Indeed, soldiers of the Greek armies were enrolled from the conquered lands, and also some sectors of the population embraced the Greek culture ‒ in the same way as Romans granted the citizenship independently of ethnicity, provided that certain conditions to be considered as Roman were fulfilled.
Although the Indo-Greek realms disappeared as political entities under the Scythian invasions, their cultural influence remained of primary importance in the forthcoming kingdoms that succeeded in the subsequent centuries. Many terms of the Greek language and the Greek alphabet were adopted and widely used in the Indus Valley and Northern India.
The Scythian Kingdom
Defining the ethnic composition of the Indus Valley ‒ 55 bce - 405 ce.
The Scythians, known in this region as Saka, were already present in the Indus Valley since the Achaemenid rule and even earlier. Pushed southwards by the expansion of the Yüeh-Chih, many different tribes commonly grouped under the general denomination of Scythians or Scytho-Sarmatians, progressively conquered the Indo-Greek Kingdom and established their own rule. They became the most relevant ethnic component in the Indus Valley, Rajasthan, Gujarat and some areas of the Upper Ganges Valley.
The Scythian Kingdom was a complex of principalities which for most of the four and half centuries of their history coexisted with the Parthian and Kushan Empires sharing a large extension of the same territory. In Periplus Maris Erytraei, Scythia is the name given to the Sindh region. Other sources report an equivalent term, Sakasthan, applied to some lands inhabited by Saka tribes. They settled a kingdom by the coast in Abiria and Surastrene (Sindh and Gujarat) around 110 bce, from where they moved northwards into the Greek Kingdom, achieving a total conquest in 55 bce. They established their capital at Taxila, and after further expansion, having reached up to Patna, they appointed two Kshatrapas (Persian term meaning governor), the "Northern Kshatrapa" with Mathura as capital, and the "Western Kshatrapa" (actually, south-east of the Scythian territory) based in Ujjain. While along the 1st century c.e. the main Scythian Kingdom was conquered by the Kushan and the Northern Kshatrapas became their vassals, the principality of the Western Kshatrapas endured until 405 ce.
The Scythian rulers adopted the Hellenic culture, and it is likely that Greeks had kept important positions in social and political affairs. Indeed, in the Indian epic literature as Harivamsa, Mahabharata and Ramayana, the Greeks (Yavana) are mentioned as one of the "barbaric" tribes together with Scythians (Saka), Parthians (Pahlava), Bactrians (Bahlika) and Caucasians (Kamboja), and also as associated with them in the government and army.
About these peoples it will be briefly exposed later in this essay.
The Indo-Parthian Kingdom
Zoroastrian influence ‒ ca. 21-75 ce.
Soon after the Kushan took over the Scythian Kingdom, the Parthians, people from Central Asia related with the Avars, seized the same realm from the Kushan. King Vindafarna (Gondapharna), separated from the Arsacid Parthians and conquered the Indus Valley, Gandhara and Sakasthan. A characteristic of this period is the absence of religious symbols previously represented in coins and pictorial art, owing to Zoroastrian rules.
The Parthians are called Pahlavas in Indian accounts, and they founded a kingdom in Southern India that existed between the centuries 3rd and 9th ce.
The Kushan Empire
A pluralist kingdom ‒ until ca. 250 ce.
The Kushans were one of the Yüeh-Chih tribes, probably identified with the Tocharians or related to them. Pushed westwards by the Hsiung-nu and in conflict with the Parthians, they settled in Bactria, from where they launched the conquest of Northern Indostan and built an important empire that established commercial relationships with China and Rome, becoming the main link between East and West. Kushan was a multi-ethnic kingdom strongly influenced by Hellenism. They adopted the Greek alphabet for writing their own language, adding a letter for the sound "š/sh", and kept the Greek coinage style. Mainly Zoroastrian at the beginning of their expansion, the Kushan gradually embraced also the Hellenized way of buddhism, which was the widely practised religion in Scythian India, in opposition to the Aryan brahmanism.
During the Kushan reign the flow of Iranic and Eurasian tribes from Central Asia to the Indus Valley continued, partly as a result of the domino effect caused by peoples displacing other peoples from east to west and from north to south (as the Kushans themselves were evicted by the Hsiung-nu and they in turn drove the Scythians to the Indus Valley, which they subsequently invaded). These massive immigration waves occurred until the early 6th century, and traced the ethnic map of the region up to the present.
The Kushans are credited as the founders of Peshawar, then called Purushapura, which was one of their capitals, being Kapisa and Mathura the other imperial residences.
The Scythian Western Kshatrapas were not conquered, and even survived the Kushan Empire, of which they were either vassals or allied. Kushan suzerainty over them is attested by some documents at least during the reign of Kanishka I, the most important Kushan king, who is credited also as sovereign over Ujjain. However, in a later period they seem to be rather allied independent rulers.The Sassanid Empire
The return of Persian rule ‒ until 410 ce.
The Parthian and Kushan domains were superseded by the Sassanids, a Persian dynasty that brought back to history the Achaemenid imperial features. Architecture, arts, music and every cultural expression represented a Persian revival, as well as the promotion of the religion of Zarathustra. The Sassanid Empire at it greatest expansion almost achieved in restoring the ancient Achaemenid borders.
The Sassanids controlled both banks of the Indus during the 4th century c.e. Then, Kidarites and Hephthalites weakened the eastern boundaries, founded kingdoms at the expenses of imperial territories and invaded the Gupta realm.
In the Indus Valley, the Sassanid conquest did not completely obliterate the Kushan kingdom, which survived at the east of the Indus until 320 c.e. and the Scythian Western Kshatrapas, that ruled until 405 c.e. The collapse of Kushan enabled the expansion of the Gupta Empire up to the Sutlej-Indus line.
The Gupta Empire
While Sassanids recalled the ancient glory of the Achaemenids, in Northern India the Guptas arose as the rebuilders of the Mauryan Empire. They were the first Indian autochthonous dynasty that achieved in ruling over those territories after five centuries of foreign dominion. Their kingly names resemble those of the Mauryas, and it is common that in Indian chronologies they are placed immediately after them, neglecting the gap that existed between the two empires.
They are the Hunas of the Indian accounts and are commonly called "White Huns", although they certainly were not Huns, but an Iranic people with some odd characteristics that make them difficult to classify. For example, they practised polyandry, which is typically Aryan, but they buried their dead, which indicates a Scythian or Turkic cultural influence.
The Hephthalites determined the end of the Gupta Empire, settled they capital at Sakala (Sialkot) and during their rule they had heavily overthrown some patterns of Hindu social system. The territory of their empire is roughly similar to that of the Kushan as shown in the map above. While for India they represented a determinant ethno-cultural force, for the Sassanids they marked only a parenthesis on their rule over the Indus Valley. However, in this period other tribes from Central Asia arrived in the region, mainly of Scytho-Sarmatic stock, which became Rajput, Jatt and Gujjar clans.
In 557 the Sassanids, allied with Kök-Turk tribes, defeated the Hephthalites and restored the eastern boundaries of the Persian Empire.
Second Sassanid Period and the Rai Dynasty of Sindh ‒ until ca. 630 ce.
This return of the Sassanid rule marked a definitive stage in the ethnogenesis of the peoples of the Indus Valley, at this point composed almost exclusively by groups coming from the west in the numerous immigration waves, from nearly every land comprised between the Mediterranean and the Central Asian steppes.
Contemporary with the later Hephthalite period and the ending stage of the Sassanid rule, the Rai dynasty, a Mauryan line of kings, reigned over Sindh. They were buddhist and their rule ended by a hinduist conspiracy. Their history is known only from muslim sources and consequently uncertain.
The Sassanid Empire fell under the Arabs, that have not played an important role with regard to ethnic contribution in this area of the world, as their influence has been rather political and religious. Therefore, we present here a brief summary about the peoples that inhabited the Indus Valley region and their descent according to their origins and culture.
Peoples of the Indus Valley ‒ Immigration waves from the 6th century bce to the 6th century ce.
After the dark ages that followed the Aryan invasion, the Indus Valley became a conquest territory and was almost permanently linked to the Mediterranean-Iranian region, not to India. The ethnic Aryans were reduced to an insignificant number, if not totally absorbed within the different peoples that took possession of the land and colonized it.
The Indian epic accounts mention a series of tribes that were prominent throughout the centuries, whose names are easily recognizable in western non-Aryan tribes. It is erroneous to associate terms just by apparent resemblance, as some so-called scholars use to do in order to theorize about unlikely or even impossible ethnic relationships. However, while the similarities between some of these names are indeed casual, others are documented as actually related to the same people in different geographic environments.
In this essay we mention those groups whose identification is certain and disregard the others whose names may mislead to speculative associations. Therefore, as we have already discarded the equations Abhira-Habiru and Pani-Phoenician (see above at: Ofir), we do likewise with the even more improbable relations Yadava-Yehudi and Yaudheya-Yehudi. Neither the Yadavas, by coincidence connected in some way to the Abhira, nor the Yaudheya, have nothing in common with the Yehudim (Jews), and suggesting any link based on the name resemblance is laughable.
Here we present in chronological order, concerning to the period in which they arrived in the Indus Valley, the most relevant groups that defined the ethnic complex of the population of that region:
· Kamboja / Kambūjiya: They were among the first tribes mentioned in Indian early accounts as the Ashtadhyayi by Panini. The Greek-Georgian geographer and historian Strabo referred that their original homeland was Kambysene in the Caucasus, a land neighbouring Armenia and Media Atropatene. They spoke Avestan language and were Zoroastrian. By the time in which Darayavaush I reigned in Persia, two Kambujiya tribes were already settled in the Hindu-Kush area: the Aspasioi and Assakenoi of the Greeks ‒ this last name may be connected with the Askuza of the Assyrians Chronicles, the Biblical Ashkenaz, which indeed is mentioned together with Armenia and Minni, in agreement with the geographic location given by Strabo. In the Indian records these two tribes are called Ashvayana and Ashvakayana, names that make reference to their quality of expert horsemen ‒ it is from the term Ashvakan that the ethnonym Afghan is probably derived. It might be also possible that the name "Kaukasos Indikos" given by the Greeks to the Hindu-Kush was related to this people, as they were Caucasian in origin. Commonly regarded as Scythian tribes, by their characteristics they would better qualify as Sarmatians, as it is reported that also their women used to fight in war, which was a typically Sarmatian feature. Adding support to this thesis, Pliny in his Historia Naturalis calls them Asii/Osii and Asoi, that are equivalent to the As or Aorsi tribes, which were Sarmatian; these terms are related with the ethnonyms Jasi/Jat.
A curious coincidence is that their Caucasian homeland was by the rivers Kurush and Kambujiya, which are also names of Achaemenid kings (Cyrus and Cambyses). About the origins of King Cyrus there are several legends, but these names suggest that he may have been from this tribe, at least on paternal or maternal line, therefore partially Sarmatian. Ironically, he was killed in war against a Sarmatian queen. In any case, the Kambojas were closely related to the Persian/Iranic world, not to India, and were not Aryans. In fact, in the Indian epic literature they are first acknowledged as kshatryas for their excellence as warriors, but then degraded to Asura (evil spirits), mlechcha (barbaric), sudra (lower caste), such categories for their non-Aryan and non-Hindu inclusion.
· Yavana: This is the Sanskrit name for the Greeks, derived from the Hebrew/Aramaic Yavan, the root from which most languages of the Southern Asian region have taken the designation for this people. Often mentioned together with the Kamboja, the Yavana are like them praised as warriors but also for their wisdom ‒ only to be later denigrated for their non-Hindu status. They were not only Greeks in the strict sense, but every Hellenized people, of which many Semitic, mainly Jews, that received Greek education and that arrived with the Greek armies or settlers. Although their self-designation was Έλληνες (Hellenes), around the 3rd century ce, they adopted for themselves the term Ρωμαίοι (Romaioi), conveying among other implications the meaning of "Christian".
The Greeks' cultural influence in the Indus Valley during the first millennium c.e. was impressive. Besides a considerable amount of Greek words that were commonly used in the languages of the region, they also introduced scientific knowledge, astronomy and even magic, being credited for the first treatise on horoscopes and astrology translated into Sanskrit.
· Saka: Scythians were undoubtedly the most numerous group in the Indus Valley, and the main ethnic origin of the peoples still present in that area. They were Eurasian tribes that from Asia Minor expanded throughout the continent, yet leaving scarce traces of their culture except rich tombs and other few elements that allow us have a general knowledge about them. They were nomadic and did not build cities. They were expert horse-tamers and metal-workers, fond of gold adornments, by religion they were mainly fire-worshippers. More information about them is found here.
· Pahlava: Mentioned together with the peoples presented above as declassed kshatryas, they are the Parthians, whose language is called Pahlevi. Their homeland was Parthava, by the south-eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. They were related with the Avars and followed the religion of Zarathustra. In the Indian records, Pahlava and Parasika -that is, Parthians and Persians- are associated or even identified with each other as, by coincidence, they are in the same way referred to as Aparni and Apharsi in the Biblical Book of Ezra, 4:9.
From the Indus Valley, a group of them moved to Southern India, in the region that after them was called Pallavanadu, and founded a kingdom which lasted between the centuries 3rd and 9th c.e.
The Pahlevi script is based on the Imperial Aramaic alphabet and includes several Aramaic words, although it is an Iranic tongue.
· Bahlika: The Bactrians, whose capital city was Balkh. Like the preceding ones, they were mentioned in the early Indian epic works as warriors that did not submit to hinduism. The Bactrians were an Iranic people, champions of the Zoroastrian faith.
· Dahya: The Dahae, a Scythian tribe often associated with the Saka Tigraxawda and the Saka Hawmavarga, related also with Avars and Parthians, they were mercenaries for the Persians against Alexander the Great and then joined him in the conquest of the Indus Valley. They became a Rajput clan.
· Gujjar: They appeared in India with the Hephthalite invasion, and were very probably a branch of the Kök-Turks, related with the Khazars, as their ethnonym suggests to be. They were certainly non-Aryans, and their religion was fire-worship. The Gujjars became among the most relevant Rajput clans. One of their branches, the Pratihara, ruled at Kannauj over Northern India until the Ghaznavid invasion.
· Kushan: The founders of the empire described above.
· Hunas: The Hephthalites, already outlined.
The immigration waves of these non-Aryan, non-Hindu tribes were overwhelming, so that any previously settled population became insignificant in number. From these peoples descend the largest majority of the inhabitants of the entire region comprising the Hindu-Kush area, the whole Indus Valley, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Kashmir and the Upper Ganges Valley. All Rajput clans, Jats, nomadic metal-workers and horse-tamers appeared in India after the arrival of these tribes.
Other minor ethnic contributions reached this region with different purposes other than invasion and conquest, but rather commercial and religious. Among them, Assyrians and Israelites.
Assyrians performed a series of mass deportations within their empire; according to this policy they placed the Israelite Tribes in the Upper Mesopotamia and Media. During the Achaemenid rule, these Tribes expanded throughout the Persian Empire and reached also the Indus Valley. The ascertained presence of Jewish communities in India dates back to this period. Israelite groups may have also been among the Kambojas, as some Afghan tribal names seem to indicate. By the 1st century ce, the Assyrians of the Kingdom of Adiabene converted to Judaism ‒ land in which a consistent number of the Hebrew Northern Tribes were still settled since their deportation. By the same time, the Apostles of Yeshua of Nazareth were sent to Assyria in search of the Lost House of Israel. Since this period, Assyrians became the most important missionaries of the new faith (later known as Christianity) throughout Asia, reaching in subsequent centuries India and China. Meanwhile, Jewish disciples of the Nazarene arrived also in the Indus Valley ‒ Eusebius, the Didache and other documents attest that Thoma and Nathaneel preached to the Israelites dwelling in the Indo-Parthian Kingdom during the reign of Gondapharna. Indeed, the historic Christian communities in India are mainly of Jewish and Assyrian Israelite origin.
The Rajput and Shahi Kingdoms ‒ until ca. 1020 ce.
The fall of the Sassanid Empire was followed by a chaotic period in which the Indus Valley was not an unified territory within any defined realm, but fragmented into different areas of influence of one or other kingdom. Therefore, it is not possible to establish a chronology for the whole region, but at least two main areas should be distinguished: Sindh-Lower Pundjab and Gandhara-Upper Pundjab. While Sindh became one of the Rajput kingdoms, Gandhara was ruled by the Shahis, a royal line of Kamboja-Afghan origin and probably related with the Kushan as well.
This period is characterized by the insertion of the Rajput clans into the Indian society. By the middle of the 8th century c.e., the Gujjar Pratihara dynasty founded an empire in Northern India, leaving the Indus Valley kingdoms in a position of buffer-states between the Rajput domains in the east and the muslim expansion from the west, carried out first by Arabs and later by Turks.
Hindu revisionists ascribe to Rajputs a descent from the ancient kshatryas of the Vedic age in order to deny their Scythic, non-Aryan lineage, but all evidences plainly demonstrate that Rajputs were foreign warriors that were offered and granted the status of kshatryas during this period, and there is no mention of them in any Sanskrit document prior to the end of the Hephthalite rule. Genetically, they represent the Saka, Dahae, Gujjar and Hunas population introduced as a component of Hindu society with the purpose of being engaged in fighting the muslim invaders.
Sindh and Lower Pundjab
The Rajput era in the Lower Indus Valley was short-lasted, as in 711 c.e. the Arabs conquered Sindh and Multan (Lower Pundjab), the same year in which they invaded Spain in the context of global expansionism pursued by the islamic hordes. They settled their capital at Mansura in Sindh. The muslim conquest happened during a critical situation in Sindh, by then ruled by hinduist brahmins that took over the kingdom from the previous buddhist Rai dynasty and imposed the iniquitous caste division of society, discriminating the large majority of the population, composed by non-Aryan peoples that kept their previous religious beliefs. The muslim rule did not improve the conditions of the most disadvantaged lower castes, anyway. Sindh became a muslim principality independent from the caliphate in 871 c.e. until the Turk Ghaznawid invasions in the 11th century c.e.
Gandhara and Upper Pundjab
Following the Sassanid policy that established the Kushanshahr in the former Kushan territories and after the dismemberment of the empire, the Kambojas of Gandhara organized the resistance against the Arabs and established a kingdom whose ruling dynasty is known as Turkshahi, thought to be related with the Kushano-Hephthalites, by that time belonging to the wide compound of Turk peoples. In 671 the Arabs seized Kapisa and the capital was moved to Udabhandapura by the Indus. The Turkshahi were buddhist kings. Two centuries later, they were replaced by the Hindushahi, in concomitance with the transition period in which hinduism was on a rising influence in disadvantage of all the religions previously practised throughout Northern India by the non-Aryan peoples. The end of this state happened in the early 11th century c.e. with the Ghaznawid invasion and subsequent islamization.
Although the Pratihara dynasty did not rule over the Indus Valley, their influence was relevant and the population of their kingdom was closely related with the peoples of Pundjab and Sindh by ethnic and historic links. They were Gujjars, a Scythian tribe, and became powerful for their resistance against the Arabs and the subsequent muslim invaders during the whole Rajput era (8th-10th century c.e.). From Rajputana and Gujarat they expanded their domain northwards and settled their capital in Kannauj, by the Upper Ganges. Their kingdom was destroyed in 1019 by the Ghaznawid terror campaigns aimed at the conquest of India.
The Ghaznavid Invasions ‒ 11th century ce.
The history of the Indus Valley concerning this chronology ends with the Ghaznavid invasions, that marked a sharp division in the general history of the Indian subcontinent, with the consolidation of totalitarian regimes and the annihilation of the previous cultural and social patterns. The Ghaznavid terror policy consisted mainly in mass deportations of peoples to be sold in the slave markets throughout the muslim domain, and plunder of temples and palaces, usually followed by destruction and devastation of cities. The number of captives were hundreds of thousands, according to contemporary accounts, so that people from the Indus Valley and northwestern India were found everywhere from the Middle east to Central Asia and present-day Afghanistan. Sindh, Gandhara and the Pratihara kingdom were overrun in few years by the fury of the muslim Turk hordes. A long period of Turk rule followed.
Myths, Hypotheses and Facts
The purpose of this chronology is to unveil some myths that are widely accepted as true as consequence of history revisionism, to present the facts, and to formulate some feasible hypotheses according to the actual historic events. Ultimately, this analysis of the facts is closely related with the development of a particular people: Roma. The correct sequence of the ethnic, social, cultural and religious features that succeeded along the centuries considered in this chronology provide a key for understanding the origin of this people and the reasons of their exodus towards the West.
There are several conclusive evidences which establish the arrival of Hindu domination over that area in the later Rajput period and not before, evidences that are neglected by the scholars supporting the Aryan origin of the peoples of the Indus Valley. When those scholars are requested to explain the reasons by which Romany culture is quite the opposite to any Indian pattern, they assert, without any proof, that probably Roma were a very different people when they were still in India, but they are still unable to explain why, where, when, from whom and in which historic circumstances Roma allegedly acquired their present cultural features, as well as they cannot find any feasible explanation of the reason by which Roma migrated forever from the Indus Valley towards the West.
Notwithstanding, the chronology provides us a solution to this quest, with particular clues given by religious and linguistic factors.
The Hindu-Rajput Dark Age
The religious issue is very important, as it is usually and erroneously assumed that India and the Indus Valley have always been Hindu since ever. Actually, as the chronology shows clearly, there existed different beliefs in this region, and religious co-existence was a general feature. The most widespread practise until the early Rajput era has been buddhism, with some alternate periods of Zoroastrian major influence. This entire situation changed abruptly with the rise of hinduist aristocracy and the subsequent muslim invasions. Another factor that generated confusion to historians is that Arabs called "Hindu" to every non-muslim inhabitant of the Indus Valley and India, regardless of their actual religious affiliation.
Hinduism was the religion of Aryans, whose ruling caste, the brahmins, took advantage of the decline and fall of the Sassanid Empire to gain influence on the region. They seized the power by conspiracy in Sindh around 630 c.e. The religious transition began in Pundjab and Rajputana by the 8th century, with the expansion of hinduism increasing progressively during the three centuries of darkness that characterized the Rajput era. The first problem that brahmins had to settle was the inclusion within their discriminatory caste system of the subdued non-Aryan peoples, since they were not born into any of the defined Aryan castes. In order to do so, they had to annihilate the Scythian concepts of equality, freedom and brotherhood, as well as Scythians' language and any other feature that was contrary to hinduist patterns. The concept of a society without social classes and democratic election of leaders, characteristics of the Saka tradition, were unconceivable and abominable for the Aryans. Documents and treatises written in Greek, Avestan, Scythian and other languages were soon destroyed by the brahmins, as well as institutions, universities, monasteries and temples, until leaving almost no trace of them. Other Greek, Persian and Scythian literature on earlier religions, social structures, cultural patterns, history, traditions and rulers were falsified by alteration or interpolation in order to claim their caste system as the oldest which existed in the land. The Aryans initiated a process of replacement of the ethnic identity by the caste identity ‒ conversion was difficult because one had to be born into a particular caste, and this is determined by destiny, therefore, they had to assimilate the previous professional status of people: Saka warriors were granted the privilege of becoming kshatryas, while the Saka peasants were reduced to the humblest position, thus separating the same people into high-class Rajput and low-class Jats, Lohars, etc. The caste division became progressively more rigid and complex; the Aryan clergy imposed on non-Aryan subdued peoples further divisions into jatis, occupational sub-castes, such as carpenters, smiths, brewers, weavers, carders, etc. Indeed, some ethnic groups had even lost their tribal identity to remain only as jatis.
The Rajput rule was a military dictatorship directed by a coalition of Rajput kshatrya nobility and the brahmanic clergy, devoted to the excessive wealth and building luxury palaces and temples, work of thousands of slaves or prisoners. Great amount of treasures and gold were hidden in the temples. After the Rajput rulers, the muslim invaders completed the work of annihilation of the previous culture.
The Arab and Turk Invasions
The main distinctive characteristic of the muslim invasions was the extraordinary number of prisoners, deportations and enslavement that they carried on. These facts are not recorded by any biased historian, but by muslim scholars as Ibn-Khaldun, Abu Nasr Al-'Utbi, Nizamuddin Ahmad and others. All invasions were performed following the same pattern: all fighting men of the defeated army were slain, the remaining men, as well as women and children, were forced to convert or die, and then deported and sold as slaves throughout the Middle East.
The first muslim invaders were Arabs, that conquered Sindh. The actual development of this conquest is not clear, existing contradictory accounts. Although it is feasible that Arabs were welcomed and helped by Jats and other groups who were oppressed by the Hindu rule, it is certain that their situation did not improve at all once the Arabs were in power. On the contrary, in every city, town and village in Sindh, tens of thousands warriors were killed, their women and children enslaved and forced to convert, deported and sold as slaves in the markets in Mesopotamia and throughout the caliphate, young women were forced to marry Arab soldiers or become concubines in sheikhs' harems. In exchange for the depredation of Sindh, the Arabs received a great cultural and scientific contribution: Sindhi poets, philosophers, mathematicians, astronomers, scientists, physicians, chemists, etc. were those who taught the sciences and knowledge that later the Arabs would transfer into Europe as their own. While Sindh helped to civilize the Arab kingdom, the introduction of islam in Sindh did not produce any progress since then until today: it is enough to consider Sindh's present literacy rate of about 40%, while the immediate Indian neighbour, Rajasthan, has over 60% and it is one of the less developed Indian states.
The muslim Turks carried on more devastating and extremely violent invasions than the Arabs on the Indus Valley and India. The accounts of the Ghaznavid conquest attest of incredible numbers of prisoners and cruelty beyond imagination: once that all soldiers were killed, hundreds of thousands of captives were bound, weakened, humiliated, forced to convert and sold in the slave markets. It is not the case of giving detailed description of those terror campaigns in this essay. Some theorizers speculate that the origin of Roma may be found in these mass deportations: it is rather difficult to imagine that those prisoners, who were sold as slaves, scattered throughout the empire and forced to become muslim may have ever found the way to flee as an organized group composed by people sharing the same language and culture. Such an hypothesis sounds rather impossible, considering the systematic annihilation of personality performed on the captives by the Ghaznavid oppressors.
The muslim rule did not weaken the power of the brahmins; on the contrary, it helped to consolidate the influence of the hinduist clergy over the local population. The caste system was not affected or modified at all. Indeed, while forced conversion of the deportees was part of the process for being sold to their muslim masters, in the Indus Valley and India the muslim rulers were interested in holding the political power and collecting taxes rather than in mass conversion of the people, which would have been also much more difficult to achieve. The local authorities in towns and villages were not muslim, but brahmins, who actually exerted the power. Quoting "An Essay on Hinduism", by Kelkar, we can have a description of the situation in that period: "After the overthrow of the Hindu princes by the mohammedans, the Hindu princes and chiefs lost a good deal of their prestige, but the leadership of the Hindus instead of passing into the new political authority, namely mohammedan rulers, passed almost entirely to the brahmans". [p. 149] "There were no powerful Indian rulers to question their right to decide what should be or should not be the religion of the people, and by what principles their social life should be governed. When the mohammedans had overcome all opposition and settled down as rulers, unless some of them were fanatically inclined to make forcible conversions, they left the Hindus in the hands of their religious leaders and whenever they wanted to pacify them by quiet methods, they made use of brahmans as their accredited representatives". [p. 22]. In fact, centuries of muslim domination over India, did not produce the mass conversion of the people as it resulted in almost every other land which was conquered and ruled by muslims.
The Romany Exodus
The accurate analysis of the historic development of the facts during this period helps us to find the reasons for the emigration of Roma towards the West and the most likely time in which such event occurred.
We have enough elements to support the hypothesis that the causes for the Romany exodus were mainly of religious nature, not after the muslim invasions, but at the rise of hinduist hegemony during the Rajput era. The early accounts of the arrival of Roma in Europe are indeed related with religious identity, rather than ethnic: either alleged or true, the various reasons given by Roma for being granted permit to pass the frontiers were pilgrimage, persecution or other similar claims, and they have always identified themselves, since the very beginning, as Christians.
The Nazarene faith arrived in the Indus Valley during the 1st century c.e. According to the scarce documents that survived, this faith was first adopted by the exiled Israelites that were present in India since at least the 4th century bce. Although some traditions should not be taken seriously as true facts until the events they assert are historically proven, once they are verified the account deserves to be credited at least up to the degree provided by evidences. One of the ancient literary texts that was regarded as a legend is the apocryphal book of the Acts of Thomas, which in chapter 17 records that the Apostle Toma visited the court of King Gondapharna in Pundjab. The historian Eusebius of Caesarea, in Historia Ecclesiastica, III.1, mentions Toma as the Apostle sent to the Kingdom of the Parthians. Gondapharna has been considered only a legendary figure by historians, until his existence was verified in 1872, and the period in which he reigned was established thanks to an inscription dated at his 26th regnal year, which was the year 47 c.e. According to this discovery and further research, it is unavoidable to acknowledge that the author of the Acts of Thomas was well acquainted with contemporary sources, as the king's name could not have been known by writers of a later period.
After this first approach of the early Christianity to the Indus Valley, Assyrian missionaries held an extensive evangelization work throughout the continent, as well as other emissaries who transmitted the epistles written in Greek, which became the common language of Christians in all the lands formerly reached by Alexander's army and widely used by Hellenized peoples.
At this point, we can resort to Romany language in search for a clue to recognize the early religious belief of Roma, when they were still exiled in the Indus Valley. One of the terms that no scholar has been able to explain in a satisfactory manner is the very ethnonym of this people: "Rom". Some speculative theories have been formulated in order to find any Sanskrit origin of this word, but without any convincing result. Instead of an ethnic designation, this term may have been a religious identity: Ρωμαίοι (Romaioi), namely, Christian.
A second important Romany word leading to the same conclusion is khangheri, today translated as church. Indeed, such term indicates specifically either a synagogue or a Christian temple, not any other. Why does Romany language have this word for worship place, and not any Sanskrit term meaning either hinduist temple or buddhist stupa? Why there is not even any Romany term meaning mosque?
The scenery in which the Romany exodus took place is better understandable if we consider the beginning of brahmanic oppression and forced inclusion into the caste system as the reason for an organized group of people, with a distinct culture, laws and religious patterns, to emigrate towards a defined direction: the Christian kingdoms in the West.
It is also reasonable to place this migration before the muslim invasions: it was almost impossible that people who were enslaved and forced to convert may have managed to escape within a brief period, so that they did not even keep any Arab nor Turk term in their language, nor any custom or other cultural feature either (Turk influence in the Balkan Romany groups occurred after they were already in Europe, during the Ottoman rule, since the Balkans and Anatolia were Roman-Byzantine domain when Roma arrived in Europe). Roma stayed in Armenia as long as the region was under Christian rule, before entering Europe.
The language spoken by Roma before the exodus from the Indus Valley is usually assumed by scholars to have been a kind of purely Sanskrit one, which evolved along the way to Europe. However, there are many incongruences in such hypothesis. They do not consider that Greek was widely used in the region before the Rajput era, and ascribe Greek terms in Romany as acquired in a much later period, after Roma reached Byzanth. Yet, original Romany may have had even more Greek than today, and many of the words that had been lost with time may have been Greek, not necessarily Sanskrit.
Some examples to consider:
·When Roma began their migration, it is supposed that they did not perform such a long way on foot, but they should have had horses and chariots, and that they walked on roads and not all the time across the fields. There should have existed names for all these essential elements for a long trip, and by coincidence, none of such names is Sanskrit: drom (road) is Greek; vurdon (chariot) is Iranian; grast (horse) is Armenian; petalos (horseshoe) is Greek. Iranian and probably Armenian words were used by Parthians.
·Many scholars erroneously associated Roma to some Indian (actually Scythian) groups like the Lohars by apparent similar traditions, usually occupational, and even dared to identify Roma as a jati of metalsmiths. Again by coincidence, names of metals and tools are Greek: sastri (iron), xárkuma (copper), isviri (hammer), vamoni (anvil), karfin (nail), klidi (key), petalos (horseshoe), etc. Now it arises a question: if Roma had learnt the names of metals and tools in Greece, it means that they were not metalsmiths before, and any relationship with such occupational sub-castes is untenable. Otherwise, we can better consider that they indeed worked on metals during their stay in the Indus Valley, and in their original language such items were known by their Greek names, while gold and silver, which they did not own because it was privilege of the Rajputs to possess such precious metals, were known in the language of the rulers.
·Numerals: it is an established fact that people tend to think and say numbers in their native tongue even when reading texts written in another language. However, it is easier that the lower numbers are soon learnt and adopted rather than the higher ones. Numerals from 1 to 5 in Romany are Sanskrit, while the higher ones are Greek. If some Greek numeral names had replaced the Sanskrit ones as usually supposed, the logical process is that the lower numerals had been adopted, not the reverse as it is the case in Romany.
It is absolutely certain that Roma did never know the Devanagari writing system, introduced in the 11th century c.e. Until then, the most common alphabet used in the Indus Valley was the Greek one.
When Roma decided to leave the land in which they had dwelled for centuries, they had a defined goal: the Christian realm in the West. They departed hastily and hurried to reach the lands they were directed to, without staying for long time in the countries they found on their way. The unique characteristics of the Romany Law provide many keys to know the reasons for such exodus. They were a different people, having an ancient Semitic tradition, deeply influenced by Zoroastrian mysticism and by Scythian lifestyle ‒ they had probably also a certain degree of intermarriage with their Scythian neighbours, those that underwent a different destiny, either exiled in the Middle East or subdued by the Aryan rulers in the Hindustan.