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Who are we Indians Where did we come from Many of us believe our ancestors have lived in South Asia since 'time immemorial' But as it turns out 'time immemorial' may not have been all that long ago To tell us the story of our ancestry journalist Tony Joseph goes 65000 years into the past when a band of modern humans or Homo sapiens first made their way from Africa into the Indian subcontinent Citing recent DNA evidence he traces the subseuent large migrations of modern humans into India of agric. Indians are a people who are always a bit confused about their identity as Indians maybe because the nation itself is a relatively recent construct not ignoring the mythical Bharata and the regional and caste identities are strongly embedded Ever since the West discovered the mystic East there have been attempts to create an Indian past which is wholly spiritual based on the mythical Vedic Aryan by the proponents of the enlightenment In colonial times this Aryan became an invading race who destroyed the mature Harappan civilisation the same figure was taken to be the epitome of race purity and became the basis of the toxic Nazi doctrine And later on in a reversal of the myth the invading Aryan became the villain who destroyed the peaceful Dravidian civilisation in the Dalit version of historyAll these are now discounted by serious historians The widely accepted theory about Indian prehistory is that the Harappan civilisation perished because of a severe drought and the Indo Aryan speakers migrated to the Indian subcontinent later on from Central Asia and mixed with the indigenous population There is however a vociferous fringe who staunchly oppose this they are adamant that there have been no migrations to India at all and that the Vedic people are the direct descendants of the Harappans All arguments to the contrary are taken to be part of a colonialist conspiracy to undermine Indian cultureSo far the hotly disputed evidence for the migrations have been mostly archaeological and linguistic But now a new tool is available with the scientific community for the analysis of the origin development and spread of homo sapiens across the globe geneticsTony Joseph has been writing regularly about how the recent advances in DNA research have been impacting the research into prehistory Now he has arranged all his arguments in the form of this highly readable bookIn the introduction he writesThere is a reason why this book could have been written only now and not earlier It is because our understanding of deep history has changed dramatically in the last five years or so Large stretches of our prehistory are being rewritten as we speak based on analysis of DNA extracted from individuals who lived thousands or tens of thousands of years ago Many facts that we took for granted have been proved wrong and many uestions left dangling in the air as historians archaeologists and anthropologists argued it out among themselves have been given convincing new answers thanks to the recently acuired ability of genetic scientists to successfully extract DNA from ancient fossils and then seuence it to understand all that bound people together or distinguished them from each other If technology had not matured to the level it has scientists would not have been able to make the discoveries they are making today And if it were not for their latest findings our prehistory would have remained as vague and contentious as earlier and this book would not have been written So how exactly does DNA put paid to the debate Well without going into the technicalities it is all detailed in the book let me try to explain in plain terms how this whole thing worksAll the genetic code that makes us what we are are packed into twenty three pairs of chromosomes that we all carry in the nuclei of our cells plus the mitochondrial DNA or the mtDNA that stays outside This is called a person s genome In the twenty three pairs one of each pair inherited from each parent exactly one pair the sex chromosomes will differ If the type is XX the person will be female and if the type is XY the person will be male The Y chromosome is passed relatively unchanged from male parent to male progeny while the mtDNA is passed on without change from the female parent to both male and female progeny but it gets further transmitted only through the female line Thus the mapping of these two over the human population spread across the globe helps us to get a genetic map of the world s population And since there are minor mutations to both the Y chromosome and mtDNA that get accumulated over time it provides us with the genetic history of the changes over time too combined with the DNA analysis of skeletal remainsThis is super condensation and hence a bit simplistic Detailed and reliable info is available in many places especially on the netAided with this technology of DNA analysis the following is the timeline of India s population during prehistoric times1 70000 years ago Homo Sapiens starts move out of Africa where they originated2 65000 years ago The Out of Africa OoA contingent reach the Indian subcontinent where they meet other archaic human species whom they must have subdued and subsumed in their spread all the way across South Asia to Australia3 45000 to 20000 years ago The First Indians descendants of the OoA group start using Microlithic technology and spread across India4 7000 to 3000 BCE Migration of Iranian agriculturists from the Zagros region to South Asia leads to their mixing with the descendants of the First Indians These people create the Harappan civilisation which exists from 5500 to 1300 BCE through the Early Mature and Late Harappan Eras until it dies off most probably due to a massive drought The Harappans migrate towards the south5 2100 to 1000 BCE Pastoralists from the Kazakh Steppe the famed Aryans of legend migrate into the Indian subcontinent mixing with the Harappans Thus we have two main DNA mixes that is found in India today those of the Iranian agriculturists the First Indians called the Ancient South Indian ASI group and Iranian agriculturists the First Indians the Central Asian Pastoralists called the Ancient North Indian ANI group They were called Dravidians and Aryans in the pastThere was some migration from China as well especially in the North EastNow the million dollar uestion how does one say that the migration happened in one direction that is towards India Why can t it be the other way round as the Out of India adherents claim The author presents the following arguments against this1 The Indo Aryan languages which spread across most of Europe and Asia could conceivably have gone from India However if such a thing happened the genetic footprints of the First Indians the people who came originally out of Africa and settled in the subcontinent 65000 years ago should be seen across the populations of Europe This is conspicuous by its absence2 The horse which is the prime animal in the Vedic religion is absent in the Harappan culture which is strange if the Vedic culture directly follows from it Also there are no vestiges of the Vedic deities anywhere in Harappa There are a multitude of other factors that the author points out I am only highlighting a few prominent ones3 The Dravidian languages the roots of which are markedly different from the Indo Aryan ones has strong connections to Elamite the language of the Iranian agriculturists at its roots It has borrowings from Sanskrit too and vice versa this points to the intermixing of language at later stagesOnce again I am over simplifying for brevity There are a lot many other arguments uoted by the author many of them raised by than one historian archaeologist linguist from across the world Out of India theory holds sway it seems with very few reputed scholarsIn conclusion the author saysThe best way we can define ourselves is as a multi source civilization not a single source one drawing its cultural impulses its traditions and its practices from a variety of heredities and migration histories The Out of Africa migrants the fearless pioneering explorers who reached this land around sixty five millennia ago and whose lineages still form the bedrock of our population those who arrived from west Asia and contributed to the agricultural revolution and the building of the Harappan Civilization which then became the crucible for new practices concepts and the Dravidian languages that enrich much of our culture today those who came from east Asia bringing with them new languages and plants and farming techniues and those who migrated here from central Asia carrying an early version of what would become a great language Sanskrit and all its associated beliefs and practices that have reshaped our society in fundamental ways and those who came even later seeking refuge or for conuest or for trade and then chose to stay all have mingled and contributed to this civilization we call Indian We are all Indians And we are all migrants This I likeThis is an extremely readable book on a fascinating subject and will whet your appetite for research I recommend it to all of my friends who love food for the intellect

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Early Indians

Heavily on path breaking DNA research of recent years But it also presents earlier archaeological and linguistic evidence all in an entertaining and highly readable manner A hugely significant book Early Indians authoritatively and bravely puts to rest several ugly debates on the ancestry of modern Indians It not only shows us how the modern Indian population came to be composed as it is but also reveals an undeniable and important truth about who we are we are all migrants And we are all mixed. The whole book was based on the Aryan Invasion theory It is good to note that there is some evidence which debunks this theory Rakhigarhi DNA study uestions Aryan invasion theory claims the authorThe findings are based on the study of the ancient genome in the skeletons excavated from RakhigarhiRead ateconomictimesindiatimescomarticlesIn the later parts of the book the author claimed there was a shred of archaeological evidence that the native people of Indus valley worshipped a tall pillar like structure probably Lingam which is considered as phallus worship then Aryans dismantled the indigenous beliefs and points out the denouncing of SHISHNA DEVA literally phallus worship I was fortunate enough to be doing a course on Vedas and Upanishads in Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies Online and asked a scholar about the above claim Daniel Simpson who is one of the teachers replied to me As far as I am aware the Rig Veda only makes a couple of references to shishnadeva a compound formed from i na meaning tail or penis and deva a term for a deity related to the English word divine It can be understood as one whose god is the phallus but might just mean lustful One of these references in a hymn to Indra Rig Veda 7215 was translated in the 19th century as let not the lewd approach our holy worship A recent translation by the scholars Joel Brereton and Stephanie Jamison says Sorcerers do not incite us Indra nor sycophants with their knowing wiles o most powerful one He Indra will vaunt himself over the stranger over the race contrary to our ways Let the phallus worshipers not penetrate our truthThey explain this as follows Here various threats to the truth of our people are rendered helpless by our resistance and Indra s power threats internal to the community namely sorcerers and flatterers and the stranger an rya but an enemy people who deviate from our ways and phallus worshipers presumably non ryas outside itIt is not at all clear what this means There is no mention of lingam worship in the Rig Veda as it is understood today ie involving a symbol linked to Shiva It seems likely that this line just distinguishes the Vedic religion from pre existing folk traditions perhaps including what scholars call fertility cultsThe other reference again in a hymn to Indra Rig Veda 10993 is even obscure It includes a line about someone perhaps Indra smashing the phallus worshipers in the latest translation or saying he slew the lustful demons in the 19th century version However there is plenty of war like language in the text and it s not reserved for shishnadeva The nomadic tribes of early Vedic times were apparently asking gods for help in battlesWe know very little about earlier traditions because they left few records The free standing columns found in the Indus Valley don t really tell us much about the place of what Tony Joseph calls phallus worship so it seems a bit far fetched to conclude that the Vedas sought to stamp it out based on these verses and some damaged archeological relics

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Ulturalists from Iran between 7000 and 3000 BCE and pastoralists from the Central Asian Steppe between 2000 and 1000 BCE among others As Joseph unravels our history using the results of genetic and other research he takes head on some of the most controversial and uncomfortable uestions of Indian history Who were the Harappans Did the 'Aryans' really migrate to India Are North Indians genetically different from South Indians And are the various castes genetically distinct groups This book relies. As India enters the third decade of the twenty first century one would presume that modern science would form the focus of an emerging nation of young people like India But uantum computing artificial intelligence and advanced medical research do not dominate the conversations Instead India is bogged down by uestions such as who is acceptable as an Indian citizen and how to build a very tall temple in Ayodhya etc The ruling elite is busy pushing the idea of one nation one language one culture with the North Indian Hindi speaking upper caste Hindu as the uintessential Indian Naturally the hundreds of millions of Indians who do not belong in this narrow category recoil instinctively against such a fabrication of the truth That is why it is of great importance that every educated person in India must read this seminal work by Tony Joseph The book provides a gripping account of the pre history of India going back 65000 years It combines recent advances in the studies of the human genome with philology archaeology and anthropology to make a compelling case I found the book difficult to put down even though the sections on genetics needed careful reading to understand their import on the story of the early Indians I should hasten to add that the book is eminently accessible to everyone without having to be well versed in genetics or archaeology or linguistics When I finished the book I was in wonderment and awe of the insights of modern science and how it can stitch together and decode events that took place than 65000 years ago The precision and detail with which science can elucidate India s pre history leaves me proud and humbled at the same time Let us get into this fascinating storyConclusive DNA evidence now shows that modern humans outside of Africa are all descendants of a single population of Out of Africa OoA migrants They moved into Asia around 70000 years ago They then spread around the world replacing their genetic cousins like the Homo Neanderthalensis reaching India about 65000 years ago They are called the First Indians Because they got to India early India had the largest human population even 20000 years ago Around 7000 BCE migrants from the Zagros mountains in today s Iran arrived and mixed with the First Indians These people helped spread the agriculture that was the catalyst for the creation of the great urban civilization called the Harappan the author prefers this term instead of the Indus valley civilization today It developed over five thousand years reaching its peak between 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE However centuries of drought caused its decline destroying its irrigation systems and agriculture The Harappans had no option but to migrate elsewhere into India towards the south and the east Around 2000 BCE migrants from east Asia arrived in India bringing with them their rice variety and their languages Mundari and Khasi spoken in the eastern and central parts of India even today are examples of these Austro Asiatic languages India owes them the hybridization of the indica and japonica rice subspecies Finally the last migrants to India came between 2000 and 1000 BCE from Central Asia and the Eurasian Steppe They were pastoral people who spoke Indo European languages and called themselves Aryan They were rural people spoke proto Sanskrit emphasized pastoralism and cattle breeding over the urban settlement They were a warrior like people and their influx was largely male driven Conseuently they created a patriarchal patrilocal and patrilineal Vedic culture They mixed with the Austro Asiatics and the Harappans in various proportions resulting in the Indians of today Where does all this research leave the many modern day myths in Indian history today The book gives scientific data to establish the following conclusions1 The closest direct living descendants of the First Indians today are found in the Little Andaman Island They are the Onge people who number barely a hundred down from 670 in the year 19002 We now know who the most authentic Indians are They are the Adivasistribals who form about 8% of India s population The tribal woman today is most likely to be carrying the deepest rooted and widest spread mtDNA lineage M2 in India Genetically she represents all of our histories with little left out The tribals are THE Indians 3 It is ridiculous to say that Indian culture is synonymous with AryanSanskritVedic culture Instead it is the result of interaction adoption and adaptation among those who brought Indo European languages proto Sanskrit speaking Aryans to India and those who were already well settled inhabitants proto Dravidian speaking Harappans 4 Many popular practices in India today are examples of cultural continuity from the Harappan civilization rather than from the Vedic corpus Some of are the many Harappan traditions we carry on today area Houses built around courtyardsb Bullock cartsc the way women wear banglesd the manner of tree worshipe Sanctity of the peepul treef the kulladhhandleless clay cupg the ubiuitous Indian cooking poth designs and motifs in jewelry pottery and sealsi games of dicej an early form of chessk the humble lota Indians use to wash up even todayl the practice of applying sindoor vermilionm and some measurement systems5 The Aryans were NOT a Harappan Civilization people6 The absence of genetic signatures proves that NO Out of India migration spread Indo European languages around the world Had it been so anytime before or after the Harappan Civilization we would see genetic footprints of the First Indians all over from Central Asia to Western Europe But there are no close relatives of the First Indians anywhere else in the worldThe chapter on the Harappans has fascinating details about the civilization Some of them are1 One striking feature is the lack of representation of violence between humans The seals which depict violence involve either supernatural beings and humans or animals and humans2 Almost every house had a toilet3 At its height the Harappan Civilization covered a million suare kilometers about a third of today s India Still it was knit together through common standards of weights seals script and city design It seems to have been less conflict prone than the Egyptian and Mesopotamian counterparts4 Lavish palaces temples and burial sites are conspicuous by their absence It was probably held together by an elite group who shared power rather than through a powerful king5 The Harappans used a script which is called Proto Elamite but has not yet been deciphered It is an early form of the Dravidian languages of today s South India McAlpin lists eighty one words with close correspondence between the Harappan language and south India s Dravidian languages like TamilThe author goes on to correct other false conceptions about India The Marxian view of India is that of an unchanging India Whereas the Hindu nationalist view of India is that it has degraded over time from the Vedic perfection of time immemorial The author argues that both are wrong and based on misconceptions India has been ever changing and dynamic Its history has been full of energy as any lively society s history would be All this in spite of the dead weight of casteism that it has carried now for two thousand yearsPandit Jawaharlal Nehru described the essence of India with the phrase Unity in Diversity This book shows that it is not an empty phrase but an eminently appropriate one Tony Joseph uotes Dr David Reich that genetically it is wrong to view India as having a tremendously large population The Han Chinese are genetically a genuinely large population because they have been mixing freely for thousands of years In contrast the degree of genetic differentiation among Indian jati groups living side by side in the same village is typically two or three times higher than the genetic divergence between even northern and southern Europeans So few if any Indian groups are demographically large The truth is that India is composed of a large number of small populations Nehru was spot on in describing India as embodying Unity in Diversity The book spans multiple disciplines covering genetics philology and archaeology It is an outstanding example of writing with clarity It also shows the marvelous way the scientific method works I hope textbooks on India s pre history would be updated to include these recent findings A book that every Indian interested in his or her origins must read


10 thoughts on “Early Indians

  1. says:

    Indians are a people who are always a bit confused about their identity as “Indians” – maybe because the nation itself is a relatively recent construct not ignoring the mythical “Bharata” and the regional and caste identities are strongly embedded Ever since the West discovered the mystic East there have been attempts to create an Indian past which is wholly spiritual – based on the mythical Vedic “Aryan” – by

  2. says:

    India has had a weird relationship with its history prior to Mauryan empire History by its nature is imprecise but in thi

  3. says:

    Everyone in our subcontinent Pakistanis Indians Bangladeshis please read EARLY INDIANS by Tony Joseph Understand where we're coming f

  4. says:

    As India enters the third decade of the twenty first century one would presume that modern science would form the focus of an emerging nation o

  5. says:

    Tony Joseph’s new book “Early Indians The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From” attempts to sell the colonial Aryan Invasion Theory's insidious 21st century version the Aryan Migration Myth on the basis of racist Hinduphobic Harvard geneticist David Reich’s thoroughly discredited researchThe legendary Russian archaeologist Leo Klejn has thoroughly debunked Reich’s pro AIT researchThe New Yo

  6. says:

    There is an image of the famous dancing girl of Harappa on the cover of this book as a nod perhaps to common knowledge that Early Indians for most of us refers to the Harappan Civilization Then we are told came the Aryans who somehow settled peacefully or not with the Harappans Think of it have you ever asked yourself where did the Harappans come from? The author tries to answer this rather grand uestion in 230 pages Starting alm

  7. says:

    The whole book was based on the Aryan Invasion theory It is good to note that there is some evidence which debunk

  8. says:

    After Rakhigarhi study this book is very outdated now In his book he claimed there is decisive proof that Vedic Aryas were foreigners who entered India from Central Asia around 1500 BC and brought Vedic Sanskrit and Vedic religion with them In twitter after Rakhigarhi study He says Harappan genome lacks ancestr

  9. says:

    Two terms that refer to linguistic groups are widely misunderstood in India and taken to be racial denominators

  10. says:

    Where did the first Indians come from? Who were the Harappans really? Who were the ‘Aryans’ who wrote the Rigveda and

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