called “Aryans,” was taken up by Max Müller, who deduced the idea of anAryan migration into India by looking for the homeland of Indo-Aryansfrom linguistic evidence from the Vedas. This evidence led Müller to believethat the early Indo-Aryans were a nomadic and pastoral people from several possible locations, all outside of India. If the Aryans came from outsideIndia, then they must have invaded India and brought their culture, particularly the Vedas, with them. More textual evidence for the AryanHypothesis comes from the text of the Vedas. Muir and more recently,Witzel, have argued that one can trace the movements of peoples fromreading the stories contained in the Vedas.
Indian scholars were not particularly impressed at first with Aurobindo,Ramchandra Rao and Aghorechandra Chahattopadhyaya all voicingreasonable objections to the theory, particularly the problem of a group of people giving rise to such great civilizations as the Greek, Roman, Vedicand Persian without leaving any trace of itself. They also noted the problemsof associated with a primitive nomadic people managing to "formulate alanguage as intricate and complex as Indo-European."
Interestingly, theseobjections seem to have been largely powerless to resist the popularity of theAryan hypothesis over time. We shall see below that this was even true of Indian scholars.
:When Max Müller first came up with a date for the Vedas, he drew upon his belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible and determined that the Vedaswere written around 1200 BCE by working forward from the date of theconstruction of the Tower of Babel after the flood, around 2500 BCE, and backward from the date of the Buddha, around 500 BCE. The Biblicalargument became less convincing to later scholars, but the dates stuck inWestern philology as the probable dates of the Vedas. There could be noclearer case of the other bringing his or her cultural assumptions into play ininterpreting a foriegn culture. Müller was deeply interested in India, but hewas also so imbued with his own culture that he simply could not bringhimself to examine it on its own merits. India was thus first presented to theWest in the only terms Müller had at his disposal, Christian terms.
The Indus Civilization
The Original Sanskrit Texts
, (Oxford: Tuber, 1860) and Michael Witzel,“Tracing the Vedic Dialects.” In
Dialectes dans les littérateurs Indo-Aryennes
. Ed. C.Caillat (Paris: Institut de Civilisation Indienne., 1989)
The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture
, Oxford; Oxford UP, 2001, 58-9.