Return of the Aryans
By Bhagwan S. Gidwani
Publisher: Penguin Books India (ISBN 0-14-024053–5)
(Reviewed by Prof. Jagjit Mirchand)
Several eminent personalities including Swami Vivekanand, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and Shri Aurobindo firmly believed that Aryans were homegrown, born and brought up in India. Many chose to dismiss those views simply as irrational, inspirational or ultra-nationalistic. Yet, the archeological finds being uncovered presently, year after year, supported by continuing historical and scholarly research seem to prove that Swami Vivekanand, Rabindranath Tagore and Shri Aurobindo, and many learned personalities were correct to raise pointed questions against the Aryan Invasion Theory.
The British, in presenting the Aryan Invasion Theory offered no proof. They did not need to. Hundreds of Indian historians rushed forward to earn their doctorates, promotions, patronage and government-aided jobs and positions for supporting the British theory of Aryan Invasion of India. Their Proof? Largely quoting those very hundreds of articles and books –and asking - how could so many learned books and serious articles by countless British and Indian historians be wrong!
Some did murmur that the British-created Myth was aimed at proving to the Indians that they have always been ruled by foreigners, being incapable of ruling themselves and that it was always the foreign invader, like the Aryans (and in later times, other foreigners and finally, the British), who brought progress and enlightenment – and therefore never must Indians aspire for self-rule unless the intention is to bring back darkness, decadence and ruin on themselves.
Gidwani’s ‘Return of the Aryans’ presented in novel form, updates much of the research from scholarly and historical sources, archeological records, oral traditions and memory songs to present facts and evidence to show that the Aryan Invasion Theory is flawed.
MAIN THEMES IN RETURN OF THE ARYANS :
Bhagwan S. Gidwani’s best-seller, “Return of the Aryans” presents the drama of the birth and beginnings of the roots of Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) prior to 8,000 BCE. Other main themes in the book are:
1. Aryans originated from India. They were born, grew up, and died as citizens of Bharat Varsha, anchored in the timeless foundation of Sanatana Dharma.
2. The theory of Aryan invasion of India from the West is false and frivolous.
3. Equally false and frivolous is the theory of the North-South Divide, as the story in the book shows how people of the Ganga, Madhya, Sindhu, Bangla and other regions were together with the Dravidian regions, in a spirit of equality and mutual respect, as parts of Bharat Varsha (INDIA).
4. A generation that remains unaware of its roots is truly orphaned - and our generation, as also the coming generations, must be made aware of our cultural roots, and the glory and greatness of the ideals and values of the ageless Indian civilization — along with the presentation of art, culture, music, dance, yoga, abstract thought, philosophical leanings, and spiritual leanings of pre-history India.
5. A clear message in RETURN OF THE ARYANS, is for national integration, national self-respect and national identity in India. While the book deals with the history of Hinduism affectionately, it also re-emphasizes our age-old spirit of tolerance for all faiths including recognition of spiritual nature of man wherever he is from; and acceptance of every culture and faith as expressions of eternal values.
TERRITORY OF BHARAT VARSHA OF 5,000 BCE :
‘Return of the Aryans’ also shows that the territory of Bharat Varsha (India) in 5,000 BCE was extensive - far more than the present-day combined territory of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as additionally, it included:
• Avagana (Afghanistan), after Sadhu Gandhara established his Ashram at a place which in his honour was called Gandhara (now known as Qandhar), and later at Hari Rath (now known as Herat).
• From Afghanistan, Bharat Varsha extended to parts of Iran, beyond Lake Namaskar (now known as Namaksar), where many Hindu hermits resided;
• In North, Bharat Varsha territory went across the soaring peaks of Himalayas to Tibet to reach Lake Mansarovar, Mount Kailash, to the source of mighty Sindhu and Brahmaputra rivers, and beyond;
• Bharat Varsha included also Land of Brahma (Burma) and beyond;
• Also Bharat Varsha included Kashmir; Lands of Sadhu Newar (Nepal); Bhoota (Bhutan); and Land of Vraon (Sri Lanka).
It was not by conquest or war that that these lands came together as Bharat Varsha. It was, as the story in ‘Return of the Aryans’ will show, the graciousness, chivalry and diplomacy combined with fair mindedness that led to the meeting of hearts resulting in formation of this extensive Union.
Yet wars came and the people of Bharat Varsha proved themselves as great and gallant warriors. And to the lands and peoples of their conquest, they extended, fully and fairly, the rights, dignity and freedoms of Sanatana Dharma. Theirs was the firm belief in the humane ideals of Sanatana Dharma.
EARLIEST IDEALS OF HINDUISM:
Gidwani’s ‘Return of the Aryans’ deals with Hinduism with deeply felt respect and pride. The book speaks of ideals that took shape in those early times, to become the foundation of Sanatana Dharma - and among those ideals were: recognition of spiritual nature of man wherever he is from; acceptance of every culture as an expression of eternal values; and man’s obligation to respect and protect environment, and all creatures, tame and wild.
Thus the book speaks of beauty and universality of Hinduism, and its respect for all faiths – and it asserts that <“Whatever god you choose, He is that God, and Dharma (Righteousness) is His Will”>.
SCOPE OF THE BOOK and COMPOSITION OF VEDAS:
Mainly, ‘Return of the Aryans’ is concerned with telling the story of the birth and beginning of Hinduism from 8,000 BCE, along with the dramatic account of how, in 5,000 BCE, Aryans originated from India (and from nowhere else); their exploits and adventures in West Asia and Europe, including Iran, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Russian lands, Finland, Italy, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania & Baltic States and Germany; and finally their triumphal return to the home-town and heritage of Sindh & India.
‘Return of the Aryans’ is impressive for its explanation of Hindu philosophy and: spiritualism with simplicity and elegance. The work also covers a vast panorama to reveal dramatic stories behind the origins of Om (the mantra for meditation), Tat Tvam Asi (That Art Thou) Namaste (the Hindu greeting with folded palms of the hands to signify “there is God in you and to Him we salute”), Gayatri Mantra, and Soma Wines .The book also tells how Sanskrit and Tamil developed, and how they influenced world-languages; also it has tales of the battles and blood-shed that led to the rise of Benaras, Hardwar and many cities. It speaks of the discovery and disappearance of Saraswati River and founding of Ganga, Dravidian, Sindhu and other civilizations of Bharat Varsha; Besides, Gidwani sheds light on pre-history establishment of Hindu Parliament; legal and constitutional systems; development of ships and harbors; gold-mining; chariots; Yoga; mathematics; astronomy; medicine; surgery; music, dance, drama, art and architecture; and material advancement of the pre-ancient India.
The book explains how the world’s first literature, the Vedas came to be composed in 4000 BCE by poets and scholars of Bharat Varsha, along the banks of the rivers in India.
SWASTIKA and NAZIS OF GERMANY:
The book shows how ‘SWASTIKA’ seal and symbol originated in India in 5,000 BCE to remind Hindus and Aryans, everywhere to practice and spread the message of ‘Daya (compassion), Dana (charity) & Dharma (righteousness)
(Later, after the Aryan migration to Europe, ‘SWASTIKA’ came to be adopted in Europe, initially for auspicious purposes, though in the modern era, in the Nazi period, it was used for inauspicious, corrupt practices and racial hatred).
WHY DID HINDU ARYANS MOVE OUT FROM INDIA and WHY DID THEY RETURN?
‘Return of the Aryans’ clearly explains that the Aryans who left India were not warriors or conquerors or soldiers of fortune, and certainly they were not religious zealots, fanatics, or crusaders. They went neither to plunder, nor to persecute in the name of dogma, nor to propagate their faith, nor to dethrone and destroy gods and idols of others. These travelers simply had a dream that led them on towards unreachable goal of finding land that was pure and free from evil – and thus began one mighty wave after another of Aryans going out of India in all directions. No point of the compass was left out; and the Aryan songs said “Escapees, we are not, nor vagrants, nor aimless wanderers. But pilgrims we are, in search of God’s land, pure and free. . . .” This became the refrain of their songs and the mission of their life thenceforward. Gidwani then enthralls us with a dramatic story of Aryans on the move, their strange adventures, experiences, successes and frustrations, encounters with nature, disasters and survival. But the Land of the Pure was never found or reached. It dawned on the wandering Aryans that with all its faults, their own homeland of Bharat Varsha was better than the rest of the world into which they had tumbled in their futile search. To this homeland they finally decided to return having learnt their lesson. They reflected also that God does not of his own volition choose to interfere with the world of man. Man moves his own world by his own actions, by his own will and by his own karma – and if the Land of Pure is to be attained, one has to put in the effort in the land of his birth and the problem is not solved by fleeing to other lands in futile search for purity elsewhere. Clearly thus the search for the Land of the Pure led Aryans everywhere but finally nowhere, and at last they realized that there was no Land of Pure, except what men might make by their own efforts.
If in their travels, these Aryans of India performed deeds of nobility and honour, to assist everyone in those foreign lands, they were what they were, and ‘Return of the Aryans’ gives all the details of their knightly deeds and their attachment to the concept of ‘Daya (compassion), Dana (charity) and Dharma (righteousness)’.
ENVIRONMENT - DESTRUCTION OF MAN IF HE OFFENDS AGAINST NATURE:
The popular belief is that concern with protecting Environment, Nature and wildlife is a modern phenomenon. Not so. ‘Return of the Aryans’ quotes Sage Bhardwaj of 5,500 BCE who said as under:
< “ . . .The Earth is eternal, and so is Man if he lives in harmony with nature. But Man cannot destroy the Earth; and if he tries that by folly or design, then only Mankind shall die but not the eternal ground on which Man walks . . . > (page 709, Gidwani’s Return of the Aryans)
The clear message is: Man must live in harmony with Nature, or else Man shall become extinct like many other species, but the Earth itself shall live on without Man, who shall have paid for his vile acts to pollute the Earth and its atmosphere.
Similarly, ‘Return of the Aryans’ gives countless instances of the concern of ancient Hindus to protect environment, to leave the habitat of birds and animals undisturbed except to provide feeding troughs and waterholes for animals and birds wherever needed. There was also the custom of planting trees for each birthday of a person’s life, right from birth to the age of retirement, with the added injunction to plant new trees in place of those that wither away.
AHIMSA OR NON-VIOLENCE :
According to ‘Return of the Aryans’, the ancient Hindu concept of Ahimsa or non-violence was not restricted to acts of physical injury but it was also considered wrong to cause hurt to feelings of others. Nor was it confined to acts against humans and, it was believed that there is no forgiveness for a person who acts with cruelty against a cow, elephant, lamb, deer or any other animal or bird or destroys trees and offends against nature.
IS EVOLUTION OVER ? - WILL MAN BE REPLACED?
‘Return of the Aryans’ recites the song-myth of the times when Man coexisted with his predecessors “Vraoons” (half-ape-half-man) and of Man’s cruelty to Vraoons, ending in their final destruction. There is also a hint in the book that the process of Evolution is not yet complete and, that Man may come to be replaced by another species.
WOMAN’S HIGH STATUS IN ANCIENT INDIA :
- Women of fame & honor :
‘Return of the Aryans’ gives remarkable glimpses into high status of women in ancient India, and shows that women were equal, if not ahead, in all important spheres of civic affairs, politics, administration, art, philosophy, architecture, education and justice system, not on basis of any quota but by sheer merit.
- Some outstanding Women :
The book has stories of many women, who, from 8,000 to 5,000 BCE achieved fame and honor, such as, Devi Leilama was the first to establish Guilds in India, and rose to be Chief of the Clan in 5,333 BCE; of Dhanawantri, who along with her husband Sage Dhanawantar, was the foremost physician in 5,000 BCE., and established a comprehensive system of medicine and surgery. Also, it was a woman (Leelavati) who, in 6,000 BCE, established mathematical lore in India, leading eventually to formulation of decimal system in later centuries. There are also stories of women who led Aryan contingents in foreign countries.
- Bridegroom’s vows and promises :
‘Return of the Aryans’ describes marriage customs of ancient India, whereby a bridegroom would take a five-fold marriage-vow to offer his wife Permanence, Piety Pleasure Property and Progeny. Do such bridegrooms exist anymore?
- Discrimination against Men ?
If there was discrimination in those pre-Vedic times (from 8,000 BC), it was perhaps against men; for instance, men were to retire as hermits at the age of 60, while a woman was free from such disability. For justification of this custom, author Gidwani quotes Karkarta Bharat (Supreme Chief of Hindu Clan - 5060 BCE). Said Bharat:
“A woman cannot be asked to retire because her work never ceases. From being a wife, she moves smoothly, selflessly into role of a mother and grandmother, giving all of herself in the service of generations that follow, until her dying day. Man’s tragedy, on the other hand, is that he lives for himself, with his ego centered around his own self, and if he loves his children, he loves them merely as extensions of himself; and the older he grows, the more demanding he gets, with his ideas fixed and mind closed. All that grows within him is lust for power, while his advancing age renders him incapable of wielding it honorably. Happiness for man depends on what he could get; for a woman, on what she could give. Retirement at the age of sixty was, therefore, intended to save man from himself and also to protect society.” (Page 6, Return of the Aryans)
- Slanders against Women :
’Return of the Aryans’ speaks of Hermit Parikshahari who in 5,030 BCE, declared that a woman, whose virtue or chastity is questioned, must walk 10 steps through fire to prove her innocence, but only after the slanderer went 30 steps through fire to show that he had honorable motives for making the charge. Thus, ‘Trial by Fire’ was only for dishonest slanderer (and not for woman slandered), as such a slanderer would not survive his thirty steps through raging fire. Pity, that the Hermit’s Verdict is followed no more, while judging slanders against women!
- GOD Created Universe But Before HIM Was The MOTHER :
On the question, “Who created the Universe and who created God?”, ‘Return of the Aryans’ quotes Sindhu Putra, the spiritual leader of 5,000 BCE, to reply, “God created the Universe, but before Him was She - the Mother!” This reply conforms to the whimsical Hymn of Creation as it was then known, which ‘Return of the Aryans’ reproduces in full, Here is a brief extract from the Hymn:
“Did First Mother create the one God!
And gladly gave Him the Creator’s rod!
But so re-fashioned Time and Space
That He was more, and She was less?
Did She turn future into past?
So He came first and She, last!
But surely, She told Him all, all!
Then how could He not know at all?
Or perhaps He knows it not, and cannot tell
Oh! He knows, He knows, but will not tell...”
(Page 125 ‘Return of the Aryans’)
- Question For Today :
‘Return of the Aryans’ has many more examples of high status and image of women in ancient India. It remains to be explained how and why, later, the chauvinist males have succeeded in downgrading Indian women by introducing so many disabilities against them.
SONG OF THE HINDU –
Hindu identity, duty and mission :
‘Return of the Aryans’ reproduces in modern version the “Song of the Hindu”, composed by Karkarta Bharat who was the chief of the Hindu Clan in 5,000 BCE. Drawn from pre-ancient texts and tradition, Karkarta Bharat’s Song explains “WHO IS A HINDU? - his Identity, his Duty, and his Mission”. Only a few extracts from the Song, as given in Return of the Aryans, are given below:
“….For God is the Creator; and God is the Creation...
“God’s grace is withdrawn from no one; not even from those who have chosen to withdraw from God’s grace...
“How does it matter what idols they worship, or what images they bow to, so long as the conduct remains pure
“It is conduct then - theirs and ours - that needs to be purified...
“There can be no compulsion; each man must be free to worship his gods as he chooses...
“…. He who seeks to deny protection to another on the basis of his faith, offends against the Hindu way of life, and denies an all-loving God...
“Those who love their own sects, idols and images more than Truth, will end up by loving themselves more than their gods...
“He who seeks to convert another to his own faith, offends against his own Soul and the Will of God and the Law of humanity...
“The Hindu way of life? Always it has been and always it shall be...that God wills a rich harmony - not a colorless uniformity...
“A Hindu must enlarge the heritage of mankind
“For a Hindu is not a mere preserver of custom...
“For a Hindu is not a mere protector of present knowledge...
“Hinduism is a movement, not a position; a growing tradition and not a fixed revelation...
“A Hindu must grow and evolve, with all that was good in the past, with all that is good in the present, and with all goodness that future ages shall bring ...
“Hinduism is the law of life, not a dogma; its aim is not to create a creed but character, and its goal is to achieve perfection through most varied spiritual knowledge which rejects nothing, and yet refines everything, through continuous testing and experiencing...
“Yet a Hindu must remain strong and united, for he must know that not an external, outside force can ever crush him, except when he is divided and betrays his own...
“What then is the final goal of the Hindu? Through strength, unity, discipline, selfless work, to reach the ultimate in being, ultimate in awareness, ultimate in bliss, not for himself alone, but for all...
(Pages 65, 82-83 - ‘Return of the Aryans’)
TO CONCLUDE :
‘Return of the Aryans’ is certainly a great book, powerfully presented, with deep and enduring insights into the ancient culture and history of India. The story, though in the form of a novel, is not fiction. As critics have agreed, it is well documented and carries the stamp of scholarship and plausibility.
“Return of the Aryans is not a mere story of people on the move. It is also a history of human thought, more particularly of the variegated strands of Hindu thought and the metaphysical search of the Hindu mind. The Vedas and the Upanishads were the glorious, though late, products of the amazingly inquisitive Aryan mind that had not been ensnared by dogma or commitment to any small god.
As many Reviewers have observed, Return of the Aryans is a book that should be read again and again, and the more it is read, the more will there be treasures to discover”.
‘Return of the Aryans’ should make an excellent TV Serial, based as it is on the theme of national integration, national self-respect and national identity. Certainly, it fulfills a long-felt need to keep alive awareness of the foundation and eternal values of India’s culture. Also it presents art, music, dance, yoga, abstract thought, philosophical leanings, and spiritual leanings of pre-history India. The book clearly shows that it was Bharat Varsha, which inspired the dream of universal human rights, abolition of slavery, and affirmation of liberty and equality of all peoples.. This was the message of nobility with which the Aryans of India were inspired and the book has enthralling tales of Aryan adventures, courage, rashness, heroic thrusts, triumphs and failures, in various countries of West Asia and Europe.
Bhagwan S. Gidwani was India’s Additional Director General of Tourism and Director General of Civil Aviation till 1978. He served as India’s Counsel at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, and as Representative of India on Council of ICAO (UN) from 1978 to 1981. Thereafter, he joined ICAO (U.N.), as its Director till 1985.
Gidwani is the author of a highly artistic, poetic book - OMAR & I - a poetic rejoinder to Omar Khayyam, which discovers fresh and vibrant insights in Omar’s poetry and mysticism. Gidwani’s earlier novel - The Sword of Tipu Sultan - was a best-seller, which is translated in various languages, reprinted in 44 editions; and has sold upwards of two hundred thousand copies. Gidwani also wrote the Script & Screen-Play for the TV Serial, The Sword of Tipu Sultan, in 52 episodes which is being re-run in India for the fourth time. It has been telecast also in U.K., and U.S.A. Gidwani is based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Return of the Aryans, first published by Penguin Books (India) in 1994/5, has been reprinted frequently and is republished in 2002.