Aryan Invasion Theory, simply put, states that chariot riding steppe nomads invaded India and destroyed the existing civilization – they subjugated the existing ones as Dasyus and imposed their socio-religious order on India. However, there are a few pit-falls in the fundamental argument.

  1. How did Steppe Nomads, who rely on carrying less baggage with them come up with something like a chariot which slows them down considerably during long distance migrations?
  2. How exactly did they bring chariots into India, especially when you have to cross those impossible Afghan Mountain passes with your chariots?
  3. Aryans came from somewhere. There should be some other kingdoms they destroyed. Do we have details of them?
  4. Why did they not take the nearer Balkan route or Caucasian route but trudge all the way till India?

One another argument forwarded by the proponents of Aryan Invasion Theory is the presence of Indo-European Governing structure in Mittani, a Mesopotamian Kingdom. However, at a closer look, one would note that Out of India Theory holds much more believable than some steppe nomads carving a kingdom with some new technology. Writes Eva Von Dassow,

The kingdom called Mittani was not the creation of an Aryan population newly arrived in southwestern Asia. A tiny quantity of Indo-Aryan vocabulary and proper nouns became incorporated into the Hurrian language of Mittani, while also spreading among realms with which Mittani interacted, over the course of the empire’s floruit. Apparently no one in Mittani spoke the Indo-Aryan source language, for the borrowed lexical items were unproductive in the borrowing language, there is no Indo-Aryan grammatical interference therein, and no other extant evidence indicates that the donor language had ever been the living cultural property of any part of the kingdom’s population. The scant Indo-Aryan linguistic material does not attest the presence, much less the dominance, of an Indo-Aryan speaking population. Instead, the kingdom’s identity was “Hurrian”, as attested by numerous references to the king of Mittani as “king of Hurri(-land)” or “king of the Hurrian troops” (not “king of the Aryan troops” or the like). While the practice of bestowing throne names of Indo-Aryan derivation on most of Mittani’s kings suggests significant contact with an Indo-Aryan-speaking population, it does not indicate that the royal dynasty (much less the ruling class) was of Aryan “blood” – whatever that might mean.
2. Mittani’s success did not result from the innovation of using horse-drawn chariots in war, or in any case, this innovation did not belong to Mittani. The development of chariotry was shared by the kingdom’s contemporaries and opponents, and the evidence does not suggest that it originated among the polities or peoples antecedent to Mittani. Though military success must have been essential to the foundation and growth of Mittani, military innovation was not.
Hence, no special role can be attributed to the social class associated with chariotry and denoted by the Hurrianized Indo-Aryan word maryanni. The formation of this class was moreover posterior to the formation of Mittani; it was not a cause of the empire’s creation but an effect thereof.

This makes one wonder, why the same logic cannot be applied to India. However, the question of Mittani’s links to Indo-European still needs an answer. With the information we have, can this be explained satisfactorily, or at least, more satisfactorily than the model we have today?

One can propose two theories over the presence of Indo-European speaking people amongst them.

  1. Slave trade – It is known all history that Lower Mesopotamian Kingdoms raided Zargos Mountains for slaves and a huge number of natives from those areas were noticed in Mesopotamian Plains.
    • The type of inter-Zagros conflicts reinforced by Mesopotamian intervention and leading to resettlement of mountain population groups in the plains that is so vividly illustrated by the Shemshara and Mari sources may serve as an example for the outcome of the Zagros campaigns in Hammurabi’s last years. There is extensive evidence for the presence of Zagros deportees in the Babylonian alluvium, and it is among them that one should look for the kernel of the Kassite groups who manifested their military power in Samsuiluna’s eighth year. Early in Samsuiluna’s third decade, the sources from Tell Leilan bear witness to the decisive role of large armies of mercenaries in resolving inter-state conflicts in Northern Mesopotamia. This seems to be a relatively new phenomenon and may be explained in part as the manifestation of uprooted people from the Zagros and elsewhere.(The Geography of the Slave Trade and Northern Mesopotamia in the Late Old Babylonian Period,” in: H. Hunger and R. Pruzsinszky)
    • Van Koppen has shown that in the land of Babylon at the time of King Samsuiluna there is evidence for “the decisive role of large armies of mercenaries in resolving inter-state conflicts in Northern Mesopotamia. This seems to be a relatively new phenomenon and may be explained in part as the manifestation of uprooted people from the Zagros and elsewhere.”
  2. Need for Foreign Mercenaries
    • Durand believes that the groups of habiru listed in the Prism of Tikunani published by Salvini (1996) were refugees coming from Hahhum paid by Tunib-Tesob, king of Tikunani, to take action against Hahhum. Thus, this document indicates as well how the militia employed by states and polities were established during conflicts in this period. The contentious situation that the continual and repeated Hittite campaigns in Syria had caused may have popularised the practice of resorting to mercenary troops, and in this way facilitated the formation of militarily powerful groups.(The Mittani State: The Formation of the Kingdom of Mittani – Stefano de Martino)

Thus, we have a specific case here – a need to recruit mercenaries to protect themselves. It may not surprise one if these mercenaries turn out to be Indo-Aryan. Now, going by the fact that not much information is known about Mittani and no Indo-Aryan names are heard before Suttarna, till further information comes to disprove the premise, one can argue that there is a dynastic change or incidence of something significant enough for the king to change the identity.

Now that we have established there is a fair chance that outsiders came to protect the locals/were recruited by locals to protect their territories, one may want to examine if they migrated from Indus – to be more specific, from Harappan Civilization.

Yajurveda Veda comes to our aid here. Baudhanya Srauta Sutra(18.44) reads,

sāyuṃ cāmāvasuṃ ca janayāṃ cakāra
sā hovācemau bibʰr̥temau sarvam āyur eṣyata iti
prāṅāyuḥ pravavrāja
tasyaite kurupañcālāḥ kāśividehā iti
etadāyavaṃ pravrājam pratyaṅ amāvasus tasyaite gandʰāraya sparśavo ‘rāṭṭā iti tad āmāvasavam

She(Urvasi, along with Pururavas) generated two sons-Ayu and Amavasu. She said, “If you rear them; they shall live the full life.” Ayu moved towards the east. Kuru-Panchala and Kasi-Videha were his regions. This is the realm of Ayu. Amavasu proceeded towards the west. The Gandharis, Sparsus and Arattas were his regions. This is the realm of Amavasu.

Now, combine this with what Rg Veda(6.61) says.

juṣasva naḥ sakhyā veśyā ca mā tvat kṣetrāṇyaraṇāni ghanma ||

Gladly accept our friendship and obedience: let us not go from thee to distant countries.

A combined reading of the both tell us that the people were beseeching Saraswati not to leave them and because the river didn’t listen, they had to migrate. Two sons of Pururavas migrated in opposite directions – one east towards Kuru-Panchala and further, and the other, Gandhara and beyond.

The period around 2200 BC, called as 4.2k year event is a massive climatic event which caused intense rains in some areas and intense drought in the other. It was earth-shattering – Akkad collapsed by 2150 and Mesopotamia descended into centuries of chaos. It is but natural that the people of the steppes who live off the land would have migrated towards greener pastures – we know of at least two such – Hittite(2100 BC) and Hykso(1900 BC).

And in India, on one side, Saraswati was drying up(an event which would have started much before prompting the bard to beseech the river) and on the other side, Yamuna was slowly shifting towards Ganga river. By around 1650 BC, the switch was complete. With kingdoms collapsing everywhere, it is but natural that there is a massive flux. The migration east into India can be dated from Cemetery H Culture dating between 1900 BC and 1300 BC which is the first identified site where cremation is carried out instead of burial. One may argue this is a new civilization which supplanted the old order(read Aryans who ended the Mature Harappan Civilization) but again, Rg Veda comes to our aid.

ye aghnidaghdhā ye anaghnidaghdhā madhye divaḥ svadhayāmādayante |
tebhiḥ svarāḷ asunītimetāṃ yathāvaśantanvaṃ kalpayasva ||

They who, consumed by fire or not cremated, joy in their offering in the midst of heaven,—
Grant them, O Sovran Lord, the world of spirits and their own body, as thy pleasure wills it.

Either because they were in the process of migration and they were not in a position to perform elaborate burial rituals or some other reasons, allowance was given over the mode of cremation.

Everything fits perfectly into ‘a few centuries after 4.2k years event’. Now, what of the Westward migration? The hint comes from an unexpected location – the sudden explosion of numbers of Harappan Zebu cattle in Mesopotamia.

B. indicus cattle are adapted to, and predominate in, modern arid and tropical regions of the world. Zebu cattle originated circa 8000 yr B.P. However, despite archaeological evidence for contact between civilizations of the Fertile Crescent region and the Indus Valley, the infuence of the zebu genome is detectable in ancient Southwest Asian cattle only 4000 years later. However, after ~4000 yr B.P., hybrid animals (median 35% indicine ancestry) are found across the Near East, from Central Asia and Iran to the Caucasus and Mediterranean shores of the southern Levant. During this period, depictions and osteological evidence for B. indicus also appear in the region. In contrast to autosomal data, but similar to earlier work, we find persistence of B. taurus mitochondria, suggesting introgression may have been mediated by bulls.
This sharp influx may have been stimulated by the onset of a period of increased aridity known as the 4.2-thousand-year abrupt climate change event. This multicentury drought coincided with empire collapse in both Mesopotamia and Egypt as well as a decline in the Indus civilization and has been accepted as the boundary defining the onset of our current geological age, the Meghalayan. Three features of this zebu influx after ~4000 yr B.P. attest that the influx was likely driven by adaptation and/or human agency rather than passive diffusion.
(Ancient cattle genomics, origins, and rapid turnover in the Fertile Crescent – Verdugo, 2019)

One may not be surprised if the Indians who migrated out were invited to settle in some area to reclaim the fallow lands which can explain the high incidence of cattle with them.

Thus, we have four theories – the combination of all four or a combination of a few also being distinct possibilities.

  1. Westward Migration from Indus Valley of Amavasu – Yajur Veda(~1900 BC)
  2. The sudden explosion of Zebu Cattle numbers in Middle East(~1800 BC)
  3. Slave Raids and Deportation of Hill Tribes from Zargos Mountains which suddenly stopped around 1750 BC
  4. The desperate need for protection from Hittite Raids during the reign of Mursili I(1600 BC)

Using the information available, the narrative can be built thus.

The 4.2k year event created a situation where people had to migrate to different places and kingdoms collapsed. Many migrations happened into Middle East but two of them are of particular interest – the Westward Migration from India and the pouring of Hittites through the Caucasus. After Hittites settled in Anatolia and grew to strength, the area became an area of frequent wars with destruction spread everywhere. Of particular concern is Mursili I’s raid of Babylon. This increased the need for mercenaries and the recruits would have been from the Zargos deportees and the Indians who moved towards the Fertile Crescent and settled either in the upper reaches of Khabur or in some Eastern Hurrian chieftainship. Being of royal blood and adept in reclamation of lands for agriculture, and being aware of new technologies and war tactics, the Indians would have gained prominence in the general area and were gradually indigenised. Did they dethrone the existing ruler and siezed power, we may never know. Were they a part of one small Hurrian chieftainship which expanded into the hegemon called Mittani, we may never know.

All this happening in a short gap of 300-400 years hints at a strong possibility such an event happened. However, one may want to argue that Mittani is not an Indo-Aryan or an OIT kingdom but it had a powerful sword arm of Indian origin which protected it. All of this begs one to question, what level of Mittani documentation(which don’t exist as of now) will be helpful in deciphering Indus Valley Script, the script of the Vedic King Pururavas and his descendants?

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