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Searching for the Daheans, Daha, Dasas, Dasyus in Rig Veda, Daxia, BMAC, Margiana, 2,000-1,700 BCE.

 

 Daha also referred to a dasyu tribe in Margiana. Dahistan (east of the Caspian Sea/Gorgan) derives its name from this tribe . The Greek historians Q. Curtius Rufus (8,3) and Ptolemy (Geography: 6,10,2) located the region of the Dahas on the river Margos (modern Murghab) or in Margiana (Parpola 1988). The Dahas are also mentioned by Pomponius Mela (3,42) and Tacitus (Ann. 11,10).

 

Strabo wrote about the Dahae the following:

"Most of the Scythians, beginning from the Caspian Sea, are called Scythian Daheans, and those situated more towards the east Massageteans and Saceans; the rest have the common appellation of Scythians, but each separate tribe has its peculiar name. All, or the greatest part of them, are nomads. The best known tribes are those who deprived the Greeks of Bactriana, the Asians, Pasians, Tocharians, and Sacarauls, who came from the country on the other side of the Jaxartes, opposite the Sacean and Sogdians."; (Strabo, 11-8-1) 

Tacitus, in the Annals , writes of the Parthian king Vardanes I that he subdued "the intermediate tribes as far as the river Sindes, which is the boundary between the Dahae and the Arians."

The geographical term Tokharistan usually refers to 1st millennium Bactria (Chinese Daxia 大夏).

Table of Contents-Cuprins:  

The Daheans, Oxus Civilization, Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex (BMAC) Indo-Aryana Migration

Characteristic Features of the BMAC by B.B. Lal. The Indian Point of View 

Yaz Culture and Zoroastrianism

BMAC and Other Asian Cultures

Indo Aryana and Indo-Iranian People

What Dasa means?

Greco-Bactrian Kingdom

The Daheans, Oxus Civilization, Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex (BMAC) Indo-Aryan Migration

Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (Oxus Civilization) 

The Daheans

 

File:Indo-Iranian origins.png


Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.

File:BMAC.pngThe extent of the BMAC (after EIEC).

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age culture of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2200–1700 BC, located in present day Turkmenistan, northern Afghanistan and Iran, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus). Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in today's Turkmenistan.

 

Overview

Sarianidi's excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many different sites, including Namazga-Depe ("governmental centre"), Altyn-Depe ("secondary capital"), Delbarjin, the Dashly Oasis, Toholok 21, Gonur, Kelleli, Sapelli, and Djarkutan. The sites were fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi's work began to be translated in the 1990s.

Scholars do not agree on either the origins of the Bactria-Margiana complex, or the reasons for its decline. Its distinctive material culture disappears from the archaeological record a few centuries after it appears.[1] Radiocarbon dating suggests dating the complex to the last century of the 3rd millennium and the first quarter of the 2nd millennium BC.

Geographically, the Bactria-Margiana complex spans a wide area from southeastern Iran to Balochistan and Afghanistan. Possibly the archaeologically unexplored terrain of Baluchistan and Afghanistan holds the heartland of the complex (see Lamberg-Karlovsky 2002).

BMAC materials such as seals have been found in the Indus civilisation, on the Iranian plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. BMAC finds are coming onto the international trade in illicit antiquities and are finding their way into Western collections and museums.[citation needed]

A previously unknown civilization?

The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. There has been interaction with the nomadic people of the contemporary Andronovo culture of the steppe to the north, as the findings of steppe pottery in the BMAC indicate. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilization.

The discovery of a single tiny stone seal with geometric markings from a BMAC site in Turkmenistan in 2001 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization. It is not clear however if the markings represent a true writing system as opposed to isolated pictographs.V. Mair (2001) has shown that the Chinese-like signs are indeed parallel to Chinese inscriptions used some 2500 [when?] [vague] [dubious ] years later in Xinjiang. The tiny seal has been dislocated down from its original, much later layer. Nevertheless, the BMAC seals contain motifs and even material that are distinctive from seals of Syro-Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Persian Gulf, showing they form a type not derived from any other region.

The Indo-Iranian hypothesis

Golden bull's head from Altyn-Depe.
 

Altyndepe (Алтын-Депе, the Turkmen for "Golden Hill") is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC.

Namazga V and Altyndepe were in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and Masson (1988) tends to identify the culture as Proto-Dravidian. The site is notable for the remains of its "proto-Zoroastrian" ziggurat[2].

References

  1. ^ Altyn-Depe (University Museum Monographs, No. 55) by V. M. Masson and Henry N. Michael (1988) p.68 ISBN 978-0934718547.
  2. ^ V. M. Masson and V. I. Sarianidi, Central Asia: Turkmenia before the Achaemenids (trans. Tringham, 1972); review: Charles C. Kolb, American Anthropologist (1973), 1945-1948

External links

 

Altyndepe

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Golden bull's head (H7.5cm), horns made of silver wire covered with gold foil. On the forehead and in the eyes are turquoise inlays (excavation #7, priest's tomb, room #7)[1].

Altyndepe (Алтын-Депе, the Turkmen for "Golden Hill") is a Bronze Age (BMAC) site in Turkmenistan, near Aşgabat, inhabited in the 3rd to 2nd millennia BC, abandoned around 1600 BC.

Namazga V and Altyndepe were in contact with the Late Harappan culture (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and Masson (1988) tends to identify the culture as Proto-Dravidian. The site is notable for the remains of its "proto-Zoroastrian" ziggurat[2].

[edit] References

  1. ^ Altyn-Depe (University Museum Monographs, No. 55) by V. M. Masson and Henry N. Michael (1988) p.68 ISBN 978-0934718547.
  2. ^ V. M. Masson and V. I. Sarianidi, Central Asia: Turkmenia before the Achaemenids (trans. Tringham, 1972); review: Charles C. Kolb, American Anthropologist (1973), 1945-1948

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 36°51′28.50″N 60°25′56.55″E / 36.857917°N 60.432375°E / 36.857917; 60.432375

 

The Bactria-Margiana complex has also attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians, a major branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, going as far as to identify evidence of proto-Zoroastrian objects and rituals. James P. Mallory argues

"The geographic location of the BMAC ... conforms, it is argued, with the historical situation of the Da(h)a and Parnoi mentioned in Greek and Latin sources, which have, in turn, been identified with the Dasas, Dasyus, and Panis of the Rig Veda who were defeated by the Vedic Arya." --EIEC, p. 73.

Similarly, he argues that the design of the BMAC forts "matches the description of the fortified sites depicted in the Vedas"[2] and mentions evidence for the presence of the soma-cult. The alleged findings of ephedra stems in BMAC context have however been disproved (Bakels 2003).

(The Rig-Veda (Sanskrit rig meaning 'praise' and veda meaning 'knowledge') is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. It consists of 1,017 hymns, composed in Vedic Sanskrit. These are contained in 10 books, known as Mandalas. This long collection of short hymns is mostly devoted to the praise of the gods. However, it also contains fragmentary references to historical events, notably the struggle between the early Vedic peoples (known as Aryans) and their enemies, the Dasa.

The chief gods of the Rig-Veda are Agni, the sacrificial fire, Indra, a heroic god that is praised for having slain his enemy Vrtra, and Soma, the sacred potion, or the plant it is made from. Other prominent gods are Mitra, Varuna and Ushas (the dawn). Also invoked are Savitar, Vishnu, Rudra, Pushan, Brhaspati, Brahmanaspati, Dyaus Pita (the sky), Prithivi (the earth), Surya (the sun), Savitar, Vayu (the wind), the Maruts, the Asvins, the Adityas, the Rbhus, the Vishvadevas (the all-gods) as well as various further minor gods, persons, concepts, phenomena and items.

Some of the names of gods and goddesses found in the Rig-Veda are found amongst other Indo-European peoples as well: Dyaus is cognate to greek Zeus, latin Jupiter. germanic Tyr; Mitra to persian Mithra (who became roman Mithras); Ushas is greek Eos, latin Aurora; Agni corresponds to latin ignis;.  Others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records. The archaeological record is inconclusive with regard to a migration of Indo-Aryans or Indo-Iranians to the BMAC[3], or with a migration of Indo-Aryans from the BMAC to the Indus Valley.[4] There is no archaeological evidence for an invasion into Bactria and Margiana.[5] Furthermore, there is no evidence that the complex even represented an ethnic/linguistic unity. Moreover, cultural links between the BMAC and the Indus Valley can also be explained by reciprocal cultural influences uniting the two cultures, or by the transfer of luxury or commercial goods.[6] 

 

 http://www.coo2.net/bbs/data/new_con_4/BMAC_culture_Land_and_Gonur_city.png

The BMAC complex is also very poor in horse remains or representations, which are often seen as a sign for Indo-Aryan presence.[7]

The Indo-Iranian substratum

Altyn-Depe location on the modern Middle EastEneolithicHarappa and Mohenjo-daro).

As argued by Michael Witzel (1999) [1], (2003) [2] and Alexander Lubotsky[8], there is a pre-Indo-European substratum in proto-Indo-Iranian which can be more plausibly identified with the original language (or languages) of the BMAC, which was, then, eventually given up by the locals in favour of proto-Indo-Iranian.

Moreover, he points out a number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which, however, are only attested in Indic. Provided this is not an accident of attestation, it may mean that the area where the language (or language family) in question was spoken included at least Gandhara as well, if not the Indus Valley also. This would fit the archaeological evidence mentioned above, pointing to a connection of the BMAC to these areas. Considering that the BMAC is suspected to extend into Afghanistan and Baluchistan (see above), these areas may be included as well. The assumed Indo-Iranian substratum, then, is potentially relevant to the question about the language of the Indus Valley Civilization, as well. However, some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian (G. Pinault 2003), which renders a widespread BMAC language, from Xinjiang to the Panjab, unlikely and points to cultural influence. This, however, suggests the possibility that the language in question was spoken natively in a more limited area (such as the BMAC), but used in a larger area as a lingua franca, considering the fact that the evidence is exclusively in the form of loanwords rather than grammatical or phonetic structures. Hence, it would originally have functioned as a superstrate language.[9]

As to known languages which might be related to the Indo-Iranian substratum, the most obvious candidate, geography considered, is the Burushaski language[10].

Sites

Notes

  1. ^ "the settlements of this culture are characterized by a very feeble accumulation: they were constructed in haste, apparently on the basis of a pre-established plan, and have not been occupied for very long" Bernard Sergent. Genèse de l'Inde. 1997, quoted from Elst 1999
  2. ^ Lyonnet (1993) and Sethna (1992) have noted that only one circular fort with three walls has been discovered (Dashly-3), or that the circular walls had no value of defence (Jettmar 1981). See Bryant 2001:220
  3. ^ Francfort H.-P. in Fussman, G.; Kellens, J.; Francfort, H.-P.; Tremblay, X. 2005
  4. ^ Bryant 2001; Francfort H.-P. in Fussman, G.; Kellens, J.; Francfort, H.-P.; Tremblay, X. 2005
  5. ^ Bryant 2001:220 (quotes Lyonnet 1993 and Parpola 1993); Fussman, G.; Kellens, J.; Francfort, H.-P.; Tremblay, X. 2005
  6. ^ e.g. Fussman, G.; Kellens, J.; Francfort, H.-P.; Tremblay, X. 2005; Bryant 2001:215-16
  7. ^ Bryant 2001
  8. ^ The Indo-Iranian Substratum
  9. ^ Sarah Thomason and Terence Kaufman, Language Contact, Creolization and Genetic Linguistics (University of California Press 1988)
  10. ^ compare an essay by Michael Witzel, page 6, note 11.

References

  • Sarianidi, V. I. 1976. "Issledovanija pamjatnikov Dashlyiskogo Oazisa," in Drevnii Baktria, vol. 1. Moscow: Akademia Nauk.
  • Lamberg-Karlovsky, C. C. 2002. "Archaeology and Language: The Indo-Iranians," in Current Anthropology, vol. 43, no. 1, Feb. year University of Chicago

Further reading

 External links

This page was last modified on 23 April 2010 at 04:25.
  

 http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd/oriental_empire.jpg

 Margiana (Old Persian Marguš): oasis in the Karakum desert, modern Mary (or Merv) in the southeast of Turkmenistan.

Margiana was situated on the boards of the river Murghab; this river, which was called Margos by the ancient Greeks, has its sources in the mountains of Afghanistan and flows to the north, into the Karakum desert, where it divides into several branches that disappear in the desert sands. The fertile delta (satellite photo) was called Margiana and was already occupied by farmers in about 2200-1700 BCE; their Bronze Age culture is known as the "Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex".

Margiana must have been conquered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great. This is not written in our sources, but is implied by the fact that he fought against the Massagetes, a nomad tribe living beyond Margiana.

In March 522 BCE, a Magian named Gaumâta seized power in the Achaemenid empire, claiming to be the brother of the legitimate king Cambyses. (Gaumâta could do this, because this brother, Smerdis, had been killed secretly.) Immediately, Cambyses advanced to the usurper, but he died before he reached Persia; the false Smerdis was able to rule for several months. However, Cambyses' relative Darius, together with six Persian noblemen, killed the usurper (29 September). Darius became king and faced a serious crisis: nearly all provinces of the Achaemenid empire revolted. The most important rebellion was that of the Medes, whose leader was king Phraortes. His rebellion spread to the north to Armenia and to the east to Parthia. Even further to the east, the oasis of Margiana revolted.

 

 

The leader of the Margian insurrection was one Frâda. Because Margiana was not a very important part of the Achaemenid empire, no action was undertaken. At the end of the spring of 521, however, the Medes had been defeated and in July the Parthian rebellion had been suppressed; only some mopping up operations were needed to restore order in the Achaemenid empire. The satrap of Bactria, Dâdarši, advanced against the rebels, which he defeated on 28 December 521 after a march of three hundred kilometers through the Karakum desert.

In the Behistun inscription, which was made immediately after the above mentioned events, Dâdarši's victory is presented as if it was just as important as the victories over the rebels in Babylonia or Media. One version of the text (the Aramaic, which is severely damaged) even mentions 55.423 Margians killed and 6.972 taken captive, which is certainly exaggerated.

 

We hear from it again in the histories of the Persian campaign of the MacedonianAlexander the Great. After the collapse of the Achaemenid empire, a Bactrian nobleman named Spitamenes started a guerilla war against the invaders (in 329/328 BCE), trying to keep Bactria and Sogdia free from Macedonian occupation. Alexander pursued the Bactrian leader, who retreated to the north, and sent his general Craterus to the west, to fortify Margiana. This was necessary, because in doing so, Spitamenes could no longer attack Alexander in the rear, in Aria. Craterus founded a city called king Alexandria and fortified five other towns, all situated on defendable hills.

 

Alexandria was refounded by king Antiochus I Soter (281-261), who called it Antiochia. It was a large, square military settlement, intended to guard Iran against incursions from nomad tribes, such as the Parni, who were to overrun this region and to found the Parthian empire in what is now Iran and Iraq. (The acropolis is now known as Erk Kala; the walled city is called Gyaur Kala (Infidel City); satellite photo.)

In 53 BCE, Antiochia in Margiana received new settlers: ten thousand Roman soldiers, taken captive by the Parthians at Carrhae. They must have found the conditions of their captivity easier than they expected; a few years later, the Greek topographer Strabo of Amasia praises Margiana as a country especially blessed by nature, and he must have received this information from the captives.

In the second century CE, Margiana played a role in the trade between east and west. Coming from China, caravans arrived in Sogdia and continued through the desert to Margiana, from where they went to the Parthian empire and finally the Mediterranean. The trade route became known as the Silk road. Margiana flourished and grew rich on the trade revenues. It had its own coins and became a cultural center of great importance, where Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jews, and (from the late fifth century) Christians lived together. It also played a role in the spread Christianity: in the sixth century, Nestorian missionaries moved from CtesiphonMaracanda and China. through Margiana to

In the Avesta, Margiana is mentioned as one of Ahuramazda's special creations and called 'the strong, holy Môuru' (Vendidad, Fargard 1.6). In the Hindu, Parsi and Arab traditions, Margiana is identified with the ancient Paradise.

http://travel.descopera.ro/6744222-Taramul-nemuritorilor-Hunza-a-Valea-Vietii

 


Characteristic Features of the BMAC by B.B. Lal


First, a map of the region involved is given below (Fig. 2):



map

Fig. 2. Region of Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex.

It is now proposed to discuss, though very briefly, the following features of the BMAC: (i) town-planning and monumental architecture; (ii) the ceramics; (iii) stone objects; (iv) metal objects; (v) sculptural art; (vi) seals and amulets; and finally (vii) the chronological horizon. This seemingly uncalled for exercise is being done in order to demonstrate that (a) the BMAC people were not nomads, as held by my Indian colleagues; and (b) these characteristic features of the BMAC never ever reached east of the Indus up to the upper Ganga-Yamuna doab – an area which was the homeland of the Rigvedic people, as is clear from the Nadi-stuti verses (10.75.5 and 6) of the Rigveda itself.

(I) TOWN-PLANNING AND MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE

The BMAC settlements, by and large, were well planned and contained monumental structures. This is abundantly clear, for example, from the excavated remains at Dashly-3, in Bactria, where a ‘cultic centre’ has been found located within a series of three successive fortifications. The cultic centre, circular on plan, with a diameter of 40 metres, was provided with nine square bastions on the exterior (Fig. 3).



Fig. 3. Temple at Dashly-3, Bactria.

In Margiana, excavations at Togolok-1 and Togolok-21 have yielded the remains of multi-roomed temples, of which that at the latter site is more elaborate. Covering an overall area of about 1.5 hectares, the Togolok-21 complex had in the centre a 60 x 50 m. unit enclosed by a 5-m. thick wall which was provided on its exterior with four circular towers, one at each corner, and two semicircular towers, one each abutting the exterior of the eastern and western walls. This central unit had two more enclosure walls at successive distances, which too were provided with circular towers at the corners and semicircular towers along the walls (Fig. 4).



Fig. 4. Temple at Togolok-21, Margiana.


Besides the foregoing temples, at Gonur (also in Margiana) has been brought to light a massive architectural complex of secular nature. Called variously as ‘Citadel’ or ‘Kremlin’, it measures 120 x 115 m. on plan and is enclosed by a fortification wall, having on the exterior a rectangular tower at each corner and four rectangular towers on each side. Here is the plan of the ‘Kremlin’ which incorporates within its premises the king’s palace, audience hall, administrative blocks, garrison complex, etc. (Fig. 5).



Fig. 5. ‘Citadel’ at Gonur, Margiana.

 

 

(II) THE CERAMICS

Many of the BMAC settlements have yielded remains of pottery kilns, having a lower ‘fire-chamber’ and an upper ‘baking chamber’. The pot-forms include, besides others, large carafes with stretched narrow necks, vases with long slim stems and ‘tea-pots’ with spouts. The spouts themselves show a great variety, which includes ‘long tubular’ spouts, ‘bridge’ spouts and ‘trough or channel’ spouts (Fig. 6).





Fig. 6. Pottery vessels from Margiana. (left top the Dacian fruitbowl NWB)

Besides these distinctive spouted vessels, there is yet another category which calls for special attention. It is a basin or bowl having a frieze of small animals (sometimes humans as well) running along the rim. Also to be noted are serpents crawling up along the walls of the pot, both on the exterior as well as interior (Fig. 7). Although there is no conclusive contextual evidence to establish their ‘ritual association’, it has been surmised that these bowls may still have had such a use, primarily because the animal-cum-human frieze on the rims would render the bowls rather uncomfortable for the lips to directly drink a liquid from the bowls.



Fig. 7. Cult vessel from Togolok-1 temple.

 

(III) STONE OBJECTS


There is a great variety of stone objects in the BMAC: for example, beads and pendants of carnelian, lapis lazuli and turquoise, carved vessels of steatite, ‘diminutive columns’ of multicoloured stones and seals and amulets of steatite.

The illustration that follows shows a cup-on-stand and a deep inward-tapering bowl of black steatite. Both these bear etched geometrical designs on the exterior (Fig. 8).

 

 

 

 


Vadastra (Romania)

Stemmed Bowl, Fired Clay
H. 23 cm; D. 28.7 cm Vădastra, Fărcarşele-Olt
5500–4800 BC  MO: I.8278 

http://www.nyu.edu/isaw/exhibitions/oldeurope/sites/default/files/images/98.I_8278_IMG_0808.preview.jpg


cupbowl

Fig. 8. Carved stone vessels from Gonur, Margiana.


The ‘diminutive columns’, also known as ‘dainty columns’ or ‘dainty pillars’, are generally less than half-metre in height, highly polished and sometimes provided with a vertical groove. While their exact use is debated, it has been suggested by certain scholars that these were used in some kind of ritual (Fig. 9).



vases

Fig. 9. Stone ‘dainty columns’ from the temple, Togolok-21.

 

 

(IV) METAL OBJECTS

The BMAC settlements, including graves, have yielded a large number of metal objects, mostly of bronze / copper but sometimes of silver and gold too. Here we illustrate two very distinctive axes. On one of these there sits a human figure at the butt-end, whereas in the other case that position is occupied by an animal (Fig. 10).


However, much more remarkable is an axe, made of silver but covered with gold lamina. The decoration showing a winged feline and heads of two eagles would appear to have had some mythological import (Fig. 11). It also seems most likely that this axe was not used for cutting wood or for a similar purpose but may have been ceremonial in nature – perhaps mounted on a specially made staff and held by a person in authority, as a mark of his position.



spacerFig. 10. Bronze axes. Fig. 11. Silver ceremonial axe.

axe

 

(V) SCULPTURAL ART

Though we have already dealt with objects of stone and metal and with ceramics, we discuss here separately the art of sculpting in stone, metal and earthenware, since these objects throw valuable light on the artistic acumen of the BMAC people and demonstrate how very individualistic was their art-style.

Here is a stone sculpture of a seated lady from Bactria (Fig. 12). In order to bring out the contrast in the portrayal, the sculptor has chosen a blackish stone for the dress with which the major part of the body is covered, but a pinkish white one for the head and hands. Also to be noted are not only the herring-bone weave (decoration) of the garment, but also the details in depicting the hairstyle.

 

stone

Fig. 12. Composite stone figurine.

 

http://www.dacia.org/timeline/Vadastra/vadastra.gif

 

 

  

 

 Vadastra culture figurine (left)  4000 BC (Romania-Europe NWM) and Bactrian-Dachean figurine from Bactria-Margiana (right) 

Stone seated female figure, late 3rd–early 2nd millennium b.c.
Central Asia (Bactria-Margiana) Chlorite or steatite, and limestone
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1989.281.41a,b

 

 

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/GodessesBactriaAfghanistan2000-1800BCE.jpg

 

http://www.cemml.colostate.edu/cultural/09476/images/afgh02-02-07-800w.jpg

 

 

 

Lot 128, figure of a goddess, green chlorite, marble and lapis lazuli, Bactria or Margiana, circa 2300-2000 B.C., 3 3/4 inches high

Lot 128 is a figure of a goddess made of green chlorite, marble and lapis lazuli from Bactria or Margiana, circa 2300-2000 B.C. The 3 3/4-inch-high sculpture consists of four parts. It has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $72,000.

 

http://www.freewebs.com/lukferi/bactria%202.jpg

 

It is not just the human beings that attracted the attention of the BMAC artist, but the animal-world as well. And here are two objects, both from Bactria, one depicting a feline (Fig. 13) and the other a goat (Fig. 14).

lion

Fig. 13. Chlorite and gold leaf representation of a feline,
with semiprecious stone inlay.

The gold leaf and inlay-work in the case of the former are indeed superb and so also is the choice of coloured stones in the case of the goat, namely lapis lazuli for the horns, eyes and beard and limestone for the rest of the body.

 

goat

Fig. 14. Limestone goat with horns, eyes and beard in lapis lazuli.

Though termed as ‘the poor man’s medium’ of art-expression, the earthen sculptures are no less remarkable. Take for example, the following figurine from Gonur Depe necropolis in Margiana. It has a slender neck, aquiline nose, prominent eyes, arched eyebrows, receding forehead and a very distinctive headdress (Fig. 15).

terracotta

Fig. 15. Terracotta figurine from Gonur Depe necropolis.

 

 

(VI) SEALS AND AMULETS


Seals and amulets are a very significant constituent of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, since the individual motifs as well as the narrative scenes depicted thereon throw valuable light on the religious beliefs and practices of the people. The seals were made of metals, such as copper / bronze and silver, while the amulets were usually of stone, mostly black steatite. These latter usually show, amongst other motifs, snakes, scorpions, eagles, two-humped (typically Bactrian) camels, felines, etc. The snake seems to be such a favourite that it is depicted on the ceramic ‘rituals bowls’ as well (already referred to). The metal seals are to be noted, besides other motifs, for geometric ones. But most spectacular are the narratives on the cylindrical seals. We propose to illustrate these later when their narratives will also be discussed.

(VII) THE CHRONOLOGICAL HORIZON–

A good deal of controversy surrounds the origin of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, namely whether it was a local development from Namazga V or it was born out of an external impetus. Be that as it may, Carbon-14 dates indicate that Period 1 at Gonur Depe may have commenced around 2100 BCE and continued up to 1900 BCE, while Perio

d 2, which is what is known as the BMAC proper, may be ascribed to circa 2000-1700 BCE.

AN ANALYSIS OF THE VARIOUS VIEWS

In the earlier part of this Address we had stated that we shall examine the viewpoints of Professors Romila Thapar and R. S. Sharma on the one hand and of Professors Asko Parpola and Viktor Sarianidi on the other. Thus, we begin with the views of the first two scholars.

 VIEWS OF ROMILA THAPAR AND R. S. SHARMA

Having failed to establish an ‘Aryan Invasion’ of India, Professor Thapar comes out (1989-91: 259-60) with a new theory, viz.: “If invasion is discarded then the mechanism of migration and occasional contacts come into sharper focus. The migrations appear to have been of pastoral cattle-breeders who are prominent in the Avesta and Rigveda”.

Following faithfully the footsteps of Thapar and amplifying her stand, Professor Sharma avers (1999: 77): “... the pastoralists who moved to the Indian borderland came from Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex or BMAC which saw the genesis of the culture of the Rigveda.”

Both Thapar and Sharma are even now labouring under the 19th century belief that the Vedic Aryans were nomads. But have they even once cast a glance at the make-up of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. As would have been absolutely clear by now, the BMAC is a fully developed civilization with all the trappings of urbanism. How can then Thapar and Sharma devalue the Bactria-Margiana people and call them ‘pastoral cattle-breeders’? Just to fit into their preconceived notion that the¡Rigvedic Aryans were ‘nomads’?

VIEWS OF ASKO PARPOLA

In his paper, ‘Margiana and the Aryan Problem’, Asko Parpola states (1993: 47): “These excavations at Mehrgarh, Sibri, Nausharo and Quetta have conclusively shown that immigrants bringing with them an entire new cultural complex have settled in Baluchistan, with close parallels in Gurgan, south Turkmenistan, Margiana and Bactria of the Namazga V-VI period.”

Whereas certain parallels between the Quetta-Sibri finds and those from the Bactria-Margiana regions are acceptable, one is really baffled by the succeeding statement of Parpola, namely: “A newly found antennae-hilted sword from Bactria paralleling those from Fatehgarh suggests that this same wave of immigrants may also have introduced the Gangetic Copper Hoards into India.” (Fig. 16).

knives

Fig. 16. Antennae-hilted swords of copper.

I am sure Parpola is aware of the fact that the Copper Hoards of the Gangetic Valley, as would be seen from the illustration that follows (Fig. 17), include many other very distinctive types, such as anthropomorphic figures, harpoons, shouldered axes, etc. which have never been found in Bactria.

 

copper

Fig. 17. Copper hoards from the Gangetic valley, India.

 

Further, the overall cultural ethos, including the distinctive pottery, of the Gangetic Copper Hoards is totally different from that of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex and that the former cannot be derived from the latter. But more strange is the argument that the occurrence of a single antennae-hilted sword in Bactria would entitle that region to be the ‘motherland’ of the Gangetic Copper Hoard people who produced these copper weapons and other associated objects in hundreds, if not thousands. If this logic is stretched further, I will not be surprised if one day Parpola comes out with the thesis that the Harappan Civilization too originated in Margiana, because in that region (at Gonur) has been found one steatite seal bearing typical Harappan inscription and motif (Fig. 18), unmindful of the fact that such seals constitute an integral part of the Harappan Civilization.

harappan seal

Fig. 18. Harappan seal from Gonur, and its impression.

If, following the footsteps of Parpola, I were to say that the find of the well known seal of the ‘Persian Gulf’ style at Lothal in Gujarat establishes that the Persian Gulf Culture (which abounds in such seals) originated in Gujarat or, again, if I said that the occurrence of a cylinder seal at Kalibangan in Rajasthan entitles Rajasthan to be the ‘motherland’ of the Mesopotamian Culture (wherein cylinder seals are found in large numbers), I am sure my learned colleagues present here would at once get me admitted to the nearest lunatic asylum.

One finds yet another amusing example of a similar kind of unbridled imagination when Parpola calls the ground-plan of the palace at Dashly-3, datable to circa 2000 BCE, “the prototype of the later Tantric mandalas / yantras”. He then goes on to add: “That the religion of the Dasas [who are mentioned in the Rigveda and whom he identifies with the Bactria-Margiana people] was an early form of Ýaktism is also suggested by the ground plan of the palace of Dashly-3 in Bactria closely agreeing with the later Tantric mandalas...”(ibid.: 52). For the sake of unambiguity, I reproduce now the drawings of the Dashly-3 Palace and the Mahakali yantra (Fig. 19), as published by Parpola himself (ibid.: 62), and leave it to the learned scholars to decide whether they too would like to accompany Parpola in crossing this 4000-year-old and 4000-kilometre-long bridge along with Parpola.


temple

Fig. 19.

Must we really indulge in such a kite-flying just to support our preconceived notions?

 

SARIANIDI’S VIEWS

It has been claimed by certain scholars, including Sarianidi, that the BMAC people were the forebears of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans. This conclusion seems to have been drawn primarily on the following four counts: viz.

(i) fire-worship temples of BMAC;

(ii) supposed use of soma / homa in BMAC rituals;

(iii) mistaken identity of a horse’s skeleton as evidence of the asvamedha; and

(iv) cult motifs on the BMAC glyptics.

We shall now examine, though briefly, the evidence in respect of these four claims
.

(i) Fire Worship

It has been argued that the BMAC temples were devoted to fire-worship and that since this kind of worship constitutes the main religious base of the Zoroastrians, they and the BMAC people shared a common ancestry. This is what Sarianidi says (1993a: 679) in this context: “A building unearthed at Gonur temenos and conveniently called a fort has a cross-shaped general plan with twelve corner towers. It most closely resembles the outer contours of the indisputable fire temple at Tepe Nush-i-Jan. A difference of minor importance only consists of the fact that while the towers are round at Gonur, they are square at Tepe Nush-i-Jan” (Fig. 20). But he immediately admits the weakness of the comparison by stating: “Unfortunately, the fort (at Gonur temenos) appears to be unfinished so we do not know its inner construction, but apparently it too was a fire temple.” What is the great point in forcing such a comparison when the evidence itself so weak?

tepe

Fig. 20.

In order to show that the Indian subcontinent was also involved in such a fire-worship, Sarianidi adds (ibid., p. 676): “An example is the fire temple in the lower town of Mohenjo-daro; its basic plan comprises a ‘courtyard encompassed by corridors’ (Dhavalikar and Atre 1989)” (Fig. 21).

 

fire-temple

Fig. 21. Mohenjo-daro: “Fire Temple”

In their article, Dhavalikar and Atre have gone into a series of conjectures, there being no down-to-earth evidence for actual fire worship in that complex. On the contrary, Marshall (1931, Vol. I: 202) takes this structure to have been a normal residential house. But in his desperation to bring India as well into the orbit of a Zoroastrian kind of fire worship, Sarianidi has completely lost sight of the fact that the house-complex at Mohenjo-daro belongs to the Indus Civilization of the 3rd millennium BCE whereas the BMAC is much later, dated to the 2nd millennium BCE. Thus, if at all the comparison made by Sarianidi is accepted, the direction of movement will have to be from India to Central Asia and not vice-versa!

(ii) The Soma / Homa

It has been claimed that there occurred the remains of ephedra and poppy in the temple of Togolok-21 in Margiana and since ephedra has been thought to be identical with the soma / homa of the Rigveda / Avesta, the BMAC people must have been the ancestors of the Indo-Iranians. There are two snags in this thesis. In the first place, not all experts agree that soma / homa is nothing but ephedra. But what is more important is that Harri Nyberg, a well known authority on the subject, after a thorough examination of the Toglok evidence, writes (1995: 400):

... remains of ephedras have also been reported from the temple-fortress complex of Togolok 21 in the Merv oasis (ancient Margiana – Parpola 1988; Meier-Melikyan 1990) along with the remains of poppies. ... In 1990 I received some samples from the site [forwarded by Dr. Fred Hiebert of Harvard University] , which were subjected to pollen analysis at the Department of Botany, University of Helsinki. .... The largest amount of pollen was found in the bone tube (used for imbibing liquid?) from Gonur 1, but even in this sample, which had been preserved in a comparatively sheltered position when compared with the other investigated samples, only pollen of the family Caryophyllaceae was present. No pollen from ephedras or poppies was found and even the pollen left in the samples showed clear traces of deterioration (typical in ancient pollen having been preserved in a dry environment in contact with oxygen). Our pollen analysis was carefully checked for any methodological errors, but no inaccuracies were found.

 

(iii) The Asvamedha

The discovery, in the cemetery area at Gonur, of the skeleton of a horse, with its head missing, has led Sarianidi to postulate that it is a case of the Asvamedha (horse sacrifice); and since the Asvamedha is a ritual mentioned in the Rigveda, he argues that the authors of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex must have been the ancestors of the Rigvedic Aryans.

 

Before we examine the validity of such a conclusion, let us have a look at the photograph of the skeleton, published by Sarianidi himself (Fig. 22).

bones

Fig. 22. Burial (?) of a horse in Gonur Depe. 

 

It would be seen from the photograph that there is no clear outline of a pit in which the horse is supposed to have been regularly buried. Further, the skeleton lies hardly a few centimetres below the ground-level. Thus, there could have been many other reasons for the head to be missing, such as erosion through natural agencies or subsequent human interference.

And no less important is the fact that the skeletal remains do not conform to the manner in which the horse had to be sacrificed in the asvamedha.

There are two Suktas in the Rigveda, viz. 1.162 and 1.163, which are devoted to the Asvamedha and lay down how the horse, tied with ropes and accompanied by a goat, had to be taken to the sacrificial altar and then, after some rituals, had to be sacrificed. I quote below two of the verses, viz. 1.162.18 and 1.162.19, which are very relevant here.

“The axe penetrates the thirty-four ribs of the swift horse, the beloved of the gods, (the immolators), cut up (the horse) with skill, so that the limbs may be unperforated and recapitulating joint by joint. (18)

“There is one immolator of the radiant horse, which is Time: that are two that hold him fast: such of thy limbs as I cut up in due season. I offer them, made into balls (of meat), upon the fire.” (19)

The foregoing description makes it abundantly clear that in the case of the asvamedha the horse had to be cut up into parts, ‘recapitulating joint by joint’.

There is hardly any evidence of such a cutting up in the case of the horse’s skeleton discovered at Gonur. Then why be so imaginative as to call this skeleton as evidence of the asvamedha and thereby draw an uncalled for conclusion that the BMAC people were the ancestors of the Rigvedic Aryans ?

 

(iv) Motifs on BMAC glyptics


The fourth argument that has been pressed into the service of the supposed BMAC = Aryan equation is that the motifs on the BMAC seals compare with certain motifs on the Syro-Hittite glyptics and since there occur on some Boghaz Qui tablets the names of Vedic deities, viz. Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatya, the Boghaz Qui Aryans must be at the root of BMAC ethnic make-up. To quote Sarianidi (op.cit.: 677): “Since it is Mitanni texts that contain the oldest mention of Aryan deities, there cannot be any doubt about the connection of the Mitanni empire with the so-called Aryan problem. As the replication of Mitanni art in Bactria and Margiana is clearly not coincidental, we are justified in connecting the tribes migrating into Central Asia and the Indus Valley with the settlement process of the Aryan or Indo-Iranian tribes.”

Elsewhere Sarianidi goes into the details of these Syro-Hittite vis-a-vis Bactria-Margiana glyptic parallels. For example, he states (1993b: 12-13):

In this connection worthy of utmost attention is the impression of a cylinder seal on one of the Margianian vessels, found .... at Gonur. The central figure of a frequently repeated frieze composition is a standing nude anthropomorphic winged deity with an avian head holding two mountain goats by the legs....

Such anthropomorphic winged and avian-headed deities are represented fairly fully in the glyptics and on the seals of Bactria.... These Bactrian images find the most impressive correspondence in Syro-Hittite glyptics....

If the fact that it’s for the Mittani kingdom that the names of Aryan deities are evidenced is taken into account the importance of the Bactrian-Margianian images will become obvious in the light of solving the Aryan problem on the basis of new archaeological data.

While one has little hesitation in accepting the above-noted Syro-Hittite vis-a-vis Bactria-Margiana parallels, what indeed is the basis of connecting these motifs with the Aryan gods, viz. Indra, Maruta, Varuna and Nasatya? (cf. Fig. 23).

seal

Fig. 23. Impression of cylinder seal from Gonur-1

 

Does Sarianidi think that the ‘standing nude anthropomorphic winged deity with avian head’ and holding animals by their tails in each hand represents one of the above-mentioned Vedic gods– Indra, Maruta, Varuna, Nasatya?

Likewise, what precisely Aryan is there in the narrative portrayed on another cylinder seal? (Fig. 24).

 

Fig. 24. Cylinder seal from Togolok-21 and its impression.

Perhaps one fine morning someone might be tempted to designate the scene depicted on the next seal as “ The offering of Soma to Indra”, where Indra is the central figure seated on a chair and his devotees are offering the soma in cups, the beverage itself being stored in the jar! (Fig. 25).

 

Fig. 25. Scene on a cosmetic flacon, Bactria.

 

FINALLY, THE MOST CRUCIAL ASPECT OF THE ISSUE

The following three maps (Figs. 26, 27 & 28), not drawn by me but published by Sarianidi himself (1993b: Figs. 2, 3 and 5) relate to the spatial distribution respectively of ‘the motif of man-bird with hit animals’, ‘the motif of acrobats jumping over bulls’, and ‘miniature columns and cult vessels with depiction of snakes and animals on the rim’.

 

map

Fig. 26. Spread of the motif of man-bird with hit animals.

map2

Fig. 27. Spread of the motif of acrobats jumping over bulls.

map3

Fig. 28. Spread of ‘miniature columns’ and their probable
prototypes in the Sypro-Hittite world.

A careful look at these maps would make it abundantly clear that the glyptic motifs shown on the first two maps occur from the Bactria-Margiana region on the east to the Syro-Hittite region on the west but do not travel southwards in the direction of Baluchistan. It is only the miniature columns and bowls bearing on their rim animal-and-snake motifs that find their way into Baluchistan. But in no case did any of the above-noted motifs, columns or snake-decorated bowls find their way east of the Indus up to the upper reaches of the Ganga-Yamuna doab which, as spelt out in the Nadi-stuti Sukta of the Rigveda itself (10.75.5-6), was the region occupied by the Rigvedic Aryans.

The only exceptions to the foregoing distribution-pattern are some seals / seal-impressions from Chanhu-daro and Gilund (Possehl 2004: figs. 7 and 15). Sometimes, a double-spiral-headed copper pin from Chanhu-daro (Mackay 1976, reprint, p. 195, pl. LXVIII, 9) and a two-animal-headed antimony stopper-rod, also of copper, from Harappa (Vats 1974, reprint, p. 390, pl. CXXV, 36) are also brought into the discussion. But let it be remembered that all these are only peripheral to the most characteristic and core items of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. Anyway, it would be simply ridiculous to ascribe these few objects to a migration of the BMAC people (cf. Gupta 2006, under print). Have we not in the past explained the occurrence of some items of a given culture-complex in another complex by means of trade / exchange / casual gift or a similar mechanism: for example, the occurrence of Harappan seals, etched carnelian beads, etc. in Mesopotamia, Iran and even Central Asia by trade and not by migration of the Harappan population? Then why invoke the migration of the BMAC people to explain the presence of some seals / seal-impressions, etc. at stray Indian sites?

In the context of the debate whether the ¡Rigvedic people were indigenous or invaders / immigrants from outside, the evidence of two sister disciplines, namely human biology and human genetics, must also be brought into the picture.

After a thorough examination of the relevant human skeletons, Hemphill and his colleagues (1991) categorically pronounced: “As for the question of biological continuity within the Indus Valley, two discontinuities appear to exist. The first occurs between 6000 and 4500 BC ... and the second occurs at some point after 800 BC.” In other words, there was no entry of a new set of people between 4500 and 800 BCE, much less of Aryan invaders / immigrants !

In recent years a great deal of genetic research has been carried out which too throws valuable light on this issue; and I quote here Sanghamitra Sahoo, et al. (2006: 843-48): “The sharing of some Y-chromosomal haplogroups between Indian and Central Asian populations is most parsimoniously explained by a deep, common ancestry between the two regions, with the diffusion of some Indian-specific lineages northward. The Y-chromosomal data consistently suggest a largely South Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India, of people associated either with the development of agriculture or the spread of the Indo-Aryan language family.”

Scholars have already abandoned (though after much dithering) the ‘Aryan Invasion’ theory. Is it not high time to rethink and shelve the newly hugged-to-the-chest ‘Bactria-Margiana Immigration’ thesis as well?

At the end, it needs to be emphasized that the purpose of this Address was not to criticize Professor X or Professor Y. Far from it. The whole emphasis has been on demonstrating how the 19th-century paradigms are still dominating our thinking, thereby producing a very blurred vision of South Asia’s past. Can’t we begin thinking afresh in this 21st century?

* * *

REFERENCES


Dales, G.F. 1964. The Mythical Massacre at Mohenjo-daro. Expedition 6(3): 36-43.

Danino, M. 2006. L’Inde et l’invasion de nulle part. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.

Dhavalikar, M. K. and Shubhangana Atre. 1989. The Fire Cult and Virgin Sacrifice: Some Harappan
Rituals. In J. M. Kenoyer (ed.) Old Problems and New Perspectives in the Archaeology of South Asia,
Wisconsin Archaeological Reports, Vol. 2, pp.193-205.

Gupta, S. P. 2006 (under print). Did the BMAC ever cross the Indus? Paper presented at an international conference held at Vadodara in 2005.

Hemphill, B. E. et al. 1991. Biological Adaptations and Affinities of Bronze Age Harappans. In R. H. Meadow (ed.) Harappa Excavations 1986-1990, pp. 137-82. Madison, Wisconsin: Prehistory Press.

Kenoyer, J. M. 1998. Ancient Cities of the Indus Civilization. Karachi: Oxford University Press and American Institute of Pakistan Studies.

Lal, B. B. 2002. The Sarasvati Flows On: The Continuity of Indian Culture. New Delhi: Aryan Books International.
——. 2005. The Homeland of the Aryans: Evidence of Rigvedic Flora and Fauna & Archaeology. New Delhi: Aryan Books International.

Ligabue, G. and S. Salvatori. 1989. Bactria: an Ancient Oasis Civilization from the Sands of Afghanistan. Venice: Erizzo.

Mackay, E. J. H. 1976, reprint. Chanhu-daro Excavations 1935-36. Delhi: Bhartiya Publishing House.

Marshall, John. 1931. Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization. 3 vols. London: Arthur Probsthain.

Muller, F. Max. 1890, reprint1979. Physical Religion. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services.

Nyberg, Harri. 1995. The Problem of the Aryans and the Soma: The Botanical Evidence. In G. Erdosy (ed.) The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, pp. 382-406. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Parpola, Asko. 1993. Margiana and the Aryan Problem. In IASCCA Information Bulletin, 19, pp.41-62. Nauka.

Possehl, Gregory L. et al. 2004. The Ahar-Banas Complex and the BMAC, Man and Environment, Vol. XXIX, No. 2, pp. 18-29.

Renfrew, C. 1988. Archaeology and Language. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sahoo, Sanghamitra,et al. 2006. A Prehistory of Indian Y Chromosomes: Evaluating Demic Diffusion Scenarios. PNAS, Vol. 103, No. 4: 843-48.

Sarianidi, V. I. 1993 a. Margiana and the Indo-Iranian World. South Asian Archaeology, Vol. II, pp.667-80.
——. 1993 b. Margiana in the Ancient Orient. In IASCCA Information Bulletin, 19, pp. 5-28. Nauka.

Sarianidi, V. I. 2002. Margush. Ancient Oriental Kingdom in the Old Delta of the Murghab River. Ashgabat.

Shaffer, Jim.G. and Diane Lichtenstein 1999.Migration. Migration, Philology and South Asian Archaeology. In Johannes Bronkhorst and Madhav M. Deshpande (eds.), Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia: Evidence, Interpretation and Ideology. Cambridge: Harvard University.

Sharma, R. S. 1999. Advent of the Aryans in India. New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.

Thapar, Romila. 1988-91. In Journal Asiatic Society of Bombay, Vol. 64-66, pp.259-60.

Vats, M. S. 1974, reprint. Excavations at Harappa. Delhi: Bhartiya Publishing House.

Wheeler, R. E. M. 1947. Harappa 1946: The Defences and Cemetery R 37. Ancient India, 3: 58-130.

Witzel, M. 1995. Rigvedic history: poets, chieftains and polities. In George Erdosy (ed.) The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, pp. 307-52. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

 


 

 

 

 http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/shepherd/oriental_empire.jpg

 

 

Margiana (Old Persian Marguš): oasis in the Karakum desert, modern Mary (or Merv) in the southeast of Turkmenistan.

Margiana was situated on the boards of the river Murghab; this river, which was called Margos by the ancient Greeks, has its sources in the mountains of Afghanistan and flows to the north, into the Karakum desert, where it divides into several branches that disappear in the desert sands. The fertile delta (satellite photo) was called Margiana and was already occupied by farmers in about 2200-1700 BCE; their Bronze Age culture is known as the "Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex".

Margiana must have been conquered by the Persian king Cyrus the Great. This is not written in our sources, but is implied by the fact that he fought against the Massagetes, a nomad tribe living beyond Margiana.

In March 522 BCE, a Magian named Gaumâta seized power in the Achaemenid empire, claiming to be the brother of the legitimate king Cambyses. (Gaumâta could do this, because this brother, Smerdis, had been killed secretly.) Immediately, Cambyses advanced to the usurper, but he died before he reached Persia; the false Smerdis was able to rule for several months. However, Cambyses' relative Darius, together with six Persian noblemen, killed the usurper (29 September). Darius became king and faced a serious crisis: nearly all provinces of the Achaemenid empire revolted. The most important rebellion was that of the Medes, whose leader was king Phraortes. His rebellion spread to the north to Armenia and to the east to Parthia. Even further to the east, the oasis of Margiana revolted.

 

 

The leader of the Margian insurrection was one Frâda. Because Margiana was not a very important part of the Achaemenid empire, no action was undertaken. At the end of the spring of 521, however, the Medes had been defeated and in July the Parthian rebellion had been suppressed; only some mopping up operations were needed to restore order in the Achaemenid empire. The satrap of Bactria, Dâdarši, advanced against the rebels, which he defeated on 28 December 521 after a march of three hundred kilometers through the Karakum desert.

In the Behistun inscription, which was made immediately after the above mentioned events, Dâdarši's victory is presented as if it was just as important as the victories over the rebels in Babylonia or Media. One version of the text (the Aramaic, which is severely damaged) even mentions 55.423 Margians killed and 6.972 taken captive, which is certainly exaggerated.

 

We hear from it again in the histories of the Persian campaign of the MacedonianAlexander the Great. After the collapse of the Achaemenid empire, a Bactrian nobleman named Spitamenes started a guerilla war against the invaders (in 329/328 BCE), trying to keep Bactria and Sogdia free from Macedonian occupation. Alexander pursued the Bactrian leader, who retreated to the north, and sent his general Craterus to the west, to fortify Margiana. This was necessary, because in doing so, Spitamenes could no longer attack Alexander in the rear, in Aria. Craterus founded a city called king Alexandria and fortified five other towns, all situated on defendable hills.

Alexandria was refounded by king Antiochus I Soter (281-261), who called it Antiochia. It was a large, square military settlement, intended to guard Iran against incursions from nomad tribes, such as the Parni, who were to overrun this region and to found the Parthian empire in what is now Iran and Iraq. (The acropolis is now known as Erk Kala; the walled city is called Gyaur Kala (Infidel City); satellite photo.)

In 53 BCE, Antiochia in Margiana received new settlers: ten thousand Roman soldiers, taken captive by the Parthians at Carrhae. They must have found the conditions of their captivity easier than they expected; a few years later, the Greek topographer Strabo of Amasia praises Margiana as a country especially blessed by nature, and he must have received this information from the captives.

In the second century CE, Margiana played a role in the trade between east and west. Coming from China, caravans arrived in Sogdia and continued through the desert to Margiana, from where they went to the Parthian empire and finally the Mediterranean. The trade route became known as the Silk road. Margiana flourished and grew rich on the trade revenues. It had its own coins and became a cultural center of great importance, where Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jews, and (from the late fifth century) Christians lived together. It also played a role in the spread Christianity: in the sixth century, Nestorian missionaries moved from CtesiphonMaracanda and China. through Margiana to

In the Avesta, Margiana is mentioned as one of Ahuramazda's special creations and called 'the strong, holy Môuru' (Vendidad, Fargard 1.6). In the Hindu, Parsi and Arab traditions, Margiana is identified with the ancient Paradise.

http://travel.descopera.ro/6744222-Taramul-nemuritorilor-Hunza-a-Valea-Vietii

Yaz Culture and the Zoroastrianism

Yaz culture

Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.

The Yaz culture is an early Iron Age culture of Bactria and Margiana (ca. 1500-1100 BC). It has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early East Iranian culture as described in the Avesta. So far, no burials related to the culture have been found, and this was taken as evidence of the Zoroastrian practice of exposure or so-called sky burial.

 

Zoroastrianism

 

Basic beliefs

  • There is one universal and transcendental God, Ahura Mazda, the one uncreated Creator to whom all worship is ultimately directed.[4]
  • Ahura Mazda's creation—evident as asha, truth and order—is the antithesis of chaos, evident as druj, falsehood and disorder. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict.[4]
  • Active participation in life through good thoughts, good words and good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep the chaos at bay. This active participation is a central element in Zoroaster's concept of free will, and Zoroastrianism rejects all forms of monasticism.
  • Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail over evil Angra Mainyu/Ahriman (see below), at which point the universe will undergo a cosmic renovation and time will end (cf:Zoroastrian eschatology). In the final renovation, all of creation—even the souls of the dead that were initially banished to "darkness"—will be reunited in Ahura Mazda returning to life in the undead form. At the end of time a savior-figure [a Saoshyant] will bring about a final renovation of the world (frasho.kereti), in which the dead will be revived.[4]
  • In Zoroastrian tradition the malevolent is represented by Angra Mainyu (also referred to as "Ahriman"), the "Destructive Principle", while the benevolent is represented through Ahura Mazda's Spenta Mainyu, the instrument or "Bounteous Principle" of the act of creation. It is through Spenta Mainyu that transcendental Ahura Mazda is immanent in humankind, and through which the Creator interacts with the world. According to Zoroastrian cosmology, in articulating the Ahuna Vairya formula Ahura Mazda made His ultimate triumph evident to Angra Mainyu.
  • As expressions and aspects of Creation, Ahura Mazda emanated the Amesha Spentashypostasis and representative of one aspect of that Creation. These Amesha Spenta are in turn assisted by a league of lesser principles, the Yazatas, each "Worthy of Worship" and each again a hypostasis of a moral or physical aspect of creation. ("Bounteous Immortals"), that are each the

Other characteristics

Water and fire: In Zoroastrianism, water (apo, aban) and fire (atar, adar) are agents of ritual purity, and the associated purification ceremonies are considered the basis of ritual life. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, water and fire are respectively the second and last primordial elements to have been created, and scripture considers fire to have its origin in the waters. Both water and fire are considered life-sustaining, and both water and fire are represented within the precinct of a fire temple. Zoroastrians usually pray in the presence of some form of fire (which can be considered evident in any source of light), and the culminating rite of the principle act of worship constitutes a "strengthening of the waters" (see Ab-Zohr). Fire is considered a medium through which spiritual insight and wisdom is gained, and water is considered the source of that wisdom.

 

Avesta

 

The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas, in 'Gathic' Avestan, are the hymns thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. The liturgical texts of the Yasna, which includes the Gathas, is partially in Older (i.e. 'Gathic') and partially in Younger Avestan. The oldest portions may be older than the Gathas, later adapted to more closely follow the doctrine of Zoroaster. The various Yashts are in Younger Avestan and thought to date to the Achaemenid era (559330 BCE). The Visprad and Vendidad, which are also in Younger Avestan, were probably composed even later but this is not certain.

The various texts are thought to have been transmitted orally for centuries before they found written form in the 3rd century[ambiguous]. According to legend preserved in the Book of Arda Viraf, a 3rd or 4th century work, a written version of the religious texts had existed in the palace library of the Achaemenid kings (559330 BCE), but which was then supposedly (Arda Viraf 1.4-7 and Denkard 3.420) lost in a fire caused by the troops of Alexander. However, neither assertion can be confirmed since the texts, if they existed, have been lost.

Nonetheless, Rasmus Christian Rask concluded that the texts must indeed be the remnants of a much larger literature, as Pliny the Elder had suggested in his Naturalis Historiae, where he describes one Hermippus of Smyrna having "interpreted two million verses of Zoroaster" in the 3rd century BCE. Peter Clark in Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to an Ancient FaithGathas and older Yasna texts would not have retained their old-language qualities if they had only been orally transmitted.[dubious ] (1998, Brighton) suggests the

 Later redaction

According to the Dēnkard, a semi-religious work written in the 9th century, the king Volgash (thought to be the Parthian king Vologases IV, c. 147191 CE) attempted to have the sacred texts collected and collated. The results of this undertaking (the so-called "Arsacid archetype"), if it occurred, have not survived.

All texts known today derive from a single master copy, now lost but known as the "Sassanian archetype", most likely a product of the 3rd or 4th century. According to tradition, in the 3rd century, the Sassanian emperor Ardashir I (r. 226-241 CE) commanded his high priest Tonsar (or Tansar) to compile the theological texts. According to the Dēnkard, the Tonsar effort resulted in the reproduction of twenty-one volumes, called nasks, subdivided into 348 chapters, with approximately 3.5 million words in total. One final redaction took place under Shapur II (r. 309-379).

The Avesta, as known today, represents only those parts of the text that are used liturgically, and therefore survived in the memory of the priests; and, as it now consists of all surviving liturgical texts in the Avestan language, it may or may not include material that never formed part of the 21 nasks at all. In that sense, the current Avesta is a "prayer book" rather than a "Bible". The remainder of the 21 nasks, including the Chihrdad, has been lost since then, especially after the fall of the Sassanid empire, after which Zoroastrianism was supplanted by Islam. However, some secondary literature in Pahlavi purports to contain paraphrases or lists of contents of the lost books.

The origin of the term 'Avesta' is unknown. A derivation from Middle Persian abestāg, meaning "praise", is a frequently noted possibility.

 

 Sky burial

 

Sky burial or ritual dissection was once a common funerary practice in Tibet wherein a human corpse is cut in specific locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements or the mahabhuta and animals – especially to birds of prey. The location of the sky burial preparation and place of execution are understood in the Vajrayana traditions as charnel grounds. In Tibet the practice is known as jhator (Tibetan: བྱ་གཏོར་Wylie: bya gtor), which literally means, "giving alms to the birds."

The majority of Tibetans adhere to Buddhism, which teaches rebirth. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it, or nature may let it decompose. So the function of the sky burial is simply the disposal of the remains. In much of Tibet the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and with fuel and timber scarce, a sky burial is often more practical than cremation.

 

Indo-Aryana People


Total population
ca. 1 billion
Regions with significant populations
 India 821 mil [1]
 Pakistan Over 164 mil [2]
 Bangladesh Over 150 mil [3]
 Nepal Over 26 mil  
 Sri Lanka Over 14 mil  
 Maldives Over 300,000  
Languages

Indo-Aryan languages

Religion

(Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain) and Islam, some non-religious atheist/agnostic and Christians

Related ethnic groups

Other Indian people · Bangladeshis · Sri Lankans · Nepalese · Maldivians · Pakistanis · Afghans · Dravidian peoples  · Europeans · Romani people · Iranians · Nuristanis · Dard people · Dom people · Lom people · Indo-Iranians

Indo-Aryan is an ethno-linguistic[citation needed] term referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages. Today, there are over one billion native speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, most of them native to South Asia, where they form the majority. It is believed that their linguistic roots can be traced back to the ancient Indo-Iranian peoples.[citation needed]

Origins

Indo-European topics

Indo-European languages (list)
Albanian · Armenian · Baltic
Celtic · Germanic · Greek
Indo-Iranian (Indo-Aryan, Iranian)
Italic · Slavic  

extinct: Anatolian · Paleo-Balkan (Dacian,
Phrygian, Thracian) · Tocharian

Indo-European language-speaking peoples
Europe: Balts · Slavs · Albanians · Italics · Celts · Germanic peoples · Greeks · Paleo-Balkans (Illyrians · Thracians · Dacians) ·

Asia: Anatolians (Hittites, Luwians)  · Armenians  · Indo-Iranians (Iranians · Indo-Aryans)  · Tocharians  

Proto-Indo-Europeans
Language · Society · Religion
 
Urheimat hypotheses
Kurgan hypothesis
Anatolia · Armenia · India · PCT
 
Indo-European studies

The separation of Indo-Aryans proper from the Iranians is commonly dated, on linguistic grounds, to roughly 1800 BCE.[4] The Nuristani languages probably split in such early times, and are classified as either remote Indo-Aryan dialects or as an independent branch of Indo-Iranian. By the mid 2nd millennium BCE early Indo-Aryans had reached Assyria in the west (the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni) and the northern Punjab in the east (the Rigvedic tribes).[5]

According to Sahoo (2006), “The sharing of some Y-chromosomal haplogroups between Indian and Central Asian populations is most parsimoniously explained by a deep, common ancestry between the two regions, with diffusion of some Indian-specific lineages northward. The Y-chromosomal data consistently suggest a largely South Asian origin for Indian caste communities and therefore argue against any major influx, from regions north and west of India, of people associated either with the development of agriculture or the spread of the Indo-Aryan language family.”

Several recent studies of the distribution of alleles on the Y chromosome,[6] microsatellite DNA,[7] and mitochondrial DNA [8] in India have cast strong doubt for a biological Dravidian "race" distinct from non-Dravidians in the Indian subcontinent. A 2009 study of 132 individuals using 560,000 SNPs concluded that the modern Indian population is a varying admixture of two divergent ancient populations, the Ancestral South Indians (60,000 ya) and the Ancestral North Indians (40,000 ya).[9][10]

The spread of Indo-Aryan languages has been connected with the spread of the chariot in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. Some scholars trace the Indo-aryans (both Indo-Aryans and European aryans) back to the Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BCE). Other scholars[11] have argued that the Andronovo culture proper formed too late to be associated with the Indo-Aryans of India, and that no actual traces of the Andronovo culture (e.g. warrior burials or timber-frame materials) have been found in India and Southern countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives[12]

Archaeologist J.P. Mallory (1998) finds it "extraordinarily difficult to make a case for expansions from this northern region to northern India" and remarks that the proposed migration routes "only [get] the Indo-Iranian to Central Asia, but not as far as the seats of the Medes, Persians or Indo-Aryans" (Mallory 1998; Bryant 2001: 216). Therefore he prefers to derive the Indo-Aryans from the intermediate stage of the BMAC culture, in terms of a "Kulturkugel" model of expansion. Likewise, Asko Parpola (1988) connects the Indo-Aryans to the BMAC. But although horses were known to the Indo-Aryans, evidence for their presence in the form of horse bones is missing in the BMAC.[13] Parpola (1988) has argued that the Dasas were the "carriers of the Bronze Age culture of Greater Iran" living in the BMAC and that the forts with circular walls destroyed by the Indo-Aryans were actually located in the BMAC. Parpola (1999)[14] elaborates the model and has "Proto-Rigvedic" Indo-Aryans intrude the BMAC around 1700 BCE. He assumes early Indo-Aryan presence in the Late Harappan horizon from about 1900 BCE, and "Proto-Rigvedic" (Proto-Dardic) intrusion to the Punjab as corresponding to the Swat culture from about 1700 BCE.

Antiquity

An influx of early Indo-Aryan speakers over the Hindukush (comparable to the Kushan expansion of the first centuries CE) together with Late Harappan cultures gave rise to the Vedic civilization of the Early Iron Age.[citation needed] This civilization is marked by a continual shift[citation needed] to the east, first to the Gangetic plain with the Kurus and Panchalas, and further east with the Kosala and Videha. This Iron Age expansion corresponds to the black and red ware and painted grey ware cultures.

For Hellenistic times, Oleg N. Trubachev (1999; elaborating on a hypothesis by Kretschmer 1944) suggests that there were Indo-Aryan speakers in the Pontic steppe. The Maeotes and the Sindes, the latter also known as "Indoi" and described by Hesychius as an "an Indian people".[15]

Middle Ages

The various Prakrit vernaculars developed into independent languages in the course of the Middle Ages (see Apabhramsha), forming the Abahatta group in the east and the Hindustani group in the west. The Romani people (also known as Gypsies) are believed to have left India around 1000 CE.

Contemporary Indo-Aryan peoples

Contemporary Indo-Aryans are spread over most of the northern, western, central and eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent, Hyderabad in southern India, and in most parts of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Non-native speakers of Indo-Aryan languages also reach the south of the peninsula. The largest groups are the Hindi, Bengali and Urdu. (Hindustani) or Hindi/Urdu speakers of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan number more than half a billion native speakers, constituting the largest community of speakers of any of the Indo-European languages. Of the 23 national languages of India, 16 are Indo-Aryan languages (see also languages of India).

Genetic studies

A study headed by geneticist S.Sharma et al.(2009), collated information for 2809 Indians (681 Brahmins, and 2128 Tribals and Scheduled Castes). The results showed "no consistent pattern of the exclusive presence and distribution of Y-haplogroups to distinguish the higher-most caste, Brahmins, from the lower-most ones, schedule castes and tribals". In its conclusions, the study proposed "the autochthonous origin and tribal links of Indian Brahmins" as well as the origin of R1a1* in the Indian subcontinent[16]

In a study led by Mukherjee et al.(2001), the R1a lineage was found to form around (35)–(45)% among all the castes in North Indian population, except the tribals.

An increasing number of studies have found South Asia to have the highest level of diversity of Y-STR haplotype variation within R1a1a. On this basis, while several studies have concluded that the data is at least consistent with South Asia as the likely original point of dispersal (for example, Kivisild et al. (2003), Mirabal et al. (2009) and Underhill et all. (2009)) a few have actively argued for this scenario (for example Sengupta et al. (2005), Sahoo et al. (2006), Sharma et al. (2009). A survey study as of December 2009, including a collation of retested Y-DNA from previous studies, makes a South Asian R1a1a origin the strongest proposal amongst the various possibilities.[17]

Contradicting these findings, however, a genetic study in Kerala state of India found that the upper caste Hindus were closer relatives to Eastern-Europeans than to Hindus from lower castes.[18]

A study conducted by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in 2009 (in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT) analyzed half a million genetic markers across the genomes of 132 individuals from 25 ethnic groups from 13 states in India across multiple caste groups.[19] The study asserts, based on the impossibility of identifying any genetic indicators across caste lines, that castes in South Asia grew out of traditional tribal organizations during the formation of Indian society and that the Indian population derives largely from two groups, with the "ancient north indian" group predating the advent of the Indo-Aryan languages. According to Kumarasamy Thangarajan, "The initial settlement took place 65,000 years ago in the Andamans and in ancient south India around the same time, which led to population growth in this part...At a later stage, 40,000 years ago, the ancient north Indians emerged which in turn led to rise in numbers here. But at some point of time, the ancient north and the ancient south mixed, giving birth to a different set of population"[20]. Thangarajan noted that it was impossible to distinguish between castes and tribes since their genetics proved they were not systematically different.


List of Indo-Aryana peoples

Historical

 

Contemporary

 

Notes

  1. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html#People
  2. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pk.html#People
  3. ^ https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bg.html#People
  4. ^ Mallory, J.P. (1989). In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 38f.. 
  5. ^ e.g. EIEC, s.v. "Indo-Iranian languages", p. 306.
  6. ^ Sahoo, Sanghamitra; Anamika Singh, G. Himabindu, Jheelam Banerjee, T. Sitalaximi, Sonali Gaikwad, R. Trivedi, Phillip Endicott, Toomas Kivisild, Mait Metspalu, Richard Villems and V. K. Kashyap (2006-01-24). "A prehistory of Indian Y chromosomes: Evaluating demic diffusion scenarios". Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of United States of America 103 (4): 843–848. doi:10.1073/pnas.0507714103. PMID 16415161. PMC 1347984. http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/103/4/843. 
  7. ^ Sengupta, S.; et al. (2006-02-01). "Polarity and temporality of high-resolution y-chromosome distributions in India identify both indigenous and exogenous expansions and reveal minor genetic influence of Central Asian pastoralists.". Am J Hum Genet. (The American Society of Human Genetics) 78 (2): 201–221. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=16400607. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  8. ^ Sharma, S.; Saha A, Rai E, Bhat A, Bamezai R. (2005). "Human mtDNA hypervariable regions, HVR I and II, hint at deep common maternal founder and subsequent maternal gene flow in Indian population groups.". J Hum Genet. 50 (10): 497–506. doi:10.1007/s10038-005-0284-2. PMID 16205836. 
  9. ^ Ancestral Populations Of India And Relationships To Modern Groups Revealed ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2009)Reich, David; Kumarasamy Thangaraj, Nick Patterson, Alkes L. Price, and Lalji Singh (24 September 2009). "Reconstructing Indian population history". Nature 461 (7263): 489–494. doi:10.1038/nature08365. PMID 19779445. PMC 2842210. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v461/n7263/abs/nature08365.html. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  10. ^ Aryan-Dravidian divide a myth: Study TNN, Sep 25, 2009, The Times of India
  11. ^ Brentjes (1981), Klejn (1974), Francfort (1989), Lyonnet (1993), Hiebert (1998) and Sarianidi (1993)
  12. ^ Edwin Bryant. 2001
  13. ^ e.g. Bernard Sergent. Genèse de l'Inde. 1997:161 ff.
  14. ^ Parpola, Asko (1999), "The formation of the Aryan branch of Indo-European", in Blench, Roger & Spriggs, Matthew, Archaeology and Language, vol. III: Artefacts, languages and texts, London and New York: Routledge.
  15. ^ Sindoi (or Sindi etc.) were also described by e.g. Herodotus, Strabo, Dionysius, Stephen Byzantine, Polienus. [1]
  16. ^ "The Indian origin of paternal haplogroup R1a1 substantiates the autochthonous origin of Brahmins and the caste system", S.Sharma et al.(2009)
  17. ^ Underhill et al. (2009)
  18. ^ Bamshad et al. Genetic Evidence on the Origins of Indian Caste Populations (2000)
  19. ^ Indians are one people descended from two tribes
  20. ^ Aryan-Dravidian divide a myth: Study, Times of India

References

  • Bryant, Edwin (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513777-9. 
  • Mallory, JP. 1998. "A European Perspective on Indo-Europeans in Asia". In The Bronze Age and Early Iron Age Peoples of Eastern and Central Asia. Ed. Mair. Washington DC: Institute for the Study of Man.
  • Trubachov, Oleg N., 1999: Indoarica, Nauka, Moscow.

See also

 

BMAC and Other Asian Cultures

http://www.penn.museum/documents/publications/expedition/PDFs/49-1/Research%20Notes.pdf

 

40 volume 49, number 1 expedition
In the early 1920s Sir John Marshall’s investigations of the ancient cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa (now located in Pakistan) resulted in the discovery of the Indus civilization
(2500–1900 BC). This was an astounding event for the Indian subcontinent, effectively pushing  the history of ancient India back to the 3rd millennium BC, long before the arrival of Alexander the Great in 326 BC. Marshall’s discovery also brought about important
insights into the interaction and trade between distant lands stretching from Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf, the Iranian Plateau, and Central Asia. This part of the world can be called “Middle Asia”—the region between the Indus River and the Mediterranean Sea bounded on the north by Central Asia and on the south by the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. During his excavations, Marshall recovered materials from across this region at both Early Bronze Age cities.
Similarly, during the 1920s and 30s, the full richness of the Mesopotamian and Elamite  civilizations was coming to light at such sites as Tell Asmar, Tell Agrab, Kish, Susa, and especially the Royal Tombs at Ur. These excavations in Mesopotamia also revealed materials such as seals, beads, and pottery from the Indus civilization. In fact, the famous cloak of beads from Queen Puabi’s Tomb at Ur is probably made up largely of Indian beads, particularly those of carnelian.Clearly, these distant peoples were contemporaries and known to one another—but how?
In the 1930s the British Assyriologist C. J. Gadd began to look at this interaction. In a famous paper entitled research notes TRADE AND CONTACT IN THE 3RD MILLENNIUM BC BY GREGORY L. POSSEHL Gregory L. Possehl The Middle Asian Interaction Sphere
These objects document long-distance contact in the MAIS: (a) an
impression of an Indus “unicorn” seal thought to come from Tell Umma;
(b) an Indus “unicorn” seal from Mohenjo-daro; (c) one of the seals published
by Gadd (now on display in the British Museum) showing an Indus
script and animal device on a Persian Gulf–style seal; and (d) the Indus
elephant seal from Gonur Depe (compiled from images supplied by
Maurizio Tosi, Gregory L. Possehl, and Viktor Sarianidi).
www.museum.upenn.edu/expedition 41
“Seals of Indian Style Found at Ur” he brought together a series of seals that he felt were foreign to Mesopotamia and had an Indian “look” to them. Although some of Gadd’s seals
do have glyptics with Indus writing and some are probably of Indian workmanship,others came not from India but from sites in the Persian Gulf—an area whose Bronze Age archaeology was virtually unknown at the time.

During the 1930s, archaeologists also identified Indian materials alongside Mesopotamian artifacts on the Iranian Plateau at sites such as Hissar,where they found Indian-etched
carnelian beads. This suggested that interesting things were going on in this vast region during the Bronze Age. But World War II brought archaeological fieldwork in the greater Near East and South Asia to a virtual halt, and the finds were still too thin on the ground for it all to be pieced together. After the war, A. Leo Oppenheim’s article, “Seafaring
Merchants of Ur,” brought attention to the substantial 3rd millennium BC maritime activities in the Persian Gulf and beyond. According to ancient cuneiform texts Mesopotamian venture capitalist merchants obtained exotic products such as
copper, other metals, wood, pearls, and even animals via maritime commerce. Mesopotamian religious cults and the burgeoning population of elite citizens consumed these items as
objects of ostentatious display.

The texts that Oppenheim reviewed contained many references to three lands beyond the “Lower Sea” or Persian Gulf—Dilmun, Magan, and Meluhha. When these lands appear
together in cuneiform literature they apparently are always in this order, or the reverse, strongly suggesting a spatial sequencing,as in a boast by Sargon the Great (2334–2279 BC) informing us that ships from Meluhha, Magan, and Dilmun docked in the harbor of his capital of Akkad. Dilmun was both a Persian Gulf trading center—today’s island nation of Bahrain and the nearby shore of Saudi Arabia—and a place of considerable cultural significance to
the Mesopotamians—the purported entrance to their Underworld.Magan, to the east of Dilmun, was a land of copper,today home to the Sultanate of Oman and probably some
or all of the United Arab Emirates. Even farther east, was the Indus civilization of the subcontinent—Meluhha—now in Pakistan and northwest India. Cuneiform documents also
inform us that some people in Mesopotamia called themselves “Son of Meluhha,” and there are references to Meluhhan villages and granaries.We even have the personal cylinder seal of
Shu-ilishu, a translator of the Meluhhan language (Expedition 48(1):42-43).

Around the same time that this trade and interaction was being identified along Middle Asia’s southern shores, Soviet Beads from Queen Puabi’s Tomb at Ur adorned her cloak.

Sites across Middle Asia have revealed BMAC, or BMAC-like, artifacts (adapted from figure 10.8 in Fredrik T. Hiebert. Origins of the Bronze Age Oasis Civilization in Central Asia. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, 1994).
The MAIS encompassed numerous cultural regions (inspired by a map by Maurizio Tosi).
Penn Museum (top), Gregory L. Possehl (maps)

Archaeologists began excavating on Middle Asia’s northern periphery at the southern edge of Central Asia. In the 1960s an interesting set of observations emerged from these excavations.

First, beginning in the 4th millennium BC, the people of southern Central Asia shared a pottery style called “Quetta Ware” with the people of Baluchistan far to the south. Along
with female figurines and occasional compartmented seals,this style of pottery persisted until the early centuries of the 2nd millennium BC, suggesting long-term interaction north
and south.

Second, at Altyn Depe in Turkmenistan, the Soviets found two provincial-style Indus seals, along with much ivory (presumably from elephants), which was also apparently from India. Their discoveries were all found in correct chronological sequence dating to the second half of the 3rd millennium BC,indicating that Altyn Depe was contemporary with the Indus
cities. Furthermore, this also provided evidence for Middle Asian interaction stretching north to the Oxus civilization which, in a second phase beginning at about 2200 BC, occupied inland river delta oases such as Margiana.We now refer to the material culture of this second phase in Central Asia as the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex, or BMAC.

During the 1980s, excavations in Margiana by the Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi at the city of Gonur Depe, uncovered the plan of a complex, well-defended settlement,
with rich graves and the entire range of BMAC artifacts. He also found one very fine Indus stamp seal with an elephant.Judging by its style, this seal was probably made in the Indus
region and brought or traded to Gonur. The site also has a great deal of ivory, and some artifacts have an Indus “look” to them, especially the gaming sticks or dice. Further evidence for trade or interaction between Margiana and Middle Asia can be seen in all the BMAC material found throughout the Greater Indus Valley, the Iranian Plateau, and even at sites on the southern shores of the Persian Gulf.

Since the 1960s excavations on the Iranian Plateau at such places as Tepe Yahya, Shahr-i Sokhta, Shahdad, and Jiroft have also added to the corpus of finds linking the Indus civilization with the BMAC and Mesopotamia. For example, the burial of a BMAC personage at Quetta  and the French excavations at Sibri, a BMAC settlement, indicate that BMAC peoples traveled in the Greater Indus Valley and even took up residence there. Further evidence has been identified by sifting through the reports and materials from old excavations from such
places as Bampur, Khurab, Khinaman, and Nishapur in Iran, and Kulli and Mehi in Pakistani Baluchistan.Now, more easily recognized, we see that each of these sites produced BMAC
materials that were missed when originally published.

By the end of the 20th century it had become quite apparent that this entire region had witnessed a period of new economic and political configurations during the 3rd millennium BC. To better understand this important phenomenon in world history and to bring it all together as a single dynamic, in 2002 I coined the term “Middle Asian Interaction Sphere” or MAIS in my book, The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Interaction spheres have a long and distinguished history in archaeology since the concept has been useful in dealing with the sorts of long-distance interactions that the peoples of Middle Asia seem to have enjoyed. But no two interaction spheres are the same; nor are they unchanging over protracted periods of time. Archaeologists therefore continue to document the shifting dynamics of this important set of international relationships, leading the way in systematically investigating and furthering our understanding of the MAIS.

Gregory l. Possehl is Professor of Anthropology at the
University of Pennsylvania and the Curator-in-Charge of the Museum’s Asian Section.

For Further Reading
Gadd, C. J. “Seals of Ancient Indian Style Found at Ur.” Proceedings
of the British Academy 18 (1932):191-210.
Oppenheim, A. Leo. “Seafaring Merchants of Ur.” Journal of the
American Oriental Society 74 (1954):6-17.
Possehl, Gregory L. “Meluhha.” In The Indian Ocean in Antiquity,
edited by Julian Reade, pp. 133-208. London: Kegan Paul International
in association with the British Museum, 1996.
Possehl, Gregory L. The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary
Perspective. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira, 2002.
Sarianidi, Viktor I. Margus: Ancient Oriental Kingdom in the Old
Delta of the Murghab River. Ashgabat, Turkmenistan:
Türkmendöwlethabarlary, 2002.
,
The site of Gonur Depe looks like a citadel from the air.
Viktor Sarianidi
42 volume 49, number 1 expedition

Greco-Bactrian Kingdom

 

 

 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/Greco-BactrianKingdomMap.jpg

The Han Dynasty explorer and ambassador Zhang Qian visited Bactria in 126 BC, and reported the presence of Chinese products in the Bactrian markets:

""When I was in Bactria (Daxia)", Zhang Qian reported, "I saw bamboo canes from Qiong and cloth made in the province of Shu (territories of southwestern China). When I asked the people how they had gotten such articles, they replied, "Our merchants go buy them in the markets of Shendu (India)."" (Shiji 123, Sima Qian, trans. Burton Watson).

Upon his return, Zhang Qian informed the Chinese emperor Han Wudi of the level of sophistication of the urban civilizations of Ferghana, Bactria and Parthia, who became interested in developing commercial relationship them:

"The Son of Heaven on hearing all this reasoned thus: Ferghana (Dayuan) and the possessions of Bactria (Daxia) and Parthia (Anxi) are large countries, full of rare things, with a population living in fixed abodes and given to occupations somewhat identical with those of the Chinese people, and placing great value on the rich produce of China" (Han Shu, Former Han History).

A number of Chinese envoys were then sent to Central Asia, triggering the development of the Silk Road from the end of the 2nd century BC.[17]

 

 "Thus philosophy, a thing of the highest utility, flourished in antiquity among the barbarians, shedding its light over the nations. And afterwards it came to Greece. First in its ranks were the prophets of the Egyptians; and the Chaldeans among the Assyrians; and the Druids among the Gauls; and the Sramanas among the Bactrians ("Σαρμαναίοι Βάκτρων"); and the philosophers of the Celts; and the Magi of the Persians, who foretold the Saviour's birth, and came into the land of Judea guided by a star. The Indian gymnosophists are also in the number, and the other barbarian philosophers. And of these there are two classes, some of them called Sramanas ("Σαρμάναι"), and others Brahmins ("Βραφμαναι")." Clement of Alexandria "The Stromata, or Miscellanies" Book I, Chapter XV [18].

The Greco-Bactrians were known for their high level of Hellenistic sophistication, and kept regular contact with both the Mediterranean and neighbouring India. They were on friendly terms with India and exchanged ambassadors.

Their cities, such as Ai-Khanoum in northeastern Afghanistan (probably Alexandria on the Oxus), and Bactra (modern Balkh) where Hellenistic remains have been found, demonstrate a sophisticated Hellenistic urban culture. This site gives a snapshot of Greco-Bactrian culture around 145 BC, as the city was burnt to the ground around that date during nomadic invasions and never re-settled. Ai-Khanoum "has all the hallmarks of a Hellenistic city, with a Greek theater, gymnasium and some Greek houses with colonnaded courtyards" (Boardman). Remains of Classical Corinthian columns were found in excavations of the site, as well as various sculptural fragments. In particular a huge foot fragment in excellent Hellenistic style was recovered, which is estimated to have belonged to a 5–6 meters tall statue.

One of the inscriptions in Greek found at Ai-Khanoum, the Herôon of Kineas, has been dated to 300–250 BCE, and describes Delphic precepts:

"As children, learn good manners.
As young men, learn to control the passions.
In middle age, be just.
In old age, give good advice.
Then die, without regret."

Some of the Greco-Bactrian coins, and those of their successors the Indo-Greeks, are considered the finest examples of Greek numismatic art with "a nice blend of realism and idealization", including the largest coins to be minted in the Hellenistic world: the largest gold coin was minted by Eucratides (reigned 171–145 BC), the largest silver coin by the Indo-Greek king Amyntas (reigned c. 95–90 BC). The portraits "show a degree of individuality never matched by the often bland depictions of their royal contemporaries further West" (Roger Ling, "Greece and the Hellenistic World").

Several other Greco-Bactrian cities have been further identified, as in SaksanokhurTajikistan (archaeological searches by a Soviet team under B.A. Litvinski), or in Dal'verzin Tepe. in southern

 

 

 

 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e5/Kushanmap.jpg/250px-Kushanmap.jpg

What is the term of Dasa?

Dasa

Dasa (Sanskrit: दस, IAST: dāsa) is a Sanskrit term. Under the primary meaning 'enemy' sometimes relates to tribes identified as the enemies of the Vedic tribes in the Rigveda. The word dāsa, later acquired other connotations, meaning 'servant', believed to mean that they were subordinated by the people practicing Vedic rituals.

The identity of the Dasa has caused much debate, closely tied to arguments over Indo-Aryan migration, the claim that the Indo-Aryan authors of the Rigveda entered India from outside, displacing its earlier inhabitants. Recent scholars, notably Asko Parpola, have claimed that they were fellow Indo-Iranians of the BMAC, who initially rejected Aryan religious practices but were later merged with them.

A similar term for enemy people, Dasyu, is also used in the Rig Veda. It is unclear whether the Dasa and Dasyu are related.

Guru, or Sat guru in various traditions of Hinduism is given the name Dasa, Servant of God, as for example the pure teacher, also called Uda ka Das, meaning the servant of the one God.[1] The other Sanskrit word meaning of servant, is retained in all Indian languages where monotheistic devotion to personal God is practiced. In Tamil tontai, dasa, servant or "slave," commonly used to refer to devotees of Vishnu or Krishna.[2] According to Gaudiya Vaishnava theology Smriti statement dāsa-bhūto harer eva nānyasvaiva kadācana means that living entities (bhuto) are eternally in the service (dasa) of the Supreme Lord (Hari).[3] Thus designation for Vaishnava followers of svayam bhagavan Krishna was the status title dasa as part of their names as in Hari dasa.[4]

Dasa, Dasyu and Arya

Dasyu is a term that could also be applied to Vedic kings, if their behaviour changed. In the battle of the Ten Kings (Dasarajna) in the Rig Veda the king SudasRV 7.6, 12-14, 18) calls his enemies "Dasyu" which included Vedic peoples like the Anus, Druhyus, Turvashas, and even Purus. (

There is also a Dasa Balbutha Taruksa in RV 6.45.31 who is a patron of a seer and who is distinguished by his generosity (RV 8.46.32). There are several hymns in the Rigveda that refer to Dasa and Aryan enemies [5] and to related (jami) and unrelated (ajami) enemies (e.g. 1.111.3, 4.4.5); still, in the battle of the ten kings, there are Dasas and Aryas on both sides of the battlefield and in some Rigvedic verses, the Aryas and Dasas stood united against their enemies.[6].

Etymology of Dasa and related terms

Dasa and related terms have been examined by several scholars.[7] While the terms Dasa and Dasyu have a negative meaning in Sanskrit, their Iranian counterparts Daha and Dahyu have preserved their positive (or neutral) meaning. This is similar to the Sanskrit terms Deva (a "positive" term) and Asura (a "negative" term). The Iranian counterparts of these terms (Daeva and Ahura) have opposite meanings.

Dasa

See also Dahae

The meaning of the word dāsa, which has been long preserved in the KhotaneseDahae (Daai), designating probably Iranian tribes. The term Daha occurs in a Persepolis inscription of Xerxes (h 26).[8] dialect, is "man". Two words that contain "dasa" are the Vedic names Divodās (meaning "divine man") and Sudās (meaning "good man"). Dasa is also in Iranian "Daha", known to Graeco-Roman authors as the

Daha also referred to a dasyu tribe in Margiana. Dahistan (east of the Caspian Sea/Gorgan) derives its name from this tribe [9]. The Greek historians Q. Curtius Rufus (8,3) and Ptolemy (Geography: 6,10,2) located the region of the Dahas on the river Margos (modern Murghab) or in Margiana (Parpola 1988). The Dahas are also mentioned by Pomponius Mela (3,42)[10] and Tacitus (Ann. 11,10)[11].

Strabo wrote about the Dahae the following:

"Most of the Scythians, beginning from the Caspian Sea, are called Dahae Scythae, and those situated more towards the east Massagetae and Sacae."
(Strabo, 11-8-1)

Strabo's description places Dahae nomads in the area around modern Turkmenistan. Tacitus, in the Annals , writes of the Parthian king Vardanes I that he subdued "the intermediate tribes as far as the river Sindes, which is the boundary between the Dahae and the Arians." [12]

Dasyu

Dasyus is in Iranian "dahyu" and means tribe, province and district. "Dah-" means "male, man" in Iranian. The "dahyu-pati" (also dahyunam) was the head of the tribe. The Greek "des-potes and the English "despot" correspond to this term (Windfuhr 1999). A "dahyu-sasti" (command of dahyus) is a confederation of two or more dahyus. [9]

Racial interpretations

In the Rig Veda, Dasa, Dasyu and similar terms (e.g. Pani) occur sometimes in conjunction with the terms krsna ("black") or asikni ("black"). This was often the basis for a "racial" interpretation of the Vedic texts. But Sanskrit is a language that uses many metaphors. The word cow for example can mean Mother Earth, sunshine, wealth, language, Aum etc. Words like "black" have similarly many different meanings in Sanskrit, as it is in fact the case in most languages. Thus "black" has many symbolical, mythological, psychological and other uses that are simply unrelated to human appearance.

Also Iyengar (1914) commented on such interpretations: "The only other trace of racial reference in the Vedic hymns is the occurrence of two words, one krishna in seven passages and the other asikini in two passages. In all the passages, the words have been interpreted as referring to black clouds, a demon whose name was Krishna, or the powers of darkness." (6-7, Iyengar, Srinivas. 1914.)

Sri Aurobindo [13] commented that in the RV III.34 hymn, where the word Arya varna occurs, Indra is described as the increaser of the thoughts of his followers: "the shining hue of these thoughts, sukram varnam asam, is evidently the same as that sukra or sveta Aryan hue which is mentioned in verse 9. Indra carries forward or increases the "colour" of these thoughts beyond the opposition of the Panis, pra varnam atiracchukram; in doing so he slays the Dasyus and protects or fosters and increases the Aryan "colour", hatvi dasyun pra aryam varnam avat."[14] Thus, Aurobindo sees the Arya varna or lustre of the thoughts that Indra increases as psychological. In several Lord Indra is also said to be a white bull with and his friends are the Maruts, who are horses so when the Rig Veda speaks of a certain color they mean the color of god as an animal. For example, the twin deities Nastya and Dasra are said to be "horse princes."[citation needed] In some Rig Vedic verses, even Lord Agni is said to be the red bull that stands out from the dark bulls.[1]

The term krsnavonih in RV 2.20.7 has been interpreted by Asko Parpola as meaning "which in their wombs hid the black people". Sethna (1992) writes, referring to a comment by Richard Hartz, that "there is no need to follow Parpola in assuming a further unexpressed word meaning "people" in the middle of the compound krsnayonih", and the better known translation by Griffith, i.e. "who dwelt in darkness" can be considered as essentially correct.[15] Another scholar, Hans Hock (1999), finds Karl Friedrich Geldner's translation of krsnayonih (RV 2.20.7) as "Blacks in their wombs" and of krsnagarbha (RV 1.101.1) as "pregnant with the Blacks" "quite recherché" and thinks that it could refer to the "dark world" of the Dasas.

In RV 4.16.13, Geldner has assumed that "krsna" refers to "sahasra" (thousands). But this would be grammatically incorrect. If krsna would refer to "sahasra", it should be written as krsnan (acc. pl. masc.). Hans Hock (1999) suggests that "krsna" refers to "puro" (forts) in this verse.

Tvac

There are three instances in the Rig Veda where the phrase krsna (or ashikni) tvac occurs, literally translating to "black (or swarthy) skin":

1.130.8de mánave śâsad avratân tvácaṃ kṛṣṇâm arandhayat
— "Plaguing the lawless he [Indra] gave up to Manu's seed the dusky skin" (trans. Griffith)
9.41.1 prá yé gâvo ná bhûrṇayas / tveṣâ ayâso ákramuḥ / ghnántaḥ kṛṣṇâm ápa tvácam[16]
— "(Praising the Soma-juices) which descend like streams of water, swift, brilliant, rapid driving off the black covered (Rakshasa who are darkness)"[17]
9.73.5cd índradviṣṭām ápa dhamanti māyáyā tvácam ásiknīm bhûmano divás pári[18]
— "Blowing away with supernatural might from earth and from the heavens the swarthy skin which Indra hates." (trans. Griffith)

Tvac "skin" does, however, also take a secondary, more general meaning of "surface, cover" in the Rigveda, in particular referring to the Earth's surface. For this reason, there can be debate on whether instances of krsna tvac should be taken to refer literally to a "black skinned people". Maria Schetelich (1990) considers it a symbolic expression for darkness. Similarly, Michael Witzel (1995b) writes about terms like krsna tvac that "while it would be easy to assume reference to skin colour, this would go against the spirit of the hymns: for Vedic poets, blackHans Hock argues along similar lines [19] always signifies evil, and any other meaning would be secondary in these contexts".

The Rigvedic commentator Sayana explains the word tvacam krsna (RV 1.130.8) as referring to an asura (demon) called Krsna whose skin was torn apart by Indra.

Anasa

In RV 5.29.10, the word anasa is in connection with the Dasyus. Some scholars have translated anasa as "noseless". But the classical commentator Sayana translated anasa as "without mouth or face" (anas = an "negative" + as "mouth"). Sayana's translation is supported by the occurrence of the word mrdhravacah in the same verse. Sayana explains the word mrdhravacah as "having defective organs of speech" (Rg Veda 1854-57:3.276 n.). The description of Dasas as "nose-less" and "mouth-less" is method of associating the demonic Dasa as disfigured beings, who are covered by ignorance (black).

The religion of the Dasas/Dasyus

A Dasyu is a member of an aboriginal people in India encountered and embattled by the invading Aryans (c. 1500 bc). They were described by the Aryans as a dark-skinned[citation needed], harsh-spoken people who worshiped the phallus. This allusion has persuaded many scholars that worship of the linga, the Hindu religious symbol, originated with them; it may, however, have referred to their sexual practices. They lived in fortified places from which they sent out armies. They may be considered the original Sudras, or labourers, who served the three higher classes of Brahman, Kshatriya (warrior), and Vaishya (mercantile), from whose ritual communion they were excluded.

The main difference between the Aryas and the Dasas in the Rig Veda is a difference of religion.[20] Already A. A. Macdonell and A. B. Keith (1912) remarked that: "The great difference between the Dasyus and the Aryans was their religion... It is significant that constant reference is made to difference in religion between Aryans and Dasa and Dasyu." The Dasas and Dasyus are also described as brahma-dvisah in the Rig Veda [21], which Ralph T.H. Griffith translates as "those who hate devotion" or "prayer haters". Thus Dasa has also been interpreted as meaning the people that don't follow the same religion as the Aryans. Rig Veda 10.22.8 describes the Dasa-Dasyus as a-karman (non-performers of Aryan sacrifices), anya-vrata (observers of other rites) and in Rig Veda 10.105.8 they are described as anrc (non-singer of laudatory hymns). In RV 8.70.11 they are described as a-deva-yu (not regarding Deva ).[22]

Devas and Devis versus Asuras

This divide goes back to the composition of the Rig Veda. Both the religions believe in the holiness of the Veda except that the Zarathustrians believe in certain sections of the Rig Veda[citation needed]. When the Rig Veda was being written, there occurred a divide among the Brahmanas writing it. The Brahmanas of the PauravasAditi was the good mother of the gods while the Irani or Dasa Brahmanas believed that Diti was. The Pauravas' chief god was IndraVaruna as the leader of the gods. The Irani believed that Varuna was still the chief of the gods. In the Irani pantheon, Indra was given the status of a demon while they worshipped an Indra-like character who accepts the law of Varuna known as Indar. From this originated the DasarajnaVishvamitra fought against the Indian King Sudas. (Indians) or Parthas believed that and said that he has overtaken war in which the ten kingdoms of the Irani, represented by the Brahmana

From then on, the Indians referred to the Asuras as the demons while Devas and Devis were the gods and the Irani, viceversa. When Zarathustrianism was established, Varuna, who Zarathustra referred to as the Ahura Mazda (Rigvedic Assur Mehda or Assur Mahad), was God Almighty while all other spirits were given the status of angels.

Devas (Males) and Devis (Females) were noble or Godly people among Dasyu people. Dasa were Iranic with no doubt as the Rig Veda mentions, that the Dasa, along with the Dasyu and Panis live beyond the Rasa River.[23] That the river was a division between the "Devas" and the "Asuras" is also acknowledged in the Vedas.[24] Scholars such as Tilak [25] have connected "Rasa" to the Avestan "Rangha", which is supposed to have been near the Hapta Hindu.[26]

As a surname or byname

The present day usage of Dasa in Hinduism has respectful connotation and not derogatory. It always means 'slave of god'. In the past, many saints from all castes added it in their names signifying their total devotion to god. An example is Mohandas Gandhi. Another example is Surdas, the blind Brahmin poet. 'Das' is one of the common surnames of Brahmins, especially in East India. '. As any other proper word to translate the word "slave" is absent in Sanskritized Hindi, the word Dāsa is used for the same. Further more in the bhakti yoga a person can be in a relationship with God in any of the 5 ways and one of the relationships is Dasyu-bhakta, meaning being a "slave of God" as said before. All initiated male members of ISKCON have the word "dasa" at the end of their initiated names, meaning "servant", and all initiated female members of ISKCON have the words "devi dasi", which means "goddess servantess" (dasi is the feminine form of das) Example: Urmila devi dasi. Then the first part of their names is a name for something connected with divinity: often a name of Radha Krishna or Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

In Hindu revivalism

Hindu revivalist authors like Sri Aurobindo believe that words like Dasa are used in the Rig Veda symbolically and should be interpreted spiritually, and that Dasa does not refer to human beings, but rather to demons who hinder the spiritual attainment of the mystic. Many Dasas are purely mythical and can only refer to demons. There is for example a Dasa called Urana with 99 arms (RV II.14.4), and a Dasa with six eyes and three heads in the Rig Veda.[27]

According to Aurobindo (The Secret of the Veda), RV 5.14.4 is a key for understanding the character of the Dasyus:

Agni born shone out slaying the Dasyus, the darkness by the light, he found the Cows, the Waters, Swar. (transl. Aurobindo)[28][29]

Aurobindo explains that in this verse the struggle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, divine and undivine is described.[28] It is through the shining light created by Agni, god of fire, that the Dasyus, who are identified with the darkness, are slain. The Dasyus are also described in the Rig Veda as intercepting and withholding the Cows, the Waters and Swar ("heavenly world"; RV 5.34.9; 8.68.9). It is not difficult, of course, to find very similar metaphors, equating political or military opponents with evil and darkness, even in contemporary propaganda.

K.D. Sethna (1992) writes: "According to Aurobindo,(...) there are passages in which the spiritual interpretation of the Dasas, Dasyus and Panis is the sole one possible and all others are completely excluded. There are no passages in which we lack a choice either between this interpretation and a nature-poetry or between this interpretation and the reading of human enemies." And according to Koenraad Elst: "When it is said that Agni, the fire, “puts the dark demons to flight”, one should keep in mind that the darkness was thought to be filled with ghosts or ghouls, so that making light frees the atmosphere of their presence. And when Usha, the dawn, is said to chase the "dark skin" or "the black monster" away, it obviously refers to the cover of nightly darkness over the surface of the earth." [30]

References

  1. ^ Essays And Lectures On The Religions Of The Hindus: Religious Sects of the Hindus V1. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. 2006. pp. 353. ISBN 1-4286-1308-0. 
  2. ^ Steven P. Hopkins (2007). An ornament for jewels: love poems for the Lord of Gods. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 160. ISBN 0-19-532639-3. 
  3. ^ Bhaktivedanta Swami, A. C. (1972). The Bhagavad-gita As It Is, second edition. New York: Macmillan.
  4. ^ Talbot, Cynthia (2001). Precolonial India in practice: society, region, and identity in medieval Andhra. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 81. ISBN 0-19-513661-6. 
  5. ^ (e.g. 6.22.10, 6.33.3, 6.60.6), Ambedkar 1946, Who were the Shudras
  6. ^ RV 6.33.3, 7.83.1, 8.51.9, 10.102.3; Ambedkar, 1946, Who were the Shudras
  7. ^ e.g., Asko Parpola (1988), Mayrhofer (1986-1996), Benveniste (1973), Lecoq (1990), Windfuhr (1999)
  8. ^ Parpola 1988:220-21
  9. ^ a b (G.L. Windfuhr in Bronkhorst & Desphande (ed.) 1999)
  10. ^ He places them near the Oxus. Parpola 1988
  11. ^ He places them on the northern border of Areia, at the Sindes (Tejend) River. Parpola 1988
  12. ^ Tacitus (109 CE), Book XI.
  13. ^ Sethna 1992:114 and 340, Aurobindo, The Secret of the Veda, p. 220-21
  14. ^ Sethna 1992:114 and 340
  15. ^ Sethna 1992:337-338
  16. ^ note the sāhvâṃso dásyum avratám "vanquishing the rite less Dasyu" in the following verse.
  17. ^ Sri Vaishnava
  18. ^ again note the context of saṃdáhantaḥ avratân "burning up riteless men" in pada b.
  19. ^ Hock (1999). Hock also remarked that in RV 1.65.8, a similar metaphor is used. In this verse, "roma prthivyah" refers to the "body-hair of the earth", i.e. to the plants.
  20. ^ R. C. Majumdar and A. D. Pusalker (editors): The history and culture of the Indian people. Volume I, The Vedic age. Bombay : Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan 1951, p.253. Keith and Macdonell 1922.
  21. ^ (e.g. RV 5.42.9; 8.45.23; 10.36.9; 10.160.4; 10.182.3)
  22. ^ e.g. Sethna 1992, Elst 1999, Ambedkar 1946 Who were the Shudras
  23. ^ Khuhro, Hamida, P. 66 Sind Through the Centuries, 1981.
  24. ^ P. 3 The Sacred Books of the East By Friedrich Max Müller
  25. ^ Tilak, Bal Gangadhar, P. 364 The Arctic Home in the Vedas
  26. ^ P. 85 Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization By Dr. David Frawley
  27. ^ Parpola 1988, Sethna 1992:329
  28. ^ a b Sethna 1992:114-115 and 348-349
  29. ^ Which is translated by Griffith thus: Agni shone bright when born, with light killing the Dasyus and the dark He found the Kine, the Floods, the Sun. (trans. Griffith)
  30. ^ Elst 1999; Cf. Sir Monier-Williams: A Sanskrit-English Dictionary, entry tvac, Reference is to Rgveda 1:92:5 and 4:51:9.

Further reading

  • Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha Anantha Natha and Shri Ma Kristina Baird for the correct, nonracial meaning of the terms Dasyus and Asuras in their work "Divine Initiation" (ISBN 0-9582324-0-7) by Shri Kali Publications
  • Ambedkar, B.R. (1946) Who were the Shudras?
  • Aurobindo, Sri. 1971. The Secret of the Veda. Pondicherry: Shri Aurobindo Ashram.
  • Bryant, Edwin: The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. 2001. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513777-9
  • J. Bronkhorst and M.M. Deshpande. 1999. Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Elst, Koenraad Update on the Aryan Invasion Debate. 1999. ISBN 81-86471-77-4 [2], [3]
  • Frawley, David The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India, 1995. New Delhi: Voice of India; In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, Chapter 6
  • Hock, Hans. 1999b, Through a Glass Darkly: Modern "Racial" Interpretations vs. Textual and General Prehistoric Evidence on Arya and Dasa/Dasyu in Vedic Indo-Aryan Society." in Aryan and Non-Aryan in South Asia.
  • Iyengar, Srinivas. 1914. "Did the Dravidians of India Obtain Their Culture from Aran Immigrant [sic]." Anthropos 1-15.
  • Macdonell, A.A. and Keith, A.B. 1912. The Vedic Index of Names and Subjects.
  • Parpola, Asko: 1988, The Coming of the Aryans to Iran and India and the Cultural and Ethnic Identity of the Dasas; The problem of the Aryans and the Soma.
  • Rg Veda 1854-57. Rig-Veda Samhita. tr. H.H. Wilson. London: H.Allen and Co.
  • Schetelich, Maria. 1990, "The problem ot the "Dark Skin" (Krsna Tvac) in the Rgveda." Visva Bharati Annals 3:244-249.
  • Sethna, K.D. 1992. The Problem of Aryan Origins. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • Talageri, Shrikant G. 2000. The Rig Veda - A historical analysis. [4]
  • Trautmann, Thomas R. 1997, Aryans and British India. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Witzel, Michael. 1995b, 325, fn, "Rgvedic History" in The Indo-Aryans of South Asia.

See also

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