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A battle about history

A battle about history
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First Published: Thu, May 22 2008. 11 57 PM IST
Updated: Thu, May 22 2008. 11 57 PM IST
When exactly did India’s most famous battle — Kurukshetra — take place? My search uncovered some intriguing details. Historians disagree on the date. It ranges from around 3200 BC to 700 BC — a period of 2,500 years! Curiously, historians unanimously agree that Kurukshetra did not take place between 2500 BC and 1500 BC. This is the period when the Indus Valley civilization “collapsed”.
History reveals that around 2000-1800 BC, all along the Euro-Asian west-east axis, a horde of invaders, from above the 50N latitudes called the horse-people, pushed down. Every civilization — China, India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Greece — was overcome as they had the most powerful weapon known then — the horse chariot. Who were the invaders and who were the displaced?
Think why no one wants to place the Kurukshetra battle in that gap of 1,000 years. It would tantamount to admitting that the Pandavas and/or the Kauravas were the “invaders” or “outsiders” — the Aryans who displaced the then flourishing Indus Valley civilization and pushed it south to become the Dravidian culture. This aspect has assumed political overtones and, hence, the denials and silence over it.
Here’s what happened. There was an Indus Valley civilization which belonged to the Vedic culture. The Aryans, the horse-chariot people, displaced and pushed it south. The horse-people with no culture of their own adapted the Vedic culture and the Vedic Indus Valley civilization had a second innings.
Both the epics, Ramayan and Mahabharat, talk of battles involving horses and chariots. There is no evidence of any horse in present-day India and Pakistan till 2000-1800 BC. The horse came carrying the invaders from the northern latitudes. Next, take a globe. Put your thumb at the point where the 55 degrees east longitude and 55 degrees north latitude intersect. This will be just south of the Urals, above the mid-point between the Caspian and Aral Seas, north of Kazakhstan. With your thumb as the fulcrum and your little finger on Gujarat, draw an arc. It will end in Spain. This entire swathe of land shares the Indo-European group of languages. Of course, there are exceptions — Arabic, Basque, Turkish, etc.
But the most startling exception lies in the Kalat region of Baluchistan, Pakistan, and its border with Afghanistan. Nestled there today are more than two million people who speak Brahui, a Dravidian group language! But they did not “get” there. They were already there and became the typical “pocket” when invasions swept the majority away. That’s why Tamil is the oldest of all present Indian languages and Tamilians were perhaps the first Sindhis! After all they drank jhalam (Tamil for water) from the river that has this name. Will someone explain this paradox — if the Indus Valley civilization is the oldest in India, how is Tamil the oldest language? Unless the Dravidian civilization predates the Indus Valley.
Look below the 55E-55N point and at the routes by which you can reach the extremities of your arc. Every point can be reached by continuing along rivers or shores of lakes, i.e., the invasion-cum-migration had the most important resource necessary to travel such vast distances — water. The most famous rivers in Central Asia are the Syr Darya and Amu Darya! The “oldest” DNA found in an Indian was in Tamil Nadu, near Madurai. How about a DNA survey of those in north/north-west India, the present inhabitants of the steppes and those living between 25 degrees and 45 degrees north latitudes in West Asia and Europe?
The biggest give-away is the “18-day” war. Military historians will tell you man’s ability to sustain a battle proper (sieges are not battles) for more than a day came only when railways made logistics feasible. Waterloo (AD 1815), probably the last big battle before railways, took just one day. The “day” in the Kurukshetra battle is evidently metaphorical. For, it was oral history. It was more likely to have been 18 months or even 18 years — just the time needed for a migration-cum-invasion to displace a culture and a civilization 3,500 years ago.
If the Mahabharat involved the horse-people, then what about the more antiquated Ramayan, which talks not only of horses, but also the famed Asvamedha yagna? Was Ram a Cossack, the most famed of all horse-people? Doesn’t “Valmiki” sound Russian, perhaps a corruption of Vladmikhailovich, who lived in the present Russian town named Sverdlovsk, formerly perhaps Swargalok? If we don’t accept the invasion theory, then the only other explanation is that both Mahabharat and Ramayan took place outside India, on the Russian steppes, and their stories have come down to us as oral histories through the horse-people, which were then refined to suit cultural and later ethnic, social and political agendas.
T.R. Ramaswami is a former commercial and investment banker. Comments are welcome at otherviews@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, May 22 2008. 11 57 PM IST