Aryan invasion debunked

Genetic study shows South Asians have a diverse ancestry

By Dinsa Sachan
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

IT WAS German linguist Max Muller who in the 19th century proposed that 3,000-4,000 years ago an Indo-European (the Aryans) tribe invaded the subcontinent and brought along with it the caste system. The Aryans purportedly displaced the indigenous Dravidians, pushing them down South.

The theory has been debated for long with some anthropologists, geneticists and historians claiming that such an event never took place.

“Archaeology rejected the theory of Aryan invasion a few decades ago, as we did not find any evidence. The Aryans are completely invisible on the ground,” says reputed Indologist Michel Danino. It is only linguistics that keeps insisting on the theory, he adds.

Now an international population genetics study, involving Indian researchers from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, has dealt another blow to Muller’s ideas.

“We are the first ones to demonstrate that South Asians originated from basically two groups of ancestors—one group Western Asians, Middle East, Near East and Caucasians, while the rest can trace their history to a group more restricted to South Asia,” says Kumarasamy Thangaraj, senior research scientist at CCMB and co- author of the study.


The team also found that more than 50 per cent of the South Asians had Indian ancestors.

For the study, the scientists analysed around 600,000 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers—landmarks for genes—from 142 samples of 30 ethnic groups in India, and compared them with SNP markers of other populations like Europeans genotyped by other worldwide projects.

But the discovery raises a question. If the theory of Aryan invasion is incorrect, why is there a similarity between West Asian and Indian genetic composition? “Our analysis suggests that these West Asian genetic components are much older than the purported Aryan invasion,” says Thangaraj.

The study was published in the December issue of American Journal of Human Genetics.

The study also found variations of genes MSTN and DOK5—responsible for lipid metabolism and etiology of type 2 diabetes—are more frequent in Indians than in other populations. “This explains why Indians are more susceptibile to the disease,” notes Thangaraj.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

  • good that the controversial

    good that the controversial theory of Aryan , Dravidian has been disproved. Had been reading a lot on this topic for over a decade. Historians can wreck facts. Max muller was wrong.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • Its interesting to show the

    Its interesting to show the ancestral history on the basis of genetic study.Max muller had a pre-occuepied colonial view and he used this theory to substantiate aryan invasion over indians in future.this scientific study by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, has revealed the european hollowness to break our ethnic basis and politics of superior-inferior invansion concept.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • Indian subcontinent, in fact,

    Indian subcontinent, in fact, was a congenial for living with abundant natural resources and cosy climate. The region was repeatedly visited by various races and sects who amalgamated with the locals. Maximum admixture of races is found in this part of the globe; with a wide variation in features, the skin colour ranging from fairest of the fair skin to darkest of the dark, similarly colour of eyes, nature of hair, stature and physique.

    In the sediments belonging to the ÔÇÿSiwalikÔÇÖ Group in the northern part of India, at the foothills of the Himalaya, many hominid fossils have been found. Some of the significant find are that of Sivapithecus, Sugrivapithecus (Lower Siwalik; ~15-10 million years ago), Krishnapitecus, Ramapithecus (Middle Siwalik; ~10-5 million years ago) and Gigantopithecus (Upper Siwalik; ~5-1.5 million years ago). According to some, the occurrence of some apes and Ramapithecus in particular indicate that the Siwalik of India formed the radiative centre of evolution of apes and man. Ramapithecus was a tool user and fashioned stone implements! [Source: Geology of India and Burma by MS Krishnan, 1968, fifth ed., Higginbothams; and Geology of India by R Vaidyanathan and M Ramakrishnan, 2008, Gol. Soc. Ind., Bangalore].

    Possibly what is described as ÔÇÿDravidianÔÇÖ race one of the races evolved in India. Subsequently races from other regions migrated to India because of favourable climate during the ÔÇÿIce AgesÔÇÖ.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 8 years ago | Reply
  • We must understand that who

    We must understand that who are so called Aryans ? They are the people who used to speak "Sanskrit" , so therefore, the people who can speak this language can be none other than Indians , where even today an illiterate Indian can speak few verse of Sanskrit shloka of Geeta .

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply
  • Even the linguistic theory

    Even the linguistic theory which is said to be supporting the invasion is baseless. Some linguists wondered at the similarity of languages over the world and uttered some exclamatory statements. Waiting for it was the politico-religio-historians to propagate that theory for their political ideology.
    The entire argument is based on the seeming superficial similarity between Sanskrit and some european language (human voice producing mechanism being similar throughout the world there has to be some similarity). They also base the argument on the similarity they could not(!) see between south indian languages (especially Tamil) and Sanskrit. Nobody verified the proficiency of these historians in the respective languages they were referring to. There were research publications and books wriiten on the surprising similarity between tamil and sanskrit which were all suppressed. Reason: those who ruled the academics were Marxists and evangelists who wanted to divide indian society. Anyone interested to know about stronly rooted link between sanskrit and tamil may send a mail to me..It can only be explained to people who understand Tamil AND Sanskrit or Tamil AND

    Posted by: Anonymous | 7 years ago | Reply