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Dr. Ambedkar on AIT

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The Original Home of the Hindus (Interview of Dr Ambedkar)



Publication: Organiser

January 23, 1994


(The Father of the Indian Constitution, Dr B. R. Ambedkar, was the foremost nationalist leader of the oppressed classes and an erudite scholar. The following is an account of the en lightening dialogue the author had with him. Though the author himself does not agree with all of Sri Ambedkar?s conclusions, the dialogue is significant for the fact of Sri Ambedkar?s total rejection of the theory of Aryan invasion as ?a perversion of scientific investigation?.)


Question: Do you believe that the Shudras were a non-Aryan aboriginal race?

Dr. Ambedkar: No. After deep study of the subject I have come to conclude:


i) That, the Shudras were Aryans;


ii) That the Shudras belonged to the Kshatriya Class; and


iii) That the Shudras were so important a class of Kshatriyas that some of the most eminent and powerful kings of the ancient Aryan Communities were Shudras.


Western Theories


Q: I know you are well acquainted with the various theories of Western writers about the origin of the non-Traivarnikas whom they describe as ?Non-Aryans?. Are there any points on which there seems to be a certain amount of unity among all of them?

A: Yes. Such points comprise the following:


1) The people who created the Vedic literature belonged to the Aryan race.


2) This Aryan race came from outside India and invaded India.


3) The natives of India were known as Dasas and Dasyus who were racially different from Aryans.


4) The Aryans were a white race. The Dasas and Dasyus were a dark race.


5) The Aryans conquered the Dasas and Dasyus.


6) The Dasas and Dasyus after they were conquered and enslaved were called Shudras.


7) The Aryans cherished colour prejudice and therefore formed the chaturvarnya whereby they separated the white race from the black race such as the Dasas and the Dasyus.


Q: What is the basis for these Western Theories?

A: The foundation on which the whole fabric of the theory rests is the proposition that there lived a people who were Aryan by race.


Q: Is this proposition correct?

A: The Vedas do not know any such race as the Aryan race. A race may be defined as a body of people possessing certain typical traits which are hereditary.


An examination of the Vedic literature shows that there occur two words in the Rig Veda-one is Arya with a short A and the other is Arya with a long A.


The word Arya with a short A is used in the Rig Veda in 88 places. The word is used in four different senses; as (1) enemy, (2) respectable person, (3) name for India and (4) owner, Vaishya or citizen.


The word Arya with a long A is used in the Rig Veda in 31 places. But in none of these is the word used in the sense of race.


The one indisputable conclusion which follows is that the terms Arya and Arya which occur in the Vedas have not been used in the racial sense at call.


This is what Prof. Max Mueller says on the subject: ?There is no Aryan race in blood?, Aryan, in scientific language, is utterly inapplicable to race.?


The Aryan Race Theory is so absurd that it ought to have been dead long ago.


Q: From where did the so-called ?Aryan race? come into India? What was the original home of the ?Aryan race?? Is the theory of Aryan invasion of India a historical fact?

A: There is no evidence in the Vedas of any invasion of India by the Aryan race and its having conquered the Dasas and Dasyus supposed to be natives of India. There is no evidence to show that the distinction between Aryans, Dasas and Dasyus was a racial distinction. The Vedas do not support the contention that the Aryans were different in colour from the Dasas and Dasyus. The word ?Varna? originally meant a class holding to a particular faith, and it had nothing to do with colour or complexion.


The Vedic Aryans had no colour prejudice. They were not of one colour. Rama, Krishna, Dirghatamas, Kanva etc. have been described as dark in complexion.


The assertion that the Aryans came from outside and invaded India is not proved and the premise that the Dasas and Dasyus are aboriginal tribes of India is demonstrably false.


Invasion theory a concoction


The theory of invasion is an invention. This invention is necessary because of a gratuitous assumption that the Indo-Germanic people are the purest of the modern representatives of the original Aryan race. The theory is based upon nothing but pleasing assumptions and inferences based on such assumptions. The theory is a perversion of scientific investigation. It is not allowed to evolve out of facts. On the contrary, the theory is preconceived and facts are selected to prove it. It falls to the ground at every point. The Western theory is in conflict with the Rig Veda on a major issue. The Rig Veda being the best evidence on the subject, the theory which is in conflict with it must be rejected. There is no escape.


Q: Are there any Hindu scholars who supported this Western theory?

A: This theory has received support from some Brahmin scholars. This is a very strange phenomenon. As Hindus, they should ordinarily show a dislike for the Aryan theory with its express avowal of the superiority of the European races over the Asiatic races. But the Brahmin scholar has not only no such aversion but he most willingly hails it. He claims to be the representative of the Aryan race and he regards the rest of the Hindus as descendants of the non-Aryans.


Q: What is your opinion about the suggestion of Lokamanya Tilak that the original home of the Aryan race was in the Arctic region?

A: This is of course a very original theory. There is only one point which seems to have been over-looked. The horse is a favourite animal of the Vedic Aryans. It was most intimately connected with their life and their religion. The question is: Was the horse to be found in the Arctic region? If the answer is in the negative, the Arctic Home theory becomes very precarious,


So far as the testimony of the Vedic literature is concerned, it is against the theory that the original horde of the Aryans was outside India.


The language in which reference to the seven rivers is made in the Rig Veda (x. 75.5) is very significant. No foreigner would ever address a river in such familiar and endearing terms as ?My Ganga, my Yamuna, my Sarasvati?, unless by long association he had developed an emotion about it. In the face of such statements from the Rig-Veda, there is obviously no room for a theory of a military conquest by the Aryan race of the non-Aryan races of Dasas and Dasyus.


As Mr. P.T. Srinivasa Iyengar points out:


?A careful examination of the Mantras where the words Arya, Dasas and Dasyus occur, indicates that they refer not to race but to cult. These words occur mostly in Rig Veda Samhita where Arya occurs about 33 times in mantras which contain 153,972 words on the whole. This rare occurrence is itself a proof that the tribes that called themselves Aryas were not invaders that conquered the country and exterminated the people. For an invading tribe would naturally boast of its achievements constantly.?


The Fourth Varna


Q: If the theories of European scholars are incorrect, how can one explain the emergence of the Fourth Varna suffering from a number of social disabilities and degradations?

A: The whole position can be stated briefly as follows:


1) The Shudras were one of the Aryan Communities of the Solar race.


2) The Shudras ranked as the Kshatriya Varna in the Indo-Aryan Society.


3) There was a time when the Aryan Society recognised only three Varnas, namely, Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. The Shudras were not a separate Varna but a part of the Kshatriya Varna.


4) There was a continuous feud between the Shudra Kings and the Brahmins, in which the Brahmins were subjected to many tyrannies and indignities.


5) As a result of the hatred towards the Shudras due to their tyrannies and oppressions, the Brahmins refused to invest the Shudras with the Sacred Thread.


6) Owing to the loss of the Sacred Thread the Shudras became socially degraded, fell below the rank of the Vaishyas and came to form the Fourth Varna.


Q: What about the origin of the Fifth Varna known as untouchables?

A: In Vedic times there was no untouchability. As to the period of the Dharma Sutras, there was ?Impurity? but there was no untouchability.


Manu?s decision is that there is no Fifth Varna. There was no untouchability at the time of Manu. We can definitely say that Manu Smriti did not enjoin untouchability.


While untouchability did not exist in 200 A.D., it had emerged by 600 A.D. As has been shown by Dr D.R. Bhandarkar, cow-killing was made a capital offence by the Gupta kings sometime in the 4th Century A.D. We can, therefore say with some confidence that untouchability was born sometimes about 400 A.D.


Q: Can the hatred between Buddhism and Brahminism he taken to be the sole cause why ?Broken Men?* became untouchables?

A: Obviously, it cannot be? The propaganda of the Brahmins was directed against Buddhists in general and not against the ?Broken Men?* in particular. Since untouchability struck to ?Broken Men? only, it is obvious that there was some additional circumstance which has played its part in fastening untouchability upon them.


Q: Can we say that the ?Broken Men?* came to he treated as untouchables because they ate beef?

A: There need be no hesitation in returning an affirmative answer to this question. No other answer is consistent with facts as we know them.


Q: Do the untouchables, belong to a separate, non-Aryan race?

A: As I said earlier, historians have made a mistake in proceeding on assumption that the Aryans were a separate race. In this connection, reference may be made to verse 23 of Adhyaya 65 of the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata. The verse says: ?In all the Varnas and in all the Ashramas one finds the existence of Dasyus.? This indicates that the term ?Dasyus? is not used for a non-Aryan.


If anthropometry is a science which can be depended upon to determine the race of a people, then the results obtained by the application of anthropometry to the various strata of Hindu society disprove that the untouchables belong to a race different from the Aryans and the Dravidians. The measurements establish that the Brahmins and untouchables belong to the same race. If the Brahmins are Aryans, the untouchables are also Aryans. If the Brahmins are Dravidians, the untouchables are also Dravidians. The racial theory of untouchability finds very little support from such facts as we know about the ethnology of India. Racial theory of the origin of untouchability must therefore be abandoned -23-7-1962.


(The Perspective by D.B. Thengadi, Sahitya. Sindhu Prakashan)


* In a fight between two tribes, the surviving men of the vanquished tribe found it difficult to retain their identity because of their reduced numerical strength. They, therefore, used to approach the settled agricultural communities and enter into agreement with them. These were termed as ?Broken men?.

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