Indo-Aryans in the Ganges Valley - History of the East

7.2. Indo-Aryans in the Ganges Valley

Consolidated at the turn of the III-II millennium BC. somewhere in the region of the Black Sea and the Caspian (perhaps also in Asia Minor and Transcaucasia) Indo-European tribes from the beginning of the II millennium BC. because of the reasons that are not completely clear so far, they began to migrate vigorously in different directions. One of the first flows of migrants was the Hittites settled in Asia Minor, which were associated with the domestication of horses (perhaps their predecessors in this case were Mitannians) and, most importantly, the production of battle chariots. Equipped with battle chariots, the Indo-European tribes quickly spread to the west (the Balkans) and the east (Central Asia and Turkestan up to the Mongolian steppes and the Yellow River basin). The southern branch of Indo-Europeans, settled in time by Iran and India, is often called the Indo-Iranian and, genetically, as well as territorially, goes back to the Indo-European tribes of the distant Black Sea region.

Between the Iranian arias that settled in Iran at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, and the Indo-Arians, whose infiltration into the regions of Northern India dates back to the 14th-13th centuries. BC, much in common. This is common in both language and religion (the names of the gods), and in the early forms of social caste division with the allocation of warriors and priests (brahmanas, magicians), and in many other aspects of culture, including the material one. The term arius (ie noble), used by Indians and Iranian Persians (ar, er, up), refers specifically to the designation of members of the original Indo-Iranian community, in two parts, opposing each other. Indirectly, this confrontation is confirmed by the fact that the most basic religious terms: ahura and devas for the Iranians, deva and asura y Indo-Aryans - equally denoted, respectively, a good and harmful force. This between related groups could only occur if they split sharply, reaching a sharp antagonism.

The penetration of Indo-Aryans through Afghanistan first into the Punjab, and then into the Ganges valley, inhabited previously by local Neolithic farmers, predominantly ethnic communities munda and Dravidians , was, most likely, waves and lasted, perhaps, quite a long time. The question of how and when this happened, from where and how the waves of Indo-Aryans went, belongs to the number of disputable and at the modern level of knowledge practically insoluble. However, it is indisputable that the first Indo-Aryans arrived in the Ganges valley long before their close relatives Iranians settled that part of Iran, where they later settled, creating their own states (Media, then Persia). Having appeared in the upper reaches of the Ganges, the Indo-Aryans gradually began to develop the previously inhabited valley of this river, pushing or assimilating a few and relatively backward indigenous tribes. High level of material culture: acquaintance with metals, use of plow, fertilizer, irrigation devices, means of transport, developed craft, etc. - contributed to the rapid and successful approval of Indo-Aryans in the Ganges valley. It is their language and culture, including its religious-philosophical foundation, for many millennia, up to our days, have determined the historical path of Indian civilization. Indoarians with their great attention to religious symbolism and mythology, cults and sacrifices, with the leading role of the brahmana priests and the deification of the sacred texts -suhit , put religious and spiritual problems on the foreground in this civilization, underlined piety in relation to which became in time the quintessence of the entire spiritual culture of India.

The texts ved (<), primarily Rigvedans, numerous religious and philosophical treatises related to their commenting and interpretation ( brahmanas , aranyaki, Upanishads), monumental epic tales of the heroes and exploits of the distant past ( Mahabharata ) and Ramayana & quot ;, legends -women and compiled comparatively late tracts like Laws of Manu or Arthashastra - that is, in fact, almost everything a historian can do when trying to somehow reconstruct the ancient periods of the history of India and outline the main parameters of her society and culture. No chronicle chronicles, no records of historical events, no documents at the disposal of science are there or almost none.

The nature of the sources has determined both the range of information that we can operate and the degree of accuracy with which we can draw conclusions about ancient Indian society. Undoubtedly, however, that a meager and one-sided set of data is not an accident, not the result of insufficient searches or loss of important documents in situations that are still unclear. On the contrary, it is quite an adequate reflection of the structure of society itself, its self-identification. In a society with an emphasis on religious and spiritual problems, with the search for purification, salvation and deliverance from the burdens and sufferings of life, in withdrawing from it (striving for asceticism, moksha, nirvana), with the idea of ​​retribution (karma) as a legitimate reward for everyone for it merit or sins in a past life, in a word, with its apparent aspiration from being to non-existence, from external to internal, from social to biological-personal - in a society very different from those around it, there is practically no place for social science in some other form, except for the religious-epic, mythological-cultic.

If we raise the question of the causes of such a significant deviation from the norm, then almost the same issue will arise about migrant-indoarians, for whom the tasks of consolidation and survival in a new homeland and in an alien environment have just been reduced to conservation memory of the past. This refers to the far past, which did not have the usual sociopolitical outlines of other peoples, but was divided only into genera, i.e. on closed endogamous groups. Or, otherwise, before us is not quite an ordinary society that has steadily maintained social ranks, but for not very clear reasons (perhaps because of its semi-nomadic way of life) that failed to overcome the bar that separated the tribal community from the city-state within the urban focal point civilization. This bar does not seem to have been overcome easily, not all and not immediately, which is most often recorded in the region where the Indo-European communities matured, most of which were light-weight migrants, semi-nomadic, whether Greeks, Romans, Slavs or Germans (Mitannians and Hittites on their background should be considered an exception).

The difference between the Iranians and the Indo-Aryans, judging by the signs that they revealed over time, but not recorded by the Greeks and other Europeans, or the Mittannians and Hittites, was precisely this division into endogamous ranks that arose, possibly, as a result rapprochement between a limited number of related ethnic communities. The Iranians, who kept their ethnicity under the conditions of easy contacts of different parts of it, such as the Persians and Medes, this specific feature of the society disappeared quite quickly, already at the beginning of the Achaemenid empire, whereas in the migrated far far from the Indoarians, the preservation of the indicated differences, on the contrary, was firmly entrenched. This should be considered natural under conditions when a great deal depended on such a preservation of the distant past, which did not have a political history and therefore could not be fixed in the form of historical descriptions, let alone business documents. This past, which is quite natural, was canonized in a religious mythological form and preserved in the memory of generations in this form.

The subsequent accent on religious and spiritual problems only reliably fixed priorities in the system of the highest values ​​of Indian civilization that was taking shape on a new place and practically anew. History and political events within this system were only a pale and insignificant background, which shaded the most important and essential. And the main and essential was the way of life sanctioned by religious norms and spiritual culture. It included the principles of the organization of society, social and family ties with a very noticeable tinge of endogamy, and ideological landmarks firmly fixed in sacral texts, preserved for centuries in an unchanged or very little changing state.

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