Thoughts on genetics, Aryan debate and dharma

[Preface: We have in this blog already discussed the Aryan influx hypothesis issue. From my previous posts in this matter, readers will note that my stand has been very cynical w.r.t. any proposed influx. I have presented comments and inferences by various geneticists and their research papers, which go against any influx. However, I am always open to discussion and new ideas. I welcome any fresh evidence and any perspective provided it has the weight of scholarly analysis. One such scholarly analysis recently came to my attention, which I have excerpted in this post.]

The publication of a new paper on Indian population genetics studies has once again elicitated some excitement over the Aryan question. Some of the authors of the paper made some very strong statements against the colonial theory of Aryan invasion turned euphemistic migration turning trickle-in theory.

Widely believed theory of Indo-Aryan invasion, often used to explain early settlements in the Indian subcontinent is a myth, a new study by Indian geneticists says.

“Our study clearly shows that there was no genetic influx 3,500 years ago,” said Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj of CCMB, who led the research team, which included scientists from the University of Tartu, Estonia, Chettinad Academy of Research and Education, Chennai and Banaras Hindu University.

“It is high time we re-write India’s prehistory based on scientific evidence,” said Dr Lalji Singh, former director of CCMB. “There is no genetic evidence that Indo-Aryans invaded or migrated to India or even something such as Aryans existed”. Singh, vice-chancellor of BHU, is a coauthor.

The comparison of this data with genetic data of other populations showed that South Asia harbours two major ancestry components. One is spread in populations of South and West Asia, Middle East, Near East and the Caucasus. The second component is more restricted to South Asia and accounts for more than 50 per cent of the ancestry in Indian populations.

“Both the ancestry components that dominate genetic variation in South Asia demonstrate much greater diversity than those that predominate West Eurasia. This is indicative of a more ancient demographic history and a higher long-term effective population size underlying South Asian genome variation compared to that of West Eurasia,” researchers said.

“The genetic component which spread beyond India is significantly higher in India than in any other part of world. This implies that this genetic component originated in India and then spread to West Asia and Caucasus,” said Gyaneshwar Chaube of University of Tartu, Estonia.

A very knowledgeable Hindu blogger whom I admire and agree with on most matters, and who is a highly educated (evolutionary) biologist by training (if I have deduced his identity correctly), had this to say on this latest Metspalu, et. al., 2011 paper.

A recent paper by Metspalu et al in AHJG adds additional data to the growing material on the genetics of the Indians. The paper has several issues that are rather unsatisfactory – chief among them is the attempt to meaninglessly hand wave on OIT and AIT. The AIT is sitting right there in their data, yet they attempt to obfuscate the issue in somewhat amateurish ways. But that is not something we wish to discuss today because there is new work that might be published relatively soon that will smash the OIT theory for good.

Interestingly, while the authors of an earlier paper (Reich et. al. 2009) have spoken against AIT/AMT (albeit indirectly) in a press conference, their paper itself has been interpreted by many as supporting AMT (Breaking India, Appendix A). A discussion of their paper in Nature by Dr. Aravinda Chakravarti makes interesting reading. On one hand Dr. Chakravarti seemingly supports AMT. On the other hand, he also supports Reich, et. al. that current Indian population is admixture of ANI (Ancestral North Indian), ASI (Ancestral South Indian), both of which groups have remote ancestry in India (can be traced back to around 40,000 to 65,000 years). Of course, the paper itself mentions that ANI has affinity with Europeans. If we go by geneticists, this affinity would imply that there was/were major migration(s) out of the Indian subcontinent which contributed to the non-African genetic population of the world. Geneticist Oppenheimer says,

For me and for Toomas Kivisild, South Asia is logically the ultimate origin of M17(Y-DNA Haplogroup R1a, associated with the male Aryan invasion theory) and his ancestors; and sure enough we find the highest rates and greatest diversity of the M17 line in Pakistan, India, and eastern Iran, and low rates in the Caucasus.

In his book, “The Real Eve”, Dr. Oppenheimer traces the genetic origin of Europeans and Central Asians to a single mother who lived in the Indian subcontinent, whom he calls the “Eurasian Eve”. This inference points to the autochthonous origin of the genetic population of the Indian subcontinent, which agrees with the results of many genetic studies, including but not limited to, Sharma, et. al. 2009,  Sengupta, et. al. 2006, Sahoo, et. al., 2006, Metspalu, et. al., 2004. Not surprisingly, while Bamshad, et. al. 2001, which seemed to support a invasionist/migrationist model had the professional Aryanists jumping up and down, vast majority of subsequent genetic research, which go against any so-called Aryan invasion or migration into India, don’t elicit the same excitement from them.

Interestingly, some professional Aryanists theorize that even if the Indian subcontinent is the genetic origin for Central Asian and European populations, that still doesn’t rule out a migration of Sanskrit speaking (or PIE speaking) “Aryans” into the subcontinent around 1500 BCE (or around that time). Now some questions arise with this theory. How major was this theoretical migration to have contributed language and beliefs in such a scale? Did Sanskrit develop in the subcontinent prior of this said migration? Or, did the ancient migration out of the subcontinent carry PIE into Central Asia, Europe? If we go by genetic studies, among others, Metspalu, et. al., 2004 clearly state that since the initial settlement of South Asia by modern humans, when this region may well have provided initial settlers who colonized much of Eurasia, gene flow in and out of India has been very limited. Metspalu, et. al., 2011 also provide the same thesis. Co-author Gyaneshwar Chaube of University of Tartu, Estonia explicitly states this in an aforementioned quote from India Today. However, given the possibility of new research disputing this out-of-India model, as mentioned by the editor of mAnasataraMgiNI, we eagerly await that publication.

In any case, even though the invasionist model has been largely discarded by the professional Aryanists for a migrationist (and even trickle-in) model, there are still significant mainstream books, sites, etc. that talk of conquering light skinned Aryans and defeated dark skinned natives. It may still take significant amount of time before this Aryan debate is settled once and for all. While genetics holds the key, as long as there exists political reasons for patronizing the professional Aryanists, namely, the Marxist history engineers of India and their occidental Eurocentric associates, the results and inferences of genetic research won’t reach textbooks that easily. That said, it will probably take another decade of more genetic evidence, on top of what we already know, to put an end to this Aryan debate once and for all.

Notwithstanding the direction genetics studies take, it is important to dissociate dharma/Hinduism from the Aryan theories. The soul of India has always been dhArmika be it Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh. Wherever dharma has ceased to exist, secessionist activities have taken root. The nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh stand as testimonies to what happens once the population is converted from dharma. If the break India agenda is to be foiled, among other things, there needs to be a resurgence of dharma in India. Whether dharma “came to” India from outside or not shouldn’t really be the focus. Focus should be that dharma is that soul of India and cleansing of dharma enables the break India agenda. Of course, if genetic studies of the last few years is any indication, the evidence for autochthonous origins of the Indian population groups and hence dharma is gradually mounting. While any new paper may as well change this, after some deliberation I have come to believe that it is definitely befitting to decouple the whole Aryan influx matter from dharma/Hinduism. Otherwise, we will merely be playing into the hands of our civilizational opponents.


One thought on “Thoughts on genetics, Aryan debate and dharma

  1. Well, sometimes  I wonder if at all the AIT/AMT debate is that important. Even if we descended or have some components of Europeans somewhere, it is the software (as mentioned by manastaramgini’s acharya himself time and again) which matters more; corollary to this –our own fellow Hindu’s, thoroughly deracinated in thought and lifestyle. I believe this idea also echos in the last para above:

    The nations of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh stand as testimonies to what happens once the population is converted from dharma

    A large amount of mental capacity of some of the most capable Hindus is being invested in Aryan debate which could otherwise have diversified into re-acquiring skills and knowledge of other areas of Hindu interest. Nevertheless, I hope it AIT/AMT/trickle-in is handled well by dharmika-s in future.

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