The development of the racialist theory of the superiority of the Aryan “master” race is often attributed to Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, a French aristocrat and novelist and “Father of modern Racial Demography”. He did so in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853–1855).
His interest in Oriental studies began in Switzerland where his mother had taken him after she eloped with another man – not Gobineau’s father. As a result of his study, and probably looking for some redemption of his own self, he came up with the theory of superiority of his race. He personally liked to believe that he was from the lineage of Nordic Vikings and Condottieri (Dagobert David Runes. Treasury of philosophy, Volume 1. Philosophical Library. p. 434).
His main point was that the White race was superior to other races – there were three main ones, he pointed out – White, Black and Yellow. He further said that race mixing created chaos and that the races in current Middle East, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, North Africa and southern France were mixed races.
Gobineau’s theories became the core inspiration for Hitler and Nazis.
Later linguist Karl Penka (Die Herkunft der Arier. Neue Beiträge zur historischen Anthropologie der europäischen Völker, 1886) started peddling the idea that the Aryans had emerged from Scandinavia. Such people ideally shared two main features – Blond Hair and Blue Eyes.
At that time, Thomas Henry Huxley also supported Penka’s assertion. Huxley was an English Biologist who was a forceful advocate of evolution. Interestingly, He also popularized the use of term “Agnostic” in religious terms.
He also used a variant of the Aryan Invasion theory when he divided the Europeans into two people: “Xanthochroi” (fair skinned and blond haired) and “Melanochroi” (dark skinned and dark haired Mediterranean). So, the Aryan race as been of Nordic lineage – at least in its purest form – stuck.
Interestingly, the origins of Nazism and specifically the violence against Jews were laid by a French anthropologist Georges Vacher de Lapouge who wrote in his book L’Aryen et son rôle social (1899, “The Aryan and his Social Role”),of two people “dolichocephalic-blond” (the Aryans and Natural leaders) and “brachiocephalic” (the short skulled people). The main archetypes of the latter type were Jews!
Such racial theories were used very effectively in India by the British. With one stroke, they not only installed the Europeans (and British) at the helm of the racial pyramid, but also rid a divide in the social structure of the Indian cultural mileau.
The British used the Indian Caste System to align their Racial theories of Aryan race to rule India effectively.
As the Aryan theories progressed, the location of these theories remained a question;
As early as 1823, the German orientalist and traveler Julius Klaproth (1783-1835) had claimed that the Aryan invaders of India had been light skinned, later mixing with dark natives to lose their original coloring. Although acknowledging that contemporary Indo-European speakers vary in “complexion and other physical pecularities”, the British ethnologist James Cowles Prichard (1786-1848) believed that racial affinities are more reliably identified by language than by physical or cultural traits. But he argues that their common descent was reasonable given that each people is heterogenous and that varied environments outside the original Aryan homeland had probably lef to a modification in skin color. Following this, in 1836, the French philologist Frederic-Gustave Eichhoff (1799-1875) reiterated the observation that Europeans and northern Indians are physically similar and posited that they belonged to a common Aryan type. Eichhoff also conjectured that the cradleland of the Aryans had been on an Asian plateau surrounded by mountains (1836:9)
The history of Swastika, an ancient Hindu symbol, that somehow came to be strongly associated with the Aryan race also has interesting insights to offer.
Swastika has been found in other countries apart from India where it was found in the Harrappan seals.
Archeologically it was found in Khuzestan province of Iran and as part of the “Vinca script” of Neolithic Europe of the 5th millennium BC and Sintashta, Russia. It was also found in northern Caucasus (Koban culture), and Azerbaijan, as well as of Scythians and Sarmatians.
Interestingly it was also found in the area of Kush – at the confluence of the Blue Nile, White Nile and River Atbara in Sudan. More importantly, Swastika was on the pottery in the Jebel Barkal (or Gebel Barkal ) temples. These are in North Sudan. The ruins of Gebel Barkal include at least 13 temples and 3 palaces. The largest of these temples is still considered sacred by the locals. This is the temple for the deity – Amun, or Yama-nu in Egyptian (also spelled Amon, Amoun, Amen). Amun’s description is also very interesting – his status is monotheisic where the other Gods are but his manifestation.
Amun – who is known as the original creator is paired with the Divine Goddess Amunet and then later called Mut, from whom the entire cosmos is supposed to have emerged.
In the Vedic tradition Swastika interestingly is the symbol of Brahma, the Creator – and represents Creation. Brahma has a consort in Goddess Saraswati.
Swastika in Europe was used across the Finnish, Germanic, Celtic, Sami and Slavic cultures. In fact it has even been found in the excavations in the US. It was used by the Native Americans specially the southwestern tribes, most notably the Navajo.
Neo-Aryan Racial Theorists
Not unlike the Racists of the 17th and the 18th century, the Racists of today have disguised themselves as “Scholars” as planted themselves in prestigious institutions. Aryan racial theory, which was used to subjugate colonies by the British, not just India, and to attack the Jews, have been kept in currency by the likes Michael Witzel and his friends.
Michael Witzel is a prominent leader of the Aryan Invasion theorists, who except for reiterating his stance and questioning credibility of the scholars, without any regard to their work, has produced precious little. On June 23-25, 2006, a conference was in Dartmouth, MA with the topic “Conference to Resolve Aryan/Non-Aryan Origin of Indian Civilization”. Comprehensive population genetics data along with archeological and astronomical evidence presented at this conference and scholars of all hues were there such that they could readily question others and argue their case. The post conference release says everything about Witzel very clearly:
Witzel refused to present his own data and evidence for his theories despite being invited to do so. He was nevertheless present in the conference and raised many questions. Some of his commentaries questioning the credibility of scholars evoked sharp responses from other participants.
The tactic of the Aryan-Invasion Theorists is the same all over the world:
– Scholarly sounding and scientifically suspect Mumbo-Jumbo
– If it doesn’t succeed, attack your opponent’s credibility and credentials.
Interestingly, however, Witzel changed his stance for at least this conference in the end –
Witzel stated, for the first time to many in the audience, that he and his colleagues no longer subscribe to Aryan invasion theory.
Other uses of the Invasion Theories for White Supremacy
British and the other European colonists found an effective tool in the Aryan race theory which was used in the local context brilliantly as the “Aryan Invasion Theory”, and some other versions in other colonies. For example, read this use in Rwanda:
“The HUTUS are usually assumed to have settled in Rwanda and Brundi first , from the south and west , while the Tutsi are a Nilotic people who are assumed to have arrived later from the North and East and who established themselves as overlords over the Huti . When German(1897) and then Belgian(1916) colonial governments took over , they found it expedient to govern through Tutsi intermediaries, whom they considered racially superior to Hutu because of the Tutsi’s paler skins and supposedly more European or “Hamitic” appearance. In the 1930’s Belgians required everybody to start carrying an identity card classifying themselves as Hutu or Tutsi , theryby markedly increasing the ethnic disintegration that had already existed.”
This is from Malthus in Africa: Rwanda’s Genocide (Chapter 10 ,Page 314). The genocide the world saw in Rwanda of Tutsis and Hutus running in to millions was a direct result of the same “Invasion theory” where a racially superior (with White lineage) invaded the racially inferior (dark skinned) people. The false pride and corresponding anger on the other side generated enough passions for a genocidial war.
Aryan Racial Theories and European Inferiority Complex
When you read the development of the Aryan Racial theory, you would realize that it was a case of masking the inferiority that a certain people felt and how this theory effectively helped them to be considered “superior”. Germans were in a bad state when this theory was created and they were supposed to be the direct descendants of the Nordic people – thus “Pure Aryans”.
Influenced consciously or otherwise, by the biblical stories of Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel, and by the antiquity of Near Eastern civilizations, ninteenth century scholars usually accepted that the Aryans had originated somewhere in the East – in, say, Bactria (in modern Afghanistan) or the Hindu Kush. They also took for granted that a kinship of language among modern Indo-European speakers proved a shared kinship of descent. Furthermore, living in a period of expanding colonialism and imperialism, many European scholars readily accepted the view that the supposed descedants of the Aryans, such as the Celts, Germans, Slavs, and Greeks, had migrated en masse to Europe – migrations that prompted a belief in Aryan’s heroism and nobility.
This ancestory was welcome at a time when Europeans were faced with an uncertain industrial and urban future. It was also welcome to oppressed peoples and emerging nations, most notably the German people, seeking an identity. Thus, not unexpectedly, German scholars are seen to have embraced Indo-European studies with enthusiasm, partly because language could help define the German Volk, and partly because, in the words of one historian, “linking German language (and, by extension, German culture) to a larger family that also included Greek and Latin and placing them all in a historical sequence of presumably similar migrations, put the Classical, Romance, and German cultures on the same plane” (Smith 1991:62)
Thereafter, scholarship moved beyond philology. IN 1845, for example, the German philologist Adalbert Kuhn (1812-1881) used reconstructed Indo-European words for house, village, grain, cattle, sheep, and king to characterize the Aryans as farmers who had lived under a monarchy. But with the prehistoric archeology and physical anthropology still in their infancy, scholarship in the early ninteenth century remained hazy about the exactly where and when the Aryans had originated and what they had looked like.
Interestingly, Max Mueller, the guy who would become the father of the Indian version of the Aryan Racial Theory – the “Aryan Invasion Theory” – was also the guy who was trying to create the “Cult of Aryanism” during the 1860s in Europe! Any wonder?
In the German lands, too, Aryanism continued to thrive. By contrast, in Britain and America at mid-century, scholars were comparatively lukewarm about the issue. A possible reason for this may have been that these nations were building empires among non-Whites and, therefore, attended most to the racial differences separating non-Whites from the Whites. Although in Britain a debate about the influence the influence and merits of Celts and Saxons took center stage, the Anglo-German philologist Friedrich Max Muller (1823-1900), among others, helped encourage a cult of Aryanism that flourished from the late 1860s until the 1890s – a cult activated, in part, by a desire to trim Christianity of its non-Aryan, Judaic elements. (History of physical anthropology by Frank Spencer)
Aryan Invasion Theory and Racism
It is sad that a theory that was created out of inferiority of one people and used to subjugate and racially attack certain other people based on the physical features (Skin and Eyes) is even discussed in context of India.
Many cultures and ethnic groups and many countries have fallen prey to this cruel, mischievous, and dastardly theory of a criminal mind. Jews, Souther Europeans, Asians, Africans have been killed in one genocide after another.
In fact, if you look at the numbers of genocide that this ONE theory has proliferated, you will be amazed at its consistency of provoking massacres from Africa to Europe and beyond. And YET, in India after the “Aryan Racial” theory has been dismissed the world over – we continue to argue whether Aryans – whose existence as a “race” is mythical at best – came to India or not.
And that a Harvard professor – a Jew – can even align his name to a racial theory of such inhuman backdrop is indeed a mind-boggling thing!