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Thread: Waves of migration into South Asia

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthroin View Post
    Edit: Regarding Indra, what you said is quite interesting and Michael Witzel if I remember correctly speculates that the word Indra was borrowed from BMAC languages- for it to have been Harappan which is a very valid possibility, Asko Parpola would have been required to find an etymology from Dravidian as his speculative Dravidian hypothesis dictates and he may have failed to do so and thus searched for alternative etymologies. As far as I am aware of, such complex religious entities are less likely to be possible to be reconstructed to Proto-Dravidian and Proto-Dravidian folks also look like they had more attachment to mountains and rocks than rivers though I may be projecting the later behaviour of likely Dravidian offshoots in the megalithic period of south India and the words for 'king' related to the word for 'mountain' in South Dravidian languages, etc. onto Proto-Dravidian.
    Thank you for the welcome. I think Indra being a person with AASI genetics in him or an Indus Valley god or both is very plausible and just as plausible as any of the theories these other guys are spouting. I'd always thought this, but with the information that AASI genetics are present in the BMAC area in a significant way, gives a major boost to this theory. EDIT: Now mind you its entirely possible that they merged characteristics of various gods including prior IE gods onto this character... but my theory is that the name and his primary function as a water deity are related to IVC culture. I think its even possible that he's an actual person who's part IE genetics and part AASI genetics. He's asura and deva. He's aryan and dravidian. When the rig veda mandalas are composed much later, he's remembered for all these things and some of the characteristics of prior IE only gods grafted onto him as well. Or he could just be an IVC deity that the IE people in BMAC outskirts adopt. Its of course hard to tell all this, but his ambiguity (racial, religious, and cultural) is the key.

    In fact, this scenario would explain perfectly why there is no invasion. If you're a dravidian living in punjab you may not be super intimidated when people who basically believe in the same religion as you (maybe slightly lighter skinned) show up with chariots that aren't very useful in your environment. That sounds like a recipe for co-operation and not conflict. Which is why populations mix for the next 1500 or so years until the caste system is made super rigid around mauryan ashokan times (likely introduced or solidified to keep societal order and obedience in such a vast kingdom)...

    This explains why Krishna (word means black and he is described as being so) is the god in the mahabharata and is accepted as such so easily (mahabharata occurs 800-1000 bce according to consensus btw). And mahabharata is full of interracial marriages... santanu (the forebear of the kuru clan) marries the fisherwoman satyavati who is described as being black (and has the audacity to ask that her children be the heir to the kingdom instead of bhishma). Panchali/Draupadi is described as being black and is also the princess of panchala (and gets to pick her husband at her swayamvara).

    We are seeing multiple examples of people who are dark skinned having significant agency in dealing with the IE speaking Kuru clan (satyavati at the family level, Draupadi at the kingdom level, and krishna at the divine level). This is all true even in the earliest recorded versions of the mahabharata. Again, consensus is that the Mahabhrata events takes place 800-1000 bce.

    So given what consensus opinion is on the proposed initial migration of IE speakers (~1500 - 1300 bce) into Ancient India proper (i.e. south of Hindu kush/afghanistan) and what we know about the racial climate around 1000 bce (i.e. darker skinned people marrying into lighter skinned royalty and being worshipped as gods by the lighter skinned people)... I don't see how Indra could not be an Indus Valley god. In fact the only plausible explanation from my point of view is that the incoming IE speakers had to already have had some religious indoctrination into the IVC religions (of which Indra and Rudra visnu vac etc are key parts of) before crossing the hindu kush mountains. The people who are best placed to provide this indoctrination and conversion are the IVC migrants in the BMAC area.

    Again all this jives with the genetic data and the historical record.

    I think the problem is that people go to extremes. On one hand some people are like "no migration, its all out of india"... on the other extreme people are like "guys that looked like Thor came in and raped the tribal women and after burning down their cities" Both of these scenarios don't make sense. I think what actually happens is some anti-climactic sh*t like i described in the above post and this one...

    Anyways just my 2 cents.
    Last edited by thorin; 04-03-2018 at 06:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasus View Post
    That would become apparent only when actual IVC samples from the Indus Gangetic are released but based of the rumours , it seems there was a quasi caste system already in the IVC as apparently the more AASI shifted individuals had shabby graves
    By this measure, an archaeologist excavating any graveyard a couple of thousand years from now would surmise that caste systems existed all over the world, as the richer folk would invariably have more elaborate graves.

    I think what distinguishes the Indian caste system from a run-of-the-mill socio-economic class system, is the underlying racial/ethnic basis of caste stratification along with a rigid lack of upward mobility. If it indeed turns out that the sophistication(rather, lack of) of IVC graves is consistently co-related with the level of AASI over a decent period of time, then we would have some proof that a proto-caste system existed...

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    I agree with most of what thorin wrote above, but just to add, I doubt any GROUP or tribe in the northwestern vicinity of Bharat ever looked like Thor lol. Nordic phenotypes popping up in central Asia or Siberia in modern populations are more likely from later conquests by central Asian groups like Huns or Mongols or Turks and bringing in women and slaves from Eastern Europe. Reason I hold this view is because the time lines for whatever is the most recent major chunks of shared ancestry between South Asia, central Asia, west Asia and Europe are, is still too old or rather almost simultaneous for Thor phenotype to have arisen and stabilized in Europe. Otherwise we'd be having a substantial portion of south Asian population also being blue eyed and even blond. Having AASI ancestry wouldn't necessarily negate or make light features recessive because WHG were also apparently Onge complexioned. Similarly the tropics have produced blondism independent of steppe ancestry as seen in some Melanesians I believe (reason I bring this up is because this shows blondism doesn't necessarily have to be selected against for survival in tropics).

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    Quote Originally Posted by redifflal View Post
    I agree with most of what thorin wrote above, but just to add, I doubt any GROUP or tribe in the northwestern vicinity of Bharat ever looked like Thor lol. Nordic phenotypes popping up in central Asia or Siberia in modern populations are more likely from later conquests by central Asian groups like Huns or Mongols or Turks and bringing in women and slaves from Eastern Europe. Reason I hold this view is because the time lines for whatever is the most recent major chunks of shared ancestry between South Asia, central Asia, west Asia and Europe are, is still too old or rather almost simultaneous for Thor phenotype to have arisen and stabilized in Europe. Otherwise we'd be having a substantial portion of south Asian population also being blue eyed and even blond. Having AASI ancestry wouldn't necessarily negate or make light features recessive because WHG were also apparently Onge complexioned. Similarly the tropics have produced blondism independent of steppe ancestry as seen in some Melanesians I believe (reason I bring this up is because this shows blondism doesn't necessarily have to be selected against for survival in tropics).
    Lol I was trying to be a bit cheeky! The other cheesy corny line I was going to close with, but didn't use:

    This all sounds to me like some guy who looks like Rajnikanth convincing some guy who looks like Hrithik Roshan that Indra is the god we should all follow.

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    The picture for Indian subcontinent as it stands now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thorin View Post
    Thank you for the welcome. I think Indra being a person with AASI genetics in him or an Indus Valley god or both is very plausible and just as plausible as any of the theories these other guys are spouting. I'd always thought this, but with the information that AASI genetics are present in the BMAC area in a significant way, gives a major boost to this theory. EDIT: Now mind you its entirely possible that they merged characteristics of various gods including prior IE gods onto this character... but my theory is that the name and his primary function as a water deity are related to IVC culture. I think its even possible that he's an actual person who's part IE genetics and part AASI genetics. He's asura and deva. He's aryan and dravidian. When the rig veda mandalas are composed much later, he's remembered for all these things and some of the characteristics of prior IE only gods grafted onto him as well. Or he could just be an IVC deity that the IE people in BMAC outskirts adopt. Its of course hard to tell all this, but his ambiguity (racial, religious, and cultural) is the key.

    In fact, this scenario would explain perfectly why there is no invasion. If you're a dravidian living in punjab you may not be super intimidated when people who basically believe in the same religion as you (maybe slightly lighter skinned) show up with chariots that aren't very useful in your environment. That sounds like a recipe for co-operation and not conflict. Which is why populations mix for the next 1500 or so years until the caste system is made super rigid around mauryan ashokan times (likely introduced or solidified to keep societal order and obedience in such a vast kingdom)...

    This explains why Krishna (word means black and he is described as being so) is the god in the mahabharata and is accepted as such so easily (mahabharata occurs 800-1000 bce according to consensus btw). And mahabharata is full of interracial marriages... santanu (the forebear of the kuru clan) marries the fisherwoman satyavati who is described as being black (and has the audacity to ask that her children be the heir to the kingdom instead of bhishma). Panchali/Draupadi is described as being black and is also the princess of panchala (and gets to pick her husband at her swayamvara).

    We are seeing multiple examples of people who are dark skinned having significant agency in dealing with the IE speaking Kuru clan (satyavati at the family level, Draupadi at the kingdom level, and krishna at the divine level). This is all true even in the earliest recorded versions of the mahabharata. Again, consensus is that the Mahabhrata events takes place 800-1000 bce.

    So given what consensus opinion is on the proposed initial migration of IE speakers (~1500 - 1300 bce) into Ancient India proper (i.e. south of Hindu kush/afghanistan) and what we know about the racial climate around 1000 bce (i.e. darker skinned people marrying into lighter skinned royalty and being worshipped as gods by the lighter skinned people)... I don't see how Indra could not be an Indus Valley god. In fact the only plausible explanation from my point of view is that the incoming IE speakers had to already have had some religious indoctrination into the IVC religions (of which Indra and Rudra visnu vac etc are key parts of) before crossing the hindu kush mountains. The people who are best placed to provide this indoctrination and conversion are the IVC migrants in the BMAC area.

    Again all this jives with the genetic data and the historical record.

    I think the problem is that people go to extremes. On one hand some people are like "no migration, its all out of india"... on the other extreme people are like "guys that looked like Thor came in and raped the tribal women and after burning down their cities" Both of these scenarios don't make sense. I think what actually happens is some anti-climactic sh*t like i described in the above post and this one...

    Anyways just my 2 cents.
    This is entirely correct- especially the parts about kRShNa (the Yadava), kRShNA (Draupadi), the other kRShNA (the river Yamuna), fisherwoman Satyavati, her son another kRShNa (Vyasa), etc. having fully functional agency just like every other person. But only one thing does not stop to be curious for me anyway, most of the times. Why the northwesterners and others first shifted native language to Indo-Aryan. Even if their urban society collapsed, they surely still were living in good enough village societies? That is nothing but the usual question of how Indo-Europeans could affect language shift whichever materially advanced societies they went into. For which I don't know the answer at all and would like to know some day. I used to think (and still tend to think) that Indo-Aryans could affect language shift in large parts of India because they may have contributed to the reduction of the practice of human sacrifice existing in India, having found it repulsive. Now there is as far as I know, absolutely nowhere that I read that posited a presence of human sacrifice in Indus society, but there may be indications that it existed. For example, I remember reading Michael Witzel suggest that the Purushamedha of the Vedas looks like a very non-native ritual and like a graft attached onto their system, appearing like getting into their society from somewhere else. This may point to it originating from pre-Indo-Aryan traditions, he suggests, if I remember correctly. That and the usual patron-client based models, etc. too.

    Now the above may look like a very politically incorrect anti-pre-Indo-Aryan and pro-Indo-Aryan thought process but I believe there is no harm in articulating such processes (in my case) and pursuing it carefully to conclusion (in the case of actual scholars) and see if there is any possibility to it. Emotional passions about such matters should be tried to be kept to the minimum but the matter must be investigated the best extent possible (which I don't claim as contributing any significantly towards, here) because it is the truth that is what matters. For the above idea, from my side, I can point to the real human sacrifice practices described in Old Tamil literature and also historically witnessed human sacrifices in Khond societies (speaking languages Kui, Kuvi) till recently. There is no reason Indus societies did not have some kind of these practices too (edit: I realise that this is a bit of a too strong of a thing to say especially not knowing how sensible it is to compare advanced urban civilisations like those at the Indus Valley with somewhat proto-stage-type civilisations like Old Tamil society and tribal societies like those of the Khonds; so I basically take back my entire proposal and continue to remain quite plainly curious about the phenomenon of the earliest language shift to Indo-Aryan in India), irrespective of the language they may have spoken (I personally don't believe Indus Civilisation people spoke Dravidian; they may have spoken some extinct but divergent Dravidian perhaps but Dravidian is unlikely in my view- though the recent results about all these Coorghis, Reddy_Telangana, etc. having high Indus_Periphery-like ancestry are making me tilt a little bit). I would absolutely love to be demolished regarding this but I would like to ultimately know why Indus Civilisation descendants shifted language. (I'm not an anti-Indo-Aryan or pro-Dravidian or a covert-Dravidian-agenda-pusher or anything of the sort; just want to know the truth)

    Also, while we can speculate about words like Indra which are problematic in Indo-European, I'd be much more conservative when dealing with words like Rudra, Vishnu, etc. which have Indo-European etymologies and do not intuitively feel too out of place for an Indo-European type of society. Unless there is any indication of loan translation from other pre-Indo-Aryan languages or merging of aspects of their deities with these new Indo-Aryan deities becomes available, it is better to consider them Indo-Aryan and Indo-Aryan only. As far as I am aware of (which is very very limited), Iravatham Mahadevan is one scholar who posits loan translations of many important concepts from Dravidian to Indo-Aryan, going as per his Dravidian hypothesis. I did not at this point take a look at the evidence he presents but I'm initially biased towards the view that they may be unlikely because the likelihood that the reverse may have happened is quite high- seeing how the names of the deities described in the Old Tamil literature are, for a significant part, loan translations of Sanskritic deity names.
    Last edited by anthroin; 04-03-2018 at 09:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthroin View Post
    This is entirely correct- especially the parts about kRShNa (the Yadava), kRShNA (Draupadi), the other kRShNA (the river Yamuna), fisherwoman Satyavati, her son another kRShNa (Vyasa), etc. having fully functional agency just like every other person. But only one thing does not stop to be curious for me anyway, most of the times. Why the northwesterners and others first shifted native language to Indo-Aryan. Even if their urban society collapsed, they surely still were living in good enough village societies? That is nothing but the usual question of how Indo-Europeans could affect language shift whichever materially advanced societies they went into. For which I don't know the answer at all and would like to know some day. I used to think (and still tend to think) that Indo-Aryans could affect language shift in large parts of India because they may have contributed to the reduction of the practice of human sacrifice existing in India, having found it repulsive. Now there is as far as I know, absolutely nowhere that I read that posited a presence of human sacrifice in Indus society, but there may be indications that it existed. For example, I remember reading Michael Witzel suggest that the Purushamedha of the Vedas looks like a very non-native ritual and like a graft attached onto their system, appearing like getting into their society from somewhere else. This may point to it originating from pre-Indo-Aryan traditions, he suggests, if I remember correctly. That and the usual patron-client based models, etc. too.
    Hmmm... I don't about human sacrifices etc. I haven't seen too much on that from any of the books I've read on either Indo-Aryans or Dravidian society. Since we're speculating, I think the language shift occurs quite easily. While the Indus Valley people have a superior culture due to having come from an urbanized people, at this time frame they would be economically very disadvantaged compared to the incoming Indo-Aryans (with their AASI and Indra and all) as they would be coming from cities that fell apart after the Ghaggar-Hakra river dried up. The IVC economy was based on agriculture around those rivers and manufacturing goods for export. The Indo-Aryans on the other hand would have had a HUGE advantage in living off the land (massive cattle herds etc) while being mobile in the move towards the Gangetic plain, whereas the Dravidians who are also making this migration would likely find it more difficult. They would also not have the clan and kin network to rely on.

    A good example is present day economic migrants. All sorts of Indians go abroad and keep their culture and can even affect the local customs in their host countries (yoga for example), but they adopt the new language as its the language of economics. I think the key is that both these groups are mobile at this point and moving towards the gangetic plain. The IVC people have a cultural religious advantage, but the Indo-Aryans would have the economic and political advantage.

    Quote Originally Posted by anthroin View Post
    Now the above may look like a very politically incorrect anti-pre-Indo-Aryan and pro-Indo-Aryan thought process but I believe there is no harm in articulating such processes (in my case) and pursuing it carefully to conclusion (in the case of actual scholars) and see if there is any possibility to it. Emotional passions about such matters should be tried to be kept to the minimum but the matter must be investigated the best extent possible (which I don't claim as contributing any significantly towards, here) because it is the truth that is what matters. For the above idea, from my side, I can point to the real human sacrifice practices described in Old Tamil literature and also historically witnessed human sacrifices in Khond societies (speaking languages Kui, Kuvi) till recently. There is no reason Indus societies did not have some kind of these practices too (edit: I realise that this is a bit of a too strong of a thing to say especially not knowing how sensible it is to compare advanced urban civilisations like those at the Indus Valley with somewhat proto-stage-type civilisations like Old Tamil society and tribal societies like those of the Khonds; so I basically take back my entire proposal and continue to remain quite plainly curious about the phenomenon of the earliest language shift to Indo-Aryan in India), irrespective of the language they may have spoken (I personally don't believe Indus Civilisation people spoke Dravidian; they may have spoken some extinct but divergent Dravidian perhaps but Dravidian is unlikely in my view- though the recent results about all these Coorghis, Reddy_Telangana, etc. having high Indus_Periphery-like ancestry are making me tilt a little bit). I would absolutely love to be demolished regarding this but I would like to ultimately know why Indus Civilisation descendants shifted language. (I'm not an anti-Indo-Aryan or pro-Dravidian or a covert-Dravidian-agenda-pusher or anything of the sort; just want to know the truth)
    I don't have anything to add on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by anthroin View Post
    Also, while we can speculate about words like Indra which are problematic in Indo-European, I'd be much more conservative when dealing with words like Rudra, Vishnu, etc. which have Indo-European etymologies and do not intuitively feel too out of place for an Indo-European type of society. Unless there is any indication of loan translation from other pre-Indo-Aryan languages or merging of aspects of their deities with these new Indo-Aryan deities becomes available, it is better to consider them Indo-Aryan and Indo-Aryan only. As far as I am aware of (which is very very limited), Iravatham Mahadevan is one scholar who posits loan translations of many important concepts from Dravidian to Indo-Aryan, going as per his Dravidian hypothesis. I did not at this point take a look at the evidence he presents but I'm initially biased towards the view that they may be unlikely because the likelihood that the reverse may have happened is quite high- seeing how the names of the deities described in the Old Tamil literature are, for a significant part, loan translations of Sanskritic deity names.
    The Indra, Rudra, Vak and Visnu thing I got from the Asko Parpola book. He was the one who suggested that those words don't sound IE. I can recheck, maybe I'm wrong.

    I think the IVC was proabably multilingual given the geography, but I'm convinced it would have been some sort of Dravidian or other language. In my humble opinion its very unlikely for it to have been an IE society.
    Last edited by thorin; 04-03-2018 at 11:01 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thorin View Post
    Hmmm... I don't about human sacrifices etc. I haven't seen too much on that from any of the books I've read on either Indo-Aryans or Dravidian society. Since we're speculating, I think the language shift occurs quite easily. While the Indus Valley people have a superior culture due to having come from an urbanized people, at this time frame they would be economically very disadvantaged compared to the incoming Indo-Aryans (with their AASI and Indra and all) as they would be coming from cities that fell apart after the Ghaggar-Hakra river dried up. The IVC economy was based on agriculture around those rivers and manufacturing goods for export. The Indo-Aryans on the other hand would have had a HUGE advantage in living off the land (massive cattle herds etc) while being mobile in the move towards the Gangetic plain, whereas the Dravidians who are also making this migration would likely find it more difficult. They would also not have the clan and kin network to rely on.

    A good example is present day economic migrants. All sorts of Indians go abroad and keep their culture and can even affect the local customs in their host countries (yoga for example), but they adopt the new language as its the language of economics. I think the key is that both these groups are mobile at this point and moving towards the gangetic plain. The IVC people have a cultural religious advantage, but the Indo-Aryans would have the economic and political advantage.



    I don't have anything to add on this.



    The Indra, Rudra, Vak and Visnu thing I got from the Asko Parpola book. He was the one who suggested that those words don't sound IE. I can recheck, maybe I'm wrong.

    I think the IVC was proabably multilingual given the geography, but I'm convinced it would have been some sort of Dravidian or other language. In my humble opinion its very unlikely for it to have been an IE society.
    As I also said above, I take back my hypothetical human sacrifice involvement proposal in relation to the language shift in northwestern India. Now, the consideration that the northwestern village societies of that period were somewhat materially more advanced (even if not part of urban societies) than Indo-Aryans is incorrect then? If that's the case, then what you wrote makes sense to me.

    About the gory Old Tamil post-war sacrifice ritual, please see the book "The Smile of Murugan: On Tamil Literature of South India", page 127, by Kamil Zvelebil. There are Wikipedia pages on the practice of "Meriah" of the Kui-, Kuvi- (South Dravidian-II) speaking Khonds who apparently killed humans for sacrifice till recently (till 300-400 years ago) for the Earth Goddess with the belief that it is required to get good yields for their turmeric crops.

    Regarding the deity names, I noted that the words Rudra, Vishnu, Vak, etc. are etymologically thoroughly Indo-European. If Asko Parpola or other philologists have proposed some evidence for loan translation in their works, then that is fine. I just did not know about those works, that's all. And yeah, no idea what the language of the IVC may have been. It has vanished so thoroughly with many of the 300 or so non-Indo-Aryan words in the Rigveda and other literature apparently not being Dravidian, Munda, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anthroin View Post
    As I also said above, I take back my hypothetical human sacrifice involvement proposal in relation to the language shift in northwestern India. Now, the consideration that the northwestern village societies of that period were somewhat materially more advanced (even if not part of urban societies) than Indo-Aryans is incorrect then? If that's the case, then what you wrote makes sense to me.

    About the gory Old Tamil post-war sacrifice ritual, please see the book "The Smile of Murugan: On Tamil Literature of South India", page 127, by Kamil Zvelebil. There are Wikipedia pages on the practice of "Meriah" of the Kui-, Kuvi- (South Dravidian-II) speaking Khonds who apparently killed humans for sacrifice till recently (till 300-400 years ago) for the Earth Goddess with the belief that it is required to get good yields for their turmeric crops.

    Regarding the deity names, I noted that the words Rudra, Vishnu, Vak, etc. are etymologically thoroughly Indo-European. If Asko Parpola or other philologists have proposed some evidence for loan translation in their works, then that is fine. I just did not know about those works, that's all. And yeah, no idea what the language of the IVC may have been. It has vanished so thoroughly with many of the 300 or so non-Indo-Aryan words in the Rigveda and other literature apparently not being Dravidian, Munda, etc.
    I just checked... He mentions Indra as non-IE but feels it has a Uralic connection (which I disagree with - I feel this is harappan). He also states Prajapati, Vak, and Rudra are survivors from the Harappan pantheon (though these might not be their original Harappan names). I thought he mentioned Visnu as well last time i read this book, but I can't seem to find it right now.

    I think in either case, the point I'm making is that there is religious continuity from the IVC tradition to the Gangetic tradition - this is under-appreciated by most people who write on the subject I feel. On the other hand, the political and economic landscape changes dramatically, which advantages the IE speakers.

    This is my speculative take on why there is new language and vigour at the leadership level, lots of ethnic mixing, etc but no invasion. The Indo-Aryans (who are starting to look semi-Indian already due to the AASI mixing in the BMAC) respect the Dravidians and their cultural/religious traditions, and the economically floundering Dravidians are open to have some new leadership and ideas. This is all for the Dravidians that move North and East... The Dravidians who move south continue to flounder for a bit longer before eventually figuring out new economic models and systems which is why the emergence of kingdoms down there takes a bit longer (but they get to keep their religion AND their language).

    Eventually Maurya, etc conquer most of the subcontinent and allow people to keep their language etc (again because there is mutual respect for that) but in that process a lot of brahmins etc move down there and probably introduce, solidify and integrated themselves into an existing caste strcuture (or possibly create one).

    Obviously this is all just pure speculation....
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    Maurya etc is too late for Brahmins in south. Ravana was a Brahmin ruler in Sri Lanka. Believe the southern traditions hold an Agastya muni coming down from the Himalayas into the Deccan.

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     parasar (04-04-2018)

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