Posted: Jan 13, 2009 at 1828 hrs IST
New York A US-based Hindu advocacy group has taken strong objection to historian Michael Wood's documentary ‘The Story of India,’ being telecast on public television, describing its presentation of the Aryan Migration Theory (AMT) as ‘agenda driven.’
Rejecting the theory, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) said India has always been the cradle of Hindu civilization and there is no debate about it.
"Michael Wood clearly admires India and its people, and this shows through in his passionate depiction of India," said Sheetal Shah, HAF's Director of Development and Outreach.
"We are not seeking to discredit the 'Story of India' in its entirety, but viewers should be aware that a major error was made in the documentary that fails scrutiny and should be corrected," she said.
The Hindu advocacy group said it has received a deluge of phone calls protesting the presentation of the ‘now discredited’ theory, currently being shown on television.
The AMT theorises that in 1500 BCE pastoral tribes that came to be known as Aryans, migrated from Central Europe to Northwest India eventually dispersing indigenous people and imposing their own culture.
"This theory, that is not supported by archaeological evidence, was first posited by European Indologists and British colonialists, eventually finding support from a section of India's politically motivated linguists and historians such as Romila Thapar, and famously, controversial Harvard linguist, Michael Witzel," she said.
This theory, the HAF believes, is ‘agenda-driven’.
In his documentary, HAF says, Wood holds that the early Hindu practice of worshipping devas, or demigods representing elements, ‘somehow implies that these practices were imported from Central Asia.’
While referring ‘obliquely’ to the Aryan Migration Theory as controversial, HAF said, Wood fails to present contrary evidence that many scientists believe refutes the claim that the progenitors of Hindu civilisation came from west of the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan.
"There is no debate that India was always the cradle of Hindu civilisation, and the Vedas, the Hindu's holiest scriptures, are the recorded history of our ancestors," said Suhag Shukla, HAF's Managing Director.
"We strongly oppose the insulting theory--advanced by agenda-driven activist historians -- that our rishis, the great sages who composed the Vedas, were foreign to India, and Wood does viewers a disservice in not presenting both sides of the coin, in an otherwise admirable work," he said.
The AMT is reviled by many Hindus, he said, due to its implicit proposition that a tribe of ‘Aryans’ migrated into the Indian subcontinent, subjugated an indigenous people dispersing them to South India and established a caste system where the highest castes are comprised of ‘Aryans’ in an ethno-religious apartheid system.
This ‘explosive theory’ that narrates that Aryans were only the first colonizers -- followed by Greeks, Mongols, Turks, Persians -- was used by European historians to justify the last foreign claim on India, the British Raj, he added.
However, he asserted, it is the latest genetic evidence, based on chromosomal and DNA analysis, that scientists believe definitively discredits the AMT.