March of the Aryans book review by Ram Jethmalani – An Odyssey

An Odyssey

MARCH OF THE ARYANS by Bhagwan S. Gidwani

Review by Ram Jethmalani
Former Minister of Law & Justice, India


March of the Aryans –
By:Bhagwan S. Gidwani
ISBN- 978-0-143-41898-6
Publisher: Penguin Books, India; 2012/2013; pages:657

As a person born and brought up in Sindh for the first twenty-five years of my life, I always felt that there was something special about that part of the country. Its people lived in peace and wealth was not their dominant pursuit. There was a strange air of spiritual and cultural unity which one missed elsewhere.

During the formative years of my life, history that was taught to me assumed that the civilization of the world had begun with Greece and that India was a hotbed of barbarism until the Aryans, cousins of the Europeans, brought refinement and knowledge to a backward and benighted sub-continent. Something made me feel that this was wrong. But this remained only an unverified intuition until the Mohan-jo-daro and Harappa discoveries began to illuminate our knowledge of ourselves. Sir John Marshal and his Indian collaborators made us feel proud that when letters and arts were still unknown to the city of Athens and when scarcely a thatched hut stood on what afterwards became the site of Rome, India could boast of a breathtakingly advanced civilization. Let Sir John speak for himself:

“These discoveries established the existence in Sindh (the northernmost province of Bombay Presidency) and the Punjab, during the fourth and third millennium B.C. of a highly developed city life …”

The similarity of artifacts discovered in distant Sumeria, similarity of language, rituals, beliefs and names of gods clearly suggested that the ancient civilizations of Europe and the Middle East had one common source of inspiration in India. That the Aryans never came to India, but originated in India itself was a much more reasonable hypothesis than the one in favor – namely, that the Aryans invaded and conquered the flourishing inhabitants of India as a part of the process whereby periodically the barbarian North had swept down violently upon the more sophisticated but physically feeble South.

And now comes my friend Bhagwan S. Gidwani, who burst upon the literary scene with his gripping but somewhat controversial book, The Sword of Tipu Sultan, with another masterpiece vastly superior to the first. His first work encompassed a few years of the history of South India. But his magnum opus, Return of the Aryans and now his March of the Aryans which is an adaptation of his earlier work, Return of the Aryans, take us back to almost the dawn of mankind.

Gidwani tells us the story of how the Hindu civilization flourished in Sindh and coexisted with other advanced civilizations in the Gangetic region and the south of India – the land of Tamala. He weaves the story of these three sister civilizations round a remarkable character whom he calls Sindhu Putra. His birth is shrouded in mystery, but Gidwani would have us believe that it was around the year 5068 B.C. and the location was the bank of Indus not where it joins the Arabian Sea but deep in the interior of what is now the province of Pakistan.

Sindhu Putra was born with two passions, one to unite the Hindus and all other tribes that inhabited the then known parts of Bharat Varsha, and second, to eradicate slavery and the misery and the loss of human dignity that went with it. Despite hostility and obstruction from lesser mortals, Sindhu Putra succeeded in his mission until hired assassins struck and stabbed him to death much in the manner in which some disgruntled elements put an end to the mortal life of Mahatma Gandhi. It is a most absorbing tale of kings, statesmen, poets, seers, gods, battles and romance.

The story, though not in the form of a novel, is not fiction. It is well documented and carries the stamp of scholarship and plausibility. The death of Sindhu Putra brought to the surface the evils, which his spiritual influence had kept in check for long. Sindhu Putra had wondered how God could co-exist with so much evil, but he reflected that God does not of his own volition choose to interfere with the world of man. Man moves his own world by his own actions, by his own will and by his own karma.

India quickly became the scene of strife and violence, of which the followers of Sindhu Putra became the victims. Wicked lords and mighty barons ruled the roost. The faithful felt rejected in the land of their birth. The rejected were the Aryans. Their sorrow and suffering were redeemed, however, by one common belief – that Sindhu Putra was not dead; instead he reigned elsewhere. Hundreds of songs were composed and sung to propagate this encouraging creed. The Aryans must discover the Holy Land to which the spirit of Sindhu Putra had migrated.

Thus began one mighty wave after another of Aryans going out of India in all directions. No point of the compass was left out. “Escapees, we are not, nor vagrants, nor aimless wanderers. But pilgrims we are, in search of Gods land, pure and free. . . .” became the refrain of their songs and the mission of their life thenceforward.

Gidwani then enthralls us with a story of Aryans on the move, their strange adventures, experiences, successes and frustrations, encounters with nature, disasters and survival.

But the land of Sindhu Putra was never found or reached. It dawned on them that with all its faults, Bharat Varsha was better than the rest of the world into which they had tumbled in their futile search. To this land they finally decided to return. True they picked up local inhabitants from all the regions in which they had tried to settle. But by and large, it was a homecoming for the Aryans, not an invasion or a conquest. There the story ends.

But it is not a mere story of people on the move. It is also a history of human thought, more particularly of the variegated strands of Hindu thought and the metaphysical search of the Hindu mind. The Vedas and the Upanishads were the glorious, though late, products of the amazingly inquisitive Aryan mind that had not been ensnared by dogma or commitment to any small god.

Gidwani gives us the glimpses of the questions that agitated the Aryan mind that sought to probe the mystery of this unintelligible world. The answers too are foreshadowed, but none dogmatically put across as final or free from doubt.

March of the Aryans and Return of the Aryans are the two books that should be read again and again, and the more they are read, the more will there be treasures to discover.

None should miss reading these two great books.

Ram Jethmalani

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