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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Indo-Aryans & Vedic Culture

Urdu Version

Differing theories about the Indo-Aryans and the origins of Vedic culture exist.


There are several conflicting theories about the Indo -Aryans who spoke the Sanskrit language and the origins of Vedic culture. These fall into two broad categories: (1) The Indo-Aryans migrated into the subcontinent (either through invasion or peacefully) and eventually merged with the local Indus valley population or (2) They were already a part of the indigenous population and the ensuing Vedic culture emerged through series of cultural transformations.

Migration theory

A popular theory is that the Indo-Aryans were a group of warrior nomads and cattle breeders who migrated from Central Asia between 2000 to 1500 BC passing through Iran and Turkey into what is modern day Pakistan. They moved in small groups over time and initially settled along the Swat, Gomal, Kurram, and Kabul Rivers. In line with this theory it is believed that Aryans encountered the people of the Indus Valley Civilization from whom they learned about farming techniques. Eventually the Aryans took over farm and grazing lands, as they had weapons, metal armor and horse drawn chariots. As time passed, the Aryans settled down to become an agrarian people. Support for this theory comes from archeological evidence, bronze and copper tools and weapons, found in this region with striking similarities to those found in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Aryan Migration Map
Aryan migration to India
(University of Pittsburgh)

Cultural transformation theory

Another theory is that there was no migration or invasion rather the Indo-Aryans were originally a part of the indigenous population. Vedic culture emerged through a process of several cultural transformations or adjustments. This is supported by what appears to be lack of evidence of an Aryan conquest such as the remains of horses and chariots.

Find out more

Books & Articles

Hussain, Jain. An Illustrated History of Pakistan (Book 1). Karachi: Oxford UP, 1981.

Koeller, David. “The Aryan Migrations 1500 – 1200 BC.” The Web Chronology Project. Then Again.

“The Appearance of Indo-Aryan Speakers.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Oct. 2013.