The news of the Tamil Nadu archaeological department unearthing traces of civilisation that are about 3,200 years old is heartening, but the statements that came from the ministers of the province, carried away by the historicity of the moment, are misplaced. This is no north Indian dismissal of south Indian pride. India is one, and the Aryan-Dravidian divide among the Hindu people is nothing but a British-Marxist conspiracy to induce low self-esteem in the indigenous people, which would facilitate a rule by the West, the colonialists had strategised during their rule. While communists here are perhaps too rigid and embarrassed to revise their history any more than from Aryan “invasion” to Aryan “migration”, Indologists in the West, after leaving the Hindu land, did find that the immigrants from central Asia 5,200 years ago had actually been descendants of the emigrants of India, mostly farmers, who had moved towards Persia 7,000-8,000 years ago during a period of drought in the territory that remains with India. In southern India, the world has known for years, civilisation existed off the south-eastern coast of the country in a part that is now submerged under the Bay of Bengal.
Propagandists would not like the world to recall that the 2002 discovery of a drowned Dwarka off the coast of Gujarat under the Arabian Sea’s Gulf of Cambay, dating back to about 9,000 years in the past, had long ago proven that the much-talked-of Indus (Sindhu or Hindu) Valley Civilisation is not the oldest example of humanity living in an organised society in India. But the evidence of maritime activities near the coasts of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal, dated by archaeologists back to 5000 BC, is rarely recalled. Then, on 1 April, again in 2002, a joint team of divers from the Indian National Institute of Oceanography and the Scientific Exploration Society based in Dorset, UK, discovered off the coast of Mahabalipuram a lost city that could be 5,000 years old. And coming to landlocked places in mainland India, geologists from IIT-Kharagpur had established that the holy city of Varanasi is at least 8,000 years old. Fossils of the domesticated horse, the Equus ferus caballus Linn, were found in and around Prayagraj dated 2265 BC to 1480 BC and in Karnataka from 1500 BC to 1300 BC.
So, what was that renewed assertion of a ‘civilisation older than Indus Valley’, coming from Chief Minister MK Stalin, all about? Of course, India is the oldest civilisation, but the recent ‘Porunai’ archaeological excavations along River Thamiraparani have not brought evidence of the oldest among the nation’s antiquities. But how are the above relics of a civilisation called “Hindu”? Because the findings point at prehistoric and ancient belief systems that continue to be subscribed, observed and practised by the natives of the country that identify themselves as Hindu.