Prof. H. Oldenberg* says that the immigrants into India who called themselves Aryans were fair skinned, and the natives whom they conquered were dark people, "unbelievers that propitiate not the Gods." "It was the period of migrations, of endless turbulent feuds among small unsettled tribes with their nobles and priests; people fought for pastures, and cows and arable land." There were no cities, the Aryans building these later. They made the beginnings of the great old Vedic poems* very early before they had overrun India or reached the Ganges, for the Indus was called their "mother stream," and this great beginning was all made before they knew how to write, and all their poetry was orally transmitted. They learned writing from Semites, as did their cousins who wandered into Greece. The oldest of the Vedas give internal evidence that they were composed by military chieftains or conquerors - a parallel case to the Homeric poems. The later Vedas were composed by priests.
The Semites had entered India centuries or millenniums before the Aryans, but their writing was so crude that it was used only for short memoranda, perhaps business notes, never for books. Even the Buddhists, of 400 B.C., had no literature or manuscripts. The monks carried on their knowledge by oral tradition only. Their scholars were "rich in hearing," not rich in reading or "well read." They learned from each other and purely by memory, carrying back and forth between different monasteries the formulae for prayers and confessions.
It is significant that this very earliest literature - the Rig Veda - shows a decay. The authors were elaborating the ideas of the rude, brainy, blond invader. Perhaps, indeed, some of them were the Semitic or Turanian types which occupied the land. By the time of Buddha the literature shows such degeneration that we cannot escape the conclusion that the Aryan originators of the thoughts were dead or that their descendants were half-breeds - Eurasians. Our scholars are not yet determined how much has been inserted into the Rig Veda. It is a problem they are now working upon, but sufficient is known already to give us a much clearer idea of the life of these savage Teutons of India than Tacitus has given us of their blood relatives, the barbarians of Germania. They were blond conquering shepherd chieftains, brainy men, with a sternly practical religion which is closely related to Northern European religions, but more primitive because Northern religions evolved considerably after the Sanskrit speakers left. Even the Rig Veda shows that there was a great evolution to noble and high forms, and indicates a very brainy people. It was a pity they did not survive longer - a few centuries, perhaps a few generations, ended them. Their younger brethren who later went to the better climate of Greece, survived much longer and evolved a higher religion.
* "Ancient India," Open Court Pub. Co.
* "Rig Veda".
The Eastern migrants hesitated a long time on the Iranian plateau before they were numerous enough to go through the passes into India, and in this resting period they evolved much of their philosophy, so that there is a close relation between the religion of the Veda and that of Zoroaster. The Iranian spiritual ruler was Ahura Mazda or Ormuzd, the Indian became Varuna, and neither can be traced to Greece. Oldenberg says, "Faith in their chief protector of the right, extends backward into the epoch when the ancestors of the Indians still formed one people with the ancestors of the Iranians, as they hesitated on the threshold of the Indian peninsula".
"The tribes who had originally settled as shepherds in the northwest corner of the peninsula, and who were still close to the gates by which they had shortly before entered India, had, in the meantime, penetrated still further. Having taken possession of a broad domain stretching down the Ganges, the period of migration and of conquest over the obscure aborigines is over. Cities have long since risen in the midst of the villages in which had lived the herd owners of the older time - some of them were great municipalities, seats of all the commotion and activity of splendid despotic Oriental courts, where commerce and manufactures are highly developed, where life receives zest from a voluptuously refined luxury, and where have become established sharp social differentiations of rich and poor, master and slave" (Oornill).
The first evidence of Aryans given to us by Semitic history refers to the Northern Elamites who, eventually, overthrew the Semitic Assyrian government. Among them were tall, slender types with straight nose, blue eyes, and fair hair - independent mountaineers from beyond Susiana, and relatives of the Medes and Persians "that call themselves Aryans." It is to be noted that residence in these cold mountains permits survival of blond types which perish in the lowlands. Later came the wars with the Medes and Persians from the plateau of Iran to the East and North of the Mesopotamian plains. They must have been in this plateau some time to have built up those strong kingdoms. They were undoubtedly very rude men when they arrived. For centuries they were as little able to overrun the strong Semitic kingdoms of these Southern plains as the Germans were able to enter the Roman Empire of the first Caesars. It was a very long resting time, for some branches had poured down the Eastern passes into India a long time before - several centuries prior to the first eruption of the Medes through the Western passes into Assyria, in 606 B.C. The like eruption of the Persians under Cyrus into Babylonia was in 538 B.C., after first destroying the Median kingdom twelve years before. In this long time they developed a high civilization from that rude form shown by the Rig Veda. It is interesting to note that the Babylonian Semites built the great Median wall from the Tigris to the Euphrates, to keep out these rude Northerners, and the Chinese built their wall for an identical purpose.
Aryan influences were carried to India a second time by the conquests of Alexander, and lasted some time. Indeed, a Greek king, Menander, ruled over Northwestern India about 100 B.C. Then there came another long intermission in which the civilizations drifted back to lower forms about on a par with the pre-Aryan Mediterranean cultures. India remained in this condition for sixteen centuries until Aryan influences for the last time were brought in by the Dutch and French and English.
A new civilization is now being thrust upon peoples wholly unable to support it unaided, so that if Europeans were to withdraw, India would relapse, and in fifty years England would scarcely be a memory as described so well by Meredith Tovmsend in his book, "Asia and Europe".
The history of mathematics points to the fact that the earliest civilized peoples who were Turanian or Semitic were not nearly as high intellectually as the later Aryan waves which went south. The first extensive mathematical treatise was that of the Egyptian Ahmes, somewhere between 1700 and 2000 B.C., and he seems merely to have compiled from earlier works. It was a very low grade of arithmetic, mostly tables of experiments in numbers, its highest point being the theory of arithmetical progression. Though he solved linear algebraic equations of one unknown and found the area of a circle to be eight-ninths of the enclosing square, yet he made errors in geometry (area of isosceles triangle - base X by one-half of the equal sides), and could not extract the square root. Then came a dark age, for there were no further mathematical discoveries in Egypt for over 1000 years. Perhaps the people who made the prior discoveries were all dead. It was the next wave from the North which took it up - the Greeks of the seventh century B.C., who had been in Greece only a few centuries as a Baltic aristocracy. They went to Egypt and other countries to learn mathematics as it existed, and then they developed the science wonderfully in the hands of Pythagoras, Aristotle, Euclid, Zeno and greatest of all - Archimedes. Then this race died and there was little advance for another thousand years or so, until still later peoples from the Baltic took up the matter. Indeed, it was 2000 years after the Greek advances, that conic sections were thought out. Then came Kepler, Newton and other Northerners to push the science to its present development.