Bernard Sergent has written a book of incomparable erudition to narrate the genesis of the “composite culture” of Hinduism from what to him are the separate sources of Harappan, Dravidian, Indo-European and Austra-Asiatic elements. As part of this effort, he has tried to pinpoint the arrival of the Indo-Aryans in India, and this attempt has become the heroic failure of his book. Even in his two fields of expertise, he has not succeeded in finding decisive evidence for the Aryan invasion: in archaeology, he has not shown where a Bactrian or otherwise foreign culture crossed the Indus into India (indeed, the one entry he identifies as the Indo-Aryan invasion doesn’t get farther than Pirak in Baluchistan); and in physical anthropology, he has not been able to identify an immigration wave coinciding with the supposed aryanization of northwestern India.
religion and mythology, he has thrown a few interesting challenges to non-invasionists,
giving them some homework to do in fact-finding as well as in interpreting
the data. But here too, he has not presented any insurmountable difficulties
for a non-invasionist reading of the Harappan and Vedic information.
On the contrary, many bits of information which he has either discovered
or synthesized from secondary sources actually add substance to the emerging
outlines of a non-invasionist version of ancient Indian and Indo-European
history. For once the trite reviewer’s phrase fully applies: one
need not agree with Sergent’s position, but his work is highly thought-provoking
and bound to stimulate further research.