About roots of Indians (south asians) PART 1
traceable to many places in the world

by v ramchandra rao

Part 1--Some info on connections/roots of Indians (south asians) to Africans, Southeast Asians, Malaysians Indonesians, Polynesians, Papuans, China, Jewish, Palestine, Arab, Turkic, Greek, etc.

Part 2 deals with germans celts aryans etc.

Why this page? Long ago some of my friends asked how is it some people in far off lands look like their relatives, like an uncle or aunt. Apart from people who travel, now even people who watch TV often say this. So I when I tell them their observation is accurate and there is some attested link, though not commonly known, they want to know more details.

I've summarised a few of the various strands and "roots" of Indian folks. I've included some points which always come up in discussion. (Some portions of this will seem obscure to people who havent lived in India, but Indians know exactly what I am saying and why).

People were travelling migrating settling and intermarrying, all over the world over even in prehistoric ancient times. So it is understandable Indians have many strands in their origins. Note that since neolithic times the INDIGENOUS population of India has been pretty large. Hence even a big "immigration" or "influx" will pretty soon have lost itself into the huge mass, get totally mixed, but often contributing some identifiable cultural elements like language, dress, cuisine, etc apart from physical features.
But there are no "isolated" or "pure" groups who can be said to be the actual descendants of the one time newcomers. At most we can say these people seem to have some links to so and so immigrant group. Similarly there have been periodic movements of peoples from south to north, east to west, and across the border mountain ranges and seas from India to central asia, west asia, south east asia, china. Anyone who exclusively chronicles only a series of invasions is up to no good. Same applies to "outvasions" © as well. A old connection or link means people moved in BOTH directions, from and to, except in some extreme calamity like escaping from volcanos and floods. Even political refugees generally keep some links. This is of great importance but generally not looked into.

An important caution......fancy elaborate theories based on genetic samples from a microscopic number of individuals, eg. based on the still developing DNA theories, and the hidden/political/racist biases of the hypothesis and investigators and funders of investigations, and many others are crucially dependent on a set of assumptions. One of the assumptions is that there was no long distance migration and mixing in ancient times. Well.....Indian traditions tell differently. Another unavoidable assumption is a particular rate of change i.e. mutations. The researcher is forced to select a rate which may be completely wrong. And as far as India is concerned the 'Indian caste system' is not a watertight racial system as some modern writers seem to assume. For instance a caste or community may have actually been assembled by recruiting individuals from various communities and castes, including scheduled castes and forest tribals, and medieval arabs, iranians, georgians, central asian turks, ---even portuguese, english --recent europeans post 1600 AD. Read the other communities page for more, especially about brahmins.

This attested historical fact also casts doubt on the selection of samples for recent studies, which are very small anyway. Besides there is the ideological or casteist bias by the selectors out to prove some extraneous pet imaginary notion. Some of the "scientific papers" are absolute quackery and dont even bother to disguise their racism. This does not bode well for science. There are too many assumptions being mentioned merely in passing and a great deal of unsubstantiated "linguistics" and "archeology" opinions being smuggled in, to come to some very comfortable conclusions, usually placing the migrations in dim prehistory. The whole exercise is tainted. Most unscientific and full of prejudice, unfortunately. Once the sampling is suficiently widespread and the theories are laid on a firm footing , some firm conclusions will emerge. They will also confirm other sources like archeology. Till then, its open and not to be taken too seriously. Not to lose good old common sense.


(this is a sore point and several Indians, Africans and others shut their ears and eyes about this....all the more reason to discuss african connections).

Geographically speaking Africa is next door to India. Current DNA research has a new technique called haplotype analysis. Roughly speaking, Haplotypes are small patterns in a chromosome which are inherited. Over time some tiny changes might occur in an individual's haplotype. The descendants of this person also bear the modified pattern. Now consider one individual many thousands of years ago, whose descendants moved out in many directions, making many "branches". The various branches developed additional patterns in the chromosomes. Eventually when sufficient patterns are analysed, today scientists can make a rough "tree" showing the branches and sub branches. Not all "branches" are intact: sometimes the smaller branches and leaves can be found, but the branch has vanished.

Curiously, the "branches" with the least changes in patterns are all found in Africa. The scientists say this shows humans arose in Africa and wandered OUT OF AFRICA. As to when they did, there's some debate. Some say old humans like H. erectus were the persons, others say no , it was modern humans fairly recently .

Anyway to come back to our subject. Lot of ancient "african" haplotypes are found in Gujarat and West India. Need not be the ancient prehistoric travellers--could be much more recent. Also, slightly modified haplotypes which are very old, of the "early route" people are found in India all the way to Australia.

Archeologically, the Langhnaj excavations in Gujarat dated to mesolithic times revealed skeletal material of african type. Today's Gujarati siddi community (remotely from africa) has both Hindu and Muslim sections, and it is quite possible they've been in the area since very long times. One view is that they were professional sailors, not just fishermen. Then as far back as 3400BC the Indus valley people were exporting and importing merchandise with Oman, Ur ( later babylon, now Iraq), Yemen, the Horn of Africa ( ethiopia) and probably Egypt-palestine. (They probably had some version of WTO maybe?).

It is also a mistake made by ignorant people to think all africans were slaves and that they never developed anything worthwhile. The ancient Egyptian civilisation was...african....don't take my word or anybody's word for it-- take a close look yourself at the features of the people on the paintings and statues and come to your own conclusion. By all means read the various views and discussions and opinions, even the bigoted and peculiar ones. But come to your own conclusion. By the way.....some of Obama's people came from thereabouts.

Actually, there was a flourishing economy in many parts of Africa with a developed society, farmers, merchants, blacksmiths, craftsmen, weavers, builders, and so on. There may have been slaves in indigenous african society, just like in greece and rome, but the global slave trade in africa is connected with recent muslim Arabs and european-american demands.

Curiously, all the great Indian culture heroes like Krishna, Raama, Paarvati, etc are specifically said to be black in complexion. Megasthenes and Hiuen Tsang specifically note the Indian people were very dark in colour. "like ethiopians". (= not like megasthenes' people). They need not be "african" but they were dark complexioned. The Gujarat Siddis who strongly resemble Africans seem to be extremely ancient residents: there's an ancient group called "makrani negroid" in nearby Sind and coastal Baluchistan. Could be part of the old harappan civilisation. Some little statues from Indus civilisation do seem to have african features.

By the way..the usage of the term "black" is quite incorrect. Africa is a huge continent with a variety of climatic zones. Those who live in less sunny areas are fairer than the people in low lying equatorial areas. Several "blacks" are far more light skinned than many Indians. Besides there many "ethnic types" in Africa. Some of them are the very widespread Bantu, the Nilotics (masai ?), Ethiopians ( who commonly resemble Indians) the stocky west Africans (American boxers) , the elongated and tall Tutsi, the small sized Mbuti ( pigmy), the yellowish- copper-complexioned San (bushman) etc etc.

The well documented RECENT arrivals in India from Africa date from the rise of islam. Some of them were from the ancient land of Ethiopia ( abysinnia, hence they're called Abshi or Habshi). Some of them rose to high positions, like Malik Ambar (prominent in medieval deccan) and even ruled some kingdoms in north India ( jaunpur) during the sultanate times. The Konkan (western seacoast) seafaring Sidi kingdom at Janjira too is well known. Then the portuguese, for all their criminal imperial lunacies like the inquisition, didn't have a rigid color bar, also brought along some people from angola-mozambique to Goa. In any case Europeans have a great deal of African genes anyway. The Siddis' haplotypes seem to resemble those of the Bantu peoples, who originally expanded in a big way 3000 years ago in all directions over africa and likely all over europe too.

I've received emails asking about ethiopian and egyptian origins FROM India. There may be something, several ethiopians insist their folks came from prehistoric India, and the egyptians' account of their origin from the land of 'P-W-N' which could be some part of India. So also the theory of very ancient back migration after initial expansion from ancient africa (involving variants of mtDNA ~R, and Y chromosome ~YAP ). More recent is possibly the characteristic Asian K M-70, which is found all the way from Oman, Egypt, all the way to Moroco north of the sahara desert, and also in the Fulani cattlemen. Related L is very high in South India.....eelam-dravidian? more later).

In short all Indians have primitive 'african' genes like anyone else in the world and it is no big deal.

Africans and others too getting a bit suspicious about all the fancy theories

South East Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia , Philippines

Madagascar on coast of Africa was settled in prehistoric times by people from Indonesia-Malaysia and enroute, they must have dropped anchor in ports on the Indian coast. ( these people were crossing the Indian ocean --blue water, not coastline--thousands of years before "europeans" learnt to paddle on rafts in ponds...so much for good old magellan and daGama ;-). ( Maybe such Asians brought DNA YAP marker to africa? (you read this here first :-) Or maybe YAP spread by fairly late migration by ship FROM africa).
Anyway back to madagascar. According to Dr. Martin Richards whom I asked about DNA evidence of this migration, seems they originated somewhere around Borneo and they were actually the ancestors of the later malayo-polynesians (see below) and they arrived in madagascar around 5000 years ago, but this was before the Bantus (africans) arrived there.
By the way.... if they could move such vast distances across the open oceans, it means they could easily sail up along the atlantic coast of Africa all the way to Iberia and Britain and beyond. (Coastal sailing would be no big deal for sailors who could successfully tackle the hurricanes of the Indian ocean....maybe they tackled hurakans too...)

In India, from north Andhra hills, Orissa all the way to Assam and Myanmar there are several similarities in culture and even looks to people of malaysia -Indonesia....all of southeast asia in fact. (--confirmed by DNA studies.) Apart from the prehistoric connections, throughout history there's been brisk commerce , shipping and trade to south east asia from the regions along the east coast particularly Orissa, Andhra and Tamilnad. A large number of people from south and southeastern India settled all over south east asia, and in some cases founded new states too, they also kept in close touch with the Indian mainland. For nearly two thousand years. Do you think the traffic was only one way? Take an example--one section of the Iyers (undisputed pucca brahmans, heh) share genes with thailand and south china people, these genes are not found in other similar brahmins. But how did those genes come HERE? Most likely by this ocean trade rather than yunnan. In fairly recent times post 1100 AD vaishnavite elements were introduced in Thailand court culture, too. Among the the local (indian) hill tribes in India are a group who show mon khmer culture....and also seem to have some cultural connection, of all things, to ancient harappan culture.


Polynesians were the world's greatest sailors who effortlessly traversed the immense distances across the huge pacific ocean...and certainly left marks on the east coast of India, as can be seen by characteristic place names....in fact Velinga-Kalinga-Telinga may be polynesian names. Read Sylvain Levi and Bagchi for more on this. I've mentioned Dr. Richard's work above. Curious :--the Easter island writing on tablets looks very similar to Harappan script....and both are undeciphered. Could be a polynesian connection again.
Could be the legends of the people of Bali Chakravarti who migrated to Paatala, which may be south america.

The Maoris (New Zealand) say their ancestors came from India in the remote past. According to some researchers it wasnt so remote, only about 600 AD(?). Lets hear it from the Maoris. (according to a friend the maoris are noting the second wave underway...)

Papua ---I've noted a strong resemblance to papuans-new guineans-native fijians among some people on the eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh and several people of Tamilnadu and Kerala. Could be some very ancient contacts. (this is just an observation, needs research and study. Near-clones of Native Fijians can be seen in India. A royal ritual resembling the aryan Raajasuya yagna is said to be found in native Fijian culture.
Certain peoples from Papua New Guinea seen in travel programmes on TV, speak in a sing song cadence EXACTLY like some dialects of malayalam. They LOOK like kerala people too. Certainly there is a deep connection. ( ...bali chakravarti migrating to paatala..?)

Korea and further:

In later times ships from India regularly traded all the way up to Korea, Japan and maybe further. A section of Koreans say they are descnded from an Indian princess from Ayodhya. Anyway, there was a brisk cultural exchange going on for the last two thousand years all the way to Japan from the east coast of India.


Prehistoric evidence of goods from south India are found at old south chinese ports ( ~1000 bc). Immigrants from yunnan/across himalayas -tibet settled in north eastern areas of India long ago and may have roamed as far as south India.( confirmed : old gene patterns characteristic of south east asia --haplotypes like M95 -- are quite high in "primitive" southern Indian tribes.) Apart from some of the North East hill peoples, even north Bengalis often resemble Chinese or even Japanese folk.
In the extreme west of China, Yarkand-Kashgar jungaria areas of central asia were the gateway to china, the old silk road went through here. The early Tocharians who lived there spoke language connected to vedic ~sanskrit with a 'C'haracteristic difference. Besides kushan kings ruled here too.

Then Tibet, in spite of the himalayas, always had a brisk trade with the plains of India. Right now the tibetans are a bit down, but in history they've invaded what is north china several times. (no wonder the chinese are wary of them). So the movements of peoples are attested. With the chinese interest in Buddhism there were a large number of travellers between china and India for a very long time. The little known Oriya, less known Tamil and fairly well known Kerala martial arts have a link to south china --e.g. shaolin temple. Ask the monks there for more details.

Apart from this, brisk commerce and trade was known between Japan-China-Korea-Champa (Vietnam) -- Laos-Kambhoja-Sumatra-Java-Sulawesi/Indonesia, Malaysia, -Suvarnadesa (Myanmar) etc etc and the entire east coast of India, right from Srilanka, Tamilnadu, Andhra to Orissa, for thousands of years.
Again, no big surprise if so called "mongoloid" or "south east asian" genes are found, not just in "ancient tribes". The surprise is only for people lacking knowledge of history or very heavy prejudiced notions and can't see past european 15th century 'achievements'.

Keep this in mind: Each, and ANY history is written from a particular standpoint, and currently most of the stuff is written from a very recent "european" standpoint. That's why there are these ridiculous statements like "columbus discovered America". Discovered for whom? 16th century europeans, that's who. More likely Celts and Vikings and ancient Japanese/ South-East Asians ( ancestors of na dene speaking Amerinds--this has been confirmed), Siberian-Machurian-Inuit and possibly West African black traders regularly visited America thousands of years ago.

"Cook discovered Australia" --in your dreamtime pal. There were folks already there who 'discovered' it some 50,000 years ago, besides the neighbours like Indonesians and Polynesians were perfectly familiar with it.

Phoenicians (~palestine) were great sea traders and may have visited India. ( There is some evidence for this, not just fancy.) The Italians ( Romans ) used to complain in their senate the Andhra Satavahanas were ripping them off in gold for spices and textiles. There was a colony of Italian merchants in Tamilnadu, besides the Italians were employed as bodyguard-soldiers by Pallava kings becasue they were somewhat dim and couldnt speak tamil, hence not likely to get into palace intrigues. ( so Sonia is not really a stranger, her folks used to drop in here as long ago as 300 BC ;-)

The jews traded all the world over from ancient times. There are very old jewish communities in India, one is called bene israeli (but they strongly resemble their hindu neighbours). There are later jewish settlers from Armenia, etc in other parts of India as well. One famous hindu brahmin (!) community is said to be derived from around 1600 AD, in part from jewish trader families shipwrecked on the west coast of India. Not only they merged completely without much traces of their ancestry (except looks), went totally native rapidly, and due to hard work (and a few other things ;-), even got promoted socially all the way to the top. All the other local communities mutter under their breath once in a while about 'yavans' and 'mussads' but they also unhesitatingly acknowledge the contribution to society.

There's some evidence that such communities (including some other brahmin communities) are actually descended from central asian ephthal Huns, and Khazars/Gujars. One section of the Khazars later became the ashkenazi section of jews.

Arabs : Desert Arabs were well versed in astronomical navigation, since desert doesnt have signposts/roads, so they became great travellers and merchants on sea as well. Besides, as long ago as Harappan times lot of contacts are attested between India with iraq (Ur, babylon, mesopotamia), Yemen and south Arabia (--the old civilisation of the stories of queen of Sheba, etc). It is possible some parts of arabia suddenly dried up and people were forced to migrate in all directions...this ancient connection has come up in genetic studies too. In recent times after the Arabs took up islam there was a discernable arab immigration, of course, particularly in lower Sind. There were some Arab commanders and governors appointed by the chalukyas in Gujarat. (horses were imported in large numbers.)


Even before the turks took up islam there were well known hindu turkish kingdoms in Afghanistan and large population of Hindu Turks (the Hindushahi kings of kabul, later rajputs) and probably Buddhist Turks too. (This is not well known: some muslim friends were very upset about this because they fondly assumed turks=muslim, till I also pointed out the turks converted to islam very recently, and both the early pre-muslim turks and mongols happily massacred muslims (arabs and persians) in the caliphates. For some reason that cheered them up a lot. (not a joke, they said something about prophecies).

Some historians say Kushans' army was mostly made up of Turks, similarly Mongol army had large numbers of Turks. Emperor Kanishka the Kushan was despatched in his extreme old age by suffocating him in a carpet, in the mongolian style prescribed for nobles. By the way the people of Turkey are called anatolians, the turkish tribes from asia conquered the place and gave the modern name. Old Mughal portraits of "turks" depict mongol- like ethnic features --for instance babur, and they don't really resemble the people of today's Turkey --who do resemble Hittite and similar sculptures, though. Probably the ethnic turkish features got blended away, or the immigrants were numerically rather small. Or maybe the old altai turks, kok-turks khazars hungarians etc were genetically M 17, the same as older scythian sarmatians, and different from medieval eastern turks and mongols. Before the Turkish tribes took over Anatolia it was the Eastern Roman empire. (byzantium, constantinople, etc).


Or more correctly, Macedonian. The Persians always tried to take over europe via greece. But on one occasion, taking advantage of the oppressive nature of persian rule, the Greeks had managed to overrun Persia, so they started getting new ideas. But Alexander 's army got its backside whipped on the Sindhu river ( Indus) by a couple of small border kings and tribal republics so they wisely fished out some excuses and decided to return home--and retreated with very heavy losses because they were constantly attacked and plundered by various tribes and peoples all the way back. In the north of afghanistan the greeks were stationed in garrisons to protect the retreat of the main army and this eventually created little kingdoms in central asia. These little kingdoms are called "Bactrian greeks" but they soon disappeared into the mass, and were swept away by other peoples like the scythians and the local tribal confederacies. Some of the demobilised greek soldiers decided to try their luck further east, and briefly managed to take over pockets between Punjab and Mathura and some even reached Bihar. Then they disappeared. (...or did they merge into some identifiable communities? wait for new genetic findings coming soon)

By the way Alexander's little raid does not figure AT ALL in traditional Indian history, unlike in Persian history, and made no impact even on folk traditions. Not to be chauvinist or superpatriotic or anything --- this is a fact and needs to be kept in mind. --alexander who? Anyway, to keep them occupied....try this...the widespread name iskander and sikander is likely to be derived from SKANDA not necessarily alexander. Skanda is the deity of war for many tribes down the ages.(Including the later Goths ...Jordanes erroneously ascribed them of SKANDInavian origin ). It is only during the English entry in India that alexander became significant and used by europeans to fix dates. (which also is debatable). As a matter of fact attested by the greek writers, like many modern visitors Alex was zapped and went native, almost became a hippy :-). (...I think he just got hooked on spicy masala curry, if not ghee parathas.)
He went to meet a hermit who had refused to come to see him. When he proclaimed who he was and grandly said "ask for anything!" the old man who was sitting in the sun, looked up, squinted and said "well, get out of my sunshine".

The soldiers alexander left behind became indogreeks --" yavana "--- and a couple of them distinguished themselves, like Menander (milinda) and Heliodorus (who was an early Bhagavata vaishnava ). Greek (yavana, likely central asian greeks) businessmen on the other hand used to trade with India from much earlier times, and had a couple of port establishments on the arabian sea north of today's Mumbai and one in south gujarat. Curiously, Greeks and some Indian communities like Goud Sarasvats share a very high occurence of a rare blood disease. ( they LOOK similar too). Might be ancient central asian origins of both the groups, for example indogreeks of bactria and punjab, or the partly slavic ancestors of modern greeks.



news, notes and jottings here

NEW-- this is what the ancestral people of India looked like.

Please send your additions, suggestions and questions too

back to index of cultural stuff, other communities too

© by v ramchandra rao | all rights reserved.|email vramrao@yahoo