From Africa to India
For more than a century, the only human migrations to India that were discussed at length ware based on AIT and AMT theories. AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) and AMT (Aryan Migration Theory) had its merits. But they had lost all the strength due to lack of solid evidence. The genetic studies conducted all over the world, has revealed that there has been no large scale genetic addition to India and regions around it, from other regions (except from Africa) to signify an invasion or migration. This is especially true for the 2000 BC to 1000 BC time period, which is mentioned as the time period within which the Aryans invaded or migrated to India. There was some migration from north or north west to India occurred as per genetic analysis, but earlier than 15000 BC. This time period is too early and the AIT or AMT theorists themselves have problem to choose such an early date for Aryan invasion or migration to India, since it will shatter other assumptions of the theory related to the spread of Indo-European languages to Europe and those related to other civilizations in Central Asia, West Asia, Greece and Eastern Europe.
On the contrary, the genetic studies as well as analysis of Ancient Indian literature, points to a large scale outflow from India to rest of Asia. Though there were some minor movements of people from north of Himalaya to India (which also is indicated in the literature, like I mentioned in the article Migration of the Aila tribe), the major movement of people was from India to the rest of Asia.
See this excellent illustration of Human Migration from Africa to the rest of the world through India by Stephen Oppenheimer:- Stephen Oppenheimer provides a virtual global journey of modern man over the last 160000 years.
Our species of humans Homo Sapiens originated in Africa around 150,000 years ago. Human migrations from Africa started 100,000 years ago and moved out of Africa around 70,000 years ago. A major portion of that migration, was received by India starting from 50,000 to 40,000 years ago. This is the only large scale migration to India. It is this migration that populated India with humans for the first time.
Human Migration along sea coasts and mighty rivers
The population that migrated from Africa, towards India, traveled along the eastern sea-coast of Africa, then along the eastern sea-coast of Arabian peninsula, and then spread into the western sea coast of India and the finally eastern sea coast of India. Thus the entire coastal region of India was populated. From the eastern sea coast of India it spread to the sea coasts of south-east-Asia and beyond, to Australia. When the population reached the western sea coast of India, they also migrated along the large rivers that drained into Arabian sea. One among the mighty rivers that drained thus into sea was the river Saraswati and the other was the river Sindhu. The ancient Indian population thus migrated from the western sea coast of India to northwards along these rivers. They spread along the valleys of these rivers and then spread along its tributaries also. Thus they spread all around the five rivers of Punjab. They also traced Saraswati river and its tributaries originating in the Himalayas and thus crossed the Himalayas reaching the Manasa Lake (the Manasa Saras of Mahabharata) in Tibet, which is considered to be the northern origin of ancient Saraswati and Sindhu rivers. Along the tributaries of Sindhu, like the Kabul River (Sanskrit: Kubha) they also spread to north-western regions of India like Afganistan. From Saraswati river this ancient people spread to river Yamuna and Ganga and its tributaries. Similarly along the sea shores of India, the population spread into the interior of India along the rivers like Narmada, Tapati, Kaveri, Krishnavenna, Godavari and Mahanadi that drained into sea, and penetrated further along the tributaries of these rivers. People from these rivers and those from Sindhu, Saraswati, Yamuna and Ganga were then completely mixed giving rise to the ancient population of India.
Manu, Satyavati, Vyasa, Saraswata, Matsya and the fish
People migrating from Africa predominantly depended upon sea food. Fishing was a major occupation. So they always sought sea shore. They found the big rivers like Saraswati and Sindhu also suitable for their living, since these rivers also contained plenty of sea food, especially fish. Some of the ancient kingdoms or settlements were thus created by the fishermen community. They were called the Matsyas in Mahabharata and in other ancient Indian texts. Matsya means 'fish' in Sanskrit. As per Indian texts (the epics and the Puranas), Manu is mentioned as the earliest king of humanity. It is from the name 'Manu', that the words Manushya' (Sanskrit), 'Manava' (Sanskrit), 'Man' (English) and 'Human' (English) arose. All of them is used to denote a member of the human race. Manu was one among the ancient Matsya chiefs. He is mentioned as escaping from the great flood. The Great Flood was an important event kept in the memory of all humans who migrated from Africa. It is found in the oral traditions and literature of almost all civilizations. It happened around 7000 BC to 5000 BC). The location of this incidence could be anywhere along the many migratory paths taken by humans. Probable locations are, the eastern sea shore of Africa, western sea shore of the Arabian peninsula, the Mediterranian_Sea, the Black_Sea or the western sea shore of India where the Saraswati river joined the sea. It is also possible that this flood like situation occurred in all of these places at the same time or at different times. Flood could be a reason for people to migrate from one place to other. In any case, Manu is informed about the coming of the flood by a certain 'Matsya'. Later Indian texts interpret this 'Matsya' to be a fish, and in much later texts, this Matsya is mentioned as an incarnation of Vishnu. I consider the Matsya who informed Manu about the flood to be a fisher-man, or a member of the fisher-men tribe (the Matsya tribe).
The name Manu also can be seen as transforming into Manoah, which can then transform into Noah, the Bibilcal equivalent of Manu, in saving the human race from the flood. Among the sons of Manu, was Uttanapada 1, mentioned in many ancient Indian texts. In Mahabharata he is mentioned as the father of Dhruva. In the Babylonian flood-story, he is mentioned as Utnapishtim or Uta-na-pistim, the king of Shuruppak / Shurrupak (Surupaka?) and as the savior of Babylonians from the great flood!. Thus the great flood witnessed during the time of Manu became the story of the flood witnessed by his son Uttanapada. Thus the history of flood might have spread to the whole world through generations of oral traditions. But the person who saved people from the flood, or urged them to migrate to safer places, changed from somebody to Manu, from Manu to Uttanapada, from Uttanapada to somebody who was contemporary to or lived in recent times, with respect to the time period of each generation. Thus it became Noah mentioned in the Bible too. Uttanapada's son, Dhruva became very famous. The pole star, which the ancient astronomers found to be remaining constant in the sky was named 'Dhruva'. It was this star that is mentioned in the Bible, as the guiding star, which guided the travelers from the east on their way to meet Jesus in Jerusalem. The pole star was used as a navigational aid in those days by travelers, since it indicates the direction of the north accurately.
The Matsya culture and the Matsya settlements in India were spread through out the coastal region of India as well as across the Saraswati, Sindhu river valleys. This culture later matured into a great civilization that generated the Vedas on the banks of river Saraswati. Vyasa the sage who is considered as the arranger (classifier or divider) of the Vedas is mentioned as the son of a Matsya woman or princess Satyavati. Thus the connection of the Vedas to the Matsyas is very strong. Another sage Saraswata is mentioned in Mahabharata, as teaching the Vedas to many thousand sages after a long period of gap. The long period of gap is mentioned as due to the drying up of the river Saraswati. Due to this drying up people who lived along the banks of Saraswati, had to leave and hence created a break in the oral transmission of the Vedas. Sage Saraswata, who stayed on the banks of Saraswati is mentioned as re-establishing that oral tradition again.
Emergence of a civilization
In the whole of the region near Saraswati, now in Rajasthan, there were many Matsya kingdoms, as mentioned in Mahabharata. One among them was the kingdom of king Virata. It lied to the east of the dried up Saraswati river, indicating a migration from Saraswati to the east. Kuru kingdom lied to the north of this Matsya kingdom. There were many Matsya kingdoms that lied along the northern course of Saraswati river and along the Yamuna river, which lied close to Saraswati. Satyavati, who became the queen of the Kuru king Santanu was from one of these kingdoms, since she is mentioned as a daughter of a Matsya chief who ruled in a Matsya settlement on the banks of river Yamuna.
The lineage of the Kurus are traced to Tibet again close to the Manasa lake in Tibet which I have referred in the article on the Origins of Aila Kings. This lineage thus is the same people who migrated to Tibet along the northern course of Saraswati and Sindhu rivers. Thus in the union of Satyavati and Santanu we find the union of two tribes, the Matsyas who migrated slowly along Saraswati to north and the Aila-Puru-Bharata-Kurus who migrated quickly to north to reach the north-west and Tibet following the northern course of Saraswati, Sindhu and their northern tributaries, who then migrated again southwards crossing the Himalayas from the Tibeten side to Saraswati in Kurukshetra as well as to Ganga and Yamuna.
Other tribes mentioned as lying on the banks of Saraswati are Sudras and Abhiras. The Sudras were again can be considered as tribes similar in occupation to the Matsya tribe, probably more focused on farming rather than fishing on the banks of Saraswati and Sindu. They were also known as Suras, probably identical to the Sauviras (Sauvira > Sura > Sudra). The Abhiras were traders. We also know that trade, supported by agriculture was an important aspect of the Indus Valley or Saraswati-Sindhu-Civilization. In the remote past, the city of Kusasthali which later became Dwaraka that lied close to where Saraswati merged with the sea, became a great sea-port and center of trade and commerce. It was well connected with the regions later occupied by Indus valley cities and Saraswati valley settlements. It had trade-routes or roads linking it along the Sindhu river with kingdoms like Sindhu, Sauvira, Sivi, Madra, Kekaya, Gandhara and Kamboja as well as with other trade routes like the Uttarapatha. Thus a grand trading civilization flourished in the Sindhu-Saraswati river valley.
The missing link of Mount Meru
Thus we find all the element of the puzzle suddenly making sense. The human-migration from Africa to India, the fishing culture, the Matsyas, the Vedas, the Kurus, the Sindhu-Saraswati civilization, Dwaraka, the links between all these are now finally emerging. However my attention also shift to the Meru mountain. Meru is mentioned in Mahabharata and other epics as the center of the world. Thus ancient Indians gave a central place to Meru. Interestingly Meru is a mountain peak in Africa, from where the humans (including the would-be Indians) started their migration! It is not only Mount Meru, there are other place names like the Arusha_Region and the Usa River around Meru, that sounds like Sanskrit words. Mount Meru is the 5th highest peak in Africa and 2nd highest in Tanzania. It is 4566 meters in height. The Arusha region is a region surrounding the Mount Meru. In Mahabharata, Arushi is mentioned as a daughter of Manu. Arushi can also be translated as a person belonging to the Arusha region. The regional capital of Arusha region and its major city is Arusha. Towards the east of this city is the river Usa. In many Indic texts, Usha is mentioned as the goddess of sun-rise (which take place in the east). In Mahabharata Usha is mentioned as an epithet of the sun-god. Again in Mahabharata a lake named Usanasa is mentioned on the banks or Saraswati river. A great king named Usangava (also as Ushangu is mentioned in connection with Yama (and Shiva) who is connected to southern regions (an indication of Africa?). Another person Ushampa also is mentioned connected to Yama (thus with southern regions). A king in the line of Yadu also is mentioned by the name Ushadgu. Sage Usana or Usanas is mentioned as a priest of the Asuras, who is also known as Sukra. Another sage Ushango mentioned as from the western region (Africa also is to the west of India).
Thus there is a possibility that the group that migrated from Africa and settled in India, could be originally living close to (south of) Mount Meru of Tanzania. They might have taken the memory of Meru, of Arusha region and of Usa river while they migrated to India. Where ever they found a high mountain peak, they might have called it Meru. Thus when they reached northern Sindhu river banks, Afganistan and the Himalayas, they might have identified some mountain peak in Pamir_Mountains or in the Himalayas also as Meru.
There are also several place name in Africa, with the word 'Kam' forming part of the name. The word Kam in African dialects mean 'a place'. This word is also found in tribe names like Kamboja or Kamvoja. This also shows the African connection of the people migrated to India.