When reading the books on Hinduism, we frequently encounter the familiar clichés such as “Hinduism is a very old religion... sanatana dharma i.e. the Eternal Spiritual Tradition of India” (Lal, 2002, 133), “The Vedas are.. recognized .. as the most ancient literature in the world. the term 'sanatana' is often used to highlight this quality.” (Prinja, 1996, 7)
Narratives of autochthonous Aryans, who were authors of Vedas as well as the Harappan civilization, is one of them. The supporters of the militant Hindu cultural nationalism uncritically accepted these various clichés, while group of scholars try to prove their arguments by giving historical evidences.
B. B. Lal is one of the prominent figures to justify these arguments in the field of archaeology. As the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1968 to 1972, he worked on the archaeological sites regarded as the ruins of Mahabharata and Ramayana, and left possibility of ancient Sanskrit literature as a plausible source of history. In his book, The Saraswati Flows On (2002), Lal criticized the earlier Aryan invasion/migration theory on the basis of the description of Saraswati river in the Rigveda. His arguments on the autochthony of Aryans and the antiquity of Hinduism are reproduced in the writings of Hindu right-wing circles.
This paper attempts to examine the works of B. B. Lal and to trace how his works have been used as the political propaganda of militant Hindu cultural nationalism and how his arguments have strengthened the Hindu communalist sentiments.