The sixteen homelands of Aryans according to zoroastrian Vendidad


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New Delhi, India
Kindly allow me quote a correspondence between our member Exile and myself on the topic:

Exile said:
The first problem that came to mind in regard to Tilak's deductions is in his assertion that the place-names in the Avesta were reallocated after the Aryan migration from the norther pole. I find it hard to believe that all 16 of those place-names would have been reallocated, but maybe there's something I missed. Furthermore Micheal Witzel appears to have proved in his "The Aryan Homeland" the placement of these lands and that the climate of the Hindu Kush with 10 months of winter and 2 months of summer corresponds perfectly with the accounts of the Vendidad. On the other hand I do recall Tilak refer to accounts (among the Greeks I believe) of a circular motion of the stars around the axis, like an twisting umbrella. I've never been to Afghanistan, but is it possible that that is what the celestial sphere looks to be doing in that region of the world?"

The climate of around Hindukush mountains is nothing like what is mentioned in Vedas - Seven and a half month of continuous sunshine and two months of long dark and cold night punctuated by a dawn and a twilight lasting for 30 days. That can happen only very close to the poles, something like 82 degree North.

Hindukush weather is indicated by this chart of yearly weather in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The sixteen homelands of Aryans

. Zend Name Old Persian Greek Modern Angra Mainyu’s evils therein
1 Airyana Vaêjo Iran Vêjo . . . . . . Severe winter and snow
2 Sughda Suguda Sogdiana Samarkand Cattle wasp and fly
3 Môuru Margu Margiana Merv Sinful Lust
4 Bâkhdi Bâkhtri Bactria Balhk Devouring ants or beast
5 Nisâya . . . Nisæa . . . Unbelief
6 Harôyu (Sans.Sharayu) Haraiva Areia Heart (the basin of Hari river) Mosquito, Poverty
7 Vaêreketa . . . . . . Cabul (S) Segeston (H) Pairikâs (Paris)
8 Urva . . . . . . Cabul (H) Land around Ispahan (D) Evil defilement Pride, or Tyranny
9 Khneṇta, in Verkhâna Varkâna Hyrcania Gurjân (S) Kandahar (H) Unnatural sin
10 Harahvaiti (Sans.Sarasvatî) Harauvati Arakhosia Harût Burial of the dead
11 Haêtumaṇt (Sans.Setumat) . . . Etumandros Helmend Wizards, Locusts
12 Ragha Raga Ragai Rai Unbelief, Hereticism
13 Chakra (Sans.Chakra) . . . . . . A Town in Khorasan (?) Cremation of the dead
14 Varena (Sans.Varuṇa) . . . . . . Ghilan (H)? Despotic foreign rule
15 Hapta Heṇdu (Sans. Sapta Sindhu) Hiṇdavas Indoi Panjaub Excessive heat
16 Rangha (Sans.Rasâ) . . . . . . Caspian Sea (H). Arvast-ân-i-Rûm or Mesopotamia (D) Winter, earthquake
The description above is from, page 334

Exile, you must consider that the zoroastrians did not remember all the places where the tribe of zoroaster may have gone. Apart from the fondly remembered original homeland, Ariyanam Veijo, this is the record of their migrations in the near past. They may have visited many places earlier than what they remembered, for example, the Kazakh Steppes or the Urals, which are not mentioned (Marija Gimbutas hypothesis).

Hindukush weather is indicated by this chart of yearly weather in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Kabul has about 3 months of winter. Witzel has proved nothing. His views are just one more hypothesis. The matter locales/time scales/archeological evidence is yet to be sorted out.
Kabul lattitude/longitude is not much different from that of Delhi or Islamabad. How the Celestial sphere looks from these places is not very different from each other. Kabul has just about three months of cold weather.

Kabul: 34.5333° N, 69.1667° E
Islamabad: 33.6667° N, 73.1667° E
New Delhi: 29.0167° N, 77.3833° E
There are many problems in Tilak's theory also, the foremost being finding what is considered the Aryan genes R1L1 etc. near the polar regions. The Sami, for example, do not have this gene; though the Sami singing and making verses is very similar to that of RigVeda and SamaVeda, the two of the oldest.
What Tilak proposes is an Indo-European migration from Near Polar Regions, bifurcating in the Kazakh Steppes (Pontic-Caspian), from where the Iranian and Indian Aryans turn East, and Slave and Greek Aryans turn West around 4,000 BCE when the Aryan New Year began with the Spring equinox and sun rising in the asterism of Orion (Mrigashiras) and the Dog star being visible on the Horizon (Sanskrit - Shwan, Greek - Kerberos).
The four points that go for Tilak:

1. Seven suns and the eighth born unformed.
2. 'Ati Ratra' (the darker night), still a part of hindu rituals, extending from two months to hundred days.
3. The dawn extending to 30 days and change in its character.
4. Presence of priests who complete their annual ritual cycle in nine or ten months ('Navagwahas' and 'Dashagwahas').
Wow! Aupmanyav, you are so succinct and neutral in your presentations. I do enjoy reading and thinking about the whole Vedic-Gathic rift.
:D To be taken seriously, one has to be neutral in presentations. They say here that 'untruth does not have feet' meaning 'untruth does not last long'. Thanks for appreciation.

The rift probably is because of the resistance of the indigenous hindu belief. They did not accept Vedic religion. The indigenous Gods are supreme even now and it is the Aryan descendants (like me, probably) who worship them. Since the Aryans termed their Gods as 'asuras', the indigenous people made that the word for demons. :rolling:

But in some important things one can see commonalities. For example, the chant when the zoroastrians and hindus put on their sacred threads.

For hindus: "Yajnopavitam paramam pavitram, prajapatyeryat sahajam purastat"
For zoroastrians: "Fra te mazdao barat pourvanimairvyaonghanem stehar-paesanghem mainyu-tastem vanghuhim daenam Mazdayasnim"

"Yajnopavita is high and sacred, it was born with Prajapati, of old."
"Forth has Mazda borne to thee, the star bespangled girdle, the spirit made, the ancient one, of Mazda-Yasnianian faith."
It may be noted that the chant originally would not have contained any reference to Mazda or Mazda-Yasnian faith before the coming of Zoroaster. This 'girdle' is the Bernard's belt in Orion, the 'yajopavita' for hindus.
According to Mary Boyce the Indo-Iranian calendar began in autumn equinox because the Iranian word of “year” (Av. sand, OP. thard-) corresponds to Skt. Sarad- “autumn, year”.

The fact that the festival of winter solstice was called by the Zarathushtrians “midyear” shows that at some time the Avestan people regarded the summer solstice as the start of the year, but Zarthushtra established five seasonal feasts and holy days (Hamaspathmaedaya) in honor of the Amesha Spentas and the fact that Maidhyoi.zaramaya “Midspring” is the first of these feats proves that for Zarathushtra “New Day” (MPer. No Ruz) fell on the spring equinox.

From what I understand there are 3 different calendars in the Vedas. One of them, the Visara calendar, if I'm not mistaken, is a calendar 12 months of 30 days which would correspond to the year mentioned in the Vendidad of 10 months of winter and 2 months of summer.

Therefore it would appear that the calendar common to both branches, a calendar of 12 months consisting of 30 days.

If I understand Tilak correctly the other calendars were used in the distant past when their ancestors lived in the polar regions. But I think its a big jump to suppose that 16 place-names were reassigned to their present day localities. Witzel in the Home of the Aryans has systematically proved the localities of these place-names in relation to eachother. The Vendidad didn't just mention 16 place-names it provides a point of reference as to where they were located.
Sure, the 16 place-names were not reassigned. We know nothing about 'Ariyenem Vaejo', the 'Aryan Seedland', the original homeland, unless we accept the Arctic Homes theory of Tilak). Most of the rest fifteen have strong correspondence to places in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India. Here is the list (more than one name if scholars differ):

1. Ariyenem Vaejo 2. Sugadha (Sogdiana) 3. Mouru (Merv) 4. Bakhdi (Balkh) 5. Nisaya (..) 6. Haroyu (Herat) 7. Vaereketa (Kabul (most probably), Fahrag -Phoreg - Pura (Indian name for a city in Baluchistan, Nearchus passed through it on his jorney from India to Babylon)) 8. Urva (Kabul, Ispahan) 9. Khnenta in Verkhana (Gurjan, Kandahar) 10. Harahvaiti (Herat) 11. Haetument (Helmand) 12. Ragha (Rai) 13. Chakra (Khorasan?) 14. Varena (Ghilan) 15. Hapta-Hendu (Panjab) 16. Rangha Caspian Sea, Arvastan-e-Rum, Mesopotamia.

About the calendar, it is the other book of Tilak which explains it. That clearly shows that the year began with the Spring Equinox. "Orion or the Antiquity of Vedas" is available at Orion or the antiquity of the vedas.. I quote from page 24:

"We must therefore look for another passage, and this we find in the Shatapatha Brahmana (ii.1.8, 1-3), wherein describing the two aforesaid paths it lays down in distinct terms that Vasanta (Spirng), Grishma (Summer), and Varsha (Rains) are the seasons of the Devas; Sharad (Autumn), Hemanta (Early winter), and Shishir (Mid Winter) those of the Pitris (Ancestors, Favarshi); the increasing fortnight is of the Devas; the decreasing one of the Pitris; the day is of the Devas; the night of the Pitris; again the first part of the day is of the Devas; the latter of the Pitris .. When he (the sun) turns to the North, he is amongst the Devas and protects them; when he turns to the south, he is amongst the Pitris and protects them."

This is only one proof that I have selected from many.

No place on earth has 10 months of winter and 2 months of summer. What is mentioned in Vendidad is about a special occasion, a deluge by snow, when the king of men, Yima, is asked by Ahur Mazda to construct a 'vara' (enclosure) and keep the seeds of all creatures and vegetation a-la-Noah, because Angre-Mainyu will send an evil in the form of a white serpent which will cover the vales, the plains, and even the top of mountains. Who knows if that not is a reference to the last ice-age. (See page 340 of the book, "Arctic Homes in the Vedas". If you cannot find the book that you told me that you have, then see it at Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak — The Arctic Home in the Vedas — Chapter 11)
Sure, the 16 place-names were not reassigned. We know nothing about 'Ariyenem Vaejo', the 'Aryan Seedland', the original homeland, unless we accept the Arctic Homes theory of Tilak). Most of the rest fifteen have strong correspondence to places in Central Asia, Afghanistan and India. Here is the list (more than one name if scholars differ):

I don't know enough, but I suppose its possible that Aryana was located in the polar regions. Does the fact that Fargard 2.220-22 places Yima's Var in Upairisaena (Gk. Paropomesis Per. Hindu Kush) detract from Tilak's theory?

Also can you explain the Vedic calendrical systems to me. I'm under the impression that the Indo-Iranian calendar was a calendar of 12 months with 30 days. This, if I'm not mistaken, was the same as the Sumerian calendar. The later Akkadian calendars had alternating 30 and 29 day calendars. Or was the Vedic calendar an alternating 30 and 29 day calendar too?
Upairisaena: No. It does not detract from Tilak's theory. People give an old remembered name to a new place. You have examples all over the world - New York, New England, New Durban, New Brunswick, etc. That is what the Aryans also did. They called all major rivers of the places where they went as Saraswati. So, we have one Saraswati in India, another in Aghanistan. We have one Sarayu in India, another in Afghanistan. We have one Ayodhya (Lord Rama's capital city) in India, another in Combodia. And the Jewish people made their ark land on Mount Ararat and the Iranian Aryans made Yima's 'vara' (Modern Hindi 'Bara) in Hindu Kush. That has no relation with the place where the actual event might have taken place.
"The traditional Vedic calendar used to start with the month of Agrahayan (agra=first + ayan = travel of the sun, equinox) or Mārgashirsha. This is the month where the Sun crosses the equator, i.e. the vernal equinox. This month was called Mārgashirsha after the fifth nakshatra (around lambda orionis) 'Mrigashiras' (Antelopes Head or the Hunter). Due to the precession of the Earth's axis, the vernal equinox is now in Pisces, and corresponds to the month of chaitra. This shift over the years is what has led to various calendar reforms in different regions to assert different months as the start month for the year. Thus, some calendars (e.g. Vikram) start with Caitra, which is the present-day month of the vernal equinox, as the first month. Others may start with Vaishākha (e.g. Bangabda). The shift in the vernal equinox by nearly four months from Agrahāyana to Caitra in sidereal terms seems to indicate that the original naming conventions may date to the fourth or fifth millennium BCE, since the period of precession in the Earth's axis is about 25,800 years." - Hindu calendar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Vedic calender was Luni-solar. To bridge the gap, they had a period of 12 intercalary days (Dwadashaha) - 'when the seasons were supposed to take rest after an year's toil'. The shift of the beginning of the year by three or four months is very unique and confirms the antiquity of the calender. There are innumerable instances in hindu scriptures where the pros and cons of considering the beginning of the year in a particular month are discussed. This is because it was not just a matter of changing the calendar, but of the whole Sacrificial cycle where the parts must coincide with the seasons and the phases of the moon. Tilak's book 'Orion' discusses this very competently. It is my view that even Christmas is really the day of vernal equinox which has receded to December since no correction was made in the Greek time-keeping whereas the hindu calender was repeatedly corrected and is due for a correction even now.

"Aristophanes' Clouds, a comedy from 423 BC, contains a speech where a complaint is brought from the moon: the Athenians have been playing round with the months, "running them up and down" so that human activity and the divine order are completely out of kilter. "When you should be holding sacrifices, instead you are torturing and judging." A situation is known to have applied in the 2nd century BC where the festival calendar was so out of sync with the actual cycles of the moon that the lunisolar date was sometimes given under two headings, one "according to the god", meaning apparently the moon, and the other "according to the archon", meaning the festival calendar itself." -
Aryana does appear to be associated with the Hindu Kush in the Farvardeen Yasht. And the legend of Yima Khaesheta being that it has parallels to the Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh it does appear to be quite old. But, let's say that Aryana was in the polar regions, were the Vedas themselves fixed when the Vedic rishis lived in the polar region, or were they fixed in the Punjab?

And could you also confirm in short whether the Vedic people had a calendar of 12 months and 30 days or whether it was a calendar of 12 months with alternating 29 days and 30 days. Was this the traditional calendar used in the polar regions or was it another calendar(s)?
Back after a break (I had password problem). Aryans originally had a 30 day lunar calendar with 12 intercalary days (Dwashaha). They had a ten-month calender like the old Roman calender. The night was counted separately in the sacrificial cycle (Ati-Ratra) and had special rituals including 'Ashwamedha yajna' (the horse sacrifice - meaning rituals to strengthen Indra's horse so that it may take Indra successfully to the land of demons of darkness). These were known as 'Ratri-kratu' (rituals that were supposed to be conducted during the Arctic night).

"Roman writers attributed the original Roman calendar to Romulus, the founder of Rome around 753 BC. The Romulus calendar had ten months with the spring equinox in the first month." Roman calendar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Numa Pompilius, the second of the seven traditional kings of Rome, reformed the calendar of Romulus around 713 BC. The Romans considered odd numbers to be lucky, so Numa took one day from each of the six months with 30 days, reducing the number of days in the 10 previously defined months by 6.

There were 51 previously unallocated winter days, to which were added the 6 days from the reductions in the days in the months, making a total of 57 days. These he made into 2 months, January and February, which he prefixed to the previous 10 months." Roman calendar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"In the old Roman calendar (until perhaps as late as 153 BC), the "Month of Mars" was the first month of the year. It is one of the few months to be named for a god, Mars, whose festivals dominate the month. .. The regular calendar year consisted of 304 days, with the winter days after the end of December and before the beginning of the following March not being assigned to any month." Roman festivals - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Sosigenes may also have been the author of the astronomical almanac published by Caesar to facilitate the reform. Eventually, it was decided to establish a calendar that would be a combination between the old Roman months, the fixed length of the Egyptian calendar, and the 365¼ days of the Greek astronomy. According to Macrobius, Caesar was assisted in this by a certain Marcus Flavius." Julian calendar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Ariana, the Latinized form of inhabitants: Ariani was a general geographical term used by some Greek and Roman authors of the ancient period for a district of wide extent between Central Asia and the Indus River, comprehending the eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Empire that covered entire modern-day Afghanistan, east and southeast of Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and the then Persian ruled northwestern Pakistan." Ariana - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The oldest verses of the RigVeda which are monosyllablic and without meter or contain strong direct evidence of the supposed origin of Aryans ('Aditi is the year') might have been written when the Aryans were in sub-polar regions. After which poets kept on adding more verses and many of the older ones were forgotten. The latest verses of RigVeda (Book 1 and 10) were probably written in Central Asia and India before RigVeda was finally fixed before 1000 BC.
Twelve 29/30 day months according to the phases of the moon, and a 9 or 10 month sacrificial cycle.