Saturday, September 07, 2013

Maharashtra's Sugar Lobby - The entrenched Jaagirdari system

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.

Here are few links which form the background of the story elucidated in this essay.

1. Evolution of Raj and Bal Thackeray's ideology
2. Historical Analysis of Maharashtra politics
3. Critique on some events in life of Veer Savarkar


The story of Maharashtrian Jaagirdari is a fascinating story (and a murky one). Murky because although it has been antithetical towards nationalistic forces, it was not exactly anti-Indic forces as well. It conveniently occupies the shades of grey in ongoing battle of AIF Vs Nationalists. 

NCP and INC were as Hindutva-vadis as SS or BJP or RSS walas. Even today, the ground cadre is practically indistinguishable. INC (and NCP which is its offshoot only) in MH is an elaborate system of Jaagirdari designed by Yashwantrao Chavan to please and and yet maintain a separate existence from Nehru. 

This began after death of Lokmanya Tilak. Large number of brahmin, marathas and OBC youth who were inclined towards Tilak and violent means were systematically liquidated by British post MKG suddenly calling off Non-cooperation movement after Chauri-Chaura incident.

The culling of 1920s ensured that from MH (as was with Punjab and Bengal) only pygmies will remain in the national discourse of Indian freedom movement. Only Dr. B R Ambedkar was the leader worth a salt who managed to emerge and escape from this pogrom of 1920s, that too because of his Dalit cause. Even he was sidelined by JLN for his pragmatic stances. He and to certain extent Savarkar (with his wings severely clipped). Similarly, only Subhash babu managed to emerge from Bengal post 1920s pogrom. And after Lalaji and hanging of Bhagat Singh, not a single national leader has emerged from Punjab. The fate of Punjab has always brought tears to my eyes. Muslims were overcome by Sikhs and just as they were rising British took over. Lalaji, Arya samajis etc were again making Punjab rise but Lalaji was eliminated and brilliant young men like Bhagat Singh were sacrificed. 

Same thing happened in MH. RSS, Hindu Mahasabha shielded a large bulk of youth from Mh and central India and western UP (basically all those territories which were once under stable Maratha occupation prior to 1818) suffering that fate from 1925-45. This gave rise to many stalwarts which later went on to shine in non-INC platforms like jansangh, BJP and various subsidiaries of RSS. 

But the die was already cast in 1940s. HMS and RSS (which in turn meant nationalistic youth from erstwhile maratha territories)were beginning to be vocal and active with partition related violence increasing in tenor. Role of cadres from these organizations in saving Bengal and Punjab and even Kashmir (as far as I know, the runway of Srinagar airport was prepared by RSS guys in 1948 so that IA planes could land). 

With JLN has head of GOI, nathuram godse's action gave the establishment a chance to cull this budding nationalist forces. The Brahmin-Maratha dispute has been going on in MH since 1741 (began with Peshwa-Bhonsale feud over chauth of Bengal which resulted in infamous Maratha raids on Bengal). This was systematically used to drive out MH-brahmins from villages where they had mass-base. This was done by INC under premiership of Yashwantrao Chavan and S K Patil. After exodus of brahmins from villages, the Marathas got to place their fingers right on the pulse of power. This is where we see the rise of 96-clan lobby in MH (more precisely western MH).

It is not sufficient that person should belong to 96-clan Maratha community to rule over MH. Heck, MH-brahmins have been severely deracinated since their eviction from politics (post 1920s). It is OBCs and the 96-clan Marathas who are more Hindutvavadis than many of the MH-brahmins and form bulk of cadre of BJP-RSS-SS in Maharashtra. It is not only about caste. One should belong to right family. 

This is the reason why BJP cannot win (so far) in western MH. BJP and RSS have stalwart Maratha and OBC leaders. Shelar, Tavde, Fundkar are dedicated BJP leaders belonging to 96-clan Maratha community who have strong following in Mumbai and urban MH. But they are outsiders to the lobby of Maratha jaagirdars.

In 1955, when the demand for Telugu language based AP was beginning to take root, similar demand started in MH - this is called Sanyukta Maharashtra samiti. All the non-INC parties, the communists the Hinduvadi people (who were flying low due to MKG assassination) joined in. The convener of this movement was father of Balasaheb Thakre - Keshav Thakre, aka "Prabodhankaar". It became obvious that unless something was done INC would be eradicated from MH. In 1957 state assembly polls, SMS won large number of seats and INC could barely win a majority. If left unchecked, by 1962 INC would have been finished from MH for ever. 

This is when Yashwantrao Chavan started Cooperative sugar factory movement in MH. This movement, although yielded rich economic dividends to MH, propelling MH to the position of wealthiest state in India (I think despite of last 15 years of misgovernance, MH still holds that position due to this movement by YC). Fantastic movement and full credit to Yashwantrao. However, closer scrutiny of what this movement really was, shows an interesting story. Like Raja Todarmal introduced Mansabdari system for Akbar in north India, thereby stabilizing Mughal rule in Ganga valley for three centuries, Yashwantrao introduced Mansabdari system for his Nehru. Each district of western MH (and fertile parts of marathwada, Khandesh and Vidarbha) is given to family of 96-clanner Maratha to look after. That district was the Jaagir of that family. 

Now, who is in this lobby - The requirements are that one has to be a 96-clanner person who owed allegiance to Yashwantrao (later usurped by Sharad Pawar) and who is NOT from Konkan. 96-clanner Konkani Marathas (like Narayan Rane, for example) can never be part of this Sugar-lobby. It has to be Deshastha Marathas only. But not all 96-clanner Marathas from the Ghat. Those who owe their allegiance to yashwantrao and who will go after him either with OR against Nehru and who were big farmers with great political clout and following AFTER having displaced brahmin leadership (and farmers) from those particular district. Quite a tall order. Like the Delhi's dilli-billi circuit, this Maratha jaagirdar lobby has been calling shots in MH and rest of KG basin since fall of yadava empire in general. 

The opponents of this Sugar-lobby were the usual suspects - RSS, HMS, communists, Dalits and farmer-worker party (Shetkari Kaamgaar Paksha). This Shekaapa was a formidable non-INC, non-RSS force (kind of like Janta Dal of Lohia). Mr. Govindrao Pawar (father of Sharad Pawar) was promising leader of this party. Many say, he was an idealist. He was murdered, (some sources say at the behest of certain prominent Sugar-lobby members). After the murder of Govindrao, the Shekaapa lingered but toothlessly. Sharad Pawar, however, received great care and affection from Yashwantrao. SP was his protege. 

In this jaagirdari model of Chavan, Nanded was given to Chavan (another), Satara to Chavan (yashwantarao), Sangli to Patil (the current RR patil comes from same Patil clan of Sangli), latur to Chakurkar and Deshmukh (Shivraj Patil-Chakurkar and Vilasrao Deshmukh), Kolhapur to Desai, Pune-Baramati to Pawars, so on and so forth. These families formed the first iteration of 96-clan Sugar-lobby of western MH which held tight to each other. Like Pre-Shivaji Maratha feudal lords, they may change parties, they may even fight one-other occasionally but they never eliminate each other. When the appear fighting, it is more often than not, Maya only.. Most importantly, in all this fighting and rabble-rousing, the territory and its resources remains with this lobby, no matter which master they serve.

The raison d'etre of Sanyukta Maharashtra Samiti vanished when state of Maharashtra came into existence. The power of this new state went squarely to this lobby headed by Yashwantrao Chavan. The remaining social groupings (dalits, Brahmins, OBCs and the rejected 96-clanner Marathas) were leaderless and started meandering towards Communism. This is where rise of Shivsena happened. SS and communists were eyeing these exact social groups and in the process (at times with active support of Sugar-lobby), Sena defeated and threw out communists from MH. This included a series of political murders which will be digression here. 

With Communists weakened, the natural gravitas of MH society started manifesting again by slowly moving towards anti-Delhi bias with strong hindutva undercurrent. This is late 1970s I am talking about. The emergency and crackdown of RSS was visible to everyone. After 1920s, the emergency era saw deaths of so many RSS volunteers who were promising. Thankfully Sena did not allow the youth of MH to go anti-national as it happened in Bengal and Punjab (Naxalism and Khalistani movement respectively). The public sentiment remained anti-delhi, but staunchly nationalistic (at times hindu-nationalistic). This undercurrent began to grow vocal as the great strikes of early 80s brought Mumbai to standstill. Sena (helped by businessmen and Sugar lobby) was overpowering communists. But fueling Shivsena also meant fueling and funding Hindutva ethos. 

Meanwhile Pawar had split from INC for the first time to form Progressive democratic party (Purogaami Lokshahi dal) in alliance with Morarji's Janta Party against Indira in 1978. Riding the JP wave, he became MH CM in 1978. But when Indira came back to power, first thing she did was dismissing this non-INC government from MH. Antulay sahab being a man from "peaceful community" has his own links and baggages. But he was first person from outside Sugar lobby (He was a konkani muslim) to become MH-CM. Hence he was in touch with various Bhais (Haji mastan, Karim lala ityadi). He was convicted in extortion case and was forced to resign in 1982 after two years. He, being loyal to IG, was then shipped to Delhi to become minorities affairs minister. He was never heard from again, until 26/11 when he crapped out some Zaid-Hamid like stuff. 

Babasaheb Bhonsale became MH-CM thereafter and seeing the power safely in hands of Sugar-lobby, our Pawar Saheb returned to INC in 1987 as if nothing happened and within matter of few months packed off Shankarrao Chavan to dilli and became CM of MH and president of MH-INC. Beautiful politics. He ensured power of MH remains in hand of Sugar lobby and not anybody else (including Nehrus and Gandhis). But in the process he cultivated his personal image of unreliable politician in minds of Dilli-billi. Meanwhile SS had allied with BJP (in 1985), Shahbano incident had happened and RJB was beginning to gear up.

All this politicking requires loads of money. Kind of money which stable jaagir cannot churn up, hence requires dirty money. It is not easy challenging Delhi (and Indira) and survive. This is where Pawar's alleged connections arise with Haji Mastan and later Dawood. The transfer of money started from 1978 (when he first broke off from INC). Various names like Choksi (the famous Hawala trader) along with owner of a well known Gutkha company were part of all this. All this information is available in public domain. Plus lot has been said about Dawood, Pawar and 1993 blasts and Vohra report, so no point in repeating it. It is slightly tangential to our story.

After death of Rajiv, Pawar was closest to the top-job since Bajirao-1 conquered delhi in 1737. He was undone by his past, machinations of Dynasty-sympathizing lobby who wanted to prop up Sonia, ND Tiwari and Arjun Singh - who like Pawar were also vying for top job. The unlikely winner of this quadrangular match who screwed (although temporarily, but resoundingly) to all four contestants was PVNR who packed off Tiwari, Arjunsingh, Pawar and Sonia-backers. He used all his luck in this (and bomb and liberalization). 

His mishandling of name-change of Aurangabad's Marathwada University, series of protests by Anna Hazare, series of demolitions of illegal constructions in Mumbai (mostly funded by builder lobby backed by the "bhai") by G R Khairnar, BMC's deputy commissioner, coupled with Mumbai Bomb-blasts and RJB wave prevalent throughout the country, had severely eroded the INC. 

All these factors and this history, combined caused the aberration of SS-BJP coming to power in 1995. They did fantastic job when in power, just like CBN in AP. Yet in 1999, INC (which means Western MH based Sugar lobby) was back to power. How?

This too is fascinating story. The anti-delhi sentiment has always been popular in MH-public imagination. This is connected to Maratha-Mughal antagonism. Delhi, subconsciously, symbolizes enemy seat which rightfully belongs to Marathas. The terms like "Dillishwara" or "Dilli-pati" means Sultanate and to be precise Aurangzeb. The "rebellion" of Pawar against Sonia prior to 1999 assembly and general elections diverted public attention. 1999 elections are really fascinating. The state and general polls happened simultaneously in MH. Public chose SS-BJP in Loksabha and INC-NCP in state - within matter of 5 minutes, public chose two different poles of political spectrum. 

I could not understand how INC-NCP (later UPA) could come to power in MH after people witnessed whirlwind progress under SS-BJP. The reason that I now understand is, SS-BJP were not meant to be in power. They did not "win". Sugar-lobby let them win while they set their houses in order meanwhile and reorient themselves in accordance to changing polity and realities of India. SS-BJP did progress, but they did not (could not have) destroy the mass-base and dense network of industrialists, farmers, traders, politicians, police and bankers which form the back-bone of Sugar-lobby. The large network of cooperative banks, societies, factories, farms spread across villages of MH are the real strength of Sugar-lobby. 

Last of the banks which were holding out against this lobby were sacrificed at the alter of INC (the new Sonia-MMS-Chidambaram's INC). The stories of United Western bank and Ganesh Bank of Kurundwad and their mergers by Chiddu in IDBI and Federal Bank (originally an Evangelical-funded bank from Kerala) respectively was the last nail in the coffin. SP again hoped to be PM in 2004 when he allied yet opposed Sonia to be PM. Sonia, via Chiddu, screwed him by forcing Ganesh Bank to merge in Federal Bank. United Western Bank was a very strong and robust bank since 1907 (they funded, covertly of course) to many of the Tilak's proteges. With Tilak's demise, the bank although dominated by brahmins, stayed on very good terms with Sugar Lobby. Almost entire Sugar-belt was dominated by this bank. Chiddu decided to screw this bank up to teach Pawar a lesson. I do not know what Pawar did, but he saved UWB from merging into Federal bank. People say the relations between Chiddu and Pawar soured greatly after Pawar played some game and did not allow Federal bank to make inroads in MH. 

An interesting trivia here, but the hindi word for Insurance is WIMA (Not Vima). It is an acronym for Western India Mutual Assurance which is the parent company established by Anna Chirmule (The founder of United Western bank) in 1907. This just shows how popular and deep-rooted this institution was. There was a director of United western Bank who refused to give shady loan to Sugar-lobby. Furthermore, he had the audacity to claim the pending loans too. He actually made Pawar pay up. This caused much furor in MH. It is here that the fate of UWB was sealed. The bogey of Brahmin-Maratha dispute was brought up and UWB suddenly became "Brahminical Bank". Its comical, really. 

This was a lengthy essay. I have been wanting to write this for long time. This is the source of Sugar Lobby's power. In all my previous articles I have praised Sharad Pawar for keeping the nose of "Delhi" (which meant Nehru/Indira/Sonia) out of MH. He went to great lengths (unethical lengths) to do so. But he has so far ensured that power of Deccan stays in Deccan and Delhi only gets a nominal Chauth in exchange of staying away. He is one of the reasons. why there was hardly any Evangelical conversion activity in 1980s and early 90s in MH. Of course the chief being the natural tendency of Maharashtrians which periodically gravitates towards Hindutva.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Brief History of Hindu Marriage - 5.1 - Taming of Fire as chronicled in Vedas

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ॐ अग्निमीळे पुरोहितं, यज्ञस्य देवमृत्विजम् l होतारं रत्नधातमम् l (RigVeda-1.1.1)
Om, We praise Agni who is a Purohita (one who is appointed/sent ahead to make things favorable) of Yagna (any adhibhautika, adhidaivika and/or adhyatmika effort), a devata (radiant and luminous entity), Ritvija (one who initiates various Yagnas as per need of space and time), Hotar (One who invokes various Devatas in course of Yagna) and Ratna-daataa (one who adores the yagna-performers with gems, that is, fruits of performing yagna)
Hindus have been performing all their 16 sanskaras (or rites of passage) in presence of fire. Fire is the first word of the earliest composition of human-being as seen in the verse quoted above which is itself a tribute to effect that the discovery of fire has had on quality of human life and evolution. Rigveda is earliest composition of mankind. As described in previous parts of this article-series, Vaidik literature itself is a vast memory-pool of those times much earlier to the stage when man started composing something as ethereal as Vedas. Vedas give a vivid picture of those times when speech was being discovered (bird songs of Saama and Rik veda). Similarly, Vedas give a vivid picture of times when fire was first tamed by mankind. 

As it is with the earlier articles, the main reference of this essay too is monumental treatise of Itihasacharya V K Rajwade, named "Bhaartiya Vivaaha Sansthecha itihaas". In previous part, we saw how the concept of Mitra and Atithi are closely associated with evolution of human pair-bond and eventually Hindu-marriage institution.

The story of evolution of human pair-bonding which essentially the story of Hindu-marriage institution, is intrinsically linked with discovery of fire. This final part of this series, is in a way a rehash of all the information presented in earlier parts coupled with the fact that discovery of fire enabled many cultural changes in human society, fundamental of which is movement of man from marital satyayuga as described by Bhishma in earlier parts to institutionalized marriage with stable pair-bonds (either monogamous or polygamous). 

Before Fire..

If and when we get enough data to track the path of human evolution, discovery of fire seems to be the most important land-mark after human ability to walk on two legs. Fire is devastating hence fire is referred to as Krishna-varma (one who blackens every thing) in Rigveda, when the composers talk about earlier days. One thing Vaidik composers have done is meticulously preserved these prehistoric words, descriptions, rituals and human-preferences in form of rites. Man observed that when fire is around, predators seem to stay away. But there was no means to "make" fire. Given the climate of India, the wild-fire is prevalent in summer months. Rest of the 12 months, this protection was not available.

After Fire...

However, they discovered that forest-fire can be preserved in caves or similar natural shelters by constantly feeding them with small dosage of inflammable substances like dried twigs, leaves, branches, charcoal etc. Thus fire which was "seasonal" started becoming available throughout the year. Thus was described as गुहाहितं गुहाया निहितं (one who is preserved in caves) in vedas.

But there was a problem. The fire meticulously preserved in depths of caves could not be transported in all places where life is sustainable (like on banks of rivers). The group of people who overcame this problem and who were deputed of preserving and transporting fire to desired location are referred to as "Angirasa" in vaidik literature. Angirasa is a sage (or group/clan of sages) who called themselves children of fire and who brought fire in all yagnas. This is slightly similar to the earlier greek story of prometheus, although Angirasas are lauded by gods (devatas) and men alike for discovering means of fire-transportation. 

Thus portable fire, the necessity of staying close to the caves to stay safe from predators became redundant. Fire could  be preserved in huts and be carried as one moved. In event of attack on an Vedik village by predatory animals or rival human tribes (referred to as Dasyu in Vedik literature), they attack could be repelled using fire as weapon. Similarly, it was a very handy tool while attacking rival clans AND hunting. 

यथा वै मनुष्या एवं देवा अग्र आसन (Taittiriya Samhita 7.4.2) - "Like the devatas (vaguely, gods) used to rain fire on men to stay ahead of them" say the composers, "this agni destroys our enemies, that is barbarians (dasyus) too just like devatas did in ancient times" (अयं अग्नि पृतनाषाट सुवीरो येन देवासो असहन्त दस्यून - Rigveda 2.263.9)
To stay ready to respond to a raid by predators of rival tribes, the ancestors of people who composed Vedas started digging small ditches in their huts and kept blocks of wood burning inside constantly. Thus a "Yagna-Kunda" or "Sthandila" was invented. They never ventured anywhere without carrying fire along. With this invention in their quiver, they set out from their homeland, that is Saraswati-Sindhu-upper Ganga basin and migrated in rest of Indian subcontinent. A cursory look at Indian countryside would still show many Sadhus still carrying Dhuni as they make temporary camps during their constant "Parivrajaka" (wanderers) phase. Many of them still carry fire in form of dhuni as they wander. 

It is interesting that nowhere in early Vedic literature is there any mention of flint-stone. Their ancestors had recently discovered the method of transporting fire in form of Dhuni and making fire my meticulous means of friction-heating the inflammable substances like dry wood and saw. A particular verse of Rigveda interestingly points at invention of "Torch" by mankind. These were the ancestors of these "Angirasas" who's usage of torch as weapon and as a handy tool to "see" in darkness is spoken of in these verses of Rigveda. 

तपुन्ष्यग्ने जुह्णा पतन्गान संदितो विस्रुजः विष्वगुल्का 
अस्माकमत्र पितरो मनुष्या अभि प्रसेदुरऋतमाशुषाणा:
अश्मवज्रा सुदुधा वव्रे अन्त रुदुस्रा आजन्नुषसो हुवानाः ४.१.१३ 
ते मर्मृजत दद्दवान्सो अद्रिं तदेषां अन्ये अमितो वि वोचन्
पश्वयन्त्रासो अभि कारमर्चन्विदन्त ज्योतिश्चकृपन्त धीभिः ४.१.१४ 
ते गव्यता मनसा दृध्रमुब्धं गा येमानं परि षन्तमद्रिम्  
दृळ्हं नरो वचसा दैव्येन व्रजं गोमन्तमुशिजो वि वव्रुः ४.१.१५ 

Our ancestors had given rise to tools like Ulka while searching for the cows hidden by the evil Pani people. Our ancestors had worshiped and consumed Agni. With the help of Agni (in their hands in form of Ulka), they invoked Usha (the deity of brightness at dawn) in the dark caverns of the caves where Panis had hidden the cows. WIth the help of Agni, they opened the closed door (and other obstacles, mostly of wood) and hailed him as the path lay open. As they ventured inside, the darkness increased so they asked for help from Agni again who graciously gave them "Jyoti" thus enabling them to see in dark (as they moved swiftly) and rescue back the cows abducted by Panis. 
The interesting terms to look in this otherwise very famous Vedik story of Panis, are Jyoti, Ashmavajraa and Ulkaa. Angirasas are also famous for अग्निः अर्चयन्तः ज्योतिः अविदन (Worshiped Agni and gained knowledge of preparing "Jyoti"). Here Jyoti means torch or Mashaal (as it is popularly known in Hindi). A handy and portable fire weapon/tool was extremely handy in their raid against barbarian tribe of Panis who had stolen their cows. All this description has happened much before this verse of Rigveda was composed, hence the composers speak of their age-old ancestors who did this "long time ago". So this was much before agriculture was invented and man was mostly hunter-gatherer with recently mastered art of animal-domestication. The term व्रज (known as ब्रज  or Braj in Prakrita) is famous term for cow-stable. Ashmavraj (cow-stable made of large stones) for protecting and containing cattle along with portable fire, huts, cattle and yagna-kunda within each hut to preserve fire are the typical signatures of these ancestors that Rigveda composers talk about. 

During the days when these ancestors of Rigvedik seers were leading this life, it seems that the region around the Yagna-Kunda was leveled and consecrated and plastered using cow-dung. Cow-dung is even today very widely used to plaster the floor and walls of huts in villages. A typical  Indian village courtyard leveled and plastered with cow-dung looks something like this - 

A hut with leveled and cow-dung plastered floor around the Yagna-Kunda was the place for family or the clan to hang out after day's tiring work. There used to be public Yagna-Kundas in the courtyards in front of huts similarly leveled and at times sheltered using thatches which is still a very common scene in rural India since the days of these distant ancestors of Rigvedic composers. These Rigvedic ancestors used to sit around these fire-places, drink Somaras, indulge in philosophical discussions (which over the period of time evolved into Vedas, Upanishads and various earlier philosophical schools like Saamkhya-yoga), star-gazing (which later led to vedic astronomy and astrology or Jyotisha), dances (these tribal dances of these distant ancestors over the period of time evolved into famous classical dances of India), dramas, mimicries and enactments (which later evolved into elaborate science of Theatrics or Naatyashaastra), cook and eat together and compose poems in various meters or Chhandas together. And last but not the least, the important function of "procreation" was conducted around this very yagna-fire. This is where the fire became indispensable part of Hindu-Marriage institution. We will talk about this aspect in next and final part of this series. The story of fire-taming from Vedas itself is so fascinating and worth-telling that without understanding the significance of this tool, it is difficult to understand how Agni is still such an integral part of all our rites of passage from birth to death. Vivaaha is simply one of those passage. Agni is witness to all of this. 

Agni's historical and socio-political significance

Thus Agni was not only life-altering technology which man had mastered but was also the most popular devata or god which Vedic people worshiped. It is because of Agni that they could come out and live in open without having to fear predators. It is because of Agni that they could cook (and thus disinfect) their food thus increasing their life-expectancy. It is Agni who rid them of many diseases which killed many humans before they matured. Because of Agni they could tame and domesticate animals and protect them from rival tribes and predators thus widening their nutrition and becoming more strong and healthy. It is because of Agni that they could convert the patches of vast expanses of evergreen and dense forests in Ganga-valley into meadows for their cattle to graze. In fact, it is because of Agni that they dared to spread out in the vast and fertile plains of Ganga from their native region of Saraswati-Sindhu river (in modern day Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Sindh). 

According to internal references of Vedas as well as now recently discovered geological references, this Saraswati-Sindhu basin of western India was the "homeland" of Veda-composing people and their ancestors who called themselves "Aarya". When these ancestors of Vedik people ventured and settled in rest of North India, they had already began composing and preserving Vedas and called this entire land of North-Indian plains from Assam to Afghanistan as Sapta-Sindhu (land of seven rivers) and Aaryavarta (Land of the Aryans). 

But all this happened much later. The distant ancestors of Rigveda composing seers (hundreds of thousands of years before human beings started composing Vedas) who discovered the techniques to tame fire and preserve it and store it passed on these memories from generations to generations. It is these memories that we see chronicled in various parts of Vedas.  These are very ancient memories we are talking about. Hence they are extremely vague and smudged all over. As the memories start becoming recent, they start becoming more and more clearer as we see in the memory of Angirasas rescuing cows from Panis is quite vivid and perhaps not as old as discovery of fire itself.

All this truly justifies the word "Sanaatana Dharma" which Hindus use to describe their way of life and civilization. The way of life stretching so back to pre-history, to the origins of where it all began is denoted by this term "Sanaatana Dharma". And while it shows the origins deep in pre-history and shows continuity of that dharma until today, it also chronicles the way in which people changed, adapted and reformed the Sanaatana Dharma to keep this continuity and this link with origins intact while staying contemporary and changing with space and times. 

This very heritage and continuity makes it worth preserving. 

Shubham Astu !!!

To be concluded....