Ratha (Proto-Indo-Iranian: *Hrátʰas, Sanskrit: रथ, rátha, Avestan: raθa) is the Indo-Iranian term for a spoked-wheel chariot or a cart of antiquity.

Krishna, Arjuna at Kurukshetra, 18th- to 19th-century painting.


  • [B.B. Lal] documents how, contrary to Western opinion, the horse, supposedly the Vedic glamour animal, is attested in a number of Harappan cities, and the spoked wheel likewise through terracotta models.
    • B.B. Lal cited in Elst, K. in BR Mani: A Legendary Archaeologist: Prof. BB Lal Felicitation Volume, Delhi 2018. Also online at [1]
  • Kazanas has repeatedly argued that the ratha in the Rig-Veda is not a two-wheeled chariot used in races and on the battlefield, but a cart, sometimes a large one for multiple passengers.
    • Kazanas cited in K. Elst 2018. Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins (2019)
  • Thus, Talageri (2008) argues that the Rg-Veda straddles the invention or introduction of the spoked-wheeled chariot: the early parts clearly don’t know of it yet, while the later parts do. Earlier, the appearances of the spoke-wheeled chariot “in” the Rg-Veda were taken as proof that the hymn collection as a whole is younger than the chariot, but now a more sophisticated understanding of the book’s layeredness has made us realize that the oldest hymns do not mention it, indicating that the composers didn’t know of it yet.
    • K. Elst 2018. Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins (2019)
  • What a difference this can make, may be illustrated with the debate on the evidence for horse-drawn chariots in the Rg-Veda and in the archaeological record. The pro-AIT argument runs that these are in evidence in the Rg-Veda, don’t predate the 2nd millennium in the archaeological record (leaving aside for now that the archaeological record is pretty silent on their first appearance, for none have been dug up from reputedly Indo-Aryan or Indo-Iranian settlements in Kazakhstan’s Andronovo culture, the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex or post-Harappan India), so that the Rg-Veda is definitely younger than 2000 BC. Against this, Talageri argues that spoked-wheel chariots are not simply in evidence “in the Rg-Veda”, as the Orientalists have known since the 19th century, but are specifically typical of its youngest period. The older parts know of carts, generally with four full wheels, but the chariots with two spoked wheels are a later development which must have taken place within the period of composition of the Rg-Veda, part of which predates their introduction.
    • K. Elst 2018. Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins (2019) Some Unlikely Tentacles of Early Indo-European
  • The Early Mandalas (and upam) contain no references to technological innovations like ‘ara’ (spokes) which appear only in late Mandalas and upam.
    • S. Talageri 2001. Michael Witzel – An Examination of his Review of my Book (2001)
  • The following are the only verses in the RV which refer to spoked wheels: [...] They are all in the late RV.
    • S. Talageri 2008. The Rigveda and the Avesta (2008)
  • “Something of this fear of the horse and of the thundering chariot, the "tank" of the 2nd millennium B.C. is transparent in the famous horse 'Dadhikra' of the Puru king Trasadasya ("Tremble enemy" in RV 4.38.8) ……..The first appearance of thundering chariots must have stricken the local population with terror similar to that experienced by the Aztecs and the Incas upon the arrival of the iron-clad, horse riding Spaniards.”
    • Early Indian history: Linguistic and textual parametres in : The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity edited by George Erdosy (Papers by Michael Witzel and P. Oktor Skjærvø), Walter de Gruyter, Berlin-New York, 1995. Quoted in Talageri, S. (2000). The Rigveda: A historical analysis. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan.
  • “Not only the language, but also the culture of the newly arrived elite was appropriated, including the 'Vedic Tank' the horse drawn chariot.”
    • Michael Witzel, IndicTraditions ([2]) on 11 December 2000, message # 2735. quoted e.g. in Vigil (2006), 'Thus Spake Professor Michael Witzel A Harvard University Case Study in Prejudice?' (Chennai 2006)

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: