B. B. Lal

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Braj Basi Lal (born May 2, 1921), better known as B. B. Lal, is a renowned Indian archaeologist. He was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from 1968 to 1972, and has served as Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla. Lal also served on various UNESCO committees.


  • I don't say so, but my spade tells me so.
    • B.B. Lal's reply to his critics (traditional Hindus). As related and quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2012). The argumentative Hindu. New Delhi : Aditya Prakashan. Chapter: Ayodhya’s three history debates.
    • In the 1970s, Prof. B.B. Lal's excavation campaign “Archaeology of the Ramayana sites” [Lal 2008:15-28] found a common material culture at Ayodhya, Chitrakuta and other Ramayana sites all datable to a common period. It earned him the wrath of an audience of traditional Hindu godmen, who tend to place the Ramayana events at a far greater time-depth.
  • It is true that the Rigveda does not provide us details of the inner layout of these forts, but surely the text was not meant to be a treatise on Vastusastra. May it be remembered that it is essentially a compilation of prayers to gods and should be looked at as such. All the evidence that it provides regarding the material culture of the then people is only incidental.
    • Aryan invasion of India: perpetuation of a myth, In: Edwin F. Bryant and Laurie L. Patton Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History. — 1st ed. — London: Routledge, 2005. p.67.
  • The great civilization of the Indian subcontinent, has had its roots deep in antiquity, some seven to eight thousand years ago, and its flowering in the third millennium B.C. still lives on. In contrast, when we look round the world we are surprised by the fact that the Egyptian and Mesopotamia civilizations that flourished alongside this Indic Civilization have all disappeared, leaving hardly any trace behind. Why? The Indian psyche has indeed been pondering over this great cultural phenomenon of 'livingness', and this quest.
  • What is that ‘something’, some inherent strength? Doubtless it lies in the liberal character of the Indian civilization, which allows for cross-fertilization with other cultures, without losing its own identity. Even time (kala), the great devourer, has stood testimony to the fact that the deep foundations of Indian culture could not be shaken either by internal upheavals, however great may have been their magnitude.... " the soul of India lives on!"
  • Here it may perhaps be stated straightaway that so far no unimpeachable evidence has been adduced to prove or even to disprove either of the above-mentioned theories. (about Indo-Aryan invasions or migrations) In such a situation there is little wonder that guesses run wild and pride and prejudice safely prey on them.
    • Quoted from B.B. Lal in : Indian History and Culture Society., Devahuti, D., & Indian History and Culture Society. (2012). Bias in Indian historiography.

Quotes about B.B. Lal[edit]

  • Today, even taking the name of Mahabharata and Ramayana is considered as anti-national and communal by the communist leaders, Babri Masjid Action Committee historians and the pseudo-secularists... I have been thinking about the behavious of our Marxist friends and historians, their unprovoked slander campaign against many colleagues, hurling abuses and convicting anyone and everyone even before the charges could be framed and proved. Their latest target is [so] sobre and highly respected a person as prof. B.B. Lal, who has all his life (now he is nearing 70) never involved himself in petty politics or in the groupism [which is] so favourite a sport among the so- called Marxist intellectuals of this country. But then [slander] is a well-practised art among the Marxists."
    • A.K.Sinha quoted in Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. quoting A.K.Sinha
  • B.B. Lal made his name as an archaeologist in the 1950s and 60s by exploring the Painted Grey Ware culture, which he then identified as the Aryan invader culture during its expansion from the Panjab border zone deeper into India; but along the way he realized that his data offered no support to the AIT which he had been using as a prism through which to interpret the data... Especially in his case, this latter fact is remarkable. It was he who, as a young archaeologist in the 1950s, made his name by finally digging up the long-awaited proof of an Aryan invasion. He had identified a pottery style, the Painted Grey Ware (1200-800), as typifying the Aryans penetrating deeper into India. That is what was taught to us in university, and even recently-published books upholding the Aryan Invasion Theory cite this finding as “proof”. But Lal himself has grown away from it. At the time, he had simply applied the reigning invasionist framework, until he understood that this was but a hypothetical construct unsupported by hard findings. ...
    Thus, the anti-invasionist case put forward by the archaeologists like B.B. Lal and the late S.P. Gupta has often been dismissed without further ado “because they are, not coincidentally, the same ones who claim to have discovered pillar-bases underneath the Babri mosque in Ayodhya and thus supported the Hindu claim to the site”. Of course, this finding on Hindu-Muslim relations in medieval history wouldn’t make any difference to their case on the Aryan question in ancient history, at least not to scientists. ... But in this case there is an even more pertinent fact: the finding of the pillar-bases, ridiculed by self-appointed “experts” and their foreign dupes, has been confirmed. Both the Archaeological Survey of India and the Allahabad High Court have, after gathering solid evidence during thorough excavations as well as questioning many “experts” (whose performance under oath was extremely embarrassing, undercutting whatever credibility they had been credited with, see Jain 2013:201-273), ruled that there had indeed been a Hindu temple until it was demolished and its foundation (“pillar-bases”) reused to underpin a mosque. These archaeologists were lambasted worldwide for upholding a case that has ultimately been proven correct.... On the Aryan question too, they may well end up being proven correct. Conversely, the anti-Hindu academics worldwide who parroted the “experts” and expressed seething (though borrowed) hatred for the temple party, have been shown to have been babes in the wood, led by the nose by political agitators using the aura of the academic positions they had cornered to promote a very artificial lie, launched in the late 1980s against what had been a consensus about a pre-existing temple among all concerned parties. (see Elst 2011) On the Aryan question too, they might end up finding that they had safely chosen the side of a dominant opinion fated to be proven wrong... In our midst is the nonagenarian dean of Indian archaeology, Prof. B.B. Lal. I first heard from him in the 1980s at university in Leuven, Belgium, where Prof. Pierre Eggermont taught us that Lal had at last identified the Aryans on their way deeper into India, viz. through the Painted Grey Ware. That is how Lal first made his name: by identifying the theoretically deduced Aryan invasion with something tangible. Indeed, that is how Pradhan (2014:67) cites him even now: “Lal considered Painted Grey Ware to be intrusive”. Yet, Lal has later described that identification as false and written books denying an invasion, e.g. Lal 2002. Like most Indian archaeologists, he has had to face the fact that all attempts to find traces of the Aryan invaders had proved erroneous. You all have heard him say it right here: “Vedic culture and the Harappan cities are but the two sides of the same coin.”
    • Elst, Koenraad (2018). Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins.

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