Asko Parpola, a Finnish Indologist and Sindhologist, a professor emeritus of Indology and South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Asko Parpola – Finnish Indologist and Sindhologist

Asko Parpola is a Finnish Indologist and Sindhologist. He is currently a professor emeritus of Indology and South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki. He specializes in the Indus script.

Asko Parpola has been studying the Indus script for over 40 years at the University of Helsinki in Finland and is co-editor of collections of all seals and inscriptions in India and Pakistan. He has led a Finnish team of experts through numerous approaches to the puzzle of one of the world’s earliest writing systems.

Biography of Asko Parpola

Parpola was born on 12th of July, 1941 in Forssa, Finland.

Parpola is a brother of the Akkadian language epigrapher Simo Parpola. He is married to Marjatta Parpola, who has authored a study on the traditions of Kerala’s Nambudiri Brahmins.


Parpola’s research and teaching interests fall within the following topics:

  • Indus Civilization / Indus script and religion / Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions
  • Veda / Vedic ritual / Samaveda / Jaiminiya Samaveda texts and rituals / Purva-Mimamsa
  • South Asian religions / Hinduism / Saiva and Sakta tradition / Goddess Durga
  • South India / Kerala / Tamil Nadu / Karnataka
  • Sanskrit / Malayalam / Kannada / Tamil / Prehistory of Indian languages
  • The prehistoric archaeology of South Asia and (in a broad sense) Central Asia / Coming of the Aryans

Significant contributions of Asko Parpola

He contributed to the field of the decipherment of the Indus script, are the work of the now universally used classification of Indus valley seals, and the proposed, and much-debated, decipherment of the language of the script.

Dravidian hypothesis

According to Parpola the Indus script and Harappan language are “most likely to have belonged to the Dravidian family”. Parpola led a Finnish team in the 1960s–80s that vied with Knorozov’s Soviet team in investigating the inscriptions using computer analysis. Based on a proto-Dravidian assumption, they proposed readings of many signs, some agreeing with the suggested readings of Heras and Knorozov (such as equating the “fish” sign with the Dravidian word for fish “min”) but disagreeing on several other readings. A comprehensive description of Parpola’s work until 1994 is given in his book Deciphering the Indus Script.

Publication of Asko Parpola

A grand summary of Dr. Parpola’s work, Deciphering the Indus Script was published by Cambridge University Press in 1994 (paperback 2009). He proceeds to publish actively and develop the Dravidian line of analysis. He co-edited Vol. III, new material of the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions, after earlier co-editing the collections of Indian (1987) and Pakistani (1991) materials.


Parpola’s long journal article, The Coming of the Aryans, is generally cited by historians and scholars of Indo-European Studies. Colin Renfrew, who has studied the article, called it a “richly annotated and well-illustrated essay,” which brings together several different lines of arguments, including literary and archaeological. 

It contains rich and interesting insights into a variety of topics, including the “amalgamation of the Aryan and Dasa religions,” and the Nuristani language.

However, Renfrew found Parpola’s methodology wanting because, to him, it did not lay out the structure of the argument and the underlying assumptions. He noted the underlying assumptions as the one that the Aryans considered themselves immigrants in the lands specified in their texts and the one that the Dasas were themselves immigration populations. He considered both these propositions to be doubtful.


Asko Parpola received the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award for 2009 on June 23, 2010 at the World Classical Tamil Conference at Coimbatore. In 2015, he was awarded India’s Presidential Award of Certificate of Honour in Sanskrit.

He is an honorary member of the American Oriental Society and, since 1990, a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.

Recommended Reads

>>>Seals of Harrapan Civilization

>>>Dholavira – Indus Valley Civilization site in Gujarat

>>>Allahdino – Harappan Site of Pakistan


>>>The Roots of Hinduism – Buy Now

>>>A Dravidian Solution to the Indus Script Problem – Buy Now

>>>Deciphering the Indus Script – Buy Now

>>>Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions – Buy Now

>>>Asko Parpola Amazon Book Collection – Click Here

>>>Books of Asko Parpola( Co-Authored) – Click Here

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