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Indus Saraswati Civilization

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Hindu Books > History > Indus Saraswati Civilization

Page 2

Harappa was a `city' site; but the rivers had nurtured a large number of `village' sites. I propose that on geographical grounds and based on the cumulative knowledge gained about this maritime civilization through the excavations of the decades since 1950's which have discovered that the culture spanned two great river valleys,the name of this most extensive proto-historic civilization should be changed to INDUS-SARASVATI CIVILIZATION. This suggestion is made after careful, objective deliberation and introspection based on research pursued for over 20 years.

Evidence from many sources, including that of archaeological remains associated with old river courses, indicates that a major river, stemming mainly from the same sources as the present Sutlej, 3owed through Northern Rajasthan, Bahawalpur and Sind{ to the southeast of the present course of the Sutlej and the Indus { in the third to second millennium BC. This river, known as the Sarawati in its upper course, at di3erent times either joined the lower course of the Indus in Sind, or found its way independently into the Arabian Sea via Rann of Kutch." (Allchin, B., Goudie, A., and Hegde, K., 1978, The prehistory and palaeogeography of the Great Indian Desert, London, Academic Press, p. 198).

Ghaggar which reached the Hakra branch in Bahawalpur, is traditionally identi3ed with the Sarasvati river. [cf. Sir Aurel Stein's explorations in the valley: Ancient India, no.5, 1949, pp. 12-30; A. Ghosh discovered 25 Harappan sites (Indian Archaeology{a Review, 1962-63) in the region beginning right from the Pakistan border (eastwards) up to midway between Hanumangarh (bhaTner or bhattinagara) and Suratgarh in the Sarasvati valley and about 25 kms. east of Bhadra in the Drishadvati valley"; Dr. Mughal discovered more than 300 sites in the Bahawalpur area)]. Banawali excavated by Bisht is 15 km. northwest of Fatehabad, near the Sarasvati river and about 120 km. east of Kalibangan. Bhagwanpura, Dist. Kurukshetra, is located on the right bank of the Sarasvati river south of Rupar and is a site excavated by Joshi.

The archaeology of Indus-Sarasvati sites can be superimposed on the ancient geography of the region as gleaned from literary texts. That a script was used in this civilization can be linked to the name of a script used in historical periods in the region (without any apriori assumptions that the brAhmI script is derived from this ancient script).

Vedic and epic tradition on the river is concordant with the archaeological/geographical (and now landsat satellite) attestations.

Etymologically, sarasvati means `abundance of lakes (saras)'. The synonym of sarasvatI (goddess of vAk = speech or language) is brAhmI which is the name given to the early scripts used in aSOka's epigraphs of circa 300 B.C. .

The sUkta 6.61 of the Rigveda is a dedication to sarasvatI river; sUkta 75 is the nadi sUkta dedicated to sindhu river. The trio: drshadvatI, Apaya and sarasvatI are extolled in Rk 3.23.4. Other Rks dedicated to the river are: 1.3.10, 1.3.11, 1.3.12, 2.30.8, 7.95.1, 8.21.17 and 18. References are made to yajnas performed by king citra on the banks of the river.[Apaya may be a branch of the Chitang river; this may also have yielded the sememe: ab, Ap = waters].

BaudhAyana's DharmasUtra (I,1,2,9) describes MadhyadEsa as lying to the east of the region where sarasvatI river disappears, to the west of the black forest: kAlakavan, to the north of the pAripAtra mountain and to the south of the Himalayas.

MahAbhArata (BhIshmaparva, 6.49,50): seven divyagangas: nalinI, pAvanI, sarasvatI, jambu, sItA, gangA and sindhu. The epic locates kurukshetra to the south of sarasvatI and to the north of DrshadvatI (iii,83.204). [This area is de3ned as Brahmavarta in Manu Smriti 2.17]. The doab formed by these two rivers thus becomes the locus of the Bharata war of kurukshetra (fought on 3ve lakes: samanta- pancaka; said to be the northern sacri3cial altar of brahmA: MB, Vana, lxxxiii). [Al- beruni found, in 1000 A.D., a holy lake in Kurukshetra]. The epic provides an account of Balarama's sojourn along this river dotted with centers of learning and austerities. [The dividing line of Drshadvati is at Chunar near Varanasi; the modern name is Rakshi].

The dried-up bed { wadi { of sarasvatI might have constituted the great road between hastinApur and dvArAvatI (dwAraka). Part of this road would have constituted the road from Sind to Delhi via Bahawalpur, MaroT, Anupgarh, Suratgarh, Dabli, KAlibaggAN, BhaTner (Hanumgarh), Tibi and SIrsa suggested by Major F. Mackeson in 1844 to the British government (Report on the Route from Seersa to Bahawulpore, JAS BENG., XLII, Pt.I, 1844, No. 145 to 153)]. A synonym of sIrsa is sarsuti < sarasvatI; at this place, about 100 miles below Rassauli, a fortress was built.

Hieun Tsang's reference to `3ve indies' is ampli3ed by Cunningham to de3ne northern India to comprise the Punjab proper including Kashmir and the adjoining hill states, eastern Afghanistan beyond Indus and the Sutlej states to the west of the sarasvatI river.

Geographically, the sarasvatI basin can be traced to the currently known: ghaggar-nALI-hakDA-rainI-nArA- wAhindA- mihrAn-purAN channels. Ghaggar might have been a stream that rose in the Siwaliks and that joined the sarasvatI. This network runs parallel to the Indus across Sind. The river 3owed from the Himalayas to the Rann of Kutch. [cf. Oldham, C.F., JRAS, 1893, p.49 on the Lost river of the Indian desert; Sir A. Burnes, Memoir n the Eastern Branch of the River Indus, given an Account of the alterations produced on it by an earthquake, also a Theory of the formation of the Runn, TRANS. RAS, III,1834, pp. 550-88].

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