Hindu Cultural Legacy
Autochthonous origin and essential unity of bharatiya haplogroups – tracing the lifeline (genealogy) of Hindu civilization
Shape of lingam found at Harappa is like the summit of Mt. Kailas, Himalayas. Plate X(c), Lingam in situ in trench Ai (MS Vats, 1940, Exxcavations at Harappa, Vol. II, Calcutta). In trenches III and IV two more stone lingams were found. (MS Vats, opcit., Vol. I, pp. 51-52). The Hindu traditional metaphor of s'iva is the glacial river Ganga emerging from locks of his hair as he sits in penance on summit of Mt. Kailas, Himalayas. The metaphor results in Kailas in Ellora, showing Ravana lifting up the mountain.
Heliodorus Garuda-Vishnu pillar, Vidisha (Besnagar) (c. 120-100 BCE).
Intuitive and spiritual democracy of India There are two striking examples of democracy in its pure form. One is that of ancient India 's, which streamed from the intuitive plane and originated from the Rig Veda – the first sruti or directly revealed scripture received by seers in a state of divine consciousness, around the sixth millennium BCE. The other is that of Pericles' Athens , which emanated from the sattvic plane of clear reason, and is the lighthouse of Western democracy. Both types nurtured character building, beauty and refinement, pursuit of an ideal of which all individuals were the indispensable cells. Thus the body politic was built involving self-government of both the individual and collective being. The democracy of ancient India was prevalently intuitive and spiritual, while Athens 's was rational and aesthetic.
Two lamps (deepam) on headdress of terracotta images (Mohenjodaro, ca. 2500 BCE); soot was found one one of the lamps indicating the possible use of a cotton wick which is lighted in an earthenware lamp with oil, in Hindu tradition.
History of Vidisha
Situated on the confluence between Betwa (Vetravati) and Bes rivers, Vidisha is 8 kms. from Sanchi. Sanchi was earlier called after the hill of Vidisha as Vidishagiri. The place finds mention in Samaranganasutradhara. This is referred to as Vessanagara, Vaisyanagara, Besanagara in many ancient texts. This name is also said to have been derived from Bhilsa or Bhelsa, a reference to Bhillaswamin of a Suryamandiram. It was a trade centre in the regimes of Sunga, Naga, Satavaha and Gupta dynasties. As’oka was a governor of Vidisha as mentioned in Kalidasa’s Meghadutam. At Vidisha is located the pillar of Herodotus of 5th cent. dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The importance of this city is dated to ca. 3rd century BCE because of the small Bauddha monasteries in the surrounding hills (Udayagiri fifth cent. rock-cut caves with Cave No. 5 showing a Varaha murti 4 m. high) and the Sanchi stupa nearby. Cave-shrines and mandirams abound. Udayagiri is a hill near Vidisha and linked with the Gupta period (ca. 320 to 500 CE) which is linked to the development of Sanskrit learning and nearby water-management systems. Michael Willis. ‘Buddhist Saints in Ancient Vedisa’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 11 (2001): 219-29; Julia Shaw and John Sutcliffe. ‘Ancient Irrigation Works in the Sanchi Area’, South Asian Studies 17 (2001): 55-75. http://www.britac.ac.uk/institutes/SSAS/groups/vidisha.htm Vidisha Research Group. Sanchi dams project. Shaw, J. (2004) ‘Naga sculptures in Sanchi's archaeological landscape: Buddhism, Vaisnavism and local agricultural cults in central India , first century BCE to fifth century CE', Artibus Asiae LXIV(1), 5-59. Shaw, J. and J.V. Sutcliffe (2003). ‘Water management, patronage networks and religious change: new evidence from the Sanchi dam complex and counterparts in Gujarat and Sri Lanka ', South Asian Studies 19, 73-104. http://www.britac.ac.uk/institutes/SSAS/projects/sanchi.htm
Bhibhetka caves which are a world heritage site are nearby depict Paleolithic paintings.
Columns of Heliodorus, Vais’ali and Lumbini
Column of Heliodorus 113 BC, Besnagar, Madhya Pradesh This inscribed Garuda column, in Besnagar near Udayagiri, was erected in honor of Vasudeva (an early name for Vishnu) by a person named Heliodorus, who was a Bactro-Greek envoy from Gandhara to the court of Vidisha. The Garuda is missing from the top of the column, which stands about 6.5m (21') high. Decoration on the column includes geese, a reed-and-bead pattern, lotus leaves, vegetation, fruit, and garlands. http://www.art-and-archaeology.com/india/hel1.html “The following transliteration and translation of this ancient Brahmi inscription was published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London: JRAS, Pub., 1909, pp. 1053-54.
1) Devadevasa Va [sude]vasa Garudadhvajo ayam 2) karito i[a] Heliodorena bhaga- 3) vatena Diyasa putrena Takhasilakena 4) Yonadatena agatena maharajasa 5) Amtalikitasa upa[m]ta samkasam-rano 6) Kasiput[r]asa [Bh]agabhadrasa tratarasa 7) vasena [chatu]dasena rajena vadhamanasa "This Garuda-column of Vasudeva (Visnu), the god of gods, was erected here by Heliodorus, a worshipper of Visnu, the son of Dion, and an inhabitant of Taxila, who came as Greek ambassador from the Great King Antialkidas to King Kasiputra Bhagabhadra, the Savior, then reigning prosperously in the fourteenth year of his kingship." The transliteration and translation of this ancient Brahmi inscription was published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London: JRAS, Pub., 1909, pp. 1053-54. Raychaudhuri then suggests, "Heliodorus of Taxila actually heard and utilized the teaching of the great Epic, " since we know from Panini that the Epic was "well known to the people of Gandhara [Taxila]" long before the time of the Greek ambassador. This column could be an attestation of Krishna as a historical person. “Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador in the court of Chandragupta Maurya (4th century B.C) makes the first reference to the deification of Vasudeva. He says that Heracles (who is closest to Krishna-Vasudeva) was held in high regard by the Sourasenoi (Surasenas) who possessed two large cities namely Methora (Mathura) and Cleisobora (Krishnapura, that is Vraja and Vrindavana). Apart from references by Megasthenes to the deification of Krishna-Vasudeva, Buddhist texts mention the existence of shrines dedicated to Vasudeva (Krishna) and Baladeva (Balarama). Heliodorus, the son of Dia (Dion), a resident of Taxila had come to Besnagar as an envoy of the Greek king Antalikata (Antialkidas) to the court of Kasiputra Bhagabhadra during his 14th regnal year. Antialkidas is placed between 175-135 B.C. The Greek king Agathocles (2nd century B. C) was also devoted to the Bhagavata cult. The figures of Krishna and Balarama are shown on his coins found in the excavations at Al-Khanuram in Afghanistan.” http://www.atributetohinduism.com/Dwaraka.htm
As’oka pillar with lion capitol, Vais’ali. As’oka pillar, Lumbini. Could the artisans who made the Heliodorus pillar be the descendants of the artisans of the As’oka pillars at Vais’ali and at Lumbini? http://www.indiamonuments.org/Buddhist%20monuments.htm
In the context of a multi-disciplinary study in a region around Vidisha (Besnagar, Sanchi), some remarkable insights are provided on a group of people called the Naga who have contributed to defining the Hindu civilization. The studies under Vidisha Project of Society for South Asian Studies, London, covered previously undocumented Bauddha sites, habitations, rockshelters and sculptures in a region surrounding sixteen "ancient dams in the Vidisha and Raisen districts of Madhya Pradesh, central India were documented during a multi-phase archaeological survey carried out between 1998 and 2000. Covering about 750 km2, the survey centred upon Sanchi, and included the four other known Buddhist sites of Morel-khurd, Sonari, Satdhara and Andher, all established between c. 3rd and 2nd centuries BC (Location map)...Preliminary terminus post quem dates of between 1st
century BC and 5th century AD were provided by na-ga (serpent) sculptures located on or near some of the embankments...The suggestion that the Na-gas, as the principal local oligarchy, were closely connected with the patronage of Buddhist sites and dams fills a significant gap in the
understanding of local political history: to date this has been based on pan Indian dynastic forces whose relationship to localised polities is poorly understood."
Fa Hsien (5th cent.) Chinese pilgrim notes that monks worshipped at na_ga shrines in monastaries to protect against 'plagues and calamities' and to pray for rainfall. (Cohen, R. S. 1998, “Naga,Yaksini, Buddha: local deities and local Buddhism at Ajanta”, History of Religions 37(4), pp. 340-60)...Two additional suggestions are posited below: first, that even during the pre-Gupta
period when all such na-gas are situated outwith the formal boundaries of hilltop monastic complexes, their position within the wider “early historic complex” justifies viewing them as part of the “Buddhist landscape”; and secondly, that they doubled as symbols of the local Na-ga dynasty who appear to have been closely connected with the patronage of dams and Buddhist sites in the area...during the Gupta period, when there is evidence for the construction of na-ga shrines within the monastic complex on Sanchi hill itself. Prior to this period, they are all situated at a removed distance, as typified by the 1st century BC na-ga at Nagauri which in its present position would have stood at the edge of the now dried up reservoir between the Nagauri and Sanchi hills. However, its position is less at odds with later patterns than it at first appears: once the Buddhist monuments on Sanchi hill are viewed within their wider socio-religious landscape including the reservoir and settlement at Nagauri, then the na-ga also ceases to be ‘external’ to the monastic complex. More importantly, the na-gas are situated next to reservoirs because of their association with water and fertility; we already know from Fa Hsien’s accounts that by the Gupta period at least, na-ga shrines were placed within monastic settings precisely because of this association; there is thus no reason why the na-ga shrines on the dams wouldn’t have been treated in a similar way by monks. Another point which initially seems to shed doubt on the link between Buddhism and na-gas during the early period is that some of the pre-Gupta na-gas follow the iconographic programme of Balara-ma-Sam. kars. an. a, of the chief deities of the Pa-n~cara-tra system one of the Bha-gavata tradition, a prototypical form of Vais.n. avism.
In keeping with other early Balara - ma images in north India (Joshi, N. P. 1979, Iconography of Balarama, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi.), most are shown with a plough (hala) in one hand, and a pestle (mu-sala) in the other. As mentioned later, while Balara-ma-Sam. kars.an. a and his younger brother Va-sudeva-Kr.s.n. a were depicted in aniconic form at the 2nd century BC Heliodorus pillar site in Vidisha, Balara-ma’s manifestation as a na-ga is thought to be a later development involving a process of “cultic assimilation” into the Bha-gavata tradition. There is a
danger here, however, of extrapolating back into the past from a set of connections that may only have been formalised in later years. We cannot assume, for example, that during the 1st century BC, the sectarian link between Balara-ma images dotted around the countryside, and the aniconic depictions of the Pa-n~cara-tra deities in Vidisha was an established fact; Balara-ma is, after all, a deity of fertility and agriculture. Simply put, he is a na-ga with the addition of a plough and pestle, it being of no coincidence, given our hypotheses regarding local rice cultivation, that the
mu-sala is traditionally associated with the pounding of rice paddy (Joshi 1979, p. 45). To local inhabitants, the question of his possible sectarian affiliations may have been of little concern. Rather, he would have been seen as a na-ga standing at the edge of a water body where na-ga
belong! The first time that the Vais.n. ava orientation of na-ga sculptures becomes very explicit is during the Gupta period when many are shown either as Vis.n.u himself, or otherwise with attributes closely associated with Vis.n.u (Shaw Forthcoming). As mentioned above, this is also when na-ga shrines become incorporated into monastic compounds for the first time. The assumption is, therefore, that Buddhist monks were less concerned with the na-gas’ shifting sectarian affiliations than with their inherent ritual power, that is, the ability to ensure adequate rainfall and in turn, agricultural success. As attested by the aforementioned textual accounts, this
force was an ambivalent one which if not treated properly could also bring about the opposite effect. It follows, therefore, that na-ga worship was part of Buddhist practice, not because the san.gha sought to ‘convert’ local populations, but rather because its effects were in harmony with the san.gha’s wider economic concerns with agrarian production as an instrument of
lay patronage...=relatively little is known about how these pan-Indian forces played out at a local grassroots level. We already know from the Bhagila and Kurara series of coins mentioned above that from c. 2nd century BC local tribal leaders were issuing their own city coins, but how these
leaders interacted with the larger political forces is still unclear. Similar uncertainties surround the Na - ga dynasty, which from at least the 2nd century AD appears to have been one of the most prolific coin-issuers in the Vidisha area; thousands upon thousands of tiny copper Na-ga coins have been unearthed at Vidisha (Bhandarkar, J. 1914, “Excavations at Besnagar”, Annual Report of
the Archaeological Survey of India 1913-14, pp. 210-11; 1915, “Excavations at Besnagar”, Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India 1914-1915, p.88)...Taken together with other numismatic, epigraphical and textual evidence, it has been argued that the dynasty originated in Vidisha during the second half of the 2nd century AD, from where it moved north to Mathura, Pawaya, and Kantipurya, the three major Na - ga centres mentioned in the Vi.sn. u Pura-n.
a...Important insights are provided, for example, by the S´ri•-dharavarman inscription from Eran mentioned earlier, which records the erection of a memorial pillar (ya.st.i) by his military commander (sena-pati), a Na - ga chief from Maharashtra called Satyana-ga (Mirashi, CII, IV,
605-11)...There are also strong grounds for suggesting that the Na - gas were already connected with the Vidisha area during earlier periods. The main indicator to this effect is the high number of Na - ga-related names in the 1st century BC donative inscriptions at Sanchi. [...There are also suggestions that the Nandin kings who succeeded the so-called “S´ungas” had Na-ga affiliations:
(Bhandarkar, D. R. 1981, “Allahabad stone pillar inscription of Samudragupta”, Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum: Inscriptions of the Early Guptas III (revised edition), p. 10)."
Julia Shaw and John Sutcliffe, 2003, Water Management, Patronate Networks and Religious change: new evidence from the Sanchi dam complex and counterparts in Gujarat and Sri Lanka, South Asia Society, 19, pp. 73-104. http://www.britac.ac.uk/institutes/SSAS/projects/Shaw03.pdf
Madan Mohan Upadhyay, 2005, Inscriptions of Mahakoshal : Resource for the History of Central India. Delhi, B.R. Pub.,
Shaw, J. and J.V. Sutcliffe (2001) ‘Ancient irrigation works in the Sanchi area: an archaeological and hydrological investigation', South Asian Studies 17, 55-75.
Ibid. ,2003, ‘Ancient dams, settlement archaeology and Buddhist propagation in central India : the hydrological background', Hydrological Sciences Journal 48(2), 277-291.
Ibid., 2003, ‘Water management, patronage networks and religious change: new evidence from the Sanchi dam complex and counterparts in Gujarat and Sri Lanka ', South Asian Studies 19, 73-104.
Shaw, J. 2004, ‘Naga sculptures in Sanchi's archaeological landscape: Buddhism, Vaisnavism and local agricultural cults in central India , first century BCE to fifth century CE', Artibus Asiae LXIV(1), 5-59.
Shaw, J. ,2004, ‘Early historic landscapes in central India : recent archaeological investigations in districts Raisen and Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, 2003-4', Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in History and Archaeology 1, 143-150.
Trivedi, H. V. 1957, Catalogue of the Coins of the Na-ga Kings of Padmavati, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Gwalior.
Evidence of rock-cut reservoir and rock-cut tank http://spaces.msn.com/sarasvati97/blog/cns!A74A2ADBFA0A3358!795.entry
Dholavira. Rock-cut reservoir
The rock-cut tank at Sanchi is extraordinary evocation of the rock-cut water reservoir discovered at Dholavira, ca. 3rd millennium BCE.
Dholavira, rock-cut reservoir, 263X39X24 ca.3rd millennium BCE
The rock cut storage structure at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh ca. 1st millennium BCE.
“A rock-cut tank, located near the largest surviving Buddhist Stupa in which relics of the Buddha are believed to be present, could be one of the two oldest surviving tanks, second only to a now ruined tank in Bharahut, Central India. ca. 324–300 BC During the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the arid Kathiawad region saw the construction of a large reservoir named Sudarsana. Subsequently, Ashoka repaired the lake and water distribution system for agriculture. ca. 268–231 BC Reign of Ashoka the Great. Large-scale water harvesting structures built.” http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/jul102003/46.pdf Deep Narayan Pandey et al, 2003, Rainwater harvesting as an adaptation to climate change, Current Science, Vol. 85, No. 1, 10 July 2003. “A six-line three-stanza Brahmi–Sanskrit inscription on the Delhi Iron Pillar, the oldest and largest of all the inscriptions on the pillar, mentions that it was set up as a standard of Vishnu (Vishnuordhvaja) at Vishnupadagiri by Chandra… Chandra has been identified with Chandragupta II Vikramaditya (AD 375–414) based on a detailed analysis of the archer-type gold coin of the imperial Guptas (AD 320–600). The original location of the pillar, Vishnupadagiri, has been identified as modern Udayagiri1–3, in the close vicinity of Vidisha and Sanchi.” Anand M. Sharan and R. Balasubramaniam, 2004, Date of Sanakanika inscription and its astronomical significance for archaeological structures at Udayagiri, Current Science, Vol. 87, No. 11, 10 December 2004.
Sanchit stupa torana inscription
The inscription on the stone torana at Sanchi reads: “vidisehi danta-karehi rupa-kammam-katam” (Buhler, Epigraphica India, II, 1892, p. 92).
Translation of the Sanchi stupa inscription: the carvings have been done by the Vidisa ivory carvers (danta kara).
The phrase used is rupa-kammam-katam which clearly is a reference to the artists who created the artifacts (and NOT to the artisan/merchant guilds, vrata, gan.a or nigama who financed the projects or marketed the ivories) (cf. Sharma, 1968, p. 223). Videsehi danta-karehi, the ivory carvers of Vidisha could have been a puga (group of workers), perhaps also a s’ren.i (artisan/merchant guilds) who worked as sangha bhrtah (contract guilds of artists) (cf. Kautilya’s Arthas’astra, Shamasastry, 1923, p. 227). This is a stunning statement that carvers of small-sized ivory objects could also monumental sculptures on stone. The Sanchi stups is indeed jewellery in stone, in the unique vis’vakarma tradition of bharatiya civilization. Such an ivory carver could also work with s’ankha, turbinella pyrum. A sankhavalaya karamattaraka (conch-shell bangle cutter) and dantakara (ivory carver) are mentioned in Mahavastu (Dwivedi, 1979: 21). The art historian par excellence, Pal notes from Mahaunmarga Jataka that sculptors could work both in wood and in stone. (1978: 191, note 2). The same bangle cutter is mentioned in the Rigveda and Atharvaveda as s’ankha kr.s’a_nah (s’ankha bowman), an extraordinary tradition which started ca. 6500 BCE (Mehergarh) and which continues even today as an industry in Bharatam with a Kolkata s’ankha cutter s’ankha to create bangles which are extraordinary civilizational, cultural metaphors. No Bengali marriage is complete without s’ankha bangles and without s’ankha naadam.
Such workers who could work in stone, wood or even metal had a name: badhor.
The artisans -- rock-cutter, script-writer on metal, ivory carver – all of them, needed the same, simple tools: chisel and hammer to achieve these artifacts – on stone, on ivory or bone or on s’ankha or even brahmi inscriptions on an iron pillar -- and also to create sculpted rock-cut caves or rock-cut reservoirs. Chisel is kund ruka, ruka; the hammer is kut.am.
ruka chisel; kund ruka a round chisel; rok to pierce (Santali.lex.) ruka, rukna a chisel (Mu.); rukhna (Sadani)(Mu.lex.) uruvu-tal to pierce through, penetrate, as an arrow, a needle (Tiruva_ca. 28,2) (Ta.) (Ta.lex.) cf. uruvuka to pierce through, penetrate (Ma.)(DEDR 663). ro_ka a hole, an aperture, a cavity (Ka.); ruks.a a star (Ka.)(Ka.lex.) ro_kam a hole (Skt.lex.) Uralic: rogõm cut out, etc. (Khanty); roe, rue- chop, cut (with an axe, etc.), hew (Mari) [Chong] http://member.melbpc.org.au/~tmajlath/slav12.html
Dantakarah and dantopajivinah are mentioned in the Ramayana and interpreted as organized guilds of ivory carvers and ivory traders, respectively. (Dwivedi, 1979, p. 18). If so, the ivory/bone carvers of Begram fame could have been contracted to produce the architectural marvel of Sanchi stupa torana. In Silavanaga Jataka (Jatakas, Cowell, 1973, vol. I: 174-177), there is a reference to an ivory carvers’ street: dantakaravithi, an indication of an organized craft workshop and trading centre created by the artisans/merchants. Artisand and merchants alike could have other colleagues and other traders work in their workshops to fulfil their trade contracts. (Kautilya Arthasastra, Shamasatry, 1923, p. 175; “Artisans shall, in accordance with their agreement as to time, place, and form of work, fulfill their engagements under the excused that no agreement as to time, place and form of work has been entered into shall, except in troubles and calamities, not only forfeit 1/4 of their wages, but also be punished with a fine equal to twice the amount of their wages. ” Shamasastry, 1923, p. 245).
A number of reasonable hypothesis may emerge, as suggested by Sanjyot Mehendale et.al (2005): “The heterogeneity of styles (of ivory/bone carvings) within the same assemblages could, however, indicate that carvers from different places came together in one place -- perhaps Begram itself -- to create the ensembles. The similarity of a few styles presented on the Begram pieces could point to a workshop that may have existed in the general region between Sañci and Mathura; the Sañci inscription confirms the art of ivory carving to be well established in this region. However, this thesis would also propose the possibility that a workshop existed at Begram itself. At first glance, a few points militate against such a hypothesis. There is a lack of any direct archaeological evidence of in situ workshops: no tools were discovered, and there were no signs of remnants of the raw materials. Secondly, there seem to have been no elephants that far north, and the availability of ivory might have been problematic for a regular workshop… Many scholars support the hypothesis that there existed an ivory carving center in Taxila. And the presence of a Bactrian ivory workshop at or near Nisa (Masson & Pugachenkova 1982) and Ai Khanum (Rapin 1992) amply shows that the raw material could be obtained in regions far north. Begram, situated on the trading routes between Bactria and Taxila, suggests the routes along which ivory probably was transported… Begram site might well have been an active commercial trading center. Begram’s proximity to ancient trade routes connecting India with the Silk Route further bolsters this adjusted view of the Begram ivory and bone objects, and the other objects found in two sealed-off rooms, as part of merchants’ stock awaiting trade or further distribution. And as will be demonstrated, an analysis of comparative material and the chronology of the artifacts similarly support this view.” http://ecai.org/begramweb/docs/begramabstract.htm
Vidisha, Sanchi, Udayagiri complex together with Dhar, Mandu, Eran, all in Madhya Pradesh have yielded ancient metallic objects (exemplified by the Delhi iron pillar), which have been investigated by archaeometallurgical teams led by Prof. Balasubramaniam of IIT, Kanpur and Dr. Anand M. Sharan of Memorial University of Newfoundland. After all, the Delhi iron pillar was made in Udayagiri, Sanchi and the pillar is shaped like the Heliodorus pillar. One is made of non-rusting iron, the other of stone. Both are a celebration of a unique, unparalleled technological heritage combined with the dharma-dhamma civilizational, aadhyaatmika continuum. The unique monuments of hindu civilization exemplify merging of artha, wealth and dharma as purushartha (goals of life).
Turbinella pyrum, s'ankha kr.s'a_na (Rigveda) Burial ornaments made of s'ankha shell (wide bangle, top. r.) and stone disc beads (After Fig. 2.10 in Kenoyer, 1998; Locus: Tomb MR3T.21, Mehrgarh, Period 1A, ca. 6500 BCE. The nearest source for this s'ankha shell is Makran coast (near Karachi), north of Dholavira, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.
s'ankha naadam (Om)
Nausharo (300km. north of Karachi): female terracotta. Period 1B, 2800 to 2600 BCE. 11.6X30.9 cm. (After Fig. 2.19, Kenoyer, 1998) Hair is painted black, parted in the middle of the forehead, with traces of red pigment in the part.This form of ornamentation may be the origin of the later Hindu tradition where a married woman wears a streak of vermilion or powdered cinnabar (sindhur) in the part of her hair. Choker and pendant necklaces are also painted with red pigment representing carnelian?