President: Prof. Shivaji Singh
Vice-Presidents: Prof. TP Verma, Prof. Satish Chandra Mittal
Secretary: Dr. Sharad Hebbalkar
Asst. Secretaries: Dr. Ishwar Sharan Vishvakarma, Dr. Mahaveer Prasad Jain
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Scientists' Colloquium on Sarasvati (Nov. 18 and 19, 2006)
- Special lecture by Dr. Kharaiti Lal Mehra: Origins and diffusion of agriculture, agricultural foundation of Indus-Sarasvati Civilization cf. Rice in Bharatiya history and culture [(Excerpt from Chapter 1 by Dr. Kharaiti Lal Mehra in the book: SD Sharma and B C Nayak (eds.), 2005, Rice in Indian Perspective, 2 vols., Delhi, Today and Tomorrow Printers and Publishers]
- Special lecture by Dr. JR Sharma Course of Vedic River Sarasvati as deciphered from latest satellite data (Presented by Dr. AK Gupta)
- Special lecture by Dr. BK Bhadra, AK Gupta and JR Sharma Sarawati-Drishadvati River systems in Haryana: search through satellite data, archaeological sites, hydrological and litholog data
- Special lecture by Dr. SM Rao, Use of isotopes in search of River Sarasvati (Presented by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman)
The Adhives'an adopted a unanimous resolution that all the 2000 archaeological sites identified on the Sarasvati River Basin in Bharat should be explored to help authenticate the heritage and chronology of the civilization and to revive the tirthasthana as pilgrimage-heritage sites.
Download pdf file : Sarasvati river at Kalayat (Kapilamuni as'ram)
BK Bhadra, AK Gupta, JR Sharma, Sub-surface water oozing at Kalayat village, Jind District, Haryana in December 2005: Possible connection with Sarasvati Palaeochannel [Source: Journal Geological Society of India, Vol. 68, December 2006, pp. 946-948]
(In Hindi) Paper presented by Dr. Hemalatha Bolia, Assoc. Prof. Sanskrit Dept., Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaypur: Jaina sahitya men sarasvati nadi (Sarasvati River in Jaina literature) Download pdf file.
Sarasvati Dars'an Exhibition
Smt. Sandhya Jain on 17 November 2006. The theme of the Exhibition which will now be taken to reach every village, every school in Bharatam is this: Sarasvati is neither a myth, nor a legend, but a scientifically proven fact.
S. Kalyanaraman (31 Jan. 2007):
Anna 'rice' (RV); leads on origins and spread of rice in Ganga valley
Tewari et al. further note, with reference to the finds of charred rice-grains: "The carbonised remains of domesticated rice during the course of initial excavations in 2001-2 were limited in quantity. During the course of subsequent excavations, the finding of grains in sufficient number ( Pl.2) has corroborated the evidence of domesticated rice right from the onset of occupation at the site. According to Saraswat, these grains represent both domesticated and wild varieties, which further corroborates the beginning of rice-based agriculture at the site at least around middle of the seventh millennium BC. Apart from that the presence of foxtail grass along with rice is also attested. Detailed study of the other botanical remains is underway." (ibid., p. 71)
What is found at Lahuradewa is black-and-red ware. There is a remarkable correlationn between this style of potsherds and the cultivation of rice as shown in the following map. (The dates in the map need to be revised in the light of the remarkable archaeological findings of Tewari et al. 2006) Clearly there is a movement from Lothal eastwards and then north-eastwards into Ganga valley. Mleccha were, indeed, the foundation of Hindu civilization on Sarasvati-Ganga river basins and in an extended domain along the coastal, maritime rim of Hindumahasagar (Indian ocean). This is a valid hypothesis, based on the decipherment of Sarasvati hieroglyphs as metallurgical artefacts and the presence of iron ore mines and early iron smelting in the Ganga river basin. Tin and zinc were the key in the metals age: one was denoted by the hieroglyph ranku (antelope) and another by sattva (svastika glyph).
http://hindunet.org/saraswati/html/Image13.jpg Map showing the probable diffusion of the black-and-red ware techniques and rice cultivation, based the course of subseeon C-14 dates (given in brackets). The earliest appearance of the Black and Red ware is in Lothal (2200 BC) and next comes Ahar (2000 BC). The settlement evidence of this chalcolithic culture and the continuity of the vedic traditions in all parts of India indicate an indigenous development of the civilization from ca. 3000 BC to 650 BC (Sonpur).
http://hindunet.org/saraswati/html/Image14.jpg Black on red ware, Khiplewala, Bahawalpur province; Mughal, M.R., 1997, Ancient Cholistan, Pl.58
Also presented are colour plates showing 9 charred rice grains (sub-period 1A).
Here is a picture.
Write-up on the imperative of reclaiming bharatiya language study, bhashya at: http://docs.google.com/View?docid=ajhwbkz2nkfv_620hs8zfc
Presidential address delivered on November 17, 2006 at the 7th Rashtriya Adhives'an, Kurukshetra
Install font http://sarasvati95.googlepages.com/S_bko_n.ttf
IT IS TIME TO ORGANIZE AND INTENSIFY EFFORTS:
INDIAN HISTORY CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO REMAIN UNDER SIEGE ANYMORE
Seventh National Conference of the
Akhila Bhrat…ya Itihsa Samkalana Yojan
Mrga…rsha KishŠa 12-14, Kaliyugbda 5108
(November 17-19, 2006)
Professor Shivaji Singh
Akhila Bhrat…ya Itihsa Samkalana Yojan
Apte Bhawan, Keshav Kunj, Jhandewalan,
lekuh o vkdwfr% lekuk ân;kfu o%A
lekueLrq oks euks ;Fkk o% lqlgklfrAA
(One and the same be your resolve,
And be your minds of one accord;
United be the thoughts of all,
That all may happily agree.)
lEekfur izfrHkkfx;kas] bfrgklkuqjkfx;kas] nsfo;kas vkSj lTtukas!
It is my saubhgyam, my good fortune, to be in your company here today on this momentous occasion of the seventh annual conference of the Akhila Bhrat…ya Itihsa Saˆkalana Yojan. Yes, indeed, it is an exceptionally momentous occasion on several counts:
First and foremost, it is being held at Kuruksetra, the land which ®rimadbhagavadg…t, in its very first loka, glorifies as the (not a) ‘Dharmakshetra’, ‘the place of Dharma’, and which the ¬igveda (hereafter Rv, 3.23.4; 3.53.11) designates as ‘vara prithivyƒ’, ‘the choicest spot on earth’. The Mahbhrata (3.83.4) goes a step further and puts it at par with heaven itself: DakshiŠena Sarasvaty DishadvatyuttareŠa cha; Ye vasanti Kurukshetre te vasanti trivish˜aye.
Then, it was here in Kurukshetra’s sacred lake ®aryaŠvn where, according to the ¬igveda (1.84.13-14), the bones of Dadhyañch štharvaŠa (Dadh…cha) were found with which the thunderbolt for slaying ninetynine Vitras was fashioned. It appears that the valorous event is going to repeat itself. For, the deliberations to be held here shall result, I am confident, into establishment of a genuine paradigm of Indian history that would bring to an end all the various invasionist models of history propounded and perpetuated by anti-Indian and anti-national mindsets during the last two hundred years.
Next, as our history has it, the entire Bhratavarsha is in a sense extension of the Dharmakshetratva of Kurukshetra. For, the value system of our culture, which is still vibrant, was initially formulated here, and it was from here that it defused to various parts of our country and abroad.
Furthermore, and it actually provides the basic reason, raison d’etre of all other reasons, it was through this holy land of Kurus that in hoary antiquity the River Sarasvat… flowed on to other parts of our country right up to the Gulf of Kachchha. It was the mightiest river of its time, praised by people as ‘the best among mothers, the best among rivers and the best among goddesses (ambitame nad…tame devitame Sarsvati, Rv, 2.41.16).
This occasion is momentous also because we are meeting here when our dearest and the holiest mother Sarasvat… has reappeared once again to supply us her nourishing and wisdom-generating waters. In fact, the Sarasvat…’s reappearance is an epochal event of immense national importance. The river was, and still is despite going dry, the lifeline of our great civilization. On its banks lived our enlightened ancestors who developed a unique worldview, blending materialism with spirituality, that helped survive Bhrat…ya culture against all odds during its long existence of over seven millennia.
Significantly, this is the Seventh Annual Conference of the Yojan and the figure ‘seven’ is one of the occult Vedic numbers specially associated with Sarasvat…. As we know, the ¬igveda designates Sarasvat… as ‘saptasvas’ (Rv, 6.61.10), ‘having seven sisters’, ‘saptadhtuƒ’ (Rv, 6.61.12), ‘having seven elements’, and ‘saptath…’ (Rv, 7.36.6), ‘the seventh’.
Finally, a reason more that makes this occasion exceptionally momentous. The present conference is beginning today on 17th November, and over two decades ago, in 1985, it was on this very date, 17th November, that Late Dr. V. S. Wakankar had begun his four thousand miles long Marathon Yatr from šdi Badr… to Somanath tracing the entire course of the Sarasvat…. May this auspicious coincidence about this conference’s ®ubhrambha prove to be as fruitful as did Wakankarji’s Sarasvat… Expedition! Robert R. R. Brooks has aptly designated Wakankarji as a ‘Renaissance Man’. May this Seventh Annual Conference of the Yojan usher in a new and more vigorous phase of renaissance in the field of Bhrat…ya historical studies!
It would be appropriate, I think, to start our talk with the Rigvedic River Sarasvat… itself and see how its rediscovery has cleared off the fog of confusion and misinformation created about it by certain colonial-missionary and pseudo-secularist historians.
River Sarasvat… as depicted in the ¬igveda
Let us briefly present the description of the River Sarasvat… as found in the ¬igveda. In the Rigvedic times, it was a mighty river flowing from the mountains to the sea (giribhyaƒ samudrt, Rv, 7.95.2). The abundance and tremendous force of its waters had an enchanting impact on the minds of the poets who repeatedly described it as:
- ‘abounding in waters’ (maho-arŠaƒ, Rv, 1.3.12),
- ‘flowing rapidly’ (pra-sasre, Rv, 7.95.1; according to SyaŠa, pradhvati …ghram gachchhati),
- ‘moving faultlessly’ (akavr…, Rv, 7.96.3; SyaŠa’s rendering: akutsitagaman),
- ‘possessing unlimited strength’ (yasyƒ amaƒ ananto, Rv, 6.61.8; in the words of SyaŠa, yasyaƒ balam aparyanto-aparimitaƒ),
- ‘the most impetuous of all other streams’ (apasm-apastam, Rv. 6.61.13; SyaŠa renders this epithet as vegavat…nm nadinm madhye vegavattam),
- ‘roaring’ (charati roruvat, Rv, 6.61.8; bhiam abdam kurvan vartate, according to SyaŠa), and even as
- ‘fierce’ (ghor, Rv, 6.61.7; SyaŠa’s interpretation: atr™Šm bhayakriŠ…).
The material and spiritual benefits the River Sarasvat… brought to the people is reflected in several epithets attributed to her as, for example:
- ‘rich in grains’ (vjin…vat…, Rv, 7.96.3; SyaŠa renders the term as annavat…),
- ‘giver of a lot of wealth’ (bh™reƒ ryaƒ chetant…, Rv, 7.95.2; bahulasya dhanni prayachchhant…, according to SyaŠa),
- ‘strong in wealth and power’ (vjeshu vjini, Rv, 6.61.6)
- ‘having golden path’ (hiraŠyavartaniƒ, Rv, 6.61.7),
- ‘promoter of the welfare of the five peoples’ (pañchajt vardhayant…, Rv, 6.61.12),
- ‘the dearest among the dear ones’ (priy priysu, Rv, 6.61.10),
- ‘marked out for majesty among the mighty ones’ (mahimn mahin, Rv, 6.61.13),
- ‘the purest of all rivers’ (nad…nm uchiryat…, Rv, 7.95.2),
- ‘purifier’ (pvak, Rv, 1.3.10; odhayitr…, as explained by SyaŠa),
- ‘auspicious’ (bhdr, Rv, 7.96.3),
- ‘inspirer of those who delight in truth’ (sunitnm chodayitr…, Rv, 1.3.11),
- ‘the instructor of the right minded’ (sumat…nm chetant…, Rv, 1.3.11), etc.
The ¬igveda provides us also an idea of the kind of people (good as well as bad in the eyes of the ¬ishis) settled in the Sarasvat… valley and the neighbouring regions as, for instance:
· P™rus, who, according to the text, dwelt ‘in fullness of their strength’, on both the grassy banks of Sarasvat… (Rv, 7.96.2),
- Bharatas, whose king Vadhryava is said to have begotten Divodsa by Sarasvat…’s Grace (Rv, 6.61.1), and whose princes are found performing yajñas on the banks of Sarasvat…, Dishadvat… and špay (Rv, 3.23.4),
- Pañcha-janƒ (the Five Peoples), that is, Anus, Druhyus, Yadus, Turvaas and P™rus, whose welfare the Sarasvat… had increased (Rv, 6.61.12),
- Nhushas, descendents of Nahusha, on whom the Sarasvat… had poured her benefits (Rv, 7.95.2),
- PaŠis, the ‘churlish niggard, thinking only of themselves’ whom the Sarasvat… consumed (Rv, 6.61.1),
- Prvatas, who were destroyed by the Sarasvat… (Rv, 6.61.2), and
- Bisayas, whom the Sarasvat… rooted out (Rv, 6.61.3).
Thus, we have a realistic picture in the ¬igveda of a mighty and highly glorified river named Sarasvat… descending from the Hamlayas, flowing from Kurukhetra to Kachchha, and emptying into the sea there, with names of the people living on its banks and in its valley. The fact that the river was later lost in the sands of the desert at a place called Vi-naana (literally ‘disappearance’) is also attested to by the literature (Pañchvima BrhmaŠa, 25.10.6; Jaimin…ya Upanishad BrhmaŠa, 4.26; etc.). There is absolutely no ambiguity in descriptions, no room for any controversy, yet an effort was made to hijack the river out of India.
Efforts to hijack the Sarasvat… that failed
In order to force fit the literary descriptions of River Sarasvat… in the so-called Aryan invasion model, certain scholars have gone to the extent of locating it in Afghanistan. The sixth maŠala of the ¬igveda is admittedly the earliest maŠala of the text. Taking advantage of this fact, Alfred Hillebrandt, a Professor of Sanskrit in eighteen eighties at the University of Breslau, Germany, who later held the position of Vice-Chancellor of that university twice, distinguished two Rigvedic Sarasvat…s, western and eastern. According to him, the scene of action in the sixth maŠala of the ¬igveda is the Arachosia region in Afghanistan and the Sarasvat… depicted in that maŠala is river Arghandab flowing there (Hillebrandt 1891/1999:2.209-12). It was, this western Sarasvat…, the Arghandab, in his opinion, that had blessed Vadhryava with a son named Divodsa. He locates the PaŠis, Prvatas and Bisayas, mentioned in the sixth maŠala, in and around Arachosia identifying them with Parnians of Strabo, Paroyetai of Ptolemy, and Barsaentes of Arrian respectively. However, as it was next to impossible for him to locate the Bharata princes performing yajñas on the banks of Sarasvat…, Dishadvat… and špay, associated together, he admitted that the Sarasvat… of the seventh and all other maŠalas of the ¬igveda, except the sixth, was the eastern Sarasvat… that flowed through Kuruksetra.
In their paper entitled ‘The Historical Geography of India 1800-800 B.C.’, presented to the 52nd Session of Indian History Congress held in 1992, Irfan Habib and Faiz Habib opine that the name Sarasvat… in the ¬igveda stands for three different rivers. They designate them as Sarasvati-1, Sarasvati-2, and Sarasvati-3. According to the Habibs, Sarasvati-1 is the Avestan Harakhvaiti or Harahvaiti, ‘the river which gave its name to the 10th land created by Ahur Mazda’, the region later known to the Achaemenians as Harakhuvatish and to the Greeks as Arachosia. The Habibs recognize Sarasvati-2 as the Indus itself and assign all descriptions of a mighty Sarasvat… in the text to this river. Sarasvati-3, according to them, is the Sarasvati of the 75th hymn of the tenth book of the ¬igveda (the famous Nad… S™kta) in which ‘Sarasvati appears among the tributaries of the Sindhu’. It is Sarasvati-3, they conclude, which is ‘also the sacred Sarasvati of the later Vedic and post-Vedic literature’ and which is shown as Sarasvati-Ghaggar-Hakra in the Survey of India maps.
Thus, Irfan Habib and Faiz Habib revive more than a century old discarded theories of Hillebrandt, Roth and Zimmer at a stretch. However, unlike Hillebrandt, who identified Sarasvat… with Arghandab, the Habibs equate it with the Helmand ‘above its junction with Arghandab’ because the latter has ‘much smaller volume of water’ to match with Sarasvat… when referred together with big rivers like Sarayu and Sindhu as in ¬igveda, 10.64.9. However, the equation of Sarasvat… with Helmand is simply out of question. As I have already discussed elsewhere (Singh 1997-98:140), Helmand is Avestan Haetumant, the river that gave its name to the 11th land created by Ahur Mazda (Vendidad, 1.14). Had the Avestan Haetumant been known to the ¬igveda, it must have been known as ‘Setumant’, not as ‘Sarasvat…’.
In fact, the Habibs have done away with this problem just in three paragraphs, covering less than a page of their paper. They have not even referred to the objections, not to speak of countering them, that had led to the rejection of the theories propounded long ago by Hillebrandt, Roth and Zimmer, which they seek to revive. Such is the casual manner of their hypothesizing three Sarasvat…s. Nevertheless, a senior leftist intellectual like R. S. Sharma, takes this placing of the so-called ‘earliest’ Sarasvat… in Afghanistan as a proven fact. On page 35 of his book Advent of the Aryans in India, published in 1999, he states: “The earliest Sarasvati is considered identical with the Helmand in Afghanistan which is called Harakhvaiti in the Avesta” Need we remind him that Helmand is called Haetumant, not Harakhvaiti in the Avesta?
No more speculation: River Sarasvat… is now there before our eyes
These early glimpses of Sarasvat… had alerted the archaeologists who started recognizing and reporting the presence of dry beds of the river from various segments of its possible course in Rajasthan and western India. Significantly, at several places Late Harappan settlements were found on the dry bed itself indicating thereby that the river must have dried up much before the time of those early settlers. Then, a major step forward in Sarasvat…’s search was taken in nineteen seventies-eighties when Landsat imageries provided by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and Indian satellites enabled scientists like Yashpal and Baldev Sahai to chart palaeo-chanells of Ghaggar-Hakra and its tributaries that fitted perfectly with the Rigvedic descriptions of Sarasvat…. As critically brought out in a paper (Yashpal et al. 1984), several points were quite clear by that time. First, the river had ‘a constant width of about 6 to 8 km from Shatrana in Punjab to Marot in Pakistan’. Second, a tributary (Channel Y1) joined it southeast of Markanda. Third, another tributary (Channel Y2) that corresponds with present Chautang (ancient Drishadvat…) joined it near Suratgarh. Fourth, it flowed into the Ran of Kachchha without joining the Indus. Fifth, Sutlej was its main tributary, which later shifted westward, probably due to tectonic activity. Sixth, Yamuna changed its course at least thrice before joining the Ga‰g. In 1985, V. S. Wakankar set out with his team of scientists on his month-long Sarasvat… Expedition. The expedition was extremely fruitful. It brought to light several significant facts about ancient settlements on the river and physically confirmed, on ground, the realities which the space scientists were pointing to by analyses of Landsat imageries.
During the last two decades that have passed since then, researches on Sarasvat… have vigorously continued throwing much fresh light on the river and its history. In a well-researched and thoroughly documented paper, geologists V. M. K. Puri and B. C. Verma (1998) have shown that Vedic Sarasvat… originated from a group of glaciers in Tons fifth order basin at Naitwar in Garhwal Himalaya. The river flowed for some distance in the mountains and receiving nourishment from Algar, Yamuna and Giri ‘followed a westerly and southwesterly course along Bata valley and entered plains at Adi Badri’. This proves that the Rigvedic description of the Sarasvat… as ‘flowing from the mountains’ was a ground reality, not a figment of poetical imagination. In that very paper, Puri and Verma have discussed at length the various developments responsible for the river’s desiccation. According to them, reactivation of Yamun tear, constriction of Vedic Sarasvat…’s catchment area by 94.05%, emergence and migration of river Dishadvat… towards southeast acquiring the present day Yamun course and finally shifting of ®utudr… (Sutlej) forced the Vedic Sarasvat… ‘to change drastically from the grandeur of a mighty and a very large river to a mere seasonal stream’ (Puri and Verma 1998:19).
Many more scholars have contributed to Sarasvat… studies. The list is long but we may mention a few names. K. S. Valdiya, Fellow of the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Studies and Research, Jakkur, Bangalore, has come out with his book The River That Disappeared, published by the Universities Press in 2002. It is a valuable source of information on physical presence of Sarasvat… on ground. The life history of this ‘mighty, snow-fed river that flowed from the foothills of the Himalyas to the shores of the Arabian Sea’ has been discussed within the framework of geological parameters and the inferences rigorously evaluated on the anvil of geodynamics. Significant are also the contributions of S. M. Rao, a nuclear scientist at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. He was examining samples of water collected from deep wells in Pokharan area of Rajasthan to check whether any radioactive elements were present therein due to nuclear tests. To his great and pleasant surprise, he found that the samples were of Himalayan glacial water 8000 to 14000 years old. This brought to his mind the Vedic Sarasvat… and he carried on further investigations on this topic. Later on, he came up with the results of his investigations in a paper entitled ‘Use of isotopes in search of Last River’ that appeared in the Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry, in 2003. In this paper he has shown that ‘the fresh groundwater in that region was indeed ancient and slowly moving southwest and probably had headwater connection in the lower ranges of Himalayas, but not to any glacier.’ It was also noticed that ‘the isotope data (2H, 18O, 3H and 14C) compared well with the data in a similar study on another branch of the buried channel in the Cholistan part of the Thar Desert in Pakistan’. Worth noting is also an authoritative anthology entitled Vedic Sarasvati: Evolutionary History of a Lost River in Northwest India edited by B. P. Radhakrishna and S. S. Merh that contains several important papers of scholars like Baldev Sahai, A. S. Rajawat and others. However, the most copious and covering almost all aspects of Sarasvat… studies are, to my knowledge, the contributions of S. Kalyanaraman, Director, Sarasvat… Nad… ®odha Prakalpa, Chennai. Kalyanaraman has devoted his life to Sarasvat… studies. In fact, his love and devotion for Sarasvat… civilization is so compelling that he took voluntary retirement from his lucrative post of a Senior Executive of the Asian Development Bank, Manila, Philippines, so that he could single-mindedly work on the civilization as a full-time researcher. He has contributed a large number of research papers and published several books including the encyclopaedic Sarasvat… in seven volumes. Besides establishing the reality of Sarasvat…’s existence his researches have opened up several new dimensions in the field of Sarasvat… studies.
In view of the enormous literary, archaeological and scientific data and evidence, referred to above, it is clear that there is only one Rigvedic Sarasvat…, not two or three as imagined by some, and that the river survives as the Ghaggar-Hakra-Sarasvati of the Survey of India maps. Though dried up today, it was the mightiest river of South Asia in its time. Only those who have blindfolded themselves under a spell of bigotry can deny this fact.
Where lived Suds, the hero of the Battle of Ten Kings (Da-rjña)?
It is imperative, therefore, to make a concerted effort to locate the ancient settlements associated with eminent Vedic personalities. We may develop them as T…rthas (places of pilgrimage) or heritage sites. They will not only help enrich the historical consciousness so necessary for national solidarity but also prove extremely fruitful for the development of our tourism.
As I have shown elsewhere (Singh 2004:63-65), it is not difficult to identify at least the main Rigvedic peoples archaeologically. We need only a few more excavations and a little more study of the texts to do that. Take, for example, the case of the Bharatas. The ¬igveda provides clinching pieces of information to locate them geographically. The Bharatas are depicted as performing yajñas on the banks of Sarasvat…, Dishadvat… and špay (Rv, 3.23.4), which means that they lived in and around Kurukshetra. Then, a careful perusal of the ¬igveda shows that the Bharatas were the greatest performers of yajña. There are, to my knowledge, only five persons in the entire ¬igveda after whom sacred Agni (fire for yajña) has been named. They are Bharata, Vadhryava, Divodsa, Devavta, and Trasadasyu indicating their eminence as performers of yajña. Of this list, all except Trasadasyu are Bharatas. This is an important hint since in view of the Bharatas’ preeminence as performers of Vedic sacrifices, we must expect maximum remains of yajñas at the site where the Bharatas lived. In case they occupied several sites, such a preponderance of ritual remains must be found at their capital site. Since maximum number of yajña-kuŠas is reported from Kalibangan, it must be taken to be the capital of the Bharatas until another site in the area is discovered where more copious yajña-related remains are found to be present. This also shows that Hanumangarh District of Rajasthan, where Kalibangan is situated, must have been within the boundaries of ancient Kurukshetra.
The need of a comprehensive Sarasvat… Heritage Project
The rediscovery of Sarasvat… has ushered in a new era in the history of our nation. We need to make the era golden by sincerely working at the national level on a comprehensive Sarasvat… Heritage Project. It is imperative from several points of view:
- It would set at rest all controversy on the relationship between the Vedic Civilization known from literature and the Sarasvat…-Sindhu Civilization known from archaeology. Needless to remind that misunderstanding of this relationship has proved extremely detrimental to our national solidarity.
- There are ancient sites of international importance in Sarasvat… Valley. Some of them are larger in size and earlier in time than Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. Developing them as Rsh˜r…ya T…rthas or heritage sites, as I said, would result into a quantum jump in our tourist industry.
- Ever since its disappearance Sarasvat… has often been designated as Antaƒsalil, that is, flowing underneath the ground. Now scientists like S. M. Rao have confirmed that it is indeed Antaƒsalil. Himalayan glacial water is still slowly moving underneath its dry beds. This underground water may be pumped out and the river may be rejuvenated again or at least tanks along its course be recharged to regain the lost environment.
Indian history still under seize
As is well known, the study of Indian history in modern times began in the late 18th century when the country was under colonial control. Most of the early workers in the field were Europeans who were grounded naturally in European view of history based on Greek historical tradition with little or no knowledge of Indian tradition of historiography. While credit must be given to them for laying the foundation of historical, archaeological and epigraphical studies on India, the overall impact of the history written in the colonial era proved to be extremely disastrous for the country. Several myths were created and perpetuated by historians of the colonial era as, for example:
· The ancient Indians had no sense of history;
· The forefathers of all Indians, barring those of a few so-called ‘aboriginals’, had come here from outside;
· The ‘Aryans’ were barbarous nomadic people who invaded and destroyed the then existing Dravidian civilization in the Indus Valley forcing its inhabitants to move towards south;
· Indian history has three main periods: Hindu, Muslim and British; and each period had started with invasion or arrival of a more powerful people from outside; etc.
Since independence, the political circumstances in the country have been such that historians of Marxist leanings have constantly dominated the field of Indian historical studies except for a short break when Bharatiya Janata Party was in power. Though they have given a new face to Indian history by their interpretations based on Marxist doctrine of dialectical materialism (that in itself is a mix of Hegel and British economics), they have remained as anti-Vedic as were most of the historians of the colonial era. They repeatedly talk of the triad feudalism, capitalism and socialism in context of Indian history too, but never seriously consider a revision of the British periodization of Indian history. They remain contended with the cosmetic change in the nomenclatures from Hindu, Muslim and British to ancient, medieval and modern.
However, unfortunate is not what they did not do or could not do as yet, but what they have actually done so far. They have enthusiastically perpetuated the myths created by the colonial historians besides adding several new ones. They are definitely better than their colonial counterparts in theoretical sophistication, which greatly enhances their damaging capacity. In fact, they have kept Indian history under seize by fabricating ‘facts’ and imposing wrong concepts. It is only recently, with rediscovery of the Vedic river Sarasvat… that their hold on Indian history has started loosening.
Restoring the status and prestige of Indian history
Fortunately, with rediscovery of the Vedic river Sarasvat… the process of its emancipation has started. It is now time to organize and intensify our efforts to completely free it from the clutches of those who dislike and deliberately distort the image of Indian history. In my view, efforts in this direction should be aimed at:
- Correcting the maligned image of the Vedic šryas,
- Emphasizing the distinction between ‘šrya’ and ‘Aryan’,
- Exposing colonial historians’ ulterior motives,
- Denuding Christian missionary fabrications of history,
- Questioning Marxist interpretation of history,
- Rejecting materialist conception of ‘civilization’,
- Reclaiming chronology of ancient Indian history,
- Keeping the concept of Bhrata in mind while writing its history,
- Keeping Indians in focus, not foreigners, in books on Indian history,
- Bringing to the notice of public the fact that the Aryan invasion theory and its incarnations have been demolished.
Within the constraints of time normally allotted to a Presidential Address, let me elaborate these points.
Vedic šryas were highly civilized indigenous people, not nomadic barbarous invaders
Historians of the colonial era badly maligned the image of the Vedic Aryans (read šryas). They originated and perpetuated the notion that the authors of the Vedic Culture were not indigenous to South Asia but had arrived here from somewhere outside as invaders in about 1500 BC. While the place of their original habitat continued to be debated, the image of the early Vedic Aryans as a culturally backward but physically vigorous and bellicose people soon found general acceptance. By the time the Indus Valley Civilization, now known as the Harappan/Indus-Saraswati/Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization, was discovered, the image of the 'barbarous invading Aryans' had turned into an article of faith and, therefore, it was readily accepted that these very invading people destroyed this earliest civilization of South Asia. It was said that they were nomadic pastoralists not doing even agriculture but, being extremely warlike and possessing horses and horse-drawn chariots that provided them superior maneuverability in battles, they succeeded in destroying the Harappan cities and forced their inhabitants, the Dravidians, to move to the south. This notion of a culturally backward, nomadic and tribal Early Aryans has persisted until now and contradicted only recently.
An example of the persisting notion of culturally backward and warlike Early Aryans may be found in R. S. Sharma's book Material Culture and Social Formations in Ancient India published in 1983. Sharma has concluded that down to the time of composition of the Family Books of the Rigveda, the Vedic Aryans were largely nomadic pastoralists ignorant of settled agriculturists' life and were engaged mostly in booty capture. According to him, booty capture was their most important economic institution. On page 38 of his book he declares: “War in the predominantly tribal society of the Rg Veda was a logical and natural economic function” and that it was “the main source which supplied, to the tribal chief or prince, cattle, other animals and women in the shape of spoils”. Again, on page 24 of the book, he opines, “the Family Books show the Rig Vedic people to be predominantly pastoral”.
However, R. N. Nandi contradicts Sharma’s statement and notes: “Not much exercise is needed to show that permanent dwellings, which together with fertile fields constitute the nuclei of sedentary life, already dominate the family portions of the Rgveda. But the obsession with pastoral nomads has frequently led scholars to gloss over the data bearing on these essentials of sedentary life” (Nandi 1989-90:45).
Bhagwan Singh goes still a step ahead and remarks: “Contrary to the general belief that the Vedic society was pastoral and nomadic, we find it to be one of the most civilized societies of its time. Rgveda is agog with mercantile activities undertaken by its traders against all conceivable odds” (Singh 1993:192).
The changing paradigm is clearly reflected by these opinions expressed by three scholars all of whom, it may incidentally be noted, are Marxists.
‘šrya’ is a reality, ‘Aryan’ a myth
A lot of confusion has been created and damage done by not distinguishing the terms ‘šrya’ and ‘Aryan’ from each other and using them interchangeably. However, it must be noted that they are two entirely different concepts. The word ‘šrya’ means ‘civilized’. It does not denote any colour, race or language. The Rigvedic people, who evolved sublime concepts like ‘¬ita’, ‘Satya’ and ‘Dharma’, started using the word ‘šrya’ as a term of self-designation to distinguish them from those who were not cultured enough to conceive these highly refined ideas. Ever since, this word has been in usage in the sense of ‘noble’ and ‘respected’. Being self-designation of a people and used as an appellative or denominative, the word ‘šrya’ represents a historical reality.
As against this, the term ‘Aryan’ or, more precisely, ‘Indo-Aryan’ denotes the speaker of a language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. Clearly, it is a modern linguistic construct. Now, validity of any construct is subject to verification; and the validity of ‘Aryan’ could not be verified independently because it is based on equally hypothetical constructs of a ‘Proto-Indo-European mother language’ giving rise to a ‘linguistic family’. ‘Aryan’ is, therefore, a myth, a mere conjecture.
Materialist understanding of history and historical process is faulty
According to leftist intellectuals, the conditions of social production determine the development of culture. They interpret history according to the methodology provided by Marx and Lenin, which perceives the objective basis of the unity of historical process in social mode of production. However, this materialist understanding of history and historical process is faulty. Here is an incidence that makes it quite clear.
The Marxist historians are wrong because they take their model of historical development for granted and then force fit the data to validate it. This is certainly not an objective way of doing research. It is a matter of common knowledge that data collection is influenced by the hypothesis already present in researcher’s mind. Knowingly or unknowingly, data suiting the hypothesis are collected and those not suiting, overlooked. In fact, it is to avoid this interference of mental inclination on both, hypothesis formation as well as data collection, that the method of ‘multiple alternative hypotheses’ has been introduced in modern research (Singh 1985:66-67). The Marxist historians conveniently overlook this fact. It is true that history writing cannot be made hundred percent objective; nevertheless, the accepted norm is to make history objective as far as possible. The Marxists do not seem to accept this norm and by doing so, they erase the line of demarcation between history and political propaganda.
The aberrations created by the Marxist historians in Indian history are too many to be recounted here. In fact, they have used history as an instrument to destroy the values cherished in Indian culture from times immemorial. They have joined hands with colonial-missionary historians in resisting the development of an objective Bhrat…ya history. Removing the distortions produced by the Marxists in Indian history is a formidable challenge before the present generation of historians.
Equating urbanization and civilization is wrong
It is wrong to equate stages of urbanization and civilization with each other and to designate all rural societies as barbarous. However, this is what most of the historians and archaeologist have been doing under the impact of Marxist thinking. It would be interesting to know how such an obviously wrong practice came to be introduced in history and archaeology.
Long ago, in 1877, the famous French scholar Lewis H. Morgan wrote a book entitled Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization. The stages of so-called human progress distinguished in this book were adopted and elaborated by Frederick Engels in his famous essay 'The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State' written in German which appeared in Zurich in 1884. V. G. Childe took it from Engels and introduced in the fields of history and archaeology.
In this scheme of cultural development in three stages, the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic societies, doing neither agriculture nor animal husbandry, are called ‘food-gatherers’ and placed in the stage of savagery. Savages were leading nomadic life since they had to move from place to place in search of food. From Neolithic onwards, when agriculture and domestication of animals started, people began to live in villages. They are designated as ‘food-producers’ and assigned to the stage of barbarism. It was only when urbanization was started by trading communities that people are said to have reached the stage of civilization.
Guarding against Christian missionary fabrication of history
We need to be watchful of Christian missionary fabrications of history. These fabrications often remain unnoticed since they are done among ignorant masses living in remote areas. In colonial era, however, missionaries were bold enough to publish their fabrications of history in reputed journals. I will refer to just one such instance.
Long ago, an effort was made by a missionary historian to prove that VashŠavism was derived from Christianity. He advanced three arguments: First, there is phonetic resemblance between the names Christ and KishŠa. Second, the followers of VaishŠavism celebrate Janmsh˜am…, a birthday celebration that is clearly a Christian tradition. Third, the NaryaŠ…ya Upkhyna of the Mahbhrata informs that Nrada went to ®veta-dv…pa to learn the tenets of the Pñchartra Dharma there. ®veta-dv…pa is described as situated towards the northwest in Ksh…rasgara where white-complexioned (Gaur‰ga) people lived. This, it was argued, was a clear indication of someone going to England and being initiated in Christianity that later came to be known as VaishŠavism.
Fortunately, however, this theory of Christian origin of VaishŠavism could not last long. A stone pillar with an inscription on it was discovered at Besanagar near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. The inscription records the erection of a Garudadhvaja (pillar mounted by Garuda, the vehicle of VishŠu) in honour of Vsudeva, the God of gods, by a Greek devotee of KishŠa (Bhgvata) named Heliodorus. According to the inscription, Heliodorus was a resident of Taxila who had come to the court of ®u‰ga king Bhgabhadra as an ambassador of Indo-Greek king Antalikidas. Now, Antalikidas is known to have ruled at Taxila in 135 BCE. This fact established beyond doubt that the missionary historian’s theory was totally concocted since at least 135 years before the birth of Christ an Indo-Greek had come from Taxila to Vidisha and accepted VaishŠavism.
Bringing to the notice of public the fact that the Aryan invasion/migration theories have been discarded
There are no takers now of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT). Even its erstwhile upholders accept this fact. The theory was demolished because neither literature nor archaeology obliged the proponents of the theory. The only evidence of massacre at Mohenj-daro advanced by Mortimer Wheeler was proved to be a myth (Dales 1964).
However, the AIT was reincarnated as AMT (the Aryan Migration Theory), but it too stands rejected mainly because:
· the proponents of the AMT widely disagree among themselves with the result that several versions of AMT have come into existence that contradict each other;
· the only so-called evidence of migration advanced by Michael Witzel, based on a loka (18.44) of the Baudhyana ®rauta-S™tra, has been unanimously rejected;
· solid evidence have come to light to show that Vedic šryas are sons of the soil, not aliens; and
· anthropological, biological and, above all, genetic findings rule out the possibility of any Aryan migrations.
Reclaiming chronology of ancient Indian history
One of the major challenges in Bhrat…ya historical studies relate to correction of various dates and durations of events and processes in Indian history. Of late, some success has been achieved in this direction. Based on simulations using the planetarium software, the Mahbhrata War has been dated to 3067 BCE (Achar 2006). Mathematical and other data indicate that the ¬igveda is a pre-3750 BCE composition (Rajaram and Frawley 1995), and linguistic and astronomical evidence take its antiquity back to the fifth millennium BCE.
Similarly, the times of Gautam Buddha, PŠini, Kau˜ilya, šdi ®a‰karchrya and other celebrated personalities of early Indian history have been revised. It may be hoped that ancient Indian chronology would soon be fully reclaimed.
Reformulating periodization of Indian history
Long ago, the British historian James Mill divided the course of Indian history into three periods: Hindu, Muslim and British. Mill’s periodization still continues with cosmetic change as Ancient, Medieval and Modern. This formulation is totally ill conceived and controversial. We, therefore, need to reformulate the periodization afresh.
In 1956, K. M. Munshi distinguished four distinct epochs of Indian culture (Munshi 1956:112-23). First, the Age of Expansion, which continued from the earliest times down to 1000 CE. Second, the Age of Resistance, from 1000 CE to 1300 CE ‘at the end of which the Sultanate of Delhi became an imperial power in India’. Third, the Age of Modern Renaissance, that began in the 17th century with rise of Ramdas and Shivaji in Maharashtra, the Gurus in the Punjab and the Rajputs in Rajasthan. Despite political and economic domination by Britain the upsurgence continued and was expressed in the Great Revolt of 1857 and in actions and thoughts of Dayanand Sarasvati, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekanand, Tilak, Sri Arvid, and several other saints and savants. The fourth and the last is the Age of Cultural Crisis which started with independence in 1947 and which continues even today.
We may revise, expand and further improve the periodization outlined by K. M. Munshi.
The need of a sense of proportion and propriety: Indian history must always keep Indians in focus
It hurts to find that many books on Indian history are replete with detailed descriptions about the bravery of foreign invaders on India like Alexander and Babur; but, they have very little to say about the brave resistance that the Indians put against the invaders. Is it a proper sense of proportion and propriety in a book on Indian history?
However, the bravery with which the Indians came up and the sacrifices they made in resisting Alexander’s invasion find very little space in the chapter. We find only passing reference to the Ashvakas who gave Alexander a tough battle. As the Greek accounts inform us, ‘when the Ashvakas and their leader died fighting, all their women under the command of the dead leader’s brave wife, took arms from the hands of their killed husbands and fought to the end’. Similarly, the innumerable lives the Ka˜has laid down in defending their fort at Sangal, which terrified Alexander’s soldiers, is done away with just in one or two sentences. The BrhmaŠas of Sindh had made a clarion-call to face the foreign invasion to save Dharma and had taken arms in their hands; but it is seldom highlighted. These pieces of information become all the more significant because they are supplied not by Indian sources but by Greek and Roman accounts that had no interest in glorifying Indians.
In history books, even in some of those that are authored by Indian historians, the Macedonian hero is called ‘Alexander, the Great’! But, what for? Why is he called ‘the Great’? No body has explained it as yet.
We must not forget one basic fact. It is the expression of eternal Indian spirit in words and deeds that deserves to be the subject matter of Indian history. This spirit is expressed most clearly in odd situations like an invasion or any other national calamity. Invasions provide contexts and they should be taken as such, not as an organic part of Indian historical process.
Keeping personality of Bhrata in mind while writing Indian history
The concept of India and the understanding of Indian history are interconnected. If you want to know India, you need to go through its history. But, if you want to write the history of India, you must be conversant with the personality of India before hand. Some scholars do not appear to be sensitive to this interconnection and take the issue of the ‘Idea of India’ lightly.
Thus, in his H. D. Sankalia Memorial Lecture entitled ‘The idea of India and its heritage: The millennium challenges’, delivered in December 2000, D. P. Agrawal remarks: “Nations are essentially spatio-temporal concepts, which change with time and geography. So let us not get bogged down into such mires but address the more substantive and challenging issues” (Agrawal 2001:21). Agrawal is a senior scholar and an old friend of mine whose scholarship I highly admire despite differences of opinion on historical issues. However, I fail to see why Agrawal taking the ‘Idea of India’ as a millennium challenge finally whisks it away as a less-substantive or less-challenging issue. India is not just a spatio-temporal entity that has been changing with time and geography. India has a personality of its own, and the millennium challenge is to define that personality.
In this lecture, Agrawal quotes the famous words from Nehru’s Discovery of India that depict India as “an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously”. It is true that Nehru emphasized the miscegenation and accretion of cultures in India and that was true for most of the early epochs of Indian culture. Living at a time when the Aryan Invasion Theory was taken as an article of faith, Nehru could not think of an original indigenous culture of India. He could not see that the ancient palimpsest he was talking about had, in fact, an original inscription engraved on it so deeply that layer upon layer of subsequent engravings could neither hide nor erase it.
Nevertheless, despite all British impact on his education and personality, Nehru had occasional glimpse of ‘Indianness’. In his Foreword to Filiozat’s India (1962), he writes: “There is an Indianness which distinguishes every part of India....That Indianness is something unique and deeper than the external differences.” Nehru felt this Indianness emotionally and intuitively but he could not locate its primary source (utsa).
In fact, Bhrat…yat or Indianness cannot be defined in geographical and political terms. It can be defined only culturally as a set of values based on intuitive recognition of transcendental spirituality. Spirituality, it may be noted, is a category of perception higher than religion or even morality. Bhrat…yat or Indianness is distinguished by a spiritual vision of life, which the Vedic ¬ishis have bequeathed to humanity.
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Professor Shivaji Singh
A scholar of eminence in the field of ancient history, culture and archaeology, Prof. Shivaji Singh (b. 1934) taught first at the Banaras Hindu University and later at the University of Gorakhpur, where he was professor and head of the department until 1995. He has been a Senior Research Fellow of the ICHR and completed two major research projects: one ‘Vedic Horizon in Archaeology’ and the other ‘Rigvedic and Harappan Ethno-Geographic Configurations’.
Under the scheme of exchange of scholars between India and Greece, he stayed at Athens for two years (1969-71). During this period, he worked as a Greek Government Scholar in Archaeology, studied Greek language at the University of Athens, participated in the Ancient Greek Cities Research Project of the Athens Center of Ekistics, and wrote a book on the Neolithic Age in Greece.
He has supervised archaeological expeditions in eastern UP bringing to light several ancient sites and valuable antiquities. He has visited archaeological sites and museums at several places in Egypt, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, UK and USA.
He has produced several Ph.D.s, published a large number of research papers and authored several original books like Evolution of Smriti Law (1972), Models, Paradigms, and the New Archaeology (1985), Vedic Culture and Its Continuity: New Paradigms and Dimensions (2003), Rigvaidika šrya aur Sarasvat…-Sindhu Sabhyat (2004).
He has delivered presidential and keynote addresses in several academic gatherings in India and abroad. In 2004, he was awarded Vakankar National Prize for his outstanding scholarly contributions in the area of Vedic history and archaeology. Presently, he is President ABISY (Akhila Bhrat…ya Itihsa Sa‰kalana Yojan).