Michel Danino

Dear Mr Jeyakumar Ramasami,


Thank you for your mail. I am afraid I must disagree with your thesis, having studied the Indus-Sarasvati civilization for many years. I fail to see how Mohenjo-daro hundreds of streets and lanes and thousands of houses, of Dholavira’s broad streets and numerous habitations, could have anything to do with necropolises. Their elaborate urban character is certainly not “popularly imagined” as you would have it, and the place given to burial and other treatment of the dead is moderate — respectful and important, but certainly minor compared to other aspects of Harappan life. Even sites called “necropolises”, such as Sanauli, are only burial grounds for which a corresponding settlement always existed, whether it has been unearthed or not. In the Harappan civilization as in most others, the living did not mix with the dead, and burial grounds were always planned at specific locations outside the city (generally on its southern or western side).


In fact, no civilization, not even that of ancient Egypt which lay so much emphasis on the afterlife, can be termed a necropolis. I would suggest that you spend some time studying several early civilizations from various parts of the world.


With regards,


Michel Danino

Michel Danino's home page for your reference:


The Harappans were expert craftsmen. They made beads of carnelian, agate, amethyst, turquoise, lapis lazuli, etc. ; they manufactured bangles out of shells, glazed faience and terracotta ; they carved ivory and worked shells into ornaments, bowls and ladles ; they cast copper (which they mined themselves in Baluchistan and Rajasthan) and bronze for weapons, all types of tools, domestic objects and statues (such as the famous “dancing girl”) ; they also worked silver and gold with great skill, specially for ornaments.

Michel Danino - A profile

Born in 1956 at Honfleur (France) into a Jewish family recently emigrated from Morocco, from the age of fifteen Michel Danino was drawn to India, some of her great yogis, and soon to Sri Aurobindo and Mother and their view of evolution which gives a new meaning to our existence on this earth. In 1977, dissatisfied after four years of higher scientific studies, he left France for India, where he has since been living.

Michel Danino participated in the English translation and publication of Mother’s Agenda (13 volumes, Mother’s record of her yoga in the depths of the body consciousness) and several books by Satprem (Mother’s confidant and recipient of Mother’s Agenda). Michel Danino also edited, among other titles, India’s Rebirth (a selection from Sri Aurobindo’s works about India, available online ; first published in 1993, now in its 3rd edition, translated into nine Indian languages) and India the Mother (a selection from Mother’s words, 1998).

Studying India’s culture and ancient history in the light of both Sri Aurobindo’s pioneering work and archaeological research, in 1996 Michel Danino authored The Invasion That Never Was, a brief study of the Aryan invasion theory. Intended primarily for the educated non-specialist Indian public, the book has also been well received in scholarly circles. A second, extensively revised and enlarged edition was brought out in 2000; a third is scheduled for late 2003.

Over the last few years, Michel Danino has given lectures at various official, academic and cultural forums on issues confronting Indian culture and civilization in today’s world ; some of them have been published under the titles Sri Aurobindo and Indian Civilization (1999),The Indian Mind Then and Now (2000), Is Indian Culture Obsolete ? (2000), and Kali Yuga or the Age of Confusion (2001). Delving into the roots of Indian civilization, Michel Danino has argued that its essential values remain indispensable in today’s India — and in fact for all humanity in this critical phase of global deculturization and dehumanization. Many of those lectures and a few new ones are available on this homepage.

Michel Danino’s other fields of activity include Nature conservation; his action for the preservation of an important pocket of native tropical rainforest in the Nilgiris led to the creation of Tamil Nadu’s first “watchdog” committee in which concerned citizens actively collaborated with both the Forest Department and local villagers in conservation work, also involving local teachers and hundreds of students.

In 2001, Michel Danino convened the International Forum for India's Heritage (IFIH) with over 160 eminent founder members, whose mission is to promote the essential values of India's heritage in every field of life.

The Lost River : On The Trail Of The Sarasvati 
Michel Danino (Author)

List Price: Rs. 399

Publisher: Penguin Books India (03/15/2010)

Book Summary of The Lost River : On The Trail Of The Sarasvati

The Indian subcontinent was the scene of dramatic upheavals a few thousand years ago. The Northwest region entered an arid phase, and erosion coupled with tectonic events played havoc with river courses. One of them disappeared. Celebrated as ‘Sarasvati’ in the Rig Veda and the Mahabharata, this river was rediscovered in the early nineteenth century through topographic explorations by British officials. Recently, geological and climatological studies have probed its evolution and disappearance, while satellite imagery has traced the river’s buried courses and isotope analyses have dated ancient waters still stored under the Thar Desert.

In the same Northwest, the subcontinent’s first urban society—the Indus civilization—flourished and declined. But it was not watered by the Indus alone: since Aurel Stein’s expedition in the 1940s, hundreds of Harappan sites have been identified in the now dry Sarasvati’s basin. The rich Harappan legacy in technologies, arts and culture sowed the seeds of Indian civilization as we know it now.

Drawing from recent research in a wide range of disciplines, this book discusses differing viewpoints and proposes a harmonious synthesis—a fascinating tale of exploration that brings to life the vital role the ‘lost river of the Indian desert’ played before its waters gurgled to a stop.