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Volume 1

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman
Babasaheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti
Bangalore 2003

SARASVATI: Civilization by S. Kalyanaraman
Copyright Dr. S. Kalyanaraman

Publisher: Baba Saheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti, Bangalore

Price: (India) Rs. 500 ; (Other countries) US $50 .

Copies can be obtained from:

S. Kalyanaraman, 5 Temple Avenue, Srinagar Colony, Chennai, Tamilnadu 600015,

email: kalyan97@yahoo.com
Tel. + 91 44 22350557; Fax 4996380

Baba Saheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti,

Yadava Smriti, 55 First Main Road, Seshadripuram, Bangalore 560020, India
Tel. + 91 80 6655238

Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Samiti, Annapurna, 528 C Saniwar Peth, Pune 411030
Tel. +91 020 4490939

Library of Congress cataloguing in publication data

Kalyanaraman, Srinivasan.
Sarasvati/ S. Kalyanaraman

Includes bibliographical references and index

1.River Sarasvati. 2. Indian Civilization. 3. R.gveda
Printed in India at K. Joshi and Co., 1745/2 Sadashivpeth, Near Bikardas Maruti
Temple, Pune 411030, Bharat

ISBN 81-901126-1-0

Burial ornaments made of shell
and stone disc beads, and
turbinella pyrum (sacred conch,
s’an:kha) bangle, Tomb Step well, Abaneri
MR3T.21, Mehrgarh, Period 1A,
ca. 6500 BCE. The nearest source
for this shell is Makran coast near
Karachi, 500 km. South. [After Fig.
2.10 in Kenoyer, 1998].

About the Author
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman has a Ph.D. in Public Administration from
the University of the Philippines; his graduate degree from
Annamalai University was in Statistics and Economics. His PhD
dissertation was on development administration, a comparative
study of 6 Asian countries, published as Public Administration in
Asia in 2 volumes.

He was a Senior Executive in the Asian Development Bank,

Manila, Philippines for 18 years from 1978 to 1995 responsible for the world-wide IT
network of the Bank and disbursements on a portfolio of US$60 million for over 600
projects in 29 developing countries of Asia-Pacific region. Prior to joining the Bank, he
was Financial Advisor on the Indian Railways (responsible, as part of a professional
team, for introducing computers on the Railways) and Chief Controller of Accounts,
Karnataka Electricity Board. He took voluntary retirement from the Bank five years'
ahead of schedule and returned to Bharat to devote himself to Sarasvati River
researches and development projects.

He is well-versed in many languages of Bharat: Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi,

Sanskrit. He has compiled a comparative dictionary for 25 ancient Indian languages,
titled Indian Lexicon. He has set up a website on Sarasvati River and Civilization with
over 30,000 files (http://www.hindunet.org/saraswati ); he is the founder of the
yahoogroup, IndianCivilization, which has over 800 members (April 2003). His work,
Sarasvati, was published in 2001 a compendium on the discovery of Vedic River
Sarasvati. The present 7-volume enyclopaedic work on Sarasvati Civilization is a result
of over 20 years of study and research. He is Director, Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp,
Akhil Bharatiya Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana, Chennai 600015. The Prakalp is engaged
in researches related to Sarasvati Civilization and interlinking of national rivers of
Bharat. He has contributed to many scholarly journals and participated in and made
presentations in a number of national and international conferences including the World
Sanskrit Conference held in Bangalore in 1995. He delivered the Keynote address in
the International Conference of World Association of Vedic Studies, 3rd Conference
held in University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, in July 2002. kalyan97@yahoo.com

Diacritical marks used

The Kyoto-Harvard convention is NOT used since the intermingling of English words
with Indian language words wll distort the representation of capital letters and is not
easy to read.

The standard diacritical marks are deployed but, instead of ligaturing them on top and
bottom of the alphabet, the diacritical marks FOLLOW immediately after the vowel or
consonant which is modified. For e.g., a_ connotes ‘long a’, n. connotes retroflex N.
After the UNICODE is standardized, the next edition will display the modified codes
for ease of representation on web pages on the internet.

a rut,at e bet d then

a_/ law e_ ate d. dot
a~_ long e~_ bane l. rivalry
/a~ un- /e~ when,whey n. and
i it o obese n- new
i_ bee o_ note r- curl
i~_ been o~_ bone,one r. rug
/i~ in m. mum r.. (zsh)
u you n: king s fuse
u_/ ooze n~ nyet s. shut
u~_ boon h-/k- what s' sugar
/u~ june c change t both
c. so t. too

Abbreviations used for linguistic categories and other languages
Languages, Epigraphs etym. etymology
As'. As'okan inscriptions f./fem. feminine
Austro-as. Austro-asiatic (cf. Munda) fig. figuratively
BHSkt. Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit fr. from
(Franklin Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid fut. future
Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary, gen. genitive
Newhaven, 1953) hon. honorific
Dard. Dardic id. idem (having the same meaning)
Dhp. Ga_ndha_ri or Northwest Prakrit (as imper.imperative
recorded in the Dharmapada ed. J. incl. including
Brough, Oxford 1962) inf.infinitive
Drav. Dravidian inj.injunctive
IA. Indo-aryan inscr.inscription
IE. Indo-european lex. lexicographical works or Kos'as
Ind. Indo-aryan of India proper excluding lit. literature
Kafiri and Dardic (as classified by R.L. loc. locative
Turner) m. masculine
KharI. Kharos.t.hi_ inscriptions; Middle M Middle
Indo-aryan forms occurring in Corpus metath. metathesis (of)
Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol. II Pt.I, N North
Calcutta, 1929 MIA Middle Indo-aryan Na_ Na_ci Na_t.u usage
NiDoc. Language of 'Kharos.t.hi_ Naut. Nautical
Inscriptions discovered by Sir Aurel Stein nom.nominative
in Chinese Turkestan' edited by A.M. nom.prop. nomen proprium (proper name)
Boyer, E.J. Rapson, and E. Senart num.numeral(s)
Ar.Arabic NWNorth-west
Aram.Aramaic O Old
Arm.Armenian obl. oblique case
Av. Avestan (Iranian) onom.onomatopoeic
E. English p. page
Gk. Greek part. participle
Goth. Gothic pass. passive
Ishk. Ishka_shmi_ (Iranian) perf. perfect
Kurd. Kurdish (Iranian) perh. perhaps
Lat. Latin phonet.phonetically
Lith.Lithuanian pl. plural
OHG. Old High German pp. past participle (passive)
Orm. O_rmur.i_ (Iranian) pres. present
OSlav. Old Slavonic pron. pronoun
Par. Para_ci_ (Iranian) Pudu. Pudukkottai usage

Pahl. Pahlavi (Iranian) redup. reduplicated
Pers. Persian (Iranian) ref. reference(s)
Port. Portuguese S South
Pr. Prasun (Kafiri) sb./subst.substantive
Psht. Pashto (Iranian) semant. semantically
Tib. Tibetan st. stem
Toch. Tocharian subj. subjunctive
Turk. Turkish syn. synonym
Yid. Yidgha (Iranian) Tinn. Tinnevelly usage
Tj. Tanjore usage
Abbreviations : Grammatical usu. usual(ly)
vais.n..vais.n.ava usage
* hypothetical vb. verb
< (is) derived from viz. videlicet (namely)
> (has) become W West
? doubtful
Xinfluenced by
+ extended by
~ parallel with
adj. adjective
adv. adverb
aor. aorist
caus. causative
cent. century
cf. confer (compare)
com. commentary, t.i_ka_
dat. dative
dist.fr.distinct from
du. dual
E East
e.g. example


I had written a foreword for Dr. Kalyanaraman’s work titled Sarasvati in 2000. As
promised, he has now followed up this work with an additional seven volumes to
complete the encyclopaedia on Sarasvati – the river, godess and civilization of

It is a privilege indeed to receive the seven volumes titled:

Sarasvati: Civilization
Sarasvati: R.gveda
Sarasvati: River
Sarasvati: Bharati
Sarasvati: Technology
Sarasvati: Language
Sarasvati: Epigraphs

This septet constitutes a fitting homage to Babasaheb (Uma_ka_nt kes’av) Apte,

particularly in the wake of the centenary celebrations planned for 2003 in memory of
this patriot who wanted a presentation of the history of Bha_rata from a Bha_rati_ya
socio-cultural perspective.

The dream of the late Padmashri Vakankar, archaeologist is also partly fulfilled with
the delineation of the peoples’ lives over 5,000 years on the banks of the Rivers
Sarasvati and Sindhu.

The Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp which is headed by Dr. Kalyanaraman under the
guidance of Shri Haribhau Vaze, All-India Organizing Secretary, Akhila Bharateeya
Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana should be complimented for bringing to successful
completion this important phase of writing of the history of ancient Bha_rata.

The River Sarasvati has not only been established as ground-truth (bhu_mi satyam),
but the vibrant civilization which was nurtured on the banks of this river has been
exquisitely unraveled in the five volumes, covering virtually all aspects of the lives of
the pitr.-s, many of whose a_s’rama-s are venerated even today in many parts of

The seven volumes provide a framework for understanding the writing system evolved
ca. 5,300 years ago to record the possessions and items traded by metal- and fire-
workers, the bharata-s. The language spoken by the people is also becoming clearer,
with the existence of a linguistic area on the banks of the two rivers – the substrata and
ad-strata lexemes which seem to match the glyphs of inscribed objects are a testimony

to this discovery. This calls for a paradigm shift in the study of languages of Bha_rata
with particular reference to the essential semantic unity of all the language families,
thanks to intense socio-economic and cultural interactions across the length and breadth
of Bha_rata.

Hopefully, this work should generate many more research studies of this kind to further
study the impact of the civilization on the cultural unity of the nation.

It is also heartening to note that work has started to revive the Rivr Sarasvati and to
interlink the rivers of the country. This will be a garland presented by the children of
the country to Bha_rata Ma_ta_ setting up a network of about 40,000 kms. Of National
Waterways which will complement the Railways system to further strengthen the
infrastructure facilities and to provide a fillip to development projects in all sectors of
the economy.

I understand that Kalyanaraman is now embarking on a project to write the history of

Dharma. I wish him all success in his endeavours.

M.N. Pingley

Kaliyugabda 5105. a_s.a_d.ha, Gurupurnima. July 13, 2003 CE.

Publisher’s Note

On behalf of Baba Saheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti, it gives me great pleasure to publish
the set of seven volumes of the encyclopaedic work of Dr. S. Kalyanaraman with over 4,000 illustrations
and impressive documentation.

Sarasvati: Civilization
Sarasvati: R.gveda
Sarasvati: River
Sarasvati: Bharati
Sarasvati: Technology
Sarasvati: Language
Sarasvati: Epigraphs

This is a follow-up of the first work titled Sarasvati published in 2000 which focused on the River
Sarasvati. These seven additional volumes focus on the language, writing system, technology – archaeo-
metallurgy, in particular, the lives of the people who lived between 3500 to 5300 years ago and the
importance of this legacy and heritage on the history of Bha_rata.

This compendium has been made possible by the contributions made by scientists and scholars of the
country from a variety of disciplines, ranging from geology and glaciology to atomic research and
language studies. This comprehensive work on Sarasvati thus constitutes a golden chapter in the work of
the Akhila Bharateeya Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana, providing the foundation for future works on
subsequent periods of the history of the nation.

A principal objective of the Baba Saheb (Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti is the authenticated
study of the history of our nation. For this purpose the Akhila Bharatiya Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana
affiliated with the Samiti, has been working with a number of scholars and institutions organizing
seminars and conferences and bringing out publications. The Samiti is a non-profit, voluntary
organization and is entirely supported by volunteers and philanthropists. I wish to thank all the well-
wishers and contributors to the Samiti’s work. In particular, I would like to acknowledge with gratitude
the contribution made by Shri G. Pulla Reddy, Shri Ramadas Kamath, and Basudeo Ramsisaria
Charitable Trust, ICICI, Government of Goa, in enabling this publication. Sincere thanks are due to K.
Joshi and Co., and Dr. C.N. Parchure who have undertaken the supervision of the publication.

Plans have been initiated to start a national center to study the history of vanava_si people, to produce an
encyclopaedia on the Hindu World and to organize research centers in all states of the country, to publish
a series of research volumes on various aspects of the Bharatiya itiha_sa in all languages of Bharat, using
multimedia presentations.

Haribhau Vaze
National Organizing Secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana and Trustee, Baba Saheb
(Umakanta Keshav) Apte Smarak Samiti, Bangalore.
Kaliyugabda 5105. a_s.a_d.ha, Gurupurnima. July 13, 2003 CE

Author’s Preface
At the outset, I offer my sincere thanks to Moropant Pingley and Haribhau Vaze for
their encouragement and support in pursuing this endeavour.

What can I say which has not already been said by eminent scientists, scholars and
thinkers of this great nation? All that I can do is to compile their thoughts and present
them as I see fit and as a tribute to the memories of our pitr.-s and ma_tr.-s, our
ancestors who have made us what we are and who have given us the vira_sat

The septet contains the following volumes:

Sarasvati: Civilization
Sarasvati: R.gveda
Sarasvati: River
Sarasvati: Bharati
Sarasvati: Technology
Sarasvati: Language
Sarasvati: Epigraphs

The enduring nature of the culture of the nation has been a source of awe and
inspiration for many generations of scholars.

The lives of the r.s.i-s and muni-s who contributed to the solidity of the Bha_rata
Ra_s.t.ra is a source of inspiration for generations of students of philosophy, politics,
sociology, spiritual studies, economics and culture.

The earlier work, Sarasvati, published in 2000 focused on the life-history of River
Sarasvati. This set of seven volumes follow-up on this work to present a comprehensive
survey of the lives of the people who nurtured a vibrant civilization on the banks of
River Sarasvati. They were enterprising people who ventured to the banks of River
Sindhu and beyond and had established a network of interactions which extended as far
as Mesopotamia in the west and Caspian Sea in the north-west.

The River Sarasvati, flowing over 1,600 kms. from Mt. Kailas (Ma_nasarovar glacier)
and tributaries emanating from Har-ki-dun (Svarga_rohin.i or Bandarpunch massifs,
Western Garhwal, Uttaranchal), through Kashmir, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh,
Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat made the region lush with vegetation and
provided a highway for interactions extending through the Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of
Khambat, the Persian and Arabian Gulfs. The story of this riverine, maritime
civilization is the story of an enterprising group of people who were wonderstruck by
the bounties of nature and had organized themselves into a cooperating society to

harness the bounties of nature. The Samudra manthanam imagery wherein the asura-s
and deva-s cooperate in churning the ocean for its riches is an allegory of this quest for
material well-being while strengthening societal bonds.

This march of history is a saga of adventure, a passion for discovery of new materials
and new methods of communication using a writing system and communicating orally
profound thoughts on the cosmic order in relation to humanity.

The next stop is Dharma: a history of Bharatiya Ethos and Thought.

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman
Former Sr. Executive, Asian Development Bank,
Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp, 5 Temple Avenue, Chennai 600015, India

Kaliyugabda 5105. a_s.a_d.ha, Gurupurnima. July 13, 2003 CE

Table of Contents

New light on Sarasvati civilization 13

Mleccha, Mlecchita vikalpa: Language and writing system 37
Hieroglyphs of Sarasvati Civilization 47
Riverine traditions of Bharat 81
Maritime traditions of Bharat 88
S’ankha, Bhairava, Man.d.ala 97
Sculptural tradition 110
Settlements and forts 139
Bead-making tradition 165
Archery tradition 180
Mahabharata as the sheet-anchor of Bharatiya Itihasa 185
Sarasvati Civilization 205
Index 209
Bibliography 214
End Notes 250

= to shake (K.) ale, alaku = to shake
New Light on (Ka.)(CDIAL 14003; 14918). Hillo_la = wave
(Skt.); hillo_layati = swings, rocks (Dha_tup.);
Sarasvati hilorna_ = to swing, rock to and fro (H.); hilolai
= shakes (OMarw.)(CDIAL 14121). Hillo = a
jerk, a shake; a push; a shock; hello = a jolting
Civilization of a carriage (G.) helao = to move, drive in
(Santali). The semantics, ‘rocking to and fro’
Dilmun, Magan, and sea-faring merchants of
and ‘wave’ point to sailing on high seas. This is
authenticated by a Tamil lexeme: e_le_lo = a
word that occurs again and again in songs sung
by boatmen or others while pulling or lifting
together; e_le_lan- = name of a Chola king;
e_lappa_t.t.u = boatmen’s song in which the
words e_lo_, e_le_lo occur again and again
(Ta.lex.) This leads to a possible interpretation
of some of the mlecchas, who shout, ‘he ‘lavo,
he ‘lavo’, as ‘sea-farers’ and is consistent with
the evidence of economic texts from
Mesopotamia which point to extensive trade
relations with ‘meluhha’, which is generally
equated with the Indic civilization area.
Dilmun, Magan, Meluhha are three regions
which had traded with Mesopotamia (After S.C.Roy notes that Mun.d.as have a tradition
PRS Moorey, 1994) that India was previously occupied by a metal-
using people called Asuras. One tribe of the
Alfred Hillebrandt argues that the degradation Mun.d.a group are called Asuras today. (Rai
of the term asura- (from its basic meaning Bahadur S.C. Roy, The Asuras—ancient and
‘lord’ to the meaning of ‘evil spirit’) occurred modern, The Journal of the Bihar and Orissa
because of the encounters between Indians and Research Society, 12, 1926, 147). This analysis
Iranians after their separation, but before is consistent with the characterization of asura-
Zarathus’tra’s reform. He adds that the phrase with creative activity. Considering the sea-
he ‘lavo attributed to the asuras in the faring merchants of Indic civilization had
S’atapatha Bra_hman.a indicates that Indian traded in metals and ores over an extensive area
enemies from the east are also included among and the evolution of the bronze-age, ca. 3500
asuras, since this phrase would be a Prakrit B.C. in the region with the invention of alloying
form from that area. (Alfred Hillebrandt, copper with tin to yield bronze and manufacture
Vedische Mythologie, 3 vols., Breslau, Verlag of hardened metallic weapons and tools, the
von M. and H. Marcus, 1902, vol 2., p. 440). dominant ‘lordship’ of the civilization would
The following Indic etyma may explain the use have rested with the people with asuric or
of the term he ‘layo: halla_ = tumult, noise creative capabilities, who were later identified
(P.Ku.N.B.Or.H.); halphal = shaking, as a group of people called ‘asuras’.
undulation (A.)(CDIAL 14017). Hallana =
tossing about (Skt.); hallai – moves (Pkt.); alun

Networks that connected from Meluhha (Bharat) during the Harppan Period (2600-2000
BCE) with their hinterlands – Sarasvati and Sindhu River Basins and distant resource mobilization
and trading areas [After Kenoyer, 1998]
which find many cognates in Marathi, Gujarati
Vedic age was a peaceful age and the devas and Kurukh languages; these verily constitute
respected the asuras as their neighbours; the substram Pra_kr.ts which influenced Vedic
indeed, the devas even worshipped the asuras Sanskrit with words such as khala (threshing
for their superior power: floor), la_n:gala (plough)..

yatha_ deva_ asures.u s’raddha_m H. Skold argued that asura could not have been
ugres.u cakrire (RV 10.151.3) derived from as’s’ur. If the derivation were
“Just as the devas rendered faithful true, the s’ in as’s’ur should appear in Sanskrit
worship to the powerful asuras…” as s’ and in Avestan as s, not as the s and h we
have in asura- and ahura-.(Hannes Skold, Were
Two views of the formation of North the Asuras Assyrians? The Journal of the Royal
Dravidian. are elucidated by Elfenbein, J.H., Asiatic Socierty of Great Britain and Ireland,
1987, A periplous of the ‘Brahui problem’, April 1924, pp. 265-7). Von Bradke suggested
Studia Iranica, 16; pp. 215-33. A pattern of that asura- could derive from as, ‘to be’, or ans,
separation of the Brahuis is suggested ‘to support’, perhaps the latter. (P.von Bradke,
consistent with the suggestion earlier made by Beitrage zur altindischen Religions – und
Jules Block that the Brahuis came to Sprach-geschichte, Zeitschrift der Deutschen
Baluchistan from South or Central India where Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, 40, 1886, 347-
other cognate languages were spoken. The 8). Polome connects as’s’ura with Hittite
vocabulary of Brahui is strongly influenced by has’s’us, which means king. (E.Polome,
Sindhi and Siraiki with substrate Indic words L’etymologie due terme germanique *ansuz

‘dieu soverain’, Etude Germanique, 8, 1953, and personal endings are more perfecdt in the
41). Schlerath analyzes asura as as-ura and oldest language than in later Sanskrit.”
derives Avestan ahu- and ahura-, Indic asura-, ((Maurice Winternitz, 1907, Geschichte der
Hittite has’s’u and Latin erus from Indischen Literatur, tr. A History of Indian
reconstructed root *axs- meaning ‘beget’. Literature, 1981, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass,
(Bernfried Schlerath, Altindisch asu-, pp. 35-36). There is undoubtedly close
Awestisch ahu- und a_hnlich klingende Worter, relationship between the language of the Veda
in: Pratida_nam: Indian, Iranian and Indo- and the Indo-Iranian basic language as
European Studies presented to Franciscus evidenced by the earlier texts related to the
Bernardus Jacobus Kuiper on his Sixtieth Avestan language which evolved into the
Birthday, ed., by J.C. Heesterman, G.H. Ancient Persian of cuneiform inscriptions and
Schoker, and V.I. Subramoniam, The Hague, the Ancient Bactrian of the Avesta. The work
Mouton, 1968, p. 146). Hale proposes an of Prof. Witzel is titled “Substrate Languages in
alternative to Schlerath’s etymology by Old Indo-Aryan” and appeared in the Electronic
suggesting an Indo-European *Hesu- from Journal of Vedic Studies, Vol. 5, 1999, Issue I
which came Avestan ahu- ‘lord’ and Hittite (September). The following extracts are from
has’s’u ‘king’ and an Indo-Iranian derivative of the this work taken from the internet web
this word, *asura- from which Avestan ahura- pages:
and Vedic asura- derive.. (Wash Edward Hale,
opcit., p. 36). Hale’s argument is not
convincing; if *Hesu- could have yielded Language of the Indus People: mleccha
Hittite has’s’u, Vedic asura- could also have
yielded the Hittite has’s’u and Assyrian There is no evidence, whatsoever, that the
as’s’ura. Such a straight-forward Vedic - Munda influenced directly the Avestan. On the
Avestan route may also explain the presence of contrary, there are many words in the R.gveda
Sanskrit lexemes in Kikkuli’s horse training which can be traced to the Munda-Dravidian
manual, Indic names among the names of substrate. The Avestan words cognate with the
Mitanni kings and Vedic deities named in the Rigvedic are explainable as derived from the
Mitanni treaty. A validation of this hypothesis Vedic language which included the Para-
can be made by tracing the so-called Dravidian Munda substrates in the earliest Vedic period in
lexemes in R.gveda and identifying concordant the region which came to be called
Avestan glosses. Bharatavars.a.

The linguistic arguments favouring the The pura_n.ic and epic age was an era of
hypothesis that Vedic language was an cultural fusion. “Intermarriages between the
indigenous evolution in India come from a two tribes (devas and asuras) continues
recent (1999) work by Prof. Witzel of Harvard unchecked. Bhi_ma married Hidimba_, the son,
University. Winternitz had noted earlier as born of their union, Ghat.otkaca fought on
follows: “The vedic language differs from behalf of the Pa_n.d.avas in the Kuruks.etra
Sanskrit almost not at all in its phonetic content battle. Aniruddha, the grandson of Va_sudeva
but in its greater antiquity especially by a richer married Us.a_, the daughter of Ba_n.a_sura.
stock of grammatical forms. Thus for example, Pururava_’s son A_yu married the daughter of
Ancient Indian has a subjunctive which is Svarbha_nu, an asura. Not only the inter-tribal
lacking in Sanskrit; it has a dozen different marriages was acceptable, even the earlier
infinitive endings of which there is only one left Brahmanical law-givers went to the extent of
behind in Sanskrit. The aorist forms, plentifully including the custom of Asura form of marriage
represented in the Vedic language disappear into their law-books and called Asura marriage.
more and more in Sanskrit. The case-endings In such marriage, the bride was bought from

her father by paying bride price (A_s’vala_yana JBROS, XI.1, March 1926, pp. 110-139; Asura
Gr. S. 1.6; Baudha_yana Dharma S. 1.35; expansion in India, JBROS, XII.2, June 1926,
Gautama Dharma S. 4.12; Manusmr.ti 3.31). pp. 243-285; II Asura expansion by sea,
The Vasis.t.ha Dharma Su_tra (1.35) recognizes JBROS, XII.3, Sept. 1926, pp. 334-360; V
such marriage belonging to Manus.a form. Asura Institutions, JBROS, XII.4, December
Though other sacred texts look on it with 1926, pp. 503-539). The settlements of Assur or
disfavour, the Arthas’a_stra (3.2.10) allows it Asura in Magadha or South Bihar are noted.
without criticism: pitr.prama_n.a_s’ catva_rah (D.R. Bhandarkar, Aryan Immigrants into
pu_rve dharmya_h ma_tr.pitr.prama_n.a_h Eastern India, ABORI, XII.2, 1931, pp. 103-
s’es.a_h. As for instance the marriage of 116). A comprehensive survey of the texts from
Das’aratha of Ra_ma_yan.a and Pa_n.d.u of the R.gveda and Bra_hman.as is used to analyse
Maha_bha_ratta may be taken. Das’aratha of the meaning of the term ‘asura’ as lord, leader
Ayodhya_ married Kaikeyi_and their son was and as corroborated by Iranian mythology. It is
illustrious Bharata. The sister of S’alya namely noted that the terms asura and deva are both
Ma_dri_ was united with Pa_n.d.u on payment used to qualify the same Vedic deity—for
of heavy bride price (MBh. 1.105.4- example, Indra, Varun.a, Mitra, Agni, while the
5)…Pura_n.as…Yaya_ti married S’armis.t.ha_, Iranian works recognize ‘asura’ as divine and
the daughter of the Asura king Vr.s.aparva_ and ‘daeva’ as demoniac. (Wash E. Hale, Asura in
had three sons namely Druhyu, Anu and Puru. Early Vedic Religion, Ph.D. Dissertation,
Because of his affiliation with the mother’s Harvard University, 1980; Delhi, Motilal
side, Puru was called an Asura…matriarchal Banarsidass, 1986). An anthropological
nature of Asura society…the celebrated perspective identifies the asura as a scheduled
Brahminical myth of the churning of the oceasn tribe of Netarhat plateau of Chotanagpur, Bihar
is a popular ojne, where the Asuras seize the and surveys their customs, rites, economic and
ambrosia, churned out of the ocean before the social conditions. (K.K.Leuva, The Asur—A
gods took possession of it…”. (Upendranath Study of Primitive Iron Smelters, New Delhi,
Dhal, Mahis.a_sura in Art and Thought, 1991, Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh, 1963). Asuric
Delhi, Eastern Book Linkers, p.27). culture through the ages is attempted, as a
fusion of cultures. (K.P. Chattopadhyaya, The
As’ur (Akkadian) has, by the nineteenth Ancient Indian Culture Contacts and
century BC, been recognized as the national Migrations, 1970, Calcutta, Firma KL
god of Assyria. In political terms, he bestowed Mukhopadhyaya). The dominance, in ancient
the scepter and the crown and blessed the times, of Asuras in extensive areas of Africa
Assyrians. (Tikva Frymerkensky, Ashur, and Eurasia is emphasized. (K.L. Jain Vasasiya,
Encyclopaedia of Religion, Vol. I, Ed. M. Indian Asuras Colonised Europe, 1990, Delhi,
Eliade, pp. 461 ff.) The enmity of Asuras with Itihas Vidya Prakashan). The myths related to
the gods is noted. (Brown, W.Norman, the Asura Bali-Va_mana, as a benevolent king
Proselytizing the Asuras: A noteor R.gveda and as a devotee of S’iva, is presented. (G.C.
10.12, Journal of the American Oriental Tripathi, Der Ursprung und die Entwicklung
Society, 39, Part 2, 1919, pp. 100-103). der Vaman-Legende in der indischen Literatur,
Historicity of the Asuras is evaluated and 1968, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitsz). The
Asuras are described as immigrants from mythology of Bali is also presented. (Clifford
Assyria and were the builders of the Harappan Hospital, The Righteous Demon—A Study of
culture. As’ur the deity was symbolized by a Bali, 1984, Vancouver, University of British
winged diSkanda The As’ur people were Columbia). Mahis.a as a leader of Asuras in the
renowned for magic, medicine, sculpture, context of the mythology of
architecture and military prowess. (A.Banerji Mahis.a_suramardini is presented. In an
Sastri, The Asuras in Indo-Iranian Literature, evaluation of the genesis of the concept of

Asura, it is noted the Ashur Marduk, the p&/wU rwae/ di]?[aya Ayae/Jy! @en<? de/vasae? A/m&ta?sae
supreme deity of Babylonian pantheon was
adopted as Ahur Mazda by the Persians after ASwu> ,
occupying Assyria.. (Upendranath Dhal,
Mahis.a_sura in Art and Thought, 1991, Delhi, k«/:[adœ %dœ A?Swadœ A/yaR ivha?ya/z! icik?TsNtI/

manu?;ay/ ]ya?y .
Eastern Book Linkers).

The following Dravidian lexemes are 1.123.01 The spacious chariot of the graceful
concordant with the semantics of a_rih, [cf. (dawn) has been harnessed; the immortal gods
O.Ir. aire = nobleman]. To cite Mayrhofer: “To have ascended it; the noble and all-pervading
trace back the name of Aryans in Indo- Us.a_ has risen up from the darkness, bringing
Germanic time is not plausible, as the word health to human habitations. [daks.in.a_ya_h =
evidently represents only an inner-aryan of the clever one; she who is skilled in her own
evolution which is based in a_rih. O.Ir. aire, function, svavya_pa_ra-kus'ala; bringing health:
nobleman is to be kept away according to cikitsanti, healing, remedying the malady of
Thumeysen.” (M.Mayrhofer, Kurzgefasstes darkness].
etymologisches worterbuch des altindischen,
Heidelberg. 1953-77, Vol. I, p. 52). ar_an_ = Mayrhofer rejects Wust’s suggestion aht the
sacrificer; ar_aviya virtuous; ar_aviya_n- = term a_rih is comparable with Lat. Ara_re,
virtuous man; ar-avan- one who is virtuous, ploughman. (M.Mayrhofer, Kurzgefasstes
god, Buddha; ascetic; ar-am = moral or etymologisches worterbuch des altindischen,
religious duty, virtue, dharma, Yama (Ta.); ar- Heidelberg. 1953-77, Vol. I, p. 79). The
a, ar-u virtue, charity, alms, law, dharma, Yama Dravidian lexemes which are consistent with
(Ka.); ar-am = law, dharma (Ma.)(DEDR 311). the seamntics of ‘plough’ are: araka a plough
Grassman translates a_rya as: 1. good, kind, with bullocks etc. complete (Ta.); are a plough
gracious, friendly which is said of gods, godly (Ma.)(DEDR 198). A possible link with the
beings, of the singer presenting the offerings; 2. semantics of a herdsman are seen in lexemes:
true, produce (yield etc.), stranger (from the a.r.yeka.m head cattle-boy (Ko.); a_reku~_d.u a
meaning opposed to godly); 3. stranger (of the watchman (Te.); a_raike, a_re_kti care of,
songs). (H. Grassmann, Worterbuch zum Rig- oprotection (Tu.); a_rayu, arayu to think, search
veda, Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1955, col. (Te.); a_ra_y to seek (Ta.)(DEDR 377).
115). Naighan.t.u explains arya as master, lord Mayrhofer, however, while noting the Iranian
(Pa_n. iii.i.103). Grassman (ibid., p. 183), parallel Av. airya_, OP ariya, a_rya, derives the
connects the root a_r to praise, extol, commend terms arya (good, true, strange) and a_rya (also,
(Geldner: erkennen; cf. RV. VIII.16.6; RV a_ria) from aryah = lord, hospitable lord;
10.48.3). The Dravidian lexemes cognate with master of the house. The terms arya and a_rya
the semantics of a_r: a_r to shout (Ta.); a.r- (a.t- occur 68 times in the R.gveda. (H. Grassmann,
) to call (Ko.); a_r, a_rcu to cry aloud (Ka.); Worterbuch zum Rig-veda, Wiesbaden: O.
ara- to moo, make loud hoarse noise (Kod.); Harrassowitz, 1955, cols. 115-116 and 185-86).
a_rbat.a a joyful cry, triumph (Tu.); a_rcu to
cry aloud, shout (Te.); a_r to sound (as bell iv/Tv]?[>/ sm&?taE c³mas/jae =?suNvtae/ iv;u?[>
etc.)(Pa.); a_rpa to shout (Kond.a); to call
(Kui); a_rh’nai to invite (Kuwi)(DEDR 367). suNv/tae v&x
/ >,

#NÔae/ ivñ?Sy dim/ta iv/-I;?[ae ywav/z< n?yit/ das/m!

In RV 1.123.1, arya_ is explained by Sa_yan.a
as noble; Geldner interprets the term as kind, AayR>? .
5.034.06 Thinning (his enemies) in battle, and
accelerating the wheels (of his car), he turns
away from him who offers no libation, and is translated as the Aryan nations. [J.
augments (the prosperity of) the offerer; Indra, Darmesteter, The Zend Avesta, Part I, Oxford,
the subduer of all, the formidable, the lord, Sacred Books of the East IV, 1880; In Yas’t
conducts the Da_sa at his pleasure. V.69, there is a legend related to Jama_spa who
sees the enemy’s army advancing to battle. He
Powerful in fight, stopping the wheel, the pleads with Ana_hita to guide him to victory as
opponent of non-pressing one, the strengthener also all the other Arians (airya)]. Another
of the pressing one, compeller of everyone, phrase used is airyo s’ayana (Yas’t X.13)
frightening, Indra, the a_rya leads the da_s as (explained as ‘Arian lands or homestead’). In
he wills. (Geldner) Yas’t XIII.87, Ahura Mazda creates ‘the race of
all Arian regions, the seed of all Aryan lands’.
Aa p/Kwasae? -la/nsae? -n/Ntail?nasae iv;a/i[n>?

iz/vas>? , s ih ³tu>/ s myR>/ s sa/xurœ im/Çae n -Ud

/ œ AÑ‚?tSy

Aa yae =?nyt! sx/ma AayR?Sy g/Vya t&Tsu?_yae r/wI> ,

Ajgn! yu/xa n¨n! . tm! mex?e;u àw/m< de?vy

/ NtI/rœ ivz/ %p? äuvte d/Smm!
7.018.07 Those who dress the oblation, those AarI>? .
who pronounce auspicious words, those who
abstain from penance, those who bear horns (in 1.077.03 For he is the performer of rites, he is
their hands), those who bestow happiness (on the destroyer and reviver (of all things), and,
the world by sacrifice), glorify that Indra, who like a friend he is the donor of unattained
recovered the cattle of the Arya from the wealth; all men reverencing the gods, and
plunderers, who slew the enemies in battle. approaching the well-looking Agni, repeat his
[Those who dress: Denominations of the name first in holy rites. [marya and sa_dhu =
persons assisting at religious rites are: 1. destroyer and reviver; or, killer or extirpator of
paktha_sah, havis.am pa_cakah, cooks of the all and the producer]. [vis’a a_ri_h = clans)
butter offered in oblation; 2. bhala_nasah,
bhadra va_cinah, speakers of that which is He is the insight, he is the young man, he is an
lucky; 3. alina_sah, tapobhir apravr.ddhah, not excellent creature, he is the wonderful leader
eminent by austerities; 4. vis.a_n.inah, having (insight?). Him the master, the divinely devoted
black horns in their hands for the purpose of Arya clans, call first the devoted Arya clans in
scratching kan.d.uyana_rtham, the same as the sacrifice. (Geldner).
di_ks.itah, having undergone the preliminary
purification called di_ks.a; 5. s'iva_sah, tm! $?¦t àw/m< y?}s
/ ax</ ivz/ AarI/rœ Aa÷?tm!
ya_ga_dina_ sarvasya lokasya s'ivakarah, the
makers happy of all people by sacrifice and the \Ãsa/nm! ,

^/jR> pu/Çm! -?r/t< s&/àda?nu< de/va A/i¶< xa?ryn!


These people, i.e. Pakthas, Bhala_nasas, Alinas Ôiv[ae/dam!.

and Vis.a_nins named themselves as his good 1.096.03 Approaching him,let all men adore
friends. The feast companion of the A_rya Agni, the chief (of the gods), the accomplisher
(a_ryah) who led his men in the battle has come of sacrifices, who is gratified by oblations and
to help out of longing fot the cows of Tr.tsu.
propitiated by praises--the offspring of food,
[Here Indra is the a_rya]. (Geldner).
the sustainer of (all men), the giver of continual
gifts; the gods retain Agni as the giver of
In Avestan, Yas’t, the compound term used is:
(sacrificial) wealth. [prathama = lit. the first;
airya dainha_vo_ (Yas’t VIII.9.56) This phrase
here, mukhya, chief (of the gods)]. [The term seven rivers; or, on the shores of the seven
used is: vis’a a_ri_h = of the Aryas, Aryas]. seas].

The A_ryan clans (vis’a a_ri_h) called him as The term dasyu is used in RV. 6.18.3, 7.5.6,
the first, sacrificial director, poured in (with 2.11.18, 1.51.8 with the possible connotation of
butter), the prominent one, the sun of power, ‘people in general or inhabitants who are
the Bharata which has got wide gifts. (Geldner). associated together in a place’. Some of the
epithets associated with dasyu are: abrahman
y \]a/dœ A&lth?sae muc
/ dœ yae vayaR?t! s/Ý isNxu?;,
u (RV 4.16.9, without prayer), avrata (RV 1.51.8;
175.3; 6.14.3; 9.41.2, without vows), anyavrata
vx?rœ da/sSy? tuivn&M[ nInm> . (RV. 8.70.11, with different vows), apavrata
8.024.27 (He it is) who rescues men from the (RV 5.42.9, with bad vows), ayajvan (RV
wickedness of evil beings, who enriches (the 8.70.11, not sacrificing); ayajyu (RV 7.6.3, not
dwellers) on the seven rivers; now hurl, you
who abound in wealth, your weapon at the
Da_sa. [Dwelleres on the seven rivers: sapta Tve A?sy
/u ¡ vs?vae/ Ny! \{v/n! ³tu/< ih te? imÇmhae
sindhus.u, i.e. the dwellers on the banks of the
seven rivers; or, on the shores of the seven ju/;Nt? ,
seas]. Tv< dSyU/Aaek?sae A¶ Aaj %/é Jyaeit?rœ j/ny/Ú!

You who protected us out of the danger from AayaR?y .

the bear, or you who turned away the weapons 7.005.06 Reverencer of friends, Agni, th Vasus
from the a_ryas in the seven streamed land of have concentrated vigour in you; they have
the da_sas, you courageous one. (Geldner). been propitiated by your acts; generating vast
splendour for the Arya, do you, Agni, expel the
This hymn attests that the da_sa as well as Dasyus from the dwelling.
Indra inhabited the region of the seven rivers
(Sapta Sindhu or Avestan: Hapta Hindu). This Tv< h/ nu Tydœ A?dmayae/ dSyU/@k>? k«/òIrœ A?vnae/rœ

AayaR?y ,
is the airya dainha_vo_ (Yas’t VIII.9.56) (the
Aryan nations). Avestan dakhyuma,
da_khyuuma was the name of a deity of a land. AiSt? iSv/n! nu vI/y¡ tt! t? #NÔ/ n iSv?dœ AiSt/ tdœ
Cognate lexemes are: dasma, dasra denoting
accomplishment of wonderful deeds. \?tw
/u a iv vae?c> .
(Ch.Bartholomae, Altiranisches Worterbuch, 6.018.03 You are he who has quickly humbled
Berlin, 1925 (?), Col. 706-711; derived from the Dasyus; you are the chief one who has
dan:h; cf. Kanga, An Avesta-English-Gujarati given posterity to the Arya;but, Indra, is not
Dictionary, Bombay). verily your power such? If it be not, then in due
season confess. [Not beholding Indra, the r.s.i
y \]a/dœ A&lth?sae muc
/ dœ yae vayaR?t! s/Ý isNxu?;,
u began to question his attributes and power; next
verse explains his belief in these attributes and
vx?rœ da/sSy? tuivn&M[ nInm> . power].
8.024.27 (He it is) who rescues men from the
wickedness of evil beings, who enriches (the
dwellers) on the seven rivers; now hurl, you ix/:va zv>? zUr/ yen? v&Ç
/ m! A/vai-?n/dœ danu?m!

AaE[Rva/-m! ,
who abound in wealth, your weapon at the
Da_sa. [Dwelleres on the seven rivers: sapta
sindhus.u, i.e. the dwellers on the banks of the

Apa?v&[ae/rœ Jyaeit/rœ AayaR?y/ in s?Vy/t> sa?id/ dSyu?rœ submit to the performer of sacrifices; be you,
who are powerful, the encourager of the
#NÔ . sacrificer; I am desirous of celebrating all your
deeds in ceremonies that give you satisfaction.
[A_ryas are those who practise religious
2.011.18 Indra, hero, keep up the strength
rites;Dasyus do not observe religious
wherewith you have crushed Vr.tra, the spider-
like son of Da_nu, and let open the light to the ceremonies and inimical to those who do].
A_rya; the Dasyu has been set aside on your
left hand. [The spider-like son of Da_nu:
da_num aurn.ava_bham: aurn.ava_bham = Microlithic sites in India and neighbouring
aurn.ana_bham; aurn.a = a spider; a_bha = regions and the areas of the substrate languages
resembling]. of Naha_li, Irul.a, Vedda and Rodiya (After
Schwartzberg, Joseph, ed.,1978, A historical
iv ja?nI/ý! AayaRn
/ ! ye c/ dSy?vae b/ihR:m?te rNxya/ atlas of South Asia, Chicago; loc. cit., Parpola,
zas?dœ Aì/tan! ,
1994, Fig. 8.9) It is likely that many lexemes of
the Pra_kr.ts were derived from the hundreds of
zakI? -v/ yj?manSy caeid/ta ivñet! ta te? sx/made?;u such languages which should have constituted
the substratum of the Linguistic Area in Indic
cakn . protohistory.
1.051.08 Discriminate between the A_ryas and
they who are Dasyus; restraining those who
perform no religious rites, compel them to

From Sarasvati to Haraquaiti

Haraquaiti near Kandahar and Mundigak, cities and habitations than are perhaps to be
joining the Haetumant (Hilmand) river; found within a similar space of ground
archaeological sites in Arachosia, Drangiane, anywhere in the world...An archaeological map
Gandhara, Areia, Baktriane (After Fischer, K. , of Afghanistan shows the major sites of
1970, Projecfts of archaeological maps from historical and artistic interest explored so far:
Afghan-Seistan between 31 20’ to 30 50’N and the prehistoric mound of Mundigak with
62 00’ to 62 10’E., in Zentralasiatische Studien, pottery ornamented both in ancient Iranian style
No. 4, Wiesbaden; loc. cit., Fischer, Klaus, and with the Indus valley patterns, the
1973, Archaeological Field surveys in Afghan provincial capital of Kandahar in the vicinity of
Seistan 1960-1970, in: Norman Hammond, ed., which were discovered Greek and Aramaic
South Asian Archaeology, Duckworth, London, versions of Ashoka inscriptions; Buddhist
Fig. 10.1). “Many explorers, MacMahon and monasteries, stupas and caves embellished by
Curzon for example, agree that Seistan offers a Gandhara-style sculpture and painting, namely
special phenomenon which puzzles students of Bamiyan, Fondukistan, Hadda, Qunduz; the
comparative geography and archaeology. The ‘mother of cities’ from Zoroastrian to Islamic
shallow lakes alternately swell, recede and times—Balkh; a dynastic sanctuary of the
disappear and the rivers are constantly shifting Kushans to be connected with the art of
their beds. Consequently settlements were MathuraSurkh Kotal; places with remains of
created and abandoned in short periods. While Hindu-Shahi temples and images, for example
the country owes to the abundant alluvium its Gardez and Chigha Sarai; centers of Islamic
wealth and fertility, it also contains more ruined architecture and decoration—Lashkari Bazar,
Ghazni and Heart. Seistan, known to the Greek Vadhryas’va’s son Divoda_sa fought against
and Roman world as Drangiane, is just being the Pan.is, Pa_ra_vatas and Br.saya, and the
explored. The vast desert is covered by mud- river of the country “who consumed the Pan.is”
brick remains. Moving sand dunes encircle old (RV 61.1) stood by his side as a guardian deity.
fortresses, like that of Sangar. Recently we In the same book which thinks of the Pan.is
have located prehistoric and early historic with special hatred we see Pu_s.an “who
tepes, mounds and wall systems deriving from pierces the Pan.is” at the center of the cult, and
the periods of the Parthians, Sakas and he is mentioned once in the Sarasvati_ hymn
Sasanians, and abandoned Islamic cities with also (RV 6.61.6). Pu_s.an and Sarasvati_ occur
soaring mud-brick walls and towers...Seistan side by side elsewhere too. 6.49.7 Sarasvati_; 8
was in prehistoric times a densely populated Pu_s.an; 10.17.3-6 Pu_s.an; 7-9 Sarasvati_;
country...Seistan was crossed by Alexander the 65.1 (Va_yuh) Pu_s.a_ Sarasvati_. Their
Great in the autumn of 330 BC...During the association has been continued especially in
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the liturgical texts. (cf. TS 1.2.2;
inhabitants opposed the Mongol invasion, were sarasvatyai pu_s.n.e ‘gnaye sva_ha_;
conquered and totally destroyed. The irrigation 5.5.12:…dha_tuh; sarasvatyai s’a_rih s’yeta_
works were wasted, the cities burnt and life purus.ava_k, sarasvate s’ukah s’yetah
seemed to end...The water of the Helmand was purus.ava_g, a_ran.yo ‘jo nakula_ s’aka_ te
again used in canals and carried to distant paus.n.a_ va_ce…; MS 1.10.5 (145.16):
points in the country; new canals were built and sarasvaty eva sr.s.t.a_su va_cam adadha_t
old ones repaired. Natural changes in climate pu_s.an.am pratis.t.ha_m abhy asr.jyanta;
and reduction of water supply seem to have va_vai sarasvati_, pas’avah pu_s.a_; Abr.
restrained people from settling far from the 2.24.5: indrah pu_s.an.va_n, indrah
river. Finally the population was forced to keep sarasvati_va_n)…Goat and sheep-rearing
cattle and fields in the plain near the Helmand.” flourished in the mountains of Afghanistan.
(Fischer, Klaus, opcit., pp. 133-134). Pu_s.an’s chariot is drawn by goats and he
weaves the woolen garment for the sheep. As
It would appear that change of the Old Indic the goat is sacred to Pu_s.an so is the ewe,
names into Iranian forms when they moved into mes.i_, sacred to Sarasvati_ at least in the
the area may explain the following ritual. (TS; S’Br; a ram in the
concordances: Sarasvati_ as Haraxvaiti, Sarayu Sautra_man.i_; TBr. The R.gvedic
as Haroiiu and Gomati as the Gomal. period is familiar with the sheep-rearing in
Gandha_ra, at the Sindhu and perhaps also at
In this context of faunal remains found in the Parus.n.i_. (Pischel and Geldner, Vedische
mesolithic sites in Rajasthan, it will be apposite Studien, II, p. 210). RV 1.126.7, the only
to review a claim made by Alfred Hillebrandt passage which is more significant speaks of
that the early references to Sarasvati_ in the sheep-rearing, mentions a woman “who is hairy
R.gveda should be traced to Sarasvati_ of like the ewe among the Gandha_ris” (Zimmer,
Arachosia, which according to Hillebrandt is H., Altindisches Leben, pp. 30 ff., 229)…But
the ‘western Sarasvati_’ as distinct from the the Sarasvati_ of Arachosia alone does not hold
‘eastern’ Sarasvati_ in located in Kuruks.etra. good for the entire RV. It is likely that the
“The worshippers of Pu_s.an lived in the memory of this home of the Vedic clans is
vicinity of the Sarasvati_…Book VI takes us to preserved in some single passages of the
the banks of the western Sarasvati_ and book Bra_hman.a literature as well. But already the
VII, on the other hand, to the area of seventh book takes us to other surroundings, to
Kuruks.etra, to the holy Sarasvati_ of the the banks of the holy river in the inner India.
middle country. There at the Arghandab (RV 7.96.2: ‘When the Pu_rus seize both the
(Greek: Etymander) in Arachosia, andhas (on your banks) by force, then, you

radiant one, be merciful to us as the friend of equus sivalensis, rhinoceros sivalensis, R.
the Maruts and direct the favour of the mighty palaeoindicus, Sus spp., camelus sivalensis,
ones towards us’.(Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur cervus spp., colossochelys atlas, geoclemys
im Altertum, p. 364 ff.) sivalensis, crocodylus spp. and a host of other
AV 6.30.1: new forms (Badam, G.L., Pleistoceene Fauna
of India, Pune, Deccan College; S.N.Rajaguru
deva_ imam madhuna_ samyuitam yavam and G.L. Badam, Late Quaternary
sarasvatya_m adhi man.a_v acarkr.s.uh Geomorphology of the Markanda Valley,
indra a_si_t si_rapatih s’atakratuh kina_s’a_ Himachal Pradesh, in: B.P. Radhakrishna and
a_san marutah suda_navah S.S. Merh, eds., Vedic Sarasvati, 1999,
Bangalore, Geological Society of India, p. 149).
The gods sowed at the Sarasvati_ barley mixed An alternative view is that the word Harakhaiti
with honey over an amulet. Indra S’atakratu or harahvaiti itself traveled from India to
was the lord of the plough, the abundantly Afghanistan, with the linguistic change of ‘s’a,
bestowing Maruts were the drivers. [Hillebrandt sa and s.a’ to ‘ha’, “as we proceed from the
notes: “Here the stream is closely associated traditional region of Madhya des’a towards the
with the Maruts, and this is exactly the case in west. To take only a couple of instances even
the R.gvedic verse (RV 7.96.2)…Pu_rus must now Sa_dhu is pronounced as Hau, S’ivaji as
have extended their territories upto the Hibji, Sukhdeva as Hukhdeva, Das’a as Daha
Yamuna_ and Parus.n.i_…The events described and Sa_huka_ra to Hauka_ra in dialects of
in books III and VII which take place mostly Marwar…The same process operated in the
farther in the east on the Parus.n.i_, Yamuna_, evolution of S’aryqan.a_ in the R.gveda later to
Vipa_s and S’utudri_ make it improbable that Harya_n.a_…The consistent operation of this
the Sarasvati_ mentioned in RV 7.95, 96, on linguistic process of the replacement of
the banks of which the Pu_rus dwelt, can still sibilants by “Ha” thus justifies the conclusion
be identical with the Arachotos.”). that the name Sarasvati_ also logically
underwent the same process in its westward
The reference to goats and sheep should not journey and became Harahvaiti or Harkhaiti in
automatically link Sarasvati_ with Arachosia, Arachosia.” (O.P. Bharadwaj, Studies in
Afghanistan, since faunal remains of goats and Historical Geography of Ancient India, Delhi,
sheep have been found in the region close to 1986, pp. 176-191; cf. Vedic Index, II, 364).
Parus.n.i_, in North-West India, Rajasthan. It The place name spelt as Taus.a_yan.a by
may not be necessary to postulate two Pa_n.ini changed to Tohana at some later stage.
Sarasvati_’s to explain the contextual (V.S.Agrawal, 1974, India as known to
references in Book VI and Book VII. The Pa_n.ini, 2nd edn., Varanasi, p. 74). So, too the
rationale for identifying Haraqaiti (arachotos) changes from asura to ahura (Isaac Taylor,
as the earlier, western Sarasvati_ is based on 1980, The Origin of the Aryans, Reprint, Delhil,
very flimsy grounds of rearing of sheep in pp. 184-186). and Sindhu to old Persian Hindu
Afghanistan. It would appear that sheep were (V.S. Agrawal, V.S. 2011, Bharata ki maulika
reared in North West India, Rajasthan as well. ekata_ (Hindi), Allahabad, p. 30f; Tola
Close to Parus.n.i_, in the Markanda valley, a Frernando and Dragonetti Carmen, 1986, India
lot of faunal material, dated as early as to the and Greece before Alexander, ABORI, vol.
Pleistocene period, has been recovered from the LXVII (pts. I-iv), pp. 159-194)..
Upper Siwaliks in general and the neighbouring
areas in particular Mention has been made of “The linguistic evidence in the Vedic texts
frequent occurrence, about 2.48 million years themselves points, of course,m to a close
ago, of stegodon insignis ganesa, relationship with the Iranian speaking tribes.
archidiskodon planifrons, elephas hysudricus, However, it is not entirely clear where the

combined Indo-Iranians lived together before journeys, but also during sea voyages (RV
they left for Iran and India, when they went on 8.12.2) spreading over ten months (RV
their separate ways, by which routes, and in 5.45.11).” (Bhagwan Singh, 1995, The Vedic
what order. Furthermore, as G. Morgenstienrne Harappans, New Delhi, Aditya Prakasan, p.
(1975) has shown, the Kafirs or Nu_rista_ni_s 198).
constitute a third branch of the Indo-Iranians
who were early on isolated in the impenetrable “There is no river of Afghanistan mentioned in
valleys of the Kunar and its tributaries.” the R.gveda which does not flow into the Indus.
(Witzel, M., 1995, Early Indian history: However, in a wider perspective, we find
Linguistic and textual parameters, in: G. Afghanistan, South Central Asia, West
Erdosy, ed., The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Turkistan, Kazakistgan, (Azerbaydzhan) Iran
Asia, Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal, p. 92). (Mandas in western Persis, 2500 BC and
Zarathustrians in central Iran), Turkey (Hittites
The strongest evidence for the migration is the in the second millennium BC), Syria, Palestine
name of the Croatians who are a people (Mitannis, 1400 BC), and Babylonia (Kassites,
mentioned in the Behistun inscription as 1760 BC) related linguistically and
Hravaits, a clear derivative from Sarasvati commercially, directly and immediately to the
River Bank~Haraquaiti region, which link is Vedic Indians as well as the Harappans...No
logical in the context of the evidence of the serious attempt appears to have been made for
earth sciences of the course of the 1600 kms. proper assessment of the relative position of
long Himalayan river called Sarasvati_. In the Harappan traders in the contemporary world
continuing search of the Indo-Europeans, the which, in view of the spread of Indo-Aryan
people of the Sarasvati_ River valley dated ca. languages and vestiges of their colonies in and
3500 BC are likely to be the oldest around the great civilizations of West Asia,
representatives who evolved and sustained a must have been hegemonic. Although linguistic
continuity of culture into the historical periods testimony is meager, the impact on both
and into the present day civilization of India. Babylonian and Assyrian mythology and rituals
as noted by competent authorities on the subject
Both the terms, atharvan and navagva are used (Carnoy, Albert Jr., 1917, Mythology of All
as synonyms in R.gveda. “...they (Atharvans Races, IV, Iranian Mythology,
and Navagvas) are credited with having entered Boston)...Afthanistan has been so thoroughly
a mountain pass (RV 1.112.18; RV 5.29.12), Aryanised that till the Greek times it was called
breaking mountain ranges (RV 1.62.4; 1.71.2; A_rya_na_...Why is there no archaological
4.2.15; 4.3.11), obtaining riches (RV 7.52.3), evidence of the presence of Aryans in India?
breaking mineral rich mountains (RV 4.2.15), And the answer comes with a resounding echo:
winning cows (RV 1.62.2), and possessing Because Harappan archaeology is hardly
miraculous powers (RV 3.53.7). These seers different from the Vedic one. We find almost
called Navagvas and Das’agvas are seven in the same geographical area occupied by the
number (sapta vipra_: RV 4.2.15) and ‘Aryans’ as is covered by the material remains
reminding us of the number of stars in the of the Harappans. Almost the same area is
constellation by their names. They are covered by the Indo-Aryans and Indo-Iranians
remembered as manes or pu_rve pitarah (RV abroad as was being explored and exploited by
3.55.2: fathers of the old times who know the the Harappans for mineral wealth.” (Bhagwan
region; RV 9.97.39: our sires of the old who Singh, 1995, The Vedic Harappans, New Delhi,
knew the footsteps, found light and stole the Aditya Prakashan, pp.47-49).
cattle), and are said to be conversant with the
stations, padajn~a_ (RV 9.97.39). They are not The identification of the Vedic Sarasvati River
only recalled in the course of overland with the Indus or its tributaries on the right

bank such as Argandab or Helmand is third millennium BC) of the bronze age of the
erroneous because in the Vedic texts, the upper Indian Civilization, including Rakhigarhi (150
course of Sarasvati is detailed as located miles north of Delhi, on the banks of the
between S’utudri_ in the West, a tributary of Sarasvati River; apart from the clusters of
Beas (as also attested in a R.gvedic su_kta.) and hundreds of sites in Bahawalpur province
Yamuna in the East, once upon a time; the (north of Sind province), again on the banks of
Sarasvati river is also associated with the the Sarasvati River) which is about 220 ha., and
Maruts and is located close to a desert. The hence, 3 times the size of Mohenjodaro in
R.gvedic descriptions fit the Sarasvati_ river extent.
courses from where have been unearthed over
1200 archaeological sites (of the fourth and

The kingdom of Videha, across the Gandak small kingdom of Vais’a_li’—Pargiter, 1897,
river, (Map after Raychaudhuri, opcit., p. 54). JASB, 89). S’atapatha Bra_hman.a seems to
Videha had nine states of importance as noted state that Videgha Mathava who came from the
in the Bra_hman.as and Upanis.ads: gandha_ra, banks of the Sarasvati_ founded the Videhan
kekaya, madra, us’I_nara, matsya, kuru, kingdom. (Vedic Index, I.436): the fire god
pan~ca_la, ka_s’i and kosala. Videha (of King went burning along this earth from the
Janaka) is mentioned in Yajur Veda. (Vedic Sarasvati_ towards the east, followed by
Index, II.298). This corresponds to the modern Ma_thava and his priest, Gotama Ra_hu_gan.a
Tirhut in North Bihar (‘Videha comprised the till he came to the river Sada_ni_ra_ (Ra_pti
country from Gorakhpur on the Ra_pti to river) which flows from the norther
Darabhanga, with Kosala on the west and (Hima_laya) mountain, and which he did not
An:ga on the east. On the north it approached burn over. Thinking ‘it has not been burnt over
the hills, and to the south it was bounded by the by Agni Vais’va_nara (the fire that burns for all
men)’, Brah_man.as did not go across the Rigveda refers to daks.in.a_pada_ (RV
stream in ancient times. Only Ma_thava’s 10.61.8); Pa_n.ini refers to da_ks.ina_tya
arrival led to the movement of people into this (4.2.98): Maha_bha_rata (Nalopa_khya_na)
area. refers to daks.in.a_patha as south of Avanti
(Malwa) and the Vindhyas and to the south of
Kosala [including the cities of Ayodhya_, the Vidarbhas and the Southern Kosalas (who
Sa_keta and Sa_vatthi_ (S’ra_vasti_)] was lived on the banks of Wardha_ and
bounded by the Gomti on the west, Sarpika_ (or Maha_nadi_). The age of the later Videhas had
Syandika_ or Sai) river on the south and the names of Nimi and Kara_la as kings who
Sada_ni_ra_ on the east and the Himalayas on expanded into the territory extending to the
the north. Buddha notes in Sutta Nipa_ta (SBE, Reva_ or the Narmada_ and the Goda_vari_
X, Part II, 68-69): “Just beside Himavanta there rivers. Nimi’s Vidarbha region included the
lives a people endowed with the power of modern Berar and also varada_tat.a (region
wealth, the inhabitants of Kosala (kosalaem between Wardha_ and Waingan:ga_) and up
niketino or having an abode in Kosala). They north upto the river Payos.n.i_, a tributary of
are A_dichchas by family (A_ditya or solar Ta_pti_ river. Nimi was of Yadu lineage
group), S’a_kiyas by birth; from that family I (Matsya Pura_n.a 44.36; Va_yu Pura_n.a
have wandered about, not longing for sensual 95.35-36).
Br.hada_ran.yaka Upanis.ad refers to a sage
Vidarbhi_ Kaun.d.inya (an apparent derivation
from the capital city of Vidarbha called
Kun.d.ina, which is associated with a place in
the Ch_n.d.ur ta_luk of Amraoti, on the banks
of Wardha_ river). Sa_tvatas and Bhojas are
also referred to as offshoots of the Yadu on the
banks of the Yamuna_. (Matsya Pura_n.a
44.36; Va_yu Pura_n.a 95.35-36). Bhojas also
seem to have ruled Dan.d.aka (da_n.d.ako
na_ma bhojah ka_ma_t bra_hman.akanya_m
abhimanyama_nas sabandhu ra_s.t.ro
vinana_s’a: a Bhoja king known as
Da_n.d.akya, or king of Dan.d.aka, made an
attempt on a bra_hman.a girl and perished
along with his relations and kingdom:
Kaut.ili_ya Arthas’a_stra).

The finds at Mehrgarh dated to ca. 7000 BC

indicate the early phases of village farming
communities communities. Prof. Possehl
provides a broad spectrum of phases related to
the absolute chronology of the “Indus Age”:

• Beginnings of Village Farming

Communities and Pastoral Camps (Kili
Ghul Mohammad and Burj Basket-marked
Ancient Daks.ina_patha in the age of the Later phases) 7000-4300 BC
Videhas (After Raychaudhuri, opcit., p. 76).

• Developed village farming communities 1994, Ancient India: Land of Mystery,
and pastoral societies: 4300-3200 BC Alexandria, Va., Time-Life Books)...there is no
archaeological or biological evidence for
• Early Harappan phases (Amri-Nal, Kot invasion of mass migrations into the Indus
Dijian, Sothi-Siswal, Damb Sadaa) 3200- valley between the end of the Harappan Phase,
2500 BC about 1900 BC and the beginning of the Early
Historic Period, around 600 BC. In Central
• Mature Harappan 2500-1900 BC Asia and Afghanistan the Bactria-Margiana
Archaeological Complex (BMAC), dating
• Post-urban Harappan 1900-1000 BC ffrom around 1900 to 1700 BC, represents a
complex mixture of nomadic and settled
• Early Iron Age 1000-600 BC communities, some of these may have spoken
Indo-Aryan dialects and practiced Indo-Aryan
(After Gregory L. Possehl, 1999, Indus Age: religion. These communities and their ritual
The Beginnings, New Delhi, Oxford and IBH objects were distributed from the desert oases
Publishing Co., Table 1.2) in Turkmenistan to southern Baluchistan and
from the edges of the Indus Valley to Iran. As
Evolution of Indian Civilization and Vedic nomadic herders and traders moved from the
Culture highlands to the lowlands in their annual
migration, they would have traded goods and
“The discovery of unburied skeletons among arranged marriages as well as other less formal
the latest levels of the Harappan occupation at associations resulting in the exchange of genes
Mohenjodaro combined with uncritical and between the highland and lowland
inaccurate readings of the Vedic texts led some communities.” (Kenoyer, J.M., 1998, p. 174).
scholars to claim that the decline of the Indus
civilization was the result of ‘invasions’ or Since Wheeler’s hasty generalization, many
‘migratgions’ of Indo-Aryan speaking discoveries have been reported which render it
Vedic/Aryan tribes. (Wheeler, R.E. Mortimer, possible to reconstruct an indigenous and
1968, The Indus Civilization, 3rd edn., continued evolution and development of the
Cambridge History of India, Cambridge, civilization in the Sindhu Sarasvati River
Cambridge University Press). The invasion Basins. Outside these river basins, cultural
and/or migration models assumed that the Indo- complex of Bactgria-Margiana Archaeological
Aryan speaking Vedic communities destroyed Complex (BAMC) has been discovered. There
the Indus cities and replaced the complex is little evidence of cultural materials being
urban civilization with their new rituals, transferred into or from this complex, though
language and culture. Many scholars have tried evidences of trade contacts have been
to correct this absurd theory, by pointing out identified. (Frederik T. Hiebert, 1994,
misinterpreted basic facts, inappropriate models Production evidence for the origins of the Oxus
and an uncritical reading of Vedic texts. civilization, Antiquity 68: 372-87; Victor
(Jarrige, Continuity and Change in the North Sarianidi, 1993, Recent archaeological
Kachi Plain; Shaffer, Reurbanization: The discoveries and the Aryan problem, in: South
Eastern Punjab and Beyond; loc. cit. Kenoyer, Asian Archaeology, 1991, Adalbert J. Gail and
J., 1998, Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Gerd J.R. Mevissen, eds., Stuttgart, Steiner:
Civilization, Karachi, Oxford University Press). 252-63). The internal migrations to the Ganga-
However, until recentgly, these scientific and Yamuna, caused principally by the desiccation
well-reasoned arguments were unsuccessful in of the Sarasvati River, have been well
rooting out the misinterpretations entrenched in documented, with reference to new surveys and
the popular literature. (Brown, Dale M., ed., excavations of new sites. (Bisht, Ravinder

Singh, 1987, Further excavations at Banawali, Eastern Anthropologist 45:1-2: 117-54;
1983-84, in: B.M.Pande and B.D. Possehl, Gregory L., 1991, The Harappan
Chattopadhyaya, eds., Archaeology and cultural mosaic: ecology revisited, in: Catherine
History, Delhi, Agam Kala Prakashan: 135-56; Jarrige, ed., South Asian Archaeology, 1989,
Dikshit, K.N., 1991, The legacy of Indus Madison, Wis., Prehistory Press: 237-44). A
civilization in North India, in: Puratattva 21: review of these new discoveries and evaluations
17-20; Joshi, Jagat Pati, 1978, Interlocking of have led to the presentation of alternative
Late Harappan culture and Painted Grey Ware theories to explain the decline of the Indus
culture in the light of recent excavations, in: cities and the continuation of the urban Indo-
Man and Environment 2: 90-101; Shaffer, Jim Gangetic tradition. (Kenoyer, J. Mark, 1995,
G., 1993, Reurbanization: the eastern Puunjab Interaction systems, specialized crafts and
and beyond, in: Urban Form and Meaning in culture change: the Indus Valley tradition and
South Asia in: Howard Spodek and Doris Meth the Indo-Gangetic Tradition in South Asia, in:
Srinivasan, eds., The Shaping of Cities from George Erdosy, ed., The Indo-Aryans of
Prehistoric to Precolonial Times, Washington Ancient South Asia: Language, Material
D.C., National Gallery of Art: 53-67). Cultgure and Ethnicity, Berlin, de Gruyter,
Similarly, the migrations from Sind to Rann of 213-57; Shaffer Jim. G, and Lichtenstein, Diane
Kutch and beyond, southwards towards the A., 1995, The cultural tradition and
Saurashtra and Kathiawar regions of Gujarat palaeoethnicity in South Asian archaeology, in:
have also been documented based on new George Erdosy, ed., The Indo-Aryans of
surveys and excavations. (Bahn, Kuldeep K., Ancient South Asia: Language, Material
1992, Late Harappan Gujarat, in: Eastern Culture and Ethnicity, Berlin, de Gruyter, 126-
Anthropologist 45: 1-2: 173-92; Possehl, 154).
Gregory L., 1992, The Harappan civilization in
Gujarat: the Sorath and Sindh Harappans, in:

Bharat c. 500 B.C. (Republics at the time of homogeneity of monuments and artifacts; the
coronation of Bimbisa_ra c. 545-44 BC) (After agreement among Harappa, Mohenjodaro,
Raychaudhuri, opcit., p. 174). The most Kalibangan, Dholavira, Banawali, Kunal and
remarkable feature of the civilization during all Lothal is striking indeed, while regional
its phases from 7000 to 1000 BC is the variations are overshadowed by the
preponderant shared features of life such as essential semantic unity of languages currently
domestication of animals, cultivation of wheat spoken in many parts of India also as a legacy
and barley, canal irrigation and use of wells, of the cultural unity sustained during ancient
house-building, organization of towns, weaving times. On the aspects of cultural unity, Possehl
of textiles, wheel-turned pottery, river notes (1999, p. 157): “From the archaeological
navigation, use of carts, metal-working, record one senses that in spite of this
ornament-making using faience, ivory, bone, differentiation, we are still seeing a single
shell and semi-precious stones and use of ancient culture at some level of abstraction.
inscriptions to facilitate trade. (cf. Marshall, How were the norms of this culture maintained
John, 1931, The age and authors of the Indus over such immense distances? What kept it all
Civilization. in: Marshall, John, ed., together? The answer to these questions is
Mohenjodaro and the Indus Civilization, 3 obviously ‘communication’, either direct, face
vols., Arthur Probsthain, London: 102-12). The to face contact, or a more indirect form.
homogeneous nature of the culture was evolved Without some convention of communication,
and sustained over the largest Bronze Age areas that are geographically removed from one
civilization of the world, covering an estimated another tend to take their own course of cultural
area of 1,310,000 square kilometers. This is in change and gradual differences will emerge.
comparison with the Mesopotamian The two most obvious mechanisms that can be
Civilizzation which covered an estimated area documented that would have sustained the mid-
of 400,000 square kilometers during the range and longer communication networks are
Akkadian Dynasty and with the Egyptian the movements of pastoral nomads, and other
Civilization which covered a small area of ca. itinerants, some of which are tied to seasonal
17,100 square kilometersduring the Old changes, and the internal commerce of the
Kingdom. (Butzer, Karl W., 19776, Early Indus Age.”
Hydraulic Civilization in Egypt: A study in
Cultural Ecology, Chicago, University of
Chicago Press, Prehistoric Archaeology and
Ecology Series: 83). The region covered the
entire drainage system of the Sarasvati River,
the northern Ganga-Yamuna doab in Uttar
Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, western fringe of
southern and central Rajasthan, Gujarat, almost
the whole of Pakistan (excepting for the
northern mountainous areas) and southern
Afghanistan. That homogeneity in culture was
maintained over such vastg distances given the
transport systems of river crafts and bullock-
carts (and perhaps pack-animals) is an era of
peaceful coexistence unparalleled in the history
of human civilization. For example, the mature
Harappan pottery was seen over all parts of the
civilization area and so were the seals, styles of
beads, brick sizes and weights commonly
shared. This lends credence to the possibility
that this entire area was truly a Linguistic Area
and given the legacy which continued in India
into the historical periods, the decipherment of
the inscriptions have to be related to the

Sources of tin: the great enigma of Early zun
/ hae?Ç;
e u mTSv à/ja< de?iv ididfœiF n> .
Bronze Age archaeology
#/ma äü? srSvit ju;
/ Sv? vaijnIvit ,
Network of mineral resource locations: tin,
copper, gold, lead/silver (After J.M. Kenoyer, ya te/ mNm? g&Tsm/da \?tavir ià/ya dev
/ ;
e /u juþ?it .
1998, Fig. 5.20f). “Copper ore was probably 2.041.16 Sarasvati_, best of mothers,
smelted near the mining sources and brought best of rivers, best of goddesses, we
into the Indus Valley as bun-shaped ingots. are, as it were, of no repute; grant us,
Major copper sources are located to the west of mother, distinction. [ambitame,
Baluchistan, the east in Rajasthan and across nadi_tame, devitame: the superlatives
the gulf in Oman. Any of these areas could of ambika_, a mother, nadi_ , a river
have produced enough
copper to supply the entire
Indus Valley civilization,
but the Indus merchants
were trading with all these
areas. One can imagine
traders shouting out the
benefits of Oman copper.
‘It is a bit more expensive,
but more pure than the
slag from Baluchistan or
Rajasthan.’ A merchant
from Baluchistan would
shout back, ‘Omani copper
is soft like the meat of a
date, while the highland
copper is strong and hard
like the pit.’ Marine shell
was also brought from
three sources. The Gulf of
Kutch and Saurashtra to
the east produced species of shell that were and devi_, a goddess].
used to make bangles, ladles and inlay. Similar 2.041.17 In you, Sarasvati_, who are
species were obtained from the coast west of divine, all existences are collected;
Karachi, and a third source was the Omani rejoice, goddess, among the
coast..At the coastal site of Balakot, a local S'unahotras, grant us, goddess,
species of clam shell was used.” (J.M.Kenoyer, progeny.
1998, p. 94). 2.041.18 Sarasvati_, abounding in
food, abounding in water, be
R.s.i Gr.tsamada is ecstatic while adoring propitiated by these oblations, which
Sarasvati in the Rigveda: the Gr.tsamadas offer as acceptable to
you, and precious of the gods.
AiMb?tme/ ndI?tme/ deiv?tme/ sr?Svit ,
Sarasvati_ is among the 27 synonyms for a
/ S
/ ta #?v Smis/ àz?iStm! AMb ns! k«ix . river (Hemachandra, Abhida_na cinta_man.i, 4,
145-146: nadi_, hiran.yavarn.a_, rodhovakara_,
Tve ivña? srSvit iï/tayU<?i; de/Vyam! , taran:gin.i_, saiva_livi, vaha_, hradini_,

srotasvini_, nimnaga_, srota, nirjharin.i_, sarit, Taittiri_ya Bra_hman.a’s reference to
tat.ini_, ku_lan:kas.a_, va_hini_, kar.su_, Sarasvati_ as vais’ambhalya_ ( is
dvi_pavati_, samudradayita_, dhuni, sravanti_, elaborated by Sa_yan.a: vis’va_m praja_na_m
sarasvati_, parvataja_, a_paga_, jaladhiga_, bharan.am pos.an.am vis’ambhalam tatkartum
ku_lya_, jamba_lini_. ks.ama_ vis’ambhalya_ ta_dr.s’i_. Sarasvati_ is
thus vais’ambhalya_ or one who brings up the
An alternative view could be that the Pari_n.ah whole people. This epithet is an apparent
may be a reference to Pa_ripa_tra. “Pa_ripa_tra expansion of Sarasvati_ as a river nourishing
is the western part of the Vindhya range the settlements of people with her waters and
extending from the course of the Chambal to promoting agriculture and other livelihood
the Gulf of Cambay (Asiatic Researches, vol. activities of the people, she was indeed the
VIII, p. 338); according to Dr. Bhandarkar it is giver of food, va_jinni_vati_. Sarasvati_ is
that portion of the Vindhya range from which called satyava_k: pra te mahe sarasvati_
the rivers Chambal and Betwa take their rise subhage va_jinni_vati_ satyava_ce bhare matim
(History of the Dekkan, see.III; Vara_ha idam te havyam ghr.tavat sarasvati satyava_ce
Pura_n.a, ch. 85). It comprised the Aravali prabharema_ havi_m.si: (TB; S’ri_
mountains and the hills of Rajputana including Ma_dhava explains the dative form,
the Pathar range which is perhaps a contraction sartyava_ce: anr.tava_kyarahita_yai; thus,
of Pa_ripa_tra. It appears to have included the Sarasvati_ as Va_k is all truth, free from
countries of Apara_nta, Saura_s.t.ra, S’udra, falsehood; in RV 1.3.11, she is codayitri_
Ma_lapa (Ma_lava), Malaka and others su_nr.ta_na_m, the impeller of pleasing and
(Ku_rma Pura_n.a, Pu_rva ch. 47), in short a true speeches). The waters are medicinal for the
great portion of the western coast of India. world (vis’vabhes.aji_h: TB Sarasvati_
According to the Ra_ma_yan.a, Pa_ripa_tra or is sumr.d.i_ka_ (Taittiri_ya A_ran.yaka 1.1.3,
Pa_riya_tra was situated on the western sea 21.3, 31.6, 4.42.1); this is explained as having
(Kishkinda_ Ka_n.d.a, ch. 42, v.20; Pa_riya_tra good soil (sumr.d), that is, land having good
= Pa_ripa_tra: Va_mana Pura_n.a, ch. 13; (fertile) soil. Sarasvati_ is described as both the
Brahma_n.d.a Pu_ra_n.a, pt. II, ch. 16).” (N. land and the water: sarasvati
Dey, 1979, The Geographical Dictionary of saroyuktabhu_miru_pa is.t.ake (TA 1.1.3).
Ancient and Medieval India, Delhi, Cosmo During her flight back from heaven, Ga_yatri_
Publications, p. 149). This equivalence and the encountered the Gandharva Vis’va_vasu who
pattern of movement of the people away from robbed her of the soma. Gods became anxious
the Sarasvati and Dr.s.advati_ towards the as Ga_yatri’s return from heaven with soma
Chambal indicates the possibility that the name was being delayed and realized that the
vais’ambha_lya of Sarasvati_ river may indeed Gandharvas had stolen soma. (S’B
refer to the shortened popular form: Chambal Then, they planned to send Va_k to the
River. Zimmer notes that Kavas.a was the Gandharvas, who were fond of women, to
Purohita of the joint tribes named Vaikarn.a retrieve soma for the gods. (S’B In the
who comprised the Kuru Pa_n~ca_las. (cf. encounter of Va_k with the Gandharvas, the
Vedic Index, Vol. I, p. 143)."…the Sarasvati_ latter demanded that the gods should offer
still has a similar name, Vai'sambhalyA (with Va_k in exchange for soma. The gods agreed to
many variants, always a sign of foreign origin, the demand with the condition that if Va_k
in the Brahmana texts: TB, -bhAlyA, - wanted to return the Gandharvas should not
pAlyA, -bAlyA Ap'SS 4.14.4, -bhAlyA force her to remain with them against her will
BhAr'sikSA; cf. also RV vi'spAla?), which is to (S’B Both the gods and gandharvas
be derived from something like began to woo Va_k; gandharvas recited the
*visambAz/*visambAL, ..." (Witzel, M., 1999, Veda (S’B; gods played on a lute to
Substrate languages in OIA, EJVS, 1999, p. 11) entice Va_k. Gods won and the gandharvas lost

both the soma and Va_k. (S’B Aryans began at Allahabad, conquered and
Mantraru_pa_ va_k, deified speech becomes, in spread out north-west, west and south, and had
the Bra_hman.as, the goddess of speech. She is by Yaya_ti’s time occupied precisely the
associated with Vis.n.u and described as his refgion famed as Madhyades’a. They possessed
tongue or residing in his mouth. (Skanda. P. that Mid-land definitely and made it their own
7.33.96). In Va_yu Pura_n.a (1.23.34), thoroughly, so that it was ‘their true pure
Sarasvati_ is described as one with a loud roar, home’, as Sir G. Grierson describes it
maha_na_da_. linguistically. (ibid., p. 357). They expanded
afterwards into the Panjab and East
The name of one of the two gandharvas, Afghanistan, into West India and the north-west
namely, sva_n, who guarded the stolen soma is Dekhan, into East and South Bihar and into
significant. In Yas’t 10.67, Mitra is stated to Bengal—precisely as he finds the Aryans did
come, driving in a chariot, from the eastern linguistically in those very regions, which he
continent Arezahi_ to the splendid continent of calls the ‘Outer Band’. (ibid., p. 358). Also it
Xvaniratha. The last two lines of the verse are has been pointed out that the Ayodhya_ realm
rendered by Gershevitch as: “(Mitra comes) was non-Aila, was not subdued by the Ailas
equipped with prompt energy, Mazda-created and was only influenced by them. This agrees
fortune, and Ahura-created victoriousness”. (I. exactly with his linguistic inference, that in
Gershevitch, The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, Oudh ‘there is a mixture (of language) of the
Cambridge, 1959). The name of the continent, same nature, although here the Midland
Xvaniratha, seems concordant with Sva_n, the language has not established itself so firmly as
gandharva who guarded the soma. The eastern it has in the west and south.’ (ibid. p. 359).
continent, ‘Arezahi_’ may be a reference to Thus the political account as tradition reveals it
Arachosia < haraquaiti < sarasvati_ region. accords precisely with Sir. G. Grierson’s
Sarasvati_ is called ‘ams’umati_’, full of the linguistic exposition, and explains the linguistic
soma: “…Soma, frightened by Vr.tra, fled to facts simply and fully. Current opinion, in order
the Ams’umati_, flowing in the Kuruks.etra to explain those facts, postulates not only an
region. He settled there and gods, too, settled invasion of Aryans from the north-west, but
there along with him. They used soma, and even a double invasion, and the theory is that
thereby evolved Soma-sacrifices.” ‘the inhabitants of the Midland represent the
(Su_ryakanta, Sa_ras, Soma and Si_ra_, latest stage of Indo-Aryan immigration’, and
ABORI, vol. XXXVIII, Poona, 1958, p. 115). that the latest invaders entered ‘into the heart of
the country already occupied by the first
Migration of Ailas immigrants, forcing the latter outwards in three
directions, to the east, to the south and to the
Yadu are mentioned in the Rigveda; Yadu is west.’ (ibid., p. 358). This theory is improbable
associated with Turvas’a, Druhyu, Anu and in itself, and certainly implies a severe and
Pu_ru: RV 1.108.8; RV 1.36.18; 6.45.1;8.6.46; bitter struggle between the second and the first
about the middle of the second millennium BC, immigrants, of which one would expect to find
epigraphs of the Kassites and Mitanni refer to some echo in tradition, for it concerned the very
Rigvedic gods (Su_rya—shurias; Marut— heart of India, yet there is absolutely none. It is
maruttash; Indra, Mitra, Varun.a, Na_satyas wholly unnecessary according to the
and Daks.a—dakash, star, Cambridge Ancient tradition…These conclusions raise the question,
History. 1.553). Gandha_ra princes are referred what does tradition say about the origin of the
to as descendants of Druhyu in Matsya 48.6 and Ailas or Aryans? It makes the Aila power begin
Va_yu 99.9 Pura_n.as. “According to tradition at Allahabad and yet distinctly suggests that
in chapter XXIV (G. Grierson, 1907, Imperial they came from outside India. The legends and
Gazetteer of India, I, pp. 349 f.) the Ailas or fables about the progenitor Puru_ravas Aila all

connect him with the middle Himalayan region. progress, but reversely from the Ganges which
He was closely associated with the Gandharvas. they had hardly reached. This agrees better with
His wife Urvas’I_ was a Gandharvi_, as well as the course of the Aila expansion and its outflow
called an apsaras. The places he frequented beyond the north-west. (Perhaps the arguments
were Manda_kini_, Alaka_, the Caitraratha and used to prove the advance of the Aryans from
Nandana forests, the mountains Afghanistan into the Panjab might simply be
Gandhama_dana and Meru, and the land of reversed)...Suda_s’s battle with the ten
Uttara Kuru—regions to which the Gandharvas kings…(Suda_s) was an Aila king of North
were assigned. (Matsya 114.82; MBh. Pan~ca_la, and the Ailas (or Aryans) had
5.110.3830-1; 6.6.212; Vis.n.u 39 to 41). From entered and dominated North India long before
the Gandharvas he obtained sacrificial fire; his his time. It was part of his conquests westward
sons were known in the Gandharva world into the Panjab…Tradition or myth thus
(Ku_rma 1.23.46); and he ultimately became directly indicates that the Ailas (or Aryans)
united with the Gandharvas. Further, the fables entered India from the mid-Himalayan region,
about his birth point to that region, and two and its attitude towards the NW frontier lends
accounts connect his alleged parent Ila with the no support to any invasion from that quarter.
northern country Ila_vr.ta, which they say was (The only passages which may lend support to
named after him. (Matsya 12.14; Padma the theory of a north-western invasion are the
5.8.119)…that (north) region, the countries in two in the Ra_ma_yan.a, which make Ila king
and beyond the middle of the Himalayas, has of Ba_lhi or Ba_lhi_ka, if these words mean
always been the sacred land of the Indians. Balkh; but they might mean the Va_hli_ka
Indian tradition knows nothing of any Aila or country in the Panjab…)…Indian tradition
Aryan invasion of India from Afghanistan, nor suggests a reverse origin for the Iranians, which
of any gradual advance from thence eastwards. is linguistically tenable, which harmonizes with
On the other hand it distinctly asserts that there the Boghazkai treay, and which can account for
was an Aila outflow of the Druhyus through the their language and religion….Puru_ravas was
north-west into the countries beyond, where succeeded by A_yu at Pratis.t.ha_na (the later
they founded various kingdoms and so Praya_ga or Allahabad), and another son
introduced their own Indian religion among Ama_vasu founded another kingdom, the
those nations. (JRAS, 1919, pp. 358-61). The capital of which was then or afterwards
north-west frontier never had any ancient Ka_nyakubja (Kanauj). A_yu was succeeded by
sacred memories, and was never regarded with Nahus.a, and another son Ks.atravr.ddha
reverence. All ancient Indian belief and established himself at Ka_s’i. Nahus.a was a
veneration were directed to the mid-Himalayan famoud king. His son and successor Yaya_ti
region, the only original sacred outside land was a renowned conqueror, extended his
(See the eulogy of the Northern region: MBh. kingdom widely and was reckoned a samra_j
5.110; 6.12); and it wasd thither that rishis and (MBh. 1.75,3156)…He had five sons, Yadu,
kings turned their steps in devotion, never to Turvasu, Druhyu, Anu and Puru…” (Pargiter,
the north-west. The list of rivers in Rigveda F.E., 1922, Ancient Indian Historical Tradition,
10.75 is in regular order from the east to the Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 296-298, p. 302,
north-west (See M.A. Stein, JRAS, 1917, p. p. 259). According to Skanda Pura_n.a, the
91)—not the order of entrance from the north- river A_paga__ (A_paya_ of Kurudes’a) had
west but the reverse. If the Aryans entered India S’ivaks.etras (I.iiiu.3.10); a_paya_ was a
from the north-west, and had advanced tributary of Sarasvati_ and Maha_bha_rata
eastward through the Panjab only as far as the (Karn.a Parvan XLIV.10) locates the river in
Sarasvati_ or Jumna when the Rigvedic hymns Va_hika des’a (that is, Punjab) ruled by S’alya.
were composed, it is very surprising that the
hymn arranges the rivers, not according to their

All the four treaty gods are mentioned in one conceals herself underground. (7.i.35.25,26).
hymn of the R.gveda (RV. 10.125.1). Paul Beyond Pa_pabhu_mi, she reaches
Thieme demonstrated that the gods of the Gandharvaku_pa and flows further on a
Mitanni treaties are specifically Vedic gods, westward course. (7.i.26,27). Traversing
and that they cannot be Proto-Aryan. through Bhu_ti_s’vara and Rudrakot.i before
Macdonnel is more emphatic: "It is a fact, reachintg S’rikan.t.ha des’a (7.i.35,29-31; with
however, that this particular grouping of the its capital Stha_nes’vara or Thanesar near
gods Varun.a and Mitra, Indra and Na_satyau, Kuruks.etra), she reaches Kuruks.etra and flows
with these forms of their names, can be traced on through Vira_t.anagara, Gopi_yanagari (near
only in the Veda. For this reason I agree with Vira_t.anagara) and Deviks.etra, before
Jacobi, Konow and Hillebrandt in considering reaching Pas’cima des’a (7.i.36.52). She then
these gods to be Indian, Vedic deities and that traverses the Kharjuri_vana (where she is called
there is no possible justification for any other Nanda_), Ma_rkan.d.a_s’rama, Arbuda_ran.ya,
view. We shall have to assume that, just as Vat.avana, Vam.s’astamba, Ka_kati_rtha,
there were Aryan immigrations into India from Dha_res’vara, Pun.d.ari_ka, Ma_tr.ti_rtha,
the west, there must have been isolated Anaraka, San:games’vara, Kot.i_s’vara and
migrations back to the west." (Macdonnel, Siddhes’vara. She joins the Pas’cima Sa_gara.
opcit, 1927, p. 805). (7.i.35.32-51). She is called Pra_ci_ Sarasvati_
(5.i.57.31), Sa_vitri_ and Vedama_ta_
Skanda Pura_n.a describes the course of the (5.iii.3.10). As Vedama_ta, she is the very
Saravati_ River. Sarasvati_ issues from the personification of the Vedic culture. She is
water-pot of Brahma_ (1.ii.56.13; 3.ii.25.1-7, bra_hmi_ mu_rtih, the incarnation of Brahma_
10-16, hence called Brahman.ahsuta_: 3.ii.25.7) and hence, sacreed (5.iii.9.47). (loc.cit. A.B.L.
and flows on a downward course from Plaks.a Awasthi, 1965, Studies in Skanda Pura_n.a, Pt.
( on the Himalayas. At Keda_ra, I, Lucknow, Kailash Prakashan, pp. 153-154).
she turns west (pas’cima_bhimukhi_) and
four arms; a garland is held in her left upper
Vidya_devi hand and a manuscript is held in her left lower
hand. Five ji_nas are carved seated on the upper
Presiding deity of part of the black slab; an apparent indication
Vidya_-mandira that the image depicts the Jaina goddess of
established by Bhoja, learning. On the base are two female attendants
the ruler of Parama_ra and a squatting worshipper on either side; to the
dyanasty of Dha_ra_, right, a male and to the left, a female, perhaps
Ma_lawa (who reigned representing the donors. The base of the image
from 1018-10060 A.D. has an inscription in na_gari mentioning that it
The king is said to have was made by the sculptor Manthala in 1034
founded a Sanskrit A.D. She is stgated to be the protectress of the
College within the sixth Ti_rtha_nkara Padmaprabha. The eight
temple dedicated to anklets worn on her two ankles are reminiscent
Sarasvati_.) Now of the anklets worn by the bronze image
displayed as Stuart unearthed in Mohenjo-daro dated ca. 2750 B.C.
Bridge Collection The inscription is read byh KN Dikshit (ASI) as
(No.84); British follows: “On Sri_mad Bhoja narendra chandra
Museum. Parama_ra, nagari_ vidyadhari (?) romonadhih nama Sa*
1034 A.D. with a late Sma* khalu Sukham (pra* pya na) ya_ psara_h
na_gari inscription. She Va_gdevi_ (m) pratima(m) vidha_ya janani
is standing in tribhanga pose, is bejewelled; has yasya_-rjji (tanam trayi)***phaladhika_m

dhara (sarin) murttim subham nirmmame iti
subham//sutrodh ra-sahira-suta mana thalena
ghatitam//vi tika sivadevena likhitam iti san
1091” (Translation: Om the Vidyadhari of the
town Bhoja, the moon among kings** having
first made the mother goddess speech*** great
in fruit*** created the auspicious image. This
was made by Manathala, the son of the
craftsman Sahira. Written by Sivadeva, in the
Samvat year 1091).

The legacy and perpetuated memory of the

Sarasvati River across many generations, unites
the peoples of Bharat, right from pre-historic
times in an unbroken, continuous sequence as
evidenced by the archaeological finds
consistent with the literary, epigraphic and
other textual references.

s of R.gveda. She is a mother, a divinity. She is
Mleccha, reality, she is nadi_, river of the saptasindhu
or region of seven rivers; she nurtured a
Mlecchita vikalpa: civilzation on her banks. She is Bra_hmi, the
glyptic representation of parole (bha_s.a_). She
is va_k (parole); she is jn~a_na devi (wisdom
Language and divinity).

writing system Metaphor is an exquisite and powerful tool of

general semantics.

Mleccha is the language spoken by Vidura and The central theses presented in the saptathi
Yudhis.t.hira according to the Mahabharata. Sarasvati, are that in comprehending reality,
Mlecchita vikalpa means a ‘cipher writing’ metaphor is a powerful poetic, artistic medium
according to Va_tsya_yana’s Ka_masu_tra which bursts forth in a r.ca or su_kta or a
which describes it as one of the 64 arts. glyptic representation called mlecchita vikalpa
Mleccha was the language of the Sarasvati (cipher writing). R.gveda, which is perhaps the
Civilization as evidenced in about 4,000 objects oldest human document, which has been
with epigraphs. Some epigraphs are on copper handed down as a heritage, with astonishing
plates and some are inscribed on weapons phonetic fidelity, like a tape recorder preserved
themselves. Many are seals and tablets. The and passed on from generation to generation,
tradition of recording property transactions on abounds in metaphors. The task of a seeker is to
copper plates which began in the days of unravel the reality from the web (ni_d.am) of
Sarasvati Civilization (circa 5300 years Before metaphors. The epigraphs of the civilization are
Present) continues into the historical periods of composed of glyphs as metaphors. So are many
Bharat. sculpted mu_rti-s metaphors. Stone s’iva lin:ga
found in Harappa and terracotta representations
Metaphors as semantic indicators: the of lin:ga found in Kalibangan are metaphors,
sacred is the secular representing the shape of the summit of Mt.
Kailas. The a_gama tradition of Bharat
In GK Chesterton’s Father Brown, the cherishes a metaphor of S’iva who sits in
detective makes a perceptive observation: penance on the summit of Mt. Kailas. His
somehow, nobody notices a postman who consort is Pa_rvati, parvata putri_, daughter of
quietly enters into a house, commits a murder the mountain. The mountain, the mighty
and walks away; somehow, nobody notices a Himalayan ranges – devata_tma_ himalaya
postman. This metaphor is apt in describing an according to the poet Ka_l.ida_sa -- is a
attempt to unravel the language(s) of Bharat reservoir, a veritable water tower holding life-
circa 5000 years ago spoken on the banks of sustaining, sacred waters, a_pah. As S’iva sits
Rivers Sarasvati and Sindhu. The postman, the in penance, River Ganga emerges from the
language is mleccha! the lingua franca, the locks of his hair. It is a metaphor representing
parole. Pre-history has not vanished, it is all the flows of waters and alluvium into the plains
around us. Using the epigraphs of Sarasvati of Bharat, sustaining a civilization.
civilization, it is possible to unravel the
attributes of both the message and the In the unique a_gama tradition of Bharat,
messenger and relate them to archaeology and a_yudha_ni carried by mu_rti-s sculpted by
continuing tradition in Bharat. artisans, the vis’vakarma, are metaphors of the
attributes of divinity which permeates every
Sarasvati is a metaphor adored in ecstatic terms
in brahma, the prayer invoked in over 70 r.ca-
phenomenon. Life itself is a metaphor, a quest for understanding r.ta, the
cosmic order and dharma, which holds this glyph evokes an associated sound; the sound
order together. Everything secular is enveloped evokes a meaning. This can be illustrated by the
in spirituality. There is no reality but the splendid glyph of the Bra_hman.i or Zebu bull.
spiritual metaphor. The R.gvedic yajn~a is a
metaphor. It is a representation of the reality of In Santali, the glyph of the Zebu bull evokes a
unity of cosmic and individual consciousness. sound: adar, adar d.an:gra In Kashmiri
d.an:gur = bullock.
The glyphs of the civilization are abiding
records of such metaphors, glyphs such as the In Sanskrit, a tree evokes a sound: dru Cognate
svastika_, the dotted-circle, the endless knot, words in the linguistic area of Bharat, the
the branches of a tree or twigs from a branch, dialectial continuum are: ad.aru = twig
the horns. The glyphs are an artisan’s way of (Kannada. Tulu). Such a glyph can be ligatured,
representing meaning, representing life- as a headdress, to a glyph of a standing or
activities unraveling the nature of material seated person ligatured to the back of a bull
phenomena – of the minerals which could be (adar), as a phonetic determinant. d.hagara_m
moulded into metals and artifacts of a = n.pl. the buttocks; the hips (G.) Or, as a
civilization. person carrying a club: d.an:gorum, d.an:go,
d.an:goro = a thick club; a cudgel (G.lex.)
This metaphor as the communication medium is
succinctly expressed by a great grammarian,
Tolka_ppiyan in Tamil: ella_ccollum porul.
kur-ittan-ave (all words are semantic
Even a mere splinter can, as a glyph-- “ --
represent this sound: at.ar = a splinter (Ma.);
indicators). ad.aruni = to crack (Tu.) which is rebus
Thus over 1,0000 glyphs represented on
epigraphs of the civilization are semantic
indicators. These are heiroglyphs governed by a
concordance: image = sound = meaning. A
like) aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.)

In Kannada, another language in a dialectical continuum of Bharatiya language spectrum of over

5000 years ago, the sound associated with the Zebu bull glyph evokes a meaning from a cognate
sound: aduru = native metal, i.e. a metal which is not subjected to smelting or melting in fire. In
almost all languages of Bharat, the sound d.han:gar evokes a meaning, d.han:gar ‘blacksmith’
(WPah.); d.a_n:ro = term of contempt for a blacksmith (N.); t.ha_kur ‘blacksmith’ (Mth.)
dha~_gar = a professional group whose business it is to dig wells, tanks etc. (H.)

When a phoneme evokes more than one image, the artist who creates the glyptic representations
uses ligatures. Thus, ko_la = woman (Nahali) kol = tiger (Santali). The representation in glyptic are
yields a ligature of a woman and a tiger. The phonemes and the associated glyph evoke a meaning:
kol ‘metal’ (Ta.)

cu_d.a = tiger’s mane (Pkt.) cu_r.a_ = bracelet (Go.); cu_d.a = bracelet (Skt.Pkt.) These sounds
result in the construction of an image by the artist. He creates a person adorned with bracelets with
the face composed of tiger’s mane. These glyphs and associated phonemes evoke a meaning:
cul.l.ai = potter’s kiln, furnace (Ta.); culli_ = fireplace (Skt.); culli_, ulli_ id. (Pkt.)

The meaning conveyed by penance itself can be composed as a glyph: a person seated in a yogic
posture. kamad.ha, kamat.ha = a type of penance (Pkt.). This word can also be imaged like a ficus
leaf,: kamat.ha (Skt.) or a bat, kabat.a (Ka.) This sound of this word evokes meanings related to
tools of trade of a professional artisan : kamat.a = a portable furnace for melting precious metals
(Te.) kamat.ha_yo = a learned carpenter or mason, working on scientific principles (G.)

kammat.i_d.u = a goldsmith, a silversmith (Te.)

The Meluhhan being introduced carries an antelope on his arm. Cylinder seal Impression.
Akkadian. Inscription records that it belongs to ‘S’u-ilis’u, Meluhha interpreter’. Musee du Louvre.
Ao 22 310, Collection De Clercq.

Old Indic or Proto-Bharatiya Lingua Franca or parole (spoken tongue)

There are hundreds of lexical isolates attested in ‘Indo-Aryan’ which are not found in other
branches of Indo-European. These are clearly a substratum layer of Old Indic which was spoken by
the people of Bharat on the Sarasvati-Sindhu river basins and on the coastal settlements of Sindhu
sa_gara (Arabian Sea). Some of these people were called Meluhhan in Mesopotamian texts. The
Austroasiatic components of this substratum have to be resolved further in the context of (1)
ancestors of Brahui and Elamite; and (2) other Austroasiatic groups such as those in the
Brahmaputra (Lohitya)-Meghna-Barak river basins and around the Bay of Bengal.

The lingua franca (or parole, spoken tongue) of Bharat circa 5000 years ago is hypothesized as a
continuum of dialects, evolving in tandem with the cultural setting and technological innovations.
Since the civilization which emerged on and was nurtured on the banks of Rivers Sarasvati and
Sindhu continues into the historical periods in Bharat, the language spoken circa 5000 years Before
Present can be reconstructed from the languages of present-day Bharat and based on the lexical
work done by philologists from the days of Yaska (circa 6th century BCE) upto the discovery of
Bangani in the 20th century.

"...the entire Indo-Aryan realm (except for Sinhalese) constitutes one enormous dialectical
continuum...The speech of each village differs slightly from the next, without loss of mutual
intelligibility, all the way from Assam to Afghanistan....Mitanni kingdom...Indo-Iranians appear in
northern Syria a full half millennium becore their appearance in western Iran. How did they get
there?...To call these Mitanni kings 'Indo-Iranians', however, is to beg an important question...Some have
held that these linguistic fragments are specifically Indo-Aryan. Others including Burrow (1955) held
they represent undifferentiated Indo-Iranian, before the split between Iranian and Indo-Aryan...An Indo-
Aryan identification would demand an earlier dating of the Iranian/Indo-Aryan split; with it have also
been associated speculations regarding the route taken by the Aryans to India (e.g., the Asia Minor
route...), or, possibly a back migration of Aryans from India. (If the latter, the date of the Aryan
settlement of India would have to be moved back far enough to allow not only for them to reach Syria by
1500 BC, but also for their language to have died out by then, leaving only the terminological residue
noted...)...the philological evidence alone does not allow an Indian origin of the Aryans...there is the
matter of the nature of the common vocabulary shared by Sanskrit with the rest of Indo-Europen, which
points to a more northerly ultimate home...The native Dravidian vocabulary has not been reconstructed.
Burrow and Emeneau's Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (1960) only assembles materials for it... The
civilization seems to have continued peacefully in Gujarat until a comparatively late period, i.e. 800 BC
(Fairservis 1975: 307), after which it dissolved into the subsequent culture, which makes that area one of
prime importance in detecting any Harappan influence on Aryan language and culture." (Colin P.
Masica, The Indo-Aryan Languages, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Language X, Nahali, Vedic

A remarkable clue is provided by the existence of Nahali as an isolate language in the Narmada
Valley, a valley which has assumed prominence as a neolithic precursor (ca. 10000 years Before
Present) of the bronze-age civilization on the Sarasvati Sindhu River valleys. Was Nahali an Austro-
asiatic language; or was it an Indo-European language? The vocabulary of Nahalii contains a
number of words which may be interpreted as the Indo-Aryan substratum. The Gulf of Khambat
Cultural Complex (GKCC) close to the area of the Nahali-speakers is only 300 kms. from Padri,
Dholavira and Surkotada which are replete with stone structures; in Dholavira, ringstones and
polished pillars of stone have been found. A maritime, riverine culture of the GKCC parallels the
land-based, riverine, Mehrgarh neolithic evidence.

Close to the Gulf of Khambat Cultural Complex where two submerged rivers have been discovered
(possible extensions of palaeo-channels of River Tapti) are the speakers of Nahali language which is
described as an Indo-Aryan language.

Sea-faring early Sarasvati, Meluhhan

culture: Amri-Nal sea coast se ttlements

Gulf of Khambat: locus of sunken rivers,

extensions of palaeo-channels of Rivers 41
extensions of palaeo-channels of Rivers culture: Amri-Nal sea coast se ttlements
Narmada and Tapati. (Courtesy: NIOT, “…inhabitants were well acquainted with the sea
Chennai) and its resources” (After Fig. 4.124 in G. Possehl,
1999, p. 618)

Late Harappan settlements, Gujarat.

Neolithic and Harappan period

settlements in the cradle of the Sarasvati
Civilization. The delta area is now called
Rann of Kutch. [After KS Valdiya, 2002, Fig.

Piotr Gasiorowski, a linguist active on the cybalist group: “Strictly speaking, Nahali (spoken on the upper
Tapti) is not an isolate, though it's classified as such e.g. on the SIL site. Present-day Nahali is genetically
an Indo-Aryan language whose lexicon shows several layers of absorbed substrates. Though the exact
percentages apparently vary from dialect to dialect (while minor and endangered, Nahali is not a
monolithic languages), according to Kuiper's estimates the largest lexical component (ca. 36%) is
borrowed from Kurku (a.k.a. Korku, a Munda language), about 9% of Nahali words are Dravidian (e.g.
the numerals 2, 3 and 4, whereas 5 and higher are Indo-Aryan), and some 25% are of unknown origin.
Because of the high proportion of Munda loans Nahali has also been erroneously classified as a Munda
language or even a dialect of Kurku. The etymologically obscure part of Nahali vocabulary is thought to
represent an ancient pre-Indo-Aryan substrate of the Madhya Pradesh/Maharashtra border. Although the
figure 25% may be exaggerated, the substrate -- unrelated to any known family -- seems to be real
enough. Kuiper's attempts to establish a distant relationship between Nahali and Ainu ("Isolates of the
world, unite!") should not be taken too seriously. It's quite possible that Central India was once a crazy
quilt of tiny families. Relics of the Nahali substrate and perhaps of other, hitherto unidentified extinct
languages may be lurking in the local varieties of Indo-Aryan, e.g. in the numerous but poorly
investigated languages of the Bhil group.”

Yes, Nahali is spoken on the upper reaches of the Tapati river valley. The Tapati river extensions
have been submerged in the Gulf of Khambat when the gulf was formed ca. 10,000 yrs. Before
Present and resulted in the start of regular monsoons in India. Nahali provides the key to unravel
further the proto-Indo-Aryan using epigraphs of the 4th to 2nd millennia.

Piotr's thoughts jibe with Emeneau's postulate on a linguistic area and Norman Brown's
observations. Recognizing the structure of a proto-Indo-Aryan linguistic area may help explain the
glyphs on inscribed objects found between ca. 3500 to 1500 BCE in Sarasvati-
Sindhu River basins.

bharukaccha, bharu-rat.t.ha = a kingdom which is said to have been swallowed up by the sea
(Pali.lex.Ja_taka 2.169). Bhr.gu (cognate with bharu-) is va_run.i in R.gveda and is closely
associated with the sea. Bharukaccha (Bharuch) is on the coast of Sindhu sa_gara (Arabian ocean)
close to where the River Narmada joins the ocean.

Was Nahali a language of the Bhils of western Bha_rata?

Nahali was spoken on the River Tapti, NW of Ellichpur in Madhya Pradesh. Of the vocabulary,
36% are of Kurku (Munda) and 9% of Dravidian origin. Kuiper lists 123 items of vocabulary not
reducible to Austro-Asiatic , Dravidian or IE roots, and calculates that “about 24 per cent of the
Nahali vocabulary has no correspondence whatever in India”. (FBJ Kuiper, 1962, Nahali, a
comparative study. Amsterdam: Noord-Hollandse Uitgevers Maatschappij, pp.49-50; 1966, The
sources of Nahali vocabulary, in: H. Zide, Studies in comparative Austroasiatic. Linguistics, ed.
N. H. Zide, The Hague, pp. 96-192). Bernard Sergent thinks that Nahali is an Austro-Asiatic
language (Genèse de l’Inde, p.31.)

About 40% of agricultural terminology in Hindi is derived from Language X (Colin P. Masica).

Nahali language (like Basque or Burushaski) is an isolate language unrelated to the Indo-European
family. http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/languagefamilies.html

The genetic affiliation of Nahali is controversial and can be related to the 'linguistic area' of ca. 3500
BCE in the civilization area. About 40% of the lexicon is cognate to Munda languages, and some
linguists therefore put it in that group. Among the numbers, 2-4 are borrowed from Dravidian, and
5-10 from Indic. Numerals in Nahali: bidum (m.), bidi (f.), 'one'; ir, ira 'two'; motho 'three', na_lo
'four'; pa~co 'five'; chah 'six'; sato 'seven'; atho 'eight'; nav 'nine'; das 'ten'; ba_ro 'twelve'.

Gondi manja 'man, person'; Tamil mântar 'people, men', man 'king, husband'; Old Japanese wo-
mina 'woman' (Modern Japanese onna); Ainu mene-ko 'woman'; Papuan munan, mando, mundu
'man'; Nahali mancho 'man'; Egyptian sn 'smell'; Hausa sansana 'smell'; Georgian sun 'smell'; Tamil,
Malayalam cuNTu 'bill, beak, snout'; Basque sunda 'smell'; Tibetan sna 'smell'; Nahali chon 'nose';
Seneca oseno 'smell'; Wintu sono 'nose'

"Nahale north of Amalwadi in Jalgaon District speak a language similar to Ahirani (Indo-European).
Nihali and Nahali may be different languages. Nihal in Chikaldara taluk and Akola District have 25%
lexical similarity with Korku (Munda). Nahal near Toranmal have 51% to 73% lexical similarity with
several Bhil languages (Indo-European). They live in or near Korku villages, and identify closely with
the Korku. Investigation needed: intelligibility with nearby Bhili languages, bilingual proficiency in
Korku (Munda), Hindi, Marathi. Tropical forest. Mountain slope."

Panchajanya: language of the five peoples of Bharat

The sound of panchajanya s’ankha is symbolic of

the sounds of the language spoken by the five
peoples of Bharat. This language can be unraveled
using the epigraphs of the Bharatiya civilization.

Bhima killed 'As’vattha_ma', the elephant. Dron.a

was struck with grief. Drona asked Yudhisthira if
that was true. Yudhisthira said, Ashvatthama is
killed; "elephant, not the man" he added in a low
voice and the last phrase was not heard, was lost
in the loud om-ka_ra (sound of om) generated by
the blowing of the conch of Krishna, Panchajanya.

Panchajanya lit. means ‘of the five people’, i.e. of

all the five peoples, all the Bha_ratiya-s who lived
in a civilization area of 1.25 million sq. kms.
covering the regions of present-day Afghanistan,
Pakistan and north-west Bharat. This shows the
importance of s’ankha industry in the Sarasvati
Krishna blowing the Panchajanya Civilization. This also shows that the s’ankha was
s’ankha, Kurukshetra war an industry in which all the peoples of Bharat were
engaged. The five people are referred to as
Bha_ratam Janam by Vis’vamitra Gathina in the Rigveda. The continuity of the culture from the
Sarasvati (Bharatiya) Civilization into the historical periods of Bharat has been attested by
archaeological discoveries.

Study of Archaeology and Language

It is apposite to echo the views of Schrader who attempted a study of languages in the context of
archaeological finds, to serve as an introduction to this analysis on the language of Sarasvati Sindhu
Valley Civilization:

"As the archaeologist armed with pick and shovel, descends into the depths of the earth, in order to
trace the footsteps of the past in bone and stone-remains, so the student of language-- washed on the
shore of history from ages immeasurably remote-- to reconstruct the picture of the primeval age...
(Evolving a new method called the 'Comparative Antiquities')... It is on this triple basis that the
present work is founded, bring designed as a comprehensive account of what we know at present
about the pre-historic period of the Indo-European race." Schrader, O., Pre-historic Antiquities of
the Aryan Peoples, 1890, Translation by Jevons, F.B.,from German Sprachvergleichung und
Urgeschichte, 1890 (From the Author's Preface to the English Translation, p. iii-iv).

Tradition and a dialectical continuum

Such a metaphor of a Zebu bull or other thousand heiroglyphs can be expressed on any medium:
copper plate inscription, glyphs assembled on a sign-board or incised on a weapon itself. The
glyptic tradition of writing endures in Bharatiya tradition. The svastika_, the tree, the range of

mountains, the dotted circle, the leaf, the tiger looking back, the antelope looking back, hooded
serpent, are all heiroglyphic metaphors representing meaning, the material phenomena which
provide for life-sustaining activities organized in a community which lives together, in an inter-
dependent economy. The glyphs on the epigraphs are semantic indicators of a bharatiya language
substratum called mleccha or bha_s.a_, the parole (va_k) a dialectical continuum traceable in all
languages of Bharat: vedic mantra or Sanskrit lexemes (s’abda or dha_tu) or va_kyapadi_ya (lit.
steps of va_k) elaborated by Bhartr.hari.

The dialectical continuum evidenced by languages of Bharat (of all linguistic families) is matched
by the cultural continuum in all parts of Bharat with the over-5000-year-old roots found on the
banks of River Sarasvati.

Statuette showing a
priest wearing
uttari_yam, upper
garment, leaving the
right-shoulder bare.
The garment has trefoil
motif as on a stone
pedestal used perhaps
to mount a s’iva

Seated male figure with head missing (45, 46). On the back of the figure, the
hair style can be partially reconstructed by a wide swath of hair and a
braided lock of hair or
ribbon hanging along the
right side of the back.

A cloak is draped over

the edge of the left
shoulder and covers the
folded legs and lower
body, leaving the right
shoulder and chest bare.
The left arm is clasping
the left knee and the hand
is visible peeking out
from underneath the
cloak. The right hand is
resting on the right knee
which is folded beneath
the body.

Material: limestone
Dimensions: 28 cm
height, 22 cm width
Mohenjo-daro, L 950
Islamabad Museum
Marshall 1931:358-9, pl.

The texts of contiguous civilizations provide evidences of speakers of Bharatiya languages moving
into new lands west of River Sindhu. The evidences relate to Bogazkoi inscriptions, Mitanni treaties
and the glyphs of Mesopotamia and Elam, apart from Avestan texts which can be demonstrated as a
direct evolution from Vedic. When availability of soma, electrum, diminishes, substitutes – plants --
are used both in the Avestan and the Bra_hman.a periods, succeeding the Vedic periods. Juxtaposed
to this evidence cluster, there is no evidence whatsoever, either textual or archaeological, supporting
movements of people into Bharat during the lithic or chalcolithic or bronze or iron ages.

Sarasvati is not a myth; theories proposing such movements into Bharat are myths created by an
inadequate understanding of the indigenous evolution of cultures and cultural continuity of
Bharatiya civilization. Sarasvati flowed in all majesty, the a_suri_ sarasvati for many millennia
before the 4th millennium BCE and saw the dawn of a civilization, nurtured this civilization and left
a heritage which is cherished even today all over Bharat. As projects get m i plemented, River
Sarasvati will be re-born to create the impetus for effective water management and to continue to
cherish the traditon of a_pah as sacred waters. The tradition flowing as Dharma, R.ta, Vrata and
R.n.a is enduring: every phenomenon is an expression of the cosmic order, an affirmation of the
consciousness order which is a quest for unifying the a_tman and the parama_tman, emphasizing
responsibility. The very purpose of life is to understand the r.ta, the order, the inexorable rhythm.
Every function governed by individual potential is a discharge of the debt, the r.n.a owed to
ancestors, because the present life itself is a product of history and evey individual is a spark from
the divine anvil. Vrata is a life lived enveloped in spirituality and yoga and with a discipline to

relate oneself to social responsibility. This is the central message of the metaphor of Sarasvati as
devi, divinity who can be seen as an a_pri_ devata_ and even in ghr.ta (clarified butter) as

This work presents two types of epigraphs: one type is the set of celestial epigraphs observed and
recorded by Veda Vya_sa; the other type is the set of terrestrial epigraphs created by artisans, the
vra_tya and yajn~ika of the Sarasvati civilization.. Sarasvati is associated with a writing system:
Bra_hmi is another name for Sarasvati. The is the name of an early script used all over Bharat
including Tamilnadu and S’ri Lanka. In the philological tradition of Bharat, bha_s.a_ is the parole,
the mleccha. Vedic is the mantra. Samskr.tam is the literary, ‘correct’ form, which is a
grammatically, morphologically reconstructed parole, represented by the spoken languages – such
as Prakrit and Pali. All these dialectical variations evidence intense borrowings and constructions
based on the substratum lexemes used by Bha_ratam Janam, the people of the nation of Bharat.
The decoding of the epigraphs results in the reconstruction of the bha_s.a_ in vogue as lingua
franca, circa 5500 years Before Present. The reconstruction covers over 2,000 glosses represented
by over 600 heiroglyphs used on epigraphs of Sarasvati Civilization.

The cumulative evidence, presented by archaeology and texts of contiguous civilization areas,
affirms indigenous dawning and autochthonous evolution of the civilization of Bharat with
intimations recording contacts with neighbouring civilizations in search of resources and exchange
of products.

Sarasvati Civilization was a riverine, maritime civilization; this is the reason why the civilization
spanned an expansive area unparalleled in any civilizational area, during the 4th millennium BCE.
This is also an abiding civilization since the cultural traits which unify the nation of Bharat can be
traced to the roots which formed on the banks of River Sarasvati. The R.gveda adores River
Sarasvati in 72 r.ca-s with just one mention of River Ganga which was later, during historical
periods, to emerge as the river basin which supported the emergence of janapada-s and chakravarti

Hieroglyphs of Sarasvati Civilization

updraft kiln,
Harappa (ca.
2400 BCE),
found in
Mound E,
1984. (After
Fig. 8.8,

A full-scale
reconstruction of the ancient Harappan kiln.
Harappa Archaeologcal Research Facility used to fire
large storage jar, pottery and figurine replicas. (After
Fig. 8.9, Kenoyer, 1998)

Furnace for stoneware bangles. Mohenjodaro, DK-B, C dumps. View of the slag with the coated
sub-cylindrical bowl enclosing the stoneware bangles in central position. (After Fig. 1, Massimo Vidale,

Some samples of epigraphs presented with lexemes using rebus method

The code of the epigraphs which use over 1000 glyphs has been cracked. The glyphs are
hieroglyphs representing words rebus (sounding like), unlike the hieroglyphs of Egyptian
civilization which are rebus syllables. The epigraphs are property items possessed by the owner
of the object on which epigraphs are inscribed. The items are: minerals, metals, furnaces, tools
and implements made of minerals and metals. The inscriptions occur on copper tablets and also
on weapons themselves, apart from seals, tablets and bangles. Only a metallurgist and lapidary
had the competence to inscribe on metal. The legacy continues into the historical periods in
Bharat when copper plate inscriptions are used to record property transactions.
Rebus: kuduru = goldsmith’s portable furnace (Te.)

h172B The over-arching glyph is that of a lizard. kudur d.okka a kind of lizard
(Pa.); kudur d.okke id. (Go.); kudur d.ekke garden lizard (Go.); kidri d.okke house
lizard (Go.)(DEDR 1712). The glyph is sometimes shown catching the scale of a fish.
a~s = scale of fish (Santali); rebus: ayas ‘metal’ (Skt.) bed.a = either opening of a
hearth (G.); bed.a hako = a type of fish (Santali) cf. assem ‘electrum’ (Old Egyptian) cf. kamsala = of the
goldsmith’s caste; kamsamu = bell-metal; kamsalava_d.u = a goldsmith, a silversmith, a jeweler working
in gold, silver and gems; kamsa_lava_d.u, kamsa_li = kamsa (Te.) ams’u = filament of soma (S’Br.);
amsu thread (Pali); amsu sunbeam (Pkt.)(CDIAL 4) hasli_ = gold or silver collar (P.); hasu = silver collar
(S.)(CDIAL 6).

m0492At m0492Bt Pict-14: Two bisons standing face to face.

samr.obica, stones containing gold (Mundari.lex.) saul., saul = rather brackish (M.); caud.u =
fuller’s earth (Te.)(DEDR 2386)

Depicting gold (metal) and a goldsmith in hieroglyphs of Sarasvati Civilization

It is hypothesized that soma in the R.gveda is derived from the substratum lexemes: samanom
‘gold’ (Santali); hom ‘gold’ (Ka.); somnakay ‘gold’ (Gypsy) cf. assem ‘electrum’ (Old Egyptian)
soma man.al = sand containing silver ore (Winslow Ta. Lexicon) cf. haoma = soma (Avestan) A
number of glyphs depicted on epigraphs may relate to this substantive semant. connoting ‘gold’. A
fine distinction can be drawn between the glosses: hom ‘gold’ and samanom ‘gold’: hom (< soma)
may connote the ore (unpurified); samanom may connote the metal after the mineral ore has been
subjected to fire and purified by oxiding the baser metals in the ore.

Glyph: saman = to offer an offering or sacrifice, to place in front of (Santali) ho_ma = the act of
making an oblation to the gods by casting clarified butter into the fire, accompanied with reciting
mantras; an oblation of clarified butter, an oblation with fire, a burnt-offering; a sacrifice;
ho_ma_gni = sacrificial fire, the fire for an oblation (Ka.) sa_man = song accompanying processing
of soma in sa_maveda (Vedic) The cluster of semant. in this section, points to the processing of
soma as related to electrum.

Rebus substantive: samanom = an obsolete name for gold (Santali) hom = pom, hem = gold;
hombat.t.al = a golden cup; hombara.ni = a gold jar or vase; hombar-e = go gild; hombesavu = gold
soldering (Ka.) hem = a medicinal garden plant with yellow heads of flowers, spilanthes semella
(Ka.) hon, honnu = gold (Ka.) honnu = gold, an old gold coin; honnittad.i = a kind of brass which
has the appearance of gold (Te.) somn.a = gold (Pkt.); son.n.a = golden (Pali); suvarn.a = of bright
colour, golden (RV); gold (AV); sovnakay, so_nakai, somnakay = gold (Gypsy)(CDIAL 13519)
soni = jeweller (Bi.)(CDIAL 13623).

sa_ma_nu = instruments; apparatus, furniture, goods, chattels (Ka.M.); sama_na (H.) sa_ma_nu =
things, goods, articles, tools, apparatus (Te.)

m1181A 2222 Pict-80: Three-faced, horned person (with a three-

leaved pipal branch on the crown), wearing bangles and armlets and seated, in a
yogic posture, on a hoofed platform Glyph: camman.am, cappan.am = sitting
cross-legged (Ta.); camman.am = id. (Ma.)(DEDR 2350).

Glyph: saman.a = ascetic (Pali.Pkt.); s’raman.a, s.aman.a (KharI.); s’raman.a =

ascetic, religious mendicant (S’Br.)(CDIAL 12683). Root: s’ram = weary (Skt.); s’rama = labour
(RV)(CDIAL 12682). Thus, s’raman.a can be semant. interpreted as a worker, a labourer. In the
context of samanom ‘gold’ (Santali), s’raman.a may be elaborated as a goldsmith. Such an artisan
can be represented glyptically by an ascetic, or a yogi in penance (as a horned person seated on a

Glyph: sama_n.o = a goldsmith’s pincers (G.); cimat.ige, cimat.a = a pair of tweezers, pincers,
nippers (Ka.M.); cimat.a_, cimit.a_, cimmat.i (Te.); cavan.e, cavin.e (Ma.); ca_man.a, ca_van.a,
s’ravan.a (Ta.)(Ka.lex.) cimt.a_ to pinch (B.); cimat.n.e~ id. (M.)(CDIAL 4822). cimut.u = to
squeeze, pinch (Ka.)(DEDR 2540).

Glyph: homa = bison (Pe.); hama id. (Mand.); soma = a wild buffalo (= bison)(Kui); homma bison
(Kuwi); ho_ma sambar (Kuwi)(DEDR 2849).

koma, komo = horn (Pe.); kumu id. (Mand.); komma, ko_ma, komma = branch (Kuwi); kommu =
horn (Kuwi)(DEDR 2115).

Glyph: som = both (of parts of the body)(Kho.); som pa_zo = on your two breasts (Kho.); sama =
every, pl. all (RV); all (Pkt.)(CDIAL 13174).

Glyph: saman = front, to front or face; samna samni = in front, face to face, confronting; samne =
facing, face to face; in the presence of (Santali) cf. sama_na = equal, like (G.) sama_na = same,
alike ($RV); an equal (VS); like, equal (Pali); sama_n.a (Pkt.); sama_n = like, equal, average (K.);
sama_n.u~ = like, equal (G.)(CDIAL 13211). sama = equal, alike, level (RV); sama id. (Pali.Pkt.);
somo = friend of the same age (Sh.); somu, sombu = level (K.); so~a_ (B.)(CDIAL 13173).

cimmar.na_ = to copulate (P.); cimat.na_ = to embrace closely (H.)(CDIAL 4822).

sa_mu = fencing, athletics, gymnastics, calisthenics (Te.)

Yogi with bangles, headdress and seated on a hoofed platform: silver smithy,
metal kiln

m1181A 2222 Pict-80: Three-faced, horned person (with a three-leaved pipal branch on
the crown), wearing bangles and armlets and seated, in a yogic posture, on a hoofed platform.

There are other objects with epigraphs with a comparable motif of a yogi.

Unprovenanced Harappan-style cylinder seal impression;

Musee du Louvre; cf. Corbiau, 1936, An Indo-Sumerian
cylinder, Iraq 3, 100-3, p. 101, Fig.1; De Clercq Coll.;
burnt white agate; De Clercq and Menant, 1888, No. 26;
Collon, 1987, Fig. 614. A hero grasping two tigers and a
buffalo-and-leaf-horned person, seated on a stool with
hoofed legs, surrounded by a snake and a fish on either
side, a pair of water buffaloes. Another person stands and fights two tigers and is surrounded by
trees, a markhor goat and a vulture above a rhinoceros. Text: 9905 Prob. West Asian find
Pict-117: two bisons facing each other.
Mohenjo-daro. Sealing. Surrounded by fishes, gharials? (monitor lizards) and
snakes, a horned person sits in 'yoga' on a throne with hoofed legs. One side of a
triangular terracotta amulet (Md 013); surface find at Mohenjo-daro in 1936.
Dept. of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The yogi is in penance.

Glyph: kamad.ha, kamat.ha, kamad.haka, kamad.haga, kamad.haya = a type of penance


kabat.a, kapat.e, kappat.e, kappad.i, kappad.e, kabat.e, kabbat.e, gabbila_yi = a bat (Ka.); kapt. =
butterfly, moth (Ko.)(DEDR 1216).

Rebus: kamat.amu, kammat.amu = a portable furnace for melting precious metals; kammat.i_d.u
= a goldsmith, a silversmith (Te.lex.)

Glyph: ko_t.u = horns (Ta.)

Rebus: kod. = artisan’s workshop (Kuwi)

The glyph of seated person may be analysed with reference to the orthographic details depicted in
two parts: one above the waist and the other below the waist.

Glyphs above the waist seem to depict the semant. of kiln, furnace. Glyphs below the waist seem to
depict the semant. of workshop.

The substantive property item conveyed by the message is a kiln or furnace (cul.l.ai) for native
metal (aduru).

Rebus: cul.l.ai = potter’s kiln, furnace (Ta.); cu_l.ai furnace, kiln, funeral pile (Ta.); cul.l.a potter’s
furnace; cu_l.a brick kiln (Ma.); culli_ fireplace (Skt.); culli_, ulli_ id. (Pkt.)(CDIAL 4879; DEDR

Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.)

1. The face is depicted with bristles of hair, representing a tiger’s mane.

cu_d.a_, cu_la_, cu_liya_ tiger’s mane, topknot, peacock;’s crest (Pkt.); cula_ hair of head, lock,
headdress (B.); cu_r. topknot, ceremony of tonsure (H.)(CDIAL 4883).

The person wears bangles on his arms, from wrist to fore-arm.

Glyph: cu_d.a = bracelet (Skt.); cu_d.a, cu_laa bracelet (Pkt.);. cu_r.o (S.); cu_r., cu_r.a_ (L.P.);
cur.o (Ku.); curo, curi (N.); suri_ a kind of ornament (A.); cu_r., cur.a_ bracelet (B.); cu_r.i_
(Or.Mth.); cu_ra_ anklet, bracelet (OAw.); cu_r.a_ ring on elephant’s tusk, bracelet; cu_r.i_ bangle
(H.); cu_r., cu_r.i_, cu_r.o (G.); cud.a_ (M.)(CDIAL 4883). chur. bangle, bracelet (P.) chhura_ (P.)
tsud.o, tsude.a_ (Kon.); suri, surye (Kon:kan.i) [Note the glyph of a horned, seated person wearing
bracelets from wrist to forearm]

Alternative rebus of glyphs of person seated on a platform: hasani ‘furnace’; asani ‘seated’; pin.d.i
‘platform’; Rebus: bhin.d.ia ‘a lump, applied especially to the mass of iron taken from the smelting

2. The person wears a headdress with twigs; the glyph can be represented by two lexical clusters.

cul.li = dry twigs, small stick, branch (Ta.); a dry spray, sprig, brushwood (Ma.); cul.l.ai a chip, fuel
stick; nul.l.i small sticks for firewood (Ma.); cul.k long pliable stick, stalk of plant (Ko.)(DEDR

ad.aru twig; ad.iri small and thin branch of a tree; ad.ari small branches (Ka.); ad.aru twig
(Tu.)(DEDR 67). Cf. at.artti = thickly grown as with bushes and branches (Ta.) d.ar a branch; dare
a tree; a plant; to grow well; ban: darelena it did not grow well; toa dare mother, the support of life

The glyphs below the waist (waist-band, hoofed platform) may be related to silver (khura)
workshop (man.d.a_)

He wears a waist-band.

Rebus: karma_ras’a_la = workshop of blacksmith (Skt.)

Glyph: kamarsa_la = waistband (Te.)

Rebus: khura silver (Nk.); kuruku ‘whiteness’; kuru brilliancy (Ta.); kuro silver
(Kol.Nk.Go.)(DEDR 1782). koru = bar of metal (Ta.) khura = razor (Pali); ks.ura (RV.), sharp barb
of arrow (R.); khura_ iron nail to fix ploughshare (H.) khuro (N.) head of a spear

That silver metal is conveyed by the glyph is reinforced on other epigraphs where a seated person is
shown with hooked snakes rearing on either side of the platform. Since silver ore occurs with lead,
the snake glyph may be read as: na_ga ‘snake’ (Skt.) Rebus: na_ga = lead (Skt.) cf. anakku = lead,
tin (Akkadian). On glyphs of composite animals, a hooked snake is depicted as a tail of the animal

composite. xola_ = tail (Kur.) Rebus: kol ‘metal’ (Ta.) Thus conveying lead-metal: na_ga kol cf.
tuttuna_kam = zinc (Te.); tuttuna_gamu = zinc, pewter (Te.)

man.d.ana an ornament, a decoration; jewels; trinkets; adorning (G.) fr. man.d. (Skt.)

m0453At m453BC 1629 Pict-82 Person seated

on a pedestal flanked on either side by a kneeling adorant and a hooded serpent rearing up.

Glyph: khura = hoof (Santali) Thigh = khura (Ka_tyS'r.), kuracu , kuraccai = horse's hoof
(Ta.), kul.ampu = hoof (Ta.) kur_aku (Ma.) ku_t.a = hip (Tu.) kurki = thigh (Go.)

Rebus: man.d.a_ = warehouse, workshop (Kon.lex.) man.n.u to do, perform, adorn, decorate, polish
(Ta.); man.ai to create, fashion (Ta.); manayuka, maniyuka to fashion, form earthenware, make as a
potter (Ma.)(DEDR 4685). man.i jewel of office (Skt.); man.iyam office of the village headman
(Ta.); superintendence of temples, palaces, villages (Ma.); man.e.v, man.ye.v the office of monegar
(Ko.); man.iya, man.iha, man.eya, man.e superintendence of temples, maths, palaces, custom-
houses (Ka.); man.iga_re revenue inspector (Tu.); man.iyamu office or duties of the manager of a
temple (Te.)(DEDR 4674).

Glyph: seated: asan man.d.ao ‘to sit tailor-wise for a long time, to sit about with nothing to do; lazy;
to lie down, as an animal in its lair’; asan man.d.ao akanae, hokrho kan leka ‘he has taken up his
position as if he were a watchman’ (Santali) mat.ku squat, squab, fat and short (Santali) asan
man.d.ao, pat.gan.d.o to squat, to sit tailorwise (Santali) man.t.i kneeling on one knee as an archer
(Ta.); man.tuka to be seated on the heels (Ma.); man.d.i what is bent, the knee (Ka.); knee (Tu.);
kneeling on one knee (Te.); men.d.a_, mind.a knee (Go.); med.a, men.d.a id. (Kond.a); mend.a id.
(Pe.KuiKuwi); mand.u_ki part of elephant’s hind leg; met. knee-joint (M.)(DEDR 4677). man.d.i =
kneeling position (Te.lex.) mandil, mandir = temple (Santali) ma_d.a = shrine of a demon (Tu.);
ma_d.ia = house (Pkt.); ma_l.a a sort of pavilion (Pali); ma_l.ikai = temple (Ta.)(DEDR 4796).

Glyph: platform: man.d.hwa, man.d.ua, man.d.wa ‘a temporary shed or booth erected on the
occasion of a marriage’; man.d.om ‘a raised platform or scaffold’; ma~r.om ‘a platform, used to
keep straw on, or from which to watch crops’ (Santali) man.ai low wooden seat, low earthen dais,
wooden base of cutting instyruments, footstool (Ta.); man.i, man.e stool, low bench, seat (Ka.);
man.e low stool to sit upon (Tu.)(DEDR 4675).

Duplicated and paired glyphs

A characteristic feature of use of glyphs to compose epigraphs is the

duplication of glyphs or pairing of the same glyph. Some examples are:

Duplicated and paired one-horned heifer

Duplicated and paired shor-horned bull
Duplicated and paired antelope looking back
Duplicated and paired scorpions
Duplicated and paired fishes
Duplicated and paired bangles (or millstone)

m0296 Two heads of one-horned bulls with neck-rings, joined end to end (to a standard device with
two rings coming out of the top part?), under a stylized tree with nine leaves. 1387

kamat.ha ‘ficus religiosa’; rebus: kampat.amu ‘furnace’.

Substantive: lo ‘iron’ (Assamese, Bengali); loa ‘iron’ (Gypsy) Glyph: lo = nine (Santali); no = nine
(B.) [Note the count of nine ‘ficus’ leaves depicted on the epigraph.]

damad.i, dammad.i = a ka_su, the fourth part of a dud.d.u or paisa (Ka.M.); damad.i_ (H.) damr.i,
dambr.i = one eighth of a pice (Santali) dammid.i = pice (Te.)

Grapheme: damad.i, dammad.i = a small tambourine with gejjes (Ka.)

Grapheme: damr.a m. a steer; a heifer; damkom = a bull calf (Santali)

Rebus: damha = a fireplace; dumhe = to heap, to collect together (Santali)

m440AC Two short-horned bulls facing each other on the top register.
Rebus: aduru = native metal (Ka.)
Glyph: ad.ar = bull (Santali)

Lothal123A Lothal123B

er-r-a = an earthworm; era a bait, food (Te.lex.) [Note. The earthwork flanked by two antelopes
on a Lothal Persian Gulf seal].

Rebus: ere ‘a dark-red or dark brown colour, copper’ (Ka.); eruvai copper (Ta.)(DEDR 817).
mlekh = antelope; melukka = copper. What is depicted is Meluhha copper.
Rahman-dheri01A and B Rhd1: Two scorpions flanking a
‘frog?’ [?kamat.ha] and a sign T with two holes on the top,
possibly to be tied on a string [Together with bica_, sand
ore, the sign, ‘T’ may connote another ore, perhaps tin].
Glyph: kaca kupi = scorpion (Kuwi)
Rebus: kanca_ = a marble (made of stone or lac)(Ka.) Stone
beads! ka_ca_ = glass (Santali) kan~cu = bronze (Te.)

stu_pa with
a glyph of
two fishes
symbol seems to have evolved from a stylized glyph showing ‘two fishes’. In
the sa_n~ci stu_pa, the fish-tails of two fishes are combined to flank the
‘sri_vatsa’ glyph. In a Jaina a_ya_gapat.a, a fish is ligatured within the
s’ri_vatsa glyph, emphasizing the association of the ‘fish’ glyph with
s’ri_vatsa glyph.

bed.a = either of the sides of a hearth; be = two (G.) be_d.a = one-eighth part; two-anna piece
(Te.) Glyph: bed.a hako = fish (Santali) hako = axe (Santali) be_d.isa = a sort of carp, the
silver-fish, cyprinus chrysoparius (Te.)

Grapheme: be_d.i = a chain, a fetter (Ka.Te.)

Glyph: cur.i a bracelet, a bangle (Santali)

Glyph: millstone: san:ghat.i = a millstone, that crushes (Ka.)
Grapheme: cur.a a pinnacle, spire, crest (Santali) cu_d.a_ = topknot on head; cu_lika_
cockscomb (Skt.)
Rebus: cu_l.ai, ‘kiln’ (Ta.) culli = a fireplace (Ka.)

The pairing can be explained by a lexeme: san:gad.a = two; san:gad.am double-canoe (Ta.);
jan:gala (Tu.); san:gala pair; han:gula, an:gula double canoe, raft (Si.)(CDIAL 12859).

Rebus: san:gha_d.o, saghad.i_ (G.) = firepan; saghad.i_, s'aghad.i = a pot for holding fire
(G.)[cula_ sagad.i_ portable hearth (G.)]

Thus, the pairing or duplicating a glyph is a way of connoting a saghad.i_ ‘a portable hearth’ (G.)

Each of the paired glyphs can be explained as a hearth, saghad.i for (1) copper; (2) native metal; (3)
tin alloy; (4) axe; and (5) bangle:

Rebus: damr.i = copper; tamb(r)a = copper (Skt.); tamba = copper (Santali) Glyph: one-
horned bull damr.a ‘steer, heifer’
Rebus: aduru = native metal (Ka.) Glyph: ad.ar = bull (Santali)
Rebus: t.agromi = tin metal alloy (Kuwi) Glyph: tagara = antelope, ram (Skt.) [Looking back:
krammarincu (Te.) Rebus: kamar = blacksmith (Santali)]
Rebus: kanca, kancu = bell metal (Ka.); kan~ca = id. (Ta.); kamsa = id. (Ka.) kanca_ = a
marble (made of stone or lac)(Ka.) Glyph: kaca kupi = scorpion (Kuwi) kaccu = biting, a
bite (Ka.)
Rebus hako = axe (Santali); bed.a = hearth (G.) Glyph: bed.a hako = fish (Santali)
Rebus culli = furnace, kiln (Ka.) Glyph: cur.i = bangle (Santali)

Recurrent pairs of signs and paired lexemes

These high frequency pairs of glyphs can be explained by many indic lexemes using the rebus
method to identify each glyph and corresponding substantive message sought to be conveyed on

Sign342 (1395)
kanka = rim of pot (Santali) Rebus: kan:ka = a metal (Pali); kan- = copper (Ta.) kanaka = gold;
kanaka_dhyaks.a = superintendent of gold, treasurer (Skt.) kan-n-a_r, blacksmiths, coppersmiths (Ta.)

kan.d.a = a pot of certain shape and size (Santali) Rebus: kan.d. = altar, furnace (Santali) khan.d.a
= instrument, implement, weapon; khan.d.a puruskedae, he stretched his arm grasping the sword as
high as he could; khan.d.a bhan.d.a = implements of all kinds, arms of all sorts (Santali.lex.)
khan.d.a puruskedae, he stretched his arm grasping the sword as high as he could (Santali.lex.)

Sign 17 (91) The glyph is a ligature of a ‘guard’ + ficus glomerata: ban:ku + loa (Te.Santali)
Rebus: ban:gala = goldsmith’s portable furnace (Te.) + loh ‘iron, metal’ (Santali)
kambiga = a mace bearer, a doorkeeper (Ka.) Rebus: kambi = wire (Ka.Ta.Te.Ma.Tu.); kammi id.
(Te.); kambi = an iron band; a bar of iron, a rail; a bar (Ka.); kambi = a club, a mace (Ka.); kambu
id. (Ma.)
Rebus: kambu = s’ambu = a conch, a shell; a bracelet (Ka.)

Sign 18 (27) Copper tablets (15)

(25) Sign 25 (53) Copper tablets (12)

Pairing glyph: nine divisions; lo ‘nine’ (Santali) rebus: loh ‘iron, metal’ (Skt.); khan.d.a ‘division’
(Skt.); kan.d. = furnace, altar (Santali) lokhan.d. ‘iron, ironware, tools’ (G.) lo + khan.d. = rebus: loh
‘iron’ + kan.d. ‘furnace, altar’ (Santali)

Glyph: t.ha_t.hum = a frame-work, the body; t.ha_t.ha = state, dignity, pomp (G.) Hem. Des.
t.ha_n.a = Skt. ma_nah pride, fr. Skt. stha_nam manner of standing, fr. stha_ ‘to stand’ (G.)

Rebus: t.hat.era = a brazier, a caste who manufacture and sell brass ware; t.hat.ori = a worker in
brass, a goldsmith (Santali)

(14)Sign 1 (134)

t.ha_t.hum = a frame-work, the body; t.ha_t.ha = state, dignity, pomp (G.) Hem. Des.
t.ha_n.a = Skt. ma_nah pride, fr. Skt. stha_nam manner of standing, fr. stha_ ‘to stand’
t.a_t.um = a bamboo-frame which serves as a seat (G.) t.hat.ra = a kind of bamboo mat

Rebus: t.hat.era = a brazier, a caste who manufacture and sell brass ware; t.hat.ori = a
worker in brass, a goldsmith (Santali)

t.ha_n:kum = a skelton (G.) ten:goc = to stand upright (Santali) ten:go, ‘to stand’; ten:go, ‘to
assume responsibility (Santali) te_jate_ = is sharp, sharpens (RV); te_jati = is sharp, shapens, incites
(Pali); te_ai sharpens (Pkt.); tevn.e~ = to shine, burn (M.)(CDIAL 5945). Te_jas = sharp edge of a
knife, glow (RV); fiery energy (AV); te_h = fire, arrogance (K.)(CDIAL 5946) tega = a sword;
tega_ = a scimitar (G.Persian) tega_r = property, substance (G.Persian)

t.a_n:kan.um = a chisel (G.); t.an:ka_ = an instrument for digging, khanitram

(Hem.Des. G.)

(93) Sign 8 (105)

A variant of Sign 8 is a horned, standing person ligatured to the buttocks of a bull.
d.hagara_m = pl. the buttocks, hip (G.) Rebus: d.han:gar =

ban:ku = guard (Te.) Rebus: ban:gala = kumpat.i, an:ga_ra

s’akat.a ‘chafing dish, portable stove, goldsmith’s portable
furnace’ (Te.)

Sign 12 (80) kut.i ‘water carrier’; rebus: kut.hi ‘furnace’

Graphemes, i.e. glyphs which could be rebus for kol ‘metal’:

kol.i_ = water carrier (M.) xola_ = tail (Kur.); qoli = id.
(Malt.)(DEDR 2135). kolli = a fish (Ma.); koleji id.
(Tu.)(DEDR 2139). ko_la_ flying fish, exocaetus, garfish,
belone (Ta.) ko_la_n, ko_li needle-fish (Ma.)(DEDR 2241).
ko_li = a stubble of jo_l.a (Ka.) ko_le a stub or stumpof corn
(Te.)(DEDR 2242). Ko_l.i = banyan, fig (Ta.Ma.); go_l.i fig
(Ka.); banyan (Tu.)(DEDR 2254). ko_l raft, float (Ta.Ka.); kola
boat, raft (Skt.BHSkt.); kulla (Palli)(DEDR 2238) ko_la
decoration (Ka.); ko_lam = form (Ta.Ma.)(DEDR 2240).

Rebus: kol = metal (Ta.)

(26) Sign 15 (126)

Sign 15: Ligature: kut.i ‘water-carrier’ + kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kut.hi ‘furnace’ + kan-
Pairing glyph: kan:kata = comb (Te.) Rebus: kan:gar = portable furnace (K.)

1.Finely burnished gold fillet (headband) with holes at both ends to hold a cord. Each
end is decorated with a punctuated design of standard device. 42 x 1.4 cm. Mohenjodaro
Museum, MM 1366; Marshall 1931: 220.527. Pl. CXVIII, 14 (for punctuated design)
2. Detail of gold fillet with punctuated design of standard device at both ends of the gold
fillet. (After Fig. 7.32, Kenoyer, 1998)The standard device is a ligature of a lathe and a portable
furnace. It is san:gad.a

Standard device. Centre: carved in ivory (HR

93-2092) flanked by device depicted on
faience tablets (HR 90-1687, H93-2051),

Processional scene from a terracotta tablet.

After Marshall 1931, Pl. CXVIII,9

(10) Sign 28


Ligature on sign 28: dhanus ‘bow’ (Skt.) dhan.i_ = the owner, the possessor (G.)

Glyph: kama_t.hiyo = archer; ka_mat.hum = a bow; ka_mad.i_, ka_mad.um = a chip of bamboo

(G.) ka_mat.hiyo a bowman; an archer (Skt.lex.)
Rebus: kamat.ha_yo ‘a learned carpenter or mason, working on scientific principles’ (Santali)
kammat.a = mint, gold furnace (Te.)

Pairing sign: t.agara = taberna mntana (Skt.) t.agromi = tin metal alloy (Kuwi)

(114) Sign 48 (168) Copper tablets (13) h172B Field Symbol

36 (10)

Sign 48: barad.o = spine, the backbone, back (G.)

Rebus: bharatiyo = a caster of metals, a brazier; bharatar, bharatal, bharatal. = moulded; an

article made in a mould (G.)

Glyph: t.hat.ra = m. emaciated (Santali)

Rebus: t.hat.era = a brazier, a caste who manufacture and sell brass ware; t.hat.ori = a
worker in brass, a goldsmith (Santali)

(16) (40) Sign 53 (130)

era_ = claws of an animal that can do no harm (G.) era, eraka = copper (Ka.)
Substantive: dha_tu ‘mineral’ (Vedic); a mineral, metal (Santali); dha_ta id. (G.) tan.t.ava_l.am =
cast iron, iron rail, girder (Ta.); tan.d.ava_l.a cast iron (Ka.)(DEDR 3050).
d.ato ‘claws or pincers (chelae) of crabs’; d.at.om to seize with the claws or pincers, as crabs,
scorpions (Santali)

Pairing sign: a~s = scale of fish (Santali) Rebus: ayas = metal (Skt.)

The three signs together: Middle sign: kan.d. kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. ‘furnace’ + kanka
‘copper metal’ Flanking this sign are d.ato ‘claws’; rebus: dhatu ‘mineral’; a~s ‘scales of fish’;
rebus: ayas ‘metal’. Thus furnace for metal and mineral.

(10) Sign 155 (49)

(55) (44) Sign 59 (381) Copper tablets (14) h172B Field

Symbol 36 (17)

Sign 59 : bed.a hako = a fish (Santali)

Rebus: bed.a = hearth; hako = axe (Santali)

Sign 155: kan.d.a, ka_n.d.a, ka_d.e = an arrow (Ka.) ka_n.d., ka_n., ko_n., ko~_,
ka~_r. arrow (Pas'.); ka~_d.i_ arrow (G.)
Rebus: kan.d. = altar, furnace (Santali)

Glyph: kan. = arrow, wooden handle of a hoe, pickaxe or other tool (Ta.)(DEDR 1166).
Rebus: kan- = copper (Ta.)

s'ili_ dart, arrow (Skt.)

s’ila = rocks (Skt.)

(44) (24)

(18) (20) Sign 65 (216) Copper tablets (16)

Sign 65 is a ligatured glyph: bed.a hako = a fish. Rebus: bed.a = hearth (G.) ligatured with a ‘lid’
glyph. d.aren-mund.i lid of pot; d.aren, ad.aren to cover up pot with lid (Bond.a); d.arai to cover
(Bond.a.Hindi) Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.), i.e. hearth for native metal.

Pairing sign Liquid measure: ran:ku; rebus: ran:ku = tin (Santali)

Pairing sign savat.u, savut.u, saut.u, so_t.u = ladle, spoon (Ka.) Rebus: caval.ai =
lead, silver (Ta.)

(28) (26)

(32) (21) Sign 67 (279) Copper tablets (8)

Sign 67: a~s ‘scales of fish’; rebus: ayas ‘metal’ (RV) bed.a hako = a fish; rebus: bed.a =
hearth. Thus, a~s bed.a = metal hearth.

(10) Sign 70 (73) Copper tablets (5)

A spot or mark is ligatured to ‘fish’ glyph: dag = to mark, stain, brand, cauterize; a
blemish, a spot, stigma, mark (Santali)
Rebus: dagad.a, dagad.o = a large stone; a large lump of earth (G.)
bed.a hako = a fish; rebus: bed.a = hearth. Thus, Sign 70 denotes a hearth for stone or lump
of earth.

(10) (24)

(21) Sign 72 (188) Copper tablets (20)

Glyph is a slanting stroke ligatured to ‘fish’ glyph: d.ha_l.iyum = adj. sloping, incliding;
d.ha_l. = a slope; the inclination of a plane (G.)
Rebus: : d.ha_l.ako = a large metal ingot; d.ha_l.aki_ = a metal heated and poured into a
mould; a solid piece of metal; an ingot (G.)

bed.a hako = a fish; rebus: bed.a = hearth. Thus, Sign 72 denotes a hearth for metal ingot.

(12) (10) Sign 86 (149)

Glyph: a long linear stroke; kod.a = in arithmetic, one (Santali) Rebus: kod.a, kor.a = shell

Together with pairing sign Sign 99 : at.ar a splinter; at.aruka to burst, crack, slit off, fly open;
at.arcca splitting, a crack; at.arttuka to split, tear off, open (an oyster)(Ma.); ad.aruni to crack
(Tu.)(DEDR 66) the epigraph of Signs 86 and 99 may be read as: shell, native metal (kod.a aduru).

is a ligature of kan.d.a kanka ‘rim of pot’ + kut.i ‘water carrier’. Rebus: kan.d.a kanka ‘altar for
copper’ + kut.hi ‘metal furnace’.

(9) Sign 127 (50)

(58) Sign 51 (105)

(39) Sign 130 (63) h172B Field Symbol 36 (10)

Sign 51 kaca kupi ‘scorpion’ (Santali) Rebus: kan~cu = bronze (Te.)

Pairing sign Sign 127 Sign 130 : t.un.d.a = to prod, to poke at as with a stick (Santali)
du~_t.u = butt, push (Te.)(DEDR 3380. to_r.o~_ = a pole with an iron hook or branch curved at one
extremity (Kur.)

Rebus: tun.d.u – fragment, piece (Ka.); tun.d.u piece, slice (Te.)(DEDR 3310).

(44) Sign 150 (63)

Sign 149: glyph: kod.a, kor.a = in arithmetic one;

kod.a, kor.a = a shell, a mite (Santali)

Rebus: kod., ‘artisan’s workshop’

Sign 150 glyph: tat.am = road, path, route, gate, footstep (Ta.); dad.d.a road (Ir.); dar.v path, way
(Ko)(DEDR 3024).

tot.xin, tot.xn goldsmith (To.); tat.t.a_n- gold or silver smith (Ta.); goldsmith (Ma.); tat.t.e =
goldsmith (Kod.); tat.rava_~d.u = goldsmith or silversmith (Te.); *t.hat.t.haka_ra brassworker
(Skt.)(CDIAL 5493).

tat.t.ai = mechanism made of split bamboo for scaring away parrots from grain fields
(Ta.); tat.t.e = a thick bamboo or an areca-palm stem, split in two (Ka.)(DEDR 3042).

Pairing sign, Sign 99 : at.ar a splinter; at.aruka to burst, crack, slit off, fly open;
at.arcca splitting, a crack; at.arttuka to split, tear off, open (an oyster)(Ma.); ad.aruni to
crack (Tu.)(DEDR 66).

Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.)

(11) (11)

(30) Sign 123 (193)

Pairing glyphs: a~s ‘scales of fish’; rebus: ayas ‘metal’ (RV)
Ligature on fish: ‘lid’ : d.aren-mund.i lid of pot; d.aren, ad.aren to cover up pot with lid (Bond.a);
d.arai to cover (Bond.a.Hindi) cf. at.al = a kind of fish (Ta.); at.ava = a marine fish (Ma.); ad.ami_nu
= a fish; ad.a_vu id. (Tu.)(DEDR 68). Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ + bed.a hako = fish; rebus:
bed.a ‘hearth’ + hako ‘axe’. Cf. ha_t.aka = gold; ha_t.aka-giri = Meru mountain; ha_t.akes’vara =
name of lin:ga in pa_ta_laloka (Ka.)

Pairing sign: kan.d.a kanka ‘rim of pot’. Rebus: kan.d. kanka ‘furnace for copper, kan-‘

(17) (16)

(16) (40)

(65) (43)

(24) (17)

(29) (19) Sign 99 (649)

The ligature is made up of two glyphs: ( ) together with tagara = taberna montana (Skt.)
Rebus: t.agromi = tin metal alloy (Kuwi) kut.ila = bent, crooked (Skt.) kut.ila (Skt. Rasaratna
samuccaya, 5.205) Humpbacked kud.illa (Pkt.)
Rebus: kut.ila, katthi_l = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) [cf. a_ra-ku_t.a, ‘brass’ (Skt.)]

Sign 99 : at.ar a splinter; at.aruka to burst, crack, slit off, fly open; at.arcca splitting, a crack;
at.arttuka to split, tear off, open (an oyster)(Ma.); ad.aruni to crack (Tu.)(DEDR 66).

Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.)

era_ = claws of an animal that can do no harm (G.) era, eraka = copper (Ka.)
Substantive: dha_tu ‘mineral’ (Vedic); a mineral, metal (Santali); dha_ta id. (G.) tan.t.ava_l.am =
cast iron, iron rail, girder (Ta.); tan.d.ava_l.a cast iron (Ka.)(DEDR 3050).
d.ato ‘claws or pincers (chelae) of crabs’; d.at.om to seize with the claws or pincers, as crabs,
scorpions (Santali)

Sign 48 : barad.o = spine, the backbone, back (G.)

Rebus: bharatiyo = a caster of metals, a brazier; bharatar, bharatal, bharatal. = moulded; an
article made in a mould (G.)

Glyph: t.hat.ra = m. emaciated (Santali)

Rebus: t.hat.era = a brazier, a caste who manufacture and sell brass ware; t.hat.ori = a
worker in brass, a goldsmith (Santali)

Sign 98 (88) Is this a variant of Sign 97 ?

(67) (78)

(42) Sign 87 (365) Copper tablets (21)

bar, barea ‘two’ (Santali); rebus: ba~r.ia~ = shopkeeper, pedlar (Santali)

mer.go = rimless vessels (Santali)

Rebus: med. iron, iron implements (Ho.) me~rhe~t ‘iron’; me~rhe~t icena ‘the iron is
rusty’; ispat me~rhe~t ‘steel’, dul me~rhe~t ‘cast iron’; me~rhe~t khan.d.a ‘iron
implements’ (Santali) (Santali.lex.Bodding)

Alternative: luiha = an iron vessel or pot used for cooking and other purposes
(Santali) Rebus: luhui = iron-stone sand; iron obtained by washing the sand of
river beds and nallahs (Santali)

bed.a hako = a fish (Santali) Rebus: bed.a ‘hearth’ (G.) hako ‘axe’ (Santali)

Pairing sign : kan.d.a kanka ‘rim of pot’. Rebus: kan.d. kanka ‘furnace for copper,

(10) Sign 328 (323)

(44) (124) Sign 89 (314)

Copper tablets (29)

Sign 89 tebr.a = three (Santali)

ta_mbum = copper (G.); ta_mra (Skt.); ta_mba_ na_n.um = copper coin; ta_mba_ va_d.ako
= a porringer made of copper; ta_mba_ kun.d.i_ a copper trough in which water for bathing
is kept; ta_mbad.i_ = a copper pot (G.)

mer.go = rimless vessels (Santali)

Rebus: med. iron, iron implements (Ho.) me~rhe~t ‘iron’; me~rhe~t icena ‘the iron is
rusty’; ispat me~rhe~t ‘steel’, dul me~rhe~t ‘cast iron’; me~rhe~t khan.d.a ‘iron
implements’ (Santali) (Santali.lex.Bodding)

Alternative: luiha = an iron vessel or pot used for cooking and other purposes
Rebus: luhui = iron-stone sand; iron obtained by washing the sand of river beds
and nallahs (Santali)

(58) Sign 95 (64)

(21) (24) Sign 104 (70)

pon, ponea, ponon = four (Santali)
Rebus: pon, hon = a gold coin, the half of a varaha (Ka.); honnu = gold (Ka.); ponnu (Te.);
pon-, por- = metal, gold, luster, beauty (Ta.); pol = gold (Ma.)

Pairing signs could be graphemes or variants of the same glyph, i.e., glyphs connoting the
same lexeme. tagara = taberna montana (Skt.)

Rebus: t.agromi = tin metal alloy (Kuwi)

(27) Sign 194 (58)

(14) Sign 197 (60)

(27) (11) Sign 112 (70) Copper tablets (10)

Sign 112 is composed of four and three: pon, ponea, ponon = four (Santali)

Rebus: pon- = metal (Ta.)

tebr.a = three (Santali)

ta_mbum = copper (G.); ta_mra (Skt.); ta_mba_ na_n.um = copper coin; ta_mba_ va_d.ako
= a porringer made of copper; ta_mba_ kun.d.i_ a copper trough in which water for bathing
is kept; ta_mbad.i_ = a copper pot (G.)

Pairing signs: kan.d.a kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. kan- = copper furnace.

gat.a = a small stream or water course (Santali) gat.t.u = a shore, a bank; a dam,
embankment, dike (Te.) kat.t.a_ platform (Kol.); kat.t.a bund of field, dam, dike
(Nk.)(DEDR 1147).

Rebus: Ingot: gat.t.i ban:ga_ru = gold in ingots or bars (Te.) kat.t.i = clod, lump (Ta.);
solid, ingot (Ma.); kat.y solid lump (Ko.); gad.d.a = lump, mass, clod (Te.)(DEDR 1148).
kad.rna_ to congteal (Kur.); kat.hina hard, firm (Skt.)(CDIAL 2650). kat.hara, kat.hura,
kat.hora hard (CDIAL 2651) kad.d. to be hard, severe (DhP.)(CDIAL 2657). gat.i = nodular
limestone; gat.i cun = lime made from nodular limestone (Santali)

Thus pairing with Sign 112, the pair of signs can be read as: gold (pon) or metal (tebr,a) ingot

(14) Sign 121 (70)

Glyph: twelve fingers' measure = s'an:ku (IL 2878), co~ga_ = two hand-breadths (IL 3121)

Rebus: s’ankha = turbinella pyrum, conch shell (Skt.)

Pairing sign : kan.d.a kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. kan- ‘copper furnace’ (Santali.Ta.)

Continuing tradition of s’ankha industry from 8500 years Before Present

Turbinella pyrum: s’ankha kr.s’ana (conch-pearl) Burial From Gulf of Kutch and Saurashtra:
ornaments made of shell and stone disc beads, and Spiney murex, chicoreus ramosus (a),
turbinella pyrum (sacred conch, s’an:kha) bangle, knobbed whelk, fasciolaria trapezium
Tomb MR3T.21, Mehrgarh, Period 1A, ca. 6500 BCE. (b), and sawn fragments of the sacred
The nearest source for this shell is Makran coast near conch (s’an:kha), turbinella pyrum
Karachi, 500 km. South. [After Fig. 2.10 in Kenoyer, [After Fig. 5.21 in Kenoyer, 1998].
Parvati, wore conch shell bangles – s’an:khaka -- created by Sage Agastya Muni and Divine
architect Vis’vakarma. S’an:kha is a Kubera’s treasure – one of the nine or nava-nidhi-s.

Turbinella Pyrum is a species which is native to the coastline of Bharat. The tradition continues
even today in Gulf of Khambat (near Surat) and in Gulf of Mannar (near Tiruchendur). West Bengal
Handicrafts Development Corporation has an office in Tiruchendur to acquire s’ankha to make them
into bangles. The annual turn-over of s’ankha products in Tiruchendur is Rs. 25 crores. Every
Bengali marriage has to provide for s’ankha bangles to the bride.

The importance of s’ankha in the mature periods of Sarasvati civilization may be seen from the
following archaeological artifacts:

Mohenjodaro: libation vessel made from Turbinella pyrum conch shell trumpet. Hole at
turbinella pyrum. Spiralling lines were incised apex is roughly chipped. Used to call people for
and filled with red pigment. The vessel is used battle or ritually throughout South and Southeast
to anoint kings and to dispense sacred water or Asia. Essential component of Hindu and
milk. Used even today for ritual oblations and to Buddhist traditions, one of 8 auspicious
dispense medicinal preparations.[After Fig. 6.38 symbols . 9.66 X 5.1 cm. Harappa; Lahore
in Kenoyer, 1998; J. M. Kenoyer, 1983, Shell Museum, P501
working industries of the Indus Civilization: an
archaeological and ethnographic perspective,
PhD diss., UCAL, Berkeley]. 11.4 X 5.4 cm

6.38 in Kenoyer, 1998; 5.1
J. M. Kenoyer, 1983, cm.
Shell working industries Harap
of the Indus pa;
Civilization: an Lahore
archaeological and Museu
ethnographic m,
perspective, PhD diss., P501
UCAL, Berkeley]. 11.4
X 5.4 cm

Wide bangle Seven shell bangles from

made from a burial of an elderly woman,
single conch Harappa; worn on the left
shell and carved arm; three on the upper arm
with a chevron and four on the forearm; 6.3
motif, Harappa; X 5.7 cm to 8x9 cm marine
marine shell, shell, Turbinella pyrum (After
Turbinella Fig. 7.43, Kenoyer, 1998)
pyrum (After Harappa museum. H87-635 to
Fig. 7.44, 637; 676 to 679.
Kenoyer, 1998) National Museum, Karachi.
54.3554. HM 13828.

A skilled sawyer and shells ready for sawing, Calcutta.

Turbinella pyrum shell bangle manufacturing process. [a

to f]: preliminary chipping and removal of internal columella; [g to
k]: sawing shell circlets; [l to n]: finishing the shell blank; [o]: final
incising [After Fig. 5.23 in Kenoyer, 1998].
yai->? k«/zanu/m! As?ne Êv/Sywae? j/ve

yai-/rœ yUnae/ AvR?Nt/m! Aav?tm!,

mxu? ià/ym! -?rwae/ yt! s/rfœ_y/s! tai-?rœ ^/ ;u

^/iti-?rœ Aiñ/na g?tm! .RV 1.112.21

With those aids by which you defended
Kr.s'a_nu in battle, with which you
succoured the horse of the young
Purukutsa in speed, and by which you
deliver the pleasant honey to the bees; with
them, As'vins, come willingly hither.
[Kr.s'a_nu are somapa_las, vendors or
providers of Soma; hasta- suhasta-
kr.s'a_navah, te vah
somakrayan.ah (Taittiri_ya Sam.hita_1.2.7); kr.s'a_nu = agni; purukutsa
was the son of Mandha_ta_ and husband of Narmada_, the river; the text
has only 'of the young', Purukutsa.is added]. S’an:khah kr.s’anah = pearl-shell won from the ocean and
worn as an amulet (AV 4.10.1). S’ankhah kr.s’a_na mentioned in the R.gveda is a shell-cutting bowman
Sandstone sculpture of S’iva Bhairava, holding a conch in his left hand, 11th cent. S’ivapuram,
South Arcot Dist., Bha_rata (Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History, MS Univ., Vadodara).

Tradition of sindhur adornmentSindhur worn in the parting of the hair. Nausharo: female
figurine. Period 1B, 2800 – 2600
BCE. 11.6 x 30.9 cm.[After Fig.
2.19, Kenoyer, 1998].Hair is
painted black and 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 (sindur) in the part of her
hair. Choker and pendant necklace are also painted with red pigment, posssibly to represent carnelian

Sindur on the parting of the hair in unique Bharatiya tradition, circa 4800 years Before
Present The hair is painted black and parted in the middle of the forehead, with traces of
redpigment in the parting. 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 (sindur) in the parting of her
hair. The choker and pendant necklace are also painted with red pigmen, possibly representing carnelian
beads. Other figurines of similar design have yellow pigment on the disc-shaped ornamens at the
shoulde, possibly representing gold or polished bronze brooches. The eyes are puctated and the
ornaments and hair are all appliqué. This figurine comes from Nausharo, Period IB, but is identical to
many figurines from Mehergarh Period VII, datin between 2800 and 2600 BCE. Material: terracotta; 11.6
cm. high, 30.9 cm. wide. Nausharo NS Dept. of Arch., Karachi. Jarrige 1988: 87, fig. 41
(After fig. 2.19, Kenoyer, 2000).

The inset shows a lady from Bengal wearing sindhur on the parting of her hair; the tradition lives on.

(12) S

(30) (16)

(13) Sign 124 (78) Copper tablets (17)

(44) Sign 149 (92) h172B Field Symbol 36


(40) Sign 162 (212) h352C Dotted circles.

Field symbol 83 (10)

(48) Sign 169 (240) Copper tablets (60) Hare. Field symbol 16 (19)

Glyph: field symbol: kulai = hare (Santali)

Rebus: kol = metal (Ta.); kola = blacksmith (Ma.); kol, kollan- (Ta.); kolime, kulime, kolume = a
fire-pit or furnace (Ka.); kolime id., a pit (Te.); kulume kanda_ya = a tax on blacksmiths (Ka.)
kolimi titti = bellows used for a furnace (Te.)

Graphemes: kolike, kun.ike, kulike, kol.ike = a clasp, a hook (Ka.Te.); kol.uvu = to connect, join, tie
together, hook (Ta.)

Grapheme: tamar = hole in a plank, commonly bored or cut; gimlet, spring awl, boring
instrument; tavar = to bore, a hole; hole in a board (Ta.); tamar = hole made by a gimlet; a borer,
gimlet, drill (Ma.); tamire, tagire = the pin in the middle of a yoke (Te.); tamiru = gimlet
(Tu.)(DEDR 3078).

tavaru, tavara, trapu, tavarinadu, tagara, tamara = tin, tra_pus.a (Ka.); tavaramu, tamaramu (Te.);
tamara = tagara = tin, lead; trapu = id. (Ka.) trapulamu, trapuvu = tin; lead (Te.)

Graphemes: ko_li = a stubble of jo_l.a (Ka.); ko_le a stub or stump of corn (Te.) cf.
tagara = taberna montana (Skt.) Rebus: tagromi tin metal alloy (Kuwi) Sign 169 thus connotes a
specific metal (kol): tin; lexemes: t.agromi + ko_li; glyphs: stubble, taberna montana: tagara ko_li

Grapheme: ko_lemu = the backbone (Te.)

Pairing sign : kan.d.a kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. kan- ‘copper furnace’ (Santali.Ta.)

(40) (76) Sign 171 (132)

(7) Sign 173 (38)

Glyph: ad.ar ‘harrow’ (Santali); Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’(Ka.)

(30) Sign 182 (43) h172B Field Symbol

36 (11)

Sign 183 (11) Copper tablets (10) Hare. Field symbol 16 (9)

(12) (31)Sign 204 (76) Copper tablets (22) Field Symbol 14 (19)

(11) Sign 211 (227) m1148 Field Symbol 7


(23) (29) Sign 216 (90) Ivory or bone rod (3)

(34) Sign 244 (89)

(70) (21) Sign 245 (207) Copper tablets (48) Field Symbol

14 (20) Field Symbol 29 (10)

(54) (47) Sign 249 (170)

Sign 258 (20) h172B Field Symbol 36 (8)

Sign 254 (73)

(291) (32) Sign 267 (376)

(9) Sign 284 (41)

(37) Sign 287 (88)

Copper tablets (15) Field Symbol 52 (6)

Glyph: kama_t.hiyo = archer; ka_mat.hum = a bow; ka_mad.i_, ka_mad.um = a chip of
bamboo (G.) ka_mat.hiyo a bowman; an archer (Skt.lex.)
Rebus: kamat.ha_yo ‘a learned carpenter or mason, working on scientific principles’

Sign 287: kut.ila = bent, crooked (Skt.) kut.ila (Skt. Rasaratna samuccaya,
5.205) Humpbacked kud.illa (Pkt.)
Rebus: kut.ila, katthi_l = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) [cf. a_ra-ku_t.a, ‘brass’

(54) Sign 293 (136) h172B Field Symbol 36 (12)

Hare. Field symbol 16 (10)
(28) Sign 294 (53)

(32) Sign 296 (35)

(8) Sign 307 (69)

Glyph: ka_mat.hum = a bow; ka_mad.i_, ka_mad.um = a chip of bamboo (G.)
Rebus: kammat.amu = gold furnace (Te.)

(18) Sign 326 (35) Copper tablets (6)

(16) Sign 327 (42)

loa = ficus glomerata (Santali) Rebus: loha = iron, metal (Santali)
kamar.kom = fig leaf (Santali.lex.) kamarmar.a_ (Has.), kamar.kom (Nag.); the petiole
or stalk of a leaf (Mundari.lex.)
kamat.amu, kammat.amu = a portable furnace for melting precious metals; kammat.i_d.u
= a goldsmith, a silversmith (Te.lex.) Substantive: kamat.ha_yo ‘a learned carpenter or
mason, working on scientific principles’ (Santali)

Pairing sign: kan.d. kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. ‘furnace’ + kan-ka ‘copper metal’

(126) (12)

(13) Sign 336 (236) Copper tablets (27) m1148 Field Symbol 7

(16) Sign 341 (59)

(87) (17)

(184) Sign 342 (1395) Copper tablets (82) h172B

Field Symbol 36 (38) h352C Field symbol 83 (33)

(12) Sign 343 (177)

Sign 345 (51)

(110) Sign 347 (118) Ivory or bone rods (5)

(31) Sign 358 (32) Copper tablets (20) Field Symbol 14


(17) Sign 373 (61) Copper tablets (14)

(10) Sign 375 (57)

(12) (16) Sign 387 (102)

(28) (15) (15)

(15) (11) Sign 389 (134) Copper tablets (25)


Sign 402 (99)

ko_d.i = a kind of flag, an image of garud.a, basava, or other demi-god set upon a
long post before a temple; cf. gud.i, temple (Ka.lex.)
Rebus: kod. = place where artisans work (G.lex.)

(34) (21)

Sign 403 (93)

(10) (17) (26)

Sign 407 (48)

Copper tablets (34)

Glyph: cur.i a bracelet, a bangle (Santali)

Grapheme: cur.a a pinnacle, spire, crest (Santali) cu_d.a_ = topknot on head; cu_lika_
cockscomb (Skt.)
Rebus: cu_l.ai, ‘kiln’ (Ta.) culli = a fireplace (Ka.)

Glyph: san:gad.a = two; san:gad.am double-canoe (Ta.); jan:gala (Tu.); san:gala

pair; han:gula, an:gula double canoe, raft (Si.)(CDIAL 12859).
Glyph: san:ghat.i = a millstone, that crushes (Ka.)
Rebus: san:gha_d.o, saghad.i_ (G.) = firepan; saghad.i_, s'aghad.i = a pot for holding fire
(G.)[cula_ sagad.i_ portable hearth (G.)]


Sign 409 (26)

Rebus: mo~r.e~ = five (Santali)

Grapheme: mon.d. the tail of a serpent (Santali)

Sign 409: glyph: cart: gad.i ‘cart’ (Santali)

gat.t.i = ingot, as in: gat.t.i-ban:ga_ramu = gold ingot (Te.)
Paired with the glyph denoting ‘five’, the epigraph may read: five metals (alloy)

(83) (24) Sign 391 (195)

era, er-a = eraka = ?nave; erako_lu = the iron axle of a carriage (Ka.M.); cf. irasu
Metal: akka, aka (Tadbhava of arka) metal; akka metal (Te.) arka = copper (Skt.) erka =
ekke (Tbh. of arka) aka (Tbh. of arka) copper (metal); crystal (Ka.lex.)
erako molten cast (Tu.lex.) agasa_le, agasa_li, agasa_lava_d.u = a goldsmith (Te.lex.)

Sign 99 : at.ar a splinter; at.aruka to burst, crack, slit off, fly open; at.arcca splitting, a
crack; at.arttuka to split, tear off, open (an oyster)(Ma.); ad.aruni to crack (Tu.)(DEDR 66).
Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.) aduru = gan.iyinda tegadu karagade iruva aduru =
ore taken from the mine and not subjected to melting in a furnace (Ka. Siddha_nti
Subrahman.ya’ S’astri’s new interpretation of the Amarakos’a, Bangalore, Vicaradarpana
Press, 1872, p. 330); adar = fine sand (Ta.); adaru = a sparkle (Te.); ayir – iron dust, any ore

tot.xin, tot.xn goldsmith (To.); tat.t.a_n- gold or silver smith (Ta.); goldsmith (Ma.); tat.t.e
= goldsmith (Kod.); tat.rava_~d.u = goldsmith or silversmith (Te.); *t.hat.t.haka_ra
brassworker (Skt.)(CDIAL 5493).

tat.t.ai = mechanism made of split bamboo for scaring away parrots from grain fields
(Ta.); tat.t.e = a thick bamboo or an areca-palm stem, split in two (Ka.)(DEDR 3042).

When reduplicated, this may be read as: erako ‘nave’ san:gala ‘pair’; rebus:
erako ‘molten cast’ san:gad.a ‘furnace’. As distinct from non-melted native metal, aduru.

erako ‘molten cast (copper)’; erako san:gala = furnace for metal.

This may explain the multiple use of the glyph on Dholavira signboard.

Glyph : erako ‘nave’; san:gala ‘pair’ Rebus: erako san:gad.a

= furnace for metal.

Glyphs: erako (nave); rebus: erako ‘molten cast’.

Glyph: kod.a, ‘one’; rebus: kod., ‘artisan’s workshop’. Glyph: khu~t.,

‘corner’; rebus: kun.d.amu = a pit for receiving and preserving consecrated fire; a hole in
the ground (Te.)

Glyph: ad.aren, d.aren ‘lid’; rebus: aduru ‘native metal’

Glyphs: erako (nave) + khut.i (pin) + lo kamat.ha (ficus leaf) = Rebus:
erako ‘molten cast’ + khut.i ‘furnace’ + lo kamat.ha ‘metal mint: kammat.a’ [khut.i Nag.
(Or. khut.i_) diminutive of khun.t.a, a peg driven into the ground, as for tying a goat
(Mundari.lex.) khu~t.i_ wooden pin (M.)(CDIAL 3893)]

Alternative: tamire = the pin in the middle of a yoke (Te.)

Rebus: tavara = tin (Te.Ka.)

Molded terracotta tablet showing a tree with branches; the stem emanates from a platform
(ingot?). Harappa. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and
Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

kut.i, kut.am = tree; rebus: kut.hi = furnace

(9) (10) Sign 176 (355) Ivory or bone rods (12)

‘Tree’Field symbol 44 (12) h352C Dotted circles. Field symbol 83 (23)

h172B Field Symbol 36 (17)

Glyph: comb kangha (IL 1333) ka~ghera_ comb-maker (H.)

Rebus: kan:g = brazier, fireplace (K.)(IL 1332) Portable brazier ka~_guru, ka~_gar (Ka.)
whence, large brazier = kan:gar (K.)

Pairing sign: kan.d. kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. ‘furnace’ + kan-ka ‘copper metal’

(29) Sign 178 (35) ‘Tree’ Field

symbol 44 (6)

The ligature is made up of two glyphs: ( ) together with tagara = taberna montana
(Skt.) Rebus: t.agromi = tin metal alloy (Kuwi) kut.ila = bent, crooked (Skt.) kut.ila
(Skt. Rasaratna samuccaya, 5.205) Humpbacked kud.illa (Pkt.)
Rebus: kut.ila, katthi_l = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) [cf. a_ra-ku_t.a, ‘brass’

va_holo = adze; vahola_ = mattock; bahola_ = a kind of adze (P.lex.)
Rebus: ban:gala = kumpat.i = an:ga_ra s’akat.i_ = a chafing dish, a portable stove, a
goldsmith’s portable furnace (Te.lex.) cf. ban:garu, ban:garamu = gold (Te.lex.)

(13) Sign 252 (51) Copper tablet (11); bronze

implements (2) ‘Tree’ Field symbol 44 (7)

may be a grapheme, a synonym of sign 99 : at.ar a splinter; at.aruka to burst, crack,

slit off, fly open; at.arcca splitting, a crack; at.arttuka to split, tear off, open (an
oyster)(Ma.); ad.aruni to crack (Tu.)(DEDR 66).

Rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.) aduru = gan.iyinda tegadu karagade iruva aduru =
ore taken from the mine and not subjected to melting in a furnace (Ka. Siddha_nti
Subrahman.ya’ S’astri’s new interpretation of the Amarakos’a, Bangalore, Vicaradarpana
Press, 1872, p. 330); adar = fine sand (Ta.); adaru = a sparkle (Te.); ayir – iron dust, any ore

Liquid measure: ran:ku; rebus: ran:ku = tin (Santali)

(11) (16) Sign 175 (54)

(18) Sign 180 (44)

(14) (13) Sign 230 (54)

‘Tree’ Field symbol 44 (5)

ku_t.amu = summit of a mountain (Te.lex.) Rebus: ku_t.akamu = mixture (Te.lex.)

ku_t.am = workshop (Ta.)

era_ = claws of an animal that can do no harm (G.) Rebus: era, eraka = copper (Ka.)
Substantive: dha_tu ‘mineral’ (Vedic); a mineral, metal (Santali); dha_ta id. (G.)
tan.t.ava_l.am = cast iron, iron rail, girder (Ta.); tan.d.ava_l.a cast iron (Ka.)(DEDR 3050).
d.ato ‘claws or pincers (chelae) of crabs’; d.at.om to seize with the claws or pincers, as
crabs, scorpions (Santali)

Pairing sign: kan.d. kanka ‘rim of pot’; rebus: kan.d. ‘furnace’ + kan-ka ‘copper

The Sign 230 thus connotes an alloyed metal, ku_t.a [e.g. copper + dha_tu ‘mineral (ore)’ as in:
a_raku_t.a = brass (Skt.)]

Glyphs: tiger, antelope looking back, waist-zone (pannier): smith, smithy

m0488ct 2554

Glyph: krem = the back (Kho.)(CDIAL 2776). krammar-a = to turn, return (Te.); krammar-ilu,
krammar-illu, krammar-abad.u = to turn, return, to go back; krammar-u = again; krammar-incu =
to turn or send back (Te)

kamar ‘looking back’; thus, an antelope looking backwards is: melh ‘goat’ (Br.); mr..e_ka goat
(Te.) kamar (melukka kamar ‘copper-smith’); a tiger looking backwards is: kol ’tiger’ kamar (kolhe
‘smelters of iron’ + smith)

On a terracotta image, a tiger is ligatured to a woman. In Nahali, kola means ‘woman,


On m0488 tablet, the tiger stands beneath a tree; on the branch of a tree, a spy is seated.
The word for spy is: heraka (Pkt.); rebus: eraka = copper (Ka.). The tree is kut.i; rebus:
kut.hi ‘furnace’ (Santali); the branch of a tree is ad.aren (Santali);
rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.).

Elephant trunk ‘ibha sun.d.’

Rebus: ib ‘iron’; sund ‘pit, furnace’
Seal. Elephant. Elephant is covered with a saddle cloth. (After
Scala/Art Resource)

The depiction of a saddle cloth on the elephant may also be related to

the orthographic significance of depicting a pannier on a one-horned
bull. It may connote a waist-zone, belt, kamarasa_la (Te.); rebus: kamma_rasa_le = workshop of
a blacksmith (Ka.) When an elephant is shown on epigraphs with such a saddle cloth, the depiction
may be of a kamma_ra ‘smith’ involved in ironsmithy: ib ‘iron’; rebus: ibha ‘elephant’.

The most frequently occurring glyph is that of a one-horned bull with a pannier; it occurs on 1159
epigraphs (according to Mahadevan corpus). The orthographic accent is on the waist-zone, the

Glyph: kamarasa_la = waist-zone, belt (Te.) kammaru = the loins, the waist (Ka.Te.M.); kamara
(H.); kammarubanda = a leather waist band, belt (Ka.H.) kammaru = a waistband, belt (Te.)
kammarincu = to cover (Te.) kamari = a woman’s girdle (Te.) komor = the loins; komor kat.hi = an
ornament made of shells, resembling the tail of a tortoise, tied round the waist and sticking out
behind worn by men sometimes when dancing (Santali) kambra = a blanket (Santali)

m1656 On this petoral, the pannier is vividly displayed. This is an orthographic

feature unique to the one-horned heifer. It is a phonetic rebus determinative of
the artisan’s workhop. kamma_r-asa_le = the workshop of a blacksmith (Ka.);
kamasa_lava_d.u = a blacksmith (Te.) kamba_r-ike = a blacksmith’s business
(Ka.) kamarsa_ri_ smithy (Mth.)

kamba = a post, pillar (Ka.Te.Tu.Ta.Ma.); sthambha (Skt.)

kamat.amu = a portable furnace for melting precious metals (Te.)

Rebus: kamar = blacksmith (Santali) ka_rma_ra = metalsmith who makes arrows etc. of metal
(RV. 9.112.2: jarati_bhih os.adhi_bhih parn.ebhih s'akuna_na_m ka_rma_ro as'mabhih
dyubhih hiran.yavantam icchati_) kammar-a, kamma_r-a, kammaga_r-a, karma_ra,
karmaka_ra, kammaga_r-a, kamba_r-a = one who does any business; an artisan, a mechanic; a
blacksmith (Ka.) kamma_l.a = an artisan, an artificer: a blacksmith, a goldsmith (Ta.Ka.); a
goldsmith (Ka.) kammara = the blacksmith or ironsmith caste; kammaramu = the blacksmith’ss
work, working in iron, smithery; kammarava_d.u, kammari, kammari_d.u = a blacksmith,
ironsmith; kammarikamu = a collective name for the people of the kamma caste (Te.) kabbin.a,
kabban.a, kabbuna, karbuna = Te. inumu, Ta. irumbu; the dark-coloured, black metal: iron (Ka.)

The stone sculpture of "Priest" from the Civilization may have originally had a horned head-dress
affixed to the back of its head. Graphic reconstruction of the "Priest" [courtesy of Professor Michael
Jansen (RWTH, Aachen University)] After http://bosei.cc.u-tokai.ac.jp/~indus/english/2_3_02.html

The zebu is: ad.ar d.an:gra (Santali); rebus: aduru ‘native metal’ (Ka.) d.han:gar
‘blacksmith’ (WPah.) The bull is tied to a post. tambu = pillar (G.); stambha id. (Skt.)
Rebus: tamba = copper (Santali) tamire = the pin in the middle of a yoke (Te.) Rebus:
ta_marasamu = copper, gold (Te.)

Woman with horns and two stars: ko_la = woman (Nahali); rebus: kol ‘metal’ ko_d.u
‘horns’ (Ta.); kod. artisan’s workshop (Kuwi) ko_l. = planet (Ta.); kol ‘metal’; a pair
(planets): sagal.a = pair (Ka.); saghad.i_ = furnace (G.)

Ficus glomerata: loa, kamat.ha = ficus glomerata (Santali); rebus: loha = iron, metal (Skt.)
kamat.amu, kammat.amu = portable furnace for melting precious metals (Te.) kampat.t.am
= mint (Ta.) kammat.i_d.u = a goldsmith, a silversmith (Te.)

Seated person adorned with horns: kamad.ha = a person in penance (G.) Rebus:
kamat.amu, kammat.amu = portable furnace for melting precious metals (Te.) kampat.t.am
= mint (Ta.) kammat.i_d.u = a goldsmith, a silversmith (Te.) cu_r.i = bangles (H.); rebus:
culli = fireplace, kiln (Ka.) The seated person’s face is like a tiger’s mane: cu_r.i

Priest: tammad.a, tammad.i = an attendant on an idol (Ka.); tammal.ava_d.u, tammal.i,

tammad.i, tammali, tambal.ava_d.u (Te.) Rebus: tamba = copper (Santali) tamire = hole;
t.ebra = three (cf. glyph of trefoil inlaid on the uttari_yam – upper garment); Rebus:
tamara = tin (Ka.) tibira = merchant (Akkadian)

The seven volumes on Sarasvati (in press) by Dr. S. Kalyanaraman elaborate on this methodology
and explore the possibility of decoding other glyphs on epigraphs.

Riverine traditions of Bharat
River run-offs and water Management

Sarasvati and Sindhu rivers, together with the long coastline of Bharat have been waterways for
long-distance contacts established by the people of Sarasvati Civilization. The contacts established
involved travel on boats across the Persian Gulf to travel further upstream into the Tigris-Euphrates
river valleys in Mesopotamia. ii

The river run-offs also provided a technological challenge to manage the waters to create irrigation
structures for soil management and for organized farming. Rishi Gritsamada in Rigveda adores
River Sarasvati in ecstatic terms as: ambitame, naditame, devitame Sarasvati (best of mothers, best
of river and best of divinities). River Sarasvati was a great mother, because she nurtured a
civilization on the river banks.

The history of science and technology in Bharat is replete with examples of the use of scientific
water management techniques and the setting up water grid to support a regulated irrigation system
and flood control mechanisms. Aapah, sacred waters have united the nation for millennia and
Manasarovar, Mount Kailas has always been the cultural capital of Bharat.

A profile of a Gabarband, on river Hab.

With this Bharatiya tradition, we can confidently move

forward with the programme for creating a National
Water Grid and use of water harvesting and
conservation procedures to ensure optimum utilization
of the country’s water resource and to ensure the
equitable distribution of the resource to all parts of the
country and as a corollary, mitigate the recurrent
phenomena of twin problems of flooding in some parts
and of drought situations in other parts. Such a national
perspective in managing the water resource will help
achieve the target of doubling of agricultural production
in the next 5 years to cope with the anticipated growth
in population. The National Water Grid project by itself
has the potential of taking Bharat into a developed
country status by the year 2010.

Irrigation in the Sarasvati Civilization period

At Mehergarh Period II (Burj Basket Market period): "The charred seeds of wheat and barley
belonging to the species triticum sphaerococcum and hordeum phaerococcum that, according to L.
Costantini, grow only on irrigated fields, also were collected from the ashy layers" of P:eriod II
(Jarrige, Jarrige, Meadow and Quivron, 1995, Mehrgarh: Field Reports 1974-1985, from Neolithic
times to the Indus Civilization, Karachi, Department of Culture and Tourism of Sindh, Pakistan,
Department of Archaeology and Museums, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pp. 318-19)."

An irrigation system used involved bunding including the construction of a low earthen or stone
wall, known as kach or gabarband. There are many gabarbands in Sindh Kohistan, Kirthar area and
Baluchistan (Gedrosia). Gabarband means a 'Zoroastrian dam' because gabars are Zoroastrians or
fire-worshippers. Gabarbands, as shown in the figure, are L-shaped, were used to slow down the
flow of water in a stream, and to direct the flood waters and to allow the build up of alluvium
behind the structures. Louis Flam (1981, The Palaeogeography and prehistoric settlement patterns
in Sind, Pakistan, (4000-2000 BC), PhD Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania) notes that the
gabarband began in the Amri-Nal phase in the first half of 3rd millennium BCE. The gabarbands
ensured the conservation of soil and created an agricultural field with alluvial soil.

The kallanai or Grand Anicut on River Kaveri is patterned like a gabarband.

Rajendra Chola (1014-1044). He was victorious upto the banks of River Ganga. Gangaikonda
Cholapuram is the name of the place, 61 kms. from Tiruchirapalli, where he built a temple for
Brihadees’vara to commemorate his victories. Gangaikonda Cholapuram means, ‘the city of the
Chola who took the Ganga’.

After his victorious campaign, he did not ask for tribute of land or gold or riches; he asked for and
brought back, water from the river 'Ganga' in a golden pot, and sanctified the reservoir or the temple
tank called 'Ponneri or Cholaganga'. Thus he was given the title of 'Gangaikondan'(the one who
brought the Ganga).

North of Gangaikonda Cholapuram is the Grand Anicut (or Kallanai) – 24 kms. from Tiruchirapalli
-- built of stone in the second century AD by King Karikaala Chola.

L-shaped Kallanai or Grand Anicut on River Kaveri

Chola king of 11 century, who brought sacred
Ganga waters to the temple tank, Cholaganga at
Gangaikonda Cholapuram. A frieze in the temple
depicts King Rajendra being crowned by Somaskanda
S’iva accompanied by Parvati. The serpent adorning the neck of S’iva becomes the crown.

Chola king who built 2000 years ago, the world’s earliest water-regulator structure in
stone at Kallanai (Grand Anicut)

temple (11

This is the oldest

stone water-
diversion or water-
regulator structure in
the world. The L-
shaped structure, 329
m. long and 60 m. wide was intended to regulate the flow of Kaveri river waters to the northern
parts of Tamilnadu, towards Kolladam, to bring more land of the Kaveri delta under irrigation
channels. The L-shaped structure is comparable to the ‘gabar bands’ (dated to circa 5000 years
before present) which were used to fork out the water flows on the River Sindhu to provide for
regulated water supply to the settlements; the ‘gabar bands’ perhaps constitute the earliest water-
regulator systems in the world. At an archaeological settlement of Kalibangan on the banks of River
Sarasvati (tributary, Drishadvati), a ploughed-field was also discovered attesting to the early
agricultural systems of the civilization, using the waters drawn from the River Sarasvati. It is
notable that Rishi Gritsamada talks eloquently about Sarasvati as ambitame, naditame, devitame
Sarasvati, i.e. best of mothers, best of rivers and best of divinities. She was indeed a mother because
she nurtured a civilization on her river banks and gave raise to new technologies related to material
phenomena harnessed with due regard to the ecological system.

The water-regulator has stood the test of time. This 2,000 year old water-regulator stands firm even
today and is considered an engineering marvel. Similar water management structures have been
found in Southern Africa and it is surmised that these were built by the descendants of the people
who constructed the Kallanai. The stone structure is still in use and a road bridge has been built on
top where visitors can drive through or walk along. Another dam called the Upper Anicut, which is
685 m long, was constructed across the river Kollidam (Coleroon), the branch of River Kaveri, in
the 19th century.

Kallanai was built to harness the waters of River

Kaveri in times of drought. Before this dam was built,
the waters were flowing directly into the sea. The
ancient engineers of Bharat have created irrigation
system with innumerable interconnected small
resevoirs with networks of irrigation channels. This
system nassured supply of water even in the summer
season and avoided devastations caused when the
rivers were in spate.

Legacy of water-management of Sarasvati

Civilization (circa 5300 years before present)

Inner layout of the North Gate, Dholavira http://asi.nic.in/album_dholavira2.html

(Archaeological Survey of India website) Dholavira is an archaeological site of the civilization in
the Rann of Kutch (Gujarat). This site revealed the most remarkable water management systems,
which are perhaps the earliest systems of their kind in the world, dated to about 5300 years before

Dholavira. Huge reservoir.

Dholavira. Covered storm-

water drain.

Dholavira. Broadway and the

drain outlet.

The photographs depict the top-

view and the inside of a stone-
lined water drain to carry water
into the street.

Dholavira. Rock-cut

A remarkable find at Dholavira

excavation was a unique water-
harnessing system, together
with a storm-water drain. A 7-
metre deep rock-cut reservoir
with a confirmed length of 79

metres was a significant

discovery. This is an awesome
structure because it has been
cut through rock, together with
a storage tank and 50 stone-
steps. Another, equally deep
reservoir of fine stone masonry
was also found. The reservoirs
skirted around the metropolis
which was fortified with stone-
walls while the citadel and
baths were centrally located on
raised ground.

Giant reservoirs at Dholavira (the largest measuring 263 feet by 39 feet and 24 feet in
depth) that together held more than 325,000 cubic yards of water.

Dholavira. Well and other water structures.

Dholavira. Bathing tank.

A large well was discovered, equipped with a stone-cut trough to connect the drain meant for
conducting water to a storage tank. Circular structures found at the site, conjoining like the figure
eight are surmised to be used for bathing. Most notable
is a bathing tank with steps descending inwards. Water
from the nearby streams were harnessed and gathered
into a reservoir and further moved to charge the dug
wells which supplied water to parts of the metropolis.

Dholavira, fort, north-gate

These structures for effective water conservation and irrigation management are exemplified by the
pushkarini in Mohenjodaro. The pushkarini is not unlike the Chola Ganga tank in front of the
Brihadis'vara temple in Gangaikonda Cholapuram and many such pushkarinis in front of many
temple all over Bharat.

Mohenjodaro Pushkarini with steps

The floor of the tank is water tight due to finely fitted bricks laid on edge with
gypsum plaster and the side walls were constructed in a similar manner. To
make the tank even more water tight, a thick layer of bitumen (natural tar)
was laid along the sides of the tank and presumably also beneath the floor.
Brick colonnades were discovered on the eastern, northern and southern
edges. The preserved columns have stepped edges that may have held
wooden screens or window frames. Two large doors lead into the complex
from the south and other access was from the north and east. A series of
rooms are located along the eastern edge of the building and in one room is a
well that may have supplied some of the water needed to fill the tank.

A brick-lined drain. Mohenjodaro

Terracotta toy boat with a shallow draught, high prow, flat stern. Harappa . Similar boats
are used even today on the Sindhu river. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and
Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

Maritime traditions of Bharat

Bullock cart with solid wheel and boat with high prow in use today on the River Sindhu.
(After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

Boats like these could have plied not only on the Sindhu and Sarasvati rivers but also along the
coastline of the Gulf of Khambat, Gulf of Kutch and the Persian Gulf and upstream on Tigris-
Euphrates rivers. The rivers and the long coastlines thus constituted veritable water-ways for
creating the most expansive civilization of the times for two millennia between 3500 to 1500 BCE.

Bas relief of the 12th-century temple of Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

This is emphatic evidence that even in the days of the Rigveda (ca. 5000 to 7000 years Before
Present), River Sarasvati had attained the status of a divinity and was venerated as an apri devata in
the yajn~a-s. She was adored because she nurtured a civilization on her banks and saw the
emergence of new arts and crafts, a bronze-age civilization and a writing system to transport
artefacts made by artisans across large distances in a maritime, riverine cultural setting.

This is exemplified by the Amri-Nal phase of the civilization along the coastline of Gulf of
Khambat, Gulf of Kutch and Makran Coast. The s'ankha (turbinella pyrum) industry which was in
vogue in 6500 BCE continues even today in Kizhakkarai, Tiruchendur in Gulf of Mannar. A
valampuri s'ankha is priced at Rs. 25,000 and there is an office of the West Bengal Development
Corporation which buys the s'ankha picked up from the shallow coastls; an average s'ankha is priced
at Rs. 10 and the s'anha kris'aana works on the s'ankha to produce bangles, conch-trumpets and
oblation vessels. The s'ankha adorns the hands of Narayana and Bhairava symbolising the treasures
of the waters as do the images of samudra manthanam painted on a cave in Ellora and on a frieze in
Ankor Wat temple in Cambodia.

The historical tradition of social dharma in Bharat, connoted by samudra manthanam, the dharma of
cooperative enterprise will help organize for optimum utilization of water resources in the country
for many years to come.

Samudra or ks.i_rasa_gara manthanam, 'Churning of Ocean of Milk' Deva and Da_nava

churn the ocean, using Va_suki, the serpent as the rope and Mandara, the mountain as
the churning rod. Ganesh Lena, Ellora, ca. 11th cent. AD.
The tradition which began in the coastal sites close to the Gulf of Khambat, Gulf of Kutch and the
Makran Coast – all of which may be subsumed by the term for a region called Meluhha – continued
as a heritage in the arts and crafts related to the working in s’ankha to create ornaments, sacred
ladles and trumpets, working in large stones to create sculptures and architectural monuments and
working in small stones to create etched beads and ornaments.

The body of water called the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and the Arabian
Sea were referred to by Herodotus as the Erythraean Sea.

Dilmun is identified with Bahrain, Magan with Oman and Melukkha with the Indian Civilization.
Sargon of Akkad boasts that ships from Dilmun, Magan and Melukkha docked at the quay of his
capital Akkad. This inscription affirms that Melukkha was accessible by the sea-route, through the
Arabian gulf.

There is significant evidence for the presence of people and goods from and frequent interaction
with the Indian Civilization in the Mesopotamian and Gulf areas. There is, however, little evidence
of a Sumerian, Akkadian or Babylonian presence in India.

River Sarasvati: Drainage system in northern region of Bha_rata and ancient sites; the migratory
paths of River S’utudri (Sutlej) with a 90-degree turn at Ropar are vividly shown by the satellite
images; the present runs close to River Beas, without joining it. [After Fig. 1 in: BK Thapar, 1982,
The Harappan civilization: some reflections on its environments and resources and their exploitation
in: Gregory L. Possehl, Harappan civilization: a contemporary perspective, Delhi, Oxford and IBH
Publishing Co.]

An artist's reconstruction of ancient port town of Lothal depicting the use of the dock and the
warehouse. [After Pl. XXXIX Lothal: Artist’s view of the port-town].

Dr. Nigam of the National Institute of Oceanography conducted an analysis for the presence of
foraminifera in the ‘dockyard’ rectangular structure by collecting representative samples from the
lowest sediments. “Foraminifera are almost exclusive marine organism having widespread
geographic (horizontal) and bathymetric (vertical) distribution in the oceans including marginal
marine bodies like estuaries, lagoons, bays etc. Their presence or absence could be a decisive factor
in interpreting whether any ancient water body was filled with fresh or marine (including brackish)
water…Study of sediment samples reveals a fairly well preserved assemblage of
foraminifera…indicates that it was a part of marine environment…Hyper-saline conditions are also
indicated by presence of large number of gypsum crystals which is known to occur in high
evaporation condition…connection (to high tidal range) was probably cut off due to shoaling of the
Gulf of Cambay as a result of the Holocene sea level rise, which finally led to evaporation of marine
water locked inside the rectangular body.” [R. Nigam, 1988, Was the large rectangular structure at
Lothal (Harappan Settlement) a ‘Dockyard’ or an ‘Irrigation tank’? in: Marine Archaeology of
Indian Ocean Countries: Proceedings of the First Indian Conference on Marine Archaeology of
Indian Ocean Countries, Oct. 1987, Goa, National Institute of Oceanography].

“At the end of the last Kalpa, there occurred a Pralaya caused by reason of Brahma’s slumber, when all
the worlds, the earth and the rest were deluged by the Ocean.” (S’ri_mad Bha_gavatam, Book 8, Chapter
24, S’loka 4-9).

“Another instance of a reference to sea level change was during Lord Rama’s time, when Nal and Neel,
who were the architects in the army provided the bridge between Rames’varam and S’ri Lanka. This can
be explained when one realized that during the period of the Ra_ma_yan.a, position of the mean sea level
during that time was lower to bridge the gap. The stones to bridge the gap which they used attained the
property of floating after their touch. They may have been pumice stones which have this characteristic
of floating in water and bridging was possible due to the then shallow sea (shallower than present).
During the ‘Dwa_para Yuga’ Lord Kr.s.n.a established ‘Dwa_raka’ in the coastal belt with a word of
caution that Dwa_raka will submerge as described in S’ri_mad Bha_gavatam: ‘The race has been already
burnt up by the curse, and is going to perish by mutual strife. Seven days from now this city will be
submerged by the ocean.’ (S’ri_mad Bha_gavatam, Book 11, Chapter 7, S’loka 3 and 4). This leads us to
two possible inferences: (i) there was an understanding that sea level was not stable and that their
knowledge at the time was advanced enough to provide prediction. One may ask if he knew pretty well
that the city is going to be submerged then why did he build it? May be based on the concept of ‘Cost
and effect’? (ii) the technology was available to reclaim the land from the sea for urgent use.

“Reasons for the drowning of land as reported in religious books can be classified as flood due to sea
level changes or rainfall. Emiliani (C. Emiliani, 1976, Glacia surges and flood legends, Science, 193,
1268-1271) based on a study of marine sediment from the Gulf of Mexico indicated that there was indeed
a universal flood and this flood came from the sea rather than from the sky…

“Records of sea level fluctuations and related climatic changes are preserved in seabed in the form of
layered sediments and can be studied through proxy data like faunal contents and sedimentological
characteristics of the sediments. Longer geological records show that once upon a time, about 280
million years ago there was a major marine transgression when an arm of sea reached deep into Madhya
Pradesh. There are several evidences which show that over 200 million years ago in place of Himalayas
there was a large sea known as the ‘Tethys’. However, our immediate interest is with the relatively
shorter time span of the last 11,000 years BP (known as Holocene in geological literature) as it covers
recent human history and culture.

“Our earlier geological studies from the west coast of India indicate that about 10,000 years BP, sea level
was 60-90 m below the present and climate changed from warm to warm and humid (Nair and Hashimi,
1980; Hashimi and Nair, 1986). A subsequent intensification of monsoon was also inferred. Historical
records also indicate that total rainfall during the Indus Valley civilization was double than the present
(Singh et al., 1986) and the sea level was about 2-6 m higher than the present.[R. Nigam, NH Hashimi
and MC Pathak, National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, Sea Level fluctuations: inferences from
religious and archaeological records and their oceanographic evidences, Marine Archaeology, Vol. 1,
January 1990]

Lothal: photo essay by Srinivasa Sanagavarapu (1999)

Dock; marine shells were
found confirming that the brick-lined reservoir was indeed a dock for marine vessels.
Brick-lined drain

Lothal: Dock, another view

Lothal: street and residential complex
Lothal: Acropolis
Lothal: fortification wall surrounding the settlement?

Dockyard made of a large brick basin. Lothal. (After

Dinesh Shukla)

Boat on a Mohenjodaro tablet

Silver model of a boat from the Royal Graves at Ur (Crawford, H., p. 119)

Mohenjo-daro. Unfired steatite sweal showing
a flat-bottomed boat with a cabin (having
ladders to the leaf and a high-seated platform
at the stern from which the large rudder could
be manipulated); the motif is incised. [After
Fig. 5.16 in JM Kenoyer, 1998].

Aegean shipping in the third millennium BCE

Egyptian representations of sea-faring craft: 1)

from Ipi at Saqqara, c. 2500 BCE; 2) from Abibi at Saqqara, c. 2500 BCE. Fig 7.4.1. The higher end
is most often the stern and is usually accompanied by a steering oar.

Lead boat models from he Cyclades.

Ref. Nos.
and 1929.26.

Clay models
of dugouts
from (a)
Mochlos; and (b) Palaiokastro, Crete.
Herakleon Museum. Fig. Two clay
models are from Crete. One dates to the
late neolithic/beginning of the early
Minoan period; the other dates to the
middle of the early Minoan period.

Models comparable to the clay model

boat from Palaiokastro (shaped like a
sledge), Crete were also found in Chanhujo-daro.

Phaistos disc. Herakleon Museum. (7.6.1);

‘Boats’ from the Phaistos disc (7.6.2);
Parallels for these boats: a) a Nile boat from
the Amratian period (4th millennium BCE);
b) square ‘Mesopotamian’ boat from Wadi
Hammamat (4th millennium BCE); c)
crescentic ‘Egyptian’ boat from Wadi Hammat (4th
millennium BCE); d) ‘Mesopotamian’ or square sailing
vessel from the late Gerzean period (c. 2900 BCE).

In the Aegean, the earliest evidence for the use of the sail comes from early Minoan III, the last
centuries of the third millennium BCE. Engravings on seals and gems from several sites which date
to the beginning of he middle Minoan period are similar to those om the preceding early Minoan

period, Fig. 7.5.1. The masts are clearly show and the craft having hulls which suggests hat they
were plank-built. The rigging is typically Egyptian. In these engravings, the prow is high and the
stem is low, usually wih a projecting keel.

The earliest evidence for contact between Crete and Egypt dates to the end of the neolithic in the
Aegean (equivalent of the Predynastic/First intermediate periods in Eypt).

Early Minoan III and middle Minoan Sailing Craft represented on seals and gems.
Ashmolean Museum. Fig. 7.5.1
The enigmatic Phaistos disc (Fig. 7.6.1), a unique inscribed object of terracotta, dating to about
1600 BCE, but as yet undeciphered, bears
representations of what appear to be ships (Fig.
7.6.2). The bar at the top of the stern may be
taken to represent a yardarm -- in which case
these representations are of plank-built vessels.
They can be compared to Egyptian and near
eastern parallels (Fig. 7.6.3). The ships on the
disc seem to occur on initial and terminal

[Veronica McGeehan Liritzis, 1996, The role and

development of metallurgy in the late neolithic and early bronze age of Greece, Paul Astroms

Maritime, riverine trade in Vedic times

Rigveda has a number of allusions to the use of boats.

The maritime/riverine nature of the Sarasvati Sindhu civilization is borne out by the archaeological
finds of contacts with Sumeria, particularly in the trade of copper/bronze weapons exported from
ancient India.

The vedic people had used ships to cross oceans: anarambhan.e... agrabhan.e samudre... s’ata_ritram
na_vam... (RV. I.116.5; cf. VS. 21.7) referring to as’vins who rescued bhujyu, sinking in mid-ocean
using a ship with a hundred oars (na_vam-aritraparani_m). There is overwhelming evidence of
maritime trade by the archaeological discoveries of the so-called Harappan civilization, which can
now be re-christened: Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization. Some beads were reported to have been
exported to Egypt from this valley (Early Indus Civilization, p. 149); Sumerians had acted as
intermediaries for this trade (L. Wooley , The Sumerians, pp. 46-47; cf. Ur Excavations, vol. II, pp.
390-396).which extended to Anatolia and the Mediterranean.

Boats drown in the river Sarasvati when the river was in spate (RV. 6,61,3); Devi Aditi comes in a
boat for the reciters to board (RV. 10,63,10); Soma, the king of the waterways, who covers the
universe as a cloth, has boarded the boat of sacrifice; the su_rya descends the heavens on a boat
(RV. 1,50,4; 5,45,10; 7,63,4; 10,88,16,17). Sudasa built an easily pliable boat to cross the Purus.n.i
river (RV. 7,18,5); Agni is a boat which carries the sacrific ers over the difficult path of sacrifice
(RV. 1,9,7, 7-8: 5,4,9); Agni is the boat of the reciters in troubled times (RV. 3,29,1), to ford enemy
lines (RV. 3,24,1); Agni is the carrier-boat of oblations to the gods (RV. 1,128,6); Agni is the boat

of all wishes (RV. 3,11,3); Indra was like a ferry-boat (RV. 8,16,11); Indra protected the boats (RV.
1,80,8); Indra is invoked to carry the reciters over the ocean of misfortune (RV. 3,32,14); Indra
takes the reciters in his boat across the ocean (RV. 8,16,11); Indra saved the ship-wrecked Naryam,
Turvasu, Yadu, Turviti and Vayya (RV. 1,54,6); Indra-Varun.a sail on the boat on the celestial
ocean (RV. 7,88,3); Purus.an’s golden boat moves on the sky (RV. 6,58,3) Varun.a’s boat will carry
the reciter on to the mid-ocean of the sky (RV. 7,88,3); Maruta helped the reciters to cross the ocean
of war in a boat (RV. 5,54,4); Maruta was compared to a tempestuous ocean in which had sunk a
laden ship (RV. 5,59,2); there are references to: house boat (RV. 1,40,12); long boat (RV. 1,122,15);
well-furnished boat with oars (RV. 10,101,2); boats carrying foodgrains for overseas markets (RV.
1,47,6; 7,32,20; 7,63,4); boats fit to cross the ocean with oars (RV. 1,40,7); ocean-trading boats
(RV. 1,50,2). [See also Swami Sankarananda, Hindu States of Sumeria, Calcutta,
K.L.Mukhapadhyay, 1962 for the story of Bhujyu who was the son of a king named Tugra (a
worshipper of As’vina) whose boat was sunk in the mid-ocean, p. 32].

Riches are obtained from the samudra (i.e. by maritime trade) (RV. 1,47,6); there were two winds
on the ocean, one to put the boat to the seas and the other to bring it to shore (RV. 10,137,2).

S’ankha, Bhairava, Man.d.ala
The s’ankha industry in Bharat is based on an
8500-year maritime tradition.

Burial ornaments made of shell and stone

disc beads, and turbinella pyrum (sacred
conch, s’an:kha) bangle, Tomb MR3T.21,
Mehrgarh, Period 1A, ca. 6500 BCE. The
nearest source
for this shell is
Makran coast
near Karachi,
500 km. South.
[After Fig. 2.10 in Kenoyer, 1998].

Parvati, wore conch shell bangles – s’an:khaka -- created by Sage

Agastya Muni and Divine architect Vis’vakarma. S’an:kha is a
Kubera’s treasure – one of the nine or nava-nidhi-s.

Kanjari : a long blouse embroidered and with mirror work.

Shell bangles are worn by a Kutchi woman, from wrist to shoulder
-- a cultural heritage from the Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization as
evidenced by the bronze statue found at Mohenjodaro wearing
bangles in similar style.

Shell ladle perhaps used to pour librations. A hole in the shell has been plugged with
lead to make it watertight. Harappa. Made from a spiny murex shell. Found in a burial.
(After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

This shell lade provides a remarkable evidence for the innovativeness in using lead on shell as an
early cementation process.

Libation vessels made of s’ankha (turbinella pyrum) with incised

lines and perhaps red paint inlaid. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of
Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

USES OF TURBINELLA PYRUM (s’an:kha, conch-

shell) for libation, trumpet, seal

Mohenjodaro: libation vessel made from turbinella pyrum. Spiralling lines

were incised and filled with red pigment. The vessel is used to anoint kings

and to dispense sacred water or milk. Used even today for ritual oblations and to dispense medicinal
preparations.[After Fig. 6.38 in Kenoyer, 1998; J. M. Kenoyer, 1983, Shell working industries of the
Indus Civilization: an archaeological and ethnographic perspective, PhD diss., UCAL, Berkeley].
11.4 X 5.4 cmBet Dwaraka...A small rectangular seal (20 x 18 mm) of conch shell with a
perforated button at the back was found in trench UW6 of Bet Dwarka. A composite animal moif
representing the short horned bull, unicorn and goat are engraved in an anticlockwise direction.

Turbinella pyrum shell bangle manufacturing

process. [a to f]: preliminary chipping and
removal of internal columella; [g to k]: sawing
shell circlets; [l to n]: finishing the shell blank;
[o]: final incising [After Fig. 5.23 in Kenoyer,

Bet Dwarka. Inscription on a jar [After Pl. XLIX in

SR Rao]

Turbinella pyrum conch shell trumpet.

Hole at apex is
roughly chipped.
Used to call people
for battle or
ritually throughout
South and
Southeast Asia.
Essential component of Hindu and
Buddhist traditions, one of 8 auspicious
symbols. 9.66 X 5.1 cm. Harappa; Lahore Museum.
A skilled sawyer and shells ready for sawing, Calcutta.

Kr.s’a_nu, a bowman; shell-cutter with a bow saw

With those aids by which you defended Kr.s'a_nu in battle, with which
you succoured the horse of the young Purukutsa in speed, and by which
you deliver the pleasant honey to the bees; with them, As'vins, come
willingly hither. [Kr.s'a_nu are somapa_las, vendors or providers of
Soma; hasta-suhasta-kr.s'a_navah, te vah somakrayan.ah (Taittiri_ya
Sam.hita_1.2.7); kr.s'a_nu = agni; purukutsa was the son of Mandha_ta_
and husband of Narmada_, the river; the text has only 'of the young',
Purukutsa is added] (RV 1.112.21). s’ankhah kr.s’anah = pearl shell won
from the ocean and worn as an amulet. (AV 4.10.1)

Rigveda: 1.112.21
yai->? k«/zanu/m! As?ne Êv/Sywae? j/ve yai-/rœ yUnae/ AvR?Nt/m! Aav?tm!,

mxu? ià/ym! -?rwae/ yt! s/rfœ_y/s! tai-?rœ ^/ ;u ^/iti-?rœ Aiñ/na g?tm! .

Cakra samvara, man.ibhadra: protector of lapidary crafts

Sandstone sculpture of S’iva Bhairava, holding a conch in
his left hand, 11th cent. S’ivapuram, South Arcot Dist., Bha_rata
(Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History,
MS Univ., Vadodara). “…Sontheimer has shown, Mârtanda
Bhairava is identified with the folk-deities Mhasobâ, Birobâ and
especially Khanobâ in the Deccan, where he often resides as a
snake within the termite mound, which is itself identified as his
mother Gangâ-Sûryavantî, the womb of the hidden sun. The anthill
is believed to contain treasure in the form of golden turmeric
powder: the resonances with the Vedic Agni and Soma are
unmistakeable.” Elizabeth Chalier-Visuvalingam, 2002, Shiva and
his Manifestations (Different Forms of Bhairava, Vîrabhadra, etc.,
as Folk Deities). Cf, Chalier-Visuvalingam, E., (1986). Bhairava:
Kotwal of Varanasi, in T. P. Verma, D. P. Singh, and J. S. Mishra
(eds.), Varanasi Through The Ages. Bharatiya Itihas Sankalan
Samiti. Varanasi, pp. 231-260.
In Vajraya_na Buddhism, Cakra Samvara is compared with Bhairava who is worshipped in the
circular Yogini_ temples of Orissa. (Vidya Deheja, 1986, Yogini_ cult and temples: A tantric
tradition, New Delhi). It is unclear if Samvara is cognate with S’abara (cf. Sra <S’abara in Orissa)
and with S’ambara as an enemy of Indra (Maha_bha_rata). (cf. Asko Parpola, 1993, Bronze age
Bactria and Indian Religion, Studia Orientalia, 70: 81-87).
Groundplan of the temple-fort in
Dashly-3, Bactria, ca. 2000 BCE (After
Sarianidi, Viktor I., Die Kunst des alten
Afghanistan. Leipzig. 1986: 59). Inside the
square walls (150 m. wide) around the fort
are buildings; three are circular buildings
with concentric walls. Asko Parpola’s
surmise is that this so-called ‘temple’
corresponds to the Vedic description of the
Da_sa or Asura forts (tripura). This surmise
is not based on any textual evidence linking
Asura to such circular structures.
The evidence of the man.d.ala-s in BMAC
archaeological sites (forts of Kutlug-Tepe
and At-Tchapar ca. 500 BCE of the
Achaemenid period) and the man.d.ala
created in a stu_pa with 24 spokes found at
Sanghol, Punjab (Kushana period) point to
the migrations of people away from the Sarasvati River basin during 2nd millennium BCE and
during the historical periods. There is no archaeological evidence to assume that the man.d.ala of
Gonur Tepe and other sites points to migrations of people from BMAC area into Bharat. The
comparative analyses of Vedic and Avestan tradition clearly establishes the chronology: Vedic texts
> Bra_hman.a-s > Avestan.

Cylindrical stupa of the Kushana period found at Sanghol (Dist. Fatehgarhsahib
Punjab) with three concentric
rings of rick masonry with
intervening space divided by
radiating spokes of similar brick
masonry at regular nervals. At
Sanghol site the core is made of
a thick circular wall of brick
masonry filled with earth. At
Sanghol was discovered a carved
lid of the relic casket with an
inscription in Kharoshti script
dated to circa 1st century BCE;
the epigraph reads: Upasakasa

He is man.ibhadra, the protector of the beads and gems, exemplified by the cut s’ankha which
adorns his left hand in the S’ivapuram sandstone sculpture. Agni Purâna (51, 17) describes S’iva as
a Kshetrapâla. Bhairava is located in the northeast of the Hindu mandiram, the protector of the
settlement, the ks.etrapa_la. He is the kotwal (guardian-magistrate) of Vis’vana_tha of Varan.a_si.
Adored in 64 forms, in a manifestation of the formless divine parama_tman, in the Hindu (Kashmir
S’aivism), Buddha and Jaina traditions, the central form is ma_rta_n.d.a-bhairava. Man.d.ala
geometrical patterns of settlements are preserved in Newar, Nepal, as evidenced by Bhaktapur in
Nepal. Consistent with Agni Purâna (52) Bhairava is presented in the center of a circle of Yogins
has 12 arms corresponding to 12 Âdityas who preside over the twelve months of a year. In the
Buddha tradition, Maha_ka_la is the ka_la bhairava; other forms are Samvara and Heruka (cf.
the image of Ka_rttikeya in Swa_mimalai is called E_raka Subrahman.ya). In Nepal, he is also
celebrated as La_t. Bhairava, connoting the la_t. or yu_pa, on the twelfth day of the kr.s.n.a paks.a
in Bha_dra month, the same date on which Indra dvaja or Indra Maha_ is celebrated. Another
substitute form is Vi_rabadra. S’iva Pura_n.a describes Bhairava as transcendent (pu_rnaru_pa)
complete form. He is called Bhairava because he protects (bharati), because he is effulgent
terrifying (bha_). He is ka_la bhairava (the divinity of time). In the southern parts of Bharat, he is
Khan.d.oba or Ma_rta_n.d.a Bhairava married to representatives of the settled agricultural-trading
as well as vanava_si. Rudra of R.gveda is the predecessor form of Bhairava. He is presented in
images of: brahmas’iras’chedaka (kapa_lin), kan:ka_lamu_rti and bhiks.a_t.anamu_rti. Stella
Kramrisch notes eloquently, "No contradictions were adequate and no single iconographic likeness
sufficed to render the total, tremendous mystery of Bhairava. The furthest outreach of contradictory
qualities was gathered in the intensity of myth, and split in the variety of images in bronze and

Just as Bhairava is a ks.etrapa_la, Yaksha is a guardian deity of the earth and wealth of the earth; a
guardian of treasures and waterholes or lakes, just as na_ga is a guardian of the underworld.
Yaksha-s live in alaka_puri.
Pandava-s came upon a lake
that was
guarded by a
Parkham, 200

Kubera is the
keeper of the
chief treasures
of the earth.
Pushpaka is his
vima_na used
by Ra_ma.

Ambika Mata temple, Jagat

One of the dikpalas, Kubera is lord of the yakshas and guardian of the north direction. In his left
hand, Kubera holds a pomegranate. Beneath his left hand is a personified water jar. Beneath his
right hand, a personified mongoose dangles a snake, in a pose echoed by Krishna in the Delhi
National Museum.


Yaksha, from the Bha-rhut Stu-pa, early 1st century BCE. S’unga period. After Heinrich
Zimmer, The Art of Indian Asia, Princeton, 1955, Bollingen Series, Plate 34a (India Office,
courtesy Mrs. A.Coomaraswamy)

Kubera is one of the Regents (lokapalas) of the Four Quarters in Pali Buddhism who are attended by
numerous yakshas, including Manibhadra (Maniyakkhasenapati in Pali). (This rarely depicted group
is found among glazed plaques at the twelfth century Ananda temple in Pagan, Burma.) By the
Gupta period, Manibhadra was substituted for Kubera in Sanskrit texts such as the Mahavastu and
Lalitavistara, perhaps explaining his importance at Mathura.

Vais’ravan.a, guardian of the North (Kubera)

Tibet 1600 – 1699 Uncertain Lineage
95.25x59.69cm (37.50x23.50in)
Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton Collection of Shelley & Donald
Vais’ravana (Tibetan: nam to se. English: the Son of Namto), Guardian
of the Northern Direction, King of the Yakshas and Leader of the
Worldly Dharma Protectors.
Tibetan: Nam to
Barhut, Chandra

Sanchi, yaksha;
stupa 1, east
toran.a, s’unga

In the appearance of
a warrior god, he
has a round full face
with eyebrows,
moustache and a
beard - brown in colour. Large round eyes gaze to the side. The right
hand at the chest holds a tall victory banner topped with flowing silks of various colour. The left
holds in the lap a brown mongoose expelling jewels from the mouth, like a rain shower, creating a
pile of precious wishing gems on the ground below. Adorned with an ornate five-pointed crown of
gold and jewels, earrings and tassels, he is richly garbed in the raiment of a king, opulent with silk
brocades and elaborate designs in varieties of colour. Seated on a purple mat above a rocky bench,
in a relaxed posture and wearing boots, the right leg is supported by an ugly yaksha daemon in an
acquiescent kneeling posture. The left foot presses down on the prone form of another yaksha
serving as a footstool. The head is encircled by a green areola edged with flames. The background is
entirely filled with swirling purple smoke and the foreground sparse and green.

"With vajra armour, a garland of jewel ornaments and the beautiful heavenly banner - fluttering,
illuminated in the middle of a hundred thousand Wealth Bestowers; homage to Vaishravana, chief among
the protectors of the Teaching." (Nyingma liturgical verse).

Vais’ravana, leader of the yaksha race, is a worldly guardian worshipped as both a protector and
benefactor (wealth deity). He lives on the north side of the lower slopes of mount Meru in the
Heaven of the Four Great Kings. As the leader of the Four Direction Guardians, he like the others,
swore an oath of protection before the buddha Shakyamuni. The stories and iconography of the Four
Guardian Kings arise originally with the early Buddhist sutras and become fully developed in the
later Mahayana sutras. They are common to all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Paintings of the Kings
are generally found in association with a larger thematic set featuring the buddha Shakyamuni and
the 16 Great Arhats.

Lord Parshva Yaksha is the divine guardian associated with the Twenty-Third Tirhankara,
Parshvanath. His complexion is dark, he has an elephant-like face, and his head is sheltered by the
hood of a cobra. He has four arms. His carrier is a tortoise. On is right side he holds a snake and a
special fruit known as Bujjpurak. In his left hands he holds a snake and a mongoose. He is
considered very influential; he can be compared with Ganesh, who is a Hindu God.

Yeak (Sanskrit: Yaksha) in Khmer Legends

are ogre demons (often female). Yeak are
depicted as a ferocious figure in armour, with
a pointed helmet on his head, a wide mouth,
long canines, swollen eyes and slanting
eyebrows, holding a long stick in his hand. But
Yeak can change shape to a human figure.

Vis.n.u blowing s’ankha trumpet.

Vishnu’s fight with the Rakshasas led by
Malyava_n, Ma_li and Suma_li as
narrated in the Uttarka_n.d.a of the
Ra_ma_yan.a (Cantoes VI-VIII). [A
Terracotta Panel from Bhitargaon Showing a
Ramayana Scene By P. Banerjee
por-itta ma_ ta_n:ku tat.akk kai" (mullaippa_t.t.u: 2) "the long arms with finger prints of
valampuri [conch with clockwise turns] and embracing Tirumakal. (or Laks.mi)" The terracotta
plaque is at the Brooklyn Museum, U.S.A. On stylistic grounds it can be ascribed to the fifth
century and and also be presumed to have originally belonged to the brick temple of Bhitargaon,
Kanpur District, Uttar Pradesh. The plaque has been described by Dr. Army Poster (Figures in
Clays from Ancient India, No. 52, Brooklyn, 1973) and by Dr. Pratapaditya Pal (The Ideal Image:
The Gupta Sculptural Tradition and Its Influence, Fig. 28, p.81, the Asiatic Society, Inc. 1978).

The glyphs of s’ankha and cakra not only adorn the hands of mu_rti-s of Vishnu in many temples all
over Bharat but also have been inscribed on coins of kings of historical periods, attesting to a
continuing historical tradition for over 8 millennia.

Coin issued by King Mahinda V of Sinhala, CE 956-972

Obverse: in bead circe, Elephant standing left, trunk pendent.
Before legs, a symbol; over back a conch.
Reverse: In similar circle, horse prancing left, before it a
brazier or a lamp, ligatured to a corn-stalk and over back, a
cakra. Thus, the coin depicts two sacred symbols: s’ankha
and cakra.

Among the finds of Mesopotamian civilization were shells used for decorative purposes. Harappa
excavations have yielded shell ilays, beads, bangles, ladles, game-pieces, and shell necklaces. At
Mohenjodaro was found s'ankha workers' quarters and heaps of oyster shells, pointing to possible
use of pearls for ornaments and for long-distance trade. At Lothal were found complete shells, and a
shell-working center (Rao, S.R., 1962: 22-3).

S'ankha is clearly an indigenously evolved industry and tradition and coast-based. S'ankha
(turbinella pyrum) is found abundant along Gulf of Mannar, Gulf of Khambat, Gulf of Kutch and
Makran coast and only in this coastline of Bharat, at 16 to 20 m. depths close to the coastline. The
northern limits of the occurrence of the species is the mouth of River Godavari. It also occurs in
Andaman islands (Nayar and Mahadevan 1974: 122-124). During low tide, the coral reef of Gulf of
Kutch between Sacchna and Okha (a distance of 200 kms.) gets exposed and s'ankha is found close
to coral reef patches. The s'ankha occurs at a depth of 4 to 6 m. in this gulf. (Pota and Patel 1991:
446). This zoological species is not found anywhere else in the world and thus constitutes a marker
to identify products made and traded from Sarasvati Civilization, from the coastline of Bharat
stretching from Makran coast in the west to the mouth of Godavari river on the east, along the long

Ancient chank bangle fragments from Gujarat and Kathiawar

with one from Bellary (1516). (Foot-collection, Madras
Museum) After Pl. IV in Hornell, opcit.

Sectioning chank
shells in a Dacca
workshop. After Fig. 2
in Hornell, opcit.
S'ankha is certainly not a
product brought in by the
mythical invading or
migrating Aryans – a
myth created by some
indologists without any
archaeological evidence
to support it. Vis.n.u is mentioned in the R.gveda but without the
s'ankha adorning one of his hands. So, clearly, the s'ankha
iconographic tradition is post-vedic , and attested archaeologically in
Sarasvati Civilization, in 6500 BCE at Mehergarh, 300 kms. north of
Makran Coast, north-west of Gulf of Kutch, close to the Amri-Nal
cultural coastline.

"…Vishnu is almost certainly one of the gods borrowed from the indigenous people as his
complexion is characteristically represented as dark-hued whenever his image is shown in
colour…first notices occur in the two great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. In
these we get frequent reference to the employment of the chank as a martial trumpet by the great
warriors whose more or less mythical exploits are recounted. Particularly is this the case in the
Mahabharata, where in the Bhagavat-Gita we find the heroes heartening their forces to the fight
with loud blasts on their battle-conches. Each hero has his famous conch distinguished…we
read in the Bhagavat-Gita (verses 11 to 19) how the prelude to battle was the deafening clamour
sounded by the leaders on their great conchs. 'The ancient of the Kurus, the Grandsire (Bhisma),
the glorious, sounded on high his conch. 'The Lion's Roar'. Then conchs and kettledrums, tabors
and drums and cowhorns, suddenly blared forth with tumultuous clamour. Stationed in their

great war-chariot yoked to white horses, Ma_dhava (Krishna) and the son of Pa_n.du (Arjuna)
blew their divine conchs. Panchajanya was blown by Hrishikes'a (Krishna) and Devadatta by
Dhananjaya (Arjuna). Vrikodara (Bhim) of terrible deeds blew his mighty conch, Paundra. The
king Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, blew Anantavijaya; Nakula and Sahadeva blew their cochs
Sughosha and Manipushpaka. And Ka_shya of the great bow and Shikhan.d.i, the mighty car-
warrior, Drisht.adyumna and Vira_t.a and Sa_tyaki, the unconquered. Drupada and the
Draupadeyas, O Lord of Earth, and Saubhadra, the might-armed, on all sides their several
conchs blew. That tumultuous uproar rent the hearts of the sons of Dhritara_s.t.ra, filling the
earth and sky with sound.' From the earliest times the conch has also been used in India to call
the people to their sacrifices and other religious rites and as an instrument of invocation to call
the attention of the gods to their ceremonies to be performed. With this intimate association with
the chief religious rites, the people gradually came to reverence the instrument itself, and to
adore and invoke it…In the ceremonies attending the coronation of great kings the chank
naturally played a great part. (During coronation of Yudhishthira)…the king was to touch such
auspicious articles as corn, white flowers, svastika, gold, silver and jewels…Krishna took in his
hand the sacred conch-shell, which was filled with holy water, sprinkled the water over the
heads of the king and queen…" (p. 117-126).

Together with the cakra, the discus wielded by Krishna, the s'ankha is an artefact associated
with war; one is a weapon, the other is a trumpet calling the troops to arms and signaling the
beginning of combat. Bhairava, a form of S'iva is also depicted carrying a sawn s'anka, a
representation of the s'ankha industry, practiced by the vra_tya, the precursors of the ks.atriya-s
and early worshippers of ekavra_tya Rudra, mentioned in the Atharva Veda. Kathiawar is the
sacred land associated with the life of Krishna who is adorned with the Panchajanya s'ankha.

"…the S'anku Ta_li Vel.l.a_l.an-s, a section of the great Vellalar caste, who wear, according to
Winslow, a representation of the chank on either side of a central symbol…Two other castes
with the same marriage badge occur on the West Coast…This is an immigrant branch of
Idaiyans known locally as Puvandans, settled in Travancore…Their tali is known as sankhu tali
and a small ornament in the form of a chank is its most conspicuous feature. The other West
Coast caste using a sankhu tali is that of the Thandan Pulayan, a small division of the Pulayan,
who dwell in South Malabar and Cochin…Sixty years ago chanks constituted the currency of
the Naga tribes…a cow was valued at ten chank-shells, a pig at two shells…on some coins
issued by the ancient Pandiyan and Chalukyan dynasties of southern India a chank-shell appears
as the principal symbol (Thurston, I, 328)…" (p. 146, p. 162, p. 166).

"…in ancient days the cusom of wearing these pecular ornaments (of chank) was widely spread
throughout the greater part of India and that bangle-workshops, equally widely scattered,
stretched from Tinnevelly in the extreme south to Kathiawar and Gujarat in the north-west,
through a long chain of factories located in the Deccan. Reference to ancient Tamil classics
furnishes evidence scanty but conclusive of the existence of an import chank-cutting industry in
the ancient Pandyan kingdom in the early centuries of the Christian era. Similar evidence is also
extant of a widespread use of carved and ornamented chank bangles in former days by the
women of the Pandyan country which may considered roughly co-extensive with the modern
districts of Tinnevelly, Madura, and Ramnad, forming the eastern section of the extreme south
of the Madras Presidency…Maduraikkanchi, a Tamil poem which incidentally describes the
ancient city of Korkai (sea-port at the mouth of Tambraparni), once the sub-capital of the
Pandyan kingdom and the great emporium familiar to Greek and Egyptian sailors and traders
and described by the geographers of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD under the name of Kolkhoi. In
one passage (LL. 140-144) the Parawas are described as men who dived for pearl oysters and

for chank shells and knew charms to keep sharks away from that part of the sea where diving
was being carried on…" (p. 42)

Dharmi, the Brahmin questions Nakki_rar:

An:kan:kulayariva_l.i neyppu_cip pan:kampat.a viran.t.u ka_lparappic cankatan-ai ki_rki_renavar-

ukkun: ki_ran-o_ ven-kaviyai ya_ra_yumul.l.attavan-

Trans. Is Ki_ran fit to critize my poem? Spreading his knees wide, his joints loosened (by
the labour), does he not saw chanks into sections, his ghee-smeared saw murmuring the
while kir-kir?

The poem is rendered in the presence of the Pandyan king, Neduncer..iyan- II, contesting the
competence of Nakki_rar, a Parawa, the poet-president of Tamil sangam in Madura. Nakki_rar

can:kar-uppa ten:gal. kulan can:karan-a_rk ke_tu kulam pan:kamar-ac con-n-a_l

par..uta_me can:kai yarintun.t.u va_r..vo_ maran-e_ nin-po_la virantun.t.u va_r..vatillai

Trans. Chank-cutting is indeed the calling of my caste; of that I am not ashamed. But of
what caste is S'ankara? We earn our livelihood by cutting chanks, we do not live by
begging as he did.

This is textual evidence for chank-cutting in Korkai, the principal settlement of the Parawa-s.
This is how Hornell describes the finds of chank workshop at Korkai: "I unearthed a fine series
of chank workshop waste -- seventeen fragments in all. The whole number were found lying on
the surface of the ground in a place where old Pandyan coins have from time to time been
discovered according to information gathered in the village. The fragments unearthed all bear
distinct evidence of having been sawn by the same form of instrument, a thin-bladed iron saw,
and in the same manner as that employed in Bengal in the present day. Eight fragments
represent the obliquely cut 'shoulder-piece', six consist of the columella and part of the oral
extremity of the shell and the remaining three are fragments of the lips -- all show a sawn
surface, the positive sign of treatment by skilled artisans…It is also noteworthy that the huge
funeral urns found in tumuli of the Tambraparni valley (at Adichanallur) have yielded a few
fragments of working sections cut from chank shells, associated in the urns with beautifully
formed bronze utensils, iron weapons and implements and gold fillets. So old are these tumuli
that they are classed as prehistoric though it is obvious that the people of these days were skilful
artisans in gold, bronze, iron and must have been contemporaries of historic periods in the story
of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Ovari is the name of a small fishing village not far distant on the
adjacent coast and may possibly be the Ophir of Solomon and the port whereto the fleets of
Tarshish sailed to fright home the treasures of India…The localities in Gujarat and Kathiawar
form a second well-marked geographical area, being situated around the Gulf of Cambay
adjacent to where chanks are fished in the present day…Damnagar, Amreli Prant…a great
number of chank bangles in a fragmentary condition were found…Babapur…situated 13 mile
westward of Amreli…13 fragments of finished chank bangles…Ambavalli. Seventy-one
fragments of broken bangles from an old site…numerous portions of sawn sections of chank
shells…Va_la_bhipur (modern Walah)…chank bangle fragments…sawn working
sections…Kamrej, 12 miles north-east of Surat. The summit of a small islet in the Tapti river at
this place yielded three sawn shoulder slices (workshop waste) of chank sells and a single
fragment of finished bangle…a broad and closely worked zig-zag groove…two fragments of
sandstone hammers…Eight sites can clearly be indicated as probable centers of the chank-
bangle industry in Gujarat and Kathiawar, namely -- (a)Sigam, Hiran valley, Baroda Prant, (b)
Kamrej, on the Tapti, (c) Mahuri, on the left bank of the Sabarmati, Baroda State, with (d)
Ambavalli, (e) Damnagar, (f) Kodinar, and (g) in and on the alluvium of the Shitranj river above
Babapur, all four in Amreli Prant, Kathiawar, also (h) Va_la_bhipur in Vala State,
Kathiawar…at the Ambavalli site, an iron knife with a tang was discovered…a chank-saw as is
to-day in common use in Bengal chank factories for cutting patterns upon the bangles….In
several other cases (Srinivasapur in Mysore, Havaligi Hill in Anantapur, and Bastipad in
Kurnul) pieces of iron slag were found in association." (pp. 45-61).

Details of bangle manufacture. "The tool employed for breaking away the columella is a
hammer fashioned on the principle of the well-known geologist's hammer, sharp-edged on the
one side and square on the other. The shell is now ready for the sawyer, who sits on the earthen
floor tightly wedged between two short stakes of unequal length driven into the ground. Against
the longer, measuring some 15 inches above the ground, the worker's back is supported, while
against the shorter, only 4 to 5 inches high, his toes are pressed. The space between the two
stakes measures no more than 18 inches, hence the workman although he sits with his knees
widely separate -- is very tightly jammed between the rests. This is found essential as it is
necessary that the limbs should be rigid during his work, as his feet have to function as a vice
during the sawing of the sections, the shell to be cut being placed between the right heel and the
toes of the left foot. After the columella and lip of the shell are removed, a disc of hard wood is
placed over the moth aperture of the shell to provide a firm purchase for the foot pressed against
the side of the shell. The worker is now ready to begin sawing the shell into sections. For this
purpose he is provided with a heavy hand-saw of great apparent clumsiness. The iron blade…is
of a deep crescentic form ending in an attenuate horn at each end. A little way from each of
these tapered extremities the end of a long iron tang is riveted to the back of the saw; the further
ends of the two tangs are connected by a thin cane cross bar or handle lashed by twine to the
tangs, which are covered with a serving of the same twine. IT is noteworthy that the tangs are
not straight but have a hook-like bend near the attachment to the blade. The latter is a stout
forged iron plate, 2 mm. Thick except for a distance of one inch from the cutting edge where it
is worked down to a thickness of 0.6 mm. Between the tangs the back of the saw if protected by
a piping of iron. A saw of this description costs Rs. 12, each workman providing his own. After
sharpening, a new ssaw is adorned on each side of the blade with a number of red spots as
auspicious marks. In beginning work, the shell is placed somewhat obliquely between the feet,
the apex directed to the right and away from the worker, who places his left hand on one twine-
covered tang of the saw and the other on the horn of the blade at the opposite extremity.
Balancing the saw carefully in his hands, and at right angles to his body, he applies the edge to
the shell and begins a vigorous to and fro movement of the saw from side to side, the course of
the hands being through a short arc of a circle at each swing. Several times he pauses
momentarily to adjust the shell anew as the work progresses. On an average it takes 4 1/2
minutes to saw once through a shell…The rubbing down of the inner surface of the working
circlet is accomplished in an ingenious manner by means of a wooden spindle 18 to 20 inches
long, covered with an abrasive coating of fine river sand embedded in a rough lac basis…In
Bengal and wherever in the adjoining provinces of Assam, Behar and Orissa…every married
woman of all castes which are thoroughly Hinduised is bound to possess a pair of chank bangles
laquered in vermilion as one of the visible tokens of her married state; the red sankha or shakha
as it is called in Dacca is indeed as necessary of assumption during the marriage ceremonies as
is the performance of that other Hindu custom of smearing a streak of vermilion on the forhead
or down the parting of the bride's hair…bala and churi. The former are broad bangles worn on
each wrist. The churi on the contrary is always quite narrow, generally 1/6 to 1/5 inch in widh,
and usually of conventional scroll design worn in a set of three on each wrist…The section of
the Kurmi caste found in Chota Nagpore and Orissa also wear chank bangles…in the hill tracts
of Chittagong, we find the women of the Maghs, a race of Indo-Mongolian extraction and
Buddhists by religion, using very broad unornamented sections of chank shells as
bracelets…considerable demand for chank bracelets comes from Thibet and Bhutan…" (p. 91-

{James Hornell, 1914, The sacred chank of India: a monograph of the Indian conch, turbinella pyrum,
Madras, Madras Fisheris Breau, Bulletin No. 7}.

Sculptural tradition
The tradition of sculptural art in Bha_rata is a legacy of the Sarasvati Sindhu Valley Civilization.

Recumbent mouflon, Mature Harappan period, ca. 2600–1900 B.C. Indus

Valley Marble; L. 11 in. (28 cm) “This powerful sculpture represents a mouflon,
a type of wild sheep native to the highland regions of the Near East. The animal's
head, now partially broken away, is held upward and is twisted to the right,
creating an impression of alertness. The artist has achieved a realistic rendering
of an animal at rest, its weight thrown fully onto its left haunch, and its left hind
leg tucked under its body. The bottom of the statue has been worn away, but it is likely that the
hidden leg was originally indicated there. The entire body is contained within a single unbroken
outline. The horns, ears, tail, and muscles were modeled in relief, although time and secondary use
have flattened the contours on the right side. This combination of closed outline with broadly
modeled masses and a minimum of incised detail is characteristic of animal sculpture from the
Harappan-period levels at the site of Mohenjo Daro in the lower reaches of the Indus River. The
function of these animal sculptures is unknown.”

Sarasvati Cultural Style. (ca. 3300 to 1300 BCE). The so-called Harappan conventions of
building, art style, and technology were remarkably uniform in hundreds of sites. The evidence of
writing was only on seals and tablets and inscriptions on copper plates and weapons. Technology
had advanced in the areas of weights and measures, brickmaking, in gold, silver, bronze and copper
work and in beads of varieties of stones. The underlying basis of the economy was agriculture and
animal husbandry; sites are located close to sources of water, preferably in the flood plains of the
major rivers, Sindhu and Sarasvati. Only very few large sites, perhaps only four or five, which may
be called cities are found.

There is no archaeological or linguistic evidence to assume a dichotomy between the Vedic society
and the Harappan cultural style.

Art of making seals

Stone seals or steatite seals and bosses on them were first cut into shape by a saw, whose thickness
was 0.025 in. (Faience was used for amulets, animal figurines, balls and marbles, beads, button,
finger rings, bracelets, head ornaments, seals, studs, vessels and weights.) The rounding off of the
boss was perhaps done with a knife and finished off with an abrasive. A hole was bored through the
boss from opposite sides. (MIC, II, 377). The Harappan seals found at Kish, Mesopotamia had traes
of oroginal blue or green colouring, indicating the use of glazing techniques. Herbert Beck
concluded that the surface of the seal was painted with some alkali and then subjected to heat (FEM,
346). Marshall felt that the vitreous paste on faience objects was an Indian invention and was
applied to faience. Glaze as mixed with a siliceous powder and manganiferous haematite or red
ochre as pigments, and fired at high temperature; the paste resembled glass in some respects.

The system of writing epigraphs on copper plates continued, which started in the Sarasvati
civilizationperiod, into the historical periods in Bharat to record property transactions and donations
to temples.
Bronze standard 10th - 7th century BCE. A figure, in the centre fights with two
one-horned bulls (?).Bronze horse-bit of Luristan type,
with cheek-pieces showing a sculpturalal ligaturewith an animal's body, wings, and a
horned human head.10th - 7th century BCE.


Bronze axe-head of Luristan type.

It's socket is shaped in the form of a stylized lion's
head,with it's mane ending in four animal heads.10th - 7th
century BCE.

Worker in ivory, sculptor on in stone

A magnificent example of the artistry of an ivory worker. Orissa, 13 cent. CE From Left: 1.
One of the four legs of a throne made of ivory. Hunting-and-battle scenes are *carved out. A
caparisoned horse; a hunter shoots at a deer with his bow. 2. Back view of the throne shown in 1. A
bow is hung around the left hand of the horse-soldier and a quiver filled with arrows is tied on his
back. A circular shield is shown. 3. Side-view of the throne leg shown in1. 4. Another side-view of
the throne leg shown in 1. Lower portion shows a hunter shooting at a deer with his bow. A quiver,
filled with arrows, is tied to the waist of the hunter. [After Pl. IL to LII, GN Pant, 1978, Indian
Archery, Delhi, Agam Kala Prakashan].

The following sculpture is a remarkable evidence of the continuity of the
'ligaturing' traditon evident in the inscriptions of the civilization (with
three-headed animals, fabulous animal and so on). In this sculpture of S'iva,
the head is ligatured with: a human face, a lion's head and an antelope's
head. Cf. Doris Meth Srinivasan, 1997, Many heads, arms and eyes: origin,
meaning and form of multiplicity in Indian art, Leiden, Brill
Three-headed S'iva. Gandhara. 2nd cent. Grey schist 18.6 X 10.5
cm. (MIK I 5888). "Originally the figure had four arms; now only two remain.
He holds the trident (tris'u_la) in the right hand, and a small receptacle
(kaman.d.alu) containing the elixir of life (amr.ta) or holy water in his left. The
long hair is piled high on the top of the head in the ascetic style with the help
of a hair-band (kes'abandha) and is stylized in the shape of flames. In the centre
of the forehead, is a horizontal third eye...The figure wears no ornaments apart
from the sacred threwad (upavi_ta) which passes from the left shoulder across
the naked torso, and a piece of cloth draped over the left upper arm. The figure
is clothed only in a striped (tiger-skin) loin-cloth out of which protrudes an
erect phallus... The very complex iconography of S'iva, which is difficult to
interpret, is further complicated by two animal heads emerging literally from behind his human head. The
head on the right is that of a lion while the other seems to be of an antelope. According to Lobo, the
heads of animals are meant to portray S'iva as the lord of animals, Pas'upati (Palast der Goetter 1992:
176), whether, this is indeed so remains an open question..." (Raffael Dedo Gadebuch, Exhibit 19 in:
Saryu Doshi, ed., 1998, Treasures of Indian Art: Germany's tribute to India's cultural heritage, Delhi,
National Museum, p.29).

Ligaturing as an artistic style continues into the
historical periods as evidenced by the sculpture on a
capping stone of a stupa of the Buddha tradition. It
depicts an elephant ligatured to a kalpa-ratha (sacred vine) and a metaphor for support to the
universe with rain clouds. The yaks.i sculpture on a railing pillar of a stupa evokes the female
figurines of Sarasvati Civilization. A part of the door jamb shows the figures of Yamuna and
Sarasvati rivers personified, together with Kubera and other yaks.a. The R.gvedic adoration of River
Sarasvati as divinity (devitame) continues as a strong cultural tradition in Bharat even to the present
day. Photos courtesy:
Artistic tradition of ligatured forms

One characteristic feature of depiction of forms

of divinities is to endow them with a
multiplicity of forms, some are multi-headed
and some have multiple arms each arm carrying
a particular weapon or presenting a particular

abhaya mudra_, a symbolic representation of the

aspect of protection conveyed by the sculptor
through the unique art form.

There are many inscribed objects with multiple

heads ligatured to the body of an animal. There are
also objects in the round with multiple heads.

Animals are depicted with human features such as horns and human faces. Buffalo horns become
humanized with a ligature to a human face. This is the incipient idea of imbuing divinity in animate
beings and also in objects.

Ligatured sculpture: tiger, bull (or buffalo) and elephant. Nausharo. NS 6.76 cm.
High. Dept. of Archaeology, Karachi. EBK 7712. C. Jarrige, 1982: 132-5. “Hollow three-headed
animal figurine. This complex figurine depicts a tiger with bared teeth, a bull or buffalo head with
punctuated hair spots on the forehead, and possibly an elephant with multiple lines outlining the
eyes. The tiger’s face is finely modeled, but the other animals’ features are less refined. This is the
second such object found at Nausharo, and although comparable figurines have not been reported
from other sites, multiple-headed animals are depicted on seals. Nausharo. Period III, Harappan
2300-2200 BCE.” [JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 219].

Ligatured statuette: elephant, buffalo and feline. Nausharo. NS C. Jarrige, 1992: 132-5. “Hollow three-headed
animal figurine. The most complete figure is of an elephant with a
hollow trunk. Two horns of a water buffalo curve along the cheeks of
the elephant, and the bottom jaw of a feline with bared teeth appears
at the back of the elephant’s head. This complex figure is finely
modeled and incised with delicate strokes to portray the character of
the elephant. Such multiple-headed animals are depicted on seals and
must represent important myths. This object may have been used as a
puppet or sacred figure in a cult ritual. Ca. 2300-2200 BCE.” (JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 219).

Maha_vi_ra (Lit. Great Warrior)

pot. Anthropomorphic. The hero or
warrior carries a dagger on his right
hand. Ca. Mauryan period. Indian
Museum, Calcutta (Acc. No.

Pot. A.
Anthropomorphic pot. Sonkh. Ca.
Mauryan period. Museum fur
Indische Kunst, Berlin (Acc. No. So
64(51). B. A conjectural drawing
[After JAB van Buitenen, 1968, The
Pravargya, Poona].

The following r.ca-s explain the function performed by the pravargya pot which is the soul of the
yajn~a. The pot is to hold ghr.ta or dadhi used in the metallurgical process of reduction by oxidising
the baser elements..
Tvm! m/oSy/ daex?t>/ izrae =?v Tv/cae -?r> ,

Ag?CD> sae/imnae? g&/hm! .

[r.s.i: it.a bha_rgava] 10.171.02 You have carried off the head of the trembling yajn~a from his skin;
come to the dwelling of the presenter of the Soma. [Legend: Yajn~a attempted to escape from the
divinities. Yajn~a assumed a human form, that of a warrior. Indra took the form of an ant and
gnawed at the bowstring and then cut off the head of yajn~a. The head of yajn~a is the pravargya or
preliminary stage of pouring fresh milk into boiling ghi_ (clarified butter)].
c/Tvair/ z&¼a/ Çyae? ASy/ pada/ Öe zI/;ˆR s/Ý hSta?sae ASy ,

iÇxa? b/Ïae v&?;-

/ ae rae?rvIit m/hae de/vae mTyaR/Aa iv?vez .
[r.s.i: va_madeva gautama]4.058.03 Four are his horns; three are his feet; his heads are two, his
hands are seven; the triple-bound showerer (of benefits) roars aloud; the mighty deity has entered
among men. [This verse is preferentially applied to Agni, identified either with yajn~a or with
A_ditya; the four horns of the yajn~a are the four vedas; of A_ditya, the four cardinal points of the
horizon; the three feet of yajn~a are the three daily sacrifices; of A_ditya, morning, noon, evening;
the two heads of yajn~a are two particular ceremonies termed brahmaudanam and pravargya; of
A_ditya, day and night; the seven hands of yajn~a are the seven metres; of A_ditya, the seven rays,
or the six seasons and their aggregate, or the year, the seventh; the term vr.s.abha phala_na_m
var.sita_, the rainer of rewards, applies to yajn~a and A_ditya; so does roraite, he roars, implying
the noise made by the repetition of the mantras of the vedas; the three bonds of yajn~a are: mantra,
kalpa and bra_hman.a, the prayer, the ceremonial; the rationale of A_ditya, the three regions, earth,
mid-air and heaven; another view is to limit vr.s.abha ka_ma_nam vars.ita_ to yajn~a; the four
horns are the priests: the hota_, udga_ta_, adhvaryu and brahma_; the three feet are the three vedas;
the two heads the havirdha_na and pravargya rites; the hands are the seven priests, or seven metres;
the three bonds the three daily sacrifices; Nirukta 13.7 applies the verse to yajn~a].
ià/y< Ê/Gx< n kaMy/m! Aja?im ja/Myae> sca? ,

"/maˆR n vaj?jQ/rae =?dBx>/ zñ?tae/ d->?.

[r.s.i: vavri a_treya]5.019.04 May (Agni) with his two relatives, (heaven and earth), hear this
faultless (praise), acceptable as milk; he who, like the mixed oblation, is filled with food, and
unsubsdued, is ever the subduer of his foes. [He who, like the mixed oblations, is filled with food:
gharmo na va_jajat.harah, he in whose belly is food like the gharmah; the ordinary sense is warm,
hot and day; it is further identified with the ceremony called pravargya: pravargya iva gharmo
yatha_ havyena_jyenapayasa_ sikta_, like the pravargya the gharma, sprinkled with the oblation
butter and milk; gharma = a vessel, a pitcher].
tdœ va<? nra s/nye/ d&lts? %/¢m! Aa/iv;! k«?[aeim tNy/turœ n v&/iòm! ,

d/Xy'œ h/ yn! mXv! Aa?wvR[

/ ae va/m! Añ?Sy zI/:[aR à ydœ $?m! %/vac? .
[r.s.i: kaks.i_va_n dairghatamasa (aus'ija)]1.116.12 I proclaim, leadeers (of sacriifce), for the skae of
acquiring wealth, that inimitable deed which you performed, as the thunder (announces) rain, when
provided by you with the head of a horse. Dadhyan~c, the son of Atharvan, taught you the mystic
science. [Legend: Vana Parva, Maha_bha_rata: gods, being oppressed by the Ka_lakeya asuras,
solicited from the sage Dadhica his bones, which he gave them, and from which Tvas.t.a_ fabricated
the thunderbolt with which Indra slew Vr.tra and routed the asuras. The text: Indra, having taught
the science called pravargya vidya_ and madhu-vidya_ to Dadhyan~c, threatened that he would cut
off his head if ever he taught them to any one else; the As'vins prevailed upon him, nevertheless, to
teach them the prohibited knowledge, and, to evade Indra's threat, took off the head of the sage,
replacing it by that of a horse; Indr, apprised of Dadhyan~c's breach of faith, sturck off his equine
head with the thunderbolt; on which, the As'vins restored to him his own. The pravargya vidya_ is

said to imply certain verses of the r.k, yajur and sa_ma vedas, and the madhu-vidya_ the
A/y< va<? "/maˆR A?iñna/ Staeme?n/ pir? i;Cyte ,

A/y< saemae/ mxu?man! vaijnIvsU/ yen? v&Ç

/ < icke?tw>.
[r.s.i: s'as'akarn;a ka_n.va]8.009.04 This oblation is poured out, As'vin, to you with praise; this
sweet-savoured Soma is offered to you, who are alluent with food, (animated) by which you
meditate (the destruction) of the foe. [Oblation: gharma = pravargyam, a ceremony so-called; also
the name of a sacrificial vessel, as well as of the oblation it contains: gharmasya havis.a
a_dha_rabhu_to maha_vi_ro gharmah].

R.gveda also uses two technical terms: avame_hanti, nime_ghama_na:

6029.Damp: mehra_rna_ to get damp (from air moisture); mehrta'a_na_ to damp (Kur.); mehare to
be damp (as rain)(Malt.)(DEDR 5085). avame_hanti, nime_ghama_na is wet (RV.); me_gha_yate_
becomes cloudy (= me_gham. karo_ti)(Pa_n..)(TS.); meha_b to get wet (Aw.); miha_na_ to become
damp (H.)(CDIAL 10338a). me_hati pisses (RV.); mik to piss (Kho.)(CDIAL 10338). cf. me_ha
urine (Mn.); ame_ha retention of urine (TS.); mi_ze urine (Pr.); mi~_n (Tir.); mo~ (Sh.); mi_ke pl.
urine; mi_k pissing (Sh.)(CDIAL 10337).

The semantics are explained by the shape of the maha_vi_ra pots:

Buxar. A male pot figure. Ca. 1 cent CE. Allahabad Museum
(Acc. No. 5433).

Pot-hero (with horns, seated on a stool and a necklace). Two

views Mathura. Ca. Mauryan period. Russek collection (5751(SU1)
[After Pl. 14.16 in DM Srinivasan].

Kalibangan. Harappan period.

Double-head. [After Illustrated
London News, March 24, 1962].

Mohenjo-daro. Mask with horns

showing a humanized bovine.
Harappan period. [After E. Mackay,
Further Excavations at Mohenjo-
daro, New Delhi, 1938].

Terracotta double-faced head.
Kus’a_n.a period. Lucknow. State
Museum (Acc. No. 6.15/14); b.
Terracotta double-head. Side view of
a; c. Isimu. Mesopotamia. Post-
Akkadian period. Staatliche Museum
zu Berlin (Ac. No. AN 20500). [After
Doris Seth Srinivasan, Pl. 13.12 to

Kot Diji.
Bovine (buffalo) depicted with long horns has a human face.
Harappan period. Islamabad Museum. [Photo and drawing after Dept. of
Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan]. ko_la = woman
(Nahali); ko_l. = planet (Ta.) Rebus: kol ‘metal’ (Ta.) kod.u = horn.
Rebus: kod. = artisan’s workshop (Kuwi)

Bharhut. Double-faced head.

Ca. 2nd century BCE. Muse+um fur
Indische Kunst, Berlin (acc. No.
A Vais.n.ava divinity. Malha_r, Madhya Pradesh. 1
Cent. BCE. The divinity carries a large pat.a, sword
[After Donald M. Stadner].

Vis.n.u carrying a gada_ and a cakra. Sulta_npur, Uttar Pradesh. 10 cent.
CE. Lucknow, State Museum (Acc. No. 0.199).

Vis.n.u. Deogarh,
Gupta period. C. 500 CE.
ASI. Asleep in the Cosmic Ocean,
resting upon A_dis’es.a, the Cosmic
serpent and is attended by deva-s and
asura-s carrying weapons.
Lower panel depicts six warriors
*carrying different weapons:
quiver, spear, sword, cakra (discus),
s’anku (spear), and gada_ (personified
as gada_ devi).
Narasim.ha with Vr.s.n.i vi_ra. The heroes carry a variety of weapons analogous to
the Aanantas’ayana Vis.n.u panel at Deogarh, Madhya Pradesh. Kondamotu, Andhra
Pradesh. Early 4th cent. CE. State Museum, ASI, Hyderabad.

Coin of Va_sudeva I. Oe_so on reverse. A trident and a bow are held by Oe_so. No.
526 in Robert Gobl.,System and Chronologie der Muntzpra_gung des
Kus’a_nreiches, 1984.

Neminatha flanked by Samkars.an.a/Balara_ma and Vasudeva-

Kr.s.n.a. Balara_ma carries a mace on his right hand. Mathura.
Late Kus.a_n.a period. [Govt. Museum, Mathura. Acc No. 342488].

Vis.n.u’s continued association with the Cosmic Waters is depicted in the

Ra_ji_m sculpture symbolised by the Na_ga ra_ja who worships Vis.n.u as
he takes the Third Stride.

Vis.n.u as Trivikrama. Rock-cut sculpture. Cave 3,

Mysore. 6th
cent. DCE.
carries a
number of
gada_, cakra, s’ankha (homonym: s’an:ku, spear),
sword, bow. Trivikrama spans Varun.a of asura-s
of the Nether World, Br.haspati of the deva-s of the upper world and
Vis.n.u for the totality of the universe. In this Ba_da_mi sculpture,
Vis.n.u comes as a tiny brahmaca_rin to confront King Bali and
challenges him as to who could take the longer ‘stride’. The dignity of
the sculpture and the depiction of weapons as powerful protective
symbols of Mankind’s Saviour is breath-taking as it unravels a
profound conception of the totality of opposed moieties.
Vis.n.u Trivikrama and Na_ga. Ra_ji_va Locana temple. Ra_jim, Raipur Dist., M.P. Early 8th cent.

Vis.n.u Trivikrama. One one hand a dagger is held. Mathura. Kus.a_n.a period. Govt. Museum,
Mathura Acc. No. 50.3550 [After Pl. 18.14 in DM Srinivasan].

Vis.n.u with eight arms. A vajra, a dagger and a flat sword (pat.a)
are held. Mathura. 4th cent. CE. [Sothby’s Inc., New York].

Harappa. Lin:gam in
situ in Trench Ai,
Mound F [After Pl. X
© in MS Vats,
Excavations at

Terracotta lin:ga-
cum-yoni. Mature

Harappan (Courtesy ASI)

S’iva lin:ga were found at Mohenjo-daro

and Harappa. The religious tradition of
S’iva worship is a continuing tradition in
Bha_rata. [After Mackay, FEM, Pl. CIV,
#27 and
28 and
bases to
hold the
#24. and
25. The
base #25
is engraved with tre-foil pictorial motifs, an
apparent depiction of divinity associated
with the lin:ga the base holds. Note the two
matching holes on the base #25 and #28 to
hold the lin:ga in position, using rivets.
S’iva. Bhita, Uttar Pradesh. Pan~camukha lin:ga. 2 cent.
BCE. Lucknow, State Museum (Acc. No. H4). Another view [After
photograph by DM Srinivasan, Pl. 14.4].

Shell bangles from burial of an elderly woman at Harappa, c. 2600 BCE;

Wide bangle made from a single conch shell and carved with a chevron motif.
Harappa, c. 2400 BCE. [After Figs. 7.43 and 7.44 in JM Kenoyer, 1998].
Bangles are the traditional ornaments worn by women of
Bha_rata to the present day. There is an example of a middle-
aged adult male with a broken shell bangle that appears to
have been worn on the left wrist. [JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 144].

A sinuous tree with

short leaves. Terracotta
tablet. Harappa H95-2523
(After Fig. 6.3 in JM
Kenoyer, 1998].
Nausharo. Jar with three
papal leaves. Period 1D,
2600 – 2550 BCE [After
Samzun, 1992, Fig. 29.4,
no.2; cf. Fig. 6.4 in JM Kenoyer, 1998]

Harappa. Mount ET
Square molded
tablet. A. one-
horned bull sealing and
script on one side; and B. deity under papal
arch with 13 leaves, and a stylized branch with
three ‘leaves’ projecting from the centre of the
head and a long braid hanging at the back.
Both arms covered with bangles and held at
each side in a formal pose. On other tablet has an arch of 13 leaves; three tablets have seven- and
eight-leaved arches.on the reverse. [After Fig. 6.5 in: JM Kenoyer, 1998].

Many triangular terracotta cakes were found inside hearths and kilns indicating their use to
retain heat during firing of pottery or metals and as packing material to keep the heated objects in
place without dislocation during intense heat. Similar might have been the use of terracotta cones. It
is possible that some of them were used as weights for threads during weaving.

Moulds were used to make intricate designs on figures as

seen from the mould used to make the head of a bull.
(After photo in: http://bosei.cc.u-

Terracotta cones found at Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Could have been used as packing

material while firing terracotta objects such as pottery. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of
Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

Pottery heads, Kish. [After Pl. IX, 8 and 9 in Gregory L. Possehl, ed., 1979, Ancient Cities of the
Indus, Delhi, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.]

Bangles. Blue glass paste . 3.5 in. dia. Harappa.

[After Pl.II in: Gregory L. Possehl, ed., 1979, Ancient
Cities of the Indus, Delhi, Vikas Publishing House Pvt.
Ltd.] The pattern is reproduced on the pannier of a one-horned bull which is a frequently occurring
pictograph on inscribed objects of the civilization.

Three standing figurines attest to the sartorial styles of the

civilization. The left showsa female wearing necklaces and
headdress. The center figurine is a male. Mohenjodaro. (After photo

Wood carving of tribal art around the portal This panel in the Gautam Rishi temple, Goshal
of Gautam Rishi Temple, Goshal; on the left shows na_ga (snakes) carved in; the glyph is
panel is sculpted an antelope looking back and also reminiscent of the glyphs on epigraphs of
on the right panel a jumping tiger is depicted; Sarasvati Civilization.
both glyphs are reminiscent of the epigraphs of
Sarasvati Civilization.

Gautam Rishi Temple at the end of Goshal village, on the bank of River Beas, near
Rohtang Pass, Kullu valley, Himachal Pradesh; Naga shrine is on the right

Statue of a man with a double-bun hair-dress. A fillet around the head. Mohenjodaro.
(After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

Fillet on the head: a symbol of a warrior

Male torso. Harappa, 8.5 cm. high Finely braided or wavy
combed hair tied into a double bun on the back of the head and a
plain fillet or headband with two hanging ribbons falling down the
back. The upper lip is shaved, and a closely cropped and combed
beard lines the pronounced lower jaw. The stylized almond-shaped
eyes are framed b long eyebrows. The wide mouth is similar to that
of the ‘priest-king’ statuette. Stylized ears are made of a double curve
with a central knob. Mohenjodaro Museum. Dales 1985: pl. IIb;
Ardeleanu-Jansen 1984: 139-157.

Male head probably broken from a seated sculpture. Carved

sand-stone head. Mohenjodaro. 13.5 cm. high

Depiction of an Elamite cutting his bow in an Assyrian relief

[After E. Strommenger, 1994, Elamier, Perser und
Babylonier, in: Dietrich, M. and Loretz, O., eds.,
Beschreiben und Deuten in der Archaologie des
Alten Orients: Festschrift fur Ruth Mayer-
Optificius, Munster: Ugarit-Verlag, 312-25: Taf.
1d]. The style of wearing a fillet on his head is

paralled on some
figurines found in SSVC. Limestone. 33.5 cm.
High. Mohenjodaro Museum, MM 432. “Seated
male sculpture with shell inlay still remaining in
one eye. The braided or combed hair lies back
straight, and a plain fillet or ribbon encircles the
head and falls down the back of the neck. Two
strands of a ribbon or braided hair hang over the
shoulder. The stylized ear is a simple cup shape
with a hole in the center. The upper lip is shaved
and a short, combed beard covers the lower jaw.
The forward projecting head and large lips may
reflet a specific personality or may be due to the
particular style of carving. Slight traces of what
may have been a cloak are visible on the back, but
the legs are clearly visible and not totally covered
with a garment as in other sculptures. The left arm
rests on top of the lowered left knee, while the
right hand rests on the upraised right leg. This
sitting pattern is opposite of that seen on most
other sculptures. Other sculptures show the left knee raised and the right knee lowered.” [After JM
Kenoyer, 1998, p.215]

Twisting figure of a male dancer, gray sandstone. Harappa, 8.5 cm. high; conjectural
sketch of dancer from Harappa, after Marshall 1931, fig. 1

Mohenjo-daro. Terracotta figurine. Hair-do (turban?).

[After Marshall, MIC, Pl. XCV, 30]. Perhaps this may
represent ka_kapaks.a described of S’ri Ra_ma in the
Ra_ma_yan.a by Va_lmi_ki.

Three views of the

bronze cast statue
with exquisite hair-
knot tied into a bun
at the back and
wearing a three-
beaded pendant,
bracelets from wrist
to shoulder on one
hand and on the
wrist and elbow on
the right hand
[Marshall, MIC, Pl. XCIV, 6 to 8].

This is distinctly different from the bearded figures shown wearing shawls, with fillets on their
foreheads, clean-shaven beards, almost all bald-headed and some wearing a long pig-tail flowing
down at the back. Priests: statuary [Marshall, MIC, Pl. XCVIII; four views 1 to 4; Pl. C, 1 to 6].

There are statuary showing bearded persons with hair-knots tied into a bun at the back. [Marshall,
MIC, Pl. XCIX, 4 to 9].

Yogin. Seated limestone sculpture. Mohenjodaro.

On the back of the figure, the

hair style can be
reconstructed as composed of
a wide-swath of hair and a
braided lock of hair or ribbon hanging along the right side
of the back. A cloak draped over the edge of the left-
shoulder covers the folded legs and lower body, leaving the right shoulder and chest bare. This style
of leaving the right-shoulder bare is also seen in the statuette of the so-called ‘priest-king’. This
style of wearing the uttari_yam continues in the Bharatiya cultural tradition among yogins, sadhus
and sants. The left arm clasps the left knee and the hand shows underneath the cloak. The right hand
rests on the right knee, which is folded beneath the body. Islamabad Museum. Marshall 1931: 358-
9, pl. C. 1-3. After Figure 5.31, Kenoyer, 1999

The statue of a priest king (National Museum, Karachi), about 2300

BC. Three views of the bronze cast statue with exquisite hair-knot tied into a
bun at the back and wearing a three-beaded pendant, bracelets from wrist to
shoulder on one hand and on the wrist and elbow on the right hand
[Marshall, MIC, Pl. XCIV, 6 to 8].

Mohenjo-daro. Terracotta figurine. Hair-do (turban?). [After Marshall,

MIC, Pl. XCV, 30]. Perhaps this may represent ka_kapaks.a described of
S’ri Ra_ma in the Ra_ma_yan.a by Va_lmi_ki.

This is distinctly different from the bearded figures shown wearing shawls,
with fillets on their foreheads, clean-shaven beards, almost all bald-headed
and some wearing a long pig-tail flowing down at the back. Priests: statuary [Marshall, MIC, Pl.
XCVIII; four views 1 to 4; Pl. C, 1 to 6].

Cotton textile, weaving, and carpet making crafts

A toy bed at Harappa bore this textile impression showing a piece

of tightly woven cloth using uniformly spun thread. (After Harappa
Archaeological Research Project/Courtesy Dept. of Archaeology and
Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).The find relates to the Harappan Phase (c.
2600-1900 BCE). This example shows a fairly tightly woven normal weave.
. [Color representation of the photograph after slide 115 from the Harappa
excavations after 1996.]

Fibers to wrap copper razor

A copper razor (H2000/2164-01) was found in the debris layers at the edge of the
kiln dump in Trench 54. Wrapped with fibers, pseudomorphs and impressions of
which are preserved in the in the corroded copper, this type of curved razor may
have been used in the making of textiles such as carpets. [After slide 196 from the
Harappa excavations after 1996.]

Cotton, Gossypium arboreum, was found at Mohenjodaro. Fibres of cotton were discovered
adhering to a silver vase at Mohenjo-Daro (Turner and Gulati, 1928), and several faiences and
vessels from Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa had impressions of woven fabric made of finely spun
thread (Marshall, 1931).

While the production of cotton, embroidery and woolen fabrics may be surmised as crafts of the
civilization, direct archaeological evidence is lacking. However, the figurines of male and female
show wearing skirts and cloaks. Cotton was said to have been imported from Meluhha according to
Mesopotamian texts. Recent excavations at Harappa have produced evidence of many plain-weave
fabric impressions on the interior of faience vessels. “The uniform thickness of threads in a single
piece of fabric and the tight weave reflected by these impressions indicate the use of spinning
wheels… Traces of cotton fabric were identified at Mohenjo-daro where they were preserved by
contact with a corroding silver jar. Many examples of cotton thread and fabric were identified on
copper tools. At Harappa possible cotton threads were foud wrapped around the handle of a small
copper mirror from a female burial and also around the handle of a curved copper razor…Indirect
evidence for the production of carpets has been found in the Indus cavities in distinctive curved
copper/bronze kinives that are functionally very similar to the curved blades used today for cutting
the knotted threads of pile carpets…Weaving and carpetmaking were undoubtedly important
household or cottage industries throughout the Indus Valley and may have contributed to the exports
traded to Mesopotamia and neighbouring regions.” (Marshall, Mohenjo-daro and the Indus
Civilization. AN Gulati and AJ Turner. A Note on the Early History of Cotton. Bulletin 17.
Technological Series 12, Bombay, Indian Central Cotton Committee, 1928; Ernest JH Mackay,
Further Excavations at Mohenjodaro, New Delhi, Government of India, 1938, p. 440; JM Kenoyer,
1998, Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, OUP, p. 159).

One use of circular platforms inside smaller buildings may be surmised in the context of dyeing
textiles. “Even though these circular platforms were found near the granary, it is important to note
that they were constructed inside smaller buildings and that they belong to many different building
phases. In other words, there is little to suggest a connection between the circular platforms and the
so-called granary…In the VS area of Mohenjo-daro, a room with specially prepared brick basins, a
water-tight floor and corner drain may have been a workshop for starching or dyeing cloth. A brick
dust bin for garbage and a square sump pit connected to a drain are visible across the street.” (JM
Kenoyer, 2000, Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, OUP, p. 65, p. 128.)

Gundestrup cauldron and Sarasvati Civilization glyphs

Artistic motifs and cultural icons do travel far and wide – and, over time: see glyphs on the
Gundestrup cauldron and parallels with inscribed objects of Sarasvati Sindhu Civilization. The
parallels are too vivid and emphatic to be brushed aside as mere chance coincidences. A note on the
Gundestrup cauldron is appended.

Dholavira. Stone sculpture of monitor


This is comparable to the glyphs of the

lizard which appear on many seals and
tablets containing epigraphs of the
Sculpting in stone is a tradition traceable to exquisite
miniature figurines of faience made
in Mohenjodaro, circa 4500 years
before present.

Mohenjodaro. Faience squirrel.

Mohenjodaro. Faience monkey.

Stone sculptural tradition. Sanchi stupa stone panel, 1 century
BCE Warriors are shown riding horned lions.

Dhameka Stupa in Sarnath, 500 CE

The architectural excellence finds an early, utilitarian

expression in the rock-cut reservoirs of Dholavira and the
tradition continues in the building of step-walls in many
parts of the country. “Water. It is revered whenever it's
hard to find, in places where the dry and draining heat
burns for months on end, where monsoon rains visit only in
summer, then vanish. To cope with this parched life, the
people of western India more than a 1000 years ago built
wells. But not the holes in the ground we know as wells,
these were ornate, magnificent, maze-like structures made of stone, some 90 feet deep.

Stepwells; respite from the heat and hallowed receptacle for that essential water. A place to bathe, to
drink, and to pray.” [cf. Morna Livingstone, Milo Beach, 2002, Steps to Water; The Ancient
Stepwells of India."]

Nalanda. Stupa.

Sculpture in
stone depicting
a person seated
and holding a
round stone in
his right hand

Pattadakkal. Stone sculpture of Bhairava on a panel. Bhairava is depicted as wearing a long
necklace of stone beads.

Badami, Karnataka. Stone panel depicting S’iva dancing with

12 hands and Ganes’a standing nearby.

Pattadakkal. Temple s’ikhara.

Ellora caves created between

th th
4 and 10 centuries CE are magnificent examples of rock-cut
architecture [over 200,000 tons of
rock to a depth of 100 ft were
removed], a tradition which can be traced to the rock-cut
reservoirs of Dholavira.

This tradition of scooping out rocks to create caves and of sculpting

in stone as an artistic medium has to be viewed in the context of the
tradition evolved in sites like Dholavira in creating rock-cut
reservoirs, ring-stones (as structural support) and even a monitor
lizard sculpted in the round. The tradition of scooping out stone also
finds its architectural echoes in the caves of central Bharat and

Ring-stones constituted a structural support

and in layers, constituted a pillar to create
multi-storeyed structures. http://bosei.cc.u-

Sarasvati_. The legend shown on Bhita sealing, together with a ghat.a. Indian Museum, Calcutta
No. A. 11254-NS. 1958 The association of Sarasvati_ with a ghat.a, water-pot is
significant and relates to River Sarasvati_.

Many pictorial motifs which recur on inscribed objects of Sarasvati Civilization

are seen on ancient seals of the historical period of Bha_rata. It is notable that most
of the later-day seals using the motifs of Sarasvati Sindhu Valley Civilization
(SSVC) are relatable to royalty or military offices, to crafts and trade: nigama,
kulika, ta_mboli_, ca_turvidya (learning of the four Veda). The devices such as the jar, cakra, zebu,
persons seated in yogic posture, dotted circle, tree, svastik_, water-carrier, three-hills seem to have
attained auspicious connotations, since the devices are apparently unrelated to the inscriptions
mostly in Bra_hmi script (as also evidenced in the as.t.aman:galaka ha_ra on Bharhut sculptures of

Copper signet, Kaus’a_mbi, Allahabad Museum, no. 100: seal impression [After
Pl. 1,1b in: Kiran Kumar Thaplyal, 1972, Studies in Ancient Indian Seals,
Lucknow, Akhila Bharatiya Sanskrit Parishad] The device is a pair of antelopes
with their hands turned back. There are many epigraphs of the civilization with
such glyphs of antelopes with their heads turned backwards.

Sealing of king Abhaya (legend: Ra_jn~(o) Abhaya(sya), Rajghat,

Bharat Kala Bhavan, no. 6049. Device: humped bull (Zebu?)[After Pl.
II,4 in: Thaplyal, 1972]

Sealing of the pradha_na in Kr.mila_

vis.aya, Nalanda, Indian Museum,
Calcutta. Device: tree. [After Pl. XII,4
in: Thaplyal, 1972]

Clay lump bearing impression of the

seal of the offices of (a)
kuma_ra_ma_tya and (b) bala,
Ahichchatra_, Antiquity section of the
ASI, New Delhi, No. AC II 4448. 2. Sealing of the military office attached to
the Yuvara_ja-bhat.t.a_raka, Basarh, Indian Museum, Calcutta, No. A
11315—NS 6159.
Sealing of Kulika S’a_libhadra, Basarh, Indian Museum, Calcutta, No. A 18499-NS 6195. 2.
Sealing of S’resht.hi-sa_rtthava_ha-kulika-nigama, Basarh, Indian Museum, Calcutta, No. A 18459-
NBS 6205. 3. Clay lump bearing impressions of the seals of (a) Prathaka-kulika Ugrasim.ha and (b)
Gomisva_mi, Basarh, Indian Museum, Calcutta, No. A 18600-NS 6205. 4. Sealing of a ta_mboli_,
Kumrahar, KP Jayaswal Res. Instt., Patna. 5. Sealing of S’res.t.hi-sa_rthava_ha-prathama-kulika-
nigama, Basarh (vais’a_li), Directorate of Arch. And Mus., Bihar Govt.,
Patna, No. 273 G. 6. Clay lump bearing two impressions – (i) cakra and the
legend namastasmai and (ii) of Kulika Hari, Basarh, Indian Museum,
Calcutta, No. A 18684. 7. Sealing of a Nigama, Rajghat, Bharat Kala
Bhavan, No. 6376. [After Pl. XXV in: Thaplyal, 1972]

Sealing of the Ca_turvidya of Ra_jagr.ha, Nalanda, Indian Museum, Calcutta. The device includes
two persons seated in yogic posture paralleling similar postures on SSVC inscribed objects. [After
Pl.XXVII, 5 in: Thaplyal, 1972]

Sealing with the device of six nandipada-s around a circle enclosing a dot, Sankisa, Dept.
of AIH and Arch., Lucknow University. Device: dotted circle. [After Pl.
XXXII,10 in Thaplyal, 1972]

Sealing, device of a tree on a platform, Kaus’a_mbi_,

Allahabad Museum, No. 259. [After Pl. XXXII, 3 in:
Thaplyal, 1972]

Sealing showing the device of ‘Ujjain’ symbol and a yu_pa

in railing, Rajghat, Bharat Kala Bhavan, No.
6459. [After Pl. XXXIV, 3 in: Thaplyal,

Sealing, yu_pa in railing and man with a

bahangi (water-carrier paralleling the SSVC pictorial motif)
and a hollow cross, Sonpur, Directorate of Mus. And
Arch., Bihar Govt., Patna.

Sealing with the device of a svastika_ within a

circular border, Sonpur, Directorate of Mus. And
Arch., Bihar Govt., Patna.

Sealing with two impressions: a. crescent over a three-

arched hill, a taurine and a human figure; b. tree (?) in
railing and crescent over a three-arched ‘hill’, Rajghat,
Bharat Kala Bhavan, No. 6456.


Double-spiral on a copper pin

at Manda, Himachal Pradesh
(c. 3rd millennium BCE)

This double-spiral motif occurs both at Harappa

and Ur in the context of depicting a godess.

Head-dress of a terra-cotta godess

figurine .(Left) Harappa. Right: Double-spiral, a
symbol of a Babylonian godess. [After Pl.IV, 7
and 8 in: Gregory L. Possehl, ed., 1979, Ancient
Cities of the Indus, Delhi, Vikas Publishing
House Pvt. Ltd.]

Vis’varu_pa. S’a_mala_ji, Vis’ra_magha_t. sixth century CE. [After Pl. 11.1 in: Doris Meth
Srinivasan, Many heads, arms and eyess: origin, meaning and form of multiplicity of Indian art, in:
Jan Fontein, ed., Studies in Asian Art and Archaeology]. This extraordinary sculpture is a veritable
museum in itself of all the arms and armour of the warriors of Bha_rata. Almost all the weapons and
armour of the times are seen on the many forms of S’a_mala_ji depicted like branches of a tree
above the triple-headed divinity. The armourer, ivory-carver and the sculptor are products of the
tradition of valour, the heritage of the establishment of the Bha_rata ra_s.t.ra.

Like the as.t.aman:galaka ha_ra worn by the

Yaks.i in Bharhut sculpture, S’iva
As.t.amu_rti panel in Can.d.ika_devi temple,
6th century CE is also a depiction of the
weapons carried by different forms of the
divinity and the postures of abhaya connoted
by the mudra_ of the hands. The two forms
flanking S’iva in the lower register are seen
each carrying a tris’u_la and a dhanus. [After
photography by Michael W. Meister]


vil.akku: the bowl on the right hand of the statue may have been used as a
lamp. Two views.
Bronze/copper. Mohenjo- daro. 13.cm. high; 4.7 cm.
NMK 50.883; DK 12 728; Mackay, 1938: 274, pl.
LXXIII.9-11. Cire perdue technique.

Mohenjo-daro. Bronze figure wearing bangles, holding a small bowl in

her right hand. Hair is tied in a horizontal bun hanging low on the back of the
neck. Traces of long-almond-shaped eyes are visible. Bangles adorn the upper
left arm and a few bangles are indicated above the right elbow. Bronze sculpture
shows a high level of skill in modeling and lost-wax casting, a technology which
continues to the present day throughout Bha_rata. [After Fig. 7.24 in JM
Kenoyer, 1998].

Mehrgarh. Terracotta figure, with elaborate coiffure and ornaments from Period

VI at Mehrgarh (ca. 3000 BCE)

Terracotta figurine, Mohenjodaro.

Terracotta female figurines, Mohenjodaro, wearing jewellery (cf.

Allchin, 1982, Fig. 8.14) Harappa. Female terracotta figure with four flowers
arranged on the front part of a fan-shaped headdress. Two cups are on
either side which might have been used as lamps.

Mohenjo-daro. Terracotta. 188.7 cm.

High. Marshall 1931: 338, pl. XCIV,14.
‘Female figurine heavily adorned with six
graduated strands of chokers and
pendant bead necklaces. A triple-strand belt
supporting a short skirt is closed with a
triple- component clasp possibly like the
bronze terminals on the massive carnelian bead
belts. The head has a fan-shaped headdress
with braided hair along the edges of what
were once cup-shaped side pieces. The head
and body may actually belong to different
figurines.” [JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 221].

Durga_, the warrior-godess. Mathura. She has a lion as her va_hana, carries a tris’u_la and a
dagger in her hands. circa. 2nd cent. CE. Museum fur Indische Kunst, Berlin (Acc. No. MIK I 5894).

godess. The
lion, her
va_hana is
seated to her left
as she grapples
with the buffalo-
headed asura;
she carries a
tris’u_la on her
left hand.
period. Mathura,
Govt. Museum
(Acc. No. 2317)
[After Pl. 20.2 in
DM Srinivasan].

Durga_ (Skt.)
means a fort.
Durga, and
Sarasvati_ are
divinities who
protect and
nurture a
civilization. This
is Bharatiya tradition with roots found in Sarasvati Civilization. The analyses of settlements reveals
a remarkable penchant for building fortifications.

Carving of capital in Mallikarjuna temple, Kuruvatti, 10 century CE

Settlements and forts

Settlement – 250 hectares --at Mohenjodaro, circa 2600 to 1900 BCE. An aerial view.
‘Citadel’ area is on a separate mound seen on the right center of the aerial photo. (After
Georg Helmes/German Research Project at Mohenjodaro).

Mohenjodaro. Western mound built on an artificial platform, 11 m. above the plain.
Includes the Great Bath. The stu_pa is built above the ruins. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy
Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan).

Settlements, citadels and forts

A characteristic feature of the urban realm of Sarasvati Civilization is that the settlements were well
planned and created. In settlements such as Lothal, and Kalibangan, mudbrick foundation platforms
of massive dimensions were laid out before the settlement was constructed upon them, to ensure that
the settlement was well above the level of the flood waters, in the case of settlements on river-banks
and well above the level of high waves resulting from sea incursions, in the case of settlements close
to the coast. A term ‘citadel’ is normally applied to such areas of the settlement constructed on a
walled mound on a higher elevation. The following list provides the list of such identified citadels.

Settlement Estimated Locus

Harappa 150 ha Ravi river
Mohenjodaro 250 ha Sindhu River
Ganweriwala 80 ha Sarasvati River
Rakhigarhi 80 ha Drishadvati River
Dholavira 100 ha Port, Gulf of Kutch
Sotka Koh 16 ha Shadi Kaur River, Makran coast
Sutkagen Dor 4.5 ha Dasht River, Makran coast
Surkotada 1.4 ha Gulf of Kutch
Balakot 2.8 ha Coast west of Sindhu
Banawali 16 ha Sarasvati River
Desalpur 1.3 ha Gulf of Kutch
Lothal 4.8 ha Bhogava River, Gulf of Khambat
Kalibangan 11.5 ha Sarasvati River
Mitathal 7.2 ha Drishadvati River

The forts on the banks of River Sarasvati and River Sindhu constructed during the historical periods
is a continuity of this phenomenon of protecting settlements with durga ‘forts’.

Computer Graphics Reconstruction of Dholavira (2001)

A view of the entire city with its "Citadel", "Lower Town" and "Middle Town"
surrounded by square walls

The "Citadel" (left), and the "Lower Town" and "Middle Town" (right)

Close -up of the "Citadel"
“The city was surrounded by a series of square walls, with a "Citadel" which rises 15 meters above
the "Middle Town" and the "Lower Town". A signboard with ten huge Indus signs found on the
floor of a room at the North Gate was probably originally displayed above the gateway. Although
the Indus script written on the signboard is still undeciphered, it is likely that the inscription
represents the name of the city or the name of a god or a ruler.” [Supervisor for the computer
graphics: R. S. Bisht (Archaeological Survey of India) Computer graphics: Osamu Ishizawa,
Yasuyo Iwata and Nobuyuki Matsuda (Taisei Corporation) in collaboration with NHK. Photos
courtesy: http://bosei.cc.u-tokai.ac.jp/~indus/english/2_4_03.html See Ancient Civilization City
State Virtual Trip by Tasisei Corporation: http://www.taisei-kodaitoshi.com/index.html]
Harappa. Curved re-entrant and gateway

Harappa was a fortified settlement with a re-entrant

gateway Also shown is the
flood deposit against the
fortification walls. [After Pl. I,
II and III in: SR Rao, 1991,
Dawn and devolution of the
Indus Civilization, New Delhi,
Aditya Prakashan]. The
fortification may have been
necessitated by the
control flood deposits
and also to protect the metal product storages
(granary, worker platforms).

Harappa. Flood deposit (behind the

standing figure in the upper terrace sealing the

There are statuary showing bearded persons with hair-knots tied into a bun at the back. [Marshall,
MIC, Pl. XCIX, 4 to 9].

Marot. Fort. The remains of fortifications and abandoned

dwellings. Southern fortification wall of Marot fort. “Marot
was once an important commercial centre located on an
ancient route between Multan and Delhi, which passed
through Sirsa and Hansi during the Medieval period. The
existing ruins of Marot reportedly occupy an ancient place
which according to traditions was founded by one of the
rulers of Chittor during pre-Islamic times. It contained a
number of religious shrines including a temple of the Jains.
Ornamental pillars of yellow sandstone with excessive
carvings (now in Bahawalpur Museum) reflect the former
significance of the shrines. By twelfth century CE, Marot
assumed strategic importance as well and emerged as a strong
military outpost. Nasiruddin Qabacha, the local ruler of Uchh
was once stationed at Marot. The place was visited by the
famous historian Minhajuddin Siraj in 1250 CE. During
Akbar’s time, a contingent of 200 horsemen and 1l000 infantry was stationed at Marot.” [After Pl.
129 and 130 in: Mohammad Rafique Mughal, 1997, Ancient Cholistan: archaeology and
architecture, Rawalpindi, Ferozsons Pvt. Ltd., pp. 132-3]. There is an apparent need for further
archaeological work in this fort area to excavate the sites related to the SSVC and proto-historical
periods prior to CE.

A_gama heritage of the Sarasvati Sindhu Valley Civilization

The earliest shrine of

Bha_rata may perhaps be
related to the finds of a
shrine at Mohenjo-daro.

Temple: Mesopotamia
(Left), Garbha-gr.ha:
Bharat (Right):

Paved with glazed bricks

and having a conduit or
drain (B) resembles the shrine at Mohenjo-daro. The
picture taken at Ur shows a Babylonian sactuary : A is the altar; and C is the upper court adjacent to
the shring (B). [After Pl.V in: Gregory L. Possehl, ed., 1979, Ancient Cities of the Indus, Delhi,
Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.]

Mohenjo-daro. With flooring and conduit of glazed bricks resembling those of Ur; a pre-historic
shrine . This may be the earliest representation of a garbha-gr.ha which becomes the standard
practice in temple construction according to the a_gama-s. [After Pl.I in: Gregory L. Possehl, ed.,
1979, Ancient Cities of the Indus, Delhi, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.]

The brick-work at Mohejo-daro is comparable to the brick-work found in the outer wall of Ur, with
a drain of burnt bricks. [After Pl.V in: Gregory L. Possehl, ed., 1979, Ancient Cities of the Indus,

Delhi, Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.]

While burnt-brick construction is the

vogue in settlements such as
Mohenjodaro and Harappa, in the
settlements such as Dholavira, Kot
Diji and Surkotada, limestone
masonry is used extensively,
adapting to the locally available
building materials.

(Photos courtesy: http://bosei.cc.u-


The techniques which evolved in Dholavira for creating rock-cut

reservoirs continued into the historical periods with the construction
of man-made caves in mountains and building pus.karin.i-s (water-
tanks) comparable to the bathing tanks found in Mohenjodaro.

Ringstone bases for wooden columns found in several
side verandahs in the gateways of the citadel at
Dholavira. ASI, New Delhi.

Massive ringstones of limestone found along one street

in HR area of Mohenjodaro. ASI, New Delhi.

This ability to carve into large stones finds an application in later

historical periods: construction of man-made caves, over 200 of
which are found in Vidarbha region alone.

Mohenjo-daro. DK
Area. Jewellery find
area is in the centre,
close to the lane. Block
numbers in Arabic,
house numbers in
Roman and Room numbers in small Arabic numerals.
[After Pl. LXV, MIC].

The Great bath within the citadel area.

Kalibangan: Pre-harappan houses.

Mohenjo-daro: Peripheral wall withThis settlement also had a citadel as
salients; this could have served as a distinct from a lower town. A fortification
fortification wall with gateways and guard wall skirted the citadel which is seen on
rooms as in many other settlements of the the right.
civilization. Mohenjo-daro: A street in the citadel.

Computer graphics reconstruction of the "Lower Town" of Mohenjodaro.


reconstruction of the "Great Bath" and the "Granary" by Fujitsu Co. Aerial photograph of the Great
Bath and the Granary : Courtesy of Prof.M.Jansen(RWTH, Aachen

City planning

“The "Lower Town" was divided into a number of blocks

by a grid of straight streets running north-south and east-
west, and each block was further divided by small lanes.
Some houses had rooms with wells, bathing rooms (paved
with baked bricks) and even toilets. Waste water was
drained out of the houses through drain chutes built into
the side walls that fed into a system of drains built
alongside the lanes and streets.” http://bosei.cc.u-
Mohenjo-daro. Great Bath showing access routes.
[After Jansen 1993, fig. 50].

Plan of the granary at Mohenjo-daro. [After Wheeler,

1968, fig. 9].

It may be seen the bath drain from the Great bath

runs at the edges of the granary. If the granary was a
place where the copper/bronze weapons were stored
for trade, the drain can be explained as the water-
body used to cool the moulded copper/bronze
objects. This possibility is re-inforced by the
perception that the great bath may not have served as
a public bathing place. “Rooms are located along the
eastern edge of the building (surrounding the bath):
in one room is a well that may have supplied some of
the water needed to fill the tank. Rainwater also may have been collected for this purpose, but to
inlet drains have been found. It is unlikely that this elaborate building was used simply for public
bathing, because just to the north is a substantial building containing eight small rooms with the
more common bathing platforms. Most scholars agree that this tank was used for special religious
functions where water was used to purify and renew the well being of the bathers…

Baked brick buildings with 9 m. wide street. DK-G area in Mohenjodaro. (After Fig. 3.1,
Kenoyer, 2000).

“Located on the western edge of the mound at

the southwest corner of the great bath, the
foundation of this building (granary) appears
to have been constructed before the great bath,
whose exit drain cuts across the northeast
corner of the foundation. Built on top of a
tapered brick platform, this building had a
solid brick foundation that extended for 50
meters east west and 27 meters north south.
The foundation was divided into 27 square and
rectangular blocks of narrow passageways,
two running east west and eight running north
south (one additional north south passageway was added at a later stage). Some of these blocks had
square sockets for holding wooden beams of pillars. We think the entire super structure was made of
timbers. Wheeler identified a brick-paved staircase 4.5 meters wide that led from the southwestern edge
of the structure to the plain level. A brick-lined well was located at the foot of the stairs, and a small
bathing platform was found at the top of the stairs. To the north of the structure was a terraced platform
with numerous sockets for wooden beams and an alcove that Wheeler interpreted as a loading dock. To
the north of the terrace was a low courtyard or open area and two additional wells…A more appropriate
name for this structure would be the great hall, since it was clearly a large and spacious building with
wooden columns and many rooms.” (JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 64).

View of the Bath in the

northern half of the citadel
mound at Mohenjo-daro which
evokes the tradition of pus.kara
as a sacred pun.ya ti_rtha close
to a temple. The so-called
granary of Mohenjo-daro is
visible in the background as
square blocks.

Terracotta model providing architectural features such as
windows or doorways of a house. “The house depicted in this model
may have originally had two stories since part of an upper threshold is
preserved.” http://bosei.cc.u-tokai.ac.jp/~indus/english/2_2_04.html

made it stronger and more durable.

Brick, Mohenjodaro.

House excavation, perhaps that of a
merchant. The initial impression of the civilization was
that of great commercial cities, such as Mohenjodaro and
Harappa, that linked economic regions, but now it seems
these cities were marginal to the true focus further East and
South, among a large
number of settlements on
the banks of River
Sarasvati not far from
the Khetri copper mines
and the coastal regions
of the Gulf of
Khambat and Gulf of

Terracotta scale, showing graduations. Kalibangan.

Street flanked by single

story houses in
Kalibangan, Period I (2450-2300 B.C.).

Recent excavations at Harappa were begun in 1986 by the American

team of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project jointly with the
Department of Archaeology and Museums of Pakistan.

The site was inhabited continuously from at least 3300 B.C. until several hundred years after the
decline of the Civilization (the "Cemetery H" Culture at Harappa), which represents one of the
longest periods of occupation at any Indus site. Courtesy, Harappa Archaeological Research Project.

Mohenjodaro. Water-
Mohenjodaro, lane between borne sewerage
houses. system Drain, Mohenjodaro.

Each house, large or small, was provided with earthenware pipe fitted crossways into the walls and
opening into a small individual gutter. This in turn, joined central covered sewers. At intervals there
were decantation ditches where the main sewers joined. These were designed to collect the heavy
waste so that it would not obstruct the mains.

A street plan of Mohenjo-daro

Several wide streets run from north to

south and from east to west through the

Smaller streets and alleys intersect the

main roads. Doorways of houses
generally open onto these alleys rather
than the main roads.

Mohenjodaro. Urban settlement built upon a platform.

Most urban settlements are divided into different areas. Usually, there is one area of the city built on
a high platform. This area is often surrounded by walls and entered by passing through a gate.

This higher area of the city may have been the center for religious or administrative activities, or

Kot Diji
Kot Diji fort.
The site of
Kot Diji is
located at the
foot of a
range of
hills in
northern Sind
on the eastern
bank of the Sindhu River, some 60 kilometers
northeast of Mohenjo daro. Excavated in
1955 by F. A. Khan, it is the type- site of Kot
Diji Culture, which represents the first evidence of habitation at the site. This culture is
characterized by the use of the red-slipped globular jar with a short neck painted with a black band.
Briefly coexisting with the Harappan Culture, the Kot Diji Culture eventually gave way to the
blossoming Sarasvati Civilization.
During the peak of the Kot Diji Culture, the site was divided into a "Citadel" and a "Lower Town".
Standardized bricks, terracotta cakes, fish-scale and intersecting-circle designs on pottery and other
traits found in the Indus Civilization were already in use at the site. On the basis of this evidence
and the fact that similar artifacts were found over much of the vast area of the later Sarasvati (or
Sarasvati-Sindhu) Civilization, Dr. M. R. Mughal suggested calling this early stage at Kot Diji and
at other sites the "Early Harappan Culture".
Amri is also located in Sind (Pakistan) on the western bank
of the Indus River, approximately 150 kilometers south of
Mohenjo daro. The site was excavated by N. G. Majumdar in
1929 and by J.-M. Casal between 1959 and 1962. The site
reached its maximum extent of over six hectares under the
influence of the Balochistan Culture. A number of structures
identified as granaries were constructed, which suggests that
there were farm surpluses and population growth. Pottery
from the early period at this site is similar to the Nal pottery
of southern Balochistan and is thus sometimes referred to as
"Amri-Nal" pottery.
During the transitional phase with the Harappan Culture (or Indus Civilization), a wall encircled the
site and a platform made of sun-dried bricks was constructed inside. A thick layer of ash over parts
of the site suggests an incident with fire, after which the site exhibits the exclusive influence of the
Harappan Culture.

Balochistan hills

”Early farming village

cultures developed
throughout the
Balochistan hills after
7000 B.C. Situated
geographically between
the Iranian plateau and
the Indus plain, the area is
a natural zone for
interaction between the
two regions, and
evidence for cultural
influence from the
West is found even in
these early


”Mehrgarh is located at the foot of the Balochistan hills on the Kachi plain
southeast of Quetta, situated strategically near the Bolan Pass. Consisting of
four mounds, the site was excavated by the French team for eleven seasons
between 1974 and 1985. The habitation of the site has been divided into
seven periods, the first being the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period that dates to
circa 7000 B.C. or even earlier. The site was abandoned between 2000 and
2500 B.C. during a period of contact with the Indus Civilization and then
reused as a burial ground for some time after 2000 B.C.
Perhaps the most important feature of Mehrgarh is the fact that one can witness
its gradual development from an early village society to a regional center that covered an area of 200
hectares at its height. In the course of this development, a huge platform that may reflect some form of
authority was constructed at the site. Mehrgarh was also a center of manufacture for various figurines and
pottery that were distributed to surrounding regions.”
”Situated on the Kachi plain approximately 10 kilometers
southwest of Mehrgarh is Nausharo, excavated by the French
team between 1980 and 1998. The site was first occupied at
around 2800 B.C. before the Harappan period under the
influence of the early farming cultures of Balochistan. The
material culture of the site indicates that the site fell under
Harappan influence or occupation by circa 2500 B.C. and
reverted to the Balochistan cultures by 2100 - 2000 B.C. This
is the period when new summer crops such as rice were
introduced into the Kachi plain in peripheral regions where the Indus Civilization had formerly

Lothal. Ware -house with intersecting air-vents and passages between cubical platforms
[After SR Rao, 1985]

Granary/Public building? The series of stacking

places on either side of the aisle indicate that some heavy, perhaps metallic products might have
been stored in this warehouse.

The ancient Indus cities were built with baked

brick and included some monumental buildings
such as the Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro. In the
background is a later Buddhist period stupa. Courtesy of
the Department of Archaeology and Museums,
Government of Pakistan. The ‘great bath’ is the model
for many stone step wells of Bharat constructed during
historical periods.

Map of Bharat showing locations of the architectural styles
( from "History of Indian and Eastern Architecture" by James Fergusson, 1st ed. )

Woodcut of Kali Temple in Bankura in Dasyu
style ( from "History of Indian and Eastern
Architecture" by James Fergusson, 1st ed. )

The architecture of this Kali temple of Bankura is comparable to the ‘pre-islamic’ shrine, a minara
at Pattan Minara on the banks of River Sarasvati. The architectural history of Bharat has to be re-
written from the perspective of continuity of the traditions which evolved on the banks of River
Sarasvati, a personified divinity adored as the divinity of arts and crafts.

Suraj Pol (Gate of the Sun) to the Citadel of Jaisalmer comparable to the gateway with a
sign-board at the northern gate of Dholavira
Photo courtesy: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/arc/ind/jaisalmer/xgate.htm

View of a part of the citadel from old palace, Jaisalmer; the brick constructions resemble
the brick-linings of wells in Mohenjodaro.

Stone step-wells of Bharat

The conception of space below the earth and above the earth on mounds as a stepped series in
harmony with spiritual nature of waves of water and the nature of the mound itself is a profound
architectural principle in Bharatiya architecture, a tradition which dates back to the construction of
pus.kara in Mohenjodaro or a scooped out rock-cut reservoir for storing water in Dholavira or the
use of ‘citadels’ on massive platforms to organize for life-activities of Bharatiya, as a cooperative
endeavour. The key architectural organizing principle which continues as an abiding Bharatiya
tradition, is: spiritual harmony with the cosmos and the pun.yabhu_mi, sacred earth, a_pah, sacred

Great kun.d.a (stepped cistern or well) at Abaneri, 9 century CE

Jaina temple city, atop Mount Shatrunjaya, Palitana

Jaina temple city, Mount Girnar

An outstanding achievement of Bharatiya civilization is the architecture in stone adorned with stone
sculptures and rock-cut viha_ra-s and many forts built in stone. Breath-taking are the stepped wells
of Gujarat and Rajasthan many of which are over 1,000 years’ old. Over 120 such wells are
founding Gujarat. These are called bawari or baoli in Rajasthan. [cf. ba_vi stepped well (Telugu)]
“From the 5th to the 19th centuries, the people of western India built stone cisterns to collect the
water of the monsoon rains and keep it accessible for the remaining dry months of the year. These
magnificent structures - known as stepwells or stepped ponds - are much more than utilitarian
reservoirs. Their lattice-like walls, carved columns, decorated towers and intricate sculpture make
them exceptional architecture, while their very presence tells much about the region's ecology and

Panna Mia stepped-pond. [After Morna Livingstone, Milo Beach,

2002, Steps to Water; The Ancient Stepwells of India.]

Vasant Garh stepped-pond,

Rajasthan [After Morna
Livingstone, Milo Beach, 2002,
Steps to Water; The Ancient
Stepwells of India.]

Hadi Rani Well, Toda

Raisingh, Rajasthan
[After Morna
Livingstone, Milo Beach, 2002, Steps to Water; The Ancient
Stepwells of India.]

Rani-ki-vav, Patan, Gujarat [After Morna

Livingstone, Milo Beach, 2002, Steps to
Water; The Ancient Stepwells of India.]

Nimrana stepwell, Rajasthan [After Morna

Livingstone, Milo Beach, 2002, Steps to Water;
The Ancient Stepwells of India.]

Stepped well in S’iva vadi

temple, Bikaner [After Morna Livingstone, Milo Beach,
2002, Steps to
Water; The Ancient
Stepwells of India.]

Cistern, Nahgarh
fort, Jaipur [After Morna Livingstone, Milo Beach, 2002,
Steps to Water; The Ancient Stepwells of India.]
Diffusion of domesticated agriculture iii

Kalibangan. The earliest ploughed field in the world so far known. The techniques of
furrowing, use of ploughs and solid-wheel carts drawn
by bullocks are in use even today, attesting to the
continuity of agricultural practices since over 4,000 years
Before Present. (After Georg Helmes/German Research
Project on Mohenjodaro)

Plough. Terracotta model. Banawali. S-shaped with a

sharp edge at the point, with a hole at the end of the central component to fasten it to a yoke. The
model plough is identical to the shape of the ploughs used even today in Bharatiya villages and
villages in the sub-continent.

A remarkable finding of domesticated agriculture is the discovery of a ploughed field in

Kalibangan, on the banks of River Drishadvati (a tributary of River Sarasvati). The Latin/Greek
word, oryza, is derived from Tamil arici, Kannada akki. Roxburgh (Flora Indica, ii. 200) notes that
a wild rice, known as Newaree [Skt. nivara, Telugu. nivvari] grows abundantly about the lakes in
the Northern Circars, and he considers this to be the original plant. Jarrige and Meadow note an
indigenous Mehrgarh culture with cereal cultivation circa 6500 BCE and its gradual spread south-
east to the Sindhu to develop into Harappan culture circa 3000 BCE. (‘The ancetecedents of
civilization in the Indus Valley,’ in Scientific American, Aug. 1980, pp. 122-133). “Prolific use of
rice (Cultivated- Oryza sativa; wild annual - Oryza nivara; and wild perennial- Oryza rufipogon)
husk and chaff as pottery temper at Koldihwa ( PRL 224, ca. 6570 ± 210 BC) and Mahagara (PRL-
100, ca.5440 _+ 240 B.C., 4530 + 185 BC), and the discovery of rice grains of cultivated rice at
Mahagara establish the cultivation of rice. Electron microscopic studies conducted by Vishnu-Mittre
showed that both cultivated and wild species of Oryza were present at Mahagara. Neolithic
settlement at Mahagara marks a considerable advance in the pattern of settlement perhaps as a result
of an altered economy which led to the emergence of separate family house units planned around
cattle pens.”
(K.L.Mehra, http://www.hindunet.org/saraswati/Agriculture1.doc Agricultural foundation of Indus-
Sarasvati Civilization).

We can only conjecture on how an ancient house of the Sarasvati civilization would have looked
like. This conjecture may be based on the continuing tradition of house-building usually stone,
baked brick and wooden planks.

An evidence comes from a wall painting in Ajanta.

Wall Painting showing a Wooden House in detail, Cave 17 of Ajanta, 5th century
( from "The Ajanta Caves, Ancient Paintings of Buddhist India" by Benoy K. Behl, 1998, London )

The diffusion of rice cultivation together with black-and-red ware is demonstrated from Lothal
eastwards to Bengal.

Bead-making tradition
Lapidary arts and crafts, in particular techniques for etching carnelian and agate beads, which
evolved, perhaps in the region of the Gulf of Khambat, about 5,000 years before present continued
into the historical periods all over Bharat.

Tradition of dice and gaming board

The game of dice is the critical wager which decides

the between the Pa_n.d.ava and the Kaurava,
elaborated in the Great Epic, the Mahabharata. This
game of dice traces the tradition to the archaeologically
attested artifacts of the Sarasvati Civilization.

Gaming board designs : Lothal (After Rao 1985, Fig.

104; Harappa (H94/5340-1).
Harappa. Cubical dice made of clay and stone. [After Fig.
6.40 in JM Kenoyer, 1998].

Incised ivory counter with 4 double circle-and-dot

motifs on each side. Nausharo. Possibly used with other
counters as gaming dice. Period III. Harappan 2300-2200
BCE. 6.81 cm. Long. Dept. of Archaeology, Karachi EBK 5656 [After JM Kenoyer, 1998, p. 214].

Carved ivory counters; a. duck ornament; b. stylized

figurine with triple-circle motifs; c. double duck-
head ornament. Mohenjo-daro. Mackay 1938, pl.
CXXV.8[After Fig. 6.41 in JM Kenoyer, 1998].

Cubical weights in a binary sequence. Harappa. (After JM Kenoyer/Courtesy Dept. of
Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Pakistan). The metrology system indicated by these weights in
binary sequence was used in the Persian Gulf contact areas and continued into the historical periods.
The weights were perhaps used by lapidaries and metalsmiths of the civilization.

A woman in Channapattinam, India makes wooden

beads with a bow drill used as a lathe.

Bead materials and bead-making

Beads are a treasure which come in variegated colours and

shapes. Heating deepens the colour of the beads and hence
the finds of ‘fire-altars’ and ‘fire-pits’ can be explained in the
context of bead-makers’ or lapidaries’ apparatus. Some beads
are made of naturally-occurring seeds.

Bharat was the land of gem cutters and jewelry makers who integrated beads in a remarkable system
of measurement involving weights.

According to Manu, eight of the motes seen in a sunbeam are supposed to weigh the same
as a small poppy seed. Three small poppy seeds equal the weight of one black mustard
seed. Three black mustard seeds equal the weight of a white mustard seed. Six white
mustard seeds are equal to one medium barley grain. Three barleygrains equal one rati. So,
one rati weighs 1296 motes in a sunbeam.

The rati weight was eventually fixed at 1.75 grains. (There are 480 grains in one Troy
ounce). Most dealers in precious metals and stones used a "double rati" of 3.5 grains as a
unit of weight of precious metals such as gold.

The builders of Sarasvati Civilization had exquisite tools to work with both (1) miniature stone
beads and (2) large stones used in archicture such as polished pillars and ring-stones.

The following conclusions can be drawn about the technological competence of the vis’vakarma’s
of the civilization, from the cumulative evidence gathered from hundreds of civilization sites:

They had used a cutting rock harder than quartz. They had
used lathes to create the epigraphs on seals and tablets, many of
which were incised with a very fine cutting point, as a sharp
pointed graver. They had tube drills - drill bits and the machinery
to hold them steady and apply rotational torque.
They had saws that would cut limestone with ease and
They had the ability to sculpt hard rocks.
They were accomplished at finishing stone in situ
They had the ability to cut, level and polish stone to a
sophisticated degree of flatness.
They had lathes that would turn and polish stones (in ways
we have not duplicated).
They had the means to cut extremely accurate parallel
limestone joints with remarkable flatness over large surface areas
- 35 sq.ft.or more.
They had the knowledge and technology to consistently lift,
exactly maneuver and delicately place enormous weights of

Archaeological finds reinforce the importance of beads in

ancient societies. This adult woman from ancient
Harappa was buried with two shell bangles on her left
arm and five carnelian beads at her waist. Harrappa
Museum Pakistan. Courtesy of the Harrappa Archaeological
Research Project.

Skeleton of an adult woman

at Harappa was buried with
shell bangles on her left arm
Harrappa Museum Pakistan.
Courtesy of the Harrappa
Archaeological Research

"In burial sites in Harappa," Kenoyer notes, "we found one woman with five carnelian beads
worn at her waist - no gold, no silver, just five beads. We don't know what those five beads
meant, but they clearly were an amulet for protection against a health problem. She wore them
in life, and when she died, they buried her with them because amulets are associated with an
individual and cannot be passed on."

Using fire to colour and to add designs to beads

A terracotta figurine shows how beads were worn. Mohenjodaro.

Terracotta female adorned with six graduated strands of chokers
and pendant-head necklaces. A triple-strand belt supports a short skirt.
A fan-shaped headdress adorns the braided hair, along with edges of what
were once cup-shaped side-pieces (lamps to hold oil and cotton wicks).
Karachi, National Museum NMP 50.509 Marshall 1931: 338, pl. XCIV.14

Mohenjodaro. Beads of different

shapes. Small short bicone is a
composite bead made of laminated
shell and stone to imitate natural
banded agate. Material: agate, jasper,
green-serpentine. Museum MM 1119;
Marshall 1931: pl. CL

“Some of the soft steatite beads were

unfired, leaving the natural tan or grey-black color. Other
beads were bleached and fired to a white color. Finally
some beads were glazed with a blue green glaze that was
applied to a roughened exterior. In addition to the steatite
beads, they produced short and long biconical beads of
harder stones, such as carnelian, banded agate,
multicolored jaspers, lapis lazuli, and amazonite. The
color combinations resulting from these beads would
have been quite striking. Terracotta was also used to
produce beads in many of the same shapes as the stone beads as well as unique forms that were
only possible with clay. For example some of the small terracotta lenticular beads were
impressed with fabric on both sides to create a patterned surface. Other terracotta beads were
pinched with the fingers or palms of the hands, leaving the patterned lines of the maker's hands
on the surface of the bead. Since many of the beads were also carefully smoothed to remove
fingerprints, we can assume that the patterned surfaces were left intentionally. During the Kot
Diji phase there is evidence for faience bead production to create microbeads as well as larger
lenticular and biconical shapes. The faience beads in the later part of the Kot Diji phase are
made from finely ground and refired frit that appears to be similar to the compact faience
documented from the following Harappan Phase (Kenoyer 1994).
This form of high quality faience is found only in the Indus
Valley and not in other
contemporaneous cultures, such as
Mesopotamia or Egypt.“ (Kenoyer,

Elegant necklace made of

grossular garnet beads (green)
with gold bicone beads and
pendant beads of orbicular
jaspers . Mohenjo-daro, Pakistan.
Courtesy of the Department of
Archaeology and Museums,
Government of Pakistan.

1996 excavations at Harappa found a small pot with a collection of 133 beads and
amulets. These beads were made from a variety of natural rocks; some were synthesized
to imitate the colours of lapis lazuli, turquoise , and banded jasper. Harrappa Museum,
Pakistan. Courtesy of the Harrappa Archaeological Research Project.

Harappa. Carnelian bead

decorated with white,
bleached elliptical design on
both faces. H89-1484
Kenoyer observes: "In Harappa,
they started out with the simplest
technique - just pecking at it and
popping a hole through. Then we
have drilling with tapered stone
drills that were just a bit harder
than the bead stone. Later, they
developed exquisite drills that
were especially designed to
perforate long stones."

Carnelian is a red stone made by heating an agate stone. Heating the stone brings out a deeper
colour in the stone. Smelting was a process of preparing raw materials to be fabricated into beads.
Stone tools were initially chipped; technology which was developed to grind stone beads led to the
preparation of ground stone tools. From roughcuts of carnelian or agate stones, the first step is to
chip them into a crude shape from the raw stone. The second step is to ground the blanks to shape.
The third step is is to polish the beads.

Chalcedony (Agate, quartz family of

minerals) blanks from the medieval
beadmaking site of Limudra, India.

The bow-drill constituted a significant invention,

perhaps during the Neolithic period, to improve
the efficiency of drilling beads. The drill was
apparently made of a special rock as yet unknown. The drill is made with a piece of copper and
grooving the tip, twisting it around to hold the special rock which constitutes the gimlet.

Balakot. The original white bleached design

on the carnelian bead has weathered away,
leaving behind the appearance of
an etched design. (Afgter Fig.
7.41, Kenoyer, 1999).

Mehrgarh, is a major site

recording the Neolithic
characterized by simple
mud walled buildings with four internal subdivisions and numerous burials with often quite
elaborate burials offerings (Jarrige et al. 1995). The offerings included baskets, stone and bone
tools, and a range of ornaments such as beads and bangles (Barthélémy de Saizieu 1990). The
bangle types were: wide shell bangles, bracelets and anklets made from tabular beads of white shell
or white limestone (Kenoyer 1995b). Also used were beads of blue-green turquoise, deep blue lapis
lazuli, banded sandstone and polished copper, natural shell beads from brown and white striped
Engina mendicaria, purple Spondylus shell disc beads and large disc pendants made from the flat
spire of the cone shell (Conus sp.) The finds of shell ornaments in Mehrgarh 300 kms. north of the
Makran coast show the early exploitation of marine-based resources. At Mehergarh, the Chalcolithic
period (Periods II and III, from around 5500 to 3300 BCE), records an increased use of seatite bead
necklaces and bracelets, along with pendants of lapis lazuli, carnelian and other semiprecious
stones. At Mehrgarh and Nausharo production began of blue-green glazed faience beads which
required fairly high firing temperatures as well as a specialized technology of frit and glaze
preparation (Barthélémy de Saizieu and Bouquillon 1997).

Etched carnelian bead, 'Royal Tombs of Ur'.

This etched carnelian bead was likely to have been obtained through trade, from Gujarat.

Evidence of trading links between the Sarasvati-Sindhu civilization and Mesopotamia exists from
circa 2600 BCE. The craftsman painted designs onto beads with a white paste, then heated the
beads. The heating of the beads fused the design into the stone and resulting in a red-coloured stone
with a white design. Many beads of this type have been found in many civilization sites. They have
also been found in far-away places such as the Sumerian city of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia.

Continuity of carnelian-agate etching techniques all over Bharat

Etched beads of carnelian and agate are of frequent occurrence from many sites of Bharat. Some
specimens have also been found in
Mesopotamia at sites far removed from the
Sarasvati River Basin and the coastal regions of

Unpolished carnelian

Semi-precious stones and other raw materials

such as tin were brought into Sindhu River
Valley sites from areas to the east of the Indus
Valley, i.e. from the Sarasvati River Basin. For
example, mines have been found in the Aravalli
Hills which would have supplied many craftsmen in the Indus Valley with the uncut stone needed to
make carnelian beads.

Sources for other types of materials used in the civilization sites have been found as far away as

Red carnelian beads. Bead-making skills are evident from many different shapes and sizes of
beads found at all the major sites. The beads were worked on with bow-drill and chert drill. Chert
from Rohri hills was also used to make scrapers and blades.

At Sehwan in upper Sind, the technique of etching which is dated to circa 5500 years before present,
continued even upto 1929. (Bellasis, 1857, Further observations on the ruined city of Brahmanabad,
JBBRAS, 5.471; Cousens, H., Antiquities of Sind, Archaeological Survey of India, New Imperial
Series, No. XLVI, 1929). Potash, white lead and wild-grown kirar (capparis aphylla) bush are used
for the decoration. The ingredients were made into a thick liquid, applied with pen on the carnelian
or agate and exposed to a red heat in charcoal to achieve the indelible decorations. After decoration,
the drilling of the beads would be taken up. To achieve black lines, mineral salts of copper and
manganese are used to produce a purplish tinge as seen from the beads found at Chanhu-daro.

Remarkably, the patterns and technology of etching are evidenced in sites of Ganga valley and
megalithic sites of southern Bharat. Mackay demonstrated that etched beads were traded between
Sumer and Meluhha (Sarasvati-Sindhu valley sites)(Mackay, E., 1925, Etched Carnelian Beads,
Antiquaries Journal, XIII, 334-98). Horace C. Beck elucidated a typologial analysis of decorative
patterns; he also demonstrated that black lines which appeared on etched beads of Type II were
produced by mineral salts of copper and managanese. (Beck, H.C., 1927, Classification and
nomenclature of beads and pendants, Archaeologia, 77; Etched Carnelian Beads, Antiquaries
Journal, XIII, 1933; Sundry Asiatic Beads, MAN, 1930 Art. 150; Beads from Taxila, MASI, 65, New
Delhi, 1941). Type II beads have been traced as far back as 2300 BCE and are found at many sites
in Bharat; one has been found at Mohenjodaro and four at Chanhudaro. Similar specimens have
been found at Tell Asmar, Ur and Kish in Mesopotamia. The patterns continue at a later period
outside Bharat in the beads found n Persian Baluchistan and Damascus. Beads from Sirkap, Taxila
are dated to First Century CE; those found from ganga valley (at CHirayya Kot, Kosam, Masaon
and Rajghat) indicate that the process continued in these areas until the 15th Century CE. A
specimen from Patna is believed to have come from Mauryan levels. Kolhapur beads point to the
2nd Century BCE; one was found in Bahmani layers (16th century CE). At Kondapur, Hyderabad
State, a Satavahana date is assigned to a bead.

"If the commerce with the various countries was by sea in the historical period, the place of Cambay as a
great trading port deserves to be mentioned (Arkell, Cambay and the bead trade, Antiquity, 10.292-305).
Agate and carnelian mines in its neighbourhood were being worked from a remote antiquity. Beads and
other manufactured articles were being exported in large quantitie to different parts of the globe,
particularly Persia, African coasts, Egypt, Asia Minor and even Rome. Literary data is replete with
references on this oint Although no etched beads from the immediate vicinity of Cambay are at present
known, it is possible that with the extensive bead trade was also carried the technique of etching. With
the expansion of Roman commerce at various trading points, particularly in South India, the possibilities
of such a procedure were immense...The possibilities of the land route from the Northwest Frontier are
again not altogether barred, since many
objects Mediterranean type have been
found in the region around Taxila and
Peshawar. Trade in precious is said to
have stopped with the downfall of
Perseus and Mithrades in Rome where
oriental stones were brought after the
conquest of Alexander." of the (MG
Dixit, opcit, pp. 37-38).

The main sites where etched

beads were found: Northern Bharat:
Sind: Brahmanabad, Chanhu-daro,
Hisbani, Mohenjo-daro, Sirwahi;
Punjab and NWF Province: Akra,
Harappa, Sar Dheri, Taxila; United
Provinces: Ahicchatra, Azamgarh,
Behat, Bairant, Bhita, Chirayya Kot,
Chosi, Indo Khera, Kosam, Kanauj,
Madhuri, Masaon, Mathura, Rajghat,
Rahtoyya, Serai Aghat and Benares
district sites; Jaipur State: Rairh,
Sambhar; Bihar: Basarh, Lauriya
Nandangarh, Patna, Sabaur;
Bengal:Bangad; Central India:
Maheshwar, Ujjain; Southern Bharat:
Mumbai Presidency: Kolhapur
(Brahmapuri); Hyderabad State:
Kadkal, Kallur, Kondapur, Maski,
paithan, Raigir; Madras Presidency:
Kupgal, Manjan-Karnai, Palghat,
Paravai, Peyal, Sangakallu (Bellary),
Shevroy Hills, Sulur, Vellalur, Mondapalle (Arikamedu), Billikambe Perunganad (Nilgiri hills),
Chandravalli, Coorg, Moory Betta Hill (Coorg). Based on the methods of manufacture, principal
types categorized by MG Dixit are: Type I – White patterns on red background; Type II – Black
patterns on whitened surface of stone; Type III – Black patterns etched directly on the stone.

[After Pl. X, MG Dixit, 1949, Etched Beads in India, Poona, Deccan College Monograph Series 4]
Etched beads of Type I; 1-23 Brahmanabad, Sind, Unstratified. The Plate is adopted from Cousens,
Antiquities of Sind, Pl. XIII; and ASI, AR, 1903-1904, Plate XLIX. The material is probably
carnelian. There are six beads similar to Fig. 7 in the collection and six resembling Fig. 8. Figs. 6
and 8 are also represented in the Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai; the rest are probably in the
British Museum, London.

Etched Beads of Type I; 1-5 Mohenjo-daro; 6-13 Chanhu-daro; 14-16 Harappa

Car. Rect. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 1. M-d, Pl. CXLVI,43
Car. Rect. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 1. FEM, CXXV, 5.
Car. Cir. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. Ring. M-d, Pl. CXLVI
Car. Sph. Dbl. Convex. Ptn.2
Car. Ovl. Tabl. ZDbl. Convex. Ptn. 3. M-d, P. CXLVI, 44
Car. Hexa. DBl. Convex. Ptn. Var. 1. Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 13
Car. Ovl. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. with double quadrant arcs and a circle in the centre. Ch-d, Pl.
Car. Bar. Dbl. Convex. V-shaped lines. Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 16
Car. Sph. Trun. Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 11. Ptn. Var.2
Car. Cyl. Ptn. Var. 2, Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 9
Car. Ovl. or Cir. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 3, Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 1-3
Car. Ovl. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 4, Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 4-7
Car. Ovl. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 5, Ch-d, Pl.LXXIX, 9
Car. Bar. Ptn. 2, Vats, Pl. CXXXI, 4a
Car. Ovl. Tbl. Ptn. 3, Vats, Pl. CXXXI, 4b-c
Car. Bar. Ptn. Horizontal Lines. Ancient India, No. 3, Pl. LI, 14 and Fig. 26: 11
[After Pl. VII, MG Dixit, 1949, Etched Beads in India, Poona, Deccan College Monograph
Series 4]

Etched Beads of Type I; 1-10 Taxila, Taxila Museum; 11. Hisbani, Sind, PW Museum, Mumba;
12. Sirwahi, Sind; 13-17 Akra, bannu, NWFP, Indian Museum, Kolkata (Nos. 3610-3615(.
Car. Cube. Crosses and lines at facets, BT. Pl. I, 4; First Century CE
Bl. Agt. Sph. Ptn. 18. BT. Pl. I, 6; First Century BCE
Bl. Agt. Bar. Ptn. 14. BT. Pl. II, 17; First Century CE
Car. Bar. Ptn. 28. BT. Pl. II, 25, First Century CE?
Agt. Bar. Zonal Bands, BT. Pl. II, 22, First Century CE
Car. Bar. Zonal bands, spots and waves. BT. Pl. II, 28; First Century CE or later
Car. Sph. Ptn. . Bt. Pl. II, 24; First Century CE
Car. Sph. Waves, BT. Pl. II, 23; First Century CE
Bl. Agt. Ptn. 8. BT. Pl. II, 19; First Century CE
Bl. Agt. Sph. Zonal stripes, BT. Pl. II, 21; First Century CE?
Car. Rect. Tbl. Crosses lines. JUB. 4-2, 18. PWM, Mumbai
Car. Ovl. Tbl. Ptn. on both sides, IA, II, p. 5, Fig. 21
Car. Sph. Swastika Ptn. Unpublished
Car. Sq. Tbl. Cross. Unpublished. Indian Museum, No. 3614
Car. Sph. Ptn. 7. Unpublished. Indian Museum, No. 3615
Car. Sq. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 7. Unpublished. Indian Museum, No. 3613
Car. Hex. Tbl. Marginal bands. Unpublished. Indian Museum, No. 3611.
[After Pl. IX, MG Dixit, 1949, Etched Beads in India, Poona, Deccan College Monograph
Series 4]

illustration is
by a cross-
section of the
bead at right-
hand corner
of each bead.
Beads are
arranged with perforation axes horizontal to the eye.

Distribution patterns 6,10,14 and 24, 26

in Northern and Southern Groups
respectively. Only one specimen of
Pattern 23-24 occurs at Kosam; Pattern 26
occurs at Brahmanabad in Sind. Both
these patterns are frequent in the Southern
Group. Similarly, Pattern ;6a occurs at
Kondapur (Spherical with Pentagons).
[After Pl. VI, MG Dixit, 1949, Etched
Beads in India, Poona, Deccan College
Monograph Series 4]

[After Pl. IV, MG Dixit, 1949, Etched

Beads in India, Poona, Deccan College
Monograph Series 4] Etched beads of Type III and Varieties A-B; 1-4 Beads of Type III; 5-6
Beads of Variety A; 7 Bead of Variety B
Car. Ovl. Tbl. Frag. Ptn. 3, Harappa, 2300 BCE cf. Vats, Excavations at Harappa, Pl.
CXXXI, Fig. 4d
Car. Sph. Zonal band. Sirkap, Taxila, First Century CE Beck, Beads from Taxila, Pl. I,
Fig. 1
Car. Bar Ptn. Var. 6a. Kosam, Vyas Collection. Ahd. Unpublished
Car. Bar. Ptn. 15. Kosam, Vyas Collection, Alhd. Unpublished
Car. Sph. Ptn. 10 Kosam (Alhdb.Lck.); Patna (Patna Museum No. 1005); Rajghat
(BKB); Chirayya Kot (Shah Coll.)
Car. Cyl. Ptn. 26. Maski. Hyderabad Museum
Car. Cyl. Zonal bands. Bhita. Lucknow Museum No. 48: 112
Etched beads of Type II: 1. Mohenjo-daro; 2-5
Chanhu-daro; 6-7 Taxila, Sirkap; 8-9 Patna; 10-11
Brahmanabad, Sind; 12 Ujjain, British Museum; 13-
14 Kanauj. Rivett Carnac Collection, British Museum;
15 Masaon, Bharat Kala Bhavan, Benares
1. Car. Tbl. Circles and areas. FEM, Pl. CXI, 4
2. 2a. Car. Bar. Dbl. Convex Ptn. 2. Ch-d, Pl.
3. Car. Rect. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. 4. Ch-d, Pl.
4. Car. Ovl. Dbl. Convex. Ptn. Ch-d, Pl.
5. Car. Trun. Sph. Ptnl. 2. Ch-d, Pl. LXXIX, 10
6. Car. Sph. Lines. BT. Pl. I, 2. Taxila
Museum, First Century CE
7. Car. Sph. Ptn. 10. BT. Pl. II, 27. Taxila
Museum. First Century CE or later
8. Car. Bar. Zonal bands and spots, Patna
9. Car. Sph. Ptn. 10. Patna Museum
10. Car. Sph.l Ptn. Var. 7. Brahmanabad
11. Car. Bar. Zonal Bands and scroll, Brahmanabad
12. Car. Sph. Hexagonal pattern, British Museum
13. Car. Sph. Ptn. 8. British Museum
14. Car. Sph. Ptn. Var. 7. British Museum
15. Car. Cyl. Zonal Bands, BKB
[After Pl. II, MG Dixit, 1949, Etched Beads in India, Poona, Deccan College Monograph Series 4]

Roman trade contacts during historical periods

Northwest Coast of Bharat; Ozene regia (Ujjain, the capital), upper right; Namadus flu
(Narmada River), lower center; Barigaza
emporium (Broach), lower left; the dotted
boundary line includes the whole
Narmada Valley and the principal port of
Malwa stateat Broach. [Ptolemy’s map]

Sardonyx Mountains in which (are)

sardonyx stones, upper right ; Ozene
regia (Ujjain, the capital), lower center
[Ptolemy’s map]

The sardonyx (a form of onyx) stones were, in fact, not mined from the mountains but the ancient
courses of River Narmada, in areas around Ratanpur
(lit. "Village of Gems"). The best known rock crystal
deposits are found in the Rajpipla hills at Ratanpur,
on the lower Narmada River. Carura regia (Karur,
the capital), upper right; Muziris emporium
(modern Cragnore?), lower left [Ptolemy’s map,
southeast coast of Bharat]

Deposits of carnelian were mined and processed

near the Mahi River, north of Baroda. Mines and
workings of the stones were found at Ratanpur,
(J.M. Campbell, 1878,Bombay Gazetteer, Vol.
VI, p. 205). Ratanpur has been the international
trade centre for articles made of agate and
carnelian for over 2,000 years.

Diamond-washing has been traditionally done

by the tribes of Savara of Sambalpur area, Kols of Chota Nagpur, Gonds of Madhya Pradesh.
[Biswas, Arun Kumar. 2001. Minerals and Metals in Pre-Modern India. New Delhi: D.K
Printworld (P) Ltd.]

Ptolemy shows the coastline as running east-west, instead of north-south. Ptolemy connects Muziris
by Psuedostomus (lit. ‘false mouth or inlet’) River to the Chera capital of Karur. It was a false inlet
because no sailing was possible between Muziris and Karur. Actually, Western Ghats intervene
between Muziris and Karur. Thus, there were two rivers, a short one running coastward toward
Muziris and a longer one running to the interior toward Karur. Muziris was close to a gap in the
Ghats. Noyil River flowed past Karur. Just on the other side of the Palghat gap on this river was
Kodumanal, which was a town just
past Muziris and was famous for its
goldsmiths. It was also very near the
important beryl deposits [emerals is a
deeply coloured beryl] and well as
rock crystal, sapphire and probably
amethyst sources. It was a key
beadmaking center.

Punnata (?) in which is beryl,

upper center; Carura regia
Cerotothri (Karur, capital of the
Chera), left center [Ptolemy’s

Poduca emporium (Pondicherry: Arikamedu-
Virampattinam), right center; Cape Comorin and the
Jaffna Peninsula, lower left [Ptolemy’s map]

Arikamedu (the archaeological name) and

Virampattinum (the village) were known as Poduca. It
was a major beadmaking center for millennia, using
both glass and stones as raw materials. The glass
beads and agate cameo blanks are found in the
principal Roman Red Sea Port of Berenicé, Egypt.

Ganges River (Upper Right);

Muziris (Lower Right); Scythia
(Lower Left); Taprobane (Sri
Lanka) Island at Bottom [Image
taken from De Tabula
Peutingeriana de kaart,
Museumstukken II (edited by A.M.
Gerhartl-Witteveen and P. Stuart)
1993 Museum Kam, Nijmegan, the
Netherlands.] Produced around
AD 300, this map situates Muziris
in the center, marked with a big
red circle. To the left of Muziris is
an "Augustinian temple." which
could mean a temple of Agasitya.
[Ptolemy maps after: Asiae X Tab: -
- Ptolmey's Map of India. Government Photozincographic Office, Poona, India1880.]
Map of Southern Bharat indicating bead-making sites.

Raw materials for stone and glass beadmakers came from an area just off the northwest corner of
the map and from around Kodumanal (on the Noyil River) to Arikamedu and to Kodumanal. Their
beads passed through the Palghat Gap and down river to Muziris for export to the Roman West. A
maritime route, through Mantai, Sri Lanka, may also have been used for the export.

Archery tradition
Method of using the bow and arrow: practices in ancient Bha_rata (Dhanurveda)

Use of bow and arrow is as old as the emergence of human civilization from the early palaeolithic
stages of living. The method of using the bow and arrow is a unique Bharatiya tradition and has no
parallel in the European methods of archery. This is a conclusive evidence for the autochthonous
evolution of traditions of dhanurveda in Bharat. Dhanus means a bow and Dhanurveda deals not
only with the use of bow and arrow as a weapon but the entire spectrum of arms and armour,
warfare and military strategies.

Composite bow. Gilt, overpainted with clear red varnish (lac?)

and gold flower-heads. l. 72.5 Signed 'Hasan' and dated 1203
AH/2 October 1788 - 21 Sept. 1789 AD). Quiver, arrows and
thumb-ring. Quiver: l.73; Arrows: l. 75. India (Oudh?), late 18th
cent. The cylinder shape of the red leather quiver is
unusual...The shape of the bone thumb-ring on the Powis
qwuiver is also represented among the other items of jewellery.
The identical arrows have pointed steel heads, and shafts painted
gold, black and red. (After Figs. 63,64 in: Mildred Archer, Christopher Rowell and Robert Skelton,
1987, Treasures from India: the Clive Collection at Powis Castle, Herbert Press, London)

Projectile (mukta) weapon types. In the centre is the composite bow or Kaman, with three different
styles of arrow.. The strength of the Indian bow
comes from composition rather than length; this
is an 18th cent. CE example from Lucknow and
is built up of horn, whalebone and cane
lacquered red. The circle objects are cakram with
sharpened outer edge. (Wallace Collection,
London). [After Fig. In: Stephen Bull, 1991, An
historical guide to Arms and Armor (ed. By
Tony North), New York, Facts on File, p. 176].

The normal European method of archery is to

use a number of fingers to release the arrow from the bow. A typical device used in ancient
Bha_rata was a thumb-ring (made of agate, stag-horn, metal, wood, ivory, bone). A Bha_rati_ya
archer's thumb was normally hooked around the bowstring. Since this technique brought
tremendous presssure to bear on the thumb, the thumb-ring was a protection to relieve the pressure.
The thumb-ring had one side much wider than the other. This was typically associated with Turkey,
Persia and Bha_rata. It should be noted that the Chinese type was either cylindrical or D-shaped.

Archer’s rings. 1. Turkey, Gray jade; 2. Turkey, light
jade; 3. Turkey. Large ring of bone inlaid with brass; 4.
Turkey. Bone with a leather guard; 5. Turkey. Red and
white agate; 6. Turkey. Tortoise shell with a leather
guard; 7. Turkey. Ivory with a leather guard; 8.
Turkey. Bone with a flat end; 9. Persia. Carved grey-
green jade; 10. Persia. Carved unite jade; 11. Persia.
Carved dark green jade; 12. Persia. Carved Carved
white jade; 13. Indo-Persia. Gray jade; 14. Indo-Persia.
Jade; 15. Indo-Persia. White jade; 16. Indo-Persia. Jade
inlaid with gold; 17. Indo-Persia. Yellow and white
agate; 19. India, side and back. Light jade inlaid with
jwels set in gold; 20. India. Light jade with dark veins;
very high arch, upward end and large ridge at the back;
21. India. Light jade similar to the preceding; 22. India.
Rock crystal; set with jewels which have been picked
out; 23. India. Side and back. Ivory with a heart-chapel
ornament on the back; 24. India, turned up end. Gray
agate with curved white lines; 25. India. Gray agate
with straight white lines; 26. India, end and side. White jade, flat inlay of gold, three jewels on the
back; 27. India. Mattled green jade; 28,29,30. Korea. Black and white cow’s horn; 31. Probably
Chinese, ivory; 32. Probably Chinese, ivory with incised rings at the back; 33. Ivory with a very
high arch; 34. Probably Chinese. Gray jade; 35. Probably Chinese. Black and white stone. [After
Fig. 22 in: George Cameron Stone, 1934, A glossary of the construction, decoration and use of arms
and armour in all countries and in all times, New York, Jack Brussel].

Archer’s thumb-ring of jade. Archer’s thumb was normally

hooked around the bowstring rather than using a number of fingers
as in the normal European method.

Methods of releasing the bow. Unique oriental method as opposed to

the European method

“There are several forms of arrow release. In the simplest the arrow is
held between the thumb and first finger which surrounds the string, and
the latter is pulled by the pressure of the arrow, 1, fig. 173. This is only
possible with a very light bow and is
only used by a few savage races.
Professor Morse calls this the primary
release (Bull. Essex Inst. 1885, 1922).
In the secondary release the arrow is
held as before but the string is pulled
mainly by the tips of the second and
third fingers which are placed against
it, 2, fig. 173. The tertiary release is
much like the secondary, the only
difference being that the first finger is
nearly straight and its tip also bears
on the string and helps pull it, 3, fig.

173. These two forms of release are used by the greater part of the North American Indians, by the
Siamese and Andaman Islanders among others. The next Professore Morse calls the Mediterranean
release, because he says,’It has been in vogue among the northern Mediterranean nations for centuries,
and among the southern Mediterranean nations for tens of centuries.’ In this the string is drawn by the
tips of the first two or three fingers, the arrow being held between the first two, 4, fig. 173. This is the
method used in Europe throughout the middle ages, two fingers only being used. ‘Modern English
bowmen generally use three fingers. The Flemish the first and second only – a method adopted by some
of our bowmen also.’ (Hansard 820). The Eskimo also uses this form of release. The Mongolian release
is used in Turkey and through Asia. In it a ring is worn on the thumb which is passed around the string
and under the forefinger, the base of the finger pressing against the arrow, 5, fig. 173. When using this
release the arrow is placed to the right of the bow, with the secondary and Mediterrnean to the left. Some
Japanese bowmen use a combination of the secondary and Mediterranean releases.” [GC Stone, Fig. 173,
pp. 134-135].

The su_kta RV 6.75 is addressed to parts of battle by r.s.i pa_yu bha_radva_ja; (devata_: parts of
battle):: 1. varma; 2. dhanu; 3.jya_; 4. a_rtni_; 5. is.udhi; 6. pu_rva_, sa_rathi_, utta, rays; 7. many
horses; 8. ratha; 9. ratha gopa; 10. bra_hman.a, pitr., soma, dya_va_ pr.thivi_, pu_s.a_; 11-12, 15-
16. is.u samu_ha; 13. pratoda; 14. hastaghna; 17. yuddhabhu_mi, Brahman.aspati, and aditi; 18.
varma-soma-varun.a; 19. devabrahma

Hastaghna is lit. protection for the hand or a wrist-guard (RV 6.75.14; Nirukta 9.14). It is called
talatra in MBh. (Vanaparva 37.19; Dron.aparva 125.16: kavaci_ satalatra_n.i_ baddha
gotha_n:gulivava_nuh) In the medieval period, the leather sleeve worn on the left arm was called
godha or godhu (Egerton, p. 114).

arhiriva bhogaih pryeti ba_hum jya_ya_m hetim pariva_dhama_nah

hastaghno vis'va_ vayuna_ni vidva_npuma_npumam.sam parim pa_tu vis'vatah
6.075.14 The ward of the fore-arm protecting it from the abrasion of the bow-string, surrounds the arm
like a snake with its convulutions; may the brave man, experienced in the arts of war, defend a combatant
on every side. [hastaghna = a shield, as well as the guard of the fore-arm; with its convolutions: ahiriva
bhogaih = s'ari_rena, with the body].

It is likely that hastaghna also connoted the thumb -ring used on the thumb to protect the palm of the hand
and arm from the impact of the bowstring.

\/tJye?n i]/à[
e / äü?[s
/ ! pit/rœ yÇ/ viò/ à tdœ A?îaeit/ xNv?na ,

tSy? sa/XvIrœ #;?vae/ yai-/rœ ASy?it n&/c]?sae †/zye/ k[R?yaeny> .

The r.s.i who adores Rudra in RV 2.30.10 exhorts in RV 2.24.8 that the country should abound in
brave warriors well-versed in the science of archery to maintain peace and order. Yajurveda (16.29:
namah kapardine ca vyuprakes’a_ya ca namah sahasra_ks.a_ya ca s’atadhanvane ca namo
giris’aya_ya s’ipivis.t.a_ya ca namo modus.t.ama_ya ces.ukate ca; the verse is clear that the science
of archery is an essential qualification of a king who is referred to as s’atdhanva (i.e. the holder of
hundred kinds of bows). Terms such as is.u-dhanva (Bow and arrow), is.u-dhanvina (holder of bow
and arrow), adhijya-dhanva (bow fitted with string) occur in Vedic texts (Taittiri_ya Sam.hita_ 5.2;
Aitareya Bra_hman.a 7.19; 1.25; S.Br. 9.1; 1.6).

The archer wore a mudrika (lit. finger protector: MBh. Bhi_s.maparva 106.24; Dron.aparva 35.23,
40.16, 43.14). The ring was made of metal, horn, bone, ivory, tortoise shell and stones such as jade,

agate, carnelian, crystal. “The (oriental) bowman, contrary to the English or Flemish custom, draws
altogether with his thumb, the forefinger bent in its first and second joint being merely pressed on one
side of the arrow nock to secure it from falling. In order to prevent the flesh being torn by the bowstring,
he wears a broad ring. Upon the inside of this ring, which projects half an inch, the string rests when the
bow is drawn, on the outside it is only half that breadth and in loosing the arrow, the archer straightens
his thumb which sets the arrow free.” (Hansard, Manufacture of Bows, p. 133). G.C. Stones notes:
“Throughout the greater part of the East the method of drawing and loosing the bow differs radically
from those used in Europe. In it the thumb is put around the string and a ring is worn on it to protect it
from the pressure and friction of the string, when it is drawn and released. It also allows of bringing the
pressure at a single point, close to the nock, which makes the bow much more effective than the
European method where three or four fingers are used to pull the bow.” (G.C. Stone,1961, A Glossary of
the construction, decoration and use of arms and armour, Repr. New York, p. 14, figs. 22 and 23).

Lady archer stretching a composite bow and carrying on her back, a

quiver filled with arrows. Reproduced from a terracotta panel from
Ahicchacchatra (UP) [After V.S. Agrawal, The terracottas of
Ahichchachhatra, Ancient India, No. 4 (July, 1947-January, 1948), p.
171, Pl. LXVI]. Sanchi stu_pa (south gateway) depicts a battle-scne with
warriors carrying bows, arrows and pellets. [John Marshall, A Guide to
Sanchi, Pl. IV, V, XXVI, XXVII]. Bharhut stu_pa depicts warriors carrying bows and arrows. [A.
Cunningham, The Stupa of Bharhut, Pl. XXXII]. “In one of the bas-relief (Sanchi, 2nd –1st century
BCE), there is the representation of a siege, probably undertaken to recover possession of some holy
relic. The soldiers wore a tight fitting dress and kilt; the arms are a sword and bows and arrows…the
infantry usually carried a bow of the same length with the bearer.” (A. Cunningham, The Bhilsa
Topes, p. 216). Bhilsa Topes also depict daggers, swords, spears with triangular heads, axes, battle-
axes, tridents and shields used by infantry and cavalry.

Gold coin of Kumaragupta I. C. 416-450 AD. National Museum, New Delhi. Obvese: The king
as an archer is standing left in ‘visamapada’ pose wearing waist-cloth, jewellery and head-dress,
shooting with fully strung bow drawn up to the chin. The
stave is on the right hand and the string is drawn by the
left. The king is trampling on a beast. The legend:
S’riman vyaghrabalapara_kramah (the glorious (king)
whose strength and valour is like that of a tiger). Reverse:
goddess standing to left on crocodile, holding a lotus of
long stalk behind her in her left hand and feeding a
peacock with fruits by her right hand. The legend: Kumaragupta_dhira_ja (His majesty
Kumaragupta).[After Plate VI, GN Pant, 1978]

Stone frieze shows ‘Joy after victory’ (vijayolla_sa). The warriors are both male and female; they
carry an array of various types of weapons. One lady archer is drawing an arrow from a quiver tied

on her back. Chauhan art, 10th cent. AD, Sikar, Rajasthan. National Museum, New Delhi. [After Pl.
XVI, GN Pant, 1978].

Tripura_ntaka S’iva standing in a_li_d.ha pose on a chariot, holding his

Pina_ka bow in adhasamdhana pose in his left hand. The stone panel is
mutilated and hence the string and a part of the bow are not visible. The ratha shows a
spoked wheel drawn by two horses. Western Ca_lukya art, 7th cent. CE, Aihole,
Karnataka. National Museum, New Delhi. [After Pl. XI, GN Pant, 1978]

A stone sculptural panel showing animals (many of which are field symbols of
inscriptions of the civilization of Bha_rata), in association with weapons and soldiers
in a procession. The lead archer carries a composite bow and is led by a cow and

another bovine (one-horned bull?) , followed by a person with a mace, a person holding a bow
leads an antelope, a person carrying a bow (?) leads an onager and the last person carries a round
shield (shown with a dotted circle in the centre). Facing this procession is a ram with curved horns.
In the upper register (perhaps with a joined head of a tiger or fod?) and another animal (rhinoceros?)
in the lower register. This is a cattle-caravan with protective military or armed guards. [After Pl.
CV, GN Pant, 1978, Indian Archery, Delhi, Agam Kala Prakashan).

Harappa. After EJH Mackay. Thin, flat pieces of arrowheads made of copper
having long barbs and without tangs. Wooden shafts over-lapped these arrow-
heads, thus making a medial rib. Mackay notes that the tie-holes were to facilitate
the insertion of wooden shafts. These
arrowheads are identical to those from Zafer
Papoura, Crete. Av. length: 1.19 inches,
breadth 0.64 inches and thicknes 0.07

Rama holds a kamatha_ bow. Ahilya_. Deogarh, 5th cent.

AD. Gupta. Stone panel.

Ra_ma holds a bow. A quiver is on his right shoulder. Laks.man.a is disfugiring S'u_rpanakha_
with a sword. Delhi. National Museum. Deogarh. Gupta. 6th cent. AD.
Mahabharata as the sheet-anchor of
Bharatiya Itihasa
Mahabharata as history of Bharat

The historicity of the events described in the Mahabharata is validated by two evidences: one is
based on tradition and the other is based on jyotis.a, i.e. astronomy of observed celestial events
which may be called sky epigraphs. The dates of the events described in the Mahabharata are about
3000 BCE. This just pre-dates the mature phases of Sarasvati Civilization. The chronology of pre-
history and ancient history of Bharat can thus be related as a sequence: Veda (pre-4th millennium
BCE) – Mahabharata (4th millennium BCE)– Sarasvati Civilization (3rd and 2nd millennia BCE) –
Maurya (1st millennium BCE).

The evidence based on tradition is provided by the settlement in Har-ki-dun valley (i.e. lit. valley of
the Divinities). The villagers who are called parvati-s, at Har-ki-dun village celebrate an annual
festival; the divinity honoured in this festival is Duryodhana! Har-ki-dun is at the foothills of
Bandarpunch massif (close to Svarga_rohin.i mountain), Western Garhwal, Uttaranchal, in the
Himalayan ranges. This is the place of origin of Tamasa and Giri rivers which are tributaries of
River Sarasvati and used to flow through the Bata divide between the Himalayan ranges and Siwalik
hills to join the Markanda River, a trunk river joining with River Sarasvati at Pehoa (referred to as
Pr.thu_daka in the Mahabharata, where Balarama offers homage to pitr.-s and where pilgrims
perform s’ra_ddha ceremonies for ma_tr.-s), not far from Brahmasarovar, Kuruks.etra.

The evidence based on jyotis.a is the set of astronomical observations recorded by Veda Vya_sa in
relation to terrestrial events related to the Mahabharata episodes.

Mahabharata is the sheet-anchor of Bharatiya Itihasa. This was established using planetarium
software to validate the celestial epigraphs observed and recorded by Veda Vya_sa in the Great

The colloquium was made possible by the critical edition of the text of the Mahabharata compiled
by scholars of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute headed by the late Dr. Sukthankar.

Dr. Raja Ramanna, a noted nuclear scientist inaugurated the colloquium. The colloquium included
lectures on many facets of the use of jyotisha and bharatiya scientific tradition by Dr. KP
Pandurangi, Dr. Suryanath Kamath, Prof. MKLN Shastri, Dr. SR Rao, Dr. BV Subbarayappa, Dr.
A. Sundara, Dr. Nagaraju, Dr. M.A. Narasimhan, Dr. K.I. Vasu, Dr. Ramasubramanian. Key papers
were presented by Dr. Narahari Achar, Dr. Balakrishna, Dr. Mohan Gupta, and Shri Holay.

The consensus reached in the colloquium was that there were over 150 astronomical references
in the critical edition of Mahabharata (compiled by Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute)
which could be classified by types of celestial events observed and recorded. The sky
inscriptions or celestial epigraphs included: planetary/constellation positions on dates of
specific events related to the war and starting nakshatra and ending nakshatra of the pilgrimage
of Balarama along the River Sarasvati (described in the shalya parva), the injury to Bhishma
and his passing away on the winter solstice day on shukla ashtami tithi in Rohini, position of
S'ani in Rohini, occurrence of a solar eclipse on jyeshtha and an eclipse season of three eclipses
in one month with a solar eclipse occurring between two lunar eclipses and the latter sequence
of solar eclipse penumbral lunar eclipse occurring within 13 tithis (a rare celestial event
indeed), recorded events of meteor showers and occurrence of comets (possibly including the
Haley's comet mahaaghoraa) during the war which lasted 18 days.

Mahabharata is a historical document

It was also noted that the celestial inscriptions or sky epigraphs were observed events, observed by
Veda Vyasa from the banks of River Sarasvati in the Kurukshetra region.

This has been validated by the references to the mighty river in the Mahabharata. Recent scientific
researches have established that the River Sarasvati of Vedic times and of the days of the epic was
not a myth but a geo-physical reality as mentioned in the texts and has been established as ground-
truth. [ http://www.hindunet.org/saraswati ] Thus, the Mahabharata constitutes a historical
document with a wealth of geographical, geophysical information and vivid pictures of the society
and political institutions of the times (such as janapadas involved in nation-building), in
continuation of the Vedic traditions which refer to Bha_ratam Janam. The consensus was that the
determination of the dates of the war should be based on establishing the consistency of ALL the
astronomical references contained in the text to make it a useful reference date for chronologies in
ancient bharatiya itihaasa.

•R.gveda (r.ca 3.53.12) uses the term, 'bha_ratam janam', which can be interpreted as 'bha_rata
folk'. The r.s.i of the su_kta is vis'va_mitra ga_thina. India was called Bha_ratavars.a after the
king Bharata. (Va_yu 33, 51-2; Bd. 2,14,60-2; Lin:ga 1,47,20,24; Vis.n.u 2,1,28,32).
•y #/me raed?sI %/-e A/hm! #NÔ/m! Atu?òvm! ,

iv/ñaim?ÇSy r]it/ äüed

/ m! -ar?t</ jn?m! . •3.053.12 I have made Indra glorified by these two,
heaven and earth, and this prayer of Vis'va_mitra protects the race of Bharata. [Made Indra
glorified: indram atus.t.avam-- the verb is the third preterite of the casual, I have caused to be
praised; it may mean: I praise Indra, abiding between heaven and earth, i.e. in the firmament].

Mahabharata is sheet anchor of modern Itihaasa

Against this backdrop of consensus, scholars reached further consensus that the Mahabharata was a
sheet anchor of the modern history of Bharat. Areas for further were identified as:

• the concept of yuga and mahayuga

• knowledge of comets among ancient Bharatiya scientists

• the need for compiling a critical edition of the Mahabharata astronomical references based
on all variant readings and excluded verses listed as annexes in the Critical Edition and
including the commentaries of Vadiraja and Nilakhantha and Madhvacharya's
Mahabharata Tatparya Nirnaya
• further investigation of the reference to the occurrence of the war during night also on the
14th day of the war
• compilation and research on astronomical references in the Vedas, Puranas and other
astronomical texts.

Thus, the use of modern tools of planetaria software and satellite image analyses will help in re-
writing of bharatiya itihaasa and reinforce the historicity of the great epics as basic reference
documents for itihaasa, in terms of both kaalaganana and geography.

Sarasvati is ground-truth. On the banks of this river, a war was fought; a detailed account of the war
is presented in the Mahabharata. So is the account presented in S’alya Parvan in over 200 s’lokas of
a journey undertaken by Balarama from Dwaraka through Somnath to Mathura along the River
Sarasvati paying homage to the ancestors and visiting a_s’rama-s of r.s.i-s on the banks of this
sacred river. So is Mahabharata an account of the ancient history of Bharat. The dating of this epic
is fundamental in establishing the historical chronology of ancient Bharatiya Itihaas.

Veda Vyasa who wrote the Mahabharata observed the sky inscriptions from the banks of River
Sarasvati. The epic describes a pilgrimage of Balarama (elder brother of Krishna) from Dwaraka-
Somnath(Prabhas Patan) to Mathura along the banks of River Sarasvati in 200 shlokas in the S'alya

This date of Mahabharata War is crucial in determing the chronologies in the ancient history of
Bharat since many epigraphs and inscriptions with a historical import, refer to time-reckoning based
on the starting date of Kaliyuga which is close to the date of the Mahabharata War.

Dating Mahabharata events using astronomical references

Using a set of modern technology tools such as Planetarium Software (Sky Map Pro 5, Red Shift),
Panchanga Software compiled by a Japanese professor to produce the equivalence between
Kaliyuga dates and dates of the Christian era, Dr. Narahari Achar has tried to authenticate the
accuracy of observations made by Veda Vyasa in the Mahabharata.

In the epic, Veda Vyasa himself says that day in and day out he is watching the planetary positions
on the skies. His recording of over 70 such planetary events are almost like a record of celestial
inscriptions within the text. These celestial events are used to date the events which occurred on the
banks of River Sarasvati -- events which are described in the epic poem. Since the planets on the
sky and the celestial events are remarkably accurate and follow a precise pattern of cyclical
movements, to a rhythm of time, the determination of planetary positions as observed by Veda
Vyasa will help determine the date of events described in detail in the shlokas of Mahabharata.

In the past, many scholars have attempted to arrive at the date of the war based on one or two
celestial events mentioned in the text. But, the contribution made by Dr. Narahari Achar is unique in
that he tries to find a series of dates which is consistent with almost ALL the 150 plus
astronomical references contained in the text.
Akhila Bharateeya Itihaasa Sankalana Yojana has published a reference work by Shriram Sathe as a
compendium of astronomical references in the Mahabharata. This work has provided the basis for
this International Colloquium.

In a paper presented at the international colloquium held in Bangalore on Jan. 5 and 6, 2003 and
organized by Akhila Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana, Mythic Society and Indira Gandhi
National Centre for Arts Southern Chapter, Dr. Achar conclusively proves that the observed
celestial events on the sky, observed by Veda Vyasa were based on a variety of observations:

1. Lunar-solar-lunar eclipse sequence occurring within a period of one month and one
lunar-solar eclipse sequence occurring within just 13 tithi-s;
2. A comet (Haley's comet) is observed on the sky;
3. Bhishma waits for the uttarayana punya kaala (winter solstice) and ashtami tithi to arrive
before his soul departs from the mortal body;
4. Karna describes to Krishna the observatin of unusual planetary conjunctions -- almost all
the seven planets coming together;
5. Balarama's pilgrimage starts on a particular tithi and nakshatra and ends after 42 days on
a particular tithi and nakshatra. All such observations are found by Dr. Narahari Achar to be
consistent with only one date: about 3000 BCE, i.e. about 5000 years ago. No other date
matches so consistenly with all the astronomical observations or, what may be called,
celestial inscriptions.

This finding is path-breaking and constitutes a watershed in our understanding of chronology

in ancient itihasa of Bharat.

Firstly, it establishes the historic authenticity of Mahabharata as a sheet anchor of Bharatiya Itihas.

Secondly, Veda Vyasa should have recorded only observed celestial events when he provides
precise astronomical details in the text. The observations should have been made from the banks of
River Sarasvati close to Kurukshetra. Dr. Narahari Achar reconstructs the skies as seen by Veda
Vyasa from this location close to Kurukshetra.

Thirdly, together with the scientific discovery of the River Sarasvati in north-west Bharat as ground-
truth and not a myth, it is possible to state with authenticity that the modern history of Bharat begins
with the historic document, the Mahabharata and the War which occurred on the banks of River

Fourthly, Balarama's pilgrimage along the banks of River Sarasvati as described in 200 shlokas of
Salya Parva of the Mahabharata was a historic event and provides a geographical account of
northern Bharat.

Fifthly, the history of modern Bharat begins from about 3000 BCE, that is, from the Kaliyuga which
is reckoned from this date, according to Bharatiya Kala Ganana.

Sixthly, there is no historic document in human history which records historical events with such
astonishing accuracy, to the last tithi and nakshatra.

Seventhly, this demonstrates the remarkable astronomical knowledge possessed by the rishis of
Bharata, exemplified by Veda Vyasa as early as 5000 years ago and establishes Jyotisha which was
evolved in Bharata, as an early astronomical scientific discipline.

Thus, using modern astronomy computer-based software tools, it is now possible to state that
Mahabharata of Veda Vyasa is the earliest recorded history of Bharat and the modern history spans
from over 5000 years of continuous, indigenous civilization. The chronology of Bharatiya Itihas
should be reconstructed from this date and based on this historical document, and need not be based
on foreign travellers' accounts or theories propounded by western indologists.

Next steps. It is proposed to transport this presentation onto Planetaria in many cities of the country
and abroad; the presentation will show Veda Vyasa's text juxtaposed to the celestial inscriptions.
This will be an effective means of popularising jyotisha and itihas, i.e. by reaching the research
findings in Bharatiya Itihas to a large number of school children and scholars all over the world and
promoting further studies in Mahabharata as a sheet-anchor of Bharatiya Itihas. Hopefully, the
findings will also be recorded on CD's and distributed to all schools as part of the value-based
revised curricula.

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman’s presentation covered the following reports: The rebirth of River Sarasvati by
using the waters of River Sutlej, River Beas and River Sharada (called Mahakali-Karnali in Nepal)
is ongoing together with the development of the river basin as a world heritage basin. This has been
the catalyst for the project to network Himalayan and Peninsular rivers of the country to solve the
twin problems of frequent floods in some parts of the country and recurrent drought situations in
other parts of the country. The work of the National Water Development Agency, Min. of Water
Resources with 200 engineers who have worked for the last 20 years to prove the feasibility of these
links almost entirely by gravity flows is a magnificent engineering project linking Brahmaputra-
Ganga- Subarnarekha- Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Palar-Cauvery-Vaigai-Vaippar-Gundar-
Tamraparni to ensure equitable distribution of water resources in the country mainly fed from the
glacier sources.

Over 2,000 settlements which were nurtured on the banks of the river constituted the substratum of
the Sarasvati Civilization dated to between circa 5500 to 3500 years Before Present. With the
desiccation of the river, there were migrations eastward towards the Ganga-Yamuna doab,
southwards towards the Godavari and western coastline, westwards towards Gandhara in the
present-day Afghanistan. The neolithic cultures which are evidenced by the recent finds of the Gulf
of Khambat Cultural Complex blossomed from a maritime culture into a riverine culture and
emerged from chalcolithic to bronze age and the consolidation of the cultural traditions which are
present in almost every facet of the heritage cherished all over Bharat and exemplify the cultural
unity of the country from Mt. Kailas to Kanyakumari, from Somnath to Gawuhati. The civilization
was most extensive and extended from Ropar in Punjab to the Tigris-Euphrates valley
(Mesopotamian civilization area), from Caucus mountains to Daimabad on the banks of Godavari.

The discovery of the courses of Vedic River Sarasvati traversing a distance of 1,600 kms. from
Manasarovar (Mt. Kailas) to Gujarat is an unparalleled discovery in the history of human
civilization. Carrying the waters of River Sutlej and River Yamuna, the mighty river had drained
most of North-west Bharat for thousands of years prior to 3500 year Before Present (i.e. prior to
1500 BCE). The causes for the desiccation of the river have been established: tectonic events of the
type which hit Bhuj in Gujarat on 26 Jan. 2000 which are plate tectonics (clash of Deccan Plate with

the Eurasian Plate) resulted in river migrations and disappearance of the river into underground
channels in many stretches. River Yamuna migrated eastward circa 4500 years Before Present (i.e.
2500 BCE) and River Sutlej migrated westward circa 3500 years Before Present (i.e. 1500 BCE)
leaving the River Sarasvati entirely dependent upon monsoon waters of the Siwalik ranges,
depriving her of the glacier waters of the Himalayas. River Yamuna captured the waters of River
Sarasvati at Paonta Saheb (Himachal Pradesh), near a yamuna tear in the Himalayas, and carried
them to join with Ganga at Prayag (Allahabad) thus establishing the ground-truth of what is referred
to in Bharatiya tradition as Triveni Sangamam where a kumbhamela is held every 12 years. The
discovery of the ancient channels which were as wide as 6 kms. over the entire distance has been
substantiated by analyses of satellite imagery and by studies done by atomic scientists of Bhabha
Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai (tritium analysis). The tritium analysis was done in the wake of
the Pokaran hydrogen-bomb blasts which occurred on 11 May 1998 to ensure that there has been no
nuclear contamination of the ground-water aquifers. The most emphatic evidence that Sarasvati is
not a myth but ground-truth came from archaeology of the last 50 years. Out of over 2,600
archaeological sites of the so-called Indus Valley Civilization, as many as 2,000 (i.e 80%) of the site
are found on the banks of the River Sarasvati which flowed 300 kms. east of the River Sindhu.
There are very large sites on this River banks: Rakhigarhi, Lakhmirwala, Bhatinda, Ganweriwala,
each of which is larger than either Harappa or Mohenjodaro. There are also culturally vibrant sites
such as Ropar, Kunal, Kalibangan, Kotdiji, Dholavira, Surkotada, Lothal, Rangapura, Rojdi, Padri,
Dwaraka attesting to the maritime-riverine nature of the indigenous origins and evolution of the
civilization. The cultural traits found in this civilization continue into the historic periods of Bharat
and are present even today in the cultural mosaic of the nation. Some examples are: finds of shiva
linga at Harappa (dated to 4,500 years BP), finds of 50 seals and copper plate inscriptions carrying
the swastika glyph, find of a burial site of a woman at Mehergarh dated to 6500 BCE (i.e. 8500 BP)
with a wide bangle and ornaments made of s'ankha (turbinella pyrum); this s'ankha is a Rs.5 crore
industry even today in the coastline of Bharat particularly in Gulf of Mannar and Gulf of Khambat;
find of a terracotta image of a woman wearing red sindhu on the parting of her hair; find of a
statuette of a priest wearing angavastram as it is worn even today by priests in Bharat; find of
polished stone pillars at Dholavira like the stone pillars found in many architectural monuments all
over Bharat; find of a rock-cut reservoir and a pushkarini at Dholavira and Mohenjodaro, like the
pushkara-s which are present in many tirthasthana-s of the country; find of boat and cart similar to
those used even today in the region. The use of copper plate inscriptions continued into the
historicla periods within the country. Such is the uniqueness of the River Sarasvati that there are 72
r.ca-s in the R.gveda adoring the river; one Rishi Grtsamada calls her ambitame, naditame, devitame
sarasvati: i.e. best of mothers, best of rivers and best of godesses. There is only one reference to
River Ganga in this document attesting to the fact that the oldest human document, the R.gveda was
composed on the banks of the River Sarasvati. The vedic dharma and vrata traditions and the agama
traditions which have their roots in the river basin, continue in the cultural mosaic of the nation.

Such a great river got desiccated which led to migrations of people eastwards towards the ganga-
yamuna doab, westwards towards Gandhara, southwards hugging the coastline. Thus, it is
conclusively established that the roots of bharatiya civilization were indigenously evolved and there
were only contacts with neighbouring civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Caucasus for trade.

This is attested by the finds of decimal series of weights used in the civilization also used in the
Persian Gulf sites. A cuneiform cylinder seal found in Mesopotamia depicts a Meluhha merchant
visiting a royal personage in Mesopotamia accompanied by his wife carrying a kamandalu. It is
generally accepted that Meluhha referred to the Sarasvati-Riverine-Maritime civilization area. The
maritime nature of the civilization and the search for mineral resources from the bowels of the earth
is exemplified by the powerful metaphor of churning the ocean, as a co-operative endeavour.

Samudra or ks.i_rasa_gara manthanam, 'Churning of Ocean of Milk' Deva and Da_nava churn
the ocean, using Va_suki, the serpent as the rope and Mandara, the mountain as the churning rod. Ganesh
Lena, Ellora, ca. 11th cent. CE.
The projects for reviving this river using check-dams and watershed management techniques to
harvest the monsoon waters of Shivalik ranges, have started to ensure the availability of water in
River Sarasvati from Adh Badri to Sirsa all the year round. With the dams on Sutlej (Bhakra and
Nangal) and on Beas (Pong) providing the waters at the Harike reservoir, a Rajasthan Canal (also
called Sarasvati Mahanadi Roopa Nahar) has transformed the desert areas into fertile lands over a
stretch of 650 kms. Projects are ongoing to extend the Sarasvati Canal beyond Gedra Road (Barmer
Dist.) upto Rann of Kutch. By augmenting this canal with the glacier waters of Mahakali-Karnali
(Nepal) - Sharada (Bharat) which will be transferred across Yamuna, the Reborn Sarasvati will flow
upto River Sabarmati.
The discovery of Vedic River Sarasvati is a historic event unparalleled in the history of human
civilization. The river is not a myth but is ground-truth and had drained in North-west Bharat over a
distance of 1,600 kms. from Manasarovar, Mt. Kailas to Gujarat (Somnath, Prabhas Patan). The
discovery has been made through analyses of satellite images, archaeological discoveries of over
2,000 archaeological sites on the banks of the river, tritium analysis by atomic scientists and
geomorphological/ glaciological studies. The causes for the desiccation of this great river have also
been established as due to plate tectonics and consequent river migrations over a period of 1000
years between 4500 to 3500 years Before Present. Projects have been started to make this river flow
again. The river nurtured the civilization of Bharat on its banks and in the coastal areas surrounding
Gujarat with emphatic evidences of indigenous evolution and continuity of culture in the historic
periods of Bharat thus constituting the roots of Bharatiya Civilization.

The following key dates are found to be consistent with the sky inscriptions observed by Veda

• Krishna's departure on Revati Sept. 26, 3067 BCE

• Krishna's arrival in Hastinapura on Bharani Sept. 28, 3067 BCE
• Solar eclipse on Jyeshtha amavasya Oct. 14, 3067 BCE
• Krittika full moon (lunar eclipse) September 29, 3067 BCE
• War starts on November 22, 3067 BCE (Saturn in Rohini, Jupiter in Revati)
• Winter solstice, January 13, 3066 BCE
• Bhishma's expiry, January 17, 3066 BCE Magha shukla ashtami
• A fierce comet at Pushya October 3067 BCE
• Balarama sets off on pilgrimage on Sarasvati on Pushya day Nov. 1, 3067 BCE
• Balarama returns from pilgrimage on Sravana day Dec. 12, 3067 BCE
• On the day Ghatotkaca was killed moon rose at 2 a.m., Dec. 8, 3067 BCE

These dates, in particular the occurrence of Winter solstice which is a critical celestial event, gets
corroborated by the chronology of Kaus'i_taki Brahmana which should not be far-removed from the
date of S'atapatha Brahman.a (2927 BCE) which has been established by Dr. BN Narahari Achar
based on the Brahmana observations that the Kritthika (Pleiades group) rose exactly at the east point
(eta_ ha vai pra_cyai dis'e na cyavante: S'Br. II Kanda, Ch. 1, Br. 2,3).

In Kaus'i_taki Brahmana there are two statements:

sa vai ma_ghasya_ma_vasya_ya_mupas'asatyadangabha_vai sannupeme (KBr. XIX,3)

mukham va_ etat samvatr.sarasva yatr. pha_lguni_ paurn.ama_si_ mukhamuttare
puccham pu_rve (KBr., V,1)
[cf. S'Br. VI.2.2.18; Taittiriya Br.].

These observations indicate that

• the sun reached the winter solstice at the full moon Ma_gha
• the year was considered to be at its end at the full-moon at the star group Purva Phalguni_.

Dr. Phanindralal Gangooly notes: "From all of which we gather that the summer solstitial colure of
the earliest Brahmana period when this was the case was 3100 BCE (PC Sengupta, Age of the
Brahmana, in Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. X, No.3, 1934). The vernal equinoctial colure
passed through the star Rohini or Aldebaran. In the later Vedic times the sun's turning north very
probably took place a fortnight earlier. The S'atapatha Brahmana says that 'some want to have a few
nights more; if they want some more then they should begin the sacrifices on the night on which the
moon becomes first visible before the full moon at the Phalgunis.' (S'Br. II,6.4 Br. 11). These
sacrifices were begun as soon as the sun turned north. It shows that the solstices had precessed by
about 15 degrees and that the date when this took place was 2000 BCE. The earliest Brahmana
period may be called the Rohini-Phalguni_ period. Even at this time the five early luni-solar cycle
was known. (pancas'a_radauyo va_ eva yajn~a iti: TBr. 2.7.11). The calendar was luni-solar in
characte. The chief signals for the beginning and the end of the year were the full-moon at the U.
Phalguni_ and that at the Purva Phalguni_ respectively; from which the intercalary month were
detected." (Phanindralal Gangolly, ed., The Surya SIddhanta, a text-book of Hindu Astronomy,
Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, first edn. 1860, repr. Delhi 1989, Introduction, pp. xxxv-xxxvi).

Date of Mahabharata War using Planetarium Software

(based on a paper presented by Prof. B. N. Narahari Achar, The University of Memphis, Memphis
TN 38152 at the International Colloquium held in Bangalore on 5 and 6 January 2003. Over 200
scholars and scientists participated in the deliberations which included presentation of well-
documented and well-researched papers/power-point presentations with sky maps, by scholars from
Bharat and from USA. )

Dr. Narahari Achar has conclusively demonstrated that the astronomical events described in
the Mah˜bh˜rata show a remarkable consistency and they could have occurred at about 3000
BCE. These events must have been observed and could not have been back calculated by a
clever astronomer to be interpolated into the text. The simulations of events then point to
3067 BCE as the date of the Mah˜bh˜rata war. This date is identical to the one given by
Raghavan and appears to be the best in accounting for practically all of the astronomical
references in the epic. More work is needed to establish the beginning date of kaliyuga.
Further research is indicated in establishing the knowledge of the comets possessed by the
ancient Indian astronomers.
[1]. Pusalker, A. D., "Traditional History from the earliest Time to the Accession of
Parikshit", in The Vedic Age, Majumdar, R. C., Pusalker, A. D., and Majumdar, A. K. (ed.)
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, (Mumbai, 1996)
[2] Dikshit, S. B., Bh˜ratŸya Jyotiÿþ˜stra , Government of India Press, (Calcutta, 1969)
Part I
[3]. Kane, P. V., History of Dharmasastra, BORI, (Poona, 1958) Vol. III.
[4] Simson, Georg Von, "Narrated Time and its Relation to the Supposed Year Myth in
the Mahabharata" in Composing a Tradition, Proceedings of the First Dalbrovnik
International Conference on Sanskrit Epics and Puranas, (Zagreb, 1999)
[5]. Sathe, S. Search for the Year of the Bharata War, Navabharati Publications,
(Hyderabad, 1983)
[6] Kochhar, R., The Vedic People, Orient Longman, (Hyderabad, 1997)
[7]. Sidharth, B. G., The Celestial Key to the Vedas, Inner Traditions, (Rochester, 1999)
[8]. Sengupta, P. C., Ancient Indian Chronology, University of Calcutta, (Calcutta, 1947)
[9]. Raghavan, K. S., The Date of the Mahabharata War, Srirangam Printers,
(Srinivasanagar, 1969)
[10]. Sathe, S., Deshmukh, V., and Joshi, P., Bharatiya Yuddha: Astronomical References,
Shri Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, (Pune, 1985).
List of Figures

Figure 1. Distribution of the Date attributed to the Mah˜bh˜rata War and the
number of authors proclaiming it. (General)
Figure 1a. Methodologies used in the Dating of the War
Figure 2. Distribution of the Date attributed to the Mah˜bh˜rata War and the
number of authors proclaiming it. (Astronomical)
Figure 3. Distribution of þlokas referring to astronomical events among the
parvas of the epic.
Figure 4. View of the sky in Delhi in July 857 BCE.
Figure 5. View of the sky in Delhi in October 955 BCE.
Figure 6. Winter Solstice in 955 BCE.
Figure 7. View of the sky in june 1311 BCE
Figure 8. New Moon in Jyeÿ÷ha in October 2449 BCE
Figure 9. Winter Solstice in 2449 BCE
Figure 10. K®ÿõa's Departure on revati Day
Figure 11. K®ÿõa's Arrival in Hastin˜pura on Bharaõi day
Figure 12. K®ÿõa Rides with Karõa on uttraph˜lguõŸ day
Figure 13. Jyÿ÷ha am˜v˜sy˜, October 14, 3067 BCE
Figure 14. K˜rtika Full Moon, (lunar eclipse) September 29, 3067
Figure 15. Retrograde Motion of Mars
Figure 16. War starts, November 22, 3067
Figure 17. Winter Solstice 3066 BCE
Figure 18. BhŸÿma's Expiry January 17, 3066 BCE
Figure 19. Prograde and retrograde motion of Budha
Figure 20. Sky Diary for October 3067 BCE
Figure 21. A fierce comet at puÿya
Figure 22. The planets Saturn and Jupiter stay for a year
Figure 23. magh˜su aðg˜rako vakra×
Figure 24. þravaõeca b®haspati×
Figure 25. viÿ˜khayo× samŸpasthau
Figure 26. Sky Diary for November 3031 BCE
Figure 26a A penumbral lunar eclipse
Figure 27. Balar˜ma sets off on puÿya Day
Figure 28. Balar˜ma returns on þravaõa Day
Figure 29. Moon rising in the early morning hours

Methodologies Used in the Dating of the War

• Linuistics
• Textual Evidence from Vedic Texts
• Geneological Lists from the Puranas
• Archeological Evidence
• Astronomical References

Figure 1a. Methodologies used in the Dating of the War

Figure 2. Distribution of the Date

attributed to the Mah˜bh˜rata War and
Figure 1. Distribution of the Date the number of authors proclaiming it.
attributed to the Mah˜bh˜rata War and the (Astronomical)
number of authors proclaiming it. (General)

Figure 3. Distribution of þlokas referring
to astronomical events among the parvas of the Figure 4. View of the sky in
epic. Delhi in July 857 BCE.

Figure 6. Winter Solstice in 955

Figure 5. View of the sky in Delhi in
October 955 BCE.

Figure 8. New Moon in Jyeÿ÷ha
Figure 7. View of the sky in june 1311
in October 2449 BCE

Figure 9. Winter Solstice in 2449 BCE

Figure 11. K®ÿõa's Arrival in
Figure 10. K®ÿõa's Departure on revati Hastin˜pura on Bharaõi day

Figure 12. K®ÿõa Rides with Karõa on

Figure 13. Jyÿ÷ha am˜v˜sy˜, October 14,
uttraph˜lguõŸ day
3067 BCE

Figure 14. K˜rtika Full Moon, (lunar
eclipse) September 29, 3067

Figure 15. Retrograde Motion of Mars

Figure 16. War starts, November 22, Figure 17. Winter Solstice 3066 BCE

Figure 19. Prograde and retrograde
Figure 18. BhŸÿma's Expiry January 17,
motion of Budha
3066 BCE

Figure 20. Sky Diary for October 3067 Figure 21. A fierce comet at puÿya

Figure 22. The planets Saturn and Figure 23. magh˜su aðg˜rako vakra×

Jupiter stay for a year

Figure 24. þravaõeca b®haspati× Figure 25. viÿ˜khayo× samŸpasthau

Figure 26a A penumbral lunar eclipse

Figure 26. Sky Diary for November

3031 BCE

Figure 28. Balar˜ma returns on þravaõa

Figure 27. Balar˜ma sets off on puÿya

Figure 29. Moon rising in the early morning hours

Sarasvati Civilization
An overview

A historical project in search of River Sarasvati to discover our roots, has become a magnificent
opportunity for national resurgence and to make Bharat a developed nation.

This is presented in three sections: observations, conclusions and areas for further research.


Many sparks have emerged from the anvils of scholars and researches of a variety of disciplines –
all focused on the roots of civilization of Bharat.

Collated together, these sparks have become a floodlight which throws new light on the civilization
of Bharat.

It is a new light on the civilization because of the following reasons:

• A mighty river, a river mightier than Brahmaputra had drained in North-west Bharat for
thousands of years prior to 1500 BCE (Before Common Era).

• The collective memory of a billion people, carried through traditions built up, generation
after generation, recalls a river called Sarasvati; this memory is enshrined in the celebration
of a Mahakumbha Mela celebrated every 12 years at a place called Prayag where the River
Ganga joins with River Yamuna. River Sarasvati is also shown as a small monsoon-fed
stream in the topo-maps of Survey of India and in village revenue records in Punjab and

Yet, the tradition holds that there is a triven.i san:gamma (confluence of

three rivers). The third river is River Sarasvati. This tradition has now
been established as a scientific fact – ground truth -- thanks to the
researches carried out using satellite imageries, geo-morphological
studies, glaciological and seismic studies and even the use of tritium
analysis (of traces of tritium present in the bodies of water found in the
middle of the Marusthali desert) by atomic scientists. The desiccation of
the river was caused by plate tectonics and river migrations, between 2500
and 1500 BCE.

These studies have established beyond any doubt that River Sarasvati was
a mighty river because it was a confluence of rivers emanating from
Himalayan glaciers; the River Sutlej and River Yamna were anchorage,
tributary rivers of River Sarasvati. The river had drained over a distance
of over 1,600 kms. from Manasarovar glacier (W. Tibet) to Somnath
(Gujarat) with an average width of 6-8 kms. At Shatrana (south of Patiala),

satellite image shows a 20 km. wide palaeo-channel (ancient course), at
the confluence of five streams – Sutlej, Yamuna, Markanda, Aruna, Somb
– referred to as Pan~ca Pra_ci_ Sarasvati in Bharatiya tradition. This
becomes Saptatha Dha_ra Sarasvati when two other streams – Dr.s.advati
and Ghaggar – join the River Sarasvati at Sirsa
• A civilization was nurtured on the banks of this River Sarasvati as recognized through
the work of archaeologists and the geographical/historical facts contained in ancient
texts of Bharat, such as the Mahabharata and Pura_n.a. This civilization was an
indigenous evolution from earlier than 10000 BCE and can be said to be one of the
oldest civilizations in the world, heralding the Vedic heritage.
Over 2,000 archaeological sites have been discovered in the Sarasvati River Basin. There is
a description, in 200 s’lokas, in the S’alya Parva of Mahabharata of a pilgrimage
undertaken by Balarama, elder brother of Kr.s.n.a, along the River Sarasvati from Dwaraka
to Yamunotri.
• The oldest extant human document is the R.gveda which is a compilation of 11,000
r.ca-s perceived by hundreds of seers. An understanding of this document is
fundamental to an understanding of the cultural ethos of Bharat.
• R.gveda presents a world-view in allegorical and metaphorical terms perceiving an
essential unity in cosmic phenomena and r.ta (a rhythm which modulates the terrestrial
and celestial events alike). While the document presents the early philosophical thought
related to dharma, it also describes the lives and activities of people – the Bharatiya.
R.gveda thus presents a variegated picture covering a variety of facets of a maritime-
riverine civilization, such as transport systems, agriculture, use of fire, minerals and
metals to produce household utensils, ornaments, tools and weapons. Archaeologists
have unearthed many examples of technology used in the days of the Sarasvati
Civilization (from circa 3500 BCE to 1500 BCE). These provide evidence for the
evolution of s’ankha industry in 6500 BCE, preparation of alloys such as pan~caloha,
bronze, brass, pewter and bell-metal.
• A dialectical continuum has existed in Bharat from the days of R.gveda and Sarasvati
Civilization. The civilization constituted a linguistic area, as it is even today in Bharat.
Mleccha was a language spoken by Vidura and Yudhis.t.hira as evidenced by
Mahabharata. Mleccha were vra_tya-s who worked with minerals and metals. The
semantic structures (words and meanings) of all languages of Bharat – Munda,
Dravidian or Indo-Aryan categories – present an essential unity among the speakers of
various dialects of Bharat. The seven volume work on Sarasvati substantially draws
upon the Indian Lexicon, which is a comparative dictionary of over 25 ancient
languages of Bharat.
• Using this lexical repertoire of the linguistic area called Bharat, it has been possible to
crack the code of the epigraphs of the civilization inscribed on over 4,000 objects
including seals, tablets, weapons and copper plates. The epigraphs are composed of
hieroglyphs (referred to as Mlecchita Vikalpa – picture writing --, one of the 64 arts
listed by Va_tsya_yana).

The code of hieroglyphs is based on rebus (use of similar sounding words and
depicted through pictures) and represent the property possessions of braziers –
possessions such as furnaces, minerals, metals, tools and weapons. These were also
traded over an extensive area upto Tigris-Euphrates river valley in Mesopotamia
and the Caspian Sea in Europe.

• The tradition of epigraphy evidenced in punch-marked coins and copper plate

inscriptions in the context of Sarasvati Epigraphs points to millions of manuscripts and
documents remaining unexplored all over Bharat.
• Ongoing projects for the rebirth of River Sarasvati has opened a new vista in water
management in Bharat, which has an ancient tradition of water management
exemplified by the rock-cut reservoir in Dholavira, the grand anicut on Kaveri, the step
wells and pus.karin.is in all parts of Bharat.
• Desiccation of River Sarasvati is a warning to us about the unpredictability of the
impact of tectonics on hydrological systems sourced from the Himalayas, for e.g. the
Rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra.


• River Sarasvati is neither a legend, nor a myth, but ground-truth, a river which was flowing
for thousands of years prior to Vedic times.
• Bharatiya Civilization is an indigenous evolution and cultural continuity is established from
the Vedic times to the present day.
• For thousands of years before the days of Mahabharata War (ca. 3000 BCE), the Bharatiya
had contacts with neighbouring civilizations.
• The historicity of Mahabharata has been established making it a sheet anchoe of
Bharatiya Itiha_sa.
• After the desiccation of River Sarasvati (finally by about 3000 years ago), Bharatiya-s
moved to other parts of the world.
• The metaphor of Samudra manthanam (celebrated in the Bha_vata Pura_n.a) is a
depiction of the reality of a cooperating society which had united all the people of Bharat into
life-activities including the environmentally sustainable use of natural resource offered by
Mother Earth (Bhu_devi).
• Sarasvati is adored in Bharatiya tradition as a river, as a mother and as a divinity –
ambitame, nadi_tame, devitame sarasvati. This is an abiding spiritual foundation which resides
in the heart of every Bharatiya.
• The epigraphs evidence one of the early writing systems of the world.
• The search and discovery of River Sarasvati has revealed a thread of essential unity – a
bond among the people of Bharat. This has emerged from Vedic times and continues even
today. This is the unity of an integral society, a resurgent nation and a unified culture which
can be found in all parts of Bharat, from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean.
• Research Institutions have to be established in different disciplines of historical studies
to study the manuscripts and documents in the archival collections in all parts of the country.
• The initiation of a project for interlinking of rivers is a laudable, first step in creating a
National Water Grid which has the potential to ensure equitable distribution of water
resources to all parts of the country and to make Bharat a developed nation in 15 years’

The establishment of the Water Grid is a national imperative and should be an
unmotivated action (l’acte gratuite) devoid of political overtones.
• The establishment of an inter-disciplinary Sarasvati Research Centre in Kurukshetra
will help in progressing further researches on water resources management, and study
of our history, heritage and culture.

Areas for further researches

• Glaciological researches are needed in relation to the glacial source of River Sarasvati
which is referred to as Plaks.a Pras’ravan.a in the ancient texts.
• Seismological studies are needed to determine the chronology of events connected with
the submergence of Dwaraka, the Gulf of Khambat and other coastal regions of Bharat.
• Meteorological, glaciological and seismological studies have to be related to plate
tectonics – the dynamic Indian plate and the evolving Himalayas – for a better
understanding of the hydrological systems, sustainability and management of a
National Water Grid for Bharat.
• Archaeological work on the 2,000 sites on Sarasvati River Basin have to be related to
the events described in the ancient epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata
• The Vedic texts, epics and Purana-s contain historical information.which can be
validated through archaeological, astronomical and geographical studies.
• Epigraphical and language studies in relation to the evolution and spread of languages
and scripts of Bharat.
• Scholars have to be encouraged to study the unexplored manuscripts lying in
museums, libraries and private collections.
• Researches for establishing the National Water Grid should be objective and
provide a new vision to reach out the water and agricultural resources of
thecountry, equitably, to all people and for the development of the nation.



Agastya, 53, 85 bed, 36, 42, 46, 47, 49, 50, 116
Agate, 157, 160 belt, 65, 80, 124, 156
agriculture, 20, 98, 150, 151 Bha_rata, 30, 31, 34, 55, 79, 88, 98,
Akkadian, 4, 18, 27, 39, 68, 78, 105 107, 120, 123, 131, 168, 172, 174
amethyst, 165 bha_s.a_, 25, 32, 34
Amri, 15, 28, 70, 77, 93, 140 Bhairava, 55, 77, 85, 88, 89, 90, 94, 119
antelope, 27, 32, 40, 41, 42, 65, 100, Bharata, 4, 7, 11, 174, 177, 182
110, 172 Bhr.gu, 30
Anu, 4, 21 blade, 96
Arabian Gulf, 78 BMAC, 15, 88
Aravalli, 158 boat, 44, 75, 76, 81, 82, 83, 84, 178
arch, 108, 169 bone, 18, 31, 57, 60, 63, 158, 168, 169,
Archaeological Survey of India, 72, 170
130, 159 boss, 98
archer, 40, 45, 58, 168, 170, 171, 172 bow, 45, 58, 59, 87, 94, 99, 106, 113,
architecture, 4, 9, 119, 131, 144, 147, 154, 157, 159, 168, 169, 170, 171,
149 172
arrow, 39, 46, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172 Brahui, 2, 27
astronomy, 173, 177 brass, 37, 43, 44, 46, 49, 50, 58, 63, 65,
Atharva Veda, 94 169
Austro-Asiatic, 30 brazier, 43, 44, 45, 46, 50, 63, 92
Avestan, 2, 3, 6, 7, 21, 33, 36, 88 brick, 10, 18, 38, 75, 81, 89, 92, 117,
axe, 42, 46, 49, 50, 99 132, 136, 146
Bactria, 15, 88 bronze, 1, 13, 23, 28, 33, 41, 48, 49, 56,
Bahrain, 78 58, 63, 64, 77, 83, 85, 89, 95, 98,
baked brick, 136, 142, 151 114, 115, 117, 124, 136, 177
Balakot, 19, 129, 157 Buddha, 5, 14, 89, 101
Baluchistan, 2, 15, 19, 70, 159 buffalo, 37, 38, 102, 105, 125
Banawali, 16, 17, 129, 150 buildings, 88, 117, 136, 142, 157
barley, 11, 18, 69, 154 bull, 26, 31, 40, 41, 42, 44, 65, 68, 87,
bath, 134, 136, 142 102, 108, 109, 120, 172
bead, 92, 124, 154, 156, 157, 158, 159, bun, 19, 112, 113, 114, 115, 123, 131
160, 163, 167 burial, 54, 86, 107, 117, 141, 155, 178
beadmaking, 157, 165, 166 calendar, 180
beads, 18, 41, 53, 56, 78, 83, 85, 89, 92, caravan, 172
98, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, carnelian, 56, 124, 153, 155, 156, 157,
159, 160, 163, 164, 166, 167 158, 159, 160, 161, 165, 171
carp, 42 Dr.s.advati, 20
carpenter, 27, 45, 58, 59 Dravidian, 2, 3, 5, 28, 29, 30
cart, 61, 76, 178 drill, 56, 154, 155, 157, 159
cattle, 5, 6, 10, 12, 151, 172 drilling, 157, 159
Central Asia, 12, 15 Druhyu, 4, 21
Chalcolithic, 158 duck, 153
Chanhudaro, 159 Durga, 125
chert, 159 Early Harappan, 15, 140
chipped, 53, 87, 157 Egypt, 18, 83, 95, 156, 160, 166
chisel, 44 Elam, 33
Cholistan, 131 elephant, 31, 39, 40, 65, 92, 101, 102
cistern, 147 embroidery, 117
citadel, 72, 128, 133, 134, 137, 146 etched, 78, 157, 158, 159, 160
cities, 9, 14, 15, 16, 98, 138, 142, 177 faience, 18, 45, 98, 117, 118, 156
city, 14, 70, 80, 94, 129, 130, 139, 148, Fairservis, 28
158, 159 farm, 140
clay, 82, 153, 156 figurine, 35, 55, 56, 102, 109, 114, 115,
cloak, 32, 113, 114 121, 124, 153, 156
cloth, 65, 83, 100, 116, 117, 171 fillet, 45, 112, 113
cobra, 92 fish, 36, 38, 42, 44, 46, 47, 49, 50, 140
coins, 92, 94, 95 Ganga, 15, 18, 25, 34, 70, 74, 159, 177,
copper, 1, 19, 25, 31, 36, 41, 42, 43, 45, 178
46, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 57, 58, 59, 61, Ganweriwala, 128, 178
62, 63, 64, 65, 68, 83, 98, 116, 117, gateway, 130, 145, 171
121, 123, 136, 138, 157, 158, 159, glass, 41, 98, 109, 166, 167
172, 178 glazed faience, 158
cotton, 117, 156 goat, 10, 38, 63, 65, 87
crocodile, 171 godess, 121, 125
crown, 4, 37, 38, 71, 91 gold, 19, 36, 37, 43, 45, 48, 49, 51, 52,
cubical, 142 56, 59, 61, 62, 64, 68, 70, 91, 94, 95,
cuneiform, 3, 179 98, 154, 155, 156, 168, 169
cylinder seal, 38, 179 goldsmith, 27, 36, 37, 38, 43, 44, 46,
dagger, 102, 107, 125 48, 50, 59, 61, 62, 64, 66, 68
deer, 99 granary, 117, 130, 136, 137
deity, 4, 7, 10, 23, 90, 91, 103, 108 grapheme, 64
dharma, 5, 26, 77, 178 Gujarat, 16, 18, 28, 29, 72, 93, 94, 95,
Dholavira, 17, 28, 62, 72, 73, 74, 117, 149, 158, 177, 179
118, 119, 128, 129, 132, 133, 145, Gujarati, 2, 7
147, 178 Gulf of Khambat, 28, 29, 53, 76, 77, 78,
dice, 153 93, 129, 138, 153, 177, 178
Dilmun, 1, 78 gypsum, 74, 79
dotted circle, 32, 120, 121, 172 hammer, 96

Harappa, 17, 25, 35, 45, 53, 54, 63, 75, Kon
86, 87, 92, 107, 108, 109, 113, 114, kan.i, 39
116, 117, 121, 124, 128, 130, 132, Kot Diji, 15, 105, 132, 140, 156
138, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 160, Kunal, 17, 178
161, 163, 172, 178 Kutch, 16, 19, 29, 53, 72, 76, 77, 78,
hare, 56 93, 128, 129, 138, 179
headdress, 26, 37, 39, 109, 124, 156 language, 3, 15, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29,
hearth, 36, 42, 46, 47, 49, 50, 61 30, 31, 32
Hindu, 7, 9, 11, 53, 55, 56, 84, 87, 89, languages, 2, 8, 12, 18, 20, 26, 27, 29,
92, 96, 180 30, 31, 32, 33, 34
horned, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 44, 67, 87, lapidary, 36, 87
99, 118 lapis lazuli, 156, 157, 158
horse, 3, 40, 55, 87, 92, 99, 103 lattice, 149
hunter, 99 lead, 19, 39, 47, 57, 74, 86, 159, 172
incised, 31, 53, 82, 86, 98, 102, 155, lizard, 36, 117, 119
169 Lothal, 17, 41, 79, 80, 81, 93, 128, 129,
Indo-Aryan, 3, 12, 15, 16, 21, 27, 28, 142, 152, 153, 178
29, 30 Mackay, 104, 107, 117, 123, 153, 159,
Indo-Iranian, 3, 4, 12, 28 172
ingot, 47, 52, 61, 63 Magadha, 4
inlaid, 68, 86, 169 Magan, 1, 78
inscription, 12, 23, 31, 78, 89, 130 Maha_bha_rata, 14, 22, 88, 103
ivory, 18, 45, 99, 123, 153, 168, 169, Mahadevan, 65, 93
170 Makran, 53, 77, 78, 85, 93, 128, 158
janapada, 34 Marshall, 18, 32, 45, 98, 114, 115, 117,
Jarrige, 15, 16, 56, 69, 102, 151, 158 124, 131, 156, 171
jasper, 156, 157 Meadow, 69, 151
jewelry, 154 Mehrgarh, 14, 28, 53, 69, 85, 123, 141,
Kalibangan, 17, 25, 71, 104, 107, 128, 151, 157
129, 134, 138, 150, 151, 178 Meluhha, 1, 2, 27, 41, 78, 117, 159, 179
Kalyanaraman, 68, 177 Meluhhan, 27, 28
Kashmir, 89 merchants, 1, 19
Kashmiri, 26 Mesopotamia, 1, 33, 69, 95, 98, 117,
Kenoyer, 2, 15, 16, 19, 35, 45, 53, 54, 131, 156, 158, 159, 178
55, 56, 63, 75, 76, 82, 85, 86, 87, metal, 1, 18, 26, 36, 37, 38, 39, 41, 42,
102, 107, 108, 109, 112, 113, 115, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52,
117, 123, 124, 128, 136, 137, 153, 56, 57, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67,
154, 155, 156, 157, 158 68, 105, 130, 168, 170
Khetri, 138 metallurgy, 83
kiln, 26, 35, 37, 38, 42, 61, 68, 116 metals, 1, 26, 27, 36, 38, 45, 50, 59, 61,
Kish, 98, 109, 159 66, 68, 108, 154
kneeling, 40, 91 microbeads, 156

mining, 19 Possehl, 14, 15, 16, 18, 28, 79, 109,
Mleccha, 25 121, 131, 132
Mlecchita, 25 pottery, 9, 18, 35, 108, 109, 140, 141,
Mohenjodaro, 13, 15, 17, 35, 45, 53, 151
74, 75, 81, 85, 86, 93, 109, 112, 113, Pra_kr.t, 2, 8
114, 117, 118, 124, 127, 128, 132, Priest, 67, 68
133, 135, 136, 138, 139, 146, 147, Punjab, 15, 18, 22, 88, 89, 160, 177
150, 156, 159, 178 Puru, 4, 21
molded, 108 quartz, 155, 157
monkey, 118 R.gveda, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 23, 25, 30,
mould, 45, 47, 50, 108 34, 36, 55, 89, 93, 104, 174, 178
mud-brick, 10 Ra_ma_yan.a, 4, 20, 22, 80, 92, 114,
Mundari, 36, 59, 63 115
Nausharo, 55, 56, 102, 108, 141, 153, Rajasthan, 10, 11, 18, 19, 149, 172, 179
158 Rakhigarhi, 13, 128, 178
necklace, 56, 104, 119, 156 ram, 10, 37, 42, 172
Neolithic, 29, 69, 141, 151, 157 ratha, 101, 170, 172
onager, 172 Ravi, 128
one-horned, 40, 41, 42, 65, 66, 99, 108, raw material, 157, 158, 166
109, 172 rebus, 26, 36, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47,
onyx, 165 49, 50, 52, 57, 59, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66,
ore, 19, 36, 39, 41, 62, 64, 65 67, 68
organization, 18 red ochre, 98
ornaments, 53, 56, 78, 85, 91, 93, 94, reservoir, 25, 70, 72, 74, 81, 147, 178,
98, 100, 107, 123, 158, 178 179
Oxus, 15 rhinoceros, 11, 38, 172
Pakistan, 18, 31, 63, 69, 70, 75, 76, 86, rice, 141, 151, 152
105, 109, 112, 116, 128, 138, 140, Rojdi, 178
142, 154, 155, 156, 157 Ropar, 79, 177, 178
palaeolithic, 168 Sanskrit, 2, 3, 23, 26, 28, 32, 91, 92,
Parpola, 8, 88 120, 182
peacock, 39, 171 Santali, 1, 26, 36, 37, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43,
pendant, 56, 114, 115, 124, 156 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 50, 51, 52, 56, 57,
perforated, 87 58, 59, 61, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68
Persian Gulf, 41, 69, 76, 154, 179 Sarasvati, 1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18,
phallus, 100 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29,
pipal, 37, 38 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 53, 68, 69,
plant, 37, 39, 151 71, 76, 77, 79, 83, 85, 88, 93, 98,
plants, 33 101, 110, 117, 120, 125, 128, 129,
platform, 37, 38, 39, 40, 52, 63, 82, 131, 138, 140, 144, 151, 153, 154,
121, 128, 136, 139, 140, 141 158, 159, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177,
Pleiades, 180 179

Saurashtra, 16, 19, 53 terracotta, 25, 38, 45, 56, 63, 65, 83, 92,
saw, 33, 77, 87, 95, 96, 98 108, 109, 124, 140, 156, 171, 178
sealing, 108, 120, 130 terracotta cake, 108, 140
serpent, 32, 40, 61, 71, 77, 105, 179 terracotta tablet, 45, 63
serpentine, 156 textile, 116
Shaffer, 15, 16 throne, 38, 99
sheep, 10, 11, 98 tiger, 26, 32, 39, 65, 68, 100, 102, 110,
shell, 18, 19, 43, 47, 48, 52, 53, 54, 55, 171, 172
85, 86, 87, 92, 94, 95, 96, 107, 113, Tigris, 69, 76, 177
155, 156, 158, 169, 170 tin, 1, 19, 39, 41, 42, 45, 47, 49, 51, 57,
ship, 30, 83, 84 58, 63, 64, 68, 158
shipping, 82 tokens, 96
Silver, 81 tools, 1, 27, 36, 37, 43, 117, 154, 157,
Sindh, 16, 69, 70 158, 175, 177
Sindhi, 2 tortoise, 66, 92, 170
Siwalik, 173, 178 traders, 12, 15, 19, 94
snake, 38, 39, 88, 90, 92, 170 transport, 18, 77, 177
soma, 20, 21, 33, 36, 37, 170 tree, 26, 31, 39, 41, 63, 65, 108, 120,
spear, 39, 105, 106 121, 123
squirrel, 118 trefoil, 32, 68
standing person, 44 Turkmenistan, 15
steatite, 82, 98, 156 turquoise, 157, 158
stone bead, 119, 154, 156, 157 Ur, 81, 83, 121, 131, 132, 158, 159
stone sculptures, 149 Valdiya, 29
stoneware, 35 Vats, 107, 161, 163
stoneware bangle, 35 vedic, 3, 32, 83, 93, 178
stool, 38, 40, 104 vessels, 50, 51, 77, 81, 83, 86, 98, 117
storage jar, 35 Vindhya, 20
stupa, 89, 91, 101, 118, 142 war, 31, 84, 94, 170, 174, 175, 181
Sumerian, 38, 78, 158 warfare, 168
Sutlej, 79, 177, 179 weapons, 1, 7, 25, 36, 83, 95, 98, 105,
svastika_, 26, 31, 121 106, 123, 136, 171, 172
symbols, 53, 87, 92, 106, 172 weaving, 18, 108, 116
tablets, 25, 36, 43, 45, 46, 47, 50, 51, weights, 18, 98, 108, 154, 155, 179
56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 98, 108, 117, wheat, 18, 69
155 Wheeler, 15, 136, 137
Tamil, 1, 26, 30, 94, 95, 151 workshop, 38, 39, 40, 48, 62, 64, 65,
Taxila, 159, 160, 162, 163, 164 66, 68, 93, 95, 105, 117
Telugu, 149, 151 workshops, 94
temple, 23, 40, 60, 70, 71, 74, 77, 88, worship, 2, 107
90, 91, 92, 107, 110, 123, 126, 131, writing, 25, 31, 34, 77, 98, 175
137, 144, 148, 149, 166 writing system, 25, 34, 77

yajn~a, 26, 77, 102, 103, 180 yogic, 27, 37, 38, 120, 121
Yama, 5 Yudhis.t.hira, 25
Yamuna, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, 101, 177, Zebu, 26, 31, 120

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End Notes
Ancient Ship-Building & Maritime Trade
by D. P. Agrawal & Lalit Tiwari
The beginnings of boat building technology in India go back to the Third Millennium BC, to the Harappan times. The Harappans
(or Indus Civilization) constructed the first tide dock of the world for berthing and servicing ships at the port town of Lothal (Rao,
1987). The discovery of the Lothal port and dock in 1955 highlighted the maritime aspects of the Indus Civilization. At Lothal a
trapezoid reservoir measuring on an average 214 x 36 meters has been excavated, and has been identified as a dockyard. It is
riveted on all four sides with continuous dry masonry burnt-brick walls, 4- courses wide, which at its greatest extant depth reaches
to 3m (but might have been originally much higher). The structure was stratigraphically connected to the old riverbed of Sabarmati.
Towards the southern end there is a broad and relatively shallow gap. This has been supposed to be the inlet channel of the dock.
Leading from the southern wall is a narrow brick water passage, said to have functioned as a spill channel, when fitted with a
sluice-gate. According to S.R.Rao, the dock has been used in two stages, at the first stage it was designed to allow ships 18-20
meters long and 4-6 meters wide. At least two ships could simultaneously pass and enter easily. In the second stage, the inlet
channel was narrowed to accommodate large ships but only single ships with flat bottoms could enter. The terracotta models of a
boat from Lothal and engravings on Indus seals give some idea of ships going to the sea. Lothal is situated near Saragwala village,
about fifty miles southwest of Ahmedabad. It lies in a level plain between the Bhogava and Sabarmati rivers and at present is some
twelve miles from the Gulf of Cambay coast. The siltation rate of the Sabarmati delta is known to be rapid, so that in former times
the site may actually have been nearer the sea. Lothal, with its large market and a busy dock, was a great emporium where goods
from neighboring towns and villages, such as Rangpur, Kath etc. were sold in exchange for imported and locally manufactured
ones. Lothal had developed overseas trade with the West Co ast of India on the one hand and the Mesopotamian cities through the
Bahrain islands on the other. Among the manufacturing industries of Lothal bead making, ivory and shell working and bronze-
smithy were very important. For the land transport they used bullock carts and pack animals for long distance trade. For inland
waterways, flat-bottomed boats of the type suggested by the terracotta models were used. In this connection it may be noted that
even today flat -bottomed boats made of reeds are used for carrying men and light goods. Perhaps the Harappans used similar boats
in the lakes and rivers also. Trade on the high seas and along the coast was possible because the ships were fitted with sails.
Harappans not only built a unique dock but also provided facilities for handling cargo. There were other smaller ports such as
Bhagatrav, Sutkagendor and Sutkakah, and perhaps a large one at Dholavira, all in Gujarat. An engraving on a seal from
Mohenjodaro represents a sailing ship with a high prow; the stern was made of reeds. In the center, it had a square cabin. Out of
five miniature clay models of boats one is complete and represents a ship with sail. The latter has a sharp keel, a pointed prow and a
high flat stern. Two blind holes are also visible. One of them seen near the stern was meant for the mast, and the other on the edge

of the ship may be for steering. In the second model, which is rather damaged, the stern and the prow were both curved high up as
in the Egyptian boats of the Garzean period. The keel is pointed and the margins are raised. A hole made a little away from the
center was meant for the mast. In this case, the prow was broken. Three other damaged models found at Lothal have a flat base and
a pointed prow, but the keel is not pointed nor is there any hole for fixing the mast. Apparently these flat -based craft were used on
rivers and creeks without sail, while the other two types with sail and sharp keels plied on the high seas and were berthed in the
deep waters of the Gulf. Probably the canoe types of flat -based boats were the only ones, which could be sluiced at high tide.
Another type of boat can be reconstructed from the paintings on two potsherds. It represents a boat with multiple oars. The
Harappan ship must have been as big as the modern country crafts, which bring timber from Malabar to Gogha. On this analogy it
can be assumed that a load up to 60 tons could be carried by these ships. The sizes of the anchor stones found in the Lothal dock
also support this view (Rao, 1979, 1985).
It is a recorded fact that Pushyadeva, the ruler of Sindh (now in Pakistan) pushed back the formidable Arab navy attacks in 756 AD,
which only indicates his marine prowess. The historical text Yuktikalpataru (11th Century AD) deals with shipbuilding and gives
details of various types of ships. Boats used for different purposes were called by different names such as Samanya, Madhyamaand
Visesha for passenger service, cargo, fishing and ferrying over the river. The earliest reference to maritime activities in India occurs
in Rigveda, "Do thou whose countenance is turned to all side send off our adversaries, as if in a ship to the opposite shore: do thou
convey us in a ship across the sea for our welfare" (Rigveda, 1, 97, 7 and 8).
The technology of boat building was a hereditary profession passing from father to son and was a monopoly of a particular caste of
people. The local builders used the hand, fingers and feet as the units of measurements. In different places different kinds of boats
were built for specific purposes. These boats may bear some similarity in material, techniques or in shape and size. For the
construction of ship , the teak (Tectona grandis) wood is generally employed in India, though the selection of wood depends upon
the nature and type of craft.
The traditional construction of a boat starts with the laying of a keel (keel is foundation beam for the boat and ship), a massive
piece of wood supported on a branching stern about a foot above the ground at both ends. This is stepped to take the stern-post
(rearmost part of a ship or boat) and also the stem post (the pointed front part of a ship or boat), all made of massive pieces of
timber. The keel is laid first and later the planks or ribs are attached. Usually for the keel and stern one single piece of wood is
always preferred. The planks are then fastened horizontally on either side of the keel. The planks join is edge to edge. Rudder is a
flat broad piece of wood, which is mainly used for getting a forwards lead to the expected direction and is not seen in all traditional
crafts. In some crafts the rudder is replaced by a paddle or oars, which function as a rudder. Paddle is a short oar with a broad blade
at one or both ends and oar is a pole with a flat blade used in rowing. These are necessary for a straight and swift movement of the
vessels. Generally all the ships use the wind power. In the ship the mast is fixed on ribs above the keel. The mast is made out of a
timber tree but the builders prefer a bamboo piece, because of its suitability to make a mast long, and strong. Sail is a sheet of
canvas spread to catch the wind and move a boat or ship forwards. It is used in traditional vessels; the shape of sail is triangular to
make it easy to catch the wind. Sails are fixed to the mast with ropes. The sails are used mainly when the vessels are going to the
mid sea, so that they can make use of the maximum wind energy.
Traditional Boat-building in various states of India
In India, there are various places that have the traditional boats and boat building technology. The Andhara coast is known for 4
types of traditional boats constructed for cargo transport , fishing and ferrying purposes, which are catamarans (teppa), dugout
canoe, stitched-planks-built boats and
Nailed-planks-built boats. Generally the types of wood used for boat building in Andhra Pradesh are grannari karra (Egesa:
Acquicia canilotica), arcini karra (Melia dubia ), cinntha karra (Albizzia sp.), rai karra, teak, circini karra (Anogeissus sp.), mamidi
karra (Mango: Magnifera indica), sal (Shorea robusta ), Indian laural (Terminalia tormentosa ) and maddi (Alianthus malabarica).
Teppas are simple floating devices, but are the predominant traditional sea craft along the Andhra Pradesh. Some keeled planked
boats locally called padavas are also common vessels along the Andhra coastline. In Andhra these traditional boats are constructed
at Nellare, Prakaram, Godavari and Guntur districts.
Boats in Karnataka region are called by different names depending on their use. The smallest craft of this region is known as canoe
(hudi), which is scooped out of a singletree t runk. The middle-sized craft is known as boat (doni) and the biggest craft is known as
ship (machchwa ). Most ships use wind power. The art of shipbuilding is a monopoly of a class of people known as mestas or
acharis (carpenter). The type of wood used for shipbuilding is known as kshatriya, which is mentioned in Yuktikalpataru. The
common wood used for shipbuilding is matthi, sagouy, teak, honne, undi and hebbals. Teakwood is used rarely because of its high
Raft, dugout and plank built boats are the main traditional types in the Kerala coast. Raft is made of a number of roughly shaped
logs fastened together in order to float down a river or to serve as a boat . Dugout is single log craft, which is scooped out in the
middle. It is employed all over Kerala for catching fish . Planked built boats are further classified into 2 categories: one is stitched
and the second is built with nailed planks. Stitched-planked built craft is manufactured by using coir and synthetic ropes. Generally,
the types of wood used for ship building in Kerala are alpassi, mullumurukku or panniclavu (Ceiba pentandra), perumaram/alanta
(Alianthus excelsa), pilivaka (Albizzia falcatria), malamurukku (Samanea saman), pilavu (Artocarpus integrifolias), mavu

(Magnifera indica), ayini/annili (Artocarpus hirsuta), punna (Callophyllum inophyllum ) and cadacci (Grewia tiliaefolia). The
bending process is purely based on traditional method by applying a kind of fish oil or cow dung on the planks.
The traditional boat builders of Chilika region in Orisa are called Bindhani, Barhais and Biswakaramas (carpenters). They build
small flat-bottomed boats known as nauka or danga. Sal is used for construction of nauka. The knowledge of boat building has
come down as a family tradition. Bamboos are used as mast, locally called gudda.
The boat builders and ships have been depicted in the brick temple in the district of Midnapore, Birbhum and Bankura in Bengal.
The vessels are classified as raft, dugouts and cargo carriers and are used for commercial purpose. Dinghy is a one-man passenger
boat in Bengal. It is unique for its features and movement in the river. The boatman squats at paddling on the low sharp stem to
maneuver in the zigzag path of the river. A neat cabin with semicircular roof occupies the space available in the middle of the
boats. A tall bamboo mast is generally used for long distance travel. In Bengal, small boat is never used except as cargo carriers.
The steering paddle is the most remarkable feature of the cargo carriers (Malbahi nauka).
Now a days, in Bombay there are no boat building yards to be found in or around, except may be at Varai and Versova. Available
wild woods are commonly used for construction of boats and ships. They are not very expensive. The main types of wood that are
utilized today are sal, babul, ain, bibla, jambul and punnai, but the teak wood is always the best for ship and boat building and is
preferred in Bombay too. Ain wood is some times used for building a major portion of the boat. It is a hard wood and very similar
to teak in its properties.
In Lakeshadweep, coconut tree is locally available in abundance, thus coconut wood is still used in local boats, but it is difficult to
say with authority, what made early boat builders to use coconut wood. Coconut wood is now used for bulwarks, masts, cross stays,
sides ribs, etc. and for cabin removable thatched roofs etc. Mango or breadfruit tree wood is also used. Boats of Lakeshdweep can
broadly be divided into two categories based on their use: trading vessels and fishing vessels. Bareues, odies, bandodies, dweep
odam or valiya odam are some trading vessels and tharappan, odam, mas odi, odi jahadhoni, mahadha dhoni, kelukkam dhoni,
allam dhoni or dhoni, ara dhoni are some fishing crafts and jhaha dhoni is a race boat in Lakeshdweep. Stand odam is the most
widely used typical boat of Lakeshdweep. Boats in Lakeshdweep are not built for sale, but only for the use of islanders.
Indian boat technology and navigational knowledge goes back to the III Millennium BC. Traditional boat builders could make
ships, which were fully sea-worthy and could sale to West Asia. But now all over India the traditional boat building technology is
in a declining condition due to changes of technology and advancement in mechanized systems. This is best exemplified in Andhra
Pradesh by the use of catamarans, which are being manufactured from synthetic materials in small-scale industries. These synthetic
catamarans are now a day preferred by traditional fisher folk because of their longevity, payload, cost, range and easy
manoeurability. Several manufacturing industries have come up in the Srikalulam and Ganjam districts of Orissa. There are hardly
a few places in India such as Kakinada, Cuddalore, Beypore and Veraval engaged in construction of sea going vessels at present.
Now a days traditional boats are only used for crossng rivers, coastal transport and fishing. It is however satisfying to note that
traditional boat building technology is being harmoniously combined wit h modern technology to produce more efficient vessels.
Further Reading
Bawan, R.L. 1960. Egypt's earliest sailing ships. Antiquity 34(134): 117.
Behera, K.S. (Ed.). 1999. Maritime Heritage of India . Delhi: Aryan Books International.
Gaur, Aniruddh Singh. 1993. Belekeri as traditional boat building center in North Kanara Dist. Karnataka, India. Journal of Marine
Archaeology 4: 69.
Gill, J. S. 1993. Our heritage of traditional boat building. Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 74.
Gill, J. S. 1993. Material for modern boat building industry. Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 76.
Greeshmalatha, A. P. and G. Victor Rajamanickam. 1993. An analysis of different types of traditional coastal vessels along the
Kerala Coast. Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 36.
Hornell, J. 1920. The origin and ethnological significance of Indian boat designs. Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 7(3):
Jain, Kirti. 1993. Boat building and the Son Kolis of the Raigad Dist. Maharashtra. Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 89.
Kunhali, V. 1993. Ship building in Beypore- a study in materials, workers and technology. Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 56.
Leshnik, S.Lawrence. 1979. The Harappan "Ports" at Lothal : another view. In Ancient Cities of the Indus (Ed.) Gregory L Possehl.
New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd.
Rama Sankar and Sila Tripathi. 1993. Boat building technology of Bengal: an overview of literary evidence. Journal of Marine
Archaeology 4: 84.

Raman, K.V. 1997. Roads and river transportation. In History of Technology in India (Ed.) A.K.Bag. New Delhi: Indian National
Science Academy. Pp.592-93.
Rao, S.R. 1979, 1985. Lothal – A Harappan Port Town . 2 vols. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India. Pp.225- 26, 505.
Rao, S.R. 1987. Progress and Prospects of Marine Archaeology. Goa: NIO.
Rao, S.R. (Ed.). 1991. Recent Advances in Ma rine Archaeology. Goa: NIO.
Rao, S. R. 1993. Missing links in the history of boat -building technology of India. In Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 60.
Raut, L. N. and Sila Tripathi. 1993. Traditional boat -building centers around Chilika Lake of Orissa. Journal of Marine
Archaeology 4: 51.
Sundaresh. 1993. Traditional boat -building centers of Karnataka coast - a special reference of Honavar, Bhatkal, and Gangolly.
Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 29.
Thivakaran, G. A. and G. Victor Rajamanickam. 1993. Traditional boat -building in Andhra Pradesh. Journal of Marine
Archaeology 4: 12.
Tripathi, Alok. 1993. Traditional boats of Lakshadweep. Journal of Marine Archaeology 4: 92.
http://www.infinityfoundatio n.com/mandala/t_es/t_es_agraw_ships.htm

K.L. Mehra, 2002, Agricultural foundation of Indus-Saraswati civilization

Mesolithic background

Out of more than 200 Mesolithic sites studied in the Ganges valley, Sarai Nahar Rai, Mahadaha and Damdama are the largest.
These sites seem to be relatively permanent settlements, having spatial organization of mortuary and butchering areas, suggesting a
cultural attitude about territoriality and prescribed hunting – gathering ranges (Chattopadhyaya and Chattopadhyaya, 1990).

Absolute dates of 8640 ± 65 BP and 8865 ± 65 BP, using AMS procedures, suggest an early Holocene date for Damdama (Lukacs
et. al., 1997), but thermoluminescence dates from fired clay balls and bone samples indicated an antiquity between seventh to sixth
millennia BC (Lukacs and Pal, 1993).

The findings of querns, mullets, and anvils, at Damdama suggested processing of vegetable foods. Several wild grasses (species yet
to be identified), Chenopodium album (presently used as a leafy vegetable), Portulaca oleracea (presently used as a leafy
vegetable), and few species belonging to families Solanaceae, Polygonaceae and Labiatae were identified (Kajale, 1990, 1997).
There is no convincing evidence for full -fledged plant domestication, although the economy represented broad-spectrum
exploitation of wild vegetation and familiarization with some of the potential plant domesticates during Mesolithic times (Kajale,
1990, 1997).

Archaeological sites, which have provided evidences of incipient farming, animal husbandry and pastoralism are scattered across
the Indian subcontinent. Skeletal and dental remains of domesticated animals were reported from the Mesolithic levels at
Adamgarh, for which one radiocarbon date from uncharred animal bones is 5505 BC and one from shells is mid- eighth millennium
BC (Joshi and Khare, 1996).

The earliest evidences of full-time plant and animal domestication in the Indian subcontinent are found at Sambhar, Lunkaransar,
and Didwana in the vicinity of the saline lakes of northern Rajasthan (Singh et. al., 1974). The presence of Cerealia pollen, mixed
with datable (7000 BC) charcoal, was considered as evidence of forest clearing and planting of grain seeds (Singh et. al., 1974).
Microliths occur on the banks of these lakes, but other lithic and ceramic artifacts are absent (Kennedy, 2000).

Vishnu-Mittre (1978) suggested that the evidence for periodic fires in Rajasthan’s savannahs could be due to the practice, of the
Mesolithic people, for inducing the fresh growth of grasses for their domesticated animals as early as 8000 BC. If this is the correct
thermo- luminescent date for the occupation of Mesolithic Sarai Nahar Rai, then the wild sheep and goat bones found at this site
may be considered as further evidence of incipient animal do mestication (Sharma, 1975; Kennedy, 2000).
The Mesolithic people of Kalibangan, Rajasthan, began to add pastoralism to their hunting-foraging strategies by capturing certain
wild animal species (ca. 5000 BC) trapped in the marshy tracts along the course of Ghagar river, but by 3000 BC they began to
cultivate wild plant species (plant species not identified) as fodder crops (Mamatamayfee, 1992, 1993).

At Bagor, domesticated species of sh eep, goat, buffalo, humped cattle and pig were present, along with wild species of chital,
sambhar, hare, and fox in phase I (ca. 5000 BC) and onwards into later phases up to 2000 BC (Agrawal and Kusumgar, 1974;
Thomas, 1975). No domesticated plant species has been reported so far at Bagor from these phases, but Mesolithic hunter foragers
did combine some elements of pastoralism into their economic strategies (Misra, 1973). The earliest occupants of the site did have
elements of sidentism, as witnessed by extensive stone floors in the shelters and circular arrangements of stones that perhaps had
secured plastered reed (reed impressions have not yet been identified to plant species level) walls and partitions. The presence of
grinding stones and querns may indicate plant cultivation, but probably their use was restricted to nuts and seeds of wild edible
plant species (Thomas, 1975; Kennedy, 2000). Evidences of incipient pastoralism within a basically Mesolithic life way provide
support to the hypothesis of gradual adaptation to food production within these communities.

Biodiversity prospecting

The process of recognition of plant species, which were useful to people, commenced in the Indian sub-continent in the pre-historic
times (Mehra and Arora, 1985). In the absence of precise archaeo-botanical records of plant species used for food and other
purposes during the Mesolithic period by hunting- foraging communities, inferences about possible means of subsistence in pre-
Neolithic times can be drawn from the present-day uses of biodiversity, especially by peoples, living in tribal belts of India where
agricultural practices are only a part of people’s subsistence paradigms, and people continue to depend on forest products and wild
vegetation. India possesses rich floristic wealth of over 15,000 species (one-third endemic), of which about 1000 species possess
edible plant parts (Singh and Arora, 1978; Vishnu-Mittre, 1981; Arora and Pandey, 1996). Plant species and percent
domesticated/semi-domesticated species are, according to edible plant parts: (i) roots/tubers/ underground parts used-145 species
23% domesticated; (ii) leafy vegetables /greens/pot herbs – 521 species - 14% domesticated; (iii) buds and flowers –101 species -
15% domesticated; (iv) fruits 647 species -16.5% domesticated; and (v) seeds and nuts –118 species -21% domesticated (Mehra
and Arora, 1985; Arora and Pandey, 1996).

The early food gatherers, through a gradual process of experimentation, improved the culinary uses of various plant parts, for
example the use of leaves and seeds as flavoring condiments/spices. Inquisitiveness to screen different edible plant parts led to the
utilization of several species in more than one way (see list by Mehra and Arora, 1985; Arora and Pandey, 1996). Mehra and Arora
(1985) presented a detailed account on the sequence in which different plant species and their plant parts were utilized, in different
regions of the Indian subcontinent.

In a paper presented at an International Symposium held at Poona under the auspices of Indo -Pacific pre-History Association in
1978, Mehra and Arora (1985) presented a detailed account of the processes involved in the sequence from food gathering to crop
cultivation and domestication, and in the diffusion of economic plants to other ethic groups. By and large, physiographic and
climatic variations and ethnic diversity created pockets of concentration of plant species of economic value. The tribal people
contributed substantially to the pattern by identifying, screening and utilizing the flora. Several economic plants of great antiquity
were put to different uses in five (Mehra and Arora, 1985) or seven (Arora and Pandey, 1996) phyto-geographical regions, and
eventually some of those were cultivated in different seasons. The Indus-Saraswati- Ganga valleys (Regions: Indus -5 and Ganga-
4, Saraswati valley region overlaps both), western Himalayas (region 1) and Western Ghats (including Gujarat , region 7) are of
direct relevance to the present discussion on agricultural foundation of Indus-Saraswati civilization. Arora and Pandey (1996)
1isted the number of species whose various plant parts are edible in these regions. Most of these edible plant species have Sanskrit
names and some of them are listed in the Vedic and Post -Vedic literature (Prakash, 1961). Detailed accounts on the history of
individual cultivated plant species, from the Vedic period up to the post Gupta period, are available for Mung, Urad, Masur,
Sesame and jujube (Mehra, 1967a, 1967b, 1967c, 1970, 1972, 1975). These papers discuss the role of these indigenous
domesticates in the socio -economic and cultural (rituals, religious ceremonies, sacred plants, culinary preparations, etc.) history of

Indus-Saraswati civilization - renaming

Out of 2600 sites of Harappa civilization known in India and Pakistan (Possehl, 1999; Kalyanaraman,2001) nearly 80 % of those
are located on the vast plain between Indus and the Ganges, comprising the Cholistan region in the Bahawalpur District of Punjab
(Pakistan), the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh (Misra, 1994). They range in time
from the Hakra Ware Culture of the fourth-third millennia BC to late Harappan Culture. There are also major settlements on the
river Saraswarti basin some of which are larger than the settlements of Harappa and Mohenjodaro (around 100 ha. each),
Lakhmirwala (Bhatinda, 225 ha.), Rakhigari (Hissar, 224 ha.), Gurnikalan I (Bhatinda,144 ha.), Hasanpur (Bhatinda, 100 ha.),
Ganweriwala (Bahawalpur,81.5 ha.), Kotada (Jamnagar,72 ha.), Nagoor (Sukkur,50 ha.), Nindowari (Jhawalan, 50 ha.), Tharo
Waro Daro (Sukkur, 50 ha.), and Mangli Nichi (Ludhiana,40 ha.) (Kalyanaraman, 2001). Thus, the Harappan civilization has been
renamed as Indus-Saraswati civilization (Misra, 1994; Gupta, 1993, 1996, 2001) or Saraswati river civilization (Kalyanaraman,
2001). Three phases of Indus-Saraswati civilization are recognized as follows, early phase (3100-2800 BC), mature phase (2800-
1900 BC) and late phase (1900-1400 BC, Misra, 1994). The course of Vedic Saraswati River has been traced by multi-disciplinary
approach (Glaciology, geology, geomorphology, environment sciences, archaeology, etc., see map by Misra, 1994; Kalyanaraman,
2001 and over 40,000 files at http://sarasvati.simplenet.com, for more details). Satluj and Yamuna rivers, which were earlier, the
tributaries of Saraswati, drifted their courses: Satluj joining the Indus system and Yamuna joining the Ganga system. Due to the
shifting of the courses of these rivers, Saraswati River dried up. The variation in the number and location of sites of different
protohistoric cultures suggested that different segments of the river Saraswati were receiving different volumes of water during
different periods (Misra, 1994).

Limitations in Archaeobotanical investigations

In view of past limitations in archaeobotanical investigations, most existing constructions of Indus- Saraswati civilization and its
subsistence patterns draw data from several sites, which can be overlapped to produce an agricultural sequence (Vishnu-Mittre,
1977; Vishnu-Mittre and Savithri, 1982; Kajale, 1991; Meadow, 1989, 1996; Saraswat, 1992; Mehra, 1997, 1999, 2000; Weber,
1999). This would mean incorporation of data from different types of sites excavated at different times using different methods, or
where varied collection and analysis strategies were employed (Weber, 1999). In several cases, the identification of plant species is
based on a very few samples, while in other cases hundreds of samples were analyzed (66 samples at Harappa and 284 samples at
Rojdi, Weber, 1999).

Although the archaeological work in the Indus -Saraswati- Ganga valleys started with the discovery of the site at Harappa in 1920,
and archaeological investigations have continued both in Pakistan and India, we do not have even at present posts of
archaeobotanists and archaeozoologists in the Archaeological surveys of both countries. Mostly the archaeologists in the past had
remained less interested in the biological source material. As a result, samples of plant and animal remains, which were collected in
the fieldwork, were sent to archaeobiologists attached with other research institutions. This picture began to change when
American, French and Italian research organizations took up work in Pakistan (in Baluchistan and Harappa) and in India (mostly in
Gujarat). Thus, both Drs. K.S. Saraswat (Palaeobotany Institut e in Lucknow) and Dr. M. Kajale (Deccan College, Pune) and their
coworkers now visit archaeological sites to collect plant remains.

Neolithic plant domestication

The plant domestication, diffusion and development in ancient India and its borderlands was a gradual transition from full-time
hunting foraging practices which took place in several geographical regions and chronological settings, viz., the northwestern
sector, Baluchistan, Pakist an and its borderlands with Iran and Afghanistan between 8000 and 5500 BC, and between 3500 and
1500 BC (Indus-Saraswati valleys); Kashmir Swat and the North-west Frontier between 2870 and 1500 BC; eastern India and
Southeast Asia borderlands between 2400 and 2000 BC; the Gangetic plain and Vindhya hills of North India between at least 5400
(perhaps 8080 BC) and 1200 BC; Rajasthan between 5000 and 1200 BC (for pastoralism if not for plant domestication at Bagor);
central India , ca. 5500 BC; western India (Gujarat ) 2500 to 1000 BC; peninsular India between 2500 to 1000 BC; and South India
between 2450 and 1800 BC (Mehra, 1997,1999,2000; Kennedy, 2000; Kajale, 1991; Saraswat, 1992, Vishnu-Mittre, 1977). These
time frames are approximate dates (and accounts of these authors also differ) and are subject to change as and when new data are

Available evidences from multidisciplinary fields, viz., archaeolo gy, anthropology (including demic relationships, cultural
relationships, palaeo-anthropology), bio -diversity analyses, and genetic distance analyses (including molecular biology), do not
suggest the occurrence of any abrupt transitions or “ invasions” of food producing populations into the hunting/ hunting -foraging
territories of earlier settled people, in several geographical and chronological setting in ancient India. Multi-disciplinary evidences
neither support a notion of “ a Neolithic revolution” (as in the so –called ‘‘Fertile Crescent” area of Southwest Asia) nor does those
provide a picture of a homogeneous “ Neolithic cultural period”, especially given the great biodiversity prospecting strategies and
varying early adaptations to plant and animal husbandry paradigms in different geographical regions of ancient India (Kennedy,

Agriculture in Saraswati - Yamuna-Ganga Valleys

In an earlier paragraph the limitations in archaeobotanical investigations were pointed out, and it was suggested that patterns of
agricultural development of this region could be reconstructed by overlapping the archaeobotanical data from several sites. The
following picture emerges based on several reviews (for details, see Kajale,1991; Saraswat.1992; Mehra 1997,1999 ) and additional
information presented in this paper;

(i) Arora and Nayar (1984) conducted extensive geographic survey of wild relativeS of economic plant species. The regionwise
distribution (Arora and Nayar, 1984) of such plant groups is as follows: in the Gangetic plains 66 species and in the Indus plains 45
species (cereals and millets-Gangetic / Indus 9/5, legumes- 4/2, fruits- 13/10, vegetables- 22/11, oilseeds- 4/4, fibre plants - 5/6,
spices and condiments- 1/0, and miscellaneous – 8/7); (ii) People domesticated wild species for manifold economic uses.
Domesticated species also hybridized with their wild relatives to produce rich biodiversity. Under human and natural selection
pressures variants of different economic plant species were further selected, resulting in the development of different cultivated
plants adapted to different agro-climatic zones of the north Indian plains; (iii) Besides rice, indigenous people of India had
domesticated several species of minor millets, grain legumes, oil seed crops, fibre crops, fruits, vegetables and other economic plant
species in the Indus—Saraswati—Yamuna-Ganga valleys (Mehra, 1997, 1999, 2000); and (iv) Of these early domesticates, about
80 plant species (33 species before the Iron Age) have been identified from the archaeological sites (Kajale, 1991, Saraswat, 1992,
Mehra 1997, 1999). All indigenous plant species are sown in summer/rainy season and harvested before the onset of winter. Thus,
the agriculture paradigm is different from that of Baluchistan, where crops were sown in winter and harvested in the late spring

Misra (1994) presented radiocarbon/ calibrated dates of 23 (early phase, 3100-2800 BC), 11 (mature phase, 2800-1900 BC) and 11
(late phase, 1900-1400 BC) sites of Indus-Saraswati civilization . Of these early sites Hulas (3028,2985 BC), Jodhpura (Ganeshwar
culture, 3018-2926 BC), Kalibangan (TF-241, TF-155,2853-2615 BC), Surkotda (Pol-1A,2865-2668 BC) fall in India. Mature
Kalibangan (2586 BC), Lothal (mature-2461 BC), Rojdi (mature, 2867-2699 BC), Daimabad (post-urban, 1961, 1424 BC),
Kalibangan (TF- 138,1391 BC) and Rojdi ( mature,1947 BC) also fall in India. Plant remains were identified from seven Neolithic
and 33 Neolithic-Chalcolithic sites ( Kajale 1991; Saraswat, 1992; Mehra, 1997, 1999).

Early and mature Indus-Saraswati phase

No archeological records of identified plant and animal remains are known from Lakhmirwala , Rakhigari , Gurnikalan I , Hasanpur
,Ganweriwala,Kotada, Nagoor , Nindowari , Tharo Waro Daro and Mangli Nichi . Thus, we do not know anything about the crops
grown, when the agriculture began to be practiced, at these sites. Funds need to be provided to excavate these sites, using modern
techniques to collect plant and animal remains.

Although no plant remains of cultivated crops were recovered from Kalibangan, Rajasthan (Phase I of Indus –Saraswati
civilization), there was an evidence of plough ed field surface showing several closely spaced furrows, alternating with few widely
spaced furrows at right angle (Lal, 1970-71). Strip cultivation, as compared to mixed sowings, indicates better land use. It facilities
easy harvesting and slows down the spread of some plant pests. No plant remains were recovered from this field due to which we
get no idea about what crops were sown. Nevertheless, the ploughed field does suggest high level of agricultural technology and a
long history of agricultural tradition to think of strip cultivation paradigm. Hulled and naked barley and chickpea were recovered
from mature Indus – Saraswati phase from Kalibangan.

In the early Indus-Saraswati phase at Rohira, Sangrur district of Punjab, hulled barley, dwarf wheat, emmer wheat, jowar-millet
(Sorghum sp .), lentil, grapes, horse gram and Mehandi were cultivated (Saraswat, 1988), while in addition to these crops farmers
cultivated naked barley and fenugreek during the mature Indus-Saraswati phase.

Wood charcoals of plant remains of barley, dwarf wheat, club, wheat, lentil, grapes and Lablab purpureus (a vegetable) were
identified from early Indus-Saraswati phase at Mahorana, Sangrur district, Punjab (Bara culture – Saraswat 1990-91).

At Sanghol, mature Indus-Saraswati phase, food grains of dwarf wheat, club wheat, hulled and naked barley, jowar millet, Italian
millet, lentil, field-pea, chickpea and horse-gram, poppy, grapes and embalic myrobolan (Emblica officinalis) were identified
(Saraswat, 1992).

In Haryana, blackgram was reported (dates not known) from Daulatpur in Kurukshetra district, and wheat grains were identified
from Hissar, (Vishnu-Mittre and Savithri, 1982). From Hulas in Saharanpur district, Uttar Pradesh, dated from 3028 to 1200 BC,
several plant species were identified. The layer/phase wise details of plant species have not been reported (Vishnu Mittre et al.
1985, Saraswat, 1992). The assemblage of seeds and fruits included crops of

Indian origin, viz., rice, horsegram, green gram, black gram, Kundru;
Southwest Asian origin, viz., wheat (bread, club, and dwarf), barley (six-round hulled), oat, field pea, lentil, chickpea, grass pe