On the sands of Saraswati – Indus दशकोण – 3

Posted in Environment, History, India by Anuraag Sanghi on May 15, 2010
"Curse upon Agade", a text recounting the ruin of the capital, cursed by the gods when king Naram-Sin destroyed the temple of Enlil in Nippur. Clay tablet, 12.6 x 6 cm. Inv.: AO 6890. Location :Louvre, Paris, France Photo Credit : Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

“Curse upon Agade”, a text recounting the ruin of the capital, cursed by the gods when king Naram-Sin destroyed the temple of Enlil in Nippur. Clay tablet, 12.6 x 6 cm. Inv.: AO 6890. Location :Louvre, Paris, France Photo Credit : Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

The curse of Akkad

As the various cities of the Saraswati-Indus Basin declined, some two thousand kilometers away, the Akkadian Empire also vanished. Was that a co-incidence?

A curious 4000-year old story, The Curse of Agade (also spelt as Akkad /Akkade), a favorite with Babylonian scribes, has been of much interest to modern scholars and researchers. For more than 75 years now, these texts have been analysed and examined. Many versions of this lament were recovered from Sumerian sites (like Nippur). This ‘lament’ was long thought to be a mythical-literary text – with little historical value. Wrongly thought! This poem described how,

The large fields produced no grain
The flooded fields produced no fish
The watered garden produced no honey and wine …

He who slept in the house, had no burial
People were flailing at themselves from hunger

This extract above, from clay tablet, known as the Curse of Akkad, dated 2200 BC, gained documentary credibility after some recent research.  This study showed that it was not Gutians who destroyed Akkad, but it was the multi-century drought.

This study, indicated a prolonged drought in the Akkadian region. To confirm Akkad’s drought, soil samples were analysed. This study confirmed (Weiss 1993) that a prolonged drought significantly, affected the Akkadian empire.

Collapse of the Akkadian Empire - Figure 4 (de Monocal, 2001). Collapse of the Akkadian empire occurred at 4170, as documented by detailed radiocarbon dates from archaeological sites. Windborne sediments and deep-sea sediment cores from the Gulf of Oman (down wind from eolian dust source areas of Mesopotamian sites) are used to reconstruct aridity. The increase of eolian dolomite and calcite ate 4025 BP reveals a 300 year drought. (Chart courtesy - CULTURAL RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE HOLOCENE By Richard Prentice)

Collapse of the Akkadian Empire – Figure 4 (de Monocal, 2001). Collapse of the Akkadian empire occurred at 4170, as documented by detailed radiocarbon dates from archaeological sites. Windborne sediments and deep-sea sediment cores from the Gulf of Oman (down wind from eolian dust source areas of Mesopotamian sites) are used to reconstruct aridity. The increase of eolian dolomite and calcite ate 4025 BP reveals a 300 year drought. (Chart courtesy – CULTURAL RESPONSES TO CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE HOLOCENE By Richard Prentice)

Pretty much like what the Indian pollen deposits research did, (Gurdip Singh – 1967-71), in the lakes of Rajasthan.

Pollen dust on Rajasthan’s lake beds

The Akkadian drought also coincided with low rainfall for an extended period of time in North-Western India. Fossil remains of pollen dust (Gurdip Singh – 1967;1971) during this period shows a marked drop in rainfall. Surveys in Rajasthan lake beds showed,

After about 3500 yr B.P., the Lunkaransar profile indicated a desiccated lake bed; because no pollen was preserved, the pollen-climate calibration function was of no use for estimating the amount of the precipitation decline.

This drought and the tectonic movements were seemingly linked from India to Turkey – right upto Africa. North America was not spared from this climatic phenomenon. Sympathetic evidence has been found in Europe of this huge climatic disruption.

A severe drought in parts of low-latitude northeastern Africa and southwestern Asia ~4200 yr ago caused major disruption to ancient civilizations. Stable isotope, trace element, and organic fluorescence data from a calcite flowstone collected from the well-watered Alpi Apuane karst of central-western Italy indicate that the climatic event responsible for this drought was also recorded in mid-latitude Europe.

Ice-core samples at Kilimanjaro seem to indicate a similar climatic cycle. These simultaneous and

abrupt drought events occurred conspicuously at ca. 12,000–11,500, 8500, 7500, 4500, 4000–3700, and 2000 uncalibrated radiocarbon years B.P. Further investigations are required to gain a more precise chronology of these events, which appear to have been crucial for some of the most salient developments in Africa’s prehistory.

Over a long period, from 2200 BC-1500 BC. It affected large parts of Africa. This extended period of drought may have covered most of South-Western Asia.

Some drastic tectonic activity also coincided with this drought. In Turkey, it produced volcanic activity which disrupted lives. In India it affected Sindhu /Indus, and the Yamuna rivers. And gave birth to Ganga.

Most famously, this tectonic activity dried up the Saraswati river.

The Greeks have something to say

The drying up of the Saraswati river and the changes in the Sindhu /Indus river course, created many ghost towns, especially in North West India, upto the Sindh region. Strabo’s 17-volume work Geographica, has something interesting to say about deserted and abandoned villages and townships. It mentions thousands of villages and cities, in India – abandoned, during Alexander’s raid into Northern India.

Some 1500-2000 years after the demise of Saraswati and the change in the course of the Indus.

Aristobulus … says that when he was despatched upon some business into the country, he saw a tract of land deserted, which contained more than a thousand cities with their dependent villages ; the Indus, having left its proper channel, was diverted into another, on the left hand, much deeper, and precipitated itself into it like a cataract, so that it no longer watered the country by the (usual) inundation on the right hand, from which it had receded, and this was elevated above the level, not only of the new channel of the river, but above that of the (new) inundation.

What do the Indian texts say?

The Evolution of Mahabharata (Table courtesy - Delhi: Ancient History By Upinder Singh).

The Evolution of Mahabharata (Table courtesy – Delhi: Ancient History By Upinder Singh).

Saraswati in classical Indian texts

For centuries now, Indians ‘knew’ of the ‘lost’ Saraswati river. What is the source of this Indian oral narrative?

Saraswati is mentioned more than 60 times in the Rigveda. But, the Ganga gets only one mention – and that too, possibly a latter-day insertion. Saraswati, as the river is the “purest among the rivers, flowing from the mountains to the sea.” The sixth book of Rig Veda (6.61.2), describes the powerful Saraswati, in her course through the mountains, “slayeth the Paravatas.” In the Gritsamada verse (II.41.16), Saraswati is ambitame, naditame, devitame Saraswati. (“Saraswati, best of mothers, best river, best goddess.”).

As the river dried, Saraswati changed from being a river goddess to the goddess of learning, wisdom and music. Was it because most of the Indic texts and knowledge was composed along the banks of the Saraswati? Was the extinct river honoured by being elevated to ‘devi’ status!

As the Saraswati progressively dried up, migration to the Indo-Gangetic plains gathered steam. Indian textual narratives also changed. There are added allusions in Mahabharata to the underground Saraswati and there are numerous mentions of Ganga in the Mahabharata.

The earliest available report of the drying up of this river is in the epic literature of the Mahabharata where it says that the river went underground at Binasana, near the present town of Sirsa. The Mahabharata also mentions the reappearance of the Saraswati at three places down stream, then known as Chamasodbheda, Sirobheda and Nagobheda. (from The Lost Courses of the Saraswati River in the Great Indian Desert: New Evidence from Landsat Imagery, by Bimal Ghose, Amal Kar and Zahid Husain © 1979 The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers).

This people “movement is reflected in the shift from Vedic literature that is centred on the Sarasvati to the Puranic literature that is centred on the Ganga.” How is the Saraswati river related to the ‘Indus Valley Civilization’? How is the dried up River Saraswati important to Indian history? How and why did the Saraswati river dry up?

Saraswati dries up

On the reasons for Saraswati drying up, the most acceptable hypotheses proposes that “tectonic activity in the northern Punjab … bifurcated the water of the Himalayas from the western drainage system of the Indus to the eastern drainage system of the Ganges”. Researchers have reconstructed that the original Saraswati possibly,

originated in Bandapunch masiff (Sarawati-Rupin glacier confluence at Naitwar in western Garhwal). Descending through Adibadri, Bhavanipur and Balchapur in the foothills to the plains, the river took roughly a southwesterly course, passing through the plains of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and finally it is believed to have debouched into the ancient Arabian Sea at the Great Rann of Kutch. In this long journey, Saraswati was believed to have had three tributaries, Shatadru (Sutlej) arising from Mount Kailas, Drishadvati from Siwalik Hills and the old Yamuna.

Chronology of the Saraswati river system  |  Source & courtesy - Saraswati – the ancient river lost in the desert      A. V. Sankaran  |  Click to open larger image.

Chronology of the Saraswati river system | Source & courtesy – Saraswati – the ancient river lost in the desert A. V. Sankaran | Click to open larger image.

Based on satellite imagery and research, there is an apparent correlation between the dried up Saraswati river bed and most of the ‘Indus-Valley civilization’ archaeological sites.

Earlier, even before the LANDSAT pictures from NASA, surveyors were intrigued about

the source of the perennial supply of subsurface water in western part of the Great Indian Desert where annual rainfall is so meagre and erratic (less than 150 mm) that it cannot contribute substantially to the perennial wells of the area.

Some 160 years ago, Saraswati’s dry river bed impressed most who saw it. In the middle of nineteenth century, a British surveyor described Saraswati’s dry river bed which

runs through an open country with little or no cultivation, and may be increased to any breadth; camels may march by it fifty abreast on either side of column of troops.

While the Saraswati dried up, it left behind tell-tale markers.

ISRO has dug up 23 tube wells along the course of the river mapped by it across 70 kilometers west of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan.

The results have been startling. All the wells have provided good quality drinking water with very little Total Dissolved Salts (TDS). The water itself was found at a depth ranging from 35 to 60 meters which is unusual for the area which is covered with sand dunes.

“We also dug a well 50 meters away from the channel and yielded water with very high TDS content proving quality water exists only around the old river bed of the extinct river,” he added.

In 1968, deep bores were sunk along the dried river bed.

The alternate plentiful supply and scarcity of water in the river is confirmed by the boring in the river bed by Raikes, 1968.

This tectonic-climatic disturbance affected a large swath of the Indian sub-continent. What part of India did this combination of drought and tectonic activity affect?

Contours of the Indus Valley-Saraswati Basin

Most affected by this global drought and tectonic movements was a cluster of Indian cities and villages along the Saraswati Basin. In the last 60 years, archaeologists look at the area covered by the thousands of these sites,

… so vast in its extent that at its peak it is estimated to have encompassed a staggering 1.5 million sq km — an area larger than Western Europe. In size, it dwarfed contemporary civilisations in the Nile Valley in Egypt and in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys in Sumer (modern Iraq). Its geographical boundaries are now believed to extend up to the Iranian border on the west, Turkmenistan and Kashmir in the north, Delhi in the east and the Godavari Valley in the south …

Over the last nearly 60 years, research has expanded. It has also shown that

Out of nearly 2,600 archaeological sites of varying sizes, over 1500 archaeological settlements were found on the Sarasvati river basin; there are also major settlements (some of) which are larger than the settlements of Harappa and Mohenjodaro (100 ha. each), Lakhmirwala (Bhatinda) (225 ha.), Rakhigari (Hissar) (224 ha.), Gurnikalan One (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.), Mangli Nichi (Ludhiana) (40 ha.) (underlined text supplied).

What is in a name

Saraswati archaeological sites, given a misleading name of ‘Indus Valley Civilization’ are the oldest date-able evidence of Indian culture – going back to earlier than 3000 BC. With retro-fitted history, the ‘discovery’ of the ‘Indus Valley Civilization’ was inconvenient, for Western history, based on Biblical logic of the Ussher-Lightfoot chronology.

There are two fallacies with the nomenclature of ‘Indus Valley Civilization’. There is no proof altogether, that the Indus Valley Civilization was separate and different from Indian civilization. By the simple act of naming it as Indus Valley Civilization, Marshall-Woolley-Wheeler-Piggott have made out illogical assumptions – without a shred of evidence. One – as though Indus Valley was apart from the Indian civilization. Para-dropped by a passing alien ship, maybe? Or two, the subsequent evolution and developments in India were discrete and unrelated to the Saraswati sites. There is no evidence to support either of the ‘ideas’.

The other major reason is that since the sites are clustered around the Saraswati river bed, the term Indus Valley ‘civilization’ is misleading – and no longer valid. This cluster of sites should correctly be called Saraswati Basin sites.

How did the entire Saraswati theory come about? How did this start off?

The Probable Course of the Sarawati River

The Probable Course of the Sarawati River

The Saraswati Theory

After Indian independence (1947), faced with an acute shortage of research sites, Indian academic establishment broke new ground.

India was left with just one Indus site, in Gujarat and a couple of other sites towards the north, so there was an urgency to discover more Indus sites in India. This has been among the big achievements of Indian archaeology post-independence – that hundreds of Indus sites today are known, not only in Gujarat but also in Rajasthan, in Punjab, in Haryana, and even in Utter (sic) Pradesh.

Mohenjo daro and Harappa excavations now fall in modern Pakistan. In the face of limited access to sites in Pakistan, Indian archaeologists focused on Indian sites. Many sites were discovered in the post-colonial Indian area – apart from Harappa and Mohenjo daro. There are whispers that historians and archaeologists from India (especially, the Saraswati school) have been denied access. Some Indian archaeologists have charged HARP with interjection of newer kinds ‘politics’ into research of the Saraswati Basin and Indus Valley.

Since Harappa and Mohenjodaro were the first to be excavated in the 1920s, Sir John Marshall, who headed the team of explorers, called it the Indus civilisation because it flourished in the valley of that river. Marshall’s announcement wowed the world and pushed India’s known history back by about 2,000 years. At the time of Independence there was no real need to change the epithet as barely a dozen Indus sites had been explored. With the prime sites, Mohenjodaro and Harappa, going to Pakistan, however, a feverish hunt began in India to locate and excavate Indus sites — a race that its neighbour soon joined. In doing so, they began uncovering a civilisation … vast in its extent … (from The Indus Riddle, By Raj Chengappa, ellipsis supplied).

Building the Saraswati hypotheses

Considering the importance of the Saraswati sites, to the world (and Indian) history, Indian academics used a multi-disciplinary approach. Evidence from extensive radio-carbon dating, satellite imagery, hydrological studies, statistical analysis was integrated for creating a context for Saraswati sites.

since 1972 topographical, hydrological and national remote-sensing investigation done by the Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur, the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad and the Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad, brought out evidence for the existence of a mighty river in the region over which the Ghaggar flows today. Tectonic disturbances around 1800 B.C. which raised the Aravalli ranges in Rajasthan, it was said, changed the directions of the important rivers flowing down the Shiwaliks. The Yamuna turned east and went on to join the Ganga, making that river the mightiest in the subcontinent. The Sutlej began to shift westwards towards the Indus. Thus the once mighty river was swallowed up …

In the 1980-90 decade, India’s own satellite went into space, remote sensing costs decreased and applications increased. After years of mapping and images, it became apparent that the ‘mythical’ Saraswati river in fact did in fact exist at one point of time. Researchers, from India, A Ghosh and from Pakistan, MR Mughal have shown that the drying up of Saraswati, was a fact. It is surmised that

tectonic events must have severed the glacier connection and cut off the supply of melt water from the glacier to this river; as a result, the Saraswati became non-perennial and dependent on monsoon rains. The diversion of the river water through separation of its tributaries led to the conversion of the river as disconnected lakes and pools; ultimately it was reduced to a dry channel bed. Therefore, the river Saraswati has not disappeared but only dried up in some stretches

Further, it is but a natural corollary, that “as the river dried up completely in the second millenium BC, albeit in several stages and with several reversals …” settlements and towns at Saraswati were abandoned.

It has been pointed out how

“Lothal, believed to be the oldest dockyard in the world, is located at the head of the Gulf of Khambhat, now situated about 23 km away from the shoreline and about 12 m above the mean sea-level, on the left bank of river Bhogawa … clear evidence of southward shifting of shoreline by about 23 km”

4000 year-old Indian oral history has now been vindicated by modern research.

Different strokes

These tectonic shifts that dried up Saraswati, also had different effects on the cities of the Indus-Saraswati complex.

Some 90 miles down-stream from Mohenjo daro, is the Manchar Lake, at Sehwan, spread over large area. It was recently estimated at some 24 sq. km, and in 1890, as some “twenty miles by ten” – that is some 200 sq. miles, the largest fresh-water lake in Asia. These tectonic shifts , probably, created the Mancher lake at Sehwan. This lake plausibly, flooded Mohenjo daro some 7 times. The many layers of silt at Mohenjo daro can be accounted for the flooding of the Lake Mancher, at Sehwan. Even today peopled by the Mohana fishermen-tribe, who some believe to be remnants of the original Mohenjo daro residents – an assumption based on thin evidence.

There are modern recorded parallels of such events.

In 1819 an earth tremor in Kutch created a huge natural dam 75 miles long and upto 16 miles wide that disrupted the flow of the Eastern Nara branch of the Indus. After 7 years, however, the rivers floodwaters created a breach and the Nara resumed its flow to the sea.

Harappa seems to have suffered more due to reduction in the inflow in the Ghaggar-Hakra rivers due to change in the flows of either the Yamuna (into the Ganga) or the Sutlej (into the Indus).

To this cataclysmic event, add the long travelling global drought.

Politics and theology in archaeology

Artifices and contradictions in the story proposed by Marshall-Woolley-Wheeler-Piggott structure started showing up, as more and more data piled up. Outcome – the Saraswati Theory, a more unified approach to history.

Channels have been mapped, soil sediments studied, groundwaters analysed and earthquake history investigated. And not all of this is recent work. European colonial surveyors, agents and adventurers of all kinds who travelled at ground level, as it were, observed, measured and recorded what they saw. They also noticed that this arid, thinly populated wasteland was densely peppered with the remains of ancient, permanent settlements — many of them city-size, which could never have existed without abundant year-round water. In some cases, these pioneers recorded what they heard too, such as folk traditions which told of a time when a great river flowed through the region.

The earliest and the most well-known Indus Valley and the Saraswati Basin sites are now in Pakistan. Pakistani sites are controlled by an ‘independent’ American-Pakistani project – named HARP (Harappa Archaeological Research Project). Accepting the Sarswati thesis is, but anathema, in Islamic Pakistan, which is an important part of the HARP project. Not to forget, that it makes Western historical research of the last 150 years redundant – which complicates research. More than 10,000 libraries will have to junk more than a million history books.

Table Source - A. S. Gaur* and K. H. Vora, National Institute of Oceanography

Table Source – A. S. Gaur* and K. H. Vora, National Institute of Oceanography

What further held up research in the Saraswati belt was the fact that two sides squared up are the US-Pakistan HARP collaboration, on one side. The Saraswati team on the other.

Neither is asking or willing to give a quarter in this struggle to write history – the history of mankind. Seemingly, the Saraswati vs Indus has acquired overtones of India vs Pakistan.

And may history be damned!

Most of the Saraswati Basin work was done at Indian institutions, under differing degrees of political patronage and dispensations. With multinational collaboration from India, Pakistan, Europe and USA, with many false starts and tangential movements, the Saraswati Theory has acquired a certain acceptance.

This acceptance, in spite of spirited opposition from HARP, has possibly made the WASP-Pakistan, narrow-cast establishment under the Farmer-Sproat-Witzel combine defensive. Not to be outdone, having failed at the exclusion and shutting out game, the same players are trying to work from ‘within’ the Indian system.

Foreign universities are all for bartering their technological expertise and resources to get an opportunity to work on the unexcavated sites here … Director, ASI, told The Indian Express, “We have received applications from a number of foreign institutions like Harvard University, Cambridge University and others …”

Before rushing pell-mell into such ‘joint-ventures’, it may be worthwhile to remember the dubious role played by Western archaeologists in various parts of the world.

Tales you lose, Heads I win

Some ‘historians’ have come up with the thinnest of ‘evidence’ against the Saraswati theory. Like rivers from neighbouring geographies with similar sounding names.

Much like York became New York, so also there is Megiddo (of the battle fame), Makedonia  (home of Alexander), Mary Magdeline came from Magadan, Megasthenes came from Magasthan  (Magan, land of the Magi) – all candidates for Magadha cognates. Kannauj near Patna finds an echo in Kahnuj of ancient Carmania (now Kerman, the largest province in modern Iran). Byzantium is a Vaijayanti cognate. Byzantine traditions were influenced by India. The name Byzantium itself was possibly derived from Vaijayanti – also the ancient capital of Satavahana Empire,  now in Goa. The Greek and Egyptian cities of Thebes are possibly cognates of To Po (Upper Tibet) – now known as Tibet. As does Judea – derived from Ayodhya->Yehudiya->Judea.

Saraswati, a celebrated river, also had cognates. Harahvati /Harkhawati in South-West Afghanistan is another ‘suspect’ for the Saraswati mentioned in the Vedas, Sarayu with Harirud. There are other such thin claims that Gomti and Gomal in Baluchistan are the same.

Archaeology in India is a young discipline. Since most Indian population centres have been existence for centuries, archaeological excavations have not been possible or wide ranging. India’s population density also does not allow vast archaeological projects to happen. And anyway, both ,

Indian and foreign archaeologists often invoked invasion /diffusion as tools for explaining away the origins of fully-fledged archaeological cultures ranging in age from the Lower Paleolithic to the early historic period as well as individual traits concerning pottery, technology and other aspects. Africa, West and Central Asia and Europe were the favourite source areas. (From Theory in Archaeology: A World Perspective By Peter J. Ucko, page 132)

Lower Paleolithic is about 250,000 years ago and early historic period in India is 3000 years ago.

Where are the texts, the systems

The real marker in this case may be the depth of the civilization. Why is it that there is no evidence of Sanskrit in all these ‘Central Asian’ locations from where these ‘Aryans’ came from? Why did Vedic learning survive only in India? How is it that Vedic Gods survived only in India – and not in the ‘Aryan homelands’. How come there are lakhs of Sanskrit texts in India, but none where Sanskrit supposedly originated from? In Central Asia!

And such legless theories, abound. For instance, the mythical ‘Indus Valley priest-king’, based on, “a few stone sculptures of seated male figures, such as the intricately carved and colored Priest King, so called even though there is no evidence he was a priest or king.”

One the other hand, the Saraswati river theory, supported by strong evidence, is picking up more adherents and evidence. Fortunately, there are many sites in India, where research can continue, without access to Mohenjo daro and Harappa. For instance the

excavation of Lothal, an Indus port town located off the Gujarat coast. It shattered notions that the Indus was a landlocked civilisation, conservative and isolated, and as a result sank without a trace. Rao uncovered a dock 700 ft long — even bigger than the one currently at Visakhapatnam. It took an estimated million bricks to build it. Next to the dockyard were massive granaries and specialised factories for bead-making. Hundreds of seals were found, some showing Persian Gulf origin, indicating that Lothal was a major port of exit and entry.

Possehl, who made a recent study, found that in 2000 BC in Pakistan’s Sindh district the sites were down from 86 to 6 and in Cholistan, 174 to 41. But in India the sites in Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan exploded from 218 to 853. Possehl asks: “How can this be construed as an eclipse? We are looking at a highly mobile people.”

Dwellers from these settlements moved to other cities. The HARP-Pakistani school of thinking sticks to the old artifice,

“that the Indus River changed course, which would have hampered the local agricultural economy and the city’s importance as a center of trade.

But no evidence exists that flooding destroyed the city, and the city wasn’t totally abandoned … and … a changing river course doesn’t explain the collapse of the entire Indus civilization.

So, what does explain this, Witzelbhai? Blue-eyed, blonde, White Aryan invaders, thundering down the Khyber, I presume!

Alternate model

As the Saraswati River became erratic ... and started drying. (Click to get larger image).

As the Saraswati River became erratic … and started drying. (Click to get larger image).

We do not see archaeological finds of the Saraswati type in the rest of India, because the rest of India continued with life, at existing settlements. Most Indian cities have been settled for centuries – and have not seen vast archaeological excavations. And in all these centuries, Indic peoples moved up and down from South to North to South to East and West – from living settlements to living settlements.

Given the vastness of the Indus empire, V.H. Sonawane, director, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History in the MS University of Baroda, points out: “The first casualty is the earlier notion of a Harappan homogeneity. It is clear that there was tremendous regional diversity just as we have in modern India.”(from The Indus Riddle, By Raj Chengappa, ellipsis supplied).

As Gregory Possehl confirms, that there “was no general “eclipse” but a process of deurbanization and a shift eastward in the general distribution of the population.”

In the ’70s, when Braj Basi Lal, a former ASI director-general, began excavating Kalibangan, a site in the desert sands of Rajasthan, he was amazed to find evidence of a field of crossed furrows dated to around 2900 BC, preserved by a strange quirk of nature. Looking around he found that farmers in the region used a similar ploughing technique even after 5,000 years. The ancient houses had tandoors (earthen ovens) similar to ones found in kitchens in the villages in the area. As Lal says, “It was as if the present was the past and that despite the passage of time not much had changed.” (from The Indus Riddle, By Raj Chengappa, ellipsis supplied).

Independent research in Pakistan, by the noted specialist, RM Mughal echoes the same. The ability of the Indic people to live with diversity in skin colour, language, food, lifestyle, trade and thinking is an age old phenomenon.

Mughal’s studies in Pakistan have helped chalk out an approximate chronology of the changes. The beginnings of village farming communities and pastoral camps were reported as early as 7000 to 5000 BC. But developed farming communities, which grew wheat and barley, emerged around 4300 BC. In a site called Mehrgarh near the Bolan river in Baluchistan province, there are signs of agricultural surplus with the establishment of community storage silos. The conclusion: Sorry to use the cliche, but we had unity in diversity even then. (from The Indus Riddle, By Raj Chengappa, ellipsis supplied).

To make sense of this cataclysmic event, one also needs to read the account of how the Ganga was brought down from the heavens – which we will in the next post. The Ramayana takes much time in describing how the Ganga was ‘persuaded’ down from the heavens. The holy Indian trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh contributed their efforts and might to his ‘cause’.

An Indian summer

1972. India, basking in the warm after-glow of the military victory in the 1971 War with Pakistan. The Oil crisis was yet to hit India. Indians were taking hesitant first steps towards a remittance economy. Rich, expatriate neighbours, relatives and friends were spreading the words of ‘phoren’ opportunities to Indians. The 1973 Oil shock and the Bombay High discovery were a few years in the future.

As were India’s remote sensing satellites (1979).

Oral chronicles

That year, was the first time I heard about the supposedly subterranean Saraswati river. From my grand-father, at Haridwar संगम sangam (meaning union). The Indian oral narrative, goes that Saraswati meets up with ‘sister’ rivers, Ganga and ‘Jumna’ at Haridwar. I did the dip at संगम sangam, as any संगम sangam of rivers is a considered shubh (a fertility symbol?) – and a dip is called for. Later, my mother too, corroborated the Saraswati ‘story’.

The Kaveri </i><i>sangam</i> at Srirangapatinam (Picture courtesy - Travelpod; by Indian nature).

The Kaveri sangam at Srirangapatinam (Picture courtesy – Travelpod; by Indian nature).

In (was it?) 1973, a small rivulet, which joins the Musi at Hyderabad, (a tributary of Krishna river) was at full flow, due to huge cloud-burst.

That year, on dubki poonam, (the first full moon after Diwali, reserved for a bath at any river), the entire extended-family was bundled into a few vehicles, to go for a dip in this insignificant ‘river’. Never after 1973, did I see that rivulet flow so strongly again.

In 1977, at Seringapatinam, we did a dip at the Kaveri sangam – a संगम sangam of two arms (Kaveri and Lokapavani) of the same river. At Rishikesh, the संगम sangam of Ganges and Chandrabhaga, I did daily dips for about 45 days in 1972. Also at Rishikesh, is the Triveni ghats, the meeting of Gunga, Jumna and Saraswati. I am yet to go to the Triveni ghat at Somnath – the joining of Kapil, Hiran and River Saraswati (again).

My experience was pretty much like the experience of Anusha, a housewife-mother-blogger from Mumbai, who writes

125 Kms from Varanasi is the sacred city of Allahabad where the three greatest rivers of India meet … The Ganga … from the Himalayas, Gangotri, passing … Rishikesh and Haridwar … industrial city of Kanpur, before arriving at Allahabad to join her sisters as she makes her way to Kashi. Yamuna also begins … in the Himalayas, at Yamunotri … passes through Mathura and Brindavan, (after) association of Krishna, … arrives at Allahabad … she joins the Ganga … Saraswati arrives at Allahabad from god alone knows where, for she is an underground river, … remains unseen … The place where these 3 rivers merge is the Triveni Sangam

The three rivers maintain their identity and are visibly different as they merge. While the Yamuna is deep but calm and greenish in colour, the Ganga is shallow, but forceful and clear. The Saraswati remains hidden, but the faithful believe that she makes her presence felt underwater.

Much before the Saraswati paper by Yashpal et al (1980), based on NASA-LANDSAT images. Much before Indian Remote Sensing satellites went up in 1979.

A leading educationist and currently chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Yash Pal, who had published in 1980 in his own words “a small paper on the existence of Saraswati river which attracted attention,” concurred with the view. “Surveys so far have brought out clearly the path the river had taken when in flow,” the national research professor told The Pioneer. He did a stint with ISRO (which has played a pivotal role in the probes so far) from 1973-1980 where he set up the Space Application Centre.

A case of India’s oral history vindicated by modern research!

Droughts, food and culture: ecological change and food security in Africa’s …

By Fekri A. Hassan

‘Aryan’ politics behind Indus-Saraswati history

Posted in European History, History, India, Media, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on March 3, 2010
Hattusha's Lion - note the weathered mane

Hattusas' Lion - note the weathered mane

A tale of two cities

To understand the ‘politics’ of Indus-Saraswati Valley sites, a good start point is Turkey.

In 1834, local villagers  in Turkey, (then the Ottoman Empire), guided a French explorer, Charles-Felix-Marie Texier to nearby ruins.  These ruins, he  thought were ruins of the Celtic Tavium city, mentioned in various Roman sources. Instead, what he ‘found’ was a more ancient culture, that predated Rome by 1500 years.

The Hittite city of Hattusas, that Texier ‘discovered’, took another nearly 100 years to start disgorging its secrets to modern archaeologists. The name of the Hittite city, Hattusas, is itself possibly derived from the Sanskrit word, hutashan, हुताशन meaning “sacred sacrificial fire.”

Guarded by weathered stone lions, very similar to Ashoka Pillar lions, the city of Hattusas, became a cause for much politicking.

The politics of archaeology

In 1906-07, an Turkish archeologist, Theodore Makridi-Bey, started excavations at Boghazkoi, (identified as the ancient Hattusas city) 150-200 km from Ankara, Turkey. He was joined by Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist, specialising in Assyria. They unearthed more than 10,000 clay tablets which were of tremendous interest.

Earlier, in 1904, English archaeologist John Garstang (1876-1956) lost out to Hugo Winckler, of Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, (German Oriental Institute) supposedly at the intervention of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm-II for excavation rights at modern Boghazkoy.

Related to Boghazkoy tablets were some of the tablets found at Tell-el-Armana, by Flinders Petrie in 1891-1892. The decipherment of the Tell-el-Amarna letters, by JA Knudtzon, in 1901, linked the few earlier tablets found at Boghazkoi-Hattusas. By French archaeologist JA Ernest Chantre in 1893-94, who was

the first in a long line of archaeologists to dig at the ancient site in the 1890s, starting with the hill top compound. His exclusive interest in tablets, unfortunately, led him to destroy everything else he uncovered.

What Makridi Bey and Winckler found, were some 10,000 clay tablets. 10,000 tablets, which no one in the world could read.

On the other side of the world

Bedřich Hrozný
Bedřich Hrozný

A Czech cryptographer, educated in Vienna, Austria, working in Germany, Bedřich (or Friedrich) Hrozný, cracked this code over the next 15 years – and that set off a furore among archaeologists. Hrozný’s

discovery was based on this short sentence written in cuneiform: NU NINDA-AN EZZATENI,WATAR-MA EKUTENI .

Since many Babylonian words were included in Hittite texts, the clue was provided by the Babylonian word ninda, which means “food” or “bread.” Hrozný asked himself a very simple question: What does one do with food or bread? The answer, of course, was, one eats it. So the word ezzateni must be related to eating.

The publication in 1922 of these tablets showed, in one case, a call to Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nastya to witness a treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, a Mitanni. Gods that only people in India worshipped.

So, how did Vedic gods land up in Turkey, some 3500 years ago?

A deserter’s tale

Back in India, a British ‘soldier-of-fortune’ working with the English East India Company, during 1833-1838, was making his way into various parts of India. On one such trip, after,

A long march preceded our arrival at Haripah, through jangal of the closest description. East of the village was an abundance of luxuriant grass … in front of the village … (a) ruinous brick castle. Behind us was a large circular mound, or eminence, and to the west was an irregular rocky height, crowned with remains of buildings, in fragments of walls, with niches, after the eastern manner. The entire neighbourhood is embellished with numerous pipal trees, some of them in the last stage of lingering existence; bespeaking a great antiquity, when we remember their longevity. The walls and towers of the castle are remarkably high, though, from having been long deserted, they exhibit in some parts the ravages of time and decay. Between our camp and it extended a deep trench, now overgrown with grass and plants. Tradition affirms the existence here of a city, so considerable that it extended to Chicha Watni, thirteen cosses distant, and that it was destroyed by a particular visitation of Providence, brought down by the lust and crimes of the sovereign. (from “Narrative of various journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan by Charles Masson”; underlined text in parenthesis supplied).

During his travels, over North and North West India, he “bought numerous ornaments, gems and coins in Kabul bazaar and amassed an estimated 60,000 coins, gems, seals, rings and other, mostly bronze, surface finds from the urban site of Begram north of Kabul.”

This travelogue, published in 1842, is the first known Western citing of Harappa.

Railway tracks over history

Much before 1857, the British Raj was wracked by rebellion, mutinies, uprisings, battles against colonial British rule. More than 50 of them between 1800-1850. Pushed by this state of constant war, British defense goals in India justified the expansion of Indian railway system. Many of these railway systems were set up by Indian princely states and the promoter-investors, with funds, underwritten by the Indian fare paying passengers. Buried under this railways expansion, are some vital elements of Indian history.

Between Lahore to Multan, for about a 100 km, buried under railway tracks, lies history. John Brunton, on an assignment to build railway lines from Lahore,  used bricks from Harappa “ruins, which in extent exceeded all (his) anticipations … situated on the banks of a deserted river bed.” As this section for railways was being built, contractors used precise bricks and baked clay blocks from nearby ruins and abandoned buildings, to lay the bedding, to which railways tracks were later anchored. The bricks used for this ballast were 4000-5000 year old bricks and clay material from Harappa. On this ballast, rests ‘modern’ Indian history.

Probably, even world history.

Indus Valley Civilization – a history of false starts

Alexander Cunningham, Director of Archaeological Survey of India reported in 1875, how the sites had changed from the time of his trips in 1850’s. The few seals that came to Cunningham’s attention, were promptly declared as “foreign to India.” In spite of the many finds, the first publication was of “three Indus seals discovered by the Italian scholar L. P. Tessitori at Kalibangan in 1917-18 …”

Between 1911-1912, DR Bhandarkar visited Harappa and Mohenjo daro. He thought the ruins did not represent “the remains of … any ancient monument …” and were less than 200 years old as the “bricks here found are of the modern type”.

The 1931 issue of Illustrated London News - Great New Discoveries of Ancient Indian Culture on a Virgin Prehistoric Site in Sind - further results of pioneer research at Chanu-Daro, in the Indus Valley: relics of craftsmanship, domestic life, and personal adornment in the third millennium B.C. by Ernest Mackay D. Litt, FSA, in 5 x photos of seals and seal amulets with animal designs.

The 1931 issue of Illustrated London News - Great New Discoveries of Ancient Indian Culture on a Virgin Prehistoric Site in Sind - further results of pioneer research at Chanu-Daro, in the Indus Valley: relics of craftsmanship, domestic life, and personal adornment in the third millennium B.C. by Ernest Mackay D. Litt, FSA, in 5 x photos of seals and seal amulets with animal designs.

Very little was published or studied, even though, Cunningham, Auriel Stein, DR Bhandarkar, Harold Hargreaves, were aware of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro sites.

All quiet on the Western front! Why?

Reactionary announcement

After 80 years, (1845-1924) of inaction, silence and denial, suddenly the British Raj ‘decided’ to put these ruins to some ‘good use’.

John Marshall, Director of Archaeological Survey Of India (ASI), a Lord Curzon-appointee, was despatched to Harappa and Mohenjodaro, in 1925, (his first visit!).

Despite being in India, and in ASI from 1902, Marshall’s first visit to Harappa and Mohenjodaro was in 1925. Based on his ‘insights’ and ‘intuition’ Marshall started writing an ‘authoritative’ book on the “Indus  Valley Civilization”.

What was behind this decision?

During 1800-1900, various excavations, in the Levant (Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia et al) Western archaeologists dug up more than 400,000 clay tablets. Showing an ‘Aryan’ linkage, pointing to India – peaking with the Boghazkoi decipherment. ‘Modern’ history does not

appreciate the colossal scale of their discoveries, decipherments, and specialized studies, and the effect of this new material in opening up the ancient Orient to European view in the period between 1880 and 1914. As scholars ransacked a vast quantity of new textual and archaeological documents, they discovered the powerful influence of Zoroastrian Persia, the esoteric depths of ancient India, and the primeval innovations of the Assyrians and Sumerians. These new cultures, appealing in their antiquity, spirituality, and apparent purity, made the well-known “orientals”—especially the ancient Israelites and Egyptians—seem derivative, corrupt, and banal …

… in the quest to give the Wilhelmine Empire autonomous and secure cultural foundations, they shared a common set of enmities—and an inclination to fight occidentalist traditions with “oriental” truths. (from German Orientalism and the Decline of the West By SUZANNE MARCHAND; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied.).

The timing of the Indus Valley announcement, coincided with the publication of deciphered Boghaz-koi and the Amarna tablets between 1920-1925. When Indus Valley announcement was made, world historical narratives were at a delicate stage. Hegel-Marx-Muller’s historiography of ‘Aryan Invasion’ of India was hanging by a thin thread.

From the Illustrated London News - A "Sheffield of Ancient India: Chanhu-Daro's Metal Working Industry 10 x photos of copper knives, spears , razors, axes and dishes (Click for larer picture).

From the Illustrated London News - A "Sheffield of Ancient India: Chanhu-Daro's Metal Working Industry 10 x photos of copper knives, spears , razors, axes and dishes (Click for larer picture).

After WW1, with Germany defeated and Turkey dismembered, classification and announcement of the ‘Indus Valley Civilization’ (IVC) swiftly followed with a publication in Illustrated London News, in September-October 4th, 1924.  John Marshall, (Director, ASI, 1922-1927), made his first visit to Harappa-Mohenjo daro the next year, in 1925. He ‘recorded’ his excavations and investigations, in a 3-volume book.

Marshall’s tale of ‘Dravidian’ cities (Harappa /Mohenjo-daro) destroyed by ‘Aryan invaders’, has survived for nearly a 100 years. ‘Aryans’ a  Western invention, viewed through a prism of Euro-centric, colonial ideology of the 1920’s, have no basis in history or archaeology. There never was an Aryan race. On the other hands, the Aryan-Dravidian ‘divide’ were obvious colonial attempts to divert attention – and to draw attention away from the Indian connection with Boghazkoi decipherments.

And the story does not end here!

Bigger than WW2

In the dying days of the Raj, came more insidious history. At the apex of WW2, Britain pulled out a general from the Italian theatre of war and sent him to India – to head colonial India archaeological operations at ASI.

One evening in early August 1943, Brigadier General Mortimer Wheeler was resting in his tent after a long day of poring over maps, drawing up plans for invasion of Sicily. Mortimer Wheeler was invited to become the director general of archaeology by the India Office of the British government in its last years of rule in South Asia … Summoning a general from the battlefields of Europe was an extraordinary measure, an admission both of the desperate condition of Indian archaeology and an acknowledgment of its vital importance. (from The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture … – Google Books; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied).


Why would the glorious British Empire, on which the sun never set, struggling for its very existence, in the middle of WW2, suddenly pull a general back from the battlefield – and put him into archaeology! That too, Indian archaeology. Not Egyptian, not Greek!

One writer explains how one of Wheeler’s “main objectives was training the rising generation of Indian archaeologists in the field methods that he had perfected …” Oozing with the milk of human kindness, aren’t we? Especially, in the middle of WW II! When it was clear, that the British would be ‘departing’ from India – sooner than later.

Just why did the world’s foremost imperial power, struggling for its very existence, put a general on to the job of digging dirt.

Dirty brown Indian dirt!

Nejstarší dějiny Přední Asie a Indie Bedřich Hrozný - The oldest history of Near Asia and India

Nejstarší dějiny Přední Asie a Indie Bedřich Hrozný - The oldest history of Near Asia and India

Aryan /Indian history becomes fashionable

At the start of twentieth century, there were swarms of people wanting to study Aryan/Indian history. Along with cultural dacoits like Augustine Waddell, Auriel Stein, there were the more academic types who wrote a book on India and ‘Near East’ – Nejstarší dějinyPřední Asie a Indie by Bedřich Hrozný.

By the 1920’s under a deluge of archaeological evidence, it appeared that Indian history would run away from its rulers – the British Colonial Raj.

Usurping Aryan Achievements

While Britain and the France, for colonial reasons, were ‘discovering’ the Greek miracle, Germany and the USA started ‘discovering the ‘Aryan’ roots’ to Western civilization.

Martin Bernal, the author of ‘Black Athena” trilogy analyzes Western “amnesia” towards African contribution to Western culture. His thesis traces this ‘amnesia’ to the replacement of Europe’s “Ancient Model”  (Egypt-Greece-Rome model) of historiography with the “Aryan” (India-Mesopotamia-Babylon-Assyria) model.

Simply speaking, the West replaced Egypt as the source of culture with the Aryans. Fact is, neither the cultural achievements of Egypt (from Africa) nor of the Aryan (from India) are for the West to arrogate to themselves.

A writer on this phase of history, Susan Marchand says,

“The Aryan industry, of course, burgeoned. Even the former Kaiser Wilhelm II, in exile, took up the study of the Orient … In a 1928 letter to his friend, the former emperor reported a recent conversation with Oswald Spengler in which Wilhelm had tried his best to convince the herald of Western doom that “we are orientals [Morgenländer], and not westerners [Abendländer].” (Bold letters, italics, ellipsis mine).

With Germany and America on the Aryan train, Britain was hard pressed to control Indian historiography. ‘Fresh’ evidence was needed to show ‘Aryan’ invasion. Indus Valley civilization provided that opportunity.

The task became easier as Germany lost WW 1, and the Ottoman Empire was carved out of existence. The rump state of Turkey went down the ‘Westernization’ path. Neither Germany or Turkey were in any position to oppose Anglo-French historiography. The Egypt-Greece-Rome-Europe axis dismissed the ‘Aryan model’ archaeologists as pan Babylonists.

And after Hitler and WW II, USA no longer supported the ‘Aryan model.

The ‘Great’ Game

At the dawn of 19th century, European empires, found themselves with barren cultural cupboards. World powers in their own right, with millions of slaves from Africa, after successful’ genocides in Americas, swollen by hubris and military power, across Asia these European powers controlled capital flows across the world. For these empires, archaeology, became a ‘playing’ ground for extending intra-European ‘coopetition’ (a hackneyed business term, made up of cooperation and competition).

For Germany, the charge into archaeology, was a “national competition and a less belligerent realm for expression of resentment at Germany’s late leap into colonial activity.” And these rivalries had a telling effect.

Britons and Frenchmen almost monopolized Egyptian excavation in the 1880s and the 1890’s, but then Germans, Americans, and Italians came in. The turning point came in 1905-1907 with a rush of American expeditions and the founding of the German Archaeological Institute … In Istanbul and its Fertile Crescent provinces, German activity in the army and railroad building spilled over into archaeology. The director of Istanbul’s antiquities service and museum in the 1870s had been a German. German excavations at Pergammon in 1878 and later at Babylon and later at the Hittite capital of Boghazkoi fanned Frenchmen’s uneasiness …

World War I aborted this promising beginning. German property in Egypt was sequestered. After the war, the dispute over Borchardt’s quiet export of the bust of Nefertiti to Berlin flared up. The Eyptians refused to allow German excavation or reopening of the German Archaeological Institute till 1929, when Herman Junker replaced the embittered Borchardt … he clung to his post until 1939 despite British accusations that he worked for the Nazis. (From Whose pharaohs?: archaeology, museums, and Egyptian national identity from … By Donald Malcolm Reid, pages 196-198; ellipsis, underlined text in parenthesis supplied.).

Of course this writer does not tell the complete story of Nefertiti’s bust.

Germany alone, it is estimated, spent some four million marks, between 1899-1913 on excavations in the Middle East /West Asia.

After the founding of the Reich in 1871, archaeology became a national enterprise. The IfAK was taken over by the state, and eventually formed the basis of today’s Deutsches-Archaeologisches Institut. Rivalry with France and Britain extended to the scholarly realm, and resulted in governmental support for large-scale excavations by Ernst Robert Curtius at Olympia (1875-81), Carl Humann at Pergamon (1878-86), and eventually Robert Koldewy at Babylon (1898-1914) and Walter Andrae at Assur (1903-1914) in Ottoman Mesopotamia.[5] Wilhelm II was a particularly enthusiastic promoter of archaeology (pp. 192-199) …

Archaeology abroad grew ever more dependent on the diplomatic and financial support of the Reich for massive long-term projects … German prehistorians of the early-twentieth century also maintained that their countrymen represented the purest modern descendants of the ancient Aryans. Thus they contributed to the witches’ brew that would make up Nazi racist ideology

Out of this politics, came propaganda. In some cases, these archaeological excavations served the purpose of intelligence gathering.

The most famous example of this intelligence work was that of TE Lawrence and Leonard Woolley who were excavating at Carchemish in Syria prior to World War I. Their archaeological endeavours seem to have been secondary and perhaps even a cover for more covert activities.

While Britain and the France, for colonial reasons, were ‘discovering’ the Greek miracle, Germany and the USA started making out a case for ‘Aryan’ roots’ of Western civilization. Martin Bernal, the author of ‘Black Athena trilogy ascribes Western “amnesia” of African contribution to Europe’s replacement of the “Ancient Model” of historiography with the “Aryan” model.

Simply speaking, the West replaced Egypt as the source of culture with the Aryans.

Truth is stranger than fiction

Competition from Germany was especially very galling for the Anglo-French archaeologists and historians. Hollywood’s portrayals of the ‘German archaeologist’, even today are proof of this. Hollywood could not keep its hand off such a juicy set of characters and incidents.

To this odd and motley crowd of British, French, German and Italian archaeologists, add a character like Sheikh Hamoudi, and you have all the characters needed for a Hollywood potboiler – the Indiana Jones series.

Vendyl Jones, James Henry Breasted, Robert Braidwood, Hiram Bingham III and Roy Chapman Andrews became a mashed up Indiana Jones. Hollywood villainy drew upon German archaeologists like Hermann Junker (German archaeologist will do anything for artifacts), Otto Rahn (SS officer after Holy Grail), Ludwig Borchardt (German archaeologist ships home stolen’ artifacts).

German archaeologists  became cannon fodder to build a Hollywood caricature as a villain – as Indiana Jones’ protagonist.

Three rings for elven kings

The history of Indus-Saraswati basin sites is full of false starts – and some of these are false beginnings persist to this date.

excavating northwest India’s “forgotten cities”, historians and archaeologists had to break free from received ways of imagining the past. Cunningham, for instance, based his investigation on Hsuan Tsang’s accounts, using them to identify monasteries and stupas in the course of his surveys. Masson made his way with Alexander the Great’s 326 BC route in mind. Harappa demanded a different grid.(from On the Road to Harappa, Indian Express, Posted: Aug 14, 2005 at 0000 hrs IST).

And that different grid is something that Western historians (and their Indian and Western followers) are finding difficult to work with. The usual theory trotted out is that

The discovery of Harappa revised, in one stroke, existing theories of ancient Indian history. Until then, the earliest known Indians were believed to be the literate Hindus who lived by the Rig Veda in the Second millennium BC. Modern Hindus trace their origins to this “Vedic civilisation”, whose language and religion were considered wholly indigenous to the subcontinent. The existence of a separate pattern of settlement, an advanced civilisation predating the Vedic era by a few hundred years, raised confusing – and politically charged – questions. If the Indus Valley peoples were not Hindus, who were they? And where, then, did the Hindus come from?

This seemingly coherent scenario actually smuggles in some very potent and smooth pseudo-concepts – the concept of Hindus, Vedic and Aryans.

India did not have a religion for many centuries. Dharma ruled India.  The virus of religion was introduced by Desert Bloc – and Indian’s thereafter become ‘Hindus’. Hindus, Hinduism, in India, especially before 1000 AD is a historical fallacy. This fallacy gained significant traction, especially in the last 100 years.

MS in Sanskrit on palm-leaf, Bihar or Nepal, 11th c., 32 ff., 5x31 cm, 2 columns, (3x27 cm), 5 lines in an early Bhujimmol script, borders marked with double lines with orange pigmentation between lines, 1 miniature in text.

MS in Sanskrit on palm-leaf, Bihar or Nepal, 11th c., 32 ff., 5x31 cm, 2 columns, (3x27 cm), 5 lines in an early Bhujimmol script, borders marked with double lines with orange pigmentation between lines, 1 miniature in text.

Second is the Vedic age. There never was a Vedic age. Not in the sense that Western historiographers slot and exclude various developments. This presupposes linear, directional, phased, and centralized development of the Vedas. Assuming a command and control system, it has a non-empirical base.

For instance, this assumes that the Vedic age was dedicated to the Vedas – and all other texts developed after that.

Fact is that the Vedas depend on the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh; along with the Devatas and Asuras. The structure of the Devas, Asuras, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh can really be understood through the Upanishads,  the epics and the Puranas.  And we have not even begun on development of an ‘artificial’ language like Sanskrit  (as opposed to Prakrit).

Pauranik structures, Upanishadic debates, technical compendiums, the twin epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata were parallel developments and coeval – albeit at different stages of evolution, pace and direction.

While other cultures struggle with low or high double digits of ancient texts, India has lakhs of them. This vast body of textual creation, has not happened anywhere else in the ancient world. The very assumption that it happened in India, in a matter of a few centuries – while the Aryans, Greeks, Persians, Scythians, Tocharians, Huns, were conquering India.

During these ‘invasions’, the conquerors were kind enough to leave Indian seers, sages, munis and rishis alone so that they could carry on with the composition of these texts. Massacring the males, raping the women and enslaving the rest, in the meanwhile continued in the parallel. And after these massacres and conversions, these invaders were of course kind enough to convert  to an Indian way of life – and melt away from the centre stage of Indian history. These attempts to phase Indian culture are artificial and unproductive. Simply a caricature of history.

The third fallacy of this dating logic is the ‘Aryan’ culture. Especially, as opposed to Dravidian culture. There was no Aryan race, religion, language, armies, conquests, invasions, rulers or other such markers. The only significant markers for the Aryans were values – especially in relation to slavery. Aryan values would not allow believers to enslave or be enslaved. Slavery was an asuric construct – which Aryan values opposed and sought to end. And all regions that abolished slavery became Aryavart.

And with these three pseudo-concepts, ‘modern’ historians mangle Indian history.

Same blunt tools

After WW1, with Germany and America on the Aryan train, Britain (and by extension, the West) was hard pressed to control Indian historiography. To show ‘Aryan’ invasion, ‘fresh’ evidence was needed. Indus Valley civilization provided that opportunity.

The task became easier as Germany lost WW 1, and the Ottoman Empire was carved out of existence. The rump state of Turkey went down the ‘Westernization’ path. Neither Germany or Turkey were any position to oppose Anglo-French historiography. After Hitler and WW2, the US was also in no position to continue with the Aryan legacy story. The Egypt-Greece-Rome-Europe axis dismissed the ‘Aryan model’ archaeologists as pan Babylonists.

Before leaving India, Britain gave one, last twist, to the ‘Aryan invasion’ knife, sticking out of the Indian history side. And Mortimer Wheeler was that last twist in the Indian side by the departing British rulers.

And HARP is the proxy knife which is being used – for the same reasons, with same blunt tools, but with lesser effects.

The Hittite city of Hattusa took another nearly 100 years to disgorge its secrets -to modern archaeologists. Guarded by weathered stone lions, (very similar to Ashoka Pillars lions), the excavation became the centre of much politicking.

The politics of archaoelogy

In 1904, English archaeologist John Garstang (1876-1956) lost out to Hugo Winckler, of Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, (German Oriental Institute) supposedly at the intervention of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm-II for excavations at Boghaz koi.

The finds at Bogazkoy were an extension of the Tell-el-Armana archive of diplomatic correspondence found by Flinders Petrie in 1891-1892. The decipherment of the Tell-el-Amarna letter, by JA Knudtzon, in 1901, linked the few earleir tablets found at Boghazkoi-Hattusha. By French archaeologist JA Ernest Chantre in 1893-94, who was

the first in a long line of archaeologists to dig at the ancient site in the 1890s, starting with the hill top compound. His exclusive interest in tablets, unfortunately, led him to destroy everything else he uncovered.

Babylonian Astronomy – The Indo-Assyrian Roots

Posted in History, language by Anuraag Sanghi on June 7, 2009

Indian themes in Assyrian history

Some 175-146 years after Hammurabi, the Assyrian throne passed onto his grandson, who ascended the throne of Babylon – and took a very Buddhist name. This is apparently a 1000 years before Gautama Buddha – as per Western dating fix! Known in history as Ammisaduqua /Ammisaduqa (1646-1626) – अमिष, amish in Sanskrit means truth and honesty + duqa = suffering, pain. Was Ammisaduqua one of the earliest Bodhisattvas, or one of the earliest followers of Buddha.

Western dating gone completely awry?

In the heavens …

Apart from commissioning an authoritative study on planet Venus (‘probably the earliest example’ of astronomy), Ammisaduqua /Ammisaduqa /Ammizaduga is known for cancelling debts. Was he named Ammisaduqua /Ammisaduqa because he understood the ‘true suffering’ of the people.

The discovery of clay tablets at the Kuyunjik mound in mid 19th century, at Sippar, in modern Iraq, (ancient Niniveh), in the palace of Ashurbanipal (668-635 BC), in the 19th century, was the most complete set of tablets recovered, of the study first commissioned by Ammisaduqua. The name of the scribe of these tablets has been variously deciphered as Ku-Aya, Nur-Aya, Ipiq-Aya – and most interestingly, ‘in all probablity, the scribe was called’ Kasap-Aya, the same as the famous Indian rishi Kashyapa, ऋषि कश्यप.

Enuma Anu Enlil

Enuma Anu Enlil

Enuma Anu Enlil, the 70 clay tablet series, by astronomer-astrologers in Mesopotamia, recovered from the ruins of Ashurbanipal’s Library, at Niniveh, containscareful records of celestial events for centuries’ – with an inventory of 7000 omens.

Enuma-Anu, could also be spelt as Anumaanu. And अनुमान anumana, which in Sanskrit is, estimate, infer, deduce, close (not exact) calculation. Enlil is the Assyrian God of Winds and Skies. Anil अनिल is also the modern Sanskrit word for air, wind.

What Enuma Anu Enlil, then means is Calculation of the Winds and Skies – which is what it is. It has been noticed that there is “evidence that the earliest layers of this vast collection go back to lunar eclipse omens from the Dynasty of Akkad and Ur III late in the third millennium.”

Cuneiform tablet with the Atrahasis Epic - The British Museum

Cuneiform tablet with the Atrahasis Epic - The British Museum

To the seas …

The earliest extant account we get of the Flood, (pralaya प्रलय in Indian texts) Atra-hasis is also ascribed to the Ammisaduqua reign – which can be gauged by the scribal colophon marks. The Atra-hasis is the world’s first account of the Flood (as per Western history) – which is recounted also in the Bible. This account of the Flood, the Atra-hasis, written by Atra, possibly by a scribe named after Rishi Atri, ऋषि अत्रि, one of the writers of the Rig Veda. The scribe writes, “at-ra-am-ha-si”, which in Sanskrit will read as अत्री अम्हसी “Atri am I”.

Since (deciphered) Akkadian language, in which these tablets were composed, works on presumptive vowels, (deciphered) vowels are a matter of guesswork, opinion and such. To give the benefit of doubt, most Assyriologists have little or poor knowledge of Indian texts and Sanskrit, which comes in the way of making some of these connections.

Eye in the sky …

But wonder turns to puzzlement, when one comes to a Babylonian king called Kandalanu (647-627 BC) – or alternatively, Kundalin(i). Kundali कुण्डली in Sanskrit means circle – of seasons, life, fortune, etc – and janam kundali is made. The measurements of Saturn during Kandalanu’s reign of 20-odd years are important to understanding Mesopotamian astronomy. Saturn in Indian astronomy is Shani शनि. In Indian astrology, Shani casts a dark and baleful shadow on which ever zodiac sign it moves into.



It is speculated that the Kandalanu was the throne name for Ashur-bani-pal – at whose library the above clay tablets were found. Historians have have mixed opinions about Kandalanu and Ashurbanipal being the same person.

Its gotta be the Greeks …

Oh no! Not again!!

Babylonian astronomy (encompassing Assyrian, Mesopotamian, Sumerian, Akkadian) is closely allied with Indian developments in direction, purpose and history. This challenges modern history, caught between the ‘Greek Miracle’ as history school, which has stuck to the Egypt->Greece->Rome->Europe–>West-Is-The-Greatest Axis. For long, the West has systematically suppressed Indian achievements in various spheres – largely for reasons of colonial propaganda.

Western historians trace Indian own significant achievements in astronomy to ‘import’ from Babylon – via Greece! David Brown, an ‘expert’, on Mesopotamian astronomy and astrology, goes further and asserts that the “evidence for transmission to Greece and thence to India in the Hellenistic period was overwhelming.” (from Learned antiquity By Alasdair A. MacDonald, Michael W. Twomey, G. J. Reinink).

What is this ‘overwhelming’ evidence that he presents? Nothing, but the usual dating mix ups. Considering “it unlikely that it was the work of one person’ , analysts are surprised, ‘considering its internal consistency”.

Worried, Mr.Brown? There is more, where this from, Mr.Brown.

Surely, if Indians needed to learn, would it not have been easier and simpler, Mr.Brown, for Indians to have learnt this directly, from the Babylonians – instead of getting of it second hand from the Greeks.

Burn Your Old History Books – Emerging New History

Posted in European History, Gold Reserves, History, India, politics, Religion by Anuraag Sanghi on March 5, 2008

Nag Hammadi Scripts

December, 1945. Nag Hammadi

WW2 was over. Victors were busy, sharing the spoils. Colonies were awaiting release. Feudal systems were wearing thin at the cuffs.

In Upper Egypt, a farmer, Mohammed Ali Samman while digging for sabakh’ (kind of guano, bird droppings used as natural fertiliser), near Nag Hammadi, discovered an earthen jar. Overcoming his initial fears of breaking open the jar (it may well contain djinns), he found some books! Disappointed with his ‘find’, he dumped this in his house along with firewood and straw. His mother used some of the books and pages to start the fire.

20 years later after passing through many hands, it was found that these were the same books that the Catholic Church has been, allegedly, trying to suppress for 1500 years. Only 3 more copies of this book existed in the world.

Till the Nag Hammadi finding, there were three surviving copies of the Gnostic book, The Pistis Sophia – the Askew Codex (in the British Museum), The Berlin (or Akhmim) Kodex (acquired in Cairo, Egypt) and the Bruce Codex (bought in Thebes, Upper Egypt, by Lord James Bruce) donated to the Bodlein Library.

The Dead Sea ScrollsDead Sear Scroll Jar

Two years later, in 1947, at Wadi Qumran, near the Dead Sea, then in Jordan, now in Israel, a Bedouin shepherd boy was finding himself short of his goats. He set out in search of his goats and wandered into nearby caves.

In these dark caves, he made a discovery that shook the Christian world. He found earthen jars containing ancient scrolls written in papyrus, animal skin and copper plates also. Over the next 9 years, more than 900 such documents were recovered from 11 nearby caves. The Jordanian authorities handed it over to a team of (mostly) Catholic priests. For 40 years, this team did not release much information. International uproar about the slow progress and the role of the Catholic Church (re. suppression of these documents for more than 40 years) finally forced the teams to open up the documents.

West Asia

Between 1850-1900, Western archaeologists dug up more than 400,000 clay tablets in West Asia. This loot was carried back to the British Museum, Louvre France, Imperial Museum in Berlin, University Of Pennsylvania. Latter day digs and finds were retained in Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. In the last 100 years, of the more than 400,000 clay tablets excavated, less than a 70,000 have been deciphered between the four institutions. Less than one fifth have been published so far.


The Elamite capital is called by Western archaeologists as Susa – but correctly is Shushan (was it so called because it was the seat of of शासन shaasan’, the Sanskritic word for governance). It was initially populated by an aboriginal tribe called ‘uwaja’ (did the Elamites call them पूरवजpurvaja’ – Sanskritic for ancestors) and some other Greek sources called them Uxii.Bas relief From Susan

Alfredo Trombetti, an Italian Elamologist, was an Italian linguist who theorised that all the languages in the world evolved from one language – monogenesis of language, his theory is called. In his book, Elementi Di Glottologia, he worked backwards to North India as the source of all languages. Trombetti learned French, German, Greek, Hebrew and Latin by himself. He spoke these languages when he was 14 years old. In the colonial era, where Britain was the single super cpower, such credit given to India was not welcome.

Archibald Henry Sayce’s essays dealing with Elamite: ‘Amardian or Protomedic Tablets in the British Museum’ settled the initial direction for interpretation for Elamite studies.

Indic Connections

Hittites were one of the main branches of Indics in the region. Ramesis II is about 100 years after Akhenaten – (एकनाथन Eknathan meaning One God in Sanskrit). Akhenaten’s father is AmenhotepIII who wanted to marry the Mittani (another Indic kingdom) princess of Dashratta (Tushrutta). The Indic influence and presence is overwhelming in the Levant at this time. E.g. Instead of building mausoleums, Akhenaten built temples – much like other Indian kings (seen after 10th century AD).

After this there is a slow fadeout and decrease of the Indic rule in the Middle East. The Achmenaid Persians take-over from Elamites (The Indic Dravidians who settled Persia). Egypt became a Roman colony – and turned westward. Judaism began to grow.

Why this change?

Slavery Continues

West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, made Indo Aryan rulers disengage politically from West Asia and Middle East. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three ‘desert religions’, gained their first converts from slaves, but continued with slavery till the 20th century.Hittite Musicians

The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Non-political Indian role in West Asia and Middle East continued to grow in terms of trade and learning. Babylon became a part of Alexander’s empire (and then the Roman Empire).

The slave revolt of Egypt by Moses, made the Indic rulers reform and distance themselves from the slave owning societies. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.

This slave reform and distancing of Indic rulers from slave societies was led by Indian reformers like Buddha and Mahavira. This happened not around and after 500 BC as determined by Western dating logic (which needed to fit the Aryan Invasion Theory, The ‘evolution’ of Greek and Romans) – but around 1000 BC.

Reformist Rulers & Inherited Systems

In the extended India, slavery was an inherited social system – for which the Hittites made some liberal laws. The inherited norm of slavery was sought to be liberalised, in incremental manner by the Indic societies of the Middle East.Slavery In Egypt

This incremental liberalisation created a backlash against the ‘holier-than-thou’ Indians, by the slave-owning, ruling classes of the non-Indic societies – and the newly liberated classes also. The ancient equivalent of Nixon’s outbursts against the ‘sanctimonious Indians.’ It was this humane treatment of slaves and humanization of criminals which has possibly resulted in a the low crime rates in India.

Who were blamed

Possibly, the Indic reformers. The liberated blame the liberator. Much like Gandhiji was killed by a Hindu.

I can hear people screaming, ‘Who asked you to give such fancy ideas like dignity, freedom to these slaves. Look now what has happened”. And when the unemployed, hungry slaves were turned back by their bankrupt masters, the slaves must have said, “You have created these rifts. All that we asked for was a little less of work and a little more of comfort. We don’t want this freedom. Can we eat freedom!”

Anti-Babylon tirades in in the Judeo-Christian tradition were a direct result of this anti-slavery attitude of the Indics in the Middle East. Moses and Semitic followers freed themselves – and enslaved others. Possibly, the Indics in Babylon did not approve of such practices – and hence the anti-Babylon tirades.

The Moses Connection

This liberalisation triggered a (vengeful) Moses to walk out of Egypt and formed Judaism – a monotheistic religion. The (suspected) Pharaoh at that time was Ramesis-II roughly between 1300-1200 BC. This is also when the Battle of Kadesh happened with the Hittites, which resulted in the most famous treaty.

The cause of this battle was the defection of King Benteshina of the Amurru (is the correct name Bente = वंश vansha in Sanskrit and shin = moon goddess; meaning Chandravanshi?). The Amurru, (also known as Amorites) possibly switched sides from being an Egyptian vassal, to a Hittite ally. Were Amurrus, the Mauryas who later defeated the Seleucid army?

Military paradigm changes

As the political disengagement progressed, the Indic rulers also changed the military paradigm. Buddhist texts talk about 16 mahajanapadas – which formed this ruling federation.

The foremost administrative innovation was the concept of Bharata(ah) – the aryavart and the arya dhwaj. Comprising of 16 to 30 mahajanapadas, Bharata(ah) became a federation of kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms became a series of succeeding lines of defence against invading armies. What the European Union is grappling with, (and may yet fail) for the last 300 years, was implemented and used 3000 years ago in India.

Six other important changes were seen.

One war chariots became less important. By the time of Alexander’s march in India, chariots were a minor part of the Indian armies. Instead, the importance of cavalry increased. Bessos, the Bactrian mathista, designated to succeed Darius III, led the successful Indic cavalry charge, at Gaugamela, on the Macedonian right flank – which forced Alexander to focus on the centre of the Persian army, led by Darius III.

When Alexander finally was able to make his way to India, he met a fierce onslaught of the Indian cavalry units – supported by fearsome elephants. Indian cavalry units were always smaller than in other nations due to paucity of horses in India. India was a traditional importer of horses. For combat use, Indian cavalry used imported horses and Indian breeds (like the marwari breed) were smaller – easily trained and more intelligent, but smaller and less stamina, were used as as pack animals .

Two – a system of alliances supporting frontline kingdoms in the entire North West Indian swath was formulated. For instance, against the Assyrian invasion, led by Semiramis, a minor Indian king, Stabrobates, was supported to beat back the Assyrian invasion. Against Cyrus the Great, Tomyris, a Scythian Queen was supported to massacre the Persian invaders. Alexander’s nightmare began immediately, as soon as he crossed into the Indic area.

Instead of the complete collaboration that Alexander got from the defeated Achmaenid ruling family of Sisygambis, Stateira, Oxathres (brother of Darius III; also written as oxoathres and oxyathres) et al, the foursome of Bessos, Spitamenes, Datafernes and the Scythians made Alexander’s life miserable. At Gaugamela, it was Bessos and his cavalry which broke Alexander’s formation.

The tribes and kshatrapas (satraps) of Indian North West swath, delayed Alexander for nearly three years – before he could step into India. In India, Alexander had to pay the King of Taxiles, Omphis, (Ambi) 1000 talents of gold (more than 25 tons of gold) – to secure an alliance. He had to return the kingdom of Punjab to Porus – purportedly, after winning the battle. His loot and pickings from India were negligible. Thus while, invaders were kept at bay, within the Indic area, borders and crowns kept changing and shifting.

Three – the biggest game changer were the elephant corps. War elephants was an Indian invention and an Indian monopoly. After the defeat and death of Cyrus The Great at the hands of Tomyris, the Persians stopped looking India-wards. 500 years later (nearly), with the help of the Indian elephant corps, the Sassanians stopped the Romans at Persian borders.

With these three changes, Indian heartland became invincible. Empire builders like the Assyrian Queen, Semiramis and the Achmaenian Emperor, Cyrus the Great mounted expensive campaigns to conquer India – and barely escaped with their lives. Later, Genghis Khan’s armies  avoided India completely. Timurlane could invade India – when Delhi was under rule by a foreign dynasty, the Tughlaks. Indian invincibility and military prowess was unmatched for till the 13th century – when the first foreign rulers, the Slave Dynasty rulers from the Levant started ruling from Delhi – Qutubuddin Aibak, in 1206.

Four – Indian teachers and intellectuals were sent to all corners of the world. The spread of Buddhism in Asia is well chronicled. Socrates’ encounter with an Indian yogi however, is not so well known. Mani, the Buddhist teacher was feared by the Vatican for the next 1000 years. Vatican killed, burnt and quartered all those who displayed any leaning towards Manicheanism. Islamic invaders searched and destroyed statues or ‘boet’ (meaning statues of Buddha?).

Five – the legal and political structures were popularized. The usage of gold was popularized  and became widespread as an economic tool. Coinage in India was not a royal prerogative or   implemented by fiat. Thus, for instance, there were intricate Greco-Bactrian coins, (probably privately minted) compared to crude and simple Indic official coins. Sanskritic and Darvidian systems were used to structure ancient languages like Akkadian and Elamite. Slavery in Asia went into remission till the rise of Islam. Religious persecution became a random occurrence. Asian economy accounted for between 50%-80% of world economic output.

Alexander’s takeover of the Assyrio-Persian empire in Asia was largely reversed. The spread of the Roman Empire, built on slavery and loot, was halted at West Asia. The Sassanian Dynasty with its elephant corps, the  Zend-hapet, or “Commander of the Indians,” blockaded the Asian continent from Western invaders – which stabilized Asiatic societies. Initially, the Sassanian dynasty was able to wrest back and later defend the Persian dominions from the Greco-Romans rulers after setting up an Indian elephants corps in their army – evidenced, for instance, by the carvings at Taq-i-Bustan. At one time, the Sassanian rulers had increased its elephant corps to 12,000 elephants.

Sixth – Technologically, the Indian invention of Wootz steel, was another game changer. Wootz steel, which was an Indian monopoly from 500 BC till nearly 1900 AD, was the best steel for swords, lances, spears – for defence products. Wootz steel, was the preferred input in the world, for swords, pistols and such. Known as Damascus steel, it went into Japanese Katanas, European guns. The famed Damascus steel swords, armour and pistols, used steel ingots imported from India as Wootz steel. Indian exports of Wootz was a big earner for India till British efforts killed this industry in India. Subsequent efforts to “reverse engineer” this technology in Europe during the 20th century, has been unsuccessful. Damascus was the trading centre over which the Battle of Kadesh, the biggest chariot battle, was fought between the Indo-Aryan Hittites and the Egyptian Pharoah Ramesses-II fought.

Moses & Christ

Christ – a more forgiving man than the vengeful Moses, came in a little later. His life as a young man has been obscured. Till 400 AD, Buddhism was blanking out Christianity. Constantine’s Council of Nice, the subsequent State patronage and force of Church oppression thereafter ensured the survival and growth of Christianity.

Mani – Linking Buddhism to Christ

Mani, a Buddhist preacher who also talked of Christ as a major reform teacher was seen as a major threat by the Church from 250 AD to till about 1500 AD.

Buddhism had already spread to Sri Lanka, India and Afghanistan – making waves. The Church was having a uphill time in gaining believers from new religions – like Buddhism, and Mani, a Persian Buddhist teacher trained in India. The Manichean religion was an eclectic mix of Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Mithraism. It appealed to significant sections of the population, as it showed continuity from earlier faiths. It recognised earlier prophets and teachers like Buddha and Jesus – and Mani as the last teacher in this line of prophets.

Christian writers (Hippolytus and Epiphanius) write about Scythianus, who visited India around 50AD from where he brought ideas about Apokatastasis (re-birth) – “the doctrine of the Two Principles”. Scythianus’ pupil Terebinthus (Tere – Lord + binthu = Hindu; Hindu Lord) called himself as a “Buddha” (“Buddas”), as mentioned in writings of Cyril of Jerusalem). Terebinthus went to Palestine and Judaea where he met the Apostles “becoming known and condemned”, and ultimately settled in Babylon, where he transmitted his teachings to Mani.

This religion spread far – from Europe to China. In China, this was integrated with Buddhist beliefs (Taisho Tripitaka). In Afghanistan, Iran it was Aiyn-e-Mani. In Europe it became Manichean. This posed a challenge to the Church. The response of the Church – wipe the very thought of a different belief.

Simply put, this religion posited that there is an eternal struggle between Good and Evil. Men should protect themselves against evil (the Roman Church feared that this may lead to Devil worship) and lead a life of virtue. The Vatican Church believed that there was God and he did not create evil.

Women (Eve) did. This was the Original Sin. All mankind are sinners now and need to pray to God (and Jesus was his son and sent to Earth to save mankind) and redeem ourselves. St.Augustine was canonised for his conversion from Manichean to Christianity.

Pistis Sophia, Gnostics & Buddhism

Pistis Sophia (surviving as Bruce Codex, Berlin-Akhmim Codex and Askew Codex) were suppressed by Britain and Germany for decades. Rediscovered as Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hamamdi manuscripts, research has been slowed to a crawl. The question now is no more ‘did Buddhism influence Christianity’ but ‘how much did Buddhism influence Christianity’. Do these manuscripts show a greater extent of Buddhism than colonial Britain, supremist Germany and the Vatican would like to admit?

Slavery In India

Slavery in India, disappeared from about 1000 BC. Zilch. Nyet. Non. Nada, nada. Unlike in the rest of the world, no records, ever, have been found of human trafficking in the Indic bloc. Indian pauranik and classical history begins to make sense only after the concept of ‘asuras’ as a verbal cue for slavery, slave masters and slave traders is used. Sanskrit and Indic languages have no word for ‘slave’. In modern times, India’s rise as a power in computing industry, is also partly due to the same logical structure of Sanskrit language.

While the Levant and the Occident continued with slavery for the next 3000 years, till 1900 AD, in India (referring to the Greater India, including the Hittites and Mitannis) after 1100 BC, slavery vanished. Compared to the retributive and vengeful Hammurabi’s code, the Indic rulers of Middle East (the Hittites, Mittanis and Elamites) already had a more liberal and humane legal system.

Kung-fu stances

Kung-fu stances

Enter The Ahimsa Twins

Buddha and Mahavira come in.

Western historian dates are slotted for 500 BC for the ahimsa ‘twins’. What if the Buddha and Mahavira are from the 1000 BC – and led the reform against slavery. This also ties in with the historic (and unique) movement of Indian diet towards an increase in vegetarian component.

Indic rejection of slavery, led to their disengagement from the Middle East, where other cultures, continued with slavery. From dominance, Indians became satisfied with presence and influence. Capture by slave traders and slavery was also the reason, that possibly, Indian traders preferred buyers to come to them. This also accounts for the system of unarmed combat that travelled with Buddhist monks to China – and became Chinese Kung Fu, or the Kalaripayattu (in Kerala) or the system of लठैद (combat practitioners using ‘lathis’ – bamboo sticks).

The Ahimsa Appeal

The exhortation towards ‘ahimsa’ is an appeal to the ‘oppressors’ to stop ‘himsa’ against all life – and similarly for the oppressed to resolve the social issues by ‘ahimsa.’ There is of course, some merit in taking some issues like oppression at a general level, as a matter of principal – and not to get bogged down in specifics.

Do keep in mind that Elamites, (cousins of modern Dravidians) founded Persia; the Middle East was influenced and had significant presence of Indic Mittanis and Hittites – and India was far bigger than what we see today.Buddha

Slave Memory In Indian Society

Slave memory faded out and there are only some stray references in Indian classical literature about slavery – like the Harishchandra story. The understanding of the word ‘asura’ changed – and foreign words like ‘ghulam’ made their way into Indic languages.

Jataka stories (mainly considered as children’s stories in the West) are a reflection of social mores, realities- and also cautionary tales for adults. This Jataka story (click on the link) refers to a “demon’ (another word for a slave trader) and cautions travellers and merchants about slave traders. This ‘demon’ kidnaps the merchant – but leaves the goods behind. Similarly, the story of Bali, the righteous Asura king, who was sent to the patalaloka, by Vamana, makes sense, the moment ‘demons’ are defined as slave-owners and enslavers.

Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade.

In modern times, though India is a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus. In August 2008, there was hoax story, which alleged that an Indian hacker, had broken into a credit card database – and sold to the European underworld – and some ‘experts’ feared that this would spark of a crime wave across Europe.

The Greek Dark Age

Around the 1000 BC inflection point, there is another interesting thing that happened – the so called Greek Dark Age. From 1200 BC to 900 BC – when the Indic kingdoms, like Hittites, the Mittanis and Elamites were dis-engaging from the Levant, the Greeks went through ‘a catastrophe’. Egypt and Mesopotamia were threatened. Two Mycenaen cities, 40 other cities of Turkey, Syria and Middle East were destroyed.

The Greek Miracle assisted by the revival of trade links with India through the Phoenicians in 900 BC. And the Greek city states who were the recipients of the slaves from the Anatolia. These new found slaves from the Middle East spurred the ‘Greek Miracle’.

And who were the Phoenicians? Some suggest that the word ‘phoenia’ is corruption of ‘bania’ – and these were the South Indian sea-traders, with ships made in Masulipatnam and Sopara.

Plague, Locusts, Disease

So what was behind the the Indian disengagement from West Asia, the Greek Dark Age and the fall of the XVIIIth dynasty of Egypt.

Moses and Judaism, slavery, revolt of the slaves is my hypotheses. With the walkout by slaves, cities became dirty, plague broke out, agriculture suffered and locusts descended. With malnutrition, hunger and deprivation, came diseases.The newly liberated slaves fled to Greece – on Phoenician ships, where they were enslaved again.

And who went to town claiming credit for mishaps in Egypt? Moses, proclaiming the power of his God.

Vegetarianism & Cows

This outbreak of war between the slave owners, led to reform in Indian diet. Increased vegetarianism in India. India diets (there are vast regional and ethnic variations) has the lowest ‘meat’ content in the world. The sheer dominance of non-meat items in the normal Indian diet is unique in the world.

This also made the cow ‘holy’ – as the cow saved Indians during this difficult times. The Indian cow is incredibly easy to maintain. The Indian zebu cow yields nutritious milk, butter, ghee, eats anything, is resistant to diseases, has a long life (15-20 years), short gestation period, bull calves can be used as ‘draft’ animals, cow-dung can be used for fuel – and, of course, cow skin makes the best leather.

What Did This Do In India

At least 3000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till 20th century. Middle East’s labour laws even today smack of slave owner mentality.

It was these events in 1000 BC which made two things happen.

It catalysed the refinement and consolidation of Sanskrit, the Vedas, The Ramayana, The Mahabharata et al. And it led to many reform leaders, the Bodhisatvas and Tirthankaras – prime amongst whom were Buddha and Mahavira, who counselled patience, introspection, ahimsa to their followers.

In modern times, the easiest test of oppression is ‘statistically significant’ population decline. And there has been no population decline in India to even talk about ‘oppression’ in the genocidal meaning that the West tries equating with India – to cover up their own genocides.

Dates and Periodization

Of course, Western historians (and its followers) will throw the problem of dates at this hypothesis. Buddha and Mahavira were periodized circa 500 BC by Western historians; to ensure that the Greeks got all the credit and that the Aryan invasion theory became feasible. A relook at the dates will support this hypotheses.

The other aspect is that even if Buddha and Mahavira are correctly dated, the role of Tirthankaras and Bodhisatvas (highly regarded by Gautama Buddha and Mahavira) cannot be diminished in the reform story.

Anton Fuhrer – Fixer Of Dates & Places

The gentleman who is supposed to have ‘fixed’ Gautama Buddha’s birthplace, date and time was a certain Dr.Alois Anton Fuhrer. This gentleman was subsequently accused of having tampered with archaeological artifacts – and the Lumbini artifacts etc.

Call it reform or evolution. Slavery was clearly an inherited institution in some part of the great Indic spread.

Rat Migration – And History Looks Different

Posted in Current Affairs, History, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on February 2, 2008

The Loyal Black RatRattus Rattus

On February 1st, 2008, a report by an Australian researcher, traces the spread of the Indian rat. Indian rat migration, (this research shows) began 20,000 years – a corollary of human travel, and not natural migration. The route of this spread is through the Middle East – and later to Europe. This report focussed on the spread of the rat – and used modern DNA technology to track these migratory movements – with little or no historical comment.

The Black Rat (Rattus rattus) has had its role in history. But this new piece of research on the common rat adds to the re-write of history.

What …? Rat migration! Re-write history?

Aryan Invasion & Migration Theory

This report on rat migration adds to the re-look, currently underway, of (Indian and world) history.

Max Mueller’s theory, a German (orientalist, whatever they are) popularised a theory that originates the Indic civilisation from the Central Asia down to Iran – whether migration or invasion is possibly immaterial. Max Mueller’s theory is questionable due to his “open” agenda of Christian propaganda and the British colonial state patronage.

As per Max Mueller, from Iran, the Aryans branched out to Europe and India. Hence, the similarities in languages. There are alternative historical scenarios being mapped out. Politically, Max Mueller’s theory created a political divide in India that proposed Aryan conquest (by North India) of Dravidians(from South India). Unfortunately, our schools and history books still carry this suspect theory.

Recently, after racist attempts in the USA to push this theory, some NRI /PIO academics have carried out further research – which has made this theory look very flimsy.

From India To Babylon and Russia

In 1906-07, an Turkish archeologist , Theodore Makridi-Bey, started excavations at Hattusas (Boghazkoi), 150-200 kms from Ankara, in Cappadocia. He was joined by Hugo Winckler, a German archaeologist, specialising in Assyria. They unearthed more than 10,000 clay tablets which proved to be of tremendous interest. Till the decipherent of thes tabets, some 15 years later, it was assumed by Euro-centric historians that this must, “undoubtedly have been the temple of Jupiter, mentioned by Strabo.”

Deciphered cuneiform tablets show worship of Varuna, Mitra and Indra – Gods worshipped by Indo Aryans. Rulers and Kings had names likes Shutruk (Shatrughna), Tushrutta meaning “of splendid chariots” (similar to Dashratha; Master of Ten Chariots) Rama-Sin (Assyrian Moon Good was Sin; in other words Ramachandra) Warad (Bharat) immediately before and after Hammurabi – the world’s first law giver. The Elam culture had a language which is similar to modern Tamil language. The Mitannite, Kikkuli, wrote on how to manage chariot horses. Egyptian king, Amenhotep I, married a Mittanite princesses. Elamites were founders of the first kingdom in the Iranian geography.

The Amarna letters (written by Tushratta) have made historians sit up – and a reluctant re-interpretation of history is beginning.

Post colonial historical revision is proposing new theories. New archaelogical evidence supports history that shows Aryans moved from India to the Anatolian plains and established the Sumerian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian cultures of Elam, Mitannites, Kassites along modern Syria to Turkey. The Elamites, Mittanis, Hittites competed and traded with the Egyptians.

West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, made Indo Aryan rulers disengage politically from West Asia and Middle East. Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the three ‘desert religions’, gained the first converts from slaves, but continued with slavery till the 20th century. The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just transferred slave titles. Old slaves in turn became the new slave masters. Non-political Indian role in West Asia and Middle East continued to grow in terms of trade and learning. Babylon became a part of Alexander’s empire (and then the Roman Empire).

What Does This Mean

European historians have traditionally dated Aryan Indian civilisation at 1500-1800BC. The Indus valley was dated 1500-2000BC. At these dates, Hammurabi, ancient Babylon were already established. Greece was flourishing.

As for India – (following Max Mueller’s theory), it was a desolate, backward civilisation, awaiting Aryan conquest. Aryan conquerors came, raped Indian women, pushed Dravidians to the South, and ruled India. India’s progress was thus entirely due to the colonisers. This was history that was used by British colonisers and is accepted today.

And this colonial history is suspect – and being questioned.

Scientific Proof – Apart From Theory

A further bolster to the new theory is DNA and mitochondrial mapping done by various teams. These mapping and analyses (Sanghamitra Sahoo, et al) show that there has been no major DNA (Analabha Basu, et al) inputs into India. Some expert interpretation show that this data may require more and further research – as everything does all the time. More research done in India also throws up similar results regarding domestic DNA. This same research also shows that Indians share certain DNA markers with West /Middle East Asia – which supports Indian presence in Egypt, Mesopotamia (Syria, Iraq) and Anatolia (Turkey).

DNA research shows that a band of Indians went into Europe – now referred to as Roma Gypsies and share Indian genetic code. These Roma Gypsies have been living at the edge of European society – and have been severely persecuted through history. While Nazi and Croat brutalities against the Jews is known, that against the Roma Gypsies is swept under the carpet. European derisory references to Indian untouchability, overlook their own treatment of co-inhabitants for at least 1000 years is matter of shame for Europe.

Speculatively speaking

More RatsWhen enterprising Indian traders set out from India and slowly spread across the Middle East to Turkey – spreading their languages, religion and social systems, travelling in caravans of bullock-carts. And ships of the fabled land of Ophir, from South India, known as Oviyarnadu, came to West Asia, carrying ivory, peacocks, monkeys, sandalwood (says the Bible).

These loyal rats travelled with the intrepid Indian traders, on their ships and bullock carts, is how I think these rats spread. This is yet another part of the jigsaw – in which the Amarna letters, the Boghazkoi tablets and the DNA sampling of Indians (and Indian rats) disprove the AMT /AIT theory. These incidents point to another version of history.

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