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 Home » Tutorials » History » Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization

Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization


Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization (c. 3000 B.C.)


The National Atlas of India (Hindi), Calcutta, 1957, Govt. of India publication; Bharat-BhUracanA map depicts a short trace of Sarasvati-Ghaggar in Haryana, in dotted lines apparently to denote dried-up river beds.
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Harappa was a `city' site; but the Sarasvati and Sindhu rivers had nurtured a large number of `village' sites. The state of archaeological knowledge has grown enormously since the Harappan site discovery in the 1920's. The cumulative achievement of archaeological work allows us to redefine the Harappan civilization as Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization.

"Evidence from many sources, including that of archaeological remains associated with old river courses, indicates that a major river, stemming mainly from the same sources as the present Sutlej, flowed through Northern Rajasthan, Bahawalpur and Sind-- to the southeast of the present course of the Sutlej and the Indus -- in the third to second millennium BC. This river, known as the Sarasvati in its upper course, at different times either joined the lower course of the Indus in Sind, or found its way independently into the Arabian Sea via Rann of Kutch.'' (Allchin, B., Goudie, A., and Hegde, K., 1978, The prehistory and palaeogeography of the Great Indian Desert, London, Academic Press, p. 198).

Prof. Ahmad Hasan Dani writes (Ed. Indus Civilization -- New Perspectives, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, 1981, pp.3- 12): `To him (John Marshall) goes the credit of coining the term The Indus Civilization. But his geographic horizon no longer holds good and the term deriving therefrom is open to question ... . The wide-spread nature of the Indus Civilization throughout Panjab and Sind had already expanded the meaning of the original term. Still later in the post-1947 period the Indus Civilization sites have been discovered in large number outside the present Indus region right up to the very borders of Yamuna in the north-east (Alamgirpur on the Hindon, a tributary of the Yamuna about 30 miles north of Delhi), along the dried-up bed of the river Ghaggar in northern part of Rajasthan, and in Gujrat right upto the mouths of Narbada and Tapti rivers'.

Ghaggar which reached the Hakra branch in Bahawalpur, is traditionally identified with the Sarasvati river. [cf. Sir Aurel Stein's explorations in the valley: Ancient India, no.5, 1949, pp. 12-30; A. Ghosh discovered 25 Harappan sites (Indian Archaeology--a Review, 1962-63) in the ``region beginning right from the Pakistan border (eastwards) up to midway between Hanumangarh (bhaTner or bhattinagara) and Suratgarh in the Sarasvati valley and about 25 kms. east of Bhadra in the Drishadvati valley''; Dr. Mughal discovered more than 300 sites in the Bahawalpur area)]. Banawali excavated by Bisht is 15 km. northwest of Fatehabad, near the Sarasvati river and about 120 km. east of Kalibangan. Bhagwanpura, Dist. Kurukshetra, is located on the right bank of the Sarasvati river south of Rupar and is a site excavated by Joshi.

Etymologically, sarasvati means `abundance of lakes (saras)'. The synonym of sarasvatI (goddess of vAk = speech or language) is brAhmI which is the name given to the early scripts used in aSOka's epigraphs of circa 300 B.C. The sUkta 6.61 of the Rigveda is a dedication to sarasvatI river; sUkta 75 is the nadi sUkta dedicated to sindhu river. The trio: drshadvatI, Apaya and sarasvatI are extolled in Rk 3.23.4. Other Rks dedicated to the river are: 1.3.10, 1.3.11, 1.3.12, 2.30.8, 7.95.1, 8.21.17 and 18. References are made to yajnas performed by king citra on the banks of the river.[Apaya may be a branch of the Chitang river; this may also have yielded the sememe: ab, Ap = waters].

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