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In Search of Vedic-Harappan Relationship

In Search of Vedic-Harappan Relationship
Item Code: IDK934
Author: AshviniAgrawal
Publisher: Aryan Books International
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8173052824
Pages: 208 (33 B/W Illustrations, 8 Maps)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 11.4” X 8.7”
From The Jacket
The search for Vedic-Harappan relation has received serious attention of the scholars in recent years though the theory was put forward as early as 1920s. With the renewed interest in India’s past, a number of works both by Indian and foreign scholars have been published on the subject. Where as a specific group about the idea going to the extent of calling it a fundamentalist attempt, the more scientifically inclined scholars around the world have taken up the issue seriously and are gradually veering around to the view that the Harappan civilization is a continuity of the Vedic culture.

The present anthology of articles on the Vedic-Harappan Relationship is a result of an in-depth study by some of the senior most scholars of the discipline who debated the issue at length in the international seminar organised by the Panjab University, Chandigarh. It encompasses views presented on scientific lines and studies from various angles – archaeology, art, ethnology, geography, geology, history, literature, linguistics and other related aspects. The latest researches contained in the volume are sure to make a valuable contribution to the discipline and a rich food for thought to the student and scholars of the subject.

Prof. Ashvini Agrawal, presently Dean, Faculty of Arts and Professor of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Panjab University, Chandigarh is a well known Indologist. He has distinguished himself as a meticulous researcher in various branches of the discipline. He has to his credit about one hundred research papers and book reviews published in reputed journals in India and abroad. Besides his magnum opus, The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Guptas, he has authored/edited several other books on various aspects of Indological studies such as Working Women in Ancient India, Buddhist Art and Thought, Sarupa Saurabham, Ratna Chandrika, etc. He is the founder Editor of the Research Bulletin of the VVRI. A life-member of several academic bodies besides being on the executive boards of some of them, he has participated in and chaired numerous seminars and conferences. He has been invited to deliver special lectures by several institutions in India and aboard and is a recipient of many fellowships and awards.

The search for a relationship between the Vedic and the Harappan Civilization may be called a comparatively recent phenomenon though the modern writing of the Indian history started way back in the eighteenth century with the advent of the Europeans in India. The question never arose prior to that time as the every concept of sanatana remained the bedrock of the entire Indian civilization, culture and thought. The origin of this great civilization was never questioned simply because no one ever thought of calling it a ‘borrowed culture’ or its progenitors as migrants from some foreign land. Neither in memory nor in the vast ocean of its literature such an idea ever existed. However, the initial quest of the Westerners to known the history and culture of their newly conquered subjects led to the realization of their rich past that in its turn led to a well-calculated imperialist policy to rewrite Indian history, ascribing its earliest inhabitants as migrants from the West–Europe, Russian Steppes, Central Asia and Whatever Other places they could think of, except India itself, and also fixed the date of their imaginary migration in the middle of the second millennium BCE, albeit arbitrarily.

The early 1920s brought to light he sprawling cities of Mohenjo-daro in Sind and Harappan in Punjab, through the archaeological excavations, that by most conservative estimates belonged to the third millennium BCE. With these discoveries arose the problems of the authorship of this civilization and it was surmised, without any evidence, that its authors were Dravidians, the so-called original inhabitants of India, who were defeated and pushed towards the South by the Aryan invaders. But the credit, for such an advanced urban civilization was not given to the Indians. John Marshall (1931), E. Mackay (1938), R. Mortimer Wheeler (1960), etc., attributed the urbanization in India to the Mesopotamian Civilization with terms like ‘ideas have wings’ that have been revived by scholars like M. Tosi (1993) with the terms like ‘Turanian Cultural Shock’. The attempts of scholars like Sri. Aurobindo, Lakshman Sarup and Madho Sarup Vats to relate the new discoveries with the Vedic Civilization were scoffed upon and the by their more vociferous Indian counterparts without ever caring to examine the evidence, old new, fresh.

However, a section of scholars including archaeologists, Sankritists and historians brought to fore fresh evidence, both archaeological and literary, through their laborious investigations thus discarding the old theory given by the imperialists and their followers. Notions like the Aryan migration into India, their conflict with the inhabitants of the Indus Valley, the Middle of the second millennium BCE as the date of composition of the Rigveda have been successfully challenged. At the same time the role of the Sarasvati River in the Vedic vis-avis Harappan Civilization, the change of the nomenclature from the ‘Indus Civilization’ to the ‘Sindhu-Sarasvati Civilization’ and the both being two phases of one and the same culture-the Vedic Civilization, have been proposed and highlighted. However, another section of Scholars still remains opposed to these views, though without any justification.

In order to provide a common platform to all the scholar desirous of sorting out the matter, a seminar was organized by the Panjab University. Dealing with a single theme, The Search for Vedic-Harappan Relationship, the papers contained amazingly varid data, approach and subject matter yet convincingly leading to a consensus that the geographical horizons of the two coincide, that their chronological horizons overlap and that the mosaics of their culture content have striking resemblance. It was felt that there is need to discard old view in the light of fresh evidence indicating the continuity of the Indian civilization from Rigvedic to the Harappan, the latter being the period of the Atharvaveda and the Brahmanas.

Prof. B.B. Lal, Former Director-General, Archaeological Survey if India, led the discussion by presenting keynote address, dwelt upon the topic from every possible angle-the date the Rigveda, the archaeological evidence of the Sindhu-Sarasvati (Harappan) Civilization, the authors of two, the role of the Sarasvati, the views of the earlier writers like Max Muller, concluding that ‘the often-touted objections against a Harappan-Vedic equation are groundless and there is enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that this equation is the most likely one’. He set the ball rolling by his remark-‘It is time to rethink’.

Prof. B.P. Sinha, who presided over the inaugural session, also questioned the theory of the so-called Aryan migration and the very nomenclature Aryan for a race on the basis of literary as well as archaeological evidence. He strongly advocated the affinity of the Vedic and the Harappan Civilization and pleaded for review of the entire evidence at our disposal in its totally.

The papers included in this volume represent almost every aspect the theme, the major thrust being on the affinity between the archaeological and the literary evidence. The role of the Sarasvati in the Vedic-Harappan Civilization with deep discussion on its identification, source and course, its place in the Vedic literature, Harappan sites on its ancient bed and their connotations, has draw the attention of several scholars. The Sarasvati which is eloquently praised in the Vedic literature as naditama, ambitama, and devitama, flowing from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea as a perennial river, had more than a thousand Harappan settlements along its course till it disappeared due to geological-tectonic-volcanic changes forcing the inhabitants on its banks to migrate elsewhere. Its region, called Brahmavatara, the most sacred land was not only home to the Vedic sages but it was here that Vedic-Harappan culture flourished from the beginning. The attempts to draw conclusions about the past on the basis of the present state of this great river are not only fallacious but also misleading.

The Aryan migration/invasion theory and the related questions like the date of the Rigveda vis-à-vis Harappan culture, the flow of ideas to or from the west, the date of the Mahabharata War and the astronomical data, the archaeoastronomy and the like have been fruitful discussed by an equally large number of scholars. Breaking the myth of the Aryan invasion/migration into the Saptashindhu land, it has been convincingly argued that the Rigveda must be dated prior to 3000 BCE and the Harappan culture reflects the age of the Atharvaveda and the Brahamanas. The Mahabharata War cannot be dated beyond the third millennium BCE and the literary and archaeological evidence point same direction without contradiction.

The relevance of the geographical reference in the Vedic literature, especially to the ocean, rivers and Some, their bearing on the present theme, significance and connotations have received due attention. Equally important are the articles correlation the material culture described in the Vedas and known from the remains of the Harappan cities, including art and architecture, town planning, pottery trade and commerce, navigation, etc., along with an interesting article on the affinity of art motifs in the Vedic and Harappan Culture makes the connection between the two crystal clear. The religious affinity as discussed with the example of the significance of the asvattha three motif on the Harappan seals and pottery and the parallel references in the Vedic literature point in the same direction. The relation of the Harappan seals and the Motifs thereon with the passages in the Upanishads and the Samhitas has also been dealt with. The presence of horse in the Harappan civilization that has been repeatedly questioned by the critics of the Vedic-Harappan relationship has also been convincingly established by more than one scholar.

The ethnic affinities, groups and relations, the connotation of the word Arya have not escaped the attention of the scholars contributing to this volume. The discussion on the need of a new paradigm for the Rigvedic-Harappan relationship in the light of ethnic relationships and groupings leads to the same directing in a new way. The meaning of the word Arya never denoted a race but was used for cultured, noble, educated elite and that such people cannot be called barbarians by any stretch of imagination have been clearly established.

Rethinking and reinterpreting the oldest line of argument based on philology, that at one time had become the hallmark of the Aryan Migration Theory, it has been shown that the Dravidian origin of the Harappan is a myth. It has been convincingly pointed out that the Vedic Sanskrit is one of the Indo-European group of language but its speakers have not descended from an Indo-European race. In fact there is no evidence tat such a race ever existed.

The archaeological evidence brought to fore by recent excavations at Kunal in the Fetechabad district Harappan, have brought to light the culture remains from pre-to mature Harappan period shedding important light on the antiquity of the Harappans in Brahmavarta and their affinity with the Vedic people. Through purely technical in nature, the paper serves as a base for further discussion on the topic clearly pointing to the Vedic-Harappan relationship.

The articles included in this Volume, based on deep research on scientific lines, help us clear a haze that was created around the earliest history of India, removing several wrong notions and clearing mental cobwebs. It was not possible to arrange them in any thematic order as the broad subject and approach of all the scholars has been the same as also their scholastics merit. Therefore, it was decided to put them in alphabetical order of the author’s names. This may not appear very scientific in itself but is an often-followed practice in such cases. Of course, the opinions expressed her remain open to discussion and debate but may a consensus of opinion emerge on the issue as prayed in the Rigveda.


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List of Contributorsxiii
1.Keynote Address – Search for Vedic-Harappan Relationship: New Perspective - B.B. Lal1
2.Two Harappan Motifs and Their Vedic Affinity - P.K. Agrawal10
3.The Rigvedic Sarasvati - O.P. Bharadwaj14
4.Geographical Reference: The Ocean and Soma - David Frawley29
5.Vedic-Harappan Sasnkriti : Dharmik Briksh Asvatya(In Hindi Article) - Ved Kumari Ghai51
6.The Sarasvati and the Homeland of Early Rigvedic Rishis: In the Light of Recent Scientific Researches - S.P. Gupta55
7.Vedic Vis-à-vis Harappan Culture : Some Thoughts - Devendra Handa75
8.The Mahabharata and the Sindhu-Sarasvati Tradition - Subhash Kak81
9.The Rigveda and Harappan - N. Kazanas92
10.kunal Excavations : New Light on the Origin of Harappan Civilization J.S. Khatri & M. Acharya104
11.The People of India and at the Dawn of Civilization in the Indian Subcontinent - Y. Krishan118
12.Were the Aryans Barbarians? - N.K. Ojha129
13.Connections Between the Harappan Seals and the Vedic Literature – N.S. Rajaram135
14.Arya our Anarya Bhed – Jatigat Ya Karmagat? : Ved our Vedic Sahitya ke Sandarbh Me (In Hindi Article) - Vasundhara Rehani142
15.The Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization and Vedic Co-relations - I.K. Sarma149
16.Need of a New Paradigm: ascertaining Rigvedic-Harappan Relationship - Shivaji Singh154