Tag Archives: Indus

Searching the elusive River Saraswati !!!!!

We have been taught in our school about Indus Valley civilization and how it was replaced by arrival of the people from west which have been called Aryans. That the Indus Valley civilization was spread between Indus  and Yamuna rivers. Excavation at many locations established many huge settlements like Harrapa in Pakistan side Punjab and Mohenjodaro in Sind district. But it is not the end. So many new sites have been established belonging to this civilization throughout North India beginning from plains of Punjab and Haryana to as far south as Dholavira in the Kutch coastal area of Gujarat.

This civilization thus was spread into the fertile flat plains served by many rivers like five rivers of Punjab, Indus River, Yamuna river and so many of their tributaries. These are perennial rivers with the origin in the glaciers of Himalayas. They bring about huge supply of water as well as rich alluvial soil. Thus the area is suitable for agriculture.

The civilization is said to highly advanced as is evident from the town and urban planning, sanitary system, baths, water harvesting and trade with many countries in the west. But even then it is said that these people did not develop any language or whatever symbols are there still have not being interpreted.

Then it is also said that one fine day this civilization disappeared. There are many theories like inundations due to changing course of the rivers which cannot happen short time. Another very strong reason is the invasion of these areas by fair colored people from the west. These are said to be pastoral people rearing cattle and riding chariots driven by horses. These were the people who are called Aryans and since they vanquished the native dark colored people who were pushed south wards or those remained were obliged to be inferior to their conquerors.

It is also said that the Vedas are their creation. How the pastoral people can create such profound literature? In these Vedas, another river figures prominently or rather dominates. It is river Saraswati. This river is said to have been responsible for the developments of the civilization along its banks. It is said to be flowing between Satluj and Yamuna and going all the way down towards Sind after merging with Ghaggar river and then Hakra river combined called Ghaggar-Hakra river system.

But many like Doctor R.C.Thakran, professor of history at university of Delhi  who has done research on the geological and soil aspects of areas along the Ghaggar river contest the existence of river as being responsible for giving rise to such a big civilization. It is too small a river with its catchment area in the lower Shivalik. Thus at the most , this must have been a season river. The variation in the moisture content of the soil in the dry beds decline sharply with the distance traveled indicating that flow was not large enough so as to saturate the subsoil equally all along. Sediments are identical to those of Shivalik hills in composition indicating the source in the Shivalik. Anyway the present reality is that river is not visible anywhere.

But government in Haryana is bent on its revival. Based on the scriptures, it will excavate the river said path to revive the past Aryan glory with which we North Indian identify ourselves. There are plans to pump the water from underground through tube wells into the excavated river.

According to the report the work is already begun. As reported in the times of India newspaper reproduced below.

As part of its attempt to revive Saraswati river, Haryana government on Tuesday initiated excavation work at Rolaheri village in Yamunanagar district.

Inaugurating the work, Haryana assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal said the project would once again take the culture and heritage of India to the golden period. Officials say that south Indian scholar Dr Ratnakar has shown interest in initiating the work on the project.”
Let us hope to be positive. But the conclusions based on the facts not the sentiments.


Harappa Culture

In the early part of 3rd millennium, three great civilizations developed nearly simultaneously on Nile, Euphrates & Indus rivers. We know a great deal about the first two because they have left us written records in the form of papyrus scrolls or long engravings on stones. People of Indus valley did not left hardly any written records except few inscriptions on the seals. So knowledge about Indus valley civilization is incomplete.

Archaeologists call this civilization Harappa culture after the modern name of the place in Punjab located on the left bank of river Ravi. Meohenjo Daro, the second city, is located in Sind on the right bank of Indus river. The culture was spread over 950 miles from North to South and includes large and small cities like Kalibanga in the valley of old Sarasvati river and many villages near Ropar on upper Sutlej up to Lothal in Gujarat. That this culture was same is proved from the use of bricks of same shape and size.

This was an truly Indian people civilization with no influence or migration from the Middle East. It was the continuation of early village culture. Each city had a well-fortified citadel. The uniformity in planning of streets, bricks and layout of the cities indicate a single centralized state rather than a number of free communities.

Karamnasa River

The rivers in India are considered very holy. People worship them because they sustain the lives by providing water for irrigation, bringing with them very fertile soil. Water which sustains the life on this planet. All the great civilizations had prospered along the banks of rivers. In the Indian subcontinent, Indus valley civilization prospered on the banks of the great river Indus. Living near the river had many advantages. Agriculture was carried out near the rivers. Nile provides the Egypt with its fertile land along its banks else rest of the Egypt is dry and unsuitable for agriculture. The Punjab which is called the granary of India owes its agriculture to the five rivers. Then greatest of  them all is Ganges which flows through the whole length of North  Indian plane. Millions of people inhabit the areas adjacent to this river. The river is benevolent and are considered very sacred.

In India, most of the holy places are located on the rivers. People take bath in them to wash away their bad deeds which have been committed by them consciously or deliberately. Huge congregations gather on the rivers holy places to thank the river which nurtures them.

But, there is one river which is accursed in Indian mythology. Its name is Karamnasa which means the destroyer of one’s good deeds. The river originates in Kaimur hills in Bihar. It is a tributary of Ganges which it meets near Chausa. According to the legend, Suryavanshi King Satyavrata ruled Ayodhya. He immersed himself in worship and wanted the Gods to help him rise directly to heavens. He approached Rishi Vashisht but he showed his reluctance after which he approached Rishi’s sons who also did not help. Then another Rishi Vishwamitra came forward with help and helped him to ascend to the heavens. But as he approached the heaven, Gods who were already angered, hurled him down on the earth. As he was descending down at terrific speed to crash, Rishi Vishwamitra interceded and put brakes on his descend but in the process, King got suspended in the mid air with his face downwards. Due to this conditions he is also called Trishanku. He hung over this river and the saliva from his mouth due to drooling fell into he river contaminating it. Thus the water is considered polluted and in the olden times brahmins did not even let a drop of water from it to touch their body. While crossing the river, they gave special instructions to the boatman not to splash any water on them.

The river ultimately mingles with Ganges which is capable to washing and purifying everything which comes into its contact.

Panjnad, Satnad & Triveni

Prayag in Allahabad is the place of confluence of Ganges , Yamuna & Saraswati rivers. The place is revered by Hindus and is one of the four places where a great fair called Kumbh Melais held which is attended by many hundred thousand pilgrims. It is said that holy dip in the confluence waters purifies a person washing all his sins. These are beliefs and metaphors because the sins and good deeds do not cling to the body like grime or clothes which even a good scrubbing and soap bath washes away. These are the things which depend upon individuals way of taking it. Most of the Indians are gullible and of herd mentality. This is evident from the blind faith they put into the so called innumerable holy men who take them for ride. Every other day we hear stories about their deeds of corruption, twisting of law, grabbing of lands, silent rapes committed by them in their Ashrams. Public memory being short, these events are easily forgotten. Second reason is that the followers don’t question or do the logical analysis of whatever is said, neither do they tolerate to hear anyone questioning these ideas.

Let us come back to the main subject after this detour. It is not impossible since we have not gone too far. So we are talking about the great river Ganges which is not only considered as a body of water but also a Goddess. She was brought to earth for the salvation of the land and sons of Bhagirath. Though not happy to condescend and come down to earth, she was nevertheless bound to obey the orders, she had to come down to earth. Seeing her fury, the Shiva: the savior of Gods and life, took all the impact of Ganges on his head and smothered her to become less aggressive and benevolent stream.

Even from the physical point of view, it sustains and nourishes almost all of  India in the North from West to East. It enriches the soil and makes it so fertile to grow crops in plenty. On reaching the end of its journey near Calcutta, where it splits into many parts and along with Brahmaputra, the only river with masculine name, which also reaches the final destination, it forms the world’s biggest and most fertile delta called Sundarbans.

Similarly, many great rivers flow into the plains of Punjab and Sind. They also originate in the Glaciers of Himalayas but flow towards Arabian sea. These are five rivers namely Jhelum, Ravi, Chenab, Beas and Sutlej. In fact the name Punjab is derived from two words namely Panj and Aab, meaning five and rivers respectively. So Punjab is the land of five rivers. These rivers are not so mighty as Ganges. These rivers also join successively to one another. One branch is formed by joining of Jhelum, Chenab & Sutlej and becomes Chenab, the other two acting as tributaries. Second branch is formed by merging of Beas into Sutlej. On proceeding south west, these two branches join at a place called Panjnad, which literally translates to five rivers. This confluence should have been as important from the religious point of view as the confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati at Allahabad. Why this has not happened, I don’t know. Although as we know the great civilization of Indus Valley flourished in Punjab and Sind areas mainly. In fact, Harappa and Moenjodaro were the most important centers of this civilization situated on the Indus river. But research has shown that it was spread all over Punjab, Sind and Gujarat up to Ganges in the Western Uttar Pradesh.

Flowing further south, Panjnad the joins another great river Indus and their confluence is called Satnad, the seven rivers.  Just before joining with Panjnad, Indus also receives water from another tributary called Afghan river. This place should have been even more importance. From here Arabian sea is waiting to receive this great river which forms Indus delta before falling into the sea.

Fresh water Dolphins

We will talk about 3 fresh water dolphins that are native to the Ganges, Indus and Irrawaddy rivers. They have adopted themselves to live in these rivers and scoop the food from the bottom of the shallow rivers.

First one is the Gangetic Dolphin, known scientifically as Platanista Gangetica Gangetica. As the name suggests it is found in river Ganga down to Sundarbans delta. But they are also found in Brahmaputra river. Locally they called Susu and has been declared national aquatic animal of India. The females are larger than the males and the size of these dolphins varies between 2.3 to 2.6 meters. The dorsal fin is like a ridge and very insignificant. These dolphins lack eyesight which will be of course of no use in the muddy waters of these rivers. That is why they are sometimes called blind dolphins.

They locate the shrimps and fish by echolocation. They are said to swim in tilted manner. This may be due to the fact that they may be using this technique to sense the bottom and locate themselves in the absence of eyesight which would have helped them to see the Snell’s window and orient themselves.

Second type of dolphins in this category are the cousins of Gangetic dolphins. They are called Indus dolphins and scientifically known as Platanista Gangetica minor. They differ from their cousins in the length of their tails which are smaller in size. They have long beak and poor eyesight. In fact they are subspecies of the Gangetic dolphins. They are found in the Indus river in Pakistan.

Third and last variety is found in Irrawaddy river of Myanmar. Known as Orcaella Brevirostris scientifically they are found in discontinuous water bodies in Bay of Bengal coast and estuaries. These have a rounded head with almost no beak. They are the relatives of Orca and due to very short beak are called Brevirostris. In the Irrawady river, they are said to herd the fish catch towards the fishing boats. In return the fishermen share some of the catch with them. They use very powerful jets of water to stun the fish. Sometimes they have been found to playing with stunned fish and discarded them after wards.

They are known by many names like Labai in Burmese and Khem and Khera in Oriya. In fact they it was given its name Irrawaddy  dolphin by Sir Richard Owen in 1866 based on a specimen found in 1852, in the harbour of Vizag on the east coast of India.