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History of Rigvedic river Saraswati

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One of the chief Rigvedic Rivers, as per the Hindu scripts and texts, Saraswati River is also famously known as Ghaggar-Hakra River.In the early Rigvedic ‘Nadistuti’ hymn Saraswati River is mentioned between the east of Yamuna and west of Sutlej . But later in the other Vedic scriptures like Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas as well as the Mahabharata it is mentioned  that the Saraswati River dried up in a desert. This river is a trans-boundary between the two neighbouring countries India and Pakistan . Also this river flows through both the nations together only in the monsoon.

In the area prior to the Ottu barrage, the Saraswati River is anciently known as the Ghaggar and where it crosses this barrage it becomes Hakra. The Ghaggar river acts as a tans-boundary river to India in the monsoon weather whereas the Hakra, which is an extension of Ghaggar in India becomes the dehydrated canal in Pakistan. The Ghaggar originates from the Shivalik Mountains of the Himachal Pradesh and runs through the states of Punjab,Haryana and even flows through some parts of Rajasthan. Two irrigation channels are supplied by this river in Rajasthan.

The dehydration of this river is caused by detention of the tributaries by the Yamuna River and Indus River System . Also the cutting down of trees: Deforestation and overgrazing are the other reasons of the dehydration of the river later and the desiccation in most of its drainage basin. Though originally all these events took place much before than 1900 BCE, it is believed by some historians, researchers and environmentalists that all this might have taken place in the 1900 BCE itself.

It is believed that about some 10,000 years ago, during the liquefaction of the Ice Age glaciers in the Himalayan Mountain Ranges, the Ghaggar River was flowing in full strength, which can be understood by the broad palaeo-channel of this river. Also it is seen that it gradually joined the currently waterless canal of the Hakra River, which led to the river pouring into the Rann of Kutch.

In the year 1998 debates regarding the contemporary Tons River which was earlier the upper portion of the Saraswati River, had taken place. It is said that the Tons River was supplied by the glaciers in the Himalayas and formed the major upper part of the Saraswati River. This River features some of the stones of quartzite and metamorphous stones at is plateau, but the lower terraces of these basins do not seem to have such type of stones.

Also there have been surveys which show that this river has been a part of several important dynasties and also it is demonstrated that Bronze Age deposits coming from the Himalayan glaciers are not to be found beside the Ghaggar-Hakra. Hence it may be concluded as per these surveys that the Saraswati River did not originate from these towering mountains.

Reference:Maps of India

  • atul

    I live close to where the river flows by. It vanishes for most part of the year, except for about two months of monsoons. At its peak flow, its a really furious torrent, though obviously not as massive or deep as the major rivers. But still, the Paleo channel is vast and the flow very significant. Obviously, its a significant and ancient river. It rises in the lower Shiwalik range of Himachal Pradesh, and although the range isn’t very high, nobody has ever attempted to trek to its origin. Which is indeed a pity. For decades the fury of this monsoon fed river has caused havoc among the plains of adjoining Punjab and Haryana. In 2009, Haryana constructed a dam on the Kaushalya river, which is a major tributary of the Ghaggar in Panchkula distt adjoining Himachal. The dam has created a large lake. Though the various departments have created a bit of a mess regarding using the dams water, the dam itself has gone some way in controlling floods in downstream areas. A very astonishing and unexplained feature of the river is that for a large part of its peak flow, the waters are absolutely crystal clear. Then for the remaining part, the water becomes muddy. Whenever I visit the river side, I only think of one thing, This has to be a massive source of crystal clear water which could be used for many purposes if stored. But Haryana and Punjab governments have been very disappointing with their approach. Hope things improve soon.

  • atul

    I live close to where the river flows by. It vanishes for most part of the year, except for about two months of monsoons. At its peak flow, its a really furious torrent, though obviously not as massive or deep as the major rivers. But still, the Paleo channel is vast and the flow very significant. Obviously, its a significant and ancient river. It rises in the lower Shiwalik range of Himachal Pradesh, and although the range isn’t very high, nobody has ever attempted to trek to its origin. Which is indeed a pity. For decades the fury of this monsoon fed river has caused havoc among the plains of adjoining Punjab and Haryana. In 2009, Haryana constructed a dam on the Kaushalya river, which is a major tributary of the Ghaggar in Panchkula distt adjoining Himachal. The dam has created a large lake. Though the various departments have created a bit of a mess regarding using the dams water, the dam itself has gone some way in controlling floods in downstream areas. A very astonishing and unexplained feature of the river is that for a large part of its peak flow, the waters are absolutely crystal clear. Then for the remaining part, the water becomes muddy. Whenever I visit the river side, I only think of one thing, This has to be a massive source of crystal clear water which could be used for many purposes if stored. But Haryana and Punjab governments have been very disappointing with their approach. Hope things improve soon.

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Exploring the Faces of Faith and Devotion: 7 Principal Gods and Goddesses of Hinduism

Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creater, sustainer and destroyer of the world

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Are you familiar with the various gods and goddesses of Hinduism? Pixabay

New Delhi, October 9, 2017 : Devout Hindus have a god for every occasion and every day – over 33 million, according to popular beliefs. While people of other religions often interpret them as fictional characters, the multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are held with utmost devotion and sincerity by the believers.

Ours is a polytheistic religion – in other words, a myriad of gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Foremost among the several gods and goddesses of Hinduism are the Trimurti; Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, the holy triad that signify supreme divinity in Hinduism – the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the world. These divine forces are known to appear in different avatars, embodied by different gods and goddesses.

In Hinduism, Lord Brahma is the creator of the Universe and the first member of the holy trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh). However, he is not worshiped as Vishnu or Shiva with only one temple dedicated to him, the Pushkar temple of Rajasthan.

Here are some of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.

1. Vishnu

Vishnu is the second member of the holy Hindu triad, who sustains the entire world – Vishnu is believed to return to the earth during distressed times to restore the balance between good and evil.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Lord Vishnu. Wikimedia

Believed to have incarnated nine times, Vishnu symbolizes the principles of order, righteousness, and truth. His associate is Lakshmi, the goddess of family life and prosperity.

Vishnu is always depicted with a blue-colored human body with four hands, each of which carries four different objects – a conch, chakra, lotus flower and mace. The god is shown to ride the Garuda, an eagle.

So far, Vishnu has appeared on earth in various incarnations. These include fish, turtle, boar, Narsimha (half lion, half man), Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow), Parsuram, Ram, Krishna and Buddha. Devotees believe he will re-incarnate in a last avatar, popularly known as ‘Kalki’, close to the end of this world.

Hindus who worship Vishnu are primarily known as Vaishnava and regard him as the greatest god.

2. Shiva

One of the members of the holy Hindu trinity, Lord Shiva is as the god of destruction, so that the world may be recreated by Brahma. Thus, his destructive powers are perceived as regenerative: necessary to make renewal possible.

Known by different names like Mahadeva, Nataraja , Pashupati, Vishwanath and Bhole Nath, Shiva is known to have untamed enthusiasm, which drives him to extremes in conduct. It is his relationship with wife Parvati which established the balance. While other gods and goddesses are represented in glorious avatars, Shiva is dressed in plan animal skin and usually sits in a yogic aasana.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
God Shiva, Wikimedia

Shiva is often addressed as the Lord of Dance, with the rhythm of the dance believed to be symbolic of the balance in the universe, masterfully held by Shiva. His most significant dance form is the Tandav.

Hindus who worship Shiva as their primary god are known as Shaivites.


3. Lakshmi

One of the most popular goddesses of Hindu mythology, Lakshmi gets hers name from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshya’, meaning ambition or purpose. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity and purity and is the associate of Vishnu.

Lakshmi is believed to reside in places of hard work, and sincerity, However, the goddess leaves whenever an individual is overcome with greed or malice or when these qualities are not evident anymore. Hindus believe Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi. Hence, they worship the goddess of prosperity primarily during Diwali, which commemorated the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Gods and goddesses of hinduism
Goddess Lakshmi. Wikimedia

Lakshmi is widely represented as an enchanting woman with four arms, settled or standing on a lotus flower.

Devout Hindus worship Lakshmi at temples and inside homes alike, and believe worshipping her with utmost sincerity blesses an individual with success and fortune.


4. Ganesha

The pot bellied, elephant-headed god Ganesha, also known as Ganpati, Vinayak and Binayak, is the son of Shiva and Parvati. one of the most popular gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ganesha is revered as the remover of all obstacles, which is why his presence is first acknowledged before beginning any new work.

The lord of success and wealth, Ganesha is also the patron of knowledge and learning; devotees believe he wrote down parts of the Hindu epic Mahabharata with his broken tusk.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Ganesh Puja. Wikimedia

Ganesha is typically depicted as a pot-bellied, elephant-headed red colored god, with four arms and a broken tusk. This head is believed to characterize the atma or the soul and the body represents the maya or mankind’s earthly existence. The rats, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.

Lord Ganesha is shown riding mouse, which can gnaw their way through every hardship, are believed to symbolize Ganesha’s ability to destroy all obstacles.


5. Krishna

Believed to be the most popular and the most powerful avatar of Vishnu, Krishna is revered as the Supreme Being or the Purana Purushottam out of a list of several hundred gods and goddesses of Hinduism, by several devout Hindus. One of the most loved and mischievous gods, Krishna means ‘black’ and can be believed to denote mysteriousness.

In Hinduism, Krishna takes several different roles- that of a hero, leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and a friend and is believed to have lived on earth between 3200 – 3100 BC. His birth is widely celebrated on the midnight of Ashtami during the month of Shravan, and is called Janmashthami.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Picture of idols of Lord Krishna and Radha, decorated for Janmashtami. Wikimedia

Stories of Krishna’s birth, childhood and youth and widely read and circulated, with every mother wanting to have a child like him. His raas with Radha is also remembered widely.

Krishna is held with utmost reverence for his role as the charioteer of Arjuna, as explained in the Mahabharata. It was in the middle of this war that Krishna delivered his famous advice about ‘Nishkam Karma’ which propagated action without attachment, which formed the basis of the Bhagwat Gita.

Krishna is extremely fond of white butter and there are several stories about how he stole butter from gopis throughout his childhood. He is depicted as a dark and extremely handsome, usually depicted with a flute which he used for its seductive powers.


6. Ram

Maryada Purushottam Ram is the ideal avatar of Vishnu. An epitome of chivalry, virtues and ethical demeanor, Ram is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu who is believed to have taken birth to eradicate all evils from the world.

gods and goddesses of Hinduism
Ram Darbar. Wikimedia

Unlike all other gods and goddesses of Hinduism, Ram is believed to be a historical character, instead of an imaginary figure. The Hindu epic Ramayana is a retelling and celebration of Ram’s life – a tale of his fourteen years in exile with his wife and brother.

Ram’s birthday is celebrated as Ramnavmi, wherein devotees invoke him with religious chants to attain his blessings shield. The festival of lights, Diwali, which is one of the major festivals in Hinduism, is also observed to celebrate the return of Ram, Laksham and Sita back to Ayodhya after an exile of fourteen years.

Ram bears a dark complexion to show his resemblance to Vishnu and his other avatar Krishna, and is almost always depicted with a bow and arrow in his hands and a quiver on his back. Ram also wears a tilak on his forehead. Accompanying the statues of Ram are idols of his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and the celebrated monkey-god Hanuman, who together combine the Ram Darbar.

7. Saraswati

Daughter of Shiva and Durga, and the consort of Brahma, Saraswati is revered as the goddess of wisdom, learning, speech and music. She is the goddess of knowledge and arts. Devotees often worship the deity before commencing any educational work- books and stationary items are often revered as Saraswati is believed to reside in them.

Saraswati Vandana, religious chants dedicated to the goddess of music often begin and end all Vedic lessons. The goddess also plays songs of wisdom, affection and life on the veena, a string instrument.

gods and goddesses of hinduism
Sarswati, Wikimedia Commons

Saraswati is visually represented in pure white attire and rides a peacock, with a lotus in one hand and sacred scriptures in the other. She also has four hands that signify the four aspects of learning- mind, intellect, alertness, and ego.

Out of all the 33 million gods and goddesses of Hinduism, devout Hindus believe only Saraswati can grant them moksha- the ultimate emancipation of the soul.

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‘Saraswati’ : Indian Scientists Discover huge supercluster of Galaxies

An Indian scientist has successfully discovered a new supercluster of galaxies that he has named 'Saraswati'

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Saraswati
Earth is part of the Milky way galaxy. Wikimedia
  • A team of Indian astronomers has detected a huge supercluster of galaxy that they have named ‘Saraswati’
  • This newly discovered galaxy is said to be as big as 20 million billion suns
  • 4,000 million light years away from Earth, the Saraswati is Earth’s largest neighborhood structure

July 14, 2017: A huge supercluster of galaxies was discovered by astronomers from India. The galaxy, named ‘Saraswati’, is as big as 20 million billion suns.

The newly discovered galaxy is the largest known structure in the neighborhood of the universe. It is approximately 4,000 million light-years away from the Earth. It is more than 10 billion years old. The mass of the galaxy extends over 600 million light years.

The team members include Pratik Dabhade, a research fellow at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Shishir Sankhyayan, a student at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Joe Jacob, a student at Kerala’s Newman College and lastly Prakash Sarkar from National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur.

ALSO READAstronomers Spot Primitive ‘Little Cub’ Galaxy that may Shed Light on Early Universe

The team’s research has been published in the Astrophysical Journal which is a prestigious Journal of the American Astronomical Society.

The team analyzed the data from Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a large spectroscopic survey of different galaxies.

It is estimated that there are 10 million superclusters in the whole universe. The milky way galaxy, where our planet Earth lives, is the part Laniakea cluster.

– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Exclusive: An interview with Rohini Bakshi, Founder of Sanskrit Appreciation Hour

A tête-à-tête with Rohini Bakshi, Founder of Sanskrit Appreciation Hour- a twitter community of 11.1k members that is dedicated to the Sanskrit language

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SanskritAppreciationHour (Sanskrit Appreciation Hour) by Rohini Bakshi
Sanskrit Language.(Representational Image). Source: www.siddhaika.org

August 20, 2016: Google search ‘Rohini Bakshi’ and tweets pertaining to Sanskrit Appreciation Hour will fill up your page. You’d also find special requests for a particular script translation, questions regarding sessions and many compliments. By the time you figure out what’s making the ‘twitterati’ go frantic, you’ll realize you are in a pool of tweets with eager disciples of the Vedic language. And by the time you comprehend how big SAH really is, well I bet by then you’ll already know the meaning of वक्रतुण्डं नमस्कृत्य गुरून् ज्येष्ठान् भवत। If you are skeptic about the reach of Sanskrit in 140 characters, you aren’t alone. To satiate the ‘eternal curiosity of our spotless mind’, reporter Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram called up the founder of #SanskritAppreciationhour, Rohini Bakshi herself.

In a dimly lit room in the UK, she sits in front of her Surface Pro. We casually discuss Brexit and how everything is uncertain there but soon realize that with politics one could talk endlessly. Jumping onto the elephant in the room, we begin talking about the reason she started SAH and some of them were truly thought provoking in the true sense of the term.

Rohini Bakshi: If there’s a single prime mover behind Sanskrit Appreciation hour, it is the fact that for almost five or six years, I looked for a teacher to come home and teach me or a course that I could attend without giving up my job, but I couldn’t find one. Ironically, it’s only when I came to the UK that I had the opportunity to learn. Hence, to make sure that people didn’t suffer the way I suffered- I created SAH, an online hub for them to come learn. I call it suffering because if you really want to do something and you are not able to do it, it is suffering indeed.

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Rohini Bakshi
Rohini Bakshi. Image source: Twitter 

I listened intently to her tale realizing it was the teacher in her that spoke. Unsurprisingly, other than conducting #SAH sessions, she’s also a Sanskrit Teacher at Citylit London. She told me about her alternative life as a teacher.

Rohini Bakshi: Sanskrit urges me to call myself a learner more than a teacher because even till today there’s so much to learn and I believe in one lifetime it’s impossible to cover everything that Sanskrit can teach.

Type in ‘Citylit London Sanskrit sessions’ in Google and you’ll find students calling the 90-minute Sanskrit sessions with Rohini ‘a window into India’s past’. Moving back to her twitter community, the one founded in 2012 which is now close to a whopping 11.1k. These numbers don’t just include Indian inhabitants; they include people from Ukraine to the USA as well.

Rohini Bakshi (shakes her head): Let’s not divide the eclectic list on the basis of their nationality. With Indians, it’s the ‘bhakti’ part; the urge to know the meaning of the ‘shlokas’ they chanted as children. Everybody has the right to choose their own means to connect to their Gods.  I chose mine and just like me, there were Sanskrit enthusiasts out there who chose the same. Additionally, I found people who were also motivated to revive the language.

For the first few years, Rohini preferred to conduct the sessions herself as it was nothing but a labor of love for her. But for the community to thrive, the variety was a necessity. Today, experts are invited to conduct these sessions, but only the ones that check the list. She listed some criteria’s while talking about the credibility of these guest contributors.

Rohini Bakshi: Obviously, you have to know Sanskrit well, be able to justify your translations and answer any grammar questions thrown at you to be a moderator. Secondly, under no circumstances will politics be brought into the session. In my virtual classroom, if you may call it, I don’t want any ideologies to be mentioned or any religion to be insulted.

Spotlighting the apolitical bit, she mentioned an instance of a heated debate that crammed her twitter timeline.

Rohini Bakshi: A Muslim community member modestly questioned me about the mystery behind the two Sri’s in the name Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. As it was a Muslim’s involvement in Hindu spirituality, he was faced with accusations and criticism. Hence my blog ‘All about Sanskrit’, clearly mentions- ‘Your personal beliefs remain exactly that – personal.’

Lastly, after SAH reaching the apex of what anyone could imagine, there was an inevitable question I threw in regarding their aims. Are we here to reach a level where a teenager opens Twitter to check what’s ‘dude’ in Sanskrit instead of a shirtless Daniel Radcliffe picture?

Rohini Bakshi: It’s already happening and I have been getting queries regarding cool tattoos in Sanskrit more often than one could imagine. Like I said, it started fortuitously and took on a life of its own. We have already started various spin-offs. One of them being ‘Sandhanam’ which literally means ‘joining of’ and it speaks for itself; it’s a non-profit service that we provide which connects people anywhere in the world via Skype to traditionally trained tutors in India. If you speak Tamil then we have a Tamil speaking tutor for you. To correct the imbalance in the remuneration, the entirety of fee by the student goes to the tutor directly for his sheer hard work. Secondly, we’ve moved into a book. Yes, a book based on Sanskrit Appreciation Hours will be releasing this autumn; it will be an Independent reader. Hence, staying true to the DNA of our program, we are enabling people to learn Sanskrit, one way or the other.

She ends with the line-‘ Nobody owns Sanskrit, nobody is the boss of it and we are here to serve it in our way’. A statement we completely agree with. We wish her forthcoming campaigning efforts prove to be fruitful and the hashtag beckons all Sanskrit lovers around the world.

– Interviewed by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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