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India’s ‘Mythical’ Sarasvati River: Find out what the Research Reveals about the Lost River

Recent discoveries say that the Ghaggar-Hakra was not a glacially fed river but probably a monsoon-fed river like all the rivers of central and peninsular India.

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Sarasvati River. Image source: indiafacts.org
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  • Vedic Sanskrit and the first part of the Rig Veda are regarded to have originated along the banks of Saraswati in the 2nd millennium BCE
  • The new government launched efforts to trace the lost river as soon after coming to power in May 2014
  • The Ghaggar-Hakra was a much bigger river but it was well before the supposed arrival of the Indo-Aryans about 4,000 years ago

Praised by the Rig-Veda as ámbitame nádītame dévitame sárasvati, “best mother, best river, best goddess,” the great Saraswati river holds a very important place in the history of our land. Vedic Sanskrit and the first part of the Rig Veda are regarded to have originated along its banks in the 2nd millennium BCE . The Rig-Veda, and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts glorify this mighty river that flowed between Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west. The Mahabharata mentions that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert.

While many believe that the river is just a myth, there are those who believe in the existence of the Sarasvati. They say that the river is represented by the Ghaggar and its tributaries in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, and the Cholistan region in Pakistan. Some suggest that the Helmand river of southern Afghanistan corresponds to the Vedic Sarasvati .The truth about the Vedic Sarasvati is crucial in figuring out whether there was an Aryan invasion around 2000-1500 BCE, after the decline of the “native” Indus Valley Civilisation.

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The new government launched efforts to trace the lost river as soon after coming to power in May 2014. With millions spend, the dried-up palaeochannel of the Ghaggar is being explored and is being excavated. The recent discovery finds the river  in the Ghaggar-Hakra basin to be a monsoon-fed river like all the rivers of the central and peninsular region and not a glacial-fed river like the Indus, Ganga,  and their tributaries.

Anil Kumar Suri of Swarajya.com shares his viewpoint and understanding in light of the recent findings-

The Swarajya article discusses the recent findings of a team of geologists led by Peter Clift. Using a geochemical technique called uranium-lead (U-Pb) zircon dating, the team able to establish that the sediments from the various rivers – Indus, Beas, Sutlej, Hakra and Yamuna – could be distinguished from each other and that they were matched to that of the dry channels. They were also able to determine that no sediment from the Yamuna, Sutlej or Beas in the main channel of the Ghaggar that could be said to be less than 5,000 years old. All this implies that the Ghaggar-Hakra was a much bigger river but this would have been well before the supposed arrival of the Indo-Aryans around 4,000 years ago.

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The team discovered that the Ghaggar-Hakra was not a glacially fed river, unlike the Indus, Ganga and their tributaries, but probably a monsoon-fed river like all the rivers of central and peninsular India.

The shift in the cultivation pattern to adapt to the declining monsoon lead to the vanishing of the Sarasvati, suggests that the natives migrated to new lands and that there was no new population and no invasion

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    We should definitely make efforts to find out this river. According to Hindu mythology, the river is invisible.

  • AJ Krish

    There was no Aryan invasion as there is no way that the migrants from another land would know the landscape of Bharath from top to bottom and glorify them in an entirely new language. There is no reference of an invasion in the Rig Veda.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If you go to Allahabad, there is a holy place known as ‘triveni sangam’ this is where 3 rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati intersect at a point. The course of Ganga and Yamuna are quite distinct but Sarasvati is said to flow secretly.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    We should definitely make efforts to find out this river. According to Hindu mythology, the river is invisible.

  • AJ Krish

    There was no Aryan invasion as there is no way that the migrants from another land would know the landscape of Bharath from top to bottom and glorify them in an entirely new language. There is no reference of an invasion in the Rig Veda.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If you go to Allahabad, there is a holy place known as ‘triveni sangam’ this is where 3 rivers, the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati intersect at a point. The course of Ganga and Yamuna are quite distinct but Sarasvati is said to flow secretly.

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Nalanda University: 5 Lesser-Known Facts About The Ancient University

The great library of the Nalanda University was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth

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Nalanda University was the first International University. Wikimedia Commons
Nalanda University was the first International University. Wikimedia Commons

Nalanda University, an ancient university, was a completely residential university believed to have 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students. The Nalanda ruins reveal through their architectural components the holistic nature of knowledge that was sought and imparted at this University. It suggests a seamless co-existence between nature and man and between living and learning.

The profound knowledge of the Nalanda teachers attracted scholars from places as distant as China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.

ALSO READ: India’s lost pride on its way to revival – Nalanda

The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar. Wikimedia Commons
The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar. Wikimedia Commons

Here are some lesser-known facts about Nalanda University History: 

1. Nalanda University was an ancient university and also, the first International University. It was built under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th century AD and remained the best center for learning for over 800 years with around 10,000 students. In fact, 2,000 teachers came from all over the world such as Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia, and Turkey.

2. Nalanda University had the basic purpose of creating a place fit for meditation, for which it was founded by the Buddhist monks. Highly formalized Vedic learning methods helped inspire the creation of large teaching institutions such as Nalanda University, as well as Taxila and Vikramashila.

3. The great library of the Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth. The library was said to house hundreds and thousands of volumes of books. The library was attacked several times in past and then later restored by Harshavardhan, the Buddhist king. But the army led by Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed the complex, massacring all the Buddhist monks in the area.

4. The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar.

5. Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya attracts a huge number of tourists every year. It is well connected by road or rail. Rajgiri is the nearest train station. However, the frequency of trains is higher at Patna and Gaya. The best time to visit Nalanda is between October and March.