Vedic and Harappan are respectively literary and material facets of same civilization: B. B. Lal

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Photo Credit: http://www.hinduhistory.info

By Nithin Sridhar

The Aryan Question: Part 2

The Aryan question has been hanging for many decades without any conclusion, but with lot of controversies and politics being played around it.

The questions that have been repeatedly asked include: Who are the Aryans? Did Aryans invade or migrate into India or were they indigenous? Where is Aryan Homeland? Are Vedic Aryans different from Harappan Civilization? How old is Harappan civilization? Etc.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that it is multi-dimensional issue and requires investigation from diverse fields ranging from Archaeology and Linguistics to Genetics and Hydrology. Thus, the Aryan issue is mired in confusion and controversy.

In order to highlight few salient features of the Aryan issue and assess the current position regarding various questions regarding Aryan issue, NewsGram decided to interview various Indologists, academicians, and Independent scholars who have worked for decades on various aspects of this issue.

Photo Credit: www.dnaindia.com
B. B. Lal Photo Credit: www.dnaindia.com

For the first interview in this ‘Aryan Question’ series, NewsGram interviewed renowned archaeologist and former Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Brij Basi Lal, popularly known as B. B. Lal, to unfold the mystery of Aryan issue.

In the first installment of the interview, B. B. Lal explained the origin of the theory of Aryan invasion and migration, and how they are nothing more than a myth, which is neither supported by Archaeological evidence nor supported by other evidence like flora and fauna.

Here is the second installment of the interview, where he answers further questions about the Aryan issue.

Interview with B. B. Lal-2

Nithin Sridhar: If the Aryans were neither ‘Invaders’ nor ‘Immigrants’, were they ‘Indigenous’?

B.B. Lal: To answer this question, we must first settle the date of the Rigveda since the entire mess has been created by wrongly dating the Vedas to 1200 BCE.

In this context, the history of the River Sarasvati plays a very vital role. In the Rigveda, it has been referred to as a mighty river, originating in the Himalayas and flowing all the way down to the ocean (RV 7.95.2). But by the time of the Panchavimsha Brahmana (XXV.10.16) it had dried up.

Against this literary background, let us see what archaeology and other sciences have to say in the matter.

Along the bank of the Sarasvati (now called the Ghaggar) is located Kalibangan, a site of the Harappan Civilization. It had to be abandoned while it was still in a mature stage, owing to the drying up of the adjacent river. According to the radiocarbon dates, this abandonment took place around 2000.

Since, as already stated, during the Rigvedic times the Sarasvati was a mighty flowing river and it dried up around 2,000 BCE, the Rigveda has got to be earlier than 2000 BCE. How much earlier is anybody’s guess; but at least a 3rd millennium BCE horizon is indicated.

Further, Rigveda X.75.5-6 very clearly defines the area occupied by Rigvedic people, in the 3rd millennium BCE, as follows:

imam me Gaṅge Yamune Sarasvati Śutudri stotam sachatā Parus̩n̩yā / Asiknyā Marudvr̩idhe Vitastayā Ārjīkīye śr̩in̩uhya- Sus̩omayā // 5 //

Tr̩is̩tāmayā prathamam yātave sajūh̩.Susartvā Rasayā Śvetyā tyā / Tvam Sindho Kubhayā Gomatīm Krumum Mehatnvā saratham yābhir̄iyase // 6 //

Which means the area occupied by Rigvedic people was from the upper reaches of the Ganga-Yamuna on the east to the Indus and its western tributaries on the west.

Map showing correlation between Rigvedic area and Harappan Civilization during 3rd millennium BC. Photo Source: The Rigvedic People by B. B. Lal
Map showing a correlation between Rigvedic area and Harappan Civilization during 3rd millennium BC. Red lines- Rigvedic area. Black Dotted lines- Harappan Civilization. Photo Source: The Rigvedic People by B. B. Lal

Now, if a simple question is asked, viz. archaeologically, which culture occupied this very area during the Rigvedic times, i.e. in the 3rd millennium BCE, the inescapable answer shall have to be: ‘The Harappan Civilization’.

Thus, it is amply clear that the Harappan Civilization and the Vedas are but two faces of the same coin. Further, as already stated earlier, the Harappans were the sons of Indian soil. Hence, the Vedic people who themselves were the Harappans were indigenous.

NS: But, materially, many objections has been raised against the Vedic = Harappan equation. How do you reconcile them?

Lal: Yes, I am aware that against such a chronological-cum-spatial Vedic = Harappan equation, many objections have been raised. Notably, three important objections have been raised, namely:

(1) Whereas the Vedic people were nomads, the Harappans were urbanites; (2) The Vedic people knew the horse while the Harappans did not; and (3) The Vedic people used spoked wheels, but the Harappans had no knowledge of such wheels.

Let us take up the first question. The Vedic people were not nomads wandering from place to place, but had regular settlements, some of which were even fortified.   In RV 10.101.8 the prayer is: “stitch ye [oh gods] the coats of armour, wide and many; make metal forts secure from all assailants.” RV 7.15.14 runs as follows: “And, irresistible, be thou a mighty metal fort to us, with hundred walls for man’s defense.”

Even on the economic front, the Vedic people were highly advanced. Trade was carried on even on the seas. Says RV 9.33.6: “O Soma, pour thou forth four seas filled with a thousand-fold riches.” The ships had sometimes as many as ‘a hundred oars (sataritra)’.

Politically, the Vedic people had sabhas and samitis and even a hierarchy of rulers: Samrat, Rajan and Rajakas (RV 6.27.8 & 8.21.8). That these gradations were real and not imaginary is confirmed by the Satapatha Brahmana (V.1.1.12-13): “By offering Rajasuya he becomes Raja and by Vajapeya, Samrat; the office of Raja is lower and of Samrat, higher.”

In the face of the foregoing evidence, can we still call the Rigvedic people ‘Nomads’?

Now coming to the horse, in his Mohenjo-daro Report, Mackay states: “Perhaps the most interesting of the model animals is the one that I personally take to represent a horse.” Wheeler confirmed the above view of Mackay, adding that “a jawbone of a horse is also recorded from the same site.”

Now a lot of new material has come to light: from Lothal, Surkotada, Kalibangan, etc. Lothal has yielded a terracotta figure as well as the faunal remains of the horse.

Reporting on the faunal remains from Surkotada, the renowned international authority on horse-bones, Sandor Bokonyi of Hungary, emphasized: The occurrence of true horse (Equus Caballus L.) was evidenced by the enamel pattern of the upper and lower cheek and teeth and by the size and form of the incisors and phalanges (toe bones).

Terracotta wheel, Mature Harappan. Photo Credit: http://www.ifih.org
Terracotta wheel, Mature Harappan. Photo Credit: http://www.ifih.org

Now lastly, the spoked wheel. Though the hot and humid climate of India does not let wooden specimens survive, there are enough terracotta models of spoked wheels, e.g. from Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Banawali, etc.

Thus, all the objections against the Vedic=Harappan equation are baseless. The two are respectively the literary and material facets of the same civilization.

Also Read: No evidence for warfare or invasion; Aryan migration too is a myth: B B Lal

NS: Some proponents of the ‘Aryan Invasion’ or ‘Aryan Migration’ theory hold that the Harappans was a Dravidian-speaking people. What do you think of that?

Lal: According to the ‘Aryan Invasion’ thesis, the Invading Aryans drove away the supposed Dravidian-speaking Harappans to South India.

If there was any truth in it, one would find settlements of Harappan refugees in South India, but there is not even a single Harappan or even Harappa-related settlement in any of the Dravidian-speaking States, be it Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka or Kerala!

Further, it is seen that even when new people occupy a land, the names of at least some places and rivers given by earlier people do continue. For example, in USA names of rivers like Missouri and Mississippi or of places like Chicago and Massachusetts, given by earlier inhabitants, do continue even after the European occupation. But there is no Dravidian river/place-name in the entire area once occupied by the Harappans, viz. from the Indus to upper reaches of the Yamuna.

All told, therefore, there is no evidence whatsoever for holding that the Harappans was a Dravidian-speaking people.

NS: Some scholars have stated that Vedic Aryans migrated from India towards the West. Did some Vedic people really emigrate to the West?

Lal: The answer is in the affirmative and the evidence is as follows:

Inscribed clay tablets discovered at Bogazkoy in Turkey record a treaty between a Mitanni king named Matiwaza and a Hittite king, Suppilulima. It is dated to 1380 BCE. In it the two kings invoke, as witnesses, the Vedic gods Indra, Mitra, Nasatya and Varuna.

Commenting on this treaty, the renowned Indologist T. Burrow observes: “Aryans appear in Mitanni as the ruling dynasty, which means that they must have entered the country as conquerors.” ‘Conquerors from where?’ may not one ask? At that point of time (1380 BCE) there was no other country in the world except India where these gods were worshipped. Thus, the Aryans must have gone from India.

This emigration from India is duly confirmed by what is recorded in the Baudhayana Srautasutra.

Pranayuh pravavraja.Tasyaite Kuru-Panchalah Kasi-Videha ityetad Ayavam pravrajam Pratyan Amavasus * Tasyaite Gandharayas Parsvo Aratta ityetad Amavasavam.”

The verb used in the first part is pravavraja. Thus, as per rules of grammar, the unstated verb in the second part * should also be pravavraja’. The correct translation of the second part would, therefore, be: “Amavasu migrated westwards. His (people) are the Gandhari, Parsu and Aratta.”

Thus, the Baudhayana Srautasutra does in fact narrate the story of a section of the Vedic Aryans, namely the descendants of Amavasu, having migrated westwards, via Kandahar (Gandhara of the text) in Afghanistan to Persia (Parsu) and Ararat (Aratta) in Armenia. From there they went to Turkey, where the Bogazkoy tablets of the 14th century BCE, as already stated, refer to the Vedic gods Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Nasatyas.

Migration of Vedic People Westwards as mentioned in te Baudhayana Srautasutra. Photo Credits: The Rigvedic People by B. B. Lal
Migration of Vedic People Westwards as mentioned in te Baudhayana Srautasutra. Photo Credits: The Rigvedic People by B. B. Lal

Indeed, there is enough archaeological, epigraphic, and literary evidence from Iran, Iraq and Turkey, which duly establishes this westward migration of the Vedic people in the 2nd -3rd millennium BCE.

NS: There is a clear linguistic relationship between various languages in the Indo-European family. How is this explained if there was no invasion/migration of the Aryans into India?

Lal: No doubt similarity of language between any two areas does envisage a movement of some people from one to the other. But why must it be presumed that in the case under consideration, it must necessarily be from west to east? A movement of people from east to west would also lead to the same result? Isn’t it?

There is plenty of archaeological evidence that the Harappans, who were none other than the Vedic people (as I mentioned before), spread outside India into Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, and Iraq. In Afghanistan, there was a full-fledged settlement of the Harappans, at Shortughai. In Central Asia, sites like Namazga Tepe have yielded a great deal of Harappan material. At the southern end of the Persian Gulf, there was a colony of the Harappans in Oman. In Bahrain a seal bearing Harappan script and the Indian national bird, the peacock, stand as indisputable testimony to the presence of the Harappans in that island. In fact, king Sargon of Akkad hailed Harappan boats berthed in the quay of his capital. All these movements of the Harappans are assignable the 3rd millennium BCE.

In answer to the previous question, I had mentioned that there was an unquestionable presence of the Vedic people in the region now known as Turkey, in the second millennium BCE. From Turkey to Greece it is a stone-throw distance and from there Italy is just next door.

The entire foregoing evidence would squarely explain the similarity between Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin. For this, one need not conjure up an ‘Aryan Invasion’ of India!

NS: It has been held by some scholars that the Harappan Civilization became extinct, leaving no vestiges behind. How far is this true?

Lal: Because of various reasons, such as break up in external trade, drastic climatic changes, the drying up of the Sarasvati and so on, the Harappan urbanization had a major setback: cities gradually vanished, but villages continued. There was no extinction of the people who carried on their day-to-day life, though in a humble way than before. Thus, we find many of the Harappan traits in vogue even today.

For example, the application by married Hindu women of vermilion (sindūra) in the partition line of the hair on the head, the wearing of multiple bangles on the arms and of pāyala around the ankles; practice of yogic exercises; worshipping Lord Shiva, even in the form of liṅga-cum-yoni; performing rituals using fire-altars, using sacred symbols like the svastika; and so on. Indeed, be not surprised if I told you that the way you greet each other with namaste goes back to the Harappan times. Above all, even some of the folk tales, like those of ‘A Thirsty Crow’ or ‘The Cunning Fox’, which grandmothers narrate to the children while putting them to sleep originated in the Harappan times. Tradition dies hard!

(concluded)

More in the Series:

Interview with B. B. Lal-1-No evidence for warfare or invasion; Aryan migration too is a myth

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Sri Bhārata Māta Ashtottaram: 108 Sanskrit Mantras

Here are some mantras with detailed explanations for you to stay calm and maintain peace

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hare-krishna-mantras
Indians we are very blessed to receive the spiritual wisdom of the ancient seers (rishis) of India. Pixabay

By Dr. Devakinanda Pasupuleti

In today’s environment where the views of western academics, a bias compounded by one-sided western news reports on India by the so called mainstream media and post-colonial Indologists with new ways of misrepresenting Sanskrit texts and Sanatana Dharma in what they pass on to students. It is utmost important and urgent task laid up on us to bring clarity to our youth about true Indian culture, traditions, and qualities that are unique only to India.

As Indians, we are very blessed to receive the spiritual wisdom of the ancient seers (rishis) of India that shaped our values, customs, traditions and culture for millennia. With that nostalgia in my mind, as a tribute to our motherland and with great enthusiasm I have written the qualities unique only to India as an ashtottarm (108 names). In today’s “modern” world, where the positive values are too often replaced with materialism, intolerance, violence, extremism, and terrorism; these mantras will help you stay calm and centered in face of adversity, and in the “little” moments. We can all find beauty, peace, strength everywhere we look—if we remember to look for it.

mantras
The following mantra will help you stay calm and centered in face of adversity, and in the “little” moments.

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I have explained each mantra in detail and why Bharatamata deserves to be worshipped with that each mantra. I will publish one mantra at a time as a series over a period of time. If you, your family and children find these mantras very enlightening, my goal and aspiration will be accomplished.

Ashtottaram 1

1) OṀ BHĀRATABHŨMYAI NAMAH

ॐ भारतभूम्यै नमः

OM (AUM)-BHAA-RA-TA-BHOO-MYAI– NA-MA-HA

 (OṀ:  Praṇavanādam, name of God; Bhārata: Historical name of our country; Bhūmi: Land, country, Namah: Salutations)

 “Bharatah” in the Vedas,“Bhārata” in the Bhagavad Gīta- this familiar word has been around since ancient Vedic times. Our understanding is that the name – Bharata varṣha, came into usage because of the famous ruler Bharata. However, if we look into our history, we realize that there are different legends as to how the country got the name Bharata.

In the Vedas, the word Bharat means “ritual fire”. The phrase Bharat varamanatvāt bharatah means the Bearer and sustainer of fire and who gives pleasure. The eternal dharma in the creation is this fire -“Agni”.

“Bha”-means light, knowledge; and effulgence while, Rata-means curiosity, relish; and fond of. So Bharata means one who is fond of light and knowledge. That’s why, from ancient times, we offer prayers to the Sun God every morning- before dawn.

Jaḍa Bharata, a jnāni (the knower of the Absolute-the ‘Brahman’) and avadhūta (who was beyond worldly concerns) was the son of Rājaṛshi-VṛishabhaYogīswara. He ruled our land and according to the Bhāgavata Purāṇa, the country may have been named “Bharata Vaṛsha” and “Bharata Khanḍa” in his honour.

bhagavad gita mantras
The above picture shows Bhagavad Gīta in which Bharata is mentioned as “Bhārata”. Pixabay

Also Read: World Environment Day: 5 Plants to Purify Your Indoor Air Quality

It is widely believed that our land was called “Bharata” after Lord Shri Rāmachandra’s youngest brother, who ruled it for 14 years.

Last, but not the least is the story of Ḋushyanta and Śhakunṫala in the Mahābhārata, written by Veḋa Vyāsa. Their son Bharata, (also called Sarvaḋamana, and Ḋouhitra) ruled our country and brought prosperity and peace to the land.

Whatever may be the reasons, the country we proudly call ours is -“Bhārata Bhūmi”.

[ Disclaimer: The pictures used in the article are supplied by the author, NewsGram has no intention of infringing copyrights. ]

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How COVID-19 is Reshaping Education in India?

Learning has shifted to virtual mode during the pandemic

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e-learning Education
Education during the times of the pandemic is being delivered virtually. Pixabay

If there is one thing we have learned from the Coronavirus outbreak is that the future is unpredictable. In order to survive and thrive in the ever-changing world, we need to become more adaptive and innovative in every aspect of life. The wake of COVID-19 has coerced businesses, governments, education institutions and students, and almost every collective body to reinvent the ways they do things.

Schools and colleges were the first institutions that were locked down as soon as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in India. This had an adverse effect on education in India. Amongst the additional concerns of learning of students, the virtual mode of delivering education has come to aid. Many online learning and training platforms in India have come forward with discounted or free access to their trainings. This is so that the school and college students could still continue learning courses of their syllabus as well as other necessary skills while staying at their homes.

E-learning has become a preferred way of learning among Indian students over the past couple of years. Though, it is still an optional way of learning for the Indian learning population. However, the sudden and unfortunate COVID-19 outbreak has turned it into a necessary mode of learning. It is allowing students to keep up their learning whether it is for school exams, semester finals, or competitive exams for college admissions, and jobs. E-learning is letting them study at their own pace and thus making productive use of their time at home.

learning and education
E-learning has become a preferred way of learning and education among Indian students during the pandemic. Pixabay

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Many schools and universities across India are also turning to online modes to deliver classes and lectures to their students. With support from technology, parents, faculty, and students, these institutions are making sure that the education is not hampered. They are continuing the classes online by live broadcasting or recorded videos, sharing homework and assignments over emails, and even helping students with their doubts through video mode. This mode of teaching and learning is not only limited to basic subjects but classes like physical education, yoga, dance, photography, and many more are also being taught through the same.

To fight this pandemic, a lot of universities across the world like Stanford University are also contemplating and planning to conduct ‘take-home examinations’ (Source), that is, arranging the examinations such that the students could take them from their homes only. This hasn’t been implemented in India yet; however, with the rising number of cases across India, the institutions may need to plan a similar mode of teaching and evaluating the students.

And, not just examinations, with the uncertainty around how long this situation may persist, students especially college going students may even miss out on doing industrial trainings, finding internships, and placement opportunities. To tackle the same, universities could make students aware or also arrange online internships and job fairs wherein the students could apply for the opportunities online. The corporate industry is equally affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and is switching to offline mode of hiring at the moment and are open to work-from-home options until the situation persists.

studying education
Online Examinations or ‘take-home examinations’ are being conducted for students. Pixabay

The Indian education system has shifted to the online mode of education and all the stakeholders including educational institutions, teachers, students, and parents are welcoming it with open arms. Although this is so as to continue the teaching and learning until the pandemic situation lasts, the stakeholders are also learning and exploring new and efficient ways to continue the process of learning. This makes it highly probable that this mode of education would continue and there will be new such innovations in teaching methods even after the situation has improved.

Also Read: Can a Diabetes Patient Buy Health Insurance?

Someone has rightly said, “Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity”. This unfortunate outbreak has propelled our education system to reinvent the way education is delivered and received. These difficult times are teaching us to be resilient in the face of hardships. Education in India is being reshaped out of necessity. We could either succumb to the changes or choose to see this as an opportunity to learn as well as teach the students various new skills like agility, adaptability, creativity, problem-solving, forward-thinking, flexibility in learning and performing various other tasks.

About the author: Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internship and training platform (internshala.com)

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Showing Support to The Chanderi weavers Amid Lockdown

In tough times, it is difficult for weavers to sell their products, showcasing their work online can be immensely helpful

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Chanderi weavers
Lending support to Chanderi weavers in these times becomes immensely important. IANS

In tough times, it is difficult for weavers to sell their products and sustain their craft during these difficult times. Showcasing their work online can be immensely helpful. One needs understand that the lockdown has had a severe impact on artisans as it has severely affected their sales and production.

“With artisans and weavers having been hit badly because of the lockdown, Weaverstory a specialised online marketplace, has decided to give reasonable prices, so that customers can buy different products from across India and abroad too. This is helping the weavers sell their products to sustain during these difficult times. Every artisan or weaver is given a separate space to exhibit their products and this is the first time they are trying something like this,” said Nishant Malhotra co-founder of Weaverstory.

WeaverStory launched an “Authentic Chanderi Collection” which helps artisans to become self-reliant. Chanderi, from central India is one of the best-known handloom clusters, particularly famous for its sarees, made with a mix of silk and cotton.

weavers
India is one of the best-known handloom clusters, particularly famous for its sarees, made with a mix of silk and cotton. Pixabay

“Most of them sustain themselves only by selling their products and what is really important is to sell their products on time. Hence, this is the only way to sell whatever they have produced in the past two months. We ensure that the money goes to the artisan’s account within three working days and provide financial support to them during the lockdown,” Malhotra added.

The chanderi saree is a handwoven variety from the traditional weavers of Madhya Pradesh. Woven predominantly in cotton and silk yarn, the material has a subtle sheer surface. The assortment has in store the variety of sarees, dupattas, suits in vibrant colours, royal blues, and red and mustards.

Also Read: Yoga: A scared gift, with Love from Hinduism and India to the World

There have been changes in the methodologies, equipment and even the compositions of yarns over the years, but there is a heritage attached with the skill associated with high quality weaving and products. The weavers from this area a have even received appreciation and royal patronage. WeaverStory has been focussing predominantly on the weaves, reviving designs from museums and traditional forms, and working with weavers themselves. (IANS)