I have been fascinated by ancient history of India since I was taught about the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in school. The literature available at that time was scant and extremely difficult to obtain. Particularly to a school kid! Since then, work on excavations on the Indus Valley Civilization has gathered pace and it has changed our perception of Indian pre-history enormously. I still remember our teachers teaching us about the great Indus Valley Civilization and its destruction by the plundering Aryans from the steppes of Russia in 1500 BCE. Unfortunately, scholars are still propagating that story across the world.
As I grew up, I found it difficult to understand how a thriving and advanced civilization ended so suddenly beyond any trace. There were several inconsistencies in the story. These brigands were supposed to have ridden horse drawn chariots across mountain passes and valleys. The chariots, especially fast two wheeled chariots are suitable only in flat plains and not on mountains. Despite extensive search among archaeological literature available, I could not find any evidence put forward for mass destruction or conflagration associated with such a massacre in any of the ruins. No mass graves, no fire destroyed cities, no wanton destruction of any of the buildings. These Aryans are portrayed as barbaric and uncultured brutes, more interested in pillaging villages and stealing cattle than intellectual pursuits. Yet, they have been given the authorship of the enormous Vedic corpus. The Vedas are acknowledged as the biggest and most profound scriptures of the ancient world. The knowledge contained in the texts is so far advanced, that it is difficult comprehend that it originated in pre-history.
I remember sitting at home during poojas wondering what the priest was saying as he recited the hymns in front of deities. My questions as to what he was saying was usually met with – “It is from Rigveda”, “it is a hymn to propitiate the Gods” or “it will bring you whatever you want”. I am not too sure if the priest himself knew the exact meaning of the hymns he was reciting. I was curious to find out about these scriptures, which have been passed on for millennia by word of mouth.
There have been a raging debate about the authorship of the Vedas for several decades. Hindus believe that the Gods revealed the scriptures to the Rishis and in turn, they formatted the hymns of the four Vedas. Hence, the term “Shruthi” – “heard” has been given to these texts. They have been attributed to the Aryans of Russian origin, but composed in the land of Punjab by some scholars. Ancient Dravidians. They have been attributed to the people of Latvia, Hittites of present day Turkey, Avestans of present day Iran and Dravidians by various people backed up by philological and liturgical. The evidence put forward for these are rather tenuous and will not stand up to scrutiny. Even the timing of the composition has been controversial – dating from 6000 BCE to 900 BCE. It is generally accepted that these were composed over a period of 600 years from about 1500 BCE. Then again, the evidence for this is based on opinions of individuals and tenuous philological evidence.
Evidence is emerging to the possibility that the Vedas were composed by the very people who were said to have been destroyed by the invading Aryans – the Harappans. Rigveda has several events, giving the date and place of its composition. Seventh Mandala (seventh book) of Rigveda describes the sun to rise in Orion during vernal equinox. We know from the calculations, that this would be around 4000 BCE. That would mean either the event took place in 4000 BCE or the author was living in 4000 BCE. River Sarasvati is central to the Rigveda. Several hymns are dedicated to the river. Many events are described in relation to a mighty river and the biggest river of its time, which was flowing east of the present river Ravi (called Parushni). We now know that there was a massive river flowing from the Himalayas in the region of Manas Sarovar to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat through the deserts of Rajasthan. This river started to dry up around 1900 BCE and completely dried up around 1300 BCE, leaving two segments of seasonal rivers – Gaggar and Hakra of the present day. NASA satellite images have shown the presence of a wide river about 100 meters below the surface along what is considered the path of river Sarasvati. The river dried up due to numerous tectonic events and gradual moving of Northeast monsoon more eastwards during the second millennium BCE. Earliest recorded earthquake in this region is 2600 BCE (B B Lal). This puts the composition of the Vedas before 1900 BCE – maybe sometime during the third millennium BCE.
One of the arguments used by the Aryan Invasion Theorists is the use of Iron in the Vedas. The term ‘Ayas’ has been translated to Iron, moving the text to the Iron Age ie after 1500 BCE. Several Sanskrit scholars now interpret this to mean “metal” rather than “iron”. Hence, it could be any metal, including Copper and Bronze. The second argument put forward by the AIT theorists is the use of horses in the events described in the Rigveda and they claim that horses did not exist in India until the second millennium BCE. Archaeological evidence of true domesticated horse bones has emerged from the ruins of Dholavira, Mohenjodaro, in all layers in Surkotada, Kalibangan, and Rupar and even around Harappa dating back to 3000 BCE.
Several people now firmly believe that the Harappans were the composers of the Vedic scriptures and I am one of them. There is an enormous amount of literature available on the internet on Harappan civilization as well as the Vedas. It is difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff. I looked for books on the subjects. Again, there is an enormous amount of books out there on these subjects. They all into one of the three categories. Most obvious ones are written by scholarly historians – extremely dry and difficult to read and understand. Second, which is probably the most frequent – written by people with propaganda as the main object. Some of them bordering on being Hindu fundamentalists. The third category is the most interesting – books written with the common man in mind and almost story book form.
However, I did not find one that would keep our young people interested in the Indian prehistory and our scriptures. I came across books written about Egyptian, Greek and Roman history written in fictional form. These were very interesting to read and attractive to young people. This started my tryst with the Harappan series of books. These books will hopefully be of interest to young people and propagate our ancient culture. This might even make them read more about our cultural history of the past.