The Hindus

 

 

 

Hindu – Is it a religion? Is it a faith? Or is it a culture?  Who are the Hindus?  Where did they come priest kingfrom?  These are the questions that have vexed experts for generations. When Achaemenid Emperor Darius annexed the Indus Valley around 512 BCE, the Harappan civilisation was already history and the second urbanisation in the Gangetic plain was in its infancy.  The Vedic religion was undergoing a transformation.  Darius called the people of the Indus Valley, “Sindhus” or people of Sindhu River.  This was pronounced “Hindus” in Persian.  The Ionian Greek soldiers who accompanied the emperor integrated well with the local population and in Greek “Hindus” became “Indos” and thus the name India was born.

 

The earliest evidence of “Bhagavata cult” goes back to the days of Mahajanapadas with Vasudeva (Krishna) and Sankarshana (Balarama) making their appearance in archaeological residues of Vidisha.   A brick structure suggestive of a temple has been excavated in the archaeological site dating to second century BCE.  Within the temple there is an oval structure of an older construction, as yet undated.   An estimate of 8th century Bvidisha1_0001CE has been put forward by some historians.

 

 By this time, most of the Vedic gods were forgotten and some of the minor gods of the Vedas – Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma became prominent.   The primary deities of Rigveda – Indra, Varuna, Mithra and Agni were not given the same importance as during the Vedic times.  River Saraswathi, which is so prominent in the Vedas – ‘mighty Sarasvati flowing from the mountains to the sea’ –  becomes more of a mythological entity and a goddess of learning.  Drying up of the mighty Saraswathi during the late third millennium BCE into minor seasonal streams of Gaggar and Hakra might have something to do with it.

 

 Experts like Asko Parpola (Asko Parpola) and others have suggested that the Vedic Aryans came from the Pontic-Caspian steppes.  sintashta chariotThere is archaeological evidence of horse drawn carriages and fire altars in the Sintashta culture of the steppes.  The experts have by and large used the philological evidence to support their theory of Indo-aryan migration into the Northwest India and then to the Gangetic plains.  However, Chromosomal studies have shown a low concentration of genetic mix from the steppes in the Harappan and post-Harappan people.  In fact there IVC mapappears

to be a limited northward movement of the Harappan people (Sahoo et al). 

 

 The cities of the Harappan civilisation started to decline towards the beginning of the second millennium BCE and had given way to village based communities living on farming.   Drying up of Sarasvati, Drishadvati and Beas with the westward translocation of the Sutlej caused the desertification of Rajashtan, southern parts of Punjab and Haryana as well as Cholistan (in Pakistan).  The rate of desiccation accelerated when the monsoon moved eastwards during the late third and beginning of second millennium BCE. There seems to be a gradual movement of the people away from the Sarasvati valley during this period.  Major movement was towards the east into the Ganga-Yamuna doab, north towards Swat valley and beyond and south towards Kutch, over a period of thousand years.   

 

ancient India mapThe Harappan civilisation seems to have fragmented into Gandharan grave culture (north), Cemetery H, OCP culture (South), Painted Grey Ware (PGW)  (East) and Northern Polished Black ware (NBP)(East) cultures.  The population migrated mostly eastwards towards the rivers, Ganga and Yamuna and northwards along the river Indus. The second urbanisation started around 8th century BCE with cities such as Ujjaini, Kausambi, Rajgriha, and Varanasi sprouting up in the Ganga-Yamuna doab, and leading to the establishment of the sixteen Mahajanapadas by 6th century BCE.   Expansion of the mighty Mauryan empire under Chandragupta and Kautilya, saw the growth of Hinduism as we now of it today.

 

 While the Hebrew were busy writing the Old Testament in Babylon as prisoners of Nebuchadnezzar in early sixth century BCE, the Vedic corpus including all the four major Vedas and the Bramhanas and Aranyakas were finished articles. There has been an on going debate about dating of the Vedas.  Experts agree that Rigveda is essentially a Bronze Age document.  The scholars consider that it was probably composed over a period of 600 years starting from around 1500 BCE.  They also agree that the text was composed around the present day Punjab and Haryana belt.  However it is difficult to see how the massive and technically demanding Vedic corpus could have been composed during 1500 BCE to 900 BCE in a land with hardly any civilisation of note.  By that period most of the population had migrated further east into the Gangetic plains.  The Rig-Veda has river Sarasvati flowing from the mountains to the sea – it had dried up into small seasonal streams of Gaggar and Hakra by 1900 BCE.  Most of the large cities of the Harappan civilisation had either been abandoned or significantly reduced in size to small hamlets.  I would place Rigveda to around the late third millennium BCE to the middle of second.  Earliest mention of Iron as Shayma Ayas (black metal) occurs in Atharvana Veda.  Evidence of Iron smelting in the Gangetic plains goes back to around 1800 BCE (Tewari et al).  The inference would be that Atharvana Veda was probably composed around or after that period.  It is entirely probable that Rigveda was composed during the late third millennium BCE, the latter three Vedas and the other Vedic texts from around the middle of second millennium BCE to the middle of first millennium BCE.    rigveda

 

The texts of Bramhanas and Aranyakas talk about ‘priests’ and ‘gurukuls’ for the first time.  The name ‘Aranyaka’ suggests that they might have been composed in forests.  Archaeological evidence shows that there was general anarchy among the urban settlements during the beginning of second millennium BCE.  The fine art and seals of the Harappan urban centres disappear during this period.  In all probability, the literate deserted the anarchical cities and moved into forests and villages.  There is a definite change in the structure and content of these texts from the four Vedas.

 

 Manusmriti has been dated from between 1200 BCE to 200 BCE.  The final version that we now have kaurilyaprobably saw the light of day during the period of Buddha.  It is the first time the four ‘varnas’ – Bramhana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra – are described along with the rules.  With Emperor Chandragupta’s minister, Kautilya (Chanakya) coming out in support of the Manusmriti, the state of Varna became the law of the land.  Kautilya’s Arthashastra is dated around 5th century BCE.  The Varnas or castes were prescribed by Manusmriti, and became established during the Mahajanapadas.  Buddhism and Jainism grew out of frustration and as a reaction to the perceived inequality and injustice of the rigid Varna system.  Buddhism however did not take root until the conversion of Emperor Ashoka who was instrumental in spreading the word of Gautama Buddha across the Magadhan Empire and abroad in third century BCE.

 

 It was the eminent sages such as Ramanujacharya, Adi Shankara and Madhvacharya who rejuvenated the Hinduism and stopped from extinction.  In summary, the Vedic religion of third millennium BCE transformed into the religion of Hindus over a period of thousand years.  There was a significant transmigration between Harappan civilisation and the cultures of the Pontic-Caspian steppes of southern Russia (Yamnaya culture and Sintashta cultures) during the second millennium BCE.  This had a profound influence on the Vedic culture and its transformation into the present day Hinduism.

 

 References:

 

  1. A prehistory of Indian Y Chromosomes: Evaluating demic diffusing Scenarios.   Sanghamitra Sahoo et al, PNAS, Jan 2006;vol 103. 9=843-848.
  2. Origins of Iron working in India: New evidence from the central Ganga plains and eastern Vindhyas.   Archaeology on Line.  Rakesh Tewari,  Director, U.P. State Archaeological Department, Roshan-ud-daula Kothi,
    Kaisarbagh, Lucknow 226 001 (U.P.) India
  3. The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and Indus Valley Civilisation. Asko Parpola, Oxford University Press, 2015
  4. The Hindus : An alternative history.  Wendy Doniger,  Oxford University Press, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Battle of Ten Kings

The Battle of Ten Kings – Synopsis

harappa3-cover

War has burst the banks of the river Parushni and floods across the land. A confederacy of ten tyrannical kings threatens to drown the lives of millions in their greed. Great and sacred powers lie in the balance and with them hangs the fate of the entire world.

 

In the distant past, an arrogant king kneels defeated before a great sage – a magi of uncommon power – and is told to command that power himself he must abandon everything, even his crown.

 

In the present, a young prince is presented with his father’s crown and a sacred duty to protect his people, at all costs.

 

The heroic doctor Upaas from Harappa bids farewell to his good friend, Shushun of Elam, and travels homeward with his love Lopa, and his trusty friend Parthava, but is drawn into a mission of the utmost secrecy, which may change the fate of the entire kingdom.

 

The conquering King Sudas rules his country Bharata from the ‘centre of the world’ Ilaspada with the assistance of the peaceful Sage Vasishta and the proud Sage Vishvamitra, having waged a successful war of conquest on the neighbouring territories. Upaas is commanded to serve at the royal hospital there, forcing him to leave his home city Harappa with Lopa and his young child still a babe, to live in the centre of the greatest empire the has ever seen.

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Yet even at the height of its power, Sudas’ kingdom lies under threat from all sides, from apostate kings and barbarians that have banded together in competition with Sudas, defiantly wielding demonic powers and threatening the life of the king himself.

 

As Sudas moves to mobilise against forces that threaten Harappa, Sage Vishvamitra, the wielder of a power capable of defeating entire armies, abandons the kingdom prophesying doom and destruction. Upaas must learn to counter mystic powers, under the guidance of Vasishta, to protect all that he holds dear from annihilation. With Lopa and Parthava at Upaas’ side, he seeks the assistance of the mystical Ghandharis – custodians of the powerful Soma plant -, which is needed for the holy rituals of power.

 

Meanwhile the usurper kings gather their allies and plan for a war on a scale never before seen, not since the Avestans marched greedily on Harappa. Sudas rides against them, against the dark powers of the Dasyus and their merciless armies of raiders.

 

And the proud-orphaned prince, Cayamana, has grown to fill the heavy crown left for him. A prophesied saviour among his people he leads the confederacy against Sudas wielding the powers of Magi and threatens the capital, Ilaspada. When they see Vishvamitra behind Cayamana, the fears of Sudas and Vasishta seem to be confirmed, and nothing less than an act of God can save from the brutally superior forces arrayed against the city. The fate of the world lies in the balance as a tide of war threatens to engulf both Ilaspada and Upaas.

Buy your copy from Amazon here

 

Many thanks to young Chris Donkin for his hard work in creating this brief synopsis of the book.

Shankar

 

The Battle of Ten Kings – Dasharajnya – ? The Third Epic of Inida

Rigveda Book 7, Hymn 18

dasarajna5
The Battle of Ten Kings

This is Ralph Griffith’s translation of the Rigveda and describes the great war on river Parushni (present day Ravi)  and the battle on River Yamuna.  This is the Battle of Ten Kings.  The seventh book of Rigveda describes a historical event that took place in an empire – on the south-eastern front on the banks of Yamuna and on the western front on the banks of River Ravi.

Sudas, a descendant of the great emperor Bharata, whose name carries on today as the Hindu name of India, was a Pur King probably around 2700 BCE.  He expands his kingdom to reach the Oxus river in west crossing the Hindukush mountains and the river Yamuna in the east, conquering the surrounding kingdoms.  He and his Royal priests, Vasishta and Vishwamitra tell him that there was nothing worth conquering in the south.  This spared the Pandyan Kingdoms south of the Vindhyas.  He alienates all the surrounding Kingdoms by doing this.

sun-set-at-river-ravi-abid-khan-
River Ravi as it is today. Ancient Parushni, the site of the Battle of Ten Kings

There is a rift between the two great sages, Vasishta and Vishwamitra.  Vishwamitra walks out of Sudas’s court to join the ancestral enemy, Kavi Cayamana.  He is the grandson of the Emperor Abhyavartin Cayamana of the Anu dynasty and a contemporary of Sudas.  He grows up in obscurity and brought in to lead the Brghus in the city of Mundigak of Sistan.  He wants to regain the glory of his grandfather and the empire of Ariana.  The Kingdoms of Yadu, Druhyu, Turvasa, Balanas, Pakthas, Alinas, Panis, Matsyas and other smaller tribes join hands under the leadership of Kavi Cayamana.  A large army of over sixty thousand, with fast chariots, cavalry and elephants march on Sudas.

Sudas gets the message of the confederacy of ten kings marching on his empire s he is on the way back from the battle on the eastern front on the river Yamuna.  His depleted and tired army face the challenge under the guidance of sage Vasishta.  It becomes a battle of wits, magic and sorcery between the two great sages – Vasishta and Vishwamitra.  A shallow river allows the army of Sudas to cross.  A flash flood (?by the virtue of God Indra) blows away large portion of the confederate army.  Kavi Cayamana is killed on the river battling for what he believed in.  Sudas returns victorious to the capital, Ilaspada (centre of the world), as the man fighting for the right side.

dasarajna4
Ancient map of India showing the rivers of Saptha Sindhu

There are several moral issues as well as ethical issues in the story.  Sudas leads people of Bharata, who firmly beleive in the Aryan values of valour, forgiveness and righteousness.  Cayamana, although believed in his right to lead his country to glory, uses un-aryan comrades, who are mostly aryans, who have deviated from the path and those tribes who did not believe in the aryan values. These kingdoms later on go on to establish themselves as BMAC complex – Bactria Margiana Archeological Complex spread mainly around Afghanistan and Iran.

Indra
God Indra – the saviour of King Sudas and the Battle of Ten Kings

It is a battle of right over wrong.  If the battle had gone the other way, the other two epics of India – Ramayana and Mahabharata – might not have occurred.  Or if they did, it would have been vastly different.  It was a turning point in the pre-history of India and should rightly be considered the third epic.  It is the only Vedic epic, as the other two took place in the post-vedic period.  If the battle had gone the other way, we would most likely be following the Persian religion of Zoroastrianism!!

Read the details of the epic story – intricacies, planning, controversies, valour, deceit, sorcery and challenge in the upcoming book – Harappa3: The Battle of Ten Kings.  Being launched in India in October and in the UK in November.

The epic story is so powerful and paradigm shifting in nature that it should rightly be considered as the third epic of India

Watch this space for a date!!


Rigveda Book 7, Hymn 18.

1. ALL is with thee, O Indra, all the treasures which erst our fathers won who sang thy praises.
With thee are milch-kine good to milk, and horses: best winner thou of riches for the pious.
2 For like a King among his wives thou dwellest: with glories, as a Sage, surround and help us.
Make us, thy servants, strong for wealth, and honour our songs wirth kine and steeds and decoration.
3 Here these our holy hymns with joy and gladness in pious emulation have approached thee.
Hitherward come thy path that leads to riches: may we find shelter in thy favour, Indra.
4 Vasiṣṭha hath poured forth his prayers, desiring to milk thee like a cow in goodly pasture.
All these my people call thee Lord of cattle: may Indra. come unto the prayer we offer.
5 What though the floods spread widely, Indra made them shallow and easy for Sudās to traverse.
He, worthy of our praises, caused the Simyu, foe of our hymn, to curse the rivers’ fury.
6 Eager for spoil was Turvaśa Purodas, fain to win wealth, like fishes urged by hunger.
The Bhṛgus and the Druhyus quickly listened: friend rescued friend mid the two distant peoples.
7 Together came the Pakthas, the Bhalanas, the Alinas, the Sivas, the Visanins.
Yet to the Trtsus came the Ārya’s Comrade, through love of spoil and heroes’ war, to lead them.
8 Fools, in their folly fain to waste her waters, they parted inexhaustible Paruṣṇī.
Lord of the Earth, he with his might repressed them: still lay the herd and the affrighted herdsman.
9 As to their goal they sped to their destruetion: they sought Paruṣṇī; e’en the swift returned not.
Indra abandoned, to Sudās the manly, the swiftly flying foes, unmanly babblers.
10 They went like kine unherded from the pasture, each clinging to a friend as chance directed.
They who drive spotted steeds, sent down by Pṛśni, gave ear, the Warriors and the harnessed horses.
11 The King who scattered one-and-twenty people of both Vaikarna tribes through lust of glory-
As the skilled priest clips grass within the chamber, so hath the Hero Indra, wrought their downfall.
12 Thou, thunder-armed, o’erwhelmedst in the waters famed ancient Kavasa and then the Druhyu.
Others here claiming friendship to their friendship, devoted unto thee, in thee were joyful.
13 Indra at once with conquering might demolished all their strong places and their seven castles.
The goods of Anu’s son he gave to Trtsu. May we in sacrifice conquer scorned Pūru.
14 The Anavas and Druhyus, seeking booty, have slept, the sixty hundred, yea, six thousand,
And six-and-sixty heroes. For the pious were all these mighty exploits done by Indra.
15 These Trtsus under Indra’s careful guidance came speeding like loosed waters rushing downward.
The foemen, measuring exceeding closely, abandoned to Sudās all their provisions.
16 The hero’s side who drank the dressed oblation, Indra’s denier, far o’er earth he scattered.
Indra brought down the fierce destroyer’s fury. He gave them various roads, the path’s Controller.
17 E’en with the weak he wrought this matchless exploit: e’en with a goat he did to death a lion.
He pared the pillar’s angles with a needle. Thus to Sudās Indra gave all provisions.
18 To thee have all thine enemies submitted: e’en the fierce Bheda hast thou made thy subject.
Cast down thy sharpened thunderbolt, O Indra, on him who harms the men who sing thy praises.
19 Yamuna and the Trtsus aided Indra. There he stripped Bheda bare of all his treasures.
The Ajas and the Sigrus and the Yaksus brought in to him as tribute heads of horses.
20 Not to be scorned, but like Dawns past and recent, O Indra, are thy favours and thy riches.
Devaka, Mānyamana’s son, thou slewest, and smotest Śambara from the lofty mountain.
21 They who, from home, have gladdened thee, thy servants Parasara, Vasiṣṭha, Satayatu,
Will not forget thy friendship, liberal Giver. So shall the days dawn prosperous for the princes.
22 Priest-like, with praise, I move around the altar, earning Paijavana’s reward, O Agni,
Two hundred cows from Devavan’s descendant, two chariots from Sudās with mares to draw them.
23 Gift of Paijavana, four horses bear me in foremost place, trained steeds with pearl to deck them.
Sudās’s brown steeds, firmly-stepping, carry me and my son for progeny and glory.
24 Him whose fame spreads between wide earth and heaven, who, as dispenser, gives each chief his portion,
Seven flowing Rivers glorify like Indra. He slew Yudhyamadhi in close encounter.
25 Attend on him O ye heroic Maruts as on Sudās’s father Divodāsa.
Further Paijavana’s desire with favour. Guard faithfully his lasting firm dominion.


The original Sanskrit version of the Mandala 7, 18th Hymn:

तवे ह यत पितरश्चिन न इन्द्र विश्वा वामा जरितारो असन्वन |
तवे गावः सुदुघास्त्वे हयश्वास्त्वं वसु देवयतेवनिष्ठः ||
राजेव हि जनिभिः कषेष्येवाव दयुभिरभि विदुष कविः सन |
पिशा गिरो मघवन गोभिरश्वैस्त्वायतः शिशीहिराये अस्मान ||
इमा उ तवा पस्प्र्धानासो अत्र मन्द्रा गिरो देवयन्तीरुप सथुः |
अर्वाची ते पथ्या राय एतु सयाम ते सुमताविन्द्र शर्मन ||
धेनुं न तवा सूयवसे दुदुक्षन्नुप बरह्माणि सस्र्जे वसिष्ठः |
तवामिन मे गोपतिं विश्व आहा न इन्द्रः सुमतिं गन्त्वछ ||
अर्णांसि चित पप्रथाना सुदास इन्द्रो गाधान्यक्र्णोत सुपारा |
शर्धन्तं शिम्युमुचथस्य नव्यः शापं सिन्धूनामक्र्णोदशस्तीः ||
पुरोळा इत तुर्वशो यक्षुरासीद राये मत्स्यासो निशिता अपीव |
शरुष्टिं चक्रुर्भ्र्गवो दरुह्यवश्च सखा सखायमतरद विषूचोः ||
आ पक्थासो भलानसो भनन्तालिनासो विषाणिनः शिवासः |
आ यो.अनयत सधमा आर्यस्य गव्या तर्त्सुभ्यो अजगन युधा नर्न ||
दुराध्यो अदितिं सरेवयन्तो.अचेतसो वि जग्र्भ्रे परुष्णीम |
मह्नाविव्यक पर्थिवीं पत्यमानः पशुष कविरशयच्चायमानः ||
ईयुरर्थं न नयर्थं परुष्णीमाशुश्चनेदभिपित्वं जगाम |
सुदास इन्द्रः सुतुकानमित्रानरन्धयन मानुषे वध्रिवाचः ||
ईयुर्गावो न यवसादगोपा यथाक्र्तमभि मित्रं चितासः |
पर्श्निगावः पर्श्निनिप्रेषितासः शरुष्टिं चक्रुर्नियुतो रन्तयश्च ||
एकं च यो विंशतिं च शरवस्या वैकर्णयोर्जनान राजा नयस्तः |
दस्मो न सद्मन नि शिशाति बर्हिः शूरः सर्गमक्र्णोदिन्द्र एषाम ||
अध शरुतं कवषं वर्द्धमप्स्वनु दरुह्युं नि वर्णग वज्रबाहुः |
वर्णाना अत्र सख्याय सख्यं तवायन्तो ये अमदन्ननु तवा ||
वि सद्यो विश्वा दरंहितान्येषामिन्द्रः पुरः सहसा सप्त दर्दः |
वयानवस्य तर्त्सवे गयं भाग जेष्म पूरुं विदथे मर्ध्रवाचम ||
नि गव्यवो.अनवो दरुह्यवश्च षष्टिः शता सुषुपुः षट सहस्रा |
षष्टिर्वीरासो अधि षड दुवोयु विश्वेदिन्द्रस्य वीर्या कर्तानि ||
इन्द्रेणैते तर्त्सवो वेविषाणा आपो न सर्ष्टा अधवन्त नीचीः |
दुर्मित्रासः परकलविन मिमाना जहुर्विश्वानि भोजना सुदासे ||
अर्धं वीरस्य शर्तपामनिन्द्रं परा शर्धन्तं नुनुदे अभि कषाम |
इन्द्रो मन्युं मन्युम्यो मिमाय भेजे पथो वर्तनिम्पत्यमानः ||
आध्रेण चित तद वेकं चकार सिंह्यं चित पेत्वेना जघान |
अव सरक्तीर्वेश्याव्र्श्चदिन्द्रः परायछद विश्वा भोजना सुदासे ||
शश्वन्तो हि शत्रवो रारधुष टे भेदस्य चिच्छर्धतो विन्द रन्धिम |
मर्तानेन सतुवतो यः कर्णोति तिग्मं तस्मिन नि जहि वज्रमिन्द्र ||
आवदिन्द्रं यमुना तर्त्सवश्च परात्र भेदं सर्वतातामुषायत |
अजासश्च शिग्रवो यक्षवश्च बलिं शीर्षाणि जभ्रुरश्व्यानि ||
न त इन्द्र सुमतयो न रायः संचक्षे पूर्वा उषसो न नूत्नाः |
देवकं चिन मान्यमानं जघन्थाव तमना बर्हतः शम्बरं भेत ||
पर ये गर्हादममदुस्त्वाया पराशरः शतयातुर्वसिष्ठः |
न ते भोजस्य सख्यं मर्षन्ताधा सूरिभ्यः सुदिना वयुछान ||
दवे नप्तुर्देववतः शते गोर्द्वा रथा वधूमन्ता सुदासः |
अर्हन्नग्ने पैजवनस्य दानं होतेव सद्म पर्येमि रेभन ||
चत्वारो मा पैजवनस्य दानाः समद्दिष्टयः कर्शनिनो निरेके |
रज्रासो मा पर्थिविष्ठाः सुदासस्तोकं तोकाय शरवसे वहन्ति ||
यस्य शरवो रोदसी अन्तरुर्वी शीर्ष्णे-शीर्ष्णे विबभाजा विभक्ता |
सप्तेदिन्द्रं न सरवतो गर्णन्ति नि युध्यामधिमशिशादभीके ||
इमं नरो मरुतः सश्चतानु दिवोदासं न पितरं सुदासः |
अविष्टना पैजवनस्य केतं दूणाशं कषत्रमजरं दुवोयु ||

http://www.mysteryofindia.com/2015/01/battle-ten-kings.html

The Battle of Ten Kings

Sanskriti Online

The Fall of Shuruppak – the story behind the book.

The city of Shuruppak lies on the banks of one of the tributaries of Euphrates 35 miles south of the city of Nippur at the site of Tell Fara. This was probably found by Shuruppak around 3000 BCE. The city features in the Epic of Gilgamesh and come to a watery end probably around 2000 BCE. Shuruppakmap
Cuneiform texts speak of warfare between cities and particularly the attacks by the Gutians. The number of tablets found in this site has given the city somewhat of a university atmosphere. These tablets feature anything from classroom texts to business deals and itemisation of object including plants and animals. The Sumerian King list puts Shuruppak as the son of Ubara Tutu, “last king before the big deluge”. King Shuruppak is known for the Instructions of Shuruppak, which is probably the oldest surviving Mesopotamian literature. Here, Shuruppak gives instructions to his son. tablet house He emphasises to his son – let me speak a word to you: you should pay attention! Do not neglect my instructions! Do not transgress the words I speak! The instructions of an old man are precious; you should comply with them!
• You should not locate a field on a road
• You should not place your house next to a public square: there is always a crowd
• You should not loiter about where there is a quarrel;
• You should not steal anything
• You should not play around with a married young woman: the slander could be serious.
This is similar to the code of Hammurabi and Manu smriti and even the Ten Commandments in lot of respects. There are nearly 300 instructions found on cuneiform tablets at various levels of excavations. The earliest known tablet showing the instructions, dates back to 2500 BCE.
There are over a million cuneiform tablets discovered so far and with 130,000 tablets, British Museum leads the field. Not all of the tablets have been deciphered. Emperor Darius decides to immortalise his work on stone gets his exploits carved on the sides of the Mount Behistun in three languages. Behistun inscriptions in Persia written during the Emperor Darius’s reign had three languages – Elamite, Persian and Babylonian. This lead Henry Rawlinson, a British Officer to decipher the first Cuneiform texts in 1835. Tablets dating back to the third millennium BCE are mainly in the Sumerian language changing gradually to cuneiform texts of the classic Akkadian towards the end of the second millennium BCE. ziusudra
Shuruppak is not known for massive fortifications or huge Ziggurats, but is known for one of the most charismatic characters of ancient times – Ziusudra or Utnapishtim. His name is immortalised in the flood tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh. There are over 50 flood stories across the globe in almost all the religions with a similar story’s content. Here, the Gods getting tired with looking after themselves, create a junior set of gods. But the these junior set of gods rebel at having to do all the work and the create humanity to serve them. Humans unexpectedly go forth, multiply, and become noisy. God Enlil is enraged by the noise and decides to end humanity with plagues of drought, which talk about the massive flood sent down by the angry god Enlil to end the noisy humanity. A more amicable God Enki comes to hear of this and he concocts a plan. He speaks to Ziusudra and tells him about the flood. He gives instructions to build a boat. As the flood comes, Ziusudra takes his wife, some animals and seven sages on to the boat. When the flood recedes, they land in Shuruppak and thus inhabit the world. Enki is very impressed by this and grants him immortality and sends him to live in a place “at the end of the world” in the middle of “deep dark waters” – the Apsu – so that he may not be accessible to mortals. Ziusudra turns out to be the son of Shuruppak according to the Sumerian king list. Enki
Gilgamesh is the king or Lugal of Uruk, probably the largest city after Kish during that period in pre-history. He is considered to be, two thirds God and one third human. This makes him invincible and becomes extremely arrogant. Gilgamesh-King Many despise his rule. He is portrayed as a sort of a womanizer and would take any bride on the first night. The Gods hear of this and they send beautiful Shamash and the jungle man, Enkidu. The powerful jungle man is brought up by the wild animals of the jungle and grows up without any human contact until he meets Shamash and falls in love with her. When he hears of the outrage being ravaged by the king Gilgamesh, he attacks the King. The ensuing battle is bitter and long. Gilgamesh is impressed by the jungle man and befriends him. They become very close friends. Gilgamesh hears of the demon in the cedar forest, Humbaba. The legend was that the demon was the most powerful in the world. Gilgamesh could not stand someone else being called more powerful than himself. He asks for Enkidu’s help to go to the cedar forest and destroy the demon against the advice of his courtiers. They enter the forest and challenge the demon. In the ensuing fight, Enkidu is mortally wounded. humbaba fight Gilgamesh brings him back to the city of Uruk along with the head of the demon. The royal physicians and all the Magi in the land try to save Enkidu in vain. Only a Meluhhan sage can save his friend. There are no Meluhhan sages in all of Sumeria.Gilgamesh_Enkidu
vasishtaIn the meantime, Sage Vasishta is on his way to the thousand-pillared temple of Varuna in Susa, the capital of Elam at the invitation of Elamite prince Shushun. snow-capped-mountainsHe lives on the Mount Arbuda (present day Mount Abu) in Bharata. Vasishta’s ashram is destroyed in a massive earthquake, which flattens the top of the mountains and barely escape death by the skin of their teeth. He is travelling with the hero of Harappa, physician Upaas and the prince of Elaam, Shushun. Their ships get into trouble during a heavy ocean storm and two of the three ships are destroyed. The Meluhhan immigrants in Lagash rescue Upaas’s party while the sage’s ship sails into Susa through the river Karun. They meet the translator, Shu-Ilishu in Lagash. Gilgamesh asks Upaas and his friends to help Enkidu.
However, no one can save his friend and Enkidu breathes his last to the extreme lamentations of Gilgamesh. He is heartbroken and talks of killing himself. He asks why he could not save his friend if he was so powerful. Why is the human life so fragile? Why did his power not help his friend? How is the old sage Ziusudra can get immortality?gilgamesh-deluge
The story revolves around the epic of Gilgamesh and the trading links between Harappan and Mesopotamian civilisations. trading mapExperts agree that the Harappan ships sailed up the gulf to Sumer during the height of the mature phase in 2600 to 2300 BCE with Dilmun (Bahrain) and Magan (Oman) as intermediary ports. Later, as the two civilisations started to decline, the intermediary ports of Magan and Dilmun became terminals. carnelianThe Harappans ships brought grains, copper, Silver, Gold, semi-precious stones such as Carnelian, Lapis Lazuli, Agate and took mainly woollen material and probably silver from Sumeria. There are references to a Magillu boat (typical Harappan boat) in Sumerian cuneiform tablets including the epic tablets. Later, during the Akkadian period, there is record of meluhhan boats docking in Mesopotamian ports. harappan boatSargon claims in one of the tablets that meluhhan ships docked in his port under his power! The cuneiform texts talk of King Gudea buying shiploads of Meluhhan wood to build the temple at Lagash. Several Harappans seals have been found in Mesopotamian sites as well as in Bahrain and Oman. Very few typical cylindrical seals of Mesopotamia have been found at some Harappan sites.
Gilgamesh is grateful to Upaas for helping his friend Enkidu during his last days and offers a reward. The friends want to meet the fames sage Ziusudra. That is a task no living being had done before. No one who had gone in search of the sage had returned alive. Gilgamesh decides that the sage may have the answers to his questions and make him immortal. He decides to go to the Apsu and meet the sage with Upaas. They meet fierce lions, demons and magical creatures on the way. The ferryman of Apsu takes them on his boat to meet the sage. The sage gives Gilgamesh a plant which can make him immortal. But he drops it into the Apsu on the return journey and loses it. apsu
The friends return to Shurppak which comes under attack by the barbaric Gutians and is burnt down. gutians Upaas helps the burn victims and as they finally leave the city, the water rises due to incessant rain and watch both the cities of Shuruppak and Uruk submerge under water. When they finally meet up with sage Vasishta in Susa, he says –
“….the most lasting achievements of a ruler are not buildings, walls or temples;
Since they can be swept away and turned into ruins and fields; and not power
Since the gods control all destiny,
But knowledge and humility …”

Black Holes AND Ancient Indians

shankarkashyap

Albert Einstein felt nature would not permit such things to exist despite his theory of general relativity allowed such a possibility.  It was unthinkable for him to have an enormous star; hundreds of times bigger than our sun could vanish from the universe.  An American journalist first named black holes in 1968 reporting on an American scientific meeting. 

ImageAmerican physicist, John Wheeler was the first one to describe an area of space which was “empty” and which “swallowed everything” including light.   Pierre-Simon Laplace and John Mitchell considered that such objects existed where the gravitational force was so great that light cannot escape in 18th Century, and were called “black stars” or “cold stars“.  In ancient Indian scripture, Mandokya Upanishad, probably composed around the second millennium BCE, talks about Vishwaruchi, which absorbs everything in the universe – Black Hole.  
Black holes were considered as scientific curiosities in the…

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The Stars and the Harappans

Experts tell us that we can see around 10,000 stars through naked eye.  Ancient civilisations looked up at the stars and thought they were Gods or God’s representatives.  Almost all the ancient civilisations studied the stars and linked the movements of the stars to what happened here on earth.  Mesopotamians and the Egyptians not only recorded the positions of the stars, but also used the stars to design their massive temples and pyramids.   The great Pyramids of Giza are related to the position of the Orion constellation.  Mesopotamians built their Ziggurats in line with the stars.  Mayan Indians designed their temples and pyramids based on the positions of the stars.

Harappans of Indus/Saraswathi valley civilisation were no different.  Middle of the third millennium BCE was the golden era of the Harappan Civilization.  It stretched from the Hindu Kush Mountains in the west, to the Ganges-Yamuna doab in the east, Himalayas in the north and the Arabian Ocean in the south.  The area was over a million square miles and the biggest empire of the time, bigger than Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilisations put together.

The Indus Valley civilisation was at the peak of development in the middle of the third millennium BCE with several large urban centres such as Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kalibangan, Dholavira and Rupar.   The excavations show uniform developments across the area, suggesting area wide communications, exchange of ideas and resources across the vast land.  The Harappan seals have been discovered as far away as Mesopotamia and Egypt in the west and in places at the southern tip of Indian subcontinent, suggesting travel and communications over vast distances.  This vast civilisation appears to have disappeared around 1900 BCE.  There are several theories for their demise.

The composers of the great Vedic scriptures of India have been a mystery so far.  There had not been any conclusive proof as to who composed the scriptures or when they were composed.  Again, there have been many theories and hypotheses.  Generally accepted theory has been that it was composed by invading Aryans from the steppes of Urals around 1600 BCE.  This date has been arrived at using literary and philological evidence in the books themselves as well as some astronomical evidence.  However, it is becoming clear now that The Vedas and Bramhanas, as well as the Aranyakas, have numerous references to the stars and celestial events such as solar eclipse and lunar eclipse.  Use of powerful Load Star Pro software has given the experts a tool to assess the dates of ancient astronomical events accurately.

Though it is considered, that the Star system to be inherently stationary with reference to Solar system, there is an earth wobble occurring at the rate of 26000 years per revolution which makes the star system appear to move slowly with reference to Sun. This has been called Earth’s Precession and was first identified nearly 2000 years ago by Ptolemy and Hipparchus.

  

The two diagrams above would explain the position of the sun rise at different points in time, in history as well as in the future in relation to the celestial objects.  Yet another way of explaining the position of the sun in relation to stars is by looking at the star formations just before sunrise at either spring or autumnal equinox.

The diagrams below illustrate the point – position of the sun in relation to Pisces at 2005 AD, 500 AD and 100 BCE. (Courtesy of Roy Taylor)

 Indian astronomers have used Sanskrit names for the stars – The Pleiades (Krittika), Regulus (Maghaa), Leonis (Phalguni), Mesha (Aries), Vrishabha (Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Karkataka (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Tula (Libra), Vrishchika (Scorpio), Dhanu (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Meena (Pisces).

Sage Gargya’s Sooktha tells us that, on spring Equinox day Sun was at Krittika (the Pleiades).  The powerful software, Load Star Pro, would place the position of Sun at the Pleiades on March 21, 2400 BC.  Sage Gargya refers to Solstice (Ayana) occurring in star Regulus (Maghaa) during his time.    Load Star Pro shows us that on 21, June, 2400 BCE, the Sun was at Star Regulus (Maghaa).

The chronology of Indian history and literature prior to the Middle Ages is notoriously uncertain, and attempts to employ archaeoastronomy go back to William Jones who tried to show, based on information gathered from Varaha Mihira, that Parashara Sage lived at 1181 BCE.  Jacobi has argued that in the Rigveda and Atharvaveda the sun was in Phalguni (star Leonis), and in the Sankhayana and Gobhila Grhyasutra (both parts of Bramhanas), the Full moon was in Bhadrapada (Andromeda galaxy) during the summer solstice, which would have occurred at 4500-2500 BCE.  The Shatapatha Brahmana mentions that the Krttikas (the Pleiades) “do not swerve from the east”.   This would have been the case with precision at 2950 BCE

All the cities of Indus Valley Civilisation show an extremely high standard of engineering and mathematical skills not seen in any other contemporary civilisation elsewhere in the world.  For example, all the high streets of the large cities such as Harappa and Mohenjodaro were set in major cardinal axes.  For such an achievement, a sound knowledge of astronomy and mathematics along with engineering skill was essential.  Mathematical texts “written” by eminent sages such a Baudhayana, Apastambha, Manava and Katyana have been placed between 800 BCE and 200 BCE.  The dating again is based purely on linguistic evidence comparing with other contemporary texts.  Apasthambha described both Pythogarean theorem and Pythogarean triples dating at least 200 years before Pythogaras.

Rig Veda is the oldest of four Vedas – other three being Sama, Yajur and Atharvana.  It is organised into ten books or ‘Mandalas’ and consists of 1028 hymns.  Numbering of the books is rather arbitrary and again based on linguistics.  For example, the first book of the Rigveda in considered much younger than the second.  The language of the Vedas was considered archaic’ as long ago as the time of the great grammarian, Panini, who has been dated to have been around the sixth century BCE.  David Frawley suggests that the positioning of the vernal equinox in the Vedic scriptures suggest that the authors were from 6000 BCE.

I believe that the stars are giving us enough evidence to show that the Vedic scriptures – the four Vedas, Bramhanas and Aranyakas were written by the Harappans during the third millennium BCE

Hello world!

This is the Blog about the coming series of books based on Indus Valley Civilisation during the third millenium BCE!  The hero is a trainee physician from Harappa who befriends Shushun from Susa and a freespirited warrior, Parthava.  The three of them are involved in adventures in the fabled country of Bharata (also called Meluhha by the Sumerians) as well as in Sumer and Elam.

I have signed a publishing contract with Palimpsest Publishing House, New Delhi.  The first book of the series, Harappa:The Lure of Soma is with the editor, as we speak and should be ready for release soon.  Expected date of launch is scheduled for September/October 2013.  The second book of the series Harappa 2: The fall of Shuruppak will be released by the end of this year followed by the third book of the series – Harppa 3:The battle of ten kings in 2014.  A prelude to the series is being prepared and released at a later date.

A Non-fiction project title “India across the millennnia” is underway.  This is a definitive exposure of the Indian sub-continent from the ante-diluvian times to 21st century AD.  It is backed by extensive research into modern archaeological findings and literature.  It will have the latest information about the ancestry of the sub-continent and its progress.

The author has extensive knowledge of the major civilisations during the third millenium BCE – including the Indus/Saraswathi Valley, Sumerian/Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilisations.