Spotlight on Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization

By Manzoor Chandio
Updated on June 29, 2008

IN ancient times a mighty river broadly parallel to that of Sindhu used to flow from the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. It was called Sarasvati.
In recent times Indian archaeologists traced the desiccated locus of the erstwhile river and came to the conclusion that Sarasvati was mightier river than Sindhu-the biggest in South Asia.
During the exploration, they discovered as many as 1,500 cities and towns buried along the river banks. They believed once upon a time these cities and towns had been occupied by hustle and bustle.
The Sarasvati delta was spread over 300 km facing Kutch, which then was an island. The 1,500-km-long river flowed about 300 km east of Sindhu.
The archaeological remains of a number of settlements, which has been faded so far, have revealed that they were bigger than those of flourished on the banks of Sindhu.
The research on the birth, life and demise of the Sarasvati river nullifies the primitive myths that the river fell into disappearance suddenly.
The scientific study, done with the help of satellite images, uncovered that the river lost its vitality gradually, a process spread over centuries.
One study says “the desiccation of River Sarasvati occurred over four centuries between ca. 3900 to 3500 BP, after the anchorage river, Sutlej, migrated towards the River Sindhu due to structural control by the Luni-Sukri lineament and Narmada-Son lineament. The tectonic zone is close to the border of the continental plates running parallel to the courses of Rivers Sindhu and Sarasvati".
In the first stage, the river and its tributaries went stray due to the shifting of tectonic plates, according to the study, which removes scores of ambiguities and misconceptions about the legendary river.
The diversion of the water initiated the desiccation process from its tail. In the second stage, tributaries of Sarasvati deserted it by migrating to eastward and westward.
This resulted into the paucity of water flow like the reduction of water quantities caused by the dams, upstream of Sindhu here.
The migration of rivers caused the plodding of water, which as a result appeared into desertification, and finally the river was reduced into a stream.
The ancient Hindu scriptures mention ‘aandhi’ (dust storm mentioned in Vedas), which was so powerful that finally buried the river forever.
The two major rivers that abandoned Sarasvati about 1,500 BC are Sutlej and Yamuna. Sutlej flowed westward and joined the Indus River system.
While Yamuna started to flow eastwards after capturing the upper waters of Sarasvati.
The diversion of the waters of Sutlej and Yamuna brought the river on deathbed.
As a result, Sarasvati riparians started migrating to other parts of the subcontinent, including Punjab, Sindh, UP and Bihar.
Many became ‘Khanabadosh’ (nomads) and there were some who compromised with the desert.
Though the Sarasvati is not present yet the great people of Rajasthan and Thar refuse to forget it.
Centuries after its demise they celebrate it and have preserved it in the folk memory.
The people of Rajasthan in India and Nara and Thar in Sindh still are reminiscent of Sarasvati.
They remember it as a mother and as a goddess.
The peacocks of Tharparkar are revered by Hindus as the ‘vehicles of Sarasvati’.
For Hindus it was the most sacrosanct river. There are “over 72 ‘Riks’ (hymns) dedicated to River Sarasvati” in Rig Veda [the oldest human document dealing with cosmological issues and compiled on the banks of River Sarasvati],” while only one ‘Rik’ mentions River Ganga”.
Other ancient scriptures i.e. Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata also mention the river.
The Mahabharata mentions it as “Mata” or mother as it fed million of people.
Sarasvati was closely related to Sindhu. It was born with Sindhu after the [end of the Pleistocene or Ice Age (10,000 B.C.)], flowed parallel to Sindhu and emptied into the Arabian Sea.
Sarasvati and Sindhu rivers were major lifelines of people.
Sindhu and Sarasvati helped to flourish one of the greatest civilizations of the world, the Sindhu-Sarasvati Civilization.
At that time inhabitants of this region were prosperous and rich. They set up great cities and indulged in trade and commerce with far away civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt.
The death of Sindhu’s sister, Sarasvati, resulted into the decline of Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization.
Now the question is if Sindhu would also undergo extinction from the face of earth?
May be! It has already lost its vitality in the deltaic region.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice article, historically influenced by hindu period only. liaquat saleh