The areas under the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization included from Iranian border to the West; Turkmenistan and Kashmir to the North; Delhi to the East; and the southern Gujarat to the South.
First great civilizations sprang up in driest areas of the world as the land did not have to be cleared. Alluvial soil was easier to plow and very fertile.
Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning Theology and Religion, United States
At least three different ethnic types: Austro-Asians, earliest peoples related to Australian aborigines; Dravidians, the people that the Aryans encountered; and the Aryans themselves. This divides up into three different language types, too, with the Northern Indian languages derived from Sanskrit and the Southern languages having Dravidian roots.
Indus River called Sindhu (a river goddess) in Sanskrit. Persians could not pronounce initial “S,” so it therefore became “Hindu.”
Why did the first great civilizations spring up in some of the driest areas of the world? Not the Mississippi, Amazon, or Danube river valleys, where the sod could not be plowed, but the river systems were the land did not have to be cleared. Alluvial soil easier to plow and very fertile.
Indus cities thrived from ca. 3000 to 2000 BCE and went into slow decline after that time. Two great cities (Mohenjo Daro and Harappa) sprang seemingly from nowhere, fully planned and functional, even more rationally planned than Mesopotamia or Egypt (contrast irregular streets of Babylon. Excellent plumbing and evidence of municipal control over the drainage. City blocks 200 yards by 400 yards. Indoor showers and drains. Unimaginative but well-designed and sturdy structures. Well-built and comparatively spacious housing for workers and slaves. Language still has yet to be deciphered; some scholars discern a similarity with Polynesian languages (specifically Easter Island!). Not much art except for assorted seals.
Agriculture central. Surpluses to support city. Grain and cotton; famous for latter. The harrow only, because the plow was not needed in the soft soil. Some animals domesticated, but not elephant or horse. No irrigation. Some evidence of dam building to flood areas. Did not have iron and mediocre metallurgy (bronze only). Did not penetrate jungle for that very reason. Very poor weapons. No military fortresses, etc. No swords. The people seemed to be extremely conservative; they did not pick up new things even though there is much evidence of trade with Mesopotamia and Persia.
Religion: mother goddess, fertility, etc. Great communal bath at Mohenjo Daro. Definitely for religious purposes. Temple prostitutes. Common also in Babylon. Female figurines and the horned gods with erect penis. Phallus worship. Aryans called them “dark,” “phallus-worshiping,” “foul-mouthed,” and “godless.” Horned-god as “proto-Shiva” sitting in the lotus position. Lord of the Forest (Vanaspati) and Beasts (Pashupati). Proto-Venus fertility goddess. The humped-backed bull, but not the sacred cow.
World-wide comparisons: Aryans vs. Indus Valley people; Israelites (non-Aryans) vs. Canaanites; Earliest Greeks (Aryans) vs. Minoans on Crete; Sky-gods and war-gods vs. Fertility gods and goddesses.
Breakdown of Indus Valley Civilization
Three possible causes, and probably a combination of all three:
- External human forces: Invading nomadic tribes of Aryan warriors. Harrapans had very poor weapons–stone tipped arrows. Aryan war-god Indira vs. Indus pacifists.
- Natural forces: floods, droughts, radical geologic changes. Natural dams flooded the cities. Back up of salt water from the ocean.
- Internal human forces: urban pollution and over population. Decline of trade with Mesopotamia. Conservative culture that did not pick up new ideas. Didn’t use their ingenuity to defend themselves.
Pre-Aryan Religious Heritage
- Ahimsa (non-injury)–the principle of nonviolence
- Karma and Reincarnation
- Yoga–proto-Shiva in the lotus position.
- Worship of Great Goddess – Goddess figurines from the Indus cities.
- Cults of trees, waters, animals, e.g., the fig tree, the most famous being the Buddha’s Bo Tree.
- Phallus worship connected with the proto-Shiva.
- Bhaktism–devotion to a savior god. I personally have seen no evidence of this.
- Village deities, demons, ghosts, spirits
- Third Eye–the mind’s eye, the eye of introspection and meditation. Perhaps seen on the forehead of nobleman/priest of Indus seals.
Much larger than previously thought. May be the largest prehistoric urban civilization.
May have had a democratic organization. At least more egalitarian than any other civilization.
Largest exporters in the ancient world. 700 ft. long dock in Gujarat.
Suffered depression rather than Aryan conquest. Migration eastward to Sarasvati.
Largest Ancient Civilization
1.5 million square kilometers. Larger than Western Europe.
Iranian border to the West; Turkmenistan and Kashmir to the North; Delhi to the East; and the southern Gujarat to the South.
1,400 sites: 917 in India, 481 in Pakistan, and one in Afghanistan.
Sarasvati not Indus?
Most of the sites are in the ancient Sarasvati River basin.
Sarasvati River mentioned in the Rigveda, running between the Indus and the Yamuna Rivers.
Satellite images proved this to be correct.
Some scholars warn that we should stay clear from potential Pakistani-Indian conflict.
Who were these people?
Examination of skeletal remains show that they are directly linked to present day Indians.
Many practices (farming, sailing, jewelry) preserved intact.
The tadoori oven is an Indus-Sarasvati invention.
Stage 1: 7000-4000 BC
Beginnings of village farming communities
Stage 2: 4300-3200 BC
Developed farming and pastoral communities
Stage 3: 3200-2600 BC
Agricultural surplus societies, urbanization
Stage 4: 2600-2500 BC
The big leap. Advanced town-planning and scripts emerge
Stage 5: 2500-2000 BC
Civilization in full bloom
Stage 6: 2000-1600 BC
Dramatic decline in Sindh and resurgence in Punjab and Haryana. Back to farming units
No cult of personality or royal tombs.
Some social stratification but still no control by one class. Competing elites?
Obvious administrative organization (standardized weights, measurements, and brick size) but only regional capitals.
Seals with what looks like a priest but there is no evidence that they had any great control.
Courtesy: Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning Theology and Religion, United States.