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Indus Valley Script Decipherment

Indus Valley Script

Vedic Basis of Indus Culture

Symbolism of Brahmanas and Upanishdas in Indus Valley Script

Critical view of decipherment of Indus script



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above is an Agni-Anna stage of Varuņa which is alternately written as ‘Agni with quadruped    or with two vertical straight lines’. This may be compared with another inscription of Harappa where one vertical straight line (i. e. first form of A) flanked by a double  is succeeded by two vertical straight lines and then both equated with An-Anna (      ) compound of  gross A ( v ). This shows that the first form of A ( vertical straight line with double b is same as Agni with quadruped b, each set signifying An-Anna compound equated with the symbols of two vertical straight lines which only seem to indicate the double initial A (v ) of an An and Anna. Thus in the remaining set of the letter A (one straight line) flanked by b signifying the An-Anna compound, v stands for An and b for Ann. In the same way Agni represents An (vu) and b accompanying it indicates Anna (vUUk). This An-Anna or v&b or vfXu b compound is Varuņa but not in its role of the enjoyer (Bhokta). In other words, it is only Varuņa the bhokta (enjoyer) that is associated with noose or snare and can be equated with the Agni forming a trinity with Avara, Indra and Soma, and not the higher Varuņa equated with     compound which seems to be equated with Parā Indra absorbing Agni as well as Soma.


                                     IDENTITY WITH VEDIC CULTURE


In this way, the examples may be multiplied, but it is sufficient to prove the identity of Indus culture with the Vedic. Scholars have often questioned this identity on the ground that the horse and the cow, so popular with the Vedic people are conspicuous by their absence in Indus Valley relics. In the same breath, they speak of the non-Aryan deities like Shiva and the mother goddess in the pantheon of the Indus Valley , and non-availability of the sacrificial cult in religion of the Indus people. It is, therefore, necessary to state briefly my own views in this respect.


                                                    SACRIFICCIAL ALTARS


This Vedic origin of the Indus Culture as seen in the symbolism of Indus alphabet is further confirmed by the discovery of sacrificial altars, on both the mounds (in the Harappa levels) at Kalibanga. Not far from the wells and terraces already mentioned above, there is a big mud-brick platform having one main altar (called Mahāvedi in Vedic rituals) with a small pit for holding jar of Praņitā waters in a Vedic sacrifice. Beside this Mahāvedi , there is a row of six small pits all of which, like the main altar, retain even now the evidence to show that they were once the seats of fire. This is in contrast with the small pit for water jar having no trace of fire-burning at all. The six small pits are decidedly the seats of the six Vedic fires, namely    ñkwRlTkAùä CkkcrU’Zkä RldkOkk†CTkä ¢kc^kTkmZkä bkXZk            and ¢k^kbkQZk all of them having a role to play in the Srauta sacrifices. (see P. V. Kane’s ‘History of Dharmashastra’ pp. 992-998).


                                                          SARVATOMUKHA AGNI


The six fires may be compared with the six heads of different animals joined to a heart-like thing and together presenting a composite picture found in two seals of Mohenjodaro. I have elsewhere identified this symbol with the Sarvatomukha Agni[1] (the fire with faces on all directions) of the Brahamanas, and now, after seeing the Kalibanga set of altars described above, I vendure to suggest that the concept of Sarvatomukha Agni, as also its counterpart on Indus seals is only a composite symbol representing the six fires of the Vedic sacrifice referred to above.


                                           THE FIRE OF VŖTRA-SACRIFICE


One of the inscriptions[2] of Kalibanga published by the Archaeological Survey of India would read, according to my decipherment, as Vŗtra-Jasna-Agni meaning ‘the fire of Vŗtra sacrifice’. Bearing in mind that Vŗtra is a demon in Vedic literature, this fire may be compared with our annual Holi Fire which is believed to symbolize the burning of Holika, sister of the demon Hiranyakasyapa. the same again maybe compared with the annual burning of Ravana, the great demon of the Ramayana. It is to be remembered, in this connection, that the concept of Vŗtra includes all that is evil and hostile to man including the mental and physical ailments. That this is so is proved not only by Vedic literature and various inscriptions of mohenjodaro and Harappa but also by those found at kalibanga. Thus, on one of the kalibanga potsherds[3] we can read        indicating the inclusion of mental evils in the concept of Vŗtra. In the same way, the word Vŗtrasā (Vŗtrahā in Mohenjodaro) meaning the ‘Killer of Vŗtras’ inscribed on storage jars of food grains seems to suggest the insects eating the food grains as the Vŗtras whom the inscription ‘the Killer of Vŗtra’ seems to be intended to ward off


                                   THE SACRIFICE OF THE DIVINE FIRE


The fire of Vŗtra sacrifice may be compared with other forms of fire mentioned in various inscriptions on Indus seals of Unicorn that are being published in the next issue of Swaha. To mention a few, there we come across with the fire of Heaven, the Prāna-Agni, the fire of mind, the fire of Indra, the eternal Agni, Agni the eater and the like. There is also a concept of the Agni as the part of Savitŗ (the sun-god) or the Energy. As for example,[4] one of the two stick-like objects each having a flame bear the inscription ‘Savitrānsha’ meaning a portion of Savitŗ, and with the words ‘Śava-ansha’ seems to symbolize a portion of Śavas, the energy of the Vedic Indra. Had there been no inscription on these objects with flame like tops, they could very well be mistaken for the phallus emblems.



I purposely emphasize this point, as it has a direct bearing with the Indus Valley concept of Shiva Lingam which has been proclaimed by scholars as a phallus sign, in spite of the fact that tradition regards the Shiva-linga as Jyotirlinga (the emblem of light). As I have explained in detail in my ‘Bharatiya Smajashastra’, Shiva-linga is only an imitation of the flame of fire rising from the sacrificial fire, whereas the sacrificial fire is the symbol of the inner light within human body which is represented by the sacrificial altar. This accounts for the use of Vedic Agni-mantras in the worship of Shiva. It is, therefore, absolutely wrong to consider Shiva-linga as phallus. Thus, the numerous lingas found in the Indus Valley must be regarded as the small symbols of the ‘divine flame’ within us.


                                          ŚIŚNA AND LINGA


In this connection a reference may be made to the word ‘Śiśna-deva’ occurring twice in the Ŗgveda. On the strength of this word, scholars are apt to conclude that the Indus culture was a non-Vedic culture, because in their opinion the ‘Śiśna -deva’ condemned by the Ŗgveda are no other than the phallus worshiping Indus Valley people. They seem to overlook the fact that the Śiśna -deva, according to tradition, means a debauch and that the Śiśna  is not the exact synonym of the linga. For example, in grammar we have Śiśna -linga, Pum-linga and Klīva-linga where the word linga cannot be substituted by the word Śiśna. The word linga in Sanskrit originally meant ‘a characteristic mark’ by which a thing or a person could be identified. Thus, the Varņi-lingi in ‘Kumāra-sambhava’ means one having the characteristics of a Bramhachari. In the same way, the Vaiśeśika and Nyāya Sutra, speak of the various psychic functions as Lingas of the Ãtman. Therefore, while the word may in a  derivative and secondary sense, signify Śiśna, vice-versa is not true, and the word Śiśna -deva cannot be equated with the worshiper of Shivalinga which, as stated above, represents the divine fire within us all.


This however, does not mean that sex was tabooed in Indus Valley or Vedic tradition. In Upaniśads and Brāhmanas where several symbols of Indus Valley have been found[5], there are several references to sex life. For example, Śatapatha Brahmana identifies the mūsala and Ulūkhala used in sacrificial ritual with Śiśna and  yoni[6] respectively. Already in the Atharva-Veda, the great red śēpa of the Bramhachari (the creator) as the instrument for sprinkling.  His retas (seed) on the mountain is said to have descended on the earth crying and roaring (from Heaven) and may be taken to serve as a prototype of the huge Shiva-linga of the Purānas,  the two ends of which are not known even to the great gods. Nonetheless, it will be futile to see in this metaphor any trace of phallus worship. Even when the Śatapatha Brāhmana uses the word Śiśna, it is used with the epithet śochişkeśa (having flames as its hair) employed obviously for fire in the Ŗgveda[7] and can clearly be taken to condemn debauchery[8] similar to that implied in the term Śiśna -deva mentioned above.


In the light of the above fact, there is no justification is seeing phallus worship in Shaivism and regard the Indus culture as Non-Vedic on that account only.


                                PURA, THE WALLED CITY


Equally erroneous is the view that the Indus civilization of walled cities is non-Vedic. This theory is based on the wrong notion encouraged by the initial discovery of the walled cities like Mohenjodaro and  Harappa . It was thought that these were the Puras which are reported to have been shattered by Purandara (the shatterer of  Puras), Indra of Vedic literature. But, in this context, it must be remembered that Vedic civilization was not entirely rural and something hostile to urban civilization of the Indus Valley type. Ŗgveda  makes several references to Pauras[9] (lit, the residents of Pura or city) and Indra[10] himself is Paura. Several gods[11] are associated with a Pura and the Atharva-Veda[12], in a beautiful metaphor, describes human body as the city of Ayodhya belonging to gods, with eight circles and nine doors. In fact, some such idea seems to be responsible for conceiving Indra, the human soul, as Purandar, because it is in this Pura that he has bored out extrovert holes[13] and it is in this sense that he is said to have made[14] openings for providing abode to various senses and an entrance for himself.


Therefore, Puras or walled cities of the Indus civilization, far from suggesting any non-Vedic source for themselves, provide a clear evidence for their Vedic origin. The hundred citadels of Śamvara[15] smashed by Indra or the hundred puras[16] encircling the Soma (or shyena) therefore, would only mean the numerous layers of ‘obscuration’ that hides the Divine bliss called Śam or Soma in the Vedas. In Indus culture also, this Divine  bliss is the chief goal of human life, as will be clear from the following inscription from Mohenjodaro[17] :


'ka eka u jRu/kk( u vUuon~cq/kk


“let there be bliss for me, and not the giver of jewels; for the wise people do not hanker after enjoyment.”


                                               THE MYSTERIOUS UNICORN


[1] lbid

[2] Goplnath Abhinandanagranth P. 499.

[3] lbid p. 500

[4] See MIC, pl CIV, Seal No. 531

[5] See Swaha, Dec. 68.

[6] ;ksfu#yw[kye`    f”k”ua eqlye~ “kr 7 5 1 38

[7] RV. 3,2,704.

[8] f”k”ua oW “kksfp’ds”ka f”k”ua ghna f”kf”uua Hkwf;’Ba “kksp;fr  “kr 1 4  3  9

[9] RV.5,74,4; 2,11,11;8,61,6; 5,74,4; 8,3,12; 5,74,4; 8,54,1; 8,50.5.

[10] RV. 8,61,6 etc.

[11] RV. 8,54,1 etc.

[12] v’Vpdzk uo}kjk nsokuka iwj;ks/;k

[13] ijkafp [kkfu O;r`.kr~ Lo;EHkw (KU 2,1)

[14] ,sr mi (1.1)

[15] RV. 2,33,2

[16] RV. 4,26,1; 27,1.

[17] MIC  Vol. III, pl. CXII, seal 406


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