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Old November 10th, 2014, 03:59 AM   #1
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Saraswati was never an Indus Valley River


According to Savarkar, "the history of the Aryan conquest began in the westernmost part of the Sapta Sindhu region when the foremost band of the intrepid Aryans made it their home and lighted the first sacrificial fire on the banks of the Sindhu. By the time they had cut themselves aloof from their cognate and neighbouring people, especially the Persians, the Aryans had spread out to the farthest of the seven rivers, Sapta Sindhus." The Rig Veda also mentions Sapta Sindhu and it is famously believed to be the land of Punjab. However, the land of Punjab consist of five rivers as the name itself suggests. So, where are the two missing rivers? The other two rivers are believed to be the Saraswati and Drishdwati. These are the two rivers which are not traceable. The Rig Veda indicates that Saraswati lie between Rivers Jamuna and Sutlej.

The Mahabharata states that Saraswati became invisible at a place called Vinasana due to her contempt of Sudras and Abhiras and thus the Rishis lost her at this place. This and subsequent narration in Mahabharata clearly means that it were the Rishis who could not see the Saraswati at this place and that Saraswati was lost to them at Vinasana and not that the River had been completely lost, as it is famously accepted. Mahabharata qualifies this fact by further narrating that there were numerous other Trithas (pilgrimage sites) on the banks of Saraswati, ahead of Vinasana which were visited by mighty Lord Baladeva, elder brother of Lord Krishna.

The Mahabharata after narration of the Tirth at Vinasana, highlights that Lord Baladeva next visited Subhumika located on the bank of Saraswati where he came in contact with fair complexioned Apsaras (Divine Nymphs). Next he visited the pilgrimage site of Gargasrota on the bank of same river. Next he visited Sankha on the bank of same river and then on to Dwaita lake. He then proceeded to the Tirtha called Nagadhanwana (a Naga settlement; a western extension of Nagas at Khandava a forest south of Indraprasta, capital of the kingdom of Pandavas, which is currently a Delhi suburb located to the west of Jamuna river) on the banks of Saraswati. From this point Baladeva, face turned east, visited hundreds and thousands of famous tirthas that occurred at every step along his journey along the banks of river Saraswati and reached the spot where Saraswati turns in an eastward direction towards the forest of Naimisha.

The most interesting and surprising aspect that has been highlighted in the Mahabharata itself and has not been much talked about (again very surprisingly) is the mention that Saraswati changes course eastwards towards the forest of Naimisha. The Forest of Naimisha is located in Uttar Pradesh, not far from Triveni Sangam where Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati (in a subterranean mode) meet in a holy confluence at Allahabad, the place where Kumbh Mela is celebrated. The Mahabharata's statement further confirms what has been stated in the Rig Veda that, Saraswati remains between Jamuna and Sutlej, however it does not flow southwards towards the Arabian Sea.

It must also be understood that River Indus and River Ganges flow in river valleys and are clearly separates by a watershed which originates west of Delhi and follows a southerly direction down to the Arabia Sea. Therefore, rivers which flow into Indus follow a south westerly direction and those flowing into Ganges flow into a south easterly direction. Also due to the watershed which separates the two valleys, no river can cut across the watershed from one river valley to the other.

In the 1970s, when satellite imagery became available to us mortals, some Indians identified the old dried bed of Rivers Ghaggar-Hakra as the missing River Saraswati. Despite protestations by many Indian and other scholars, that without scientific evidence it can not be confirmed, an Indian university professor in the 1990s suggested that the Indus Valley Civilisation should be identified as either Saraswati Civilisation or Saraswati-Indus Civilisation.

When Mahabharata stated this unequivocally and as clearly as the daylight, that Saraswati did not die out at Vinasana as is believed by some scholars, and that it continued and followed an easterly course as compared to Ghagar-Hakra which followed a south westerly course, why is it that history is being re-written and incorrectly presented by some of the Indian scholars.

Since then, and even recently, many scientific studies have very clearly and credibly highlighted some major facts which indicate that 1) Ghagar-Hakra river never originated from high Himalayan mountains and it originated from Shivalik Hills, North of Delhi, contrary to the citations of Rig Veda which indicated that Saraswati originated from high mountains and was a very powerful river. 2) Ghagar-Hakra was a seasonal monsoon river and was not a major river like the Indus or Ganges etc. 3) Ghagar-Hakra started drying up during mid to later Pleistocene era between 40000 - 11500 years ago.

It has also been stated by many Indian scholars that Saraswati river flow was blocked due to a massive tectonic activity and it therefore could not remain a powerful river as was indicated in the Rig Veda. However, if there had been such a massive tectonic activity, it was likely to have affected other major rivers as well. Sindhu river kept on flowing for thousands of years without being even mildly affected by any such activity. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that there ever was such a tectonic activity which affected only Saraswati and not other rivers like Indus, Ganges and Jamuna as well.

All this proves beyond any reasonable doubt that Saraswati river was a south easterly flowing river which could not and did not fall within the Indus River Valley. All this also clearly indicate that Saraswati, in all likelihood, was a river of Ganges River Valley. And this also proves that Indus Valley Civilisation had no connection with Saraswati River and therefore Indus Valley Civilisation was never a Saraswati Civilisation.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:04 AM   #2

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The Mahabharata isn't what is relevant here, the Vedas are, for the purposes of identification. The Mahabharata is obviously dealing with a lot of fantastical elements, and the need to have the Saraswati join at Prayag makes it travel "underground" so as to make it the triveni sangam.

However it should be fairly obvious that the Saraswati was not an Indus Valley River. How can it be. It was a Saraswati Valley River


As it so happens, hydrological evidence seems to suggest that the Saraswati river became the Yamuna due to some sort of geological change. The River which flowed into the Ghaggar Hakra was somehow altered into an East flowing river and would thus become the Yamuna. Whether there was an older river which merely became enlarged by this change is perhaps harder to determine. So a West flowing river becoming East flowing somewhere near the foothill regions is not only possible but has been documented. Again though, for the purposes of the identification of the Saraswati with the Ghaggar-Hakra, the relevant text is the Vedas, not the Mahabharata, which was clearly composed in a time period far removed from the Early Vedic period, at a time when the Ganga was not only dominant (as opposed to the Early Vedic praise for the sapta sindhu) but regions far to the east had been Aryanized.

Certainly the identification of the river system with an Indus Valley Civilization river, ie the implication that the IVC was a Vedic culture is heavily disputed, and in point of fact, not accepted by mainstream historians as yet, with a variety of theories offering alternate identifications for the Saraswati as well as offering other explanations for the identification with the Ghaggar Hakra yet consistent with a migratory timeline. However the essence of your post is flawed, in that while its certainly a topic which is disputed, the arguments you've put forward are not valid given the fact that you're reading the wrong sources. The Mahabharata is simply not concerned with this timeline.

You have to remember that the Vedic literature makes it fairly clear that the Saraswati river was in the Sapta Sindhu region. It would only later become associated with the Ganges, as the Ganges became the cosmological center of the Vedic culture. However in the Early Vedic corpus, the Sindhu region is central, the Ganges being a very minor river in terms of religious and scriptural importance, becoming important later in time


I'm curious though - couldn't you have simply posted this essay/post into one of the existing Aryan Migration threads? Also is this thread about the whole IVC being an "Indian" civilization?

Last edited by tornada; November 10th, 2014 at 04:12 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:30 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by tornada View Post
The Mahabharata isn't what is relevant here, the Vedas are, for the purposes of identification. The Mahabharata is obviously dealing with a lot of fantastical elements, and the need to have the Saraswati join at Prayag makes it travel "underground" so as to make it the triveni sangam.

However it should be fairly obvious that the Saraswati was not an Indus Valley River. How can it be. It was a Saraswati Valley River
Irrespective of the fact that there are a lot of fantastical events mentioned even in the Rig Veda, Saraswati river is only indicated to be located between rivers Jamuna and Sutlej and no river valley has been mentioned at all.

Since the existence of river Saraswati has been related to religious scriptures only, why credit only Rig Veda and discredit the information given in Mahabharata. I do not understand this.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 04:44 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by Ticker View Post
Irrespective of the fact that there are a lot of fantastical events mentioned even in the Rig Veda, Saraswati river is only indicated to be located between rivers Jamuna and Sutlej and no river valley has been mentioned at all.

Since the existence of river Saraswati has been related to religious scriptures only, why credit only Rig Veda and discredit the information given in Mahabharata. I do not understand this.
The reason for this is because the Rg Veda and the Vedas in general are the reference material for the Early Vedic period, and thus the period of the migration (assuming to adhere to the theory) or just after it. The Mahabharata is not relevant to this because it was composed during the Mahajanpada era (expanded city state/proto-empire era) of the Later Vedic period, and hence not reliable for identification. It would be like trying to analyse Phoenician culture of the 7-8th century BCE based on Virgil's Aeneid.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:04 AM   #5
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The reason for this is because the Rg Veda and the Vedas in general are the reference material for the Early Vedic period, and thus the period of the migration (assuming to adhere to the theory) or just after it. The Mahabharata is not relevant to this because it was composed during the Mahajanpada era (expanded city state/proto-empire era) of the Later Vedic period, and hence not reliable for identification. It would be like trying to analyse Phoenician culture of the 7-8th century BCE based on Virgil's Aeneid.
What you are stating is that one religious scripture can be used as a reference material for mentioning river Saraswati and a later religious scripture can not be referred to because it has been scriptured in a later period. This indeed is interesting.

Would this also translate to earlier written and analysed material being more reliable than the ones produced in a later time frame. Surprising as it may, your hydrological suppositions or assumptions pronounced during the contemporary time period would definitely not be refer-able.

Last edited by Ticker; November 10th, 2014 at 05:07 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:15 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by Ticker View Post
What you are stating is that one religious scripture can be used as a reference material for mentioning river Saraswati and a later religious scripture can not be referred to because it has been scriptured in a later period. This indeed is interesting.

Would this also translate to earlier written and analysed material being more reliable than the ones produced in a later time frame. Surprising as it may, your hydrological suppositions or assumptions pronounced during the contemporary time period would definitely not be refer-able.
The later texts are unreliable (The Mahabharata is not religious scripture by any stretch of imagination) because they are not describing contemporary events, and further their descriptions are contradictory to earlier texts which are believed to be contemporary. It is because they are not from the time period in question. The Mahabharata is thus more reliable for the Mahajanpada period, the period in which it was first composed. Furthermore, the epic nature of the Mahabharata itself, as opposed to the fixed nature of the Vedas, does make it less reliable, since unlike the Vedas, the Mahabharata has frequently been revised and exists in a variety of different versions. In contrast there is only one version of the Rg Veda.

The hydrological data is ofcourse reliable, but for an entirely different reason. It is not literature, it is a scientific analysis of evidence, and thus reliable. This is also true of other sciences such as Linguistics. The difference between historical literature and the reliability problems induced by later literature and the difference between scientific theories built on existing evidence gathered today is immense, and should be apparent to even a novice in history.

Literature, the more removed it is from the time period it talks about, becomes less reliable. This is why Minhaj ul Siraj would be more reliable when discussing the Sultanate Period than Tarantha (who wrote centuries later). Now if OTH, one were to conduct an archaeological excavation of Nalanda or Hauz Khas, the report would not be unreliable due to it being composed in a modern time period, since the report is not literature in the same context.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:37 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by Ticker View Post
In the 1970s, when satellite imagery became available to us mortals, some Indians identified the old dried bed of Rivers Ghaggar-Hakra as the missing River Saraswati. Despite protestations by many Indian and other scholars, that without scientific evidence it can not be confirmed, an Indian university professor in the 1990s suggested that the Indus Valley Civilisation should be identified as either Saraswati Civilisation or Saraswati-Indus Civilisation.
No, Indian scholars of 21st century have least to do with the initial identification of Saraswati. Dry bed of Gaggar Hakra was traced by British surveyors to the Arabian ocean even before the EIC conquered the Punjab and French and British Geographers had identified Ghaggar Hakra river with Saraswati as early as 19th century. Papers have been presented on the issue since 19th century and Colonial Maps dating back to the 19th century identifies Gaggar Hakra with Saraswati river. The modern scientific methods just confirmed those findings and not proposed it in the first place. It is another thing that the issue came into limelight only recently due to completely wrong reasons reflected by the threads like this.

Mahabharata is work of mythology. Normally scholars don't take it on face value (unless or until they are interested more in propaganda). One has to separate history from mythology. None the less even if we just take pure mythological version into account then AFAIK it indeed says that Saraswati disappears at Vinasana and at many other places only to reappear again many time at many places. Not to mention that Balarama itself started his pilgrimage of Saraswati from Prabhas Patan which is in Gujarat. Btw Mahabharata also says that Saraswati continued its journey underground before it reappear again and only sages can trace the underground current. Do you also believe that Saraswati used to flow underground and that many people could somehow trace it at that time?

Not to mention that Saraswati has been mentioned as important river in many sources throughout the history. According to Harshacharita, of 7th century, Harshavardhana king of Thaneshwar took bath in holy river Saraswati, after performing the final rituals of his father Rajyavardhana. Thansehwar itself was considered important tirtha on the banks of Saraswati even during the medieval times. Pehowa copper plates also mention Sarsawati river . The names like Sirsa, Sarsuty are still there on the map of Haryana.


Apart from that I have not much to say about anything else such as the bizarre notion of river valley.

Last edited by Jinit; November 10th, 2014 at 06:10 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:45 AM   #8

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Mahabharata is work of mythology. Normally scholars don't take it on face value (unless or until they are interested more in propaganda). One has to separate history from mythology.
The Mahabharata is not strictly mythology. Its a class of literature that is called Epics, and is a confluence of legendary and mythological narratives. Historical data, particularly geo-political as well as social data can be gathered from the Mahabharata. For example we know that the earliest traditions of the Mahabharata were composed in a time when the Magadha capital was at Rajgirha. We can also determine general information, such as the fact that the Mahabharata was likely first composed during a time period when Imperial expansion was not considered acceptable behavior by the authors, indicating that atleast some of the stories predate the Mauryan (perhaps even the Nanda) eras. For example, I'm tempted to link the character of Jarasandha to Ajatshatru or his father, based on a reading of the work. In essence I believe that the Mahabharata, specifically the Rajasuya narrative, may have been a tradition that was opposed to the political changes being instituted by the Sisunaga dynasty.

Moreover, since the geo-political setting of the Mahabharata is most certainly real, we cannot positively rule out the existence of individuals associated with the stories. Thus Yudhistara and Arjuna may well have been real individuals, around whom the stories have been exaggerated. Similar literature would include the Trojan War, The Gilgamesh Epic, etc.

In contrast narratives such as the Indian creation myths (Brahma creating the world, the Manu story) are even less verifiable and thus considered pure mythology.

This isn't meant as a refutation of your post
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Old November 10th, 2014, 05:50 AM   #9
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The later texts are unreliable (The Mahabharata is not religious scripture by any stretch of imagination) because they are not describing contemporary events, and further their descriptions are contradictory to earlier texts which are believed to be contemporary. It is because they are not from the time period in question. The Mahabharata is thus more reliable for the Mahajanpada period, the period in which it was first composed. Furthermore, the epic nature of the Mahabharata itself, as opposed to the fixed nature of the Vedas, does make it less reliable, since unlike the Vedas, the Mahabharata has frequently been revised and exists in a variety of different versions. In contrast there is only one version of the Rg Veda.

The hydrological data is ofcourse reliable, but for an entirely different reason. It is not literature, it is a scientific analysis of evidence, and thus reliable. This is also true of other sciences such as Linguistics. The difference between historical literature and the reliability problems induced by later literature and the difference between scientific theories built on existing evidence gathered today is immense, and should be apparent to even a novice in history.

Literature, the more removed it is from the time period it talks about, becomes less reliable. This is why Minhaj ul Siraj would be more reliable when discussing the Sultanate Period than Tarantha (who wrote centuries later). Now if OTH, one were to conduct an archaeological excavation of Nalanda or Hauz Khas, the report would not be unreliable due to it being composed in a modern time period, since the report is not literature in the same context.
Interesting indeed.

You earlier suggested that there is hydrological evidence that Saraswati changed its course due to a hydrological event and became Jamuna. However, the change of course by Jamuna due to hydrological or geological event is a mere speculation without any concrete scientific evidence. A documented speculation indeed.

Rig Veda does not mention anywhere that Saraswati flows in Indus Valley; it merely states that the Saraswati flows between Jamuna and Sutlej. We know that Jamuna is an easterly flowing river without any scientific evidence of being a westerly flowing river. And Saraswati joins Jamuna according to Mahabharata and which is subsequently confirmed by the age old connection to the Triveni Sangam.

Secondly and interestingly, particularly in reference to the authenticity and following of Mahabharata vis a vis the Rig Veda; the Gods of Rig Veda were not followed in entirety in the contemporary times, as the Gods of Mahabharata were indeed different. The fact that the people of India follow the Gods of Mahabharata more than the Gods of the Vedas speak volumes about their belief in Mahabharata as compared to the Vedas, which indeed are also accepted as the basic scriptures.
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Old November 10th, 2014, 06:09 AM   #10
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No, Indian scholars of 21st century has least to do with the initial identification of Saraswati. Dry bed of Gaggar Hakra was traced by British surveyors to the Arabian ocean even before the EIC conquered the Punjab and French and British Geographers had identified Ghaggar Hakra river with Saraswati as early as 19th century. Papers have been presented on the issue since 19th century and Colonial Maps dating back to the 19th century identifies Gaggar Hakra with Saraswati river. The modern scientific methods just confirmed those findings and not proposed it in the first place. It is another thing that the issue came into limelight only recently due to completely wrong reasons reflected by the threads like this.

Mahabharata is work of mythology. Normally scholars don't take it on face value (unless or until they are interested more in propaganda). One has to separate history from mythology. None the less even if we just take pure mythological version into account then AFAIK it indeed says that Saraswati disappears at Vinasana and at many other places only to reappear again many time at many places. Not to mention that Balarama itself started his pilgrimage of Saraswati from Prabhas Patan which is in Gujarat. Btw Mahabharata also says that Saraswati continued its journey underground before it reappear again and only sages can trace the underground current. Do you also believe that Saraswati used to flow underground and that many people could somehow trace it at that time?

Not to mention that Saraswati has been mentioned as important river in many sources throughout the history. According to Harshacharita of 7th century, Harshavardhana king of Thaneshwar took bath in holy river Saraswati, after performing the final rituals of his father Rajyavardhana. Thansehwar itself was considered important tirtha on the banks of Saraswati even during the medieval times. Pehowa copper plates also mention Sarsawati river . The names like Sirsa, Sarsuty are still there on the map of Haryana.


Apart from that I have not much to say about anything else such as the bizarre notion of river valley.
The British or other foreign scholars merely speculated that Ghaggar-Hakra could be Saraswati due to their fascination with recently available translations of Rig Veda and Mahabharata etc. the recent scientific studies, also carried out by foreigners also clearly state that Ghaggar-Hakra were never Saraswati. These scientific studies are available on the net.

Mahabharata clearly states that the river Saraswati at Vinasana was lost to the Rishis as Baladeva travelled and took bath at all the subsequent Tirthas.

And the fact that tens of millions of pilgrims visit the Kumbh Mela proves what the people of India believe in and not what you state.

And the river valley notion is indeed not so bizarre as you may like to think it is.
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