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Sunday 27 October 2013

The Vedic Harappans, The Disaster of  Michael Witzel  and Some Flowing Traditions.....

On Aryans and Colonial Archaeology
Vedic Harappans
by Bhagwan Singh, Aditya Prakashan, F-14/65, Model Town II, New Delhi,1995
Jaspal Singh
South Asian History has been greatly distorted by the tendentious, colonial and eurocentric rendition of the development of the region. One of the most distorted areas of history has been the question of Aryans and the Indus Valley civilisation.
In this new work, Bhagwan Singh presents an important thesis on the origins of civilisation in South Asia. In the process, he also takes a hard look at the vast body of literature on the subject on this subject that has come down from colonialist scholars and their latter-day descendants.
Bhagwan Singh discusses the "Aryan" problem and settles this long-running debate with convincing arguments. As the title Vedic Harappans, itself suggests, Bhagwan Singh is not treading the old path. For him, the Vedic literature describes the Harappan reality. These are not two different or opposing tendencies. He states,
In short, if we discount the colonial legacy of docile self-denials and falling quickly in line with alien expectations, archaeology was at no stage at variance with the Aryan character of the Harappan civilization.
On the question of the Aryan invasion, he discusses in detail all the arguments put forward by the proponents of this theory. In a chapter titled The Myth Of Aryan Invasion, he points out that "there is neither any literary account of invasion of India by Aryans nor any archaelogical evidence to support such a hypothesis".
He forcefully argues this case: "As we have seen, the Vedic people did not come from outside. The Harappan cities, the first flowering of Indian civilisation, did not fall because of their invasion".
Bhagwan Singh argues with evidence:
Aryans were born with ar/al, the digging stick or hoe in their hands. It was neither their colour, nor their blood nor yet the size and sharpness of their nose which made them proud of themselves. They were proud of their being Aryans or cultivators at a time when the tribes surrounding them were at the stage of hunting and gathering.
It was the Aryans who discovered agriculture and initiated the agrarian revolution and a new mode of production. Earlier the Aryans were called Devas. The term derives from ti/di, meaning burn or shine, and refers to their control over fire. 
It was the discovery of fire including the technique of producing, maintaining and controlling it that revolutionised their thinking and prompted them to undertake new ventures.
He concludes that :
The Aryans were primarily agriculturists. They derived their name from this advancement at a time when people around them were lingering at the lower stage of gathering and hunting. Some of them formed their own kindered communities, refused to move ahead and censured them for their madness for ruining the natural sources which provided them liberally.
Later on these Aryans developed into great traders and travelled all over the known world of the time, taking their agriculture, trade, language and customs with them. 
Bhagwan Singh also examines the hypothesis of Proto Indo-European language in a chapter titled The Language The Harappans Spoke. He states:
Proto-Indo-European is not a fact but an idea floated in order to displace Sanskrit from the centre of discussion. it the product of a magical realism created for projecting the white man's racial superiority back into the hoary past.
He concurs with the view that Sanskrit is a refinement of different Prakrits which were spoken at the time in India. And that out of these Prakrits, natural languages, a refined and classical language-Sanskrit emerged. "It is admitted (Harmatta 1992) that Sanskrit and Vedic languages are refinements of the Prakrit languages." Bhagwan Singh has dealt with matter at length in his Hindi book, Arya Dravid Bhashyaon Ki Moolbhoot Eikta.
Vedic Harappans is a "must read" book for South Asians in general and those who are seriously interested in History of the region in particular. Bhagwan Singh has put to rest a lot of myths about the history of South Asia and deserves praise for this heroic effort.

Bhagwan Singh versus Michael Witzel!

Michael Witzel: rattled rat at IIC
Bhagwan Singh
22 July 2009
I was really sorry for Prof. Michael Witzel. After all, he was our honoured guest! Dr. Singh should not have pounced on him so mercilessly, playing the cat and the rat game – the cat looking ascetically resigned tossing the rat, the rat pretending to be dead, breathlessly looking from the corner of his eye to judge the cat’s next move, running for his life, only to be pounced upon and tossed up again. The Chair kept smiling all through at this plight of the powerful brainy Harvard Professor of Sanskrit!
Frankly, I enjoyed the wild play. Prof. Witzel was in a state of trauma: nervous, edgy, twitching his lips, dropping his eyelids recurrently, looking askance to avoid his interlocutor, constantly using his hanky to rub his nose, murmuring something inaudible to explain his errors, occasionally seeking help from his votaries who were present in good number, but more ignorant than their demi-god, and hence themselves dazed. Singh smiled all the way, his smile mischievous, eyes sadistically aglitter, untrue to his true nature, but true to the occasion.
The occasion was a lecture on the Rgveda by Prof. Michael Witzel, at the India International Centre, on 10 July 2009. Presided over by Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, it was attended by scholars of different hues and expectations. No one suspected that Witzel with his claim to be a ranking Vedic scholar knew so little that he could not answer a single query. Indeed, he appeared blank as far as the Rgvedawas concerned. He rose nervously to speak on the Veda, but actually spoke on the Aryan migration from Afghanistan to Punjab !
The lecture merely reiterated what Prof. Witzel has written years ago: that north-western India was populated by Munda speaking people when Indo-Aryan speakers arrived on the scene. Old Indo-Aryan was influenced by the substrate Proto-Munda. He proposed a time bracket of 1500-1250 BC for composition of the Rgveda and suggested Book IV and Book VI were the oldest, advantage Book IV.
Witzel painted Rgvedic society as nomadic pastoralist, illiterate and with little interest in agriculture and sedentary life. There was virtually nothing in his speech that was not lifted from nineteenth century archives. He showed no awareness of recent researches in archaeology, anthropology, literature or historical linguistics, and presented even Kuiper with his pathological distortions.
Many archaeologists and professors of history attended the lecture, including your writer, Vedic scholar Bhagwan Singh. When the floor was thrown open for discussions, Bhagwan Singh introduced himself as the author of The Vedic Harappans, and said that his data contradicted each and every statement made by Witzel; he sought permission to exchange notes on a few issues. With the Chair’s permission, Singh said:
- You have reordered the Rgvedic strata, rating IV and VI to be the oldest and the rest belonging to intermediate and late stages. I have no objection to your sequence, but find your chronology miserably on the lower side. There is a reference to white pottery in one verse in Book IV (4.27.5). White pottery is a distinctive feature of Hakra Ware dated to 3000 BC. This goes against your dating of 1500-1250 BC for the Rgveda.
Witzel was dumbstruck. He murmured something inaudible, avoiding the audience, looking sideways. He tried to explain that the sequence arranged by him was based on the number of verses in a book, the smallest being the oldest. It caused Kapila ji and others to smile openly. I could not make out the reason and reminded him that Book IV is shorter than Book VI; but the shortest book is Book II! So here again, he was caught on the wrong foot.
He hesitantly managed, “There is no evidence of chariot or horse in India earlier than the mid-second millennium.”
-         But Professor, the aśva in Rgveda, whatever could it have been, was brought from sea bound areas, even the aśva in the horse sacrifice, mentioned in Book I, hymn 163.
Prof. Witzel had no choice but to bite his lips in desperation.
-         You say that the wheel and chariot were invented by Aryans when they were in Central Asia , but in the Book IV itself, Bhr.gus are given the credit for manufacturing wheels (4.16.20). Chariot and wheel was therefore not Aryan, but a Dravidian invention.
Witzel pretended that the inventors might have been Aryans and manufacturers Dravidians! He now forgot the antiquity of Book IV, which according to his suggestion, could have been written in Central Asia, older even than Book VI, composed entirely in Northern Afghanistan ; Dravidian speakers must have been there as well.
-         You talk of substrate effect of Proto-Munda and suggest no role of Proto-Dravidian at the early stage. But Kipper had concluded that three ethnic groups participated in a cultural process. The three are conspicuously present in the Rgveda, Bhr.gus Dravidian, Angirasas Mundari, besides the Sanskrit speakers.(Note 1)
Prof. Witzel mumbled something for a minute; his nervousness was apparent in his evasive gestures.
Kapila ji must have taken pity at his visible discomfort. She invited others to raise doubts, if they had any. Someone at the extreme end of the hall asked a question on the distorted reading of the Sankhyayan Śrautasutra, which had exposed his culpability half a decade back. Witzel responded by referring to an article written by him, without telling us what his defence was!
After a few worthless queries, the debate shrunk back to Michael Witzel, Kapila Vatsyayan, and Bhagwan Singh.
-         The problem with you, Professor, is that you are not familiar with the content of Book IV even. Hymn 57 of Book IV gives a graphic depiction of advanced agriculture, with a plough almost similar to the one that was common in India up to the mid-twentieth century, drawn by a pair of bullocks and driven by a ploughman in service. And in one of the Ŗics, the poet talks of milking the earth as a cow, year after year. It testifies to advanced agricultural activities with sedentary population and belies the myth of nomadism, pastoralism, and barbarity.
The Chair could not hold her laughter; Witzel shook in dismay.
The last nail was hammered by Kapila ji herself. In a jocular vein, she said, “The theme of the lecture was Rgveda. Vedic poetry is known for its sublimity and rare beauty. I expected Prof. Witzel to speak something on it, but he did not say even a word on the theme.”
Witzel agreed that the Hymns on Uşā are really beautiful.
I interjected, “not only Uşā Sūktas professor, the entire Rgveda.Some of it could never be surpassed, such as the Nāsdīya Sūkta, with such expression as tama āsīt tamasā gūlhmagre, darkness was entrapped within darkness.
All in all, it was an interesting evening, if not for the presentation by Prof. Witzel, then for his discomfiture.
Prof. Bhagwan Singh is a Marxist scholar who accepted the archaeological evidence against the theory of Aryan invasion of India
Note 1: There Is No Substratum In Vedic and i'm working on the issue and soon will dismiss it.....

The Traditions Still Flowing.......




Compare these statues with modern day gypsy women of north-western India.Notice the similarities between bangles on their hands.


These women are Indo-Aryans,they speak Indo-Aryan languages and they have Indo-Aryan gypsy culture.This bangle tradition lives on from the times of Harappan civilization to this day.



Similar bathing tanks were also discovered in Dholavira.

Compare  with modern day Hindu temple ponds.

Ritual bathing(Sanskrit Snana) is very important for Hindus from the times of Harappan civilization.For example,Kumbh mela is a very sacred festival of Hindus


The seals and arts of Indus valley offers many Vedic symbolism such as Chakra,Sacred Pipal leaf,Swastikas etc...which are sacred for Hindus and Buddhists to this day.

4) Yogic postures

Indus seals shows many Yogic postures which are practiced to this day.



These figures in lotus postures from Harappan civilization shows "Anjali Mudra" or Namaste practiced by all major Indian(Dharmic) religions

6) Shiva Linga

This is a Shiva Linga from Kalibangan it is exactly the same as the one which Hindus use today.Many other Shiva Lingams were also found from Mohenjo-Daro.

7)Fertility Goddess cult

This is a fertility goddess figurine from Harappan  civilization, compare it with the figurines below.Notice the headdress and flowers,they represent the same goddess.

                                                                    Mauryan(400 BCE)
Gandharan (200 BCE)                                                                     

These figurines are from final 2500 YBP,which means this Goddess cult was active during Mauryan times and Gandharan times among Indo-Aryans.Mauryans and Gandharans were undoubtedly Indo-Aryans.This extinct cult must have been contemporary to the Hinduism Buddhism and Jainism at that times.It may be non-Vedic,but still it was practiced by Indo-Aryans.

8) Fire worship and fire altars.

These fire altars are from Kalibangan and Lothal respectively.These fire altars are exactly similar to the Vedic fire altars used fro fire sacrifices or Yajnas,which are core of the Vedic faith.It is conducted by learned Brahmins.At Kalibangan row,of 7 fire altars were found at a citadel.Sites like Rakhigarhi,Banwali also have presence of fire worship.


AMT proponents are completely ignorant about these cultural similarities between Harappan civilization and Indo-Aryan culture.
Special thanks To Yajna...............................

Friday 18 October 2013

Cracking the Indus Valley script?

Hema Vijay
Ancient Civilisation
The men whose hands etched out these rather linear signs on soapstone and terracotta tablets along the valleys of the mighty Indus river some 4000 years ago, would have had no inkling that they were leaving such an enduring and tantalizing puzzle for men of the 20th and 21st centuries.
A Harappan seal.Generations of scholars have tried to crack the script etched out on tiny Indus Valley seals, tablets and amulets. Numerous decipherments have been proposed; but none accepted by the scientific community at large. This is why Dr Bryan Wells, a researcher and part of the eclectic team that is trying to decipher the Indus script jokingly says, “The Indus Valley script must be the most deciphered script in the world.”

What is exciting Dr Wells and linguists like Dr Steve Bonta from the Pennsylvania State University, who have been trying to crack the code, is the scintillating results of a study by a group of academicians and scholars. The study has discovered through computer statistical methods that the Indus script shows distinct patterns in the placement of symbols in sequences. This even gives this team a chance to accurately guess and fill in on the missing parts in the tablets discovered so far.

It is a geographically spread out team that conducted the computer analysis — Rajesh PN Rao, University of Washington; Nisha Yadav and Mayank Vahia of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences in Mumbai; Hrishikesh Joglekar of Mumbai; R Adhikari of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai; and Iravatham Mahadevan of the Indus Research Centre in Chennai. Their study was published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the research was funded by the Packard Foundation, the Sir Jamsetji Tata Trust, the University of Washington and the Indus Research Centre.

These researchers used the Markov statistical model that analyses sequences and estimates the likelihood of a future event. This model has actually hit on the underlying grammatical structure of the Indus script, which is a massive boost for efforts in deciphering the script. The Markov analysis suggests that the Indus script exhibits rich synactic structure and the ability to represent diverse content. In short, the results suggest that the Indus script symbols fall into the purview of language. “I think that using Markov model has been a turning point,” says Dr Ronojoy Adhikari. The Markov model is generally used for sequences like DNA analysis, speech recognition, and economics.

The Indus Valley civilisation, also known as the Harappan civilisation (following the discovery of the bygone-existence of this civilisation at a site called Harappa, by English general Alexander Cunningham in the late 19th century) once spanned over half a million square miles. These people had an amazing trade network that extended as far as the Persian Gulf and the Middle East, and over 4000 symbol-bearing objects have been discovered, some in places as far away as Mesopotamia.

The Indus script sequences in seals are typically five to six symbols long, and read from right to left (understood from the cramping of signs towards the left of the seals). Each seal has an animal icon (predominantly the one horned rhino) accompanied by another symbol at the base. The seals are rather small, and the largest discovered one is just over a foot tall.

What is intriguing is that the seals with Indus symbols have been found in far away paces like Mesopotamia and the site of modern-day Iraq. Even more curiously, the West-Asian sequences seem to be ordered differently from sequences on artifacts found in the Indus Valley, suggesting that Indus traders in West Asia may have used the script to represent different information than the information they represented in the Indus region. In that case, these signs certainly can’t have been just symbols, quashing the contention that the Indus symbols were not part of a language.                  

The number of principal signs in the Indus script is estimated to be between 400-600 and scholars term these characters to be logo-syllabic, meaning midway between the syllabic and logo graphic scripts. To make it clear, typically, syllabic scripts have about 50-100 signs like the Tamil or English scripts, whereas logographic scripts have a very large number of principal signs, like the Chinese language. “It looks like some signs in the Indus script have phonetic sound, while others don’t,” Dr Wells says.

Arguably the most ancient of the urban civilizations in the world, these people lived, traded, sculpted and carved their thoughts in an enigmatic script, which have been teasing linguists. Perhaps not for much longer, though. There seems to be a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel now.

In two to five years, we might even be conversant with what these men had etched out on these tablets. The team is very hopeful of this, considering that current digs at sites such as Farmana by Prof V Shinde, are throwing up a huge number of seals and tablets, offering these researchers more material to work on.

So why has it been so difficult to crack the code so long? There are actually three reasons. “For one thing, we haven’t been lucky enough to be left with a Rosetta stone (a bilingual text that provides a translation for a script) such as the one that helped crack the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Secondly, the the average length of the inscriptions found so far is less than five signs, the longest being one of only 17 signs, and a sealing of combined inscriptions of just 27 signs, which makes decoding that much more tricky. Thirdly, we don’t have information about the kings and places of that time, which has helped in cracking many other ancient scripts,” Dr Bonta explains.

But even now, Dr Bonta has interesting theories about the fish sign that appears on many of these seals. He reckons that it represents a system of weights. Substantiating this theory is that the fish is ‘Min’ in most Dravidian languages (pronounced meen). The Mina is actually a common system of weights that existed across a belt of regions from Harappa to modern day Bahrain. Dr Bonta also notes that the jar sign appears only in the predicate position.

Many controversies surround the script. There are scholars like Dr Asko Parpola (University of Helsinki) who believe that the Indus sign system represents an ancient Dravidian language. Others like Natwar Jha consider that the inscriptions found on the artifacts were a form of Vedic Sanskrit.

As for this team, they are having an open mind about the script’s origin. Dr Adhikari sums up, “We don’t want to slot it into a category; that would limit possibilities. We just want to understand what these seals say.” We do too.
My View:
 “We don’t want to slot it into a category; that would limit possibilities. We just want to understand what these seals say.” We do too.''