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Harappans = Vedic People ?

Nandita Krishna in her article “In Search of a River”:http://www.newindpress.com/sunday/colItems.asp?ID=SEC20031219073814 writes about the River Saraswati and the research about it

bq. The Ghaggar Valley is eight to twelve kilometres wide in many places, confirming that it was once a mighty river. The Ghaggar changed course several times due to earthquakes and floods. Satellite imagery revealed that this river once originated in the Siwalik Himalayas and ended in the Arabian Sea. The lost river could only have been the Sarasvati, for this is the only river known to Indian literature and tradition in that region that �disappeared�. All scientific studies conclude that this river had dried up by 2000 BC.

Now this date is significant for many reasons. Rig Veda mentions the river Saraswati more than any other river. If the river dried up by 2000 BC, this means that Rig Veda was composed before that.

Saraswati was known during the Bharata war.

bq. The Mahabharata mentions the Sarasvati, with the Kurukshetra battlefield located to its south. But desertification had begun by the epic period, for the Mahabharata says the river was �disappearing into the desert� and was later �lost�. From the descriptions in the Mahabharata, it appears that the river was still known and was in the process of disappearing.

3000 – 1700 BC, is the time of the Harappan Civilization, and if this is the time the Vedas were composed, it can mean only one thing — The Harappans were the Vedic people.

bq. It is ridiculous not to correlate the two. Archaeology and science are juxtaposing one over the other. What are they telling us? That the Rig Veda was composed by the Aryans long before 2000 BC. That it was composed on the banks of the Sindhu and Sarasvati at the same time that the Harappans were living there. That the Vedic Aryans lived in the cities of the Indus-Sarasvati Valley. That the Vedic Aryans had to be the Harappans. The date of 1500 BC for the Rig Veda never had a scientific basis, particularly in the absence of material culture to confirm it. It was decided by Max Muller on the basis of the biblical belief that the world was created in the fifth millennium BC!

While most history books give the timeline of 1700 – 900 BC for the Vedic period and think that it is different from the Harappan culture, this is the first time, I have seen an assertion that, both are the same.

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Library of Alexandria

When Alexander reached Punjab in 327 BC, Takshashila, the world’s oldest university had established itself as a place of learning. John Keay in his book “India: a History”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802137970/jksobservat-20″ writes

bq. Students went there to learn the purest Sanskrit. Kautilya, whose Arthashashtra is the classic Indian treatise on statecraft, is said to have been born there in the third century BC. It was also in Taxila that, in the previous century, Panini compiled a grammar more comprehensive and scientific than any dreamed of by Greek gammarians.

The glory for the western world is the library of Alexandria, which was sanctioned by Ptolemy I Soter, the successor of Alexander of Macedonia in around 300 BC. While the Maurya empire was in power in India, Euclid (300 BC), Archimedes (287-212 BC), Eratosthenes (276-195 BC) etc were making important science and math discoveries in Alexandria. The Al-Ahram weekly has “an article”:http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/668/he1.htm about the ancient Library of Alexandria and the discoveries made there.

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Alexander's Death

In 326 BC, Alexander of Macedonia was in Punjab. He wanted to continue and conquer the rest of India. But his men revolted and wanted to go back. Alexander decided to travel via the river Jhelum to Indus into the Arabian Sea. According to John Keay in his book “India: a History”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0802137970/jksobservat-20

bq. Ships were readied and he sailed in late 326 BC. The voyage downriver took six months. Stern opposition came from numerous riverine peoples, some of whom have been tentatively identified, and from sizeable townships which clearly included well established brahman communities. Some of these townships no doubt occupied sites beneath which the Harappan cities had already laiin, cocooned in alluvial oblivion, for 1500 years

bq. In an egagement with the “Malloi” Alexander himself was seriously wounded. An arrow stuck him in the chest and may have punctured his lung

But Alexander survived this attack. But two years later, he died in Babylon. Now some experts think that he is a victim of “West Nile Virus”:http://www.sunspot.net/news/health/bal-te.md.alexander13dec13,0,263502.story?coll=bal-health-headlines

bq. According to Marr’s article, Alexander’s counselors told him to enter Babylon from the east. That required him to pass through a swamp – where mosquitoes might breed. The insects carry West Nile virus, which they pass to birds – especially crows – and to humans, spreading the disease.

bq. As Alexander reached the walls of Babylon, Greek biographer Plutarch wrote two centuries later, “he saw a large number of ravens flying about and pecking one another, and some of them fell dead in front of him.”

bq. At a banquet in Babylon, the conqueror drank 11 pints of wine, then grabbed his chest, stricken. In the ensuing days he suffered chills, constant fever and horrible abdominal pain. Many diseases exhibit those symptoms, but one unique factor existed: a strange paralysis that began in Alexander’s feet and slowly moved up the body.

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When did Mahabharata happen ?

bq. The eclipses and planetary observations of the Mahabharata should belong to 1493 BC to 1443 BC of Indian history. The war should have taken place in 1478 BC with an error bond of one year, Dr R N Iyengar from the department of civil engineering at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, said.

This is a “new date”:http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/oct20/n1.asp proposed for the Mahabharata War. Dr. Subhash Kak wrote “an article”:http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=305835 on the same issue in Sulekha and his conclusion was

bq. This leaves us with the dates of 1924 BC and 3137 BC. I don’t think we have evidence at this time to pick one of these two as the more likely one. If one gives credence to the Puranic genealogies, then 1924 BC would be the time for the War; if, on the other hand, we go by the astronomical evidence related to the Vedas and the subsequent literature, then 3137 BC remains a plausible date. If the pre-Nanda Puranic lists are not accurate for the regnal periods, then the War will have occurred a few centuries later than 1924 BC.

This is an issue I had investigated deeply. If you want to know the exact date of Mahabharata, then read my article “When Did Mahabharata Happen?”:http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/column.asp?cid=305815

(thanks ashwini for the link)

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3rd century BC Tamil inscription discovered

Another great “archeological discovery”:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?msid=179977 in India

bq. A rare Tamil Brahmi inscription, dating back to third century BC, engraved in a cave where early Jain monks were said to have resided, has been recently discovered by epigraphists of the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department, at Arittapatti village, about 20 km from here.

During the 3rd century there was a migration of Jains from North India to the south. The most prominent of them was the Chandra Gupta Maurya. After establishing the first empire in India, he retired to a Jain establishment in Karnataka, where he died by starving.

Uttar Pradesh Archeology Dept has launched a very professional looking “website”:http://www.uparchaeology.org

bq. Did you know that the tradition of using reetha, shikakai and anwala as herbal shampoo in India, goes back by 5,000 years? Or for that matter, the ‘Namaskaar’ mudra is 4,000 years old. All this and much more is now be available on the website of the UP State Archaeological Department

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