The Lost Vedic River Sarasvati, Part 2


BY: SUN STAFF - 1.10 2020

A serial presentation of writings about the sacred River Sarasvati.

Indologists C.F. Oldham (1893) and A. Stein ( 1942) had no hesitation in identifying the Ghaggar-Hakra combine with the Rigvedic Sarasvati River. In fact , Stein's 1942 paper bears the caption, A Survey of Ancient Sites along the "Lost" Saraswati River:

'In the basin of this Rigvedic Sarasvati, westwards up to the Indus and even down to Gujarat, there flourished in the third Millennium BCE a mighty civilization which in many ways overshadowed some of the other contemporary civilizations of the ancient world. Having been excavated first at Harappa, this civilization come to be known as the Harappan Civilization. With the excavations at Mohenjo-daro on the Indus, it was give a name after that river. During the past five decades, hundreds of sites have been discovered in the Sarasvati basin in India and Pakistan, and thus a new name has come into vogue, namely the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization. Indeed, call by it by any name, the rose will always smell sweet!

Excavated on the Indian side, one may refer to a few important sites: viz. Kalibangan, Banawali, Rakhigarhi, Dhalewan, Rupnagar , Kunal and Bhirrana. Each one of these has added something new to our knowledge since the days when Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were excavated. But here we shall refer only briefly to some of these discoveries.

Kalibangan, located on the left bank of the Ghaggar in Hanumangarh District of Rajasthan, has shown for the first time that not only was the smaller part of the settlement, called the 'Citadel', fortified but the larger one, known as the 'Lower Town', was as well. Subsequent excavations at many of the other sites on the Sarasvati, mentioned above, like those in Gujarat in India and even at Harappa itself in Pakistan, have shown that the putting up of fortifications around both the units of the settlement was indeed a normal feature with the Harappans. Further, the streets at Kalibangan show that in width, these bore an inter se ratio of 1:2:3:4, the actual measurements being 1.8, 3.6, 5.4 and 7.2 meters. What a meticulous layout!



These sites have also negated the one-time theory that the Harappan civilization was 'monotonous'. Indeed, each site has shown its own features in respect of the integration of the two units, namely the 'Citadel' and the 'Lower Town'. Though not located in the Sarasvati Valley, we may draw attention to Dholavira in Gujarat (Bhist 1991), which consisted of three units, viz. the Citadel, the Middle Town and the Lower Town. Such divisions of the settlement do call for a re-assessment of the socio-political set-up of the Harappan civilization.

Kalibangan has brought to light a sizeable settlement which preceded the Mature Harappan stage. But even this settlement was fortified. Further, two no less remarkable observations were made about this Early Harappan township.