Historically, when (and why) did Ganga become a holy river? Is it after Sarasvati dried up?

Historically, when (and why) did Ganga become a holy river? Is it after Sarasvati dried up?

According to the Nadistuti Sukta (Sanskrit: नदिस्तुति सूक्त), "hymn of praise of rivers", which is hymn 10.75 of the Rigveda:

There were 25 rivers and the most important was the Sindhu river and the sacred river was the Sarasvati since the Vedic people were living in the valleys of the Sindhu river (Sapthsandhav Pradesh) and near the Sarasvati river; and later, the Mahabharata mentions that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert.

So my question is:

Is the reason that the Aryans started calling the Ganga a holy river that they moved to the Ganga valley and that the Ganga is the biggest river of Magadh/North India?


During the course of Hindiusm, the local elements played a crucial role in shaping the sacred.

During the Rigvedic Ages, Saraswati and Indus played a crucial role in forming the hymns and myths.

During the Vedic Ages, mainly Upanishads and Puranas, which occurred in the Gangatic Planes, Ganga and it's tributaries gained more prominence and importance. It was in this time when Aryavrat was called 'Sapta-Sindhu' (the land of seven rivers, including Indus and Ganges).

Later as Hinduism spread to Dandakaranya (दण्डकारण्य) and Deccan Plateau, other subcontinental rivers like Narmada, Krishna and Cauveri also gained prominence.


It is due to Saraswati's curse that Ganga is born as a river on Earth and became a sin destroying river.

In Chapter 6 of 9th Book of Devi Puraanam, Naarada asks Rishi Naaraayana- Why did Ganga curse Saraswati to become a river? Why was there a quarrel between Ganga and Saraswati?

Then Naaraayana answers Naarada-

Reason of fight

Devi Puraanam, Book 9, Chapter 6
श्रीनारायण उवाच।
शृणु नारद वक्ष्यामि कथामेतां पुरातनीम् ।
यस्याः श्रवणमात्रेण सर्वपापात्प्रमुच्यते ॥ १६ ॥
लक्ष्मीः सरस्वती गङ्‌गा तिस्रो भार्या हरेरपि ।
प्रेम्णा समास्तास्तिष्ठन्ति सततं हरिसन्निधौ ॥ १७ ॥
चकार सैकदा गङ्‌गा विष्णोर्मुखनिरीक्षणम् ।
सस्मिता च सकामा च सकटाक्षं पुनः पुनः ॥ १८ ॥
विभुर्जहास तद्वक्त्रं निरीक्ष्य च क्षणं तदा ।
क्षमां चकार तद्‌दृष्ट्वा लक्ष्मीर्नैव सरस्वती ॥ १९ ॥
बोधयामास पद्मा तां सत्त्वरूपा च सस्मिता ।
क्रोधाविष्टा च सा वाणी न च शान्ता बभूव ह ॥ २० ॥

Narayana said-
O Naarada! listen I am reciting the ancient tale, hearing which, one gets free from all sins. 16.

Lakshmi, Saraswati and Ganga are three beloved wives of Vishnu, and they live together with harmony always close to Hari. 17.

But one day, Ganga, smiling and full of passion, started looking at Vishnu's face and drew continuous side glances on Him. 18.

Vishnu also smiled looking at Her face for moment. Seeing all this, Lakshmi took no offense, but not Saraswati. 19.

Then Lakshmi, who is Sattva incarnate, smilingly consoled Saraswati. But filled with anger Saraswati did not become quiet at all. 20.

सरस्वत्युवाच ।
सर्वत्र समताबुद्धिः सद्‍भर्तुः कामिनीं प्रति ।
धर्मिष्ठस्य वरिष्ठस्य विपरीता खलस्य च ॥ २२ ॥
ज्ञातं सौभाग्यमधिकं गङ्‌गायां ते गदाधर ।
कमलायां च तत्तुल्यं न च किञ्चिन्मयि प्रभो ॥ २३ ॥ गङ्‌गायाः पद्मया सार्धं प्रीतिश्चास्ति सुसम्मता ।
क्षमां चकार तेनेदं विपरीतं हरिप्रिया ॥ २४ ॥

Saraswati said-
A good husband, who is religious and well qualified, always have equal liking of all his wives. Only a stupid acts contrary to this. 22.

O Vishnu, holder of Gadaa! Your liking to Ganga is clearly visible, and You have same love for Lakshmi too. Only I am deprived of your love. 23.

This is why, Ganga and Lakshmi like each other. And thus, Lakshmi does not do things against this harmony between them both.

The fight and curse of Saraswati to Ganga

सरस्वतीवचः श्रुत्वा दृष्ट्वा तां कोपसंयुताम् ।
मनसा च समालोच्य स जगाम बहिः सभाम् ॥ २७ ॥
गते नारायणे गङ्‌गामुवाच निर्भयं रुषा ।
वागधिष्ठातृदेवी सा वाक्यं श्रवणदुष्करम् ॥ २८ ॥
हे निर्लज्जे हे सकामे स्वामिगर्वं करोषि किम् ।
अधिकं स्वामिसौभाग्यं विज्ञापयितुमिच्छसि ॥ २९ ॥
मानचूर्णं करिष्यामि तवाद्य हरिसन्निधौ ।
किं करिष्यति ते कान्तो ममैवं कान्तवल्लभे ॥ ३० ॥

Hearing Saraswati's words and seeing Her full of wrath, Hari thought for a moment and went out of the court. 27.

Narayana gone out, Saraswati, who is main deity of speech, spoke full of anger and fearless to Ganga, things which are hard to hear. 28.

O passionate and shameless Gangaa! being elated with pride of your husband's love, now you are wanting to show that your husband loves you more. 28.

Let me crush down your this pride here in front of Hari. O beloved of husband! let us see, what your husband do to me.

इत्येवमुक्त्वा गङ्‌गायाः केशं ग्रहीतुमुद्यता ।
वारयामास तां पद्मा मध्यदेशं समाश्रिता ॥ ३१ ॥
शशाप वाणी तां पद्मां महाबलवती सती ।
वृक्षरूपा सरिद्‌रूपा भविष्यसि न संशयः ॥ ३२ ॥
विपरीतं ततो दृष्ट्वा किञ्चिन्नो वक्तुमर्हसि ।
सन्तिष्ठति सभामध्ये यथा वृक्षो यथा सरित् ॥ ३३ ॥

Saying this, Saraswati moved forth to catch hold of Gangaa's hair, but Lakshmi, standing between them, caught hold of Saraswati's hand. 31.

Then Vaani(Saraswati), who is pure and extremely powerful, cursed Padmaa(Lakshmi) that you may become a tree and a river without no doubt. 32.

Even after seeing Gangaa, if you Lakshmi, standing between us, cannot speak anything just like a tree or a river, then let you become them both. 33.

गङ्‌गोवाच ।
त्वमुत्सृज महोग्रां च पद्मे किं मे करिष्यति ।
दुःशीला मुखरा नष्टा नित्यं वाचालरूपिणी ॥ ३६ ॥
वागधिष्ठात्री देवीयं सततं कलहप्रिया ।
यावती योग्यता चास्या यावती शक्तिरेव च ॥ ३७ ॥
तथा करोतु वादं च मया सार्धं च दुर्मुखी ।
स्वबलं यन्मम बलं विज्ञापयितुमिच्छति ॥ ३८ ॥
जानन्तु सर्वे ह्युभयोः प्रभावं विक्रमं सति ।
इत्येवमुक्त्वा सा देवी वाण्यै शापं ददाविति ॥ ३९ ॥
सरिक्त्यरूपा भवतु सा या त्वां च शशाप ह ।
अधोमर्त्यं सा प्रयातु सन्ति यत्रैव पापिनः ॥ ४० ॥
कलौ तेषां च पापानि ग्रहीष्यति न संशयः ।

Gangaa said-
O Padmaa! leave this ferocious Saraswati, what will She do to Me. She is foul mouthed impatient ruined constant speaker of offensive language. 36.

She presides over speech and therefore like quarrels always. Just the way Her qualities and powers are, [37th verse], this foul mouthed Saraswati will speak that way only with me.

She want to test Her and my power. [38th verse]. Let all know the prowess between us. Saying this, Ganga cursed Vaani. 39.

O Lakshmi, just like She curses You, let Her also become a river and go to the land of sinner mortal men. There, She will take their sins, in KaliYuga, there is no doubt in this.

इत्येवं वचनं श्रुत्वा तां शशाप सरस्वती ॥ ४१ ॥
त्वमेव यास्यसि महीं पापिपापं लभिष्यसि ।
एतस्मिन्नन्तरे तत्र भगवानाजगाम ह ॥ ४२ ॥

Hearing this speech of Gangaa, Saraswati cursed Her. 41.

You will definitely go to Earth, and take the sins of sinners. Between all this, Bhagawaan came there. 42.

Hari tells Lakshmi, Gangaa and Saraswati, how they shall become rivers on Earth

[Note: here below, Vishnu uses the words "in some parts you become a river" and "in full parts you stay with me" quite often. To understand this read this- "O Lakshmi! in Your part-incarnation(in some parts of Yours) You shall become a river. And in Your full parts (i.e. in whole, completely, in full parts) You shall stay with Me."

I wrote this note, so that reader may not have difficulty in interpreting what is in some parts and in full parts.]

श्रुत्वा रहस्यं तासां च शापस्य कलहस्य च ॥ ४४ ॥
उवाच दुःखितास्ताश्च वाचं सामयिकीं विभुः ।
श्रीभगवानुवाच ।
लक्ष्मि त्वं कलया गच्छ धर्मध्वजगृहं शुभे ॥ ४५ ॥
अयोनिसम्भवा भूमौ तस्य कन्या भविष्यसि ।
तत्रैव दैवदोषेण वृक्षत्वं च लभिष्यसि ॥ ४६ ॥
मदंशस्यासुरस्यैव शङ्‌खचूडस्य कामिनी ।
भूत्वा पश्चाच्च मत्पत्‍नी भविष्यसि न संशयः ॥ ४७ ॥
त्रैलोक्यपावनी नाम्ना तुलसीति च भारते ।
कलया च सरिद्‍भावं शीघ्रं गच्छ वरानने ॥ ४८ ॥
भारतं भारतीशापान्नाम्ना पद्मावती भव ।

Hearing the reason of fight and curses between them,[44], Lord Vishnu told the three sorrowful Devis, one by one-

ShreeBhagawaan said-
O Auspicious Lakshmi! with some of Your parts, go to DharmaDhwaja's house. 45.

You will be born on Earth without any womb, and become his daughter, and there only, due to misfortune, You will become a tree. 46.

Then You will become wife of ShankhaChuuda, who is Indra of Asuras and who has my parts. After this, You will become my wife again, undoubtedly. 47.

You will be known as Tulasi, who purifies the three world, on the land of Bharata. But for now, with some of Your parts, You become a river and quickly go to [47] BharataBhumi, due to the curse of Bhaarati(Saraswati), and You will be called Padmaavati river there.

गङ्‌गे यास्यसि पश्चात्त्वमंशेन विश्वपावनी ॥ ४९ ॥
भारतं भारतीशापात्पापदाहाय पापिनाम् ।
भगीरथस्य तपसा तेन नीता सुकल्पिते ॥ ५० ॥
नाम्ना भागीरथी पूता भविष्यसि महीतले ।
मदंशस्य समुद्रस्य जाया जायेर्ममाज्ञया ॥ ५१ ॥
मत्कलांशस्य भूपस्य शन्तनोश्च सुरेश्वरि ।

Then, O Gangaa! You will go in some parts of yours, [49], to the BharataBhumi, due to curse of Bhaarati(Saraswati), to become the purificator of worlds and to burn the sins of sinners.

O well armed Gangaa! by Bhagiratha's penance You will be brought down, [50], and will be known as Bhaagirathi, and will be most sanctifying on Earth.

By my orders, You will become wife of Samudra, who is I in parts. [51]. And also, You will be wife of king Shantanu, who is I manifest in some parts.

गङ्‌गाशापेन कलया भारतं गच्छ भारति ॥ ५२ ॥
कलहस्य फलं भुङ्क्ष्व सपत्‍नीभ्यां सहाच्युते ।
स्वयं च ब्रह्मसदने ब्रह्मणः कामिनी भव ॥ ५३ ॥

O Bhaarati(Saraswati)! due to curse of Gangaa, You in some of Your parts go to BharataBhumi, [52], and O Good Saraswati! bear the fruits of quarrel with these wives…

And in full parts, You become the wife of Brahma in His abode.

गङ्‌गा यातु शिवस्थानमत्र पद्मैव तिष्ठतु ।
शान्ता च क्रोधरहिता मद्‍भक्ता सत्त्वरूपिणी ॥ ५४ ॥

Let Gangaa now go to Shiva's abode and Padmaa(Lakshmi) stay here with Me, as She is calm, never angry, Saatvik and devoted to Me. 45.


So, Saraswati and Ganga fight over Vishnu. Saraswati curses Lakshmi because Lakshmi tries to save Ganga from Saraswati. Ganga curses Saraswati because She cursed Lakshmi without any fault. Then Saraswati in return curses Ganga to be a river. And then Vaasudeva Hari comes to settle down quarrel and directs them how they will incarnate.


Are "aryans" didn't move to ganga valley, the yajur Veda talks mostly about ganga, while rig Veda about saraswati.

Mahabharata mentions saraswati dried up, but before it dried both rivers enjoyed equal prominence in Hinduism, nowadays only ganga remains on earth but slowly it's also being contaminated due to powers of Kali Yuga.

In many Tantras and puranas, saraswati is also called purifying, sin removing river. So both were equally important.


Historically, when (and why) did Ganga become a holy river?

As per scriptures Ganga is heavenly river and is considered as holy river even before Bhagiratha brought it on the Earth. As per Valmiki Ramayana: Balakanda-Sarga 41,

भस्म राशी कृतान् एतान् पावयेत् लोक कांतया |

तया क्लिन्नम् इदम् भस्म गंगया लोक कान्तया |

षष्टिम् पुत्र सहस्राणि स्वर्ग लोकम् गमिष्यति || १-४१-२०

[Garuda said to Amshuman:] World purifier River Ganga will drift them who are rendered as mounds of ashes to heaven, and when she who is much adored by all worlds drenches this ash, that River Ganga herself will lead the sixty-thousand sons of Sagara to heaven.

Later on Sagara, Amshuman, Dileepa tried to bring Ganga on Earth and finally Bhageeratha succeeded.

And this all happened many generations before Lord Shri Rama.

As per Puranas, Rama incarnation happened in 24th Treta Yuga then Ganga is considered the Holy river atleast from 24th Treta Yuga.

As per modern scholars even if Rama incarnation happened in 28th Treta Yuga then also Ganga is considered the Holy river much before Ramayana & Mahabharata time.


Few other stories which are related to Ganga:

I. As per SRISHTI KHAND - Padma Purana (page 96),

Ganga originated from Lord Vishnu's feet.

II. As per the chapter Vishnu and Manu of Matsya Purana,

Ganga was there before the the beginning of Vaivasvata Manavantar i.e. (even when Ikshvaku was not born).

But as deluge (प्रलय) happened after that so many people brought Ganga on Earth again.

III. As per Last Chapter of Skanda Purana,

Lord Brahma instructed Ganga by saying- ' Ganga! Go to the earth, where you would be known as Gomti. Sage Vashishtha will lead you to your destination. Just follow him like a daughter follows her father.'

IV. As per the chapter The Origin of Trayambakeshwar - PART FOUR KOTI RUDRA SAMHITA of Shiva Purana,

Sage Gautam requested Lord Shiva to liberate him from the sins of killing a cow. He also requested lord Shiva to manifest the stream of river Ganga that place. This Ganga became famous as Gautami Ganga.

V. Daughter of Himvana (sister of Parvati).

VI. As per Bala Kanda - Sarga 43 of Valmiki Ramayana,

Bhagiratha brought Ganga on Earth, this Ganag is known as Bhagirathi Ganga.

VII. As per Sambhava Parva - Mahabharata,

Lord Bhrahma cursed both Mahabhisha and Ganga to take birth in Mrityu loka (Ganga in Mahabharata as wife of Shantanu).


River Ganga

Since the dawn of history, The Ganges has held the country’s heart captive and drawn countless millions to her banks. The Ganges or Ganga is the longest river in India, and one of the most sacred rivers for the Hindus. It is also the third largest river across the globe by discharge. The Ganges is a 2,525 km trans-boundary river of Asia that rises in the western Himalayas and flows through India and Bangladesh. For Indians, it is a symbol of faith, and has been a source of livelihood for a large number of people. When it enters West Bengal, it splits into two: ‘The Padma’ and ‘The Hooghly.’ The Padma River goes through Bangladesh and finally into the Bay of Bengal. The Hooghly River goes through various districts of West Bengal and finally flows into the Bay of Bengal.

History & Origin

For thousands of years Ganga has been pivotal in the economic, social and religious life of people. It is considered a central part of Indian tradition, life and culture. Sarasvati and Indus River were the main rivers of the Indian subcontinent during the early Vedic Age, but numerous references of Ganga have been found in the later Vedic period. It is believed that European traveller Megasthenes was the first one to mention the Ganges. In 1651, ‘Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi,’ a fountain of four rivers was designed and built in Rome by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. It was an art-work that represented world’s four great rivers and Ganges was a part of it.

Image Credit : https://www.negozio.info/ganges-river-delta-alt-j/

Religious Significance

The Ganges is considered to be a Goddess and mother in Hindu tradition. A pilgrimage to Ganges is regarded as a pious ritual and that taking a dip in the holy water of the Ganges can purge a person from all his past wrongdoings. Few also believe that the water of Ganges can cure ailments. Many Hindu families also store Ganga water in their homes as it is regarded as pure and is used before Hindu rituals. Many religious towns, including Varanasi, Haridwar, Kanpur, and Allahabad are considered holy and thousands of pilgrims visit these places to take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges.

Going by the Hindu Puranas, river Ganges was brought down by a king named Bhagiratha. It is said that Bhagiratha performed Tapasya for many years to bring down the river Ganges that was residing in the Heavens. He wanted to release his ancestors of a curse and that was possible only through Ganges water. Thus, with his rigorous Tapasya, the Ganga descended on the Earth.

According to Hindu mythology, if a person breathes their last in Varanasi and cremated at the banks of the Ganges, they will attain salvation. It is also believed that if a person dies somewhere else, and their ashes can be brought and immersed in the Ganges, the departed soul will attain salvation.

Image Credit : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/riversandcanals/11410720/Ganges-river-cruise-Among-the-ghats-and-gods.html

Economic Significance

The water used for agriculture in the Gangetic plains comes from the Ganges. Chief crops cultivated in the region include wheat, lentils, rice, potatoes, sugarcane and oil seeds. Jute, legumes, mustard, sesame, and chillies are also grown along the banks of the river. The Ganges also contributes to the fishing industry. During summers, numerous adventure activities, including river rafting is done in the suitable stretches of the river. A number of industries have also been set up on the banks of the river as they require a large amount of water.
Many stretches of the river are used as navigation system for transporting goods and people.

The most sacred of all Hindu pilgrimages, the Kumbh Mela attracts a large number of devotees at the banks of river Ganges at Alaahabad and Haridwar. The main event of the Kumbh Mela is the ritual bathing at the banks of the sacred river. Some other activities include, mass feeding of poor, holy women and men, devotional singing, religious assemblies and religious discussions.

Image Credit : https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/mcbride-ganges-lecture-nglive

The pollution of the Ganges is a huge challenge. It has already shown its adverse impact on the environment, ecosystem, and animal and human health. About 40 percent of India’s population across 11 states is dependent on the river for its water, but unfortunately the water is severely polluted with industrial contaminants and human waste.


HISTORY

2. What did the Indus Valley civilizations use their granaries for?

3. How did Chandragupta Maurya react to his fear of his enemies?

A. set up the large network of spies

B. reached out to enemies with peace proposals

C. aggressively attacked most neighboring kingdoms

D. isolated India from all communication from outside

4. Why did multiplication and division become easier during the Gupta empire? A. They were the first to use base-10 numbers.

B. They were the first to understand long division.

C. They created a numeral for zero.

D. They combined Chinese and Greek knowledge.

5. What did Siddartha Gautama do after seeing old age, sickness, death, and finally a holy man in the city streets?

A. vowed to rule his people so that fewer would be sick and face old age and death in poverty

B. shut himself up in the palace and refused to travel outside again

C. took his riches from the palace and gave them to the needy in the city

D. cut his hair traded his robes and became a religious seeker

6. Why is the Bhagavad-Gita important to Hinduism?

A. It contains collected hymns that are important historically.

B. It gives instructions on religious gatherings.

C. It spells out the caste system.

D. It contains ideas about the gods and the nature of the soul.

7. How did the emperor govern in the Gupta empire?

A. through giving citizens freedom and choice

B. through threats and corporal punishment

C. through keeping subjects uneducated and dependent

D. through enriching subjects through trade

8. Which of the following was a result of Asoka’s transformation after the Battle of Kalinga? Select all that apply.

A. increased war with neighbors

B. stone pillars telling of focus on people's well-being

D. decreased education for the population

E. loss of respect for ancestral heritage

B. becoming one with Brahman

C. the first set of sacred hymns

10. What is a main idea of Jainism?

A. the compassion of the Buddha

B. nonviolence to all life

C. silence and stillness during winter

D. knowledge is key to nirvana

11. Where did the Indo-Aryan kingdoms develop by 500 BCE?

C. the southern coast of South Asia

Your first two answers are right.

If you choose three of the other questions and repost them with your answers, I'll check them.


Journal : The River Sarasvati And Its People

The Saga of the Quest for the River Sarasvati :

M.A. Jayashree, M.A. Narasimhan and Haribhau Vaze

There has been many a saga in the history of mankind that has captured the imagination of generations of humanity. In our millennium we speak of adventures of Marco Polo, Columbus’ discovery of the shores of America, Amundsen’s expedition to the North Pole , Vasco da Gama reaching the shores of Bharata and many more. All these look dramatic and fascinating when we realise they were undertaken more with courage and determination than in the security of reliable information. Yet they succeeded in obtaining for posterity enormous benefits in terms of the perspective about the world that we lived in.

One such saga of recent times is the quest for river Sarasvati. Looking back, we see the formidable obstacles that one faced in trying to investigate the history of a river that was non-existent and believed to be a myth : Was there was a real physical river called Sarasvati or was it just a myth, a poetic creation of the Aryans ? If such a river existed where did it flow ? How are we to trace its source, course and termination ? If it did exist : why, how and when did the river disappear ? If it was an ancient river with claims as the cradle of an ancient civilization, is there any archaeological evidence of the its banks ?

Added to the confusion was the reverential and emotive association Bharatiyas had with the River Sarasvati, that made them identify every other river, big or small, with the divine river Sarasvati itself. They still have the same inclusive approach and attitude towards the rive Ganga . Thus the Haradvati that flows in the north-west region was also Sarasvati. It was the third (invisble) river at Sangam, the confluence of Ganaga and Yamuna at Prayag . A branch of Ganga near Calcutta, a river flowing from Abu to Khambayat in Gujarat , the river that joins the ocean at the Prabhasa Kshetra … all are called Sarasvati. Under such a condition, in the hostile atmosphere of the world of historians monopolised by western scholars who were bent upon proving that the existence of river Sarasvati was a myth, that all literary evidence were figments of imagination and who, demanding material evidence for proof, declared that the quest and the search for it was an exercise in futility, there were bravehearts who proceeded undeterred.

The “Quest For River Sarasvati” scholars came together under the banner of Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Samiti. Yes, we call them brave because they staked their international academic reputation to chase a myth and to prove that the seeming mirage was in fact a reality. The academic world scoffed at them and laughed at the venture. Well, it did last for more than a decade. Most of them are no longer with us now to celebrate the fruition of their foundational quest. This post is to honour and pay homage to them.

Our deepest appreciation and gratitude goes to pioneer Sri Sridhara Vaman Wakanker and his team Sarasvati Samshodhana Mandal. At the same time we recall that the quest for river Sarasvati has a long history, spanning nearly two centuries. All scholars and lovers of Bharata and its heritage fell under the spell of this mysterious river Sarasvati, after going through the vast Vedic literature. They did their best to verify the physical existence of the river with tools then available. The voluntary attempts of Oldham (1893), Wadia (1938), Amal Ghosh(1960), H.S. Parikh (1965), WilHelmi (1969), Alwin, Goudse, and Dr. Hegde(1978) merit our scholarly attention.

Extensive studies to survey the invisible course of Sarasvati in 1942 by Gen Cunningham, Arthur A. Macdonnel, A.B. Keith and Aurel Stein were well publicized. In 1963, Dr Narasimha Narayana Godbole surveyed the route of the Sarasvati in Rajasthan. Dr. M.A. Krishnan gives us in detail the course of the river in his work, Geology of India and Burma, published in 1968. Dr M.N. Godbole’s monumental work, Rgvedic Sarasvati, based on geological research throws more light on many of the ticklish problems associated with the quest.

The current quest had its origin in 1981, when Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, Nagpur, was celebrating the District History Day at Kurukshetra, in the presence of Sri M.N. Pingale, the Working President of Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, who drew the attention of the audience to the need and relevance of a research work on the lost Vedic river Sarasvati and the possible consequences of that research on the ancient history of Bharata. Dr. Vishnu Sridhar Wakankar, the senior most archaeologist of the country then, explained with great fervor the archaeological importance of the issue. Immediately there was a vociferous demand from the audience for setting up of a Samiti for such a “Quest.” Thus, the All India Project of Sarasvati Shodhan was born.

It took nearly four years to investigate, consolidate, plan and recruit eminent scholars to form a team to launch the Sarasvati Shodhan project. It was termed as Quest Mandal Expedition and was inaugurated on Tuesday, the 19 th Nov. 1985 by the steersman of the Quest, Sri M.N. Pingale. The Quest Mandal headed by Padmashri Dr. V.S. Wakankar, with a team of scholars belonging to all branches of knowledge, set out for Adi Badri in Himachal Pradesh, the presumed source of river Sarasvati. Points of fact were jotted down meticulously as and when they emerged during the visits. Photographs were taken wherever they were considered relevant. Audio tapes, about 19, were effectively put to use to collect more important information related to the river. The notes thus prepared covered a wide canvas including literary sources, art, history, poetry, archaeological remains, oral observations, traditional references, etc.

The Quest team also recorded age-old stories and songs which were full of reverential references to the Sarasvati River from the Charans who reside in Palloo, Bikaner and Karani Devi of Rajasthan. The Charans, as is well known, make their living by singing folk-songs with stories of past heroes and legends.

The Quest got a fortunate filip when the team was provided with clinching evidence about the dried-up river Sarasvati. The Arid Zone Research Institute gave authentic data that literally broke through the great haze of obstruction holding up the quest. A NASA satellite launched in 1972 had taken pictures of a dried-up huge river which ran from the Himalayas to the Rann of Kachchh. The images had been analysed by many scientists associated with scientific institutions of India but none had recognised its historic worth. The compiled information handed over by Dr. Agarwal consisted of studies done on this dried-up river bed by Bimal Ghose et al. (1979), Ramasamy, Bakliwal and Verma (1991), Yash Pal et al. (1980).

The accurate scientific data regarding the course of the river and the time when it went dry gave a powerful impetus to the Quest. The images sent by LandSat disclosed the following : The width of the Ghaggar Sarasvati bed was on an average between 6 and 8 km from its entry in Punjab to present-day Marot in Pakistan the course of Markanda River got diverted to north-east of Kshatrana and even today the river Sarasvati flows through this route during rainy seasons the dried-up Y-2 route indicated the width of the present day Choutang River and its confluence with Ghaggar near Suratgarh.

It was clear from the received images that the ancient Ghaggar River got bifurcated near Anupgarh, with one branch getting lost near Marot and the other losing itself at Baireena. It meant that during that period the banks of Sarasvati River had spread to these two places. Incidentally, these details point to a possibility of the Vinashana Tirthin Sarasvati, where Balaram of the Mahabharata offered his reverence to his late father, and that it could be situated near about these two places. The Quest team therefore decided to search for :

1. Information about the course of the river from Adi Badri

through the plains and regions close to Sindhusagar.

2. Traces and collections of the remains and reminiscences

But the search route as indicated by the LandSat was a stupendous, as the dried-up bed was expansive. Dr. Wakankar studied the dried-up bed of Sarasvati with his fellow researchers from archaeological point of view. He was thus able to concentrate their month-long quest only on select spots. The Quest team went though Adi Badri, Ambala District, where the Sarasvati slides into the plains after crossing the mountainous area through Kanthghar, and then to the Shivalik mountain ranges starting from Jagadhari(Yugandhara), beyond which stands the mountain Manu, where the Sarasvati, icy and hidden, flows as an undercurrent through the cracks, crevices and cleavages of the mountains.

The team also visited YamunaNagar, Sarasvata Nagar (Mustafabad), and then on to Kurukshetra where the seed of the whole quest had been sown. At Kurukshetra, under the guidance of Pandit Sthanudatta Sharma, the team went to the actual site of the river Sarasvati in the celebrated city. Remnants and reports related to the site gave the team enough information, motivating them to study in depth the city of Kurukshetra in the context of the course of the lost river. Stone implements of the Prehistoric period were collected in a large quantities from all places visited by the team : painted mud-pots of pre-Harappan period, which are also available in the valleys of Sarasvati (Ghaggar) and Drshadvati (Choutang) at Bhagvanpur, Banavali, Sirisha, Mitthal, Raja Karn ka Keela, Doulatpur, Mirjapur, Sudha, Balu, Kudal, Agroha and nearby places. The team also did a close study of 20 to 30 metres long sand-dunes of Bikaner. In Gujarat, the team visited Ambaji mountains, where Bhel trees are in abundance, and then on to Koteshvar where one stream of the Sarasvati flows underneath.

The river, after playing hide and seek, finally emerges on the surface at Siddapur to meet the Nala Sarovar. This mountain range, part of Ambaji, is known as Mainaka, the source of Gurjar Sarasvati. Kunwar, on the banks of Nanuran (Nanukaccha), where the Sarasvati enters the ocean in sevenfolds (saptadha), was the next destination of study. Now Nanu is a sandy desert. Near one of the seven streams, Dr. V.S. Wakankar found pieces of an egg of a Shakha Mrga that helped him to conclude the period of Kunwar could be at least 25-50 thousand years BC. Later, the team came across an old ocean coast harbour called Lothal, which was an ancient city of Nanukaccha. A dockyard specially meant for repair of ships was discovered there. Now there has been an in depth study of Lothal showing the maritime capabilities of our ancestors.

Travelling eastward, on the banks of the Gurjar Sarasvati of ancient times, the team came to the vicinity of the holy Somnath mandir at the junction of rivers Gautami, Hiranmayi and Sarasvati. Thus, the Quest pilgrimage covering a distance of about 4000 km came to an end. Curiously, this Quest did not come up with just a report on the course, date and the civilization that prospered on the banks of the fabled river, as it happens with almost all historical expeditions. It also indicated the possible sites on the banks of Sarasvati for archaeological excavation, the study of which would meet the challenge of proving whether this water mass, which was still flowing underground in most of the places, was really the same river that had its source in Himalayan glaciers.

That seeming impossibility evoked worldwide interest. Many teams of scientists came and did their own investigations and confirmed the existence of the river Sarasvati, proving that most of the narrative history of Bharat, be it folk or of the Vedas, was factual. The spin-off of this information was the opening of another avenue which has never been the forte of history : to resurrect the lost river and bring the hidden Gupta Gamini Sarasvati onto the surface !

That was the task taken up, again, by the Akhil Bharatiya Itihasa Sankalana Yojana under the title Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalpa. The Prakalpa is now engaged in enabling the waters of Sarasvati flow once again along its course, so that millions of hectares of parched land of this blessed country can become green and give life to over 200 million people. It also provides strength to the devout and vindicates their faith when he and she take a holy dip in their sacred river Sarasvati.

The Prakalpa plans to create National Water Grid in order to reach the Brahmaputra flood waters to Kanyakumari, making every river south of Vidhyas in India a perennial one (jeevanadi) and potentially adding 90 million acres of additional wetland, and enabling four-crop cultivation with availability of water round the year. This revolution would empower rural India consisting of more than half a million villages.

The revival of river Sarasvati is proceeding apace, as part of the National Water Grid : inter-linking of rivers, master plan drawn by National Water Development Agency. The waters of Manasarovar flowing through rivers Sutlej and Beas have already been brought to the Rajasthan Nahar (called Sarasvati Mahanadi Roop Nahar). The Sarasvati Nahar waters have now reached up to Gadhra Road in Barmer District, after traversing a distance of about 1000 km. Another 150 km extension of this Nahar will ensure that Sarasvati River waters will reach Rann of Kachchh and Gujarat.

It’s a miracle of gigantic proportion, my dear reader ! Especially when you consider that the desert of Rajasthan was threatening to extend up to Haryana and even Delhi, the capital city, barely a couple decades before.


MYTH : Ganga mother of the gods

According to Mythology of the Ganges river or Mother Ganga, she is not only the mother of the Indian people, several Hindu scriptures describe Ganga Mata and her children:

A painting of Kartika who is said to be the foster son of Ganga. This painting is dated 1800 AD. Image courtesy: National Museum Delhi.

Kartikeyafoster-son of Ganga

A ccording to the Skanda Purana, the goddess Ganga is foster-mother to Kartikeya or Kartika, Subrahmanya, Murugan, who was actually a son of Shiva and Parvati.

Kumara, son of Ganga and Shiva

T he Shiva Purana mentions that the son of Lord Shiva was destined to salvage Earth by leading the Devatas – the divine forces – to drive out the Asuras – the evil forces – who had taken possession of earth. In order to hasten the birth of this divine son, the Gods decided to steal Lord Shiva’s Bija (seed) by interrupting his love play with Goddess Parvati, at the precise moment of emergence of the Bija from Lord Shiva. The interruption led to the seed to fall on the ground.

Agni – the Fire God, assumed the form of a white dove and picked it up and flew away. Having emerged from Lord Shiva himself, the seed had immense power and fire stored within it – so much that even Lord Agni found it difficult to keep holding it in his beak and he let go off it and dropped it in the Ganges.

Ganga then carried the seed with her and as instructed by Lord Brahma, deposited it in a sacred reed grove in the Saravana forest, situated on her shores, where the divine child was born after 10,000 years.

Lord Shiva then proclaimed that this celestial child be known by six different names, to be known as the son of six different creators. He was to be known as Kartikeya as the son of the Kritikas or the six sacred Pleiades, whose wives had nourished him. As the son of Agni he was to be known as Mahasena. As the forest Saravena’s son, he was to be known as Saravana. As Parvati’s son he would be known as Skanda and as his own son, as Guha. And finally, Lord Shiva proclaimed that the child would be known as Kumara, as the son of Ganga.

Ganesha – Gangeya (the son of Ganga)

P arvati is said to have created an image of Ganesha out of her sacred impurities which became endowed with life after immersion in the sacred waters of the Ganges. Therefore, Ganesha is said to have two mothers—Parvati and Ganga and hence is called Dvaimatura and also Gangeya, the son of Ganga.

In southern India also Vokkaliga Gowda and Kongu Vellalars are said to originate from mother Ganga.

Bhishma – son of Ganga

T he Hindu epic, Mahabharata, tells that the Vasus, cursed by Vashishta, had requested Ganga to be their mother. Ganga incarnated and became the wife of King Shantanu on condition that at no stage shall he question her actions or she would leave him. As seven Vasus were born as their children, one after the other, Ganga drowned them in her own waters, freeing them from their punishment and the king made no opposition. Only when the eighth was born did the king finally oppose his wife, who therefore left him. So the eighth son, Dyaus incarnated, remained alive, imprisoned in mortal form and later became known in his mortal incarnation as Bhishma (Devavrata), who is one of the most respected characters of Mahabharata.


The Adi Ganga

The article sheds light on the Adi Ganga, one of the most significant streams of the Ganges in its lower course, and narrates how the stream (later Tolly’s Canal) which was once the life line of Kolkata transformed into a mere sewer and was ruthlessly slaughtered with the changing politico-economic interests of the state.

Introduction

Cities and civilisations flourished on the banks of rivers, rivulets, canals and creeks—popularly known as “riverine ecology.” The relationship between wo(man) and nature was that of mutual interdependence. This continued till capitalism commodified labour and transformed the sustainable relationship between the social and ecological to “metabolic rift” in Marxist terms (Foster 2000). This economic system ensured that nature was commodified in keeping with the politico-economic interests of the state.

Within this framework, the article studies the Adi Ganga, one of the significant streams of the Hooghly River across historical trajectories since the pre-colonial to the present times. Using a political ecology approach it traces the shift in development perspectives that determined the fate of the stream in colonial and postcolonial Kolkata.

The Present Situation of the Canal

One cannot miss the sight and foul smell of a polluted water tract beneath Alipur bridge on the way to the National Library or while travelling from Naktala to Garia in the southern part of Kolkata. This water tract is none other than the Tolly’s Canal which was part of the old route of the Adi Ganga revived by William Tolly between 1772 and 1777.

The derelict condition of this important water channel can be partly attributed to the fact that Calcutta’s canals were excavated for two reasons—trade-transportation and drainage-sewerage-sanitation.

Though it was properly maintained during the colonial period (due to its important role in riverine ecology), in the post-independence period it turned into a sewer because the water channel was neither restored, nor maintained. Huge amount of silt was deposited when the heavy silt laden water of the Hooghly River entered the canal especially during high tides resulting in the increase in the bed level at alarming proportions ranging between 6 and 12 feet (Vasundhara Foundation unpublished report).

A large number of sewerage drains belonging to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) and the Calcutta Metropolitan Water and Sanitation Authority (CMWSA) discharged untreated effluent directly into Tolly’s Canal. These networks did not have lock gates to check and regulate the flow of water during high and low tides. The canal carried effluent from the southern part of the city and discharged it in the eastern marshlands (later called the East Kolkata Wetlands). It was also polluted by household garbage from local residents.

Some schemes and plans were discussed to revitalise the canal since the late 1990s such as the Calcutta Environment Management Strategy Action Plan (1996–97) (CEMSAP). However all plans went into disarray when the metro rail was planned between Tollygunge and Garia, the elevated railway tracks going directly over Tolly’s Canal. 300 pillars, each at a distance of 20 m from the other, were dug into the canal bed.

(Source: Survey Report 2008, Metro Railway, Kolkata. Courtesy: Jenia Mukherjee)

The metro rail project was sanctioned in spite of protests, petitions and litigations from different rungs of society and in spite of violation of Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1986 and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 1994. The strongest weapon to facilitate the implementation of the project against tremendous socio-ecological cost was the archaic Section 11 of the Railways Act 1989, a leftover of the colonial revised edition of the Act of 1890 that provides the railways to construct, “… upon, across, under or over any land, any rivers, canals, brooks, streams or other waters…”

Ganga's Old Stream

The Adi Ganga, also known as the Gobindapur creek, Surman’s Canal and (presently) Tolly’s Canal, was the main flow of the Hooghly River between the 15th and 17th century that virtually dried up due to natural reasons (Roy 2005).

The Hindu legend of the Ganges in Bengal will provide a background on the importance of the river to the lives of people. The king of Oudh, Sagar, who was the 13th ancestor of Lord Rama and the 7th incarnation of Vishnu, performed the Aswamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice) 99 times. He was desperate to perform the yajna one more time, but Lord Indra, the king of heaven, who had already performed it 100 times and earned the title “Satamanna,” was jealous of being displaced by Sagar. He subsequently stole Sagar’s horse and concealed it in a subterraneous cell, where the sage Kapilmuni was meditating. The 60,000 sons of Sagar started searching the horse and ultimately they were able to trace it. They assaulted Kapilmuni as they suspected that he was the thief. Beside himself with anger, the sage cursed them and they were burnt to ashes. A grandson of Sagar came to Kapilmuni and begged him to redeem the souls of the dead. That was only possible if the waters of Ganga (the aqueous form of Vishnu and Lakshmi) could be sprinkled to the ashes. Bhagirath prayed before Brahma, the creator, to send Ganga to earth. Bhagirath led the way as far as Hathiagarh in the 24 Parganas, but was unable to show her the way beyond that. Ganga, in order to make sure of reaching the desired place, divided herself into numerous channels, and thus formed the delta. One of the channels reached the cell, washed the ashes, purified the souls which then could reach the heaven.

Ganga thus became the sacred stream the sea took its name “Sagar” (Hunter 1998) this point of junction of the river and the sea (known as Ganga Sagar where an annual festival is held) is considered a holy place by Hindu pilgrims.

The earlier course of the lower Ganges as it flowed through the Bhagirathi channel was somewhat different from what it is today. At Tribeni, near Bandel, the Ganges branched into three streams (Majumdar 2005). The Saraswati flowed in a south-westerly direction, past Saptagram.The Jamuna (not the same river as in North India or many streams of that name in eastern Bengal) flowed in a south-easterly direction.The Hooghly flowed in the middle it glided down to Kolkata and then flowed through the Adi Ganga, past Kalighat, Baruipur and Magra to the sea.

So far as the old route of the Adi Ganga is concerned, the original channel was quite identical to present day Tolly’s Canal from Khidderpore to Garia and further on to the sea. According to old records, the Adi Ganga emerged out of the Sundarbans at Kakdwip, from where it passed along the Baratala River (Muriganga) and then “found a passage along a creek between Dhoblat and Monosardip, and proceeded first in a westerly and then in a southerly direction until it fell into the Bay of Bengal at Ganga Sagar” (O’Malley 1998).

During the second half of the 19th century, the colonial official WW Hunter reflects, “The old channel is still traceable as far as Hathiagarh Fiscal Division, where it loses itself. This channel long ago dried up, and the bed now consists of a series of tanks. Many large Hindu villages are situated on the banks of the old stream, which is called the Adi, or original Ganga. The Hindus still consider the route of the channel sacred, and burn their dead on the sides of the tanks dug in its bed (Hunter 1998: 14–15).”

The Adi Ganga was also known as the Gobindapur creek as it marked the southern boundary of the Gobindapur villages. The virtual drying up of the river is often connected to it being artificially linked to the lower channel of the Saraswati, whereby that became the main channel for oceangoing ships and the Adi Ganga became derelict.

Excavating Tolly's Canal

Calcutta’s colonial urban planning and development is loaded with the history of excavation of canals and reclamation of marshes. In 1690, Job Charnock, along with his council and a contingent of 30 troops, landed on a narrow strip of land on the bank of the Hooghly River, surrounded by swampy jungles and brackish lagoons on all sides. From several colonial reports, letters, and other secondary sources it is evident that this place was uninhabitable.

In spite of such disadvantages why did the British still select this marshy tract of land as the colonial capital? This was because Calcutta was “ecologically subsidized” (Ghosh 1997) with the Hooghly in the west, Bidyadhari in the east and the numerous tributaries, distributaries, channels and creeks in between as also the saline marshes and swamps to the extreme east that provided unique opportunities to the mercantile British colonisers.

Interestingly, the nomenclature “Calcutta” is a reflection of its hydraulic topography. Calcutta lay in the centre with Sutanuti to the north and Gobindapur to the south. The middle portion of the landmass was marked by indentation in the coastline because of creeks and inlets. To denote this, a Bengali word was used—“kol-kata,” “kol” meaning shore, coast and “kata” meaning cut open. The two words together imply a coast or shore cut open by creeks and inlets (Biswas 1992: 18).

The colonial understanding of the significance of this site in terms of both defensibility and serviceability led them to intervene with and tame the natural ecology (channels and marshes) into waterscapes involving the use of labour and capital in the production of nature (Baviskar 2007). This was the best way to ensure a riverine transport system and simultaneously find solutions to drainage, sewerage and sanitation for the emerging urban site with revenue generation motive at its core.

The excavation of the Tolly’s Canal by reviving part of the old route called Adi Ganga was the first revolutionary step taken by the colonisers to avoid the existing route which was not only circuitous but also impractical for the movement of the country boats especially during monsoons (O’Malley 1998). On 6 July 1775, Major William Tolly applied for permission to excavate a canal between the Hooghly and the salt lakes (to the east of Kolkata) at his own expense. He initially suggested two alignments—one to the north and the other to the south of Calcutta. The latter received the government’s approval. Tolly received a temporary land grant from the government for a term of 12 years and the right to levy tolls at 1 % on the price of all goods carried by country boats that would take up this route using the canal.

Conjectural Map of Calcutta Showing the Course of the Adi Ganga. (Source: Chattopadhyay 1990)

In 1776, the old bed of the Ganges was excavated from its confluence at Hastings, south-eastwards to Garia, a distance of 13 km. Then the canal was excavated till the point it met the Bidyadhari River at Samukpota, a distance of 15 km. Thus, it could provide access to an inner route which led eastwards from Canning (towards the south of Kolkata near the mouth of the Bay of Bengal).

The 27 km long canal (named Tolly’s Canal after William Tolly) was opened for navigation in 1777 to accommodate boats of 400 maunds. After the death of Major Tolly, Mrs Tolly was given the right to levy tolls and it was taken over by the government in 1804. Apart from playing a huge role in trade and transportation, the canal acted as an outlet for waste water of the city.

From various official reports and letters we find that the colonisers invested in timely maintenance of the canal (Inglis 1909). This was imperative as the functioning of the water route accomplished colonial capitalist intentions promising huge returns over investment. There are records that reveal boat traffic and goods carried through Tolly’s Canal during the 19th century (Table 1). It is interesting to note that the water-borne traffic (including Tolly’s Canal and other canals) to Calcutta was seven times more than what was carried by the Eastern Bengal State Railway during the 19th and early 20th century (O’Malley 1998).

Table 1: Boat Traffic and Goods Carried Through Tolly's Canal (1868-69)


MyIndiamyGlory

Who are the people of Israel? The question of ORIGIN of the Jews is a highly debated topic, in spite of overwhelming evidences in the form of documentary and literary references, that they have originated from ancient India. The need to discover and search for unraveling this mystery was started when it was discovered that more than 100 suspected Shivlings were found in mountains of Israel.

The mountains in Eliat was found to have 100 Shivlings, which they promptly labeled as 100 ancient ‘sex cult’ sites as usual for those who don’t have known about Hindu Shivalingams, about the find in Israel. They described the find as ‘as mysterious 8,000 year old stone circles filled with phallic carvings discovered in mountains’. Sites in the Eilat mountains contain phallic stone structures with contained stone circles with phallic carvings pointing to the centre, and researchers believe 349 more sites may exist in the region. This could be during or after the reign of Abraham.

Now comes the vital question – what is the actual truth vis a vis the historical narrative already known to us about the origin of Israel and its Patriach Abraham. Where did they originate from?

What is the origin of ABRAHAM, the patriarch of the Jews? The answer lies in answer to the question “Why did Jews come to Bharatam after they were prosecuted in their home countries in ancient times?” Before we analyse it let’s us see their timeline one by one.

The ancient JEWISH settlements of India:

BENE ISRAELI

It is the Bene Israel who predominate the Jewish presence in India. Their story is an old one. How old? It is and will continue to be a scholarly dispute. Some say that they came from the ancient kingdom of Israel after they were defeated by the Assyrian king in 722 B.C.E. Some believe that when the kingdom of Judah was destroyed and Jerusalem taken by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E., some of the Jews reached the West Coast of India. Oral tradition and probably the most favored is that descendents of the Jews who fled in 175 B.C.E. from the Syrian-Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, were ship wrecked at Navgaon near the port of Cheul on the Konkan Coast, 30 miles South of Bombay. 7 men and 7 women survived and from there the Bene Israel spread to many of the surrounding villages in the Konkan.

JEWS OF COCHIN

The ‘black’ Malabar component of the Cochin Jews, according to Shalva Weil, might have arrived in India together with Solomon’s merchants. These Jews originated by settling in Cranganore and Malabar. They lived there for centuries. In the 15th Century C.E. they took shelter in Cochin further south after being attacked by the Moors and later by the Portuguese. The Cochin Jews settled down in Kerala as traders. The ‘white’ component is of European and other Jewish descent. This could be a continuous immigration and business process since 5th century BCE.

BAGHDADI JEWS

Also known as Iraqi Jews, they are Jewish emigrants from Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, which not only includes Jews from the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, but from other areas of Iraq, as well as Jews from Syrian and Yemenite origin.

CHENNAI JEWS

The so-called Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Paradesi Jews and British Jews arrived in Madras during the 16th century. They were diamond businessmen and were expelled from Iberia in 1492 by the Alhambra Decree. They became known as Paradesi Jews (or Foreign Jews).

Paradesi Synagogue Source: Pinterest

THE JEWS OF GOA

These were Portuguese Jews who fled to Portuguese Goa after the commencement of the Inquisition in Portugal in 1497.

BAGHDADI JEWS OF SURAT

The Baghdadi Jews arrived in the city of Surat from Iraq (and other Arab states), Iran and Afghanistan about 250 years ago.

TELUGU JEWS

The Bene Ephraim (also called “Telugu Jews”) are a small group who speak Telugu their observance of Judaism dates to 1981.

BNEI MENASHE

They are Mizo and Kuki tribesmen in Manipur and Mizoram who are recent converts to Judaism.

This solves the mystery to assume that the Jews always believed that a safe sanctuary existed for them in India and they came because it is the birth place and origin of their ancestors and the idea and thought was embedded in their cultural psyche. Same for Parsees whom we shall analyze in another post. The Cochin Synagogue is a living symbol of undisturbed way of life Jews found in India.

The people of Israel (also called the “Jewish People”) trace their origin to Abraham, who established the belief that there is only one God, the creator of the universe. Abraham, his son Yitshak (Isaac), and grandson Jacob (Israel), are referred to as the patriarchs of the Israelites. His edicts match with Hindu tenets of “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”.

Abraham was from Mathura! This fact was surprisingly ignored by the mainstream historians. There is ample literary evidence that Jewish Abraham was from Mathura. In his times there were two rival sects vying for favours of the king – one the LINGAM worshippers and second SHAKTI worshippers. There were many wars between this two sects. He was leader of the group of people LINGAM worshippers, who were finally excommunicated from Mathura by the King of that time to avoid in rival squabbling. Subsequent wars between this two sects were solved by the exile of Abraham as per evidence in Anacalypsis of Godfery Higgins.

Now that may sound a bit off the track but there is inscriptional evidence pointing to the same statement of Aristotle (384-322 BCE) that links Jews with India. This statement is recalled in a fragment by Aristotle’s pupil Clearchus who traveled widely and whose inscription on a tomb of a friend is preserved in the Afghan city of Ai-Khanoum.

The Jewish scholar Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 CE) quotes from Clearchus’s fragment in his Contra Apionem, which has Aristotle say: “Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers they are named by the Indians Calami, and by the Syrians Judaei, and took their name from the country they inhabit, which is called Judea.” (Book I:22).

Though the evidence in inscriptions or documentary evidence does not exist, but analyzing the religions and its methods of observances of rituals with code of the conduct we can safely assume that Abraham was what we would call nowadays a “Lingayat” (worshipper of Shiva Lingam). His was one of the outward journeying tribes from the Vedic fold. According to scholars, those who were defeated in the wars of Mahabharata and those who were affected by catastrophic earthquakes or a long drought that dried up the Sarasvati River around 1900 BCE, abandoned Harappan cities. There were great migrations away in all directions. This could have aided his connections to this land and migrations.

The Clinching Evidence

1. Anyone who has left his beloved lands and moved has always named his new found home in memory of his motherland which he has left and Abraham was no exception. He named his new residence in Egypt today known as AL MATAREA, now called ‘al matarea’. Mataria is a district in the northern region of Greater Cairo, east of the Nile, in Egypt.

2. Historical evidence can be known after long study of existing Persian, Mittani, Egyptian, Sumerian records. In his History of the Jews, the Jewish scholar and theologian Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 A.D.), wrote that the Greek philosopher Aristotle had said: “…These Jews are derived from the Indian philosophers they are named by the Indians Calani.” (Book I:22.)

The Archaeology of Afghanistan Inscribed at the base of the funerary monument of Kineas, the founder of the city of Ai Khanoum. Source: Pinterest

3. The secret of OBELISKS all over the world started with the Obelisk built by Abraham or his descendants which being a Lingayat it is natural that he would build a Shiva lingam in honor of his Lord Shiva. It is believed he and his descendants worshipped Shiva.

Site Name: Heliopolis Alternative Name: Ain Shams, Al-Matariyyah, Mataria, Iunu

Country: Egypt Region: Lower Egypt (North) Type: Ancient Village or Settlement

Nearest Town: Cairo Nearest Village: Mataria

Latitude: 30.129348N Longitude: 31.307475E

4. Obelisks are Shivlings – in reality Shiva’s Pillar Of Light. These are seen all over Egypt, Sumeria, Rome, Middle East, and across the world.

5. A strong point for a common Brahmin-Jewish origin is the fact that both communities have been endogamous priests from the earliest times of their recorded history. It may also be observed in this respect that the Hebrews, as well as their Indian counterparts, Brahmins, consider themselves as the “Chosen People of God”. The Hebrews started their career in history as a “Kingdom of Priests” (Exodus/19/6). Likewise, the Brahmins have also been a “Community of Priests” since the dawn of their history.

6. The cult of Brahma (Hinduism) may have been carried to the Middle and Near East by several different Indian groups, right from the DASHRAJANYA war and other wars including Mahabharata of 3128 BCE after a severe rainfall and earthquake tore Northern India apart, ever changing the courses of the Indus and Saraswathi rivers. Also there is mention of their king in Puranas (the Hindus historical documents though peppered with supernatural element) being killed due to internecine wars and they were forced to migrate.

Literary Evidence

The classical geographer Strabo tells us just how nearly complete the abandonment of Northwestern India was. “Aristobolus says that when he was sent upon a certain mission in India, he saw a country of more than a thousand cities, together with villages, that had been deserted because the Indus had abandoned its proper bed.” (Strabo’s Geography, XV.I.19.)

Clearchus of Soli wrote, “The Jews descend from the philosophers of India. The philosophers are called in India Calanians and in Syria Jews. The name of their capital is very difficult to pronounce. It is called ‘Jerusalem.’”

Abraham’s journey from Ur. Image source: Diocèse d’Arras

“Megasthenes, who was sent to India by Seleucus Nicator, about three hundred years before Christ, and whose accounts from new inquiries are everyday acquiring additional credit, says that the Jews ‘were an Indian tribe or sect called Kalani…’” (Anacalypsis, by Godfrey Higgins, Vol. I p. 400.)

Martin Haug, Ph.D. wrote in The Sacred Language, Writings, and Religions of the Parsis, “The Magi are said to have called their religion Kesh-î-Ibrahim. They traced their religious books to Abraham, who was believed to have brought them from heaven.” (p. 16.)

Megasthenes (350-290 BCE), the ambassador of Seleucus I to the court of Chandragupta Andhra Bhartya dynasty appears to have been aware of the connections between the Indians and the Jews. In the third book of Indica, as available to the Church Father Clement of Alexandria (200 CE), he writes: “All that has been said regarding nature by the ancients is asserted also by philosophers out of Greece, on the one part in India by the Brachmanes, and on the other in Syria by the people called the Jews.”

There are certain striking similarities between the Hindu god Brahma and his consort Sarasvati, and the Jewish Abraham and Sarai that are more than mere coincidences. Although in all of India there is only one temple dedicated to Brahma, this cult is the third largest Hindu sect.

Further Considerations

As per a Jewish scholar, Abraham also founded a school named Bathsheba – which translates to House of Shiva.

The rituals of Jewish people are very similar to those followed in ancient Bharat. They eat only kosher food. They don’t eat food cooked by anyone else other than Jewish people. They follow similar rituals at the time of the death of family member. To the extent that women in their periods can’t touch any one. On close observation it’s astonishing that the Jewish have maximum similarities to Hindu tradition and religion.

Abraham claimed that his ancestors came from ‘Ur’ of ‘Andhaka Desa. ‘Ur’ means a dwelling place. Even today there are many cities that end with suffix ‘Ur’. Delhi was known as Hastinapur. Andhaka desa is Andhra Pradesh. Abraham and Sara – Brahmana and Saraswati could be from there. Genesis, Chapter 11, Verses 28 finds mention about Ur. History of chosen people of God Yehowe starts from there.

Name of AL MATARIYA, former name being Heliopolis, meaning the city of the Sun God is a reference to the Egyptian sun God Ra. The only reference of the Bible to this city is ‘On’.

When a person relocates, his first act is renaming his new place of residence in the name of his old lands and therefore the name AL MATARIYA [ THE MATHURA]. After taking over of the region by Romans and then subsequently Christians, the name “Al Matariyyah” came to be associated to mean ‘the tree of Virgin Mary”.

All Obelisks were symbolic representation of Shivlings as all the ancestors of Jews were Lingayats [not the present Lingayats of Karnataka but lingam worshippers] from Banks of Ganges, who had supremacy fights with the Shakti worshippers and were banished by the kings because of frequent wars. In this religion only men are considered worthy of conducting affairs of the world which is manifested. All Abrahamic religions give no social respect to women!!

India remains the only country which has never discriminated and or prosecuted against the JEWS anytime in history and so on occasion of renewal of ties with Israel by our Prime Minister Modi, this gives us an apt occasion to celebrate diversity of India in Israel and its antiquities.

[2] G. Feuerstein, S. Kak, and D. Frawley, In Search of the Cradle of Civilization, Quest Books, 2001

[3] J.W. McCrindle,j Ancient India As Described By Megasthenes And Arrian, Trübner & Co, London, 1877.

More references:

Related YouTube video – the author Ravikumar Pillay’s response to TOI on reserving the right to sing India’s historical glory. Times of India had negatively criticized Indian History Real Truth Facebook group in its article titled ‘Faking history starts online’.

Visit Indian History Real Truth Facebook group to view related posts. This article is part of ‘JEWELS OF BHARATAM SERIES [TM]‘ by the author.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely of the author. My India My Glory does not assume any responsibility for the validity or information shared in this article by the author.


Oldest Girls’ Names in the World and No.8 Mystery!

There are more wonders in the Rig Veda, the oldest book in the world! Three feminine names are repeated by various Rishis in almost all the Ten Mandalas of the Rig Veda! That too, they always say it in the eighth stanza of those hymns! Mysterious No.8 is linked to the Goddesses!

Those three names are SARASVATI, BHARATI, ILA!

ANOTHER GREAT WONDER IS FROM THE HIMALAYAS TO KANDY IN SOUTHERN MOST SRI LANKA, THEY USE THE NAMES FOR GIRLS TILL TODAY! CONTINUOUSLY FOR AT LEAST 3700 YEARS!

This is a literary wonder in the world! All other Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Mayan goddesses have gone into museums or their corrupted names only are used today.

This blasts the theory, put forth by the half-baked foreigners, that Hindus worship male gods only. There is only one religion in the world, that is Hinduism, that worships the same Goddesses from the beginning until today. No other religion worshipped Goddesses like this. I have already given the names of 30 other names of the goddesses and 20+ names of the poetesses in my earlier posts. There also, Hindus scored another first by projecting 20 plus Vedic poetesses, which is unheard in any part of the world. Tamil Hindus presented another galaxy of 20 plus poetesses 2000 years after the Vedas.

Not only that Sarasvati became Sara and her husband Brahma became Abraham in the Bible. That is, since the ancient Yadu kula Hindus migrated to the Middle East, they retained the Hindu names. Like we name our daughters Saraswati today, Sara’s dad named his daughter Sarasvati. We abbreviated the names as Sarasu or Saras and the Jews abbreviated the name as Sara. I will write about the Yadu=Juda (Y=J) connection another day. Now let us look at the oldest names of the girls in the world.

Ila is more popular among Gujaratis. Sarasvati is more popular among Tamils. Bharati is famous in North India. Shankaracharyas take the name Bharati (Sringeri) or Sarasvati (Kanchi) when they take Sanyas until today. This started in the Rig Vedic days!

What are the APRI suktas? Where are they?

Names of Goddesses are in the Apri Suktas. Apri Suktas are repeated by everyone as a convention. The Apris are various forms of Agni according to Sayana. Apris are divine or deified beings and objects to which the proprietary verses are addressed.

Apris are the collective names of gods and deified objects, according to Ralph Griffith.

A typical 8 th stanza looks like the following:–

“May Bharati with all his sisters, Ila accordant with the gods, with mortals Agni, Sarasvati with all kindred rivers , come to this grass, three goddess , and seat them”.

Apri Suktas: RV 3-4-8 7-2-8 2-3-8, 1-13-8/9 1-188-8 5-5-8 9-5-8 10-70-810-110-8.

These three goddesses are also in the Yajur Veda 28-18 27-17 20-43 and several other places.

Rig Veda has more than 450 poets. We have all those beautiful names of the sages/poets in the Anukramani (Index). Hindus were the first in the world to add Contents and Index to a book!

All the important Rishis sung Apri Suktas in which these three goddesses are invoked in the eighth stanza. What is the significance of No.8? Why did they recite the three names in 8 th Stanza of those hymns? No one knew the answer! Another mystery in Rig Veda!!

Rig Vedic poets are spread over at least ten generations which means not all the poets lived at the same time. It took 300 to 500 years to “see or hear” these many hymns. Rishis are called Manthra Drshta they “saw” the mantras like we see the TV. They did NOT compose them.

Sangam Tamil literature also had over 450 poets. For them to compose 30,000 lines it took 300 years according to Tamil scholars. So, who did tell the Rig Vedic Seers to sing about these three goddesses in the eighth stanza? Was there a grammar book to dictate them some rules? Who did they tell them to sing about these three Goddesses in the Apri suktas? Another mystery!

Sarasvati is the goddess of wisdom. Hindus named the largest river Sarasvati. They praised Sarasvati more than the Sindhu and Ganga. Only when it dried and disappeared into desert, Ganga became more prominent. So anything that nourishes your physical body (by water) or your intellect, they named it Sarasvati. They associated the names Bharati and Sarasvati with the languages. In one sukta/hymn, Bharati is replaced by her other name Mahi.

Various names including Manu are occurring in the Apri Suktas

Controversy about Apri Suktas

Shrikant G.Talageri, in his book The Rig Veda – A Historical Analysis, gives the following:–

Under the title “Untrustworthiness of Anukramani- statements Shown by the Repetitions”, Bloomfield remarks that the statements of the Sarvanukramani betray dubiousness of their authority … the Anukramani ascribes one and the same verse to two or more authors, or to ascribe it to two or more divinities. The Apri stanzas 3-4-8 = 7-2-8 are ascribed in the third book to Viswamitra gathina, in the seventh book to Vasitha Maitravaruni.”

The repetitions do not disprove the authenticity of the Anukramanis in fact it proves the authority of the Anukramani(index):

a)The repetitions in the Rig Veda are representative of a regular phenomenon in classical and liturgical literature throughout the world. Consider for example what Gilbert Murray says about similar repetitions in Greek literature: “descriptive phrases … are caught up ready made from a store of such things: perpetual epithets, front haves of lines, back halves of lines, whole lines, if need be, and long formulae. The stores of the poets were full and brimming. A bard need only put it his hand and choose out a well-sounding phrase. Even the similes are ready made. Quoting this B K Ghosh notes, “All this may be maintained, mutatis mutandis, also of the Rig Vedic poetry.”

In the case of the Rig Veda it is significant that every single repetition pertains to a literary or liturgical phrase. In fact, the more the literary or liturgical the reference, the more the likelihood of repetitions: the longest repetition of three consecutive verses is in the liturgical apri suktas of the Visvamitras and Vasisthas: 3-4-8/11=7-2-8/11.

The composers of the RV were members of ten priestly families, and each family had its own Apri Sukta. In later times, during performance of any sacrifice, at the point where the Apri sukta was to be recited, the conducting Rishi was required to recite the apri sukta of his own family.

Shrikant Talageri used the Apri suktas to decide the chronological order of the family mandalas as well.

Repetitions in Tamil Literature!

Bloomfield is wrong and Gilbert Murray and Talageri are right. The repetitions are not only in the Vedas and Greek literature, but also in the Sangam Tamil literature. Sangam Tamil literature is not religious, but a collection of 2400 secular poems. The repetition is in the oldest Tamil grammar Tolkappiam as well. In fact Tolkappiar, the author of Tolkappiam, has used it unnecessarily, quite contrary to Panini.(Tolkappiar, while describing the six divisions of living beings repeat the same line six times in one Stanza. Another Tamil anthology Ainkurunuru (500 short verses) have got more than 100 repetitions. Oldest of the Sangam literature Purananuru has repetitions of lines, stock phrases and several other clichés. This is the trend in any classical literature.


Ganga Jal – The Holy water of Ganga

Antibacterial Nature of Ganges Water

In 1896, E. Hanbury Hankin (a British physician) after testing the water of Ganga wrote in a paper published in the French journal Annales de IInstitut Pasteur ,
The bacterium Vibrio Cholerae which causes the deadly Cholera disease, when put into the waters of Ganga died within three hours! The same bacteria continued to thrive in distilled water even after 48 hours!
He also suggested that the water of this river and its tributary Yamuna were responsible for containing the spread of this deadly disease cholera in the region in those days!!

Water of Ganges has Anti-putrefaction properties

C.E. Nelson, another British physician noticed that, the waters of Ganga when taken even from one of its dirtiest mouths at Hooghly, by the ships returning to England, remained fresh throughout the long journey!! Normally river water begins to putrefy over a period of time due to lack of oxygen which promotes the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which in turn gives rise to the smell of stale water.

How River Ganga cleans the dead bodies

In 1927, Flix dHerelle , a French microbiologist, was amazed when he saw that only a few feet below the bodies of persons floating in the Ganga who had died of dysentery and cholera, where one would expect millions of germs, there were no germs at all!

In other words, Hindus had for thousands of years rightly believed that Ganga purifies the dead bodies, which is why probably the bodies of even those who died of infectious diseases were offered to this river for purification!

Recent Research on Ganges

D.S. Bhargava, an Indian environmental engineer/professor of hydrology has spent a life time studying the amazing properties of Ganges. He measured the remarkable self cleansing ability of Ganges in an exhaustive three year study which showed that Ganges is able to reduce its biochemical oxygen demand levels much faster than other rivers! Bhargava says that the self-purifying quality of this river leads to oxygen levels that are 25 times higher than any other river in the world.The Ganges cleans up suspended wastes 15 to 20 times faster when compared to other rivers!

In a study conducted by the Malaria Research Center in New Delhi it was observes that the water from the upper reaches of Ganga did not host mosquito breeding, and also prevented mosquito breeding in any water it was added to! On the other hand, water from other rivers were shown to allow mosquito breeding!

Mysterious Power of Ganga Water

There are two major factors which give Ganges its unique ability.

1. The presence of Bacteriophages which gives it the anti-bacterial nature.
2. An unknown factor called the Mystery Factor, which gives this river an unusual ability to retain dissolved oxygen from the atmosphere!

Bacteriophage in Ganga Water

Bacteriophage are those viruses which kill bacteria. What a cat is to a mouse, the bacteriophage is to a bacterium. In fact what Hankin reported in 1896 about the antibacterial nature of Ganges was the first modern observation/documentation of a Bacteriophage ! It was Herelle, (who again observed the anti-bacterial nature of Ganges) who coined the term Bacteriophage (meaning bacteria eater ) for these viruses.

The high levels of oxygen in the waters of Ganga gives it the unique ability to remain fresh over a prolonged period of time. The waters of Ganga when added to other water resources in adequate amount, causes the bacteriophage in it to quickly multiply cleaning the new water resource of any bacteria present in it. Which is why the ancient Indians used to take Ganga jal back home to clean their local water resources! People practice it even today, except that most of them dont know the actual reason!

In other words, the water of river Ganga can be an alternative for using antibiotics to treat bacterial diseases! Ancient Indians who used the water of rivers like Ganga never required any antibiotics, for the very water they used was anti-bacterial in nature! This type of Bacteriophage Therapy has been suggested by many researchers, but rarely tried/tested or practised in the health industry.

In fact it was in the former Soviet Union that the most active research about using bacteriophages to treat bacterial diseases was done at the George Eliava Institute ! This research institute was co-founded by George Eliava and Felix DHerelle after DHerelle introduced Eliava to the wonderful world of Bacteriophages.

End of antibiotics?

Today more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. The world is running out of antibiotics! We need an alternative, and a potential alternative is Bacteriophage therapy.

The emergence of pathogenic bacteria resistant to most, if not all, currently available antimicrobial agents has become a critical problem in modern medicine, particularly because of the concomitant increase in immunosuppressed patients. The concern that humankind is reentering the preantibiotics era has become very real, and the development of alternative antiinfection modalities has become one of the highest priorities of modern medicine and biotechnology. Source Phage International

Phage Therapy Research in India

GangaGen Biotechnologies , a bio-medical research company based out of Bangalore, is now leading the alternative therapy of Bacteriophage based treatment for antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is the first firm to have developed bacteriophage based commercial products. Their first bacteriophage based product was to treat the problem of E.Coli in Cattle.

Industrial Pollution in the waters of Ganga

Having said all this, all along the course of river Ganga, today 27 major towns dump over 900 million litres of sewage/industrial waste into it every day! This nonsense should be stopped at any cost. Humans have no rights to pollute the natural resources of this planet. If we cant handle our waste, we shouldn’t be producing it in the first place. Rather than being an individual’s symbolic effort to fight pollution, it should be an enlightened mass movement of entire humanity to create non-polluting technology out of the science we know.

The very fact that almost all the technology that we possess today in the name of development and modernization is polluting, proves that the technology we have created using modern science is still primitive. It has more to do with our greed, than with science.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, Earth Provides enough to satisfy every man’s need but not every man’s greed.


Final Word

There are many other arguments and counter arguments which I have not touched as I think those are of lesser importance.

Key questions that we have to ask our-self is if we have reached a point where we need to keep all our old theories aside and try our hand at reconstructing a theory based on facts we have discovered in last 50 years?

Here is a vast collection of complex archaeological sites without any known language and here is a very well developed language without any archaeological sites. They probably existed around the same time in the same place. Would it be too much to imagine that they refer to the same civilization?

Let me end this post by quoting from the closing remark of Edwin Bryant in his book “The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate”:

…I will stop well short of suggesting that we do away with the whole Indo-Aryan migration theory. But we do, at the very least, need to reappraise it all again very carefully and make a clear distinction between the data and their interpretations. The implications of the Indigenous Aryan critique for the entire area study of South Asia are far too immense to be ignored or taken lightly…