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Forwarded message from S. Kalyanaraman

Determining the Age of Saraswat Community -- Mahesh Prabhu

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Determining the Age of Saraswat Community

By U. Mahesh Prabhu, Mangalore, 1 June 2010

Who are Saraswats?

In India, there are at least five Brahmin communities who claim
themselves as 'Saraswat Brahmins', including: Gaud Saraswat Brahmins,
Chitrapur Saraswats, Rajapur/Bhalavalikar Saraswat Brahmins, Kashmiri
Saraswats, Punjabi Saraswats, Sindh Saraswats, Kutch Saraswats and
Rajasthan Saraswats. This community, as a whole, has produced eminent
personalities including Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Vijay Mallya, Dr TMA
Pai, Nandan Nilekani, Girish Karnad, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil
Gavaskar, Deepika Padukone, Shyam Benegal, and Guru Dutt.

Though being miles apart from each other for ages all Saraswat
legends claim of their ancestors having once lived on the banks of
now extinct river Saraswati.   Today, however, there is no doubt that
Saraswats are among the oldest living communities in India - still
preserving their own indigenous culture which essentially hails from
the Rigveda - that which is believed to have been written by their
forefathers during their stint on banks of river Saraswati.

Their relationship with Saraswati River

Even to this day many Saraswat's in their daily Sandhyavandana  rite
swears their allegiance to Rigveda. This apart, several of Saraswat'
rituals are conducted by reciting the hymns from the texts from
Rigveda; firmly establishing links between Saraswats, Saraswati River
and Rigveda.

According to two distinguished historians and Vedic Scholars Dr. NS
Rajaram and Dr. David Frawley for Vedic Aryans the holiest river was
"not Ganga but Saraswati." This they said because "In Rigveda Ganga
is mentioned only once while Saraswati is lauded no less than fifty
times." There is at least one whole hymn devoted to Saraswati River.
In a famous hymn, Saunaka Gritasamda, the seer of the second Mandala
lauds the Saraswati as ambitame, naditame, devitame Saraswati:

Sarasvati, the best of mothers, the best of rivers, the best of

To follow the very descriptions given in the Vedic literature,
Saraswati was the greatest river that then used to flow to the west
of the Yamuna but to the east of the Sutlej. According to the seventh
Mandala of the Rigveda attributed to the famous Rishi (Sage)
Vasistha, the Saraswati was a mighty stream that flowed from the
"mountain to the sea" sustaining the lives of Vedic people:

Pure in her stream, from the mountain to the sea, filled with
bounteous abundance for the worlds, nourishing with her flow the
children of Nahusa.

Interestingly, this very reference 'from mountain to sea' gives us a
valuable pointer to Saraswati' geography. But today we have no river
called Sarasvati flowing in this country or elsewhere. The question
then is: whatever became of it? Thanks to archeology and satellite
photography we now know that Saraswati gradually became weaker and
finally dried up completely around 1900 or 2000 BCE or even a little
bit earlier.

According to several recent findings Vedic Saraswati once used to
flow mainly through the channel of what is now an insignificant flow
called the Ghaggar close to Indus thus making part of what we now
know Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro civilizations. Even Satellite photos
have shown that the Ghaggar was once a great river. Paul-Henri
Francfort who recently surveyed the area calls it the "immense
Ghaggar system".

Intensive research carried by Dr. Frawley and Dr. Rajaram has
completely debunked the Aryan-Invasion theory. They have also
strongly established that the so-called Indus Valley or the Harappa
civilization (of which Saraswati River is a part) did not consist of
just a few urban settlements. It was a part of a vast civilization
that stretched from the borders of Iran to East UP, with some sites
as far south of Godavari River; as far as its duration is concerned,
it represents a continuous evolution dating back to 7000 BCE in terms
of the sites and more are being found all the time. So we can see
that this great civilization spanned over 5000 years!

Saraswati's extinction


Map showing the flow of Saraswati from "mountain to the sea"(Left);
Area covered by Indus civilization (of which, as you can see,
Saraswati an integral part) and its overlap with the area covered by
early Vedic Civilization.(Right)

Regarding the ending of this great civilization, thanks again to
recent archeological and ecological findings, we now know how that
end came about. By putting together those evidences on the basis of
archeological and satellite studies it was most certainly due to
gradual depletion of water resources in North India that culminated
in a calamitous drought in the 2200 BCE to 1900 BCE period.

This was, also, a global phenomenon that affected civilization across
an immense belt from southern Europe to India. The Akkadian
(Sumerian) civilization of Mesopotamia was practically wiped out
around 2200 BCE, while in Egypt, the so-called Old-Empire collapsed.
In India itself, the mature Harappa civilization of which Saraswati
was an integral part came to an abrupt end and there were severe
dislocations. As SR Rao observed:

In circa 1900 BCE most of the mature Harappa sites were wiped out
forcing the inhabitants to seek new lands for settlement. They seem
to have left in great hurry and in small groups, seeking shelter
initially on the eastern flank of the Sutlej and the Ghaggar and
gradually moving towards the Yamuna. The refugees from Mohenjo-Daro
and southern sites in Sind fled to Saurashtra and later occupied
interior of the Peninsula.

That this was not restricted to India is clear from a recently
concluded major French-American study in Mesopotamia. The report of
the study notes:

At 2000 BCE, a marked increase in aridity and wind circulation,
subsequent to a volcanic eruption, induced considerable degradation
in land-use conditions... this abrupt climatic change evidently
caused abandonment of Tell Leilan, regional desertion, and collapse
of Akkadian empire based in southern Mesopotamia. Synchronous
collapse in adjacent regions suggests that the impact of abrupt
climatic change was extensive.

Whether a volcanic eruption was sufficient to trigger a drought so
destructive may still be open to doubt; but whatever caused the
draught, its effect now seems established beyond all doubts. The
authors summarize their momentous findings as follows:

The abrupt climatic change that generated Habur hiatus I and the
associated Akkadian-Gutti-Ur III collapse are synchronous with
climate change and collapse phenomenon documented in the Aegean,
Egypt, Palestine, and the Indus. The reoccupation of the Habur plains
[in the northern Mesopotamia] in the 19th century BC and the sudden
emergence of centralized Amorite control... was evidently facilitated
by the amelioration of climatic conditions...


The course of Vedic Saraswati from "mountain to sea."


Source of Saraswati -- the Glacier at Gharwal

These very recent reports make it clear that the ending of Harappan
civilization was a part of a worldwide climate change phenomenon that
affected all ancient civilizations.

Determining age of early Saraswat Community

There is no doubt that Saraswats were the people who played a pivotal
role in the authoring of Rigveda. Thus the age of the Rigveda can
easily be regarded as the age of the early Saraswats.

Thanks to our understanding of ancient metallurgy, we can now say
that Rigveda must be older than 3500 BCE.

Kunal, a recently discovered Saraswati site in Haryana has yielded
silver ornaments. This shows that their metallurgy must have been
quite advanced; for unlike gold, silver never appears in pure form
and has to be extracted by separating it from other metals like
copper. The archeological research dates Kunal to be much earlier
than 3000 BCE.

The presence of silver ornaments at Kunal shows that it is much later
than the society described in the Rigveda. This is because Rigveda
does not know silver.  The oldest Sanskrit word for silver is Rajata
Hiranyam -- literally 'white gold' -- and it is mentioned for the
first time in Yajurveda. This evidently disapproves the currently
ascribed date of Rigveda as 1200 BCE as Kunal is evidently the last
phase of the Saraswati civilization. Interestingly though there are
proofs to suggest a date marking the end of the Saraswati
civilization there is no evidence to suggest its exact beginnings.

Thus Dr. Rajaram has suggested that:

All we have to do is look hard and deep along the Sarasvati and other
Vedic rivers. Such sites are likely to date to 3500 BCE or earlier.
These when found are likely to be from the Age of Rigveda. The key
identifying factor will be the relatively primitive metallurgy of
their artifacts.


Today, though we have archeology telling us that: there was extensive
trade between the Harappans, Egyptians and Sumerians besides
presenting existence of science and mathematics much advanced to that
age, our understanding of the Harappa Mohenjo-Daro or better put
Sindu-Saraswati civilization is incomplete.

Though we have evidence to suggest existence of now extinct Saraswati
we are yet to find evidence to suggest beginning of the civilization.
However with the available information we can fairly conclude that:

Saraswats, who once lived on the riverbed of Sarasvati, have a
history equivalent to that of Rigveda.

The riverbed of an extinct river found by American and French
satellites near Harappan excavation are of Saraswati as the very
description of the riverbed matches with that of Saraswati mentioned
in Rig Veda.

The Kunal excavations discovered on the riverbed of Sarasvati belong
to the Yajurveda period dating earlier than 3000 BCE. And because
Rigveda was written much earlier than Yajurveda the current idea of
Rigveda being authored around 1300 BCE is false.

Given this we can firmly conclude that Sarasvati civilization of
which Saraswats were one an integral part has a history of at least
five thousand years.

The author is a Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and
Ireland, London (UK).


End of forwarded message from S. Kalyanaraman

Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi
Om Shanti

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