May one establish what were the deities of the Indus Valley Civilization?

Discussion in 'Hindu Gods and Goddesses' started by rakovsky, Sep 21, 2016.

  1. rakovsky

    rakovsky New Member

    The Vedic period begins in about 2000-1500 BC. Prior to that was the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. At this point, the Indus Valley civilization is quite mysterious. Scholars don't even have a consensus on whether the Aryans reached Hindustan before the climax of this civilization or during its decline. I think that scholars may do DNA tests to prove this one way or the other, but society is still at the cutting edge of using this technology.

    Indus Civilization

    Scholars are generally in agreement, in any case, that the religion of the Indus Valley is continued in some version in Hinduism, although they are not sure exactly how much, depending on whether the Civilization is seen as basically Dravidian. Thus for example there are stories of fights between gods like the well-known Indo-European Indra and other beings who could be gods particular to the Indian subcontinent.

    Can we establish which were the deities of the Indus Valley Civilization? What can we say about them?

    Wikipedia mentions a seated figure with buffalo horns in the lotus position, often thought to be a proto-Shiva Pashupati, or in some theories Rudra or a pre-Aryan version of the asura Mahisha:

    The discussion on yoga is interesting because it suggests a major connection between the Indus society and Hinduism. Not only is the figure in the lotus position suggesting a yogic pose, but maybe so is the image of one standing on his/her head.

    Wikipedia also discusses guesses that the mother goddess cult could be a version of Shakti worship and talks about a image of a being reminding of the Sumerian demigod Enkidu that fought Gilgamesh and befriended him:
    Asko Parpolo attempted to decipher the Indus script, with one of his chapters asking: "Do the 'fish' signs denote dieties?" He wrote:
    That is, Parpolo proposed that the fish sign meant the word "deity" based on how often it showed up in peoples' names and in the titles of priests. His premise was that these people would probably use the word "God" in their name. By comparison, in the Bible and in Mesopotamian and African languages, it was a normal occasional practice for their names to include the word for God. "Isaiah" and "Joshua" in their Hebrew forms are two such examples, as they include a version of the word Yahweh. (Isaiah in Hebrew is Yeshayahu, while Joshua is Yehoshua.) He says that finding a fish pictured as in a crocodile's mouth proves that it's a fish.
  2. rakovsky

    rakovsky New Member

    In a later chapter, Parpolo tries to closer associate stars, gods, and fishes:
    In other words, Parpolo's thinking above proposes an overlap between the fish sign and the star based on Dravidian phonetics wherein "meen" can signify fish or star. This is his conclusion about how fish as a sign denotes star. He then goes on to talk about the importance in Hinduism of stars and how he considers this role of stars and the religious tradition's study of astronomy to go back into the Indus period based on the dating of the Hindu calendar's compilation to 2300 BC in the Indian subcontinent:
    Significantly, a seal from Mohenjo-daro depicts an Indus deity with a star on either side of his head in the Near Eastern fashion. The interpretation of the 'fish' signs as symbols for astral divinities is further supported by different kinds of proofs for the practice of astronomy by the Indus priests. The straight streets of the Indus cities are oriented towards the cardinal directions, which presupposes astronomical observations and the use of the sun-stick, the gnomon.

    The star-calendar used by the Vedic ritualists was adopted by the Aryans in India, for there are no references to it in the Avesta or in the oldest books of the Rigveda. On the other hand, astronomical evidence dates the compilation of this calendar at around the 23rd century B.C., when the Indus civilisation flourished at its peak. Like other urban civilisations, it undoubtedly needed a calendar that adjusted the lunar and the solar time-reckoning. It is in accordance with the traditions of Hindu name-giving as well to expect names of astral and planetary deities to be mentioned in seal texts likely to contain proper names. Astral names were given to Indian children as early as in the Vedic period, at least from 1000 B.C., and they continue to be given today. Brahmans are given two names, one derived from the child's birth asterism. Planetary names, too, can be cited from rather early sources.

    In a later, chapter, "Fish and the God of Waters", he proposes that the importance of the fish sign in reflecting the name for "deity" suggests the place of a "Water God", which he associates with the sitting horned deity:
    Without rebutting Parpolo's broader thesis about the fish as meaning star or deity, I wish to note that a water buffalo may not be the same thing as a water god's special creature. A water buffalo might have a special association with water, but there are many more animals with an association with water, ranging from hippos to dolphins to whales to crocodiles.

    I think that there probably is some interesting connection between the concepts of fish and deity for the Harappans as evidenced by the use of the fish sign. I understand that Enki was associated with fish, but Enki was not the main Sumerian god. The water buffalo god could be flanked in the picture by fish, but theoretically that might not mean that the god's traits themselves are aquatic: The usage in question could be purely linguistic whereby the fish sign signifying "god" or "star" is just used to mark the being as a "god", rather than a water god in particular.

    Further, if we do associate the horned sitting god with Varuna's aquatic properties, then it seems to make him more of a proto-Varuna than a proto-Shiva.

    So in conclusion I don't have a strong opinion at this point whether to associate this particular horned sitting god with Varuna or to consider him a "water god". I will note in passing though that water gods in Sumerian and Egyptian religions had a primordial place. Sumer's Nammu was the motherly creative goddess of the water depths, and Nun and Nunet in Egypt were primordial god and goddess of primordial waters, respectively.
  3. rakovsky

    rakovsky New Member

    Dr.G.Nandakumar was gracious enough to write in my profile a reply:
    My comment is this: I can see how these are Hindu gods in Hindu records from ancient times. I am looking to see primarily from archaeology whether they were already accepted as such in the Indus civilization in 3000-2400 BC.

    Take for example Dyaus Pita. He was certainly a major god worshiped by ancestors of many Northern Hindus. This can be shown by the fact that his worship is spread across Indo-European peoples, as shown by versions in Rome (Ju-piter) and Greece (Zeus). 37% of Pakistanis today are IndoEuropeans, so it means that their ancestors worshiped this god.

    However another issue arises - even supposing that some Indo-Europeans lived in the Indus Valley in 3000-2400 BC, we don't know how many. We don't know at this point if it was still 37% like today or if it was much smaller, like 10%. If not many Indus were Indo-European at that time (3000-2000 BC), then we don't know for sure whether a major portion of Indus society recognized Dyeus Pita like the Indo-Europeans did. This is why I wanted to rely first of all on archaeology.

    Do you see what I mean?
  4. Dr.G.Nandakumar

    Dr.G.Nandakumar New Member

    Do you see what I mean? ....Yes of course ! But, the widespread opinion in scholarship
    since the 19th century has been that Indra had replaced Dyaus as the chief god of the early Indo-Aryans.
    While Prthivi survives as a Hindu goddess after the end of the Vedic period, Dyaus Pita became
    almost unknown already in antiquity.

    Now, Look at my theory as given under.
    You will see the connection & also see the jigsaw puzzle fitting into the slots.

    That is that the 'Original chief of the early Indo-European (Aryans)'
    is SIVA from ATLANTIS (the lost Continent) !

    Atlantic Siva -^- Lemurian Vishnu -^- Polynesian Brahma

    Three Submerged Continents


    and the migrated people who were the
    Red Violet , Blue Black and Yellow White people

    gave raise to this present World of the intermixed people.


    are their respective GODS and the origin of species.

    Europeans,Middle East & Americans are descendants of the Atlanteans!

    Africans,South Indians & Australian Aborigines are descendants of Lemurians!

    Asians, Mongolians, Chinese & Japanese are descendants of Polynesians!

    My above Conclusion is based on further research on
    reading this book 40 years ago : Dr.G.Nandakumar
    'The Riddles of Three Oceans' by- Alexander Kondratov
    (Progress Publishers. Moscow 1974)
    which is an extraordinary research work & very informative.

    In this book Alexander Kondratov takes a look at some of the
    blank spaces in manĂ¢s knowledge that can be filled in by
    further evidence obtained from underwater archeology.

    In the Pacific Ocean
    these include such riddles as the culture of Easter Island,
    the origin of the American Indians,
    the original homeland of the Polynesians
    and the people of Australia.

    In the Indian Ocean
    one of the mysteries is how the ancient
    Dravidian civilisation spread from Lemurians.

    Among the secrets of the Atlantic Ocean
    are the warm and cold legendary islands
    of St. Brendan, Antilia and Thule,
    the extinct tribes of the Canary Islands,
    and Atlantis, a fascinating mystery....
    that has given rise to
    a voluminous body of literature.

    Research Report by :
  5. rakovsky

    rakovsky New Member

    I don't see any need for the word "But" above. What you said in that passage is quite in agreement with what I was trying to say - that religion has changed over the centuries and differs between societies. That this is why I wanted to focus basically on what we can tell most directly from Indus Valley civilization in a way that sees other evidence like Vedic and post-Vedic Hinduism as secondary. or indirect.

    In other words, if we open the Vedas or or later Sanskrit Hindus texts and read about Prthivi, Dyaus Pita, and Indra, it doesn't mean that the people of Harappa basically saw these as their major gods, collectively. These gods are part of the Indo-European Sanskrit of 1500 BC to the modern time.

    Indus Valley culture on the other hand is from 3500 BC or earlier until 1500 BC and scholars have not proven whether Indo-Europeans had become a core component of Harappan society at that time.

    Unless we prove definitely fully scientifically, secularly, and objectively that Aryans were a core part of Indus Valley culture, a researcher cannot assume that Aryan gods with their accompanying Aryan descriptions, like Indra or Dyaus Pita, were part of Indus Valley religion.

    I understand that this is a major area of scientific debate and I am not dismissing all your views, Dr.G.Nandakumar.

Share This Page