Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Indus Valley. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Indus Valley. Sort by date Show all posts

Hinduism - What Was The Indus Valley Civilization?


(3000–2000 B.C.E.) Because the first two sites found, Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, both situated on the Indus River in what is now Pakistan, the civilization is known as Mohenjo-Daro-Harappa.

Other sites along the Indus, as well as a network of settlements reaching east to the upper Ganges valley, south through the present state of Gujarat and into modern Maharashtra, and along the coast of modern Pakistan, have been discovered.

The most concentrated concentration of these communities has been discovered along the banks of the Ghaggar River, a tiny seasonal watercourse that passes across Rajasthan.

Some historians believe it is the ancient Saraswati River's bed.

The evidence suggests that the sites farther south evolved later, but remained important after the cities of the Indus River Valley, notably Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, had faded into obscurity.

The discovery of these sites in the early twentieth century triggered important historical revisions, since it had previously been widely accepted that the Aryans were India's first sophisticated society.

The most notable aspect of these towns is their uniformity—their main city plans were essentially same from place to place (though scale varied), the bricks used in all of them were the same size, and there was a standardized system of weights and measures.

Each city also featured a massive central granary, which housed the grain required to feed such a large population.

Such seeming homogeneity across such great distances points to a powerful and centralized authority, which some experts suggest was religious in character.

A sophisticated sanitation system was another distinguishing aspect of all the cities.

All of the dwellings had water channels, and an intricate network of drains and sewers flowed throughout the city, even in the lowest areas where the houses were the tiniest and the residents were supposedly the poorest.

The archaeologists have named the "Great Bath" a large tank made of brick and covered with pitch at Mohenjo-Daro.

Why was cleanliness and bathing so important to the people who created these cities? According to some academics, this was due to a religious concern for ceremonial purity rather than cleanliness.

Many of the artifacts from these cities have been remarkably well preserved, and they provide us with a fairly complete picture of their material culture, including what they ate (wheat and barley were the primary food grains), what they wore (cotton), which animals they had domesticated (cattle, fowl, goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys, and dogs), and everyday implements.

More than 2,000 miniature seals were discovered during archeological investigations, which are thought to have acted as emblems for merchant families.

Many of the seals have text on them that has never been decoded, as well as realistic drawings of animals and people.

Three of the seals have a horned figure seated on the ground with his upper legs extended and his heels touching.

The image on these seals has been mentioned by some viewers as evidence that the Indus Valley civilization is the ultimate source for the deity Shiva, who does not appear in the Vedas, the earliest Hindu religious books, but subsequently becomes one of the principal Hindu deities.

Similarly, the discovery of a number of sculptures of women with greatly exaggerated feminine characteristics—breasts, buttocks, and genitalia—has led some to speculate that this society was the foundation of the later Hindu religion of the Mother Goddess.

One of the most contentious issues surrounding the Indus Valley civilization is who lived there and if their descendants still reside in India.

A period of interaction between the residents of these towns and a pastoral group of foreigners known as the Aryans is described in the widely accepted idea among Western researchers.

Sanskrit, the Aryan language, has structural similarities with classical European languages and much more so with the Avesta, ancient Iranian holy scriptures.

Scholars have inferred that all of these languages came from a common mother language, and that people speaking this parent language originated in central Asia, somewhere near the Caspian Sea, based on an analysis of the relationships between these languages and the rate at which these languages have changed.

From there, some traveled west to Europe, some southwest to Turkey, and yet others south to Iran and then India.

This hypothesis is therefore almost entirely predicated on observable linguistic similarities and assumptions about the pace of language development, some of which are unavoidably arbitrary.

The skeletons of horses discovered at Indus Valley sites provide the only piece of tangible support for this idea.

According to references based on Aryan religious texts, the Vedas, the horse was an established part of Aryan life, whereas it appears to have been absent from the Indus Valley cities—it is not depicted on any of the carved seals, which show many other animals, and the only bones recovered from the Indus Valley cities are found in the most recent archeological strata.

This idea portrays a time of contact and maybe war between the Aryans and the peoples of the Indus Valley, following which Aryan culture and religion became the dominating force in Indian society.

Until they were excavated in the early twentieth century, the Indus Valley towns were completely forgotten.

Although the Aryan migration idea explains the spread of numerous languages, it is not widely accepted.

Many contemporary Indians believe in the Indigenous Aryan (IA) idea, which claims that the Aryans were India's first occupants and cites relics from the Indus Valley civilization as evidence.

Some followers of the IA are responding to what they see to be a colonialist bias in the Aryan migration theory, which was devised by Europeans and implies that the dominant populations in contemporary India must have arrived from outside.

Hindutva supporters, who associate being Hindu with being Indian, are also supporters.

The IA thesis enables Hindutva supporters to assert that all Indians, regardless of their religious views, are "really" Hindus and hence form one social group.

In contemporary India, where Christians and Muslims are not simply religious groups, but also social and political ones, this argument has significant political ramifications.

Hindutva supporters marginalize Christians and Muslims as outsiders by connecting Hindu identity with good Indian citizenship.

Although such assertions are fascinating, there is little evidence to support them.

The fact is that researchers have retrieved a large number of tangible items, but it is unclear what these objects imply.

We know, at the very least, that this society thrived for over a thousand years.

Its ultimate collapse occurred approximately 2000 B.C.E., according to one idea, due to a severe drought.

Walter Ashlin Fairservis, The Roots of Ancient India, 1975, is a good source of knowledge.

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Hinduism - What Was The Observable Religion, Religious Beliefs, Vedic, And Pagan Practices Of The Indus Valley Civilization?


Although some academics have made conclusive statements concerning the Indus Valley civilization's religion, it is important to realize that all of these claims are very speculative, since they are based exclusively on the remnants of the cities.

Grains, animal bones, remains of fabric, and building foundations provide a strong foundation for learning about this culture's material life—what people ate, dressed, and the sorts of houses they lived in.

Religion, on the other hand, is a significantly more abstract concept.

Not only is it more difficult to deduce what sorts of religion were practiced from the items discovered, but these same artifacts may also be utilized as evidence for radically disparate conclusions.

The things themselves are deafeningly silent and may be interpreted in a variety of ways.

Nonetheless, there are a few remarkable relics among these items.

Ceramic female figurines with greatly exaggerated feminine characteristics—breasts, buttocks, and genitalia—have been discovered at Indus Valley civilization sites.

These figures are very similar to the "Venus of Willendorf," a Bronze Age European picture connected with the worship of female fertility and procreative power.

Given these parallels, it's possible that the Indus Valley culture had a comparable cult.

The sculptures provide no indication of how prevalent this religion was, or if it was tied to other fertility cults or merely a parallel development.

There is no evidence that this cult served as the foundation for Hindu worship of the Goddess as the highest reality later on.

Such statements, at best, are very speculative; at worst, they are reckless and motivated by a hidden goal.

Seals, of which several hundred have been discovered, are the other remarkable relics from the Indus Valley civilization.

Many of the seals include images of animals or daily things, but three of the Harappa seals have an image of a horned figure sitting cross-legged on a little platform.

Because it bears numerous elements connected with the Hindu deity Shiva—the sitting position is linked with the practice of yoga, and the figure's horns reflect his form as Pashupati, the "Lord of Beasts"—some observers have dubbed it a "Proto-Shiva." Proponents of this hypothesis refer to the Indus Valley civilization as Shiva's origins, correctly pointing out that, although Shiva becomes important in later Hinduism, he is almost completely missing from the Vedic pantheon.

The Shvetashvatara Upanishad, one of the most recent of the mystical books known as the Upanishads, identifies the deity Rudra—later associated with Shiva—as the universe's highest force.

Although it is likely that Shiva worship is rooted in Indus Valley culture, anybody who is not predisposed to accept this at the beginning would find this specific evidence difficult to believe.

There is also cryptic text on the seals, and these connections may become apparent if and when this writing is understood.

Also see Veda.


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Hinduism - What Are The Seals Of The Indus Valley?


Small square or rectangular-shaped slabs of soapstone, considered to have been official seals for merchants and other persons, are the most perplexing items from the Indus Valley civilization.

More than two thousand of these seals, which typically combine a graphic picture with an inscription, have been discovered by archaeologists.

The majority of the seal pictures depict normal household animals, mainly the bull, although a few depict mythological species like unicorns or even stranger human beings.

One well-known example of the latter depicts a human person strangling a tiger with each hand, maybe a fabled hero.

A horned guy appears in two different poses, one standing in front of a table and the other seated in a yoga-like stance.

He is often recognized as an early version of the god Shiva and offered as proof that Shiva's religion originated in the towns of the Indus Valley.

Much less is known about the seal inscriptions since the writing system for these inscriptions has never been decoded, despite several ideas.

One of the reasons for the dispute is a difference of opinion on the Indus Valley culture.

Those who think that the Indus Valley civilization existed before the Aryans arrived and was separate from them search for proof in the Dravidian language family, which is linguistically distinct from the Indo-Aryan language family.

Those who believe in the Indigenous Aryan theory, which links the Indus Valley civilization to that of the Aryans, look for proof in the Vedas, the oldest Sanskrit literature.

None of these explanations have been proven conclusive, and the inscriptions themselves add to the difficulties of understanding this writing.

Linguists have discovered 419 distinct symbols, which seems to be too numerous for the script to be alphabetical yet too few for each sign to stand for a single word, as in Chinese.

Because of the modest size of the seals, the inscriptions are usually quite brief.

Because the text is so short, it is difficult to grasp because it lacks the contextual patterns that a lengthier text would provide.

Linguists are working with a succession of brief and unconnected textual pieces in order to decipher these inscriptions.

The writing could most likely be read conclusively if a bilingual inscription was discovered, but in the absence of such a key, the issues may prove intractable.

F. Raymond Allchin's The Archaeology of Early Historic South Asia was published in 1995, while Romila Thapar's Interpreting Early India was published in 1992.

See David Frawley's The Myth of the Aryan Invasion of India (1994) and Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization (1997) for the Indigenous Aryan perspective.


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Hinduism - Where Is Harappa?

Harappa is an ancient city and archeological site in Pakistan, located on the Ravi River approximately 100 miles southwest of the contemporary city of Lahore.

Harappa is one of the cities of the Indus Valley civilization, a highly developed urban culture that flourished in the Indus Valley region between the fourth and third millennia B.C.

Harappa is one of the cities of the Indus Valley civilization, a highly developed urban culture that flourished in the Indus Valley region between the fourth and third millennia B.C.E.

Although archeological work is ongoing in some of the other sites, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro have been the most thoroughly excavated, and the commonalities between these cities have revealed a great deal about this civilization's material culture. 

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Hinduism - Where Is The Ancient City Of Lothal In India?


Lothal is an ancient city and archeological site in the current state of Gujarat, near the Gulf of Cambay.

Between the fourth and third millennia B.C.E., Lothal was one of the towns of the Indus Valley civilization, a highly developed urban culture that thrived in the Indus Valley area.

Lothal was a harbor city, albeit the current location is considerably inland due to silting.

The harbor's size indicates that it was a significant port.

Archaeological evidence reveals that Lothal flourished for about 500 years after Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the Indus Valley civilization's two major towns, fell into decline.

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Hinduism - What Is The Significance Of The Goddess Across The Hindu Pantheon And Believers?

India is home to a variety of gods and goddesses.

Despite the fact that goddesses vary significantly in appearance and personality, they are always thought to be manifestations of a single female deity.

This goddess's vision corresponds to the characteristic Hindu practice of allowing for various appearances of a deity while maintaining his or her fundamental truth as a single entity.

Many of India's goddesses are site-specific deities, worshiped specifically in that location.

Sacred locations (tirthas) are likewise related to this great Goddess since these local deities are all mythically linked as different manifestations of a single great Goddess.

The holy locations, known as pithas or "benches," constitute a network that stretches over the whole subcontinent.

The goddess cult's roots in India are unknown.

Female figurines with gigantic breasts, hips, and buttocks have been discovered during excavations of Indus Valley civilisation settlements.

These statues resemble the Venus of Willendorf, which was discovered in Bronze Age Europe and suggests that women's fertility was the subject of a cult.

The Indus Valley figures have been interpreted by some as proof that the religion of the Mother Goddess started in the Indus Valley civilisation, however there is little empirical evidence to support this assertion.

Another reason why some scholars think goddess worship originated in indigenous Indian culture is because the deities listed in the Vedas, the oldest Hindu religious writings, are nearly entirely male.

Ushas (the dawn), Prthivi (the earth), and Nirriti (the sea) are the only female goddesses mentioned in the Vedic hymns (death and destruction).

Female divinities, on the other hand, were lifted from virtual obscurity to become imagined as the universe's dominating authority.

In the fifth century, the worship of the Great Goddess comes fully developed, apparently out of nowhere.

The Devimahatmya ("greatness of the Goddess"), which is also a portion of the Markandeya Purana, is where she initially appears.

Scholars believe that this cult had existed for some time, maybe as a hidden religious society available exclusively to initiates, based on the complexity and nuance of her representation in this book.

The Devimahatmya goddess is a strong, independent feminine force who can do what the gods cannot.

She is made out of the gods' combined brightness (tejas) and comes into the world to vanquish a demon with whom the gods had fought in vain.

In the three episodes of the Devimahatmya, she appears as Mahasaraswati in the killing of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha, Mahalakshmi in the slaying of a demon called Mahishasura, and Mahakali in the fight against the demon generals Shumbha and Nishumbha.

Many of India's goddesses are patron deities of certain locations and are thought to be unique to that location.

The Shiwalik goddesses, for example, are found only at certain locations across the Shiwalik highlands.

All of these goddesses are considered different manifestations of the same divine energy at the same time.

Each place is identified with a certain bodily component of the ancient goddess, according to the charter story.

Sati commits herself when her father Daksha criticizes her husband Shiva, according to legend.

Shiva takes Sati's body and carries her throughout the world on his shoulders.

Shiva neglects his heavenly responsibilities as a result of his sadness, and the universe starts to break apart.

The other gods ask Vishnu for assistance, fearing that the world would be destroyed.

Vishnu cuts off portions of Sati's body with his razor-sharp discus till there is nothing left.

Shiva journeys to the mountains after his body is fully gone, where he gets engaged in meditation.

Wherever a piece of Sati's body falls, it becomes a Shakti Pitha ("seat of the Goddess"), dedicated to the Goddess in a specific form.

The number of these locations varies depending on the source—some sources mention fifty-one, while others count 108.

Regardless of the number, the sites are distributed over the subcontinent, from modern-day Pakistan's Baluchistan to Assam in the far east and deep into southern India.

Each Shakti Pitha is linked with a certain bodily portion of the great Goddess, has a distinct female deity as its presiding deity, and a distinct Bhairava as her companion.

From this vantage point, the whole subcontinent is seen as a single coherent one, with a network of locations that are linked together like body parts.

As a consequence of the desire to create a location and give it status, several sites may claim the same body component.

For example, Sati's vulva, the most powerfully charged portion of the female body, is often said to have fallen in Assam, while the same assertion is claimed in the Himalayas in Kalimath.

There is no one authoritative list of websites, and contradictory claims are prevalent.

Many Hindus are indifferent by the apparent inconsistency of the same bodily parts being claimed by various places; possibly this reflects the belief that the Goddess is behind them all, and that the particular are therefore less essential.

While some goddesses are solely revered in their own land, such as the Shiwalik hills deities, others have been more widely adored, and some have even become pan-Indian.

The Goddess is represented in the pantheon by two distinct sorts of manifestations.

In the forms of Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati, she appears as a wife and mother.

Although not utterly powerless, these wedded goddesses are often friendly, kind, and fortunate.

Her other incarnations are Durga and Kali, both of whom have male consorts who are considered submissive to them.

These independent incarnations of the Goddess have the capacity to aid their bhaktas (devotees), but they are also volatile and possibly harmful, since their power is occasionally released without control.

This dual viewpoint, according to cultural analysts, illustrates Indian women's cultural views, notably the notion that women's procreative powers should be channeled via the safe, restricting boundaries of marriage.

Because their creative force has been regulated under male control, married women are auspicious, life-giving, and life-sustaining as spouses and mothers.

Unmarried women continue to pose a threat to the family's reputation, since the corruption of a family's women is the fastest way to tarnish its good image.


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Yoga And The Indus Settlements' Gloriousness

The massive Indus-Sarasvati civilization (as the Indus civilization should properly be called) was discovered in the early 1920s, just after the savant world had settled down to the comforting belief that, with the surprise discovery of the Hittite empire, they had discovered the last of the ancient world's great civilizations. 

The Indus­ Sarasvati civilization surpassed even modern scholarship's wildest dreams. 

  • Only around 60 of the more than 2,500 identified sites have been excavated thus far. 
  • Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Ganweriwala, Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, Dholavira, and the harbor city of Lothal (found on the Kathiawar peninsula near Ahmadabad in Gujarat) are the most important sites. 
  • Mohenjo­ Daro, in the south, and Har­ appa, 350 kilometers north, are the most remarkable cities. 
  • The Indus River was formerly their primary means of communication. 
  • The larger of the two metropolises discovered in the Indus valley, Mohenjo Daro, spanned an area of approximately a square mile, providing housing space for at least 35,000 people. 
  • Both cities exhibit careful planning and a high level of uniformity, implying a complex sociopolitical structure. 

The excavations uncovered a complex drainage system, replete with rub­ bish shoots, that is unique to pre-Roman periods. 

  • They also discovered a plethora of bath­ rooms, which indicates the sort of ceremonial ablu­ tion associated with modern Hinduism. 
  • Kiln-fired bricks, one of the best known construction materials, were used to construct the largely windowless structures, which included three-story homes. 

The center of these major towns is a massive castle, measuring 400 by 200 yards and constructed on an artificial hill. 

  • It contains a huge bath (230 by 78 feet), halls of assembly, a large building that was most likely a college for priests, and a vast granary in the case of Mohenjo Daro (grain storage was a governmental function). 
  • The uniform brick sizes and weights, as well as the urban plan, indicate to a centralized authority, most likely of a priestly character. 
  • Despite the fact that no temples have been discovered, we must infer that religion played a significant part in the lives of these early people. 
  • This is mostly supported by discoveries, including patterns on soapstone seals, that bear striking resemblances to later Hindu religious themes while also agreeing with early Vedic symbolism. 

Apart from that, the Vedas include no mention of temples, owing to the fact that the Vedic people practiced their religion at home and only met in public for major official events affecting their tribe or clan. 

Given the prominent importance of religion in other similar societies at the time, archaeologists' reluctance to declare some sites as having been intended for ceremonial or holy use is difficult to comprehend. 

  • Recent excavations at Lothal and Kalibangan have uncovered fire altars whose construction fits in principle with what we know about Vedic fire altars—an important discovery that should not be overlooked. 
  • Not unexpectedly, the seven major rivers that nourished the Indus-Sarasvati civilization spurred shipbuilding as well as marine commerce with Middle Eastern civilizations like Sumer and perhaps farther afield. 

As one would anticipate, active sailing is represented in the Rig-Veda, which has been misinterpreted as the work of an uneducated seminomadic people who lived as herders and enriched themselves by raiding the affluent towns of the Indus on a regular basis. 

The two major cosmopolitan settings of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which share a similar ground plan, thrived for about 800 years, with remarkably little change in technology, written language, or creative innovation throughout that time. 

This feature prompted British archaeolo-gist Stuart Piggott to remark: 

  • "There is a terrible efficiency about the Harappa civilization that recalls all the worst of Rome," he said, "but with this elaborately contrived system comes an isolation and stagnation hard to parallel in any known Old World civilization."  
  • Continuity, on the other hand, does not always imply stagnation. 
  • It may also be the polar opposite—a symbol of power. 
  • Perhaps the Indus-Sarasvati people were rooted in such a deep spiritual heritage that no significant changes were needed to provide purpose and succor to successive generations. 

The Rig-Veda, the literary equivalent of the archaeological items discovered in the Indus-Sarasvati towns, has such a spiritual tradition. 

We can make greater sense of both the tangible and textual evidence when we analyze cultural objects discovered by archaeologists in light of the Vedas. 

  • The many steatite seals (employed by traders) depicting animals, vegetation, and mythical creatures evocative of later Hinduism are of particular significance. 
  • Several of the more over two thousand terra-cotta seals discovered so far depict horned deities sitting in the manner of the later yogins. 
  • One seal in particular, the so-called pashupati seal, has piqued archaeologists' interest and piqued historians' imaginations. 
  • It depicts a deity seated on a low throne surrounded by four animals: an elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, and buffalo. 
  • A pair of antelope-like animals may be found under the seat. 

God Shiva, the arch-yogin and lord (pail) of the animals Soapstone sculpture of a senior priest or nobleman (pashu). 

  • While some of the theories put forward do not stand up to examination, there is no doubt that the figure (whether male or female) symbolizes a holy deity in a ritualized position that has yet to be definitively named 17 but resembles bhadraor goraksha-asana. 
  • There is also strong evidence that a Goddess cult existed at the period. 
  • One seal shows a female from whose womb a plant develops, implying early agricultural culture reproductive beliefs and ceremonies. 

Objects like the later Tantric male generative sign (linga) and female generative symbol (linga) are associated with this (yoni). 

  • Seals showing the fig tree, which is still considered holy in India, and trees with a humanoid figure standing in their branches make it easy to link to the Vedic hymns. 
  • Most significantly, all of this is still true in rural India's religious world today.

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Hinduism - Where Is The Archaeological Site Of Mohenjo-Daro?


Archeological site on the Indus River, roughly 200 miles north of Karachi, in contemporary Pakistan.

Mohenjo-Daro is one of the Indus Valley towns, a highly developed urban culture that thrived in the Indus Valley area during the fourth and third millennia BC.

Although archeological work is ongoing in other towns, Harappa and Mohenjo Daro have been the most thoroughly explored.

The similarities between these sites give information about this civilization's material culture.

The "Great Bath," a massive water tank made of brick and sealed with pitch, is one of the attractions of Mohenjo-Daro.

Scholars believe it had something to do with ceremonial purity.

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Hinduism - Where Does The Indus River Traverse? How Has Its Hindu Religious Veneration Diminished Since The Creation Of Pakistan?

The Indus River originates in the high Himalayas and runs through Pakistan for the majority of its course.

The Indus is one of India's seven holy rivers, along with the Ganges, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, and Cauvery, however its importance has waned in recent years, particularly since Pakistan's establishment in 1947 made it unreachable to most Hindus.

Despite its decreasing religious importance, the Indus is significant historically, since several archeological sites from the Indus Valley civilization have been uncovered on its banks. 

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Hinduism - Where Is Mohenjo-Daro, Bath?

One of the most impressive buildings found at Mohenjo-Daro, the Indus Valley civilization's first metropolis. 

This bath is an oblong pool that measures 39 by 23 feet and is eight feet deep. 

  • It's made of brick and covered with pitch. 
  • The tank was encircled on all four sides by tiny chambers that looked like changing rooms and could be drained via an entrance in one corner. 

The Indus Valley towns placed a high value on plumbing, cleanliness, and sewers, implying that bathing (snana) was associated with ceremonial purity, as it is in contemporary Hindu culture. 

  • With this in mind, the bath was most likely not a bathing pool, but rather had a deeper religious significance. 
  • Walter Ashlin Fairservis, The Roots of Ancient India, 1975, is a good source of knowledge.

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An Ode to the Goddess

Have mercy, O Goddess who relieves the pain of your supplicants!

Be humble, Mother of the Universe!

O world-protecting mistress of the cosmos!

Please, have mercy!

You're the mistress of all that moves and doesn't move!

You are the world's sole pillar, residing in the shape of earth.

You nourish the world in the shape of the oceans, O you of unrivalled prowess.

You are Vishnu's strength, boundless light.

You are the universe's ultimate seed.

This planet is raptured eternally by your intelligence, 

the web of illusion you cast in your endless bliss, O resplendent Goddess!

You are the source of release on Earth while you are gracious.

All the infinite wisdom and sciences live within you, Goddess.

You are all women, and you are the entirety of the universe.

This world is populated entirely by you, O Mother.

How do we thank you because you alone are the most praiseworthy manifestation of the high and low?

Praise be to you, Narayani, whose hands and feet are everywhere, whose heads, mouths, and eyes are everywhere, who watches and listens from every part of existence!

Save us from harm, O Mistress of the Cosmos, whose essence is the earth, overflowing with all forces!

Praise be to you, goddess Durga!

Katyayani, with your friendly face, I salute you!

Protect us from our worries, three-eyed Goddess!

Bhadrakali, I salute you.

Might your terrifying trident, encrusted with flaming stakes, Destroyer of all demons, hold us safe!

May your bell, which annihilates the Daityas' glory when it fills the earth with sound, shield us, your sons, from evil!

Might your blade be auspicious, smeared with demon blood and fat, ablaze with rays!

We bow to you, Candika!

Be generous to those who prostrate themselves before you, Goddess who takes away the world's misery!

Bestow boons upon these planets, worthy of worship from all who dwell in the triple universe!

~ Kiran Atma

The Puranas call several Goddesses, each with their own unique personality. They play a variety of roles, including wife, lover, and destroyer. Brahma and Vishnu's wives tend to be nothing more than appendages to their celestial husbands, with no tales or personality of their own. Yet, like Siva himself, Siva's queen, Devi, or "the Goddess," seems to be a jumble of diverse identities, both beneficent and fierce. It's unclear if the Goddess's various names refer to deities, or if the Goddess's plethora of epithets simply reflect the various qualities of what has only been a single deity.

The origins of Goddesses in Indian culture seem to be in doubt, provided that the Vedas, the oldest literature of this tradition, makes no mention of female deities of any type. However, the issue is even more serious. While their origins can be traced back to Vedic gods, both Vishnu and Siva, for example, have complex personalities in the epics and Puranas that appear out of nowhere, with divine feats and qualities that do not present in Vedic history.

The Goddesses feel the same way. The undocumented religious traditions of the indigenous, pastoral peoples of India who populated the Indus Valley long before the proto-Sanskrit speaking nomadic Aryans invaded northwest India around 1500 B.C. may provide an explanation for this.

For over a century, the Aryans dominated the hybrid civilization that resulted. The Vedas, their oral literature, show a sacrificial cult that worshipped celestial deities like Varuna of the heavens, Indra of the thunderstorm, and Surya, the light, to the exclusion of all Goddesses and earthly divinities.

Female figurines and phallic artefacts, on the other hand, abound in the archaeological remains of Indus Valley civilization, almost definitely used in some religious ritual, and aimed at the fertility of humans, animals, and the Earth. As a result, it's possible that the Puranic Goddesses are relics of non-Aryan indigenous peoples of the Indian subcontinent's fertility worship.

In the course of time their Aryan conquerors increasingly adopted the local religious practices until, in Epic and Puranic literature, the older tales were at last retold in the official language of the Aryans themselves, Sanskrit. Via the same phase the religious traditions and values of the lower classes become part of the upper-class or ruling culture of the country. Except for the fierce and warlike Durga and Kali, nearly every Goddess in the Puranas is married to a deity. Maybe the union of Gods and Goddesses in Hindu mythology represents a convergence that happened in the early history of Indian civilization between two distinct races and cultures.

Certainly, the Goddesses as wives are fully reliant on their gods, just as the tribal people were defeated and made slaves by the invading Aryans. In either case, it appears that the tales contained in the Puranas only include snippets of the Goddesses' lives in Indian culture. Depending on her mood, the Goddess brings fertility or pestilence and death to modern-day rural India. As a mother, she is both the source of life and the terrifying force that takes it away prematurely due to starvation or disease or calamity. Female deities, on the other hand, play several roles in the Puranas.

The Goddess can be a mother, a wife, a lover, or a war-like destroyer, but she is never just a mother. The archetypal Mothers, a nebulous group stemming from and formed by Siva's Shakthi, appear briefly and attempt to devour the earth. No Deity, on the other hand, literally gives birth or manifests maternal or loving qualities. The Goddess is described as the root of the universe with the same epithets as the gods Vishnu and Siva. In this way, the holy Goddess takes life again and again to preserve life, even though she is immortal. Both in a spiritual, mythical and metaphorical context, the price of life and existence is exacted as a sacrifice at the altars of the Goddess.

She is the one who deludes the world; she is the one who gives birth to it; she is the one who grants wisdom when prayed to and wealth when pleased. This 222nd incarnate Goddess from the bosom of Brahma, the creator is Mahakali. The Goddess yet pervaded the whole Brahma Egg, the lord of men within her own cosmic womb. She assumes the form of Mahamari, the world's great destructress, during the terrible period of dissolution or rapture. She is also its unborn source; eternal, she is the lifeblood of all living things, pervading through all manifestation. This vocabulary shows a monistic interpretation of the origins of the universe, but it is not unique to the Goddess. It contains what tends to be generalized conception formulae that can be attributed to any originating god, male or female, without distinction.

The only exceptions are the epithets Ambika, "Mother," and Mahamaya, "Great Illusion," which only the Goddess carries, meaning that hers is the force that comes from casting a magic spell, the insubstantial but tangible dream that is the earth, rather than biological motherhood. Each of the three main male deities, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, has a faithful and dedicated partner or Shakthi to accompany and empower him. Sarasvati, Brahma's wife, is rarely mentioned, but only in passing. She doesn't get her own story as a Goddess. The Sarasvati, on the other hand, is often eulogized in glowing words as the famed holy river that rises from the Himalaya mountains and flows underground at Kurukshetra.

In the Puranas, all rivers are female, and each one is holy and pure, bestowing blessings and benefits on those who bathe in them. They are the locations of hermitages and sacred fords, where devout devotees of all gods are urged to worship. In fact, the Puranas devote a significant portion of their content to praising these hermitages and shrines, which are almost always situated on or near a riverbank. Many feminine rivers, especially the Ganges and the Yamuna, are honored in this way, as are many pilgrimage places, the most notable of which are Prayaga and Varanasi, modern Banaras. More than mere names, all of these rivers carry in essence the spiritual intelligence, vitality and mythical attributes associated with the incarnate and manifest Goddesses they represent on Earth.

The rivers, on the other hand, are scarcely granted complete identities, and Sarasvati, as Brahma's official queen, is practically characterless. The petulant Yamuna, whom Balarama drags about with his plough, causing her to swamp the Kurukshetra plain because she failed to appeal to his drunken whim and present herself by his side so he could bathe, is one lovely exception.

Lakshmi or Sri, the Goddess of Wealth, is Vishnu's devoted queen. It's been said that she who blesses people with wealth can sometimes curse them with a lack of it. Yet, for the most part, Lakshmi continues at Vishnu's side as a lordly adornment. She, too, lacks a distinct personality.

She is not involved in the tale of the Churning of the Ocean, which prominently features her birth. She jumps from the ocean's foam onto Vishnu's chest, where she belongs, and she remains there. Only Parvati, Siva's wife, has a distinct appearance, a unique family history, and a collection of fascinating stories. She is known by many names, including Uma, which means "mother," Gauri, which means "white," and Sati, which means "virtuous."

She renounces the universe to perform tapas with Siva, which is an unheard-of endeavor for a child. By this way, she can obtain control over the god, and they are properly married. When her father insults her divine husband in a former life, she is so angered that she immolates herself in flames, thereby becoming the original divine Sati, or supremely virtuous virgin.

She engages in several deceptions to seduce her unwilling, meditating husband elsewhere, desiring children; the most tragic of these attempts ends in the disembodiment of Kama, god of love or Cupid, who is burnt to ashes by Siva's wrath. Parvati is a dedicated character in both stories: she wants to be the ideal wife and have children. As Sati, she is the daughter of Daksha, the primal progenitor and one of Brahma's wise sons. She is the daughter of the Himalaya mountain, the "little mountain maiden," and is known as Parvati.

This mountain heritage is shared by both the Goddess and her husband, Siva, whose holy abode is Mt. Kailasa and who wanders the mountain fastnesses without a family or clan as an ascetic mendicant. Sarasvati, Lakshmi, and Parvati are all faithful and obedient wives, whether they are vestigial or entirely engaged.

Their task is to help their best half, just as Sita in the epic Ramayana is associated with Lakshmi as Rama is with Vishnu; in any case, the deity, their companion, comes first in importance. The object of Parvati's challenging task, even for the brave Parvati, appears to be to convince the ascetic god to end the austerities that deprive the earth of fertility and marry and have progeny himself.

The majority of Siva and Parvati's stories are amusing because they imitate everyday domestic life that most Earthly societies can readily relate to. There is, though, very little romantic imagery; they are a respectable married couple. The suggested union in Parvati's efforts to seduce her husband is made clearer elsewhere in the Puranas, where god and Goddess are regarded as lovers who place a high sacred value on either physical union, or the imagery associated with it. However, instead of becoming a wife, the Goddess more notably takes on the part of a divine lover. Siva and Shakti are consorts, but Shakti manifests herself in more ways than one, perhaps even before their sojourn in union began.

~ Kiran Atma

Hinduism - What Are The Artifacts And Art Found From The Indus Valley?


Despite the abundance of artifacts discovered in Indus Valley civilization towns, things that may be considered as works of art are surprisingly few.

There are no signs of decorating within or outside the structures, and no monumental architecture has been uncovered.

Several stone statues of:

  • Male torsos, 
  • The head and torso of a bearded man, 
  • A copper statue of a young woman naked except for bangles and jewelry (said to be a "dancer" because her arms and legs are lifted), 
  • Statues of women with elaborate headdresses believed to be icons for a Mother Goddess cult, 
  • And images of plants, animals, and humans carved into the walls of Harappa, a city on the Ravi River.

The latter exhibit delicate and fairly realistic work, demonstrating both a high level of skill in stone working and the ability to create realistic figural figures.

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Hinduism And Hindu Theology - What Is Asceticism?

In its broadest meaning, this term refers to physical discipline, most often the abandonment of normal society and conventional social life in the pursuit of divine enlightenment and ultimate spiritual freedom (moksha). 

Throughout history, ascetic practice has emphasized many recurring themes. 

Celibacy has been one of the most popular for a number of reasons. 

  • Not only does sexual pleasure utilize the senses to entrap a person, but home and family ties are also regarded as a hindrance to serious spiritual pursuits. 
  • The notion that semen is a man's concentrated essence, and therefore something to be carefully guarded, motivates the focus on celibacy. 
  • Although semen must be spent in order to reproduce, it should not be spilt carelessly since it depletes a man's vitality. 
  • Celibacy is said to provide more vitality, which leads to higher spiritual achievement. 

The practice of tapas, or physical austerity, has long been a defining feature, with the belief that enduring physical suffering not only develops character but also produces spiritual force. 

  • Tapas may take on horrific self-mutilation and mortification forms at times. 
  • Other times, a gentler physical discipline, such as a type of hatha yoga, may be used to prepare the body and mind for long periods of practice. 

In general, ascetics' spiritual growth may take a number of routes, which frequently reflect the talents and preferences of the ascetics who pursue them. 

  • Some ways have emphasized conventional study, some have emphasized worship and devotion, others have emphasized physical austerity, while yet others have emphasized meditation and personal revelation. 
  • Almost often, spiritual instruction takes place under the supervision of a religious preceptor (guru), who is responsible for his students' spiritual growth. 
  • Although there is some debate over how long and how venerable asceticism has been practiced in India, it has a long and venerable history. 
  • The most bold assertion is that the Indian ascetic tradition stems from the Indus Valley civilization's religion. 
  • This assertion is based on an old artifact known as an Indus Valley seal, which depicts a person sitting cross-legged as though in meditation. 
  • Whether one believes this assertion or not, the Vedas, the oldest Hindu texts, provide plenty of evidence of asceticism. 

The Vedas describe renunciants like the vratya, yati, and muni, as well as ascetics who live in the woods. 

  • Indeed, the Aranyakas or "Forest Books," as one layer of the Veda is known, indicates that it was written by such ascetics. 
  • Buddhist and Jain literature, as well as certain later upanishads, clearly indicate that monastic living was firmly established by the fifth century B.C.E. 
  • All of these ascetics, whether Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain, were lumped together under the name shramana, which means “to strive” in Sanskrit. 

The theological conflict between the two main religious paradigms, the Brahmana ideal linked with Vedic religion and the shramana ideal associated with austerity, is well acknowledged. 

  • The Brahmana ideal was based on sacrifice, mastery of complex sacred texts, and hereditary priesthood; it was also so expensive that it almost required royal patronage—all of these factors made it the "establishment religion." These concepts clashed with the shramana ideal, which was renunciant, individualist, and focused on inner experience. 
  • This conflict had been partly resolved by the time of the Dharma Shastras (treatises on religious duty); asceticism had been consigned to the last of the four ashramas (stages of life), that of the Sanyasi. 
  • Even yet, there is still tension since, according to these scriptures, a twice-born man cannot become a Sanyasi until he has met his children's children, which would put him in his late thirties. 
  • These scriptures limit asceticism to twice-born males who have completed their householder duties, but they exclude women and low-caste men. 
  • Needless to say, the real world has never resembled the utopian society depicted in the Dharma Shastras. 

Initiated Hindu ascetics may be classified into many main categories based on their organizational structure. 

  • One distinction is based on the patron god of ascetics; the Shaiva are Shiva worshippers (bhakta), while the Vaishnava worship Vishnu. 
  • The Kapalikas, Kalamukhas, and Pashupatas are Shaiva ascetic groups that have vanished; the Dashanamis and Nathpanthis are the only two Shaiva groups that remain. 

  • The Dashanamis are the most renowned ascetics in the world. 
    • They are said to have been founded by the renowned philosopher Shankaracharya and have a long history of emphasizing study. 

  • Gorakhnath, a miracle-working yogi about whom little is known, is the ancestor of the Nathpanthis. 
    • The Nathpanthis are renowned for emphasizing the physical body's change via yoga. 

  • Vaishnava ascetics are more recently organized, and in northern India, they are divided into four groups (chatuhsampradayi Nagas), each named after the founder of the group:

    • Ramananda for the Ramanandis, 
    • Nimbarka for the Nimbarkis, 
    • Chaitanya for the Madhva Gaudiyas (Brahma Sampraday), and 
    • Vishnuswami for the Vishnuswamis. 

  • Both the Dashanamis and the Vaishnava ascetics have formed bands of warriors known as Nagas ("naked") from at least the sixteenth century, and perhaps much earlier. 
    • These soldier-ascetics were tasked with guarding the other ascetics, as well as acting as long-distance merchants and mercenary warriors. 
    • Although these Naga orders still exist today, they are no longer battle-ready. 

  • The Udasis, who worship the panchayatana ("five-fold"), a grouping of five Hindu deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ganesh, and Surya, are another prominent sect. 
    • In terms of religion, the Udasis are in between the Shaivas and the Vaishnavas. 
  • Reform-minded ascetics have formed their own ascetic bands throughout the ages, a process that continues now. 

G. S. Ghurye, Indian Sadhus, 1964; Jadunath Sarkar, A History of the Dasanami Naga Sanyasis, 1958; Padmanabh S. Jaini, “Sramanas: Their Conflict with Brahmanical Society,” in Joseph Elder (ed. ), Chapters in Indian Civilization, 1970; Robert Lewis Gross, The Sadhus of India, 1992; and Peter van der Veer, Gods on Earth, 1988 for more information Also known as panchayatana puja.

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