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Sarasvati Heritage Project; Parliamentary Standing Committee report

Sarasvati Heritage Project; Parliamentary Standing Committee report in The Tribune, Chandigarh of October 9, 2006

Press Release (14 October 2006)

S. Kalyanaraman, Ph.D., Director, Sarasvati Nadi Shodh Prakalp, Former Sr. Exec, Asian Development Bank, 3 Temple Avenue, Srinagar Colony, Chennai 600015 Tel. 044 22350557

Re: Sarasvati Heritage Project; Parliamentary Standing Committee report in The Tribune, Chandigarh of October 9, 2006

We urge that the reported recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee headed by Hon'ble Mr. Sitaram Yechury of the CPM should be rejected by the Government of India and the Heritage Project expanded in scope. One gets the impression from the Press report that this is an example of suggestio falsi and suppressio veri since the importance of many aspects of the project do not seem to have been fully appreciated.

The expanded scope is essential to cover the multi-disciplinary facets of investigation, exploration and analyses needed to provide a framework for renewal of hundres of tirthasthanas along the Sarasvati River Basin and to promote Heritage Tourism while ensuring the creation of a National Water Grid for effective management of water resources. The project is unique in providing for a developmental opportunity for ensuring effective water-shed management in a region subjected to the vagaries of the monsoon and the semi-arid climatic conditions in the Marusthali (Rajasthan desert) segments of the River Basin which had drained the entire North-West Bharat for millennia. This River is neither a myth nor a legend but a scientifically-proven fact.

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture should be complimented for initiating the Sarasvati Heritage Project which is of national importance as explained in detail in a letter to the Prime Minister by Dr. Jagmohan who was the Cabinet Minister when the project was formulated. There is no indication in the Press report that the Parliamentary Committee has taken note of this letter. (copy attached) or if the Committee ascertained the views of Dr. Jagmohan and other members of the advisory groups. Guidance was also provided during the Rajya Sabha deliberations by Rajya Sabha MPs, Hon'ble Dr. Karan Singh and Hon'ble Dr. Kasturirangan, ex-chairman of ISRO.

There is also no indication if the Parliamentary Committee has reviewed the body of evidence provided in a seven-volume encyclopaedic work of S. Kalyanaraman, 2004, Sarasvati covering facets of Civilization, Rigveda, River, Bharati, Technology, Language, Epigraphs. This work is a compendium of the contributions made by scores of scientists and scholars from a number of universities, scientific institutions, representing a range of disciplines such as archaeology, geology, geomorphology, glaciology, oceanology, hydrology, seismology, space image analyses, tritium analyses by nuclear scientists, and a wealth of references from ancient texts related to the Vedic River Sarasvati.

There is also no indication if the Committee's Report takes into account the remarkable and brilliant work done by Prof. KS Valdiya, who is the recipient of Waldia Life-Time Achievement Award and a Research Fellow in the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Studies in Jakkur, Bangalore to conclusively establish the 1600 km. Long, 6 kms. wide course of Vedic River Sarasvati based on scientific studies. This is also complimented by the work of Dr. VMK Puri, ex-Director, Geological Survey of India who has proved that Adi Badri, near Jagadhri, Haryana constitutes the Haridwar of Vedic Sarasvati as the river emerged from the Himalayan glaciers into the plains at the foothills of Siwalik ranges close to Somb River. ID Dwivedi, Superintending Archaeologist of Shimla Circle has produced superb reports of explorations of three sites just in Adi Badri which have been exhibited in a nearby Tourist Information Centre. The work is further complimented by nuclear scientist Dr. SL Rao (BARC)'s report in Current Science of the results of tests from 800 deep wells after the Pokharan text, of three scientists' seminars organized by Indian Space Research Organization for satellite image analyses following the pioneering work of Prof. Yashpal and Dr. Baldev Sahai who made the announcement in the National Academy of Sciences in 1982. Further reinforcing evidence has been produced by the work of Central Ground Water Authority and Dr. K Srinivasan, ex-Director, GSI who have proved the possibility of constructing one million tube wells in central Sarasvati River basin in Rajasthan alone, using the groundwater resources left behind by a great river whose secular desiccation occurred due to plate tectonics and consequent river migrations (such as the diversion of Yamuna to Ganga and of Sutlej to Sindhu).

A Sarasvati Darshan exhibition was visited by HE President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam who saw the toposheets showing the course of the River Sarasvati and the results of explorations and researches; he recorded an appreciative comment: "Happy to see the hard work done to realize the reality of epic information"; and promised to visit the region as the Revived River Sarasvati flows again with the ongoing integrated water-development works undertaken by Ministry of Water Resources and State Governments of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat all along the Sarasvati River Basin.

It is unfortunate that the Press report presents the project in biased, political terms. The project is not merely the nation's heritage but the world heritage, as the roots of our civilization can be continuously traced from this River basin evidenced by the presence of over 2,000 (out of a total of 2600 sites included in a Gazetteer of Sites prepared by Prof. Possehl) or over 80 percent of sites of the civilization along the banks of this river system, further exemplified by as yet unexplored sites such as Gurnikalan, Bhatinda, Lakhmirwala which are larger in size than the early discovery sites of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. There is clear evidence for the continuity of the civilization right from Paleolithic times to the present day in terms of s'ankha industry, metallurgical techniques, watershed management practices, agricultural systems, cultural metaphors such as the swastika, yogic postures and use of special devices on punch-marked coins comparable to the glyphs used on copper plate and seal epigraphs of the civilization.

The project is founded on an enormous body of work done by many academics, many universities including the work of scholars such as Dr. Madhu Swarup Vats, Dr. V. Wakankar, Dr. V.N. Mishra, Dr. S.R. Rao, Dr. SP Gupta, Dr. BB Lal, Dr. R.S. Bisht, Dr. Aurel Stein, Dr. Alexander Cunningham, Prof. Wilhelmy, Prof. J. Kenoyer, Prof. G. Possehl, Prof. Shivaji Singh, Prof. DK Chakrabarti, Dr. Shashi Asthana, Dr. Shireen Ratnagar, Dr. SL Rao, Dr. J.G. Negi, Dr. JR Sharma, Dr. AK Gupta, Dr. Bidyut Bhadra, Dr. Rajesh Purohit, Dr. Kathiroli, Dr. BP Radhakrishna, Dr. VMK Puri, Prof. S.S. Merh, Prof. KS Valdiya, Dr. D.K. Chaddha, Prof. TR Anantharaman, Shri I. Mahadevan, Prof. Narahari Achar, Prof. RN Iyengar. Prof. DS Chauhan just to name a few among hundreds of scientists and scholars. It is a privilege indeed that our historical studies are getting support from scientists' investigations and contributions –a remarkable example of integrated, collaborative effort indeed which should set the model for future explorations and researches.

Just one site called Bhirrana has proved the continuity of culture from Paleolithic times to chalcolithic times as reported by Prof. BB Lal. The work done by ASI has been exemplary and should be fully supported with additional funds needed for further explorations along the Sarasvati River Basin. "In so far as the Bhirrana (not Virana) C-14 dates are concerned, these have been given by the Radiocarbon Laboratory of the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, and are as follows:
Sample No. BS 2314 -- Calibrated age, 1 Sigma: 4536, 4506, 4504 BCE
Sample No. BS 2318 -- Calibrated age, 1 Sigma: 5041 BCE
Sample No. BS 2333 -- Calibrated age, 1 Sigma: 6439 BCE"

Here Dr Lal refers to the site called BHIRRANA that in many articles was mentioned as Virana or Bhirdana. The range 4504- 6439 BCE corresponds to the Neolithic period of this site which is at Fatehabad district, Haryana, near Kunal and Banawali. Bhirrana site has 6,25 hectares. The upper levels were excavated by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) for two field seasons during 2003-04 and 2004-05. The excavation has revealed a well planned fortified Mature Harappan town datable to 3rd millennium BCE. The massive fortification wall of the town was made of mud bricks. The houses were made of mud bricks. The other important findings from the excavation include steatite seals, beads of semi-precious stones, celts and bangles belonging to Mature period. During field season 2005-06 it was anounced by ASI Director Dr B R Mani that earlier layers were found. And journalists started to talk of an older civilization than Indus:" This points to the possibility of identifying Vedic people archaeologically.

Recent discoveries have shown the link between Sarasvati culture (north-west Bharatam) and Kaveri culture (southern Bharatam). A discovery of the century relates to a stone celt of Neolithic times (perhaps over 3000 years' old) containing Sarasvati hieroglyphs (Indus script symbols and pictorials). S'ankha industry evidenced by a woman's burial in Mehergarh (dated to 6500 BCE, that is 8500 years ago) continues even today as an industry in Kizhakkarai near Tiruchendur with an annual turnover of Rs. 50 crores. The cire perdue (lost-wax) technique used to make bronze statues in Mohenjodaro continues even today in Swamimalai on the banks of River Kaveri to make bronze utsavamurti (utsava bera). Punch-marked coins found in Karur of the Sangam Age contain symbols taken from Sarasvati hieroglyphs. S'ivalinga found in Harappa indicate the continuing tradition of s'iva worship; the wearing of sindhur at the parting of the hair by married woman is a tradition which was found on two terracotta toys of Nausharo (circa 2400 Before Common Era); similarly the tradition of yoga is depicted on terracotta toys of Harappa, Kalibangan and Mohenjodaro. A ploughed field was also discovered in Kalibangan pointing to the domestication of rice cultivation over 4000 years ago. A river named Kaveri joins the River Narmada at Omkares'war – a jyotirlinga tirthasthanam. There are thus clear indications of link between Sarasvati River Basin and Kaveri River Basin consistent with the tradition of Mother worship and S'iva worship during the entire length and breadth of the nation, from Rameshwaram to Badrinath, from Hinglaj of Baluchistan, Dwaraka in Gujarat to Kamakshya in Assam. We have to investigate if the present-day Kaveri people moved northwards towards Narmada and linked up with the Sarasvati people in the north-west Bharatam, building up a riverine-maritime civilization of an extraordinary expanse and scope unparalleled by any comparable civilization of the times. The contacts with Central Asia and with Iraq (Mesopotamia) have also been well-documented. We have to document the cultural interactions along the 63000 km. long Indian Ocean Rim from pre-historic times. We also have to document the contributions made by kula, jaati and janajaati to the ethos, traditions of Bharatiya civilization and enrichment of cultural contacts with the people extending from the Himalayan ranges to the Indian Ocean Rim as a riverine-maritime pilgrims' progress through millennia.

Croats (of erstwhile Yugoslavia, now constituting the nation of Croatia) claim their roots from Sarasvati (Sarasvat – Haraquaiti – Hravat – Kravat – Croat). Avestan tradition closely parallels the Vedic tradition as evidenced by the texts and are areas for further researches and exploration.

It is the responsibility of the Government of India to pursue the laudable objectives with which the erstwhile colonial regime set up the Archaeological Survey of India. The results of the work of ASI have revolutionized our understanding of chronology and history of the people of Bharatam (Bharatam Janam mentioned by Rishi Vishwamitra in the Rigveda). We should not be in a state of denial about our magnificent heritage which is the world heritage. We would recommend that Ministry of Culture and Tourism should work towards gaining recognition from UNESCO of the entire Sarasvati River Basin as a World Heritage River Basin. See map of the river at based on a map published by Marius Fontaine in French in the year 1881. Click This map from a French encyclopaedia dated to 1881 is the clearest proof that the River Sarasvati is neither a myth nor a Hindu agenda. It is an international celebration, a matter of world heritage which every citizen of the world should be proud of. A dhvaja stambham has been set up at Mohangarh, 55 kms. west of Jaisalmer, hailing this Nahar as Sarasvati Mahanadi Rupa.

1. Map of Sapta Sindhu (Nation of Seven Rivers): Theatre of Panchajanaah, Five Peoples by Marius Fontane, 1881, Histoire Universelle, Inde Vedique (de 1800 a 800 av. J.C.), Alphonse Lemerre, Editeur, Paris Click
2. Map of Vedic River Sarasvati (KS Valdiya).

s. kalyanaraman


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