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Ancient Indian History

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Find Provides New Insight into Widespread Trade, Cultural Exchange in Region

Excavating at the ancient town of Gilund in southern Rajasthan, India, one of the largest sites of the little-known Ahar-Banas culture, archaeologists led by teams from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and Deccan College, Pune, India have discovered a bin filled with more than 100 seal impressions (many shown here on the left) dating to 2100-1700 B.C. The existence of the seals, and their particular styles, offer surprising new evidence for the apparent complexity of this non-literate, late and post-Indus Civilization-era culture, according to Dr. Gregory Possehl, UPM curator and excavation co-director.

Dr. Possehl, collaborator Dr. Vasant Shinde of Deccan College, Pune, India, and their teams made-up of professionals and students from around the world, have conducted excavations at Gilund over four seasons, beginning in 1999. The team is working to understand the social life, history and agricultural developments of these peoples, separated by about 200 miles of largely mountainous and desert-like regions from the powerful Indus Civilization that had its heyday 2500-1900 B.C. They came upon the bin with its seal impressions in the 2002-2003 season completed in February.

The bin was in a large building that has not yet been completely excavated but is known to be larger than 25 x 60 feet, composed of parallel walls of well-made sun-dried brick. The size and nature of the building suggests that it was a "public" structure, with walls ranging in width from about 30 to 49 inches, and spaces between them about the same width. The presence of the bin within the space between two of the walls, and other signs of occupation, including pits and living debris, indicate that the long, narrow "rooms" were used for storage. While the exact nature of the commodities stored in the warehouse is not known, agricultural or animal products, possibly valuable processed items like ghee, oil and textiles, seem likely, according to Dr. Possehl.

Clay, nature's soft and plentiful sealant, has been used by people for millennia to keep containers closed. Seals, on the other hand, frequently decorated with symbols to indicate a person or persons and used to make seal impressions that lay claim or suggest special rights to a container's contents, suggest a more stratified society. While no actual seals were discovered at Gilund, the unexpected collection of so many seal impressions strongly points to the presence of a populate of elite citizens who used stamps as identification of themselves and their elevated status--and who marked commodities that were stored in this building under their control. A large oval shaped bin about 5 feet deep and 2.5 feet in diameter at its midpoint, to keep the seal impressions in--and potentially keep others from duplicating specific impressions for their own use--further indicates the elitist nature of this warehouse.

The impression designs (example shown at left, a), according to Dr. Possehl, offer additional evidence for a more worldly-wise culture than was formerly assumed to exist at Gilund. The impressions found in the bin were made from seals both round and rectilinear. The design motifs are generally quite simple, with wide-ranging parallels from Indus Civilization sites such as Chanhu-daro, Pirak, Kot Diji and Nindowari, 400 to 500 miles away. There are also distinct parallels with seals from another cultural group archaeologists call the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC), from as far away as Central Asia and northern Afghanistan, 1,000 miles to the northwest (examples of actual BMAC seals are shown at left, b).

"Gilund is providing us with good evidence for a stratified society that had wide-ranging contacts between the peoples of western India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia just at the end of the third millennium and the beginning of the second millennium," noted Dr. Possehl. "Archaeologists have known for a number of years that the so-called BMAC peoples were in Sindh and Baluchistan, as well as Iran, and even as far south as the Arabian Gulf. This, however, is the first time that such evidence has come from so deep within India, significantly expanding the geographic picture of a critical period of regional change, when the once-powerful Indus Civilization is undergoing a process of transformation."

That transformation, Dr. Possehl notes, eventually led to the abandonment of the great Indus cities, the simplification of the Indus people's socio-cultural system, the loss of much of their technological virtuosity, and an end to their system of writing and measurements. "Learning more about how cultures like the Ahar-Banas and BMAC interacted with the Indus Civilization may help to broaden our understanding of the rise, and fall, of great civilizations of the world," said Dr. Possehl.

Excavations at Gilund will resume next winter, when the archaeologists will explore the wall or walls discovered last season around the site to determine if the town was fortified. They will also further explore the large public building where the impressions were found, seeking further evidence of the building's function.

Funding for the Gilund Project was made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, private donors, and Deccan College, Pune, India.

Dr. Gregory Possehl (below, left) is Curator-in-Charge of UPM's Asian Section. Information on Dr. Possehl's principal publications and excavations at Rojdi may be found by visiting his homepage. Dr. Possehl's collaborator, Dr. Vasant Shinde, of Deccan College, Pune, India, is shown here (below right photo, on the left) with University of Pennsylvania graduate student Praveena Gullapalli.

<img src='http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/research/possehl/images/map2.small.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
<img src='http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/research/possehl/images/map2.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<img src='http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/research/possehl/images/impressions5.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<img src='http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/research/possehl/images/impressions4.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
<b>Saraswati – the ancient river lost in the desert</b> -A. V. Sankaran
Riddle of the Hindu relics in the Thames

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Over the past two years, archaeologists from the Museum of London have been puzzling over seemingly well-preserved finds such as urns, wall plaques and statuettes of Hindu gods found along the foreshore </b>

Mark Gould
Wednesday November 2, 2005
The Guardian

At first sight, the gravy coloured waters of the river Thames would seem to have little in common with the Ganges.
But over the past two years, archaeologists from the Museum of London have been puzzling over seemingly <b>well-preserved finds such as urns, wall plaques and statuettes of Hindu gods found along the foreshore</b>.

They initially thought the urns were Roman, since the Thames has given up everything from prehistoric axes and Viking swords to Roman curses and medieval pilgrim badges, which all bear witness to the peoples and cultures that have played their part in the capital's history.

<b>Yet according to Hindu priests, these latest artefacts are either ceremonial water carriers used in purification ceremonies or containers for the ashes of dead relatives. Soapstone and metal statuettes of the elephant god Ganesha and the monkey god Hanuman have been washed up from Bankside in the City right down river to the East End. Other objects include ghee lamps used during recent Diwali celebrations and an intricately painted copper Yantra plaque - a talisman to ward off evil spirits</b>.

Faye Simpson, community archaeologist at the Museum of London, believes the findings, which are currently on show at the Museum in Docklands, were either placed in the Thames in the hope that they would find their way back to the source waters of the Ganges, "or more likely the Thames has become a surrogate for the Ganges and has a religious significance of its own, and part of the spiritual life of Hindu communities".

<b>But Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Great Britain, disagrees with the Museum of London's interpretation. When a household deity gets chipped or broken, Kallidai says, it cannot be used for worship and must be buried, burned or immersed in water</b>.

"I don't think [the river] is being used as a surrogate for the Ganges, which is specifically associated with many important events in the lives of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. I think a lot of these artefacts are being disposed of in a sensitive way by being immersed in the river."

Sacred River is at the Museum in Docklands until November 11 and at the Museum of London until November 26.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
UP village offers a fresh clue to solve a Harappan puzzle
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->SINAULI, NOVEMBER 17: For thousands of years, the fields of Sinauli in western Uttar Pradesh hid their secret well. But now its past is out in the open. Beyond the village’s brick lanes and lounging buffaloes, a burial site of the Harappans dating back to about 2,600 BC has finally given up its dead.

A skeleton lies in one of the trenches, the copper bangles on its hands intact though twisted with time. A few tiny beads are scattered around. Another was probably not fortunate enough to be buried whole, its bones lie in a heap. The Archaeological Survey of India’s excavations in Sinauli in Bagpat district, over 80 km from Delhi, have found 18 such skeletons. All of them have seven terracota vases and bowls buried near their heads. ‘‘One of the graves also had a dog’s head. Perhaps it was a favourite pet and was buried along with the dead person,’’ says superitendent archaeologist at the ASI, Dharam Vir Sharma. The beginning of this historical discovery, like always, was accidental. A farmer decided to level his wayward field. The labourers from the village found some pots while digging and took them home. That could have been the end of the story but for a villager with a keen interest in history.
The ancient ghosts have caused much excitment among historians. ‘‘It is the first Harappan burial site to be found in Uttar Pradesh,’’ says Sharma. Previously Harappan cemetries have been unearthed at Kalibanga and Lothal. Says Upinder Singh, reader in the department of history at St Stephen’s College, Delhi: ‘‘This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much new evidence coming in that archaeologists may have to re-think on many counts.’’

The burial ground could shed new light on the funeral practices of the Harappans. ‘‘It could also point to a larger habitation. Also the pots found here are all unpainted. These should be co-related to the pots found in other burial sites. That exercise is yet to be done,’’ says Singh.

At Sinauli, the skeletons lie with their arms crossed and feet close to each other, head facing north-west. The burial site has many layers. ‘‘In archaelogical terms it means it was in constant use,’’ says Sharma. Evidences of the Harappan civilisation have earlier been found in UP in Saharanpur and Alamgirpur but Sinauli’s haul is much richer.

Sinauli has also marked another first. Says Sharma: ‘‘There is a copper hoard culture that is presumed to be late Harappan or said to follow it. But no one is sure of its authorship. Now two antenna swords belonging to this culture have been found next to a corpse. This could mean that the copper hoard was a contemporary or belonged to the mature Harappan period. An ancient riddle will be solved and historical chronology will change.’’

‘‘What is also interesting is that the soil found here shows that this site was on the banks of the Yamuna. The river now flows 8 km away,’’ says Sharma. It will take a while to tie up all these threads blown astray by time. At present, a team from Kolkata’s Anthropological Survey of India is conducting DNA and other tests on the ancient bodies.

The excavations, says Sharma, will go on for another year. After the burial ground, the team aims to move towards the habitation. ‘‘This is a big burial ground so there could be a buried town around too.’’<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
ASI to fish out Elephanta island’s Roman links<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 13: Underwater archaeologists are set to uncover unknown secrets of Elephanta island, buried in the Arabian Sea. Extensive explorations on the island—its shores and the beaches—have revealed a treasure indicating existence of a rich trade with the late Roman Empire during the 4th to 7th century AD.

The findings establish it as a significant port of the period—a fact hitherto unknown. And that people on the west coast liked imported goods and Roman wine. The small island, east of Mumbai, was, so far, best known for its cave temples and rock-cut images, specially of the monolithic elephant which once stood on its southern tip.

With the Underwater Archaeology Wing of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) finding late Roman amphorae, coins and sherds of pottery — including red polished ware, black slipped ware, red ware and some gray ware — on Elephanta, the stage is now set for a proper excavation around the island. The finding had come as a surprise, since so far, large number of amphorae were found only in Kanchipuram and Arikamedu.

‘‘We will start excavation in the ongoing field season of 2005-06. Since exploration results have been encouraging, we expect Elephanta to be a rich heritage site,’’ Tripathi added. This is the second site which the wing will excavate, after Mahabalipuram.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
<!--QuoteBegin-Mudy+Oct 22 2005, 07:43 AM-->QUOTE(Mudy @ Oct 22 2005, 07:43 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Saraswati – the ancient river lost in the desert</b> -A. V. Sankaran

A.V. Sankaran has written a nice little book about geological aspects of the ancient Saraswati river system..

But I was baffled a bit by his paying a reluctant lip service to the fraudulent marxist historians even after the evidence of all his researches.
Saraswati – the ancient river lost in the desert

A. V. Sankaran

NEARLY ten thousand years ago when mighty rivers started flowing down the Himalayan slopes, western Rajasthan was green and fertile. Great civilizations prospered in the cool amiable climate on riverbanks of northwestern India. The abundant waters of the rivers and copious rains provided ample sustenance for their farming and other activities. Some six thousand years later, Saraswati, one of the rivers of great splendour in this region, for reasons long enigmatic, dwindled and dried up. Several other rivers shifted their courses, some of their tributaries were ‘pirated’ by neigbouring rivers or severed from their main courses. The greenery of Rajasthan was lost, replaced by an arid desert where hot winds piled up dunes of sand. The flourishing civilizations vanished one by one. By geological standards, these are small-scale events; for earth, in its long 4.5 billion years history, had witnessed many such changes, some of them even accompanied by wiping out of several living species. But those that occurred in northwest India took place within the span of early human history affecting the livelihood of flourishing civilizations and driving them out to other regions.

The nemesis that overtook northwestern India’s plenty and prosperity along with the disappearance of the river Saraswati, has been a subject engaging several minds over the last hundred and fifty years. However, convincing explanations about what caused all the changes were available only in the later half of the current century through data gathered by archaeologists, geologists, geophysicists, and climatologists using a variety of techniques. They have discussed and debated their views in symposia held from time to time, many of which have also appeared in several publications. Over the last thirty years, considerable volume of literature have grown on the subject and in this article some of the salient opinions expressed by various workers are presented.

Rivers constitute the lifeline for any country and some of the world’s great civilizations (Indus Valley, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian) have all prospered on banks of river systems. Hindus consider rivers as sacred and have personified them as deities and sung their praises in their religious literature, the Vedas (Rig, Yajur and Atharva), Manusmriti, Puranas and Mahabharata. These cite names of several rivers that existed during the Vedic period and which had their origin in the Himalayas. One such river Saraswati, has been glorified in these texts and referred by various names like Markanda, Hakra, Suprabha, Kanchanakshi, Visala, Manorama etc.1,2, and Mahabharata has exalted Saraswati River as covering the universe and having seven separate names2. Rig veda describes it as one of seven major rivers of Vedic times, the others being, Shatadru (Sutlej), Vipasa (Beas), Askini (Chenab), Parsoni or Airavati (Ravi), Vitasta (Jhelum) and Sindhu (Indus)1,3,4 (Figure 1). For full 2000 y (between 6000 and 4000 BC), Saraswati had flowed as a great river before it was obliterated in a short span of geological time through a combination of destructive natural events.

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Judged in the broader perspective of geological evolution, disappearance or disintegration of rivers, shifting of their courses, capture of one river by another (river piracy), steady decline of waters culminating in drying up of their beds, are all normal responses to tectonism (uplift, faulting, subsidence, tilting), earthquakes, adverse climate and other natural events. Such catastrophic events overtook Saraswati river in quick succession, within a short geological span in the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era (Figure 1) leading to its decline and disappearance. Similar changes to drainage of rivers have occurred during earlier geological periods also, much before human evolution. A few of the south Indian rivers like the east-flowing Pennar, Palar and Cauvery draining into the Bay of Bengal and west-flowing Swarna, Netravathi and Gurupur draining into the Arabian Sea are known to have changed their courses or got dismembered due to uplift of land. Today, their former courses or palaeochannels can be seen as dry beds5–8.

Saraswati – evolution and drainage

The river Saraswati, during its heydays, is described to be much bigger than Sindhu or the Indus River. During the Vedic period, this river had coursed through the region between modern Yamuna and Sutlej. Though Saraswati is lost, many of its contemporary rivers like Markanda, Chautang and Ghaggar have outlived it and survived till today. All the big rivers of this period –
Saraswati, Shatadru (Sutlej), Yamuna derived their waters from glaciers which had extensively covered the Himalayas during the Pleistocene times. The thawing of these glaciers during Holocene, the warm period that followed, generated many rivers, big and small, coursing down the Himalayan slopes. The melting of glaciers has also been referred in Rigvedic literature, in mythological terms, as an outcome of war between God Indra and the demon Vritra1,9. The enormity of waters available for agriculture and other occupations during those times had prompted the religiously bent ancient inhabitants to describe reverentially seven mighty rivers or ‘Sapta Sindhu’, as divine rivers arising from slowly moving serpent (Ahi), an apparent reference to the movement of glaciers3.

According to geological and glaciological studies11,13, Saraswati was supposed to have originated in Bandapunch masiff (Sarawati-Rupin glacier confluence at Naitwar in western Garhwal). Descending through Adibadri, Bhavanipur and Balchapur in the foothills to the plains, the river took roughly a southwesterly course, passing through the plains of Punjab, Haryana,
Rajasthan, Gujarat and finally it is believed to have debouched into the ancient Arabian Sea at the Great Rann of Kutch. In this long journey, Saraswati was believed to have had three tributaries, Shatadru (Sutlej) arising from Mount Kailas, Drishadvati from Siwalik Hills and the old Yamuna. Together, they flowed along a channel, presently identified as that of the Ghaggar river, also called Hakra River in Rajasthan and Nara in Sindh1,11 (Figure 2). The rivers, Saraswati and Ghaggar, are therefore supposed to be one and the same, though a few workers use the name Ghaggar to describe Saraswati’s upper course and Hakra to its lower course, while some others refer Saraswati of weak and declining stage, by the name Ghaggar12.

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Considerable philological debate has taken place about the roots of the nomenclature ‘Saraswati’, which is referred to by the name Harkhaiti or Haravaiti (in Avesta) in regions further west of India. The contentious point debated is whether the syllable Ha in the river’s name changed to Sa, later in India or Sa to Ha outside India. The choice of the name, Saraswati or Harkhaiti, depended upon whether one considered Aryans, the ancient inhabitants along this riverine system, as indigenous people who, upon their migration, carried the name Saraswati westwards where linguistic growth changed Sa soon to Ha; or, whether they were migrants from west of India who brought with them the name Harakhaiti which changed to Saraswati once they settled here2. Apart from the nomenclature, the riverine systems of the period draining northwestern India had generated considerable discussion among the scholars about the positions (hierarchy) of the other feeder rivers, big and small, their sources and causes for their shifts which affected the supply of waters to the main rivers hastening their disintegration, e.g. Saraswati and its major tributary, Drishadvati.

Hindu mythology records several legends and anecdotes that are intertwined with the river’s geologically brief existence. Every aspect of the river’s life, right from its birth to its journey down the Himalayas and over the plains towards the Sindhu Sagara (ancient Arabian Sea), have found mention in one religious text or other, like Rigveda, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda,
Brahmana literature, Manusmriti, Mahabharata and the Puranas1–3. These descriptive legends have often proved helpful in cataloguing some of the natural events of the period and linking some of them with the river’s perturbations. For example, the graphic description of a war between Gods and demons detailed in one of these texts and use of fire (Agni) in the destruction of a demon hiding in the mountains which trembled under the onslaught may possibly refer to volcanic and seismic episodes of the period2. Today, more than 8000 years since the Vedas came into existence, some of the rivers mentioned therein have become defunct or have shifted from their original path. In the earlier years of study, their erstwhile courses were mainly inferred from archaeological evidences. These included sites of ancient settlements (some 1200 are known) of Harappan, Indus or Saraswati civilizations along river banks, the scripts and seals left behind, and references in Hindu mythology to river-bank Ashrams and Yagnya Kundams preserving evidences about the ritual worship practiced by the ancient inhabitants3,10–13.

Over a 3000 year-long period since the Vedic times (Figure 1), the drainage pattern of many rivers had changed much from that described in the earlier religious literature. The decline of Saraswati appears to have commenced between 5000–3000 BC, probably precipitated by a major tectonic event in the Siwalik Hills of Sirmur region. Geologic studies14 indicate destabilizing tectonic events had occurred around the beginning of Pleistocene, about 1.7 my ago in the entire Siwalik domain, extending from Potwar in Pakistan to Assam in India, resulting in massive landslides and avalanches. These disturbances, which continued intermittently, were all linked to uplift of the Himalayas. Presumably, one of these events must have severed the glacier connection and cut off the supply of glacier melt-waters to this river. As a result, Saraswati became non-perennial and dependent on monsoon rains. All its majesty and splendour of the Vedic period dwindled and with the loss of its tributaries, major and minor, Saraswati’s march to oblivion commenced around 3000 BC. Bereft of waters through separation of its tributaries15, which shifted or got captured by other neighbouring river systems, Saraswati remained here and there as disconnected pools and lakes and ultimately became reduced to a dry channel bed. Lunkaransar, Didwana and Sambhar, the Ranns of Jaisalmer, Pachpadra etc., are a few of these notable lakes, some of them highly saline today, the only proof to their freshwater descent being occurrences of gastropod shells in these lake beds16–19. With the decline and disappearance of Saraswati, the ancient civilizations, that it supported, also faded.

Inferences from geologic, remote sensing and geophysical surveys

Considerable tectonic activity connected with Himalayan orogeny continued during the Holocene and later times although uplifts to heights of 3000–4000 m were at their peak during 0.8–0.9 my span. The high elevation of the mountains perturbed the wind circulation patterns and induced climatic changes. Moderate terrain of earlier times became rugged and hilly affecting the channels of rivers14. That was the scenario of the Himalayan region when Saraswati emerged as a major river about 9000 y ago20 and flowed in all splendour during the vedic times till its decline to an impermanent monsoon dependent state some 4000 y later.

Bulk of earlier studies on Saraswati pertain more to the civilizations that flourished along its banks and many of the reasons attributed for the decline of this river were speculative. The impacts of middle to late Quaternary geologic events on the river systems in this region, however, had received only cursory attention. Awareness to the potentialities of geologic, meteorologic, climatic and other cyclic events, basically triggered by plate tectonism, earth’s orbital and tilt variations and similar global phenomena came up much later. Attempts to investigate their roles over the decline and desiccation of Saraswati began only since close of nineteenth century21–23 and gained momentum during the last three decades. Oldham23, a geologist of Geological Survey of India, was one of the first to offer as early as 1886, geological comments about Saraswati. According to him, the present dry-bed of Ghaggar River represents Saraswati’s former course and that its disappearance was precipitated when its waters were captured by Sutlej and Yamuna. This view differed from that of several others who felt that Saraswati vanished due to lack of rainfall. However, later-day meteorological research about palaeoclimates11,24–27, oxygen isotopic studies36, thermouminescenct (TL) dating28 of wind-borne and river-borne sands in the Thar desert region, radiocarbon dating of lake-bed deposits48 and archaeological evidences29,30 have all indicated that during early to middle Pleistocene period this region had enjoyed wetter climate, heavy rainfall and even recurring floods and that increase in aridity commenced by mid-Holocene (5000–3000 BC) only.

Intense investigations during the last thirty years have yielded fruitful data obtained through ground and satellite based techniques as well as from palaeoseismic, and palaeoclimatic records all of which had enabled a good reconstruction of the drainage evolution in northwestern India. In addition, TL-dating of dry-bed sands and isotopic studies of the groundwater below these channels provided useful links in these reconstruction efforts. The observed river-shifts and other changes could also be correlated with specific geologic, seismic or climatic event that occurred during the mid- to late-Quaternary period. Particularly helpful were the information gathered from LANDSAT imagery about location of former river courses in the plains and beneath the Thar desert upto the Rann of Kutch, about existence of palaeo-river valleys and identifying major structural trends (lineaments) in the region3,16,18,31–34. In spite of a large volume of such data, the chain of natural events during the Quaternary period has given rise to different interpretations about the former river courses.

Mainly, Indus and Saraswati, were the two major river systems of northwestern India during the Vedic period but the network of their tributaries, some of which are known to have deviated from their initial course or become non-existent today, have given scope for grouping these rivers into convenient classifications. Sridhar et al.18 have classified the rivers into four main groups (Figure 2) – (i) Sindhu (Indus) and its tributaries Vitasta (Jhelum) and Askini (Chenab); (ii) Shatadru (Sutlej) and its two major tributaries Vipasa (Beas) and Parasuni or Iravati (Ravi); (iii) Saraswati and its three tributaries Markanda, Ghaggar and Patialewali, in its upper reaches and a major tributary in its middle course; (iv) Drishadvati and Lavanavati. Baldev Sahai19 grouped them into Sutlej, Ghaggar and Yamuna systems while Yash Pal and co-workers32 recognized only two major systems –
the Sutlej and the Ghaggar.

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Detailed evaluation of data obtained from remote sensing, geophysical, isotopic and other studies by various workers32,33,35–40 have been instrumental in sorting out many of the earlier speculative inferences and unsolved aspects of Saraswati river. Yash Pal et al.32 have traced the palaeochannel of this river through Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. They found that its course in these States is clearly highlighted in the LANDSAT imagery by the lush cover of vegetation thriving on the rich residual loamy soil along its earlier course. According to their findings, the river disappears abruptly in a depression in Pakistan, instead of in the sea, an observation shared by a few others also. But, digital enhancement studies35 of satellite IRS-1C data launched in 1995, combined with RADAR imagery (from European Remote Sensing satellite ERS-1/2) could identify subsurface features and thus recognize palaeochannels beneath the sands of Thar Desert. These channels are seen to extend upto Fort Abbas and Marot in Pakistan and appear in a line with present dry bed of Ghaggar (Figure 3). This river continues as Nara River in Sindh region and opens into the Rann of Kutch34. Another study33 of satellite derived data has revealed no palaeochannel link between Indus and Saraswati confirming that the two were independent rivers; also, the three palaeochannels, south of Ambala, seen to swerve westwards to join the ancient bed of Ghaggar, are inferred to be tributaries of Saraswati/ Ghaggar, and one among them, probably Drishadvati (Figure 4). The latter disappeared along with Saraswati due to shifts of its feeder streams from Siwalik and Aravalli ranges as well as due to the onset of desertification of Rajasthan15.

Geophysical surveys carried out by the Geological Survey of India to assess groundwater potential in Bikaner, Ganganagar and Jaisalmer districts in western Rajasthan desert areas have brought out several zones of fresh and less saline water in the form of arcuate shaped aquifers similar to several palaeochannels elsewhere in the State. That these subsurface palaeochannels belong to ancient rivers has been confirmed through studies37 on hydrogen, oxygen and carbon isotopes (d2H, d18O, 14C) on shallow and deep groundwater samples from these districts. The isotopic work has also indicated that there is no direct headwater connection or recharge to this groundwater from present day Himalayas. Though the antiquity of these waters and probable links to ancient rivers are thus established, the subsurface palaeochannel route beneath the desert sands obtained from hydrogeological investigations, however, differs from that derived through satellite based studies 16,35,38.

The waning period of Vedic civilization around 3700 BC was also the period that disrupted both Saraswati and Drishadvati18. Several evidences indicate that rivers of this area changed their courses often in the last 5000 y (ref. 32) and one detailed study40 about Saraswati has identified at least four progressive westward shifts in Rajasthan, due to encroaching sands. In their evaluation of the palaeochannel imagery obtained from LANDSAT, Yash Pal et al.32 observed a sudden widening of Ghaggar near Patiala which, they argue, can take place only if a major tributary had joined it. According to them, ancient Shatadru or Sutlej must have been this tributary and possibly ancient Yamuna (palaeo-Yamuna) also flowed into Ghaggar, a conclusion they claim is strengthened by archaeological findings of active life that existed at one time on their banks. During a subsequent period, Shatadru (Sutlej) swung suddenly westwards near Ropar (Figure 4) to join Indus (as also Vipas/Beas and Parasuni/Ravi, its two tributaries), deserting its earlier channel to the sea. This sudden diversion of Sutlej as well as depletion of waters from Drishadvati due to loss of its feeding streams15, appear to be major events that heralded the drying up of Saraswati. Several workers attribute this event to tectonism involving rise of Delhi-Hardwar ridge and uplift in the Aravallis11,15,16,18,32. Capture of Shatadru (Sutlej) by a tributary of Beas through headward erosion or due to diversion of Shatadru (Sutlej) through a fault are also considered as possible reasons32. Structural control over the migration of Saraswati river is also evident from studies41,42 in the Great Indian desert and adjacent parts of western Rajasthan. This area is dissected by several lineaments, some of which (e.g. Luni–Sukri lineament) were reactivated during Pleistocene–Holocene period bringing about alignment of Saraswati with Ghaggar.

Saraswati and the palaeodelta of the Great Rann

Considerable debate has taken place about Saraswati’s entry in the northern part of the Great Rann. Scholars have pointed to references in Rigveda, Manusmriti and Mahabharata about Saraswati disappearing in the sands at Vinäsana and not in the sea; but at the same time, there is also reference in some of these ancient texts about a narrow sea, possibly a creek, coming right upto Bikaner, but which disappeared during the Vedic times10,22. Rigvedic and archaeological references describe how Saraswati supported inland and marine trade and travel and that, around 3000 BC, there was continuous flow of this river upto even the Little Rann13.

The topography at the Great Rann is typically deltaic, developing usually at the mouth of rivers, confirming entry of a few rivers in the sea at this place. Neotectonism, reactivating faults and lineaments which are seen criss-crossing this region, as well as frequent seismicity, apart from Holocene sea-level changes all appear to have influenced development of a peculiar drainage topography in this area. The tilting and sinking of land resulting from the tectonic events have carved characteristic uplands (locally called Bets) representing areas of river mouth deposits, and lowlands which are sites of distributary channels17,28. Satellite imagery, as well as detailed mapping, have revealed network of distributaries and extensive graded deposits, products of Holocene marine regression17. It appears that Indus (Sindhu), Shatadru (Sutlej), Saraswati, Drishadvati (palaeo-Yamuna) and Lavanavati (possibly an ancestor of present day Luni river) had independent courses and opened into the Rann separately. According to Malik
et al.17, at least three rivers – proto-Shatadru (Hakra), Saraswati and Drishadvati must have drained into the Rann around 2000 BC, of which only Sindhu (Indus) has survived. The original delta complex with relict channels, including that of Nara, a continuation of Ghaggar, is today better preserved on the western side but covered by wind-borne deposits on the eastern part of the Great Rann17,43,44.

Yash Pal et al.32 argue that though in the satellite imagery Saraswati/Ghaggar appear to debouch into the sea or a lake near Marot or Beriwala (Pakistan) (Figure 3), this place is far interior, and unlikely to be a palaeo-seacoast, even allowing for rise of sea level during the Holocene marine transgression. In fact studies about coast line changes along the west coast have shown a much lower sea level some 12,000 y back which rose to the present level only later and had remained there for the last 7000 y. These findings, therefore, discount the possibilities of a seacoast at this place45,46 though they do not rule out the river’s entry into the sea that must have existed further south of this site in those times. It may be mentioned that Quaternary neotectonism has submerged vast areas of palaeodelta complex, possibly along with palaeochannels. In this context, it is relevant to take note of the observation that Saraswati’s ancient course in this region is in continuity with another dry river bed–Hakra or Sotra which can be traced through Bikaner to Bhahawalpur and Sind in Pakistan, and finally upto the Rann of Kutch. Such a course appears likely if we backtrack the delta distributaries inland, when it is noticed they connect up with the existing palaeochannels there. Some of these are actually extensions of relict channels seen beneath the sands of Thar Desert, as found out by geophysical and hydrogeological surveys16,17,35,38.

While tectonism had certainly a major role in shaping the fate of Saraswati and other rivers, this could not have been the only agent bringing about various changes that led to its downfall. Even though the role of climate on the disappearance of Saraswati system was underestimated by some of the earlier workers, undoubtedly it must have exercised considerable sway during the Holocene, a period during which major climatic swing has been noted globally26,27,36,47. It is well known that variation in earth’s orbit and tilt of earth’s axis affect the earth’s climate (Milankovitch and albedo forces). A drastic weather change related to these phenomena had peaked around 7000 BC26. Recent studies have shown that the onset of an arid climate occurred in two pulses –
at 4700–3700 and at 2000–1700 BC26, both of which had fairly wide impact not only in India in the desertification of western Rajasthan but in other countries also, like Africa in the development of Saharan and Nubian deserts. The desertification is thought to have occurred 5400 y ago (3400 BC) and its onset greatly affected the monsoon rains and consequently the river systems too. The change from wetter to arid condition destroyed steadily the vegetation, which in turn affected soil moisture, its evaporation, atmospheric circulation and precipitation, all important links in the monsoon evolution chain and, ultimately the climate over the region. However, a recent study48 of water-table fluctuations and radiocarbon estimates from the Lunkansar Lake deposit do not support the views about aridity around 3500 BC, the period when Saraswati and Indus Valley culture were thought to have collapsed. The chronology emerging from these studies show that the once perennial lakes had ceased to be so and they had dried and desiccated more than 1500 y before the dated collapse of the civilization.

Computer based climate simulation studies26, to reproduce the changes to solar heating of the atmosphere due to variations in earth’s tilt and orbit have shown that climate-induced weakening of monsoons over India and north Africa led to desertification in a span of just 300 years. Needless to point out, when one traces the topographic evolution of a place, the influence of a combination of many natural phenomena can be recognized in its build up. It becomes, therefore, very difficult to point out any one reason for some of the major changes to the topography or river systems. The climatic swing that led to sweeping changes in northwestern India was triggered by variations in earth’s orbit and tilt and these departures are known to recur periodically. The latter should, therefore, rise the possibilities for a favourable orientation of these parameters of earth at some future time to initiate climatic conditions for a re-greening of the
Rajasthan desert, rejuvenation of the dry river beds and, hopefully, for a rebirth of Saraswati, like Phoenix out of the ashes.
Under the Kushanas, unlike in the days of later Indian rulers, the Indians followed an active policy of supporting the central Asian oasis civilization in the Tarim region. This forward policy was adopted by Vima Taktu, furthered by Vima Khadphises and Kanishka. The most important victory was that of Kanishka in central Asia was against the Chinese, when he came to the aid of the Tarim chiefs, who had been severely oppressed by the Chinese warriors like Pan Cha'o. Having routed them, he brought four Chinese princes as hostages to India and detained them in fort near what is now Amritsar. The village interesting bears the name Chiniyari, as a distant echo of the long past days. These Chinas are supposed to have introduced the pear to India. This is one of the few defeats of the China army at the hands of the Indians that even the chronicle of Huan Tsang records. Kanishka to convey his international status to all concerned adopted 4 titles simultaneously: mahArajAdhiraja (Emperor of India), Kaisara (for the romans), Kshatriya-tama (for the Persians), and deva-putra (for the Chinese). So firmly was Sogdiana, brought under the Indian sphere of influence that the Chinas referred to it as utto-lo-pa-do: uttarApatha or the northern frontier of India. Of course Kanishka's entry in to Central Asia, other that its economic benefits, resulted in a tremendous injection of sanskrit literature into China many of whose original were lost in India. This process to a certain extant actually improved Sino-Indian relations and facilitated technological exchange between the then superpowers: the Parthian empire, India and China. Kanishka's domain stretched from the Tarim regions to Central India. His southern capital was Mathura where some statues of his vandalized by the Moslems can still be found. From a Hindu standpoint the Kushana regime was critical for the rise of Kaumarism in India.

It is perhaps very likely that, Western powers of today wish to curtail India by propping up the encircling Moslem states. Because if these Moslem potentates were smashed, India's cultural and military influence would flow to regain its natural extant in the direction of the Roof of World.
Some lessons from history

A myth that should definitely bite the dust is that Indians did not venture out of the confines of the sub continent in search of new lands and or trade.

Anther myth that has somehow taken root is that Indans were never great evangelizers. Au contraire, the ancient Indics spread their way of life
with a great deal of zeal and gusto to the four corners of Asia and even to the Roman empire in the form of Mithraism (Alexandre Dumas refers to the cult of Mithra in the mediterannean in his novel the Count of Monte Cristo. Dumas of course lived in the early nineteenth century.

While the demographic onslaught of Islam today cannot be stopped,what can be resuscitated is the evangelical fervor with which the Kanishkas , the Satavahanas (to Khamboj and essentially founding the kingdom of Angkor))andthe Cholas (to Java and Sumatra and the Sri Vijaya kingdom) spread Hinduism (or the Dhaarmic way of life). Since GOI has officially abandoned all pretense to be the defender of the Indic civlization, there is no reason why private parties should not mobilize resources for such purposes. The Americas are especially rife with such opportunities. Even if one does not actively evangelize,for heavens sake please do not be apologetic about who you are ,a la 'I am a Hindu but....'

Indonesia essentially became Muslim due to the efforts of Muslim traders from Gujarat in 1400 ce by which time the arab khilafat had come to an end, thanks to the depredations of Hulagu who had made Damascus a ghost city. The Maghreb (the west)fell into decline also culminating in the reconquista of spain by Isabel and Ferdinand.

But it was in India and the rest of SE Asia that Islam began its slow ascent into eventual domination.

For some reason, perhaps explainable by psychologists and due partially to not being associated with a single prophet, the Dharma came to be associated with Pagan worship and hence became less acceptable in the eyesof the West than Islam which had the 'virtue' of being a prophetic religion at least in the eyes of the Church hierarchy. Today it remains a matter of being opportunistic and being the most vulnerable to conversion, especially with a Government in power which bends over backward to be overly hospitable to such activites.

Discovery of Kautilya's Arthasastra by the West

An Examination of Kautilya's Arthaśāstra, Part One
The Andhra Dynasty of Emperors of Magadha
S.No Name of the King Length of reign Period of Reign in Kali era Period of reign in Christian era

1 Sriinukha Saatakarni 23 2269-2292 833 - 810
2 Sri Krishna Saatakarni 18 2292- 2310 810 - 792
3 Sri Malia Saatakarni 10 2310 ¡V 2320 792 - 782
4 Puurnothsanga 18 2320 ¡V 2338 782-764
5 Sri Satakarni 56 2338 ¡V 2394 764 - 708
6 Skandha stambhi 18 2394 - 2412 708 - 690
7 Lambodara Saatavaahana 18 2412 - 2430 690 - 672
8 Apiitaka Saatavaahana 12 2430 - 2442 672 - 660
9 Meghaswaati Saatavaahana 18 2442 - 2460 660 - 642
10 Saata Swaati Saatavaahana 18 2460 - 2478 642 - 624
11 Skanea Saatakarni 7 2478 ¡V 2485 624 - 617
12 Mrigendra Saatakarni 3 2485 - 2488 617 - 614
13 Kuntala Saatakarni 8 2488 - 2496 614 - 606
14 Soumya Saatakarni 12 2496 - 2508 606 - 594
15 Saata Saatakarni 1 2508 - 2509 594 - 593
16 Puloma or Puloma I 36 2509 - 2545 593 - 557
17 Megha Saatakarni 38 2545 - 2583 557 - 519
18 Arishta Saatakarni <b>(in the tenth year of his reign in B.C. 509 Sri Sankara was born</b>. 25 2583 - 2608 519 - 494
19 Haala Saatavahana 5 2608 - 2613 494 - 489
20 Mandalaka Saatavahana 5 2613 - 2618 489 - 484
21 Purindrasena Saatavahana 21 2618 - 2639 484 - 463
22 Sundara Saatakarni 1 2639 - 2640 463 - 462
23 ChakOJ'a Saatakarni ƒT1⁄ƒU2 2640 ¡V 2640 462 - 411ƒT⁄ƒU2
Mahendra Saatakarni 1⁄ƒU2 2640⁄ƒU2-2641 4611⁄ƒU2-.460
24 Siva Saatakarni 28 2641-2669 461-.433
25 Gautamiputra Saatkarni 25 269-2694 433-408
26 II Puloma Saatakarni 3 2694-2726 408-376
27 Siva sri Saatakarni 7 2726-2733 576-369
28 Sivaskanda Saatakarni 7 2733-2740 369-362
29 Yajna Sri Saatakarni 19 2741,)-2759 362-348
30 Vijayasri Saatakarni 6 2759-2765 343-337
31 Chandra Sri Saatakarni 3 2765-2768 337-334
32 III Puloma Sri Saatakarni 7 2768-2775 334-327

506 <i>(Total Years in Reign)</i>

As per the list above the 32 Aandhra Saatavaahana emperors of Magadha ruled for 506 years on the whole from Kali2269­ - 2775 or B. C. 833 to 327 B. C. After them the founder of the Gupta or Aandhra Bhritya Dynasty. Chandragupta occupied the throne in B. C. 327 after putting to the sword the last two prin­ces of the Aandhra dynasty, Chandra Sri and Puloma III. The king who then got himself crowned at Pataliputra, having annex­ed a considerable part of the Magadha state was this Chandra gupta 1 of the Gupta dynasty and not Chandra gupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya dynasty, as' is commonly and erroneous­ly supposed now-a-days, By this erroneous identification by the western (European) historians of India, and as a consequence of it to be in accord with that. By pushing forward and locating in B. C. 1500 the Mahabharata war which took place actually in B. C 3138 and the coronation of Chandra Gupta Maurya of B. C. 1534 to B. C, 324. <b>The antiquity of the entire history of ancient India has been reduced by more than 12 centuries.</b>

Details of this distortion (partly due to mistake and partly to deliberate mischief) are given in our other publication in English with the title 'The plot in Indian Chronology'. In B, C. 827 the Aandhras lost their power in the Magadha state, the Paramount power In Bharat at the time. Their empire came to an end; but not the saatavahana dynasty of Aandhra princes. The princes of the dynasty indul­ged in mutual quarrels, cut up the empire into bits, each declared himself independent and all reduced themselves to the position and status of rules of petty principalities. The royal dynasty split up into 12 branches according to the Puranas.

<i><b>Aandhraram samsthitaha panch tesham vasashcah ye punaha saptaivatu bhavisyanti iti</b> (Brahmanda Purana Chap 77, Verse 171 or Vayu Purana Ghapt. 99-3517- Verse.)</i>

Thereafter the princes of the Agni dynasty (a branch of the Saatavahana dynasty) might have branched off into various further subdivisions. Pallava, Cheta, Sena. Kadamba, Rasht­rakuta, Vishnlu Ku.ndina. Brihatphalayana, Baana. Gaanga, Hosala, Rajaputra, Saalamkayana, Vakataka. Vallabhi. Vaidumba, Nolamba dynasties were all connected with the Aandhra­Saatavahana dynasty' Even from earlier times as the eldest sons at. The Saatavahana kings only succeed'ed to the throne by the principle of Primogeniture, the younger sons and sons. in';law of the kings of the different generations were perhaps provided for by being made the chiefs of small principalities in Raajaputana.

The present Rajput royal dynasties might have thus come into being. Such as Pramara or Paramara Chapahani or Chahuman. Sukla or Chalukya, Parihara or pratihara) the four Agni dynastieg. These royal dynasties are otherwise known as Brahma-Kshatriyas, as the founders of the above named four dynasties were all Brahmins well versed in the Vedas.

The Bhavishya Purana-Pratisarga parva declares Pramara was a student of Saama. Chapahaani of Yajus. Sukla was versed in the three Vedas (Rig, Yajus and Sarna) and Pari­hara was a student of Adharvana. In Kali 2710. ie. B. C. 392, these four scholar s and sages were made to perform sacri­fices on Mount Arbuda or Abu in Raajaputana, with the object of developing in them the martial spirit (Kshatra Tejas) and they were made the kings of the four parts of the country. Details of this account of the origin of the royal families of the Agni dynasty are available in the last chapter of this book "Kings of Agni Vamsa".

Kalhana in his Raja tharangini says princes descended from the Andhra Saatahava dynasty were ruling in the eighth century after Christ, in Kashmir. Lahore, Abhisaara, Draga, Simhapura, Divyaka­taka, Uttara Jyotisha, - the first two now forming part of Kashmir and the last three in modern Afghanistan, all the five, Yavana kshatriya kingdoms. The Lohaar and Hindu Saahi princes are descendents of the Aandhra Saatavahana and the Thomara dynasty derived from it. The famous emperors Vikrarnaditya, Saalivahana and Bhoja belonged to the Pramara or Paramara or more well known as Panwar dynasty deriving from the Andhra Saatavahanas. The Chapa­hanis were also known as Chahumans, those of the Thomara branches followed the Kshatriya, traditions and customs and were reckoned as Kshatriyas proper in the Puranas too. The famous historical personages Prithviraj, Jayachand and Rani Samyukta all belong to the Thomara dynasty.

The Sukla or Chalukya princes are well-known among the rulers of Southern India. Of them one branch known as the Eastern Chalukya ruled over the regions of the eastern coast land and another known as the Western Chalukya ruled in the west. The famous king Raja Rajanarendra, who patronized and sponsored the literary effort of the translation of the Mahabha­rata into Telugu, belonged to the Eastern Chalukya dynasty. During the centuries after Christ, the Chalukya princes deemed it more honorable to style themselves as Kshatriyas and managed to link up the founders of their dynasties with ancient Kshatriya princes and got such lists of their descent recorded in the inscrip­tions of their times. The Pariharas ruled in Bengal the Brahmins of the Sakti worship cult in Bengal belong to this branch of Agni Kshatriyas or Brahma-Kshatras.

The kings of the Kadamba Dynasty.

Mayuura Sarma, founder of the Kadamba dynasty of princes who ruled in Kerala or Malayala country, also belonged to the Aandhra Saatavahana dynasty and became the ruler of that part of the country in the 6th century B. C. Kaakutsa Varma a prince of this dynasty was ruling there in B. C. 550 (Vide Ancient Dekkan P. 27)

As there were no Brahmins in Kerala at that time king 'Mayuura sarma' sponsored the migration of a group of Brahmin families from his birth pIace Ahi kshetra [Sarpavaram as it is now called) a village in Godavari District and settled them in his kingdom. In the 'South Indian castes And Sects' a publication of the Madras Government in seven volumes, it is stated with refe­rence to the Brahmins of Kerala : -- ¡§In some of the ancient texts of Brahmins in manuscript, it is recorded that, in the reign of king Mayuravarma of the Kadamba dynasty, some Aandhra Brahmins were encouraged to migrate to south Kanara. Subsequently the legendary curse of Parasurama till this migration of Brahmins from Ahi kshetra in Aandhra under the patronage of king' Mayura sarma of Kadamba dynasty, there were no Brahmins in Keralra.

Inscriptions reveal that, the founder of the Kadamba dynasty of princes who ruled with Banavasi in North Kanara as their capitall, was Mayuravarma (the name is variously recorded, as Mayuira varma and Maurya Sarma). He was the Founder of the brahmin dynasty of princes known as "Kadamba,"

The traditions and written record's of the Nambudri Brahmins of Kerala extend back to 'Mayuravarma.' The Brahmins impor­ted by Mayura varma were at the time of their migration the disciples and followers of the famous Kumarila Bhatta or Bhattacharya. but after the migration they accepted the principles and became the adherents of the philosophy of Sri Sankara (birth 509 'E. C.) which prevailed in KeraIa.

In the fifth volume of the same publication Sri Subramanya Ayyer writes:-"':The Danta 'Kadha list in 'Kerala Mahatmya declares that the Nambudri Brahmins of Kerala" were the descen­dents of immigrants from" Ahi kshetra.

The sentences are a quotation from the ancient Sanskrit books_'Keral'a Mahatmya' and 'Keralotpatti'. Aandhra praehalana or 'Aandhra movements', a small publication of the Aandhra Mahasabha, immediately after the first conference of the Aandh­ra Sabha, also claims that 'the famous historical personages of Mayura varma, Bhattacharya and Sri Sankara were all Aanldhras. Several of the Dantna stories also support the claim.

Even V. A. Smith admits in p. 43 of his history of India that the kings of the Kadamba dynasty who ruled over the region comprising the Kanara and the northern districts of Mysore from the 3rd to the 6th centuries after Christ were Brahmins. Thus the Kadamba princes who ruled over Kerala from the 6th century before Christ to the 6th century after Christ and the Brahmins who migrated to the Country along with them and under their patronage were all Aandhras.

Among the Brahmins who thus migrated from Ahikshetra or Sarpavaram, a village in the Godavari District) to Kerla under the patronage of Mayura-Sarma the Brahmin ruler of Kerala. there was a Brahmin scholar of the name Sivaguru who settled down in the village Kalati in Kerala. To him, after he had settled in Kerala was born 'Sri Sankara the first.' So Sri Sankara the Great Adwaitic Philosopher and the Nambudri Brahmins were all of Aandhra descent, 'Sri Ramanuja' the Great protagonist of 'Visishtadwaita' bore the surname (family name) "Aasuuri". Surnames or house names constitute a distin­guishing feature of the Aandhras, among the different peoples of south India.

Tamilians have no surnames or house names. So Sri Ramanuja should be deemed to belong to a family of Aandhra brahmins, who had migrated to the Tamil country and settled down there some generations previous to him. Even so, 'Madhva-Acharya,' the great exponent of the 'Dwaita system' of philosophy bore the surname of Nadiminti. (Madya geh) He should be similarly deemed to belong to an Aandhra Brahmin family that had migrated to the Kannada country and settled down there. Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya, and his son Sri Tiru vengalayya who lived in the 15th century, and Kshetrayya of the 7th century who composed the songs known after him and the famous Thyagaraja of the 18th century, author of the immortal songs inculcating and expressing at the same time the principles of devotion (Bhakti) enlightenment (Jnana) and renun­ciation (Vairagya) all these celebrated musical composers were of Aandhra descent though belonging to families that had migrated to and settled down in several parts of the other regions in South India. The great scholar Kumarila Bhatta of 557 B.C" who stemmed the advancing tide of the Jaina and Bouddha religions and safeguarded the ancient Vaidic religion of the country, was an Aandhra. The great savant 'Vidyaranya who wrote authoritative commentaries on the four Vedas and preserved for us knowledge of the contents of the Vedas to this day was an Aandhra.

Hence the sage 'Appayya Dikshitha:' declares "It should be deemed a great good fortune to be born an Aandhra, to claim the Aandhra language as ones mother tongue; to' 'live in Aandhra Desa, fu.rther to the Vaidic cultural tradition and then to be a student of the Yajurveda'. It is a good fortune possible only for one with rare accumulated merit." It need not be mentioned that he himself was an Aandtira (though he is said. by some. to belong to the Dravida branch: even if it is conceeded; it only mean!:! he belongs to a group of Dravida or Tamili an families that migrated to Aandhra in the remote past. settled down there in such remote past that they had long ago forgotten and given up the use of the Tamilian language even in their homes, and made the Aandhra language their mother tongue. Even then we have every right to claim him to be an Aandhrai. There are seve­ral other great personages among Aandhras in every period Ancient and modern.

<i>Source: Chronology of Ancient Hindu History Part 1. author and publisher ¡§ Bharata Charitra Bhaskara¡¨, ¡§Vimarsakagresara¡¨ Pandit Kota Vankatachela paakayaaji Kali 5058, AD 1957- Arya vignana Grantha Mala , Publication No 23</i>

Date: 8/23/2005 - 7:05 AM
Name: Jess Lasken
Email: jlasken@aol.com
Comments: I am in the process of publishing a book suggesting that Egyptian chronology is flawed and that literate civilization begain in the Indus Valley around 2000 BC and spread from there starting around 1700 BC. I wonder if you have some good quality photographs that could be included in the book of (1) some of the seals and (2) a few that show the massive nature of the brick platforms upon which either the upper city of Harappa or Mohanjo-Daro were build. I could also use a small map showing the location of Harappan settlements and cities. Thank you for an early reply.
Date: 5/26/2005 - 10:12 AM
Name: Alexander Muster
Email: muster@wanadoo.nl
Comments: Dear Sirs, There is still the enigma why the Harappa culture inhabitants left their homes( without war?) was it by flood (n mountainsides?) Did people die from methane gasses comming from ancient lakes ripped apart by earth-Quakes; the socalled:"QUARTERNARY LAKEBURST(s)?.my contention is that the Hymalayan mountainrange was tectonically uplifted no earlier than: 1075 Bc.AND that the bottom sediments of the Indian undersea-canyon slitmountain would yield Neocene sediments from the TOP of the Hymalayans! The Uplift of the Hymalayan Mountainrange is extremely young in: written History and, ONLY SEEMS very old, because of the sediment layers that were formed when that Mountairange wa
Date: 4/23/2005 - 1:42 PM
Name: M. Reed Brooks
Email: mreedb@gmail.com
Comments: An excellent site! I grew up in the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia in the 50's through the 70's, and was able to travel extensively. Something that struck me was that we had assumed the ancient ruins and pottery and glass that we found all along the Pursian Gulf coast were extensions of the Sumerian culture. But I think you are correct, when you say there were scattered communities of the Indus Valley civilization on the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain. Some of the things we found bear a striking resemblance to what I found on your site. The people to contact would be The King Abdulaziz Foundation For Research and Archives, in Riyadh. The Saudi Government is just waking up to the amazing, long, and diverse heritage they posse

<span style='color:blue'>The Kalakcharya- kathnaka states that their kings were known as
`Sahi'. Some of these `Sahis' were said to have been induced by a Jain
teacher to proceed to Suratta( Surastra) Vishaya ( Country) and Ujjain
in the HINDUKADESHA ( India) where they overthrew some local chiefs,
and ruled for four years until they were themselves ousted in 58 BC."

Source: Political History of India" Hemchandra Raychaudhuri, 1996
Oxford University press, New Delhi. ISBN 0 19 5643763

What this means is that the concept of a Hindu state was in vogue even in 58BC
This geographic and cultural state was legitimate entity by 58BC
<!--QuoteBegin-acharya+Dec 6 2005, 07:43 AM-->QUOTE(acharya @ Dec 6 2005, 07:43 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Date:  5/26/2005 - 10:12 AM
Name:  Alexander Muster
Email:  muster@wanadoo.nl
Comments:  Dear Sirs, There is still the enigma why the Harappa culture inhabitants left their homes( without war?) was it by flood (n mountainsides?) Did people die from methane gasses comming from ancient lakes ripped apart by earth-Quakes; the socalled:"QUARTERNARY LAKEBURST(s)?.my contention is that the Hymalayan mountainrange was tectonically uplifted no earlier than: 1075 Bc.AND that the bottom sediments of the Indian undersea-canyon slitmountain would yield Neocene sediments from the TOP of the Hymalayans! The Uplift of the Hymalayan Mountainrange is extremely young in: written History and, ONLY SEEMS very old, because of the sediment layers that were formed when that Mountairange wa
It is assumed people of Indus Valley died or disappeared. What is the rationale for this assumption?Are they not represented genetically in Indian population at all? Can any one tell which group is geneticlly most closely assosiated with people of Indus valley?Changing writing script does not mean vanishing civilization.
Why were south Indian/Hindu architecture not as famous in west as Islamic Architecture?

One of the reason why.

Great Arial photography below

Key Words:
Temples, Madurai, RajaRaja, south India, 12ft Lingum, Khajuraho, shrirangam, compare, granite, videos, documantry

Not sure if this is the right place. If there is another more appropriate place please post.

How did Buddhism die out in India?
by: Nandakumar Chandran on Jan 19 2006 3:22PM in Community

Buddhism lasted over a thousand years in the land of its origin. Two factors are generally cited as the reasons for the ultimate disappearance of the religion from India :

1. The invading hordes of the Prophet, who razed the temples and slaughtered the unresisting, idol worshipping monks

2. The Vedic revival, which drove the religion out the country.

Though we accept these two were important factors, still we do not think they represent the truly crucial reasons for the disappearance of Buddhism in India.

For, Moslem invasions primarily wrecked only Northern India. But Buddhism was such a religious force in Southern India too - Mahaayaana Buddhism itself being mainly developed in the Southern regions. So whatever happened to the the religion in the northern regions, it still doesn't explain how the religion disappeared from Southern India as well.

Brahmanical opposition to Buddhism was always present right from day one. It was not anything new. If Buddhism could survive and prosper for more than thousand years inspite of Brahmanical opposition, there's no reason for it not to survive for a longer period of time. Also the so called "brahmanical opposition" itself is exaaggerated - for historically more than any other caste it was the brahmins themselves who contributed the most in the development of Buddhism - almost every great aachaarya of Buddhism was a brahmin.

To truly understand the reason(s) for the disappearance of Buddhism in India, we've to first understand what "Buddhism" itself means in the Indian context and then understand the development of Buddhism in India in three aspects : 1. social, 2. philosophical and 3. religious.

Is Buddhism a religion?

The first thing to understand in this issue is the non-validity of the theory distinguishing Buddhism as a "religion" seperate from "Hinduism". If we see in the four thousand years worth of religious literature in India we cannot find a single reference to the word "Hinduism" anywhere! "Hinduism" is a word concocted by Europeans to refer to the myriad streams of religious faiths in the land of Hindustan. "Hindu" only means an inhabitant of the sub-continent east of the river Sindhu. The Persians pronounced "Sindu" as "Hindu" which the Greeks inturn pronounced as "Indu" - thus the word to refer to people who follow the native religions of India. Even "India" is but a Greek word for Hindustan.

In the religious sense even today a "Hindu" can be a Shaivite or a Vaishnavite or an Advaita Vedaanti or a Jainaa - each with their own set of Gods and Godesses, their own holy book(s), their own spiritual founder/teachers and their own specific way of effecting liberation.

By the time modern Indologists started their enquiries into Indian culture, Buddhism was no more a living religion in India and so these scholars couldn't evaluate it as a living religion on its own in its native soil. Influenced by their own Christian religious background (which effectively establishes its individual identity by asserting the exclusive validity of its own doctrines and negating the views of other religions as false) and what they saw of Buddhism in practice in countries like Tibet, China and Japan, western Indologists viewed Indian Buddhism in the same way - as a religion on its own. But such a perspective is fundamentally flawed because historically the development of Buddhism in India is different from the way Buddhism developed in other countries. Buddhism in India grew only in relation to its native cousins and its relationship with them is different from its relationship with the religions of the alien lands it spread to. So while it is meaninful to distinguish between Buddhism and Taoism or Shintoism as distinct religions, the same doesn't hold for its relationship with the so-called "Hinduism". Also no saint in India has ever claimed the exclusive validity of his own doctrines and totally negated the teachings of other saints as false - a new religion is only a better/more effective path to God/reality. So the relationship between Buddhism and other Indic streams is different from the relationship between, say, Islam and Christianity or either of these with any of the world religions - primarily because of their doctrines of exclusivity. Thus to try to understand Buddhism as a religion in itself distinct from "Hinduism" is a non-starter and will only lead to misinterpretation.

The various spiritual streams of India are better understood from the standpoint of the dharma. It is from the same dharmic tree that all the great spiritual streams of India, including Buddhism, sprung as branches to teach their own brand of dharma with the common goal of salvation from the cycle of rebirths. These streams have traditionally been divided into two - aastika (orthodox) and naastika (heterodox) - based on their acceptance or non-acceptance of the validity of the Vedas and the supremacy of the brahmin in the chatur varna (fourfold caste) system. But irrespective of their classification they all accepted the basic principles of dharma - to practice charity and compassion and live a life of control of the psycho/physical faculties. It is only in their metaphysical positions that they truly differed from each other.

And it is only the same people in the sub-continent who either invented their own brand of dharma or chose to follow a particular teacher. Though these streams seemingly differ in their metaphysical positions, still in terms of living they all exhorted their followers to live a life of control, charity and compassion. For a Shaivite or a Vaishnavite or a Nyaaya logician to become a Buddhist only meant abandoning a few of his existing views and practices on spirituality and adopting new ones as taught by Buddhism. To embrace a new path only meant adopting a slightly different way of life more conducive to one's own spiritual inclinations. But this seldom involved any change in existing cultural practices as they were all born/married/died the same way, ate similar food, dressed similarly, enjoyed similar past times and upheld similar ideals about the purpose of life. It was not unusual for an orthodox brahmin family to have a son who was a Buddhist, married to a woman who believed in the teachings of the Mahaaveera. They all belonged to the same civilization and lived as one people under the shade of the dharma.

So the modern view treating Buddhism as a separate "religion" distinct from "Hinduism" is flawed in many respects and lacks historical validity. The only true religion of India is the sanaatana (eternal) dharma. All the various religious/spiritual sects, including Buddhism, which originated in the land are an integral part of sanaatana dharma. The Buddha himself affirmed that he was only teaching the puraana arya dharma or the ancient aryan way of life. Buddhism in India is thus better understood as a siddhaanta or spiritual philosophy than a religion. The disappearance of Buddhism in India is no different from the disappearance of spiritual schools like Saamkhya or Vaisheshika - except that Buddhism enjoyed greater popularity amongst the masses than most other schools.

Now let us try to understand how Buddhism disappeared from the land of its origin.


Even two centuries after the Buddha the religion was only a local sect in the Eastern parts of India, though with a substantial following. It was after the war of Kalinga, that Ashoka, the Mauryan emperor, stricken with remorse at the huge loss of life, was drawn to the ethical teachings of the Compassionate One. With his royal support, Buddhism experienced a vigorous expansion. Missionaries were sent to all parts of India, from Kashmir to Ceylon and to other parts of the civilized world - China, Persia, Egypt and Greece.

Due to such royal patronage and its egalitarian world view as opposed to the caste oriented and esoteric Vedic religion, the popularity of Buddhism grew in India. The semi civilized invading hordes of Scythians, Parthians and the Huns who occupied the North Western parts of India also adopted the religion of the peoples that they conquered. Originating from the North East, Buddhism spread West and then pushed South, in the process almost eclipsing Vedic religion in India.

But even such popularity has its failings.

The fundamental reason for the Vedic caste system is the preservation of the dharma. The Veda represents the accounts of the reality experienced by the Vedic seers. The code of living of the society was framed with this Reality as the base. To have a control over one's kaama (desire) and to use one's artha (wealth) for the benefit of the society was dharma (virtue), which would lead to moksha (liberation) from the cycle of birth and death. The seers understood that to preserve the Veda was to preserve the dharma. More important was that the dharma should be lived to serve as an inspiration for the common people. Thus it was understood that those who preserved the Veda should not engage in the normal pursuits of the material world and should only be engaged in preserving the dharma at all costs. They should not work for a living and should subsist on the contributions from the society. To highlighten the importance of the work to the preservers and to stress the importance of the dharma to the society, the preservers were made the top caste - the Brahmins.

The Seers passed down the knowledge to their children, who passed it down to their children, thus making the system hereditary. The first few generations due to their proximity to the original seers must have been truly dedicated to the purpose. Leading semi-ascetic lives and keeping aloof from the material world, the Brahmins preserved the Veda subsisting solely on the grants of the society. But with the passage of time, generations down the line, pride of birth and greed due to position, soon seeped into the pure dharmic ideal. Brahmins not only took pride in their birth, but also mocked others of lower birth. The tendency to use their influence to their favor also grew. The authors of the dharma shaastrams in their works repeatedly caution the preservers not to take pride in birth or misuse their position or follow the society in its materialistic ways. A true Brahmin is one who is a friend to all and lives in purity to preserve the Veda.

The Buddha comes in at a time when the rot had set into the caste system. He remarks that the Brahmins living in villages with guards to protect their wealth, are unlike their illustrious ancestors who were chaste and unpretentious. It's a misconception that the Buddha tried to reform the caste system. He's not interested in the secular life of the society but only in the preservation of the dharma to help people escape the cycle of birth and death. He urges everybody to renounce the world and seek nirvaana. He sees the need for the Brahmin in the society, but realizes the weakness of the hereditary practice and rebels. So he goes for the other alternative. Not by mere birth, but by conduct is one a Brahmin. Buddhism is nothing but Vedic religion democratized. Bhikshus to preserve the dharma instead of the Brahmins.

But even this alternative had its weak points. With the increasing popularity of Buddhism and the royal patronage that it enjoyed, the power of the bhikshus too grew. This attracted undesirable elements into the folds of the Sangha for all the wrong reasons. We hear of bhikshus passing off doubtful teachings as the word of the Master. Mahaayaana Buddhism too in its spirit of accomodation, surrounded with cheap marvels and wonders, the lonely figure with a serene soul, simple and austere in the yellow robes, walking with bared feet and bowed head towards the city of Vaaranaasi. Soon Buddhism found itself incorporating alien beliefs like magic, sex, ritual and sacrifice. The glittering mass of metaphysical subtleties to support such beliefs, smothered the true strength of Buddhism which lay in the simple ethical teachings of the founder stressing uncompromising devotion to the moral law. And since the Sangha itself had become a powerful organization, political power struggles of the leadership also increased. Buddhism too became corrupt.

Though the Brahmins prided themselves on their birth and sometimes misused their position, they remained true to the Veda. It's due to their enterprise that the massive texts have come down to us almost intact over the millennia. The psychological implications of being born and raised in a tradition which preserves the dharma, has greater advantages than being brought anew into a tradition. Since the identity of the Brahmins depended on preserving the dharma they went all out to consolidate their position in the society. Not to be outdone in terms of purity, en masse they became vegetarian. The rules of the caste system were relaxed and the sacrificial religion was abandoned in favor of the more humane Upanishadic religion. Simpler philosophies preaching personal theism were developed for the common people to relate to.


In our mind the philosophical angle represents the truly crucial reason for the disappearance of Buddhism as a seperate religion from the Indian soil. We will analyze the development of some core issues in Buddhist philosophy to illustrate this point :

I. With the Buddha all life is suffering because of transience/change being an integral part of life. Nirvaana/reality represents the end of suffering and is to be brought about by living an ethical life and controlling the psycho/physical faculties. His attitude towards philosophy was : contemplating on and understanding the known is fruitful, but metaphysical speculation about the unknown is a sheer waste of time.

Four things may be said to truly distinguish the teachings of Buddha with other philosophers of his time :

1. Non-confirmation of reality to be changeless and permanent : Logically if the changing/momentary world was the cause of suffering then the changeless should represent reality/salvation. While other schools taught the reality of a changeless eternal consciousness in itself, which they identified as the true nature of ones own self, the Buddha was careful to point out that there's nothing that we know in our normal experience that's changeless or permanent - even the so called "consciousness" that we know is only in relation to the psycho/physical faculties and not as a thing in itself - and this consciousness is always changing and impermanent. (But on a very rare occassion - Samyutta Nikhaaya - 22.53.1 - the Buddha talks of consciousness in itself as representing liberation/reality). Thus the Buddha simply refused to talk about the changeless and the permanent.

, 2. Ambiguity with regards to the nature of reality : Asserting that reality cannot be predicated of anything known, the Buddha refused to speculate about the nature of reality. Unlike most teachers who conceptualized reality in positive terms as pure consciousness etc, the Buddha mostly kept silent on the subject or atbest characterized it in negative terms like unborn, non-compounded etc or on a very, very rare occasion said something positve about it : "The Self is the lord of the self" etc.

3. Ambiguity with regards the relationship between reality and the individual self : As is clear in the Vachhagotta Sutta the Buddha prefers not to speculate on the relationship between reality and the individual self - according to him nothing conclusive could be said about it. Thus in Buddhism nirvaana is for the great part is characterized only in an impersonal sense. So while most Indian teachers taught the reality of the Self - knowing one's own self is salvation - so the path is subjective; in contrast the Buddha ignored the self and taught the control/discipline of the non-self (anatta) - his path thus is objective.

4. The doctrine of anatta as an integral part of spiritual practice : since the Buddha's worldview was not centred on an unchanging self, the Buddha presented man as a composite of the five skandhas - form, feeling, mind, predispositions and consciousness. He classified these skandhas as the non-self (anatta) as they were all open to objective experience and thus not the "I". To understand the nature and fuction of the skandhas and disciplining them is what is required. But it is to be noted that nowhere do we find the Buddha denying the atman - anatta only meant all that's not the self - the non-self.

Anatta also has a practical utility where the individual self is negated. There are three reasons for such a teaching :

a. The individual self is a compound of the skandhas - thus it cannot be said to have any existence in itself.

b. When reality is beyond the mind and is not be attained by any action, why does it need to figure in spiritual practice at all? Understanding and disciplining the non-self - the mind/body/senses - is what is required. Including reality in a spiritual scheme only results in endless speculation on it which is actually counter productive to spiritual progress.

c. Also in the ultimate sense, one needs to let go of the will which is the root of the "I" sense for reality to manifest.

It is in these three contexts that the Buddha taught anatta.

II. Hinayaana especially the Milindapanha has an axe to grind. Engaging in polemics against the other philosophical schools Naagasena leans heavily on anatta and asserts that there's no substance in man. Even as a chariot is made up of parts and has no existence in itself apart from the parts, so is man a product of the skandhas/aggregates and thus has no existence in himself. Naagasena is silent on the ontological nature of nirvaana or whether it is anything inherent in man. The Sautraantikas take this negative trend to even greater heights - they talk only about the momentary and the changing. The Vaibhaashika school also toes the line on the non-substantiality of the self but faced with increasing criticism of the orthodox schools regarding the epistemological untenability of phenomenalism, they make a slight concession by asserting that consciousness is permanent. They also indulge in some metaphysical speculation - atomism etc.

III. Naagaarjuna comes in with three fundamental objectives :

1. to warn against excessive stress on anatta (for without the self how can the non-self exist?),

2. to condemn the speculative trend in Sarvaastivaada and

3. to assert the relativity of phenomenal knowledge and thus distinguish between the relative (samvritti) and the absolute (paramaartha).

Though Naagaarjuna condemns "anatta" he condemns in equal measures the atman doctrine too - for if the self were the truth it cannot be ambiguous - essential nature cannot be deceptive. So it is wrong to say : "I, who am now caught in samsaara, by practicing ethics and the control of the psycho/physical faculties, will attain nirvaana".

Naagaarjuna too maintains silence on the nature of reality and its relation to the self and follows the Buddha in his fundamental teaching :
a. to understand and reject unreality using shunyataa and
b. to abandon the will using the chatushkoti (fourfold negation) and bhakti (devotion) so that reality can manifest.

Naagaarjuna also makes an extremely important contribution : becoming cannot result in being - the latter being diametrically opposed to the former in nature. So action which is the root of samsaara cannot result in nirvaana. The true path is the renunciation of all action - silence. But it is to be noted that the Buddha himself specifically denied that he was teaching the path of inaction - so perhaps Naagaarjuna drew his inspiration from the traditional Upanishadic path of maunam or silence.

Till here Buddhists by always cleverly talking only about unreality or referring to liberation only in phenomenal terms as "end of suffering" or "elimination of kleshas", had always maintained an ambiguous stand on reality. They would not even declare reality to be changeless and permanent - their argument being there's nothing changeless or permanent in our normal experience. Naagaarjuna too remains ambiguous about the ontological status of nirvaana expressing it only in epistemological terms as "cessation of plurality" and the "world removed from the lens of causation is itself nirvaana" etc. But his heavy negative dialectic in condemning the unreal had earned shunyavaada the reputation of nihilism. Also the trend in Maadhyamika circles to get caught in the intellectual loop and make the chatushkoti itself a view needs to be corrected.

IV. So the Yogaacaarins come into the picture with the main objective : after chatushkoti, the necessity to practice yoga so as to attain the reality of consciousness only (vijnaanamaatra), which is changeless and permanent.

So here for the first time, necessiated by the excessive negativity of the Maadhyamika and the increasing criticism of the orthodox schools which had pushed it against a wall, Buddhism is forced to compromise on three of its historical ambiguities : the nature of reality is pure consciousness and this reality is changeless and permanent. It is only in refusing to associate reality with the individual self and decrying the latter to be without substance do they remain faithful to their philosophical heritage.

V. Now along comes Gaudapaada - an orthodox philosopher who notes the similarity of the teachings of the Mahaayaana with the Upanishads. It is to be noted that the Vedaanta was not in vogue and atbest practiced only in very select circles as historically we do not have a record of other schools even talking about it before the rise of Advaita - but now using Mahaayaana dialectic it is revived.

Gaudapaada accepts Naagaarjuna's contention that the world is like a city of Gaandharvaas (celestial beings) and is thus an illusion (maya) - but asserts that all epistemological or psychological observations of Mahaayaana presupposes a metaphysical base, ie you can dispute the metaphysical conceptions about the object but cannot deny the object itself. It can be said that the world is like a circle created by waving a firebrand. But still without the firebrand even such an analogy would not be possible. As Shankara would later assert : the negative is only the luxury of the mind, but without conceptual construction every single instance of our conscious experience only affirms something and never denies anything. Nobody says : "I'm not" or "this is not". Consciousness itself implies something positive to be conscious about. And even with respect to conceptual construction, the negative has no value in itself and exists only in relation to something positive.

The negative standpoint has its use but if you take it to its extreme, it only winds up in nihilism. Affirming an absolute is the natural next step after the chatushkoti. In contrast to the change implicit in all facets of life which represents suffering, the analysis of the three states of the waking, dream and deep sleep reveals the existance of a changeless part of our identity due to which our identity survives the three states - this is itself the pointer to reality. Also, though we know a lot of different things in different periods of time, still there is no doubt that "I am the same person who knew a thing before in the past and am knowing a thing now in the present". So the everpresent knower represents the changeless part of our identity and thus salvation.

Metaphysics if logically reconciled with Mahaayaana thought, can end only in the spiritual absolutism of the Upanishads. In the Lankaavataara Sutra when questioned whether Vijnaanavaada was not the same as the Atman doctrine, the Tathaagatha answers that while the proponents of the Atman doctrine hold that the "Self is", the Vijnaanavaadins hold that the Self neither is, nor is not, nor both, nor neither. But it is to be noted that this reference to the Atmavaadins is only directed towards those who taught the plurality of souls which was historically rooted in strong implications of individuality. But Gaudapaada interpreting the Upanishadic Atman as a single all pervasive non-dual consciousness is not liable to such criticism and thus comfortably asserts in his Kaarikaa that only those who go beyond the concepts of Self, non-Self, both or neither are truly omniscient! Gaudapaada goes all the way to show that the Upanishadic Brahman is the true teaching of the Buddha. Only the Buddha didn't teach it (naitad Buddhena baashitam) - out of practical interest. Gaudapaada provides numerous quotes from the Upanishads to support his interpretation of non-duality.

The last chapter of Gaudapaada's Kaarika - Alaatashaanti Praakarna or the quenching of the fire brand has a double meaning : 1. The philosophical counter attacks as illustrated above and 2. The signal that the Buddhists had themselves over a period of time moved very close to Vedic religion in philosophy and it was time to quench the fire brand of Buddhism into the very source from which it had erupted - the Vedic Religion, which itself had undergone tremendous transformation since the advent of the Buddha.

Here the Buddhists could have protested that Gaudapaada was hijacking their philosphy. But the chronological superiority of the Upanishads over the Buddha is the deciding factor here. The Upanishads had taught it first and so the Buddhists are on the defensive now.

Some liberal minded Buddhist scholars like Bhaavaviveka reach out to Gaudapaada in agreement. But other Buddhists like Chandrakirti, anxious to preserve the distinct identity of Buddhism, are opposed to it. They oppose two things which Buddhism has traditionally opposed : 1. any expression of the nature of the absolute and 2. the connection between the individual self and reality.

But clearly understanding that they cannot maintain their distinctness on the philosophies of Naagaarjuna and Vaasubandhu, other Buddhists - Dignaaga, Dharmakirti et al - disputing the validity of a changeless permanent reality again revive the doctrine of momentariness. So from Yogaacaara absolutism, it degenerates to Sautraantika nihilism. But it is a lost cause since the doctrine had already been discredited by Naagaarjuna and Vaasubandhu themselves - "it existed before but doesn't exist now - entails the error of nihilism" - Mulamaadhyamaka Kaarikaa : Examination of Essence . Shankara in his dialectic against Dharmakirti who does not accept a changeless permanent reality asks : if the change implicit in the functions of the psycho/physical faculties and their objects, is the reason for suffering, then without a changeless permanent reality how can there be a permanent salvation? Mere control of the psycho/physical faculties from changing to changless itself will not do, for even if such a state is achieved, owing to their natural inclinations towards their objects with all the conditions conducive to their natural functioning being present as before, it will only be a matter of time before the psycho/physical faculties start functioning/changing again. Thus without a changeless reality there cannot be any meaningful salvation from the changing unreality.

One thing to note here is that Buddhism is more a religion of reason than its other Indian counterparts - unlike the saints of Shaivism or Vaishnavism the majority of whom are poets who gained their popularity through devotional poetry (even Shankara is popular among the masses only for his highly inspired devotional hymns) - every Buddhist aachaarya was an intellectual. Buddhism sustained itself on its philosophical subtleties attracting the intelligensia in the society - naturally it caused a heavy brain drain from the braahmanical ranks.

But the rise of Advaita Vedaanta which "completes the full picture", by cooly reconciling Buddhist epistemology and psychology with Upanishadic metaphysics, with its historical prestige rooted in scripture and powered by as inspiring a figure as Shankara must have heavily stemmed the intellectual flow thus sapping the interest in Buddhist philosphy over a period of time.

Buddhist philosophy had helped the Indian mind to climb to a certain level - without doubt the concepts of maya and its implication - advaya or non-duality - are Buddhist contributions without which there would be no Advaita at all - but after a certain stage it was helpless to prevent itself from being assimilated into/by Advaita Vedaanta. Losing its strong point - philosophy (though in the negative sense) - Buddhism failed to attract new talent and gradually died out.

Advaita marks the stage where Indian philosophical thought was in synch with the scriptural vision of reality - atlast Indian philosophers could reconcile Upanishadic wisdom with reason. Historically after the rise of Advaita Vedaanta, the main attention of the Indian philosophers had turned to interpreting the scriptures thus spawning the various schools of Vedaanta. Most of the other philosophical schools quite like Buddhism were assimilated by one or the other schools of Vedaanta in the process.

Advaita Vedaanta may be said to represent the higher teachings of the Upanishads. The Maadhyamaka and the Vijnaanavaada may be said to represent the higher teachings of the Buddha. That these systems of philosophy share a lot in common in philosophy and practice itself reflects the convergence of ideals amongst the two great streams of the dharma. Shri Chandrashekara Saraswati, the former pontiff of the Shankara matha (monastery) in Kaanchipuram and thus the voice of the orthodoxy, in his work "Hindu Dharma" confirms that : "at the highest level both Buddhism and Advaita teach the same truth".


Faced with the growing popularity of Buddhism, Vedic religion relaxed its caste rules, abandoned its sacrificial religion and adopted a more humane form of worship. The Southern Vaishnavite AlzhwArs and the Shaivite Naayanmaars developed an intense form of devotional worship using songs, which caught the imagination of the people. The great Advaitin teacher Shankaraachaarya even as a young boy took up asceticism and traveled the country subduing naastikas as well as the Astikas with his incredible dialectic. Adopting the best ideals of the naastikas he developed further the fruitful suggestions of his paramaguru Gaudapaada and forged Advaita Vedanta into a logically consistent system based on the Prasthaana Traayi - the Upanishads, the Bhagavath Gita and the Brahma Sutras. The resurgence of Hinduism in India is in no small measure due to him.

Vedic religion then delivered the final coup by making the Buddha an avataar of Lord Naaraayaana, thus sounding the death knell for Buddhism in India. The Buddhists recriprocated by identifying the Mahaayaana deity Avalokateswara with Lord Naaraayaana. Following which various Hindu deities also found acceptance in the Buddhist pantheon of Gods. In the process of gradual intellectual absorption and modification, Hinayaana with its ascetic tendencies came to be regarded as a sect of Shaivism and the Mahaayaana with its devotional instincts with Vaishnavism. With the differences narrowing the practioners of both streams too moved closer - Brahmin ascetics were looked upon as brethren by the Buddhist bhikshus. In short the religion of the Compassionate One had become ultimately indistinguishable from mainstream Hinduism.

Hence the disappearance of Buddhism from India is better understood as assimilation into the very culture from which it emerged.

But as we have seen Buddhism left an indelible mark on the Vedic religion itself, which adopted its best ideals. Modern Hinduism is a blend of both Buddhism and the Vedic religion. The ideal of the Buddha lives on, in the heart of every denizen of India, who is aware of his religious heritage.

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