Indus valley or not?

I have been reading tidbits about the debates – was Harappan civilization truly the “Indus valley” civilization? Or were those cities built around some other river as well (Saraswati, Ghaggar-Hakra?) that doesn’t exist today? How did it end, an invasion, or geographical changes? In that context, I looked up the latest class XII NCERT text books to see what they say. Well, they do use the phrase “Indus valley civilization”, (Refer class XII material on Harappan Civilization), and there is no talk of Saraswati yet. On how it ended – the book leaves it open ended with talk of drastic climate changes as well as a note on the invasion theory.

Writing in detail on the “Indus or not” debate itself will require me to read and comprehend a lot. But I thought of sharing a thing many may not know. All NCERT books are available online now. I found NCERT books to be well written, would they still be a good source for quick 101 like information on history, economics, geography and more? Find them all here.

Few easy online sources on Harappa: Harappa.com ! And there always is Wikipedia (trust with care!).

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20 Responses

  1. hmm… this is a very contentious part of our history no? with a lot of debate what with all the monies, reputations, politics and theories at stake.
    The invasion theory really has ZERO support. So in academic circles it is disgarded. Though it continues to be peddled in text books.

    Now it is migration theory that is the in thing.
    and migration theory vs indigenous thoeries are fighting it out.

    anywho given the eminent historians who have the keys to history in india, there is no hope in getting even a cyclostyle version of the true picture.

    btw who reads NCERT textbooks to get history? it is like reading stardust to understand movies.

  2. ZERO support as in evidence.

  3. pranav:

    “All NCERT books are available online now.”

    my (high) expectations were dashed. the site only has the contents page(s), not the actual contents :-(.

    – s.b.

  4. SB:
    u have to click on a chapter in the contents page, it then takes u to that chapter. I have read some chapters in the history book.

  5. Tarle dear, well, I read my first history lessons in those books. And most of those stuck. All my geography came from those books. The fact that the history we read is still as was interpreted mostly by Europeans (Max Mueller etc) is a separate one – it doesn’t touch the NCERT books alone. I do think those text books provide quick and compact information.

    Anyway, back to the Harappa debates, I have read a few books on the subject. Will someday do a post with quotes from those. Badly want to visit some sites. And may be, later in life, try some research myself. No jokes!

    some body, yes it is a bit confusing, but Bangalorean showed you the way out.

  6. okie dokie. :) (i need to remember to add these smilies more often.)

    anyway… you stick around on the topic. can be done.
    my friend’s parents, especially her mom, both way beyond retirement, are doing some pretty serious cross validation & verification of talageri’s(himself a bank employee) book. had a pretty nice discussion with her parents when they were visiting.

    hey, I wanted to ask you this. what is the actual sher shah nomenclature for the grand ‘trunk’ road?

  7. bangalorean:

    thanks for getting me up to speed. funny that class 8 still has bharti part 3 for hindi, though maybe the contents are different!!

    pranav:

    i had the same response to tarle that you did, but reading what he wrote closely, i wonder where he needs to add smileys anyway, since i did use stardust (and star & style) to know as little indian film gossip as i then did (pre-internet days). how different is that from, say, people magazine here in the usa?

    tarle:

    all said and done, i will still pick my old ncert texts over icse or other ones. i disagree that the books made history boring(if that is what you guys are hinting at) – it was upto the teachers and/or the examination papers/questions that should take more of the blame. more than two decades after it happened, i still remember an excellent history class i had where my teacher had narrated the events related to mangal (pre-aamir khan publicity :-) pandey.

    – s.b.

  8. sb..
    i was talking about ‘accuracy’ & ‘unbiasedness’. textbooks like stardust/people are all about ‘heros’ and not actors. & it will always be about what the editors think the readers want and not about what cinema really is about.

    boring. who said history is boring? very interesting but ultimately a useless piece of junk, mostly. mainly because it is reduced to the business of ‘creating’ heros, reduced to a business of creating nostalgia of a mythical golden era, of establishing false basis using histories & characters that never were to bolster modern day experiments & theories and so on the litany goes… history is really purana only pretending to carry authencity.

    enuf said.

  9. tarle:

    sorry about the ‘boring’ mix-up. i thought i saw it in this series of responses, i guess it was somewhere else.

    “what is the actual sher shah nomenclature for the grand ‘trunk’ road?”

    per wiki, it is ‘Sadak-e-Azam’ [standard wiki disclaimers :-)]. or did you ask pranav because he might have more correct info than the wiki?

    – s.b.

  10. Sadak-e-Azam so they say. Wikipedia is usually right when talking about things that can’t be ‘manufactured’ :)

    About history being purana, useless or not – why get into that debate Tarle or s.b.. My interest has a few drivers. 1) Key Unknowns: there are a lot of unknowns, and all controversial theories seem to have come from European scholars. 2) Sociology – history (ancient, religious) is one way you can explain so many things you see today. Chalta hai, to lack of collective wisdom to tolerance to cowardice. 3) Soft divides – why the hell have we stayed this ‘different’ (regions) and yet not gone on to become like Europe.

  11. when you guys, whoever is interested, goes to harappa to learn more of the civilization and try to decipher their writing, don’t forget to take along sayesha and viv!

    – s.b.

  12. well…sorry if i’m posting something out of the topic…
    but urgently needed class 7 ncert maths textbook…is that avilable online..can anyone please send me the link

  13. can u post me d link of all online ncert history textbooks of std 9,10,11,12 plzzzz
    thx

  14. You all are very correct to identify the Indus Valley history as contentious part of Indian history. Currently, as in the past 50 years or so, Indian nationalists claim that it shows the fragments of a type of proto-Hinduism (specifically referring to the proto-Shiva seal). The purpose to make this claim is to show the continuity of Hindu culture on the subcontinent from the very beginning, thus lending authority to modern conservative Hindu nationalists. However, this claim is not an academic one and the evidence is sketchy at best.

    The invasion theory was ruled out over 50 years ago and new anthropological and archaeological theories have emerged. The primary evidence suggesting a violent invasion were the 12-15 skeletons found in a “well” at Mohenjo-Daro. These bodies have evidently suffered some sort of “violent” trauma, but it could be anything, really. Personally, I argue against any idea that they were haphazardly tossed into the well as a makeshift grave. If you study the burial positions of all of the bodies at Mohenjo-Daro you will find continuity in their mortuary positions — they all face, oddly enough, in directions where there are monumental buildings (i.e. palaces, etc.), thus, perhaps, indicating that they were placed there facing a specific structure intentionally, as if to do “darshan” in the afterlife (though this interpretation is problematic in many many ways).
    As for the Sarasvati river — there is evidence to suggest that the present Indus river was not always in its current position. It has been suggested by several scholars that the Indus shifted directions several millennia ago, thus causing the civilization the formed in its basin to “dry up” and “die.” The evidence for this has also been cited as evidence for the historical Sarasvati river. In reality, they could very well be the exact same river.
    The leading Indus Valley Civ. scholar is J.M. Kenoyer out of Wisconsin Madison. He’s published extensively and I believe also runs that Harappa website. Thomas Trautmann has written a book on the construction of Aryan identity by the British and Edwin Bryant has written a book on the Indo-Aryan migration debate. Both are solid scholars and highly influential.
    Personally, I believe that if there was, at all, a Vedic or proto-Hindu culture that existed in the Indus Valley civilization we will not find it by searching for similarities to much much later Vedic/Hindu culture. We can only disseminate the influence/non-influence by focusing on the differences between the two cultures. After all, there is well over a thousand year difference between the decline of the Indus civilization and the rise of “classical” Indian civilization that gave rise to Ashoka, Sanskrit, and Indian culture that we can identify as “historical” and ancient.

    Hope this sorry little dissertation is of interest and help. =) best wishes.

  15. Thanks for the informative comment mdm11. I have some things to add based on a few books I have read on the subject. Would do that soon…

  16. Okay =) I am by no means a specialist on the Indus valley, but over the years I’ve had to wrestle with it a number of times and these are my basic reflections.

  17. can someone plz send me the link of the book samajik vigyan part 1 for class 8
    i will be grateful if you do so

  18. harappa surely is a pre aryan civilisation.possehl says that H
    could have been inhabited by proto-dravidians apart from
    mundas,altaics etc.but certainly not aryans.there is a hiatus
    of time between the decline of H and aryan`s vedic culture.
    burials at R37 and cem H indicate the non-aryan burial
    practices.Timarghara populations bear close affinity with
    H people but remember TMG population belongs to
    meditterranean[dravidian]type.

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