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Religion of the Indus culture

Updated on June 3, 2014
Mohenjo Daro
Mohenjo Daro

Excavations at Indus-Ghaggar valley have provided us with ample of proofs those can give us fairly well idea of the religion people of those times practiced. Though the Indus script yet is to be deciphered, the physical remains talk themselves of the glory Indus people possessed. With the available material evidences there should not be any doubt that the non-Vedic, Shaivait faith had been prevalent in those times. The religion that still is practiced by the Indian non-Vedic Hindu religion. The Shaivait tradition now is enriched with profound philosophies those were developed in the course of the time. It will be unwise to say Indus-Ghaggar civilization was declined and vanished from the pages of the time. We can clearly see how it has been continuously flowing adopting changes and thus modifying itself to till date.

Let us have a look at the findings at Indus-Ghaggar civilization and its significance over today’s religion Hindu’s are practicing.

Yogishvar Shiva
Yogishvar Shiva

1. Yogishvar Shiva Seal:

Such ample of seals are abundantly found in the remains of Indus-Ghaggar civilization. The image over the seal is called as “Yogishvar Shiva” as the deity in image is seating in Yogic posture with horned headdress. Most of the scholars believe that this is the image of proto-Shiva whereas some scholars opine that this image may not represent Shiva.

One must remember here that the Indian mythology unanimously declares that the Yoga was first introduced to the mankind by benevolent Lord Shiva. He has been called Yogishvar because not only he created Yoga, he himself is an eternal Yogi! Indeed Yoga has been practiced mostly in non-Vedic tradition since time unknown.

The myth is, Patanjali, who wrote first treaty on yoga, was born from Shiva's palm by his water tribute. Thus the name is Patanjali...born from Shiva's palm. This also suggests how yoga is perpetually associated with Shiva.

On his head we can see a hornlike headdress, the horn winged in the shape of crescent moon. Presently in the images of Shiva a single crescent moon is depicted. It seems that over the time, with changes in iconography, the changes might have occurred, while adorning other attributes such as serpent in neck. However there can be no doubt that the image on the seal is of Shiva.

Shivlingam, Found at kalibangan, 2600 BC
Shivlingam, Found at kalibangan, 2600 BC

2. We have another proof that clearly indicates the Shaivait faith of the Indus-Ghaggar people. This is terracotta Shivlingam found at Kalibangan site, carbon dated 2600 BC.

This is the same Lingam that is worshiped even today in the same form by almost every Hindu. This provides us insight in the religious practice of the Indus people that is preserved and practiced even today. In India, almost everywhere, millions of such Shivlingams are venerated most piously.

In the country, from the mountain Kailasa to Rameshvaram and from Somanatha (Gujrat) to Asam there will not be a single town or village where Shiva in Lingam form is absent! Looking at overwhelming Shiva Lingams all over the country, if we call this country "Shivadesha" (Country of Shiva), it would not be an exaggeration. In fact unity of this country, despite different languages and races, can be attributed to a common factor, that is Shiva worship.

Pashupati
Pashupati

3. Shiva’s main epithet is Pashupati, Lord of the animal. A sect in Shaiva religion is called “Pashupata” those worship Shiva in the Lord of Animal form. He is protector of animal. The seal depicts a male figure sitting in Yogic Posture surrounded by the animal, praising the Lord. Worthy here is to mention that famous Shiva temple in Nepal is called “Pashupati Nath”. Though Vedic’s tried to connect Shiva with Vedic Rudra on the basis of this slightest similarity, Vedic Rudra is characteristically entirely different deity than Shiva.

4. Here we come across Bull seal. Bull seals are so much so common in Indus civilization. It is proven that Indus-Ghaggar civilization was primarily an agrarian society. Bull has a special significance in the agrarian life even now as he is helpful for tilling the farms, pulling the carts and many other agriculture related work.

Also Bull represents male prowess. Bull's are beautifully depicted on the Indus seals. It was but natural for Indus-Ghaggar people to give him a special position in their religious and social life. Appearance of thousands of Bull seals proves that how those people revered an trusted animal. Even now in the villages Bull is still worshiped with a festival dedicated to him.

Importance of Bull in Indian culture doesn’t end here. Before every Shiva Temple we can see a bull idol in sitting position and is paid tribute by the devotees before entering the temple. It is evident from above that the tradition of Bull worship has its roots in the Indus-Ghaggar culture.

Shakti...the Mother Goddess
Shakti...the Mother Goddess

5. Mother Goddess worship is as ancient as human history and practiced almost every corner of the world. Shiva worship conducted in phallic form while Mother Goddess was worshiped in female organ form or in human form. We have ample of the proofs that the phallic worship was being practiced by the Indus-Ghaggar people in both the forms, i.e. organ form as well as in human form.

From the available proofs we can see that in the beginning Shiva and Shakti (Male and Female gods) were worshiped independently. In later course it seems that both were unified in Shivlingam form. The unification must have been done when “Advaita” (Monism) philosophy of Shaiva’s had emerged.

Shakti (Also known by various names such as Parvati, Jagdamba, Amba etc.) is consort of Shiva in Indian mythology, sometimes worshiped separately by some cults called as Shakta’s. Shakti, under her various names have independent temples, whereas when in Shiva temple she always is in unified form with him.

Indus-Ghaggar finds gives us clear idea how the tradition have perpetually been flowing to us.

Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha | Source

6. This is the head of Ganesha, an elephant God, most revered after Shiva and Shakti. He also is the God of intelligence, and destroyer of disasters. Traditionally he is said to be son of Shiva and Parvati.

The image, if carefully looked at the traces of vermillion can be seen. Even today Ganesha idol is painted with vermillion.

Need not to mention here the entire above God’s are not from the Vedic tradition. In fact idol worship is not at all a part of Vedic rituals. The same Gods are being worshiped even today in almost every household. This shows how Indus-Ghaggar cultural traditions are preserved by the Hindu masses.

When and where Vedic religion took birth is a matter of great dispute and is mostly left to the varied speculations in absence of the physical evidence. Only thing is evident that the Indus-Ghaggar civilization never did come under influence of the Vedic religion!

© 2013 Sanjay Sonawani

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      Dayana 2 years ago

      Big help, big help. And surlpeative news of course.

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      Alesson 2 years ago

      No matter how old the post may be, your cneommt is more than welcome here! It's always a pleasure to meet other Shivanauts! I picked it up really fast too, and that's one of my big frustrations with my practice: it seems that I am unable to do whatever I'd have to do in order to make it hard enough but it's all part of the game, and that's Shiva Nata's sneaky way to make me work on some big patterns of mine :)Don't hesitate to jump ahead and play with the other levels, to go back and forth between them and keep things fun (and hard!). These days, I'm playing with levels 1 to 5, depending on my mood, and I've even invented a new one somewhere in the middle of those a few days ago.There are several Shivanauts in the UK, and I've even met one of them in person! Maybe you could ask about them in a cneommt on the Shiva Nata blog, or in a personal ad on Havi's blog. You could also keep your eyes open for them in the cneommts on Havi's blog people sometimes mention they are Shivanauts, and then you can click through to their blog and find out where they are. Or come hang out with us on Twitter, you'd quickly find quite a few of them there!

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      Nana 2 years ago

      Ridiculously reverent is a wordfneul blog. But atleast some youngsters move to hindu , coz they arent acceptd in Christianity coz they are Gay/bi etc.Hindu spirituality has nothng to do with it. But Being a hindu or hindutva ,the way of life of a hindu is against such acts as christianity is. Vivekabhudi' or power to differentiate right-wrong is what which makes human different from animals. And hinduism is for those who have this viveka. So people who dnt even have the diligence of animals are not suited for hinduism.Such people who misuse of Unorganised structure of hinduism really make us hindus ashamed.

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      Mahaveer Sanglikar 2 years ago from Pune, India

      You may like to read:

      Jainism in The Time of Indus Valley Civilization

      The discovery of the Indus Civilization seem to have thrown a new light on the antiquity of Jainism. The time assigned by the Scholars to this culture is 3000 B. C. on the archaeological evidence and on the evidence of the relations with the cultures of the other countries. The religion of the Indus culture seems to be quite different from the religion of the Indus culture seems to be quite different from the religion of the Aryans in the Vedic period. At Mohenjodaro and Harappa, iconism is every where apparent. But it is extremely doubtful whether images were generally worshipped in the ancient Vedic times. In the Rig-Veda and the other Vedas, there is worship of Agni, Sun, Varuna and various other deities. But they were worshipped in the abstract form as manifestations of a divine power. There are no doubt passages where the deities of the Rig-Veda are spoken of as possessed of bodily attributes. R. G. VIII 175 speaks of the limbs and sides of Indra and prays Indra to taste honey with is tongue. In Rig. I. 155-6 Vishnu is said to approach a battle with his huge body and as a youth. It is possible to argue that all these descriptions are poetic and metaphoric. But there are two passages of time Rig-Veda that cause mush more difficulty than the above. Rg. VIII 1. 5. says, ‘o Indra, I shall not give thee for even a great price, not even for a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand. It may be argued that here, there is a reference to an image of Indra. But it is not convincing. It is equally possible to hold that these are hyperbolic or boastful statements of the great devotion of the worshipper to Indra and that there is no reference to an image of Indra. In most of the earlier and more authoritative Brahmanas which lay down in detail the rules of the rituals, associated with the Vedic sacrifices, there is no reference to images which would certainly have been explicitly mentioned, had they been regarded as necessary. In the subsequent period, when the image worship-had come to play a definite part in Brahamanic religion, detailed descriptions of these are not lacking. But the cult of symbols and images seems to have been current among the people who continued the traditional religious practices of the settlers of the Indus Valley region. These people seem to be the Jains because the image worship was prevalent among them in the times of Nandas and Mauryas.1 It seems that the image worship might have been copied by the Brahmanas from the Jains.

      http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~pluralsm/affiliates/ja...

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