This is but only one example of how ugly politics has interfered in the discoveries of ancient heritage that would reinforce the antiquity and brilliance of Indian, Vedic and thus Hindu civilization, solely because it would establish Hindu glory.
A section of our historians, patronized by the government that ruled post independent India for ninety percent of the last sixty years, would like us to believe that history of India started with the fictitious, sword-swinging, horse-riding, nomadic, fair-skinned, blue- eyed Aryans invading India from ‘the land of nowhere’ and driving away the existing native Dravidians down South.
Any history before that is superstition or mythology. It is especially so if it is of Hindu interest.
One wonders what revolution it will take to bring out the truth about the past glories of India. Why can’t modern scientific methods be applied honestly to prove or disprove the claims made about the Ram Sethu or the Taj Mahal or the Babri Masjid. Why should such effort be given political and communal color? Why should such truth be concealed from public?
Past truth may be bitter but ‘modern secular India’ has to face it someday.
NEW DELHI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has quietly continued with its controversial search for the mythical river Sarasvati despite strong disapproval from the UPA government.
Though the project has been officially denied funding, parts of it have been relabelled the Ghaggar project to continue with the research.
The Ghaggar is an “intermittent river” that flows westwards during the monsoons from Himachal Pradesh towards Rajasthan.
The Sarasvati heritage project was launched in 2003-04 by Jagmohan, culture and tourism minister in the BJP-led NDA government, to prove that the Sarasvati mentioned in the Rig Veda was the same as the lost river connected to the Harappan civilisation.
The project had strong support from the Sangh Parivar and Hindu historians for obvious reasons. Left and non-Sangh Parivar historians do not deny the existence of a dried up river near old Harappan sites, but say that it would be a stretch to connect this river to the mythical Sarasvati. Not unlike the Adam’s Bridge-Ram Setu controversy, this is another project where faith muddies the waters of research.
In November 2003, Parliament’s standing committee on tourism, culture and transport, which had begun an inquiry into ASI’s functioning, sought details on the project. With a change in government at the centre in May 2004, funds were withdrawn and the project was officially abandoned.
But the ASI funded the project from its own resources. “We wanted to bring the search to a logical conclusion,” RS Bisht, former joint director, ASI, who coordinated the project during the NDA regime, told DNA.
ASI camouflaged the search for Sarasvati to make it palatable to the new political dispensation
NEW DELHI: Despite strong disapproval from the UPA government, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) decided to go ahead with its controversial search for the mythical river Sarasvati.
Enquiries by DNA based on a detailed perusal of official documents and extensive interviews with a cross-section of ASI officials show that the ASI has effectively camouflaged the search for Sarasvati.
“The project has been kept going by renaming it to make it palatable to the new political dispensation at the centre, and by breaking it into several smaller projects across Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan,” said a senior official of the ASI, who declined to be identified. Bisht confirms this. “It was suggested by many people that to counter Leftist propaganda we should call the Sarasvati (project) as Ghaggar in future proposals.”
Like Ram Setu, there are deep divisions among historians and archaeologists over the existence of the river Sarasvati. While Left and mainstream historians point out that there is no evidence to show that the river ever existed, right-wing scholars argue that Harappan civilisation’s lost river was indeed the Sarasvati.
“Ghaggar is Sarasvati,” asserts S Kalyanaraman, director of the privately-funded Sarasvati Research Centre, Chennai. Outside the Sangh Parivar, the consensus is that there is indeed a lost river from the Harappan civilisation, but it has been identified as the original and bigger version of today’s Ghaggar.
“The underlying historical assumption made by a section of ASI officials is that the mythical Sarasvati and the real Ghaggar are one and the same. No scientific evidence to prove this has ever been found,” says Dr RS Fonia, director, exploration and excavation, ASI.
The ASI admitted before a standing committee of the Parliament that “no academic body or university has recommended the project.” The Parliamentary standing committee asked the ASI not to pursue such projects, yet excavations continued.
S Kalyanaraman, a PhD in Public Administration, University of Philippines, and director of the privately-funded Sarasvati Research Centre in Chennai, spoke to DNA on the Archaeological Survey of India’s findings, and why he thinks the mythical river mentioned in the Rig Veda is none other than the Ghaggar.
The ASI conducted excavations envisaged in the Sarasvati heritage project with its own money. What are the findings that you know of?
Bhirrana is a remarkable excavation. The discoveries there point to the possibility of identifying the Vedic people. This site shows that the origins of civilisation are in the Sarasvati river valley, circa 6000 BC. There are as yet unexcavated sites which are larger than Harappa or Mohenjodaro in Bhatinda, Gurnikalan, and Lakhmirwala.
If that is the case, then why does not the ASI go ahead with these plans?
They should. Unfortunately, Jaipal Reddy (information minister) and Ambika Soni (the culture minister) assisted by Sitaram Yechury (of the CPM) have killed Jagmohan’s systematic approach. A section of ASI officials who believe in the Sarasvati are quietly working on it by calling it Ghaggar in their proposals.
Has the river been found?
The river has been found, foot by foot; unfortunately ASI doesn’t talk to the ministry of water resources and the regional remote sensing services centre at Jodhpur (ISRO) to get the details of the scientific seminar on the subject. Ghaggar is Sarasvati.
The ASI should read the brilliant work by the most eminent Himalayan ecologist, Prof KS Valdiya, ‘Sarasvati: The River That Disappeared’. It is a brilliant scientific document which can provide a basis for a journey into the past along the Sarasvati river basin of periods prior to 2000, before the common era.
But there is considerable dispute about whether Sarasvati is the lost river of the Harappan civilisation. Isn’t it?
Romila Thapar (historian) asked KS Valdiya, “OK, professor, you have found the river, but how do you say she is Sarasvati?” The professor replied: “OK, madam, you look like a woman, but how do you know you are Romila? Our ancient texts, our mothers are emphatic that a mighty river Sarasvati drained in Bharatam.”
So then, does this mean the Indus Valley civilisation and the Vedic civilisation or Sarasvati civilisation are one?
Yes. Indus valley was so called because the site Mohenjodaro was on the river Sindhu (Indus). Now that over 2,000 of the 2,600 sites are found to be on the river Sarasvati, the civilisation should be called the Sarasvati civilisation. It is a continuum into Bharatiya sabhyataa (culture). Every Bharatiya is a child of Sarasvati ancestors. I have proved it in eight volumes. Let Yechury and company read them and come back to me for a debate. ISRO’s map of river Sarasvati adorns the PM’s office and is shown to foreign dignitaries with pride.
Do you think that the ASI is an ideologically divided institution?
Yes. Ideologically driven politicians control ASI. The river’s presence is so dominant, that Sarasvati cannot be wished away by mere name-change. Ghaggar is river Sarasvati’s ancient channel.