We have great pleasure in publishing the book 'Indra-Vrtra Myth
and Tectonic Upheavals' by our research student Dr. P.V. Pathak
who prepared this research work for his Ph. D. Degree under the
guidance of Prof. S.A.Upadhyaya, Director of Bhavan's Mungalal
Goenka Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research. The
present monograph in an abridged version of his original
We hope the work will enrich the field of Indology in general
and Vedic studies in particular.
The Indra-Vrtra myth in the major myth in the Vedic literature.
Indra was highly eulogized by the Vedic seers, for having
killed fierce demon and arch enemy Vrtra. According to the
Satapatha-Brahmana, the basic yajna ritual of
darsapaurnamasesti was formulated Indra to kill Vrtra. The
Indra-Vrtra myth is at the centre stage of the Vedic
literature, so much so that no Vedic scholar can claim to have
completed his Vedic studies, unless he has studied the
Indra-Vrtra myth and made up his opinion about the nature of
Vrtra. It is like Bhagavadgita in the discipline of the Indian
Philosophy. And therefore, since ancient days, scholars have
expressed different opinions about the nature of Vrtra. The
text of Nirukta dating back to 3000B.P. or earlier, quotes
three opinions prevailing in those times. When the western
scholars took up the Vedic studies in the modern times, they
came out with altogether different views. So also the modern
day Indian scholars have expressed their opinions on the nature
of Vrtra. All these modern scholars have given their
interpretations in the light of modern day knowledge covering
the scientific and sociological disciplines of studies. Summary
of their opinions is given and commented in the text.
The present author too was involved in studying the Vedic
literature and had to study the Indra-Vrtra myth. At the time
he took up his studies in early 1980s, the "Plate tectonic"
theory of the movement of Earth's crust had just been
developed. He was familiar with the basic postulates of the
"Plate tectonics". On studying the various aspects of the
Indra-Vrtra conflict in the Rgveda, he concluded that the demon
Vrtra, as described in the text of Rgveda, was neither a demon
nor a cloud or serpent, but was an earthen bund formed due to
tectonic upheavals in the Indus and the neighbouring region,
which is tectonically sensitive region.
His papers dealing with the Indra-Vrtra myth were first
published in the Annals Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute
(Pathak: 1983, 1984, 1986). Dr. G.B. Palsule, then editor of
Annals (A.B.O.R.I.), encouraged author to go in dept of the
Indra-Vrtra myth. Later on Prof. S.A. Upadhyaya, Director, P.G.
& Research Dept. of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, took keen interest
in the topic and made it possible for the author to get
registered as a Ph.D. student with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The
present volume is the abridged version of the Ph.D. thesis
submitted by the author to the University of Mumbai, with a few
additions incorporating his later research.
The author had to study the Indra-Vrtra myth when his wife
agreed to offer Vedic Sanskrit for her Post-graduation, when
they both studied the Visvamitra-Nadi dialogue hymns (RVI.32
and III.33) together. It was then clear to the author that the
Indra-Vrtra myth was being the terrestrial Phenomena. Buy for
his wife consenting to offer the Vedic Sanskrit for her P.G.
studies, it was very unlikely that the author would have ever
studied it. She had to indirectly suffer for it. The
Indra-Vrtra myth absorbed me so much that I went ahead with
studying, some times neglecting my duties of a house-holder. I
know, she has no regrets but appreciates it.
Prof. S.A. Upadhyaya took keen interest in the topic. But for
his guidance and constant encouragement, it would not have been
possible initially to submit the thesis and now to get it in
print. As a mark of deep respect I dedicate this volume to him.
The library staff of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai; K.R. Cama
Oriental Institute, Mumbai and Deccan Collage, Pune have
co-operated during the literature survey. Author thanks them
sincerely. Shri Girish Jani and Smt. Prachi Moghe, Asst.
Directors of Bhavan's P.G. & Research Dept., took real troubles
to go through the text, did proof-reading and editing of the
text. Author thanks them sincerely.
I am thankful to the University of Mumbai for kindly permitting
me to publish this thesis (vide Letter no. Th/6060 of 1997
dated 21-8-1997). Thanks are also due to Publishers, the
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, to publish this work.
The lost few words for my wife and two daughters. They
patiently endured my obsession with the Indra-Vrtra myth. In
India we don't thank our wives, sons or daughters. That's being
too formal. The author too does not want to set that precedent
of expressing just formal thanks.
Dr. Pramod Vishnupant Pathak (b.1951) is a Chemical and
Environment Engineer by profession. He did his B.Tech. from
Nagpur University in 1972 and M.Tech. from I.I.T., Mumbai in
1974. He was awarded Ph.D. in Ancient Indian Culture by the
University of Mumbai in 1992. His thesis is entitled as
"Tectonic Upheavals in the Indus Region and Interpretation of
the Vrtra Myth" which he prepared under guidance of Prof. S.A.
Upadhyaya, Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Mungalal Goenka
Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research. His deep
interest in the Ancient Indian Culture and the Vedic literature
prompted him to do research in Indology and the Indus Culture.
He has established correlation of the famous 'Pasupati' seal
from Mohenjodaro with the Atharvavedic hymns II. 34, with
presiding deity Pasupati. Later on he showed that many Indus
seals are pictorial representations of the Atharvavedic hymns.
In his recent book on Archaeology and Ethno-archaeology of
Afghanistan, 'The Afghan Connection', Dr. P.V. Pathak has dealt
in depth with the Rigvedic past of Afghanistan and identified
the 'Dasa' tribes and their purs being located in the Seistan
province of Southern Afghanistan. More than forty research
articles are to his credit.
In the present books, Dr. Pathak has thrown light on the nature
of Rigvedic demon Vrtra, the archenemy of Indra. Author has
elaborated the geological and tectonic background of the
Indra-Vrtra conflict in the Rigvedic lore and has shown that
Vrtra was an earthen bund formed due to tectonic upheavals in
the Indus river valley and the neighbouring region. He has
given rc by rc explanation on the nature of Vrtra who held
captive the river waters. He has further correlated the Vrtra
myth with Vrtra myth with Verethragna in the Avestan lore and
Vahagna in Armenian folk-lore. This book is an abridged version
of his Ph.D. thesis.
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