About the Book:
The archaeological discoveries at Harappa in the Punjab and at Mohen-jo-Daro in Sind have pushed back the monumental history of India from the third century B.C. to at least the beginning of the third millennium B.C. by one single stroke. A series of literary monuments, the Vedic Samhitas, the Brahmanas, and the Sutras, have long been known, the youngest in age among which is probably older than the third century B.C. But a wide divergence of opinion relating to the age of these works and particularly of the Rigveda among scholars renders their use as sources of history unsafe. On the ground that in the Rigvedic period the year began with the summer solstice when the sun was in conjunction with the lunar mansion Phalguni, Tilak and Jacobi assigned that work to 4,000 B.C.; while others, having regard to the extraordinary similarities of the Avestan and Vedic languages and the probability that the Avesta is not very ancient, place it nearly three thousand years later (about 1,200 B.C.). But it may now be hoped that archaeology will one day enable students to fix the chronology of the Vedic literature with greater degree of certainty. To facilitate the co-ordination of the data of Archaeology with literary evidence I propose to discuss in this paper some of the passages in the Vedic literature that throw light on the early history of the Indus valley. Muir's Original Sanskrit Texts and Macdonell and Keith's Vedic Index make such a discussion easier.
A broad division between an earlier and a later phase may be distinguished in the Vedic period, the former represented by the Rigveda Samhita and the latter by the Yajurveda Samhitas, the Brahmanas and the Sutras. Modern scholars also recognise different chronological strata in the hymns of the Rigveda. Books (Mandalas) II to VII, known as the "family books," are the oldest. Next in order of time follow Books I and VIII. Book X is the final addition, a sort of supplement to the older compilation, and book IX is made up of Soma hymns extracted from the "family books."
Rigvedic India comprises the territory watered by the might Indus with its western and eastern tributaries and the river Sarasvati. The Jumna (Yamuna) is mentioned thrice and the Ganga (Ganges) directly only once in the Rigveda Though the term samudra occurs very often in the sense of a terrestrial depository of water it has been asserted that, "In the period of the Rigveda there is no clear sign that they (the Aryan tribes) had yet reached the Ocean. No passage even renders it probable that sea navigation was known..... The word samudra, which in later times undoubtedly means 'Ocean,' occurs not rarely ; but where the application is terrestrial, there seems no strong reason to believe that it means more than the stream of the Indus in its lower course, after it has received the waters of the Punjab". In the Vedic Index the same authority subscribes to the opposite view. The authors of the Vedic Index write :-
'In other passages he (Zimmer) thinks that samudra denotes the river Indus when it received all its Punjab tributaries. It is probable that this is to circumscribe to narrowly the Vedic knowledge of the ocean, which was almost inevitable to people who knew the Indus. There are references to the treasures of the ocean, perhaps pearls or the gains of trade, and the story of Bhujyu seems to allude to marine navigation.'
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