Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Govt. reconstitutes panel for studying mythical Sarasvati River

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rigvedic rivers

Mains level : Not Much

The Centre has reconstituted an advisory committee to chalk out a plan for studying the mythical Sarasvati River for the next two years after the earlier panel’s term ended in 2019.

Do you know?

Rigveda describes India as a land of Sapta Sindhavah.

There is a verse in Nadistuti sukta of Rigveda , hymn of praise of rivers which mentions the following 10 rivers: Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Sutudri, Parusni, Asikni, Marudvrdha , Vitasta , Arjikiya , Susoma.

The Shutudri was Sutlej, Parushni was Ravi, Asikni was Chenab and Vitasta was Jhelum.

Sarasvati River

  • The Sarasvati River is an extinct river mentioned in the Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts.
  • As a physical river, it is described as a small river ending in “a terminal lake (Samudra).
  • As the goddess Sarasvati, the main referent for the term “Sarasvati” which developed into an independent identity in post-Vedic times, she is described as a powerful river and mighty flood.
  • The Sarasvati is also considered by Hindus to exist in a metaphysical form, in which it formed a confluence with the sacred rivers Ganges and Yamuna, at the Triveni Sangam.

Vedic reference of the river

  • Rigvedic and later Vedic texts have been used to propose identification with present-day rivers, or ancient riverbeds.
  • The Nadistuti hymn in the Rigveda (10.75) mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west.
  • Later Vedic texts like the Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas, as well as the Mahabharata, mention that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert.

What led to its extinction?

  • Since the late 19th-century, scholars have proposed to identify the Rig Vedic Saraswati river with the Ghaggar-Hakra river system.
  • This flows through northwestern India and eastern Pakistan, between the Yamuna and the Sutlej.
  • Recent geophysical research suggests that the Ghaggar-Hakra system was glacier-fed until 8,000 years ago, and then became a system of monsoon-fed rivers.
  • ISRO has observed that major Indus Valley Civilization sites at Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Banawali and Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat) lay along this course.
  • The Indus Valley Civilisation may have declined as a result of climatic change when the monsoons that fed the rivers diminished at around the time civilisation diminished some 4,000 years ago.
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