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.
- 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.