The Lost River: Harappans and Vedic People

Michel Danino’s The Lost River (Penguin, March 2010) has been reviewed by V. Rajamani in the well-known scientific journal Current Science (25 December 2010, vol. 99, no. 12, pp. 1842–43)

Part three of the book deals with the important question ‘If Ganges civilization was built upon Harappan legacy, and if so, how much of a legacy?’ By comparing the similarities in architecture, town planning, weights and scales, technology and crafts, the Brahmi script and the religious symbols of Harappan and Gangetic civilizations, the author concluded that: (i) Indianness started with Harappans, (ii) Harappans were Rig Vedic people and (iii) the present Ganges civilization is a new avatar of the Indus– Sarasvati civilization. The discussion to counter the various arguments of several earlier workers to negate the existence of the Sarasvati River in the geographic domain of present-day Ghaggar and its mightiness makes interesting reading for those who believe in the complexities of nature.[Current Science, Dec, 2010]

According to Danino’s book, the Rig Vedic people lived during the Harappan period, but that does not mean that all Harappans were Vedic people. This is what I wrote in my review in the Aug 2010 issue of Pragati.

In the absence of any new Aryan material culture and with genetic studies discrediting an Aryan invasion/migration, Mr Danino argues that there can only be one conclusion: Vedic culture was present in the region in the third millennium BCE. Many Indian archaeologists also argue that Vedic people lived along the banks of Sarasvati while it flowed from the mountain to the sea during the Mature Harappan period. Mr Danino, however, refrains from concluding that the Harappans were Vedic people because such a conclusion can only be made after the Indus script has been deciphered.[The mysterious Sarasvati]

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