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Encyclopedia > Sarasvati River

The Sarasvati River is an ancient river that is mentioned in Hindu texts. The Nadistuti hymn in the Rig Veda mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west, and later texts like the Mahabharata mention that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert. The largest concentration of Indus Valley sites appears to be east of the Indus, at and near the dried-up Ghaggar-Hakra riverbed. The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ... Yamuna is a major river of northern India, with a total length of around 1370 km. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ... The Mahabharata (Devanagari: महाभारत, phonetically Mahabharata - see note), sometimes just called Bharata, is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. ... The Indus (सिन्‍धु नदी) (known as Sindhu in ancient times) is the principal river of Pakistan. ... The Indus is a river; the Indus River. ... The Ghaggar is a seasonal river in India, flowing when water is available from monsoon rains. ... The Hakra is the dried-out channel of a river in Pakistan that until about 2000 BC - 1500 BC was the continuation of the Ghaggar River in India. ...


There is also a small present-day Saraswati River that joins the Ghaggar river and appears to be one of the branches of the ancient river.


The Ghaggar river was previously named the Sarasvati river. The scholar Oldham wrote that the Ghaggar river "was formerly the Saraswati; that name is still known amongst the people, and the famous fortress of Sarasuti or Saraswati was built upon its banks, nearly 100 miles below the present junction with the Ghaggar." (Oldham 1893: 51-52).

Contents


The Sarasvati River in Hindu texts

Rig Veda

The Hindu Vedas mention a river named Sarasvatī. In Sanskrit saras means a pool or water body, and vatī (from vntī, the female form of the -vant suffix) means "she having lots of pools". Sarasvati was the biggest and most important of the seven holy rivers of the Rig Veda. In the Rig Veda the Sarasvati River is mentioned over 60 times (e.g. Rig Veda 2.41.16; 6.61.8-13; 1.3.12.), and there are several references to the "seven rivers" (e. g. RV 2.12; RV 4.28; RV 8.24). It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Hindu people. ... This article is about the Hindu Shruti. ... The Murray River in Australia. ... The Sanskrit language ( संस्कृता वाक्) is one of the earliest attested members of the Indo-European language family and is not only a classical language, but also an official language of India. ... The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ...


Most scholars agree that at least some of the references to the Sarasvati in the Rig Veda refer to the Ghaggar-Hakra River. It is however a matter of debate whether the name of the river was transferred from the Punjab to Afghanistan or vice versa.


The Rig Veda describes the Sarasvati as the best of all the rivers. Rig Veda 7.36.6 calls it "the Seventh, Mother of Floods" sárasvatī saptáthī síndhumātā. RV 2.41.16 ámbitame nádītame dévitame sárasvati "best mother, best river, best goddess" expresses the importance and reverence of the Vedic religion for the Sarasvati river.


In the Rig Veda (7.95.1-2, tr. Griffith) the Sarasvati is described as flowing to the ocean: Ralph Thomas Hotchkin Griffith (1826-1906), scholar of indology, translated the vedic scriptures into English. ...

This stream Sarasvati with fostering current comes forth, our sure defence, our fort of iron.
As on a car [= chariot], the flood flows on, surpassing in majesty and might all other waters.
Pure in her course from mountains to the ocean, alone of streams Sarasvati hath listened.
Thinking of wealth and the great world of creatures, she poured for Nahusa her milk and fatness.

The Rig Veda also describes the Sarasvati as a river that flows to the Samudra, ocean (see RV 2.41.16-18; 7.95.2). Samudra is usually translated as "ocean" (e.g. Griffith, Macdonnel and Keith) and the word "samudra" means "with waves". But a minority of scholars (e.g. Madhav Deshpande) translate the term Samudra as "river". And some Rig-vedic verses (6.61.2) indicate that the Sarasvati river originated in the high Himalayas like the ancient "Sarasvati-Sutlej" river where she could "burst with her strong waves the ridges of the hills", and not merely in the Himalayan foothills like the present-day Sarasvati-Ghaggar river. Chariot was the name of a WW2 naval weapon, the British manned torpedo. ... A glass of cows milk Milk most often means the nutrient fluid produced by the mammary glands of female mammals. ... Samudra is a Sanskrit term for ocean. ... The Himalaya is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ... Other uses: Foothills are geographically defined as gradual increases in elevated land at the base of a mountain range. ... The Ghaggar is a seasonal river in India, flowing when water is available from monsoon rains. ...


Rig Veda 7.95.2. and other verses (e.g. 8.21.18) also tell that the Sarasvati region poured milk and "fatness" (ghee), indicating that cattle were herded in the region. Wikibooks Cookbook has more about this subject: Ghee Ghee (Hindi घी, from Sanskrit ghṛta घृत sprinkled) is a type of clarified butter important in Indian cuisine and tradition. ... Binomial name Bos taurus Linnaeus, 1758 Cattle (called simply cows in vernacular usage) are domesticated ungulates, a member of the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae. ...


In the enumeration of the rivers in Rigveda 10.75.05, the order is Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri (= Sutlej). This verse enumerates all important rivers from the Ganges in the east to the Punjab in the west in a strict geographical order. The position of the Sarasvati between the Yamuna and the Sutlej in this Rigvedic verse is the same as that of the Ghaggar-Hakra river. Hence it is quite clear that one of the rivers given the name 'Sarasvati' flowed through Haryana and Rajasthan. The question is whether this is the primal 'Sarasvati'. The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ... The River Ganges (Ganga in Indian languages) is a major river in northern India. ... Yamuna is a major river of northern India, with a total length of around 1370 km. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ... Yamuna is a major river of northern India, with a total length of around 1370 km. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ... The Ghaggar is a seasonal river in India, flowing when water is available from monsoon rains. ... The Hakra is the dried-out channel of a river in Pakistan that until about 2000 BC - 1500 BC was the continuation of the Ghaggar River in India. ... Haryana (हरयाणा) is a state in north India. ... Rajasthan (राजस्थान) is the geographically largest state in northwestern India. ...


There are Indus Valley Civilization archaeological sites on the Ghaggar and its continuation, but not further downstream than Bahawalpur province of Pakistan, as if the water could not be relied on for irrigation any further downstream. The Mahabharata says that the River Sarasvati ended in a desert, and that each year there was a religious ceremony at the confluence of Sutlej and Yamuna (probably in what is now Bahawalpur province) if either river flowed so far without drying up. The Indus Valley Civilization existed along the Indus River and the Hakra-Ghaggar river and their tributaries. ... The Ghaggar is a seasonal river in India, flowing when water is available from monsoon rains. ... Bahawalpur is a city of Pakistan (1998 pop. ... Irrigation in the Heart of the Sahara Irrigation (in agriculture) is the replacement or supplementation of rainfall with water from another source in order to grow crops. ... The Mahabharata (Devanagari: महाभारत, phonetically Mahabharata - see note), sometimes just called Bharata, is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. ...


The water that got into the Sarasvati would tend to get less over time due to:-

The Sarasvati may have routinely flowed much further before agriculture and livestock domestication started, and the Rann of Kutch is likely the remains of its delta. Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest. ... Deforestation is the conversion of forested areas to non-forest. ... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years The term climate change is used to refer to changes in the Earths global climate or regional climates. ... Irrigation in the Heart of the Sahara Irrigation (in agriculture) is the replacement or supplementation of rainfall with water from another source in order to grow crops. ... Sheep are commonly bred as livestock. ... Domesticated animals, plants, and other organisms are those whose collective behavior, life cycle, or physiology has been altered as a result of their breeding and living conditions being under human control for multiple generations. ... Rann of Kutch on the Top Left. ... Delta may refer to: Δ or δ, a letter of the Greek alphabet. ...


The Vedic Sarasvati river finally stopped flowing when the Sutlej and the upper Yamuna changed their courses. A river flowing into an aggrading flood plain tends to gradually build up with silt the land round its course, until at the next big flood the river finds it easier to flow into lower land further away from its old course. See Hwang Ho for a river known for spectacular destructive changes of course. Flood Plain along Lynches River Johnsonville, South Carolina Showing high water mark on tupelo and cypress trees In geography, a flood plain is a plain formed of sediment, typically dropped by a river. ... For other Yellow Rivers, see Yellow River (disambiguation). ...


The Rigveda says that this Sarasvati rises in the mountains and ends up in the sea (e.g. RV 7.95.2 quoted above); it describes a man sailing up the Sarasvati from the sea to the mountains; but that may have been an unusual feat when one year's very heavy monsoon rains filled the Sarasvati so full that it flooded normally dry channels and reached the sea. The Rig Veda ऋग्वेद (Sanskrit ṛc praise + veda knowledge) is the earliest of the four Hindu religious scriptures known as the Vedas. ... Monsoon in the Vindhya, a mountain chain in central India A monsoon is a periodic wind, especially in the Indian Ocean and southern Asia. ...


It is thought that the main feeders of the River Sarasvati were:-

  • The upper Yamuna, which then turned west near Paonta Saheb where it leaves the hills.
  • The Sutlej, which then flowed further east.

Sometimes Sarasvati also means the heavenly 'river' - i.e. the Milky Way - and it is also personified as a goddess. Yamuna is a major river of northern India, with a total length of around 1370 km. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ... A NASA artists conception of what the Milky Way would look like if seen off-axis. ...


The seven rivers

The Rig Veda refers to seven sacred or important rivers (Sapta Sindhu). In RV 10.64.8. and 6.61.2. three groups of seven sacred rivers are refered to (maybe the Indus-system, the Sarasvati-system and the Ganga-system).


Other Hindu texts

Later texts like the Mahabharata narrate that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert.


The Brahmanas, which are considered later texts than the Rig Veda, mention that the Sarasvati flowed through a desert; the Puranas like Bhagavata Purana mention her too and the Mahabharata says that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert, possibly the Thar Desert (Mhb. 3.1.30.3; 6.7.47; 6.37.1-4., 9.34.81, 9.36.1-2.). The Brahmanas (Sanskrit ब्राह्मण, Brahmin Books) are part of the Hindu Shruti; They are composed in Vedic Sanskrit, and the period of their composition is sometimes referred to as the Brahmanic period or age (approximately between 900 BC and 500 BC). ... The Puranas are part of Hindu Smriti; these religious scriptures discuss devotion and mythology. ... The Bhagavata Purana (sometimes rendered as Bhagavatha Purana), also known as the Srimad Bhagavatam, written c. ... The Mahabharata (Devanagari: महाभारत, phonetically Mahabharata - see note), sometimes just called Bharata, is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. ... The Thar Desert (also known as the Great Indian Desert) is a desert mainly Goo goo gaa gaa. ...


In the Manu Samhita (II.17-18), the sage Manu, escaping from a flood, founded the Vedic culture between the Sarasvati and Drishadvati rivers. In the Shatapatha Brahmana there is a description of the God Agni burning out rivers, which may be a reference to the drying up of rivers. The Manu Smriti, translated Laws of Manu or Institutions of Manu, is a foundational work of Hindu law and ancient Indian society, written c. ... In Hindu mythology, Manu is a title accorded the progenitor of humankind during an eon called a Manvantara. ... The word Agni can have these meanings:- A fire-god in three religions: described below. ...


The Mahabharata states that Vasishtha committed suicide by throwing himself into the Sutlej and that the Sutlej then broke up in a 100 channels (Yash Pal in S.P. Gupta 1995: 175). According to Hindu mythology, the Sarasvati flows in a subterranenan channel and joins the Yamuna and the Ganga in the "Triveni Sangam" at Prayag (Allahabad). The Mahabharata (Devanagari: महाभारत, phonetically Mahabharata - see note), sometimes just called Bharata, is one of the two major ancient Sanskrit epics of India, the other being the Ramayana. ... ... Map of India. ... Map of India. ...


The goddess Sarasvati was originally a personification of this river, and later developed an identity and meaning independently from the river. This article is about Saraswati, the Hindu goddess. ...


The present-day Sarasvati

The present-day Sarasvati originates in a submontane region (Ambala district) and joins the Ghaggar near Shatrana in PEPSU. Near Sadulgarh (Hanumangarh) the Naiwala channel, a dried out channel of the Sutlej, joins the Ghaggar. Near Suratgarh the Ghaggar is then joined by the dried up Drishadvati river. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Ambala is a small town located on the border of the states of Haryana and Punjab in India. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ...


Helmand river

Main article: Helmand River

The Sarasvati river has been identified with various present-day or historical rivers, particularly the Ghaggar-Hakra river in India and Pakistan; this course continues into the Raini Nala riverbed. Other suggestions include the Helmand River in Afghanistan, which historically bore the name Harahvaiti, which is the Avestan form for "Sarasvati". However, this Afghan river flows into a small lake in the Iranian plateau, which does not match the Rig Vedic description of a "sea going" river. It is disputed if the river name was transferred from the Punjab to Afghanistan or the other way round. However, the Sanksrit terms have their "s" replaced with a "h" in Iranian (as in Asura --> Ahura, or Sarasvati --> Harahvaiti or Sindhu --> Hindu), but never the other way round. If the river name were transferred from Afghanistan to the Punjab, the transfer must have occurred before the Iranian language began to use the "h phoneme". The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan. ... The Ghaggar is a seasonal river in India, flowing when water is available from monsoon rains. ... The Hakra is the dried-out channel of a river in Pakistan that until about 2000 BC - 1500 BC was the continuation of the Ghaggar River in India. ... The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan. ... Yasna 28. ...


The Helmand historically bore the name Harahvaiti, which is the Avestan form correspondign to Sanskrit Sarasvati, both descended from Proto-Indo-Iranian saras-vnt-ī, meaning "she with many pools". The Old Persian form is Harachuwati, in Achaemenid times the name of the Arghandab River, the chief tributary of the Helmand. This name was in turn hellenized to Arachosia. The distance between the Harahvaiti and the Ghaggar (and its tributary, still called Sarasvati today) is some 600 km, and it was suggested that the name was reassigned after the Indo-Aryans had reached the Punjab, thus tracing the route of the Indo-Aryan migration. Yasna 28. ... The term Indo-Iranian includes all speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, i. ... Achaemenid Empire The Achaemenid Dynasty was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire, including Cyrus II the Great, Darius I and Xerxes I. At the height of their power, the Achaemenid rulers of Persia ruled over territories roughly emcompassing some parts of todays Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon... Arachosia is the ancient name of an area that corresponds to the southern part of today s Afghanistan, around the city of Kandahar. ... The Indo-Aryan languages form a subgroup of the Indo-Iranian languages, thus belonging to the Indo-European family of languages. ... Punjab, 1903 Punjab Province, 1909 The Punjab (Meaning: Land of five Rivers) (also Panjab, Gurmukhi: ਪੰਜਾਬ, Shahmukhi: پنجاب) is a region straddling the border between India and Pakistan. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


There is also a river in Iran which has been given this name.


Bibliography

  • Bryant, Edwin (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195137779.
  • Frawley David: The Rig Veda and the History of India, 2001.(Aditya Prakashan), ISBN 81-7742-039-9
  • Gupta, S.P. (ed.). 1995. The lost Sarasvati and the Indus Civilization. Kusumanjali Prakashan, Jodhpur.
  • Keith and Macdonell. 1912. Vedic Index of Names and Subjects.
  • Oldham, R.D. 1893. The Sarsawati and the Lost River of the Indian Desert. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1893. 49-76.
  • Shaffer, Jim G. (1995) Cultural tradition and Palaeoethnicity in South Asian Archaeology, In: Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia. Ed. George Erdosy.. ISBN 0948-1923

Edwin Bryant arrived in San Francisco by overland route in 1846, served as a lieutenant in Frémont’s Battalion, and in February 1847 succeeded Bartlett and Hyde as alcalde of San Francisco. ... The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture is a book by Edwin Bryant published at Oxford University Press (ISBN 0195137779). ... David Frawley (Sanskrit: वामदेव शास्‍त्री) (born 1950) is one of the few Westerners to be recognized by a major Hindu sect in India as a Vedacharya or teacher of the ancient wisdom. ...

See also

This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... The Sutlej, also known as Satluj, is the longest of the five rivers of Punjab (five waters) that flows through Northern India, with its source in Tibet near Mount Kailash. ... Yamuna is a major river of northern India, with a total length of around 1370 km. ... The River Ganges (Ganga in Indian languages) is a major river in northern India. ... The Indus is a river; the Indus River. ... Samudra is a Sanskrit term for ocean. ...

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