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New light on south Indian civilisation

New light on south Indian civilisation

Author: Our Special Correspondent
Publication: The Hindu
Date: December 3, 2002
URL: http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2002/12/03/stories/2002120302010900.htm

The discovery of long-forgotten underwater settlements off the coast of Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu by American marine archaeologists has pushed the antiquity of civilisation in South India by a few millennia and showed a link with Vedic civilisation.

This was stated here on Monday by the noted American scholar in the Vedas and Hinduism, David Frawley, while presenting a video demonstration on the underwater archaeological discoveries in the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat and off the Mahabalipuram coast.

Dr. Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is the Director of the American Institute of Vedic Studies at Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.

He was speaking along with Navarathna Rajaram, engineer and historian, who has `deciphered' the Harappan seals.

Dr. Frawley said fishermen along the Mahabalipuram coast had been mentioning the existence of temples and other structures beneath the Bay of Bengal. It had now been corroborated by underwater videography.

He stressed the southern links of the civilisation of ancient India, and said that the Vedic civilisation was older than those of Mesopotamia and other regions held to be the most ancient by Western scholars by at least 4,000 years.

The finding of a submerged city in the Gulf of Cambay near Broach, which was perhaps as old as 7,500 BC, had pushed the seats of ancient Indian civilisation deeper into the southern peninsula.

It would be no surprise if more such sites were discovered in South India, especially in the coastal regions for the South had always played a significant if neglected role in ancient India from the Vedic times.

The Gulf of Cambay find was only the latest in a series that included Lothal (discovered by S.R. Rao) and Dholavira (R.S. Bisht). Dr. Frawley argued that the Vedic civilisation had maritime connections like most other civilisations.

Rejecting the Aryan-Dravidian divide theory still adhered to by a section of historians, he quoted from the Rig Veda to point out that its most prominent sage, Vasistha, was the younger brother of Agasthya, the most prominent sage of South India.

The Aryans and the Dravidians were the same people. The linguistic diversity of India was not surprising as it was a country of continental proportions.

There were similar diversities in Europe. Ancient India's ties with East Asia and Southeast Asia were much closer than those with Central Asia and Europe.

Dr. Frawley reminded those stating that there was no evidence of the existence of horse in the Harappan civilisation, that no such evidence was available even in the land of the horse: Iran and Afghanistan.

About this, Dr. Rajaram said John Marshall, who did the pioneering excavations at Mohenjadaro and Harappa, had even provided the measurements of the Harappan horse.

In a joint statement, the two scholars said that though the people of India were living at a time of exciting discoveries, they were concerned that there appeared to be some political pressure to deny students the benefit of those findings.

An example was the discovery of the Vedic river, Saraswathi, which was one of the major triumphs of 20th century archaeology. It was an exciting story of satellite photography and archaeology working together to shed light on the Vedic tradition.

"Our children should take pride in such discoveries."

Yet we are told that vested interests in some States are directing teachers and textbook writers not to mention the Sarawathi river.''

It was a throwback to the 16th century when Galileo was told by the Church not to teach the solar system. Such anti-intellectual attitudes should have no place in education, they said.

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