Sarasvati River

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The reconstructed channel of Sarasvati River shown with concentration of Harappan archaeological sites found along its Palaeochannel[1]

The Sarasvati River (Sanskrit: सरस्वती नदी sárasvatī nadī), also known as the Ghaggar-Hakra River, is one of the main Rigvedic rivers mentioned in the scripture Rig Veda and later Vedic and post-Vedic texts. The Nadistuti hymn in the Rigveda (10.75) mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west. The Rigveda 7.95.2 describes Sarasvati River flowing from mountain to the ocean.[2] Later Vedic texts like the Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas, as well as the Mahabharata, mention that the Sarasvati dried up in a desert.

The Sarasvatī is found in all Early and Middle Rgvedic books (except in Mandala 4 with its westward thrust). The Early Rgveda has the only 3 full hymns to the Sarasvatī (VI.61; VII.95,96) and the ode to the river "ambitame, devītame, nadītame" (best of mothers, best of Goddesses, best of rivers) is in II.41.16.[3] The corresponding Avestan word for Sarasvati, Harahvaiti, is found only once in a late part of the Avesta, long after the Gāθās: in the Vendidad (I.13). [4]

Satellite images have pointed to a more significant river once following the course of the present day Ghaggar River.[5] Using Indian Remote Sensing satellite data, digital elevation models, historical maps, hydro-geological and drilling data, scholars observed that major Indus Valley Civilization sites at Kalibangan (Rajasthan), Banawali and Rakhigarhi (Haryana), Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat) also lay along this course.[6][7]

The Sarasvati river has been seen along the courses of now defunct rivers such as Ghaggar, Hakra and Nara. A 2019 study on the Ghaggar river's 300km stretch found that it was a perennial river up until 4,500 years ago receiving sediments from upper and higher Himalayas.[8] Research using dating of zircon sand grains has shown that late Pleistocene subsurface river channels near the present-day Indus Valley Civilisation sites in the Cholistan desert, in Pakistan, immediately below the dry Ghaggar-Hakra bed show sediment affinity with not with the Ghagger-Hakra river, but with the Beas river in the western sites and the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers in the eastern ones.[9] This suggests that the Yamuna itself, or a channel of the Yamuna, flowed west some time between 47,000 BCE and 10,000 BCE, but well before the beginnings of the Indus civilisation.[9] Using optically stimulated luminescence dating of sand grains it is found that the Sutlej river used to feed the Sarasvati river up until about ~8,000 years ago.[10]

Ancient and Early records of Sarasvati River[edit]

1760 map of by J. Bartholomew from 'The Library Atlas' by Bryce, Collier & Schmitz showing Soorsuty (Sarasvati) river joining the Guggur (Ghaggar-Hakra) river

The earliest reference to river Sarasvati is found in the chronologically first book of Rigveda which is the Mandala 6. The Book 6 of Rigveda mentions Sarasvati River, its eastern tributaries, Yamuna and Ganga river. This gives the first clue to the geographical location of the river. Sarasvati River is mentioned in all books of Rigveda except the fourth book. The Rigveda 10.75.5 clearly provides location of Sarasvati River to be between Yamuna and Satluj (Shutudri). It is a part of Nadistuti hymn which literally translates to "The hymn of praise of the rivers". The Sarasvati River is mentioned in several post Vedic literature including Puranas and Mahabharata. It should also be noted that all these references also describe Sarasvati in a different stage such as the book 7 of Rigveda describes Sarasvati River as the grand river flowing from Mountains to the ocean where as the last book of Rigveda 10 transfers this grand status to the river Sindhu and do not consider Sarasvati River as Grand where as Mahabharata describes the Sarasvati River as ending up and disappearing in the desert at a point called Vinashana.

Drawn in 1760, a map from ''The Library of Atlas'' showed a small stream spelled as ''Soorsuty'' joining the ''Guggur'' river.[11] In 1855, a french geographer Vivien de Saint-Martin saw the map and noticed the geographical location of the Sarasvati and Ghaggar, and concluded that this Ghaggar-Sarasvati system is the relic of the Vedic Sanskrit.[12] Later on nearly all indologists including H.H. Wilson, F. Max Muller, M. Monier Williams, A.A. Macdonell, A.B. Keith and many more recent indologists such as L. Renou, A.L. Basham or Jan Gonda accepted Vivien's thesis and identification of Sarasvati river.

Alexander Cunningham's 1871 map showing Saraswati river

In 1871 Alexander Cunningham was appointed as the first director general of ''Archeological Survey of India.'' His works included monumental ''Ancient Geography of India'' in which he combined data from ancient Indian and Greek texts with the testimonies of Chinese pilgrims to India. He showed Sarasvati river along with other rivers in his maps in 1871 as shown in the picture.[13] This broad scholarly consensus was widely accepted and reflected in all British maps.

Detail from a British map of India showing Sarasvati River (A comprehensive history of India, Civil, Military, and Social, 1862)

This identification has been fully endorsed by almost every single eminent Indologist, geologist and archaeologist in the last over 160 years. A representative list, first of the western scholars down the ages, and then the Indian (and Pakistani) ones: Max Müller, Keith and Macdonell, Monier-Williams, Pischel, Geldner, Hopkins, R.D.Oldham, C.F.Oldham, Wilson, Renou, Benfey, Muir, Lassen, Stein, Jane McIntosh, Wilhelmy, Mortimer Wheeler, Bridget and Raymond Allchin, Gregory Possehl, JM Kenoyer, Jean-Marie Casal, Kenneth Kennedy, Rosen, Southworth, Pargiter, Gowen, Burrow, Basham, Shamsul Islam Siddiqui, AH Dani, BB Lal, SP Gupta, VN Misra, Dilip Chakrabarti, M. Israil Khan, S.R.Rao, K.S.Valdiya, A.D.Pusalker, H.C.Raychaudhary, D.C.Sircar, Ashok Aklujkar, and many more.[14]

Rigveda descriptions of Sarasvati River[edit]

The Sarasvati River is mentioned in all but the fourth book of the Rigveda. The most important hymns related to Sarasvati are RV 6.61, RV 7.95 and RV 7.96.[15]

अम्बितमे नदीतमे देवितमे सरस्वती अपरास्तस्य इव स्मासि प्रशस्तिम् अम्ब नास्कृतिम्
Oh Mother Saraswati you are the greatest of mothers, greatest of rivers, greatest of goddesses. Even though we are not worthy, please grant us distinction.Rigveda 2.41.16

Other verses of praise include RV 6.61.8-13, RV 7.96 and RV 10.17. In some hymns, the Indus river seems to be more important than the Sarasavati, especially in the Nadistuti sukta. In RV 8.26.18, the white flowing Sindhu 'with golden wheels' is the most conveying or attractive of the rivers.

  • RV 7.95.2. and other verses (e.g. RV 8.21.18) speak of the Sarasvati pouring "milk and ghee." Rivers are often likened to cows in the Rigveda, for example in RV 3.33.1,
Like two bright mother cows who lick their youngling,
Vipas and Sutudri speed down their waters.
  • Strong attention has been given to the Sarasvati River in the Rigveda along with several suktas dedicated to it. As such it seems there are a number of Sarasvatis with the earliest Sarasvati not identifiable with the Hakra and Ghaggar. The Sarasvati River is perceived to be a great river with perennial water. The Hakra and Ghaggar cannot be compared to it. The earliest Sararvati is said to be similar to the Helmand in Afghanistan which is called the Harakhwati in the Āvestā.[16]
  • The phrase sárasvatī saptáthī síndhumātā of RV 7.36.6 has been rendered as " Sarasvati the Seventh, Mother of Floods" in a popular translation.[17] While this takes a tatpurusha interpretation of síndhumātā, the word is actually a bahuvrihi.[18]
  • "Pavaka nah saravati, vajebhir vajinivati; Yajnam vastu dhiyavasuh. Codayitri sunrtanam, cetanti sumatinam; Yajnam dadhe sarasvati. Maho arnah sarasvati, pra cetayati ketuna; Dhiyo visva vi rajati"—verse from Rigveda[19] The complete translation would be in Sri Aurobindo's own words: "May purifying Sarasvati with all the plenitude of her forms of plenty, rich in substance by the thought, desire our sacrifice. "She, the impeller to happy truths, the awakener in consciousness to right mentalisings, Sarasvati, upholds the sacrifice." "Sarasvati by the perception awakens in consciousness the great flood (the vast movement of the ritam) and illumines entirely all the thoughts "[20]


  • The late Rigvedic Nadistuti sukta enumerates all important rivers from the Ganges in the east up to the Indus in the west in a clear geographical order. Here (RV 10.75.5), the sequence "Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri" places the Sarasvati between the Yamuna and the Sutlej, which is consistent with the Ghaggar identification.
  • Verses in RV 6.61 indicate that the Sarasvati river originated in the hills or mountains (giri), where she "burst with her strong waves the ridges of the hills (giri)". It is a matter of interpretation whether this refers only to the Himalayan foothills, where the present-day Sarasvati (Sarsuti) river flows, or to higher mountains.
  • RV 3.23.4 mentions the Sarasvati River together with the Drsadvati River and the Āpayā River. RV 6.52.6 describes the Sarasvati as swollen (pinvamānā) by the rivers (sindhubhih).
  • While RV 6.61.12 associates the Sarasvati River with the five tribes; and RV 7.95-6 with the Paravatas and the Purus; in RV 8.21.18, a number of petty kings are said to dwell along the course of Sarasvati,
Citra is King, and only kinglings [rājaka] are the rest who dwell beside Sarasvati.
  • In RV 7.95.1-2, the Sarasvati is described as flowing to the samudra, a word now usually translated as ocean.
This stream Sarasvati with fostering current comes forth, our sure defence, our fort of iron.
As on a 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.

As a goddess[edit]

Painting of Goddess Saraswati by Raja Ravi Varma

The Sarasvati is mentioned some fifty times in the hymns of the Rig Veda.[21] it is mentioned in thirteen hymns of the late books (1 and 10) of the Rigveda.[22] Only two of these references are unambiguously to the river: 10.64.9, calling for the aid of three "great rivers", Sindhu, Sarasvati and Sarayu; and 10.75.5, the geographical list of the Nadistuti sukta. The others invoke Sarasvati as a goddess without direct connection to a specific river.[citation needed]

In 10.30.12, her origin as a river goddess may explain her invocation as a protective deity in a hymn to the celestial waters. In 10.135.5, as Indra drinks Soma he is described as refreshed by Sarasvati. The invocations in 10.17 address Sarasvati as a goddess of the forefathers as well as of the present generation. In 1.13, 1.89, 10.85, 10.66 and 10.141, she is listed with other gods and goddesses, not with rivers. In 10.65, she is invoked together with "holy thoughts" (dhī) and "munificence" (puraṃdhi), consistent with her role as a goddess of both knowledge and fertility.[citation needed]

Though Sarasvati initially emerged as a river goddess in the Vedic scriptures, in later Hinduism of the Puranas, she was rarely associated with the river. Instead she emerged as an independent goddess of knowledge, learning, wisdom, music and the arts. The evolution of the river goddess into the goddess of knowledge started with later Brahmanas, which identified her as Vāgdevī, the goddess of speech, perhaps due to the centrality of speech in the Vedic cult and the development of the cult on the banks of the river. It is also possible that two independently postulated goddesses were fused into one in later Vedic times.[23] Aurobindo has proposed, on the other hand, that "the symbolism of the Veda betrays itself to the greatest clearness in the figure of the goddess Sarasvati...She is, plainly and clearly, the goddess of the Word, the goddess of a divine inspiration...".[24]

Other Vedic texts[edit]

In post-Rigvedic literature, the disappearance of the Sarasvati is mentioned. Also the origin of the Sarasvati is identified as Plaksa Prasravana (Peepal tree or Ashwattha tree as known in India and Nepal).[25][26]

In a supplementary chapter of the Vajasaneyi-Samhita of the Yajurveda (34.11), Sarasvati is mentioned in a context apparently meaning the Sindhu: "Five rivers flowing on their way speed onward to Sarasvati, but then become Sarasvati a fivefold river in the land."[27] According to the medieval commentator Uvata, the five tributaries of the Sarasvati were the Punjab rivers Drishadvati, Satudri (Sutlej), Chandrabhaga (Chenab), Vipasa (Beas) and the Iravati (Ravi).

The first reference to the disapparance of the lower course of the Sarasvati is from the Brahmanas, texts that are composed in Vedic Sanskrit, but dating to a later date than the Veda Samhitas. The Jaiminiya Brahmana (2.297) speaks of the 'diving under (upamajjana) of the Sarasvati', and the Tandya Brahmana (or Pancavimsa Br.) calls this the 'disappearance' (vinasana). The same text (25.10.11-16) records that the Sarasvati is 'so to say meandering' (kubjimati) as it could not sustain heaven which it had propped up.[28][note 1]

The Plaksa Prasravana (place of appearance/source of the river) may refer to a spring in the Siwalik mountains. The distance between the source and the Vinasana (place of disappearance of the river) is said to be 44 asvina (between several hundred and 1600 miles) (Tandya Br. 25.10.16; cf. Av. 6.131.3; Pancavimsa Br.).[29]

In the Latyayana Srautasutra (10.15-19) the Sarasvati seems to be a perennial river up to the Vinasana, which is west of its confluence with the Drshadvati (Chautang). The Drshadvati is described as a seasonal stream (10.17), meaning it was not from Himalayas. Bhargava[30] has identified Drashadwati river as present day Sahibi river originating from Jaipur hills in Rajasthan. The Asvalayana Srautasutra and Sankhayana Srautasutra contain verses that are similar to the Latyayana Srautasutra.

  • If it is true that Harappan civilization was prominently Indo-Aryan and that much of Sanskrit literature was written in the Harappan period, then a certain chronological stage in this literary tradition should correspond to the decline and ruination of the Harappan cities. So far, the only literary reference to this process that I’ve heard of, is a Mahabharata line mentioning the sinking and drying up of the Saraswati river, and attributing it to the goddess’s disgust with the decline in moral and cultural standards among the population. Elst 1999
  • The turnaround started when the new evidence of satellite photography showed that the majority of Harappan sites were located on the banks of the Ghaggar-Hakra when it was in full flow, and new and detailed geological studies showed that the Ghaggar-Hakra had started drying on a major scale by 1900 BCE and was a mere shadow of its former self by 1500 BCE. This was the calibrated date at which, according to Indologists and the AIT — in accordance with the evidence of Linguistic Analysis (of the date of commencement of separation of the twelve branches of IE languages from each other in the Original Homeland being around 3000 BCE) — had required the Indologists to date the first entry of Indo-Aryans into India at 1500 BCE at the earliest.[4] [archive]

Post-Vedic texts[edit]

  • This river is mentioned in the Rg-Veda as a mighty sea-going river, but subsequently it shrank so that in the Mahabharata it appears as an ordinary river that runs dead in the desert. Even then it retained some of its Vedic aura, for Krishna’s brother Balarama went on pilgrimage to sites along the river including its locus of disappearance. (Elst 2018)
The Mahabharata

According to the Mahabharata, the Sarasvati dried up in a desert (at a place named Vinasana or Adarsana);[31] after having disappeared in the desert, reappears in some places;[32] and joins the sea "impetuously".[33] MB.3.81.115 locates the state of Kurupradesh or Kuru Kingdom to the south of the Sarasvati and north of the Drishadvati. The dried-up, seasonal Ghaggar River in Rajasthan and Haryana reflects the same geographical view described in the Mahabharata.

According to Hindu scriptures, a journey was made during the Mahabharata by Balrama along the banks of the Saraswati from Dwarka to Mathura. There were ancient kingdoms too (the era of the Mahajanapads) that lay in parts of north Rajasthan and that were named on the Saraswati River.[34][35][36][37]


Several Puranas describe the Sarasvati River, and also record that the river separated into a number of lakes (saras).[38]

In the Skanda Purana, the Sarasvati originates from the water pot of Brahma and flows from Plaksa on the Himalayas. It then turns west at Kedara and also flows underground. Five distributaries of the Sarasvati are mentioned.[39] The text regards Sarasvati as a form of Brahma's consort Brahmi.[40] According to the Vamana Purana 32.1-4, the Sarasvati rose from the Plaksa tree (Pipal tree).[38]



The Saraswati river was revered and considered important for Hindus because it was on this river's banks, along with its tributary Drishadwati that initial parts of Rigveda were composed[42] and important Vedic scriptures like Manusmritiand several Upanishads were supposed to have been composed by Vedic seers. In the Manusmriti, Brahmavarta is portrayed as the "pure" centre of Vedic culture. Bridget and Raymond Allchin in The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan took the view that "The earliest Aryan homeland in India-Pakistan (Aryavarta or Brahmavarta) was in the Punjab and in the valleys of the Sarasvati and Drishadvati rivers in the time of the rigveda."[43]

Course of the historical Sarasvati River[edit]

The historical Sarasvati River, flowed down the present Ghaggar-Hakra River channel, and that of the Nara in Sindh and then into the great Ran of Kuchh, Gujrat.[44] Satellite images in possession of the ISRO and ONGC have confirmed that the major course of a river ran through the present-day Ghaggar River.[45]

A recent research published in 2019 in the Nature journal presents an unequivocal evidence for the Ghaggar river's perennial past by studying temporal changes of sediment provenance along a 300 km stretch of the river basin. They established that the river was perennial up until 2500BC and was receiving the sediments from the Higher and Lesser Himalayas.[46] This is achieved using 40Ar/39Ar ages of detrital muscovite and Sr-Nd isotopic ratios of siliciclastic sediment in fluvial sequences, dated by radiocarbon and luminescence methods.

In 2016, A committee constituted by Government of India constituted on Palaeochannels of North-West India: Review and Assessment, concluded that Saraswati river had two branches eastern & western. The eastern branch included Sarsuti-Markanda rivulets in Haryana and the western branches included Ghaggar-Patiali channels. The committee considers that branches met near Patiala, at Shatrana, then flowed as a large river.

Ghaggar-Hakra River[edit]

The Ghaggar-Hakra River is a seasonal river in India and Pakistan that flows only during the monsoon season.

  • In fact, as Danino demonstrates with a string of quotations from primary sources, this identification is the object of a wide consensus, starting in 1840 with H.H. Wilson, and including such paragons of Indologist orthodoxy as F. Max Müller and M. Monier-Williams as well as the on-the-spot explorer Aurel Stein. Even the “Hindu nationalist claim” that the river dwindled as a consequence of tectonic events causing the course of its tributaries Yamuna and Satlej to shift away from the Sarasvati basin, turns out to be quite old and mainstream, starting with R.D. Oldham in 1886. Indeed, the ancient geographer Strabo already noted that seismic instability caused changes in the course of major rivers in India. .... Of the 3781 Harappan sites identified so far, 2378 are located around the Sarasvati river, from Haryana and northern Rajasthan to the Cholistan desert in southwestern Panjab . (Elst 2018)

Identification with the Sarasvati River with Ghaggar-Hakra River[edit]

Many scholars as well as geologists have identified the Sarasvati river with the present-day Ghaggar-Hakra River, or the dried up part of it.[47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55] The main arguments are the supposed position east of the Indus, which corresponds with the Ghaggar-Hakra riverbed; the actual absence of a "mighty river" east of the Indus, which may be explained by the drying up of the historical Ghaggar-Hakra river; and the resemblance between the "diving under" of the Puranic Sarasvati, and the ending of the present-day Ghaggar-Hakra river in a desert.[citation needed]

The identification of the Vedic Sarasvati River with the Ghaggar-Hakra River was proposed by some scholars in the 19th and early 20th century, including Christian Lassen,[56] Max Müller,[57] Marc Aurel Stein, C.F. Oldham[58] and Jane Macintosh.[59] Danino notes that "the 1500 km-long bed of the Sarasvati" was "rediscovered" in the 19th century.[60] According to Danino, "most Indologists" were convinced in the 19th century that "the bed of the Ghaggar-Hakra was the relic of the Sarasvati."[60]

Drying-up of the Sarasvati River system[edit]

The geological changes diverted the Sutlej towards the Indus and the Yamuna towards the Ganges, following which the river did not have enough water to reach the sea any more and dried up in the Thar desert.[citation needed] Active faults are present in the region, and lateral and vertical tectonic movements have frequently diverted streams in the past. The Saraswati may have migrated westward due to such uplift of the Aravallis.[61] According to geologists Puri and Verma a major seismic activity in the Himalayan region caused the rising of the Bata-Markanda Divide. This resulted in the blockage of the westward flow of Sarasvati forcing the water back. Since the Yamunā Tear opening was not far off, the blocked water exited from the opening into the Yamunā system.[62]

Apart from the above reasons, the following can be the possible reasons for the drying up of the river:

  • Capture of the waters of the Sarasvati by the adjoining rivers, Sutlej and the Yamuna. During the early Rigvedic period, the Sarasvati was a large river, receiving water from the Sutlej and the Yamuna. The tectonic movements during this period resulted in a distinct separation of the river Yamuna from the Sarasvati River system. Over time, these waters were withdrawn and the river became smaller and eventually dried up.
  • The banks have undergone intense erosion leading to the collapse of the banks and drying of the river. Also, the river bed could be choked with modern moving sand.[63]
  • Two major shifts in the course and the volume of water associated with the river during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC.[63] The two major shifts were the drying of one of the important tributaries of the Sarasvati, resulting in reduced volume of water and the capture of the river Sutlej by the river Beas which rendered part of the river dry.[63]
  • The lack of water far down the old course threatens the vegetation necessary to help maintain the river. It is also assumed that the plains formed during the course of the river was a part of Indo Gangetic plains which later turned to Thar Desert after the depletion of River Sarasvati.[63][64]

Identification with the Indus Valley Civilisation[edit]

The Indus Valley Civilisation (Harrapan Civilisation), which is named after the Indus, was largely located on the banks of and in the proximity of the Ghaggar-Hakra fluvial system.[65]

The Indus Valley Civilisation is sometimes called the "Sarasvati culture", the "Sarasvati Civilization", the "Indus-Sarasvati Civilization" or the "Sindhu-Sarasvati Civilization", as it is theorized that the civilisation flourished on banks of the Sarasvati river, along with the Indus.[48][49][66] Danino notes that the dating of the Vedas to the third millennium BCE coincides with the mature phase of the Indus Valley civilisation,[67] and that it is "tempting" to equate the Indus Valley and Vedic cultures.[68]

Drying-up of Sarasvati River and dating of the Vedas[edit]

The Vedic and Puranic statements about the drying-up and diving-under of the Sarasvati have been used as a reference point for the dating of the Harappan civilisation and the Vedic culture.[69] These texts are evidence for an earlier dating of the Rig Veda and the descriptions of state of Sarasvati River from being flowing from mountain to the ocean in older parts of Rigveda, description of Sarasvati River disappearing in the desert in Mahabharata and Sarasvati River loosing its grand status to Indus River in the newer book 10 of Rigveda are sufficient to reject the Indo-Aryan migrations theory, which postulates a migration at 1500 BCE, this in fact is the time when Sarasvati River had already dried out.

Michel Danino conservatively places the composition of the Vedas in the third millennium BCE, a millennium earlier than the conventional dates.[67] Danino notes that accepting the Rig Veda accounts as factual descriptions, and dating the drying up late in the third millennium, are incompatible.[67] According to Danino, this suggests that the Vedic people were present in northern India in the third millennium BCE,[70] a conclusion which is drawn by the archaeologists who have worked on the excavations and study of the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation.[67] Danino states that there is an absence of "any intrusive material culture in the Northwest during the second millennium BCE,"[67][note 2] a biological continuity in the skeletal remains,[67][note 3] and a cultural continuity. Danino then states that if the "testimony of the Sarasvati is added to this,"

[T]he simplest and most natural conclusion is that the Vedic culture was present in the region in the third millennium.[68]

Danino acknowledges that this asks for "studying its tentacular ramifications into linguistics, archaeoastronomy, anthropology and genetics, besides a few other fields".[68]

Annette Wilke notes that the "historical river" Sarasvati was a "topographically tangible mythogeme", which was already reduced to a small river ending up in the desert, by the time of composition of the Hindu epics. These post-Vedic texts regularly talk about drying up of the river, and start associating the goddess Sarasvati with language, rather than the river.[74]

  • N.S. Rajaram and David Frawley have noted that “it appears that the

Yamuna stopped flowing into the Saraswati at an earlier era some centuries before 1900 BCE, perhaps before 2300 BCE, which is what current archaeology suggests. As this westward flowing Yamuna would have made up most of the waters of the Drshadvati, which is identified with this region, it suggests that much of the Rg-Veda reflects a period when the Yamuna flowed west, which places it yet earlier into the Harappan or Pre-Harappan era.” (Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilization, Voice of India, Delhi 1997, p.96).Later, the Yamuna slightly changed course, joined the Chambal and started throwing its waters into the Ganga at Prayag, which had already been the confluence of Chambal and Ganga for long,-- meaning that the lower course of the Chambal, now joined to the Yamuna, was henceforth called Yamuna.

    • Elst 2007

Contemporary religious meaning[edit]

Diana Eck notes that the power and significance of the Sarasvati for present-day India is in the persistent symbolic presence at the confluence of rivers all over India.[21] Although "materially missing",[75] she is the third river, which emerges to join in the meeting of rivers, thereby making the waters triple holy.[75]

After the Vedic Sarasvati dried, new myths about the rivers arose. Sarasvati is described to flow in the underworld and rise to the surface at some places.[74] For centuries, the Sarasvati river existed in a "subtle or mythic" form, since it corresponds with none of the major rivers of present-day South Asia.[69] The flowing together of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers at Triveni Sangam, Allahabad, converging with the unseen Sarasvati river, which is believed to flow underground. The Padma Purana proclaims:

One who bathes and drinks there where the Gangā, Yamunā and Sarasvati join enjoys liberation. Of this there is no doubt."[76]

The Kumbh Mela, a mass bathing festival is held at Triveni Sangam, literally "confluence of the three rivers", every 12 years.[69][77][78] The belief of Sarasvati joining at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna originates from the Puranic scriptures and denotes the "powerful legacy" the Vedic river left after her disappearance. The belief is interpreted as "symbolic".[79] The three rivers Sarasvati, Yamuna, Ganga are considered consorts of the Hindu Trinity (Trimurti) Brahma, Vishnu (as Krishna) and Shiva respectively.[40] In lesser known configuration, Sarasvati is said to form the Triveni confluence with rivers Hiranya and Kapila at Somnath. There are several other Trivenis in India where two physical rivers are joined by the "unseen" Sarasvati, which adds to the sanctity of the confluence.[80]

After the collapse of the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilisation and the population moved to different parts of the subcontinent. It can be seen that people renamed the local rivers to Sarasvati because of their emotional connection with the original Sarasvati leading to several present-day rivers also with same name Sarasvati:

  • Likewise, the evidence of the Saraswati river pleads against the low chronology proposed by the AIT. Though on discussion forums we still see it hotly denied, Kazanas cites the best sources for his assertion that “archaeologists and palaeohydrologists are now certain that the river Sarasvatī (today’s streamlet Sarsuti, Hakra or Ghaggar) flowed into the Arabian sea prior to 3200”. That is how the river is described in one of the third oldest book of the Rig-Veda (7.95.2). Even later, undeniably, “many hymns in all the Maņḍalas, except the fourth, even late ones in Book 10, praise this mighty river”, because its shrinking took place in phases before reaching its present humble condition. By the time of the Mahābhārata war, which in Hindu tradition marks the completion of the Vedic age, the river has lost its grandeur while its point of disappearance in the Rajasthan desert has become a place of pilgrimage. Elst 2018


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  1. See Witzel (1984)[28] for discussion; for maps (1984) of the area, p. 42 sqq.
  2. Michael Witzel points out that this is to expected from a mobile society, but that the Gandhara grave culture is a clear indication of new cultural elements.[71] Michaels points out that there are linguistic and archaeological data that shows a cultural change after 1750 BCE,[72] and Flood notices that the linguistic and religious data clearly show links with Indo-European languages and religion.[73]
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named scale

Puri and Verma (1998) have argued that the present-day Tons River was the ancient upper-part of the Sarasvati-River, which would then had been fed with Himalayan glaciers. The terrain of this river contains pebbles of quartzite and metamorphic rocks, while the lower terraces in these valleys do not contain such rocks. (Puri, V.M.K. and B.C. Verma. 1998. Glaciological and Geological Source of Vedic Saraswati in the Himalayas, Itihas Darpan, Vol. IV, No.2:7-36.)

the river may have dried up because of earthquakes in the region.[81] RV 2.3.8 and 1.3.12 may indicate that Sarasvati was already then in some way associated with knowledge.[82] "Our studies thus show that the Satluj was the main tributary of the Ghaggar and that subsequently the tectonic movements may have forced the Satluj westward and the Ghaggar dried. (Yash Pal et al. 1984:494, Remote Sensing of the "Lost" SArasvati River. In B.B. Lal et al. (eds.), Frontiers of the Indus Civilization.)

GHR V.N. Misra (1994, Indus Civilization and the Rigvedic Sarasvati. In Asko Parpola et al. (eds.), South Asian Archaeology 1993, Helsinki.) has noted that in the Indus Valley and the valleys of its main tributaries 50 Early and Mature IVC sites were found. 40 Early and 174 Mature IVC sites were found in Cholistan in the Hakra valley. A survey by Joshi et al. (1984, The Indus Civilization. In B.B. Lal et al. (eds.) Frontiers of the Indus Civilization.) found 137 Early and 109 Mature sites in the valleys of the GHR and its tributaries.


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  19. Rigveda,4.58.1
  20. Sri Aurobindo , op.cit.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Eck 2012, p. 145.
  22. 1.3, 13, 89, 164; 10.17, 30, 64, 65, 66, 75, 110, 131, 141
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  24. K.R. Jayaswal,Hindu Polity, pp. 12-13
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S.P. Gupta 1995, V.N. Misra 1992, in Eastern Anthropologist vol 45, pp 1-19</ref>[3] V.N. Misra [4] states that over 530 Harappan sites (of the more than 800 known sites, not including Degenerate Harappan or OCP) are located on the Hakra-Ghaggar.[5] T


  • Thus, in the Aryan Homeland debate, the identification of the Vedic Saraswati river with the Ghaggar in Haryana is likewise being ridiculed by secularist academics and their foreign dupes as a "Hindutva concoction", though it had first been proposed in 1855 by a French archaeologist and has been accepted ever since by most scholars. K. Elst.**The guilt of the "eminent historians" (published in The Pioneer, 26 Jan. 2016)


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External links[edit]

  1. S.P. Gupta. The dawn of civilization, in G.C. Pande (ed.)(History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, ed., D.P. Chattophadhyaya, vol I Part 1) (New Delhi:Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 1999))
  2. (S.P. Gupta 1995: 183)
  3. (1994, Indus Civilization and the Rigvedic Sarasvati. In Asko Parpola et al. (eds.), South Asian Archaeology 1993, Helsinki.) Cited from B.B. Lal 2002
  4. (in S.P. Gupta 1995: 144)
  5. An earlier survey by Joshi et al. (1984, The Indus Civilization. In B.B. Lal et al. (eds.) Frontiers of the Indus Civilization.) found 137 Early and 109 Mature sites in the valleys of the GHR and its tributaries.
  6. S.P. Gupta. The dawn of civilization, in G.C. Pande (ed.)(History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, ed., D.P. Chattophadhyaya, vol I Part 1) (New Delhi:Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 1999)