India Invented – Ep2 Dawn of civilization

India Invented – Ep2 Dawn of civilization

The progress of human civilization is often marked by the shift from food-gathering to food-production. Another index is the change
in the kind of tools used by human beings. Over time,
we have progressed from using stone and bone implements to sophisticated machinery. However, one of the special features of India is the co-existence of various modes of production and the use of
different types of tools simultaneously. This stone implement could be more than 200,000 years old. Tools like this mark the beginning
of civilization. The difference between human beings and other animals is only that human beings use tools. We use a variety of instruments. The first instruments that they started using
were made of stones. They were crude cuttings on stones which were made in what we call
the old-stone age or the Paleolithic period. After that,
tools became finer, sharper, more efficient. And with that,
human beings progressed from food-gathering, hunting, to food-growing – agriculture
and then to industry and to various other types of manufacturing. The old-stone age
represents the beginning, however, of the transition from ape to man. The stone age has been with us in India for several millenia and is still thriving today. And along with stone tools
which are in use today, remnants of tools from long
ago keep cropping up as well. A factory for mass-producing stone tools existed at this site in Tamilnadu,
now known as Attirampakkam. The era when tools were made
exclusively from stone and bones is divided into several periods. The oldest is the Paleolithic age
when crude tools like this implement were fashioned from stones and were used for basic tasks like
killing and skinning animals. Then came the new stone age. Tools became sharper and hence more efficient. In the bronze age,
the smelting of metals began and tools were then
made out of copper and its alloys. The evolution to metal tools
took several hundred thousand years and much happened during
the course of that period. By the time of the new stone age,
people in India had made considerable progress in cultural terms,
although hunting appears to have been
the dominant way of life. In the caves at Bhimbhetka,
the stone-age people have left us a vivid diary in pictures. It is usually thought that the Horse
was unknown in India until much later but these pre-historic paintings
found in the caves at Bhimbetka suggest otherwise. The grinding stone still seen in many indian households is one of the living links
with the past. This stone, in use today,
in the village of Dholavira, is not very different from the one dug up at the Harappan site nearby. The grinding stone
even tells us about social differences. In an upper caste household,
the kern is held from the top while the lower castes hold it from the sides. Perhaps a carry-over from the time
when the well-to-do would merely grind condiments with it whereas the poor
mainly used it for grinding corn. As well as this functional importance,
stone acquired a ritual value. This is dramatically evident in what are known as Megalithic burial sites – where large stones
are used to mark graves. Some 2000 years back,
it was the custom of our ancestors to bury dead bodies some 4 feet below the surface-level and they used to decorate them
in the form of circles. Along with the skeletal remains of the dead, he has used some materials
like dagger, pottery, and even other things. So, they also used to be buried
along with the skeletal remains. The bodies and some of their possessions
were buried in large pottery urns. This practice was particularly prevalent in South India and finds a mention in Tamil Sangam literature. The simultaneous use of stone and metal tools
was already a feature of a much more ancient
pre-historic civilization which flourished more than 2,500 years before Christ. This was the famous Harappan culture, somewhat inaccurately known as
the Indus valley civilization. This culture is known as Chalcolithic
signifying that both copper and stone implements were used simultaneously. The core of the Harappan civilization
was the valley of the Indus river and its tributaries. But it spread over half-a-million square miles. To date,
more than 300 sites have been excavated. The best known sites
of the Charcolithic civilization are of course Mohenjodaro and Harappa. But Kalibanga in Rajasthan
is no less impressive. It has all the characteristics
of the Indus Valley cities – well-planned streets, nice houses. The site itself is divided into 3 portions
which are known today as Kalibanga-1, Kalibanga-2 and Kalibanga-3
by archaeologists. The first one is a citadel. It has large houses,
perhaps public buildings. The second one has the houses
of the citizens along straight roads with streets running at right angles. And Kalibanga-3 is a small enclosure
where perhaps, the poorer people, the working people lived. These were known
to the British archaeologists as coolie lie-ins. This clear demarcation suggests a society
that had evolved considerably. The Harappan cities seem to stand out suddenly
as pockets of urban grandeur while elsewhere in the subcontinent
people were still living in small settlements and experimenting with food production. However, a closer look at the sites
like the fortified town of Dholavira, for instance, shows that this was not the case. The cities evolved slowly in stages and through the remains which
have been found, we can locate some of these stages. Right from the beginning,
we have been finding there certain mature Harappan traits
but by and large, the pottery and other things
were somewhat different. It means that the Harappa culture
was still in its very early stages of evolution. Because
all the mature Harappan elements are not there. Just a few are slowly emerging
from within the culture itself. At that time,
it was only a small fortress. In stage-2,
the fortress was further augmented, and settlement started extending
towards the north as well as the east. And in 3rd stage,
which is of course a very creative stage at Dholavira, we find that the earlier settlement
was converted into a citadel. The excavations at all the Harappan sites indicate the existence of granaries
and other storage facilities. The granaries usually faced the rivers,
which were used as trading highways. In Lothal,
the granary was very close to the dockyard. Trade was carried out
not only within the sub-continent, but also with Mesopotamia
(modern day Iraq) where a similar bronze age culture flourished. The main stay of the culture
was trade and commerce. Large scale crafting activities,
mass production of consumer goods for consumption in their domestic market
as well as outside. They had a very busy network
of international trade. They were trading regularly
with the Gulf countries, Mesopotamia
and possibly in the trans-Himalayan area also. Apart from trading their produce, the Harappan people
needed a constant supply of raw-materials including important metals
for their various activities. One of the intriguing issues about the
Chalcolithic people is about their access to metals. And these metals
in the case of the Indus Valley Civilization are copper, zinc and tin. While zinc and tin could have come
from mines in Central Asia, the nearest known source of copper
for the Indus valley are the Khetri mines
in the Eastern Rajasthan. Who mined that copper from there
and how did it reach the people of the Indus Valley? Recent research hypothesizes that
it was not the Indus valley people who were mining copper out of Khetri mines, but another people, people who are known to be
part of the Ganeshwar culture. They mined the copper
and traded it across the sand dunes which provided the natural eastern frontier
of the civilization. We all know of course that
Indus valley people were good at trade. And who got the better end
of the bargain should be obvious. The people of the Indus Valley were urban,
sophisticated and rich. The people of the Ganeshwar culture
were pre-urban and perhaps poor. Lothal on the Gujarat coast
is a classic Harappan site and gives us plenty of evidence
about these finely honed trading skills. One can imagine that it was a very busy harbor city
in its heyday. Town planning is a hallmark
of all the Indus Valley sites. The streets ran
at right-angles to each other. Every house had a backdoor
opening into a by-lane and an elaborate plumbing system. [All the bathwater from the public bath
and the private bathrooms used to come through closed drains
and collect in these gutters. Huge urns like these,
this one separated the sewage from the water which was then disposed off,
through one large drain.] This remarkable drainage system
was a consistent feature in all the Harappan cities. Ironically,
just a couple of kilometers from the site at Dholavira, the successors of these ancient people have retained no memory of the civic life. [Only those who know something about this place
are interested in it. Our villagers are illiterate and they don’t care about the site.] [Nobody goes to the site – it’s like a haunted-graveyard and we don’t touch the stones-
we are afraid of the ghosts.] In spite of the extensive archaeological excavations, the Harappan civilization
continues its aura of mystery. The first traces of the Indus valley cities were discovered at Mohenjodaro by chance
in 1921 when a railway track was being laid. Burnt brick was cannibalized from a mysterious mound
to construct the track. The quality of the bricks
and the emergence of trinkets from the mound, first aroused curiosity. Thus one civilization hurrying forward,
stumbled upon the remnants of another and uncovered a past of
undreamt-of technical skill
and artistic riches. But even today,
70 years after the first discovery, there is a lot that we don’t know
about the Harappans. Theories, inferences and guesses abound. The numerous seals of the Harappans
add an element to the mystery. These seals have been found in abundance
all over the Indus valley. Some of them have turned up
as far away as Iraq. These discoveries support notions of
importance of trade. The seals may have been used
by guilds of merchants and traders. In this one,
the figure in the tree may be a deity. It is believed that the Harappans worshiped
Nature along with a Mother figure. The seals have also preserved for us the script that the Harappans used. This script is at the heart of all debates
about the Indus Valley Culture. It was written from right to left like Arabic. It had some pictographic elements. None of the numerous attempts to decipher the script has, however,
been generally accepted. The uniform construction of all the cities has been interpreted to indicate
the control of a central government and possibly a planned economy. The element of historical continuity in this respect of the Indian civilization
is evident through a comparison of modern Chandigarh
with the ancient cities of the Harappans. [The grid iron pattern is the same in both the towns. And the unusual thing is that the Arithemetic of the Harappan grid
and the arithemetic of the grid here in Chandigarh, both are the same. Both have the same numerical value
– 1200 meters x 800 meters in Chandigarh – and 1200 feet x 800 feet in Harappa. So the ratios remain the same.
It’s very uncanny. In Chandigarh, we know why
because Le Corbusier thought of various things before he designed that grid because “That grid,” he said
“was the most appropriate grid for pedestrian walking” but one does not know why that grid was 1200 feet x 800 feet in Mohenjodaro. Some historians believe that
the raised citadel like structures of the Harappan sites suggest
that the government was theocratic. In any case, religion did play an important part
in the life of the people. We can deduce this from structures like
The Great Bath at Mohenjodaro. This was located at the heart of the citadel. As each house had its own individual bathroom, The Great Bath was
probably not just for bodily hygiene. It is likely that it served a purpose similar to
the Pushkar in the Hindu rituals where bathing symbolizes
spiritual purification. The Great Bath had a number of private rooms around it and it could well have been used
for rituals containing a heavy mix of politics, religion, and perhaps, even ritualized sex. The dancing girl cast in bronze is a fine example
of the culture of the Indus people. Hundreds of toys and artifacts
have been found. The variety of terra-cota beads and trinkets excavated testify to a high level of sophistication. This man’s sober appearance has been taken to suggest that
he may have been a priest or a nobleman. His possible descendant at Kalibanga
however, is a humble peasant. To think that the Harrappans
were peace loving people I don’t agree with that. Had that been the case,
why then did they fortify their settlements so zealously, so strongly. What was the necessity? And secondly, it makes it sound as if
the Harappans had a huge empire. But it is very likely that
in fact it was a cultural, economic or socio-economic empire
within which there were several states, several kingdoms,
who were all the time fighting against each other. In any event,
despite all its grandeur, the Harappan culture declined
and the legacy of urban civilization was lost. History is a discipline
which should make you feel both proud and humble. It should make you feel proud because
it reminds you of the glorious achievements of ancestors
who lived hundreds, thousands of years ago. For instance, this place at Lothal,
was built by a very sophisticated sort of people more than 4500 years ago. History is also a subject
that should make you feel humble. Compare Lothal of those days
with Surat of today just across the bay. Lothal is a well-planned city,
with a sophisticated drainage system and a great deal of civic pride
and a sense of civic opportunity. Surat is a mess with lot of greed,
lot of wealth and no civic sense whatsoever. Therefore,
while Lothal reminds one of glory, Surat makes one feel sad. And it is History
which brings out this sense of irony. Changes in climate
or the course of the rivers, foreign invasion
or simply internal decay have all been put forward
to explain the disappearance of the Indus Valley civilization. The hobby-horse of many scholars
has been to postulate the theory of invasion of Harappan cities by Aryans. DD Kosambi was very emphatic
about this invasion theory. But subsequent scholars don’t think
that the civilization disappeared because of any such invasion. Instead of emphasizing the idea
of complete disappearance, it is better to think in terms of
gradual decay of the civilization. The cities gave way to rural cultures. And the remarkable town planning
went underground for centuries. The written word disappeared and the sounds of a totally different culture
held sway in the subcontinent. Migrating tribes poured out of Eastern Europe, some going to Western Europe,
some going to West Asia and some penetrating the Indian sub-continent. These nomadic herders
loosely known as the Indo-Aryans started settling in North India
around 1500 B.C. Their advance into South Asia
was long and tortuous. Cultural mingling with the local people
modified their original ways and customs. The term Indo-Aryan thus
refers to a broad group of tribes which spoke the same language
but differed in cultural and physical characteristics. The primary source for the history of these people
is the Rigveda. The oldest of the four Vedas. For almost a thousand years, these hymns were not written down but were only transmitted orally. It is necessary to keep a view that
the Vedic literature as a whole was being produced over a very long period roughly speaking from about
1500 B.C to 500 B.C. This would mean that this massive literature was in composition for 1000 years
or probably even more. This is a literature which seems to have been produced by people living over
very wide geographical zone which spanned almost whole of North India
barring perhaps Bengal in the East. I think this is the literature
which gives us insights into the life of people living in NorthWestern India
(what can be called in the modern times as the Afghanistan area), there is the undivided Punjab, Haryana,
Rajasthan, modern Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. The Rigveda suggests that
the Indo-Aryans were predominantly pastoralists that survived chiefly
on the produce of the cow. The economic importance of the cow
transposed it into a sacred animal in later times. Cattle were often the subject of conflicts between the Aryan tribes
and the people known as the Dasyus and Panis. The Rigveda describes Dasyus & Panis
as dark-skinned with flat noses. The Aryans themselves are described
as being fairer with sharp features. Vedic texts give clear indications that the relationship between the Indo-Aryans and,
the Dasyus and the Panis, was very unfriendly almost
bordering on hostility. But there is another interesting angle
to this whole problem. “Dasyu” is equivalent to the word “Dahyu” which is mentioned
in the old Iranian language. It has been suggested that Dasyus were perhaps
one of the earliest people who came to India. Originally, they were Indo-aryans. But they came to India and they adopted the ways
of the pre-aryans in this country to such an extent that when the RigVedic Aryans came to India, they found that the mode of life
of the Dasyus was so different that hostility was inevitable. When the Aryans penetrated South India, this hostility was extended
to the Dravidian people. Even till today,
some aspects of Indian politics are said to reflect this antagonism
in the North-South divide. Aryan culture over time
spread all over the country. The process of assimilation
was often accompanied by conflict but it took place nevertheless. At the same time,
even as the composite culture of India evolved, the survival of tribal pockets
and alternative cults and traditions shows the persistence
of some of the older cultures. This survival marks the continuing plurality which makes up India.

11 thoughts on “India Invented – Ep2 Dawn of civilization

  1. In all actuality, my Kshatriya fellow, this video is not all that old. It aired on Doordarshan in 2003, which as of this year of 2014 is now eleven years of age. 

  2. Horse ryders in neoliitic India- how can this be so easy take? It is very important and turn around all history on this subject!!!!!

  3. I was reading what I was told or, what is said to be the first english translation from German of the Siegfried saga .Say it is dated to 650CE,or so
     In the story when Siegfried  is going to see Brunhilda the king sends out an order to make special fine clothing for the trip.
    Everything including the stones sewn into the silk is listed in the story as coming from India. So even after the fall of the Byzantine empire, trade from India was reaching through the Mediterranean all the way to Germany.

  4. Do you know who made the transcript (which is at

    In general it is pretty good and should help quite a lot those people who can't make out what's being said (either because of the accents or the sound quality or the soundtrack) but in some cases there are some omissions.

    For example, in part 2, when Tamil archaeologist G.Thirumoorthy describes some megalithic burials, just before "Along with the skeletal remains of the dead" he says "… and they used to decorate them in the form of circles, cairn circles, dolmens, like that" but the bit "cairn circles, dolmens, like that" is omitted, maybe because the transcriber did not understand the technical terms "cairn circle" and "dolmen".

  5. And thus spake all in angreZi . A pogram made by intellectual bharilok paid for by taxes
    by the hurrahpans
    By pashupati the spellcheck just killed me

  6. Only inďia is kheti pradhan desh. only indians are purely vegetarians but the rest.
    UK was tudor house just 30 years back there were bones on roads of chicken bites and dogs fauling. PM Threchter put stop on saying no meat on bones. and prohibited on dog fauling. that has changed image of british streets. but global community only devouver meat more and less vegetable. but induans are purely vegetarians.

  7. vedic literature is birth plàce of india. only. no european arrived to india aand settled as indo aryan. aryan are original indian. europeans are ill qualitied thives, lusty, greedy ill organied undisciplined society.

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