Which were the gods of the Indus Valley civilization and did they teach concepts of God?


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The Three major oldest civilizations in the world are Egypt, Sumer, and the Indus Valley. The latter lasted until 1500 BC.

Scholars most usually say that the language was Dravidian and that the Aryans did not arrive until 2200-1500 BC, while its climax was in 2700-2400 BC. Until scholars do DNA tests on lots of skeletons I think this question will not be solved for the scholars collectively and we won't have a single definite answer as to what their ethnicity and language group were.

Based on the theory that the language was Dravidian, some attempts have been made to decipher the Harappan writings, but those writings are also a mystery. I think that to solve it we will have to begin with the DNA tests and work from there, based on the language.

This brings us to our next question - of religion. We can see that Hinduism is a mix of Indo-European figures like Indra and local deities, probably including Krishna. Hinduism has changed over 3000 years+, with some deities getting less attention, like Dyaus Pita. So based on our knowledge of archeaology and with support from Hinduism, can we say reliably who the gods of the Indus civilization were?

Robert Speer writes in The Handbook of Tibetan Buddhist Symbols
about a Shiva Pashupati seal found from the Harappans with Shiva and deer, and about the wheel symbol referring to the sun:
"The wheel is an early Indian solar symbol of sovereignty, protection, and creation. As a solar symbol [the wheel] first appears on clay seals unearthed from the Harappan civilization of the Indus valley [circa 2500 BC]... The origin of the wheel and deer emblem probably predates Buddhism, as both the insignia of the wheel and the motif of two deer flanking the deity Shiva Pashupati have been found on clay seals unearthed from the ancient Indus valley civilization.... These ancient seals of Shiva as Pashupatinath, the "Lord of the Animals", probably form a link between early Shaivism and the first disciples of the Buddha."

However, I don't know of any Shiva seal with deer. I only know of a Shiva Pashupati-like seal from there and also a Celtic seal from Europe that resembles it with a deer:

I did find a separate image of a deity fighting two tigers beneath a wheel symbol, which brings to mind for me the image of the sun in the sky:

A website by Swami Nathan claims about this image:

Indra is called Chakra [sic.: He is called "Shakra"] in Vedas. His mount is elephant Airavata.
Chakra is seen above his head in the tablet.
Indra is king as well as Chakravarthi(emperor).
Indus artistes followed west asian model in portraying him.
However, the figure in the seal looks a bit like a woman with a breast and a big puff of hair, so I am skeptical that it is Indra. And I'm skeptical that it's a "chakra", because it looks like a Dharma wheel instead.

The same author says:

Photoconvex moulded tablet in Harappa museum shows a female figure fighting two tigers standing above an elephant ( I have interpreted this as Indra on Irawatha or Bharata who played with lions even when he was young. A chakra sign on top of the head may denote Indra’s name=chakra or Bharata= Eka Chakratipati).
So this author basically undermines his claim that it's Indra by saying that it's a "female figure" that he calls a "tiger goddess".

Here is what seems to me to be another Indus tablet with a different heading on the same story of a figure fighting two tigers:

Swami Nathan writes more on the theme of a tiger-fighting goddess here:

This square seal depicts a tiger looking back a human figure on a tree. The person with hair tied in double bun style holds the tree with one hand and makes some gestures to the tiger with the other hand.

On another seal a mythical female figure half human half tiger is portrayed .This seal is in national Museum ,New Delhi. A seal depicting a man holding a tiger was also found at Mohenja-daro. It is in Delhi Museum. The man fighting or holding the tiger is not an ordinary human being. It looks like a devil with horns. What is puzzling is that there is not even a close resemblance to any of these scenes in our mythology. But villagers have got many stories about tiger gods or tiger angels in different parts of India.


He proposes these analogies in Hinduism for the tiger seals:
Kollong and Ullatar tribes of Kerala consider tiger as the son of goddess Parasakthi.
Lord Ayyappa (Sabarimalai in Kerala, India) rides a tiger.
Hindu goddess Durga/Kali rides a tiger or lion.
Patanjali (Pulikkal Munivar) Human with legs of a tiger.
Shiva wears a tiger skin. Mahabharata very often uses the epithet “tiger among men”.
He then shows a modern Hindu drawing of the goddess Durga riding a tiger.

Another website called "Indus Script code deciphered" does show what looks more like a Chakra sign from an Indus valley seal:

Chakra Peetam and Aadi Thapasu
There is a chakra symbol inside a square (grapheme on the right side, corner, bottom of the seal). ... at present it is assumed that this chakra inside square is different from simple independent chakra of Indra. This chakra within square may be indicating 'Shakthisthal' as narrated below.

There is a circular hole in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Goddess with a design of Sri Chakra inside it. There is a popular belief that any one afflicted with mental disorder worships the deity sitting on the hole will be cured of the disease.
"Aadi Thapasu"is one of the important festivals of Gomathi amman celebrated in the Tamil month of Aadi in a grand scale. The story on this: Sri Gomathi Ambal did Thapas at Punnai kshetra and Lord Shiva gave Her darshan as Sankaranarayanaswamy on the Uthirada day in the month of Adi (June–August) and thereby indicating that God Shiva and God Vishnu are same. Further to prove this theory, it is also said that Sankaranarayanasami gave darshan to Sankan and Padman. It is in practice to make the psychiatric patients, or those suffering from diseases and persons believed to have been haunted by evil spirits, to sit on Sri Chakra peetam, in front of Goddess Gomathi Amman continuously for 40 days so that they could be cured.
Maavilakku(offering made of rice) is an important offering to this amman. Those who to come visit this temple also offer miniatures of snake, scorpion and other reptiles to get rid of curses.
When it talks about the Sanctum of the Goddess, I think it might mean the goddess Amman. But I am not sure what the circular hole is that this passage is referring to. I am not even sure that it's a chakra symbol in the lower right of the tablet in the picture. It looks more to me like a Dharma wheel with a flower symbol of petals on the outer rim of the wheel.

These are Chakras:

SOURCE: http://www.kacha-stones.com/chakras.htm

Stephen Knapp claims in "The Power of the Dharma: An Introduction to Hinduism and Vedic Culture" that
"Statiues of Rishabha, the firsth Thirthankara and founder of Jainism, were found in Mohenjadaro and Harappa excavations. " But I think he could be mistaken, because I heard that some Jains were guessing that the image that looked like Shiva Pashupati from the Harappan findings was Rishabha.

So what do you think about who the gods were of the Harappan civilization?

Do you think that concepts like Om, the Chakra, the Swastika, and the Dharma wheel were part of Indus civilization, and were they connected to perceptions of God?


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N.S. Rajaram writes about Harappan symbols, including the Swastika, featured below:

http://sathyavaadi.tripod.com/truthisgod/Archives/sast-string.jpg ]
Harappan sites are replete with the swastika. Swastika stands for svasti-ka, meaning ‘maker of welfare’. They appear singly as well as in combination with other signs. The figure above shows a string of five swastikas. This is related to the sacred panca-svasti mantra found in the Yajurveda (25.18 – 19), in which the word ‘svasti’ (welfare) appears five times. It may be paraphrased as:

We invoke him who may bring us welfare.

May the respected Indra guard our welfare,

May the omniscient Pushan guard our welfare,

May the Universal Creator guard our welfare,

May the Great Protector bring us welfare.

He also claims that a version of the Hindu "Om" sign is found in Indus society. Here is the modern Om sign:


He says that the Om sign is known also as pranavakshara and then proposes:
The seal below is known as 'onkara mudra' or the OM seal.

This ‘bow-shaped’ Harappan ‘Om’ is described in several places in the Vedic literature. The Mundaka Upanishad (2.2.4) describes it as: “Pranava (Om) is the bow, the soul is the arrow, Brahma is the target. With full concentration, aim at the target and strike, to become one with Brahma, just as the arrow becomes one with the target.” The OM is intimately linked to the asvattha (pipul) leaf, which is another sacred symbol in Vedic thought and even today.
The OM is intimately linked to the asvattha (pipul) leaf, which is another sacred symbol in Vedic thought and even today. Here are more examples from the Vedic literature.

The Katha Upanishad (2.3.1) contains almost a visual description of the Om as an ashvattha (pipul) tree growing downward: “This is the eternal ashvattha tree, with the root at the top (urdhvamoolo), but branches downwards. It is He that is called the Shining One and Immortal. All the worlds are established in Him, none transcends Him.” The same idea is echoed in the Bhagavadgita (15.1): “He who knows that ashvattha tree with its root above and branches down, whose leaves are the Vedas said to be imperishable. And he who knows it knows the Vedas.” In all this there is the symbolism of the ashvattha as the seat of sacred knowledge (or Veda), and the abode of the Gods. This idea goes back to the Rigveda itself (X.97.5): “Your abode is the ashvattha tree, your dwelling is made of its leaves.”

So we can see from the seal that the Pipal tree, which is probably what is shown due to its emphasis in the Vedas, is considered sacred. It isn't clear to me though that the image above is a bow or that the Vedic verses cited refer to the sign of the Om.

However, the claim that this Indus seal is Om is repeated elsewhere:

Dr. N. Patel makes the same claim:
The original representation (3000 BC) of the primordial Om sound in the Saraswatisindhu valley was as shown here complete with ancient writings. Quite a few of these ornately carved stone tablets have been excavated from several ruined cities like Dholavira, Rakhigrahi, Harappa, etc. The figure to the right represents a kind of flower pot (earth) nourishing a plant (life). Below is the same tablet shown in sketch form along with an sketch which has been rotated 90 degrees to show the resemblance clearly.


However, if you look at the bottom of this image, you can see the Indus writing. It is read from right to left: Fish sign and then a tree leaf sign. This means that the picture on the left is the one that is in the correct position, because the Indus writing was left to right, not top to bottom.

The writer continues:
It will be obvious to any rational reader that it was the source from which the letter in the Devanagari alphabet was created. Many Devanagari alphabet letters were similarly created from sounds of familiar objects to the creators. In fact the original configuration shown in the left sketch is still used in Kannada language in Andhra Pradesh to express the Om sound.
To clarify: In Kannada language, Om looks like: ಓಂ
I see a close resemblance, although it's not exact.

The website Indus Script Code deciphered proposes a special writing for the Om sign in Indus script. It looks like he is crediting Asko Parpola's research.
"Om" "Vedic Mantra" in Indus script


symbol "O"


Diacritic mark for lengthy pronunciation of "O" (see the note at the bottom of the page)


He next compares these signs to what is known to be Om in Malayam script and others:

Om in Malayalam script

Om in Grantha script
Om in Gujarati
Om in Hindi
Om in Tamil
I see a resemblance in the case of Tamil and Grantha.

A book review of Asko Parpola's The Roots of Hinduism explains his theory that "Om" comes from the concept of giving permission and is related to Dravidian "Am" (yes):
One of the many things he does in this book is use the concept of “loan-words” taken from linguistics to explain the intermingling of the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian languages and people, and he locates many Tamil loan-words in Rigveda. He puts forward the view that the Sanskrit word 'Om' is taken from Tamil, and he explains how. He says that the word was used as granting permission. While tracing its ritualistic significance, he quotes from the Chandogya-Upanishad: “This syllable is one of permission; for when one permits anything he says om.” And from the Aitareya-Brahmana he cites this passage: “om is the response to a Rigvedic verse (rc), tatha (‘be it so’) to a profane verse (gatha); om is divine, tatha is human.” Parpola explains the distinction in terms of liguistic register: “Distinction is made here between the hieratic speech of the sacrifice, where om is used to express agreement, and ordinary, mundane conversation, where tatha or tathastu is used.” And then he arrives at his own thesis: “I therefore propose that om (with a long o as always in Sanskrit) derives from the Proto-Dravidian am, “yes,” a contracted variant of akum...This usage of am to mean “yes” is still very common in Dravidian languages, for instance Tamil, and in the Jaffna dialect of Tamil in Sri Lanka...”
This reminds me a bit of the ritual Abrahamic use of the word "Amen", which means that someone is in agreement in Hebrew.

Parpola explains theories about the meaning of Om at length in his 1980 paper:


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Swami Nathan also writes about the Seven wives (pleiades)/ seven Krithikas, and a tablet he sees as depicting human sacrifice. He shows a picture of the Seven women tablet:
Seven Women/ Sapta Kanya

Seven is the most sacred number for Hindus. Anything holy, they count in seven, whether it is hills, rivers, forests, cities, holy women or holy men to remember (sapta kanya, sapta nadhi, sapta Rishi, sapta mokshapuri, sapta aranya etc). Seven is found in largest number of seals in Indus valley. The Seven Sister seal in the Indus is a famous one. Most of the Hindu temples have Sapt Kanya/ seven women statues in South India.

(The Pleiades). Hindus call this six[sic: seven] Krithikas. Westerners call this constellation Seven Sisters. This tallies somewhat with Hindu counting One Skanda+looked after by six sisters=seven).

Here is where he claims that this is connected with human sacrifice:
Boora Pennu (God of light in Khond)

A local deity in the Orissa who created the earth goddess Tari Pennu as his consort is called Boora Pennu. Until recently this deity was the subject of sacrifice in notorious meriah rituals, which involved violent human sacrifice....
Tari pennu in Tamil will mean the same. Tarai=earth or floor, pennu=woman.
A scene in a Mohenja daro seal also looks like a human sacrifice. A deity is depicted standing in a papal tree with bangles on both arms. A human head rests on a stool. A giant ram and seven figures in a procession are very prominent. A man in kneeling position is worshipping the papal deity.
Personally, it is not clear to me from the tablet that there is a head on a stool:

I am also skeptical that this is Boora-Pennu as opposed to some other deity.

To sum up, theories and educated guesses include:

  • figure like Shiva Pashupati
  • tiger-fighting goddess, Durga riding a tiger
  • sun wheel symbol,
  • Om,
  • Swastika,
  • The seven wives of the sages

Guesses about what concepts they had that I am skeptical about include
  • Chakra,
  • Indra,
  • Boora-Pennu


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Additional question: Could the god Mhasoba be related to the Shiva-like figure sitting down in the tablet as some scholars claim?


D. Kosambi writes in Myth and Reality that the Indus seal with its image of a Shiva-like horned figure is a prototype of the later Hindu ideas and that this is connected with the buffalo god Mhasobe.

Siva grew out of rather primitive and aniconic cult-stones along several parallel tracks, into a sublimated highest god —for some people. At one stage his equivalent came into more or less violent conflict with the various mother-goddesses who had previously been the senior deities. We find a naked three-faced god on Mohenjo-daro seals (fig. 1) who might easily be a prototype of the modern Siva; but that deity wears buffalo horns on his headdress. It cannot be a mere accident that the pastoral buffalo-god Mhasoba is also identified with the Mahisasura whom the goddess Parvati crushes to gain her title Mahisasura-mardini (fig 2). We shall see in one of the present essay that Parvati as Yogesvari is at times married to an equivalent of Mhasoba who begins to resemble a diluted form of Siva-Bhairava. This will cast some light upon the Kalighat painting and other icons where Parvati as Kali tramples (fig. 3) upon Siva's prostrate body, presumably his corpse ; that he comes to life again under her vivifying tread is obviously a mitigating addition to the undeniable conflict.

  • Mahisasura mardini.
  • Parvati trampling upon the dead Siva, who is thereby vivified as a youth

Siva managed to remain united to Parvati in marriage, though she is supposed later to have stripped him of everything at a game of dice. His entourage (fig. 4) has the sacred bull Nandi, the cobra, goblins of various sorts, an elephant- headed son Ganesa, another (Skanda) with six heads. It might be noted that the son of Parvati's body was not of Siva's, and he cut off the child's head, later replaced by that of an elephant in the myth.
On the other hand, Skanda was born of Siva's seed, but not of Parvati’s womb. This complex iconography and ridiculously complicated myth cannot be explained by Siva's elevation to the highest abstract principle. I


Dr. Pradip Bhattacharya writes in his review of Coburn's "Devi Mahatmya" paper that it would be a worthwhile avenue to pursue the importance of Mhasoba:
The intriguing Mhasoba cult of Maharashtra, where Mahisha is worshipped with his wife Jogubai (Durga), is not mentioned. Again, the way in which the story of the mother goddess slaying the buffalo-demon lives on graphically in Chhau folk dance and the Terrukuttu drama cycle finds no place in this otherwise excellent paper. Nor does Coburn refer to the tradition of the buffalo demon invading the inner precincts of the Madurai temple itself to be slain by Minakshi. Even Kannagi, who becomes a goddess and revives Kovalan in Silapaddikaram without any male help, is not studied. One expected a study of the worship of Kamakhya since it remains one of the most frequented shrines of the 'living goddess'. Coburn's paper would benefit considerably by reference to Indira S. Aiyar's thesis,Durga as Mahishasuramardini (1997) which brings together a vast amount of data from comparative mythology to throw further light on Durga.

Sri Vidya proposes this explanation:
It is because the horns of his previously mentioned headdress resemble the horns of the buffalo that Shiva has been associated with the later buffalo god Mhasoba, the deity of primitive pastoral tribes who, though most commonly located in the South, wander all over the subcontinent. The buffalo god was in conflict with the Earth Mother, the goddess of the rival food-gathering (agricultural) people; eventually the two are found linked as male and female, the forerunners, it is presumed, of the Shiva and Shakti (or Shiva-Parvati, Shiva-Durga, etc.) of more prehistoric times. Shiva is also a god of various goblins and demons, minor deities inherited from primitive ages, and is closely identified animals, not only his famous bull Nandi (a bull alone is another motif of the Indus stamp seals) but also a sacred cobra, and the elephant god Maha-Ganapati or Ganesa, his son; he is occasionally glad in a tiger skin or is accompanied by a dear. Possibly all these animals are totemic remnants that have coalesced around this god. Also, over the millennia, innumerable local gods have been absorbed into his more powerful cult and became identified as aspects of Shiva. He has 1,008 names (108 in some recensions), which are but manifestations of his accreted power, and so leading to one of his names of Mahadeva or Mahesvara (the Great God).

This reminds me of the animals seated next to the Shiva Pashupati figure. Maybe it means that Shiva took those forms.

The Indian Express has an article called The riddle of Mhatoba, Mhaskoba and Mahishasura , which goes into this question about whether Mhasoba, who may be associated with Shiva, is connected to Mahisha Ashura. It even adds that some Indians worship Mahisha directly today:
The veneration of Mhaskoba, Mhatoba and Mhasoba has been going on for centuries in Maharashtra. They are tribal gods popular across sections of society. While the worship of Mahishasura in North India is popular among certain tribes, and is used as a symbol of tribal pride, the followers of Mhatoba, who may or may not be Mahishasura, venerate him for alleviation of the trials and tribulations of their day-to-day life. A pastoral god, venerated across Maharashtra, aniconic (symbolic or suggestive) shrines of the deity dot the length and breadth of the state. Once associated with the Dhangar (nomadic herdsman) community, according to Saili Palande Datar, Indologist and researcher with Pune-based Samvidya Institute of Cultural Studies, the deity has now been incorporated with the pantheon of village deities (Gram Daivata). Datar says shrines of Mhasoba are situated near temples of the goddess. “The best example is in Pune where a live Mhasoba cult is to be seen at the foot of the Parvati hill temple,” Kosambi’s book states. However, that was the only instance the book gave of a Mhasoba temple situated near a Parvati temple.
http://www.latestnews360.com/readmo...dle of Mhatoba, Mhaskoba and Mahishasura.html

What do you think?


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There was a question?
Yes. I would like to please ask what were the gods of the Indus Valley Civilization. I only found a couple in these articles, but I'm sure there were more.


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Another interesting thing for me was the theory that Om goes back to at least the time of the Harappan civilization.

In his essay "On the Primary Meaning and Etymology of the Sacred Syllable OM", Asko Parpola compares the root meanings of Om in Dravidian and the Sanskrit Vedas. He quotes from the Vedas where they say that Om means to give permission, and he finds cases in Dravidian culture where Aum means Yes, and he concludes that they are related. He writes in his conclusion:
We have ... seen [in section 3.5 of the essay] that Om and the synonymous tatha "yes" were used as responses to each single verse in the recitals of ancient popular narratives, during such Vedic rituals as the royal consecration and the horse/human sacrifice (which in all likelihood are of pre-Vedic Indian origin) * * Citation: Parpola's book published in 1980.


[There are] other aspects relating to the early religious uses of the sacred syllable Om, particularly in connection with the cult of the (rising) sun. In my opinion this word of the utmost religious importance provides yet another proof that the religion of pre-Vedic India goes back to a large extent to a Dravidian substratum. I have discussed elsewhere another key term of early Vedic religion, kimpurusha, coming to a similar concusion. In that and other connections I have given grounds for my basic working hyposthesis, accoprding to which the Dravidian substatum is to be linked with the Harappan culture. Its traditions were transmitted to Vedic times by an earlier wave of non-Vedic Aryans, the Dashas and Vratyas.

SOURCE: https://www.scribd.com/doc/15050686/Parpola-Om
What do you think about this theory?

Namaste Jesus

Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai
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Between Celestial Planes
What do you think about this theory?
The sound OM or Aum has deep spiritual meaning for many, going well beyond simple affirmation. Many do believe it predates the Vedas and that it's essence is found in religions other than Hindu. You may find this link interesting.
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