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In this book, we analyze the psycho-social consequences faced by Indian American children after exposure to the school textbook discourse on Hinduism and ancient India. We demonstrate that there is an intimate connection—an almost exact correspondence—between James Mill’s colonial-racist discourse (Mill was the head of the British East India Company) and the current school textbook discourse. This racist discourse, camouflaged under the cover of political correctness, produces the same psychological impacts on Indian American children that racism typically causes: shame, inferiority, embarrassment, identity confusion, assimilation, and a phenomenon akin to racelessness, where children dissociate from the traditions and culture of their ancestors.

This book is the result of four years of rigorous research and academic peer-review, reflecting our ongoing commitment at Hindupedia to challenge the representation of Hindu Dharma within academia.

Sarasvati River

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

The Ṛgveda often speaks of the Sarasvatī as a mighty river[1] flowing from the Himalayas into the ocean.[2]

History of Sarasvati River[edit]

See also: Significance of the Sarasvati River in the Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization

Initially it was a mighty river which was as wide as 8 to 13 kilometres. It might have been the life-line of the people up to 3000 B.C. Severe tectonic disturbances might have contributed to its gradual disappearance by 2200 B.C. into a desert. The river Sarasvati is said to originate at Plaksha Prasaravana in the Shivalik hills of the Himalayas and disappear into the ground at Vinasana near Kurukshetra.

It was referred to in several scriptures and secular literature, usually being mentioned as the site of important places such as the locations of kingdoms, cities, or pilgrimage centres. For example, the Abhiras are said to have dwelt on the Sarasvati, the Kingdom of Sthanvishvara (modern Thanesar in Haryana) was situated on the Sarasvati, and Harsha is written to have built a temple on it.

Some writers today, mainly Islamist and liberal (i.e., communist, pseudo-secularists) have claimed that it is modern Arghabdab or Helmand which was the Rig Vedic Sarasvati. This has been the trend for not only it, but also geographic features like cities (Ayodhya) that some writers haven’t been able to pinpoint within India [despite those places being within it. Because scriptures never mention Afghanistan (Ketumala or Apara-Videha) or its regions (Gandhara, Kamboj, Kapiśa, Vahlika) or Sarasvati together, it can easily be inferred that the two are not connected. Helmand didn’t even have any significant settlements or significance, as the Vedic seers described Sarasvati as the river with human sedentary importance.

Another point is that some rivers in Afghanistan were named after Indian ones, just as numerous rivers in india were named after certain other Indian ones. One version of the Mazdaen Avesta’s commentary section even states that the Amu Darya was also referred to as Veh (Indus) because a lot of Indians migrated to Central Asia [and carried on names.]

It is also noteworthy that Sarasvat Brahmans were never mentioned in any connection to Afghanistan, and that their main demographic concentration is around where the Sarasvati flowed through according to geologists.

Present Sarasvati River[edit]

The modern rivers, Sarasvatī and Ghaggar may be the remnants of the ancient Sarasvatī.[3] During the recent years, great efforts are being made to trace its origin and course and also to revive it in some form. Proofs for the existence of the mighty river are:

  1. Satellite pictures
  2. Controlled excavations under the supervision of expert archaeologists
  3. Testing of soil sediment and artifacts by the most modern and scientific methods

References in Ancient Scriptures[edit]

There are references to it in other Vedic scriptures such as:

  1. Aitareya Brāhmana[4]
  2. Pañcavimśa Brāhmana[5]
  3. Śatapatha Brāhmana
  4. Taittiriya Samhitā[6]

It has been known as various names such as, Ramya-Ganga, Sausami, and Sushoma.

Significance as per Mahābhārata[edit]

The Mahābhārata declares that many Vedic sacrifices were performed on its banks.[7][8] The Kāmyakavana forest where the Pāndavas lived for some time was on its bank;[9] and even the hermitage of the famous sage Dadhīci.[10] It seems to have originated in the higher Himālayan ranges and flown through the present Śivālik range of mountains joined by other tributary rivers.

Significance as per other scriptures[edit]

The sacredness of the river served for many ceremonial purposes. Indra performed austerities at Indratirtha (in Thanesar) and at Indrabari (in Safidon) on the Sarasvati, Surya performed sacrifice at Adityatirtha, and Varuna was anointed by the Devas at Tajisa.[11]

The river passed through the sacred cities of Ambala, Pipli, Kurukhshetra, Pehowa, Sisra (Sirsuti) and others in the Thar Desert.[12]

When discussing the region of Sarasvata, only regions in India, and more specifically ones surrounding Sarasvata are mentioned in texts.[13]

The Buddhist scripture Majjhima Nikaya when discussing rivers in midland of Jambudwipa (a name for India in the text), it mentions the list as follows: Bahuka, Adhikakka, Gaya, Sundarika, Sarasvati, Payaga and Bahumati.[14] Varahamihira in his Bṛhatsamhitā too mentions the river in midland India, because he places the Sarasvatas, people living on the banks of the Sarasvati[15], in the Madhyadesa (Middle Country.)[16]

In Jainism, Bappa Bhatti and Mallisena in their Sarasvati-yantra-puja-vidhi refer to the drawing of many diagrams to be made on lotuses for the worship of 16 VIdyadevis, 8 Dikpalas, 8 Matrkas, and 8 Bhairavas. In Jainism Davadanti is considered as an avatar of Saraswati too.

Names and course of the river[edit]


Because the Sarasvati had passed through so many different kingdoms of India, each with different nationalities, it has been recorded as having several names.

Upon reaching Kharjurivana she was called Nanda. Having reached the farthest west point it was known as Prachi. It is also called Jyotismati. Aruna is its other name.

In Tibetan it is Yangchenma[17], "Goddess of Melodious Voice." She is also known as Ngawang Lhamo "Lady of Speech (Skt: Vaklsvari.) Ko karmo (White-cloaked Lady) is another epithet.

The Jain Nirvanakalika refers to the Srutadevata of a Jina as 'Hamsavahana'.[18]

Course and streams

The tradition of the Sarasvati facing erosion is alluded to in numerous scriptures. For example, it is said to go underground and then reemerging again at Bhutisvara and passing through Srikantha-desa, Kurukshetra, Viratanagara, Gopayanagiri, Khajurivana, Markandasrama, Arbudaranya, Udumbaravana, Udgamavata, and finally to Siddhesvara at Prabhasa-kshetra before reaching the ocean.

The Skanda Purana further mentions its reappearance:

The great river became visible beyond that well. Six Upasikas (servants, tributaries) of Sarasvati started therefrom, viz. Mati, Smrti, Prajna, Medha, Buddhi, and Giradhara.

—Skanda Purana[19]

The Mahabharata Vana Parva 82 states, that Sarasvati having lost in the sands reappeared at Camasodbheda, Sivodbheda, and Nagodbheda.[20]

Nagodbheda was a lake and this is why Sarasvati is associated with the Naga tribe.

Modern identification of Rig Vedic rivers[edit]

Northwestern Rivers
Rig Vedic Avestan Modern name Location
Anitabha Amita Kashmir
Gauri Panjkora?
Kusava Kunar?
Krumu Kurrum
Kubha Kabul
Silamavati? Sila Kashmir
Suvastu Swat[21]
Yavyavati Zhob?
Indus and its minor eastern tributaries
Rig Vedic Avestan Modern name Location
Arjikiya Haro Haro?
Amaravati Aravand/Diglit Gilgit Kashmir, Northern Areas
Sindhu Veh Indus Tibet, Kashmir, Northern Areas, Punjab, Sind
Susoma Sohan Punjab
Central rivers (rivers of the Punjab region)
Rig Vedic Avestan Modern name Location
Asikni Chenab
Marudvrdha Maruwardwan[1] Kashmir
Parusni Ravi Punjab
Sutudri Sutlej
Vipas Beas
Vitasta Ditya Jhelum
East-central Rivers (rivers of Haryana)
Rig Vedic Avestan Modern name Location
Apaya (Mahabharata Apaga)
Drsadvati (RV 3.23.4)
Sarasvati Aredvi Sura Ghaggar
Eastern rivers
Rig Vedic Avestan Modern name Location
Asmanvati Asnavand Assan?
Ganga Ganga
Gomti (Adi Ganga) Uttar Pradesh
Rasa Ranha Brahmaputra Tibet, Arunanchal Pradesh, Asom, Bangladesh
Svetya Spenda
Sarayu Sarayu Uttar Pradesh
Yamuna Yamuna
First thou goest united with the Trishtama on this journey, with the Susartu, the Rasa, and the Sveti, O Sindhu with the Kubha (Kophen, Cabul river) to the Gomoti (Gomal), with the Mehatnu to the Krumu (Kurum) with whom thou proceedest together.

—Rig Veda 10.75.6

This very important verse categorizes rivers into eastern and western. The Susartu, the Rasa, and the Sveti are eastern ones, and the Sindhu ‘going united’ to flow with those 3 rivers means that Indus after passing through the Mansarovar (Trishtama, which means three-layered and dark) to flow with the 3 rivers that originate out of it Susartu (Ganga), Sveti (Ghaghara), and Rasa (Brahmaputra.) The Ghaghara is also called Karnali. "The Karnali is probably the only river that offers continually challenging white water at all flows, though during the high-water months of September and May it's significantly more challenging than in the low-water months."[22] The river is even called locals as Sweta-Ganga (colloquially ‘Setiganga’.)[23]

External Resources[edit]

See Also[edit]


  1. Rgveda 2.41.16; 7.95.2 and so on
  2. It is almost parallel to the Sindhu or the Indus river.
  3. Both of them are in Himachal Pradesh.
  4. Aitareya Brāhmana 2.19.1,2
  5. Pañcavimśa Brāhmana 25.10.1
  6. Taittiriya Samhitā
  7. Ādiparva 95.26
  8. Vanaparva 12.14
  9. Vanaparva 36.41
  10. Vanaparva 100.13
  11. P. 69 Haryana, Ancient and Medieval By H. A. Phadke
  12. P. 69 Haryana, Ancient and Medieval By H. A. Phadke
  13. P. 91 Cosmography and Geography in Early Indian Literature By D. C. Sircar
  14. P. 130 Geography of ancient India in Buddhist literature By Debarchana Sarkar
  15. Bṛhatsamhitā XVI. 21
  16. Bṛhatsamhitā XIV.2
  17. 295 Sources of Tibetan Tradition edited by Kurtis R. Schaeffer, Matthew T. Kapstein, Gray Tuttle
  18. P. 102 Studies in South Asian Culture By Universiteit van Amsterdam. Institute of South Asian archaeology
  19. P. 215 Ancient Indian tradition & mythology, Volume 67 By Jagdish Lal Shastri, Arnold Kunst
  20. P. 92 New discoveries about Vedic Saravsatī [i.e. Sarasvatī] By Ravi Prakash Arya
  21. Rig Veda 8.19.37
  22. P. 407 Nepal By Hugh Finlay, Richard Everist, Tony Wheeler
  23. P. 326 A Gazetteer of the Territories Under the Government of the East-India Company, and of the Native States on the Continent of India: Volume 2 By Edward Thornton
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore