WHY INDUS? AND NOT SINDHU!
By Dial V. Gidwani
This article is written by Dial V. Gidwani, Founding President of the American Institute of Sindhulogy (AIS) to express his disappointment over a rising trend to refer to River Sindhu as Indus which is the name given to it by foreigners in recent times.
Similarly, he regrets that Sindhu valley civilization is mindlessly being miscalled as Indus Valley civilization. This according to Dial is clearly in denial of our Vedas, epics of Ramayana and Mahabharta, legends, folklore, literature, history, heritage and tradition.
Dr. Choithram P. Gidwani, an old Congress leader from Sindh (as told by his colleagues, Prof. Ghanshyam and Dr. Vatanmal), once asked, “Why does Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru refer to River Ganga as Ganga and not by its modern Europeanized name of Ganges and yet he talks of Sindhu by its Europeanized name of Indus?”
Dr. Choithram's question has validity and although it remained unanswered by Nehru, the one good result arising from this question was that Nehru thereafter often referred to Sindhu and Sindhu Valley civilization by their ancient name of Sindhu and and not by their Europeanized name of Indus.
Antiquity of Sindu and its Tributaries
Bhagwan S. Gidwani's masterly book, “Return of the Aryans” clearly demonstrates that For the Rig-Vedic poets, the rivers par excellence were the Sindhu and Saraswati which are mentioned repeatedly, respectfully and glowingly in the Vedas. In fact, no other river has been mentioned in Rig Veda as often as Sindhu River itself. “Return of the Aryans” refers to the Songs of Rig Veda, composed from 4600 BCE which echo and re-echo as they sing with ecstasy and delight of Sindhu River. Here is one verse out of many:
“Sindhu's roar rises high above the earth, right up to the heavens above. . . Sindhu leads all other rivers just as a warrior-king leads the rest of warriors . . . Rich in fine steeds is Sindhu; Rich in gold; nobly fashioned is Sindhu; rich in ample wealth is Sindhu.
NOTE: Rig Veda, the first and foremost of our Vedas (and the world's most ancient literature), hardly mentions Ganga and Yamuna rivers. Only late hymns mention Ganga with no more than two references to Ganga while Sindhu is mentioned more than thirty times. Thus the Sindhu River and the Sindhu region were very near to the hearts of the Rig Vedic poets. (This, as 'Return of the Aryans' explains, is said not in arrogance, for Sindhis too worship Ganga, but the fact is that the earliest songs of our civilization were naturally about their home-ground which began with the Sindh region, which was clearly the birth-place of Sanatana Dharma. Why the Rig Veda virtually ignores the Ganga is attributable to the fact that this most ancient literature in the world arose not in one single mighty sweep in the mind of a single author, but also included a compilation of some pre-ancient Memory songs, sung for thousands of years. The earliest Memory songs of the Hindus were naturally about their home ground, which began with the region of Sind, thence to Punjab, and thereafter to the region between the Sindhu and Saraswati rivers, which they regarded as the holiest of holy grounds – Brahmadesa.)
Bhagwan Gidwani's 'Return of the Aryans' explains a great deal about the association of Saraswati River with the Sindhu. The book has two long chapters, viz. Saraswati River and Saraswati & Soma which indicate the source and course of this auspicious river which flowed broad and strong in Rig Vedic times. The book shows how Saraswati, starting from Himalayas, almost parallel to the Ganga River, charts a different course, but meets the Ganga and Yamuna at Prayaga ( now, Allahabad). While Yamuna became one with Ganga, as they flowed united and strong to the Bay of Bengal, Saraswati rushed through to chart a separate course as though it had come simply to embrace the two rivers, and also to say farewell to them at the same time. Later Saraswati joined the Sindhu river well below the confluence of Sutlej, and united, they flowed to the Sindhu sea (now, called, the Arabian Sea). Saraswati is now no more, having lost itself in the desert of Rajasthan. Incidentally, the book indicates that the confluence at Prayag came to be known as Sangayam to represent the meeting of Saraswati (sa), Ganga (ga), and Yamuna (yam), though later the word is shortened to Sangam to apply to any confluence of rivers.
Sindhu- oldest name in World History - and World Geography
Sindhu is the oldest name not only in Indian history - and in Indian geography but in world history and world geography. Apart from being celebrated in Rig Veda, the world's most ancient literature, it is also quite clear that this is the great Sindhu that gave Sindh, Hind, Hindustan and even India -- their names and identity.
A great Trans-Himalayan river, Sindhu is one of the longest rivers in the world with an astonishing length of 2900 km. Rising in south-western Tibet, at an altitude of 16,000 feet, Sindhu enters the Indian Territory near Leh in Ladakh. Its total drainage area is about 4, 50,000 square miles, of which 1, 75,000 square miles, lie in the Himalayan mountains and foothills.
After flowing eleven miles beyond Leh, Sindhu is joined on the left by its first tributary, the Zanskar, which helps green the Zanskar Valley. Many fascinating mountain trails beckon the mountaineering enthusiasts to the Zanskar Valley. The Sindhu then flows past Batalik. The mighty Indus when it enters the plains is joined by its famous five tributaries - the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej - giving Punjab --- "Land of five rivers" --- its name.
The Rig Veda compares the sound of the flowing Sindhu to the roar of thunderstorm, indicating the sense of awe inspired by the river in the minds of Aryans. Later on, in the Vedic period, the word Sindhu came to denote the sea, from which the vastness of the river can be gauged.
In the Ramayana, Sindhu is seen to be given the title "Mahanadi", which means "the mighty river".
In the Mahabharat, the Sindhu is reverentially mentioned along with other two holy rivers, the Ganga and Saraswati.
References to the Sindhu are also seen in many ancient literary works like those of Kalidasa, Bana, Panini and the great Sanskrit poet Bhasa. The fame of the mighty Sindhu had spread even beyond the subcontinent and it found reflections in the literary works of the Greek and Roman empires.
Clearly, to change this most ancient name of SINDHU - the very first in world history and world geography (and certainly, the very first in India's history and adopt in its place, a name given to it by foreigners in modern times is to play foolishly with our heritage, tradition and history.
Ancient Glory & Greatness of Sindhu Valley
Mainly, “Return of the Aryans” is concerned with telling the story of the birth & beginning of Hinduism, along with the dramatic account of how Aryans originated from Sindh and the Indian subcontinent (and from nowhere else); their exploits and adventures in West Asia and Europe, including Iran, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Russian lands, Finland, Italy, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania & Baltic States and Germany; and finally their triumphal return to the home-town and heritage of Sindh & the Indian subcontinent. Even so, here are some of the main facts about ancient Sindhu Valley and the Sindhu River, emerging from the book:
1. BIRTH & beginning of Hinduism took place in Sindh, along Sindhu river, prior to 8,000 BC.
2. It was a man from Sindh who first uttered the auspicious 'OM' Mantra, and devised the salutation of NAMASTE, (to highlight "TAT TVAM ASI" - THAT THOU ART - or to acknowledge that “there is God in you, and to Him and to you we salute”).
3. Similarly, the 'SWASTIKA' seal & symbol was originated in Sindh to spread the message of 'Daya, Dana & Dharma' (Later, after the Aryan migration of the people of Sindh and the Indian subcontinent to Europe, 'SWASTIKA' came to be adopted in Europe, initially for auspicious purposes, though in the modern era, in the Nazi period, it was used for inauspicious, corrupt practices and racial hatred).
4. It was SINDHIS from SINDH who discovered the routes to Ganga, Madhya, Dravidian, Bangla, and other regions in 5,000 BC; and the civilizations of all these regions, then, came under spiritual guidance of SINDH, in a spirit of equality and mutual respect. All these regions joined together to form Bharat Varsha.
5. It was a man from Sindhu Valley - he was known as Sindhu Putra – who, 7,000 years ago, was acknowledged as MAHAPATI in GANGA region to indicate his spiritual supremacy over GANGAPATI (ruler of GANGA region). Sindhu Putra was also recognized as the PERIYAR (Supreme authority) in Dravidian regions. Everywhere else too, he was honored, with highest titles and respectful submission.
6. The ancient name of Bharat Varsha was given to Indian subcontinent to honor the memory of Bharat of Sindhu-Saraswati valley, who was the 19th Karkarta (supreme chief) of the Hindu clan in 5000 BC, long after he retired as a hermit at the age of sixty.
7. Sindhu Valley had profound influence on RIG VEDA, doctrines of KARMA; MOKSHA & AHIMSA; and also on the lofty ideals of Sanatana Dharma.
8. It was along Sindhu river, that the world's first written language or the script was evolved. They called it "the language that can be seen".
9. Sindhu Valley was one of the major home-grounds and cradle-grounds of Aryans when they left Indian subcontinent in 5000 BC, and returned back to their home-town and heritage of Sind. The exploits and adventures of Aryans of Sind can fill a thousand volumes. Unfortunately, the way our history is written, they occupy only a tiny place in our national memory.
10. It was in Sindhu Valley that the Song of the Hindu (SANATAN Dharma) was composed 7,000 years ago by Bharat, the 19th Karkarta (Elected Supreme Chief) of Hindu clan in Sindh from 5,106 BCE. (Bhagwan Gidwani in his “Return of the Aryans” presents the Song in his book in modern version by clarifying terms which may now appear obscure The term 'Hindu" is used instead of "Sanatana Dharma" which constitutes the very root of Hinduism). The Song celebrates the principle of ancient Indian culture of all-inclusiveness and excludes none from God's grace whatever their faith. Clearly, it says, "God's gracious purpose includes all human beings and all creation…for God is the Creator; and God is the Creation...” Thus all are blessed and whatever god you choose, he is that God and Dharma (Righteousness or good conduct) is His Will. To the present-day Indian, afflicted by misconceived idea of pacifisms and non-violence, the Song's message is clear that he “must remain strong and united, for he must know that not an external, outside force can ever crush him, except when he is divided and betrays his own...”
NOTE: The Song of the Hindu was presented by the American Institute of Sindhulogy (AIS) as a DVD with an introduction by 'Sindhu Ratan', Ram Jethmalani, former Minister of Law & Justice of India. Anyone desiring a copy of this cassette may please write to Dial Gidwani<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gidwani's Return of the Aryans has also many other gripping tales about Sindhu Valley and Sindhis - their battles and romance, adventures and exploits, valor and sacrifice, art and culture, well before the dawn of recorded history. It shows clearly :
That Sindh, along with Bharat Varsha, is the most ancient civilization in the world - more ancient than China, Japan, Mesopotamia, Iran and Egypt.
That Sindh and Bharat Varsha, were there before Rome was built, and before Jerusalem, Carthage, Greece, Damascus and Istanbul were founded.
When Europeans lived in caves, our people along Sindhu river had two-story houses of brick and stone, with drainage system, public parks, public baths, art-works, fountains and granaries along the banks of Sindhu, our Sindhi ancestors founded the ancient order of Sanatanah, before 8,000 BC, and from this root of Sanatanah sprang Sanatana Dharma - the ageless religion of the Hindus among ideals that took shape in those early times, to become the foundation of Sanatana Dharma, were: recognition of spiritual nature of man wherever he is from; acceptance of every culture as an expression of eternal values; and man's obligation to respect and protect environment, and all creatures, tame and wild.
NOTE: Clearly, Gidwani's 'Return of the Aryans' is not exclusively devoted to the glory and greatness of Sind. It presents also the story of India as a whole, and of the birth and beginnings of Hinduism. It speaks glowingly, lovingly of the Ganga, Madhya, Bangla, Dravidian and other civilizations of India as well - and shows that they too had much to teach, as also to learn from the people of Sindhu in regard to the marvels of irrigation, engineering skill, broad streets, well-built houses, elegant temples, chariots, drainage systems, granaries, boats, gardens, baths and fountains and more so, in the field of art, culture and aesthetics. Yet, the book sheds a true and glowing picture of the greatness and glory of the Sindhu civilization.
The question is: How can we be in such denial of our history, literature, heritage and tradition as to refer to Sindhu River and Sindhu Valley civilization to be miscalled by different names or by their Europeanized names given by foreigners in recent times?
Yet, surprisingly, there was recently an assault from Government of India on that score – not so much as to use the Europeanized names of Sindhu River and Sindhu Valley civilization but to change the very name of River Sindhu to River Singhe. This assault came from Renuka Chowdhuri, Minister of Tourism of Government of India who decided that the River Sindhu flowing in Ladakh should be known as River Singhe. Her argument was that the local Buddhist name of the Sindhu River is Singhe River and the River is known as Sindhu River “only in Pakistan”. The Minister therefore removed SINDHU word from the Sindhu Darshan program in which a large number of Sindhis used to visit the river in Ladakh and has renamed it as Singhe Darshan program.
The American Institute of Sindhulogy (AIS) based in United States made a strong protest against the decision of India's Minister of Tourism of Government of India. Dial Gidwani, the Founding President, called on Sindhi organizations to suspend their participation in the so called “Singhe” Darshan program. Travel and Tourist Agencies in USA were also similarly advised not to participate in the program which sought to eliminate the name of Sandhog and substitute it by Singe or any other name. There was tremendous support from all those who were so approached by the American Institute of Sindhulogy (AIS). In particular, Sindhis all over the world agreed with us that an effort is being made thoughtlessly by India's Minister of Tourism of Government of India to rob Sindhis of their memory, roots and heritage.
At the pressing request of the American Institute of Sindhulogy, Mr. Bhagwan S. Gidwani, prepared a detailed memorandum (Note: Bhagwan Gidwani, author of Return of the Aryans was formerly India's Director General of Civil Aviation and Additional Director General of Tourism & Representative of India at ICAO (United Nations) and at one time had also served as India's Counsel at the World Court at the Hague.) Gidwani expressed sorrow at the caliber of the Minister of Tourism who was referring to Sindhu as the river known only in Pakistan. According to Gidwani, this showed the Minister's ignorance not only of the very roots and heritage of India but of Vedic literature as well.
After quoting references from Vedas and other ancient literature, as also from modern history, Gidwani asked, how anyone can accept the assertion of the Tourism Minister that “the local Buddhist name of the River is Singhe River and the River is known as Sindhu River only in Pakistan”. Gidwani further stated that
The Tourism Minister lacks the legal and constitutional right to change the name of a river from the traditional name. I doubt if she has the right to change a street name or a house number. How does she think she can change the name of a river with such historic association, on an individual whim!
if it is not the Minister's individual whim, she must clearly explain where the inspiration comes from;
is she aware that by doing so she offends the feelings of the people of the land;
that she must produce authority for so doing and all correspondence of prior consultation she had in the matter;
That by her action she must confirm that she did not intend to fortify the petition in the Supreme Court regarding the deletion of Sindh from the National Anthem
That by her action she did not intend to negative Gurudev Rabindra Nath Tagore's song Jana Gana Mana which is the basis of the National Anthem and clearly, soulfully mentions Sindh(u);
That by her action, she did not intend to offend the feelings of the people originally from Sindh living in India
that she was not influenced in respect of this action by outside elements which for obvious reasons apparently wish to exclude 'Sindh' and 'Sindhu' from the 'dictionary' of India.
Bhagwan S. Gidwani further stated that Minister Renuka's action was arbitrary, illegal, and unconstitutional as also contrary to the interests of tourism and cannot stand the scrutiny of public opinion or a Court, where the matter must be taken if she does not readily cooperate.
The memorandum of Bhagwan S. Gidwani, was forwarded by AIS to Prime Minister of India and other personalities.
AIS also requested Sindhu Ratan Ram Jethmalani to have a legal notice issued to the Minister Renuka and Government of India in case the Minister does not immediately agree to revise her decision.
AIS received support from many individuals and organizations who also voiced their protests to Government of India. Faced with these protests and the warning of legal action by Shri Ram Jethmalani, fortunately, Renuka Chowdhuri, Minister of Tourism of Government of India, promptly withdrew her orders and the name of Sindhu remains unchanged.
THE QUESTION REMAINS
While Renuka Chowdhri, may have been ignorant of the roots of India's culture and our ancient literature, the unfortunate fact is that many throughout the world, though well versed in Indian lore and tradition, often, make the sad error of referring to Sindhu River and Sindhu Valley civilization as Indus, thus ignoring the original, ancient name and choosing the name given by foreigners in later times.
The Shakespearean rejoinder of “Whats in a name” is totally irrelevant in this regard.
The idea that it is fashionable to ape foreigners by adopting names given by them to Sindhu River and Sindhu Valley civilization is both illusory and misguided. Clearly, what it represents is a total and purposeless denial of what was said in Rg Veda and the rest of Vedas, in our epics of Ramayana and Mahabharta, in all our vedic literature including compositions of Kalidasa, Bana, Panini and poet Bhasa, in our legends & folklore and throughout our history, heritage, tradition and ethos.
One can possibly understand the limited and selective use of these foreign expressions where the audience is from other countries, unable to understand what Sindhu River and Sindhu Valley civilization denote. In such cases, the use of explanation in parenthesis or even by explanatory notes is advisable. But unduly extensive use of foreign names achieves nothing and represents simply an escape from our time-honored history and heritage.
Note: In submitting this note, I have made extensive references to Bhagwan S. Gidwani's masterly book, “Return of the Aryans”. This is so, as this is the only book in our literature which deals with pre-Vedic period of Indian History. All other books about India – be they by Indians or foreigners – deal with the post-Vedic era (Period long after the Vedas, Ramayana & Mahabharta were composed. Besides, apart from researching the prehistory period of prior to 8,000 BCE, Bhagwan Gidwani has also updated material from various sources regarding Sindhu-Saraswati and other Civilizations of India and to present the story of the birth and beginnings of Sanatana Dharma & Hinduism and the origin of Aryans along with the enthralling tales of Aryan adventures, courage, rashness, heroic thrusts, triumphs and failures, in various countries, such as Iran, Sumeria, Egypt, Russian lands & Scythia, Lithuania, Turkey, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Greece and Germany.