4 Roots of Hinduism in the
Ancient Cultures of India
Hinduism has been compared to a growing banyan tree; spreading its roots on the earth and sprouting up in many directions. In Hindu faith, there are no set parameters, no fixed rules, and no rigid schedules. Hinduism is a vastly liberal religion. In fact, it openly and fervently encourages and tolerates differences of opinion, use of discretion, and interpretation based on one’s own circumstances and perceptions. At the same time, there are some strong ethical principles and rituals that characterize this religion. The great Vedas and Upanishads affirm these principles in an organized compilation. Belief in the authority of these ancient scriptures is one of the chief prerequisites of Hinduism.
Although Hinduism recognizes the Vedic teachings as its basic principles, the roots of this religion go back a long way. The excavations of the Sindhu-Saraswati civilization (more commonly known as Harappan or Indus civilization) show evidence of the carvings of Shiva in his proto form as Pasupati, the lord of all animal kingdoms, and also in the yoga asana, or yoga positions. There are also carvings of exuberant feminine deities, which would later be known as various forms of the Mother Goddess, Shakti. The naked figurines, in meditative poses of the lotus position and standing kayotsarga (relaxation with self-awareness), are very similar to those later adopted by the Buddha and the Tirthankars (humans who achieve enlightenment) of the Jain religion. These carvings are said to point toward the concepts of God as prevalent in that period. Evidence suggests that the Saraswati and Sindhu (also known as the Indus) rivers originated at the end of the great Ice Age, about ten thousand years ago. It is believed that the colossal civilization along this verdant belt was more widely spread than the civilizations of Egypt or Greece. The Saraswati River ran parallel to the Sindhu River, about two hundred miles east of it. The huge mass of land between the two great rivers developed as the Sindhu-Saraswati civilization. Names of these two rivers are mentioned repeatedly—perhaps more frequently than other rivers—in the most ancient Hindu scripture, the Rig Veda. More than fifteen hundred cities developed on the banks of these two great rivers. Sindhu-Saraswati civilization is called the Harappan civilization after Harapa, the first of its sites excavated in 1920, followed by Mohenjo-Daro. Gujarat too shows large concentration of Harappan sites, which include the important excavations of Lothal and Dholavira. This great civilization came to end due to the gradual drying up of the Saraswati River because of some structural changes in the north at the Himalayas. New evidence with satellite imaging and limited excavation by a French team has revealed the course of the prehistoric Saraswati River, earlier mentioned in the Rig Veda. It was hitherto considered as myth only!
India, on the other hand, continued to march ahead and, in fact, remained the wealthiest country in the world until the seventeenth century, despite repeated invasions from outsiders, who plundered and looted her repeatedly.
The prehistoric ancient history of proto-Hindu religion is truly vibrant, with its origin dating back to over 10,000 years. Relics of the Sindhu-Saraswati (Harappan) civilization include many sculptures, terracotta seals, paintings etc., which would later mold the future religions of Indian origin such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Dravidian culture co-mingled with plenty of temple structures. From the very beginning, proof of Hinduism’s open-arm methodology has been found in the assimilation of concepts and designs. Indeed, Hinduism is a conglomeration of many ethnic and tribal sacred concepts, which blended and coalesced peacefully in search of the highest truths of the divinity