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Vishnu Seal in Indus Valley Civilization

By S Swaminathan

The Dilmun Bahrain Seal

The Dilmun-Bahrain Seal

From the very beginning the westerners who excavated the Indus valley civilization misled the general public by attributing their personal opinions to the seals and objects. Because of their misleading interpretations, we couldn’t decipher the Indus script till today. They put forth some divisive theories such as Aryan Invasion theory. The Aryan –Dravidian theory was   rejected by Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and the great Harijan leader Dr B.R Ambedkar. The other prominent people who rejected the Aryan invasion theory include Kanchi Sankaracharya Swami Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathy and Sri Aurobindo.  When the foreigners saw the so called Pasupathy seal they jumped to conclusion that the Indus people were Shaivaites. They never got of this grew and started inventing ‘Lingam’ and ‘Yoni’ in other objects


The Indus seal with a figure (god) surrounded by animals was interpreted as Lord Shiva or Proto Shiva (please see the picture). It is true that Shiva was called Pasupathy meaning Lord of the animals. But we could not read the words Shiva or Pasupathy on the seal. What is written on the seals remains a mystery till today. The day the seals are deciphered to the satisfaction of world scholars, most of the Indian History books will be thrown in to Indian Ocean and a new chapter will be written in Indian history.
The godly figure surrounded by the animals can be interpreted as Vishnu or any god. We have found seals of gods surrounded with animals even in the Middle East and Denmark. It was common in many ancient cultures (Please see the pictures of Gundestrup cauldron and the Middle Eastern god).

The Gundestrup Cauldron

Indus god has crowns made by horns. In Sanskrit and Tamil, a horned person means a great person. Tamils have a saying ‘Are you a big Komban (horned person) to expect a royal treatment?’ (Tamil: Nee Enna Periya Kombano?). Sanskrit poets also have used this expression. They call horned person as a Sringan. The greatest of the Indian poets Kalidasa even plays pun on this word in his Raghuvamsa Kavya. Kings are described as Veerya Sringan. (Komban in Tamil has another meaning i.e. a single male elephant with big tusks).
Vishnu  Sahasra Namam ( 1008 names of Lord Vishnu) describes Lord Vishnu as Maha Sringan (Name 536) meaning the great horned one.  Adi Sankara commenting on this word quotes another name from Rik Veda  4.38.3 and Taitriya Aranyaka 1.10.17 which describe god as ‘Chathwari Sringa: ‘meaning a person with four horns. Name 139 ‘Chathur Dhamstraya’ means four horns or one who with four teeth. Adi Sankara mentions both in his commentary.
In another place in the Sahasranama (1008 names) Vishnu is described as god with more than one horn ( Name 763 ‘Na Eka sringaya ‘meaning not with one horn).
One who looks at the Indus god with horns after reading Kalidasa, Rik Veda and Vishnu Sahasra Nama along with the Tamil saying ‘Nee Enna Periya kombano’ can’t but think of Lord Vishnu.  The figure of an Irish God and the Middle Eastern God were also surrounded by the animals. No one had commented upon them as Shiva!
Indus Fish symbol and Vishnu
Another interesting coincidence is ‘Vishnu Sahasra nama ‘ describes Vishnu as a Red Colour Fish –‘Rohithaya’ (name 364). More over Lord Vishnu’s first incarnation was a Fish ( Matsya Avatar) and many Indus scholars agree that the Indus fish symbol denotes god.
Interestingly the peepal leaf (Arasa Maram in Tamil,Aswatha in Sanskrit, Ficus Indica in Latin) is drawn on many seals and objects in the Indus valley. This tree is worshipped by the Hindus for thousands of years. In Tamilnadu most of the Ganesh temples are under the Peepal tree (arasa maram). Vishnu Sahasranama associates Lord Vishnu with three trees and one of them is Aswatham (name 824 ‘Aswathaya Nama:).
In the Viswarupa Darshan chapter of Bagawat Gita, Lord Krishna says that he is Surabhi among the cows, Lion among the animals, Airavatam among the elephants, Uchairsravas among the horses, Garuda/eagle among the birds and shark among the fishes. Among the Avatars, fish, tortoise, pig and goose (Hamsa) figure. This proves the link between the animals and Lord Vishnu.
In conclusion we see Lord Vishnu in the Fish symbol, in the tree symbol and in the animal seal symbol of Indus valley.
How many horned Gods are in Indus?
My study shows there are at least three different horned gods in the Indus valley. Apart from the ‘pasupathi seal’ there are other seals where the gods or the godly men sit in yogic posture. Their horns are different. We have to study them closely to identify them. The writing on the seals is also different. May be they are different gods. The fish symbols in all the three seals also differ in one or two details.
Vishnu Sahasranama in Cankam Literature
Tamil Cankam (also spelled Sangam) literature mentions Hindu Gods and the Vedas in hundreds of places. The oldest Tamil book Tolkappiyam even mentions Indra and Varuna as gods of the Tamil lands. (Ref. ‘Mayon meya kadurai ulakamaum———-‘).
Vendhan (Indra) is the god of Marutham and Varunan is the god of NeithalMarutham is cultivated field and its surrounding areas and Neithal means sea and its surrounding areas.
Old Tamil scholars have already pointed out that Natrinai,one of the Tamil anthologies of Cankam period has a verbatim translation of a Vishnu Sahasranama sloka. The Sahasranama dyana sloka starting ‘’bu padau yasya nabir————‘’ compares Lord Vishnu to earth and the heavenly objects. The same lines appear in the prayer song of Natrinai starting with ‘’Maanilam sevadiyaaka——————–‘’.Both describe sun and moon as the eyes of Lord Vishnu. The Natrinai prayer song was composed by Bharatham paadiya perunthevanaar.
Pictures sourced from Wikipedia.
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