Parvati or Gauri is the Hindu goddess of fertility, beauty, marriage and devotion. Known by many other names, she is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Supreme Hindu goddess Adi Parashakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect, she is the Mother goddess in Hinduism, has many attributes and aspects. Each of her aspects is expressed with a different name, giving her over 100 names in regional Hindu stories of India. Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses. Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector, the destroyer and regenerator of the universe and all life, she is the daughter of the mountain king queen Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha, Ashokasundari; the Puranas referenced her to be the sister of the preserver god Vishnu. She is the divine energy between a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti, she is one of the five equivalent deities worshipped in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta Tradition of Hinduism.
With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha, she is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, her statues and iconography grace Hindu temples all over South Asia and Southeast Asia. Parvata is one of the Sanskrit words for "mountain". King Parvat is considered the personification of the Himalayas. Parvati is known by many names in Hindu literature. Other names which associate her with mountains are Shailaja, Adrija or Nagajaa or Shailaputri, Devi Maheshwari, Girija or Girirajaputri, she is called Narayani because she is the sister of Narayana. The Lalita sahasranama contains a listing of 1,000 names of Parvati. Two of Parvati's most famous epithets are Aparna; the name Uma is used for Sati in earlier texts, but in the Ramayana, it is used as a synonym for Parvati.
In the Harivamsa, Parvati is referred to as Aparna and addressed as Uma, dissuaded by her mother from severe austerity by saying u mā. She is Ambika, Mataji, Durga, Bhavani, Urvi or Renu, many hundreds of others. Parvati is the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi; the apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the golden one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama, as a calm and placid wife Parvati mentioned as Gauri and as a goddess who destroys evil she is Kali. Regional stories of Gauri suggest an alternate origin for Gauri's complexion. In parts of India, Gauri's skin color is golden or yellow in honor of her being the goddess of ripened corn/harvest and of fertility; the word Parvati does not explicitly appear in Vedic literature. Instead, Ambika and others are found in the Rigveda; the verse 3.12 of the Kena Upanishad dated to mid 1st millennium BCE contains a goddess called Uma-Haimavati, a common alternate name for Parvati. Sayana's commentary in Anuvaka, identifies Parvati in the Kena Upanishad, suggesting her to be the same as Uma and Ambika in the Upanishad, referring to Parvati is thus an embodiment of divine knowledge and the mother of the world.
She appears as essential power, of the Supreme Brahman. Her primary role is as a mediator who reveals the knowledge of Brahman to the Vedic trinity of Agni and Varuna, who were boasting about their recent defeat of a group of demons, but Kinsley notes: "it is little more than conjecture to identify her with the goddess Satī-Pārvatī, although texts that extol Śiva and Pārvatī retell the episode in such a way to leave no doubt that it was Śiva's spouse.." Sati-Parvati appears in the epic period, as both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata present Parvati as Shiva's wife. However, it is not until the plays of Kalidasa and the Puranas that the stories of Sati-Parvati and Shiva acquire more comprehensive details. Kinsley adds that Parvati may have emerged from legends of non-aryan goddesses that lived in mountains. While the word Uma appears in earlier Upanisads, Hopkins notes that the earliest known explicit use of the name Pārvatī occurs in late Hamsa Upanishad. Weber suggests that just like Shiva is a combination of various Vedic gods Rudra and Agni, Parvati in Puranas text is a combination of wives of Rudra and Agni.
In other words, the symbolism and characteristics of Parvati evolved over time fusing Uma, Ambika in one aspect and the more ferocious, destructive Kali, Nirriti in another aspect. Tate suggests Parvati is a mixture of the Vedic goddesses Aditi and Nirriti, being a mountain goddess herself, was associated with other mountain goddesses like Durga and Kali in traditions. Parvati, the gentle aspect of Devi Shakti, is represented as fair and benevolent, she wears a red dress (
Surya is a Sanskrit word that means the Sun. Synonyms of Surya in ancient Indian literature include Aditya, Bhanu, Pushan, Martanda and Vivasvan. Surya connotes the solar deity in Hinduism in the Saura tradition found in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. Surya is one of the five deities considered as equivalent aspects and means to realizing Brahman in the Smarta Tradition. Surya's iconography is depicted riding a chariot harnessed by horses seven in number which represent the seven colours of visible light, seven days in a week. In medieval Hinduism, Surya is an epithet for the major Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. In some ancient texts and arts, Surya is presented syncretically with Ganesha or others. Surya as a deity is found in the arts and literature of Buddhism and Jainism. Surya is one of the nine heavenly houses in the zodiac system of Hindu astrology. Surya or Ravi is the basis of Sunday, in the Hindu calendar. Major festivals and pilgrimages in reverence of Surya include Makar Sankranti, Ratha Sapthami, Chath puja and Kumbh Mela.
The oldest surviving Vedic hymns, such as the hymn 1.115 of the Rigveda, mention Sūrya with particular reverence for the "rising sun” and its symbolism as dispeller of darkness, one who empowers knowledge, the good and all life. However, the usage is context specific. In some hymns, the word Surya means sun as an inanimate object, a stone or a gem in the sky; the Vedas assert Sun to be the creator of the material universe. In the layers of Vedic texts, Surya is one of the several trinities along with Agni and either Vayu or Indra, which are presented as an equivalent icon and aspect of the Hindu metaphysical concept called the Brahman. In the Brahmanas layer of Vedic literature, Surya appears with Agni in the same hymns. Surya is revered for the day during the night; the idea evolves, states Kapila Vatsyayan, where Surya is stated to be Agni as the first principle and the seed of the universe. It is in the Brahmanas layer of the Vedas, the Upanishads that Surya is explicitly linked to the power of sight, to visual perception and knowledge.
He is interiorized to be the eye as ancient Hindu sages suggested abandonment of external rituals to gods in favor of internal reflections and meditation of gods within, in one's journey to realize the Atman within, in texts such as the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chandogya Upanishad, Kaushitaki Upanishad and others. The Mahabharata epic opens its chapter on Surya that reverentially calls him as the "eye of the universe, soul of all existence, origin of all life, goal of the Samkhyas and Yogis, symbolism for freedom and spiritual emancipation. In the Mahabharata, Karna is the son of unmarried princess Kunti; the epic describes Kunti's trauma as an unmarried mother abandonment of Karna, followed by her lifelong grief. Baby Karna is found and adopted by a charioteer but he grows up to become a great warrior and one of the central characters in the great battle of Kurukshetra where he fights his half brothers. Surya is celebrated as a deity such as the ancient works attributed to Ashoka, he appears in a relief at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya, riding in a chariot pulled by four horses, with Usha and Prattyusha on his sides.
Such artwork suggests that the Surya as symbolism for the victory of good over evil is a concept adopted in Buddhism from an earlier Indic tradition. Sun is a common deity in ancient and medieval cultures found in South America, Europe and Asia; the features and mythologies of Surya share resemblances with Hvare-khshaeta of pre-Islam Persia, the Helios-Sol deity in the Greek-Roman culture. Surya is a Vedic deity, states Elgood, but its deity status was strengthened from the contacts between ancient Persia and India during the Kushan era, as well as after the 8th-century when Sun-worshipping Parsees moved to India; some Greek features were incorporated into Surya iconography in post-Kushan era, around mid 1st millennium, according to Elgood. The iconography of Surya in Hinduism varies with its texts, he is shown as a resplendent standing person holding lotus flower in both his hands, riding a chariot pulled by one or more horses seven. The seven horses are named after the seven meters of Sanskrit prosody: Gayatri, Ushnih, Trishtubha and Pankti.
The Brihat Samhita, a Hindu text that describes architecture and design guidelines, states that Surya should be shown with two hands and wearing a crown. In contrast, the Vishnudharmottara, another Hindu text on architecture, states Surya iconography should show him with four hands, with flowers in two hands, a staff in third, in fourth he should be shown to be holding writing equipment, his chariot driver in both books is stated to be Aruṇa, seated. Two females flank him, who represent the dawn goddesses named Usha and Pratyusha; the goddesses are shown to be shooting arrows, a symbolism for their initiative to challenge darkness. The iconography of Surya has varied over time. In some ancient arts from the early centuries of the common era, his iconography is similar to those found in Persia and Greece suggesting adoption of Greek and Scythian influences. After the Greek and Kushan influences arrived in ancient India, some Surya icons of the period that followed show him wearing a cloak and high boots.
In some Buddhist artwork, his chariot is shown as being pulle
Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient, non-theistic, Indian religion. Followers of Jainism are called "Jains", a word derived from the Sanskrit word jina and connoting the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths through an ethical and spiritual life. Jains trace their history through a succession of 24 victorious saviours and teachers known as tirthankaras, with the first being Rishabhanatha, who according to Jain tradition lived millions of years ago, twenty-third being Parshvanatha in 8th century BC and twenty-fourth being the Mahāvīra around 500 BCE. Jains believe that Jainism is an eternal dharma with the tirthankaras guiding every cycle of the Jain cosmology; the main religious premises of Jainism are anekāntavāda, aparigraha and asceticism. Devout Jains take five main vows: ahiṃsā, asteya and aparigraha; these principles have impacted Jain culture in many ways, such as leading to a predominantly vegetarian lifestyle that avoids harm to animals and their life cycles.
Parasparopagraho Jīvānām is the motto of Jainism. Ṇamōkāra mantra is the most basic prayer in Jainism. Jainism has Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras; the Digambaras and Śvētāmbaras have different views on ascetic practices and which Jain texts can be considered canonical. Jain mendicants are found in all Jain sub-traditions except Kanji Panth sub-tradition, with laypersons supporting the mendicants' spiritual pursuits with resources. Jainism has between five million followers, with most Jains residing in India. Outside India, some of the largest Jain communities are present in Canada, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Suriname and the United States. Major Jain festivals include Paryushana and Daslakshana, Mahavir Jayanti, Diwali; the principle of ahimsa is a fundamental tenet of Jainism. It believes that one must abandon all violent activity, without such a commitment to non-violence all religious behavior is worthless. In Jain theology, it does not matter how correct or defensible the violence may be, one must not kill any being, "non-violence is one's highest religious duty".
Jain texts such as Acaranga Sūtra and Tattvarthasūtra state that one must renounce all killing of living beings, whether tiny or large, movable or immovable. Its theology teaches that one must neither kill another living being, nor cause another to kill, nor consent to any killing directly or indirectly. Furthermore, Jainism emphasizes non-violence against all beings not only in action but in speech and in thought, it states that instead of hate or violence against anyone, "all living creatures must help each other". Violence negatively affects and destroys one's soul when the violence is done with intent, hate or carelessness, or when one indirectly causes or consents to the killing of a human or non-human living being; the idea of reverence for non-violence is founded in Hindu and Buddhist canonical texts, it may have origins in more ancient Brahmanical Vedic thoughts. However, no other Indian religion has developed the non-violence doctrine and its implications on everyday life as has Jainism.
The theological basis of non-violence as the highest religious duty has been interpreted by some Jain scholars not to "be driven by merit from giving or compassion to other creatures, nor a duty to rescue all creatures", but resulting from "continual self-discipline", a cleansing of the soul that leads to one's own spiritual development which affects one's salvation and release from rebirths. Causing injury to any being in any form creates bad karma which affects one's rebirth, future well being and suffering. Late medieval Jain scholars re-examined the Ahiṃsā doctrine when one is faced with external threat or violence. For example, they justified violence by monks to protect nuns. According to Dundas, the Jain scholar Jinadatta Suri wrote during a time of Muslim destruction of temples and persecution that "anybody engaged in a religious activity, forced to fight and kill somebody would not lose any spiritual merit but instead attain deliverance". However, such examples in Jain texts that condone fighting and killing under certain circumstances are rare.
The second main principle of Jainism is anekāntavāda or anekantatva, a word derived from anekānta and vada. The anekāntavāda doctrine states that reality is complex and always has multiple aspects. Reality can be experienced, but it is not possible to express it with language. Human attempts to communicate is Naya, explained as "partial expression of the truth". Language is not Truth. From Truth, according to Mahāvīra, language returns and not the other way round. One can experience the truth of a taste, but cannot express that taste through language. Any attempts to express the experience is syāt, or valid "in some respect" but it remains a "perhaps, just one perspective, incomplete". In the same way, spiritual truths are complex, they have multiple aspects, language cannot express their plurality, yet through effort and appropriate karma they can be experienced. Since reality is many-sided the great error, according to Jainism, is ekānta where some relative truth is treated as an absolute truth to the exclusion of others.
The anekāntavāda premise of the Jains is ancient, as evidenced by its mention in Buddhist texts such as the Samaññapha
Brahma is a creator god in Hinduism. He is known as Svayambhu or the creative aspect of Vishnu, Vāgīśa, the creator of the four Vedas, one from each of his mouths. Brahma is consort of Saraswati and he is the father of Four Kumaras, Daksha and many more. Brahma is sometimes identified with the Vedic god Prajapati, he is known as Vedanatha, Chaturmukha Svayambhu, etc, as well as linked to Kama and Hiranyagarbha, he is more prominently mentioned in the mythologies in the Puranas. In the epics, he is conflated with Purusha. Although, Brahma is part of the Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva Trimurti, ancient Hindu scriptures mention multiple other trinities of gods or goddesses which do not include Brahma. Several Puranas describe him as emerging from a lotus, connected to the navel of Lord Vishnu. Other Puranas suggest that he is born from Shiva or his aspects, or he is a supreme god in diverse versions of Hindu mythology. Brahma, along with other deities, is sometimes viewed as a form of the otherwise formless Brahman, the ultimate metaphysical reality in Vedantic Hinduism.
In an alternate version, some Puranas state him to be the father of Prajapatis. According to some, Brahma does not enjoy popular worship in present-age Hinduism and has lesser importance than the other members of the Trimurti and Shiva. Brahma is revered in ancient texts, yet worshiped as a primary deity in India. Few temples dedicated to him exist in India. Brahma temples are found outside India, such as at the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok; the origins of Brahma are uncertain, in part because several related words such as one for Ultimate Reality, priest are found in the Vedic literature. The existence of a distinct deity named. A distinction between spiritual concept of Brahman, deity Brahma, is that the former is a genderless abstract metaphysical concept in Hinduism, while the latter is one of the many masculine gods in Hindu tradition; the spiritual concept of Brahman is far older, some scholars suggest deity Brahma may have emerged as a personal conception and visible icon of the impersonal universal principle called Brahman.
In Sanskrit grammar, the noun stem. Contrasted to the neuter noun is the masculine noun brahmán, whose nominative singular form is Brahma; this singular form is used as the proper name of Brahma. One of the earliest mentions of Brahma with Vishnu and Shiva is in the fifth Prapathaka of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad composed in late 1st millennium BCE. Brahma is first discussed in verse 5,1 called the Kutsayana Hymn, expounded in verse 5,2. In the pantheistic Kutsayana Hymn, the Upanishad asserts that one's Soul is Brahman, this Ultimate Reality, Cosmic Universal or God is within each living being, it equates the Atman within to be Brahma and various alternate manifestations of Brahman, as follows, "Thou art Brahma, thou art Vishnu, thou art Rudra, thou art Agni, Vayu, thou art All."In the verse, Brahma and Shiva are mapped into the theory of Guṇa, qualities and innate tendencies the text describes can be found in all living beings. This chapter of the Maitri Upanishad asserts that the universe emerged from darkness, first as passion characterized by action qua action, which refined and differentiated into purity and goodness.
Of these three qualities, Rajas is mapped to Brahma, as follows: While the Maitri Upanishad maps Brahma with one of the elements of Guṇa theory of Hinduism, the text does not depict him as one of the trifunctional elements of the Hindu Trimurti idea found in Puranic literature. The post-Vedic texts of Hinduism offer multiple theories of cosmogony; these include Sarga and Visarga, ideas related to the Indian thought that there are two levels of reality, one primary, unchanging and other secondary, always changing, that all observed reality of the latter is in an endless repeating cycle of existence, that cosmos and life we experience is continually created, dissolved and re-created. The primary creator is extensively discussed in Vedic cosmogonies with Brahman or Purusha or Devi among the terms used for the primary creator, while the Vedic and post-Vedic texts name different gods and goddesses as secondary creators, in some cases a different god or goddess is the secondary creator at the start of each cosmic cycle.
Brahma is a "secondary creator" as described in the Mahabharata and Puranas, among the most studied and described. Born from a lotus emerging from the navel of Vishnu after emerging on order of Shiva, Brahma creates all the forms in the universe, but not the primordial universe itself. In contrast, the Shiva-focussed Puranas describe Brahma and Vishnu to have been created by Ardhanarishvara, half Shiva and half Parvati, thus in most Puranic texts, Brahma's creative activity depends on the presence and power of a higher god. In the Bhagavata Purana, Brahma is portrayed several times as the one who rises from the "Ocean of Causes
A deula is an element in a Hindu temple in the local style of Odisha temple in Eastern India. Sometimes the whole temple is called Deula; the word "deula" in Oriya language means a building structure built with a particular style, seen in most of the temples from Odisha. "Deul" is used in English, though deul temples are a form in Bengal. There are three types of Deulas: In terms of the general north Indian terminology, the Rekha Deula is the sanctuary and the tower over it the garbhagriha and the shikhara, the Pidha Deula is the mandapa where the faithful are present; the Khakhara deula is an alternative form of tower over the sanctuary, which in shape resembles the oblong gopuram temple gatehouses in southern Dravidian architecture. Rekha in Oriya means a straight line, it is a tall building with a shape of sugar loaf, looking like a Shikhara. It protects the sanctum sanctorum. Examples: The Shikhara of the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar The Shikhara of the Jagannath temple in Puri. Jagannath Temple in Nayagarh, Orissa Uttaresvara Siva Temple in Bhubaneswar The Shikhara of Yameshwar Temple in Bhubaneswar It is a square building with a pyramid-shaped roof, rather like the vimana towers over the sanctuaries of temples in southern Dravidian architecture.
For the halls or service rooms of the temple. Examples The jaga mohan of the Sun temple in Konârak The jaga mohan of Yameshwar Temple in Bhubaneswar Digambara Jaina Temple, Khandagiri in Bhubaneswar Khakara deula is a rectangular building with a truncated pyramid-shaped roof, like the gopuras; the name comes from Khakharu because of the shape of the roof. The temples of the feminine deities as Shakti are temple of that type. Examples: Baitala Deula, Bhubaneswar Varahi Deula, Puri district Brahmi temple, Chaurasi Kedar Gouri, Bhubaneswar Narayani Temple, Khalikote Durga Temple, Banki http://orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/Orissareview/nov2005/engpdf/Orissan_Temple_Architecture.pdf http://www.indoarch.org/arch_glossary.php
Culture of Odisha
Odisha is one of the 29 states of India, located in the eastern coast. It is surrounded by the states of West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to the south and south-west. Odia is the official and most spoken language, spoken by 33.2 million according to the 2001 Census. The modern state of Odisha was established on 1 April 1936, as a province in British India, consisted predominantly of Odia-speaking regions. April 1 is celebrated as Odisha Day. Other cultural attractions include the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, known for its annual Rath Yatra or Car Festival, the unique and beautiful appliqué artwork of Pipili, silver filigree ornamental works from Cuttack, tala chitra, famous stone utensils of Nilgiri and various tribal influenced cultures; the Sun Temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendour while the Sambalpuri textiles equals it in its artistic grandeur. Sand sculpture is practised on the beaches at Puri.
Fine-grained sand is shaped by the fingers. Odishan legend says that "Poet Balarama Dasa, the author of Dandi Ramayana, was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. Once during Ratha Yatra, he tried to climb the chariot of Lord Jagannath to offer his prayer. Since he wasn't allowed by the priests of the chariot to climb it and insulted by them. With a great frustration and humiliation he came to the beach and carved the statues of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on the Golden sand." In its long history, Odisha has had a continuous tradition of dharmic religions Hinduism and Jainism. Ashoka's conquest of Kalinga made Buddhism a principal religion in the state which led to establishment of numerous Stupas and buddhist learning centres. During Kharavela's reign Jainism found prominence. However, by middle of 9th century CE there was a revival of Hinduism as attested by numerous temples such as Mukteshwara, Lingaraja and Konark, which were erected starting from the late 7th century CE.
Part of the revival in Hinduism was due to Adi Shankaracharya who proclaimed Puri to be one of the four holiest places or Char Dham for Hinduism. Odisha has therefore a syncretic mixture of the three dharmic religions as attested by the fact that the Jagannath Temple in Puri is considered to be holy by Hindus and Jains. Presently, the majority of people in the state of Odisha are Hindus; as per the census of 2001, Odisha is the third largest Hindu populated state in the country as illustrated in the 2001 census table and in this table. However, while Odisha is predominantly Hindu it is not monolithic; the state has a Christian and Muslim minority. There is a rich cultural heritage in the state owing to Hindu faith. For example, Odisha is home to several Hindu saints. Sant Bhima Bhoi was a leader of the Mahima sect movement, Sarala Dasa, was the translator of the epic Mahabharata in Odia, Chaitanya Dasa was a Buddhistic-Vaishnava and writer of the Nirguna Mahatmya, Jayadeva was the author of the Gita Govinda and is recognized by the Sikhs as one of their most important bhagats.
Swami Laxmananda Saraswati is a modern-day Hindu saint of Adivasi heritage. The official language of the state, spoken by the majority of the people is Odia. Odia belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family, is related to Bengali and Assamese; the tribal people or Adivasis of Odisha speak their own languages belonging to the Dravidian and Munda language families. The history of Odia literature has been mapped by historians along the following stages, Old Odia, Early Middle Odia, Middle Odia, Late Middle Odia and Modern Odia, but this crude categorization could not skillfully draw the real picture on account of development and growth of Odia literature. Here, we split the total periods in different stages such as: Age of Charya Literature, Age of Sarala Das, Age of Panchasakha, Age of Upendra Bhanja, Age of Radhanath, Age of Satyabadi, Age of Marxism or Pragati yuga, Age of Romanticism or Sabuja Yuga, Post Independent Age; the beginnings of Odia poetry coincide with the development of Charya Sahitya, the literature thus started by Mahayana Buddhist poets.
This literature was written in a specific metaphor named "Sandhya Bhasha" and the poets like Luipa, Kanhupa are from the territory of Odisha. The language of Charya was considered as Prakrita; the first great poet of Odisha is the famous Sarala Das who wrote the Mahabharata, not an exact translation from the Sanskrit original, but a full-blown independent work. Sarala Mahabharat has 152,000 verses compared to 100,000 in the Sanskrit version. Among many of his poems and epics, he is best remembered for his Sarala Mahabharata. Chandi Purana and the Vilanka Ramayana are two of his famous creations. Arjuna Das, a contemporary to Sarala Das, wrote a significant long poem in Odia. Towards the 16th century, five poets emerged, but they are known as Panchashakhas as they believed in the same school of thought, Utkaliya Vaishnavism. The poets are: Jagannatha Dasa, Achyutananada Dasa, Ananta Dasa and Jasobanta Das; the Panchasakhas are much Vaishnavas by thought. In 1509, Chaitanya, an Odia devotee of Vishnu whose grandfather Madhukar Mishra had emigrated to Bengal, came to Odisha with his Vaishnava message of love.
Before him Jayadeva, one of the foremost composers in Sanskrit, had prepared the ground by heralding the cult of Vaishnavism through his Gita Govinda. Chaitanya’s pat
Indus Valley Civilisation
The Indus Valley Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of the Indian subcontinent, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, in mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilisations of the region comprising North Africa, West Asia and South Asia, of the three, the most widespread, its sites spanning an area stretching from northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, into western- and northwestern India, it flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, along a system of perennial monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, new techniques in handicraft and metallurgy; the large cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, the civilisation itself during its florescence may have contained between one and five million individuals.
Gradual drying of the region's soil during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but also reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation's demise, to scatter its population eastward. The Indus civilisation is known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, the first of its sites to be excavated early in the 20th century in what was the Punjab province of British India and now is Pakistan; the discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-Daro was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India during the British Raj. There were however earlier and cultures called Early Harappan and Late Harappan in the same area. By 2002, over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements had been reported, of which just under a hundred had been excavated, there are only five major urban sites: Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Ganeriwala in Cholistan and Rakhigarhi; the early Harappan cultures were preceded by local Neolithic agricultural villages, from which the river plains were populated.
The Harappan language is not directly attested, its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered. A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language family is favoured by a section of scholars; the Indus Valley Civilisation is named after the Indus river system in whose alluvial plains the early sites of the civilisation were identified and excavated. Following a tradition in archaeology, the civilisation is sometimes referred to as the Harappan, after its type site, the first site to be excavated in the 1920s. A section of scholars use the terms "Sarasvati culture", the "Sarasvati Civilisation", the "Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation" or the "Sindhu-Saraswati Civilisation", because they consider the Ghaggar-Hakra river to be the same as the Sarasvati, a river mentioned several times in the Rig Veda, a collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns composed in the second millennium BCE. However, recent geophysical research suggests that unlike the Sarasvati, whose descriptions in the Rig Veda are those of a snow-fed river, the Ghaggar-Hakra was a system of perennial monsoon-fed rivers, which became seasonal around the time that the civilisation diminished 4,000 years ago.
In addition, proponents of the Sarasvati nomenclature see a connection between the decline of the Indus civilisation and the rise of the Vedic civilisation on the Gangetic plain. The Indus civilization was contemporary with the other riverine civilisations of the ancient world: Egypt along the Nile, Mesopotamia in the lands watered by the Euphrates and the Tigris, China in the drainage basin of the Yellow River. By the time of its mature phase, the civilisation had spread over an area larger than the others, which included a core of 1,500 km up the alluvial plane of the Indus and its tributaries. In addition, there was a region with disparate flora and habitats, up to ten times as large, shaped culturally and economically by the Indus. Around 6500 BCE, agriculture emerged on the margins of the Indus alluvium. In the following millennia, settled life made inroads into the Indus plains, setting the stage for the growth of rural and urban human settlements; the more organized sedentary life in turn led to a net increase in the birth rate.
The large urban centres of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, during the civilization's florescence, the population of the subcontinent grew to between 4–6 million people. During this period the death rate increased as well, for close living conditions of humans and domesticated animals led to an increase in contagious diseases. According to one estimate, the population of the Indus civilization at its peak may have been between one and five million; the Indus Valley Civilisation extended from Pakistan's Balochistan in the west to India's western Uttar Pradesh in the east, from northeastern Afghanistan in the north to India's Gujarat state in the south. The largest number