Monday, December 14, 2015

~5000 years old oldest Smart city of World--Harappa, Lothal

The Indus Valley lay forgotten and undiscovered for thousands of years.
In 1826, a British traveller in India called Charles Masson came across some mysterious brick mounds. He thought they looked like old castles, but didn't know who built them.
Thirty years later, in 1856, engineers building a railway found more bricks. They carted them off and continued to build the railway. These bricks were the first evidence of the lost Indus city of Harappa.

In the 1920s, archaeologists began to excavate the sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. They had uncovered the remains of two long-forgotten cities and found the Indus Valley civilization.Cities of the Indus valley
Find out more about some of the cities in the Indus Valley

Around 4,500 years ago, Harappa was one of the busiest cities in the Indus Valley.
The city was laid out in blocks, with some areas surrounded by strong walls.
There were public wells, which people might have used to wash their clothes, and sewers which carried the waste water away to nearby fields.
There were also workshops where beads, shells and stone tools have been found.
Kalibangan means 'black bangles', after the large number of terracotta bracelets found at the site.
farmer ploughingArchaeologists have also found what they think might be the oldest evidence of a ploughed field here.
The ancient Indus farmers would have probably used oxen to pull a plough, before sowing seeds for their crops. Around 5,000 years later, some people in the Indus Valley are still farming in this way!

Lothal was an important port city. From here, trading ships set sail to other Indus cities and parts of Asia and Africa.
Lothal portThe people of Lothal were skilled craftworkers. They made pottery, including beautiful jars decorated with bulls, horses and birds. They also made intricate jewellery from gold, ivory and gemstone beads.
They used copper to make ornaments of animals, as well as tools, arrowheads and fish hooks.

Mohenjo-Daro was once a busy, bustling city, home to around 35,000 people.
Streets were laid out in a grid, with different areas for rich and poor people. The houses were made from clay bricks and some were two storeys tall.
Great bathArchaeologists have discovered a 'Great Bath' in Mohenjo-Daro. It looks like a swimming pool, but may have been a temple where priests and rulers bathed in religious ceremonies.

Mohenjo-Daro was once a busy, bustling city, home to around 35,000 people.

There were more than 1,400 towns and cities in the Indus Valley. The biggest were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Around 80,000 people lived in these cities.
The names Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were given to the cities in later times. We do not know what the Indus people called their cities, because nobody has been able to translate their ancient language.
The Indus river begins high up in the Himalayan mountains (the tallest mountain range in the world), and flows nearly 3,000 kilometres to the Arabian Sea. As the river moves downstream it carves out a valley. This is where the Indus people settled.

The first farmers liked living near the river because it kept the land green and fertile for growing crops. These farmers lived together in villages which grew over time into large ancient cities, like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
An aerial photographof the Indus river and mountains.
The Indus is the longest river in Pakistan, it's over 3,000 kilometers long

The Indus people needed river water to drink, wash and to irrigate their fields. They may also have used water in religious ceremonies. To the Indus people, their river was  ‘The King River’.

Indus traders weighed their goods on scales, using stone weights. The scale pans here are made of copper.
Weighing scale was discovered first time in world in India-

Indus Valley trade?

Indus Valley cities lived by trade. Farmers brought food into the cities. City workers made such things as pots, beads and cotton cloth. Traders brought the materials workers needed, and took away finished goods to trade in other cities.
Trade goods included terracotta pots, beads, gold and silver, coloured gem stones such as turquoise and lapis lazuli, metals, flints (for making stone tools), seashells and pearls.
Minerals came from Iran and Afghanistan. Lead and copper came from India. Jade came from China and cedar tree wood was floated down the rivers from Kashmir and the Himalayas

Measuring weight
Sargon of Akkad was a king in Mesopotamia, an ancient civilisation which the Indus people traded with.

Indus Valley traders did not use money. So they probably exchanged goods - say, swapping two sacks of wheat for one basket of minerals.
The traders weighed their goods on balance scales, using stone cubes as weights.
The weights were made from cubes of a flinty rock called grey chert. The smallest cube was very light, weighing less than 1 gram! The heaviest was over 11 kilograms - a bit more than 4 bags of supermarket potatoes.

Writing on baked seals?-way of paying tax.

In 1872, archaeologist Alexander Cunningham was puzzled by a flat piece of stone from Harappa which had writing on it. It was a seal. Another archaeologist, Rakhal Banerji found more seals in 1919.
Over 3,500 seals have now been found. Most are square or oblong, and small, about 25 mm across. They are made from steatite or faience, usually baked hard. Each seal has a picture and writing on it, carved with a copper tool.
Pressed into soft clay, a seal left an impression (a copy of the picture and writing). When the clay dried hard, it could be used as a tag which could then be tied to a pot or basket.
Indus Valley traders probably used seals like labels, to show who owned a sack of grain, or that the correct city tax had been paid.

This strange animal with one horn is called a unicorn. Above it is some Indus writing.

Seal animals

Many seals have pictures of animals on them. Animals on seals include elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, fish-eating crocodiles (gharial) and zebu (humped cattle).
The most commonly pictured animal on Indus seals is a 'unicorn'. In ancient stories, the unicorn was a mythical beast, usually looking like a horse, with one horn.
Some people think the Indus Valley 'unicorn' is really a cow sideways-on. It may have been a 'good luck' charm, or the badge of an important group of traders.

This Indus seal shows an animal with three heads: bull, unicorn and antelope.

Traders' travels

Indus Valley traders crossed mountains and forests. They followed rivers walking along the river bank. They also used boats. In a boat, it was easier and quicker going downstream (the same direction as the river was flowing).
Some traders carried goods on their backs. Others drove wooden carts pulled by bullocks. Archaeologists have found clay models of carts, which look like the bullock-carts still seen in India and Pakistan today.
Traders probably journeyed in groups. At night they made camp, or slept in roadside hotels. Sometimes it was safer to travel in groups, for protection against robbers or hungry tigers.
Some traders settled in other lands. Traders from another civilisation called Mesopotamia made their homes in Indus cities, and people from the Indus Valley went to live in cities in Mesopotamia.

Indus Valley boats

A picture on one seal shows an Indus Valley boat with raised ends (prow and stern), a rolled-up sail, and a square cabin. A man at the stern (back) has a long oar, possibly to steer. A flat-bottomed boat could travel in shallow water. It could be pushed by a pole, by paddles, or by the wind in its sail. Bigger boats went out to sea.
Boats in ancient times were made of wood, or bundles of reeds. Modern experiments have proved that even reed boats could cross oceans. Boats like ancient Indus Valley craft are still used in India, Pakistan and in the Arabian Gulf

An Indus river boat, shown on a seal. You can see its raised ends, a cabin, and a steersman using long oars.

Trade with Mesopotamia

Sargon of Akkad (2334 to 2279 BC) was a king in Mesopotamia. This was one of the first ancient civilisations. We know Indus Valley traders went there, because Indus seals have been found in Mesopotamia.
Indus potters made plain everyday pots, and fine decorated pots like this one.
Sargon's scribes kept written records of ships from other lands. So we learn that the Mesopotamians bought gold, copper and jewellery from 'Meluhha'. Was Meluhha the Mesopotamian name for the Indus civilisation? Or was it the Indus Valley people's own name for their land?
To reach Mesopotamia, Indus ships sailed west. They probably kept close to land. Bits of old Indus pottery found on beaches in Oman, in the Gulf, came from storage jars left behind by traders.

The rhino pictured on this Indus seal is an Indian rhinoceros, a different species from the rhinos that live in Africa.

Lothal , near Gujrat, a part of industrial town of Indus Valley civilization- was famous for making beads.
This bracelet is made from polished stones. Jewel-stones were brought from mines in the mountains by traders.

Town planning

The Indus cities were neatly planned. They had straight roads which criss-crossed in a grid pattern to form city blocks.
The ruins of an ancient Indus city street.
This photo of a street at Mohenjo-Daro shows how high
the walls were either side of the street
The main streets were almost 10 metres wide - wide enough for two bullock carts or elephants to pass each other. Drains ran along the edge of the streets to carry rubbish away and wells were dug for clean water.
Some cities, like Mohenjo-Daro, had high walls. These walls had gateways so people could come and go. Some city districts inside were raised on mounds. The highest mound was known as the citadel, which might have been where the priests or rulers lived.
Most Indus buildings were made from mud bricks. Over time, people built new houses on top of old ones. So, over hundreds of years, the cities grew higher and higher. Some houses were seven metres above the old houses at the bottom!  

What can we learn from Indus Valley writing?

The Indus people wrote on soft clay using pointed sticks or by scratching marks onto stone and metal.
People wrote the first line from right to left, the second line from left to right, and so on.

What can we learn about the writing that was left behind? Well, not very much. Indus Valley writing used at least 400 picture-signs - they were not letters like in our alphabet. But the longest bit of writing found has only 26 characters.

Seals from the Indus Valley
These seals with writing on were found in the city of Mohenjo-Daro.

No one knows what language the Indus people spoke, and no one has yet been able to read their writing.
Some experts think the Indus language may have been similar to Tamil, which is spoken today by people in southern India and Sri Lanka.

Pictures on seals and other artefacts show what look like figures of gods. But we don't know what the Indus people called them.
One looks like a mother goddess. People might have believed this goddess gave health and fertility to people, animals and plants.
Plants, trees and animals were probably important to Indus people. The pipal or fig tree is shown on many seals, and is still a sacred tree for many Buddhists and Hindus.
Hinduism also places importance on ritual bathing. Many people believe the 'great bath' found in Mohenjo-Daro suggests the Indus people held similar beliefs about purity.
Some people think that the Indus religion shaped early Hindu beliefs.

An Indus seal with a three-headed figure
The figure on this seal is probably an Shiva god. He has three faces, a horned headdress, and lots of arm-bangles.

Source - bbc

BBC World history

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


In the Rig Veda there are 5 hymns constituting an important dialogue between Lord Indra and Sage Agastya that reflects the significance of traversing the evolutionary path of consciousness, that seems to serve as a crucial pre-requisite to understanding the true nature of the Supreme Absolute Reality (God).
The verses exemplify how sage Agastya, by the sheer force of his thoughts is breaking through the barriers of his mind, reaching the realm of God without first being developed as a fully functional being in all his levels of consciousness.
The eagerness to experience God gets the better of sage Agastya and his senses and he refuses to progressively surrender to the stepping stone (which in this case refers to Lord Indra) in his quest for God. At this point, sage Agastya gets pushed back by Indra who does not allow him to proceed to the realm of God.
Indra says-“that which is beyond time and space (God) cannot be known by that which is in time and space” (Agastya and other mortals like us).
Indra goes on to explain that it is the progressive transcendence (of ego-consciousness) through divine activities that will take a mortal towards the immortal truth. Sage Agastya thenceforth realizes his folly, surrenders his will to Indra and goes on to execute his mandated activities through Indra.

Ego transcendence

One of the obvious implications that can be drawn from the verses is that the sense of “I” that we adorn and the identification with our ego-consciousness is often what prevents us from experiencing the Divine. That would also probably explain why meditation, yoga, etc. are delineated as paths in Hinduism to achieve that distance and ‘dis-identification’ from the ego-centric self.
One could however, question the whole point or practical significance of transcending the ego-bound self, to which it can be reasoned that detachment (the kind that Lord Krishna expounds in the Gita) would actually entail a greater sense of involvement and participation in life’s experiences without being shaken or affected by them. It would imply a sense of free-experiencing that is unimpeded by our conditioned beliefs, emotions, memories, reactions, etc. enabling us to understand things from a larger frame of reference.
Modern psychology and cognitive science is only now exploring the frontiers of consciousness (exemplified in Vedanta) and its impact on human life and behaviour. Current researches (Joel Krueger) in the field also indicate that transcending of the personalized ego often leads to a unified mode of awareness and “That a scholar acquires a new insight, or a moralist a new motive, or an artist a new imagination, or a religious figure a new awakening, are all based upon a disclosure of this kind of unity in consciousness” which is only made possible by that ego transcendence.
Levels of Consciousness
Sri Aurobindo (scholar of the Vedas) was one of the first pioneers in the field of consciousness studies. His work was further compounded by researcher Ken Wilber who (based on Aurobindo’s Vedic insights and Piaget’s Cognitive Development) established the ‘ten levels of consciousness’ that humans had to develop through, re-affirming the fact that psychological and spiritual development go hand in hand; that we can’t have one without the other.
According to the Vedic template reflected in the Taittiriya Upanishad there are five sheaths of existence/being- 1) Anna-maya kosa (physical), 2) Prana-maya kosa (vital), 3) Mano-maya kosa(mental), 4) Vijnana-maya kosa (intellectual) and 5) Ananda-maya kosa (bliss).
The ten levels of consciousness derived from this template are:
1) The Sensoriphysical– reflecting the realm of matter, sensation and perception.
2) Phantasmic-Emotional- the emotional-sexual level (seat of libido and instincts)
3) Representational mind– level of concepts and symbols, fantasy, ego-centric thinking.
4) Rule/role mind– thinking in terms of concrete things and events.
5) Formal-reflexive mind- the level of reflective, abstract thinking and introspection.
6) Vision-logic- the level of synthesis and integration.
The higher levels are :
7) Psychic,
8 ) Subtle (level of soul), 
9) Causal (level of spirit) 
10) Non-dual (Brahman-Atman)
Our centre of gravity is said to rest in a certain level on that spectrum and our thoughts and actions are defined by that level of functioning. Evolution of consciousness then requires a shift to higher levels. Wilber believes that the majority of humankind is still operating on the Mental, or Egoic, level, while only a few have attained higher spiritual consciousness.
Consequently it’s important to note that if an individual has spiritual experiences but his consciousness has only developed to the level of the ‘rep’ mind (level 3) for instance then he won’t be able to understand that spiritual experience in a broad way and won’t be able to integrate it. On the contrary he is more likely to distort the experience for people tend to interpret their religious/spiritual experience according to the level of mental development they are at. This does not imply that there are different levels of God, but that there are different levels of interpretation. The person at the highest levels of consciousness will have a more integrated and holistic understanding of the Supreme Reality.
It’s also interesting to note that those who are at the ‘earlier stages of development’ often tend to think that “their truth is the only truth” as they lack the ability to integrate alternate perspectives. To explain the tangible effects of this phenomenon, Swami Vivekananda once said “Whenever a prophet got into the super-conscious state by heightening his emotional nature, he brought away from it not only some truths, but some fanaticism also, some superstition which injured the world as much as the greatness of the teaching helped.”

Eminent author Ram Swarup
 also explains that even though a person has spiritual experiences, if he has not transcended his ego then his connection with the Divine will be distorted and filtered through his immature mind and his resulting beliefs and actions will prove to be very destructive, as can be witnessed from the history of imperial movements and regimes.  He claims that this happens :
  “because they mix spiritual truth and ego together, which is  a very dangerous and volatile combination… as nectar mixed with poison becomes poison”. 
The prevalent culture also stands as testimony to this phenomenon that is now witnessing the spread of myriad psuedo visionaries with the messiah complex.
It stands to reason then that without the anchor of integrated development a person can be in danger of falling prey to the lower nature of his self which perpetuates various forms of dysfunctions from a simple lack of objectivity to extreme fanaticism.
Researcher Prem Sabhlok also asserts :
“The ancient, medieval and modern history of India as well as of the world has confirmed that with material knowledge based on sense experiences and intellectual reasons and arguments alone, any search for God had always led to fanaticism, fundamentalism, communal tension, destruction of the temples, gurudwaras, churches, etc. of the same God and even has been cause of wars between the nations. With material knowledge, the same God appears different to various sections of the people.”
This suggests that it is often imperative for a super-conscious spiritual experience to be supported by a corresponding heightened psychological development. More importantly, it indicates that material knowledge without spiritual growth can be counterproductive as there is something crucial missing in human awareness that causes us to fall victim to all sorts of delusions and distortions. Vedas refers to this as ‘avidya’-ignorance and goes on to explain how we need to reach a certain stage in consciousness for this avidya to dissolve.
Evolution of Consciousness and Enlightenment
As we progress to higher levels of development on that scale our consciousnesses expands.  “So the more narrow, fragmented and restricted our mode of consciousness,” says Wilber, “the more prone we will be to experiencing psychological disorders or distortions. And the more expanded and heightened our level of consciousness, the more scope we will have for self-actualization and enlightenment.
Therefore… enlightenment in this context implies an expansion of consciousness from the isolated, alienated individual to a kind of global cosmic consciousness.”  It then overall alludes to a progressive expansion from parts of the psyche (persona) to the psyche (ego) to the environment (ecological) and finally to the universe-manifest and unmanifest (Brahman).
While it is often reiterated that there is only one indivisible, all-pervading and immanent reality (Brahman), Vedic metaphysics makes it clear that it is only at the stage of “Turiya” (highest level of superconsciousness) that a person experientially discerns and understands this One Supreme Reality (God) in all its magnitude and the vehement effect of Maya -the cosmic illusion then dissolves.
So contrary to Darwin’s theory of evolution and according to Vedic scriptures, one form of species does not evolve into another, rather it is the soul that evolves through the various levels of consciousness and this transition is not so much biological as much as it is spiritual.
Aurobindo declares, “Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth’s evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature’s process.”
1. Indra: It is not now, nor is It tomorrow; who knoweth that which is Supreme and Wonderful? It has motion and action in the consciousness of another, but when It is approached by the thought, It vanishes.
2. AgastyaWhy dost thou seek to smite us, O Indra? The Maruts are thy brothers. By them accomplish perfection; slay us not in our struggle.
3. IndraWhy, O my brother Agastya, art thou my friend, yet settest thy thought beyond me? For well do I know how to us thou willest not to give thy mind.
4. IndraLet them make ready the altar, let them set Agni in blaze in front. It is there, the awakening of the consciousness to Immortality. Let us two extend for thee thy effective sacrifice.
5. AgastyaO Lord of substance over all substances of being, thou art the master in force! O Lord of Love over the powers of love, thou art the strongest to hold in status! Do thou, O lndra, agree with the Maruts, then enjoy the offerings in the ordered method of the Truth.
-Rig Veda – Book 1 – Verse 170 – Hymns CLXX (1 – 5)
-Taittriya Upanishad-Sri Aurobindo (1956) The Secret of the Veda
-Ram Swarup (1980) The word as revelation: Names of Gods.
-Vivekananda: Complete Works, Vol.1, Raja Yoga, Ch.7: “Dhyana and Samadhi”
-Ken Wilber (1977) Spectrum of Consciousness
-Prem Sabhlok- Glimpses of Vedic Metaphysics
-Joel Krueger (2007) The Varieties of Pure Experience: William James and Kitaro Nishida on Consciousness and Embodiment
-Jean Piaget- Cognitive Development