Indus-Sarasvati Script decipherment - Part 2

s. kalyanaraman s._kalyanaraman at
Fri Feb 10 09:34:11 UTC 1995

I am ecstatic about the possible interpretation of the 'dotted circle'
pictorial so dominant in the indus-sarasvati inscriptions. It appears as part
of a trefoil sign on the pedestal (apparently meant for a 'linga')
and on the shawl worn by the old man (the so-called 'priest-king'). It
also appears on the bottom-vessel of the so-called 'cult object' and
also occurs on a number of tablets. It is obviously an important symbol,
pregnant with substantive 'meaning'. I offer an interpretation: In
brahmi script, the dotted circle signifies 'tha'. In Telugu script, it
is modified to represent 'Tha'. In Devanagari, the dot within the
circle is removed and with a short stroke on top of the circle,'Tha' is
connoted. I propose that this is a shortened version of the
morpheme: SIDDHA. This is the most dominant sign in thousands of epigraphical
records of the historical periods all across the sub-continent. This
is an invocation found in early inscriptions at the commencement of the
early texts; this is also sometimes confused with praNava symbol; in
later records this symbol has several varieties and is sometimes
indicated by the letter CHA. It is not a mere coincidence that the name
of the Indian alphabet derived from Late Brahmi was called
Siddhamaatrka (wrongly called kuTila) which is the mother of the north Indian
alphabets like Naagari. I suggest that the dotted circle in the Indus-
Sarasvati inscriptions connotes the word: SIDDHA. What does this
mean? It means: produce from land; the right of cultivating land (South
Indian Temple Inscriptions- SITI); siddha = income from land under
cultivation (IE 8-5); right of cultivating land, one of the eight kinds
of enjoying landed property (SITI), siddha-aaya = agricultural
income; Urdhv-aadhah-siddhi-yutaa = with income from the
produce above and below the surface of the ground (IA 16). [cf. seetaa =
cultivated land (EI 31)] Now, for the trefoil (three dotted circles
joined in a clover formation): JAGAT = three; JAGATI = raised platform
(cf. the trefoil symbols plastered all over the beautiful pedestal);
corridor of a shrine on the four sides of its open court, used for
circumambulation of the main shrine; JAGATI-kaTTe = raised square seat
around a tree before a village (Kannada); jagati = lower ground (EI
11); jagati-ppaDai = the upper tier of the basement (South
Indian Inscriptions 2); jagati = raised parapet (IA 14). We
have noted earlier how the so-called cult-object itself can be
interpreted as jagada or sagaDa (meaning a portable furnace and also a
churning lathe). In the over-all context of the inscriptions
with the 'jar sign' connoting BHOGA, the cult-object may represent
the morphemes: JAGATI-SIDDHAM which could be interpreted to mean:
'cultivated raised ground or produce from raised ground'. The seals with
the inscriptions: 'jar sign' plus the 'cult object' may
therefore be title deeds to the enjoyment (bhoga) or right to cultivate
the raised land. It is notable that siddha-peetha or yoga-peetha (IA 10)
is a holy place where an ascetic obtained perfection (siddhi) by
his austerities. The priest who wore the shawl with
trefoils was a SIDDHA, perhaps, JAGAT-SIDDHA or the ascetic of the world? All
references are from the Indian Epigraphical Glossary). S. Kalyanaraman.
Upto 28 February 1995: s._kalyanaraman at
After 1 March 1995: 20/7 Warren Road, Mylapore, Madras 600004, India; Tel. 
91-44-493-6288; Fax. 91-44-499-6380.


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