Language of Sarasvati Sindhu Civilization

S.Kalyanaraman kalyan99 at NETSCAPE.NET
Wed Feb 3 22:40:25 UTC 1999

Table at p. 247 of Excavations at Harappa by Madho Sarup Vats,
1974, Varanasi, Bhartiya Publishing House, lists many instances of burial
pottery from Cemetery H, decorated with peacocks. Similar peacock designs
on burial pottery have been found at many other Harappan or
Sarasvati Sindhu civilization sites.

Why was the peacock chosen? A possible interpretation may also provide 
a clue to the language of the civilization:

In Pali (Rhys Davids' lexicon), ji_van-ji_vaka (poss. onomatopoetic) means a
bird, a sort of pheasant which utters a note sounding like ji_van ji_va
(Di_gha III.201)... Also cited is a Jain phrase: ji_vanji_ven.a gacchai
ji_vanji_venan cit.t.hai [Weber Bhagavati_ pp. 289,290 with doubtful
interpretation "living he goes with life"? or "he goes like the j. bird"?]

Peacock becomes the va_hana of both Sarasvati and Ka_rtikeya, celebrated
in the region in later historical periods. Balarama offers homage to the
ancestors in his pilgrimage along the Sarasvati river (cf. s'alya parva, MBh);
there are many ghats along the river near Pehoa, Kuruks.etra where 
the tradition is for pilgrims to offer tarpan.a to the and during
auspicious events such as a solar eclipse...

Ka_rtikeya is a warlord and nurtured by the divine mothers... why
is the peacock associated with him?

The peacock on the burial pottery on the Sarasvati and Sindhu river basins
is, therfore, perhaps a representation of the lexemes: 
ji_van-ji_vaka which may also be interpreted as a message to the departed
soul: May he live as he goes with life...

Regards, Kalyanaraman

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