Rig Veda, dating from 1,500 BCE, is often cited as the source of Hinduism. Nevertheless, the Rig Veda contains ideas that we can trace back to the Harappan civilization. As an example, Rig Veda mantra 8.47.17 mentions a measurement system based on increases by a factor of two (1, 2, 4, 8, 16) also found in Harappa. How is this possible? Five centuries before the Aryans arrived, Harappan cities ceased to exist. Furthermore, Harappans differed significantly from Vedic people because of their urban lifestyle, preference for trading, and lack of armies, while Vedic people preferred pastoral lifestyles, raiding, and warfare.
Due to the fact that Aryans who immigrated were mostly men and therefore probably married women with memories of Harappan cultures. As Hinduism developed in later times, we find that it is full of ideas that are only partially traceable to Vedic ideas. Hindus and Indians in general still value the ideas contained in Harappan seals today.
The Harappan seal symbolizes tree worship, animal worship, the number seven, and a yogi. This has been previously documented. Horns hold a special place in Harappan culture. The use of giant horns to demonstrate power is still common among many tribal communities. Strangely, when Persian art came to India around 500 years ago, the horn came to represent demons, something that had never been done before.
Seals can be wild or domestic, as many people do not realize. What do these indicators tell us about the collaboration between the different Harappan cities? Cities despite vast distances follow the same measurements, modular thinking, and standardization, and there is little evidence of war or standing armies. The wild animals include tigers, deer, crocodiles, bisons and rhinos. Domestic animals include the humped bull, goat and buffalo. Collaboration is demonstrated by making wild and domestic animals circle a yogi-like figure, or merging animals to create composite creatures. In Hindu mythology, composite creatures are sacred, but in Greek mythology, they are monsters.
As we are reminded of the tension between nature and culture, one recurring motif shows a tiger looking back at a man on a tree. The Sama Veda divides melodies into songs of the forest and songs of the settlement. In Pahari miniature paintings, tiger-goddesses, or sphinx, appear in Harappan seals. One seal shows women stopping men from fighting with spears, and another shows trees. There is no image valourizing war, but several seals oppose violence between humans. Several bulls are shown fighting. Humans hunt bulls but are discouraged from fighting. A bird-faced woman stops tigers from fighting, indicating an aversion to territorial behavior.
Harappans were traders and traders dislike war and violence because it disrupts markets. Many of the animals seen on Harappan seals, such as bulls, elephants and rhinos, became icons of the Jain Trithankaras, who promoted non-violence and are still venerated by traders today. Harappans didn’t eat only vegetarian food – they ate all kinds of meat, including cattle. They invented the vessels we use today – handi, thali, lota, circular with rimmed edges. We’re still insular like them, with walled communities, gates, and courtyards.