By Gul Karamchand
…True, the Songs of Rg Veda, the world’s first and foremost literature, echo and re-echo as they sing with ecstasy and delight of Sindhu River Here is one verse out of many: “Sindhu’s roar rises high above the earth, right up to the heavens above. . . Sindhu leads all other rivers just as a warrior-king leads the rest of warriors . . . Rich in fine steeds is Sindhu; Rich in gold; nobly fashioned is Sindhu; rich in ample wealth is Sindhu.
But the Question does arise : Do we know the destiny of Sindhu River? Or to put this question simply: How Long will Sindhu River continue to flow through Sindh? Or, is it fated to disappear in the near future? Will my grand children, and yours, visiting Sindh, be able to view this once- great and majestic river
For the Rg-Vedic poets, the rivers par excellence were the Sindhu and Saraswati which are mentioned repeatedly, respectfully and glowingly in the Vedas. In fact, no other river has been mentioned in Rg Veda as often as Sindhu and Saraswati. The Veda refers to the Ganga (Ganges) only twice, but it makes as many as thirty references to the Sindhu and Saraswati Rivers. The mighty Sindhu (Indus) river symbolizes the power and permanence of the ancient civilization of the subcontinent which evolved over a period of thousands of years. It is the oldest name in Indian history – and in Indian geography. This is the great Sindhu that gave Sindh and Hind — its name. In Ramayana, Sindhu is referred to as “Mahanadi”, which means “the great mighty river”. In Mahabharat, the Sindhu is reverentially mentioned along with other two holy rivers -Saraswati and Ganga.
Gidwani’s “Return of the Aryans” takes us to a far earlier period, prior to Rg Veda, Ramayana & Mahabharat to the very dawn of civilization from 8,000 BC to tell us the history of the Sindhu and Saraswati Rivers .Yet, as”Return of the Aryans” shows, Saraswat River, after a long journey, joined the Sindhu and the two rivers jointly flowed, as one, to the Sindhu Sammundar (now known as the Arabian Sea). Saraswati River has disappeared. (Please refer to the book itself or to AIS website <www.sindhulogy.org> for the brief summary of themes on Saraswati River from “Return of the Aryans”).
The question therefore remains: If Saraswati River flowing through Sindh, along with Sindhu River, has disappeared and remains almost forgotten in the present age, are the years of Sindhu River in Sindh numbered and is it fated to forsake the soil of Sindh?
This question would have no validity except that time and again, some news item crops up that Sindhu River has no longer the flow and strength in Sindh that it had in previous years. Speaking at the international Sindhi Sammelan at Las Vegas, some years back, Bhagwan S. Gidwani, in his keynote address had said:
“….Waters of Sindhu River which sustained and supported Sindh for countless centuries are now being diverted to Punjab through dam and canal construction – and on its last 100 miles into Sindh, the river carries no fresh water but lifeless salt water surging from the Arabian sea. There is no water in Sindh for planting crops and even drinking water for cattle and people, has become scarce. Nearly two million acres of farmland have been covered by the advancing sea while other huge areas are turning into salty desert. All this, in order to serve the need and more so, the greed of Punjab at the expense of the people of Sindh….. ”
At the Question-Answer period, Gidwani replied that he had based his observation that Sindhu’s fertile delta is suffering ecological catastrophe and that Sindh was dying of thirst because of the man-made treachery on messages on the internet by Prof. Gul Agha, Mr Nadeem Jamali, Sindh Chamber of Agriculture, Mr. R.B. Palijo and some articles from New York Times about “Sindh Dying of Thirst, and Cries Robbery”, circulated possibly by Prof. Gul Agha.
The Question therefore remains: are steps being taken to restore Sindhu River’s pristine glory? Will this again be the great Sindhu River “flowing to the roar of thunderstorm, indicating the sense of awe it inspired in the minds of Rig_Vedic Aryans”? Or is it almost the last whimper from a once-great river gasping to utter its final farewell?.
No one is there to tell How, Why and When Saraswati River disappeared from the bosom of the subcontinent and Sindh. There are all kinds of theories – and some quite ridiculous. The Sindhi historians (if there are any), hopefully will watch how Sindhu River progresses (or unfortunately regresses, if it does).
Yes truly the historians must watch. We must remember that we are speaking of a river that has greater antiquity than Himalayas and the surrounding mountains. Please see “Verdict on the antiquity of Himalayas, surrounding mountains and Mother Goddess Sindhu, pronounced by Sage Yadodhra around 5078 BC at Page150, ‘Return of the Aryans”. Sage Yadodhra had calculated that these mountains were at least about 1,238 million years old and the Sindhu River came millions of years earlier than that.
I am sorry if it is assumed that I am diverting the issue away from the excellence of the book “Empires of the Indus” by Alice Albinia or Gidwani’s “Return of the Aryans”. Indeed these are masterly books, and what is more, they are timely if the fate of the Sindhu River remains uncertain. While the historian will perhaps watch more or less passively, maybe, such books may serve to remove, somewhat, the inertia of those whose duty it is to see that Sindhu in not compelled to part from the soil of Sindh. I am therefore grateful to “Zulfiqar Halepoto” firstname.lastname@example.org for being the first to bring Alice Albinia’s book to our notice along with a compelling write-up, and to Manzoor Chandio email@example.com for presenting material along with a remarkable Review by Paddy Docherty. I wait to read the book which I am sure is fascinating. I am also glad to note the excellent comments of Arjun Sippy firstname.lastname@example.org and Alka Shahani alkashahani@Yahoo.com