The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization

Paperback | August 26, 2015

byAsko Parpola

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Hinduism has two major roots. The more familiar is the religion brought to South Asia in the second millennium BCE by speakers of Aryan or Indo-Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family. Another, more enigmatic, root is the Indus civilization of the third millennium BCE,which left behind exquisitely carved seals and thousands of short inscriptions in a long-forgotten pictographic script. Discovered in the valley of the Indus River in the early 1920s, the Indus civilization had a population estimated at one million people, in more than 1000 settlements, several ofwhich were cities of some 50,000 inhabitants. With an area of nearly a million square kilometers, the Indus civilization was more extensive than the contemporaneous urban cultures of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Yet, after almost a century of excavation and research the Indus civilization remains littleunderstood. How might we decipher the Indus inscriptions? What language did the Indus people speak? What deities did they worship? Asko Parpola has spent fifty years researching the roots of Hinduism to answer these fundamental questions, which have been debated with increasing animosity since the rise of Hindu nationalist politics in the 1980s. In this pioneering book, he traces the archaeological route of the Indo-Iranianlanguages from the Aryan homeland north of the Black Sea to Central, West, and South Asia. His new ideas on the formation of the Vedic literature and rites and the great Hindu epics hinge on the profound impact that the invention of the horse-drawn chariot had on Indo-Aryan religion. Parpola'scomprehensive assessment of the Indus language and religion is based on all available textual, linguistic and archaeological evidence, including West Asian sources and the Indus script. The results affirm cultural and religious continuity to the present day and, among many other things, shed newlight on the prehistory of the key Hindu goddess Durga and her Tantric cult.

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Hinduism has two major roots. The more familiar is the religion brought to South Asia in the second millennium BCE by speakers of Aryan or Indo-Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family. Another, more enigmatic, root is the Indus civilization of the third millennium BCE,which left behind exquisitely carved seals ...

Asko Parpola is Professor Emeritus of Indology and South Asian Studies at the University of Helsinki.

other books by Asko Parpola

Deciphering the Indus Script
Deciphering the Indus Script

Paperback|Oct 1 2009

$63.36

Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.68 inPublished:August 26, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190226927

ISBN - 13:9780190226923

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction1. Defining 'Hindu' and 'Hinduism'2. The early Aryans3. Indo-European linguistics4. The Indus civilization5. The Indus religion and the Indus scriptPart I: The Early Aryans6. Proto-Indo-European homelands7. Early Indo-Iranians on the Eurasian steppes8. The BMAC of Central Asia and the Mitanni of Syria9. The Rigvedic Indo-Aryans and the D?sas10. The Asvins and Mitra-Varuna11. The Asvins as funerary gods12. The Atharvaveda and the Vratyas13. The Kuru kingdom and the great epicsPart II: The Indus Civilization14. The language of the Indus civilization15. Fertility cults in folk religion16. Astronomy, time-reckoning and cosmology17. Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha18. Royal symbols from West Asia19. The Goddess and the buffalo20. Early Iranians and 'left-hand' Tantrism21. Religion in the Indus scriptConclusion22. The prehistory of Indo-Aryan speech and Aryan contributions to Hinduism23. Harappan religion in relation to West Asia and later South Asia24. Retrospect and prospectBibliographical notesReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"A highly innovative and welcome volume, bringing together the linguistic and archaeological evidence for the cultures that underlie Hinduism. Asko Parpola is uniquely well qualified to undertake this, through his major research on the Vedas and Vedic ritual and on the Indus Civilization,combined with an excellent understanding of the archaeological evidence beyond India itself. No one interested in any of these fields can afford to miss it." --J.L. Brockington, Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit, University of Edinburgh; Vice President, International Association of Sanskrit Studies