Indus River

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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Indus and its tributaries
Map showing Indus River
Ancient Indian Kingdoms in 600 BC

Indus or Sindhu or simply Sindh (सिंधु, सिंध नदी) is a large river which originates from Himalayan area of Kashmir and flowing through western part of India (western Punjab and Sindh Provinces - now in Pakistan), merges into Arabian Seas.

Course

It flows through Pakistan, the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Gujarat, and western Tibet (China).

Originating in the Tibetan Plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar, the river runs a course through the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, towards Gilgit-Baltistan and then flows in a southerly direction along the entire length of Pakistan to merge into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh. The total length of the river is 3,180 km (1,980 mi). It is Pakistan's longest river.

History

The Indus forms the delta of present-day Pakistan mentioned in the Vedic Rigveda as Sapta Sindhu and the Iranian Zend Avesta as Hapta Hindu (both terms meaning "seven rivers"). The river has been a source of wonder since the Classical Period, with King Darius of Persia sending his Greek subject Scylax of Caryanda to explore the river as early as 515 BC.

Exploration by Scylax

In about 515 BCE, Scylax was sent by King Darius I of Persia to follow the course of the Indus River and discover where it led.[1] Scylax and his companions set out from the city of Caspatyrus in Gandhara (which would mean he entered the Indus close to its confluence with the Kabul River, near to what is now Peshawar in Pakistan). Scylax sailed down the river until he found it reached the sea. He then sailed west across Indian Ocean until he arrived at the Red Sea, which he also explored. He travelled as far as the Red Sea's western end at Suez, before returning to report to Darius I. His entire journey took thirty months.

Such, at least, is the prima facie narrative based on Herodotos.

Rigveda and the Indus

Rigveda also describes several mythical rivers, including one named "Sindhu". The Rigvedic "Sindhu" is thought to be the present-day Indus river and is attested 176 times in its text – 95 times in the plural, more often used in the generic meaning. In the Rigveda, notably in the later hymns, the meaning of the word is narrowed to refer to the Indus river in particular, as in the list of rivers mentioned in the hymn of Nadistuti sukta. The Rigvedic hymns apply a feminine gender to all the rivers mentioned therein but "Sindhu" is the only river attributed with a masculine gender. Sindhu is seen as a strong warrior amongst other rivers which are seen as goddesses and compared to cows and mares yielding milk and butter.

In Mahabharata

Bhisma Parva, Mahabharata/Book VI Chapter 10 Describes geography and provinces of Bharatavarsha. Rivers are mentioned in Mahabharata (VI.10.13,14).

नदीः पिबन्ति बहुला गङ्गां सिन्धुं सरस्वतीम
गॊदावरीं नर्मदांबाहुदांमहानदीम Mahabharata (VI.10.13)
शतद्रुं चन्द्रभागांयमुनांमहानदीम
दृषद्वतीं विपाशांविपापां सदूलवालुकाम Mahabharata (VI.10.14)

Other names

  • Daryā-e Sindh: In Urdu, the official language of Pakistan, the Indus is known as درياۓ سِندھ (Daryā-e Sindh).
  • Sindhu Nadī: In other languages of the region,
  • सिन्धु नदी (Sindhu Nadī) in Hindi,
  • Sindhu: سنڌو (Sindhu) in Sindhi, سندھ
  • Sindh: in Shahmukhi alphabet,
  • Sindh Nadī: ਸਿੰਧ ਨਦੀ (Sindh Nadī) in Gurmukhī alphabet,
  • સિંધુ નદી (Sindhu) in Gujarati;
  • Abāsin: اباسين (Abāsin, lit. "Father of Rivers") in Pashto,
  • Rūd-e Sind: رود سند (Rūd-e Sind) in Persian,
  • Nahar al-Sind: نهر السند (Nahar al-Sind) in Arabic,
  • Sênggê Zangbo: སེང་གེ།་གཙང་པོ (Sênggê Zangbo, lit. "Lion River") in Tibetan,
  • Yindu: 印度 (Yìndù) in Chinese, and
  • Nilab in Turki.

Tributaries

Alexander Cunningham[2] writes that The name of Kophes (Kabul) is as old as the time of the Vedas, in which the Kubha river is mentioned as an affluent of the Indus ; and as it is not an Arian word, I infer that the name must have been applied to the Kabul river before the Arian occupation, or, at least, as early as B.C. 2500. In the classical writers we find the Khoes, Kophes, and Khoaspes Rivers, to the west of the Indus, and at the present day we have the Kunar River, the Kurram River, and the Gomal rivers to the west, and the Kunihar River to the east of the Indus, all of which are derived from the Scythian ku, " water."

Ancient people and places

Ancient people and places associated or identified living on the bank of Indus are (click the link to see details):

Jats on the Indus

Main article: Jats in Islamic History


According to Dr. Raza, Jats appear to be the original race of Sind valley, stretching from the mouth of Indus to as far as the valley of Peshawar.[3]Traditionally Jats of Sind consider their origin from the far northwest and claimed ancient Garh Gajni (modern Rawalpindi) as their original abode.[4] Persian chronicler Firishta strengthened this view and informs us that Jats were originally living near the river of the Koh-i-Jud (Salt Range) in northwest Punjab.[5] The Jats then occupied the Indus valley and settled themselves on both the banks of the Indus River. By the fourth century region of Multan was under their control.[3]Then they rose to the sovereign power and their ruler Jit Salindra, who promoted the renown of his race, started the Jat colonisation in Punjab and fortified the town Salpur/Sorpur, near Multan.[6]

Ibn Hauqual mentions the area of their abode in between Mansura and Makran.[7] By the end of seventh century, Jats were thickly populated in Deybal region.[8] In the early eighth century, when the Arab commander Muhammad bin Qasim came to Sind, the Jats were living along both sides of the river Indus. Their main population was settled in the lower Sind, especially in the region of Brahmanabad (Mansura); Lohana (round the Brahmanabad) with their two territories Lakha, to the west of Lohana and Samma, to the south of Lohana; Nerun (modern Hyderabad); Dahlilah; Roar and Deybal. In the further east, their abode also extended in between Deybal, Kacheha (Qassa) and Kathiawar in Gujarat. In upper Sind they were settled in Siwistan (Schwan) and Alor/Aror region.[3][9]

In the 7th century, the Chinese traveler Xuanzang reported that: "in a district of slopes and marshes to more than a thousand li beside the Sindhu River there live several hundred, nearly a thousand, families of ferocious people who made slaughtering their occupation and sustain themselves by rearing cattle, without any other means of living. All the people, whether male of female, and regardless of nobility or lowliness, shave off their hair and beards and dress in religious robes, thus giving the appearance of being bhikṣus (and bhikṣunīs), yet engaging in secular affairs."[10] Earlier translators of this same passage gave differing accounts of the numbers of people, however. Beal says that "there are several hundreds of thousands families settled in Sind"[11], while Watters says there were "some myriads of families"[12]

Dr. Raza proposes that these unnamed people were Jats.[13] The Chachnama, possibly dating originally to the 7th or 8th century CE, and translated into Persian in 1216 CE, stratified these people into 'the western Jats' (Jatan-i-gharbi) and 'the eastern Jats (Jatan-i-Sharqi),[14] living on the eastern and western side of the Indus River.

Before the invasion of Sultan Mahmud (1027), Jats had firmly established in the region of Multan and Bhatiya on the banks of Indus River.[3][15] Alberuni mentions the Mau as the abode of Jats in Punjab, situated in between the river Chenab and Beas.[16]

In the 13th century CE, chroniclers further classified them as 'The Jats living on the banks of the rivers (Lab-i-daryayi)[17] and the Jats living in plain,desert (Jatan-i-dashti); and 'the rustic Jats' (rusta'i Jat) living in villages.[18] Professionally, they were classified on the basis of their habitats, as boatmen and maker of boats, those who were living in the riverside.[19] However Jats of country side were involved in making of swords; as the region of Deybal was famous for the manufacture of swords, and the Jats were variously called as teghzan (holder of the swords).[20] The rustic people were appointed by the Chach and the Arab commanders as spies (Jasus) and the caravan guide (rahbar). They used to guide the caravans on their way both during day time and at night.[21][3]

In political hierarchy, the early fifth century inscription refers to them as a ruler of Punjab, part of Rajasthan and Malwa.[3]It further highlights their sovereign position with high sounded epithets such as Sal, Vira, and Narpati ('lord of men').[22] In the military hierarchy, the Chachnama placed them high on the covetous post of Rana. During the war they were brought against enemy as soldiers. In Dahir's army all the Jats living in the east of Indus River stood marshalled in the rear against the Arab commander Muhammad Bin Qasim.[23] They were also involved in palace management, thus Chach appointed them as his bodyguard (pasdar).[24]

Migration of Samvarana to Sindhu

Adi Parva, Mahabharata/Mahabharata Book I Chapter 89 tells us the History of Puru and Pandavas (Aila dynasty).

Genealogy of Puru : Puru (wife: Paushti) → 1.Pravira, 2.Iswara, and 3. Raudraswa

1. Pravira (w:Suraseni) → Manasyu (w:Sauviri) → Subhru, Sahana, and Vagmi.

3. Raudraswa (w:Misrakesi) → Richeyu (=Anadhrishti) (+9 more) → Matinara → Tansu (+3 more) → Ilina (w:RathantaraDushmanta (w:Sakuntala) (+4 more) → BharataBhumanyu (Pushkarini) → Suhotra (w:Aikshaki) (+5 more) → Ajamidha (w: Dhumini) → RikshaSamvarana (w: Tapati) (migrated to Sindhu River) → Kuru (w:Vahini) → AbhishyavantaParikshitJanamejaya Dhritarashtra (+Pandu & 6 more) → Pratipa (+2 more) → Santanu

It is interesting to note that Samvarana migrated to Sindhu River as given below in details:


  • Riksha begat Samvarana, the perpetuator of the royal line. And, O king, it hath been heard by us that while Samvarana, the son of Riksha, was ruling the earth, there happened a great loss of people from famine, pestilence, drought, and disease. And the Bharata princes were beaten by the troops of enemies. And the Panchalas setting out to invade the whole earth with their four kinds of troops soon brought the whole earth under their sway. And with their ten Akshauhinis the king of the Panchalas defeated the Bharata prince. Samvarana then with his wife and ministers, sons and relatives, fled in fear, and took shelter in the forest on the banks of the Sindhu extending to the foot of the mountains. There the Bharatas lived for a full thousand years, within their fort. And after they had lived there a thousand years, one day the illustrious Rishi Vasishtha approached the exiled Bharatas, who, on going out, saluted the Rishi and worshipped him by the offer of Arghya. And entertaining him with reverence, they represented everything unto that illustrious Rishi. And after he was seated on his seat, the king himself approached the Rishi and addressed him, saying, 'Be thou our priest, O illustrious one! We will endeavour to regain our kingdom.' And Vasishtha answered the Bharatas by saying, 'Om' (the sign of consent). It hath been heard by us that Vasishtha then installed the Bharata prince in the sovereignty of all the Kshatriyas on earth, making by virtue of his Mantras this descendant of Puru the veritable horns of the wild bull or the tusks of the wild elephants. And the king retook the capital that had been taken away from him and once more made all monarchs pay tribute to him. The powerful Samvarana, thus installed once more in the actual sovereignty of the whole earth, performed many sacrifices at which the presents to the Brahmanas were great.
  • "Samvarana begat upon his wife, Tapati, the daughter of Surya, a son named Kuru. This Kuru was exceedingly virtuous, and therefore, he was installed on the throne by his people. It is after his name that the field called Kuru Jangala has become so famous in the world. Devoted to asceticism, he made that field (Kurukshetra) sacred by practising asceticism there.

Migration Jats from Sind

Migration of Jats from Sindh to Rajasthan

As for the migration of Jats from Sind, it may be assumed that natural calamity and increase in population compelled them to migrate from their original abode in search of livelihood.[3]Hoernle has propounded the 'wedge theory' for the migration of most of the ancient tribes. This wedge theory tends us to believe that the Jats were among the first wave of the Aryans, and their first southeast migration took place from the North-West, and established their rule at Sorpur in Multan regions. Further they migrated towards east and stretched their abode from Brahmanabad (Mansura) to Kathiawar. As Jataki, the peculiar dialect of the Jats, also proves that the Jats must have come from the NW Punjab and from other districts (e.g. Multan) dependent upon the great country of the Five rivers.[25]

By the end of fifth and the beginning of the sixth century, their southward migration, second in line, took place and they reached Kota in Rajasthan, probably via Bikaner regions. From Kota they migrated further east and established their rule at Malwa under the rule of Salichandra, son of Vira Chandra. Salichandra erected a minster (mindra) on banks of the river Taveli in Malwa.[26] Probably after their defeat by Sultan Mahmud in 1027 AD, and later hard pressed by the Ghaznavi Turkish Commander, the Jats of Sind again migrated to Rajasthan and settled themselves in Bundi regions.[3]The second inscription found at Bundi probably dates from circa samvat 1191 (1135 AD) possibly refers to the Jats as opponents of the Parmara rulers of Rajasthan.[27]

When Muhammad bin Qasim attacked Dahlilah, a fortified town in between Roar and Brahmanabad, most of the inhabitants (the Jats) had abandoned the place and migrated to Rajasthan via desert and took shelter in the country of Siru (modern Sirohi) which was then ruled by King Deva Raj, a cousin of Rai Dahir.[28] However, the third migration took place in early eighth century and Jats of lower Sind migrated to Rajasthan, probably via Barmer regions. By the twelfth century, the Jats settled in western Punjab, as the native poet Abul Farj Runi mentions them along with the Afghans.[3]Meanwhile, they also extended their abode in the eastern part of the Punjab (now Haryana), as in the end of the twelfth century they resisted Qutab Din Aibek in the region of Hansi.[29]

The Jats of the lower Indus comprise both Jats and Rajputs, and the same rule applies to Las-Bela where descendants of former ruling races like the Sumra and the Samma of Sind and the Langah of Multan are found. At the time of the first appearance of the Arabs they found the whole of Makran in possession of Zutts.[30] On phronetic grounds, this maybe Jats.[31]

References

  1. Lendering, Jona (n.d.). "Scylax of Caryanda"
  2. The Ancient Geography of India/Northern India,pp. 37
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 Dr S.Jabir Raza, The Jats - Their Role and Contribution to the Socio-Economic Life and Polity of North and North West India. Vol I, 2004, Ed Dr Vir Singh Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "jabir" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Elliot, op. cit., Vol.I, p.133
  5. Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Firista, Gulsan-i-Ibrahimi, commonly known as Tarikh-i-Firishta, Nawal Kishore edition, (Kanpur, 1865), Vol.I, p.35
  6. Inscription No.1, Tod, op.cit., Vol.II, Appendix pp. 914-917.
  7. Ibn Hauqal, Ed. Vol.I, p.40
  8. Encyclopedia of Islam, vol.II, p.488
  9. Chachnama, pp. 165-66; Alberuni, Qanun al-Mas'udi, in Zeki Validi Togan, Sifat al-ma'mura ala'l-Biruni; Memoirs of the Archeological Survey of India No. 53, pp.16,72; Abu Abudullah Muhammad Idrisi, Kitab Nuzhat-ul-Mustaq, Engl. translation by S.Maqbul Ahmad, entitled India and the Neighbouring Territories, (I. Eiden, 1960), pp.44,145
  10. Li, Rongxi. The Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research (1996), p. 346.
  11. Beal, Vol.II,p.273
  12. Watters, Thomas. On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India (A.D. 629-645). (1904-1905), Reprint: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, New Delhi (1973), Vol. II, p. 252.
  13. Dr S.Jabir Raza, The Jats - Their Role and Contribution to the Socio-Economic Life and Polity of North and North West India. Vol I, 2004, Ed Dr Vir Singh
  14. Chachnama, pp.98, 117,131
  15. Zainul-Akhbar, p.191
  16. Sifat al-ma'mura ala'l-Biruni, p.30
  17. Zai'nul-Akhbar, p.191; Tarikh-i-Firishta, Vol.I,p.35
  18. Chachnama, pp.104,167
  19. Zai'nul-Akhbar, p.191; Tarikh-i-Firishta, Vol.I,p.35
  20. Ibn Hauqal, Ed. Vol.I, p.37, Chachnama pp.33,98
  21. Chachnama, pp.33,163
  22. Inscription No.1, Tod, op.cit., Vol.II, Appendix pp. 914-917.
  23. Chachnama, p. 133
  24. Chachnama, p.64
  25. Richard F. Burton, op. cit., p.246
  26. Inscription No.1, Tod, op.cit., Vol.II, Appendix pp. 914-917.
  27. Inscription No.II, Tod, op.cit., Vol.II, Appendix, pp. 917-919 and n. 13
  28. Chachnama, p.166
  29. Hasan Nizami, Tajul-ma'asir, Fascimile translation in ED, Vol. II, p.218
  30. Encyclopaedia of Islam
  31. Encyclopaedia of Islam

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