RELIGION IN ANCIENT INDIA, The Religion of the Proto-Indian...


The Religion of the Proto-Indian Civilization

The religion of the Proto-Indian civilization reached its heyday in the 4th-3rd millennia BC, ie. long before the arrival of the Aryan tribes to India. The discovery of this highly developed civilization, the main centers of which were the cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Kharappa, occurred only at the beginning of the 20th century, but we already know a lot about its material culture and the daily life of the Proto-Indians. Still, much of it remains mysterious for us. It is not known, for example, the ethnic composition of the pre-Aryan population of the Indus river basin, the spiritual life of the society of that time is largely hidden from us. Nevertheless, the accumulated archaeological material, as well as the results of the work on deciphering Proto-Indian writing, give enough grounds for the reconstruction of at least some of the ideas and beliefs inherent in this society.

According to some researchers, the origins of the Proto-Indian religion should be sought in the rural cultures of Balochistan and Afghanistan, which were part of a large regional system in western Asia that included the rural cultures of southern Turkmenistan and the Elamian culture of southwestern Iran. The main feature of the religion of this West Asian region is the clear emphasis on the fertility idea associated with the cult of the female productive start. This is evidenced by the presence of a large number of clay and terracotta female figures found in this region, which are rather crude and primitive, with protrusions of characteristic details - breasts, abdomen, thighs. Beside them were sometimes statuettes of bulls or rams - symbols of male sexual potency.

Such kind of female figurines, found in the early layers of Proto-Indian culture, were probably used in fertility rites and performed a magical function. Characteristically, with female figures, images snakes, are often associated with a cult of fertility is well known. Snakes are also represented on many proto-Indian seals, in particular, in the worship of a goddess standing near a tree. Similar images are still found in the Dravidian peoples living in southern India. There is no doubt that the cult of snakes - the phenomenon in its origins is certainly not an Aryan, but an aboriginal, autochthonous.

The general line of development of the Proto-Indian religion from primitive agricultural cults to a more or less orderly system of beliefs and cults was apparently connected with the process of urban culture folding, with the growth of the priestly social stratum. At the same time, mythology became more complicated, mass, public forms of ritual practice developed. One of the significant external signs of such development can be considered some structural features of ancient West Asian cities, including Proto-Indian. In the western part of Mohenjo-Daro there was a serf-type structure, which the scientists initially called stronghold, meaning its possible defense purpose, but now, however, it is more often said that this citadel was not a fortress, but a place of massive official rituals. In the center of this complex is the so-called Great Pool, whose presence testifies to the ablutions taking place here, which are likely to be ritual-purifying character. Important in this regard, the sublime position of the basin - because in India it is believed that the higher the source of water, the cleaner it is. It is no coincidence that his neighborhood with the granary, revealing the idea of ​​fertility, which was the basis of the rituals that took place there. Attention is also drawn to the nearby brick platform with sewer grooves, on which ritual performances took place, which included, as might be supposed, blood sacrifices.

Of course, it is difficult to restore the concrete form of certain rituals. It is not easy to compile an idea of ​​the pantheon of the gods of Proto-Indians. You can still confidently believe that on one of the extant seals we meet with their the supreme god, the Lord of the World, which is depicted with buffalo horns on a head sitting on a kind of throne surrounded by four animals located in the plane of printing on each side of the main figure in pairs: elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, buffalo.

The buffalo features of this image on these and other seals, noted by researchers as being similar to the buffalo god in Elam, suggest the presence of a developed < strong> buffalo cult, associated with the idea of ​​supreme power. This idea on the seal is expressed in particular by means of a certain cosmographical scheme: the four animals, surrounding the main figure, symbolizes the sides of the world, which are commanded by the supreme god. In addition, six large bracelets on his hands mean his power over the six seasons that formed the basis of the seasonal cycle of the Proto-Indians, sixteen small ones - over sixteen (main and fractional) directions of light, and twelve annual rings on buffalo horns indicate the twelve-year cycle of Jupiter, apparently, an extremely important role in the life of Proto-Indians. This cycle was correlated with the period of the reign of the king and meant the change of royal power every 12 years.

The buffalo cult has survived in India to the present day, and it is characteristic of the Dravidian-speaking peoples. Buffalo nature has some mythological characters, playing an important role in the cult practice of the southern regions of India. These are, for example, Mhasoba in Maharashtra, Pottusa in Andhra and often appearing in the Hindu myths of Machish, a demon in the form of a buffalo. Thus, we can talk about the incredible duration and archaic tradition associated with the cult of buffalo in the territory of India. Although a number of its links have been irrevocably lost or lost for us clarity, there are still enough grounds to assert that its roots lie in the culture of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, and through it connect with the civilization of Mesopotamia.

The Lord-ruler in question was not the only proto-Indian pantheon character with buffalo horns. A figure a woman, which on this basis is mistaken for the husband of the god, is sometimes shown next to him. Judging by the images that have come down to us, the central part of the cult practice of Proto-Indians was worship of the goddess. This is evidenced not only by the previously mentioned but also multi-figured, unfolded scenes of ritual character. Especially distinguished is the composition, representing a naked female figure with stylized buffalo horns, placed as if in a fork of a tree. Before her in a pose of worship is a character in a horned headdress, and behind him an animal resembling a goat or a ram. In the lower part of the field there are seven female figures standing in a row, which are identified by researchers in different ways, for example, as the goddesses of seven rivers or seven goddesses.

The tree, next to which the goddess is placed (on some other seals - in the arch formed by him), is represented very reliably. This is without doubt asvattha, or pipal ( Ficus religiosa), - one of the most revered trees in India . Asvattha leaves are also represented in other compositions that leave no doubt that this tree was sacred in the Proto-Indian times and had a cult significance. In a number of cases, its branch seems to sprout from the horns of the buffalo, which connects it with the idea of ​​royal power and the image of the supreme god, and more generally with the male productive principle. Thus, the composition described above (female figure, or goddess, in the arch of ashvatthi) can be understood as a symbolic expression through the vegetable code of the fertility theme, i.e. the union of the male and female beginnings. To this we should add that on a number of seals the goddess is represented next to another tree or with its branches on her head. It is identified as margos, or them ( Azadi - rachta Indica), is a tree that has also been sacred and widely revered in India and universally understood as a plant embodiment of the goddess.

Far from everything in the pictorial material that we got from the Proto-Indians can be interpreted more or less convincingly. It still has a lot of dark for us, the figures depicted on seals or other objects are often fantastic and mysterious. For example, the importance of often encountered combined zoomorphic images - with different heads, torsos, legs, is not quite clear. However, the main features of the religious and mythological representations of the Proto-Indians, the appearance of the main gods seem to us quite definite.

One curious evidence, taken from the ancient Indian epic poem "Mahabharata", can be added to this. As shown by United States Indologists Ya. V. Vasilkov and N. V. Gurov, the description of a certain country Aratta can be attached to it (in the part called "Carnaparva") region of the Proto-Indian civilization. One of the heroes of the epic, Karna, expressing here the view of the Aryan world on the life of an alien people, speaks with contempt of the customs and customs prevailing in this country, but the actual description of the religious and cultic usage of the Arattians contained in his speech is extremely important and significant. On the one hand, it provides an excellent opportunity to closely link the data presented to the lives of non-Aryan, primarily Dravidian, peoples, and on the other hand, contains facts that indicate the connection between the Aratt religion and the religious and philosophical material known to us relating to the Proto-Indian civilization. They include the king's character and overlapping with ruler functions and priest, connection of the royal power with the idea of ​​ fertility, the cult of sacred trees. , the ecstatic character of worship in Arattans, the presence of orgiastic forms of worship with a strong element of eroticism, with excited singing and dancing, which strongly resembles the real cult practice of the Dravidians. All this serves as a living confirmation that the picture that arises before the researchers as a result of the analysis of archaeological and visual material, despite its incompleteness in the main features, is quite reliable. This undoubtedly determines the significant role of the Proto-Indian religion as one of the most ancient sources of Hinduism.

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