Monday, April 28, 2014

Why the Indus Valley civilisation remains a model worth emulating

Taught to most Indian kids as a chapter in an early stage History book as part of the curriculum in schools, the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) is forgotten as the students move on to higher classes. Neither do we hear about it anytime, nor does any teacher ignite the fire in our hearts about the miracle the IVC really was. I feel that the IVC is the strongest cultural gem we have, a proof of how mighty the Indian (Hindustani) minds were then, and how it still remains a model worth emulating. Not even the mass media covers the flurry of excavation activities still happening the way it should.

I feel the cold neglect that India has shown to the IVC is a big mistake that needs rectification.

Sample some startling IVC facts, first.

  • It was an urban civilisation, not a rural one! So, in an age starting 3000 BC (that's 5000 years earlier!) our ancestors had perfected the art of building cities! That's not trivial at all.
  • A minimum of 1000 settlements have been identified so far, making it the LARGEST civilisation of its kind. The two contemporaries - Egyptian, and the Mesopotamian - are not even half this size.
  • Of the 100+ sites dug up, the cities show a remarkable similarity in conceptual layout, the citadels, the homes, the sewer lines (imagine!), the wells, the granaries, the fire altars (in later day cities), etc.
  • The people were non-violent. Imagine, a 1000 settlements, all existing in mutual peace and harmony, not fighting, not developing weapons, but trading, and reaching out to each other - sharing! (we have no working model like that even today! We compete, destroy, raze.)
  • They were global traders - in their small and medium sized boats, they reached out to the entire middle-Eastern cities then including the giant Mesopotamian civilisation which was to thoroughly impressed with the trading and material capabilities of the IVC people that it left many written accolades that archaeologists are discovering now.
  • There was no forceful established religion for most of its duration of existence. Even the rulers (if there were any) were not megalomaniacs and lived in regular citadels, unlike the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians (and definitely every single one following that - what to speak of the violent marauders after the first century AD). That's the reason no huge temples, or pyramids are found. It's all generally egalitarian. Amazing, isn't it?