Imperative of Rastram in Indian Ocean Community
By Dr S Kalyanaraman
The guidance of the late Baba Saheb Apte and Moropant Pingle in pursuing the search for river Saraswati has been an exhilarating part of my life. The leadership of Haribhau Vaze and Prof KS Valdiya in the project have been invaluable. This project for rediscovering Sarasvati has brought together a number of scientists and scholars.
It is a daunting task to name them all. Kasturi Rangan, JS Sharma and Bidyut Bhadra of Indian Space Research Organisation, scientists of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, geologists and DK Chaddha, chairman of the Central Ground Water Authority, Darshan Lal Jain, Saraswati Nadi Shodh Sansthan in Haryana, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, Governments. of Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, have contributed to making the search and revival of river Saraswati a successful endeavour.
The project to release the information to reach out to the widest possible audience has been made possible thanks to the support and encouragement of the Government of Karnataka. We are grateful to the Chief Minister and the Cabinet Ministers of Karnataka Government for making this event possible.
It is a coincidence that the program of today is titled Bahubhashaa Bharati. My next book on Saraswati civilisation relates to the Indian language union (also called sprachbund or Indian linguistic area). Today, the number of inscriptions in Indus script have reached over 6,000 in number. The database is adequate to resolve the problem in cryptography, to decipher the language and the writing system of our ancestors in the Sarasvati and Sindhu river basins. The title of the book which is coming out in a week’s time is Indian Hieroglyphs – Invention of Writing. This invention is dated to circa 3500 BCE, that is, 5,500 years ago. This invention matched with the inventions of the bronze age with artisans of the civilization working with s’ankha, semi-precious stones, gold, silver, copper, arsenical alloys, bronze, brass, even iron and with a variety of furnaces and smelters. These vis’vakarma were the architects of the civilisation.
Prof Valdiya has conclusively, scientifically established the evolutionary history of river Saraswati and the formation of Triveni Sangamam caused by tectonic events and resulting river migrations.
People who lived on the banks of river Saraswati called themselves Saraswats. In one sense, we are all Saraswats, Saraswati’s children who have inherited the great Bharatiya civilization which emerged on the banks of this Himalayan river which flowed from Himalayas to Prabhas Patan, Somnath to join the Arabian Sea. Vis’wamitra says about these people in Rigveda that we are Bharatam Janam, children of Bharat.
Action to write the story of our civilisation and steps to revive the river Saraswati is only the beginning of our journey, remembering the contributions made by our pitr-s to defining our identity and value system.
We have a lot of work to do and will require inter-disciplinary efforts.
Some of the projects which have to be supported and actively pursued are:
What was called Ganga-Kaveri link has now assumed the shape of an Integrated National Water Grid including the rebirth of River Saraswati. Work has already been done for nearly 1000 kms using the Sutlej and Beas river waters flowing from Manasarovar, Mount Kailas and with reservoirs at Harike from Bhakra Nangal and Pong dams. This Saraswati Mahanadi Rupa Nahar is 40 feet wide and 12 feet deep and flowing like the old Kaveri. This is part of the interlinking of rivers project of Ministry of Water Resources.
The other segments of the project are to take only the flood waters of Brahmaputra river through Ganga, Subarnarekha from Farakka, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Palar, Pennar, Kaveri, Vaippar, Gundar and upto Kanyakumari using mainly gravity flows.
This is an integrated project because it will use waters from Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats) using a contour canal paralleling the Konkan Railway, groundwater resources, renaissance of a network of lakes, desalination of seawater in addition to making available a network of canals linked to interlinked rivers to create an additional irrigated land of 9 crore acres of land. This will benefit 9 crore families all over the country. Already, part of revived Saraswati is helping irrigate lakhs of acres of land even in the Rajasthan desert. The march of the desert can be stopped and the Marusthali converted to fertile alluvium with plantations and cash crops. We have to make the waters of Saraswati river flow again in a navigable channel and become the guiding spirit for achieving another landmark, National Water Grid for the nation.
We have to rejuvenate the s’ankha (turbinella pyrum) industry of Surat, Rann of Kutch and of Rama Setu.
We have to realise a Hindu mahasagar parivaar, anIndian Ocean Community by linking up the nations which have followed common traditions since the days of the Buddha.
We have to document janjaati itihaas, the historical, cultural, social and art traditions of janjatis in all parts of India and the contributions made by them to socio-economic development of the nation and essential cultural unity of all the people of India.
The Indian Ocean Community will unite over 50 States of Indian Ocean rim with a common purpose as a free trade area and starting projects for Mekong river delta (Maa Ganga a Himalayan river), Irawadi and Salween deltas – two other Himalayan rivers, trans-Asian Highway and trans-Asian Railway projects. These will provide a multiplier effect which will benefit over 3 billion people of the Indian Ocean rim. This will be a restatement of the Bali Yatra which we celebrate every Karthik Purnima day, just as we celebrate Saraswati on Vasanta Panchami day.
On the stage, we see the pictures of Balarama’s tirthayatra along Saraswati and of Dholavira on the banks of Saraswati. Centrepiece is Saraswati Devi, Vaak Devi, Vidya devi. She was Bharati, the very embodiment of learning and knowledge which every child who participated in the programme of today cherishes.
We have to undertake language studies of the Indian language union since there is substantial evidence for cultural interactions among various language speakers of India – the so-called language families which borrowed language features from one another and made them their own. This is called a linguistic area or language union (sprachbund).
I request, on behalf of Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti, the Government of Karnataka and enlightened citizens of the nation to support the future projects outlined to carry the revival of river Saraswati forward to achieve abhyudayam for the Indian Ocean Community, the Rashtram envisioned by the Rishis of Rigveda.
It will be my privilege to take you all to Ahmedabad for a dip in the River Saraswati and revive tirthasthanas visited by Sri Balarama in his journey along River Saraswati as narrated in the S’alya Parva or the Great Epic, Mahabharata.
(The above was an extract form the Presidential address delivered in University of Mysore Manasagangotri Auditorium on January 2, 2012 in a function organised by Babasaheb Apte Smarak Samiti and Itihas Sankalan Yojana to release three versions of books on Saraswati (elementary, high school and graduate levels) in all languages of the country in the august presence and asirvacanam of Pejawar Swami. On this occasion, many scientists and scholars who have contributed to Indian studies were honoured and felicitated by the Swamiji. The keynote address was delivered by Prof KS Valdiya, one of the scientists honoured on that day, together with Dr Raja Guru, Dr S Rammohan, Dr Adiga Sundara, Dr Narasimhan, Dr Jayasree, Dr Sharad Hebalkar, Shri Balmukund Pandey, Shri Haribhau Vaze, Shri CN Parchure.)
(The writer is at Sarawati Research Centre. Former Sr. Exec., Asian Development Bank, National President, Rama Setu Protection Movement)