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Rivers, such as the Sapta Sindhavah ("seven rivers" Sanskrit: सप्त सिन्धव:)[1] play a prominent part in the hymns of the Rig Veda, and consequently in early Hindu religion. Vedic texts have a wide geographical horizon, speaking of oceans, rivers, mountains and deserts. “Eight summits of the Earth, three shore or desert regions, seven rivers.” (asthau vyakhyat kakubhah prthivyam tri dhanva yojana sapta sindhun RV.I.35.8). The Vedic land is a land of the seven rivers flowing into the ocean. It encompasses the regions from Gandhara
Gandhara
to Kurukshetra.

Contents

1 Mythology 2 Seven Rivers

2.1 Identity of the Seven Rivers

3 Geography of the Rigveda 4 List 5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading

Mythology[edit] A recurring theme in the Yajurveda
Yajurveda
is that of Indra
Indra
slaying Vritra (literally "the obstacle"), liberating the rivers; in a variant of the myth, Indra
Indra
smashes the Vala cave, releasing the cows that were within. Though the two myths are separate,[2] rivers and cows are often poetically correlated in the Rigveda, for example in 3.33, a notable hymn describes the crossing of two swollen rivers by the chariots and wagons of the Bharata tribe:

3.33.1cd Like two bright mother cows who lick their youngling, Vipas and Sutudri
Sutudri
speed down their waters. (trans. Griffith)[3]

Seven Rivers[edit] The Seven Rivers are a group of seven chief rivers of uncertain or fluctuating identification (the number seven is of greater importance than the exact members of the group)- compare the Saptarishi
Saptarishi
of the Avesta
Avesta
(and also the later seven seas and the seven climes) . The Avesta's hapta həndu are preemptively equated with the Vedic Sapta Sindhavaḥ or vis-a-vis: in Vendidad 1.18 these are described to be the fifteenth of the sixteen lands created by Mazda.[4] Note: The term Sapta Sindhava, commonly used in Hindi and other Indian languages, is the nominative plural in Sanskrit (dropping the final visarga in conformity with the convention when expressing Sanskrit words in modern languages). Sapta Sindhu, often seen in English, is in the singular, and is therefore ungrammatical. Identity of the Seven Rivers[edit] It is not entirely clear how the Seven Rivers were intended to be enumerated. They are often located in northern India / eastern Pakistan. If the Sarasvati and the five major rivers of India are included (Sutudri, Parusni, Asikni, Vitasta, Vipas
Vipas
(Vipāś), the latter all tributaries of Sindhu/Indus), one river is missing, probably the Kubha. (The Sindhu
Sindhu
is a special case, having feminine or masculine gender). Other possibilities include the Arjikiya
Arjikiya
or Sushoma; compare also the list of ten rivers, both east and west of the Indus, in the Nadistuti sukta, RV 10.75. In 6.61.10, Sarasvati is called "she with seven sisters" (saptasvasā) indicating a group of eight rivers, the number seven being more important than the individual members (see also saptarshi, hapta karšuuar /haft keshvar in Avestan), so that the list of the Sapta Sindhava may not have been fixed or immutable. In RV 10.64.8 and RV 10.75.1, three groups of seven rivers are referred to (tríḥ saptá sasrâ nadíyaḥ "thrice seven wandering rivers"), as well as 99 rivers. The Sapta-Sindhava region was bounded by Saraswati in the east, by the Sindhu
Sindhu
in the west and the five in between were Satudru, Vipasa, Asikni, Parusni
Parusni
and Vitasta. Not all researchers agree with this interpretation. In his book Land of the Seven Rivers, writer Sanjeev Sanyal has argued that the "Sapta Sindhu" refers only to the Sarasvati and its own tributaries. If Sanyal is right, the Sapta Sindhava region only refers to a small area including Haryana
Haryana
and a part of north Rajasthan but leaving out most of Pakistan. According to his interpretation, "Sapta Sindhu" is only a small subset of the Rig Vedic terrain and its disproportionate importance derives from it being the original homeland of the victorious Bharata Trutsu tribe. Geography of the Rigveda[edit]

Geography of the Rigveda

Identification of Rigvedic rivers
Rigvedic rivers
is the single most important way of establishing the geography of the early Vedic civilization. Rivers with certain identifications stretch from eastern Afghanistan
Afghanistan
to the western Gangetic plain, clustering in the undivided Punjab (the region's name means "five rivers"). A number of names can be shown to have been re-applied to other rivers as the center of Vedic culture moved eastward from the central Vedic heartland in undivided Punjab. It is possible to establish a clear picture for the latest phase of the Rigveda, thanks to the Nadistuti sukta (10.75), which contains a geographically ordered list of rivers. The most prominent river of the Rigveda
Rigveda
is the Sarasvati, next to the Indus. The Rig Veda
Rig Veda
mentions Saraswati river as between Yamuna
Yamuna
to the East and river Sutlej
Sutlej
to the west. The Mahabharata
Mahabharata
clearly talks about the River
River
Saraswati drying up. The mighty and perennial Saraswati river flowed from the Himalayan Glaciers to the Rann of Kutch where it emptied into the Arabian sea. Dwaraka of Lord Krishna
Krishna
was part of this civilization.[5] Ganges was also flowing at that time into the Bay of Bengal. Saraswati started drying up in 4000 BC due to tectonic plate shifts which blocked the glacier source, and made this river dependant on rains, not melting ice. Gradually the whole river was buried under the Thar desert sand dunes, leaving only disconnected pools and lakes here and there. Yamuna
Yamuna
river soon started pouring into Ganges instead of Saraswati.[6] When the Saraswati river started drying up, the whole civilization may have migrated to fertile lands – some to Ganges, some to south west of India from Goa to Kerala. List[edit]

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In the geographical organization of the following list, it has to be kept in mind that some names appearing both in early and in late hymns may have been re-applied to new rivers during the composition of the Rigveda.

Kabul River
River
near Jalalabad

Swat River
River
in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Harī Rūd in Afghanistan

Northwestern Rivers (western tributaries of the Indus):

Trstama (Gilgit)? Susartu Anitabha (listed once, in 5.53.9, with the Afghan rivers Rasa (Avestan Rangha/Raŋhā), Kubha, Krumu, Sarayu
Sarayu
(Avest. Harōiiu) Rasa (on the upper Indus
Indus
(often a mythical river, Avestan Rangha, Scythian Rha) Svetya Kubha
Kubha
(Kabul), Greek Kophēn Krumu
Krumu
(Kurrum) Mehatnu (along with the Gomati and Krumu) Suvastu (Swat) in RV 8.19.37) Gauri (Panjkora)?? Kusava (Kunar)??

The Indus
Indus
and its minor eastern tributaries:

Sindhu
Sindhu
(Indus; (sindhu also means "stream/Giant River" generically) Susoma (Sohan) Arjikiya
Arjikiya
(Haro)?

Central Rivers (rivers of the Punjab):

Vitasta
Vitasta
(Jhelum) Asikni
Asikni
(Chenab) Parusni
Parusni
(Ravi) Vipas
Vipas
(Beas) Sutudri
Sutudri
(Sutlej) Marudvrdha

East-central Rivers (rivers of Haryana):

Sarasvati (References to the Sarasvati river in the Rigveda
Rigveda
are identified with the present-day Ghaggar River, although originally it might have been the name of the Arghandab and Helmand rivers, as a possible locus of early Rigvedic references.)[7] Drsadvati, Apaya (RV 3.23.4, Mahabharata
Mahabharata
Apaga.)

Eastern Rivers:

Asmanvati (Assan)? Yamuna Ganges Sarayu
Sarayu
in Uttar Pradesh Gomti or Adi Ganga in Uttar Pradesh Gomti Gandaki Silamavati? Urnavati? Yavyavati (Zhob river?)

See also[edit]

Ap (water) Aryan migration Nadistuti sukta Old European hydronymy Out of India theory Rigvedic deities River
River
goddess Samudra Zhetysu
Zhetysu
- 7 rivers of Central Asia

References[edit]

^ e.g. RV 2.12; RV 4.28; RV 8.24 ^ H.-P. Schmidt, Brhaspathi and Indra, Wiesbaden 1968 ^ http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv03033.htm ^ Gnoli 1989 pp.44–46 ^ Prasad, R. U. S. (2017-05-25). River
River
and Goddess Worship in India: Changing Perceptions and Manifestations of Sarasvati. Routledge. ISBN 9781351806541.  ^ http://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/104/01/0042.pdf ^ Kochhar, Rajesh (1999), "On the identity and chronology of the Ṛgvedic river Sarasvatī", in Roger Blench; Matthew Spriggs, Archaeology and Language III; Artefacts, languages and texts, Routledge, p. 262, ISBN 0-415-10054-2 

Further reading[edit]

Bryant, Edwin (2001), The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-513777-9  B. B. Lal (2005). The Homeland of the Aryans. Evidence of Rigvedic Flora and Fauna and Archaeology. Aryan Books. ISBN 8173052832.  Braj Basi Lal (2015). The Rigvedic People - 'Invaders'?/'Immigrants'? or Indigenous?. Aryan Books International. ISBN 978-81-7305-535-5.  Braj Basi Lal (2002). The Sarasvatī flows on: the continuity of Indian culture. Aryan Books International. ISBN 978-81-7305-202-6.  Chakrabarti, D. K., & Saini, S. (2009). The problem of the Sarasvati River
River
and notes on the archaeological geography of Haryana and Indian Panjab. New Delhi: Aryan Books International. Danino, Michel (2010), The Lost River
River
- On the trail of the Sarasvati, Penguin Books India  Eck, Diana L. (2012), India: A Sacred Geography, Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony, ISBN 978-0-385-53191-7  Gherardo Gnoli, De Zoroastre à Mani. Quatre leçons au Collège de France (Travaux de l’Institut d’Études Iraniennes de l’Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle 11), Paris (1985) Gupta, S.P. (ed.). 1995. The lost Saraswati and the Indus Civilization. Kusumanjali Prakashan, Jodhpur. K. D. Sethna The Problem of Aryan Origins, 1980, 1992; ISBN 81-85179-67-0 S.C. Sharma. 1974. The description of the rivers in the Rig Veda. The Geographical Observer, 10: 79-85. Shrikant G. Talageri, The Rigveda, a historical analysis, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi (chapter 4) Michael Witzel, Tracing the Vedic dialects in Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes ed. Caillat, Paris, 1989, 97–265.

v t e

Rigveda

Mandalas

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Deities

Devas

Agni Indra Soma Ushas

Visvedevas Maruts Ashvins Tvastar Rbhus Pushan Rudra Asuras

Mitra Varuna Aryaman Apam Napat

Demons

Vritra Dasas Danu Danavas

Rivers

Sapta Sindhu Nadistuti Sarasvati Sindhu Sarayu Rasā

Rishis

Saptarishi

Gritsamada Vishvamitra Vamadeva Atri Angiras Bharadvaja Vasishta

.