(Last Updated on : 23-02-2013)
Religion in Indus Valley Civilisation
is a subject matter which has not been available in any ancient texts or documents but rather in the inscriptions, seals, images and other materials. These have been excavated by various archaeologists at the site. The Harappan religion was polytheistic. Scholars are unable to draw a conclusion regarding the religion of Indus people. However, some historians are of the opinion that Harappan people were Hindus. No temple, however, has yet been discovered at the excavated site. Evidence for presence of Hinduism
is believed to have been present during the Harappan period. Phallic symbols, similar to that of the Hindu Shiva
Lingam, have been found in Harappa
. Various figures of the Mother Goddess, made out of clay have been found. It was considered as a symbol of fertility and was venerated by the people. A figure of a male god in a seated posture was also found. It was carved on a small stone seal.
Besides, a stone figure has been found with a white steatite head and bust. This figure is clothed in a robe which is carried over the left shoulder. This was considered a sacred symbol. The figure has a short beard and the upper lip is shaved. The hair is cropped and parted in the middle. The figure is decked up with a necklace. The eyes are half-shut suggesting yogic contemplation. Several pottery figurines suggest that female deities were worshipped as well. Probably it represented the Mother-Goddess, which symbolises fertility. Clay figures resemble the horns of a goat or bulls were also found suggesting that animal worship was common. The seal amulets and talismans of stone and pottery do indicate the religious attitude of the Harappan people.
A nude image of a deity with horns and 3 faces, seated on a stool with heals closely pressed together suggest some ritualistic posture. The early archaeologists called him Pashupati, the lord of cattle, as animals like deer
, antelope, rhinoceros
, tiger and buffalo surround him. His arms are adorned with bangles. Another seal-amulet shows a horned goddess in the midst of a Peepu
l or sacred fig-tree before which another horned deity is kneeling and doing obeisance. A row of female deities occupy the whole of the lower register of the seal-amulet, each figure wearing a spring on the head, a long pigtail behind. Stone objects suggest that veneration was paid to phallic symbols as well. Few of the phallic remains closely resemble the Hindu symbol of Shiva lingam. Tigers with a goddess seated on them have been found on seals. Carved figure of a snake has been discovered. Many seals reveal the symbol of swastika which is also found in other religions like Hinduism
etc. Dove was considered a sacred bird. Demons and demigods are suggested from figures fighting with animals.
Sun was regarded as one of the greatest gods. People believed in magic and superstitions also and wore amulets for some protection. A dancing-girl of Mohenjodaro
, a bronze figure, has also been found suggesting ritual dancing in the temples. Evidence shows that the Harappan people not only buried their dead but they also conducted cremations and kept the ashes in urns. The discovery of pottery items and ornaments in the burial grounds suggest that they might have believed in life after death. Temples or any kind of religious buildings have not been discovered yet. Though there are possibilities of a temple and Buddhist shrine towards the eastern region of the Great Bath site.
Excavated evidence seems to suggest that many of the features of modern Indian cults are derived from very ancient sources. In the Indus civilisation worship of the Shakti
, Lord Shiva
and his consorts, worship of the animals like the tiger, the bull, the goat and the snake and also the worship of Peepul tree
and the Neem tree
. The unicorn God probably represented 'Ma', while the cattle God possibly represented Goddess Kali
or Uma, the mother goddess. It has been recommended that four-armed deities are anticipated to be Gods like Lord Brahma
and Lord Vishnu, while the standing deities suggest Jain Yogis in the posture of Yoga
known as Kayot Sarga.