In Pragati:The Indus colony in Mesopotamia

Someone recently asked why sea voyages were prohibited in India. The answer is simple: sea voyages were not prohibited in India. How else do you explain the Indian Ocean Trading system where merchants — Gujarati vaniyas, Tamil and Telugu chettis, Malabar Mappilas, Saraswats, Navayats — traded in ports from Meleka to Aden? The June 2009 issue of Pragati had an article by Manmadhan Ullatil on this trading network.
But the history of sea voyages is much older; around 2000 B.C.E, there was a Meluhhan (identified as people from Indus region) colony in Mesopotamia. There was also a person who could read Meluhhan and Sumerian or Akkadian which could help in deciphering the Indus script. Read all about it in the latest issue of Pragati. The references can be found here.

3 thoughts on “In Pragati:The Indus colony in Mesopotamia

  1. When did the notion arise that crossing the seas was a caste pollutant? Of course, there were various ways around it – a ceremony or two might sort one out. Even Gandhi faced the wrath of his community when he wanted to go to England, and in fact his family lost considerable prestige among the merchants of Porbandar when he did go, despite performing the puja to cleanse him.

  2. The Art of Navigation & Navigating was born in the river Sindh over 6000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘NAVGATIH’. The word navy is also derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Nou’.
    So much for sea voyages being prohibited in India. Argh!

  3. After returning from a foreign voyage, it was compulsory to “stay away from the community for a prescribed period of time” and also “perform prayaschitta”. Reasons cited: (1) Spread of communicable diseases (2) Calming the mind after a long sojourn overseas.(A similar “quarantine” is prescribed for astronauts.American Indiand said it was “wrong” to bring back rocks from the moon”) Similarly, Ch. Shivaji was directed to perform “Ganga snan” and “prayaschitta” before entry into his own kingdom after returning from a victorious campaign against the Mughals. Also, in their 14 years of “vanvas” , the pandavas enter the region of “Anga “, whereupon several members of their entourage turn back because that region is “forbidden”. In recent times, my colleagues have reported about prostitutes who “will not entertain people from a certain community” due to prevalent social conditions. Travelling to the state of Rajasthan, I saw a large silver jar in the garden of the Jaipur maharaja. This was used to carry “gangajal” during his fathers’ visit to the court of Queen Victoria, for cooking and bathing. Unless our history is viewed through our eyes, our language and our love, it will elude us forever!

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