Rituals Religious Beliefs during Indus Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization existed during the Bronze Age from 3300 to 1300. This civilization was located mainly in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. This civilization prospered mainly around the Indus River basin which was centered along the Indus and the Punjab region. This region further extended into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab.
In terms of geography, the civilization was spread over an area of some 1,260,000 km. This large area made it the largest ancient civilization in the world. The Indus Valley is one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, like its other counterparts namely Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.
When the Indus Civilization reached its peak, it had a population of more than five million. The residents of the ancient Indus river valley, developed new techniques in metallurgy and handicraft. Carnal products, seal carving and such other products came to be manufactured in metals like copper, bronze, lead, and tin. The civilization was noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses.
The civilization is sometimes also referred to as the Indus Ghaggar-Hakra civilization or the Indus-Sarasvati civilization. The designation Indus-Sarasvati was based probably bacause the Ghaggar-Hakra River was identified with the Sarasvati River. This Sarasvati River was identified as the Nadistuti sukta in the Rig Veda. However, this usage is disputed on linguistic and geographical grounds.
The Harappan language, however, can neither be proved directly nor can its affiliation be made known. However, a probable relation would be to the Proto-Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language.
Many scholars tried to co-relate the Indus symbols and ritual objects with those used by the later Hindu and Buddhist cultures. But because the Indus script cannot be deciphered, no final conclusion can be drawn. Also, neither can one be certain about the precise meaning of symbols used in a particular period.
This is probably because the meanings of a specific symbol might have changed over a period time. Therefore, the meaning of symbols can only be inferred by examining the different contexts in which the symbolic objects and representations were found.
These symbols which were found during excavations along with the various artifacts bearing the Indus symbols so discovered, can be roughly classified into two categories namely symbols of religion and symbols of power. Popular among these were the religious symbols. These symbols comprised of artistic portrayal of natural phenomena, abstract designs, images of plants and animals. They also comprised of whimsical sequences of human and animal forms.
Also, a number of symbols of fertility were found in the form of male and female human figurines and stone objects. These symbolic representations of religion were underpinned by the symbols of power. These symbols of power comprised of wealth and social status. Such symbols set the rulers apart from the people and were used to mark the difference between public and private.
In this Indus Valley Civilization, one thing which has been observed about sexuality was the practice of fertility rituals. Early philosophy and theology related to sexuality may have developed during this time.