Sie sind auf Seite 1von 116


The Indus Valley’s Ancient Culture

- Its Seals, Script and Heroes -

Wim Borsboom

Triple Gem Press

© Copyright 2011, Wim Borsboom (Exclusive of quotes and illustrations)

Things we can be quite be sure about

(theoretically that is…)


“Praise the Lord of Love!”

Seal H-1997A

This artifact from the Indus Valley in India and Pakistan is between four and five
thousand years * old.
Because of its tastefully depicted theme of fertility of flora and fauna as well as the
quality of its still fresh appearance, and due to its unique shape it is quite a rare seal.
Referring to Kandarpa (the God of love), it reads and translates as:

'Nu he Priany' – ‘Prais) the Lord of Love!'

This publication introduces a series of ancient objects found in the Indus Valley of
prehistoric India.
By means of these archaeological artefacts - seals and seal tablets - dating from between
5000 and 4000 * years ago, I will present a theory that explains not only the Indus
Valleys script (and its spoken language) but also its cultural and spiritual roots - the roots
from which India's religious, artistic and cultural heritage has grown so copiously.

Insert a section the Unicorn here

* all dates with an asterisk to be adjusted, the IV Civilization is ca 2000 years older

Location of the Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley
straddles two

Pakistan and

The ancient Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) is archeologically known as the 'Harappan
Civilization', because its first excavated settlement was Harappa.
Harappa's excavation began in the 1920s in what at that time was the Punjab province of
British India. Harappa lies now in Pakistan.

The Harappan Civilization (or IVC) was a Copper / Bronze Age civilization that lasted
from 3300 to 1300 BCE * right up to the beginning of the Iron Age.

Before the Calamities

Spread out over an area of 1,260,000 km², which larger than the area of the ancient
Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations combined, the Indus Valley Civilization was
the largest civilization in the ancient world.

It was also one of the world's earliest urban civilizations, more urbanized than
Mesopotamia and Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Valley may have been home to a
population of well over five million people.

The valley was an enormous delta that was kept fertile by the mineral-rich waters of
seven rivers - the Sapta Sindhu - which flowed from the Himalayas. It was the homeland
of a civilization thriving and flourishing with commerce, agriculture, animal husbandry,
craftsmanship, and a long history of civility, culture and spirituality.

Although now this valley is called the Indus Valley (after its main river the Indus) up to
about 1300 BCE * its main rivers were the Sarasvati and an additional 6 rivers. Hence the
name Sapta Sindhu (the Sanskrit ‘sapta’ means seven).

The Sarasvati river has since dried up, but its elevated banks and sedimentation are still
present and visible on land-satellite pictures.

Its civil, moral, spiritual, literary, artistic, technological, mercantile and 'fun'
contributions to India and the World

The inhabitants of this ancient region developed:

1. New metallurgical techniques with which they produced copper, bronze, lead and
tin used for casting bronze implements and small sculptures,
2. A standardized weight and measuring system,
3. Handicrafts that produced carnelian ornaments, baked clay and very fine shell
bracelets, drilled glass-like beads sized from about 1 millimetre to 2 centimetres
in length,
4. A unique stone drilling technique using thin hard-stone drill bits,
5. The production of toys such as scaled down bullock carts, clay puppets, clay
animals with freely moving heads, mazes and games similar to chess,
6. Cotton clothing,
7. Dentistry,

8. Walled cities were built mainly out of large brick, along streets that used a pre-
planned grid system,
9. Covered roadside drainage systems and a simple but very effective garbage
collection system,
10. Multi-storied houses were built from mud brick but most often from baked clay
bricks. First floor rooms were arranged around an L shaped area for cattle and
11. Large public baths, private bathing rooms and private WCs (bathrooms) were
found in some cities,
12. Specially dug canals and irrigation channels, as most cities and settlements were
built close to rivers,
13. City storm water collection and re-distribution systems,
14. Port facilities for interurban and international trade using boats and barges,
15. Fruit tree cultivation and fruit pressing systems (baked ware sieves and mortar-
and-pestle like implements) to produce large quantities of fruit juice and paste,
16. Apiary:
a. the honey was used for sweetening and to make mead (soma),
b. the wax was collected for sealing and attaching arrow and lance heads to
shafts and handles,
17. Inter-racial relationships,
18. A non-hierarchical religious system based on hero-worship and legendary-story
19. A centralized administration system with professional inscribers, (I have found
some preliminary reasons to conclude that cursive writing was employed by a
highly trained exclusive group of scribes. Cursive writing and seal sign carving
was done by two distinct and separate professions: scribes and
20. An ingenious script that up to a year ago had not been successfully deciphered.
This script was carved on postage-stamp size baked soap-stone (steatite) pieces or
oblong baked silica-paste tablets. They had various formats, depending on their
function. Imprints were made in wax (perishable), soft clay and in firm silica-
paste to be baked later (thus also acquiring a protective glaze) Depending on their
shape, size and craftsmanship the seals or tablets were used:
a. for personal identification,
b. as a mark (mudra),
c. as tokens,
d. as votive medallions,
e. as tags for merchandize,
f. as seals for stamping and duplicating,
g. to pictorially tell short cartoon or comic-book style historical accounts,
legends and folk tales.

To date, over a thousand cities and settlements have been discovered. Among them are
the major urban centers of Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro, Dholavira, Kalibanga, Kot
Diji, etc..

The End of the Indus Valley Civilization

After around 1350 BCE *, a variety of different factors came into play that brought the
Harappan culture slowly an end. There is evidence of some very severe catastrophes:

1. A two hundred year period of drought,
2. Earthquakes both under the ocean floor and in the mountain ranges,
3. Tsunami flooding from the sea and river flooding from the mountains,
4. End of Ice-age climate change causing massive ice-melts in the Himalayas,
5. A huge natural river-dam (near Paonta Sahib close to Kurukshetra) broke through,
causing a river that used to flow into the Arabian Sea, to become part of the
Ganges River System (near Rishikesh). From that time the river flowed into the
Gulf of Bengal,
6. Sea level rises periodically as high as eleven meters. It was up 3 to 4 meters at the
end of the Harappan period. During this period also intense droughts took place.
There is evidence of a submerged city in the Bay of Kutch, by some (a.o. Dr. S.R.
Rao) considered to be Dwarka (Krishna’s city) or even more ancient cities (up to
12000 years old) as supported by astronomical data based on references in the Rig
Veda and Mahabharata.
7. As many rivers changed their course, most cities lost their connection to the rivers
and thus the sea, which jeopardized local, inter-urban as well as international
trade which eventually caused the population to move away - first to North East
of India and later to the South, even as far as the South Asian archipelago.


The Indus Valley and the Harappa Civilization
Where and What

The Sapta Sindhu valley and the Harappa Civilization

(North-West India and Pakistan)


A drawing by Dr. Mark Kenoyer of how ancient Harappa would have looked around
2200 BCE

On the peninsula at the bottom of the map above.


A reconstruction of a Dholavira gate with Signboard

(South on the map in the Rann of Kutch)
The signboard reads from right to left:

'Rangpur, city of the beloved Ravi, Skanda and Sarasvati.'

Clockwise from top left to centre:

The "Priest King",

Red Torso,
Children's Toy*,
Jewellery and Ornaments ,
Seals and Tablets*,
Brass Dancing Figure,
Terracotta Figurines,
Toy with Movable Head,
Perforated Terracotta Jar.

* from


The Indus Valley Civilization Reappraised
Its Ancient Language Understood
The Indus Valley Seals and Their Links to Ancient Indian Scriptures

An imprint of seal H-166a from Harappa.

(The interpretation of this seal appears at the end of this chapter.)

This chapter and the next eleven chapters will together tell and illustrate the story of
Shiva, Skanda (Murugan, Kirtikeya) and the Kṛttikā (Krittikas) as found in the Ramayana
and the Mahabharata, book 13 (Anusasana Parva), chapters 84-086.


1. A number of seals from the Indus (Sapta Sindhu) Valley, which appear to be
different from the norm, tell the story of Skanda, Shiva and the Kṛttikā as found in
various sections of the Mahabharata.
2. The signs on a variety of seals (the ones shown in the following chapters and
many other Indus Valley seals) can be deciphered according to the Sullivan Code
and can be read to contain the name of and references to Skanda.

The Strange Conception and Birth of a Six-headed Child...

Excerpt from the Mahabharata, Book 13 (Anusasana Parva), Chapters 84-86.

Bhishma said, 'The gods and the Rishis, O monarch, reduced to

great distress (by Taraka's prowess and the conduct of Ganga in
casting off Agni's seed), urged the six Krittikas to rear that child.
Amongst the celestial ladies there were none, save these, that could,
by their energy, bear the seed of Agni in their wombs.
The god of fire became exceedingly gratified with those goddesses
for their readiness to sustain the conception caused by the cast off
seed of Agni which was endued with his own high energy.
When the energy of Agni, O king, was divided into six portions and
placed within the channels (leading to the womb), the six Krittikas
began to nourish the portion that each held in her womb.
As the high-souled Kumara, however, began to grow within their
wombs, their bodies being afflicted by his energy, they failed to
obtain peace anywhere (in heaven or on earth).
Filled with energy as their bodies were, the time at last came for
delivery. All of them, it so happened, O prince of men, delivered at
the same time. Though held in six different wombs, yet all the
portions, as they came out, united into one.
The goddess Earth held the child, taking it up from a heap of gold.
Verily, the child, endued with excellent form, blazed with splendour
even like the god of Fire. Of beautiful features, he began to grow in
a delightful forest of reeds.
The six Krittikas beheld that child of theirs looking like the morning
sun in splendour. Filled with affection for him,--indeed, loving him
very much,--they began to rear him with the sustenance of their
breasts. In consequence of his having been born of the Krittikas and

reared by them, he came to be known throughout the three worlds as
Having sprung from the seed which had fallen off from Rudra he was
named Skanda, and because of his birth in the solitude of a forest of
reeds he came to be called by the name of Guha (the secret-born).
The gods numbering three and thirty, the points of the compass (in
their embodied forms) together with the deities presiding over them,
and Rudra and Dhatri and Vishnu and Yama and Pushan and
Aryaman and Bhaga, and Angas and Mitra and the Sadhyas and
Vasava and the Vasus and the Aswins and the Waters and the Wind
and the Firmament and Chandramas and all the Constellations and
the Planets and Surya, and all the Ricks and Samans and Yajuses in
their embodied forms, came there to behold that wonderful child who
was the son of the deity of blazing flames.
The Rishis uttered hymns of praise and the Gandharvas sang in
honour of that child called Kumara of six heads, twice six eyes, and
exceedingly devoted to the Brahmanas. His shoulders were broad,
and he had a dozen arms, and the splendour of his person resembled
that of fire and Aditya.
As he lay stretched on a clump of heath, the gods with the Rishis,
beholding him, became filled with great delight and regarded the
great Asura as already slain.
The deities then began to bring him diverse kinds of toys and articles
that could amuse him. As he played like a child, diverse kinds of toys
and birds were given unto him.
Garuda of excellent feathers gave unto him a child of his, viz., a
peacock endued with plumes of variegated hue.
The Rakshasas gave unto him a boar and a buffalo.
Aruna himself gave him a cock of fiery splendour.
Chandramas gave him a sheep, and Aditya gave him some dazzling
rays of his.
The mother of all kine, viz., Surabhi, gave him kine by hundreds and
Agni gave him a goat possessed of many good qualities.
Ila gave him an abundant quantity of flowers and fruit.
Sudhanwan gave him a riding chariot and a car of Kuvara.
Varuna gave him many auspicious and excellent, products of the
Ocean, with some elephants.
The chief of the celestials gave him lions and tigers and pards and
diverse kinds of feathery denizens of the air, and many terrible
beasts of prey and many umbrellas also of diverse kinds.

Proposition 1

The Theory

What is being proposed in this and the following chapters is a new appraisal and a re-
appraisal of eight different seals that together tell the story of Skanda and Shiva.

Seal M-1186A
This remarkable seal will be interpreted in much detail in a following chapter, for now
just notice the procession of seven female figures (the Kṛttikā) at the bottom of this seal.

The list below details various story themes from the Mahabharata:

1. Skanda's birth and the Kṛttikā (his six stepmothers).

Well, what is it, six or seven? There are usually seven Kṛttikā depicted (see the
illustration above)… Is there perhaps a seal that shows just six of them? If so,
then there is enough evidence to proceed... Yes, there is!
2. Skanda's fighting and slaying of the asura bull-king Mahisha and the asura Taraka
with a spear or lance... Is there a seal showing a warrior fighting a bull with a
lance (vel)? Yes, there is even a seal showing a warrior fighting a 'half human /
half bull' figure!
3. A number of gods presented a number of animals as gifts to Skanda for his
successful slaying of the Asura King Mahisha. Is there a seal that shows these
animals as a group? Yes, various animals surround the sitting meditating figure on
seal M-304a and cylind-5 (Kalyanaraman's website*) which are identical to the

story in the Mahabharata... except for one, the rhinoceros, but that will be
explained as this discrepancy is due to an interpretation and translation error.
4. A mango tree is featured in a story related to Skanda / Kirtikeya. The story relates
how the evil king Surapadma turned himself into a mango tree, upon which
Skanda / Kirtikeya splits the mango tree in half and a rooster and a peacock
emerge from the split trunk's branches. Is there a seal that depicts this theme? Yes
there are a number of them showing part of or the whole story line!
5. The accounts of Skanda's exploits have him go by many names: Kanda, Kumara,
Kartikeya, Guha (The hidden or mysterious one), Murugan, Velan (bearer of the
lance), Ahmuvan, Shadanan (six-faced, as Skanda is often depicted with six faces.
Remember he had six mothers.), Shashthinathan (that name has to do with
Skanda's victory in his fierce battle with Surapadma which is celebrated in South
India during 'Skanda Shashti'), Subrahmanya, etc. Are there sign inscriptions that
can be translated as showing one or more of those names? Yes, according to Sue
M. Sullivan's "Indus Script Dictionary", the names Kanda, Skanda and various
names that contain the sign for the number six, appear on a on a larger than
chance expected number of seals!
6. According to Skanda's birth accounts his father was either Shiva or Agni (who is
often equated with Shiva). Do these names appear on the seals? The name 'Shiva'
does not appear in the Rig Veda nor does it seem to appear on the seals, however
according to Sullivan's 'Indus Script Dictionary' the names Ravi, Agni and the
word 'ma' or 'a' (often standing in for Shiva) appear numerous times on at least 40
7. The father of Skanda is Shiva / Ravi or Agni, is there evidence of that on the seals?
Yes, on one of the seals Agni / Ravi's symbol (the wheel sign 'ra') is prominently
shown. Incidentally 'Ravi' means fire-bird and represents the sun traversing the
8. The brother of Skanda was Ganesha the elephant God, is there evidence of that on
the seals? Yes, on one seal the elephant appears prominently in relation to Skanda
and the elephant also appears on a number of other seals related to Skanda.
9. Is there evidence of a possible migration of cultural or religious ideas or practices,
or even the migration of Harappan Culture people to other parts of India, e.g the
Tamil South? A certain story - the contest between Kirtikeya / Skanda and
Ganesha, about who can circumnavigate the world the fastest and reach Shiva the
first, is not depicted on the Indus Valley seals or tablets. It should not be, as the
loser - Kirtikeya / Skanda and his travel companions - ended up elsewhere (in
East and South India), after leaving the Indus Valley, and thus that story could not
be depicted on any Indus Valley seals, as nobody who cared could have done that.
(K.V. Sarma -*) This is one of the few
instances where the 'absence of evidence' proves the 'evidence of absence'.

Additional questions to be considered:

1. Are the seals predating the Skanda Purana and the Mahabharata?
2. Is the Rig Veda predating the seals?
3. What spoken language does the Indus Valley script represent?

Proposition 2

A short Overview of the Sullivan Code

The Sullivan Code

Anthropologist S.M. Sullivan published her 'Indus Script Dictionary'* (Sebastopol, CA
USA ISBN 978-14507-7061-3) in early 2011, after she, by a fluke circumstance
happened on something that she recognized in Linear Elamite as a pictograph and
possibly a phoneme that could well be used to interpret or even a translate two particular
Harappa Culture seals.

After investigating more scripts (e.g. Brahmi) and finding more correlations, on a hunch
she thought, "What if some seal inscriptions are identifying first names?"
Subsequently she connected data from a 'baby-names' database (the Indian / Sanskrit
section) to the signs and phonemes she had already correlated and, lo and behold, the fits
were better than chance.
She took it from there, eventually, after she had deciphered about 90 signs, she had
enough to start her dictionary.
Her dictionary is very well illustrated with well over 1000 seals and their decipherment in
an easy Western alphabetical order. She added a selection of possible interpretations and
possible translations, as well as (in the second part of the dictionary) a profusion of notes
and background essays, some original and some with information lifted from Wikipedia -
all very helpful for anyone who felt the urge to also take this on while using her
dictionary as a source, reference and guide.

Relevant seals, seal tablets and their script-sign decipherments, as well as in depth
discussions will appear on the following slides.

Proposition 3

Discussion of Counter Arguments and Possible Anomalies

1. The ancient Indian texts contain such an abundance of stories, of course it is easy
to read many of those into the Indus Valley Civilization seals, one might even be
able to 'read them into' today's newspaper stories. Such projections can hardly be
used as evidence or proof…
2. The rhinoceros or the boar. There is evidence of a mis-interpretation and
mistranslation in later versions of the ancient scriptures and commentary text of a
particular Harappan Culture word that must have signified the single-horned
Indian rhinoceros - 'eka-zRnga' or 'one-tusked'. That term became translated as
'boar' rather than 'rhinoceros'. Subsequently (e.g. in Buddhist cave sculptures such
as in the Elephanta caves) Vishnu is accompanied by a boar instead of a rhino.
Only in Buddhist Khmer (current Cambodia) was the interpretation done right as
there the rhino appears with Vishnu instead of the boar.
3. Some slim human figures on the tablets and seals are usually identified as female,
in this theory they are identified as male. If so, is that supported by the
Mahabharata, Puranas and Rig Veda?
4. At least one scholar (Mahadevan and possibly Parpola) and one South Indian
researcher *(K.V. Sarma -, have
connected the Harappan Culture seals to India's ancient texts, so this theory is
nothing new! They may have but for different or the wrong reasons.

Proposition 4

A Short Account of how I Arrived at this Proposition

I grew up in a Catholic background in Holland, but very early in my life (1950) I

developed a great affinity for Hindu and Buddhist ideas and mythical stories from
Indonesia through books that could be obtained from a coffee bean importer and a peanut
oil company both with old oriental connections.
Collecting a coupons by buying more coffee or peanut butter would enable you to collect
books with beautiful color photographs for free. One such book was titled "Bali in Color"
Although being Dutch, and there still being remnants of a colonial past, it was
nevertheless rare for a six year old child to have an interest in 'things exotic'.

Indra Kamadjojo

When I was ten years old, a favourite TV program of mine offered even more oriental
perspectives, as someone from Indonesia (Indra Kamadjojo) made me familiar with some
simple and rudimentary stories and exotic animals like elephants, peacocks and
crocodiles that figured in so many of the ancient Hindu legends he was telling us.
Of course such youthful interests enabled me greatly to later discover obvious links
between the narrative Indus Valley seals and the tales I remembered.

I loved learning and eventually I studied to be a schoolteacher while being especially
interested in language but foremostly the origin of languages and thus etymology, so very
early on I learned some Sanskrit and even a bit of Sumerian.

In 1994 my interest in Hinduism and Buddhism got another boost and I also learned
about the Indus Valley Civilization and its un-deciphered script. Many years later, in
2008, during an extended visit to India I connected up again with my interest in Sanskrit.

In 2009 a friend of mine invited me to a conference on the Indus Valley Civilization in

California and since I have been working on understanding its seals and tablets.
Somehow I never attempted to decipher the script, what was more important to me was
getting a feel for the cultural background of the original Indus Valley inhabitants - - I
wanted to understand those ancient people, their culture, their spirituality.

In the beginning of 2011 after another visit to India, I familiarized myself with the
"Sullivan Code," a decipherment of the Indus Valley script which enabled me to slowly
read the inscriptions on the IVC seals. I quickly noticed that there was a high number of
occurrences of the names Ravi (Shiva) and Kanda or Skanda and then... suddenly... I
remembered one particular tale about a deer, a hunter in a tree and a tiger.
It was the name Kanda, that triggered it, as for one reason or another the Indonesian story
teller from my youth had named the hunted deer 'Kanta'. I then easily recalled a number
of narrative IVC seals showing... a man in a tree, a tiger and a Shiva-like figure

Eventually I ran across the bird seal above (H 166a) in the collection of photographs on
Dr. S. Kalyanaraman's website and I wondered what that peculiarly shaped seal
signified... But what I was very sure about from the very first moment I saw that seal,
was that the bird was a peacock and not some other bird like an eagle or so.

When I figured out (with the help of Pradipta Banerjee) that the bird on that seal could
very well be Skanda's vehicle Parvani - the snake killing peacock - I remembered from
my Mahabharata readings that Skanda (also known as Kumara, Guha, Muragan or
Kārtikey) 'the seed' of Rudra / Agni / Shiva was 'brought forth' and 'brought up' by six of
the seven sisters known as the Kṛttikā, the spouses of the Saptarṣi sages.
I had already noticed that there was one rather unknown seal that showed six instead of
seven of the Kṛttikā. (Coming up in the next chapter.)

It eventually dawned on me that a number of 'different from the norm' cartoon or comic
book-like seals could very well be pictorial accounts of the life of Skanda, e.g. how he
was begotten and by whom he was raised, themes I was somewhat familiar with since
early youth.

I then looked up and read the section of the Mahabharata (book thirteen chapter 84 -86)
which tells of the exploits of Skanda, and I realized how the story of Skanda in the
Mahabharata and the various depictions on a number of seals and tablets from the Indus
Valley offered parallel narratives.


1. A number (I am showing eight) of different and distinctive Indus Valley seals

together, tell the story of Skanda and the Kṛttikā.
2. The name of the main character in that story can be identified as Skanda in the
script on a number of applicable seals.

Regarding the Illustration

Original seal H-166 a & b

Right - Parvani the peacock - Skanda's vahana (mount or vehicle).

Notice the shape of a peacock in the centre of this seal, its tail is down. You can see the
drooping tail just to the right of the triangle in the centre. (It is much clearer on the
imprint at the beginning of this chapter - there it is to the left of the triangle in the centre.)

About the diamond shape and edge of this seal:

It looks to me that the chipped pattern is not original; instead of a diamond shape this seal
might have been square, the short fragmented horizontal lines at the top and bottom seem
to suggest it.
It was perhaps square with a diamond shape inside containing the bird/peacock symbol.
To be sure on that we would need to have the physical specimen to inspect the chipped

Could the wiggly lines at the top left and right above the spread wings be snakes?

Left - The symbolism of the cross, although it appears frequently on many seals, is not
clear as yet.



How One of Shiva's Sons (Skanda) was Born from Six Mothers

Seal M-1186A

Skanda's Birth - Mahabharata Book 13 (Anusasana Parva), Chapter 84

We have seen the following quote in a previous chapter, but this time we are
concentrating on the 'bringing forth' and 'bringing up' of Skanda by the sisters known as
the Kṛttikā, the spouses of the Saptarṣi sages..

Note: In this part of the Mahabharata, Shiva is equated with Agni / Rudra, and Skanda
appears also under the names Kumara, Guha and Kartikeya.

Seal HR-4161

Bhishma said, 'The gods and the Rishis, O monarch, reduced to great distress [...],
urged the six Krittikas to rear that child. Amongst the celestial ladies there were
none, save these, that could, by their energy, bear the seed of Agni in their wombs.
The god of fire became exceedingly gratified with those goddesses for their
readiness to sustain the conception caused by the cast off seed of Agni which was
endued with his own high energy. When the energy of Agni, O king, was divided
into six portions and placed within the channels (leading to the womb), the six
Krittikas began to nourish the portion that each held in her womb.
As the high-souled Kumara, however, began to grow within their wombs, their
bodies being afflicted by his energy, they failed to obtain peace anywhere (in
heaven or on earth). Filled with energy as their bodies were, the time at last came
for delivery.
All of them, it so happened, O prince of men, delivered at the same time. Though
held in six different wombs, yet all the portions, as they came out, united into one.
The goddess Earth held the child, taking it up from a heap of gold. Verily, the
child, endued with excellent form, blazed with splendour even like the god of Fire.
Of beautiful features, he began to grow in a delightful forest of reeds.
The six Krittikas beheld that child of theirs looking like the morning sun in
splendour. Filled with affection for him,--indeed, loving him very much,--they
began to rear him with the sustenance of their breasts. In consequence of his
having been born of the Krittikas and reared by them, he came to be known
throughout the three worlds as Kartikeya.
Having sprung from the seed which had fallen off from Rudra he was named
Skanda, and because of his birth in the solitude of a forest of reeds he came to be
called by the name of Guha (the secret-born).'

Seals M-0442at, M-0442bt, HR-4161

Let's compare a number of seals that show six or seven standing female figures, it
appears as though they are participating in some kind of procession.
In most current literature in which these seals are discussed, the seven (or six) ladies are
seen as representing the Pleiades, a formation of seven stars. While not discounting that
interpretation (after all, the Pleiades feature in the constellation Taurus... the Bull), for the
purpose of the theory presented here I am putting that aside.

Notice that the two seals on the right only have six females (Arundathi is missing) while
the left seal shows seven.
We will find out why that is in following chapters.

Notice a genuflecting or hunched figure in a praising or offering pose on many of these


Note as well the composite animal and the standing figure in the strangely split tree.
This will be dealt with in much detail later on.

I will also be explaining why that tree has that peculiar shape in a following chapter.

Seal M 417a

This round seal fragment features six different animal heads - well, that is if it wasn't
broken - we will find out later why six, there are two reasons.


What is so Special about a Six Headed God in India?

Seal M-304a Seal M-1186A

It looks a bit confusing, but when one looks carefully, it can be seen that both seals have
almost identical sign inscriptions *. That may be hard to distinguish, so let's take some
time to check it out.

The left seal.

Notice that in the top left corner you see a little man-like figure. In this particular case the
inscriptions starts from there. In sequence you see:

• two X or scissor-like signs,

• a U with two little vertical stripes inside at the top, each leg of that U has two tiny
horizontal lines on the outside (that is an important detail to remember as it
contains a hidden clue that comes in handy later when we have to unravel a small
• next you see an upright fish,
• then another U - a bit narrower and it is without those little vertical stripes.

The right seal.

Also notice that you can distinguish a vague little man-like figure on this seal, but now in
the top right corner.
The script begins in the middle, at the top of the seal.

Again in sequence, we can distinguish:

• two X like signs, although the second one is damaged and this seal seems to have
been carved by a different inscriber,
• the U sign is there again but it is very heavily damaged, but I'm sure that it is the
same sign as on the other seal,
• then the inscriber moved down and just below one of the horns of that strange
composite animal, he found room for the fish sign,
• to its right is another U sign (also damaged).

Each seal depicts a different scene from 'the same page', so to speak, of the Mahabharata,
book 13, chapters 84-86. (See chapter two. )

Seals ???

As per the Sullivan Code the left seal reads from left to right:
• 'ash-ash-in-ma-an', and the right seal:
• 'ash-ash-in-ma-an', (the 'in' sign is damaged).

I am proposing that the figure in the double-trunked tree on the "procession seal" as well
as the seated figure on the other seal is Skanda **.

Like many Indian gods Skanda has many names, some of his are: Subrahmanya, Kanda,
Kumara, Kartikeya, Guha, Murugan, Velan, Sanmukha, Shadanana, Skanda and Guha. In
the southern states of India, Kartikeya is a popular deity and is better known as
MuruganAhmuvan but also:

• Shadanana (six-faced, as Skanda is often depicted with six faces. Remember he

had six mothers)
• Shashthinathan (Skanda is known as the Lord who came out victorious during the
period of Shashti, which has to do with Skanda's victory in his fierce battle with
Surapadma - and celebrated in South India during 'Skanda Shashti'.)

Of particular interest are the last two names: Shashthinathan and Shadana.

Shadana - six-headed Skanda ***

Now let's look at the deciphered inscriptions above, it is clear that these inscriptions were
executed by different scribes, but apart from their spelling (e.g. the scissor-like signs, the
fish signs, etc.) they are identical:
'ashashinmaan', which can be read as 'shashinmaan'

As 'sha' stands for six in Sanskrit and as Skanda is six-headed (Shadana), his epitheth
Shashthinathan makes sense, it reminds us that he was brought forth from the seed of
Shiva and brought up by six mothers, the Kṛttikā.


* Egbert Richter-Ushanas also made note of this.

** Both Professor Asko Parpola and Dr. Iravatham Mahadevan and a few other
researchers at one point proposed a link between the Indus Valley Culture and Skanda -
albeit for different reasons. Unfortunately they never pursued those links further. Here we
have linguistic support for that link, as well as for what is proposed here - the link
between the narrative seals and the ancient Hindu scripts such as the Mahabharata... oh,
and of course it also supports the Sullivan Code.


Lord of the Animals

Cylinder Seal from Musee le Louvre

Stamping this cylinder-seal into clay caused the
duplication of various figures at the left and right edges.

The above is a rare cylinder-seal imprint, showing across two horizontal registers a
number of creatures:

• a standing horned figure with pipal tree headgear standing in front of a table,
• a water-buffalo,
• a markhor (goat),
• a rhinoceros,
• a peacock,
• a zebu,
• a horned seahorse-like animal,
• an insect-like creature, possibly a honeybee,
• a snakelike shape,
• a male figure flanked by two upright tigers,
• three trees,
• two vertical fishes (which might be script signs).

From the Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Section LXXXVI:

• Garuda of excellent feathers gave unto him a child of his, viz.

• a peacock endued with plumes of variegated hue.
• The Rakshasas gave unto him a boar and a buffalo.
• Aruna himself gave him a cock of fiery splendour.
• Chandramas gave him a sheep, and

• Aditya gave him some dazzling rays of his.
• The mother of all kine, viz., Surabhi, gave him kine by hundreds and thousands.
• Agni gave him a goat possessed of many good qualities.
• Ila gave him an abundant quantity of flowers and fruit.
• Sudhanwan gave him a riding chariot and a car of Kuvara*.
• Varuna gave him many auspicious and excellent, products of the Ocean, with
some elephants.
• The chief of the celestials gave him lions and tigers and pards and diverse kinds
of feathery denizens of the air, and many terrible beasts of prey..."

* 'car of Kuvara' - 'car' is a usual translation of the word 'vāhana', but 'vāhana' can also
be translated as vehicle or mount.

A little earlier in the Mahabharata account, even just after Skanda had been born, the
Gods already anticipated his heroic deeds, one of them being the slaying of the evil Asura
king Mahisha, and presented him:

• a peacock,
• a boar,
• a buffalo,
• a cock,
• a goat,
• a ram,
• elephants,
• lions,
• tigers,
• splendour,
• etc.

Seal M 417a and Seal ???

Comparing the animals

Is it a coincidence that one of the seals, the one with Skanda, the seated figure, is
surrounded by a selection of animals?
Is it a coincidence that the list of animals - Skanda's divine presents - include* the ones
seen on this and other seals: square, round and cylindrical?

The figure on the seal with Skanda is often identified as 'Lord of the Animals', although
the validity of that appellation has many times been disputed.

What about that very special round seal? Is there a horse on the round seal-fragment?
Looking carefully one can identify four animals from the above list, it keeps us guessing
which animals the fifth and the sixth might have been... Perhaps the rhino and the
elephant - there seems to be enough room for an elephant's large head and trunk.
In a later chapter we will find out why all of the seals shown in this chapter feature
depictions of one or two male figures.


* Note that the only anomaly is the rhinoceros, it is the only animal that does not appear
in the Sanskrit version of the Mahabharata.
But we will sort that out later when we find out that this is not an anomaly in the seals,
but a possible anomaly in the old scriptures - an interpretation error that may have
happened very long ago and which has never been caught except... by Pali speaking
Buddhists in the land of Khmer (now Cambodia).
Interestingly according to Hindu-Buddhist tradition the rhinoceros is the avatar of Skanda
as well as the vehicle (vāhana is often called the deity's mount) of Agni, Skanda's father.

Skanda's Major Heroic Act


What we already know about this six-headed hero

The reader should already know from the Mahabharata quote in Chapter Two, why
Skanda needed to be born, but the Mahabharata language is quite archaic, so let me tell
why in modern language.

There was this evil king Mahisha and his brothers. They were terrorizing the population
of many kingdoms, even the heavenly kingdoms, so Shiva got petitioned to do something
about it.

The problem was though that Shiva went through a stage in his life in which he was
devoting all his time to meditation, so he did not feel like taking time out to fight this evil
king. Eventually though he got talked into producing a child who could at some point
take on the asuras.
Well, even the sexual act wasn't something that Shiva was into at the time, so he devised
a plan. Actually he got quite excited by this clever plan of his. He knew that someone
was needed with more talent than just one single normal human being, so rather than
having intercourse with his spouse Parvati, he decided to produce a copious amount of
sperm and dispense of it in a rather ingenious way: he dropped it in the river Ganges...
No, don't worry, he made sure it didn't go to waste because he put the word out and many
ladies gotto know about it... (Perhaps he invented the first human fertility lab).
As it turned out, six ladies - the Kritikas - were waiting for a chance to carry his child.
But rather than playing favourites, Shiva ensured that all six got pregnant at once while
bathing in the river Ganges... (Eh... or did they visit Shiva's lab?)
In any case, it did not take long for... Surprise!... ONE boy to be born, but one boy with
SIX heads or, to say it differently, one boy with the skills of six.

The boy was hardly even born or already he was given plenty of gifts, no, not just some
baby toys. No, already, before he could even walk, he was give 'ownership' of the animal
kingdom and boy did that come in handy for the things he had to pull off...
Apparently, when he was six years old he was already winning heroic battles.
(Keep his young age in mind, because we will see in upcoming chapters how his youthful
demeanor features in pretty well all his exploits.)

Skanda's names

This boy had many names, one was Kirtyikeya, because his mothers were those six ladies
who are starring in this story - the Krititkas. Another name was Murugan (Murukan), and
also Kumaran, and of course Shadanan - meaning 'six-faced', but that is obvious.
But he had many lofty names as well, one of which was Subrahmanya.
His most likeable and popular name though was Skanda.... a kind of humorous naughty
name actually, well... eh...humorous, some would call it uncouth... It had to do with the
way Shiva had delivered (dropped) his seed...

Mahisha, the Bull King

Collected from Wikipedia:

In Hindu mythology, Mahishasura was an asura, a demonic king.

Mahisha's capital is currently known as Mysore, a city in Karnataka. His
kingdom is mentioned in Mahabharata, though Puranas (especially Markandeya
Purana) gives more information. The Sanskrit word Mahisha means a buffalo.
Mahishasura's father Rambha was king of the asuras, and he once fell in love
with a water buffalo (Princess Shyamala, cursed to be a buffalo); Mahishasura
was born out of this union. He was therefore able to change between human and
buffalo form at will (mahisha is Sanskrit word for buffalo).

He terrorized heaven (Swarga Loka) and earth (Prithvi) and even invaded heaven,
defeating the king of gods Indra, and he drove all the gods (devas) out of heaven.
The gods then went into conclave to decide what could be done with this
invincible asura.

It was then decided that Shiva should produce a son to fight Mahisha, and we already
know how that happened.

Skanda's work

Skanda had to somehow get rid of that beast of a man, the Asura king Mahisha, as well as
his brothers. How did he pull it off to take them out?
It is rather complicated, there were many fights with these evil brothers all over India. In
this chapter, we will just concentrate on one heroic act Skanda's/Muruga's conquering of
In that fight it also becomes clear why Skanda is connected to a peacock and a rooster.

A statue of Mahishasura Surapadma in Chamundi Hills, Mysore.

Skanda-Muragan and Mahisha-Surapadma... the fight

from: Pg. 83

Mahisha-Surapadma transforms himself into a

monstrous and frightening upside-down mango tree.

Skanda-Murugan uses his spear to split the tree in half to destroy Mahisha-Surapadma.
Notice the split trees, they are upside down, just as in the Skanda Purana stories.
Out of one half of the tree comes the rooster, and from the other half the peacock. This
peacock then becomes Skanda's vehicle or vāhana (वाहन).

The rooster has become Skanda's banner.

Surapadma became Skanda's a peacock vāhana (detail on pottery).

The peacock and the rooster elements both appear in the Skanda Purana stories and
feature in a number of seals.

Two trunks or a split tree?

Detail of the 'procession' seal DK-6847 (see chapter three).

Notice that the split trees around the two standing figures only show leaves on their outer
sides. The leaves are 'vel' or lance-tip like (lanceolate).

The peacock, the rooster, the split tree and Surapadma's fate...

(This narrative seal tablet will be dealt with in depth in Chapter Eight.)

Surapadma eventually asked for his life to be spared, Skanda/Muruga obliged, providing
that he would be his peacock vāhana (vehicle).
Notice that this tablet shows Surapadma in a position of devotion, he is even wearing
headgear that looks like a peacock. Notice also that what looks like a rooster is on a stool
behind him.

The figure in the split tree (an arch open at the top)

In that same chapter we will find out that the figure in the split or double-trunk tree is
Skanda *.

The figure under the arch (an arch closed at the top)

There are a number of seals and tablets that show an arched tree (the opening is below)
inside which is a standing figure... Is that the same tree and are the figures the same
person? Apparently not!

The inscription according to the Sullivan code reads (from right to left):

In Chapter Ten we will find out that that would be Vishnu...

* ‘ skandati’ (Skt) means ‘be split’ (Uschi)

Skanda fighting the Asuras

According to the Mahabharata Book 13 Anusasana Parva, and the Skanda Purana,
Skanda fought many fierce asuras, three of them being brothers, there are various
• In one version the demon Surapadma changed himself into a mango tree in order
escape Skanda, but Skanda split the tree in half with his lance, resulting in two
half trunks and... mysteriously also two birds: the rooster and the peacock.
• In another account Skanda fought Taraka and his associate Kiravuncan (or was it
Taraka's brother Mahisha, the versions differ) and he overcame them single-
• In another fight he met Mahisha again, Mahisha the Asura King (mahisha means
buffalo) whom he finally killed with his spear. (bottom right)

The central figure in the seals above is often identified as female, especially in the bottom
right seal, but that 'breast' is probably a damage mark. However the artist has attempted to
portray Skanda's youth. Skanda (often under the name Kumara) is usually identified as

"As he lay stretched [just being born] on a clump of heath, the gods with the
Rishis, beholding him, became filled with great delight and regarded the great
Asura as already slain."

Like many Indian gods Skanda has many names, some of his are: Kanda, Kumara,
Kartikeya, Guha, Murugan, Velan, Ahmuvan but also:

• Shadanan ('six-faced', as Skanda is often depicted with six faces. Remember he

had six mothers)
• Shashthinathan (that name has to do with Skanda's victory in his fierce battle with
Surapadma which is celebrated in South India during 'Skanda Shashti'.)

Of particular interest are the last two names: Shadanan and Shashthinath... notice the "sh"
sounds in their names.

Let's look at the deciphered inscriptions above.
According to the Sullivan code the inscriptions read:

• aSH-nta-va-ku-an
• ra-chi-an-SH-aSH-an-kam
• SHi-chi-vi-ma-ni

When we look carefully we notice that they all have the "sh" sound in common: ash, sh,
Could it be that the sounds "ash, sh and shi" have to do with the above mentioned names
of Skanda: Shadanan and Shashthinath, the "ash or sh" standing for six? Remember
Skanda was six-headed as he was brought forth and brought up by six mothers, the
(more to come)

The two pictures at the bottom (one horizontal the other vertical) of the collage above, are
two sides of the same seal.

It was the fact that they ARE on one and the same seal that made me investigate whether
the standing figure could by any chance be Skanda.
The fact that none of the standing figures on the seals above look the way other male and
female figures look on other seals (e.g. on the 'procession' seals they all have ribboned
kind of pony-tails, bangles and most are dressed) but instead these seals show someone
with short hair (could even be curly). That made me think it was a youthful person... a
young offspring of the six Krittikas and Shiva-Agni-Rudra.

Subsequently, when googling images of Skanda (Kumara, etc.) I was struck by the many
youthful depictions and characterizations of him. I quote:

"Justifying his name Kumara, he is shown here as a handsome youth, bright like
the morning sun. The lance (Vel) he holds in his left hand is said to have been a
gift from his mother Parvati. The right arm is raised in the abhaya mudra, or the
gesture of fearlessness. He wears a karandamukuta - the high crown which
signifies a deity's exalted status - and which here eminently suits the youth who
was destined to be the commander of gods.

By the way, Kenoyer is careful not to assign a gender to this seal's standing figure (in
spite of the possible breast), but he also calls the two animals lions, now IMO that is not
right, but I think he calls them lions and not tigers because tigers are not mentioned in the
Rig Veda. However the Skanda Purana and Mahabharata mentions tiger(s) as well as
lion(s) in similar versions of the same story theme.
The above seals though IMO show tigers...

About the elephant on this seal, as far as I know elephants do not come up in Lilitu's tales.

Ganesh by the way is Skanda's brother (both a-sexually fathered by Shiva).

This brother is involved in the lovely story of Skanda the "youthful god’s amorous
relationship with Valli" a young country-girl. Ganesh appears as a frightening elephant to
scare the young girl into the arms of Skanda who though, in this story, had disguised
himself as an old man (swami) to get closer to the girl.

Could there be a seal depicting something like that...


* Lilith / Lilitu definitely has lions, it is part of her story, lions licked her tears...
"Lilitu wept for the lions
She cradled their heads in her arms
The lions awoke to her tears
The lions licked away her tears and became strong
They became Lilitu's loyal friends"

The peacock, the rooster, the split tree and Surapadma's fate...

Figure 1
Seal tablet M-488

Oblong seals like the illustration above are usually called tablets. What is shown is one
side of a prism shaped artifact that is about four cm long and 1,5 cm wide with three
faces. Typically each face of this kind of tablet has a narrative scene, sign inscriptions or
a combination of script and scene, sometimes one of the faces is blank. (See the
illustration at the very end for the three faces of this tablet.)

Figure 2
From left to right:

• A rooster (?) on a low table,

• A 'two-in one ' presentation of a peacock and a horned devotee seen from the side,

This horned devotee is Surapadma who, after he was defeated, asked Skanda/Muruka
to spare his life. Skanda/Muruka obliged, providing that Surapadma would be his
peacock vāhana.

• A composite creature,
• A standing horned figure (Skanda/Muruga) in a double-trunked upside-down tree.

As we have seen in Chapter Six, Skanda/Muruga split a mango tree in half with his lance
after he saw that demon/asura Surapadma had changed himself into an upside-

down mango tree in the hope of escaping defeat by Skanda, which, as we know, was to
no avail. (By the way, one of Skanda's names is Velan - the lance bearer.)
The right side of this tablet depicts the result of Skanda's blow, two half tree trunks on
both sides of a standing figure...

Remember that after the tree was split, that two fowl emerged from its branches: a rooster
and a peacock!
The rooster became Skanda's banner emblem and the peacock (Surapadma really) his ride
Note that there are no leaves on the inner sides of the two half-trunks.

Figure 3
Seal DK 6847 (2000 1900 BCE)
(This is the same 'Procession' seal that we have encountered before, except now the
photograph looks golden as it was taken under special lighting.)

Let's compare figures 2 and 3.

Both show a standing person in a split tree, both split trees have no leaves on their inner
sides, both seals have a devotee making an offering (which, as we now know is one of the
three evil Asura brothers: Surapadma), and both seals feature a composite animal. In
figure 3 however, the animal has a human face (in profile) and is shown to be even more
complex than the composite animal in figure 2.

This creature in figure 3 is composed of:

• a markhor/goat (horns),
• an elephant (the trunk, usually featured on other seals that show this creature, is

• a zebu (its neck/chest),
• a water buffalo (its rump),
• a tiger (the back side),
• a bird (bird feet),
• a human face in profile.

The ritual implement on the small table in front of the kneeling devotee might
be, according to professor John C. Huntington, "a rather standard pujari’s offering tray..."
the two small cup-like extensions on it intended for holding ghee.
http://kaladarshan.arts.ohio- (Slides 81-83)

The small left-centre square shape could well be Skanda's banner showing a rooster, but
it could also be an Indus script sign ('kam') possible meaning 'beloved'.

The person who stands inside that split-trunk tree is Skanda/Muruga...

We will find out why in an upcoming chapter.


The Deer Hunter in the Tree, the Tiger and the Shiva Lingam

The deer hunter in the tree, the tiger and the Shiva lingam

The painting at the top of the collage is from:

The popular story of 'The hunter in the tree, the tiger and Shiva' (associated with Maha
Shivaratri) is related to a similar recurring theme found on a number of Indus Valley
seals and seal tablets.

Please see the collage above before reading the story.

The Shiva Purana and Shanti Parva tell the story of Lord Shiva and the hunter Lubdhaka.
Before I tell that story it should be realized that the hero of that story, Lubdhaka, was our
original Skanda. Similar stories about Skanda were told in other parts of India where the
hero also acquired different names like Murugan or Kartikeya, but over time I found out
that it was all about Skanda. On the seals his name is usually spelled Kanta.

"Lubdhaka, a hunter was roaming in the jungle on the banks of the Kolidum River.
Suddenly he heard the growl of a tiger while he was chasing a deer. To put
himself in safety from the tiger, he ran as fast as he could to the closest-by tree
and climbed in it. The tiger just waited at the foot of the tree, not intending to
All through the night, the hunter had no choice but to stay in the tree. But to keep
himself from falling asleep (afraid that he would fall if he didn't) he nervously
kept plucking the leaves of the tree's branches one by one and dropped them to
the ground below, chanting all the while.
He did not know it, but at the foot of the tree (a Bilva or Bael tree) was a Shiva
Lingam. Without realizing it Lubdhaka was dropping Shiva's favorite Bilva leaves
on the Lingam.
By sunrise, when the hunter looked down to see if the tiger had gone, he didn't see
the tiger, but instead in its place was Lord Shiva.
The hunter quickly climbed down and immediately prostrated himself before the
lord, and while Shiva blessed him, Lubdhaka became liberated from samsara,
attaining moksha."

Looking at the four seals beneath the painting, we see the figure in the tree - the fearful
hunter - and we see how the tiger is patiently waiting. The tree on the seals is the Bilva or
Bael tree.

What is missing on the seals is the Shiva Lingam that figures in the story. But quite likely
the devotion to Shiva in that specific Lingam format had not developed to that extent yet
when these seals were produced in the Indus Valley.
Throughout India in the country-side one finds Lingam stones along the wayside. The
Lingam picture in the collage was taken on Elephanta Island, it was under a Bael tree.

The brown coloured seal also shows a crocodile and possibly a water buffalo, indicating
that this was in the proximity of water, a river, in the story named the Kolidum river.

I placed another seal next to the painting, suggesting that the figure who is in a pose of
devotion to Shiva, is the hunter from the story.
As certain details in the more recently composed Shiva Purana and Shanti Parva versions
are not on the seals, the seals must be predating the Purana versions.
Some time ago, after I drew the above conclusions, my next step was to find out if the
inscriptions on the seals were indeed about Shiva. As I found no corroboration in other
decipherment attempts I decided to use Sue Sullivan's (See chapter two) decipherment in

her 'Indus Script Dictionary' to read and interpret the various inscriptions on the seals
shown. If the inscriptions were indeed about Shiva, the conclusion I drew about the
relationship of these seals to an early origin of the hunter story would be supported; as
well, it would lend support to Sue Sullivan's decipherment to be on the right track.

Decipherment and reading as per 'The Sullivan Code':

Bottom left (M 310a): 'ash-an/selv-kam' (Shiva beloved son),

Bottom middle (K 049): 'Aa-sau-ja' (Shiva associated with Soma),
Bottom right (M 309a): 'ra-vi-ta-an-na-ma-a' (Greetings Ravi warrior)

Related modern day videos:

The first of the two videos links above is an inspirational video that contains the legend
of the hunter in the tree, the deer, the lingam and Shiva, but it does not talk about the tiger.
The second link is a delightful animation with... the tiger

Sequence of this discovery:

1. As far as I know a connection between the

'hunter/tiger/tree/Shiva/lingam/moksha' story and various IVC seals showing 'a
figure in a tree, with a tiger beside it looking back' has not been made before.
If the story refers to Shiva (and it does) and if the seals and the story are
connected, then the seals must therefore also refer to someone who was either
Shiva or who later was equated with Shiva. The Sullivan code translations looked
very promising at that point in my search.

2. While I was looking for Shiva/tiger pictures in Google images, I found that
modern painting of the hunter with a tiger skirt and the lingam. I found it very
beautiful and it somehow inspired me deeply. It was some hours later that I read
the legend that came with that painting. When I read it though, it struck me that
there was no tiger in that legend, but it was a tiger that reminded me of a story
that I heard in 1954 on Dutch TV by the Indonesian storyteller Indra Kamadjojo. I
was about ten years old at the time in Holland. That memory helped me to draw a
definite link between various Indus Valley tablet seals and the ancient Hindu

3. I selected a few of the seal photographs that I had already collected and posted
them on the Facebook site together with the above picture and story
and announced the logical connection.

4. I also found that there are a number of seals showing a figure in devotion in front
of or underneath a meditating figure and suspected that they might very well be
related to the Shiva/lingam story, although if so, they must predate the story as no

lingam was showing on those seals, instead it shows the sitting figure who I
thought might well be Shiva. What must have happened over time (thousands of
years), in the telling and retelling of the story, Shiva must have become
symbolized by the lingam.

5. The way I interpreted the kneeling figure, he was either in a devotional pose or a
pose of gratitude as he had been granted moksha.

6. Throughout the country-side in India one finds lingam stones underneath a tree by
the wayside... (The first one I saw was on Elephanta Island near Mumbai, under
a... Bael tree .) If the lingam stones have no marigolds, which they often do, then
at least they are painted reddish orange.

7. The Bael tree was very important in the IVC agriculture and industry. In my story
"the Valley" I refer to those trees (although not by name as I then was still looking
for more evidence). There is mention in many ancient hymns of a hard citrus fruit
or a stone apple.

(The seals I am showing: the broken one was excavated in Kalibangan (about 300 km
SW of Kurukshetra), the other two were found in Mohenjo-Daro.)



The Story of Skanda, the Deer, the Tiger, the Bael Tree and

Drawings by Eric Power (request for permission is in process)

Things we can not be quite be sure about
(more speculative they are…)
Many of the deliberations in the chapters that follow in this second part, are more
speculative than the topics dealt with in part one.
I was at first considering not to publicize the topics that appear in Part Two, but I was
advised by a good friend that many of the ideas I would offer, even if they cannot be fully
supported by iron-clad evidence, that at least they can help open many a reader's mind to
expanded ways of the expression of truth.
It could even be that many of the following chapters give occasion to gain deeper insights,
which, I hope, will lead to a consideration of thoughts and opinions that invite and enable
a wider understanding and acceptance of seemingly opposing ideas and values, the ones
that are all too often encountered as rather dogmatic... historically, spiritually and

Vishnu and Garuda
'Savo deve eko Nara
yana na dwitiyacha kaschit'

'There is only one God - Narayana - and no second.'

~ Yajurveda

Figure 1
Garuda, carrier of Vishnu and Lakshmi.
Sixteenth century painting, artist unknown.
(Islamic Museum, Berlin)

How Vishnu Rose to Supremacy

Together with Brahma and Shiva, Vishnu is regarded as one of the three major gods in
Hinduism and Indian mythology.
Whereas Brahma and Shiva are considered to be the creator and destroyer of the universe,
Vishnu is its preserver.

Ancient Sanskrit literature describes Vishnu as 'the infinite ocean of the universe', the
source of the entire world. Thus, over time, in Vaishnavism, Vishnu became the 'God of
all gods', the central and even major deity of the Hindu trinity.

The solar deities Surya (fire-bird) and Ravi (the sun) are usually identified as being the
same as Vishnu (see figure 6).

Vishnu is equated with Narayana, the one God who pervades the spiritual as well as the
material universe.

How Garuda became Vishnu's Mount

Vishnu's mount, the eagle Garuda, is at times represented as a winged male creature with
bird feet, a curved beak, having a plumed feather crest on his head or wearing a crown.
Garuda was very strong and daring and could overcome any dangerous situation.

I remember, from when I was a 12 year old kid in Holland, that an Indonesian storyteller
told us an ancient story about Garuda in which the moon played the part of immortality.
He told us that the moon was immortal because, although it looked like the moon died
every month, he always returned.

It so happened that one day Garuda had to free his mother from the darkness of a snake
infested underworld. In order to do that, he decided to steal the moon from the night sky -
a lunar eclipse perhaps?

In any case, while hiding the moon under his wings he was able to bring light and...
immortality into the underworld thus making life or actually death - at least temporarily -
impossible. That's how he set his mother free.

Indra and all the other heavenly gods obviously did not like the disappearance of the
moon from their firmament so they battled Garuda to try and get the moon back, but
Garuda conquered them all except for... Vishnu.

Eventually Garuda gave up the fight with Vishnu after he was granted immortality in
exchange for the moon's return to its monthly sojourn. That is why Garuda is often
depicted carrying 'amrita with him', the elixir of immortality. Also, Vishnu so admired
Garuda's perseverance in the fight and the clever way in which he freed his mother, that
he took Garuda as his mount to traverse the universe.

A Commemorative Seal for Vishnu and Garuda

Figure 2
Seal H-95 -2485ab *

Square seals usually have a picture on the front and a punctured knob (or boss) on the
back to pull a string through, making the seal wearable. As you can see in the middle of
the diagram above, this seal does not have a boss. Instead, like a coin - but a square one -
it features a scene on both sides.
Could this mean that this seal was 'coined' with a purpose different from the norm?

Details of interest:

• The standing figure with bird feet,

• A bird's head-crest like headdress,
• Feather-like (?) features on the figure's arms.
• The arch,
• The leaf shaped decorations on the arch.

The inscription on the obverse goes from right to left and according to the Sullivan Code
the signs read:
• 'aksha' (diamond shape),
• 'ja' (three short vertical stripes),
• 'ash' (crab pincers shape),
• 'nu-nu' (the two waffle shapes).


'Aksha' is a name of Garuda.
'Akshaja' is a name of Vishnu.
'Ashnunu' is a name of Garuda.
'Jaashnunu' can be compared to 'janunuash' on seal M-4a (see figure 4) which means
'swift Garuda' .

This seal clearly represents Vishnu and Garuda as a composite being.

When it was 'issued' it could very well have been meant to commemorate a special
The fact that this artefact is a moulded terracotta seal, suggests that it could even have
been 'mass produced'.

Figure 3
Tablet H-179a ** Tablet H-177b
(See figure 6 for the script on the reverse of this tablet.)

The tablet on the right though shows that the artist was confused: here he shows the arch
(with Vishnu) but he has combined it with the devotee and the markhor (goat), both of
which are usually shown with the split mango tree, the one with Skanda inside.

Compare the following details with those of figure 2:

• The standing figure under an arch on both tablets,

• The star at the bottom right on the left tablet,
• A bird's head-crest like headdress,
• The leaf shaped decorations on the arches.

Figure 4
Seal M-4a

Reading from right to left:

1. 'ja' (three short vertical stripes)

2. 'nu-nu' (the two waffle shapes)
3. 'ash' (crab pincers shape)
4. 'vi' (two short vertical stripes)
5. 'ma' (vertical fish)
6. 'na' (a U shape with a vertical stripe | inside)
7. 'ja' (three short vertical stripes)
8. 'pa' (a crook)
9. 'la' (three crooked vertical shapes)

'ja-nu-nu-ash vi-ma-na ja-pa-la'

'Janunuash' is a reference to 'swift Garuda'.

'Vimana' is a flying carrier.
'Japala' could mean 'victorious', it also refers to Vishnu.

Figure 5
Two sides of the same tablet.
The left side shows the same standing figure as in the illustrations above: Garuda.
The right side reads 'vahany' - carier or vehicle (Garuda).

Figure 6
Ravi anya ma jana.

'There's nobody else but Ravi'

Ravi is the Sun God - a possible reference to Narayana.

Vishnu's Tilak

Figure 7

Left: Vishnu's followers usually wear a tilak on their forehead in the shape of a U with a
vertical stripe | within it.

Right: This Indus Valley sign stands for 'na' as in Narayana.

The tilak or tilaka is a mark that consists of a powder, ash or sandalwood paste applied to
the forehead by smearing.
The Vaishnava tilak has two parts: a vertical centered line between the ridge just above
the nose and the hairline. It is surrounded by an elongated U.


* Harappa, moulded terracotta tablet, period 3B/3C.

Period 3B Harappa c. 2450 BC - c. 2200 BC
Period 3C Harappa c. 2200 BC - c. 1900 BC

** Script on reverse: 'pri-a-an', benevolent.

The Tilak and the Most Frequent Indus Script Sign

What is a Tilak?

A tilak is a mark of distinction ritually applied to the forehead of a religious person, it

consists of ash, a smeared coloured or white powder or a paste of sandalwood.
There is a large variety of tilaks, the kind depends on which religious sect someone is a
follower of.

The main tilaks (out of ca 30) belong to followers of Vishnu, Shiva and Devi Shakti.

VishnuTilak Shiva Tilaks Shakti/Devi Tilak Tilak and Bindi

• The simple Vaishnava tilak has two parts: a sandal paste (chandan) is applied
vertically centered between the bridge just above the nose and the hairline, and it
is surrounded by a shape in the form of a large U.

• The tilak worn by the followers of Shiva is applied to the forehead using sacred
ash (bhashma) in three horizontal bands with a single vertical stripe or circle in
the middle.

• Shakti or Devi worshippers in South India wear a round or rectangular mark of

kumkuma (a red tumeric powder) on the forehead.

The Differences between Tilaks and Bindis

Whereas tilaks always consist of ash, powder or paste, the bindi may be a paste, jewellery
or even a sticker. Unlike bindis, tilaks can be applied to other parts of the body as well,
and they are always of a religious and spiritual nature,

A bindi is worn between the eyes, just above the bridge of the nose, and is more of social
mark, it can indicate being married or it can simply be ornamental.

A bindi and a tilak can be worn together.

A Different View on the Origin of the Vishnu/Krishna Tilak

Skanda's Split Tree, Vishnu, Narayana, Krishna and the Tilak

Figure 1
Tilaks (forehead marks) worn by followers of Vishnu and Krishna

Figure 2
Young Shaivite (Shiva Follower)

Members of the Vaishnava tradition wear their tilaks on their forehead in the shape of a
'U', while Shaivites tend to wear their tilaks as three horizontal lines (see figure 2.)
Most often tilaks are seen as references to the third eye but they can have many other
meanings as well: from being solely devoted to a god to a woman being married.
One also finds Shiva's tilak (the three horizontal lines) 'smeared' on Shiva Lingams.

In this chapter we will be concentrating on the U shaped tilaks worn by followers of

Vishnu. There are various forms of these U shaped tilaks, but most of them have a dot or
a long stripe inside them.

Whereas traditionally the two vertical lines of the U shape are said to represent the feet
(or one foot) of Vishnu / Narayana (the Lord who pervades both the spiritual and material
universes) it is of course possible that the origin of this tilak is based on something
perhaps more fundamental... especially when a vertical stripe is present.

1. The 'na' sign as found in 'Narayana', one of Vishnu's names. *

Figure 3

According to the Sullivan Code, it so happens that some Indus Valley signs meaning 'na'
(as in 'Narayana') have that very same U shape, but with a vertical stripe inside. This
particular stripe can appear either as | or !.

Is it a coincidence that according to the Sullivan Code one vertical stripe | by itself also
stands for 'A' symbolizing Vishnu?

Speculative perhaps, but in some previous chapters we have already encountered a few
instances that show how the Indus Valley people loved word- and sign-play as well as
multiple meanings.

In the Sanskrit language one particular word for water is 'Naara’ and Vishnu's ('Ayana')
resting place is 'Naara', hence the name 'Naaraayana' - number 245 in Vishnu's list of one-
thousand names.

Figure 4

Narayana is the primeval Lord symbolizing the universal ocean from which everything
"Naara" also means 'living beings' or Jivas. So, another meaning of Narayana is 'resting
place for all living beings'.
The close association of Narayana (Vishnu) with water explains the frequent depiction of
Narayana in Hindu art as standing, sitting or resting on an expanse of water.

Om Namo NārāyaNāya is one of the most famous mantras chanted by Hindus. This
mantra, along with Om Namah Shivāya, and the Gayatri mantra are the most sacred
prayers by Hindus.

2. The 'na' sign representing Skanda's Split Tree. (See Chapter Six.)

Skanda is number 327 in the list of Vishnu's one thousand names:

"Skandah": He whose glory is expressed through Subrahmanya"

In the collage below you can see many U signs, and it may not be a long stretch to
recognize the 'split tree with leaves on the outside' in the various signs. Look especially
for the ones with the tiny extra features at the tips of the various U shapes.

Figure 5
(As to the script inside the white oval, see note ***.)

As can be seen above, sometimes the U shape contains | (the dark purple oval) or ! (the
red oval), but it can sometimes also have two short stripes '' (green), or none at all (blue,
black, mauve, white).

We have already noted that:

• one vertical line meaning ‘A’ stands for Vishnu,
• two vertical lines might stand for 'aa' (Ravi),

Could it be that the ! is a symbol for the lance (the 'vel') that Skanda used to slay the
asura king Taraka by splitting the tree that he was hiding in?

Just above the seated figure's head (See figure 5, the middle of the top row) identified
before as Skanda, is a beautifully centered 'an' sign with... two short vertical stripes!
(inside the green oval.)
Is Skanda perhaps under the guidance (sponsorship?) of Ravi (Vishnu)?

The bottom left sign (inside the yellow oval) is also remarkable!

By the way, it seems to me that the Skanda stories as presented in this book, predate
Krishna's domicile in Dwaraka. Who knows, perhaps Skanda was Krishna's hero when he
was young.

As Skanda, Krishna (number 550), Ravi (number 881) and Narayana (number 245) all
appear in Vishnu's name list they can all be equated to each other.

3. The 'an' Sign - the U without a Stripe inside?

Over time during the use of the Indus script, the 'an' sign came to stand for "the man",
(compare this with the English 'postman' or 'milkman,) and eventually 'an' became a
masculine gender identifier!


* Because of the many interpretations by scholars who from the very beginning identified
the U sign as a vase or jar, we unfortunately got stuck seeing only a pot in it...


Tablet M-394a

From right to left this tablet reads: 'na-ja-eka-ndra-an'.

'na-ja-eka' can be interpreted as 'nayAka' which means 'leader, chief, hero'

'The chief leading the battle'


Tablet M-478a

The inscription reads from right to left: 'cha-an-aa-y'.

'Pure follower of Kandarpa'

(‘Y’ is Kandarpa, God of love according to the Sullivan Code.)

"Regarding Skanda and Vishnu, there is another place where their mythologies
merge. One of the divisions of Vaishnasim is Kumara-sampradaya (worship of
Vishnu through the Kumaras). These Kumaras are the sons of Brahma (manas-
putras), and they are 4 in number. The last one is Sanatkumar, otherwise known
as Skanda. This could be from a period before Skanda had merged with Kartikeya
and Murugan."
~ Pradipta Banerjee

I ran into these four sons (four is 'chahur' in Sanskrit) when I attempted a translation of
this seal.

Two more Seals about Vishnu and his vehicle Garuda

What is a Deity's Vehicle or Vāhana actually?

A 'vāhana' is a Hindu deity's mythical mount, ride, or vehicle. Typically a vāhana is an

animal used by a Hindu god or demi-god (deva) as a means to go places... to traverse the
mythical universe. Often, deva are depicted as riding or mounted on their vāhanas, but
they can also appear side by side. It is not unusual that a particular characteristic of a god
is represented by a vāhana as his divine attribute, symbolically expressing that god's
For example, Nandi the bull, the vehicle of Shiva, stands for strength; Parvani, the
peacock; Skanda's ride, represents splendour and majesty; Hamsa, the swan of Sarasvati,
represents wisdom, grace and beauty.
Vāhanas though, can also symbolize the evil forces over which their deities dominate, e.g.
reining-in his peacock Skanda can also be seen as reining-in his vanity. Ganesh crushing
a little mouse, symbolizing putting a stop to useless thoughts that can multiply like…
eh… mice.

Depending on time and region, a deity's vāhana can take on a different meaning, role or
purpose. Three examples (from Wikipedia

• While Ganesh was still a child, a giant mouse began to terrorize all his friends.
Ganesh trapped him with his lasso and made him his mount. Mushika was originally
a gandharva, or celestial musician. After absentmindedly walking over the feet of a
rishi (wise man) named Vamadeva, Mushika was cursed and transformed into a
mouse. However, after the rishi recovered his temper, he promised Mushika that one
day, the gods themselves would bow down before him. This came to pass when
Mushika's path crossed Ganesh's.
• Before becoming the vehicle of Shiva, Nandi was a deity called Nandikeshvara, lord
of joy and master of music and dance. Then, without warning, his name and his
functions were transferred to the aspect of Shiva known as the deity Nataraja.

From half-man, half-bull, he became simply a bull. Since that time, he has watched
over each of Shiva's temples, always looking towards him.
• Murugan, the first form of Skanda in Southern India, is also mounted on a peacock.
This peacock was originally a demon called Surapadma, while the ostrich was called
the angel [Krichi]. After provoking Murugan in combat, the demon repented at the
moment his lance descended upon him. He took the form of a tree and began to pray.
The tree was cut in two. From one half, Murugan pulled a rooster, which he made
his emblem, and from the other, a peacock, which he made his mount.
In another version, Lord Karthikeyan, son of Mother Parvathi and Lord Shiva (and
elder brother of Lord Ganesha) was born to kill the demon, Tarakasura. He was
raised by the Kritthikas and led the divine armies when he was 6 days old. It is
unique to him that he is the only god to be worshipped alongside his enemy,
Tarakasura. It is said that after defeating Tarakasura, the Lord forgave him and
transformed him into his ride, the peacock, partially also because Tarakasurs had
earned a boon to be immortal… apparently the boon did not say in what form. So,
whenever flowers are offered to Kartikeya, a transformed Tarakasura also stands

Left: 'dhuka viva mahesh ja kuva biryaan'

'Riding his bird (Garuda) in the wind, (Vishnu) the swift, powerful and brave
fighter of wickedness.'

Right: 'dhuka vina ja biryaan ekade'

'Riding the wind, swift Garuda, (Vishnu's) brave remover of obstacles.'

• For those not too familiar with the square seals, except for a few rare exceptions, the
depicted animals and the inscriptions do not relate to each other. This is different

with the oblong narrative seal tablets where the inscription and the scene more often
than not parallel each other.
• On the square seals, the direction of writing and reading starts from the head of the
depicted animal to the other edge of the seal. Therefore H-99 reads from left to right
and H-8a reads from right to left.
• Seals that show the animal heads on the right side are as a rule the sculpted originals,
when the heads are on the left they are imprints made from the originals.
• These above two seals have seven Indus Script signs in common.
• Both these seals were found in the upper levels of the Harappan excavation site,
hence they do not necessarily refer to Skanda and / or Ravi, who are earlier
Harappan heroes.

1. Decipherment and Translation of Seal H-99

'dhu'- the javelin shape with a C shape inside

'ka' - the large X shape
'vi'- two short vertical stripes
'va'- two long vertical stripes
'ma'- upright fish shape
'he'- capped upright fish shape
'sh'- oval shape with a small grain stalk inside
'ja'- three vertical stripes *
'ku'- elongated C
'va'- two long vertical stripes -
'bi'- shovel shape -
'rya'- grain stalk shape - '
'an'- U shape (gender post-fix)

'dhuka' - 'wind'
'viva' - 'riding a bird'
'mahesh' - powerful
'ja' - could mean 'son' or 'swift' (reference to
'kuva' - 'bad stuff', 'badness', wickedness'
'biryaan' - 'brave fighter,' 'biren' (SC) (bhArya
soldier),'virya' is bravery (the 'v' is often
pronounced as 'b')

'dhuka viva mahesh ja kuva biryaan'

“Riding his bird (Garuda) in the wind,

(Vishnu) the swift, powerful and brave
fighter of wickedness.”

2. Decipherment and Translation of Seal H-8a

'dhu'- the javelin shape with a C shape inside

'ka' - the large X shape
'vi' - two short vertical stripes
'na' - the Vaishin tilak shape U with ! inside
'ja' - three long vertical stripes *
'bi' - shovel shape
'rya' - grain stalk shape
'an' - U shape (gender post-fix)
'eka' - a short vertical stripe **
'de'- the fork shape ***

'dhuka' - 'wind'
'vina' - 'taking away', 'removing' (of obstacles)
'ja' - could mean 'swift' or 'son'.
'biryaan' - 'brave fighter,' 'biren' (SC) (bhArya soldier)
'virya' is bravery (the 'v' is often pronounced as 'b')
'ekade '- 'the same as', 'this one is...', 'lord Vishnu'.

'dhuka vina ja biryaan ekade'

Riding the wind, swift Garuda, (Vishnu's) brave remover

of obstacles.

How I came to this interpretation

It was almost at the very end of this translation attempt (when I realized that 'ekade' could
mean 'the same as...' or 'this one is...') that I became convinced for 99% that I had a viable
translation. When P. Banerjee made me aware that 'ekah' is one of the one thousand
names of Vishnu** I reached 100%.

I had already figured out from seal H-99 that its inscription was about Garuda, so it was
most reassuring that I found in the "Encyclopaedia of Hindu Gods and Goddesses" by
Suresh Chandra, pg 101:

"Garuda is also known by another name of Vinayak, [see above 'vina' - 'taking
away', 'removing'] which name he shares with god Ganesh. Thus this god-bird is
thought to be the remover or destroyer of obstacles."

Garuda is also the protector against poisonous snakes and... Ganesh does not fly!

Just prior to that I had found:

"nayAmi paramam sthAnam arcirAdi-gatim vinA garuda-skandham Aropya

yatheccham anivAritah"

"My [Vishnu's] devotees need not follow the path beginning in light. Riding on
Garuda's shoulders, I personally take them to my supreme abode."
~ Varaha Purana

I was now 101% convinced...


* The three stripes could refer to Tripada Trimurti.

Quoting from
"Sometimes, when the [three] legs of Vishnu and Shiva are seen, the icon is called
Tripada-trimurti ("three-legged trinity")

** Ekah is number 725 in the list of Vishnu's one-thousand names.

The English word 'equal' derives from 'eka'. In science 'equals 1' means 'unity'.

*** De as in 'deva' and the Latin 'deus' are related.

Brahma, Shiva, Skanda, the Drummer Boy and... OM

How Skanda's Importance Increased...

In large regions of southern India (especially Tamil Nadu) Skanda (Lord Murugan, also
named Subrahmanya) became at some point more important than Lord Shiva.

The following story explains why and how... you may be surprised...

In the Intermezzo I showed a cartoon strip about how

Skanda, the youthful hunter, was granted karmic liberation
by Shiva. In Chapter Nine a very similar ancient story was
told about a certain Lubdhaka, how he was "liberated from
samsara, and attained moksha". Both stories are making it a
point that it was just because Skanda had dropped some
Bael leaves on Shiva's lingam stone. The interesting thing
is though, that Skanda did not even know that that stone was there, so, how can there be
any good karma in that, and we may well wonder how would 'dropping leaves' as
haphazardly as he did, have anything to do with liberation?

I was twelve years old was living in Holland (which in

those days still had a strong colonial Indonesian Hindu
connection) when I was told the story of the deer, the
hunter and the tiger, and it was supposed to contain a moral
message. I loved the story, but I remember that I had a hard
time understanding the moral of the story: although there
are deer in Holland and tigers in zoos, there are definitely
no lingam stones to be found anywhere there.
It is a story I would love to tell again, but if I were to tell it
nowadays, I would do it - based on what I learned in life
about fear and illusion, dependency and liberty, spiritual
understanding and religious dogma - with a different
and deeper psychological understanding.

Our world is so different now from the ancient world, we deal differently with authority,
especially if it is religious, instead we like to find things out for ourselves, in fact we are
encouraged to do so.
Of course I could tell the Tiger/Shiva story to a young audience the old-fashioned way
with the tiger morphing into Shiva, after all, nowadays young people are very used to
special effects in the movies they watch. They have seen more cinematographic
morphing than they could ever have imagined themselves, but... no matter what, they also
know that tigers don't really turn into Shivas.

I would probably tell the story the way it is so simply depicted on the seal above, just
why the hunter sits in that tree but without that lingam and initially also without Shiva,
but I would also tell it in connection with some other seals, and one in which Shiva does

A bit worn those old seals, and poorly photographed as well, and you probably wonder,
as I did at some point, what they 'for heaven's sake' could have to do with the story of
But then, one day, I read on Dr. Kalyanaraman's website that the little central figure on
the large seal, the one with that tiger-like animal, was a drummer-boy, and then I also
remembered that I had seen another smaller seal with a drummer-boy on it.

Suddenly an avalanche of thoughts tumbled through my

brain. I had read somewhere that the name of such a
double-sided drum was 'pranava', and I also remembered
that 'pranava' stood for 'Om', the primordial sound. It is
then that I suddenly I knew what happened to Skanda when
he jumped out of that tree, what he felt and why he
suddenly became aware of that sense of freedom...
What was so extraordinary was that Skanda found out that the fearsome roar of the tiger
suddenly made place for such a strong vibration that instead of making him shiver with
fear that he felt himself vibrating with life in all the parts of his body... instead of
escaping death he had just now really discovered what life was... not just a spark of life
but life in its most energetic form.

Pranava, Primal Sound, Om, Drum

But let me not go there yet. Let me just start telling the story the way I would tell it to,
say, a twelve year old. One thing though, I have a hard time telling 'make-believe'
stories... Of course the tiger is no imagination, but what about a tiger turning into Shiva?
Of course Shiva is no imagination either, but where did he come from? Did he come from
a higher level of reality or did Shiva actually have a physical human body... Could he
roam the streets... for instance the streets of Dwaraka?

We will see, we'll meet him, and... we will also meet Brahma. There is a very old story
that goes something like the following:

"There was a time when the Creator, Brahma, out of arrogance. did not show
respect to Skanda, Shiva's son. Skanda then queried Brahma on his knowledge
about Om. Unfortunately though Brahma could not answer, so the little boy
imprisoned him due to his incompetence."

But let me retell it in my own words

As soon as Skanda, after his liberating experience, passed the city gates back into town,
that he ran into Brahma who was getting on in years. It so happened that Brahma saw
something odd in the boy, actually something about him upset him, "That boy is too
lively," he thought.
Of course Brahma was jealous, but he also felt that Skanda did not greet him with
enough reverence.

True, Skanda was perhaps a bit precocious, practicing his newly found freedom a bit too
In any case, Brahma stopped the boy, and took him aside to put him in his place, "What's
the matter boy, a bit high or what? Show some respect will you?!"
But somehow Skanda's buttons did not get pushed, and although he was Shiva's son and
Brahma should have respected that, he did not care. In fact he wondered if Brahma could
help him understand what just happened to him, Skanda.
Perhaps Brahma with his age-old experience could shed some light on his new feelings.
So he started explaining what happened in the jungle with the him and the deer and the

tiger and eventually that enormous relief that overcame him. How overcoming his
excessive fear brought him this intense sense of freedom,
"I can feel it, Lord Brahma," he said, "I feel an enormous power of eh... well... eh...
BEING. You must know what that means, you are Lord Brahma. You know, I can now
hear and even feel the energy of existence in everything, it's coming from you too. It is...,
it is... the vibration of life..., don't you feel it? You know 'pranava'! You are supposed to
know it..., tell me more about it..."
"What are you talking about, son?" Brahma answered back impatiently, he was tired, it
had been a long day, a long life really, and kids nowadays... they were too vivacious he
"Skanda" he said, "You are barely dry behind the ears, and you could not even shoot a
"But Brahma please" Skanda implored, "Come with me, let's go somewhere quiet, I want
you to hear it too." and Skanda led him into one of the small guard rooms, right next to
the main city gate. He closed the heavy wooden door, it would be quiet there, surely, and
then Brahma can maybe hear it too...
"Come on..." Brahma said, "what are you doing, shutting me up in this cell, telling me to
be quiet and listen to that silly hum of yours? What did you say it sounded like... hum...
om... or something???"
Then it happened, Brahma heard it too, "Gosh yes, I remember, and his face lit up, that's
how I felt when I was still young..."
Brahma became quiet and listened and felt..., "Wow that is good, Oom... Omm.... Om...
Hey Skanda... Skanda listen..."
But Skanda had quietly left the guard-room, closing the heavy doors, not knowing that
they locked shut behind him with a long echoing boom... ooom... oom.. om.

But I jumped ahead a little too far with the story, I wanted to tell you more about what
went through Skanda's mind while he was shaking from fear in the tree. What was it that
brought him to his sudden insight and freedom?

As much as the hunted deer ran away in fear from Skanda as much did Skanda
climb that tree in fear of the tiger.

While he was shuddering in the tree, he was also thinking, thinking deeply and at last he
said to himself: "How stupid of me, why am I plucking these leaves and breaking those
flower buds and throwing them to the ground? Am I not also troubling the tree? First it
was that innocent deer that I chased and now it is this tree that I'm hurting. Why am I
doing that... For the God's sake, it is protecting me from the tiger! Gosh, it's like I can
still hear the tiger's roar... No... it's worse, I can FEEL his roar in my body..."
Skanda tried to relax, he slowed down his breathing, "Aah..., another long deep breath.
Ah that's better, I can think again..." And then he thought about the flowers, many of
which he must have crushed. "Am I not robbing the blooms' honey from the bees! And
then, we also won't have honey for our sweets. The tree needs its leaves to grow and it
needs flowers for its fruit, and the bees need the honey to feed their queen and little ones,
and if the bees can't build their honey-combs, how can we ever collect enough wax to
stop our boats from leaking?

And Skanda was thinking: "How different nature is: plants and birds and bees and fruit...
they have no fear, they don't hunt each other, nature does not operate that way, but we
humans, it is US that do that. Is it really human nature to do harm? No... it is that we
LOST our good nature that we are doing that...!"

"When Shiva learned about this, he came to help Brahma and questioned his little
boy's authority in imprisoning the creator of the universe. He even wondered if
his son really knew things about Om. The little boy was confident enough to tell
his father that if he also does not know its meaning, then, he could always learn it
from him as long as he asks him very politely like eager students who wishes to
learn from their master.
His father, Shiva, agreed to this. Like any obedient student, he seated himself
lower in front of Murugan and put one hand over his chest and another hand over
his mouth. [...] His little son then told him the secrets of the Om discretely by his
father's ears."

Bottom left:
One person sits on a low stool while the other person sits on a throne of sorts...
Skanda (on the higher seat) has taken the place of Shiva (on the lower seat).

Top left:
According to the Sullivan Code it probably reads:
'nya-va-ma-an-ni' (r to l) or:
'ni-an-ma-va-nya' (l to r).
'nya' has to do with judging, validating, justice.
'niya' has to do with a 'low position' (lower seat?)
'vanya' wild animal

The following themes will be expanded upon as part of this chapter:

• Skanda's father Shiva, finds out that Brahma is locked-in in the guard room.
• He finds Skanda who now has to account for his actions.
• Skanda wonders if even Shiva know about 'omkara', 'pranava'.
• How can he explain it to him so that he also experiences it?
• He gets Shiva a drum and a gong...
• Shiva promises to be a good listener (student) even to his son.
• Skanda uses a drum to drive his point home.
• It so happens that the Sanskrit word 'pranava' is used to identify both OM as well as
the DRUM.

Pranava: 'om', 'primal
sound', drum, droning,
trembling, drumming, as in
ear-drum. 'Dhran' the
etymological root for
'drone' - that typical sound
that a certain sitar-like
Indian instrument makes.

The English 'drum', 'drone', and the Dutch words 'dreunen', 'trommel' are derived from the
Sanskrit root DHRAN - to sound.

Skanda is beating a drum or... clanging a gong? (I have seen that in Shiva temples) And
Shiva his father is looking like he is enjoying the PRANAVA vibes!


"Skanda the Great"


Dholavira and its Sign Board

Dholavira, a City to Feel Safe in

Figure 1
Dholavira - looking South - an artist's rendering.

The blue-green areas surrounding the town are part of an ingeniously constructed
rainwater harvesting system without which Dholavira would not have thrived in the
desert-like climate during part of the year.

The ancient city of Dholavira, dating back to 2500 BCE, covers about one hundred
hectares and was one of the largest inhabited cities in the Indus Valley. It was laid out
according to a rectangular plan with the streets mostly in grid-like patterns.
The city was divided into three parts. The citadel site and middle-town were constructed
with smoothly stuccoed sun-dried brick and stone masonry, whereas lower-town
consisted of simpler mud-wall habitations.

Figure 2
Dholavira - looking North -

The citadel and middle-town were set-up with their own defence structures consisting of
thick brick walls, individually guarded gates, a densely built street and lane system, wells,
a sewage system, and one of the world’s earliest water collection systems. In addition to
large communal areas, the city also sported a stadium with one of the earliest well
organized seating arrangements.

The citadel was certainly the most impressive complex with its well-defensible double
ramparts. Situated next to the citadel (see map) is the 'bailey', the quarters of the city's
magistrate and officials.

Figure 3
The citadel - a reconstruction.

Dholavira went through seven distinct evolutionary stages, from initial growth to
maturity to decline. After its social culture peaked, Dholavira was temporarily abandoned,
after which settlers returned with a markedly non-urban style of living.

The Archaeological Survey of India started excavations in 1967 but it is only since 1990
that the sites have been more systematically excavated. Artefacts found include terracotta
pottery, beads, gold and copper ornaments, seals, fish hooks, animal figurines, tools, urns,
and some imported vessels that indicate trade links with lands as far away as

Figure 4

The 'Dholavira Sign Board'

The signs as found, and a possible reconstruction of its original set-up.

The signboard reads from right to left:


Which, according to the Sullivan Code can be read as:

'ashra raksha rangpura'

Translated it says:
"(under) the shelter (and) protection (of) Rangpura"

The signs in the above formation were discovered in one of the side rooms of the
northern gateway to the city.
It is generally hypothesized that rectangular pieces of gypsum rock were inlaid or
attached to a wooden board that was about 3 meter long, and that it , when it was in use,
was displayed in a prominent place to be in clear view of visitors to the city. The signs
which are about 37 cm in size, made of rectangular pieces of gypsum forming ten large
symbols. At some point, the board must have been stored after which the wooden panel
decayed, fortunately the arrangement of the signs did survive.

The Signs


Before we get into an interpretation and possible translation of this signboard, let's first
identify the signs. The sequence of signs is read from right to left:

• crab shape,
• wheel (six-spoked)
• wheel
• vertical stroke,
• X shape,
• diamond shape,
• wheel (six-spoked)
• quatrefoil leaf,
• board on a post,
• wheel (six-spoked)

Phoneme sound and meaning:

• Crab: 'ash' - Skt. 'ashta' - can mean 'eight'. Think of an eight-legged crustacean.
• Wheel: 'ra' - as in Skt. 'rathah' (car) - can mean 'heat, light'. Think of rotary or
• Wheel: 'ra'.
• Vertical stroke | : 'a' - a diacritical mark which can also mean Shiva. Think of 1st
letter of the alphabet.
• X shape: 'ka' - the Skt. 'kaa' means pleasure or love. Think of the Kama Sutra.
• Diamond or O: 'aksha' - Skt. 'aksha' (eye) can mean 'eye, soul, overseeing, scope'.
Think of scOpe.
• Wheel: 'ra'.
• Quatrefoil: 'nga' - can mean linking or branching or ancestral connections. Think of
juNCtion or genetic linking.
• Horizontal board on a post: 'pu' - can mean clean, pure. Think of pure or the Greek
letter pi.
• Wheel: 'ra'.

Altogether Now



Having already found (shown in previous slides) that the people of the Harappan Culture
(IVC) liked double meanings, it is clear that they loved puns and wordplay, showing that
they were by no means lacking erudition, and that they didn't underestimate each other's
I have already documented a few instances of intended use of double meanings ('double
entendre') appearing in Harappan Culture textual inscriptions and story-like depictions.

Why Multiple Meanings?

The Indus Valley people were quite used to multiple meanings.
It shows up in:

• The principle of using pictographs expressing sounds that represent things and ideas,
• The basic idea of having animals expressing virtuous or vicious characteristics, e.g.
respectively the peacock or the asura bull,
• The use of multiple animal features making up one composite creature thereby
expressing multiple qualities or characteristics,
• The depiction on a number of seals of one animal with two or three heads
symbolically standing for two or more multiple heroes or gods,
• A circular seal with six animal heads radiating from its centre, telling the story of the
Gods' gifts of various animals to Skanda while also equating Skanda's powers with
those animals' characteristics,
• Having land animals serve as sky-flying 'vahanas' or vehicles,
• A chart pulled by horses to represent the course of the sun across the firmament,
• The double meaning of some sign sequences on at least two seals and two oblong

This may look quite complex so it is good to keep 'Occam's Razor' in mind. On the other
hand, what may look complex to us nowadays, might have been self-evident in the days
of yore.

Multiple Meanings on The Sign Board

Meaning 1
'ashra' - shelter,
'raksha' - protection, defence,

Meaning 2
'ash-ra-ra' and Sarasvati.

Catherine Ludvík in her book 'Sarasvatī, Riverine goddess of knowledge' wrote about the
river Sarasvati:

"...Seven-sistered (saptasvasvar) Sarasvatī […] the divine one from amongst the
rivers (ASURYA nadinam)."

'Ashrara' could refer to 'aSurya nadinam', the river Goddess Sarasvati.

'Ash' means actually 'eight' and in fact there were originally eight rivers in the delta, one
of which after a break in a massive ice-dam at Paonta Sahib, M.P. became part of the
Ganges river system. (After it was originally part of the Indus river system.)

Meaning 3
'ra-ra' and Ravi - the two wheel signs.

The name 'Ravi' is usually inscribed (on well over a forty seals) as 'ra' (the wheel) and 'vi'
(two short vertical strokes), 'vi' though also means 2.
So it looks like this wordplay (or is it sign play?) is representing Ravi as two wheels.

Additionally, the two wheel signs are followed by one long vertical stroke which stands
for 'A', which is one of Shiva's one thousand names, thus underscoring the reference

Preparing for a Viable Translation

• 'ashra raksha'

The first half of the signboard: 'ashra' (shelter) and 'raksha' (protection or defence), has
already been dealt with.
The city clearly was a defence post, the city's citadel signifies that function quite well.

• 'ra-nga-pu-ra'

These final four signs have been identified by S.M. Sullivan as 'Rangapura', which name
even nowadays appears as the full name or part of the name of at least thirteen Indian or
Pakistani towns or villages. Four of these can be found in the Indus Valley alone close to
excavation sites (e.g. Lothal, Somnath).

Ranga or Ranganātha is a Hindu deity, more well known in South India. The deity is a
resting form of Lord Vishnu, one of the foremost of Hindu Gods.

'Rangapura' can of course still be further translated as 'royal city', but in the Harappan
Culture days, 'royal' did not apply. Nowadays we might translate it as district capital,
township, or community, which would make sense, as 'nga' stands for 'genetic linkages'
in tribal groupings or clans. (By the way the words 'kin, kinship, king, genes', etc. derive
from the same Sanskrit root that 'nga' comes from: 'GAN', which means 'carnal
knowledge' - knowing each other intimately: intercourse!!)

Translation of the Dholavira Sign Board


"ashra raksha rangapura":

"(Under) the shelter (and) protection (of) Rangapura"

Appendix, Somewhat Technical

The two central signs on the sign board (the X and the diamond shape) 'ka-aksha' may
add some additional meaning.

As said above, the X shape: 'ka' simply means pleasure or love, so if | (the vertical stroke)
is interpreted as Shiva, 'ka' could also mean 'beloved’ or even ‘benevolent', and the
diamond shape 'aksha' can mean eye, soul, overseeing, scope.
As to the diamond shape 'aksha' and its meaning of eye, vision or scope, that deserves
some closer attention.
First notice that both 'aksha' and 'scope' contain the consonants 's and k', then notice also
that 'scope' has to do with the 'eye' and 'seeing; and 'vision'.
When I first realized that, a word came to mind that I learned a long time ago when I was
taking Latin classes and reading Julius Caesar's 'De Bello Gallico' (The Celtic War). In
one of the lessons my teacher explained that the word 'episcopus' (usually is translated as
'bishop') initially did not have a religious meaning at all, it was a profession, a function.
We would nowadays call a person with such a function a 'CEO' but in those days such a
person was an 'episcopus', an overseer or supervisor. The word comes from the Greek
'episkopein', to oversee. The Roman 'episcopus' was originally an overseer, an 'akshan' in
the Indus Valley terms, an administrative functionary, overseeing imperial building
projects such as administrative buildings, temples, forts, etc.
The inclusion of this sign has possibly much to do with the centralized overseeing
function of Dholavira as it was at one point the largest city in the Indus Valley and likely
the seat of a major administrator.

Rangapura vihara by M.S.Subbulakshmi - devoted to Subrahmanya (Kumara/Skanda)

The First Found Indus Seal, Harappa 1872

Seal and Drawing

Figure 1 ****

Found by Major General Clark in 1872

Bottom left:
A hand-drawn copy, probably from 1875.

Bottom center:
In order to find the differences between the hand-drawing and the terracotta seal, I
overlaid the drawing on the picture of the seal.

Bottom right:
Real size: 2.5 x 2.5 cm. or 1 x 1 inch.

The Drawing and the Seal, Discrepancies

It is interesting that:
• the drawing is rectangular rather than square,
• the drawn bottom edge is not accurate,
• the hind right leg is shown in the drawing, instead of the left one,
• a clear star is drawn rather than five dots
• the bottom of the legs are not showing on the drawing.

All of the above leads to the conclusion that this particular drawing must be an incorrect
copy of a possible more original drawing.

Decipherment and Translation

According to the Sullivan Code this seal reads:

'ra-vi-ma-da-va-an,’, 'ravima davan' and/or 'ravi madavan'
which can be translated as:
'Ravi's flame' (Ravi is of course Surya* - the solar deity.)
'Ravi - great provider' (heat, life-energy)

"Foreign to India ", but Indigenous to the Indus Valley

This artefact was reported by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1872-3 or in 1875, in which
report he detailed that this flat piece of "dark brown jasper" was "a most curious object"
and "foreign to India", and showed "two stars" under the neck of a "bull without a hump".

It seems to me that Cunningham had not made or seen this particular drawing.

'The First Seal', Remarkable but not Rare at all

Curiously, the first three graphemes (from right to left) on this seal, are found together on
at least 39 other seals and typically this particular group is followed by different groups
of 3 graphemes which in translation appear to function as adjectives.
(See also M-453ab.)
This earliest discovered Indus seal remained rare only until many more seals with almost
identical inscriptions were found decades later.
It is remarkable that this first found seal already contained the clues that lead S.M.
Sullivan to the Indus script's conclusive decipherment and interpretation. (Even
Cunningham's mistaken star-identification contained some truth... as will be shown later
in this piece**.)

The Animals and the 39 seals

Although there are 39 seals that contain virtually identical textual signs, they feature quite
a variety of animals: 19 unicorn bulls, 3 elephants, 2 two-horned bulls, 2 tigers, 3 zebus,

1 rhino. In addition there are 6 oblong tablets without animals, and 3 fragments not
showing their animals.
We can conclude from that, that the inscriptions and the specific animal depictions are
not related.


The distribution of these 39 seals was across all of the Indus Valley.:
• Mohenjo Daro: 25
• Jhukar: 1 (nearby Mohenjo Daro)
• Harappa: 6
• Lothal: 3
• Unknown: 4

Important Findings Inspired by this Seal

1. The word 'ravi' is formed with two graphemes: in this case a variant of the 'six-
spoked wheel' (Sullivan's 'ra' phoneme) and 'two short vertical strokes' (Sullivan's 'vi'
There are 280 seals in S. M. Sullivan's "Indus Script Dictionary" that contain the
word 'ravi'. That is one-fifth of the 1380 seals that she deciphered and translated***.

2. The word 'ra' standing on its own or as part of a sequence of signs but referring to 'ra'
as a radiant solar entity (the six-spoked circle) appears on an additional 39 seals.

3. The word 'surya' appears just once in Sullivan's collection of 1380 seals, but... as a
'dvandva' construction with the word 'rabi' ('ravi'), indicating that 'ravi' and 'surya'
are considered to be synonyms. (Seal Lothal 29, I.S.D. page 208.)

It can be concluded from this that the Indus Valley Civilization had a solar-entity (if not a
solar-deity) centered world view.

Sullivan Code

It is well-known that most 'reasonably sophisticated' civilizations of the past had a

religious worldview that was sun-centered:
Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and the Roman Empire to some extent, the Mayan and Inca
cultures. (I am not familiar enough with ancient China.)
Thus, to assume that the Indus Valley Civilization's world-view might also be sun-
centered seems reasonable, it was after all sophisticated enough.
However, if it were not for Sullivan's decipherment, that would just be an inspired guess
or wishful thinking.
To have 319 out of 1380 (close to one quarter) of the seals featuring deciphered
graphemes that testify of a solar entity though, that, in my opinion, is convincing.
(It also convinces me, but I have to concede that it is a circular argument, that the
Sullivan code is therefore correct.)


* Etymologically the English word 'sun', via the Latin 'sol', may be related to 'surya'.
(Linguistically, the 'r' often turns into an 'l'.)

** After all, the Sun - Surya is a star.

*** At last count, the "Indus Script Dictionary" covers 1380 deciphered and translated