Hinduism has two major roots. The more familiar is the religion brought to South Asia in the second millennium BCE by speakers of Aryan or Indo-Iranian languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family. Another, more enigmatic, root is the Indus civilization of the third millennium BCE, which left behind thousands of short inscriptions in a forgotten pictographic script. Discovered in the valley of the Indus River in the early 1920s, the Indus civilization had
a population estimated at one million people, in more than 1000 settlements, several of which were cities of some 50,000 inhabitants. With an area of nearly a million square kilometers, the Indus civilization was more extensive than the other key urban cultures of the time, in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Yet, after almost a century of excavation and research the Indus civilization remains little understood. What language did the Indus people speak? How might we decipher the exquisitely carved Indus inscriptions? What deities did they worship? Are the roots of contemporary Hinduism to be found in the religion of the Indus civilization as well as in the Vedic religion?
Since the rise of Hindu nationalist politics in the 1980s, these questions have been debated with increasing animosity, colored by the history of modern colonialism in India. This is especially true of the enigmatic Indus script, which is at the hub of the debates, and a particular focus of this book. Asko Parpola has spent fifty years researching the roots of Hinduism to answer these fundamental questions. In this pioneering book, he traces the Indo-Iranian speakers from the Aryan homeland
north of the Black Sea through the Eurasian steppes to Central, West, and South Asia. Among many other things, he discusses the profound impact of the invention of the horse-drawn chariot on Indo-Aryan religion, and presents new ideas on the origin and formation of the Vedic literature and rites, and
the great Hindu epics.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 808 g
Dimensions: 257 x 183 x 21 mm
"Written with scholarly rigor and great erudition, this volume will be warmly received by supporters of the views that the Indus Valley script is a proto-Dravidian language and that continuities exist between IVC and Hinduism. Highly recommended."--CHOICE
"A highly innovative and welcome volume, bringing together the linguistic and archaeological evidence for the cultures that underlie Hinduism. Asko Parpola is uniquely well qualified to undertake this, through his major research on the Vedas and Vedic ritual and on the Indus Civilization, combined with an excellent understanding of the archaeological evidence beyond India itself. No one interested in any of these fields can afford to miss it." --J.L. Brockington, Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit, University of Edinburgh; Vice President, International Association of Sanskrit Studies
"The Roots of Hinduism is undoubtedly a major contribution -- like Parpola's earlier book on deciphering the Indus script -- to the understanding of the Indus civilisation, the Aryan migrations into India, and the development of Hinduism." --Current World Archaeology