The religious beliefs and practices of the Harappan people remain shrouded in mystery due to the limited available evidence and the lack of deciphered script from that ancient civilization. However, based on archaeological findings, figurines, seals, and other artifacts, scholars have proposed various hypotheses about the religious aspects of Harappan culture:
- Mother Goddess Worship: The presence of numerous female figurines, especially those made of terracotta, suggests a strong focus on mother goddess worship. This could imply the veneration of a nurturing and creative feminine deity associated with fertility and the natural world.
- Matrika Worship: Some seal carvings depict female figures with plants emerging from their womb, symbolizing the connection between the goddess and the process of creation. This suggests that the goddess was revered as the mother of all creation.
- Male Deities: While female deities are more prominent in the archaeological record, there are also indications of male deities. One seal from Mohenjo-daro, often referred to as Proto Shiva, portrays a meditating yogic male surrounded by animals.
- Linga and Yoni Worship: Stone objects resembling lingas and yonis have been discovered, hinting at the possibility of linga puja, a form of worship involving the worship of the phallus and the vulva as symbols of fertility.
- Animal Worship: Seals featuring various animals suggest that the Harappans may have practiced animal worship. Humped bulls appear to have been particularly important, perhaps representing strength and fertility.
- Natural Forces and Symbolism: Trees, fire, and water may have been revered as symbols of natural forces. The Ashwattha tree, in particular, was considered sacred. The swastika symbol, found in Harappan artifacts, suggests sun worship.
- Religious Rituals: The presence of a massive bath at Mohenjo-daro indicates the possibility of religious bathing rituals. Shields and shells found in the ruins may be associated with beliefs in protection from ghosts or evil spirits.
- Burial Practices: Harappans practiced various burial customs, including full graves, partial burials, and cremation followed by burial. The orientation of graves from north to south could indicate a belief in an afterlife or specific burial rituals.
It’s important to note that our understanding of the Harappan religion is speculative due to the lack of written records and the inability to decipher the Harappan script. As a result, interpretations are based on archaeological findings and comparisons with later religious traditions in the Indian subcontinent. Further discoveries and advances in script decipherment may provide more insights into the religious beliefs and practices of the Harappan civilization.
Major History Notes are available in Bengali, English, and Hindi editions. You can find the link below.
- হরপ্পা বাসিদের ধর্মীয় জীবন: Click Here
- Harappan Religion Beliefs: Click Here
- Hadappa Sabhyta ka Dharm | हड़प्पा सभ्यता का धर्म: Click Here
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Harappan Religion Beliefs FAQ’s
- What was the religion of the Harappans?
Ans: The Harappans were polytheistic and worshipped a variety of gods and goddesses, including the Mother Goddess, the Pashupati seal deity, and the fire god Agni. They also practiced ancestor worship.
- What are the symbols of Harappan religion?
Ans: The most common symbols of Harappan religion are the Mother Goddess, the Pashupati seal deity, and the fire altar. The Mother Goddess is often depicted as a pregnant woman, symbolizing fertility and abundance. The Pashupati seal deity is a mysterious figure that may represent a god of animals or fertility. The fire altar is a symbol of worship and sacrifice.
- What were the rituals of Harappan religion?
Ans: The Harappans performed a variety of rituals, including animal sacrifices, offerings to the gods, and fertility rites. They also built temples and shrines to worship their gods.
- What were the beliefs of Harappan religion?
Ans: The Harappans believed in a number of different beliefs, including the existence of multiple gods and goddesses, the importance of fertility, and the afterlife. They also believed in magic and astrology.
- What is the evidence for Harappan religion?
Ans: The evidence for Harappan religion comes from a variety of sources, including archaeological sites, seals, figurines, and pottery. These artifacts depict gods and goddesses, rituals, and other religious symbols.
- How did Harappan religion change over time?
Ans: Harappan religion changed over time as the civilization evolved. The earliest evidence of Harappan religion dates back to the Early Harappan period (3300-2600 BCE), when the Mother Goddess was the most important deity. By the Mature Harappan period (2600-1900 BCE), the Pashupati seal deity and other gods and goddesses became more prominent.
- What are the similarities and differences between Harappan religion and other ancient religions?
Ans: Harappan religion shares some similarities with other ancient religions, such as the belief in multiple gods and goddesses, the importance of fertility, and the practice of animal sacrifice. However, there are also some key differences, such as the lack of temples and priests in Harappan religion.
- What is the impact of Harappan religion on later religions?
Ans: Harappan religion had a significant impact on later religions in the Indus Valley region, such as Hinduism and Jainism. The Mother Goddess, for example, is still worshipped in Hinduism today.
- What are the challenges in studying Harappan religion?
Ans: One of the biggest challenges in studying Harappan religion is the lack of written records. The Harappans did not have a written language, so we had to rely on archaeological evidence to learn about their religion.
- What are the future directions of research on Harappan religion?
Ans: Future research on Harappan religion will likely focus on better understanding the archaeological evidence, such as the meaning of the symbols and rituals. Researchers will also continue to look for new evidence, such as written records or figurines that depict gods and goddesses.