Indus Valley Civilization : Religion of the people

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The numerous seals and figurines discovered in the excavations carried out at various sites connected with the Harappan culture point out to the religious beliefs of the Indus Valley people.

Worship of Mother Goddess: A large number of excavated terracotta figurines are those of a semi-nude figures which is identified with some female energy or Shakti or Mother Goddess, who is the source of all creation. She is wearing numerous ornaments an a fan-shaped head dress. It is concluded from the smoke stained figures that the people offered burnt incense before her.

Worship of Pashupati or Lord Shiva: The Pashupati seal in which the three faced male god is shown seated in a yogic posture, surrounded by a rhino and a buffalo on the right, and an elephant and a tiger on the left, make the historians conclude that the people of those days worshipped Lord Shiva who is the Lord of the Beast (Pashupati) and the male principle of creation. Discovery of a large number of conical or cylindrical stones show that the people worshipped lingam, the symbol of Lord Shiva.

Worship of Trees: The worship of trees was widespread. The Pipal tree was considered most sacred. One of the seals shows a god standing between the branches of a people tree and the god was being worshipped by a devotee on his knees. The discovery of a large number of seals with papal trees engraved on them suggests that this tree was considered sacred, same as some nowadays Hindu do.

Other Objects of Worship: People also worshipped animals such as the bull, buffalo and tiger. The worship of mythical animals is evident from the existence of a human figure with a bull's horns, hoofs and a tail. Besides animals, these people also worshipped the Sun, the Fire and the Water.

Faith in Magic, Charms and Sacrifices: The discovery of amulets suggests that the Indus valley people had belief in magic and charms. Some seals have figures of men and animals in act of sacrificing. This shows that sacrifices played some part in their religion.

Belief in Life after Death: The people of Indus Valley disposed of their dead either by burial or by cremation. They buried their dead together with household pottery, ornaments and other articles of daily use. Even when they cremated the dead, they preserved the ashes of the bodies in clay urns. Both these practices show that people believed in life after death.

The existence of public baths suggests that people believed in ritual bathing. The religious beliefs such as the worship of Shiva, animals and trees, show that the religious beliefs of the Indus Valley people were the foundation on which the modern day Hinduism grew up.

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