Kalibangan, Binjor Indus Script metalwork catalogues, yūpa, yaṣṭi and axis mundi


Mirror: http://tinyurl.com/hj7j52w

yūpa, yaṣṭi and axis mundi

This monograph explains the archaeological finds of fire-altars in Kalibangan and Binjor, both sites on the banks of Vedic River Sarasvati in the context of the Vedic tradition as explained in Vedic texts.

kalibanganKalibangan yūpa, yaṣṭikalibanganterracottaKalibangan Indus Script inscription meDha ‘post, stake’ rebus: meD ‘iron’ kola ‘tiger’ rebus: kol ‘working in iron’ kolhe ‘smelter’ bhaTa ‘warrior’ rebus: bhaTa ‘furnace’ koD ‘horn’ rebus: koD ‘workshop’ kuThI ‘twig’ rebus: kuThi ‘smelter’.

binjorBinjor yūpa, yaṣṭi (octagonal) aṣṭāśrir yūpo bhavati (śat. Br. V.2.1.5)

Binjor seal with Indus Script inscription. http://tinyurl.com/z2q2rk6

Binjor octagonal brick as a skambha, pillar mēthí m. ʻ pillar in threshing floor to which oxen are fastened, prop for supporting carriage shafts ʼ AV., °thī — f. KātyŚr.com., mēdhī — f. Divyāv. 2. mēṭhī — f. PañcavBr.com., mēḍhī — , mēṭī — f. BhP.1. Pa. mēdhi — f. ʻ post to tie cattle to, pillar, part of a stūpa ʼ; Pk. mēhi — m. ʻ post on threshing floor ʼ, N. meh(e), mihomiyo, B. mei, Or. maï — dāṇḍi, Bi. mẽhmẽhā ʻ the post ʼ, (SMunger) mehā ʻ the bullock next the post ʼ, Mth. mehmehā ʻ the post ʼ, (SBhagalpur)mīhã̄ ʻ the bullock next the post ʼ, (SETirhut) mẽhi bāṭi ʻ vessel with a projecting base ʼ.2. Pk. mēḍhi — m. ʻ post on threshing floor ʼ, mēḍhaka<-> ʻ small stick ʼ; K. mīrmīrü f. ʻ larger hole in ground which serves as a mark in pitching walnuts ʼ (for semantic relation of ʻ post — hole ʼ see kūpa — 2); L. meṛh f. ʻ rope tying oxen to each other and to post on threshing floor ʼ; P. mehṛ f., mehaṛ m. ʻ oxen on threshing floor, crowd ʼ; OA meṛhamehra ʻ a circular construction, mound ʼ; Or. meṛhī,meri ʻ post on threshing floor ʼ; Bi. mẽṛ ʻ raised bank between irrigated beds ʼ, (Camparam) mẽṛhā ʻ bullock next the post ʼ, Mth. (SETirhut) mẽṛhā ʻ id. ʼ; M. meḍ(h), meḍhī f., meḍhā m. ʻ post, forked stake ʼ.mēthika — ; mēthiṣṭhá — . mēthika m. ʻ 17th or lowest cubit from top of sacrificial post ʼ lex. [mēthí — ]Bi. mẽhiyā ʻ the bullock next the post on threshing floor ʼ.mēthiṣṭhá ʻ standing at the post ʼ TS. [mēthí — , stha — ] Bi. (Patna) mĕhṭhā ʻ post on threshing floor ʼ, (Gaya) mehṭāmẽhṭā ʻ the bullock next the post ʼ.(CDIAL 10317 to, 10319)

The Binjor seal inscription has been dciphered as a metalwork catalogue — a collection of implements from a smithy/smelter workshop:

Binjor Seal Text.

Fish + scales, aya ã̄s (amśu) ‘metallic stalks of stone ore’. Vikalpa: badhoṛ ‘a species of fish with many bones’ (Santali) Rebus: baḍhoe ‘a carpenter, worker in wood’; badhoria ‘expert in working in wood’(Santali)

gaNDa ‘four’ Rebus: khaNDa ‘metal implements’ Together with cognate ancu ‘iron’ the message is: native metal implements.

Thus, the hieroglyph multiplex reads: aya ancu khaNDa ‘metallic iron alloy implements’.

koḍi ‘flag’ (Ta.)(DEDR 2049). Rebus 1: koḍ ‘workshop’ (Kuwi) Rebus 2: khŏḍ m. ‘pit’, khö̆ḍü f. ‘small pit’ (Kashmiri. CDIAL 3947)

The bird hieroglyph: karaḍa

करण्ड  m. a sort of duck L. కారండవము (p. 0274) [ kāraṇḍavamu ] kāraṇḍavamu. [Skt.] n. A sort of duck. (Telugu) karaṭa1 m. ʻ crow ʼ BhP., °aka — m. lex. [Cf. karaṭu — , karkaṭu — m. ʻ Numidian crane ʼ, karēṭu — , °ēṭavya — , °ēḍuka — m. lex., karaṇḍa2 — m. ʻ duck ʼ lex: see kāraṇḍava — ]Pk. karaḍa — m. ʻ crow ʼ, °ḍā — f. ʻ a partic. kind of bird ʼ; S. karaṛa — ḍhī˜gu m. ʻ a very large aquatic bird ʼ; L. karṛā m., °ṛī f. ʻ the common teal ʼ.(CDIAL 2787) Rebus: karaḍā ‘hard alloy’

Thus, the text of Indus Script inscription on the Binjor Seal reads: ‘metallic iron alloy implements, hard alloy workshop’ PLUS the hieroglyphs of one-horned young bull PLUS standard device in front read rebus:

kõda ‘young bull, bull-calf’ rebus: kõdā ‘to turn in a lathe’; kōnda ‘engraver, lapidary’; kundār ‘turner’.

Hieroglyph: sãghāṛɔ ‘lathe’.(Gujarati) Rebus: sangara ‘proclamation.

Together, the message of the Binjor Seal with inscribed text is a proclamation, a metalwork catalogue (of)  ‘metallic iron alloy implements, hard alloy workshop’ .

An exposition by Sadhashiv A Dange: “the yūpa is described as being the emblem of the sacrifice (RV III.8.8 yajñasya ketu). Though it is fixed on the terrestrial plane at the sacrifice, it is expected to reach the path of the gods. Thus, about the many sacrificial poles (fixed in the Paśubandha, or at the Horse-sacrifice) it is said that they actually provide the path for reaching the gods (ib., 9 devānām api yanti pāthah). They are invoked to carry the oferings to the gods (ib., 7 te no vyantu vāryam devatrā), which is the prerogative of the fire-god who is acclaiemd as ‘messenger’ (dūta); cf. RV I.12.1 agrim dūtam vṛṇimahe). In what way is the yūpa expected to carry the chosen offering to the gods? It is when the victim is tied to the sacrificial pole. The prallelism between the sacrificial fire and the yūpa is clear. The fire carries it through the smoke and flames; the yūpa is believed to carry it before that, when the victim is tied to it, as its upper end is believed to touch heaven. A more vivid picture obtains at the yajapeya. Here the yūpa is eight-angled, corresponding to the eight qurters. (śat. Br. V.2.1.5 aṣṭāśrir yūpo bhavati; the reason given is that the metre Gayatri has eight letters in one foot; not applicable here, as it is just hackneyed. At Taitt.Sam. I.7.9.1, in this context a four-angled yūpa is prescribed.) The one yūpa is conceived as touching three worlds: Heaven, Earth and the nether subterranean. The portion that is above the caṣāla (ring) made of wheat-dough (cf.śat. Br. V.2.1.6 gaudhūmam caṣālam bhavati) represents Heaven. This is clear from the rite of ascending to the caṣālamade of wheat-dough, in the Vajapeya sacrifice. The sarificer ascends to it with the help of a ladder (niśrayaṇī); and, while doing so, calls upon his wife, ‘Wife, come; let us ascend to Heaven’.  As soon as he ascends and touches the caṣāla, he utters,  ‘We have reached Heavven, O gods’ (ib., 12). According to Sāyaṇa on the Taiit.Sam. I.7.9.1, the sacrificer stretches his hands upwards when he reaches the  caṣāla and says, ‘We have reached the gods that stay in heaven’ (udgṛhītābhyām bāhubhyām). Even out of the context of the Vajapeya, when the yūpa is erected (say in the Paśubandha), it is addressed, ‘For the earth you, for the mid-region you, for heaven you (do we hoist you)’ (Taitt. Sam. I.3.6.1-3; cf. śat. Br. III.7.1.5-6). The chiselled portion of the  yūpa is above the earth. So, from the earth to heaven, through the mid-region the yūpa represents the three-regions. The un-chiselled portion of the yūpa is fixed in the pit (avaṭa) and the avaṭa, which represents the subterranean regions, is the region of the ancestors (ib.4).The yūpa, thus, is the axis mundi…Then, it gave rise to various myths, one of them being that of the stūpa of Varuṇa, developing further into Aśvattha tree, which is nothing but a symbol of a tree standing with roots in the sun conceived as the horse (aśva-stha = aśvattha), a symbol obtaining at varius places in the Hindu tradition. It further developed into the myth of the churning staff of the mountain (Amṛta-manthana); and yet further, into the myth of Vasu Uparicara, whom Indra is said to have given his yaṣṭi (Mb.Adi. 6y3.12-19). This myth of the yaṣṭi was perpetuated in the ritual of the Indra-dhvaja in the secular practice (Brhatsamhita, Chapter XLII), while in the s’rauta practice the original concept of the axis mundi was transformed into the yūpa that reached all regions, including the under-earth. There is another important angle to the yūpa. As the axis mundi it stands erect to the east of the Uttaravedi and indicates the upward move to heaven. This position is unique. If one takes into account the position of the Gārhapatya and the āhavaniya fireplaces, it gets clear that the march is from the earth to heaven; because, the Gārhapatya is associated with this earth and it is the household fire (cf. gṛhā vai gārhapatyah, a very common saying in the ritual texts), and the seat of the sacrificer’s wife is just near it, along with the wives of the gods, conceptually. From this fire a portion is led to the east, in the quarter of the rising sun (which is in tune with such expressions as prāñcam yajñam pra nayatā sahāyah, RV X.101.2); where the Ahavaniya fireplace is structured. As the offerings for the gods are cast in the Ahavaniya, this fire is the very gate of heaven. And, here stands, the yūpa to its east taking a rise heavenwards. This is, by far, the upward rise. But, on the horizontal plane, the yūpa is posted half-inside, half-outside the altar. The reason is, that thereby it controls the sacred region and also the secular, i.e. both heaven and earth, a belief attested by the ritual texts. (Tait. Sam. VI.6.4.1; Mait. Sam. III.9.4).”(Dange, SA, 2002, Gleanings from Vedic to Puranic age, New Delhi, Aryan Books International, pp. 20-24).

The Sukta RV X.101 reads, explaining the entire yajña as a metaphor of golden-tinted soma poured into a wooden bowl, a smelting process yielding weapons of war and transport and implements of daily life:


10.101.01 Awake, friends, being all agreed; many in number, abiding in  one dwelling, kindle Agni. I invoke you, Dadhikra, Agni, and the divine Us.as, who are associated with Indra, for our protection. [In one dwelling: lit., in one nest; in one hall].
10.101.02 Construct exhilarating (hymns), spread forth praises, construct the ship which is propelled by oars, prepare your weapons, make ready, lead forth, O friends, the herald, the adorable (Agni).
10.101.03 Harness the ploughs, fit on the yokes, now that the womb of earth is ready, sow the seed therein, and through our praise may there be abundant food; may (the grain) fall ripe towards the sickle. [Through our praise: sow the seed with praise, with a prayer of the Veda; s’rus.t.i = rice and other different kinds of food].
10.101.04 The wise (priests) harness the ploughs, they lay the yokes apart, firmly devoted through the desire of happiness. [Happiness: sumnaya_ =  to give pleasure to the gods].
10.101.05 Set up the cattle-troughs, bind the straps to it; let us pour out (the water of) the well, which is full of water, fit to be poured out, and not easily exhausted.
10.101.06 I pour out (the water of) the well, whose cattle troughs are prepared, well fitted with straps, fit to be poured out, full of water, inexhaustible.
10.101.07 Satisfy the horses, accomplish the good work (of ploughing), equip a car laden with good fortune, pour out (the water of) the well, having wooden cattle-troughs having a stone rim, having a receptable like armour, fit for the drinking of men.
10.101.08 Construct the cow-stall, for that is the drinking place of your leaders (the gods), fabricate armour, manifold and ample; make cities of metal and impregnable; let not the ladle leak, make it strong.
10.101.09 I attract, O gods, for my protection, your adorable, divine mine, which is deserving of sacrifice and worship here; may it milk forth for us, like a large cow with milk, giving a thousand strreams, (having eaten) fodder and returned.
10.101.10 Pour out the golden-tinted Soma into the bowl of the wooden cup, fabricate it with the stone axes, gird it with ten bands, harness the beast of burden to the two poles (of the cart).
10.101.11 The beast of burden pressed with the two cart-poles, moves as if on the womb of sacrifice having two wives. Place the chariot in the wood, without digging store up the Soma.
10.101.12 Indra, you leaders, is the giver of happiness; excite the giver of happiness, stimulate him, sport with him for the acquisition of food, bring down here, O priests, Indra, the son of Nis.t.igri_, to drink the Soma. [Nis.t.igri_ = a name of Aditi: nis.t.im ditim svasapatni_m girati_ti nis.t.igri_raditih].

S. Kalyanaraman Sarasvati Research Center December 28, 2015


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