Dr. V. S. Wakankar

Search for the lost River Saraswati

Rivers have always played a significant role in the evolution of civilizations. Most of the prehistoric civilizations have flourished on the banks of rivers. Indian civilization is also referred to as Indus (Sindhu) Valley Civilization due to the findings of proto - historic sites of Harappa and Mohenjo - Daro on the banks of River Indus (Sindhu), now in Pakistan.

The Vedic literature however, is full of references to River Saraswati. She is referred as "Naditama" meaning the widest of all rivers.

Currently there is a belief that invisible River Saraswati meets Ganga and Yamuna at their confluence at Triveni Sangam, Prayag Uttar Pradesh. The origin of this belief is not known, nor is there any evidence of this merger.

With the finds of Harappa and Mohenjo - Daro have originated, what appears to be a fabricated history of Origin of Aryans. It has been claimed that Aryans came from outside and drove the original inhabitants of Harappa and Mohenjadaro to the East.

This theory does not find any supporting events in archaeological evidences. On the other hand the Vedic literature is full of hymns praising River Saraswati and also begging her not to abandon them, suggesting a steady decline in the waters of this river finally resulting in its total disappearance.

It was therefore a hard pressed need to find out the reality and a group of specialist joined hands to form the "Saraswati Shodh Abhiyan". Dr. Vishnu Shridhar Wakankar was the leader of this group.

This website is dedicated to the efforts of this team and the theories and evidences put forth for further debate and research.

Even before this project was undertaken, several individuals had done surveys and research on their own. These studies had revealed their limitations in terms of techniques and resources available to these researchers, yet their findings have great value in this project.

It must be noted that search of the Vanished River Saraswati is not a mere search for the lost river, but a search for the roots of its civilization.

  1. One of the earliest reference to River Saraswati was the one mentioned by General Sir Cunningham.
    Apart from his role as a military commander, it was his hobby to study pre - historic sites. While surveying the Himalayan region, he came across the name of a river 'Sarsuti' which reminded him of River Saraswati. He referred to a quote which stated that "Al Beruni reported, during the invasion of Mahmood Gazhni, a river bed full of stones as River Saraswati" [Archaeological Survey of India, Vol. 14 Pahe 88, 1887]
  2. Arthur A MacDonald has described River Saraswati in detail "A History of Sanskrit Literature" in 1887.
  3. Arul Stein - a British archaeologist had done an independent survey of River Saraswati in 1942.
  4. Mr. Keith - colleague of Arthur MacDonald has referred to Mandal 10-75-5 in Rigveda. He states "Modern Saraswati", west of Thaneshwar joined in the Pahad by more westerly stream of Ghaagar, passing Sirsa is lost in the desert of Bhanair".
  5. Dr. N. A. Godbole, Head of Technical Science branch of Banaras Hindu University conducted detailed and intense studies of Rigvedic Saraswati in 1963.
  6. American satellite 'Landsat' has through its aerial photography revealed the dried bed of River Saraswati in its satellite maps.

All this has given impetus to the current research and provided much needed base for these studies.

At the behest of Shri Moropant Pingale a seminar on "Vedic River Saraswati" was conducted on 10th February 1983 at Krishnadham - Kurukshetra. The aim of this seminar was to formulate a detailed plan of action for the research on River Saraswati - defining various departments, realize and fix the scope and boundaries of the project, get together experts and volunteers for the project etc.

This seminar was inaugurated by Dr. Udayveer Singh, Head of Indian History, Culture and Archaeology Department of University of Kurukshetra. Shri. Hari Anant Phadke from his department gave a lucid lecture on River Saraswati. Immediately a centre for studies on "River Saraswati" was constituted.

This was followed by a state level seminar on the subject on 13th February 1983. Prof. Sthanudatta Sharma - Sanskrit Scholar presided over this seminar. Shri. Moropant Pingale, Dr. V. S. Wakankar, Shri. Thakur Ram Simhji guided the participants of the seminar.

A local committee of 15 persons for Haryana was formed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Omprakash Bharadwaj.

As the course of dried Saraswati, as revealed by the satellite image passes through Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat and advisory body comprising following members was formed for the project.

  1. Padma Shri Dr. V. S. Wakankar - Convener
  2. Shri. Moropant Pingale - Nagpur
  3. Dr. Swarajya Prakash Gupta - Delhi
  4. Dr. Ratanchandra Agarwal - Jaipur
  5. Dr. K. P. Dhurandhar - Delhi
  6. Shri. Thakur Ramsimh - Chandigarh
  7. Pandit Sthanudatta Sharma - Kurukshetra
  8. Prof. Bansibhai Soni - Ahmedabad
  9. Dr. Satishchandra Mittal - Kurukshetra
  10. Pandit Chandrakant Bali - Delhi
  11. Pandit Premvallabh Shashtri - Gujarat
  12. Dr. Sureshchandra Vajpayee - Delhi
  13. Dr. Surendrakumar Arya - Ujjain
  14. Dr. Bhuvaneshwarprasad Gurumaita - Hissar
  15. Dr. Nityanand Sharma - Dehradun
  16. Dr. Thakurprasad Verma - Kashi
  17. Dr. Sumanvahan Pandya - Ahmedabad
  18. Dr. G. P. Deshmukh - Jaipur

Shri. Vishwabandhu managed the Delhi Office.

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