Dr. S.Sankaranarayana Sastri, my mānasika Guru and a scholar par excellence, indentified a seal from Indus civilization at Mohanjadaro very interestingly vide his article “An Indua Seal with Soma sacrificial theme”. The seal has a horned tree goddess or mother goddess, perhaps nude, who is standing on a papal tree which is represented in a conventional and unnaturalistic way and who is being worshipped by a suppliant, perhaps another goddess, kneeling and being accompanied by a composite animal partly bull and partly goat, but having a human face. This animal, though its meaning is not clear, may be a protecting local deity. Further the seal exhibits in the lower register seven figures, perhaps ministrants or votaries or priest of deities of lesser rank reminding us of the deities śītala and her sisters, all perhaps engaged in a ritual dance. Let us see the seal.

seal with soma sacrifice

seal with soma sacrifice

outline of the seal

outline of the seal

He further analysed the previous views of Buddha prakash, Dr. S.R.Rao who identified the seal as the members described in Asya vāmasya hymn of Ṛgveda and a devotee praying to the fire god.

He made so many questions on the identification and on the basis of the agnikuṇḍa in square form and the Gomṛga type of animal, he compared the seal with the following Vedic story.

Formerly the gods were in this world and the Soma creeper in the third heaven. The gods were desirous of getting the creeper here for performing the Soma sacrifice. Hence they called two women, Kadrū and Suparṇi by name. Of these two, the latter gave birth to the metres. Once, there arose a beauty contest between these two ladies. In that contest Kadru came out successful and consequently the other one became her slave. However the victor Kadru informed the vanquished Suparṇi that the latter could win her freedom if she could manage to bring soma from the third heaven. On this Suparṇi asked her own daughters viz the metres to bring soma. Accordingly the elder metres Jagatī and Triṣṭubh tried their best, but failed grievously. Then  Gāyatrī, the youngest of the metres went and with the help of a glowing she-goat, she brough soma to the earth. Because she brought Soma, she is kept in the forefront of the sacrifices and is held to be foremost among the metres.

While Gāyatrī was carrying off Soma to the earth, Viśvāvasu, the Gandharva, stole it off. The creeper remained in the custody of the Gandharvas for three days. Then the clever gods thought of a plan to redeem Soma and they successfully executed it. Observing the Gandharvas being mad after women, the gods changed speech (Vāk) into a woman of one year old and sent her to the Gandharvas and redeemed Soma, obviously while the Gandharvas, being allured by speech did not guard the creeper properly. Then afterwards, speech took the form of a Rohit or a kind of deer and ran away from the Gandharvas. Now, with a view to lure her back, the Gandharvas uttered some spell. On the other hand, the gods created a Vīṇā or lute and started playing in it and singing too. Now speech turned away from the Gandharvas and moved towards the gods. That is why the women even now, fall in love with one who sings. Because the gods redeemed Soma with speech of one year old, so the sacrifice should purchase the soma with a cow of one year old.

This story must have been quite popular in the so called later Vedic stage, because we find it atleast in the Kāṭaka(XXIII, 10), Kapiṣṭhala (III.vii.3-4) and Taittarīya saṃhitās (VI.1.6) and in the śatapatha Brāhmaṇa (III.ii.4). Though these texts have slight variations in their respective versions of the story, they are all practically complementary.

Further, based on the story said above, he made the following identifications.

  1. The creeper saw in the seal is Soma that was stolen by the gandharvas and redeemed by the gods and the structure is not a papal tree. It should be noted that the commentators identified the ṛgvedic word “Aśvattha” with soma.
  2. The female figure is Gāyatri metre. The triśūla structure may denote the Tripadā form of Gāyatr
  3. The male figure inside the creeper could be somarāja who is believed to be preside over the soma creeper.
  4. The Vedic alter shown is justified thus.
  5. The seven figures in the bottom of the seal could be the seven priests (Sapta ṛtvijaḥ) of the sacrifices, if the figure are males or if they are females, then they could be seven sisters of Gāyatrī viz Triṣṭubh, Jagatī, Anuṣṭubh, Paṅkti, Bṛhatī, Uṣṇik and Kakut.
  6. The deer cum female calf is meant to represent the speech in the form of a rohit. A human face is attached to the animal to denote that the same has speaking power.
  7. The damaged part in the seal may be the Vīṇā or lute.

The two lines written above were read as “Tridaśasāra” by him which strengthens the view. He further concluded that If so called Vedic-āryans and Non-āryans were existing in the valley, they must have lived more harmoniously.

It should be noted that this story is converted as the story of Garuḍa during puṛāṇa period. Gāyatrī became Garuḍa and the Kadrū and Suparṇa the name remained the same. Soma was converted to Amṛta. The hymns of Veṅkaṭanātha (Deśika) may be referred in this context.

Bearing his name, though devoid of intellect, why should I keep quite? I make my venture in identifying another story from the seals.


The seal has two figures one male and a female. The female is in squashed position and showing her private parts. This shows that the female is longing for intercourse with the male. The concept connects the same with the Yama-yami samvāda of ṛgveda where yamī is longing for the intercourse which is being rejected by yama.

Thus it can be stated that the seals from the valley should be also viewed in the light of Vedic stories too.

Pictures : from Net

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