Chapter IV
 Religion of Harappa

 Indus Valley had no temples.
Hence if they had any religion, it was not temple based.
Though much has been claimed regarding the religion of Mohen-jodero and Hariyappa, all of them are based on imaginative conjectures.  There is no documentation more than five lines on the seals as literature of the land.  Over the century of efforts, these few lines and scattered seal letters are not decipherable.
Some examples can be given below:


This female figure is supposed to prove a fertility cult in the land
The "Great Bath" of Mohenjo-Daro is the earliest known public water tank of the ancient world.
It is proposed that this tank would have been used in conjunction with religious ceremonies. Baptism? Purification?  Like all others these will remain as conjectures.


This is a seal found in Harappa.  It is interpreted as Proto Siva called Pasupathi.  Pasu in Tamil means cattle (cow or bull).  The name came from the horns simulating the cows around the figure.The sitting posture is also assigned the yogic posture.  But is it a religious figure at all?


If the Horns of the bull (seal number 420) suggests the name Pasupati - the Lord of Cattle. Is he sitting in Yoga posture?  So is he a Yoga god? 

The name Siva is identical with the names of the early Hebrew patriarchs who migrated and started the Indus Valley Civilization. It also were the traditional names of the Children of Abraham through Keturah. They were originally cow herds and hunters and the horn headdress is common even today in the Cushite regions of Egypt and Sudan.  Assigning deitihood to them is simple a post-Vedic development.
The following is a nice conjecture based on this single seal:

“The people of the Indus Valley also appear to have worshipped a male god. The most important depiction of an imagined Hinduism god is seal number 420. Many other seals have been found depicting the same figure, but not in the same detail as number 420. The deity is wearing a headdress that has horns, the shape being reminiscent of the crescent moon that modern image of Siva shows on his forehead.
What are thought to be linga stones have been dug up. Linga stones in modern Hinduism are used to represent the erect male phallus or the male reproductive power of the god Siva (my note: Or is it so?  I have some Saivite vehemently repudiatinf it.  I have seen some of these metalic lingas in the San Jose, California in front of houses.I believe it has something to do with the telephone lines). But again, these stones could be something entirely different from objects of religious worship. Even today, Siva is worshiped in both human form and that of the phallus. The deity sitting in a yoga-like position suggests that yoga may have been a legacy of the very first great culture that occupied India.” http://www.ancient.eu/article/230/  

“The so-called Pashupati seal, showing a seated and possibly ithyphallic (having an erect penis) figure, surrounded by animals. Gregory L. Possehl (1941 – 2011), who was a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and renown authority on the Indus Sarasvati Civilisation has concluded that while it would be appropriate to recognize the figure as a deity, regarding it as a proto-Shiva, something which has been done by other researcher, would be going too far.” http://www.humanjourney.us/preAxialHarappa4.html

As it stands without any literature or consistent repeated icons which can be definitely identified as religious objects we cannot make any statement regarding the religion of Indus civilization. One thing is certain; they did not have a temple or idols.  They left no definite identifiable icons of religion.  This is common to the Abrahamic and als in Iranic Aryan civilizations.

Like wise this figure is supposed to represent the Priestly King of Harappa.
National Museum, Karachi, 50.852

By tradition the head of the households were considered priests in the Hebrew tradition.
Under these conditions we can make some possibilities regarding their religion.
  •  Worship of nature,
  •  Worship of some non-iconised God or gods.
Did they use sacrifices? Possibly. May be both vegetable and animal sacrifices. How about human sacrifices? Possible.
If we look at the culture of the region occupied by the early Habirus and Aryans there certainly was close similarity between the two colliding groups as they were living neighbors.  They both originated in Mesopotamia. In fact the Abrahamic worship included the same mode as the Mesopotamian and Iranian neighbors where Abraham was brought up.

Religion of Israel and Judaism

In the Israelite worship we find memorial stone, sacrificial altar and Calf.  Here is an excerpt from Jewish encyclopaedia showing the wide commonality between the Aryan tribes and the Jewish people.  This is to be expected if they all lived together begore Abraham was called.  The culture of worship form invariably remained identical.

Another commonality is the use of Stone in the worship in pillars, altars and dolmen.



By: Emil G. Hirsch, Immanuel Benzinger 

Maẓẓebah. Cromlech Near 'Amman.(From a photograph by the Palestine Exploration Fund.)

“ Sacred stones are mentioned with great frequency in the Old Testament;

  • they were erected by Jacob at
Beth-el (Gen. xxviii. 18; comp. xxxi. 13),

                    at Shechem (Gen. xxxiii. 20 [where should be read instead of ),
                    at Gilead (Gen. xxxi. 52), and over the grave of Rachel; and

  • by Joshua in the sanctuary of Shechem (Josh. xxiv. 26; comp. Judges ix. 6).
                    The "stone of help" ("Eben-ezer") set up by Samuel (I Sam. vii. 12) was such a "maẓẓebah"; and
 other sacred stones existed
 at Gibeon (II Sam. xx. 8),
 at Enrogel (I Kings i. 9, "the serpent-stone"), and
  at Michmash (I Sam. xiv. 33).
  • Twelve stones of this characterwere set up by Moses near his altar at the foot of Mount Sinai (Ex. xxiv. 4),
  • and a circle of twelve at Gilgal was ascribed to Joshua (Josh. iv. 20).
  • Finally, Jachin and Boaz, the two columns of the Temple (I Kings vii. 15 et seq.), were such maẓẓebot, not intended as supports for the building, but possessing an independent purpose, as is shown by their names.

The Phenician temples also contained such columns, and maẓẓebot long served as legitimate symbols of Yhwh. Even the prophet Hosea forewarned Israel of the terrible days to come (Hos. iii. 4; comp. x. 12), when they should be "without a sacrifice, and without an image ["maẓẓebah"], and without an ephod, and without teraphim"—that is, without public worship; while Isaiah prefigured the conversion of Egypt to Yhwh with the words, "There shall be . . . a pillar at the border thereof to the Lord" (Isa. xix. 19, Hebr.).

Dolmen.(After Conder.)

Cromlech.(From Benziger, "Hebräische Archäologie.")

The Deuteronomic, code, on the other hand, rejected the maẓẓebot, rightly recognizing that they did not originally belong to the cult of Yhwh, but had been adopted from the Canaanites (Deut. xii. 3, xvi. 22; comp. Lev. xxvi. 1, and the commandment to destroy the maẓẓebot, "asherot," and similar objects of Canaanitish worship in Ex. xxiii. 24 and xxxiv. 13). The Deuteronomic historian accordingly regarded the downfall of the people as due to the erection of these maẓẓebot by Judah and Israel (I Kings xiv. 23; II Kings xvii. 10), while the pious kings showed their righteousness by destroying them (II Kings iii. 2, x. 26, xviii. 4, xxiii. 14).

Semitic Stone-Worship.
The worship of sacred stones constituted one of the most general and ancient forms of religion; but among no other people was this worship so important as among the Semites. The religion of the nomads of Syria and Arabia was summarized by Clement of Alexandria in the single statement, "The Arabs worship the stone," and all the data afforded by Arabian authors regarding the pre-Islamitic faith confirm his words. The sacred stone ("nuṣb"; plural, "anṣab") is a characteristic and indispensable feature in an ancient Arabian place of worship. Among the Canaanites, as the Old Testament abundantly proves, the worship of maẓẓebot was common; while with regard to the Phenicians, Herodotus states (ii. 44) that the temple of Melkart at Tyre contained two sacred pillars. In like manner, two columns were erected for the temples at Paphos and Hierapolis, and a conical stone was worshiped as a symbol of Astarte in her temple in the former city. The representation of the temple of Byblos on a coin shows a similar conical pillar. Such examples may readily be multiplied (comp. Ezek. xxvi. 12).

These stones were extremely diverse in form, ranging from rough blocks, over which the blood of the sacrifice, or the anointing-oil, was poured (Gen. xxviii. 18; I Sam. xiv. 33 et seq.), to carefully wrought columns, such as those erected in the Temple of Solomon or in the Phenician sanctuaries. A number of simple stone columns have been preserved. Thus there is a Phenician boundary-stone from Cyprus, in the form of an obelisk, and set on a small pedestal; others have been found in the excavations of the Deutscher Palästinaverein at Tell al-Mutasallim, the ancient Megiddo. The sanctuary at the latter place had at its entrance two stone columns, simple quadrilateral monoliths, tapering slightly toward the top, and very similar to the maẓẓebot at the entrance to the place of sacrifice in the ancient Edomite sanctuary at Petra.

Phenician Maẓẓebah.(From Benzinger, "Hebräische Archäologie.")Belief Involved.
The original signification of the sacred stone is well illustrated by the account of the one at Beth-el (Gen. xxviii.). Jacob slept with a stone for a pillow, and dreamed that the Lord addressed him. When he awoke he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not"; then he anointed the stone, or, in other words, rendered an offering to it. This belief in a maẓẓebah, or in a stone, as the habitation of a deity is spread throughout the world, and even the designation "Beth-el." was adopted among the Greeks and Romans, under the forms βαιτύλιον and "bætulus," to denote a stone of this character. At a very early period the stone served likewise as an altar of sacrifice, and the offering laid upon it was by implication given to the deity that dwelt therein. It must also be borne in mind that originally, even in the case of a burnt offering, it was the blood and not the act of burning which constituted the essential of the sacrifice, and that the shedding of blood on the sacred stone served the same purpose as anointing it. There was no idea, however, of identifying the deity with the stone, as is shown by the fact that a number of stones, or trees, sacred to a divinity might stand together. Where specially chosen or prepared sacred stones took the place of natural landmarks, they expressed an invitation to the deity to take up his abode in them (comp. Hos. xiii. 2). Among the Greeks the sacred pillars of stone were developed into images of the deity, and received a head and a phallus; but the Israelitish maẓẓebot, did not pass through this evolution.

Relation to Altar. 

It is clear that the maẓẓebah and the altar originally coincided. When the Arabs offered bloody sacrifices the blood was smeared on the sacred stones, and in the case of offerings of oil the stones were anointed (comp. Gen. xxviii. 18, xxxi. 13). The same statement holds true of the Greco-Roman cult, although the black stone of Mecca, on the other hand, is caressed and kissed by the worshipers. In the course of time, however, the altar and the sacred stone were differentiated, and stones of this character were erected around the altar. Among both Canaanites and Israelites the maẓẓebah was separated from the altar, which thus became the place for the burning of the victim as well as for the shedding of its blood. That the altar was a development from the sacred stone is clearly shown by the fact that, in accordance with ancient custom, hewn stones might not be used in its construction.

5000 year old Stone Pillar of Harappa

It thus becomes evident that originally the maẓ-ẓebot were unknown to the Sinaitic Yhwh cult, although the entire course of history renders their incorporation in the religion of Israel readily intelligible. Such sacred stones were found by the Israelites in the Canaanite sanctuaries and on the "high places," and were thus taken over like so many other features of religious observance. No attempt was made, however, to justify such a usage, or to bring it into relation with the cult of Yhwh, but these sacred stones came to be regarded as memorials of events in the lives of the Patriarchs or in the history of the nation, as in the case of Jacob's stone at Beth-el, Joshua's at Gilgal, and the stone Samuel set up between Mizpeh and Shen.”

The Bible makes clear reference to these structures in many places:
Genesis ch 28 v 18
And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. (Menhir)
Genesis ch 28 v 22
And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. (Menhir)
Genesis ch 31 v 45
And Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. (Menhir)
Genesis ch 31 v 46
Genesis ch 35 v 7
And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. (Dolmen)
Genesis ch 35 v 14
And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon. (Menhir)
Exodus ch 24 v 4
Exodus ch 20 v 25
Deuteronomy ch 27 v 1 – 5
5And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. (Menhir, Dolmen, Cromlech)
1 Samuel ch 7 v 12
and many more.

Qorbanot: Sacrifices and Offerings  

Closely associated with the stone is the Korban, the sacrifice.  This is something we still see in almost all nomadic tribes.  It is in fact a communion time where all the tribe or families meet together and eat together and praise God for his mercies..Animal sacrifices are important rituals even today and are held at appointed times of the festivals, such as at the beginning of the rainy season, at the blessing of the crops, and at harvest and end of the year celebrations. The sacrifices are usually conducted at the location of the totem such a fig tree, river, or at a shrine. At these prayers, spiritual leaders call for adequate rains, cattle and human health, and peace. This practice is common among most cultures as a celebration as is among the Hebrews.

In the Hebrew language term korban is used for a variety of sacrificial offerings described and commanded in the Torah. The most common usages are animal sacrifice (zevah), peace offering and olah "burnt offering." Hebrew ". This term does not mean literally "burnt offering," but "what is brought up" or presented to the Deity,  "an offering made by fire unto the Lord" (Lev. 1: 9 ). 

The Hebrew Bible narrates that God commanded the Israelites to offer offerings and sacrifices on various altars. The sacrifices were only to be offered by the hands of the Jewish priesthood, the priests. Before building the Temple in Jerusalem, when the children of Israel were in the desert, sacrifices were offered only in the Tabernacle. After building the First Temple sacrifices were allowed only in the Temple in Jerusalem. After the First Temple was destroyed sacrifices was resumed in the Second Temple period until it was also destroyed in 70 CE. After the destruction of the Second Temple sacrifices were prohibited because there was no longer a Temple, the only place allowed by Halakha for sacrifices. Offering of sacrifices was briefly reinstated during the Jewish-Roman Wars of the 2nd century AD and was continued in certain communities thereafter.

The offering were often cooked and most of it eaten by the offerer, with parts given to the priests and small parts burned on the Temple mizbe'ah. Only in special cases were all of the offering given only to God, such as the case of the scapegoat.  A korban was a kosher animal sacrifice, such as a bull, sheep, goat, deer or a dove that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). Sacrifices could also consist grain, meal, wine, or incense.

As one can see, these are common factors between the various cultures and religions of the middle east.  The origin of the sacrifices and rituals are cultural expressions of the people and is determined by the place rather than religion.  What was different was to whom it was directed to and the purpose of it.

  • communion within the community- sacrifice was a part of a social feast—a family meal in a wider and deeper sense. In the "zebaḥ," the fundamental animal offering only the fat is burnt and the remainder is used as communion.
  • homage or devotionto the Deity; it was the giving back to the beneficent Deity of a part of what He had bestowed an expression of thanksgiving.
  •  Expiation of sin.    

The first “burnt offering” was that offered by Noah after the flood waters had subsided, at which time he offered “burnt offerings” of all the clean animals (Gen. 8:20). Thus the mode of worship using burnt offering became part of all the nations of the world and is seen all over the world.  God instructed Abraham to offer up Isaac as a “burnt offering” (Gen. 22:2ff.), and so the ram which God in Isaac’s place was offered by Abraham as a burnt offering (Gen. 22:13). When Moses told Pharaoh that Israel must take their cattle with them into the wilderness to worship their God, it was because they needed them to offer burnt offerings (Exod. 10:25-26). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, offered a burnt offering to God in Exodus chapter 18 (v. 12). The Israelites offered up burnt offerings in conjunction with their meeting with God and receiving His covenant on Mt. Sinai (Exod. 20:24; 24:5, etc.). When the Israelites worshipped the golden calf they offered up burnt offerings as a part of their false worship (Exod. 32:6).  
Human sacrifice also may have been part of these religions as is seen in Abraham’s sacrifice
. Animal sacrifices were certainly a  part.  All or only part of a sacrificial animal may be offered, especially in the context of ritual slaughter. Animal sacrifices were common throughout Europe and the Ancient Near East until Late Antiquity. The Minoan settlement of Phaistos in ancient Crete reveals basins for animal sacrifice dating to the period 2000 to 1700 BC.   In the Biblical period that was the standard form of public worship even before the temple period.  On the mount Horeb when the dual to determine whose god is supreme Elijah and the local Bal worshippers used the animal burnt offering as a test.  Thus we should expect the modes of worship of the Harappans and the immigrant Aryan community from mesopotamia to be identical.  The only difference was the god. Related to this also is the altar of stone - the Linga.  While the Aryans worshipped the natural forces and the heavenly hosts, Harappans worshipped the God of Abraham.
I have always believed that the Paravas and Kuravas and other castes probably were the carriers of the faith and traditions of the Harappans.  In my childhood I have watched their rituals with interest simply because their worship did not contain any idols or icons.  They danced and had orgies and had the concept of a supreme spirit who was the creator of all cosmos.  Unlike the Hindus they buried their dead and never resorted to the malpractices of sati and wife burning.  Apparently no one cared to study their religion and we have lost our last chance.
Since the mode of worship of the early Aryans and the Dravids were of the same form and both did not have any visible icons or idols and  we are left with no identifiable religious artifacts. If anything can be assumed it is that they called themselves the Children of Abrahams and probably known all over the world for their wisdom, philosophy of monotheism and as Brahmins.
As far as we know the Aryan priests were not called Brahmins and we find no reference to it except in the late Vedic period.  Jayram V of Hindu website  gives the various names of the priesthood in the Zoroastrian religion as follows:
“In Zoroastrianism the priests go by different names, depending upon the tasks they perform. In ancient times there used be several types of priests, organized into a hierarchy,
To the highest category of priests belonged matharans, who like Zoroaster, were endowed with poetic ability and composed the verses of the sacred scriptures,
There were atharwans, who like the vedic atharvan priests, were associated with fire and haoma rituals.
A zaotar, like the hotr of the vedic religion, was an officiating or presiding priest of Yasna, who poured libations into the sacred fire to the accompaniment of ritual chants.
Magi or magu were a special class of priests endowed with occult knowledge, magical powers and power of divination. They also interpreted dreams and performed divinatory rituals to portend future. They were confined mostly to the western parts of ancient Iran and served in the courts of kings. Some of them wielded enormous political power and often came into conflict with the rulers they served.
Other classes of priests mentioned in the Zoroasrian texts, but relatively lesser known, were Kartirs or Mowbeds, Herbeds and Kirdars who existed at various times in the long and checkered history of the religion. The priesthood, as in vedic religion, is hereditary.”

 Rigveda 2.1.2  enumerate the Vedic priests as the hotṛ, potṛ, neṣṭṛ, agnīdh, prashāstṛ (meaning the maitrāvaruna) and adhvaryu.
 The hotṛ was the reciter of invocations and litanies. These could consist of single verses (ṛca), strophes (triples called tṛca or pairs called pragātha), or entire hymns (sukta), drawn from the ṛgveda. As each phase of the ritual required an invocation, the hotṛ had a leading or presiding role.[citation needed]
    The adhvaryu was in charge of the physical details of the sacrifice (in particular the adhvara, a term for the Somayajna). According to Monier-Williams, the adhvaryu "had to measure the ground, to build the altar, to prepare the sacrificial vessels, to fetch wood and water, to light the fire, to bring the animal and immolate it," among other duties.[citation needed] Each action was accompanied by supplicative or benedictive formulas (yajus), drawn from the yajurveda. Over time, the role of the adhvaryu grew in importance, and many verses of the ṛgveda were incorporated, either intact or adapted, into the texts of the yajurveda.[citation needed]
    The udgātṛ was a chanter of hymns set to melodies (sāman) drawn from the sāmaveda. This was a specialized role in the major soma sacrifices: a characteristic function of the udgātṛ was to sing hymns in praise of the invigorating properties of soma pavamāna, the freshly pressed juice of the soma plan
We see that Brahmin was not one of the Aryan priest names.  It appears in Rig Veda tenth Mandala which was added much later in history where a parallel with Avestan hierarchy is defined where we come across Brahmin as the head instead of the Athorman priest in Zorastrianism.
“As compared with by far the largest part of the hymns of the Rigveda, the Purusha Sukta has every character of modernness both in its diction and ideas. I have already observed that the hymns which we find in this collection (Purusha Sukta) are of very different periods”
— John Muir,
“That the Purusha Sukta, considered as a hymn of the Rigveda, is among the latest portions of that collection, is clearly perceptible from its contents”
— Albrecht Weber, 

Here is the Zorastrian hierarchy;
"The dignity of the head in the human body is (allotted) to the profession of Athornan; of the hand, to the profession Arthestar; of the belly, to the profession of Vastariush; and of feet, to the profession of Hutokhsh: thus, it is symbolically shown, that in rank and dignity, the profession of Athornan is as the head of the world; the profession of Arthestar is as the hands of the world; the profession of Vastariush is as the belly of the world; and, the profession of Hutokhsh is as the feet of the world./ ( Denkard Bk.3-Chp.42)
“When they divided Purusa how many portions did they make? What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet? The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rajanya made.

His thighs became the Vaisya, from his feet the Sudra was produced” Rig Veda 10.90.11-12