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The Identity of the Indus people : Part 1

Author Rajshree Last Updated: Friday, 25 August 2017 (14:05 IST)
“Where the river with sand flows”
 
Words always entice me in various ways. Being a Marwari Jain and growing up in different places, I encountered many languages, besides Hindi, Pali, Prakrit, Sanskrit and also many tribal cultures. Maya, MAyA, MAhi, Narmada, Arawali, Thar, were among the few words whose Sanskrit etymology did not satisfy me. These words made me think about those ancient name givers who once dwelled there. I always wondered that where would be those ancients who left their traces, but took the language with them?
 
Later, I did twenty years of study and research on ancient Indian literature, World Mythology, Anthropology, world civilizations and the Nature of Languages, for my ambitious historic novel "Pashupati". Then, I understood ancient worlds and their business of livelihood better. For instance, it was always the case when a race lost so did its gods. People who survived, blended with the new language and culture, followed old customs, but with new meanings. Over the centuries, with the syncretism, the origin becomes faint as a star on the evening horizon. I settled over those “my ancients”, until, I came across the of Burma (Myanmar) during my new writing project. 
 
They call themselves ‘Kayin’ and are oblivious to the origin of the word. The Karen are a minority tribal group who live in Burma and as refugees in Thailand. The women, who wear neck rings did not catch my attention. It was something else. It was the story of a boar, whose tusk their founding father had broken, and their crossing of the river that flows with sand while coming from the north and settling in Burma. Another point of interest was that the Karen find their way through the jungle, at night by means of the stars.

The Great Bear is called Sha k' thaw, literally ‘the Elephant’. The Pole Star, is called ‘the Mouse’. The Great Bear and Southern Cross (Meh la ka) are referred most frequently, as they signify the north and south directions. A star near the moon, which they describe as the star that draws the moon is called sha mo la.
 
After an extensive study of the Karen culture, religion, traditions and language from all available materials, I was struck with awe -- what a journey and what a preservation! In 1807, the first missionaries arrived in Burma, and they were taken aback with the story of the creation among the Karen. It was as if the story came from the old testament but it was Karen’s own story. Besides that they also have significant story about human’s fall from the God’s heaven.

Now with their customs and traditions, at once I felt like I am at my destination. I found significant clues that relate the Karen with the Indus people. Many traditions in India, now clad in philosophical and sophisticated meanings, in fact had primitive origins that I was searching for a long time. I found their origins, besides etymologies of those words in the Karen language that always made me think about “my ancients”.
[ Photo creadit : Biplov Bhuyan / Indus Images ]
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