Aurel Stein

Hungarian-British archaeologist (1862-1943)

Sir Marc Aurel Stein, KCIE, FRAS, FBA (Hungarian: Stein Márk Aurél; 26 November 1862 – 26 October 1943) was a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, primarily known for his explorations and archaeological discoveries in Central Asia. He was also a professor at Indian universities.

Aurel Stein in 1909

Quotes edit

  • Describing the Tirtha of Vijayeshvara, Stein gives this detail: The ancient town which once stood in the position indicated, was evidently succeeded by Vijayeshwara, the present Vijbror. The latter place situated less than two miles above Chakradhara, received its name from the ancient shrine of Shiva Vijayeshwara (Vijyesha, Vijayeshana ), the present Vijbror. This deity is worshipped to the present day at Vijbror. The site has evidently from early times been one of the most famous Tirthas of Kashmir. It is mentioned as such in the Rajaratangini and many old Kashmrian texts....The old Linga of Shiva Vijyeshwara seems to have been destroyed by Sikandar Butshikan.
    • Aurel Stein, quoted from Muḥammad, A. K., & Pandit, K. N. (2009). A Muslim missionary in mediaeval Kashmir: Being the English translation of Tohfatu'l-ahbab. New Delhi: Voice of India p 272ff .(See Jonar, Bod. Ed, 762 and 127.)î Rajatarangni, vol ii, p. 463.
  • ‘The identity of the first four rivers here enumerated . . . is subject to no doubt. They correspond to the present Ganges, Jumna, Sarsuti, Sutlej . . . The order in which the first four are mentioned exactly agrees with their geographical sequence from east to west.’
    • Stein, Sir Aurel, ‘On Some River Names in the Rigveda’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1917, pp. 91-99. quoted in Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.
  • On my return to India . . . a survey of any remains of ancient occupations along the dry river-bed of the Ghaggar or Hakra, which passes from the easternmost Panjab through the States of Bikaner and Bahawalpur down to Sind, seemed attractive. Traditional Indian belief recognizes in this well-marked bed the course of the sacred Sarasvatī, once carrying its abundant waters down to the ocean and since antiquity ‘lost’ in desert sands... the Ghaggar was ‘still known as the Sarsuti (the Hindi derivative of Sarasvatī) [which] passes the sacred sites of Kurukshetra near Thanesar, a place of Hindu pilgrimage’... ‘the width of its dry bed within Bikaner territory [that is, downstream of Hanumangarh]; over more than 100 miles [160 km], it is nowhere less than 2 miles [3.2 km] and in places 4 miles [6.4 km] or more’... ‘The large number of these ancient sites contrasts strikingly with the very few small villages still on the same ground.’...
    • Stein, Sir Aurel, ‘A Survey of Ancient Sites along the “Lost” Sarasvatī River’.quoted in Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.
  • In at least three passages of the Rigveda mentioning the Sarasvatī, a river corresponding to the present Sarsuti and Ghaggar is meant. For this we have conclusive evidence in the famous hymn, the ‘Praise of the rivers’ (Nadistuti) which, with a precision unfortunately quite exceptional in Vedic texts, enumerates the Sarasvati correctly between the Yamuna (Jumna) in the east and the Sutudri or Sutlej in the west... ‘of old sites on its banks’ would ‘be helpful to the student of early Indian history, still so much obscured by the want of reliable records and the inadequacy of archaeological evidence.’
    • Stein, Sir Aurel, ‘A Survey of Ancient Sites along the “Lost” Sarasvatī River’.quoted in Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.
  • A ‘popular tradition [that] recognizes the place where a ferry service is supposed to have crossed the river to Mathula on the opposite bank, a distance of more than 3 miles’—or 5 km, but of course without a drop of water between the two banks! ‘Still more striking, perhaps,’ he continued, ‘is the name of Pattan-munara, the “Minar of the ferry”, borne by an old site in Bahawalpur territory which is similarly believed to mark a ferrying place across the Hakra, the bed of which is here, if anything, still wider.’
    • Stein, Marc Aurel, An Archaeological Tour along the Ghaggar-Hakra River quoted in Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.

Kalhana's Rajatarangini edit

  • Close to the foot of the southern extremity of the hill is a rock which has from ancient times received worship as an embodiment of Ganesa... From regard for the pious king the god is said to have then turned his face from west to east so as to behold the new city. ... In fact, if we are to believe Jonariija, the rock-image has changed its position yet a second time. This Chronicler relates that Bhimasvamin from disgust at the iconoclasm of Sikandar Butshikast has finally turned his back on the city.[1]
    • Kalhana's Rajatarangini Vol 2 , by Marc Aurel Stein [2]
  • Blocks measuring up to sixteen feet in length, with a width and thickness equally imposing, were no convenient materials for the builders of Muhammadan Ziarats, Hammams, etc., who have otherwise done so much to efface the remains of ancient structures in Srinagar.
    • Kalhana's Rajatarangini Vol 2 , by Marc Aurel Stein [3]
  • The name Martanda, in the form of Mnrtand or Matan, still attaches to the ruins though they have long ago ceaaed to be an object of religious interest. King Kalasa had sought this great fane at the approach of death, and expired at the feet of the sacred image (a.d. 1089). Harsa, his son, respected this temple in the course of the ruthless confiscations to which he subjected the other rich shrines of the country. Subsequently, in Kalhaua's time the great quadrangular courtyard of the temple, with its lofty walls and colonnades, was used as a fortification. The destruction of the sacred image is ascribed to Sikandar Butshikast.
    • Kalhana's Rajatarangini Vol 2 , by Marc Aurel Stein [4]

About edit

  • Stein was essentially a geographer and an explorer and is to be admired for his indomitable courage and spirit of adventure in undertaking hazardous journeys through difficult terrain. He discovered a large number of Chalcolithic and related sites in the Great Indian Desert and the entire reach of the Indo-Iranian borderlands, covering Northern and Southern Baluchistan and a good part of Iran. He was a pioneer and a pathfinder and was to Indian protohistoric archaeology what Alexander Cunningham was to Indian historical archaeology.
    • 25 Deva, Krishna, ‘Contributions of Aurel Stein and N.G. Majumdar to Research into the Harappan Civilization with Special Reference to their Methodology’, in Possehl, G.L., (ed.), Harappan Civilization : A contemporary perspective, Oxford & IBH and the American Institute of Indian Studies, Delhi, 1982, p. 392. quoted in Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.

External links edit

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