Indus River

river in Asia

The Indus River (also called the Sindhū) is one of the longest rivers in Asia. It flows through China (western Tibet), India (Jammu and Kashmir) and Pakistan.


  • This river with his lucid flow attracts you, more than all the streams,— Even Sindhu with his path of gold.
    • Rigveda 8.26.18
  • And here comes, between verses 825 and 835, a puzzle to all the European interpreters. Says the Titan: --
    "To these (Arimaspi and Grypes) approach not; a far border land Thou next wilt reach, where dwells a swarthy race Near the Sun's founts, where is the AEthiop "river"; Along its banks proceed till thou attain The mighty rapids, where from Bybline heights Pure draughts of sacred water Neilos sends . . . "
    There Io was ordained to found a colony for herself and sons. Now we must see how the passage is interpreted. As Io is told that she has to travel eastward till she comes to the river Ethiops, which she is to follow till it falls into the Nile -- hence the perplexity. "According to the geographical theories of the earliest Greeks" we are informed by the author of the version on "Prometheus Bound" --
    "This condition was fulfilled by the river Indus. Arrian (vi. i.) mentions that Alexander the Great, when preparing to sail down the Indus (having seen crocodiles in the river Indus, and in no other river except the Nile . . . ), seemed to himself to have discovered the sources of the Nile, as though the Nile, rising from some place in India, and flowing through much desert land, and thereby losing its name Indus, next . . . flowed through inhabited land, being now called the Nile by the Ethiopians of those parts and afterwards by the Egyptians. Virgil in the 4th Georgic echoes the absolute error" (p. 197, Vol. II.).
    Both Alexander and Virgil may have erred considerably in their geographical notions; but the prophecy of Prometheus has not so sinned, in the least -- not, at any rate, in its esoteric spirit. When a certain race is symbolised, and events pertaining to its history are rendered allegorically, no topographical accuracy ought to be expected in the itinerary traced for its personification. Yet it so happens, that the river "Ethiops" is certainly the Indus, and it is also the Nil or Nila. It is the river born on the Kailas (heaven) mountain, the mansion of the gods -- 22,000 feet above the level of the sea. It was the Ethiops river -- and was so called by the Greeks, long before the days of Alexander, because its banks, from Attock down to Sind, were peopled by tribes generally referred to as the Eastern Ethiopians. India and Egypt were two kindred nations, and the Eastern Ethiopians -- the mighty builders -- have come from India, as is pretty well proved, it is hoped, in "ISIS UNVEILED.".
    • Helena Blavatsy, Secret Doctrine, ,II, p.417
  • The Northwest has always had a negative connotation in the Vedic tradition. Thus, R. Siddhantashastree writes: “The valley of the five tributaries of the Indus had always been held as an unholy region because of its occupation by a non-Aryan tribe antagonistic to the civilized Aryans until the time of Sambarana, (...) the king of Hastinapura belonging to the Lunar dynasty. He was the first Aryan to settle in the valley after driving away the aboriginal non-Aryans to a considerable distance.”
    • R. Siddhantashastree (1978: History of the Pre-Kali-Yuga India, Delhi: Inter-India Publications, p.11), quoted in Elst, Koenraad (2018). Still no trace of an Aryan invasion: A collection on Indo-European origins.
  • He [Aristobulus] says that when he was sent on some business, he saw a tract of land deserted which contained more than a thousand cities with their villages, for the Indus, having forsaken its proper channel, turned itself into another on the left much deeper, into which it burst like a cataract, so that it no longer watered the country on the right, from which it receded, for this had been raised by the inundations not only above the level of the new channel but even above that of the new inundations... ‘India is liable to earthquakes as it becomes porous from the excess of moisture and opens into fissures, whence even the course of rivers is altered’.
    • Strabo. Strabo, Geography, book XV, I.19, tr. John W. McCrindle, Ancient India as Described in Classical Literature, 1901; reprinted Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, New Delhi, 1979, p. 25. quoted in Danino, M. (2010). The lost river : on the trail of the Sarasvatī. Penguin Books India.
  • The RV hymn X, 75, however, gives a list of names of rivers where Sarasvati is merely mentioned (verse 5) while Sindhu receives all the praise (verses 2-4 and 7-9). This may well indicate a period after the first drying up of Sarasvati (c. 3500 ) when the river lost its preeminence. It is agreed that the tenth Book of the RV is later than the others.
    • THE ṚGVEDA AND INDO-EUROPEANS Author(s): Nicholas Kazanas Source: Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Vol. 80, No. 1/4 (1999), pp. 15-42
  • (It has been assumed that) the part of the Sutlej that flowed into the Sarasvati shifted to the Beas, eventually swelling the Indus’s waters: “An increase in water and sediment discharge of that magnitude [provoked by the westward shift of the Sutlej] would have had dramatic effects downstream in the Lower Indus Basin,” according to Louis Flam. This might help explain the near complete absence of Late Harappan sites in this region: they may have been either washed away or buried under sediments.
    • Flam, Louis. 1999. “The Prehistoric Indus River System and the Indus Civilization in Sindh,” Man and Environment, 24(2), p. 55.
  • Thus the Sindhu, Nahr-i-Sind, Ab-i-Sind, or Indus, from the time that we possess any authentic records respecting it, was a tributary, along with the other rivers now forming the Panch Nad, or Panj Ab, of the Накта, or Wahindab, which having all united into one great river at the Dosh-i-Ab, as related by the old 'Arab and Sindí writers, formed the Mihrán of Sind, or Sind-Ságar. Lower down than this point of junction it sent off a brauch to the westwards which passed Aror, the ancient capital of Sind, on the east, which again united with the main channel above Mansüriyah, and entered the ocean sometimes by one, and sometimes by two principal mouths.
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