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proto-indic religion

'Proto-Indic Religion' by Dr. S. Srikanta Sastri

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Published in Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, QJMS, 1941 - 42, (Vol 32 - 33)

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It is proposed to examine the nature and affinities of the Proto - Indian religion here, in the light of the seals, figurines and pottery discovered in the Indus valley. Many of the seals can now definitely be taken to be amulets, since in the lowest levels at Harappa, miniature seals with legends have been discovered and they show that the seals were neither commercial receipts, historical documents, nor merely heraldic. The figurines also cannot be dismissed as toys, since Mackay thinks that the majority of them were used for worship (1). The funerary pottery, as Mr. M. S. Vats has suggested (2), is decorated with scenes probably indicating the conception of the Indus people about a life after death. Hence our assumptions, that the seals were used as amulets, that the figurines were used as votive offerings and that the funerary pottery was used as throwing some light on the eschatology of the times, may not be far from truth.


Following the analytical method of Frankfort (3) we can roughly classify the seals as (a) decorative (b) representing action and (C) symbolical. It is not claimed that this division is exclusive and exhaustive, but it will be of use in making an objective approach to the problem, and where parallels are indicated, they are to be taken as tentative. To the “decorative” class may be assigned:- a) Geometrical designs – the Maltese cross, svastika, inter-twined-snake patterns, heart-shaped and kidney shaped designs, mat and basket patterns, intersecting circles, house, ship, animal-pens, etc.







(1) Mackay. Further Excavations at Mohenjo - Daro

(2) M. S. Vats. Excavations at Harappa

(3) Frankfort. Cylinder Seals.

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Harappa Terracota Motifs

Harappa Terracota Motifs


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