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Vedic Saraswati River

The Hindu Vedas mention a river named Saraswati (or Sarasvati). In Sanskrit 'saras' means a lake or water body, and 'vati', means a female associated with it.

The river has been identified with various present-day or historical rivers, particularly the Ghaggar-Hakra river in India and Pakistan. Alternative suggestions include the Helmand River in Afghanistan, which historically bore the name 'saraswati'. There is also a river in Iran which has been given this name. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the heavenly 'river' of the milky way[?] seems sometimes to be referred to, and by the fact that the river is personifid as a goddess. The goddess Saraswati[?] developed independently from the river itself, and has her own cult. There is also a present-day Saraswati River in India.

So it is possible that different rivers are referred to in different parts of the Vedas. Nevertheless the text suggests that the Saraswati was originally a great life-giving river which later dried up, or 'went into the ground'. Is this a myth or did the river actually flow? Recent finding suggest the Ghaggar river did once flow in great strength, and was of major importance to the Indus Valley civilization, but that it dried up due to the redirection of its tributaries. Whether this was the original of the mythic Saraswati is as yet uncertain.



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