Mohenjodaro (Pakistan): Is ‘Dancing Girl' the goddess Parvati?

Praveen Shekhar

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A new research paper published in Itihaas, the Hindi journal of Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), has said the famous statue of the “Dancing Girl” of Mohenjodaro from 2500 BC is actually the goddess Parvati, reports The Indian Express.

In the research paper called ‘Vedic Sabhyata Ka Puratatva (Archaeology of Vedic Civilisation)’, retired professor Thakur Prasad Verma of Banaras Hindu University claims the Dancing Girl being Hindu goddess Parvati is evidence that the Harappan civilisation worshipped Shiva.

This claim that the Dancing Girl is Parvati has been made for the first time. Supriya Verma, historian and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor, told Express: "Till date, no archaeologist has ever interpreted the Dancing Girl as a goddess, let alone Parvati. This particular artefact has always been seen as the sculpture of a young girl."

The small, barely 10.5cm tall, bronze statue is estimated to be around 4,500 years old and has fascinated archaeologists and historians ever since she was found in Mohenjodaro in 1926.

Verma claimed that several artefacts have been found among the ruins of the civilisation that prove that its citizens worshipped Shiva, among them “Seal 420”. The seal shows a horned figure sitting in a yogic posture surrounded by animals. While some historians support this theory, others have contended that the seal shows a woman, not a man.

He adds that the trefoil pattern on the shawl of the “Priest King” sculpture, also excavated from the region, was evidence of Shiva worship because the pattern, according to him, is like the “vilva” or “bilva” leaves that are used to worship the Hindu god.

Priest embed 122616034900According to the historian, the trefoil pattern on the shawl of the “Priest King” sculpture, also excavated from the region, is evidence of Shiva worship.

The article was published in Itihaas's first edition since YS Rao’s took over as ICHR chairman.

A controversy had generated when Rao was appointed the ICHR head in 2014 by the BJP-led government. Several historians had questioned Rao’s credentials for the post. They were concerned that they had appointed a little known historian to head the Indian Council of Historical Research.

Eminent historian Romila Thapar says Rao’s research is little visible and the articles authored by him on the historicity of Indian epics have not been published in any peer reviewed journals.

Before taking over as ICHR chief, Rao was working on a project to “fix” the date of the Mahabharata war. He had invalidated the argument of historians like DD Kosambi that the Ramayana and Mahabharata have different versions added to them over almost a 1,000 years.

According to him the caste system had “worked well in ancient India”.