Friday, October 5, 2018

12,000-Year-Old Petroglyphs in India show Global Connections

Note: This article has been published in the New Dawn Magazine, Issue 172 and Graham Hancock's website.

Recently, on Oct 1, 2018, the BBC ran a story[1] about the discovery of hundreds of petroglyphs i.e. rock carvings in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur area of the state of Maharashtra in western India. Many of these petroglyphs are very large, which have been etched on the rocky, flat hilltops. 
Figure 1: Ratnagiri, Maharashtra on the Konkan coastline
Our first deduction from examining these petroglyphs is that they were created around 10,000BC,” the director of the Maharashtra state archaeology department, Tejas Garge, told the BBC. This puts the date of creation of these images at the very dawn of civilization, when humanity emerged from the cataclysms of the Younger Dryas Period and the end of the last Ice Age.

While some of the petroglyphs were known to the locals and regarded as holy, most of them were hidden beneath layers of mud and soil deposited during the intervening millenia. They were discovered due to the diligent efforts of a group of explorers led by Sudhir Risbood and Manoj Marathe, who began searching for the images in earnest after observing a few in the area.

When I looked at these pictures, I was astonished to find 3 images which depict sacred symbols of global importance, which have been found in the art and culture of many subsequent civilizations. 

The Winged Scarab

This large petroglyph depicts what appears to be the Winged Scarab, a symbol that was very popular in ancient Egypt and symbolized creation and rebirth. The symbol appears on Egyptian tomb paintings, carvings, and manuscripts. Miniature scarabs carved from stone or moulded from faience were worn as amulets and jewelry, and used as impression seals. 
Figure 2: Petroglyph in Maharashtra, India, depicting the Winged Scarab. Source:
Figure 3: Winged Scarab on the breastplate of Tutankhamun, Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
The Egyptians called the scarab beetle Khepri (“He who has come into being”) and worshiped it as the “dawn sun”. There is a story of how the goddess Isis tricked the sun-god Ra into revealing his many names: Khepri (dawn sun), Ra (mid-day sun) and Atum (evening sun).

Just as the scarab beetle pushes or rolls a ball of dung across the earth, Khepri pushed the sun across the sky every day.  The ancient Egyptians believed that Khepri renewed the sun every day before rolling it above the horizon, then carried it through the other world after sunset, only to renew it, again, the next day. This reinforced the scarab’s association with creation and rebirth.

The visual similarity between the petroglyph discovered in India, and the Egyptian symbol of the Winged Scarab or Khepri is quite striking. Although the “sun-disk” being pushed by the scarab is not very clear in this image, it can be easily made out from the aerial view shown below.
Figure 4: Ratnagiri Petroglyph depicting the Winged Scarab. Source:
It boggles the mind to think that the Winged Scarab symbol, which was so popular in ancient Egypt, has been existence since the very beginning of the post-glacial epoch. Did the symbol have its origin in ancient India? Or does it reflect the esoteric knowledge of an erstwhile “Golden Age” civilization that perished during the cataclysms of the Younger Dryas epoch (10,900 BCE – 9700 BCE) when our planet was struck by multiple fragments of a giant comet?

It is now well known that Younger Dryas comet impact initiated a vicious cold snap, accompanied by fires, floods, and black rain, which brought about the extinction of a large number of North American megafauna and a prehistoric culture. In 9703 BCE, the cold snap ended as abruptly as it had started, for reasons not clearly understood. The sudden transition out of the Ice Age to a warm interglacial climate may have precipitated a global flood of mythic proportions, which is recounted in the flood legends of many ancient cultures.
Figure 5: 12,000-year old petroglyphs of India depict the Egyptian Winged Scarab.
The Master of Animals

Another exquisite petroglyph discovered at the Indian site depicts a man who appears to be holding two animals by their hind legs. This is a symbolic motif in ancient art that is commonly referred to by scholars as the “Master of Animals” or “Lord of Animals”.

The Master of Animals is a deity entity or heroic figure who is the ruler of the forest and master of all animals. The figure can be male or female (in which case she is called Mistress of Animals), and is generally shown grasping two wild animal with both hands.
Figure 6: Petroglyph in Maharashtra depicting the Master of Animals.
The symbolic representation of a person holding a pair of animals by their hind legs or tails, was widespread in the Near East and Egypt. One of the earliest representations can be seen on the Gebel el-Arak Knife dating from the Naqada II period of Egyptian prehistory, which began c.3450 BCE. The “Mistress of Animals” motif appears in Archaic Greek and Etruscan artworks in metal, ivory, pottery and jewelry from the 8th century BCE.
Figure 7: A relief of the Master of Animals from Mesopotamia. 9th - 8th century BCE. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Source:
Figure 8: Mistress of Animals holding in each hand a lion by its tail. Gold plaque pendant. Kamiros, Rhodes, 720-650 BCE. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Source:
Another Ratnagiri petroglyph shows the Master of Animals grappling with two large animals, possibly tigers, which is reminiscent of an imagery depicted on a number of Indus Valley seals from c.2600 BCE.
Figure 9: Ratnagiri Petroglyph showing a figure lifting up a pair of tigers. Source:
Figure 10: Mohenjo-Daro seal depicting a man grappling with two tigers. Source:

The different depictions of the Master of Animals symbol seem to exude a sense of enormous physical strength and courage. Perhaps, this was an ancient icon of superhuman strength, used in the context of gods, heroes, or kings? Surely, this could not have been the work of primitive hunter-gatherers, as the researchers in the study have speculated.  

The depiction of this motif on 12,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs indicates that the symbol had its origin in remote antiquity, and was used by an Ice Age civilization to represent its heroes. Did the people of this time really have such immense physical strength, so as to subdue two large wild animals with their bare hands? If so, it would lend credence to the assertions of our ancestors that human beings have reduced in stature and have become weaker, as we have devolved from the Golden Age to our current age of discord and strife known as the Kali Yuga (or Iron Age) in the ancient Hindu texts.
Fig 11: 12,000-year old petroglyphs of India depict the Master of Animals.
 Pisces and Aquarius

Another intriguing petroglyph discovered at Ratnagiri depicts a pair of fish facing opposite directions, connected by some kind of a strap. This symbol has been used for thousands of years to depict the Pisces constellation. The Pisces astrological symbol consists of a pair of fish swimming in opposite directions, with a chord connecting the two fishes so that they remain together.
Figure 12: Ratnagiri Petroglyph depicting the Pisces constellation. Source:
Figure 13: Roman era relief carving of Pisces symbol. Credit: Kleon3 CC BY-SA 4.0.

As per current wisdom, the earliest representation of the zodiac sign of Pisces appears on an Egyptian coffin lid from c. 2300 BCE. It is also believed that knowledge of the zodiac signs and astrological predictions began sometime during the Bronze Age in Mesopotamia.

However, the discovery of this petroglyph changes all of that. It pushes back the date for the origin of astrological symbols to the period around 10,000 BCE or earlier, and raises the very real possibility that our astrological knowledge is a legacy of a lost civilization that flourished during the Ice Age.
Figure 14: Ratnagiri Petroglyph depicting the astrological symbol of Pisces.
The discovery of the Pisces symbol made me wonder if any of the other petroglyphs of the Ratnagiri area depict other signs of the zodiac. And, quite fortuitously, I noticed another petroglyph that resembles the astrological symbol for the Aquarius constellation.

This petroglyph shows a man holding an object above his head with both hands, looking similar to Aquarius, the Water Bearer, who pours out a stream of water from a Water Jar held above the head (or on the shoulder). 
Fig 15: Ratnagiri Petroglyph depicting the Aquarius constellation. Source:
Aquarius is located in a region of the sky called the Sea, and early stargazers associated the star patterns here with fishes swimming in the celestial Sea. To the right of the person (i.e. on the left side of the image) we see a pair of fish, which have been depicted at the exact position occupied by the zodiac sign of Pisces the Fish. Another pair of fish has been depicted near the left leg of the person, corresponding to the position of the constellation Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish.
Fig 16: Ratnagiri Petroglyph depicting the astrological symbol of Pisces.
Hence, what we seem to have here is possibly an astonishing sky chart etched on the ground, depicting the constellations of Aquarius the Water Bearer, bounded by Pisces the Fish and Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish. 

While there may be additional petroglyphs in the Ratnagiri area that depict the other signs of the zodiac, it is a curious coincidence that the first two constellations that caught my eyes were those of Pisces the Fish and Aquarius the Water Bearer. As per the doctrine of the Astrological Ages, we are currently in the Age of Pisces, and about to transition into the Age of Aquarius, sometime in the near future. Perhaps, these 12,000-year-old petroglyphs are giving us a timely reminder of this very important upcoming transition into an Age where wisdom and intuitive understanding will blossom once again in the minds of men.

A Lost Civilization

The very fact that the petroglyphs of Ratnagiri have been dated to c.10,000 BCE, when humanity had just emerged from the terrible devastation of the Younger Dryas epoch, suggests that these symbols may not have been “devised” by the people who carved them. Rather, they might encapsulate the esoteric wisdom of a “Golden Age” civilization that flourished during the Ice Age, and which perished during the Younger Dryas cataclysms.

The survivors of this “Lost Civilization” would have settled at many places around the globe, and one of the settlement zones was the Konkan coast of India. Having witnessed their erstwhile civilization being reduced to rubble, the survivors may have refrained from building large monuments. Instead, they etched their sacred symbols on the hard, rocky landscape, which could have transformed into open-air altars.

One of the mysteries of the Ratnagiri petroglyphs, which the BBC report has pointed out, is that they show animals such as the hippopotamus which is indigenous to Africa. I noticed that there is at least one petroglyph that looks like a kangaroo! It is well known that the kangaroo is indigenous to Australia, and are not found anywhere else.
Fig 17: Ratnagiri Petroglyph depicting a kangaroo.
This begs the question as to how the people living here depicted animals that are not indigenous to India. Did these people have oceanic contacts with Africa and Australia? Could it be that the hippo and the kangaroo were found in India 12,000 years ago? Or could there be some other explanation for this anomaly?

It is at times like these that we should pay more attention to the legends of our ancestors. Tamil traditions tell us of an antediluvian island-continent called Kumari Kandam that once existed in the Indian Ocean. However, at the end of the Golden Age, Kumari Kandam was “swallowed by the sea”, and large tracts of the island-continent were lost to the ocean. N.Mahalingam, the Chairman of the International Association of Tamil Studies, has dated this inundation to c.9564 BCE. [2] This is very close to the end of the Younger Dryas epoch which ravaged our planet for an extended period from 10,900 BCE – 9600 BCE.

Perhaps, the ecosphere of Kumari Kandam supported animals such as hippos and kangaroos, and when the island-continent sank under the ocean, some of its inhabitants settled on the western coast of India and etched their memories of their erstwhile homeland on these flat, rocky hill tops?

Overall, these ancient petroglyphs have the potential of completely overturning the current beliefs regarding the origins of civilization. There are hundreds of petroglyphs in the Ratnagiri area which depict animal and human figures, as well as complex geometric forms, which could help us unlock the mysteries of humanity's past.

Earlier in 2002, nearly 60 petroglyphs were discovered in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra in the Konkan (coastal) region, which were tentatively dated to between 7000 BCE – 4000 BCE.[3] One of the images found here resembles the “Imperial Eagle” symbol which has served as an insignia of royalty and has been displayed on the Coat of Arms of many nations throughout history.
Figure 18: Sindhudurg Petroglyph depicting the Imperial Eagle symbol.
Another petroglyph in Sindhudurg depicts a man standing with a staff in either hand, resembling the Staff God of the Andean cultures. The Andean Staff God is generally pictured holding a staff in each hand, with fanged teeth, having snakes in his headdress or integrated into his garments.
Figure 19: Sindhudurg Petroglyph depicting the Staff God of the Andes
The Incans identified the Staff God with Viracocha, their supreme god. He was the father of all other Inca gods and it was he who formed the earth, heavens, sun, moon, and all living beings. According to legends, Viracocha travelled far and wide, bringing the arts of civilization to humanity. After his work was done, he headed west across the Pacific on a raft, promising to return one day to the Inca. 

The oldest known depiction of the Andean Staff God was found in 2003 on some broken gourd fragments dated to c.2250 BCE, which means that this Sindhudurg petroglyph predates the earliest known depiction of the Staff God by thousands of years. 


Evidently, the petroglyphs of the Konkan region of Maharashtra, stretching from Ratnagiri in the north to Sindhudurg in the south, contain some of the earliest depictions of the sacred symbols used by cultures across the world.  This pushes back the date for the beginnings of astrological lore and sacred symbolisms to that remote period around c.10,000 BCE, when humanity had just emerged from the terrible cataclysms of the Younger Dryas epoch. 

This raises the very real possibility that the Konkan belt may have been a place where survivors of an advanced Ice-Age civilization had settled, who decided to etch their sacred wisdom on the rocky landscapes so that it may get transmitted through the generations. It needs to be ascertained if these people had oceanic contacts with Africa and Australia, or if there could be some other reason for the petroglyphs resembling hippos and kangaroos.

Due to the far-reaching implications of these symbols, the dating of the petroglyphs to the period around 10,000 BCE is bound to come under scrutiny. More evidence needs to be collected using different scientific techniques such as radiocarbon dating, thermoluminescence etc. to ascertain the period of carving more precisely. The petroglyphs of the Konkan coast have been discovered over the past couple of decades, and they have always been recognized as being extremely old, predating most of the known ancient civilizations of antiquity.

This analysis is based on a small sample of petroglyph images contained in the BBC report and a video on the BBC News Marathi TV Channel. Hundreds of petroglyphs have been found till now in the Ratnagiri and Rajapur area, which need to studied in detail with a view to identifying correlations with sacred symbols across various ancient cultures. There is no doubt that this is an extremely significant discovery which can fundamentally alter our current perceptions about the origins of sacred symbols and astrological lore..

[1] Prehistoric art hints at lost Indian civilization, Oct 1 2018, 
[2] Graham Hancock, “Underworld – the Mysterious Origins of Civilization”, Three Rivers Press, 2002. 
[3] "Neolithic rock art sites found in Maharashtra", Vrushali Lad, 2012,

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Legend of Lingo-Krishna depicted on Indus Valley Seals

In the previous article titled “Krishna and the Gond Prophet Lingo: The Mythological Connections” I had discussed the correlations between the exploits of the Gond Prophet Lingo and the Hindu deity Krishna, when he was living in Vrindavan with the cowherd boys and girls of Nanda’s farm. 

Both Lingo and Krishna were gods of music and dance, irresistible to women. In their childhood they liked to play on the swing, had their hair tied up in a top-knot, and were associated with a yellow colored flower. They had accomplished many heroic tasks - killing an enormous serpent, befriending and riding a giant bird, rescuing imprisoned friends from a mountain cave where they had been locked up – which are similar in their details.

These, and other mythological and cultural clues suggest that Krishna and Lingo may be the same personality, and the Legend of Lingo could be another retelling of Krishna’s extraordinary childhood.

As per the Harivamsa, Nanda and his clan belonged to the Abhira (Ahir) tribe of cattle-husbanding nomads who occupied the region between Mathura and Dwaraka in Northwestern India. The historical records affirm that the Ahirs had migrated to Central India, where they established kingdoms and became assimilated into the Gond tribes.

The Ahirs also migrated to Southern India, where they were known as the Ayar cowherd community, Ay-Velirs, or simply Velirs, who ruled in different parts of the ancient Tamil country, and regarded Krishna as their family deity. The Tamil Sangam tradition, as well as multiple copper-plate charters and inscriptions of the Tamil kings, testify that the Ay-Velirs were descendants of the Yadava dynasty of Krishna and had migrated southwards from Dwaraka. 

Thus, the nomadic Abhira cowherd community, known variously as the Ahirs and the Ayars, played an important role in taking Krishna lore to different corners of India, including the hilly and forested tribal belts.

In this article, I have proposed that the association between Lingo and Krishna helps us to interpret the meaning of 3 narrative scenes depicted on a few Indus seals and tablets.

Lingo-Krishna on the Niruda Tree 

The Harappa terracotta tablet H2001-5075 depicts a man seated on the branch of a tree, holding onto a branch with one hand. A tiger is looking back over its shoulder towards the man. A buffalo and a gharial can be seen near the tiger. The setting is clearly indicative of a forest environment.

A Dholavira seal depicts the same image: a tiger is looking over its shoulder at a person seated on the branch of a tree with outstretched hands.
Figure 1: Harappa terracotta tablet H2001-5075, showing a person on a tree with a tiger looking back. Source: 
Figure 2: Dholavira seal showing a tiger looking back at a person seated on the branch of a tree. National Museum, New Delhi, India. Source: flickr/mukul banerjee
In both the images, the person is seated on the branch in a yogic posture called Virasana or hero pose, which implies that the person was regarded as a hero. On the Dholavira seal, it can be seen that the person is wearing his hair in a divided bun at the back of his head, which is one of the forms in which Krishna tied his hair, as can be seen in some sculptures.
Figure 3: Dancing Baby Krishna, with his braided hair tied up in a divided bun.. Jalakandeswarar Temple, Vellor, c.1550 CE. Source: / Vinayak Hegde

Hence, the seal image depicts a hero seated on the branch of a tree in the midst of a forest. Who could this be?

As I have already discussed, it is likely that Lord Krishna is the same personality as Lingo, the hero and prophet of the Gonds. There is a section in the Legend of Lingo from the poem The Lay of Saint Lingo composed by Captain James Forsyth, which provides an adequate explanation for this image.

As per the story, after Lingo was resurrected from the dead, he had gone off in search of the sixteen score Gonds who had been imprisoned in a cave on Mount Dhawalgiri by Mahadev. In course of his travels, he wandered through a dense forest infested with wild animal. After nightfall he took shelter on the branch of a Niruda tree:

“And our Lingo redivivus

Wandered across the mountains,

Wandered sadly through the forest

Till the darkening of the evening,

Wandered on until the night fell.

Screamed the panther in the forest,

Growled the bear upon the mountain,

And our Lingo then bethought him

Of their cannibal propensities.

Saw at hand the tree Niruda,

Clambered up into its branches.

Darkness fell upon the forest,

Bears their heads wagged, yelled the jackal

Kolyal, the King of Jackals.

Sounded loud their dreadful voices

In the forest-shade primeval.”[i]

All the symbolisms of the image – the warrior-hero on the tree, the tiger/panther looking at it, and the other wild animals of the forest - are accounted for in this passage. Hence, the image on Harappan tablet H2001-5075 and the Dholavira seal can be summarized as follows: 

It shows the warrior-hero Lingo-Krishna, taking shelter on the branch of a Niruda tree, in the midst of a forest infested with panthers, jackals and other wild animals, when he was searching for the sixteen score Gonds who had been imprisoned in a cave on Mount Dhawalgiri by Mahadev.

The reverse side of this Harappan tablet (H2001-5075) shows a person standing on (or near) an elephant, and grappling with two tigers. This image has become very faded and the outlines are not clearly visible. Fortunately, an exact same image can be seen on Harappan tablet H95-2486, which we shall explore now.

Lingo-Krishna Wrestling Tigers 

The Harappan tablet H95-2486 shows a hero or deity standing on (or near) an elephant and grappling with two tigers. A single Indus sign, resembling a six-spoked wheel, is depicted on top.
Figure 4: Harappa molded tablet H95-2486, showing a person standing on an elepant and grappling with two tigers. Source:
The solitary six-spoked wheel symbol on this tablet suggests that the hero or deity may be Krishna, for the six-spoked (or eight-spoked) wheel or chakra has always been a pre-eminent symbol of Krishna.

However, there is no episode from the childhood exploits of Krishna recounted in the Hindu texts which matches the scene depicted on this tablet. Krishna had killed a mad elephant with his bare hands when he had gone to Mathura to slay Kamsa. Sometimes, he is shown seated on an elephant formed by the gopis of Vrindavan. But, the tiger wrestling scene is not to be found anywhere, in mythology or in art.
Figure 5: Krishna seated on a gopi elephant. Thirukurungudi Temple, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. Source:

In the Legend of Lingo, however, there is an interesting incident which explains the image on this Harappan tablet.

In the book Gonds of the Central Indian Highlands, Behram Mehta writes that, after Lingo was resurrected from the dead and began his search for the imprisoned Gonds, he wrestled with a tiger in the presence of an elephant:

“In the jungle Lingo met a tiger who was ploughing the land with two elephants attached to his plough. The tiger was aware that the greatest living god was Lingo. When Lingo introduced himself the tiger demanded a proof and wrestled with him. The tiger was defeated and became Lingo’s slave.”[ii]

Thus, all the symbolic elements of the tablet image – the tiger, the elephant, and the wrestling scene – are included in this story.

The only difference is that the Harappan tablet has two tigers and one elephant, while the story recounted by Mehta has two elephants and a tiger. This interchange of numbers is a minor discrepancy, which can be expected in oral traditions that have been handed down for thousands of years.  

An unusual aspect of this image is that, the person grappling with the tigers appears to have a breast on one side. This has led to speculations that this could be a female deity. However, the tiger-wrestling scene appears on multiple Indus seals, and, in all the other cases, the person wrestling with the tigers is clearly male.
Figure 6: Mohenjo-Daro seal depicting a man grappling with two tigers.  Source:
Figure 7: Mohenjo-Daro seal depicting a man between two tigers. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
If we look carefully at this tablet, we will notice that a portion of the image on the left side has broken off creating the rough outline of a breast. By zooming into the image we can clearly see the broken edges on the left side, which contrast sharply with the smooth, bright edges of the figure in general. In the following images, I pointed out the broken edges and have attempted to trace out what could have been the original outline of the figure.
Figure 8: The broken edges on the left side of the tiger-grappling hero on Harappan tablet H95-2486.
Figure 9: The proposed outline of the figure on Harappan tablet H95-2486.

The image on Harappan tablet H95-2486 can, therefore, be summarized as follows: 

The six-spoked wheel on top is the six-spoked Sudarshana Chakra of Krishna. The figure below is the heroic Lingo-Krishna grappling with two tigers in the presence of an elephant, while he was passing through a forest in search of the sixteen score Gonds who had been imprisoned in a cave on Mount Dhawalgiri by Mahadev.

Thus, we have two different incidents associated with the exploits of Lingo-Krishna depicted on either side of the Harappan tablet H2001-5075 – one in which he is perched on the Niruda tree inside the jungle, and the other in which he is grappling with two tigers in the presence of an elephant. Both of these incidents took place around the same time in the storyline, and they are depicted on either side of the same Harappan tablet. This suggests that this tablet was most likely used as a storytelling device.

The Bindo Bird 

The final seal we will look at is an impression of an Indus-style cylinder seal found in the Near-East. The seal depicts three important figures from the Legend of Lingo-Krishna. 

Figure 10: Impression of an Indus-style cylinder seal found in the Near-East. The figures on the seal depict figures and events from the Legend of Lingo. Source: Musee du Louvre.
 Top half of the seal: 
  • A person is grappling with two tigers. We have already identified this person as the cultural hero Lingo-Krishna.
  • A deity wearing a horned headdress with a tree branch is standing near a throne. This figure, as I had discussed in a previous article titled “Shiva as Bada Dev: Gond Symbolisms on Indus Seals[iii], is the deity that the Gonds know as Bada Dev, Mahadev or Shambhu, and whom the Hindus worship as Lord Shiva. Mahadev plays an important role in the Legend of Lingo for he is the one who had locked up the Gonds in a cave on Mount Dhawalgiri.
Bottom half of the seal: 
  • A very large bird is preying on buffaloes and markhors (wild goats). This bird can be identified as the monstrous Bindo bird in the legend of Lingo. The bird appears in the childhood exploits of Krishna as the Garuda bird. As per the Legend of Lingo, the Bindo bird could crack open the skulls of large animals like elephants and camels, take out their brains, and feed it to their young.
Here is the relevant section from the Lay of Saint Lingo composed by Captain James Forsyth, which describes the Bindo bird attacking wild animals:

Then our Lingo rose and wandered,

Wandered onwards through the forest,

Till he reached the sounding sea-shore,

Reached the brink of the Black Water.

Found the Bindo birds were absent

From their nest upon the sea-shore

Absent hunting in the forest,

Hunting elephants prodigious,

Which they killed and took their brains out,

Cracked their skulls, and brought their brains to

Feed their callow little Bindos,

Wailing sadly by the sea-shore…

Soon returned the parent Bindos

From their hunting in the forest;

Bringing brains and eyes of camels,

And of elephants prodigious,

For their little callow Bindos

Wailing sadly by the sea-shore.[iv]

Thus, we have three important figures from the Legend of Lingo depicted on a single seal impression: Lingo-Krishna wrestling with tigers, Mahadev standing near his throne, and the Bindo bird attacking large, wild animals. Incidentally, the Bindo birds play an important role in the story, for Lingo had befriended the parent Bindo bird and rode on its back all the way to Mount Dhawalgiri where Mahadev had locked up the Gonds inside a mountain cave.


This analysis indicates that the Indus people were familiar with the legend of Lingo-Krishna and they depicted scenes from the life of this heroic warrior-prophet on their seals and tablets. While the seals were used for authenticating traded goods, the tablets were presumably used as storytelling devices.

Since the seals and tablets bearing these images date from c.2600 BCE – 1900 BCE, it implies that these legends were already well-established at this remote period. Therefore, the events of the Mahabharata, in which Krishna plays a prominent part, must have taken place prior to c.2600 BCE. 

As I have argued in a previous article, there is sufficient evidence that the Gonds may have migrated to their present location in Central India from the Indus Valley. The Gond script resembles the Late Harrapan style of writing. The horned head-dress with leafy plumes that they wear on their ceremonial occasions can be seen on multiple Indus seals. They practice the lost-wax method of bronze casting that was used in the IVC, and their tradition of worshiping their primary deity Bada Dev (also called Shembhu or Mahadev) under the Saja tree appears to be depicted on the Indus Sacrifice Seal (Mohenjo-Daro seal No.430).

The legend of Lingo-Krishna, however, was probably incorporated into the Gond legends by the pastoral Abhiras (Ahirs), who migrated to Central India from Northwestern India sometime at the beginning of the Christian era, and were assimilated into the Gond society.

The recent DNA study of the skeletal remains found at Rakhigarhi shows strong connections with the Irula, a tribal community of the Nilgiri Highlands. This indicates that some Harappans adopted a simple tribal life after migrating into India, following the collapse of the IVC at around 2000 BCE.

Since most tribal groups live in dense and inaccessible forested areas, they have been able to preserve their ancient customs and practices without a great deal of changes, unlike the urban Hindu society which has been subjected to the pressures of multiple external invasions and new waves of religious and artistic developments. 

In addition, many tribal legends were put down in a written form only in the past couple of centuries, which has minimized the scope for errors and late interpolations. The Legend of Lingo, for instance, was documented for the first time by the pioneer missionary Rev. Stephen Hislop in 1859, from the oral accounts of a Pardhan priest. 

We must also remember that the Indus seals and tablets were manufactured by the traders and artisans, who were more likely to have been acquainted with the folklore versions of the ancient legends and not the official, sanitized, versions maintained by the priestly class. Even today, we find that the village and folklore tales differ greatly from the “formalized” legends of the Puranas and other texts. There are also variations across geographies; the stories related in Northern India vary from the ones in Southern India or South-east Asia. Therefore, we cannot pick up a version of a myth and claim that to be the original or sacrosanct one.

The close symbolic connections between the Legend of Lingo and the imagery on some Indus seals and tablets demonstrates the crucial importance of folklore and tribal traditions for interpreting Indus seals. More studies in this direction will surely shed more light on the beliefs, culture, and practices of the Indus people.


[i] James Forsyth, The Highlands of Central India (Chapman & Hall, 1871) 194. 
[ii] Behram H. Mehta, Gonds of the Central Indian Highlands: A Study of the Dynamics of Gond Society (Concept, 1984) 229 
[iii] Bibhu Dev Misra, "Shiva as Bada Dev: Gond Symbolisms on Indus Seals", 03 Jan. 2016, 
[iv] James Forsyth, The Highlands of Central India (Chapman & Hall, 1871) 195-196.