“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before
me; fir the earth is filled with violence through them with the earth…And it
came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the
earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life…were all the fountains of the
great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was
upon the earth forty days and forty nights. And the waters returned off the
earth continually; and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters
A world – destroying flood ( “world” in those days being
localized rather than planetary) is a
common legend in the ancient history of many races apart from the Hebrews; for
example, the Americans, Babylonians, Indians, Persians, Polynesians and
Hindu legend tells of the appearance in the sky of a rapidly
expanding dark shape in the form of boar, which suddenly broke into loud
thunder. The shape hurtled into the water which, convulsed by the motion, rose
in enormous waves.
The same basic story is related in the mythology of other
races and countries, including even the Celts of Britain and the Maoris of New
Research since the 1970s suggests that there were three
global super-floods: 15,000 to 14,000 years ago; 12,000 to 11,000 years ago;
and 8,000 to 7,000 years ago. The second period ties in with the date Plato
ascribed in the Timaeus and Critias to the destruction by
earthquakes and flooding of Atlantis, and with the Tamil myth of the submerging
of the fabled land
of Kumari Kandam.
There is also strong evidence that nearly half the total
melt water released at the end of the last Ice Age was concentrated into these
three relatively short periods. Such events would have had a momentous impact
on the human inhabitants at that time, leaving a marked impression on oral
tradition, the original transmitter of all ancient myths.
Floods played an important role in the decline of Harappan
civilization. Several individual sites like Dholavira show that floods and
rising sea levels leading to increased salinity made them uninhabitable.
In coastal areas, floods do not necessarily mean riverine
floods but tidal waves and rising sea levels. The Mausala Parva of the Mahabharata seems to record a tidal wave
leading to the destruction of Dwarka. The description in the Mausala suggests a massive tidal wave
triggered by underwater volcanic activity- sometimes known as the tsunami.
There are far more deadly than river floods. More seriously, if it is part of
permanent environmental change, their effect can be permanent. This seems to
have the case with coastal areas of the Harappan civilization.
Rising sea levels can be devastating for coastal settlements
since there is no recovering from it. We find records of floods in the
literature all across the ancient worlds. The better known among these (
are the Bible and the ancient Mesopotamian work known as the Epic of Gilgamesh.
The question is : can we find any record of floods on the Indus
seals? We have found at least two that record the terrifying effects of floods.
The first of these is a seven – sign message inscribed in
the compact form characteristic of most Harappan writing. It is written from
right to left and may be deciphered as follows.
(right –to- left in original)
: Śakta vāsa samudrah
Written in the concise Harappan (sutra) style, this may be
rendered into English as follows: “ The sea has entered dwelling places.” The
writing on the next seal is more vivid and poignant-almost an anguished cry for
help. It is written from left to right which is the more common mode on the
Harappan seals. With a total of sixteen signs it is one of the longer Harappan
inscriptions on record.
Decipherment: Line 1: da-śa-sa-sra-dha
Line 1: dāsśuse-śrudhi
Line 2: agho vai astojan
Line 3: śaktikah vrā hanāyattah
The inscription may be explained as follows. The first line
is an invocation: “Oh Gods! Hear our prayers as we make our offerings to you in
your yajnas”. The second line is a description of the flood: “ We see before us
floods (enemy) in eight directions ( or all around us).” The third is a cry of
despair: “Powerful people find themselves at the mercy of death.”
No one can say with certainty why the subcontinent’s
long-lived civilization came to an end, but experts suspect unruly rivers. Geological
and archeological evidence, it turns out, give strong evidence that a long and devastating drought followed by
devastating floods led to the abandonment of the settlements along the banks of the Indus and
Saraswati rivers in western India, ending an urban civilization that had
flourished, archeologists now surmise, sometime between 2,600 BC and 1,900 BC. Experts think the fluctuations
of the Indus had a major impact on Mohenjo
Daro. It whipped back and forth across the plains, causing floods that
destroyed the agricultural base of the city. Trade and the economy were
disrupted. Hundred of villages may have been destroyed by floods or by rivers
carving new channels.