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The Indus Valley “Proto-Śiva”: Reexamined Through Reflections On The Goddess, The Buffalo, And The Symbolism Of Vāhanas

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Chapter Summary

Reliable conclusions about the religion of the Indus Valley Civilization continue to be elusive, and will certainly not be reached until the language on the seals, amulets, and other artifacts has been deciphered. But since Sir John Marshall published his identification of the prototype of Siva on one of the seals found in the 1922-27 excavation at Mohenjo Daro (1931,1: 52-56). Marshall argued that Siva's identity as Pasupati, &t;Lord of Animals&t;, is prefigured in seal 420 by the four animals which surround the central figure. He also recognized a difficulty: whereas pasu denotes domesticated animals, the four animals - elephant, tiger, buffalo, rhinoceros - are wild. The animals most consistently represented as vahanas of lokapalas, and most invariably associated with specific directions, are the buffalo of Yama, regent of the south, and the elephant of Indra, regent of the east.

Keywords: buffalo; Indus Valley; John Marshall; Siva; Vahanas



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