In Vedic times: the rivers Beas, Jhelum, Ravi & Chenab joined Sindhu, to form one channel from Himalayas to the Arabian Sea.
Saraswati and her tributary rivers: Yamuna, Sutlej, Drishadvati and Lavanavati formed the other channel from Himalayas to the Arabian Sea. Saraswati was a mighty river with three sources in the Himalayas. Her bed was as vast as 10 km in some places. The river course was dotted with lakes and ponds.
In the very early days, Saraswati met the Arabian Sea at the Rann of Kachh. After the level of Rann increased, she crossed the Rann to join Arabian Sea at the gulf of Khambat.
Here is the proposed course of the northwestern rivers during Vedic times:
It was on the banks of Saraswati, that the Vedic ashrams thrived. It was on the waters of Saraswati that the vedic culture grew. She was thus called the goddess of knowledge. (Remember goddess Saraswati is always portrayed with water in background, blooming lotus, white swans, and bathing elephants.)
The Rg Veda praises the river as:
It is suggested that Saraswati-Sindhu civilization (3100-1900 BC) suceeded the earlier Vedic civilisation. (Or was it the Vedic civilization itself?) They built their civilization on the Vedic knowledge. How else could they build towns, navigate the seas, achieve large scale production, have quality standards, and have commercial relations with the Mesopotomia & Egypt cultures? It was the Vedic study that provided them the required knowledge of geometry, algebra, geography, ship building, and navigation.
The Saraswati-Sindhu Civilization represents itself in, about 300 cities (plus so many supporting towns & villages). Huge cities had populations of 100,000. They had two or three storied houses built with bricks of uniform size. The cities had underground sewage system. Networked with grid of roads. Cities had giant reservoirs for water. (Today, only one or two Indian cities can boast to be like those built 5,000 years ago!)
Late Vedic Period: Tectonic movements pushed up the Aravali hills, in northern Rajasthan. This changed the drainage pattern of the Northwest drastically. Saraswati lost her major tributaries, Yamuna and Sutlej. Sutlej turned west and joined Beas-Sindhu system, and Yamuna started migrating east to join Ganga.
During Mahabharat times: The volume of water flowing down the Saraswati had reduced. The waters of Saraswati did not make it upto the sea. Yamuna at this time, partly flowed westwards to meet Saraswati and partly flowed eastwards to meet Ganga.
At the time of Krishna's birth Yamuna was not as mighty as it is today. Hence it must have been possible for Vasudev to cross the river, with the new born Krishna in his arms.
It is described in Mahabharat, that Balaram travelled along the almost dry banks of Saraswati, and then along the banks of Yamuna, from Prabhas (Somnath) to Mathura.
After Mahabharat times: Yamuna now pirated Saraswati's sources and flowed into Ganga. Because Yamuna brought the waters of Saraswati to Ganga, the Sagam is called as the Triveni Sangam of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Ganga now took the importance of Saraswati and the title of goddess.
Saraswati now had neither her sources nor her tributary rivers. She no longer remained the perinnial river. Only floodwaters of Sutlej flowed through her vast channels. As late as the 16th century AD, the floodwaters of Sutlej flowed down Saraswati.
Today, Ghaggar; a puny seasonal river, occupies some parts of Saraswati's dry beds. The dry vast bed called the Hakra-Nara channels lie in the western Rajasthan.
The demise of Saraswati, was near fatal for the Saraswati civilization. The scarcity of water forced people to migrate. Saraswati - Sindhu civilization did not vanish. There was a shift of population after the economy around the Sarasvati river collapsed. People moved to east to the Ganga-Yamuna plains, west (giving rise to the Mittani and Kassites, who worshiped Vedic Gods), northwest and south to Godavari plains.
1870: Geologist Alex Rogers discovers: The alluvium deposited by a river in the Gulf of Khambat. It also seems that it must be the drainage of the Panjab, that once flowed into Gulf of Khambat.
1886: British officer Oldham saw the dry, vast bed of the seasonal river Gaggar. He concluded that a seasonal river could not create a bed so vast; thus Gaggar must be occupying the bed of an older river. He wrote a paper on the change of river courses in the northwest, and attributed that dry bed to Sutlej.
1886-1999:Many geologists, archeologists and historians some of them being: Wilhemly, Yashpal, Valdiya, Shridhar, Manuk, Mughal, Marshall, Ahmad, S. Kalyanaraman, Roy, Malik, Ghosh, etc. put forth the theory that Saraswati did once flow, in now dry Gaggar, Hakra-Nara channels.
1972: The sattelite images of the northwestern region showed underground channels of water.
1980's: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai performs carbon testing of the underground waters. It turns out to be 3,500 years old.
1998: Rajasthan Ground Water Department undertook the task to ‘unearth’ the river with the collaboration of BARC and Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (a wing of ISRO). If the effort is successful, people living in the desert belt of Rajasthan will be supplied with water for irragation.
2001 Gujarat Earthquake: The earthquake in Kutch has opened several fissures in that arid land and at some places people have tasted sweet water gushing out. Geologists report new ponds bursting to the surface in Kutch area.
In past few decades archeologists have proved beyond doubt that river Saraswati once flowed from Himalayas to Arabian sea. The capital of Sri Krishna, the city Dwaraka, once flourished on the west coast of India.
These findings prove the observations made by the Hindu texts. They prove the existance of Krishna. They prove that 'Aryans' lived in Bharat long before the 'Aryan Invasion' took place. These archeological findings have been the reason for the demise of the Aryan Invasion Theory.
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