Saraswati findings challenge to Sangh

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  • Published 22.07.03

New Delhi, July 22: Dalit leader Udit Raj today linked Ayodhya to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s claims of Vedic culture having originated on the banks of the mythical Saraswati river.

Raj, president of the Lord Buddha Club, a neo-Buddhist organisation, dared the Centre to make the findings of an excavation public.

Raj said he has information that the Archaeological Survey of India has found no evidence to back the Sangh claim. He claimed the excavation so far had yielded evidence of Buddhist and Harappan culture at the site.

“In Ayodhya also, contrary to the claims of Hindutva hawks, no trace of a Ram temple has been found,” Raj said. Along with Ayodhya, the Sangh is conspiring to link the Saraswati to Vedic culture so that it could be exploited to garner votes of “gullible people”, he said.

Taking a dig at Raj’s credentials, RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav said: “It is a highly scholarly subject. It is an issue for scholars to decide and not people like Udit Raj.”

An ASI team led by Ravinder Singh Bhisth, the survey’s joint director-general, excavated three sites at Adibadri, the origin of the Saraswati, over the last seven months.

They found a Buddhist stupa covering 1,255 square metres with a statue of Lord Buddha, an entry, a verandah, a meditation centre, a worshipping place and a rest room.

According to archaeologist S.P. Gupta, the river used to flow from Adibadri via the Rann of Kutch and touched Karachi in Pakistan. He has reportedly found some 700 sites on the river’s banks linked to the Harappan civilisation.

Raj said he fears that if the excavation findings are not made public, Sangh ideologues may “plant some evidence” to show that Vedic and Hindu culture prevailed at the site.

“At least some utensils, weapons, tools, artefacts, terracotta pertaining to the Vedic period should have been found, but nothing of the sort has happened.”

Raj said he will shortly meet culture and tourism minister Jagmohan to demand that Adibadri be declared an international Buddhist pilgrim centre.

The Dalit leader said his objective is not to exploit religious sentiments but to develop the site as an international tourist spot as billions were being spent on excavation.

Citing History of Kumaon by Badri Datt Pandey, Raj said: “(Adi) Sankaracharya himself rooted out a Buddhist temple from Badrinath and established Joshimath. Buddhism was the religion of the Kumaon people till the 8th century.”