December 28th, 2015
"In my view Hindu bathing places, such as the ghats at Varanasi, may have existed from the time of the Indus civilization. It is supposed that a canal or branch of the Indus flowed next to the lower city of Mohenjo-daro, which appears to have been surrounded by revetments functioning as flood defenses. Next to what Ernest Mackay took to be 'a small fort on the city wall,' he found a "ghat like staircase" that led down at least as far as the present water level" (Wheeler, 1968:47). In any case the derivation of Sanskrit Ghatta- from Dravidian *katta, river bank, embankment, dam,' is fairly generally accepted for the Hindi word ghat, 'bathing place,' and its cognates in many modern Indo-Aryan languages; and it is surprising that the corresponding Sanskrit word ghatta- is not attested in Vedic, Epic or Puranic literature, but only in words of the lexicographers. All the nuances of the equivalent Indo-Aryan term tirtha, ford, sacred bathing place,' are supplemented by a near homophone in Dravidian *katta, namely *kata 'to cross over, ford, transgress" (Parpola, 2003; From The Roots of Hinduism, 2015, p. 174).
What do you think?
For more on Asko Parpola's thoughts on the ancient Indus script, go to his essay Deciphering the Indus Script.
Above: "Assec Ghat, Benares [Varanasi]," Colored postcard, ca. 1905, D.A. Ahuja & Co., Rangoon.