Cultural Connections

Cultural Connections

But let me correct myself. There is one particular aspect which does survive, not only in South India, but also in Sri Lanka. This came to my mind when the year before last I was in Sri Lanka at the time of their general election and they had a music performance. In the music performance they were having the dance, and with their drum or dholak, and it at once reminded me of my early life, for I was born in Central India, and I had seen this kind of dance. Not with tabla, tabla is a later comer in our country. It at once reminded me that we have got this dholak in the Indus Valley Civilization. I don't know about the dance, but at least the dholak we know. We have not stringed instruments in Indus Valley Civiliztion. We have got the flute, we have got cymbals, we have got the dholak. Exactly the same musical instruments are played today in Sri Lanka and South India. So I would like to correct myself: to say that nothing is surviving in South India [is wrong]; this is the only instrument which is surviving there according to me from the Indus Civilization.

Q: What kind of traces would you like to have that would make you think that there is more of a connection between the Dravidians and the ancient Indus?

A: If not the urban, the urban life, at least some pottery, some seal, some material of ivory or any material which we find in the Indus Civilization should be found there rather than in North India. In North India, we know it gradually went later on. But nothing has been found in South India as far as a material object is concerned. As far as the literary object or material is concerned, that we have not been able to know because we haven't been able to read the Indus script.

Q: I was just in Madras. As you know, tigers were very important in the Indus civilization. I noticed that in Madras wherever they are constructing a house, they put a tiger mask in front to ward off the evil spirits. Perhaps this is a trace of an Indus Valley period belief?

A: No, the tiger is also very important in Central India, where I have been living myself, very important. In fact, one of the most important animals in the Indus Civilization is the bull. You visit my museum , I have a painted pottery, not excavated by me, in Islamabad, and all around we have got a bull. Although we do not worship animals in Pakistan, but we do respect the bull because of its utilitarian nature. Bull is used for carriage, in the bullock cart, for plowing, and we have got bull festivals every year. The bull is not the sacred animal in that part of India, it is the cow.