Punjab is the wellspring of Indian culture. Traditional literature the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the Puranas, the Vedas, all take us back to Punjab. Archaeolgiststs find the earliest evidence of recognisably Indian civilisation in the excavation of Punjab's Harappan sites. The uninterrupted continuity of Indian culture flows forth from ancient Punjab.
Artifacts dating back to the Pleistocene Age have been found in the valley of Kangra, Pehalgam, and Hoshiarpur. These finds testify to the cultural unity extending to the whole of the region. The Harappa-Ropar and Sanghol civilisations were the outcome of the culture that developed over a vast area. The Harappan civilisation perhaps was overwhelmed by the village folk, who, although did not belong to a different culture, represented a different pattern of life.
There is no conclusive evidence to prove that the authors of the Rig Veda came to the land of seven rivers from any outside country. The whole complex of Rigvedic hymns shows them settled in this region from the outset and considering it their sacred land and original home .
Sage Priyamedha Sindhukshit in the famous ‘Hymn of Rivers" (Nadi-stuti) after invoking the favour of rivers soars to a high pitch of exultation in his reference to the Sindhu. He clearly states that his ancestors were the inhabitants of the land through which the river flowed from ages immemorial.
The Vedic and the later Epic periods of the Punjab were socially and culturally the most prolific. The Rig Veda was composed here.
During the period quite a number of centres learning and culture were established. Panini and Vishnu Gupta were associated with this.religion , Philosophy, grammer, law, astrology, medicine and warfare were taught . Yasak’s Nirkuta and Panini’s Ashtadhyayi are those classic creations of which help us to understand the language and culture of the ancient Punjab.
The field of action of the Ramayana is believed to be outside the Punjab but the tradition maintains that Valmiki composed the Ramayana near the present Amritsar city and Kaikeyee belonged to this region.
The advent of Buddhism saw Punjab become, more than ever, a cultural crossroad. A few years before the birth of Buddha (556 BC), the armies of Darius I, king of Persia, had swept across Punjab and made the area a protectorate of Persian empire. This was a fruitful interaction that ripened into the cultured and sophisticated cities of Gandhara (present day northern Pakistan-southern Afghanistan). To the Buddhists Punjab was Uttar Path – the way to the North, to the valleys of Afghanistan, and further on to Central Asia and China. In 327 BC Alexander invaded Punjab, defeating Raja Paurava (Porus). The centuries that followed brought more incursions from the north but the Indian response was vigorous. This happened during the rules of the Mauryas, the Sungas, the Guptas and the Pushpabhuti.
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