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The Queens Stepwell

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posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 11:57 AM
The Rani Ki Vav stepwell is probably the finest example of an Indian stepwell the tradition of which goes back five millenium from the Indus valley civilization, with examples from Dholavira also in Gujarat province.

Rani Ki Vav is an 11th-century-stepwell situated in the town of Patan in Gujarat, India, on the banks of the Saraswati River. The stepwell is said to have been constructed by Udayamati, the widowed Queen of Bhimdev I , around 1050 AD in memory of the king. Bhimdev I was the son of Mularaja, the founder of the Solanki dynasty of Anahilwada Patan. The stepwell was later flooded by the nearby Saraswati river and silted over until the late 1980s, when it was excavated by archeologists. When restored, the stepwell’s magnificent carvings were found in pristine condition.

Queens Stepwell

My interest here arises from looking for continuity of Indus valley tradition of the sacred reservoirs and baths and wells into the modern era and what religious traditions continued to be associated with them.

Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water, it is divided into seven levels of stairs with sculptural panels of high artistic quality. There are more than 500 principle sculptures and over a thousand minor ones that combine religious, mythological and secular imagery, often referencing literary works. The fourth level is the deepest and leads into a rectangular tank 9.5 m by 9.4 m, at a depth of 23 m. The well is located at the westernmost end of the property and consists of a shaft 10 m in diameter and 30 m deep. The building itself measures 64 meters by 20 meters.

The central theme of this stepwell is that of the reclining Lord Vishnu on a bed of ten serpents associate with the ten incarnations which began with the Fish God incarnation of Matsya

A 5,000-year-old stepwell has been found in one of the largest Harappan cities, Dholavira, in Kutch, which is three times bigger than the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro.

Located in the eastern reservoir of Dholavira by experts from the Archaeological Survey of India working with IIT-Gandhinagar, the site represents the largest, grandest, and the best furnished ancient reservoir discovered so far in the country.
Dholavi ra stepwell

In conjunction with Vishnu are seen the serpent women Nagakanya or Apsaras that descended from the Heavens, these are generally adorning themselves as in preparation for a wedding, the practise of Solah-shringar.

Most of the sculptures are in devotion to Vishnu, in the forms of Dus-Avatars Kalki, Rama, Mahisasurmardini, Narsinh, Vaman, Varahi and others representing their return to the world.

Nagkanya, Yogini beautiful women - Apsara showcasing 16 different styles of make-up to look more attractive called Solah-shringar.

Vishnu is seen as the hero of the Apocalypse on his white horse.

In Hinduism, Kalki is the final incarnation of Vishnu in the current Mahayuga, foretold to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the current epoch. Religious texts called the Puranas foretell that Kalki will be atop a white horse with a drawn blazing sword. He is the harbinger of the end time in Hindu eschatology, after which he will usher in Satya Yuga.

Of course it is difficult to say if these understandings derive from as far back as Indus valley civilization, certainly the first incarnation of Vishnu as the fish God seems to have been an important aspect of their religion and the cult of the Fish people of the baths.

When the practices taught in the Vedas and institutes of law have nearly ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists of His own spiritual nature, and who is the beginning and end, endowed with eight superhuman faculties, when the eight suns (represented by 8 solar deities or Vasu who lord over Dhanishta Nakshatra), will together shine over the sky

Vishnu appears to have every variety of cosmic super-weapon at his disposal, and certainly a highly complex beleif system is evidenced at Rani Ki Vav, which of course inspired it's extraordinary construction.

The ascetic prince, Lord Kalki, the Lord of the Universe, will mount His swift white horse Devadatta and, sword in hand, travel over the earth exhibiting His eight mystic opulences and eight special qualities of Godhead. Displaying His unequaled effulgence and riding with great speed, He will kill the millions of those thieves who have dared dress as kings.

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 12:33 PM
Thank you very much for taking the time to document this; it was fascinating. Vishnu is quite a god, returning to earth ten times to save humanity. Puts other returning gods to shame.

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 01:05 PM
a reply to: StanFL

Yes Vishnu is great, as Narayana a sort of very complicated version of En-Ki.

The fifth verse of the Narayana Sukta, a hymn in Yajurveda, states that Narayana pervades whatever is seen or heard in this universe from inside and outside alike. Another important translation of Narayana is The One who rests on Water. The waters are called narah, [for] the waters are, indeed, produced by Nara-Narayana (the first Being); as they were his first residence [ayana], he is called Narayana.[4] In Sanskrit, "Nara" can also refer to all human beings or living entities (Jivas). Therefore, another meaning of Narayana is Resting place for all living entities. The close association of Narayana with water explains the frequent depiction of Narayana in Hindu art as standing or sitting on an ocean.

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 01:21 PM
a reply to: Kantzveldt
Amazing. Another treat brought to us by Kantzveldt.

In Hinduism, Kalki is the final incarnation of Vishnu in the current Mahayuga, foretold to appear at the end of Kali Yuga, the current epoch. Religious texts called the Puranas foretell that Kalki will be atop a white horse with a drawn blazing sword. He is the harbinger of the end time in Hindu eschatology, after which he will usher in Satya Yuga.

This sounds very...ahem...familiar. Is this Hindu theology 5 millennia old as well? If so, it would be a precursor to another similar theology that has risen in the past few thousand years. Inquiring minds...

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 02:59 PM
a reply to: Klassified

Yes that's my consideration that the tradition associated with the stepped wells of Gujarat dates back to Indus valley traditions and their cult of the Fish people, related to the first incarnation of Vishnu as Matsya, the city of Dholavira had incredible water management systems.

So the question is did the tradition of the long term apocalyptic plan also originate at that period, the derivation of the Apsaras from the fish cult is demonstrable

The earliest references to ara-makalir ‘divine damsels’ occur in the Cankam anthologies compiled in the early centuries C.E., but containing much older oral traditions.

They hailed from the sky (vani); they dwelt on the mountains (varai) and sported in the mountain streams (aruvi)

They were regarded as mythical,semi-divine beings and were most probably associated with serpent worship as indicated by the constant reference to ara ‘serpent’ , nisr-ara-makalir ‘water nymphs’

The Fish that swam in the Great Bath

The Fish people

In a sense the stepped wells were perhaps an equivalent of the Sumerian Apsu shrine.

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 03:04 PM

The Pashupati Seal is the name of a steatite seal discovered at Mohenjo-daro archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization. The seal depicts a seated figure, once speculated to be ithyphallic, a view now seen as unsubstantiated; possibly tricephalic (having three heads); with a horned headdress surrounded by animals. He has been described as a horned deity. It is purported to be one of the earliest depictions of the Hindu god Shiva (the seal is named after "Pashupati", an epithet of Shiva) or Rudra

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 03:10 PM
a reply to: Kantzveldt

Well presented, constructed and informative thread that provides much food for thought.

It's threads of this standard that bring me back to ATS time and time again.

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 03:31 PM
My ancestry knew their s****!!!

posted on Sep, 14 2015 @ 05:04 PM
a reply to: Marduk

Yes there is commonality with Southern Mesopotamia in terms of the constellations associated with the early incarnations of Vishnu, the turtle figures seen on Dilmun seals were perhaps the successors of the Fish people...the swine or boar constellation (Delphinus) was the sign of Damu, so i think there was continuity into Hinduism.

Lord Vishnu is considered to be resident in the direction of the "Makara Rashi" (the "Shravana Nakshatra"), which is about coincident with the Capricorn constellation

Like Vishnu's first two avatars - Matsya (fish) and Kurma (turtle), the third avatar Varaha is depicted either in zoomorphic form as an animal (a wild boar)

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