HISTORICAL/ACADEMIC VALUE: 5/5
WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 2.5/5
Michel Danino was a French national who left France in 1977, to come to India and has since then lived in India. He has been a voracious scholar and an extensive researcher ever since, with his theory of “Indigenous Aryans” being critically acclaimed world over. This theory scrapes the previously propagated “Aryan Invasion theory” and its proponents, claiming that Aryans were not foreigners but they were indigenous to India. This theory is further supported by his research on the river Saraswati which is the sole point of focus of the book – The Lost River: On the trail of the Sarasvati.
Saraswati, as we all know, was the most sacred river of ancient Indian civilisation. It was spoken about in almost all ancient texts – the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. However, whereas the sacred Saraswati has always been believed to have run its course over the great Gangetic plains and meeting the Yamuna and Ganga at the Sangam (confluence) at Prayag (present-day Allahabad), Michel Daninos’ research plots its course through parts of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
Saraswati, as we all know, was the most sacred river of ancient Indian civilisation. It was spoken about in almost all ancient texts – the Rig Veda, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana.
The Lost River is meticulously researched and is a pleasure to read. The vast expanse of knowledge is overwhelming and so informative that anybody who reads the book will become a master on the subject. Danino talks about two important things – The River Saraswati and the Indus Valley Civilization and its continuity. The location of the ancient river, as proposed by the author, is extensively supported by previous research texts, Vedas especially the Rig Veda, epics including Mahabharata and Ramayana, folklore and local legends as well branches of sciences like Hydrography, DNA Analysis, Soil & Climate Analysis, Satellite Imagery, Carbon Dating and other like Archaeology etc.
I was surprised to know that the water flowing in some underground channels in Rajasthan today was carbon dated and discovered to have been flowing since the last 8000 years. (Forgive me if I am incorrect in remembering the exact number of years). But what I want to convey here by divulging this information is the extent to which data has been collected to prove the accuracy of this research. Finally, after reading The Lost River I have no basis of rejecting Danino’s claim and can say with utmost pride and surety that India’s long-lost river is anything but a myth and has been discovered at last.
It awakens a sense of patriotism to know that Saraswati is not a myth, but it is fact and that, too a fact supported by the various bodies of science. Our civilisation did not get lost, it was there since the beginning, and continues to this day. It establishes the fact that Indus Valley did not disappear or was destroyed (as claimed by other theories) but it had survived the tests of time and had continued ever since thus blending in with today’s India and its people. The striking facts which connect Indus Valley to present India, and which Danino brings to the forefront by the way of this book, are all very convincing.
The Lost River, though so mind-boggling and interesting, may not seem very interesting to certain readers as it has been written in an academic way and thus may appeal dull or boring to non-history enthusiasts. But leaving that, the book is extremely informative and would take your understanding of the Harappan civilisation much beyond simple textbook knowledge.