(extracted from "SPIRITUAL SEX: Secrets of Tantra from the Ice Age to the New Millennium," by Nik Douglas, © copyright 1996. All rights reserved)
The majority of India's indigenous tribal people are Dravidian, a linguistic group that includes Tamil, Telegu, Khond and Oraon languages. They are of "Australoid" racial stock, related to the aborigines of Australia who first migrated there from India at least 60,000 years ago. The territory controlled by Dravidian tribes once extended from Southern Iran to Australia. Originally, in the distant archaic past, these people must have migrated out of Africa.
As in Africa, the culture of ancient India was largely matriarchal. Its people celebrated the spiritual mysteries of birth, the seasons and lunar cycles, renewal, rebirth and transcendence. The diverse dark-skinned Indian aboriginal tribes worshipped spiritual powers associated with fertility, virility and the after-life. They have done so since the dawn of history.
For thousands of years, India's tribal people used anthropomorphic images or "idols" in their spiritual rites. They used selected herbs, flowers and trees in their rituals and plant-drugs to help induce trance states. Worship was accompanied by mystic phrases, diagrams and gestures, and by sexual acts. Like most tribal people world-wide, they believed in the efficacy of spells, charms and amulets.
The best known Harappan seal is one identified by archaeologist Sir John Marshall as Shiva Pashupati, the Yogic "Lord of Beasts". This seal is often cited as evidence that people of the Indus Valley culture knew Yoga and practiced Tantra. It is, however, not the only known example of this subject from this culture. There are several others, of which four are particularly significant.
The "Marshall" Shiva seal depicts a buffalo-horned masked male figure seated on a throne in a version of the cross-legged "lotus" posture of Hatha Yoga. The Yogi's penis is erect, with both testicles prominently visible. The precise placement of both heels under the scrotum is an advanced Tantric Yoga technique known as bandha, meaning knot or "lock". It is normally used to sublimate and redirect sexual energy and can endow the practitioner with spiritual powers.
On the Marshall seal the Yogi sits on a type of throne or bed which is supported by an object resembling the hour-glass shaped double drum (known in Hindu ritual as the damaru) normally associated with Shiva and with shamanistic rituals throughout Asia. The top and bottom of this drum takes the shape of horns, tying-in to the horned headdress.
The Yogi's hands are both shown placed on the knees, in a typical meditational gesture which aids energy circulation. His chest is covered by a five-tiered "V" pattern formed by ten stripes. Both arms are divided into stripes, as if intended as a notational device; four small stripes are followed by a fifth larger one and then the sequence repeats. A total of thirty distinct stripes are drawn on the body of the Yogi; ten on each arm and ten over the chest. Some type of calendrical lunar-oriented notation seems to be represented here, indicating days in a month. Many Harappan seals have notched markings on horns, branches, arms or on the bodies of animals, reminiscent of Paleolithic-period notational marks commemorating calendrical data.
Shiva's horned headdress is also divided into stripes; twelve on each horn, plus eight evolving into a sort of crown, echoing the "V" pattern over the chest, for a total of 32 stripes. A possible 33rd stripe can be seen at the central uppermost part of the crown. Immediately above this is a pictograph, also horn-like with two stripes at each side and a central divided circle.
A large tiger rears upwards by the Yogi's right side, facing him. This is the largest animal on the seal, shown as if intimately connected to the Yogi; the stripes on the tiger's body, also in groups of five, emphasize the connection.
Three other smaller animals are depicted on the "Marshall" Shiva seal. It is most likely that all the animals on this seal are totemic or "heraldic" symbols, indicating "tribes", "people" or geographic areas. The heroes of the Mahabharata, the Hindu epic, had animal symbols on their battle standards. The ancient Egyptians and Sumerians both used animal symbols to distinguish people from different areas. Known as neters or "cosmic visions" in Egyptian culture, these totemic symbols remained unchanged throughout the entire historical period. Many indigenous tribal people of India still have animal totems which signify their different "families" and the geographical zones to which they are connected. On the Shiva seal, the tiger, being the largest, represents the Yogi's people, and most likely symbolizes the Himalayan region. The elephant probably represents central and Eastern India, the bull or buffalo South India and the rhinoceros the regions West of the Indus river.
Immediately beneath the throne, as if decorating it, are two mountain goats (one mostly missing, due to the break, but enough has survived to restore the complete composition). These goats are symmetrically placed, mirroring each other. They are separate from and smaller than the other animals shown and are "vehicles" or "magical allies" of the seated Yogi; emblems of his authority or origin "in the wild mountains" of the North.
This Shiva seal is a carefully contrived glyph loaded with meaning. It would, of course, be helpful to be able to read the single line of pictographs. Understanding an unknown pictographic-derived script in an unknown language is extremely difficult. But until there is certainty about the language spoken by the inhabitants of the Indus Valley region, and the evolution of their script, we must focus on the precise iconographic or "heraldic" information easily accessible to us.
Pictographs or ideograms are supposed to be understood by reading the parts which make up their whole, and by the overall "composition" and impact. The saying that a "picture is worth a thousand words" is particularly true for the intricate and carefully designed Harappan seals, which reveal most of their secrets without the necessity of reading the brief inscriptions.
A large and unique wood-sculpture of a squatting female is one of several enigmatic tribal-style sculptures from greater India, some of which, attributed to the Mehrgarh (7,000 to 5500 B.C.E) and Indus Valley (circa 3300-1300 BCE) cultures, shed light on an early Tantric matriarchy.
Realistically carved, she squats in birthing position lifting her dress to reveal her vagina, stained from offerings. A shawl covers her left shoulder, her right breast bare, hair pulled back and tied in a style favored today by tribeswomen of eastern India. She wears ear-rings and the upper part of her right arm is tied with an amulet of type found on several Harappan sculptures.
Her mouth has tattoos around it, a custom of several archaic cultures and signifying that she represents a matriarch, a married woman who has borne children. Some cultures where mouth-tattooing survives are among Ainu women of Japan; Paiwan tribal women of Taiwan; the Kondhs of Orissa, India; as well as Maori women of New Zealand.
This extraordinary sculpture was likely passed down through a matriarchal tribe. Originally attributed to the historic Shunga period, circa 300 B.C.E., but following a wood test was re-attributed to circa 2400 B.C.E. A more recent radiocarbon test (2012) suggests a more accurate date is the seventeenth century A.C.E. More science may need to be applied to unravel the correct dating, which still leaves us with mysteries of iconography and context.