The Vedic Image of the Ocean
The Rig Veda itself contains nearly a hundred references to ocean (samudra), as well as
dozens of references to ships, and to rivers flowing into the sea. The main Vedic ancestor
figures like Manu, Turvasha, Yadu and Bhujyu are flood figures, saved from across the sea.
The Vedic God of the sea, Varuna, is the father of many Vedic seers like Vasishta, the
most famous of the seers, and the BhRigu seers, the second most important seer family.
Indeed the basic Vedic myth is of the God Indra who wins the seven rivers to flow into the
sea? How could such a myth arise in the desert of Central Asia?(*14)
To preserve the Aryan invasion idea it was assumed that the Vedic (and later Sanskrit)
term for ocean, samudra, originally did not mean the ocean but any large body of water,
especially the Indus river in the Punjab. Here the clear meaning of a term in the Rig Veda
and later times - verified by rivers like Sarasvati mentioned by name as flowing into the
sea - was altered to make the Aryan invasion theory fit. Yet if we look at the index to
translation of the Rig Veda by Griffith for example, who held to this idea that samudra
did not really mean the ocean, we find over seventy references to ocean or sea.(*15) If samudra does not mean ocean why was it still translated as
such? It is therefore without any basis to locate Vedic kings in Central Asia far from any
ocean or from the massive Sarasvati river, which form the background of their land and the
symbolism of their hymns.
Again the absence of archeological data and the non-existence of any real Sarasvati river
was used to justify this change of the meaning of terms. Now that the Sarasvati sites have
been found as mentioned in the Veda, and ships and maritime trade in the Indus/Sarasvati
culture, we should reexamine the Vedic references to samudra or ocean, and take them
As an interesting sidelight, it is now known that Aryan migrations to Sri Lanka from
Gujarat began before 500 BC, if not much earlier, and Brahmi inscriptions have been found
in Indonesia to about 300 BC, thus making the nomadic Aryans strangely and quickly turn
into sea-faring traders and migrants. Yet such travel makes perfect sense if the Vedic
people were familiar with the ocean at an early period. Meanwhile the Phoenicians were
trading with the port of Ophir (Sopara, Surpakara) north of Bombay during the time of King
Solomon, circa. 975 BC. This also shows the Vedic people engaging in a maritime trade from
central India at a period much too early for the Aryan invasion of 1500-1000 BC.