Mature Harappan Civilisation - Part 3 - Religion, Funeral, People, Politics and Decline

February 18, 2018

For part 1 (click here) ;

For Part 2 (click here)


In the previous two parts, we have discussed various facets of Mature Harappan civilisation such as the various sites, their features, subsistence base, crafts and technique, trade, writing and script. With this part we will be concluding with Harappan civilisation and will be discussing their religious and funerary practices, Harappan people, their political system and finally decline.

Religious and Funerary Practices: 

  1.  Worship of Female goddesses was associated with Fertility.


  2.  Pashupati Seal:


    • Male figure with a buffalo horn head-dress seated on a dais with his legs bent with bangles, his hands rest lightly on his knees.

    • Four Animals-

      • Elephant

      • Rhinoceros

      • Water Buffalo

      • Tiger

    • Beneath the dais are two antelopes or ibexes.

  3. Worship of male and female creative energy in the form of icons of lingas and yonis.

  4. Linga with a yoni-pitha has been found at Kalibangan.

  5. Pipal tree appears often. Sometimes there is a figure peering out from between its branches, possibly a tree spirit.

  6. A seal found at Mohenjodaro shows a row of seven figures with long braids standing in front of a pipal tree which has a horned figure standing in it.

  7. Swastika is also found at some places.

  8. Sacrifices:

    • A triangular terracotta cake found at Kalibangan has a carving of a horned deity on one side and an animal being dragged by a rope by a human on the other showing animal sacrifice.

    • A Kalibangan cylindrical seal shows women sacrifice too.

  9. Funeral:



    • Cemeteries have been found at Harappa, Kalibangan, Lothal, Rakhigarhi and Surkotada.

    • Body is placed in extended position with head towards the north in a simple pit or brick chamber.

    • Grave goods include food, pottery, tools and ornaments but were never too many or lavish.

    • Symbolic burials with grave goods but no skeleton found at Kalibangan.

    • Fractional/Secondary burials found at Mohenjodaro and Harappa. It means reburial of the bodily remains. 

    • Harappa and Mohenjodaro also show urn burials suggesting cremation.

    • Multiple burials of men and women were discovered at Lothal.



Harappan People:

  1. Harappan women wore a short skirt made of cotton or wool. They wore their hair in variously in braids, bun, locks, turban or left loose.

  2. Male figurines are usually bare headed though some are turbaned.

  3. Beards are common.

  4. Incidence of Malaria have been identified.

Political System:


The Communication system, Standardization in artefacts, Site Specialization, Mobilization of labour for public works, establishment of the trading outpost of Shortughai, Cultural homogeneity and the use of a common system of writing show that a state was existing. Social differentiation further indicate some degree of class stratification.


  1. There is not homogeneity in decline of Harappan civilization. Some sites such as Mohenjodaro and Dholavira give a picture of gradual decline while some sites such as Kalibangan, Banawali show sudden end to city life.

  2. There was an eastward and southward shift of settlements and people.

  3.  In late Harappan period, at Pirak in Baluchistan, there was beginning of double cropping- wheat and barley were being grown as winter crops and rice (with irrigation), millet, sorghum as summer crops.


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