• Pipal (‘the Indian fig tree’) branches appear on seals, but in an
elaborate scene carved on a Mohenjodaro seal, there is a deity in the
pipal tree with the ‘fish’ sign and a large goat; the deity is being
worshipped by a human worshipper with, perhaps, a sacrificial
offering, while as many as seven women (perhaps priestesses) stand
in line at the bottom. The sacrificial offering on this seal has been
identified by many scholars as a human head.
• At Chanhu Daro, the excavators found a jar closely set in brickwork:
it contained the skull of a woman in her early twenties. It is difficult
to find any explanation for this find other than that the skull belonged
to the victim of a sacrifice, its preservation in the jar being designed
to propitiate a guardian deity.
Mother Goddess and Symbolic Worship Terracotta and other figurines
found in private houses are treated as evidence of domestic superstitions and
beliefs. ‘Mother Goddess’ figurines are not only predominant but also easily
outnumber the procreative male godlings. These might have been worshipped
for obtaining children. But nothing can be said definitively about the stone
cones and large stone rings which, according to some scholars, represent the
male and female organs as symbols of a phallic cult.
Religious Shrines and Structures At this point, we are not able to assert
whether the Indus official cults had any shrines or temples. If Wheeler’s
identification of a house (with a monumental entrance and double staircase
leading to a raised platform) in the Lower Town of Mohenjodaro as a temple
could be proved, it must have been dedicated to the ‘unicorn-deity’, since the
‘unicorn’ is the sole animal that appears on the numerous seals found there.
Further, the assertion that the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro was also an official
structure for ritual bathing is based on the yet-to-be proved assumption that
the Indus people were in the habit of using water primarily for ritual purity.
INDUS OFFICIAL RELIGION
There is every possibility that the Indus seals and their contents might,
represent what the ruling classes, officials and merchants (who used these
seals) believed in—something akin to an ‘official’ religion of the Indus
realm. Almost 75% of the Indus seals carry the representation of just a