The geography of the Rigveda has been the most misrepresented aspect of the text in the hands of the scholars: the geographical information in the Rigveda, to put it in a nutshell, more or less pertains to the area from Uttar Pradesh in the east to Afghanistan in the west, the easternmost river mentioned in the text being the GaNgA, and the westernmost being the western tributaries of the Indus.
However many western scholars have maintained that Rig veda people moved from west to India, Let us see the common most evidence rivers
Let us see the counter arguements.
There are three rivers named in the Rigveda to which this applies: the SarasvatI, GomatI and Sarayu. The SarasvatI in the Rigveda is the river to the east of the Punjab (flowing through Haryana) and the GomatI and Sarayu in the Rigveda are rivers to the west of the Punjab (western tributaries of the Indus). This is the general consensus, and it is confirmed by an examination of the references in the Rigveda.
But a SarasvatI (HaraxvaitI) and a Sarayu (Haroiiu) are also found in Afghanistan; and a GomatI and a Sarayu are found in northeastern Uttar Pradesh.
Some say GaNgA and YamunA of the Rigveda are rivers in Afghanistan. A political “scholar”, Rajesh Kochhar, say the events in the RAmAyaNa took place in Afghanistan, transfers the entire locale of the epic to Afghanistan: “Ravana’s Lanka can be a small island in the midst of river Indus… by Vindhyas is meant Baluch hills, and by sea the Lower Indus. SarasvatI is identified with Helmand and GaNgA and YamunA as its tributaries in the hilly areas of Afghanistan. He makes this revolutionary discovery on the basis of a verse in the VAlmIki RAmAyaNa where “YamunA is described as surrounded by mountains”
An extreme attempt is to suggest that a root word rip- in the Rigveda indicates a subdued memory of the Rhipaean mountains: the Urals.
Saptasindhu, it is suggested by some, refers to seven rivers in Central Asia, and the SarasvatI in the Rigveda is not the river of Haryana, but the river of Afghanistan
Let us see the rig veda terms and Meanings
1. The Northwestern Rivers (western tributaries of the Indus, flowing through Afghanistan and the north): TRSTAmA (Gilgit) , Susartu, AnitabhA, RasA, SvetI, KubhA (Kabul), Krumu (Kurrum) GomatI (Gomal), Sarayu (Siritoi), Mehatnu, SvetyAvarI, Prayiyu (Bara), Vayiyu, SuvAstu(Swat), GaurI (Panjkora), KuSavA (Kunar).
2. The Indus and eastern tributaries: Sindhu (Indus), SuSomA (Sohan), ArjIkIyA (Haro)
3. The Central Rivers( rivers of the Punjab): VitastA (Jhelum), AsiknI (Chenab), ParuSNI (Ravi), VipAS (Beas), SuturI (Satlaj), MarudvRdhA (Maruvardhvan).
4. The East-central Rivers ( rivers of Haryana):SarasvatI, DRSadvatI/HariyUpIyA/YavyAvatI ApayA
5. The Eastern Rivers: ASmanvatI (Assan, a tributary of the YamunA), YamunA/AMSumatI , GaNgA/JahnAvI.
Let us see the disputed rivers
1. HariyUpIyA/YavyAvatI: HariyUpIyA is another name of the DRSadvatI: the river is known as RaupyA in the MahAbhArata, and the name is clearly a derivative of HariyUpIyA.
The YavyAvatI is named in the same hymn and context as the HariyUpIyA, and almost all the scholars agree that both the names refers to the same river.
It is also possible that YavyAvatI may be another name of the YamunA. M.L. Bhargava, in his study of Rigvedic Geography, incidentally (i.e. without making such an identification) makes the following remarks: “The old beds of the ancient DRSadvatI and the YamunA… ran very close to each other… the two rivers appear to have come close at a place about three miles southwest of ChacharaulI town, but diverged again immediately after… the YamunA… then again ran southwestwards almost parallel to the DRSadvatI, the two again coming about two miles close to each other near old Srughna……”
The battle described on the HariyUpIyA -YavyAvatI may therefore have taken place in the area between these rivers
2.JahnAvI: JahnAvI, which is clearly another name of the GaNgA, is named in two hymns; and in both of them, it is translated by the scholars as something other than the name of a river: Griffith translates it as “Jahnu’s children” and “the house of Jahnu” .
The evidence, however, admits of only one interpretation: JahnAvI is clearly the earlier Rigvedic form of the later word GaNgA: the former word is not found after the Rigveda, and the latter word is not found in the Rigveda. And the word JAhnavI (and therefore also JahnAvI as well) has only one connotation in the entire length and breadth of Sanskrit literature: it is a name of the GaNgA. JahndvI is associated with the SiMSumAra or the Gangetic dolphin. The dolphin is not referred to anywhere else in the Rigveda.
Mandalas and Rivers
Let us see manadala wise distribution of rivers and so the location of rig veda composition in each place.
Early MaNDala I
Middle MaNDala I
General and Late MaNDala I
GaurI, RasA , Sindhu, SarasvatI, JahnAvI
VipAS, SutudrI, SarasvatI, DRSadvatI, ApayA, JahnAvI
Sarayu, KuSavA, Sindhu, ParuSNI, VipAS, RasA
Sarayu, KubhA, Krumu, AnitabhA, RasA, Sindhu, ParuSNI, SarasvatI, YamunA
SarasvatI, HariyUpIyA, YavyAvatI, GaNgA
AsiknI, ParuSNI, SarasvatI, YamunA
GomatI, SvetyAvarI, SuvAstu, Prayiyu, Vayiyu, Sindhu, ArjIkIyA, SuSomA, , ParuSNI, SarasvatI, AMSumatI, RasA
Sindhu, ArjIkIyA, SarasvatI, RasA.
Sarayu, GomatI, Mehatnu, KubhA, Krumu, Sveti, RasA, Susartu, TRSTAmA, , ArjIkIyA, SuSomA, VitastA, MarudvRdhA, AsiknI, ParuSNI, SutudrI, SarasvatI, ASmanvatI, YamunA, GaNgA
Mandalas and movement
1. In the pre-Rigvedic period and the early part of the Early Period (MaNDala VI), the Vedic Aryans were inhabitants of an area to the east of the SarasvatI.
2. In the course of the Early Period (MaNDalas III and VII), and the early part of the Middle Period (MaNDala IV and the middle upa-maNDalas), there was a steady expansion westwards.
3. Though there was an expansion westwards, the basic area of the Vedic Aryans was still restricted to the east in the Middle Period (MaNDala II), and even in the early parts of the Late Period: MaNDala V knows the western rivers from the KubhA (Kabul) in the north to the Sarayu (Siritoi) in the south, but its base is still in the east. SarasvatI is still the most important river in the MaNDala: it is referred to by the eponymous RSi Atri, who also refers to the RasA. All the other references to the western rivers (Sarayu, KubhA, Krumu, AnitabhA, RasA, Sindhu) occur in a single verse by a single RSi SyAvASva, obviously a very mobile RSi who also refers elsewhere to the ParuSNI and even the YamunA .
4. In the later part of the Late Period (MaNDalas VIII, IX, X, and the general and late upa-maNDalas) the Vedic Aryans were spread out over the entire geographical horizon of the Rigveda.
Thus, we have a clear picture of the westward movement of the Vedic Aryans from their homeland in the east of the SarasvatI to the area to the west of the Indus, towards the end of the Early Period of the Rigveda: what is clearly the westermnost point in this movement, a battle fought in southern Afghanistan “on yonder side of Sarayu”.
So the rig veda people are home to India not from outside