Note: This is a translation of the first chapter of the book “Sindh Ja Aguna Hindu” (Olden Hindus of Sindh) written in Sindhi language by Mr. Teckchand Nawalrai Tarachandani in 1966. This book is reputed to be authentic and this chapter has been translated as faithfully as possible.
Sindh is a small state just west of
India. The state is named for the river Sindhu (called Indus in English), which
passes through the middle of the state and flows into the Arabian sea in the
south. According to historians, Aryans called the river Sindhu when they
established settlements there. The river is wide and flows all year around.
Apparently, the word originated from the Sanskrit word Sindh which means
Each region of Sindh has a different
name. The southeast region is called Thar, which originated from Thal, which
means dry. In this region there is no river or canal; there are only sand dunes.
So, people of Thar depend on rain for cultivation. The southwest region
is called Lar, and it is at a low altitude. The river Indus makes a turn in this
region and then flows into the Arabian Sea. The central region of Sindh, east of
the Indus River is called Sahiti. Originally, Sahita people used to live there
and the name is apparently derived from them. On the west side of the Indus
River, there is a valley next to Kherthar mountain and the valley is called
Kachho. There is no river or canal in the valley and cultivation depends on
rain. The region north of the central Sindh is called Saro. In that region,
Larkana and surroundings are called Chandka, because Chandya community used to
live there. A leader of the Chandya community, Ghaibi Khan Chandyo lived there.
The northern boundary of Sindh is called Sarhad (which means boundary). The
region between central Sindh and the northern boundary is called Uttar Sindh,
which means north Sindh.
People in each region were named
after the region they lived in. People in Thar were called Thari. Even though
Thar is a part of Sindh, the people there speak Dhatki language which is a
mixture of Kacchi, Gujarati and Marwari. Their customs are like Marwaris and
they inter-marry with Marwaris. Thari men used to wear turbans and keep long
beards which they divided at the chin and turned to either side. Among them Bhil,
Kolhi, Dhedh and Menghwar people were considered Harijans. Others of higher
caste were Sodha, Bhati, Thakar, Maheshwari and Karar.
The people of Thar did not inter-marry with Sindhi Hindus. Also, no
Sindhi Hindus were considered Harijans.
This book is a description of Sindhi
Hindus, i.e. of Hindus who lived on both sides of the Indus river and who spoke
the Sindhi language.
Names of the regions in Sindh and the communities follow:
Name of community
Sahiti ja (ja means of)
(Uttar means North )
Sakhru, included in Uttaradi
Shikarpuri, included in Uttaradi
To the northwest of Sindh, close to
Kalat, there are two villages named Bhag and Nari and together they
are called Bhagnari. People from there are called Bhagnari and many Hindu
Bhagnaris migrated to Karachi.
People in the mountainous region in the southwest Sindh are called
Chhapru. Most of the original settlers in Karachi were Bhagnari and Chhapru
The prosperity of Sindh depended on
the Indus River which flows all year around. The river begins in the Kailash
Mountain, passes through Kashmir and West Punjab, and then through Sindh. The
river water contains a lot of soil particles which are very beneficial for
the river water overflows on both banks it deposits silt on the banks. In the
winter, the water recedes, leaving behind very rich silt on which many crops,
e.g. wheat, oats, coriander, chickpeas, peas etc. are grown; without any
plowing and seeding is necessary because the silt from the receding water of the
river provides enough nutrition. The soft ground is called Kacho or Keti. Cattle
also graze in this area. Due to plentiful grass, diary products, e.g. milk,
butter and ghee are quite inexpensive in this region.
Away from the Indus river
agriculture depends on canals, which originate from the river.
When the river water recedes in the
winter, some small canals form naturally. In the olden times people lengthened
these canals so that crops could be grown in additional areas. These canals used
to flow when the river was full and Rabi crops were grown.
During the rule by England, these canals were improved and some
additional canals were dug. Then regulators were installed on the canals to
enable better water distribution for cultivation.
Later on during the rule by England,
a large dam was proposed to be built at Sukkur. The plan was approved at the
time Sir George Lloyd was Governor of Bombay Province (which included Sindh) and
the dam was named the Lloyd Barrage. The Barrage was completed in January 1932.
Canal gates were installed and new canals were constructed, so water became
available all year around. Therefore, a lot of previously barren land became
summer crops were grown only close to the river banks or close to wells. With
the construction of the dam and the canals, the planting started in additional
areas where the canals provided water.
Then the summer crops exceeded the winter crops.
The Indus River has made Sindh
green. Cotton, pulses, oilseeds and wheat production was more than enough for
consumption in Sindh; so some of it was exported. Sindhs economy depended on
agriculture and trade of agricultural products. Sindhis were satisfied with the
economy; therefore, there was not much interest in development of crafts.
However some people were interested in painted wooden articles, hand weaving of
bed covers and longis, ceramics etc. Some of these hand-crafted items were
exported from Sindh.
There were no known mineral deposits
in Sindh. There were some forests near the Indus river and lumber from these
forests was used in construction of
Due to the prosperity around the
Indus River, people from other areas especially Punjab, Rajisthan and Kutch
(northern part of Gujarat) came to settle in Sindh and they made it their
The Indus was considered a wayward
river because it often changed its course. Previously, the river used to flow in
the east, where there is Eastern Canal at this time. At one time the Arabian Sea
covered the Thar area. Due to an earthquake the sea receded and
left sand dunes in that area. Similarly, to the south of Thar there is
Rann of Kutch, which was under the sea at one time and then it was raised by an
earthquake. The Indus river adopted its present course in 1758 AD.
The Indus flows fast, which causes
erosion of its banks and many villages near the banks get destroyed.
In some cases new villages were built away from the banks to replace the
villages destroyed by the river.
However, most large cities, except Sukkur, Rohiri, Hyderabad and Kotri
were built away from the river.
The above four cities are near the
river but they are built on hilly terrain and therefore, they are not in much
danger from the shifting course of the river.
Sukkur and Rohri are on the opposite banks of the river.
Between them is an island called Bakhar. To the north of Bakhar there is
Zindah Pir and to the south there is Sadh Belo.
Downstream from Sadh Belo is the Lloyd Barrage.
The terrain around there is hilly which eliminates the risk from
the change of
Near Hyderabad also, Gidubandar and Kotri are towns on opposite banks of
Fishing thrives on the Indus river
and the lakes.
The villages near the river were named after fisher women.
For example, near the Indus river the following villages were named after
fisher women: Amri, Mitiari, Laki, Phulji, Mithiani, Pat, Radhan, Badah, Dokri,
Bakrani , Madeji, Ruk, Arani, Bhagirji, Begmanji and Ghotki. Also the following
villages near lakes were named likewise: Sakrand, Bubak, Sanghar and Halani.
Note: The above chapter has been translated from Sindhi by Briji and Gul Asnani. They have attempted to locate the author and the printer of the book. They were unable to locate either one. If any body knows the author or the printer, please contact the translators by email at email@example.com