The Sindhis, I believe, have a rich contribution to make to the thought and life of India and Humanity. We are children of one of the most ancient civilisations of the world - the Indus Valley Civilisation.

Ancient is the civilisation to which the Sindhis belong. When the Aryans came to India and stood on the banks of the mighty river Indus, they exclaimed in sheer wonder, "Sindhu! Sindhu!" The word 'Sindhu' appears in a number of hymns in the oldest Scripture of humanity, the Rigveda. The Sindhu (Indus) valley civilisation is at least 7,000 years old. And India was originally called, "Sindhustan" the " Land of the Sindhu". My regret is that many Sindhis - scattered, as they are, all over India and the world - are unaware of rich heritage which belongs to them.

Ancient History

The South Asian region is separated from the rest of Asia by a wall of ranges - the Hindu Kush, the Sulaiman, the Karakoram and the Himalayas. Below these are the seemingly endless plains drained by the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers.

In the geological youth of the world, the entire subcontinent was part of the ocean bed. Its ring of mountains was a wall of cliff-shored islands holding back the waves from the Asian heartland as they now hold back the monsoon clouds. The ocean receded; the bed became fertile plain. Rivers began to find their way to the now distant ocean. The longest of three great sub continental rivers is the Indus, now in Pakistan, then Sind. The river has given its name to a country and a religion- ironically, not the country through which it flows or the religion of the people who live by its waters. It is fed by many streams from the mountains of Tibet, the Soviet Union, and Afghanistan. Five other major rivers flows into the Indus: the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas.

This essay is about the people who live along these waters and the people who live in the desserts deprived of these waters. They speak many languages- Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Baluchi, Brahui, Gujrati, to name some - reflecting the diversity of their historical and cultural experience. The people of the Indus live in four provinces of Pakistan. They are the products of unnumbered historical permutations and combinations, the fusion and clashes of fifty-five centuries of civilisation.

In the 1920s an expedition of the Indian Archaeological Survey under Sir John Marshall excavated an interesting mound of earth in the Sind region of then British India. The locals called this particular earthy protuberance Mohan-jo-daro - "the place of the dead." Sir John and his -party discovered one of the world's most ancient cities beneath it. Up to that time the ancient settled areas along the Tigris-Euphrates and the Nile River systems had seemed to merit the title of "cradle of civilisation" - now the Indus was making its claim and new theories had to be devised.

Other sites were investigated, and the cities of the Indus Valley were unearthed - Harappa, Chanhu-daro, Lothal, Kot Diji-highly developed cities that told of a civilisation which had began around 3000 BC, reached apex by 2000, and completely perished by 1000 B.C.

The remains excavated in Mohan-jo-Daro depict the state of affairs from civilisation point of view at that period. These Aryans in Sindh virtually the Indus Valley are mentioned in history of having played role in the battle of Hastinapur when King Jaidrath took his army to support the Kurus. The Sindhis rule the Sindh till they were defeated and conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century. And from that time onwards they played the role of refugees.

Recent Past

With the Partition in 1947 they have had to leave their home and have spread themselves out in every part of the world. And they still continue to be refugees. Though they are refugees driven away from their home they are again with their own Aryans who had spread out in parts of the country. The brother Aryans kept the banner of Sindh alive by including their identity in the National Song and recognizing as a positive community whose future lies in recovering the land of their birth and supporting the country as they did in the battle of Hastinapur. For at that time we learnt that we were part of the central government ruled by Duryodhana.

When, due to the partition of India, the Sindhis were dispossessed of their lands and properties, they did not give into despair. Leaving their properties and possessions in Sindh, they migrated to India, bringing with themselves their enterprising sprit, their faith in God and their many qualities of head and heart. In Sindh, there was never a Sindhu beggar. When they come to India, they resolved that they would starve rather than beg. Little boys attended school during the day and in the afternoon, kept themselves busy hawking on the streets or in railway trains.

Of the great German mathematician, Dr. Jaccobi, it is said that one day he was asked why he had sacrificed so much and devoted all his time and energies to the development of the arithmetic theory, he replied: - "For the honour of the human spirit!"

Of Maharaj Prakash Bhardwaj it may rightly be said that he has strained every nerve, labored long and untiringly - all for the honor of Sindhi community. He has already given us two monumental volumes in the "Sindhi through the Ages" series. And now he presents us with this magnificent publication, 'Sindhis' International Yearbook (1841-1990).