Another crocodilian plays a key role in the observations made by Asko Parpola. That is the gharial (in Hindi) or gavial (in English). Its scientific name is Gavialis gangeticus. A specialized fish eater, the gharial’s defining feature is its slender snout. Males sport a pot-like protuberance on the tip of their snouts after reaching sexual maturity. Like the mugger, they have suffered at the hands of South Asia’s human denizens. But the status of the gharial is highly endangered. Only 200 or so survive in the wild.

I don’t have much time to write about Parpola’s observations today. It would required some study. He connects the iconography on Harappan seals to the gharial and certain elements of Dravidian religion. The focus is on the phallic aspect of the reptile’s snout and the iconography of the Hindu deity Shiva. Shiva is believed by some to be a non-Aryan god absorbed by Brahmin priests into the Hindu pantheon. He is represented by a lingam (a phallic structure). And the Harappan seals (according to Parpola) with their gharial and Lord of the Beasts imagery hint at something similar.

Image Attribution: The image above is sourced from Wikimedia Commons and credited to the great English naturalist and geologist Richard Lydekker (in the ‘Royal Natural History’).

Reference: ‘A Dravidian Etymology for Makara – Crocodile’ by Dr. N. Ganesan (Houston, Texas, USA)