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makes this reading really significant is that the compound mai-m-m¥$ n ‘black star’ is actually attested as the name of the planet Saturn in Old Tamil.38) Such a name is natural for Saturn, a dim planet.

But Saturn is also a slow planet. For this reason it is usually called s& ani or s& anais& cara ‘slowly-going’ in Sanskrit. In the iconography of both the Buddhists and the Jains, the planet Saturn rides the proverbially slow turtle. The association may well go back to Harappan times, for the pictogram depicting a fish with a roof over it could symbolize the planet Saturn not only phonetically but even pictorially, through his vehicle, that is, the turtle, which is an aquatic animal (i.e., a kind of ‘fish’) covered with a shell (i.e., a kind of roof)!

The Banyan Tree and the North Star On the seals M-172 and M-414, the plain fish sign is preceded by a sign which has several variant forms in the Indus texts (see Fig. 3). Their comparison with the motifs of Early Harappan painted pottery suggests that this pictogram represents a fig tree. Except when combined with another sign (‘crab’), which is placed inside it omitting the central ‘branch’, the tree is shown as three-branched, just as on the painted pottery. In the combined sign, the branches end in fig leaves as on the painted pottery, but in the variants of the basic sign the branches seem to bear either fig fruits or simplified fig leaves, or hanging aerial roots, or both.

(Fig. 3)

______________________________ 38) Cf. Pu_ran$an_ $u_ru 117.


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