The Seal M-304, commonly known as the ‘Pashupati seal,’ is an ancient artifact from the Indus Valley Civilization, which thrived around 3300 to 1300 BCE in what is now modern-day Pakistan and northwest India. This seal is significant because it provides insights into the religious and cultural beliefs of the people living during that time.
The name ‘Pashupati’ is derived from the combination of two Sanskrit words: ‘pashu,’ meaning ‘beast’ or ‘animal,’ and ‘pati,’ meaning ‘lord’ or ‘master.’ The seal depicts a seated figure surrounded by four animals: an elephant, a tiger or a lion, a rhinoceros, and a buffalo. The central figure is portrayed in a yogic posture, possibly in a meditative state, with a headdress resembling horns and an erect phallus. These features have led to various interpretations of the identity and significance of the figure.
One of the interpretations, as you mentioned, associates the figure with the Vedic deity ‘Pushan.’ In Vedic mythology, Pushan is one of the Adityas, the solar deities associated with different aspects of life. Pushan is considered the god of nourishment, and he is often depicted as a guardian of animals and a guide for travelers, protecting them from harm. He is also associated with the safekeeping of cattle and the provision of prosperity and abundance.
The association of the ‘pash’ symbol with law and order in the Vedas further complements the interpretation of the seal. The ‘pash’ symbol can be seen as a noose or a rope, which symbolizes restraint, control, and order. In the context of Pushan, it represents his role as a divine protector, upholding law and order in the natural world and ensuring the well-being of both humans and animals