Mohenjo Daro’s legacy
At least one advantage of the Sindh Festival being held in Mohenjo Daro was to introduce this 5,000-year-old civilisation to broader layers. However, civilisation and culture are not limited to music, art and poetry. They encompass the mutual relations, habits, feelings, attitudes, social behaviour and many other aspects of life. The most profound expression of culture is its architecture. It not only expresses the art of construction but also reflects the social values, productive relations and socio-economic system prevailing in a given society. The ruins of Mohenjo Daro were discovered in 1922 as a result of excavations at Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and certain other remains of the Indus Valley civilisation conducted under the supervision of director general Archaeological Survey of India, Sir John Herbert Marshal. He led his archaeological and excavation team with great dedication and passion in unearthing this extraordinary historical society. The Indus Valley civilisation was modern for its time.
The remains of Mohenjo Daro depict a society based on economic equality and social egalitarianism. These old societies, based on collectivism, are called ‘primitive communist societies’ in the Marxist science of historical materialism. Mohenjo Daro had a planned layout based on a street grid of rectilinear buildings. Most were built of fired and mortared brick, some incorporated sun-dried mud-brick and wooden superstructures while people lived in a primitive communist lifestyle. The city had a central marketplace, with a large collective well. Storage facilities for grain and bathing with hot water were available for all. A furnace for heating water was available underground while a planned sewerage system was also there. In these ruins one can find the remains of a public place for education.
In contrast to the remains found in Egypt, Greece, Rome and China, where royal palaces, tombs of the kings and other huge state buildings were found, the remains of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa reflect a classless society. Sir John Marshal, in his book Mohenjo Daro and Indus Civilisation (1931), notes: “Thus, to mention only a few salient points, the use of cotton textiles was exclusively restricted at this period to India and was not extended to the western world until 2,000, or 3,000 years later. Again, there is nothing that we know of in prehistoric Egypt or Mesopotamia or anywhere else in western Asia to compare with well-built baths and commodious houses of the citizens of Mohenjo Daro. In these countries much money and thought were lavished on the building of magnificent temples for gods and on the palaces and tombs of the kings, but the rest of the people seemingly had to content themselves with insignificant dwellings of mud. In the Indus Valley civilisation the picture is reversed and the finest structures are those erected for the convenience of the citizens.”
However, this civilisation did not emerge in history suddenly. It was a product of the labour and intellect of human beings accumulated over generations and thousands of years of historical evolution. Marshall explains, in the same book: “One thing that stands out clear and unmistakable both at Mohenjo Daro and Harappa is that the civilisation hitherto revealed at these two places is not an incipient civilisation, but one already age old and stereotyped on Indian soil, with many millenniums of human endeavour behind it…an advanced and singularly unique civilisation of their own, closely akin, but in some respects even superior to that of Mesopotamia and Egypt.”
Today, the condition of this heritage site and monuments of mankind’s collectivised social and economic history is deteriorating. Archaeologists, local as well as international, are expressing concern over the deterioration and damage to this historical monument. Since the British Raj, people understanding the importance of this monument have demanded more care for these ruins. Jawaharlal Nehru, in his famous book Discovery of India (1944), notes, “Twice I have visited Mohenjo Daro, in 1931 and 1936. During my second visit I found that rain and the dry sandy air had injured many of the buildings that had been dug out. After being preserved for more than 5,000 years under a covering of sand and soil they were rapidly disintegrating owing to exposure, and very little was being done to preserve these priceless relics of ancient times.”
Seventy years on, this historical treasure is still in poor condition. The rulers are busy plundering. The rulers who have not provided even the basic necessities of life to the people of Sindh and other parts, why should they care about this heritage of the people? If the Sindh government had moved the stage for the Sindh Festival a few hundred metres away from this site, the danger of damaging these buildings could have been averted. It would have even presented the panoramic view of the whole city on television screens. During the festival, nobody mentioned that the old inhabitants of Mohenjo Daro did not die of hunger. The sewerage system in this city was better 5,000 years ago than in most of the cities of Sindh and Pakistan today. The elite and the media were very selective in portraying the culture and social life that these architectural remains depict. Nowhere in the coverage of the ‘culture’ was brought forward the egalitarian social and cultural collectivism of this epic ancient city. Without overlords, police chiefs and generals, kings and rulers, exploitative and despotic state machinery, a society had existed and flourished. Above all, based on primitive communes, they collectively organised the provision of food and basics.
Today, a vast majority of the people live in absolute poverty. The real lesson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari can learn from Mohenjo Daro is that through a planned economy, a genuinely egalitarian society can be built on a socialist basis. With modern techniques and scientific inventions it would be on a much higher plane than it was 5,000 years ago. Today, technology and productive forces have reached such a point that poverty and scarcity can be eliminated in a short span of time but the chains of private property and profits have to be removed.
The PPP, which gave Bilawal this opportunity and prominence, was founded on a programme of revolutionary socialism. The founding document of the party clearly states, “Ultimate objective of the party is to build a classless society, which, in our times is only possible through socialism.” This slogan actually made the PPP the largest party of the working class of this country almost overnight. Today, millions are looking for a way out of their misery. Can Bilawal revive the socialist legacy of this party? Does he have the sincerity, audacity and the courage to stand up for the party’s socialist origins and become a revolutionary alternative to this system of human devastation? This is not merely the sole way forward for the emancipation of the masses but also for the survival of the PPP. The fundamental lesson of Mohenjo Daro is that if such a prosperous and egalitarian society could be created under primitive communism in antiquity, then in today’s communism, the human race can be salvaged from all want and oppression once and for all.