), one of the principal rivers of Asia, and the boundary westward of India.
It is mentioned first in ancient authors by Hecataeus of Miletus (Fragm.
144, ed. Klausen), and subsequently by Herodotus (4.44
), who, however, only notices it in connection with various tribes who, he states, lived upon its banks.
As in the case of India itself, so in that of the Indus, the first real description which the ancients obtained of this river was from the historians of Alexander the Great's marches. Arrian states that its sources were in the lower spurs of the Paropamisus, or Indian Caucasus (Hindú--Kúsh
); wherein he agrees with Mela (3.7.6), Strabo (xv. p.690
), Curtius (8.9.3
), and other writers.
It was, in Arrian's opinion, a vast stream, even from its first sources, the largest river in the world except the Ganges, and the recipient of many tributaries, themselves larger than any other known stream.
It has been conjectured, from the descriptions of the Indus which Arrian has preserved, that the writers from whom he has condensed his narrative must have seen it at the time when its waters were at their highest, in August and September. Quoting from Ctesias (5.4,11), and with the authority of the other writers (5.20), Arrian gives 40 stadia for the mean breadth of the river, and 15 stadia where it was most contracted; below the confluence of the principal tributaries he considers its breadth may be 100 stadia, and even more than this when much flooded (6.14). Pliny, on the other hand, considers that it is nowhere more than 50 stadia broad (6.20. s. 23); which is clearly the same opinion as that of Strabo, who states, that though those who had not measured the breadth put it down at 100 stadia, those, on the other hand, who had measured it, asserted that 50 stadia was its greatest, and 7 stadia its least breadth (xv. p. 700). Its depth, according to Pliny (1. c.
), was nowhere less than 15 fathoms.
According to Diodorus, it was the greatest river in the world after the Nile (2.35). Curtius states that its waters were cold, and of the colour of the sea (8.9.4). Its current is held by some to have been slow (as by Mela, 3.7.6); by others, rapid (as by Eustath. in Dionys. Perieg.
5.1088). Its course towards the sea, after leaving the mountains, was nearly SW. (Plin. Nat. 6.20. s. 23
); on its way it received, according to Strabo (xv. p.700
) and Arrian (5.6), 15, according to Pliny, 19
other tributary rivers (1. c.
). About 2000 stadia from the Indian Ocean, it was divided into two principal arms (Strab. xv. p.701
), forming thereby a Delta, like that of the Nile, though not so large, called Pattalene, from its chief town Pattala (which Arrian asserts meant, in the Indian tongue, Delta (5.4); though this statement may be questioned). (Cf. also Arrian, Arr. Anab. 2
; Dionys. Perieg. 5.1088
The fiat land at the mouths of rivers which flow from high mountain-ranges with a rapid stream, is ever changing: hence, probably, the different accounts which we receive of the mouths of the Indus from those who recorded the history of Alexander, and from the works of later geographers.
The former (as we have stated), with Strabo, gave the Indus only two principal outlets into the Indian Ocean,--at a distance, the one from the other, ac.. cording to Aristobulus (ap. Strab. xv. p.690
), of 1000 stadia, but, according to Nearchus (1. c.
), of 1800 stadia.
The latter mention more than two mouths : Mela (3.7.6) speaking of “plura ostia,” and Ptolemy giving the names of seven (7.1.28), in which he is confirmed by the author of the Periplus Maris Erythraei (p. 22).
The names [p. 2.53]
of these mouths, in a direction from W. to E., are:--l. Σάγαπα στόμα
), not improbably in the arm of the stream by which Alexander's fleet gained the Indian Ocean; 2. Σίνδων στόμα
); 3. Χρυσοῦν στόμα
), whereby merchandise and goods ascended to Tatta; 4. Χάριφον στόμα
); 5. Σάπαρα;
); 7. Λωνιβάρη
the Puirana, Darja
). For the conjectural identifications of these mouths, most of which are now closed, except in high floods, see Lassen's Map of Ancient India.
The principal streams which flowed into the Indus are:--on the right or western bank of the river, the Choaspes, called by Arrian the Guraeus, and by Ptolemy the Suastus (the Attok
); and the Cophen (Cábul
river), with its own smaller tributary the Choes (the Kow
); and, on the left or eastern bank, the greater rivers,--which give its name to the Panjdb
(or the country of the Five Rivers),--the Acesines (Clenáb
), the Hydaspes or Bidaspes (Jelum
), the Hydraotes (Ravi
); and the Hypanis or Hyphasis (the Sutledge
). [See these rivers under their respective names.] As in the case of the Ganges, so in that of the Indus, it has been left to modern researches to determine accurately the real sources of the river: it is now well known that the Indus rises at a considerable distance on the NE. side of the Himálaya,
in what was considered by the Hindus their most sacred land, and which was also the district in which, on opposite sides of the mountains, the Brahmaputra,
and the Jumna,
have their several sources. From its source, the Indus flows NW. to Iskardu,
and thence W. and SW., till it bursts through the mountain barriers, and descends into the plain of the Panjdb,
passing along the western edge of Cashmir.
vol. v. p. 216; Moorcroft, Travels in Ladakh and Cashmir,
The native name Sindliu
has been preserved with remarkable accuracy, both in the Greek writers and in modern times. Thus, in the Periplus, we find Σινθός
(p. 23); in Ptolemy, Σίνθων
(7.1.2), from which, by the softening of the Ionic pronunciation, the Greeks obtained their form Ἴνδος.
(Cf. Plin. Nat. 6.20
; Cosmas, Indic.
The present name is Sind
(Ritter, vol. v. pp. 29, 171.)