How Old is Yoga - Fascinating Recent Evidence

how old is yoga

We learn about early yoga in the Rig Veda, one of the oldest books known to man. However, the date of the Rig Veda was a mystery. In the 1970s it was believed to date back to about 1500 BCE, but this was only an educated guess by experts in the classics.

The First Clue

Rig Veda was written by an ancient and mysterious people who lived by the River Saraswati. Rig Veda mentions the River Saraswati many times, referring to its life-giving bounty. However in spite of this documentary evidence, it seemed as if this civilisation, along with the River Saraswati, had disappeared without a trace.

Many came to believe that both the people (which they named The Indus Valley Civilisation), and the river Saraswati were just myths.

Re-Discovering The Indus Valley Civilisation

The first traces of the Indus Valley civilisation were found when engineers were laying railway tracks early in the 19th century near the ancient city of Harappa in modern Pakistan. The largest discovery, a sizeable city at Mohenjo Daro, boasted public baths, sewers and brick houses. Many manufactured artifacts and clay tablets were unearthed, testifying to the cultural development of these people.

So what caused the demise of such a sophisticated urban society? Could it have been an invasion by the so-called Aryans from the north?

Satellite Evidence reveals The Saraswati River

In 1972 the first satellite photographs of the area revealed a dried up river bed, 5 miles wide in some places, and traces of approximately 2,500 ancient settlements on its ‘banks’ that had been buried and forgotten. The photographs confirmed evidence in Rig Veda that the Saraswati River originally rose in the Himalayas and then ran south west towards the Arabian Gulf.


Geological studies subsequently proved that earthquakes in this area have significantly uplifted the land, diverting the Saraswati River eastward into the River Yamuna. The original river bed filled up with sand and the area turned to desert.

Left high and dry, the people migrated towards the Ganges and the Saraswati River and its civilisation disappeared from view and memory.

Dating the Rig Veda

The last clue that enabled the Rig Veda to be correctly dated was the unearthing of artifacts in the Saraswati valley settlements. Radiocarbon tests showed that they were 5,000 years old.

Since the Rig Veda was written prior to the drying up of the Saraswati River, that placed it as early as 3,000 BCE thereby extending the history of yoga by at least another 1,500 years!

Modern Advances in Astronomy

Further proof has been obtained through modern advances in astronomy. By using computers to extrapolate various astronomical observations mentioned in the Rig Veda to the present time, it has been possible to date these observations to 3000 BCE.

The Test of Time

This further validated the new understanding that yoga dates back some 5000 years. Yoga has certainly stood the “test of time” and still has much to offer humanity.

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