Traditionally, goddesses are viewed as mothers and creators, ensurers of the fertility of land and people alike. With the discovery of pre-Vedic sites such as Harappa, and its seals showing trees growing from the wombs of goddess figures, scholars proposed the existence of an early goddess tradition which was (partially) incorporated in the traditions of the arriving Aryans.1 Male dieties dominate their Rg Veda,2 but in it we still find goddesses such as those listed below:
Several, if not all, of these goddesses clearly express the importance of agriculture in Indian society. The waters of Ganga Mata (Mother Ganges), the source of all (sacred) waters everywhere, are considered to be the "sustaining immortal fluid (amrta) of mother's milk."4 Indeed, one version has it that her descent to Earth was caused by a need for fertility and nurturance to resurrect King Sagara's sons.5 Rivers facilitate birth, bringing both the waters necessary for agriculture and the skill of sacrifice.