Monday, 22 May 2017

SANSKRITIC NAMES IN ANCIENT CONGO

The Republic of the Congo is a country located in Central Africa. Bantu-speaking peoples who founded tribes during the Bantu expansions largely displaced and absorbed the earliest inhabitants of the region, the Pygmy, about 1500 BC. The earliest inhabitants of the region comprising present-day Congo were the Bambuti people. The Bambuti were linked to Pygmy tribes and were known to have equivalents in parts of India. Bambuti may be just a morphed form of the word 'Vamana' (वामन), the name of a 'dwarf tribe' of India.

The name Congo is derived from the name of the river Congo. In turn the river gets its name from Kongo- a Bantu kingdom which occupied the mouth of this river around the time of its discovery by the Portuguese in 1483. The Bantu kingdom of 'Kongo' derived its name from its people, the Bakongo. Bakongo is an endonym said to mean 'hunters'. South of the Kongo kingdom lay the similarly named Kakongo kingdom. Abraham Ortelius in his world map of 1564 labels yet another kingdom as Manicongo - the city at the mouth of the river.

We see then that the suffix 'kongo' appears in many tribal names and possibly derives from the equivalent of a word for 'public gathering' or 'tribal assembly' as stated by many scholars. Samuel Henry Nelson (1880-1940) states in his book 'Colonialism in the Congo Basin', published by Ohio University Press, ".....It is probable that the word 'Kongo' itself implies a public gathering and that it is based on the root konga, 'to gather'." 


If 'kongo' means 'gathering' then it is no different from the Indo-European 'congre' or 'congregation'. That itself is a variation of the Sanskrit 'sangha' (संघ) which again has the same meaning - congregation. 

In the context of the etymology of the name Congo, the Sanskrit 'sangha' is significant. For one, a tributary of the River Congo is called the Sangha. In fact the river Congo, itself is a congregation, with many tributaries merging in, flowing along, sometimes parting ways and then flowing back into the Congo river. It is a congregation and assimilation of many large streams and tributaries. Hence it is very likely that Congo itself was the Sangha, its name having survived to the present day in the name of one of its tributaries.


The Congo and the Sangha Rivers

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "When the river Congo first became known to Europeans at the end of the 15th century, they called it the Zaire, a corruption of a word that is variously given as nzari, nzali, njali, nzaddi, and niadi and that simply means 'river' in local African languages." However, all these words are just a corruption of the Sanskrit 'nadi' (नदी) which also means 'river'.

On the Congo
 river lies one of the largest towns of the country. Its present name is Kisangini, it was known as Stanleyville for a while, but prior to that it was known as Singitini or Singatini which are Sanskritic by sound. If at all these names have a Sanskrit origin, then the people who named them so must have been a very refined people. The words Singitini and Singatini have a beautiful feminine nuance to them - and the idea of 'Singitini on the Sangha river' indicates a civilization where the language is poetic. Singitani has the meaning of 'companion', Sangha, as mentioned above implies 'gathering'. Kisangani is strategically placed at the junction of the Congo, Tshopo, and Lindi rivers - a 'Sangham' (सङ्घं) of sorts. Not surprisingly, there are a few other points of river confluences named 'Sangama' in the African continent. For more on this click here.




Kisangani was earlier known as Singitini.
It is indeed a Sangham spot as two rivers

merge into the river Congo here.

The sources of the river Congo are in the highlands and mountains of the East African Rift, as well as Lake Tanganyika and Lake Mweru. Though Mweru is said to mean 'lake' in Bantu languages, the lake is also spelled as 'Moeru', as mentioned in the 'Geographical Dictionary of the World', edited by Angelo Heilprin and Louis Heilprin, first published in 1906. Moeru is phonetically close to the name 'Meru' - the sacred mountain of the Hindu texts.

The name Tanganyika is equally interesting.Lake Tanganyika is the world's longest freshwater lake. So what about the name. In Sanskrit 'Tunda' (तुण्ड) means 'a long snout', that describes the shape of the lake. Yet, this may sound unconvincing unless supported by other facts. But there is more. 

In his Journals about his travels in the Congo, Reverend David Livingstone (1813-1873), a medical missionary, ironically gives details of many sites in Congo, that are interesting in the Hindu and Sanskrit context.  His writings were later also recorded in the book, 'Garenganze or Seven Years Pioneer Mission Work in Central Africa' written by another Scottish Missionary Frederick Stanley Arnot (1858-1914) who too established Christian missions in Congo.

Arnot shares the details of the lakes of Tanganyika, Mweru and Bangweulu and the adjacent mountain range of Kalasa and the caves of Sombwe that he visited in the Katanga region. He states, "... Going north-west, nearly to the Kalasa, I had a good view of the famous cavern mountain...The great cave has two entrances, a distance of five miles or more apart, and within is a running stream. There are also many smaller caves and dens in the mountainous country...". This is at once a reminder both of the caves of Mt. Kailasha and the name Shambhu. Sombwe is now known is also known as Kambove. Kalasa is a common name for males in the Congo. The ancient name of Katanga was Shaba. All these names are related to Lord Shiva. For example Kalasa or Kailasha is the abode of Shiva. Shaba is a cognate of Shiva, and. Kambove or Sombwe are variations of Shambhu, another name of Shiva.

Reverend Dr. Livingstone had earlier described the Kalasa mountains in his journal without writing the details of the name which had inspired Arnot to explore these caves further. Arnot states, "...(Livingstone) turned southward from Tanganyika, his purpose being to go round the east and south of Bangweolo (in 1868 Livingstone had only seen its northwest shore and visited some of the islands) then onto the sources of the Lufira, and up through Katanga to the caves west of Moero, of which the natives give marvellous reports." These were the Sombwe caves later visited by Arnot.




Dolomite from the Caves of Katanga
in Congo.
Malachite Specimen from the caves of Katanga
also called Shaba.
There is another thread though - one that connects the Bantus with not only the village- families of India but also of some of the native American tribes of the Hudson river of the United States. Among the early Bantu tribes, each village unit had a ritual and political head who was known as the *mu-kumu. In the United States, the nearly 40 Indian tribes that had settled on the rivers Hudson, Delaware, Potomac and Susquehanna by the 1650s called their leading tribe, the Lenape, by the title 'Mochomes'. Both mu-kumu and muchome are strangely close to the Sanskrit 'mukhya' (मुख्य) meaning 'chief' which is the title of the village head in India.

There are some similarities with Sanskrit and perhaps Tamil in the mountain names of Congo too. For example, Nyamuragira is the name of a volcano in Congo. The suffix 'giri' (गिरि) in Sanskrit derived languages means mountain, and appears in the names of many mountains in India, especially in the South, such as Vellangiri and Sathuragiri. Perhaps there is a Tamil explanation to the prefix 'Nyamura' in the name 'Nyamuragira'.


Another mountain is named Mangengenge which it is said derives from the Lingala word 'kongenge', which means 'shining'. This name uncannily rings of the name Kanchenjunga which is a distortion of Sanskrit 'Kanchentunga'. Kanchan (काञ्चन) means 'golden', tunga (तुङ्ग) means 'high', 'tall', 'mighty' and 'mountain'. 'Mangen', due its similarity of meaning, may be a variation of Sanskrit 'tunga'. This seems to be true of another mountain name, which is Mt. Nyiragongo. The suffix 'gongo' here again is a cognate of 'tunga' and may simply mean 'mountain' as mentioned above.

Ancient names of mountains, rivers and lakes tend to survive the longest, as compared to names of cities and towns because these are changed by the rulers or chiefs or anyone with political or religious power. It is in the most ancient versions of the names of mountains and rivers of Africa that one sees traces of a more ancient society, perhaps with a deeper link to the Indic civilization.

Friday, 5 May 2017

THE OLDEST REFERENCE TO THE SACRED PALM TREES OF SUMERIA, MESOPOTAMIA, ASSYRIA AND PHOENICIA IS IN THE RAMAYANA

The Palm was the traditional sacred tree of Persia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Sumeria and Phoenicia. The Tree of Life in the Babylonian Garden of Eden story is a palm. But much before these civilizations came into existence, and before the Bible was written, the ancient Hindu text of Ramayana identifies the whole of the extended Persian region with that of a few geographical sites of which Mt. Meru and Mt. Asta are significant. But, the Ramayana identifies this entire region with just one man-made structure - a gigantic ten-leaved golden palm tree with a magnificent podium. Here are the details:

In the Ramayana, four 'vanara' brigades are readied to be sent out in four different directions for the search of Goddess Sita, the wife of God-King Sri Rama who ruled from the city of Ayodhya, after she is abducted by Ravana, the king of the mighty Lanka (now Sri Lanka) empire. 

At the time when it was not yet established where Sita was being held in captivity, one of the search parties is preparing to head west. The search-party is given a route-map by Sugreeva, the vanara chief, which they are told will lead them right up to what was known as the Asta Mountain. 'Asta' (अस्त) is Sanskrit for 'Sunset', and for the 'vanara' commando brigade Mt. Asta was the limit of the western most point that they were to scour for Sita. Mt. Asta's location can be traced to somewhere in the present day Middle East. There is enough evidence for that in the Ramayana. Here are a few clues:

One of the easily identifiable locations that Valmiki mentions is the geographical point where the Sindhu, that is the Indus falls into the Sea.  Moving further west away  from the Indian coast towards a waterlogged mountain glittering like gold by the name 'Paariyatra', the vanaras are told, is a region inhabited by ferocious 'Gandharvas'. The instruction for the 'vanaras' is to quickly search for Sita and not engage with the 'Gandharvas', nor pluck any fruit from their date-palm trees.

In the sea beyond Mt. Pariyatra, the 'vanaras' are told they will come across Mt. Vajra, which shines like a diamond. And further ahead, in the fourth quarter of the sea, they will find Mt. Chakravaan on which is located the Sudarshana weapon, the 'thousand-spoke wheel' that was constructed by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect.

Then, moving ahead the 'vanaras' are told that they will in succession come across, many mountain peaks which are named as Varaha, Meghavanta and finally Meru. These appear to be mountain peaks of the Zagros range. Mt. Varaha is probably what is today called Kuh-e-Vararu. Valmiki mentions that close by is the 'golden city of Prag-jyotisha' . That must be a reference to an ancient city in the vicinity of where Tehran stands today.

The ancient Avestan name of Tehran was 'Raghes' and may be derived from the name of Sri Rama who was also known as 'Raghu' (रघु). The Ramayana says that Pragjyotish was the abode of the demon 'Naraka' (नरक) and there indeed is a town by the name of 'Naraku' in Bhushehr province of Iran.

Close by is the volcanic peak of Damavand, its most ancient known name dating to the Sassanid era is 'Donbavand'. In Sanskrit 'danav' (दानव) means 'demon' but the name stated in the Ramayana is 'Meghavant'. Once again it is difficult to trace whether the names 'Damavand' and 'Meghavant' have any ancient links but the popular traditions of the villages around Damavand mountain are filled with legends and superstitions of which traces can be found in place names, as in the upper valley of the Lar, where a small ravine sprinkled with marshes, warm springs, and geysers is named Div Asiab or the 'the devil’s mill'.

The Zagros Mountains in Iran were named after an ancient nomadic tribe, referred to by the name 'Sagar-tians'. Stephanus Byzantinus (6th century AD), who was the author of a geographical dictionary entitled 'Ethnica', wrote that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called 'Sagartia' and that the Sagartians moved south from Sagrtia to what were later known as Zagros mountains. In Sanskrit 'Sagara' (सागर) means 'Sea and its other form 'Sagartia' means 'of the sea'. The Zagros mountains were named after the Sagar-tian tribe who were also referred to as Zagar-thians. 

As they move further west from 'Sarvaani Meru' to Mt. 'Asta' the 'vanaras' are  told that they will see a 'gigantic ten-leaved date-palm-tree, which is completely golden and shines forth with a marvellous podium'. Here is the verse from the Ramayana: 

अन्तरा मेरुम् अस्तम् च तालो दश शिरा महान् |
जातरूपमयः श्रीमान् भ्राजते चित्र वेदिकः || ४-४२-४६


"In between Mt. Meru and Mt. Asta there is a gigantic ten-leaved Date-palm-tree, which is completely golden and shines forth with a marvelous podium. [4-42-46]

The date-palm tree is a highly respected tree in the Persian-Sumerian-Mesopotamian region. The tradition of gifting golden palm trees by monarchs to others of equal rank has been recorded in the Persian region for centuries. Writes Allegra Iafrate in his 'The Wandering Throne of Solomon: Objects and Tales of Kingship', "..The Golden Palm Tree reaches far back in time. The presence of a tradition of an artificial metal palm trees in what we can loosely call the Persian region is particularly interesting....Although alternatively identified with the tree of life or with the stylized representation of a date-palm tree, the figure would seem to represent a cult object consisting of an actual tree trunk or a pole, encased in bronze or gold sheaths, on which other movable parts like branches and leaves were inserted. ...Archaeological evidence, particularly during excavations made at Nimrud and Khorsabad... has revealed bronze sheathing embossed with a design of a tree trunk scales or imbrications and the remains of poles. Bronze leaves and branches were also found at excavations at Inshushinak temple in Susa.... The actual symbolic meanings of these objects is far from being clarified. It is certain, however, that these are to be put in relation with sacred spaces.....".

The golden metal date-palm tree mentioned by Valmiki adds a wider chronological span to the custom of erecting or gifting metal date-palm trees in this region. In known history, Iafrate states, temple entrances or across the facade, it was a tradition extending from the third millennium BCE in Mesopotamia: mosaic tesserae mimicking palm trunks were found, for instance, at the Ninhursag temple at Tell al' Ubaid, four miles west of Ur, also in the Eanna precincts at Uruk, circa 3200-2900 BCE, on a ziggurat dedicated to Ianna.




4000 year old Sumerian date-palm  Tree of Life



Sumerian Goddess Ninhursag with a Date-Palm Tree


In this artifact Assyrian Gods are seen
with a stylized palm tree.


A mural depicting a sacred palm tree

Assyrian artifact depicting a sacred palm tree
with a podium

Though the location and any remains of this ten leaved date palm tree structure has never been identified or even searched-for by scholars,  what is interesting is that in the Ramayana, the 'vanaras' travelling east in search of Sita are told to keep going forth across many oceans, till they see 'a three-leafed palm tree etched on a mountain near Mt. Udaya which they are told will be visible from the ocean'. This three-pronged palm tree has been identified as the ancient Paracas Trident of Peru etched on a mountain in the Andes chain. For more on this click here.  See picture below:



The ancient Paracas Trident of Peru is
described as a
three-leafed-palm-tree etched on a
mountain visible from the sea in the Valmiki Ramayana.

Suggested Readings:
1. The Wandering Throne of Solomon: Objects and Tales of Kingship by Allegra Iafrate

Saturday, 8 April 2017

SCANDINAVIAN RIVER & LAKE NAMES - THE SANSKRIT DECODE

Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in northwestern Russia just outside the outskirts of Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe and is fed by a river named Ladoga (also known as Volkhov) from which the lake gets its name. The only river that flows out of the lake is the Neva, and despite its modest length (74 km) it is the fourth largest river in Europe in terms of average discharge after the Volga, the Danube and the Rhine.


The Neva River gets its name from Indo-European
or Sanskritic 'nava' (नव) or new.

In one of his papers published posthumously in Studia Etymologica Cracoviensia, author Eugene Helimski deals with the etymologies of the names Ladoga and Neva. He states that the river Neva, which was formed about 3000 years ago got its name from an Indo-European-speaking population who observed the birth of the ‘New’river. (Quoted from Juha Janhunen's Some Additional Notes on the Macrohydronyms of the Ladoga Region). Neva is the same as the Sanskritic 'nava' (नव), with the same meaning.

A Swedish fortress called Nyenskan stood at the mouth of the Neva river in Swedish Ingria, on the site of present St. Petersburg, Russia. Cities that stand on fort-sites in Europe often have names that end with the suffix -burg, said to be a variation of the Sanskrit 'durg' (दुर्ग) or fort. 

In the same research paper Juha Janhunen, Professor of East Asian Studies at University of Helsinki states, "The etymology of Neva is potentially important in that it shows that the historical presence of the Finnic branch of Uralic on both sides of the Gulf of Finland is secondary to an earlier Indo-European expansion to the region....This conclusion is confirmed by the well-known fact that the entire marine terminology of the Finnic languages is of an Indo-European origin. In some cases, as in that of the very word for ‘sea’, Finnic *meri : *mere- : *mer-, the exact identification of the Indo-European source language is controversial." 'Meri' is the same as the Sanskrit 'mir' (मीर) meaning 'sea'.

Juha Janhunen further states that Helimski’s proposal of a Scandinavian etymology for Ladoga is problematic. Although it is clear that its modern name Laatokka is based on Russian, it is far less obvious whether the Russian name can really be derived from Scandinavian *Ald-aug-ja ‘Old Eye(d)’ - which would have been the name of Ladoga had it been derived from Scandanivian languages. Besides 'Old-Eyes' is not a convincing name for a lake or a river.

It might be added here that of all the Indo- European languages, Sanskrit is the oldest and best decodes the names of ancient sites and rivers and mountains of Europe. Here is a look at some of the names mentioned above through the Sanskrit lens. First an observation: 

Many river names in Russia end with the suffix -ga, much like the Ganga of India. River names in Russia include Volga, Pinega and Onega. The ancient names of Volga include Jilga and Julga.

Roman Jakobson, Russian linguist and literary theorist, quoted Nikolai Trubetzkoy's research thus, "In primitive eastern Slavic, un-rounded front vowels changed into rounded back vowels before a tauto-syllabic 'l', so that 'jilga' must have changed tojulga; the initial j was lost before rounded vowels in eastern Slavic, and the initial u acquired an obligatory prothetic 'v'. Thus the form 'vulga' arose, and short 'u' changed in the 12th–-13th centuries into 'o'. So through a long series of changes Jilga became Volga". 
Nikolai Trubetzkoy was a Russian linguist and historian whose teachings formed a nucleus of the Prague School of structural linguistics.

Here is the actual quote from Ramon Jakabson's 'The Balts- Ancient Peoples & Places':
' 205 Notes CHAPTER I 1 Tacitus (90), XLV. 2 Orosius (87). 3 Adam of Bremen (82), 199. 4 G. Gerullis, Die altpreussischen Ortsnamen, Berlin-Leipzig, 1922; A Salys, “Prūsai,” Lietuvių Enciklopedija, XXIV (Boston), pp. 146-57. 5 L. Kilian, “Baltische Ortsnamen westlich der Weichsel,” Altpreussen, IV, 3 (1939), pp. 67-68; H. Krahe, “Baltische Ortsnamen westlich der Weichsel?,” Altpreussen, 1943: I, pp. 11-12. 6 V. N. Toporov, “Dve zametki iz oblasti baltijskoj tomonimii,” Rakstu krājums veltījums audd. J Endzelīnam, Riga, 1959, pp. 251-66. 7 A. Kamiński, Jaćwieź, Terytorium, ludnosć, stosunki gospodarcze i spoleczne (Jatvingia. Territory, population, economy and social structure), Ĺódź, Societas Scientiarum Lodziensis, sectio II, No. 14, 1953. 8 Polnoe sobranie russkikh letopisej, I, 1, Petersburg, 1908. 9 Būga (1). 10 Vasmer (6). 11 The etymology of Volga as proposed by the linguist Trubetzkoy — in his lectures at the University of Vienna — was as follows: in primitive eastern Slavic, unrounded front vowels changed into rounded back vowels before a tauto-syllabic l, so that jilga must have changed to julga; the initial j was lost before rounded vowels in eastern Slavic, and the initial u acquired an obligatory prothetic v. Thus the form vulga arose, and short u changed in the 12th-13th centuries into o. So through a long series of changes Jilga became Volga. (Oral information by Roman Jakobson.) 12 Thomsen (4) 13 B. A. Serebrennikov, “O nekotorykh sledakh izcheznuvshego indoevropejskogo jazyka v centre Evropejskoj chasti SSSR, blizkogo k baltijskim jazykam” (Traces of an extinct Indo- European language related to the Baltic in the centre of the European part of the USSR), Lietuvių Mokslų Akademijos Darbai (Trudy AN Litovskoj SSR), serija A, vyp. 1 (2), Vilnius, 1957. 14 M. Vasmer, “Die alten Bevölkerungsverhältnisse Russlands im Lichte der Sprachforschung,” Vorträge and Schriften der Preussischen Akademie, No. 5, 1941. ' IN

It is more likely that the original name of Volga was 'Julga' rather than 'jilga' if one were to look at the name through the Sanskrit lens. 'Jala' (जल) is 'water', both in Sanskrit and in Hindi. The suffix 'ga' () means 'going' or 'moving'. Hence 'Julga' means 'moving water'. 

Once the -ga suffix is explained one may look at the prefix Lado. La (ला) has the meaning of 'begin' or 'undertake'. 'Uda' (उद), Udra (उद्र) and 'daka' (दक) all mean 'water'.

The older Finnish name of Ladoga was Nevajarvi, jarvi is lake in Finnish, while 'jhari' (झरी) is Sanskrit for 'river'. The Finnish 'joki' or river may be a variation of 'jhari' where the 'r' changes to 'k'.

Juha Janhunen observes that several macrohydronyms in different parts of Scandinavia cannot be explained from any known language. In th
e Ladoga region an example of such a hydronym is the name of Lake Saimaa (Finnish Saimaa, Swedish Saima or Saimen), the largest lake of today’s Finland. But Sanskrit does. Saimma or Sahima (सहिम) means 'with snow' or 'with ice'.

The river draining Saimaa into Ladoga has the name Vuoksi or Swedish Vuoksen which is the same as Sanskrit 'vakshan' (वक्षण) meaning 'river'.

The etymology of Volkov, another name of Ladoga, is unknown, but since 'v' and b' are often used interchangeably in Sanskrit derived languages, Vokhov changes to Balkhov. Bolkhov and Baltic may have the same root and maybe a variation of the Sanskrit 'balaksh' (बलक्ष) meaning 'white' which is one of the interpretations of the name 'Baltic' as made by western linguists.


Suggested Link:

Saturday, 25 March 2017

THE RIVERS OF LITHUANIA - A SANSKRIT CONNECT

Romuva or Romowe was a pagan temple in western part of Sambia, one of the regions of pagan Prussia. The temple, central to Prussian mythology, was mentioned once by Peter von Dusburg (a Priest Brother and Chronicler from 14th century) in 1326. According to his account, Kriwe, the chief priest or the "pagan pope", lived at Romuva and ruled over the religion of all the Balts. The Lithuanian neo-pagan movement Romuva borrowed its name from the temple. 

A bit about the etymology of the names mentioned above.The terms Romuva, Romovė and Ruomuva are said to have come from medieval written sources in East Prussia mentioning the pagan Baltic temple Romowe. The word has meanings of 'temple' and 'sanctuary', but, further, also 'abode of inner peace'.The Baltic root ram-/rām-, has the meaning of 'calm, serene, quiet', stemming from the Proto-Indo-European *(e)remǝ-. But that surely is the same as the Sanskrit Sanskrit root-word 'ram' (रम्) which means 'pleasing' or 'delightful'. Besides Sanskrit offers a scriptural collateral that no other culture or language does. Rama of course is the name of the Vedic Indian God-king. The 'pagan priest' of Romowe who was known as the Kriwe, also most likely the same as the Sanskrit 'kartr' (कर्तृ) or 'priest'.

In their book 'Religious Diversity in Post-Soviet Society edited by Ingo W Schröder and Dr Milda Alisauskiene, the authors make this comment about the Romuvan movement, "... there is one particular dimension of this Pagan movement that transcends strictly Lithuanian or Baltic cultural framework. There is a certain connection with Indian religion and culture that functions on several different levels of significance...".


Lithuanian rivers have names which have obvious Sanskrit links. Even if these names have Proto-Indo-European links, Sanskrit is the only living language that can decode the meaning of these names.

For example, the river Instruch is known as Inster to the Lithuanians but Srutis to the Polish. Srutis is the same as the Sanskrit 'sruti' (स्रुति) or 'stream, outflow. Then there is the Neman, also called the Nemuna or Nemunas- which is the longest river in Lithuania

The etymology of the name is much disputed: some say that 'Nemunas' is an old word meaning 'a damp place',while others that it is 'mute, soundless river' (from nemti, nėmti 'to become silent', also memelis, mimelis, mėmė 'mumber, gawk'). But to anyone with some idea about the link between Indian and Lithuanian culture, it is obvious that Nemuna represents on the Lithuanian geography none other than the river Yamuna. This is not a surprise considering that the name Yamuna also occurs in various avatars in place names of ancient cultures - such as the town of Jamnia on river Jamnia that flows into the Jamnia Harbour in the land of Canaan (ancient Israel). 


The Nemunas is the largest river in Lithuania
Its name is a variation of Yamuna.
On it banks lie towns with Sanskritic names such as
Punia, Karmelava, Ramuciai, Dainava! 
The Nemuna in its lower reaches forms the border between Lithuania and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast. There is no real known reason why Kaliningrad is known by that name, but once again those familiar with Indian scriptures know that Yamuna, the river on the backdrop of which Sri Krishna's life unfolds, is also known as Kalindi. 

The second longest river in Lithuania is Neris, 'nira' (नीर) is 'water' in Sanskrit.  Old and new town names in Lithunia reveal their direct and indirect links to Vedic culture and the Sanskrit language. An ancient town which was referred to as Mitau up until 1917 was given the name Jelgava, which the Lithuanian believe to be derived from the Livonian word 'jalgab' meaning 'town on the river.' But 'Jalgram is Sanskrit for 'town on the river' - 'jalgab' is obviously its variation. 

Yet another river is known as the Jagla. Jagla  seems to be a variation of Jilga or Jalga. Jilga or Jalga was the ancient name of the river Volga. The etymology of Volga as proposed by the linguist Trubetzkoy — in his lectures at the University of Vienna — was as follows: "In primitive eastern Slavic, unrounded front vowels changed into rounded back vowels before a tauto-syllabic l, so that jilga must have changed to julga; the initial j was lost before rounded vowels in eastern Slavic, and the initial u acquired an obligatory prothetic v. Thus the form vulga arose, and short u changed in the 12th-13th centuries into o. So through a long series of changes Jilga became Volga." Julga, the most ancient form of the name of Volga- is Sanskrit. Jula or Jala is water, ga - that which flows. Like the Ganga - which means 'swift flowing'. There is also a town by the name Gelgaudiskis just south of the river Nemuna!!

Then there are in Lithuania towns by the
name Trikai, Kursenai, Radhikiai and Varena - which seem to be variations of the names of Trikal, Krishna, Radha and Varuna. Much like the Vedic culture, the Romuvan festivals include the celebration of the winter and summer solstices.


It is suggested that name of Baltic Sea into which the Nemunas falls on the west coast of Lithuania originates from the Proto-Indo-European root *bhel meaning white, fair which is the same as Sanskrit 'balaksh' (बलक्ष) or white. The Baltic Sea was known as Mare Suebicum or Mare Sarmaticum up until 11th century. Tacitus, a Roman historian of the 1st century, in his work 'Agricola and Germania', dated to 98 AD, stated that Mare Suebicum was named for the Suebi or Suevi tribe (Suevi translates as 'our own people' in the Baltic culture) - a large group of people who lived in Germania that were first mentioned by Julius Caesar. Etymologists trace the name Suevi from the Indo-European root 'swe', which is the same as the Sanskrit 'sva' (स्व) meaning 'self'.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

MEXICO & THE TEOCALLI TEMPLES - THE SANSKRIT-INDIA CONNECT

Mexico, today officially known as the United Mexican States, was home to many advanced Mesoamerican civilizations in the pre-Colombian era before its first contact with Europeans in the early 1500s. In Nahuatl, the native language of the Mexicans, Mēxihco or Machico - was a term used to refer to the heartland of the Aztec Empire, namely, the Valley of Mexico. Its capital was known as Tenochitilan. 


There is much debate on the etymology of the name Mexico and Tenochitilan. It has been suggested that Mexico is derived from Mextli or Mēxihtli, a secret name for the god of war Huitzilopochtli. The name Tenochtitlan was thought to come from Nahuatl 'tetl' (rock) and 'nōchtli' (prickly pear) and is often thought to mean 'among the prickly pears growing among rocks'. However, one attestation in the late 16th-century manuscript known as 'the Bancroft dialogues' questioned the logic here, so that the true etymology of both the words remains uncertain.

Mainstream historians ignore the theory p
ropounded by many other scholars who are of the view that there is a definite connect to the etymology of Mexico with Sanskrit. The basis for this is the many common features and attributes in the culture, the remains of Aztec architecture and languages spoken by pre-Colombian natives of the Aztec empire to that of some of the ancient cultures of Asia.

In the Asiatic Society
 Researches, Volume 11, published in 1808, Major F. Wilford states in his paper 'An Essay on the Sacred Isles in the West', "....various etymologies are given of the name of the city of Mexico, the true pronunciation of which is Machico. The most probable is from the Sanscrit Matsya, or Mach'ha, fish; and, in a derivative form, Matssyacha, and Mach'hica. This word, in the Machico language, is pronounced Mecho, and Mechoa. According to the learned Abbe Clavigero, a native of that country, the name of the town and province of Mechoacan, signifies the place of fish. In Hindi, Mach'hi-c''han'a implies the same, and Mach'hwa-c'hana, a place of fishermen, or Mechoa-can...In the Mexican tongue Teu-Calli signifies the house or cell of god, in Latin Dei-cella, which is to be pronounced Dei-kella....".

Major Wilford links the suffix 'co' in Mexico and -kella in Latin to the Sanskrit 'kula' (house) - as in  'deva-kula' (देव-कुल) or 'house of god'. The prefix 'Teu' in Teu-Calli according to Wilford is a distortion of Sanskrit 'dev', which we know changes to 'deu' in Latin.


The largest Teucalli was located in Tenochitilan which was the most venerated of all Teocallis for the Aztecs. As mentioned above in the popular literature, the name Tenochitilan is translated as 'place of the nopal rock', but this argument is not convincing for the simple reason that it is unlikely that a place as important as Tenochitilan be named after nopal, a cactus plant.

The two prefixes, Teu & Teno in the names Teucalli and Tenochitilan probably have the same root - both a distortion of the Sanskrit Deva,  much like the Latin Deu, all meaning 'god'. 'Chitilan' is a close cognate of 'sthalam' (स्थलम), or 'place'. Hence, Tenochitialn - as a distorted form of 'Deva-stahalam' translates as 'place of god'.


A reconstruction of the ruined Temple of Tenochitilan
has features of vaastu-shastra of South Indian Temples

Tenochitilan stands in ruins today, almost completely destroyed by the Spanish missionaries, but thirty miles away from it stands the city of Teohuacan which has a much better preserved temple. Teohuacan sometimes also pronounced as Teotiguacan was, according to Giovanni Francesco Gemelli Careri (1651–1725) - an Italian adventurer and traveler who was among the first Europeans to tour the world by securing passage on ships involved in carrying trade, a distortion of the Sanskrit 'devakhani', 'khani' (खानि) - meaning 'area' or 'mine'.  

It is more likely though that the suffix 'huaca' in the word Teohuacan is a mispronounced form ofSanskrit 'khanda' (खण्ड) meaning 'section' thus making Teotiguacan an altered form of 'Deva-Khanda' or 'god's area'.

There are examples of such distortions of the word 'khanda' in other languages too. For example, in Avestan, the mother of old Persian', the Sanskrit 'khanda' deviates two ways - from one deviation stems the word 'khaneh' which in Persian means 'house' and from the other stems the word 'haiti' which means 'section'. *

Another possibility
for the source of the word 'huaca' is khetra or shetra (क्षेत्र) or 'area'. This may seem unlikely at first but once again there is an example in Avestan where 'kshetra' distorts to 'shoitra' but keeps the same meaning. 


*[Words in English or Hindi or any other language that are traced to Persian are really just a step away from Sanskrit via Avestan]. 


Suggested Readings & Links:1.  Asiatic Researches or Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal, Volume 11
2. Nahuatl-English Dictionary

3. History of Mexico by Francesco S. Clavigero, 1806
4. Sanskrit Scholars in Spain and Mexico by Juan Miguel De Mora
5. Mexico - Siva Temple

6. Avestan-English dictionary

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A BIT ABOUT NATIVE AMERICAN MYTHS OF CREATION - AND SANSKRIT

There are many theories regarding the arrival of Native American hunter-gatherers in the Americas across the Bering Strait, about 12,000 to 30,000 years ago. Scholars differ on and debate about whether the Natives came from West or East Asia or whether in a single or multiple waves. Though the debate continues, it has long been established through DNA studies, that there is an undoubted link to Asia. 

Here is a look at the remnants of their cultural heritage and languages, that sheds a little more light on the Native American Asian link. As early as 1789 Thomas Jefferson had written,"I endeavor to collect all the vocabularies I can, of American Indians, as of those of Asia, persuaded, that if they ever had a common parentage, it will appear in their languages."

In their research, 'Linguistic Origins of Native Americans', Joseph H. Greenberg and Merritt Ruhlen state,"The evidence of comparative linguistics indicates that the Americas were originally settled by three major migrations from Asia ...... the recent discoveries at least in part fulfill Jefferson's hope that one day the languages of native Americans would illuminate their relations to one another and will reveal the Asian origins of the first Americans." 
There is very little left of the Native American culture; yet their are traces of some commonalities with ancient cultures of the East, cultural heritage that indicates that they might have followed the same traditions and practices as that of ancient India

Of all the native American people, the Quiche of Guatemala have left a rich mythological history in their scripture 'Popul Vuh', which is regarded as one of the rarest relics of Quiche aboriginal thought. In the Quiche account of the creation of the earth and its inhabitants is the concept of a supreme, all- powerful Creator of all things, but the Creator is joined in a somewhat perplexing matter, much like in the Hindu pantheon, a huge number of auxiliary deities and makers. 


The Popul Vah also suggest that man was created four times and destroyed four times - with some stories of creation similar to the Puranas. The story of creation is recorded in the Chimalpopoca manuscript, also known as the Codex Chimalpopoca, named so by Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg (1814 – 1874), a noted French writer, ethnographer, historian and archaeologist. He became a specialist in Meso-American studies, travelling extensively in the region.

In the Native American scripts, myths and mythologies survive names of their deities, gods and goddesses, among which some stand out for their likeness to Indic-Sanskritic names. Included here are Viriseva and VairubiAndrés Pérez de Ribas (1576-1655), a Spanish Jesuit missionary, and historian of north-western Mexico records Viriseva, in his book 'My Life Among The Savage Nations Of New Spain', as a goddess and Vairubi as a god.  Ribas states, "The Sinaloas, from Culiacan north to the Yaqui River, have dances in honor of a certain Viriseva, the mother of the first man. This first man, who was her son, and called Vairubi, they hold in like esteem." These names seem to be linked to Lord Shiva and Goddess Bhairavi of the Hindu tradition. Virshaiva    (वीरशैव) is a particular sect of Shiva in India, Bhairavi is the same as Parvati, the consort of Shiva.

What lends support to the above is the existence of two other names in the Meso-American tradition. In his book, 'The Native Races of the Pacific States of North America', author Hubert Howe Bancroft states, "The Pericues, also of Lower California, call the creator Niparaja, and say that the heavens are his dwelling-place.....The nations of Los Angeles County, California, believe that their one god, Quaoar, came down from heaven; and, after reducing chaos to order, put the world on the back of seven giants. He then created the lower animals, and lastly a man and a woman. These were made separately out of earth and called, the man Tobohar, and the woman Pabavit...". Niparaja is most likely a distortion of either Nataraja or Nagaraja. Nataraja is a name of Shiva, and Pabavit is most likely the equivalent of Parvati, Shiva's consort. Nagaraja is the 'god of snakes' in the Hindu pantheon.

There is an interesting tidbit about a group of Native American tribes in Idaho who are known by the name Snakes. It is a collective name given to the Northern Paiute, Bannock, and Shoshone Native American.

The term Snake was used as early as 1739 by French trader and explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de la Verendrye when he described hearing of the Gens du Serpent (Snake people) from the Mandans - another tribe from North Dakota. This is probably the first written mention of the Shoshone people. The term "Snakes" is also used to refer the Shoshone by British explorers David Thompson and Anthony Henday. No one has a clue why the Snakes were referred to the Snakes - though even the river in the area that they inhabited later came to be known as the Snake.

But the origins may be hidden in one of their tales related by Herbert Howe Bancroft, "In Idaho there are certain famous Soda Springs whose origin the Snakes refer to the close of their happiest age. Long ago, the legend runs, when the cotton-woods on the Big River were no larger than arrows, all red men were at peace, the hatchet was everywhere buried, and hunter met hunter in the game- lands of the one or the other, with all hospitality and good- will. During this state of things, two chiefs, one of the Shoshone, the other of the Comanche nation, met one day at a certain spring. The Shoshone had been successful in the chase, and the Comanche very unlucky, which put the latter in rather an ill humor. So he got up a dispute with the other as to the importance of their respective and related tribes, and ended by making an unprovoked and treacherous attack on the Shoshone, striking him into the water from behind, when he had stooped to drink. The murdered man fell forward into the water, and immediately a strange commotion was observable there; great bubbles and spurts of gas shot up from the bottom of the pool, and amid a cloud of vapor there arose also an old white-haired Indian, armed with a ponderous club of elk-horn. Well the assassin knew who stood before him ; the totem on the breast was that of Wankanaga, the father both of the Shoshone and of the Comanche nations, an ancient famous for his brave deeds, and celebrated in the hieroglyphic pictures of both peoples....". The name Wankanaga may say it all - Naga is Sanskrit for 'snake' - hence snake people!

In the Native Races of the Pacific, Bancroft mentions many other names that are very close cognates of the names of Vedic Gods, goddesses and other deities. For example he writes, "..the Clallams, a coast tribe on the mainland opposite the south end of Vancouver island, have  a principle good deity called by various names; and an evil spirit called Skoocoom; to these some add a certain Teyutlma, 'the genius of good fortune'."  These names seem to be characters from the Ramayana, Sukshama was a demon, certainly an evil spirit. He was the cursed son of Rishi Kashyap, by his wife Danu. Teyutlma, a close cognate of Tillottama, was an apsara or celestial nymph who was made of 'tila' or 'tiny particles', each particle 'uttama' or 'of excellence'. There seems to be a thread here, Sukshama also means 'tiny' or 'minute'.

Bancroft adds, "The medicine men of the tribe (Clallam) are supposed to have much influence both for good and evil with these spirits and with all the demon race."

There are many other names that make perfect sense in Sanskrit. The Cahrocs of Klamath River in Northern California believe in a  Chareya, Old Man Above, who made the world, sitting upon a certain stool. Bancroft adds, "The Cahrocs of Klamath River in Northern California...believe in a certain Chareya, Old Man Above, who made the world, sitting the while upon a certain stool now the possession of the high-priest, or chief medicine-man."  'Chareya' may be the same as the Sanskrit 'acharya' with a syllable dropped. Gene D. Matlock links the name Quaoar to the Vedic Kubera or Kuvera.

There are many other deities in the native American pantheon. Ikanam, the Creator of the Universe is a powerful deity among the Chinooks. Iknam translates as 'One Name' in Sanskrit. The Mexican God Tlaloc is a close cognate of Trilok, Sanskrit for  'three worlds', referring to the Heaven, Earth and Hell or the world underground. 

The Mexican tribes worshipped the moon-god under the name Meztli, as a deity presiding over human generations. Meztli is considered by some experts of Meso-American studies as identical with Joaltecutli. This is reminiscent of Shiva in the Hindu context where Shiva is the moon-god and the god of night as well. Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg describes in his writings a time when the forefathers of the natives lived in a certain Crescent land, the cradle of their civilization, which was lost in a deluge. There they had practiced what they referred to as Saba-ism! Saba is most likely  a distortion of Sava or Siva, the 'v', as established by Grimm's Law of Consonant Shift, distorts into a 'b' with passage of time. 

"It is the moon", writes Abbe, "male and female, Luna and Lunas, personified in the land of Crescent (Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean) , engulfed in the abyss that I believe I see at the commencement of this amalgam of rites and symbols of every kind." The deluge is described in the ancient texts of India, which say that following the deluge the survivors, left with no option, set off to distant lands, taking with them their scriptures and culture, language, myths and practices. "The saved remnant of the people wept the loss of their friends and of their old land, making the latter, with its Crescent shape, memorable forever by adopting the moon as their god." 


The Crescent Shaped Lesser Antilles


Suggested Links:

1. Sanskrit Roots of some Pre-Columbian Native American Words
2. Sanskrit found in Native American Tribal Names
3. Native American races of the Pacific States of North America
4. Native Americans with Ancestors from India
5. The Old Santa-Fe Trail by William F. Cody
6. Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies by Ella Elizabeth Clark
7. Allied Chambers Transliterated Hindi-Hindi-English by Henk W. Wagennaar & S.S. Parikhh

Friday, 13 January 2017

SWAZILAND - RIVER KOMATI AND THE SANSKRIT-INDIC-DRAVADIAN CONNECTIONS

The Komati River (also called Incomati River) is a 480 km long river that flows in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. It is said that the name Komati is derived from inkomati (in the Siswati language) meaning "cow", as its perennial nature is compared to a cow that always has milk. Given its name and meaning the name Komati is obviously a corruption of the Sanskrit Gomati, the name of a river with the same meaning - 'plentiful in cow and therefore milk'. Gomati is the name of a river in India. Other rivers in Swaziland with Sanskritic names is the Lomati also called Miumati.

The Siswati language is the native language of Swaziland, it also goes by the name Swati. The Anglicised name of Swati is Swazi. It is from Swazi that Swaziland gets its name. The meaning of Swati and Swazi is otherwise unknown in the native languages though Swati is a Sanskrit word and is the name of a nakshatra (star constellation). In his book, 
'Fortunes of Africa: A 5,000 Year History of Wealth, Greed and Endeavour', Martin Meredith states that Swaziland is named after the son of a Dlamini chief named Sobhuzha (1899-1982) who had retreated from the Pongola River and formed a new kingdom incorporating the Soho and Nguni tribes. His son's name was Mswati - who himself was named after the name of the language. There are traces of Sanskrit in the Swati language, for example 'mother' translates as 'ngenina' equivalent of Sanskrit 'janani' (जननी) also meaning 'mother'.


In his book, 'Indo-Africa: Towards a New Understanding of the History of sub-Saharan Africa', anthropologist, Hindu-expert and linguist, Dr. Cyril Hromnik, postulates that Dravidian traders and seafarers from the Gomti river in India in their quest for gold, travelled to South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique along with their Indonesian slaves during the first millennium AD. In time the sea-faring traders came to be known as the Komates - a distortion of their original home 'Gomati'. In his researches Dr. Hromnik has deeply examined the background of the Komates gold miners of Eastern Transvaal and Swaziland by making systematic use of oral tradition and the early Indian scriptures, Jataka stories, and Tamil literature. He has linked the roots of the Komates to the early Dravidian seafarers who's navigation skills took them to distant lands in their quest for gold.

The Komates settlements came up in Eastern Transvaal, Mozambique and Swaziland, where they settled around a naturally radioactive spring known to have healing powers - the town was known as Mpumalanga. Mpumalanga is strewn with the ruins of ancient temples among other stone structures which have been found to be aligned with star constellations, solstices and equinoxes.





Dr. Hromnik contends that it was the sea-faring Dravadians who erected these temples, stone-circle dwellings and astronomical observatories on mountain tops and built stonewalled cities from which they hunted, mined and traded throughout Southern Africa. He says that the Komates cohabited with the local people 
creating the Quena - or Hottentot - race. He also states that the genetic traces of the Komates are to be found in much of the contemporary South African population.