Friday, 30 November 2012


The River Volga! Russians call it 'Volga Matushka' (Mother Volga). It is said that the name probably derives from Proto Slavic*  'vòlga' which means 'wetness' or 'moisture'.

Here's a look at the Sanskrit connection. A word that corresponds to Volga and its meaning 'moisture', and is at the same time a cognate of 'Volga' is the Sanskrit word 'Vigala' (विगल्), which means 'flow' or 'ooze away' and 'drain-off'. A derivative of 'vigal', is 'vigalita' (विगलित) which has the same meaning. 'Volga' may just be a distortion of the word 'Vigal' or 'Vigalita'.

In Sanskrit the sound 'vi' (वि) means 'apart' or 'away'; and 'vI' (वी) (with emphasis on 'i') means 'set in motion'. 'Gala' (गल) means 'oozing'. 'GAla' (with emphasis on 'a') (गाल), means 'liquefying' and also 'flowing'.

Hindi speakers are familiar with the word 'pigala' (पिघल) which means 'melt away' or 'ooze'. This Hindi word has the same Sanskrit origin.

The etymology of Volga as proposed by Russian historian and Linguist Nikolai Trubetzkoy (1890-1938), in his lectures at the University of Vienna,  links the name 'Volga' to the Slavic 'Julga', which he says in course of time changed to 'Volga'. 

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 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"

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 was 'Julga' rather than 'jilga' if one were to loke 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' in Sanskrit means 'moving water'. The name 'Jilga' however cannot be explained through Sanskrit.

Also 'Julga' is very close to the name 'Ganga' - the
 Sanskrit name of the great Indian river - the Ganges. Incidentally the name Ganga (गङ्गा) means 'swift goer' or 'fast moving'. Indians call it 'Ganga Ma' - 'Mother Ganga' just as the Russians call Volga 'Volga Matushka'.

"I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges". - Francois Voltaire

Rivers 'Kama' and 'Vyataka' flow into the River Volga.
In Sanskrit the verb 'vyati' means both to  'flow on' and 'vanish'.
'Kama' means 'desire' and is also the name of Lord Vishnu.

The Volga flows into the Caspian Sea. The name Caspian is said to be derived from the ancient Vedic name of the Caspian, which was 'Kashyapa', named after the sage 'Kashyapa' who in the Vedic tradition is the father of all 'devas', 'asuras', 'nagas' and of all humanity.

*All languages names which are preceded by the name 'Proto' are languages constructed from groups of existing languages that, it is believed, might have had a common ancestor - it is at best only a conjecture).So Proto-Slavic is an engineered language which it is believed will be similar to the 'mother' of all Slavic languages - if the Slavic languages indeed originated from one single source.

**From the writings of Lithuanian American Archaeologist  Marija Gimbutas about the 'Balts'.
Suggested Links:
1. The Balts

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


The etymology of the word heaven is traced to Old English 'heofon' which meant 'Home of God'. Though the earlier meaning of 'heofon' was said to be 'sky', in the later days of Old English 'hefon' was used more in the sense of 'Home of God'. 

The origin of 'heofon' itself is not clear, though suggested roots include Proto Germanic 'himin' which itself is said to have originated from the PIE word 'kem' which meant 'cover'.

A more likely source of the word 'heofon' is its Sanskrit cognate 'vyoman' (व्योमन् ). 'Vyoman' has many meanings, which include sky, space, preservation, wind or air, ether and heaven. In the Rig Vedic texts 'Vyoman' is used more in the sense of 'that which is celestial', than in the context of 'heaven' for which a more appropriate translation is 'swarga'.

The Sanskrit 'Vyoman' is derived from the root word 'av' 
(अव्) which means 'to protect', the prefix 'vi' (वि) indicates vastness, and the suffix 'manin' denotes 'making room or space'. The literal meaning of the word 'Vyoman' therfore is 'that which protects by providing space'.

Calvert Watkins, Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University is of the opinion that 'heaven' from the PIE 'akman' which means 'stone' or 'sharp stone' therefore taking 'heaven' to mean the 'stony vault of heaven' but that sounds a little forced.

Suggested Links:
1. The Secret of the Vedas
2. Akasha, Kha and Vyoman
3. Kalatattvakosa

Saturday, 24 November 2012


The origin of the English word 'God' is traced to Old Frisian 'du', where it found its way from the Proto Germanic 'guthan'. Both 'du' and 'guthan' mean 'God'.

'Guthan' and its many variations in European languages, are said to have originated from the Sanskrit 'huta' (
हुत), which means 'that which is invoked'. Most Hindi speakers are familiar with the word 'ahuti' (आहुति) which means 'invoking' or 'offering' both in Sanskrit and in Hindi, and, are derived from the root word 'huta' (हुत). 

In the Vedic tradition 'huta' refers to Lord Indra as in the following verse from the Sanskrit Sri Vishnu Sahsranama, a Strotram (hymn) from the Mahabharata:

"Om ananta-huta-bhug-bhoktre-namah". Listen to the verse (with translation) here.

Monday, 19 November 2012


The origin of the English word 'die' has been traced to the Old Danish 'doja' and Old Norwegian 'deyja' - both meaning 'to die, pass away'. The origins of 'Deyja' and 'Doja' are in turn traced to the 'Proto Germanic' (a hypothetical language which is regarded as an ancestor of all European languages) 'dawjanan' which, it is said, means 'to kill'.

'Dawjanan' is traced to yet another hypothetical language PIE (Proto Indo European) - the concerned PIE word here being 'dheu', which means 'to pass away' or 'become senseless'.

This is a little contrived. A more likely explanation comes to fore if one traces the source of 'die' to Sanskrit. 

In Sanskrit the word 'deh' (देह) means 'body'. The Proto Germanic 'dawjanan' which means 'to kill', may really be a distortion of the Sanskrit 'deh hanan' (देह हनन) which in literal Sanskrit means 'body kill'. 'Hanan' (हनन) is Sanskrit for murder.

The old Norwegian 'deyja' which again means death might be a distortion of the Sanskrit 'dehant' (देहान्त). In literal Sanskrit, 'dehant' means 'end of the body' - deha (देह) meaning body and 'anta' (अन्त) end.

To describe death as 'the end of the body' is also a Vedic concept, where death is regarded as the end of the body alone while consciousness or the spiritual self lives on.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


The most ancient Indian astrology treatise is the 'Brihat Parashar Hora Shastra', (बृहत् पराशर होरा शास्त्र). It was written by Rishi Parashara, the father of Rishi Vyasa. The 'Brihat Parashar Hora Shastra' is the treatise on which the entire Vedic astrology system is based.

'Brihat' (
बृहत्) translates as 'great'. 'Hora' (होरा)  is the Sanskrit term for 'hour', 'horoscope' and 'half of a zodiacal sign' which equals 15 degrees. It is from the Sanskrit 'hora' (होरा) that the English word 'hour' is derived.

Western dictionaries claim that 'hour' originates from the Greek 'hora' which means 'limited time' which itself, is said, originates from the Proto-Indo-European root word 'yer'.

Rishi Parashara was the grandfather of Dhritrarashtra and Pandu, and hence the great grandfather of the Kauravas and the Pandavas of the Mahabharata. He was the grandson of the Rig Vedic Rishi Vashist, whose existence has now been dated to at least 3700 BC from artifacts found in the Saraswati region.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


In Vedic philosophy the 'Panchatatva (पञ्चतत्त्व) or the represents the five essentials or the five elements from which life evolves, 'pancha' (पञ्च) which means 'five' and 'tatva' (तत्व) from Sanskrit 'truth', 'element' or 'essence'. The five basic elements which comprise the universe are 'Prithvi' (पृथ्वी) that is Sanskrit for 'earth', 'Apas'(आपस्) which is water, 'Tejas'(तेजस्) which means light, Maruta (मरुत) that is wind, and Aakaash (आकाश) that is sky, space and the heavens above. The first four elements are material, the fifth element is cosmic and spiritual and has the highest place in Vedic thought. 

In western philosophy the four known elements were, earth, fire, water and air. The fifth element was added by Aristotle, he called it 'ether'. However, the cosmic & spiritual element which is deeply entwined in the Vedic philosophy never found the same position in western thought.

The word 'quintessence' first occurs in European languages in the 16th century as Latin 'quinta'  i.e "fifth" + essentia that is 'essence'. This is a loan translation of Greek 'pempte ousia'.  
The word 'quintessence' came to mean 'the pure and concentrated essence of a substance."

Click here to listen to the Panchtatva Stuti from the Vedas.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


There are many synonyms for 'daughter' in Sanskrit, which include 'tanujA' (तनुजा) - literal meaning 'born from the body', the 'A' at the end denotes feminine gender), 'nandini' (नन्दिनी)- one who brings joy), and, andangajA (अङ्गजा) which means 'born of a body part'.

The closest Sanskrit cognates to 'daughter' are duhitr' (दुहितृ) and 'duhita' (दुहिता). In Sanskrit, each word is derived from a root word, the root describes a property of the word. The nouns 'duhita' and 'duhitr' are derived from the root verb 'duha' (दुह्) which means 'milking', 'yielding' or 'granting'. And it is to 'duhitr' that the origin of the word 'daughter' is traced to.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


The English word 'son' derives from the Sanskrit 'suna' (सून). English dictionaries are quick to say that the word 'son' derives from 'PIE' 'sunu' .

Lets look at the many other Sanskrit synonyms for the Sanskrit 'suna' (सून) which means 'son'.

The most common word in Sanskrit, as in Hindi, for son is 'putra' (पुत्र). In the Vedic context, the River Brahma-putra (ब्रह्मपुत्र) is revered as the "Son of Brahma".

Then there is 'suta' (सुत). In the Ramayana, Hanuma is referred to as 'Pawansuta' (पवनसुत) - the 'Son of Pavan' or 'Air'. There is no PIE equivalent of 'suta'.

Lord Krishna is Devaki-Nandan. Nandan (नन्दन) means 'son'. Son of Devaki. Nandan also means 'rejoicing', an integral part of Lord Krishna's personality.

Another, word for 'son' is 'tanay' (तनय) . Then there is 'tanuj' (तनुज). 'Tana' (तन) means 'body'. 'Tanay' and 'Tanuj' mean 'that which originates from the body'.

Incidentally TanayA (तनया) and TanujA (तनुजा) both mean 'daughter' in Sanskrit. No PIE equivalents for these either.

But there are other world languages where we see words derived from the Sanskrit 'tana' (तन). In The Native American languages together called Amerind, the word 'tana' means 'son' and 'tuna' means daughter. Scholars there claim that the words 'tana' and 'tuna' (obviously a distortion of 'tanu') are indigenous to the Amerind group of languages.

In their paper "Linguistic Origins of Native American Languages"* in the Scientific American Journal dated November 1992, Joseph H. Greenberg and Merit Ruhlen write about Proto-Amerind and wrongly claim , "...... the root word "tana" (son) and "tuna" (daughter) ...not only ties Amerind (languages) together but also distinguishes Amerind from other language families. It (the root word 'tana' & 'tuna'), as linguists say, is an exclusive innovation of the Amerind language".

Not True! Obviously, these scholars have chosen not to recognize these common Sanskrit words.

It is obvious that PIE is not the source of Sanskrit. In fact, Sanskrit is the source of all languages.

Lets not forget to look at other Sanskrit synonyms for the word 'son'. Here are just a few of them:

'Daraka' (दारक), 'Angaja (अङ्गज), Kleshapah (क्लेशापह), 'Udvaha' (उद्वह), Hrikthad (ऋक्थाद) and Kukshij (कुक्षिज).
No PIE or Amerind claims on these Sanskrit words. At least not yet!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminium and flourine. Roman Scholar, Pliny the Elder, born 23 AD, wrote that the mineral 'topaz' was first mined at Topazos. Topazos is an island located in the Red Sea. As per the writings of Pliny the Elder, the word topaz is derived from the Sanskrit word 'tapas' (तपस्) which means 'fire', 'burn' or 'hot'.

The Masorah (texts that code guidelines to correct interpretation of  Hebrew scriptures, the Protestant Bible translations are based on the Masoretic text), mentions that the gem topaz is made from the 'pitdah' stone. 

'Pitdah' is derived from two Sanskrit words 'pita (पीत) which means 'yellow', and 'dah' (दह्) which means 'to burn'.

In Sanskrit, topaz is known as 'pita' (पीत) or 'pitamani' (पीतमणि).