Monday, 24 February 2014

'JESUS', HIS NAME - THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION

The unknown years of Jesus, sometimes referred to as his silent years, lost years, or missing years generally refers to the period between Jesus's childhood and the beginning of his ministry, a period not described in the New Testament. Much has been written about Jesus having spent the missing years in India.

The idea of Indian influences on Jesus has also been suggested in Louis Jacolliot's French book 'La Bible dans l'Inde, Vie de Iezeus Christna' (1869) (The Bible in India, or the Life of Jezeus Christna). His view was that it could not have been a coincidence that the two stories (that of Sri Krishna and Jesus Christ) have so many similarities in many of the finer details. He concluded that the account in the gospels is a myth based on the mythology of ancient India. Jacolliot presented the view that Jesus's disciples gave him the name 'Jezeus' or 'Lezeus' a name meaning 'pure essence' in Sanskri
t. The last name 'Christ' is said to be derived from 'Krishna' (कृष्ण).

However, according to Max Müller, 'Jezeus' is not a Sanskrit term at all and the the argument might have been 'simply invented by Jacoillot', as stated in his Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute Volume 21 (1888), page 179. 


Yet, it is fairly easy to trace the Sanskrit origins of the the word 'Jezeus'. Pure essence is either 'yagyasara' or 'yagyarasa'. The prefix is 'yagya'. The Sanskrit root word 'yagya' (यज्ञ) means 'sacrifice', 'prayer' or 'devotion'. Words derived from this root word include 'yAjin' (याजिन्) 'sacrificer' or 'worshipper', 'yagyin' (यज्ञिन्) abounding in 'sacrifices', 'yagyni' (यज्ञनी) conducting 'sacrifices'; and 'yagyiy' (यज्ञिय) 'divine', 'pious', 'sacred' or 'God'.

Now the Sanskrit sound 'y' distorts into 'j' in Sanskrit derived languages. For example 'Yadhu' the tribe to which Sri Krishna belonged is also known as 'Jadhu'. It is also called 'Yadhav' which distorts to 'Jadhav'. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, also for example talks about the Jajmani System, where the Sanskrit 'yajamana' (यजमान), 'sacrificial patron who employs priests for a ritual' distorts into 'Jajmani' from what should in its pure form be 'Yajmani'.

In the name 'Jezeus' the same principle applies and hence can easily be a derived form or distorted form of the Sanskrit title 'Yagyin' meaning 'one who abounds in sacrifices'. The first 'Y' in the name turns into 'J'. Jesus is known as 'Yeshu' or 'Yesu' and even 'Geejus' in India. 


In fact, in Arabic too there is no real consensus on the meaning of the word 'Haji', and 'Haji' and may well also be derived from the Sanskrit 'yaji' (यजि) meaning 'worshipping' or 'yajin' (याजिन्) meaning 'worshipper' or 'sacrificer'.

There is one other Sanskrit word that may have resulted into the name 'Jezeus' - the Sanskrit 'yus' (यूष) which means 'broth', 'extract' or 'soup' - hence 'essence', which fits the bill as per Louis Jacolliot's observation.

The above is pure a linguistic derivation. A second interpretation is put forth by  G. Ananda in his book 'Shiva: A Rediscovery of the Holy Spirit' who links the name 'Yeshua' to the Hebrew term 'Yeshiva' which means 'sitting' and refers to a sitting for the study of religious texts. He states that a Hebrew variation of the name Jesus is Yah-Shva which is the same as 'Lord Shiva'.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

TEMPLE OF PETRA, JORDON - THE SRI RAMA, SRI KRISHNA AND LORD SHIVA CONNECTION

Philip C.Hammond, professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, is director of the American Expedition to Petra and has been researching Petra for the last 35 years. In his research he has made an attempt to dispel the myths and legends surrounding the Temple of Petra, and also a host of names that have come to be associated to the site over time (such as 'Wadi Musa' - or the 'Valley of Moses' which have no bearing on the history of this site. The myth about Moses arose because the entrance to the temple-facade called the Shiq or Sic, which is a great cleft in the earth and was once filled with water, and was the cause for the belief that it was here that Moses struck the rock to secure water for his wandering people after the flight from Egypt). Interestingly,in Sanskrit 'Sic' (सिच्) means 'to irrigate, sprinkle or pour'.

The Nabateans were highly skilled and it was the ability of the Nabataeans to control the water supply that led to the rise of the city of Petra, creating an artificial oasis in the desert. Nabataeans were able to harness the rainfall and the desert springs through an intricate system of cisterns, pools and waterways that captured and transported water to the city. Where might the Nabateans have acquired such skills?

One of the known ancient trade routes between India and the West passed through the Nabtean town of Petra. The Nabtean territory included parts of present day Jordon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel. There are other known Nabtean sites apart from Petra, for example there are the ancient cities of Bosra (Syria), Shivta, Mamshit, Avdat and Haluza (also called Halasa) in Israel, and Hegra in Saudi Arabia.

Not much is known about the Nabateans. Their language is extinct and said to be 'like Aramiac strongly influenced by Arabic'. Not much light has been shed on what the meaning of the word 'Naba' or 'Nabha' might be in either of these languages. It is recorded that the


Nabataeans were a Semitic people known at least as early as 312 B.C., inhabiting the region between the Dead Sea and the eastern arm of the Red Sea. There is a passage in the Old Testament which mentions Nebajoth (first-born of Ishmael who was the son of Abraham and Sara - Bramha and Sarasvati in the Vedic tradition) and the Nebateans are sometimes traced to Nebajoth while another passage mentions the second son of Ishmael  by the name Kedar and his descendants called the Kederites are sometimes regarded as Nabateans themselves or those who assimilated with the Nebateans. However neither Nabajoth nor Kedar is said to have any meaning in the known languages of those times including Aramiac. In Sanskrit Nebajoth can be traced to 'Navajyot' (नवज्योत) or 'new light' and 'Kedar' (केदार), of course was the name of Lord Shiva himself. Scroll down to see the relics of the Temple of Petra.


Another class of passages are from the cuneiform inscriptions. Under the form Na-ba-ai-te is mentioned a pastoral people, associated with Kedar again, on a cylinder inscription of Asshurbanipal. The inscription describes them as living in a remote region. The name Asshurbanipal has been often decoded as Asura (असुर) Bhumipal (भूमिपाल) - meaning 'Asura King' in Sanskrit. 


The ancient Indian scriptures and Sanskrit sheds some light on the names of Nabatean Gods and Goddesses. First, the word 'nabha' itself may be traced to the Sanskrit 'nabha' (नभ) meaning 'sky' or 'atmosphere'; 'nAbha' (नाभ) means 'central point' or 'navel'. The name 'Nabha' appears in the names of the descendants of Sri Rama, the Indian God-king, a descendant of the ancient Ikshvaku dynasty. About five generations down the line of Kusha (the son of Sri Rama) we see kings with the names Nabha, Vajranabha and Hirnyanabha.


The genealogy of three of Manu's sons, that is, Ikshvaku (who's descendants came to be known as 'Suryavanshi' - Solar Dynasty), Vena and Saryati, and his one daughter, Ila (her dynasty came to be known as 'Chandravanshi'- Lunar Dynasty), is extensively described in the Vedic scriptures and epics. Not much is known about two other sons of whom we find that one is named 'Nabhaga' and another 'Nabha-Garista'. The epics say that the two were knowledgeable ascetics,  and either one or both were deprived of their parental wealth; however where they went and how they lived their lives is not discussed in detail. 

Professor C. Hammond has pointed out that one of the known facts about the Nabateans is that they appeared mysteriously in the Nabha region  (Israel, Syria, Saudi Arabia), that they were highly skilled at water management (click here to read how their several thousand year old techniques are now being applied in the desert of Israel). Where the Nabateans acquired their knowledge is not known. Whether Nabhaga's and Nabha-garista's descendants wandered west, and then settled at Petra can only be conjectured but there seems to be a connection to the Indian culture.

It is known that the Nabatean temples were constructed as an ode to their deities - the chief male deity being 'Dushares' and the female deity 'Al-Uzza'. In the Mahabharata, Sri Krishna is constantly referred to 'that of the Dasarha race'. In fact 'Dasarha' (दशार्ह)is another name of Sri Krishna who was a descendant of the Yadu tribe. The Yadus were the descendants of Manu's daughter Ila, mentioned above. Whether the Nabatean Temple to Dushares has anything to do with Sri Krishna again is not known but the name of the temple is a close cognate of his other name, 'Dasarha'.

Al-Uzza was the goddess of the morning and evening star and is regarded as the counterpart of the Indo-European goddess of dawn, Ostara, and the Vedic ‘Usha’ and since all Vedic names have a meaning, so does 'usha' (उषा) - and it means 'dawn' and 'night' both.


Temple of Dushares, Petra
Right in front is an alter to make offerings

An idol in the Padmasana posture
at the Temple at Petra

Other Shivalinga like structures
at Petra, Jordon


The Temple of Dushares
at  Petra. The 'yoni'**. This photo

of Petra is rarely publicized


An entrance to Petra
Notice the 'Ajanta-Caves of India-like
facade'* cut into the rock

The North-East entrance to Petra in Jordon
is through a cleft between a mountain which
 was filled with water in ancient times
known as the 'Sic' or 'Sich'.

The cleft called the 'Sic' at Petra was filled with
water once. In Sanskrit 'sic (सिच्) means 'to
pour, irrigate or sprinkle'. A water-
channel is a must at a Shiva temple


An 'Elephant Column'** at Petra Temple site. 
Reminiscent of Elephant columns
at Vedic-Hindu Temples

Some have also associated the name Dusares with the name 'Dasharatha', the name of Sri Rama's father. The names of Rama and Kusha also appear in the Bible - though the history, the events and the chronology of events does not match or is distorted. 

Here is a quote on the names Raamah and Rama from Wikipedia:

 "Raamah or Rama is a name found in the Bible (Hebrew: רעמה, Ra‛mâh), it means "lofty, exalted, it may also mean "thunder". The name is first mentioned as the fourth son of Cush, who is the son of Ham, who is the son of Noah in Gen. 10:7, and later appears as a country that traded with the Phoenician city-state of Tyre, in Ezek. 27:22. 

"It has been connected with Rhammanitae mentioned by Strabo in the southwest Arabian peninsula, and with an Arabian city of Regmah at the head of the Persian Gulf. He is the brother of Nimrod, who founded several cities in Mesopotamia, including Babylon and Nineveh. We know from the inscriptions of ancient Sheba that Raamah's descendants settled near to the land of Havilah to the east of Ophir. 

This country of Raamah is usually assumed to be somewhere in the region of Yemen; Sheba was a son of Raamah, and his descendants are often held to be included among the Sabeans. The Yemenites are dark-skinned as are the descendants of their progenitor's eponymous grandfather, Kush or Cush, commonly translated in the Bible as Ethiopia, meaning dark. Dedan, son of Raamah. Apparently a region of the Medina Province of Saudi Arabia."

There are many towns in ancient Nabatea, (now Israel) with the names Ramah. Click here to read the details. 


Following are some other ancient Nabtean temples and sites in Israel, Syria, Jordon and Saudi Arabia. Check out the names:

The Nabatean Temple at Shivta
in Israel


The Ramon Crater
Israel

Lake Ram, Syria
Mt. Ram, Jordon, also written as Rum,
pronounced Ramm

It is quite evident that the name 'Rama' was well known in the Nabtean region, and recognized enough for the Nabteans to name their temples, towns, lakes and mountains after 'Rama'.

Click here to check out the plan of the Temple of Petra. Maybe the plan will shed some more light on who the Nabateans really were. For a discussion on the Sanskrit connection to the word Petra click here.


*
Entrance to the Ajanta Caves in India
A rock-cut ancient temple in India

**
A shivalinga at a temple in India


***
Elephant pillar in temples of India


Elephants are carved on foundation walls
and pillars in Indian temples

Suggested Links:

1. Temple of Petra - Jordon: Myth and Reality
2. Ikshvaku Dynasty
3. History of Ancient India by J.P.Mittal
4. Asiatic Researches, Or Transactions of the Society instituted in Bengal, for Inquiring into the History and Antiquities, the Arts, Sciences and Literature of Asia
5. Is Petra a Hindu Temple-complex?

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

ANCIENT INDIANS AND SANSKRIT - IN GREECE

Isn't it curious that the etymology of so many words in various European languages is traced to Greek, yet we find that these words have no meaning in Greek itself.

If one were to look at the names of the Vedic Gods, like Shiva, Indra, Rama, Krishna, Bramha etc. - these may be names of Gods, but these are also Sanskrit words. For example, 'shiva' (शिव) means 'gracious', 'indra' (इन्द्र) means 'excellent', 'rama' (राम) means 'pleasant' or 'pleasing', krishna' (कृष्ण) means 'black' or 'dark', 'brahma' 
(ब्रह्म) means 'divine' or 'holy'. Mountains and river names have meanings - 'Himalaya' - 'hima alaya' (हिम आलय) means 'abode of snow', River Ganga - ganga (गंग) means 'fast flowing', 'Yamuna', yamuna (यमुन) means 'twin born' and so on.....

Then there are the cities of Mahabharata, for example, the five villages that the Pandavas demanded from the Kurus in lieu of Hastinapur. Their current and ancient names are easily identifiable:
1. Swarna-prastha ( स्वर्णप्रस्थ) or 'the city of gold' (Sonipat, Haryana)
2. Pandu-prastha ( पाण्डुप्रस्थ) or 'the city of Pandu' (Panipat, Haryana)
3. Indra-prastha (इंद्रप्रस्थ) 'the city of Indra' or 'excellent city'. Delhi)
4. Vyagra-prastha (व्याघ्रप्रस्थ), or 'the city of tigers' (Baghpat, Haryana)
5. Tila-prastha (तिलप्रस्थ) Tilapat, 'the city of seasame', (Tilapat in Haryana)


Says Edward Pococke in his book 'India in Greece' (1852) - "Let it be granted that the names given to mountains, rivers and towns have some meaning. Let it be granted that the language of the native name-givers will explain the meaning. Greeks dwelt in a land called Greece, - their language should explain the names of its mountains and rivers."

Why then is it that Greek is unable to do so? Edward Pococke takes a look at the map of Greece and the names that appear on it. - "As a Greek, let me translate Stympha, - I cannot, Dodona - I cannot, Cambunnei Montes - I cannot, Hellopes - I cannot, Aithices - I cannot, Bodon - I cannot, Chonia - I cannot, Crossaea - I cannot, Corinthes, Ossa, Acaranania - I cannot. Arcadia, Achai, Boeotia, Ellis, Larissa - I cannot... What then can I do?"

Pococke goes on to decipher many of these Greek city names with the help of Sanskrit and the names of the ancient tribes of India recorded in the Mahabharata and the ancient annals of India - who during India's long history emigrated westwards and left their trail, in the names of rivers, towns, monuments, right up to Greece and Rome. Pococke's explanations have not been accepted by many, but there is some truth to it - because an entity no less than the Vatican has since the 1850s suppressed Pococke's other work 'India in Rome'. Its only known copy is said to be available with the Vatican Library.

Here is a map of Greece and Macedonia:

Most of the places on the map of Greece have no meaning in Greek,
but Sanskrit reveals their meaning and their history.

Pococke traces the name Mt. de Pinde to the Pandu tribe of Mahabharata, the name deriving from the Sanskrit  word 'pandu' (पाण्डु) meaning 'pale' or 'fair'.  He traces the name Argolis in Greece to 'Agrevana (अग्रेवण), the ancient name of Agra mentioned in the Mahabharata and meaning 'on the edge of the forest'. The Greek city of 'Attica' gets its name from ancient Attac (now Attock), the birth place of the Sanskrit Grammarian Panini in 520 BC. Attac was located just off the intersection of Kabul River and the Indus on the ancient 'Uttarapatha' (उत्तरपथ) or 'North Road' - the high road of commerce in ancient India. A Buddhist edict at Attac from the times of Emperor Ashoka (300 BC), declared that Greek populations in Ashoka's realm had converted to Buddhism and carried the name 'Attac' back to Greece with them, hence the city of 'Attica' in Greece. 'Attac' (in India) got its name from the Sanskrit 'a+taku' (अ + तकु) meaning 'slow movement' in reference to the slow passage that was characteristic of crossing the lethal area around Attac.

Then there are other Greek place names such as Trikala, Patras, Xanthi that are plain Sanskrit. 'Trikala' (त्रिकाल) which is the triad of time - 'past , present, future'; 'Xanthi' (शान्ति) is 'peace', 'Patras' may be derived from the Greek 'Pietra' which is the same as the Sanskrit 'prastar' (प्रस्तर) meaning 'stone'. [The Ajanta-cave like Temple of El-Diar (Sanskrit 'devalaya'), carved in a stone-mountain known as 'Pietra' in Jordon maybe the source of the Greek city name of 'Patras'.]

Whether or not one agrees with Pococke's view, the fact remains that Sanskrit and Indian epics do a much better job of explaining the meaning of these Greek names.

The etymology of the names of Greek Gods and Goddesses has never been established. 
1. About the etymology of the Greek Goddess 'Aphrodite', wikipedia says, "Aphrodite, perhaps altered from aphrós 'foam', stems from the more archaic Cretan Aphordíta and Cypriot Aphorodíta, and was probably ultimately borrowed from Cypriot Phoenician.

2. About the etymology of the name Athena, etymonline.com says, "Greek goddess of wisdom, skill in the arts, warfare, etc., from Latin Athena, from Greek Athene, perhaps from a name in a lost pre-Hellenic language". 

3. About Hephaestus, Greek god of fire and metal-working, western sources say that his name originates from a pre-Hellenic word of unknown origin. 

Edward Pococke, author 'India in Greece' says that this Pre-Hellenic language that the western sources keep referring to was Sanskrit. The language was carried by the ancient tribes of India westward! In fact he says the autonym of Greece, that is 'Hellas' originates from the Sanskrit 'heli' (हेलि) which means 'sun'. He also details the 'sun-tribes' or the 'surya-vanshi' (सूर्यवंशी) of India that travelled westwards.

And what do western sources say of the word 'Hellas' or 'Hellanic'? -

www.etymonline.com only says that Hellenic pertains to a 'Hellen' or a 'Greek',  of unknown origin. Earliest surviving use of the name 'hellenic' is by Homer in reference to a Thessalian tribe."

Pococke traces the Thessalian tribes that Homer mentioned to the Himalayas of India, and says, "The great Thessalian sierras of Mount Othrys are the Odry's of India. 'Odry' is the Sanscrit name of Himalaya... The name of 'Othry's' will be found much better in the original form in.... a range of heights called 'Adri-un-Mons'."  In his view the name 'Himalaya' (हिमालय) appears as 'Thessaly'
and 'Adri' (अद्रि) as 'Othry', in Greece.


In the meantime, Greek sources are unable to track the source of the name 'Olympus', the highest mountain in Greece. The etymological website etymonline.com says, 'Olympus is a high mountain in Thessaly, abode of the gods, from Greek Olympos, of unknown origin!'

Isn't it strange that Western scholars who propounded the incorrect theory of Aryan invasion and said that Sanskrit originated outside of India, in other words came to India from the West, refuse to look at the names of their own ancient towns, cities and mountains with the aid of Sanskrit.

Friday, 7 February 2014

KUTUB MINAR - ITS NAME - THE SANSKRIT CONNECT

Headnote: The rotation axis or the spine of the earth is known as 'meru' (मेरु) in Sanskrit, just as our spinal-nerve is known as meru-cheta (मेरु-चेता). The eighth muhurut of the day, when the sun is right on our heads is known by many names including Abhijit Muhurat, Chaturtha Lagna, Kutub Muhurat, Kutupa Mahurat and Swami Tithiyansha Muhurat. And here-in lies the explanation to the name of the column-observatory known as Kutub-Minar.

In the year 1977, Professor M.S. Bhatnagar flew over the top of Kutub Minar in a helicopter to get a close glimpse of the tower from the skies. A study of the pictures that were taken revealed that the top of the column was shaped like a 24-petaled lotus. He found that like the base of the column, the entire column is shaped like a lotus flower. Each petal represents what is known in Sanskrit as 'hora' (होरा) or an 'hour'
. Around the tower lie the ruins of a 27 temple-complex, each temple dedicated to the 27 nakshatras or constellations. Obviously, the tower is an observatory.

That there are major discrepancies in the popular beliefs regarding the construction of the tower, its origin, its name and so forth is well known. One of the myths is that it was built by the slave dynasty ruler of Delhi, Kutubuddin Aibak - which is absolutely unconvincing especially because the site predates the birth of Kutubuddin Aibak by many centuries !!

In his analysis of the history of Kutub, historian P.N.Oak quotes Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (the founder of Aligarh Muslim University) who had in his own research come to the conclusion that the Kutub tower was a Hindu building. There are many who are skeptical about what Prof P.N.Oak has written, but here are the actual passages from Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan's Urdu Text 'Asar-ul-Sanadid' translated into English by Fatima Quraishi who works as Assistant Curator at the Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi.

Sir Sayyid Khan writes, "The Kutub cannot be a minaret because the column’s door is north-facing similar to Hindu temples, while the doors of minarets are always east facing.... The structure’s first level also shows evidence of stones being placed at a later stage and there is evidence of the bell-and-chain motif of Hindu temples on the first floor. Additionally, the inscription on this pillar is similar to that of Qutbuddin Aibak and Muʿizzuddin’s conquest on the converted temple-mosque."


The text also states," ...there is nothing odd in the fact that epitaphs have been inscribed where idols once were.....when the Muslims conquered the temple, they added their own epigraphs upon the building'.


About the Islamic inscriptions Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan says, "..... Often, the shape of letters has been made out, but close inspection reveals that they are incorrect, in some cases just imitations of alphabets, and in other cases words which have little to do with the subject of the inscription. Until today, the inscriptions of this monument had not been read. I have read all of them with the aid of a telescope".

But even more glaring is what Professor P.N.Oak points out and states hence, "The frieze patterns on the tower show signs of tampering, ending abruptly, or in a medley of in-congruent lines. The Arabic lettering is interspersed with Hindu motifs like lotus buds....".

Here is a Hindu 'Bell and Chain' Motif inscribed on the walls of the Kutub Minar that Sir Syyed Ahmed Khan had written about:



Notice the 'Hindu 'Bell and Chain Motif on the
Kutub Wall that Sir Syed Ahmed Khan wrote
about in his book 'Great Monuments'


The Bell and Chain Design
on the Temples Columns of Kutub Complex

The Bell and Chain Motif on Kutub Temple Walls

The Bell and Chain Motif on the ruins of ancient temples of Kutub

The same 'Bell and Chain' motifs that are seen
on the ancient temples of the complex are seen
on the walls of the Kutub Tower.

Scholars who have read the Surya-Siddhanta have the explanation to the concept behind the construction of this column-shaped-observatory. Kutub-minar is model of Sumeru. The semi-vertical angle of the column is equal to difference between true and mean latitude of the point at which the column stands. According to Surya-Siddhanta a pillar divided into 12-units, known as the 12-angula Shiva Linga or the Shankhu, can be used to measure the latitude and the time at any point on the surface of the earth. The smallest shadow of the Shankhu or the column will obviously occur at the time when the sun is directly over the tip of the column. The shape of the shadow will be like a funnel or like the 'kutupa' as a funnel is known in Sanskrit. The time or the muhurut at that instance is known as the kutupa or the kutuba mahurat. Hence the name.

Minar is a later distortion of the word 'mana' (मान) or measure to equate it with 'tower' - though originally the kutupa-mana was named Vishnu-dwaja or Vishnu-Stambh meaning Vishnu's tower. This named is inscribed in Sanskrit in the Bramhi script on the non-rusting pillar in the temple Complex of Kutupa-Mana. It names the hillock Vishnupad Giri.

The name Mehrauli, the location of the tower, is said to be a distortion of the Sanskrit Mihiravali - named after astronomer Varahamihira who is regarded as the architect of the ancient Kutub. Unlike the word 'Mehrauli' which has no meaning in any language, Mihiravali is a compound Sanskrit word, 'mihira' (मिहिर) means 'sun' and 'avali' (आवलि) means a 'row', 'a line', or 'lineage'. Mihiravali is known to have been astronomer Varahamihira's residence. Varahamihira is one of the most prominent known Vedic astronomers and pre-dates Aryabhatta by a few centuries.


A diagram made from the picture takenby Prof. M.S. Bhatnagar 
flying over the Kutub Minar in 1977, reveals
the 24-Petal Lotus shape of the Tower.

To read more about it, click here. 

Monday, 3 February 2014

'GAYA' - ON THE RIVER NIGER! AND LAKE 'CHAD' - THROUGH THE SANSKRIT LENS !!

The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about 4,180 km. It originates near the Tembakounda city of Senegal. In Sanskrit 'kund' (कुण्ड) means a 'pool', and 'kunda' means a hill in the Dravadian idiom. Also in Sanskrit 'kAanda' (काण्ड) means a 'heap'. 'Khanda' (खंड) is 'piece' or 'section'. 

In his book, 'Oriental Fragments', author Edward Moore lists many names of African towns and villages which include Janakakonda, Tendikonda, Kootakunda, Barraconda, Seesekund, Tandacunda, Fatteconda and Mauraconda. Moore does a detailed analysis of these names and concludes, "I am deposed to refer them all to the Sanskrit kund or kunda."

Then there is the name of the River Niger itself. Roman historian, Suetonius (69-122 AD) wrote that the word 'gher' in 'Niger'originates from the Berber language, spoken in Morocco & Algeria and means 'watercourse'. However, the Sanskrit 'jhar' (झर) for 'waterfall' or 'water-body' explains the name better considering that there are towns by the names 'Ganga', 'Yamina' and 'Kamala' on its bank. Then the Niger also has two towns by the name of Gaya on its banks - one in Nigeria and the other in Niger. 


Attached to the Gaya town of Niger is the local legend of someone called 'Bayajidda'. Bayajidda is a character from the traditional history of the Hausa people of Niger and Nigeria and the central figure of the Bayajidda Legend. The various versions of the legend differ on major points, but generally agree that early immigrants came to the western region of Lake Chad somewhere from the East. It is believed that Bayajidda is a personification of a group of immigrant people from a more or less distant region, rather than the name of one individual.


The story goes that in his travel across Africa Bayajidda reached the town of Gaya (on the River Niger) where a blacksmith made a knife for him. Bayajidda then goes to a town by the name of Daura where a serpent guarded a well and only allowed the village people to draw water from the well once a week. However, to help out the people Bayajida kills the serpent and helps the people to have a free access to water.  In the local Hausa language the word for serpent is 'naja' - obviously a derivation from the Sanskrit 'naga' (नाग). 

And the prefix Baya in the name Bayajidda maybe a distortion of Gaya. The suffix jidda may be a distortion of any number of Sanskrit words such as 'jina' (जिन) which means 'victor', it is also one of the names of Lord 'Vishnu'.

As far as lake Chad is concerned, some 70
00 years ago it was one of the largest lakes in Africa and is estimated to have covered an area of 400,000 square kilometres. Its name in the local language means a large expanse of water or a 'lake'. 


Lake Chad is fed by a river by the name of 'Chari', also called "Shari'. 'Shari' or its Sanskrit cognate 'Sari' (सरि) means a 'cascade' or 'waterfall' or a 'river' in Sanskrit. This also brings us back to the Sanskrit 'jhara' (झर) which as mentioned above means a 'water-body' and is a component in the name 'Niger'!

Mungo Park (1771 – 1806), a Scottish explorer of the African continent, was the first Westerner known to have traveled to the central portion of the Niger River. The central portion of the River Niger is where the path of the Niger takes the shape of the crescent. In his travelogue Mungo Park mentions the route that he had taken on one of his trips on the River Niger. The route that he took went hence - Downie - Jinbala - Kamala - Ganga - Yamina- Calimana. Notice the three highlighted names. If these were names of Indian towns, these names would have been expected. But these are names of African towns on the River Niger. To cross check these details turn to page 378 of Edward Moore's 'Oriental Fragments'. To read Edward Moore's analysis of these names click here.

The River Niger which originates in the Guinea Highlands in Southern Guinea runs in a crescent like Lord Shiva's top knot, through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria, discharging through the Niger Delta.



The Crescent shaped bend on the River Niger

As it flows through Mali, near the island of Madjie, the Niger branches into three streams, forming a sort of a 'Triveni'.


The encircled part where the River's Moussa and River Niger.
meets and form a 'Triveni'. In the middle of this intersection is
a small island and the location of the revered Mt. Kesa.


Mt. Kesa on the island where the River Niger meets River Moussa,
'Kesa' is the name of Vishnu and Krishna both. 
Lord Shiva is also known as 'Vyoma-Kesha'.
The local inhabitants worshipped this 300 ft. stone.
For a note on the Sanskrit connection to the name Niger click here.

Suggested Links:
1. The story of the Niger
2. Celebrated Travels and Travellers, by Jules Verne
3. Mt. Kesha
4. Journal of an Expedition to Explore the course and the termination of the Niger by Richard. Lander and John Lander
5. Encyclopedia Dictionary of Puranas
6. The Hindu Pantheon by Edward Moor