Friday, 28 November 2014

THE TEMPLE OF GARNI AND A BIT ABOUT ARMENIA - THE VEDIC-SANSKRIT CONNECTION

The oldest surviving building in Armenia is the Temple of Garni represented by Mithira, the Sun God. Mithira is said to have been adapted into the Zoroastrian pantheon from the Rig Vedic deity 'Mitra' who is 'an important divinity of Indic culture, and the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings'. Also the word 'mitra' (मित्र) often translated as 'friend' from Sanskrit, also means 'sun'.

'Mitra' evolved into its Zoroastrian form of 'Mithira' during the Bronze and Iron Ages, and was later carried to Greece by remnants of Alexander the Great's armies in the 3rd-2nd century BC, where it was incorporated into the Greek concept of the 'Helios'- the Sun god. Again 'heli' (हेलि) means 'sun' in Sanskrit.


The Temple of Garni was built in the 2nd century BC over the site of an even more ancient Uratian temple dated to 3rd century BC. Uratian culture is associated with the mysterious phallic stones found all over Armenia and known as the 'Vishapa'. The Vishapa stones are connected with water much like the Vedic Shivalinga.



A Uratian 'Vishapa' is connected with water
much like the Vedic Shivalinga. The Uratian pagan
tradition was gradually rejected by the Zoroastrians.

The closest Sanskrit cognate to the word 'Vishapa' is 'Vrishabha' (वृषभ) which means 'bull' and is sacred to the Hindus. 'Nandi' the 'bull' is the vehicle of Lord Shiva. Near the Temple of Garni an artifact of a hoof of a bull, modeled with white marble, was discovered, which once belonged to a pagan idol at the temple premises destroyed during the adoption of Christianity. The rise of Christianity demolished both Paganism and later Zoroastrianism in Armenia. 

Adds Vinay Vaidya,  " 'Vishapa' is 'Vrishabha' (वृषभ) which means 'bull'. Near the Temple of Garni a hoof of a bull artifact was found. In Sanskrit, 'shapha' (शफmeans 'hoof', 'vishapha' means 'of a big hoof', that becomes 'Bishop' in Chess....". 

Mithira slaying the Bull or 'Vrishbha'.
As Zoroastrianism grew, its Vedic 

antecedents were rejected.
Hence, the slaying of Shiva's bull 'Nandi'.

In the 1st century AD the Temple of Garni was ruined by Roman armies. In 79 AD Garni was reconstructed by Tridat I, who called it the 'inaccessible temple' in his Greek inscription. Tridat, apart from being the Armenian King was also a Zoroastrian priest. His name bears the same meaning in Avestan, the language of the Zoroastrians as it does in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit 'Tridata' (त्रिदाता) is the Vedic trinity of 'Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh'. 'Tri' (त्रि) is 'three' and 'dAtA' (दाता) means 'giver' - and his name meant the Zoroastrian equivalent of 'given by Trinity'. 

Vinay Vaidya sheds light on the name Garni. He says, "Garni could be seen as derived directly from 'GhRNi' (घृणि) meaning the 'Sun', 'Mitra' (as mentioned above) is another evidence. 'Om GhRNi sUryAya namaH' is the Vedika mantra for worshiping the Sun. 'GhUrNa' (घूर्ण) means to revolve, rotate. And this too is about those planets including the Sun and the Moon, which revolve on the celestial circular orbit." The Garni temple collapsed in the 1679 earth-quake and was reconstructed between 1969 and 1974.


The ruined Temple of Garni during early
20th century before it was reconstructed.
Garni Temple was made of basalt, probably transported from the nearby Geghard monastery which itself was partially carved out of a monolithic basalt mountain - much like the cave temples of India. The Geghard monastery is built over the site of a sacred spring arising inside a cave. This too indicates a Vedic and Hindu link. Springs are sacred in India and there are many many ancient temples built around spring areas. Caves too are held sacred and have been the seat of ascetics since antiquity.

The Rig Veda says that all the inhabitants of the earth emerged from the primordial sea and water is regarded as sacred. It says, "The waters that are from the firmament and flow after being dug, and even those that spring by themselves, the bright pure waters which lead to the sea, may those divine waters protect me here."



Geghard Monastery, 10 km away from
Temple of Garni was carved out of a basalt mountain
built on the site of a spring inside a cave
sacred to ancient Armenians.



The Garni structure can be seen as a representation of the cosmos, with nine steps leading to a raised platform representing the 'navagraha' (नवग्रह) or 'nine planets' of Vedic cosmology which include the Sun and Moon; Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn; and the two nodes - Rahu and Ketu. The temple has 24 basalt columns representing the 24 hours of the day. 



The reconstructed sun Temple of Garni.
The temple as it stands today was 
reconstructed between 1969 to1974.


The carving on the frieze of the Garni temple
does not appear on its 24 columns
indicating that the base belongs to a
different time and school of architecture.

Closeness and links to ancient India and Armenia are visible in its many artifacts. Here's one that most of us will immediately recognize. This artifact, titled was found at The Church of St. Paul and St. Peter in Tomarza in central Turkey which was built as late as 1570 - over a far more ancient site.


Artifact from Church of St. Paul and St. Peter of Tomarza dated to 1570, in Turkey (a part of the ancient Armenian Civilization) is titled as the 'hand of God'
it is evident that this is a 'Yogic Hand Mudra',

The 'Prithvi Mudra' in Indian Sculpture


Yogic 'Hand Mudras'.

Suggested Link:
1. Vedic Elements in the Ancient Iranian Religion of Zarathushtra
2. The Temple of Garni
3. Discovering Armenia

Friday, 21 November 2014

COLCHESTER IN ENGLAND, KALMATA IN GREECE, AND CALEDONIA (OR SCOTLAND): THE VEDIC-SANSKRIT CONNECT TO THEIR NAMES

Camulodunum, an ancient site was an important town in Roman Britain. It is claimed to be the oldest town in Britain

Prior to the Roman seize 'Camulodunon' was the site of a Celtic settlement named after the Celtic god Camulus from which the prefix in the name Camulodunon is derived. The suffix 'dunum' means fortification in the ancient Celtic language, similar to the Sanskrit 'durgham' (दुर्गम) meaning 'impassable' or 'inaccessible'. It was argued by scholars such as Edward Moor and Edward Pococke that towns in Europe that have the suffix 'burg' are 'fort towns' - 'burg' a distortion of the Sanskrit 'durg' (दुर्ग) meaning 'fort'.

There is some debate on the location of the ancient site of Camulodunon and it has been mainly traced to two present day towns  - Colchester and Camerton. In the neighbourhood of Colchester which is named after the river Colne that flows nearby, there are some vestiges of Sanskrit legends.


River Blackwater and the town of Maldon lie close to
River Colne-  a name that is linked to Sanskrit 'kala'
meaning 'black'. See map below.

The word 'Cala' or its cognates occur in names of English and Scottish rivers especially if they have something to do with black. Hence a river by the name 'Blackwater' also runs close to Colne. 'Maldon' is a town close to River Blackwater. Edward Moor in his book 'Oriental Fragments' identifies 'Maldon' as the Sanskrit compound 'mAludhAna' (मालुधान) which means 'serpent'. Whether it has any relation to the serpent mounds such as the one in Loch Nell will never be known. Moor also identifies the word 'Cala' to the Sanskrit 'kAla' (काल) meaning 'black' and to Lord Shiva. 'Kala' is also 'time', 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow' in the Sanskrit language.


In his book "oriental Fragments', Edward Moor
traces the sound 'col' in  the names 'Colne', and  'Colchester'
to the Sanskrit 'kala' 
(कालmeaning 'black'.
  Notice that River Blackwater flows nearby..

Edward Moor states, "Cala is not an uncommon name for a river in regions very distant from each other meaning, where a meaning can be traced, black. The river Blackwater runs near Colchester...". 

Referring to the town of Kalamata in Greece he states, "Calamata, I will here note, is at the foot of Mount Parnassus. Mountains or hills, more especially if conical, as then being more probably of volcanic origin, we shall by-and-by see are appurtenances of Siva and Parvati...  which means mountain-born....The river Calamata reminds us that the Nile, and other rivers, have a like meaning of blackness or blueness. Kali is a river famed in Hindu epics. Nila means blue; so does Krishna, or black. The poetical river Jumna, as we call it, is, with Hindus, 'Yamuna, the blue daughter of the Ocean'."

Referring to the name Kalinadi, he states," (It is) a Sanskrit compound name of more than one river in India; best translated by Black-river, or Black-water ; and the name of more than one (river) in Britain". His estimate was that near the Colne and Blackwater rivers, archaeological excavations and time must reveal ancient sites or temples. 

Moor was intrigued by what what Pausanius, an ancient Greek traveller and writer, had noticed in the town of Kalamata - that is, a temple of the Syrian goddess! The temple of Syri, Edward Moor says, could really have been the temple of Kali or Parvati! Syri is a cognate of the Vedic name Sri, which is yet another name of Kali!! Hence the name of the town - Kalamata!!!

About Scotland Moor states, "In Scotland I could find many Kalic-isms, as the recent spelling of Caledonia may lead us to infer. I have before hinted that Kali-dun is the Hill of Kal, Caldew a name of Siva, Cal another.... ". Read Caldew as Kala-deva, and Cal as Kal

Links:
1. The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany, Volume 14
2. Oriental Fragment by Edward Moor

Monday, 10 November 2014

THE RIVERS OF GEORGIA -THE SANSKRIT CONNECT AND A BIT ABOUT THE MOON GOD (LORD SHIVA) TEMPLE OF LOMISA

Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bound to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. 

The name Georgia is an exonym, used in the West since the medieval period. It is presumably derived from the Persian designation of the Georgians as, 'gurg' which means 'wolves'. Mainstream interpretation as discussed in Wikipedia is that 'gurg' is a corruption of Middle Persian vark-ana, meaning 'land of wolves'.

However, what is left unsaid is that the Persian 'varkana' itself originates from the Sanskrit 'vrik' (वृक) meaning 'wolf'. For more on this subject and the Sanskrit connect to Georgian names click here.

One of the major rivers in Georgia is the Kura which is name of Turkish origins. Some have contented that the River Kura gets its name from the ancient Albanian term for 'reservoir'. Once gain the Sanskrit connect is evident. In Sanskrit, 'karshu' (कर्षू) means 'river', so does 'kula' (कूल) which is more often used to refer to a 'river bank'. A 'kupa' (कूप) is a 'well' and 'kulya' (कुल्या) is a small river. Derivatives of 'kula' such as 'kulini' (कूलिनी) and 'kulvati' (कूलवती) also mean 'river'. 

The Georgian name of the river Kura is Mt'k'vari and its roots are traced to the Georgian 'good water'. That too has a Sanskrit connect, for 'vaari' (वारि) and 'vaarii' (वारी) both mean 'water' in Sanskrit.

The Mt'k'vari forms a 'sangam' of sorts with another river by the name 'Araghave'. Mainline sources say that the name 'Araghave' originates from old Iranian Ragvi meaning 'swift'. Once again compare this to the Sanskrit  'raghu' (रघु) meaning 'rapid' or even 'raghav' (राघव) meaning 'sea' or 'ocean'. 'Araghave' is the Armenian version of the name 'Raghave'.


The Aragvi (right) meets the Mtkvari at Mtskheta, one of the 
oldest inhabited cities of the word. Aragvi, Mtkvari
 and Mtskheta are names of Sanskrit origins.

Mtsketa is one of the earliest inhabited cities of the world. It was the centre of ancient temples in pre-Christian times and it became one of the first places to see the destruction of its temples at the time of the rise of Christianity such as the one in Tshika Gora  - see picture below. 


Georgian bull-motif from an ancient temple column
excavated in Tsikha Gora, Georgia is a reminder

of the Vedic 'Nandi' .
Picture Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Iranica

The image of the kneeling bull 'Nandi' is a common occurrence in Hindu temples - both ancient and present.


The kneeling bull- Nandi, India

The etymology of the name Mtskheta is unknown. However, there are cities in Georgia which have both 'kheta' and 'khetr' as the suffix. Examples include - Kakheti, Samstkhe and Java Khetr. Now 'kshetra' (क्षेत्र) is Sanskrit for 'area' and is used as a suffix in the names of ancient cities in India, such as Kurukshetra. It is highly likely then that the name Mtskheta has a distorted form of 'kshetra' as its suffix. 

The name of the highest mountain in Georgia is Mount Shkhara and the second highest is Mount Janga - the Sanskrit 'shikhar' (शिखर) and 'tunga' (तुङ्ग) both mean 'peak'.

On the confluence of the rivers Ksana and Aragvi, on a watershed mountain, is located a church surrounded by the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to a bull by the name Lomisi who is associated with the moon god represented by the half-moon

The church at Lomisa, Georgia
with the ruins of an ancient temple associated with
the half-moon-good and a bull.

The ancient Temple of Lomisa at Georgia and
 its legend of the moon-god and his bull
is at once a reminder of Lord Shiva, and his bull, Nandi.
The ancient pagan temple at Lomisa, is associated with the cult of a bull by the name Lomisa and the legend of the half moon god! That of course is a reminder of Nandi, also called Rishabha (of which the word Lomisa might be a distortion) and Lord Shiva with the crescent moon in his top knot.

So is there any trace of a Shivalinga in Lomisa. Here is what a local travel agent, Tinatin Bujiashvili has to say, "The church built of rough stone is a triple-church basilica, in which the nave and aisles are separated by solid, continuous walls instead of by colonnades. The peculiarity of this church lies in the fact that in the middle of its interior 
stands the column, which doesn’t have any constructional function. Some scholars argue that it might symbolically represent 'the life-giving pillar' of Svetitskhoveli, 'sveti' meaning 'pillar' and 'tskhoveli' meaning 'life-giving'." The central pillar of Lomisa is also believed to have miraculous properties and it is said that around it miraculous water flowed that cured people of diseases. 



An artist's depiction of the 'Svetitskhoveli'.
The Temple  of Lomisa is in ruins
but a Svetitskhoveli Temple which is now a church
exists in Mtskheta in Georgia.

The 'Svetitskhoveli' seems to be be akin to the Shivapurana legend of the 'Pillar of Light' or 'Pillar of Fire' which is a form of 'Lord Shiva'. The Shiva Purana says that Brahma and Vishnu were touring the Universe one day and found a pillar of light which extended farther than they could perceive in two directions. They were curious and decided to split up to see if one of them could find an end. Vishnu went in one direction and Brahma the other, After some time, they returned to their starting place. Vishnu said that he was unable to find the beginning, no matter how far he traveled. Brahma said that he found a beginning though he had not. Thereupon, the Pillar of Light immediately changed into a form of Shiva. Lord Shiva in this form is known as JyotiLingam. To Read more about the Pillar of Light or Fire of Shiva Purana click here.
Ellora Caves, India
Shiva as 'The Pillar of Light'

And here is a look at the archaeological sites in Georgia. Most of the names are obviously of Sanskrit origins.



Ancient archeological sites of Georgia.
Most of the names have Sanskrit origins.
Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Iranica

Notice the river names: Kodori, probably from Sanskrit 'kedar' (  केदार  )  और 'basin of water', Enguri a cognate of 'angkur' (अङ्कुर) meaning 'water', Sukhumi, a cognate of 'sukham ' (सुखम्) meaning 'happiness', Virali, a cognate of 'viral' (विरल) meaning 'rare' and so on.

Monday, 3 November 2014

THE SRI RAMA -SUGREEVA CONVERSATION FROM THE RAMAYANA AND A BIT ABOUT VIMANAS AND FLIGHT-SORTIES

After the vanara chief Sugreeva deploys the vanaras in four directions with detailed route map of the world in search of the abducted Sita. Sugreeva's knowledge about the world, its geography, the seas, oceans, mountains, cities and its inhabitants described in sections 41-44 of Kishkinda Kanda, intrigues Sri Rama who asks Sugreeva how he was so well versed with the geography of all quarters of the world. 

In Section 46, Verse 131 of Kishkinda Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, Sugreeva, tells Sri Rama, "I have really seen the earth as in the reflection on the surface of a mirror, where the mirror shows all the objects in exactness, and the earth is like the circle of a fireball, where it is encircled with fire-like reddish and brownish and ores, and it appeared to me in my high flight like a cow-hoof-print in the mirror...". [4-46-13]


Sugreeva describes the world
from his flight as something
similar to hoof-print pattern

He then describes his flight over the world as Vali chases him in the skies - much like the flight-sorties of today.*

In verse 14 he says, "Then on going to eastern direction I saw various trees, enchanting mountains with caves, and also numerous lakes."

In verse 15 he says, "There I saw the mountain wreathed in with ores, namely Mt. Udaya, the Sun-Rise, and I have also seen the Milk Water Oceans which is forever an abode for apsara-s." As per the Ramayana Mt. Udaya is located after crossing many oceans and its location was identified by Srila Prabhupada in the Andes Range of South America.

In Verse 16, Sugreeva says , "... and chased by Vali, and flying on, I suddenly veered round and then again, O master off I went.

In the Valmiki Ramyana, Sugreeva is
chased in high flight by Vali around the world.
A present day sortie.

In Verse 17, he continues, "... and changing that direction I again  made for the south crowded with trees belonging to the Vindhya, and embellished with sandal woods." Sugreeva is now flying over the south of present day India.

Then Sugreeva says, "... seeing Vali in the mountain among the trees, from the south I, pursued by Vali, betook myself to the western quarter..."

"And beholding various countries, and arriving at that foremost  of mountains - the Asta (or the western most point where the sun sets) . Then I turned north and passed the Himvat and Meru and the Northern Sea. But pursued by Vali, refuge find I none." 

Flying during the Ramyana epoc is not unheard of. In fact the Ramayana is replete with instances of air-travel and space travel. The most well known of all ancient vimanas is of course the Pushpak.

In sections 41-44 of Kishkinda Kanda, Valmiki describes the details of the journey of the vanaras and it is obvious that he has flown way beyond what is the territory of preset day India. For more on the details of the world map mentioned in the Ramayana click here (for north)here (for Far East)here (beyond Far East upto South America), and here for west. 

*Vali ruled the kingdom of Kishkindha; and was once challenged by a raging demon by the name of Maayaavi. Bali accepted his challenge and the demon fled in terror into a deep cave. Vali entered the cave in pursuit of the demon, telling Sugreeva to wait outside. When Vali did not return, and upon hearing demonic shouts in the cave and seeing blood oozing from its mouth, Sugriva concluded that his brother had been killed. Sugeeiva rolled a boulder to seal the cave's opening, returned to Kishkindha, and assumed kingship over Kishkinda. But when Bali who had prevailed over the demon returned to Kishkinda, Sugreeva was ostracized from the kingdom. It was at this point that Vali pursues Sugreeva in the hope to slay him.