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