Friday, 5 October 2018

AN INDIAN MONK IN ANCIENT GREECE

Historians such as Edward Pococke and Edward Moor had put forth the view that the city of Damascus gets its name from Dhammiska, an extension of the Pali word Damma, which itself is a distortion of the Sanskrit word Dharma, meaning duty, a code by which the Indian monks lived. Many such historians who have not attained the kind of prominence they deserve because of an inherent bias against 'Out-of India' theory and a propensity towards the now outdated Aryan Invasion Theory. There is much legitimacy to their contention, if one were to study the etymology of the names of other ancient cities and towns, mountains and rivers in the vicinity of ancient places such as Babylonia, Damascus, Mesopotamia and so on. But this post is about Hindu and Buddhist monks who as early as since at least the times of the Mahabharata and later under the patronage of Emperors such as Puru and Ashoka sent embassies to various kingdoms around the world. These monks and their knowledge had a tremendous impact in a variety of ways on the lives of people they made contact with.

We begin this post with the story of one such Indian monk who lies buried in Athens in a tomb that exists till today. His story was recorded by a Greek historian and philosopher by the name Nicolaus of Damascus.

Nicolaus of Damascus was born around 64 BC and his name is derived from that of his birthplace Damascus. In his works Nicolaus of Damascus describes an embassy sent by the Indian king Porus (or Puru as he is known in Indian texts), to the Emperor of the Roman Empire Caesar Augustus who reigned from 27 BC to 14 AD. The embassy traveled with a diplomatic letter addressed to Caesar Augustus, and one of the members was a Sramana (Buddhist monk) by the name Zarmanochegas. The monk is said to have burned himself alive to display the faith he had in his tradition. The incident took place in Athens in the year 22 or 21 BC. The incident is described by historians like Strabo and Dio Cassius.

Based on the different ways Strabo and Dio Cassio render the name (Zarmanochegas, Zarmarus) modern scholars attempted at interpreting Strabo's version as a combination of two Sanskrit words, 'shraman' (श्रमण) or monk', and acharya (आचार्य) or 'teacher'.

A tomb was constructed for the monk at Athens. The inscription on the tomb indicated that the monk came from Barygaza near the north bank of the Narmada River. Barygaza was known as Bhrighu-Kutcch, the name being derived from one of the ancient Rishis (Bhrigu) who lived there. Today the city is known as Bharuch.


The tomb of Zermanochegas at Athens


Greek geographer Strabo (64 BC-24 AD) makes a mention of this incident in his famed work Geographia as follows. he states," From one place in India, and from one king, namely Pandian, or, according to other Porous, presents and embassies were sent to Augustus Caesar. With the ambassadors came the Indian Gymnosophists, who committed himself to the flames at Athens."

Buddhist monks on the patronage of Emperor Ashoka were travelling from India across Asia spreading 'Dharma' or the teachings of the Buddha as early as 3rd century BC. The monks scattered in all directions on the Silk Route and spilled into many ancient cities including Khotan in China, Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch in Greece.

Alexandria in Egypt was inhabited by a
great number of Buddhist monks during
the rule of Emperor Ashoka in around 250 BC. 
'Dharma' (धर्म) is a Sanskrit word which means 'duty' and at its earliest appears in the name 'Sanatan-Dharma', the Vedic religion of the land that is today known as India. In Pali, the language of Buddhism, 'Dharma' distorts to 'dhamma'. The most ancient ancient school  Buddhism was known as Stavira Nikaya'. Sthavir  (स्थविर) has the meaning of "elder' in Sanskrit. Later the name Sthavir distorted to 'Theravada' in Pali but has the same meaning of 'Elder'.

The Buddhist monks who arrived in Egypt set up their community in Alexandria. In his research paper 'The Possible Indirect Influence of Buddhism on Christian Monasticism: an Assortment of Facts in Support of the Hypothesis", author P. A. Martin says, " There is also evidence that a number of Buddhists were living in Alexandria sometime between 300 BCE and 100 CE, and this was a large site of Therapeutae. The Therapeutae were an ancient order of mystical ascetics who lived in many parts of the ancient world but were found especially near Alexandria, the capital city of Ptolemaic Egypt.

Zacharias P. Thundy, Professor Emiretus of the Northern Michigan University made the observation that the name 'Therapeutae' arises from the Sanskrit/Pali word 'Thervada' which means 'Elder'. He says, " 'Therapeuta' is the Hellenization of the Sanskrit/Pali word 'Thervada'; they were probably the successors of the missionaries whom Emperor Ashoka sent to Egypt, to the kingdom of Ptolemy in the 3rd century as Thervada medical missionaries. Greek, which does not have have corresponding sounds for the labio-dental 'v' and the apico-dental 'd', changed the Indian v & d to p & t ....." Hence, 'thervada' changed to 'therapeuta'.

The evidence for the fact that the Buddhist monks who were sent by Ashoka to various kingdoms within India and abroad were professional healers comes from Ashoka rock edict at Girnar in Gujarat. It states, "Everywhere within the dominion of His Sacred & Gracious Majesty the King & likewise among the frontages such as the Cholas, Pandyas, Sativaputra, the Keralaputra, what is known as Tamrapani, the Greek King Antiochs, and those kings who are neighbors of that Antiochs - everywhere have been instituted by His Sacred majesty two kinds of medical treatment - medical treatment of man and medical treatment of beast. Medical herbs also, those wholesome for man and those wholesome for beast, have been caused to be planted in all place where they did not exist.....".


Ashoka's Rock Edict at Girnar in Gujarat states that medical treatment was instituted by Buddhist monks or 'thervadas' as far as Antioch in Greece.The language of the edict engraving is Pali. The script is Bramhi.
Western sources trace they etymology of 'therapy' and 'therapeutic' to Latin and Greek sources with obscure arguments to support their view that the 'theraputae' were pre-Christian or Jewish ascetics but these arguments have no cultural or historical collateral. 


Friday, 20 July 2018

THE NAME CROATIA DERIVES FROM THE NAME SARASVATI. HOW?

There is a debate on the etymology of the country name 'Croatia' which is officially knowns as the Republika Hrvatska. Some theorists who have researched the source of the name 'Hrvatska' say that the name is probably related to Russian 'khrebet' or 'mountain chain'. ' The Russian word 'khrebet' has its origins in Sanskrit 'parvat' or 'mountain'. But that does not tell the entire story.

Others scholars have put forth the view that the present day name Croatia, which is a distortion of Hrvatska, itself is a derivation of the native ethnonym, Xъrvatъ or Xrvat, pronounced Shravat.

So what is the source of the name Xrvat or Shravat? The first attestation of the term is contained in the 'Latin Charter of Duke Trpimir' dated 852 AD. Trpimir was the Duke of Croatia from 845 to 864 AD.

The oldest stone inscription with the engraving of this name is in the 'Latin Branimir Inscription', found in Sopot near Benkovac in Croatia, where Duke Branimir reigned from 879 to 892 AD. The earliest written monument in Croatian language, containing the ethnonym Xrvat is the 'Baska Tablet' dated 1100 AD.

The exact origin and meaning of the ethnonym Hrvat is not known. Common theories from the 20th century derive it from an Iranian origin, postulated by scholars such as Ranko Matasovic who discussed the subject in his 'A Comparative and Historical Grammar of Croatian' (2008). He states that the root word for Hrvat is a shortened distortion of the name Khoroathos or Khoroathos which derive from the Middle Persian, 'Xwarasan'.

'Xwarasan' itself had its roots in Old Persian 'xaraxwat'. attested by the toponym, (i.e. a name derived from the topography of a region), Harahvait, the native name of what appears in Greek texts as Arachosia. Harahvit or Archosia, the texts say, lay geographically between the region of India and Iran. In Old Persian inscriptions, the region is referred to as Harahuvatis.

Croatian Linguist, Indo-Europeanist and Indologist, Radoslav Katicic states that Harahuvatis in Indo Iranian actually means "one that pours into ponds", which derives from the name of the Sarasvati River of the Rig Veda.

In Avestan and Persian the 's' distorts to 'h' and words such as 'soma' (elixir) changed to 'homa' and therefore the first distortion of the word 'Sarasvati' would be akin to 'Harahvati' leading to Harahuavati.

To sum it up the name Croatia, officially calle Hrvatska derives from the name Sarasvati. Croatia's native name was Xъrvatъ or Xrvat, pronounced Shravat, derived from Persian 'xaraxwat' ultimately from 'Saraswati'. The Sanskrit meaning of the compound word Sarasvati is: sara 'a water body' and 'vati', 'that which is endowed with'. In other words Sarasvati means 'that which has water aplenty'. 

The Indo-Iranian or Avestan equivalent for Harahuvatis, Hrvatska should therefore be 'that which has water aplenty', rather than the generally accepted 'that which flows into many ponds'.

It is not only Sarasvati that exists in the Croatian culture, the river names are all Sanskritic with appropriate and relevant meanings. There is the Sava, the Drava, the Kupa, the Danube, the Sutla and Una. Sava is Sanskrit 'Srava' (स्राव) or 'that which oozes', Drava is 'drava' (द्रव) meaning 'liquid', and Kupa is 'kupa' (कूप) or 'water-well'.

About the river names Sava and Sutla it is accepted that the names are related. It is also said that these names have an Indo-European root. Some state that source word might be the Sanskrit 'sukara'. But that means 'swine' and is highly inappropriate. The root word for Sutla is more likely 'su' (सु) or 'good' and 'tala' or 'surface'. Or the name may derive from the 'sutla' (सुतल ) meaning 'great depth'.

The name 'Danube' is said to derive from Proto-Indo-European, a language reconstructed from European & Indic languages. In Sanskrit, the word 'Danu" (दानु) has many meanings. It means 'dew, dew drops, fluid, valiant and courageous'. 



The name 'Una' also has Sanskritic origins. The root word 'und' means flow and words such as 'unatti' (उनत्ति) that derive from the root 'und' mean 'flow' or 'spring' or 'issue out' or 'bathe', all related to water.




Sunday, 8 July 2018

IN DEFENSE OF E. POCOCKE'S 'INDIA IN GREECE' - CHAPTER I

In defense of E. Pococke, author of ‘India in Greece’.
First published by J.J. Griffin in London in 1852-53.
Republished by Rupa Publications in India in 2015.

There is much debate on the writings of E. Pococke, many dismiss his work as nothing more than conjecture, and some deny the very existence of an author by this name putting forth the view that the only known author by the name Edward Pococke was an Orientalist who lived from 1604 to 1691. The E. Pococke who is the subject of the debate here did not publish his book 'India in Greece' until 1832 - in fact he signed his name as E. Pococke without the full form of the initial E. Hence, it is claimed that there was no author by this name.

Be that as it may, the fact remains that the book 'India in Greece' exists. Since the book exists, there must have been an author, irrespective of whether his identity can be established or not. The fact remains there are other books apart from India in Greece attributed to E. Pococke between 1852-53. For example, there is the ‘History of the Roman Empire’ in the ‘Encyclopedia Metropolitana’ series published by J.J. Griffin & Co. in 1853.

E. Pococke had also promised to write a book called 'India in Italy’ which it is said when published was suppressed by the Vatican. Whatever the reasons for his un-established identity, for the sake of convenience one may continue to call the author by the name E. Pococke. His name is irrelevant. His work is relevant, and the relevance of his work may be judged by testing the content of his writings.

Pococke’s hypothesis was clear. First, he states, “The Greek language is a derivation from the Sanscrit; therefore Sanscrit-speaking people- i.e. Indians, must have dwelt in Greece, and this dwelling must have preceded the settlement of those tribes which helped to produce the corruption of the old language- i.e., the Indians, must have colonized the country so early, and dwelt there so long, as to have effaced all dialectic traces of any other inhabitants…”.

Second, he states, the philosophy, poetry, culture, religion and history of the Pelasgian colonists, who pre-dated the Greeks and were the source of the Greek civilization, were of Indian origin. The later Greek authors such as Herodotus wrongly passed off the Pelasgians as savages and barbarians.

Many explanations have been given for the name Pelasgi by Greek thinkers, such as that the term Pelagos, meaning ‘sea’, indicates that Pelasgis came into the territory from the sea. Another explanation says that the name Pelasgi arises from the terms Pelo, to till, and Argos, the field. Yet another explanation states that Pelasgi stems from the term Pelargoi, meaning storks, for it is said that the ancient Pelasgi inhabitants looked like storks in their linen dress, or else the term referred to the wandering habits of these inhabitants. Another explanation is that Pelargoi stands for the ‘barbarous’ language that the Pelasgis spoke.

All these words and/or their meanings have been taken from thr Greek language or mythology and artificially placed atop the Pelasgian culture; yet, during the times of the Pelasgian civilization, neither the Greek language nor Greek mythology did not exist, it had not evolved.

Pococke presents three postulates on the basis of which he then goes on to pose one question, which his critics have, not surprisingly, been unable to answer in a convincing manner. The three Postulates are worded thus, “ 1. Let it be granted that the names given to mountains, rivers, and towns, have some meaning. 2. Let it be granted that the language of the Name-givers expressed that meaning. 3. Let it be granted that the language of the Name-givers will explain that meaning.”

Edward Pococke then applies these postulates to Greek geography and he observes, “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?"

No critic has been able to answer that question. The reason is simple. None of the names of the ancient cities of Greece have any meaning in the Greek language. Is it not curious that though the etymology of so many words in various European languages is traced to Greek, yet Greek fails to explain the names that exist on the Greek map. Says Pococke "Greeks dwelt in a land called Greece, - their language should explain the names of its mountains and rivers." Why then is Greek unable to do so?

The only reason is that Greek is not the source of the names of the ancient mountains, rivers, cities and Gods and Goddesses of the Greek mythology, which obviously indicates that there is some other language which was at work there. Doesn’t that fact shake the very foundations of the Greek civilization and cast a question on the credibility of the myths associated with its Gods and Goddesses. Where they all made up? Did they sail into Greek ethos from other sources? Pococke argued that the ultimate source of most of the ancient Greek names was Sanskrit. Hence the opposition to his work.

The etymology of the names of Greek Gods and Goddesses has never been established in spite of the fact that a lot of research has been done on them since the time of Pococke. Scholars differ on the sources of not only the language from where the names are derived but also the cultures from where these Gods and Goddesses have entered the Greek pantheon. To site just one example, scholars differ on the origins of the cult of Aphrodite. In general it is believed that her cult was probably derived from either the Phoenician goddess Astarte, or from East Semitic Ishtar. About her name a long winded explanation states that the name was altered from Greek aphrós which means 'foam’ which itself was derived from Cretan Aphordíta and Cypriot Aphorodíte, ultimately from Cypriot Phoenician.

This not only reiterates Pococke’s contention that Greek language is not the source of any of these names, it also reiterates that these Gods and Goddeses are not part of Greek culture. Pococke was not the only author to hold that view. In his book, ‘Mysteries of Ancient Greece’, Coen Vonk writes, "The history and origin of ancient Greece were clearly not written down by the Greeks themselves, but ancient Indian writings such as the Puranas, the Mahabharata, and the Rajput genealogies may hold keys to solving some of these questions."

Hindus dwelt in the land that is now known as India and was the centre of a great civilization with its own language, literature, scriptures, arts and music. Unlike the problem that Greek scholars face about the source of the names that appear on their maps and mythology, in India there is no confusion about the meanings of the names of the protagonists of Hindu scriptures, or those of its rivers, mountains or its ancient sacred sites. If one were to look at the names of the Vedic Gods, like Shiva, Indra, Rama, Krishna, Bramha etc., all of these pronouns are also adjectives at the same time. 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'.

The mountains, river names and cities of ancient India all have perfect translations - 'Himalaya' (हिम-आलय) - 'abode of snow', Ganga - ganga (गंग) 'fast flowing', 'Yamuna', yamuna (यमुन) '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 all have meanings. Their current and ancient names are easily identifiable: Swarna-prastha ( स्वर्णप्रस्थ) or 'the city of gold', now Sonipat, Panduprastha ( पाण्डुप्रस्थ) or 'the city of Pandu' now Panipat, Indraprastha (इंद्रप्रस्थ) 'the city of Indra' or 'excellent city', now Delhi, though the name Indraprastha exists till today, Vyagraprastha (व्याघ्रप्रस्थ), or 'the city of tigers', now Baghpat, and Tilaprastha (तिलप्रस्थ) Tilapat, 'the city of sesame’, all located in Haryana.

Pococke had an explanation. He said that this Pre-Hellenic language that the western sources routinely refer to was Sanskrit which was carried westward by the ancient tribes emigrating out of India. In fact he says the autonym of Greece, that is 'Hellas' originates from the Sanskrit 'heli' (हेलि) which means 'sun'. He also gives details of the 'sun-tribes' or the 'surya-vanshi' (सूर्यवंशी) tribes of India who traveled westwards to Greece. He states, "The land of Hellas_, a name so dear to civilisation and the arts, was so called from the magnificent range of heights situated in Beloochistan, styled the 'Hela' mountains, which sent forth the first progenitors of Greece....". Present day mainstream sources say that the word Hellanic is of unknown origin!

Pococke goes a step further. To support his hypothesis he goes on to decipher the ancient city names of Greece with the help of Sanskrit, and the names of many of pre-Greek tribes with the names of the ancient tribes of India recorded in the Mahabharata – many of whom it is said, just after the end of the Mahabharata war, and because of the devastation caused by it, emigrated westwards and left their trail, in the names of rivers, towns, monuments, right across Asia to Greece and Rome. Many tribes travelled eastwards too but their influence on East Asia is accepted in countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, China etc. Why would the tribes that travelled westward not have a similar influence!

Here is a list of names that Pococke attributes to Sanskritic origins. The aim is to analyze the list to check whether there is a thread somewhere, a cultural collateral as Pococke calls it, to support the view that the names are Sanskritic in origin.

Pococke traces the name Mt. Pindus to the Pandu tribe of Mahabharata, the name deriving from the Sanskrit word 'pandu' (पाण्डु) meaning 'pale' or 'fair'. By itself this one example does not amount to anything. Some of the details of why Pococke may have made this claim are missing from his writings.

At this point, lets take Pococke's argument further and see for ourselves if there are any other names in the vicinity of Mt. Pindus that have Sanskritic names. If so then Edward Pococke had a valid hypothesis and claim.

We check the map of Greece. First, we find there is a Grevena in the Mt. Pindus region, the name is akin to ‘Agrevana (अग्रेवण), the ancient name of Agra mentioned in the Mahabharata, meaning 'on the edge of the forest'. Grevena has no meaning in Greek.

Two other Sanskritic place names in the vicinity of Mt. Pindus are Pramanda and Agnanda which again have no meanings in Greek. The name Agnanda can be explained by the name Angada via the Ramayana. Angada (अङ्गद) meaning donor of limbs) is a vanara (or forest-creature) who helped Sri Rama find his wife Sita and fight her abductor, Ravana. When we speak of the Ramayana, it may be noticed that on the Cretean Island of Greece, which lies south of mainland Greece, we see two more names from the Ramayana, the town of Sitia, so named probably after the Goddess-Queen Sita, and the town of Rethimnon, a reminder of Rameshwaram – a sacred site established by Sri Rama himself at the southern tip of India.

There is more. According to the Ramayana, in the sea that lies between Rameshwaram in India and the island of Lanka (Sri Lanka), there was a sea-mountain by the name Mainaka which was visited by Hanuman in his flight across the sea to Lanka. On the Greek map just north of this Cretean Island, we see the Maina Peninsula, now called Mani. Mani is a sea area lined with many caves, known to have been inhabited once by wanderers and mendicants. More about Mani a little later. At this stage we may still pass off the above information as coincidence. But there is more.

According to Pococke 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, from Sanskrit 'a' () and 'taku' (तकु) or 'slow movement', is 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. This was Pococke’s stance. But is there any evidence to this claim.

There is. We find on the ancient maps in Mesopotamia and Babylon, located on the very route that the emigrating tribes of India would have taken, the exact same names which existed in India and adjoining areas (then known as Bharata or Jambhudwipa). As far as Attac is concerned, not only was there an Attock just off the course of river Indus of India, there was an Attac on the Euphrates too. James Playfair states in his book 'A System of Geography, Ancient and Modern', Volume I, page 117, “Peri-saboras, now called Firauzbar, is the Acrobaritas of Ptolemy, situated on the banks of the Euphrates…. Sittau, at some distance from Peri-saboras, it was more anciently called Accad, or Argad, whence the river Argades mentioned by Ctiseais.”

Peri-saboras, more likely Perisa-boras, is a distortion eitherbof the name Purushapur, which was the name of present day Peshawar or Parasapura - a city in the territory of Persia, then called Parasa. Accad on the Euphrates is the replication of the original Attock situated on the Indus, and as the tribes moved further west we see the Greek city of Attica arise on the river Argades. Argades was another name for city of Accad of Babylonia. Sttau also appears on the map of Greece in a slightly different avatara.

Pococke traces the origins of 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. Greek sources are unable even to track the source of the name 'Olympus', the highest and most revered mountain in Greece. In a contrast Pococke was able to decode the etymology of many place names, and names of rivers and mountains of not only Greece but much of Europe to Sanskrit; the names brought there by the many waves of emigration from India, the centre of the Indus Valley Civilization and the seat of many great empires such as Magadha, ruled by Emperor Ashoka. Whether or not one agrees with Pococke's view, the fact remains that Sanskrit and the Hindu epics do a much better job of explaining the meaning of these Greek names and providing a cultural context.

Edward Pococke’s view was clear. According to him the Pelasgians were the ancestors of the Greeks - that is they preceded the Greeks and were the source of all knowledge that one sees later in the Greek civilization. But who were the Pelasgians? That is a little difficult to say conclusively only because their history is corrupted in the maze woven by the later Greek epics.

There is no translation for the name 'Pelasgus' in Greek which is not surprising because the Pelasgians spoke a language that pre-dated Greek. Second, the remnants of Pelasgian culture, their kings and gods have been fitted into the fabric of Greek mythology, by weaving Pelasgian fables and legends into Greek epic poems which are the foundation of Greek literature. Had the Pelasgian culture been left alone and not buried under the myths and legends of the later Greek culture, it would probably have been easier to make some sense of it.

Still there is some undiluted information that has trickled down to us. The name Pelasgians was used by classical Greek writers to refer to the ancestors of the Greeks and in general refereed to all tribes and populations of the Aegan Sea who preceded the Greeks and it is accepted that large parts of Greece were Pelasgians before they were Hellenized. The Pelasgians first found mention in the poems of Homer. Later Greek writers such as Hesiod called the oracular site of Dodona, identified by reference to “the oak”, the seat of the Pelasgians.

By the times of Herodotus the 5th century historian, the Pelasgians were mostly confined to a place by the name Kreston or Krestonia where Herodotus said “the Pelasgians are still living”. And though most Pelasgians in other settlements no longer spoke the Pelasgian language, Herodotus wrote that the people of Krestonia and Plakia “continue to use the dialect they brought with them when they migrated to these lands.”

The etymology of Krestonia is unknown, but the resemblance to the name Krishna has not gone unnoticed. In fact in the vicinity of Krestonia, now called Krestena, about 100km away, is the city of Kalamata, and another 50 km away is Stoupa, a very Buddhist name, from Sanskrit ‘stupa’ originally meaning ‘mound’. Stoupa lies in the Mani area mentioned earlier, known for its fierce structures and towers and caves. It is said that Mani is a truncated form of the name Maina Polypyrgos, or the Maina Tower. As stated in the Table 1 which follows, pyrgos meaning tower is akin to Sanskrit ‘piratt’ or tower. Mani of course means ‘precious stone’ and appears in the Sanskrit – Buddhist hymn, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’. Once again, close to Mani peninsula lies the city of Omales, and many scholars have linked Greek place names that have Om as the prefix, to the Vedic ‘Aum’ or ‘Om’. But more about that later.

Christianity came late to the Mani area and pagan religions, first established by the Hindu emigrants at the time of the Mahabharata exodus, were the norm until 12th century AD. So we continue to see Vedic and Buddhist names here. One of the regions of Mani is known as Vardounia with no known Greek or Pelasgian etymology. Once again Vardounia can be explained by the Sanskrit names ‘Vardhan’, stemming from (vardhan) ‘augment’ and a common name for Indian kings, for example Harshvardhana of the Vardhana dynasty was a 6th century king in India. This is the same Maina Peninsula and Mani that were mentioned above in the context of the Ramayana.

The above supports the view of E. Pococke who was of the view that after a glorious period in India, during which time Buddhist monks were sent as emissaries to Greece and other major kingdoms by Emperor Ashoka who ruled most of India from Magadh and Palashkhanda; a decline in Buddhism with the revival of Hinduism set-in in India which resulted once again in the exodus of Buddhist monks in huge numbers -this time because of the decline of Buddhism in India. The Buddhists monks left India, and moved towards the areas where the earlier emissary monks had travelled to and settled down in. It may be that with the arrival of this fresh lot of wandering monks in their linen robes giving them a stork like appearance, that the name Pelasgi (meaning storks in Greek) finally caught on.

Greek authors, not looking much further away, placed the native land of these Pelasgis in Fessalia, in northern and Middle Greece, and on the majority of islands in the Aegean Sea. The region of Fessalia has been home to many monasteries since medieval times having been built on the ruins of Pelasgian structures, but a look at its geography makes it evident that all existing ancient names there are Sanskritic in origin.

In many of the names of places, lying in the vicinity of Fessalia, there is at least one part of the name that is of Sanskrit origin, for example, Sitaras (Sita - Goddess Sita), Venetikas (vinati-prayer), Kalamitsi (kala-time or black), Kaloch (kala-time or black), Agapi (api-water), Panagia (Panag- water), Katakali (Goddess Kali), Agnantia (agna- fire, antia-end), Paraskevi (paras-gold or para-across), Ardani (ardha- half), Megarchi (Megha-cloud), Megala (Megha- cloud), 'Xanthi' (शान्ति) 'peace' etc. The Sanskritic 'Patras' may be derived from the Greek 'Pietra' but is the same as the Sanskrit 'prastar' (प्रस्तर) meaning 'stone', Trikala (three-time or trio-time, also Lord Shiva), Genesi (Lord Ganesha) and Kalognani (kala-time). If Fessalia was the territory of the Pelasgi, then their language was Sanskrit, and their culture was Indic. In these names we see not only words that are purely Sanskrit but also names of Hindu and Vedic Gods and Goddesses.

We add to this list as we proceed further. But first we take a look at the cultural context of why these Sanskritic names appear on the map of Greece. Bulgarian linguist Vladimir I. Georgiev, in his ‘Introduction to the History of the Indo-European Languages’ published by the Publishing House of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia in the year 1981, presented a compilation of Pelasgian words which have survived in the Greek language – albeit with a distorted meaning. To Georgiev’s list, we add here a third column of corresponding Sanskrit words which shows a clear link between the Pelasgian language and Sanskrit. All the Pelasgian words that have survived in Greek also seems to indicate in a hidden way a link between Pelasgean and Indian culture. In fact, one can deduce the original meaning of the adopted Greek word from just the nature of the list of Pelasgian words that have survived.

Georgiev’s list of Pelasgian words seem to have to do with Yagyas and fire rituals, Homam and Vedic offerings. Here is the list with their Greek meanings. To Georgiev's table is added a column with the Sanskrit words that could have been the Sanskrit source for the Pelasgian words. The Sanskrit column also reveals where the distortion in the Greek meaning may have stemmed from.



PELASGI                 GREEK                  SANSKRIT WORD WITH MEANING
WORD                      MEANING

1. Aleifo                   I smear                  Sanskrit root word ‘lip’ - to smear
                                                                lipta- smeared
                                                                aalipta-smeared
                                                                'lepa' -smearing.
                                                                Anointing of sandalwood is an 
                                                                important part of Vedic rituals.
2. asamindos         a bath                     'samindhana' is Sanskrit for
                                                              ‘firewood’ required for 'yagyas' or 'fire rituals'.
                                                               A bath is also an integral part of a ritual though,
                                                               the Sanskrit word for 'bath' is ‘snana’.


3. astu                     a town                    'astu’ is Sanskrit for ‘to be’. The meaning
                                                                 probably distorts in Greek to ‘where one
                                                                lives’, hence ‘town’ in Greek language Or more
                                                                 likely the source word of Pelasgi may have
                                                                been vasti' which is Sanskrit for dwelling', and
                                                                may have originally distorted to astu' in
                                                                Pelasgian. Sanskrit 'vasti' distorts to basti' in
                                                                 Hindi.


4. atemboI            offend                       ‘tamas’ – quality of mental
                                                                 darkness, hence offensive


5. afnos               wealth                        avana – joy, pleasure


6. balios             white                           balaksh – white

7. bretas             a statue                      murti – idol
                                                               preta – departed soul

8.gaia                 ga - a land                  Gaya – sacred land, a region
                                                             
 The connection between Pelasgi 'gaia' and
                                                              Sanskrit 'Gaya' is discussed  ahead in detail


9. deyo             irrigate                        Root word ‘udanya’ – thirsty
                                                             Udanyati- irrigate

10. dunamai     I can                           dhUna – agitated
                                                             dhUnyati – agitate


11. eiko             I retreat                      ekaki - alone


12. elaion          butter                        Ila- to move
                                                             Ilagol – round movement or churning.
                                                             Butter or 'ghee' is another important ingredient of 
                                                             ritual


13. derapne    a dwelling                  darI – cave
                                                           nirdarI – dwelling
                                                           dera - dwelling

14. ide             a forest                      dava -forest

15. laha          pit                                loha – iron, perhaps as an
                                                            instrument for digging

16. neos         a temple                     naivasika – place of deity dwelling

17.pyndax     bottom of a                 pinda has many meanings
                      vase such                    as It is a part of 'yagya' terminology
                                                           body, force, and 'pinda daana' ritual in Gaya
                                                           power. in Bihar.

18. Pyrgo      tower                           puratt – watch tower


A collective look at all the Pelasgi words contained in this list seems to indicate that they are related to Hindu rituals, yagyas (fire ritual), to pinda-daana, to giving up tamas or pleasures of the world and gaining joy and pleasure from sacrificing wealth and dwelling in temples, caves and forests – a path that Hinduism recommends for the seeker.

The sacred city of Gaya is the centre for the ritual of Pinda-daana for the departed souls or ‘pretas’. The word ‘gaia’ which in 1851 Pococke had discussed in great detail completes our story here. The list of words by Georgiev, when put in the context of sacred rituals of India seems to give credence to what Pococke had concluded earlier, that tribes from Magadh-Gaya and other parts of Vihara, now called Bihar, had migrated westwards in huge numbers.

Pococke had shown the link between ‘gaia’ and Gaya by quoting Asius, a Greek poet from 700 BC who had written a couplet in his poem about the Pelasgis and their ‘home’ :

"Godlike Pelasgus, on the mountain chase,
The sable (black) earth gave forth her mortal race."

The couplet is originally in Greek, and Asius uses the Greek word 'gaia' in the couplet which later interpreters translated as 'earth'. Pococke clarifies and says that it was the word 'Gaya' that was tweaked by interpreters into 'gaia' and given the meaning ‘earth’; but - it was Gaya in Bihar that 'gave forth Pelasgus its race'! And there are arguments that support Pococke’s claim.

For one, the etymological origin or the source of the Greek word 'gaia' is unknown - which is strange. Even Proto Indo European has not been able to find a source word for 'gaia'! It may be concluded therefore that not only did the Greeks, intentionally or for want of an explanation, misinterpret the words 'gaia'; they also invented legends and myths to support their contention. Pococke says, "It is entertaining to view the process by which the Greeks first misunderstood a Pelasgic term, then fitted out a tale upon on their own translation of what they imagined to be Greek...."

The word 'gaia' was not only misinterpreted to mean 'earth', it was then put forth as the 'personification of Mother Earth' and in time Gaia became Goddess Gaia. Unlike the names of Hindu Goddesses where each of the names has a meaning in Sanskrit (for example Durga is from Sanskrit 'durg' (दुर्ग) meaning 'difficult' - she is the goddess who gives strength against difficulties, Parvati from Sanskrit 'parvat' (पर्वत) meaning 'mountain' - she is the daughter of the mountains of Himalaya, or 'Lakshmi' (लक्ष्मी) - meaning 'good fortune'- Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth. The Greeks have been unable to decode any of the names of their Goddesses and much like the name Aphrodite as mentioned above the source for the name of Goddess Gaia is unknown.

But why did the Pelasgians remember the city of Gaya. First, probably because the Pelasgians belonged to the Magadh-Gaya land of India. The greatness of the city of Gaya is mentioned in the Ramayana when Sri Rama, the God-King, and his wife, the Goddess Sita and Lakshmana visit Gaya to perform the last rights of King Dasharatha, Sri Rama’s father, and offer pind-daana, the Hindu ritual for departed soles.

The greatness of Gaya is also mentioned in other ancient Sanskrit texts like Mahabharata, Yogini Tantra and the Vayu Purana. The etymology of Gaya too is clearly mentioned. The Vayu Purana states that the city of Gaya was named after an asura by the name 'Gayasura' - who practiced asceticism by praying to God Vishnu. He chanted and sang praises in the name of Vishnu, hence 'geya' (गेय) or 'song' - from Sanskrit 'gai' (गै), to 'sing', 'chant', or 'sing praises'.

Second, many scholars have written that tribes from India, after the death and devastation of the Mahabharata war, were uprooted from their homes and started emigrating from India in different directions. Gaya, being the sacred place for performing the last rites and the ritual of pinda-daana for the departed souls, would be one of the last places that the emigrating people would have visited. That would be their last memory. The huge exodus after the war saw not only the exodus of the tribes but also the migration of the culture, the language and the history of India, and the glories and memories of ancient Gaya.

And as they moved westward they left their footprints on the way. Here one may only make a mention of one more Gaya which was constructed as the tribes moved and settled westward.. Apart from the Gaya in Bihar in India, en-route in their journey to Central Asia and further west, they constructed the temple of Rekem-Gaya! The original Aramaic texts say that the name of Petra, the ancient temple of Jordan, was Rekem-Gaya! Though the etymology of Rekem is unknown, 'rechin' (रेचिन्) a cognate of Rekem translates as 'red', a reference to the red terrain of Jordon
. As against the Red Gaya of Jordon referred to in the Aramiac texts, we later see the 'black' Gaia that Asius, the Greek poet, wrote about in his verses on Pelasgis. The name Gaya is associated with that of King Dushratta because of the visit of his son Sri Rama. Small wonder then that we see the name of Dushratta at Rekim Gaya too. More of that in a later chapter.
To be continued>>>>

Friday, 9 February 2018

THE SANSKRIT ALPHABET SEQUENCE - THE MAHESHWARA SUTRA



It is said that Sanskrit was introduced to human civilization by the sages of Sanatan Dharma (the ancient most form of Hinduism) along with the divine scriptures, especially the Rig Veda and the Upanishads.

A famous verse in Sage Panini’s Ashtadhyayi says that the Panini grammar that is in use now is graced by Lord Shiva. Hence the first known organized sounds are known as the Maheshvara Sutra - Maheshvara being another name of Lord Shiva. Here is the verse from Panini's Ashta-Dhyayi:

"At the end of His Cosmic Dance,
Shiva, the Lord of Dance,
with a view to bless the sages Sanaka and so on,
played on His Damaru fourteen times,
from which emerged the following fourteen Sutras,
popularly known as Shiva Sutras or Maheshvara Sutras"

The fourteen sounds of the Maheshwara Sutra, also known as the 'akshara-samamnaya', or the 'recitation of phonemes', is also the most ancient known Sanskrit alphabet sequence. It is at the same time a powerful Mantra and the vibrations of its sound are known to have healing powers. Here are the sounds:

1. अ इ उ ण् |  2. ऋ ऌ क् |
3. ए ओ ङ् |  4. ऐ औ च् |
5. ह य व र ट् |  6. ल ण् |
7. ञ म ङ ण न म् |  8. झ भ ञ् |
9. घ ढ ध ष् |  10. ज ब ग ड द श् |
11. ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व् |  12. क प य् |
13. श ष स र् |  14. ह ल् |

The fourteen sutras contain all the letters of the Sanskrit varnamala- the svaras (vowels) and all the vyanjanas (consonants). The sounds of the alphabet originated from Lord Shiva's 'damru', which might therefore have been some kind of a sound device.

The Sanskrit alphabet sequence is known as the 'Varna-mala'. The word 'varna' (वर्ण) means a 'syllable' and all the energies related to that syllable - colour, presiding force, the mouth part used to pronounce each syllable, the related body part etc.

In his paper 'Mantra & Initiation' by Pandit Rajmani Tignuit wrote, "....on a more subtle level, the Sanskrit phonemes relate to the energy currents which lie deep within the interior of the human body. Each of the 72,000 currents has a distinct sound, although they are too diffuse and vague to be enunciated distinctly. Moreover, the yogis have identified places in the body where two or more energy currents cross. In mantra shastra, the point where two energy currents intersect is called a sandhi, the point where three energy currents cross is called marma shthana, and the point where more than three energy currents converge is called a chakra. Here at the chakras, the vibratory patterns of energy are strong and vibrant. At the center of each chakra a distinct sound predominates, and other distinct sounds are centered around it. That is why, in kundalini yoga, each chakra is represented as having a particular letter at its center, as well as a letter on each petal........ ".

In kundalini yoga, each chakra is represented as having a particular letter at its center. The Maheshwara Sutra is a healing mantra too as mentioned above and is chanted to revive the sick or dying.