Thursday, 14 February 2013


Nazca, best known for the Nazca lines which are believed to have had astronomical functions, is located in the Peruvian arid desert and the Pampas de Jumana, some 400 km south of Lima, the capital of Peru. The geoglyphs of Nazca depict giant geometric forms (triangles, trapezoids, parallel lines) and biomorphs (birds, plants, and human-like forms) etched into the surface of the desert. The geoglyphs were made by scraping the dark surface of the stones exposing the lighter soil beneath.

Many have argued that the Nazca lines were entrenched into the ground surface for astronomy purposes. Here is a look at what the name 'Nazca' reveals if one were to look at it through the Sanskrit lens. 

The word 'Nazca' may be a distortion of 'Nakshatra' (नक्षत्र) which means 'asterism' or 'lunar mansion'. The word 'Nakshatra' derives from 'akshara' (अक्षर) which means that which is 'fixed', 'permanent' or 'imperishable'. It also means 'space' and is the name of both 'Vishnu' and 'Shiva'. The primordial sound 'Om' is also referred to as 'akshara'. Adding the 'na' to 'akshara' negates the meaning partly and indicates 'that which is imperishable yet transitory' implying the mapping of transitory positions of the imperishable stars and planets in the sky. Hence the word 'nakshatra'.

The Nazca Zodiac
In the local language Quechua, 'Nazca' means the land of 'suffering' and 'sorrow'. That sums up this barren land and the difficult terrain of the Nazca valley, which sees the confluence of many seasonal Peruvian rivers before they flow into the Pacific across the coastal Andes mountains. Nazca is known to have been named after the Nazca River (Rio Grande de Nazca). This is an attempt to decode the word 'Nazca' with the help of Sanskrit, a language which bears an uncanny resemblance to Quechua. 

In Sanskrit, one of the closest related cognates of 'Nazca' or 'Nasca' is 'nissah' (निःसह) which means 'suffering' and 'unbearable' as does the Quechua 'nazca' - which refers to the difficult terrain and the severe arid conditions of the valley. The Nazca are fed only by summer rains in the highlands. Watercourses are otherwise dry for most parts of the year. The Nazca desert is one of the driest on Earth. An even more appropriate word which describes the Nazca valley is the Sanskrit 'nishshah' (निष्षह्) which means 'overpowering'.

However, the Sanskrit words that most accurately describe the Nazca valley, are 'ni-sneh' ( निःस्नेह) and 'ni-srav' (निःस्राव) which both mean 'without moisture'. But they take us away from the Quechua meaning of the word Nazca.

Many scholars have long argued that the word 'Peru' may have named after the Sanskrit 'peru' (पेरु) which means 'sun', or 'golden mountain', rather than the more often cited source 'Biru', which was the name of a local ruler who lived near the Bay of San Miguel, Panama, in the 16th century.

Many cites and ancient monuments in Peru have names which are identical phonetically and in meaning to Sanskrit words. Examples include 'KoriKancha' (कोरितकाञ्च) and 'Virakocha' (वीरकोच). For more on the Sanskrit connection to 'Korikancha' and 'Virakocha', click here and here.

Another Peruvian name is the Pampas de Jumana - once again Jumana is a close cognate of 'Yamuna', also pronounced as 'Jamuna', the name of a river in the plains of India.

Pampas de Jumana has an interesting feature - it is one of the driest area in the world - and that has helped preserve the geoglyphs here. Also, the warm air here acts as a cushion and forces the winds to change direction - that too has restrained erosion here. The word 'yamana' (यमन) in Sanskrit means that which 'restrains' and 'binds'.

Is the likeness of Peruvian names to Sanskrit a coincidence? Possible. But, as more and more ancient cites are excavated and their names reveal closeness to Sanskrit, ignoring the leads may only de-accelerate the pace of unveiling the truths of world history.

As an aside, the geoglphs of Nazca resemble the nearby motifs of Paracas. The best known of the Paracas motifs is the shining, resplendent 'Trident of Paracas' that dates back to an era prior to the etching of the Nazca lines. For a note on the Sanskrit connection to the name 'Paracas' click here.
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