Thursday, 25 April 2013

AUSTRALIAN PLACE NAMES -THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION

A report from BBC News, dated 14th January, 2013 quotes a genetic research study which has concluded that Australia experienced a wave of migration from India about 4,000 years ago. It also says that a Genome-wide data substantiates that the Holocene gene traveled from India to Australia.* 

This is something that has been long proposed by many scholars. For example, Dr Raghavendra Rao from the Anthropological Survey of India, says that DNA evidence linking Indian tribes to Australian Aboriginal people points to the fact that humans arrived in Australia via a southern coastal route through India. His team used computer programs to predict that a common ancestor existed, between the Indian population and Aboriginal Australians, up to 50,000 years ago.**

With this as the background and the fact that at the ancient site of Gympie near Brisbane in New South Wales, artifacts of Ganesha and a Vedic Goddess have been found, one may also check some of the place names of ancient sites in this region and analyze them through the Sanskrit lens. 

When early British settlers, started arriving in Gympie in 1858, they recorded the name of Gympie as 'Meru'ndai'. This name was in usage with the aboriginal Australian 'elders' who were known as the 'ngtja guru'. 'Merundai' was obviously named after Mt. Meru (मेरु) which appears in many Vedic Sanskrit texts, and later in Buddhist texts. The name 'ngtja guru' is also derived from Sanskrit. In Sanskrit, 'nya' (नय), 'naya' (नाय) and 'nayak' (नायक) all mean 'guide'. 'Guru' is a well known Sanskrit word. It derives therefore that the elders were known as the 'guide gurus' of the community.

Gympie is an interesting site and is known for its ancient artifacts, temple ruins and pyramid like structures. It is even more interesting that the sketches made from descriptions of temples, passed on through generations, resemble the sketches of Mt. Meru found elsewhere. One example is the sketches of Mt. Meru found in the Buddhist scrolls at the Margao Caves in China. [The sketches of Mt. Meru as they appear in the scrolls found in the Margao Caves were shown in the 'Ancient Alien Series' of the History Channel].

A sketch of a Gympie 'temple'. Drawing
made from word of mouth description of the temples.
Astonishing resemblance to Mt. Meru sketches 
of the Buddhist Margao Cave Scrolls of China.
Then there is the Dhandara Creek, located at the 'Coombadjha' sacred site, west of Grafton in northern New South Wales. In Sanskrit 'Dhana' (धन) means 'bounty', 'dhara' (धारा) means 'flowing water'. 'Coombadjha' is a distortion of 'Kambhoja' (कम्बोज). Sage 'Kambhoja' was the brother of sage 'Agastya' and a friend of Sage Vasistha and all their names appear in the the Indian text 'Ramayana'. The name 'Cambodia' also derives from the Sanskrit 'Kambhoja'.

Other ancient sites such as Puritjarra, Puntujarpa and Papunya are also interseting for what they have revealed. Researchers had proposed that artifacts such as stone-tools (microliths) found in this area resembled closely to the ones which were in use in ancient India. The same was proposed by researcher Klim Gollan about the 'dingo' dog in 1984. In his research, Gollan had concluded that the fossil records of the 'dingo', (Australian wild dog) was also introduced into Australia from India
.*** Now the report from 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America' has concluded the same, that the dingo arrived into Australia from India about 4000 years ago.

The ancient aboriginal sites in New South Wales are also interesting for their names. Puritajarra, Kalkutajhara, Puntujarpa and Papunya! If one were to decode these names with the help of Sanskrit, the word 'jarra' stands out. The word 'jarra' as a part of a place-name indicates the existence of a waterfall, an oasis or a river in the area. In Sanskrit 'Jhara' (झर) means 'water-fall' or a 'body of water' And one sees its occurrence in names of rivers around the world such as the Rivers 'Nigeria' (Nigeria), 'Jhara-ma' & 'Jara-bacao' (Spain);  and 'Niagara' in the United States.

'Purit' (पूरित) means 'complete' or 'spread out' or 'filled with'. 'Jhara' as mentioned above means 'water'. 'Puritjarra' suggests a place where either a river flows or a place which is a water-haven, and that matches with the geography of the area surrounding 'Puritjarra'.

The word 'Jarpa' in Puntujarpa' is also probably a distortion of 'Jhara'. 'Puntu', if interpreted as 'pant' (पान्त) means a 'drink'. 'Kultukjarra' also indicates water. In any case, 'Kultukjarra' is  the aboriginal name for River Docker.

There are many aboriginal place names in New South Wales such as 'Kampur-apa', 'Pa-Punya', Wintal-lynga', and Kaltu-aranya which indicate that they might have had their origins in Sanskrit. 'Kampur' sound like an Indian village name, 'Punya' (पुण्य) means 'pure' or 'holy', 'Linga' (लिङ्ग) has reference to God Shiva and 'aranya' (अरण्य) means 'forest' and 'desert' both. This list goes on and on. 

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