Wednesday, 26 June 2013

RIVERS OXUS (AMU DARYA) AND JAXARTES - THE SANSKRIT CONNECTION

The River Oxus, also called Amu Darya flows through Afghanistan, Tajakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In antiquity, the river was known by its Sanskrit name Vaksu (वक्षु). The name 'vakshu' now survives in the name Vaksh, a tributary of the Amu River. Most encyclopedia only trace the name of the Amu river to its Greek and Latin name Oxus, and generally omit mentioning its Sanskrit name Vakshan (वक्षण) , from which the name 'Oxus' was derived. The reason probably is the fact that not many records about the ancient history of this region and the etymology of the names of its rivers exist except in the ancient Hindu annals, including the Mahabharata and the Puranas. The Vakshu was referred to as the Chakshu in the Mahabharata.

Present day Vakshu River is a tributary of Amu Darya
Amu Darya was known as Vaksh River in antiquity.

In the ancient Indian Vayu Purana, the region between the Amu Darya (Greek name - Oxus River) and the Syr Darya (Greek name - Jaxartes River) was known as Kumuda-dvipa. Just as the name Oxus derives from the Sanskrit Vakshu, the name Jaxartes derives from the Sanskrit name Yakshu (यक्षु). The Avestan texts too refer to the River Jaxartes as Yaksha-arte. Also, the name Kumuda (dvipa) changes from Sanskrit to Komedes in the Greek and Latin texts.


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