Thursday, 2 January 2014


The Rewa River is the widest river in Fiji. The Rewa originates in Mount Tomaniwi.

'Viti Levu' (Greater Fiji) and 'Vanua Levu' (Smaller Fiji) are
the two land masses that make the country of Fiji.
In Sanskrit 'Lava' (लव) means 'section' or 'part' of which
the Fijian word 'levu' may be a distortion.
'Vit' (वीत) means 'hidden'. 'Vanua' might be a
distortion of 'vana' (वन) which means 'forest'.

Mt. Tomaniwi is located on the Viti Levu Island. The name 'Tomaniwi' is a close cognate of the Sanskrit 'Toyanivi' (तोयनीवी) and means 'encircled by ocean'. During its colonial times, when the British governed Fiji from 1874-1970, Mt. Tomaniwi was known as Mt. Victoria but now the old name has been reinstated.

'Rewa River ' Fiji.
Named after the Vedic-Hindu Goddess 'Rewa'.

The etymology of 'Rewa' in the local Fijian traditions is not really known. However, Sanskrit and the ancient texts of India do throw some light on the name Reva. First of all the ancient name of the Narmada river of India is 'Reva' and has been mentioned in the Puranas . It says that the name 'Reva' is derived from the Sanskrit root word ‘rev’ (रेव्) which means to ‘hop’, 'leave', 'jump', 'move' or 'go'. 'Reva' (रेवा) or its extended form 'Revati' (रेवती) are common names for girls in India. 'Reva' (रेवा) means 'one that moves'. 'Reva' is also another name of the Hindu Goddess 'Rati' - the consort of Kama Deva. 'Revati' is the name of an asterism or nakshatra.

The Vedic Goddess 'Reva' - the
consort of  'Kamadeva'.
She is the goddess of love and passion.
The Rewa River in Fiji is fed by two large tributaries, the 'Wainibuka' and the 'Wainimala'. The prefix in both these names sounds like the Sanskrit 'Vana' (वन) and 'Vani' (वनी), both of which mean 'forest'. The second syllable 'buka' is probably a distortion of 'paga' (पग) . 'Vanapaga' (वनापग) means that which 'flows through the forest'. 'Wainimala' is close to the Sanskrit 'Vainimala'. Though 'Vana' means 'forest', 'vainI' (वेणी) means 'stream'. Then there is 'vaini' (वेणि) which means 'confluence of two streams'.

Another major river of Fiji is 'Nauva'. This name may be a distortion of the Sanskrit 'Navya' (नव्य) which means 'praiseworthy'. Another River goes by the name 'Nadi'. 'Nadi' (नदी) means 'river' and 'nAdI' (नाड़ी) means 'vein' . Then there is the 'Saunaka'. 'Shana' (शन) means 'slow' in Sanskrit - or 'slow moving' in this context. Also 'Saunaka' was the name of a Sage mentioned in the Indian scriptures called 'Puranas'.

Then there is the 'Suetambu' Creek. 'Suetambu' is phonetically close to 'Shwetambar' (श्वेतमबर) which means both 'clothed in white' and 'white skies'. It also happens to be the name of one of the sects of Jainism - the other being 'Digmabar'.
 Or even more likely 'Suetambu' 
may be a distortion of 'shweta' (श्वेतmeaning 'white' and 'ambu'  (अम्बुmeaning 'water'.

There are many rivers and mountains and places in Fiji whose names are close cognates of Sanskrit words. The same can be said about the names that one hears in the legends and mythology of Fiji.

In Fijian mythology, Degei (pronounced Ndengei), enshrined as a serpent, is the supreme god. 'Ndengei' sounds like the Vedic-Hindu 'Naga-Deva' (नाग-देव) meaning 'Serpent God'.

According to the legend, in the beginning there was only water and twilight everywhere and only an island existed. Degei was alone and the only living creature was the female hawk named Turukawa. In Sanskrit 'tura' (तुर) means 'strong' or 'powerful' or 'fast'. 'Kaga' (काग)  is 'crow', so is 'kaka' (काक) - 
which have distorted into 'kauva' or 'kava' in many Sanskrit derived languages such as Hindi. 'Turakava' translates as 'powerful crow'. 

In the Hindu mythology Sri Krishna banishes 'Kaliya' - a serpent that lived in a river in Vrindavan who terrorized the cattle and children of Vrindavan - to a beautiful island called Ramanaka Dweepa in a faraway ocean and it is believed that the Serpent brought his people and made his home in what Hindus believe was Fiji. Today, the Sri Krishna Kaliya Temple stands in Lautoka as a testimony to this belief. According to a centuries-old Fijian legend there is a gigantic, many-hooded snake said to be living in a cave in the interior of Mt. Nakauvadra in Fiji. Click here to read more about the Sanskrit connect to the name 'Nakauvadra'.

Krishna Kaliya Temple, Lautoka, Fiji
The image above depicts the legend of Sri Krishna 
and the Serpent Kaliya. Hindus believe that
Kaliya is the same as the Fijian Serpent 'Degei'. 


Vinay Kumar Vaidya said...

काग > संस्कृत 'काक' > crow , 'तुर' > fast, रे > ray , रेषा , रेषा , रेखा, rectilinear, Suetambu > श्वेत + अम्बु ( अम्बु = water )

Neeta Raina said...

Thanks for this info. Will incorporate your input into the text.

Baladeva Das Brahmachari said...

yes .. i have studed this .. Degei is kaliya ... they speak about gigantic crow and this is Garuda .... divine bird garuda is the carrier of Vishnu ... Garuda liked very much to eat snakes ... and Garuda use to go to Fiji to eat snakes
... once Garuda was cursed by Sage Saubhari Rsi to never enter Vrndavan-dham ... knowing this Kaliya went to live in Vrndavan so that Garuda could not cause him and their snakes friend any harm ... thats why kaliya was touched by Krishna in Vrindavan ... when Kaliya became a devotee and return to fiji Garuda never harm him ... because kaliya became a devotee and Garuda also is a great devotee ... This temple in Fiji was founded by Swami Prabhupad who confirmed that Kaliya lives there even today ....