Saturday, 27 June 2015


In ancient Indian annals the Caspian Sea was known as 'Kasyap Samudra' or 'Kasyap Sagar' named after Rishi Kashyap - the father of the devas, asuras, nagas and all of humanity. Some Indian scholars have put forth the view that the name Caspian is derived from 'Kashyap'. 

Not only the Caspian, but many cities located on the banks of the Caspian and its vicinity have names that seem to have a Sanskrit-Vedic connection. The coastlines of the Caspian are shared by Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan.

Ramsar is the westernmost county and city in Mazandaran in Iran. It borders the Caspian Sea to the north. Ramsar is known for its hot water sulphur springs and is the centre of therapeutic spas.

Natural Hot Springs at Ramsar, Persia (present day Iran).
'Sar' is Sanskrit for 'lake' or 'pool' and is a suffix in the
names of cities which are known for their water bodies
especially lakes, waterfalls, sacred pools and springs.

Rudsar, is a city in and the capital of Rudsar County, Gilan Province, Iran. It is commonly believed that the word Rudsar comes from the word rud, the Persian word for river, and sar, the Persian word for 'head'.

Though why Iran should have so many cities which end with the suffix 'sar' - which also include Tuskasar, Chabosar, Paresar and Panesar-eTashkan remains unanswered. It is highly likely that 
'sar' has another meaning, other than the Persian 'head', in this context. 

Panesar-e-Tashkan is home to the Visadar Waterfall. Visadhar is a Sanskrit term meaning 'poisnous-snake' or 'serpentine' and probably refers to the shape of the waterfall. Click here to see a copyright photo of the Visadar Falls that reveals its serpentine feature.

Visadar Falls, Panesar-e-Tashkan
Photo Courtesy: Pinterest

In Indian literature 'Visadhar'  appears as a reference to Krishna in the 'Gita Govinda' of Jaydeva written in circa 1200 AD. The verse describes the slaying of the Kaliya serpant by Lord Krishna. Here is the verse.

kaliya-vishadhara-ganjana, jana-ranjana 
yadu-kula-nalina-dinesha , jaya jaya deva hare

kaliya-vishadhara—the poisonous Kaliya serpent; 
ganjana—who defeated; 
jana-ranjana—O delight of the people; 
yadu-kula-nalina—the lotus flower of the Yadu dynasty;
dinesha— Lord of the helpless.

O Lord who defeated the poisonous Kaliya serpent! O delight of the people
O lotus flower of the Yadu dynasty! O Lord of the helpless and poor! 
O Lord and master Hari, all glories unto You, all glories unto You!

Quoted from

Close to Panesar-e-Tashkan is the ancient city of Talesh. Archaeological studies show and archaeologists say, the people of Talesh are one of the oldest inhabitants of Caspian Sea. The Sanskrit 'Talak' (तलक) and 'taal' (ताल) refer to a 'pond' - 'esh' refers to 'god' or 'lord'. The suffix Tashkan in the na
me Panesar-e-Tashkan may be derived from 'Talesh' now known as Taleshan.

As stated above Ramsar is known for its hot water sulphur springs and is the centre of therapeutic spas. It is one of the most ancient sites and it is highly likely that the suffix 'sar' refers to the 'hot springs' - as in Sanskrit 'sar' (सर). There may even be a connection to Sri Rama. There is some evidence to support this claim. Intriguing place names around the Caspian Sea include Siyavar and Lankaran. Siyavar (सियावर) was a name of Sri Rama and of course the name Lankaran is a reminder of Lanka (लंका) of Ramayana.

Then there is Sanganchal in Azerbaijan. Sanganchal (संघ-अञ्चल) is probably a reference to a Buddhist monastry - 'sangha' is Sanskrit for 'group' or 'committee' - Buddhist groups are referred to as 'sangha'. 'Anchal' and 'achal' (अञ्चल) both denote 'zone'. Azerbaijan was located at the centre of numerous caravan routes, including the Great Silk Road, connecting great civilizations as the Sumer, Persian, Indian and Chinese, passed through the territory of Azerbaijan and hence in antiquity Azerbaijan also emerged as a centre of Buddhism. 

Another city by the name Makhachkala, located on the western bank of the Caspian sea in Russia, lies on the ruins of Tarki which itself was built over the ancient city of Samander - the name probably a distortion of Sanskrit 'samudra' (समुद्र) or 'sea' - the suffix in Kasyapa-Sa

The capital city of Atirau in Kazagkstan on the Caspian still has a district called 'Inder' and a lake by the same name.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015


The Matra Mountains of Hungary are situated between the valleys of two rivers - the Tarna and Zagyava. The names are undoubtedly of Sanskrit origin - or at least emerge from a language closely related to Sanskrit. 

'Taran' (तरण) means 'flow across'. A slight tweaking of 'Zagyva' renders it close to the Sanskrit word 'jhara' (झर) meaning 'sprinkling' or 'water-fall'. 'Jhara' and 'nirjhar' (निर्झर) or 'cascade', appear in the names of major rivers around the world including 'JordonNigeria and the 'Niagara'.

On the east of Zagyva flows the 'Galga' - phonetically close to the name 'Ganga'. Interestingly even the Volga was once known as 'Jilga' and 'Julga' - 'jal' (जल) or 'water', and 'g' () 'moving'.

Then there is the Berettyo river that flows through the Hajudu-Bihar county of Hungary - 'Bihar' is a cognate of the Sanskrit 'vihar'(विहार)  - literally 'pleasure', which with the advent of Buddhism took on the meaning 'temple' or 'academy'. The state of Bihar in India gets its name from a distortion of the Sanskrit 'Vihara' - Bihar was once the centre of Buddhist learning. In fact some Indian scholars have argued that even Budapest the capital of Hungary, gets its name from that of the Buddha - given to it by Buddhist monks who left India in droves due to Brahmanical persecution. 
Buda was the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and the western part of the current city of Budapest.

In Hungarian though the word 'vihar' means 'thounder' or 'downpour' which is the same as the Sanskrit root word 'vAha' (वाह) which means flowing. Also 'vahA' (वहा) means 'river'.

The Harnad River 
of Hungary arises in the 'Tatra' Mountains. Harnad (हर - नद) translates as 'God's river' from Sanskrit. Another river name that stands out is that of Kraszna, also written as 
Crasna - both names cognates of the name 'Krishna'.

The  Kraszna River, also called the Crasna.

Other river names include the Zala, again a cognate of 'jala' (जल) or 'water', Valika (वालिका) 'edge of a thatched roof', then there is the river Drava - 'drava' (द्रव) Sanskrit for 'flowing'. 

'Danube', also called Danuvius, is said to derive its name from Proto-Indo-European root word is 'da' which means 'rapid, swift and violent'.

Wikipedia states, "It is one of a number of river names derived from a Proto-Indo-European language word *dānu, apparently a term for "river", but possibly also of a primeval cosmic river, and of a Vedic river goddess (Danu), perhaps from a root *dā "to flow/swift, rapid, violent, undisciplined." 

In Sanskrit, the word 'Danu" (दानु) has many meanings. It means 'dew, dew drops, fluid, valiant and courageous'. The Sanskrit root word is 'da' (दा) which means 'that which is cleansing and purifying, giving and protecting'. 

Sándor Csoma de Kőrös (1784-1842), a Hungarian philologist and Orientalist, author of the first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book, believed that the ancient homeland of the Hungarian people was somewhere in the East. Csoma often cited the Ugrian theory, according to which the 'Ungar', 'Hungar' and similar names of the Magyar people of Hungary were somehow related to the name of the Ugars, as the Uyghurs, living in the border region of China and Mongolia. While studying Tibetan, Csoma also became interested in Sanskrit, which he suspected – a notion he openly espouses in the preface to his Tibetan dictionary – might be related to the Hungarian language.

He famously stated in the preface to his 'Tibetan Dictionary', "The Hungarians will find a fund of information from the study of Sanskrit respecting their origin, manners, customs and language."

Suggested Links:
1. Rivers and Mountains of Hungary

Tuesday, 9 June 2015


Uplistsikhe literally, 'the lord's fortress' is an ancient rock-hewn town located in eastern Georgia, some 10 kilometers east of the town of Gori located in the heartland of ancient kingdom of Kartli (also called Iberia). In the Vedic tradition Gori is the name of Goddess Parvati.

Not much is known about the origins of the name Shida Kartli but this region also consists of the districts of Kaspi, Kareli, Java and Khashuri. The name Kaspi is a close cognate of the Sanskrit 'kashyap' the name of one of the greatest ancient  seers after whom the ancient lake Kashyap in Kashmir is named. In ancient Indian tradition the name of Caspian sea was also 'Kashyap'. 'Kareli' may itself stem from the name 'Keralam', a state in India'. 'Keralam'  is first mentioned in the Rig Veda and later the Ramayana.

'Java' is probably a distortion of the Sanskrit 'Yava',  a name of an island also mentioned in the Ramayana - identified as present day Java. There is also a town by the name Yava in Tajakistan.

The name 'Khasuri' may stem from the Sanskrit 'kasara' (कासार) meaning 'lake' or 'pond' or 'water body'. Khasuri is located on a river by the name 'Suramula' - itself a Sanskrit compound - 'mula' (मूल ) means 'root' or 'vein'; 'sura' (सुर) has many meanings including 'sun' or 'divinity'.

Uplistsikhe is identified by archaeologists as one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. Built on a high rocky left bank of the Kura also called Mtkvari, it contains various structures dating from the Early Iron Age and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures - the most ancient of them being pagan in style.

The cave temples of Uplistsikhe in Georgia
resemble the ancient cave temples of India

The Georgian name of the river Kura is Mt'k'vari and its roots are traced to the Georgian 'good water'. That too has a Sanskrit connect, for 'vaari' (वारि) and 'vaarii' (वारी) both mean 'water' in Sanskrit.

The Mt'k'vari forms a 'sangam' of sorts with another river by the name 'Araghave'. Mainline sources say that the name 'Araghave' originates from old Iranian Ragvi meaning 'swift'. Once again compare this to the Sanskrit 'raghu' (रघु) meaning 'rapid' or even 'raghav' (राघव) meaning 'sea' or 'ocean'. 'Araghave' is the Armenian version of the name 'Raghave'.

The Aragvi (right) meets the Mtkvari at Mtskheta, one of the
oldest inhabited cities of the word. Aragvi, Mtkvari
and Mtskheta are names of Sanskrit origins.

As mentioned above the name of 'Upalistsikhe' translates from Georgian as 'Lord's fortress'. In Sanskrit 'upalaksh' (उपलक्ष्) means 'distinguished'. Upa' (उप) by itself means 'above' or 'top'.