Tuesday, 13 October 2020


The trouble with history is that more than what time has erased, it is the invaders and imperialists who have destroyed the memory and the knowledge of many great cultures around the world. To make a bad situation worse, historians and philosophers have imposed a maze of fables and legends, quite often stolen from other great cultures, to weave a web in an endeavor to camouflage the truth, and in the endevour to falsely enhance the greatness of their own culture while deriding that of alien cultures. By these contortions, the truth about the history of the world was lost, in some parts of the world completely so.

However, some parts of the history can be still be restored by various means and tools. In the context of culture and literature, one such tool is the study of the etymologies of the ancient most names of rivers and mountains of the world. As against the names of towns and cities which often takes the name of any ruler who comes in and takes over charge, the names of mountains and rivers tend to change ever so slowly. These names reveal information about the ancient most times, about the language spoken then, and the relationship of these cultures with nature itself at the time, when these names first emerged. That becomes immensely important especially in areas where the history is completely lost.

Tunisia is one such example. Tunisia was inhabited by Berbers in ancient times before Phoenician immigration began in the 12th century BC under whose aegis it saw the emergence of the very affluent city of Carthage. Carthage flourished from the 12th century BC to the 2nd century BC when it fell to the Romans after the third Punic War.

The historical study of Carthage is problematic precisely because of the reason mentioned above. The culture and records of Carthage were destroyed by the Romans at the end of the Third Punic War, and hence very few Carthaginian primary historical sources survive. While there are a few ancient translations of Punic texts into Greek and Latin, as well as inscriptions on monuments and buildings discovered in Northwest Africa, the main sources are Greek and Roman historians, who belonged to peoples in competition and hence their accounts of Carthage are extremely hostile.

Nevertheless some information can still be retrieved from the ancient surviving names of rivers and mountains of Tunisia. Take for example the Madjerda river or the Bagrada as it was called in antiquity, the longest river in Tunisia that rises in the Atlas mountains in Algeria and flows through Tunisia and empties into the Gulf of Tunis and Lake Tunis.

The language that the Carthagians spoken was the Punic, also called Canaanite or Phoenicio-Punic which is an extinct variety of the Phoenician family, a Cannanite language of the Semitic family, yet the ancient names of the rivers and mountains of Tunisia can be explained by Sanskrit, a language that is classified as Indo-European.

First the name Madjerda. Jerah, jernah, jardan and its many variations that appear in the names of rivers such as the Niger, or the Jordon, also appears in the name Madjerda. Different cultures have given different etymologies to these names.

Lets first turn west and look at Ptolemy's analysis of the name Niger. In his writings Ptolemy mentioned two rivers in the desert of NIger, one by the name 'Gir' and farther south, the 'Ni-Gir''. Roman historian, Suetonius (69-122 AD) wrote that the name 'gher' originates from the Bereber language, spoken in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria and means 'watercourse'.

But it is obvious that the word 'gir' is a distortion of the same Sanskrit word that appears in the names of rivers around the word. The word is 'jhara', and appear in the names of many rivers and water bodies around the world such as the 'Jari' which is the northern tributary of the River Amazon, River Jara in Melbourne, the Jara River (a tributary of the Susita River) in Romania, or Lake Jara in New Mexico - not to mention many more in India and Nepal. In Sanskrit the word 'jhara' (झर) means a waterfall or a water body, and 'jhari' (झरी) means a river.

It is evident that the name Madjerda also falls into the same category and is probably also connected to the name Algeria, with jerda and geria as being the variations of the above mentioned 'jhara'. The 'mad' prefix can be explained by the sanskrit 'mada' which means 'intoxicant' and can be attributed to the turbulent  flow of the water.

The more ancient name of Madjerda is Bagrada. In the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), William Smith states," Ba' Grada or Ba' Gradas the chief river of the Carthaginian territory (afterwards the Roman province of Africa), had its source, according to Ptolemy, in the mountain called Mampsaurus, in Numidia, and flowed northeast into the Gulf of Carthage."

In the name Bagrada, the suffix 'rada' may be a distortion of 'ruda' which appears in the names of many rivers and is traced to Arabic rud meaning river. In Sanskrit, rudh (रुद्
) has to with weep, or flow and is probably also the source of the Arabic 'rud'. 'Bagha' is a appears in Indian river names such as 'Baghirathi' and in names such as 'Chandrabhaga', the ancient name of river Chenab.

Polybius mentions the river under the name of Macaras, which Gesenius considers to be its genuine Punic name, derived from Mokar, also called Melqart or Milkartu, the variation of the name Hercules in Tyrian and Akkadian tradition. Tyre was a the port city of ancient Lebanon.(Monumenta Phoenicia, p. 95).

And because its other names such as Bagrada and Madjerda are easily decoded by Sanskrit, a look at the name Macaras is essential as makk (मक्क) is Sanskrit for 'move' or 'go' and maybe interpreted as 'flow'. Makkara is a sea creature in Hindu mythology and is the vehicle of the river-goddess Ganga, Narmada and the sea-god Varuna.

That the Phoenicians, like the Greeks and Romans, assigned divine dignity to their rivers, is well known; but it may be worth while to notice the proof furnished, in this specific case, by the treaty of the Carthaginians with Philip, in which the rivers of the land are invoked among the attesting deities (Polyb. vii. Fr. 3).

The modern name Mejerdah furnishes one among many instances, in the geography of North Africa, in which the ancient Punic name Bagradas, corrupted by the Greeks and Romans, has been more or less closely restored in the kindred Arabic. (As stated in Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, illustrated by numerous engravings on wood by William Smith, LLD. London. Walton and Maberly, Upper Gower Street and Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row; John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1854.). However, it is Sanskrit that reveals the real meaning of all these names and above all provides a cultural context and richness to the names.

But why would there be a connection between Punic names and Sanskrit. Here is the story, but first information about Carthage from Wikipedia where it is stated that "the city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century BC on the coast of Northwest Africa, in what is now Tunisia, as one of a number of Phoenician settlements in the western Mediterranean created to facilitate trade from the city of Tyre on the coast of what is now Lebanon. The name of both the city and the wider republic that grew out of it, Carthage developed into a significant trading empire throughout the Mediterranean. The date from which Carthage can be counted as an independent power cannot exactly be determined, and probably nothing distinguished Carthage from the other Phoenician colonies in Northwest Africa and the Mediterranean during 800–700 BC. By the end of the 7th century BC, Carthage was becoming one of the leading commercial centres of the West Mediterranean region. After a long conflict with the emerging Roman Republic, known as the Punic Wars (264–146 BC), Rome finally destroyed Carthage in 146 BC. "

However Carthage which was established by the Phoenicians or the Panis had Vedic-Indic roots.
The names given to the Phoenicians, like Poeni by the Romans and Phoinike by the Greeks, resemble the Vedic terms Pani (पणि) meaning bargainer or trader, Paani (पाणि) meaning shop, Vani (वणी) and Vanik (वणिज् ) meaning bargainer and  trader. Many scholars have identified the Vedic Panis with the Phoenicians about whom a lot has been stated in the Rig Veda. 

The Panis were Vedic Hindu traders who were wealthy but did not either recognize the priest-class or did not pass on alms to the priest-class as was the tradition. They showed their disregard for the priests for which they were much disliked. The Panis are therefore not spoken of very highly in the Vedas. They were regarded as miserly, lowly, rude of language, cow thieves and were referred to as malecchas. They were ultimately driven away from the Sapta-Sindhu region for the same reason, their defeat was at the hands of Indra himself. With time the word Pani distorted to Kani and became the endonym that the Phoenicians gave themselves. They called themselves Kanana, or Canannites.

This is the story of the roots of the Phoenicians and the beginning of their journey from ancient India around the world. In his article titled 'The Panis of the Rig Veda and Script of Mohenjodaro and Easter Island', in the Journal of the Polynesian Society dated January 1938, vol. 3, part 2, the author N. M. Billimoria, on p 92-103 states, "I will give a very short history of the wanderings of the Panis and how they helped in the course of several years to spread such culture as they possessed over a large portion of the then known world.

"The Panis left Sapta-Sindu through sheer necessity. They first settled among the Cholas and Pandyas of Southern India; these aborigines learnt from the Panis the culture and spirit of navigation and trade. From this place they went to the coasts on the Persian Gulf, accompanied by the Cholas; there they settled down for generations; they were in constant communication with South India, became friendly with the aboriginal inhabitants and taught them their principal vocation—trade."

He further adds, "When after ages the colony was invaded by the uncivilized Semites the Panis moved on towards the north and settled on the sea-coast of Syria, which they called Phoenicia, or the land of the Panis or Panikas. This land gave them facilities to trade in the islands of the Greek Archipelago, South Europe, and North Africa. The Panis had several slaves with whose assistance they manufactured articles of trade; they became a prosperous and powerful people; they founded colonies in the islands of the M
Mediterranean and on the coasts of North Africa. Carthage was a Phoenician colony, and we know what part she played in South and Western Europe. In all the countries where the Panis settled they taught the original inhabitants the arts of civilized life. They traded by sea as far as the coast of Great Britain and ancient France and even Scandinavia, whose aborigines learnt from the Panis the use of metals and the art of agriculture. Thus the Panis or Phoenicians spread Aryan culture not only among the Semitic peoples of Western Asia and Arabia but also among the early pre-historic people of Egypt, North Africa, the Greeks, the Romans, the Iberians, the Celts, and the Gauls of Europe. It is said that the Phoenicians had settlements far up on the northern shores of Norway also, where they spread the worship of their god Baal."

Billimoria traces a brief history of the Panis. He stated that the Semites also, with the help of the Chaldeans who were originally the Cholas of South India, founded the famous kingdoms of Babylonia and Assyria, to which the early European civilization was greatly indebted. The ancient Egyptians, who are considered to be an amalgamation of the Punic race (the Panis), the Pandyas of the Malabar coast of South India, and the aboriginal inhabitants of the land, developed a civilization, which had great influence over European civilization. The Greeks received their culture from the Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians, and imparted it to the Romans, who in turn passed it on to the Iberians, the Celts, the Teutons, and Slavs.

In India, the defeat of the Panis is recorded in the Rig Veda. There are 36 verses in Rig Veda about the Panis, and the ones in Mandala VI refer to their defeat from the nobles who expected veneration from Pani - the traders. For example, Rigveda Book 6, Hymn 22.4 states, "There, Indra, while the light was won, the Paṇis fled, 'neath a hundred blows, for wise Dasoni."

We look at Billimoria's contention whether the Mesopotamian city of Babylon had any Indic links. The first clue comes from the Rig Vedic verses that state that Bribu was king of the Phanis and it is from the name Bribu that Babylon gets its name. Babylon's name occurs as Babili or Babil in the Akkadian texts. According to Vedic estimates Bribu must have lived around 5000BC. The available list of Baylonian kings available today only goes back to 1800 BC.

Babylonian cities include names such as Nippur, Borsippa, Sippar, Mari, Ellasar, Kutha, Sirpuria, Ashur, Nimrud, Ramad, Haradum, Nagar and Urkesh. A look at the names of these cities ancient reveal a Sanskritic link. 'Pur', 'Pura' or Puri' all mean city and are often added as the suffix to the name of any city, 'sara' is the suffix to cities that are located near water-bodies, Rama and Hara are names of Vedic gods, 'Nagar' means town, and 'kesha' is also a suffix to city names in India such as 'Rishikesh'. Nimrud's ancient name was Caleh or Kalakh, perhaps the name can be ultimately derived from Sanskrit 'kalil' (कलिल) meaning 'impenetrable' from which words such as Kila meaning fort are derived. Caleh or Kalakh was a fort city built by Shalmanesar 1 (1274-1245 BCE) an Assyrian king of the Phoenician stock.

Ancient Haran, located north of Euphrates River.
Haran is another name of Vedic God Shiva.
Sanskritic names on the map include a town

by the name 'Nagar' - Sanskrit for 'town'.
The ancient river names of Babylon too include Sanskritic names. One of the rivers of Babylon is the 'Karun'. 'Karun' (करुन) is Sanskrit for 'compassionate' or 'plaintive'. The other major river of Babylon is the Tigris. The Tigris has always been described as the 'swift river' as compared to the 'slow moving' Euphrates. The most common etymological source of the Tigris is the Sanskrit 'Vyagra' (व्याग्र) meaning 'tiger'. The Persian name for Tigris was Arvand-Rud. 'Arvan' (अर्वन्) in Sanskrit also means 'fast' or 'swift'. The Euphrates flows through Mesopotamia for some 1,700 miles (2,700 km) from its source in eastern Turkey to the Persian Gulf. Edward Pococke was of the view that the Greek name Euphrates is derived from the Sanskrit 'Su' and 'Bharat', after the name of the ancient king 'Bharat'. This may well have been so for the Akkadian name for the river was 'Purattu', probably a distortion of 'Bharat'. Fausset's Bible dictionary states that in the word Euphrates, the first syllable Eu, is derived from the Sanskrit Su (सु), which denotes 'good'; the second syllable denotes 'abundant'. The Sanskrit word for abundant is 'Purna' (पूर्ण). Hence Euphrates may be derived from the Sanskrit 'Su-Purna' (सुपूर्ण) meaning 'Good-Abundance'. 

The Babylonians and Assyrians called Euphrates 'Su-Purattu'. It was known as 'Purattu' in Akkadian and 'Puranti' in Hurrian, 'Puranti' may be linked to Sanskrit 'Purandhi' (पुरन्धि) which means 'bountiful' or 'abundant' and is therefore consistent with the meaning of its name given in Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 

These names indicate that even before the Phoenicians or Phani settled in Babylon, Vedic Hindus were perhaps travelling to these areas and had already colonized and named these lands. Or else, the Phoenician who spoke a lowly language or a lower form of Sanskrit for which they were ridiculed by the Vedic Hindus, in naming their new colonies and settlements, they too used the Sanskrit language, perhaps with the aim of upgrading themselves to the level of aryas or the nobility of the society from which they were driven away.

When the Pani started trading, the system of payment was barter. But because they travelled, barter was a cumbersome process. Eventually the Panis invented the first metal coin in about 1200 BC. It is therefore from 'pani' that the word 'money' is derived, though etymological dictionaries do not generally accept this derivation of the word 'money'. 

The Phoenician God Baala is referred to as Vala in the Rig Veda, whom Indra is supposed to have defeated and killed in the final battle between the Panis and Vedic Hindus. The Phoenicians were astute skills men and traders; and money was their only focus. Though they are known to have been practitioners of child sacrifice, it is generally believed that Phoenician carvings of what appear to be child sacrifice might have been misinterpreted. Current research reveals that the 6000 urns found in Cartharage - one of the Phoenician cities, are urns contain foetuses and bones of still born babies rather than of babies who have been sacrificed. There are no references to any child sacrifice by the Phoenicians or Panis in the Rig Veda either. However, the Hebrew Bible links the name of the Cannanite God Moloch to child sacrifice. The Hebrew Bible states that the Moloch derives from combining the consonants of the Hebrew melech (king) with the vowels of boshet (shame). In the Sanskrit tradition anyone who was not noble was a malecch, and the Vedic Hindus looked upon the Panis as malecchas. That tradition probably may have carried on in the Phoenician society too until the name maleccha emerged as Moleck and became the god of the Panis or Phoenicians.

Syria, another city where the Panis constructed settlements for themselves, mag derive its name either from Sanskrit 'Surya' or sun, or  from Sanskrit 'sura' meaning deity. The latter is more likely for in India the nobility or the deities were referred to as 'sura-s', and was a clan and association with it was much aspired f
or during the early Vedic times.

Another Phoenician city that the Panis developed was Carthage located on the coast of Northwest Africa, in what is now Tunisia. It was created to facilitate trade from the city of Tyre on the coast of Lebanon. Carthage developed into a significant trading empire throughout the Mediterranean. A sarcophagus found in Carthage depicts the hand gesture of a priest in an Indic blessing mudra.

At Lebanon, the name perhaps a distortion of the Sanskrit name Lavana, was built a majestic temple dedicated to the Phani God mentioned in the Rigveda - Vaal; or Baal as he later came to be called. The Phoenicians build this very Indic temple, known as Balbek on the pattern of temples in India. The ceilings of this temple were carved with lotuses much like the ancient temples of India. The lotus is not indigenous to Lebanon, and it is said that the skilled labour that constructed this massive temple with the help of elephants transported from India, also brought with them the design from the temples of India. In the Vedic tradition the lotus is sacred and is a symbol of wisdom, and is the highest offering that is made to god. Its occurrence on the ceilings of Balbek is therefore not just a design but an invocation of the offerings made to god.
A Sarcophagus of a priest. Carthage 4th century BC
The raised hand is typical blessings gesture of a Hindu priest
indicating a continued link of the Phoenicians 
with Vedic India - a land they had been driven away from.
The entrance of the Balbek Temple
is very Indic in design. Elaborate carvings on the 
entrance gate edges are commonly seen on Hindu or Vedic temples

Lotus motifs on the ceiling indicate a Vedic Hindu link.
Elaborate lotus carvings are the most common design in
Ancient Vedic temples.
The most ancient name of Lebanon first appeared in history around 4000 BC and is recorded in ancient Egyptian annals as 'Rmnn' - a reminder of the Hindu Vedic king Rama. Also the name Canaan appears as 'ki-na-ah-na' in the Amarna letters dated to 14th century BC and is a reminder of the name Kanan, another name of Sri Krishna. The names of Rama and Krishna appear as Ramah in the names of a few towns in Israel and the name of Krishna appears in the name of river Kishon in Israel.

The Phoenicians had continued association with India and this can be inferred from the fact that in the inscriptions, sculpture and carvings of Phoenician cities traces of Indic culture are still found. As far as the dates are concerned, Indian scholars have long argued that the Vedas, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are way older than western scholars have put forth in their theories. Hence, the Panis who's name appears in Vedas are way older than the rough dating of 2000 BC. Hence it is not surprising that the Panis have left their traces and those of Hindu deities like Indra, Rama and Krishna in ciites that are at least 4000 years old.Here is an artifact from the Phoenician city of Nimrud dated to 900 BCE. Nimrud was known by names such as Kalhu, Caleh and Calah. The city had been built on the location of an earlier Phoenician city under the reign of Shalmaneser I (1274-1245 BCE) but had become dilapidated over the centuries and Ashurbanipal II rebuilt the city later. The Assyrian Empire was ruled from Kalhu from 879-706 BC. Both the names, Assyria and the name of the Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, derive from the Sanskrit Asura or demons, those who were driven away by the devatas, the deities. In the Vedic tradition all those who were defeated by the devatas were asuras. In this case one must refer to the Vedas which state that the Panis were defeated by Indra devata himself and came to be associated with the name asura.

An artifact from the Phoenician city of Nimrud or 
what was known as Kalhu or Caleh, dated to 900BC. 
The tile is identified as that of Ashurbanipal II with his attendants. 
But it is obvious that this artifact depicts the lore of Sri Rama, Sita and Laxman 
of the Ramayana.

Saturday, 29 August 2020


Sanskritic words are found in the names of forgotten places, their history lost completely. For example not much is known about Egypt's Jebel Gattar. The following description has been taken from the Red Sea Mountain Trail website which describes its beauty. It states, "A gigantic labyrinth of granite peaks and winding ravines, there is no place like it in Egypt, perhaps even the world. Jebel Gattar does not refer to a single summit, but to a bigger massif with different districts. Gigantic horns, pinnacles, teeth and fangs tower high in some areas - giving Jebel Gattar an aggressive, foreboding feel - whilst in others, whaleback summits and high, rounded domes give it a more gentle character... Its wadis, gorges and ravines are just as magical too. Deep, green pools of water gather here and for months after rain, creeks trickle between them through dense thickets of greenery. Jebel Gattar is home to mountain springs that never run dry. For millennia, its water has sustained people and animals of this harsh desert."

Jebel Gattar perhaps gets its name from the Sanskrit 'ghata'.
Jebel Gattar is home to the Nagaata springs.
Naga is Sanskrit for 'spring'.

Where might Jebel Gattar gets its name and where do the names of its many springs, especially the perennial Nagaata which provides water to this entire region through the year, emerge from. In Arabic or old Egyptian there is no meaning to the word Gattar. Hence we look at the closest Sanskrit cognate 'ghaata' (घाट) where 'ghaata' means a  mountainous range dividing countries.  Ghata also has the meaning of a pass or difficult passage over a hill. Additionally it also means a quay, wharf, stairs, landing-place (on banks of rivers or tanks) which best describe the topography of this land. Just like the Western Ghats in India that traverse along the Indian Peninsula and run parallel to the coast of the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea Mountain range, of which  Jebbel Gattar in the most spectacular part, runs along the coast southwards to Ethiopia. Perhaps the name 'Ghat' travelled to Egypt from India and appeared in the name of Jebbel Gattar.  However, by itself one name does not establish the Sanskritic roots to this name.

It is the name Nagaata springs of the Gattar range which supports that the name Gattar may also have Sanskritic links. The word Naga appears in the names of waterbodies around the world. There is the Alur Naga Waterfalls on Mount Jerai in Malaysia, the Naga Falls of Lachung in Sikkim, Naga city on the serpentine river Naga in Phillipines which has many hot springs and geysers, Nagato in Japan which is home to five hot springs. Then there is the Niigata city in Japan, the etymology of who's name is unknown and the meaning of the word Niigata is lost but has varied from lagoon, to bay, to island etc. Nagasaki, that translates as long cape from Japanese lies on the head of a long bay. In other parts of the world there is the Nagralla reservoir in Sudan, the Naagramtayan and Nagrantayan creeks in Phillipines, Nagssuit Bay in Greenland, the Nagtoralik ancient site in Greenland, the Naguak Lake in Canada, the Nagualapa river in Nicaragua, the Nagubi stream in Georgia, the Nagugan Lake in the Kanektok Watershed in Alaska and Nagawicka Lake in Waukesha County in Wisconsin - both in the United States, the Naguler stream in Uganda, the Nagum stream in Kenya, etc.

Naguak Lake, Nunavat, Canada
Naguat Lake, Nunavat, Canada

In his paper 'The Aboriginal Names of Rivers' written in 1886, Rev. Peter MacPherson states, "Looking to other languages of the world, we have the nasal in the Shemitic ngahyin, a fountain. This is the word which shortened into ain and en, so often indicates the locality of wells in books of Eastern travel. Ayun Moosa are the wells of Moses. There is Sungei, a river, in Javanese; arung, to wade through water, in Malay, also ongagu, a river, and ngusor. In Maori, there are, ngaehi, tide; ngaeki, swamp, and ngongi, water." From the Australian Gazetteer MacPherson quotes two names, the Nagha Lake and the Nagung that he says is water in George's River area, perhaps the river's ancient name.

American Linguist William Bright, who was also an Indologist and was a linguistic scholar at the Deccan College in Poona, now Pune, India, and had studied the native cultures in Mexico and India, listed some names with Naga as the prefix in his work 'Native American Placenames of the United States', including the Nagawicka Lake in Wisconsin, Nageethluk River at Alaska, Nagishlamina Lake in Alaska, Nagooltee Peak, Nagugun Creek, Alaska and Nagyagat Mountain at Goodnews Bay in Alaska. Amongst these only two names, Nagooltee which translates as 'rain' from the Western Apache Athabaskan language, and Nagugun as 'river the others meet' from the Yupik Eskimo language; seem to have something to do with water in the local language.

However, in his paper, Similarities between the Asiatic and American Indian Languages, published in October 1960 in the International Journal of American Linguistics author Tadeusz Milewski pointed out similarities between the cultures of the American peoples before the coming of the whites and that of Asia and Oceania. He states, "It results from either mutual contacts or independent but parallel evolution....Moreover it may be interesting to note the same coincidences are found in the sphere of linguistic facts. Striking structural similarities whose origin may be conceived in different ways occur between some Asiatic and American Indian Languages."

He further states, "According to generally accepted hypothesis ancestors of the American Indians was Asia and they reached America by crossing the narrow and often frozen Bering Straits. As the sheet retreated different nomadic hunting tribes moved from Central Asia to the north, came to Bering Straights and having crossed over the ice and reached the coast of Alaska.... These facts prove that the primitive peoples of America brought with them the languages they had spoken earlier in Asia. .". The author adds, "The similarities between the languages are too complex and too numerous to be the result of parallel and independent development."

The fact is that Naga (नाग) a Sanskrit word, has two meanings, the one more common is 'snake' and appears in the names of ancient temples like the Nageshwara Temple of Karnataka;  the other is 'water spring' which appears in the names of waterbodies around the world. The word occurs in India in the names of springs such as 'Anatanag' meaning 'never ending springs', and, 'Verinag' which is the source of the river 'Vitasta', the Puranic name of the river Jhelum. 

Pandit Anand Koul states in his 'Archaeological Remains in Kashmir' (1930) on page 98 as quoted in Wikipedia, "According to a legend, goddess Vitasta wanted to take rise from this spring, but it happened that when she came, Shiva was staying here, whereupon she had to go back and then she took her rise from Vithavatur (Vitastatra), a spring about a mile to the north-west of this place. Virah in Sanskrit means to 'go back' and 'nag' means a water spring and, as Vitasta had to go back from this place, it came to be called Virahnag or 'Vernag'. This spring is also considered to be the residing place of Nilanaga, who is placed by ancient tradition, at the head of all Nagas or spring-deities of Kashmir."

Naga also occurs in the name of Sheshanaga lake of Kashmir and carries both the meanings - serpent and water spring. And much like the nagas around the world, Nagaata in Egypt too, it is quite evident, gets its name from the Sanskrit 'naga' meaning 'waterspring'.

Sunday, 23 August 2020


In his book 'Travels in various parts of Peru', which is a description of his voyage to Peru in the 1830s, the author Edmond Temple came to the conclusion with regard to the physical appearance or the phenotype of people of various sects and tribes of Peruvians that it is "a circumstance which supports the theory that these parts of South America were originally peopled from the shores of the Eastern world." page 378.

Edward Moor remarks about the above theory in his book 'Oriental Fragments' (1834), "Whatever support such theory may hitherto have found, yet stronger will, I think, be derived from a comparative consideration of the remains of the earlier languages of both South and North America, still extant in the old names of rivers, mountains, towns".

It may be concluded that the physical appearance, and the remnants of the ancient languages spoken in this part of the world, and their festivals. indicates that there was a link to the Eastern world.

Moor further observes that if one were to skim the place names in Mexico and Peru with this views many confirmations of the above theory might occur, a subject dealt here, and here.

On the cultural aspect Moor makes a note of one such example and states, "Rama is also found in other points to resemble the Indian Bacchus. He is, notwithstanding his lunar appellation of Ramachandra, fabled to be a descendant of the sun. His wife's name is Sita; and it is very remarkable that the Peruvians, whose Incas boasted of the same descent, styled their great festival Ramasitoa".

These names appear as Raymi and Citua today in the Incan calendar of festivals though the etymology of these names and their cultural links are forgotten. Here is a full list of the Incan festivals:
The Incan calendar had 12 months of 30 days, with each month having its own festival, and a five-day feast at the end, before the new year began. The Incan year started in December, and began with Capac Raymi.
Gregorian Month
Inca Month
Ayrihua or Camay Inca Raymi
Aymoray qu or Hatun Cuzqui
Inti Raymi
Coya Raymi and Citua
K'antaray or Uma Raymi
Capac Raymi
Fast and Panitence
Great Ripening
Earth Ripening
Festival of the Inca
Feast of the Sun
The Harvest Festival
Sowing Month
Festival of the Moon
Month of Crop watching
Festival of the Dead
Magnificent Festival
List of festivals, courtesy Ancient Inca Empire at

In a charge delivered by Dr. Richard Watson (1737- 1816), a Christian cleric, an author and Lord Bishop of Llandaff, to the clergy of the archdeaconry of Ely in May, 1780, are many curious and shrewd observations on oriental usages. He notices 'a string of customs wholly the same amongst people so far removed from each other as the Egyptians and Peruvians'.

The Egyptian women, Watson sais, "make sacred cakes of flour, which they offered to the queen of heaven at their principal solar festivals called Raymi and Citua: the Peruvian women did the same. Almost all the customs described as common to those distant people, the Egyptians and Peruvians, as well as that quoted, are Hindu customs; ancient and existing."

The sun god in Egypt too was Ra, perhaps a truncated form of the name Ram, his consort was Satet, the goddess of fertility who also goes by the names Setet, Sathit, Satit, Sati, Setis, Sethat,and Satis which are all cognates of the name Sita, the wife of Lord Rama in the Indian tradition, which explains the name Citua.

Edward Moor makes another observation from the writings of Pietro della Valle (1586-1652), an Italian composer, musicologist, and author who travelled throughout Asia during the Renaissance period. His travels took him to the Holy Land, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and India.

Moor states,"Having mentioned the faithful Sita one of the most interesting females in Hindu poetics, I will here note though confessedly not much in place that the alike interesting Sitti Maani, so pathetically mentioned by the traveller Pietro Bella Valle, and described as an Assyrian girl, would, from her name, lead one to think that she must have been a Hindu, rather than a Mahomeddan though she is said to have been born in Baghdad. Sitamani is Hindi."

Records from Pietro Valle's writings say that Sitti Maani Gioerida was an Assyrian Christian girl that he had married who died while Pietro Valle was still on his voyage and carried the corpse in a lead box till he arrived back in England. Moor laments that Pietro Valle did not research enough to find out the antecedents of Sitti Maani, her antecedents and her ancestry to find why she was given such a name, which is more Indic than Assyrian.

Monday, 17 August 2020


Wikipedia states, "Mount Vesuvius is a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples, Italy, about 9 km east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and originally much higher structure." A caldera is a cauldron shaped depression caused by the implosion of the top of the cone. Mount Somma is an integral part of the Somma-Vesuvius volcanic complex. It is 1,132 metres (3,714 ft) high.

Mt. Somma the semi-circular shaped range with 
Mt. Vesuvius in the centre.

Mount Somma is the remnant of a large volcano, out of which the peak cone of Mount Vesuvius has grown. Currently, Mount Somma appears to be spread in a semicircle around the north and northeast of Vesuvius.

About the etymology of the names Somma and Vesuvius Edward Moor stated in his book 'Oriental Fragments' in 1854, "Soma, or Somma, be it remembered, is a name of Vesuvius ; a truly Siva-ic mount or rather of its parent; for Vesuvius is by some authorities reckoned the summit or cone only - Soma as the base, and the older name."

Edward Moor saw a link between the naming of the Mt. Somma of Naples and Mt. Soma on the Sumbawa island of Sumatra as well as alink with the lore of Vedic god Lord shiva. He stated, "In Sanskrit Soma-bhava would mark the parental relationship; and such is the name currently altered to Sambawa of one of the most active and energetic of existing volcanoes one of, perhaps, ten times the potency and terrific extent of destructiveness of Vesuvius. I now speak of Sambawa, as described by Sir Stamford Raffles and others, in the eastern seas, where this lunar parentage seems extensive including,
perhaps, Sumatra."  Mt. Sambhawa is now known as Mt. Tambora located on the Sumbhawa island of Indonesia. Soma is also Sanskrit for moon, and Shiva is known as Somanath, or lord of the moon.

Prior to the eruption of 79 AD, Mount Vesuvius had a long historic and mythical tradition. The mountain was considered a divinity, and was related with serpent imagery. This has been seen preserved in the frescoes from Pompeii. In the Vedic tradition the serpent Vasuki, dedicated to Lord Shiva or Somanath, is his constant companion. In the saga of the churning of the Ocean of Milk, Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the nagaraja or 'King of Serpents' who abides on Shiva's neck, became the churning rope.

During the churning Vasuki emitted poisonous flames from its mouth and perhaps that corresponds to the lava emitting from Mt. Vesuvius. In Roman mythology it is said that the Romans regarded a serpent called Vesuvius as a devotee of the demigod Hercules and it was after the snake that the mountain was named.

The etymology of the name is explained by various words such as the Indo-European root 'eus' meaning shine, or root 'wes' meaning 'hearth'. Both these words appear in Sanskrit as 'as' (अस) or 'light', and 'vasa' (वास) 'dwell'. The semi-circular shape of Mt. Somma can be equated with the semi-circular or half-moon that appears in the locks of Shiva.

Somma is the older name of the entire mountain. 
After the eruption of 79AD the centre cone collapsed.
It is then the name Vesuvius was given to it.

Sunday, 16 August 2020


Mainstream sources trace the origin of the name Canada to the word 'kanata', a Native American word used by the First Nations, meaning 'settlement', 'village', or 'land'. 'First Nations' comprise of a group of Native American tribes that have been inhabiting the North American continent since antiquity).

Two theories have been put forth. It is said that either the word 'Canada' stems from the Mohawk word 'kanata' or from the Iroquoian word 'canada'. The two words hold the same meaning in both the languages - 'hut', 'village' or 'settlement'. Related translations include "land" or "city", with successive terminology meaning "housing group" or "set of huts".

The question that is being dealt with here is whether there is any link between the Sanskrit language and Native American languages? In 1909, a lady by the name of Mrs. Helen Troy, was initiated into the Onondaga Native American tribe. Mrs. Troy and her mentor, Mrs. Isaac Thomas - the daughter of a Mohawk chief, had “delved deeply into the fascinating mythology of the Indians, of which comparatively little is known.” Troy and Thomas were both reportedly working on “a dictionary of the languages of the Six (Iroquious) Nations.” Their compilation of Onondaga and Mohawk words was said to total 30,000. On completion of the manuscript, Mrs. Troy made this observation, “There exists no doubt that the mythology of the Iroquois antedates that of the Greeks and Romans, and in fact all other peoples just as their language does that of the Hebrews and all others.” She further claimed “that Onondaga, the mother of all the languages, mothered also Sanskrit.” She had indeed found Sanskrit and Onondago languages to be closely linked.

With that fact in mind here is a look at the word 'kanata' from which the name 'Canada' is said to be derived. The word Kana: ta' means 'city' in Mohawk, and related words include ganataje and iennekanandaa in the Onondaga and Seneca languages, respectively. It is the Onondaga word 'ganataje' which decodes all the names above and establishes a link with Sanskrit.

Gana (गण) is Sanskrit for 'group', 'tribe' or 'band'. It is this word that appears in the Onondaga 'ganataje', and it is this 'gana' that appears as distortions in the Mohawk word 'Kanata', and the Seneca 'ienne-kanandaa'. As per Grimm's Law, this shift in sounds is represented by the chain gʷʰ > gʷ > kʷ > xʷ.

In the Sanskrit names, the prefix 'gana' appears in words such 'ganarajyaa', meaning 'republic' and is visible in the Onondaga 'ganataje'.

The name Quebec too seems to have Sanskritic links. The name Quebec, first bestowed on the city in 1608 and derived from an Algonquian word meaning “where the river narrows'. Quebec appears to have some links with the Sanskrit 'kumbha (कुंभ) meaning 'a lake', 'pool' or 'pond'. Kubha is also the name of a Rigvedic river.

The Sanskritic nuance to these names of the Quebec territory was not lost to Indologists such as Edward Moore who wrote in his book Oriental Fragments published in 1854, ""Maranon is the native name of the River Amazon - Madawaska, that of St. John's - it runs through the finely named Tanaskwata lake before it loses itself into the Atlantic. Kamoursaka is the ancient native name of the country and river between Quebec and St. John's: & thereabout is the town formerly called Michilimackinack. Trivial alteration in the vowel sounds of these names will convert them into Sanskrit looking and Sanskrit sounding and Sanskrit meaning words....".

Here is a look at the name 'Madawaska' through the Sanskrit lens. 'Mada' (मदा) means both 'river' and 'honey' or 'something that intoxicates', 'vaska' (वस्क) is 'motion', 'Madawaska' is therefore 'flowing water' or 'honey-river' or 'intoxicated river'. 'Intoxicated river' is the most apt for twice a day the river 'reverses' and flows backwards - the movement forced by the world's highest tides from the Bay of Fundy!

The 'Madavaska' also called St. John's River in
Quebec reverses its direction of flow during high tides. Madavaska is Sanskrit for 'intoxicated waters'

The Madawaska River flows from lake Tamiscouta. 'Tamaskwata' as Edward Moor had spelt it, or 'Temiscouta' as it is spelt today is an interesting name. One may link the name to either 'tapaskvata' or 'tamaskvata' - 'tapas' (तपस) in the Vedic tradition has to do with 'purification of the soul through asceticism' or refers to something arduous or difficult to achieve - it is said that the extremely long lake was a difficult barrier for those trying to cross it. A nearby parish is called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! Legend has it that 'Ha Ha' refers to the unexpected obstacles for those travelling across.

As for the word 'tamas', Tamasa was the river on the banks of which Sri Rama, his brother Lakshmana and Sita along with many other Ayodhyaites spent the first night of the 14-year forest exile. The suffix 'kwata' or 'couta' may either be derived from 'kavan' (कवन) 'water' or 'kuvam' (कुवम) sun'.

Temiscouta Lake may derive its
name from the Sanskrit 'Tapas' or 'Tamas'.

'Kamoursaka' or 'Kamourska' is probably related to the Sanskrit word 'Kumar' (कुमार) which has to with a 'young person' or a 'price' and is even the name of the 'God of War' of the Vedic tradition.
Kumourska is the stretch of land between
Quebec and St. John's.

In the Vedic tradition Kumārasū (कुमारसू) is an epithet of Godess Parvati. It is also the name of the river Ganges and an epithet of Agni.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020


The Sarita River Watershed in British Columbia is the heart of Huu-ay-aht First Nations and is the most important of the 35 streams and rivers in the nations’ traditional territory. Surrounded by giant cedars the Sarita River was one of the most productive salmon rivers in Barkley Sound in Vancouver, and, since time immemorial, the Sarita and surrounding watersheds replete with many waterbodies have sustained the Huu-ay-aht.

Generally, the etymology of the name Sarita is traced to the Spanish sarita interpreted as princess, however it the Sanskrit 'sarita' that explains the name and the geography of this region in a more appropriate manner. Sarit (सरित्) which means 'good flow, creek, spring, brook, river, and ocean or anything that flows', is the name of the river Ganges or Ganga itself. The region of the Sarita river in BC is also surrounded by a creek, lake and waterfall which have the same name.

Lake Sarita, British Columbia, Canada

Sarita is an extension of the Sanskrit 'sara' (सर) which means 'spring' or 'brook' or 'waterbody' in general is used in the names of towns or villages which are located on or around a spring. The word 'sara' appears in the name of the city of Saratoga in New York. Saratoga is known for its mineral springs. Its name 'Saratoga' is believed to be a corruption of a Native American word in Mowahk language meaning 'water springs'.

But there is a link to Sanskrit. To people who are familiar with the language, the native names in this region seem uncannily familiar. Here is the reason. First, 'sara' (सर) is used in the names of towns or villages which are located on or around a spring in many parts of the world such as Amritsara in India and Ramsar in Iran. The suffix 'ga' in the name Saratoga does not occur in isolation in the Americas. Rivers such as the Cuyahoga in Ohio or the Shequaga in New York sport the same suffix which occurs in the names of world rivers such as the Volga and the Ganga. In both these names the suffix 'ga' is interpreted to mean 'moving' or 'going'.

Saratoga Lake 

Neither does the Sanskritic name Sarita appear in isolation in British Columbia. The longest river here is now called the Columbia and is named so by American sailor Robert Gray, who was the first to explore this river and its region, who named it after his ship, the Columbia Rediviva. In antiquity the Columbia was known as Wimahl or Wimal, which may be corelated with the Sanskrit 'vimal' (विमल), pure, pristine, clear.

Columbia rises in the Rocky Mountains in northwest Canada The name of the mountains is a translation of an Amerindian name that is closely related to Algonquian, the Cree name as-sin-wati is given as, "When seen from across the prairies, they looked like a rocky mass". Intriguingly Akurvati is the name of a rocky hill mentioned in the Ramayana.

Another river, the Okanagan, rises in southern British Columbia, issuing out of the southern end of Okanagan Laake. It is said that the river takes its name from the Okanagan place name ukwnaqín. 'Nag' and 'nagan' are Sanskritic in nuance and refer to places of origin of rivers in India, or else to water springs. In British Columbia the word occurs once again in the name of Shawinigan Lake, where the word naga or nagan changes to nigan.

Early maps of the fur trade era, corresponding to the 1500s show the Okanagan River as the Caledonia River. The word 'Cala' or its cognates occur in names of English and Scottish rivers especially if they have something to do with black. Edward Moor states in his book "Oriental Fragments', "Cala is not an uncommon name for a river in regions very distant from each other meaning, where a meaning can be traced, black. The river Blackwater runs near Colchester...".

Referring to the name Kalinadi, another name for Yamuna in India, Moor states," (It is) a Sanskrit compound name of more than one river in India; best translated by Black-river, or Black-water ; and the name of more than one (river) in Britain". His estimate was that near the Colne and Blackwater rivers, archaeological excavations and time must reveal ancient sites or temples.

Moor was intrigued by what what Pausanius, an ancient Greek traveller and writer, had noticed in the town of Kalamata - that is, a temple of the Syrian goddess! The temple of Syri, Edward Moor says, could really have been the temple of Kali or Parvati! Syri is a cognate of the Vedic name Sri, which is yet another name of Kali!! Hence the name of the town - Kalamata!!! The Okanagan people called themselves the Syilx.

About Scotland Moor states, "In Scotland I could find many Kalic-isms, as the recent spelling of Caledonia may lead us to infer. I have before hinted that Kali-dun is the Hill of Kal, Caldew a name of Siva, Cal another.... ". Read Caldew as Kala-deva, and Cal as Kal. The same names were used by the Europeans to rename rivers and mountains in the Americas and appear in many native place names.

Legends around the name Siva may not have been unknown in the Native American tradition. For example, Siwash Rock, also known by its Squamish name Skalsh' is a famous rock outcropping in Vancouver. Siwash is a Chinook Jargon word. A legend among the Indigenous Squamish people surrounds the rock This name refers to the story of a man called Siwash or Skalsh transformed by Xaays, a spirit being who could transform people as a reward for their unselfishness.

The Squamish name Xayaas has two more versions, in Halkomelem the name is Xaːls or Xayetm and in Lummi the name of the Transformer is Xelas, sometimes Xeʼlas. All these names seem to be a variations of the name Shiva. Though Siwash is said to etymologically stem from the French equivalent of the word 'savage', the rest of the story is too close to the lore of Shiva. Besides why would the natives revere someone that they would have equated with a savage. What adds to the lore is the fact that the Siwash rock was in known times always naturally adorned by a Douglas fir atop the rock, much like the topknot of Shiva.

Siwash Rock, Vancouver , Canada

But now back to the name 'sara'. Other examples in the United States include the Saranac Lakes in the state of New York. There are three of them, and go by the names of the Upper, Middle and Lower Saranac. The region was occupied for centuries by Iroquoian speaking people and before them by other indigenous people.

There is also a river by the name Saranac which is an 81-mile-long river. In its upper reaches is a region of mostly flat water and lakes. The river has more than three dozen source lakes and ponds north of Upper Saranac Lake. In other words the entire area is replete with waterbodies.

Wood Creek in Central New York State was also known as Ka-ne-go-dic but its most ancient known name is Os-sa-ra-gas or Osaragas. The Sanskrit sara once again appears in this name.

Suggested Readings:

1. The Sarita River- Huu-ay-aht First Nations
6. . Native names of Canadian Mountains
7. List_of_place_names_in_Canada_of_Indigenous_origin

Wednesday, 29 July 2020


It is the aim of this post to review the names that the ancients have given to the rivers, streams and waters, or to towns near rivers or lakes of the land that they occupied. More specifically, it is the purpose of this post to discover any principles if discoverable, on the basis of which these names are given. It is also the purpose of this post to establish that the aboriginal, or the ancient most known names of all the major rivers around the world converge to the same few Sanskrit root words or their variations

In this inquiry the focus will also be on the question whether the ancients around the world followed the same general principles in naming rivers and other bodies which are found to prevail in Sanskrit river names of India.

The focus is on countries and cultures where a large number of languages were spoken by different tribes such as in the Native American cultures, and diverse communities within a limited territory such as in Nigeria, and also territories which had an extensive aboriginal population such as in Australia.

To make a beginning, a selection of six root words are take from those that were examined by Reverend MacPherson in his paper, The Aboriginal Names of Rivers in Australia Philologically Examined, in 1886. These root words carry the meaning either of river, or water, or flow, or fluid, or river banks, in the aboriginal languages of Australia are being investigated to see if they have their origins in Proto-Indo-European, in particular the Sanskrit language. It is also the aim to check how many ancient river names around the world have their names based on these few root words. The selected roots include 'ambh' (अम्भ) or water, fluid, or juice; 'apa' a' (अप्) or river; 'kula' (कूल) or 'river', river names with variations of the word kula, or town names with the suffix 'kula' or its 'variations', 'ganga' (गंग )with the root word 'gang' or some variation of it, meaning 'swift' along with its suffix 'ga' meaning to 'go', 'move' or 'flow', sindhu (सिंधु) meaning river and 'sara' (सर) also meaning river or lake.

The first imitative root word chosen as the basis of this study is 'ambh', meaning, water or juice, sometimes linked to the meaning of mango which in Sanskrit is aamra (आम्र) but is related to 'ambh'. In his paper, The Aboriginal Names of Rivers in Australia Philologically Examined, Rev. Peter Macpherson, makes the observation, "Proceeding tentatively then with the letter m, is it to be found embodied in root words meaning water within the four corners of Australia? To this question there is the answer that the simple form amu, meaning water, is found in the region of the Ballonne. At Rockingham Bay the form hammoo is found also meaning water'. Here, there can be no doubt, the same root is concerned, although the m is doubled and the word is increased by the addition of an aspirate at the beginning. In Victoria such forms as ununut and ammitch for sea are found. Here then are tolerably plain evidences that the letter m, as a matter of fact, was used by the aborigines as in some way specially fitted to occupy a place in words intended to represent water. "

Turning now to the Indian-Sanskritic texts there we find the root word ambh (अम्भ) meaning 'water', appear in the names of river Ambi in Maharashtra and river Ambika in Gujarat. Out of India we find ambh appear in the names of Amburayan river in Phillipines, river Amber in United Kingdom, Reka Ambarnaya in Russia, and the Yamba in Australia. Samba is a river town in Jammu province of India, located on the river Basantar, earlier called Vasantara. The Sambre is a river in northern France. Then there is the sea port of Colombo in Sri Lanka, its name derived from Sanskrit 'Kola' and 'amba' (अम्भ), with amba either translated as 'water' or sometimes as 'mango' from the local Singhala language, though it is the same as the Sanskrit 'aamra' (आम्र) 'mango'; kola or 'kula' (कूल) is sea or waterbody. Then there is the river Jambi in Sumatra or the Chambeshi in Zambia, the name Zambia itself an extension of the name Ambh. Another example is the Wamba river in Congo which is known as the Uamba in Angola.

Then there is the river Gambia in the country of Gambia or river town Gambhu on the river Mwanza. On the map of Tanzania you see river names such as the Gombhe and the Limba as well as the Pemba Island and the Pemba Channel.

A major river in Peru is the Urubamba. Urvi (उर्वी) in Sanskrit has many meanings such as 'soil, earth, heaven & earth, wide region, river and earth'. Bamba is an extension of amba (अम्बा). On the left bank of the river 'Patakancha' (पातकंचन), Sanskrit for 'Descending Gold' or 'Flowing Gold' lies the ancient town of Ollantaytambo famous for its temples and agricultural terraces. Though the ancient South American, including pre-Incan, pre-Mayan & pre-Aztec civilizations, practiced terrace farming extending from the villages of Chihuaahua to Chile, no where did the art of agricultural terrace farming reach the excellence that it did at Ollantay-tambo, where, the terraces were built to a standard higher than any other town. Ollantay appears to be a variation of 'alinda' (आलिन्द) or 'allindaka' (अलिन्दक) both mean 'terrace' or 'balcony', tambo a variation of amba. In the ancient Native American language Aimara, also called Aymara, 'Ullan-tavi' means 'looking down from', a variation of 'looking down from a height or terrace', of Sanskrit 'aalindak'.

Miles Poindexter (April 22, 1868 – September 21, 1946), an American politician who served as a United States Representative, a United States Senator and also as the Ambassador of the United States to Peru made the following observation, "There is nothing strange in the fact that much of the religious mythology of the Mexicans and Peruvians was undoubtedly of Asiatic origin when it is considered that all of our religions come from Asia....Both the Inca and Mayan civilizations, even their languages, had much in common with our own, inherited from the same common far eastern Cradle-land of the race....America in race and culture was but an extension of Asia, and it is said that in pre-glacial times it was geographically so...The name Asia itself appears on the Peruvian coast, south of Lim."

Around the world 'Ambh' appears in the name of Ambarra river in Tamil Naidu. There is the Ambarnaya in Siberia that flows into Lake Pyasino, pyan (प्यान) is Sanskrit for sea. There is the River Amba in Primorsky Krai in Russia near its border with China. Then there is the river Amba that flows in the Nasarawa state in Nigeria. There is also the Anambra in Nigeria, the Quicombo in Angola. Then there is the town of Cochababmba in Bolivia, the Pernambuco state in Brazil, Ambato in Ecuador, and Lambayeque and Moyobambo in Peru.

We now look at some Malay names which are variations of 'ambh' that Mcpherson had presented. There is the Ombak, which means wave, and has its source in the Sanskrit ' urmi' (उर्मि). Then there is 'kumbah', to wash, its source is most certainly the Sanskrit 'kumb' (कुम्भ) meaning 'jar' or 'pitcher', then there is 'tumba', 'to draw water' which is the same as the Sanskrit 'dambha' (दम्भ) or 'to collect'. In south of India, in the Dravadian area 'uma is water.

But perhaps the name ambh appears most in the Australian aboriginal names of rivers and creeks and streams such as Amby River and Einbo Creek, Uamby Creek, Wambo Ponds, Combo Creek, Vecomba Lake, Mowamba River, Wallombi Brook, Yarimba Creek. Also, it is this combination of 'rnb' with 'ambh' which supplies some of the most stately forms for names of streams, as Wararnba and Warragamba Rivers. Also, such a name as Tumby Island in South Australia, illustrates the fact that root-words for water are perhaps used to denote islands and promontories. 'Rambh' (रम्भ) is Sanskrit for 'sound' or 'roar'.

Another variation of the word 'ambh' is Sanskrit 'ambhu' (अंभु) meaning 'water' or 'cloud' and and appears in river names around the world such as the Dambhu, also called the Dambhuvita in Romania. There is a river town called Ambutirtha on the river Sharavathi river in Karnataka in India. There is the Ambu Lapcha Glacier in Nepal.

Addition of liquid letters such as l, n, r generates other such names as the Ambur, a town situated on the river Palur between Chennai and Bangaluru in India. There is River Amber, the left bank tributary of the River Derwent in Derbyshire, England. It gives its name to the borough of Amber Valley. The name Amber is said to be a pre-Celtic word with uncertain meaning, but it can be easily explained by the Sanskrit root word 'ambh'. There is a river Amber in Botswana flowing into the Machaba Gomoti plains and then into the Okavango Delta. Gomoti (गोमती) too has a Sanskrit nuance, there is a river by this name in India, and means 'that which abounds in cattle'. Mountains which are the source of most rivers too bear the name 'ambh' in different forms such as the 'Amambai' in Paraguay.

The root word 'ap' (अप्) or water in Sanskrit too appears in river names in different forms such as the Persian 'ab', Celtic 'abh', Turkish 'abi', be' and 'bu' in African dilects, while in South American dialects they appear as 'beai; and 'eubi'. In the west of Europe, numerous streams whose names end in p are understood to embody the same root: thus Barop, Lennep, Oppa.

From the Amambai Mountains of Paraguay originates the river Apa. The Barazauta in Romania is also known as Apa Rosie in its upper course. There is the Aba river in Nigeria.

The root 'apa' also quite often merges with another root word 'apara' (अपार) which means 'distant', 'across' or 'river bank' or 'the river bank across the river'. In the Vedic tradition 'apara' has a deeper meaning. It is equated with boundless, unlimited, and interminable. 'Ra' is also earth, 'apara' therefore is 'carrying over the boundless earth or sea'.

'Apu' (आपू) a variation of above mentioned 'apa' means 'to flow forward after purification', 'to purify' or 'flow forward in a course as a stream'. The form 'Apurima' (आपूरिमा) would covert the verb 'Apu' into a noun or pronoun of feminine gender, which aptly describes a river.

There is the Apurimac river in Peru which can be explained by the above names. Even if the word Apurimac is split into two words 'Apu' (आपू) and 'Ramac' (रमक) it still makes perfect sense in Sanskrit. 'Apu' (आपू) as mentioned above means 'to flow forward after purification', and, 'ramak' (रमक) means 'sporting, dallying, toying amorously' - again an apt description for a flowing river. Another variation 'Aparamak' roughly translates as 'dallying flowing water'. 'Aparima' (अपरिमा) means 'that which is immense or immeasurable' - which could be a reference to the size of the 'Aparimac'.

Then there is the Para river in Brazil. There is also the Pará, estado (state) of northern Brazil through which the lower Amazon River flows to the sea. It is bounded to the north by Guyana, Suriname, and the Brazilian state of Amapá. The name Amapa contains both the Sanskrit root words, 'ambh' in its truncated form 'am', and the root 'apa'. There is an Okpara river in Nigeria.

A look at the name Dnieper, the fourth longest river in Europe, that flows through Ukraine and Belarus where one sees the root 'apa' as 'eper'. Then there is the Danube, the second longest river in Europe, which was known as 'Danu Apara' or the 'distant river' to the Scythians in their language. The prefix 'danu' (दानु ) is also Sanskritic and means 'dew drops' or 'fluid'. The Danube was also known as Istros or 'fast flowing' in ancient Greece, same as the Sanskrit (इषिरम्) or 'swift'.

Then on the other side of the world there is the Little Para River, a seasonal creek running across the Adelaide Plains in the Australian state of South Australia, whose etymology is traced to the aboriginal Kaurna language where 'pari' means 'a stream of flowing water'.

The forms 'apa' and 'para' appear together in the name of the Apure River is a river of southwestern Venezuela, formed by the confluence of the Sarare and the Uribante. The Sanskrit root word 'sara' (सर) or lake appears in the name of the Sarare. On the map of Venezuela there are rivers Cpanaparo and the Masparro with the 'para' root. Other rivers bearing the name 'para' around the world are the Ogunpa in Nigeria,

Another variation of 'para' appears is lake Gaurapari in Brazil. In Sanskrit 'gaura' (गौर) means 'shining' or 'splendid'. 'Pari' (परि) means 'abundant'. Put together GauraPari means 'Abundantly Splendid'.

A third root that we proceed with is 'kula' (कूल), Sanskrit for 'shore', 'river bank', 'pond' or 'pool'. One also sees the name 'kala' (काल) meaning 'time' which sometimes distorts to cara or kara in ancient river names. In Sanskrit, 'karshu' (कर्षू) means 'river', a 'kupa' (कूप) is a 'well' and 'kulya' (कुल्या) is a small river. Derivatives of 'kula' such as 'kulini' (कूलिनी) and 'kulvati' (कूलवती) also mean 'river'.

Tallahassee, Florida. Home to one of the largest and deepest freshwater springs in the world - the Wakulla Springs. 'Wakulla' is a Timicuan (Native American) word. Wikipedia says, "'Wakula' may contain the word 'kala' which signified a 'spring of water' in some Native American Indian dialects". This is where the Sanskrit connection with Sanskrit 'kula' is evident.

Tallahassee has a similar meaning. In Sanskrit, 'tala' (ताल) again means a 'water body' and 'talak' (तलक) means 'spring' or 'pond'. 'Ulhas' (उल्लस्) means 'joyful', 'cause movement', 'jump', 'shine forth' or 'come forth'. Tallahasee, therefore means 'a place where the 'water springs emerge' or 'white water springs emerge".

Even though Tallahassee is generally translated as 'Old Town', it is interesting that the water-springs area of Calistoga in California, which was earlier known as 'Tu-la-huasi' is translated from Native American as 'Place of Healthy Springs'.

In another part of the world in Siberia, is Lake Baikal. Its name is traced to the Turik languages and is said to mean 'rich lake'. However, the Sanskrit translation of its name is more appropriate. In Sanskrit 'Bha' (भा) means 'lustre', 'shine' or 'splendor'. "kal' is distorted 'Kula' (कूल) which means 'lake', 'pond' or 'pool'.

The coast of Florida has many interesting names such as Apalacheecola, Pensacola and so on. According to Florida State Department, "Apalacheecola" comes after the name of the Apalachicola tribe and is a combination of the Hitchiti words apalahchi, meaning "on the other side", and okli, meaning "people". In original reference to the settlement and the subgroup within the Seminole tribe, it probably meant "people on the other side of the river". So in 'apala' one can detect the Sanskrit 'apara', with the meaning 'on the other side', and 'kula' (कुल ) in the native American 'cola'. About Pensacola Gene Matlock says, "Now for Pensacola. Pensacola is a great port. It has a gigantic, safe harbor. Therefore, it doesn't take much guesswork to intuit that its original name was Panisha-Cola, or the coast of the Panis or Phoenicians."

In antiquity, in Turkey the Batman River was known as the Kalata. This name meant 'bride' to the Syriac people who populated the area; it was thus translated into Greek as Nymphios. In Sanskrit the word 'kala' has to do either with 'the cycle of time' or 'calendar' or with 'blackness and death. In this context the interpretation of Kalata as 'blackness' makes a lot of sense. The Batman, near its confluence with the Tigris, flows just a mile or two off Turkey's largest petroleum field. Petroleum is often referred to as black gold and lends a darkish tinge to the water of Batman. The word Kala is often found in ancient river names around the world, or in the names of towns near rivers, and there is also a possibility maybe a distortion of the Sanskrit (कुल) 'kula' meaning 'river'.

The Kalabari river in Nigeria is acombination of bothe 'kala' and 'bari' which is an approximation of 'pari' and 'para'. River Kura, that flows in Georgia, gets its name from the ancient Albanian term for 'reservoir'. Once gain the Sanskrit connect is evident. 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 confluence with river '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'. Other rivers or rivulets bearing the suffix 'kula' around the world are the Paaskula in Estonia, and the 'Kula' river in Nigeria.


A fourth root word that appears in many forms is 'gang' (गंग), Sanskrit for swift or fast, such as the Ganga in India, the suffix ga meaning to go, Variations of Ganga appear in the name Mekong in China, where the root 'gang' changes to 'kong'. In Thailand there ie the Bang Pakong, and though its name is believed to be a distorion of Bang Makong or 'place of catfish', its confluence with the river Hanuman in Prachinburi, or Prachinpuri, tells a different story. In the name of the river Congo, 'gang' appears as 'cong'. There is the town of Gangu on the Niger near its confluence with Madije. Variations of gang include the Pangani in Tanzania. Lake Victoria was known as Nayanza, perhaps Nayanga in the Bantu language. There are the Longa, Loango, and Kwango rivers in Angola. The ancient name of Volga was 'jlaga' and the Sanskrit 'ga' appears as in its suffix. The prefix 'jala' (जल) is Sanskrit for 'water'.

The etymology of Volga as proposed by the linguist Trubetzkoy — in his lectures at the University of Vienna — was as follows: in primitive eastern Slavic, unrounded front vowels changed into rounded back vowels before a tauto-syllabic l, so that jilga must have changed to julga; the initial j was lost before rounded vowels in eastern Slavic, and the initial u acquired an obligatory prothetic v. Thus the form vulga arose, and short u changed in the 12th-13th centuries into o. So through a long series of changes Jilga became Volga. (Oral information by Roman Jakobson.) 12 Thomsen (4) 13 B. A. Serebrennikov, “O nekotorykh sledakh izcheznuvshego indoevropejskogo jazyka v centre Evropejskoj chasti SSSR, blizkogo k baltijskim jazykam” (Traces of an extinct Indo- European language related to the Baltic in the centre of the European part of the USSR), Lietuvių Mokslų Akademijos Darbai (Trudy AN Litovskoj SSR), serija A, vyp. 1 (2), Vilnius, 1957. 14 M. Vasmer, “Die alten Bevölkerungsverhältnisse Russlands im Lichte der Sprachforschung,” Vorträge and Schriften der Preussischen Akademie, No. 5, 1941. '
It is more likely that the original name was 'Julga' rather than 'jilga' if one were to look at the name through the Sanskrit lens. 'Jala' (जल) is 'water', both in Sanskrit and in Hindi.

River Cuyahoga, Ohio. The current name of Cuyahoga, is a cognate of the Iroquios word Cuyohoga which means crooked river', but the name is said to derive from the original Mohawk name Cayagaga. 

The name 'gaga' may be a distortion of the Sanskrit root word 'gang' (गंग) meaning 'swift'. The occurrence of the name 'gaga' in the native American name indicates that there may be a common thread to the aboriginal and ancient names of rivers around the world. Also the name Cayagaga may have Sanskritic links. Here's why.

In his article 'The Aboriginal Names of Rivers in Australia Philologically Examined', the late Rev. Peter McPherson, read before the Royal Society of New South Wales on 4th August, 1886, it was stated about the form 'gong', "Here is a form which is common to mountains and streams. There is also a goodly array of gongs from the side of the waters. There are Burrangong, Cudgegong, Brongong, Kallobungung Creek, Vagonga Inlet, Tragong Oreek. In such forms as the following the gong or some equivalent is also plain enough-Bongongalong Creek, Gangangar Creek, Kangaloola Creek. Also the forms in y, Noeyango Lake, Yango, Yanka, Yengo, Yonpa Creeks. Now leaving the mountains aside, we have to see whether there are any root forms in gong or its equivalents meaning water. The vocabularies supply us at once with such words as kung or kong, meaning water at Moreton Bay, and kongun, water on the Peel River. The forms guong and guang, min, occur at Wellington. Kaiung at Illawarra means sea; in compound words turaguny at Port Jackson meant a creek. Nullakonggor in Kamilaroi means a watel·lwle. At Illawarra ngaityung is water. Nagung is water at George's River. These materials prove abundantly that there is a root-word for water which may be represented with its variations by the form gong, which occurs in the names of so many creeks and designations for water. When we look beyond the Australian area our attention is arrested by the great River Ganges in India. The word ganga or gunga is the Sanscrit for river. To those who settled in the far back ages upon its banks, it was simply the river, So, after all the illustrations which have been given that the same radical form exists among the aborigines here, we cannot doubt that such names as appear in the gazetteer as Congai, and Gungulwa and others, just meant the river or the water."

The same logic may be applied to native American names for rivers in the United States. In the context of Cuyahoga, one may state that in Sanskrit, 'Kulya' (कुल्या), 'KUlya' (कूल्या) and 'Kulini' (कूलिनी), all mean 'river'. These may all lead to the genesis of the word 'Cuya'. Or 'Cuya' may be a distortion of the Sanskrit 'kruta' (क्रुक्त) or 'Kutila' (कुटिल) both of which mean 'crooked'.

'Apaga' (आपगा) means river, 'aga' (अग) means 'water-jar' or 'water-pitcher'. You see the word 'aga' in the names of rivers such as 'Ganges' which is known as 'Ganga' in Sanskrit. The word 'aga' also appears in the name 'Volga' which incidentally was also known as 'J-aga' in ancient times. By that logic the suffix 'hoga' in Cuyahoga may be a distortion of 'aga' .

The Cuyahoga originates in springs in the highlands of Geauga County, in the adjoining townships of Hambden and Montville. The headwaters of three watercourses in the Lake Erie basin are located in Geauga County. It is said that Geauga County is named after the Onondaga word 'jyo’ä·gak' or Seneca 'jo’ä·ka', both meaning 'racoon'. In Sanskrit a close cognate of 'jyo’ä·gak' and 'jo’ä·ka' is 'jahaka' (जहका) translates as 'hedgehog' - not quite rocoon. But 'Geauga' seems to be closer in meaning to the Sanskrit 'Jalaja' (जलज) which means 'born in water'.

But is there a link between the Sanskrit language and Native American languages? In 1909, a white lady by the name of Mrs. Helen Troy, was initiated into the Onondaga tribe. Mrs. Troy and her mentor, Mrs. Isaac Thomas, had “delved deeply into the fascinating mythology of the Indians, of which comparatively little is known.” Troy and Thomas were both reportedly working on “a dictionary of the languages of the Six (Iroquious) Nations.” Their compilation of Onondaga and Mohawk words was said to total 30,000. On completion of the manuscript, Mrs. Troy commented “There exists no doubt,” stated Mrs. Troy, “that the mythology of the Iroquois antedates that of the Greeks and Romans, and in fact all other peoples just as their language does that of the Hebrews and all others.” She further claimed “that Onondaga, the mother tongue of all the ages, mothered also Sanskrit.” She had indeed found the two languages to be closely linked.

We now look at the Sanskritic links to river names in the Native American languages. In his paper, Similarities between the Asiatic and American Indian Languages, published in October 1960 in the International Journal of American Linguistics author Tadeusz Milewski pointed out similarities between the cultures of the American peoples before the coming of the whites and that of Asia and Oceania.  "It results from either mutual contacts or independent but parallel evolution....Moreover it may be interesting to note the same coincidences are found in the sphere if linguistic facts. Striking structural similarities whose origin may be conceived in different ways occur between some Asiatic and American Indian Languages."

He further states,  "According to generally accepted hypothesis ancestors of the American Indians was Asia and they reached America by crossing the narrow and often frozen Bering Straits. As the sheet retreated different nomadic hunting tribes moved from Central Asia to the north, came to Bering Straights and having crossed over the ice and reached the coast of Alaska.... These facts prove that the primitive peoples if America brought with them the languages they had spoken earlier in Asia." The author adds, '...the similarities between the languages are too complex and too numerous to be the result of parallel and independent development. It is therefore imperative to look for the remnants of these similarities." 

In his book, "On the Composition of Indian Geographical Names", J. Hammond Trumbull states, "Near the Atlantic seaboard, the most common substantival components of river names are (1) -tuk and (2) -hanne, -han, or -huan". Neither of these are independent words, they are suffixes that are seen in the Native American names of rivers.

'Tuk' normally denotes a river whose waters are driven in waves, by tides or wind. Trumbull pointed out that tuk is found in names of tidal rivers and estuaries; less frequently, in names of broad and deep streams, not affected by tides. He states ,"With the adjectival missi, 'great,' it forms missi-tuk,—now written Mystic,—the name of 'the great river' of Boston bay, and of another wide-mouthed tidal river in the Pequot country, which now divides the towns of Stonington and Groton......Near the eastern boundary of the Pequot country, was the river which the Narragansetts called Paquat-tuk, sometimes written Paquetock, now Pawcatuck, 'Pequot river,'—the present eastern boundary of Connecticut. Another adjectival prefix, pohki or pahke, 'pure,' 'clear,' found in the name of several tidal streams, is hardly distinguishable from the former, in the modern forms of Pacatock, Paucatuck, &c."

But what is the etymology of the word 'tuk'. Are the American Indian languages unrelated to the Indo-European languages of the world. The 'Etymologiocal Dictionary of the Gaelic Language' identifies the word ' teich' which means 'flee'. And variations of 'teich' appear in many Indo-European languages such as Irish teithim, Early Irish techim, Old Irish teichthech, vitabundus, Welsh techu, skulk, Middle Breton techet, flee: *tekô, *tekkô, flee.These words are derived from the Indo-European root teq-, flow, run; whose oldest forms appear in Sanskrit 'tik' (तीक्) - 'go', 'taku' (तकु) - 'rushing along' and 'toka' (तोक) - 'race'.

As for -hanna, -han or -huan, these seem to be the truncated form of Sanskrit 'vahana' (वहन) meaning 'carrying' or 'sailing', or 'vAhana' (वाहन) meaning 'vessel' or 'boat'. Vahana relates to carrying or flowing. In the Vedic context a vahana is the vehicle of the gods. For example the river Ganga in India is considered to be the vahana of Goddess Ganga as well as that of Varuna, the god of the Seas.

In the Native American tradition Seip or sepu, the Algonkin word for 'river' is derived from a root that means 'stretched out,' 'extended,' 'become long'. and correspond to the Sanskrit 'ksepa' (क्षेप) meaning 'stretched' or 'extended'. Mississippi is missi-sipu, 'great river;' Kitchi-sipi, 'chief river' or 'greatest river,' was the Montagnais name of the St. Lawrence.

Hammond Trumbull makes the observation, "In Pennsylvania and Virginia, where the streams which rise in the highlands flow down rapidly descending slopes, -
hanné is more common than -tuk or sepu in river names".

Of names such as Pawtucket and Pawtuxet, he states , "Of Pawtucket and Pawtuxet, the composition is less obvious; but we have reliable Indian testimony that these names mean, respectively, 'at the falls' and 'at the little falls'. Pequot and Narragansett interpreters, in 1679, declared that Blackstone's River, was "called in Indian Pautuck (which signifies, a Fall), because there the fresh water falls into the salt water." In Sanskrit too, the root word 'pata' (पत् ) corresponds to a 'fall', hence 'jala-patha', 'water-fall', which appears as Jog Jalapatha, in the name of the highest waterfall in India.

Trumbull then observes that , Nippie, Nipi and its
diminutives, nippisse and nips, in Native American river names were employed in compound names to denote water, generally, without characterizing it as 'swift flowing,' 'wave moved,' 'tidal,' or 'standing'. By the northern Algonkins, it appears to have been used for 'lake,' as in the name of Missi-nippi or Missinabe lake ('great water'), and in that of Lake Nippissing, which has the locative affix, nippis-ing, 'at the small lake' north-east of the greater Lake Huron, which gave a name to the nation of Nippissings. Whatever the interpretation, it may be added here that Nippar and Sippar were the names of two Mesopotamian river towns on the river Euphrates. Second, both the words are explained by the Sanskrit 'sipa' (सीप ) meaning 'vessel', and 'nipa' (निप ) meaning 'water-jar'.

The suffixes -Paug, -Pog, -Bog, an inseparable generic, denoting 'water' but ' 'standing water,' is the substantival component of names of small lakes and ponds, throughout New England, including Massapaug, Quinnipaug, Wongun-paug and so on. In the Sanskritic tradition, the suffix 'bagh' appears in the name 'Bhagirathi', The Tribagha, and "Chandrabagh' and refers to a division of a major river, Such as the Bhagirathi is the tributary of the Ganges, Chandra and Bhaga are tributaries of the Indus, the Tribhagha is a river mentioned in the Matsya Purana that descends from the Mahendra Mountain.

Trumbull then mentions another noun-generic that according to his research denotes 'lake' or 'fresh water at rest,' found in many Abnaki, northern Algonkin and Chippewa names, This is the Algonkin -gămi, -gŏmi, or -gummee. Names include Kitchi-gami or 'Kechegummee,' the Chippewa name of Lake Superior, is 'the greatest, or chief lake.' Caucomgomoc, in Maine, is the Abn. kaäkou-gami-k, 'at Big-Gull lake.' Temi-gami, 'deep lake,' discharges its waters into Ottawa River, in Canada; Kinou-gami, now Kenocami, 'long lake,' into the Saguenay, at Chicoutimi. There is a Mitchi-gami or (as sometimes written) machi-gummi, 'large lake,' in northern Wisconsin, and the river which flows from it has received the same name, with the locative suffix, 'Machigāmig' (for mitchi-gaming)."

In the Indic tradition 'gami' or 'gamini' in fact conveys movement and motion with the name Tripath-gamini the name of the Ganges itself. Then there is the Puranic river Durgama that arises in The Vindhya mountains.

Scholars say that no convincing explanation to the etymological origin of the name 'Nigeria', or the name of its neighboring country 'Niger', has been found among the 30 native languages spoken in the area. But it is known that both the countries are named after the River Niger.

The origin of the name Niger stares us in the face but remains un-coded due to a deep rooted bias against this powerful tool- the Sanskrit language. Lets therefore turn west then and look at Ptolemy's analysis of the name Niger. In his writings Ptolemy mentioned two rivers in the desert of NIger, one by the name 'Gir' and farther south, the 'Ni-Gir''. Roman historian, Suetonius (69-122 AD) wrote that the name 'gher' originates from the Bereber language, spoken in Morocco and Algeria and means 'watercourse'.

But it is obvious that the word 'gir' is a distortion of the same Sanskrit word that appears in the names of rivers around the word. The word is 'jhara', and appear in the names of many rivers and water bodies around the world such as the 'Jari' which is the northern tributary of the River Amazon, River Jara in Melbourne, the Jara River (a tributary of the Susita River) in Romania, or Lake Jara in New Mexico - not to mention many more in India and Nepal. In Sanskrit the word 'jhara' (झर) means a waterfall or a water body, and 'jhari' (झरी) means a river.

Popular explanations include explanations such as that the name Niger is a distortion of the local Tuareg phrase 'gher n gheren' which means 'river of rivers', and the belief is that 'gher n gheren' has been shortened to 'ngher'. However, the analysis gets a little more interesting if one were to decode 'gheren' and 'gher' and 'gheren', or the cognates of these two words, with the help of Sanskrit.

First of all 'gheren' may again be a distortion 'jhara' itself. Or then there is 'gehevra' (गह्वर) or 'gehena' (गहन), both meaning 'deep'. Uncannily, it is the Hindi 'ghehra' (गहरा), also derived from Sanskrit 'gehevra' (गह्वर), which phonetically comes closest to the Tuareg word 'gheren'.

The name Jhara also occurs in Australia in the form of 'Yarra'. It is said that the River Yarra was called Birrarung by the Wurundjeri people who occupied the Yarra Valley. Upon the arrival of the Europeans in Victoria it was given the name 'Yarra Yarra' in 1835, in the mistaken belief that this was the aboriginal name for the river.

John Wedge, British surveyor, explorer and politician who moved to Victoria, joined the Port Phillip Association that surveyed 600000 acres of aboriginal land and named the Yarra river had this to say about the name 'Yarra', "On arriving in sight of the river, the two natives who were with me, pointing to the river, called out, 'Yarra Yarra', which at the time I imagined to be its name ; but I afterwards learnt that the words were what they used to designate a waterfall, as they afterwards gave the same designation to a small fall in the river Werribee, as we crossed it on our way back to 'Indented Head'."

It is interesting that the aboriginal word for 'waterfall' is 'yarra'. For in Sanskrit the word for waterfall is 'Jhara' (झर). 'Yarra' seems to be a distortion of the word 'Jhara', especially because a very close cognate of 'jhara' also appears in aboriginal names such as 'Purit-jarra. The distortion of 'jhara' also appears as 'jarpa' in the name Puntujarpa. The exact word 'jhara' appears in the name 'Kaltukat-jara' as 'jara' which is the aboriginal name for River Docker.

'Puritajarra', an ancient aboriginal site lies close to the only permanent water in the Cleland Hills, near the eastern boundary of the Western Desert. Researchers have described the 'Puntujarpa' rock-shelter as a form of ‘oasis’, due to water bodies in this area. All these place names indicate their importance to the aboriginal settlements in ancient times due to the availability of water in an area which is essentially a desert, thus establishing the fact that 'jara', 'jarpa', 'jarra' and 'yarra' are distortions of the Sanskrit 'jhara' meaning 'water-fall' or 'water-body'.

Now a bit about Niagara in the United States. Here is an excerpt from 'Niagara Township, Centennial History' that refers to these meanings of the word Niagara:

"Some scholars think the word Niagara comes from the name of that Indian tribe, the Onghiahrahs. Others think it derives from the Iroquois word Onyahrah, or neck, which the Iroquois applied to the peninsula (or neck) between the two lakes.

Most scholars think Niagara comes to us from the Huron word 'Oniahgahrah', or 'thunderer of waters', which was applied by that nation to Niagara Falls.

The second syllable of the word 'Oniagarah' is a cognate of the Sanskrit word 'jarah' which as mentioned above means 'waterbody' or 'waterfall'. The second syllable in the name Niagara carries the same meaning - waterbody or a fountain of waters waterfall. Hence, if there is a Sanskrit connection to the name Niagara, it may simply be derived from Sanskrit 'nirjhar' (निर्झर) which means 'Waterfall'!!

And here is an observation about the legacy of the Native American names of the rivers of America that Edward Moor made in his book 'Oriental Fragments' in 1834, "In America what fine names might probably have been left of the vast lakes and streams and hills, which ennoble, beautify, and enrich those extended regions. How poor and uninstructive are the Hudson, the St. Lawrence, in comparison with Niagara - pure Sanskrit I suspect....".

Jordan gets its name from River Jordan. The origin of the name 'Jordan' is generally traced to the ancient Semitic word 'Arda'. 'Arda' in turn comes from the Hebrew 'Yorad' which is derived from the Aramaic 'Yarden' or 'Jarden' meaning 'down-flowing' or 'that which descends'. A step further takes us to the Sanskrit Jhara or Jharat.

Jari River, also spelled Jary, river, northern Brazil, rising on the southern slopes of the Tumuc-Humac Mountains and flowing in a generally southeasterly direction for about 350 miles (560 km) to join the Amazon river.

In his book, Mysteries of Ancient South America, author Harold T. Wilkins writes about the findings of an expedition in the 1920s lead by Colonel P.H. Fawcett into the woods of the Brazilian Amazon where he chanced upon an ancient city and some rock inscriptions, about which Wilkins says, "... those strange writings are something more remarkable... they are of an esoteric Hindu cult." (page 63).

Writing about the inscriptions, he further adds," I have myself discovered some queer links between these strange letters of old Brazil, and characters found in Tibet and Vedic Hindostan". (Page 118).

Brazil which has no apparent link to Vedic India holds many a clues to its Vedic past in its ancient place and river names. First Brazil was once known as Pindorama and though it is said that 'Pindorama' translates as 'Land of Palms', Sri Rama was not unknown in this part of the world. Also, the Brazilian Amazon is home to several tribes which seem to have a link to India.

There is an ancient tribe of Brazil by the name 'RamaRama'. The RamaRama were a Tupi speaking group of considerable size living in the Brazilian Amazonian area in a place called Rondonia who inhabited the banks of the Machadinho and Ahara river. The Amazon was itself known as the 'Maranon' in ancient times. In Sanskrit marmahan (मर्महन्) is the equivalent of 'striking the vitals', 'mardana' (मर्दन) is 'tormenting', and both the names describe the temperament of the river well. RamaRama is also the name of a Tupian language.

Then there is the 'Kaiapo' - a powerful and well-known Brazilian tribe who lives in villages along the Xingu River across the Central Brazilian Plateau. The Kaiapo call themselves Mebengokre, meaning 'the men from the water place'. The name Kaiapo was given to them by the neighbouring native tribes, which means 'resembling apes' and was probably given because the men used to dance with monkey masks. It is interesting that 'kaipo' is a cognate of the Sanskrit 'kapi' (कपि) which means 'monkey' - in fact the etymological source of the English 'ape' is unknown and is sometimes attributed to the Sanskrit 'kapi'.

The Indic name Sindhu, which means 'river', and is the Sanskrit name of the river Indus in India, appears in Brazil as river Xinghu and in China in the name of Xinghu Lake in Zhaoqing. There is the Sinda river in Zaire and the Sindabezi Island on the Zambezi river. An ancient river town in Greece was known as Sinda or Pisidia.

The etymological source of the name 'Xingu' in Brazil is largely unknown though it is conjectured that 'Xingu' may derive from the name given to it by a tribe named Asurini who called the river 'Yh Uu' meaning 'Great Water'. The fact remains that the tribe name 'Asurini' itself is Sanskrit. The name 'Xingu' is just one syllable away from the name 'Sindhu'. Sindhu is one of the most important rivers of India, and though Sindhu is a pronoun, it is also a generic word for 'river'. The Asurini 'Yh Uu' is probably a distorted form of 'sindhu'. The Asurini language belongs to the Tupian group of languages and the most widely spoken language of this group, the Tupi-Guarani is close to Sanskrit.

The name 'sara' occurs repeatedly in Native American names. The city of Saratoga in New York is known for its mineral springs. Its name 'Saratoga' is believed to be a corruption of a Native American word in Mowahk language meaning 'water springs'. In 'sara' (सर) means 'spring' or 'brook' in Sanskrit and is used in the names of towns or villages which are located on or around a spring. The most known of such city in India is 'Amritsara' - amrit nectar, sara 'spring'. In Iran there is the city of Ramsar on the Caspian.

Wood Creek in Central New York State flows westward from the city of Rome, New York to Oneida Lake. Its waters flow ultimately to Lake Ontario, which is the easternmost of the five Great Lakes. Wood Creek is less than 32 km long, but has great historical importance. Wood Creek was a crucial, fragile link in the main 18th and early 19th century waterway connecting the Atlantic seaboard of North America and its interior beyond the Appalachian Mountains. It is also known as Ka-ne-go-dic but its most ancient known name is Os-sa-ra-gas or Osaragas. The Sanskrit sara once again appears in this name.

Suggested Readings:1. Similarities between the Asiatic and American Indian Languages by Tadeusz Milewski (International Journal of American Linguistics)
2. Five Native American Indigenous Languages you should learn
3. The Aboriginal Names of Rivers in Australia Philologically Examined.
4. The Composition of Indian Geographical Names
James Hammond Trumbull


Blog archive