I. To make a beginning, a selection of nine Sanskrit root words which carry the meaning either of river, or water, or flow, or fluid, or river banks, are being investigated to analyze how often they appear in the river, mountain and town names in the vicinity of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru.
1. 'jhar' (झर) meaning 'waterfall' or 'river',
2. 'gara' or (गर) meaning fluid or wetting,
3. ambh' (अम्भ) meaning water, fluid, or juice;
4. 'apa' (अप्) or river;
5. 'kula' (कूल) or 'river', river names with variations of the word kula, or town names with the suffix 'kula' or its 'variations',
6. 'ganga' (गङ्ग ) or some variation of it, meaning 'swift'
7. the suffix 'ga' ( गा ) meaning to 'go', 'move' or 'flow',
8. 'sindhu' (सिंधु) meaning river
9. 'sara' (सर) also meaning river or lake.
All of the above root words appear in the names of rivers emanating from Mt. Kilimanjaro and include:
1. The Masanga, Mrusanga, Karanga and the Nanga which like the Ganga bear the suffix ga (गा), meaning to go or flow. Also the word 'sanga' (सङ्घ) that appears in the names Masanga and Mrusanga is Sanskrit for 'combined' or 'together'. The river Congo was once known as the Sangha and today has a tributary that bears the same name.
2. River Mongoro. This name includes the root word 'jhara' or 'gara' meaning 'waterfall' and 'fluid' respectively. 'Gara' should not be confused with 'giri' which also appears either as 'giri' itself or as its variation in many mountain names in Africa in which case its meaning stems from 'giri' (गिरि) or 'mountain', not to be confused with 'gara' (गर) or fluid.
3. River Engere Den includes the root 'jhara' (झर) in the form 'gere'. A Sanskrit tweaking of this name would render Engere Den to 'Jharadana' or 'abundant water' which has another equivalent elsewhere in the river Jordon.
4. The Ngomberi and Umbwe rivers, their names include the root 'ambh' (अम्भ्) meaning water or fluid. In their Sanskritic form the names may have once read as Ambavari and Ambhve. There is a lake by the name Amboseli
5. River Tarakia. Tara is Sanskrit for star. Since Sanskrit 'tara' has nothing to do with water, it may be ignored. What is of note though is that the Tarakia flows into the Musangiro where once again the root 'gara' (गर) appears as 'giro'.
6. River Garagua. The root 'gara' (गर) appears as the prefix here.
7. River Engare Rongai. The root 'gara' appears as 'gare'.
8. River Sere. Here the Sanskrit root 'sara' (सर) meaning lake or waterbody appears in the name of the river.
9. Many other Sanskrit root words also appear in names in the Kiliminjaro and Mt. Meru vicinity, though sparingly, but these are significant because they are seen in innumerable river and mountain names elsewhere in the broader area of the African continent. These root words include variations of 'gana' (घन) meaning dense or deep which appears in the name of rivers Makogani and Njugini, variations of Sanskrit 'varI' (वरी) water, vAri (वारि) water pot or 'vari' (वरि) 'stream' appear in various forms in the names of rivers Nagomberi and Weru Weru.
II. We now take a look at river names in the vicinity of Mt. Meru.
1. Embakasi, Kiambu, Nambair and Samburu where we see the root ambh (अम्भ्),
2. Bogoria, where we see 'gara' (गर) appear as 'goria', and Engare Goria where we 'gara' as 'gare', Tarangire National Park, where once again the 'gara' appears as 'gire', etc, etc.
3. The root word 'sara' (सर ) meaning lake appears in the name Kwansari which is located at -3.24 Latitude, 36.37 Longitude.
Whether or not Mt. Meru of Tanzania is the mystical Meru of the Vedic and Puranic texts of India is not known but some details of the two certainly match.
First, Mt. Meru is located in the Arusha Region of Tanzania and its highest peak is known as Ngurudoto. Researcher Mukundchandra Raval states in his book The Mount Meru, "It is interesting to note that the name of the highest peak of Mount Meru is Ngurudoto. Guru Data is one of the three sons of Seer Atri and Ansuya. Guru Datta is always found at the top peak of any mountain wherever he has his abode. His abode is on the highest peak of the Mount Girnar in Gujarat and the Mount Abu in Rajasthan. Likewise his abode is Ngurudoto on the highest peak of Mount Meru." Raval also adds that Arusha is a distortion of the name Usha. In the Indic tradition Usha is the daughter of the demon king Banusura who had once undertaken a severe penance to win the blessings of Lord Shiva and asked that Shiva guard Banusura's city of Sonapuri as a boon. Sanawari ia PLce name in Tanzania and may be explained by the Puranic name Sanawari. A river Usha, (spelt Usa) flows near Mt. Meru into the Great Rift Valley.
However, a second option for the location of Mandara appears on a map published in 1885 in the Meyers Gazetteer. In this map Mandara is clearly marked, located just south of Kimawenzi (now Mt. Mewenzi), on the top left end of the map just below the area marked Kilima Ndscharo. Other Sanskritic names appear in the vicinity of Mandara.
|A map of Kilimanjaro and surrounding areas|
published by the Meyers Gazetteer in the 1800s.
Places identified include Sanskritic names such as Mandara,
Girijama, Sapanga, Khiwa, Siwa and Usagara.
Some other names of mountains, rivers, forests and lakes located in the proximity of Mt. Meru mentioned in the Varaha Purana include a set of five names - Ketumala, Sarasa, Pandava, Mt. Sisira, Mt. Suparsva etc. which may correspond to present day locations of Ketumbeine, Sagasa, Panda, Mt. Sisaba and Mt. Suswa in the area that lies in and around Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro.
III. In the many hills and peak names in the vicinity of Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru, the Sanskrit 'giri' (गिरि) or mountain, appears in some distorted form or the other in the names of the following:
1. Mt. Losiminguri ( -4.227086, 34.536748 )
2. Mt. Ol Lotigeli (-2.970763, 37.022442),
3. Mt. Kangiri ( -4.050119, 34.885925 ),
4. Mt. Mungori ( -4.019525, 34.830307 ),
5. Mt. Kisingisi (-4.310168, 34.535145),
6. Mt. Kinangilu (-4.227086, 34.536748 ).
That a considerable number of Sanskritic and Indic names appear on the map of Africa was noticed by many scholars who had studied the journals and travelogues of many explorers who had travelled in Africa, like Richard Lander and Mungo Park.
It is in this context of their writings that Edward Moor had recorded in his book Oriental Fragments, "But what is to be expected in the Cimmerian regions of Central Africa? Who looks thither for poetry or polish ? And who may not feel some surprise at finding the rivers, mountains, towns things which usually receive appellations least liable to change bearing Sanskrit (and Greek?) names; almost as commonly as the rivers, mountains, towns, of India or Greece '!"
Suggested readings and Links:
1. Oriental Fragments by Edward Moor, published 1834