Friday, 19 March 2021


It is the aim of this post to review the names that the ancients had given to the mountains, rivers, streams and waters, or to towns near Mt. Kiliminjaro and Mt. Meru in Tanzania to discover any principles, if discoverable, on the basis of which these names were given. 

It is also the purpose of this post to investigate whether the aboriginal or the ancient most known names given to the rivers emanating from Kilimanjoro and Meru 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 followed the same general principles in naming mountains and rivers and other water bodies which are found to prevail in Sanskrit river names of India. 

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.

The selected Sanskrit roots which follow all pertain to water or waterbodies in some form or the other. They include:
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.

Sanskritic names that exist in the vicinity of Mt. Meru today where we see the root words mentioned at the beginning of the post. These include:
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.

4. Then there is Lake Abhijatha, sometimes spelled as Abhijatta which at once is a reminder of Abhijita, the name of a lunar asterism. Then there is Kibera, a distortion perhaps of Kubera.

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.

Second, according to the Varaha Purana, to the east of the mystical Mt. Meru lies a peak by the name of Mandara. There are a couple of options that one may explore to identify the location of Mandara near Mt. Meru in Tanzania on the map of which a peak by the name of Monduli lies at -3.242952, 36.479749, very close west of Mt. Meru which itself is located at -3.247214, 36.751834.

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.

In the Puranic lore Mount Mandara was used as the cosmic pivot on which was twisted Vasuki, the king of serpents, who resides around Shiva's neck, and which became became the churning rope during Samudra Manthan or 'Churning of the Ocean'. By tugging on the two ends of the coil, the devas and asuras together extracted amrita, or the Nectar of Immortality from the ocean. The cosmic pivot or Mount Mandara is believed to be the centre of the cosmic world. The point or tip of this cosmic world arrangement on which the entire universe spins is known as Mt. Meru. Because Mandara on Kiliminjaro and Mt. Meru, both mentioned in the Puranas, are located so close together in Tanzania, some scholars have argued that the Puranic texts in the lore of the Churning of the Ocean are in fact referring to Mt. Meru and Mandara of Tanzania. In fact, since on the Meyers map Kilimanjaro and Mandara are located so close to one another, Kilimanjaro may itself be the Mandara of the Puranas, Kilima is 'hill' in Swahili, Kilima + Mandaro may have over time distorted to Kilimanjaro.

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

Tuesday, 2 March 2021


The etymology of the name Kiliminjaro is a subject of much debate though its Sanskritic meaning is pretty straightforward, apt and appropriate with some collateral support from the Puranas, more specifically the Varaha Purana.

But first a quick note on the mainstream debate on the etymology of the name Kiliminjaro. Wikipedia collates the details of this debate and presents a longish explanation. It lists a number of theories and states among others the view of a few European explorers, some of whom had reported that Kilimanjaro was the mountain's Swahili name. The 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopedia, a 19th century Encyclopedia edited by Rev. James Wood, records the name of the mountain as Kilima-Njaro.

Johann Ludwig Krapf, a German missionary in East Africa, wrote in 1860 that Swahili tribesmen along the coast of the Indian Ocean called the mountain Kilimanjaro, and it meant either 'mountain of greatness' or 'mountain of caravans'. Under the latter meaning, kilima meant mountain and jaro meant caravans.

But Krapf also stated another view that he had come across. He wrote a chief of the Wakamba people whom he had visited in that 1849, had seen what he called "the Kima jajeu, mountain of whiteness, the name given by the Wakamba to Kilimanjaro".

Jim Thompson claimed in 1885, that the term Kilima-Njaro has generally been understood to mean the mountain (kilima) of greatness (njaro). However he thought that since Njaro was an ancient Swahili word for shining, Kiliminjaro perhaps meant white mountain.

Others have assumed that kilima is Swahili for mountain. The problem with this assumption is that kilima actually means hill and is, therefore, the diminuitive of mlima, the proper Swahili word for mountain.

A different approach is to assume that the kileman part of Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga (a Bantu language dialect) word kileme, which means 'that which defeats', or kilelema, which means 'that which has become difficult or impossible'. The jaro part would "then be derived from njaare, a bird; or, according to other informants, a leopard; or, possibly from jyaro, a caravan". Considering that the name Kilimanjaro has never been current among the Wachagga people it is possible that the name was derived from Wachagga saying that the mountain was unclimbable, kilemanjaare or kilemajyaro, and porters misinterpreting this as being the name of the mountain.

But now a look at the name Kiliminjaro through the Sanskrit lens where only two meanings of the word come up. Either, the first part of the word Kili is a distortion of the Sanskrit Giri which means mountain and appears in a few different forms in the names of many mountains and place names, such as Kinyagiri, Kitangiri and Tarangire in Tanzania; or the other explanation can be that the first part of the name is not Kili but Kiliman (किलिमन्), Sanskrit for 'blackness', a reference to the dark colour of the three peaks of Kilimanjaro owing to the very high basalt component of the minerals in these mountains. Basalt is dark charcoal grey or black in colour.

The second part of the name 'jaro' may be a distortion of jhara ( झर ), Sanskrit for spring or water, and appears as njore in the Masai language (a language spoken by some elders in Tanzania and Kenya), with the same meaning, that is water or spring. This is appropriate since Kiliminjaro is the source of many rivers in this region. The name jhara also appears in the names of some other rivers of Africa in different forms, such as in the name of river Niger, -ger, here too refers to water. One may also site another name, that of River Kagera, that emanates from Lake Rweru in Rwanda. 'Gera' here is a distortion of jhara. Then there is the town of Niangara on River Uele.

Three volcanic peaks make up Kiliminjaro, the Mawenzi, Kibo and Shira, with Kibo being the tallest and at the centre of the Kiliminjaro. Shira is Sanskrit for peak or head and appears commonly in the many names such as Mrigshira, the name of a lunar mansion, which translates as Deer's head.

In the vicinity of Kiliminjaro, about 150 km by road, lies Mt. Meru. In the Indian tradition Mt. Meru has a majestic reputation, and it appears that the descriptions in the Vedic and Puranic texts are perhaps a reference to Mt. Meru of Tanzania. In the land bound by Lake Victoria on the north, Lake Tana on the West, and, Mount Meru and the Kiliminjaro on the east, Sanskritic names abound, and some even very close to those mentioned in the description of Mt. Meru and its vicinity in the Varaha Purana.

For example, in Chapter 77 Verse 9 of the Varaha Purana it is stated that to the east of Mt. Meru lies Mt. Mandara, On the current map of Tanzania just to the north east of Mt. Meru is situated what is known as Mt. Monduli, and can easily be a distortion of Mandara, a mountain which according to Vedic and Puranic texts is a mountain on which Shiva meditated. The closest cognate of the name Mandara in Tanzania is Mandera, a city in the Korogwe district of Tanzania, 120 km away from Mt. Kilimanjaro. There is also a county by the name Mandera in neighboring Kenya.

However, a second option for the location of Mandara appears on a map published in 1885 in the Meyers Gazetteer. And this may be very significant. It may establish why the Mt. Mandara of the Vedic and Puranic texts may be Kiliminjaro itself. 

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 (Kilimanjaro). 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.

Why Kilimanjaro may be the Mt. Mandara of the Vedas and Puranas:

In the Puranic lore Mount Mandara was used as the cosmic pivot on which was twisted Vasuki, the king of serpents, who resides around Shiva's neck, and which became became the churning rope during Samudra Manthan or 'Churning of the Ocean'. By tugging on the two ends of the coil, the devas and asuras together extracted amrita, or the Nectar of Immortality from the ocean. The cosmic pivot or Mount Mandara is believed to be the centre of the cosmic world. The point or tip of this cosmic world arrangement on which the entire universe spins is known as Mt. Meru. Because Mandara on Kiliminjaro and Mt. Meru, both mentioned in the Puranas, are located so close together in Tanzania, some scholars have argued that the Puranic texts in the lore of the Churning of the Ocean are in fact referring to Mt. Meru and Mandara of Tanzania. Once again, since on the Meyers map Kilimanjaro and Mandara are located so close to one another, Kilimanjaro may itself be the Mandara of the Puranas, Kilima is 'hill' in Swahili, Kilima + Mandaro may have over time distorted to Kilimanjaro.

On the current map of Mt. Meru in Tanzania one also sees to its south the name Sanawari. To the east of Sanawari lies Kibvesi and to the south of Kibvesi lies Kimandolu. Further south lie Komolo and Makutapora. All these names are so Sanskritic in nuance that they hardly need any explanation, except perhaps Kibvesi. Sanawari is Sonavari or meadow of gold, Kimandolu is Kamandalu, the pot that Shiva and other Indic ascetics carry in their hands, bearing either water or amrita, the elixir of life. Komolo is Kamala, Sanskrit for lotus, and Makutapora is a reference to Shiva's mukuta (मुकुट) or crown which is really his hair tied in a topknot in which he binds and holds the Ganges.

With so many references to Shiva, perhaps the unexplained name Kibvesi too is a distortion of Shiva, as well as similar sounding names such as Kibo, the tallest peak of Kiliminjaro. Kibvesi may be a truncated form of Shiva+vesa, meaning Shiva's form. This interpretation may appear as forced, yet there are so many references to Shiva in the names of towns and rivers in this area that Shiva seems the only explanation. Not only in Tanzania, Shiva's lore is entrenched in Nigeria too where the source of the River Nigeria is traced to a mountain called Sankari. Shankara is yet another name of Shiva.

Kibvesi lies in the area known as Arusha. Another name of note in Arusha is Ngurdoto. 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. A river Usha still flows near Mt. Meru into the Great Rift Valley though its waters are poisonous due to the high fluoride content it gathers from the slopes of Mt. Meru.

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. Sonapuri may explain the name Sanawari mentioned above.

Shiva's name occurs in its other forms too in the surrounding areas of Mt Meru and Kiliminjaro. For example, there is a peak by the name Oldonyo Sambu. This lies just west of Mt. Monduri mentioned above. Monduri is surely a distortion of mandara. Sambu or Shambhu is another name of Lord Shiva. The names Shambu and Sombo also appear near the confluence of the River Congo and River Ruki near Sumbala as well as in the name of the Sumbu National Park and the county of Sumbawanga. Then there is the Shambe National Park in South Sudan. This perhaps still does not prove anything except that names such as Nandy (Shiva's bull) and Lake Manasa (a reminder of Lake Mansarover near Kailasha, Shiva's abode in the Himalayas) and many others abound in this region.

More examples include a place name, Shiwa Nagandu on the river Mansha. The Nagandu in Shiwa Nagandu is certainly a reference to the Nagas or the serpents that Lord Shiva wears around his neck. Naga is Sanskrit for serpent. The river Manasa flows into lake Ishiba, Isha is yet another name of Lord Shiva. Another river that flows into lake Ishiba is the Chimbawi. Chimbawi or Shambavi is the feminine form of Shambhu. Then there is the Luwanya that flows into Ishiba. Lavanya is Sanskrit for 'beautiful'.

The name Ganga, the river that Shiva holds in his locks, too appears repeatedly. For example there is the River Iganga near Jinja in Uganda or the Goi-Ganga, a town which lies on the river Luvua, west of lake Tangayika. On the east coast of Lake Victoria lies the town of Gunga.

Then there are names related to the lore of Krishna, there is a place called Mbharata, a reminder of the Mahabharata of which Krishna was the protagonist. There is Kasensaro on the shore of Lake Victoria. Kasensaro is easily decoded as Krishna Sara, Sara is lake in Sanskrit. Sara also appears as seli in the name of Lake Amboseli, not far away from Mt. Meru on the Tanzani-Kenya border. Amba is water in Sanskrit. Sara appears as Saru in the name of lake Sarunga in southern Tanzania.

Krishna's name appears in the name Kisangini, another place name which in fact is a combination of both, the name of Krishna, and giri (mountain) distorted to 'gani'.

The lore of Krishna is tied with that of Shiva in the story of Banasura who's daughter Usha marries the grandson of Krishna.

More about the Sanskritic links to the name Tanzania and Tanganayika, and the role of the Puranic mapping of Africa in the discovery of the source of the Nile as described by explorer Captain John Hanning Speke who discovered (or rediscovered) the source of the Nile in the next post.

Links for reference:

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. "

The Rig Veda, A History Showing how the Phoenicians had their earliest home in India.

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

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