Friday, 12 April 2013


Intihuatana at the 'Machu Picchu' site' in the Urubamba Valley in Cusco region of Peru is one of the most visited sites in South America. There has been a long debate on what the etymology of the name 'Intihuatana' is. 'Intihuatana' has been translated as the 'Hitching post for the Sun (at two equinoxes)' from Quechua, one of ancient Native South American languages.

Here is a look at the name 'Intihuatana' through the Sanskrit lens. In Quechua 'Inti' means 'Sun'. A close cognate of the word 'Inti' in Sanskrit is 'Ina' (इन) which means 'Sun'. 

'Ayana' (अयन) in Sanskrit means 'solstice or equinox'. 'Hayana' in Sanskrit means 'year' or 'that which happens every year' in connection with the two solstices that happen every year.It is highly likely that the ancient name of 'Intihuatana' was really 'intihuayana'. This argument is not far-fetched considering that located right behind 'Machu Picchu', on a higher point  is another observatory by the name 'Hu-ayana Piccha'! 

In Sanskrit, 'Ayana' is really a versatile word - for it also means 'precession', 'half year', and 'circulation or rotation'. Then again, in Sanskrit 'hayana' (हायन) means 'returning every year or 'lasting a year'! That clinches it. 'Inti Hayana'.

Intihuatana at Hu-Ayana Piccha Observatory, Peru
The names are derived from Sanskrit "ina' which means 'Sun'
and 'Ayana' which means 'Solstice'.
Intihuatana is also known as 'Saywa' or 'Sukhanka'. For any Sanskrit or Hindi speaker, this really says it all. 'Savya' (सव्य) has to do with 'directions', 'left', 'right', 'south', 'reverse', 'backward' and, is the name of 'one of the ten ways in which an eclipse takes place'. 'Sauva' (सौव) means 'celestial' or 'heavenly'. 

And 'Sukhanaka' (सुख - अङ्क) is a delightful name. In Sanskrit 'Sukha' means 'happy', and 'pleasant'. 'Anka' (अङ्क) means 'digit', 'number' or 'spot'. 'Intihuatana' was therefore an observatory - its stones aligned to the Sun and other heavenly bodies!

Then there is the Sanskrit term 'inthiha' (इन्थिहा). This is an astrological term from the ancient Indian treatise on Astrology - the Brihat Prashara Hora Shastra. According to this text the term 'Inthiha' indicates to a particular position of a planet where it is the most powerful in terms of the light rays emitting from it and striking the earth. The root word for 'inthiha' (इन्थिहा) is 'int' (ईन्त्) which means 'to bind on'. Hence the term 'binding to the sun' or 'hitching post of the sun' is also explained by the Sanskrit 'Inthiha'.

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