Seneca, is the name of a Native American tribe that lived near the Great Lakes, whose name is said to mean ‘Place of Stones’. The Seneca nation’s endonym (the name by which the Seneca call themselves), is ‘Onondowaga’, meaning “People of the Great Hill.”

‘Onondo-waga’ may be a distortion of the Sanskrit Ananda-Vigar meaning Joyous Mountain or more appropriately Beautiful Mountain. ‘Ananda’ (आनन्द) has many meanings such as Joyful, Happiness, Blissful and Beautiful.

‘Waga’ may have been derived from any of the many words for ‘mountain’ in Sanskrit: such as Vigar (विगर), Tunga (तुङ्ग), Shringin (शृङ्गिन्) and Urvanga (उर्वङ्ग). Waga sounds closest to thae Sanskrit ‘Vigar’ or ‘Urvanga’ and may be a distortion of either of the two.

Other nations called the Onondo-Waga by the name ‘Seneca’ after their principal village of Osininka. Since “Osininka” sounds like Asinikaa(n), meaning “Those at the Place Full of Stones”, the name Seneca caught on.

George P. Donehoo in his book “Indian (Native American) Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania” writes, that ‘achsun’ or ‘asun’ and its corruption ‘assini’ all mean stone in Native American languages.

‘Achsun’ and ‘asun’ are Native American words, yet very close to the Sanskrit ‘ashan’ (अशन्) and ‘ashna’ (अश्न). Both the words mean ‘stone’ in Sanskrit as they do in the Delaware dialect and other Native American languages.


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