The ‘tepui’ are the table-top mountains of the Guiana Highlands of Venezuela, South America. In the ancient Native tongue of the Pemon, the indigenous people who inhabited the Grana Sabana region of Venezuela, the word ‘tepui’ means ‘house of the gods’.

In Sanskrit, the root word ‘tap’ (तप्) means austerity, penance and is often used in reference to the sacred sites, such as the many ‘Tapovans’ (तपोवन) in the Himalayan mountain range. Tapovan is a combination of the Sanskrit root word ‘tap’ (तप्) meaning ‘sacred, penance, meditation etc’ and ‘vana’ (वन) meaning ‘forest’. In the ancient times, and this is true of India even today, sages and rishis retire to the hills and mountains for ‘tap’ (meditation).

Cognates of the Sanskrit ‘tap’ appear in names of many ancient holy hills and mountain names in South America especially in Mexico. Some of these are Tepatit·n, Tuxtepec, Tepec, Tepic, Mazatepec, Tepetatas, Tepantita, Tepetzintla, Tepuste, Tepetlix and Tepetlalco. (These names are from the research done by Gene Matlock). Even in Turkey, in the name Goebekli Tepe, one of the most ancient sites in the world, the word Tepe makes an appearance.

In Sanskrit any sacred place including hills are known as Tapod (तपोद). In ancient India, the hills of Himalayas were the centres of ‘tap’ or ‘tapasya’, that is sacred meditation. Scholars such as Gene Matlock have linked the word ‘tepe’ to the sanskrit ‘stupa’ (स्तूप) which means a ‘heap’ or a ‘pile’ or a ‘mound’. It was later that the word ‘stupa’ was associated with the Buddhist ‘stupa’ structures. In some Sanskrit derived languages distortions caused the dropping of the first syllable ‘s’.

One of the largest known Tepui in Venezuela is the ‘Auyantepuis’. It has an area of about 700 square kms. In Sanskrit the word Aunantaya (औन्नत्य) means ‘height’ or ‘elevation’.

There is another tepuis by the name of ‘Sari-sarinama’ famous for its water cascades and water sinkholes. In Sanskrit the word ‘Sara’ (सर) means a ‘spring’, it also means ‘fluid’, ‘waterfall’, and ‘cascade of water’. Incidentally, the word ‘sara’ also makes an appearance in the name of the water-springs town of ‘Saratoga’ in New York, USA.

Whether the ancient inhabitants of the Gran Sabana area in Venezuela had any links to Asia and Sanskrit is difficult to say, but there are many more ancient place names such as Tepuis Neblina, {Sanskrit Nabha (नभ) – meaning ‘sky’} or Tepuis Autana, {Sanskrit Audana (ओदन) meaning ‘cloud’} which points to the fact that maybe there was a link between the ancient peoples of India and Venezuela which researchers today may find  worth exploring.


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