It is believed that Bosnia gets its name from Bosna River. The river’s name was first recorded in the Roman chronicles as ‘Bossina’. Philologist Anton Mayer has traced the name ‘Bosna’ to Proto Indo European (PIE) root ‘bos’ or ‘bogh’*, which is the re-constructed word in PIE, taken to mean ‘running water’.

Here’s a look at the name ‘Bosnia’ through the Sanskrit lens while still retaining its PIE meaning . The Sanskrit root words for ‘flow’, ‘water current’ or ‘flowing’ are ‘vAha’ (वाह) and ‘vaha’ (वह) which in the Sanskrit derived languages, such as Hindi, have with time changed into ‘baha’ (बह). The transposition of the sound ‘v’ by ‘b’ is common as languages change and distort*. In fact, a variant of the Bosna River’s name, still in use, is ‘Vasana’.

Bosnia gets its name from River Bosnia
which is also called the ‘Vasana’
probably a distortion of Sanskrit ‘Vahana
meaning ‘to flow’ or ‘carry forward’.

In Sanskrit ‘vahini’* (वाहिनी) means ‘river’ or a ‘river channel’. ‘Vaha’ ( वाह ) as mentioned above means ‘to flow’ but it also means ‘to carry’. It is from here that the the word ‘vahana’ (वाहन), meaning ‘transportation cart or car’, is derived. It is also the word from where the English ‘vehicle’ is derived. However, English dictionaries trace the word ‘vehicle’ to Proto Indo European ‘wegh’, which is taken to mean ‘to carry’. In Sanskrit ‘vega’ (वेग) means ‘momentum’ or ‘velocity’.

In fact, there is a river by the name of ‘Vah’ in neighboring Slovakia. It has two branches, Biely Vah (White Vah) and Cierny Vah (Black Vah). In Sanskrit ‘Balaksha’ (बलक्ष) means white and ‘Krishn’ (कृष्ण) means black – and ‘Biely’ and ‘Cierny’ may be related to the two Sanskrit words.

The  River ‘Vah’ , Slovakia
‘Vah’ ( वह) means ‘to flow’ in Sanskrit.

As an aside, the Sanskrit ‘Vahini’ has to do with ‘moving, flowing or anything which has force’. It is therefore also the Sanskrit for ‘armed forces’. For example, in the word ‘Mukhti Bahini’ (Bangladesh Liberation Force), once again ‘Vahini’ has changed into ‘Bahini’.

* For a note on the Sanskrit connection to PIE ‘bogh’ click here


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