The wide occurrence of the Sanskrit root word ‘Para’ (पार) which means ‘to bring across, a small piece or quantity of something, the other side, shore or boundary’ in various place-names of old Persian empires proves the dispersion of the Indian tribes into Central Asia and beyond. The movement of the tribes like the Gandharvas, the Yakshas, the Yadus and the Kinnaras in all directions is documented in the great Indian epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. 

The etymological origins of the word ‘Persia’ are unclear though it is known that the most ancient form of the name ‘Persia’ is ‘Parsa’. The name ‘Paras’ is of Sanskrit origins and of Indian coinage. In India ‘Persia’ was known as ‘Paras’ (परस्) which means ‘further’, ‘away’ or ‘beyond’.

With the death of the Aryan Invasion Theory, and the confirmation (by satellite imaging) of the existence of what was until very recently dismissed as a mythical river and a figment of the imagination of the great Indian sages – the Sarasvati, is evident that the direction of the flow of culture was radiating from India into other parts of the world. For the sake of argument if one were to say that there was an Aryan invasion, one would have to believe that the people of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, Russia all moved towards India and somehow created a homogeneous Vedic way of life. All these ancient cultures, and many others, lay a claim to the Sanskrit language. Yet not one of them has even the memory of one sutra  or one shloka – let alone an epic in the Sanskrit language.

With this as the background, here is a look at the Parthian empire in Persia- that lasted from 227 BC to 224 AD. 

First the name. In Sanskrit, the word ‘partha’ (पार्थ) means ‘prince’ and was one of the many names of the great warrior Arjuna. Arjuna was the son of Pritha (पृथा), also known as Kunti (of Mahabharata). Kunti was born as ‘Pritha’, but was promised to be given away to her childless uncle, and hence separated from her parents. The name ‘Pritha’ itself is derived from the Sanskrit ‘Prth’ (पृथ्) which means ‘separate’. 

Second, the local name of what was later known as the Parthian Empire was Parthava (पार्थव). In Sanskrit, the word Parthava (पार्थव) means that which belongs to ‘Pritha’. The capital city of Parthava was Partha-nisa (पार्थ-नीषह्). ‘NiSHa’ means ‘overpowering’ or ‘powerful’ in Sanskrit.

{As an aside – both the Ramayana and Mahabharata, warrior tribes from India – of which Sri Krishna’s Yadhu tribe is one of the most well known – had spread their empires far and wide empire right up to Uttarakuru and the Kuru Sagara, that is now known as the Kara Sea (in the North Arctic Ocean) in the North. The Ramayana mentions the ‘Vanara’ search party travel in all directions – including what can only be identified as the Andes and  Peru. The ‘Paracas Trident’ etched on a mountain slope in the Andes mountains of Peru visible to this day is mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana.}

Third, the ancient name of the city which the Greeks later called Persepolis was ‘Parasapura’  (पारसपुर). In Sanskrit ‘pura’ means ‘city’. Another ancient Persian city, that is ‘Susa’, is known for the ‘Palace of Darius’ which is located on the hill mound of ‘Apadana’, dated to 5th century BC. The Palace itself was built on the ruins of other ancient structures. The ‘Apadana’ was the ‘entrance hall’ and ‘portico’ of the Palace of Darius. Interestingly, in Sanskrit ‘apadana’ (आपादन) means ‘to bring’ used here in the sense of an ‘entrance to a building structure’. Incidentally, the word Susa (शूष), as a noun means ‘power’ and as an adjective means ‘courageous’ in Sanskrit.

The Parthians displayed the art, architecture, religious beliefs, and royal insignia heavily influenced by the culture of India. Take a look:

A Parthian warrior
Notice the ‘dhoti’- like attire

common in India till today

The minstrels, that is the musicians and singers in the courts of the Parthian nobility were known as ‘gosan’. The word ‘gosan’ is derived from the Sanskrit ‘ghoshan’ (घोषण) which means ‘proclaiming’, ‘announcing’ or ‘sounding’.

Here is a sculpture of a Parthian Queen, notice the attire and the hand position.

Parthian Queen

The ‘blessing hand’ gesture is commonly seen in Indian sculpture.

The ‘blessing hand posture’ is

common to Vedic Gods and Goddess. India.

The Lord Krishna-like sculpture from Susa, Iran

Notice the ‘Angarakha’ style knotted front of the attire.

The string-knot ‘Angarakha’ is common to the folk attire

of Gujarat and Rajasthan in India

Notice the neck of the Angarakha

tied with strings worn

in Rajasthan, India.

A column at ‘Apadana’ at the entrance of
 the Palace of Darius, Iran. ‘Apadana’
means ‘entrance’ in Sanskrit.

‘Nandi’ the bull is a common fixture at the entrances of the Shiva temples in India.

Nandi, the bull

at the entrance of Thanjavur Temple, India

No Sanskrit manuscripts have ever been found outside of India, though some Sanskrit inscriptions have been found at temple sites in Iran. It is curious that the Palace of Darius has an entrance hall called by a Sanskrit word, ‘apadana’. This in no way indicates that the word ‘apadana’ appeared in Sanskrit from Avestan. The reason is the sustained logic within Sanskrit. 

For example ‘apada’ (आपद् ) which means ‘enter’, ‘bring near or towards’,’fetch’ or ‘get in’ is related to the words ‘apadana’ (entrance), ‘apadayati’ (bring near or fetch), ‘apada’ (arriving at) and so on. And the base root is ‘pad’ (पद्) which means ‘step’. Notice that all the words mentioned here are related to the property of taking a step or getting into a situation or moving. Even getting into trouble is known as ‘aapada’ (आपदा) in Sanskrit – aaPada – a non-step, or the inverse of a step. There is nothing random in Sanskrit – the entire vocabulary is neatly tied up – by scientific arrangement and by logic.

Thus Sanskrit, developed as a part of the Vedic culture of India and both the language and the influence of the Vedic and the Indus Valley culture travelled in all directions out of India.

Suggested Links:

The Mithraic Studies: Proceedings of the First International Congress


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