The Caucasus Mountains are a mountain system which include two ranges, the Greater Caucasus and the Lesser Caucasus ranges.

The highest peak in the Caucasus range is Mount Elbarus in the Greater Caucasus. Elbarus is said to get its name from Proto-Iranian ‘Hara Bṛzati’. where ‘bṛzant’ means ‘high, originally from Sanskrit ‘brihant’ (बृहन्त) which means ‘high’. Some of the other notable peaks in the Caucasus that have a Sanskrit connect are the Shkhara, Janga, and Ushaba. ‘Shkhara’ which is the highest point in the nation of Georgia seems to be derived from the Sanskrit ‘Shikhira’ (शिखर) which means ‘apex’ or ‘summit’. ‘Janga’ sounds like a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘tunga’ (तुङ्ग) meaning ‘peak’. [The name ‘Kanchanjanga’, a peak in the Himalayan range in India is also a distortion of ‘Kanchantunga’ (Golden Peak), though other interpretations have been offered brushing aside the Sanskrit meaning that explains the name the best]. ‘Ushabha’ is likely a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘Usha’ (उषा) meaning ‘dawn’ or ‘Ushapa’ (उषप) meaning ‘fire’ and ‘sun’. Yet another peak is named ‘Ushguli’ – probably derived from the Sanskrit ‘Ushakala’ (उषःकाल) which means ‘dawn-break’ or ‘morning’.

Mount Ushaguli, Georgia.
The na
me ‘Ushaguli’ is probablly a
distortion of Sanskrit ‘Ushakala’
Photo Courtesy:

Javakheti Plateau is a volcanic plateau within the Caucasus Mountains.There have been theories about the etymology of the name but the one that explains the name ‘Java-kheti’ best is probably Sanskrit. ‘Java’ could well be distorted ‘jwala’ (ज्वाला) which means ‘fire’. In Sanskrit and Hindi volcanoes are known as ‘jvala – mukhi’ which translates as ‘fire – mouth’. ‘Kheti’ could be a distortion of ‘Kshetra‘ (क्षेत्र) meaning ‘region’. In the local language though it is conjectured that ‘Java’ is derived from the name of a tribe by the name ‘Javakh’. 

The highest point in the Java-kheti is Mount Achkasar. In the vicinity are Mt. Parakh, Mt. Ashotskar and Mt. Sevasar. The ‘sara’
(सर) end-syllable in the na
mes ‘Achkasar’, ‘Ashotskar’ and ‘Sevasar’, namely ‘sara’ seems to indicate that these are names of lakes and springs. The Himalayan range of India has many lakes names which end in the syllable ‘sar’, for example ‘Satisar’, ‘Vishensar’, Kishansar’ etc. The Sanskrit ‘sara’ (सर) means ‘lake’.. The ‘Sevasar’ in the Caucasian range in Armenia seems to be named after Lord Shiva. 

Indeed the earliest mention of the name Javakheti was found in the Uratu sources of King Argishti-I  dated to 785 BC. The name recorded there was ‘Zaabakha’ which itself seems to be a distortion of ‘Shivaka’ (शिवक) which means ‘an idol or image of Shiva’. Infact the name of the tribe ‘Javakh’ may itself be derived from ‘Shiva’. Even the name ‘Achkasar’ seems to have been derived from the Sanskrit ‘Akshara’ (अक्षर) which means ‘fixed’, ‘unalterable’, ‘Shiva’ and ‘Vishnu’. Another range in the Lesser Caucasus region is known as Abul-Samsari Range. ‘Samsara’ (संसार) is Sanskrit for ‘creation’, ‘world’ or the ‘universe’.

Located in the Javakheti Plateau between Abul Samsari and Javakheti Range is the Paravani Lake which is fed by the Paravani River. The name again seems to have a Sanskrit source, ‘para’ (पार) means ‘across’ in Sanskrit and ‘avani’ (अवनि) means ‘bed of a river’ or ‘stream’. Another volcanic lake name ‘Tabatskuri’ seems to have been derived from ‘Tapeshvari’, ‘tapa’ (ताप) meaning ‘warmth’ or ‘heat’ and ‘ishvari’ (ईश्वरी) meaning ‘goddess’.

Lake Paravni, Georgia, is fed by River Paravni.
In Sanskrit ‘par’ means ‘across’ and
‘avani’ means ‘stream’ or ‘river’.

Then there is the volcano by the name Mkinvartsveri in the Caucasus in Georgia.The name is translated as ‘Ice Capped’ from Georgian. But from the Sanskrit perspective, the ‘varta’ (वार्ता) and ‘sveri’ (स्वरि) in Mkinvartsveri refer to Sound. It implies ‘Mkinvartsveri’ was a ‘Sound Making Volcano’. The last syllable in Mkinvartasveri may also refer to ‘ishvari’ (ईश्वरी) which means ‘Goddess’ in Sanskrit. The volcano may thus have borne the name ‘Goddess of Sound’.

The As for the name ‘Caucasus’ itself, the Calmet’s Dictionary of the Holy Bible says that, “As the Greek word Caucasus was probably derived from India, and the tracing of it to its source is connected with some geographical views, it may not be uninteresting to refer to Francis Wilford’s extract from Asiatic Researches“. Quoting from Francis Wilford’s writings, Calmet’s Bible Dictionary of the Holy Bible  says, “The true Sanskrit name of the Caucasus mountain is C’hasa-giri or the mountain of the C’hasa, a most ancient and powerful tribe who inhabited this immense range, from the eastern limits of India, to the confluence of Persia and most probably as far as the Euxine and the Mediterranean seas…. They are often mentioned in the sacred books of the Hindus. Their descendants still inhabit the same regions and are known to this day as C’hsas, and in some places as C’hsyas and Cosias….. They are certainly a very ancient tribe for they are mentioned in the institutes of Menu (Manu); and their great ancestor C’hasa or C’hasya is mentioned by Sanchuniathon* under the name of Cassius. He is supposed to have lived before the great floods and to have given his name to the mountains he seized upon.” [*Sanchunaithon is an ancient Phoenician author to whom the work ‘Ammouneis’ (or the Priests of ‘Ammon’) is attributed.] 

Suggested Links:

1. The Shirak Region 

2. Vedic World Heritage


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