Isn’t it curious that the etymology of so many words in various European languages is traced to Greek, yet we find that these words have no meaning in Greek itself.

If one were to look at the names of the Vedic Gods, like Shiva, Indra, Rama, Krishna, Bramha etc. – these may be names of Gods, but these are also Sanskrit words. For example, ‘shiva’ (शिव) means ‘gracious’, ‘indra’ (इन्द्र) means ‘excellent’, ‘rama’ (राम) means ‘pleasant’ or ‘pleasing’, krishna’ (कृष्ण) means ‘black’ or ‘dark’, ‘brahma’ (ब्रह्म) means ‘divine’ or ‘holy’. Mountains and river names have meanings – ‘Himalaya’ – ‘hima alaya’ (हिम आलय) means ‘abode of snow’, River Ganga – ganga (गंग) means ‘fast flowing’, ‘Yamuna’, yamuna (यमुन) means ‘twin born’ and so on…..

Then there are the cities of Mahabharata, for example, the five villages that the Pandavas demanded from the Kurus in lieu of Hastinapur. Their current and ancient names are easily identifiable:
1. Swarna-prastha ( स्वर्णप्रस्थ) or ‘the city of gold’ (Sonipat, Haryana)
2. Pandu-prastha ( पाण्डुप्रस्थ) or ‘the city of Pandu’ (Panipat, Haryana)
3. Indra-prastha (इंद्रप्रस्थ) ‘the city of Indra’ or ‘excellent city’. Delhi)
4. Vyagra-prastha (व्याघ्रप्रस्थ), or ‘the city of tigers’ (Baghpat, Haryana)
5. Tila-prastha (तिलप्रस्थ) Tilapat, ‘the city of seasame’, (Tilapat in Haryana)

Says Edward Pococke in his book ‘India in Greece’ (1852) – “Let it be granted that the names given to mountains, rivers and towns have some meaning. Let it be granted that the language of the native name-givers will explain the meaning. Greeks dwelt in a land called Greece, – their language should explain the names of its mountains and rivers.”

Why then is it that Greek is unable to do so? Edward Pococke takes a look at the map of Greece and the names that appear on it. – “As a Greek, let me translate Stympha, – I cannot, Dodona – I cannot, Cambunnei Montes – I cannot, Hellopes – I cannot, Aithices – I cannot, Bodon – I cannot, Chonia – I cannot, Crossaea – I cannot, Corinthes, Ossa, Acaranania – I cannot. Arcadia, Achai, Boeotia, Ellis, Larissa – I cannot… What then can I do?

Pococke goes on to decipher many of these Greek city names with the help of Sanskrit and the names of the ancient tribes of India recorded in the Mahabharata and the ancient annals of India – who during India’s long history emigrated westwards and left their trail, in the names of rivers, towns, monuments, right up to Greece and Rome. Pococke’s explanations have not been accepted by many, but there is some truth to it – because an entity no less than the Vatican has since the 1850s suppressed Pococke’s other work ‘India in Rome‘. Its only known copy is said to be available with the Vatican Library.

Here is a map of Greece and Macedonia:

Most of the places on the map of Greece have no meaning in Greek,
but Sanskrit reveals their meaning and their history.

Pococke traces the name Mt. de Pinde to the Pandu tribe of Mahabharata, the name deriving from the Sanskrit  word ‘pandu’ (पाण्डु) meaning ‘pale’ or ‘fair’.  He traces the name Argolis in Greece to ‘Agrevana (अग्रेवण), the ancient name of Agra mentioned in the Mahabharata and meaning ‘on the edge of the forest’. The Greek city of ‘Attica’ gets its name from ancient Attac (now Attock), the birth place of the Sanskrit Grammarian Panini in 520 BC. Attac was located just off the intersection of Kabul River and the Indus on the ancient ‘Uttarapatha’ (उत्तरपथ) or ‘North Road’ – the high road of commerce in ancient India. A Buddhist edict at Attac from the times of Emperor Ashoka (300 BC), declared that Greek populations in Ashoka’s realm had converted to Buddhism and carried the name ‘Attac’ back to Greece with them, hence the city of ‘Attica’ in Greece. ‘Attac’ (in India) got its name from the Sanskrit ‘a+taku’ (अ + तकु) meaning ‘slow movement’ in reference to the slow passage that was characteristic of crossing the lethal area around Attac.

Then there are other Greek place names such as Trikala, Patras, Xanthi that are plain Sanskrit. ‘Trikala’ (त्रिकाल) which is the triad of time – ‘past , present, future’; ‘Xanthi’ (शान्ति) is ‘peace’, ‘Patras’ may be derived from the Greek ‘Pietra’ which is the same as the Sanskrit ‘prastar’ (प्रस्तर) meaning ‘stone’. [The Ajanta-cave like Temple of El-Diar (Sanskrit ‘devalaya’), carved in a stone-mountain known as ‘Pietra’ in Jordon maybe the source of the Greek city name of ‘Patras’.]

Whether or not one agrees with Pococke’s view, the fact remains that Sanskrit and Indian epics do a much better job of explaining the meaning of these Greek names.

The etymology of the names of Greek Gods and Goddesses has never been established. 

1. About the etymology of the Greek Goddess ‘Aphrodite’, wikipedia says, “Aphrodite, perhaps altered from aphrós ‘foam’, stems from the more archaic Cretan Aphordíta and Cypriot Aphorodíta, and was probably ultimately borrowed from Cypriot Phoenician.

2. About the etymology of the name Athena, says, “Greek goddess of wisdom, skill in the arts, warfare, etc., from Latin Athena, from Greek Athene, perhaps from a name in a lost pre-Hellenic language”. 

3. About Hephaestus, Greek god of fire and metal-working, western sources say that his name originates from a pre-Hellenic word of unknown origin. 

Edward Pococke, author ‘India in Greece’ says that this Pre-Hellenic language that the western sources keep referring to was Sanskrit. The language was carried by the ancient tribes of India westward! In fact he says the autonym of Greece, that is ‘Hellas’ originates from the Sanskrit ‘heli’ (हेलि) which means ‘sun’. He also details the ‘sun-tribes’ or the ‘surya-vanshi’ (सूर्यवंशी) of India that travelled westwards.

And what do western sources say of the word ‘Hellas’ or ‘Hellanic’? – only says that Hellenic pertains to a ‘Hellen’ or a ‘Greek’,  of unknown origin. Earliest surviving use of the name ‘hellenic’ is by Homer in reference to a Thessalian tribe.”

Pococke traces the Thessalian tribes that Homer mentioned to the Himalayas of India, and says, “The great Thessalian sierras of Mount Othrys are the Odry’s of India. ‘Odry’ is the Sanscrit name of Himalaya… The name of ‘Othry’s’ will be found much better in the original form in…. a range of heights called ‘Adri-un-Mons’.”  In his view the name ‘Himalaya’ (हिमालय) appears as ‘Thessaly’ and ‘Adri’ (अद्रि) as ‘Othry’, in Greece.

In the meantime, Greek sources are unable to track the source of the name ‘Olympus‘, the highest mountain in Greece. The etymological website says, ‘Olympus is a high mountain in Thessaly, abode of the gods, from Greek Olympos, of unknown origin!’

Isn’t it strange that Western scholars who propounded the incorrect theory of Aryan invasion and said that Sanskrit originated outside of India, in other words came to India from the West, refuse to look at the names of their own ancient towns, cities and mountains with the aid of Sanskrit.

Suggested Links:

1. From Bharata to India: Chrysee the Golden: By M.K. Aggarwal


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