‘Vasudeva Kutumbakam’ (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्) – “The entire world is a family”  is a philosophy which stems from a spiritual understanding that the whole of humanity is made of one life energy. It was the motto of the Vedic civilization. As one traces the ancient history of the world further back in time, the names of gods and goddess, the stories, mythology, language, place names (especially of mountains and rivers) around the world- all seem to converge, suggesting that their might have been only one world civilization in great antiquity. 

Here is a look at the names of significant rivers and streams of the Bible and their description in the scriptures through the prism of the Sanskrit language.

Biblical Rivers.
The names ‘Kishon’ and ‘Kanah’ stand out –
both are names of  Sri Krishna

River Arnon: The Arnon flowed through Moab to the mid point of the Dead Sea. In Sanskrit ‘arna’ (अर्ण) and ‘arnA’ (अर्णा) both mean ‘river’!

Rivers of Damascus: (The ‘Abana’ and the ‘Pharpar’). The Abana flowed through the city of Damascus and the Pharpar just to the south of it.

Abana is likely a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘avana’ or ‘avani’ (अवनि) which means ‘stream’ – the ‘v’ often changes to ‘b’ when languages begin to distort. The river is also sometimes known as ‘Amana’, that name too could be a distortion of  the Sanskrit ‘amana‘ (आमन) which means ‘friendliness’.

The River Abana, now known as the Barada
flows through the city of Damascus.
Edward Pococke traced the name ‘Damascus’ to
Sanskrit ‘Dharma’ which distorts to ‘Damma’
in the name  ‘Damascus’.

The etymology of ‘Pharpar‘ is also unknown though Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary states that Pharpar is that which produces ‘fruit’. Hence, the Sanskrit connection. In Sanskrit ‘phala-apAra’ (फल- अपार), ‘phala’ meaning ‘fruit’ or ‘reward’ and ‘apAra’ meaning ‘boundless’.

River Kebar: The Kebar was a canal of the Euphrates in Babylon where the exiles gathered to pray. The word ‘Kebar’ also spelled as ‘Khabur’ may be a probably distortion of the Sanskrit ‘Khavari’ (खवारि) meaning ‘vapor’, ‘dew’ or ‘rain water’.

River Kerith: The exact location of this Biblical river is uncertain, but it ran from the east into the Jordan or one of its tributaries. The word ‘Ksharit’ (क्षरित) in Sanskrit means ‘flowing’ and ‘sarita’ (सरित) means ‘river’.

River Kishon: The Kishon flowed north-west across the Plain of Megiddo and could quickly flood as a result of storms. The name ‘Kishon’ might be a distortion of the name ‘Kishen’ (किशन)  or ‘Krishan’ (कृष्ण).

River Nile: The Nile flowed north some 3,500 miles (5,600 km) from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean, providing a natural irrigation system in the desert through its annual floodings. This river’s name is said to be a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘neel’ (नील) meaning ‘dark blue’.

Sir Francis Wilford traced the name of Nile to
the Sanskrit ‘neel’ (नील) meaning ‘blue’.

River Tigris: The Tigris flowed from the Armenian mountains through Mesopotamia to join the Euphrates north of the Persian Gulf. The name Tigris is said to be a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘vyagra’ (व्याघ्र) meaning ‘tiger’ or ‘Tivra’ (तीव्र) meaning ‘swift’.

River Euphrates: The Euphrates flowed through Mesopotamia for some 1,700 miles (2,700 km) from its source in eastern Turkey to the Persian Gulf. Edward Pococke was of the view that Greek name Euphrates is derived either from the Sanskrit ‘Su’ and ‘Bharat’, after the name of the ancient king ‘Bharat’. This may well have been so for the Akkadian name for the river was ‘Purattu’, probably a distortion of ‘Bharat’.

River Jordan: The Jordan flows from the slopes of Mount Hermon through Lake Huleh and the Sea of Galilee, and on into the Dead Sea, providing a fertile basin on either side of the river. The name of the river is a probable distortion of the name ‘Jaradhana’. The same may be said for the name ‘Zered’ – both related to the Sanskrit ‘Jhara’ (झर) meaning ‘waterfall’ or ‘cascade’. For a detailed note on the Sanskrit connection to the name Jordon click here.

Suggested Links:

1. Ancient Map of Israel: The Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Kashmir Connection


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