Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bound to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. 

The name Georgia is an exonym, used in the West since the medieval period. It is presumably derived from the Persian designation of the Georgians as, ‘gurg’ which means ‘wolves’. Mainstream interpretation as discussed in Wikipedia is that ‘gurg’ is a corruption of Middle Persian vark-ana, meaning ‘land of wolves’.

However, what is left unsaid is that the Persian ‘varkana’ itself originates from the Sanskrit ‘vrik’ (वृक) meaning ‘wolf’. For more on this subject and the Sanskrit connect to Georgian names click here.

One of the major rivers in Georgia is the Kura which is name of Turkish origins. Some have contented that the River Kura gets its name from the ancient Albanian term for ‘reservoir’. Once gain the Sanskrit connect is evident. In Sanskrit, ‘karshu’ (कर्षू) means ‘river’, so does ‘kula’ (कूल) which is more often used to refer to a ‘river bank’. A ‘kupa’ (कूप) is a ‘well’ and ‘kulya’ (कुल्या) is a small river. Derivatives of ‘kula’ such as ‘kulini’ (कूलिनी) and ‘kulvati’ (कूलवती) also mean ‘river’. 

The Georgian name of the river Kura is Mt’k’vari and its roots are traced to the Georgian ‘good water’. That too has a Sanskrit connect, for ‘vaari’ (वारि) and ‘vaarii’ (वारी) both mean ‘water’ in Sanskrit.

The Mt’k’vari forms a ‘sangam‘ of sorts with another river by the name ‘Araghave’. Mainline sources say that the name ‘Araghave’ originates from old Iranian Ragvi meaning ‘swift’. Once again compare this to the Sanskrit  ‘raghu’ (रघु) meaning ‘rapid’ or even ‘raghav’ (राघव) meaning ‘sea’ or ‘ocean’. ‘Araghave’ is the Armenian version of the name ‘Raghave’.

The Aragvi (right) meets the Mtkvari at Mtskheta, one of the 

oldest inhabited cities of the word. Aragvi, Mtkvari
 and Mtskheta are names of Sanskrit origins.

Mtsketa is one of the earliest inhabited cities of the world. It was the centre of ancient temples in pre-Christian times and it became one of the first places to see the destruction of its temples at the time of the rise of Christianity such as the one in Tshika Gora  – see picture below. 

Georgian bull-motif from an ancient temple column
excavated in Tsikha Gora, Georgia is a reminder

of the Vedic ‘Nandi’ .
Picture Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Iranica

The image of the kneeling bull ‘Nandi’ is a common occurrence in Hindu temples – both ancient and present.

The kneeling bull- Nandi, India

The etymology of the name Mtskheta is unknown. However, there are cities in Georgia which have both ‘kheta’ and ‘khetr’ as the suffix. Examples include – Kakheti, Samstkhe and Java Khetr. Now ‘kshetra’ (क्षेत्र) is Sanskrit for ‘area’ and is used as a suffix in the names of ancient cities in India, such as Kurukshetra. It is highly likely then that the name Mtskheta has a distorted form of ‘kshetra’ as its suffix. 

The name of the highest mountain in Georgia is Mount Shkhara and the second highest is Mount Janga – the Sanskrit ‘shikhar’ (शिखर) and ‘tunga’ (तुङ्ग) both mean ‘peak’.

On the confluence of the rivers Ksana and Aragvi, on a watershed mountain, is located a church surrounded by the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to a bull by the name Lomisi who is associated with the moon god represented by the half-moon

The church at Lomisa, Georgia
with the ruins of an ancient temple associated with
the half-moon-good and a bull.
The ancient Temple of Lomisa at Georgia and

 its legend of the moon-god and his bull

is at once a reminder of Lord Shiva, and his bull, Nandi.

The ancient pagan temple at Lomisa, is associated with the cult of a bull by the name Lomisa and the legend of the half moon god! That of course is a reminder of Nandi, also called Rishabha (of which the word Lomisa might be a distortion) and Lord Shiva with the crescent moon in his top knot.

So is there any trace of a Shivalinga in Lomisa. Here is what a local travel agent, Tinatin Bujiashvili has to say, “The church built of rough stone is a triple-church basilica, in which the nave and aisles are separated by solid, continuous walls instead of by colonnades. The peculiarity of this church lies in the fact that in the middle of its interior 
stands the column, which doesn’t have any constructional function. Some scholars argue that it might symbolically represent ‘the life-giving pillar’ of Svetitskhoveli, ‘sveti’ meaning ‘pillar’ and ‘tskhoveli’ meaning ‘life-giving’.” The central pillar of Lomisa is also believed to have miraculous properties and it is said that around it miraculous water flowed that cured people of diseases. 

An artist’s depiction of the ‘Svetitskhoveli’.
The Temple  of Lomisa is in ruins
but a Svetitskhoveli Temple which is now a church
exists in Mtskheta in Georgia.

The ‘Svetitskhoveli’ seems to be be akin to the Shivapurana legend of the ‘Pillar of Light’ or ‘Pillar of Fire’ which is a form of ‘Lord Shiva’. The Shiva Purana says that Brahma and Vishnu were touring the Universe one day and found a pillar of light which extended farther than they could perceive in two directions. They were curious and decided to split up to see if one of them could find an end. Vishnu went in one direction and Brahma the other, After some time, they returned to their starting place. Vishnu said that he was unable to find the beginning, no matter how far he traveled. Brahma said that he found a beginning though he had not. Thereupon, the Pillar of Light immediately changed into a form of Shiva. Lord Shiva in this form is known as JyotiLingam. To Read more about the Pillar of Light or Fire of Shiva Purana click here.

Ellora Caves, India
Shiva as ‘The Pillar of Light’

And here is a look at the archaeological sites in Georgia. Most of the names are obviously of Sanskrit origins.

Ancient archeological sites of Georgia.
Most of the names have Sanskrit origins.
Courtesy: Encyclopaedia Iranica

Notice the river names: Kodori, probably from Sanskrit ‘kedar’ (  केदार  )  और ‘basin of water’, Enguri a cognate of ‘angkur’ (अङ्कुर) meaning ‘water’, Sukhumi, a cognate of ‘sukham ‘ (सुखम्) meaning ‘happiness’, Virali, a cognate of ‘viral’ (विरल) meaning ‘rare’ and so on.


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