“Maranon is the native name of the River Amazon – Madawaska,  that of St. John’s – it runs through the finely named Tanaskwata lake before it loses itself into the Atlantic. Kamoursaka is the ancient native name of the country and river between Quebec and St. John’s: & thereabout is the town formerly called Michilimackinack. Trivial alteration in the vowel sounds of these names will convert them into Sanskrit looking and Sanskrit sounding and Sanskrit meaning words….”  – once again a remark taken from Edward Moor’s book ‘Oriental Fragments’ published in 1854.

Here is a look at the name ‘Madawaska’ through the Sanskrit lens. ‘Mada’ (मदा) means both ‘river’ and ‘honey’ or ‘something that intoxicates’, ‘vaska’ (वस्क) is ‘motion’, ‘Madawaska’ is therefore ‘flowing water’ or ‘honey-river’ or ‘intoxicated river’. ‘Intoxicated river’ is the most apt for twice a day the river ‘reverses’ and flows backwards – the movement forced by the world’s highest tides from the Bay of Fundy!

The ‘Madavaska’ also called St. John’s River in
Quebec reverses its direction of flow during high tides.
Madavaska is Sanskrit for ‘intoxicated waters’.

The Madawaska River flows from lake Tamiscouta. ‘Tamaskwata’ as Edward Moor had spelt it, or ‘Temiscouta’ as it is spelt today is an interesting name. One may link the name to either ‘tapaskvata’ or ‘tamaskvata’ – ‘tapas’ (तपस) in the Vedic tradition has to do with ‘purification of the soul through asceticism’ or refers to something arduous or difficult to achieve – it is said that the extremely long lake was a difficult barrier for those trying to cross it. A nearby parish is called Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! Legend has it that ‘Ha Ha’ refers to the unexpected obstacles for those travelling across. 

As for the word ‘tamas’, Tamasa was the river on the banks of which Sri Rama, his brother Lakshmana and Sita along with many other Ayodhyaites  spent the first night of the 14-year forest exile. The suffix ‘kwata’ or ‘couta’ may either be derived from ‘kavan’ (कवन) ‘water’ or ‘kuvam’ (कुवम) sun’.

Temiscouta Lake  may derive its
name from the Sanskrit ‘Tapas’ or ‘Tamas’.

‘Kamoursaka’ or ‘Kamourska’ is probably related to the Sanskrit word ‘Kumar’ (कुमार) which has to with a ‘young person’ or a ‘price’ and is even the name of the ‘God of War’ of the Vedic tradition.

Kumourska is the stretch of land between
Quebec and St. John’s


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