The Matra Mountains of Hungary are situated between the valleys of two rivers – the Tarna and Zagyava. The names are undoubtedly of Sanskrit origin – or at least emerge from a language closely related to Sanskrit. 

‘Taran’ (तरण) means ‘flow across’. A slight tweaking of ‘Zagyva’ renders it close to the Sanskrit word ‘jhara’ (झर) meaning ‘sprinkling’ or ‘water-fall’. ‘Jhara’ and ‘nirjhar’ (निर्झर) or ‘cascade’, appear in the names of major rivers around the world including ‘JordonNigeria and the ‘Niagara‘.

On the east of Zagyva flows the ‘Galga’ – phonetically close to the name ‘Ganga‘. Interestingly even the Volga was once known as ‘Jilga’ and ‘Julga‘ – ‘jal’ (जल) or ‘water’, and ‘g’ () ‘moving’.

Then there is the Berettyo river that flows through the Hajudu-Bihar county of Hungary – ‘Bihar’ is a cognate of the Sanskrit ‘vihar'(विहार)  – literally ‘pleasure’, which with the advent of Buddhism took on the meaning ‘temple’ or ‘academy’. The state of Bihar in India gets its name from a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘Vihara’ – Bihar was once the centre of Buddhist learning. In fact some Indian scholars have argued that even Budapest the capital of Hungary, gets its name from that of the Buddha – given to it by Buddhist monks who left India in droves due to Brahmanical persecution. 
Buda was the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and the western part of the current city of Budapest.

In Hungarian though the word ‘vihar’ means ‘thounder’ or ‘downpour’ which is the same as the Sanskrit root word ‘vAha’ (वाह) which means flowing. Also ‘vahA’ (वहा) means ‘river’.

The Harnad River of Hungary arises in the ‘Tatra‘ Mountains. Harnad (हर – नद) translates as ‘God’s river’ from Sanskrit. Another river name that stands out is that of Kraszna, also written as Crasna – both names cognates of the name ‘Krishna‘.

The  Kraszna River, also called the Crasna.

Other river names include the Zala, again a cognate of ‘jala’ (जल) or ‘water’, Valika (वालिका) ‘edge of a thatched roof’, then there is the river Drava – ‘drava’ (द्रव) Sanskrit for ‘flowing’. 

‘Danube’, also called Danuvius, is said to derive its name from Proto-Indo-European root word is ‘da’ which means ‘rapid, swift and violent’.

Wikipedia states, “It is one of a number of river names derived from a Proto-Indo-European language word *dānu, apparently a term for “river”, but possibly also of a primeval cosmic river, and of a Vedic river goddess (Danu), perhaps from a root *dā “to flow/swift, rapid, violent, undisciplined.” 

In Sanskrit, the word ‘Danu” (दानु) has many meanings. It means ‘dew, dew drops, fluid, valiant and courageous’. The Sanskrit root word is ‘da’ (दा) which means ‘that which is cleansing and purifying, giving and protecting’. 

Sándor Csoma de Kőrös (1784-1842), a Hungarian philologist and Orientalist, author of the first Tibetan-English dictionary and grammar book, believed that the ancient homeland of the Hungarian people was somewhere in the East. Csoma often cited the Ugrian theory, according to which the ‘Ungar’, ‘Hungar’ and similar names of the Magyar people of Hungary were somehow related to the name of the Ugars, as the Uyghurs, living in the border region of China and Mongolia. While studying Tibetan, Csoma also became interested in Sanskrit, which he suspected – a notion he openly espouses in the preface to his Tibetan dictionary – might be related to the Hungarian language.

He famously stated in the preface to his ‘Tibetan Dictionary’, “The Hungarians will find a fund of information from the study of Sanskrit respecting their origin, manners, customs and language.”

Suggested Links:

1. Rivers and Mountains of Hungary


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