In the Bible names of remote and ancient countries include Sheba, Ramaah, Haran, Canneh, Eden, Chilmad etc. These names are unmistakably Sanskritic. Though there are towns and places that even today bear the same names (mainly in the central Asian region), it is unknown whether these present day towns are identical with the towns of antiquity mentioned in the Bible. The history and the etymology of the names of these towns (whether ancient or present) is unknown and the scriptures provide no clear pointers that can help unravel the mystery. In general the assumption is that the origin of these names must emerge from the languages of the civilizations that lie in the region of Canaan (Israel, Syria, Lebanon) and Mesopotamia. 

However many researchers have differed and questioned this assumption – mainly because the languages and culture of this region have not been able to either decode the meaning of these names or provide any cultural context from which these names could have been derived.  Scholars are of the view that these names stem from names of characters and idols that belonged to a time more ancient, and to civilizations that were geographically distant, from the location and setting of the Bible. The names must therefore be traced to a massive civilization which preceded the Biblical times and was large enough to have its impact and influence way beyond its geography. These names, because they are Sanskritic, point in the direction of India and the Indus Valley.

In the Journal of Asiatic Researches, Vol 8, the writer states,”The oriental Sheba is understood to be Malabar, and is so laid down in some ancient maps of the geography of Scriptures. Raamah may with equal probability be the same with the coast of Coromandel extending from Ramancor near the island of Ceylon, so named from Rama, an idol of the Indians. It is off these coasts that they fish for pearls and obtain coral, which later in Hebrew is called Rammoth. Chilmad is explained as Karmana in the Greek texts and in the maps Carmania, situated on the north-east of the gulf of Ormus. The country called Eden must mean some part of India, celebrated as the garden of the world, situated amongst the finest rivers, and abounding with everything rich and luxuriant”.

In his book ‘History and Chronology of a Myth-making world’, author J. F. Hewitt states about the Sabeans who were the people of Sheba who had originated from India and settled in the Arabia before they migrated to the Euphrates valley, “These Sabeans were not in ancient times as they are now, merely artisans and traders of the Euphrates valley. They were formerly the rulers of southern Arabia called Seba……they are the people called in Genesis 10.7  the sons of Raamah or Raghma, the Indian god….”

The author in the Journal of Asiatic Researches links the name Canneh with an area on the Gandak river flowing from Nepal towards Patna; the river is known for ‘saligram’ or ‘shaligram’ stones which are known as Canneh in the Chaldee language. He states, “Canneh or Channeh seems to agree with the description of a country bordering on the river Gandica, which descends from the mountains on the north of Patna and discharges itself into the Ganges in that city which is famous for the remarkable stone flint, salagram; for Cannah signifies in Chaldee, vermiculi genus, a species …of the snail kind generated in the rocks, and which are indented and marked with the figure of the insect……”. Another possibility though is that Cannah may be a reference to the Hindu God Krishna, who is also commonly referred to as ‘Kanaah’ or ‘Kanan’.

The etymology of the name ‘Eden’ is unknown. The name Eden is equated with ‘delightful place’, only because in the Genesis Eden is described as a ‘delightful place somewhere in the east’.

Traditionally, the favored derivation of the name ‘Eden’ was from the Akkadian edinnu. Edinnu is itself derived from a Sumerian word meaning ‘plain’ or ‘steppe’. In Sanskrit ‘edhini’ (एधिनि) simply means ‘earth’ – and probably best fits into the meaning of the verse. As far as Haran is concerned, Haran is another name of Lord Shiva.

There is a Haran which was located near the Turkish- Syrian border in the middle of an arid plain, and is said to be one of the oldest Mesopotamian settlements. But where did it get its name from? Excavations in Haran have revealed a large mud-brick building which dates to the end of the 3rd millennium BC. It is thought this might be the predecessor to the temple of the Sumerian and Mesopotamian Moon-God Sin.

The insignia of the Moon God Sin bears a remarkable likeness to that of the Vedic God Shiva. In fact, Shiva is also known as Som-nath (सोमनाथ) which means ‘Lord of the Moon’. Shiva’s insignia includes the crescent moon and the bull called ‘Vrishabha’ or ‘Nandi’ who was the vehicle of Lord Shiva.

The earliest known form of the name ‘Sin’ is ‘Suen’ which may well be a distortion of the Sanskrit ‘Shivam’ – the name of the Vedic Moon God. In any case ‘Haran’ (हरन), is another name for Lord Shiva.

There is much debate on the origins of the name Canan, its etymology is unknown, but to those who are familiar with the Mahabharata it is obvious that the name Canan is a distortion of ‘Kanha’, considering that rivers that still go by the name of ‘Kishon‘ and ‘Narbata‘ flow in Israel, towns by the names Ramah and Ramathiam and Canan and Gitta still exist in Israel, and the memory of Baal refuses to fade away. In the Canaanite pantheon. Prof. P. N. Oak has argued that Baal is none other than Baleshwara or Sri Krishna and that the Canaans were the people of Kanha or Sri Krishna. 

No matter where these Biblical cities were situated, their names indicate that they were heavily influenced by Sanskrit and the culture of India. For more on the Indian influence on Haran and Eden click here and here.

Ancient Haran, located north of Euphrates River.
Haran is another name of Vedic God Shiva.
Sanskritic names on the map include a town
by the name ‘Nagar’ – Sanskrit for ‘town’
Insignia of the Moon God ‘Sin’
of Haran. Notice the crossed-legged posture akin to
yogic semi-Padmasana of Shiva, the crescent moon
and the bulls which were the vehicles of the moon-god ‘Sin’.

Suggested readings:
1.The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Miscellany,
Volume VIII
2. History and Chronology of the Myth-Making Age by J.F. Hewitt

3. Black pepper: Piper Nigrum edited by P.N. Ravindran


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