Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren (1760- 1842) was a German historian. Heeren’s primary talent lay in historical research. His books Politics, Trade, and Commerce in the Ancient World (1796); History of Ancient Civilizations (1799) and History of European States and their Colonies (1809) all met with overwhelming reception when they were first published.

In his researches on the pre-Greek civilization of Greece which was then inhabited by a race called the Pelasgi, Heeran states, “We can distinctly trace an overland communication between India & Greece, at an age long before the historic period.” Heeran quotes Baron Cuvier here, “The Pelasgi were originally from India, of which the Sanskrit roots that occur abundantly in their language do not permit us to doubt.” Baron Cuvier traces the route that the early Indians might have taken to Greece. He was of the opinion that, “.. they by crossing the mountains of Persia penetrated as far back as the Caucasus and then from there instead of continuing by land, they embarked on the Euxine Sea and made a descent upon the coast of Greece.” *

In ‘A Classical Dictionary: Containing a Copious Account of All the Proper Names’, author John Lemprière states, “…the name Pelasgi was never assumed by them, but was given to them by the Greeks. They called themselves Raseni, or rather Tyrseni. The name Palesgi was applied to them in familiar language by the Greeks…. Before they fixed themselves permanently in Greece they would appear and disappear from the land at stated and regular intervals…”.

All the Pelasgic colonies which established themselves among the early Greeks, brought with them the elements of civilization and the arts and also the use of letters. The Pelasgi are acknowledged , moreover to have been the founders of theology of the Greeks. “They established an oracle at Dedona, they instituted the mysteries of the Cabiri…in a word, everything connected with them tends strongly to confirm the belief that they were a sacerdotal race, a caste of priests.” [For more about the India connect to the Oracle of Dodona click here.

Says Lampriere, “It has (been) established, from an examination of the scattered fragments of early history , the intimate connection which once subsisted between the east and the west. The earliest monuments which the geography, the antiquities, the mythology, the architecture, and the religious systems of the most remote times afford, clearly indicate that in a very remote period colonies of priests from northern India, with the worship of Buddha, spread themselves over the countries along the Phasis, on the Euxine, in Thrace, along the Danube, over many parts of western Europe, and even through the whole of Greece. The Pelasgi evidently were a colony or race of this kind.” *

Lampriere was spot on with his analysis. Raseni is the same as Tyrseni with the first syllable dropped. The prefix Tyr in the name Tyrseni derives from the Buddhist ‘Thervada‘, one of the two major sects of Buddhism. In antiquity, and during the times of Ashoka the Great, the Thervada Buddhist monks travelled from India in all directions, taking with them and spreading not only the elements of the Sanskrit language, but also the arts, architecture, medicines and the culture of India.

According to Edicts of Ashoka (304-272 BC), Greek populations, generally described in ancient times throughout the Classical world as Yona, Yojanas, Yavanas, or ‘Ionians’ were under his rule in northwestern India:

Here in the king’s domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions in Dhamma.
                                   — S. Dhammika, Edicts of Ashoka, Rock Edict No. 13

Far from just being on the receiving end of conversion to Buddhism, the treatise Mahavamsa indicates that Greeks took an active role in spreading the Buddhist faith as emissaries of Ashoka. These Greek missionaries appear in the list of the ‘elders’, or Sanskrit ‘sthavira’, distorted in Pali to ‘thera’, sent far and wide by Emperor Ashoka.

John Lemprière does find reason enough to believe that the prefix Tyr in Tyrseni is somehow connected to sacred priests and to Buddhism, but he was unable to zero-in on the Thervada Buddhist monks. He quotes the works of Ritter and makes this observation: “As regards the first part of the name Tyrseni, namely the syllable Tyr, it is curious to compare with it the remark of Ritter, who after a long examination of the subject arrives at the conclusion…that the syllable Thyr …was a religious appellative. Such for example are the names of the Idanthrsi, Thyrsagetos, Thyssagetae, Thyrsi etc.” All the above names contain the syllable ‘Thyr’, either as a suffix or prefix, and are all the names of ancient tribes that dwelt in Greece.

Lemprierie quotes the authors of the Etymology Magazine and says that those authors clearly state that when the Greeks referred to the Tyrseni people as Pelasgi they were referring to the ‘fine linen robes’ that the Tyrsent wore. The Greeks were referring to the robes that the Pelasgi wore, who in reality were none other than the Buddhist Thervada monks. With time they came to be known as the Idanthrisi, Thyrsagetos, Thyssagetae, Thyrsi etc. As mentioned above, in the times of Ashoka Thervada monks travelled in all directions spreading the word of the Buddha. There also was an exodus of Buddhist monks from India in later times when Buddhism declined in India.

In fact Zacharias P. Thundy, Professor Emiretus of the Northern Michigan University made the observation that the word ‘Therapeutae’ itself arises from the Sanskrit/Pali word ‘Thervada’ which means ‘Elder’. He says, “Therapeuta is the Hellenization of the Sanskrit/Pali word ‘Thervada’; they were probably the successors of the missionaries whom Emperor Ashoka sent to Egypt, to the kingdom of Ptolemy in the 3rd century as Thervada medical missionaries. Greek, which does not have have corresponding sounds for the labio-dental ‘v’ and the apico-dental ‘d’, changed the Indian v & d to p & t …..” Hence, ‘thervada’ changed to ‘therapeuta’.

Heeran had made the observation that the Indo-European languages extended from India to Europe and was spoken in countries lying between the Paroparmisan chain and the Euphrates river that is Ariana, Persia, Media, Armenia and Asia Minor. It is more than likely that the root words of Sanskrit that appear in some form or the other in all these languages do so for a reason and the artificial Proto-Indo-European is just the reverse engineering of Sanskrit.

Herodotus had clearly stated all intermediate languages spoken in this region including the Zend and Persian, Armenian and Ossete, all have the same structure and etymology. He also observed that when the Medes ruled Asia Minor, they were referred to as Arii, which was a distorted for of the Sanskrit ‘arya’ which translates as ‘noble’ and was a title of honour.

* – [As quoted in ‘The Athenaeum, Issues 271-322’edited by James Silk Buckingham, John Sterling, Frederick Denison Maurice, Henry Stebbing, Charles Wentworth Dilke, Thomas Kibble Hervey, William Hepworth Dixon, Norman Maccoll, Vernon Horace Rendall, John Middleton Murry].

Suggested Readings:

1. The Athenaeum- Journal of Literature, Science and Fine Arts, Issues 271-322, (1833) edited by James Silk Buckingham, John Sterling, Frederick Denison Maurice, Henry Stebbing, Charles Wentworth Dilke, Thomas Kibble Hervey, William Hepworth Dixon, Norman Maccoll, Vernon Horace Rendall, John Middleton Murry

2. A Classical Dictionary: Containing a Co[pious Amount of all the Proper Names mentioned in ancient authors” by J. Lampriere


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