Romuva or Romowe was a pagan temple in western part of Sambia, one of the regions of pagan Prussia. The temple, central to Prussian mythology, was mentioned once by Peter von Dusburg (a Priest Brother and Chronicler from 14th century) in 1326. According to his account, Kriwe, the chief priest or the “pagan pope”, lived at Romuva and ruled over the religion of all the Balts. The Lithuanian neo-pagan movement Romuva borrowed its name from the temple. 

A bit about the etymology of the names mentioned above.The terms Romuva, Romovė and Ruomuva are said to have come from medieval written sources in East Prussia mentioning the pagan Baltic temple Romowe. The word has meanings of ‘temple’ and ‘sanctuary’, but, further, also ‘abode of inner peace’.The Baltic root ram-/rām-, has the meaning of ‘calm, serene, quiet’, stemming from the Proto-Indo-European *(e)remǝ-. But that surely is the same as the Sanskrit Sanskrit root-word ‘ram’ (रम्) which means ‘pleasing’ or ‘delightful’. Besides Sanskrit offers a scriptural collateral that no other culture or language does. Rama of course is the name of the Vedic Indian God-king. The ‘pagan priest’ of Romowe who was known as the Kriwe, also most likely the same as the Sanskrit ‘kartr’ (कर्तृ) or ‘priest’.

In their book ‘Religious Diversity in Post-Soviet Society edited by Ingo W Schröder and Dr Milda Alisauskiene, the authors make this comment about the Romuvan movement, “… there is one particular dimension of this Pagan movement that transcends strictly Lithuanian or Baltic cultural framework. There is a certain connection with Indian religion and culture that functions on several different levels of significance…”.

Lithuanian rivers have names which have obvious Sanskrit links. Even if these names have Proto-Indo-European links, Sanskrit is the only living language that can decode the meaning of these names.

For example, the river Instruch is known as Inster to the Lithuanians but Srutis to the Polish. Srutis is the same as the Sanskrit ‘sruti’ (स्रुति) or ‘stream, outflow. Then there is the Neman, also called the Nemuna or Nemunas- which is the longest river in Lithuania

The etymology of the name is much disputed: some say that ‘Nemunas’ is an old word meaning ‘a damp place’,while others that it is ‘mute, soundless river’ (from nemti, nėmti ‘to become silent’, also memelis, mimelis, mėmė ‘mumber, gawk’). But to anyone with some idea about the link between Indian and Lithuanian culture, it is obvious that Nemuna represents on the Lithuanian geography none other than the river Yamuna. This is not a surprise considering that the name Yamuna also occurs in various avatars in place names of ancient cultures – such as the town of Jamnia on river Jamnia that flows into the Jamnia Harbour in the land of Canaan (ancient Israel). 

The Nemunas is the largest river in Lithuania
Its name is a variation of Yamuna.
On it banks lie towns with Sanskritic names such as
Punia, Karmelava, Ramuciai, Dainava! 

The Nemuna in its lower reaches forms the border between Lithuania and Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast. There is no real known reason why Kaliningrad is known by that name, but once again those familiar with Indian scriptures know that Yamuna, the river on the backdrop of which Sri Krishna’s life unfolds, is also known as Kalindi. 

The second longest river in Lithuania is Neris, ‘nira’ (नीर) is ‘water’ in Sanskrit.  Old and new town names in Lithunia reveal their direct and indirect links to Vedic culture and the Sanskrit language. An ancient town which was referred to as Mitau up until 1917 was given the name Jelgava, which the Lithuanian believe to be derived from the Livonian word ‘jalgab’ meaning ‘town on the river.’ But ‘Jalgram is Sanskrit for ‘town on the river’ – ‘jalgab’ is obviously its variation. 

Yet another river is known as the Jagla. Jagla  seems to be a variation of Jilga or Jalga. Jilga or Jalga was the ancient name of the river Volga. The etymology of Volga as proposed by the linguist Trubetzkoy — in his lectures at the University of Vienna — was as follows: “In primitive eastern Slavic, unrounded front vowels changed into rounded back vowels before a tauto-syllabic l, so that jilga must have changed to julga; the initial j was lost before rounded vowels in eastern Slavic, and the initial u acquired an obligatory prothetic v. Thus the form vulga arose, and short u changed in the 12th-13th centuries into o. So through a long series of changes Jilga became Volga.” Julga, the most ancient form of the name of Volga- is Sanskrit. Jula or Jala is water, ga – that which flows. Like the Ganga – which means ‘swift flowing’. There is also a town by the name Gelgaudiskis just south of the river Nemuna!!

Then there are in Lithuania towns by the
name Trikai, Kursenai, Radhikiai and Varena – which seem to be variations of the names of Trikal, Krishna, Radha and Varuna. Much like the Vedic culture, the Romuvan festivals include the celebration of the winter and summer solstices.

It is suggested that name of Baltic Sea into which the Nemunas falls on the west coast of Lithuania originates from the Proto-Indo-European root *bhel meaning white, fair which is the same as Sanskrit ‘balaksh’ (बलक्ष) or white. The Baltic Sea was known as Mare Suebicum or Mare Sarmaticum up until 11th century. Tacitus, a Roman historian of the 1st century, in his work ‘Agricola and Germania’, dated to 98 AD, stated that Mare Suebicum was named for the Suebi or Suevi tribe (Suevi translates as ‘our own people’ in the Baltic culture) – a large group of people who lived in Germania that were first mentioned by Julius Caesar. Etymologists trace the name Suevi from the Indo-European root ‘swe’, which is the same as the Sanskrit ‘sva’ (स्व) meaning ‘self’.

Suggested Readings:

Remnants of a Vedic-Hindu culture in Lithuania
Ancient Lithuanian Mythology
Religious Diversity in Post-Soviet Society
Indian Influence on ancient Lithuania
Lithuanian Mythology and Folklore


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